Where Does Good Balance and Coordination Come From? Introduction to Your Proprioceptive System

Proprioception is a complex system of anatomical checks and balances, neural impulses, and brain functions that controls our sense of balance, coordination, and agility. Put most simply, proprioception is the “sixth sense” that enables you to scratch your head without looking in a mirror or climb a flight of stairs without having to look at each step.

Most of us are so accustomed to proprioception that we take it for granted. Its development starts soon after we are born and is observed in infants as soon as they gain control of their neck muscles. When the infant’s body tilts in any direction, its head also tilts in the opposite direction to level its eyes with the horizon. This “righting reflex” is the beginning of our sense of balance.

chiropractor in Wilmington NC

More technically, proprioception is your body’s ability to transmit a sense of its position in space, analyze that information, and react—either consciously or unconsciously—to stimuli with the proper movement and force. Proprioceptors are a specialized type of motor and sensory nerve that transmits impulses to the central nervous system (in particular, the area of the brain known as the cerebellum) from stimuli felt by the muscles, tendons, joints, and skin. The impulses transmitted by proprioceptors contain vital information, such as the amount of tension in a particular muscle and the relative position of a body part when it is moving.

Proprioception is what enables you to reach for a glass and actually find it in space. It is also what allows you to pick up the glass with just the right amount of force, neither dropping it nor breaking it by squeezing too hard. Proprioception is what enables you to keep your balance when walking on uneven surfaces or when riding a bicycle. The impulses from proprioception combine with input received from the vestibular system (the fluid-filled network in the inner ear that enables us to feel the pull of gravity and know which direction is “up”) and with input from the visual system to create our sense of balance.

However, just as our eyes become weaker with age, so can the proprioceptive system, leading to a loss of proper balance. This is one of the reasons that falling is the number one cause of hospital admissions for people over 60. Something has gone wrong with the complex processing of information needed to maintain their balance, so older people are more likely to slip and fall on stairs or on slippery sidewalks and injure themselves.

Fortunately, you can strengthen your proprioceptive system by practicing simple balance exercises, thus keeping keep your sense of balance from weakening as you grow older. There are many forms of inexpensive exercise equipment (such as BOSU or Bongo Boards) that enable you to stand on a platform that is designed to be wobbly. This instability forces your muscles and your proprioceptive system to work more, and thus become stronger. So if you are over the age of 50, you should consider speaking to your chiropractor about exercises to improve your proprioception. They are very simple but can greatly improve your overall sense of balance, therefore significantly reducing your risk of injury from falls as you grow older.

Contact Southeastern Healthcare for a Chiropractor in Wilmington NC!

If you need a chiropractor in Wilmington NC, contact Southeastern Healthcare today! Schedule an appointment for a free consultation to see how we can help solve your pain.

A Parent’s Guide to Chiropractic for Kids

A growing number of families in the U.S.—both parents and children—are discovering the benefits of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), including chiropractic care.  The good news is that you’re never too young or too old to benefit from the types of therapies a skilled chiropractic physician can provide.  Today’s chiropractors generally have the training and experience to work with patients from early childhood through to advanced age.  However, some practitioners also choose to focus on the unique needs of specific types of patients.

How Children May Benefit From Chiropractic Care

As children enter school, they begin interacting with other adults and kids in a completely different kind of setting outside the family home.  This means that they’re exposed to a variety of new environmental and behavioral factors that can threaten their spine and nervous system health.  From poor sitting posture in the classroom to heavy backpacks in the hallways, rough-housing on the playground and electronics use on the bus ride home, there are a variety of new health risks.  Chiropractic care can help address these sorts of risks as well as others that may seem less obvious.

For instance, there is evidence that chiropractic care may help prevent or relieve many common cold and allergy symptoms, including sneezing, coughing and itching or watery eyes.  This is not to say that a visit to the chiropractor will “cure” the common cold or that the underlying illness will be eliminated, even temporarily.  However, the research suggests that spinal manipulation and other therapies frequently used by the chiropractor may help to strengthen a child’s immune system over time.

