alignment

Lower Back Pain Alleviated Through Proper Spinal Alignment

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Up to 10% of people worldwide are coping with lower back pain. In fact, it is the number one reason people claim disability and time off from work. One in three disability cases is due to problems located in the lower back region, causing many to seek help in an attempt to settle matters before it gets to the point of making one disabled.

How Proper Spinal Alignment Helps Lower Back Pain

It may be surprising to learn that the top bones of the neck are responsible for the way a person’s posture is during rest, showing how vital it is for them to be properly aligned. The C1 and C2 vertebrae are susceptible to misalignment. If this occurs, then a person actually has to think about how to sit or stand straight. This is something that should come naturally, but a misalignment changes more than the bones in the neck. Since we have more important things to think about than focusing on our posture, the body often will fall into whatever position the neck bones dictate. 

Another thing to be aware of is how additional tension is created throughout the entire back, not just the neck. Since the head can weigh as much as 14 pounds, if it is off center by just 2 or 3 inches, significantly more weight begins to stress the lower back. This is why a misalignment in the upper neck causes many problems in the lower back.

How Upper Cervical Care Can Help Lower Back Pain

At our Agoura Hills, California office we are able to help many patients to cope with back pain successfully. We use a gentle method that allows the bones to move into place more naturally than twisting or cracking the spine. This method has been shown to have a success rate of up to 95%! At one practice, 77% of those with lower back pain experienced significant improvement, and 18% saw their back pain go away entirely. We strive to provide similar results for our clients.

Are You Stuck or Are You Adapting?

Every time a patient comes to my office, I’m interested in one crucial question: Is your body stuck or is it adapting? 

That information gives me a snapshot of where you are from a musculoskeletal standpoint. And that’s what determines whether an upper cervical adjustment will be helpful or not at that time.
 
Our bodies have an amazing ability to heal and adapt when the upper cervical vertebrae are aligned. But when the top two vertebrae, the atlas and axis, are out of alignment, they can put pressure on the brainstem.

This interferes with the nervous system and inhibits communication between the brain and the body, causing pain and health concerns for many people.
 
At any point, your body may be on its way to correcting a skeletal misalignment (adapting), or it may be stuck. That’s why the specific, scientific approach of upper cervical chiropractic is so helpful. Every time I see a patient, I’m able to use objective tools to evaluate if an adjustment is needed.
 
I believe my patients benefit most from a “minimalist” approach to chiropractic care. Simply put, that means:  
 
Your body naturally tries to adapt and find the alignment that’s right for you. When your body is doing what it’s supposed to do, I leave it alone -- and help you find ways to feel better while your body is healing. When it’s stuck, I provide a very specific, small correction. Then I allow that to sink in and see if your body will continue adapting on its own. 

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I explained this to one of my riding patients the other day, and she said, “Horse people will definitely understand that philosophy!”
 
Do you give an aid or correction to your horse regardless of whether it’s needed? Of course not. And, you probably adhere to the “less is more” approach, using the smallest aid that gets the result you’re looking for. 
 
In the chiropractic arena, the minimalist approach means that you will get an evaluation every time you see me, but you’ll only receive a chiropractic adjustment if you need one, and any correction will be as small and specific as possible to achieve the desired effect. We’re looking for a change over time...the goal is to get lasting results that hold, by allowing your body to do its job.

How Can I Tell If You Need an Adjustment? 

Sometimes when we’re faced with the “Are you stuck or adapting?” dilemma, the answer correlates with how you feel. Sometimes, it doesn’t. That’s why I use several objective methods of evaluation each time I see you, including infrared thermography and functional leg checks, as well as a subjective assessment based on how you feel to gauge your progress.
 
There are times when your body is working its way toward better alignment and healing on its own – even if you can’t feel the progress yet. Alternatively, you may be “stuck” and will benefit from an adjustment, even if you’re feeling relatively pain-free that day.

Small Shift, Dramatic Results

As an equestrian athlete, you enjoy a sport where tiny modifications make a big difference in how you feel while you’re riding and how effective you are.

But unlike most athletes, your control over your own body affects more than just you.

Not all my chiropractic patients have a 1,200-pound partner who can tell when you’ve just tipped your head forward, slumped your shoulders or leaned a bit to your left. 

A tiny shift can make a big difference when you ride. And not surprisingly, the most minute shift in your skeletal structure has a dramatic effect on your body too. Even small misalignments can cause big problems.
 
