“80% of the country will have back pain during their life, why would
turn away all of that potential business?”
you don’t take care of the back, then what DO you take care of?”
my practice, I focus on Structural
I deal exclusively with the alignment and mechanics of the spine. I’ve seen
hundreds, if not thousands of patients with low back pain looking for
someone to help them. So, how can a gentle approach to the neck help
with back problems?
can probably cite a complicated study, or explain this long and complex pathway like the infographic
really, I’m sure you just want me to make sense of it all. So here
No matter where pain may be felt, it is always processed by the
brain. That’s why there are many Secondary Conditions occur where
there is nothing physically wrong to diagnose, but the pain is very
real to that person. A person with Fibromyalgia deeply understands
structural alignment of the head and neck allow the brain stem to
transmit the messages from the spinal cord properly. It ensures that
there is no hypersensitivity to pain occurring at the level of the
central nervous system.
Anterior head syndrome is a condition in which the head and neck has
shifted forward in front of the shoulders. While this may not seem
like much, but the
weight of a 12 lb head reaching beyond the shoulders forces the
muscles of the neck and back to pull harder than normal. This is
because for every inch forward the head moves, gravity pulls 10 extra
lbs onto the neck and back muscles. So a person with a 10 lb head can
suddenly have the mechanics of a 30 lb head with just 2 inches of
Anterior Head Syndrome.
interesting thing to note is that people with both neck pain and back
pain will see their back pain go away before their neck pain.
According to a recent study in
the Journal of Neurosurgery, deformities in the neck affect the
alignment of the hips and pelvis. The two structures are linked
together through a complex muscular sling. In other words, where the
head goes, the neck goes and vice versa.
you’ve been told your SI joint or a herniated disc is
the problem, Structural Correction may still provide an answer.
Though not all cases of back pain are related to a Structural Shift in
the spine, it’s an important factor that is not usually looked at by
most doctors or Traditional Chiropractors. Rather than getting
pigeon-holed into a symptom-treatment model, it may benefit you to
have someone take a global look at the body, and how a structural shift can impact the spine and the central nervous
school starts around the country, many parents have concerns about
backpacks and scoliosis screenings. What’s the truth?
I speak to more and more patients, I’ve come to a realization that
there is quite a bit of confusion about what scoliosis is, and how it
can affect your child’s health. Many people remember going into the
school nurse’s office every so often and get a scoliosis test where
they bend down from their waste and touch their toes, as shown below.
most common screening test for scoliosis.
what is scoliosis? Scoliosis involves a curved deformity in the
spine. Now here’s where it gets funky. There are good curves and
bad curves in the spine. When you look at someone from the side, the
spine normally has 3 curves that curve to the front, back, and front
again. These curves provide strength and stability to the spine in
gravity. A scoliotic curve is seen from the front or back, and may
indicate a structural abnormality or congenital deformity.
curves are visible if you look at someone from the side.
you look at someone from the front or back, curves in the spine are a
bad sign and may indicate the presence of scoliosis.
people can have a scoliosis and never feel any effects or symptoms
from it. Others may experience more common symptoms like back pain,
neck/shoulder tension and posture/cosmetic problems. In rare cases, the curvature can
become large enough (50 degrees or more), that it can compress the
chest cavity causing respiratory and cardiac problems, and become a
comes in 2 main forms. There are is a functional scoliosis which is
typically named idiopathic scoliosis, and there is a scoliosis called
structural/anatomical scoliosis is called by a malformed vertebra
which can force the spine to a curved position as it seeks to get
back to center. This type of scoliosis cannot be fully corrected and
it can also lead to larger curvatures depending on how malformed the
functional/idiopathic scoliosis is named as such because there is
typically no medically known cause. This is the most common type of
scoliosis. These types of curvatures can be corrected and
reduced significantly through conservative means when caught before
a person is fully developed.
real question is, should you be worried?
truth is, if you’re just worried about pain, then probably not.
Many times, scoliosis is asymptomatic, especially in children. In
fact, most people will probably go through their childhood with no
knowledge that it is even there. For the category of idiopathic
scoliosis, it is often the secondary result of a structural shift in
one or more bones in the spine.
curve is usually not described as a scoliosis until it reaches the 10
degree mark. Most people are concerned when the curvature surpasses
20 degrees, as that’s when bracing becomes a common recommendation,
and cosmetic concerns become more obvious (postural problems,
protruding shoulder blade, etc). When the curve grows 40 degrees,
surgery starts to become a real option for treatment.
key is catching these curves early. Scoliosis is most commonly found
in girls during adolescence, which is a great window of opportunity
for structural correction, no matter how small the curve may be. Just
like how a bent frame of a car can create suspension problems and
tire wear/tear, a bent spine can increase the damage the spine
experiences throughout life. I’ve seen x-rays of people well into
their 40’s and 50’s who have never experienced spine pain, but
will show a scoliotic spine with disc degeneration and bone spurs in
the exact pattern that the structural alignment would dictate.
