The Basics: Your Nerves
The next few pages took an incredible amount of time to write, mostly because it’s the distillation of a ton of scientific studies which as a chiropractor Little Falls MN I’ve had to read quite a few of. If you’ve ever read an actual research article, you’ll know the authors often use seven-dollar college words (mostly long-winded medical jargon) to “explain” their studies. I’m not going to do that.
My goal is to present that information in such a way that you’ll understand it. If I’ve done my job—and you pay close attention—this next part will provide the foundation necessary to understand The Vicious Cycle, and, more importantly, it will provide a springboard for you to live a pain-free life.
The Basics: Nerves, muscles, and joints are intimately connected.
The term “neuromusculoskeletal system” is used to describe the close relationship that nerves, muscles, and joints have with each other. All three are absolutely essential, each serving its own unique purpose that all need to be taken care of, ask your chiropractor Little Falls MN. You can’t have one without the other because they are totally integrated and have to work together. This means when something goes wrong, they all are equally damaged. Muscles move us, but the nerves coordinate such movement, and the joints provide the freedom and direction of that movement. Each element depends on the previous one, and influences the next. One of these cannot do anything, good or bad, without the next being affected by it.
* A nerve can never react without a muscle responding.
* A muscle can never respond without a joint being affected.
* And a joint can never be affected without making a nerve react.
That’s the way you’re put together.
I’m going to introduce each component, and share one or two important pieces of information about how they work that will come in handy later. Remember this, though, none of these pieces were designed to become dysfunctional, damaged, and be the cause of your pain. Each was designed to do the exact opposite to stay healthy and keep you pain-free.
The Basics: You have two types of nerves in your neuromusculoskeletal system: mechanoreceptors and nociceptors. (mek-a-no-re-sep-tore-s) and (no-see-sep-tore-s).
Yes, they sound like members of the dinosaur family, but stick with me on this one. Can you name your five senses?
How did you do?
Here’s the answer: Smell. Taste. Sight. Hearing. Touch.
Well done, not even many chiropractor Little Falls MN can do that. What about your sixth sense? I bet you didn’t know you have a sixth sense, did you? (And no I’m not talking about the movie). Your sixth sense is called “joint sense.” Here’s what I mean. Shut your eyes and hold your hand in front of you while doing the “peace” sign. Keep your arm there and count to ten. Go ahead. Give it a try. Did you do it?
Now, consider this: You could not smell or taste your fingers when they were in front of you (or at least I hope not). You could not see or hear your arm and fingers. And you didn’t have to touch your arm using your other hand to know that it was extended, did you? And yet, I’m sure you were certain that you had your arm and hand in the right position. How is that possible? Through, your sixth sense, joint sense, that’s how.
Joint sense is provided by a special set of nerves that tell your brain exactly what your joints are doing at all times. It’s what allows your brain to “see” your joints so it knows how to control them. I bet you didn’t know this, but most of the work of your brain involves coordinating and controlling your muscles and joints. That’s pretty impressive considering all of the other stuff the brain is responsible for doing.
The ins and outs of “joint sense” can get pretty technical, so let’s try to keep it simple, you shouldn’t have to be a chiropractor Little Falls MN in order to understand. When we break it down, you have two types of “joint sense” nerves.
- You have nerves that tell your brain when your joints are moving in a good way. A “good way” is a way that doesn’t damage the joints—when they stay within normal limits. This kind of movement keeps them healthy, and you want as much of this as possible so work with a chiropractor Little Falls MN. This is called mechanoreception, and these nerves are capable of detecting micrometers of change. That’s really small. Like one millionth of a meter small. Think of a car “mechanic” whose job it is to work with the structure and function of your car. In the same way, these nerves deal with the alignment (structure) and movement (function) of your joints (except they don’t wear blue overalls). So that’s mechanoreception.
- Other nerves tell your brain when your joints are positioned and moving in a bad way. A “bad way” is a way that is outside of normal limits and when it happens, your joints get damaged. This is called nociception, and you want as little of this as possible. Think of it as “not good” reception, and your brain is being told that everything is not okay. So that’s nociception.
