How to Prevent Spinal Disc Injuries

Bottom Line:

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. I often wonder if the author of that quote happened to have a disc herniation. By investing in a pro-active approach to your spinal health now, you may be able to avoid suffering from a disc injury later in life. And, while there is no specific protocol to guarantee you will never have a disc herniation, there are a few action steps you can take now to lower your risk. In fact, researchers have recently discovered that you can reduce your chances of suffering from a herniated disc by keeping your spinal muscles strong.

Why it Matters:

An active lifestyle, regular exercise, and even Chiropractic adjustments are all considered essential aspects of optimal spinal health. Degenerative changes to your spinal discs and weakened muscles around your spine can increase your risk of a disc herniation. In our practice, we focus on helping you live an active and healthy lifestyle to keep your spine both durable and flexible. When you receive an adjustment from us, your spine is better able to move freely as a result, and this is thought to help slow down the degenerative process.

– Spinal disc degeneration and weakened muscles can increase your risk of disc herniation.
– An active lifestyle consisting of exercise and Chiropractic adjustments may be able to lower your risk.
– Taking a pro-active approach to your spinal health can help improve your overall quality of life.

Next Steps:

We have found that a pro-active approach to spinal health can lead to a significant improvement in your quality of life.
If you have any questions about how you can get more active just ask! We love helping our patients reach their healthcare goals.

Science Source(s):

Correlation between intervertebral disc degeneration, paraspinal muscle atrophy, and lumbar facet joints degeneration in patients with lumbar disc herniation. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28427393

Hot Spinal Discs: Can an Inflamed Disc Heal?

Bottom Line:

It’s called a “hot” disc for a reason. Disc herniations cause a tremendous amount of inflammation that can irritate nearby nerves and cause pain. But, did you know that inflammation is actually…a good thing? In fact,  inflammation suggests a high likelihood of relief with conservative care. Confused? Well, the inflammatory process is the first step of the healing process! A disc that is “hot” or inflamed is a sign that the healing process has already begun.

Why it Matters:

New research indicates that an inflamed disc can “activate” healing throughout your immune system. Tiny blood vessels begin to form around the herniation, causing your immune system to release certain chemicals that help the disc to heal and reabsorb. What’s even more exciting is that when conservative care, such as Chiropractic, is added, researchers found that not only can the disc herniation heal, but it can completely resolve!

– Inflammation is the first step of the healing process.
– After a disc herniation, your body begins to form small blood vessels that bring healing nutrients to the disc.
– Spinal disc herniations have been shown to completely heal and resolve with conservative care, such as Chiropractic.

Next Steps:

Your body is designed to heal. With a little bit of time and the proper care, you can overcome everything from the common cold to a spinal disc injury. But, wouldn’t it be great to avoid a disc injury in the first place? Be sure to check in next week to discover a simple prevention strategy that will help you continue to live an active, healthy lifestyle.

Science Source(s):

The probability of spontaneous regression of lumbar herniated disc: a systematic review. The inflammatory response in the regression of lumbar disc herniation.

Finding Lasting Relief from Disc Herniations

Bottom Line:

So, you’ve suffered a disc herniation, and it’s causing severe pain. Do you need an injection or surgery? What type of doctor should you see? Can a Chiropractor make it…worse? These are all common thoughts that may race through your mind after you’ve experienced a spinal injury. First, take a deep breath and relax. Leading research journal have shown that you made a smart decision by choosing Chiropractic care. Many leading health organizations are
now recommending Chiropractic as a top choice to find relief from disc herniations. To learn why keep reading…

Why it Matters:

Studies have shown that over 90% of people with a lumbar disc herniation that were treated with spinal adjustments improved within 3 months, and 88% improved within 1 year. Perhaps even more impressive was another study,
which indicated that, for disc herniations in the neck, 86% of people found relief with Chiropractic adjustments compared with less the 50% of people who underwent a spinal injection. We continue to learn that, most of the time,
the benefits of medications, injections, and surgery just don’t outweigh the risks.

– Top healthcare organizations recommend taking a conservative approach  to care, such as Chiropractic. Medications, injections, and surgery should only be used as a last resort.
– In a recent study, researchers found that over 90% of patients with a lumbar disc herniation improved within the first 3 months of receiving Chiropractic adjustments.
– Over 35% more people with cervical disc herniations found relief with Chiropractic adjustments than with spinal injections.

