Back Clinic Chiropractic. This is a form of alternative treatment that focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of various musculoskeletal injuries and conditions, especially those associated with the spine. Dr. Alex Jimenez discusses how spinal adjustments and manual manipulations regularly can greatly help both improve and eliminate many symptoms that could be causing discomfort to the individual. Chiropractors believe among the main reasons for pain and disease are the vertebrae’s misalignment in the spinal column (this is known as a chiropractic subluxation).
Through the usage of manual detection (or palpation), carefully applied pressure, massage, and manual manipulation of the vertebrae and joints (called adjustments), chiropractors can alleviate pressure and irritation on the nerves, restore joint mobility, and help return the body’s homeostasis. From subluxations, or spinal misalignments, to sciatica, a set of symptoms along the sciatic nerve caused by nerve impingement, chiropractic care can gradually restore the individual’s natural state of being. Dr. Jimenez compiles a group of concepts on chiropractic to best educate individuals on the variety of injuries and conditions affecting the human body.
Poor spinal health in adolescence can lead to chronic pain in adulthood. Teenagers, just like adults, can experience back pain from accidents, sports injuries, a sedentary lifestyle, part-time jobs, chores, etc. However, sitting too long in school along with heavy backpacks can also contribute to compromised spinal health. Chiropractic professionals can help these young individuals address and prevent spinal issues/injuries to maintain a healthy spine.
Teenagers Spine Issues
If discomfort or pain is present, much push through, as they and their spines are young. There are common spinal dysfunctions that teens and parents should be aware of. These include:
Teenagers can put a serious strain on the spine from various forms of physical activity, jumping, dancing, and playing. This pressure gets transmitted through the spine. During a teenager’s development, this can result in permanent disc damage.
A spinal deformity or exaggerated curvature of the spine is common and affects young children and teens. It usually happens during the growth spurt just before puberty. This is why it is important to have a teenager’s spine checked regularly and analyzed for signs/symptoms of scoliosis.
This condition is often associated with sports injuries. It happens when teenagers overextend/overreach their backs. It’s most common in gymnastics, weight lifting, tennis, football, diving, and other similar sports.
Protection and Prevention
There are several ways that parents and healthcare providers can help teenagers make healthy decisions to achieve and maintain optimal spinal health.
Sitting less, moving more.
Children are taught to sit from a very young age. In school, watching t.v., or doing homework, teenagers spend more time sitting than their bodies should. Teenagers need to stand, walk and move around just like adults to protect their spines from degeneration and injury.
Playing sports is healthy. However, there is a risk associated with teen sports. Although they are taught to play safely, encourage them to continue to educate themselves about sports injuries and know how to address them.
At Injury Medical Chiropractic and Functional Medicine Clinic, we’re committed to helping young adults and adolescents overcome and prevent spinal injuries that could turn into chronic pain conditions. We are continually developing our chiropractic, and physical therapy treatment approaches to achieve optimal results.
Sleep and Growth Hormone In Children
Growth hormones primarily control growth. The hypothalamus and the pituitary gland regulate this hormone. Sleep plays an important role in the proper function of these glands. A review showed that:
Growth hormone levels rise and peak at the onset of deep sleep
Multiple but smaller peaks were seen during other sleep stages
Individuals that have a delay in the onset of deep sleep have delayed peaks in growth hormone levels
For children to grow properly, they need to have adequate levels of growth hormone. This means they need to have a sufficient amount of sleep. The proper amount of sleep is vital for healthy body composition. A study measured the body composition of preschool-aged children. The study found that children who had proper sleep levels had less overall fat mass and reduced body fat. Children and teenagers need to get the proper amounts of sleep for their bodies to grow healthily.
Clement, R Carter et al. “What are normal radiographic spine and shoulder balance parameters among adolescent patients?.” Spine deformity vol. 8,4 (2020): 621-627. doi:10.1007/s43390-020-00074-9
Driehuis, Femke et al. “Spinal manual therapy in infants, children and adolescents: A systematic review and meta-analysis on treatment indication, technique, and outcomes.” PloS one vol. 14,6 e0218940. 25 Jun. 2019, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0218940
Manansala, Christian et al. “Change in young people’s spine pain following chiropractic care at a publicly funded healthcare facility in Canada.” Complementary therapies in clinical practice vol. 35 (2019): 301-307. doi:10.1016/j.ctcp.2019.03.013
A non-invasive method of treating scoliosis. Yoga Has Been Shown To Help Reverse Scoliosis. Scoliosis is the lateral curvature of the spine. The spine bends inward toward the front of the body at the neck region and lower back region. This curve is known as lordosis and bows outward in the middle-back region. This is known as kyphosis. If the spine curves to the side, this could indicate curvature that could be scoliosis. It can be painful and often can affect an individual’s appearance once the measurement goes beyond 25 – 30 degrees. One shoulder is usually higher than the other, and clothing cannot fit properly. If the curve goes beyond 60 degrees, it can affect breathing and cardiac function.
Idiopathic Causes Unknown
This condition can consist of various components, especially with more intense curves. The ribs can shift backward on the side where the curve bulges. Most cases consist of adolescent idiopathic (without a known cause) scoliosis. Because the cause is unknown, there are not a variety of effective treatment besides surgery. Physicians carefully keep an eye for:
Curves under 25 degrees.
Bracing between 25 and 45 degrees.
Consider surgery for intense curvature.
Curves in individuals typically appear between 12 and 20 years old.
Yoga Shown To Reverse Scoliosis
Individuals are recommended to do just one yoga pose daily. However, depending on the type and severity of the curves, it could be more than one. They are asked to perform the pose for 5 minutes or less, depending on the condition. A yoga therapist, chiropractor, and physical therapist can generate significant spinal improvement. This could mean that a curve of 30 degrees could be reduced to around 18 degrees in 10-12 months. Individuals that do the poses at least 4 times a week have shown 80-90% improvement. The pose can be done at work during breaks, etc.
The biggest advantage of this technique is that it is non-invasive; it can help individuals with developing curves, reversing the curvature early. Most curves do not reach the point of surgery. In late adolescence and teen years, the spine is still quite flexible. This can help accelerate the effectiveness of the yoga pose to straighten the spine. The technique reduces the curve from worsening. X-rays will show if the curvature has improved or not. Patients could be asked to do the pose/s twice or more daily depending on the direction the condition is taking.
Gluten causes digestive issues for individuals that have celiac disease or autoimmune thyroid disease. Individuals with these conditions could experience a variety of uncomfortable and/or painful effects. These symptoms can vary based on their presentation. They fall into classifications.
Classical Celiac Disease
With classical celiac disease, symptoms include:
Abdominal bloating and pain
However, these symptoms are more common in children than adults. In adults, symptoms are more similar to non-classical celiac disease.
Non-Classical Celiac Disease
With non-classical celiac disease, severe digestive symptoms may not present as classic celiac disease symptoms but develop other symptoms. These include:
Silent celiac disease is less visible. Individuals might not see any symptoms. However, damage to the intestines is still happening from gluten consumption.
Autoimmune Thyroid Disease
Autoimmune Thyroid Disease or ATD. Autoimmune thyroid disease includes conditions like Hashimoto’s disease. This affects the thyroid gland and causes:
Sensitivity to cold
Negative health effects
Studies have shown that gluten-free helps alleviate symptoms.
Loren M. Fishman, M.D., B.Phil. (oxon). Healing Yoga. (New York: W.W. Norton, 2014).
Loren M. Fishman, M.D., B.Phil. (oxon). “Isometric Yoga-Like Maneuvers Improve Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis—A Nonrandomized Control Trial.” Global Advances in Health and Medicine. February 24, 2021. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/2164956120988259
Fishman LM, Groessl EJ, Sherman KJ, “Serial Case Reporting Yoga for Idiopathic and Degenerative Scoliosis.” Global Advances in Health and Medicine. September 1, 2014. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.7453/gahmj.2013.064
Scoliosis in adolescents and teens can be corrected with proper bracing, adjustments and lead a normal life. For adult scoliosis correcting the problem is more difficult. Fortunately, cases of adult scoliosis are rare. Scoliosis cases that follow from childhood into adulthood require a comprehensive diagnosis to determine severity. Thoracolumbar scoliosis adult-onset scoliosis requires an understanding of the catalysts to develop an effective treatment plan. Chiropractors use a full range of diagnostic tools to measure the severity of adult scoliosis.
Adult scoliosis is the presentation of abnormal curvature of the spine. It can happen in the thoracic, lumbar spine, or both. This can have varying degrees of severity. Severe adult scoliosis can be apparent through visual assessment and examination. Cases that are not as obvious require utilizing diagnostic tools. These include:
X-rays will show any asymmetry that is associated with scoliosis. This asymmetry can be present in the hips or shoulder and is usually qualified by spinal misalignment.
