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Pain is stressful

I am convinced that spinal manipulation can reduce stress in a very deep way.
Dr. Foster

In a study that looked at stress and how people who seek chiropractic care perceive it, researchers wrote that psychosocial stress, “…pervades modern life and is known to have an impact on health. Pain, especially chronic back pain, is influenced by stress.” Here, ten different chiropractic clinics reported results tallied from 138 patients who were given questionnaires about stress and its association with their current condition.

Of interest, more than 30% categorized themselves as being “moderately to severely stressed,” and over 50% felt that stress had a moderate or greater effect on their presenting complaint. Further, about 71% of the patients felt that a stress management approach would be useful to help them cope and 44% were interested in taking a “self-development program to enhance their stress management skills.”

The study concluded that: 1) patient perceptions are known to be important in management approaches and treatment outcomes; 2) in this study, about 1/3 of patients presenting perceived themselves as being moderately or severely stressed; and 3) interventions that reduce stress or the patient’s perception of being stressed may be an important and valid “intervention” in patient management.

So, how do doctors of chiropractic do this? First is pain management, which is often at the core of a current heightened stress level, as it can push the stress level “over the edge.” But just managing pain doesn’t always work by itself, and doctors of chiropractic will often intervene with nutritional recommendations such as educating the patient about an “anti-inflammatory diet,” and the use of vitamin and/or herbal approaches specific to stress management, including specific nutritional approaches to balancing neurotransmitter levels.  Try Transcendental Meditation, a scientifically verified stress reduction technique.

Low back pain

Low back pain (LBP) can happen to anyone and has many causes.

Let’s take a look at some the possible causes of LBP and what we might be able to do if LBP strikes.

Younger individuals are not immune to LBP. In fact, those between 30-60 years of age are most likely to experience LBP caused from a muscle strain, ligament sprain, or disk “derangement” such as a herniated disk.

Here are some specific causes:

LBP with soft tissue injuries from a sudden movement, exercise or over lifting. Typical symptoms include: a) difficulty moving that can be so severe it can prevent walking or standing; b) pain that does not radiate down the leg past the knee but may refer pain into the groin, buttock, or upper thigh; c) pain that tends to be achy and dull; d) muscle spasms (that can be severe); e) local soreness noted to touch.

DIAGNOSIS: The most likely injuries described by the scenario above include a muscle strain or ligament sprain.The severity of the injury and how you take care of yourself will determine healing time.

TREATMENT can include chiropractic care, ice (15 min. rotations on/off/on/off/on), activity modifications (usually, a combination of walking and resting for the first day or two will help but after that, your chiropractor will guide you in the proper exercises for stretching and eventually strengthening), and anti-inflammatory care. Doctors of chiropractic prefer herbs such as ginger, turmeric, boswellia, and other nutrients over NSAIDs—like ibuprofen, naproxen, and aspirin—as these irritate the stomach and can damage the liver and kidney. Recent studies show that NSAIDs can also inhibit important chemical activities in the body that may actually slow the healing process. For this reason, studies have concluded that athletes who are trying to get back into their sport should be advised not to take NSAIDs.

LBP with Sciatica. Pain that travels past the knee down the back of the leg often to the ankle or foot is frequently referred to as sciatica. This may include: a) pain that is longer lasting rather than flaring up for a few days or one to two weeks; b) pain may be greater in the leg than the low back; c) pain is commonly on one side; d) pain is worsened by sitting and or bending ; e) symptoms often include pain, in addition to numbness/tingling, and/or burning; f) muscle damage and weakness on the involved leg may occur as well.

DIAGNOSIS: In this age group, lumbar herniated disk (LDH) or a disc bulge is the most likely cause. This is called vertebrogenic sciatica. The lower two disks—L4/5 and L5/S1—are the two most common locations for herniated disks. The odd thing about disc problems is that about 50% of us have bulging disks and 20% of us have herniated disks yet have NO pain!

TREATMENT: Try chiropractic first. It works and you can always have surgery later (if necessary), but you can’t go back after it’s done!




Necks and Headaches

We’ve all seen people working on laptops in airports, airplanes, coffee shops, on the train, walking down the street…you name it! So how does this affect one’s neck, and does it contribute to headaches?

A 2016 study compared females with posture-induced headaches vs. healthy, age-matched female control subjects to see if there was any significant difference in their head-tilt and forward head position during laptop use.

The research team measured angles for maximum head protraction (chin-poking forwards), head-tilt, and forward head position at baseline (neutral resting) and while using a laptop. Essentially, they measured how “slumped” the participant’s posture was at rest vs. while working on a laptop. The results showed that the headache group demonstrated an increased head protraction of 22.3% compared to the control group at rest. When comparing the ratio of forward head position during habitual sitting to the maximum head protraction, the researchers found a significant difference, which was also worse in the headache group.Similarly, laptop work head position was worse in the headache group. The researchers concluded that the headache group showed worse posture at rest in the two measurements as well as more forward head posture during the laptop task than the control group. They recommended that management/therapy for patients with headaches and/or neck pain include posture retraining exercises as an important aspect of obtaining long-term successful outcomes. This study illustrates the importance of that and the need to include exercises like chin-retractions, conscious head re-positioning, cervical traction (in some cases), deep neck flexor muscle strengthening, managing scapular stability, and more. When looking at a person from the side, imagine a perpendicular line that passes through the ear canal should pass through the shoulder, hip, and ankle. In cases of forward head posture, that line will pass forwards of these bony landmarks. Previous research shows that the head weighs an average of 12 pounds (5.44 kg), and for every inch of forward head positioning, the neck and upper back muscles are burdened with an extra 10 pounds (4.53 kg) of load to keep the head upright. That means a five-inch forward head position adds 50 pounds (22.67 kg) of weight to the neck and upper back area. It’s no wonder this faulty posture leads to chronic neck and headache complaints Spinal joint manipulation is one of the most patient-satisfying, fast-acting remedies for neck pain and headaches of several types offered by doctors of chiropractic. But when manipulation is combined with exercise training, studies show this combined approach results in the best long-term benefits or outcomes!

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© 2021 Bev Foster D.C.

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