It’s time for me to answer your questions! This one comes to us from Crisi Ellsworth of California: “Can you please explain to me why are chiropractors bad for EDS?”
MM: To the best of my knowledge, it’s not that we should avoid chiropractic work entirely, it’s that we should not regularly have our joints manually (aka roughly) adjusted. Some Chiros see adjusting the alignment of our bones as the solution to our problems, and every once in a while, it is. However, as hypermobile people, our bones will snap back from the adjustment, and then fall out again easily. Remember: the reason why we have pain is not because of our ligament/tendon issue: it’s because our muscles and soft tissues are desperately trying to keep up with the bones, which have fallen out because the ligament/tendon doesn’t hold them well. The muscles get overworked with all of this back and forth, and they are often unhappy anyway, because they have been overworking trying to provide the stability that the connective tissue can’t. My chiropractor, Dr. John Michie, sees me as having a muscle problem, not a bone problem. Our joints become out of place because the muscle is too weak or tense and that will either pull it out or let it fall out. Without addressing the muscle issue, you won’t fix the joint problem. Dr Michie says that after 20+ years of experience, he is learning that almost all chiropractic issues in people are soft tissue issues, not bone/joint. Also, my wonderful Physical Therapist, doesn’t “adjust” misalignments: she helps me reset bones ACTIVELY by using an isometric exercise, as opposed to PASSIVELY getting an adjustment. Occasionally, a passive technique is necessary to help me fix a joint, and Dr. Michie has used the activator on me only when he couldn’t do something else, or when providing trigger point therapy is not enough. (Activators are safe, but I used to get that kind of adjustment every week by another practice, and would fall apart by the time I hit the door to leave…)
Crisi: I don’t understand the activator itself. How does a little click make you realign?
MM: There have been numerous studies on this method. I know it works on collagen-normal people, because I have heard first hand how much better they feel afterwards, and we the collagen-challenged are so moveable, it doesn’t take much to jostle us in and out of place. But you should do a strengthening exercise right then to keep the bone in place, or the adjustment won’t hold. The bottom line is, you need to work with a chiropractor who understands hypermobility. They should be doing 90% soft tissue work on you. If you are trying to find one, I would interview the person before you have them work on you to see who is a good fit, or who is willing to evolve their practice by learning from the information you are giving them about your unique needs.