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Commonly muscular pain is talked about when a person considers their pain to be a non serious pain. However muscle pain can be intense, constant, long lasting, and out of proportion with the severity of actual tissue damage.
One component of muscular injury is hypo-perfusion of blood. Anything that can cause a reduction of blood to the muscle can give rise to pain. This could be a magnesium to calcium ratio imbalance, a short term increase in muscle use, normal regeneration of muscle tissue (we break down and build muscle every day), exercise induced break down and build up of muscular tissue (over done it or DOMS), poor posture, or disuse atrophy (yes doing nothing can give rise to a pain experience!).
Mechanisms of Myofascial Pain were further elaborated in a recent paper (1). In which trigger points were talked about. I have worked to understand trigger points for the last 20 years, including seeing a paper written by an Orthopeadic Surgeon in a prominent Journal that trigger points do not exist. If I find a prominent point that triggers pain then I’ll call it a trigger point, controversially, even when no twitch response exists. Trigger points are well established in their pain referral. A quick Google and you’ll see the images of where muscles can refer their pain.
When looking to resolve muscular pain approaches of paracetamol, ibuprofen, codeine, capsaicin amongst others are all products to help you cover up the experience of having pain. A Chiropractor may be able to offer a muscle a way of not only resolving the cause of muscular dysfunction and hypo perfusion but also to aid the rehabilitation of training your muscles to ‘centrate’ around your joints. AKA Muscular Balance. If you believe you have muscular pain and it has lasted more than 3 days then consulting with a Chiropractor may be just what your body ordered. Before you get used to it and your symptoms die away anyway. Leaving you thinking that you’ve gotten over the issue yet future re-occurrences will inform you that you did not.
The question to ask yourself is when my muscle pain symptoms ‘settle down’ have I gotten used to it or have I healed it? The phenomenon is called ‘accommodation’ in Neurology. Accommodation is what happens when you are in a bad smell- you get used to it, and it is, as if the bad smell had gone away…
(1) Saleet-Jafri, M (2014). Mechanisms of Myofascial Pain, A Review Article. doi: 10.1155/2014/523924
Morning stiffness can change with age! The stiffness I refer to is of joints and muscles, the commonly accepted symptom of ageing, that doesn’t make sense from a purely chronological perspective.
Muscles and joints can become stiff for many reasons (see last post). One of those reasons is linked with the activity of the immune system. I’m sure being stiff and achy in muscles and joints during a bout of influenza is a common experience that most adults will have known at some point in their life. Here’s the science. When I become sick the autonomic nervous system up-regulates activating smooth muscles in fascia. As a consequence of the smooth muscle activity fascia restricts muscular activity preventing full range of joint movement. Stiffening fascia also produces TGF-B1, which increases T cells, a type of white blood cell, aka the soldiers of the immune system.
Immune system soldiers are mobilised during the defense to something in the (inner or outer) environment (perceived and/or real).
Your Chiropractor’s job, when you are under the weather, is to know the likely source of muscle and joint stiffness and to check your muscles and joints have returned to their most efficient normal once your ‘influenza’ or illness has passed. It is possible for your muscles and joints to stay stiff after your immune system has switched off the defense.
A Chiropractor can re-boot your muscular tone and your joint mechanics helping your muscles and joints to healthily communicate with your brain. Lessening the phenomenon where your muscles and joints learn to have a stiffer and stiffer normal over time. An accumulated progression or adaptation.
Yes there really is a muscular component to an immune response. Whilst your chiropractor can’t magically cure your illness they can help you with the muscle and joint component to what you are going through.
Thought has been described as neural activity in the human brain. All brain activity is not thought, just certain (brain) neuron interaction is considered individual thought. If thought is the interaction of nerves in the human brain, then when we change thinking patterns, we are also changing the way neurons interact in our central nervous system.
