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Dear Dr. Bowness,

How do I know if I need to go to a Chiropractor or a physiotherapist?   My hip is killing me in the socket and buttock area, and no one can tell me what’s wrong.  What should I do?

Pain in the Butt


Dear Pain in the Butt,

To ensure your gluteus is the maximus (insert groan here), choose a clinic or practioner who is adept at assessing the true source of the dysfunction.  In other words, choose someone who can tell if the problem requires exercises and stretches, or requires an adjustment, or both.  The professional who refers freely between both, or can skillfully perform both, is your best choice.

 In your case, the hip socket pain could be caused by your hip not sitting in the socket properly. This is often caused by your sacroiliac joint (at the bottom of your spine where it forms the pelvis) not moving properly.  When this joint is “stuck” it causes extra strain on the hip in the socket which in turn causes the often unexplained hip socket pain. 


I hope this helps you get to the “bottom” of your pain,

Dr. Bowness


Dear Dr. Bowness,

I am dreading my annual big snow mobile trip this year… that’s right… but don’t tell my wife.  Last year I was in pain for a month from my ears to my tail bone!  To tell you the truth, I’m not sure I ever completely recovered. 

What should I do to prepare for the trip?



Dear Sled-Dread,

This is a very common complaint. If you think about it; when you sit on a snow machine your feet are stretched out forward with partially bent knees.  This causes you to sit on the back of your buttock causing your low back to slouch backwards and your shoulders to slouch forward and your head to be in front of your body.  Basically your spine is “C”-shaped, and to add icing on the cake add a helmet for extra weight.  Now bounce like that for 8 hours, 7 days in a row.

Now, how do you undo that damage? It’s unlikely that at this point you can do it by yourself.  To eliminate the guess work, you will need to have an assessment to find out what exactly all this pounding did to your body.  At that point you will have a treatment plan customized for your issues. 

Have fun on the dreaded trip, and if we don’t see you before…. We certainly will be seeing you after, because your wife will call to make the appointment!

Dr. Bowness


Dear Dr. Bowness,

 I have jaw pain and clicking that is achy and very loud (which can be very embarrassing).  Sometimes I get shooting pains but that is rare. Although do find myself clenching my jaw, what is really bothering me is my headache.  How do I know if the problems are related or separate problems? What should I do?  I’m worried because I always get worse in the winter after wearing my snow mobile helmet.



Dear Clencher,


Without a doubt a cracking jaw can be embarrassing, but that is the least of your concerns…. What is more important is that you don’t develop arthritis in your jaw joint (TMJ or temperomandibular joint), which will lead to chronic pain while you are chewing. 

One of the most common causes of jaw clunking is an imbalance in the muscles of the jaw.  Try these home tests:  look in the mirror, and open your mouth really wide; it should open evenly and pop open at the same time on both sides.  If it wags from side to side your muscles are imbalanced and require massage of the pterigoid muscles behind your molars.  You should also be able to fit the width of 3 fingers in between your teeth.  If this is a problem your headache can be from your jaw.  Believe it or not your first vertebra can refer pain to your jaw, and or cause an ear ache.  It is very common to have jaw pain and headaches when your 1st vertebra is not sitting properly.  Try this: to feel the side of your 1st vertebra poke your finger in the little spot just behind your jaw and just under your ear… if it hurts then your 1st vertebra could be contributing to your headache.  The reason that your symptoms get worse when you wear your helmet is because it is held on by your jaw and the added weight strains your neck going over bumpy trails.

For treatment, look for a practitioner that can do massage work on the jaw muscles in your mouth, and if necessary can combine it with acupuncture or adjustments for the right combination for you.

I hope this answer is the clincher to your clenching.

Dr. Bowness


Dear Dr. Bowness,

I have found that I am increasingly unsteady on my feet.  This is leading me to do less and less unless the conditions are perfect.  I love to walk, but needless to say, winter is becoming a big problem.   Is this it for me?  Is it too late, or can I reverse the problem?

Nervous Nellie


Dear Nellie,

Your problem is that your joints are not sending the proper signals (or not enough signals) to your brain/central nervous system.  For example, how it should work is… when your foot hits the ice, signals from your foot joints quickly fire to your spinal cord sending off reflexes that coordinate your knees, hips, back and even your arms fly up in response.  And if all works well, you won’t wipe out.  For this to work properly, the signals have to be very quick and correct.   And just like so many other systems in your body… if you don’t use it, you lose it.     

The good news is that this process can be reversed.   And even better news is that you can do the work on your own.  The exercises required to reverse the problem, involve taking the joints through full ranges of motion while balancing on unstable bases.  These bases start off relatively easy and get progressively more challenging. 

Keep in mind that after an injury (ie. sprained ankle or knee) or after a surgery (ie. knee scope or replacement), these signals need to be re-trained because the signals will be different.  If these signals are not re-trained the joint will be the weak link in the system, and the whole system will not work in co-ordination, leading to many different (seemingly unrelated) injuries.

If you are having problems with balance, come in for an examination and I will point you in the proper direction toward recovering your coordination as quickly as possible.  Don’t go at this willy-nilly, Nervous Nellie!

Dr. Bowness