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Category: Joint Pain

Bursitis Causes and Treatment Options

Bursitis Causes and Treatment Options

Bodily movement is assisted by over 150 fluid-filled sacs called bursae. Bursae help to cushion your bones, ligaments, and tendons as they move against each other. When in good health these bursae ensure that your joins have a full range of motion. However, these sacs can become swollen and irritated, creating a condition known as bursitis.

The most common cause of bursitis is overuse of the joint. Repetitive movements can irritate the bursae, leading to pain, swelling, and tenderness. Common movements that may lead to bursitis are extensive kneeling (scrubbing the floor or laying carpet, for example), lifting heavy objects (lifting a bag of groceries into the car), and athletic injuries (an aggressive tennis swing). These movements cause the sac to fill with fluids. The resulting swelling puts pressure on the tissue around the sac, causing pain and tenderness.

Other less-common causes of bursitis include gout and infection. Gout crystals can form in the elbow, causing pain and inflammation. Bursae in the knee and elbow lie just below the skin. This leaves them vulnerable to puncture injuries, which can lead to infection.

People become more susceptible to bursitis as they age. Because the shoulder is the most used joint in the body, it is the place where it is most likely to be felt. People over the age of 65 should be especially cautious when carrying out activities that put stress on the shoulder joint.

Treating bursitis begins with conservative measures. Because bursitis due to injury and repetitive movement often goes away on its own, these treatments focus on relieving pain and making the sufferer more comfortable. Treatments for this situation include ice packs, rest, and over the counter anti-inflammatory pain relievers (such as Aleve or Advil).

In more severe cases, a physician may inject a corticosteroid into the inflamed sac. He or she may also use a needle to draw fluid out of the bursae, relieving pressure and quickly reducing pain. In very rare cases of persistent bursitis, surgical intervention may be necessary to remove the problematic bursa.

Part of bursitis treatment is giving the body enough rest to heal the inflamed bursae. Patients should be careful not to overuse the affected area. Immobilization is best, as is getting plenty of rest. After the swelling and pain have receded, patients should be careful in how they treat the problematic area to reduce the chances of the problem recurring.

Bursitis can be painful, but for most people the discomfort will fade with time and rest. If the pain lasts for more than a week or two, or if it becomes so intense that you cannot carry out your daily activities, consult with your doctor.

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To Stay Healthy this Fall and Winter? Wash Your Hands! The Simplest Way

To Stay Healthy this Fall and Winter? Wash Your Hands! The Simplest Way

As summer turns to fall, lots of people (children and adults alike) will be spending more time inside and in closer proximity to one-another. Washing your hands is something simple we can all do to keep our schools, workplaces and homes just a little bit healthier. In fact, it’s actually been identified by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as the single most effective way to prevent the spread of communicable diseases.

But researchers at Michigan State University recently found that only about 1 person in 20 actually washes his or her hands properly in even the most obvious hand washing scenario—after using a public restroom. According to a summary by writer Lindsay Abrams of the Atlantic:

“Of 3,749 people observed leaving the bathrooms, 66.9 percent used soap, while 10.3 percent didn’t wash their hands at all. The other 23 percent of people stopped at wetting their hands, in what the researchers, for some reason, call “attempted washing” (as if maybe those people just weren’t sure how to follow through). Although the researchers generously counted the combined time spent washing, rubbing, and rinsing, only 5.3 percent of people spent 15 seconds or longer doing so, thus fulfilling the requirements of proper handwashing. They average time spent was 6 seconds.

Why Hand Washing?

Bacterial and viral infections can be spread when the hands come into contact with infectious respiratory secretions and carry them elsewhere. This happens most often as a result of someone coughing, sneezing, shaking hands, or touching an object that has been in the proximity of a sick person and then touching the face—particularly the nose, mouth or eyes. This is one of the primary ways of transmitting the virus that causes the common cold.

Washing your hands after using the toilet or changing a diaper is of utmost importance, as the ingestion of even the smallest amount of fecal matter can cause serious illness from deadly pathogens such as E. coli, salmonella, giardiasis and hepatitis A, among others. You should also be particularly careful about washing your hands after touching garbage, handling animals or animal waste, visiting or caring for an ill person, or if your hands show visible dirt.

Those who handle food should routinely wash their hands, not only after using the toilet, but also after touching raw meat, fish or poultry, since the microbes present on uncooked food can cause gastrointestinal infections ranging from mild to severe or even life-threatening.

