Articles in Category: Chiropractic

Understanding Neck Pain

on Thursday, 03 March 2016. Posted in General Health, Chiropractic

Understanding Neck Pain

By Jakob van Vlijmen

M Chiro, DC

 

Many different injuries can literally be a pain in the neck. Neck pain is quite common and it’s estimated that over 60% of the population will have experienced neck pain at some point.

 

Because your neck is the mechanical connection of your body/spinal column to the skull/brain, it is quite sensitive and vulnerable to particular stresses, injuries, conditions, and infections that can cause you to feel neck pain and discomfort. The cervical spine is made up of 7 vertebrae. The first 2, C1 and C2, are highly specialized and are given unique names: atlas and axis, respectively. The C3 - C7 are more classic vertebrae, having a body, pedicles, laminae, spinous processes, and facet joints. Each vertebral body is separated by an intervertebral disc which acts as force dissipaters, transmitting weight bearing loads when upright and throughout movement of the head.

 

Certain injuries can result in neck pain and it is important to understand the characteristics of the pain to better understand what injuries and structures are involved in generating your neck pain.

 

Disc Bulges/Prolapse – Often characterised by sharp localised neck pain often associated with numbness and pins and needles shooting from your neck to a particular part of your arm/hand. It is often one sided though can progress to both limbs depending on the direction of the disc bulge onto the nerve or spinal cord.

 

Facet Joints – A localised sharp catchy sensation of pain, though a sprain of this joint is less often associated with a radiating sensation of pain and numbness/tingling to the limbs.

 

Muscle Spasm - Muscle spasm is often an accessory characteristic to injuries of both facet and disc pain. Though muscle pain can be a primary neck pain generator in itself also. Poor posture is often a primary generator of muscle mediated neck pain. Poor posture can change the load bearing capacity of the muscles that move and stabilise the movement of the neck/head. When your neck is in an awkward position for an extended period of time i.e. when you are reading in bed, sleeping on stiff pillows, sitting in front of a computer, carrying a shoulder bag — it can strain your neck and cause pain. Neck pain that results from poor posture tends to show up as more an achy sore/stiff sensation of pain.

 

Whiplash - Considered being the most common trauma to the neck, which involves a combination of the above primary pain generators. It is caused (without going into too much detail) by rapid uncontrolled movement of the neck commonly flexion/extension movement and also associated with other nonspecific signs such as a headache.

 

Other - More systemic causes of neck pain need to be ruled out and assessed by a health professional as they may require more specialised medical care also. This pain will generally be more constant in nature and pain is often associated with other non-specific signs such as fever, muscle wasting, nocturnal pain, changes in bowel/bladder habits and sometimes very intense headaches, dizziness, blurred vision, etc. Some of these conditions include Tumours (of the brain and spinal cord), Meningitis and other viral infections, Spinal Stenosis (a degenerative condition which narrows of the joint spaces/openings around the spinal cord and nerve roots), and autoimmune conditions such as Ankylosing Spondylitis.

 

General and Orthopaedic assessment needs to be performed by a qualified primary health practitioner to not only diagnose the cause of your neck pain but to also eliminate the possibility of any underlying serious conditions which may require immediate medical referral.

 

The level of research into conservative (non-surgical) treatment of mechanical pain in the cervical spine (including chiropractic) compared to medication is improving. There is growing body of work whereby recent studies suggest that conservative treatment is just as if not more effective as drug therapy in both short and long term time frames. The benefits of conservative (non-surgical) care, particularly chiropractic care focuses on precise interventions (cervical adjustments, mobilisations, soft tissue releases)  to the tissues that is irritated/damaged/dysfunctional thereby addressing the cause of the pain (i.e. the anatomical structure generating the sensation of pain), rather than just masking the symptom of the pain you feel.