Next Steps:

Discovering the most up-to-date Research That Matters is part of our practice. We focus on using this research and combining it with our clinical expertise and experience to provide you with the best care possible. So, if you are suffering from a disc injury, please know that you’re in the right place, and we are grateful you have trusted us with your recovery.

Science Source(s):

Outcomes of acute and chronic patients with magnetic resonance imaging-confirmed symptomatic lumbar disc herniations receiving high-velocity, low-amplitude, spinal manipulative therapy: a prospective observational cohort
study with one-year follow-up. Symptomatic, Magnetic Resonance Imaging-Confirmed Cervical Disk Herniation Patients: A ComparativeEffectiveness Prospective Observational Study of 2 Age- and Sex-Matched Cohorts Treated With Either ImagingGuided Indirect Cervical Nerve Root Injections or Spinal Manipulative Therapy.

A Spinal Disc Bulge or Herniation: What’s the Difference?

Bottom Line:

The bones, discs, ligaments, and muscles of your spine are designed to help you maintain proper spinal alignment,
posture, and movement. Between each set of bones or vertebrae is a small rubbery disc. These discs act as small
shock absorbers for your spinal bones and nerves. They have a tough, rubber-like outer layer called the annulus
fibrosis and a soft jelly-like center that is called the nucleus pulposus. As you age or encounter injuries, the curve of
your spine may fall out of alignment. This can place uneven stress on your spinal column and discs, increasing the
chance of having a disc break down and herniate.

Why it Matters:

A disc herniation occurs when the outer portion of the disc ruptures (or tears) and the soft inner portion squeezes out.
This type of injury can cause pain at the site of herniation, or sometimes the herniated disc can pinch a nearby nerve,
causing pain that can radiate down into your arms and legs. Similarly, a disc bulge occurs when the outer wall of the
disc is weakened, but the inner portion has not yet broken through.
– A disc herniation occurs when the inside of a spinal disc breaks through its outside wall.
– Disc herniations often contribute to nerve compression, which can send pain, weakness, or numbness into
your arms or legs.
– By maintaining proper spinal alignment, you can reduce added wear and tear on your discs and potentially
decrease the likelihood of a disc herniation.

Next Steps:

Now that you know what a disc herniation is, be sure to stay tuned. Next week, we’ll reveal the best ways you can
find natural relief. Can you guess what type of care resulted in over 90% of people with a disc herniation finding
improvement within the first few months? We’ll be back next week with the answer!

Science Source(s):

Columbia University. The Spine Hospital 2018
Herniated Disk: What is it? Harvard Medical School. Harvard Health Publishing 2018

Tape: All Hype or Scientifically Sound?

Bottom Line:

It’s difficult to find a single sporting event where you won’t see an athlete wearing colorful tape somewhere on their
body. You may have wondered what it is, and more importantly what it’s used for. The tape is called kinesio tape and
was initially developed by a Chiropractor about 40 years ago. It works by stimulating proprioception, which is the
medical term for knowing where your body is in space.

Why it Matters:

Your skin is the largest organ in your body, and it’s loaded with small sensory nerve fibers that are responsible for
proprioception. Placing tape in specific areas of your body across the skin provides sensory input that gives your
brain more information as you move. This additional information has been shown to help improve balance, reduce
pain, and support proper movement patterns.
– Tape worn on the skin provides your brain with more information about your movement patterns and can
help reduce injuries and improve rehabilitation.
– Taping has been shown to improve balance for up to 72 hours after the tape has been removed.
– Researchers have found taping can be more effective than postural exercises alone to reduce neck pain.

Next Steps:

You can think of the tape less like a brace and more like a nervous system reminder that you wear on your skin. Not
only does it look cool, but it has the potential to support better movement, reduce pain, and limit injuries. Now the
next time you see an athlete wearing tape, you will know it’s more than just a fashion statement!

Science Source:

Extended use of Kinesiology Tape and Balance in Participants with Chronic Ankle Instability. Journal of Athletic
Training 2016
Efficacy of kinesio taping versus postural correction exercises on pain intensity and axioscapular muscles activation
in mechanical neck dysfunction: a randomized blinded clinical trial. The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical
Fitness 2017

Moving Kids Towards Better Health

Bottom Line:

Life is motion. Moving every day is crucially important to your overall health and wellness. Everything from
cardiovascular disease to depression has been tied to a lack of physical activity. And this isn’t something that only
adults need to be aware of. Getting enough physical activity as a child is an important step in reducing the risk of
chronic disease in adulthood.

