Two for One With Chiropractic

Can’t seem to shake that back pain? Continually plagued by headaches? You’re not alone. Chronic back and headache pain are among the most prevalent and disabling disorders worldwide. Even more troubling, experiencing one of these conditions may raise your likelihood of experiencing both. But here’s the good news: the potential reason why these two disorders may be connected points to a single solution: chiropractic care.

According to research published in the Journal of Headache and Pain, people who suffer persistent back pain or headaches are approximately twice as likely to suffer from both. Their findings are based on a review of studies involving more than 450,000 total participants suffering from back pain and headaches. Overall, the researchers found 14 studies that reported an association between “primary headache disorders and persistent low back pain.”

While the study authors do not spell out the cause of the connection between these two common, debilitating conditions, abundant previous evidence suggests musculoskeletal dysfunction, particularly involving the spine and spinal nerves, is a potential factor with both headaches and back pain.

That makes chiropractic care a great option when you’re experiencing either condition – or both. In fact, since a chiropractor can help both back pain and headaches, there’s a good chance that if you’re only suffering from one, chiropractic care may prevent the other from occurring at all. Now that’s a two-for-one win with chiropractic!

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Aerobics During Pregnancy Benefits Baby

Expectant mothers are encouraged to maintain a healthy weight during pregnancy, but the benefits from exercise aren’t just for the mother. Research suggests babies also benefit from their mothers’ exercise efforts during the gestation period. In particular, infants whose mothers exercised aerobically during the gestation period appear to have increased neuromotor development at one month compared to infants whose mothers passed on aerobics.

Neuromotor skills are assessed at various points during early childhood to ensure the baby is developing normally. In this study, published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, researchers evaluated movement skills (reflexes, stationary skills and locomotion) in 1-month-old infants whose mothers had performed 50 minutes of supervised aerobic activity, three days a week during pregnancy. The same neuromotor skills were also evaluated in a comparison group of 1-month-old infants whose mothers maintained usual physical activity during pregnancy.

Infants of women in the aerobic exercise group performed better on tests commonly used to evaluate neuromotor abilities compared to infants whose mothers served as controls and did not receive supervised aerobic activity sessions. The study authors speculate that infants with early movement skills may be more inclined to be active during childhood, suggesting that “exercise [by the mother] during pregnancy may potentially reduce childhood risk of obesity.”

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The Forgotten Epidemic in the Time of COVID-19

In the past month or so, Americans have progressively emerged from the COVID-19 lockdown that dominated headlines. But while we’ve seen encouragement on the COVID-19 front, and expect more in the months to come, the forgotten epidemic,1 a man-made plague, still thrives … and may be getting worse.

The Lockdown and Opioid Use

Panic, job loss, financial insecurity, inability to access nondrug health care services for pain, and increased pain caused by any of the above may elevate the risk of opioid use, abuse and addiction. In fact, social isolation itself may increase addiction risk.2 A recent American Medical Association brief3 emphasizes the problem:

“The AMA is greatly concerned by an increasing number of reports from national, state and local media suggesting increases in opioid-related mortality — particularly from illicitly manufactured fentanyl and fentanyl analogs. More than 20 states have reported increases in opioid-related mortality as well as ongoing concerns for those with a mental illness or substance use disorder in counties and other areas within the state.”

Opioid Abuse and COVID-19

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), opioid users may also be at higher risk for COVID-19 infection and complications:4 “People with opioid use disorder (OUD) … may also be vulnerable due to those drugs’ effects on respiratory and pulmonary health. Additionally, individuals with a substance use disorder are more likely to experience homelessness or incarceration than those in the general population, and these circumstances pose unique challenges regarding transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19.”

Advancing the Drug Model

The COVID-19 pandemic has put medication – a vaccine to prevent it and drugs to treat it – into daily conversation. Big Pharma is grinning wider than ever. Discussion of nondrug health care has been sporadic, often drowned out by cries of, “When will a vaccine be ready? and “Do we have a drug that treats it yet?” But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Chiropractic: The Way Out of the Epidemic

A growing body of evidence suggests doctors of chiropractic should be the go-to providers in the fight against opioid use and abuse. Per the latest study:5 “Patients with spinal pain who saw a chiropractor had half the risk of filling an opioid prescription. Among those who saw a chiropractor within 30â��days of diagnosis, the reduction in risk was greater as compared with those with their first visit after the acute phase.” This isn’t the first study to make the connection between provider type and opioid use, and it won’t be the last.

