Have you noticed that your body might click if you move a certain way, ankles might click, or the wrists might click.
See the body does click in different ways for different reasons. The most common reason for clicking if it’s been from your movement is a tendon flicking over a bone. A tendon is a piece of connective tissue that connects a muscle belly to a bone so that it can control movement of the joint.
If the muscle fibres are tight due to poor posture, poor stretching habits or lifestyle choices, the tendons become more taut. This can lead the the tendon flicks over a bit of bone, creating that clicking sensation.
The most common area I have found this to be, is in the shoulder area. There are a lot of muscles around the shoulder girdle which are prone to become tight and causing such tendons to click or flick.
If it happens for a short while, it is not a problem. However if it continues to happen for a few days, weeks, months or even years doing movements where you keep getting this type of clicks can put increased risk of inflammation of the tendon – tendonitis. This can be quite painful, you may need to stop some of the activities that are aggravating that for some time until it has recovered.
It’s often a relatively easy fix, by reducing the tightness in the muscle. Chiropractors and Osteopaths also check the underlying reason for why that muscle is tightening up in the first place. Without doing that, the muscle is likely to keep tightening.
Another reason for your joints to click is if some joints are stiff, other joints may have to overcompensate by moving more than normal. This may lead to some gas in that joint releasing, creating a popping sound.
This is similar to the sound you hear when having a chiropractic or osteopathic adjustment. The difference however is that when your body does it on its own, it’s more likely the joints that are already working too hard are moving. When a chiropractor or osteopath performs this technique, it is specific to the joints that are stiff and so they require the additional movement to restore balanced functional movement back into the body.
I often get asked if I can help someone suffering with a trapped nerve.
In short – YES!
However, how do we know exactly what the “trapped nerve” is?
A lot of people may experience pain, numbness, tingling, pins and needles, loss of power – all these types of symptoms if it is a trapped nerve.
But the real question is where is it being trapped?
Until you find the exact point where the nerve is being trapped, there is no proper way of resolving it. These types of conditions are biomechanical meaning it’s a physical problem, so no tablet, no cream, no drug is going to change the biomechanical challenge of pinch.
To resolve it, there needs to be a physical movement to that area to untrap or unpinch the affected nerve.
I prefer calling it pinched rather than trapped.
It’s very much like when you have lights in a building, to turn a light on that’s in the ceiling, you need to go to a switch on the wall. The reason that works is because we all know there is a wire that goes from the switch to the light communicating what to do. If that wire was pinched somewhere when you go to turn the light on by pressing the switch on the wall, it won’t turn on.
Other causes could be the light bulb itself may need replacing, or the fuse in the fusebox may have been tripped, or there may be a power outage at the mains for the whole street.
That’s just like what happens with our body.
When you look at the spine, the nervous system that is housed inside, and those nerves that exit the spine supply everything in the body.
The nerves in the lower back (lumbar spine) supply the legs
Those nerves in the mid back (thoracic spine) supply most of your organs.
And the nerves in the neck (cervical spine) supply the head and arms.
If you experience any pain, numbness, tingling, loss of power, pins and needles, it may not be a local problem, i.e. where you are experiencing those symptoms. There may be a link back to somewhere else in the spine where the nerves are coming from. Or it may be higher up in the central nervous system.
So until you find that mechanical challenge your body is experiencing on those nerves, no drugs, no tablets, no cream is going to relieve that pressure. Not even some exercises, because they may aggravate the issue if you haven’t dealt with the root cause.
Although there isn’t an exercise that I can give you to relieve a trapped nerve, what I can say with confidence is that it well worth visiting a local professional who specialises, like a chiropractor or an osteopath, in finding the source of your problem.
It’s really important to find the source of the trapped nerve, because only then can you release the pinching of the nerve, allowing the nerve flow to correctly supply the body again.
We have to also consider how long you have had the pinched nerve. Because the longer the nerve has been pinched, the more potential weakness you can get, with regards to the signals into those areas.