the spine shows early wear and tear, the nerves can get damaged and cause secondary conditions as well as changes into
the muscles, ligaments, and even the vital organs of the body can
start to show.
a worried parent, what can you do? Here are a few tips:
a spinal check up by someone who is focused on the health of the
spine! Nurses and general practitioners do a great job of
identifying major curvatures using basic screening tools, but these
will typically identify cases of scoliosis that are excessively
large and may be candidates for surgery. A chiropractor
focused on structural correction instead
of pain relief can recognize smaller deviations and provide tools to
correct them if necessary.
the one shoulder back pack routine. It may look cooler and be more
comfortable, but extra forces on a spine that isn’t optimally
positioned can increase scoliotic curves.
active. Movement is life and a spine that moves early and often has
more pliability and flexibility than one that is sedentary and
the weight down. If you had a crooked house and you add more weight
to it, what happens to the house? It breaks down faster. The same
thing happens to the body. If you build more mass on top of a
crooked structure, it will lead to earlier degeneration. Stay fit.
As the Winter Equestrian season comes to a close here in Michigan, and golf season begins. While it appears to be a low impact sport to the average observer, golf can be a really stressful sport!
While some golfers say the biggest stress is on their pride and their mental state, from a Structural standpoint golf has the biggest impact on the lumbar spine aka, the lower back.
If you're serious about golf, then you have to be serious about the mechanics of your swing because a bad swing will wear down the discs, ligaments, and joints of the spine. The biggest threat is the coupled movement of excess rotation and extension. One bad swing isn't going to hurt you, but thousands of swings over the course of years can wreck even the strongest spine.
The commonly missed factor in the health of a golfer is the structure of the spine. A spine with a Structural Shift in the hip and pelvis will not only make a golfer more susceptible to injury, but you're leaving a lot of force on the table.
To make a long story short, you will make your best swing less efficient, and your muscles will fatigue more easily because you are wasting so much kinetic energy.
When the spine is in the distorted position that you see on the left, then the force of a highly rotational swing gets sent into the discs and ligaments of the spine, instead of smooth transfer into the hip muscles.
The result is more chance for the discs to tear, and poor muscular output leading to poor performance.
If you are serious about playing golf throughout your life, and you want to play not just pain-free, but to your fullest potential, then you need to play without Structural Shifts.
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. You may have even been shown a poster with the stages of spinal degeneration on it, and asked to pick which stage you are in.
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 neck probably didn’t look like the “normal” neck, and that you had work to do.
How 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. 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 really 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 thousands of 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 inaccuracy.
2. Your Spine Isn’t Going to Fuse (Probably) – some patients have come to me with 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. I took an x-ray on one of these patients and all that was visible was moderate disc degeneration. A very common finding on x-ray, and nothing to get very alarmed about. They were under the impression that their spine would be fused together within 5 years if they didn’t get this fixed.
This is absurd for a couple of reasons:
1. 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.
2. We have NO idea what the time table is on degeneration. None. Nada. Zilch.
Except in cases of certain disease processes (i.e. – ankylosing spondylitis), this is nothing but fear mongering.
Degeneration, 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.
If 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 at 248-287-8700
people are familiar with the image on the top. An image of a lowly
iceberg. It looks so simple to simply steer around and bypass it on
the way to smoother seas.
if our past was a good teacher, then we know that by only paying
attention to the surface, we can miss a dangerous obstacle
in the depths.
bodies are equipped with an incredible array of signals to let
us know that something is wrong. Sometimes it comes in the form of a
pain in the back, draining
or chest pain. The purpose of these signals is to tell us that
something is wrong, but it’s up to us to look within to identify
long as we continue to exist in a healthcare system that only seeks
to reduce symptoms, then we will continue to get the same results as
those who only saw the tip of the iceberg.
we look towards the body’s healing capacity, and why it’s not
operating at 100% full function, then we are missing the boat on the
health challenges of millions of people. And there’s no amount of
drugs, natural medicine, surgery, or insurance money that can save
that ship from sinking.
What is a food allergy?
A food allergy is an immune system response. It is caused when the body mistakes an ingredient in food — usually a protein — as harmful and creates a defense system (antibodies) to fight it. An allergic reaction occurs when the antibodies are battling an "invading" food protein. The most common food allergies are shellfish or fish, nuts (peanuts, etc), and milk/dairy products.
What is food intolerance?
Food intolerance is a digestive system response rather than an immune system response. It occurs when something in food irritates a person’s digestive system or when a person is unable to properly digest, or break down, the food. Intolerance to lactose, which is found in milk and other dairy products, is the most common food intolerance.
