Chiropractic Care (21)
Living with constant pain can have a debilitating effect on all aspects of life, interfering with work, sleep, relationships and simple daily activities. If you are living with chronic pain after undergoing interventional therapies and/or spine surgery, a sophisticated, non-pharmaceutical technique called spinal cord stimulation (SCS) may be right for you.
Used successfully in thousands of people over the last two decades, SCS may be ideally suited to treat certain types of chronic pain, including many neuropathic pain conditions such as post-surgical back, leg, neck or arm pain (failed back surgery syndrome) and complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), a painful disease of the nervous system.
A Targeted Approach
Spinal cord stimulation works by targeting specific nerves along the spine with low-level electrical impulses. The stimulation interferes with the transmission of pain signals to the brain, substituting a more pleasing sensation called paresthesia. This feeling can differ from patient to patient, but is often described as a pleasant tingling. SCS requires a minor surgical procedure on an outpatient basis.
After an in-office trial to confirm the response is positive, a small device is implanted under the skin usually in the upper buttock or abdomen. Soft, thin wires with electrical leads on their tips are placed through a needle into the back, near the spinal column. A tiny, programmable generator emits electrical currents through the wires to the spinal column. If treatment is no longer needed, it can be removed easily.
Several Key Advantages
SCS allows you to be in control. Using a magnetic remote control, your can turn the current on and off, or adjust the intensity, rapidly responding to changes in the location or severity of the pain. Since the system is portable, SCS makes it possible to resume many normal daily activities at home and at work, as well as recreational activities such as swimming, traveling, biking and gardening. SCS also enables many people to reduce or eliminate the use of pain medications.
An Improved Lifestyle
SCS is not a cure, so eliminating all of your pain is unlikely. The goal of SCS is to decrease severe chronic pain to a more manageable level. There are many clinical studies corroborating the effectiveness of SCS therapy. The degree of pain relief varies from person to person, with most people reporting a 50-70% reduction in overall pain. They also report a significant increase in their ability to enjoy normal family and work activities again.
Reducing pain can have a positive effect on your mental outlook, decrease stress, and improve your overall quality of life. Talk to a board certified pain specialist to determine if SCS is right for you.
Does your daily diet include 800mg of Ibuprofen? Does your doctor just write a prescription whenever you complain about muscle or joint pain without ever really evaluating the cause but chalking it up to your aging body? Are you waking up every day with aches and pains that you have been told you will have to live with? This does NOT need to be your norm. Have you ever considered a holistic method of healthcare to address these issues or been evaluated by a chiropractor?
Chiropractic was founded in 1895 and has become the largest drugless form of care and healing in the US. The philosophy of chiropractic is simple: physical, emotional, and chemical stresses cause irritation to one’s nervous system. This irritation creates what is known in chiropractic as spinal subluxations, or misalignments of the vertebrae that are fixed in an abnormal position. When these subluxations exist, they create pressure on the spinal nerves, and their presence interferes with the communication network between the brain and body. For example, if the nerve to your stomach is “pinched” due to the subluxation, then the stomach will not function normally and may result in gastritis, ulcers, etc. If the subluxation is in the lower back of a female, this may interfere with the nerves going to the uterus and create painful periods. Every organ in the body has a nerve that stems from the spinal cord, and when there are subluxations, that nerve’s function is decreased, and the organ doesn’t work as well as it should. Hence, dis-ease occurs.
What is the cure subluxations? Simple, chiropractic adjustments. Chiropractors are trained to remove subluxations from the spine, thus enabling the nerve impulses from the brain to the body to be restored naturally, without medication. Chiropractic heals from the inside out.
Avoiding the stresses that cause the subluxations are difficult. Proper evaluation of posture, ergonomics, fitness workouts, the feet/gait, diet, and lifestyle are a must if you want to minimize the production of spinal subluxations.
Back pain is the most common reason for visiting a chiropractor. 31 million Americans experience low back pain at any given time. One-half of Americans admit to having back/neck pain each year. Back pain is one of the most common reasons for missed work and the second most common reason for visits to the doctor’s office, outnumbered only by respiratory infections. The back is a complicated structure of bones, joints, ligaments, and muscles. You can sprain ligaments, strain muscles, rupture disks, and irritate joints, all of which can lead to back pain.
