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Chiropractic Care for Peripheral Neuropathy

Chiropractic Care for Peripheral Neuropathy

 

If you have tingling, numbness, or pain in your extremities (hands and feet), then you may be experiencing the onset of peripheral neuropathy.  The pain, numbness, burning, or tingling can range from constant to intermittently throughout the day or week.  Left untreated, peripheral neuropathy can become more severe, significantly limiting a person’s mobility and/or performance of everyday tasks.

Consider the last time you only had one bar for reception on your cell phone.  The static you experience is similar to the nervous system’s inability to communicate properly with the rest of the body.  This is what leads to neuropathy.  As the signals from the brain to the nerves in the spinal cord are interrupted, the “static in the system” is translated into the physical sensations described above.

There are several causes of peripheral neuropathy including diabetes, alcoholism, kidney disease, arthritis, lupus, AIDS, and cancer.  Peripheral neuropathy can also be caused by physical trauma or pressure on the nerve or a B12 vitamin deficiency.

Aging is also a major contributor to neuropathy.  As people age, the spinal column and vertebral joints begin to break down, leading to increased compression on spinal nerves, which leads to nerve damage and neuropathy.  Trapped or compressed nerves can be released by chiropractic manipulation, which adjusts the spinal column into the proper alignment, freeing the nerves to function normally.  Chiropractic treatment is non-invasive and, unlike medication, does not mask the pain.  Some patients who see us for neuropathy can also benefit from physical therapy to improve muscle strength and function to help reduce pain.

According to the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners, neuropathy is the second most common condition treated by chiropractors.  A 2008 study in the Journal of Chiropractic Medicine concluded that nearly 85% of patients experienced a reduction of symptoms after an average of 9 visits.

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, proper evaluation and diagnosis along with appropriate treatment, can help decrease symptoms and improve functioning.  Here at Quince Orchard Medical Center our team of clinicians will work with patients to alleviate the symptoms of possible nerve damage or peripheral neuropathy.   Please call us to schedule an appointment today.

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Introduction to Strain-Counterstrain Technique

Introduction to Strain-Counterstrain Technique

Here at Quince Orchard Medical Center, we like to talk about our clinician “toolbox” – the various techniques and specialized training – that allows us to provide individualized care to each of our patients.  In this article, we’ll discuss one of the “tools” that we use, “Strain-Counterstrain Technique.”  Strain-Counterstrain, also widely known as “positional release,” has been taught exclusively through the Jones Institute and has been practiced by Dr. Lawrence Jones and his colleagues since the mid-1950s.

The hallmark of the Strain-Counterstrain technique is its gentleness.  Purposefully non-traumatic, the Strain-Counterstrain technique reduces pain related to both neuromuscular and musculoskeletal disorders, making it useful in treating various conditions ranging from acute pain to chronic conditions.  By using passive body positioning and locating “tender points,” muscles in spasm and painful joints are held in positions of comfort while dysfunctional muscles are compressed and restored to their normal operational limits.

During treatment your clinician will hold your body in specific positions for approximately 90 seconds.  The purpose for holding each position is to wait for the muscles to relax, rather than implementing a more active therapy module.  The concept is to deal with the root of the pain as opposed to putting a temporary “bandaid” on the symptoms.

Research conducted by Irwin Korr in the 1970s explained why the Strain-Counterstrain technique works so well.  When a muscle experiences a trauma that causes it to over-stretch, its spindles (sensory receptors within the muscle that primarily detect changes in the length) contract to protect the muscle tissue.  As a result, the muscle can become trapped in a shortened position that, while somewhat functional, is painful and irritated.  Focusing on the specific tender points associated with each of the joints and muscles, the clinician will help shorten the over-stretched or damaged muscle by holding the body in a specified position, allowing it to return to status quo.

When a muscle is relaxed and shortened, it sends signals to the central nervous system, “hey things are OK here, we’re back to normal, nothing to worry about here…”  After that message has been sent, the central nervous system resumes normal functioning because it’s under the assumption that it no longer needs to spasm to protect itself from any type of excessive feedback that it was previously receiving.  As a result, the body begins to function the way it was originally intended, and, thus heals itself.  Relief and restoration is immediate. Pain free movement can be built and restored for the long-term through exercise.

Conditions which can benefit from applying Strain-Counterstrain Technique include Fibromyalgia, TMJ, sports injuries, vehicle accidents, post-surgery, arthritis, headaches, whiplash, pain following a traumatic injury, neck or back pain, and for those individuals who may require more gentle care, such as small children or the elderly.  We’re always happy to discuss the appropriateness of utilizing the Strain-Counterstrain technique during your treatment here with us.

 

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What Causes Trigger Points?

 

Diagram of Trigger Point Complex

 

Have you ever experienced back pain or sciatica?  Do you get headaches regularly?  How about tennis elbow, carpal tunnel, or other joint pain involving the knees or shoulders?  Trigger Points are a cause of pain commonly seen at Quince Orchard Medical Center and all of our clinicians are equipped to treat them.

When your body is under stress, whether the stressor is physical or emotional, it always has a reaction to cope with it.  Trigger Points found in your skeletal muscles where your body has the potential to store that stress-energy for a long period of time. These are the locations on your muscles that exhibit extraordinary sensitivity, and in some cases, may become so stressed that they produce limited movement, stiffness, and pain.

There is a lot of information out there about Trigger Points, and it can easily become some type of vague, ethereal concept.  Quite simply, a Trigger Point is a small portion of muscle tissue that experiences extraordinary contraction.  Doctors and massage therapists can reliably target specific Trigger Points because they are always found where a motor neuron connects with the muscle.  On a microscopic level, when someone experiences pain produced from a Trigger Point, it is actually the motor neuron signaling the muscle fibers to fire off as a response to some other stimuli rather than the normal operational performance of the muscle.

Specific causes of Trigger Points can include, but are not limited to, trauma, overuse, repetitive straining, or alignment imbalances.  There can also be episodes where increased and prolonged muscle tension from an existing injury activates Trigger Points.  For example, someone sprains an ankle and then walks with a limp.  That extra strain placed on the non-injured leg could exacerbate Trigger Points in the non-injured leg.  It is also possible for existing Trigger Points to create referred pain in other parts of the body, which, in turn, activates other Trigger Points. This waterfall of symptoms can lead to chronic pain.

Unresolved pain from Trigger Points can compound, leading to more chronic problems such as those mentioned at the beginning of the article.  It’s important to know that stretching and the typical massage, ice, painkiller routine won’t resolve the irritation caused by Trigger Points.  In some cases, stretching, rubbing, or massage treatment for a muscle can make the pain worse in the long run if the Trigger Point is not released prior to working on the larger areas of the muscle.

During Trigger Point therapy, the therapist will compress the muscle fibers of the Trigger Point, which in turn makes the motor neuron and the muscle to relax the muscle contraction.  From this point, massage or stretching may be appropriate depending on a treatment plan developed with your therapist.

If you have been experiencing unresolved muscular pain, consider giving us a call.  All of our practitioners are skilled at direct and indirect treatment of these symptoms.  Although some patients suffering from activated Trigger Points only require a few visits, there are some cases that may require extended treatment.  One of the benefits of seeing our specialists at Quince Orchard Medical Center is our integrative approach to pain management and medicine, which seeks the least intensive and the least invasive approach possible.

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