Auto Injury Chiropractic Care

Auto accident injuries are one of the leading causes of spinal and whiplash injuries. These types of injuries, whether they occur as the result of an auto accident or another type of trauma, must be treated properly, or they could lead to chronic pain. Fortunately, undergoing chiropractic treatments can help relieve the following symptoms, often without the use of pain medications or surgery:

  • Headaches
  • Neck pain or stiffness
  • Shoulder pain
  • Arm pain
  • Low back pain
  • Decreased range of motion in the neck, shoulders, arms or back

To learn more about the types of problems chiropractic care can treat or the types of treatments used in chiropractic care, please visit the pages below.

A Day in the Life of a Chiropractor

Given that patients’ medical problems run the spectrum, no two days in a chiropractor’s life are exactly the same. In addition to the painful backs and necks that people associate with chiropractic care, patients may present with such diverse conditions as asthma, headaches, hormone imbalances and ADHD. A typical chiropractor sees 15 to 30 patients per day. However, certain themes are consistent, and chiropractors must call on a specific skill set to help their patients every day.

Rush Hours

Chiropractors treat patients that range in age from 1 to 100, but the bulk of patients are of working age. This means many want those coveted early morning and evening appointments to fit around a typical nine-to-five workday. These are busy hours for chiropractors, who try to help as many patients as possible in these time slots.

Exams

Before a chiropractor devises a plan of action, she or he must identify the problem. This requires a thorough physical examination of the patient. The chiropractor assesses the patient’s movement patterns. X-rays are often necessary. In clinics with X-ray facilities, the doctor or a trained assistant conduct the X-rays.

Therapies

Once the chiropractor has diagnosed the patient’s medical issue, it’s therapy time. Manual adjustments are the core of chiropractic care. Other common therapies include many types of electrical stimulation and exercises. For example, chiropractors often use transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) to reduce pain. The doctor strategically places sticky pads attached to wires around the afflicted areas, and then sends stimulating electric pulses to send blood to muscles and reduce atrophy. A chiropractor often juggles several patients at a time. While one patient receives therapy in a treatment room, the doctor consults with another elsewhere.

Communication

Communication is a cornerstone of the chiropractic skill set. Doctors talk extensively with patients to understand their health issues and aspects of their daily lives that contribute to pain and medical problems. Chiropractors are also teachers dedicated to helping patients learn to take better care of themselves.

Business Aspects of Practice

Just like other types of doctors, chiropractors can choose to run a private practice or join forces with others in a bigger clinic. Depending on their setup, doctors may be responsible for many administrative duties in addition to treating patients. These important tasks include running staff meetings, reading lab tests, training staff, writing reports, accounting, marketing, banking and interfacing with insurance companies. If a doctor does not have staff to help, he or she may spend 8 to 16 hours a week fulfilling these responsibilities.

Wondering how chiropractic treatment could help you? We’d love to see how your busy day can fit with ours, moving you toward a happier and more pain-free life.

Lessen Pain Medication Dependence

Pain can be brief and acute, or a chronic condition people endure. Pain sufferers might take medications for either type of pain. However, prolonged use of pain medications masks the pain’s true cause. Many people find pain relief and healing through chiropractic care.

Side Effects of Pain Medications

Doctors often prescribe pain medications as a quick and inexpensive solution. But pain medications bring the chance of addiction, accidental overdose and increased tolerance. With narcotics, the more you take, the more you need. Eventually you can develop hyperalgesia, a change in the nervous system that makes you even more sensitive to pain. Over-the-counter (OTC) drugs are not necessarily safe, either. Too much acetaminophen can harm your liver. Common OTC pain relievers also up the odds of developing bleeding ulcers, according to the American Journal of Gastroenterology.

Chiropractic Adjustments for Chronic Pain

Chiropractors can often help relieve pain that’s persisted for weeks, months or even years. The theory behind chiropractic medicine is that if your musculoskeletal structure is properly aligned, the body is better able to heal itself. Rather than medication or surgery, the chiropractic solution is hands-on manipulation. Spinal manipulation and quick, forceful chiropractic adjustments can increase mobility in joints with restricted and painful movement.

Body Parts Affected

Many people associate chiropractors with back pain. However, chiropractors also treat other painful body parts, including necks, legs and arms. Chiropractic treatment can relieve pain in joints, bones, muscle, ligaments and tendons. Headache sufferers can benefit from chiropractic treatments too. Nine out of 10 Americans get painful headaches, according to the American Chiropractic Association. Many headaches originate in the neck. Spinal manipulation relieves many patients’ headaches without causing the side effects that pain medications do. Chiropractors can also advise patients on work-space ergonomics to avoid pain-causing postures. Some patients combine chiropractic treatment with conventional medical approaches.

Results

Chiropractors estimate that, of the 22 million Americans who annually seek their help, back pain brings about 7.7 million, or 35 percent, into their offices. Many find relief. Researchers studying chiropractic medicine find many positive results. A 2003 study published in the British Medical Journal followed 183 patients with neck pain through a 52-week treatment. Those who received manual adjustments recovered faster, and at about one-third the cost. The American Medical Journal also recognizes that chiropractic care can ease pain.

What You Can Do

If you suffer from pain and long to avoid medications, call our office. We will thoroughly examine you to determine how you can best benefit from chiropractic treatment.

Active Release Techniques

An automobile accident can thrust the body into erratic motion, causing the muscles and other soft tissues to pull, tear or not be able to get enough oxygen (hypoxia). All of these factors can result in the body producing rough, thick scar tissue in the affected area.

Scar tissue restricts the tissues from moving freely because they bind them and tie them down, and as scar tissue builds up, muscles shorten and become weaker, nerves become ensnared and tendinitis can develop due to tension on the tendons. This can lead to reduced range of motion, pain and loss of muscle strength. Should a nerve become trapped, the person may additionally experience numbness, tingling and weakness.

What Do Active Release Techniques Aim to Do?

Active release techniques (ART) attempt to address problems in individual tissues, since one tissue or structure can affect another structure both directly and biomechanically. With this method, the chiropractor identifies problems with movement, pressure and stiffness between the nearby tissues, and then addresses them.

While scar tissue and muscle tension can be addressed with massage, electrical modalities and applying pressure to trigger points, ART seek to take a different approach. It is not just about treatment; it’s also about understanding the muscles and how they have been affected.

After the chiropractor has gotten a feel of the tissues and their texture, motion and tension, he is able to understand and assess the motion of each tissue relative to the one adjacent to it. Now equipped with this knowledge, he can determine whether to:

  • Apply a contact tension
  • Shorten the tissue
  • Make the tissue glide relative to the tissue nearby
  • Lengthen the tissue

By doing one or more these, movement can be restored; fibrous adhesions can be broken down; trapped nerves or blood vessels can be released; pain can be reduced; and oxygen and blood can be efficiently delivered to the muscles and tissues.

How Are ART Different From Other Techniques?

There are more than 500 specific moves associated with ART, and each allows the chiropractor to recognize and rectify problems that affect each individual patient. For this, ART do not take a cookie-cutter approach, nor do they only treat problems with muscles. In addition, these “soft tissue system/movement-based massage techniques” treat tendons, ligaments, fascia and nerves.

However, unlike massage, the patient does not lie motionless, and neither pressure nor movement is lateral to the muscles, nerves, ligaments and tendons. Instead, ART use longitudinal movements, and they require the patient to be both a participant and non-participant in their care. In some levels of treatment, movement of the patient’s tissue is done by the chiropractor. In other levels, the patient must actively move the affected tissue in a specific way while the chiropractor employs tension. So, in many ways ART are not strictly a massage; instead, they are a form of manipulation.

