Working from Home is Causing More Back Pain

Digital technology has impacted every industry through the last few decades. With communication abilities and opportunities driven by laptops and home computers, as late as 2016 43% of the workforce worked from home some of the time. As trends continue and goals are met that number will increase. 30% of the workforce will begin to work multiple days at home in a week.

With the current pandemic challenges forcing many office workers home those numbers are skyrocketing. With these work from home scenarios comes the introduction of unwanted back pain. Strain and pain from sitting on a computer for hours on end in a less than ergonomically encouraged position. As employers deal with new challenges every day thrown at them by the pandemic, they are seeing cost savings. This only suggests that working from home will impact many office workers post pandemic. One statistic claims that a typical employer can save about $11,000 a year for every employee that works remotely 50% of the time.

Picture someone sitting in the bathtub, lounging in a hammock, on the couch, in the recliner or on a barstool. Work from home ergonomics are being challenged as entire families are struggling to share space at home. Not every chair is designed and constructed the same. A table and chair may catch your eye because of a striking color but be terrible for your spine and your posture. Too often we find ourselves saving a dollar at a wholesaler to end up in the doctor’s office dealing with back pains.

Let’s identify ergonomics and the implications in setting up a correct workspace at home. Then we’ll go through and encourage some daily tips that will help your posture and ward off back pain issues.

  1. The desk or work surface. You’re at home desk, whatever it might be, needs to have your keyboard and mouse at the height of your elbows. If you can’t adjust the height of the desk, then adjust the height of your chair.
  2. Since laptops continue to be the popular option, they are not the best ergonomically. It is best to have the top of the monitor slightly below your eye level. If you are on a laptop, consider hooking up a second monitor for this reason. Or, if you use the laptop monitor than consider a remote keyboard.
  3. The placement of your mouse should be near the keyboard with overextending your arm.
  4. Sit Pretty! Sitting properly begins with your feet flat on the floor. Your thighs are then parallel to the floor. Keep your chest out pinching your shoulder blades together to relieve scapula pain.
  5. Consider a standing desk option. Alternating from sitting to standing is terrific and healthy option. You must also stand straight with a neutral spine to make this option beneficial.

While working from home create the habit of getting up once an hour and take a few minutes to perform these six stretches from the Mayo Clinic.

  1. A standing hamstring stretch for 30 seconds on each leg.
  2. A shoulder stretch for 30 seconds with each arm.
  3. A standing thigh stretch for 30 seconds for each leg.
  4. A lower back stretch for 30 seconds bringing up each leg.
  5. A neck stretch, turning your head each direction for 30 seconds.
  6. A calf stretch, 30 seconds on each leg as you press against a wall.

Working from home is here to stay. Exercise common sense in your workspace and take care of your body as you spend hours on your computer. By doing these simple things you can avoid unnecessary back pain.

Neck Pain as Related to Cell Phone Usage

Two major changes have occurred to our society and our workplace over the last few decades. The number of people sitting at desks has increased as well as the numbers for cell phone owners. With these increases comes the unnecessary and unwanted addition of neck and upper back pain.

Here are some alarming numbers that support those statements.

  1. First, the average amount of time spent on a cell phone today is 2 hours and 51 minutes.
  2. 58% of smartphone users cannot make it 1 hour without checking into their phone.
  3. 150 times a day. That is the average of how many times the phone is unlocked a day.
  4. 66% of smart phone users are addicted to their phone.
  5. 71% of users usually sleep with their phone.
  6. 40% check their phone in the middle of the night.
  7. 75% of Americans use their cell phones while using the toilet.
  8. During the current COVID-19 pandemic the smart phone usage has increased 57%.

Saving the best statistic for last; we laugh on the average of 15 times a day, but we average touching our phones over 2,600 times a day! So, the case has been proven we use our phones a lot causing a corresponding increase in neck pain.

Let’s look at some suggestions in how to look at your mobile device to relieve the strain on the neck muscles.

  1. Look Forward First– Try to bring the cell phone UP to your eye level. This small change will minimize the bend in your neck and improve your spine posture.
  2. Move your Eyes, not your Neck– If your smart phone is below your eye level do your absolute best to shift your eyes, to lower your gaze, to the screen rather than dropping your chin.
  3. Take Frequent Breaks– Many micro breaks to move and stretch your neck and back. Do NOT use your device over 20 minutes.
  4. Consider a Phone Call– If possible, dial the recipient of the text versus texting.
  5. Check your Posture– Make your best effort to maintain a curve in your lower back which sitting and using your cell phone. If possible, try to use a supportive chair with arms to rest your arms on. When on the phone, avoid cradling the phone between your ear and shoulder.
  6. Stretching– Try tucking your chin on a regular basis and hold there for several seconds and repeat several times. Then try pulling your shoulder blades together thrusting your chest out. This scapular retraction loosens the back as well.

