Your Arm Pain Could Be a Neck Problem

Bottom Line:

Pain in your hand, wrist, or arm can be frustrating. You don’t realize how much you use your arms and hands each second of the day until pain, numbness, or tingling gets in the way. But, getting rid of the pain may be easier than you think.

Why it Matters:

Hand, wrist, and arm pain often starts with a neck problem. When a spinal disc in your neck irritates or presses on a nerve, it can result in arm pain. Just like the power lines that bring electricity to your house, your brain and spinal cord split into individual nerve roots that deliver information to every part of your body. The nerves in your neck are specifically focused on providing strength and sensation to your head and arms.

– A bulged or herniated disc in your neck can irritate or compress the nerves that travel to your hands, arms, and shoulders.
– A recent study of people with cervical (neck) disc herniation showed improvement in over 86% of those who received chiropractic adjustments.
– Improving spinal mobility, decreasing inflammation, and improving your posture may help prevent future episodes of neck and arm pain.

Next Steps:

A painful arm as a result of a pinched nerve in your neck very rarely requires surgery. Getting rid of the inflammation, decompressing the nerve, and giving the disc time to heal are all part of a complete plan we use each day to help our patients reduce their symptoms and get their life back.

Science Source(s):

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. JMPT 2016

The Bowling Ball and the Pin: How Poor Posture Causes Neck Pain

Bottom Line:

The average human head weighs about 8 pounds. Each day we all walk around with a bowling ball (our head) balancing on a toothpick (our neck). We are designed this way to allow for the full range of motion we all know and love. Even under the best circumstances, this places a lot of stress on our spine. But leaning forward even just 15 degrees pushes that weight up to 30 pounds, and with a 30 degree tilt its closer to 40 pounds!

Why it Matters:

Driving a car, working on the computer, and using a tablet/phone all usually result in less than ideal posture. And when you start to lean forward, it places a tremendous amount of extra pressure on the discs in your neck and spine. This can cause increased compression and lead to pain. Even just a few inches of forward head posture can double or triple the amount of stress on the spinal joints in your neck.

– The average human head weights approximately 8-10 pounds.
– For every inch of forward head posture, an additional 10 pounds of weight is added to your spine.
– Forward head posture may result in muscle imbalances, a high risk for spinal degeneration, reduced range of motion, and pain.

Next Steps:

Take a moment today at work and notice if your shoulders are rounding, the head has moved forward, and upper back is hunched over. If you see yourself slouching into this posture, let us know. We would love to provide you with some exercises you can do at work to help strengthen the muscles supporting your spine and combat these muscle imbalances. And remember, the more time you spend in this posture, the more likely you are to suffer head and neck pain.

Science Source(s):

The Physiology of the Joints, Volume III. 6th ed. London: Churchill Livingstone; 2007. Myofascial trigger points, neck mobility and forward head posture in unilateral migraine. Cephalalgia 2006

Taking Control of Your Health: Slowing Down the Degenerative Process

Bottom Line:

The dreaded degenerative disc disease. Well, it may not be so dreaded after all. You may be surprised to learn that degenerative disc disease is a part of the normal aging process. As we age, our discs lose some of their water content and become less supple. This makes them appears darker on an MRI. And when they appear darker on MRI, you guessed it; they are labeled as degenerative.

Why it Matters:

Just because all of us will experience degenerative disc disease as we age doesn’t mean that process is the same for everyone. Research has shown that by taking a pro-active approach with your spinal health, you may be able to slow down the degenerative process.

– Degenerative changes are part of the normal aging process due to the weight of gravity, injuries, and repetitive stress on your spine.
– Researchers have found a correlation between the amount of arthritis in the spine and the severity of degenerative changes.
– Stretching, exercising (regional motion) and chiropractic care (segmental motion) are thought to improve spinal biomechanics and may slow down the degenerative process.

Next Steps:

New research has shown that degenerative changes accelerate on joints that aren’t moving correctly. We encourage you to take control of your spinal health with exercise, stretching, and even periodic chiropractic adjustments. By keeping your spine moving, you will have the best opportunity to slow down the aging process while feeling great every step of the way.

