kids are way too young for spinal problems…”
my years in practice, people have often asked why we check so many
kids in the office. Most people are under the impression that
children are way too young to have a structural problem in the spine.
For the most part, you would be absolutely correct. About 60% of the
kids we check in the office have no structural problems at all, and
thank goodness for that.
statistics from the Center for Disease Control show some alarming
numbers. Each year, over 1 million children between the ages
of 0-5 will be hospitalized due to a fall. Another 700,000
will be hospitalized from an accidental trauma. That’s not even
including the number of kids who will suffer a trauma to the spine,
but are never taken to the ER!
think about this, most people will never even know or think about
taking their kids to a chiropractor following a fall or trauma.
The great news is that kids are extraordinarily resilient to injury.
They bounce back up, and their ability to heal is just much better
than that of an average adult. However, structural problems in the
spine don’t necessarily cause neck pain and back pain, especially
in children. What they can do is create other secondary conditions.
Whenever there is pressure in the nerves at the base of the brain
from a structural misalignment at the top of the neck, many kids can
show conditions like:
are just some of the common conditions that parents bring their kids
to chiropractors for. While it’s not a chiropractor’s job to
treat these symptoms, they are signs that the nerve supply from a
child’s spine is compromised. On many kids, this can be tied to a
difficult or traumatic birth process.
best part of all is how much kids love getting gentle adjustments.
It’s often times a parent’s worst nightmare to take their kids to
a doctor. The screaming and tantrums on display at a pediatrician or
a dentist can unnerve even the strongest parent. A child and infant
adjustment is very different than adults, and you’ll usually see
kids jumping on to my tables excited to be checked!
the most important reason that kids should be checked early is just
because it makes sense. When most of us adults
develop some bad secondary conditions, x-rays usually show that a
problem has been growing in the spine for 15+ years. Why let kids
develop the same problems that us adults have had. Just like we take
our kids for a dental check-up to ensure that they are free of
cavities, our kids deserve a structural check-up to prevent the
damage of a developing spine.
a fair question to ask as a patient. In some branches of health care,
such as dentistry or orthopedics, x-rays are routine and are
performed without any doubts or questions. Patients understand that
without x-rays, the dentist or orthopedic surgeon would be flying
blind, and the quality and safety of the procedure would be
in other branches of health care such as chiropractic, the use of
x-rays is debatable. In fact, the majority of chiropractors do not
take x-rays as a standard practice. So when a patient enters Premier
Chiropractic and discovers that x-rays are a standard practice for
all cases, naturally they have a few questions.
most patients, the questions arise from the fear of receiving too
much radiation and increasing their risk of cancer. Although that
fear is valid – excessive exposure to ionizing radiation (like
x-rays) can increase the risk of cancer – once our patients
understand the clinical need for x-rays, and the actual dosage they
receive, their fears are quickly put to rest.
quickly address the fear of increased cancer risk first. X-rays are
form of radiant energy, like light or radio waves, but x-rays have
the ability to penetrate body. X-rays occur in nature (called
“background” radiation) and most commonly come from cosmic
radiation (space) and radioactive materials (most commonly from radon
gas). Therefore we are always exposed to them at some level. The
dosage is most commonly measured in millisieverts (mSv).
damage caused by x-rays is like a wound in the sense that, with time,
the body can fully heal and recover. So a large dose of radiation
from x-rays can be tolerated as long as it’s not too frequent. And
a small dose of x-rays can be tolerated on a more frequent basis. To
put things in perspective, one chest x-ray exposes a person to 0.1
mSv, which is equivalent to the amount of radiation exposure they
would experience from their natural surroundings in 10 days.
x-rays we take at Premier Chiropractic amount to roughly 0.5 mSv,
which is equivalent to the amount of radiation exposure you would get
from your natural surroundings in about 2 months.,
let’s address why we need to take take x-rays. The
bones in your spine are highly variable from one person to the next.
