Pain Explained!

Most patients that come to see me are in pain. Most of them do not know why they have pain and how it happened. Acute or chronic pain can be explained and there is a reason why your body is expressing pain. Pain is your body’s way of telling you something is wrong. The cause may not even be in the area you are experiencing pain!

Here is a great video that explains how our brain perceives pain even if there is no tissue damage.

 

Why posture matters

To most people, “good posture” simply means sitting and standing up straight. Few of us realize the importance of posture to our health and performance. The human body craves alignment. When we are properly aligned, our bones, not our muscles, support our weight, reducing effort and strain.  Bad posture puts stress on the head, neck, low back and spinal cord.

The better we stand, the better we feel.  We feel healthier, have more energy, and move gracefully. So while the word “posture” may conjure up images of book-balancing charm-school girls, it is not just about standing up straight. It’s about being aware of and connected to every part of your self.

Posture  is as important as eating right, exercising, getting proper rest and avoiding potentially harmful substances like alcohol, drugs, and tobacco. Good posture is a way of doing things with more energy, less stress and fatigue. Without good posture, you cannot really be physically fit because our muscles are not working properly so we only get minimum results each time we work out.  Without good posture, you can actually damage your spine every time you exercise and create Osteoarthritis due to lack of proper movement.

Ideally, our bones stack up one upon the other: the head rests directly on top of the spine, which sits directly over the pelvis, which sits directly over the knees and ankles. But if you spend hours every day sitting in a chair, if you hunch forward or balance your weight primarily on one leg, the muscles of your neck and back have to carry the weight of the body rather than it being supported by the spine. The resulting tension and joint pressure can affect you not only physically, but emotionally, too, — from the predictable shoulder and back pain to headaches, short attention span, and depression.

Poor posture distorts the alignment of bones, chronically tenses muscles, and contributes to stressful conditions such as loss of vital lung capacity, increased fatigue, reduced blood and oxygen to the brain, limited range of motion, stiffness of joints, pain syndromes, reduced mental alertness, and decreased productivity at work. According to the Nobel Laureate Dr. Roger Sperry, “the more mechanically distorted a person is, the less energy is available for thinking, metabolism, and healing.”

The most immediate problem with poor posture is that it creates a lot of chronic muscle tension as the weight of the head and upper body must be supported by the muscles instead of the bones. This effect becomes more pronounced the further your posture deviates from your body’s center of balance and the longer you have been misaligned.

To illustrate this idea further, think about carrying a briefcase or heavy box. If you had to carry a this with your arms outstretched in front of you, it would not take long before the muscles of your shoulders would be completely exhausted. This is because carrying the briefcase far away from your center of balance places undue stress on your shoulder muscles. If you held the same briefcase down at your side, your muscles would not fatigue as quickly, because the briefcase is closer to your center of balance and therefore the weight is supported by the bones of the skeleton, rather than the muscles.  Now think of what happens when your neck is pushed out forward from your body or your head is looking down for long periods of time.

In some parts of the world, women can carry big pots full of water from distant water sources back to their homes. They are able to carry these heavy pots a long distance without significant effort because they balance them on the top of their heads, thereby carrying them at their center of balance and allowing the strength of their skeleton to bear the weight, rather than their muscles.

Correcting bad posture and the physical problems that result can be accomplished in two ways. The first is by eliminating as much “bad” stress from your body as possible. Bad stress includes all the factors, habits, or stressors that cause your body to deviate from your structural center. Bad stress can result from a poorly adjusted workstation at work, from not having your seat adjusted correctly in your car, or even from carrying too much weight around in a heavy purse or backpack.

The second is by applying “good” stress on the body in an effort to move your posture back toward your center of balance. This is accomplished through a series of exercises, stretches, adjustments, and changes to your physical environment, all designed to help correct your posture. Getting your body back to its center of balance by improving your posture is critically important to improving how you feel.

New Evidence Showing “No Excess Risk Of Carotid Artery Stroke After Chiropractic Care”

In this article they state that patients with carotid artery dissection can present with neck pain and/or headache before experiencing a stroke. These are common symptoms seen by both chiropractors and primary care physicians (PCPs). This study aimed to find out what risks there are of a carotid artery stroke after chiropractic care by comparing association between chiropractic and PCP visits and subsequent stroke.

