Knee Pain – Do I Need a Replacement?

About a quarter of adults experience frequent knee pain, which results in limited function, reduced mobility, and impaired quality of life. Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common cause of knee pain in those over 50 years of age, and it is the #1 reason for total knee replacement (TKR). The rate of TKR in the United States and the United Kingdom has increased substantially in recent decades, which many have written off as a consequence of our aging populations. But is that really the case?

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One study reviewed long-term data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES) and the Framingham Osteoarthritis (FOA) study. The research team concluded that advancing age is indeed a factor behind the increase in TKR since the 1970s, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. The researchers also found that obesity is a risk factor for symptomatic osteoarthritis of the knee, and as you know, obesity rates have skyrocketed in the last four decades.

So, what can be done to reduce your risk for a total knee replacement? There isn’t anything you can do about getting older, but there’s a lot you can do to maintain a healthy weight. Begin by switching to a more anti-inflammatory diet such as the Mediterranean diet or the Paleo diet. You don’t have to change everything you eat all at once. Start by eating an extra serving of vegetables and one less serving of processed food a day. As you notice yourself starting to feel better, it will give you the confidence to make further dietary modifications.

Because the primary way for the cartilage in your joints to get nutrients is through movement, you’ll need to become more active. Increase the number of steps you take per day and raise the intensity over time. You should also engage in balance and strength training exercises.

Of course, you’ll also need to ensure your knee isn’t subjected to abnormal movements both above and below that can compromise the tissues that make up the joint. For example, ankle pronation can overload the medial compartment of the knee. Similarly, a problem in the hip, pelvis, or lower back can also place stress on the knee, which can impair its function. That’s why doctors of chiropractic evaluate the whole patient to identify any and all contributing factors to a patient’s chief complaint. Otherwise, the patient may not experience a satisfactory outcome.

 

This information should not be substituted for medical or chiropractic advice. Any and all health care concerns, decisions, and actions must be done through the advice and counsel of a health care professional who is familiar with your updated medical history.

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Low Back Pain: What Can I Do for It?

Back-Pain-PNG-FileLow back pain (LBP) is the second most common reason for doctor visits in the United States and it is a condition that most of us will at some point in our lives. Last month, we reviewed the wide acceptance of spinal manipulation as the treatment of choice for both acute and chronic LBP. This month, let’s take a look at what you can do outside the doctor’s office to self-manage acute and chronic low back pain.

One of the best self-management protocols for LBP is exercise that targets the lower back. It appears that the optimal time to engage in exercises for the lower back is during the work day since doing so may help alleviate some of the overuse and repetitive strain contributing to one’s LBP. Let’s focus on exercises you can perform from either a sitting or standing position during short work breaks…

RULES: Perform slowly to a full/firm stretch without pain; take three slow deep breaths for each; only do exercises that “fit” your job and time limits—this might be only one every fifteen minutes; make it work!

SITTING EXERCISES: 1) Sitting Forward Bends – bend forward and reach for the floor (as far as reasonably tolerated). 2) Sitting trunk rotations – twist slowly left, then right. 3) Cross Leg Stretch – cross one leg over the other; grasp and pull the crossed leg knee to the opposite shoulder while arching the back to its maximum until a firm stretch is felt in the buttocks.

STANDING EXERCISES: 1) Hamstring Stretch – place one foot on an elevated surface (like a chair seat, foot stool, or guard rail); perform an anterior pelvic tilt by arching your low back until you feel a firm stretch in the hamstrings. Switch sides and repeat. 2) Groin Stretch – do exactly the same steps as the hamstring stretch but this time, rotate your trunk to the side of the standing leg (away from the stretched leg) until you feel the stretch in the inner thigh or groin muscles. 3) Backward Bends – place your fists behind your low back and slowly bend backwards to a maximum tolerated point.

These “portable” exercises can be performed frequently throughout the work day, whenever you can spare 30-60 seconds. The most important point is to do these exercises on a regular basis. It may help keep your LBP from worsening during your workday.

