Why Chiropractic Is Your Best Option for Pain

Pain is a major problem, but so is medication use to help relieve the pain. If you haven’t realized by now that chiropractic care, not drugs, is your best option for pain, perhaps you’ll be swayed by some recent research. Let’s take a quick look at two studies in particular. Follow along and see how the latest research supports our conclusion. It’s not too late to avoid the pain-reliever epidemic. It’s never too late to choose chiropractic.

First, a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Aleve) and other commonly administered pain relievers are more effective than opioids for relieving chronic back, knee and hip pain. NSAIDs also win out over opioids in terms of reducing limitations in the ability to perform activities of daily living (walking, working, sleeping, etc.). So, point #1: Opioids aren’t your best option for pain.

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But neither are NSAIDs, at least when compared to chiropractic, according to a study that also appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Chiropractic spinal manipulation reduced pain and improved function in back pain patients after six weeks of treatment, and results were similar to that achieved with NSAID use – but without the side effects and other risksassociated with medication use (particularly use for more than 10 days at a time). So, point #2: NSAIDs aren’t your best option, either.

Point #3 should be clear by now: When it comes to pain relief, chiropractic care is the effective, safe option to turn to first – a point emphasized by an increasing number of major health care organizations these days. Talk to your doctor about the risks associated with opioids and other pain relievers, and why chiropractic care is the natural, drug-free first choice. Make the right choice … choose chiropractic today.

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Help Your Doctor Help You

In health care, a patient’s history is divided into five categories: history of the present illness (HPI), review of systems, past history, family history and social history. Each category plays a role in your health to varying degrees based on your health presentation at the time of the visit.The order of these categories is important because the history is recorded from “now” and then moves backward. The History of the Present illness (HPI) is the “now” portion of the history and the basis for all health histories. This category seeks several pieces of information:

Items to Include in a History of Present Illness

  • Location of symptoms (where it hurts)
  • How and when the symptoms began
  • Quality of symptoms (what it feels like: achy, sharp, burning etc.)
  • Severity of symptoms (usually listed as the degree of pain on a scale of 0 through 10)
  • Duration of the symptoms (when it started)
  • Timing of the symptoms (how much of the day are symptoms present, what times of day)
  • Context of the symptoms (circumstances associated with the symptoms)
  • Modifying factors for the symptoms (what makes the symptoms better or worse)
  • Associated signs and symptoms for the current problem (any other problems)

It is important to start with the HPI because your doctor wants to help you with the current complaint, and previous events may or may not be related to current problems. Also, it is usually easier to provide your doctor with information about “now.”

It is often difficult for a doctor to work from the distant past forward. Many patients cannot remember details about previous doctors, hospitals, testing facilities, diagnoses, medications or procedures. This limits the accuracy of the information provided and makes it difficult to access previous records.

Previous history information is important, but many doctors obtain the information utilizing paperwork completed by patients as they initially enter the office. This allows the doctor to spend more time focusing on “now.”

After the information is gathered, the doctor can review the information prior to entering the exam room. Once in the room, the doctor can focus on the HPI and then cover information emphasized on the forms you have already completed.

Most health care providers request that patients come in prior to their scheduled appointment time to complete paperwork. For example, a doctor might schedule a new patient from 10:00 to 10:30 a.m., but ask that the patient be at the office by 9:30 am.

If a patient does not arrive when requested or shows up at the actual appointment time or later, everything is delayed. The patient’s appointment runs behind and this carries over to other patient appointments.

To avoid this scenario, many doctors often mail paperwork to patients prior to their appointment or post the forms on their website. Under some circumstances, a nurse or assistant may call and obtain the information over the phone. These processes are a tremendous help to the doctor and ultimately the patient.

