Spinal Health Explained

It is reported that 90% of people seek out healthcare based on pain but our experience has generally taught us that pain is the last thing to show unless there is an accident or acute situation to cause the pain. In the time leading up to the pain, the situation can be prevented in many cases.

What do you look for in a healthy spine?

Dr. Dennis Cronk: Healthy spines should be aligned properly in a way that we check people’s postures and make sure their head is over the shoulders, the shoulders over the hips and hips are over the knees in the seat. From proper alignment perspective, we then check for proper range of motion because the spine is functional. It needs to move, it needs to support the body’s weight. Through that, we’re looking for full range of the motion with any movement that a patient may be attempting. Through that process, we’re able to pick up 80% of the problems just from observation and a hands-on exam. Then we would also look through x-rays to see if there is any wear and tear, common things like disc degeneration, arthritis, things that will help determine the health of the spine at that point.

What warning signs (besides the obvious) tell that something may be unhealthy with a spine?

Dr. Dennis Cronk: For most people, I just mentioned the obvious is 90% of the people will seek out healthcare based on pain but our experience has generally taught us that pain is the last thing to show unless you’re in an obvious accident situation or acute situation. Some of the signs that may show up over time that a patient may not be aware of is slow loss of movement or range of motion or ability to do functions or activities that they used to be able to do easily before in their life. We may get people and we check the range of motion with their neck and we’ll say turn to the left or the right. Basically what they do is they turn their whole upper body and see over their shoulder left or right. Once they start getting adjusted and they start to get more motion in the spine, which indicates they’re starting to regain normal function, they’ll actually say stuff like, “Hey, I was able to turn my head to look around backing the car up the other day!” Which is for other obvious reasons is a pretty important function to do. That’s pretty simply put at that point.

How does a healthy spine promote overall good health?

Dr. Dennis Cronk: Well, not only does it add benefits to your life being able to function and move and enjoy your activities of life, the more obvious function of the spine is to protect your nervous system. Your nervous system consists of your brain, the spinal cord that extends down into the lumbar region and then actually nerves that go to every cell in your body. One of the common things the chiropractic and the nervous system is … If the bone is out of place, even a little bit or stuck in neutral, it will irritate your nervous system. The importance of your nervous system can’t be underestimated. Just ask anyone generally how important you think your nervous system is. They’ll defer that it’s pretty important.

Any interference whatsoever to your nervous system can interfere or affect the way your body functions on a healthy basis or even a sick basis, day to day. By getting adjusted you’re able to clear out the nervous system. By teaching people how to take care of the cells through stretching and exercising, they’re able to help promote a healthy spine for the duration of their life.

Is there a stretch or exercise that promotes a healthy spine?

Dr. Karyn Marshall: I would say there’s not a stretch or exercise but stretching and exercise helps to promote a healthy spine. I think one of the biggest problems that we have in this country is that we sit. We sit for extended periods of time in a forward flexed position as you can see someone working at a computer or looking at their smartphone or reading or driving. We’re just doing excessive amounts of sitting. The human body is meant to move. It’s meant to exercise. It’s meant to stretch. It’s meant to have a capacity. That movement is life. That movement allows your body and your spine and your nervous system to function the way it’s meant to function. As we sit, we get stuck. We get tight and that is when loads and stress get put on the body and the spine.

Besides getting adjusted, we encourage all of our patients of all ages to get out and move and stretch to their ability to the extent that they can. We have patients in their nineties, we have patients that are newborns. Then we have patients that are world-class athletes. In between there, what stretching and exercising is to each one of those is very different but stretching and exercise is an important part of life.

Why do spines need to be checked routinely?

Dr. Dennis Cronk: Well, as we mentioned before, pain is usually the last thing to show and the first to go as someone starts to heal. To use pain as an indicator whether your spine is healthy or not or whether you have a problem or not, or just in general if your health is better or not, you’ll probably miss most of the problems, especially from the onset of those problems. Getting your spine checked routinely over the course of every week or every month can help prevent some of the more acute situations as well as the common product problems that may develop over time. That’s about it.

If you’re interested in speaking with Dr. Karyn Marshall and Dr. Dennis Cronk, visit www.ChampionChiro.com or call 732-741-1000 to schedule an appointment.

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