Curvesday Thursday: A Natural way to end GERD

What is GERD?

Most people will experience the symptoms of heartburn at least once in their lives. For most, hopefully, the painful sensation in the chest is limited to a one-time indulgence in jalapeno-flavored donuts, a significant amount of meat-lovers pizza, a pot of coffee, a few beers and a recent break-up after being fired from a job. For many others, heartburn occurs more frequently and it’s causes are harder to pinpoint.

Heartburn that occurs frequently is called GERD, or gastroesophageal reflux disease. It is a disorder in which the contents of the stomach, (gastro) including digestive juices and partially digested food, get by the barrier between the stomach and the esophagus (the lower esophageal sphincter) and come up (reflux) into the esophagus. This is problematic since the esophagus is not designed for digestion, but is rather a conduit from the mouth to the stomach, where digestion begins.

Acids that break down proteins and enzymes that break down protein, fats, and carbohydrates, are present in the stomach juices. This combination of acid and enzymes irritates the lining of the esophagus producing what most people describe as a burning sensation in the chest. Occasionally people have GERD that is pain free—these people may experience a hoarse voice that is more pronounced upon waking.

The symptoms of GERD can be extremely irritating. GERD that exists for a period of time causes changes in the esophagus. The constant aggravation to the esophageal lining can lead to pre-cancerous changes (called Barrett’s esophagus) that greatly increase one’s risk for cancer. For this reason, it is necessary to take very good care of your esophagus—and by extension, your digestive tract in general, and while we’re at it, the rest of your physical, mental, and spiritual being.  Rates of esophageal cancer are increasing in industrialized nations at a rate faster than any other cancer.

Pharmaceutical drugs used for GERD fall into several categories; H2 receptor antagonists (Tagament, Zantac), proton pump inhibitors (Prilosec, Prevacid), and antacids (Tums and baking soda). All of these drugs decrease the acidity of your stomach. The problem, of course, is that the stomach is supposed to be acidic. Acid in the stomach is needed to break down protein into its constituent parts, called amino acids. If the protein is not completely broken down and gets into the blood stream, your body can develop an allergy against that protein. This can cause both food allergies and autoimmune disease.

The problem with pharmaceuticals is that while these relieve symptoms, they do nothing to stop the reflux or the increased risk of developing digestive tract cancers. Also, your stomach detects the low-acid environment that the drug has created and secretes large amounts of the hormone gastrin (a hormone that stimulates the proton pumps to create acid). Elevated levels of gastrin are associated with many digestive tract cancers including esophageal, pancreatic, and stomach cancer.

The risks associated with pharmaceutical drugs for GERD are greatest with long-term use. A recent study by University of Michigan scientists found that mice given proton pump inhibitors for gastritis (inflammation of the stomach lining), acquired more “bad” bacteria and developed more inflammatory changes in their stomach linings than untreated mice. All this being said, there are times when the aforementioned pharmaceuticals may be appropriate to treat GERD. If you are on a prescription pharmaceutical, you should discuss this with your doctor. Do not stop taking any prescription mediation without your doctor’s knowledge and consent.

short term relief:

Rule number one is do not lie down within three hours of eating. Simply being vertical helps your stomach contents to stay where they belong. Lying down with an incompetent lower esophageal sphincter encourages stomach contents to reflux, causing the uncomfortable burning sensation (and damage) .

Rule number two is to avoid those things that cause the LES to relax, especially in the evening:

  • Peppermint
  • Chocolate
  • Soda
  • Coffee
  • Tea (herbal teas are OK)
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol
  • Bad fats—especially fried foods

There is also a range of herbal supplements that can be taken to calm the inflammation in the esophagus and help rebuild the damaged lining. Consult a functional medicine physician to determine which herbal supplements would be best to add to your individualized treatment plan.

Long Term Cure:

Chiropractic can work in two ways to help you to heal your GERD. First, chiropractic is the most effective means of treating a hiatal hernia, a common but often overlooked cause of GERD. A hiatal hernia is when the top part of your stomach “pops through” (herniates through) your diaphragm. The diaphragm muscle pinches the top part of your stomach and can cause reflux. A chiropractor trained in reducing hiatal hernias can fix this rapidly and your troubles are over.

