A Frank Discussion with Your Medical Doctor

The purpose of this blog post is in no way to belittle or degrade the medical profession. My best friend is a medical doctor and I have several friends whom I admire and respect who are medical doctors. Furthermore, I have many medical doctors who refer patients to me on a consistent basis. No, this article is for those medical doctors who refuse to educate themselves on the benefits of alternative health care. Lately I have had a few medical doctors tell our mutual patients that they should not get adjusted anymore. Every single one of them cited arthritis as the reason why they should discontinue care with me. I hope this article will educate you as a patient of such physicians and maybe even influence some of them to do some research.

First of all, arthritis is a very generic term. Medical doctors routinely use it for any ache or pain in a joint. Most of the time calling it arthritis is technically true but over simplistic. It seems to me like they use it liberally because they do not want to explain what is really going on. Arthritis means is inflammation in a joint. It can be caused by auto-immune conditions like Rheumatoid or Lupus but more often it is caused by wear and tear. This is rarely explained to a patient so I am going to.

When doctors tell you that you have arthritis, most of the time what they are saying is that they can see signs of degeneration on your x-rays. Examples of degeneration are decreased joint space, bone spurs and misalignment. Essentially, instead of seeing nicely aligned joints with smooth edges, they see jagged edges with varying degrees of misalignment. This happens over time. How quickly is determined by how dysfunctional the joint is. The more dysfunctional the quicker it degenerates. Dysfunction of a joint means it is either not moving properly or not moving at all.

In the spine, the vertebrae have discs that can degenerate. Usually, this is associated with a disc herniation or bulge. Degeneration in the spine can lead to stenosis or narrowing of the openings where the nerve roots travel. Spinal degeneration or arthritis can come in varying degrees and complications. I am very aware of the risks involved with adjusting a highly degenerative spine.

Let me repeat that. I am very aware of the risks of adjusting a spine that has arthritis or degeneration! I also know the benefits. For this reason, I am very frustrated with these MD’s who are telling my patients to stop. Do they think I am unaware of my patient’s condition? Do they believe that I have no regard for my patient’s health? To be honest, I don’t believe they consider this, at all. I see fear derived from ignorance.

The truth is that an adjustment of a degenerating joint can be very beneficial. Retraining the joints to move properly can decrease inflammation and increase the nerve flow to that area which will at the very least slow down the degenerating process. Increased function will lead to improvement to the health of the joint. Are there risks? Of course. There are risks to everything. I believe the greatest risk is doing nothing. It is certainly the most predictable risk.

Trusting in your chiropractor to know when to adjust or not is important. Communication is the key! If you have a condition and you are unsure of your chiropractors awareness of it, express your concern. On that same note, avoid taking advice from people who don’t know. They shouldn’t be making recommendations about things of which they are ignorant. That doesn’t seem to be stopping some of them. If you stopped chiropractic care because your MD told you to, but have’t discussed it with your chiropractor, its time to have a frank and open discussion with all the parties involved, OK?

Hey Sutter Employees, You Have Great Chiropractic and Massage Benefits!

Do you or your spouse work for Sutter Health? If so, did you know that you have excellent chiropractic and massage benefits? According to your policy, you get 20 visits a year with just a $10 co-pay. That includes any and all chiropractic procedures AND up to an hour massage!

Let me repeat, for $10, you can get adjusted and receive an hour long massage.

I give high praise to Sutter for offering such phenomenal benefits. Not only do they give great care but obviously they want their employees to maintain good health, as well. So, if you are fortunate to have Sutter benefits, what are you waiting for? Give us a call and come in for chiropractic care, massage, or both.

Pillow Talk. (About Actual Pillows, Not the Other Kind)

Ah, the frustration of finding the perfect pillow! Have you found yours, yet? Once you do, your spouse or kid will probably steal it or your dog will chew it up. Or, do you have that pillow that has been perfect for longer than you are willing to admit and it is just moments away from disintegrating in the middle of the night as you blissfully rest? I know how it is. I wish I was writing this article with the perfect solution for everyone. Alas, there is no perfect solution but there are some general guidelines that can help.

First off, finding the right pillow can take time and you may need to invest a little in several different pillows. How much is up to your commitment to a perfect night’s sleep and how important it is for your neck to feel good in the morning.

The most important factor to consider is that you need to keep your head and neck is a neutral position relative to the shoulders. If your head is closer to one should over the other or flexed forward or extended back, you are no longer in a neutral position. This can put a strain on the joints of the neck and cause shortening of one side of the neck muscles and conversely lengthening of the other side. Because we spend so much of our lives sleeping, it is vital that you keep your neck and head in a position that puts little stress on all of the structures.

