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Chiropractic & Exercise: Perfect Fibromyalgia Treatment

Chiropractic & Exercise: Perfect Fibromyalgia Treatment

Anyone with a chronic pain condition like fibromyalgia knows it can be difficult to adhere to a complex set of treatment instructions: physical therapy, medications, creams, journals, the list goes on. We get busy or forget and sometimes don’t comply completely with the treatment, but sooner or later the pain creeps back in.  It turns out that regular chiropractic visits can actually help fibromyalgia patients adhere to long-term physical-therapy programs, thereby ensuring that patients receive the full benefits of exercise.

In a 2009 study, 55 women with fibromyalgia ages 21-59 years old were divided into two groups: some completed resistance training and the others received chiropractic adjustments in addition to doing resistance training.  Both groups improved significantly with increased upper and lower body strength, decreased pain and tender points, and an improved ability to perform everyday tasks. But the patients who received chiropractic care were more likely to follow the exercise program consistently. They also had more significant improvements in functionality, balance, flexibility, and endurance.

This study confirmed the power of exercise and resistance training to ease the pain of fibromyalgia. At the same time, it demonstrates that combining chiropractic adjustments and physical therapy may enhance the benefits of both treatments.

Panton LB, Figueroa A, Kingsley JD, et al. “Effects of resistance training and chiropractic treatment in women with fibromyalgia.” Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine 15.3 (2009): 321-328.

Unhealthy Lifestyle Linked to Headaches in Teens

Unhealthy Lifestyle Linked to Headaches in Teens

Most teens experience headaches at some point and many will suffer the debilitating impact of persistent headaches or migraines. Chronic headaches can prevent teens from engaging fully in school, work, and extracurricular activities. Yet little was known about what triggers headaches in teens until now.

A recent study indicated several lifestyle habits associated with migraine and tension headaches in teens. Researchers asked 1, 260 adolescents to fill out a survey on whether they had headaches and if so, the duration and type of headaches they experienced. Participants also responded to questions about their diet and lifestyle including:  their physical activity, consumption of alcoholic, nonalcoholic, and coffee beverages, eating patterns, and whether they smoked.

Nearly half of the teen surveyed had tension headaches, 10% had migraines, and 20% had a combination of the two.  A considerable amount of participants had unhealthy lifestyle habits like drinking, alcohol and skipping meals. However, 75% had never smoked and 43% didn’t drink coffee.

Researchers found that teens were more likely have migraines if they also drank alcohol, coffee, and/or had low levels of activity. Low physical activity was also associated with tension headaches. Teens that smoked were more likely to have a combination of tension and migraine headaches.

While the study indicates correlation rather than causation, the results do suggest strong links between unhealthy lifestyle and the presence of persistent headaches in adolescents. Researches recommended that further research be done to asses whether educational programs could influence teens’ behavior and experience with headaches. If you’re a teen with persistent headaches or someone you love is, consider consulting with a doctor of chiropractic about healthy lifestyle and nutritional choices that can prevent further pain.

Special Note: One of the best things you can do for headaches is see your chiropractor. Be sure to schedule an appointment with Dr. Oblander if you or your child are having frequent headaches! You can call our office at 406-652-3553.

Fiore, Kristina. “Diet and Lifestyle Linked to Headaches in Teens.” Medpage Today. June 7, 2010. Accessed October 26, 2011. http://www.medpagetoday.com/Neurology/Migraines/20521.

Milde-Busch A, et al “Associations of diet and lifestyle with headache in high-school students: results from a cross-sectional study” Headache 2010; DOI: 10.1111/j.1526-4610.2010.01706.x.

Article written by Michael Melton and shared from www.chironexus.net

How to Avoid Text Neck

How to Avoid Text Neck

Tips to Avoid "Text Neck"In this age of mobile devices and smartphones, more and more patients are being diagnosed with neck pain associated with looking down at a screen. Studies have shown that young people are at increased risk of back and neck pain due to overuse of devices. Now, a new condition, dubbed “text neck,” is being found in smartphone-users of all ages, resulting in serious stiffness, strain, and pain in the neck muscles and cervical spine.Americans send an average of around 2.19 trillion text messages every year, meaning that text neck has the potential of afflicting millions of people.

The condition is relatively new, and as Forbes reports in their article, How Texting Can Give You a Permanent Pain in the Neck, “It takes time…for a new condition to spread throughout the medical community. Some doctors who have never heard of text neck don’t think to ask patients with neck pain about their phone or computer habits.”

