We hope you will watch this video. The work of Dr. Masaru Emoto is a vibrant reminder of the influence that our thoughts and the kind of music we surround ourselves with has on our health and well-being. Remember…our bodies are largely made up of water!
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.
- 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.
- 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.
We recently posted about standing desks. For those of you who are looking for some good information on standing desks, today we are sharing a review on some standing desks. Standing desks are a great option where they are allowed! Standing desks can be of great benefit by allowing greater circulation while you are working at your desk! Wonderful for those of us who spend a considerable amount of time sitting at a desk!
Here’s the link to the review: http://www.reviews.com/standing-desk/
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:
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.”
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
Muscle tension occurs when a muscle (or group of muscles) remains contracted for an extended period of time. This might be characterized as a low-energy or low-intensity muscle cramp. Such tension in the muscles constricts blood flow, which in turn keeps oxygen and nutrients from reaching the muscle tissues and tendons. Muscle tension also keeps cellular waste from being carried away. The result is more muscle tension, spasms and damage. Why does this happen? There are actually several possible causes.
One key source of muscle tension is stress or anxiety. For our ancient ancestors, stress was a simple fact of everyday life, and their ability to response effectively to imminent threats (predators, hostile neighbors, natural disasters, etc.) was an integral part of their survival. As a result, their bodies evolved a set of short-term physiological changes that helped them to meet sudden life-and-death challenges by increasing their alertness, strength, speed and stamina. Today, we refer to these changes collectively as the “fight-or-flight” response, and they’re part of our evolutionary inheritance.
Unfortunately, there is now a kind of mismatch between the kinds of modern threats (real or perceived) that most of us encounter in our day-to-day lives and our bodies’ primitive fight-or-flight response. Instead of short-term physical dangers, modern stress is much more likely to come from social or financial pressures that are (usually) lower-intensity but more prolonged. Mounting bills, insane work deadlines and relationship problems are all great examples. This is a problem because our fight-or-flight response was really designed to be “switched on” only for very short periods of time—essentially, just as long as it took us to either defend ourselves or escape from a physical attack. It turns out that the human body pays a high price for the fight-or-flight response, and this price is especially high when the response is activated continuously over long periods of time, even at relatively low levels. Chronic muscle tension is just one potential result.
Muscle tension can also be the result of underlying structural problems or injuries affecting the musculoskeletal system, especially in the back or neck. When the spine is misaligned or there is an injury, the body may compensate by activating other muscles or muscle groups to stabilize the area and prevent pain. These muscles are put under additional strain for which they were not designed, leading to chronic muscle tension.
Chronic muscle tension itself can lead to new kinds of discomfort and pain. The pain can lead to an increase in anxiety and more muscle tension. This becomes a vicious cycle—an unhealthy, downward spiral. Luckily, there are a number of different ways to relieve muscle tension.
One of the best ways to relax your muscles is to exercise. This may seem counterintuitive at first, but muscle use increases blood flow and, accordingly, reduces the tension caused directly from lack of such blood flow. Exercise also produces endorphins which help to relieve stress and anxiety.
Heat is another method of relief. It can help by opening up blood vessels and relaxing the tense muscles. Use care when applying a hot pack. With heat, you can do too much of a good thing. Use a cloth between the pack and the skin so the heat remains measured and soothing. If you use an electrical heating pad, do not lie on the pad, but lay the pad on the tense muscles.
Water therapy can also help reduce muscle tension. Floating in a swimming pool or on a waterbed can prove to be extremely therapeutic because of the relaxing nature of wave action on the body.
Of course, a massage therapist is an expert at helping muscles relax. A truly good therapist can adapt his or her technique to your specific situation and will be skilled at gradually building up the intensity of the massage so that you’ll receive all the therapeutic benefit without losing the relaxation benefit.
Remember—it’s important to understand the underlying cause of chronic muscle tension so that it can be addressed in an effective way. Your chiropractor is specially trained to determine if the underlying cause is structural. If it is, he or she may be able to perform adjustments to correct the problem. Depending on your specific situation, your chiropractor may also recommend a treatment plan that includes several of the therapies mentioned above in order to relieve your pain and restore your mobility as quickly as possible.
If you are middle-aged (40-60, by some definitions) or older, here’s 15-second self-test for you. Do you often find yourself needing to sit down or steady yourself against a table when putting on your shoes or stepping into pants? Do you increasingly need to use the armrests of your chair to “push off” when getting up? Do you generally hold on to handrails whenever you go up and down stairs? If you stand with your feet close together, do you feel unsteady and unable to balance yourself properly?
If you’ve answered “Yes” to any of these questions, you might want to start giving a little bit of thought to your sense of balance, and how important it is to you. It’s easy to take good balance for granted—most people don’t give it a first or second thought until after they’ve experienced a fall. However, the behaviors we asked about in our self-test are actually “early warning signs” that your sense of balance may be starting to deteriorate. Your balance is controlled by an area of the brain called the cerebellum, which works in coordination with your vestibular (inner ear) system, your visual system (your eyes, and their ability to perceive whether you are standing upright), and your proprioceptive system (your body’s sense of position in space).
