A lot of my practice exists off the referrals of my patients and clients. So many people frequently go years after an accident, injury or surgery, or just years of some ache/pain/other symptom coming and going and while they may see many practitioners, it just never seems to really go away. I’m frequently the last stop, getting rid of that pain or limitation. However, it often starts with a mixture of “Go to this guy, he’ll get that worked out quick!” And then staggered attempts to describe what I do. I may pinch and pull at scars in certain ways, I’ll tap bones here and there, hold a muscle for a minute or two, and a range of other seemingly random things and somehow the pains just drop away. It’s often hard for even health practitioners to describe to other people what I do, because honestly at first glance (and probably second and third) it’s complicated on top of being new in many ways to most people (again, medical practitioners typically included).

The work I do is in the realm of functional neurology, used for physical rehabilitation (as opposed to most functional neurology DC’s who use their skill sets to help brain health). This side of medicine and science is among the most rapidly developing, but also one of the least practiced in the medical community so isn’t widely known. By physically moving scar tissue, tapping areas of the body, or the range of other ‘weird’ looking techniques I employ, we are able to send signals to the brain and get signals back that let us track down what’s going on. Then by putting the right sequence of stimuli into the brain (via at home corrective work, aka ‘homework’) we can make permanent changes that give us dramatic improvements in pain, discomfort, range of motion, and a wide range of potential issues.

Anyone who I work with gets a bit over loaded with explanations and discussions of how the brain and body works and how their pain/issue likely happened in the first place, among a lot of related topics (If someone hasn’t pointed it out to you yet, I talk a lot! But an informed patient is a far more successful and healthy patient). Despite that, however, I’d like to give you a very short (for me) and distilled explanation of how this all works.

After millions of years of human/pre-human existence, the brain has become exceptionally good at perceiving different kinds of threats and learning how to avoid them. In nature, the two things most likely to get you (among others) are starving, and simple accidents/physical injuries. When the calories and nutrients you take in start to dip (like traditional caloric restriction diets) the body responds by slowing down the metabolism in a myriad of ways to protect itself from running out of stored fat and starving. This is why straight out caloric restriction backfires horrendously in the long run.

When it comes to accidents and injuries, for our human ancestors who lived in the natural world (no cable TV or lattes’, or well, you know, medicine, hospitals and doctors) falling and breaking your hip or leg, or getting a concussion in could be lethal. If you can’t move to avoid predators, get food and water and avoid excessive exposure, you die, simple as that. Unsurprisingly the brain takes injuries and near-injuries (you don’t have to actually damage yourself to have some significant long term repercussions) very seriously. So whether you’ve actually torn a muscle, cut yourself, broken a bone, or been concussed, OR you just took a hard blow, or have a previous injury, the brain and therefore the body react petty similarly; it seeks to protect the body from making the injury worse or getting injured again.

Your body mostly (some situations and some locations in the body differ) chooses to compress joints and limit range of motion in them to protect itself. This is achieved by turning up the activity and ‘tone’ of muscles that compress, and turning down muscles that would decompress. This immediately can cause discomfort or pain as muscles are forced to over work or are stuck in tightened ‘off’ positions, not to mention the potential grinding of the joint (one of the main causes of arthritis), and it just gets worse over time and often with use or exercise. This altered joint position and how the joint now moves because of this change in how it’s being used then often causes a snowball of changes throughout the body. For example if the upper neck is out of place, the whole spine and the shoulders will then have to move differently. If the hips are out of place, the knees, and ankles will definitely have to change in certain ways too. These changes then lead to further changes, etc. etc.

This may not seem like it makes much sense, but for our human ancestors who were most threatened by accidents and similar physical injuries, and who if they were extremely lucky still didn’t get past about 40 years old, these changes were for the best. But today if you’re wanting to rock climb and surf into your 80′s, let alone just avoid arthritis and joint replacements, it gets pretty problematic! The list of what this leads to is enormous, but often may include joint pain (back, hip, knee, shoulder, etc.), stiffness and poor mobility, chronic headaches or heartburn, TMJ, urinary or fecal constipation/incontinence, hernias, numbness and tingling in the extremities, along a long range of other issues. Most people have some of these, and may just think it’s normal, but they can almost always be fixed.

So what do we do about it? The simple but straight forward answer is that we use techniques to find out what impact injuries, scars, and other sources of ‘threatening’ traumas the brain is neurologically reacting to by changing joint position and tissue function and then with some corrective ‘homework’ we are able to show the brain that these previous incidents aren’t actually threatening and can be ignored. We que them by tapping areas or messing with scars, rubbing muscles and doing light exercises in just the right sequence. We clear off one or a few of these issues at a time until they’re gone, and then the brain and body is able to operate pretty close to ‘factory settings,’ no longer driving in long term damage and wear on the joints, poor movement and mobility, and existing in a state of pain. Once the brain doesn’t feel threatened by previous events, it simply doesn’t need to operate differently and can get back to more optimum, ideal posture and movement.

In some cases we may include some manual therapy (various kinds of massage) or movement therapy, but overall the process is pretty quick. I see most people a total of 3-5 times (some more complicated cases take longer), about once a month until we are finished permanently.

Filed under: Blog

Like this post? Subscribe to my RSS feed and get loads more!