- 60% Less Hospital Admissions
- 59% Less Days in the Hospital
- 62% Less Outpatient Surgeries
- 85% Less in Pharmaceutical Cost
A 7-year study studying people who chose a chiropractor as their primary doctor
– JMPT 2007
A 7-year study studying people who chose a chiropractor as their primary doctor
– JMPT 2007
Low 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.
Have you ever considered which type of doctor is best suited to treat back pain?
Since there are so many treatment options available today, it is quite challenging to make this decision without a little help.
To facilitate, a study looking at this very question compared the effectiveness between medical and chiropractic intervention.
Over a four-year time frame, researchers followed 2,780 low back pain patients who were treated using conventional approaches by both MDs (Medical Doctors) and DCs (Doctors of Chiropractic).
Chiropractic treatments included spinal manipulation, physical therapy, an exercise plan, and self-care education.
Medical therapies included prescription drugs, an exercise plan, self-care advice, and about 25% of the patients received physical therapy.
The study focused on present pain severity and functional disability (activity interference) measured by questionnaires mailed to the patients.
The authors of the study reported that chiropractic was favored over medical treatment in the following areas:
Similar trends favoring chiropractic were observed in regards to disability but they were of smaller magnitude.
All patient groups saw significant improvement in both pain and disability over the four-year study period.
Acute patients saw the greatest degree of improvement with many achieving symptom relief after three months of care.
This study also found early intervention reduced chronic pain and, at year three, those acute LBP patients who received early intervention reported fewer days of LBP than those who waited longer for treatment.
While both MD and DC treatment approaches helped, it’s quite clear from the information reported that chiropractic should be utilized first.
These findings support the importance of early intervention by chiropractic physicians and make the most sense for those of you struggling with the question of who to see for your LBP.
Here’s something interesting. Do you know how much money American Airlines saved in 1987 by eliminating ONE olive from each salad they served in first class?
You’ll never guess.
Amazing, isn’t it? And if you translate that amount to today’s dollars—it would be a lot more!
You want to know what else is interesting and quite amazing? If you do, listen to this: It is estimated that 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated, which basically means three quarters of the country does not drink anywhere near enough H20.
And check this out—it is also estimated that in 37% of Americans, the thirst mechanism is so weak it is often mistaken for hunger. And even mild dehydration can slow down your metabolism by as much as 3%. And there’s more…
One glass of water shut down midnight hunger pangs for almost 100% of the dieters in a University of Washington study. But that’s not all! Lack of water is the number one trigger for daytime fatigue. A mere 2% drop in body water can trigger fuzzy short-term memory, trouble with basic math, and difficulty focusing on the computer screen.
As a quick aside related to computers—in 2006 one in eight people showed signs of being addicted to the Internet! Can you imagine? (And that was before smartphones and social media really hit the scene.)
BACK TO WATER… SOME ESTIMATES SAY DRINKING FIVE GLASSES A DAY CAN DECREASE THE RISK OF COLON CANCER BY 45%, SLASH BREAST CANCER BY 79%, AND DECREASE YOUR CHANCES OF GETTING BLADDER CANCER BY 50%.
So what’s the point of all these interesting facts? Is all this just to get you to drink more water? Hardly…
Listen… although it’s obvious you should be drinking plenty of water—the REAL take home message here is: small things done consistently over a long period of time can have a major impact on your health and life.
Let’s face it. One olive is not a big thing. But removing just one from the in-flight salad meant $40,000 over the course of a year. Just five glasses of water a day might save you from one of those deadly conditions listed above.
And here’s something else you may find important: regular Chiropractic care may have a BIG impact on your life. How, you ask? If you came to us in pain and we helped you… it might stop your original condition from coming back. And not only that—just one visit per month may help you live a healthier, more pain-free life… in many ways.
Those olives and glasses of water add up and have a huge impact over time. So do Chiropractic treatments, even though they may be tough to actually measure.
Here’s one more interesting fact if you’d like to lose weight: Banging your head against the wall burns 150 calories an hour! Yeah… you’re right… there’s probably a better way… 🙂
It’s back to school time for all the young scholars and with it comes the daily ritual of lugging school supplies around in a backpack. You may not realize it but ill fitting backpacks can put a significant amount of stress on your child’s body.
