A Weak Core May Contribute to Hip Pain

When people think of hip pain, they generally turn to hip-specific exercises as a self–help strategy.  However, recent evidence shows there’s a correlation between poor core stability of the trunk and injury to the lower extremities, which includes the hips.  In March 2018, Belgian researchers reviewed data from nine previously published studies with a focus on the importance of core stability and its relationship to lower extremity musculoskeletal injuries in a healthy athletic population. The investigators reported that core strength, core proprioception (balance), and neuromuscular control (coordination) of the core are directly linked to the likelihood of lower extremity injuries.  

Let’s take a closer look at three specific core strengthening exercises that can be done relatively fast and are highly effective (you can view several demonstration videos on YouTube if you search for “stuart mcgill’s big-3 core exercises”).

1) The Curl-Up (abdominal strength): STEP 1 — Lie on your back, straighten your left leg, and bend your right leg, placing the right foot next to the left knee.  STEP 2 — Tuck your hands under your low back to prop up the lumbar curve (so it does not flatten out).  STEP 3 — Curl up by lifting your head, neck, and shoulders only a few inches off the floor (keep your chin tucked).  STEP 4 — Hold for 7–8 seconds (or work up to this).  STEP 5 — Slowly lower your trunk back to the ground.  Repeat five times with the right leg bent and five times with the left leg bent, while keeping the opposite leg straight.  This exercise helps reduce low back disk compression, which is significant when performing a conventional sit-up exercise.

 2) The Bird-Dog (core, back, and gluts):  STEP 1 — Kneel on all-fours (hands and knees).  STEP 2 — Keeping your back flat, lift and straighten out the LEFT arm and RIGHT leg parallel to the floor. STEP 3 — To further activate the core muscles, draw a square with the arm and leg while bracing the abdominal muscles (firm up your abs, as if to brace for being punched in the stomach). STEP 4 — Return to the starting position and repeat on the opposite side (repeat STEP 3 again). 

3) The Side-Bridge (obliques): STEP 1 — Lie on your side, elbow directly under your shoulder and bend your knees 90°. To increase the difficulty, keep the legs/knees straight. STEP 2 — Lift your hips off the ground so you are holding your weight with your elbow and knees (or feet). STEP 3 — Hold the “Up” position for as long as possible. STEP 4 — Repeat steps 1-3 on the opposite side. 

Doctors of chiropractic are trained to evaluate the entire person from the feet up to the head to identify issues elsewhere in the body that may contribute to or even cause the patient’s chief complaint. For many patients, managing hip-related conditions may involve treatment to address issues in the core (as described in this post), the lower back, and even the feet or knees!

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Great Exercises for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is caused when the median nerve is compressed as it passes through the tight bony carpal tunnel at the wrist. The condition can result in pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness in the hand, and it can affect one’s ability to carry out everyday life and work tasks. Here are a few GREAT exercises for CTS that require no equipment and can be done anytime and anywhere:

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PRAYER: Place your hands in a “prayer” position. Touch the palm-side finger pads together and slowly push the palms into one another while keeping the elbows up as much as possible as you feel a strong stretch in the hands, fingers, and palm-side of the forearms.

SHAKE: Shake your hands for 10-15 seconds as if you just washed them and you’re trying to air dry them off.

WRIST FLEXION STRETCH: Hold your arm out in front of you with the elbow straight, palm facing down. With the opposite hand, bend the wrist as far downward as possible so the fingers point to the ground. This will produce a strong stretch in the muscles located in the back or top of the forearm. Repeat five to ten ties holding each stretch for 15–20 seconds (as tolerated).

These exercises can be repeated multiple times a day, as often as once per hour. It is often very helpful to set a timer on your cell phone to remind you to take a stretch break. A “good pain” (stretch) is considered safe while sharp or radiating pain may be potentially harmful. However, if you experience sharp, lancinating, or radiating pain, then stop or modify the exercise.

Frequently, CTS involves more than just the wrist, and exercises that target the neck, shoulder, and elbow can often hasten recovery. This is especially true when there is “double crush syndrome” where the median nerve is entrapped in more than one location such as the neck, shoulder, elbow, or forearm (as well as the wrist).

Chiropractic management of CTS can include manipulation and mobilization of the hand, wrist, forearm, elbow, shoulder, and neck. Muscle release techniques are often employed as well as the use of physical therapy modalities such as laser, electric stimulation, ultrasound, and others. The use of night splints to keep the wrist straight when sleeping is a “standard” used by most healthcare providers. Co-management with primary care may be appropriate if diabetes, inflammatory arthritis, or other complicating conditions are present

Can Exercise Prevent Low Back Pain?

While it’s not possible to totally prevent low back pain (LBP), individuals who regularly exercise appear to have a reduced risk for LBP. Additionally, fit adults who develop back pain may experience it less often, at a reduced intensity, and for a shorter duration than those who lead a more sedentary lifestyle.low backWhich type of exercise is the best? A general rule is to keep trying different activities, starting with those MOST appealing to you. After all, you should enjoy exercise, so start with your favorites: walking (one of the best), walk/run combinations, running/jogging, bicycling, swimming/water aerobics, yoga, Pilates, core strengthening, balance exercises, tennis, basketball, golfing, etc.