There are other techniques that can help with initial paperwork. With the availability of computers, tablets, smartphones etc., it is easy for you to keep a detailed personal medical history at your fingertips. Here are the categories of information contained in a personal health history. This information can be printed to give to your doctor at the time of the appointment or transferred to the doctor electronically:

Items to Include in Your Personal Health History

  • Diagnosed ongoing medical conditions (usually permanent conditions such as diabetes, heart disease etc.)
  • Current medications and supplements (name, dosage, number of times per day, prescribing doctor)
  • Previous surgical procedures with approximate dates
  • Previous hospitalizations
  • Previous injuries
  • Allergies
  • Blood type
  • Demographic information (full name, phone, address, e-mail, emergency contact etc.)
  • Insurance information (employer, company name, group number, policy number, ID number, effective date, phone numbers)

It must be noted that there is one piece of information from your History of Present Illness that is often difficult for patients to list properly. It is the “how and when” related to the beginning of symptoms.

When a doctor reads the initial paperwork and the patient described the onset of their problem as, “Falling out of a truck in 1994,” the doctor knows they may have difficulty obtaining the patient’s history accurately in a timely manner. The accident described is a major point to consider but, as stated earlier, a previous injury may or may not have something to do with current symptoms.

Because there may not be a direct relationship between previous and current symptoms, it may be best to list the beginning of your “current” complaints in one of these time frames; when the symptoms appeared, when the symptoms became worse, when the symptoms became bad enough to seek help or as the day of the appointment. This usually establishes the onset within a reasonable time frame and any links to previous episodes can be traced back as needed.

So, before your next appointment, record your own health history and history of present illness. Be prepared to provide it in print or electronically to the doctor, be early to the appointment as requested and complete the necessary paperwork. Once the doctor has this information, they can address your current complaints in a faster and more efficient manner.

By K. Jeffrey Miller, DC, MBA

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Stress and Back Pain: The Link

Stress is a part of life, and so is back pain. Ironically, stress is a leading cause of episodic back pain. Your body experiences a cascade of physiological responses during chronic stress setting the stage for injury. The human body is genetically programmed to respond to stressful situations by stimulation in a survival part of your brain known as the limbic system. Otherwise known as the reptilian or primal brain, it is responsible for the emotional “flight or fight” (run or stand and fight) response to negative stimuli. Your brain response functions the same in stressful situations regardless of the source and extent of the threatening stimuli. The limbic brain does not recognize differences between types and degrees of stress. It simply reacts. Your body releases hormones (chemical messengers) which cause a physical reaction to stress; shortness of breath, sweating, increased heart rate, muscle tension, tightness or stiffness in joints, etc., in preparation for survival reaction. So whether you are about to be chased by a rabid dog, cut off in traffic, or had a tough day at work the same response occurs. The same negative physical impact also occurs on the body. There are several different types of stress and learning how to control them can make all the difference. You have physical stress (lack of exercise, illness, sleep habits, etc), mental stress (how you deal emotionally with life) and chemical stress (nutritional and environmental).

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Stress alters breathing patterns by causing you to breathe more from the chest/lungs than the diaphragm. This altered pattern increases tension in the neck and upper back leading to poor posture, muscle tightness and headaches. The diaphragm is a dome shaped muscle that sits in the lower part of the ribcage underneath the lungs. Optimal breathing patterns should occur from the diaphragm first, followed by the lungs. Most often people have dysfunctional patterns where this sequence is reversed. Breathing is the foundation for relaxation. Learn to control your breathing and you will have discovered a secret weapon of relaxation and stress reduction. To check your breathing pattern lie on your back with knees bent. Close your eyes and place one hand on your abdomen and the other on your chest. Take a deep breath in through your nose. The lower hand should move first and the upper hand second. If the upper hand moves first you have an altered breathing pattern. Luckily it is fairly easy to learn how to breathe again properly. In our quick tip help guide below you will learn how to restore normal breathing patterns.

Stress increases tension in the body 24/7. It is like flipping the light switch on for self- protection, muscle tension and tightness. Think about how stiff and tight you feel when walking across ice. Your body tenses up in anticipation of falling and is trying to protect you from injury. Imagine how your muscles would feel if you were in this constant state of tension for weeks at a time. It would not feel good! That is what chronic stress is doing. Stress increases production of specific hormones known as cortisol and adrenaline located in the adrenal glands. These are two small glands that rest on top of the kidneys, one on either side. Cortisol is nicknamed the “stress hormone” and it can cause many negative reactions in the body if it is unbalanced. Chronically elevated levels of cortisol and adrenaline will cause increased inflammation in the body. In essence, your own body begins to turn on itself.

