Curvesday Thursday: Exercise and Chiropractic Therapy

If a patient has a history of heart problems, it is important for the patient to consult with not only the doctor of chiropractic but their primary care physician to be certain that they can tolerate cardiovascular fitness-promoting activities.

Cardiovascular and strengthening exercises combined with chiropractic care are important in the management of low back pain.  Specific instructions are given by the chiropractor with respect to proper exercise for the patient’s condition before beginning any exercise program. In general, a reasonable amount of exercise that is performed daily and utilizes activities that are enjoyed is recommended for patients undergoing chiropractic treatment.

Many studies have reported the importance of exercises in managing acute and chronic low back pain, strengthening the low back, preventing and keeping back patients working, and to improve quality of life. The strength of the abdominal muscles was also found to be able to differentiate between those with vs. without chronic LBP. Overall and when combined with chiropractic care, aerobic exercise helps promote proper digestion, keeps the muscles in proper tone and promotes better circulation. Walking briskly around the block at least once or twice is a convenient and popular activity. Also, many forms of work and/or household tasks can function as an exercise program. The important point is to exercise!

There are many applicable back exercises that are available for patients also undergoing chiropractic care for lower back pain. The physician or physical therapist can classify the chiropractic patient into a flexion or extension biased category to determine the variety that is best for that patient and recommend specific exercises to be completed at home.

For example:

  • If a patient feels best when bending over (flexion biased), exercises that promote low back flexion such as pulling the knees to the chest, posterior pelvic tilts, bending forward from a sitting position and others are usually helpful.
  • If a patient is least symptomatic in extension, especially if leg pain centralizes or diminishes (extension biased), prone press-up type exercises usually yield the best results.

Other exercises that can help reduce lower back pain include:

  • Strengthening of the pelvic stabilizing muscles (trunk muscles)
  • Stretching of the hamstrings, adductors, and other overly short or tight postural muscles
  • Proprioceptive or balance promoting.According to the Scientific Commission of the Council on Chiropractic Guidelines and Practice Parameters (CCGPP):
    • Strong evidence supports exercise as being at least as effective as other non-surgical treatments for chronic low back pain
    • Moderate evidence supports use of a graded-activity exercise program in occupational settings for subacute lower back pain
    • Some evidence shows that exercises are no more effective than other nonsurgical treatments for acute lower back pain.

As with any chiropractic treatment, it is important for chiropractors to perform a focused reevaluation of an exercise program following its initial therapeutic trial to determine its effectiveness. Using spinal range of motion as a measurement of the effectiveness of exercise is just one way in which chiropractors can make such determinations.

Source: http://www.spine-health.com/treatment/chiropractic/exercise-and-chiropractic-therapy

 

Advertisements

Curvesday Thursday: TLC for the Aging Spine

Many seniors are unaware of the outstanding benefits that are possible through regular chiropractic care. The first benefit of chiropractic care for seniors is the fact that the chiropractic approach is drug-free. This can be particularly important for older patients who are taking other medication and made be sensitive to medicines or more susceptible to their side effects. Here is a list of other benefits that chiropractic care provides for seniors.

1. Pain Relief
Chiropractic care is one of the most effective and safest forms of health care to treat pain due to spinal related conditions. Chiropractic is so effective because most causes of spinal disorders are related to abnormalities of the spine and the surrounding soft tissue structures. Doctors of Chiropractic are specifically trained to identify and treat subluxations (misalignments of the vertebrae) and their subsequent effect on the central nervous system. Anti-inflammatory medication and pain relievers merely mask the symptoms and have many undesirable side effects.

2. Increased Range of Motion of the Spine and Extremities
Chiropractic care has been shown repeatedly to increase not only the range of motion of the spine but also in the extremities. Increasing a person’s range of motion can positively affect lives in many ways. For some, an increased range of motion means being able to bend down to pick up their grandchildren. For others, it means they can garden without pain or get an extra 40 yards of distance out of their driver on the golf course. In many cases, an increase in range of motion immediately follows chiropractic adjustments. This is one of the reasons why many top professional sporting teams have team chiropractors.

3. Increased Balance and Coordination
Many problems in balance and coordination in the aging population have been shown to come from injury or degenerative changes to the cervical spine (neck region). Structures known as mechanoreceptors are located in the posterior (back) joints of the cervical spine and are responsible for providing the brain with essential information important for balance and coordination. Mechanoreceptors in cervical posterior joints provide major input regarding the position of the head in relation to the body. With aging, mild defects impair mechanoreceptors function and results in a loss of proprioception (sense of body awareness).
With decreased proprioception, body positioning in space is impaired and the patient becomes reliant on vision to know the location of a limb.

To compensate for the loss of proprioception (sense of body awareness) in the legs, the feet are kept wider apart than usual. Steps become irregular and uneven in length. As impairment increases, the patient becomes unable to compensate. With severe loss of proprioception, the patient is unable to get up from a chair or rise after a fall without assistance.

Studies have shown that chiropractic care can help restore balance and coordination by stimulating the joint receptors (mechanoreceptors) in the cervical spine. This stimulation is thought to restore or normalize joint receptor functioning which leads to improvements in balance and coordination.

4. Decreased Joint Degeneration
A subluxated (misaligned) spine is much like a misaligned wheel on an automobile. This misalignment will cause the spine (and the wheel) to wear out prematurely. Since all moving parts will eventually wear down over time, it is very important to get your spine aligned periodically. Chiropractic care decreases spinal degeneration and other arthritic changes by normalizing the spinal alignment and reducing spinal stress.

5. Increased Health and Well-Being
We commonly ask our patients what changes they notice once they are out of pain. Here are some regular responses we hear every day:

I feel great!

I can sleep through the night!

Now I can work in the garden!

I have so much energy!

Life is worth living now!

Yes, chiropractic is far more than mere pain relief. Feeling good, staying healthy and doing the things that make us happy are what keeps us looking forward to each new day. Regular chiropractic care increase the quality of life and increase health and well being.

