Our body consists of a bony skeleton, made from 206 bones. This skeleton made up from so many different bones gives our body its great manoeuvrability and flexibility. Each bone is connected to at least one other bone and usually to 2 or 3 other bones at a joint. A joint is flexible coupling between 2 or more bones which allows a definite range of movement. Joints are flexible but not strong while long bones like the femur (thigh bone) are strong but not flexible. Nature has allocated us different areas of strength & flexibility according to the function of each part of the body. The bones are covered with muscles, tendons, ligaments and fascia which hold it together and allow the large and delicate range of movements.
When we have a fall, our joints bend to absorb the impact of the fall. If the force of the fall is too great then the bones forming that joint may dislocate from their normal position in an attempt to absorb the impact. If the impact of the fall is more than what the body can absorb then a bone may break or fracture. The commonest joint which dislocates in the body is the ankle. When our foot twists, the ankle dislocates and we say our ankle is sprained. Usually the body is able to correct the dislocation over a few days and the pain resolves. However if the body is unable to correct the dislocation the pain persists, and you tend to walk with more weight on the normal leg to reduce the pain. This leads to greater strain on the normal leg causing a twist in the pelvis to compensate for the uneven weight bearing. The knee on the affected leg also adjusts to try and compensate for the pain. In this process the knee can become unstable resulting in knee pain. The body may also try to adjust from the hip, pelvis or lower back leading to pain and problems in these areas.
Similarly, when we trip and fall forward, we try and break the impact of the fall with our hands. When we do, this there is first a displacement of the joints at the wrist, elbow, shoulder and neck in that order depending on the intensity of the fall and only if the body is unable to dissipate the intensity of the fall does a bone break. These falls are often soon forgotten as the pain recedes, but the dislocations caused by these falls may persist for years, initially causing mild discomfort which increases and reduces over the years as the body tries to correct or compensate for the injury.
The body is usually able to correct these displacement without treatment, and it recovers within a few days. In some cases unfortunately this does not happen and pain and discomfort persist in the joint. Since conventional medical treatment does not address these issues, these problems persist and you learn to live with the pain and discomfort. A common complaint I hear with these problems is "Dr., I have a weak wrist." The after effects of a fall on the hands may manifest as tennis or golfers elbow, frozen shoulder or a wry neck which may persist for years. Anyone who has a fall, especially with fractures should consult an osteopath whenever the opportunity arises. The osteopath can align the misaligned joint and allow a return to better and pain free function. Any persistent pain which has not resolved in a few months may point to a dislocation which needs treatment. Pain is the body's way of telling you that it has a problem which needs treatment, to warn you that the painful area is weak and that you should not strain or stress it.
Sudden unexpected jerks are very liable to cause injuries. A common injury of this type, is when your car is hit from the back without you anticipating it, your neck is jerked forward causing what is known as a whiplash injury. At this time the neck vertebrae can move from their normal alignment, which causes neck pain and headaches which gradually spreads to the arms. This can be treated effectively by realigning the neck. If this is neglected and not treated it develops into cervical Spondylosis or arthritis of the cervical spine.
This is also the treatment of choice in many sports related injuries like dislocated knee cartilages, tennis elbow, ankle sprains and frozen or painful shoulders. These can easily be persuaded to return to their normal position with osteopathic techniques, within minutes. Muscle spasms often accompany spine and joint injuries and the therapist relaxes these using integrated techniques like acupuncture, laser therapy, ultrasound and massage wherever necessary to allow a smooth return to normal function.
Bill was a 56 year old businessman who suffered periodically from severe pain in his chest and difficulty in breathing. He had been rushed to the emergency room many times, and had been fully investigated by his doctors who were unable to find any definite cause for his pain or breathlessness. This went on for more than 5 years and Bill became depressed and very neurotic about his health. In desperation he had an angiogram but it failed to reveal any problem with his arteries. However his pain persisted. Bill came to see me, I listened to his history, examined him and reviewed all his investigations, and like his cardiologist was unable to find a problem with his heart. I found on my examination that he had tenderness over 3 of his ribs which were displaced from their normal position, a spasm in the diaphragm as well as a hiatus hernia. These problems were probably causing his pain! I treated Bill with osteopathy to relax the diaphragm and replaced the ribs in their correct position. I treated the hiatus hernia by gently massaging it back into the abdomen. I advised about correct dietary habits, so he would not get gas which could a cause a recurrence of the hernia. Bill's pain disappeared and has not recurred over the last sixteen years.
Many people do suffer from problems for which conventional medicine has yet to find causes or offer effective answers. This above case is an example of a problem which can be treated effectively by techniques like osteopathy which are very effective but not yet a part of mainstream medicine.
The series of photographs below show the treatment of a 68 year old lady with painful Osteoarthritis with a misalignment of the left knee. As she was unable to walk even 50 metres without severe pain, she had been advised total knee replacement of the left knee. As she was reluctant for surgery she came to consult me. Her knee was aligned over 5 sessions, spread over 12 days. The first picture on day 1 shows an angle of 30 degrees between the thigh & calf. The first photo shows the leg dark & congested which has improved as the knee has been aligned and blood circulation restored.
The second picture on day 3 shows an angle of 20 degrees between the thigh and calf and there has been a 40% reduction in her pain.
The picture on day 7 shows an angle of 15 degrees between the thigh & calf and she reported still further improvement in her pain. She was able to walk 150 metres until she had to stop because of the pain.
The picture on day 10 shows an angle of 5 degrees between the thigh and calf. She reported that more than 80% of her pain has gone and she is now able to walk 300 metres after which some pain recurs. She is very encouraged by her improvement and even her sceptical husband is convinced enough to accompany her for the treatment.
This final picture on day 12 below shows that the knee has been completely straightened without surgery. The lady is now pain free and able to walk 500 metres without pain.
On her follow up visit a year later she reported was still pain free and taking her dog for an hour's walk every morning. This series of pictures is a clear example of how misaligned joints can be corrected, without surgery with excellent results.