Browsed by
Category: Bones

Do You Know the Top Foods for Healthy Joints?

Do You Know the Top Foods for Healthy Joints?

Keeping our joints healthy is one of the most important things we can do to remain independent and active as we age. Life can become quite challenging for individuals who are immobilized by joint pain, since it can result in reduced physical and social activity as well as a higher risk of psychological and emotional problems.

When it comes to joint health, exercise is very important, but what you EAT also plays a significant part. Here are some of our favorite joint-friendly foods:

Water — Perhaps the single-most important “food” is water. This liquid is essential for maintaining every system within the body. Water helps in the elimination of toxins, including those poisons that can create joint pain. Water also helps in the delivery of nutrients to the various parts of the body and—like the oil in your car—is essential for joint lubrication. Drink plenty of water every day!

Fish — Cold water fish, such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, white tuna, halibut and trout can deliver healthy doses of omega-3 from the fish oil in each serving. Omega-3 fatty acid is known to reduce inflammation that can cause or increase joint pain. Fish oil can also slow down cartilage degeneration. Cartilage is the rubbery substance between bones that allows for smooth movement. When this wears out, movement becomes extremely painful.

Dairy products — In addition to contributing to bone health, dairy products (and particularly low-fat ones) such as cottage cheese, yogurt and milk can also help eliminate painful gout symptoms.

Flax Seeds — Flax is another source of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids for great joint health. Flax seeds and flax seed oil are high in antioxidants, which help to prevent or delay some effects of aging. Flax also contains lots of fiber, which can help you feel fuller for a longer time, reducing the likelihood of snacking. Frequent snacking can lead to obesity—a condition frequently associated with joint pain.

Spices —Curry, ginger and cinnamon also have anti-inflammatory properties that can help your joints. Turmeric has been shown to be particularly effective in reducing the symptoms of osteoarthritis. With these spices in the mix, a joint-friendly diet certainly doesn’t have to taste bad or be bland.

Papaya —The Annals of Rheumatic Diseases published a 2004 study showing a strong correlation between low vitamin C intake and rheumatoid arthritis. Those with the lowest vitamin C consumption were 3 times more likely to develop the disease. Though orange juice has a good dose of vitamin C, papaya has nearly twice as much. Not only that, papaya also includes a good dose of beta carotene for even more anti-oxidant joint support.

Tart cherry juice — The anthocyanins contained in this juice are powerful anti-inflammatories that have been shown to reduce arthritis-related inflammation even better than aspirin. In addition, cherry juice is effective in reducing the painful symptoms of gout.

Want Stronger Bones? Weight Training Can Help!

Want Stronger Bones? Weight Training Can Help!

health club: guy in a gym doing weight lifting

As we age, we normally lose a certain amount of bone density. This is a particular problem for postmenopausal women due to the loss of estrogen, which protects against bone loss. Although men are less likely to suffer from osteoporosis (because their bones are generally larger and more dense), they can also be subject to bone loss if they do not get a sufficient amount of exercise. So what can be done to avoid it? Along with a healthy diet, studies have shown that weight-bearing exercise can help to maintain bone density as we age.

Professor of exercise science at California Lutheran University, Dr. Steven Hawkins, says “Exercise stimulates bone formation, because bone put under moderate stress responds by building density, and, depending on your age and workout regimen, it can either increase or maintain bone-mass density.”

Weight training (also referred to as strength training) increases bone mass, particularly that of the spine. A study performed by researchers at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, showed that postmenopausal women who do not participate in strength training lose bone mass. However, those women who participated in a year-long strength training program increased their spinal bone mass by nine percent.

Strength training does not mean you have to go to the gym every day and train to Olympian standards. It only requires regularly performing a variety of simple, weight-bearing exercises. Much as a muscle becomes larger and stronger the more you use it, bones become stronger and denser the more stress that is placed upon them.

Gary Null, in his book Power Aging notes “Weight lifting, including curls and bench presses, is a beneficial activity.” And for those who’d rather not spend any time around a gym, “Dancing, stair-climbing and brisk walking are all weight-bearing exercises, which promote (good) mechanical stress in the skeletal system, contributing to the placement of calcium in bones.” But what about aerobic exercises? While they are very good for your cardiovascular system, Aerobic exercises such as biking, rowing and swimming do not strengthen the bones” as they do not place enough stress on the skeletal system to stimulate bone growth.