What Conditions Do ART Treat?

Because the muscles and other soft tissues can be manipulated, a variety of conditions — all of which are typically the result of overused or overworked muscles — can be resolved with this technique:

  • Headaches
  • Carpal tunnel
  • Back and shoulder pain
  • Sciatica
  • Tennis elbow
  • Shin splints
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Knee problems
  • Tendinitis

Please contact your chiropractor if you have any questions about ART.

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. Unfortunately, most people don’t have balanced and strong muscles – due, once again, to lack of exercise and to misalignments of the spine.

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. Once the muscles in your middle back are strong, the tightness and poor posture simply disappear.

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. Unfortunately, most people don’t have balanced and strong muscles – due, once again, to lack of exercise and to misalignments of the spine.

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. Once the muscles in your middle back are strong, the tightness and poor posture simply disappear.

Drop Table Technique

Drop Table Technique: What It Is and How It Works

The force of an automobile accident can cause injury, specifically to the lower back. Trauma to this area, in turn, can result in problems such as sacroiliac joint dysfunction, sciatica, disc injuries, herniation, lumbar plexus disorder and other conditions. In addition, the neck and mid-back can also be affected by a car accident and can be accompanied by their own set of disorders.

Forceful spinal manipulation is not always necessary to treat conditions of the lower back, mid-back and neck. Gentle chiropractic treatment, such as drop table techniques, involves less powerful spinal maneuvering and slower, low-velocity movements that allow the affected joint to stay within its passive range of motion.

How Does the Drop Table Technique Work?

Also known as the Thompson technique, the “drop” approach uses a special chiropractic table. The table used has segments that can be lifted up and then dropped when a thrust is applied by the chiropractor. The drop allows gravity to assist and work in combination with the manual adjustment, and all of this provides a lighter adjustment than that which comes with some other chiropractic techniques, such as those that involve twisting positions.

To further clarify, the table has various sections that are raised between 1 to 2 inches relative to the rest of the patient’s body. Once the section of the table is lifted, it is fastened in place and the stiffness of the table is altered based on the patient’s body weight. When the chiropractor applies a gentle thrust to the area needing adjustment, the table releases and drops down, causing that segment of the body to fall too. The drop table comes to a rest, but the patient’s body momentum continues for a short period. This momentum is equally as critical to the drop table technique as the thrust and dropping of the table are, because it aids in alignment.

What to Expect After a Drop Table Technique

The number of sessions needed depends on the type of condition the patient has and its severity. However, in general, the patient should have better range of motion and less pain with each treatment.

To learn more about the drop table technique and how it can help, contact your chiropractor.

Manual Technique

Manual Technique

Manual therapy, also known as manipulative therapy, is a physical treatment primarily used by chiropractors to treat musculoskeletal pain and debility — two outcomes that can result after an automobile accident.

How Does Manual Therapy Work?

This form of physical therapy takes a hands-on approach rather than using devices or machines. When a chiropractor uses their hands during manual therapy, they apply pressure on the muscle tissue and maneuver the joints in an effort to reduce pain associated with muscle tension, muscle spasm and joint dysfunction.

How Does Manual Therapy Help?

When a person has been in an auto accident, their joints, due to injury, could lack sufficient movement and range of motion. This, in turn, can lead to pain, discomfort and an interruption in function, movement and posture.

By implementing manual therapy, the following can occur:

  • An increase in range of motion
  • A decrease or elimination of soft tissue inflammation
  • Pain regulation
  • Relaxation
  • Healing, stability and/or extension of contractile and non-contractile tissue
  • Ease in movement and restoration of function

Types of Manual Therapy Movement

There are many manual therapy techniques, and, as a group, they aim to relax tense muscles and ease restricted joints. Overall, however, these procedures exercise three main types of movement:

  • Manipulation. Sheer, rotational or agitated force that is rapid and results in an audible popping sound caused by the sudden breakdown of gas bubbles that develop during joint cavitation
  • Massage. Recurring stripping, kneading or rubbing of the soft tissues for the purpose of redistributing fluid, relaxing muscles, increasing circulation, easing muscle tension, breaking up scar tissue and reducing pain
  • Mobilization. Stretching the soft tissues in a slower, more regulated process in order to improve flexibility

Mobilization and manipulation are often talked about together. They use calculated movements of various speeds (slow to fast), force (moderate to strong) and distances to pull, rotate or thrust joints and bones into position to help release stiff tissues around the joint, minimize joint pain, reestablish alignment and assist with flexibility.

Types of Manual Therapy Techniques

Prior to executing manual therapy, the chiropractor will typically do an assessment of the nerve and blood supply in the treatment area, as well as look at the bone and muscles themselves. This helps him or her determine whether this physical therapy is appropriate for the patient’s needs. Contingent on the assessment, the chiropractor may perform one or more of the following manual therapy techniques:

  • Soft tissue mobilization. Breaks up hard or rubbery muscle tissue (e.g., scar tissue), circulates tissue fluids, restores normal texture to tissue, reduces pain and lessens muscle tension through rhythmic stretching and deep pressure
  • Strain and counter-strain. Focuses on fixing irregular neuromuscular reflexes that trigger structural and postural problems. Here, the chiropractor first determines where the patient’s tender points are. The patient is then asked at what point the soreness diminishes. The patient is next held in position (at a point where they are comfortable) for up to two minutes. During this time, the muscle is stretched mildly and then slowly taken out of this position, which lets the body reset its muscles to a natural level of tension so that healing can occur.
  • Joint mobilization. Loosens the constrained joint and boosts range of motion by delivering slow speed and amped up distance of movement.
  • Muscle energy technique. Designed to activate restricted joints and lengthen shortened muscles by using voluntary contractions of the patient’s muscles against a defined counter force implemented by the chiropractor, who helps by taking the muscle to a specific position and placing it in a precise direction
  • High velocity, low amplitude thrusting. Restores the sliding motion of joints and allows them to open and close efficiently. This more aggressive technique involves taking a joint to, but not beyond, its restrictive barrier

Please contact your chiropractor with any questions.

Myofascial Release

Not all pain after an auto accident is caused by obvious injuries like broken bones or cuts. Some pain may stem from the myofascial tissues. These tough membranes are wrapped around your muscles to provide support and connect them to other parts of the body.

When myofascial tissue becomes stiff, it may restrict movement in both the muscles and joints. This can lead to joint and muscle pain. During myofascial release, your chiropractor will locate and release areas of myofascial tissue that are stiff and tight.

Myofascial Pain Symptoms

Myofascial pain can be caused by trauma — such as a car accident — repetitive motions or muscle tension due to stress. In fact, people who are often stressed or anxious may be more likely to develop myofascial pain. This could be due to frequent clenching of the muscles.

The symptoms of myofascial pain include a deep ache or pain in the muscle, pain that continues or worsens, or a sensitive knot in the muscle. The source of the pain is stiffness in specific areas of myofascial tissue — known as “trigger points.” Normally, myofascial tissue is elastic and moves when light pressure is applied. Trigger points, though, feel tight and rigid.

Unlike pain caused by broken bones or cuts, myofascial pain can occur over a wider area of your body. Also, the trigger points may not be located near the area where you are experiencing the pain. This is called referred pain.

Diagnosis of Trigger Points

During a physical exam, your chiropractor will identify areas of myofascial tissue that are stiff and rigid. This is done by applying light finger pressure to the body, looking for tissue that does not feel elastic or move easily. Again, the trigger points may not be located near the source of your pain.

