For the last few years, the healthcare community has begun formulating better assessments and care protocols for patients who have suffered mild traumatic brain injuries (MBTI) or more commonly known as concussions. This has been brought to the public light because of the movie “Concussion” which brings awareness to the struggles of post-concussion symptoms that have led to increase violence, depression, anxiety and even suicide in NFL players. This has also led to the awareness of being more cautious with young athletes who may have a higher risk for head injury because of a higher head to body weight ratio then adults. Children also have been shown to take longer to recover from concussions.
As stated above, “concussion” is the more common term for mild traumatic brain injury, a longer term but explains the injury much better. These injuries have mostly been talked about with involvement in sports (mostly football) but physical sports have been estimated to account for only around 25% of all concussions. Concussions more commonly occur in falls and motor vehicle accidents. Our brains don’t completely cover the whole space inside of our skulls for a couple of important reasons. One, our brains pump somewhat like our hearts do to push cerebrospinal fluid in and out of it so there needs to be space for it to expand slightly. Also, a little space gives the brain extra protection for when you hit your head so it doesn’t take the full force of the hit. In a concussion however, this extra space causes your brain to move from one side of your skull and then slam into the other side of your skull with a quick whiplash motion of your neck. This is why you do not need to necessarily be hit directly in the head to get a concussion.
Most patients who suffer concussions and head to the ER are first examined to see if they had a concussion using assessments to test concentration, focus and present time awareness. There are also physical examinations performed. MRI or CTs of the brain are most of the time indicated to make sure there is no bleeding or more severe injuries sustained to the brain. MBTIs don’t usually show up on MRIs or CTs so if the films are negative for more serious injuries the patient may be given medication for headaches and/or dizziness and then told to rest and avoid bright lights. They may be taken out of school or work for a few days and discontinue play from sport until dizziness and headaches have subsided. It’s important to note that while we as a society are getting better at catching concussions, some still go undiagnosed.
First off, chiropractors can be and are primary care providers for many patients around the country and are qualified to diagnose and manage concussions in patients. Management would primarily be deciding how long a patient should wait before returning to a sport and/or other restrictions in daily life until the patient is healed, and also if the case warrants further testing such as a CT, MRI, etc.
After determining that there is no serious complication that warrants immediate intervention, chiropractors can do their usual exams to determine if the spine needs to be adjusted as concurrent care for this patient. Because our heads are connected to our cervical spines, there is a great chance that if your head was hit you have sustained some spinal damages in the joints and ligaments that can become chronic issues if not dealt with appropriately. The chiropractor will adjust the specific offending joints and then give the body time for the ligaments to heal properly and get that athlete back on the field or for the weekend warrior to get back to working 8 hour days without blinding headaches in the office cubicle.
Chiropractic is a conservative option for the management of concussions and getting back to feeling and functioning like normal. If you or a loved one think that you may have suffered a concussion, get in to get checked out as soon as possible to reduce the risk of further injury and complications.
Some people love the sound. Some hate it. Some think that it is the only indication that an adjustment was successful, while some think that you may have broken something when they hear it. I’m talking about the audible “pop” your joints make most of the time that a chiropractic adjustment is made. This noise, and thoughts on it may be one of the factors in chiropractic that causes the most misunderstanding in our profession and I hope I can clear some of it up for you guys in this blog.
The popping noise that your joint makes after an adjustment is not any bones popping or ligaments snapping back in place. Older evidence suggested that this noise was pressure inside the joint being quickly reduced and releasing gas bubbles that were formed inside the joint. Newer evidence shows that instead of gas bubbles being released, vapor cavities (or bubbles) are being formed with the release of pressure inside the joint that is being manipulated. This is what the “pop” noise is whether it is you self-manipulating your joints, or it is adjusted by a chiropractor, physical therapist or osteopath.
Not necessarily. While a nice, deep sounding “clunk” is a good indication of a great adjustment, it is not necessary for correction in your care or is it something to expect with each segment on each visit. Some chiropractors use techniques that don’t produce cavitation’s at all yet patients get positive results. Some segments, especially on older patients, have so much degeneration and damage that they may never get the loud explosive cavitation’s that healthier joints in younger patients get. Lastly, clinically we’ve found that the louder the cavitation correlates with the speed of the adjustment. For patients who desire a little more TLC in their care and prefer less speed or force, cavitations won’t be very loud or always noticeable. Here at Stout Chiropractic we do manual, high velocity, low amplitude thrusts but we focus on the MOVEMENT of the joint rather than focusing on the animation of “cracking your whole spine like a glow stick”.
