Making The Connection: Understanding Injuries

Many Healthcare providers as well as patients tend to view physical injuries as the result of the symptoms they can see or feel. Understandably they want to treat the pain. Too often they do not understand the consequences of our bodies being a functional unit. An injury to a specific area of the body can and often will create changes that alters the biomechanics of the body, the way the body moves itself. Treating the injury without treating the entire biomechanical chain assures the patient will keep coming back because although the pain may abate, the dysfunction persists. The pain will ultimately return.

What we often fail to realize is how “smart” the body actually is. The body is in a constant state of motion, doing an amazing number of tasks simultaneously. Killing off cells, creating new cells, digesting, tearing, salivating, thinking, hearing, feeling, seeing, and balancing are just a very few examples of what our bodies do in just a millisecond. Our bodies are such well oiled machines that they will do what ever it takes to get, for example, from one side of Central Park to the other with or without us feeling the adjustments it needs to make to get the job done.

I will use my patient Ann as an example.

Ann is a lovely middle-aged woman who works in the stock market. To relax, she likes to run. While running in the Park one afternoon Anne noticed some left sided low back pain. She continued to run, thinking she would “fight through the pain”. Over the course of several weeks however her pain progressed, becoming more frequent and persistent. She visited an orthopedist who did an evaluation that included images (MRI/X-Rays) of her low back. Her doctor determined that she was having a muscle spasm due to overuse. She was prescribed muscle relaxers, an anti-inflammatory, and rest. She stopped running for five weeks and followed the regimen her doctor prescribed.

When she resumed running she was careful to take it slow, not to overdo it. Two weeks later her pain returned with the same intensity that she felt before her time off.

Frustrated and scared that her running career was over, she confided in one of her running partners. This friend had had a similar problem with a knee a few months earlier. She explained that she had seen a chiropractor who had successfully helped her overcome the knee injury using ART. So Ann decided to see me.

After a thorough evaluation and biomechanical assessment we determined that her right hip was not as functional (muscles weren’t firing as strongly) as her left. We decided to get some imaging of her hips. X-ray revealed she had a mild degeneration (wear and tear) of her right hip joint.

Essentially, what was happening was her lower back was now taking on the stress which the right hip was no longer able to fully carry. Her lower back was exhausted, working too hard to compensate for the hip. The pain was signaling her to stop.

After treatment, which included ART (Active Release Technique), chiropractic, and proper strengthening of the Hip and the lower back, Ann returned to running pain free in about five weeks. Ann carefully follows a daily routine designed to strengthen her lower back and hip. She also has an occasional ART treatment for preventative care which allows her to continue running long distance races regularly without pain or discomfort.

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