Here is what happened:

A population-based, case-crossover study was undertaken in Ontario, Canada. All incident cases of carotid artery stroke admitted to hospitals over a 9-year period were identified. Cases served as their own controls. Exposures to chiropractic and PCP services were determined from health billing records.

Results

We compared 15,523 cases to 62,092 control periods using exposure windows of 1, 3, 7, and 14 days prior to the stroke. Positive associations were found for both chiropractic and PCP visits and subsequent stroke in patients less than 45 years of age. These associations tended to increase when analyses were limited to visits for neck pain and headache-related diagnoses. There was no significant difference between chiropractic and PCP risk estimates. They found NO ASSOCIATION between chiropractic visits and stroke in those 45 years of age or older.

Conclusions

No excess risk of carotid artery stroke after chiropractic care was found in this study. Associations between chiropractic and PCP visits and stroke were similar and likely due to patients with early dissection-related symptoms seeking care prior to developing their strokes.

References: 2016 National Stroke Association. Published by Elsevier Inc.

6 Reasons You Get Back Pain!

Did you know that 80% of the population in the United States will have low back pain during their lifetime.  If not treated, it can lead to chronic low back pain which can last for months at a time.

So why do people get back pain? According to Gunnar Andersson, MD, PhD, professor and chairman emeritus of the Department of Orthopedic Surgery at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, the lower back has a lot of mechanical stress and strain put on it. The weight we have in the upper body pushes down along with gravity and puts a load on the low back.

Here are some main reasons for lower back pain:
1. Sedentary lifestyle: Our lives have changed and most of us sit for long periods of time at work and at home. Not moving and sitting in one position puts added strain to the low back and weakens the muscles connecting to the spine.  It also shortens the hamstring muscles which then pull on the hip and low back muscles.

2. Weak Core: Even though someone may lift weights, do yoga, run or bike, the low back can be weak if the core is not activated during such exercises or the exercises they are doing are not promoting the core to engage. Also, if your body is not aligned properly the function of the muscles are inhibited and you will not get the most out of your workout. If the core is weak, putting any added strain on the erector spinae muscles surrounding the low back will agitate the nerves around them and inflammation will begin.

3. Twisting and lifting at the same time: Many people take the back for granted and lift their baby or an item while twisting. This puts a lot of strain on the disks that separate one vertebrae from another and keeps space for the nerves to branch out from the spinal cord. This movement can lead to herniation of the disk and actual disk tears.

4. Sleeping in the wrong position or having an old or the wrong mattress: Sleeping in a twisted position for hours pulls and strains the low back. Just imaging playing twister for 7 hours and see how it would put a strain on your body. Well, sleeping in the wrong position for long periods of time is pretty much like playing twister for hours with the muscles being pulled and strained along with other tissues and bones.

Having a mattress that is caved in or too soft with the back not getting enough support will again pull on the spine and soft tissues leading to disfunction of the spine and lead to sometimes pretty severe pain.

5. Scoliosis: Scoliosis is when there is a lateral curve in the spine. This leads to the body moving differently and tightening muscles on one side more than the other. It also causes one hip to be higher than the other and the shoulders to also be uneven. Think this leads to some back and neck pain? Sure does….

6. Osteoporosis: This is an arthritis that is caused by trauma and overuse of the joints. This means all joints which include the spine and extremities. Most of us are aware of arthritis in the hands and hips but the spine has joints too and they can get arthritis as well. This leads to disfunction of movement which can lead to fusion of the joints which restrict the nerve and cause pain or discomfort.

I often hear people come in and say “I have a pinched nerve!” A nerve being pinched is pretty rare (it does occur), but mostly what is happening is that the nerve is irritated and starts to illicit pain. The only thing in your body that gives off pain and sensation is your nerves. So getting stress off of them is key. A lot of times I hear people say they have muscle pain. Well, muscles don’t produce pain, nerves do. Muscles move, the heart does not produce pain, it is the nerves in and around the heart that do that.

So, when you have pain, it is a nerve and that nerve has been irritated. Now we have to find out why. This is the area that we are masters at. Once we help you find out the cause of why your nerves are irritated, the body will heal and you can get back to doing what you love to do and really thrive again!

What is Spinal Decompression?

