One of the most common problems I hear about with patients with chronic pain is that rainy weather seems to make things worse. Is there a real biological reason for this or is this just an old wives tale that has been passed on through time?
Don’t Stop Believing: The Uncontrollable Factor
People have been talking about how they can sense weather patterns in their joints for thousands of years. You’ve probably heard of this phenomenon from your grandmother or another relative whose arthritis pain flared up when it rains. They might say that they feel the rain in their bones.
Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine, was the first to note changes in a person’s illness status due to weather way back in 400 BC. Yet, as long as this idea has been around, studies about this phenomenon have been inconclusive. Some studies show that pain patients can feel a difference, while others say that the weather makes no difference.
It’s hard to study this effect because of the impact that belief systems have on pain. When human beings have a strong enough belief in something, it can drastically affect their perception of the world. This is seen in pain science all the time, and it makes studying pain very challenging and difficult.
Short of locking people in a box and hiding them from weather reports, it’s hard to know how this affects humans with any degree of certainty.
Animal Studies Leaving Clues
While belief systems can impact humans, some of our furry friends have helped leave some clues.
Scientists believe that the pressure in the air (barometric pressure) is what allows people to feel pain when the weather changes. When storms come, the pressure in the atmosphere begins to drop. The theory is that as air pressure drops, it decreases the amount of pressure on your joints leading to the joints and soft tissues to expand and irritate nerve endings causing pain.
In Michigan, we get experience weather changes quickly so pain patients have the unfortunate opportunity to experience this regularly.
Scientists tested this idea on guinea pigs and rats. They placed animals bred with with a pain predisposition into two environments. One group had normal air pressure while the other group had the air pressure lowered artificially.
They found that the low pressure animals showed increased pain behavior compared to the controls.
This is important because you can’t sway or convince an animal that lower pressure is going to make them hurt more. It’s a much closer relationship to cause and effect than can be currently studied in human beings.
So What? Is This Treatable?
So we know that feeling weather changes when you have pain syndromes is at least plausible based on animal models, but why does it happen and is it treatable? The truth is, we still don’t really know what mechanisms cause this type of pain so we have no idea if it’s treatable or preventable.
Based on my experience, I believe that when pain tends to be triggered or aggravated by weather, there’s likely a pain processing problem in the body.
Tissue Damage vs Pain Perception
The most common conditions associated with weather-related pain are osteoarthritis (wear and tear arthritis, not joints on fire arthritis), headaches, and fibromyalgia. The important thing to note about these 3 conditions is that the pain related to these conditions is NOT dependent on tissue damage. What does that mean?
It means that the level of pain associated with these conditions is not tied to the amount of damage that’s in the body. When you have a sprained ankle, broken bone, torn muscle, or a cut, there is damage done to the tissues that sets off a series of chemical signals meant to trigger a pain response. It’s a very linear relationship.
With joint degeneration, you might feel pain, you might not. With headaches and fibromyalgia, there’s not necessarily any physical damage that’s related to the the pain being felt.
It’s not to say that the pain isn’t real, it just means that there’s no obvious source of damage that’s causing the pain. The problem is related to the way your brain processes pain. Your brain has a built in volume control for pain perception. It can turn these signals up in certain situations, and it can turn it down in others. Chronic pain patients have their volume dial on high all the time.
It’s not just a matter of belief. Although that’s an important piece of the puzzle, there are other factors like:
Hormones in the blood
Joint movement, especially in the spine
That’s why pain isn’t just a physical phenomenon. I’m sure you’ve been in a situation where you you suffered an injury, but you didn’t feel it until much later. This happens frequently after the shock of car accident, the thril of playing in a championship game, or the necessity of escaping a dangerous situation.
You get stunned, your heart races, adrenaline is surging through the veins, and you don’t notice any pain until hours later when those hormones leave the blood stream.
Pain Perception is Malleable
This brings some good news and bad news.
Bad News: It means that for lots of cases, there might not be a treatable lesion that is generating some of the chronic pain problems you’re feeling.
Good News: This also means that your pain levels are malleable and there are different things you can do to turn down the volume of the pain you experience. Things like meditation, exercise, and cognitive therapy can all allow us to change our experience with pain, and get a little bit more control over how we feel. It gives us control over the volume dial.
This is actually one of the primary mechanisms that Structural Corrections can help people with headaches, fibromyalgia, and arthritis related pain syndromes. We are not fixing or repairing damaged tissue, we are creating an environment for healthy neurological function.
