Thursday, November 5, 2009

Joint Function - Where's the problem?

"My neck hurts."

"My elbow hurts."

"My back hurts."

"My knee hurts."

"My head hurts."

How often have you heard or made these complaints? And how often have you thought that there was something wrong with the joint(s) in question?

Anna Shum, RKC, posted on her Facebook page "what does a stuck door and your [insert ailing body part] have in common?" with a link to Coach Mike Boyle's very insightful video that accurately explains the nebulous approach towards human aches & pains.

So much of what's put out there in terms of healthcare these days is myopic. And when the younger hotshot surgeons who get paid megabucks to do the total knee or hip replacements or other snip-shave-bolt-sew procedures for others make sure to exhaust every "alternative" option before they themselves go under the knife, that SCREAMS something loud & clear.

Let's face it.

A joint, by definition, is the meeting point of two or more bones. Bones are held together on the deepest level by ligaments, and they're buffered by things like bursa, cartilage, and synovial fluid in the joints that do the most movement.

Muscles span joints. They're the reason that bones move or don't move, depending on the neurological command executed in any given situation.

So when there's pain that seems centered on a joint, wouldn't it also be logical to do a thorough examination of the muscles & tendons that span the joint? OF COURSE!

But how often do physicians look past the X-rays & MRIs and take the time to appropriately evaluate muscle function and movement patterns with the appropriate tests & palpation? RARELY.

The most common knee-jerk replies to a patient's joint pain that I've heard far-too-often are "It's arthritis" and "Stop doing that movement and take these pills."

If arthritis is defined as an inflammatory condition in the joint, then what's the underlying cause of that inflammation? MOVEMENT! And if there's a defect in the movement, don't we need to address that?

One of the best lines I ever heard from an ortho specialist that I admire is...

"MRIs are snapshots of the body. Just as a photo can make things look disproportionate in size depending on perspective and angle, so too can an MRI or X-ray."

So unless the radiologist sees something incontrovertable, like a fracture or bony growth, how dependable is the medical imaging at portraying the situation with absolute accuracy and relevance?

That depends on the skill of the "photographer", or the imaging technician in this case.

If you're experiencing aches and pains that seem to be joint related and you're not suffering from acute trauma, deformity, or similarly serious condition, please look past the joints and pull the focus back a little. When your doctor says, "Let's schedule a surgery to have a look around in there" and the doctor's talking about your joints, that generally means that he or she isn't certain enough to bet money on. But they'll certainly bet with your money and your wellbeing.

The neuromuscular movement pattern and how it affects the skeletal system may be to blame for your discomfort!!

Look outside the box and see what the underlying cause of things might REALLY be, folks...

- The neck pain you feel may be because of T-spine strength/weakness & immobility issues.

- The knee pain may be because of weak intrinsics in your foot and poor recruitment in your hip.

- The headache may be stemming from you gritting your teeth and ducking your head every time you hear your neighbor's kids.

And once you take the time to LEARN HOW TO IDENTIFY and then RESET the movement patterns, you may find that your aches and pains are a thing of the past.


Boris said...

Great post Doc.

jockeRKC said...

A very good post Doc

SG Human Performance said...

Great post DOC! If 10 of us got MRI and Scans of our knees 5 of us would come back with some kind of diagnosis of "damage" in the knee. But all 10 of us are pain free? IF you ask me the people who are dealing with pain is the direct result of someone moving incorrectly.

Love it when someone does a lunge and says, "my knee hurts" then after one cue I have them lunge again and their pain disappears!