“It Feels More Muscular-I don’t think it’s a Chiro Problem!”
It’s something we as Chiropractors hear incredibly often. The common notion is that Chiropractors only deal with spinal bones, and when something “pops out”, we as Chiropractors simply “pop it back in”. If a patient has pain that feels muscular, the common thought process is that it’s not something Chiropractic can help with, probably more of a “Physio” problem. Sound familiar?
The long story short is that all of the above mentioned is incorrect. These are very outdated concepts that unfortunately most of us aren’t educated about. The truth, that will surprise most people, is that the system that Chiropractors influence and deal with the most is actually the muscular system. Yes, you read that correctly!
When spinal joints lock or stiffen up, the nerve at that spinal level becomes inflamed and irritated and doesn’t work as well. Because the spinal nerves control very deep spinal stabilizing muscles, if the nerve doesn’t work properly these small postural muscles actually switch off. That in turn results in the body recruiting other bigger muscles to work overtime to hold your posture correctly, resulting in muscle fatigue and pain to you. That’s often when people in acute pain contact us.
Chiropractic adjustments are designed to stimulate the nerve to turn on these small muscles again. As these small muscles start to activate, the body allows the big muscles to relax so we see better postural control, better nerve activation and less muscle spasm by the bigger muscle groups. See, it’s more about the muscles and the nerves!! We need a leaver to get to the nerve and that’s where the bone comes in. The adjustment definitely helps the joints to function better, but the main focus is still on moving the joint to stimulate the nerve which in turn activates the muscle. Over time as these muscles receive repeat stimulation, they stay turned on for longer, it’s like training a muscle at a gym. Eventually, they don’t need as much stimulation, which means we as Chiropractors don’t need to adjust you as often due to the muscles now working as they should. So nothing pops out, and we certainly haven’t popped anything back in.
This concept is not unique to the spine. The same can occur in other joints such as shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, knees and ankles. This is why Chiropractors have such good results with “peripheral “ joint problems, not just the spine.
It should be said that Physiotherapists and Massage Therapists also can have fantastic results with muscular pain syndromes, but next time you get that “muscle” pain, remember it may not be the muscle that is the problem, it might just be the nerve to the muscle caused by that locked joint. So your Chiropractor may be able to help!!