Treating Infants

Chiropractic treatments are tailored to every child according to their specific circumstances, including their height and weight.  There is no minimum age for receiving chiropractic care, and even newborns may safely benefit.  In fact, chiropractic care is encouraged for babies as a chiropractic physician may be able to detect spinal problems that could lead to colic, ear infection or asthma.  Early detection may help prevent the development of these conditions and other complications while also improving a young patient’s quality of life.

Communicating with Members of Your Child’s Healthcare Team

As both adults and children are turning to alternative medicine as a way to prevent or treat common ailments, there is an increasing need for patients (or their parents) to communicate effectively with members of an expanded healthcare team.   In most cases, your child’s primary care doctor (usually a pediatrician, general practitioner or chiropractic physician) will play a key role in coordinating care.  Remember that a good chiropractor will always tell you when a particular condition may be outside his or her scope of practice and will refer you to other specialists as appropriate.

Many chiropractors who specialize in pediatrics are members of the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association (ICPA) and have completed postgraduate courses that focus on the care of pregnant mothers, infants and children.  The ICPA is a non-profit organization that was founded in 1986 by Larry Webster, DC.  The association offers advanced training workshops and seminars for healthcare professionals in addition to its chiropractic certification.  It also has a referral service for parents and publishes a wide variety of materials designed to educate the general public about chiropractic medicine for both children and adults.

Studies have shown that children who visit the chiropractor on a regular basis are likely to grow up with better posture and have fewer illnesses than their classmates.  If you’d like to find out more about children and chiropractic care, please ask us.  We are here to help!

Automobile Safety Tip: Driver’s Seat Position

As anyone who has a long commute to work or drives for a living can tell you, driving can take a toll on your body, especially your back!

Being behind the wheel for extended periods of time can put a lot of stress on the spine, since the normal lumbar curve can easily be affected the typical driving position.  Add to that the bumping and jostling from traveling over uneven road surfaces and speed bumps and you’ve got a recipe for back pain.  Following are a few tips that will help you minimize the risk of recurring or chronic back pain by adjusting your driver’s seat to the optimal placement for driving.

  1. Position yourself properly in the seat.  To do this, ensure that you are sitting as far back in the seat as possible, so that your buttocks are almost wedged between the bottom cushion and the seat back.
  2. Adjust the distance between the seat and steering wheel.  Move the seat forward so you can fully depress both the brake and (if necessary) the clutch, while still keeping your knees slightly bent.  Your leg should ideally maintain an angle of approximately 120 degrees.  If your leg is either too straight or at a 90-degree angle, your seat needs to be moved either closer or further back.
  3. Adjust the tilt of the seat.  Tilt your seat forward or backward until you feel that your leg from hip to knee is fully supported while having your foot on the gas pedal, without feeling that the seat is pressing uncomfortably into the back of your leg.
  4. Adjust the back of the seat.  Your seat should be at an angle that fully supports the length of your back.  It should not be reclined too far, as this can cause you to have to bend your head and neck forward at an angle in order to see the road ahead.
  5. Move the steering wheel.  You should move the steering wheel toward you until it is close enough for your hands to reach the standard 10 and 2 position, while keeping your arms slightly bent.  Having it too close can be dangerous in an accident, but you also don’t want it so far away that you are straining to reach it.  It should be tilted at an angle so your hands are just a little lower than your shoulders while resting on the wheel.
  6. Adjust the head restraint.  The bottom of the head restraint should be level with the base of your skull and should be about an inch from your head while driving in order to help prevent whiplash in the event of an accident.

If your car has a lumbar support feature, adjust it so it supports the lumbar area without pressing into your back. If you don’t have this feature, one or two rolled towels can be used to support the lumbar area.

