Reasons why people bite their nails, pull their own hair and pick skin

Do you have a “bad” habit like biting nails, pulling out your hair or picking at your skin on your feet?

Why do you do this? Is it anxiety?, boredom?, for an interesting flaw?

I was a nail biter for 50 years and one day decided to stop biting after listening to Tony Robbins. He told a story about negotiating a contract with a multimillion dollar company. When the paperwork was presented to him to sign, a business woman refused the deal because she thought if he didn’t have the discipline to not bite his nails, he was not the right man for the job. This really hit me over the head and I stopped biting my nails and have not bitten them since.

These behaviors are repetitive type behaviors and research has been done to figure out why people have these habits even when they know it is bad for their nails, skin, hair, feet and hands.

According to Researchers from the Institut universitaire en santé mentale de Montréal and the University of Montreal, Canada, women that bite their nails occurred when they were stressed, frustrated or bored. They did not bite their nails when they were not anxiety ridden or busy.

However, even though these habits are repetitive, they also seem to give each person a reward. A researcher by the name of O’Connor (and colleagues) studied 24 individuals with these who bit their nails, pulled out their hair and picked at their skin. They then compared this group to 24 people who did not.

After filling out questionnaires which attempted to promote boredom, anger, anxiety, guilt and irritability and having phone conversations with each individual

Participants completed questionnaires to assess emotions such as boredom, anger, guilt, irritability and anxiety and also took part in a clinical evaluation over the phone.

After that, these individuals were then exposed to different situations, to stir one of four emotions:

1. Stress
2. Relaxation
3. Frustration
4. Boredom.

Videos for some such as of a plane crash or waves on a beach. To promote frustration, the researchers gave tasks to individuals and told them it was quick and easy when it was really difficult. Boredom was tested by leaving the participant alone in a room by themselves for around 6 minutes.

What they found was subjects with that exhibited nail biting, pulling hair and picking their skin reported a higher eagerness to engage in such behaviors when bored or frustrated but not when relaxed.

Researchers then assumed by these results that these individuals only engaged in these behaviors when under stress or bored but stated it was not simply a nervous habit.
O’Connor concluded that people who engage in such behaviors have perfectionist traits. He believed that “they are unable to relax and to perform tasks at a ‘normal’ pace. They are therefore prone to frustration, impatience and dissatisfaction when they do not reach their goals”.

He also stated that these individuals get bored quicker than non-perfectionists.

Even being a perfectionist (I am one myself), there are tools you can use to stop these behaviors. Meditation, exercise, patience practices can all be used to help stop these behaviors if you want to.

Good luck!

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.

Does Chiropractic Treatment affect my gallbladder, liver, heart and other organs?

Yes it can.  According to every medical journal and textbook, the spine and nerves coming off of the spine transmit signals to every muscle, organ, tissue and gland in the body.

Your spinal vertebrae house your spinal cord and nerves. Each time you are adjusted by a chiropractor it influences the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS). This system regulates everything in the body. It tells your heart when to beat, lungs when to breathe and automatically digests all of the food you eat. It also connects to the immune system. This happens without you thinking about it. The body works and regulates all on its own and heals on its own as well.

In most cases when a patient first visits a chiropractor, they are coming in for some type of discomfort. Pain, discomfort and malfunction of the body is all a sign that something is wrong. Pain is the way the body is protecting the area from further damage and saying “take care of me or you won’t be able to use me.” When a chiropractor treats you, they are not only helping the symptom in which you came in with, but also affecting the nerves that are also connected to the painful area including the organs.

According to the Merck Manual which is used by everyone in the medical community and all physicians:
“Disorders of the autonomic nervous system can affect any body part or process. Autonomic disorders may result from other disorders that damage autonomic nerves (such as diabetes), or they may occur on their own. Autonomic disorders may be reversible or progressive”.

Many times patients are really surprised when they find out that their digestion and elimination has improved with mid back and low back treatment. How does this happen? Well, the nerves that are attached to the mid back and low back are connected to the digestive area, intestines and rectum leading to better processing of food. Make sense?

The ANS also has 2 main divisions:

1. Sympathetic
2. Parasympathetic

Each and every second our brain has to process what is happening in our environment and decide how it is going to react and adapt to what is being presented to us.

