01.09.2020
Dr. John Conflitti
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“80% of the country will have back pain during their life, why would turn away all of that potential business?” “If you don’t take care of the back, then what DO you take care of?” In my practice, I focus on Structural Correction and I deal exclusively with the alignment and mechanics of the spine. I’ve seen hundreds, if not thousands of patients with low back pain looking for someone to help them. So, how can a gentle approach to the neck help with back problems? I can probably cite a complicated study, or explain this long and complex pathway like the infographic shown below: But really, I’m sure you just want me to make sense of it all. So here it goes: 1. No matter where pain may be felt, it is always processed by the brain. That’s why there are many Secondary Conditions occur where there is nothing physically wrong to diagnose, but the pain is very real to that person. A person with Fibromyalgia deeply understands this concept. Proper structural alignment of the head and neck allow the brain stem to transmit the messages from the spinal cord properly. It ensures that there is no hypersensitivity to pain occurring at the level of the central nervous system. 2. Anterior head syndrome is a condition in which the head and neck has shifted forward in front of the shoulders. While this may not seem like much, but the weight of a 12 lb head reaching beyond the shoulders forces the muscles of the neck and back to pull harder than normal. This is because for every inch forward the head moves, gravity pulls 10 extra lbs onto the neck and back muscles. So a person with a 10 lb head can suddenly have the mechanics of a 30 lb head with just 2 inches of Anterior Head Syndrome. An interesting thing to note is that people with both neck pain and back pain will see their back pain go away before their neck pain. 3. According to a recent study in the Journal of Neurosurgery, deformities in the neck affect the alignment of the hips and pelvis. The two structures are linked together through a complex muscular sling. In other words, where the head goes, the neck goes and vice versa. Whether you’ve been told your SI joint or a herniated disc is the problem, Structural Correction may still provide an answer. Though not all cases of back pain are related to a Structural Shift in the spine, it’s an important factor that is not usually looked at by most doctors or Traditional Chiropractors. Rather than getting pigeon-holed into a symptom-treatment model, it may benefit you to have someone take a global look at the body, and how a structural shift can impact the spine and the central nervous system.
01.08.2020
Dr. John Conflitti
No comments
If you have ever been to a doctor’s office and had an x-ray performed, you have likely heard about something called spinal degeneration. Spinal degeneration is a condition in which the discs and joints of the spine begin to narrow and often form bone spurs. If you’ve ever been to a chiropractor’s office and seen your x-rays, you’ve probably seen a chart that looks like this: You compared yourself to one of these images, and identified yourself within one of the various phases of spinal degeneration. Maybe you felt confused. Maybe you felt alarmed, perhaps even a little scared. Either way, you knew that your spine probably didn’t look like the “normal” and that you had work to do. How Bad is it Really? No one likes to be told that their spine is developing arthritic degeneration. It’s a sign that the days of our youth are fading, and a reminder that our bodies are not going to last forever. Everyone will develop some level of spinal degeneration as we get older. Regardless of whether someone has a lifetime of chiropractic, supplements, positive mental attitude, etc, we cannot stop discs from breaking down or bone spurs from forming. Once people get into their 40’s and 50’s, we expect to see some degree of degeneration in the spine to occur. Are there those in their 70’s without it? Sure. But those are OUTLIERS, and we don’t make predictions based on a handful of outliers. With that being said, here are some quick facts to know about spinal degeneration. 1. Degeneration ≠ Pain – One of the things that frustrates me is when someone tells a patient that they are going to live with chronic pain because they have spinal degeneration. While many people with degeneration do have spinal pain, an OVERWHELMING MAJORITY of people with degeneration have no pain what so ever. While a lot of people with pain have some level of spinal degeneration, that doesn’t mean that spinal degeneration is the CAUSE of their pain. I’ve seen many patients with massive spinal degeneration, and many of them will get better despite the fact that their degeneration has NOT CHANGED. We have to resist being trapped within a diagnosis, especially if that diagnosis has a high degree of inaccuracy.  2. Your Spine Isn’t Going to Fuse (Probably) – some patients have concerns that a doctor told them that their spine is fusing. This is always something that raises my eyebrows because there are less than a handful of situations where you would expect the segments of the spine to fuse together. Vertebra don’t fuse as they degenerate. Discs will get closer together to where there’s minimal space, but regular degeneration WILL NOT turn into a fused vertebra. They are completely different things.    