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Posted on 04-27-2014

From The Desk of Ann Arbor Chiropractor Mike Tannenbaum, D.C.

I did something neat the other day. I was interviewed for a podcast that dealt with body language and Chiropractic. For the podcast I was interviewed by a professional body language expert about what I see in a patients body language that helps me understand the patients condition. Some of the questions the interviewer asked me and my answers were are as follows:

1. What are some of the things you look for in a patient's body language?

Gate (i.e. ambulation or you could say how the patient walks)

Posture (for a example, a low shoulder may mean tightness in the neck or spinal misalignment.)

Facial expression and facial skin color: (for example, people with migraine headaches might have stiff looking facial muscles and facial coloration that is ashen.)

2. What are some body language indicators that might make you think a patient has back pain?

Antalgic Walk: This is where a person has so much pain and tightness in their low back                       that the the only way they can walk is if they are leaning sharply to one side or the other.

Foot Flare: Often when someone has low back pain there feet will angle or flare out                                 laterally where the opposite foot will remain in a straight or close to straight forward                                 direction. This flaring results from the pelvis being out of position translating through the leg                     at the hip socket and to the foot.

Holding their hand over there LB and grimacing.

3. What are some body language indicators that might be present that would make you think that a       patient has neck pain?

Individual holding there head to one side or another.

Tissue swelling of the neck.

Tense looking muscles in the neck region.

4. What are some body language indicators that might present themselves that would make you think that the patient has a head ache?

Furrowed brow.

Gritting teeth

Rubbing the temples and/or base of skull.

Now that I have given you some examples of body language indicators that help me diagnose a patient's condition, it should be added that body language indicators are only useful up to a certain point. A diagnosis can't be made solely using body language indicators. Body language indicators are really only window into what might be the patient's condition. A thorough physical exam must be performed on the patient before a diagnosis can be made.

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