If we are frightened, stressed or exercising, our Sympathetic (fight or flight) system is at work. If we want to sleep or digest our food, our parasympathetic system has to increase and sympathetic system decreases to allow our body to slow down and process food or fall asleep. We can’t sleep if we are walking or scared right? How we adapt and react to our environment and any stress presented to us is vital to our health.

What else is the ANS responsible for?

1. Regulation of blood pressure

2. The rate of our heartbeat

3. Our breathing

4. Our body temperature

5. Processing and digestion of food

6. Our metabolism (rate at how our body breaks down our foods)

7. Balance of Electrolytes (magnesium, potassium, sodium etc.)

8. Urinary tract (kidney/bladder)

9. Elimination (Intestines/bowel)

10. Reproductive organs

Many organs are regulated by both the sympathetic and the parasympathetic nervous system. Depending on the situation, the organ may act completely different.

For example, you eyes react differently when one system overrides the other. Sympathetic: Pupils dilate to see as much as they can to look for predators or stressors in the environment. Parasympathetic: Pupils constrict because the body is relaxed and not having to see as far because it is not stressed.

In general, our sympathetic system is our “primal” body instinct that protects us from harm.

The parasympathetic system is slower paced and takes care of daily rejuvenation or resetting type situations like sleeping for healing and digestion for cleansing and elimination.

Again, since the ANS is the brain and spinal cord, when we put an impulse to your bones which house these areas, it transmits a signal to the nerves that run to the organ, tissue or gland in that area. The brain interprets the information and decides which system will be used after the body receives this impulse. We do more than just help relieve pain, we help the body function at its highest capacity!

13 issues associated with chronic inflammation

Why is inflammation so damaging to the body?
Inflammation is our body’s response to stress.  Everyday we are exposed to some sort of stress.  How we deal with it is really important.  Unless we have a way to get rid of the stress, it will store and present itself later as a symptom in the body.   This could range from depression, headaches, digestive problems or any other type of malfunction or discomfort.

“When the immune system senses one of these dangers, it responds by activating proteins meant to protect cells and tissues. “In a healthy situation, inflammation serves as a good friend to our body,” says Mansour Mohamadzadeh, PhD, director of the Center for Inflammation and Mucosal Immunology at the University of Florida.” “But if immune cells start to overreact, that inflammation can be totally directed against us.” This type of harmful, chronic inflammation can have a number of causes, including a virus or bacteria, an autoimmune disorder, sugary and fatty foods, or the way you handle stress. Here are a few ways it can affect your health, both short-term and long.”

Here are some of the affects of inflammation:

  1. Infection fighter:
    Inflammation is most visible happens when you experience a sprain or strain. Inflammation is an automatic response to an injury or illness.  This is the body’s way of trying to heal the area.   when it’s helping to repair a wound or fight off an illness:  The area swells up, becomes warmer.  This is a sign that the immune system is doing what it is supposed to do when injured.  The immune system starts to send white blood cells and nutrition to the area necessary for healing.  This should only be a temporary thing and this response should go away once the injury or infection is gone.

2.  Emotionally stressful situations:
If you are under large amounts of emotional stress, your sympathetic nervous system “fight or flight” will kick in.  This response increases your adrenaline levels which may be necessary for extra energy in case you need to run or protect yourself.  This is a good thing but chronic stress for long periods of time can cause C-reactive proteins in the body to be elevated for long periods which will lead to many health conditions like heart disease, headaches, multiple myeloma, stroke, peripheral vascular disease, Sjogren’s syndrome, obesity, costochondritis, heart attack, osteomyelitis and many more.

3. It causes autoimmune and digestive issues:
There are many immune cells around the intestines.  There is also healthy bacteria in the gut that helps keep your intestines strong and healthy.  With chronic inflammation, the immune system starts to treat this bacteria as a toxin or invader and begins to react to the bacteria and start fighting it.

This reaction now becomes an autoimmune condition such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Crohn’s Disease, Ulcerative Colitis etc.   These conditions can cause diarrhea, abdominal cramps and various types of ulcers.  In many cases areas of the intestine are removed and patients are put on long term prescription medications which then begin to put a stress on the organs to filter out of the system.