Can Chiropractic Help Prevent a Hamstring Injury?

hamstringSports that require rapid acceleration and deceleration, cutting left and right, agility, jumping, and bending pose a unique risk for injury to the lower limbs. Hamstring injuries are the most prevalent injury in Australian rules football, afflicting 16% of players, causing an average of 3.4 missed matches per injury, accounting for the most time lost due to injury, and having the highest recurrence rate once players return to the active roster. Moreover, a player’s performance can be highly diminished by hamstring injuries.

In a 2010 study, researchers randomly assigned 57 male Australian football players to either a control group that received the current best practice medical and sports science management or an intervention group that received the same care with the addition of a sports chiropractic manual therapy injury prevention program that included manipulation/mobilization and/or soft tissue therapies to the spine and lower extremities. Both groups received a minimum of one treatment per week for six weeks, one treatment every two weeks for three months, and one treatment per month for the remainder of the season (three months).

At the close of the season, the researchers found that the group receiving the chiropractic injury intervention program reported significantly fewer primary lower-limb muscle strains and weeks missed due to no-contact knee injury than the other group. Though lower-limb injury prevention was the primary focus of this study, the players in the chiropractic group also experienced fewer episodes of back pain.

Because dysfunction in one area of the body can place added stress elsewhere, it’s important to examine the whole patient in order to identify other issues that may either be the cause or contribute to the patient’s chief complaint. Likewise, preventative care focused on maintaining proper motion in the joints throughout the body can lead to a reduced risk for injury, as was demonstrated by this study.

What Exercises Are Best for Neck Pain?

Past research has demonstrated that combining spinal manipulative therapy (SMT) with exercise yields the best long-term results for individuals with neck pain. So what neckpain-e1464705188848exercises should we consider when neck pain rears its ugly head?

In the acute phase of an injury, rest and ice may be appropriate, but patients will often benefit from lightly applied isometric exercises. Place your hand against the side of your head and lightly push your head into your hand for a count of five seconds. If tolerated, tip your head sideways five to ten degrees and repeat the process. This can be repeated multiple times at progressively greater angles until you’ve accessed your full range of motion (ROM).

The above isometric exercise can be repeated in the opposite direction as well as forwards, backwards, and into left and right rotation directions. The KEY is to always stay within reasonable pain boundaries—no sharp/”bad” pain allowed!

You can then move on to isotonic neck exercises. Using the same amount of light pressure, gently push your head into your hand as you did before, but this time, allow the head to move slowly toward the shoulder against the pressure of the hand. This too can be repeated on the opposite side, forwards, backwards, and into left and right rotation.

Using only one or two fingers rather than the whole hand helps to prevent you from pushing too hard with your hand or head when performing isometrics or isotonic exercises. Also, the same movements of the head can be done without any hand/finger resistance, but faster results seem to occur when pressure is applied.

Studies also show that weakness of the deep neck flexor muscles is

very common in people with chronic (more than three months) neck pain. These are deep, involuntary muscles, so to properly strengthen them, look straight ahead, tuck in your chin as far as you can, hold for five to ten seconds, and repeat five to ten times.

Beyond treatment options for neck pain such as spinal manipulation, mobilization, and exercise, your doctor of chiropractic may utilize soft tissue therapies such as myofascial release, active release technique, as well as various physical therapy modalities, ergonomic modifications, and more in the effort to help you get out of pain and return to your normal activities.

21 ½ minutes = 5 years

Is It Possible to Increase Your Lifespan?

21 ½ minutes = 5 years? Sorry Doc, but the math doesn’t add up. Maybe we should shed some light on this concept. According to a study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, adults who include at least 150 minutes of physical activity in their routines each week (that’s 22 ½ minutes a day) live longer than those who don’t.
Elliptical-800x449The researchers used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, the National Health Interview Study mortality linkage, and U.S. Life Tables to estimate and compare the life expectancy at each age for adults who were inactive, somewhat-active and active. “Active” was defined as doing at least 150 minutes of moderate activity per week. They found that participants were estimated to gain as little as 2 years and as much as 5.5 potential years of life through moderate exercise alone.

Is There Proof That Exercise Lengthens Life Span?

