Chiropractic is Not What You Think: The Science & Art of Healing

Chiropractic is Not What You Think: The Science & Art of Healing

A Parent’s Story

by Ed Arranga, guest author

Young girl's back being adjusted by a female chiropractor

“Chiropractic did not originate to treat pain: it originated to promote health.” — Anonymous

Chiropractic is known around the world. There are chiropractors in over 100 countries and 90 of those countries have national associations. The American Chiropractic Association estimates that the nation’s roughly 77,000 chiropractors care for more than 35 million Americans every year. But there seems to be a disconnect when it comes to the general public’s understanding of how they can help us improve our health.

Woman holding her back in painEveryone has a cousin or friend or knows someone who hurt their neck or back and went to a chiropractor to get help. That’s about the extent of interaction the general population has with the profession.

You see chiropractic offices tucked away in strip malls next to laundromats and liquor stores. They are largely invisible, never seen or talked about anywhere.

The sales pitch sounds like a bad marketing campaign from the 1950s — “health and wellness” — carrying with it the same promissory weight as the term “beauty salon.”

The profession has been around for more than 120 years. Sure, if you slip and fall and twist your back, you’ll think about finding a chiropractor. You remember they helped your cousin that one time. What more do you need to know?

And then one day, your son develops a chronic, debilitating cough that won’t go away…

A Growing Problem

My son, Jarad, developed a cough a few years ago, and my concern heightened as the cough became more frequent. The cough was almost constant and getting worse. We tried many healthful items like cups of tea with honey, a vaporizer, and decongestants, but this did not slow the cough’s trajectory.

We saw many different doctors: ear, nose, and throat specialists; neurologists; an allergist; and a gastroenterologist. None of their prescriptions worked.

We knew it wasn’t postnasal drip, asthma, gastroesophageal reflux, chronic bronchitis, chemical irritation, whooping cough, or a host of other possibilities, but we still didn’t know what it actually was.

The hacking was continual and, at this point, it had been going on for more than 2 years.

I didn’t know how my son’s throat could withstand the irritation of the sometimes very strong coughing. Several of the doctors began suggesting it was in my son’s head — a psychosomatic disorder.

It was time to move away from naysayers and find answers.

A Different Paradigm

“Look well to the spine for the causes of disease.”— Hippocrates

A friend advised me to bring my son to a local chiropractor. The initial intake assessment and exam were remarkably quick. The chiropractor placed Jarad on an upper-leaning adjustment table, grasped his head in his hands, and gently rotated his head in one direction and then the other, with the characteristic cracking noise (the cracking sound you hear is not bone, it’s gas — synovial gas — escaping from the joint) occurring each time.

Illustration of the Thoracic VertebraeThe chiropractor had Jarad turn over and lie on his stomach, feeling along his spine and putting pressure on the T5 vertebrae, in the thoracic area (the upper back.) The head turning along with the popping sound was repeated with both adjustments, and he tolerated the process well. In fewer than 3 minutes, we were done. An hour later, Jarad coughed.

It was the first time in over 2 years he went more than a minute without coughing. Jarad didn’t cough again the rest of the day. After 3 visits, his cough was 90 percent gone!

What had just happened? Why didn’t I know about this sooner?

It brought me back to a time 20 years ago when I was told there was no hope for helping my son’s autism. The “experts” told me to give up and move on, “Autism is now and forever, and there’s nothing you can do to help.”

That wasn’t true then, and it wasn’t true now. The coughing was NOT a figment of my son’s imagination.

And so I began to really comprehend, as Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics reports, “Proper motion and alignment of the spinal synovial joints is a genetic requirement for health and a lack of proper motion in the spine represents a stressor.”

Health is Not the Absence of Pain

Today, 53 to 54 percent of children suffer from a chronic illness. There is an explosion of neurodevelopmental disorders that include autism, PDD-NOS, OCD, and ADHD.

Definition of the word ADHDBehaviors exhibited in children diagnosed with ADHD (attention-deficit / hyperactivity disorder), specifically the inability to pay attention and being in constant motion, are manifestations of chronic stress.