Myofascial Release Treatment

After identifying the trigger points, chiropractors can use myofascial release therapy to reduce the stiffness in the myofascial tissue. This technique involves stretching and applying manual pressure to areas of the myofascial tissue that are tight.

During the treatment, your chiropractor will carefully observe your body’s response in order to know how much and where to apply the pressure. Loosening up the myofascial tissue can allow the muscles to move more freely. This may reduce your pain symptoms.

Muscle pain can result from many different causes. If are experiencing pain, consult your chiropractor to help you determine your best treatment options.

Electrotherapy

We rely on electricity every day to light our homes and use appliances. With all its run-of-the-mill uses, you may have never considered that electricity could be used to reduce acute and chronic pain. How is electricity used to lessen pain? Electrotherapy directly blocks pain signals and encourages the body to release its own natural painkillers (endorphins).

Electrotherapy Uses and Benefits

The American Physical Therapy Association recognizes the use of electrotherapy for:

  • Pain management
  • Treatment of neuromuscular dysfunction
  • Tissue repair
  • Improving joint mobility
  • Treatment of edema (both acute and chronic)
  • Treatment of fecal and urinary incontinence
  • Treating abnormal peripheral blood flow
  • Treatment of atrophy

However, electrotherapy is mainly used by chiropractors to relax muscles, prevent muscle spasms, reduce pain, increase blood circulation, rehabilitate muscles and improve range of motion.

Electrotherapy Devices

There are three different stimulation devices that emit electricity, and each generates its own waveforms, frequencies and effects. All of the mechanisms employ electrical stimulation to muscles and nerves through adhesive pads, which are placed on the skin.

  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS). Of the three, this is the most commonly used device. The intensity of the stimulation can be adjusted from low (<Hz) to high (60-200 Hz). High frequency stimulation may be bearable for hours, but pain relief does not last long. Low frequency stimulation, on the other hand, may only be tolerable for up to 30 minutes, but pain relief lasts longer. The electrodes — which emit alternating current — can be placed near the region of pain, over the area of pain, on the opposite side of the body or over the nerve transmitting pain.
  • Interferential current (IFC). This particular device is often used when users have not gotten any relief from TENS. It uses a high frequency (4000 Hz) carrier waveform with the similar signal and alternating current generated by the TENS unit, except the waveform with the IFC pierces the skin and muscles much deeper.
  • Galvanic stimulation (GS). If a patient has an acute injury related to tissue trauma (including swelling), GS may be recommended. While TENS and IFC units apply interchanging current, galvanic stimulators use direct current that produces an electrical field over the treated area. This modifies blood flow. The device uses both a positive electrode and a negative electrode. The positive pad works like ice, causing a reduction in circulation to the region directly under the bad. This helps to minimize swelling. The negative pad, in contrast, acts like heat, causing circulation to increase. This can speed up healing.

What Does Treatment Feel Like?

As the intensity increases, the patient will feel a tingling sensation on the skin, or the sensation will be reminiscent of a deep massage if the device is being used to penetrate and treat the muscles. All of this is normal.

What Are the Side Effects?

Though side effects are uncommon, they can occur. They may include:

  • Allergic reaction
  • Cardiac arrhythmia in patients with heart problems or a pacemaker
  • Low blood pressure
  • Fetal damage if the woman is pregnant and the pads are placed over the uterus

IFC, TENS and GS can be used in-home. These devices are powered by batteries, but may also come with an adapter to allow it to be plugged into an outlet. To reduce your risk of side effects and to reduce your chance of injury, it is best to consult with your chiropractor prior to use. He or she can show you how to properly use the device, can test the device out to see which intensity works best for you and can explain safety guidelines. For instance, electrodes should never be placed over the heart, throat, uterus (if pregnant), open wounds or areas of irritation.

To find out more, please contact our office.

Electrotherapy - Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulators (TENS)

Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulators (TENS)

Electricity is all around us. It powers the lights in our homes and buildings and it allows us to use appliances, among other things. But one way it’s being used in chiropractic treatment is to reduce acute and chronic pain by obstructing pain signals and helping the body release endorphins (the body’s own natural painkillers).

The technique is known as electrotherapy, and there are three different stimulation devices associated with it — one of them is transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS). Each device produces its own frequency, effect and wavelength, but all use adhesive pads or electrodes — which are placed on the skin — to emit electrical stimulation to nerves and muscles.

What Is TENS and How Does It Work?

Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation uses a small, battery-powered machine — around the size of a pocket radio — to transmit low-voltage electrical current (up to 200 Hz) to provide pain relief. The electrodes are connected to the machine and span out so that they can release a stable flow of electrical current or a surge of electrical current when placed:

  • Over the region of pain
  • On the opposing side of the body
  • Near the area of pain
  • Over the nerve spreading pain

Your chiropractor will help you determine the proper setting, and, after receiving instruction on how to use the device and this therapy, you can use the device to treat yourself at home.

At its highest frequency stimulation, many users are able to tolerate treatment for hours; however, pain relief is short lived. When low frequency stimulation is implemented, the patient may be able to tolerate treatment for 30 minutes, and pain relief lasts longer.

When the current is dispensed, the expectation is that the patient will have less pain due to one of two theories:

  1. The electricity released from the electrodes arouses the nerves and transmits signals to the brain that help it block pain signals.
  2. Awakening the nerves may encourage the body to generate endorphins, which, in turn, may prevent the patient’s pain awareness.

What Is TENS Used For?

TENS can be used to treat different conditions, but is most often used to treat problems of the bones, joints and muscles, such as:

  • Low back or neck pain
  • Tendinitis
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Bursitis
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Labor pain
  • Pain associated with cancer

Is TENS Safe?

TENS is safe, but, as with any device, complications can arise if the product is misused. Therefore, it is important that the patient consult with their chiropractor before use and follow his / her instructions carefully.

Electrotherapy - Interferential Current (IFC)

Interferential Current (IFC)

Each day, we use electricity to light our homes and operate the appliances that make everyday tasks simpler. However, you might be surprised to learn that electricity — with its many uses — is being utilized in chiropractic treatment to reduce acute and chronic pain.

How Does Electrotherapy Work?

Known as electrotherapy, there are three different stimulation devices, and each generates its own effect, wavelength and frequency. One of those devices is called interferential current (IFC). It, like the other two devices, uses electrodes. These electrodes are connected to the machine, but also extend outward. These extensions are covered by adhesive pads that are placed on the skin, and through these pads a steady flow of electrical current or a surge of electrical current is released in order to stimulate the muscles and nerves.

When the current is released, the expectation is that one of two things will happen:

  1. The nerves will be awakened and encourage the body to produce its own natural painkillers (endorphins).
  2. The electricity emanated from the electrodes provokes the nerves to send signals to the brain, allowing it to block pain signals.

About Interferential Current (IFC)

This device is commonly used when users have not obtained enough relief from the transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) device, which is another type of electrotherapy. Thought of as a deeper form of TENS, interferential current uses a higher frequency.

Whereas TENS maxes out at 200 Hz, the IFC device has a much higher frequency at 4000 Hz. Also, when the current is applied to the skin, skin resistance declines while pulse frequency rises. This allows IFC to penetrate the skin with more ease and with less stimulation than TENS, but it reaches greater depths and does so over a wider range of tissue. It also improves circulation.

IFC Uses

Because IFC is able to reach greater depths and boost circulation, IFC is able to treat edema (swelling) and inflammation caused by soft tissue irritation.

It is more commonly used, however, to treat acute and chronic pain associated with:

  • Back pain
  • Sprains and strains
  • Nerve damage
  • Arthritis
  • Shingles
  • Degenerative joint disease
  • Interstitial cystitis (bladder inflammation)

Is IFC Safe?