Before I treat any patient, or even examine them, we go through a full case history. This helps me find out more information about their symptoms, their health history, their lifestyle goals.
I then will also carefully examine the patient. You can often see in my videos where I treat my patients, that I check which specific level in the spine needs the adjustment, which releases the tension in the joints, the pressure on the nerves, restoring normal nerve function back in the body.
Research has also found that by adjusting a level in the spine that is affecting a nerve supplying a part of the body, that the body then sends messages back to the nervous system, further strengthening the connections – it’s like a complete electrical circuit.
Very similar to your broadband. Although your internet service provider sends the bulk of the data to your building, your modem will fire back little messages letting the ISP know it’s there. So our body is like the building, and the ISP is our nervous system, which are sending messages back and forth to each other.
Like most things, once things are working well, there is always a risk that the pinching may return, or a new injury may occur. Regular check ups reduce the risk of recurrence.
For longer term relief we need to also consider lifestyle choices along side regular maintenance where appropriate.
If you get into trouble and have treatment which feels good, but then don’t look to prevent it from coming back so end up going back to your bad habits, only for the condition to return.
The reason for that is biology, bad habits and common sense.
Once my patients have gone through their main course of care I often advise on how to maintain or further improve their condition beyond just pain relief or avoiding symptoms.
It’s much like when a building is on fire. Putting the fire out is like dealing with the symptoms only. However, to ensure that the fire doesn’t come you need to correct the original problem and check regularly to make sure it doesn’t come back. That’s much like what our body is like.
It’s also going to give you a better chance of correcting a problem before it becomes too big, therefore improving the outcome even more.
There are several studies showing this to be the case with musculoskeletal conditions. Which makes sense. If you stop taking care of your body, get out of good habits of doing certain exercises or movements, having regular checkups to catch conditions and prevent injury then there’s a higher risk of poor health and less than optimal function.
For those that get into these bad habits tend to call us back in around 5 months time as it takes around this much time for them to start noticing a few symptoms creep back into and affect their lifestyle.
Let’s take the example of a professional athlete who is on a maintenance program, but is preparing for an event. I may find by them coming to see me more frequently in the build up to that event to be beneficial and ensure they are at their optimum.
The same applies for those who have hobbies and want to continue to enjoy those hobbies.
I also see a lot of ambitious patients who want career progression or entrepreneurs who need to function at their peak in order to serve the needs of their business. Our body is still the instrument that we require in order to perform those activities. So these examples may require for someone to be sitting in an office for several hours, or sitting twisted in a boardroom meeting. If they are not able to sit in that way their work is likely to be affected and therefore they are not going to be able to get what they need done.
With chiropractic and osteopathy it’s just like when you regularly see your dentist, have your car serviced, get your heating boiler checked annually.
You have probably come across this famous “condition” SCIATICA.
It can be a very debilitating condition.
If you a professional ever diagnoses you with sciatica I would implore to ask them what is the cause.
You see, the definition of sciatica is:
Pain in the distribution of the sciatic nerve
This means that sciatica only tells you where the pain is, not the cause. For me that is not a complete diagnosis as you don’t yet know what the problem is.
Your sciatic nerve is the thickest nerve in your body (it’s as thick as your thumb!). It’s made up of a number of different branches of nerves that originate in your lumbar spine (low back). These converge, just how the exit on a motorway would converge into a spaghetti junction, out of which you have individual peripheral nerves, one of which is the sciatic nerve.
There are other peripheral nerves that also supply the the leg.
Just as you may meet traffic whilst driving, you experience the “pain” of the vehicle in front of you. However, that line of traffic could be due to a number of different reasons, such as roadworks, an accident or dysfunctional traffic lights.
Similarly sciatica can be due to a pinching of the nerve roots from the spine, from tight muscles in the buttock area, a disc bulge, etc… So it’s important to resolve the source of the problem to allow correct nerve flow, rather than making a vague and incomplete diagnosis of sciatica.