This World Health Day I am taking some time to reflect on what I believe to be the greatest example in our time for why health is so important. I mean, the world has come to a standstill over this past year or so.
As an optimist I always look at what we can learn from the experience of the pandemic. If anything, I would love to see us all prioritise our health.
But what is “health”? The way I see it, health is measured by the ability of your body to heal. After all, the first 4 letters of health spell heal!
A lot of the time when you see these videos where some chiropractors are adjusting someone’s neck it looks very similar to some action movies. Let’s put things into perspective first.
When you are watching an action movie, you are watching actors. Those very same actors are still getting up from the floor at the end of the scene. So the movement that you see the actors create when they make a breaking neck action or move is still not enough to break their neck.
Of course no chiropractor’s intention is ever to break the neck. Also I don’t know how to break someone’s neck, it’s not what we learn and certainly I do not want to learn. That’s not what is important to me.
What is important is for me to learn how to adjust someone’s joints so that it’s actually correcting the function with optimal movement in those joints. The way that we do that is we spend a lot of time (several years) developing a skill called palpation.
Palpation is the ability to fill in a medical Healthcare context. you can really feel a lot of different subtle movements within the joints, within the body, within the movements of what’s going on when this is highly trained and practiced regularly, as I have done.
When you can feel that movement, remember this is on the back of having already gone through a full history and a full examination to determine two things: one what the condition is and two whether this person in front of us is going to be safe to have the treatment.
so we didn’t go through the impacts of those options as well done that when he goes through bringing movements for those joints it will be really for that sat on moving where there’s not enough range of movement in the joints as well
and we can tell that is just by this feel and I feel is palpation that a highly tuned sense of touch
sense sense of feeling at the moment I’m moving on not moving in this case and finding those joints and putting a movement through.
We spend several hours not just developing that sense of touch, along with studying tons of anatomy and physiology. what that means is as chiropractors we know what the normal ranges of movement are.
Now there are two things. One is the theoretical knowledge you gain from textbooks. secondly the hands-on experience we gain marrying up the theoretical knowledge with the practical information.
This means what we are doing is going up to the Natural ranges of movement and not passing the natural range of movement in that patient.
If you did go past the normal range of movement, that is what I imagine would be how you break someone’s neck.
That’s why it’s so difficult if you have gone through studying all the anatomy and physiology you’re taking a full case history of a patient performed a thorough examination and not ever learnt how to break somebody’s neck for a well experienced professional highly trained chiropractor to be able to safely perform a neck adjustment.
So you’ve probably seen my videos where I am adjusting my patients and you may wonder “what is actually making that pop sound?”
I’m not actually caring about the sound effects. That’s the least of my worries. It really comes down to the cause. What I’m actually doing is more movement, therefore allowing the body to function normally again, at its optimum, rather than being stuck, and over working in certain areas more than others.
So I’ll be really looking for those joints that are not functioning optimally, that have a bit more stiffness in them or a reduction in range of movement.
When I find those joints, by putting a specific movement through there, it may create a little popping sound often. The reason is because in those joints, if they haven’t been moving for a while, some gas builds up in the joints. Those tissues are still alive so they release gases in the body anyway. So when I put that movement through the joint, some of the gas can get released and it makes a popping sound.
Often that popping sound has been misunderstood, and instead described as a cracking. I get asked “Can you crack my bones?”
Hopefully not! Because if I do crack your bones, that’s technically a fracture.
So by moving those bones we are adjusting the joint thereby improving its range of movement and achieving optimal function.
Now you may often hear some different pops when you’re moving around some cracks and clicks. In those cases it may be due to some tight tendons flicking over a bone. That’s not quite the same as what we often create in our patients. The noise that you hear is often that the popping sound is created from the joints moving, and the gas releasing from between the joints.
But then also when I put a movement through a joint and I don’t hear a pop it doesn’t mean it didn’t work.
The sound is not the important part. What is important is the movement that we have now achieved in that joint, i.e. the function.
I also have some people tell me that tell me they crack their joints themselves.
But you to avoid doing that yourself, because even for me, I can’t, and it’s impossible for me to align or adjust my own joints that need them the most.
It’s impossible for me to actually generate the force required on those stiff joints that needs that movement.
Instead I will often go to see my own colleagues to get adjusted, rather than attempt it myself.
I would encourage you to do the same. If you are trying to adjust yourself, it is not really an adjustment. That movement is likely to go through space or a joint has already got too much movement anyway. So all you are doing in the long term is exacerbating the problem.
Well it all depends on what the cause of the misalignment is. However in most cases probably – yes!
Most people don’t even know that they may have a misaligned jaw. In fact a partner or loved one may hear you grind your teeth at night, whilst you are fast asleep. A common reason for grinding teeth is holding stress in your subconscious.
Chewing is often done one sided, i.e. we prefer chewing in one direction more than the other. However just like you wouldn’t carry a bag on just one shoulder, the same is true with our jaw joints. We want to ensure we get equal movement through both sides.
We have two temporomandibular joints (TMJ) in front of each ear. That’s where you can often feel some ache or pain from teeth grinding or too much clenching of the TMJ. One of the main muscles that creates movement of the TMJ is the temporalis muscle which spans over the side of the head, commonly causes headaches in this area.
