Spinal alignment isn’t something that crosses most people’s minds when they begin to suffer from unpleasant symptoms. However, it is actually at the root cause of many different health issues and conditions.
The spine is a column of bones, called vertebrae, that extends from the base of the skull down into the pelvis. It serves several purposes, one of which is giving our upper body stability and support. The spine also houses the spinal cord. The spinal cord is one of the main elements of our central nervous system, containing the network of nerves through which messages travel that control all of our body functions, from our heart rate and breathing to our ability to speak, walk and run.
The health of our body relies largely on the spine being perfectly aligned. When it isn’t, the bones or the small, gel-filled discs between them called intervertebral discs can slip out of place. This can cause problems with the spine itself as well as irritating the surrounding nerves and other structures. The impact on the body of a misaligned spine can be far-reaching, causing a wide range of symptoms, some of which are painful and debilitating.
Back pain. Unsurprisingly, back pain is one of the most common symptoms that your spine may be out of alignment. This can range between being mild and fluctuating to severe and chronic and may even affect your ability to move around. You may also experience sciatica, which is pain that extends from the back, down through the buttocks and into the legs.
Neck pain. Like back pain, this can range in severity and come and go or be consistent.
Joint pain. This could affect the knees, elbows, and hips and make mobility difficult. You may also find moving around generally trickier and painful.
Numbness/tingling in the hands or feet. This can feel like pins and needles and be quite painful. It can also cause weakness that makes using them difficult.
Excessive fatigue. Constant strain and the nervous system not functioning as it should mean that the body needs to work harder than usual. This can cause patients to experience unusual levels of fatigue.
Frequent illness. The nervous system is also responsible for immune function, and if your spine is out of alignment and your nervous system isn’t working correctly, it can affect your ability to fight off illness as your immune function may be compromised. This means that you could seem to pick up every virus and disease going around.
Chiropractors specialize in the diagnosis, treatment, and management of conditions that affect or are caused by the musculoskeletal system, which of course includes the spine, as well as the muscles, tendons, and other connective tissues in the body. Their training and experience make them the ideal practitioner for treating misalignment problems.
In most instances, chiropractors can easily spot a spinal misalignment simply by assessing your posture. This is because misalignments, also called subluxations, usually cause one leg to look shorter than the other, one hip to appear higher than the other, and patients may also look like they are leaning more heavily on one side. Other diagnostic techniques include feeling your spine (palpation), asking you to perform strength tests, and in some cases, requesting x-rays of your spine to confirm the diagnosis.
Once the misalignment has been confirmed, your chiropractor will then use a number of treatment techniques to correct the subluxation. The most common technique is known as spinal manipulation or adjustment and involves your chiropractor manually using their hands to perform short, thrusting movements to bring the spine back into alignment. Other techniques that may be beneficial include massage and heat/cold application to reduce swelling and inflammation. Once the spine is back in alignment, blood flow will be fully restored, helping to naturally relieve pain, accelerate any healing that needs to take place, and enable patients to have their quality of life restored.
For more information about the signs and symptoms of spine misalignment, please contact our experienced and dedicated Utah Health Center today.