You only need about 15-30 minutes of weight training two or three times a week to help maintain your bone density. You can use weight machines at the gym, or consider attaching some light weights to your arms and legs as you do a regular workout to increase the stress on your skeletal system. Even gardening can be a good way to help preserve bone mass, as it involves such bone-strengthening activities as pulling weeds, pushing a lawnmower or wheelbarrow, turning over soil, etc. Even something as simple as carrying groceries to and from the car can help.

So consider adding a little weight training to your daily routine so you can maintain your bone health and (with a bit of luck) remain fracture-free far into your later years.

If you need more ideas on how to improve your bone health, be sure to schedule an appointment with Dr. Oblander by calling our office at 406-652-3553!

 

Spinal Anatomy 101

Spinal Anatomy 101

vertebrae-model-200-300 “Never grow a wishbone, daughter, where you backbone ought to be.”

-Clementine Paddleford, American Writer (1898 – 1967)

It’s no accident that so many philosophers and writers have used the backbone as a metaphor for discipline, force of will or character.  Your spine (or “backbone”) is the primary physical support for your body’s entire frame.  It’s a remarkable piece of natural engineering composed of 33 separate vertebrae that act as a single unit to provide stability as well as flexibility while you’re sitting, standing or in motion.  A healthy spine is both strong and resilient.  With proper nutrition, exercise, postural habits and chiropractic care, it can allow us to lead an active lifestyle well into old age.  However, poor biomechanics, injury and disease can cause problems with the spine that result in misalignment, inflammation, pain and restricted movement.

The spine develops from infancy into adulthood, gradually evolving from a C-shape, which is suitable for crawling, to its distinctive S-shape, which is the appropriate shape for two-legged walking.  The natural curves in the spine serve to cushion impact from movement, absorb shock, preserve balance, and allow range of motion.  The three main curves in the spine are known as the cervical curve (the neck region), the thoracic curve (the upper back) and the lumbar curve (the lower back).

There are 7 cervical vertebrae, 12 thoracic, 5 lumbar, 5 sacral and 4 coccygeal vertebrae.  The sacral and coccygeal vertebrae are those located lowest in the spine, below the area of the lumbar curve.  Twenty-four of the vertebrae in your spine are moveable. They are cushioned by intervertebral discs which act like coiled springs. These discs are fluid filled and—as we age—become thinner and more brittle, often causing us to get shorter.  Over time (or as a result of excessive wear and tear or specific injury), they can degenerate, bulge or herniate, potentially causing significant pain and loss of mobility.

There are several other common spinal disorders.  Lordosis, also known as “sway back,” occurs when there is abnormal forward curvature of the lumbar spine.  Those who have abnormal curvature of the thoracic curve have kyphosis, or “hunchback.”  Scoliosis occurs when there is a side-to-side curvature in the spine. Slight curves of less than 20 degrees do not usually present health or problems and are seldom treated.  Moderate or severe curves usually require treatment because they can interfere with the functioning of internal organs and may significantly limit physical activity.

While the bones and connective tissues of the spine are very good at what they do, they cannot support the body’s weight and facilitate movement on their own.  They need the help of strong core muscles.  Good muscle tone is important to help maintain proper posture and spinal alignment.  This is why it’s so important for us to put effort into maintaining proper posture when we sit, stand, lie, walk and run.  Over time, poor posture can place unnatural stresses on the musculoskeletal system (especially the spine), limiting our range of motion and producing pain.

In addition to its role in supporting the body’s frame and facilitating movement, the spine has another important role as well.  The spine’s bony vertebrae also encase and protect the spinal cord, which is connected directly to the brainstem.  It’s hard to exaggerate how important this protection is.  Damage to the spinal cord can cause numbness and loss of motor function.  Injury to the cervical area can cause tetraplegia (also known as quadriplegia), while injury to the thoracic or lumbar area may result in paraplegia, or loss of the use of the legs and trunk.

This article serves as a brief introduction to just one aspect of your anatomy.  If you are in the Billings area and need a Billings Chiropractor and you have any questions about your spinal health or your musculoskeletal health more generally, please don’t hesitate to call us at Oblander Chiropractic or visit our office (406-652-3553).  We’re here to help!