Walking Gait Examination
Inspecting how worn out an individual’s shoe/s are and having them perform various walking tests can reveal problems with gait. In adults, this can present instability. For example, having problems with balance or fast-twitch muscle response.
These exams are general and first performed to get a baseline diagnosis for the presence of adult scoliosis. Tests look at the left and right coordination along with the sense of touch capabilities. This measures the severity of the improper spinal curvature and how much it has affected the development of an individual’s motor functions. It is also done in the context of how it’s affecting the body’s biomechanics. Following these exams are quantitative tools/techniques for measuring the severity of adult thoracolumbar scoliosis. These include:
Cobb Angle Measurement
This tool determines the maximum degree of spinal curvature variation and provides a context for severity.
King Classification Tool
This examines the vertebral alignment to determine the spinal variance in specific vertebrae from the neutral center position.
Lenke Classification Tool
This spinal exam relies on measurements of three positions and looks for flexibility.
When assessing adult scoliosis, this is important to understand and helps determine how to proceed with treatment. The body is no longer in development as an adolescent. This means bracing does not come with a one-size-fits-all approach. Chiropractic can help with the assessment modalities used to investigate adult scoliosis cases. These measurement and analyses tools are often used in combination to develop a complete picture of what is going on.
Fill Up With Prebiotics
Individuals can help their gut bacteria thrive in the digestive tract by consuming prebiotics. Prebiotics are a form of soluble fiber. The body cannot digest these prebiotics, but gut bacteria can. Recommended sources of fiber-rich prebiotics can be found in nutrient-dense foods like:
A diet with various fiber types has been shown to reduce the risk of obesity and prevent weight gain. Resistant starches like plantains, green bananas, and cooled potatoes have increased beneficial bacteria in the colon. Barley, oats, and wheat bran are insoluble high-fiber grains that are also recommended sources.
Aebi, Max. “The adult scoliosis.” The European spine journal: official publication of the European Spine Society, the European Spinal Deformity Society, and the European Section of the Cervical Spine Research Society vol. 14,10 (2005): 925-48. doi:10.1007/s00586-005-1053-9
Haenen, Daniëlle et al. “A diet high in resistant starch modulates microbiota composition, SCFA concentrations, and gene expression in pig intestine.” The Journal of nutrition vol. 143,3 (2013): 274-83. doi:10.3945/jn.112.169672
Lowe, Thomas et al. “The SRS classification for adult spinal deformity: building on the King/Moe and Lenke classification systems.” Spine vol. 31,19 Suppl (2006): S119-25. doi:10.1097/01.brs.0000232709.48446.be
Surgery options when back pain is becoming chronic or so severe that an individual cannot function normally and negatively affects their life. Pretty much everyone experiences back pain at some point. This is often from:
Lifting heavy/non-heavy objects incorrectly
Twisting in an awkward way
Physical activity the body is not used to doing
Most cases of backaches and pain go away by themselves or with conservative treatment. But sometimes, surgery is necessary.
When Surgery Is Necessary
Acute back pain can last for days or weeks and can often resolve with physical therapy, chiropractic, and self-care. Back pain that continues for 12 weeks or longer is considered chronic. Around twenty percent of individuals who experience acute low back pain after a year begin developing chronic back pain. Doctors try to treat most back pain cases with non-surgical approaches.
They usually begin with physical therapy/chiropractic.
If that doesn’t work, then medication is incorporated.
However, many individuals do not want to take long-term medication, which is when surgery may be recommended.
In most cases, surgery is a last resort.
When the pain radiates to the legs or if it is causing problems with bladder and/or bowel function, these are definite signs/symptoms that surgery is needed. If the pain/dysfunction continues after thorough and effective non-surgical treatment, surgery could be recommended to preserve the spine to improve spinal strength and function before the problem worsens, causing further injury and damage. Some of the most common and effective spine surgery options include.
Microdiscectomy is the most common back surgery in the United States. It is minimally invasive spine surgery. Microdiscectomy patients have low back pain combined with leg pain, tingling, numbness, and weakness. In between the vertebrae are the body’s shock-absorbing discs. The discs can begin to bulge out, a bulging or herniated disc, and press on the surrounding nerve roots, causing pain, tingling, numbness, or weakness. A microdiscectomy removes the portions of the disc pressing on the nerve.
It is called micro because the surgeon wears specialized glasses known as loupes that act as microscopes. This is so the surgeon can see the details when they’re operating. The surgery is performed through a small incision in the middle of the back or on the affected side. Patients can go home a few hours after the surgery and return to normal activities within two weeks. The success rate is 85 – 95%, especially if the surgery is done early before the damage begins to spread out.
The spinal canal contains a special lining. This is where the nerves and ligaments run through. Age, along with normal wear and tear on the body, causes the ligaments to thicken. This is when bone spurs can develop from osteoarthritis, and the discs can begin to bulge or rupture/herniate. This clogs and impinges the space where the nerves should easily flow through. This narrowing is called spinal stenosis. A laminectomy opens up the space relieving the compression/pressure. The procedure requires removing part of the back of a vertebra called the lamina. This enlarges the spinal canal and relieves the pressure on the nerves. The procedure is done through a small incision in the middle of the back but can also be done through a minimal incision. Leg pain improves after surgery. A traditional incision full recovery takes 6 to 12 weeks. The success rate is around 85 percent.
A spinal fusion joins/fuses two or more bones in the spine. This is done when an individual has severe compression of the nerves, severe instability, or spinal revision surgery. A fusion can help stabilize spinal fractures. Other reasons for a spinal fusion are spine deformity, cancer of the spine, and sometimes used for intractable pain. A fusion stabilizes the spine with screws and rods. The disc causing the compression is replaced with a fusion device and bone graft. The surgery is often performed in combination with a laminectomy. Recovery and returning to activities can take around 3-4 months after the procedure. The success rate is 85-90% with pain improvement.
Spinal compression fractures are common in individuals with osteoporosis. When they happen, the pain can be so intense that braces and medication don’t help. Kyphoplasty can bring pain relief. It can be performed by a pain management doctor, interventional radiologist, or surgeon in an outpatient X-ray facility and operating room. The procedure involves conscious sedation, sometimes accompanied by general anesthesia. A small instrument is inserted into the vertebra, and a balloon is inflated to make room for bone cement. After the bone cement is injected, patients can go home within a few hours. The success rate is around 85%, and recovery time could be several days.
This is a procedure that can replace spinal fusion for certain cases. A disc replacement can be done in the lumbar/low back or the cervical/neck spine. This procedure is performed to treat a pinched nerve and/or spinal cord compression. The injured/damaged disc is removed and is replaced with an artificial disc. The device allows for motion, whereas fusion procedures fuse the bones to stabilize and immobilize the area. Disc replacement is recommended for younger patients that don’t have serious arthritis. This is because they still have mobility. If significant arthritis is present, the patient could experience more pain and require spinal fusion. Recovery takes around six weeks. Intense physical activity is off-limits for two or three weeks after the initial recovery period. The success rate is more than 90%.
Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion – ACDF
This is a common neck/cervical spine procedure. This surgery is for pain relief, weakness, tingling, and numbness of the arms caused by a pinched nerve or stenosis. The damaged disc is removed through a small incision in the side of the front of the neck. The disc is replaced with a bone graft or specialized spacer and a small plate with screws. This is to stabilize the spine. It is highly effective in relieving pain and in preventing neurological decline from spinal cord compression. Recovery time is around 12 weeks before a full return to normal activities. However, individuals report feeling better after two weeks.
Back Surgery Options
The majority of cases involving back pain get better on their own or with conservative treatment. But if an individual cannot find relief, there are safe and effective surgery options that can help.
When The Immune System Activates
When the body gets sick from a bacterial infection, virus, etc., the body’s defense system activates, causing inflammation. This immune response serves as the first wave of defense against foreign invaders. The infected area becomes red and swollen from increased blood flow. For example, when the nose gets red from a cold, this is inflammation. The reaction is caused by white blood cells known as macrophages, and the proteins they emit called cytokines encourage inflammation. Inflammation that’s triggered by the immune system is normally a good thing. It means the body is releasing a proper amount of hormones and proteins. These activate the white blood cells to start the healing process and work to fight the infection.