For side sleepers the biggest issue typically is finding  a pillow thick enough to take up the space between the shoulders and the head. This is especially hard if you have broad shoulders. A firmer pillow is usually your best bet because it will hold its shape all night. Down pillows tend to be fine for the first few hours then compress during the night. I, personally, sleep on a water based pillow that holds it shape really well but is soft enough to be comfortable. It has over a gallon of water in it so it weighs a ton which makes it hard to change the pillow case, but what do you do?

Back sleepers typically need a fairly thin pillow or no pillow at all depending on the curvature of the upper back. The shape of your neck will largely determine the style of pillow. If you have a good curvature (which is ideal), a pillow that helps maintain the arch can be great. If your neck is unfortunately straight or reversed, then that style of pillow might be very uncomfortable. Some say that using a pillow as a neck orthotic to restore the ideal curvature is a good idea. I could definitely make that argument but sacrificing sleep might not be worth it.

OK, I know the what you are thinking, “I switch from side to back all night.” Let me say it right now, unless you are just the right structure, there is not really a pillow that is dual purpose. Sorry! If you have a pillow thick enough to take up the space between the head and shoulders, it is going to be too thick to sleep on your back and vice versa.  Furthermore, if you are a stomach sleeper, there is no way to keep your head in neutral and still breath unless you have a slot for your mouth and nose.

There you have the basic guidelines. Happy hunting. FYI, just because pillows are expensive doesn’t mean they are going to be a good fit for you. Still, cheap is cheap. The pillows I sell in my office are around $50, if that is useful. Good luck and sweet dreams!

Thomas Chiropractic Food Drive and Patient Appreciation Day!

Food Drive

October 3rd-13th

New Patients Receive:

  • Exam
  • X-rays
  • 1st Adjustment
  • In Exchange for a Food Donation
  • Call 780-1370 to Schedule

    Patient Appreciation Day

    October 8th, 10 am-2 pm

  • Free Adjustments
  • Free Mini Massages
  • Great Food
  • Everyone is Invited
  • Please Help Support Our Food Drive

  • Pregnancy and Chiropractic

    First of all, yes, it is completely safe to receive chiropractic adjustments when you are pregnant even at 9 months. In fact, it can be very beneficial. Shoot, my wife’s OBGYN is my top referring MD. Why? Because when his patients are suffering from the ravages of pregnancy, all he can do is be a sympathetic ear or recommend Tylenol. He knows that chiropractic care is safe and can help manage his patients symptom where options are limited.

    For those who are unaware, pregnancy can be really hard on a body. For the record, when we men argue that we are the tougher of the two genders, women can always trump the argument by simply mentioning pregnancy and child birth. Trust me, no man is tough enough to withstand. Add to that list the duties of motherhood and it is game, set, match. During pregnancy the fetus becomes top priority. This means that the body will compensate and adjust to keep the baby viable. Nutrients needed will be taken from whatever source available. In addition, the shape, weight, posture, and the mechanics of the body, especially the core, change and adapt for the growing baby. Combine that with the production of the hormone relaxin which softens up all of the joints to allow the baby to be birthed, and the potential for dysfunction is inevitable.

    Getting chiropractic adjustments during pregnancy helps the body cope with all of those changes. When joints and ligaments become lax, the muscles tighten to compensate. This alters the mechanics. The adjustment helps restore the body’s mechanics and therefore reduces the secondary and tertiary responses like muscle spasms. Proper function will make it easier to carry and deliver the baby and will also help joints maintain coordination which positively affects the nervous system. Properly functioning nerves will promote better health, in general. A classic example of this is managing heartburn. When my wife was pregnant with our 2nd child, she had terrible heartburn. We found that adjustments were much more effective than antacids in controlling it because of the connection between the nerve roots in the midback that go to the esophagus.

    Chiropractic care during pregnancy is not just effective for low back pain relief and heartburn, it is also helpful in treating tension headaches, foot pain, hip pain, mid back pain and tightness, shoulder soreness, constipation, and much more.

    Keep in mind that predicting a schedule for treatment during pregnancy is impossible. The body changes too fast. Some women need chiropractic adjustments every so often and others may need an adjustment several times a week. The key is to keep things functioning as best we can and not let it get bad.

    Finally, during pregnancy the body does not heal as well. If you are pregnant and experience trauma or just have a traumatic pregnancy, be patient. It will take time after the delivery to heal up properly. If you are adjusted during pregnancy and again after delivery, your healing time will improve dramatically.

