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A Structural Approach to the Body

In a structural approach to the body, the goal is to influence the entire nervous system. Here is an analogy: by jacking up the corner of the foundation in a house that has sunken down into the ground by two inches, we can influence the structural integrity of the entire house. It is easy to apply the force, but it is more important to correctly analyze which corner of the foundation has sunk. The skill lies in knowing where to apply the force.

the-crooked-houses-1230888-640x480Structural dysfunction can block neural impulses between body and brain. In other words, monitoring and response within the body has “gone dark.” This can lead to overactivation of the stress response. The stress response is triggered by sensory information, and faulty perception of neural impulses can lead to exaggerated “fight or flight” responses. In children, this faulty neuroception can lead to challenging behaviors because a child interprets mundane sensory information as threatening. Fidgeting, being easily distracted, and poor adaptation to changes in plans are a few examples of how structural dysfunction can impair a child’s life experience. Pediatric chiropractic is more often focused on these issues than typical adult issues like spinal pain.

The physiological base of the spine is in the upper neck, a region that is richly populated with positional sensors. Try this experiment right now: tip your head about ten degrees to the right, and keep it in that position for 30 seconds. Most people start to feel uneasy and tired after doing this. If your head and eyes are not level, your body will create compensations within the neurospinal system to restore equilibrium. These compensations may cause problems with other body functions, but the prime directive of the spine is to maintain a level head and eye gaze. Insults to the structural system, whether one-time or repetitive, can cause impairments to neurospinal function. This can manifest as headaches, neck pain, sleep disorders, sciatica, fatigue, back pain, and even digestive disorders like heartburn.

The process of correcting structural dysfunction needs to include a thorough analysis of the upper neck region. Biomechanics of the upper neck influence the stress response and the entire structural system. For patients of all ages, our in-depth analysis leads to tailored programs of care that can restore health and get people back to living their lives. For a private 15-minute chiropractic consultation, please call our office in Eagan, MN, at 651-757-5096.

Bedwetting and Deep Sleepers

Are you the parent of a child older than age 5 who is consistently wetting the bed? There may be a problem with your child’s neurological reflex control. Often this same reflex problem creates extremely deep sleep, where the child almost seems comatose and is very difficult to wake up.

Bedwetting can have impact on a child’s social life and self-esteem. Parents are often anxious to solve this problem. Several approaches may help, such as restricting fluids, using special nighttime undergarments, even moisture-triggered bed alarms to wake the child. If these measures have limited effect, it is time to evaluate the neurological system.

The phrenic reflex controls movement of the diaphragm muscle, which is located beneath the lungs. This reflex is unconscious, which is why you are continually breathing while reading this article. However, the phrenic reflex can malfunction and lead to bedwetting. If breathing slows down, carbon dioxide can build up in the blood. This abnormal blood chemistry can lead to two troublesome outcomes. First, the child sleeps very deeply and is challenging to wake up. Second, smooth muscles will relax in response to high levels of carbon dioxide. Smooth muscle is what makes up the valve-like sphincter muscle that retains fluid inside the bladder. When this sphincter relaxes, due to abnormal reflex activity, the child wets the bed.

How can you evaluate and correct problems with the phrenic reflex? It is easiest to assess the function of the neurospinal system as a whole. Structural problems with the spine can compromise the function of nerves that arise from the brain and spinal cord. For example, the phrenic nerve is made of a combination of nerves exiting the spine at the neck level. Physical stresses can create neurospinal dysfunction and impair the phrenic nerve reflex activity. Head traumas and whiplash-type injuries can be major factors, or the repeated minor bumps and scrapes of a normal childhood can contribute to neurospinal dysfunction. Just like some children are susceptible to cavities, some children develop neurospinal dysfunction. Fortunately, this dysfunction does not have to be a permanent part of a child’s picture of health. Neurospinal dysfunction can be corrected.

In short, the root cause of bedwetting is often impairment of the neurological reflex that controls breathing. A doctor of chiropractic specializes in identifying and correcting neurospinal dysfunction. Many families have seen massive relief after using chiropractic to restore neurological control and help with their child’s bedwetting issues. Call our Eagan chiropractic office at 651-757-5096 for a complimentary consultation.

Acid Reflux, IBS, and Neurospinal Health

If you are reading this, you’re probably interested in healthy living. Some people have had health problems that held them back at work, at school, in sports and hobbies, even social interactions and family time. Many of us take a “big-picture” approach to health: use a number of separate approaches to keep yourself healthy, knowing your efforts will build upon each other. Trust that if you take care of your body, it will perform effectively and help you create a life you love.

