I’m getting old Doc… Getting old….

Your lumbar spine (low back) is made up of 5 individual vertebrae stacked on top of a bone called the “sacrum”. To allow for flexibility and movement, there is a cushion or “disc” in between each level. As we age, these discs can wear and become thinner over time. This leads to additional changes, including bone spurs and narrowing of the opening where your nerves exit your spine.

This process is called “lumbar spondylosis”, or simply, “arthritis”. This problem most commonly involves the vertebra at the very base of your spine, which bear the highest loads.

Lumbar arthritis is exceptionally common, affecting people as young as 20 and becoming extremely likely by age 70. How quickly you develop low back arthritis is largely a trait you inherited from your parents. Other factors may play a role, including a history of trauma, smoking, operating motorized vehicles, being overweight and/ or performing repetitive movements (i.e. lifting, twisting, bending or sitting). Men seem to be affected slightly more often than women.

Symptoms often begin as back and buttock pain that gradually worsens over time. Stiffness may be present upon arising in the morning. Pain is relieved by rest or light activity and aggravated by strenuous work. Sometimes your nerves can become “pinched” in narrowed openings where they exit your spine. This can cause “sciatica” which results in pain, numbness, or tingling radiating into your leg along the path of the irritated nerve. Be sure to tell your doctor if you notice any weakness or if you have fever, abdominal pain, change in bowel or bladder function, or pain in your groin crease.

Arthritic changes can be seen on x-rays, but interestingly, the amount of wearing does not seem to correlate directly with the severity of your symptoms. People with the same degree of arthritis may have symptoms ranging from none to severe. Most researchers believe that the symptoms of osteoarthritis are not the direct result of the disease, but rather, from the conditions that preceded the disease and those that develop subsequent to it, like joint restrictions and muscle tightness. Fortunately, those conditions are treatable and our office has a variety of tools to help relieve your pain.

In general, you should avoid repeated lifting and twisting and take frequent breaks from prolonged sitting, especially in motorized vehicles. Avoid any position that causes an increase in radiating pain. Low-impact activities, like walking, stationary cycling, water aerobics, and yoga may be helpful.

Ouch! My Back Went Out!

Your spine consists of 24 individual vertebrae stacked on top of each other. Flexible cushions called “discs” live between each set of vertebrae. A disc is made up of two basic components. The inner disc, called the “nucleus”, is like a ball of jelly about the size of a marble. This jelly is held in place by the outer part of the disc called the “annulus”, which is wrapped around the inner nucleus much like a ribbon wrapping around your finger. The term lumbar disc lesion means that your disc has been damaged.

Disc lesions start when the outer fibers of the disc become strained or frayed. If enough fibers become frayed, this can create a weakness and when the disc is compressed, the outer fibers may “bulge” or “protrude” like a weak spot on an inner tube. If more fibers are damaged, the nucleus of the disc may “herniate” outward. Since the spinal cord and nerve roots live directly behind the disc, bulges that are accompanied by inflammation will likely create lower back pain that radiates into the buttock or the entire lower extremity. This condition is called sciatica. If the disc bulge is significant enough to create a mechanical compression of your nerve, you may also experience loss of your reflexes and weakness. Be sure to let our office know if you notice progressive weakness or numbness, any numbness around your groin, any loss of bowel or bladder control or fever.

Surprisingly, disc bulges are present without any symptoms in about 1/3 of the adult population. Another one third of adults will experience pain from a lumbar disc at some point in their lifetime. The condition is more common in men. Most lumbar disc problems occur at one of the two lowest discs- L5 or L4. Smokers and people who are generally inactive have a higher risk of lumbar disc problems. Certain occupations may place you at a greater risk, especially if you spend extended periods of time sitting or driving. People who are tall or overweight have increased risk of disc problems. The condition is uncommon in children and is most common between the ages of 40 and 60.

Researches have shown that disc bulges and sciatica may be successfully managed with conservative care like the type we will provide.

Put the shovel down and read this!

Your low back consists of 5 individual vertebrae stacked on top of each other. Flexible cushions called “discs” live between each set of vertebrae. A disc is made up of two basic components. The inner disc, called the “nucleus”, is like a ball of jelly about the size of a marble. This jelly is held in place by the outer part of the disc called the “annulus”, which is a tough ligament that wraps around the inner nucleus much like a ribbon wrapping around your finger.
Your low back relies on discs and other ligaments for support. “Discogenic Low Back Pain” develops when these tissues are placed under excessive stress, much like a rope that frays when it is stretched beyond its normal capacity. Most commonly, disc pain is not the result of any single event, but rather from repeated overloading. Your lumbar discs generally manage small isolated stressors quite well, but repetitive challenges lead to injury in much the same way that constantly bending a piece of copper wire will cause it to break. Examples of these stressors include: bad postures, sedentary lifestyles, poor fitting workstations, repetitive movements, improper lifting, or being overweight.

