Areas of Focus
The Achilles tendon is a fibrous band of tissue which connects the calf muscles to the heel bone. With excessive use, inadequate rest or traumatic injury the Achilles tendon can begin to undergo degenerative changes. The main symptom of Achilles tendinitis is pain in the region of the Achilles tendon in the back of the ankle.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the joint between the jaw bone and the temporal bone of the skull. The TMJ is an important joint for biting, chewing and speaking, however, these activities can be uncomfortable or painful in the case of TMJ syndrome. TMJ syndrome can be caused by chronic grinding or clenching of the teeth, osteoarthritic degeneration of the joint or even rheumatoid arthritis, to name a few. TMJ syndrome usually results in pain when the joint is most active (clenching or chewing) and the pain diminishes when the joint is relaxed.
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.
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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.
- Acupuncture is an ancient treatment which is rooted in the practice of Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Historical records indicate that acupuncture has been an integral part of the Chinese medical system for two to three thousand years. Over the past few decades acupuncture has been spread widely and its popularity has exploded. Presently many disciplines of acupuncture exist including trigger point release, dry needling, medical acupuncture, Japanese acupuncture and more.
- Ergonomics is the science of fitting a job or task to the individual rather than expecting the individual to conform to whatever the task may demand. In an office setting this can be seen as adjusting the heights and angles of chairs, electronic devices and other reading and writing materials. Healthy ergonomics goes a long way to prevent work-related repetitive stress injuries and ideally would be applied to workplaces in every field to optimize injury prevention.
- 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.
- Interferential Current (IFC)
- Interferential current (IFC) is a treatment which involves application of low frequency electrical pulses to the region of an injury or pain with the goal of reducing pain and encouraging healing. IFC acts to quickly lessen pain, decrease swelling and decrease inflammation by interrupting pain messages which are transmitted through the nerves.
- 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.
- Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS)
- Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) is a treatment which uses a low intensity electrical impulse in order to stimulate a certain nerve or group of nerves. The stimulation which TENS provides is an effective means of loosening tight muscles, increasing blood flow to an area and encouraging healthy lymphatic flow. Your chiropractor may use TENS to treat a broad range of conditions as it is a versatile treatment which can help many painful conditions.
- Although ultrasound is used as an imaging tool to visualize tissues within the body, it is also used for many other medical applications, including treating painful conditions. Ultrasound may be used by your chiropractor to speed recovery of an injury such as tennis elbow or plantar fasciitis, among many others. The result of ultrasound therapy is increased blood flow and reduced restrictions at the site of treatment, leading to improved recovery time.