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20 Telltale Warning Signs of an Unhealthy Spine


There have been many patients of mine over the years who came to our Clinic for the first time thinking that they went to bed one night perfectly healthy, and by some unlucky twist of fate, woke up the next day with their ailment.  The chances of it actually happening this way are quite slim.

The fact of the matter is that the majority of these people had experienced several “warning signs” within their body for weeks, months, or even many years before their problem grew into something larger, more noticeable, and potentially more problematic.

When it comes to your spine and nervous system, there are some telltale signs that commonly indicate that things might not be right.  Ignore these signals for long enough, as we commonly do, and it is more than likely that your minor (or even painless) problem will eventually develop into a significant pain, injury, impairment, or even an outright health crisis if you’re not careful or paying attention to what your body is trying to tell you.

Here is a list of common “warning signs” that qualified Doctors of Chiropractic look for when they check the health and function of your spine and neuro-musculo-skeletal system.  Do any of these sound familiar to you?  Feel free to ask (or even check) your friends, family members, and especially your children, whether or not they have noticed any of these things.  And if so, choose to be proactive and get checked by your local Chiropractor.  As with any problem, or potential problem, early detection is always the key to staving off health problems down the road.

  1. The heels on your shoes appear to wear unevenly.  This can be due to uneven leg length, pelvic skew or spinal mis-alignment, a dropped arch in one foot, imbalance, or uneven stress along the length of the spine.
  2. Your jaw clicks, locks, or pops.  This can often be related to poor posture, and may indicate mis-alignment of the vertebrae in your neck, or imbalance of the jaw itself.
  3. One knee, one hip, or one shoulder, clicks or pops but the other does not.  A classic sign of joint mis-alignment or muscular imbalance that can lead to pain or injury.
  4. You regularly suffer with migraine or tension headaches.  Both of these types of headaches are highly associated with chronic mis-alignment of the neck and/or excessive build-up of stress along the spine as it anchors at the base of the skull.
  5. One leg appears shorter than the other.  You may or may not feel this. To check, lie on your tummy with your legs straight out, and have a friend look at your heels or ankles to compare.
  6. One foot flares out when you stand, walk or lie on your back.  Often a sign of pelvic or hip mis-alignment. To check, from standing look down when your relaxed and see if the same foot always toes out, or lie on your back and see if you find one foot turns out more than the other.
  7.  You regularly feel stiff in your back or neck.  Spinal mis-alignments called “fixations” decrease spinal mobility and create stiffness. Left to get worse, they will often lead to joint pain or disc injury.
  8. You have regular backaches, or sore and tender spots in joints or muscles.  Common signs of spinal mis-alignment,  and/or postural joint and muscle distress.
  9. Your neck or back ‘click’ all the time or you feel the need to “crack” your neck, back, or any other joint to relieve stiffness or pain.  Fixed or immobile joint areas can cause this.
  10. You can’t turn your head to either side without stiffness, or equally, you struggle to bend forward to touch your toes.  Reduced range of motion is a symptom of spinal or pelvic dysfunction and/or muscle tightness which may indicate a brewing problem.
  11. An ache or throb in one (or both) shoulder(s).  Often indicative of joint mis-alignment or postural distress in the lower neck, upper back, or upper ribs.
  12. Drop of one hip or one shoulder when compared to the other side.  Check for this by standing in your underwear in front of a long mirror.
  13. You have pins and needles, tingling, or numbness in your arms, legs, hands, or feet.  A classic sign of excessive nerve pressure in the spine.
  14. Recurrent sprains or muscular strain (pull) injuries.  Pulling muscles regularly during exercise, sport, or even routine work activities is often an indication of body mis-alignment or chronic muscle imbalance.  Postural tightening is another common cause not to be overlooked.
  15. You often feel tired, fatigued, or exhausted.  Chronic tension, pain, stiffness or imbalance in the spine and body is exhausting to your nervous system and can drain your energy.  It will also affect your mood and general sense of well-being.
  16. You have low resistance to colds, flu, and other illnesses.  Spinal dysfunction negatively impacts your immune system.  Correcting spinal dysfunction can boost your energy and bolster your natural resistance against illnesses and disease.
  17. You have difficulty taking a full or satisfying deep breath.  Breathing, posture, chest and rib cage expansion, and healthy spinal function are all inter-related.
  18. Growing pains in children.  Make no mistake, these pains are not normal. Nor do all children get them. These pains commonly represent an alarm bell that something is wrong, mis-aligned, or not working properly in the body of a child.
  19. You feel regular stress, tension, or ache in an area of your body.  Stress dysfunction and postural tightening of joints and muscles are the common culprit here, and can progress to chronic pain or lead to progressive states of dysfunction or injury.
  20. You just don’t feel “right” these days.  Sometimes the symptoms of chronic spinal stress or progressive physical dysfunction can, in the absence of any noticeable pain, result in a sense of fatigue, low mood, and the subtle suspicion that one’s health is not what it used to be.

Chiropractors are expert doctors specialising in the correction of problems located in the spine and neuro-musculo-skeletal framework of the body.  Dr. Eric Kelly is a Chiropractor and physical rehabilitation specialist at the Glanmire Chiropractic Clinic, Eastcliffe House (beside AIB bank), Glanmire, Co.Cork.  Please see the Clinic advertisement on the adjacent page.  For consultation, please phone:  021-4824450.

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