Mother Nature or Big Pharma will eventually bring COVID-19 under control – but the opioid epidemic sees no end in sight. As COVID-19 takes us in a distinctly drug  / vaccine direction, please keep in mind that your chiropractor promotes a nondrug approach to health and wellness that helps boost immunity, unlock the body’s innate healing powers, and reduces pain without opioids and other pain medications. Otherwise, the forgotten epidemic may truly be forgotten until it’s too late.

References

  1. Opioid Overdose: Understanding the Epidemic. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  2. Grinspoon P. “A Tale of Two Epidemics: When COVID-19 and Opioid Addiction Collide.” Harvard Health Blog, April 20, 2020.
  3. “Issue Brief: Reports of Increases in Opioid-Related Overdose During COVID Pandemic.” American Medical Association, Advocacy Resource Center.
  4. “COVID-19: Potential Implications for Individuals with Substance Use Disorders.” NIDA, April 6, 2020.
  5. Whedon JM, et al. Impact of chiropractic care on use of prescription opioids in patients with spinal pain. Pain Med, 2020 (epub first).

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Lessons From the Lockdown

Depending on which state (and in some cases, which county within that state) you live in, you may be experiencing a tremendous sense of freedom compared to the past two months, or little at all. Regardless, in most areas of the country, things certainly aren’t back to normal. And maybe that’s the way it should be.

While the average person would say they’ve missed the lifestyle they enjoyed before COVID-19 came into town, they would probably also readily admit that the “lockdown” has opened their eyes to aspects of their day-to-day life that needed to change, and should continue to be in effect post-COVID. Lessons from the lockdown, if you will. Here are a few to consider:

It’s OK to Eat Out Less and Cook More: The restaurant industry doesn’t want to hear this, but you might have realized cooking your own food is actually enjoyable, less expensive and healthier than eating out. Restaurants have added certain low-calorie, low-fat items to their menus, but when you prepare your own food at home, the world is at your fingertips. Every meal can be a healthy meal because you’re the one designing the menu.

You Don’t Need the Gym: Or at least you don’t need it all the time. When gyms closed down, you panicked, right? How do I stay in shape without my favorite equipment, my favorite elliptical, my “comfort zone”? Then you probably realized, like many others, that staying in shape is a mindset, not a location; and that you actually have more options outside of the gym than any gym can offer. So, you started mixing things up, because you had to: light weights, body weight, bands and balls; plyometrics, outdoor interval sprints, and myriad other exercises you’d ignored in favor of your “go-to” gym equipment. Mixing things up works wonders for two reasons: it shows you that exercise never has to get boring; and it makes your body, your muscles, react to new stimuli, spurring growth and progress.

Sleep Really Does Make a Difference: Sure, you’ve always known it, somewhere deep down inside; but for years, you – like millions of others – haven’t accepted it. So, you’ve burned the perpetual “midnight oil,” getting too little sleep and never making it up; or sleeping poorly, meaning you constantly wake up in the middle of the night, toss and turn; and wake up feeling, well, as if you didn’t sleep at all. During the pandemic, sleep patterns have been disrupted to an unprecedented degree by stress, worry and other factors. It’s impacting your health, just like it always has been, but now, maybe you appreciate the power of sleep enough to ensure you get it. (See “It’s Time for Better Sleep” in this issue for tips.)

We Need More Than Screen Time: Media overload, misinformation, social media gone wild; we’ve seen and heard it all over the past few months. But more than anything, we’ve all spent far more time without the social interaction we all truly need – the non-digital variety. Just ask a teen with a smartphone how they’ve felt lately; after all, isolating themselves and only communicating via social media should be right up their alley. And it is … usually. But reports suggest an increasing number of teens have realized what we all should realize: Technology has its limits when it come to social interaction. We need more. We need the face-to-face (no, not just Zoom or FaceTime); we need to laugh, cry, embrace and share our lives beyond the screen.

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It’s Time for Better Sleep

OK, quick quiz: How much has your sleep been affected during the coronavirus pandemic? We’re not just talking about the amount of sleep; after all, some people may actually be getting more sleep than usual if they’ve been out of work, restricted in where they can go, etc. Then again, losing your job or spending more time glued to the COVID-19 updates on TV or your cellphone probably isn’t helping your stress levels, which isn’t helping you sleep, either.

Here’s question #2: How well are you sleeping? Sleeping for eight hours a night and sleeping well for eight hours are two entirely different things. You can hit the bed at 10 p.m. and roll out of bed at 6 a.m., but those eight hours may have been filled with tossing, turning, stressing, thinking and never getting to the deep, restorative sleep your body and brain need.

