1. PAIN REDUCTION
The first benefit of chiropractic care may be the most impactful- reducing your pain. Before you are living your optimal life, you have to be free of pain.
Multiple research studies have shown that chiropractic is considered one of the most safe and effective treatments to reduce pain from your neck, low back, and more. Even if you are suffering from spinal stenosis, disc herniations, or foraminal encroachment- chiropractic may be able to help.
2. REDUCE THE FREQUENCY, SEVERITY, AND INTENSITY OF HEADACHES
The second health benefit of chiropractic care, especially important if you have struggled with chronic headaches. Researchers have discovered that chiropractic care can reduce the frequency and intensity of headaches.
With over 20 million people suffering from headaches every day, this is a massive development in healthcare! The most common type of headaches includes; tension headaches and migraines. Tension headaches often include neck pain, muscle pain, and facial pain. Migraines are usually throbbing, can cause nausea and light sensitivity, and some even include an aura.
3. IMPROVED FUNCTION AND QUALITY OF LIFE
Many people don’t go to the doctor when they have pain. They go to the doctor when that pain interferes with their quality of life!
If you have a healthcare issue that is keeping you for enjoying your hobbies, hanging out with friends and family, and limit your ability to perform well at work- then you are likely going to start researching on Google and eventually call a doctor to get answers.
Fortunately, getting back to your active lifestyle, and improving your quality of life (or in science-speak, “functional ability”) is one proven benefits of chiropractic care.
4. REDUCED MEDICATION USAGE
Reducing medication use, and specifically opioids are one of the primary focuses of our healthcare world today.
Each day over 100 people die due to an opioid overdose. And it’s not only affecting addicts and junkies. A majority of opioid deaths come from people who were taking medications prescribed by their doctor.
Not only are these medications addictive and deadly, but in many cases, they are ineffective at helping people recover from spine pain, which is why most people start taking them. This vicious cycle leads people to take MORE medication an attempt to find relief, which only increases the likelihood of an adverse event or addiction.
There is a better way. Researchers have discovered that people who receive chiropractic care are 49% less likely to fill an opioid prescription. And, in my opinion, if we were able to reduce opioid use by nearly 50% just be helping people get well with chiropractic care- this world would be a different place!
Even what many people consider to be “safe” medications like NSAID’s contribute to over 100,000 hospitalizations, and over 3,000 deaths each year. Drugs should rarely be viewed as a first line treatment for spinal pain. Your body is designed to move and recover- so going to a doctor focused on movement and recovery seems like a good idea to not only reduce your medication use but to get the best results possible.
5. SPORTS PERFORMANCE IMPROVEMENTS
Did you know that every major sports team has a chiropractor available to their athletes to help with injury prevention and sports performance?
That’s right, teams in the NFL, MLB, NBA, and NHL all have chiropractors integrated into their healthcare team to keep their athletes performing at their top level all season long.
No one can perform their best when in pain, so chiropractors are used to keeping the athletes feeling good, but with a focus and eye towards sport-specific performance.
Working with the athletes on flexibility, biomechanics, and range of motion, and sport-focused training is critical to raising the bar of performance.
Quite frankly, whether you are working at an office or whether you are on the professional sports field, a balance of strength and flexibility is one of the top keys to stay well long term.
So those are the five significant benefits of chiropractic care. If you’ve experienced any of those, please let us know, or if you have any questions, I’m happy to answer those as well.
Is there a connection between fibromyalgia (FM) and sleep disturbance? Let’s take a look!
FM is a condition that causes widespread pain and stiffness in muscles and joints. Patients with FM often experience chronic daytime fatigue and some type of sleep problems like getting to sleep, staying asleep, and/or feeling restored in the morning upon waking. The National Institutes of Health estimates between 80-90% of those diagnosed with FM are middle-aged women, although it can affect men and happen at any age. As little as 10-20 years ago, it was hard to find a doctor who “believed” in FM, and it was common for the patient to be told that their pain “was all in their head.” FM has now been studied to the point that we know it is a real condition, and it affects between 2-6% of the general population around the world.
It is well established that sleep disturbance frequently occurs after surgery, which usually normalizes as time passes. One study used a group of healthy women who were deprived of sleep (particularly slow wave sleep) for three days to see if there was a link between sleep disturbance and pain. Results confirmed that the women experienced a decrease in pain tolerance and increased levels of discomfort and fatigue after three days—the same symptoms found among FM sufferers!
Fibromyalgia may have NO known cause, or it can be triggered by other conditions such as repetitive stress injuries, car crash injuries, and other forms of trauma. FM also appears to run in families though it’s still NOT clear if this is a true genetic link or caused by shared environmental factors. Some feel FM is a rheumatoid condition, and though FM is NOT a true form of arthritis, it has been found that people with arthritis are more likely to have FM.
FM sufferers frequently suffer from conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, chronic fatigue syndrome, migraine headaches, arthritis, lupus, and major depressive disorders. Approximately 20% of FM patients have depression and/or anxiety disorders, and a link between chronic pain and depression exists and seems to play a role in people’s perception of pain.
Because conditions such as sleep apnea can result in symptoms similar to FM, it’s recommended that patients suspected of FM keep a sleep/sleepiness diary in order to rule out sleep apnea as a cause for their condition.
There are many “tips” for improving sleep quality, which we will dive into next month, as these may prove VERY HELPFUL in the management of FM!
If you, a friend or family member requires care for Fibromyalgia, we sincerely appreciate the trust and confidence shown by choosing our services!
Whiplash is really a slang term for the rapid back and forth whipping of the head on the neck, usually associated with motor vehicle accidents. The title “Whiplash Associated Disorders”, or WAD, describes it best because it includes ALL of the MANY signs and symptoms of the disorder.