Back pain is pretty common these days especially with all of the desk jobs and long hours sitting. We have begun to be more sedentary than we ever were before.

If you have had chronic back pain you may have considered spinal decompression therapy. There is surgical and non-surgical decompression. Lets look at the advantages and risk of each option.

What is Non-surgical Decompression:
Nonsurgical Spinal Decompression is a form of traction that is low force stretching of the spine which opens up the disc space and gets more blood and spinal fluid to the discs.  This will help get the proper nutrients providing growth and healing.  This is really great for bulging discs or herniations.  Taking the stress out of the disk will allow the bulge or herniation to retract a bit and not put so much pressure one the spinal cord.  It is normally not painful and patients normally feel more relaxed and lighter after the treatment.

This is how it works:
A harness is placed on two places on the body to provide stretching of the spine. You can either be on your stomach or back. The doctor will then customize a treatment plan on a computer for a specific treatment time. Treatment times can be from 30 to 45 minutes. Depending on the severity of symptoms and type of ailment, a patient may need 20-30 treatments over a 5 to 7 week time frame.

When is it not okay to have this procedure?
1. During pregnancy
2. Fractures
3. Tumors
4. Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm
5. Fusions of the spine

If you do decide to have Spinal Decompression Surgery (if other measures have not worked out), there are different types that may be considered.

• Diskectomy: A portion of the disk is removed when it is putting pressure on the nerves or spinal cord
• Laminectomy: Removal of the bone to increase the spinal canal. This can be a very large removal or a small removal. Be sure to let your surgeon know you would like it to be as minimal as possible. You don’t want your full spinal cord exposed without protection, that is what the bones are for.
• Foraminotomy/foreinectomy: Removal of bone and tissue around the foramina to expand the space between the bones and the nerve roots.
• Osteophyte removal: These are bone spurs that can be removed to make sure it doesn’t impinge on the nerves or spinal cord.

What can happen after the surgery?
• Infections to the spinal and surgical entry area
• Bleeding (inside or outside)
• Blood clots can occur
• Anesthesia allergic reaction
• Nerve damage
• Tissue damage
• Paralysis
• Death

As you can see, surgery can be very dangerous and should only be considered as a LAST resort. Many people opt for surgery first and in many cases, it does not solve the symptoms at all and can create more problems to the area.

Always try other options like chiropractic and massage, they can help relieve inflammation that may be making the spinal canal smaller and relieve a lot of problems.

Bad Posture Effects Your Mind As Well As Your Body

I remember my mom always on me about sitting up straight on my chair and not looking down when I was walking.  I thought this was just because it didn’t look good so I listened.  However many people don’t listen and work 8+ hours at a computer with bad postural habits.

Slouching is bad for you. It’s bad not only for your physical health because your spinal muscles send messages back to the brain and these are altered with misalignments, but also for your emotional well being as well.

Sitting with your computer eye level instead of looking down is helpful.  Sitting to standing desks help but you still need to be conscious of how you are standing and how you are sitting.

Poor posture may not get you right away but in time it can cause back and neck pain, muscle fatigue, breathing limitations, arthritic joints, digestive problems and mood disturbances. It can also create a bad impression when interviewing for a job, meeting new people and other people’s impressions of you when watching you move about.

Researchers have shown that poor posture can even leave you vulnerable to street crime. Many years ago it was shown in a study where women who walked sluggishly with head and eyes on the ground were much more likely to be mugged than those who walked briskly and purposely with head pointed forward and looking alert.

We have gravity pushing on our body at all times.  If not aligned properly certain muscles will have to work harder than others to keep us upright. This leads to muscle exhaustion and discomfort.

In a study performed on 110 students at SFU in San Francisco.  50% of the students were told to walk slumped and the others were told to skip while walking down the hall, the skippers had a lot more energy throughout the day.

Any repetitive or prolonged position “trains” the body’s muscles and tendons to shorten or lengthen.  This puts a lot of stress on your joints and can reshape them until they are retrained again.   Just as walking in high heels can shorten the plantar fascia and achilles tendon,  slouching while sitting  for hours or standing will eventually lead to permanently rounded shoulders and upper back which I am sure if you live in Slicon Valley, you see a lot of.

