Imagine you are standing in front of me and I told you to close your eyes. Then while your eyes are still closed I moved your arm in front of your body.
If I asked you where your arm is, do you think you would know?
Of course you would.
But how would you know this?
Well your muscles and joints are full of these special receptors that tell your brain where your body is positioned in space. They are literally the eyes within your body. They give you feedback on how you move, how fast you are moving and when you overstretch they will cause a reflex to engage muscles to prevent injury (this is what happens when you have your knee reflex tested).
These receptors are located all over the different regions of your body but there is one place they are way more dense than the rest of the body. That’s the spine and in particular the neck.
When your spine is in proper alignment these receptors only report movements and changes to the area (normal input).
When a joint is damaged, irritated or is out of it’s optimal position, these receptors are firing a barrage of signals to your brain telling it something is not right. This works in a feedback loop so your brain gets the message and has to come up with a response. The usual response to this is muscles tighten (spasm), reduced motion, and the end results can be pain.
This can not only lead to the symptoms above but it can lead to further degeneration due to increased spinal dysfunction. Even if the symptoms subside for a period of time you will be more at risk for re-aggravation.
We see this time and time again when someone comes in as a new chiropractic patient and they complain of back pain. They have had this multiple times in the past but “it went away on its own”, but “this time it’s not going away and I think I need to do something about it now”…
The bottom line is these dysfunctions that turn into full blown painful conditions are a result of repetitive strain breaking down the tissue further because there is poor communication between your body and brain.
As a chiropractor my goal is to identify these problem areas and improve the dysfunction and as a result reduce the pain. Dysfunction is corrected by restoring normal motion to joints, returning the normal alignment of the spine and decreasing the strain on degenerative tissues such as the disc.
I will leave you with a tell tale example that spinal dysfunction is present.
If you have knots around your shoulder blades and you have your partner try to work them out or you go for a massage but the last few times they don’t seem to be “worked out”, then it may not be a muscle problem. Think why are the muscles tightening up in the first place. Most likely in this scenario there is dysfunction in spine of the lower neck and as a result muscles attaching there are becoming irritated.