All of these systems begin to deteriorate once you pass the age of 40, as do the muscles they control. Worse still, this process of deterioration can become accelerated if you lead a sedentary lifestyle (which growing numbers of Americans do). And although you might not think of balance as a health issue, falling is the leading cause of injury for people over the age of 65. In the U.S., someone from this age group is treated in an emergency room for injuries resulting from a fall every 17 seconds.
So how do you improve your sense of balance, and protect yourself from dangerous falls? Simple—use it! Balance is to some extent a learned skill, so if you practice a few simple exercises that isolate these components of balance, you can actually make your sense of balance better. Experts on aging suggest performing a few exercises to improve your balance each day, starting in middle age, before the systems that control your balance have begun to deteriorate.
For example, just avoiding the use of handrails on stairs or the poles in buses and subway cars forces your body to work harder to maintain its balance, improving reflexes, increasing coordination and strengthening your muscles. Other exercises you can perform include creating an unstable surface at home (such as a board placed on wobbly pillows) and then practicing standing on it with one foot, or improving your coordination by standing on one leg with the opposite arm extended and then swinging the other leg back and forth. Office workers can improve their balance—and get a refreshing break at the same time—by practicing getting up from their chairs ten times in a row without using their hands. Each of these simple movements shifts your center of gravity, causes your muscles to react to changing positions, and improves your balance.
Just walking in a small circle around your living room or your backyard can be good for your balance, because walking along a curve is more difficult than walking in a straight line. When you’re out for a walk, try to choose uneven surfaces rather than smooth pavement because this also exercises the muscles in your back and legs that are essential for good balance. Or place cones or other objects in a line on the floor in front of you and then weave between them while walking. You can strengthen your hips, which are very important for balance, by holding on to a table or a kitchen counter and then swinging one leg forward, to the side, to the back, and then up to your chest with your knee bent. Do this ten times, and then switch to the other leg and repeat. Yoga, Tai Chi, martial arts, and other forms of exercise that emphasize flexibility can also improve your balance.
So if you are concerned about protecting yourself against falls as you age, the important thing to bear in mind is the phrase “use it while you’re young, or you’ll lose it as you age.” The more healthy exercise you get in your 30s and 40s, the more healthy – and safe – you’ll be in your 60s and beyond.
If you’re suffering from acute or chronic back pain–whether it’s been caused by an injury or some type of medical condition–chances are that you’re more interested in finding relief NOW than learning about the many different types of doctors who are part of the healthcare community. But the simple truth is that different types of doctors tend to approach their work in particular ways because of basic differences in their training and clinical experience. This means that it’s worthwhile for a back pain patient to understand at least a little bit about how a physician’s chosen discipline can influence his or her perspective and priorities when it comes to treatment.
The back and neck are very complex structures, and it can sometimes be difficult to identify the specific source of a patient’s pain and treat it effectively. This is why it is common for general practitioners to refer patients who are experiencing back problems more complicated than the typical muscle strain to physicians who specialize in diagnosing and treating musculoskeletal disorders. Depending on the circumstances, your general practitioner may recommend a chiropractor or a physical therapist. Some cases may also benefit from a multidisciplinary or integrated care approach that draws on the expertise of multiple specialists. So, in what ways are chiropractic physicians and physical therapists similar? And how are they different?
A doctor of chiropractic diagnoses and treats disorders of the musculoskeletal and nervous systems, and works with patients to prevent disorders from occurring. This type of healthcare professional will attempt to identify the underlying cause of back pain and treat it using a variety of techniques that realign the spine to relieve pressure, restore stability and improve function. Chiropractic treatments are usually referred to as “manipulation”, “adjustment” or “mobilization”. They involve applying varying degrees of highly-targeted force (either manually or with the help of specialized instruments) to move vertebrae back into their proper position.
When a patient is experiencing acute or chronic back pain and/or has lost function, a chiropractor will also use manipulation and mobilization techniques on the joints and other soft tissues in the affected area to increase range of motion.
The Physical Therapist
A doctor of physical therapy also diagnoses and treats back pain, though most often in connection with a specific injury or following surgery. His or her goal is usually to help a patient regain normal function by building strength and stamina, increasing balance and flexibility, and improving coordination.
Back pain that results from injury, disease, general wear-and-tear or other environmental factors can prevent a person from being able to lead a normal life by limiting their mobility. Day-to-day activities like walking, climbing stairs and getting into or out of chairs can become difficult or impossible. For athletes, the impact can be particularly profound–limiting their ability to train and compete. A physical therapist considers how the individual’s condition is impacting their ability to move and develops a therapy program intended to improve their condition. Where the chiropractor will often use manipulation and mobilization techniques as the foundation of a treatment plan and reinforce these with structured stretching and exercise programs, the physical therapist will tend to focus more on supervised exercise.
