The Process of Healing
Current diagnostic techniques cannot always detect tissue damage in acute or chronic traumatic conditions such as whiplash, sports injuries or slip and falls. Standard imaging techniques such as radiography, computed tomography (CT), and MRI are unable to see the tissue on a cellular level where most of the damage has occurred.
HEALING TAKES TIME AND REPETITION
There is a close interaction between the bodies receptors for balance and coordination and the middle brain which controls all the information coming from the body. Chronic injuries & whiplash-type symptoms are a mismatch of information coming from the balance receptors of the body which confuses the brain. This continuous imbalance may create a permanent “hyperarousal” of the brain depending on the damage and sprouting of new nerve fibers in and around the damaged tissue. Some of the common symptoms seen in both acute and chronic injuries and whiplash patients are:
- altered pain perception (magnification of pain) with activity, pressure or rest
- depression-like symptoms with loss of energy or enjoyment
- abnormal muscle spasms (tight on one side only)
- brain fog
- jaw pain
- visual disturbances
- alterations in posture (one shoulder higher than the other)
Hyperarousal and nerve sprouting
Chronic conditions involving abnormal joint motion are more difficult to manage over time due to hyperarousal of the mid brain and nerve sprouting into the damaged area. These areas typically have little (spinal disc) to no (articular cartilage) innervation when healthy. When you're injured, blood vessels and nerves grow into the injured area to help promote and speed healing and then regress when the tissue has been repaired. Sometimes the nerves don't regress but grow deeper into the damaged area. The photos below show normal nerve innervation in healthy tissue and one of massive nerve in-growth into unhealthy tissue.
The green fibers are sensory nerves and the red fibers are sympathetic nerves
In chronic conditions, the injured area appears to be "healed"; but, in reality, the joints and muscles are not moving properly which causes an increase in mechanical signaling that cause hyperarousal of the middle brain. It's similar to a parent that's been home all day with a couple of hyperactive kids, they are stressed from the noise and they've never had a chance to rest. When we get an increase in signaling or hyperarousal of the nervous system, the body grows new nerves (sprouts) to better handle all this information. In chronic injuries, both the middle brain and the nerves become hypersensitive (fibromyalgia).
As the brain and nerves become "hyperaroused", the body starts to mistake mechanical signals coming from the joints and muscles as a pain signal. In other words, it takes less movement to cause a pain response and this pain response can increase over time. That's why something as simple as looking left can cause a sharp searing pain down into your shoulder blade with little to no neck pain. Or picking up a paper clip can cause your legs to buckle. The brain doesn't care what signal it gets, it just responds as best it can to the situation at hand. Simply put, it becomes confused and doesn't respond correctly.
The adjustment corrects the abnormal motion of the spinal joints, releases the muscle spasms and eventually calms the nerves and retrains the nervous system to function properly. The adjustment combined with our Neuro Muscular Re-Education therapy helps speed healing by retraining the nervous system to behave properly, but this takes time and repetition, it doesn't happen overnight. Just like your condition didn't happen overnight.
Hang in there, we'll get you back to playing with the kids and being able to work without pain by correcting the problem, not just covering it up with medication.