When you bend your head to text or browse you are dramatically increasing the stress on the cervical spine. This position is not natural and will undoubtedly lead to irregular stresses on your spine and the surrounding soft tissues.

If you have neck pain it is self-induced. Consider your cell phone usage and your posture. Start today by introducing a new habit around your relationship with your phone. Consider this; SMART, make your change Specific, make it Measurable, there is a Reward in you sticking with it and your progress will be Trackable.

Chiropractic Care an Essential Service

During the COVID-19 pandemic, health officials in Illinois, and around the country, have been frantically trying to “flatten the curve” and reduce the spread of infection by closing businesses deemed non-essential.  While the determination of whether a service or business is deemed essential varies by state, it is widely agreed upon around the country that specific recreational businesses, such as spas, gyms, sporting venues, and shopping malls, are not considered necessary.

When looking at the listing of businesses and services considered unnecessary, people may wonder why it is chiropractors are categorized as essential.  But given the prevalence of musculoskeletal pain and the need to keep sufferers segregated from potential COVID-19 cases, it becomes clear that it is essential to have a designated facility specifically for chiropractic care.  According to Dr. Robert Kuyper, a Doctor of Chiropractic at Alternative Health Care Center of the Black Hills, chiropractic care is helping to flatten the curve against COVID-19 and is vital in the healthcare system.  “We don’t want people with musculoskeletal complaints going to urgent care centers or hospitals and mixing a healthy population with a sick one,” said Dr. Kuyper.  By having separate, stand alone facilities dedicated to chiropractic care for musculoskeletal complaints, urgent care centers and hospitals are better able to focus on treating COVID-19 patients.

Chiropractic facilities in Illinois, have been doing everything possible to keep their clinics safe and clean for patients by following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Illinois Chiropractic Society, and Illinois Department of Public Health guidelines and recommendations.  In addition to regularly cleaning and disinfecting facilities, chiropractic staff are wearing masks, washing hands after working on patients, and practicing social distancing by ensuring that seats in waiting rooms are spaced at least six feet apart.  Many chiropractic clinics are also checking the temperature of all incoming patients to monitor for fevers.  To prevent spread of the virus, any patient with an elevated temperature is either being sent home or to a facility for COVID-19 screening/testing.

Not only has the COVID-19 outbreak been a tremendous stress on people individually, it has overwhelmed many hospitals and healthcare facilities.  At the same time, the number of patients needing chiropractic services has not waned.  When considering the additional precautions undertaken by Illinois chiropractic facilities and the need for care, it becomes easy to see why chiropractors are considered essential.

Chiropractic Care for Migraine Relief

While people frequently joke about things being “a pain in the neck”, the reality is that few things can rival the discomfort associated with a persistent, throbbing headache.  Millions of people are affected by headaches each year so chances are you or someone you know, has been plagued by one.  One of the most severe forms of headaches are known as migraines.  Characterized by a severely painful headache that persists for hours or even days, migraines are also frequently accompanied by nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light, and tingling in the extremities.  In over 90% of cases, those suffering from a migraine are unable to work or function as they normally would.

There are several factors that contribute to migraines and most migraine sufferers have headaches and related symptoms on a regular basis.  Patients frequently describe the onset of a migraine as feeling as though their head is in a continually tightening vice.  Pressure continues to build from the base of the skull up to the back of the eyes making even the most basic tasks seem overwhelming.  Because migraine pain is so severe and persistent, life can be hopeless and agonizing for those that suffer from them.

Given the persistent and debilitating nature of migraines, those that suffer from the headaches often face difficult decisions regarding their long-term health and treatment.  The medical community commonly relies on administering powerful prescription drugs to combat the symptoms of migraines while ignoring long-term health issues, side effects, or treating the underlying source of the condition.  While the pharmaceutical drugs may temporarily relieve symptoms for a few hours, after a short reprieve, the pain is likely to return and be debilitating in nature.

Fortunately, there are non-pharmaceutical treatment options, such as chiropractic spinal adjustments, that can provide relief and hope to migraine suffers.  Because chiropractic adjustments can release tension, pressure, and stress from the spinal column and nervous system, people suffering from migraines should understand the benefits that can be achieved through manual spinal adjustments.  A 2015 study showed that patients who received manual cervical adjustments had an 80% reduction in drug consumption, 97% fewer days with a migraine per month, and a 100% decrease in pain and disability associated with migraines.

