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Why Teens Shouldn’t Rely on Painkillers

Why Teens Shouldn’t Rely on Painkillers

It seems as if you can’t check the news without finding at least one story of a life being lost to drugs. What is perhaps most concerning is that, all too often, the person who succumbed tragically for drug-related reasons is fairly young. And, a study released in the journal Addiction found that opioids — or narcotic painkillers like Vicadin, oxycodone, codeine, and morphine — are largely to blame.

The study shows that there were almost 6,000 opioid-related deaths in Onatario, Canada alone,  between 1991 to the end in 2010.  That represented a 242% increase from the beginning of the study. Overall, 25-34 year olds accounted for one in eight deaths. But it’s not just Ontario that has this problem: The CDC says that opioid-related deaths have more than tripled in the US since 1990, and younger patients aren’t immune.

What Is Causing This Trend?

Certainly, the issue of drug use is multi-faceted and cannot be isolated to just one cause, but it would be remiss to not consider that one possible contributor is the rise in the number of prescriptions being given to our youth. For instance, a previous study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health highlights the fact that out of 8,000 adolescents who sought medical treatment for headaches, opioid prescriptions were given approximately 46% of the time. That’s not the worst of it.

In 48% of the cases, the teens who presented with head-related pain were given two different opioids to manage their pain and 29% of the adolescents got three prescriptions or more. Rather than prescribe these highly-addictive painkillers, why not treat teens with a drug-free solution first?

Chiropractic is a great natural remedy for headache,  back, neck, and leg pain, amongst the several other benefits it offers. Not only does it actually take care of the problem, but it also reduces exposure to drugs at an early age.

References

Gomes T, et al. The burden of premature opioid-related mortality. Addiction. July 7, 2014.

DeVries A, et al. Opioid Use Among Adolescent Patients Treated for Headache. Journal of Adolescent Health. February 26, 2014.

 

Why teens should sit up straight

Why teens should sit up straight

How many times did you hear, “Sit up straight!” as a child? How many times have you said this to your own child? There’s  a reason behind that famous advice: poor posture early in life may lead to a number of back problems and pain later on. That’s why researchers conducted a study to better understand slouching in adolescents.

Researchers had 1,5092 adolescents complete questionnaires about their lifestyle and experience with back pain. Their sitting posture,  body mass index (BMI), and back-muscle endurance were also measured. Researchers discovered that boys were much more likely than girls to slouch. Watching TV, having a higher BMI, and having lower self-efficacy also increased a teen’s likelihood of slouching.

Teens who slouched also tended to have lower back-muscle endurance and non-neutral standing position. Some teens noticed their back pain increased while sitting, and those teens often had poorer scores on a child-behavior test.

These findings suggest that whether or not a child slouches isn’t simply about whether they remember to sit up straight. Encouraging healthy lifestyle habits and a strong self-esteem could also play a big role in helping your teen develop good posture. A doctor of chiropractic can evaluate your child’s sitting and standing posture to help them avoid future back pain.

O’Sullivan PB, Smith AJ, Beales DJ, Straker LM. “Association of Biopsychosocial Factors With Degree of Slump in Sitting Posture and Self-Report of Back Pain in Adolescents: A Cross-Sectional Study.” Physical Therapy 91.4 (2011): 470-83.

Auto Accident Folklore—Being Thrown Clear and Bracing for Impact

Auto Accident Folklore—Being Thrown Clear and Bracing for Impact

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You have no doubt overheard someone at work or at a party telling his friends that he never wears a seat belt—and that he has some really good reasons.  The story usually goes something like this:  He heard from a buddy he knows that a friend of a friend who was not wearing a seat belt had a bad car accident and walked away from it because he was thrown clear of the car.  This is one of the most pervasive car safety myths out there. And if you believe this myth, you could be setting yourself up for serious injury or death.

