From treating neck and back pain, to utilizing the latest technology and practices for adjustments and physical therapy rehabilitation, Spencer Chiro & PT can help you with what you need.
Our neck, also called the cervical spine, begins at the base of the skull and contains seven small vertebrae. Incredibly, the cervical spine supports the full weight of your head, which is on average about 12 pounds. While the cervical spine can move your head in nearly every direction, this flexibility makes the neck very susceptible to pain and injury.
The neck’s susceptibility to injury is due in part to biomechanics. Activities and events that affect cervical biomechanics include extended sitting, repetitive movement, accidents, falls and blows to the body or head, normal aging, and everyday wear and tear. Neck pain can be very bothersome, and it can have a variety of causes.
Here are some of the most typical causes of neck pain:
Injury and Accidents: A sudden forced movement of the head or neck in any direction and the resulting “rebound” in the opposite direction is known as whiplash. The sudden “whipping” motion injures the surrounding and supporting tissues of the neck and head. Muscles react by tightening and contracting, creating muscle fatigue, which can result in pain and stiffness. Severe whiplash can also be associated with injury to the intervertebral joints, discs, ligaments, muscles, and nerve roots. Car accidents are the most common cause of whiplash.
Growing Older: Degenerative disorders such as osteoarthritis, spinal stenosis, and degenerative disc disease directly affect the spine.
Osteoarthritis, a common joint disorder, causes progressive deterioration of cartilage. The body reacts by forming bone spurs that affect joint motion.
Spinal stenosis causes the small nerve passageways in the vertebrae to narrow, compressing and trapping nerve roots. Stenosis may cause neck, shoulder, and arm pain, as well as numbness, when these nerves are unable to function normally.
Degenerative disc disease can cause reduction in the elasticity and height of intervertebral discs. Over time, a disc may bulge or herniate, causing tingling, numbness, and pain that runs into the arm.
Daily Life: Poor posture, obesity, and weak abdominal muscles often disrupt spinal balance, causing the neck to bend forward to compensate. Stress and emotional tension can cause muscles to tighten and contract, resulting in pain and stiffness. Postural stress can contribute to chronic neck pain with symptoms extending into the upper back and the arms.
Chiropractic Care of Neck Pain
During your visit, Dr. Spencer/Dr. Barszcz will perform exams to locate the source of your pain and will ask you questions about your current symptoms and remedies you may have already tried. For example:
- When did the pain start?
- What have you done for your neck pain?
- Does the pain radiate or travel to other parts of your body?
- Does anything reduce the pain or make it worse?
Your doctor will also do physical and neurological exams. In the physical exam, your doctor will observe your posture, range of motion, and physical condition, noting movement that causes pain. Your doctor will feel your spine, note its curvature and alignment, and feel for muscle spasm. A check of your shoulder area is also in order. During the neurological exam, your doctor will test your reflexes, muscle strength, other nerve changes, and pain spread.
In some instances, your chiropractor might order tests to help diagnose your condition. An x-ray can show narrowed disc space, fractures, bone spurs, or arthritis. A computerized axial tomography scan (a CT or CAT scan) or a magnetic resonance imaging test (an MRI) can show bulging discs and herniations. If nerve damage is suspected, your doctor may order a special test called electromyography (an EMG) to measure how quickly your nerves respond.
We are conservative care doctors; their scope of practice does not include the use of drugs or surgery. If your chiropractor diagnoses a condition outside of this conservative scope, such as a neck fracture or an indication of an organic disease, he or she will refer you to the appropriate medical physician or specialist. He or she may also ask for permission to inform your family physician of the care you are receiving to ensure that your chiropractic care and medical care are properly coordinated.
A neck adjustment (also known as cervical manipulation) is a precise procedure applied to the joints of the neck, usually by hand. A neck adjustment works to improve the mobility of the spine and to restore range of motion; it can also increase movement of the adjoining muscles. Patients typically notice an improved ability to turn and tilt the head, and a reduction of pain, soreness, and stiffness.
Of course, your chiropractor will develop a program of care that may combine more than one type of treatment, depending on your personal needs. In addition to manipulation, the treatment plan may include mobilization, massage or rehabilitative exercises, or something else.
