Thoracic Joint Restriction

Your spine is made up of 24 bones stacked on top of each other with a soft “disc” between each segment to allow for flexibility. Normally, each joint in your spine should move freely and independently. Our examination of your spine has shown that one or more of your spinal vertebra is slightly misaligned and restricted. We call this condition “spinal segmental joint restriction” or more simply a “subluxation.” The term “subluxation” literally means “less than a dislocation.”

To help visualize this, imagine a normal spine functioning like a big spring moving freely in every direction. A spine with a joint restriction is like having a section of that spring welded together. The spring may still move as a whole, but a portion of it is no longer functioning. 

Joint restrictions can develop in many ways. Sometimes they are brought on by an accident or an injury. Other times, they develop from repetitive strains or poor posture. Being overweight, smoking, strenuous work, and emotional stress can make you more susceptible to problems.

Restricted joints give rise to a self-perpetuating cycle of discomfort. Joint restriction causes swelling and inflammation, which triggers muscular guarding leading to more restriction. Since your spine functions as a unit, rather than as isolated pieces, a joint restriction in one area of your spine often causes “compensatory” problems in another. Think of this as a rowboat with multiple oarsmen on each side. When one rower quits, the others are placed under additional stress and can become overworked. 

Long-standing restrictions are thought to result in arthritis - much like the way a slightly misaligned wheel on your car causes premature wearing of your tire.

You should recognize that your problem is common and generally treatable. Chiropractic care has been shown to be the safest and most effective treatment for joint restrictions. Our office offers several tools to help ease your pain. To speed your recovery, you should avoid activities that increase your pain. Be sure to take frequent breaks from sedentary activity. Yoga has been shown to help back pain sufferers so consider joining a class or picking up a DVD.


Here is a brief description of the treatments we may use to help manage your problem.

Joint restrictions most commonly cause local tenderness and discomfort. You may notice that your range of motion is limited. Movement may increase your discomfort. Pain from a restricted joint often trickles around your rib cage or up & down your spine. Be sure to tell your chiropractor if your symptoms include any chest pain, shortness of breath, unusual cough, indigestion or flu-like complaints.

Joint Manipulation

Joint Manipulation

Your chiropractor has found joints in your body that are not moving freely. This can cause tightness and discomfort and can accelerate unwanted degeneration i.e. arthritis. Your chiropractor will apply a gentle force with their hands, or with hand held instruments, in order to restore motion to any “restricted” joints. Sometimes a specialized table will be used to assist with these safe and effective “adjustments”. Joint manipulation improves flexibility, relieves pain and helps maintain healthy joints.

 

Therapy Modalities

Therapy Modalities

We may apply electrotherapy modalities that produce light electrical pulses transmitted through electrodes placed over your specific sites of concern. These comfortable modalities work to decrease your pain, limit inflammation and ease muscle spasm. Hot or cold packs are often used in conjunction, to enhance the effect of these modalities. Another available option is therapeutic ultrasound. Ultrasound pushes sound vibrations into tissues. When these vibrations reach your deep tissues, heat develops and unwanted waste products are dispersed.

 

Myofascial Release

Myofascial Release

Overworked muscles often become tight and develop knots or “trigger points”. Chronic tightness produces inflammation and swelling that ultimately leads to the formation of “adhesions” between tissues. Your chiropractor will apply pressure with their hands, or with specialized tools, in order to release muscle tightness and soft-tissue adhesions. This will help to improve your circulation, relieve pain and restore flexibility.

 

Therapeutic Exercise

Therapeutic Exercise

Muscle tightness or weakness causes discomfort and alters normal joint function, leading to additional problems. Your chiropractor will target tight or weak muscles with specific therapeutic stretching and strengthening to help increase tissue flexibility, build strength, and ease pain. Healthy, strong, and flexible muscles may help prevent re-injury.

 

 

 

After this initial course of treatment we will reassess your progress. We will determine the need for any additional care after your reassessment.

Sleep Posture

Sleep Posture

Your mattress and the position you sleep in may affect your condition.