Perhaps those with the greatest need to wash their hands on a regular basis are healthcare workers. Because they’re constantly exposed to sick patients and patients with weakened immune systems, and since they frequently come into contact with contaminated surfaces, these professionals have a special responsibility. Before the importance of hand washing was widely understood within the healthcare community, millions of people became sick or died from infections passed along on the hands of their caregivers. During the 19th century, up to 25% of women died in childbirth from childbed fever (puerperal sepsis), a disease subsequently found to be caused by the bacteria Streptococcus pyogenes. After hand washing was introduced as a standard practice in the delivery room, the rate of death dropped to less than 1%.

It All Begins With Hand Awareness

Here are the “4 Principles of Hand Awareness”:

  1. Wash your hands when they are dirty and BEFORE eating
  2. DO NOT cough into your hands
  3. DO NOT sneeze into your hands
  4. Above all, DO NOT put your fingers into your eyes, nose or mouth

How to Wash Your Hands the Right Way

To wash your hands properly, you need only two things: soap and clean, running water. If these two things are not available, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that has a minimum 60% alcohol content.

Before washing your hands, remove all rings and other jewelry. Using running water, wet your hands thoroughly, then apply enough soap to work up a nice lather. Keeping your hands out of the water, rub them together, being sure to scrub both the front and backs of your hands, including your wrists, and also washing between the fingers and under the nails. Do this for 20 seconds, then rinse completely under the running water. Be sure to turn off the taps with a paper towel rather than your bare hand. According to the CDC, the whole process should take about as much time as singing “Happy Birthday” twice.

But What About Drying?

The Mayo Clinic recently published its own comprehensive review and analysis of every known hand washing-related study produced since 1970. Interestingly, their researchers found that drying hands was a key part of preventing the spread of bacteria. They also concluded that paper towels are better than blowers for this purpose. Here’s some of their reasoning:

  • Most people prefer paper towels to blowers, so they’re more likely to use them.
  • Blowers take too long, encouraging people to wipe their newly-cleaned hands on dirty pants or to skip the step altogether.
  • It takes less energy to manufacture a paper towel than it does to dry hands with a blower.
  • Blowers dry out the skin on your hands.
  • Blowers scatter bacteria three to six feet from the device.

As chiropractic physicians, we have a special interest in helping our patients (and non-patients, for that matter) avoid illness and injury. This means helping them develop healthy lifestyle habits—like regular hand washing—that prevent disease. We also work closely with them in areas like diet, exercise, sleep and stress management. If you’d like to learn more about what we can do to help you stay healthy and live your life to its fullest, please call or visit our office today!

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Kids and Weight Training: How Young is Too Young?

Kids and Weight Training: How Young is Too Young?

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Weight training has a number of benefits for adults, including increased bone density, muscle strength, and physical work capacity, but can it have the same benefits for kids? Most health and fitness experts say “Absolutely, yes!” However, there are a few important caveats. Strength training for kids can be very beneficial, but certain limitations should be kept in mind.

Weight Training vs. Power Lifting or Bodybuilding

Kids can increase their strength, stamina, coordination and overall health through supervised strength training. By “strength training”, we mean exercises that use controlled movements with proper technique and light resistance to build strength. This should not be confused with powerlifting or bodybuilding, which focus on lifting progressively heavier weights or using weights to “sculp” musculature. When kids lift heavy weights, it places too much strain on their still-developing muscles and joints, and puts them at high risk of injury. Children should stay away from heavy free weights until they hit puberty. Instead, they should focus on strength training with body weight exercises and resistance tubing.

How Young is Too Young for Weight Training?

There is no magical age at which a child is ready for weight training. Instead, it depends on each child’s ability to follow directions and practice enough to achieve proper form. This can happen as early as seven or eight in some kids, but not in all. If your child seems content just running and playing, games like tag and tug of war can be a fun way to build strength and endurance. However, if your child shows an interest in using strength training to grow stronger, and you believe they are mature enough to practice good technique, it can be safe and even beneficial to start an age-appropriate weight training program.

Safe Weight Training for Kids

If your child has a history of medical problems, it is wise to check in with their doctor before starting a program. When you get the okay, take some time to talk with a coach or personal trainer who has some experience in strength training for children to learn which techniques to use and which to avoid. When you and your child are ready to start training, start with body weight exercises and resistance bands. Focus on the importance of proper form rather than working with heavier weights. Be prepared to stick with your child throughout his or her training: supervision helps prevent injuries.

Strength training can help children become better at sports, maintain a healthy weight, and feel good about themselves. When done in the proper manner, it can be a safe and fun activity. If you and your child are interested in starting a weight training program, consider talking with a chiropractor beforehand. Your chiropractor can help you better understand how this sort of training will impact your child’s musculoskeletal growth and development, as well as advise you on the best ways to keep your child safe and injury-free while training. With the right perspective and support, weight training can be a beneficial and fun activity for just about any child!

