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Pathophysiology

image of a person grabbing their left shoulder

Pathophysiology means the function in an individual or an organ is disturbed due to disease, leading to a structural defect. In chiropractic care, it often presents when unusual bony growths, such as bone spurs, attempt to fuse malfunctioning joints, causing the spine to degrade, joints to become altered, scar tissue to develop and the nervous system to stop functioning properly. Muscle weakness (in the area of the spine) and loss of range of motion can also be experienced.

What Causes Pathophysiology?

While a pathophysiological condition can be brought on by age and genetic factors, it can also result from trauma, such as an automobile accident.

Pathophysiology and Vertebral Subluxation Complex

Pathophysiology is just one of five interrelated parts associated with vertebral subluxation complex (VSC), which is a set of signs and symptoms that affect the spinal column. The other four are:

  • Spinal kinesiopathology. This component sets pathophysiology and the remaining interconnected parts of VSC into motion. This occurs when the bones of the spine lose their natural position and motion, which makes it challenging for the individual to bend and turn.
  • Myopathology. The muscles supporting the spine can weaken, causing them to atrophy or stiffen, and, as a result, go into spasm. All of this flexion of the muscles can cause the development of scar tissue that, over time, changes the muscle tone.
  • Neuropathophysiology. The spine houses and protects the nerves and nerve tissue. When the spine functions improperly, it can cut off, distend or inflame fragile nerve tissue and cause the nervous system to malfunction.
  • Histopathology. If the blood and lymph supplies increase, a person’s body temperature can rise, leading to inflammation and swelling of the tissues and muscles around the spine. With this may come protruding, torn, herniated or deteriorated spinal discs.

Treating Pathophysiology

When treating a pathophysiological condition, such as that described above in the first paragraph, chiropractors can use spinal adjustments and soft tissue work.

There are many types of spinal manipulation, some of which include:

  • Toggle Drop. Here, the chiropractor crosses his hands, and then presses firmly down on the area of the spine that is being treated, before apply a quick thrust that adjusts the spine. This should help the vertebral joints move more easily.
  • Release Work. Because pathophysiology causes bony growths to fuse malfunctioning joints of the spine, release work is a common technique used. During release work, the chiropractor uses his fingertips to apply mild pressure and separate the vertebrae in order to restore mobility.
  • Side Posture (also known as the lumbar roll). The patient lies on his or her side while the chiropractor uses a quick but manipulative thrust to return the vertebrae to their original position.
  • Instrument Adjustments. This may be one of the gentlest methods of adjusting the spine. With the patient facing down on the table, the chiropractor utilizes a spring-loaded activator instrument to implement the adjustment.
  • Table Adjustments. The patient will be asked to lie on a table that has sections that drop down. When the chiropractor gives a quick thrust, a section of the table drops. The table lands and comes to a complete stop, but the patient’s body continues its motion. The thrust, drop and momentum of the patient’s body all work to align the spine.

Active Release Techniques

Treatment may not end with spinal adjustments alone. Because the muscles surrounding the spine can become weakened and scar tissue can develop, soft tissue work may be needed. This may come in the form of massage or what is called active release techniques (ART).

With ART, the chiropractor begins by getting a feel of the tissues, specifically looking at texture, motion and tension. Once he has determined the state of the patient’s tissues, he will perform a number of touch-based techniques to do one or more of the following:

  • Shorten or lengthen the tissue
  • Apply contact tension
  • Make the tissue glide relative to the tissue nearby

By performing these movements, mobility can be reestablished; fibrous adhesions can be broken down; trapped nerves or blood vessels can be freed; pain can be diminished; and oxygen and blood can be successfully transported to the muscles and tissues.

To schedule an appointment to learn more about pathophysiology treatments, contact our office today.