Try to be sure your knee does not drop to the side while you drive, since this can cause some aggravation to the nerves in the lower back, which can in turn lead to pain in the hip, knee and foot.  Pull your knee in to keep it in line with your body.

If you’re the primary (or only) driver of a vehicle, many of these adjustments need to be made only once.  For the small investment of a few minutes of your time, you can reduce your risk of recurring or chronic back and neck pain.  Trust us, your back and neck will thank you!

Contact Southeastern Healthcare for Back or Neck Pain Relief!

Seeing a chiropractor for neck or back pain is a good idea, since he or she can help identify injuries and start treatment promptly. If you have neck or back pain Wilmington NC, contact Southeastern Healthcare today! Schedule an appointment for a free consultation to see how we can help solve your pain.

Look Who Else Uses Chiropractic Care: Water Polo Players

back painAlthough it may not seem like it, water polo is a very physically demanding sport. Its players are required to spend an hour and fifteen minutes in a pool, during which they cover a distance of as much as three kilometers. There is a good deal of physical contact above and below water. In addition, teammates must shoot and pass the ball without the benefit of contact with the ground to help generate force in the upper body.

US Men’s Water Polo Player

The current US Men’s Water Polo team goal keeper, Merrill Moses, attributes much of the team’s success to the benefits they get from chiropractic care and their chiropractor Dr. Terry Schroeder. According to Merrill, “I can honestly say that without chiropractic, many Olympic athletes would not be able to perform to their potential. We take such a pounding on our bodies, especially in water polo, because it’s a contact sport. I like to get a chiropractic adjustment everyday just to keep my body healthy.”

US Olympic Water Polo Team Coach

Dr. Schroeder, coach of the US Olympic Water Polo team, was himself a water polo captain and helped the US win medals in the 1984, 1988 and 1992 Olympic Games. In 1998 he was inducted into the USA Water Polo Hall of Fame.

Schroeder says, “Athletes know that the difference between winning and losing can be a matter of fractions. When looking for that edge, chiropractic often makes all the difference.” Schroeder adds, “I believe that chiropractic is going to continue to be of growing importance in the Olympic world.”

Upper body injuries are common among water polo players, particularly rotator cuff injuries and other types of shoulder pain. “Every guy I think on our Olympic team was being adjusted pretty regularly,” said Schroeder. “Some of them were a little bit slower to come on board… but as they saw the other guys kind of respond and said ‘Man my shoulder feels so much better, my neck feels so much better’ – one by one they all said ‘Maybe you can help me out. Maybe I’m going to perform a little better too.’”

Schroeder is continuing in a long chiropractic tradition. His grandfather and father were both chiropractors. “I grew up seeing people arrive at my dad’s office in pain and then watching them come out with a smile,” Schroeder says. “I’ve never taken an aspirin or had a shot. I’ve always had chiropractic care as primary care, and I believe I’m in balance, that my immune system is better for it. I’m not saying there’s no place for surgery, but the body will take care of itself if you let it.”

“Chiropractic has played a huge role in keeping me healthy – I’m the only four-time Olympian in the sport of water polo in the United States.” Schroeder added, “I won two silver medals as an athlete and now I came back with a silver medal as a coach. My gold medal in my life is chiropractic.”

Contact Southeastern Healthcare to Schedule Your Appointment Today!

If you’re looking for a proven, non-invasive way for neck or back pain relief, Southeastern’s team of experienced chiropractors can help. We treat patients like you every single day. All it takes is one visit to discover for yourself the benefits of chiropractic care.

Stop living in pain; call Southeastern Healthcare today at 910-208-6720 to schedule an appointment with one of our experienced and caring Wilmington NC back pain chiropractors. We are here for you. With six locations throughout the Wilmington area, we have an office conveniently close to you.

 

Most Common Auto Injuries Explained

Stationary Vehiclesauto accident injury Wilmington NC

Perhaps the most frequent injury involving automobiles comes from closing the door. Nearly 150,000 times a year, someone is injured in this fashion, and that’s with the car parked or stationary. This includes doors closing on fingers. Another 10,000 are injured by using a jack and 74,000 have been injured by a car or car part falling on them.