A particular type of thought; metaphorical thought is particularly influential over the interaction of brain neurons. When a person exclaims that their back has gone – where did it go? Normally the person’s back is exactly where it previously was, so what has changed? The metaphor of a back ‘going’ describes the human experience of having a body as seen by a human brain. An experience that relies upon the spinal communication from the body to our brain and confirmation from brain to body. The back can diminish or disappear from the map of the body in the brain. That aside… If I think my back is there then it is not, I will change the interaction of the neurons in my brain, about my back, giving the impression that my back has ‘gone’.
When I alter my metaphorical thought/ ideas/ perspectives I will change the chemicals at my nerve synapses. Chemicals are molecules and molecules are physical entities. Thus sustaining a change of chemistry in a physiological system will end up with a physical change first, in the type of molecules found at nerve synapses.
A change in molecular uptake in the brain will result in different neurons downstream becoming active. What fires together wires together. Thus we begin neuroplasticity; the changing of our brain’s ‘neural net’. A physical rewiring of the human brain over time.
In the human body it takes 4 months for people to learn new muscular co-ordination and unlearn their old pattern of muscular firing / activity. Physical change in musculature has been shown to occur in just 6 weeks from thought alone – no exercise or movement required! A change in muscle mass then must lead onto a change in muscular co-ordination, (Firing) as we continue along the same thought path.
If you enjoy the idea of facilitating a desired change in your body start with your thoughts about your body e.g. What does my body mean about me? Do I have a good body? Am I in a position of freedom in my life circumstances? Is my view of my body in anyway compatible with my relationship with food?…
When you are a can do-er working through discomfort can be a part of your life. Pushing the envelope to grow toward your potential is commendable and I thoroughly recommend it. When you do work through a discomfort (or a pain) you can psychologically move to a new normal; no problem. Psychologically we have no boundaries. Physically we do; the most obvious being your skin less obvious being dysafferentation.
Due to the lack of knowledge that humans have about a human body we humans can sometimes create more problems than we solve when we push through it once. When we push through it more than once we can accumulate (learn bad habits) errors. As we move with error we abnormally load our body tissues. Abnormal loading of body tissues leads to degeneration. Normally loaded tissues last a lifetime. If you are broadening your horizons your body might just thank you now for regularly taking it to Fascia First Chiropractic. Your psychology can thank you later as you enjoy your body for years longer. This is of course my opinion but here’s a little of the why:
- The fascia of the human body talks to the brain telling it where and how your body is.
- The superficial fascia is densely packed with pain fibres.
- Fascia is the reason (not muscle tissue) why you get D.O.M.S. (delayed onset muscle soreness) after exercise.
- Fascia has more free nerve endings in it than your eyes; so the potential for pain is very high.
- Under abnormal loading fascia can grow in on itself creating an ‘in-growth’ of highly pain sensitive tissue. Perhaps how something seems to ‘go’ without due provocation.
- The fascia is responsible for housing nerves. The nerve sheath is innervated by the nervi nervorum and could be the cause of ‘nerve’ pain. Fascia can also mimic muscle pain….
- Increased adrenergic signalling in the fascia leads to a vasoconstriction of blood vessels slowing up nutrient delivery to your fascia. This could worsen an immune condition, a pain syndrome or a symptom that seems to be ‘stress related’.
- Autonomic tone can change fascial stiffness; When you are stressed your autonomic tone will change as will the stiffness of your fascia (body). This stiffness needs to be balanced not just worked out.
- The fascia feeds information into your insula nucleus in your limbic brain about the pH, temperature and ion content of your connective tissue. Your limbic system can alter your ability to handle stress, socially interact well, and alter your sensitivity to fear and pain.
- An immune response can also stiffen your fascia through a marker known as TGF-B1. Think of how you might stiffen up and get achy when you have a bad bout of the flu. Yes it needs balancing out afterward. An autoimmune condition is when you are stuck in a constant immune response and an allergy is an immune response to a given irritant.
Fascia First Chiropractic is more than a quick click. Fascia is behind the rate at which you are currently stiffening (ageing) over time.
Source: Tozzi P. (2015) Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies 19 310-326.