Can Poor Posture Really Cause Back and Neck Pain?

Can Poor Posture Really Cause Back and Neck Pain?

back-pain-neck-pain-collage-200-300In a word, yes!

Unless your back or neck pain has been caused by some type of over-exertion or acute trauma, it’s actually very likely that poor posture is at least a contributing factor. The alignment of the spine—from the neck through the lower back and hips—is critical to the body’s ability to support its own weight and move efficiently, so posture problems (which are often chronic) can gradually lead to pain and reduced mobility.

When it comes to pain in your back or neck, the relationship between poor posture and injury can also be a complicated one. On the one hand, having poor posture makes it more likely that you will suffer an injury. On the other hand, suffering an injury can also affect your posture. Mary Ann Wilmarth, DPT, spokeswoman for the American Physical Therapy Association explains, “Little things add up. You can increase the pressure on your back by 50% simply by leaning over the sink incorrectly to brush your teeth. Keeping the right amount of curvature in the back takes pressure off the nerves and will reduce back pain.”

How posture problems contribute to neck pain

One of the most common posture problems is a “forward head and shoulder posture”. This occurs when someone “hunches over” and places their head in front of their neck. The weight of the head towards the front stresses the lower neck vertebrae, and leads to overworking of the upper back muscles to compensate for the pull of gravity on the head. Many people with this posture problem also have a rounded upper back and rounded shoulders, which can lead to further stress and shoulder pain. Often, poor desk and chair ergonomics contribute to these problems, but even slouching on the couch or at a table with your mobile phone can lead to hunching over.

How posture problems contribute to back pain

The “forward head” posture described above causes stress on the lower cervical vertebrae, which may end up sliding forward relative to each other as a result of gravity. This is a particular problem for people who have jobs requiring them to look forward or downwards all day. Eventually, the prolonged pressure on the cervical vertebrae will irritate the ligaments and soft tissues, radiating downwards to the upper back. This process can lead to disc degeneration, cervical osteoarthritis and herniated discs.

Tips for improving poor posture and relieving back and neck pain

Poor posture is typically the result of habits that have been developed over long periods of time performing the same activities over and over again. Here are just a few of the most common culprits:

  • Staring at computer monitors or mobile devices that are badly positioned.
  • Sitting in poorly designed office chairs.
  • Sleeping on mattresses that don’t provide the necessary support.
  • Carrying heavy backpacks or purses.

But how do you know which activities are contributing to your poor posture and causing you pain? The clues are usually fairly easy to spot once you know what you’re looking for. For instance, the pain in your neck or back may be worse at some times during the day than at others, or it may come and go with changes in your body position. If you experience fatigue or pain when you first wake up in the morning or after you’ve been sitting at your desk for a couple of hours, it might be time for a new mattress or new office furniture.

The good news is that once you become aware of the activities that are contributing to your posture problems and pain, most can be fixed relatively easily, with no need for either medication or surgery. Learn to recognize when you’re hunching over your computer, slouching in your chair or craning your neck to look at your mobile phone. Then sit up straight, aligning your hips, shoulders and ears in one vertical line.

Sometimes, however, the solution is not so simple—especially when poor posture has caused structural changes in the spine and neck. In these cases, a chiropractor can help by designing posture correction and spinal rehabilitation programs to restore the spine’s normal curvature. These programs will usually involve a combination of mechanical techniques that actively remodel the spine (including the use of braces and molding blocks), exercises and stretches that strengthen postural muscles and restore range of motion, and lifestyle changes to address the root causes.

As experts in diagnosing and treating musculoskeletal conditions, chiropractic physicians are specially trained to recognize and correct postural problems. If you’re suffering from neck or back pain and suspect that your posture may be at least partially to blame, call or visit our office today. We can help!

For High School Athletes, Sports-Related Back Pain Starts Early

For High School Athletes, Sports-Related Back Pain Starts Early

gridironPeople often assume that lower back pain (LBP) is just a problem just for the elderly, or for middle-aged adults who have a history of physical wear and tear. But this is simply untrue. The fact is that over 31 million Americans live with lower back pain on a regular basis, and a great number of them are adolescents.

Recent studies have indicated that many high school students who participate in sports programs are at high risk for developing lower back pain—and worse, few of them seek or receive proper chiropractic treatment. This is increasingly recognized as a legitimate public health concern: A 25-year-long study of adolescent risk factors for LBP, published in 2000, revealed that students who had lower back pain at age 14 were likelier to have back pain 25 years later than students who didn’t have LBP when they were teenagers. This study suggested that prevention of back pain in youth may contribute to the absence of back pain in adulthood.