Just like no two people look exactly alike (except maybe identical
twins), no two spines look exactly alike. Furthermore, the uniqueness
of the individual, how they are shaped, how they move, makes it
nearly impossible analyze accurately with palpation (touch) alone.
summary, just as an orthopedic surgeon or dentist needs x-rays in
order to perform his or her job and provide the highest quality of
care to the patient, so do structural chiropractors at Premier
Chiropractic need to take x-rays.
your health is on the line, you don’t want us to be guessing do
try to be an educated consumer when you’re choosing a car, house,
or TV, but what about when you’re choosing something else that is
also very important… such as a chiropractor? There are some key
questions to ask yourself before choosing a chiropractor to care for
your spine and nervous system. After all, your nerve system is a very
important part of your body that controls all of your functions;
picking a care provider is not something to jump into without careful
here are some questions to ask yourself when choosing a Doctor of
Why Am I Looking For A Chiropractor?
is the first question that you want to ask yourself to help you
choose the type of chiropractor you go to. If you have a
surface-level ache, pain, or strain, and you simply want a quick fix
so you can get back on the road again, you’ll want to look for a
chiropractor who will take care of you for the immediate issue. When
you see a chiropractor for this type of objective, he/she generally
will not do a complete assessment of your spine or nervous system,
but will rather work on relieving acute pain/muscle spasms and
improving range of motion.
just like any other area of your health, there’s a difference
between a quick fix and sustainable change. If you are looking for
sustainable results or improvement for your spine or nervous system,
or to get to the root cause of a recurring health concern, you would
want to find a chiropractor to perform a comprehensive assessment.
Do I Want Less Or More… Or Maybe Both?
often people are motivated to go to a chiropractor because they want
less of something that they don’t like: back pain, neck pain, arm
pain, shoulder pain, knee pain, something that is disturbing how they
are living. They just want to go back to the way they were before. If
that’s you, make sure you have the right expectation when you go in
to the chiropractor that you really just want to experience less of
something that is disturbing you.
people want more. In addition to eliminating something that they
don’t like, they would like to have more of what they do want: more
energy, more joy, better sleep, better mental state, more life
enjoyment and improved quality of life. When you want more of
something, you want to look for a chiropractor who is going to be
able to help you improve your overall function, retrain and
reorganize your nerve system and not just get you back to a prior
minimal state. The state that led to you ending up where you are now.
Am I Looking For A Conventional Experience Or An Outstanding
majority of conventional chiropractic practitioners, physical
therapists, and other healthcare providers related to the spine are
focused on eliminating the condition the patient is presenting with
on the surface. This is generally working on temporary range of
motion improvement, bone re-alignment, or muscle spasm and pain
relief. If you want to have an outstanding experience, then find a
chiropractor who can identify and focus on the underlying Structural
dysfunctions that may be at the root cause of the structural and
behavioral shifts which are affecting your health and life
experience. Go for outstanding in your chiropractic care and your
you would like to have your nerve system checked for its Structural
integrity, a consultation to discuss your concerns may be a great
place to start. Find out where to go from here by contacting
our office at248-287-8700
One of the most common problems I hear about with patients with chronic pain is that rainy weather seems to make things worse. Is there a real biological reason for this or is this just an old wives tale that has been passed on through time?
Don’t Stop Believing: The Uncontrollable Factor
People have been talking about how they can sense weather patterns in their joints for thousands of years. You’ve probably heard of this phenomenon from your grandmother or another relative whose arthritis pain flared up when it rains. They might say that they feel the rain in their bones.
Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine, was the first to note changes in a person’s illness status due to weather way back in 400 BC. Yet, as long as this idea has been around, studies about this phenomenon have been inconclusive. Some studies show that pain patients can feel a difference, while others say that the weather makes no difference.
It’s hard to study this effect because of the impact that belief systems have on pain. When human beings have a strong enough belief in something, it can drastically affect their perception of the world. This is seen in pain science all the time, and it makes studying pain very challenging and difficult.
Short of locking people in a box and hiding them from weather reports, it’s hard to know how this affects humans with any degree of certainty.
Animal Studies Leaving Clues
While belief systems can impact humans, some of our furry friends have helped leave some clues.
Scientists believe that the pressure in the air (barometric pressure) is what allows people to feel pain when the weather changes. When storms come, the pressure in the atmosphere begins to drop. The theory is that as air pressure drops, it decreases the amount of pressure on your joints leading to the joints and soft tissues to expand and irritate nerve endings causing pain.
In Michigan, we get experience weather changes quickly so pain patients have the unfortunate opportunity to experience this regularly.