But, there are some people who love the nitty-gritty details of exactly “how it’s made.” For those of us who are analytical types, here’s an intriguing experiment to explain how neurospinal health can affect organ systems like the gastrointestinal tract.

After intentionally creating arthritis and cervical spine degeneration, researchers in China noted biochemical changes in the stomach lining of rats. Spinal degeneration in the neck is associated with about 20 different classes of disorders, such as high blood pressure, heart rhythm disorders, dizziness, vision problems, and digestive symptoms. This experiment gives a logical explanation for both common heartburn and indigestion, as well as more severe, life-altering, difficult-to-manage digestive disorders.

What happened in the experiment? As a result of creating spinal degeneration, the levels of three specialized proteins increased with time. Higher levels of these proteins signaled tissue damage within both the nervous system and digestive tract. These proteins included a pro-inflammatory cytokine (IL-1-beta), which activates another protein (caspase-3) to induce nerve cell death. A third protein (c-Fos) was also measured. The c-Fos protein is an indicator of nerve cell activity; it was increased in both the spinal cord and stomach wall, indicating irritation within both of these tissues. Increased levels of c-Fos have previously been connected to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and Crohn’s disease. For comparison, there was a control group of rats who were not subjected to spinal degeneration, and their protein levels remained unchanged overall throughout the study.

The researchers noted that “neck-stomach” syndrome is a relatively new understanding of digestive disorders. They explain that “when the sympathetic nerve is irritated by nerve roots, degenerated disc and facet joint disorders due to osteophytes, cervical muscle overexertion and/or injury, the irritation reaches to the brain cortex by nerve reflex and produces a higher or lower sympathetic irritability, and then results in multiple dysfunctions of the neck, upper limbs, cardiac and gastrointestinal reflexes, etc.”

As a conclusion of this experiment, the authors recommended that both the digestive tract and the central nervous system be investigated as sources of gastrointestinal problems. By correcting neurospinal dysfunction, we can improve the capability of the central nervous system and indirectly solve problems like acid reflux, constipation, heartburn, and IBS. Based on my years of experience with patients, the health of the neurospinal system impacts the function of the entire body. It is the foundation of health.

We often work with chronic and complex health problems that have frustrated patients for months or years. Pediatric issues like colic, reflux, poor sleep, and irritability often have digestive dysfunction as an underlying factor, and neurospinal correction can help frazzled parents to find a solution. For people with digestive disorders, our insights and skills can be the missing piece of the puzzle. For a private 15-minute consultation, please call our office in Eagan, MN, at 651-757-5096.

Source: Song et al., 2007. Neck-Stomach Syndrome. World Journal of Gastroenterology 13(18): 2575-2580.

Prenatal Chiropractic Care

Neurospinal correction can help pregnant women feel more comfortable during the changes of prenatal development. There is also a role for neurospinal correction in conception and fertility. About 10 percent of women (6.1 million) in the United States ages 15-44 have difficulty getting pregnant or staying pregnant, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). A basic IVF (in vitro fertilization) treatment averages $17,000 with a success rate of less than one third.

There are several reasons that the correction of neurospinal dysfunction may help to support healthy fertility and pregnancy. First of all, the uterus and the ovaries are directly innervated by the T12 nerve roots, while the cervix and structures below it are innervated by the S2 nerve roots.

In addition to the direct influence the neurospinal system displays, it also controls the distribution of hormones to reproductive structures through the hypothalamus and pituitary glands. The hypothalamus regulates the secretion of Gonadotropin-releasing hormone. This in turn determines the relative amounts of follicle stimulating hormone and leuteinizing hormone that the pituitary gland secretes.

posturebreathinghormones

Correction of neurospinal dysfunction can result in easier pregnancy, significantly decreased mean labor time, and restoring new mothers back to prepartum health and mobility. In one study, women receiving neurospinal dysfunction correction through their first pregnancy had 24% shorter labor times than the group not receiving correction, and multiparous subjects reported 39% shorter labor times. Thirty-nine percent: that’s a massive difference.

Whether you are experiencing back pain, sciatic pain, or simply want to optimize your childbirth experience, we are here to help you. Our office uses gentle approaches to addressing neurospinal dysfunction. Assessments and treatments are performed with the mother’s comfort and the baby’s safety in mind. Proper function of the lumbar and pelvic regions of the neurospinal system is key for a healthy pregnancy. Call our chiropractic office in Eagan, Minnesota, at 651-757-5096 for a free consultation to determine whether we can support you towards an easier pregnancy and delivery.

