Chiropractic Adjustments for Muscle Pain
When I tell people how chiropractic adjustments can help with their pain, I sometimes get the response “but it feels more muscle than joint pain, how can an adjustment help that?” People seem surprised to learn that even though the muscle may be the source of the pain, the benefit of chiropractic adjustments goes well beyond just treating joint pain. Thankfully, I have science to back that claim up.
In 2013, John Srbely and colleagues set out to study the effects of spinal adjustments on muscle pain. The researchers took 36 participants with identifiable trigger points (tender areas of muscle) in the infraspinatus muscle (in the shoulder) and the gluteus medius (in the hip). Half of the participants were given neck adjustments and the other half were given fake adjustments. Before and after the adjustments, the participants were tested with a tool called an algometer that has a blunt end for pressing into a muscle and a gauge that measures how much pressure is being applied. With that tool you press into the tender area until the participant says to stop. At that point you can see exactly how much pressure it took to cause pain and you can use that number for comparisons. What they found was that the participants who received a real adjustment were able to handle more pressure in the sensitive muscle before feeling pain than those who received a fake adjustment. As well, the participants who received the real adjustment had a significant decrease in the pain sensitivity in the shoulder muscle but not in the hip muscle.
One very important thing about pain is that it’s all in your head, literally! No, that does not mean you’re making it up, what it means is that the feeling of pain is your brain’s interpretation of what it thinks is going on in your body. What your brain tells you is going on will depend on the signal it gets from the rest of your body. A spinal adjustment will change the signals your brain receives to change the quality of the sensation you feel. In this experiment, the researchers adjusted the neck. The reason why that improved the participants’ pain thresholds is because the nerves in the neck are what supply the shoulder muscles but not the hip muscles. So the neck adjustment improved the quality of the nerves in the shoulder and thus, the researchers were able to help the participants reduce their pain.
Even though you may be suffering from muscular-type pain, chiropractic adjustments can help. Chiropractic adjustments are far more than just a tool for treating joint pain and discomfort. However, if you over-did it working in the garden on a nice weekend, pulled a muscle moving a heavy box or you’re just sore from work, chiropractic can help. Speak to your chiropractor and see for yourself just how well it can work!
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