Most people have experienced neck pain or lower back pain at some point in their lives, so we will use a spinal joint as an example as to what happens when you injure a joint.
When a joint is injured its function or movement is reduced/impaired, it becomes misaligned or gets stuck. This shift causes some of the ligaments around the joint to stretch. As the ligaments stretch the nerves in the ligament are set off, sending a signal to the brain that there is a problem in the joint. A reflex signal is then sent back to the muscles around the joint to tighten in order to protect the joint.
This process is called the Dorsal Ramus Reflex. It is the bodies way of trying to keep its self balanced and functioning as well as it can. But sometimes this actually leads to imbalances which need the help of a Doctor of Chiropractic to correct.
The Dorsal Ramus Reflex may cause pain from the stretching of the ligaments, the tightness and spasming of the muscles or it may result in no pain at all.
When you take pain medication it works by reducing the number of signals traveling between the nerves in the stretched ligaments and the brain. The underlying problem though (the misaligned joint causing the ligaments to stretch) is not treated and will remain until it is corrected or the body will adapt to this new position, which can result in imbalances.
Doctors of Chiropractic use Chiropractic adjustments to realign the joint, to improve how the joint functions, reducing the tension on the ligament causing a reduction in the pain signals up to the brain, as well as reducing the reflex signal causing the muscle spasm.
So what is the primary problem, the joint? the nerves? the ligaments? the muscles? The simple answer is, we treat them all. The Chiropractic adjustment restores the normal join function, which reduces the stretch on the ligament and therefore calms the pain signals in the ligament. Dry Needling, micro-current, cold laser and soft tissue techniques help to reduce muscle spasm. Applied Kinesiology, stretches and rehabilitation exercises help to correct any muscle and postural imbalances to help you get back in the game sooner and stay away for longer.