Approximately one third of adults will experience pain from a lumbar disc at some point in their lifetime. The condition is more common in men. Most lumbar disc problems occur at one of the two lowest discs- L5 or L4. Smokers and people who are generally inactive have a higher risk of lumbar disc problems. Certain occupations may place you at a greater risk, especially if you spend extended periods of time sitting or driving. People who are tall or overweight have increased risk of disc problems.

Symptoms from disc pain may begin abruptly but more commonly develop gradually. Symptoms may range from dull discomfort to surprisingly debilitating pain that becomes sharper when you move. Rest may relieve your symptoms but often leads to stiffness. The pain is generally centered in your lower back but can spread towards your hips or thighs. Be sure to tell your doctor if your pain extends beyond your knee, or if you have weakness in your lower extremities or a fever.

Repeated injuries cause your normal healthy elastic tissue to be replaced with less elastic “scar tissue.” Over time, discs may dehydrate and thin. This process can lead to ongoing pain and even arthritis. Patients who elect to forego treatment and “just deal with it” develop chronic low back pain more than 60% of the time. Seeking early and appropriate treatment like the type provided in our office is critical.

Depending on the severity of your injury, you may need to limit your activity for a while, especially bending, twisting, and lifting, or movements that cause pain. Bed rest is not in your best interest. You should remain active and return to normal activities as your symptoms allow. Light aerobic exercise (i.e. walking, swimming, etc) has been shown to help back pain sufferers. The short-term use of a lumbar support belt may be helpful. Sitting makes your back temporarily more vulnerable to sprains and strains from sudden or unexpected movements. Be sure to take “micro breaks” from workstations for 10 seconds every 20 minutes.

The Most Common Work Injury We See? This Might Be It…..

Your “lumbar spine”, or low back, is made up of five bones stacked on top of each other with a shock-absorbing disc between each level. Your low back relies on muscles and ligaments for support. “Sprains” and “strains” are the result of these tissues being stretched too hard or too far, much like a rope that frays when it is stretched beyond its normal capacity. The term “sprain” means that the

tough, durable ligaments that hold your bones together have been damaged, while “strain” means that your muscles or tendons that move your trunk have been partially torn.

Most people experience low back pain at some point in their lifetime, and 70% of those patients can attribute their symptoms to sprain/strain injuries. Lumbar sprains and strains may result from sudden or forceful movements like a fall, twist, lift, push, pull, direct blow, or quickly straightening up from a seated, crouched, or bent position. Most commonly, sprains and strains are not the result of any single event, but rather from repeated overloading. The spine can generally manage small isolated stressors quite well, but repetitive challenges lead to injury in much the same way that constantly bending a piece of copper wire will cause it to break. Examples of these stressors include: bad postures, sedentary lifestyles, poor fitting workstations, repetitive movements, improper lifting, or being overweight.

Symptoms from a sprain/strain may begin abruptly but more commonly develop gradually. Symptoms may range from dull discomfort to surprisingly debilitating pain that becomes sharper when you move. Rest may relieve your symptoms but often leads to stiffness. The pain is generally centered in your lower back but can spread towards your hips or thighs. Be sure to tell your doctor if your pain extends beyond your knee, or if you have weakness in your lower extremities or a fever.

Sprain/strain injuries cause your normal healthy elastic tissue to be replaced with less elastic “scar tissue.” This process can lead to ongoing pain and even arthritis. Patients who elect to forego treatment and “just deal with it” develop chronic low back pain more than 60% of the time. Seeking early and appropriate treatment like the type provided in our office is critical.

Depending on the severity of your injury, you may need to limit your activity for a while, especially bending, twisting, and lifting, or movements that cause pain. Bed rest is not in your best interest. You should remain active and return to normal activities as your symptoms allow. The short-term use of a lumbar support belt may be helpful. Sitting makes your back temporarily more vulnerable to sprains and strains from sudden or unexpected movements. Be sure to take “micro breaks” from workstations for 10 seconds every 20 minutes. Following acute injuries, you can apply ice for 15-20 minutes each hour. Heat may be helpful after several days or for more chronic origins of pain. Ask your doctor for specific ice/heat recommendations. Some patients report partial relief from sports creams.

Its a syndrome; that must be bad, right?