After Your First Chiropractic Adjustment

nervous_system

What can you expect after beginning chiropractic care? We like to let our patients know what to expect after their first chiropractic adjustment.

Most of our new patients notice an immediate improvement in their range of motion or relief from their pain, but everyone heals at their own pace. Some people experience increased muscle soreness, or hear their neck joints making noise when they turn their head. These are healthy responses to changes in neurospinal tension. Muscles that have been overworked or underpowered are adjusting to a new normal. Remember that your body has likely been stuck in an unhealthy pattern for months or years, and it may take time to see changes. Once your neurological system is functioning more efficiently and effectively, your body’s inborn intelligence is in charge of the healing. It’s a wonderful thing to watch unfold.

Here is an important note on changes that often occur after several visits: As your nervous system begins to function more powerfully, you may experience a temporary intensification of symptoms. This is not a bad thing! Your nervous system is working more powerfully, and your brain’s perception of symptoms may change from a diffuse, vague feeling to a local, pinpointed sensation. Some clients experience symptoms in areas of long-forgotten injury. For example, if you had a low-back injury in high school, you may have a mild flare-up of low-back pain while you start feeling better in other areas. Understand that this is a normal part of the healing process.

Our goal is to restore balance, calm, and clear signaling to the nervous system, using chiropractic as the tool to accomplish this task. Neurospinal correction is a high-leverage approach to achieving greater health. Traditional chiropractic issues include neck pain, back pain, and headaches. But there are some less obvious issues that are influenced by neurospinal function:

  • Infants: torticollis, feeding/latching problems, colic, reflux, ear infections
  • Children: ADHD symptoms, digestive problems, lung problems, balance issues
  • Adults: fatigue, tingling, numbness, dizziness, sinus infections, allergies

 

Call our office at 651-757-5096 if you have questions about our care or would like to have a private complimentary consultation.

 

Breastfeeding and Neurospinal Dysfunction

Imagine the frustrations of a new mother having difficulty with breastfeeding her newborn. Ideally, this is a time of bonding, but studies suggest that 13-44% of infants experience problems with breastfeeding. If left untreated, infant feeding disorders can lead to failure to thrive, or interfere with physical, mental, and social development. The infant’s “job” during the early months is to eat, sleep, and grow. These functions are governed by the nervous system, which regulates digestion, immunity, and sleep/wake cycles. Neurospinal dysfunction can impede proper growth and development if the biomechanics of breastfeeding are suboptimal.

Breastfeeding problems can include:

  • Postural and positional alterations that create a preference for one breast vs. the other
  • Inefficient latching due to poor control of mouth, tongue, and neck muscles
  • Difficulty with coordinating the biomechanics of sucking, swallowing, and breathing

 

The biomechanics of breastfeeding are complex and require a high level of coordination from the infant’s nervous system. A newborn uses sixty voluntary and involuntary muscles to suck, swallow, and breathe. This cycle repeats 40-60 times per minute, 10-30 minutes per feeding, 8-16 times per day. Based on these estimates, a newborn typically performs this cycle about 10,000 times per day. These 10,000 cycles are coordinated by cranial nerves that arise from the brainstem and exit from the skull. Of the twelve cranial nerves, those numbered 5, 7, 9, 10, 11, and 12 control muscles in the head, neck, digestive tract, and respiratory system.

Some of these cranial nerves also send sensory information from head and neck structures back to the brainstem. Breastfeeding relies on primitive reflexes like rooting and suckling. These neurological reflexes depend on correct interpretation of a sensory stimulus like touching the baby’s cheek, which causes it to turn its head in search of sustenance. This example is the rooting reflex. If the neurospinal system is malfunctioning, the muscular contractions involved in suckling may increase tension on cranial nerves and produce headache pain in the infant.

baby adjustment in diaper

To a significant extent, breastfeeding difficulties can be successfully addressed by a chiropractor with pediatric training. The amount of pressure used to assess and correct neurospinal dysfunction in an infant is roughly the same amount of pressure used to test the ripeness of a tomato. Pediatric chiropractic for infants with breastfeeding difficulty is safe and simple, in the hands of a well-trained chiropractor.