When the structure of the spine are disrupted, it decreases 2 things:
Blood supply in and out of the brain
Mechanical input into the brain
Both of these factors cause the brain to be more sensitive to pain signals. When the spine moves better and normal blood supply is restored, you can see not only an improvement to someone’s weather related pain, but also an improved resiliency and control over chronic pain syndromes.
my experience, I’ve found that whiplash is a commonly misunderstood diagnosis
among the patient population. Many people self-diagnose the pain in the neck
following a bad roller coaster ride or car accident as a whiplash injury. While
they may or may not be correct, the truth is that whiplash is a type of injury
with serious implications, and is frequently mismanaged by unscrupulous folks
with a big stake in the business of personal injury.
Whiplash is a common name for a
group of neck disorders known as cervical acceleration-deceleration injury or
cervical sprain/strain injury. It occurs when the head and neck are placed in
motion and suddenly forced to a stop causing a hyperflexion or hyperextension
This irregular movement of the neck causes the ligaments of the spine
to sprain and the muscles to splint the unstable structure. This type of injury
is also known to cause the discs of the spine to bulge and herniate, thus
complicating matters even further.
It’s easy to see how whiplash can be
a real pain in the neck (pun intended), but most people treat it like a
sprained ankle and hope that the pain goes away in a few weeks. However, there
can be long term consequences; even for people who don’t have pain symptoms
immediately. Research has shown that whiplash associated disorders are related
to inflammatory and endocrine problems like those seen in chronic fatigue
syndrome or fibromyalgia1. Whiplash is also associated with chronic
pain by making your brain more sensitive to pain signals, which explains why so
many people can suffer without any evidence of physical damage2.
Additionally, people who report whiplash injuries after a rear-end accident are
likely to show complaints of headaches, TMJ, back pain, fatigue, and sleep
problems even 7 years later3! Whiplash has even been associated with
chronic inflammation by making the body’s own immune system overly responsive
to normal stimuli4,5.
Though the focus of my practice has
never been on auto-accidents cases, the truth is that most drivers will be
involved in a collision no matter how good a driver they may be. Most will
probably not experience pain immediately after a collision, especially if
you’re in your teens or early 20’s. However, the impact of a vehicle traveling
at speeds as low as 15 mph can show visible signs of structural damage to the
neck. These include s-shaped curves in the neck, anterior ligament instability, atlas displacement,
and Anterior Head Syndrome. A recent study has found that this type of trauma
to the spine can cause parts of the brain and brain stem to slip further into
the neck creating a condition called Chiari Malformation6. While
they may not be painful in their early stages, these structural changes can
pre-dispose the spine to early degeneration and arthritis if left uncorrected
over the course of several years.
Normal Neck X-Ray
S-shape X-ray Characteristic of
As a chiropractor focused on Structural Correction, I see patients everyday with Secondary Conditions like headaches and TMJ related
to accidents that took place many years earlier. While some of these patients
suffered painful injuries and received treatment following an accident, most
people will walk in and say they didn’t have any symptoms until years later.
When someone asks why their pain seemed to come out of nowhere, I can usually
look at their x-ray and see that the structure of the neck fits the familiar
S-shape of a previous rear end collision.
Here are your take home messages:
First, problems can grow in the body in the absence of
symptoms. Much like cancer and heart disease don’t happen overnight,
people with chronic pain usually under go slow physiologic changes in
their brain and hormonal systems for years before they have a condition
that won’t go away.
Second, if you have a physical/structural problem, then
you must go beyond treating the pain symptoms to help get full resolution
of the problem. Whiplash injuries cause distinct structural problems in
the spine. While pain relief is important, making the pain go away while leaving
the structure in bad shape is like taking the battery out of a smoke
detector when a fire is burning in the house.
Whiplash associated disorders can be
a complicated problem that requires a comprehensive solution. When selecting a
team of doctors, make sure that you have someone in your corner that can look
at you from a functional standpoint rather than sheer pathology, that addresses
the structure of your spine in 3-dimensions, and understands the nature of
1. Banic B, Peterson-Felix S, Anderson OK et al. Evidence
for spinal cord hypersensitivity in chronic pain after whiplash injury and
in fibromyalgia. Pain. January 2004. 7-15.
2. Berglund A, Afredsson L, Jensen I, Cassidy JD, Nygren
Ake. The association between exposure to a rear-end collision and future health
complaints. J of Clinical Epidemiology. Aug 2001 (54): 851-856.