Your lower back is made up of five blocks of bone (vertebra) stacked on top of each other with a shock absorbing “disc” in between each level for flexibility. The larger front of the vertebra is called the “body”. The back of each vertebra is formed by two smaller bony columns (one on each side), capped with smooth joints called “facets”. Each vertebra rests on the one below in a “tripod” sort of fashion with the disc in front, and the facet joints in the back. The diagnosis of “facet syndrome” means that your facet joints have become irritated and inflamed. This problem can arise from sprains, strains, or joints that are not moving properly. Patients are more likely to develop facet syndrome if they have suffered an injury, overuse their back, have arthritis, or are overweight.
When a facet is irritated, you will likely notice pain on one side of your back that may radiate into your flank, hip, and thigh. The pain may come and go. Your pain may increase when you arch backwards or return to an upright position after bending forward. Many patients report relief when they lie down. Symptoms of facet syndrome do not usually radiate past your knee. Be sure to tell your chiropractor if your symptoms include any radiation of pain below your knee, weakness, groin numbness, changes in bowel or bladder function, or if you have a fever.

Long-standing irritation to the facet joint is thought to cause arthritis. Fortunately, our office can help. To speed your recovery, you should wear supportive shoes and avoid activities that increase your symptoms. Be sure to take frequent breaks from sitting. Your doctor may provide specific recommendations about using heat or ice at home. You may need to limit heavy physical activity, but you should avoid complete bed rest. Yoga has been shown to help back pain sufferers, so consider joining a class or picking up a DVD.

Avoiding Back Pain At Sedentary Jobs

Some great tips on how to prevent back pain when working a sedentary job from our friends at Silicon Republic. Check out the article below.

https://www.siliconrepublic.com/advice/avoid-back-pain-at-work

1. Take regular breaks to stretch and walk around

Try to walk around for between three and five minutes every half hour.

2. Make sure not to hunch over while working

Everyone intuitively understands that hunching over the computer is bad for them, but it’s easy to fall into the most natural and comfortable – albeit unhealthy – sitting position while you’re in the flow of things.

3. Consider a standing desk

A standing desk offers you the opportunity to alternate your position throughout the day.

Suddenly my back was killing me!

Low back pain affects 80% of the population at some point in their life and one-third of the population on a yearly basis. One of the most common causes of low back pain comes from a slightly restricted joint in your spine.
Your lower back is made up of 5 bones stacked on top of each other with a soft “disc” between each segment to allow for flexibility. Normally, each joint in your spine should move freely and independently. Our examination of your spine has shown that one or more of the joints in your low back is slightly misaligned and restricted. We call this condition “lumbar segmental joint restriction”.

To help visualize this, imagine a normal spine functioning like a big spring moving freely in every direction. A spine with a joint restriction is like having a section of that spring welded together. The spring may still move as a whole, but a portion of it is no longer functioning.

Joint restriction can develop in many ways. Sometimes they are brought on by an accident or an injury. Other times, they develop from repetitive strains or poor posture. Several factors may make you more likely to experience low back problems. These include: being overweight, smoking, strenuous work, repetitive bending, twisting and lifting, prolonged exposure to whole body vibration- i.e. operating a motorized vehicle, stress, anxiety, depression, dissatisfaction with your job and even your attitude!

Restricted joints give rise to a self-perpetuating cycle of discomfort. Joint restriction causes swelling and inflammation, which triggers muscular guarding leading to more restriction. Since your spine functions as a unit, rather than as isolated pieces, a joint restriction in one area of your spine often causes “compensatory” problems in another. Think of this as a rowboat with multiple oarsmen on each side. When one rower quits, the others are placed under additional stress and can become overworked.

Joint restrictions most commonly cause local tenderness and discomfort. You may notice that your range of motion is limited. Movement may increase your discomfort. Pain from a restricted joint often trickles down to your hips or thighs. Be sure to tell your chiropractor if your symptoms include any radiation of pain below your knee, weakness, groin numbness or changes in bowel or bladder function.

Long-standing restrictions are thought to result in arthritis – much like the way a slightly misaligned wheel on your car causes premature wearing of your tire.

You should recognize that your problem is common and generally treatable. Chiropractic care has been shown to be the safest and most effective treatment for joint restrictions. Our office offers several tools to help ease your pain. To speed your recovery, you should wear supportive shoes and avoid activities that increase your pain. Be sure to take frequent breaks from sedentary activity. Yoga has been shown to help back pain sufferers so consider joining a class or picking up a DVD.

Trigger points in the Quadratus Lumborum muscle.