If any of the above applies to you, and we’re certain it applies to literally millions of people these days, it’s time to do something about it. It’s time for better sleep. Here’s a simple three-step plan to do it:

1. Tune It Out: We know this can be easier said than done, but we all need to try. Particularly in today’s social-media-driven world, it’s far too easy to get news, opinions, and conversations at your fingertips, 24/7. The more we tune in, the more we take in, obsess about, reflect upon; and all that information stays in our brains, even as we try to get to sleep. Tips: Pick a few times during the day to review the latest news, check your social media, etc. Ignore the rest. Most of all, don’t tune in right before bed, or you’ll be up all night thinking, instead of resting.

2. Block It Out: We live in a fashion-over-function world, and our homes are a great example. We’re inundated with home renovation shows that teach us to crave a certain “look,” even if that look doesn’t deliver the function we need. Does your bedding look amazing … but keep you hot (or cold) all night? Do your window treatments keep your bedroom dark – we mean really dark – all night? Do you have a high-tech flat-screen TV mounted on your bedroom wall … that you tend to watch into the wee hours? Tips: If you’re going to achieve quality sleep, your bedroom has to be a help, not a hindrance. Fashion without function in your bedroom equals restless nights that will compromise your health.

3. Calm It Down: We’ve already told you to tune it out a few hours before bedtime; but you have to take it a big step beyond TV and technology. Much like a car, your body has trouble going from 100 miles an hour to a complete stop; it needs a slow, gradual deceleration. Unfortunately, when it comes to eating and exercise habits, too many people make a similar mistake. Eating or exercising right before bed essentially puts your body into overdrive, rather than slowing it down.

In the case of exercise, your muscles are initiating the repair process, rather than resting. In the case of food, your body is starting the digestion process. Either way, it’s a poor way to wind down. Tips: Try to exercise / eat your last meal of the day at least 2-3 hours before bedtime. Also keep in mind that if your last meal is particularly greasy, fatty, sugary or fibrous, it could compromise sleep before it even gets started.

Sleep is rapidly being recognized as a major factor in overall health and wellness, with chronic poor sleep linked to a higher risk of numerous health issues. But don’t take our word for it; just reflect on how your body feels after a poor night’s sleep. Now extrapolate that to weeks, months or even years of inadequate, poor-quality sleep. Talk to your doctor for more information.

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Good Spinal Health Key to Feeling Great

While we usually talk about the spine as a single part of the body, it’s much more than that. Your spine allows you to do almost everything you do. 

Proper spinal function allows you to do things well – and most of the time, pain-free. Poor spinal function forces you to do things poorly or not at all, not to mention the agony spinal distress can cause.

Consider for a moment everything you did today. Almost every movement you made, from getting out of bed in the morning until you got back into bed at night, required your spine to work in very complex ways that you’ve probably never thought twice about. Not only did your spine perform delicate mechanical functions, but it also facilitated the majority of your nerve function, another aspect of proper spinal function that most people never
consider … until there’s a problem.

Your Spine

Your spine consists of 26 bones, called vertebrae, which run from the “atlas” your head sits on to your “coccyx” or tailbone. These vertebrae essentially stack one on top of the other in your vertebral column, floating on intervertebral discs. Every other bone in your body is attached in some way to your spinal column.

When you move, your spinal column moves in some combination of four ways:FLEXION

  • flexion – bending forward;
  • extension – bending backward;
  • lateral bending – bending from side-to-side;
  • rotation – twisting.

If your spine were just one solid bone, it couldn’t perform any of the variety of body movements; but as a stack of 26 bones, your spinal column can twist and bend to accommodate your every activity. This is accomplished by each spinal segment doing its job. When your spine moves, each movement of your vertebrae is choreographed through the rest of your body via a wonderfully designed system of muscles and ligaments that work together.

our spine also has 31 pairs of spinal nerves that exit at some point from your spinal column.  These delicate spinal nerves can become irritated, or inflammation can occur, when your spine fails to function properly.

These irritations or inflammation are thought to impact the nerve flow to the vital organs throughout your body.

In a healthy spine, each vertebra moves just a little each time you bend or twist. Even when you use your arms and legs, your spine plays a role. When you walk, your spine rotates just enough to allow your feet to move forward without tripping on the ground. The nerves inside and around your spine are protected and function comfortably when your vertebrae move within their normal range.

ROTATIONShould one or more of your vertebrae fail to move (hypomobility), other vertebrae would have to move more than they should (hypermobility) in order to compensate and still allow your body to perform the function it needs. When this happens, the muscles and ligaments connected to your spine can become fatigued and cause you pain. This abnormal movement of your vertebrae will also cause pressure and irritation to your spinal nerves. Should this abnormal movement continue over an extended period of time, more chronic ailments would develop. Your muscles, ligaments, vertebras, discs and organs attached to your spinal nerves would all be adversely affected. These deviations from normal often can be easily corrected with specific spinal manipulations and some helpful guidance on proper exercise.