We have NO idea what the time table is on degeneration. Except in cases of certain disease processes (i.e. – ankylosing spondylitis), this is nothing but fear mongering. Degeneration, not Death Sentence Degeneration can be a problem for some patients. Loss of hydration in the disc, and lack of movement in the spine can create problems for the brain and nervous system. Time and again, I’ve seen patients who have been told that their problem is related to arthritic knees, hips, and spines respond really nicely to Structural Correction. Even without seeing any change to the degenerated joint. If the arthritis were the sole problem, then no one with spinal degeneration would ever get better. Degeneration is a sign of a breakdown process, but it’s not usually the cause. We need to be freed from these self-defeating labels that hold us back from living the active and healthy lifestyle we all deserve. If you’ve been told that your pain or problem is because of arthritis or degeneration, it may be time to get another opinion. Call our office today and book your appointment to get back on the right track. 248-287-8700
01.07.2020
Dr. John Conflitti
No comments
Outline: ·         When treating TMJ pain seems hopeless ·         Surgery may not be your best solution ·         TMJ pain may not be a jaw problem Patients with TMJ often see a large drop in the quality of their life: ·         “I feel like a baby because I can’t eat solid foods anymore” ·         “There are times where I just have to stop talking because all I can think about is the pain” ·         “That popping sound creeps me out and drives me nuts” A lot of people will experience jaw pain for a day or two if they bite into a hard/chewy piece of food, but imagine if your life was plagued with jaw pain every single day. We underestimate the importance of our jaw, but it’s the piece of anatomy that allows you to enjoy some of the finest pleasures in life. Everything from kissing, to chewing, to a casual conversation with friends becomes a burden when your jaw fails to function. Desperate Times and Desperate Measures Severe cases of TMD (Temporomandibular Disorders) can make people reach their breaking point quickly. Many of the patients that come to our office are usually looking at surgery as their next and final option because they don’t know what to do. Even worse is when a patient spends tens of thousands of dollars for surgery but the pain doesn’t go away. Procedures that help to remove or replace a degenerated disc in the joint are sometimes performed to eliminate this pain sensitive piece of anatomy. The problem is that a degenerated disc can show up on imaging, but it isn’t necessarily the cause of the pain. Unfortunately this happens more often than you might think, and it’s something that can make a patient with TMD hopeless if even surgery couldn’t get the job done. This isn’t to say that surgery is not the answer, or that surgery can’t help, but we have to remember that TMD is a problem that science has yet to reveal all of the answers, and dental surgery is still working on figuring out what works and when it’s appropriate. TMJ Pain May Not Be A Jaw Problem There are many different causes for TMJ pain. They can range from abnormal jaw movement, tight jaw muscles, and degenerated discs. These can all be problem areas for a TMJ patient, but they all have something in common. In fact, their commonality goes back to some of the same neurological mechanisms that contribute to neck pain and headaches. That’s why people with TMJ don’t just have jaw pain; they often have neck pain and headaches at the same time. It’s because almost all pain signals from the head and neck go through a small piece of spinal cord called the trigemino-cervical nucleus. Trigemino-cervical…..what???? Sometimes Pain is a Computer Problem So if you don’t have a medical background, some of that terminology might jump over your head. Instead of thinking anatomy, let’s talk about it like a computer.   Your brain and spinal cord are like a computer chip. The part of your computer chip that feels head and neck pain is the trigemino-cevical nucleus. Just like all computer chips, the quality of information that comes out is dependent on the quality of information that comes in. If you put junk information in, you get junk information out. The computer chip of your body relies heavily on information from the muscles and joints. These signals are like computer programs. Whenever these joints move poorly from bad positioning, then it’s like a bad program that gives faulty information about what’s happening inside the body. This can occur from malpositioning of the jaw, faulty jaw movement, neck positioning errors, and faulty neck movement. It’s like a computer virus going into your system and scrambling important signals into the brain. This tells the body to produce a junk signals including: Tight and tense jaw muscles Inappropriate inflammation Central pain sensitivity Can This Program Get Shut Off? Fortunately your body’s program for pain can be re-written by changing the way these joints move. A specialist like a neuromuscular dentist can use non-invasive methods to change the way your jaw moves and alter your bite with an orthotic. Chiropractors that can correct the craniocervical region can create a dramatic impact on the pain programming in the brain. That’s why both of these doctors frequently see similar patients, and will actually co-manage them between each other. Neck pain patients may get better relief from a dentist changing their bite, while some TMJ patients will get better relief from correcting their neck. While we can’t say for certain which takes priority, but many patients can benefit from an interdisciplinary approach to care. Take the time to get a Complimentary Consultation to find out what method fits with you. You may even find that getting the entire jaw/neck complex fixed may be the key to solving your TMD. Call our office today for your free consultation – Premier Chiropractic 248-287-8700
