Franklin Chiropractor | Thoracic Joint Restrictions
About your problem. Thoracic Joint Restriction. Your spine is made up of 24 bones stacked on top of each other with a soft “disc” between each segment to allow for flexibility. Normally, each joint in your spine should move freely and independently. Our examination of your spine has shown that one or more of your spinal vertebra is slightly misaligned and restricted. We call this condition “spinal segmental joint restriction” or more simply a “subluxation.” The term “subluxation” literally means “less than a dislocation.”To help visualize this, imagine a normal spine functioning like a big spring moving freely in every direction. A spine with a joint restriction is like having a section of that spring welded together. The spring may still move as a whole, but a portion of it is no longer functioning. Joint restrictions can develop in many ways. Sometimes they are brought on by an accident or an injury. Other times, they develop from repetitive strains or poor posture. Being overweight, smoking, strenuous work, and emotional stress can make you more susceptible to problems. Restricted joints give rise to a self-perpetuating cycle of discomfort. Joint restriction causes swelling and inflammation, which triggers muscular guarding leading to more restriction. Since your spine functions as a unit, rather than as isolated pieces, a joint restriction in one area of your spine often causes “compensatory” problems in another. Think of this as a rowboat with multiple oarsmen on each side. When one rower quits, the others are placed under additional stress and can become overworked. Joint restrictions most commonly cause local tenderness and discomfort. You may notice that your range of motion is limited. Movement may increase your discomfort. Pain from a restricted joint often trickles around your rib cage or up & down your spine. Be sure to tell your Franklin chiropractor if your symptoms include any chest pain, shortness of breath, unusual cough, indigestion or flu-like complaints. Long-standing restrictions are thought to result in arthritis – much like the way a slightly misaligned wheel on your car causes premature wearing of your tire. You should recognize that your problem is common and generally treatable. Chiropractic care has been shown to be the safest and most effective treatment for joint restrictions. Your Franklin chiropractor offers several tools to help ease your pain. To speed your recovery, you should avoid activities that increase your pain. Be sure to take frequent breaks from sedentary activity. Yoga has been shown to help back pain sufferers so consider joining a class or picking up a DVD. Some Things That You Can Do to Help YourselfSleep Posture – Your mattress and the position you sleep in may affect your condition. Choose a mattress that provides medium or firm support. Your Franklin chiropractor recommends a Tempurpedic or adjustable airbed. Avoid waterbeds, thick pillow tops and soft, sagging mattresses. Always sleep on your back with a pillow either underneath your knees or on your side with a pillow between your knees. Avoid sleeping on your stomach. Keep your neck and back covered while sleeping to avoid drafts that could cause potential muscle spasms.
Exercise- Aerobic -Aerobic exercise requires your heart and lungs to work harder. Aim to get at least 20-30 minutes of exercise daily, 4-6 times per week to help prevent problems ranging from heart disease to back pain. Start off gradually, and consult your doctor to determine your appropriate level of exercise.Vary your activities to prevent overuse injuries. Examples include – Walking, swimming running, bicycling and low impact aerobics. Work out with a friend for motivation. Make sure that you are still able to talk while exercising (referred to as the “talk test”).Workstation Ergonomics -Ergonomics is the science of adjusting your workstation to minimize strain in the following ways: Maintain proper body position and alignment while sitting at your desk – Hips, knees and elbows at 90 degrees, shoulders relaxed, feet flat on floor or footrest. Wrists should not be bent while at the keyboard. Forearms and wrists should not be leaning on a hard edge. Use audio equipment that keeps you from bending your neck (i.e., Bluetooth, speakerphones, headsets). Monitors should be visible without leaning or straining and the top line of type should be 15 degrees below eye level. Use a lumber roll for lower back support. Avoid sitting on anything that would create an imbalance or uneven pressure (like your wallet). Your Franklin chiropractor recommends you take a 10-second break every 20 minutes: Micro activities include: standing, walking, or moving your head in a “plus sign”fashion. Periodically, perform the “Brugger relief position” -Position your body at the chair’s edge, feet pointed