3. Kivioja J, Rinaldi L, Ozenci V et al. Chemokines
and their receptors in whiplash injury: elevated RANTES and CCR-5. J
Clin Immunol. Jul 2001; 21(4): 272-7
4. Kivioja J, Ozenci V, Rinaldi L. Systemic response
5. Gaab J, Baumann S, Budnoik A et al. Reduced reactivity
and enhanced negative feedback sensitivity of the
hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis in chronic whiplash associated
disorder. Pain. December 2005. 119(1). 219-224.
6. Freeman MD, Rosa S, Harshfield D et al. A case-control
study of cerebellar tonsillar ectopia (Chiari) and head/neck trauma
(whiplash). Brain Inj. 2010; 24(7-8): 988-94.
If you have experienced this kind of injury, call our office today and book your consultation. 248-287-8700
year, hundreds of THOUSANDS of people will under go some form of
spinal surgery. These surgeries range from spinal fusions,
discectomies, disc replacements, and more.
would like to discuss a popular misconception. Many people think that
if they’ve had surgery on their spine, then there’s no way that
they can see a chiropractor. Now, based on what many people perceive
of chiropractic, I can’t say that I blame them at all. If you’ve
had rods, plates, and screws placed into your spine, then the thought
of someone wrenching or twisting the spine, causing damage in the
surgical attachments…it sounds downright terrifying.
All Chiropractic Techniques Are the Same
people associate chiropractic with a move you’d see out of a
martial arts movie. The truth is, there are many ways to bring about
a correction of the spine, and some are very gentle and non-invasive.
Some are so safe that they can be used on elderly folks with
osteoporosis, new born babies, people with herniated discs, and even
people who have had surgery. In our office, we use only the most
precise and gentle chiropractic approaches so that we can take care
of people of any population.
to say, safety isn’t the main issue when you’re armed with the
correct chiropractic tools. The big question that remains is:Can
chiropractic help me even if surgery didn’t?
was taking care of a patient who had had surgery on her neck for neck
pain and arm pain. Since the surgery, her pain persisted. She was
tired of trying to fix the problem and had basically given up on
herself. Very unlikely that she would ever walk into my office of her
was referred to the office to give Structural
care a try. After a consultation and an explanation of my adjusting
techniques, she felt safe enough to give it a go. In a few short
weeks, many of the symptoms she had before the surgery started to go
away. Now here is a VERY VERY VERY important point:
adjustments did NOT NOT NOT make her pain go away
this might sound crazy, but it’s not the adjustment that did the
healing. Adjustments in of themselves have NO capacity to heal
problem was that her neck had shifted so far out of place, that the
nerves in her neck were being compressed and irritated. When you add
the surgery on top of it, it had locked the neck in a shifted
position even further. The adjustments simply help to restore the
NORMAL alignment of the head and neck. When the spine goes back to
normal, then the nerves can work again. It’s that simple.
is not an unusual situation. In fact, because of the focus on
structural correction and the gentle adjustment techniques, I have
been referred dozens of patients after surgery in the past, and
almost all of them respond great to our care.
you, or someone you know has had surgery, there are very real
limitations to how much the structure of the spine can be corrected.
As much as I love and enjoy helping patients post-surgery, the best
thing anyone can do is to have their structure corrected BEFORE
surgery becomes part of the picture. That way you can achieve a
maximum correction, and have less dependency on chiropractic to stay
“80% of the country will have back pain during their life, why would
turn away all of that potential business?”
you don’t take care of the back, then what DO you take care of?”
my practice, I focus on Structural
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?
can probably cite a complicated study, or explain this long and complex pathway like the infographic
really, I’m sure you just want me to make sense of it all. So here
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
When treating TMJ pain seems
Surgery may not be your best
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
Times and Desperate Measures
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
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
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
Central pain sensitivity
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
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
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
school starts around the country, many parents have concerns about
backpacks and scoliosis screenings. What’s the truth?
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.
most common screening test for scoliosis.
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.
curves are visible if you look at someone from the side.
you look at someone from the front or back, curves in the spine are a
bad sign and may indicate the presence of scoliosis.
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
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 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
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.
real question is, should you be worried?
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.
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.
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.
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.
a worried parent, what can you do? Here are a few tips:
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.
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.
active. Movement is life and a spine that moves early and often has
more pliability and flexibility than one that is sedentary and
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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