HAPPY THANKSGIVING from the Pittsburgh North Hills chiropractic back pain relief office of Dr James Schofield.
Many people feel discomfort from chronically tight muscles in their lower back and/or their neck and upper back. It is not normal for muscles to continuously be tight. This article will discuss why muscles undergo a state of tightness and how relief of this type of muscle pain can be achieved.
As a practicing chiropractor of over 35 years I’ve heard many patients describe neck, upper back or low back pain in terms of having constant tightness, tension, stiffness or spasm in their muscles. Let’s discuss muscular function in terms of what is normal and abnormal.
We all know that muscles attach to bones. When muscles contract, they move our bones through a certain range of motion. We also know that when we overuse our muscles, they can become sore and go into some degree of spasm. The spasm might be mild, or it could be severe. Usually, this type of tightness of the muscles, eases over the course of several days as the body heals itself. I tell patients that if their muscles are sore and tight after overuse, it will probably diminish and resolve in 24-72 hours. This is normal healing of muscles.
Others, however, describe muscles that are in some degree of tension and stiffness all the time. It may get worse, at times and then lesson, but it never goes away. This is a sign that something is wrong and needs to be checked.
I recall a patient who was a professional baseball pitcher and had come to see me. He had just become a member of the team in the city where I live. His complaint was that he was having ongoing tension and tightness of the muscles in his upper back. This was interfering with his ability to pitch normally. I asked him what he had done previously to help with the problem. He said that he had the trainers on his team give him massages and help him with a stretching routine. He said that it gave him some temporary relief but didn’t completely resolve the problem. When I examined him, I found that he did indeed have spasms of the spinal muscles of the neck and upper back. However, the reason this was occurring was because he had a deeper problem. My exam revealed that he had misalignments of the spinal bones of his neck and upper back. His muscles were tight and in spasm because they were trying to stabilize the deeper spinal misalignment so that he didn’t hurt himself any further.
I told him that the body will always try to protect an injured area. In his case, his muscles were chronically tight and in spasm because they were trying to protect the deeper spinal misalignments. I said that while we don’t like our muscles to be tight and sore, we have to respect that they are protecting us from allowing the condition to worsen.
I treated him by utilizing chiropractic spinal adjustments to correct the misalignments of the spinal bones of the neck and upper back. After his first treatment he immediately felt the muscle tension loosen and relax. He said: “Wow, they never did that for me in the trainer’s room!” I replied by letting him know that chiropractors are the preeminent healthcare providers when it comes to correcting spinal misalignment by chiropractic adjusting and manipulation. It took several more treatments for his muscles to fully relax so that he could resume pitching normally.
Most people who go to a chiropractor find that having a chiropractic adjustment is a pleasant experience because it helps release some tightness of the muscles. The number of visits a patient will need to attain pain relief of their tight muscles will be dependent on how long they’ve had the condition and its severity.
In summary, tight and painful muscles should heal after a few days of rest. This is completely normal. However, if muscles are tight, stiff or in spasm and are chronically causing pain it is most likely due to a deeper spinal misalignment. If this is the case it would be wise to seek safe, gentle chiropractic care for muscle pain relief.
During my 35 years of chiropractic practice I have heard many interesting comments from my patients who were pregnant. One lady who received a great deal of lower back pain relief through chiropractic care during her second pregnancy said: “I wish I had known to go to a chiropractor during my first pregnancy.“ She went on to tell me that she had not had chiropractic care the first time she was pregnant and had suffered a great deal of lower back pain. This article will discuss how pain of the back can result during pregnancy and how chiropractic care can give lower back pain relief.
Another statement I heard was from an assistant who worked for me named Christine. She became pregnant with her first child and I gave her chiropractic treatments throughout her pregnancy. She not only experienced very little pain of the back but also had a very easy and quick delivery of her baby. During one of her visits to her female obstetrician, while pregnant, the obstetrician told her: “I would have never made it through my pregnancies if it hadn’t been for my chiropractor.“ I’ve found that over the years obstetric professionals have become more acceptive of chiropractic care for pregnant patients and suggest and recommend patients see chiropractors for treatment-especially went back pain is involved.
Back discomfort can develop during pregnancy because of postural changes that are occurring due to changing weight-bearing of the mother. As the baby grows, it causes the mother’s posture to shift forward. This can put strain on the joints of the lower back and pelvis. If this occurs misalignments and abnormal movements can irritate pelvic and spinal joints which creates discomfort of the back.
Chiropractic care is a safe, gentle way for realignment of the lower spine and pelvis and gives pain relief. For this reason, obstetricians and primary care doctors recommend their pregnant patients to chiropractors because it is a drug-free alternative therapy for relief of lower back pain.
Additionally, a normally aligned pelvis allows the baby to be properly positioned during the various stages of pregnancy. Studies show that women receiving chiropractic care during pregnancy and especially through the last trimester tend to have quicker, easier deliveries of their babies. It should be stressed that chiropractors do not turn or reposition babies during pregnancy. This is the realm of the obstetrician. All chiropractic care does is make sure the pelvis and the spine are in optimal position. Some chiropractors utilize the Webster Technique, which is a safe, gentle method to help with alignment of the woman’s pelvis to give relief of back discomfort. The Webster Technique is one of the many forms of treatment that chiropractors can provide to give pain relief of the back during pregnancy.