Low Back Pain Fact Sheet. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/Patient-Caregiver-Education/Fact-Sheets/Low-Back-Pain-Fact-Sheet
A review of complication rates for Anterior Cervical Diskectomy and Fusion (ACDF). Surg Neurol Int. 2019. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31528438/
Pregnancy is an exciting time in a woman’s life. A healthy pregnancy is the objective, and therefore, essential to maintain a healthy diet and stay physically active. However, it can be easy to forget about the strain that pregnancy places on the body and push through the aches and pain with everything going on. Specifically the spine and pelvis. During pregnancy, the body goes through various changes to accommodate the growing baby. When pregnant, a hormone known as relaxin is released. This relaxes the joints for labor and delivery. Sometimes the ligaments can become too loose that they become structurally unstable. This causes pain. Other factors that can lead to spine misalignment and pain:
25 – 30 lbs of added weight and pressure on the spine, pelvis, legs, feet.
Weakened abdominal muscles.
Lower back curvature becomes more prominent.
Pregnant women going through discomfort/pain can benefit from chiropractic pregnancy adjustments. These maintain spinal alignment while keeping the baby safe. Chiropractors are trained to treat pregnant women; however, there is additional certification to specialize in this area. A prenatal chiropractor also provides information on:
Preparing the body for labor and birth
Maintaining healthy posture
Ensure the body is properly aligned throughout the pregnancy.
Chiropractic Benefits For A Healthy Pregnancy
The obvious benefits include back pain relief, quality of life improvement, and reducing the need for pain medications. Other benefits include:
Alleviates sciatic nerve pain
Helps to control urinary incontinence
Reduces pregnancy-related nausea
Aligns the pelvis for optimal delivery
Reduces labor and delivery time
There is little risk associated with prenatal chiropractic care. However, it is not recommended for pregnant women with health complications like vaginal bleeding or ectopic pregnancy.
If the baby does not have enough room or is going into a breeched position, a chiropractor will work on the ligaments and muscles in the pelvic region to decrease any intrauterine restrictions. Getting the pelvis aligned will allow for an optimal delivery position. This will help move the head down and give the baby more space. If there is a breech position, it is recommended to see a chiropractor once a week during the eighth and ninth months.
When to Start
After receiving approval from the obstetrician, a woman can see a chiropractor at any stage during pregnancy. Many women start chiropractic in the first trimester. This develops a relationship early and benefits the woman as her body changes throughout the pregnancy.
Most patients visit a chiropractor once a month during the first trimester. Then they increase the sessions as the pregnancy progresses. Every woman’s pregnancy is different, requiring a personalized/customized treatment plan. The chiropractor will best advise on the frequency of treatment.
A chiropractor’s job is to manipulate the woman’s spine, joints, and muscles into alignment.
The adjustments utilize gentle pressure. The techniques are adjusted accordingly. Depending on how far along the woman is, as well as musculoskeletal health. For example, they could emphasize focus on the pelvis to reduce stress on the uterus and ligaments for a few sessions. Then shift back to the spine. They will not exert excessive pressure on the abdomen and possibly incorporate specialized equipment specifically for pregnant women.
Symptoms of sciatica are common during pregnancy, typically in the later months. This comes from the added pressure on the sciatic nerve. It can be sharp, burning pain from the hip to the foot. This makes walking, sitting, and sleeping uncomfortable to unbearable. Some women are fortunate enough to experience relief if the baby moves off the sciatic nerve. However, most will need some form of treatment to manage and heal the symptoms. This usually includes:
Series of adjustments
Hot and cold therapies
Chiropractic can continue to help after giving birth, providing post-natal care helping the body return to its pre-pregnancy state healthily and optimally.
Diet, Nutrition During Pregnancy
From a nutritional perspective, a high GI diet during pregnancy increases the chances of excessive weight gain and overweight babies. Intake of low-glycemic carbs is associated with weight gain in the normal range. If planning to get pregnant or are pregnant, pay attention to the quality of carb intake for a healthy pregnancy. Health care providers recommend avoiding extreme diets for the first four to six weeks after delivery. This gives the body time to recover and helps to establish a consistent milk supply, as rapid weight loss could interfere with breastfeeding. Before going on a diet or starting an exercise program, check with a healthcare provider to rule out any medical conditions.
30 of the Most Surprising (And Alarming) Back Pain Statistics. The Good Body. https://www.thegoodbody.com/back-pain-statistics/. Last updated May 30, 2017. Accessed September 22, 2017.
Bernard, Maria, and Peter Tuchin. “Chiropractic Management of Pregnancy-Related Lumbopelvic Pain: A Case Study.” Journal of chiropractic medicine vol. 15,2 (2016): 129-33. doi:10.1016/j.jcm.2016.04.003
Gostine M. Is Lower Back Pain Normal During Pregnancy? BabyQ. https://www.babyq.com/lens/lifestyle/is-lower-back-pain-normal-during-pregnancy/. Published February 4, 2017. Accessed September 22, 2017.
Sabino J, Grauer JN. Pregnancy and low back pain. Curr Rev Musculoskelet Med. 2008; 1(2): 137–141. Published online February 26, 2008. doi: 10.1007/s12178-008-9021-8.
Individuals and doctors have praised the anti-inflammatory, pain-relieving properties of drinking tea. Inflammation is the body’s natural immune response when injury and infection present. This is good. However, it’s meant to be a temporary response that deactivates when there is no longer any danger. When the body is exposed to various irritants like industrial chemicals, inflammatory foods like sugar, refined carbohydrates, and autoimmune disorderscan cause the immune system to go into overdrive. Chronic inflammation can develop, circulating powerful hormones and chemicals through the body, causing damage to the cells. One consequence of chronic inflammation is back pain. Besides standard backaches, some chronic conditions are directly tied to inflammation. These include forms of arthritis:
These conditions involve inflammation of the central nervous system.
Certain teas contain anti-inflammatory compounds. These compounds are called polyphenols and work to decrease the chemicals in the body responsible for pain and inflammation. There are varieties of teas that contain anti-inflammatory properties.
Certain Teas Reduce Inflammation
Drinking specific teas with more polyphenols can better decrease inflammation. For example, green tea is higher in polyphenols than black tea. Recent studies centered on individuals with rheumatoid arthritis over six months found significant improvement in symptoms in those who drank green tea. Green tea works best when part of an anti-inflammatory and nutritional lifestyle adjustment. This supports combating inflammation. Other teas that are believed to reduce inflammation include:
Three Cups a Day
The amount of tea depends on the quality of the tea and how it is prepared. Doctors recommend around three cups a day for individuals with rheumatoid arthritis. However, these could contain caffeine. If this is an issue, there are decaffeinated versions with the same anti-inflammatory properties.
Drinking Tea Works Best When Combined with Other Treatments
If experiencing back pain or looking to combat a specific condition, it’s recommended to utilize various treatment approaches combined with drinking tea. This includes:
Certain back conditions benefit from drinking tea regularly; however, spine structural issues or fractures will not benefit from tea’s mild anti-inflammatory properties. It is vital for individuals with back pain that a spine specialist or chiropractor perform a proper and thorough examination, especially for Individuals that take medication that could directly interact with anti-inflammatory teas.
Drinking Tea for Back Pain
For most individuals, drinking tea is safe to help treat back pain conditions and added health benefits. For example, studies have found that green tea has mild anti-cancer, anti-diabetic properties and can help in maintaining a healthy weight. If tea helps reduce pain, it’s worth trying. Remember, pain is the body’s way to alert the individual that something is wrong.
Alcohol and Heart Health
According to the Mayo Clinic, consuming more than three alcoholic drinks in one sitting causes a temporary blood pressure elevation. Foods often served with alcohol are usually high in salt, which can also raise blood pressure. A few alcoholic beverages on a night out is fine, but heavy or binge drinking can lead to short-term spikes in blood pressure that could cause cardiac health problems. These are the short-term effects of alcohol on blood pressure. Heavy alcohol consumption can lead to long term health risks like:
It’s recommended that individuals incorporate regular exercise/physical activity and healthy diet changes and watch alcohol intake to improve heart health.
The Clinical Journal of Pain. (October 2019) “Nonspecific Low Back Pain:
Inflammatory Profiles of Patients With Acute and Chronic Pain” https://journals.lww.com/clinicalpain/fulltext/2019/10000/nonspecific_low_back_pain__inflammatory_profiles.2.aspx
Certain Teas Bring Down Inflammation More Than Others: Journal of Physical Therapy Science. (October 2016) “Green tea and exercise interventions as nondrug remedies in geriatric patients with rheumatoid arthritis” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5088134/
The Bottom Line: Proceeding of the Japan Academy, Series B Physical and Biological Sciences. (March 2012) “Health-promoting effects of green tea” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3365247/
Losing weight can be one of the hardest things to do. It is also one of the best things anyone can do to get rid of back pain and optimize overall health. Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight impacts the whole body, especially the spine. It is prevalent for individuals who are overweight to experience back pain. This comes from the added weight that the feet, legs, pelvis, and spine have to support. For many, once the weight comes off, the back pain reduces significantly and/or disappears completely. For those embarking on a weight loss journey, our:
Can provide resources to plan, encourage, and assist in reaching health goals.
