Prosthetic care rarely exists in a vacuum. Achieving excellent prosthetic outcomes often require the assistance of other wellness disciplines, including the chiropractic wellness model.
Why you should consider chiropractic treatments
Limb loss compromises the body's structural element and there is bound to be a change in one's cranial, spinal, and pelvic biomechanics. The chiropractic wellness model can improve outcomes for many amputees. It can address biomechanical and postural issues—imbalances or dysfunction in the cranial-kinematic, limb, pelvic, and spinal areas—when complemented with prosthetic care, leading to improved quality of life and alleviation of any pain.
Dysfunctions in the areas mentioned above are also known as "subluxation" or partial dislocation, and partial dislocations resulting from limb loss can occur in any joint connection.
For individuals with lower-limb loss, chiropractic therapy needs to focus on the lumbosacral, femoral, and sacroiliac joints. Treatment requires checking for subluxation in the opposite limb to restore the biomechanics of the whole body.
Meanwhile, for those with upper-limb limb loss, chiropractic therapy will focus on the thoracic rib, acromioclavicular and scapular subluxation. Dorsal and cervical dysfunction will also be checked.
In a nutshell, chiropractic therapy focuses on improving your health through spinal alignment and balance. Achieving postural balance is even more critical for prosthetic limb users to minimize injury in the sound side limb due to overcompensation.
Most chiropractic wellness models use an activator, craniosacral, and Thompson protocols to treat postural and structural asymmetry that could lead to pelvic, limb, and spinal subluxation. Correcting subluxation in these areas results in increased blood flow, decreased pain in the affected joint, and improved motion.
In this article, we give you an overview of these chiropractic treatments.
Activator chiropractic adjustment
The activator protocol uses a handheld device that delivers a regulated force into the affected joint to restore proper alignment and motion. Using this method, the chiropractor uses leg-length comparison to determine the affected joint's location and evaluate the spinal and pelvic function. If a lower-limb amputee undergoes this treatment, they will need to wear their prosthetic limb during the exam.
The Activator Adjusting Instrument delivers a directed low-force pulse to a spinal joint to restore its motion.
Thompson chiropractic treatment
For the Thompson protocol, a patient needs to get on a pneumatic drop table, also known as a chiropractic stationary table, to evaluate and treat pelvic and spinal subluxation. The chiropractor uses the table's drop mechanism to restore normal motion to the affected joint, which results in improved body alignment and postural symmetry.
A pneumatic drop table, also known as a chiropractic stationary table, is used to evaluate and treat pelvic and spinal subluxation.
Another therapeutic option a patient can consider involves clinical neurodynamics, which is developed based on new neuroscience findings.
These findings show that an entire nervous system is a continuous unit that slides and moves in the body. These movements then impact blood flow to the nerve bed and inflammation around it, and scar tissue formation.
In total, clinical neurodynamics incorporates body movement in the treatment to produce mechanical effects in the peripheral nervous system. This treatment is still relatively new, and patients need to discuss this option with their prosthetist and chiropractor further.
These chiropractic treatments can be done alone or integrated with other therapies, such as mirror therapy.If you're interested in incorporating the chiropractic wellness model in your prosthetic treatment plan, we suggest consulting your prosthetist and limb-loss rehabilitation team.