Although early humans spent most of their waking hours walking, running and standing, today in developed countries, 75 percent of work is performed while sitting.  Then after work, people either take work home and are on the computer or watch television seated so more hours with slouching.  The more you live a sedentary life, the easier it is to have body discomfort.

“Text neck,” a term coined by a Florida chiropractor, Dean L. Fishman, is a repetitive stress injury resulting from hours spent with the head positioned forward and down while using electronic devices. This leads to tight muscles in the back of the neck and upper back. People who lean forward while sitting may be inclined to clench their jaws and tighten their facial muscles, causing headache and TMJ.

Leaning forward or slouching can also reduce lung capacity by as much as 30 percent (this may be why there is a rise in C-paps).  This reduces the amount of oxygen that reaches the brain, according to Dr. Rene Cailliet, a pioneer in the field of musculoskeletal medicine.

Additionally, slouching or sitting in a rounded position compresses the abdominal organs putting stress on them and decreasing normal digestion and bowel function.

Improving posture requires a conscious effort and often strengthening and flexibility exercises to correct muscular imbalances, according to Nick Sinfield, a British physiotherapist. For example, exercises that strengthen the core, buttocks muscles and back extensors help correct a slouching posture, he said.

So, in conclusion, the habits your mom instilled in you as a child can be helpful to your body and mind.

How Can Musicians Injure themselves?

Musicians must practice long hours and often times develop what is called a repetitive strain injury (RSI).  This can be anywhere in the body from the jaw, arm, leg, hand, fingers, low back, shoulder.  This can greatly effect their jobs and keep them out of work for long periods of time because the discomfort is too hard to deal with while working.   Unfortunately, a lot of musicians and people in general think that discomfort will go away on its own.  If you are experiencing discomfort in your body, it means there is a problem.  Your body is trying to tell you something and is trying to protect itself from further damage by giving you pain or some kind of discomfort so you don’t make your injury worse.

Most times, I see people who have pushed it so far that they now can’t play and can’t work and they want fast results.  Unfortunately, what has happened is an injury and injuries take time and dedication to heal, not to mention stay incident free.

So, how do RSIs happen?

Lets begin by letting you know that the brain and spinal cord (Nervous System) control everything in your body.  That means your organs (heart/lungs), glands (release hormones/substances), tissues, immune system.  As you know, your brain is involved in everything so this should make sense.

Stress interferes with your body, especially your nervous system.  When your body can not get rid of stress it stores in the body and presents itself as a symptom.  There are 3 different stress:

1. Physical: Stressful lifestyle choices like sitting slouched (posture), falls or accidents etc.

2. Chemical: Bad food, pesticides, toxic chemicals in the body (smoking/junk food)

3. Emotional: Stress from Family, work, relationship, death of a loved one or animal

Continued stress from these different areas will cause the body to tighten up and effect your posture, spine and muscles.  Then the nervous system will be effected and then will effect all the areas that the nervous system sends signals to.  This is called a subluxation.  Subluxations untreated will lead to diseases, sickness and discomfort in the body.

What is fairly common is for me to hear people say they felt great before and had no problems and then the symptom suddenly appeared.  Problems arise when the stress keeps happening and nothing is done about it to release it from the system.  Playing an instrument for 8 or more hours per day is stressful to the body.  Eating foods that aren’t good for you causes more stress, then if you are worried about anything else will effect the body as well.  Everything starts building up and the body will give you some signals.  It may be tight or you may feel a tweak or shock for a second and then it goes away.  This is a warning sign of things to come.  Don’t ignore this or next time it will be a harsher signal.  The problem is that people feel these signs and they ignore them until there is so much discomfort that they can’t deal with it anymore.  This is a great example of how built up stress will effect everything and lead to sickness and discomfort.

We can help by getting rid of such stress in the body.  We not only do any physical tests we need to do, but we have a diagnostic machine that tracks stress in the body.  It is non-invasive and will let us know where this stress is storing in the nervous system.  Pretty cool huh?   Give us a call today to make an appointment and see how we can help release stored stress in your body and keep you playing and feeling great at the same time!

Car Accident Injury Rehabilitation

Most people don’t understand how a small accident can cause injuries. It is real easy to understand if someone is in a head on collision or struck at a high speed. You have got to remember that this vehicle is large and even if you may be a large person, it is still a lot more mass that is slamming into you.