LATERAL BENDINGListening to Your Body

If you’re listening, your body usually will warn you when your spine is not functioning normally. This warning will come in the form of pain, discomfort, stiffness or a lack of function in your spine or extremities. Rather than address the problem, some people ignore their body’s warnings by taking pain relievers. Others just ignore the pain until their body adapts to the discomfort and the pain goes away. The body puts the spine in a state of spasm to protect the delicate nerves and allow the inflammatory process to subside. Removing the pain often causes more problems because the body’s protective mechanism has been removed. It’s similar to pulling out the wire under the dashboard of your car when a warning light comes on. The light is no longer visible, but the problem remains and will continue to get worse.

Pain is your body’s way of telling you there’s a problem. Reducing the pain doesn’t necessarily address the problem. A problem ignored is a problem that will only become worse. The time to act is when you first begin to feel pain or discomfort, before it becomes chronic and much

In the case of nonsurgical spine ailments, the most qualified health care provider is the doctor of chiropractic or “chiropractor,” as they are sometimes called.Doctors of chiropractic are trained in an eight-year program of undergraduate and professional college study that includes a clinical internship. Their clinical and educational focus is specifically oriented toward spine-related ailments. The profession has elected to remain a nondrug, nonsurgical approach to dealing with spinal ailments.

Maintaining Good Spinal Health

As with all parts of your body, there are things you can do to maintain a healthy spine. Here are four of the best:

Nutritional Supplements – Vitamins, minerals and herbs can provide the essential nutrition needed for your diet and lifestyle. Proper nutrition is essential, particularly for women and seniors. Your doctor can help you decide your body’s supplemental requirements.

Posture – How you sit, stand, walk and sleep does matter. You train the muscles that ultimately impact your musculoskeletal system. Correct posture enables your body to function more effectively and more efficiently. Being aware of your posture can improve your spinal health and make you more attractive.

Flexibility – Your body develops under the law of demand and supply. Whatever you demand from your body, the body will develop to supply. If you run a mile a day, your body will strengthen muscles, lengthen tendons and enhance your air intake so the run will become easier and faster. You should take time each day to flex your spine in all four directions: forward, backward, side-to-side and twisting both ways. By doing so, you will maintain the movement of each vertebra. This also is a good way to determine if you have a loss of spinal function.

Spinal Checkups – Just like your teeth, your spine needs to be examined to determine if spinal dysfunction is present, particularly after stressful events, accidents or overworking the spine and musculature. Seniors, active adults and growing children should be examined at least quarterly. Doctors of chiropractic can perform spinal examinations quickly to determine any malfunction of the spine.

Quality of life is defined as your ability to do the things that make life a joy to live. Proper spinal function affects everything your body does. As you can see, there are a number of things you can do to help maintain good spinal hygiene.

When you do experience pain, recognize that your body is communicating a problem and address that problem immediately. Just as your teeth need regular brushing and a regular appointment with your dentist, your spine needs good nutrition, posture, flexibility and a periodic spinal checkup. It’s the way to your highest quality of life.

By Donald Petersen Jr.

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Step Up the Competition

Weight loss is the buzzword in health care that isn’t going away, guaranteed. That’s because too many people want – or need – to lose weight, and permanent, healthy weight loss is often a supreme struggle to attain. We won’t delve into the reasons why it’s such a challenge in this article; instead, let’s explore one way people can overcome those challenges and achieve a healthy weight – and just as importantly, maintain it.

Counting steps is a popular way to ensure you’re staying physically active every day (and burning calories in the process); but participating in competitions designed to increase movement is an even better way, suggests research. Overweight or obese people who participate in step-counting competitions log more steps than people who track their own activity without any competition involved.

In the study, findings from which appear in JAMA Internal Medicine, a journal of the American Medical Association, researchers grouped 602 overweight adults from 40 states into one of three competition arms or a control arm. Members of the competition arms participated in different games designed to inspire more movement; members of the control arm counted steps, but not as part of a competition.

After 24 weeks, competition participants had completed significantly more steps than control participants. Twelve weeks later, they still had significantly increased step counts compared with people in the control group.

The moral to the story: A little competition can go a long way … especially when it comes to physical activity and weight loss. Talk to your doctor to learn more about how you can achieve the healthy body you deserve.

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Even Toddlers Get Too Much Screen Time

By Editorial Staff

We’ve spoken at length about the amount of time adolescents, teens and yes, adults spend consumed with “screen” activities – television, computer / laptop, tablet and mobile phone. We’ve also talked about some of the health risks associated with excessive use, particularly in children, including musculoskeletal pain, lower test scores and even expression of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms.