An acute injury is very painful and needs immediate attention, but a chronic condition often sneaks up on someone unexpectedly. The joints send stress signals to the brain, and the brain releases stress hormones.

With this type of condition there is no pain, but the body is sick and will continue to send stress signals until all the conditions associated with chronic stress begin to manifest themselves in the body.

Spinal joints that are out of alignment will not move properly, will begin to degenerate, and will cause inflammation. Being chronically out of alignment will cause a chronic stress response. One might think it would be painful, but it’s not. That’s a misconception and major difference between acute and chronic illness.

When subluxations occur in the spine, these misalignments cause tension in the spinal cord or the nerves exiting from the spine. This causes an interference or imbalance in the nervous system messages to the various organs, tissues, glands, and cells.

This means the brain cannot communicate with the body nor the body with the brain as efficiently or effectively as nature intended, which leads to various dysfunctions and symptoms.

The Havoc of Stress

Understanding the basic stress response of the body provides the building blocks behind the art and science. When a person is placed in a stressful situation, the brain releases stress hormones, such as adrenaline, cortisol, norepinephrine, and others. The heart rate and blood pressure increase to send the hormones everywhere in the body.

Chronic Stress shown via 4 emojisThe body enters a state of upregulation, which is the process of increasing the ability to respond to stress. Catabolic processes begin breaking down complex compounds and molecules to release energy. There is an increase of cholesterol, blood-clotting factors, blood sugar, and fatty acids in the blood.

Catabolic activity is metabolically expensive, requiring that anabolic activities (healing, growth, and repair) are put on hold. The immune system is downregulated, which is the process of reducing or suppressing a response to a stimulus. Cell-modulated immunity is decreased. There is a decrease in factual memory and learning capability.

During an acute stress response, the senses of sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste are heightened. The body is adapting to the situation and these varied responses are intelligent.

Survival depends on the ability of the body to properly respond to stressful changes in the environment.

The dangers arise when the acute stress response becomes chronic. The decrease in healing; growth; repair; memory; and brain-, organ-, and immune-function, is no longer temporary — it becomes permanent. The increase in cholesterol, blood glucose, fatty acids, and insulin is off the charts.

The increase in insulin downregulates the production of HGH (human growth hormone), the hormone responsible for longevity, anti-aging, healing, growth, and repair. Excessive insulin then prevents the production or proper utilization of magnesium, the mineral which is responsible for relaxing both skeletal and smooth muscles, the arteries, and the heart.

How Chiropractic Works

Chiropractors study physiology — the branch of biology that deals with normal functions of living organisms and their parts. Medical doctors study physiology too, but then focus mostly on pathology — the study of the origin, nature, and course of diseases.

Chiropractic returns healthful motion to the spine, which returns healthful motion to the body.

Daniel David Palmer, founder of chiropracticD.D. Palmer, chiropractic’s founder, defines chiropractic as, “a philosophy, science and art of things natural; a system of adjusting the segments of the spinal column by hand only, for the correction of the cause of dis-ease.”

Palmer also said, “Chiropractic is a restorative healthcare profession that focuses on the inherent healing capacity of the body and the fact that the nervous system is the primary system involved in that healing and repair.”

Steve Tullius, a pediatric chiropractor in San Diego stated, “Chiropractors are specifically trained to locate and gently correct these structural imbalances in the spine, known as vertebral subluxations, and by doing so, restoring balance and function to the nervous system.”

Chiropractic care adjustments facilitate health and function.

Chiropractic and the Immune System

A very important part of keeping our immunity strong is the lymphatic system. It consists of a network of lymph nodes, ducts, and vessels that move the lymph (a fluid made of white blood cells and chyle) from various parts of the body into the bloodstream. The lymph nodes are responsible for making immune cells that help to fight infections.

The better the lymph is able to travel through the body, the more it is able to carry the infection-fighting cells to every part.

The lymphatic system is connected to both the central nervous system and the musculoskeletal system. A chiropractic adjustment helps the central nervous system by removing subluxations that prevent proper communication throughout the body. The musculoskeletal system transports the lymph through the body as we move and contract our muscles.