6. Decreased Incidence of Falling
Injuries due to falling are extremely common in the elderly population. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), falls are responsible for 90% of the 850,000 bone fractures which occur annually among Americans past the age of 65. Chiropractors reduce the risk of falls by normalizing the mechanoreceptors of the cervical spine by administering chiropractic adjustments. They also prescribe stretching and exercise programs to increase strength, flexibility, mobility, balance and coordination.

7. Keeps Seniors Out of Nursing Homes
Dr. Ian Coulter from the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College was involved with many research projects studying the benefits of chiropractic care and exercise. In 1996, he published an interesting study in the Journal, “Topics of Clinical Chiropractic” called “Chiropractic care for the Elderly.”

The key points he noted in this study were:
• 44% of those who used chiropractic care reported having arthritis compared with 66% in the non-chiropractic care group

• those who used chiropractic care were more likely to do strenuous levels of exercise

• at three year follow-up, less than 5% of those who used chiropractic care lived in a nursing home while a staggering 48% of those who did not use chiropractic care did live in a nursing home

• at three year follow-up, only 26% of those who used chiropractic care were hospitalized compared with 48% of those in the non-chiropractic group

There is no need for seniors to suffer needlessly. Chiropractic provides amazing benefits and has an outstanding record of safety and effectiveness.

If you’re a senior contemplating chiropractic care for the reduction of pain, or if you’re interested in preventative approaches to motion, balance, coordination or pain issues, please call Chambers Chiropractic and Acupuncture at (304) 263-4927 to arrange an appointment today.

Sources: http://patch.com/new-jersey/newmilford-nj/bp–7-amazing-benefits-of-chiropractic-care-for-seniors

Curvesday Thursday: How the Heat May Affect Your Back Pain

Most of the country is currently experiencing high summer temperatures. For some people with back pain, the warm weather means relief, while others struggle with the effects of the heat. Whether or not you love the heat, here’s how the hot weather may affect your back pain.

How weather affects pain levels:

    • Pressure. Changes in barometric pressure are commonly linked with pain. When there is high pressure in the atmosphere, it pushes on your skin and the liquids in your body to be smaller. Low pressure causes a slight increase in volume of those liquids. This increase in volume will push on bones and nerves that do not change size depending on atmospheric pressure and can cause pain or increase pain levels. Luckily, summer months have a slight tendency to be high pressure and tend to have fewer shifts in pressure (storms) than spring.
  • Humidity. Changes in humidity have also been linked to pain levels. The most researched link is with headaches. The results of those studies have mostly shown that changes in humidity could cause changes in pain levels, but it was not consistent where low or high humidity days would have higher pain levels because some patients had more pain with low humidity while others felt worse with high humidity.

Take advantage of warm summer weather to rehabilitate your back:

Warm weather is the perfect opportunity to re-engage in an appropriate outdoor exercise program to rehabilitate your back. Strong core body muscles, low-impact aerobic exercises, and regular stretching are all key to keeping back pain at bay.

Most types of exercise can be done year round, but the smell of fresh air is usually better than the inside of your local gym. Sunlight and green grass are signs of encouragement to get out and make the best of a pleasant day. The warm weather also allows for access to exercise not available during the rest of the year. Common sense, backed by many studies, suggests that just being in nature increases feelings of well-being and decreases stress, fear, and anger. So while it’s warm, get out and enjoy some natural scenery.

    • Swimming and water therapy. Consider the summer a time to get out to your local lakes, rivers, and outdoor pools for swimming and water exercise, which tend to be especially gentle exercise for your joints and back.
    • Biking. For many with low back pain, biking is a good low-impact form of exercise that is gentle on the lower back.

It is especially important to stay hydrated when exercising in the summer. Drinking 1 to 2 cups of water per hour and wearing sun block will reduce the rate of water loss and replenish your fluid level while outside. Drink an additional 1 to 2 cups per hour if you are actively exercising, even if it is swimming. Water hydration is especially important for people with disc problems as intervertebral discs benefit from staying hydrated sufficiently.

Summer hazards that may worsen back pain:

The summer is a change in routine for many people. Work hours may change, recreation activities may change, children are out of school, and the sunlight starts earlier and ends later. What should you look out for to keep back pain under control during the summer months?

    • Travel. Summer vacations can be a lot of fun, but the travel generally involves sitting in a car or plane for extended periods of time. Use these resources to keep your back pain under control while traveling.
    • Sleep. Developing and worsening insomnia is a concern during the summer. Long summer days can lead to a change in sleep patterns. Increased activity out of the house can make it impossible to keep a consistent sleep and nap schedule. Summer vacation may have you sleeping on a different bed and mattress. Also, heat and humidity can make it difficult to be comfortable falling and staying asleep.
    • Activities. Many fun activities during the summer can aggravate back pain:
      • Sporting events are great to attend during the summer, be it a child’s game or a professional competition. The downside is that stadium seats and bleachers are not very comfortable or supportive. If you are allowed, bring your own seating to a child’s game or a seat cushion if you have to sit in bleachers or stadium seats. Any type of portable product that provides support to your lower back while sitting will help.
      • Amusement parks are also good summer fun, however they can require hours of standing in line for the most popular roller coasters and attractions. A very slow line might allow you to sit for short periods of time, otherwise keeping your body moving with leg and simple back stretches should keep you out of worse pain.
    • Gardening in the summer, much like snow removal in the winter, can put a great deal of strain on your back. From digging and tilling to harvesting and carrying the fruit, herbs, and vegetables, it all can lead to worse back pain due to muscle stress and improper posture. The best ways to avoid this kind of pain are to take breaks so you are not hunched over for too long, to practice proper lifting techniques, and to stretch before going out to garden.