Tips to Prevent Back Pain:
• Maintain diet and weight
• Remain active and avoid prolonged inactivity or bed rest
• Wear comfortable, low-heeled shoes
• Warm up or stretch before exercising or any physical activity (e.g., gardening, cleaning)
• Lift with your knees, keep the object close to your body, and do not twist when lifting.
What are you waiting for? Visit your doctor of chiropractic and get started on a healthier lifestyle and a pain-free life, naturally.
People who have cervical sprains, disc herniations, frozen shoulders, sciatica and many other soft tissue injuries, seek relief in a number of ways. These problems cause pain, loss of quality of life, lost time from work and can be very debilitating.
A company called Erchonia® produces a “cold” low-level laser (LLL), which some have called “the therapy” of the 21st century when it comes to healing these problems. The low-level laser is safe and easy to use. It is both doctor and patient friendly.
Research has demonstrated that a wavelength of 633-635 nanometers is the frequency that, in many cases, is the most optimal for healing bruises, wounds, sprains and tears of soft tissue in the human body. The Erchonia cold laser is an instrument that, with a precise and high quality diode, delivers a line-generated beam at a constant wavelength of 635 nanometers and at a power level of less than one milliwatt.
High-power, “hot” lasers have shorter wavelengths, which have catabolic effects that can deliberately destroy tissue. This is not so with the low-power or “cold” laser, which has a longer wavelength, therefore produces anabolic effects that promote rapid reduction of pain, accelerate healing time and growth, and repair in soft tissue injuries.
Cold lasers have stimulative effects rather than destructive ones. It may be the perfect conjunctive tool for chiropractic treatments and myofascial release. Clinical applications of the cold laser have included acute and chronic pain reduction from many soft tissue injuries, reduced inflammation, enhanced tissue healing, and healthy cell regeneration. Studies have shown results with very rapid pain reduction and accelerated recovery times, far exceeding conventional methods.
Biological Effects Of Cold Laser:
• Rapid Healthy Cell Growth – Accelerates cellular reproduction and growth, essential for disc injuries.
• Faster Wound Healing – Stimulates fibroblast development and accelerates collagen synthesis in damaged tissue. This speeds up recovery with neck, back and ankle sprains.
• Reducing Fibrous Tissue Formation – Reduces the formation of scar tissue following tissue damage from cuts, scratches, burns or surgery.
• Anti-Inflammatory Action – Reduces swelling caused by bruising or inflammation of joints to give enhanced joint mobility.
• Increasing Vascular Activity – Induces temporary vasodilation, increasing blood flow to damaged areas.
• Stimulating Nerve Function – Slow recovery of nerve function in damaged tissue can result in “dead” limbs or numb areas. Laser light speeds the process of nerve cell reconnection to bring the numb areas back to life. It is very helpful in whiplash and sciatic nerve injuries.
When it comes to healthy living and extended life one of the most important factors is exercise. As Dr. Violini, one of my professors from chiropractic school, used to say, “movement is life”.
If you haven’t exercised ever, or haven’t in a while, time is running out, you need to start. Of course, you should check with your doctor to see if any condition you have would limit you from participating in an exercise program.
That being said, and assuming that you are ready to begin, lets look into running. I began running in the fall of 2006, and by June, I completed my first marathon.
Now I am hooked. The key to a good exercise program for me was to have a goal to shoot for. You don’t have to go right for the marathon, you can set your goal at a five or 10k race, or half a marathon. The key is to have something to work towards.
Getting started with running requires only a few simple preparatory steps. First, you should be free from injury and illness. Second, you should go to a professional running store to get shoes that fit properly.
Some people require more stabilizing shoes to correct or prevent pronation of the foot (inward rolling of the ankle and foot that can cause problems in the foot, knee, hip, and low back).
