Do you wake up each morning, stretch, and bask in the lack of pops or pain? Wonderful! But we’ve got news that may come as a surprise to you. Just because you’re pain free, that doesn’t automatically mean you’re in good health. If you’re among the many Americans that wait until acute pain flares up before seeing a healthcare professional, it’s time we discussed a few things. The big thing to know is that feeling good does not automatically equate to being in good health.
How Pain Transmits
We don’t feel all stimuli equally. This is a good thing; if we felt all sensations equally, a paper cut might feel be as painful as being stabbed. Our nervous system is brilliant in the way it manages to filter out sensations that are less of a concern. That’s why a paper cut just stings a bit instead of causing debilitating pain — it’s all based on a hierarchy of pain. What this means, however, is that your body can experience a lot of sensations and until they reach a certain threshold, we probably aren’t aware of most of those minor sensations.
This is the big reason that you shouldn’t rely on waiting until you experience painful sensations before making an appointment with a healthcare professional — especially when it comes to spine and joint health. Just because you don’t feel pain, it doesn’t mean that your spine is in perfect health. It just means that any alignment issues or other potential pain sources haven’t built up to the point that your nerves send strong messages of pain. When you feel a bit of stiffness or mild feelings of discomfort, those can be the first indicators that something isn’t as it should be. But don’t wait for even those mild sensations to crop up if you have neck, shoulder, or back pain issues. The more pain you feel, the more those sensations have built up in your nervous system and, very likely, the worse the actual issue has become.
What To Know About Spine Health
The spine is, literally and figuratively, the central support of the body. There’s a reason we refer to integral things as the ‘backbone’ of a system. To that end, a major part of good health overall is the well-being of the spine and nervous system. When your spine and nervous system experience issues, those issues can quickly ripple through and affect other areas of your body. For example, a pinched nerve in your back can lead to tingling, numbness, or pain in your shoulders that extends down your arms. That pinched nerve can even go so far as to affect your range of motion in the shoulders and elbows.
When we talk about spine health, we’re not just talking about whether or not you’re pain free. The more important focus is actually how well your spine, joints, and nervous system are functioning together. In the same way you take vitamins and eat well to help your immune system, you should also be taking action to protect and support your spine, joints, and nervous system.
Caring For Your Spine
When it comes to daily care, one of the biggest things you should be doing for your body is stretching and exercising regularly. Specifically, look for stretches and exercises which will help you improve “global” ranges of motion — exercises and stretches that help with “bigger” movements. This includes things like touching your toes while standing, moving your arms in a full circle at the shoulder, or bringing your knees to your chest. If you experience smaller joint or nervous system issues, it can manifest as range of motion issues, so this is a good starting point. Physical therapy can provide you with appropriate stretches and exercises based on your body’s needs and current abilities.
The other key thing to do is to visit a chiropractor for regular joint-health checks. Your chiropractor can ensure your spine and joints are aligned appropriately and provide adjustments for any areas that need help. They can also work with your physical therapy team to ensure adjustments are supported with appropriate strength-building exercises and stretches.
Support your spine and nervous system to stave off many causes of pain. Connect with the physical therapy and chiropractic team at Senara Health and Healing Center & Spa in Peoria to schedule your consultation today.