Perhaps the most important tool in the chiropractor’s toolbox is the spinal adjustment. This is a very specific procedure applied to the spine that has a direct effect on the nervous system and muscle function. Although an adjustment can be performed in a variety of different ways – from a very light touch to a deep quick thrust – the outcome for patients is often improved spinal function and the reduction of pain.
Many people see chiropractors regularly to maintain wellbeing and vitality, but most people first see a chiropractor because they are experiencing pain or symptoms. This may include back pain, neck pain, headaches or a variety of other ailments.
There is no doubt that pain can significantly interfere with quality of life, however, the experience of pain is a very subjective one. Pain can be influenced remarkably by our state of mind – a cuddle from a parent, the excitement of sport or the adrenalin rush of war can diminish or completely block pain perception. In contrast, an anxious state will heighten the pain experience.
Pain may also vary according to cultural background. One study compared patients with leg fractures in two U.S. hospitals with a matched group of patients in three urban hospitals in Vietnam. Over a 2-week period, the Vietnamese patients were given, on average, 0.9mg of morphine equivalent units as compared to 30.2mg given to those in the United States. Interestingly, only 8% of the Vietnamese patients reported that their pain control had been inadequate, whereas 80% of the American patients did so.1
Clearly there is a difference between nociception (neurological perception of a noxious stimuli that is potentially harmful to the body) and pain (emotional conscious awareness of a noxious stimuli). A noxious stimulus can be thermal (hot or cold, mechanical (crush, tear, etc) or chemical (e.g. Acid on skin).
Our perception of pain takes place in the brain. This processing can be influenced by a range of things including spinal imbalance that changes sensory awareness in the brain.
At the National Development Forum in Melbourne in 2011, Dr Heidi Haavik (chiropractor and neurophysiologist) explained why some patients might have a very quick reduction in pain following chiropractic care, while others may take much longer.
The group that gets off the chiropractic table and immediately notices reduced pain most likely had a problem with central processing in the brain. The spinal adjustment “resets” the system. Better sensory input from the spinal muscles to the brain dampens the pain sensitive nerve fibres.
In the case where improvements are slower, there are usually also inflammatory mediators and other nociceptive issues around the painful tissues. In this case the healing time is longer.
If want to discuss how spinal adjustments can reduce pain with your chiropractor, book online @ https://www.centenarychiro.com.au/ or call us today on 07 3381 0440