If the pronation is severe they may recommend you see a chiropractor or podiatrist to get a custom made orthotic shoe insert. And, finally, you may want to get a friend to train with. It helps to motivate each other when you can report what you have done to someone who is pursuing the same goal.
One thing you can do is start by walking five minutes to warm up followed by jogging at an easy pace for one minute followed by walking for one minute, and repeat that 10 times, followed by a five minute walk to cool off. You can do that every other day until you feel like it is too easy, then just increase the running time and decrease the walking time, (keeping the warm-up and cool down times the same).
Start with that routine up to the first four weeks, from there you can add time and miles as you feel ready. So get out there and enjoy.
Beauty may be spine deep more than it’s skin deep.
How can weight loss help back pain? Many chiropractic patients that appear with low back pain have biomechanical problems due to excess weight that is affecting their spine.
The American Obesity Association estimates that as many as 65% or 125 million adult Americans are classified as overweight. Most people understand that excess weight contributes to developing diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure but did you realize obesity could significantly contribute to symptoms associated with osteoarthritis, degenerative disc disease and spinal canal stenosis?
The body is designed to balance stress that the spine is under by distributing forces encountered throughout the day. When excess weight is carried, the spine is forced to assimilate the burden, which may lead to major vertebral structural compromise, damage to the discs as well as soft tissue adhesions.
Patients would do well to lose excess weight and reduce the load on their spine, as this is an important part of the healing process. One quick way to reduce weight is by reducing the amount of high glycemic index (GI) foods in your diet.
• High GI foods quickly digest and turn into glucose in the blood causing a rise in insulin.
• Glucose that is not used as immediate fuel or stored in the liver and muscle gets turned into body fat.
Glycemic index provides a simple and scientific way to distinguish good and bad sugars. The body needs sugar to function but the trick is to know which sugars provide the most fuel without unreasonable demands of our bodies.
Factors That Make A Carbohydrate A Low Glycemic Food
• Presence of fiber (oatmeal/beans)
• Size of the starch (finely milled flours are higher GI than coarse flours)
• How long a starch is cooked (al dente has a lower GI than soft cooked pasta)
• Fat that slows down the absorption of blood sugar
• Carbohydrates surrounded by a tough coat (beans/seeds)
5 Ways To Blunt Blood Sugar:
• Add beans – a low to medium GI food brings down the rating of the entire meal
• Sprinkle on some cinnamon – a 1/4 tsp per day can improve the insulin uptake of glucose
• Add vinaigrette to a salad or protein
• Use good fat – one to two tsp of olive/fish oil or nuts/seeds
• Add a low-fat protein to slow down the digestion and absorption of sugars
Finding a great spine coach is a great way to get started to reduce your weight and your low back pain.
If stretching is the most neglected aspect of your training regimen, you may want to rethink your reluctance to getting flexible.
Stretch For Strength
Increasing your flexibility not only helps you train more effectively, it allows you to move more freely in your daily activities, it increases the range of motion of your movable joints and helps you avoid muscle and joint injuries later in life.
This particularly applies to lower back health. Many back problems are a direct result of weak trunk muscles and inflexible lower back muscles, hip flexors, and hamstrings – all of which stretching can help. And, one of the lesser-known benefits of stretching is that it can actually increase muscle strength.
Stretching For Strength
Athletes have used the contract-relax stretching method for years to get fit and flexible. This technique involves taking a joint to the “endpoint of movement” by one group of muscles, followed by a muscle contraction of the opposing muscles.
The basic premise is that by performing muscle contractions at their furthest range of motion, you are actually strengthening the muscles where they are most vulnerable.
When To Stretch
For years fitness trainers and chiropractors have prescribed flexibility exercises before cardio workouts and sports events to minimize possible injury. However, there is research that shows that pre-exercise stretching doesn’t significantly reduce injuries. And, there is good evidence that stretching is better after exercise than before.
The best warm-up preparation before exercise is to do 3-5 minutes of low intensity walking, jogging, or running to better prepare your ankles and lower legs for the upcoming bout of exercise.
