Before printing a list of diagnoses that chiropractic treats it would first be beneficial to state that chiropractors only treat joints, muscles and soft tissue. The reason I wish to make this clear is that many problems can be caused by failure or dysfunction of these systems. So it would be futile to publish a long list of things without first stating that many diagnosable entities such as tennis elbow, headache or sciatica are probably the culmination of a series of failures that have never been properly addressed and it is only when they have become a recognisable problem that they end up on the chiropractors couch.
In other words if you have a pain in your back or your buttock and it goes maybe it will come back in years to come but by then it will be a bigger problem than it originally was.
80% of us will suffer from low back pain during our lives and for the most part it is caused by either stressing our backs due to over exertion. This is particularly the case in people who lead a sedentary life and sit at a desk all day and then make unkind demands on their backs at the weekend or suddenly take some exercise.
Acute back pain and the stiffness associated with it can come from any part of the pain sensitive structures in the back. These include the joints, muscles, discs and ligaments. You may experience pain only in the low back or it can radiate from the back down towards the buttock, hips and legs. What happens in the spine is there is a reduction in the movement between two or more spinal segments, muscle spasm develops and occasionally there can be a disc injury. Often the muscles around the spine, buttocks and hips are tight. If this occurs in your mid back (thoracic region) you can even experience difficulty breathing.
Most acute back pain is not caused by anything specific but often occurs from a build up of multiple stresses on the spine from our daily activities, then suddenly we just bend down to tie our shoelaces and we get sudden, severe back pain. It is often associated with lifting or bending down.
In the beginning of an acute back problem often pain is felt in all directions of movement. As the pain subsides it is often felt on specific movements such as bending forward or getting up from a sitting position. It is best to find a position of comfort; this is often walking on a flat surface or lying down on your back with your ankles resting on a chair.
It is important that the reason behind the problem gets treated otherwise the acute back pain can return quickly and the back will not return to its original function. A chiropractor can both reduce the pain and allow for the body to function as normal. When one does suffer from acute back pain it is important that one tries to keep moving. Movement is important for the healing process and can help prevent associated muscle tightness and stiffness developing. Bed rest and inactivity worsen the condition further.
Rehabilitation is extremely important once your back has been corrected. A specific exercise program including core strengthening and stabilisation is vital to return to normal function and prevent the likelihood of recurrence.
Your acute back pain can also be caused by other conditions and if your chiropractor thinks they cannot help you they will refer you onto the appropriate person so further investigations can be carried out.
A new comprehensive clinical practice guideline from the American College of Physicians titled Diagnosis and Treatment of Low Back Pain and published in the Annals of Internal Medicine October 2007 marks a historic point when North American medical and chiropractic guidelines with respect to back pain are fundamentally the same. Spinal manipulation has been found to be superior to other types of treatment such as drugs, exercise and advice demonstrating the effectiveness of chiropractic treatment.
Some interesting facts of research:
- For acute low back pain (an episode of pain for less than four weeks) spinal manipulation (which chiropractors are highly specialised in) is the only non-drug treatment with proven effectiveness and recommended.
- There is good evidence that spinal manipulation and spinal mobilisation (both of which chiropractors are experts in) is superior to usual medical care for patient improvement.
- There are now more randomised controlled trials examining spinal manipulative therapy (SMT) for low back pain than any other intervention.
- SMT and mobilisation are superior to physical therapy and to home exercises in the long-term.
- Chiropractic management is a non-invasive, cost effective treatment approach for patients with chronic low back pain.
- One of the benefits of spinal manipulation (administered by providers with appropriate training) is its safety.
Neck pain can be sudden pain and stiffness that you just wake up with or a pain that is just there all the time in the neck. Often it occurs suddenly and we just can’t turn the head one way or both. Sudden neck pain can occur in everyday situations without warning. It is good to go to a chiropractor if you have neck pain as it can be successfully treated. Often the problem occurs due to locking in the facet joints of the neck and a chiropractic treatment often gives excellent results.
There are many reasons for acute or chronic neck pain. There is often an association with a poor ergonomic work station especially computer work, a bad sleep position, wrong mattress or pillow or it can happen when one has sat in a draught such as in the car or beside air conditioning. Neck pain is also commonly associated with stress or other physiological problems which cause muscular tightness, stiffness and pain.
It is most common that the joints or vertebrae in the neck become locked and the surrounding muscles tighten. This can cause irritation and sometimes swelling, pain can then refer from the neck to other parts of the body most often the shoulder and arm with headaches being a common associated symptom. When you then try to turn your head it is often too painful or not possible.
However, there is help at hand. Sudden or chronic neck problems are one of the most common reasons people seek help from a chiropractor. Chiropractic treatment which involves specific adjustments to locked joints provides a quick, precise movement into the locked joint, allowing the joint to move freely again. Lighter techniques such as stretching and acupressure to the muscles are also combined into the treatment.
