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What Causes Back Pain: Bones or Muscles?
It is interesting that even though the chiropractic and medical communities are at odds in most things, they both buy into the idea that muscles only misbehave when induced to do so by a structural problem. The belief that hard, contracted skeletal muscle is a by-product of skeletal joint misalignment (subluxation or dislocation) is chiropractic principal; nevertheless today more and more chiropractors are turning to soft tissue work as an enhancement to their regular practices, either by performing some method of muscle manipulation on their own, or by hiring a massage therapist. They are seeking ways in which to soften, or relax muscle because of the realization and acknowledgement that skeletal adjustments are not only easier to achieve, but hold much longer when muscle is healthy.
A recent chiropractor’s advertisement stated: “Sometimes application of heat, cold, or electrical stimulation added to the treatment relaxes the spastic muscles that are compensating (emphasis added) to protect an injured or mis-aligned area, thus restoring the proper spacing and meshing between the vertebrae”. What is true is that neither heat, cold, nor electrical stimulation can relax hypertonic muscle; but at least the chiropractor realizes that relaxed muscle, should he ever encounter it, would restore proper spacing between vertebrae.
But is it true that muscle is thrown into hypertonus by an out-of-joint joint? In fact, no; it is the other way around. The skeleton does not move muscle; the muscle/tendon unit moves bone; and when muscle is grossly over-contracted, it squeezes and misaligns joints accordingly.
Thomas Griner discovered some 40 years ago that muscle is entirely capable of finding its own way into permanent over-contraction. Moreover, skeletal muscle malfunction is an extremely complicated and little understood process, as is the treatment of this serious and permanent (unless properly treated) condition. Ramifications are wide-flung; nervous, circulatory, skeletal, and neuro-endocrine systems are seriously impacted by sick, hard muscle. In fact, sick muscle creates a sick body.
Muscle is not “dumb”, just something to be cut through in order to get to the important bits such as nerve, organ, vessel, bone; in fact it is quite tricky, and when one attempts to mash or force it into submission, not only resists but fights back. Muscle may fool the unwary into believing they have prevailed because fast twitch fibers fatigue rapidly; but they come back with a vengeance in about 15 minutes, bringing the activated stretch reflex with them. Although every massage therapist learns about the stretch reflex mechanism in school; although certainly every doctor and chiropractor is intimately acquainted with this dynamic and powerful reaction to over-stretch and over-pressing, it is studiously ignored by all, to our great detriment.
It is simply not possible to force a muscle to relax through “deep tissue” work, or by stretching, or by focusing on the fascia. Skeletal muscle just doesn’t work that way, but the majority of those responsible for treating back and other muscle pain not only do not understand, but also give little significance to the function and malfunction of muscle tissue. This is cause for dismay.
If nothing else, the number of neck, back, shoulder, knee, wrist, and hip surgeries regularly performed today should serve as a red flag that something is amiss; the number of unsuccessful surgeries should have us all demanding answers. Fortunately, those answers were discovered by Thomas Griner and facilitated through the development of his limited pressure muscle spindle myotherapy, which I call “NeuroSoma®”, as well as through use of the BioPulser®, an extraordinary precision percussor invented by Griner and designed to work in the deep muscle layers using very short pulses of stimulation that do not repeat quickly enough to trigger the stretch reflex.
In an article by Griner published in Dynamic Chiropractic in January of 2000, he says:
“Proverbs are informal, common-sense truths about often-repeated errors. They act as a preliminary yardstick when evaluating whether or not a statement fits the fabric of experience. For example, we are cautioned against putting the cart before the horse. Therefore, when it is stated that “structure is primary to function”, common sense says that is like putting the passive, structural cart ahead of the active, functioning horse.
Formal conclusions fall into the realm of logical truths, and can provide a higher level of verification. Charles Darwin established a relevant truth when he said, "Function alters structure." This statement would force the conclusion that mal-structures, unless resulting from injury or abnormality, would not be etiologies, but rather signs of an underlying malfunction (even abnormalities are the sign of underlying DNA malfunctions).
My quest then was to determine what factors other than injury, toxins, or tumors could disturb muscle feedback. Although commonly held that emotional stress creates muscle tension, emotions would operate efferently (generally), not afferently (specifically). And when turning to textbooks for clues, one faces the fact that physiology and anatomy texts contain material tailored for use in the practice of medicine. But although medicine's divide-and-conquer approach to health care utilizes neurologists, cardiologists, gastroenterologists, ophthalmologists, urologists and even proctologists, there are no myologists. The skeletal muscles, which constitute more than half the mass of the human body, are orphans.
The result is a body of disconnected and sometimes contradictory information on muscle function. (Even the biochemistry books use the word "probably" when discussing muscle metabolism, and information on the function of the muscle spindle varies wildly.) My original search for answers therefore required pooling information from different sources to look for trends of information, and was not unlike piecing a jigsaw puzzle together over a period of several years.”
NeuroSoma® and the BioPulser® can successfully treat an astonishing number of muscle problems, as well as conditions not normally associated with skeletal muscle, without surgery, without drugs, using simply the information gleaned through years of focus and consequently, the healing power of our own bodies.
© 2001-2005 #1 Back Pain Site, Dr. Rick Swartzburg, D.C. @ www.1backpain.com