Why it Matters:

If your child is tied to the latest video game or app, you know it can be challenging to encourage exercise and
physical activity. However, carving out enough time to move is not only essential for your physical health, but also
your brain. Being sedentary during childhood slows down your brain’s ability to learn “movement skills.” You can think
of these skills in terms of agility and hand/eye coordination.
– Over 65% of kids aren’t getting enough daily physical activity.
– Lack of activity has been linked to everything from cardiovascular disease to depression.
– An astonishing 99% of kids don’t have age-appropriate movement skill proficiency.
Next Steps:
Establishing consistent habits of physical activity and movement as a child is an essential first step towards enabling
a lifetime of good health. Movement starts with your nervous system and spine. Our practice is focused on helping
you and your family stay active and live a happier, healthier life.

Science Source:

Youth-Physical Activity Towards Health: evidence and background to the development of the Y-PATH physical
activity intervention for adolescents. BMC Public Health 2014

Foam Rolling: It Hurts So Good

 

Bottom Line:
Foam rolling has exploded in popularity over the past few years. No longer used only by athletes and trainers, foam
rolling (or myofascial release) is now used by people at all levels of fitness. The goal of foam rolling is to improve
muscle function, performance, and range of motion. When a tight muscle or trigger point is released, you’re better
able to move freely, move with less pain, and improve your overall performance.

Why it Matters:
Activity, age, and injuries can all cause your muscles to lose flexibility over time, which in turn creates adhesions and
pain. Foam rolling allows you to place deep compression on these areas, reducing pain and adhesions while creating
improved range of motion. Researchers have discovered that foam rolling during your warm-up can improve flexibility
more than static and dynamic stretching.
– Foam rolling is designed to release tight muscles and trigger points.
– Researchers are seeing increased flexibility and reduced pain in study participants after foam rolling.
– Proper movement patterns are thought to improve performance and reduce injury.

Next Steps:
Using a foam roller on tight muscles and trigger points has been shown improve flexibility and help maintain proper
movement patterns. If you have questions on whether foam rolling is right for you, just ask! We believe this type of at home care is a great way to support the adjustments you receive in our office.

Science Source:
Acute Effects of Foam Rolling, Static Stretching, and Dynamic Stretching During Warm-ups on Muscular Flexibility
and Strength in Young Adults. Journal of Sports Rehabilitation 2017
Differences in pressure pain threshold among men and women after foam rolling. Journal of Bodywork and
Movement Therapies 2017

Dynamic Stretching: A New Way to Feel Better

 

Bottom Line:

You’ve probably been told many times that you should stretch before and after a workout. Most people never do because static stretching is boring and takes so much extra time at the gym. However, there is a way to combine stretching with your workout. It’s called dynamic stretching, and not only is it more fun, but researchers have discovered it’s more effective at reducing injuries and increasing range of motion than static stretching alone.

 

Why it Matters:

Dynamic stretching doesn’t involve holding a specific position unlike static stretching. It’s about moving your body through ranges of motion that help you prepare for your workout. Dynamic stretching works by increasing your body temperature, blood flow, and circulation. This provides your muscles with more available oxygen and can help enhance your performance. A good warm-up that includes dynamic stretching has been shown to improve both power and agility.

  • Dynamic stretching is movement-based and can improve blood flow and circulation.
  • Researchers have discovered increased power and agility after dynamic stretching.
  • A proper warm-up, including dynamic stretching, can reduce your risk of injury.

 

Next Steps:

Incorporating dynamic stretching into the beginning and end of your workout is a great way to improve your range of motion and reduce your risk of injuries. If you have questions about incorporating dynamic stretching into your workout, just ask! We love to see our patients enjoy a healthy, active lifestyle.

 

Science Source:

A Systematic Literature Review of the Relationship Between Stretching and Athletic Injury Prevention. Orthopedic Nursing 2014

Acute effects of muscle stretching on physical performance, range of motion, and injury incidence in healthy active individuals: a systematic review. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism 2016

Dynamic vs Static-Stretching Warm Up: The Effect on Power and Agility Performance. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 2006

 

 

New Year, Same Me (with improvements!)

Now that all of the hype of the holiday is over, what is this New Year actually going to bring? Consistent, maintained health? Pain-free living? Healing nourishment? More mental clarity?

