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For more information about chiropractic treatment, contact:

John Ballam, DC

201 Davis Grove Circle, #106
Cary, NC 27519
Telephone: (919) 363-2277

Preventing Injuries From Becoming Chronic

Dr. John Ballam of Legacy Chiropractic likes to remind patients that we each only get one body—and it’s up to us how we choose to invest in our health. “What’s great about chiropractic is that the rewards are very high,” he points out. “You don’t need to wait for a crisis to take care of yourself.”

The location of a pain, notes Dr. Ballam, may not be the source of pain. Here he adjusts the mid-back of a patient complaining of painful “stiff neck.” In her case, he explains, “while her neck has hurting, it was T4 that was out of alignment. A simple adjustment there relieved her neck pain.”

Often, such a crisis comes from pain that hasn’t been addressed. Back pain, neck pain, and headaches are the top three most common symp-toms Dr. Ballam sees.

While he can help individuals with chronic pain, Dr. Ballam stresses that the real strength of chiropractic care lies in preventing problems from becoming chronic. “Chiropractic care isn’t just about fixing a problem once it is causing you pain,” he says. “At its best, it’s a means of self-care, of maintaining the body that we stress physically, mentally, and emotionally every day—so as to help prevent injuries from occurring.”

Health&Healing: Some causes of back pain seem to be out of people’s control, while others are more preventable. How do you see that reflected in your practice?

DR. BALLAM: For some people, the cause of their pain is a trauma—like an accident, a fall, or a sports injury. The tissues may have healed, but not fully and not with the same integrity or strength. Chronic pain can result from such an injury, and how—and how soon—you choose to address it can make a big difference in outcome for those individuals.

The words “Yes,” “No,”
and “Maybe” illustrate
three simple, gentle
stretches to help
relieve minor neck pain.
Nod forward (“yes”).
Stretch side-to-side to
look over each shoulder (“no”). And stretch left
and right while facing
forward (“maybe”)

The second category is probably the most common. It’s the sneaky kind, where people say, “I don’t know where my back pain came from.” In that case, we know it was likely caused by something they’re doing every single day, in repetition—little microtraumas.

H&H: What are these microtraumas?

DR. BALLAM: There are many microtraumas introduced by technology— looking down at our computers and phones. There’s the impact of hours and hours of sitting at our desks or riding in our cars. Those things are sneaky, because nobody looks at their phone and thinks “This is going to give me neck pain someday.”

In fact, a lot of what we do in contemporary life is pretty unnatural. Our bodies aren’t designed to sit for hours hunched over; they’re meant to move. With technology, we’ve created conveniences to make life easier, but they also create problems. Our bodies are actually self-adjusting, but the repetitive stresses can make it harder for the body to auto-correct. And that’s where something like a chiropractic adjustment is needed to help direct health conditions back on course.

H&H: How do you determine the problem when it’s not something obvious?

DR. BALLAM: I use the Gonstead method, which includes five criteria to evaluate the body with precision and accuracy. All these elements are quite important in identifying misalignments or other root causes of back or neck pain, which may not always be what you expect. Most commonly, in fact, the source of the pain is not what’s hurting.

The people with back pain who respond really well are the ones who may have pain—even severe pain—but don’t have a high degree of degeneration. Typically, with the younger patients with back pain, there’s usually a good chance that they’re going to respond very well, and get their lives back to normal pretty quickly.

Top Tips for
Back Health

Surprisingly, Dr. Ballam’s top two recommendations to avoid back pain don’t mention the back at all. Number one is to drink an ample amount of water. “The discs in between the bones of the spine are spacers and when they get dehydrated, they shrink—which can lead to conditions like stenosis,” he explains. “Hydration helps prevent what could become irreversible damage.”

Recommendation number two is to move. “Joints that don’t move can break down and develop issues. Movement doesn’t necessarily mean a complex exercise regimen—a simple walk can deliver major benefits to your bones and joints.”

After determining cause and effect, the goal is two-fold. I want to see better alignment and better mobility at the joint that was the problem. If we can improve the mobility and the position of that bone, the patient will typically respond quickly, usually within a month or less.

H&H: What about the patient who has a high degree of degeneration rather than a simple misalignment?

DR. BALLAM: In those cases, the care is going to be a little different. For example, there’s no adjustment to correct spinal stenosis—which is where a narrowing of the spaces in the spine puts pressure on the nerves that travel through the spine.

But these patients don’t need spinal stenosis and a misalignment on top of that. Spinal stenosis, for example, can also trigger misalignments and muscle pain—conditions that can be treated. My job for these people is to achieve as much improvement as possible and then figure out the least amount of care necessary to maintain that improvement. After the initial treatment—usually also about a month—we’ll transition to a maintenance or supportive care.

Free Posture Assessment

“A posture assessment,” says Dr. Ballam, “is an invaluable tool in chiropractic care. It provides a baseline against which to evaluate future problems. That is why,” he says, “we offer a free digital pos-ture assessment and free consul-tation to assess imbalances and risks.”

To schedule a free initial consultation and posture assessment, call:
(919) 363-2277.

H&H: You advise regular chiropractic care; why is that necessary?

DR. BALLAM: I know that some people initially balk at the idea of ongoing care, to a chiropractor saying “You need to come see me once a month.” It’s ironic, too, because people don’t seem to object to taking medications regularly for their symptoms—even medications that are costly and produce side effects. The problem is, that sort of thinking usually stems from the incorrect belief that you don’t need to do anything to keep feeling good. But that can be a trap because you aren’t always aware of developing problems, and some diseases have no symptoms until they’re very advanced.

As a chiropractor, I naturally look at the spine as the foundation of health. And what I know is that as we go through life, our bodies encounter many traumas—macro and micro—that affect the healthy balance of that foundation. Our bodies are continually adapting to these stresses and strains, and the adaptation often produces other problems. So regular chiropractic care is simply a way to continually bring the body back into balance.  

For cases of injury, the goal is to prevent it from becoming a chronic problem. Too often, people get injured—maybe wrenching their back lifting something heavy—and try to manage it themselves. But, if an injury hasn’t gotten better after about 48 hours, if it hasn’t improved at all or it’s getting worse, that’s when there’s a risk of developing a chronic problem; and that’s when you should seek chiropractic care.”