Pain, Chiropractic Subluxations and the Prefrontal Cortex of the Brain

Pain is a necessary function to help prevent serious injury. If we didn't perceive pain, we would cause serous tissue damage by doing things beyond our body's normal tolerances. Pain is a protective mechanism based on our experiences and it is controlled by the prefrontal cortex of the brain. The body has receptors that provide the brain with information about our body parts, including their function, movement and health. Pain can become chronic due to an adaptive response of our nervous system due to a process known as neuroplasticity. Changes to the brain due to neuroplastic adaptations are caused by our experiences. These neoplastic changes or learned adaptations of our nervous system can help us recover from injury or they can limit your ability to heal.

Many times the brain must fill in details that the body's receptor organs have not provided. This is what happens when we have vertebral subluxations. Subluxations can result in a misinterpretation of how the body is functioning which makes us more vulnerable to injury and pain. The brain can also allow our body to function abnormally because the brain does not have all of the information it needs to work at an optimum level. The brain has an incredible ability to fill in details to try and understand the environment around us and within us. Dr. Heidi Haavik is a doctor of chiropractic and a neuroscientist who wrote the book, "The Reality Check". In her book, Dr. Haavik included the following sentences that superbly illustrates how the brain fills in missing details to arrive at conclusions based on the brain's past experience. Ceoinsdr the pweor of the hmuan biran. It dsenot metatr in waht oredr the lrttees in a wrod are, the olny tihng taht is iproamtnt is the frsit and lsat ltetres are in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a tatol mses and you can sitll raed it. We can read these sentences even with the letters are scrambled as long as we have some key information.

Chronic pain is when the information is no longer informative or protective. Incongruent messages to the brain from different parts of the body can cause pain even when there is no tissue damage. Dr. Haavik has theorized that subluxations of the spine cause the brain to receive incorrect signals from the small muscles supporting the vertebra. A chiropractic adjustment stimulates receptors in these small muscles which improves the brain's awareness of how the spinal joints are functioning. The adjustments cause neuroplastic changes that affect the prefrontal cortex resulting in improved communication between the spine and the brain.The Prefrontal cortex acts like the conductor of the brain. It receives all sensory input from the body and must decide what information it should ignore and what information it should focus on. Receptors in the para spinal muscles provide the brain with data it uses to regulate the movement of the spine. Adjustments of the spine, by a doctor of chiropractic, are thought to reboot the frontal cortex of the brain to enable the brain to better understand the messages that are coming from the body. This improves the bodies ability to make adaptations which allow the body to move more symmetrically with activities like running. It also allows the body to "know " to tighten up muscles and brace the spine when a person is lifting heavy objects. We can also help to retrain the brain to decrease chronic pain by being active, improving our posture, sleeping well, eating well and getting chiropractic adjustments. Visual imagery can also be used to let the brain "understand" that some movements are not dangerous or pain inducing.Treating chronic pain requires a multipronged approach for optimal results. Your doctor of chiropractic is an expert in the treatment of acute and chronic pain such as neck pain, headaches, back pain and joint pain.

Greg L. Crawford D.C., D.A.B.C.O., Foothills Chiropractic, 1337 East Prospect Road, Fort Collins, Co 80525, (970) 493-2105

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