November 13, 2012
How many times did we hear from our parents when we were children, "sit up straight"? Our parents were not telling us to do this merely to keep us from looking like a boiled noodle. Good posture is important for a variety of health reasons as well. It helps us to breathe properly, increases concentration, reduces the risk of neck and back pain and increases our sense of well-being.
And yet most people have bad posture. It is not surprising, given how many hours we spend sitting at a desk. Both bad ergonomics and the number of hours spent sitting without getting up and moving around has led to an epidemic of bad posture – and subsequently many cases of back and neck pain.
According to Dr. Roger Sperry, who received a Nobel Prize for brain research, "The more mechanically distorted a person is, the less energy is available for thinking, metabolism and healing." Proper posture opens the airways and expands the rib cage, allowing us to breathe more deeply. Our lung capacity is reduced by as much as 30% when we slouch. A brain receiving its full measure of oxygen is more powerful and has a better ability to concentrate. Your muscles and organs will also benefit from added oxygen, giving you more energy.
Poor posture also makes you tire more easily. Our skeletal system was designed to perform optimally when we are in the correct posture. The spine takes the majority of the weight-bearing stress both when we are moving and sitting. However, bad posture moves the weight to areas of the skeleton that were not designed to take a great amount of force. This makes our muscles, tendons and ligaments work harder to keep us upright and puts excessive stress on less sturdy parts of our bones and joints. Over time, bad posture causes changes to the spine that can become permanent, constricting nerves and blood vessels and leading to chronic pain.
Studies have shown that people experiencing depression felt markedly better when their posture improved, and it also increases self-confidence. A study by researchers at Ohio State University instructed subjects to sit up straight or to slouch. Of those who sat up straight, "Their confident, upright posture gave them more confidence in their own thoughts, whether they were positive or negative," according to co-author of the study, Richard Perry, a professor of psychology at the university.
If you have proper posture you should be able to draw a straight line down from the earlobe through the shoulder, hip, knee and mid-ankle. Your chin should be parallel with the floor. Most people's heads jut forward due to crouching over laptops and hand-held devices like mobile phones and tablets. When the head juts only an inch forward from the spine it essentially doubles the amount of head weight the musculoskeletal system must absorb.
To help maintain your posture throughout the day, choose an office chair that is ergonomically designed, with extra support for the lower back. You should also get up and move around regularly throughout the day. Furthermore, it's important to strengthen your core muscles, which help to promote good posture. Yoga and Pilates are good forms of exercise for overall stretching and strengthening and will enable you to maintain good posture.
Consult your Fremont Chiropractor, Dr. Hans Freericks, to find out how you can achieve a good posture. Call Fremont Chiropractic at (510) 797-4796 today.
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."
September 7, 2012
Often misunderstood to be a diagnosis, sciatica is actually the term for a collection of symptoms, the most pronounced of which is low back pain combined with pain that extends through the buttocks and down one leg. It is one of the most common forms of low back pain and, as such, is regularly treated by our Fremont chiropractors.
Sciatica takes its name from the sciatic nerve, which branches out from the lower part of the back and stretches down the entire back of each leg as far as the foot. Deriving from a number of spinal nerves, the left and right sciatic nerves are the largest nerves in the human body. The compression or pinching of either sciatic nerve (or the nerves at the root of the spine) is the cause of sciatica, and this can occur as a result of a number of different medical conditions.
The pain that occurs with sciatica is the single most important factor in differentiating it from other kinds of low back pain. Although the pain may begin in the lower back, sciatica is also felt further down in the buttocks, the back of the thigh, the lower leg an even into the foot itself. The left and right sciatic nerves are rarely affected at the same time, so pain that occurs in only one leg is often a reliable indicator that someone has sciatica.
Sciatic pain is often described as shooting like electricity or burning like fire rather than a dull ache. A tingling or prickling feeling may also occur, often accompanied by numbness and/or weakness in the leg, just as when the leg 'goes to sleep' after you have been sitting on it for a while. A combination of pain and weakness can also be felt in the same leg. Sufferers of sciatica usually report that their pain tends to be better when they are lying down or walking and worse when standing or sitting.
The level of pain experienced in sciatica can range from moderate discomfort to severe pain, depending on the nature and severity of the underlying condition. In the worst cases, the degree of shooting pain or weakness in the leg may prevent standing and walking altogether. The frequency of symptoms may also vary from occasional through intermittent to ever present.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms then it would be wise to arrange a visit to your chiropractor. They can examine you properly to determine if you do have sciatica, what is causing it, and the appropriate treatment options for your case. Leaving a condition untreated can lead to a worsening of symptoms, so getting an early diagnosis could save you a lot of aggravation and 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.
July 23, 2012
While spinal manipulation may seem too intense for infants, it’s actually quite safe. Chiropractors take special care and precautions with babies, and many believe proper chiropractic care can help infants grow more healthfully and even reduce the likelihood of colic and middle ear infections.
