If you are driving down the freeway and the red light on your dashboard begins to flash, warning that your engine is running low on oil, you have three options. You can ignore the flashing light and hope it will go away; you can pull out the light so it can longer flash; or you can stop at the nearest service station and fill up with oil.
In this example the sensible option is obvious. But many people face these types of health choices every day. For a variety of reasons many do not stop and fill up with oil.
Pain is one of the body’s warning lights. It indicates that something is wrong and needs attention. The nerve fibres that transmit pain sensations are called nociceptive nerves. When a cell is injured or damaged in some way these nerves carry messages to your brain, making you aware of a problem through the experience of pain. Without this warning system you might continue to do something that would ultimately cause greater damage to your body.
Nociceptive nerves are smaller and have slower transmission speeds than many other nerves. Their effect on the brain can be modulated, reducing or increasing the pain they produce. Working on breathing techniques, and learning to relax, can reduce pain. When we are stressed the production of certain hormones may increase pain.
As a rule, movement reduces pain. It stimulates larger and faster nerves that have a dampening effect on nociception. This is one of the reasons why exercise makes you feel good. Of course this is not always the case – jogging with a broken leg is unlikely to be helpful! In conditions like Fibromyalgia the brain becomes more sensitive to nociceptive input. People with fibromyalgia often trivial injury.
Chiropractic is a holistic approach to health that looks beyond symptoms and addresses the cause of the problem. While medication to cover or control symptoms may be necessary in some situations, this is not the fundamental chiropractic approach. Chiropractors look at how your body is functioning and work to improve function, returning you to, and maintaining you at, optimal health.
Posture, flexibility, muscle balance, nerve system function, spinal movement, leg length, stress levels, diet, exercise and many others are all part of a chiropractic assessment. Once a diagnosis is made, the focus in on improving function. This may involve specific chiropractic adjustments and other techniques, along with lifestyle advice and exercise, to improve body function.
While the pain you may be experiencing is very important to your chiropractor, ultimately addressing the cause of the pain, rather than the pain itself, will be your chiropractor’s goal.
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