Monday, September 12, 2005

Has Your Brain Lost The Plot?

Since the earliest days of Chiropractic and Neuromuscoloskeletal Medicine we have held tight to the theory that spinal and structural pain has been the result of something that goes “out of place”. While this theory has served its purpose over the years and has allowed us to develop very safe and effective methods of treatment, there have always been lingering problems with trying to explain exactly why and how something went wrong.

Recent research by Dr Alan Phillips – the developer of Neurolink and Professor Uwe Proske from Monash University Department of Physiology has prompted us to start to look at the mechanisms of structural and neurological pain and dysfunction in a different way.

Dr Phillips found that contrary to current theory, the joints alone are not always the culprits. They don’t just go wrong and then irritate the muscles. In fact the brain temporarily loses control of the tiny intrinsic muscles that control the range of movement of each joint. This allows the joint to either lock or move beyond its normal range, which then causes the joints to become inflamed. The inflammation then spreads to the nearby nerves which, in part, go back to the intrinsic muscles – thus producing a vicious circle.

Prof. Proske found that contrary to current theory, fatigued muscles don’t get weak or go into spasm due simply to lack of exercise or a build up of lactic acid or other toxic by-products. In fact the brain temporarily loses its ability to judge the position of a joint when the muscles that operate the joint are fatigued. In states of fatigue with the absence of accurate control feedback the brain cannot accurately maintain proper control of the structure.

What does this mean to us from a clinical perspective?

1. It allows us to more fully understand how and why things go wrong with our body. This has given us the opportunity to develop new and vastly more effective approaches to the diagnosis and management of health issues that were until now either mysterious at worst or simply frustrating at best.

2. Greater understanding has enabled us to more clearly explain to patients what went wrong and how it happened. This gives the patient a much clearer perspective, not only on what they can do to help their current dilemma but also on what they can do to help avoid a recurrence in the future.

3. It has broadened the range of problems that we are able to help while simultaneously enabling us to manage the familiar problems much more quickly, effectively and permanently.

Traditional forms of treatment such as manipulation, stretching and exercises etc. have served us well enough over the last century but time has shown their limitations. It is very rare now for me to see a new patient who has not already had some form of prior treatment from a Chiropractor, Physiotherapist or Medical Practitioner. Obviously these have not achieved the desired long term result for that patient, otherwise they would not be here seeing me. Almost without exception the patients have had some form of positive result from the traditional treatments but the problem has either recurred or did not completely go away.

When I assess these patients from a perspective that includes brain function in the diagnosis, I almost always find that there is some underlying issue with the way the brain has been controlling the body that has not been corrected. Once that problem has been addressed, not only does the problem for which the patient sought treatment resolve, but many other health issues tend to resolve also. In fact one of the most common things that patients say to me after we have used the Neurolink protocols to resolved these “brain control” issues is that they had no idea that it was possible to feel so good.