Growing your brain through neurologic retraining; the importance of exercises and proper diagnosis in rehabilitation of painful conditions
People visit doctors for many health issues; one of the biggest being pain. As many of our patients already know, symmetry in the body is good, and a lack of symmetry in the body leads to compensations that will result in injuries and pain. This is especially true for anyone who walks or runs (that should cover most of the population).
I am often asked what percentage of the public has painful problems. The answer of course is everyone, since the public the chiropractor sees is in pain and most often asymmetrically built (you inherit your body style from your parents), and we usually do not see those who do not have issues.
One of the ways, other than manipulation and myofascial therapy sports chiropractors help their patients resolve longstanding issues is by using neurological retraining, and movement retraining and reeducation. The patients who are most likely succeed in their care take an active part in their rehabilitation by performing the exercises that the doctor recommends.
Of course, not all exercises are created equal, however, when a patient in pain is diagnosed, most of the time, the doctor diagnoses the painful part, or uses itis at the end of the word to indicate inflammation and then proceeds to recommend a medication, instead of a rehabilitation regimen aimed at the mechanical problem causing the pain, the problem and the movement pattern can continue to worsen for years, as joints are damaged by poor body ergonomics which will worsen as the myofascial surrounding the painful joints causes more straining, damage and pain.
When the medication fails to eradicate the worsening painful problem, the patient is often sent to a therapist who proceeds to rehabilitate the painful part, often with exercises, stretching and other regimens. The problem is that often the pain is being causes by another part of the body, and not the therapist or the doctor who referred them ever fully looked at the patient, other than the painful part.
A classic example of this was someone who visited us last week for a frozen shoulder. She said ” I visited my doctor who diagnosed frozen shoulder and then sent me to a therapist who proceeded to work on my shoulder, however, it did not make sense to me that they did not look at the rest of my body or the other shoulder.” During the evaluation, the patient was shown she had feet that flared out, one more than the other that caused a dropped hip, tight core muscles which placed tension on the left shoulder, and eventually, she felt pain. By her second visit, she was able to sleep better and better ranges of motion in the shoulder because the tension caused by other parts of the body on the shoulder was reduced. She also stated that the inserts for her shoes that effectively leveled her hips out helped improve her chronic lower back pain which she has tolerated for years but was considered normal.
This type of out of the box thinking is typical in the office of a sports chiropractor who will likely look at the patient first, and then try to understand why the symptoms are occurring rather than assuming the area of pain is the problem based on what most doctors (chiropractors included) are taught under the medical model of diagnosis.
Once the mechanical problem is improved, then rehabilitation begins with exercises to improve strength, core stability and endurance and then retrain neurologic and muscular movement patterns. This is a standard rehabilitation principal with new evidence that supports the fact that retraining movement and neurological retraining (exercises done over months at home) will actually help rewire your brain. It is suspected this happens with pain as well, which is part of the theory of Fibromyalgia, although, most people with Fibromyalgia are built asymmetrically and have a strong mechanical component to why they hurt (read Cheating Mother Nature, what you need to know to beat chronic pain for an explanation of the mechanisms behind the Fibromyalgia theory)
Basically, if you want to solve a mechanical pain problem in the body, you have to change the mechanisms that make us hurt. Rarely, is the painful part the reason for the pain. Patients need to know that if their doctor diagnoses inflammation, without an explanation, their doctor likely may not understand body mechanics in a way that can be helpful for them to find a safe and cost effective resolution to their problem. Since we inherit our body styles and since by the age of 6, we are built for the most part as we would be when we are older, 6 years old is a likely benchmark for what we perceive is normal (regardless of whatever normal is or is there a normal?). Perhaps, this is why doctors have such a difficult time understanding why their patients hurt. Quite simply, symptoms are clues; nothing more and nothing less.
What is needed to help you find a solution to chronic pain.
1. Chiropractor who understands myofascial therapy, which can include Active Release Techniques (r) (a style of myofascial release), other styles of myofascial release treatment and instrument assisted soft tissue methods.
2. Foot orthotics can help level out someone who is asymmetrically built (this changes the rules of the game for how your body works against gravity.
3. Gait retraining and other exercises including neurological retraining regimens. This, as we are now learning causes the body to work differently, so we can avoid painful conditions by having our body function better against gravity. Often the problem is not the tightness, but the mechanism making us tight.
To find our more, explore our website, read our blog and read Cheating Mother Nature, what you need to know to beat chronic pain available through Amazon.com