For patients with debilitating injuries and those who have recently had surgery, both chiropractic care and physical therapy can be very good options. Well-trained and experienced doctors will provide customized treatment plans designed to help patients recover as quickly and completely as possible. The diagnostic and treatment techniques each type of doctor uses (as well as their general philosophy) may differ to some extent, but there is also substantial overlap. Both kinds of physicians use non-invasive, hands-on treatment techniques as well as high-tech therapies such as low level laser therapy (LLLT) and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) to relieve pain, reduce inflammation and accelerate healing.
When the time comes to make a decision to see one type of doctor or the other for back pain, patients often make their choice based on referrals from their primary care physician or on reviews from other patients. But the most important thing to remember is that you DO have options, and that having the RIGHT doctor matters just as much as having the right kind of doctor. We believe that our relationship with patients–especially the way we communicate–is just as important as our technical skills in diagnosing and treating your pain.
If you’d like to learn more about our approach, we invite you to call or visit our office today.
Watching a dancer put her leg to her nose is an impressive sight, and many of us can perform similar feats when we’re children. But we begin to lose flexibility as we age if we do not make a conscious effort to remain limber. Inactivity causes muscles to shorten and stiffen, and muscle mass is lost with increasing years as well. However, maintaining flexibility as we get older is of great importance, since it allows us to retain our mobility and reduces the likelihood of aches, sprains and falls as we age.
Optimal flexibility means the ability of each of your joints to move fully through their natural range of motion. Simple activities such as walking or bending over to tie your shoes can become major difficulties if your flexibility is limited. Unfortunately, sitting for hours at a desk, as so many are forced to do on a daily basis, eventually leads to a reduction in flexibility as the muscles shorten and tighten.
There are a number of different tests used to measure flexibility, but the one test that has been used as a standard for years is the sit and reach test. It measures the flexibility of your hamstrings and lower back. The simple home version of the test requires only a step (or a small box) and a ruler.
Before the test, warm up for about 10 minutes with some light aerobic activity and do a few stretches. Then place the ruler on the step, letting the end of it extend out a few inches over your toes, and note where the edge of the step comes to on the ruler. Sit on the floor with your feet extended in front of you, flat against the bottom step (or box). With your arms extended straight out in front of you and one hand on top of the other, gradually bend forward from the hips, keeping your back straight. (Rounding the back will give you a false result). Measure where your fingertips come to on the ruler. They should ideally be able to reach at least as far as the front of the step. Any measurement past the edge of the step is a bonus. No matter how far you can reach on the first measurement, do the test periodically and try to improve your score every few weeks.
If you find that you are less flexible than you should be, some regular stretching exercises combined with visits to your chiropractor can help to restore flexibility and improve range of motion, helping to ensure that you remain limber into older age.
- After winning 3 races, Gordon joined Hendrick Motorsports in 1993 as part of the Sprint Cup Series in NASCAR.
- In 1998, Gordon was named to NASCAR’s “50 Greatest Drivers” list.
- In 2008, ESPN’s Terry Blount put him at #10 in a list of 25 all-time greats, and Fox Sports ranked him as #5 on its list of all-time best NASCAR drivers.
- In 2009, Gordon became the first-ever NASCAR driver to achieve career winnings of $100 million.
After winning the Daytona 500 three times (1997, 1999 and 2005), and the Sprint Cup Series four times (1995, 1997, 1998 and 2001), Gordon had become a universally-recognized superstar in the sport. But things changed in 2008.
From 2008 to 2009, Jeff Gordon suffered from chronic back pain. An MRI performed half way through the 2009 season revealed what looked like an arthritic condition. He went through rigorous treatments that included physical therapy, stretching exercises and chiropractic treatments. Gordon noted that “there have been times, especially last year, but even this year, when I’ve been thinking about my back when I should be thinking about the car.”
All race car drivers experience tremendous G-forces on the track. This can wear on the health of the spine and create problems if not regularly treated. The pain experienced by drivers can be quite distracting and could shorten their careers if the distraction becomes too great to allow safe driving. NASCAR has a strictly-enforced drug policy that prohibits the use of pain medications that might otherwise alleviate some of the discomfort.
That’s what makes chiropractic such a perfect fit. Its therapies are non-invasive and drug-free. New York-area chiropractor, Dr. David Levine, DC, has discovered techniques that are particularly effective for the injuries suffered by athletes.
“The technique,” said Dr. Levine, “basically involves examining the patient and searching for muscle spasm, areas of pain and tenderness, restriction of motion, and inflammation. Once the treatment is completed, usually within 30 minutes, the patient will often begin to quickly notice relief.”
Jeff Gordon isn’t the only star athlete Dr. Levine has helped. His website contains testimonials from the NY Jets’ former All-Pro Linebacker Lance Mehl and numerous other NFL and NBA players. Dr. Levine’s specialized pain management chiropractic techniques currently have a 90% success rate helping athletes and injured soldiers overcome their debilitating pain.
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.