Wellness Wednesday: Backpack Ergonomics Ensure Spinal Health

Each school year millions of children walk to, from, and around school carrying backpacks filled with books and materials. Parents should be aware that overly stressing the back with a heavy backpack could cause back pain in their child.

Following a few guidelines and using common sense can help avoid this type of back pain.

How Kids’ Backs Respond to Backpacks

Using a backpack allows a child to carry a number of schoolbooks and items in a practical way, distributing the heavy load across the strong back and shoulder muscles. The risk, however, is overload, which can strain the back, neck, or shoulders.

The back will compensate for any load applied to it for an extended period of time. A heavy weight carried in backpacks can:

  • Distort the natural curves in the middle and lower backs, causing muscle strain and irritation to the spine joints and the rib cage
  • Lead to rounding of the shoulders
  • Cause a person to lean forward, reducing balance and making it easier to fall

Habitually carrying backpacks over one shoulder will make muscles strain to compensate for the uneven weight. The spine leans to the opposite side, stressing the middle back, ribs, and lower back more on one side than the other. This type of muscle imbalance can cause muscle strain, muscle spasm, and back pain in the short term and speed the development of back problems later in life if not corrected.

A heavy backpack can pull on the neck muscles, contributing to headache, shoulder pain, lower back pain, and/or neck and arm pain.

Medical Research on Backpacks:

While the medical literature on backpacks is often inconclusive, and sometimes contradictory, a review of current medical literature suggests several general conclusions:

  • Carrying heavy backpacks, or carrying them in a way that strains the back, is a frequent cause of back pain in children and adolescents
  • The back pain caused by back packs is short term (e.g. muscle strain) and alleviated with a short period of rest or reduced activity; any type of back pain that persists is uncommon and should be evaluated by a medical professional
  • Several authors suggest limiting the backpack weight to 10-15% of the child’s body weight is reasonable.

Look for backpack design features that help reduce the chance of back pain:

  • Lightweight material (canvas as opposed to leather)
  • Two padded, wide (2-inches), adjustable shoulder straps on the backpack
  • Padded back
  • Individualized compartments
  • Hip strap, waist belt, or frame to redistribute the weight of the backpack from the shoulders and back to the pelvis
  • Wheels so that the backpack can be pulled rather than carried
  • Consider using a separate bag for the child’s laptop or other heavier electronic items

Teach your child how to properly load and wear the backpack to avoid back pain:

  • Always use both shoulder straps and wear the backpack on the back rather than over one shoulder
  • Pack heaviest objects into the backpack first so they are carried lower and closest to the body
  • Fill compartments so that the load is evenly distributed throughout the backpack and items do not shift during movement
  • Pack sharp or bulky objects in the backpack so they do not contact the back
  • Adjust the straps to fit the backpack snugly to the child’s body, holding the bottom of the backpack 2 inches above the waist and keeping the top just below the base of the skull; do not carry the backpack low near the buttocks
  • Lift the backpack by using the leg muscles and keeping it close to the body, not by bending over with arms extended
  • Do not lean forward when walking; if this is necessary, there is too much weight in the backpack

Maintain a mindset to watch the weight carried in the backpack to reduce back pain:

  • If the child complains of discomfort, reduce the weight in the backpack immediately
  • Consider applying a guideline backpack weight limit as a percent of the child’s body weight. The American Physical Therapy Association suggests 15-20%; the American Chiropractic Association advises 5-10%
  • Coach your child to carry only those books needed in the backpack, leaving unnecessary items at home and making frequent trips to his/her locker during the day
  • Teach your child to clean out the backpack at least once a week

Become a Proactive Parent on the Issue of Backpacks and Back Pain:

  • Ask your child if they feel any back aches or pain
  • Help your child choose the smallest backpack that will meet his/her needs
  • Talk to teachers about how to minimize the need for children to transport heavy books back and forth daily in their backpacks; keep one set of books in the classroom for daily work while leaving heavy books at home; make photocopies of homework chapters and assignments that are easily carried
  • Attend PTA meetings and discuss any proposal by school administrators to remove lockers or to reduce time between classes making it difficult to store unneeded books and materials

Finally, there are a number of alternatives to traditional backpacks on the market. These include saddle bags, rollerbags, backpacks with inflatable lumbar support and straps, totally inflatable backpacks, and molded backpacks.

Sources: http://www.spine-health.com/wellness/ergonomics/backpacks-and-back-pain-children

Curvesday Thursday: The Gut and Spine Connection

Problems with digestion can result within any of the organs involved with this complicated process. Most commonly, the stomach, gall bladder, and large intestine demonstrate the highest degree of incidence of gastrointestinal disturbance; however, the pancreas, liver, and the small intestine also play important roles in the digestive process and can also cause pain and discomfort when malfunctioning.

All of the organs in our body are connected to two different nervous systems. One is called the sympathetic and the other, the parasympathetic. The nerves of the sympathetic system run from the lower cervical spine (neck) to the upper lumbar spine (lower back.) The parasympathetic nerves are found in the middle and upper regions of the cervical spine and the lower lumbar spine and sacrum (the bone between the pelvis).

Together, these two nervous systems help to control digestion by sending signals to the organs (efferent pathways) and returning signals from the organs (afferent pathways.) If an organ is in trouble, it may send excessive signals back through the afferent pathways, to the spine, and up to the brain. This can cause a sensation of discomfort in either the area near the organ or in one of the pain referral areas associated with that organ. A well-known organ that refers pain is gallbladder. People with a history of gallbladder trouble often complain of felling a colic-like (on-again off-again grabbing) pain between the shoulder-blades

The connection of a GI problem to your spine comes from the existence of these two nervous systems through a response known as the viscerosomatic reflex. Chiropractors believe that the irritation at the level of the spine that corresponds to the involved organ can cause the muscles around the vertebra above and below the nerve to become hyperactive. This increased activity to the muscles is a result of the shared nerve supply between these muscles and the sympathetic supply to the organ. If the muscle spasm exerts enough force to create a subluxation (a misalignment between the vertebrae) or creates enough congestion to the blood supply, more nerve interference is experienced. This inhibitory action results in a decreased ability of  organ function.