Specific exercises for the low back can be individualized by determining your “position preference”, or the position that feels best to your low back. For example, bend forward as if to touch your toes. How does that feel? Do you feel a good stretch or pain? Does it shoot pain down your leg? If it feels good, then that might be your preferred position and the one to emphasize with exercise. Examples of exercises that fit this scenario include (but are not limited to): posterior pelvic tilts (flatten your low back by rocking your pelvis forward); single and double knee to chest; and bending forward from a chair (as if to touch the floor).

If bending backward feels good (better than flexion and especially if the presence of leg pain lessens or disappears), then “extension-biased” exercises fit that scenario. Examples include standing back extensions (place your hands behind the low back and bend backward); prone “press-ups” (lift the chest off the floor while keeping the pelvis down); and laying back-first over a Bosu- or Gym-ball.

Pelvic dysfunction and core weakness can also increase the risk for LBP. Try these exercises: abdominal crunches (bend one knee, place your hands behind your low back, and raise the breast bone toward the ceiling only a few inches and hold); front and side planks (start from the knees if necessary); supine bridges (supine, knees bent, lift the buttocks off the floor); “bird-dog” (kneel on all fours and raise the opposite leg and arm, keep good form, and alternate); and the “dead-bug” (on your back, bend the hips and knees at 90 degrees with your arms reaching toward the ceiling; slowly lower your right arm and left leg and return them to their starting position; repeat with the other arm/leg).

When lifting, bend the knees and hips but NOT your low back; keep weights close to you and lift with your legs. Don’t attempt lifts that you know are too heavy.

If you have a history of low back pain, research shows that receiving maintenance chiropractic care can help reduce the number of days in which low back pain may hinder your activities.

Nutrition and Exercise for Hypertension

Hypertension is usually a silent disease that leads to cardiovascular, cerebrovascular, and renal morbidity and mortality. This condition can seriously affect quality of life, reduce life expectancy, and place significant burdens on the healthcare system. Classic medications used to treat hypertension can involve side effects including headache, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, constipation, diarrhea, weakness, fatigue, and erectile dysfunction. Hence, many patients with elevated blood pressure look for other means to help manage their condition with fewer, if any, side effects.

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In a previous post, we discussed a 2007 study in which patients who received a specific cervical chiropractic adjustment experienced a reduction in their blood pressure that persisted for at least eight weeks. Lead author Dr. George Bakris, “This procedure has the effect of not one, but two blood pressure medications given in combination. And it seems to be adverse-event free. We saw no side effects and no problems.”

Herbal and dietary supplements have been used by patients to help manage hypertension (HT) for many years. A series of literature reviews have found the following may provide better and safer substitutes to conventional drugs: cod liver oil, garlic, coenzyme Q-10, beta glucan, lipoic acid, whole grains, potassium, magnesium, sodium, vitamin E, vitamin B6, vitamin C, polyphenol, various botanicals/herbs, and vanadium (see Table 1, https://bit.ly/2QVpcY7 ).

Regarding exercise, a 2018 research review found that aerobic exercise can reduce blood pressure in hypertensive patients by 5-7 mmHg and that dynamic resistance exercises can lower blood pressure in adults with hypertension by 2-3 mmHg—which may rival the results achieved with first-line meds for hypertension.

While exercise, improving your nutrition, and getting regular chiropractic care are all part of living a healthier lifestyle, which can result in a healthier blood pressure reading, it’s important not to discontinue taking any medications unless instructed to by your treating physician.

What Is Frozen Shoulder?

Adhesive capsulitis (also known as “frozen shoulder”) is the end result of inflammation, scarring, thickening, and shrinkage of the capsule that surrounds the humeral head or “ball” part of the ball and socket joint. Adhesive capsulitis dramatically reduces the range of motion of the affected joint, which can severely impact one’s ability to carry out their normal daily activities. A frozen shoulder may or may not be associated with shoulder pain and tenderness. Though all movements are affected, raising the arm to the side is often the most impaired movement of the shoulder.

Conditions such as tendinitis, bursitis, and rotator cuff injury can lead to adhesive frozen-shouldercapsulitis, especially if the person refuses to move the shoulder for an extended length of time. Diabetes, chronic inflammatory arthritis (such as rheumatoid) of the shoulder, and chest or breast surgery are known risk factors for adhesive capsulitis.

The condition is diagnosed following a review of the patient’s history for prior trauma caused by over reaching/lifting or from repetitive movements. The examination will look for severe loss of shoulder range of motion (ROM), both active and passive. X-ray, blood tests for underlying illnesses, and other imaging approaches may also be required to make a final determination for adhesive capsulitis.

Treatment for adhesive capsulitis has classically included an aggressive combination of anti-inflammatory medications, cortisone injections, manual therapies (such as joint manipulation, mobilization, and traction), exercise training, ice (if painful), heat (if no pain), and physiotherapy modalities such as ultrasound, electric stimulation, laser, etc.

Exercises performed by the patient are also highly important for achieving a satisfactory outcome. The patient can begin immediately with pendulum-type exercises, long-axis traction (while sitting, grip the chair seat and lean to the opposite direction while relaxing the shoulder muscles to open up the ball-and-socket joint), and eventually strengthening exercises (TheraTube, TheraBand, light weights, etc.).

A recent study involved 50 patients with frozen shoulder (20 males, 30 females, ages 40-70 years) who underwent chiropractic care for a median time frame of 28 days (range: 11-51 days). Researchers looked at patient-reported pain on a 1-10 scale and their ability to raise the arm sideways (abduction). Of the 50 cases, 16 resolved completely (100%), 25 showed 75-90% improvement, 8 showed 50-75% improvement, and 1 experienced less than 50% improvement.

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.

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.