By David Shapiro | DrShapiro@CompleteSpineSolutions.com
In over two decades of chiropractic practice, I have noticed an interesting phenomenon. For the most part, patients seek me out to ease their physical pain. Patients in pain sometimes come in with several of the following demeanors: agitated, depressed, grumpy, curt, quiet, angry, introverted, nonsocial. Within a short period of time, as we are able to resolve their pain, either partially or fully, we usually witness dramatic changes in their emotional states.
To illustrate this point, let me tell you about a recent patient I will call Mike. He came in after a recent automobile accident (car vs. deer) and would best be described as cynical, cold, curt, distrusting, and maybe even downright rude and inappropriate.
In addition to his personal life being in shambles, he was now in physical pain. After a couple of weeks of care, Mike underwent a transformation. He stopped complaining. He became jovial, much more interactive and almost pleasant to be around, and he began to smile. I recently had a long talk with Mike, who was excited to share his progress.
We can all relate to why, under the circumstances, Mike exhibited those negative initial behaviors. His pain was affecting his life, job and personal relationships; his physical and emotional distress manifested itself in poor posture, leading to a complete change in physiology.
Our standing and sitting postures affect how we think and feel about ourselves and how others see us. When we observe people who have poor posture, we consciously or unconsciously form impressions about them. Thoughts like weak, victim, unhealthy and depressed may go through our minds. This compromised stature can have a huge life impact, such as not getting hired for a job, lacking confidence or becoming a target on the street.
If you hurt, and, even worse, if you don’t have hope of your pain’s resolution, a negative mind-set often will follow. People who have chronic or even a recent onset of pain can become depressed. Depression, over time, can alter posture and thereby change spinal structure.
People who are depressed or sad usually hold themselves differently than those who are healthy and confident. The upper back is often slouched, and shoulders are rounded forward. Oftentimes, the head is forward of the shoulders, putting a great deal of stress on the brainstem and spinal cord; this condition can lead to a myriad of health consequences.
Once posture is altered, it usually will not fully recover to normal on its own, even when there is a positive change in a person’s emotional state. However, the emotional state will still be negatively affected by the poor posture, which is evidenced in published studies linking posture to emotional state.
The importance of good posture is underrated. The consequences of poor posture are both mechanical and neurological: progressive degeneration of vertebrae and discs, increased risk of falls and fractures, decreased range of motion, fatigue, spinal cord tension, back pain, neck pain, headaches, decreased lung capacity, stress on organs, disability, and even mortality. These consequences of poor posture have been published in leading medical journals.
To correct abnormal spinal structure, the specially trained chiropractor will scientifically and mathematically analyze current spinal structure as compared with normal, then will develop a clinical protocol to nonsurgically and objectively improve spinal biomechanics. It is by no means a one-size-fits-all protocol and can take months or even a year in severe cases.
Emotional state affects physical state. Conversely, physical state affects emotional state. The takeaway: When a person is being treated for depression or other emotional challenges, consider simultaneously improving spinal structure for the quickest and best outcome.
Dr. David Shapiro, certified at the highest level in chiropractic biophysics, is the founder and chief wellness officer of Complete Spine Solutions in Tucker.