Dane Roubos, D.C. http://www.BodyMindPeace.com
You are probably already aware that there is a tremendous variety among chiropractic philosophies and physicians. It’s a big topic. I’ll give you an overview of my personal approach to chiropractic.
Old-time chiropractors talked about “innate intelligence.” This refers to the natural wisdom of the body and He or She who made it, and animates it. This notion holds that the body has the power to heal itself when any blockage to that “flow” of intelligence is removed.
Old-time chiropractic philosophy also holds that this innate intelligence, or “nerve energy” flows through the nerves to the tissues. I’m totally on board with this view, up to here, as are many chiropractors.
I’m going to diverge from our story briefly to tell you something really cool that we learned about in school. It’s called “neurotrophic flow.”
Nerve cells can be up to three feet long, and probably longer in most NBA players! The cellular fluid – “cytoplasm” for all you cell biologists – circulates along this long “axon.” That’s the part of the nerve that’s long and skinny.
An interesting experiment was done on some poor critter, and it goes like this. A tiny thread was tied around the nerve going from the spine to an organ – I don’t recall which.
This thread, acting like a tourniquet, impaired the cytoplasmic flow along the nerve axon, without impairing the electrical impulse that nerves are so famous for. Can you guess what happened?
The organ, deprived of some as yet unknown substance by the pressure of the tourniquet, got sickly. When the thread was released, it’s health returned. Now, neurotrophic research is all the rage. There is so much we don’t know!
Bones Out of Place
Traditional chiropractic philosophy also holds that “pinched nerves” impair the flow, and that these are caused by bones “out-of-place.” There are some differences that spring up at this point.
The Motion Model
I’m more inclined towards a functional model, based on motion. Every joint is held together by ligaments. Ligaments are what get torn when you sprain your ankle.
It seems a variety of factors contribute to tightening or shortening of particular ligaments around a joint. This could include tension due to stress, injury and subsequent scar tissue formation, chronic “pulls” from other ligaments or muscles, poor posture, inflammation due to food allergy, nutrient deficiency, etc.
This section to be continued . . .
When Adjustments Aren’t Enough
Dane Roubos, D.C. www.www.BodyMindPeace.com
If you have been to a few different chiropractors, you have probably noticed that we all tend to work differently, and sometimes the difference can be profound. I think this is a good thing, as the individuality of practitioners allows you a greater opportunity to find someone who suits your needs.
Chiropractic spinal adjustments are commonly used to restore motion to joints that have become stuck or “fixated.” While they are a valuable tool in treating pain or other symptoms, there are also many other factors to be considered. Spinal fixations are often caused by tension or restriction in other tissues.
Many things can impair the healing process, ranging from physical, to mental, emotional or spiritual in nature. This article mainly focuses on the physical causes of spinal pain and restriction. Since the muscles and other soft tissues are so responsive to our mental-emotional states, stress also plays a big role in back pain, headaches, etc. For more information on this topic, please visit the Stress Mastery category.
Problems Easily Missed
Just on the structural level alone, there are so many things that can cause trouble, and so much to know that 25 years of study and practice still leaves me committed to learning more. Much of the dysfunction is subtle, requiring special training to detect and treat effectively. There’s a lot that’s not taught in chiropractic college. It’s no wonder that practitioners tend to miss some things when doing an evaluation.
If your doctor has done a thorough evaluation, they probably discovered a whole raft of little problems that you didn’t even know you had. This can be important because of the profound interconnection of everything in our bodies. There’s a good chance that these dysfunctions are contributing to your symptoms.
For example, I have seen chronic hip problems improve after releasing a stuck sphenoid bone in the cranium, or allowing stored tension in a uterus or bladder to “unwind.” In addition, long-forgotten injuries can gradually cause trouble years later; in the same area or in some other part of the body.
If you are being treated for pain or other symptoms but not improving, it’s likely that something has been missed, and it’s probably time to look deeper. Since most chiropractors are pretty good at adjusting the spine, there’s a good chance that the roadblock is somewhere else.
Muscle groups become shortened for a variety of reasons including injury, chronic (long-standing) tension, postural or occupational stresses, etc. Shortened muscles restrict normal motion and tend to develop painful trigger points. They produce an uneven pull on their bony attachments, which can cause tenderness or pain, postural misalignment, or even joint degeneration due to mis-tracking.