• Increase in functional range of motion
• Reduction of lower back pain and back injury
• Reduction in the incidence and severity of injury when performed after the workout to increase range of motion
• Improvement in posture
• Prevention and alleviation of muscle soreness after exercise
• Increase in the level of certain skills and muscular efficiency
• Promotion of mental relaxation
• Opportunity for spiritual growth, meditation, and self-evaluation
• Personal enjoyment and gratification
If you have any questions about proper stretches or exercises, contact a professional or clinic that specializes in musculo-skeletal and sports related injuries. Remember, pain is your body’s indication of a problem.
If you experience any pain or discomfort, aside from normal muscle stretching, stop or change the type of stretch you are doing.
Global warming? Not this winter. Snow has already come and we are sure to get more. With that in mind, I thought some tips on safe shoveling could be beneficial.
Cold weather activities can be dangerous to the unfit or ill prepared and snow shoveling can be especially dangerous. Exercise experts say shoveling snow requires as much energy as running nine miles per hour. In addition, breathing cold air and being exposed to the cold all make the heart work harder.
First of all, if you are over 45, sedentary, smoke, have elevated blood pressure, are overweight and/or have a heart condition, please play it safe and have someone else do the shoveling, (then start an exercise program and quit smoking).
Here are a few tips to keep you safe when shoveling:
Don’t shovel snow after smoking or eating a heavy meal. These activities can put an extra strain on your cardiovascular system.
Dress in layers so clothing can be peeled off as you heat up. Overheating puts extra strain on the heart. You should wear a hat to prevent heat loss, and a scarf over your nose and mouth to avoid breathing cold air.
Shovel early and often, the newly fallen snow is much lighter than heavily packed or partially melted snow. Before shoveling, warm up your muscles with two minutes of light exercise.
Push the snow instead of lifting it. Keep the shovel close to your body and space your hands on the shovel to increase leverage.
If you must lift, use proper technique. Squat with the legs apart, knees bent and back straight. Keep your head up and lift with your legs.
Do not bend at the waist. Scoop small amounts into the shovel and walk the snow to where you want to dump it. Never try to remove the deep stuff in one scoop. Snow is heavy; it only takes one wrong move to throw out your back. Take frequent rests. Do not throw the snow over your shoulder or to the side. Twisting will put a great strain on the back.
Pace yourself. Snow shoveling is an aerobic activity comparable to weight lifting. Take frequent breaks and replenish fluids.
Check with your doctor. If you have a medical condition or do not exercise regularly a quick call to your doctor is always a good idea. When in doubt, get your neighbor’s kid to do it for you.
That first winter snow can be beautiful, peaceful and bring a smile to any school teacher or student. Use these tips to make sure when that snow comes, it doesn’t mean a trip to your favorite chiropractor or even worse, the emergency room.
Patients often come to my office with complaints of foot pain, leg pain, knee pain, and low back pain. Part of our evaluation includes an examination of the biomechanics and structure of the foot. “The foot? But you are a chiropractor, what does the foot have to do with the spine?”
Well, the foot is the contact point with the ground, so its performance will greatly affect the stability and maintain the integrity of the body’s kinematics (performance through movement).
Evaluation of the structure and dynamics of the foot during running, walking and standing can shed light on many problems. Flat feet, pronation, supination, toeing in or out excessively, loss of flexibility all have effects on the body that rests and moves above the feet.
Problems such as plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis, shin splints, runners knee, Ilio-tibial (IT) band syndrome, and sacroiliac joint problems all can be caused or exacerbated by problems with the mechanics of the foot, so a thorough exam of the foot is essential in treating the athlete or active person.
GaitScan™ is a state-of-the-art computerized analysis of the biomechanics of the foot. The system can check both the static and dynamic performance of your feet through the use of 4096 sensors taking readings at 300 cycles per second to give a thorough picture of what is happening when you move. From the data a custom orthotic can be designed to correct and support your foot to maximize your performance and relieve your pain.
One unique aspect about this system is besides providing top of the line orthotic inserts, the manufacturer also has a working relationship with an expanding list of shoe companies including Florsheim, Geronimo, Hi-Tec, and Brooks to produce athletic, work, dress and recreational shoes custom manufactured with the specifications from your scan to fully integrate the orthotic correction into the shoe.
