Frequently we hear a story like this, “Well doc, I did fall on the stairs about 2 weeks ago. I thought I could work it out myself, but I just don’t feel right still.” Or another classic scenario is “I’ve been doing everything you’ve taught me to do: heat, ice, and I’m even stretching! But it still hurts.” We applaud those of you that are compliant with our recommendations, it helps! Unfortunately, the body is stubborn and sometimes needs a little extra help to restore it’s proper movement patterns. That’s where the adjustment comes in. As much as we’d like to think we can do it all ourselves, even we Chiropractors need to be adjusted by our fellow professionals.
What is the definition of an injury? To make things simple, we have 2 types of injuries that can occur. One is the acute injury, like a fall down the stairs, a slip on the kitchen floor, or a car accident. The other is a repetitive stress injury, like a sore low back from swinging the golf club multiple times per week, a sore shoulder from using the computer daily, or a tight neck from your daily commute driving to and from work. Although the source of injury, or as we often say ‘the mechanism of injury,’ the body responds in a very similar fashion each time.
What does the body do in response to injury? The body is truly a miraculous machine when it comes to sustaining injury. Whether acute or chronic in origin, the body has the ability to adapt and continue to maintain a functioning neuromusculoskeletal system (muscles, bones, joints, and nerves) before symptoms become apparent enough that we stop to seek treatment. It’s a flawed system; however, in the sense that it allows for improper body mechanics to compensate for a long time before it gives up. For example, if there’s an injury to one of the rotator cuff muscles in the shoulder, the body may recruit the trapezius muscle to help lift the arm. This can go on days, weeks, months, even years before the onset of pain is enough to encourage someone to schedule a doctor’s appointment. In that time, however, the body has changed it’s mechanics and not only is the shoulder being compromised, but also in the neck and mid-back where that trapezius muscle attaches to the spinal joints. It is common for us to uncover many past mechanical adaptations as we go through a course of care with a patient. In fact, sometimes we even find out that the reason for seeking care is not the origin of the complaint, but an injury to another area of the body that resulted in compensation over time.
How can a Chiropractor help? As mechanics of the body, it is our job as Chiropractors to discover the origin of the problem and restore the proper movement patterns. The origin is determined by consultation, examination, and observation. Restoring the movement can be done many ways, including utilizing the chiropractic adjustment, but also through soft tissue, or muscle, mobilization, at-home care like stretches or habit changes. The length of time the body has been compensating can directly impact the length of time it takes to recover from an injury. So don’t wait to call!! The faster we can address mechanical changes within the body, the faster the recovery time. We all want to “take care of it” ourselves, but there’s no shame in getting some assistance to help the body heal and restore faster. With the recent addition of Dr. Matt to our Body Logic team, we’ve made it even easier to call us and get an appointment sooner, before the body has a chance to compensate!