The most common side effect associated with IFC is skin irritation at the treatment site. That said, IFC is noninvasive and safe. However, like any device, if it is used improperly, adverse reactions can arise. This is why it’s important to consult with your chiropractor before starting treatments at home. He or she will advise you on how to use the device properly and will help you determine the frequency that is right for your and the symptoms / condition you are aiming to treat.

Electrotherapy - Galvanic Stimulation (GS)

Galvanic Stimulation (GS)

Electrical stimulation is being used in chiropractic treatment to help patients manage acute and chronic pain associated with trauma (e.g., an automobile accident). Known as electrotherapy, there are three stimulation devices. One of those apparatuses is called galvanic stimulation (GS), and it has its own wavelength, frequency and effect.

How Does Galvanic Stimulation Compare With Other Forms of Electrotherapy?

Like the other two machines — transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) and interferential current (IFC) — galvanic stimulation uses electrodes. These electrodes are linked to the device on one end, with the other end extending outward. Its extensions have endings that are enclosed in adhesive pads. These pads are placed on the skin and allow a rush of electrical current to be released for the purpose of stimulating the nerves and muscles.

Once the current is discharged, the patient will hopefully experience less pain, because the device attempts to do one of two things:

  1. Arouse the nerves and trigger the body to make more of its own natural painkillers (endorphins)
  2. Encourage the nerves to send signals to the brain that instruct it to halt pain signals

However, unlike TENS and IFC, which both apply alternating current, galvanic stimulation uses direct current that can be applied in a sequence of pulses or in a steady flow. With direct current, an electrical field is generated over the treatment area. This, theoretically, alters the patient’s blood flow. Armed with two pads, the positive pad of the device acts like ice and decreases circulation to the region beneath the pad while also minimizing swelling. The negative pad acts like a heat source and boosts circulation, which helps speed up wound healing. The pads also stimulate the muscles and nerves.

What Is Galvanic Stimulation Used For?

Because of the device’s abilities, galvanic stimulation can go a long way in managing:

  • Pain associated with trauma or resulting from medical conditions
  • Swelling
  • Edema
  • Inflammation
  • Muscle tension
  • Nerve pain

Is Galvanic Stimulation Safe?

While galvanic stimulation can be performed at home with the assistance of a home unit, it should be used under the direction and guidance of your chiropractor to avoid injury and adverse side effects, such as tissue damage. Your chiropractor will advise you on how to use the device appropriately and will help you establish the proper setting / frequency that is right for you.

Verterbral Subluxation

Vertebral subluxation refers to a set of signs and symptoms that affect the spinal column. Specifically, it is a complex that occurs when the bones of the spine lose their usual position and motion due to chemical imbalances, alcohol, prolonged sitting, trauma or even stress. An automobile accident and improper lifting are just two types of trauma that can cause vertebral subluxation complex, or VSC.

How Does Vertebral Subluxation Complex, or VSC, Affect the Body?

The term “complex” is associated with vertebral subluxation because, as the word suggests, the condition is multifaceted and consists of many elements. This is because VSC is the underlying cause of health care problems. When one or more vertebrae are misplaced or fail to carry out their intended motion, they can disrupt the function of the nervous system. The vertebral bones are designed to contain and guard this system, so interference can lead to pressure on the spinal cord or the nerve roots as they pass out of the spinal column.

When VSC presents, a number of things can happen to affect the spine, its related soft tissues and even the tissues and organs controlled by the affected nerves.

Vertebral Subluxation Complex and Its Five Interrelated Parts

VSC typically has — and is — identified by five major interconnected components, including:

  • Spinal kinesiopathology. This component sounds much like vertebral subluxation itself. Here, the bones of the spine have lost their natural motion and position, making it difficult for the patient to turn and bend. It sets the other four components in motion.
  • Myopathology. When the muscles sustaining the spine weaken, atrophy or become stiff, they can go into spasm. This can result in scar tissue that changes the muscle tone.
  • Neuropathophysiology. If the spine functions improperly, it can obstruct, stretch or agitate nerve tissue. Nerve tissue is delicate. Irritation in these ways can cause nerve system dysfunction and lead to aggravating symptoms elsewhere in the body.
  • Histopathology. A patient’s body temperature can rise due to an increase in blood and lymph supplies. This, in turn, can lead to inflammation and swelling, which can then cause discs to protrude, tear, herniate or deteriorate.
  • Pathophysiology. This is when abnormal bony growths like bone spurs try to meld faulty spinal joints, leading to decay of the spine, scar tissue and nerve dysfunction.

How Chiropractic Treatments Can Help

Your chiropractor will not only detect and minimize VSC, but, once the spinal bones are back in their normal position and have regained their natural function, he or she will try to prevent the problem from recurring. Chiropractic treatments, particularly spinal adjustments, can be used to treat VSC and ward off its associated symptoms. In the case of myopathy, which largely deals with the muscles, massage or soft tissue work is an effective treatment option.

To find out how chiropractic treatments can be designed to address your particular VSC-related condition, contact your practitioner.

Verterbral Subluxation - Spinal Kinesiopathology

Spinal kinesiopathology is the unusual positioning or motion of the spinal bones, to the point where the patient’s ability to turn and bend is restricted. It is one of five components of vertebral subluxation complex — a set of symptoms and signs that affect the spinal column — and it puts the remaining four components of the complex into motion:

  • Myopathology. When the muscles supporting the spine weaken, atrophy or become stiff, they can spasm. This can then lead to the formation of scar tissue, which is capable of altering muscle tone.
  • Neuropathophysiology. Nerve tissue can become obstructed, stretched or aggravated when the spine does not function properly. Because nerve tissue is fragile, irritation can cause the nervous system to malfunction.
  • Histopathology. If there is an increase in blood and lymph supplies, a person’s body temperature can increase, leading to inflammation and swelling. Discs may then tear, protrude, weaken or herniate.
  • Pathophysiology. This is when atypical bony growths make an effort to fuse defective joints of the spine, causing scar tissue, nerve dysfunction and deterioration of the spine.

Any one of these components, including spinal kinesiopathology, can arise due to trauma (e.g. automobile accident or slip and fall), stress or chemical imbalances.

Though the spinal bones are designed to move and, at the same time, guard the spinal cord and nerve root endings, there are times when they move too much or can become fixed and not move enough. When the bones of the spine are stuck, or become fixated, and do not move adequately enough, they cause other joints to move more than normal. These issues can twist spinal curves and hamper function. Depending on the area of the spine affected, adverse reactions and symptoms can occur in other areas of the body as well.

How Chiropractors Detect and Treat Spinal Kinesiopathology

Your chiropractor can detect this trait of vertebral subluxation complex by examining your posture and gauging your ability to bend and turn. He will also look at your symptoms, one of which will likely include pain.

To treat spinal kinesiopathology, your chiropractor may perform spinal adjustments to realign the spine and release pressed nerves and nerve endings. This should reduce discomfort and improve mobility. Some techniques may include:

  • Toggle drop. The chiropractor crosses his hands and gives a firm press to the spine, before adding a rapid thrust.
  • Release work. Gentle pressure is applied with fingertips to help separate vertebrae that have become connected, or fused.
  • Lumbar roll. The patient is placed on their side, and then the chiropractor employs a quick thrust to the area of misalignment. This is done in an attempt to place the vertebrae in their rightful position.
  • Table adjustments. The patient will lie on a table that has sections that drop down. A quick thrust given by the chiropractor causes parts of the table to release and drop. When the patient’s body drops down with the table, the table comes to a rest, but the body is still in motion temporarily. The thrust and motion provide a more gentle adjustment than other techniques, which may involve twisting positions.

