Areas of Focus
Back pain is a symptom rather than a condition but it is an issue that most Canadians will suffer with at some point in their lives. There are many possible causes for back pain and for this reason it is best to have thorough assessment with your chiropractor in order to arrive at the correct diagnosis. While one person’s back pain may be caused by poor posture, another person’s may be caused by a muscle spasm or a herniated disc. Back pain is a condition which chiropractors treat very frequently and effectively.
The spine is a large and complex series of joints. Between each pair of vertebrae sits a soft but firm cushion called the intervertebral disc. This disc cushions impact between the vertebrae and protects them from damage. The most common symptom of disc herniation is pain which travels down the path of the spinal nerve which is impinged. For example, when the L5-S1 disc herniates pain is often felt down the sciatic nerve distribution of the buttock, thigh, leg and/or the foot.
Healthy posture is an essential factor in maintaining a strong and stable spine. When posture and overall ergonomics are compromised, misalignment, muscle weakness and pain may develop. Chronically poor posture and ergonomics are a significant barrier to full recovery from injury and painful conditions in general. Conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome, low back pain and neck pain are heavily influenced by a person’s posture. Your chiropractor will fully assess the impact of postural imbalances on your body and make the necessary changes for optimal recovery.
Frozen shoulder, also known as “adhesive capsulitis”, is a condition caused by stiffness of the fibrous capsule which surrounds the shoulder joint. People with frozen shoulder may suffer a significant amount of pain in the shoulder which leads to reduced usage of the affected arm and further stiffening of the capsule. Frozen shoulder, in some cases, can be a condition which perpetuates itself through limiting the use of the affected arm and impairing recovery. People over the age of 40, in particular women, are more likely to develop frozen shoulder.
Illiotibial Band Syndrome
The iliotibial band is a wide band of rigid connective tissue connecting the hip to the tibia bone. This band is naturally quite rigid but can become even more tense in the case of iliotibial band syndrome. Overuse is the most common cause of iliotibial syndrome, with runners being the most common group affected. The symptoms of iliotibial band syndrome include pain and stiffness in the region of the lateral thigh. With iliotibial band syndrome, care should be taken to have adequate rest periods especially during intense athletic training.
Migraine & Tension Headaches
While migraines and tension headaches have some similarities, they each have unique symptoms. A tension headache is usually experienced as a chronic, even daily, nagging headache, while a migraine typically lasts for a day or two and then is gone for weeks or months. Tension headaches are a lower intensity pain that may rarely go away. They become a part of the sufferer’s life and are often misdiagnosed. Migraine headaches are typically shorter bursts of intense pain which may be accompanied by nausea, vomiting and light sensitivity.
Muscles are contractile tissues which drive movement throughout the body. Muscles function through a delicate balance of many factors including water, magnesium, calcium, potassium, protein, fat, carbohydrates, stress, sleep and exercise. If any of these factors is out of balance the muscles may become weak or even spasmodic. Luckily there are treatments and lifestyle modifications which can help with acute spasms as well as chronically spasmodic muscles.
Osteoarthritis (commonly called simply “arthritis”) is a degenerative condition of the joints which affects most Canadians as they age. Osteoarthritis is a process of wearing down of the cartilage of our joints which generally progresses with age and can become debilitating in some cases. People with past injuries and people carrying extra body weight are at an increased risk of developing osteoarthritis. The symptoms that people with osteoarthritis experience most are pain, stiffness, weakness, swelling and poor mobility of the affected joint.
The piriformis is a small muscle located in the buttock under the gluteus muscles. It acts to assist in rotation of the hip and leg outward. Piriformis syndrome is suspected to be caused by a muscle spasm in the piriformis muscle, causing pain in the buttock. The sciatic nerve may also be affected by the piriformis muscle leading to pain, numbness and tingling which is felt down the leg. Siting for extended periods of time or an acute injury to the hip or buttock can increase the risk of developing piriformis syndrome.
The plantar fascia is a broad band of ligamentous tissue which attaches on the front of the heel bone on one end and onto the ball of the foot at its other end. The plantar fascia provides stability and support to the arch of the foot. Plantar fasciitis is a degenerative condition which affects the plantar fascia, typically at its connection on the front of the heel. Fibres of the plantar fascia can become damaged and lead to pain in the heel, usually at the front of the heel where the plantar fascia attaches.
During pregnancy a woman’s ergonomics will change considerably due to the extra weight she carries which can lead to pain in the low back, hips, pelvis and more. As her body gradually prepares for giving birth at the 9 month mark she may become more uncomfortable due to progressive relaxing of ligaments throughout her body. Daytime ergonomics, sleep ergonomics, exercise and chiropractic treatment are all important factors in helping to alleviate pregnancy pain.
Rotator Cuff Injuries
The rotator cuff is a group of four muscles which surround, stabilize and help to move the shoulder through its range of motion. The shoulder is a unique joint in that it has a very large range of motion and, while most joints are stabilized heavily by ligaments, it is mostly stabilized by muscle. Because of the extreme range of motion of the shoulder, the rotator cuff muscles are fairly prone to tearing injuries. Muscle tears are challenging for the body to recover from but full recovery is possible with proper treatment.
The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve of the body and runs from the hip down the thigh and leg, providing sensation and motor control to the thigh and lower leg. Sciatica is a common condition which is caused by pressure on the sciatic nerve. People with sciatica usually will experience pain in the buttock which extends down the back of the thigh and leg. The pain can vary in intensity, being a nuisance for some and being unbearable for others. While sciatica is a common problem which is often chronic, it tends to respond well to proper treatment and lifestyle modification.
Sprains and Strains
While sprains and strains are both acute injuries with similar symptoms, they actually involve different bodily structures. A “strain” is a condition where a muscle or tendon is stretched or torn, while a “sprain” happens when a ligament is stretched or torn. Both sprains and sprains can lead to pain and poor mobility of the affected area. A strain may lead to even more limited movement, while a sprain is more likely to lead to bruising and swelling.
Tennis Elbow & Golfers Elbow
Tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow are two similar conditions, both being painful examples of tendinitis affecting the elbow. While tennis elbow affects the outside (lateral) aspect of the elbow, golfer’s elbow affects the inside (medial) aspect of the elbow. Tennis elbow is mostly caused by repetitive extension injuries of the elbow and golfer’s elbow is caused by repetitive flexion injuries of the elbow. Playing tennis or swinging a hammer would increase your risk of tennis elbow while throwing activities or golfing would increase your risk of golfer’s elbow.
Wellness & Preventative Care
While chiropractors are well known for helping people recover from a multitude of health conditions, they also help their patients maintain good health through lifestyle modification, exercise guidance and ongoing maintenance care. Ideally you will begin seeing your chiropractor when you are healthy and pain-free because your chiropractor can help you to maintain your good level of health, prevent injuries and keep you in balance overall.
Whiplash is an injury to the neck which is most commonly caused by rapid and forceful jerking of the neck, much like the motion of a whip when it is snapped. Car accidents, falls and jarring sports injuries are common causes of whiplash. People with whiplash may experience neck stiffness, pain and a limited range of motion of the neck. Pain can also occur beyond the neck, with headaches being another common symptom of whiplash.