Adjustments allow for more movement in the muscles, which increases movement of the lymph.

A Learning Experience

Illustration of the Cervical VertebraeAfter examining Jarad’s spine and nervous system, Dr. Holland explained that he had found areas in Jarad’s spine that were misaligned — specifically vertebral subluxations at C1 (cervical or neck area) and T5.

Dr. Holland began a series of gentle adjustments to restore normal movement and function to the spine, allowing the body to communicate more effectively. As a result, we saw Jarad’s cough disappear.

The source of the problem were the misalignments which were not allowing Jarad’s lymph glands to operate as they should.

His lymph glands were overflowing, causing Jarad to cough and swallow continuously in an attempt to clear them.

Jarad’s schedule consisted of 2 adjustments a week (generally Monday and Friday), for 6 weeks, during the corrective phase, dropping down to 1 adjustment a week during the support phase, for 6 weeks. Going forward, I plan to take Jarad once a month to help keep him subluxation free.

As a parent, I’m grateful to chiropractic for restoring Jarad’s health, and grateful to the chiropractic doctors who soldier on, rarely being given the recognition they deserve, while routinely performing some of the most extraordinary reversals of health fortunes in the healthcare industry.

Reference: https://www.focusforhealth.org/chiropractic-not-what-you-think-science-art-of-healing/

 

Do You Suffer From Low Back Pain? by Dr. Kelly Blundy & Dr. Josh Jagoda

You ‘ve heard about it, or maybe even felt it from time to time, but we come across it every day!  Yes, that uncomfortable neck pain that you have been experiencing, can really put a damper on your day and how you feel.  It can affect everything from driving, basic conversation, attitude,  or even sitting at your computer.

In many cases, we have seen neck pain that is accompanied by other symptoms such as shoulder pain, pain in between the shoulder blades, weakness, and even numbness and tingling into the hands.  When the weakness, numbness and/or tingling occurs, it tends to be a little more severe. This can be due to an affected nerve root, or maybe you have heard the phrase, “I have a pinched nerve.”  This is also known as radiculopathy. Radiculopathy’s can occur in the neck or the low back and is when one or more nerve roots are being irritated due to an injury. Some examples include disc herniation’s or disc bulges.  The pressure and/or inflammation that occurs near the spine typically causes the nerve to become more sensitive. Many patients often report numbness or tingling in addition to their pain.  If the neck is the area of injury, the arm, forearm or hands can likely be affected.  This is because the nerve begins in the neck and ends in the hand. So if the nerve is being irritated in any way it can cause symptoms at any point along the nerve. If the lower back is the area of injury, you may be experiencing pain, numbness or tingling into the hip, pelvis, thigh, leg or even the feet.  It is possible to have more than one nerve root affected at a time and this often results in multiple areas of the body experiencing pain.

“Hey, Doc, I just bent over to pick up a pen and my back/neck went out on me!”  That is a line we hear all the time!  Usually, within a few hours or days the patient typically tells us that they started to feel pain or other symptoms into their arms or hands.

Patients tend to believe that it was the act of bending over to pick up that pen that initially caused their pain.  What most people don’t realize is that our bodies can handle a lot before we ever begin to feel any symptoms. Think about the last time you may have had a visit with your dentist. You go in for your routine check-up and usually have to get a set of x-rays. Oh no!….. a cavity! But you don’t feel any pain in your tooth. How can that be? Well that’s because it takes a certain amount of pressure or damage to be done before our brains can register the sensation of pain.  What if we actually took care of the problem before enough damage was done to cause the sensation of pain or any other symptom?

Repetitive or improper use, lack of strength/flexibility, and what I call “poor spinal hygiene” or bad posture are some of the major causes and contributors to neck pain, back pain and of course, radicular nerve pain.

So, what is your next step? First, I recommend that you don’t take this lightly. You need to get evaluated by a medical professional, like a chiropractor, to make sure you can get a proper diagnosis of what the problem is and that your pain is not coming from another source.  Then, most importantly you will be given a treatment plan that will not only help ease your pain but also fix your problem.