01.06.2020
Dr. John Conflitti
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As school starts around the country, many parents have concerns about backpacks and scoliosis screenings. What’s the truth? As I speak to more and more patients, I’ve come to a realization that there is quite a bit of confusion about what scoliosis is, and how it can affect your child’s health. Many people remember going into the school nurse’s office every so often and get a scoliosis test where they bend down from their waste and touch their toes, as shown below. The most common screening test for scoliosis. But what is scoliosis? Scoliosis involves a curved deformity in the spine. Now here’s where it gets funky. There are good curves and bad curves in the spine. When you look at someone from the side, the spine normally has 3 curves that curve to the front, back, and front again. These curves provide strength and stability to the spine in gravity. A scoliotic curve is seen from the front or back, and may indicate a structural abnormality or congenital deformity. Good curves are visible if you look at someone from the side. When you look at someone from the front or back, curves in the spine are a bad sign and may indicate the presence of scoliosis. Many people can have a scoliosis and never feel any effects or symptoms from it.  Others may experience more common symptoms like back pain, neck/shoulder tension and posture/cosmetic problems. In rare cases, the curvature can become large enough (50 degrees or more), that it can compress the chest cavity causing respiratory and cardiac problems, and become a surgical issue. Scoliosis comes in 2 main forms. There are is a functional scoliosis which is typically named idiopathic scoliosis, and there is a scoliosis called structural/anatomical scoliosis. A structural/anatomical scoliosis is called by a malformed vertebra which can force the spine to a curved position as it seeks to get back to center. This type of scoliosis cannot be fully corrected and it can also lead to larger curvatures depending on how malformed the vertebra is. A functional/idiopathic scoliosis is named as such because there is typically no medically known cause. This is the most common type of scoliosis.  These types of curvatures can be corrected and reduced significantly through conservative means when caught before a person is fully developed. The real question is, should you be worried? The truth is, if you’re just worried about pain, then probably not. Many times, scoliosis is asymptomatic, especially in children. In fact, most people will probably go through their childhood with no knowledge that it is even there. For the category of idiopathic scoliosis, it is often the secondary result of a structural shift in one or more bones in the spine. A curve is usually not described as a scoliosis until it reaches the 10 degree mark. Most people are concerned when the curvature surpasses 20 degrees, as that’s when bracing becomes a common recommendation, and cosmetic concerns become more obvious (postural problems, protruding shoulder blade, etc). When the curve grows 40 degrees, surgery starts to become a real option for treatment. The key is catching these curves early. Scoliosis is most commonly found in girls during adolescence, which is a great window of opportunity for structural correction, no matter how small the curve may be. Just like how a bent frame of a car can create suspension problems and tire wear/tear, a bent spine can increase the damage the spine experiences throughout life. I’ve seen x-rays of people well into their 40’s and 50’s who have never experienced spine pain, but will show a scoliotic spine with disc degeneration and bone spurs in the exact pattern that the structural alignment would dictate. As the spine shows early wear and tear, the nerves can get damaged and cause secondary conditions as well as changes into the muscles, ligaments, and even the vital organs of the body can start to show. As a worried parent, what can you do? Here are a few tips: Get a spinal check up by someone who is focused on the health of the spine! Nurses and general practitioners do a great job of identifying major curvatures using basic screening tools, but these will typically identify cases of scoliosis that are excessively large and may be candidates for surgery. A chiropractor focused on structural correction instead of pain relief can recognize smaller deviations and provide tools to correct them if necessary. Avoid the one shoulder back pack routine. It may look cooler and be more comfortable, but extra forces on a spine that isn’t optimally positioned can increase scoliotic curves. Stay active. Movement is life and a spine that moves early and often has more pliability and flexibility than one that is sedentary and stiff. Keep the weight down. If you had a crooked house and you add more weight to it, what happens to the house? It breaks down faster. The same thing happens to the body. If you build more mass on top of a crooked structure, it will lead to earlier degeneration. Stay fit.