So what are some simple and effective tips you can start doing today to help alleviate stress? Below are suggestions for helping physical, mental and environmental stress in your life.

Nutrition: Eat healthy and eat often to control blood sugar levels. When you wait long periods between meals, you have a spike of a hormone known as insulin. This hormone controls how fast sugar enters your bloodstream after eating. Big surges in insulin occur when you wait too long between meals which may increase stress on your body chemistry. You can get cravings and mood swings. Eating only three meals a day is insufficient in keeping this delicate balance of hormones in check. It is recommended to eat three meals a day, mixed in with 2-3 healthy snacks. You will notice a renewed sense of energy and vitality with regular feedings.

Mental: Take some “me” time every morning before you start the day. Use this time to reflect on yesterday and plan out today’s events. With the craziness of non-stop information overload in today’s society it’s more important than ever to take quiet moments. Set your alarm 15-minutes early and wake up to silence. Do not turn on the television or open the newspaper. You may find that problems which have plagued you suddenly become more manageable and put into perspective. When was the last time you sat in a room without white noise all around? Try it and see what happens.

Physical: Learning how to breathe with your diaphragm takes some practice, but in time it will become second nature. Practice the following technique on a daily basis for 3-5minutes. Lie on your back, putting a pillow support under your knees to relax your lower back. Place one hand on your abdomen and the other on your chest. Slowly inhale through your nose and make sure the only hand to move is the one on your abdomen. Try to keep the hand on your chest as still as possible. Exhale through pursed lips and repeat. You may become temporarily lightheaded after your first few, but this is a normal response to the increase in oxygen uptake by the body. Do this before bed time and you will have a more restful sleep leading increased recovery and regeneration.

You do have power over your body. Simple changes in your life to help reduce stress can have a profound impact on your health. Take back control of your life from pain. Empower yourself to feel good again mentally and physically. Start with the simple strategies above and when you feel the positive difference you will want more for yourself.

To decrease the stress in your life, talk to your chiropractor about your concerns.

By Perry Nickelston, DC, FMS, SFMA

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Why You Should Be Making Periodic Visits to Your Chiropractor

When you experience back pain, chiropractic care can help relieve the pain and identify the underlying cause. But your care shouldn’t stop once the pain stops (or comes back, which can frequently happen). A new study suggests maintenance chiropractic care (defined by the researchers as “treatment at regular intervals regardless of symptoms”) is more effective than symptomatic treatment (receiving chiropractic treatment only when you’re experiencing pain).

In the study, patients with recurrent / persistent low back pain who received maintenance care (scheduled every 1-3 months) after their initial treatment reported an average of 19.3 less days of “bothersome” low back pain over a 12-month period compared to patients who received only symptomatic chiropractic care. Overall, during the 12-month period, maintenance care patients made seven visits, on average, to their chiropractor, versus five visits, on average, for symptomatic patients.

So, if you’re suffering low back pain and your chiropractor suggests you come in periodically for treatment, you may want to heed his/her advice. It’s a research-supported suggestion that could dramatically reduce the amount of time you spend in pain.

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Why Opioids Became an Epidemic and How Chiropractors Can Solve It

Need another reason to avoid opioids and embrace drugless options such as chiropractic care for pain relief (not to mention pain prevention)? Try money and manipulation – both used shamelessly by opioid manufacturers to fuel the opioid epidemic, which costs nearly 100 Americans their lives every day.While growing awareness of the opioid crisis has spurred ongoing changes at both the policy and practice level, it might not have been necessary if not for the relationship between opioid manufacturers and advocacy groups, according to a shocking new report from the U.S. Senate Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee.