The extent and intensity of migraines are also dictated by factors such as stress, nutrition, hormones, and lifestyle factors.  The central nervous system is integral in connecting all of these factors as well as directing the control and functionality of the entire body.  Chiropractors address specific functional areas of the nervous system, help improve communication between the mind and body, and reduce stress throughout the central nervous system through appropriate spinal care and manual chiropractic adjustments.

Incorporating chiropractic adjustments into a person’s lifestyle can help address the cause of migraines but there are other lifestyle modifications that can help as well.  Staying well hydrated, getting more high-quality sleep, engaging in regular exercise, and removing dietary toxins, such as artificial colors, preservatives, and sweeteners, can also help mitigate the cause of the headaches.

 

Using CBD and Chiropractic to Treat Autism

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly one out of every 59 children is diagnosed with Autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The number of patients with this developmental disability has risen nearly three-fold in just 20 years and impacts boys at a rate of four times more than girls. Given the sharp rise in this disorder and the need to seek treatment as quickly as possible in order to reduce an individual’s difficulties while helping them acquire needed life skills, parents are left seeking new methods of treatment to combat their child’s condition.

Some of the most common treatments for ASD involve using prescription medications to mitigate the associated symptoms of anxiety, depression, aggression, self-abuse, irritability, and hyperactivity that many patients are challenged with. In other cases, children with ASD find benefit through therapies designed to teach communication skills, necessary life skills, and to help minimize the challenges they have as a result of the condition.

One of the more recent treatment options that research has shown to potentially help patients with ASD, combines the use of CBD (cannabidiol) and chiropractic procedures. CBD, a compound that is found naturally in the cannabis plant, is a safe, non-addictive substance that research shows may offer relief from anxiety, depression, inflammation, and chronic pain. While found in the cannabis plant, CBD does not have the psychoactive properties that produce the “high” that another compound in the plant, THC, provides. Coupled with chiropractic treatments designed to correct any existing subluxations and improve sensory processing in patients with ASD, CBD may offer benefits that traditional medicine cannot.

While research on the combination therapy is ongoing, early studies have shown that the treatments may offer improvement of autistic symptoms. One study from April 2018 showed that of the 60 children diagnosed with ASD that were treated with oral CBD, 61% said their behavioral outbreaks were “much improved” or “very much improved”. An additional benefit was that patients also reported lower stress or anxiety levels, improved sleep quality, and communication issues were reduced.

As mentioned previously, chiropractic care is often used in patients with ASD to improve sensory processing associated with any subluxations. Subluxations of the vertebrae, also known as misalignments or partial dislocations, are commonly corrected through chiropractic adjustments. By correcting these misalignments, ASD patients can achieve greater sensory processing which can help reduce some of the symptoms associated with the disorder. One study noted that patients receiving twice-weekly adjustments to their first or second cervical vertebrae reported behavioral improvements, a reduction in self-abuse, and improved language skills. Another study indicated that chiropractic treatments helped a 16-year-old male ASD patient eliminate frequent bowel accidents and think more clearly.

There is still much to learn regarding the effects of combining CBD and chiropractic for patients with ASD but the early data is promising. For patients that are seeking an alternative or supplement to traditional medication or therapies, the use of CBD and chiropractic treatments may offer them relief from the symptoms associated with the disorder. As with any treatment plan, patients should consult with their doctors to determine if the therapy is right for their situation.

Limiting Video Game Injuries

While going through childhood and adolescence, injuries from sports and physical activity are common. However, with the rising popularity of video games, children are now experiencing aches and pain more commonly associated with their adult counterparts who sit at desks all day. Parents can take an active role in ensuring their children stake steps to prevent pain and long-term damage associated with video gaming.

The primary health issue with video gaming that concerns chiropractors is the sedentary nature of sitting in front of a screen for hours at a time. While there are games that encourage movement (which can create injuries of their own), many games require minimal activity beyond clicking a mouse or button on a controller. Lack of movement can have damaging effects to the musculoskeletal system as joints essentially get much of their nutrition through movement. Gamers will often complain about strains of the eye, wrist, hand, arm, elbow, thumb, neck, back, and carpal tunnel syndrome after long gaming sessions. Poor posture during extended periods of gameplay can also physically alter the curvature of the spine leading to chronic, lifelong problems or pain.

Given that video gaming is only increasing in popularity, parents need to take steps to ensure their child does not suffer any ill effects. Fortunately, there are several options available to parents to combat any health-related issues from gaming. First, is moderation. Like most things in life, gaming in moderation is perfectly healthy and can be a healthy social outlet for children. Parents putting limitations on screen time will help establish good boundaries early on in childhood that will become understood once the child is a teenager. Gaming should be viewed a supplement to other activities, particularly physical, in order to offset the solitary, sedentary nature.