outward. Weight should be on your legs and your abdomen should be relaxed. Tilt your pelvis forward, lift your sternum, arch your back, drop your arms, and roll out your palms while squeezing your shoulders together. Take a few deep cleansing breaths. Pillow Selection -To avoid neck and upper back pain from improper neck support: Select a pillow that will hold your head in a neutral position while sleeping on your side or back. Avoid excessively thick or multiple pillows. Choose a fiberfill or feather/down pillow as these are usually better than foam. Your Franklin chiropractor has a pillow at the clinic that he highly recommends. Nutrition-Brief – The foods we eat have a dramatic impact on how we feel and our bodies will perform best with quality foods. Here are a couple of nutrition tips for better health & healing: Decrease consumption of red meat & refined carbohydrates like sugar and white flour. Choose “healthy” oils like olive or canola. Increase consumption of vegetables and fruits. Choose water over carbonated, caffeinated or calorie-laden beverages. Franklin Chiropractor
Consume six 8-oz glasses of water daily. Lifting Mechanics -Here are some tips to help you lift safely: Avoid lifting or flexing before you’ve had the chance to warm up your muscles (especially when you first awaken or after sitting or stooping for a period of time). To lift, stand close directly facing object with your feet shoulder width apart. Squat down by bending with your knees, not your back. Imagine a fluorescent light tube strapped to your head and hips when bending. Don’t “break” the tube with improper movements. Tuck your chin to help keep your spine aligned. Slowly lift by thrusting your hips forward while straightening your legs. Keep the object close to your body, within your powerzone” between your hips and chest. Do not twist your body, if you must turn while carrying an object, reposition your feet, not your torso. An alternative lifting technique for smaller objects is the golfers lift. Swing one leg directly behind you. Keep your back straight while your body leans forward. Placing one hand on your thigh or a sturdy object may help. Exercise- Resistance -Resistance exercise involves pushing and pulling against weights or resistance. Resistance exercise should be performed three to four times a week. Consider the following: Lifting lighter weights for higher repetitions (12-20) will build strength and endurance. Lifting heavier weights for fewer reps (6-10) builds strengths but increases risk of injury. Make sure that you alternate your routine between “pusher” and “puller,” muscles, ideally working them on different days. “Pushers” include: Shoulders, chest, triceps, abs, quadriceps, and calves. “Pullers” include: Biceps, back and posterior shoulder muscles and hamstrings. Always check with your doctor before starting any exercise program. Standing – To avoid extra stress on your spine while standing: Avoid high-heeled shoes or boots Use a footrest If excessive standing can’t be avoided, consider shock absorbent shoes or an anti-fatigue mat. Squatting -Depending on your form, “squatting” is a task that can be either a good exercise or a terrible agitator of your problem. A couple simple rules, that if followed correctly, can keep you squatting pain free. Before you begin, place a chair behind you as a safety stop to minimize the chance of falling. Begin with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width Hold your arms in front of you to counterbalance your weight and offset the tendency to fall backward. The primary step to squatting properly is to start by moving your hips. Imagine sitting down onto the edge of a chair. Squat down to touch your bottom to the chair without actually sitting down completely. As you squat, do not let your knees move forward over your toes. To stand up, contract your buttocks and thrust your hips forward.
Yoga -Yoga is a popular method to stretch and strengthen the body. Many people enjoy yoga and it can be performed in groups or individually. Studies suggest that yoga may help reduce chronic pain and improve your ability to walk and move. Regular yoga exercises might have other health benefits such as reducing heart rate and blood pressure, and may even help relieve anxiety and depression. Follow these yoga tips to stay healthy: If you’re new to yoga, find a reputable, experienced instructor and start with a Level I or Beginners class. Start slowly and stay within your limits; don’t feel bad if you need to slow down or skip some poses. Listen to your body and avoid any position that causes pain. Remember this is all about relaxation, not competition. Franklin chiropractor tip: Don’t compare yourself to others. Everyone has varying levels of flexibility and experience. Be patient. Like any other athletic activity, practice makes perfect (or at least better).