Moving Vehicles

But cars also move. Roughly one third of auto-related injuries occur due to an automobile striking someone, particularly pedestrians and bicyclists. Injuries can include anything from simple scrapes to multiple broken bones, dislocated vertebrae and damaged internal organs.

A Forbes magazine article noted that researchers from the US Department of Transportation “estimated an annual total of 1,747 fatalities and 841,000 injuries due to non-traffic crashes and non-crash incidents.” These included back-overs and single-car collisions not on a highway.

What Can Happen?

During a collision, passengers can be thrown about within the car, or be ejected from the vehicle (particularly if not wearing a seatbelt), causing significant injuries. One of the most serious of these is called traumatic brain injury (TBI). This is when the brain becomes bruised or otherwise injured. This can happen when the head is forced into rapid acceleration and/or deceleration from impact with other objects, such as a windshield, the body of the car or objects outside of the car. Such brain injuries can result in brain function impairment or even death.

Why You Need a Chiropractor for an Auto Accident Injury in Wilmington NC

Neck injuries include whiplash and vertebrae disk damage. These can result in a range of effects from persistent, long-term discomfort to debilitating pain and even immobility. Whiplash is perhaps the most common malady, which happens when the neck snaps quickly backward (during acceleration), then forward (during deceleration), causing hyperflexion and hyperextension of the cervical vertebrae. After an accident, the victim may be unaware of any damage, but may experience headaches or neck stiffness hours or days later.

A chiropractor can recognize this kind of damage using a variety of diagnostic tests with and can treat it with multiple adjustments, massage therapy and repetitive exercises performed by the patient at home. The chiropractor may even recommend a traction weight bag to help the neck return to its natural curve. Sometimes the damage is permanent, but treatment can reduce the discomfort and decrease in range of motion that might otherwise plague the patient.

Damage anywhere along the spine can occur during a car accident. This type of injury can range from mild to life-threatening. Dislocated vertebrae can result in excruciating pain that can lead to tight back muscles which intensify the problem. Physical therapy and chiropractic adjustments can help return the patient to health. Rehabilitative therapy can also include hot packs, massage, cold packs, traction, ultrasound, electrical stimulation and other methods.

Contact Southeastern Healthcare for an Auto Accident Injury Wilmington NC

If you have an auto accident injury Wilmington NC, contact Southeastern Healthcare today! Schedule an appointment for a free consultation to see how we can help solve your pain.

What is “Radiating Pain” and How Can Chiropractic Help?

back pain chiropractorIf you have ever had a case of sciatica, in which pain seems to start in your lower back or hip and radiate down your leg to your foot, you have suffered an example of what is referred to as “radiating pain.” The medical term for pain the starts in one area and travels to another is radiculitis, and although it is not the most common form of nerve pain, it causes a lot of misery for those who suffer from it.

What is Radiating Pain?

True radiating pain is usually the result of a nerve or nerve root in the spinal cord being subject to pressure of some sort, whether through inflammation, injury or spinal subluxation. For example, a herniated disk may create radiating pain because it has bulged out of its normal place and may impinge on a nerve root extending from the spinal cord.

The nerves that run the length of the spinal cord from neck to tailbone and branch out to the left and right are called the radicular nerves. When these are injured or compressed they are more likely to radiate pain than the other types of nerves in our body. If there is a neck injury, for example, pain may radiate down the arm to the fingertips. The pain of something like tendonitis, however, is from pressure on the nerves in the elbow and forearm and does not generally radiate. Some people think they have radiating pain, but the pain is instead often just due to myofascial trigger points that cause a more diffuse pain that seems to radiate out from one area. This is caused by tense muscles and scar tissue that has built up trapping nerves in the muscles, tendons and ligaments.