However, investigators of worker’s compensation claims are at the point that they look into the phone records of claimants with neck pain, and sometimes use their history of text messaging to get their compensation cases dismissed, attributing the neck pain to personal screen time rather than work.

There is no denying that a great number of people consider smartphones to be indispensable. And this overuse is causing what could be an epidemic of health problems into the future. A study published in the journal Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback found that an overwhelming majority of 83% of participants reported some hand and neck pain during texting. Researchers in this study also found that people sending texts displayed other classic signs of tension, such as increased heart rates and holding their breath. Even when they said they were relaxed, they had signs of tension.

If you text or play games on your smartphone, you know that it is easy to get into the habit of holding your head forward-and-down while typing on it. Another study conducted at the Center for Musculoskeletal Research found that 90% of people flexed their necks while texting, defined as bending the neck forward over 10 degrees past neutral alignment. In this study, it was discovered that the more texting that participants did, the worse their risk of neck or shoulder pain.

Especially susceptible to text neck are those of us who not only spend some of our leisure time on smartphones, but also spend much of our working time sitting at computers. All these hours spent in a flexed posture can add up to 30 pounds of extra weight on the upper vertebrae, straining the trapezius muscles and pulling the spine out of alignment over time.

Researchers are also finding that people over age 50 are more at risk of developing text neck. According to physical therapist Rob Worth, in an interview with Forbes, “People in their 50s and 60s have less tissue tolerance. Overuse injuries (like text neck) don’t heal as quickly.”

However, Worth said that young people are also at risk of permanent problems from text neck. He suggested that the stooped posture while typing on phones may freeze the position of the spine’s alignment, and years down the road, we may see people who are permanently stooped because of it.

If you suspect you have text neck, talk to your health-care provider. Your chiropractor or physical therapist can help you determine if you’re suffering from this ailment. These experts can also help design a treatment plan to relieve pain and regain range of motion, as well as advise you about preventing future injury. The following tips, summarized from the Forbes article, may help you avoid the risks of text neck:

  1. Hold your phone at a proper reading angle, rather than looking down. Your phone should be held directly in front of your mouth, a few inches across from your chin. Your eyes should look down rather than having to bend your neck down. Your shoulders should feel relaxed while you’re typing.
  2. Use a text-dictation program if you have one. Hold the phone in front of your mouth.
  3. Set a timer and take breaks. Avoid prolonged phone use by taking regular breaks where you put your phone down and do something else.
  4. Build strength and range of motion. In your workout routine, include exercises and stretches that strengthen your neck, back extensors, rhomboids, and latissimus dorsi muscles.
  5. Drink water and maintain hydration.
  6. Use other forms of communication. Try calling your family and friends or seeing them in person to chat.

When you have a case of text neck, be sure to come in and get your adjustment from Dr. Oblander. Don’t allow your neck issues to create lingering problems for you!

References

Quilter D. How texting can give you a permanent pain in the neck. Forbes June 7, 2013. www.forbes.com.

Lin IM, Peper E. Psychophysicological patterns during cell phone text messaging: a preliminary study. Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback March 2009; 34(1): 53-57.

Gold JE, Griban JB, et al. Postures, typing strategies, and gender differences in mobile device usage: an observational study. Applied Ergonomics March 2012; 43(2): 408-412.

Peper E. Improve health with fun movements: practices you can do at home and at work. The Peper Perspective blog; February 2, 2013.

Article shared from www.chironexus.net
Fear or Phobia: What’s the Difference?

Fear or Phobia: What’s the Difference?

frightened-woman

It’s normal to have fears. Fear is a useful emotion that keeps us from doing things that may be harmful or dangerous. Our species continues to exist today because our earlier ancestors had a healthy fear of certain types of predators, environments and situations. In the modern world, many of those primal fears have become much less relevant. Nevertheless, quite a few of us still have a lingering apprehension of spiders, snakes, darkness, heights or other things that we perceive to be dangerous. For most people, this instinctive fear is just quirky or uncomfortable—something we can usually avoid or overcome without too much effort. But what if this apprehension becomes all-encompassing and interferes with daily life? When this happens, you may be dealing with a phobia.

Psychologists define a fear as being “an emotional response to a real or perceived threat,” whereas, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, a phobia is “an extreme or irrational fear of or aversion to something.” Note the words extreme and irrational. A phobia keeps you from living your life as you normally would if the feared situation were not present. For example, you may become nervous or agitated in small or confined spaces and generally avoid taking the elevator. But if that fear is severe enough that it keeps you from taking your dream job because you’d need to use an elevator every day to get to your office, then you likely have a phobia (“claustrophobia”).