Science Source(s):

Do modic changes, disc degeneration, translation and angular motion affect facet osteoarthritis of the lumbar spine. European Journal of Radiology. 2018

Opioids: By the Numbers

Bottom Line:

The opioid epidemic is one of the deadliest drug crises in our recent history. Look at the United States. It’s estimated that over 2 million people have a problem with opioid abuse and nearly 50,000 people die each year due as a result. So, how did we get here? Well, in the 1990s, pharmaceutical companies began aggressively marketing these drugs to healthcare professionals, and in America’s case, to the public. Combine that lobbying with the strong pain killing nature of these medications, and it’s easy to see how so many people are at risk of slipping into addiction.

Why it Matters:

Recent research indicates that approximately 20% of people who take opioids for pain are at risk of developing an addiction. This makes sense because we know that opiates affect the pain and pleasure receptors in your brain. Specifically, that they block pain signals and increase the release of the feel-good chemical dopamine. It’s no surprise that so many people continue to take these medications. Let’s take a closer look at the numbers…

 It’s estimated that over 75% of drug overdose deaths are opioid related.
 The pain relief opioid Fentanyl is 50 times more potent than heroin.
 Again, nearly 50,000 people die each year as a result of opioid abuse in the US alone.

Next Steps:

The first step in overcoming this epidemic is to understand that there are safe and effective treatment options that don’t require a prescription. This month, our practice is focused on bringing you the best, research-based information about opioids. We’ll also be sharing the latest recommendations from some of the most prominent healthcare organizations that are actively facilitating change. Our office is proud to be a part of the solution to this epidemic by providing Chiropractic care. If you have any questions, or are ready for your next pain-relieving adjustment, stop in and see us!

Science Source(s):

How Opioid-free Anesthesia and Multimodal Pain Management Can Improve Care and Address a Public Health Crisis. Becker Hospital Review 2018 Provisional Drug Overdose Death Counts. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2018 Fentanyl vs. Heroin: The Similarities and Differences Between Two Powerful Opioids. American Addiction Centers 2018

Is Your Cell Phone Causing Tech Neck?

Staying connected to friends and family is easier than ever with social media. The tradeoff is that your daily screen time may be 1, 2, 3 hours or more. And let’s face it, a lot of those hours online are spent in an awkward forward head posture that experts have begun to call “tech neck.” It can result in neck pain, headaches, spinal disc issues, and even pinched nerves. Each day we work with people, young and old, who are experiencing the symptoms associated with tech neck. By creating a plan of care that may include stretching, adjustments, and postural exercises; we have been able to help our patients overcome these aches and pains without giving up their cell phones and tablets. – Looking down at your phone, tablet, or computer for long periods of time can cause muscle strains and neck pain which is now known as tech neck. – Researchers have discovered the angle of your head when text messaging places tremendous amount of stress on your neck and spine. – Taking short breaks to stretch at least every 30 minutes helps your body feel better by improving your posture and resetting your balance. Next time you are on the phone, stop for a moment and see if your head is creeping forward. If your chin is tucked down and your ears are in front of your shoulders, then you are in the forward head posture we call tech neck. It’s a good time to take a break, stretch, and reset. If you are experiencing any pain or headaches, let us help!

Headaches: Before You Reach for Medication…

Bottom Line:

Do you suffer from headaches? If so, you’re not alone. It’s estimated that up to 50% of people deal with headaches each year. While an occasional headache is nothing more than a nuisance, when they become chronic, you can experience challenges at home and at work and you might even experience depression. The good news is, it may be easier than you think to find relief from your headache pain. Keep reading…

Why it Matters:

Medications, especially opioids, are not recommended for most headaches. These drugs should be avoided because of their addictive qualities and, ironically, their headache inducing side-effects! That doesn’t mean your only option is to grin and bear the pain. Here’s a few alternative, evidence-based treatment options you can use to reduce the frequency of your headaches naturally.

 Drink water. Dehydration is a common cause of tension and migraine headaches. Drinking a tall glass of water has been shown to start relieving symptoms within 30 minutes!
 Rest. Researchers have found a strong correlation between lack of sleep and an uptick in the frequency and severity of headaches.
 Get adjusted. Muscle spasms in your neck and shoulders are a major contributing factor to tension headaches. Chiropractic adjustments can help decrease this tension.