Stroll under the Skin A you tube video where you can see and learn more about fascia.
when working with the body to get a message across body workers can often use didactic information which without prior knowledge, in detail, of a profession like Chiropractic, an outside of Chiropractic scientist may scorn at the turn of phrase used – e.g. fascia has memory or your emotions are stored in your fascia. Scorn away!
Due to the didactic information, as every educator on the planet will know, we need to tell lies to improve our communication, we need to express what isn’t true so that we may teach others what is true, to the level of their attention. Fascia is an extension of the skin between the muscles and the tendons, giving us a thicker skin or a second skin. An emotional trauma can affect the body: For example you are prone to anger bursts, anger is our emotion and kidney or stomach fascia is our targetted tissue.
Feeling the (usually right) kidney area and or the stomach area is easy to feel to a body worker trained in visceral manipulation. The left kidney in function is tied up in the reproductive system. How many of you will feel the difference of your visceral tissues from one day to the next?
The fascia is whitish in colour and thus has a poor blood supply, when a bout of anger hits the body tissue relative will tense, sometime we do not know our own strength and will break something when we are angry; the same happens to our fascia our muscular contraction or body contortion is so much that we create micro trauma to our tissues. Fascia will heal itself when we apply the correct forces across it. Once we have injured the fascia we will inherently move away from the tissues weakness and avoid applying forces that heal the body tissues naturally. This can lead to something as simple as oesophageal reflux, flank pain due to referred kidney pain without any physiological tests found positive or something a little more esoteric like have recurrent nightmares / terrors.
Thus the fascia does not heal and it seems as if the tissue has a memory as it does not change from the day you microtraumord it. The fascia looses it elasticity as part of applying a normal force across fascia is to stimulate the laying down of new ealstin and MG ion cross links. The micro movement nuance is missing from your body useage and the tissue is destined not to heal, leading ultimately to an ulcer formation, achalasis or perhaps needing hypertension medication or developing osteoporosis.
Simply noticing through a regime of working to get to know your body such as the chinese systems of qi gong allows us to be able to detect, as in get to know, the energy, the physical ease, your cognitive application and your balance of emotion within your body. Once we know these things we can regularly access information on them and know when they are not correct. Seeking the appriopriate helap of a body worker of of a psychotherapist when we need it. Utilising medication to cover up symptoms if you really need to, initially. Ultimately the problems or pain we face can be resolved before we get to pain. Pain tells you you are ignoring you… why then do we first reach for medication to cover up what we feel????
The classic example of somebody having a restriction in their flexibility and they feel it at the back of the legs is thought to mean tight hamstrings. Yet in a fascial model of the body the TFL muscle is actually under about twice the strain that the hamstring muscles are under during a straight leg raise. The most obvious place to consider changing would be the side of the leg in tight hamstrings and not the back of the leg where it is felt! The fascial connections of the thigh are complex and numerous; for example in clinical practice I have ‘worked’ on the adductor muscle of the lesser affected leg and gained 20-25 degrees of extra flexibility in a straight leg raise of the more affected leg.
Having the view that my problem is where I feel it is a difficult concept for most to let go of. Sometimes where you feel it does not need to be changed. Where you don’t feel it does! Having an in depth knowledge of anatomy and understanding human movement and how tissues interact within the human body is essential to truly get to the root of a musculoskeletal problem.
Training such as in a Chiropractic degree (undergraduate Masters) is ideal to start to see the root causes of a problem within the human body. When the human body is not able to change in a certain place, the body compensates and thus moves the symptom, yet the root cause is still the same; there is just a longer more complex chain of events that exist once a compensation occurs. Addressing the fascia before any adjustments is my strategy in clinical treatment. This way I am able to work through the layers of compensation until I find the root cause. Step one for you with tight hamstrings is to come to terms that the root cause is most likely (if you’ve had the problem for more than 5 days) somewhere else (in my opinion) than the back of your leg. Psychologically speaking if you keep on putting your problem to the back of your legs you will in fact keep a problem at the back of your legs! When seeking help from a Chiropractor it can be useful to look up the conditions that have evidence behind them.