What Research Shows
One of the most recent reviews of scientific literature found evidence that patients with chronic neck pain enrolled in clinical trials reported significant improvement following chiropractic spinal manipulation. As part of the literature review, published in the March/April 2007 issue of the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, the researchers reviewed nine previously published trials and found “high-quality evidence” that patients with chronic neck pain showed significant pain-level improvements following spinal manipulation. No trial group was reported as having remained unchanged, and all groups showed positive changes up to 12 weeks post-treatment.
Back pain is a fact of life for many people. Research shows that up to 80% of the population will experience back pain at some point during their lives. It is also the second most common reason for visits to the doctor’s office, outnumbered only by upper-respiratory infections.
Sometimes back pain is sharp and intense, caused by a wrong move or an injury, and heals in a few days or weeks. Others experience back pain as a chronic condition, seriously altering their ability to work and enjoy time with family, friends and other leisure activities—leading to depression in some cases. A recent global survey of health conditions identified back pain as the single most disabling condition worldwide.
Moreover, as lifestyles have become more sedentary and the rate of obesity has risen, back pain has become increasingly prevalent, even among young children.
Spinal health is an important factor in preventing back pain, as well as maintaining overall health and well-being. The American Chiropractic Association (ACA) encourages people to take steps to improve their spinal health and avoid injury.
Things such as better nutrition, exercise, ergonomic workspaces and proper lifting and movement techniques can go a long way in helping people to strengthen their spines and potentially avoid serious injury and chronic pain. When back pain hits, research shows that a conservative approach to treatment is the best option.
Conservative Treatment Options Supported by Research
Treatment for back pain has come a long way. It was once believed that taking pain medication and getting some rest and relaxation were the best course of treatment for a bout of low-back pain, but nowadays research supports first trying drug-free, conservative options for pain management while remaining as active as possible during recuperation.
The epidemic of prescription opioid overuse and abuse has also led many health groups to reconsider the value of a conservative approach to common conditions such as back pain. For example, the American College of Physicians (ACP), the largest medical-specialty society in the world, updated its back-pain treatment guidelines to support a conservative approach to care.
In March 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released updated guidelines for prescribing opioids that also promote the use of non-pharmacologic alternatives for the treatment of chronic pain. In 2015, the Joint Commission, the organization that accredits more than 20,000 health care systems in the U.S. (including every major hospital), recognized the value of non-drug approaches to pain management by adding chiropractic and acupuncture to its pain management standard.
Beyond the risks of overuse and addiction, prescription drugs that numb pain may also convince a patient that a musculoskeletal condition such as back pain is less severe than it is, or that it has healed. That misunderstanding can lead to over-exertion and a delay in the healing process or even to permanent injury.
With the steep costs associated with prescription drugs, chiropractic’s conservative approach makes economic sense as well. A 2012 study found that spinal manipulation for neck and back pain was cost-effective used either alone or combined with other therapies first.
Another study based on Washington state workers found that 42.7 percent of people who visited a surgeon first for work-related back pain eventually had surgery, compared to only 1.5 percent of those who visited a chiropractor first.
Having been athletes their entire lives, Dr. Spencer and Dr. Barszcz understand each injured patient is eager to return to their sport as soon as possible. His treatment approach strikes the ideal balance between this desire and the recuperation period necessary to ensure injured athletes heal fully before they resume training and competing.
You will not find a doctor more willing to help you train through your injuries. Dr. Spencer/Dr. Barszcz will work with you to determine an appropriate goal, or “set date,” to return to action. Athletic patients ranging from local age group competitors to international pros have come to trust Spencer Chiropractic’s honest feedback and expertise throughout the recovery process. Common Sports Injuries:
Strains and Sprains
These are the most common injury in sports and may occur anywhere on the body. A sprain is caused by ligaments tearing or over stretching. This injury is either a light sprain or a torn or severed ligament. Sprains are most common in wrists, ankles and knees. Strained muscles are also known as a pulled muscle and this occurs when the muscle fibers stretch too far. This injury can be minor or severe.