The second way chiropractic can help is through manipulation of the spine. Research has shown that people with stomach ulcers who receive chiropractic adjustments heal much faster than people who do not. Often people who suffer from GERD and/or stomach ulcers develop pain in the upper back-between the shoulder blades. This is because the nerve supply is the same to both areas. Chiropractic adjustments to the upper back can “reconnect” the nerve supply to the esophagus and stomach and hasten healing.

Lifestyle Changes:

Lifestyle changes that could reduce or eliminate the occurance of GERD include the following:

Lose weight if you are overweight.

Eat a good organic whole yogurt on a regular basis, preferably raw.

Eat foods high in good bacteria include kim chee, sauerkraut, kombucha tea, and Miso.

Quit eating refined sugars and carbohydrates. This excess sugar and lack of fiber and nutrients disturbs the balance of bugs in your gut.

Cut down on coffee and alcohol. Do not have either on a daily basis, and when you do have them limit yourself to one cup of coffee or one alcoholic drink.

Cut out bad fats. These include hydrogenated oils, saturated fats from meat products, and many vegetable oils. Instead eat cold pressed organic olive, flaxseed, coconut, and sesame oils, organic butter, avocados, fresh nuts, lean meats and fatty fish.

Eat lots of fresh fruits and veggies. These foods contain the vitamins and minerals that your digestive track needs to function properly. The fiber and minerals also act as an acid buffer.

Check in with yourself regarding your stress levels. Your stress levels can play a large role in the state of your digestive track. If you are high strung, learn some technique of stress reduction. Learn to control your stress by practicing stress reduction daily.

Lastly, avoid taking pain medication unless absolutely necessary. NSAIDs and other pain medications eat the lining of your stomach and esophagus. Even Tylenol, which doesn’t have the systemic effect on your gastrointestinal tract, will eat your esophagus if it spends any length of time there. Tylenol is also the leading cause of liver failure in this country.

GERD can pose serious risks to your health over time. Do not let this disease go untreated. If you follow the outline above, you will be healing yourself at a much more meaningful level. GERD is often a symptom of a much greater problem involving diet, lifestyle, stress, the digestive tract as a whole. As always, it is better to treat the disease, not the symptoms.


Curvesday Thursday: Sitting is the New Smoking!

More and more studies are showing the health risks of sitting at your desk for too long. Heart disease, diabetes and certain types of cancers have all been shown to increase in those individuals that lead a sedentary lifestyle. Studies are beginning to equate sitting to smoking in terms of harm to overall health. Compound that with sitting at home and watching television when you get home and people fail to realize how long they are truly sitting in a day. Sitting for an hour can already start to have harmful effects. We have become a culture of sedentary individuals.

There are small things that you can do every day that will make you a less sedentary person. The difficulty for most people is getting started. However, once you used to doing these things then they will become habits as opposed to things that you constantly have to think about on a daily basis. Start small and work up to some of the ones that take more time and thought. Getting up for five minutes can change how your body is reacting.

Chiropractors treat people every day that do not understand how harmful sitting is for your body. For example, back and neck pain. These are two diagnoses chiropractors treat on a regular basis—patients with back and neck pain compose more than fifty percent of any practice. Education is a big part of the treatment plan and getting you to understand your body and ways to make changes to your environment that will help the pain that you are dealing with not become chronic pain.

The one consistent thing that is that if people got up more from their desks, from watching television, there would be far less back and neck pain diagnoses. And many of the things that people can do to save themselves from a life time of pain are so simple, yet many people ignore it until it is too late which leads to a long and costly fix where the person spends many days in therapy or getting injections. But just a few adjustments to your every day routine could help. Here are a few suggestions to begin being healthier even though you may have a desk job:

  1. Get up. You should not be sitting for more than a half hour at a time. Posture can become poor meaning your shoulders can slump forward and your back can become curved in the wrong position—putting an extremely high amount of pressure on the discs in your spine. Over time this can lead to herniated discs which can cause numbness and tingling.
    By getting up every half hour it prevents a lot of bad habits from developing. And when I say get up it does not need to be a lengthy trip out of the office, stand up at your desk, walk around your chair, walk to a file cabinet, and stand up during a conference call are all quick and simple ways to get moving during the day.
  2. Do exercises throughout the day. Exercises do not have to be squats at your desk chair, but standing up and doing some heel raises, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, stretching and shoulder rolls will help minimize the ill effects of sitting. If you find yourself at night sitting in front of the TV for long periods get up during commercial breaks, try not to get sucked in for hours with just sitting or laying.
  3. Walking meetings.  Scheduling meetings where you can be walking from one place to the next or just scheduling a meeting to walk for an hour will make it a much more productive meeting. Exercise has been shown to increase brain activity. Walking or doing some type of exercise will allow for not only increased brain activity but also minimize the amount of sitting and often eating that is done because as we all know many meetings have been scheduled around consuming a meal or coffee.
    Save yourself some sitting time and some calories by having these meetings while walking around.
  4. Look for ways to get up and moving, do not look for excuses. After reading these points, many of you have already formed 20 excuses as to why you cannot be doing any of these things and you are thoroughly convinced in your head that there is just no possible way. But if you truly take a step back, there are ways to have a more active lifestyle. Start with changing just one thing and then when that one thing becomes a habit, then change the next thing. This is an ongoing evolving process.

These are just a few points to give you ideas to get up and moving during the day. If you look hard enough you can find ways that can make your day more active. It is important when making changes to make changes that you incorporate into your lifestyle not just ones that you are going to do for a week and then quit. Finding a long term solution to sitting less will make you a healthier person.


Curvesday Thursday: Can Chiropractic Help Me?

Before we talk about Chiropractic Conditions, let us first review a little bit about chiropractors. A Doctor of Chiropractic (DC or D.C.) is an academic degree that chiropractic providers receive. Chiropractors are primary contact health care professionals that can help treat and remedy many of your health related conditions, without the necessity of a referral. As a result of this, chiropractors are considered to be a portal of entry to the health care system.

The role of a chiropractor is distinctly different from that of medical doctors and yet similar in other ways. Chiropractors are considered to be specialists in spinal pain, and yet their patients have a wide variety of complaints and conditions being successfully treated. Chiropractic focuses on prevention through a healthy lifestyle as opposed to taking medications, placing them in a unique position as wellness advocates.

People tend to think of chiropractic only treating neck and back pain, but that isn’t true. Chiropractic focuses on realigning the body, allowing it to successfully heal itself and return to homeostasis. Below is a list of conditions that respond well to chiropractic adjustments:

Curvesday Thursday: Chiropractic During Pregnancy

Chiropractic care is health maintenance of the spinal column, discs, related nerves and bone geometry without drugs or surgery. It involves the art and science of adjusting misaligned joints of the body, especially of the spine, which reduces spinal nerve stress and therefore promotes health throughout the body.

Is chiropractic care during pregnancy safe?

There are no known contraindications to chiropractic care throughout pregnancy. All chiropractors are trained to work with women who are pregnant. Investing in the fertility and pregnancy wellness of women who are pregnant or trying to conceive is a routine care for most chiropractors.

Some chiropractors take a specific interest in prenatal and postnatal care and seek additional training. Below represents designations of chiropractors who have taken advanced steps in working with infertility and pregnancy wellness.

  • DACCP – Diplomate with ICPA reflecting highest level of advanced training
  • CACCP – Certified with the ICPA reflecting advanced training
  • Member of ICPA reflecting special interest
  • Webster Certified – trained to work specifically with pelvic balance in pregnancy

Chiropractors that have been trained to work with pregnant women may use tables that adjust for a pregnant woman’s body, and they will use techniques that avoid unneeded pressure on the abdomen.

A chiropractor who is trained in the needs of women who are pregnant will also provide you with exercises and stretches that are safe to use during pregnancy.

Why should I have chiropractic care during pregnancy?

During pregnancy, there are several physiological and endocrinological changes that occur in preparation for creating the environment for the developing baby.

The following changes can result in a misaligned spine or joints:

  • Protruding abdomen and increased back curve
  • Pelvic changes
  • Postural adaptations

Establishing pelvic balance and alignment is another reason to obtain chiropractic care during pregnancy. When the pelvis is misaligned it may reduce the amount of room available for the developing baby. This restriction is called intrauterine constraint. A misaligned pelvis may also make it difficult for the baby to get into the best possible position for delivery.

