June 18, 2013
Sprains, strains and lower back pain are very, very common among cheerleaders. In fact, the National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury Research lists cheerleading as the most dangerous sport for women. Anyone who watches elite cheerleaders in action, either during a game or at competitions, has some idea why this might be.
Cheerleading is a very physically demanding sport, particularly when participants perform routines that involve gymnastics or acrobatics or execute maneuvers that require them to support a lot of weight. Performing well as a cheerleader requires excellent balance, strength and range of motion. Chiropractic care can help prevent injuries and—when they do happen—can help cheerleaders recover more quickly.
In fact, chiropractic has made such a difference in professional cheerleading that the Washington Redskins Cheerleaders joined the Foundation for Chiropractic Progress to let others know how much chiropractic care helps both their performance and their musculoskeletal health. Both cheerleader training and the performances during the game take a toll on the body. Redskins cheerleader Amanda Mitchell says, “People don’t view cheerleading as a competitive sport, but you have to try out every single year in this industry and it takes a large toll on your body. Without chiropractic care I would not have made it past my first year. After receiving treatment, I began to notice the pain starting to subside as well as improvement in flexibility during performances.”
And when injuries occur—and they are very common among cheerleaders—getting back in condition as soon as possible is important. Professional cheerleaders find that with the help of chiropractic care they can be back in performance mode much faster. According to Redskins cheerleader Chelsea Causey, “I’ve experienced multiple injuries during my career as a cheerleader—everything from pulled hamstrings to sprains and even lower back pain—setbacks that chiropractic care has always helped me recover from.”
Studies show that chiropractic is an effective tool to prevent and treat sports-related injuries. One study published in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics was performed by Dr. Jay Greenstein and colleagues on 43 professional football cheerleaders who underwent a season-long chiropractic hamstring intervention. Hamstring and other lower body strains account for half of all cheerleading injuries. Greenstein notes that “After the season closed, we found that those who had reported hamstring injury-related pain between June and September showed a significant decrease in pain after receiving treatment.”
Dr. Alex Vidan, chiropractor to the St. Louis Rams cheerleaders says, “The benefits of chiropractic treatment are felt immediately. Along with providing relief from pain, chiropractic also facilitates healing, which means there’s less downtime after an injury.” He added, “The squad performs a lot more than people think, making special appearances, and there’s a lot of travel involved, all of which can take their toll physically. The Rams cheerleaders, like many others, have found that chiropractic methods, which are gentle and noninvasive, offer relief and foster sound physical health.”
June 3, 2013
Damage to any part of the peripheral nervous system can interfere with the messages being sent from the body to the brain and spinal cord, causing a host of unpleasant symptoms such as pain, tingling, numbness and weakness in the affected area. Whether it’s damage to a single nerve (as in carpal tunnel syndrome) or an entire nerve group, peripheral neuropathy can cause serious problems.
Peripheral neuropathy has a range of causes. One of the most common is diabetes; continuous high levels of blood sugar cause at least half of those with diabetes to suffer from some type of peripheral neuropathy. Other causes are an autoimmune disease such as Guillain-Barré syndrome, lupus or rheumatoid arthritis, nerve pressure or trauma, vitamin deficiency (particularly B-vitamins), alcoholism, exposure to toxins such as heavy metals, and other diseases such as that of the liver and kidneys or an underactive thyroid.
The symptoms and severity of peripheral neuropathy vary, depending on which nerves are affected. The first signs are often a tingling or burning sensation originating in the arms or legs, particularly in the feet and toes. This may also include numbness to the point where you do not notice stepping on something sharp or burning your fingers on the stove. Other symptoms include weakness and lack of coordination. This causes some people to trip or fall often, when they find their legs suddenly buckling under them. When nerves connected to the digestive system are damaged, it can cause problems with digestion, including feeling bloated, heartburn, vomiting, diarrhea and constipation. Peripheral neuropathy can also contribute to incontinence, impotence and heart problems.
The best treatment is prevention, so if you have diabetes (or even if you don’t), try to control your blood sugar as much as possible and eat a healthy diet full of vegetables, fruit, whole grains and lean protein. Eating well can also provide you with healthy B-vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids that support the nervous system. Drink alcohol in moderation or get treatment if alcohol is a problem for you.