Overweight, Obesity and Back Pain
Spine pain is one of the top reasons individuals see a doctor. The need to lose weight is based on body mass index/BMI. BMI can be an indicator that an individual’s weight might not be in a healthy range. BMI ranges:
Normal weight – Body Mass Index of less than 25
Overweight – Body Mass Index of 25 to 30
Obese – Body Mass Index of 31 to 35
Extremelyobese – Body Mass Index of 36 or higher
If unsure about how to get an accurate BMI measurement, talk to our team about InBody Testing.
Added Weight Places Pressure On the Spine
Added bodyweight places added strain on the low back. Studies have linked obesity with degenerative disc problems. Combined with the physical impact the added weight has on the spine and overall health, it can also affect spine surgery outcomes. Studies have shown that some overweight/obese individuals have an increased risk for surgery-related complications like:
Issues recovering from anesthesia
Overall recovery struggles
The good news is that individuals do not have to lose a significant amount of weight to see and feel the benefits. Losing 15% of excess weight will improve chronic back pain.
Successful weight loss is the ability to maintain the loss. It needs to be something that can be committed to and brought into an individual’s lifestyle. Trying to go hard with an extreme diet or intense exercise program is not recommended. This is like not having any long-distance running knowledge along with training but entering a 12345K race. An individual will collapse after a few blocks. And sustained weight loss is just that, a long-distance journey that requires:
Getting educated about what is going on with the body
Understanding how foods affect/impact the body
Understanding the body’s unique needs to lose weight
Developing a personal health goal plan
Lifestyle factors contribute to healthy body weight. Being able to embed healthy habits into one’s life is the objective. Although it can sound easy to do, it can be a challenging process. With professional help, individuals can:
Maintain a nutritious and balanced diet
Have an active lifestyle
Maintain healthy sleep habits
Keep stress under control
Discussing a weight loss plan is very important. A professional health coach, nutritionist, and chiropractor will develop the right program that considers an individual’s specific health status.
Achieving a healthy weight will reduce to relieve back pain completely and significantly improve quality of life. Weight management is challenging, but once the benefits are seen and felt, it becomes second nature.
The kidneys pump more than 400 gallons of recycled blood through the body every day. These organs work nonstop to filter blood and remove waste. If the kidneys become impaired, the body can become overloaded with waste. Unhealthy lifestyle choices can harm/damage the kidneys. Kidney disease progresses slowly over the years. Individuals can lose 90 percent of kidney function before symptoms become serious. Chronic kidney disease is not reversible. However, with lifestyle adjustments, an individual can lower their risk of developing kidney-related diseases.
Drink plenty of water to clear sodium, urea, and toxins from the body and prevents kidney stones. Try to drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day. Every individual’s body water levels are different. A body composition test can determine what is normal for the individual.
Maintain healthy diet
Poor diet contributes to visceral fat gain. This has been linked to chronic kidney disease. Reduce visceral fat by eating a healthy diet of vegetables, fruit, and lean protein. Cut down on salty, processed foods. Body composition testing can help form an individualized diet plan to reduce visceral fat.
Supplements, antibiotics, and OTC medications
Overuse of common over-the-counter medications and supplements can cause kidney damage and disease. Consult with a doctor before taking medications and supplements if there is kidney function impairment.
Maintain fitness and physical activity
Cardio and strength training exercises are recommended. High blood sugar levels stress the kidneys. Building adequate muscle mass will help control blood sugar. A body composition test can make sure there are adequate amounts of muscle mass.
Liuke M, Solovieva S, Lamminen A, Luoma K, et al. Disc degeneration of the lumbar spine in relation to overweight. Int J Obes (Lond). 2005;29(8):903-908.
Ogden CL, Carroll MD, Fryar CD, Flegal KM. Prevalence of Obesity Among Adults and Youth: the United States, 2011–2014. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: National Center for Health Statistics.https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db219.htm. Page last updated: October 28, 2015. Accessed July 10, 2017
Samartzis D, Karppinen J, Chan D, Luk KD, et al. The association of lumbar intervertebral disc degeneration on magnetic resonance imaging with body mass index in overweight and obese adults: A population-based study. Arthritis & Rheumatology. 2012;64(5):1488-1496.
Tennis is a sport that can be enjoyed by individuals of all ages and provides optimal physical activity and cardiovascular exercise. Although it can be leisurely, it does require being light on the feet with quick, starting, stopping, turning, and twisting movements for those new to playing tennis. If back pain is present, playing can be difficult. One study showed almost 40% of tennis players missed one or more tournaments because of low back pain/problems. A 2016 study found that tennis players with low back pain have difficulty moving their muscles with ease.
Know and Understand the Risks
Playing tennis has its risks when it comes to back pain. What can bring on or worsen back pain are the repetitive motions, like swinging, serving, volleying, and the uneven force placed on the body. This force is the power and momentum that is used for certain swings like serving and forehands. What happens is it does not evenly distribute through the body, increasing the potential to cause strains and sprains. For example, the serving motion repeatedly puts a hyperextension force through the spine. The result is overuse injuries.
No one wants to injure their back for those new to tennis and those who have been playing for years. This is where off-court conditioning comes in and preventive measures. This includes:
Trying to smash the ball too soon can result in a rotator cuff injury.
Stay Aware of Your Body
Playing tennis can cause an individual to become distracted; however, it’s crucial to be mindful of the body and what’s going on.
Pay attention to the heat.
Proper rest between games
Hydration to prevent muscle cramping
Stretching before and after playing
Warming up and cooling down
Take a break and stretch out if pain symptoms present.
Never play through the pain that could result in worsening or creating new injuries.
Pay attention to proper form.
Apply modifications to prevent and avoid worsened back pain. This could be serving more simply or hitting around a stroke that generates pain symptoms.
After a match, rehydrate the body and cool down. This could be a little walking around the court, if possible getting in a pool or water splash park, and let the musculoskeletal system recover. Do some spinal exercises afterward, like yoga poses. Applying anti-inflammatory creams or gels can help keep the muscles loose and promote circulation. Anti-inflammatory foods can help with pain and inflammation.
There are individuals with spinal conditions that should not play tennis. These include:
Acute disc herniation
Active bone injury/s – fractures and stress fractures
Spinal instability – spondylolisthesis
A spinal condition involving nerves and/or the spinal cord
Consult a doctor before adding tennis to a physical regimen. Tennis is an aerobic activity that has several benefits. It keeps the body physically active for mental and physical wellness. The hormones released can help mitigate musculoskeletal pain and negative emotions like depression and anxiety that can come from experiencing back pain.
Magnesium supports a healthy immune system. It helps maintain:
Aids muscle relaxation after exercise/physical activity
Magnesium is essential in several biochemical reactions; a slight deficiency can increase cardiovascular disease risk. Deficiency can also lead to an increased risk of insulin resistance. Magnesium-rich foods are also high fiber foods. Dietary fiber helps with:
Helps control weight
Stabilizes blood sugar
Recommended sources of Magnesium include:
Green vegetables – spinach, swiss chard, and turnip greens
Nuts – almonds and cashews
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Wang, Jinsong, et al. “Dietary magnesium intake improves insulin resistance among non-diabetic individuals with metabolic syndrome participating in a dietary trial.” Nutrients vol. 5,10 3910-9. 27 Sep. 2013, doi:10.3390/nu5103910
Stretching out for everyday wear and tear. The body was designed for movement, mobility, and physicality. When discomfort, aches, and pain present in the neck, shoulders, back, and joints, it is often from a decrease of natural body movement. Many think that sitting still and resting is the best solution to alleviate the pain. While it is important to rest, it is the type of rest that helps the body. Sitting still with no movement is not recommended. The muscles, ligaments, and tendons need to flex and stretch out to help reduce pain and prevent injury. Safe, chiropractic-approved stretches can increase mobility and fluidity, helping the body stay flexible and loose.
