Chiropractic is for More than Low Back Pain

Written by Jill Marquess, DC for the Brattleboro Reformer January 30, 2015.

Many people consider going to a chiropractor when they have back pain. Some people seek chiropractic care when they have neck pain. But not many people know that Chiropractic can be effective in treating other areas of the body including, for example, the extremities: jaw, shoulders, elbows, wrists/hand, ankles/feet.

What makes chiropractors unique in treating extremities is their skill in musculoskeletal diagnosis and joint manipulation. If an extremity injury has a joint misalignment component, an adjustment can help re-align and restore proper joint movement to reduce inflammation and improve nerve function, thus allowing injuries to heal more completely.

These are some common joint problems throughout the body:

Jaw: Stress, teeth grinding and spinal misalignment can cause TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorders. The TMJ is where your jaw connects to your skull. Skilled chiropractic care can restore proper nervous system control of involved muscles and ligaments which can reduce pain, stiffness, clicking sounds of the jaw.

A safe home exercise to do for TMJ pain goes like this: place your tongue on the roof of your mouth behind your front teeth in the center. Keep your tongue in place while you slowly open and close your jaw. Repeat 10 repetitions per day.

Shoulder: Shoulder symptoms (pain, numbness, weakness, tingling) can originate either from the neck or from the shoulder joints, ligaments, and muscles. It's important to have a thorough exam to determine the origin of one's symptoms. Many patients report dramatic improvement of their symptoms with chiropractic adjustments and a specific home exercise program.

Elbow: Classic tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis) is a repetitive strain injury of the forearm soft tissue. It is often seen in those who perform repeated hammering, grasping, and rotary forearm motions. A thorough examination followed by appropriate chiropractic adjustment to the elbow, shoulder, and wrist joints can produce excellent results. In addition, prescribed gentle muscle and fascia stretches are an essential component to one's healing.

Wrist: Carpal tunnel syndrome is usually due to compression of the median nerve as it passes through the band of ligaments in the wrist. In many cases, the underlying cause is restriction of joint movement and soft tissue of one or more areas in the neck, shoulder, elbow, and/or wrist. Identifying the involved problem areas and creating a treatment plan that includes joint manipulation and specific stretches may help avoid surgery.

Ankle/Feet: Ankle and foot conditions are the most common extremity issues I see in my treatment room. Chiropractic manipulation of ankles and feet can improve alignment, reduce tenderness, and relieve symptoms. Sprains and metatarsalgias (ball of foot pain) are common foot/ankle conditions. Treatment of these conditions can relieve pain, but also improve your gait and stabilize the entire skeletal system.

While many health problems can be traced to the spine and spinal nerves, other joints of the body can be involved too. When chiropractic techniques are applied, motion dynamics can be improved and painful inflammation reduced--without drugs or surgery!

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