Evidence That Can’t Be Ignored

Fueling an Epidemic: Exposing the Financial Ties Between Opioid Manufacturers and Third-Party Advocacy Groups “provides the first comprehensive snapshot of the financial connections between opioid manufacturers and advocacy groups and professional societies operating in the area of opioids policy,” according to the executive summary, which outlines the disturbing nature of the “connections” and their impact on the opioid epidemic:

“Disclosures from Purdue Pharma L.P., Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Mylan N.V., Depomed, Inc., and Insys Therapeutics, Inc. … describe nearly $9 million in payments from these manufacturers to 14 outside groups working on chronic pain and other opioid-related issues between 2012 and 2017. In addition, physicians affiliated with these groups accepted more than $1.6 million in payments from the five manufacturers between 2013 and the present.”

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“Initiatives from the groups in this report often echoed and amplified messages favorable to increased opioid use — and ultimately, the financial interests of opioid manufacturers. These groups have issued guidelines and policies minimizing the risk of opioid addiction and promoting opioids for chronic pain, lobbied to change laws directed at curbing opioid use, and argued against accountability for physicians and industry executives responsible for overprescription and misbranding.”

Why Chiropractic Matters More Than Ever

If there’s any possible upside to the opioid epidemic, it’s that the crisis is now front and center. Policy- and practice-level changes are being implemented to replace prescription pain-relief medications such as opioids with safer alternatives as the first option – including chiropractic care. Of course, chiropractors have always practiced drugless care and provided effective, natural pain relief for a variety of conditions. Now, they’re being increasingly recognized for that care not only on its own merits, but as a better, safer option that can save lives by helping patients avoid opioids – and the horrible conspiracy that fueled their use and abuse. Chiropractors didn’t cause the opioid crisis, but they sure can help end it. Talk to your chiropractor for more information.

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Easy Exercises for Ankle Sprains

Ankle sprains can sideline you for a few days, a few weeks or even longer, depending on the severity, but at some point, after the swelling subsides, it’s important to initiate simple movement strategies to help stretch the area and strengthen it so the injury won’t repeat itself.Fortunately, the most common exercises recommended by experts, including the American Academy of Family Physicians, are simple to understand and easy to perform. Believe it or not, the key to getting back on your feet isn’t just to immobilize the ankle; it’s actually to do the opposite: get it moving again and hopefully restore pain-free, strong range of motion again. Here are a few of the best exercises to get you started:

For Range of Motion

  • Use a towel or band to pull the foot toward the face in a non-gravity position (lying down). Hold a pain-free stretch for 15-30 seconds; repeat four more times. Repeat exercise 3-5 times a day.
  • Stand with heels on floor and bend at knees. Hold a pain-free stretch for 15-30 seconds. Perform five repetitions; repeat exercise 3-5 times a day.
  • Draw letters of the alphabet (lowercase and uppercase) with affected foot. Repeat 4-5 times a day.
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For Strengthening

  • Using wall, floor or opposite foot for resistance: push foot downward, pull foot upward, push foot inward and outward. Hold each position for 5 seconds, do 10 repetitions for each position, and repeat entire exercise sequence three times a day.
  • With affected foot on towel, curl toes to move towel toward body. Perform 10 repetitions, twice a day. Can also curl toes throughout day during normal activities.
  • Use toes of affected foot to pick up marbles or similar objects from floor. Perform 10 repetitions, twice a day.
  • Walk forward and backward on toes and heels. Perform 10 repetitions of each direction (as tolerated); repeat twice per day.

Keep in mind that depending on the severity of the sprain and the types of activities you perform, you’ll need to progress from these exercises to maneuvers that re-establish balance, postural control and a full functional return to activity. That means you’ll need to build up to running / cutting / moving just like you did prior to the injury.

Also keep in mind that chiropractic care can be a great option as well, which your doctor of chiropractic can discuss with you along with the tips mentioned above. Click here for a great article on conservative care for ankle sprains that highlights exercise options and the potential for chiropractic care to assist in the rehab process.