Growth Plate Injuries: What Parents Should Know

Growth Plate Injuries: What Parents Should Know

boy-with-chocolate
boy-with-chocolate

For a child, falling down is almost inevitable and generally doesn’t result in a trip to the emergency room. However, even minor falls can sometimes cause serious injuries. If you hear a cracking sound or if your child has bruising, swelling, or a limb deformity, there’s a chance your child may have broken a bone and you should seek medical attention right away if you notice these symptoms. Most types of breaks are routine (for the medical staff if not for the parent), but those involving a growth plate can present complications and require extra attention.

There is a marked difference between the bones of an adult and those of a child. Children have what are called physes—that is, growth plates. These growth plates are located at the end of long bones in the arms and legs. The growth plates, made of soft, rubbery cartilage, cause the bone to grow in length. Growth plates are found near the shoulder joint, elbow joint, hip joint, knee joint, ankle joint and wrist joint. Of the six main locations the ankles and wrists are particularly vulnerable to harm.

Growth plate damage can lead to long term problems. When a growth plate is injured, the bone may stop or slow growing. This is why it is essential to seek qualified medical treatment immediately to avoid problems later in life. If injured, a child should under no circumstances “walk it off.”

It is imperative to get the child to a doctor as soon as possible if you suspect a growth plate break. Growth plates heal quite rapidly, which gives doctors only a very short window to do non- surgical manipulations in order to set broken bones correctly. If your child has a minor, non-displaced break, the doctor may treat it like a sprain and recommend a splint, cast, or walking boot to protect the area for four to six weeks. Usually, these types of fractures do not require long-term care. Preferably, a growth plate fracture should be set within a week of injury.

When a child’s bone has moved or been displaced, an orthopedist can set the bone back in place in the emergency room without the need to operate. The child will be anaesthetized in the emergency department, and the doctor will use X-rays to determine where to correctly move the bone. Once the bone has been set, the doctor will set a cast in order to keep the bone in place. Usually the child will be allowed to go home that night, but occasionally they will be admitted to ensure the swelling is not too severe. Proper care and follow up will likely involve physical therapy and doctor’s visits for the next half a year.

Most growth plate fractures heal properly and do not result in any long-term issues. Once in a while, the bone stops growing and winds up shorter than the other appendage. For example, a fractured leg might become shorter than the opposite leg. Early detection that growth is unequal between the two limbs is essential. However, this is a true minority of cases and most children heal just fine.

Top Foods for Healthy Bones

Top Foods for Healthy Bones

Still life of variety of Healthy Foods
Still life of variety of Healthy Foods

Strong bones are essential for healthy living, but there’s no guarantee that any of us will have them as we grow up and grow older. While we don’t think about it very much unless something goes wrong, we need to do our part to develop and protect our bones. Proper nutrition is part of that.

Your skeleton is a living organ that needs nutrients in order to rebuild bone in areas where it is continually being broken down. Osteoporosis, a condition in which bones lose mass and density and are at greater risk for fractures, occurs in 55% of Americans over 50. Millions of fractures occur every year as a result of poor bone health.

The most common osteoporosis-related bone fractures among the elderly affect the hips, vertebrae, wrists and ribs. Vertebral fractures are the most common, and occur most often in women. You may see an elderly woman with hunched shoulders, head propped forward and unable to stand straight, because a few of her vertebrae have essentially collapsed. This condition is sometimes called “dowager’s hump”.

How do we prevent this from happening to us? In addition to regular weight-bearing exercise, diet can make a big difference. Here are some bone-friendly foods you can add to your diet to help keep your bones strong:

Seeds—Though we usually think of bones as being made of calcium, they also consist of other elements. For instance, half of the body’s magnesium is found in the bones. A great source of magnesium is seeds, particularly pumpkin seeds. Brazil nuts are also rich in magnesium.

Nuts—Walnuts are rich in alpha linolenic acid, which helps to keep bones building up instead of breaking down.

Leafy greens—Leafy greens (particularly the dark green kind), provide a host of nutrients and vitamins, including magnesium, calcium and vitamin K. Vitamin K helps to cut calcium loss in urine and is essential in building new bone matter to replace old.

Beans—Pinto beans, kidney beans, black beans and white beans all contain magnesium and even a little calcium. Beans not only help your bones, they help prevent obesity, heart disease and cancer.

Sardines—Canned sardines contain a substantial amount of calcium. A 3 oz. can typically contains 320 mg of calcium.

Swiss cheese—One ounce usually contains 270 mg of calcium.

