Alan [fictional character] is a seemingly healthy individual. He is 45 years old working in his career as a civil engineer. He has a family with 3 young kids that keep him busy outside of work. Alan enjoys the outdoors and likes to spend his time with his family hiking, skiing, fishing, and many other outdoor adventures. He exercises on a regular basis by lifting weights and running. His job requires him to sit for many hours each day which is why he likes to stay active. One day while at work, Alan dropped his pen on the floor as he was walking down the hall. When he bent over to pick the pen up off the floor he heard a loud POP in his low back and down went Alan to the floor, writhing in pain. How did this happen? How does such a simple movement cause so much pain?
There have been countless episodes of patients walking through our doors that have experienced extreme spinal pain (neck or back) after having performed a relatively simple task. Logic will tell us that performing such a basic task would not normally create such a painful episode. So why does such a menial task produce such an awful result?
The 10,000th Straw
Most of us are familiar with the idiom “The straw that broke the camel’s back”. Although very ironic to use such a phrase in chiropractic, there is a lot of truth to this simple statement. Alan didn’t experience that intense pain because of the pen. He experienced the pain because it was his 10,000th time bending improperly to pick something up. That movement was the final “straw” that sent him to the floor. Most of the “injuries” we deal with in the office are repetitive-use injuries. Whether you work in manual labor and have to bend over and lift heavy things every day or you work at a computer and place repetitive stresses to your low back and neck due to bad posture, you are experiencing spinal wear and tear.
One of the reasons you didn’t experience pain during the 9,999 other episodes is because your body does a great job of compensating. Your brain will do everything it can to keep you out of pain. If your low back hurts on the right side then your brain may tell your body to shift your weight to the left side to alleviate the pain. The problem may still be there, but your body will put stresses in different places to get you out of pain. You are able to do this for a while until your body fails to compensate and you go into the pain cycle.
As chiropractors, we have two primary goals: 1. Get you out of pain as fast as possible and 2. Keep you out of pain. Since your body compensates and adapts to getting you out of pain there likely has been months if not years of faulty movement patterns that have slowly made your system more vulnerable to injury. We often have a discussion with our patients that the symptoms likely just started, but the problem has been going on for a long time. This is why it usually takes time to get someone back to their normal selves again. As chiropractors, we are re-training the body to function the way it was designed to. If your standard movement patterns are due to compensation or repetitive overuse, then re-training the joints to function optimally is beneficial for your overall spinal health.
Chiropractic adjustments gently move the joints to retrain the way you move. Over time, the body and the brain “accept” this new movement pattern and pain gradually starts to dwindle. When the body no longer perceives your movement or the stresses you place on your body as a threat, then it no longer needs to sound the alarms of pain. Having regular chiropractic adjustments serves as a system “reboot” to ensure that all your joints are functioning at their highest level. When your joints are functioning at their optimum level you are free to do the things you love.
About Elite Chiropractic & Performance Center
Located just outside of Salt Lake City and in the heart of the Salt Lake Valley, Elite Chiropractic & Performance Center is the premier chiropractic office in Utah. Drs. Monte Layton, Jeremy Wimmer, Chris Harbrecht and Jordan Mousley specialize in providing care for many different conditions and injuries. Those in the community seek Elite’s care for low back pain, neck pain, as well as shoulder, knee, elbow, wrist, hip, knee, ankle, and foot pain. Call today to schedule your first appointment. 801-432-7511.