To learn about these and other spinal adjustment techniques, contact your chiropractor.

Verterbral Subluxation - Neuropathophysiology

Neuropathophysiology refers to pathophysiological conditions that affect the nervous system. A more recognizable term may be neuropathy. Neuropathy is not a single disease; rather, it is an umbrella term used to describe a host of disorders that affect various nerves in various ways, in various areas of the body.

It can affect three types of nerves:

  1. Motor – Controls the body’s muscles
  2. Sensory – Is responsible for processing information obtained by way our vision, hearing, touch, taste and smell and sending it to our brain, which then interprets that information. For instance, the sensation of cold, heat and pain
  3. Autonomic – Regulates the involuntary functions of our internal organs (the viscera) such as the heart’s beat and our glands ability to produce sweat

Causes of Neuropathy

Physical trauma, such as that occurred during an automobile accident, can lead to neuropathy, but so can:

  • Infection (i.e., viral and bacterial)
  • Some drugs (e.g., those used to treat cardiac problems, seizures, infections and cancer)
  • Toxic exposure (e.g. excessive alcohol use)
  • Metabolic disorders
  • Repetitive injury

Still, most cases of neuropathy are found in people with diabetes, and it is considered to be a complication of the disease. Known as diabetic neuropathy, this is a microvascular complication that results because of excess blood glucose in people with diabetes. Over time, this surplus can damage the wall of the blood vessels supplying the nerves — often in the legs. Injury to the nerves can lead to a loss of sensation, making some injuries go unnoticed.

Though diabetes is the most common cause of neuropathy, there are other medical conditions that may be involved, such as chronic liver or kidney disease, cancer (e.g., lymphoma), AIDS or Lyme disease.

Symptoms of Neuropathy

Many people describe the pain associated with neuropathy as tingling or burning, but there are also those who suffer a loss of sensation. However, a patient’s symptoms largely depend on the type of neuropathy, as well as the specific nerves affected—be they motor, sensory or autonomic, or a combination of the three.

If sensory nerves are involved, symptoms might include:

  • Burning, jabbing, stinging, sharp or electric-like pain
  • Sensitivity to touch
  • Changes in skin, hair or nails
  • Gradual numbness or tingling sensation, often in the hands or feet
  • Loss of coordination

If motor nerves are involved, symptoms could include:

  • Paralysis
  • Muscle weakness

If autonomic nerves are involved, symptoms could include:

  • Dizziness (due to modifications in blood pressure)
  • Intolerance to heat
  • Digestive, bowel or bladder problems

Treating Neuropathy

In addition to treatment you might receive from your primary care physician, stress-relieving therapies like massage and acupuncture, as well as other complementary therapies, including those given by a chiropractor, can help.

For instance, when the vertebrae of the spine deteriorate, such as in the case of vertebral subluxation, the bones can push on the roots of the spinal nerves, resulting in symptoms of neuropathy. Chiropractors can relieve this pressure by doing spinal adjustments to get the vertebrae into alignment, which should free trapped nerves. In cases where the nerves have become compressed by connective tissue, chiropractors may use the active release technique, which is a movement-based massage technique to apply a contact tension, lengthen the tissue, shorten the tissue or make the tissue slide relative to adjacent tissue.

To learn more about what your chiropractor can do for you or someone you know with neuropathy, contact him or her.

Verterbral Subluxation - Myopathy

Myopathy: Types, Symptoms and How Chiropractic Treatment Can Help

Myopathy refers to a group of muscle diseases that are caused by muscular dysfunction that results in muscle weakness and waste. It is important to recognize that while some myopathic conditions can be caused by reduced nerve supply or excess nerve supply, the disorders do not stem from a neurological problem. Rather, the issue lies solely within the muscles.

This does not mean that areas like the spine will not be affected. The muscles surrounding the spine can become weak, tight or atrophied and go into spasm. This can cause scar tissue and a modification in muscle tone, making myopathy one of five major interrelated components associated with what’s called vertebral subluxation complex, a set of signs and symptoms that describe what occurs when the spinal bones lose their normal motion and position.

Myopathy Types and Causes

Myopathies vary by types, and some may be present from birth (congenital) while others present later on in life (acquired). Those that are congenital may be the result of a genetic defect, an inflammatory disorder, endocrine problems or a chronic immune deficiency. Acquired types, in contrast, may be due to drug side effects or chemical poisoning.

Myopathy Symptoms and Regions Affected

Regardless of which category or type, there are a number of general symptoms, including:

  • Stiffness
  • Muscle spasms
  • Cramps
  • Atrophy

The areas of the body that are affected vary, but may include the:

  • Hips and legs
  • Face
  • Arms and forearms
  • Legs
  • Trunk
  • Hands
  • Spine

Can Chiropractic Treatment Help?

The symptoms of myopathy can be painful and incapacitating, but they can be alleviated by undergoing chiropractic treatments. In addition, combining chiropractic treatments with acupuncture and physical therapy may provide further relief. Taking a multidimensional approach can mean the irritating symptoms triggered by this muscular disease can be mitigated, because the muscles in the body are being addressed through a group of efforts, each of which are designed to stimulate the muscles in different ways.

For instance, massage — a type of manual therapy often used in chiropractic treatment — uses a hands-on technique to knead, strip or rub the soft tissues. Pressure may be soft or it may be deep, but its purpose is to increase circulation and blood flow, ease muscle tension, reduce pain, relax muscles, break up scar tissue and redistribute fluid.

Or, if the muscles surrounding the spine become weak, tight or atrophied and go into spasm, the resulting scar tissue can change muscle tone. This will require multiple spinal adjustments.

If you have a myopathic disorder, contact your chiropractor to better understand how he or she can help.

Verterbral Subluxation - Histopathology

Following a car accident, the bones of the spine may shift out of their original position or lose their normal motion, in what’s called vertebral subluxation complex. This condition is characterized by a set of signs and symptoms that affect the spinal column. Histopathology is one of its five major interrelated components, and it occurs when a person’s body temperature rises due to an increase in lymph and blood supplies. As a result, inflammation and swelling occur, causing discs to rip, project, herniate or depreciate.

The individual may experience:

  • Pain and discomfort
  • Loss of mobility
  • Degradation of the spine
  • Scar tissue

How Does the Lymphatic System Work?

The lymphatic system is a subdivision of the circulatory system, and it consists of lymph vessels, lymph nodes and lymph (translucent fluid containing white blood cells). The lymph vessels transport lymph throughout the body, allowing the white blood cells it contains to fight off foreign substances and rid the body of toxins and waste.

Lymph flows in one direction — up toward the neck — and within its own system. It travels into the venous blood stream via the subclavian veins (located on the sides of the neck). Plasma, the yellow liquid component of the blood, distributes nutrients and removes waste, before leaving the blood cells and going back to the venous circulation system where it will continue on as venous blood. That which does not leave becomes lymph. It too makes its departure, leaving the tissue and entering the lymphatic system throughout lymphatic capillaries.

Histopathology and the Lymphatic System / Venous System

After a car accident or other trauma, if the spinal bones lose their natural motion and position (spinal kinesiopathology):

  • The muscles of the spine can weaken, atrophy or stiffen, causing them to spasm. Over time, scar tissue can develop, changing the individual’s muscle tone. This is known as myopathology.
  • Delicate nerve tissue can become chocked, stretched or irritated, leading to nerve system dysfunction (neuropathophysiology).
  • Bony growths may attempt to fuse defective spinal joints, which can cause the spine to decay, scar tissue to form and nerve malfunction (pathophysiology).

