01.05.2020
Dr. John Conflitti
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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
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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
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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
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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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