Assessing body movement to treat pain


NOVEMBER 2015 – How well do you move? Do you ever think about it? What, are you supposed to? Yes, and well, no.

Movement or how you move is usually automatic, we really don’t think about it. We do notice when we are throwing a ball and feel pain in our shoulder, or feel pain in the lower back as you get up after sitting.

Pain is a warning sign something is not moving or working correctly.

When you have pain something is amiss, but what about when you don’t have pain or the pain is only intermittent.

Unless there is acute trauma, like from a motor vehicle accident, when we evaluate a patient we watch how they move. Does their mid (thoracic) spine rotate and extend as it should? When they bend over can they touch their toes and if they can how do they go about it?

I have had patients be able to touch their hands on the floor yet their low back (lumbar spine) doesn’t really participate in the movement. Or the young gymnast that can do a backbend, but the movement all occurs in lower back. These alterations in movement will eventually result in some type of pain.

It is fascinating how amazing the human body is.

When the body undergoes injury, pain, discomfort or tightness, the brain and motor control systems (the part of the brain controlling movement) has the amazing ability to change the movement or movement patterns of your body to work around the pain. An example is like a limp from a sprained ankle.

Think of the brain and the motor control center like the CPU (central processing unit) of your computer. Movement patterns are like software that can and will be changed or re-written because of pain or dysfunction in the system.

We used to think after injury and once the patient was pain free the changed movement pattern or motor control of the limp from an ankle sprain would just change back to a preset. What we know now is most of the time this does not happen.

That is why current research tells us the No. 1 predictor you will suffer an injury to your shoulder, back or ankle is you have had a previous injury to the same joint. Why? Altered body movement patterns! Your program changed but never changed back.

Go to the mall and watch people walk, do their arms swing or are the movements stiff. These are all signs besides pain of altered movement.

If you want to have your movement evaluated see a doctor trained in the Selective Functional Movement Assessment (SFMA). This is a proven method to examine faulty movement patterns and be able identify what is not working.

We can develop treatment strategies to treat pain and movement problems that may be a distance from the perceived pain.

SFMA was developed with a multidisciplinary team of practitioners. The treatment might include a chiropractic adjustment of a joint, Neurokinetic therapy (NKT), soft tissue work, exercise, self-release techniques, acupuncture or laser.

We use the SFMA to measure the progress. If you have suffered from chronic pain or reoccurring injury or just want to move better, schedule an appointment with our office for an examination. We will evaluate with orthopedic tests, Chiropractic evaluation and of course the SFMA.

Stephen C. Gradwohl, D.C has been in practice for 30 years. In addition to his Doctor of Chiropractic degree Dr. Gradwohl is a certified chiropractic sports physician, is certified in acupuncture and active release technique. He is also a Level lll Neurokinetic Therapy specialist and a Loomis Digestive Health specialist. In addition, he is a Diplomate of the American Board of Chiropractic Orthopedics. You can reach Dr. Gradwohl at the Optimal Health Center (OHC) by calling 913-888-3338. You can also find OHC online at

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