When I received my first chiropractic adjustment as a teenager for generalized neck pain, I felt immediate relief. My understanding of what had just transpired however, was limited purely to the mechanical movements applied to my musculoskeletal system. I thought I had just gotten put “back into alignment”, and that was why I felt better. While this is a major component of an adjustment, I have learned that there is more to it than that. The adjustment is such a powerful tool, because what we do as chiropractors influences the nervous system and ultimately your brain!
It goes without saying, that it all starts in your head. Your reality is dictated by the function and processes of your brain. This is especially true with how your brain recognizes and interprets pain. Previous research has shown that patients who suffer from chronic pain conditions such as trigeminal neuralgia, chronic low back pain, fibromyalgia, etc. can manifest physical changes within the gray matter of their brain, affecting total brain volume and causing upregulation of pain perception pathways. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26542234()
More recent research has shown that patients who suffer from the much more common myofascial pain syndrome as characterized by the presence of myofascial trigger points (MTrPs) suffer similar changes to their gray matter. Myofascial trigger points are the proverbial “knots” that show up in your muscles, that almost everyone suffers through at some point in their life. It becomes chronic with bad posture, repetitive use injuries, and other every day injuries and insults. It can be loosely described as a “micro-cramp”, where a small section of a muscle will choke off its blood supply, leading to inflammation, irritation, and pain.
In a 2016 article, Xie et al were able to definitively show that these micostructural brain abnormalities were occurring in patients suffering from MTrPs is the case by employing an advanced imaging technique known as Diffusion Kurtosis Imaging (DKI)- a type of MRI with digital data recording to allow for extensive post-processing and quantification of any detected lesions to allow microtraumas in the brain to be studied. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28066193 Their research found that statistically significant changes were found in a number of regions of the brain including the right thalamus, anterior cingulate cortex, posterior cingulate cortex, superior and inferior frontal gyrus, middle temporal gyrus, and left parahippocampal gyrus in patients with MTrPs.
Chiropractic adjustments have been proven to be effective treatments of MTrPs. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19121461) This is due to the adjustments ability to cause a decrease in sympathetic/muscle tone by activating GTO’s in muscles to cause inhibition to ventral horn cells, as well as by affecting the vestibular nucleus. Therefore, the ability to treat this condition can prevent and heal these microstructural abnormalities from occurring in the CNS of patients who suffer from chronic pain from MTrPs. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20036180
At Accelerate Health, we take a multiple therapeutic approach to treating MTrPs and myofascial pain syndrome, all of which have proven evidence based therapeutic benefits- including Chiropractic Adjustments, Active Release Techniques, Graston and Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization, and Dry Needling. We'll get you out of pain and back to doing the things you love, and we’ll save your brain in the process.