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Testimonials

Reviews By Our Satisfied Patients

  • "Before visiting Dr. Katerina Sheffield, I had visited multiple chiropractors and a back specialist for almost 2 years on a weekly basis to address my severe lower back pain. I couldn’t see the end in sight. I had been thinking I’d have to get use to living with my lower back pain at just age 25. After visiting my massage therapist, Stacia Guerrero, she advised that I see Dr. Sheffield because my issues were structural, and not just muscular. Working with Dr. Sheffield, I found that her upper cervical work got right to the cause of my problem. I saw faster results in just a few months than in the past 2 years. I found her commitment to my healing process reassuring and I was surprised how quickly I noticed results. After just a few months, I feel so blessed that I found her. Thank you so much and I highly recommend Dr. Sheffield to anyone seeking chiropractic work."
    John E
  • "When I first came to the office, I was experiencing neck and spine pain that was preventing me from sleeping well. The pain was consistently at an 8 out of 10! I have seen other chiropractors in the past but with only minimal results.
    After a few treatments with Dr. Sheffield I started seeing differences in my sleep and mobility as well as decrease in the pain I had lived with for over 20 years! I was surprised and pleased that 11 consecutive weeks helped change my habits! Overall, my experience has been great and I am very grateful for Dr. Sheffield’s help."
    Bridge B
  • "I have found the last piece of the puzzle in the treatment of mid thoracic, neck pain and headaches. I’ve been on a 30 year journey with pain brought in partly because of poor posture and car accidents where I was rear ended at 55 to 60 miles per hour. ... Years later as back and neck pain set in I sought physical therapy believing this would “take care of it” and since I’m a PT myself, I had high hopes that it would. ...Becoming certified in Pilates instruction, I continued to improve some but the neck pain never stopped and the headaches got worse over time. ... At a friend’s suggestion I saw Dr. Sheffield. X-rays revealed some significant disc degeneration and improper weight bearing through the neck. Physical exam revealed mal-alignment of my atlas and axis. Treatment of these areas has finally, for the firs time in years, given me weeks now of NO headaches! I wish I’d have gotten here sooner!"
    Pam T
  • "I started seeing Dr. Sheffield because my neck and shoulder were hurting. It was a 9 1/2 out of 10. I was unable to work without hurting. In the past I have tried massage and acupuncture with no long lasting results. After treatments with Dr. Sheffield, I started seeing differences in lifting heavy boxes and setting up displays, which are integral parts of my job. Dr. Sheffield listens to you and advises you on things you can do at home to stay healthy. She is kind, sweet and always a pleasure to see. Her staff is friendly and helpful. She had made a difference in my life and I would recommend her to anyone needing help with pain. I feel so much better and found the experience at Dr. Sheffield's office very rewarding."
    Terry M.
  • "I started seeing Dr. Sheffield after being encouraged time and time again by a friend of mine. For over a decade I had struggled with neck pain and headaches so intense I would vomit form the pain. I’ve tried everything- steroid shots, volume shots, all kinds of drugs- and nothing touched the pain. I own a construction company so you can imagine how difficult it was to maintain my normal work load while dealing with these episodes. I stay very busy with intense activities like building homes and competing in 3 day nonstop ultra marathons which tend to aggravate my symptoms. Dr. Sheffield took the time to teach me proper ergonomics to maintain my adjustments. Being consistent and following her treatment plan over the last 2 months has allowed my headaches and neck pain to become manageable for the first time ever. It’s working and that makes it worth the 2 hour drive each way."
    David L
  • "I first came to Dr. Sheffield after an open-minded doctor who chooses to treat, rather than just medicate, recommended her to me. Because it is as much as it is a 175-mile round trip from my house, I had intended to be open minded enough to try it.

    Because of a lifetime of injuries from a gun shot wound to the mouth as a child, to oil field and construction injuries, plus 40+ years as a stone mason etc pain was a way of life, but at the age of 51 heart problems and strokes limited my activities. Having tried physical therapy, acupuncture and cupping, work hardening programs and years of chiropractic treatment with the then president of the American Chiropractic Association, with each having limited or temporary relief.

