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?

Holiday Stress and Chiropractic

Before you get into this article, I want you to take a deep breath in through the nose and out through the mouth. Now, pull your shoulder blades down and lift at the chest while keeping your head in neutral. Feel better? Remember this activity whenever the stresses of the Season start to build up.

As tonight is the first night of Hanukkah, let me first wish my Jewish friends a happy celebration over the next 8 evenings. To my Christian friends, Merry Christmas! To all else, Happy New Year. I think we can all hope for a prosperous and healthy 2012.

This time of year is often difficult for people. The onset of Winter and the shorter amount of daylight certainly doesn’t help. Stress increases both emotionally and physiologically. We have no shortage of things that can stress us out. But, besides just saying, “be calm and don’t stress out,” lets come up with a strategy to cope. First, is to do your best to control your mind. This is difficult. Prayer, meditation, or just  few moments to vegetate will help you be more effective. Take some time each morning to get your mind right and to put things  into perspective. It will make a huge difference.

Second, increase your physical activity. This will increase blood flow and increase the good hormones. You may not have time to go to the gym but try to do things throughout the day that will increase your heart rate in a good way.

Get adjusted. Adjustments have been proven to increase endorphins. In addition, when your nervous system is working properly, all systems will work better and you will feel better. Adjustments will help lessen the physical strain that stress puts on your neck and shoulders, as well. It is not a cure-all but, it will help tremendously.

Finally, do something to help someone else. Serving others will help you feel good and that is what it is all about. Even a simple gesture of letting someone in front of you while driving can improve your mood. If everyone on the streets and in the stores was a little more gracious, the palpable tension in our community would significantly decrease.

There you go. Some simple things  you can do. By the way, I am taking December 26th off to have a little more time with my family after Christmas. I wish you all the best this Holiday Season!

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!

Exams for Books

What you get:
-Initial Exam
-X-rays (if needed)
-1st Adjustment
-New Patients Only

In exchange for:
-Books
-Hard Bound
-New or slightly used
-From the approved list

Offer good through August 19th

Books donated to the John Adams Academy Library
Donations without the exam are appreciated, as well.

If you purchase from Barnes and Nobles until August 13th and use the Book Fair ID # 10530087, John Adams Academy will receive 15% of your purchase.

http://www.facebook.com/gr​oups/218220421561614/

Chiropractic and Evolution

My wife and I got the opportunity to go out this weekend and catch a movie. We saw “X-Men: First Class.” This post is not a review of the movie, though it was entertaining enough. What I love about the X-Men story is the concept that mutation has the ability to create better-than-human abilities. The reality is the opposite. Anyway, in this movie they introduce a character who takes on the code name Darwin because his body adapts to external forces in order to survive. The truth is, the ability to adapt is inherent in all of us. The difference is how quickly we adapt and how much harm the adaptation will cause.

Every time we are exposed to or experience trauma in one form or another, our bodies, by design, form a strategy to cope with the insult. The reaction is one of survival first. This is completely appropriate. However, often times the coping mechanism leaves the body in a state that promotes degenerative change.

Let’s consider a very common example. When a person is rear-ended in an auto accident, the body absorbs a tremendous amount of force. The neck whips back and forth, overstretching ligaments, compressing discs, tearing joint capsule and and shifting vertebrae. To adapt, the body sends in inflammatory chemicals to clean up the damage and cause swelling that will help stabilize a joint. This swelling is fine for a short period of time but, if left unchecked, it will start causing more problems. In addition, the shape of the neck is changed as a result of the trauma. This means that muscles now have to adapt to the new forces due to the change. Joints also have to compensate for the changes in movement patterns. All of these changes are recognized by the nervous system and recorded.

The newly adapted mechanics become the norm. Altered function of joints, muscles and nervous system leads to wear and tear. The only way to counteract the wear and  tear of adaptation is to restore proper function. Chiropractic is great at helping the body return to proper function. It takes time to retrain the body but with consistency, the results are are positive.

Roseville Chiropractor Heading to a Family Reunion!

I will be heading out of town Thursday June 30th through Tuesday July 5th for a family reunion. Dr. Kelly will be covering for me on Thursday, June 30th from 8am-5pm and Dr. Rogers will be covering for me Tuesday morning, July 5th from 8-12:30. We will be closed July 4th in observance of Independence Day. Thanks!

5 Things Weekend Warriors Can do During the Week to Avoid Injury.

I think it was Loverboy that sang, “Everybody’s working for the weekend!” Pretty sure it was. Anyway, I think they were on to something. Being active is certainly a good thing. Unfortunately, our lives are so hectic that during the week we rarely find time to move our bodies as much as we would like to. As a result, we try and make up for it on the weekends. As with anything, extremes can cause problems.