Pretend that you are studying to be a chiropractor Little Falls MN and remember what mechanoreception and nociception mean because you’re going to see the words time and time again. This next part is important.
When your mechanoreceptors fire up, your brain knows that your joints are doing okay and it, in turn, responds appropriately. If, however, your nociceptors fire up, your brain knows that the joints are in trouble, and it responds in a way, if left unchecked, that will eventually lead to pain. On top of that, nociception also can cause something called a “stress response,” which is not good, either.
Pause a moment before reading any further. If the difference between the two categories of “joint sense” nerves isn’t perfectly clear to you, please go back and re-read from the beginning of this section or ask a chiropractor Little Falls MN for guidance. If you don’t get it, you won’t fully appreciate how The Vicious Cycle or The Solution are important in becoming pain-free.
The Basics: Nerves resist sending messages.
A physical barrier/threshold keeps nerves from being too active, and it ensures that when nerves are not supposed to fire messages, they don’t. This is like how the pain threshold ensures that when you’re not supposed to feel pain, you don’t. We, as a chiropractor Little Falls MN, don’t want any old thing to cause a nerve to fire. It takes persistence. The thing—whether it be damage, hot, cold, vibration, touch, whatever—has to be big enough and happen often enough to cross the threshold. Only then will the nerve send off a message to the brain telling it what’s happening—that’s how nerves “resist.” Really, this barrier is a way to keep our nerves in check, and it’s to our advantage that we’re pre-wired with this function because, if the nerves were allowed to fire off at their slightest whim, our world would fall into complete chaos. We’d, even us chiropractor Little Falls MN, be nervous wrecks. Once again, take a moment and study the graph below before moving on.
Some diseases disrupt the threshold and weaken resistance. Consider Parkinson’s disease, for example. With this devastating ailment, the brain loses its ability to provide the chemicals necessary to resist the firing of nerves. And once the resistance is lost, muscles go haywire leading to shakiness, tremor, slowness, difficulty walking, and a whole host of other problems.
So the stronger your barrier, the stronger your resistance, the harder it is for the threshold to get crossed, and the more likely it is that the nerves won’t be used when they’re not supposed to be used. On the other hand, the weaker your barrier, the weaker your resistance, the easier it is for the threshold to be crossed, and the more likely it is that nerves will be used when they’re not supposed to be used. This will be of great consequence in your pursuit of a pain-free life, if you are in this situation now we encourage you consulting a chiropractor Little Falls MN.
The Basics: Nerves can learn.
Nerves have a very special ability to learn, just like you from a chiropractor Little Falls MN. It’s called “plasticity.” Take learning how to play the piano, for instance. At first, it’s difficult to get your fingers to move and hit the right keys. Ask any parent who has encouraged their child to take piano lessons—and then came to regret it. In the beginning, they hear a lot more ear-piercing music than ear-pleasing music. With practice, the fingers dance across the keyboard and the music becomes enjoyable. Watch a professional pianist play, and it’s almost unreal how fast his fingers fly across the black and whites. It looks like the body is doing it automatically, because it is. Plasticity is found in the nerves, and is the ability to learn through repetition. The same principle is used in the martial arts, athletics, and singing. Everything you’ve ever learned, and have the potential to learn from a chiropractor Little Falls MN, is because of this ability.
The constant use of nerves lowers their resistance, making them fire more readily. So for a piano virtuoso, playing becomes easier and easier the more he practices. That’s plasticity.
It’s why, as children, we are able to learn how to crawl, walk, and run. Whatever that thing you do is, plasticity allows that thing to be done easier the next time you do it.This is why chiropractor Little Falls MN focus on repetition. But what if that thing isn’t being good at playing piano? What if that thing is bad? What if that thing is incorrect movement of your back and neck? What if that thing is poor posture? What if that thing is the nociceptors being repeatedly fired? What happens then?