Stretching Out For Everyday Wear and Tear Is Important
Whether experiencing pain or are getting ready for the day, there are many reasons why stretching is important. One, stretching is essential to optimal joint health. When muscles surrounding the joints become tight/tense, this significantly reduces mobility in the joint. Regular stretching lengthens the muscles, relaxing the joints to move without discomfort/awkwardness. Stretching optimizes blood circulation to flow smoothly through the body. Routine stretching helps reduce stress and improves energy. Other benefits include:
Post-workout/exercise/physical activity soreness and pain relief
Improves athletic performance
Helps heal existing injuries
Stretching Safe at Home
Chiropractors often recommend stretches for patients to follow to help improve their progress between appointments. If persistent pain is presenting, consult with a qualified chiropractic doctor before performing any stretches. If done incorrectly, they can exacerbate pain and cause further damage. No matter an individual’s lifestyle, the wear and tear of everyday life can cause tightness, inflammation, or generalized pain. Developing a regular stretching routine can address any tense, tight, sore areas that will help keep the body pain-free.
Most individuals feel tailbone pain from sitting for long periods of time. Reasons for tailbone pain can result from:
Sitting in the wrong position
All can injure the tailbone and/or the surrounding muscles and tissue.
Tailbone stretching improves movement and flexibility in these muscles and tissue, maintaining the tailbone’s health. One recommended stretch is the piriformis cross leg stretch.
Lie flat on the back.
Bring both knees toward the hips.
Rest the right ankle across the left knee.
Wrap both hands around the left thigh
Pull toward the chest.
Hold for 20-30 seconds.
Slowly bring down both legs and return to the starting position.
Repeat on the other side.
Wrist and Hand Stretch
For those that are constantly writing, typing, or lifting regularly, wrist and hand pain can begin to present. Stretches for the hands and wrists can:
Reduce the risk of injury
The prayer stretch for the wrists and hands is specifically designed to strengthen the muscles and tendons in the wrists.
Standing with the back straight and feet shoulder-width apart.
Place hands together in a prayer position.
Hands in front of the face.
Pressing both palms together, slowly spread the elbows apart.
Begin to lower the hands to waist height
Stop once the hands become level with the belly button or when the stretch is felt.
Hold the position for 10-30 seconds.
Return to the original position.
Repeat as needed.
When tightness or soreness presents in the knee, stretching the hamstrings can help. The hamstrings go through a great deal of wear and tear, supporting the hips and knees, maintaining mobility and flexibility.
Standing with the back straight.
Step forward with the left foot.
Flex the left foot and keep the right foot flat.
Loosen the hips and bend the right knee.
As the right leg is bent, keep the left leg completely straight with the heel pressing into the ground.
If maintaining balance is difficult, use a wall for support.
Hold the position for 10-15 seconds.
Return to starting position.
Repeat on the other side.
Body Composition Health
The Gut’s Hormones
When a meal enters the stomach and intestines, it triggers the digestive tract to release hormones that create the full feeling. These are the gut’s hormones, with each having a specific set of actions and effects. Examples include PYY, GLP-1, and GIP. Gut hormones are essential because they signal the body to slow down or stop eating. Therefore, the size of a meal influences the number of gut hormones that get released. The body releases larger quantities of gut hormones in response to meals with a higher caloric density. This is because larger meals usually contain more calories. This is one reason the body feels more satisfied after a large meal. Smaller meals are less satisfying, which means an individual will want to eat again after the meal.
After eating comes the digestion and absorption of macronutrients. This is known as the postprandial state. The body is in storage mode during the postprandial state. Even though the metabolic rate increases after a meal, the contents of that meal get broken down and stored for fuel. Four hours after a meal, the body goes back to its baseline state, which primarily burns through the stored fuel. Eating frequent, small meals throughout the day means the body spends more of the day in the postprandial storage state.
Bandy, WD et al. “The effect of time and frequency of static stretching on flexibility of the hamstring muscles.” Physical therapy vol. 77,10 (1997): 1090-6. doi:10.1093/ptj/77.10.1090
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Hotta, Kazuki et al. “Daily muscle stretching enhance blood flow, endothelial function, capillarity, vascular volume and connectivity in aged skeletal muscle.” The Journal of physiology vol. 596,10 (2018): 1903-1917. doi:10.1113/JP275459
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Individuals that experience frequent headaches can have sensitive headache trigger points. Every case is different and requires a thorough examination before a proper and personalized chiropractic treatment plan can begin. Headaches can be brought on from a variety of causes. This could be:
Temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ)
Tightness in the neck muscles
Low blood sugar
High blood pressure
The majority of recurrent headaches fall into three types:
Tension headaches, also known as cervicogenic headaches
Tension headaches are the most common and affect around 77% of individuals experiencing chronic headaches. Most individuals describe a tension headache as a consistent dull ache on one side of the head and sometimes both sides. They are often described as having a tight band/belt around the head or behind the eyes. These headaches usually start slowly, gradually and can last for a few minutes or days. They tend to start in the middle of the day or before the end of the day.
These headaches can be the result of stress and/or poor posture. The most common cause is subluxations in the upper back and neck, usually combined with active headache trigger points. This stresses the spinal muscles in the upper back and neck. A tension headache or stress headache can last 30 minutes to a few days. Chronic tension headaches can last for months. The pain can be severe; however, these headaches are typically not associated with symptoms like throbbing, nausea, or vomiting.
If the top cervical vertebrae shift out of their position and lose their normal motion, a small muscle called the rectus capitis posterior minor/RCPM begins to spasm. This small muscle has a tendon that slips between the upper neck and the base of the skull. It attaches to a thin, sensitive tissue called the dura mater that covers the brain. The dura mater is very pain-sensitive. When the RCPM muscle goes into spasm, the tendon pulls the dura mater causing a headache. Individuals that work at a desk station for long hours tend to experience headaches from this cause. Another cause comes from referred pain caused by headache trigger points in the Sternocleidomastoid/SCM or levator muscle on the side of the neck. This cause tends to happen more to individuals that have suffered a whiplash injury with muscle damage in the neck region.
Migraines are intense and throbbing headaches that are associated with nausea and sensitivity to light or noise. They can last for a few hours to a few days. Many experience visual symptoms known as an aura just before they come on. This is described as seeing flashing lights or when things take on a dream-like appearance. However, even in individuals that don’t experience the aura, most can tell that a migraine is getting ready to present. Individuals usually have their first attack before age 30. They tend to run in families supporting a genetic component. Some have attacks several times a month, while others can have less than one a year. Most individuals find that migraines happen less and become less severe as they get older.
These headaches are caused by the constriction of blood vessels in the brain. During the constriction period, there is a decrease in blood circulation. This is followed by dilation/enlargening of the blood vessels. This is what leads to the visual symptoms. Then the blood vessels dilate, generating a rapid increase in blood pressure inside the head. This increased pressure is what leads to a pounding headache. Every time the heart beats, it sends another shock wave through the carotid arteries in the neck into the brain. There are different theories as to why the blood vessels constrict, but they are still unknown. What is known is that several factors can trigger a migraine. This includes:
Lack of sleep
Foods that are high in an amino acid known as tyramine
Cluster headaches are very short excruciating headaches. They are usually felt on one side of the head behind the eyes. These headaches affect about 1 million individuals and are more common in men. This type of headache tends to happen at night. They are called cluster headaches because they tend to happen one to four times a day over several days. After one cluster is over, it could be months or even years before they present again. Like migraines, cluster headaches cause the dilation of the blood vessels in the brain, increasing the pressure.
Headache trigger point therapy involves four muscles. These are the:
The Splenius muscles involve two individual muscles, the Splenius Capitis and the Splenius Cervicis. These muscles run along the upper back to the skull base or the upper cervical/neck vertebrae. Trigger points in the Splenius muscles are a common contributor to pain that travels through the head to the back of the eye and top of the head.
The Suboccipitals are a group of four small muscles that maintain proper movement and positioning between the first cervical vertebra and the skull base. Trigger points in these muscles can cause pain that feels like it’s happening inside the head, from the back to the eye and forehead. Individuals report that the whole side of the head hurts. This is a pain pattern similar to a migraine.
The Sternocleidomastoid muscle runs along the base of the skull, behind the ear, down the side of the neck. It attaches to the top of the sternum/breastbone. Although most are not aware of this muscle’s trigger points, the effects are evident. This includes:
Referred pain tends to be eye pain, headaches over the eye, and can even cause earaches. An unusual characteristic of SCM headache trigger points is that they can cause dizziness, nausea, and balance problems.
The trapezius muscle is the large, flat muscle in the upper and middle back. Pain can be felt in the temple and back of the head. A common trigger point is located at the top of the muscle. This particular point can activate secondary trigger pointsin the temple or jaw muscles, leading to jaw or tooth pain.
Stress can be a trigger.
Depression, anxiety, frustration, and even pleasant excitement can be associated with headache development.
