How Does Chiropractic Help Inflammation and Spasm?
Recent evidence suggests that inflammation in the spinal joints, discs or muscles trigger muscle spasm opposite the side of pain. This may be one way the body protects us from placing too much weight on the injured joint or disc. Research reveals improvement in the spinal stretch reflex immediately after the audible release (the joint pops) that occurs during their chiropractic adjustment. Also, ultrasound of the deep back muscles after adjustments showed that relaxation of these muscles immediately after spinal manipulation corresponds with improvement in back disability.
Further, scientists have learned that we don’t always need x-rays or expensive CT or MRI imaging for routine care, because most of our patients will at least begin to get well within weeks regardless of whether a “herniated,” “bulging,” or “degenerative” disc is diagnosed. In fact, reducing your work load, simple exercise and chiropractic will begin to improve circulation and range of motion, and reduce inflammation in the joints and muscles, and with time even severe disc problems improve as well.
If we don’t make x-rays, how can we tell what’s wrong? It turns out that we can measure increased areas of stiffness and spasm with for example the PulStar computer assisted compliance (stiffness) instrument (see photo). We can measure tenderness that might be associated with inflammation and spasm with a force gauge (algometry), and we will also check range of motion and perform other tests that reproduce pain.
As long as these tests and your symptoms point to a spine, joint or disc problem, then you can have confidence that you are in the right place trying chiropractic, in home therapies and exercise first!
Tell your friends about how chiropractic has helped you, so they too can benefit from advances in chiropractic science!
Thanks for your time,
Rob Leach, DC, MS, FICC, CHES
To read about how the short latency stretch reflex is affected by adjustments that trigger an audible release in patients with chronic low back pain: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21781310
To read about changes in abdominal and lumbar multifidus muscle thickness and reduced disability after spinal manipulation: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21471653
A recent issue of Newsweek discusses overutilization of CT and MRI imaging in cases of routine back pain: http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2011/08/14/some