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An ongoing series of informational entries

Muscle testing Part IV: Joint Summary

March 25, 2018

A summary of the previous three posts as to why someone may have joint problems/pain.

All joints whether it be the knee, ankle, finger elbow, jaw or spine are similar in that one bone connects to another with ligament (tough connective tissue).  The joint is moved and stabilized by the nearby muscles which cross the joint. Muscle tension causes the joint to brace and ultimately to bend and extend. Both the ligaments and muscles have nerve sensors (proprioceptors) which allow the nervous system to control joint movement. Trauma and injury may cause the joint to subluxate (misalignment) and cause dysfunction in both ligament and muscle sensors. This causes irritation and pain in the joint. It may also cause nerve irritation in the case of spinal subluxations.

Chiropractors and in particular Applied Kinesiologists are highly trained in correcting subluxations as well as muscle dysfunction. In future posts, I will discuss various other reasons for muscle dysfunction, joint pain and other various ailments.

Muscle testing Part III: Joint problems aka Subluxations

March 17, 2018

In the previous two posts I discussed muscle "weakness" due to trauma to the neuro-muscular mechanisms within the muscle, its affect on the nearby joints and the treatment we provide to restore normal function. Today I wish to discuss dysfunction in the joint itself. The purpose of a joint is to allow movement of the skeleton. In a joint, there are two bones which come together. Both ends are capped in slick cartilage and bound together with tough ligaments that are further wrapped into a capsule to form the joint. Muscles crossing the joint taper into cord-like tendons and while contracting, causes movement and also in conjunction with ligaments maintain stability and alignment of the joint. Problems arise when there is trauma and injury to the joint. In addition to neuromuscular injury (as discussed in the previous two posts) the bones become misaligned and the ligaments of the joint become stretched. Ligaments have stretch receptors that shut muscles down when there is excessive stretch on the joint. This is a protective mechanism that keeps the joint from tearing apart if there is too much pressure on the joint, it is not tracking properly or from becoming over extended. This misalignment of the joint is known as a subluxation. When the subluxation occurs in the spine it also causes inflammation and pressure on the spinal nerve roots which can cause pain, disturbs neurologic function and further weakens muscles affiliated with the nerve. Chiropractors trained in Applied Kinesiology are highly skilled at evaluating proper function of the joint using manual muscle testing. We evaluate for faulty movement (biomechanics), joint damage such as torn cartilage or degeneration and faulty nerve and muscle function of the joint using AK muscle testing. Once the problem is identified, we can then implement corrections using Chiropractic adjusting techniques, proprioceptive muscle techniques and joint conditioning (among other kinesiological procedures not discussed)  when appropriate. Chiropractors are highly skilled in various adjustiving techniques and are experts at correcting subluxations. Applied Kinesiology gives the added dimension of a detailed assessment of the joint function in a way no other specialties do.

Muscle testing Part II: Strain Counter-strain

March 15, 2018

Another muscle problem detected by Applied Kinesiology manual muscle testing is a problem called strain counter-strain.  Essentially the involved muscle collapses when it being used. As the muscle is tested, it initially tests strong then subsequently tests weak. Or in other words, the more you use it the worse it gets. As the name implies the muscle is injured when a person slips and catches, the muscle overreacts to prevent falling. This injures the muscle and causes an abnormal muscle tone. This often affects the nearby joint resulting in pain and improper function of the joint the more that it is used. Treatment is applied by maneuvering the joint so that the muscle is at its maximum relaxation and shortness. The muscle is then passively lengthened. This restores the muscle to its proper tone and function. A muscle with a strain counter-strain will not respond well to exercise. Often one will feel worse after activity, or during exercise. They may respond poorly to rehab. It's always better to fix the strain counter-strain first then the joint can be exercised for proper conditioning.

Strain Counter-strain can be caused by slipping, falling, trip and catch, stumbling etc. This is often found in athletes during sports. This is common in car accidents, collisions and physical trauma. This can be heavily involved in the pain of disc injuries and lower back pain and can involve the hip flexors, spinal muscles, and abdominal muscles. This is often used in conjunction with the muscle proprioceptive techniques described in part I and can be a very powerful tool in correcting many spinal and joint problems.