What are the symptoms of a food allergy?
Symptoms of a food allergy can range from mild to severe, and the amount of food necessary to trigger a reaction varies from person to person. Symptoms of a food allergy may include:
· Rash or hives
· Cramping stomach pain
· Itchy skin
· Shortness of breath
· Chest pain
· Swelling of the airways to the lungs
Anaphylaxis is a very serious and potentially fatal allergic reaction that involves a sudden drop in blood pressure, loss of consciousness and body system failure.
What are the symptoms of food intolerance?
Symptoms of food intolerance include:
· Stomach pain
· Gas, cramps or bloating
· Irritability or nervousness
When experienced the episode is a mild inconvenience, the affected individual will associate it with a unrelated event.
How common are food allergies and intolerance's?
Food allergies affect about 1 percent of adults and 7 percent of children, although some children outgrow their allergies. Food intolerance's are much more common. In fact, nearly everyone at one time has had an unpleasant reaction to something they ate. Some people have specific food intolerance's. Lactose intolerance, the most common specific food intolerance, affects about 10 percent of Americans.
What causes food allergies and intolerance's?
Food allergies arise from sensitivity to chemical compounds (proteins) in food, even compounds that are found naturally in food. Food allergies are more common in people whose family members have allergies, suggesting a genetic — or hereditary — factor may be involved with the development of food allergies.
Food allergies develop after you are exposed to a food protein that your body thinks is harmful. The first time you eat the food containing the protein, your immune system responds by creating specific disease-fighting antibodies (called immunoglobulin E or IgE). When you eat the food again, it triggers the release of IgE antibodies and other chemicals, including histamine, in an effort to expel the protein "invader" from your body. Histamine is a powerful chemical that can affect the respiratory system, gastrointestinal tract, skin or cardiovascular system.
The allergy symptoms you have depend on where in the body the histamine is released. If it is released in the ears, nose and throat, you may have an itchy nose and mouth, or trouble breathing or swallowing. If histamine is released in the skin, you may develop hives or a rash. If histamine is released in the gastrointestinal tract, you likely will develop stomach pains, cramps or diarrhea. Many people experience a combination of symptoms as the food is eaten and digested.
There are many factors that may contribute to food intolerance. In some cases — as with lactose intolerance — the person lacks the chemicals, called enzymes, necessary to properly digest certain proteins found in food. Also common are intolerances to some chemical ingredients added to food to provide color, enhance taste and protect against the growth of bacteria. These ingredients include various dyes and monosodium glutamate (MSG), a flavor enhancer.
Substances called sulfites, which may occur naturally — as in red wines — or may be added to prevent the growth of mold, also are a source of intolerance for some people. The Food and Drug Administration has banned the use of spray-on sulfates to preserve fruits and vegetables, but sulfates are still found naturally in some foods. Salicylates are a group of plant chemicals found naturally in many fruits, vegetables, nuts, coffee, juices, beer and wine. Aspirin also is a compound of the salicylate family. Foods containing salicylates may trigger symptoms in people who are sensitive to aspirin. Of course, any food consumed in excessive quantities can cause digestive symptoms.
How can you tell the difference between an allergy and intolerance to food?
Food allergies can be triggered by a small amount of the food and occur every time the food is consumed. People with food allergies are generally advised to avoid the offending foods completely. On the other hand, food intolerance's often are dose related; people with food intolerance may not have symptoms unless they eat a large portion of the food or eat the food frequently. For example, a person with lactose intolerance may be able to drink milk in coffee or a single glass of milk, but becomes sick if he or she drinks several glasses of milk. Food allergies and intolerances also are different from food poisoning, which generally results from spoiled or tainted food and affects more than one person eating the food.
How are food intolerance's diagnosed?
A simple blood test can measure your immune system's response to particular foods by checking the amount of allergy-type antibodies in your bloodstream. For this test, a blood sample taken in and sent to a medical laboratory, where different foods can be tested. Once completed the individual would receive a report (based on complexity of the test).
How are food intolerance's treated?
Treatment is based on avoiding or reducing your intake of problematic foods.
Can food intolerance's be prevented?
Taking a few simple steps can help you prevent the symptoms associated with food intolerance.
· Learn which foods in which amounts cause you to have symptoms, and limit your intake to amounts you can handle.
· When you dine out, ask your server about how your meal will be prepared. Some meals may contain foods you cannot tolerate, and that may not be evident from the description on the menu.
· Learn to read food labels and check the ingredients for problem foods. Don’t forget to check condiments and seasonings. They may contain MSG or another additive that can lead to symptoms.
Contact our office for more information – 248.287.8700
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.