Knee injuries are quite common especially iliotibial band syndrome, runners knee and tendonitis. Severe knee injuries usually include bruised cartilage or ligaments.
A shin splint reflects pain from the front outside part of the lower leg but may also occur on the ankle and foot. Shin splints are very common for runners and runners who run on harder surfaces are more prone to shin splints. Shin splints could be prevented by stretching, proper running techniques and proper supportive running shoes.
Broken bones are common in sports injuries, a onetime fracture is an acute fracture. An acute fracture can turn into a stress fracture if repeated stress is applied daily. Hospitalization and surgery is the norm for acute fractures, they are classified as an emergency and will need professionals to repair.
If you have a headache, you’re not alone. Nine out of 10 Americans suffer from headaches. Some are occasional, some frequent, some are dull and throbbing, and some cause debilitating pain and nausea. What do you do when you suffer from a pounding headache? Do you grit your teeth and carry on? Lie down? Pop a pill and hope the pain goes away? There is a better alternative.
Research shows that spinal manipulation – one of the primary treatments provided by doctors of chiropractic – may be an effective treatment option for tension headaches and headaches that originate in the neck. A 2014 report in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics (JMPT) found that interventions commonly used in chiropractic care improved outcomes for the treatment of acute and chronic neck pain and increased benefit was shown in several instances where a multimodal approach to neck pain had been used1. Also, a 2011 JMPT study found that chiropractic care, including spinal manipulation, improves migraine and cervicogenic headaches.
Headaches have many causes, or “triggers.” These may include foods, environmental stimuli (noises, lights, stress, etc.) and/or behaviors (insomnia, excessive exercise, blood sugar changes, etc.). About 5 percent of all headaches are warning signals caused by physical problems. The remaining 95 percent of headaches are primary headaches, such as tension, migraine, or cluster headaches. These types of headaches are not caused by disease; the headache itself is the primary concern.
The greatest majority of primary headaches are associated with muscle tension in the neck. Today, Americans engage in more sedentary activities than in the past, and more hours are spent in one fixed position or posture (such as sitting in front of a computer). This can increase joint irritation and muscle tension in the neck, upper back and scalp, causing your head to ache.
What Can Dr. Spencer/Dr. Barszcz Do for Your Headaches?
We may do one or more of the following if you suffer from a primary headache:
- Perform spinal manipulation or chiropractic adjustments to improve spinal function and alleviate the stress on your system.
- Provide nutritional advice, recommending a change in diet and perhaps the addition of B complex vitamins.
- Offer advice on posture, ergonomics (work postures), exercises and relaxation techniques. This advice should help to relieve the recurring joint irritation and tension in the muscles of the neck and upper back
Physical therapy is typically indicated following an orthopedic surgery such as operations on the hip, knee, shoulder, wrist, hand, neck, foot, ankle, and spine to facilitate a speedy recovery. Physical therapy can start anywhere from a few hours to a few days after surgery and in some cases, there may be a period of immobilization following surgery.
A patient’s ability to regain motion and strength and ultimately return to their daily activities depend on physical therapy. The body will not regain normal motion without specific retraining. Physical therapists/Chiropractors are specifically trained to restore range of motion and strength without compensation and to prevent re-injury during the recovery process. The therapist can also provide the patient with specific guidelines to allow optimal healing.
After a thorough evaluation by a Dr. Spencer/Dr. Barszcz, goals will be set to minimize the adverse effects of surgery such as pain and swelling as well as to restore normal movement, flexibility and function. The therapist and patient will work together to establish functional goals related to resuming normal activities of living as well as preventing an injury from recurring. The therapist will then design an exercise program tailored specific to the patient’s needs and abilities, and work.
Therapy is often divided into distinct phases. The first comes immediately after surgery when the body part may be immobilized while pain and swelling subside. Then comes a series of progressively challenging exercises to restore range of motion, stability, and strength. The final goal is to return the patient to a pre-injury activity level.