Another option to prevent video gaming related injury is to have the gaming environment as ergonomic as possible. Screens should be adjusted to eye-level so that necks are not strained up or down in order to see the picture. Chairs should be cushioned, have back support, and put the child in a neutral body position that does not place undue stress on muscles; strive to keep the body in alignment.

A third option is to encourage movement during gaming sessions. Simply taking periodic breaks to roll wrists, stretch legs, and rest eyes, are great ways to combat some of the sedentary effects of gaming. By encouraging frequent game breaks where the child takes their eyes off the screen, stands, stretches, moves around the room, etc. parents can help prevent injury. Movement can also be encouraged by incorporating games that require players to stand or actively move in order to play.

The final option for parents is to educate their child about the dangers of overdoing video gaming. Having an honest conversation with kids about the possible long-term effects of gaming can have a tremendous impact on helping them to adopt proper precautions. If possible, have this conversation and adopt these steps prior to introducing the game as it is much less likely that the child will moderate themselves.

Car Accidents, Injures & Chiropractic Care

Often times after a fender bender or being rear-ended folks jump out of the vehicle and shake off the fact that they don’t have any immediate injuries. Many people chose to walk away and do nothing after an auto accident because they don’t have any major damage or trauma to their bodies. There are a lot of other issues that can develop. Sometimes in hours, sometimes in days.

The First Adrenaline Rush

After having been involved in an accident your body reacts with an immediate adrenaline rush. This happens to all of us. The excitement of the event causes the heart to race which results in the body generating endorphins and adrenaline which can energize you and mask any pain. Once the accident victim has calmed down the pain might be more evident. Some people think the pain will just go away, others find the filing of a personal injury report intimidating and chose to avoid the process.

Different Types of Injuries

Car accidents generate a lot of force. Even slow rollers at low speeds. The driver and passengers can get thrown around, jerked back and forth, which is hard on the joints and all soft tissues. An umbrella term that covers most soft tissue injuries is that of whiplash. Most often this relates to damaged neck muscles resulting in pain and swelling. Whiplash symptoms can take days or even weeks to start showing and unfortunately soft tissue damage cannot be diagnosed by x-rays. You can consider seeing a chiropractor as a proactive or preventive measure in dealing with potential whiplash.

Concussions are another common injury from car accidents. The brain can strike the inside of the skull with a lot of force causing a concussion. Sometimes these are immediately evident and sometimes not so. The symptom can include dizziness, headaches, blurry vision, lack of energy, feeling sort of foggy, memory issues and unusual sleep patterns.

See a Doctor No Matter How You Feel

You only have one body and you should always make it your top priority. Having just experienced a life event like a car accident you should let a professional examine your body as soon as possible. Even if there are no immediate symptoms the examination is on record in the event that difficulties develop later. This will be advantageous in the event that the insurance company needs to become involved down the road.

Do Not Sign Anything without an Objective Review

The first call you might receive will be from the other driver’s insurance company. They will ask about your health and if you feel any pain. They will want you to legally disclose that you have no discomfort or injury so the liability will be shifted from them if any discomfort or pain appears at a later date. Even though this pain might be the result of this accident you have waived their responsibility by agreeing to sign the waiver. Wait on signing anything.

Seeing a chiropractor or a family physician will not only make common sense moving forward but the chiropractor might be able to do an adjustment or two to neutralize the stress you have just endured.

Chiropractic Science is SO much more than a Manual Adjustment

Even though spinal adjustments and manual manipulations do dominate the landscape of a chiropractor, this approach has been successful in dealing with arthritis, headaches, constipation, asthma, insomnia, multiple sclerosis, sciatica, ear infections and high blood pressure. Chiropractic care has prevented some invasive surgeries and has helped with childbirth.

The science of chiropractic was founded in 1895 by Daniel David Palmer. Palmer performed a chiropractic adjustment on a gentleman who was deaf in one ear and his hearing was restored. The word spread quickly about a new method of healing based on the nerves in the spine. Chiropractic science is based on the nervous system. It is an art, a science and a philosophy. The fundamental belief is that misalignments in the spine result in both pain and manifestations of health-related negative symptoms. Our body is one massive electrical system that communicates with neurotransmitters, chemicals, hormones and other messengers. Spinal realignments can make these elements easier to communicate to each other.