Conversely, chiropractors also believe that problems with the organs of digestion may have started because of spinal subluxations. An interesting study that took place at the Harvard Medical School demonstrated this theory. Researchers at Harvard discovered that many people who suffered from Chron’s Disease (A severe bowel disorder) had marked (sever) subluxations of the second cervical vertebra. Chiropractors believe that the Vagus nerve (the parasympathetic nerve supply to every digestive organ in the body) may be irritated when a severe second cervical subluxation is present. Although the Vagus nerve is one of the twelve cranial nerves that come directly from the brain) the Vagus nerve passes closely enough to the structures between the first and second vertebra that subluxation at these levels may create enough irritation to the nerve to create problems with digestion.

According to a recent study, researchers in Japan also found a link between Crohn’s disease and interference to the nervous system from spinal misalignments.The research was published in the Journal of Vertebral Subluxation Research and grew out of a previous study involving more than 3,000 patients with allergic diseases and over 1,000 non-allergic patients. It focused on the relationship between immune function, spinal displacements called vertebral subluxations, and how reducing those displacements resulted in improvement, and in some cases complete remission, of symptoms of Crohn’s disease.

There are many theories about what causes Crohn’s disease but none has been proven. The most popular theory is that the body’s immune system reacts to a virus or a bacterium by causing ongoing inflammation in the intestine. Treatment for Crohn’s disease includes corticosteroids to control inflammation but while these drugs are considered the most effective for active Crohn’s disease, they can cause serious side effects, including greater susceptibility to infection. Immune suppressing drugs are also used to treat Crohn’s disease.

According to Dr. Yasuhiko Takeda, a chiropractor and lead author of the study: “This is why it is so important to develop other means of dealing with this terrible disease. If we can find treatments that enhance the function of the immune and nervous systems perhaps we can help millions of people with this disease without the harmful side effects of drugs.”

Beginning in 1992, the focus of Takeda’s research has been on the relationship between subluxation, allergic disease, asthma, Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel disorder and ulcerative colitis. He became interested in this after observing common patterns of spinal distortions and subluxation in patients presenting with these problems. He observed that many of these people got better following chiropractic care. This convinced him that chiropractic care was the answer to these health problems and that he needed to look into it in more detail.

There are other digestive disorders linked to the spine as well. A growing body of evidence is linking inflammatory back pain (IBP) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Additionally, several autoimmune conditions, such as ankylosing spondylitis (AS), affect both the gut and the spine, with up to 60 percent of AS patients suffering from colon and ileum inflammation. Even aside from inflammatory disease, back pain and gut pain have a strong association. Not only are there instances where gut problems refer pain to the spine; there are times when the spine is the source of gut disorders. A chiropractic practice is able to identify back pain of visceral origin: Gastric ulcers, pancreatic disease and irritable bowel syndrome are all known to cause back pain.

In turn, the treatment of spinal injuries can cause digestive disorders. GI doctors and chiropractors are both keenly aware of the severe consequences of long-term use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Patients with NSAID-induced gastric bleeding almost always end up in a GI clinic. GI doctors often tell their patients that they can no longer take NSAIDs, leaving those patients to find an effective medical treatment for their musculoskeletal conditions.  A non-medical provider, such as a doctor of chiropractic, specializes in drug-free pain management techniques that prevent gastrointestinal issues.

Chiropractic can also help you if you suffer from a digestive disorder by reducing  your level of stress. Patient’s who receive chiropractic care will readily comment on this. Your digestive systems works best when the mind and body are in a relaxed state and manipulation, massage, acupressure, and moist heat therapies are just some of the many ways your chiropractor can help you obtain a healthier working digestive system.

Many chiropractors also include nutritional consoling as part of their practices. Your chiropractor  may recommend vitamin and mineral supplements, digestive aids, healing herbs, or simply recommend a proper diet with an emphasis on what foods to eat and what foods to avoid to improve your digestion.

Dr. Chambers offers a multi-faceted approach to treating digestive disorders through chiropractic, acupuncture, specialized diets, and all natural supplements. To schedule a consultation, please contact our office at (304) 263-4927.

Sources: http://www.godiscoverhealth.com/digestive-problems/

http://www.acatoday.org/content_css.cfm?CID=3420

http://www.acatoday.org/content_css.cfm?CID=3420

Curvesday Thursday: Sciatica and Alternative Medicine

The term sciatica describes the symptoms of leg pain—and possibly tingling, numbness or weakness—that originate in the lower back and travel through the buttock and down the large sciatic nerve in the back of the leg. Sciatica (pronounced sigh-at-ih-kah) is not a medical diagnosis in and of itself—it is a symptom of an underlying medical condition, such as a lumbar herniated disc, degenerative disc disease, or spinal stenosis.

Sciatica is often characterized by one or a combination of the following symptoms:

  • Constant pain in only one side of the buttock or leg (rarely can occur in both legs)
  • Pain that is worse when sitting
  • Leg pain that is often described as burning, tingling or searing (vs. a dull ache)
  • Weakness, numbness or difficulty moving the leg or foot
  • A sharp pain that may make it difficult to stand up or to walk
Sciatic pain can vary from infrequent and irritating to constant and incapacitating. Specific sciatica symptoms can be different in location and severity, depending upon the condition causing the sciatica (such as a lumbar herniated disc ). While symptoms can be painful and potentially debilitating, it is rare that permanent sciatic nerve damage (tissue damage) will result.

Sciatica symptoms occur when the large sciatic nerve is irritated or compressed in the lumbar spine.

The sciatic nerve is the largest single nerve in the body and is composed of individual nerve roots that start by branching out from the spine in the lower back and combine to form the “sciatic nerve.”