The quadratus lumborum muscle is a commonly overlooked source of low back pain and is often responsible for “pseudo disc syndrome”. This muscle originates on the inferior border of the 12th rib and lumbar transverse processes. It inserts on the iliac crest and iliolumbar ligament. The q.l.’s main actions are extension and lateral flexion of the spine. It also acts as a stabilizer of the lumbar spine. Trigger points in this muscle refer pain into the sacroiliac joint and the lower buttock. Pain can also spread anteriorly along the crest of the ilium into the lower abdomen and groin and to the greater trochanter.

Posterior Tibial Tendon Dysfunction

The posterior tibialis muscle begins deep in your calf. The muscle is connected to the arch of your foot by a tendon that runs along the inside of your ankle, just behind the large bump called the medial malleolus. When you walk, the posterior tibialis muscle lifts the arch of your foot.

Posterior tibial tendon dysfunction is one of the most common foot and ankle problems. The tendon may be damaged from an acute injury, like an accident or fall. More commonly, problems arise from overuse or repeated strain. Ongoing irritation slowly damages the tendon’s fibers and eventually leads to weakening and degeneration. This decreases the tendon’s ability to support your foot when you walk. As the tendon becomes less effective, the arch of your foot is allowed to collapse, which further increases the strain on the muscle and tendon.

The condition is often triggered from overuse and/or training on excessively hard surfaces. Other factors that can contribute to posterior tibial tendon dysfunction include: obesity, diabetes, hypertension, prior surgery or steroid injections.

Symptoms include pain or swelling along the course of the tendon, particularly behind your inner ankle bone. Symptoms often begin following an increase in training intensity or duration. Standing, walking, or running will likely increase your discomfort. Your pain may be aggravated by spending prolonged periods of time on your feet, especially, when standing tiptoe and walking stairs or uneven surfaces.

Early diagnosis and treatment is important to slow progression of the disorder. You may need to temporarily limit weight-bearing activity to allow your tendon to heal. Using a stationary cycle, elliptical machine, or swimming can be good alternatives to walking and running. Your doctor will likely prescribe arch supports or orthotics to help support your foot. You will be given exercises to strengthen the posterior tibialis muscle. These exercises should be performed while wearing shoes with good arch supports. In certain instances, a walking cast or boot may be needed to temporarily protect your foot.

Here is a brief description of the treatments we may use to help manage your problem.

Joint Manipulation
Your chiropractor has found joints in your body that are not moving freely. This can cause tightness and discomfort and can accelerate unwanted degeneration i.e. arthritis. Your chiropractor will apply a gentle force with their hands, or with hand held instruments, in order to restore motion to any “restricted” joints. Sometimes a specialized table will be used to assist with these safe and effective “adjustments”. Joint manipulation improves flexibility, relieves pain and helps maintain healthy joints.
Therapy Modalities
We may apply electrotherapy modalities that produce light electrical pulses transmitted through electrodes placed over your specific sites of concern. These comfortable modalities work to decrease your pain, limit inflammation and ease muscle spasm. Hot or cold packs are often used in conjunction, to enhance the effect of these modalities. Another available option is therapeutic ultrasound. Ultrasound pushes sound vibrations into tissues. When these vibrations reach your deep tissues, heat develops and unwanted waste products are dispersed.
Myofascial Release
Overworked muscles often become tight and develop knots or “trigger points”. Chronic tightness produces inflammation and swelling that ultimately leads to the formation of “adhesions” between tissues. Your chiropractor will apply pressure with their hands, or with specialized tools, in order to release muscle tightness and soft-tissue adhesions. This will help to improve your circulation, relieve pain and restore flexibility.
Therapeutic Exercise
Muscle tightness or weakness causes discomfort and alters normal joint function, leading to additional problems. Your chiropractor will target tight or weak muscles with specific therapeutic stretching and strengthening to help increase tissue flexibility, build strength, and ease pain. Healthy, strong, and flexible muscles may help prevent re-injury.
Elastic Therapeutic Tape
Your chiropractor may apply a special elastic therapeutic tape in order to support injured areas or encourage better movement. This tape is thought to decrease pain and swelling, improve circulation and limit muscle soreness.
Foot Evaluation
Fallen arches and faulty foot mechanics are common problems that can perpetuate your condition. Our office will carefully evaluate your feet and consider the need for a change in shoe style, arch supports or even custom orthotics.
Ankle Brace
Our office may recommend using a support brace to protect your ankle from further injury. Your doctor will discuss the specific type of brace and provide instructions for use.
After this initial course of treatment we will reassess your progress. We will determine the need for any additional care after your reassessment.