A headache diary can help determine whether factors like food, weather, and/or mood correlate with headache patterns.
Repeated exposure to nitrite compounds can result in a dull headache accompanied by a flushed face. Nitrite dilates blood vessels and is found in products like heart medications, and is also used as a chemical to preserve meat. Processed meats containing sodium nitrite can contribute to headaches.
Foods prepared with monosodium glutamate or MSG can result in headaches. Soy sauce, meat tenderizers, and various packaged foods contain this chemical as a flavor enhancer.
Exposure to poisons, even household varieties like insecticides, carbon tetrachloride, and lead, can contribute.
Contact with lead batteries or lead-glazed pottery.
Foods that are high in the amino acid tyramine should be avoided. This could be ripened cheeses like cheddar, brie, chocolate, and pickled or fermented food.
Chiropractic adjustments are highly effective for treating tension headaches, especially those that originate in the neck. Research has found that spinal manipulation resulted in almost immediate improvement and had fewer side effects and longer-lasting relief than taking common medications. There is a significant improvement by manipulating the upper two cervical vertebrae, combined with adjustments to the area between the cervical and thoracic spine.
Body Composition Testing
Vibration exercise is believed to stimulate the muscle fibers without going to a gym or stressing the bones. One study broke up postmenopausal women into three groups: resistance training, vibration training combined with resistance training, or no exercise/training. Their body composition was measured before starting the study. After the study was completed, the findings included:
Both the resistance group and the resistance group with vibration training increased lean tissue mass.
The control group did not show an increase in lean tissue and, in fact, gained body fat.
The combination group, using vibration training with resistance training, showed a drop in body fat.
Another study placed male athletes in a training program that included vibration training. The first group had lower-limb strength training combined with vibration training, and the other had lower-limb strength training without vibration training. The researchers found that the athletes in the vibration training group improved leg extension strength by five percent. In addition, the vibration training groups balancing ability and vertical lift/jumping test improved as well.
Bryans, Roland et al. “Evidence-based guidelines for the chiropractic treatment of adults with headache.” Journal of manipulative and physiological therapeutics vol. 34,5 (2011): 274-89. doi:10.1016/j.jmpt.2011.04.008
Chaibi, Aleksander et al. “Chiropractic spinal manipulative therapy for cervicogenic headache: a single-blinded, placebo, randomized controlled trial.” BMC research notes vol. 10,1 310. 24 Jul. 2017, doi:10.1186/s13104-017-2651-4
Bryans R, Descarreaux M, Duranleau M, et al. Evidence-based guidelines for the chiropractic treatment of adults with neck pain. J Manipulative Physiol Ther 2014; 37: 42-63.
Bryans R, Descarreaux M, Duranleau M, et al. Evidence-based guidelines for the chiropractic treatment of adults with headache. J Manipulative Physiol Ther 2011; 34: 274-89.
The sciatic nerve is the largest in the body and is created by five nerve roots that come together and exit the lower spine. It goes through the buttocks on either side and down the thighs all the way to the heels and soles of the feet. The sciatic nerve connects the spinal cord to the muscles of the thigh, leg, and foot. Any type of pain and/or neurological symptom/s that comes from the sciatic nerve is known as sciatica. The symptoms can be felt along the nerve’s path. This could be the:
When the nerve is compressed, neurological symptoms can accompany the pain. These include:
Thigh muscle weakness
If the thigh muscles are affected, weakness can be felt when bending or flexing the knee.
Leg and foot muscle weakness
Weakness can be felt while attempting to bend the knee or pointing the foot/toes upward/downward. This can lead to foot drop, which makes lifting the front part of the foot when walking difficult. Difficulty can also present when getting up from a sitting position or walking on the tiptoes.
Loss of sensation can happen when the nerve impulses/transmissions cannot pass all the way through. Common areas affected by numbness are the:
Side of the calf
Side of the heel
Bottom of the foot
Top of the foot
This is an abnormal sensation felt on the skin. It is brought on by improper nerve transmission. This sensation can include:
Crawling feeling along the back of the thigh and/or leg
Physical forces could affect the nerve following common conditions:
A disc in the lower back can bulge or herniate. This causes irritation that can lead to compression of a nerve root.
Stenosis means the opening where the sciatic nerve exit into the buttocks begins to get narrow in size. This creates a clog with the other nerve roots that compresses or irritates the sciatic nerve. Degenerative changes in the spine like the thickening of the facet joint capsules and/or ligaments can also compress the sciatic nerve.
Instability of a vertebral segment happens when one vertebra slips over the one below it, known as spondylolisthesis. There are also vertebral defects like spondylolysis which is a complete dislocation of one or more vertebrae. This can directly compress the sciatic nerve roots.
The body’s own chemicals can irritate the nerve causing inflammation. These chemical irritants include:
Fibronectin protein fragments leak out of degenerated or herniated discs onto and around the sciatic nerve roots.
There are times when degenerated discs can cause nerve tissues to grow into a disc. The tissue penetrates the outer and inner layers of the disc, causing inflammation and pain.
Some studies have shown how an immune system response can contribute to sciatic pain when there is exposure to the disc material from herniated disc/s.
Glycosphingolipids which are fats, and neurofilaments which are protein polymers. They are secreted by the immune system and have been found to have high levels in individuals with sciatica. It is believed they are released in reaction to the nerve roots and exposed disc material. This can lead to inflammation of the sciatic nerve.
The physical characteristics of an individual can also affect the sciatic nerve. Research has shown an increased risk of sciatica in:
Individuals with certain jobs can have an increased risk of developing sciatica. Examples include:
Athletes that lift weights
This comes from:
Sitting for long amounts of time
Constant bending forward or sideways
Regularly lifting the arms above shoulder level
All are risk factors.
Vitamin B12 deficiency
Adequate levels of vitamin B12 are important for nerve health. Vitamin B12 supports the myelin sheath that covers and protects the nerves. It is important in nerve function and in transmitting impulses. Sciatica can present from vitamin B12 deficiency. However, this is more common in individuals 60+.
Alleviating Nerve Pain Through Clinical Nutrition
Clinical nutrition is a powerful tool to help alleviate sciatica. Many individuals can relieve their pain through diet adjustments. Here are a few diet tips to alleviate sciatic nerve pain through clinical nutrition:
Sometimes, sciatica can be triggered by constipation from an unhealthy diet
Oily fish like salmon and halibut are rich in omega 3 fatty acids
Fresh pineapples and berries are anti-inflammatories that support healing and boost the immune system
2-3 cups of green tea
Add turmeric, ginger, and garlic to meals
B-Vitamins are important to take in when going through sciatica and are found in green peas, spinach, navy beans, nuts, bananas
Foods that are rich in A-Vitamins like dairy products, dark leafy vegetables, orange-colored fruits, eggs, and oily fish
Foods rich in C-Vitamins, like citrus and tomatoes
K-Vitamins like broccoli and spinach
Drink plenty of water, between 6 to 8 glasses a day
Foods to Avoid
Nutritionists recommend cutting out meat products except for oily fish for the first two weeks.
Foods that contain sunflower oil, corn oil, sesame oil, margarine, and partially hydrogenated oil.
Stressor foods like caffeine, processed food, soda, refined sugars, and chocolate.
Giuffre BA, Jeanmonod R. Anatomy, Sciatic Nerve. [Updated 2018 Dec 16]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2019 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK482431/.
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Quero L, Klawitter M, Schmaus A, et al. Hyaluronic acid fragments enhance the inflammatory and catabolic response in human intervertebral disc cells through modulation of toll-like receptor 2 signaling pathways. Arthritis Res Ther. 2013;15(4): R94. Published 2013 Aug 22. doi:10.1186/ar4274.
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It is time for outdoorsummer activities. Summer is iconic in its association with a wide range of outdoor activities. However, many can be physically strenuous and require a great deal of body movement. Summer gets individuals thinking of:
This is when individuals have to figure out which activities will be easy on their backs. For those dealing with regular and/or chronic back or neck pain, athletic/movement-based activities can be done with:
Most activities can be manageable.
Preventing/avoiding worsening the pain is the most recommended solution.
Individuals can still enjoy favorite outdoor activities for those who do have back pain, whether from an injury, herniated disc, muscle strain, arthritis, osteoporosis, or another cause.
Safe Summer Activities Safe For The Spine
The best summer activity for the spine/back is swimming or any movement in the water. It is recommended and utilized in physical therapy for those with injuries and pain conditions and is shown to prove that it brings relief and exercise. Hot weather makes it easy to get in the water, whether a pool, river, or lake. Doing basic water stretches, exercises, or walking movements can bring significant pain relief. This is because the body’s weight is lessened, which lessens the spine’s pressure.