01.05.2020
Dr. John Conflitti
No comments
As the Winter Equestrian season comes to a close here in Michigan, and golf season begins. While it appears to be a low impact sport to the average observer, golf can be a really stressful sport! While some golfers say the biggest stress is on their pride and their mental state, from a Structural standpoint golf has the biggest impact on the lumbar spine aka, the lower back. If you're serious about golf, then you have to be serious about the mechanics of your swing because a bad swing will wear down the discs, ligaments, and joints of the spine. The biggest threat is the coupled movement of excess rotation and extension. One bad swing isn't going to hurt you, but thousands of swings over the course of years can wreck even the strongest spine. The commonly missed factor in the health of a golfer is the structure of the spine. A spine with a Structural Shift in the hip and pelvis will not only make a golfer more susceptible to injury, but you're leaving a lot of force on the table. To make a long story short, you will make your best swing less efficient, and your muscles will fatigue more easily because you are wasting so much kinetic energy. When the spine is in the distorted position that you see on the left, then the force of a highly rotational swing gets sent into the discs and ligaments of the spine, instead of smooth transfer into the hip muscles. The result is more chance for the discs to tear, and poor muscular output leading to poor performance. If you are serious about playing golf throughout your life, and you want to play not just pain-free, but to your fullest potential, then you need to play without Structural Shifts.
Overview: Pain from the ribs. How’d it happen? Why does it hurt so bad? Painful but fixable “It hurts right here (points to middle of back), especially when I take a deep breath in.” “It’s like someone is poking a knife in the middle of my back” “Every time I try to stand up all the way, my back spasms.” “I just want to crack this pinch in my back.” There are times when pain can literally take your breath away.  That sharp, stabbing pain coming from a very pinpoint spot in the middle of your back.  Sometimes it’s just a really annoying feeling that won’t go away, but other times it can make you feel crippled by back spasms. In many cases, this pain comes from the joint where your ribs connect to your spine. Sometimes people will say that you have a rib head that’s “out of place”, misaligned, or sprained. For the sake of today’s article, we’ll just call it rib pain. It’s a frustrating problem because it can happen out of nowhere. Sometimes you just wake up with the pain, other times it’s from twisting or turning too quickly. Fortunately, even though we don’t know much about the pain, we do have effective strategies to help manage it when you feel it. Why Does It Hurt So Bad? The interesting thing about pain from a rib head is that the intensity and level of annoyance is really high for a problem that is pretty harmless. It’s not like a herniated disc where you may have other serious complications that arise, but the pain can sometimes be as debilitating. Although this joint won’t result in pinched nerves that can cause muscle weakness or loss of feeling, it is extremely dense in pain generating tissue. The ligaments shown on the image above, as well as the direct connection of the rib to the vertebra can be full of pain fibers called nociceptors. This joint is not supposed to have very much movement. If the joint gets overloaded and sprains the ligament, or if there is too much friction between the joint surfaces, then it stimulates an aggressive pain response in the brain. When the pain response is initiated, the nervous system often looks to brace an area of injury, this typically comes in the form of muscle tightness and spasticity. As the muscles tighten around your ribs, it limits your ability to breathe in deeply. The muscle spasticity may also compress the nerves, arteries, and veins passing around the curvature of the ribs causing additional sources of pain and discomfort. Unlike other parts of the body like the hand, shoulder, and low back, you don’t have a choice in moving your ribs. Your ribs move whenever you take a breath, and breathing is a little bit important to the maintenance of life. The more it moves, the more it can agitate the painful joint even if there’s minimal tissue damage. How to fix it? For most people, this pain will go away within a week without any treatment. However, if you have the pain for longer, you may need a little bit of outside help to correct the problem. Most chiropractors can address the pain with a spinal adjustment to the thoracic spine or rib head. Typically patients will feel a substantial amount of relief within a few visits. When combined with some corrective exercise, you probably won’t have any further issues unless you reinjure the joint.   Whether your problem is brand new or chronic, a Structural Corrective approach to the spine can lead to substantial relief.
