Ideal Family Chiropractic

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What Causes Joint Pain?​

What Causes Joint Pain?

Ideal-Family-Chiropractic-Joint Pain

The Different Types of Nerves

There are lots of different types of nerves in the body.  Efferent nerves are motor nerves, which allow you to contract muscles to move your body.  Afferent nerves are sensory nerves, which bring information to your brain about what’s happening to your body (your senses).  

Two types of sensory nerves that are in joints are called proprioceptors and nociceptors.  Proprioceptors are position sensors.  They are how you know where your body is in space.  If you close your eyes, you can still touch your nose with your finger because position sensors throughout your body tell you where your hand and arm are in space without seeing it.  

Nociceptors are pain receptors.  They sense things like mechanical stress (squeezing or pushing really hard), temperature, and chemical injury.

The Neurology of Joint Pain

This is where it gets a little nerdy.  

When a joint isn’t moving properly, the position sensors stop firing. When position sensors stop firing their signals are not sent to the brain. Joints need to move in order to stimulate position sensors.

Position sensors are a dominant type of nerve.  The information they send to the brain is prioritized over pain.  When position sensors stop sending information to the brain, pain receptors take over and send their information to the brain.

Think about an upset baby in church.  When the baby cries (pain receptor), it’s easy to hear.  If the choir starts singing (position sensor), not only does it drown out the noise from the baby, but it may even calm the baby down.

This analogy shows when proper motion is restored to a joint, the position sensors calm the pain receptors and the pain decreases.  This entire neurological back and forth, cause and effect, is what subluxation describes.

The Gate Theory of Dysafferentation

What I just described is sometimes referred to as the Gate Theory.  Simply put, decreased proprioception opens the gate to more nociception (or decreased position sensation leads to increased pain sensation).  

Remember, those are sensory or afferent nerves.  This process describes altered and dysfunctional communication of those afferent nerves to the brain, which is called dysafferentation.  

Dysafferentation becomes a problem because as time goes on, this dysfunctional processing of information alters a child’s neuro-development.  These sensory neural pathways go to places such as the cerebellum, amygdala, hippocampus, and prefrontal cortex in the brain.  

Consequently, dysafferentation can lead to issues such as ADHD, anxiety, autism, learning difficulties, cognitive difficulties, motor coordination difficulties, and many other concerns.

Ideal Family Chiropractic, Dysafferntation

Neurological Research that Supports Chiropractic

If you are either interested in the research supporting this information, or you need some reading material to put you to sleep, take a look at these studies.

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