Here are a few tips that can help reduce the risk of neck problems:
- Look at your work station: sit straight and rest your arms and hands comfortably on an arm rest or table. If you sit in front of a computer a lot then your computer should be directly in front of you at eye level.
- Bed and Pillow: buy a comfortable pillow that allows your neck to be supported when you sleep, the neck should be level with your spine not tilting up or down. Invest in a good quality mattress.
- Sleep position: do not sleep on your front.
- Training: movement and training are always important for preventing musculoskeletal problems, however wrong training positions can also be the cause of neck pain. A chiropractor can give you advice on what not to do and exercises that can strengthen up the neck muscles.
When one has experienced neck pain it is often in their interest to prevent it happening again. Chiropractic treatment is an excellent way to be pain free and allow the neck to function correctly again. Many people who have had chiropractic for previous neck problems continue chiropractic care regularly in order to minimise locking and stiffness in the neck before a problem becomes acute. This prevents any unnecessary suffering.
Even children can get neck problems, it is often associated with carrying bags or virus infections, and even though it is not dangerous it can be a good idea to go to a chiropractor for an examination.
Why do we get sciatica?
Sciatica is actually a sign that you have an underlying problem, and there are several causes:
- Disc herniation
- Degenerative disc disease: normal aging affects the disc shape and function and can result in a herniated disc and pain
- Piriformis syndrome: the sciatic nerve runs under the piriformis muscle so muscle tightness or spasm in the piriformis muscle can compress the sciatic nerve.
- Pregnancy: the extra weight and pressure on your spine can cause compression of the sciatic nerve.
- Spinal stenosis: your nerves travel through spaces in your spine and these spaces can narrow (stenosis) significantly so that it puts pressure on the nerves in your low back.
- Trauma: you can injure the sciatic nerve through a car accident or other trauma such as a skiing or horse-riding accident.
- “The Wallet Syndrome”: men typically put their wallets in their back trouser pocket which can then compress the sciatic nerve when they sit down.
How does one get sciatica?
Sometimes we can relate it to a specific event such as a car accident; however it is more commonly the result of repetitive minor events which have an accumulative effect. Years of bad posture, poor work ergonomics, improper lifting and bending, poor muscle tone, excess weight and many others causes all lead to minor damage. Then all of a sudden when we do a daily task such as bending over to tie ones shoes we get a severe back pain and can barely straighten up again. Spinal degeneration can also cause sciatica due to the arthritic changes that occur on the vertebrae called osteophytes which compromise the space normally framing the nerve.
There is a growing use and acceptance of chiropractors by sports people. Many Premiership football clubs and athletes now seek the use of a chiropractor and many would not be without one.
Sports Chiropractors who have taken the International Chiropractic Sports Science Diploma are eligible to treat elite athletes and some are involved in the training regimes, rehabilitation as well as merely treating the athlete for injury. More importantly treating before a competition or match may well reduce the risk of injury. If your joints, nerves and muscles are working properly not only will you perform better but you are less likely to stress other parts of your body that might end up being injured.
When a joint is injured, be it a spinal joint or an elbow or a foot, three things happen;
- the joint does not work properly
- the nerve associated with that joint does not work properly
- a muscle, usually associated with that joint, does not work properly.
This triumvirate of dysfunction does not necessarily have to cause pain but it does change the way your body works. This can put stress on other structures which then may injure or fail and it is also possible to pull the tight, dysfunctional muscle.
If you think about how you could pull a hamstring when running it should be virtually impossible. To pull it you would need to pull your foot past your head and that does not happen when running. So how does it happen? A joint in the back has caused the hamstring to tighten and weaken so now as you put it under presssure instead of being able to relax and contract it just contracts and then it pulls.
Having your back checked before an event may well prevent catastrophic injuries occurring and also if your body is functioning at 100% you should perform better too.
We have successfully treated shin splints, hamstring pulls, painful shoulders and many other simple niggles and pains just by treating the spine.
Below is an article about Jean‑Pierre Meersseman who heads up the medical facility at AC Milan. You can see that his approach to treating footballers and other athletes is clearly paying off. This approach is similar to what we do at the clinic.
Third‑millenium chiropractic: A tour of theMilanLab
by Carl Lundgren, DC andYannick Pauli,DC
In world soccer, A.C. Milan is a legend. Founded in 1899, A.C. Milan has long been among the world’s most successful soccer clubs. In its more than 100 years of existence, it has packed its trophy room with 16 Italian League Championships, 5 Italian League Cups, 4 League Supercups, 6 UEFA Champion League Cups, 3 Intercontinental Cups, 2 Winners’ Cups and 3 European Supercups. It is truly a step above your average team.
But for the chiropractor, A.C Milan’s peculiarity does not reside only in its impressive list of wins. What sets it apart is the amazing vision brought about and implemented by Jean‑Pierre Meersseman, DC, an internationally known chiropractor and practitioner of applied kinesiology.