Feel free to schedule a no-obligation phone call with me to learn more about upper cervical care, regardless of your goals -- whether you have ongoing aches and pains, an injury that’s preventing you from riding as you did before, or even if you’re just interested in remaining injury free and staying in the saddle as long as possible.
 
Let me put the MINIMALIST chiropractic approach to work for you…specific, small corrections for lasting results.

The Rider’s Spine: The Key to Stability On and Off Your Horse

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Welcome riders! Regardless of your discipline, skill level, age or physical ability, I’m here to share with you the benefits of upper cervical chiropractic for the equestrian. Whether your focus is dressage, jumping, barrel racing, trail riding or any equestrian pursuit, reducing your body’s imbalances and misalignments can improve your riding. If you’ve suffered an injury or are simply suffering from the toll that riding can take on your body, the specific, scientific approach of upper cervical chiropractic care may bring the relief you need.

Many riders seek chiropractic care for specific pain, such as:

  • pain in the back, neck or shoulders
  • problems with range of motion
  • chronic discomfort from previous injuries
  • perceived imbalances (one leg feels longer than the other, for instance)

Sometimes, an equestrian’s issues are less pronounced but still affect their riding and should be addressed. Most riders know what it feels like to be off balance or have experienced the sense of riding “against” the motion rather than “with” your horse. In riding, as in other sports, trying to put your body in the “correct” position is not the same as finding your center of balance and moving freely from a secure, centered foundation.
 
Sometimes, your own skeletal structure may be what’s hindering your progress. Working to improve areas such as your position, aids, flexibility, strength or overall riding skill are important goals. But if skeletal misalignments are preventing you from moving in a balanced, pain-free, comfortable way, you won’t reap the full benefit of all those other efforts.
 
Simply put, the biomechanics of horseback riding stresses your frame to begin with, and many riders have pre-existing skeletal issues that affect their posture and movement before they even get on their horse. Also, just like our horses, we tend to favor one side over the other, which can accentuate imbalances.
 
Ideally, our bodies naturally adjust to the stresses of our athletic pursuits. But sometimes, they need a nudge in the right direction to help the healing process begin. The scientific evaluation provided at each check up allows me to determine if and when an adjustment is needed, and to make a small and specific correction that is more likely to provide lasting results.

Coming Back Into Balance

  • Realigning your skeletal system can alleviate pain and set your body up to better handle the impact of riding
  • Better control over your own body can help you use more subtle and correct aids and more clearly influence your horse
  • Helping your body correct misalignments can provide more energy and focus during riding and everyday activities

Adjusting Your Priorities

You probably spend a lot of time, money and energy on your horse’s well being. If you’re competing, that might even include bodywork, chiropractic, acupuncture, laser therapy or other treatments for your horse. Of course, each of these therapies can be valuable in addressing problems or preventing future issues. But don’t forget to focus on your body as well. A skeletal misalignment may be the sticking point in your continued progress, and bringing your body back into balance might be the catalyst needed to improve your riding performance -- and help your horse do HIS job more easily.

3 Categories of Temporomandibular Joint Disorders

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The temporomandibular joint, or TMJ, is the joint on each side of the face that connects the mandible (lower jaw bone) with the rest of the skull.  These jaw joints are heavily utilized – they move every time we talk, yawn, or chew our food.  However, when one or both sides of the jaw are not functioning properly, it can lead to pain and discomfort while doing simple day to day activities.  While exact numbers are not known, it is estimated that over 10 million Americans are affected by disorders of the TMJ.

Disorders of the jaw can be placed into three main categories:

  1. Problems with the muscles that control jaw movement and function.
  2. Issues within the joint, such as with the disc or condyle of the jaw.
  3. Arthritis that causes degeneration, inflammation, or both within the TMJ

TMJ Problems Can Start in the Neck

Many people don't realize how close the joints of the jaw are on either side of the face to the uppermost vertebra in the spine (the atlas).  The way the head is able to sit on the neck has a large influence on both the resting position and the movement of the jaw.  The atlas can shift out of normal alignment as a result of an accident or injury, or from daily wear and tear.  When this happens, it can affect jaw alignment as well as compromise the nerves that control the function of the muscles of the jaw and face.

Correcting the root cause, in this case the atlas misalignment, can begin the healing process, which may lead to lasting relief from TMJ disorders.  Upper cervical chiropractic care focuses specifically on atlas alignment and how it relates to the body's overall ability to function normally.  Once we identify the problem, correcting the atlas is gentle and precise. Some patients even report an immediate improvement in their level of jaw discomfort.