Monday, May 4, 2020

The Downsides of Structural Instability, and Why Being Proactive is So Important

Structural instability is defined as the point when a building or other construction becomes affected by things that can potentially unsettle them.  Although tactics designed to induce fear are far too commonly utilized in healthcare today to influence patient behavior, it would be fair to, in acknowledging that the human body is similar to a building or other construction, use fear as a tool for emphasis at least of the following fact, which goes almost completely undiscussed in modern traditional physician offices: if your body is structurally unstable, it will break down and exhibit the myriad symptoms thereof, and it will contribute greatly to your health's demise. 

The good news is, scary as the physically unstable proposition and its associated pain, degeneration, and progressive immobility may be, the human body is more than capable of re-adapting into a structurally stable state.  Granted, such a proclamation goes against the common way of thinking of the body as destined to fall into indefinite despair without the possibility of optimal recovery, so it is important to gain an understanding both for the origins of structural instability and for how regaining stability is achieved.

Fundamentally, the body is built from the top-down, rather than ground-up, making the relationship between the head and the upper neck the foundation of structural stability (the first bony structures formed during in-uterine development are the skull and the top two vertebrae in the spinal column, to protect the brain and brainstem respectively).  The head sits atop the first cervical vertebra, so if the head and the top bone in the neck are not critically balanced, the head is taken off of its level position, starting a chain reaction that causes the rest of the body, from head-to-toe, to shift as well. 

Injuries, especially at an earlier age long before the body fully develops physically, are typically the source of the shifted foundation.  Indeed, the repeated micro-head-traumas while learning to walk, falling off bikes, concussions, and the like that may not have even prompted an emergency doctor visit can be quite clinically relevant in the big picture; by a 500:1 ratio, the vast majority of traumas occur between the ages of 0 and 10 by comparison to the rest of our lives combined.
Like any other structure, the body is inherently dependent on the integrity of the foundation, so a foundational misalignment changes everything.  Widespread adaptation, which forces the other spinal vertebrae, the shoulders, the hips, and the legs out of their normal positions, alters the way that the muscles move the bones; some muscles are forced to work harder than others as a result, and as the physical domino effect continues, range of motion decreases, ultimately leading to the joints becoming comparatively stuck from a lack of consistently fluid movement and pressure subsequently building between those joints. 

This first phase of instability, if you will, segues seamlessly into the next unless the foundation is fixed.  Each human body is born with a structural support system to bear the weight on its frame.  The primary structural supports consist of the spinal (banana-shaped) curves in the neck, upper back, and lower back and the discs in between the spinal vertebrae.  When foundational alignment is lost and the entire body compensates, the curve in the neck is lost as a result.  Once the curve in the neck is lost, the curve in the lower back frequently follows suit, and then the curve in the upper/mid back changes.  The changes in the curves force the discs in between the vertebrae to bear more weight, often unevenly due to the other physical adaptations previously mentioned; and it is this repercussion – not age – that is the primary cause of discs breaking down and greater susceptibility to disc bulges, herniations, or ruptures; another potential by-product is a closing down of spinal nerve canals (stenosis). 

Heavy consumption of alcohol, school or work stress, over-use of medications, the death of a loved one, an abundance of negativity, and other types of chemical and emotional trauma become more likely to further unsettle the body, amplifying the instability, as the above-described more advanced phases of structural compensation occur. 

The bottom line is that, just as driving your car with the front end out of alignment causes premature tire wear, long term body imbalance causes your body to age faster.  Accelerated aging, commonly known as degenerative disc/joint disease or osteoarthritis, is a long and arduous process, more so for some than for others.  When the foundation of a home shifts, the development of cracks in the walls, windows, and roof are to be expected, if not sooner than later, then eventually without question.  Comparably, the signs of the human body breaking down following a foundational shift often include, at variable times post-shift, headaches, acute and chronic pain throughout the body, vertigo, numbness, andtingling, etc.; bear in mind that, given how intelligent the human body is, consistent symptoms may not show up until a more recent trauma occurs.  The longer that the fundamental problem exists, then the greater the effects to be expected. 

A foundational misalignment can be proactively identified down to the nearest millimeter and degree by Upper Cervical Chiropractors so as to avoid instability and its proliferation into later stages that carry with them damages of an irreversible nature; still, even the most unstable situation can reach at least relative stability once the foundation is fixed.  The human body is the most dynamic structural system in existence, and through correcting the foundation and other complimentary measures, it can heal, slow to outright halt accelerated aging, and return the body to its optimal state.

Thinking good things for you, as always,

-Dr. Chad

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