Evaluation and Treatment of Soft Tissue (Text Warren Hammer, D.C., an internationally recognized expert in the field who Dr. Fox has studied with)
Soft tissue is defined as all the tissue in the body that connects, moves and supports the body. Muscles, ligaments, tendons and the connective tissue fascia which surrounds almost everything in the body are all considered soft tissue. As far as back or neck pain is concerned, it is important to understand that the spine is a passive structure moved by muscle and supported by connective tissue. Just using chiropractic manipulation for a spinal problem without examining and treating shortened, restrictive soft tissue can result in the spine reverting back to its painful restrictive position. Just treating the spine without releasing the "guy wires" often results in excessive spinal treatments that are not successful in normalizing the area.
What is a soft tissue restriction? Soft tissue restrictions are due to collagen fibers in muscles, ligaments and fascia that are unable to respond to stretching and normal "give" when moving. Typical trouble spots include the neck, back, shoulder or knee. The fibers are described as being abnormally "cross linked" and often contain fibrotic nodules. Restrictive tissue anywhere in the body is abnormal and can cause not only local pain but can be related to the cause of distant pain in seemingly unrelated parts of the body.
How are soft tissue restrictions found? First, test for shortening of the connective tissue located around the spine and all of the major joints of the body. Next, palpate (examine by skillful touching) these specific areas for tenderness and blockage. Many of these restrictions can only be found by having the patient move in various positions to determine the stessful areas. Even MRI's do not detect these types of pain sources. Freeing up these restrictions will also free up what are known as "trigger points" which are symptoms of the restriction.
How are soft tissue restrictions freed? Methods range from very light fascial release to more vigorous methods. All involve hands-on care and usually result in some immediate relief.
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