    Chiropractic and the Healing Process

    In this world of instant gratification, realistic expectations are often scarce. We have instant coffee, fast food, automatic deposit, etc. We demand results quickly and for most things we get them. Unfortunately, healing is not an instantaneous event. It takes time. Don’t get me wrong. I am as impatient as anyone. I like to see or experience improvement quickly. However, when it comes to healing, there is still a process.

    This article was written to help you understand the healing process and what to expect on your road to recovery.

    The healing process has several stages. They can be broken down into three major steps:

    1. Inflammation: Whenever an injury occurs there is damage to tissue. Tissue damage causes a reaction in the body that brings chemicals to take care of the damage. It causes swelling which keeps the affected area from moving too much. The reaction also generates heat, hence the term. I like to compare inflammation to firefighters putting out a fire. They arrive quickly and start shooting water onto the fire. Though necessary, often times the damage from the water is just as bad as the damage from the fire itself. This is even more true of inflammation. If not taken care of quickly, inflammation will begin to destroy the good tissue and cause a host of other problems. For this reason, ice is a powerful tool. Controlling the swelling with compression and an anti-inflammatory diet can also be very valuable.

    2. Scar Tissue Repair: After a 2-6 days of inflammation, the body starts to lay down scar tissue. Scar tissue is weak and it complicated by the fact that it is laid down quickly and haphazardly. To further the analogy of a home damaged by fire, imagine a crew going in after the water has mostly dried and quickly supporting the overall structure with whatever wood they can find. They make it more stable than it was but it is not as functional and it is certainly not as stable. Scar tissue is supposed to be a temporary process that takes 6 weeks to 6 months depending on the damage. Unfortunately, many people do not do what it takes to get beyond this stage. As a result, they easily tear the scar tissue and the process starts again. This is the cause of chronic injury.

    3. Remodeling of Tissue: When scar tissue starts to act like the original tissue, the remodeling process has begun. It is critical to get to this stage if true healing is to occur. This stage can last for a long time. For some tissues, like the nervous system, the process can be so slow it is almost imperceptible. For such tissues, support therapies like hyperbaric can help. In joint,  muscle, bone, ligament, tendon, etc., proper motion and function dictate this process. You have to train the scar tissue to line up all in the same direction and act like and be in sync with the surrounding tissue. Only at this point will true healing occur.

    Unrelated topic: when you make a comment on this blog, you will automatically be entered into a drawing to win free chiropractic care for April.

    Thomas Chiropractic, Roseville Food Drive!

    Where: Thomas Chiropractic, Roseville 720 Sunrise Ave., Suite B-104

    When: Monday, March 7th until Thursday, March 17th

    -Bring in non-perishable food for the Placer County Food Bank

    -Receive a FREE First Visit (exam, x-rays, 1st adjustment)

    -For New Patients only, please. Call 780-1370, today!

    It’s a win, win, win. New, patients, bring food for the Placer County Food Bank and receive a free first visit that includes everything from the exam, x-rays (if needed), and first adjustment. This help the new patients with their health, helps feed the community, and brings joy to all involved!

    Thomas Chiropractic Patient Appreciation Day!

    When: Saturday, March 12th from 10:00 am until 2:00 pm

    Where: Thomas Chiropractic Roseville, 720 Sunrise Ave., Suite B-104

    -FREE Adjustments

    -FREE Mini-massages

    -Great Food

    Thank you to all my loyal patients and friends who have entrusted me with their health in regards to chiropractic care. As my thanks, please join me Saturday, March 12th from 10:00 am until 2:00 pm for our semi-annual Patient Appreciation Day. Get adjusted and sign up for a mini massage. Enjoy the some great food. Everyone is invited to attend. Prospective patients can come and meet me and the staff and enjoy the festivities.

    Why Isn’t Everyone a Regular Chiropractic Patient?

    Please help me out if you will. I am trying to wrap my brain around what patients think? Maybe I have failed as a doctor in educating people about their health. Maybe it is just a time thing. Maybe it is a financial thing. Maybe it a combination of all of the above or something different all together. Whatever it is, please share your opinion!

    Over the 6 years I have been in practice in Roseville, I have had thousands of new patients. Some come once or twice just to check it out or get some relief, some go through a full course of treatment designed to restore function, and some continue to receive regular adjustments long after function is restored. I also  have plenty of patients who come in every so often when they are hurting, get a few adjustments and then I won’t see them again until that or another problem comes back. My burning question is why? If a patient knows that regular chiropractic care will help them maintain proper function which will in turn help maintain better health, why doesn’t everyone come in regularly for an adjustment?

