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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.
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.
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!
When: Saturday, March 12th from 10:00 am until 2:00 pm
Where: Thomas Chiropractic Roseville, 720 Sunrise Ave., Suite B-104
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.
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.
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).
Pardon my rant for moment and please consider what I am about to say. Pain is a symptom or an indicator. Pain is annoying. Pain can be frustrating. Pain can even be debilitating. Treating for pain, however, is a terrible way help someone get out of pain.
The origins of pain are not well understood and can be a very deep topic. That saying, from my study, most of our pain is distributed through the limbic center of the brain. The limbic system is really the emotional center of the brain. So, to me, pain is an emotional response. Ever notice that some people have a high pain threshold and others have little to none? Likewise, some cultures are very stoic about pain while others are extremely passionate. The very same stimulus can be applied but the reaction is completely different.
Don’t get me wrong. Pain is very real. I am not suggesting we write off anyone in pain with the idea that it is all in their head. What I am suggesting is that we keep pain in perspective. Bad pain does not always mean horrible damage. Likewise, some of the most serious damage to the human body can display very little pain. Furthermore, pain can be a good thing when it gives a warning that something can be harmful. Have you ever stepped on hot sand and immediately pulled away so you didn’t burn your feet? What if you were a diabetic with poor blood circulation and therefor poor feeling in your feet. Would you say that it was a good thing to burn your feet because you couldn’t feel it? Of course not!
Rather than focus on the pain of an injury, I like to focus on the rehabilitation or function. If we only treated for pain, very few people would ever recover. Rehabilitating an injury whether chronic or acute can be painful. Let me say that again, TREATMENT CAN BE PAINFUL! Sometimes we have to break down a lot of scar tissue. This will be painful. When you are dealing with functional and physical medicine, like chiropractic, the end result is to get you functional which will eventually lead to less pain. By the way, this takes time.
Please don’t kid yourself that you can rehabilitate an injury without pain or discomfort. It is just not how the body works. Would you expect to work with a personal trainer to get in shape and never feel soreness or fatigue? Instead, focus on improving function and accept pain for what it is. In the words of the Dred Pirate Roberts aka Westley from The Princess Bride, -“Life is pain, your highness. Anyone who tells you differently is selling something.”
I get asked quite frequently whether to use ice or heat on an aching joint. When in doubt, use ice but use it properly. I have outlined protocols for icing below. That is not to say that there are not times when heat is appropriate, but icing is almost always beneficial if done right, whereas heat can cause problems on a new or inflamed injury.
The rule of thumb is that if the injury is acute or new within the last 6 weeks or if it is an exacerbation of an injury, use ice. Heat is good for loosening up sore muscles and stiff joints. If you need to get things moving, heating for 20 minutes can be very therapeutic. Be careful though. If you heat an inflamed joint, it will feel better while it is on but the heat will increase the inflammation and not only cause more discomfort but also prolong your healing. As a precaution, I typically recommend using heat only if you are going to be moving around (ie. never before or during bedtime). If you are going to use heat before bed, follow it up with ice. That way you won’t wake up feeling like you were hit by a train.
Icing is not as simple as just putting something cold on you for a little while. If done properly, it can be extremely beneficial. If done improperly, it will have little to no benefit. So, here are the rules to using ice properly.
1. Cover the affected area. Not using enough ice will not drive the inflammation away enough to make it worth the pain of icing. A nice big ice pack for big areas like the back, legs, and arms is critical. Conversely, for feet and hands, an ice pack might not be good at all. I usually recommend an ice bucket if the body part fits. ***I will explain those protocols below.
2. Make sure the ice penetrates. Too often, people will put a bath towel between the ice pack and the affected area. Their excuse is usually that it is too cold. They are missing the point. It is supposed to be cold! You should only use a paper towel or thin t-shirt in between.
3. Let it go numb. If the area you are icing doesn’t get numb you really haven’t done it right. When icing you should feel it get cold which should then start to burn. (Be careful not to get an actual ice burn. On rare occasion, if the ice pack is too cold and it is up against sensitive skin it can burn the skin. This shouldn’t happen with most ice packs if you have a paper towel in-between.) After the burning feeling, the area should start to ache until it goes numb. Once it is numb, you are done!
4. Never ice longer than 20 minutes. After 20 minutes the body sends out a signal that the area is developing frostbite and will send more blood to the area. As icing helps to drive blood/inflammation away, sending more blood in is a bad thing. If after 20 minutes the area never got numb, take it off and wait 40 minutes to ice again.
5. Wait 40 minutes before you can ice again. Make sure the affected area is back to regular body temperature before you shock it again with ice.
***Ice Bucket Protocol: Use an ice bucket for ankles/feet and hands/wrists. This is by far the best way to drive out inflammation from these areas.
1. Get a bucket big enough.
2. Put as much ice in it that will cover your affected extremity.
3. Fill it with water to the same level.
4. Cover fingers or toes with a sock.
5. Immerse the extremity.
6. Keep it moving gently to keep the water immediately surrounding from warming up.
7. Ice until numb (usually around 5 minutes).
8. Repeat once the limb is back to body temperature.