Maybe you’ve heard about chiropractic care through a friend or did some research online. Maybe you’re just tired of living in pain. If going to the chiropractor is a new experience for you, don’t worry! We’re here to help you shed your pain and get back on your feet. Your first visit to our practice will be about getting to know your chiropractor, and a chance for us to get to know you!
Appointments at our office typically begin with a bit of paperwork, as you no doubt would expect. Your skilled chiropractor will perform a physical examination, and take any necessary x-rays to learn more about the cause of your pain. We’ll also discuss your current condition and your goals.
We will take a look at the overall results, and, together, come up with a plan of action specifically for you. We will talk about the type of treatment you will be receiving, any preparation necessary before beginning treatment, and when you can expect to see results. We will also discuss any lifestyle changes that may help you with your goals. As your partner in improving your health, your chiropractor will be with you every step of the way during your treatment.
What Causes My Pain?
Pain can be caused by a number of factors from injuries to normal effects of aging. Many people across the country have pain associated with herniated discs, bulging discs, facet syndrome, degenerative joint disease, pinched nerves, and other spinal afflictions.
The nervous system is the most important of all the body systems and it controls all of the other body systems. The spinal cord is protected by the bony vertebra and between each vertebra are soft discs with a ligamentous outer layer. These discs function as shock absorbers to protect the vertebral bodies, spinal joints, spinal cord and maintain boundaries for exiting nerve roots.
Many of the problems that cause back and neck pain are the result of disc herniation or degeneration of the disc caused by: sports injuries, auto accidents, work related incidents or cumulative work trauma, and especially daily physical stress from gravity itself.
Laying the Foundation
The ancient Japanese art form of growing Bonsai trees is fascinating. Bonsai trees are essentially normal shrubs that have been consistently stressed in a particular way for a long time to create a posture which would never be found in nature. Depending on how the tree is stressed while it grows, it may end up looking like a miniature version of a full-sized tree, or it may end up looking like a wild tangle of branches with twists and loops. To most people, "good posture" simply means sitting and standing up straight. Few of us realize the importance of posture to our health and performance.
The human body craves alignment. When we are properly aligned, our bones, not our muscles, support our weight, reducing effort and strain. The big payoff with proper posture is that we feel healthier, have more energy, and move gracefully. So while the word "posture" may conjure up images of book-balancing charm-school girls, it is not just about standing up straight. It's about being aware of and connected to every part of your body.
Posture ranks right up at the top of the list when you are talking about good health. It is as important as eating right, exercising, getting proper rest. Good posture is a way of doing things with more energy, less stress and fatigue. With poor posture you can actually damage your spine every time you exercise.
Ideally, our bones stack up one upon the other: the head rests directly on top of the spine, which sits directly over the pelvis, which sits directly over the knees and ankles. But if you spend hours every day sitting in a chair, if you hunch forward or balance your weight primarily on one leg, the muscles of your neck and back have to carry the weight of the body rather than it being supported by the spine. The resulting tension and joint pressure can affect you not only physically, but emotionally, too, -- from the predictable shoulder and back pain to headaches, short attention span, and depression.
Poor posture distorts the alignment of bones, chronically tenses muscles, and contributes to stressful conditions such as loss of vital lung capacity, increased fatigue, reduced blood and oxygen to the brain, limited range of motion, stiffness of joints, pain syndromes, reduced mental alertness, and decreased productivity at work. According to the Nobel Laureate Dr. Roger Sperry, "the more mechanically distorted a person is, the less energy is available for thinking, metabolism, and healing."
Getting Muscles on Board
Strong muscles keep your body upright and allow you to move. Good muscle strength and balance are critical to maintain proper posture and minimize muscle tension. Your muscles function much like the wires that hold up a tall radio or television antenna. If the wires are equally strong on all sides, the antenna will stand up straight. If one of the wires becomes weak or breaks, the antenna will either lean to the side or collapse. The same is true with your body. If the muscles on all sides of your spine are balanced and strong, your body will stand up straight and strong.
Muscles are very efficient at getting stronger or weaker in response to the demands placed on them. Since most of us sit at a desk, drive a car, and sit on the sofa at home, many of our muscles are not challenged. Consequently, they become weak. At the same time, the muscles that are constantly used throughout the day become strong. This imbalance of muscle strength contributes to poor posture and chronic muscle tension. Left unchecked, muscle imbalances tend to get worse, not better, because of a phenomenon called "reciprocal inhibition."
Reciprocal inhibition literally means "shutting down the opposite." For all of the muscles that move your body in one direction, there are opposing muscles that move the body in the opposite direction. In order to keep these muscles from working against each other, when the body contracts one muscle group, it forces the opposing group to relax -- it shuts down the opposite muscles. When consistently only one set of muscles is used, the opposing group, from being continuously shut-down, is liable to atrophy.
This phenomenon is especially important to people who work at a desk, because all day long the same muscles in the upper back and chest area of the body are used. This means that all day long the body is essentially shutting down the opposite muscles in the middle back. Over time, the muscles in the middle back become very weak because they are not being worked like the muscles in the front. This contributes to poor posture and chronic muscle spasms and pain. The easiest way to correct this imbalance is to do specific exercises which will increase the strength of the back muscles, along with manual therapy and chiropractic care.
Phases of Care
Phase I: Relief Care
If you are in pain when you come into our office, the first objective is to help you feel better. Depending on the severity of your problem, it is typical to need care 2-3 times per week for 4-12 weeks.
Phase II: Corrective/Restorative Care
During the corrective care phase, muscles and other tissues are allowed to heal more completely, thereby helping prevent injury. It is typical to need care 4-8 times per month for 6-24 months, depending on your overall health and the severity of your problem
Phase III: Wellness Care
Once your body has fully healed, it is important to come in for periodic adjustments to avoid problems in the future. Usually, this only requires a quick visit to the chiropractor 1-4 times per month, based on your lifestyle and goals.