Hardware and Software

“Do you do that no-cracking technique?” This question often comes from a prospective new patient calling our office. The answer to this question is a solid YES. Often, new chiropractic patients are hesitant about forceful, hands-on adjusting techniques. They are calling our office because they have heard that we are different. Allow me to clear the air.

There is a common thread between all chiropractic techniques: the use of kinetic energy to enhance the body’s internal communication systems. To oversimplify, think of the human body as a computer, with hardware and software. When there is a problem with the computer, you could focus on only diagnosing the hardware, adding or replacing parts. However, if there is a problem with the software or communication systems, you will not find broken wires or worn-out parts to replace. The human body’s nervous system is the equivalent of a computer’s software system, continuously sending signals between brain and body at 270 mph. For roughly the past century, the chiropractic profession has understood that the nervous system can respond strongly to inputs of kinetic energy (force). Chiropractors are trained to improve nervous system function by using small, precise forces to restore spinal motion, improve spinal alignment, and stimulate nervous system reflexes. The majority of chiropractors focus on spinal motion and alignment, which requires stronger forces and often results in the release of pent-up carbon dioxide gas from the joints, which is the mysterious “popping” sound often associated with chiropractic.

Our office is among the group of chiropractors who focus more strongly on neurologically-based adjustments. A detailed analysis of the body’s nervous system reflexes lets us pinpoint exactly where nervous system function is abnormal. This allows us to apply a smaller force to the spine, with the patient in a neutral face-down position, to achieve a similar outcome as “manual” or “diversified” chiropractors. The health benefits can include relief of back pain, neck pain, and headaches. More neurologically-related improvements are often seen regarding sciatica, migraines, sleep, digestion, and mental function. Regardless of technique, all chiropractors are trained to improve body function safely and naturally by using energetic, physical methods.

How Big is Your Bucket?

We each have a bucket that defines our breaking point. The stressors of life fill this bucket day by day: physical, chemical, and emotional stressors. If enough stressors get into our bucket, it overflows and we experience symptoms. In children, this can appear as frequent colds and flus, ear infections, digestive problems, and ADHD symptoms. Adults may have back pain, sleeping problems, numbness and tingling, sinus infections, and headaches. But what if we could expand our bucket – increase our adaptability and resilience against stress? This can happen for anyone, regardless of diagnosis, if their nervous system is operating more powerfully and consistently. Your nervous system is a communications network. It needs to carry information to the right place, at the right time, so body functions can operate as designed. If your nervous system is stressed and unbalanced, there are dropped calls and deleted messages. Information can arrive too soon or too late. Signals can be distorted. Would you want your cell phone network to operate like this? How about your body? The only health care professionals trained to detect and correct nervous system malfunction, without drugs or surgery, are doctors of chiropractic.

Once your nervous system is functioning better, you are more adaptable and resilient against stress – your bucket is bigger, and you can handle more in life. Do you feel that your breaking point is appearing too often, and that the size of your bucket is restricting your life at work, at play, or at home? Do you want to be able to take on more in your life, and handle it with grace and ease? Do you want fewer symptoms, hassles, and worries? These are some of the benefits of chiropractic care.

Diabetes, Infertility, and Sensory Issues

Case reports are used to expand knowledge of a particular health care field. These reports also highlight management of complicated cases or unexpected outcomes of treatment. Here are summaries of three notable case reports from the Annals of Vertebral Subluxation Research published between April and May of 2015.

1. Infertility – a 27 year old female had been diagnosed with infertility and under medical treatment for 6 months before initiating chiropractic care. Her chief complaints in the chiropractic office included chronic low back pain, infertility, dizziness, and sinus problems. After 2.5 months of regular chiropractic care, she conceived. She also reported decreased dizziness and less sickness during her chiropractic care program.

2. Diabetes – a 67 year old female was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes mellitus at age 40. She also reported headaches, digestive problems, neck pain, and back pain. Upon starting chiropractic care, she was taking 92 pills per day. After four chiropractic adjustments, she visited her medical doctor and was able to stop her insulin injections due to improved blood sugar levels. After three months of chiropractic care, she was able to reduce her daily medications down to 21 pills per day.

3. Sensory Issues – a 5 year old female was diagnosed with sensory modulation disorder, which presented as issues with energy and concentration. Upon consulting with a chiropractor, her family reported that she also had constipation and OCD symptoms. She had a complicated birth, which required an emergency C-section after 24 hours of labor. The patient had used corrective eyeglasses, along with speech, occupational, and psychiatric therapy, prior to beginning chiropractic care. After 10 chiropractic treatments, her family noted improved sleeping, better moods, and more frequent bowel movements. The patient still has some developmental delays and includes regular chiropractic checkups in her health care regimen. According to the child’s medical doctor, “The most significant thing about this case is the patient’s nearly immediate ability to focus, concentrate, use her words more effectively, and control her emotions post adjustment. This has made a tremendous difference in the parent’s ability to cope with their daughter’s challenges.”