The long-term stress of wearing a poorly designed and/or excessively heavy backpack can lead to a back aches, neck stiffness, burning shoulders, headaches, tingling in the arms/hands, fatigued muscles and a stooped posture. These aches and pains can be a major distraction to your child’s focus in the school room, hamper their enjoyment of everyday childhood activities and increase the likelihood of future back problems later in life.
Loading a Backpack
Wearing the Backpack
It is important to be aware of your child’s daily burden because it could be detracting from their school experience. If they complain of back pain, headaches, numbness or weakness in their arms seek help to ease their discomfort and prevent future problems.
People of all ages suffer from neck pain, and many frequently turn to chiropractors for care because it’s been found to be one of the most effective and efficient forms of treatment available, and it carries minimal side effects! It has been projected that by 2030, nearly one in five residents in the United States will be 65 or older. Currently, approximately 14% of the patients treated by chiropractors are 65 or older, making it one of the most frequently utilized forms of complementary and alternative care used by older adults. What kind of care can a senior citizen expect when seeking treatment from a chiropractor? Let’s take a look…
Musculoskeletal pain—pain in the neck, back, arms, and/or legs—drives the majority of elderly patients to chiropractors. While low back and neck pain are the most common complaints, it’s not unusual for patients to also have one or two other conditions (or more) that they did NOT know chiropractic care could help. In fact, common “goals” for managing every patient (not just the elderly) include services related to patient assessment, maintenance of health, and prevention of illness, in addition to treatment of illness or injury. Common chiropractic treatment approaches include spinal manipulation and/or mobilization, nutritional counseling, physical activity/exercise, and (especially important for the elderly population) fall prevention.
We will now focus on neck pain as it relates to the elderly population and the various chiropractic management strategies that might be encountered by an elderly patient. Common reasons patients present regarding the neck include limited movement, stiffness, and pain. Neck pain can also interfere with sleep, as finding a comfortable position in bed can be quite challenging! Lifting, carrying, and playing with grandchildren is a very common issue for either causing a new complaint or irritating an existing one. Neck pain may also interfere with reaching and lifting. Thus, activities like yard or garden work may become more difficult and less enjoyable. Neck pain is often associated with headaches, which can make daily tasks even more challenging.
When an elderly patient visits a chiropractor for the first time or for a new complaint, he/she can expect to fill out some initial paperwork, as well as provide a history of the main complaint and any lesser complaints. This may also include providing a family and medical history. The examination usually includes general observations, palpating or feeling for muscle tightness, tenderness, warm/cool, range of spinal motion (neck, back, extremities), orthopedic tests, neurological tests, and possibly x-rays. Treatment of the neck may include massage or mobilization to loosen up the neck, manipulation to free up restricted joint motion, and even exercise training. The goal of treatment is to improve neck motion, activity tolerance, and quality of life (less pain, improved sleep, etc.). So, whether you are 10, 20, 50, 70, or 90 years old, give chiropractic a chance to help you manage your neck pain.
What Is The Most Current Theory of Fibromyalgia?
Today, we look at fibromyalgia in a completely different way. There used to be little or no way to “see” this condition as anything other than 18 tender points in a doctor’s examination. (Which is silly, because fibromyalgia patients are sore everywhere!) Today we know that fibromyalgia patients show the following:
• Elevated inflammatory cytokines IL-6 and especially IL-17.
• Neuroimaging of the brain shows altered brain structure and disrupted white matter.
• Endothelial dysfunction disturbing blood vessels
• Sympathetic nervous system dominance
• HPA axis disturbance causing low pituitary and adrenal response to ACTH and cortisol
• Small fiber polyneuropathy is distal body joints are a driver of pain signals
• Non-restorative sleep
• Association with pathogens such as hepatitis B or C, HIV, cocksackie B, parvovirus, and Borrellia.
