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.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
The carpal tunnel is a path through the wrist which the median nerve and several tendons of the arm travel through on their way to the hand. Normally the bones and ligament which form the carpal tunnel allow enough space for these important structures to pass through without being compressed. With overuse of the wrists and fingers, especially with poor ergonomics, the pressure inside the carpal tunnel can increase and compress the median nerve. This compression can lead to pain, tingling and numbness in the hand and fingers.
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.
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.
Nerve Entrapment (Pinched Nerve)
Nerve entrapment is a phenomenon which can underlie many otherwise unexplained painful conditions. Entrapment can be caused by many factors including sports injuries, improper footwear, poor ergonomics and muscle hypertonicity. Sciatica, frozen shoulder, complex regional pain syndrome and a herniated disc are all conditions which can involve nerve entrapment. Luckily once the impingement is resolved the painful condition usually improves rapidly and completely.
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.
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.
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- The activator is a small, spring-loaded device which your chiropractor may use to assist him/her in performing adjustments. The activator helps your chiropractor to perform very specific adjustments with minimal force. While not all chiropractors use an activator device, it is one of the most used tools for assisting effective adjustment in the chiropractic profession.
- Active Release
- Active release is a patented form of soft tissue treatment which was originated by Dr. P. Michael Leahy DC. This treatment treats muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia and nerves through a gentle but specific hands-on manipulation of these tissues. Through restoring free movement of the tissue, active release restores order and balance to the body and helps to eliminate pain.
- Graston Technique
- The Graston technique is a physical medicine treatment which involves soft-tissue mobilization with the assistance of an instrument. Chiropractors offering Graston technique will perform a series of stripping and rubbing motions in the region of the affected area with a tool (or series of tools) designed to help manipulate the affected tissue. The goals of the Graston technique are to release scar tissue, relax restrictions and to encourage healing in general.
- Joint Mobilization
- Joint mobilization is a manual therapy which involves creating passive movement in a specific joint without the patient’s assistance. Your chiropractor may isolate your affected joint and move it through a specific range of motion in order to loosen any restrictions on it and to increase blood flow to the joint. These movements are typically gentle but can have a profound effect on the joint.
- Kinesiology taping
- Kinesiology taping is a rehabilitative treatment technique which involves the application of a supportive but flexible tape in order to stimulate the somatosensory system and encourage healing. Kinesiology taping acts to lift the skin and create space for the muscle, fascia, ligaments and tendons to receive the circulation which they require to repair and heal.
- Manual Adjustment/Manipulation
- Chiropractors perform joint adjustments, also known as manipulations, in order to realign vertebrae and most other bones in the body. Chiropractors are experts in assessing and treating musculoskeletal conditions and the adjustment is one of their main tools for accurately correcting bony or joint misalignment. A chiropractic adjustment consists of a high velocity, low amplitude thrust which gently corrects the misalignment of the joint.
- Orthotics is a discipline of medicine which focuses on designing and prescribing a medical device which is used to improve a person’s posture and movement. The most common form of orthotics used by chiropractors is in the form of custom shoe inserts (or custom shoes) which are designed based on patient’s individual bio-mechanics. These orthotics help to correct gait imbalances and improve overall body ergonomics.
- Rehabilitative Exercise
- While many treatments exist for painful conditions, few are as pivotal to a person’s recovery as rehabilitative exercise. While your chiropractor will provide you with necessary treatments in their office, they will also likely recommend specific exercises aimed at aiding recovery and preventing reoccurrence. These exercises aim to strengthen the affected area, as well as strengthening supporting musculature, in order to optimize your recovery.
- Soft Tissue Mobilization
- Chiropractors have extensive training in soft tissue manipulation and mobilization. Your chiropractor will likely perform some soft tissue work on you if you are suffering with a painful condition or joint restriction.