Few medical complaints are as common as back pain. Accordingly, one of the most common reasons a patient comes to a chiropractor like Dr. Bartoe, particularly when other medical outlets have been unable to do more than prescribe pain pills. Back pain is one of the standard issues that can be helped with chiropractic care, but sometimes back pain can go beyond misaligned vertebrae and simple muscle spasms. This is where functional neurology can come into play. Functional neurology is a technique that deals specifically with the relationship between mind and body, and it can be used to help figure out where more complex issues of back pain are coming from.
Are we saying that your back pain is all in your head? No, not at all – but your brain can have far more to do with the problem than you might think!
How Functional Neurology Can Treat Back Pain
Now, to be clear, sometimes back pain does have a very clear cause that’s located in the back. If you experience a herniated disc, that’s obviously the problem – but that’s also something a doctor can easily diagnose and treat. Functional neurology is for back pain that doesn’t have an obvious injury or physical cause in the body.
It has to do with the link between the brain and the lower back. Very small changes to how the brain is functioning- such as your awareness of where your body is in space, can have a “ripple effect” that creates back problems.
For example, our bodies have a wonderful sense of balance, and they spend a lot of time self-correcting for balance issues that we don’t notice in our daily lives. This balance is so fine-tuned that even looking in a certain direction causes almost-imperceptible changes in the small muscles that control the tilt of your head, the angle of your neck, and the bending of your spine. When you look left, your body will prepare your muscles for movement and engage small stabilizing muscles to keep you from falling over. This happens all the time, every day.
But a patient whose eyes are constantly moving around can actually be causing these muscles to be contracting all the time without even realizing it!
Chiropractors who use functional neurology can track down these subtle, hard-to-detect relationships between the brain and body that traditional medicine can overlook. Then after finding the problem, the functional neurology practitioner can rehabilitate the problem through a customized series of exercises to help the patient out of pain.