Post-operative treatments may specifically include:
- Strategies for pain reduction including modalities such as ice, heat, and electrical stimulation
- Flexibility exercises to improve range of motion
- Exercises to strengthen muscles
- Posture, balance, and coordination training
- Gait analysis and training
- Manual therapy techniques
- Self-care training
- Home exercise instruction
We often hear that good posture is essential for good health. We recognize poor posture when we see it formed as a result of bad habits carried out over years and evident in many adults. But only few people have a real grasp of the importance and necessity of good posture.
What is posture?
Posture is the position in which we hold our bodies while standing, sitting, or lying down. Good posture is the correct alignment of body parts supported by the right amount of muscle tension against gravity. Without posture and the muscles that control it, we would simply fall to the ground.
Normally, we do not consciously maintain normal posture. Instead, certain muscles do it for us, and we don’t even have to think about it. Several muscle groups, including the hamstrings and large back muscles, are critically important in maintaining good posture. While the ligaments help to hold the skeleton together, these postural muscles, when functioning properly, prevent the forces of gravity from pushing us over forward. Postural muscles also maintain our posture and balance during movement.
Why is good posture important?
Good posture helps us stand, walk, sit, and lie in positions that place the least strain on supporting muscles and ligaments during movement and weight-bearing activities.
Helps us keep bones and joints in correct alignment so that our muscles are used correctly, decreasing the abnormal wearing of joint surfaces that could result in degenerative arthritis and joint pain.
Reduces the stress on the ligaments holding the spinal joints together, minimizing the likelihood of injury.
Allows muscles to work more efficiently, allowing the body to use less energy and, therefore, preventing muscle fatigue.
Helps prevent muscle strain, overuse disorders, and even back and muscular pain.
To maintain proper posture, you need to have adequate muscle flexibility and strength, normal joint motion in the spine and other body regions, as well as efficient postural muscles that are balanced on both sides of the spine. In addition, you must recognize your postural habits at home and in the workplace and work to correct them, if necessary.
Consequences of poor posture:
Poor posture can lead to excessive strain on our postural muscles and may even cause them to relax, when held in certain positions for long periods of time. For example, you can typically see this in people who bend forward at the waist for a prolonged time in the workplace. Their postural muscles are more prone to injury and back pain.
Several factors contribute to poor posture–most commonly, stress, obesity, pregnancy, weak postural muscles, abnormally tight muscles, and high-heeled shoes. In addition, decreased flexibility, a poor work environment, incorrect working posture, and unhealthy sitting and standing habits can also contribute to poor body positioning.
Can I correct my posture?
In a word, yes. Remember, however, that long-standing postural problems will typically take longer to address than short-lived ones, as often the joints have adapted to your long-standing poor posture. Conscious awareness of your own posture and knowing what posture is correct will help you consciously correct yourself. With much practice, the correct posture for standing, sitting, and lying down will gradually replace your old posture. This, in turn, will help you move toward a better and healthier body position.
Your doctor of chiropractic can assist you with proper posture, including recommending exercises to strengthen your core postural muscles. He or she can also assist you with choosing proper postures during your activities, helping reduce your risk of injury.
Common Auto Accident Injuries:
Whiplash is the most common type of auto accident injury. The cause of whiplash during an auto collision forcefully shakes the head suddenly, either from side-to-side or front-to-back, adding pressure to neck ligaments, causing strain and sprains. Most minor cases of whiplash resolve itself over a period of time.
Serious neck injuries can lead to herniation and will not subside on its own, so it’s best to seek the help of a medical professional.
Leg and Knee Injuries
In car accidents individuals forget injuries occur on the leg and knee. The cause of injuries to the lower body are from parts of the vehicle being smashed against the leg and knee, resulting in alliterations, bruising and broken bones. Injuries are not isolated to just the knee and leg but may affect toes and ankles.
The back and spine are very delicate, minor strains and dislocations only require supportive care. Blunt force from a car accident can lead to chronic pain and the loss of mobility.
During a serious collision the brain can be shaken severely inside the skull, one cause is hitting your head on the steering wheel or windshield, nevertheless a concussion may occur without your head coming into contact with any hard surfaces.
Minor concussions are usually an easy remedy of lots of rest and sleep to allow the swelling of the brain to retract and heal. Serious concussions may require hospitalization, especially if you harbor symptoms of vomiting, severe nausea, headaches and disorientation.
