It is well known that many complaints seen by Chiropractors are caused from physical stresses in our lives. The most common complaints people seek chiropractic care for include conditions such as lower back pain, neck pain and headaches.
Our lives are notoriously repetitive; the average office worker will drive to work, sit at their desk for 8 hours, drive home and sit on the sofa. Furthermore we habitually sit on the same chair, sleep in the same bed and generally have the same daily routine, so it is easy to understand how we can run into trouble and need help from a chiropractor.
In addition, many of us are a lot less active than we should be.
A study funded by the Economic and Social Research Council used the government’s Active People Surveys (dating back to 2006) which examined physical activity across England’s local authorities. This was then measured against factors such as income and ethnicity.
The study found that nearly 80% of the population fail to hit key national government targets such as performing moderate exercise for 30 minutes at least 12 times a month.
The study found that just over 8% of adults who could walk, had not (with the exception of shopping) walked continuously for five minutes within the previous four weeks. The study also revealed 46% had not walked 30 minutes for leisure in the same time frame, almost 9 out of 10 had not been swimming, and a similar proportion had not used a gym.
Whilst we can understand that a lack of activity and repetitive lifestyles can be a cause of spinal complaints, it is interesting to know that the 2nd most common cause of sick leave is stress, and the 3rd conditions such as lower back pain (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, 2017).
Emotional stress and physical discomfort are uniquely entwined. If you think about how you hold yourself when you are stressed and anxious – Shoulders hitched up, body rounds forward and breathing changes, it becomes easy to understand how emotional stress is just as likely to cause physical discomfort as a physical stress.
The spine and posture are important factors in the ability of the body to cope with stress, and a healthy spine and nervous system can help to manage stress more effectively.
Everyone experiences stress on a daily basis due to the modern world in which we live and the increase in demand for our time and attention. Stress, in its negative sense, can be defined as an imbalance of a bodily system(s) due to excessive stimulus that upset normal functioning and disturbs mental or physical health.
The most common symptoms of stress include headache, backache, and fatigue, as well as cardiovascular disorders (high blood pressure), digestive problems and sleeping difficulties.
But where does chiropractic come into this?
A chiropractors’ role is to assess the spine for normal movement between each vertebra. A healthy spine should have a good amount of movement between each joint. It should move, spring and function as a shock-absorbing structure.
The more we stress our spine, the more we start to lose that shock absorbing function. In turn, the movement in the joint reduces and it starts to stiffen up. The problem is that these changes don’t necessarily cause pain or symptoms. However, there will often become a point, where one day our bodies can’t handle the stress anymore and ‘suddenly’ we’re in pain.
People often say things like “I just picked up a pen” or “I turned awkwardly;” these events are essentially the straw breaking the camel’s back. The body can’t handle the stress anymore and pain is your body’s mechanism to slow you down and stop further damage.
Once a chiropractor finds the levels in the spine where the joints aren’t moving properly, they can perform a chiropractic adjustment. These are highly skilled techniques designed to restore the normal movements to the spine. These adjustments may also encourage important changes to the nervous system that may explain other noticed improvements in addition to reduced pain.
Many of us are encouraged to just “deal with it”, and people will often ignore pain and symptoms for months, if not years, before they seek help.
Although this distinctly British attitude has been around for generations, it is becoming less helpful in an aging population where we live in our bodies for a lot longer than we did 100 years ago. Many of us would simply like to feel more comfortable as we age.
There have been several studies that look at the long-term consequence of not seeking chiropractic care. The easiest way to research this is to compare patients who have been under chiropractic care for years, compared to those who haven’t.
Research carried out in the US by the RAND Corporation in 1996 looked at 414 people over the age of 75, 23 (just under 6%) of whom reported receiving chiropractic care. The analysis of the 414 – taken randomly from an insurance database – found some startling but consistent results.
Those receiving chiropractic care were less likely to be using a nursing home (95.7% free of nursing care v 80.8%); free from hospitalisations for the previous 23 years (73.9% v 52.4%) and more likely to be mobile in the community (69.6% v 46.8%). They were also less likely to use costly prescription drugs.
The report concluded: “Although it is impossible to clearly establish causality, it is clear that continuing chiropractic care is among the attributes of the cohort of patients experiencing substantially fewer costly healthcare interventions.”
Further research in 2007 showed regular chiropractic care resulted in a decrease of 60.2% in hospital admissions, 59.0% less hospital days, 62.0% less surgeries and 85% less pharmaceuticals (Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics (JMPT) 2007 Vol 30 Issue 4: Clinical Utilization and Cost Outcomes from an Integrative Medicine Independent Physician Association.)
So what can you do to help yourself?
Firstly, simply having a consultation with a chiropractor will enable them to tell you how healthy your spine is, and may provide answers and a solution to your presenting complaint.
Secondly, move more. Becoming slightly more active than you currently are will help reduce both physical and emotional stress, helping you to deal with it more effectively.
If you would like to book an appointment, we can normally find a suitable time within 24 hours, or if you would like to discuss this further, please call 01752 770131
Call: 01752 770131152 Mannamead Road, Plymouth, PL3 5QL
Open Monday – Friday 8am to 12pm & 3pm to 7pm