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Science Lesson: Why Chiropractic Can Relieve Your Low Back Pain

Doctors of chiropractic are known for treating low back pain – and preventing its recurrence – and recent research emphasizes the science underlying their effectiveness. A recent study suggests chiropractic care (spinal manipulation) can reduce LBP, but it also suggests chiropractic can increase spinal disc height.

Why is that important? Well, loss of intervertebral disc height is one of the traits of low back pain. Discs are the ligaments between the bony vertebrae that act as shock absorbers for the spine. As we get older, our discs have a tendency to get smaller, which can lead to all kinds of problems, including pain. Fortunately, as this study suggests, chiropractic can help.

That’s good to know no matter your age and the condition of your spine. Talk to your doctor of chiropractic for more information. A healthy spine means a healthy you!

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A Better Life With Chiropractic

Why take your kids to the chiropractor? For many of the same reasons every adult should be visiting a chiropractor on a regular basis. Plain and simple, your quality of life improves with chiropractic care. Look no further than a study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, which evaluated nearly 900 children ages 8-17 who received chiropractic spinal adjustments and related therapies commonly provided by DCs.Quality of life, measured in terms of depression, anxiety and interference with daily activities due to pain as part of the Patient Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS)-25 assessment tool, was significantly higher in children under the care of a chiropractor. Specifically, children were significantly less likely to report any symptoms of depression, anxiety or pain interference following a trial of chiropractic care. The researchers also accounted for variables that could have influenced the outcomes, such as number of visits, pain level, motivation for care, etc.Give your children (and yourself) a better life with chiropractic. The sooner your kids experience the health and wellness benefits of regular chiropractic care, the better. After all, what parent doesn’t want their children to grow up with as little depression, anxiety and pain as possible? Talk to your chiropractor for more information. To learn more about chiropractic for kids, including additional research documenting the safety and health benefits of pediatric chiropractic, visit the website of the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association (ICPA).

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Lower Extremity Injuries: Know the Risks

It’s been estimated that sports-related injuries cost up to $1 billion annually worldwide. In the U.S. alone, between 3 million and 5 million sports-related injuries occur each year; most are injuries to the ankle, knee and lower leg – a region generally termed the “lower extremity.”

So, what increases the risk of suffering a lower extremity injury, and how can you prevent or reduce the risk of getting hurt? 

Researchers in Vermont set out to answer these questions by reviewing several previous studies, and found approximately 20 factors that can contribute to lower extremity injuries. Among the most common factors are: age; history of previous injury; body size (including the size of a person’s limb); muscle strength; the type of shoe being used while performing an activity; whether the person is using any type of ankle wrap or bracing; and playing surface. All of these factors can determine, positively or negatively, the degree to which a person might sustain a lower extremity injury while playing sports.

Few practitioners know how to diagnose and treat lower extremity injuries better than a doctor of chiropractic. If you suspect you have an injury, or if you’re involved in an organized sport or other type of regular physical activity, and want more information on preventing these types of injuries from occurring, schedule an appointment with a DC. You chiropractor can create an exercise plan that maximizes your fitness level while minimizing the risk of injury.

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Wincing while You Work

After a long day of repetitive work, you may experience pain in your neck and shoulder muscles. This pain can result from muscle and tissue overuse, or from psychological factors, such as low social support, job dissatisfaction, and low individual job control.

In a study published in the journal Spine, researchers evaluated risk factors for neck or shoulder pain and tenderness in over 3,000 workers at 19 production plants. Workers performing nonrepetitive tasks were used as a comparison group.

Almost twice as many workers performing repetitive work (7%) had neck or shoulder pain with muscle tenderness, compared to the comparison group (less than 4%). Pain was strongly linked to a decreased quality of life. Factors associated with neck or shoulder pain were previous injury, high repetitiveness, high force, female gender, and high job demands.

If your job involves repetitive or heavy work, you are especially susceptible to developing work-related neck or shoulder pain. Be sure to follow proper procedures to avoid injury, and talk to your chiropractor about what he or she can do to minimize the pain — and the risk of developing it.

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