This can affect the mother’s ability to have a natural, non-invasive birth. Breech and posterior positions can interfere with the natural ease of labor and lead to interventions such as c-sections. The nervous system is the master communication system to all the body systems including the reproductive system. Keeping the spine aligned helps the entire body work more effectively.

What are the benefits of chiropractic care during pregnancy?

Chiropractic care during pregnancy can provide benefits for women who are pregnant.

Potential benefits of chiropractic care during pregnancy include:

  • Maintaining a healthier pregnancy
  • Controlling symptoms of nausea
  • Reducing the time of labor and delivery
  • Relieving back, neck or joint pain
  • Preventing a potential cesarean delivery

What about chiropractic care and breech deliveries?

The late Larry Webster, D.C., Founder of the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association(ICPA), developed a specific chiropractic analysis and adjustment which enables chiropractors to establish balance in the pregnant woman’s pelvis and reduce undue stress to her uterus and supporting ligaments.

This balanced state in the pelvis has been clinically shown to allow for optimal fetal positioning. The technique is known as the Webster Technique.

It is considered normal by some for a baby to present breech until the third trimester. Most birth practitioners are not concerned with breech presentations until a patient is 37 weeks along. Approximately 4% of all pregnancies result in a breech presentation.

The Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics reported in the July/August 2002 issue an 82% success rate of babies turning vertex when doctors of chiropractic used the Webster Technique. Further, the results from the study suggest it may be beneficial to perform the Webster Technique, as soon as the 8th month of pregnancy, when a woman has a breech presentation.

Currently, the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association (ICPA) recommends women receive chiropractic care throughout pregnancy to establish pelvic balance and optimize the room a baby has for development throughout pregnancy. With a balanced pelvis, babies have a greater chance of moving into the correct position for birth, and the crisis and worry associated with breech and posterior presentations may be avoided altogether.

Optimal baby positioning at the time of birth also eliminates the potential for dystocia (difficult labor) and, therefore, results in easier and safer deliveries for both the mother and baby.

Chiropractors and pregnancy: Talk to Your Health Care Provider

As more women are seeking the benefits of chiropractic care throughout pregnancy, more health care providers are seeking trained doctors of chiropractic in their communities to refer their pregnant patients to. Discuss these options with your health care provider. If they are not yet familiar with chiropractic care in pregnancy, ask them to find out more about its many benefits.

Most importantly, seek options that support your body’s natural abilities to function and find a team of providers who are respectful of your choices.


Curvesday Thursday: Adjustments Can Relieve Seasonal Allergies

For a lot of people, this time of year means relishing in the cool nights, enjoying the bright and bold colors of the leaves, and getting outdoors for some fall fun. However, for some this time of year ultimately means itchy throats, sneezing, itchy and swollen eyes, a nagging cough, sinus headaches, drippy noses, and a general feeling of being unwell. Fall allergies can be more than just an annoyance. They can leave you feeling foggy and can make it difficult to simply enjoy the day, much less get out and enjoy the fall weather.

Somewhere along the line, we started believing that seasonal allergies were normal (perhaps it was the endless bombardment of allergy drug commercials), and that they are something that an individual is going to have to live with for the rest of their life, while medicating themselves. Seasonal allergies are far from normal, and the fact that they are so common means that many do not have an optimally functioning body.

Here are some tips for beating allergies this and every spring without relying on pill popping:

  • Avoid histamine containing foods, these are foods that have been aged and fermented – beer, alcohol, cheeses, pickles, sausage, etc.
  • Eat more anti-inflammatory foods –  fresh produce, fish and nuts (And less sugar, grains, and processed foods)
  • Drink more water! – Research shows that staying well hydrated helps relieve allergy symptoms
  • Drink green tea – The antioxidants in green tea block histamine production and reduce inflammation
  • If you must pop pills – Vitamin C and Quercetin are potent natural antihistamines
  • Get adjusted regularly – A proper functioning nervous system is essential to conquering allergies.