In these instances, the body may react to these traumas by increasing its blood and lymph supplies. This is how the body reacts to the perceived threat. However, this excess in blood and lymph supplies can have adverse effects. Beyond causing the body temperature to rise, the discs of the spine can become inflamed and swell. As a consequence, they may protrude, tear, herniate or deteriorate.

How Chiropractic Treatment Can Help

To help, your chiropractor may first choose to perform spinal adjustments to get the spine back into alignment and free trapped nerves. This may not only reduce pain and restore mobility, but could allow the lymph and venous system to reduce its supplies since the trauma is no longer considered a threat that needs to be corrected.

Some spinal adjustment techniques may include, but are not limited to:

  • Toggle drop. With hands crossed, the chiropractor gives a firm press to the spine, and then adds a rapid thrust.
  • Release work. Using the fingertips, gentle pressure is applied to help separate vertebrae that have become connected or fused.
  • Lumbar roll. With the patient on their side, the chiropractor applies a swift thrust to the area of misalignment, with the goal being to place the vertebrae in their rightful position.
  • Table adjustments. The patient lies on a table that has sections that drop down. A rapid thrust is employed by the chiropractor, causing parts of the table to release and drop. When the patient’s body drops down with the table, the table comes to a stop but the patient’s body remains in motion temporarily. The combination of the thrust, drop and continued motion are designed to help the spine align.

Once the spine has been realigned, your chiropractor may then implement soft tissue work to loosen the muscles around the spine and push fluid out of inflamed and swollen areas.

If you are suffering from vertebral subluxation complex, talk to your chiropractor about what he or she can do to help treat your condition and relieve your symptoms.

Verterbral Subluxation - Pathophysiology

Pathophysiology means the function in an individual or an organ is disturbed due to disease, leading to a structural defect. In chiropractic care, it often presents when unusual bony growths, such as bone spurs, attempt to fuse malfunctioning joints, causing the spine to degrade, joints to become altered, scar tissue to develop and the nervous system to stop functioning properly.

Additional outcomes include:

  • Muscle weakness (in the area of the spine)
  • Loss of range of motion

What Causes Pathophysiology?

While a pathophysiological condition can be brought on by age and genetic factors, it can also result from trauma, such as an automobile accident.

Pathophysiology and Vertebral Subluxation Complex

Pathophysiology is just one of five interrelated parts associated with vertebral subluxation complex (VSC), which is a set of signs and symptoms that affect the spinal column. The other four are:

  • Spinal kinesiopathology. This component sets pathophysiology and the remaining interconnected parts of VSC into motion. This occurs when the bones of the spine lose their natural position and motion, which makes it challenging for the individual to bend and turn.
  • Myopathology. The muscles supporting the spine can weaken, causing them to atrophy or stiffen, and, as a result, go into spasm. All of this flexion of the muscles can cause the development of scar tissue that, over time, changes the muscle tone.
  • Neuropathophysiology. The spine houses and protects the nerves and nerve tissue. When the spine functions improperly, it can cut off, distend or inflame fragile nerve tissue and cause the nervous system to malfunction.
  • Histopathology. If the blood and lymph supplies increase, a person’s body temperature can rise, leading to inflammation and swelling of the tissues and muscles around the spine. With this may come protruding, torn, herniated or deteriorated spinal discs.

Treating Pathophysiology

When treating a pathophysiological condition, such as that described above in the first paragraph, chiropractors can use spinal adjustments and soft tissue work.

There are many types of spinal manipulation, some of which include:

  • Toggle Drop. Here, the chiropractor crosses his hands, and then presses firmly down on the area of the spine that is being treated, before apply a quick thrust that adjusts the spine. This should help the vertebral joints move more easily.
  • Release Work. Because pathophysiology causes bony growths to fuse malfunctioning joints of the spine, release work is a common technique used. During release work, the chiropractor uses his fingertips to apply mild pressure and separate the vertebrae in order to restore mobility.
  • Side Posture (also known as the lumbar roll). The patient lies on his or her side while the chiropractor uses a quick but manipulative thrust to return the vertebrae to their original position.
  • Instrument Adjustments. This may be one of the gentlest methods of adjusting the spine. With the patient facing down on the table, the chiropractor utilizes a spring-loaded activator instrument to implement the adjustment.
  • Table Adjustments. The patient will be asked to lie on a table that has sections that drop down. When the chiropractor gives a quick thrust, a section of the table drops. The table lands and comes to a complete stop, but the patient’s body continues its motion. The thrust, drop and momentum of the patient’s body all work to align the spine.

Active Release Techniques

Treatment may not end with spinal adjustments alone. Because the muscles surrounding the spine can become weakened and scar tissue can develop, soft tissue work may be needed. This may come in the form of massage or what is called active release techniques (ART).

With ART, the chiropractor begins by getting a feel of the tissues, specifically looking at texture, motion and tension. Once he has determined the state of the patient’s tissues, he will perform a number of touch-based techniques to do one or more of the following:

  • Shorten or lengthen the tissue
  • Apply contact tension
  • Make the tissue glide relative to the tissue nearby

By performing these movements, mobility can be reestablished; fibrous adhesions can be broken down; trapped nerves or blood vessels can be freed; pain can be diminished; and oxygen and blood can be successfully transported to the muscles and tissues.

To schedule an appointment to learn more about pathophysiology treatments, contact our office today.

Cluster Headaches

While no headache is pleasant, cluster headaches can be particularly uncomfortable. Sufferers liken the sensation to a hot poker being stuck in their eyes, and may even feel like their eyes are being shoved out of their sockets.

Cluster headaches get their name because they occur in a cyclical pattern. The cluster of headaches may last for weeks or months, with remission periods in between. They are also called “suicide headaches,” because they can drive sufferers to despair.

Symptoms

Cluster headaches attack quickly, often painfully awakening people in the middle of the night. Usually the pain focuses around one eye, but can radiate to the face, neck, head or shoulders. Symptoms include drooping eyelids, facial swelling, excessive tearing and a runny nose, usually on one side of the face. The pain and discomfort makes sufferers irritable. Often they pace back and forth. Lying down tends to increase the pain.

The duration of a cluster period varies. During a period of cluster headaches, the sufferer usually gets at least one headache per day, lasting between 15 minutes and three hours. Some sufferers have predictable cluster headaches, which present at the same time every day, or even during a certain season. Often they strike an hour or two after going to bed.

Risk Factors

Men are likelier victims than women, and usually develop this headache disorder between the age of 20 and 50. Smoking and drinking seem to exacerbate the problem. Genetics may also play a role. Researchers do not know the cause of cluster headaches, but suspect it could be linked to an abnormality in the hypothalamus. This part of the brain controls body temperature, hunger, thirst, fatigue and many other bodily functions.

Treatment

Several medications help people with cluster headaches. A doctor can inject the sufferer with drugs called triptans, which ease both cluster headaches and migraines, or with a synthetic hormone called octreotide. Local anesthetics can numb parts of the face. Inhaling pure oxygen often dramatically decreases the grip of cluster headaches within 15 minutes.

The doctor may prescribe a preventive treatment, such as regularly taking calcium channel blockers, lithium carbonate or corticosteroids, which suppress inflammation. However, these medications all have side effects. Taking 10 milligrams of melatonin nightly is a relatively safe intervention that helps some sufferers.

In rare cases, surgeons try to damage nerve pathways around the eyes. Newer treatments involve implanting electrodes in sufferers’ heads to block pain signals.

Because cluster headaches are so intense, the afflicted may feel desperate. Talking to a therapist or joining a support group may provide coping mechanisms.