  • The sciatic nerve starts in the lower back at lumbar segment 3 (L3).
  • At each level of the lower spine a nerve root exits from the inside of the spine, and these respective nerve roots then come together to form the large sciatic nerve.
  • The sciatic nerve runs from the lower back, through the buttock, and down the back of each leg
  • Portions of the sciatic nerve then branch out in each leg to innervate certain parts of the leg – the thigh, calf, foot, toes.

The specific sciatica symptoms – the leg pain, numbness, tingling, weakness, and possibly symptoms that radiate into the foot – largely depend on where the nerve is pinched. For example, a lumbar segment 5 (L5) nerve impingement can cause weakness in extension of the big toe and potentially in the ankle.

The incidence of sciatica increases in middle age. Rarely occurring before age 20, the probability of experiencing sciatic pain peaks in the 50s and then declines.1

Often, a particular event or injury does not cause sciatica, but rather it tends to develop over time. The vast majority of people who experience sciatica get better within a few weeks or months and find pain relief with non-surgical sciatica treatment. For others, however, the leg pain from a pinched nerve can be severe and debilitating.

Because sciatica is caused by an underlying medical condition, treatment is focused on addressing the underlying causes of symptoms, such as spinal stenosis or a herniated disc. The goals of non-surgical sciatica treatments are to relieve pain and any neurological symptoms caused by a compressed nerve root. There is a broad range of options available for sciatica treatment. One or some combination of the treatments below are usually recommended in conjunction with specific exercises.

For acute sciatic pain, heat and/or ice packs are readily available and can help alleviate the leg pain, especially in the initial phase. Usually ice or heat is applied for approximately 20 minutes, and repeated every two hours. Most people use ice first, but some people find more relief with heat. The two may be alternated. It is best to apply ice with a cloth or towel placed between the ice and skin to avoid an ice burn.

Spinal adjustments and manual manipulation performed by appropriately trained health professionals, such as chiropractors and osteopathic physicians , are focused on providing better spinal column alignment, which in turn should help to address a number of underlying conditions that can cause sciatic nerve pain. Manual manipulation done to address the right indications by appropriately trained health professionals can create a better healing environment and should not be painful.

Another practice, acupuncture, is centered on the philosophy of achieving or maintaining well being through the open flow of energy via specific pathways in the body. Hair-thin needles (that are usually not felt) are inserted into the skin near the area of pain. Acupuncture has been approved by the U.S. FDA as a treatment for back pain, and the National Institutes of Health has recognized acupuncture as effective in relieving back pain, including sciatica.

Physical therapy exercises incorporating a combination of strengthening, stretching, and aerobic conditioning are a central component of almost any sciatica treatment plan. When patients engage in a regular program of gentle exercises, they can recover more quickly from sciatica pain and are less likely to have future episodes of pain.

If you have pain that may be caused by sciatica, please call our office at (304) 63-4927 for an appointment today. Dr. Chambers specializes in a multi-faceted alternative medicine treatment plan, consisting of chiropractic, acupuncture and physical therapy, personalized for each patient’s diagnosis.

Source: http://www.spine-health.com/conditions/sciatica/what-you-need-know-about-sciatica

Curvesday Thursday: Tips to Improve or Maintain Spinal Health

#Chiropractic #Swannchiropractic #wellness #spine #chattanooga #health

A healthy spine is an often overlooked and essential part of a healthy lifestyle. People who suffer from back pain, particularly if it is long-term, are generally less healthy than those who do not. In fact, back pain costs are staggering not only financially, but also in terms of lost time from work and because of psychosocial problems that arise during the healing process associated with long-term back pain.

Unfortunately, approximately 80-90% of the population suffers from spinal pain at some point. People who are overweight or obese, and who smoke, lift heavy objects, or had a previous episode of back pain, are more likely to experience back pain.

Because so many people suffer from spine pain, it’s important for you to try to keep your spine as healthy as possible. Following simple posture, lifting, and healthy lifestyle guidelines can help you keep your back in good shape.

The American Chiropractic Association recommends the following spinal health tips:

Standing

  • When standing, keep one foot slightly in front of the other, with your knees slightly bent. This position helps to take the pressure off your low back.
  • Do not stand bent forward at the waist for prolonged periods of time. The muscles in your low back become de-conditioned in this position, which may lead to pain.

Lifting

  • At all times, avoid twisting while lifting. Twisting is one of the most dangerous movements for your spine, especially while lifting.
  • If the item is too heavy to lift, pushing it is easier on your back than pulling it. Whenever possible, use your legs, not your back or upper body, to push the item.
  • If you must lift a heavy item, get someone to help you.

Sitting

  • Keep your knees slightly higher than your hips, with your head up and back straight.
  • Avoid rolling your shoulders forward (slouching).
  • Try to maintain the natural curve in your low back.

Reaching and Bending

  • When reaching for something above shoulder level, stand on a stool. Straining to reach such objects may not only hurt your mid-back and neck, but it can also bring on shoulder problems.
  • Do NOT bend over at the waist to pick up items from the floor or a table.
  • Instead, kneel down on one knee, as close as possible to the item you are lifting, with the other foot flat on the floor and pick the item up.
  • Or bend at the knees, keep the item close to your body, and lift with your legs, not your back.

Carrying

  • When carrying objects, particularly if they are heavy, keep them as close to your body as possible.
  • Carrying two small objects—one in each hand—is often easier to handle than one large one.

Healthy Diet and Exercise

  • While the proverbial jury is still out, we suspect that extra weight puts undue strain on your spine. Keep within 10 lbs. of your ideal weight for a healthier back.
  • “Beer belly” is likely the worst culprit, as it puts unwanted pressure on the muscles, ligaments and tendons in your low back.
  • The most efficient and effective way to reduce weight is by eating a sensible diet and exercising regularly.
  • Consult with your doctor before beginning any exercise program, particularly if you have a health condition.