Scientists tested this idea on guinea pigs and rats. They placed animals bred with with a pain predisposition into two environments. One group had normal air pressure while the other group had the air pressure lowered artificially.
They found that the low pressure animals showed increased pain behavior compared to the controls.
This is important because you can’t sway or convince an animal that lower pressure is going to make them hurt more. It’s a much closer relationship to cause and effect than can be currently studied in human beings.
So What? Is This Treatable?
So we know that feeling weather changes when you have pain syndromes is at least plausible based on animal models, but why does it happen and is it treatable? The truth is, we still don’t really know what mechanisms cause this type of pain so we have no idea if it’s treatable or preventable.
Based on my experience, I believe that when pain tends to be triggered or aggravated by weather, there’s likely a pain processing problem in the body.
Tissue Damage vs Pain Perception
The most common conditions associated with weather-related pain are osteoarthritis (wear and tear arthritis, not joints on fire arthritis), headaches, and fibromyalgia. The important thing to note about these 3 conditions is that the pain related to these conditions is NOT dependent on tissue damage. What does that mean?
It means that the level of pain associated with these conditions is not tied to the amount of damage that’s in the body. When you have a sprained ankle, broken bone, torn muscle, or a cut, there is damage done to the tissues that sets off a series of chemical signals meant to trigger a pain response. It’s a very linear relationship.
With joint degeneration, you might feel pain, you might not. With headaches and fibromyalgia, there’s not necessarily any physical damage that’s related to the the pain being felt.
It’s not to say that the pain isn’t real, it just means that there’s no obvious source of damage that’s causing the pain. The problem is related to the way your brain processes pain. Your brain has a built in volume control for pain perception. It can turn these signals up in certain situations, and it can turn it down in others. Chronic pain patients have their volume dial on high all the time.
It’s not just a matter of belief. Although that’s an important piece of the puzzle, there are other factors like:
Hormones in the blood
Joint movement, especially in the spine
That’s why pain isn’t just a physical phenomenon. I’m sure you’ve been in a situation where you you suffered an injury, but you didn’t feel it until much later. This happens frequently after the shock of car accident, the thril of playing in a championship game, or the necessity of escaping a dangerous situation.
You get stunned, your heart races, adrenaline is surging through the veins, and you don’t notice any pain until hours later when those hormones leave the blood stream.
Pain Perception is Malleable
This brings some good news and bad news.
Bad News: It means that for lots of cases, there might not be a treatable lesion that is generating some of the chronic pain problems you’re feeling.
Good News: This also means that your pain levels are malleable and there are different things you can do to turn down the volume of the pain you experience. Things like meditation, exercise, and cognitive therapy can all allow us to change our experience with pain, and get a little bit more control over how we feel. It gives us control over the volume dial.
This is actually one of the primary mechanisms that Structural Corrections can help people with headaches, fibromyalgia, and arthritis related pain syndromes. We are not fixing or repairing damaged tissue, we are creating an environment for healthy neurological function.
When the structure of the spine are disrupted, it decreases 2 things:
Blood supply in and out of the brain
Mechanical input into the brain
Both of these factors cause the brain to be more sensitive to pain signals. When the spine moves better and normal blood supply is restored, you can see not only an improvement to someone’s weather related pain, but also an improved resiliency and control over chronic pain syndromes.
year, hundreds of THOUSANDS of people will under go some form of
spinal surgery. These surgeries range from spinal fusions,
discectomies, disc replacements, and more.
would like to discuss a popular misconception. Many people think that
if they’ve had surgery on their spine, then there’s no way that
they can see a chiropractor. Now, based on what many people perceive
of chiropractic, I can’t say that I blame them at all. If you’ve
had rods, plates, and screws placed into your spine, then the thought
of someone wrenching or twisting the spine, causing damage in the
surgical attachments…it sounds downright terrifying.
All Chiropractic Techniques Are the Same
people associate chiropractic with a move you’d see out of a
martial arts movie. The truth is, there are many ways to bring about
a correction of the spine, and some are very gentle and non-invasive.
