That is the number one question that patients ask, and the uncertainty is completely understandable. The simple answer is,“The signals from the body to the brain are being reset.” The confusion stems from the fact that the understanding of this concept requires somewhat of a paradigm shift, and a new frame of reference must be adopted with regards to how the human body functions.
Most people understand the basic concept that the brain serves as a central processing unit and that the five senses of sight, smell, taste, hearing and touch serve as inputs to the brain from outside stimuli to interpret the external world.
Where most people’s understanding falls short is the concept of how many other signals are being conveyed to the brain from its own organs and tissues to regulate optimal functionality of the human organism. These other signals are coming from “Neuroreceptors”.
There are approximately 19 known neuroreceptors which are constantly monitoring the state of our organs and tissues and sending this information to the brain. These Neuroreceptors respond to the follow distinct stimuli: poking, slapping, light pressure, medium pressure, deep pressure, rubbing, vibration (125Hz, 256Hz, 512Hz), tickle, itch, hot, cold, stretch, swiping, tapping, looking towards, body hair stimulation, thinking about the pain.
The problem arises when any of these receptors become over-stimulated, which results in a heightened signal (an alarm signal) to the brain, then forcing the brain to create a compensatory response in the body to lessen that signal. For example, you sprain (over stretch) a ligament in your low back while lifting a box, now the stretch receptors in the ligament start sending an alarm signal to the brain. The brain then sends a compensatory signal to the rest of the body to avoid further stretch on that ligament. The result is a dysfunctional neuroreceptor pattern, i.e. your low back feeling locked-up and you notice your body contorted into a hunched and twisted position. In a sense you want this to happen to prevent further damage to the ligament. Where it becomes a problem is if the dysfunctional pattern persists even after the tissues have healed.
The above scenario is one of the most obvious and easily understood examples of neuroreceptor dysfunction. Often however, the cause of a dysfunction and the resulting compensation can be much more difficult to discern. There may be (and usually are) many layers of dysfunctional receptors all feeding alarm signals into the brain creating overlapping compensations, or the current symptoms may seem unrelated to the cause, which may be stemming from a dysfunctional pattern that started with an injury from decades past.
In any case, the good news is that these dysfunctional neuroreceptor patterns can easily be fixed. However, due to the accumulation and layering of problems over time, it may take a series of treatment sessions to work through all of them.
Shane T. Wells, D.C., F.I.A.M.A.