Telomeres are the protective caps at the ends of chromosomes that protect your DNA and genetic information. Telomeres are like the plastic caps on the end of yotelomeres-image-nasaur shoelaces that protect the laces from becoming frayed. Shorter telomeres have been linked in previous research with cell aging and increased risks of age-related diseases like cancer and dementia, as well as premature death. In a study by Dr. Dean Ornish, researchers looked at 35 men with prostate cancer. 10 of those men were put on a strict lifestyle modification including moderate exercise, a plant-based diet, and yoga. Researchers found that telomere length actually increased among the men who were assigned to undergo the lifestyle intervention by an average of 10 percent. This is the first study to show that humans have the ability to lengthen their lifespan by exercise and diet.

Don’t you think it’s time to lace up those sneakers?

Forever Young

What Lifestyle Habits Have Been Shown to Increase Life Span?

Most of us like to think of ourselves as young: young in heart at least, if not actually young in years. But is it possible to stay “forever young” in terms of health and wellness? Here are two key tips. They may seem obvious, but the power is in actually implementing these tips consistently over time.

Tip #1: Eat less. Each person has his or her own caloric balancing point beyond which extra food will be retained as fat. If your average daily calorie consumption is right around this critical value, all the energy in the food you eat will be used to support your physical functioning. But extra calories will not be burned up and this unused energy will be stored as fat. Over time, increasing fat stores frequently lead to chronic disease such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. So with respect to long-term health, it’s a very good idea to avoid overeating. Of course, we want to have fun, too, but that’s what a “free food day” is for. If you eat within your caloric range on six days of the week, the seventh can be a “free day” when you can eat whatever you want. Such a system works very well for ongoing optimal weight management (which, of course, means ongoing health and well-being, contributing to our notion of “forever young”).

Tip #2: Exercise more. Did you ever see a gymnast, competitive swimmer, or professional dancer who didn’t look absolutely terrific? These young men and women are in such good shape owing to the high volume of exercise they do every week. Do you know an older adult who was on a high school or college gymnastics team or was a professional dancer long ago? Isn’t that person still really healthy and fit? Such long-term fitness results from a lifelong habit of exercise. The very good news is that even if you haven’t exercised in many, many years, you can still derive benefit for years to come from starting to exercise, right now.

You get fit by doing the work. Not all at once of course, but gradually, steadily, building up strength and endurance, starting right where you are. The secret is to begin. And after not too long a time, you’ll find that your new habit of exercise is providing all kinds of surprising benefits, including deeper, more restful sleep and increased energy and exuberance. Not to mention weight loss and a slimmer waistline. These two tips, eating less and exercising more, have been known for decades.

Exercise Halts the Dementia Gene

How Does Exercise Affect the Onset of Dementia?

Dementia is the sixth-leading cause of death in the U.S. today, and experts say the next generation could see twice as many people suffering from it, particularly in old age. But avoiding the brain-deteriorating disease could be as simple as remembering to exercise just a few times a week, according to a new study, which appears to inhibit the expression of the “dementia gene.”

exercisingOver the course of 18 months, researchers from the University of Maryland measured the brain sizes of elderly participants who were divided into four groups. The activity levels of each of the participants were gauged in conjunction with whether or not they possessed a gene known as APOE-e4, which has been associated with an increased risk of dementia.

Up to 30 percent of the population possesses this gene, and the research team wanted to see whether or not physical exertion affects its expression. What they found is that those with APOE-e4 who exercised at least three times a week experienced a lesser overall decrease in brain mass, a common sign of dementia, compared to those who engaged in little or no exercise.

“We found that physical activity has the potential to preserve the volume of the hippocampus in those with increased risk for Alzheimer’s disease, which means we can possibly delay cognitive decline and the onset of dementia symptoms in these individuals,” stated Dr. J. Carson Smith, one of the study’s authors. “Physical activity interventions may be especially potent and important for this group.”

Exercise alone is hardly the best approach, as nutrition is equally if not more important for preserving brain function, it is vital for maintaining good health, especially in old age. Though it defies the outdated conventional thinking of the past, consuming more saturated fats in the diet will feed your brain the nutrients it needs for proper repair and function. That means getting off the bad advice of the 70’s through the 90’s and getting off the nutrient deficient low-fat craze. The best saturated fats come from foods like coconut oil, pastured butter, ghee, and pastured animals. “The brain thrives on a fat-rich, low-carbohydrate diet, which unfortunately is relatively uncommon in human populations today,” wrote neurologist Dr. David Perlmutter in his best-selling book Grain Brain.