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Lest we forget - how the brain & body learns from its experiences

It’s a cool Autumn morning, you are peacefully examining the dark corners of the back of you eyelids when BAM!!!! your alarm starts screeching at you. Your first instinct is to use the large squirt of adrenaline your adrenal glands have just given you and to fight whatever monster is in your room. But slowly your brain kicks in with some rational thoughts and you remember you set your alarm for “dumb dumb o’clock” so as to make your annual pilgrimage under the cover of darkness to Kings Park for the ANZAC Day Dawn Service. Each and every year you, together with your family, offer this small but significant mark of respect to those who have and are currently protecting our country. It is at this time every year you hope that we, both as a nation and as a global society, have learnt from our past mistakes and will never allow the world to descend into such horrors as global conflicts ever again.

As the Dawn Service comes to a conclusion for another year and you begin the chaotic task of finding your car and extricating yourself from the masses of people in and around Kings Park, you are walking with your father and he is complaining about his recurrent lower back pain. He is especially struggling on this early morning and he explains that not only does it seem that no one is able to help him, but his low back pain gets irritated by the most insignificant of activities. His medical doctor just appears to be recommending pain killers and/or anti-inflams, the physio exercises are making him worse and massage seems to just be too painful. By this time you have thankfully found your car (thankful cos without a good coffee you are just too dopey to handle much more of your father’s complaining) and you say your goodbyes and head home in search of that much needed coffee.

On the drive home, your partner reminds you of your joint appointment with your Chiropractor in the morning. For the past couple of years you have found your regular Chiropractic care has not only kept your migraines under control but also “just generally kept you functioning and feeling better overall”. With your father’s struggles fresh in your mind, you made a mental note to ask your Chiropractor about it.

The following morning, as you sit in your Chiropractor’s office, you replay the previous morning’s conversation in your mind, especially the part where your father mentioned that smaller and smaller irritations to his lower back were resulting in greater levels of pain and incapacity. Your train of thought was briefly interrupted by your Chiropractor bounding into the room (how could this guy be so sparky at this hour of the morning….most people have barely rolled out of bed and here was this guy bouncing around like a kid on Christmas morning!!!). The appointment proceeded as per usual, he asked me to tell him something amazing, you replied that you were still migraine free, he joked that being migraine free was awesome but he wanted to hear something even more amazing, you replied that you were sleeping better than ever and that you were the only person in your office who hadn’t been knocked down by the flu this year. This seemed to be the amazing tid bit of information your Chiropractor was looking for and he proceeded to talk about how the spine, nerves, brain and immune system were connected and how together with good food and proper rest the body can do some pretty incredible things. It was at this stage, with your adjustments having been done, you remembered your Dad and his struggles from the previous morning. So you asked your Chiropractor if he had 30secs to spare so you could ask about your Dad. With this, your Chiropractor put down your file, stood still (the first time you had ever seen him stand in one spot for more than 3secs) and listened intently to you recount your father’s situation. As you explained the history of your father’s low back issues, you noticed a look in your Chiropractor’s eyes that you hadn’t seen before (mainly because he was always sitting behind you during your appointments)….a look that suggested that in that specific moment, nothing else existed in his “world”, his entire being was focused on each and every word you were saying. He did not interrupt, did not ask any questions, he just listened and as you finished describing your father’s predicament he smiled, nodded and said that everything you had explained about your father made sense and this is why….

There is an phenomenon within the nervous system known as sensitization. It refers to situations in which a person experiences an exaggerated or amplified response (typically pain) to either a normally harmless or a mildly painful stimulus. In other words, the brain and nerve system has an amazing memory (especially for pain), therefore, smaller and smaller irritations to a chronic injury can result in greater and greater pain and discomfort. This is not only indicative of the mechanical joint problem getting worse, but the nerve system being wound up in a state of heightened stress.

Now if one purely focuses treatment on the pain, then the mechanical dysfunction at the heart of the situation is all too often either overlooked or at best, only partially corrected. This simply creates a never ending cycle of chasing the next “silver bullet of treatment” as opposed to actually correcting the underlying problem.

Chiropractic care is the ONLY health care option which exclusively focuses on the relationship between the spine and the nerve system. It is only with proper spinal function that a “sensitized and wound up” nerve system can be restored to normal physiological levels.

As your Chiropractor finished his sentence, his posture relaxed, he smiled again and simply stated that he was confident he could help your father and he looked forward to meeting him. With that, you left the room (after confirming the timing of your next check up) and went out to the reception desk where you immediately organised an initial consultation for your father (you were thinking you would drag him here kicking and screaming if necessary).

Later that week, at you regular coffee catch up with your parents, you relayed as much of what your Chiropractor said as possible to your father and explained that “wheels were already in motion” and to”be here at this time and no arguing” was how you declared that his initial appointment was already sorted.

 

What’s the take home message – the nerve system never makes mistakes and there is a reason for all its actions (albeit sometimes they can be difficult to understand), the spine and nerve system are intricately linked, focusing on pain is at best a temporary solution and Chiropractic care is the ONLY health care profession which exclusively focuses on this relationship.

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