Next Steps:

Hunching over computers, phones, and tablets can place a tremendous amount of stress and strain on the muscles supporting your head and neck. Over time, this can lead to an increase in those dreaded tension headaches. Luckily, our practice has helped many people just like you overcome their headache struggles naturally. Reducing your muscle tension, improving your range of motion, and helping you maintain a more balanced posture are all part of what we do every day. If you or someone you know is looking for a natural pain relief alternative to help get rid of their headaches, share this research with them and give us a call!

Science Source(s):

Drug Interaction and Serotonin Toxicity with Opioid Use: Another Reason to Avoid Opioids in Headache and Migraine Treatment. Current Pain and Headache Reports 2016 Opioids in headache. Headache 2014 18 Remedies to Get Rid of Headaches Naturally. Healthline 2018

Finding Relief Without Drugs

Bottom Line:

With the opioid crisis affecting millions of people, it may come as no surprise that there’s probably someone in your circle of friends and family struggling with opioid misuse or addiction. For those people, it can feel nearly impossible to find a way out. That potent combination of pain relief and euphoria characteristic of opioids makes them so incredibly addictive to both the brain and body. However, while opioids were once the standard, recent research has given people struggling with addiction new hope.

Why it Matters:

Top clinical research facilities have started recommending a team approach to combat opioid dependence. A combination of medical and alternative care (and quite often Chiropractic) are being used to provide people with a safe, natural path to recovery and pain relief. Here are a few key aspects shared by many successful opioid addiction treatment programs:

 The providers and patients are continually updating their goals and expectations.
 Reassurance of relief and reducing the fear of movement is important.
 Getting involved in social activities and hobbies has been shown to support pain relief.

Next Steps:

Getting off opioids should never be attempted without the help of a medical professional. Our practice is happy to collaborate with other providers on your healthcare team to help you find the best evidence-informed care options. We’re here for you and look forward to helping you get your life back without drugs or medications. When you’re ready, give us a call. If you know someone who would benefit from this information, share it with them today.

Science Source(s):

War on Pain: Multimodal and multidisciplinary therapy for pain management. American Nurse Today 2011 A multidisciplinary outpatient pain management opioid reduction pilot program. The Journal of Pain 2013

Back Pain: Top Organizations Recommend Against Opioids

Bottom Line:

At last, many top healthcare organizations are taking a stand against the prescription of opioids for treating back pain. The American Pain Society, Harvard Health, and the American College of Physicians have all recommended that people suffering from back pain seek conservative care options, such as Chiropractic, before taking any medications. What’s more, their stance is supported by decades of research that showcases the effectiveness of Chiropractic techniques – adjustments, rehabilitation, and soft tissue work – for relieving pain without the dangers and risks of drugs. Consider this…

Why it Matters:

Over the past decade, back pain treatment has evolved considerably. The days of medical doctors recommending bed rest and medications are in the past. In fact, top research publications have shown that movement and physician-guided exercise are a some of the best ways to improve back pain quickly.
So, not only is it possible to find relief without drugs – it’s recommended! Here a few more interesting facts for your consideration:

 Nearly every major health organization discourages the use of opioids for back pain.
 Chiropractors have been promoting a care plan consisting of movement and exercise for over 100 years.
 Conservative therapies, such as Chiropractic, have been recommended by organizations such as the American Pain Society and American College of Physicians.

Next Steps:

Many cutting-edge practices like ours use a biopsychosocial model of treatment when it comes to pain relief. That simply means we focus on addressing the biomechanical (how you move your body), psychological (reducing the fears of re-injury), and social (getting back to the activities you love) aspects of health and healing. Our care plans don’t require medications or drugs, and they help us create a positive environment dedicated to helping you live your best life! If you’re looking for a natural way back from pain, give us a call today!

Science Source(s):

Diagnosis and Treatment of Low Back Pain: A Joint Clinical Practice Guideline from the American College of Physicians and the American Pain Society. Annals of Internal Medicine 2007 Opioids for Chronic Noncancer Pain: Prediction and Identification of Aberrant Drug-Related Behaviors: A Review of the Evidence for an American Pain Society and American Academy of Pain Medicine Clinical Practice Guideline. Annals of Internal Medicine 2009

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.