Sleeping

  • Sleeping on your back puts approximately 50 pounds of pressure on your spine. Other positions may be better.
  • Placing a pillow under your knees while lying on your back cuts the pressure on your spine roughly in half.
  • Lying on your side with a pillow between your knees may also reduce the pressure on your back.
  • Never sleep in a position that causes a portion of your spine to hurt. Most often, your body will tell you what position is best.

Quit Smoking

Smokers have more spine pain than nonsmokers, and they also heal more slowly when they have an episode of back pain because the chemicals in tobacco smoke restrict the flow of blood to the tissues in and around your spine.

For a detailed info-graphic covering each of these points, please click here.

While following these instructions is no guarantee that you’ll be free from back pain for your entire life, it can certainly reduce your risk of developing it. These simple steps will help you keep your spine in good shape, making you a healthier, happier person.

Sources: http://www.acatoday.org/content_css.cfm?CID=1458

http://greatist.com/health/ultimate-guide-good-posture

Wellness Wednesday: Posture is Important!

“A good stance and posture reflect a proper state of mind.”

– Morihei Ueshiba

Your parents were right – Posture is Important!

“Sit up straight!” “Don’t slouch!” – I’m sure we’ve all heard those admonishing words more than once from our mother when we were growing up. And most of us begrudgingly complied with her command having no concept of the anatomical and bio-mechanical rationale behind her persistent prodding. In fact she probably wasn’t aware of all the implications of poor posture herself! But somehow, some way your mother always seemed to know best.

Think about it. The first thing you notice about people is not their eyes, not their hair, not even their clothes. It’s their posture. And it screams messages about who they are. Someone who stands erect gives off an aura of pride and self-confidence, while someone who slumps and stoops looks like he’s ashamed to be taking up space.

Yet looks aren’t the best reason to improve your posture. Health is. What begins as merely an unsightly stance or carriage can lead to authentic health problems if not corrected.

But what is good posture anyway and why is it so important? Basically posture refers to the body’s alignment and positioning with respect to the ever-present force of gravity. Whether we are standing, sitting or lying down gravity exerts a force on our joints, ligaments and muscles. Good posture entails distributing the force of gravity through our body so no one structure is overstressed.

So, here are eight more reasons to have a ‘correct’ healthy posture:

1. Portrays a better, more confident image.

Good posture will boost self-confidence. Try this: take a deep breath and stand straight. Do you feel better? More confident?

Also look around a crowded dining area or cafeteria some time, and notice how many people are hunched over their meals. Then try to spot someone who’s sitting tall in their seat, raising their fork or spoon to their mouth instead of pitching forward to grab the next bite. Doesn’t that look more elegant? Which person looks poised and confident to you?

2. Breathing becomes easier and deeper.

Try this: sit down and bend over and try to breathe in. Notice how it is harder to breathe. This is an extreme example of how our muscles and tendons get over restricted and cause a lessening of depth and ease in breathing.

People are often asked to sit up straight. This rarely has permanent effect because by the time someone needs to be reminded to do so, their body has adapted to be more comfortable in the slouching position. When they attempt to sit up “straight” they actually tighten the already over-shortened frontal muscles and tendons and this causes restrictions in the ease of breathing volume; tightening these muscles even slightly to make oneself more erect causes tightness in the entire upper body and reduces the ease of deeper breathing.

We intuitively do not like this and soon adjust back to where it was easier to breathe. That is why most people that are advised to sit up straight, remain erect for only a few minutes before reverting to the former slouch where breathing is a little easier. Their breathing is still held back from being fully deep, easy and balanced. For them it becomes easier and more what they have become accustomed to.

Often what we perceive as satisfactory is a lack of adequate understanding.

3. Improves circulation and digestion.

Good posture increases lung capacity, aiding oxygen transport and nutrition around the body. Upright open posture also allows more room in the abdominal cavity, this improves your health by allowing your organs to function more easily.

4. Makes you look slimmer and younger.

When having a good posture you will instantly take off 3-5 lbs in your appearance. It will also make you look slimmer, younger and your clothes will look better.

5. Your voice will sound better.

If you maintain good posture when you speak, and are careful not to let your chest “collapse” as you exhale, your diaphragm will open, making your voice sound better.

6. Help your muscles and joints.

Good posture helps us keep bones and joints in correct alignment so that our muscles are used correctly, decreasing the abnormal wearing of joint surfaces that could result in degenerative arthritis and joint pain. It also reduces the stress on the ligaments holding the spinal joints together, minimizing the likelihood of injury.

A good posture allows muscles to work more efficiently, allowing the body to use less energy and, therefore, preventing muscle fatigue. It also helps prevent muscle strain, overuse disorders, and even back and muscular pain.

7. Change your frame of mind.

Posture also affects your frame of mind and your frame of mind can affect your posture. So, when you are well, feeling happy and on top of things, posture tends to be upright and open. In contrast, people who are depressed and in chronic pain, often sit or stand slumped.

Next time you feel depressed or you’re anxious about something try changing your posture, stand up straight and breath deeply. Good posture in sitting and standing makes it easier to breathe fully and naturally, helping both relaxation and concentration. Many Eastern practices, such as yoga and tai-chi, work on posture.

8. Healthy spine

Correct posture is a simple but very important way to keep the many intricate structures in the back and spine healthy. Back support is especially important for people who spend many hours sitting in an office chair or standing throughout the day.

Not maintaining good posture and adequate back support can add strain to muscles and put stress on the spine. Over time, the stress of poor posture can change the anatomical characteristics of the spine, leading to the possibility of constricted blood vessels and nerves.

To achieve good posture you must make it a habit by keeping your shoulders back, abdomen pulled in, your head lifted and chin parallel to the ground. This won’t be easy if you are not used to it because you will have to build the muscles that keep your body in the correct position. It will take patience and practice. When you make a decision to work on your posture don’t expect it to happen overnight but rest assured it will improve and you will see and feel the difference.

So, what are you waiting for? Start improving your posture right now!