Recovery after a car accident can be slow. The soft tissue damage and alignment issues that occur after a car accident can take significant time to heal (months to years). Often times, victims go to their family doctor for pain medication but this normally only offers temporary relief. It has been found that regular chiropractic visits accelerate the process of healing. Soft tissue work, exercise and visiting your chiropractor to get your range of motion back along with rehabilitation of your body can you feel better both mentally and physically. Also, it is imparitive that you drink enough water, get enough rest and eat foods that are good for you to help you heal.

I was recently checking up on Tracy Morgan who was in a automobile accident and is suing Walmart for his injuries. This accident happened in August of 2014.  As of today, April 23, 2015, he is still recovering from his injuries and is not sure when he can get back to work in the entertainment business. Car accidents are dangerous and can show symptoms for years.  If you are in an accident, please get treatment as soon as possible. Waiting will only make the healing process harder since tissues harden and create scar tissue along with improper alignment which leads to bad body mechanics leading to symptoms.

We can help you heal from an accident and help you become healthy and vibrant again. Call our Redwood City Chiropractic office today at (650) 353-1133.

Can I Still Be Hurt after a car accident when there is little damage to my car?

In a study conducted by Charles Carroll, M.D., Paul McAtee, M.D. and Lee Riley, M.D. revealed that: “The amount of damage to the automobile bears little relation to the force applied to the cervical spine (neck) of the occupants.”

A vehicle weighs a ton and you are very small in comparison.  So even with little impact, just the weight of the mass can cause damage.  Think of being tackled on the street by a 200lb. person and you can imagine being hurt right?  Well, a car weighs way more than that and even though you are strapped in and have airbags, it is still a large mass that has slammed into you.  This causes damage.

Like I mentioned earlier, the damage to a car is different to the damage to a person.   Even though your body may work like a machine, it is not and it can lead to pain and issues with how your body works.  Even if there is no pain immediately, the impact can lead to pain later on.

Please give our Redwood City Chiropractic office a call at (650) 353-1133 so we can evaluate you using our technology that has been used by cardiologists and personal trainers on professional athletes and astronauts.  It tracks your body during your care and tells us how you are healing.

Car Insurance, Settlement And Medical Payments

If you get in a car accident and you have Medical Payments on your insurance coverage, your insurance company will pay for you and anyone in the car that has an injury up to policy limits.  This is really good to add to your insurance policy if you don’t already have it and it only costs a small portion more per year (you will be surprised how little).  With this included in your policy, care is easy and effortless on your part.

Now, if you do NOT have medical payments on your car insurance policy and are hit by someone else:

During your care with a doctor, the insurance company for the person who is “at fault” sends a final settlement for damages to you in the mail or sometimes wants verification over the phone.  After this is verified, the insurance company will send out a check within 30 days after you reach this settlement figure for car damages or in some cases, the car repair shop will send the bill directly to the insurance company for repayment.  A “release” is included with the final paperwork to sign for closure of the damage part of your insurance settlement.  You must sign the release and return it to the insurance after which you are free to deposit the check.

Be Careful What You Sign Though….

If you also have a personal injury claim arising out of the same ­accident, which means you are seeing someone for injuries sustained by your car accident.  Be sure to read the documents you are to sign in accepting a property damage settlement. When you receive the check and release document, make sure the words “Property Damage Only” or “Property Damage Claim” are presented on each of the documents requiring signature.  Do not deposit any check or sign any document that reads General Release” or does not clearly indicate “Property Damage.” If you are not certain that either the settlement check or release is properly marked, ask the insurance adjuster to add “Property Damage Only” on the documents and to write you a separate letter confirming that this settlement amount is only for the property damage part of your claim.

This release is FOREVER and if you sign a document which covers your personal injury, you will no longer be compensated for your injuries and your case is closed.  A lot of insurance companies will pressure you to settle your injury claim, but do not do so until you are advised by your doctor that you are indeed finished with care.  Also, there may be future problems with a car accident injury that may not look like it is attributed to the past accident.  Try and make sure to negotiate future medical expenses in your settlement.  If you are not comfortable with the settlement, you may want to contact a lawyer, continue your treatment and have them negotiate with the insurance company.

Check your insurance policy today and find out if you have medical coverage on your policy, you won’t regret it.