Most people are aware of the importance of spinal alignment. They were tested for scoliosis as a kid, they’ve seen the severe impact that neck and spinal injuries can have, and even intuitively they know that the spine is not something you want to mess with.
What they aren’t aware of, however, is how to tell whether they have a spinal alignment issue. The vast majority of alignment issues are not immediately obvious, so many folks can mistakenly assume that spinal problems happen to other people, not them.
What’s going on in the spine?
Without going too heavily into the details, spinal alignment issues typically arise when alterations occur in the vertebrae and intervertebral discs–the assemblage of bones and tissue that protects the spinal cord and centers the shape and structure of the entire body.
Every spine should have some curvature to absorb shock and protect the vertebrae. But too much curvature is where problems start to occur.
What are the risks of not treating spinal misalignment?
“Is this really something I need to be on the lookout for?” you might be wondering. The short answer is yes. Spinal misalignment–also called subluxations–can have some significant long-term effects if left untreated, including:
- Chronic pain
- Reduced mobility
- Breathing/respiratory problems
- Stiffness and pain in joints
- Slouched posture
- Broken bones (particularly in the spine)
- Pain when sitting, standing or bending down
- Sciatica (pain in your leg’s sciatic nerve)
What are the symptoms of spinal misalignment?
There are a number of signs that your spine may be out of alignment–some of which may seem obvious and others that you might not have considered. They include:
- Chronic migraines/headaches
- Among the most common symptoms of misalignment, migraines are caused by irritation in the spinal nerves that run to the face and neck. Often. out-of-alignment vertebrae are putting undue pressure on these nerves.
- Uneven wear and tear on shoes
- Yes, your shoes can tell you whether you might have alignment issues. Subluxations in the spine cause your hips to tilt, which means your feet will hit the ground differently when you walk. If one shoe looks more worn than the other, it may be that something is off.
- Uneven legs
- Similarly to the shoe test, spinal misalignment can result in one of your legs appearing longer than the other. In reality, it’s just that your hips are out of line. But hold your feet together out in front of you; a visible difference can be a sign of alignment issues.
- Trouble turning your neck or hips
- If you struggle to fully turn your head or hips in a full range of motion, misalignment may be hindering the rotation of your spine. It also may be that muscles and/or tendons connected to your spine are strained or damaged.
- Fatigue and sickness
- It may be surprising to hear that chronic fatigue and sickness (particularly the flu) can result from spinal misalignment. This is because the nerves in your spine are unable to communicate as clearly with your brain.
- Numbness or tingling in your hands and/or feet
- Subluxations in the spine can also cause a tingling feeling or numbness in your extremities. These feelings (or lack thereof) are caused by undue pressure on spinal nerves.
How can I treat spinal alignment issues?
There are a variety of at-home stretches and DIY hacks (such as standing instead of sitting at your desk) to combat misalignment. But in general, we recommend seeing a professional.
Chiropractors are trained to perform spinal adjustments (also called manipulations) designed to restore and strengthen your spine so that you can enjoy normal, pain-free function again.
In some more serious cases, surgery may be required. But we highly suggest you explore less invasive forms of care before opting for surgery.
At Petett Chiropractic, we can perform the adjustments and make the professional recommendations you need to regain alignment in your spine.