Blog 9: Limb conditions too! How upper cervical subluxations may be the source of arm and leg pain
Updated: May 15, 2021
While most of the patients I see present with headaches, back pain or symptoms of autonomic dysfunction, I have had several patients come to me expressly for musculoskeletal issues in their extremities. Let's look at those three cases and then explain how the UC Specific adjustment helped them. You can find related research online in the Journal of Upper Cervical Chiropractic Research or in books such as Kirk Eriksen's Upper Cervical Subluxation Complex: A Review of the Chiropractic and Medical Literature.
The first patient was a male in his mid-40s with a rotator cuff injury -- likely a low-grade tear of the infraspinatus -- which had lead to frozen shoulder as well. Rotator cuff injuries like this can happen as a result of weight lifting, which I believe was the culprit in this case -- too much weight on eccentric resistance. Frozen shoulder is the result of thickening of the joint capsule in the shoulder and usually gets worse with inactivity, which occurs during rotator cuff injuries. Again, even though all of these patients came to me specifically with arm or leg problems, UC Specific does not treat these conditions directly. UC Specific restores function.
This patient held his first adjustment several weeks and reported general feelings of well-being such as less pain, more flexibility and better sleep and mood. However, one week into care he noticed his right shoulder felt very sore and tired for about five days. If you've read my retracing post, you know that retracing is the process of healing under UC Specific care and when the body repairs areas of injury or infection, patients feel it. After those five days, the soreness and fatigue went away and his shoulder range of motion and pain levels improved dramatically even compared to his first week.
Does that mean that the infraspinatus muscle tear was now magically gone and his shoulder was completely repaired? No. But something had changed and I'll address it at the end of this post.
The next patient was a middle-aged female who had been dealing with lateral epicondylitis for about a year. Also called "tennis elbow", this condition results from inflamed muscle tendons on the outside of the elbow. Cozen's and Mill's orthopedic tests along with palpation and other indicators were positive for the condition. Immediately after her UC Specific adjustment I brought her back into the examination room and ran the tests again. As she laid on the table face-up, her eyes darted back and forth across the room. "It's gone", she said. The orthopedic tests that had been so clearly positive were now all negative. Engaging the extensor muscles on her forearm caused her no pain. Only extreme stress elicited minor discomfort. I explained to her that there was still inflammation in the area and that within the next week or two it would also go away. I saw her two more times with her condition completely resolved.
Another patient presented with either a severe MCL sprain or a low-grade tear based on orthopedic testing and history. The patient was young, fit and in his late-20s and had been unable to work for a few weeks. He couldn't bend his right knee and had a very difficult time walking. Approximately one-week post adjustment he was able to walk again and went back to work.
So how does this occur? First of all, let's make clear that some of these injuries are localized and can be severe in nature and if that is the case, then medical care and physical therapy may be necessary in resolving the issue. This is where medicine excels -- in emergency situations where intervention is obvious. And yet, as a UC Specific practitioner, my perspective is that restoring neurologic and biomechanical integrity is critical not only for proper healing but to prevent these injuries in the first place.
The medical literature describes conditions such as lateral epicondylitis as injuries of "overuse" and rotator cuff and MCL tears as more related to overload activities that stress muscles and ligaments causing them to tear or snap. However, our bodies were designed to not only move but to perform and withstand repetitive motion and arduous exercise. At some point in their lives, my lateral epicondylitis patient or tennis players or plumbers were able to perform repetitive tasks without any issues. In fact, they may have veteran colleagues who have never experienced lateral epicondylitis despite performing the same repetitive exercise. Similarly, some athletes may be able to sustain the same blow to the outside of the knee as my patient without tearing their medial collateral ligament. Some weight-lifters may not be as susceptible as others to infraspinatus tears or frozen shoulder. Why is that? Of course, these injuries can happen to anyone -- even to people who are under UC care -- but what I'm getting at is that there's likely something else going on in many of these cases that leads to these chronic conditions or creates the conditions for tears and sprains to happen.
If you've read my previous entries you know that upper cervical subluxations create a biomechanical compromise in the body. The body goes into torsion in order to keep the brain level. This creates a muscular maladaptation throughout the body which in the case of an arm may go something like this: the head's on crooked so the upper trapezius becomes tight, causing undue stress on the shoulder muscles, which in turn creates compensations down the triceps, brachioradialis and other muscles of the forearm, which results in their attachments at the elbow becoming abnormally taut, which finally leads to these becoming inflamed from repetitive motion. Similar patterns can occur into the shoulder and down the leg making us more susceptible to injuries.
Once the UC Specific adjustment is made and the compromise is removed, the labyrinthine and other tonic neck reflexes regulated by nuclei in the brainstem are able to fire and engage properly, causing a chain reaction throughout the body -- muscles relax, bones shift, ligaments and tendons slacken or tighten accordingly. And quite often pain goes away as shoulders, elbows and knees regain stability and proper biomechanics, which when impaired may lead to chronic conditions or injuries in the first place. Many times relief is instantaneous.
Of course, any injury that is severe enough in the limbs or otherwise, requires emergency care. But always count on UC Specific care to restore function to the body and help you heal and prevent injury, regardless of symptom or condition.