How does Chiropractic Work?
The main aim of Chiropractic is to assess, diagnose and treat neuromusculoskeletal dysfunction occuring along the length of the spine or in the limbs.
The main focus of Chiropractic is the spine, however many Chiropractors treat the upper and lower limbs as well. Assessment focuses on evaluating the nerves, muscles and joints in the area to ensure proper functioning and screen for injury or dysfunction.
Once a diagnosis is made, Chiropractic treatment aims to:
- Restore normal healthy range of motion within the joints, using manual and assisted joint manipulations
- Stretch short tight muscles and eliminate spasm
- Strengthen long weak muscles
- Treat any injured tissues using various soft tissue techniques
- Provide rehabilitation advice for long lasting relief and to help prevent re-injuries
What causes Neuromusculoskeletal conditions?
Your nerves, muscles and joints all function together in order to allow for normal healthy movement. Injury or dysfunction in any one of these systems will therefore likely affect the other systems as well. Most neuromusculoskeletal conditions are caused by repetitive strain from unhealthy daily postural or movement patterns, other causes include:
- Injury- Falls, Motor Car Accidents, Sports Injuries
- Degeneration- Wear and Tear
- Sendentary Lifestyle- Lack of Movement
- Other Pathologies that directly affect the various systems
What makes the “popping” sound when I get an Adjustment?
The Chiropractic “adjustment”, refers to the specific manipulation Chiropractors apply to vertebrae or extremity joints that have abnormal movement patterns or functionality. During an adjustment a Chiropractor uses their hands or a device to apply a controlled, sudden force to a joint, moving it beyond its passive range of motion. This is often associated with an audible “pop” or “crack” due to a release of gas within the joints, which relieves joint pressure. The goal of the adjustment is to increase the range and quality of motion in the area being treated, and the success is not dependent on the popping sound (some joints don’t pop).
What is a “Slipped” Disc?
Since discs don’t actually “slip” out of place, a better term for this condition is a herniated or prolapsed disc. Your discs lie between the bones of your back and act as shock absorbing cushions in your spine. Like onions (and Shrek), discs too have layers! They are composed of a fluid-like center surrounded by layers and layers of fibrous tissue. Disc herniations occur due to tears in these fibrous layers which cause the fluid-like center to seep through and bulge outward into the neural canal (Kind of like how a marshmallow between two marie biscuits bulges outwards when making smors). This bulge can put pressure on the spinal cord or nerve roots and cause back and neck pain with or without weakness, numbness, or tingling into the arm or leg. This is very rarely a surgical condition and usually responds well to Chiropractic treatment.
What is Sciatica?
True Sciatica is caused by pinching of or pressure on the sciatic nerve; either at the root or somewhere along it’s course. The medical term for this is called “Lumbar radiculopathy”.The impingement of this nerve leads to pain, numbness and sometimes weakness which can be felt along its course; which is why you can feel these symptoms all the way down into your ankle! The most common cause of sciatica is a disc herniation in your lower back. “Inflammatory soup” caused by disc degeneration can also accumulate and put pressure on the nerve root causing the same pattern of symptoms. Generally Sciatica only occurs on one side of the body and is described as a sharp shooting/searing sensation from the buttock down the leg; that may include a combination of leg and foot numbness, tingling and weakness.
It is important to remember that sciatica describes a symptom of an underlying cause.
Other conditions which can cause pain in the same distribution include sacroiliac inflammation and trigger points in the gluteal muscles.
What are other causes of Lower Back Pain?
The causes of back pain are many, and range from congenital abnormalities (such as scoliosis) to injury or trauma to repetitive strain injuries from chronic poor postural habits to degeneration associated with wear and tear changes.
Common causes of back pain include:
- Bulging or herniated discs
- Degenerative changes in the discs and vertebrae
- Spinal stenosis
- Sciatica or pinched nerve
- Sacroiliac joint inflammation
- Facet Joint inflammation
- Muscle Strains and Ligament sprains
- Trigger points in muscles
- Poor core strength and instability
There are many other conditions which can contribute to back pain and a thorough assessment is required to rule out organic causes which can refer pain to the back.
What is Sacroiliac Joint Pain?
Inflammation in the sacroiliac (SI) joint can cause pain in the low back or buttocks. This pain often radiates into the leg, and can mimic sciatica. SI joint pain is commonly associated with tightness in the Piriformis muscle in the buttock and responds well to manual therapy.
What is Facet Joint Pain?
Facet Joints are the joints connecting each vertebra to the vertebrae above and below from your neck right down to the base of your lower back. They allow for the various movements of the spine such as bending forward and backward, side to side and rotary movements. The specific orientation of these joints allow and restrict different movement in specific planes depending on the region of the spine. For example, the facet joints in the neck allow for more rotation than the facet joints in your lower back. Sudden compressive or traction forces on these joints can cause locking or inflammation of the joints themselves or their capsules resulting in pain which can be local or referred up or down the spine.
What causes numbness and the tingling in the arms and legs?
Pain or a ‘pins and needles’ sensation can sometimes be present in the arms, hands, legs, or feet. There are many conditions that cause these symptoms, including:
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
- Peripheral Nerve Damage
- Various Nerve Impingement Syndromes
- Herniated Discs
Depending on the cause and the extent of nerve irritation/damage, these conditions can often be successfully treated with Chiropractic and other manual therapies.
What are Trigger Points?
Trigger points are focused areas of small muscle fiber contraction knots. They can be felt as knots or thick ropey areas in muscles; and are caused due to increased areas of muscle stress and neuro-muscular dysfunction. Trigger points are significant in that they highlight muscle imbalances and over-loading and are involved in the production and maintenance of the pain cycle.
How does Dry Needling work?
Dry Needling is the practice of inserting thin needles filaments directly into trigger points in muscles. The needles cause pain inhibiting neuro-chemicals, such as Endorphins and Corticosteroids to be released, and mobilises the immune system to bring white blood cells to the injured area to assist in the healing process. Red blood cells carrying oxygen and nutrients also flow to the site as part of the inflammatory response. When a needle is inserted into a tense muscle, the painful sensation causes the nervous system to send feedback to the muscle to inhibit or stop its spasm.
It is via these physiological and neurological processes that needling is able to initiate perfusion of the muscles containing trigger points and relieve pain and spasm. It is important to remember that trigger points are a symptom of neuromuscular dysfunction and muscle stress which must be addressed as the underlying cause in order to prevent reoccurance.
Are Chiropractors Opposed to Medical Treatment?
Chiropractors undergo 6 years of intensive training and are aware that there are many things that can cause pain in the body. The primary goal is to get you better, and your assessment and diagnosis will reveal if Chiropractic is appropriate for your specific condition. There are some cases where medication or surgery is indicated, in such cases your Chiropractor will inform you and discuss your treatment options with you before reffering you to the appropriate physician.
Will Medical Aid Pay for Chiropractic Care?
Most medical aids provide reimbursement for Chiropractic care, however this is dependent on each persons payment plan and benefits. The easiest way to find out if you are covered is to contact your medical aid and ask them if Chiropractic care is covered by your plan. Chiro Dynamics is NOT contracted into medical aid, however after your account has been settled, you can submit your statement to your medical aid for reimbursement.