    So, after being treated for only a few sessions I experienced noticeable and longer periods of relief. With 66 years just a few months away, and other health problem, I am not calling this a miracle, but your help has surely been a blessing."
    Steve J
  • "I began seeing Dr. Shefield in April. When I arrived at her office, I could barely walk. I had been suffering with extreme lower back pain for quite some time but seemed to somehow "live" with it. In the month of March, while vacationing, I actually collapsed in so much pain. Dr. Shefield sent me to have x-rays done and my L4,5,6 discs were out and I also had an Atlas mis-alignment. I had no idea how much trauma had been done to my back over a course a several years letting this problem go.
    Dr. Shefield has truly kept me from having to have back surgery. I am no longer suffering with any back pain, neck pain, nor headaches. I can exercise again and wear my heels. She is an amazing Doctor! Until you suffer back pain you have no idea just HOW painful it can be. I am forever grateful for her"
    Laura B
  • "Dr. Sheffield has been great. My first visit was based on a recommendation from a friend when I had severely tweaked my lower back , and after just a couple of appointments, I saw a vastly reduced level of pain. At this point, I leave the office feeling better than when I arrived and look forward to my adjustments. I would highly recommend Westlake Chiropractic to anyone looking for a non-invasive approach to managing their spinal issues"
    Matt B
  • "I am 57 and my back NOW feels like it did when I was 35. I have been seeing Dr. Sheffield for about 4 months now, and now I am wondering why I went to all the other chiropractors…. Dr. Sheffield specializes in ATLAS (the vertebrae closest to the skull) therapy which little did I know, when correctly leveled, can have a huge impact on the rest of your bost – like MY LOWER BACK! It used to take me a full 30 seconds to get out of my chair in my office – stretch, groan a bit, stretch some more - and now I POP OUT of my chair like a teenager. Flying on planes is NOTHING now… as it used to be my worst nightmare. Check it out guys… my wife and my 22-year-old daughter is now going to see her…."
    Johnny S
  • "A fantastic place with a warm, beautiful and friendly atmosphere!
    Dr. Katerina has worked wonders with my neck and shoulder issues. After many months of pain and surgeries, I gave Westlake Chiropractic a try. I'm certainly happy that I did!
    Thanks to Katerina, I have regained a great deal of range of motion in my spine and shoulders. I'm now able to workout and do the things that I love in life!"
    Scott M
  • "I have been a patient of Dr. Sheffield for two years. I have had surgery for scoliosis so my needs as a patient are unique. Dr. Sheffields gentle technique and pinpoint accuracy with adjustments is what gave me relief and results after years of discomfort. Headaches went away, lower back pain left and my quality of life improved. I value that she also offers holistic care and can speak to other ailments and conditions and make recommendations for supplements and other treatments that would aid healing. She is an outstanding provider!"
    Christiana W.
  • "MD recommended

    I feel very fortunate to have found Dr. Katerina Sheffield! She did a careful exam on me, including specific evaluations of spine positions and my leg lengths. The actual adjustments were very gentle but powerfully effective. I had immediate relief from low back pain even though I only needed a slight neck adjustment. Best of all, my posture is erect with no effort at all. This is effective and gentle chiropractic as I have never experienced before!"
    Moira D., MD
  • "Relief for the first time

    I’ve had chronic back pain for much of my life. Over the years I’ve seen several different chiropractors with only a little lasting improvement, and no real idea what the problem was. Dr. Sheffield was the first chiropractor to diagnose that I have a rare congenital defect causing my back pain, and she has tailored a treatment plan that is, for the first time, giving me real relief. She is a conscientious and caring doctor."
    Don
  • "Dr. Sheffield has changed my life and my Spinal health is only getting stronger and better as I keep going to her. Anytime I feel something pulling or not right, I tell her the exact spot and the symptom and she corrects it! I am constantly amazed at her interaction with her patients, her ability to make you feel you are being healed and calm at the same time. She is changing lives, let her change yours! Haylee G. Dr. Sheffield is not only a remarkable practitioner, but a wonderful person. As patients of hers, my son and I can unequivocally say she is the best chiropractor in Austin."
    Kara B. - Austin, TX