If you sit at a desk with posture that deteriorates over the week, then go and try to play like you used to in college, problems are going to arise. I am not saying that you shouldn’t be a weekend warrior. In fact, I encourage it. But, if you are going to be really active over the weekend and sedentary during the week, please do yourself a favor and do these 5 things to allow yourself to keep active but reduce your risk of injury on the weekends.

1. Hydrate. Keeping hydrated throughout the week has many benefits. First of all it will flush out the toxins you release into your body during physical activity. When muscles have enough water they remain aerobic and will perform longer. Water keeps tissue flexible and improves blood flow. You should drink plenty of water each day (1-2 Liters, minimum per day) but as the weekend activity approaches, increase consistently. If you drink tea, coffee or soda, you’ll need to drink more water as all are diuretics and will deplete your water and electrolytes.

2. Stretch. Keeping muscles flexible will go a long way to avoiding injury and not just to muscles but to joints, as well. Holding a stretch less than 30 seconds only keeps the muscle lengthened for a short period of time. Shoot for about a minute. You only need to stretch power muscles in the legs and arms. Spinal muscles are postural muscles and should not be stretched (that is whole new article I think I’ll write about next). Remember to protect your back when stretching. Here is a video of how to properly stretch the hamstrings (I should probably do more videos of how to stretch all the muscles of the legs and arms).

3. Challenge your coordination. Good coordination will keep you from most sprains and strains. The problem is that if you injure an area it becomes uncoordinated. Do things throughout the week to challenge your coordination or at least stimulate some of those senses. Walking barefoot on various surfaces, picking up things with your toes, balancing things on your feet, brushing your teeth with your non-dominant hand (or any activity like using the computer mouse), etc, will all improve coordination and help you avoid injury.

4. Give your postural muscles a break. I told you not to stretch them so you may be wondering what to do with the muscles of the back and neck. The answer is to shorten those muscles to give them a break. We do way too much bending forward. To counteract, do some back and neck bends. If you are sitting at your desk right now, stand up, put your hands on your low back and pelvis and bend backwards 10 times. Then, put your index and middle fingers in the middle of you neck and bend backwards over them 10 times. See how good you feel! (If you don’t, it is time to make an appointment.)

5. Sleep. I understand that this is a premium. Sleep keeps the nervous system sharp and active. It allows muscles and joints to work like they should and keeps the immune system at peak performance. Please trust me when I say that if you get 7-8 hours of sleep a night you will work efficiently enough that you will actually accomplish more than if you use your sleep time to work. If you  are having a tough time focusing during the day, try a 10 minute power nap. This is not easy but with practice it is a valuable tool.

There you have it. Five things you can work on during the week to help avoid injury during the weekend. Of course, I could add a sixth thing and say get adjusted but I thought that was pretty obvious.

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.

What Do You Expect From Your Doctor?

I had an interesting conversation with a patient this morning. He asked me if it was common for a doctor to charge extra to fill out temporary disability forms. I really don’t know whether it is common, but it doesn’t surprise me. In fact, it is indicative of the brave, new, yet undetermined health care culture that is formulating these days.

In the past, we or our employers paid a lesser amount for health insurance. Deductibles were lower as were co-pays. The doctors were paid well and that is the way it was. I don’t believe the above mentioned situation was even considered. Now, we pay significantly more for insurance which covers much less, with increased deductibles and co-pays and doctors get paid less each year. In short, we are paying a lot more out of our own pocket for our health care and doctors aren’t compensated like they were accustomed.

As Americans, we expect to get what we pay for. Value is the key. Most of us don’t mind paying a little more if the value is there. However, the ability to choose what level of service we want is still important. Herein lies the lies the problem!

We are paying so much more out of pocket that we are no longer ambivalent to accepting poor service or care. We want service and results and, like any commodity, we want it for a good price. However, choices are still limited. First, the majority of doctors are still under the thumbs of insurance companies. Second, most of us still expect our insurance companies to cover care and therefor are obligated to go to one of the insurance companies’ in network doctor.

So, what is our plan? We can continue to pay more for less. That is the trend. Universal healthcare is one option, although I might debate whether the actual net cost for the middle class would be less. The care, in terms of service, would doubtfully improve under universal healthcare. Still it might be better that being stuck here in the middle.

The other option is to let demand create a supply. Demand better service and care from your doctor and be willing to pay for it. I personally sought out an insurance plan that just covers my family in case of a serious problem. Otherwise, I pay out of pocket and have found doctors who realize the business potential of treating patients for cash instead of wasting time and money on fighting insurance companies for reduced payment. It is not easy to find such progressive thinking doctors but they are out there. If they start to do well and other doctors see they are successful, give good valuable service, and are not frustrated, they will switch. Otherwise, what do you expect?

Winner of Free Chiropractic Care for March!

Congratulations to Teresa B. who just won free chiropractic care for the entire month of March!

If you want to win free care for April, check out the blog from time to time and make a comment. I will take all of the people who commented and put their name in the drawing March 27th. Winners will be notified by email.