When we hear the word trauma, we think life-threatening situations, but in a chiropractic setting, it can be as small as prolonged sitting at a desk. In this week’s blog, we will continue our series on the 3 T’s of chiropractic by discussing traumas. We will identify the difference between micro-traumas and macro-traumas and explain what we can do to help. 

 Micro-traumas vs. Macro-traumas

A trauma is something that affects the body physically, mentally, or emotionally. Thoughts, last week’s blog, we explored mental and emotional trauma. When we dive into this week’s blog, we are going to view it as physical trauma. 

Next, we need to discuss the difference between a micro-trauma and a macro-trauma. A micro-trauma is an injury that causes repetitive stress on tissues. Common micro-trauma injuries include prolonged sitting at a desk, poor posture, looking down while texting, repetitive change of motions during a sporting event, etc.

A macro-trauma is an injury that is sustained during a sudden event that could cause a fracture, dislocation, strain, sprain, etc. Common macro-trauma injuries include car accidents, sport injuries, sudden falls, etc. 

How Does Physical Trauma Affect the Nervous System?

Whenever an injury is sustained, the nervous system is the first to respond and act. Let us present two scenarios. Scenario 1 will discuss a micro-trauma and scenario 2 will discuss a macro-trauma.

Scenario 1:

A 45-year-old male patient presents to a chiropractor’s office with lower back and neck pain. The patient has been working as an accountant for 20+ years and is always sitting behind a desk. The pain has been present for 5+ years. After performing a series of cervical and lumbar x-rays, neurological exam, and orthopedic evaluation, the patient appears to have reduced bone density, arthritis, and reversal of the spinal curvatures.

Scenario 2:

A 28-year-old female presents to a chiropractor’s office 3 days after being in a motor vehicle accident. The patient was sent to the emergency room and was released with no identifiable fractures, whiplash, and a mild concussion. The patient complains of moderate neck pain and headaches. After performing a series of cervical x-rays, neurological exam, and orthopedic evaluation, the patient receives a confirmation of a whiplash injury. 

Other than the demographics, type of trauma, location of pain, and symptoms, what is the difference between the two patients in the scenario above? The answer is nothing. Both patients are experiencing symptoms of nerve interference. Nerve interference is always present when a trauma is sustained. When trauma occurs, the spinal vertebra becomes misaligned causing nerve impingement. Pain and symptoms can occur instantly or over time. It depends on the type of injury and the current state of the nervous system pre-injury. 

What Can We Do to Help?

Both micro-traumas and macro-traumas can be treated by chiropractors, but micro-traumas are more commonly seen in a setting like ours. We do see patients who experience motor vehicle accidents or sudden falls, but we must rule out injuries beyond our scope of practice such as fractures, dislocations, strains, sprains, etc. 

Once we have ruled out injuries beyond our scope of practice, we can begin treating based on the patient’s needs. As always, a treatment plan is tailored to each patient’s needs. The treatment plan is designed to alleviate pain and stabilize the patient. These steps will allow the patient to return to enjoyable activities and to avoid or reduce the possibility of reverting. 

In addition, we can teach proper body mechanics and ergonomically correct exercises. When patients experience macro-traumas, sometimes they cannot be prevented. Micro-traumas, however, can be prevented by just taking a second to lift your phone to eye level, stand up from your desk and take a walk, or simply by sitting up straight. To learn more about body mechanics, refer to our blog, “Posture Precision: Unraveling the Biomechanical Puzzle.”

To conclude, physical trauma has a huge impact on nerve interference and needs to be addressed immediately. If you are reading these and perform bad habits that cause micro-traumas or have recently sustained a macro-trauma, please call us. We can help. As we continue our series on the 3 T’s of Chiropractic, please present to us any questions or concerns by calling us at (724) 547-3377 and check out our website at www.drlarrywilkinsspinalcare.com for more blog content. 

Yours In Health,

Larry E. Wilkins, DC

Brian M. Steinert, DC