Category Archives: Health Conditions

When an Old Injury Turns Into Chronic Pain

pain_cloudThe brain is constantly changing through a process called neuroplasticity. When you have an injury it sends signals of pain to the brain. Because of injury or pain you change the way you move. This can cause changes in the sensorimotor portions of the brain. These changes can persist beyond the initial injury repair and can disrupt sensorimotor re-integration (the healing process of the nerve patterns). This may explain why you may limp even after a leg injury has healed or why you have chronic pain from an old injury that healed years ago. Because of this process joint dysfunction/subluxations can contribute to the chronicity of injuries.

Medically these conditions are called allodynia or hyperalgesia. These are when the brain is reporting the wrong feedback to the body (pain with light touch, or tingling sensation when nothing is really going on). You see your brain has a sense that you may not be aware of. Beyond your touch, taste, smell, hearing and sight you have a sense is called proprioception. It’s the ability of your body to sense where any part of it is in space even without the other senses. This sense comes from all the afferent signals that your muscle spindle fibers, Golgi tendon organs, etc… send to the brain. Vertebral subluxation is a state of altered afferent input which can lead to maladaptive central plastic changes that over time can lead to further dysfunction. In other words interference in the path of communication is like playing that game telephone, and the signal that the body sends is not what the brain gets or visa versa. This interference does affect all communication that comes through the area. So, if you have a bad knee and a bad back the brain may not know how the knee is doing even after it has healed because the back problem interfered. Because these subluxations can contribute to these conditions fixing subluxations can also contribute to resolving them.

Chiropractic care improves the health and function of the spine, so that it can accurately perceive what is going on and respond appropriately which in turn helps clear up the communication between your brain, the body and the environment. When the communication lines are open for a long enough period of time then the chronic pain patterns have a chance to resolve.

Additional Research on the topic:

Is neuroplasticity in the central nervous system the missing link to our understanding of chronic musculoskeletal disorders?

Cervical spine manipulation alters sensorimotor integration

The role of spinal manipulation in addressing disordered sensorimotor integration and altered motor control.

 

Posture Does Matter

I’ve discussed posture before. I like to talk about strong vs weak posture rather than good or bad posture because weak implies that you can do something about it, where bad implies something that has just happened to you. This video uses the terms good and bad posture, but it still explains things well.

PA10:ENG Posture from Haavik Research on Vimeo.

You don’t have to wait until you or your child is in pain to solve the problems. Come in and address your weak posture before it becomes painful.

Water Weight

 

 

Water does affect weight gain and weight loss, and not just because of so called water weight.Water

Water improves digestion (absorption, creation of saliva, transportation of nutrients) circulation, cellular communication and maintenance of body temperature. Water also decreases caloric intake by filling you up. There are so many ways that water helps your body that I’m creating a post about it next.

water bottleIn regards to water and loosing weight there are a few tips, but the most important to remember is to just drink enough regularly. Drinking a gallon of water all at once is not as good as drinking plenty throughout the day. Having a water bottle with you is a great way to remind yourself to drink as well as to encourage periodic drinking.

Drinking before you sit down to a meal can help you feel more full and eat less. While drinking before exercise can keep you exercising longer and with more intensity. Ideally you should keep yourself hydrated rather than drinking immediately before exercise, but for that extra hydration try drinking a whole water bottle about 1-2 hours before working out. This will allow the water to absorb into your system rather than just sloshing around in your stomach. When you’re done working out you will need to replenish that water and so you should drink at least another bottle within the 2 hours after working out.

Urine ColorMost people don’t keep track of how much water they drink, but everyone wants to know how much they should be drinking. A general rule is that you should be drinking at least half of your body weight (in pounds) in ounces each day. So if you weigh 150lbs you should be drinking at least 75 ounces of water every day, and that doesn’t count the extra water that you should be drinking when you work out. That’s about 2 1/2 of those plastic 1 liter sports bottles. Another way to make sure you’re getting enough is to check the color of your urine stream. If you are well hydrated your urine will be clear. The darker the urine the more water you need.

 

Sleep and Weight

If lack of sleep (insufficient rest) is causing your weight gain then the solution is easy to figure out, but not so easy to implement. You nee to be getting more and better rest. The Average adult needs between 7 and 9 hours of sleep. If you’re not getting enough quality sleep your weight can increase, but that’s not the only thing that sleep affects. Lack of sleep increases accidents, decreases cognitive ability, increases heart problems, speeds the aging process, and decreases sex drive. The reasons for the effect on weight is that lack of sleep affects your hormones that regulate hunger, metabolism, appetite.

To help you sleep there are many things that you can do. This may mean adjusting your bedtime schedule or routine. It may be as simple as getting a new pillow or bed. It will be different for every person, but improving your rest will benefit your whole health, and that includes your weight. Here are some simple things that you can do to improve your sleep:

  • Have a sleep schedule , even for weekends
  • Have a bedtime ritual
  • Exercise
  • Find your ideal sleep environment including light, sounds and temperature.
  • Get a quality bed (Intellibed) and pillow that is comfortable for you .
  • Avoid alcohol and caffeine.
  • Avoid electronics before bed.
  • Know your best sleep postures.

Thank you to Dr. Posture and the National Sleep Foundation for their great charts.

 

 

Ankylosing Spondylitis

Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) is in the category of less common diseases that you may not know that your chiropractor can treat.  Don’t worry, you probably don’t have it.  Recently the topic came up and I promised to create a post to provide some basic information on the topic of AS.