Some are so safe that they can be used on elderly folks with
osteoporosis, new born babies, people with herniated discs, and even
people who have had surgery. In our office, we use only the most
precise and gentle chiropractic approaches so that we can take care
of people of any population.
to say, safety isn’t the main issue when you’re armed with the
correct chiropractic tools. The big question that remains is:Can
chiropractic help me even if surgery didn’t?
was taking care of a patient who had had surgery on her neck for neck
pain and arm pain. Since the surgery, her pain persisted. She was
tired of trying to fix the problem and had basically given up on
herself. Very unlikely that she would ever walk into my office of her
was referred to the office to give Structural
care a try. After a consultation and an explanation of my adjusting
techniques, she felt safe enough to give it a go. In a few short
weeks, many of the symptoms she had before the surgery started to go
away. Now here is a VERY VERY VERY important point:
adjustments did NOT NOT NOT make her pain go away
this might sound crazy, but it’s not the adjustment that did the
healing. Adjustments in of themselves have NO capacity to heal
problem was that her neck had shifted so far out of place, that the
nerves in her neck were being compressed and irritated. When you add
the surgery on top of it, it had locked the neck in a shifted
position even further. The adjustments simply help to restore the
NORMAL alignment of the head and neck. When the spine goes back to
normal, then the nerves can work again. It’s that simple.
is not an unusual situation. In fact, because of the focus on
structural correction and the gentle adjustment techniques, I have
been referred dozens of patients after surgery in the past, and
almost all of them respond great to our care.
you, or someone you know has had surgery, there are very real
limitations to how much the structure of the spine can be corrected.
As much as I love and enjoy helping patients post-surgery, the best
thing anyone can do is to have their structure corrected BEFORE
surgery becomes part of the picture. That way you can achieve a
maximum correction, and have less dependency on chiropractic to stay
my experience, I’ve found that whiplash is a commonly misunderstood diagnosis
among the patient population. Many people self-diagnose the pain in the neck
following a bad roller coaster ride or car accident as a whiplash injury. While
they may or may not be correct, the truth is that whiplash is a type of injury
with serious implications, and is frequently mismanaged by unscrupulous folks
with a big stake in the business of personal injury.
Whiplash is a common name for a
group of neck disorders known as cervical acceleration-deceleration injury or
cervical sprain/strain injury. It occurs when the head and neck are placed in
motion and suddenly forced to a stop causing a hyperflexion or hyperextension
This irregular movement of the neck causes the ligaments of the spine
to sprain and the muscles to splint the unstable structure. This type of injury
is also known to cause the discs of the spine to bulge and herniate, thus
complicating matters even further.
It’s easy to see how whiplash can be
a real pain in the neck (pun intended), but most people treat it like a
sprained ankle and hope that the pain goes away in a few weeks. However, there
can be long term consequences; even for people who don’t have pain symptoms
immediately. Research has shown that whiplash associated disorders are related
to inflammatory and endocrine problems like those seen in chronic fatigue
syndrome or fibromyalgia1. Whiplash is also associated with chronic
pain by making your brain more sensitive to pain signals, which explains why so
many people can suffer without any evidence of physical damage2.
Additionally, people who report whiplash injuries after a rear-end accident are
likely to show complaints of headaches, TMJ, back pain, fatigue, and sleep
problems even 7 years later3! Whiplash has even been associated with
chronic inflammation by making the body’s own immune system overly responsive
to normal stimuli4,5.
Though the focus of my practice has
never been on auto-accidents cases, the truth is that most drivers will be
involved in a collision no matter how good a driver they may be. Most will
probably not experience pain immediately after a collision, especially if
you’re in your teens or early 20’s. However, the impact of a vehicle traveling
at speeds as low as 15 mph can show visible signs of structural damage to the
neck. These include s-shaped curves in the neck, anterior ligament instability, atlas displacement,
and Anterior Head Syndrome. A recent study has found that this type of trauma
to the spine can cause parts of the brain and brain stem to slip further into
the neck creating a condition called Chiari Malformation6. While
they may not be painful in their early stages, these structural changes can
pre-dispose the spine to early degeneration and arthritis if left uncorrected
over the course of several years.
Normal Neck X-Ray
S-shape X-ray Characteristic of
As a chiropractor focused on Structural Correction, I see patients everyday with Secondary Conditions like headaches and TMJ related
to accidents that took place many years earlier. While some of these patients
suffered painful injuries and received treatment following an accident, most
people will walk in and say they didn’t have any symptoms until years later.