01.03.2020
Dr. John Conflitti
No comments
If you have ever been to a doctor’s office and had an x-ray performed, you have likely heard about something called spinal degeneration. Spinal degeneration is a condition in which the discs and joints of the spine begin to narrow and often form bone spurs. You may have even been shown a poster with the stages of spinal degeneration on it, and asked to pick which stage you are in. You compared yourself to one of these images, and identified yourself within one of the various phases of spinal degeneration. Maybe you felt confused. Maybe you felt alarmed, perhaps even a little scared. Either way, you knew that your neck probably didn’t look like the “normal” neck, and that you had work to do. How Bad is it Really? No one likes to be told that their spine is developing arthritic degeneration. It’s a sign that the days of our youth are fading, and a reminder that our bodies are not going to last forever. Everyone will develop some level of spinal degeneration as we get older. Regardless of whether someone has a lifetime of chiropractic, supplements, positive mental attitude, etc, we cannot stop discs from breaking down or bone spurs from forming. Once people get into their 40’s and 50’s, we expect to see some degree of degeneration in the spine. Are there those in their 70’s without it? Sure. But those are OUTLIERS, and we don’t make predictions based on a handful of outliers. With that being said, here are some quick facts to know about spinal degeneration. 1. Degeneration ≠ Pain – One of the things that really frustrates me is when someone tells a patient that they are going to live with chronic pain because they have spinal degeneration. While many people with degeneration do have spinal pain, an OVERWHELMING MAJORITY of people with degeneration have no pain what so ever. While a lot of people with pain have some level of spinal degeneration, that doesn’t mean that spinal degeneration is the CAUSE of their pain. I’ve seen thousands of patients with massive spinal degeneration, and many of them will get better despite the fact that their degeneration has NOT CHANGED. We have to resist being trapped within a diagnosis, especially if that diagnosis has a high degree of inaccuracy. 2. Your Spine Isn’t Going to Fuse (Probably) – some patients have come to me with concerns that a doctor told them that their spine is fusing. This is always something that raises my eyebrows because there are less than a handful of situations where you would expect the segments of the spine to fuse together. I took an x-ray on one of these patients and all that was visible was moderate disc degeneration. A very common finding on x-ray, and nothing to get very alarmed about. They were under the impression that their spine would be fused together within 5 years if they didn’t get this fixed. This is absurd for a couple of reasons: 1. Vertebra don’t fuse as they degenerate. Discs will get closer together to where there’s minimal space, but regular degeneration WILL NOT turn into a fused vertebra. They are completely different things. 2. We have NO idea what the time table is on degeneration. None. Nada. Zilch. Except in cases of certain disease processes (i.e. – ankylosing spondylitis), this is nothing but fear mongering. Degeneration, Not Death Sentence Degeneration can be a problem for some patients. Loss of hydration in the disc, and lack of movement in the spine can create problems for the brain and nervous system. Time and again, I’ve seen patients who have been told that their problem is related to arthritic knees, hips, and spines, respond really nicely to Structural Correction. Even without seeing any change to the degenerated joint. If the arthritis were the sole problem, then no one with spinal degeneration would ever get better. Degeneration is a sign of a breakdown process, but it’s not usually the cause. We need to be freed from these self-defeating labels that hold us back from living the active and healthy lifestyle we all deserve. If you’ve been told that your pain or problem is because of arthritis or degeneration, it may be time to get another opinion. If you would like to have your nerve system checked for its Structural integrity, a consultation to discuss your concerns may be a great place to start. Find out where to go from here by contacting our office at 248-287-8700
01.02.2020
Dr. John Conflitti
No comments