Dried plums (Prunes)—Dried plums are a reliable source of dietary fiber, phenols and vitamin K. They’ve been shown to suppress the rate of bone resorption, or the breakdown of bone.

Besides eating well, it’s very important to remember to exercise. In fact, one of the greatest health risks faced by astronauts when they go into orbit is bone loss. Bones deteriorate more quickly in zero gravity unless exercise is included in the daily routine. The same idea applies here on earth. Stressing bones with physical activity (particularly weight-bearing exercise and exercise that involve some type of impact, such as running) seems to trigger bone-building activity and prevents the body from using bone-building nutrients for other things.

 

How Are Bones Made and How Do They Grow?

How Are Bones Made and How Do They Grow?

bone-diagram-200-300Each of the 206 bones in your body is constantly undergoing a process of breakdown and renewal, even if you have never suffered a broken bone in your life. Your entire skeleton is completely replaced approximately every 10 years. The construction of bone tissue begins when we are a fetus in the womb, and continues until we die. Our genetics and both the nutrients we receive before we are born and those we get through our diet in our youth have a major influence on the strength and endurance of our skeletal system.

Fetal cartilage is the precursor to bone growth, and is transformed into bone in a process called ossification. The fetal cartilage attracts the minerals calcium and phosphorus, which cover the cartilage cells. The fetal cartilage cells soon die off, leaving small holes through which blood vessels can grow. Osteoblasts, the specialized cells responsible for bone growth, travel to the developing bone via these tiny blood vessels. There they produce the collagen fibers that are the structure over which bone is formed, and attract the calcium with which the fibers are covered. Osteoblasts eventually transform into osteocytes, which become part of the calcium mix that helps to reinforce the collagen fibers and strengthen the bone.

Osteoclasts are the cells responsible for breaking down and removing old bone tissue, leaving small chambers that allow marrow to form. The small holes osteoclasts create are why this particular part of the bone is called spongy bone. Although it is hard, spongy bone resembles a common kitchen sponge. In our youth, the osteoblasts outnumber the osteoclasts, so we have a net gain of bone growth. This is when the growth of bone is referred to as modeling. Bone continues to grow until approximately our mid-20s, at which point we have reached our greatest bone density.

From our mid-20s on, our bones are in a constant process of remodeling. At this point, the osteoblasts can no longer keep up with the osteoclasts.  While bone is continually being rebuilt, no supplemental bone is being added, so we can begin to lose bone density. Even though our bodies no longer add to our stock of spongy bone tissue after our mid-20s, we can still continue to add bone to the outer layer of our bones, called compact bone. Compact bone accounts for about 80 percent of our bone mass and protects the more fragile spongy bone inside. Although compact bone is considerably denser than spongy bone, it still has tiny channels for blood vessels and nerves to pass through.

Our spongy bone is filled with two types of marrow, red and yellow. Red bone marrow is responsible for the creation of our red and white blood cells and the platelets that are necessary for clotting in order to stop bleeding when we are injured. Yellow bone marrow consists mostly of fat cells and is more common in our long bones, such as the femur.

A healthy diet with adequate amounts of calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and vitamin K, along with a little regular weight-bearing exercise, will help ensure that you maintain the greatest bone density possible as you age, and will help protect against the danger of fractures due to osteoporosis.

Building Better Bones for the Long Run

Building Better Bones for the Long Run

senior-man-working-dumbells
senior-man-working-dumbells

When it comes to leading a healthy, active lifestyle in middle age and beyond, maintaining your bone density (also called “bone mass”) is very important. To really understand the challenges associated with this—and to appreciate the opportunities—it’s necessary to know a little bit about how your skeleton grows and develops over the years.

Your bones are actually a lot more active than most people realize. Even if you’re an adult, somewhere between 7% and 10% of the cells in your bones are replaced during any given year. This means that your entire skeleton will be replaced in about a decade. The bones in the human body are constantly being broken down, reabsorbed and rebuilt, with those experiencing the most daily wear-and-tear being rebuilt the most frequently. This is referred to as “remodeling” or “bone turnover.”

Even though your bones stop growing in length in early adulthood, they can continue to grow in diameter throughout your life in response to activity. When this happens, special cells called osteoblasts form compact bone around the outside of the bone surface while other cells called osteoclasts break down and reabsorb older bone tissue from the internal bone surface. These two processes work together to increase the diameter of the bone while preventing it from becoming too thick and heavy.