 

As mentioned above postural overlay to neck pain is often a primary factor relating to the recurrent nature of the mechanical neck pain you may feel. As with any mechanical complaint early diagnosis and treatment optimises your ability to heal and addressing the underlying mechanism of injury (i.e. the quality of your movement or easing the aggravating load to the injured tissues), outcomes can be longer lasting.

Musculoskeletal Development

on Thursday, 28 January 2016. Posted in General Health, Ergonomics, Chiropractic

Musculoskeletal Development

Musculoskeletal Development

 

When we are born we're usually around 50cm long. Once we're fully grown we have added another 115cm to that. It all seems normal and usually it happens without any issues, however there are very complicated processes at work that are influenced by so many factors. To name a few: hormones, exercise level, diet, and different pathologies.

 

Bone growth

 

At the end of your bone there is a disc like structure of non-ossified cartilage, this is the growth plate. By multiplying the cartilage the cells help expand the bone and this is how people grow. When we age, eventually all the cartilage ossifies and we stop growing.

 

Even though the growth plates have been ossified in adults this does not mean the bones are not operational. Bone is being broken down and relayed constantly throughout one’s life. The production of bone is being stimulated by Oestrogen a hormone this is the reason why the bone strength deteriorates in post-menopausal women.

 

Hormones

 

The growth hormone is important for development and is made in the pituitary gland within your brain. The hormone causes longitudinal growth by stimulating the growth plates. The release of this hormone into your blood stream isn't a continuous occurrence but more a collection of bursts. These bursts happen at night two hours after you've fallen asleep. Besides sleeping, physical exercise has a positive effect on the release of this hormone as well.

 

In addition to the growth hormone, the Thyroid hormones and sex steroids (testosterone and oestrogen) play an important part in an individual’s growth. Sex steroids cause rapid growth during puberty, up to 12cm a year! But even in adults the growth hormone has a number of important functions. It’s important to the musculoskeletal system, bone density, metabolism and our wellbeing.

 

What are growing pains?

 

Growing pains are pains felt by children and adolescents at night on both sides of their bodies.

 

There are many different theories on what exactly causes growing pains. One such theory suggests that the pain is caused by the stretching of the muscles and tendons as the bones grow. As discussed previously we don't grow the same amount from one day to the next so the pain can be present during one night and gone the next. It is nothing to be concerned about, as a parent you can try to massage the area. If the pain persists however refer to a healthcare practitioner.

 

Chiropractic care and developing children

 

As you'll understand by now, there is a lot happening in your body during your youth. And we've only been discussing bone growth. Your muscles need to elongate at the same speed and that can lead to diminished coordination. This is mostly seen during puberty as this is when you grow the most. It is important for youngsters to be exercising lots, this best enables the body to adapt to all the changes, what is more you are training your motor skills.

 

It is important however that you exercise and move in the correct way, using the correct motor patterns. This is where chiropractic can help. By making sure that the joints can move freely, the muscles can function better, which, can optimise growth and prevent injuries. By treating problem areas, addressing faulty movement patterns and explaining certain preventative measures, chiropractic endeavours to help our youths move without pain and diminish the risk of injury so that playing sports remains fun!

Dizziness: What are the causes and when can Chiropractic help?

on Wednesday, 11 November 2015. Posted in General Health, Chiropractic

Dizziness: What are the causes and when can Chiropractic help?

By Jakob van Vlijmen

M Chiro, DC

 

There are very few complaints as difficult as dizziness. Even though most types of dizziness do not have a sinister cause, they can lead to certain risks. As you can all imagine, being in a car or on the top of a flight of stairs are dangerous places to become dizzy. The following article will discuss the different causes of dizziness, the different ways it can present and when a visit to the chiropractor can be helpful.

 

Light headed or vertigo?

Dizziness is used to indicate a sense of instability, movement insecurity or light headedness. The term vertigo indicates a sense of spinning or whirling when the patient isn't actually moving. Light headedness is usually caused by low blood pressure, especially when it comes on after getting up too quickly. Low blood sugar however can also be a cause. If you experience these kinds of dizziness on a regular basis it might be a good idea for you to discuss this with your GP.

