Chiropractic Manipulation

Chiropractic Manipulation

Manipulation, also known as an “adjustment,” is one of the main tools used in this office to provide relief for back and neck pain. Joint pain in the spine is often the result of hypo-mobility (lack of mobility) in a joint or section of joints. This can be caused by lack of mobility in general as is often the case when a patient does the majority of their work seated in front of a computer for hours each day.

There are other reasons for joint pain as well. Sometimes the joints of the spine can become chronically inflamed from repetitive motions. In other cases, an acute trauma can lock a joint down and prevent it from moving. On occasion, even a simple sneeze can cause acute back or neck pain.

Regardless of the cause, joints of the axial skeleton (that is to say, the spine and other midline skeletal anatomy) need to move the way they were designed to move. When they don’t, pain is a part of the clinical picture. Other repercussions of limited joint movement can be lack of balance and coordination, muscle spasm, and/or poor sleeping patterns. There are several reasons for these symptoms.

First, it is important to understand that the movement of your joints communicates to your brain information about where your body is in space. The five dollar word for this is proprioception. Without proper joint function in the spine, your brain doesn’t get sufficient information and can’t coordinate body movements as well. Manipulation can help turn that function back on, which can improve balance and athletic performance. In one study, a group of golfers received spinal manipulation, while the other group received a stretching protocol. The golfers who received manipulation improved their swings, and this happened after only four treatment sessions.

Next, you should understand that if you have immobilized segments in your spine, the body’s natural protective mechanism is to engage the surrounding muscles to protect that segment. Often, it is the muscle pain that results from long term, chronically engaged muscles that leads people to seek help. Massage is generally of limited utility in these situations, because the muscles that end up getting massaged are doing the job of protecting the immobilized joint. Massaging those muscles only makes them mad. To fix the problem, the joints need to be restored to function. Then the muscles can be treated more directly with massage or other methods.

When spinal segments are dysfunctional it leads to pain, which causes a “fight or flight” response neurologically. When this response is initiated and maintained for days or weeks, one of the first and worst symptoms is lack of quality sleep. After all, if your body is in fight mode, it’s not worried about sleeping. Sleeping can get you killed if you should be running from a grizzly bear. But if you’re trying to rest and recover from an injury, lack of adequate sleep can make you miserable. Restoring joint function can reboot this entire system.

Finally, manipulation has an amazing pain relieving quality for many people, regardless of the cause of their pain. This is because manipulation stimulates mechanoreceptors, which are nerves that send information to the brain about varying stimuli such as vibration, light touch, and temperature changes. The joints of the spine are loaded with mechanoreceptors, because another function of these nerves, as previously stated, is proprioception.

Once stimulated, these nerves send their very fast signals up the spinal cord to different centers of the brain for processing. These signals share space in the spinal cord that also transmit nociception, that is, the nerve input that is interpreted as pain. Nociceptors have a slower nerve conduction speed, and stimulating mechanoreceptors gives competition in the spinal cord for the different signals. The faster signals of mechanoreceptors “crowds out” some of the signal from nociceptors and quiets down their effect on your pain perception.

It is important to note, that not all practitioners who deliver spinal manipulation are created equal. There are many competing techniques among the differing professions that offer this kind of treatment (most manipulation is done by chiropractors, but there are also doctors of osteopathy, and some physical therapist performing manipulation).

In the world of chiropractic, there are several ways by which manipulation is thought about and subsequently taught. The most well-known evidence-based technique is taught by the Motion Palpation Institute (MPI). The MPI has been around since the early 80’s and teaches manipulation techniques based on current evidence for efficacy. Once practitioners have completed the upper and lower quadrant technique seminars along with the extremity adjusting class, they are eligible to be a part of the MPI referral network.

Presently there are only four chiropractors in Texas on that list, and Dr. Green is the only chiropractor in Houston to represent the MPI.

If you’re having back or neck pain, you have found your place. Give us a call today: 832-203-5884