It is common as a chiropractor to have patients experience amazing results while in your care. Improved range of motion, decreased pain, and an overall improved sense of well-being are typical outcomes. Unfortunately, many times those results are short-lived and the pain and restrictions soon return.
In this scenario, patients can become frustrated and may seek treatment elsewhere because they are only seeing temporary relief of symptoms. This is an indication that the patient needs activities beyond manipulation to maintain the positive results the treatment provides.
Certain areas of the body, namely the cervical and lumbar spine, scapulae, mid-foot, elbow, and knee, require stabilization after times of mobilization or manipulation because they need to be inherently stable, not excessively mobile. The brain will create the stability around those joints by making the muscles around the area hypertonic, thus giving the patient a sense that the area is “tight.”
A common prescription is to give stretching exercises to these areas to minimize the tightness, but this can make the muscles irritated as they try to provide stability. As a clinician, you can render stabilization with kinesiology tape.
Taping for support and posture can provide the stability the brain wants and allow the muscles to relax. The patient will no longer feel the constant tightness and his or her range of motion will be restored.
If you understand how to use kinesiology tape and exercise post-manipulation, you’ll optimize your ability to get better outcomes. In addition to stimulating the central nervous system with manipulation, taping and exercising the area after manipulation can provide sustainable stabilization benefits. Increased volume and intensity of exercises can be added over time and voila: The patient no longer has symptoms, and you are the hero.
Mechanism of action
There is a body of work that examines how an initial episode of back or neck pain can lead to ongoing changes in input from the spine. Over time, these changes lead to altered sensorimotor integration of input from the spine and limbs.
Research findings have indicated that areas of spinal dysfunction represent a state of altered afferent input that may be responsible for ongoing central plastic changes.1-4 Furthermore, this may be a potential mechanism that could explain how high-velocity, low-amplitude spinal manipulation improves function and reduces symptoms. They have proposed that:
“Altered afferent feedback from an area of spinal dysfunction alters the afferent ‘milieu’ into which subsequent afferent feedback from the spine and limbs is received and processed, thus leading to altered sensorimotor integration (SMI) of the afferent input, which is then normalized by high velocity, low-amplitude manipulation.”1
This is an academic way of saying that misalignment of the spine interferes with the central nervous system and manipulation helps to restore normalcy. Post-manipulation changes can be seen with improved range of motion and decreased pain not only to the segments manipulated but to the extremities as well.
Unfortunately, even after the pain is gone and the tissue has healed, the muscles have already learned what it’s like to be hurt. Therefore, the benefit tends to be only temporary.
Previously injured muscles need proper stimulus to reset so they can contract properly. Kinesiology taping can be one piece of the puzzle that contributes to teaching the muscles how to be normal again.
Theory into practice
Further research demonstrates that kinesiology taping may be an “efficacious therapy due to subtle mechanisms affecting the brain, not just because it gives mechanical support.”5 The tape provides afferent mechanoreceptor stimulus to the brain, and the brain will perceive stability.
In the case of the cervical spine, if the area is stable, the brain does not have to tighten up the muscles around the neck to provide stability. In addition, the patient will be cued to keep the head in the proper posture, which leads to other benefits. Read the rest of the article at chiroeco.com.
1 Haavik-Taylor H, Murphy B. Altered central integration of dual somatosensory input after cervical spine manipulation. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2010;33(3):178-88.
2 Haavik-Taylor H, Murphy B. The effects of spinal manipulation on central integration of dual somatosensory input observed after motor training: a crossover study. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2010;33(4):261-72.
3 Haavik H, Murphy B. Subclinical neck pain and the effects of cervical manipulation on elbow joint position sense. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2011;34(2):88-97.
4 Haavik-Taylor H, Murphy B. The effects of spinal manipulation on central integration of dual somatosensory input observed following motor training: a crossover study. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2010;33(3):261-72.
5 Callaghan MJ, McKie S, Richardson P, Oldham JA. Effects of patellar taping on brain activity during knee joint proprioception tests using functional magnetic resonance imaging. Phys Ther. 2012;92(6):821-830.