4. Heart Issues:
Again, when the body is injured inflammation occurs.  This inflammation affects every part of the body including the blood vessels.  Plaque can accumulate in the arteries leading to chronic inflammation.  Now this attracts white blood cells which start to grow larger with time and can cause blood clots and heart attacks.

5. Obesity:
Bad eating habits will stress the body and cause an inflammatory response.  It is also harder to keep off weight if the organs and body are inflamed.

6. Increased cancer risk:
Chronic inflammation has been shown to increase the risk of lung, esophagus, cervical and digestive cancers and may be involved in other cancers as well.  In a 2014 Harvard University study, it found that obese teenagers with high levels of inflammation had a 63% increased risk of developing colorectal cancer during adulthood compared to their thinner peers.

When the immune system starts to produce inflammation,  regulation then becomes interrupted and cancer cells can begin to grow.

7. Sleep and Fatigue:
In a 2009 study from Case Western Reserve University, people who reported sleeping more or less than average had higher levels of inflammation-related proteins in their blood than those who said they slept about 7.6 hours a night.

8. Lung issues:
If the lungs are irritated and inflamed, fluid will accumulate which will narrow airways making it harder to breathe.  Asthma, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), emphysema, bronchitis are all affects of long term inflammation issues of the lungs.

9. Your gums can be damaged:
Peridontitis is commonly associated with chronic inflammation.  Bacteria will accumulate and cause edema in the gums.  Gums will begin to recede and the tissue around the teeth will weaken or become damaged.   Brushing your teeth and using floss can help prevent this but if joined with keeping inflammation down will really keep your gums healthy.  Also, a 2010 Harvard University study found that eating anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids (such as fish or fish oil) may also help.

Just a note that Periodontal disease doesn’t just affect oral health.   Studies have shown that chronic inflammation in the mouth can lead to heart disease and dementia as well.

10. Losing weight is harder:
Chronic inflammation can influence the body’s ability to produce the hunger signals properly and slow down metabolism.  Without the proper hunger signals, it will make you eat more and burn less calories leading to weight gain or keep your weight the same even though you are working out.

11. Bone damage:

According to a 2009 review study published in the Journal of Endocrinology, chronic inflammation can interfere with normal bone growth.

As stated above inflammation affects the digestive system and can disrupt bone growth because it prevents absorption of Calcium and Vitamin D necessary for growth and strength.  Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory disease and can also lead to weakening of bones because  physical exercise is limited because of pain while performing weight bearing exercises.

12. Skin issues:
Psoriasis, acne and other skin issues can be related to increased inflammation.

13. Depression and anxiety:
Inflammation in the brain may be linked to depression, according to a 2015 study published in JAMA Psychiatry.  Mood swings, not eating, insomnia or loss of sleep are all linked to depression.   Research has shown that people with depression have shown increased levels of inflammation in their blood.

So, knowing all of this there is no wonder why there are green smoothies and other anti-inflammatory products out there.  With inflammation comes stress on the body.  The less stress you have the better your body will function and remain healthy.

How can a chiropractor influence my gallbladder, liver, heart or other organs?

There are many cases where a patient comes in for neck or back pain and leaves with relief of other physical issues like Asthma or Allergies. Here is an explanation of how chiropractic treatment can affect the whole body.

Every adjustment administered by a chiropractor influences the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS). This system regulates everything in the body. All organs, immune system, blood pressure, breathing, digestion. This system works all on its own (autonomic) and does the functions that we don’t have to think about and manage. For instance, we aren’t telling our heartbeat when to happen each second.

According to the Merck Manual:

“Disorders of the autonomic nervous system can affect any body part or process. Autonomic disorders may result from other disorders that damage autonomic nerves (such as diabetes), or they may occur on their own. Autonomic disorders may be reversible or progressive”.

Is it connected to my intestines? Well, yes! It supplies all the internal organs including the blood vessels, stomach, intestine, colon, liver, kidneys, bladder, reproductive organs, lungs, eyes, heart, sweat and salivary glands and digestive track.