Thorough evaluation, proper correction, quality materials, and a comfortable fit make this system the best around and patients will find this greatly beneficial towards improving their athletic performance and quality of life.
My patients regularly ask me one question more than any other lately, ‘what is that laser really doing for me?’
So here is the best answer I could come up with that is both accurate and clear, without getting too technical.
Low-level laser therapy (LLLT) is the application of visible red or near-infrared light emitted from a low power laser for therapeutic purposes.
In very simple terms, low-level laser therapy is used to help heal and treat many types of musculoskeletal injuries and disorders (including back pain caused by lower back strain, herniated discs, fibromyalgia, etc.) quickly.
Low-level lasers operate at very low levels of power, which unlike high-power lasers, do not heat or damage human tissue.
The laser device is held against the skin over the area being treated while the lasers emit wavelengths of light in the visible red to near-infrared range, which penetrate deeply into the tissues.
This light-energy is absorbed and converted to biochemical energy, which stimulates the cells to speed healing, reduce pain, and reduce the accompanying inflammation. Even after the session is over, the benefits continue for up to four hours of increased cellular activity.
There are no known side effects to low-level laser therapy and it has been used to treat both acute and chronic pain. The total number of treatments needed depends upon the condition being treated, the severity of the condition, and each patient’s individual response.
How does laser light differ from “natural” light? Natural light, including sunlight, emits incoherent light in almost all directions over a wide spectrum of wavelengths. Laser light is coherent (high and low points of waves are lined up). The light waves from a laser are parallel (travel in almost the same direction) to produce a small, concentrated beam of light. Laser light is monochromatic, meaning a laser emits light at one or more specific wavelengths rather than a wide range of wavelengths.
Low-level laser therapy is relatively new in North America. Low-level lasers are available for use only by licensed practitioners.
I utilize our LLLT in conjunction with other standard chiropractic treatments like manipulation, muscle therapy, trigger point therapy, stretching, and electric stimulation.
Though the FDA has approved the use of low-level laser therapy, the FDA still considers this treatment experimental, investigational and unproven due to insufficient scientific evidence (a lack of large clinical trials).
NOTE: If you are taking immune system suppressants, or have cancer, low-level laser therapy is contraindicated. In pregnant women, the uterus should not be irradiated.
Children are active – most of the time they don’t sit still. Because of all of that activity, it is important to see a health care professional for routine physical examinations of your child’s developing spine.
Kids are always on the move; running instead of walking, jumping over things, climbing, falling, and bouncing. Many of our kids are playing organized sports as well. I have young patients who are playing on multiple teams during the same season or playing the same sport all four seasons of the year.
Research has shown that with greater activity, especially organized sports, the risk of injury is also greater. There are more collisions, falls, and opportunities for injury. Even those not in sports are still falling, tripping and bumping into things.
These knocks can have a detrimental impact on a child’s developing spine. These knocks could result in a noticeable injury, or simply a subtle change in spinal biomechanics, but both cause spinal stress.
Spinal stress is what can affect spinal nerve function. Initially there may be few symptoms of spinal stress or nothing obvious or painful about it. Most of the time the child won’t even notice a thing. But, normal movement patterns change, affecting their muscular and skeletal development. Over time, left uncorrected, these subtle injuries can have long-term effects on their spinal nerve function.
Spinal nerve function depends on mechanical integrity of the spine itself. If spinal muscles and ligaments are inflamed or irritated, spinal nerve function is compromised to a greater or lesser extent. In a child, the short and long-term results may include muscle pain and stiffness, loss of full range of motion in the neck or lower back, frequent colds, headaches, gastrointestinal problems, allergies, or asthma.
Fortunately children are resilient. A quick spinal examination by a licensed health care professional can identify areas of spinal stress. With proper treatment, results can happen quickly. Often it takes drastically less care to restore function in children as compared to adults.
The goal of good healthcare is to allow one to thrive. Prevention is the quickest, easiest and most cost effective way to do just that. It is much easier to prevent illness and injury than to restore health after illness or injury.