Traumatic brain injuries will require hospitalization and surgery to alleviate serious bleeding and pressure on the brain due to swelling.
This is a widely used type of chiropractic manipulation/adjustment that includes most of the procedures taught in chiropractic institutions. This technique is the most commonly used of all chiropractic techniques and is the one probably most familiar to patients. The Diversified manipulation/adjustment entails a high velocity, low-amplitude thrust delivered by hand and possibly with assistance from a table or block. This usually results in a cavitation of a joint (quick, shallow thrusts that cause the popping noise often associated with a chiropractic manipulation/adjustment).
As the name implies, the Diversified Technique can be used to treat many of the joints in the body and is the primary technique used by the doctors in our office.
Back Pain. Neck Pain. Arm Pain. Leg Pain. Even pain after back surgery. Flexion Distraction is the gentle, safe, controlled treatment for spinal pain relief.
How? Flexion distraction drops intradiscal pressures as low as -192mmHg and widens the spinal canal area by as much as 28%. As a bonus, flexion distraction returns motion to the spinal joints, too!
How fast? Flexion distraction for low back pain conditions takes just 12 visits in 29 days average. Flexion distraction for neck pain conditions takes just 13 visits average. Now if you have a disc herniation, logically, that will likely take more visits/days than if you have a sprain or strain. Plus, these are just averages. Some back pain and neck pain sufferers find relief in just a visit or two. Now that’s a welcome relief.
Note: Flexion Distraction follows evidence-based and documented protocols. The federally funded studies use and test them. Flexion distraction doctors read them in the medical-published textbooks and peer-reviewed journals.
The goal of flexion distraction care is at least 50% relief of pain in 30 days before any advanced imaging or testing is ordered. (Have no fear! If you are getting progressively worse or have cauda equina symptoms (can’t control your bladder or bowel), you would be referred immediately!) Certified flexion distraction physicians know what to look for!
91% of patients are satisfied with flexion distraction in 90 days.
The Activator Method Chiropractic Technique® is a diagnostic and treatment system used by some chiropractors to treat many types of back pain, neck pain, and headaches (both chronic and migraine).
The Activator Method uses a small, hand-held instrument called the Activator Adjusting Instrument to deliver a gentle impulse force to the spine with the goal of restoring motion to the targeted spinal vertebra or joint.
It is an alternative to the traditional manual form of spinal manipulation, known as the high velocity low amplitude (HVLA) thrust.
Dry needling is a technique chiropractors use for the treatment of pain and movement impairments. The technique uses a “dry” needle, one without medication or injection, inserted through the skin into areas of the muscle.
Other terms commonly used to describe dry needling, include trigger point dry needling, and intramuscular manual therapy.
Dry needling is not acupuncture, a practice based on traditional Chinese medicine and performed by acupuncturists. Dry needling is a part of modern Western medicine principles and supported by research.
What is a Trigger Point?
A trigger point is a taut band of skeletal muscle located within a larger muscle group. Trigger points can be tender to the touch and touching a trigger point may cause pain to other parts of the body.
What Kind of Needles Are Used?
Dry needling involves a thin filiform needle that penetrates the skin and stimulates underlying myofascial trigger points and muscular and connective tissues. The needle allows a physical therapist to target tissues that are not manually palpable.
Physical therapists wear gloves and appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) when dry needling, consistent with Standard Precautions, Guide to Infection Prevention for Outpatient Settings, and OSHA standards. The sterile needles are disposed of in a medical sharps collector.
Why Dry Needling?
In cases when dry needling is used by physical therapists, it is typically a technique that’s part of a larger treatment plan.
Chiropractors use dry needling with the goal of releasing or inactivating trigger points to relieve pain or improve range of motion. Preliminary research 2 supports that dry needling improves pain control, reduces muscle tension, and normalizes dysfunctions of the motor end plates, the sites at which nerve impulses are transmitted to muscles. This can help speed up the patient’s return to active rehabilitation.