Muscle testing Part I: Strong muscle, weak muscle and joint stability

March 11, 2018

One of the more important tests I perform on patients is the manual muscle test. This system of muscle testing was derived from Kendall and Kendall's book, Muscles: Testing and Function. This comprehensive book accurately describes muscle testing for the purpose of measuring individual muscle function. In other words: does the muscle work correctly or not? Commonly, one may think that we are testing to see if a muscle is strong or weak. However, we are not testing the absolute tension a muscle can produce like in weight lifting. Rather, we are checking to see if the muscle is capable of contracting at the appropriate time, on command, and with complete control. I prefer to think of this test as more of a timing test, a functional neurological test utilizing muscle control. Now for the purpose of ease, I may use the term "weak" or "strong" rather than "muscle dysfunction," which I find cumbersome to use when trying to explain a point.

Dr. George Goodhart expanded on Kendall and Kendall's work to explain why a muscle fails and what to do to correct it.  His elaborate system is known as Applied Kinesiology (AK). This is published in the David Walther's text "Applied Kinesiology: Synopsis". There are numerous reasons for muscle dysfunction identified in AK. I will discuss these in later posts. Today I will focus on a particular problem which occurs in muscles.

Muscle proprioceptive dysfunction

It is important to understand how normal muscle function works. Muscle movement begins with messages generated in the brain and spinal cord. These impulses are sent down along the nerve, finally entering into the muscle, generating electro-chemical reactions. This can cause extreme and forceful contractions in the muscle in an all or nothing fashion. We need a way to control the contraction so that our muscles work gracefully, elegantly and with precise control.  This is known as proprioception. After the muscle receives the message to contract, neural mechanisms within the muscle send impulses back to to the brain and spinal cord about what the muscle is actually doing. With this information, the brain and spinal cord can then fine tune the muscle movement.

When excessive tension occurs in the muscle, these muscle proprioceptors (or simply, muscle receptors) overload, and the muscle shuts down. This protects the muscle from tearing or rupturing. Think of a circuit breaker or fuse in your house. If you plug in too many appliances such as a hair dryer, air conditioner and a clothing iron, the breaker will trip to keep the heat generated from causing a fire. Sometimes when the trauma is more than the muscle can handle, the proprioceptor becomes injured and cannot reset itself. The muscle  remains inhibited, and the muscle will test "weak."

Why it is important to identify muscle dysfunction

Muscles basically do one thing: contract. Even when they relax, they still have slight contraction or tone. Their purpose is to move and stabilize joints. So, a muscle that crosses a joint moves the joint. When all muscles that cross the joint operate in coordination, the joint moves smoothly. With muscle dysfunction, the joint operates out of its proper alignment or groove. This can cause irritation and inflammation in the joint resulting in tissue damage and pain. Think about your car tire alignment being off and how quickly the edge of the tire wears out. This can become costly in tire replacements in a short amount of time.

What do we do about it

There are specific treatments directed towards the muscle receptors. We apply pressure in a very specific way to a muscle as determined by functional testing. Correct pressure in the correct direction for the proper amount of time causes the proprioceptor to reset to normal.  This will return normal strength to the muscle, often completely eliminating muscle soreness, restoring normal tone, and eliminating a feeling of tightness or excess tension within the muscle. We can then retest to see if normal joint function is restored.

What joints can be affected

This technique is useful for any joint. We use this technique to help a number of problems including: spinal, shoulder, knee, elbow, and TMJ (jaw) to name a few. This can be used with sprains of various joints and strains of muscles. It works well with common injuries that may occur around the house, car accidents and sports related injuries. As I said earlier in the article, there are also other reasons for muscle weakness, but we find this technique can help many problems, and it is often a good place to start.

Blog Update

February 09, 2018

I've bee wanting to post information in a blog for some time. If you have been noticing, the topic of health care is so broad, with so many ideas and opinions from doctors and health care providers, magazine articles, the internet, your neighbor, it literally can drive you crazy. I hope I can bring something useful to you and simplify the information you may come across, and add something meaningful that you can incorporate into your life. Feel free to email me with questions or comments at the link at the top of the page.

Our First Blog Entry

February 09, 2018

Welcome, I hope in the following weeks to add information that will be interesting. Stay posted for updates.

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