Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Are muscles the secret cause of pain?

I received an email this morning from a patient who requested a free health report on the secret cause of pain and how to get rid of it. He forwarded it to me and asked for my thoughts on the subject matter. In answering his email, it gave me the thought that he is probably just one of many people looking for any possible answer to fix problems we experience. After thinking about it for a few minutes, it occured to me that sometimes we get so wrapped up in our problems and looking under every stone for some answer that we forget to just take a step back and look at how the body works and what health really is and then approach our problems. Pardon the cliche but we tend to not see the forest for all the trees. This has motivated me to write a brief reminder of what health really is and then we can go from there. Some of the information will put the cart before the horse in my explanation of chiropractic, but I don't see why repeating important points will cause anyone harm.

Another reason for this entry has to do with those people I hear say there problem is only muscular. I won't get into the explanation here, but have patience my young grasshopper and we shall get there. The health report focused on muscle imbalance and all the negative things that muscle imbalance causes and it also listed 4 popular chronic degenerative problems in the body and very loosely tied them to muscles. What I will do is combine why it's not just "muscular" and what health is.

So here we go....

Our body's health is directly proportional to how well it is functioning. Notice I said functioning and not feeling; we will address that point later, so tuck it in your pocket and hang onto it. The article talked about how exercising muscles that weren't working properly or "out of shape" would fix all your worries with back pain. First, let me make it clear that I am saying exercising does nothing for you. Exercising is good. My disagreement why muscles are the secret cause of pain are as follows. If your body is functioning well, then all is happy. However, If an area of the body loses its ability to function normally, then it begins to break down and leads to sickness or dysfunction.

Muscles by themselves do nothing. They sit and wait until a message from the nervous system tells them to contract and then relax when the nervous system tells them to stop. Muscles are also dependent upon the joints they are connected to in their ability to function. Muscle imbalance or poor performance is more like a symptom of either bad/wrong messages carried through the nervous system or bad joint mechanics (the way the joint moves). The exception to this is a traumatic event, which damages the muscles and the joints they are attached to. However, the report is focusing on problems of the chronic nature which is what most people suffer from.

Another important point is that symptoms, such as pain, numbness, allergies, etc., are only signals to us that there is a loss of function somewhere in the body. Hopefully at this point we can all agree that tissues cannot become sick or diseased if they are functioning at 100%. These signals are given once a threshhold is crossed and your body knows it is losing its ability to compensate. In fact, research has shown that your body can lose 60% of normal function before the line is crossed and gives you the first symptom. This means you can be walking around at 45-50% functioning and never even know it. Clearly a heart functioning at 50% capacity is not nearly as healthy as one functioning close to 100%.

I hear people all the time say they "feel fine" or never had any problems before or think because there is an absense of symptoms then they are healthy. This is a fatal error in judgement because we know the body just isn't set up to give you symptoms the second you do something bad to it. If it did, most of us would never be able to get out of bed because the day before we either had a lot of emotional stress, or ate unhealthy, processed foods, or banged our knee on the ground when we fell. Living your life according to how you feel is very dangerous and will leave you in the nursing home on 15 different medications to the tune of $700 per month if you're lucky to even live that long.

So can exercising muscles help get you out of pain? Absolutely because exercising is a part of the healthy lifestyle which can elevate the functioning of the body. If you get it evelated above that line, then your body quits giving you signals that it's not happy. Is the muscle exercised the cause of the pain? I find it hard to believe in a chronic condition because of the previous two points mentioned. You can exercise a muscle all day long and if it's not connected to properly working joints and/or getting bad/wrong messages through the nervous system, then it will always break down at some point. You must get joints moving correctly, clear messages, and muscles loose for the most effective results.

Remember the key is restoring normal function to the body so it can take care of itself the way it was designed to do. Your nervous system is the master system in the body and has the biggest piece in the pie of normal function. If you and/or your children are not being checked regularly, you are robbing yourself and them of reaching a maximum health potential. It's like filling your car with oil when it's first built and never changing it or checking it. You know eventually the car will break down; it's just a matter of when not if.

I hope I have put another wrinkle in your brain. Have a very merry Christmas!

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