As chiropractors and osteopaths we are trained to know about the deeper connection between the muscles round the back of the neck and the jaw area. So a misuse of the TMJ can have a profound knock on effect to the rest of the spine.
One way of treating the TMJ is via the spinal joints and nerves. Another is by holding onto the jaw joint itself and performing a direct manipulation. Remember that although this can help, we must still consider the overall lifestyle that may be the root cause of the problem.
So you have woken up with back pain and you have probably also searched online to see what the best solution is for it. Some of the advice may have recommended for you to be active and keep moving. Following this if you have gone for a walk you quickly realise that your back pain is still there or even getting worse.
So what should you do? Do you keep walking and have the mindset of “no pain no gain”? Or do you take rest to stop the pain getting further worse?
There are a number of things that can cause low back pain. Until you find the source of the problem it’s difficult to provide specific advice for your current symptoms.
However in most cases if your pain is being aggravated, even by advice you have read from seemingly reputable sources online (or anywhere else) you must stop that activity. That pain is your body’s way of telling you that this is a crisis situation and that it must be addressed and resolved properly.
You must avoid anything that is aggravating your lower back pain, even if it is walking or moving. So get into a position that makes the lower back pain more comfortable. This allows the body to start healing those tissues, rather than further injuring and aggravating that problem.
There are so many benefits to our health, lifestyles and well-being.
Of course make sure you get permission from those who want to give a hug.
Hugging reduces cortisol levels. Cortisol is a stress hormone, and if found in large quantities for long periods of time in the body, can be quite destructive.
Most people tend to be living stressful lives, so have high amounts of cortisol in their body. A hug from a loved one for a few minutes can help balance the cortisol to normal levels.
Linked to that, studies have found hugging can reduce high blood pressure.
Another benefit is reducing anxiety. I have seen a trend in members of our local community with ever increasing levels of anxiety. A hypothesis for one of the causes is that nowadays there is more of a taboo with physical touch, and we are losing our sense of touch with one another.
See who you can go and give a loving warm hug too, and let me know in the comments.
If you’re finding yourself to be describing your symptoms as “constant low back pain”, that it is always there, then let’s check and see what the cause of it really is.
A lot of the time when we have pain or discomfort we often get confused and our bodies, brains and nervous systems get scrambled, and end up misunderstanding the signals they are receiving. They often get into a much more worried state as this is the worst thing that is happening to the body at this moment, and it can often misinterpret it for being constant, even if it may not be.
So consider what activities or movements affect your constant low back pain, that aggravate it and relieves it. Start making a list of what makes it worse and what makes it feel better. This will be really helpful to present to your health professional when you seek to have your constant low back pain resolved.
If you are suffering with constant low back pain, which is truly constant, meaning it will not even allow you to sleep – this is quite rare, for a pain to be so constant that it does not even allow you to sleep. Often in these cases, people are only able to sleep by taking heavy medication, which of course has other health implications too.
The other problem with constant low back pain affecting sleep is because it affects the quality of sleep, it means that the healing phases of sleep are never achieved. The healing phases of sleep are when the body is able to regenerate itself and recover from any tissue damage.
If you are suffering with constant low back pain my first (ironic) advice is to stop looking online for tips & tricks. If it really is that severe you must seek out professional health immediately. There is no need to waste any time and risk your condition becoming permanent if not handled correctly.
Causes of constant low back pain may include a fracture, a break in the bone. If this is the case, then you definitely what to get it checked without delay, because if it is an unstable fracture you can cause some serious damage and injury to the tissues and blood vessels around that area.
If you have been compressing a spinal disc for a number of years due to extreme lifestyle choices of spending long working hours sitting which can cause the spinal discs to pop, burst or bulge. This can lead to the disc pressing on spinal nerves. Combined with that you may have muscle spasm which is trying to protect the area from further damage. However the muscle spasm itself can often be so severe that it causes pain itself.
Please avoid asking loved ones who are not professionally qualified for what they found helped if they have suffered with constant low back pain. It’s just as easy to seek professional help to get the best treatment for your condition.
There’s a few things you can do. Before we get into what we can do to help your low back pain, we need to think about what your low back pain is.
See if we think about the definition of “low back pain” it’s a pain, a symptom and it is subjective – meaning that everyone experiences low back pain in different ways, and the meaning each person gives their pain is different too.
That makes it much more complex than simply saying “ah, this is the one thing to fix your low back pain.”
First of all we need to find out exactly what the cause of the low back pain is. In order to do that you need to go to an expert because unless you know what to look for, what to examine for, what to test for, it’s very difficult to determine what the cause of the pain is. There’s many different structures within the body that can cause the low back pain.
Low back pain may be caused by your organs, it could be some bones or joints, some ligaments that have been strained, torn muscles, bulging discs, pinched nerves and a whole host of other things in that area.
So the first step to determine which of these things are causing your low back pain you must first get a consultation. A diagnosis based on just an extremely thorough consultation alone is likely to be very accurate. When you then add tests and an examination to a consultation the accuracy of the diagnosis improves significantly more.
Once you know what that diagnosis is, it’s easy. You simply flip it, reverse what has happened, and that makes your treatment plan to resolve the cause of the low back pain.
It’s not just about getting rid of the pain, but to restore normal and optimised function to help prevent conditions coming back in the future.