AS RibbonFirst let me cover what it is.  AS is an inflammatory disease and can be classified as a type of arthritis.  It causes pain in joints and bones, particularly in the spine with the most common complaint being the low back.  In the most severe cases it can cause bones to fuse together.  It is much less common than your typical  osteoarthritis and is also harder to diagnose because of the similarity of its symptoms to so many other conditions.  When you walk into a doctor’s office complaining of low back pain, they won’t jump to the conclusion that you have AS.

Your chiropractor can diagnose AS using a combination of your health and family history, blood tests and radiologic tests, but they won’t usually go hunting for this condition.  It is more often found after other things are ruled out or discovered incidentally with X-rays for other conditions.  This is a sexist disease usually affecting men, but that doesn’t mean that women can’t have it.  AS is also not an illness that comes on late in life.  It usually makes its self known before the age of 35.  The cause of AS is unknown still, but is likely genetic, meaning that it runs in families.  As with most diseases whose causes are unknown there is no known cure yet.  There are however treatments.

Most medical treatments for AS focus on management of pain and symptoms, but there are some medications that have been found to slow the progress of the disease.  Your chiropractor should be able to help you manage or reduce your symptoms as well as slow down the progression of the disease without medication.  As always he should also keep in close contact with your other providers that may be treating you, most likely your  rheumatologist, and together they should come up with a plan of action specific to you.

Image by Cienpies Design http://www.cienpies.net

Image by Cienpies Design http://www.cienpies.net

The treatment with the best results for AS is improving your range of motion and flexibility with exercise, diet, and joint mobilization.  You can do much of it on your own at home with guidance from your provider.  Your chiropractor should already be using these tools to treat any low back pain, but they will be even more important if you have AS.  Your chiropractor may or may not adjust your spine depending on your condition, but managing your care does not require manipulation if you don’t want it.

In the past some practitioners would recommend not seeing a chiropractor for AS because possible risks were unknown.  No studies have found increased risk to people with AS when treated with chiropractic manipulation, and recent research indicated benefits even at the late stages of the disease.  While most of the research is focused on finding a cure to AS here’s a link to an excellent case study of improvement with chiropractic management of AS.

Fevers

Image: Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Mom, almost instinctively, checks your forehead for a fever to see if she should keep you home from school.  That’s a good plan.  If your body is ill, one of the proper responses is for it to develop a fever.  The fever is not the problem however; it is part of your body’s solution. 

A recent question by a parent of a child with an ear infection brought this up.  Most parents get scared when their child gets sick and this is perfectly normal.  They should.  This information may help to calm you down.  Our bodies were masterfully designed to be able to combat illness on their own.  Sometimes they need a little help, but often are capable if we just provide the right environment for health.

When it comes to temperature normal is not 98.6° F (37° C).  That is a number for the text books, but anything from 97° F to 99° F may be normal for you.  A normal fever (in a person greater than 3 years old) is between 102.2° F and 104.5° F (39° C and 40° C). This temperature is not bad and should be considered beneficial; it is being regulated by the body and is still under control.  It’s ok.

A fever above 104.5° F (40° C) is not going to cause damage, but does indicate more seriousness and you should see a doctor if you have a fever that gets to this level or a low grade fever for more than 5 days.  Damage to the body or brain is not going to occur until temperatures of 108° F (42° C) or higher.  So don’t panic.

Over the counter fever reducing drugs are not even recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.  In the case of home medication for children with fevers they suggest and I agree that treatment should be provided to “improve the child’s overall comfort rather than focus on the normalization of body temperature.”  If a child can’t sleep due to pain then they will have more difficulty getting well.  Care should focus on proper fluid intake and comfortable rest and not on reducing the fever.  For additional information please see this article by Claudia Anrig, DC.

Menier’s Disease: New Research

Patients doing their own research on conditions occationally bring me something that they find interesting to get my opinion.  This recently happened with an article on MÉNIÈRE’S DISEASE AND JOINT INJURY.  The full title is “The Potential Role of Joint Injury and Eustachian Tube Dysfunction in the Genesis of Secondary Ménière’s DiseaseI thought I’d just share that review with you.

Meniere’s Disease is a disorder of the inner ear causing many different symptoms from vertigo to ringing in the ears to hearing loss.  The article really seems to be just an idea that the authors have been pondering and sought to find evidence to back up their idea.  Not very scientific in my opinion.  What they’ve really done is see if there is any validity to their hypothesis so that they can do further studies.

The ear has 3 sections, inner, middle, and outer.  The inner ear is sealed off and in your skull and is what does all of the work you might associate with the ear, hearing and balance.  The middle ear is simply a cavity with facilities to allow the outer ear to “talk” to the inner ear and is drained by the eustachian tube into the back of your throat.  The middle ear is usually where ear “infections” occur.  The eustation tube becomes blocked and can’t drain the middle ear so fluid builds up or an infection may grow.  If this occurs frequently, medical doctors sometimes, (instead of fixing the tube that your body has) insert additional tubes that drain to your outer ear.

The bones in your neck join the skull right behind your ear.  If you put your finger right there you feel a soft spot between the bump of your skull your jaw and your ear.  Those are the joints that the article talks about, the upper cervical spine and the TMJ.  The close proximity has always caused people to justify a relationship between those joints and the ear. Neurologically there has been no direct connection found that I’m aware of. These authors are proposing an indirect nerve connection in order to explain why TMJ or neck injuries can lead to Menier’s disease. 

From a chiropractic perspective their hypothesis also implies the reverse, that patients with Menier’s Disease might benefit from chiropractic management.  To be determined…