Mesothelioma Pain Management through Chiropractic Care

Chiropractic care is typically administered to treat and prevent pain and disorders pertaining to the musculoskeletal system that controls the body’s movement, including the spine. However, it is often sought as a form of alternative medicine and complementary care to coincide with traditional medical treatments.

In order to help manage pain and relieve headaches, tension and stress, many cancer patients have included chiropractic care in their course of treatment. Patients interested in alternative treatment, who strongly believe in the body’s ability to heal itself, may find chiropractic care particularly appealing. Alleviating severe headaches and movement pains during cancer treatment may make the treatment process more comfortable for cancer patients, including those fighting mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that is mainly cause by exposure to asbestos, a naturally occurring mineral that was used in a number of military and industrial applications throughout the 20th century. The symptoms typically take 20 to 50 years to become noticeable and by this time the disease is usually in advanced stages. Treatment options are often limited as the cancer is diagnosed late in development.

Two studies published in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics examined the cases of two patients combating cancer. A 57-year-old man diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer experienced significant pain relief and was able to reduce the amount of medication needed following chiropractic care. He also reported an increase in his quality of life during his journey with the cancer following a visit to a chiropractor.

A 54-year-old man diagnosed with lung cancer (a cancer sometimes linked to asbestos exposure) began seeing a chiropractor after experiencing little pain relief one year after he underwent surgery to combat his cancer. The man experienced pain relief immediately after beginning chiropractic care and discontinued use of all pain medications after two visits to his chiropractor. The Journal noted, “These clinical examples offer two specific instances of how chiropractic may improve the quality of a cancer patient’s life.”

Note: Though I am not the author of this blog post, I fully endorse its message and the benefits of chiropractic for patients suffering from mesothelioma. I would also add that in my office we have seen great success helping people who are suffering from a variety of cancers and their subsequent treatment protocols (radiation, chemotherapy, etc.) with both chiropractic and hyperbaric oxygen therapy. –Dr. Thomas

Spinal Stabilzation Exercise Bird Dog (#2/4)

In this video, I explain how to perform the “The Bird Dog.” This is not a difficult exercise but it does require some coordination. It helps facilitate the erector spinae muscle which are the long muscles that run on either side of the vertebrae. I recommend doing this daily 10-20 times after doing the Cat/Cow.

“I Just Get Normal Headaches.”


What is a normal headache? I hear it all the time from new patients. There are migraine headaches, tension headaches, cluster headaches, sinus headaches, hormone headaches and cervicogenic headaches but I have yet to understand what a normal headache is. I don’t think they exist.

In all seriousness, a headache is never normal. I would venture to say that most people have experienced a headache but that doesn’t make it normal. So, if you suffer from headaches then you need to pay attention.
According to some studies, 70% of all headaches are actually cervicogenic, which is a fancy way of saying that the pain is caused by dysfunction in the neck. I would concur based on the number of people I have personally helped overcome headaches by working on the neck. All of the other headaches can either be triggered by neck problems or at least made worse.
Whatever the cause of the headache it should not just be written off. Pain is an indicator for dysfunction. If you have pain you can assume something is wrong. The true goal of health care is not to take away the pain but to get the pain to go away by correcting the dysfunction. Identifying the reason you are getting headaches and then working to correct it is the normal thing to do.

Bursitis? Isn’t That What My Grandma Has?

By request, I am going to blog about bursitis. Most people have no clue what I mean when I tell them they have bursitis, even though they may have heard of it. I like to explain it like this: Suppose you have a rope hanging over the edge of a cliff. If the rope swings or moves it will start to wear out at the point where it makes contact with the rock, right? So, to avoid the wear and tear, you place the bag that you used to carry the rope up to the top of the cliff (rock climbers and repellers will relate) under the rope. This will help reduce friction and keep the rope from fraying.

In this analogy, the rope is like a tendon which is the continuation of a muscle that inserts it into a bone. Tendons often stretch over a bony edge, the cliff. The bursa, then, is the bag y
ou put under the rope or tendon to reduce friction. It is, indeed, a sack that is flat and fluid filled. Because it is fluid filled, the outer edges glide back and forward on each other underneath the tendon thus limiting friction of the tendon.

Anytime you see or hear the suffix “itis” it just means inflammation. So, bursitis is inflammation of the bursa. How does it happen? There a few ways you can develop bursitis. The most common happens when you put too much tension on the tendon and therefore too much pressure on the bursa. Imagine the rope wearing out the bag. This can happen with poor muscle mechanics or just too much load. In a shoulder bursitis what comes to mind is someone with bad posture whose shoulders are slumping forward who starts to lift weights at the gym but doesn’t want to look like a sissy so they lift too much. This scenario neatly covers most of the common risk factors. (There can also be metabolic conditions that cause bursitis, like calcium deposits in the bursa and things like that but they are not as common and frankly would bore you, probably even more than this).