When someone asks why their pain seemed to come out of nowhere, I can usually
look at their x-ray and see that the structure of the neck fits the familiar
S-shape of a previous rear end collision.
Here are your take home messages:
First, problems can grow in the body in the absence of
symptoms. Much like cancer and heart disease don’t happen overnight,
people with chronic pain usually under go slow physiologic changes in
their brain and hormonal systems for years before they have a condition
that won’t go away.
Second, if you have a physical/structural problem, then
you must go beyond treating the pain symptoms to help get full resolution
of the problem. Whiplash injuries cause distinct structural problems in
the spine. While pain relief is important, making the pain go away while leaving
the structure in bad shape is like taking the battery out of a smoke
detector when a fire is burning in the house.
Whiplash associated disorders can be
a complicated problem that requires a comprehensive solution. When selecting a
team of doctors, make sure that you have someone in your corner that can look
at you from a functional standpoint rather than sheer pathology, that addresses
the structure of your spine in 3-dimensions, and understands the nature of
1. Banic B, Peterson-Felix S, Anderson OK et al. Evidence
for spinal cord hypersensitivity in chronic pain after whiplash injury and
in fibromyalgia. Pain. January 2004. 7-15.
2. Berglund A, Afredsson L, Jensen I, Cassidy JD, Nygren
Ake. The association between exposure to a rear-end collision and future health
complaints. J of Clinical Epidemiology. Aug 2001 (54): 851-856.
3. Kivioja J, Rinaldi L, Ozenci V et al. Chemokines
and their receptors in whiplash injury: elevated RANTES and CCR-5. J
Clin Immunol. Jul 2001; 21(4): 272-7
4. Kivioja J, Ozenci V, Rinaldi L. Systemic response
5. Gaab J, Baumann S, Budnoik A et al. Reduced reactivity
and enhanced negative feedback sensitivity of the
hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis in chronic whiplash associated
disorder. Pain. December 2005. 119(1). 219-224.
6. Freeman MD, Rosa S, Harshfield D et al. A case-control
study of cerebellar tonsillar ectopia (Chiari) and head/neck trauma
(whiplash). Brain Inj. 2010; 24(7-8): 988-94.
If you have experienced this kind of injury, call our office today and book your consultation. 248-287-8700
If you have ever been to a doctor’s
office and had an x-ray performed, you have likely heard about something called
spinal degeneration. Spinal degeneration is a condition in which the discs and
joints of the spine begin to narrow and often form bone spurs.
If you’ve ever been to a
chiropractor’s office and seen your x-rays, you’ve probably seen a chart that
looks like this:
You compared yourself to one of
these images, and identified yourself within one of the various phases of
spinal degeneration. Maybe you felt confused. Maybe you felt alarmed, perhaps
even a little scared. Either way, you knew that your spine probably didn’t look
like the “normal” and that you had work to do.
Bad is it Really?
No one likes to be told that their
spine is developing arthritic degeneration. It’s a sign that the days of our
youth are fading, and a reminder that our bodies are not going to last forever.
Everyone will develop some level of
spinal degeneration as we get older.
Regardless of whether someone has a
lifetime of chiropractic, supplements, positive mental attitude, etc, we cannot
stop discs from breaking down or bone spurs from forming. Once people get
into their 40’s and 50’s, we expect to see some degree of degeneration in the
spine to occur.
Are there those in their 70’s
without it? Sure. But those are OUTLIERS, and we don’t make predictions based
on a handful of outliers.
With that being said, here are some
quick facts to know about spinal degeneration.
1. Degeneration ≠ Pain –
One of the things that frustrates me is when someone tells a patient that they
are going to live with chronic pain because they have spinal degeneration.
While many people with degeneration
do have spinal pain, an OVERWHELMING MAJORITY of people with degeneration have
no pain what so ever.
While a lot of people with pain have
some level of spinal degeneration, that doesn’t mean that spinal degeneration
is the CAUSE of their pain.
I’ve seen many patients with massive
spinal degeneration, and many of them will get better despite the fact that
their degeneration has NOT CHANGED.
We have to resist being trapped
within a diagnosis, especially if that diagnosis has a high degree of
2. Your Spine Isn’t Going to Fuse
(Probably) – some patients have concerns that a doctor told them that
their spine is fusing. This is always something that raises my eyebrows because
there are less than a handful of situations where you would expect the segments
of the spine to fuse together.