14 years later, not much has changed. A recent study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine examined Finnish teenage athletes participating in a variety of sports. Researchers looked at the experience of 464 male and female athletes representing 22 basketball, floorball (a type of floor hockey popular in Nordic countries), ice hockey, and volleyball teams. They found that 255 athletes (55%) had experienced lower back pain in the past year. 51 players (11%) had suffered for longer than four weeks, and 80 (17.2%) had pain so severe that they had to miss training. However, only about 73 of them (29% of those with back pain) had received any medical attention for LBP.

Another study of 12,306 adolescent soccer players found that a significant percentage of them were likely to suffer injuries that cause lower back pain, resulting in the loss of 10,265 training days and—more importantly—putting them at higher risk for LBP as they age. The study also concluded that the likelihood of injury resulting in LBP increased dramatically if a young athlete received no medical attention, then returned to play before the injury had healed.

Parents of teenage athletes should weigh all of this information carefully if their son or daughter begins to complain of lower back pain. Don’t let them ignore it and go back to playing without having the condition treated. Remember—“walking it off” today could have longer-term health consequences that go beyond the discomfort or pain they’re feeling in the moment. Parents should also know that other studies have found chiropractic care to be the safest, most effective form of LBP treatment. Your chiropractor can help relieve your child’s pain today and help prevent a lifetime of lower back pain in the future, without drugs and without surgery. Call or visit our office today to learn more.

Reduce Joint Discomfort Through Weight Loss

Reduce Joint Discomfort Through Weight Loss

We want to share this great article with you! Every day our lives are influenced by the choices we make (or neglect to make) our attitudes and the care (or lack of) we choose to give ourselves.  There is no such thing as a person who cannot change – there is only such thing as a person who refuses to change or to believe that they can change.

If you have joint and weight issues – there is help. Eating healthy is not the same as eating cardboard. Our diet counseling program can help you make the transition from junk food to food that nurtures your body and your health. An added bonus is that you will lose weight at the same time! Give us a call at 652-3553 if you have decided you are ready to improve your life and your health!

Enjoy!:

You may not realize it, but with every step you take throughout your life, the pressure on your joints will be made worse if you’re carrying extra body weight. To carry even a single pound of extra body weight places added physical stress through the joints in your feet, ankles, knees, hips, and spine. The pressure is made worse if you’re walking up or down steps – and much worse when running.

The pressure on upper joints is just as bad. The spine has to support much of the body’s weight. Compression of intervertebral discs ensues, as does increased stress to the facet joints and to the supporting tissues of the spine.

So often medical doctors will mention that a patient should lose weight, then write a prescription for an anti-inflammatory. They know that most people will struggle to shed their excess pounds, so it’s much easier to medicate the condition rather than try to convince the patient that a lifestyle change is needed.

Joint arthrosis, known to most as arthritis, is stressful enough without adding the stress of losing weight to the equation. However, it’s very important to find ways to shed the extra pounds, because with each minute you have that extra weight on you, increased joint compression is adding to your discomfort. Lose weight successfully, and you’ll overcome much of your physical load in the body’s joints. You’ll then be more open to dietary change and exercise, as the discomfort in exercise will be lessened with less body weight, and your openness to a healthier diet shall follow. By losing just a few pounds, your joints will have a greater chance of recovery. The joint arthrosis will progress considerably slower, your joints will receive a better nutrient supply through production of more synovial fluid, and the articular cartilage will last much longer.

Your joints have well-formed cartilage at youth, but through wear and tear, the articular cartilage is jeopardized. The result can be compared to metal rubbing against metal, while the grease needed to lubricate the moving apparatus is worn away. With added weight combined with reduced cartilage, the jarring effect – through the knees in particular – becomes continually worse. The articular cartilage diminishes, leading to increased inflammation and discomfort.
Arthritis doesn’t tend to resolve itself, and generally gets worse simply through increased wear and tear. Weight loss doesn’t occur without some lifestyle changes, but it’s something that certainly doesn’t require drugs. It’s one aspect of control you can exert over the crippling effects of joint arthrosis. Take control, take action, lose weight… and reduce your joint discomfort.

by Corey Mote, DC

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(Dr. Corey Mote is a chiropractic physician, professional natural bodybuilder, exercise physiologist, columnist for various fitness magazines nationally and internationally, as well as a consultant for a United Kingdom-based vocational fitness program known as U-Phorm.)