Although there are a small handful of cases in which someone has survived a car accident after being thrown from the car, this is a very rare occurrence.  In fact, you actually have a 25 percent greater chance of being killed if thrown from the car.  Just consider the physics of the situation.  The force applied to your body when a collision occurs can be strong enough to propel you 150 feet, which is equivalent to about 15 car lengths.  And you would not just be flying gracefully through the air either.  First, your body may go crashing through the windshield, it may scrape along the rough asphalt for yards, and then you could end up getting crushed by your own car or someone else’s.  This is not to mention the other objects you may be hurled into when flung from the car.  Statistics from a study performed by researchers at James Madison University show that the proper use of a seat belt reduces serious injuries from traffic accidents by 50 percent and fatalities by 60 to 70 percent.  It’s a simple thing that can protect your health and save your life—wear seat belts.

Another common myth is that bracing for impact causes more damage to your body, and that it’s best to remain relaxed.  Of course, actually having the ability to choose one way or another about bracing has a lot to do with how much time you have before impact.   Many accidents occur in the blink of an eye, so suggesting that someone should “stay relaxed” has really limited practical value.  However, the most current science indicates that if you have time, bracing for impact will likely reduce the amount of injury, particularly to tendons and ligaments.

One of the most common types of injury from an auto accident is whiplash, which occurs in about a third of all collisions.  If you see a car approaching in your rear view mirror that you believe is going to collide with yours, the best thing to do is to press your body against the seatback, with your head pressed firmly against the head rest. This way you are less likely to suffer injuries to the ligaments in your neck, as your head will not be slammed back against the head rest, then flung forward.

Auto accidents are never pleasant, but by knowing the facts about auto safety you can help reduce your chances of sustaining a serious injury.  If you do end up in an accident, it’s always a good idea to get a medical evaluation promptly, even if you think you haven’t suffered any significant injuries.  Many auto injuries take time for their symptoms to become apparent or significant enough for victims to recognize how badly they may have been hurt.  By the time the symptoms are obvious, the victim and his or her doctor may have lost a valuable opportunity to treat the underlying injuries.  Please call or visit the office if you or someone in your family has recently been involved in an auto accident.

Spotlight on Massage and Lower Back Pain

Spotlight on Massage and Lower Back Pain

According to the National Institutes of Health, lower back pain is the second most common form of chronic pain after headaches. Experts estimate that approximately 80% of Americans will seek help for low back pain at some point during their lives. Public health officials and insurers estimate that Americans spend $50 billion each year on treatments that are often ineffective. The standard treatment for lower back pain is to take muscle relaxants, painkillers or anti-inflammatory medications, along with physical therapy and back exercises. However, few medical interventions relieve pain reliably, and continuing to take painkillers on a long-term basis is not advised. Massage, on the other hand, has been found to be an effective way of dealing with back pain on a regular basis.

Treatment for lower back pain accounts for approximately a third of all visits to a massage therapist. A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that patients suffering from lower back pain of unknown origin were helped more by massage than by conventional medical treatment. Of 401 total study participants, 133 received traditional medical care with no massage, 132 received structural massage (which addresses particular muscular and skeletal structures that cause pain) and 36 received relaxation massage (a general form of massage, such as Swedish, intended for overall relaxation).

Participants in the massage groups received one hour-long massage once a week for 10 weeks. All participants completed a questionnaire at the beginning of the study, then again at 10 weeks, 24 weeks and a year after the beginning of the study to report on their perceived pain. Both kinds of massage groups reported greater pain relief and ease of motion after 10 weeks of treatment than the medical group.

An average of 37% of the patients in the massage groups reported that their pain was almost or completely gone, while only 4% of the usual care group reported similar results. This was also the case at 26 weeks. However, at the one-year mark, the benefits to all groups were about equal. The type of massage used did not seem to matter, with both massage groups experiencing comparable levels of pain relief. The massage groups were less likely to report having used medication for their back pain after the 10 weeks of intervention, and they also reported having spent fewer days in bed and had lost fewer days of work or school than those in the usual care group.

Dr. Richard A. Deyo, professor of family medicine at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland says of the study, “I think this trial is good news in the sense that it suggests that massage is a useful option that helps some substantial fraction of these patients. Like in most other treatments, this is not a slam dunk, and it’s not like a cure, but it’s something that seems to offer a significant benefit for a substantial number of patients.” Deyo sees massage as a way of people being able to break out of the pain-inactivity cycle. He notes, “I don’t see massage as the final solution, I see it as maybe a helpful step toward getting people more active.”