Sleep Posture
Your mattress and the position you sleep in may affect your condition.
Choose a mattress that provides medium or firm support, such as a traditional coil spring or adjustable airbed. Avoid waterbeds, thick pillow tops and soft, sagging mattresses.
Always sleep on your back with a pillow either underneath your knees or on your side with a pillow between your knees. Avoid sleeping on your stomach.
Keep your neck and back covered while sleeping to avoid drafts that could cause potential muscle spasms.
RICE
The acronym RICE can help you remember what to do after a new injury:
Rest – Limit stress to the injured area for at least the first 48 hours.
Ice – Apply for 10-15 minutes. Break for 30 minutes. Reapply. (Alternatives to the ice pack include Ziploc bags filled with ice, or a bag of frozen vegetables.)
Compression – Wrap the injured area with an elastic ACE bandage if possible.
Elevation – Elevate the injured area to limit swelling.
Standing
To avoid extra stress on your spine while standing:
Avoid high-heeled shoes or boots
Use a footrest
If excessive standing can’t be avoided, consider shock absorbent shoes or an anti-fatigue mat.
Footwear
Improperly supported feet can affect the alignment of all of the structures above. To improve your overall comfort:
Choose shoes with good arch support.
Avoid going barefoot or wearing shoes that lack support (i.e. flip-flops). The following brands of sandals provide better than average arch support: Naot, Fit Flops, Orthoheels, Abeo, Vionic and Yellow box.
Avoid high-heeled shoes or boots (keep heels to a maximum of 1½ inches, especially if you are going to be doing a lot of walking).
“Cross-trainer” athletic shoes tend to provide the best all around support and shock absorption for daily activities.
Patients with fallen arches should consider adding arch supports or orthotics.
Repair or replace shoes with worn soles or heels.
Running Shoes
Running shoes need to be replaced every 250 miles. There are three basic options:
Motion Control Shoes – Designed for people with low or no arches, these shoes are for runners who strike the ground on the outer edge of their foot. Avoid overly stiff shoes as these decrease you perception of ground strike and lead to new injuries.
Stability or Neutral Shoes – Designed for people with normal or average arches and running mechanics. The shoe contains some cushioning to absorb shock and prevent injuries and some rigidity to avoid pronation.
Cushioned Shoes – Designed for people with high arched feet. Their footprint will typically leave a thin band along the foot’s edge. As they run weight is distributed from heel strike to the outer edge of the foot and small toes that bear the brunt of “lift off.” This shoe is more flexible and absorbs the shock created by the lack or rotation (under-pronation) created by their running style.

Meditation goes mainstream!

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With growing evidence that meditation has significant health benefits, a 2016 study by a team of researchers from the United States, Spain, and France sought to explain how and why meditation actually works.

The study investigated the difference between “mindful meditation” in a group of experienced meditators vs. “quiet non-meditative activity” in a group of untrained control subjects. After eight hours of mindfulness practice, the meditation group showed a range of genetic and molecular differences, which in turn correlated with faster physical recovery from a stressful situation.

According to researchers, this is the first time a study has documented a rapid alteration in gene expression within meditating subjects. Interestingly, the researchers observed these changes in the SAME genes that anti-inflammatory and pain-killing drugs target! Thus, they speculate that mindful-based training may benefit patients with inflammatory conditions! This and prior studies have prompted the American Heart Association to endorse meditation as an effective cardiac preventative intervention.

Meditation has been found to be helpful for many conditions including stress management, lowering high blood pressure, heart disease, and depression. You can incorporate meditation into your life with three simple meditation exercises! The initial advice is “…go slow and be compassionate and gentle with yourself.” Your mind will try to wander (called our “default mode”) which consumes about half of our day, so try to focus (called “focus mode”)!

1)  WALKING MEDITATION: At a slow to medium pace, focus on your feet. Notice how your heel hits the ground and then feel the roll of your foot followed by the big toe pushing off prior to the swing phase. Feel for stones under the foot and other interesting sensations. If your mind starts to wander (default mode), gently bring your attention back to your foot (focus mode). You WILL get better with practice, and you’ll soon find it much easier to “focus” during stressful situations!

2)  NOVEL EXPERIENCES: It’s much easier to lose focus on the people you see everyday vs. those seen only one time a month. The next time you arrive home from work, pretend you haven’t seen your spouse/friend in 30 days. Give them your undivided attention. Then, try this on co-workers and other people you see every day. Believe me, they WILL notice a difference!

3)  GRATITUDE EXERCISES: When you’re not in their presence, focus on a person’s face and send them a “silent gratitude” for being in your life. Try this on family members, friends, co-workers, and others!