Vertebra don’t fuse as they degenerate. Discs will get
closer together to where there’s minimal space, but regular degeneration
WILL NOT turn into a fused vertebra. They are completely different things.
We have NO idea what the time table is on degeneration.
Except in cases of certain disease
processes (i.e. – ankylosing spondylitis), this is nothing but fear mongering.
not Death Sentence
Degeneration can be a problem for
some patients. Loss of hydration in the disc, and lack of movement in the spine
can create problems for the brain and nervous system.
Time and again, I’ve seen patients
who have been told that their problem is related to arthritic knees, hips,
and spines respond really nicely to Structural Correction. Even without seeing
any change to the degenerated joint.
If the arthritis were the sole
problem, then no one with spinal degeneration would ever get better.
Degeneration is a sign of a
breakdown process, but it’s not usually the cause. We need to be freed
from these self-defeating labels that hold us back from living the active and
healthy lifestyle we all deserve. If you’ve been told that your pain or problem
is because of arthritis or degeneration, it may be time to get another opinion.
Call our office today and book your
appointment to get back on the right track. 248-287-8700
When treating TMJ pain seems
Surgery may not be your best
TMJ pain may not be a jaw problem
Patients with TMJ often see a large
drop in the quality of their life:
“I feel like a baby because I can’t
eat solid foods anymore”
“There are times where I just have
to stop talking because all I can think about is the pain”
“That popping sound creeps me out
and drives me nuts”
A lot of people will experience jaw
pain for a day or two if they bite into a hard/chewy piece of food, but imagine
if your life was plagued with jaw pain every single day. We underestimate the
importance of our jaw, but it’s the piece of anatomy that allows you to enjoy
some of the finest pleasures in life. Everything from kissing, to chewing, to a
casual conversation with friends becomes a burden when your jaw fails to
Times and Desperate Measures
cases of TMD (Temporomandibular Disorders) can make people reach their breaking
point quickly. Many of the patients that come to our office are usually looking
at surgery as their next and final option because they don’t know what to do.
Even worse is when a patient spends
tens of thousands of dollars for surgery but the pain doesn’t go away.
Procedures that help to remove or replace a degenerated disc in the joint are
sometimes performed to eliminate this pain sensitive piece of anatomy. The
problem is that a degenerated disc can show up on imaging, but it isn’t
necessarily the cause of the pain.
Unfortunately this happens more
often than you might think, and it’s something that can make a patient with TMD
hopeless if even surgery couldn’t get the job done.
This isn’t to say that surgery is
not the answer, or that surgery can’t help, but we have to remember that TMD is
a problem that science has yet to reveal all of the answers, and dental surgery
is still working on figuring out what works and when it’s appropriate.
TMJ Pain May Not Be A Jaw Problem
There are many different causes for
TMJ pain. They can range from abnormal jaw movement, tight jaw muscles, and
degenerated discs. These can all be problem areas for a TMJ patient, but they
all have something in common.
In fact, their commonality goes back
to some of the same neurological mechanisms that contribute to neck pain and
headaches. That’s why people with TMJ don’t just have jaw pain; they often have
neck pain and headaches at the same time. It’s because almost all pain signals
from the head and neck go through a small piece of spinal cord called the
Pain is a Computer Problem
So if you don’t have a medical
background, some of that terminology might jump over your head.
Instead of thinking anatomy, let’s
talk about it like a computer.
Your brain and spinal cord are like
a computer chip. The part of your computer chip that feels head and neck pain
is the trigemino-cevical nucleus.
Just like all computer chips, the
quality of information that comes out is dependent on the quality of
information that comes in. If you put junk information in, you get junk
The computer chip of your body
relies heavily on information from the muscles and joints. These signals
are like computer programs. Whenever these joints move poorly from bad
positioning, then it’s like a bad program that gives faulty information about
what’s happening inside the body. This can occur from malpositioning of the
jaw, faulty jaw movement, neck positioning errors, and faulty neck movement.
It’s like a computer virus going
into your system and scrambling important signals into the brain.
This tells the body to produce a
junk signals including:
Tight and tense jaw muscles
Central pain sensitivity
This Program Get Shut Off?
Fortunately your body’s program for
pain can be re-written by changing the way these joints move.