Chiropractic Treatment for Cluster Headaches

Chiropractors restore necks to their proper alignment. A misaligned cervical vertebra can put pressure on the trigeminal nerve, which carries pain signals during a cluster headache. Sufferers might find help from an upper cervical chiropractic adjustment.

You chiropractor might prescribe exercises or make suggestions to improve your work station’s ergonomics. This assistance might also cut down on misalignments that could aggravate your cluster headaches.

If you suffer from cluster headaches, call our office today. We may be able to help you without the side effects of medications.

Migraine Headaches

About 36 million Americans suffer from the debilitating headaches known as migraines, according to the Migraine Research Foundation. Women between the ages of 25 and 55 are the likeliest victims. Migraine headaches can last anywhere from a few hours to three days, drastically compromising individuals’ work, social and family lives and often landing them in emergency rooms. Other issues may accompany the migraine, such as nausea, visual disturbances, dizziness, tingling and sensitivity to light, sound, smell and touch.

Symptoms

Migraines often start on one side of the head, but may spread to both sides. Typically, the worst pain is around the sides of the forehead. Many sufferers experience what’s called an aura. This visual disturbance may manifest itself as a temporary blind spot, blurred vision, zigzag lines or flashing lights. When a migraine occurs, sufferers likely feel irritable, depressed and simply want to lie down in a dark and quiet room.

Causes

Why do some people get migraines and others don’t? Researchers aren’t sure. Genetics seem to play a part. When the migraine starts, blood vessels constrict, which can cause the changes in vision. Then the vessels dilate, flooding the brain with blood and ramping up the headache.

Triggers vary between individuals. Alcohol and certain foods, such as chocolate, aged cheeses or meals containing nitrates or MSG, launch many a headache. For other people, crying, stress, odors, hormonal fluctuation or loud noises can trigger migraines.

Treatment

Unfortunately, researchers haven’t yet figured out how to cure migraines. Treatment focuses on two fronts: preventing migraines and decreasing pain once a headache is underway.

If you suffer from migraines, keep a headache journal. Recording the events in the 24 hours preceding your migraine can help you identify triggers. If your headaches coincide with eating certain foods, prevention may require a change in diet. If stress triggers migraines, learning relaxation techniques could be helpful.

Many doctors prescribe medications for preventing migraines, including beta blockers, calcium channel blockers, antidepressants, anticonvulsants and even Botox. Sufferers can also take drugs that constrict blood vessels in the brain as soon as they feel a headache coming on. These approaches work for some people, but most medications have side effects.

Alternative therapies for preventing migraine headaches include massage, herbs, nutritional supplements and acupuncture. Sufferers and researchers have experimented with many vitamins, herbs and minerals. According to the Mayo Clinic, some evidence suggests that the herbs butterbur and feverfew may prevent migraine headaches, or at least decrease their severity. Coenzyme Q10 and high doses of vitamin B2 might also help prevent or reduce the frequency of migraines. Don’t experiment with these supplements if you’re pregnant.

Chiropractic Care and Migraines

Some migraine sufferers turn to chiropractors for relief from their headaches. Spinal manipulations lessened the severity and frequency of attacks in some clinical trial participants, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.

If you suffer from migraines, call our clinic. A spinal adjustment could help your condition without the side effects of medications.

Tension Headaches

Tension headaches are the most common type of headache. The pain usually spreads throughout the head so that sufferers feel like they’re wearing a tight band.

Doctors divide tension headaches into two types — episodic and chronic. The episodic variety lasts from half an hour to a week, and recurs for up to two weeks each month. Chronic tension headaches may be continuous and last for hours. If you have the band-around-your-head feeling for more than 15 days a month, for at least three months in a row, you may suffer from chronic tension headaches.

Tension headaches usually correlate with depression, anxiety and emotional suffering. Alternatively, the cause could be physical, such as muscle strain due to a neck injury or abnormality in the cervical vertebrae. Some children develop tension headaches due to eye strain.

Symptoms

Tension headache symptoms include:

  • Persistent dull ache in the head
  • Tender shoulder and neck muscles
  • Sensitive scalp
  • Tightness around forehead, sides and back of head
  • Worsening as the day goes on

Treatment

Treatment focuses on preventing tension headaches and on decreasing pain once they strike. You can take prescription-strength or over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers. For non-drug pain relief, try altering temperature. A heating pad or an ice pack might help. You can also try acupuncture or massage.

Some doctors prescribe preventive medicines, including antidepressants, muscle relaxants and anticonvulsants. These help some sufferers, but have side effects.

Given that tension headaches often go hand in hand with anxiety and stress, some sufferers try calming activities, such as yoga, meditation or spending time in nature. Regular aerobic exercise can ease depression and possibly decrease headache pain.

Chiropractic Care and Tension Headaches

Improving your posture might keep your neck muscles more relaxed. A chiropractor can assess your spinal alignment and make manual adjustments as needed. Because many tension headaches start in the neck, your chiropractic doctor might focus on adjusting your cervical vertebrae. He or she might also advise you on ergonomics, relaxation techniques and helpful exercises.

Chiropractic care offers pain relief without the side effects of medications. If you suffer from tension headaches, call our clinic today so we can help alleviate your symptoms.

Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Disorder

The temporomandibular joint connects the jawbone to the skull. Up to 10 million people suffer from painful temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD), according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. Symptoms include pain in the face and neck, locked jaw or limited jaw movement, painful clicking when moving the mouth, dizziness, difficulty chewing or swallowing and a change in the way the teeth fit together. TMD is about four times more common in women than men.

Causes

TMD has many causes, some physical, some emotional. A jaw injury, such as one caused by a car accident or being hit hard by a ball, can lead to TMD. Degenerative joint disease is another leading physical cause of TMD.

Emotional stress can cause behaviors that lead to TMD, such as clenching the jaw or grinding the teeth.

Conventional Treatment

You can manage TMD through medications or lifestyle interventions. Your doctor may recommend muscle relaxants or pain relievers. Certain types of antidepressants also relieve pain. If you clench your teeth at night, aggravating your TMD pain, your doctor might prescribe a sedative. These medications bring along a variety of side effects.

Other interventions don’t require drugs. Rest your jaws by eating soup or soft food. Avoid chewing gum. Firm or soft bite guards sometimes relieve pain, and keep you from grinding your teeth at night. Ice packs or moist heat can help. A physical therapist can teach you exercises to strengthen and stretch your jaw muscles.

If stress and anxiety are the cause of your TMD, try relaxation techniques. Mindfulness meditation, acupuncture, biofeedback, talking to a counselor or massage might help.

In extreme cases, some doctors recommend surgery to repair this joint.

Chiropractic Care and TMJ

Some patients with TMD find relief through chiropractic care. A chiropractor can manipulate your neck and jaw to improve alignment and relax muscle tension. Many chiropractors will also recommend special exercises, hot and cold treatment and other non-pharmaceutical interventions. Your chiropractor might team up with your dentist to provide the best care.

If you’re suffering from TMD, call us today so we can help ease your jaw pain.

Knee Pain

Knee pain is common in people of all ages. It may start suddenly — such as after exercise or an injury. But it can also develop over time, starting out as minor discomfort.

Chiropractic care for knee pain includes first identifying the underlying cause of the pain, which could be an injury, mechanical problem or some kind of arthritis. Once this is known, the chiropractor can determine the best treatment for the pain.

Causes of Knee Pain

There are three main types of problems that can lead to pain in the knee.