You may be thinking, how can chiropractic help allergies? Well, your body’s lack of ability to properly adapt to the changing environment is what we label as a seasonal allergy. After all, everyone breathes the same ragweed pollen, yet everyone does not have seasonal allergies. The difference is not the pollen, the difference is how our bodies react to the pollen. An allergic response happens when the body’s immune system overreacts to allergens such as dust, pollen, pet dander, etc.  The response is that the body overproduces neutralizing chemicals such as histamines to correct the problem.

Chiropractic care aims to have your nervous system functioning at an optimal level by removing irritation and misalignments of the spine- so that the body will not overreact to foreign substances (like pollen). Traditional allergy treatments only deal with the symptom without addressing the cause. Anyone who has taken allergy medication knows that it will work for a period of time and then its effect will gradually begin to decrease.

If you suffer from seasonal allergies and would like to begin a chiropractic treatment plan, please call our office at (304) 263-4927 today to schedule an appointment.


Curvesday Thursday: Adjustments can improve cholesterol numbers?!

A case study in the Journal of Vertebral Subluxation Research illustrated changes in cholesterol levels and quality of life in a patient following chiropractic care.

Cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death in the United States.  Among the major risk factors for cardiovascular disease, dyslipidemia is cited as a major risk factor. Dyslipidemia is a combination of ill-favored cholesterol levels in the circulating blood, namely Low Density Lipoprotien (LDL).

In this case study, a 49-year-old female presented with neck pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, low back pain, dyslipidemia and vertebral subluxations.  Lipid lowering statins were prescribed by her medical physician, but using her own judgment, she elected not to take them.

Statins are the number one prescribed drug for the treatment of dyslipidemia.  Statins decrease the body’s ability to produced LDL and have been shown to moderately increase HDL leading to better overall cholesterol levels.  Indeed, recent trials have emphasized the use of statins in the fight against cardiovascular disease, however overall mortality is not reduced even though reductions of cardiovascular deaths were seen.  This was due to a rise in deaths from other causes.  It is also important to realize that cholesterol itself is not the enemy; cholesterol is made by the body and is essential for human life.

The patient was treated with chiropractic spinal adjustments over a six-month time span.  During initial care, her total cholesterol improved from 221 to 170 mg/dL.  Her LDL went from 153 to 109 mg/dL and HDL went from 33 to 38 mg/dL.  Triglycerides improved from 241 to 199 mg/DL and quality of life scores were increased in eight categories.  No other interventions were used.

In 1992, a retrospective study was conducted, and cholesterol lab values were taken on ten randomly selected subjects over a three-year period.  Results showed that LDL and total cholesterol decreased in 70 percent of the subjects, bringing 80 percent of the subjects originally classified as borderline high to high-risk down to desirable levels following chiropractic care.

This suggested relationship between regular chiropractic care for improved function, which can allow the body to improve homeostasis, including improvement of blood lipid levels.  The clinical process documented in this report suggests that chiropractic care reduces subluxations and stress on the spinal column and nervous system, and as a result of this reduced stress, there is a reduction of dysponesis, which is evidenced by improved quality of life and blood serum cholesterol levels. Dysponesis refers to errors in physical reactions to various stimuli, which as a result, produce functional disorders in the body. This is very promising data.


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.


Curvesday Thursday: Sports Injury and Chiropractic Care

Participation in sports or exercise is an important step in maintaining your health. Exercise strengthens your heart, bones, and joints and reduces stress, among many other benefits. Unfortunately, injuries during participation in sports are all too common. Often, these injuries occur in someone who is just taking up sports as a form of activity, doesn’t use proper safety equipment, or becomes overzealous about the exercise regimen.

The more commonly injured areas of the body are the ankles, knees, shoulders, elbows, and spine. Remember that you should discuss any exercise program with your doctor of chiropractic before undertaking such activities.

Strains and Sprains

Although bones can sometimes be fractured with acute sports injuries, the most commonly injured structures are the muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Tendons attach muscles to bones, and ligaments attach one bone to another.

An acute twisting or overextension of a joint can lead to tears of muscles and tendons, called “strains,” and tears of ligaments result in “sprains.” These tears range from mild to severe. In mild injuries, just a few fibers are torn or stretched. Severe injuries, where there is a tear through the full thickness of the structure, are most often considered unstable injuries and frequently require surgical intervention. The intervertebral disc, a ligament between the vertebrae of the spine that works as a shock absorber, can also be torn, resulting in a disc bulge and/or herniation.

