When my patients complain of arm or leg pain sometimes they are perplexed when I say “Let me take a look”. We as Chiropractors of course want to look at the spinal for cervical and lumbar dysfunction respectably, but our patient sometimes may be confused about our role in treating extremities. It is our job as doctors to convey this mission to our patients, that while our main focus is the spine, it's not our only focus. The patient could have a combination of an extremity issue and a spinal issue, or just an extremity issue. Why can not we treat all the issues in regard to the musculoskeletal system? Well we can, which is great for the patient.
It is very important to fully examine the patient's area of complaints, while a disc herniation diagnosis would cause you to understand while the person has extremity problems, it's equally as important to fully evaluate any extremity complaint like it is a separate issue. Having this thought would have eliminated that bias of the disc herniation causing all the extremity symptoms. The patient will have a higher satisfaction rate if you can help them all will of their problems at the same time to create value added service.
While pre-chiropractic adjusting on the cervical and lumbar spine you will be changing physiology and output with their corresponding level, but there are many benefits as well from adjusting the joint in the extremities. We know that joints must move to help give nutrients and remove toxin, more so in the spine, if a joint is stiff or painful to move we must help decrease inflammation and start some gentle mobilization on the extremity joint in question to bring some semblance of normal physiology.
Adjusting on the joint will have a multitude of effects, it will, as stated above help with inflammation and pain, which are tied together, it will stretch the muscles holding the joint, which will in turn create more range of motion. It can break adhesions and stretch the joint capsule. It can also reset joint mechanoreceptors which will be back some normal biomechanics to the joint. Once the adjustments are done in a regular treatment plan accordingly, the patient and the doctor should see some progress, while not every joint in the body is the same they function very similar.
We need to continue to look at the patient as a whole but do not forget we must look at every aspect of the body to find the problems, not just the spine. While most patients do not care how you get them better or what your philosophy is only that you know what the problems are, how to fix them, and how to continuously keep them healthy and in a state of wellness.