As always, chiropractic care shows the greatest success in the treatment of all types of back pain. We have found that chiropractic care combined with massage can be a very effective option for many of our patients. If you are currently experiencing back pain, be sure to call our office to schedule an appointment with Dr. Oblander. 406-652-3553

 

Preventing Sciatica

Preventing Sciatica

Learning the risk factors of sciatica can help you minimize your risk of developing it. A recent study sheds light onto what makes you more likely to develop sciatica.

The study evaluated 5261 participants aged 40-60. Researchers collected data on participants’ occupational class, physical and psychosocial working conditions, body mass index, smoking, leisure-time physical activity, and history of neck and back pain.

Risk factors for sciatica varied based on gender. Women were more likely to have sciatica if they worked in manual occupational class, were overweight, smoked, lived a sedentary lifestyle, and had previous neck and back pain. Among men participants, those employed in semi-professional and manual occupational classes had higher risk levels. Researchers concluded that occupational class, unhealthy lifestyle and a personal history of back and neck pain made patients more likely to develop sciatica.

Chiropractors have been successfully treating sciatica patients for years. If you are having sciatic pain, be sure to call our office to schedule an appointment with Dr. Oblander to assess your risk factors for sciatica and/or receiving effective treatment.

Kaaria S, Leino-Arjas P, Rahkonen O, Lahti J, Lahelma E, Laaksonen M. Risk factors of sciatic pain: A prospective study among middle-aged employees. European Journal of Pain. 2010 Dec 14.

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Risk Factors for Spinal Degeneration

Risk Factors for Spinal Degeneration

As we age, the discs in our spine start to naturally break down due to normal, everyday living . This is commonly referred to as disc degeneration and can result in pain in the neck and/or back area–pain that is felt by almost half of the population 40 years of age or older . For those over 80, this rate doubles to a whopping 80 percent, which makes understanding what factors promote this particular condition critical to raising the quality of life as we enter our later years. Fortunately, recent research provides some very important information in this area.

Disc Degeneration Risk Factors Revealed In Recent Study

On November 9, 2015, a study conducted by health experts from Mie University Graduate School of Medicine in Japan, Osaka University (also in Japan), and Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, Illinois was published in BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders. In this research, these experts followed 197 individuals living in Miyagawa, Japan who were over the age of 65 for a 10-year period, measuring their disc height at two year intervals to determine what factors, if any, contributed to their spinal discs degenerating at a faster rate.

What they discovered was that, over the time span of the study, the participants’ disc height gradually reduced an average of 5.8 percent, with roughly 55 percent experiencing degeneration in one or two of their discs. Furthermore, there were three factors that they identified that increased the likelihood of disc degeneration. They were: 1) being female, 2) having radiographic knee osteoarthritis, and 3) the presence of low back pain when the study began.

Based on these results, women should take extra care to protect the discs in their spinal column, potentially saving themselves from experiencing neck or back pain later in life. Some options for doing this include maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding repeated lifting of heavy objects, and not smoking as studies have found that smokers tend to experience disc degeneration at greater rates than non-smokers . Chiropractic can help with the other two factors.

For instance, in one study published in The Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association, researchers looked at 43 different individuals between the ages of 47 and 70 who were experiencing osteoarthritic knee pain. Some participants received treatment three times a week for two weeks and others served as a control. The subjects who engaged in treatment reported more positive results than those who did not, citing that, after the treatments they experienced fewer osteoarthritic symptoms, had greater knee mobility, and felt that it was easier to “perform general activities.” And this was after just two weeks of care.

Chiropractic can also help lower back pain, further reducing the likelihood that your discs will degenerate at a faster rate when you age. That makes this specific remedy beneficial both now and well into the future–ultimately raising your quality of life. If you need to see Dr. Oblander for an adjustment, please be sure to give our office a call at 406-652-3553!

 

 

  • Akeda K, Yamada T, Inoue N, et al. Risk factors for lumbar intervertebral disc height narrowing: a population-based longitudinal study in the elderly. BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2015;16(1):344.
  • Fogelholm RR, Alho AV. Smoking and intervertebral disc degeneration. Medical Hypotheses; 56(4):537-9.
  • Pollard H, Ward G, Hoskins W, Hardy K. The effect of a manual therapy knee protocol on osteoarthritic knee pain: a randomised controlled trial. Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Associations 2008;52(4):229-42.