Sources: For the full article, please visit http://ririanproject.com/2006/09/29/8-reasons-to-have-good-posture/

Get Moving Monday: Yoga Improves Overall Health

Yoga is fast becoming popular all over the United States.  First developed in India, Yoga incorporates breathing exercises, meditation, and asana or postures that flexes and stretches muscle groups.  Its purpose is to create a sense of awareness, strength and harmony in mind and body. The benefits of yoga provide both instant gratification and lasting transformation. In the fitness world, both are extremely important. Too much time with too few results can be incredibly discouraging, and monotonous routines week after week can lead to stagnation.Yoga can change your physical and mental capacity quickly, while preparing the mind and body for long-term health. At any level of yoga, you’ll probably start to notice benefits soon. In one study, people improved their flexibility by up to 35% after only 8 weeks of yoga.

Yoga is a great way to work on your flexibility and strength. Just about everyone can do it, too — it’s not just for people who can touch their toes or want to meditate. Most yoga studios and local gyms offer yoga classes that are open to all generations and fitness levels. It’s exciting to enter a room full of young teens, athletes, middle-aged moms, older gentlemen and even fitness buffs and body builders. Everyone can feel accepted and included and, unlike other sports or classes that focus on niche clients, yoga tends to have open arms. Whether you like to say “Om” or you can’t stand the word “yogi;” whether you are 92, 53, or even 12, yoga can help you.

Yoga poses work by stretching your muscles. They can help you move better and feel less stiff or tired.  Yoga is not just about working out, it’s about a healthy lifestyle. The practice of yoga allows students to be still in a world consumed with chaos. Peace and tranquility achieved through focused training appeals to everyone. Yoga’s deep breathing and meditation practices help foster an inner shift from to-do lists, kids and spouse’s needs, financial concerns and relational struggles to something a little bit bigger than the issues you face. Yoga helps relieve stress and unclutter the mind, and helps you get more focused.

One of the benefis of yoga is that you can choose a yoga style that is tailored to your lifestyle, such as hot yoga, power yoga, relaxation yoga, prenatal yoga, etc. Whether you prefer you’re at home, in a private session, at a studio or gym, there are a huge variety of options available to suit your goals and needs.

Some styles of yoga, such as ashtanga and power yoga, are very physical. Practicing one of these styles will help you improve muscle tone. But even less vigorous styles of yoga, such as Iyengar or hatha, can provide strength and endurance benefits. If you are a yoga beginner, Hatha yoga, which focuses on basic postures at a comfortable pace, would be great for you.If you want to increase strength through using more of your own body’s resistance, power yoga may be right for you.If you are ready for a deeper practice, Advanced Yoga, or Bikram, also called “hot yoga,” may be just what you are looking for. In Bikram yoga, the room temperature is set to around 100 degrees Fahrenheit, resulting in greater elimination of toxins from the body through the increased production of sweat. No matter your fitness level, fat percentage, or health history, yoga has a place for you.

Yoga’s focus on strength training and flexibility is an incredible benefit to your body. The postures are meant to strengthen your body from the inside-out, so you don’t just look good, you feel good too. Each of the yoga poses is built to reinforce the muscles around the spine, the very center of your body, which is the core from which everything else operates. When the core is working properly, posture is improved, thus alleviating back, shoulder and neck pain.

The digestive system gets back on track when the stretching in yoga is coupled with a healthy, organic diet, which can relieve constipation, irritable bowl syndrome (IBS) and acid reflux. Another one of the benefits of yoga is that stretching and holding of postures also causes muscles to lengthen, which gives the body a longer, leaner look.

Yoga usually involves paying attention to your breath, which can help you relax. It may also call for specific breathing techniques. But yoga typically isn’t aerobic, like running or cycling, unless it’s an intense type of yoga or you’re doing it in a heated room. You may feel less stressed and more relaxed after doing some yoga. Some yoga styles use meditation techniques that help calm the mind. Focusing on your breathing during yoga can do that, too.

Yoga has long been known to lower blood pressure and slow the heart rate. A slower heart rate can benefit people with high blood pressure or heart disease, and people who’ve had a stroke. Yoga has also been linked to lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and better immune system function.

In addition to that, some of the known benefits of yoga are:

  • Increased physical flexibility
  • Increase in muscle strength
  • Improved muscle tone
  • Reduction in weight
  • Improved circulatory and cardio health
  • Balanced metabolism
  • Improved respiration
  • Increased energy and vitality
  • Greatly improved athletic performance
  • Beats stress

There are some yoga exercises that are more strenuous than others.  Some beginners suffer injuries for lack of physical preparation.  To avoid this when starting yoga, it is crucial that you inform your yoga instructor of certain illnesses and physical limitations that you may have.  If some positions are simply too painful for you, tell your instructor immediately.

It is also best that you tell your yoga instructor of certain mental health issues that are bothering you, whether they are stress, anxiety, and sleeplessness.  In this way, your instructor can formulate yoga exercises especially tailored to counter your mental health issues.

Sources:

http://www.webmd.com/balance/guide/the-health-benefits-of-yoga

http://healthandwellnessreviews.com/

http://life.gaiam.com/article/benefits-yoga

Curvesday Thursday: Multi-Faceted Treatment Plan May Alleivate Symptoms of Osteoarthritis

While there is currently no proven treatment to stop or slow the progression of osteoarthritis in the spine, there are treatments to alleviate the pain and other associated symptoms, and for most people the condition will not become debilitating. Some patients with osteoarthritis have minimal or no pain, and may not need treatment. Most people who require treatment will benefit from a combination of lifestyle changes such as exercise, weight reduction, and smoking cessation. Most treatment plans for osteoarthritis focus on controlling the pain and improving the patient’s ability to function. In only the most severe cases will surgery be necessary to treat pain and disability from osteoarthritis.