All of these patients exhibited indicators of neurospinal dysfunction, also known as vertebral subluxation. According to Yachter and Jarry, who provided the case report on diabetes:

Vertebral subluxations can have the ability to affect the body’s communication processes and thus interfere with the normal mechanisms of the body. By correction and removal of these subluxation complexes the body has the ability to maintain normal function by feed forward and feedback mechanisms to maintain homeostasis. According to the neurodystrophic model and dysafferentation model, without correction of the interference (subluxation) the body is unable to function at its full potential thus continuing a declining process within the body which then presents as more severe complications stated previously. As stated in multiple case reports presented in this discussion, there are a variety of chiropractic techniques that can be used to care for a patient with any presentation but generally share the common objective of correcting spinal nerve interference caused by vertebral subluxation.

 

Why Do You Adjust Babies?

People are sometimes confused about why we adjust babies. To understand what problems we are solving for babies, we have to share some background information about how the body’s control mechanisms work.

Most people have heard of the fight-or-flight response, and we’ve all experienced it directly. For example, we narrowly avoid a car crash, and our heart starts to pound, our skin tingles all over from the blood rush to our muscles, and we are on high-alert mode in regard to what we see and hear. It’s a challenge to think clearly due to the nervous system’s fight-or-flight response. This response is orchestrated by the autonomic nervous system, which is the blood vessels, organs, and glands. In a fight-or-flight response, functions like digestion, immunity, and reproduction are minimized or even shut down because our senses and our muscles need to be ready to spring into action.

The sympathetic nervous system is activated for short-term survival strategies, which is smart. Its partner, the parasympathetic nervous system, is called our rest and digest system, and this is activated for long-term survival strategies. Functions of the parasympathetic nervous system include sleeping, digesting, reproducing, repairing damage, and growing new cells. For babies, growth and development require that they spend most of their time in this rest and digest mode. It is harmful to a child’s development to be stuck in fight or flight mode because they will not fully develop their rest and digest functions. Similarly, adults need to strike a healthy balance between sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system activity.

There is a major player in the parasympathetic nervous system that is often affected by physical trauma to the head, neck, or spine. This major player is the vagus nerve, that’s spelled V-A-G-U-S, which comes off the brainstem, at junction of the skull and upper neck. Vagus nerve travels behind the ear, down the neck and into the chest and abdomen, where it communicates with the heart, lungs, digestive, and immune organs. The vagus nerve is basically the foreman of the autonomic nervous system. One reason that we treat babies is that the birth process often causes small, subtle misalignments in the bones of the upper neck. This misalignment interrupts the normal electrical signaling of the vagus nerve. The result is weakened digestive functions, often diagnosed as colic or reflux.

A second problem is that due to the misalignment, the baby develops muscle spasms to protect against any further injury, and it can’t turn its head, so it has trouble latching during breastfeeding. Our observation, among pediatric chiropractors, is that babies with breastfeeding issues, torticollis, colic, and reflux develop into toddlers with immune system issues like eczema and chronic ear infections. In other words, a neurological problem at birth that was never identified or corrected can continually hamper a child’s development during the critical first few years of life.

What if we identify and correct those misalignments that disrupt the work of the nervous system, that throw a monkey wrench in the brain’s well-orchestrated plans? We can help create good output in nervous system function. But there’s an even bigger benefit to correcting disruptions in the nervous system. Correcting neurospinal dysfunction allows better input from the body to the brain, so the brain can create even better, more efficient, more effective plans of action. If this is the first time hearing that term, neurospinal dysfunction, it means that the spine and nervous system are so intimately connected that they function and dysfunction together, like a married couple.

Our work involves enhancing nervous system function, using chiropractic as the tool to accomplish this task. We’ve found that restoring balance, calm, and clear signaling to the nervous system is a high-leverage approach to achieving greater health. Most of our patients report multiple benefits as a result of their care in this office. We use neurological indicators to determine where and when to correct the neurospinal system. Many patients report being more mentally focused, having more endurance, and feeling calmer. That’s why we have a passion for helping people, especially kids, with health challenges.