Symptoms of a phobia can be both mental and physical. In some cases, just thinking about the thing you fear can bring on the fight-or-flight response. Phobia symptoms often include general anxiety, trembling and feelings of nausea. Your heart may begin pounding and you may start sweating, feeling lightheaded, and breathing so quickly that you begin to hyperventilate. You may also feel an intense need to escape, feel like you are going to die, or fear losing control. Even though you may understand that your phobia is irrational, you still have no ability to stop it.

Not all phobias interfere with the everyday lives of people who have them. A phobia of snakes (called “ophidiophobia”), for example, probably won’t matter much to a city dweller unless he or she visits the reptile house at the zoo. However, a phobia of crowds (“enochlophobia,” “demophobia” or “ochlophobia”) could be a big problem on city streets or in the subway.  Other phobias can have a significant impact on anyone who has them. For about 3% of the population, their fear of doctors (“iatrophobia”) is so great that they avoid any form of healthcare whatsoever, including preventive care. Obviously, this can put their health and even their lives at risk.

If a phobia is affecting your day-to-day activities, then it may be time to seek professional help. Therapy for phobias has been shown to be remarkably effective, and you may also be able to use some self-help strategies on your own to combat the problem.

One of the best ways to begin conquering a phobia is to expose yourself to the thing you fear in a gradual, controlled manner. For example, if you have a phobia of spiders (“arachnophobia”), first look at a few pictures of spiders. Then watch a short video featuring spiders. When you are comfortable with that, perhaps visit a zoo and look at them through the glass. Relaxation techniques such as slow, deep breathing and meditation can help when you are confronting your fears. The more frequently you are exposed to the thing you fear without actually being harmed, the more quickly your phobia is likely to disappear. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you are going to become a fan of spiders, but at least you will have conquered the irrational part of your fear that gets in the way of you living your life.

 

Most Effective “Low Impact” Cardio Exercises

Most Effective “Low Impact” Cardio Exercises

Why “low impact” cardio exercises? Imagine reaching your “golden years” with a buff beach body only to be told that you can’t jog or run anymore because your knee cartilage has been worn thin or you have damaged vertebrae. The last thing you want to do is ruin your body while trying to stay in shape. Here we present some good low impact cardio exercises that can help you maintain a healthy cardiovascular system without causing damage to your musculoskeletal system.

Walking—This simple exercise places far less stress on the knees than jogging, running or pounding the stairs. If this sounds too boring, try changing your route. Explore different streets or roads. Also, you might take this to the next level and include hiking on trails or through the woods. Be sure to follow experts’ recommendations about hiking dos and don’ts. Add extra energy to your routine by swinging or rotating your arms to the sides. Involving your upper body as you walk can get your heart beating more vigorously.

Speed Walking—It’s impossible to do speed walking without involving the upper body. This is low-impact movement on rocket thrusters. The most efficient position is to keep your elbows bent at a 90-degree angle and be sure they remain close to your body. Be sure to stick to flat, smooth surfaces to reduce the chances of injury.

Cycling—For even less impact, take your bicycle out for a spin. If your bicycle is properly adjusted to your size, there should be no strain on your knees. You can cover far more territory, do more sightseeing and get lots of cardiovascular benefit.

Stairs—Walking up stairs is a powerful way to work your body. Don’t become impatient, though. You don’t want the walking to become jogging. That would turn your low impact routine into high impact. Make certain you softly plant each foot in turn on the next step and use the strength in your legs to push you upward.

Swimming—If you’re just starting an exercise program or returning after years of relative inactivity, swimming is an excellent low-impact exercise option. Taking to the pool can build up vast reservoirs of cardiovascular health because swimming can work the entire body, depending on the strokes you use.

Dancing—Take a dance class. Whether you’re into ballroom, tap, ballet or modern dance, you can get a low impact workout while having fun with others.

If you already suffer from thin cartilage, don’t let that stop you from exercising. One study did MRIs on 50–80 year olds, all healthy men. The results showed that more exercise led to thicker knee cartilage. The consensus was that exercise helped to repair cartilage deficiencies. Everything else being equal, the body is amazing in its ability to repair itself. And these low impact exercises can work wonders for your long-term cardiovascular health.

Remember that one of the best things you can do for your health is to also get adjusted regularly!

 

How Much Screen Time Should Kids Get?

How Much Screen Time Should Kids Get?