Getting outside every day and running can cause a great deal of strain. However, walking is extremely safe and effective, especially on the spine. The key is to take it slow and build up the ability to walk longer and further. However, those with spinal stenosis, which is the narrowing of the spinal canal, might find that walking increases pain. It is recommended to start with light walking sessions and modify them as much as needed. An example could be walking half a block; if pain presents, perform some other movement/s that does not cause pain, and then walk another half block. Taking it slow.
It is not out of the question for individuals who like to hike, but caution should be taken. This is because hiking adds factors that can increase the risk for injuries or conditions if the activity is not modified. Most hikes involve hills, elevation changes, climbing, and uneven surfaces. This requires planning and preparation. It is recommended to choose hiking paths that will not exhaust an individual, and that can be easily backtracked if pain or issues arise. This is especially important for those that are flexion-intolerant. This is when individuals feel pain when bending or leaning forward over the hips. This could be hiking up and down hills that are likely to cause flare-ups.
Fishing is a favorite summer activity and is recommended because of the relaxed atmosphere and ability to be modified easily. Individuals can sit in a supportive chair and fish, or they can stand and fish. There is not a lot of quick bending or rotating and totally open to modifications.
Activity Moderation and/or Modification
Figuring out movement modifications or mix up the time. Activities can be enjoyed; it just requires making the right adjustment/s that will make the activity manageable. For those with back pain usually know what movements will cause pain. This can help make it easier to modify specific movements/motions. Activities that more than likely will cause inflammation flare-ups are about finding a way to do it so that the result is not as extreme.
One way to modify summer activities is by altering/changing the amount of time engaged. For example, instead of spending 4-6 hours fixing up the yard/gardening, break it up by doing the activity for an hour, stop, stretch, relax, rehydrate, and then continue, respectively.
Modification can also be done by changing the functional components of the activity/s. Rather than bending and picking up tools, pulling weeds, etc., get a work stool/bench and perform the activity sitting. This goes for any activity.
Body Composition Health
Can more fat be burned by exercising in the heat?
Individuals wonder if exercising when it’s hot out causes the body to burn more fat. After all, the body is hotter and sweating much more. However, it’s more complicated. Studies show that when exercise is done in high temperatures, the heat can affect the body’s hormonal and metabolic response. The same studies show a consistent shift from breaking down fat cells for energy and breaking down carbohydrates for energy. When exercising in extreme heat, the energy demand becomes too high to break down more fat. Instead, it uses carbohydrates. So the extra sweat is just water, salt, and not fat. But heat can still play a positive role in improving body composition. Two ways include:
Heat shock proteins – HSP – Without exercise, exposure to heat can cause heat shock proteins to activate. Heat shock proteins live inside cells and aid in muscle protein synthesis and repair. When exposed to temperature/thermal stress, they increase to meet the demand.
Human Growth Hormone – HGH – Synthetic Human Growth Hormone increases lean mass, reduces body fat, and improves performance. However, it is naturally produced by the body and can be enhanced through exercise.
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Many individuals will be looking up at the fireworks this 4th of July weekend. A word of caution when keeping the neck in one position for too long can cause neck discomfort and/or pain. Neck discomfort and pain can cause significant disruption with everyday activities. The neck is an area that is constantly in motion. Keeping it in one position for an extended period can cause damage/injury and spinal misalignment. Although neck pain often resolves on its own in a few days. However, it can lead to headaches or an inability to concentrate, affecting an individual’s quality of life. Here are some potential causes and remedies for decreasing neck discomfort and pain.
Keeping The Neck In One Position For Too Long Can Cause
Mechanical issues and imbalances in the upper spine, known as the cervical spine
Injury or trauma to the neck from the force and weight
Chronic neck misalignment
If symptoms come on suddenly, are severe, or result in neurological issues like severe shooting pain, tingling, numbness, or sudden loss of arm strength, seek medical attention immediately.
When the neck is strained or out of alignment, it disrupts nerve circulation integrity. Spinal misalignment is subtle in nature and can be difficult to detect without a professional examination. A chiropractor is trained to recognize any underlying issues to reset/realign the entire spine to optimal form. They will assess, guide, and treat the issue/s specific to the individual’s needs. Once the nerves are working uninhibited, a chiropractor can recommend neck exercises, stretches, and more to strengthen and prevent neck problems. When spinal alignment is restored, the body will begin to operate at full potential.
Healthy Body Composition
Meal Prep to Success
For individuals that want to eat less and change eating habits, change up the approach.
Meal prepping is a healthy habit that many have had success with because it helps achieve sustainable outcomes in weight loss. Every meal plan will vary for everyone.
First, individuals have different health goals.
Second, everyone has a different approach to their diet choices. For example, an individual might want to go low-carb and goes with the ketogenic diet. In comparison, some individuals are comfortable planning a week in advance and freezing labeled plastic containers.
Regardless of goals, dietary, or fitness preferences, a workable meal plan is recommended. The ultimate goal is to prevent feeling overwhelmed about planning the next healthy meal and resort to a junk food meal. To steer clear of unhealthy food choices and achieve a healthy body composition, here is a real-world tip to create and stick to a healthy meal plan.
Have a well-stocked fridge and pantry
Keeping to a meal plan is easier with a well-stocked fridge and pantry. Ensure to keep a list of essential groceries whenever going to the store to ensure plenty. This list of staples includes:
Having these ingredients ready to go means a healthy meal can be quickly put together when short on time.
Be realistic and make room for crazy days
You don’t have to come up with a seven-day weekly meal plan. It is important to change up the routine, so boredom doesn’t set in. Before planning and prepping several meals, double-check the calendar. Allow yourself some slack. This could be one or two lunches or dinners in a week just in case something comes up. If batch cooking, even schedule days for leftovers for that extra flexibility.
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Mayo Clin Proc. 2015. Epidemiology, diagnosis, and treatment of neck pain. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25659245/
Open Orthop J. 2016. A Qualitative Description of Chronic Neck Pain has Implications for Outcome Assessment and Classification. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5301418/
Phys Ther. 2018. A Mechanism-Based Approach to Physical Therapist Management of Pain. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6256939/
Maintaining the body’s musculoskeletal system and keeping it strong can be done through chiropractic and by managing general overall health. This system includes the:
These all work together to support the body’s weight and allow for movement.Injuries, disease, and aging can cause stiffness, pain, and other issues with mobility, function that can lead to various conditions and/or disease.
The musculoskeletal system
The skeleton provides the framework for the muscles and other soft tissues. Working together, they support the body’s weight, help to maintain proper posture and the ability for movement. Various disorders and conditions can lead to problems with the musculoskeletal system. This includes:
Focusing on overall health and maintaining it will keep the system in top form. This is done by:
Eating a healthy balanced diet
Maintaining a healthy weight
Regular physical activity/exercise
Chiropractic support will take the body to optimal health levels.
How does the system work?
The nervous system is the body’s central command center. It controls voluntary muscle movements. Voluntary muscles are controlled intentionally. Large muscle groups are utilized to do activities like lifting a large object. Smaller groups are used for movements, like pressing a button. Movement/motion occurs when:
The nervous system which includes the brain and nerves, transmits a signal to activate the skeletal/voluntary muscles.
The muscle fibers contract/tense in response to the signal.
When the muscle activates, it pulls on the tendon.
Tendons attach muscles to bones.
The tendon pulls the bone, generating movement.
For the muscle to relax, the nervous system sends another signal.
This signal triggers the muscle/s to relax/deactivate.
The relaxed muscle releases tension
The bone is moved to a resting position.
The musculoskeletal system functions to help stand, sit, walk, run and move in general. The adult body has 206 bones and more than 600 muscles. These are connected by ligaments, tendons, and soft tissues. The parts of the system are:
Bones support the body, protect organs and tissues, store calcium, fat and produce blood cells.
A bone’s outside shell encapsulates a spongy center.
Bones provide structure and form to the body.
They work with the muscles, tendons, ligaments, and other connective tissues to help with movement.
This is a type of connective tissue.
Cartilage provides cushion to the bones inside the joints, along the spine, and ribcage.
It is firm and rubbery.
It protects bones from rubbing against each other.
It is also found in the nose, ears, pelvis, and lungs.
Bones come together and form joints.
Some have a large range of motion, for example, the ball-and-socket shoulder joint.
Others, like the knee, allow bones to move back and forth but do not rotate.
Every muscle is made of thousands of fibers.
The muscles allow the body to move, sit upright, and remain still.
Some muscles help with running, dancing, and lifting.
Others are for writing, fastening something, talking, and swallowing.