I get asked all of the time about self-manipulating necks, backs, knuckles, hips and knees. Most of the time, you will not hurt yourself. This becomes more apparent after reading above and learning about what causes the audible and why it feels good. The problem with it however, is how you may go about self-manipulating. If you can put your neck through normal ranges of motion and it makes an audible, great! If you have to take your head a little past normal ranges of motion, I would say limit that. If you have to take your hand and twist your head further then I would highly recommend you stop that.
There are a couple of reasons you should avoid this. First, the joints that are making audibles are more than likely more mobile and compensating for other areas in your body that have limited motion. You’re just releasing some pressure in those joints which will come right back any ways which is why if you do this, you do it every day or multiple times a day. Second and more importantly, when you twist your neck or put any of your body parts in unnatural ranges, you are potentially putting other parts of anatomy in danger such as ligaments and blood vessels.
Chiropractors spend many hours of education on anatomy and kinesiology and spend many more hours in school learning how to safely give adjustments to areas that need them. If the popping is all you want, then I’m sure you can watch a video on YouTube and have a friend give you a bear hug or pull your neck with a towel (but please don’t do that).
At Stout Chiropractic, we aren’t in the business of making “pop” noises. We are in the business of getting peoples’ bodies functioning properly through Chiropractic adjustments which most of the time produces the cavitation or the famous “popping” noise that chiropractors are mostly known for. I hope this blog cleared up this mysterious noise for you, but if you have any further questions feel free to leave a comment, shoot us a message on Facebook or even ask us in the office. If you’re reading this and don’t have a chiropractor yet, comment or message us for a recommendation in your area.
Now that the cold weather is finally beginning to disappear and the snow is ceasing to exist, all of the wanderlust creatures can rejoice in more intensive travel! Travel on its own is a very healthy practice for the mind, body and soul, but there are a couple tips that I want to share with you all to make sure that no part of your health takes a hit while it is not on the forefront of your mind.
Whether travelling by plane or car, I advise at the very least to stand up and move around every 45 minutes to an hour. This may not be the most convenient thing if you are driving somewhere 10 hours away but your low back and legs will thank you. Our bodies were not meant to sit down for long periods of time like we do in modern times. I’m sure by now you have heard that sitting is the new smoking. Sitting is robbing your vertebral discs of the pumping motion that nourishes them from walking, flattens your lumbar spine from its normal forward (lordotic) curve, and may be putting uneven pressure on your sacroiliac joints depending on how you’re sitting.
We all know what kind of food you can find right off of the highway while on a road trip or even as snacks on an airplane for that matter. They are usually full of simple sugars and Trans saturated fats. Both of these should be limited, and traveling should ideally not be an excuse to get away from your health and fitness goals. More complex sugars like fruits are more appropriate along with healthy fats in nuts, cheese and if you really want to get fancy you can make your own beef jerky from some clean organic local sourced meat. Keeping water in stock is also very important to quench your thirst rather than turning to sugary drinks such as soda or juice from the gas station. The possibilities are endless, but the point is to not get away from giving your body the proper fuel just because it may feel like it’s more convenient.
Some people may be fine listening to only music for an extended car or plane trip, and that is perfectly OK. This part is for people like me, who need to switch it up every once in a while for their mental health during these long trips. There is never too much information that you can learn in a lifetime, so what better way to pass a long monotonous road trip than learning on the go? In planning for a trip, it is a good idea to plan out a playlist of music to enjoy and then audiobooks and podcasts as breaks from the music. This is healthy food for the mind. Just remember to keep it interesting and things you are passionate about to keep from falling asleep if you are the one driving.
Traveling is a very healthy and exciting part of life for a lot of people. Following the above tips can make sure that you are not taking any missteps that can lead to bad habits or even worse knock you off of your routine to achieve your health and wellness goals. Before your trips, make sure to get in here at Stout Chiropractic to get your spine checked and so we can recommend chiropractors in whichever area you are headed.