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Functional Friday Episode #10 – Exam

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Our exam at Premier Chiropractic is a thorough evaluation of movement, along with pain provoking orthopedic testing to find out where your problem is coming from. The first thing I would like to clarify is that if a patient is in need of some more detailed studies like X-Ray or MRI, or something of that nature, we make sure to send out for those types of studies. With that being said, most musculoskeletal conditions that we see do not need imaging, and respond well to conservative care.

Our exam usually starts with the top tier of the Selective Functional Movement Assessment (SFMA). This top tier of testing gives us a good outline of a persons overall movement system. From there, we go into more specific testing based on the patient presentation.

The first thing we look at it posture. Posturally there are some easy things we can do to decrease tone in our tissues. Our tissues have a certain threshold that they can usually withstand before producing pain. Many times, if a muscle is being constantly used in a way that is not conducive to how it was meant to be used, and it is being overworked, it can eventually lead to pain. Posture is something that is vital to an optimally functioning movement system.

Next we will look at movement patterns, which includes the top tier of the SFMA, and then some other specific movement pattern testing that will allow us to differentiate your movements as Functional (good), Dysfunctional (bad), Non-Painful (good), Painful (bad), or any combination of these. This gives us the ability to come back and see if you are improving on more than just a pain scale. We know the importance of assessing movement, so if we are really going to make someone able to function better, we need some checks and balances, something to come back to, to see if we are really changing movement. This grading system gives us the ability to do that.

Next we will check out breathing mechanics, which is vital to a properly functioning movement system. There will be a video made in the future just on breathing, but in its most basic sense we should be belly breathing the vast majority of our days, and if we are not it can lead to problems. If you are curious about the importance of breathing, please check out this link for more information: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3578435/ 


Next we will check out any muscular asymmetry or trigger points. A trigger point is that “knot” feeling we all have had in our muscles. These trigger points are indicators of an improperly functioning movement system. They need to be dealt with via some soft tissue techniques that we use, but they are a greater indicator of dysfunction in your overall movement system. This is because if your movement is dysfunctional, your body will try to stabilize in a way that is not the best strategy.

Lastly we check out joint movement. From a chiropractic perspective, we know that we need our spinal segments to have complete freedom of motion, and not have any restrictions in movement. This means a facet joint in the spine must be able to move in flexion, extension, lateral flexion, and rotation. Joints being able to accomplish these movements is vital to movement patterns and muscular activation, because if we lack that movement our body will start using improper strategies to accomplish the movement.

Our exam is thorough, and we believe it gives us the best chance to get the best results with our patients. Knowing what is going on with someones movement system is vitally important to guiding treatment, and is something we pride ourselves on at Premier Chiropractic.

Dr. Kirk Mason, Premier Chiropractic, Minot ND