Dr. Meersseman is the long‑time Medical Director of A.C Milan and has created a revolutionary model of health care management, injury prevention and performance enhancement. This model is based on the philosophy, science and art of chiropractic and has brought to the players of the team a tremendous competitive edge.
Meersseman’s clinical experience in chiropractic and applied kinesiology has allowed him to evaluate the function and performance abilities of the players in a way that was never possible with the previously applied medical models. Still, Dr. Meersseman realized that this purely empirical approach was not sufficient. The whole process had to become more scientific, reproducible and documented. So, with the help of Daniele Tognaccini, A.C Milan athletic coach, and Bruno Demichelis, a sport psychologist with a rare and refined understanding of chiropractic, Meersseman created the MilanLab.
Located in Milanello, the MilanLab is a high‑tech scientific research centre designed to optimise the players’ psycho‑social conditions, help them achieve and maintain top‑level athletic performance, help the medical staff predict injury and give the coach valuable support on each individual player’s performance capabilities.
The creation of MilanLab, like most innovations, caused a few waves. “Since our model is deeply rooted in the philosophy, art and science of chiropractic, the medical staff was quite closed to the idea when I first arrived,” recalls Meersseman. “So I had to fire the medical doctors who did not want to come onboard.”
Today, Meersseman ‑‑ whom everyone at A.C. Milan calls Professore, the Professor ‑‑ heads a medical staff of about 40 people, including medical doctors, physical therapists, athletic trainers, psychologists, nutritionist and two other full‑time chiropractors.
The results of MilanLab are impressive. Since the implementation of the project in 2002, the incidence of non‑traumatic injuries has dropped by 92%. “Before we implemented our holistically‑based chiropractic approach, we had so many injuries we needed about 35 players in the team. Today, we only require 22,” commented Meersseman. “There was a time when non‑traumatic injuries lead to the use about 7 injections per week. Last year, 4 injections were made for the entire year.”
This reduction in the rate of injury has brought a tremendous competitive edge to the players and dramatic savings to the Club. At this level, players cost millions of dollars, and injuries can be a tremendous economic burden to the club.
The core of MilanLab is a computerized system that is capable of evaluating the player’s condition and fitness, based on objective data, numbers and metrics. Every two weeks, data is collected from the mental, biochemical and structural domains through a series of testing circuits consisting of various pieces of scientific equipment. Among those are a quarter‑million‑dollar biomechanical analysis lab and various machines to evaluate neurological functions that range from electrovideonystagmography to neurofeedback. All the data are integrated into intelligent software programs and displayed on a highly‑user friendly graphic interface.
Each player then has a personal record created from the data, which can be used to design individual and specific preparation programs that range from physical training, to diet, and to mental optimisation.
The system is also designed to alert the medical staff to psycho‑physical indicators that may signal a risk situation. The staff can then design a plan to correct anomalous values and prevent injuries.
MilanLab is also equipped with an in‑house MRI machine, a high‑tech fitness centre, rehabilitative swimming pools, relaxation centre.
Chiropractic is at the core of the philosophy of health care in MilanLab. With a chiropractor as the head of the medical staff, the goal of care is to optimize the mental, physical, and bio‑chemical factors (Triune of Life) that are vital to player performance.
“Players are seen every day by the chiropractor,” Meersseman explains. “This allows us to prevent numerous injuries, while maximising the player’s performance. We apply chiropractic in a subluxation‑centered, wellness‑oriented perspective. We especially place a strong emphasis on the upper cervical area and applied kinesiology allows us integrate the biochemical and mental aspect of the triangle of health, as well as to respond to the specific needs of sports chiropractic.”
Having the privilege to visit MilanLab is an eye‑opening experience. Never before has the potential of chiropractic been so apparent. The integration of traditional chiropractic principles with high‑tech scientific technologies allows Meersseman and his team to bring the best of chiropractic to the best soccer players in the world.
Extremities includes shoulders, hands, wrists, elbows, knees and feet – anything that is not the spine.
These are just some of the things we treat
- Spraining your ankle
- A fall onto an outstretched arm
- Hitting your foot
- Spraining your wrist
- Texter’s Thumb
- Throwing Injuries
Having a properly working foot is as important as having a properly working spine. We have 25% of our bones in our feet and if you have any loss of foot joint function that can change the way you walk and upset your back.
If your knee is hurting it may well be because your hip or ankle are not working properly. If you do not treat the problem it is likely you will end up with arthritis of the knee and eventually need a replacement.
Shoulders are quite fragile joints because they are so mobile and any change to either the joint position or any of the 15 muscles that cross the shoulder can cause problems.
Difficulty flexing your wrist up or down? You probably need your carpal bones realigning.
Rather like the spine any loss of function can cause problems and chiropractic is all about restoring function. Then it works properly and doesn’t hurt.