Chiropractic Care and Pain Relief

Pain is a common experience for us all. And although it may sound odd, it’s a good thing we have the sensation of pain. Pain is a warning signal that our nervous system uses to keep us safe. Were it not for pain we would put our bodies in danger on a daily basis, causing damage, disability, and potentially death.

Generally speaking, pain is produced when the body is exposed to a stimulus that it finds distressing. Often the stimulus is a physical injury where tissues are damaged. Nerve endings then relay this information up to the brain. Both the type of information relayed, and how the brain interprets it, determines the kind of pain you feel.

Along the path to the brain the information goes through a couple of checkpoints. The first is in the spinal cord, at the level where the nerves enter. The second spot is travelling up and through the brainstem.

Both the spinal cord and brainstem have been shown to affect the information that passes through – meaning that they can increase, or decrease the amount of pain you feel. This process is called central sensitization – where the central nervous system, composed of the spinal cord, brainstem, and brain, becomes more sensitive to pain. As sensitivity to tissue changes increases, the amount of stimulus needed to cause a pain response decreases – meaning it can take less and less input to produce a greater and greater pain response. This is how chronic pain can start to take hold.

Chiropractic adjustments, also known as spinal manipulative therapy (SMT) have long been used to help reduce pain, and improve function. New research is uncovering the possible mechanisms in how SMT does this.

A recent review (1) of the literature on pain and SMT studies suggests that SMT can alter the threshold for pain sensitivity in both the spinal cord, as well as in higher nervous system structures including the brain stem.

Research has already shown that SMT causes a local release of endorphins – chemicals that decrease pain. SMT also helps to improve joint mobility, and decreased muscle tension. This new research adds to beneficial role that SMT can play in improving how you feel and how you function.

If you’re in Guelph, and would like more information on how SMT and chiropractic care may help you, please contact us – we’re always happy to chat.

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