If you have peripheral neuropathy, in addition to the suggestions above, there are a few treatments that are effective, depending on the severity of your condition. Rest is a good place to start, especially in cases of neuropathy due to repetitive motion, such as carpal tunnel syndrome. The periodic application of ice in cases such as these is often helpful to bring down the inflammation that is causing pressure on the nerves. Exercise and massage both promote circulation and stimulate the nerves, and exercise also helps to control blood sugar levels. Be sure to wear shoes that are not too tight and examine your feet on a regular basis for blisters, calluses or cuts so they do not become infected. Regular visits to your chiropractor can also provide relief from pain and help speed healing.
Though peripheral neuropathy is never fun, it can be managed so you can live a relatively pain-free life.
If you have questions, visit our Castro Valley chiropractic care office or call (510) 247-1272.
April 19, 2013
A regular visit to your chiropractor is one of the best things you can do to eliminate chronic neck and back pain and to maintain flexibility and range of motion. Your chiropractor will design a treatment plan specific to your particular needs that will include not only chiropractic adjustments, but also suggestions for appropriate exercises and nutritional changes you can make that will enhance the effectiveness of your treatments. There are a few things that everyone can do to make their chiropractic treatments even more effective.
Be specific about your symptoms – In order for your chiropractor to recommend the most effective therapy or combination of therapies for your particular situation, you need to be as specific as possible about your symptoms. Since chiropractic is a holistic form of healing (meaning that all aspects of a person’s health and lifestyle are taken into consideration when developing a treatment plan), it’s important to mention every symptom you have. This is true even if you feel that some of your symptoms may be unrelated or insignificant. Based on what you tell your chiropractor as well as diagnostic tests performed in the office, he or she will be able to decide which types of treatment may be most appropriate for your condition. Treatment plans may include chiropractic adjustments, joint mobilization, soft tissue techniques, therapeutic exercise and nutritional changes as well as other types of specialized therapies.
Keep moving – One of the main aims of chiropractic care is to maintain flexibility and range of motion. As the old saying goes, “Use it or lose it.” Chiropractic has been shown to be most effective when combined with regular exercise, and the effects of treatment last longer. Muscle strengthening and stretching exercises will provide the necessary support to the spine that will help to keep it from going out of alignment as easily. By following your chiropractor’s exercise suggestions between adjustments, your function will be restored more quickly, and you will gain confidence in your ability to move in ways that would have been too painful before your chiropractic treatment. With your newly enhanced flexibility, try to get out on a walk, hike or bike ride.
Consider massage – Therapeutic massage is often used in conjunction with chiropractic care. It shares with chiropractic the desire to enhance the circulation of blood and fluids and to restore the free flow of nerve impulses. Massage can break up adhesions in the fascia that keep your muscles from moving properly. Massage can also help to release muscle tension and warm up the areas around a spinal subluxation, making your joints more pliable and easier to adjust. However, keep in mind that not all chiropractors agree about the relative benefits massage before an adjustment. Some chiropractors prefer to get an accurate picture of your normal physiological state prior to performing an adjustment, so be sure to check with your own chiropractor before having a pre-adjustment massage.
Incorporating these suggestions into your regular chiropractic treatment regime can help you to make the most of each adjustment and make a significant impact on your quality of life.
April 10, 2013
Impingement syndrome is a painful condition that affects the shoulder, and is often seen in adults over the age of 50. It may also affect those who engage in activities that require them to repeatedly raise their arms over their heads, such as playing tennis, swimming, or working in careers that require them to reach up to retrieve or lift items above their heads.
It is caused by wear or injury to the rotator cuff muscles that surround and support the shoulder joint. When the muscles and tendons of the shoulder become worn, they respond by swelling, which (because they are surrounded by bone) causes compression and a loss of blood flow to the entire area. This in turn causes the muscle tissue of the shoulder to begin to degrade, in effect to fray like a rope. As a result, movements such as reaching up behind the back or lifting the arm over the head become painful, and shoulder motion becomes restricted. This may be accompanied by an increasing weakness of the shoulder muscles.
The pain of shoulder impingement syndrome is most often experienced as a sharp burning sensation when you move your arms and shoulder. One test performed by chiropractors to detect this syndrome is to have you raise your arm to the side, similar to performing “jumping jacks.” If pain occurs, that may be an indication of impingement. The pain is often felt on the outer side of the shoulder and upper arm. Another key symptom of this condition is waking up with pain after sleeping on your side, regardless of which side you sleep on.