If you are leaning towards a crash diet, juice cleanse, or an 7 day/week boot camp,  think more about being present and realistic with your current self. The first and most important step is simply making your health the top priority. It might look different for every person, but something we can all take steps towards. We all have made excuses for ourselves. We all stand in our own way sometimes. But we can learn to make health our priority by removing the obstacles. Before creating a list of all of the things you are going to “start doing”, think about a few things you could “stop doing”. By creating that space in your life, you can better implement your new goals.

I’ll go first: In 2019, I am going to stop associating my feelings of having “earned” or “not earned” a meal. I am going to stop using words like cheat, deserve, and good/bad to describe my relationship with food. I am going to stop justifying unhealthy, unsatisfying food experiences with the idea of treating myself. Instead, I will be mindful of my body; what it craves and how to best nourish it.

Here are some other examples: You could create space in your life by deciding to stop saying yes to everything. Take time for yourself; don’t say yes to every social engagement. Be mindful of your health goals and limitations; don’t say yes to every treat or item offered to you. Instead of watching three hours of Netflix every night, cut yourself off at one hour and find other things to do with your time, like reading that book you started 6 months ago, meal-prepping dinner for the week, stretching out, or decluttering a stressful space. Set your screen time settings to limit time on certain apps. If you do want to involve others in your journey, share your resolutions on social media or share during face-to-face time with friends and family. You will encourage others and feel more motivated yourself.

Now it’s your turn! What are you going to stop doing so that you can start incorporating new things?

Immunity & Inflammation

IMMUNITY & INFLAMMATION

‘Tis the season of sickness! Let’s talk about boosting our immunity and reducing our inflammation. We all know the tried-and-true sayings. “Eat your fruits and vegetables.” “Exercise regularly.” “Drink 8 glasses of water.” “Get lots of sleep.” “Don’t eat processed food.” While those are all very key elements to improving your immune system and inflammatory symptoms, and they will be expanded on, I do want to talk about more non-traditional tips as well.

 

Supplements:

Taking a vitamin C supplement (up to 1,500 mg daily) can absolutely help to ward off illness, but consider taking a probiotic supplement as well. Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium are two of the most important families of bacteria that populate our gut from birth, and they have been shown to positively affect our immune health. Look for one that has at least 30 to 50 billion colonies and at least eight strains of bacteria. Double this dose if you’re coming down with a cold or have to take antibiotics. Another top supplement for immune function is zinc, which acts as an antioxidant by fighting off free radicals. It’s also a very common deficiency worldwide. Take 15 to 30 mg a day. Lastly, the famous vitamin D. Yes, you get small doses of this vitamin from sunlight and from certain foods, but for most adults (especially in the wintertime), we need to supplement to reap the immune benefits. You can take up to 2,000 IU daily.

Foods:

While it is certainly important to consume plenty of fruits and vegetables during this time of year, there are specific ones that are extremely helpful for boosting your immune system. Fermented foods should be at the top of your grocery list, especially if you don’t want to spend money on pricey probiotics. Kombucha, sauerkraut or kimchi, yogurt, apple cider vinegar, or anything pickled will give you plenty of gut-healthy bacteria. Some of the most powerful immune-boosting, antiviral, and anti-cancer substances are found in mushrooms, like shiitake, maitake, and reishi. Other antibacterial foods include garlic, ginger and turmeric. Another way to improve immunity is to decrease inflammation in the body. Many of the antibacterial foods are actually anti-inflammatory as well. Ginger, garlic, turmeric, nuts (especially almonds and walnuts), berries, pineapple and fatty fish (Omega-3) are all excellent foods to reduce inflammation.

Other Factors:

These may seem obvious, but it never hurts to reiterate. Getting enough sunshine is an important part of immunity as natural sunlight is the best source of natural vitamin D. Aim for seven to eight hours of sleep on a regular basis and avoid all-nighters. If you travel through time zones frequently, use small amounts of melatonin (2 to 3 mg) to reset your circadian rhythm. Beyond the obvious cardiovascular, mood, and weight management benefits of regular exercise, moderate physical activity can improve our antibody response to infections. It’s important not to overtrain, however, as chronic strenuous exercise without recovery days has been associated with an increased susceptibility to infections, as well as frequency of injury. Managing stress is very important, as chronic stress actually suppresses our immune response by releasing the hormone cortisol. Cortisol itself interferes with the ability of specific white blood cells called T-cells to proliferate and get signals from the body.