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  • Writer's pictureDr. Chung

The Pain is in my Back, Why Are You Looking At My Neck???

The Pain is in my Back, Why Are You Looking At My Neck??? I have a confession to make. NOT a back doctor. Whew, that felt great to get off of my chest! I know, I know, it's a little weird for a chiropractor to come out and say that he's not a back doctor, but I promise you that it's true. You can even ask most any patient that has ever presented to my office, and they will tell you that I pay very little attention to what's going on in the low back. I can hear the questions and comments already:

"But 80% of the country will have back pain during their life, why would turn away all of that potential business?"""If you don't take care of the back, then what DO you take care of?" In my practice, I focus on Structural Correction and I deal exclusively with the alignment and mechanics of the head and neck. While I don't specifically treat low back pain, I've seen hundreds, if not thousands of patients with low back pain looking for someone to help them. But how can a gentle approach to the neck help with back problems? I can probably cite a complicated study like this , or explain this long and complex pathway like the infographic shown below:

But really, I'm sure you just want me to make sense of it all. So here it goes:

1. No matter where pain may be felt, it is always processed by the brain. That's why there are many Secondary Conditions where there is nothing physically wrong to diagnose, but the pain is very real to that person. A person with Fibromyalgia deeply understands this concept. Proper structural alignment of the head and neck allow the brainstem to transmit the messages from the spinal cord properly. It ensures that there is no hypersensitivity to pain occurring at the level of the central nervous system.

2. Anterior head syndrome is a condition in which the head and neck has shifted forward in front of the shoulders. While this may not seem like much, .the weight of a 12 lb head reaching beyond the shoulders forces the muscles of the neck and back to pull harder than normal. This is because for every inch forward the head moves, gravity pulls 10 extra lbs onto the neck and back muscles. So a person with a 10 lb head can suddenly have the mechanics of a 30 lb head with just 2 inches of Anterior Head Syndrome.

An interesting thing to note is that people with both neck pain and back pain will see their back pain go away before their neck pain, even though I'm only making a correction to the neck

3. According to a recent study in the Journal of Neurosurgery, deformities in the neck affect the alignment of the hips and pelvis. The two structures are linked together through a complex muscular sling. In other words, where the head goes, the neck goes and vice versa.

Whether you've been told your SI joint or a herniated disc is the problem, Structural Correction may still provide an answer. Though not all cases of back pain are related to a Structural Shift in the neck, it's an important factor that is not usually looked at by most doctors or Traditional Chiropractors. Rather than getting pigeon-holed into a symptom-treatment model, it may benefit you to have someone take a global look at the body, and how the structure of the neck can impact the rest of the spine and the central nervous system.

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