Injuries: Damaging any part of the knee may cause pain. These parts include:

  • The structures that surround the knee — the ligaments, tendons and fluid-filled sacs
  • The parts of the knee itself — ligaments, cartilage and bones

Some of the most common knee injuries include:

  • Tearing of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL)
  • Tearing of the meniscus. The shock absorbing cartilage between the bones of the shin and thigh
  • Knee bursitis. Inflammation of the fluid-filled sacs that cushion the knee
  • Patellar tendinitis. Inflammation of the tendons that connect the muscles to the bones

Mechanical problems: Changes in how the knee works can lead to pain in the knee, such as:

  • Iliotibial band syndrome. Tightening of the ligament that runs from the pelvic bone to the outside of the tibia, which can cause it to rub on the outside of the thigh bone
  • Dislocated kneecap. This happens when the kneecap (patella) slips out of place.
  • Hip or foot pain. These can change how you walk and lead to more stress on the knee.

Arthritis: There are many different types of arthritis that can cause swelling and pain in the knee, including:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Gout
  • Septic arthritis

How Chiropractic Care Relieves Knee Pain

Chiropractors will first do a thorough physical examination. This will enable them to identity the underlying cause of the knee pain. Even though the pain is located in the knee, the problem can lie elsewhere in the body.

For example, runners often complain of a tight iliotibial (IT) band — a common condition for them. This, however, may be caused by weakness in certain muscles, which makes them walk or run unevenly. In order to stabilize the joints, the IT band has to work harder. Over time, this may cause it to tighten and lead to knee pain.

Chiropractic care may be able to relieve knee pain, especially when combined with standard medical care. Spine and joint manipulation can improve the functioning of the knee by:

  • Returning the spine to normal movement
  • Relaxing the muscles of the body
  • Increasing the range of motion in the knee
  • Improving the coordination of joints, especially the ankle, knee and hips
  • Reducing other problems in the body that may be contributing to pain in the knee

Chiropractors may also use other techniques to reduce inflammation in the knee that is causing pain, such as ultrasound therapy or ice massage. They may also apply special kinds of tape to the body to treat ligament injuries. This helps stabilize the problem area and reduce inflammation.

Relief From Knee Pain and Overall Health

Excessive knee pain can often lead to people avoiding certain activities, such as walking, running or biking. Over time, the lack of physical activity can lead to other health problems and may aggravate the pain in the knee.

Early treatment of knee pain, along with the underlying causes, can help people return to their normal activities sooner. This will improve their health both in the short and long term. It will also allow athletes to return to their training and competitions.

Shin Splints

Shin splints are characterized by pain in the front part of the lower leg. It occurs on the inside edge of the large bone there — the tibia. This condition is common in runners, but can also occur in other physically active people.

Shin splints usually happen during or after a change in the intensity of physical activity, such as running more miles or more frequently.

Shin splints are not a standard medical diagnosis. The condition may also be called medial tibial stress syndrome (MTSS), anterior tibial pain or exercise-induced leg pain.

Causes of Shin Splints

Shin splints are very common among professional and recreational athletes, especially runners, military recruits and dancers.

Overuse of the leg muscles — without taking enough time to rest and heal — can lead to inflammation or swelling of the tendons, muscles or tissue covering the shin.

This causes pain along the front of the shin. Symptoms range from a dull, tight feeling to a sharp pain along the shin.

Several factors increase your chance of developing shin splints, such as:

  • Running long distances or on hills or uneven surfaces
  • Training incorrectly or too much
  • Switching your routine
  • Wearing the wrong shoes
  • Not warming up properly
  • Foot problems

In addition to excessive training, other conditions can also lead to pain in the shins, such as:

  • Flat feet
  • A very rigid arch of the foot
  • Chronic anterior compartment syndrome (when the large muscle on the front of the lower leg becomes too large for the tissue that surrounds it)
  • Stress fractures

Chiropractic Care for Shin Splints

Shin splints will often go away with basic therapy, which involves:

  • Rest
  • Ice
  • Massage
  • Rehabilitation exercises
  • stretching
  • Kinesio taping

However, if the shin splits don not clear up quickly, your chiropractor will look for other problems that may be contributing to the pain. This includes examining your spine, hips, knees and feet for misalignments.

One problem with the foot that can lead to shin splints is over pronation — or “rolling in” of the foot. This condition causes overstretching in the shin muscles. If this is the case, your chiropractor may prescribe a foot orthotic for you. This will adjust how your foot strikes the ground.

Your chiropractor may also make adjustments in your foot joints, ankle, knee, SI joint or low back. This can relieve the pain from shin splints, or prevent them from happening again.

If you have shin splints, look for a chiropractor who specializes in treating sports injuries and conditions. This will help you return to your regular training program.

Orthotics

Foot Orthotics

Whenever your run, walk or stand, your feet form the foundation of your body. Sometimes, though, the shape of your foot or an injury can affect the angle at which your foot strikes the ground. If severe enough, this can cause pain in the foot, as well as in the legs, low back and other areas of the body.

Because of the importance of the feet in our lives, stabilizing them is an important part of chiropractic care. If you have an imbalance in your feet, your chiropractor may suggest orthotics. These customized shoe inserts can reduce symptoms and improve your walking and running without the need for treatments like surgery.

How Orthotics Work

Orthotics change the angle at which the foot strikes the ground. They can also absorb some of the impact when you walk or run, improve your balance and shift pressure from sore parts of the foot.

One type of orthotics is used for people with soft tissue problems, such as diabetes. These shoe inserts can reduce the pressure on areas of the feet where ulcers (open sores) may occur. This may reduce the need for amputation.

The other type of orthotics is designed to improve how the foot strikes the ground. They basically work by bringing the ground up to the foot. These can also be used to treat conditions such as tendinitis and shin splints.

For example, people whose ankle rolls inward as they walk or run — pronation — may be given orthotics to keep their foot, ankle and leg in alignment. This can reduce pain in the feet, knees and hips. It may also reduce the wear and tear on the joints.

Fitting of Orthotics

Over-the-counter shoe inserts are available at pharmacies and sports or shoe stores. In many cases, these will work fine. For more serious foot conditions, a customized orthotic can work better. These are shaped specifically to fit your foot. They are also made of stronger materials and will last longer.

To fit your orthotics, your chiropractor will examine your feet and watch you walk. He or she will also ask you about symptoms that you might be having, such as pain in the foot or legs, and whether you have any health conditions such as diabetes.

If your chiropractor decides that orthotics are a good option for you, he or she will take a three-dimensional picture of your foot or use a mold to create a replica of your foot shape. These will be used to create an orthotic that is designed to improve your comfort and mobility.

If you are experiencing pain your feet or legs, ask your chiropractor whether orthotics might be a good fit for you.

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Rockville Medical & Disc Center, LLC is a chiropractic and physical therapy clinic serving Rockville MD North Bethesda, and Gaithersburg MD and the surrounding Montgomery County and Washington DC areas. Physical medicine is a combination of physical therapy (PT), chiropractic, rehab, non-invasive pain management, acupuncture, cold laser and spinal decompression.

Whether you have an injury or a car accident problem, have a specific body problem (such as back pain, neck pain, headaches, scoliosis or TMJ), need pain relief, or just want to improve your overall health, Rockville Medical and Disc Center, LLC may have a solution for you through its numerous services. You can visit our testimonials page to see how many patients have benefited from seeing this Rockville pain relief clinic in Montgomery County, Maryland with our Physical Medical Office and getting regular treatments.

At your first visit to Rockville Medical and Disc Center, LLC, we will explain to you how the science of pain management works, and give you a full evaluation to see if our care is right for you. If there is a good fit, we can develop a plan of care that is specific to your condition and health goals.

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