In fact, chiropractic care is sometimes used to treat colic, as well as pain, sleep problems, and musculoskeletal concerns. Chiropractic care can also be preventive. As children are very active, there can be a great deal of stress placed on certain parts of the body. Regular chiropractic appointments can help ensure a properly aligned spine as the child grows, resulting in better functioning and less risk of injury.
It is important to know when to go to a chiropractor and when to go to an allopathic doctor. Viral and bacterial infections, for example, are best treated by allopathic doctors. Chiropractic treatment is usually best for musculoskeletal problems, as chiropractors are specialists in the musculoskeletal system. Chiropractors are also a good choice when you want to avoid drugs or surgery, as they are committed to medication-free, surgery-free treatments.
Just as with allopathic doctors, the quality of care may vary and you need to shop around for a qualified and well-respected practitioner. Some are more competent than others. The best way to ensure you get a good chiropractor is to investigate their training, other patient and parent reviews of their services, and when possible, peer-reviews of the chiropractor. Have an interview with the chiropractor before bringing your child in for treatment, and see how comfortable you are with him or her. Don’t be afraid to move on to another practitioner if you are not completely comfortable.
It’s best to find a chiropractor who specializes in pediatric chiropractic for your child. Your pediatrician, local hospital or the Internet can help you find specialists in chiropractic child and infant care. Don’t worry about asking your pediatrician for a referral; both chiropractors and allopathic doctors are used to working together with other health professionals to ensure your child gets the best care and treatment possible. In fact, the best health care professionals available are the ones that are willing to work together with others, and who don’t disparage other kinds of care. Take the time you need to select the best team of professionals to meet your child’s or infant’s particular needs.
June 12, 2012
Chiropractic is recognized as one of the safest therapies you can use to treat joint pain, back and neck pain, headaches, and other conditions. Because no type of healthcare therapy is completely free of potential side effects, however, some adverse effects may occur.
Many patients feel relief immediately following a chiropractic spinal adjustment, but some experience mild aching or soreness in the spinal joints or muscles. This feeling is similar to muscle soreness after exercise. If this occurs, it is usually within the first few hours post-treatment and for most patients (74%) does not last longer than 24 hours after the treatment. An ice pack often reduces the symptoms of this more quickly. Spinal adjustments pose few serious risks, although rare complications include the possibility of a herniated disk or compression of the nerves in the lower spinal column.
Some headaches and neck pains can be treated through cervical manipulation, which are also known as neck adjustments. These treatments improve joint mobility in the neck, restore the normal range of motion, and reduce muscle spasm to relieve pressure and tension. Neck manipulation is known to be a safe procedure, but some patients may experience side effects for a few days after treatment. These side effects include headache, fatigue, or continuing pain.
At the extreme end of risks associated with cervical manipulation, there have been reports that have associated it with a certain kind of stroke: vertebrobasilar artery (VBA) stroke. The best evidence indicates that the incidence of such injuries associated with neck adjustments is extremely rare – about 1 case in 5.85 million manipulations. To put this risk into perspective, this type of injury usually occurs spontaneously, or it happens as a result of everyday activities such as looking up to watch fireworks, turning your head while driving or having your hair washed in a hair salon.
Chiropractic adjustments are safe when performed by licensed professionals trained and to deliver chiropractic care. When you visit your chiropractor, you should be very specific about your symptoms, and about any concerns you feel about any risks. This will help the doctor to offer the safest and most effective treatment for you. Depending on your condition and the specific problems being treated, the chiropractor can sometimes forego manipulation, and instead can recommend a treatment regimen of joint mobilization, therapeutic exercise, soft-tissue techniques, or other therapies.
March 30, 2009
photo credit: dvanhorn
Tens of millions of people in the U.S. suffer from arthritis. This disease comes in two basic categories. Osteoarthritis is a condition described as a simple wearing out of the joints. Rheumatoid arthritis is a condition which affects the immune system.
Osteoarthritis is a good news, bad news condition. While it typically gets worse with time, it does not progress as rapidly or painfully as rheumatoid arthritis. Currently, there are no pharmaceutical treatments. All your doctor can do is prescribe a pain killer. On the other hand, there are medications available for rheumatoid arthritis that can slow progress of the disease, as well as pain killers to ease those painful joints.
In both cases, conventional medicine does not offer much, besides some relief of pain. However, you can make use of time-tested natural remedies for arthritis that can actually improve your condition and reduce the need for pain medications. It’s also easy to integrate these foods and herbs into your daily routine.
Bing cherries are a terrific anti-inflammatory. Fresh cherries in season work best, but canned cherries will still offer significant help.
Capsaicin creams are one of the most useful of the natural remedies for arthritis when used as a topical on the affected areas. During cold and damp weather, you’ll find substantial relief from pain and inflammation. The effect can be enhanced by wearing nylon gloves and socks, which help hold the heat.
Turmeric, taken in capsules or prepared in curry dishes is a marvelous addition to your natural remedies for arthritis, that is found to be as effective as cortisone in alleviating symptoms of both rheumatoid and osteoarthritis. Additional benefits include improvements in digestion, reduction of cholesterol and lowers blood sugar, a boon for diabetics.
