From time to time I will be working on someone and as usual, according to my analysis and technique system make contacts on the person’s pelvis, neck, or both and the patient immediately will point to a different area of their spine and say, “No, no doc, it hurts right here.” As if I needed to be reminded or didn’t know what I was doing!
In spite of the fact that we take plenty of time to explain why we do things the way we do them, and offer our patients complimentary workshops to help them get the most out of their care, this response is quite understandable given the traditional approach to health care in general and chiropractic specifically.
Most traditional chiropractors and health care providers focus on reducing the secondary condition, or symptom the patient is experiencing. Commonly these secondary conditions show up as muscle spasm, back pain, headaches, postural distortions, and a myriad of organic conditions. So, if your back hurts at L4, they treat you at that spot. Most doctors do a great job of this.
In our office, instead of focusing on each secondary condition, we focus on correcting a condition called Neural Resistance which often underlies many secondary issues. While pain and muscle spasms are usually specific to a particular spot, Neural Resistance is condition of the entire nervous system and therefore requires a non-local, systemic approach.
Imagine an unprotected and uninsulated water pipe in your home (in Canada). Winter arrives and the water in the pipe freezes and expands, increasing the pressure within the entire pipe. The result or secondary condition will be that the pipe will split in a specific place, causing a leak in your home. Treating the split and leak (a simple, and necessary step) is great, however if this is all you do you would expect the problem to reoccur and the damage to your home to continue.
This is the reason that simply treating secondary health conditions usually leads to relapses and eventually an overall worsening of health. Clearly, in the frozen pipe example the logical course of action would be to first warm the ice to decrease the overall pressure, and then take whatever measures necessary to insulate and protect the pipe so it does not continue to freeze.
Neural Resistance is like a frozen pipe with enough pressure built up that cracks are about to occur. Different people crack in different ways depending on their history and predispositions, just like different pipes will crack in different spots. When the pressure builds, some people will develop back pain, some will develop numbness in their limbs, others will have headaches. Because the nervous system also coordinates our organs a variety autonomic secondary conditions may result as well.
It is for this reason that when we look after the Neural Resistance present in a person’s body that not only the secondary condition they wanted help with improves, conditions they did not even know were related change also. When you look after what is underlying, a ripple effect occurs downstream.
Future articles will more specifically explore the mechanics of Neural Resistance and how it can result in different secondary conditions and symptoms. For now, know that the reason I don’t necessarily contact where it hurts is not that I don’t know or care. The reason is that we are playing a bigger game with the potential for a much bigger and sustainable impact on your health and life.