WAD basically comes in three sizes based on the degree of injury. A WAD I is present when there is pain but no physical examination findings; WAD II occurs when there are exam findings but no neurological loss (numbness or weakness); and WAD III includes loss of neurological function. There is also a separate WAD level that includes fractures and dislocations (WAD IV).
There are many things that can be done by the patient to assist in the healing process for WAD. The first well-studied recommendation is to “continue with your usual activities.” Try to keep active and not change your routine. The good news is that WAD (especially types I and II) usually resolves without complication, and recovery is even more likely to occur if you don’t deviate much from your routine.
For those whose symptoms are more severe and/or not resolving, mobilization and manipulation of the neck and back are very effective treatment options. In addition to treatments you’d receive in a chiropractic office, there are MANY things you can do at home as “self-help strategies.” Some of these include (“PRICE”):
1) PROTECT: Though it’s important to continue with your usual daily activities, this is dependent on both the degree of tissue injury and your pain tolerance. So do as many of your usual daily activities as possible, but AVOID those that result in a sharp, lancinating type of pain or those where recovery from the pain is delayed. Therefore, this category may require modifying your ADLs (activities of daily living). A cervical collar (hard or
soft) should NOT to be used UNLESS you have an unstable injury (fracture or a grade III sprain).
2) REST: Doing too much is like picking at a cut (which can delay healing) and doing too little can lead to a delayed healing response as well. Staying within reasonable pain boundaries is a good guide.
3) ICE > HEAT: Ice reduces swelling, and your doctor will typically recommend it over applying heat, especially on a recent injury. Heat draws fluids in, and while it may feel good, it can make your symptoms worse.
4) COMPRESS: We can basically ignore this when referencing neck pain. This pertains better to wrapping an ankle, knee, wrist, or elbow with an elastic compression orthotic or brace.
5) ELEVATE: This too is meant for the acute stages of an extremity injury like a foot or ankle.
Exercises unique for neck pain in the acute, subacute, and chronic stages of healing are perhaps the most important of the self-help approaches. In the ACUTE phase, try these…
1) Range of Motion: Once again, stay within “reasonable pain boundaries” as you move your head forwards, backwards, side to side, and rotate left and right. These can be done either with or without LIGHT resistance applied using one or two fingers placed against your head. Limit the repetitions to three slow reps in each direction and emphasize the release of the movement.
2) Chin/head Glides: Tuck in the chin (think of creating a double or triple chin) followed by poking the chin/head out.
In the SUBACUTE and CHRONIC phases of healing, the importance of strengthening the deep neck flexors cannot be over emphasized. Please refer to last month’s article for a description of this (see #3 of the 6 recommendations listed).
Low back pain is a very common complaint. In fact, it’s the #1 reason for doctor visits in the United States! The economic burden of LBP on the working class is astronomical. Most people can’t afford to be off work for one day, much less a week, month, or more! Because of the popularity of hospital-based TV dramas over the past two decades, many people think getting an MRI of their back can help their doctor fix their lower back problem. Is this a good idea? Let’s take a look!
Patients will often bring in a CD that has an MRI of their lower back to a doctor of chiropractic and ask the ultimate question, “….can you fix me?” Or, worse, “…I think I need surgery.” Sure, it’s quite amazing how an MRI can “slice” through the spine and show bone, soft tissues, disks, muscles, nerves, the spinal cord, and more! Since the low back bears approximately 2/3 of our body’s weight, you can frequently find MANY ABNORMALITIES in a person over 40-50 years old. In fact, it would be quite odd NOT to see things like disk degeneration, disk bulges, joint arthritis, spur formation, etc.!
Hence, the “downside” of having ALL this information is the struggle to determine which finding on the MRI has clinical significance. In other words, where is the LBP coming from? Is it that degenerative disk, bulged disk, herniated disk, or the narrowed canal where the nerve travels? Interestingly, in a recent review of more than 3,200 cases of acute low back pain, those who had an MRI scan performed earlier in their care had a WORSE outcome, more surgery, and higher costs compared with those who didn’t succumb to the temptation of requesting an MRI!
This is not to say MRI, CT scans, and x-rays are not important, as they effectively show conditions like subtle fractures and dangerous conditions like cancer. But for LBP, MRI is often misleading. This is because the primary cause of LBP is “functional” NOT “structural,” so it’s EASY to get railroaded into thinking whatever shows up on that MRI has to be the problem.
Here is how we know this, when we take 1,000 people WITHOUT low back pain between ages 30 and 60 (male or female) and perform an MRI on their lower back, we will find up to 53% will have PAINLESS disk bulges in one or more lumbar disks. Moreover, we will find up to 30% will have partial disk herniations, and up to 18% will have an extruded disk (one that has herniated ALL the way out). Yet, these people are PAIN FREE and never knew they had disk “derangement” (since they have no LBP). When combining all of these possible disk problems together, several studies report that between 57% and 64% of the general population has some type of disk problem without ANY BACK PAIN!
Hence, when a patient with a simple sprain/strain and localized LBP presents with an MRI showing a disk problem, it usually ONLY CONFUSES the patient (and frequently the doctor), as that disk problem is usually not the problem causing the pain! So DON’T have an MRI UNLESS a surgical treatment decision depends on its findings. That is weakness, numbness, and non-resolving LBP in spite of 4-6 weeks of non-surgical care or unless there is weakness in bowel or bladder control. Remember, the majority of back pain sufferers DO NOT need surgery!
We realize you have a choice in whom you consider for your health care provision and we sincerely appreciate your trust in choosing our service for those needs. If you, a friend, or family member requires care for back pain, we would be honored to render our services.