Medical practitioners often refer to osteoarthritis in the spine as spinal arthritis, degenerative joint disease, or arthritis of the facet joints. Spinal arthritis is relatively common and is most likely to occur in people over age fifty. It represents an ongoing, degenerative process in the spine, and may be associated with a number of other degenerative spinal conditions. In particular, osteoarthritis is associated with degenerative discs in the spine.

Degenerative discs and osteoarthritis often occur hand in hand because the disc and facet joints (the joints in the back affected by osteoarthritis) are both part of the same three-joint complex. It is thought that degenerating discs can place undue stress on the facet joints, thus over time leading to degeneration and formation of osteoarthritis in the facet joints (also called zygapophyseal joints). This may be why the two degenerative conditions are so often seen together.

If the disc as well as the facet joints become painful as a result of degenerative changes in the spine, the condition is often called spondylosis. However, degenerative disc disease and osteoarthritis are different conditions and can occur separately: One can have degenerative discs without any facet osteoarthritis; or one can have facet osteoarthritis without degenerative discs. Osteoarthritis of the spine is unlike arthritis of the hip, knee and other joints, as the pain, aches, tiredness and stiffness does not come from just the facet joints but often also from the degenerated discs and inhibition of the spinal extensor muscles.

Most treatment plans will include a combination of non-surgical options, based on assessing several factors for the individual patient, such as: severity of the osteoarthritis, which joints are affected, nature of the symptoms, other existing medical conditions, age, occupation, lifestyle factors, and everyday activities. In cases where the patient’s osteoarthritis is causing significant pain, it is imperative to address the arthritis pain and bring it down to a manageable level in order for the patient to continue with daily activities and preferably be able to participate in a reasonable level of rehabilitation and exercise.

People with osteoarthritis often find that warmth, through warm towels or hot packs applied to the joint, or a warm bath or shower, can relieve pain and stiffness. Heat is known to help reduce inflammation and swelling in the joints and can help improve circulation. Water therapy in a heated pool or whirlpool may also help. In some cases, cold, through cold packs or a bag of ice or frozen vegetables wrapped in a towel, can relieve pain or numb the sore area. Often, applying heat for 20 minutes before doing an exercise routine or activity, and following up with applying cold to the affected area afterwards, will help alleviate activity and exercise related pain in the joints. A physican or physical therapist should be consulted to determine if heat, cold, or a combination of the two is the best treatment.

Many people with arthritis have found substantial relief from their symptoms through physical therapy and exercise. In fact, exercise is thought to be the most effective non-drug treatment for reducing pain and improving movement for people with osteoarthritis. For those with osteoarthritis, the exercises need to be done correctly to avoid causing joint pain. Specific exercises help strengthen the muscles around the joints (removing some stress from the joints), improve joint mobility and reduce joint stiffness and pain.

It has been demonstrated that back and/or neck pain inhibits extensor muscle function, and thus exercises should be focused on those particular muscles. Regular exercise also has a wide range of side benefits, as it typically improves attitude, promotes a healthy level of blood circulation, helps individuals maintain an appropriate weight, promotes endurance, provides more energy, improves sleep, and can even decrease depression.

The patient may be referred to a physical therapist or exercise trainer by his/her doctor in order to determine the appropriate amount and types of exercise. For most, it is very important to work with an appropriately trained physical therapist in order to learn how to do the exercises correctly.

For chronic symptoms or to provide relief from severe episodes of pain from osteoarthritis in the neck or lower back, manipulation (such as chiropractic or osteopathic manipulation) is recommended. The philosophy for manipulations is that joint dysfunction in the spine can produce pain, and mobilizing the spine joints through manipulations (also called adjustments) can decrease that pain.

Since osteoarthritis is a joint dysfunction, it may respond well to mobilization. Manipulation is most often performed by a chiropractor, doctor of osteopathic medicine or a properly trained and licensed physical therapist. A less forceful kind of manipulation, called traction, may also be used, e.g., gravity traction using adjusting blocks.

TENS or Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation type of therapy uses small amounts of electricity to reduce sensitivity of nerves around the spine. The treatment has few side effects and is non-invasive; however not all patients receive pain relief. Typically, a physical therapist or a physiatrist will prescribe TENS units and instruct that patient on the proper use.

Acupuncture involves inserting ultra-fine needles at specific points on the skin. Most people report a tingling sensation, feeling relaxed or even energized. Some people have found acupuncture helpful for their osteoarthritis pain, and the NIH has found it useful as a treatment for low back pain and many other conditions including osteoarthritis.

Acupuncture is considered a safe medical treatment. For this reason, many physicians and practitioners believe that acupuncture is a beneficial treatment as an adjunct to other medical treatments, and/or as an alternative to medical treatments. In certain situations, acupuncture may be used in combination with conventional painkillers, or to replace them all together.

Patients with osteoarthritis of the spine who are overweight or obese will benefit from losing excess weight. When appropriate, weight loss can greatly reduce stress on weight-bearing joints and limit further joint injury. Weight control during middle age years can also help prevent the onset of osteoarthritis in later years. A healthy diet and regular exercise are needed to help reduce weight. A dietitian can help patients develop a healthy eating program that will help them lose excess weight and maintain the appropriate weight and mix of nutrients needed over the long term. Active exercise, which burns more calories, also assists with weight loss.

One of the most important things a patient can do is take care of oneself and adopt overall healthy lifestyle habits. Examples of specific healthy lifestyle habits include: getting proper amounts of rest, limiting alcohol and caffeine, not smoking, managing stress, and using good body mechanics for everyday activities (such as carrying a backpack instead of a purse and lifting with the legs instead of the back).

It is advisable to consult a doctor about lifestyle habits and recommendations and about programs designed to develop and reinforce these good habits. If you are experiencing back pain that might be caused by osteoarthritis, please call our office at (304) 263-4927 to schedule a consultation and begin a mufti-faceted treatment plan.

Sources: http://www.spine-health.com/conditions/arthritis/osteoarthritis-complete-treatment-guide