Diagnosing Your Condition

Spinal Function Exam

After taking a complete case history to review the important past and current factors impacting your health, a thorough spinal and biomechanical function examination will be conducted. You will be asked to turn and bend to assess your current range of motion compared to a healthy range of motion. Your posture will be checked. A kinesiology exam will test reflexes and muscle strength, and other orthopedic and neurological tests may be performed to evaluate challenges to healthy, pain-free body movement.

Based on the examination findings, x-rays or other types of diagnostic imaging may be necessary. These images can help reveal pathologies, document the history of your spinal health, and guide Dr. Santoliva in creating a care program based on your unique spinal condition.

Surface Electromagnetic Scan

Using safe, non-invasive ultrasound to perform a surface EMG scan of the spine, the amount of electrical output from the nervous system to the muscles can be measured to determine if the nerves (and therefore the muscles) are overworking or under working, possibly as a result of misalignment of the spine.

The ultrasound machine uses sensors attached to pads applied directly to the surface of the skin on either side of the spine at the junction of each spinal joint. The scan takes about five minutes to complete and a color printout is provided which Dr. Santoliva will discuss with you to diagnose your issues and propose a treatment plan.

Impact of Spinal Malfunctions

Your examination will reveal any areas of your spine that are malfunctioning. These spinal malfunctions often result in nervous system compromise, impairment in the muscles that support the spine, and damage to other soft tissues of the spine. This may start a degenerative process known as the vertebral subluxation complex, causing a range of unhealthy functioning that chiropractic can address.

For any areas of abnormal spinal function identified, Dr. Santoliva will recommend a customized chiropractic care program, including spinal adjustments. Your plan of care will be based on your age, condition, lifestyle, and unique spinal problems. Your treatment plan will be monitored to fit your progress, with a re-assessment after 12 visits.

Abnormal Spinal Conditions

Abnormal motion or position of bones (spinal kinesiopathology)

Physical trauma such as improper lifting, car accidents, repetitive motions, and poor sleeping habits can cause spinal problems. Emotional stress can also cause physical stress that impacts your spine.

Like the tires on your car, without proper alignment, your spine can experience uneven wear and tear resulting from a variety of factors. Like the coordinated strokes of longboat oarsmen, each spinal joint must move properly for optimum health.
Return to Top of Page

Abnormal nervous system function (neuropathophysiology)

Improper motion or position of spinal bones can rub, irritate, pinch, or choke delicate nerves. This can impair the function of the tissues, organs, and systems controlled by these nerves. Nerves can become overexcited and hyperactive, or choked or compressed, and not send the proper signals for healthy functioning.
Return to Top of Page

Abnormal muscle function (mild pathology)

Muscles supporting the spine can weaken and atrophy, or become tight and go into spasm. Unfortunately, scar tissue and adhesions penetrate these malfunctioning muscles and reduce their elasticity. Or overdeveloped muscles on one side of your spine can cause individual spinal bones to twist and lose proper function. Like an unevenly matched tug-of-war contest, excess muscle tension on one side of your spine against muscle weakness on the other can result in painful and restricted movement.
Return to Top of Page

Abnormal soft tissue function (histopathology)

Discs, ligaments, and other soft tissues can malfunction, too. Spinal discs can bulge from inflammation, tear or herniate, putting painful pressure on sensitive nerves. These important soft tissues have a limited blood supply, so proper healing often requires continued care even after the relief of obvious symptoms, to avoid reoccurrence.
Return to Top of Page

Abnormal function of the spine and body (pathophysiology)

The body responds with bone spurs and spinal decay, fusing malfunctioning spinal joints. Degenerative changes can be seen in other organs and tissues which have been deprived of normal nerve control. If neglected joints of the spine not moving properly can fuse into a solid block of calcium, like mineral deposits in a cave. Jagged bone spurs can form irritating surrounding soft tissues.
Return to Top of Page