Somatic Technique is a simple therapy that works with the muscle, nerve and brain to reset the signals to the muscle’s cells and restore their normal length. The client actively participates in the process, then repeats a simple procedure twice a day at home to help “set” the new pattern into their nervous system. This is usually much more effective than regular stretching.
Myo means muscle, and fascia is the connective tissue that surrounds and supports all our different parts. Adhesions form when scar tissue binds two or more tissues together. They usually develop from inflammation due to injury, surgery, or chronic stress in the tissues from repetitive movements or overuse. Tennis Elbow is a common example. Adhesions usually cause problems like those created by shortened muscles.
Active Release Technique, a combination of pressure, traction, and movement can be used effectively to break up the scar tissue and release the restriction. Clients can sometimes be taught to use the technique on themselves to speed their recovery. While it’s uncomfortable when done correctly, it is much less painful (and more effective) than common deep muscle work.
This occurs when scar tissue develops between a nerve and a muscle, or when a tight muscle or band of fascia squeezes a nerve. When adhesions are present, the nerve is tugged on during simple movements, causing pain and other symptoms. The most commonly known example is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Nerve entrapment conditions can also include Sciatica, or any pain, numbness or tingling in the neck, back or extremities.
Nerve mobilization techniques use specialized positioning and movement to restore freedom to restricted nerves. This approach can often clear up stubborn or mysterious symptoms that no one has been able to help. A simpler form of self-mobilization may be prescribed to continue the work at home between visits.
The CranioSacral system is enclosed by bone and fascia (connective tissue) which holds in the cerebrospinal fluid that bathes the brain and spinal cord. It includes the cranium (head), spine and sacrum.
This system is in constant motion, like breathing but slower. The subtle rhythm can be felt anywhere on the body by an experienced practitioner, who can follow an imbalance in the rhythm to locate its source. Dysfunction in this system often contributes to chronic health problems and a wide range of symptoms.
CranioSacral Therapy is very relaxing, and improves the results of chiropractic adjustments and the other techniques discussed in this article. Very effective by itself, it also helps to clear out many problems that prevent a normal healing response.
The lymph system is in charge of cleaning up the spaces in between the cells in almost every tissue of our bodies. If the lymph flow becomes impaired for any reason, metabolic toxins quickly accumulate in the tissues, resulting in irritation, mild inflammation, or even swelling.
Gentle Lymphatic Therapy is one of the best things I’ve found to reduce or eliminate painful trigger points in the muscles. It has also produced amazing results in “melting” some serious chronic spinal restrictions in several clients, when nothing else had much effect.
Irritation or Inflammation Due to Food Allergy
Food allergies are far more common than most people realize. Their potential effects on our muscles, joints and spine are even less well known. Yet I’ve had many clients who demonstrated significant aggravation of spine, joint or muscle aches & pains as a direct result of eating certain foods.
Wheat or other gluten-containing grains are a common cause joint or muscular problems, including headaches, back pain, and some types of arthritis. Whenever a client has recurring pain or other symptoms, or when they only experience limited improvement with treatment, food allergy is high on my list of things to investigate.
Body Memory of Old Trauma
The tissues and cells of the body are capable of storing memories of past trauma. This is especially true if the body is not able to disperse the force sustained by an injury, or if there was a strong emotional component accompanying the injury. This can form an “energy cyst” which can disrupt normal energy flow (as in acupuncture meridians), cause irritation in the local tissues, and lead to joint fixations, tight muscles, etc. The muscles and fascia can also store tension patterns created by injuries, leading to chronically tight muscles, postural distortions, pain, etc.
Helping the body to release these stored tensions and energy cysts can relieve tremendous stress on the system and greatly improve overall function, relaxation, mood and general energy levels. CranioSacral Therapy and SomatoEmotional Release techniques provide an effective way to “unwind” areas of chronic tension and release energy cysts. The process is slow and gentle, following the body’s lead. It is often necessary to clear out old trauma before other therapies can provide lasting results.
Many things can delay the healing process, and any therapy that is not tailored to the individual usually fails to provide lasting benefit. When progress stops, it may be time to look beyond what you’ve already tried. A broad range of practitioners and useful therapies are available to those who wish to explore more deeply.