Patients come in and besides having neuromuscular complaints like back, neck and extremity pain, they feel tired. A typical expression is “I don’t know what is wrong with me, I just don’t feel good.” Re-occurring inflammatory conditions with joint soft tissues and other structural issues can also be related to imbalances in the endocrine system.
“General Adaptation Syndrome” was coined from the early work of Hans Selye, M.D. He did work with animals and subjected them to a series of physical, chemical, and mental stressors over time. People have the same stressors and respond to the same physiological responses. Some clinical indicators are symptoms like: fatigue, dizziness, moodiness, mental anxiety and nervousness, global and joint pain, allergies, mental sluggishness, and headaches.
Adrenal dysfunction can play havoc with many clinical conditions; allergies, and fibromyalgia always have an adrenal dysfunctional component to its presentation. The adrenals and the thyroid glands are involved with carbohydrate assimilation and metabolism for energy production. Therefore, overuse injuries in athletics, like muscle fatigue can turn into a tendonitis or tendinitis. Ligaments are directly influenced by adrenal fatigue and end up as a sprained ankle without having a contact related joint injury.
So how do we assess adrenal dysfunction? Traditional medicine will test adrenal hormone levels in the blood. Functional medicine practitioners will do saliva testing that evaluates the active part of the adrenal hormones by doing a 24-hour test. The hormones fluctuate over 24 hours (cortisol) and should stay in a normal range throughout that time frame. Depending on what time of day the levels go out of range signifying different problems with the adrenal glands. DHEA, IgA, and insulin levels are also checked with saliva testing.
Clinical testing is a very accurate way to evaluate adrenal problems. When doing a physical exam the following should be included: Ragland’s Sign (blood pressure drops when standing), orthostatic postural hypotension, pupillary response test, and Rogoff’s Sign.
In applied kinesiology research the following muscles can get weak/inhibited: sartorius, gracilis, posterior tibialis, gastrocnemius, and soleus. These muscle must always be checked when treating back and lower extremity sports-related injuries. Athletes stress out their adrenals every day they play. Chronic stress leads to enlargement of the adrenal glands, atrophy of the thymus gland and lymphatic tissues, and stomach and duodenal ulcers.
Effective treatment consists of nutritional supplements, plant based adaptogens, acupuncture, spinal and extremity reflex points and specific spinal segmental adjustments to balance out the sympathetic and parasympathetic functional neurology. Other dietary and lifestyle considerations include: avoiding concentrated sugars, excess caffeine consumption, stress reduction techniques and light cardio exercises.