A specialist like a neuromuscular
dentist can use non-invasive methods to change the way your jaw moves and alter
your bite with an orthotic.
Chiropractors that can correct the
craniocervical region can create a dramatic impact on the pain programming in
That’s why both of these doctors
frequently see similar patients, and will actually co-manage them between each
other. Neck pain patients may get better relief from a dentist changing their
bite, while some TMJ patients will get better relief from correcting their
While we can’t say for certain which
takes priority, but many patients can benefit from an interdisciplinary
approach to care. Take the time to get a Complimentary Consultation to find out
what method fits with you. You may even find that getting the entire jaw/neck
complex fixed may be the key to solving your TMD.
Call our office today for your free
consultation – Premier Chiropractic 248-287-8700
Pain after a car accident can be very strange and confusing. Take a look at
these examples and tell me if this reminds you of a situation that you or
someone you know.
Person A: Healthy and fit 37-year-old man in a car and
gets hit at 45 mph+. The impact drives his car into the car in front
causing extensive damage.
Person B: Healthy and fit 29-year old woman. Sitting in
line in a parking lot when another car runs into the back of her at 10 mph or
less. Minimal damage to the car and wore a seat belt.
Which one do you think had a worse whiplash injury and had pain immediately
and which do you think just had soreness that they wanted to get checked
Both had substantial biomechanical changes on their x-ray and MRI, but only
one had a significant amount of pain immediately after the incident.
If you guessed that Person B with the parking lot bumper tap had the most
pain, then you win! Congratulations!
The Deceptive Nature of Pain
Pain is one of medicine’s greatest tricksters. To this day, researchers and
scientists don’t have a strong grasp on the nature pain disorders.
Why is it tricky? Because the pain someone feels isn’t
necessarily related to the amount of damage in the body. Patients
with fibromyalgia have crippling pain despite not having any visible damage to
Pain is the most important factor to a patient, but it can be the most
deceptive factor to a clinician. When it comes to taking care of people after
an accident, we have to measure a patient’s function
regardless of their pain status.
Happens to the Neck After an Accident?
Insurance companies will only
consider it an accident-related whiplash injury if you see a doctor within
14 days of the accident. So if you have no pain after the accident or the pain
wasn’t bad enough to drive you to a physician until day 15, then you didn’t
have a whiplash (I know how silly it sounds).
But going back to the previous
example, we know that both Patients A and B had biomechanical flaws as a result
from trauma to the spine. Despite the fact that there were 2 very different
accidents and 2 different pain statuses, there are similarities in what can
happen to the neck even after the smallest collisions. Take a look at the video
below which simulates an accident less than 10 mph.
Happens to the Neck in an Accident?
After watching the video, you can
get the impression that a collision at just 5-7 mph causes rapid movement of
the head and neck.
Despite the fact that your body is
encased by a 2 ton metal box, it’s easy to see that even though the vehicle
stops moving, there is still a transfer of energy into the body. When you’re
wearing your seat belt, it causes a rapid deceleration of your body, but your
head will continue to move forward and backward very rapidly.
In fact, a large enough force to the
neck can actually produce a concussion even if there’s not direct contact to
the head! These accidents would need somewhere around 90 G’s of force to the
While that would cease to be a small
accident, the smaller 10 mph accidents can produce 3-5 G’s of force which is
enough to damage the tissues of the neck. The way your head accelerates and
decelerates can put 3-6 G’s of force into the cervical spine. This force gets
transferred into the ligaments, muscles, discs, and joints of the neck more
than any other piece of anatomy.
While the body can tolerate large
amounts of force in brief periods, a large amount of force applied to a small
region of anatomy as seen in a car accident can damage the tissues of the neck.
Ligaments are like the rubber bands
of the spine. They can be stretched, but once they stretch too far, they can’t
go back to normal again. As ligaments are damaged, scar tissue is used as a
patch, but it’s not as functional as the stuff you were built with.
Just like when you sprained your
ankle as a kid and that ankle never worked the same, damage to ligaments of
your neck can happen the same way. Fortunately, true sprains of the neck take a
lot of force and don’t happen with most accidents.
When muscle works beyond its
capacity, or gets stretched beyond its end range, it forms small tears within
the muscle belly. That’s why there’s no consensus as to whether you’re better
off knowing about a coming accident and bracing, or if you’re better off being
Either way, damage to the muscle
tissue can happen depending on the nature of the collision.