Ankle sprains most often involve tears of one or more of the ligaments along the outside of the ankle. Knee ligaments, including the larger external supportive ligaments and the smaller internal stabilizing ligaments, can also be torn. The cartilage on the back of the patella (knee-cap) can also become eroded from overuse, leading to a condition termed chondromalacia patella.

Chiropractic care can help treat sprains and strains by restoring normal function to the injured area. The chiropractor may also use one or more physiotherapy modalities such as ice, interferential muscle stimulation, therapeutic ultrasound, and rehabilitative therapies such as stretches and exercises, which all serve to help restore stability, range of motion, and normal use as soon as possible.

A study reported in The Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics found that patients receiving chiropractic care for a sprain or strain lost an average of 2.3 days less of work than patients receiving care from a medical physician (MD), and 3.8 days less work than those receiving osteopathic care, concluding: “generally, fewer workdays were lost and lower amounts of disability compensation and provider cost paid when chiropractic was included in the care pattern.” (Johnson, Schultz, Ferguson: 1982)


In those who are training too much, overuse of a particular joint or joints in the body can result in pain and dysfunction. These injuries are called “overuse syndromes.” A common overuse injury is tendinosis, also called tendinitis. In this condition, the tendon becomes inflamed from repetitive use. In the shoulder, the rotator cuff (a complex of muscles that stabilizes and moves the shoulder) becomes inflamed, resulting in rotator cuff tendinitis. Tennis elbow is another form of tendinitis that occurs along the outside of the elbow, most commonly in tennis players. In golfer’s elbow, the tendons on the inside of the elbow are affected.

The first goal of a chiropractor in treating tendonitis is to make an accurate diagnosis of the problem, ruling out any other possible underlying causes of the pain. This is necessary because the joint pain and stiffness of tendonitis are similar to the experience of bursitis or arthritis. X-rays, CAT (Computerized Axial Tomography) scans (an x-ray procedure used to create cross-sectional or three-dimensional images) and MRIs (magnetic resonance imaging) are tools a chiropractor might use to obtain an accurate diagnosis for tendonitis pain.

After the diagnosis, a chiropractor will select a natural treatment plan that addresses the cause of the tendonitis, rather than simply treating symptoms. Initially, the chiropractor may support and protect the injured tendons by bracing those portions of the tendon that were pulled. The tendon needs to be loosened and the inflammation reduced. Treatments that follow might include ultrasound, ice, rest, temporary immobilization, electrical muscle stimulation, manual trigger point therapy (applying firm pressure by hand on a trigger point for several seconds and then stretching the muscle afterward), strengthening exercises, physical therapy, and/or massage. Joint manipulation may also be performed on individuals with diminished joint mobility.

Stress Fractures

Some athletes may experience a stress fracture, also called a fatigue fracture. This type of fracture occurs when an abnormal amount of stress is placed on a normal bone. This might occur in a runner who rapidly increases the amount of mileage while training for a race. Stress fractures also occur in people who begin running as a form of exercise but overdo it from the start, rather than gradually progress to longer distances. A common type of stress fracture is known as shin splints. This overuse injury is caused by micro-fractures on the front surface of the tibia (shin bone).

While the main symptom of a shin splint is caused by a constant contraction of the muscle at the front of the leg, the root of the problem is usually related to improper biomechanics of the foot and knee. If twisting of the shin bone called tibial torsion is occuring, the tibialis anterior is forced to work much harder than necessary. This can cause significant damage to the cartilage pad of the knee if left untreated. This means that you must return the biomechanics of the foot and knee to proper function. Chiropractic treatment for shin splints focuses on returning the biomechanics of the foot and knee to proper function in order to reduce strain on the tibialis anterior so that it may heal.

Are you suffering from a sport-related injury? If you would like to begin a drug-free pain management protocol, please call our office as (304) 263-4927 today to schedule an appointment.