Unfortunately, the negative health impact of excessive screen time starts can start young – very young. Recent research suggests toddlers who spend too much time in front of TVs, tablets and smartphones are more likely to suffer when it comes to problem-solving, communication and similar skills when they get to kindergarten.

Published in JAMA Pediatrics, the study found that 2-year-olds with more screen time than their peers were more likely to score lower on developmental screening tests at age 3 compared to 2-year-olds with less screen time. Researchers noted the same pattern when comparing screen time at age 3 with developmental tests at age 5. Screening tests at both ages evaluated markers such as communication, fine and gross motor skills, social skills and problem-solving abilities.

By the way, children participating in the study averaged 17 hours of weekly screen time at age 2 and 25 hours a week at age 3. Compare that with the seven-hour weekly limit (one hour a day) advised by the American Academy of Pediatrics, and it’s clear children of all ages – and adults – have a major screen time problem. Click here for great ways to limit screen time, even in our technology-based world.

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Time for a Little “Me Time”

At what point did your life become more about everyone else – work, family, etc. – and far too little about you? It’s OK to be selfish when it comes to your health; after all, if you lose your health, you won’t have the ability to do all the things you do for all the people in your life. So take a little “me time” with these tips to get away from your busy day (week, month, year, life) and focus on becoming a healthier you:

1. Hit the Road: We talk a lot about the benefits of working out at home, but the disadvantage to that strategy is that unless you have a dedicated gym space, away from the hustle and bustle of the family, you never really get to enjoy you own private time. So schedule gym time 3-4 times a week and stick to it; that hour or so out of the house (even when surrounded by other gym enthusiasts) will feel like a refreshing, reinvigorating break from the daily household grind.

2. Wind Down: Even the busiest day can end the right way if you plan for it. Dedicate a good 45-60 minutes every night to an activity of your choosing that not only gets you “away from it all,” but also allows you time to wind down, relax and prepare for restful slumber. Prepare a hot bath, read a good book, do some yoga, or even just take a brisk solo walk and “discuss your day” with.

me time - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark

3. Make a Plan: Dinner and the movies is a great plan that too often stays a great plan, rather than manifesting into reality. So schedule a date night and make it happen. Even the act of scheduling will do wonders for your day. Once you know it’s on the calendar, you’ll look forward to it – and worry less about the hectic moments in between.

4. Keep Learning: When we’re young, we’re always learning – new activities, new projects, new information. But somehow after a certain age, we’re too likely to stick to the “same old, same old.” That leads to boredom, burnout and dissatisfaction with the state of affairs. The solution? Try something new! Whether it’s a new hobby, a new jogging route or a new certification to take your career to the next level, you’ll be amazed how good you’ll feel.

We all need more “me time” in this crazy, overworked world – so make sure you’re getting enough. If not, you could pay the emotional and physical consequences.

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A Deadly Way to Manage Your Pain

You’re probably aware of the opioid crisis by now, notably the fact that for years, opioids have been overprescribed, overused and abused – with deadly consequences. Here’s one consequence you may not be aware of: Opioid users are significantly more likely to be involved in fatal car crashes than non-users. Let’s look at the latest evidence suggesting opioids are actually your No. 1 enemy when it comes to managing pain.

Drivers prescribed opioids are more than twice as likely to be involved in deadly two-vehicle accidents compared to drivers not prescribed opioids. In reviewing data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System, researchers analyzed two-vehicle crashes on U.S. public roads that took place over a 25-plus-year period (1993-2016), including whether drivers had tested positive for prescription opioids. Among 36,642 drivers involved in 18,321 fatal two-vehicle crashes during that time period, drivers who were deemed the initiator of the crash were significantly more likely to test positive for opioids than non-culpable drivers.

opioids - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark

The most common reason for crashes by opioid users (more than half of all fatal crashes): failure to keep in the proper lane. These findings were independent of any alcohol or other drug use, implicating opioids as the primary culprit. Even worse: Although opioid awareness (including studies such as this one) will hopefully make a dent in these horrific statistics in years to come, researchers, summarizing their findings in JAMA Network Open, noted that in the past two decades, when opioid prescribing flourished, “the prevalence of prescription opioids detected in fatally injured drivers has steadily increased to more than 7%” (compared to only 1 percent in the mid-1990s).

The lessons: 1) Opioids are a deadly way to manage your pain. 2) Non-drug pain management options (such as chiropractic care) should be your first choice, not your last. Talk to your doctor for more information about the opioid crisis and why chiropractic care is becoming the first choice for effective pain management.

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