Girls achieve up to 90% of their peak bone mass (the amount of bone tissue in the skeleton) by their 18th birthday. Boys hit that same milestone by the time they’re about 20 years old. Bone mass can keep growing until around age 30 for both men and women. After this point, bone mass tends to remain stable for a number of decades as bone building activities remain roughly in balance with bone resorption activities. However, this balance begins to change and bone mass begins to decline when you reach more advanced years. For women, this drop in bone density is closely related to menopause.

There are essentially three things you can do to maintain healthy bone mass:

  1. Stimulate as much bone growth as possible while you are still young. Timing counts—the higher your peak bone mass is when you hit your early 20s and 30s, the more bone loss you can experience later in life without the risk of osteopenia or osteoporosis. We recognize that, for many readers, this bit of information will come too late. We include it here for the benefit of parents who are still in a position to help their children.
  2. Eat a bone-healthy diet. Calcium, vitamin K and vitamin D are the keys, but vitamin A, vitamin B12 and vitamin C matter too!

    Calcium is integral to maintaining bone strength. Dark green, leafy vegetables are the single best source of this mineral. Ounce for ounce, they’re even better than dairy products (which are also good). So the key to feeding your bones is to incorporate more spinach, collard greens, broccoli and bok choy into your diet in addition to dairy (milk, yogurt and cheese). Tofu is often fortified with calcium as well, so a quick stir-fry including tofu, bok choy and sesame seeds (another great source of calcium) makes an excellent bone-healthy meal.

    Vitamin K is key to the production of osteocalcin, a bone protein. Vitamin K is needed to bind calcium to the bones and reduces the amount of calcium that is excreted in the urine. It has been shown to promote higher bone density and reduce the risk of fractures. Fortunately, the same dark green, leafy vegetables that are chock full of calcium are also a great source of vitamin K.

    Vitamin D is critical for calcium absorption. However, many experts believe that most Americans may be vitamin D deficient, particularly during the winter months when days are short and there is little sunlight. However, the general trends toward less outdoor activity at other times of the year and more sunscreen use may increase the risk of year-round vitamin D deficiency. According to Dr. Michael Holick, a leading vitamin D expert, “We want everyone to be above 30 nanograms per milliliter,” Holick says, “but currently in the United States, Caucasians average 18 to 22 nanograms and African-Americans average 13 to 15 nanograms.” This is perhaps the best argument for vitamin D-enriched milk and supplementation.

  3. Weight-bearing exercise stimulates bone formation and lowers the rate of calcium loss. You can help to increase your bone density at any age by practicing weight-bearing exercise three times per week for 20 to 30 minutes. This can include activities such as lifting weights, walking or running, dancing, playing tennis, climbing stairs, or jumping rope. Remember—even if you get bone-friendly vitamins and minerals, you will still lose bone mass more quickly if you are a couch potato.

    Gary Null, in his book Power Aging notes “Weight lifting, including curls and bench presses, is a beneficial activity.” And for those who’d rather not visit the health club, “Dancing, stair-climbing and brisk walking are all weight-bearing exercises, which promote (good) mechanical stress in the skeletal system, contributing to the placement of calcium in bones.” But what about aerobic exercises? While they are very good for your cardiovascular system, “aerobic exercises such as biking, rowing and swimming do not strengthen the bones.” They simply don’t place enough stress on the skeletal system to stimulate bone growth.

Beyond their role in giving your body its shape as well as supporting and moving it, the bones that make up your skeleton do a number of other really important things that are less obvious:

  • They provide protection for your body’s vital organs.
  • They are where your red blood cells and lymphocytes are produced (within your bone marrow).
  • They store important minerals, including calcium and iron, and are involved in metabolizing them.
  • They help regulate your body’s endocrine system (including regulation of blood sugar and storing fat).

Be good to your bones and they’ll be good to you!

Have any questions? If so, please call or visit our office today!

 

Additional Resources

To Ensure Bone Health, Start Early. http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/08/05/to-ensure-bone-health-start-early/

Bone Health: Tips to Keep Your Bones Healthy. http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/adult-health/in-depth/bone-health/art-20045060

Maintaining Bone Health: Why Bone Health is Important. http://nihseniorhealth.gov/falls/bonehealth/01.html

Exercise and Physical Activity. http://www.americanbonehealth.org/what-you-should-know/exercise

google-site-verification: google27ea280976b3c539.html