In life, it’s nearly always possible to have too much of a good thing, and moderation is usually the right common-sense prescription (no matter what the advertisers say). Screen time is no exception. But how much is too much? That’s the question many parents are asking…

There’s no doubt that a little bit of time watching TV, working on a computer, playing video games or using a tablet or smartphone can be useful. However, it’s also become increasingly clear that long, uninterrupted periods of screen time can cause real problems. This can be a result of the screen-watching activity itself as well as what’s NOT happening while an individual is focused on the screen. While there’s growing evidence that both adults and children are at risk, the rest of this article will focus on kids and what their parents need to know.

Most young children aren’t very good at moderating their behavior or setting their own limits. This means that it’s ultimately an adult’s responsibility to do it for them until they can exercise their own good judgment. And this is true EVEN THOUGH IT TAKES TIME AND EFFORT FROM THE ADULT AND IS OFTEN INCONVENIENT. As tempting as it may be to use devices with screens as electronic “babysitters” to free up your own time, being a parent or caregiver means keeping the child’s needs in mind, too.

Following is a brief summary of the most-widely circulated guidelines for children’s screen time (entertainment-oriented use of electronics), based on recommendations made by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Under 2 years—No screen time

2–5 years—One hour of preschool TV, but no computer time

5–8 years—One hour

Over 8 years—Two hours

The first couple of years are particularly critical for a child. This is the time when a baby’s brain goes through the most rapid growth and development. Children need to explore and to engage with their broader environment. When these opportunities are limited or “crowded out” in favor of engaging with electronic devices, their cognitive and social development may be altered in negative ways we don’t yet understand. At the same time, researchers have not been able to establish that screen time of any sort (regardless of the media) has any real benefit for very young children. This is why the American Academy of Pediatrics believes that infants younger than two years shouldn’t have any screen time. Media companies and advertisers of infant-oriented products may tell you otherwise, but their interests are probably not the same as yours when it comes to the best interests of your child.

Many of your child’s most basic preferences and habits are developing between the ages of 2 and 5. Simply put, the prevailing wisdom is that electronic babysitters offer no substitute for the physical activity and social interaction kids need at this age. In fact, to the extent that they encourage inactive, solitary play, they may actually pose real health risks on several fronts.  For instance, if your child is sedentary, he or she may have an increased risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease later on, and may be slower to develop physical skills. If he or she doesn’t have regular social interaction with other adults and children, emotional problems and depression may be more likely.

By challenging your young children with a broad range of physical, intellectual and social activities, you offer them a developmental advantage. While media may have a place in the mix, experts agree that it should be a small one. Television specifically geared to preschoolers (think Sesame Street) can help expand your child’s awareness of learning concepts, but it shouldn’t be occupy more than an hour a day.

Between 5 and 8 years old, children can handle a little bit of screen time without it jeopardizing their development. Just be sure to set firm limits and encourage them to spend at least some of their screen time doing things that will enhance learning and hand-eye coordination.

As your children grow older, teaching them to live within certain sensible limits (in this case, by regulating screen time) and explaining why these limits exist can help them begin to look out for their own health and develop their own sense of self-discipline. Life lessons like these have value in and of themselves. So while your kids may not appreciate your efforts to restrict their use of electronic media, there can be very real longer-term benefits for your kids and for your family as a whole. It’s worth the effort!

 

How to Make New Habits “Stick”

How to Make New Habits “Stick”

Forming new habits can be just as difficult as breaking old ones. But when you stop to think about it for a moment, it is clear that all of our habits, both positive and negative, had a beginning—a time BEFORE the behavior became a clear, recognizable pattern. In other words, there was a time when your current habits weren’t yet habits at all!

So how do new habits actually form? And is there a way for us to develop POSITIVE new habits in a focused, deliberate way? We call this “making new habits ‘stick’”.

Like anything we learn, our first attempts at any new skill are usually halting and inconsistent. But slowly it becomes second nature until we can’t remember a time when we found the behavior unusual, uncomfortable or challenging. Once we’ve learned how to do something and turned that something into a recurring pattern of behavior, it’s “like riding a bicycle,” as the saying goes…

New York Times investigative reporter Charles Duhigg became something of an expert on the science of habit formation and change. He read hundreds of studies and interviewed the scientists who conducted them to discover the mechanisms behind habit formation, and wrote a book on the subject, “The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business.”

Duhigg has described a self-reinforcing process he calls the “Habit Loop”. Based on his interpretation of neurological studies, Duhigg believes that every habit has three components: “a cuea trigger for a particular behavior; a routine, which is the behavior itself; and a reward, which is how your brain decides whether to remember a habit for the future.” For example, let’s say you want to stop being admonished by your dentist for not flossing regularly. First you put the dental floss right next to the toothpaste, so you can’t miss it (the cue). Then every time you go to brush your teeth (the routine) you floss because it’s right there in front of you. Finally, when you go to the dentist, he or she praises you for flossing regularly (the reward).

