The Chiropractic Evaluation, From the Feet Up

by Amy O’Donnell, DC

Many people visit the chiropractor and simply get adjusted. Yet there is so much more that a chiropractor can add to your overall wellness especially if you experience aches and pain. If you ever visit a chiropractor, ask for a full musculoskeletal evaluation.

The following components should be included in every chiropractic evaluation:

Foot and Gait Analysis: A thorough chiropractic evaluation begins with the feet, or the foundation of the body. Your interface with gravity, a foot and gait analysis tells a lot about a person’s structure. Take, for example, those who have flat or “pronated” feet. Many of them have developed faulty foot mechanics, which eventually can affect the entire body.

Measuring Leg Length: Leg length discrepancy can lead to persistent pain, and create weakness or tightness in multiple muscle groups.

Flexibility Evaluation: Key areas for specific evaluation include the shoulders and hips. There is a saying that, “the knee has two bad neighbors, the feet and the hip.” Understanding a patient’s pain often requires “peeling the onion” to get to the root cause of one’s pain.

Postural Analysis: As we move up the “kinetic chain”, a postural analysis investigates the potential for neck, shoulder and lower back problems, all of which emanate from the mid back or thoracic spine.

Structural Asymmetry: Often issues relating to scoliosis create problems in distant parts of the body. Such asymmetry also changes how our muscles work. For example, an asymmetry in either the shoulder or hip from right to left predicts pain during movement patterns.

Differential Muscle Strength: Pelvic rotation, hamstring and hip flexor tightness are key components in evaluation. These can create uneven stresses on the entire musculoskeletal system, resulting in pain.

Fascial Evaluation: A new area of expertise involves evaluating the body’s fascial system. Fascia is like the saran wrap of the body. It links and covers all of our organs, muscles, tendons and ligaments. Because it lies in different planes, a fascial restriction in the lower back may affect the neck or shoulder. Those adhesions can be palpated through the hands of a well-trained practitioner.

Core Stability: Stability and strength of the “core” muscles of the abdomen and lower back cannot be underestimated in the role of causing issues in your arms and legs. Weakness, injury, or surgery involving the abdominal muscles, diaphragm, spinal muscles and lower pelvic muscles, their strength or lack thereof have a direct effect on how well the body functions. A weak core is a predictor of arm or leg issues because the strain of supporting the body is shifted to these areas, which were not designed for this task.

Keep in mind that a thorough chiropractic evaluation is the mainstay in injury treatment and prevention. Once the assessment is done and a plan is provided, you are that much closer to a healthier lifestyle.