Intervertebral discs are the fluid filled sacks that exist between the vertebrae of the spine. These discs serve as shock absorbers for the constant compressive load to our spines.
In addition, intervertebral discs allow our spines to move with great range of motion. When the fluid inside an individual disc bulges or herniates through the outer tissue of the disc, this is called a disc bulge or herniation.
The most common way to injure an intervertebral discs is by bending and lifting while twisting to one side. This combination of motions puts a tremendous amount of lateral pressure on the vertebrae and discs of the low back. If there is a pre-existing weakness in the disc or a mechanical weakness such as misalignment of the lumbar vertebrae, the involved disc may bulge to a point where it compresses the adjacent nerve root. This can cause anything from moderate localized low back pain or muscle tension to excruciating and sometimes radiating low back pain and numbness.
When the low back pain is accompanied by pain that radiates down the back of the leg to the buttocks or as far as the feet, this is what is referred to as sciatica. With chiropractic adjustments, the vertebrae above and below the involved disc are realigned so that the shearing pressure on the bulging disc is removed along with pressure on the nerve root.
Chiropractic adjustments are often accompanied by therapy on a flexion distraction table. At Apex, we use the best Leander flexion distraction tables available. The motion produced by this equipment creates a vacuum between the involved joints which helps to pull the disc material to the mid-line between the vertebrae and accelerate the healing process.
Approximately 80% of headaches are caused by abnormal mechanics of the neck and have little to do with the head itself. Poor or altered alignment of the cervical spine results in nerve compressions. These nerve compressions lead to blood vessel constriction and the pain commonly associated with "migraine" headaches. Poor vertebral mechanics will also result in muscle tension, decreased range of motion and "tension" headaches.
Like every other system in the body, the immune system is also controlled by the nervous system. Misalignments of spinal vertebrae interfere with communication from the nervous system to the immune system and will compromise your body's ability to heal itself efficiently.
Many people like to dismiss their physical pain as "stress". I do empathize, life can be very difficult and challenging at times. And yes, stress can be a major and significant factor contributing to poor health. We all tend to have emotional responses to life's challenges. This makes us human. But please understand, physical pain is not a human body's normal or natural response to emotional stress or anxiety. If you consistently write off or rationalizing your aches and pains as purely a manifestation of stress or anxiety, you may fail to recognize serious degenerative musculoskeletal problems or even a life threatening illness.
Stress does in fact weaken the body and make us more vulnerable to injuries and illness. But more commonly, the pain we associate with stress is caused by past mechanical or physical injuries that have been left uncorrected. Over time these small forgotten injuries will cause muscular and mechanical imbalances, chronic inflammation, scar tissue and eventually arthritis in the involved joints.
Because this imbalance is not the normal state of the body, during times of increased emotional stress these symptoms will become exacerbated or magnified and then manifest as muscle tension and pain. Chiropractic care is done to correct the neuromuscular and mechanical imbalances that manifest as pain during periods of increased emotional stress.
Radiating Pain / Extremity pain
Pain in an arm or leg may have any number of causes; bursitis, tendonitis, and arthritis to name a few. Often pain in an extremity may not be caused by an injury to the limb at all.
When vertebral misalignments compress sensitive nerve roots in the neck or lumbar spine, often there is a referral of pain to the shoulder or down the arm or leg. In the leg this is called "sciatica". A thorough orthopedic exam will reveal the true origin and cause of pain so an effective chiropractic treatment plan can be designed for optimum results.
Nerve pinches are the specialty of chiropractic. In fact, the core purpose of a chiropractic adjustment is to remove or correct nerve interference from "pinches".
The pain people commonly identify as a "nerve pinch" is usually caused by a misaligned vertebrae or (Subluxation). Whenever a vertebrae misaligns and narrows the space a nerve root occupies, there is great potential for a nerve pinch.
The pain associated with a compressed nerve is anything from sharp pain with a particular movement or pain or numbness radiating to an arm or leg. Nerve pinches are often painless but can also produce symptoms such as headaches and muscle pain.
Nerve pinching is a significant cause of pain as well as compromised health. This is the core principle behind chiropractic science and practice. Doctors of chiropractic are the only physicians trained to correct the vertebral misalignments that compress or pinch nerves.