It has 2 main divisions:

1. Sympathetic
2. Parasympathetic

Each and every second our brain has to process what is happening in our environment and decide how it is going to react.
If we are scared, stressed or exercising, our Sympathetic (fight or flight) system kicks in. If we want to sleep or digest our food, our parasympathetic system overrides the sympathetic system. How we adapt and react to our environment is key to our health.

What else is the ANS responsible for?

It controls:

Blood pressure

Heart rate

Breathing rate

Regulation of body temperature

Digestion of food

Metabolism (thus affecting body weight)

The balance of water and electrolytes (sodium, potassium, calcium)

The secretion and production of body fluids (saliva, sweat, and tears)

Urination

Defecation

Sexual response

Many organs are controlled primarily by both the sympathetic and the parasympathetic nervous system. Depending on the situation, the organ may act completely different.

Take the heart and lungs for example, the sympathetic division increases blood pressure and breathing rates and the parasympathetic division decreases blood pressure and decreases breathing rates. Depending on what the body needs the brain takes in this information and chooses which system to kick in more in order to ensure that the body responds appropriately to different situations and different bodily demands.

Generally, the sympathetic division is more of our primal system which is needed for stressful or emergency situations.

This system will increase heart rate and the force of heart contractions and widens (dilates) the airways to make breathing easier. It causes the body to release stored energy to be used for the act of fighting or flighting. Muscles are stronger, palms will sweat, pupils will get big to be able to see our surroundings better. It decreases the need for digesting food and urinating in the case of an emergency. Unless so scared it gets overridden and you urinate out of fear.

The parasympathetic division regulates most daily ordinary situations.

It conserves and restores. It decreases the heart rate blood pressure. It stimulates the digestive tract to process food and eliminate wastes. This energy is then used to help build tissue.

Since the ANS is the spine and brain, when adjusted we are putting an impulse in the spinal areas that have nerves that run to specific organs, muscles and glands. The brain takes that information and decides what system is going to be used for that area. This is how we can affect the whole body and not just deal with pain.

Note: this information can be seen in the Merck Manual which is used by the medical community as well, not just a chiropractic manual.

References: https://www.merckmanuals.com/home/brain,-spinal-cord,-and-nerve-disorders/autonomic-nervous-system-disorders/overview-of-the-autonomic-nervous-system

Why is sleep so important?

Most times when you visit a doctor they ask about your sleep. Why Is Sleep Important?

First of all sleeping is when you heal and regenerate. Getting a good nights rest is good for mental and physical health and well being. Kids need sleep in order for growth and development. Not getting enough sleep will effect how you are able to think, react, learn and determine your mood.

When you are sleeping your brain is doing what it needs to get you to regenerate and get you through the next day before you rest and relax again. Different synapses happen during sleep then when you are awake working on your computer or watching television. Your brain and nervous system form new pathways, learn and adapt. This means it needs rest and needs to have the energy to do what you need it to do everyday.

Multiple studies have shown that getting a good night sleep will allow you to learn better. Math problems, playing an instrument, sport or any other task is learned and sleep helps your problem solving skills. It also helps you pay better attention and helps with creativity and decision making.

How does sleep help with physical health?

Sleep is involved with healing and repairing heart and blood vessels. Studies have shown people with less sleep have an increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and stroke.
Hormones are affected by how much sleep you have. You want to keep your hormones even. For example there are hormones that tell you that you are hungry and full. Ghrelin tells you that you are hungry and Leptin tells you that you are full. When you are lacking sleep, Grhelin goes up and Leptin goes down so you will eat more and gain weight.

Insulin levels are also affected by sleep. Decreased sleep elevates your blood sugar level increasing the secretion of insulin increasing risk of diabetes.

Deep sleep helps to secrete Growth Hormone increasing muscle mass.

Your immune system is very important to fight off disease. Lack of sleep will change the way your immune system responds to stress which will highly affect your health Your immune system will change the way it responds to stimuli. Common infections will be hard for the immune system to keep at bay and you will be more susceptible to colds, flus and other antigens.

Most people do not know the risks of lack of sleep. They think they are still functioning at a high capacity when they are not. A good example of this is driving. If sleep deprived, people think they are still able to drive well. Studies have shown that lack of sleep inhibits driving ability as much if not more than driving while intoxicated. It’s estimated that drivers who have not gotten adequate sleep factor in about 100,000 car accidents each year, resulting in about 1,500 deaths.