Are you suffering because of age, or might it be something deeper?  “Don’t get old, you end up like this” “That’s just because of old age” “See, this is why you shouldn’t get older” These are some of the most common phrases that I hear when people talk about the pain they’re having. Most of the time, they’re being said by someone in their early 40’s; which is just more than half of an American’s lifespan (78 years of age: 2012). It’s spoken as if Father Time had a magic shot that make a person start experiencing pain and arthritis completely out of the blue when they hit nature’s halfway point. Let’s take a look at it for a second. When most people talk about the pain of getting old, they’re usually referring to a cascade of problems that’s lumped into the name Arthritis. We’re talking about the joint shrinking version known as osteoarthritis, and not the hot and burning inflammatory arthritis. Osteoarthritis is usually used to describe any one of these problems: degenerative joint disease, degenerative disc disease, spondylosis, bone spurs, and spinal canal stenosis. Let’s take a look at one example:   This is the x-ray of a spine from a side view. This is a person in their late 50’s or early 60’s with neck pain and arm pain for the past year. The yellow arrows are pointing to areas that have severe degenerative disc disease, estimated 40-50 years of breakdown. When these badly degenerated discs were pointed out to them, guess what was said? “Oh, those are just due to old age” Now, of course there will be wear and tear on the spine of a 60 year old person. There’s no question about that. But the extent of damage to the area of the spine is substantial. Now the interesting thing is this, how old is the healthy disc of the spine? That’s a trick question of course, because all of the discs are the same age. If this problem was strictly a matter of aging, wouldn’t you expect every single disc to have similar levels of degeneration? “Here’s the truth, this person did not have a problem of age; they had an aging problem.” There are definitive problems with the structure of this person’s spine. When a structural problem happens into the spine, 2 things can happen: The biomechanics of the spine become distorted and accelerate the wear and tear of the joints. Think about what happens to your car when the tires are improperly aligned. Would you expect the steering wheel to pull to one side? Would you expect one tire to wear out on one side faster than the other? Would you expect the ability for the tire to hold air to be different from side to side? The same thing happens to the joints of the spine too! The structural shift will distort the signals going in and out of the brain. As the spine shifts, the spinal cord and spinal nerves will misfire into the brain. This misfiring causes the muscles of the spine to tighten and spasm, and create dysfunction to anywhere where those nerves travel. Those are the facts. Here’s where things get tricky. This person had a problem in their spine for upwards of 50+ years. However, they did not show any signs of pain until the past year. What gives? Problems in the spine can be left undiagnosed and unidentified for several years. Research shows that many of us have herniated discs in the spine, and out of those people 60% of you will feel no symptoms.  Thus, a problem that should be of primary concern can be wreaking havoc on the body without us knowing it. With that said, these problems are almost always preventable. With proper exercise and proper postural awareness, you can save years of wear and tear on the spine, and maintain full function of the delicate nervous system. As with anything else, it’s always important that you protect the parts of your body that you hold most dear through routine checkups. We always find time to check our blood pressure, cholesterol, eyes, and of course your teeth.  When was the last time the structure of your spine was checked?
01.01.2020
Dr. John Conflitti
No comments
Most people are familiar with the image on the top. An image of a lowly iceberg. It looks so simple to simply steer around and bypass it on the way to smoother seas. But if our past was a good teacher, then we know that by only paying attention to the surface, we can miss a dangerous obstacle in the depths. Our bodies are equipped with an incredible array of signals to let us know that something is wrong. Sometimes it comes in the form of a pain in the back, draining fatigue, or chest pain. The purpose of these signals is to tell us that something is wrong, but it’s up to us to look within to identify the cause. As long as we continue to exist in a healthcare system that only seeks to reduce symptoms, then we will continue to get the same results as those who only saw the tip of the iceberg. Unless we look towards the body’s healing capacity, and why it’s not operating at 100% full function, then we are missing the boat on the health challenges of millions of people. And there’s no amount of drugs, natural medicine, surgery, or insurance money that can save that ship from sinking.
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