Shoulder impingement syndrome is treated by medical doctors with painkillers and anti-inflammatory medications (and in severe cases with surgery), but there are more conservative, non-invasive treatments available. Several studies have shown that chiropractic manipulation, in conjunction with standard medical treatments, produces much faster and more complete relief from impingement syndrome pain than medical treatment alone.
A Doctor of Chiropractic, after performing a thorough examination to make sure that the condition is in fact shoulder impingement syndrome and not a more serious injury or condition, can prescribe a series of treatments aimed at achieving several goals. First, because the shoulder and arm are connected to the spine, the chiropractor may perform spinal adjustments to eliminate structural abnormalities that are causing or perpetuating the wear and tear on the shoulder joints. At the same time, your chiropractor may treat the muscles of the shoulder and arm with cross friction massage or with electro-stimulation therapy to relax them, and thus to improve mobility of the shoulder joints and arms. Chiropractors can also recommend home care activities and exercises to strengthen the shoulder girdle muscles and prevent further pain as the result of upward movements of the arm.
February 28, 2013
What Are “Pins and Needles”?
Everyone has experienced the sensation of “pins and needles” in their limbs at one point or another in their lives. It is a very common occurrence characterized by a sensation of tingling, pricking, burning or numbness in the extremities, commonly referred to as having a limb that has “fallen asleep.” Its medical term is paresthesia, and in most people it is a temporary condition. However, some people experience this feeling on a regular basis. This can be an indicator of several underlying medical conditions, some serious and some less so.
Pins and needles happens most often when prolonged pressure is applied to the arms or legs (such as when kneeling on the ground). This in turn applies pressure on the nerves and reduces the supply of blood to the limbs. The pressure and lack of blood inhibits the nerves from sending messages to the brain. Then when you change positions the pressure on the nerves is released and blood flow returns to normal. This results in messages from the nerves flooding the brain, causing the pricking and tingling sensation we’re all familiar with.
Chronic paresthesia is due to a problem with neuron function. There can be many causes for this, ranging from a vitamin deficiency to an autoimmune disease. It can also be caused by a pinched nerve or an injury to the nerves from disease or accident. Paresthesia is common in the elderly, who often have reduced circulation in conjunction with a tendency toward vitamin B12 deficiency. As B12 must be absorbed by the gut, its absorption becomes more difficult as we age and our digestive enzymes are not as strong as they once were.
Among other conditions that a pins and needles sensation may indicate are diabetes, alcoholism, compressed nerves, carpal tunnel syndrome, spinal disc herniation, menopause, heavy metal poisoning, anxiety disorder, fibromyalgia, chemotherapy, multiple sclerosis, a transient ischemic attack (TIA) and lupus.
The sensation of pins and needles usually goes away by itself, but if you find yourself experiencing paresthesia on a regular basis, consult with your physician. There are a range of different treatments, depending on the cause. A pinched nerve and carpal tunnel syndrome can often be effectively treated by an Oakland chiropractor. Vitamin B12 deficiency may be addressed through dietary changes, supplements or injections. Together, you and your chiropractor can decide upon the best course of treatment based on the specifics of your situation.
January 2, 2013
October 24, 2012
Luckily, surgery is only necessary in a relatively small number of cases involving back problems. Non-invasive methods such as chiropractic care are available for treating a wide range of spinal conditions, including back pain, sciatica and herniated discs. However, in some severe cases, particularly those involving fractured vertebrae, scoliosis, kyphosis, and when degenerative disc disease has progressed to a point where the spinal nerves are being compressed and causing constant pain, surgery may be necessary.
Many people ask, "How long does recovery from spinal surgery take?" The answer varies greatly depending on the extent of the surgery and the techniques used as well as the general physical condition and behavior of the patient. Recovery time can range anywhere from two weeks to a year, with the average being about 12 weeks. However, there are some things you can do to help speed recovery, including receiving chiropractic care.
While regular chiropractic care can help keep you off the operating table in the first place, it can also help you to recover from back surgery if it does become necessary. Despite what you may think, visiting a chiropractor after back surgery does not have to be a cause for anxiety. Fremont chiropractors are among the most experienced healthcare professionals when it comes to treating spinal problems of all types. They will give you a thorough examination to assess your particular situation before beginning any kind of treatment. This examination will usually involve taking a detailed medical history, doing a careful physical evaluation and (where appropriate) ordering diagnostic imaging such as an x-ray or MRI.
