Does pain affect you daily? Here at Arc of Life, we are in connection with people that are fed up with pain and those that want to prevent it. Understanding pain is not an easy task. It has been researched endlessly with strategies to manage and prevent it. We will talk about the role that chiropractic plays in preventing pain.
What if we told you pain is normal? That it’s your friend letting you know that something is in need of action. When you accidentally put your hand on a burning hot pan, your reflexes whip you away from the source. When you feel cold, your body signals for you to put something warm on by shivering. These are evolutionary ways for the body to communicate what it needs to survive.
Understandably, it starts to get a bit more complicated with chronic (long-term) pain. What is this pain protecting you from? This type of pain is complex, layered, and difficult to find a management that suits all cases (1). We see many people battling chronic pain that are frustrated and confused as to what is going on. They got x-rays, MRIs, blood work, you name it, and they found “nothing” wrong with them. What we find is actually happening in chronic cases is that these pain signals are not coming from damage, but that there is a perception of threat from the brain.
Butler, D. S., & Moseley, G. L. (2013). Explain Pain 2nd Edn. Noigroup publications.
This perception of a threat comes from miscommunication in the brain-body relationship. The spine is designed to be mobile, so it's able to move or stiffen up when appropriate, according to what the brain tells it. This function can be compromised when the body experiences stress or an injury. This communication can then further break down over time, leading to mixed signals from the brain to the body and therefore, poor body awareness.
This doesn't mean that this kind of pain isn't real, because it is. All information about our experiences comes from the brain, including painful ones. Physiologically, the deep, small muscles attached to the spine are used to know where your body is. If the spine is not moving appropriately (too much or too little), then these muscles turn off or send wrong signals to the brain and create inaccurate information. This inaccurate information is enough to induce a negative cycle, perpetuated by itself, which can create pain (2).
How do we break this cycle? The chiropractic adjustment is designed to re-establish this communication from the brain to the body. This restores the information, essentially waking up the sleeping muscles around the spine. Once communication is effectively restored, the chronic pain cycle can begin to correct itself (3). The brain will no longer be getting mixed messages about what's happening in the body, which allows its threat detection (pain) to not be as severe, frequent, or could be absent altogether.
Neurons that fire together wire together, so depending on how long this cycle has been in place, it may take more time for the body to adapt to these new changes made with adjustments. That's why we see many people more frequently when starting their healing journey. The correct analysis of your body’s spine and nervous system function can start your path in both the healing of chronic pain and the prevention of pain down the road.
4) Dr. Heidi Haavik Chiros Academy BS1.02 – 04 The evidence for the brain model of the adjustment
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