Alfalfa is another inexpensive and time tested of the natural remedies for arthritis. The best form is the dried powdered leaves. You can buy this at health food stores in capsules. Alfalfa is packed with nutrients and is good for respiratory problems too.
Next in our lineup of natural remedies for arthritis is the Omega-3 fatty acids, a powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, found in fish. Sardines, salmon, tuna and herring contain high quantities of the Omega-3′s. Alternatively, you can take gel caps from the health food store. As a bonus, taking this supplement reduces your risk of heart problems, reduces bad cholesterol while raising the good cholesterol.
One especially tasty spice in your repertoire of natural remedies for arthritis is ginger. Ginger is anti-inflammatory. Make a habit of drinking ginger tea three times a day. Ginger is also beneficial to your heart health.
You’ve probably heard of Evening Primrose oil, but did you know that this plant oil is one of the most powerful anti-inflammatory agents discovered to date? Several double-blind studies have demonstrated that the pain experienced by arthritis sufferers was typically reduced by 50%!
If you put all of these natural remedies for arthritis to work for you, you’ll be feeling better soon.
For more information on arthritis treatments, contact Dr. Hans Freericks at 510-797-4796 for Fremont residents. For Union City, contact Dr. Hans at 510-324-0100.
February 4, 2009
Are you a parent? No parent wants to see their children in pain, but it does happen from time to time. Children occasionally get headaches, suffer from allergies, get earaches, and have back pain. Basically, the list is endless. As a parent, you know that children are like magnets to injuries, pain, and illness. Although most are minor, care should be sought, but where should you turn? Instead of heading to your child’s primary care physician, head to a local children chiropractor. Why? Here are 5 reasons.
1 – It Is Safe
Chiropractic care is natural medicine. For that reason, it is safe. If your child experiences pain and discomfort, their primary care physician is likely to suggest over-the-counter pain relievers or prescribe prescription medication. This may work, but the pain usually returns. Why? They only mask the problem. Yes, some forms of pain and discomfort may disappear on their own with time and self-care, but there may be a more serious underlying issue. You will not know unless you turn to a chiropractor. Their job is to treat the pain by going directly to the source and fixing the problem.
Chiropractic care involves manual, hands on, therapy. Since medications are not prescribed and the hands provide treatment, it is safe for individuals of all ages, including children.
2 – Most Treatment is Covered by Health Insurance
It is no secret that raising kids is expensive. Add in the cost of medical care, and the overall cost soars. Luckily, many insurance providers extend coverage for chiropractic care. Some will offer discounts for opting for an in-network provider, but you can seek care anywhere your insurance is accepted.
If your family is not covered by medical insurance, there are still benefits to seeking care. Just look for a chiropractor with affordable rates or one who is willing to set up a flexible payment plan.
3 – They Treat a Wide Range of Problems
Many adults mistakenly believe that chiropractors only treat spinal, back, and neck problems. Yes, this is their specialty, but more is offered. For example, did you know that a chiropractor can treat and lessen the onset of earaches and ear infections? They can. Blocked draining pathways cause most ear infections. Chiropractic adjustments and therapeutic massages are used to open up those pathways and promote the proper flow of fluid. Basically, if your child is experiencing pain, no matter how often or severe, a chiropractor can provide relief and that relief is usually long-lasting.
4 – It Is Easy to Find a Chiropractor
If you are unfamiliar with chiropractic care, you may have not given any thought to the offices in your area. You may have driven past one each day on the way to work. Turn to your local phonebook, a standard internet search, online business directories, or your insurance company to find a local chiropractor. If you are in the SF Bay Area, give our chiropractors in Fremont or Union City a call and schedule an appointment for your child. It really is as easy as that!
5 – The Benefits
Last, but not least, there are many benefits to chiropractic care. As previously stated, medications are not prescribed. Treatment is natural and safe. It is also long-lasting, as chiropractors do not mask the pain, they treat it. As a parent, this should be very important. Successful chiropractic care can allow your child to return to their happy normal self. Reduced pain and increased mobility means more fun and less suffering.
January 29, 2009
“TMJ,” Fremont Chiropractor Dr. Hans Freericks explains, “can absolutely be treated with chiropractic care.” If you are unfamiliar with TMJ or Temporal Mandibular Joint Dysfunction, here is a brief explanation. When the disk in your jaw gets displaced, it causes TMJ. This condition makes opening and closing your mouth difficult. If left untreated, this will lead to severe problems like headaches and pain in the ears.
You can tell if you have TMJ by a grinding or crunching sound when you open or close your mouth. Primarily, TMJ is caused by activities that strain the jaw. Regardless of the cause, though, people who suffer from the pain of this condition want a cure. So they ask how a chiropractor can fix TMJ and relieve me of this pain?
The short answer is yes … TMJ can be fixed as stated by Fremont Chiropractor, Dr. Freericks. In fact, in many cases, patients have observed that chiropractic treatment was more effective than allopathic treatment. A chiropractor will recommend certain pain relieving exercises which will relax the patient’s jaw muscles. The chiropractor will also focus the patient on exercise, nutrition and lifestyle improvements which will not only help you get rid of the pain, but will take care that the pain does not return.