Muscle strains can be painful, but
they can and do heal with time. Strain to muscle tissue is one of the most
common sources of pain from whiplash injuries and resolve well with
chiropractic and exercise.
Accidents are one of the most common
ways that people under 30 can suffer herniated discs in the spine. When the
force of an accident overcomes the resistance of the disc material, small tears
in the disc can result in the inner fluid spilling into the spinal canal.
Sometimes this results in a pinched
nerve, but most of the time it does not. A disc problem doesn’t have to be a
big problem. Many people have disc damage and have no idea because it’s not
The muscles, ligaments, discs, and
nerves of the neck help dictate the Structural Positioning of the spine. The
force of an accident can deform one or all of these tissues leading to abnormal
positioning of the head and neck.
This leads to abnormal neurological
input to the brain and what manifests as poor posture (slouching, head tilt, antalgic
lean). While poor posture is not the problem that needs to be treated, it’s an
objective sign of a nervous system is operating at less than its full capacity.
That It’s Not About Pain
Remember at the beginning of the
article we talked about how pain can be deceptive. The reason I wanted to point
that out is because you can experience damage to all of the above structures
and not feel an immediate onset of pain. Pain is just tricky like that.
Whether you feel immediate pain or
not, your neck should always be evaluated even after minor accidents because it
gives the earliest and best opportunity to correct a silent problem.
Pain from the ribs. How’d it happen?
Why does it hurt so bad?
Painful but fixable
“It hurts right here (points to
middle of back), especially when I take a deep breath in.”
“It’s like someone is poking a knife
in the middle of my back”
“Every time I try to stand up all
the way, my back spasms.”
“I just want to crack this pinch in
There are times when pain can
literally take your breath away. That sharp, stabbing pain coming from a
very pinpoint spot in the middle of your back. Sometimes it’s just a
really annoying feeling that won’t go away, but other times it can make you
feel crippled by back spasms.
In many cases, this pain comes from
the joint where your ribs connect to your spine. Sometimes people will say
that you have a rib head that’s “out of place”, misaligned, or sprained. For
the sake of today’s article, we’ll just call it rib pain.
It’s a frustrating problem because
it can happen out of nowhere. Sometimes you just wake up with the pain, other
times it’s from twisting or turning too quickly. Fortunately, even though we
don’t know much about the pain, we do have effective strategies to help manage
it when you feel it.
Does It Hurt So Bad?
The interesting thing about pain
from a rib head is that the intensity and level of annoyance is really high for
a problem that is pretty harmless. It’s not like a herniated disc where you may
have other serious complications that arise, but the pain can sometimes be as
Although this joint won’t result in
pinched nerves that can cause muscle weakness or loss of feeling, it is
extremely dense in pain generating tissue.
The ligaments shown on the image
above, as well as the direct connection of the rib to the vertebra can be full
of pain fibers called nociceptors. This joint is not supposed to have very much
movement. If the joint gets overloaded and sprains the ligament, or if there is
too much friction between the joint surfaces, then it stimulates an aggressive
pain response in the brain.
When the pain response is initiated,
the nervous system often looks to brace an area of injury, this typically
comes in the form of muscle tightness and spasticity. As the muscles tighten
around your ribs, it limits your ability to breathe in deeply. The muscle
spasticity may also compress the nerves, arteries, and veins passing around the
curvature of the ribs causing additional sources of pain and discomfort.
Unlike other parts of the body like
the hand, shoulder, and low back, you don’t have a choice in moving your ribs.
Your ribs move whenever you take a breath, and breathing is a little bit
important to the maintenance of life. The more it moves, the more it can
agitate the painful joint even if there’s minimal tissue damage.
to fix it?
For most people, this pain will go
away within a week without any treatment. However, if you have the pain for
longer, you may need a little bit of outside help to correct the problem.
Most chiropractors can address the
pain with a spinal adjustment to the thoracic spine or rib head. Typically
patients will feel a substantial amount of relief within a few visits. When
combined with some corrective exercise, you probably won’t have any further
issues unless you reinjure the joint.
Whether your problem is brand new or
chronic, a Structural Corrective approach to the spine can lead to substantial