Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Square Wheels Versus Round Wheels

What Shape Wheels Do You Want?

Square Wheels

Round Wheels


The above question would seem obvious to most of us because we realize that round wheels are more efficient and faster than square ones.  There is a saying that STRUCTURE DICTATES FUNCTION and this is very obvious for the bike wheel.

The human body has many examples of this as well.  From the design of our cells to the shape of our joints; structure dictates function.  When it comes to the spine, it has an optimum shape that allows it to be strong yet flexible.  

The vertebra (individual bones) of the spine protect the central nervous system, and because the spinal column is moveable, it is susceptible to the various stresses and forces of life. This can cause it to lose its proper structural position. We realize that not many people have absolute 100% perfect alignment.  However, no different than normal blood pressure, normal body temperature, and normal weight, there is a range of what is acceptable and what's unacceptable. If your structure shifts outside of what is considered normal, also known as "Vertebral Subluxation," then your body's function decreases leading to a secondary condition or symptom.  These abnormal shifts or deviations in the spine can be present without you even being aware that they exist. Just like a cavity begins in a tooth, you don't initially feel the decay until it is bad enough to cause pain.

Throughout our lives, we engage in many activities that challenge the integrity of our spines; long periods of sitting, computer work, texting, and basically being bent forward are probably some of the most common reasons people develop spinal shifts that lead to a secondary condition (symptom).  This is when they end up in my office. Most of these patients present with Anterior Head Syndrome. This is a condition where the head has a shifted forward beyond its center of balance. A shift in this structure creates a continuous strain on the muscles, tendons, ligaments, and discs primarily in the upper back , but also down into the mid and lower back region as well. This stress will result in symptoms such as headaches, neck and or back pain, numbness or tingling, muscle spasms, shoulder pain, TMJ pain, and pinched nerves just to name a few.  

You see any force that the human body cannot adapt to causes a shift in the structure of the spine.  The human head weighs 10-12 lbs on average.  For every inch the head shifts forward from its normal position, it weighs an additional 10lbs. That means it actually gains weight! It's not uncommon for me  to see someone with their head two inches in front of their shoulders.  At this point their heads weighs ~30 lbs!! Do you think this could cause some muscle spasms, head aches, pinched nerves, etc...?  (answer... YES!) 

So having an abnormal structural condition, like Anterior Head Syndrome, will not only lead to the muscles, tendons, and ligaments being chronically overworked, but you will also have decreased strength and efficiency and a higher chance of injury.  Just like the square bike tires YOU become very inefficient and break down.

How Do You Fix This?

For the sake of this blog, I have simplified the an example of a structural shift within your cervical (neck) region.  In reality, there are numerous configurations that the spine can abnormally shift into.  In the cervical spine there are at least 16 major abnormal possibilities from the side view alone!  This is why general solutions do not work for everyone.  Not everyone can just exercise their head back to normal or just practice "standing up straighter" to fix their structural problem.  Traditionally chiropractors concentrate on pain reduction and improved ranges of motion.  This is a great service for those who want just that.  I look at the reason why the pain and immobility started in the first place.  If its due to abnormal structure, then I know there is going to be abnormal function and therefore the structure needs to be addressed. Without this type of care, you may get rid of your symptoms but your structure will remain a square wheel.

If you have chronic issues with pain, mobility, or some other function of your body, give us a call for a consultation.  It might be a structural issue that was never addressed.

Thanks for reading, Have a great day!

Dr. Deane


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