Curvesday Thursday: Say Goodbye to Neck Pain

Your neck, also called the cervical spine, begins at the base of the skull and contains seven small vertebrae. Incredibly, the cervical spine supports the full weight of your head, which is on average about 12 pounds. While the cervical spine can move your head in nearly every direction, this flexibility makes the neck very susceptible to pain and injury.

The neck’s susceptibility to injury is due in part to biomechanics. Activities and events that affect cervical biomechanics include extended sitting, repetitive movement, accidents, falls and blows to the body or head, normal aging, and everyday wear and tear. Neck pain can be very bothersome, and it can have a variety of causes.

Here are some of the most typical causes of neck pain:

Injury and Accidents: A sudden forced movement of the head or neck in any direction and the resulting “rebound” in the opposite direction is known as whiplash. The sudden “whipping” motion injures the surrounding and supporting tissues of the neck and head. Muscles react by tightening and contracting, creating muscle fatigue, which can result in pain and stiffness. Severe whiplash can also be associated with injury to the intervertebral joints, discs, ligaments, muscles, and nerve roots. Car accidents are the most common cause of whiplash.

Growing Older: Degenerative disorders such as osteoarthritis, spinal stenosis, and degenerative disc disease directly affect the spine.

  • Osteoarthritis, a common joint disorder, causes progressive deterioration of cartilage. The body reacts by forming bone spurs that affect joint motion.
  • Spinal stenosis causes the small nerve passageways in the vertebrae to narrow, compressing and trapping nerve roots. Stenosis may cause neck, shoulder, and arm pain, as well as numbness, when these nerves are unable to function normally.
  • Degenerative disc disease can cause reduction in the elasticity and height of intervertebral discs. Over time, a disc may bulge or herniate, causing tingling, numbness, and pain that runs into the arm.

Daily Life: Poor posture, obesity, and weak abdominal muscles often disrupt spinal balance, causing the neck to bend forward to compensate. Stress and emotional tension can cause muscles to tighten and contract, resulting in pain and stiffness. Postural stress can contribute to chronic neck pain with symptoms extending into the upper back and the arms.

Chiropractic Care of Neck Pain
During your visit, your doctor of chiropractic will perform exams to locate the source of your pain and will ask you questions about your current symptoms and remedies you may have already tried. For example:

  • When did the pain start?
  • What have you done for your neck pain?
  • Does the pain radiate or travel to other parts of your body?
  • Does anything reduce the pain or make it worse?

Your doctor of chiropractic will also do physical and neurological exams. In the physical exam, your doctor will observe your posture, range of motion, and physical condition, noting movement that causes pain. Your doctor will feel your spine, note its curvature and alignment, and feel for muscle spasm. A check of your shoulder area is also in order. During the neurological exam, your doctor will test your reflexes, muscle strength, other nerve changes, and pain spread.

In some instances, your chiropractor might order tests to help diagnose your condition. An x-ray can show narrowed disc space, fractures, bone spurs, or arthritis. A computerized axial tomography scan (a CT or CAT scan) or a magnetic resonance imaging test (an MRI) can show bulging discs and herniations. If nerve damage is suspected, your doctor may order a special test called electromyography (an EMG) to measure how quickly your nerves respond.

Chiropractors are conservative care doctors; their scope of practice does not include the use of drugs or surgery. If your chiropractor diagnoses a condition outside of this conservative scope, such as a neck fracture or an indication of an organic disease, he or she will refer you to the appropriate medical physician or specialist. He or she may also ask for permission to inform your family physician of the care you are receiving to ensure that your chiropractic care and medical care are properly coordinated.

Neck Adjustments
A neck adjustment (also known as a cervical manipulation) is a precise procedure applied to the joints of the neck, usually by hand. A neck adjustment works to improve the mobility of the spine and to restore range of motion; it can also increase movement of the adjoining muscles. Patients typically notice an improved ability to turn and tilt the head, and a reduction of pain, soreness, and stiffness.

Of course, your chiropractor will develop a program of care that may combine more than one type of treatment, depending on your personal needs. In addition to manipulation, the treatment plan may include mobilization, massage and/or rehabilitative exercises, and/or acupuncture.

If you are experiencing neck pain, please call our office at (304) 263-4927 to schedule an appointment today to begin a personal, multi-faceted, drug-free treatment plan designed to provide relief and healing.


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.