 

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“Exercise” Versus “Lifestyle Activity”: How Active Are You—Really?

“Exercise” Versus “Lifestyle Activity”: How Active Are You—Really?

If you are like most people, working out just for the sake of working out does not really appeal (although there are many dedicated gym buffs who couldn’t live without their daily workouts!). We all know that it’s important to exercise regularly if we want to live a long and healthy life. However, if you find the idea of trotting along on a treadmill for 15 minutes and then spending half an hour of working out on Nautilus machines to be about as exciting as a trip to the dentist, then this article is for you!

Experts recommend that we get at least 150 minutes of exercise each week to stay in shape. But many people find taking this much exercise at once (or in three 50-minute stretches) too daunting. The good news is that a recent study conducted by researchers at Boston University that was published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise found that bouts of exercise lasting less than 10 minutes a couple of times daily, such as the kind you get when cleaning the house, were sufficient to meet your weekly exercise needs.

Over 2,000 participants were included in the study, more than half of whom were overweight. Motion detectors were attached to each of the subjects for eight days, and an average of half the participants met their weekly exercise quota of 150 minutes. The average participant met his or her quota with exercise that lasted less than 10 minutes at a time. The types of exercise ranged from moderate (heavy cleaning, walking briskly and sports such as golf and badminton) to vigorous (running, hiking, shoveling and farm work).

As long as the participants met their 150-minute per week quota, no matter the length of their exercise, they had lower body mass index, smaller waists, lower triglycerides and better cholesterol levels than those who did not meet the quota. Assistant professor at Boston University’s School of Medicine, Nicole Glazer, says “But this study really speaks to the idea that some activity is better than nothing. Parking a little bit farther away, getting off the bus one stop early—all of these little things can add up and are related to a healthier profile.”

For years, researchers have studied the effects of exercise from practicing sports or visiting the gym. However, according to Glazer, “This idea of lifestyle activity is one that is under-measured in research studies.” Activities such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator, using a push mower instead of a riding mower, etc. can add up to a significant amount of energy expenditure. Experts still stress that it’s important to also get in some traditional forms of exercise and not merely replace it with lifestyle activity. Still, any exercise is useful.

“The levels of sedentary behavior in this country are alarming. So the concern that someone’s going to stop exercising and instead just get off the bus a stop earlier, that’s not my concern,” Glazer says. “The real concern is, is this a stepping-stone? Is this the way we can get inactive people to do any sort of activity? People will come up with any excuse to not exercise. I don’t need to worry about my giving them one. They’ll be able to think of something.”

Remember Dr. Oblander’s adage: If you don’t use it, you will lose it! Make sure that you figure out a way to move and remain active…no matter what your age is or your athletic ability!

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Chiropractic Safer than Medical Care for Elderly

Chiropractic Safer than Medical Care for Elderly

Many studies have found that chiropractic care is a safe and effective treatment method when dealing with a number of spine-related issues. The American Chiropractic Association even lists a number of research studies on their website that show that it is a valuable treatment method for easing (and sometimes completely resolving) back pain, neck pain, headaches, and more.

While all of this is good news for professionals that practice in the chiropractic field, some researchers wondered if chiropractic was just as safe for elderly patients as it is for younger patients experiencing these types of problems. So, they set out to find the answer, which they did via a retrospective cohort study funded by NIH and the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, and also which was subsequently printed in Spine upon its completion.

What researchers wanted to discover was whether the relationship between the risk of injury to people 66 years old and older when engaging in chiropractic care was higher than, lower than, or equal to the risk of injury to this same age group after undergoing medical care by their primary care physician. To find their answer, they studied data on Medicare B patients who went to the doctor in 2007 for a neuromusculoskeletal issue, evaluating their risk of injury seven days post-treatment.

They discovered that seniors that received chiropractic care had a 76% lower rate of injury within seven days of treatment when compared to the subjects that met with their primary physician as a result of a neuromusculoskeletal complaint. Researchers also pointed out that they found that males contained within the research group, older study participants, and those with a higher Charlson co-morbidity score were most at risk of injury within the week after acquiring a neuromusculoskeletal issue.