I often get dealt questions such as “how long will this take, what should I do, heat or ice, etc? When I first see a patient who has these problems my first objective is to One, Identify the problem. Two, Get you out of pain and three, correct the problem!  As a healthcare professional, there are steps and specific goals that the doctor and patient have to take together before they can move forward with the care.  Much like diet and exercises, you need to have a strong foundation before you can advance to the next level.  The same is true for treatment of patients.

Phase I, which is known as the “Acute Phase,” is the period where the patient is in pain and has inflammation.  In order to progress to the next stage, it is very important to reduce any inflammation and ease pain so that the patient can move into the next phase of care.

Phase 2, is the corrective phase.  This is a stage of care where the doctor will start addressing the problem by restoring function to the bones, muscles, ligaments, and tendons. Restoring the function of these structures will ensure that the body is aligned properly, moving correctly and your pain levels are continuing to decrease.

Phase 3, is called the stabilization phase.  This is the most important phase. Continuing care and strengthening the area is of upmost importance.  Making sure that the joint is “stable” and strong will increase the likelihood that your problem will not return.

Below are our top 5 steps of things you should do if you are experiencing neck and/or back pain with radicular (nerve/numbness/tingling) symptoms.

 

  1. 1.    Get an evaluation in a timely matter –It is important to make sure you know what is going on with your body.  Making sure that you are healthy is extremely important and you want to make sure that this condition is not only treatable but also not getting worse.  Plus it takes less time and cost less to fix a problem in the beginning stages then waiting for it to become more severe.
  2. 2.    Write some questions down to ask the doctor – Being informed and prepared is critical.  Having a good working knowledge of your condition, when it started, how it occurred, and what you can do to help engages you and can accelerate your recovery time. 
  3. 3.    Be prepared to see other healthcare professionals – Sometimes you need to see other professionals to follow up with your care.  XRAY,MRI, CT scans, EMG/NCV’s may be necessary to properly diagnose your condition. We want to have the appropriate information to best treat your condition.
  4. Inquire about an Anti-inflammatory diet and/or other natural was to reduce inflammation and pain – A large portion of pain is due to inflammation in the body.  Things like arnica oil, essential oils, ice and diet are natural ways you can reduce inflammation within the body.  Always ask us “how to” cut down your inflammation is an important way to decrease your level of pain and heal faster.
  5. Follow up with care and stay consistent – You likely didn’t hurt yourself due to a single event. It takes time for your body to heal but there are things such as rehabilitation and diet that can speed up the process.   Having consistent care will only help your recovery, strengthen your body and fix the problem so it doesn’t occur again in the future.

 

Sciatica, Low Back Pain, Lumbar Spine Disc Herniations and Pinched Nerves!

We have been seeing a lot more sciatica in the practice lately.  I guess there could be many reasons for that.

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  • We have had some late season snow (the wet and heavy kind) and shoveling has been a hassle
  • It is the end of winter and patient’s have been sedentary for a few months and have been getting weak, or
  • People are just doing things they shouldn’t be doing.

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Everyone always ask me, “How did this happen to me?”  The answer is not that easy because there are so many reasons you can get Sciatica.  So I try to break it down:

Sicatica is caused when the sciatic nerve is being pinched.  The pinch could come from a lot of structures or reasons, but I will list the most common.

a) A herniated disc at L4, L5 or S1.  That means the jelly from inside the disc is coming out and putting pressure directly on the sciatic nerve.  The nerve gets compressed and causes sciatica.

b) Muscle spasm, most commonly at the Piriformis muscle.  What happens is that sometimes the sciatic nerve pierces right through the Piriformis muscle and when the muscle gets tight it squeezes the sciatic nerve in between it causing sciatic pain.

c) Arthritis!  That’s right, that good old Arthur-itis as my family calls it.  When the body develops arthritic spurs, these are little pieces of bone growth outside the normal bone.  These bone growths can also put pressure on the sciatic nerve at the levels of L4, L5 and S1 also.

d) Pregnancy is the lasty most common cause.  When the fetus starts to grow and the uterus expands it begins to move organs out f the way to make room.  Organs like the stomach and diaphragm move up (this causes the indigestion and acid reflux) and others move down, which can also push and compress the sciatic nerve causing sciatic pain.