    For the record, I know I have had some patients who came in and just felt like chiropractic was not, for whatever reason, their thing. I am also sure, though it is hard to believe (insert tongue in cheek) that a very small number of patients may have not enjoyed their experience in my office or just didn’t feel like it was a good fit. I get those. There have even been some patients that I wasn’t able to help. It happens. The patients that really puzzle me are the ones who are getting good results and then disappear. No return phone calls or emails. They were doing great and then gone. Finally, the next most baffling patient is the one who goes through the time and expense of restoring their function and then decides not to maintain.

    If you are in one of these categories, especially, let me know. Is there an incentive I can offer? What can I do to help you be as healthy as you want to be. For those of you who have never been adjusted, all I can say is you should really discover what you are missing.

    Read More

    Custom Orthotics from a Chiropractor? For $150? Sign Me Up!

    ATTENTION: Unfortunately, we longer provide the service of creating custom orthotics. The equipment we were using broke down and the manufacturer went out of business. We are still looking for a comparable system. Thank you for your understanding. 

    At the behest of many of my patients who didn’t know but now do, I offer custom orthotics in my office. I feel compelled, however, to educate you on what a good orthotic is  and how you could benefit from it.

    There are 3 different types of orthotics, generally speaking: non-custom, custom casted for the perfect stance, and custom evaluated for the perfect gait.

    The first is the non-custom orthotic. These are the Dr. Scholl’s, SuperFeet or the kind from the Good Feet Store. Some can be a very good and beneficial product. Dr. Scholl’s are mostly just a padding to decrease shock absorption. SuperFeet and orthotics from the Good Feet Store are a lot more substantial and can

    actually improve the way you walk or stand. The only issue I have with the Good Feet Store is the cost. You are paying custom prices (very expensive in my opinion) for non-custom or semi-custom orthotics. The semi is just because they have a wide selection for the salesperson to fit you as best as possible.

    Custom orthotics created to mold the foot into the perfect stance is by far what most podiatrists use. They manipulate the foot and hold it in what is called taler neutral, basically, the ideal position of the foot. Then they make a cast which will be the mold to create the orthotic. Another method is to have you stand on a plaster or foam mold from which they create an orthotic. Typically, the orthotic is made of a hard plastic with no flexibility to keep the foot in the same position.

    Either way, this method, in this doctor’s opinion, is outdated and shortsighted. The foot is designed to be flexible. When we walk, the perfect gait is for the heel to strike. Then, the arch flattens out while the foot pronates (flattens inward). Ideally, the flattening of the foot stretches the plantar fascia which creates a taut spring. When the pressure is released, the spring

    pushes off  the big toe to the next step. When you put in a piece of hard plastic, you negate the action of the foot. Essentially, you make your foot into a post. You take away the foot’s ability to absorb shock or act as a dynamic player while walking or running. The shock has to be absorbed by something. If the foot cannot absorb shock then it will certainly transfer to the knee, hip, or low back. Plus, it forces those other structures to compensate for the altered mechanics. Who cares if the foot is in a perfect position when you stand still? We are mobile creatures who need to move and function.

    The best type of orhtotic and hence, the type I offer in my office, is the kind that corrects the gait. Often times, for various reasons, the foot doesn’t perform the way it should. It makes sense to me to help it work the way it was intended and designed. When we create an orthotic we take into consideration the stance and the gait. We have a digital plate that captures the pressure and the pattern of your stance and your gait. The goal is now to create a flexible and dynamic orthotic that will assist your foot in behaving the way it should.

    Not everyone needs orthotics. Every time you add external devices there will be secondary and tertiary reactions. It is difficult to account for all of them. I have had plenty of patients who were wearing orthotics and complaining of all sorts of issues. I told them to take out the inserts and things resolved.  My first course of action when someone asks for an orthotic is to discuss why. Sometimes just adjusting the foot will take care of the foot issue. I also like to look at value. If a patient can resolve their issues with non-custom orthotic for $35, then paying $150 for a  custom pair might not seem worth it. That saying, if you need a custom pair of orthotics, they can be of tremendous benefit and can really preserve not only your foot but your knees, hips, and back, as well.

    Post Script: Don’t let the price fool you. I could easily charge $300-600 for these orthotics (everyone else does). These are made by the same types of labs that do work for every doctor who works with orthotics. I keep my prices low because if people need them I want them to be able to afford them. Do I make much money from them? No. For now I am going to keep them at $150. I actually dropped them down from $200 because I switched to a direct lab and they only charge me around $100 per pair. If you want some, act quickly because the time it takes to gather the information is substantial and I will probably go back up to $200 again, soon (which is still a bargain).