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Why Backs Fail

Sacramento Chiropractor Reveals Why Backs Fail
Dr. Gregg C. Anderson, D.C.

    I hear it all in my office!  In training to become a Sacramento chiropractor, I learned that taking a good patient history of the "chief complaint" is vital to an accurate diagnosis:  What happened?  What hurts?  How bad?  How long? Does is burn, ache, throb?  Does anything help? Etc. 

    I've got to admit, I've heard some "doozie" stories:  "I fell off the ladder."  I took a tumble off the roof."  "I skied into a pole." "I got rear-ended." "I tried to lift the..." There seem to be an endless list of major back catastrophes. 

    More often than not however, I hear stories "incredible" stories like these:  "I bent over to pick up my shoe, my back went out, and now I am in so much pain, I can't stand it."  Or "I got out of bed and by back went into spasm.  That was a week ago!"  Once I heard this one; "I leaned over while brushing my teeth, and I couldn't straighten-up. Now my leg is numb too." 

    These minimal events cause many more problems than the major traumas.  Seems crazy huh!  It does not make sense to most people how such little stresses can cause such severe problems. 

    When you understand how backs typically fail, it makes perfect sense.  I sometimes use with the following example:  Perhaps you remember the marble game called Kerplunk?  Picture a vertical clear plastic cylinder with several long colored sticks going through the sides in all directions.  Then there are a few dozen marbles sitting on top of them.

    The game requires the player to cautiously remove only one stick at a time, being careful not to let the marbles fall through.  Finally, when a player removes just one too many straws, it's Kerplunk!  Some or all of the marbles fall to the bottom and that player is the loser.  Backs go Kerplunk too.  It happens all the time and is the cause of much pain, disability and confusion. 

    The reason most backs fail is actually simple.  It is no mystery to spinal specialists.  Over the course of a lifetime, your back is subjected to numerous stresses and strains from normal activities and perhaps a few more significant injuries.  They can be minor, have little symptoms, and are usually self-limiting, meaning within a few days or weeks, the pain goes away all by itself.  

    It is important to look deep into the back to understand what that means.  Whenever there is enough stress on any joint of the back, there is some microscopic tearing of the tissue that holds you together (ligaments) and those that stabilize your back ( core muscles). 

    When there are these "sub-failure" micro-tear injuries happen, the body will initiate the normal process of inflammation.  This process involves an amazing sequence of healing chemistry that leads to the actual repair of the injured tissue.  The tissue repair is ultimately performed by specialized cells called fibroblasts. Within a few weeks, they complete the repair with what is essentially, scar tissue.

    If the injured parts are not re-aligned and mobilized during healing, this poorly adapted scar tissue can glue-up the joints and limit normal movement and function. 

    Without normal function, the deep core stabilizing muscles don't get full action as you move through your day, and like any unused muscle, they weaken and can't do their job.  This weakening is often slow and progressive. Then, just like the weakening support of the marbles as the sticks are withdrawn in the Kerplunk game, stabilization is lost and it only takes a very small stress to make your back go "Kerplunk"-more tissue damage, spasm, pain and disability. 

    I highly recommend you visit my Sacramento Chiropractic practice for an honest assessment of your Kerpunk-li-ness, and I'll help you keep all your marbles where they belong!    

Copyright Gregg C. Anderson, D.C. 2008

Sacramento Chiropractor / Why Backs Fail / Anderson Chiropractic Clinic, Inc.

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