Chiropractic care may not be appropriate for some time following certain types of procedures. For example, a spinal fusion surgery should generally be allowed to heal for a year before having chiropractic treatment. Consult with your surgeon and chiropractor about the best timing to begin chiropractic manipulation. As patients who have had spinal fusions often continue to experience pain post-surgery, they in particular may benefit from chiropractic care provided it is delivered at the appropriate time and in the appropriate manner.
A case report that was published in the Journal of the Academy of Chiropractic Orthopedists in 2009 noted that those patients who reported pain after spinal fusion surgery found relief with a combination of distraction decompression and spinal adjustment therapies. If you have had spinal fusion surgery, check to be sure your chiropractor can use non-rotational methods of spinal manipulation to treat you.
Chiropractic care for back surgery that does not involve spinal fusion is also a good idea. After your back has had some time to recover, it's important to get it moving again, and your chiropractor can help to relax the muscles and realign vertebrae that may have become misaligned from surgery or in the days of recovery following. Chiropractic adjustments can help to stimulate the flow of fluids to the spinal area, bringing oxygen and nutrients to the spinal tissues and carrying away waste material in order to speed healing.
Your chiropractor can also provide you with exercises you can do at home to strengthen your back and core muscles that will allow you to get back to your normal life more quickly and help to keep you from having to undergo any further back surgeries.
October 8, 2012
While we generally think of arthritis as being associated with old age, shoulder arthritis is not uncommon among younger people as well. Any injury to the shoulder, such as a dislocation or a fracture, can eventually lead to shoulder arthritis.
The shoulder consists of two main joints. The first is the glenohumoral joint. This is a ball-and-socket joint in which the head of the upper arm (humerus) fits into the glenoid cavity of the scapula (shoulder blade). The second is the acromioclavicular. This joint is formed by the meeting of the collarbone (clavicle) with the top of the scapula (acromion).
Hyaline cartilage located on the ends of these bones generally allows for movement of the arm in the socket without friction, but a loss of cartilage here can cause the bones to rub against each other. Although not as common as arthritis in other parts of the body, shoulder arthritis can be extremely uncomfortable and debilitating. The principal symptom of shoulder arthritis is steadily worsening pain, especially when the arm is moved. However, patients with this condition are also likely to experience considerable stiffness in the joint and weakness at the shoulder. Sleeping may become difficult as the condition worsens, especially on the most affected side.
Shoulder Arthritis – Causes
Shoulder arthritis may be caused by any of the following:
- Osteoarthritis. This is the degenerative wearing of cartilage, especially at the acromioclavicular joint.
- Loss of cartilage through acute traumatic injury to the shoulder, such as from a car accident, particularly when there has been a tear to the rotator cuff.
- Rheumatoid arthritis, an inflammatory autoimmune disease in which the body attacks its own cartilage.
Both osteo- and rheumatoid arthritis are more prevalent in older people (osteoarthritis in particular tends to occur in those over age 50). It's not surprising that the overall incidence of shoulder arthritis is increasing as the general population ages. Initial management of shoulder arthritis is usually non-surgical.
Shoulder Arthritis – Treatment Options
Possible treatment options include:
- Chiropractic care
- Targeted exercise programs to increase shoulder mobility
- Heat and ice treatment
- Nutritional supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin, both of which build cartilage and can slow joint degeneration
- Rest and shoulder immobilization
- Modifying shoulder movements to minimize irritation
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- Corticosteroid injections and other medications may be used in the case of rheumatoid arthritis
The National Arthritis Foundation reports that regular chiropractic care can help prevent the damage caused by arthritis. Chiropractic treatment can help reduce pain and restore movement and increase range of motion in the shoulder joint.
In severe cases, surgery for shoulder arthritis can help to reduce pain and improve motion if non-surgical treatments are no longer working. Glenohumeral surgery can consist of either replacing just the head of the humerus with a prosthesis (hemiarthroplasty) or replacing the entire joint (both the humeral head and glenoid cavity, a total shoulder arthroplasty).
September 25, 2012
Chiropractic More Effective for Neck Pain Than Other Therapies
Neck pain is believed to affect between 10% and 15% of the general population, and is particularly likely in those over 50 years of age. Neck pain is frequently accompanied by headaches, dizziness or other symptoms. In addition, certain movements or sustained postures of the neck can aggravate the pain and stiffness and add to a limit in range of motion.