Additionally, certain medical conditions raised the risk of injury, even after chiropractic care. Therefore, chiropractic professionals should consider whether treatment via spinal manipulation is best for “patients with coagulation defects, inflammatory spondylopathy, osteoporosis, aortic aneurysm & dissection, or [those who have engaged in] long term use of anticoagulant therapy” as the increased risk may not be worth the benefits.

Whedon JM, Mackenzie TA, Phillips RB, Lurie JD. Risk of traumatic injury associated with chiropractic spinal manipulation. Spine 2014;Dec 9.

Why Chiropractic is Superior for Musculoskeletal Pain

Why Chiropractic is Superior for Musculoskeletal Pain

Countless studies have demonstrated that chiropractic care is a safe and effective way to treat musculoskeletal complaints like back pain, neck pain, or sciatica. Now a new study from Switzerland has looked at the relative benefits of chiropractic compared to medical care for the most common types of pain issues.

In this study, the authors examined data from people who reported spinal, hip, or shoulder pain. 403 patients saw a medical doctor for relief; 316 people saw a chiropractor. Four months after treatment, the patients were asked to fill out a survey reporting on their recovery.

The authors found that:

  • “Patients initially consulting MDs had significantly less reduction in their numerical pain rating score…”
  • Patients who saw MDs  were significantly less satisfied with the care they received and the outcome of that care.
  • Patients who saw a chiropractor had significantly lower healthcare costs for their treatment.

The authors conclude that patients should first be sent to a chiropractor for musculoskeletal problems, rather than a medical doctor:

“The findings of this study support first-contact care provided by DCs as an alternative to first-contact care provided by MDs for a select number of musculoskeletal conditions. Restrictive models of care in which patients are required to contact a medical provider before consulting a chiropractic provider may be counterproductive for patients experiencing the musculoskeletal conditions investigated and possibly others. In addition to potentially reducing health care costs, direct access to chiropractic care may ease the workload on MDs, particularly in areas with poor medical coverage and hence enabling them to focus on complex cases. The minority of patients with complex health problems initially consulting a chiropractic provider would be referred to, or comanaged with, a medical provider to provide optimal care.”

Houweling TAW, Braga AV, Hausheer T, et al. First-Contact Care With a Medical vs Chiropractic Provider After Consultation With a Swiss Telemedicine Provider: Comparison of Outcomes, Patient Satisfaction, and Health Care Costs in Spinal, Hip, and Shoulder Pain Patients. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics 2015;38(7):477-83.

Why Chiropractic is the Best Solution for Sciatica Pain

Why Chiropractic is the Best Solution for Sciatica Pain

Sciatica pain is often so debilitating that it forces people to miss work and other normal activities.  Of all patients with low-back pain, sciatica patients have the highest level of disability (1).  In fact, patients with sciatica are disabled for an average of 72 days according to Norwegian public-health records.

Fortunately, a recent study offers hope to sciatica patients: chiropractic care can speed the recovery from sciatica flare ups and allow patients to return to work sooner (2). The study evaluated 44 Norwegian workers after they came to the hospital with severe sciatica pain. Most of those patients had been experiencing pain for three or more weeks prior to their hospital visit.

The hospital chiropractor examined each patient to evaluate his/her posture and gait, range of motion, and palpation of the lumbar spine. The chiropractic then performed various joint adjustments to the spine and other limbs that had been injured through patients compensating for pain. Ice treatment was also used to relieve soft tissue soreness.Patients were treated daily in the hospital and later three times a week for the first two weeks. Some patients needed additional follow-up treatment but typically did not exceed 14 treatments.

In matter of 21 days, 91% of patients returned to work full-time. Two patients returned to work part time. Researchers concluded this study demonstrates the potent benefits of collaboration between chiropractors and orthopedic surgeons. Chiropractic care can put an end to your sciatica pain so you can begin living your life fully again.

  1. Arana E, Marti-Bonmati L, Vega M, et al. Relationship between low back pain, disability, MR imaging findings and health care provider. Skeletal Radiology 2006;35(9):641-7.
  2. Orlin JR, Didriksen A. Results of chiropractic treatment of lumbopelvic fixation in 44 patients admitted to an orthopedic department. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics 2007;30:135-139.
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