Have you ever heard of the Iceberg principle? Well it is a phenomenon that applies in abundance to Chiropractic care. The definition is as follows:
Observation that in many (if not most) cases only a very small amount of information is available or visible about a situation, whereas the real information or bulk of data is either unavailable or hidden.
The principle gets its name from the fact that only 1/10th of an iceberg’s mass is actually above the surface and the rest is hidden underwater. Some of you may have seen the picture used in a variety of settings with an iceberg showing just how much is underwater with the caption ‘Symptoms are misleading, we find the hidden cause’. Chiropractors find that this is so often the case when dealing with your aches and pains. Sometimes the symptoms that you are feeling may actually have a cause somewhere else, for example it is common that people come to see us with arm pain and through careful examination it is revealed that the cause is actually due to a problem in the neck. It may be that the slight ache that you are feeling is just an amber warning that a bigger problem is just around the corner.
By getting assessed by your Chiropractor they can help to explain the hidden part of the iceberg i.e. how you are moving, spinal stiffness and reduced range of motion which may be contributing to your future problems to come. We can also help to build our understanding of what is going on underneath by using pictures like X-Ray and MRI imaging. Sometimes your Chiropractor may think it is appropriate to obtain images of your spine. By doing this the Iceberg Principle becomes more apparent than ever as to what is actually going on and suddenly that slight ache on the surface becomes the real product of your anatomy and mechanics.
Human bio-mechanics is a wonderful complex field. That painful lower back (tip of the iceberg) can often be traced through your body and often revealed as being a problem in the hip or even the foot and ankle (what is underneath). In these sorts of cases repeatedly working on the site of the pain may feel good and provide some short-term relief but unless the real cause is investigated and corrected there may continue to be a recurrent problem. Everything is interconnected and makes up the whole of the iceberg.
‘Often we find that regular maintenance helps to keep your iceberg as small as possible’
Remember, don’t let your symptoms be the only thing that guides you, when going through the course of care take notice of all the small details like how much more movement you have and how well you can now do that task that you couldn’t before. These things are evidence that everything underneath is beginning to improve and keep you moving long term.