Common treatments for neck pain include prescription analgesics along with some type of physical therapy (usually massage, application of heat and/or specialized exercises) to deal with the pain and improve function. However, the results of a randomized controlled trial published in the Annals of Internal Medicine showed that manual therapy, such as chiropractic care performed by a certified Fremont chiropractor, was more effective than either physical therapy or continued care by a general practitioner.
The study involved 183 patients between 18 and 70 years of age who had reported having non-specific neck pain for two weeks or more. Patients were randomly assigned to one of three groups: manual therapy, physical therapy or continued care by their physician.
Those referred to a manual therapist had a 45-minute treatment once a week for up to six weeks; those who were treated by a physical therapist had a 30-minute treatment twice a week for up to six weeks; and the remaining patients who were under continuing care from their doctor were given medication to treat pain and inflammation, were instructed in the use of hot compresses and were given exercises they could perform at home to treat their neck pain. All patients included in the study were allowed to use exercises at home, non-prescription pain medication and any medication that his or her physician may have prescribed before the beginning of the study in the treatment of their neck pain.
Seven weeks after the beginning of the study, patients were asked to rate their neck pain, from "much worse" to "completely recovered," and the researchers compared the number of patients in each group who had reported feeling at least "much improved." The results indicated that 68.3% of the manual therapy group reported feeling either "much improved" or "completely recovered," compared with 50.8% of patients in the physical therapy group and 35.9% of patients in the physician-treated group.
Despite the fact that the lead author of the study is a physical therapist, the study noted that "the physical therapy patients achieved significantly worse success rates while using twice the number of patient visits as the manual therapy group." The researchers concluded that "in daily practice, manual therapy is a favorable treatment option for patients with neck pain compared with physical therapy or continued care by a general practitioner," and that "primary care physicians should consider [referral for] manual therapy when treating patients with neck pain."
August 8, 2012
A chiropractor who is a Certified Chiropractic Wellness Practitioner (CCWP) has pursued a post-doctoral specialty provided by the International Chiropractors Association (ICA) Wellness Lifestyle Certification Program. The course of study for this credential typically consists of four modules, such as the following, offered by the ICA Council:
- Scientific and Philosophical Validation of the Chiropractic Wellness Paradigm
- Wellness Nutrition and Natural Health
- Wellness Physical Fitness and Spinal Hygiene
- Wellness State of Mind, Emotional Health and Secrets of Eliciting Patient Lifestyle Change
The CCWP courses involve a combination of onsite classroom instruction, home study, and examinations, designed to provide a complete foundation in the subject of wellness, lifestyle improvements, and optimal health technologies, within the context of the chiropractic model. Emphasis is placed on studying scientifically validated methods of nutrition, exercise and fitness, stress reduction, and the development of a positive mental attitude, all technologies that complement the chiropractic paradigm.
The designation of Certified Chiropractic Wellness Practitioner indicates that the chiropractor has a commitment to the overall health of his or her patients, and to helping them to adopt healthy lifestyle changes. The cost of chronic illness is enormous; 80% of the cost of healthcare spending is to combat such chronic disorders. In the chiropractic paradigm, chronic illness is a lifestyle issue, one that can be corrected by regular chiropractic care and by attention to issues related to healthy living. Lifestyle is often the root cause of many seeking chiropractic care, including those suffering from back or neck pain or chronic headaches. The patient's lifestyle can also affect how successfully they will respond to chiropractic adjustments and other treatments. The Certified Chiropractic Wellness Practitioner can thus offer advice to patients that can greatly improve their ability to regain a state of wellness as quickly as possible, and maintain that healthier lifestyle in the future, thus preventing future problems.
Those who hold the Certified Chiropractic Wellness Practitioner credential have studied the physiological effects of diet and nutrition, including the possible toxicity of processed foods and chemicals in our environments. They have examined scientific research to see how these factors affect the neurophysiological effect of chiropractic adjustment, and how lifestyle changes can positively affect a successful outcome to treatment. They have also studied the effects of exercise and proper fitness regimens in promoting a more balanced lifestyle both during and post-treatment. Another benefit of the Certified Chiropractic Wellness Practitioner specialty, however, is the practitioner's understanding of the psychology of wellness. That is, the psychological factors of behavioral change, and how they can be utilized to promote a greater sense of well-being, inner peace, and general happiness. The development of a positive mental attitude can be one of the most important factors in realizing the goal of overall wellness and the prevention of chronic disease.