  • Choose a mattress that provides medium or firm support, such as a traditional coil spring or adjustable airbed. Avoid waterbeds, thick pillow tops and soft, sagging mattresses.
  • 
Always sleep on your back with a pillow either underneath your knees or on your side with a pillow between your knees. Avoid sleeping on your stomach.
  • 
Keep your neck and back covered while sleeping to avoid drafts that could cause potential muscle spasms.
 

Workstation Ergonomics

Workstation Ergonomics

Ergonomics is the science of adjusting your workstation to minimize strain in the following ways:

  • Wrists should not be bent while at the keyboard. Forearms and wrists should not be leaning on a hard edge.
  • 
Use audio equipment that keeps you from bending your neck (i.e., Bluetooth, speakerphones, headsets).
  • Monitors should be visible without leaning or straining and the top line of type should be 15 degrees below eye level.
  • Use a lumber roll for lower back support.
  • Avoid sitting on anything that would create an imbalance or uneven pressure (like your wallet).
  • Take a 10-second break every 20 minutes: Micro activities include: standing, walking, or moving your head in a “plus sign” fashion.
  • Periodically, perform the “Brugger relief position” -Position your body at the chair’s edge, feet pointed outward. Weight should be on your legs and your abdomen should be relaxed. Tilt your pelvis forward, lift your sternum, arch your back, drop your arms, and roll out your palms while squeezing your shoulders together. Take a few deep cleansing breaths.
 

Pillow Selection

Pillow Selection

To avoid neck and upper back pain from improper neck support:

  • Select a pillow that will hold your head in a neutral position while sleeping on your side or back.
  • Avoid excessively thick or multiple pillows.
  • Choose a fiberfill or feather/down pillow as these are usually better than foam.
  • Consider a commercially available pillow that promotes good neck posture.
 

Lifting Mechanics

Lifting Mechanics

Here are some tips to help you lift safely:

  • Avoid lifting or flexing before you’ve had the chance to warm up your muscles (especially when you first awaken or after sitting or stooping for a period of time).
  • 
Use audio equipment that keeps you from bending your neck (i.e., Bluetooth, speakerphones, headsets).
  • To lift, stand close directly facing object with your feet shoulder width apart.
  • Squat down by bending with your knees, not your back. Imagine a fluorescent light tube strapped to your head and hips when bending. Don’t “break” the tube with improper movements. Tuck your chin to help keep your spine aligned.
  • Slowly lift by thrusting your hips forward while straightening your legs.
  • Keep the object close to your body, within your powerzone” between your hips and chest. Do not twist your body, if you must turn while carrying an object, reposition your feet, not your torso.

An alternative lifting technique for smaller objects is the golfers lift. Swing one leg directly behind you. Keep your back straight while your body leans forward. Placing one hand on your thigh or a sturdy object may help.

 

Sports Cream

Sports Cream

Sports creams come in a variety of styles that produce either a sensation of heat or cold. These creams do not speed healing, but may provide temporary relief. Their effect is to pleasantly irritate the skin by stimulating the highly sensitive surface nerves, so that your brain can temporarily "forget" about your underlying deeper pain.

  • Sports creams have no known side-effects when applied in small amounts but do not apply more than a 2-3 of times per day unless otherwise directed.
 

Racquet Sports

Racquet Sports

Here are a few pointers for selecting your racquet:

  • Improper grip size is a known contributor to elbow problems. When you grip the racquet, you should be able to snuggly slide the index finger of the other hand between the tips of your fingers in the base of your palm.
  • A good grip overwrap can help prevent slipping and decrease the amount of force required to hold the racquet. (Factor the extra wrap into grip size, though)
  • Players should quickly release their grip tightness after ball-to-racquet strike in order to reduce stress on the elbow. 
  • Increasing the size of your racquet head can help to reduce arm stress. 
  • Avoid choosing “longer” or “heavier” racquets that will increase the amount of stress on your elbow. 
  • Graphite is a light racquet but does not absorb vibration well. When possible, choose a more flexible frame that helps to absorb some of the shock of the ball’s impact. 
  • Avoid playing with old or wet tennis balls as the additional speed and mass of the ball increases stress on your elbow. “Softer” or “stage 2” tennis balls weigh less than standard tennis balls which will produce less stress on your elbow when you strike the ball. These balls can also slow down the game slightly.
 
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