Migraine headaches, while being extremely painful, can definitely affect people’s lives. I recall a patient in my chiropractic practice named Gary, who was in his mid-30s and suffered from migraine headaches. When I initially met with Gary, he also brought his wife. We discussed his history of being plagued with migraines for many years. When a migraine occurred, he was incapacitated and had to go to bed with the lights off and the blinds closed. His wife told me that many of their family functions and vacations were dependent on whether or not Gary was having a headache. This article will discuss migraine headaches and how people can obtain migraine headache relief without the use of drugs.
Research is showing that it is increasingly becoming clear, that problems in the neck may play some role with the migraine headaches process. A 2019 research study published in Cephalgia showed that migraine patients with concurrent neck pain had significantly more migraine-related disability than those without neck pain.
The spinal bones of the neck are called the cervical vertebrae. Improper movement or misalignment of the joints of the cervical vertebrae have been found to have a significant correlation with those who suffer from migraines. When the joints of the cervical spine are mal-positioned or move abnormally, they appear to, deleteriously, affect the nerves that can in turn, trigger the onset of a migraine headache. The joints of the cervical spine are called the facet joints. Misalignment and improper movement of the facet joints is called joint dysfunction.
What can a patient expect when initially visiting a chiropractor about their migraine headaches? First, the chiropractor will ask questions, during consultation, about their migraine history. Next, the doctor of chiropractic will examine the patient’s cervical spine so as to feel the areas where facet joint dysfunction exists. Chiropractors spend many years developing the ability to feel if abnormal movement or misalignments of the cervical spine exist. This examination procedure is called palpation. Chiropractors are considered to be the preeminent experts in the art and skill of palpation. If cervical spine joint dysfunction exists chiropractic treatment can commence.
Chiropractic treatment serves to correct cervical spine facet joint dysfunction. Chiropractors perform a gentle, safe method to correct facet joint dysfunction called a chiropractic adjustment. Chiropractic adjustments realign and restore proper movement to the cervical spine which reduces and eliminates facet joint dysfunction. This leads to reduction of migraine pain frequency, intensity and loss of quality activity. The majority of patients receiving chiropractic adjustments feel a great sense of release of tension, tightness and stress of their neck discomfort.
I can happily report that Gary’s chiropractic treatment gave him migraine headache relief and allowed he and his family to enjoy uninterrupted gatherings and vacations. He told me that his wife and children were elated that they could have a relaxing vacation that wasn’t affected by migraine headaches. He said: ‘It’s fun being healthy.”
Approximately one month ago, a 34-year-old female patient named Deanna, asked me what I, a chiropractor, could do to bring about relief of her shoulder pain. Over the course of my 35 years in chiropractic practice I have been able to help many people gain shoulder pain relief. This article will discuss pain of the shoulder and how chiropractic care can give shoulder pain relief.
Deanna’s shoulder pain had begun approximately one month before she came to my office. She felt her discomfort was an accumulation of daily circumstances. She had been working at home for approximately six months due to the 2020 coronavirus pandemic. She stated that her makeshift office ergonomics set up was not the best. Certainly not as good as the previous one at her office. Additionally, she had a two and four-year-old at home that she had to care for. When she was working at the office, she sent her children to daycare. But since she was working at home, she felt she could reduce her day care expenditures by watching the children herself. She noted this arrangement caused her pick up and carry the two-year-old more often as well as cleaning up after the kids. Clearly the sub optimal home desk/computer station and the physical activities of caring for the two children were the cause of her shoulder pain.
Before Deanna had come to my office, she had been to her primary care doctor who had given her an oral steroid, called prednisone, to take for a couple weeks. Prednisone is a powerful steroidal anti-inflammatory medication that reduces swelling. Unfortunately, it gave Deanna absolutely no relief of her shoulder pain. Her PCP said the next step was to see an orthopedic specialist for possible steroid injection into the shoulder.
Deanna did some research on the Internet and decided to check further into possible help from chiropractic services. Since she had never been to a chiropractor before I told her we would follow a procedure to determine what was causing her shoulder pain. I let her know that if I could help her, I would tell her and that if I couldn’t I would tell her that also.
We proceeded to talk further about her complaint. We found that her shoulder pain was significant but that she was also having some mild discomfort in her neck and upper back. This is important because, many times, there is an association between neck pain and shoulder pain.
When I examined her, I checked her shoulder movement which was somewhat diminished. I also felt the musculature of the neck and upper shoulder which was in significant spasm.
X-rays were taken of her neck and shoulder. The shoulder x-rays were fine, but the x-rays of her neck showed misalignments and indicated she had pinched nerves.
I told Deanna that she had two problems: the first was a mildly frozen shoulder and the second was nerve irritation coming from her neck. We proceeded to work to gain proper alignment and movement of the bones of her neck which are called vertebrae. We also did some gentle mobilization of her shoulder joint and use physical therapies to reduce inflammation and swelling of the shoulder. I saw her a couple times a week for four weeks of gentle, safe chiropractic therapy. By the end of that time Deanna had complete relief of her shoulder and neck pain and had full shoulder mobility. I told her it would be necessary for her to improve her workstation at home and to obtain some help with caring for her young children so that the problem would not recur.
This case shows the importance of looking at a patient as a whole person and not just where the source of the pain is located. Chiropractors are trained to observe and evaluate the whole patient and not specialize with a focus that would be too narrow. When a person looks for shoulder pain relief seeing a chiropractor is a must!