The way to determine if you have bursitis is through a process of resistance and elimination. The first thing you have to rule out is a tendinitis, (which you have cleverly deduced based upon earlier information is inflammation of a tendon). The tricky part is that a tendinitis feels the same as a bursitis. Usually, bursae (the plural of bursae) have more that one tendon running over them so the only way to distinguish the two is to test all of the tendons by checking resistance of all of the muscles attached to the tendons. If stress on every tendon is painful it is more likely you have a bursitis instead of tendinitis of all of the tendons. In simplicity, if it hurts when you use your arm in every motion it is most likely the bursa.
Healing bursitis can be difficult. Motion causes the bursa to work, so any motion is potential for more inflammation and pain. The key is to reduce the inflammation. You can do that through icing (15-20 minutes at a time) and rest. For diet, it may sound crazy but a half a fresh pineapple a day for 6 six days reduces inflammation like a champ. Also, Omega 3 supplements really help.
The other thing you have to address is why you developed the bursitis. If a joint is subluxated or you have bad posture you need to be adjusted to reduce the amount of pressure on the bursa. Likewise, changing how your mechanics or the amount of resistance can make a big difference.

Your Chiropractor As Your Primary Care Doctor?

The concept of having a primary care physician is to control the cost of patients seeing a specialist directly. Under the primary care model, patients see their family doctor who treats or refers to a specialist. This frees up more expensive specialists from seeing patients directly who may or may not be a candidate for the specialist. All said, even though it does cut costs for insurance and patients, the concept can also help direct a patient to proper and appropriate care. In this way, managed care has it right in theory if maybe not exactly for the right reasons. 
Proper care is predicated upon a primary care doctor being a competent differential diagnostician who can manage the overall case especially if multiple specialists are involved. Unfortunately, the way it stands, most primary care physicians are either not very good at differential diagnosis or they just don’t have the time to do it right. Part of the problem, whether they like it or not, is that they are inundated with too many patients. Too many patients creates an environment of hasty visits and poor communication. In addition, there is pressure from the insurance companies to be more efficient and to save costs often at the expense of proper diagnostic protocols. 
Here is where chiropractors can come in. Chiropractors have learned the art of differential diagnosis, pathology, etc. just as much as our medical colleagues. In addition, chiropractors have more training in musculoskeletal diagnosis, radiology, and nutrition. In my practice, I spend a good amount of time during the initial visit discovering any and all health concerns and what is functioning well with a holistic outlook. In short, most chiropractors if they were interested would make excellent primary care doctors. 
There are some major advantages to using some chiropractors as primary care doctors (not all chiros are interested and some see diagnosing as a dirty word). First, we have a shortage of primary care doctors which really limits access to care (I wonder how much worse it will get if go to socialized medicine). Opening it up to chiropractors could significantly ease the burden. 
Second, chiropractors tend to build stronger relationships with their patients. Chiropractors tend to see patients much more than just when their patients are sick enough to go in. In addition, we put an emphasis on building relationships because we have to in order to grow our practices
Third, chiropractors are actually concerned about patients’ health and not just their sickness. Sure most people come in because of a problem but what is the underlying cause and what else can be prevented? You don’t know unless you ask and in my office, at least, we make it a point to comb through your entire history and do a full exam. 
Fourth, although we cannot prescribe medication, our ability to conservatively treat patients in a cost effective manner is second to no other health profession.  
Just like in anything cooperation is the key. There are still specialized MD’s who will not accept a referral from a chiropractor and, there are chiropractors who act like diagnosing is an evil art form invented by the medical community. Both are part of the reason that chiropractic still struggles with a legitimate identity (another post, altogether). 
I think my patients who know me well use me as their primary care doctor. Usually, the switch happens when they have something come up and they go to their MD. They then casually bring it up to me. I take the time to diagnose and educate and then point them in the right direction for proper care. Sounds like a win win to me. What do you think? 

What do You Think of Socialized Health Care?


The debate is in full swing over socialized health care. It seems to me that it is only a matter of time before the politicians decide to take control of the rising costs. I can understand both sides. I am not going to even argue between both sides because it seems like the two sides are comparing apples and oranges. I think most agree that whatever we have right now is not a great solution for the masses. My point in witing this article is will it work in the US? 