• Evidence of cell mitochondrial dysfunction
Science refers to fibromyalgia (FMS) as a mosaic disease, in other words, it is a condition that stems from a specific group of any or all causes. All the conditions in this group are part of Central Sensitivity Syndrome (CSS) or the Neuroinflammation Mosaic. Other conditions in the same mosaic include migraine headaches, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, PTSD, Restless Leg Syndrome, TMJ Disorder and others. Every patient’s mosaic is a little different so the approach to care has to be unique to each patient.
What Does Research Tell Us From Previous Nutrition Studies about FMS?
There are very few studies that give us much information about FMS (Fibromyalgia Syndrome). Two studies from Spain found that there was “remarkable clinical improvement is FMS patients on a gluten-free diet” 1,2 This is consistent with the newest information that says that immunity, infection and inflammatory processes are a driver of CSS. In a random controlled trial in 2013 it was found that 300 mg/day of magnesium for 8 weeks reduced tender points, sensitivity and depression.3
How Do You Address the Four Areas of The Fibromyalgia Mosaic?
1. Immune/Infection/Inflammation: In any inflammatory condition we want to rule out any type of chronic infection causing ongoing chronic inflammation. Many patients with CSS suffer from gut inflammation due to poor gut bacterial balance (dysbiosis). Probiotics may give temporary relief to gut issues that lead to a leaky gut allowing bacteria and proteins to enter the bloodstream uninvited. To control inflammation herbs such as boswellia, turmeric and ginger will lower inflammatory cytokines. Strengthen the immune system with herbs like echinacea and astragalus. Green tea will upregulate your body’s ability to make its own antioxidants (Nrf2 cycle). One area with fibromyalgia that has been shown to help is to add these 5 things to your regular diet to manage inflammation, increase dietary nitrates, and reduce oxidative stress:
a. Boost dietary nitrate by juicing or baking beets and eating them.
b. Increase cocoa intake (dark chocolate 85% or higher) rich in polyphenols
c. Increase berries and cruciferous vegetables for anthocyanins.
d. Eat ½ to 1 clove a day of raw crushed garlic in your food for the hydrogen sulfide.
e. Increase your use of herbs and spices, especially green tea, turmeric and ginger.
f. (Bonus) There was “remarkable clinical improvement” with patients who went on a gluten-free diet.4
2. Endocrine/HPA Axis Support: With fibromyalgia there is a loss of the normal stress response, disturbed sleep patterns and fatigue. The stress response of the body is mediated by the hypothalamus, pituitary and adrenal glands. (HPA Axis) Cortisol is the stress hormone created by the adrenal glands. With dysfunction the adrenals will benefit from adrenal tonic herbs like licorice and rehmannia. Whole food vitamin C is critical for adrenal function. Some herbs help the HPA axis better adapt to stress. They are called adaptogens. Ashwaganda and Rhodiola are two such herbs. Herbs that support sleep like valerian root and kava are also helpful.
3. Mitochondrial Support: 20% of all the mitochondria in the body are found in the brain. Magnesium is a mineral that is very important to energy production in the mitochondria. Herbs and herbal extracts such as gingko, hawthorn and resveratrol are supportive of normal mitochondrial function.
4. Brain/Nervous System Support: Two areas of concentration are important to support the brain; microcirculation and central sensitivity pain. Gingko is known to improve microcirculation in the brain. One of the key features of fibromyalgia is chronic pain. For peripheral pain (pain in the extremities) the best herbs are celery seed, boswellia, turmeric and willow bark. For pain related to the brain and spinal cord herbs such as California poppy, Jamaica dogwood and corydalis are herbs known to help.
You can now understand that fibromyalgia is NOT a figment of science’s imagination, but a real condition with real solutions… and that chiropractic, nutrition and herbs can serve as a solution.
1. Isasi C, et al. Rheumatol Int 2014;34(11):1607-1612
2. Rodrigo L, et al. Arthritis Res Ther 2014;16(4):421
3. Bagis S. et al. Rheumatol Int 2013;33(1): 167-172
4. Isasi C, Colmenero I, Casco F, et al. Fibromyalgia and non-celiac gluten sensitivity: a description with remission of fibromyalgia. Rheumatology International. 2014;34(11):1607-1612.