Again, there so many other causes of Sciatica, but these are the most common I see at The Spine adn Health Center of Montvale.

Once we have diagnosed the exact cause of the sciatica we can then develop the correct treatment plan to rehabilitate.  The problem I see out there is that the cause of the sciatica is not properly diagnosed, it is then not treated properly and patients will either not see any improvment with their pain and discomfort or the relief will be short lived and the pain will come back over and over again.  At the Spine and Health Center of Montvale, we identify the exact cause and administer the proper treatment and that is why we ge tgood results.

I hope this answered a lot of questions about Sciatica and the causes.  I am always available for any questions you may have.  Just email me from the website if you’d like or call and I would be happy to answer any questions you may have.  If you are local, pop on in to one of the offices and say hi!

 

 

How To Reduce Back Pain While Sitting In A Office Chair

How back pain results from sitting in an office chair
Sitting in office chairs for prolonged periods of time can be a major cause of back pain. Sitting is a static posture that can cause increased stress in the back, neck, arms and legs, and can add a tremendous amount of pressure to the back muscles and spinal discs. Additionally, sitting in a slouched-over or slouched-down position in an office chair can overstretch the spinal ligaments and strain the spinal discs.

Besides being uncomfortable, over time, poor sitting posture and workplace ergonomics can damage spinal structures and contribute to recurrent episodes of back pain.

Guidelines for sitting in an office chair
Here are some important guidelines to help make sure that your office chair and work area is as comfortable as possible and causes the least amount of stress to your spine:

1. Elbow measure
Begin by sitting comfortably as close as possible to your desk so that your upper arms are parallel to your spine. Rest your hands on your work surface (e.g. desktop, computer keyboard). If your elbows are not at a 90-degree angle, move your chair either up or down.

2. Thigh measure
Check that you can easily slide your fingers under your thigh at the leading edge of the chair. If it is too tight, you need to prop your feet up with an adjustable footrest. If there is more than a finger width between your thigh and the chair, you need to raise the desk/work surface so that you can raise your chair.

3. Calf measure
With your bottom against the chair back, try to pass your clenched fist between the back of your calf and the front of your chair. If you can’t do that easily, the chair is too deep. You will need to adjust the backrest forward, insert a lumbar support, or get a new office chair.

4. Lower-back support
Your bottom should be pressed against the back of your chair, and there should be a cushion that causes your lower back to arch slightly so that you don’t slump forward as you tire. This support is essential to minimize the load (strain) on your back. Never slump or slouch in your chair, as that places extra stress on your spine and lumbar discs.

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 5. Eye level

Close your eyes while sitting comfortably with your head facing forward. Slowly open your eyes. Your gaze should be aimed at the center of your computer screen. If your computer screen is higher or lower than your gaze, you need to either raise or lower it.

6. Armrest
Adjust the armrest of your chair so that it just slightly lifts your arms at the shoulders. Use of an armrest on your office chair allows you to take some of the strain off your neck and shoulders, and it should make you less likely to slouch forward in your chair.

Alternatives to a traditional office chair
While this article is about traditional office chairs, some people prefer more active, ergonomic chairs, such as a Swedish kneeling chair or a Swiss exercise ball. Traditional chairs are designed to provide complete support, but a kneeling chair (or Swedish kneeling chair) promotes good posture without a back support, and an exercise ball (or Swiss ball) helps develop your abdominal and back muscles while you sit. It’s advisable to first talk with your doctor prior to using one of these types of chairs if you have an injured back or other health problems.

Avoid static posture while sitting in office chairs
Finally, no matter how comfortable you are in your office chair; prolonged, static posture is not good for your back. Try to remember to stand, stretch and walk for at least a minute or two every half hour. Moving about and stretching on a regular basis throughout the day will help keep your joints, ligaments, muscles and tendons loose, which in turn will help you feel more comfortable, more relaxed and more productive.