Establishing a new habit takes most people about 30 days, although it can frequently take twice that. You can improve your chances of success if you’re able to do a little advance planning. For instance, imagine you want to develop a habit of going to the gym every day. First, start small. For the first month, plan on going to the gym three days a week for 30 minutes each. Plan your workouts for days and times that are least likely to have things such as work or childcare interfere with your gym schedule. It can also help to enlist a buddy who has similar goals to join you so you can reinforce each other’s commitment. Then figure out a reward to give yourself for each completed workout, such as going out for a drink afterward with your workout buddy or enjoying a little Ben and Jerry’s, guilt-free. You can also give yourself some long-term rewards to envision, such as looking good in a bikini on the Caribbean beach you plan to visit next summer. If you can stick with it regularly for a month, there’s a good chance it will become part of your weekly ritual and you will soon crave your workouts. You can then gradually build up to more days. In three months, you may find that if you have to skip a workout you actually MISS it! Something’s just not right…

Duhigg says “If you can identify the right cue and reward—and if you can create a sense of craving—you can establish almost any habit.”

What Are “Manual Therapies” and How Are They Used?

What Are “Manual Therapies” and How Are They Used?

Manual therapies have been used to treat musculoskeletal disorders for thousands of years. Practitioners around the world—in countries with many different cultural influences and diverse medical traditions—have used their hands to manipulate various parts of the body to stimulate healing. “Manual” literally means “by hand.” Thus, manual therapies consist of healing techniques that use the hands. There are more than two dozen techniques used worldwide. Among the most commonly known are acupressure, chiropractic, massage therapy, physiotherapy, reflexology, Rolfing and shiatsu.

There are also dozens of other, lesser-known manual therapies, including the Bowen technique, cranio-sacral therapy, the Dorn method, manual lymphatic drainage, muscle energy technique, myofascial release, myotherapy, naprapathy and zero balancing. We examine the most common therapies here:

Acupressure

Using the hand, the elbow or various devices, an acupressure practitioner applies a light force on various parts of the body following the patterns found in traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture. More than half of the scientific studies on acupressure showed that this technique was effective, but some critics have claimed “a significant likelihood of bias.”

Chiropractic

Most chiropractic work involves manipulation of the spine to achieve better vertebral alignment. Lower back pain is perhaps the primary complaint which leads patients to a chiropractor. Chiropractors are expert at treating musculoskeletal conditions without the use of drugs or surgery. Among others, many top athletes swear by their chiropractor’s hands to keep them performing at their best and help them avoid injuries.

Massage Therapy

This is perhaps the oldest of the manual therapies. Massage was (and still is) used in ancient Egypt, China, Mesopotamia, and other parts of the world that gave rise to early civilizations. Massage practitioners chiefly use their hands, but also other parts of their body to apply pressure, rolling motions and other techniques to muscles and joints, to stimulate circulation and relax the patient. In today’s high-stress world, massage is proving ever more popular.

Physiotherapy

Physiotherapy has been used for years as standard treatment for patients suffering from musculoskeletal conditions. A physical therapist uses a variety of techniques to help their patients regain function—particularly mobility. Repetitive, assisted motion can help the patient strengthen muscles that have been damaged through injury or disease. Assisting the patient in the performance of targeted exercises can help a patient regain greater range of motion.

Reflexology

A trained reflexologist applies pressure to various parts of the feet, hands or ears to stimulate organs within the body associated with the part to which pressure is being applied. It is a Chinese therapy with a philosophy that is similar to acupuncture—using points on the body to restore energy flow. Although there is not yet much scientific evidence to support its effectiveness, anecdotal evidence shows that patients are happier and more relaxed after treatment.

Rolfing Structural Integration

Rolfing specifically targets the body’s connective tissue to release tension, realign and balance the body. Rolfing techniques involve deep-tissue massage to achieve therapeutic benefits such as better posture and greater freedom of movement, including reducing stress and relieving pain.

Shiatsu

A traditional Japanese therapy, the term Shiatsu means “finger pressure,” but can include palm pressure and other approaches to massage. A Shiatsu practitioner uses touch, comfortable pressure and manipulative techniques on specific points of the body (similar to the meridians of Traditional Chinese Medicine) to adjust the body’s physical structure and balance its energy flow. Anecdotal evidence shows it to relieve patients of stress, nausea, muscle pain, depression and anxiety.