 

The 3 systems involved in processing movement information.

To be able to explain the different causes of dizziness we will have to discuss some of the mechanisms responsible for our sense of balance, the ability to register movement and our sense of positioning. These are the 3 different systems we need to discuss:

 

The Eyes - Among other things we use horizontal and vertical lines within our surroundings to determine our position and register movement.

 

The Organs of Balance - Situated deep within the ear. These organs are specialised in registering movement, acceleration and the position of the head.

 

Proprioception - This is information concerning the position of joints, the length of muscles and the force exerted by muscles.

 

By gathering and analysing the information from these systems numerous of times per second our brains can determine if anything or anyone is moving, what needs to be done to achieve movement and if we are in a balanced position.

 

Perfect collaboration between the 3 systems is required.

It is important to realise that these 3 systems have to work together in sync to prevent problems occurring. For example, when you turn your head to the left, the balance organs in your left ear is moving backward relatively speaking and the one in the right ear is moving forward. At the same time the position of several neck vertebra change, certain muscles are active in order for you to perform the movement and the eyes are registering the change in your surroundings. As long as all the information that your brain receives aligns with each other things will go smoothly, but if there is a discrepancy in the signals the brain receives it can lead to dizziness.

 

Different types of dizziness.

With the use of this background information a lot of common causes of dizziness can be explained.

 

Labyrinthitis (inflammation of the balance organ) With Labyrinthitis one or both of the balance organs becomes inflamed, most often this is caused by a virus infection. The afflicted organ is sending abnormal or incorrect information to the brain that doesn’t correspond with the other balance organ and other systems. This cause’s severe acute dizziness often accompanied with nausea and vomiting, sometimes the patient also experiences deafness or tinnitus. The symptoms can be so severe that the patient becomes bed ridden as every movement aggravates the symptoms. No real effective treatment exists but luckily most symptoms subside after a few days, although full recovery can take several weeks.

 

Meniere’s disease is an affliction of the inner ear, in which both the hearing organ and the balancing organ are affected. Meniere’s disease causes dizziness, tinnitus and deafness. These symptoms can come in waves and can persist for any length of time from a few hours to days. In some cases the deafness can be permanent. Meniere is usually treated with medications, but the success the medication has varies greatly case to case.

 

Benign Paroxysmal Positional vertigo (BPPV) The balancing organ registers the position and movement of the head with the use of 5 fluid filled canals. Movement of the head causes these fluids to move which is registered by little hairs within the canals. BPPV occurs when tiny particles break loose and fall into the canals stimulating the nerves that detect head rotation. The brain receives the message that the head is spinning when this isn’t the case. BPPV usually comes on after a fast head movement and disappears after 15 to 30 seconds. BPPV usually comes on at a later stage in life after an ear infection or bump to the head. Your chiropractor will be able to determine if the dizziness that you are experiencing is indeed BPPV by taking a full history of your complaint and performing several tests. If you indeed have BPPV it can usually be treated successfully within 2 to 3 treatments. During these treatments your chiropractor will be moving the head in a very specific manner in an attempt to relocate the particles that have broken off. Of all forms of vertigo BPPV is probably the most easily treated.

 

Cervicogenic dizziness is dizziness cause by problems in the joints or muscles in the neck. As explained earlier the brain also uses the information from muscles and joints (proprioception). Injuries or movement difficulties to the neck can cause dizziness for that reason. A good example is dizziness as a consequence to a whiplash caused by a car accident. This kind of dizziness is often seen in a chiropractic office and usually responds very well to treatment.

 

Sinister Causes

Besides the relatively benign causes mentioned above dizziness can also be caused by more serious afflictions luckily this is rarely the case, however if your dizziness is continuous and present for long periods at a time, uninfluenced by movement and accompanied by other symptoms. Such as headache, vomiting, problems with your eye sight it would be best to visit your GP.