Why Use a Chiropractor for Back Pain?

Chiropractors are expert at treating radiating pain. Your chiropractor will first take a thorough history, examine you, and may order diagnostic tests such as an x-ray or an MRI to determine if your problem may be due to a herniated disc, spinal stenosis or another condition that is not apparent from a physical examination.

A chiropractic adjustment can address any spinal misalignments that may be impinging on spinal nerves, taking the pressure off the nerve and reducing pain. In addition, many chiropractors utilize additional therapies that can free trapped nerves, such as the Active Release Technique (ART). A chiropractic ART therapist will be able to break up the fibrous adhesions and scar tissue that has built up in the soft tissue, freeing trapped nerves.

Contact Southeastern Healthcare for a Back Pain Chiropractor!

If you’re looking for a proven, non-invasive way for back pain relief, Southeastern’s team of experienced back pain chiropractors can help. We treat patients like you every single day. All it takes is one visit to discover for yourself the benefits of chiropractic care.

Stop living in pain; call Southeastern Healthcare today at 910-202-4341 to schedule an appointment with one of our experienced and caring Wilmington NC back pain chiropractor. We are here for you. With six locations throughout the Wilmington area, we have an office conveniently close to you.

What’s the Difference Between an MD and a DC?

It’s important to know the basic differences between an MD (Medical Doctor) and a DC (Doctor of Chiropractic) so that you understand the unique role that each type of medical professional plays in helping you to maintain or regain your health.

Differences Between MDs and DCs

MDs and DCs are both licensed healthcare providers. They examine, diagnose and treat patients. However, most MDs have more hours of training in physiology, whereas DCs typically have more hours of anatomy training. Their methods of practice may help explain this difference in emphasis. DCs are experts in musculoskeletal health and general wellness. Like an MD, a DC will use diagnostic imaging, lab tests, clinical exams and questionnaires to determine a diagnosis, but the course of treatment will be different. MDs tend to prescribe pharmaceuticals and surgery to treat patients, whereas DCs use a more holistic approach involving a variety of hands-on treatments as well as advice on diet and exercise.

Office Visits

Office visits are also often quite different experiences. On a typical visit to an MD, you will likely be asked by a nurse or assistant to fill out paperwork and provide information about your condition. Then the MD will visit you, look at the information, perhaps perform a brief clinical examination, and quickly prescribe a treatment. In the course of doing this, most doctors will take only a small amount of time to understand your overall health picture. And treatment will usually involve drugs and/or medical procedures.

Relationships

It is not uncommon for patients to have a more personal relationship with their DC than with their MD. Visits to a DC also tend to be more involved. The chiropractor will speak with you at length about not only your physical symptoms, but your lifestyle habits as well. He or she will examine you, perform any necessary tests, discuss possible treatment options, and provide appropriate manual therapies. Together, these treatment methods are sometimes referred to as “physical medicine”.  These may include targeted spinal adjustments, therapeutic massage, disc decompression, laser therapy, electrical stimulation and hot and cold treatments as well as structured exercise and stretching programs. In addition, the chiropractor may also make specific suggestions about your nutrition, day-to-day environment and physical activity.

In general, musculoskeletal problems (particularly those related to back, neck and joint pain) are better treated by a DC. However, many chiropractors have also developed specialized expertise in other areas as well. DCs will refer you to an MD if they believe that diagnosing and treating your specific condition is beyond their scope of practice.

Looking for Back or Neck Pain Relief? Call Southeastern Today!

If you’re looking for a proven, non-invasive way for back or neck pain relief, Southeastern’s team of experienced chiropractors can help. We treat patients like you every single day. All it takes is one visit to discover for yourself the benefits of chiropractic care.

Stop living in pain; call Southeastern Healthcare today at 910-202-4341 to schedule an appointment with one of our experienced and caring Wilmington NC back pain chiropractors. We are here for you. With six locations throughout the Wilmington area, we have an office conveniently close to you.