“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
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
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
the truth, this person did not have a problem of age; they had an aging
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
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?
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.