Ligaments are made of tough collagen fibers
They connect the bones and provide stability to the joints.
Tendons connect the muscles to the bones.
They are made of fibrous tissue and collagen
They are tough but not as stretchable.
Conditions and disorders
Various conditions can cause problems with the musculoskeletal system. They can affect the way an individual moves. The most common causes of inflammation, pain, and mobility issues are:
With the natural aging process, bones lose density.
Less-dense bones can lead to osteoporosis and bone fractures/broken bones.
As the body ages, muscles lose their mass, and cartilage starts to wear down.
This can lead to pain, stiffness, and decreased range of motion.
After an injury, an individual might not heal as quickly.
Pain, inflammation, and joint stiffness are the result of arthritis.
Older individuals are more likely to develop osteoarthritis. This is from the cartilage inside the joints breaking down. However, the condition can affect individuals of all ages.
Other types of arthritis also cause pain and inflammation. This includes:
Back pain and muscle spasms can result from muscle strains or injuries, for example, a herniated disc.
Some conditions like spinal stenosis and scoliosis can cause structural problems in the back.
This can lead to pain and limited mobility.
Different types of cancer affect the musculoskeletal system, for example, bone cancer.
Congenital abnormalities can affect the body’s structure, function, and appearance. For example, clubfoot is a common musculoskeletal condition that babies can be born with. It causes stiffness and reduces the range of motion.
A wide range of diseases can affect bones, muscles, and connective tissues functionality.
For example, osteonecrosiscauses the bones to deteriorate and the cells to die.
Other disorders, like fibrous dysplasia and brittle bone disease, cause the bones to fracture/break easily.
All types of injuries can affect bones, muscles, cartilage, and connective tissues.
Injuries can occur from repetitive overuse. Examples include:
Carpal tunnel syndrome, Bursitis, and Tendinitis
Injuries to the tendons, ligaments and other soft tissues can lead to chronic conditions.
Maintaining musculoskeletal health
Recommended ways of maintaining a healthy musculoskeletal system are to keep the bones and muscles healthy by getting:
Regular physical activity and exercise
This includes weight-bearing exercises combined with cardiovascular activities. Strengthening the muscles will support the joints and protect/prevent damage.
This is so the bones and muscles can recover and rebuild.
Maintain a healthy weight
Added weight places pressure on the bones and joints.
This causes various health problems.
If there is added weight, it is recommended to consult a health coach and nutritionist about a personalized weight-loss plan.
They can help make healthy food choices that will make for strong bones and include anti-inflammation foods.
Quit tobacco use
Smoking decreases blood flow in the body.
The bones, muscles, and soft tissues need proper blood circulation to maintain health.
Regular chiropractic adjustments
Adjustments will help maintain the body’s balance and alignment.
This, along with recommended stretches and exercises, will take the body to optimal health.
Healthy Body Composition
This is one of the best strength exercises for building general functional low body strength. The muscle groups that get worked include the:
Squats work almost every muscle in the legs. This also builds core strength to help with everyday movements like pushing, pulling, and lifting. There is no need to load added weight on the back to benefit from this exercise. Using the body’s weight is a perfect workout. This can be done with several variations once strength is built up. The objective is to focus on strict form for maximum effectiveness.
The feet should be shoulder-width apart.
Bend at the hips
Don’t let the knees go past the toes.
Lower the body until the thighs are parallel to the floor
American Chiropractic Association. Back Pain Facts and Statistics. Accessed 1/5/2021.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Arthritis. Accessed 1/5/2021.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Arthritis-Related Statistics. Accessed 1/5/2021.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders & Ergonomics. Accessed 1/5/2021.
Merck Manuals. Effects of Aging on the Musculoskeletal System. Accessed 1/5/2021.
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. Healthy Muscles Matter. Accessed 1/5/2021.
APT is short for anterior pelvic tilt. APT is when the pelvis tilts more down than forward, which can cause strain on the surrounding muscles and the spine to hold the torso up. The body’s own anatomical structure causing the condition and/or part of a bad habit that an individual has grown accustomed to. This can be from injury/s, back, and/or hip pain causing an individual to take on awkward postures to compensate for the discomfort and try and avoid it. However, these unhealthy postures cause their own set of musculoskeletal problems. Addressing this form of poor posture can help reduce and alleviate low back and hip pain and prevent further injuries. Chiropractic can pinpoint an anterior pelvic tilt and fix it.
Anterior Pelvic Tilt
What happens is the pelvis becomes tilted or rotated forward. Place the hands, specifically the fingertips, on the hips. There are bone ridges. These are the iliac crests. If they’re facing more toward the ground than directly forward, this could be an anterior pelvic tilt. It usually happens when the hip flexors become tight and pull the pelvis down. Another contributor is the glute and hamstring muscles have weakened and are not strong enough to counteract the forward pulling. This can be caused by sitting for long periods, poor posture, and for women who wear high heels regularly. These contribute to tightening the hip flexors and the glutes, hamstrings, and core muscles.
An anterior pelvic tilt causes an increase in the curve of the lower back. It can feel like the hip flexors are tightening up. It typically affects the lower back at the lowest two levels, which are L4-5 and L5-S1. There can be long-term issues if an anterior pelvic tilt is left untreated. The spine becomes more vulnerable to disc issues that can include:
An anterior pelvic tilt is a repairable condition. Several exercises can help loosen/relax the hip flexors and strengthen the core and posterior muscle chain. This in addition to walking and reducing wearing high heels regularly. A few exercises for anterior pelvic tilt.
The Tail Tuck
This is literally trying to tilt the tailbone forward, like tucking in an imaginary tail. This can be done for 10-12 reps and up to 3 times.
Core-strengthening exercises can help with all types of back and hip problems. If possible, do the exercises in front of a mirror to ensure no arching of the back or the butt sticking out. If it is too difficult on the hands, go to the elbows. If there are wrist or shoulder issues, planks can be done on a raised surface, like a table or couch. Hold as long as possible, maintaining proper form. Start with 10-30 seconds and build up to minutes.
Strengthening the Glutes
It is recommended to strengthen the glute muscles. This can be done with exercises like clams or side-stepping with resistance bands. For clams, lie on the side and raise each leg up and down 10-12 times, up to 3 sets. For side-stepping, place resistance bands around the ankle/shin area and step to the side for 8-10 steps. Then go the other direction for the same number of steps. Repeat up to 3 sets.
Hip Flexor Stretch
Lunge forward while standing or lunge and kneel with the other leg on the ground. Then move the torso back a little and engage the core to stretch the hip flexors in the front of the thigh/pelvis area. Hold for 30 seconds, then release. Repeat 3-5 times per leg.
These exercises can help, but if there is no progress around a month, contact a qualified chiropractor or physical therapist for further instruction and supervision. Also, if any neurological symptoms present like:
See a doctor as soon as possible.
Fixing posture-related problems require individuals to learn to be posture aware along with making some lifestyle adjustments. One way to do these exercises is to tack them onto a workout. Also, set reminders on a calendar to get up, stretch, and move around if sitting most of the day.
Body Composition Health
Difference between Processed sugar and Natural sugar
There are different types of sugar. There are natural sugars that are found in:
All sugar is broken down into glucose. However, foods that contain natural sugar are also rich in nutrients, including:
All which the body requires for optimal health.
Natural sugar does not lead to excess sugar intake; it happens with processed sugar. Processed sugar is extracted from sugarcane or sugar beet and is normally found as sucrose. This is present in cakes, cookies, cereal, and beverages. Processed sugar is also hidden in foods that are not sweet, like:
Foods that contain processed sugar are an energy source, but they contain little or no nutrients and can cause blood sugar levels to spike. In addition, consuming too much sugar is linked to an increased risk of:
Research has found that added sugar contributes to around 17% of the total calorie intake for adults. The recommended daily amount of calories from added sugar is 10%.
Azaïs-Braesco, Véronique et al. “A review of total & added sugar intakes and dietary sources in Europe.” Nutrition journal vol. 16,1 6. 21 Jan. 2017, doi:10.1186/s12937-016-0225-2
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (May 2020) “Acute Low Back Pain” https://www.cdc.gov/acute-pain/low-back-pain/index.html
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. (March 2020) “Low Back Pain Fact Sheet” https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/Patient-Caregiver-Education/Fact-Sheets/Low-Back-Pain-Fact-Sheet
Orlando Health. (2019) “Bad Posture Often to Blame for Chronic Pain and Health Issues, But Survey Finds Too Few Americans Are Concerned” https://www.orlandohealth.com/content-hub/bad-posture-often-to-blame-for-chronic-pain-and-health-issues
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