Now, I know what you are thinking, “It works in Canada and Europe and people are not as antagonistic or supportive as the two camps portray.” I agree. All of the debate is focused on whether it will be right for the people. But, just as in everything there are other parties involved. I have yet to see much discussion about whether the providers are going to go for this. 
You see, the doctors in Canada and Europe have never really known anything different. They went to school with a certain expectation and are working under those circumstances. This will not be true for doctors in the US if we switch to socialized health care. Think about it this way. Most US docs went into healthcare because it is career where one can help and serve others while also enjoying a certain status and income level. Keep in mind there are two sides to this: the ability to practice as one chooses and the money. 
Lets talk money for a bit because that seems to be the major focus (though I will argue that for the majority of docs it is the lesser issue). Going to professional school is expensive. A lot of time and money is invested in the education of a doctor. As of now, the compensation in most cases is satisfactory but not as good as it used to be. I wonder what compensation will be under government regulation?  
The real issue, however, is not money; it is control. Doctors have taken a beating since the onset of HMO’s. Take a poll of any profession and job satisfaction has more to do with the ability to affect outcomes. If HMO’s are bad wait until the government decides to take over. Medicare is the classic example. Medicare dictates very specifically what a doctor can and cannot do. In additon, if you feel a procedure is warranted but the government does not, guess who wins? Accountability is good, but when a doctor spends more time justifying his course of treatment than actually treating people satisfaction starts to wane. 
The question then becomes how many doctors are going to stick around with changes that will limit their ability to treat patients the way they want to and with a cap on how much money they can make? The other question is whether the government will allow doctors to opt out of universal health care and take private pay only? If they don’t, will enrollment at professional schools decrease and will you see more doctors leaving the field for less stressful and more profitable professions? If they can do private pay how many docs will opt out? Either way, what will our access to health care look like? I don’t know the answers for sure but I can tell you as a health care professional I would opt out so as to avoid the pitfalls and the headaches of governmnt controlled “sick care” and if the government doesn’t give us choice… well I guess I will have to cross that bridge when we get there. 

Subluxation

You many not know this, but there is a word which is either the bane or the glory of almost every chiroprator out there. That word is “subluxation” pronounced sub lux a (long a) shun). Don’t ask why there is so much controversy. Suffice it to say that people squabble over semantics. What is important is to understand the concept.

The literal translation of the word subluxation is minor dislocation. “Sub” means minor or small and “to lux” means to dislocate. When the modern founders of chiropractic started using the term, the thought process was that vertebrae would sublux from its natural position. This minor dislocation would then pinch on the nerve root which exits in between the vertebrae. Pinching the nerve root wouild then lead to poor communication along that nerve channel to the intended organs. Poor communication would then lead to disease.

Makes sense, right? Well, through the years we have learned more. First off, it doesn’t take a dislocation to cause problems with the nerve root. All it takes is a little bit of irritation. This can happen from direct contact from the vertebra, muscle, ligament, whatever, or from inflammation in the area. The point being, the vertebra doesn’t have to shift and pinch the nerve to create what we think of as a subluxation. If the joints of the vertebrae are funcitoning properly in any form that is enought to create irritation of the nereve root and therefore disease.

The goal then for chiropractic patients is to strive to reduce one’s subluxations in order to improve one’s health. So, when we get down to it, chiropractors find these areas of dysfunction and help train the joints to funciton properly.

What is Health?

What is health? I ask this question all the time both to others and to myself. When I remind myself of the answer on a daily basis, I have real purpose to my work.

The definition of health used to be the absence of disease. That is a pretty narrow definition and, to my way of thinking, isn’t really possible. I think everyone has something that causes dis-ease and therefore, by definition has a disease. For that reason I think we have evolved as a society into a broader more dynamic view of health.

Health can be good or bad. It is a spectrum, if you will. Everyone alive has health to some degree. It is kind of like the old saying “If I didn’t have bad luck, I would have no luck at all.” Some people have bad health and others have good health.

To me, good health means that all aspects of the body function as they should. This includes functioning with other parts of the body. Proper function and even synergy of the body relies on good communication. Good communication is in large part dependent on a properly functioning nervous system.

The nervous system consists of the brain, the spinal cord, the cranial nerves, the nerve roots, and all the nerves with their bundles that come off of the nerve roots. The most common area of the nervous system to have a problem is the nerve root.

When vertebra in the back is dysfunctional it irritates the nerve root which alters communication to the organs and other parts of the body that nerve root innervates and leads to disease. Chiropractic helps relieve the irritation of the nerve. Simple as that!