As part of their entry level education, physical therapists are well educated in anatomy and therapeutic treatment of the body. Physical therapists who perform dry needling supplement that knowledge by obtaining specific postgraduate education and training. When contacting a physical therapist for dry needling treatment, be sure to ask about their specific experience and education.
The Graston Technique is a form of manual therapy known as soft-tissue instrument-assisted mobilization. It is one of a number of manual therapy approaches that uses instruments with a specialized form of massage/scraping the skin gently.
The therapy is designed to help the practitioner identify areas of restriction and attempt to break up scar tissue.
The Graston Technique is often practiced by chiropractors, osteopathic physicians, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and some licensed massage therapists and athletic trainers.
Graston Technique Goals:
The general goals of the therapy are to reduce the patient’s pain and increase function through a combination of:
- Breaking down the scar tissue and fascia restrictions that are usually associated with some form of trauma to the soft tissue (e.g., a strained muscle or a pulled ligament, tendon, or fascia).
- Reducing restrictions by stretching connective tissue in an attempt to rearrange the structure of the soft tissue being treated (e.g., muscle, fascia, tendons, ligaments).
- Promoting a better healing environment for the injured soft tissue.
Electric stimulation therapy is a therapeutic treatment that applies electrical stimulation in treating muscle spasms and pain. It can help prevent atrophy and build strength in patients with injuries. It is also helpful in keeping muscles active especially after any type spinal cord injury or strokes.
Chiropractors attach electrodes on the patient’s skin, causing the target muscles to contract. With electric stimulation, the patient can maintain muscle tone and strength that would otherwise waste away due to lack of usage.
Electric stimulation works by mimicking the natural way by which the body exercises its muscles. The electrodes attached to the skin deliver impulses that make the muscles contract. It is beneficial in increasing the patient’s range of motion and improves the circulation of the body. It is used in treating conditions like sprains, arthritis, back pain scoliosis and sciatica.
Electric Stimulation can be muscular, general and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS). The muscular type of electric stimulation seeks to strengthen the muscles by reducing muscle spasms. Also known as EMS, this stimulates the skeletal muscle using electric impulses to cause muscle contraction.
TENS is commonly used to help with chronic pain. The general type of electric stimulation is used for healing wounds and alleviating pain. For the convenience of the patient, a portable TENS unit can be prescribed by the doctor or a physical therapist for the patient to use at home.
Interferential current (IFC) is another form of TENS. It is used by physical therapists and chiropractors for the purpose of decreasing inflammation and swelling of affected tissues. This treatment has also shown positive effects in improving symptoms of asthma and in reducing back pain.
Dr. Spencer/Dr. Barszcz can help patients reduce pain and improve or restore mobility – in many cases without expensive surgery and often reducing the need for long-term use of prescription medications and their side effects.
They teach patients how to prevent or manage their condition so that they will achieve long-term health benefits. The Doctors will examine each individual and develop a plan, using treatment techniques to promote the ability to move, reduce pain, restore function, and prevent disability. In addition, the doctors work with individuals to prevent the loss of mobility before it occurs by developing fitness- and wellness-oriented programs for healthier and more active lifestyles.
The kineseo taping is a definitive rehabilitative taping technique that is designed to facilitate the body’s natural healing process while providing support and stability to muscles and joints without restricting the body’s range of motion as well as providing extended soft tissue manipulation to prolong the benefits of manual therapy administered within the clinical setting. Latex-free and wearable for days at a time, the tape is safe for populations ranging from pediatric to geriatric, and successfully treats a variety of orthopedic, neuromuscular, neurological and other medical conditions. The kinesio taping is a therapeutic taping technique not only offering your patient the support they are looking for, but also rehabilitating the affected condition as well. By targeting different receptors within the somatosensory system, kinesio taping alleviates pain and facilitates lymphatic drainage by microscopically lifting the skin. This lifting affect forms convolutions in the skin thus increasing interstitial space and allowing for a decrease in inflammation of the affected areas.
Kineseo taping can be applied in hundreds of ways and has the ability to re-educate the neuromuscular system, reduce pain and inflammation, optimize performance, prevent injury and promote good circulation and healing, and assist in returning the body to homeostasis.