Driving is not the only activity impacted by lack of sleep. Professions like health care workers, pilots, lawyers, mechanics, assembly line employees can make mistakes at work which can affect themselves and others.

Get a good nights sleep. It is good for metabolism, energy and healing. You will be all the better for it and keep yourself and others safe.

What is the difference between a spa massage and a doctor’s office massage?

Most people who want a massage are looking for stress or pain relief. Those people who want to “relax” normally visit a spa where they can be pampered and get some stress relief. Other people who have hurt themselves playing a sport or wake up with pain are normally looking for a more clinical massage.

I hear many massage therapists and consumers denigrate spa massage as lesser than clinical massage, and each time it makes me cringe; all professional massage has therapeutic value! However, I also hear an equal number of therapists misrepresent clinical massage. I would like to provide clear and reasonable distinctions to these two types of massage, and hopefully help move both industries forward in a productive way.
Modalities

Spa massage: Most therapists are aimed at providing a relaxing massage that will satisfy the client and make them feel addressed and cared for. There is usually fancy water, a robe and multiple therapeutic menus available like hot stone and foot massages. They want you to come back for the stress relief and pampering portion of the treatment.

Clinical Massage:

Focus is on promoting proper function, working out and finding out causes of discomfort. Client satisfaction is also a factor but the massages are geared toward healing and not pampering. This massage is aimed at restoring the body back to health and not merely relaxation.

When coming to a doctor’s office for massage, the focus is going to be on care as well as having the patient leave feeling taken care of and having their issue addressed. Remember that it is not a spa and you are paying for the expertise of the therapist along with being able to use your insurance for massage (if covered).

Research Shows Stress Hides In Your Body: How Chiropractic Can Help!

Stress hides in the body.  If it is not forced out it will stay and get comfortable making you uncomfortable.

“The type of stress that human beings are under really differs from animals in the wild” according to Stanford neurobiologist Robert Sapolsky, Ph.D who wrote the book “Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers.  Animals in the wild normally encounter stress for around 3 minutes and then it is over or they end up deceased. But we are human beings and we have different types of stress.  For instance a demanding boss, work deadlines, unpaid bills, children to look after or elderly parents that need care on top of all of the other daily duties someone may have going on.

Stress left unattended and not taken care of will lead to symptoms.  Here are some of the places you will see symptoms and how chiropractic can help.

1. Hormones: When stressed, your body secretes a hormone called cortisol.  It can lead to memory loss, depression, and causes swelling in the body.

2. Your Hair: Researchers at the University of Western Ontario found that chronic stress contributes to heart attacks by conducting a study on individuals admitted to the hospital who had heart attacks and took hair samples from each.  They found higher levels of cortisol on these individuals which affirmed their hypothesis.

3. Your Nervous System: When you’re stressed, your sympathetic nervous system kicks in which elevates the same hormones used primitively when we were cave people.  This system is called “fight or flight” sharpens your vision, pumps your blood faster, makes you breathe faster and puts your muscles in active mode ready to flee or protect yourself.

The amount of stress each person has can lead to different levels but most times it leads to tightness in the neck, shoulders and back.  It can also lead to constipation/diarrhea, headaches, loss of sleep etc.  All of these areas and basically any area of the body are controlled by the nervous system.

4. Your Gut
Stress can even alter the way your body processes fat, causing you to store more acid in your abdomen.  This leads to acid reflux heartburn and pain in the abdomen.

So how does chiropractic help with this?  Well, we don’t only help people with athletic injuries and neck and back pain.  Those are things that we have great success with but when we administer our treatment we ignite the power of your nervous system to work at its best.

The nervous system (brain and spinal cord) is connected to all of the organs, muscles and basically anything in the body.  Stress builds up and tries to hide in these areas but once treatment has been administered to the spinal cord, the stress can clear its way out.  That is the amazing thing about what we do!   Not to mention, I use a machine that tracks stress in the body and tells me where it is so I can monitor it and track progress through care.

My sports background allows me to help with injuries and pain but while we are working on that, we might as well work on YOU to make sure you are getting the most out of life as stress free as you can be!

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.