The art of chiropractic science starts with the doctor knowing the 55 established techniques in applying adjustments and treatment. Then there are specialties from there such as exercise medicine, pediatrics, functional neurology and wellness care. The beauty of the chiropractic approach is that it is drug-free. Years of studying and training is necessary to be a licensed and practicing chiropractic doctor. The foundation is anatomy and physiology, radiology, stress management, understanding nutrition and finally a holistic health approach to treatments. This requires four years of school in which extensive hands-on training is provided in learning the proper diagnosis and the appropriate treatments.

How does the spine actually become misaligned? Any kind of physical trauma like falling is an easy starting point. Taut and tight muscles can create spinal issues as can an unhealthy diet. Poor eating habits and bad diet choices can cause an inflammation that isn’t visible to the eye. Stress is a frequent contributor as is degeneration of the spine with aging. The discs in the spine will show wear and tear with time and become thinner also. With that having been said, you do not have to be aging for a chiropractic adjustment. Children, with much lighter manual pressure, can benefit from a chiropractic treatment. In fact, a well-adjusted child can fight off sickness better as well as being less susceptible to injuries.

A common patient for a chiropractic doctor is a professional athlete. They have proven that they have improvements in their athletic performance. This is from an increased range of motion and a heightened awareness of how their body moves. The latter, called proprioception, actually decreases injuries. Often times the immune system is improved with chiropractic adjustments increasing respiratory function. This art and philosophy of chiropractic science has been classified as an alternative medicine. The manual adjustments of the spine, joints and soft tissues may also include valuable and needed counseling on exercises, overall health and lifestyle choices. Back and neck pain are the leading candidates for chiropractic therapy with the highest level of quantifiable success.

There are NO Age Restrictions in Chiropractic Care

Chiropractic therapy is becoming a nice complimentary approach in dealing with young children, remembering to allow your pediatrician to be their primary physician. Think about the trauma a newborn goes through making their way through the birth canal. Pediatric chiropractic care is a gentle approach to realigning your infant’s spine after this trauma and allowing for improved digestion. Chiropractic care wouldn’t be your first choice if your infant has an ear infection, pneumonia, or strep throat but can aid in the prevention of these illnesses along with being proven beneficial in treating infants with colic. Colic, which is characterized by excessive crying, is often severe and fluctuating pain in the child’s abdomen caused by intestinal gas or an obstruction in the intestines. Soft spinal manipulations have resolved this condition quickly.

The Chiropractic profession is a discipline grounded in the general health of the nervous system. The primary focus is the spine with the massive amount of nerves found here. It is also an art and a philosophy based on a drug-free approach. Education consists an undergraduate degree followed by four years of studying anatomy and physiology as well as nutrition and radiology concluding in stress management and holistic health treatments. While in chiropractic school a chiropractic doctor will get extensive hands-on training learning proper diagnosis and the 55 established adjustment techniques. This training includes infants and children.

Most chiropractic doctors would recommend taking the infant or child to the primary physician first from a medical standpoint to see if the treatment is serious enough to come from that office. In fact, 17% of all chiropractic patients are under the age of 18 and of that 17% almost half are five years old or younger. Chiropractic care is growing in the field of pediatrics. It can become an essential part of the child’s overall wellness. Chiropractic adjustments call allow the child’s nervous system and spine to grow optimally without any interference.

The human body is a complex electrical system that communicates via chemical messengers, neurotransmitters and hormones to mention a few. Spinal realignments have reduced bed wetting, asthma and allergies. It can improve the immune system of the child as well as the digestive system. Limiting colic was mentioned earlier and it can also limit constipation. With optimal nervous system communication, it can even encourage brain development. A chiropractor performing an adjustment of a pediatric patient is aware of the fact that the spine is far more flexible with the cartilage and the growth plates. An adult high velocity, low amplitude thrusting adjustment will be replaced with just light thumb pressure. Gentle touches have a calming effect on the infant or child.

Chiropractic care is an alternative approach but in dealing with pediatric patients it is a valuable compliment. The philosophy may introduce other joint manipulation and soft tissues but also include the value of exercise and counseling for both health and lifestyle concerns. What better time to introduce the benefits of a good diet than in childhood? Or to make the child aware of stress and the negative health symptoms that come from the inability to handle stress.

The Worst Bag for your Posture, According to a Chiropractor

There are a variety of things used to transport personal items ranging from totes, to shoulder bags and purses. Many people who carry large amounts of items or heavy loads opt to use a rolling backpacks. Others may prefer a canvas messenger bag or tote. The method we use is often selected based on the latest fashion trends. According to chiropractors, we should be placing far more importance on the bags we use on a daily basis to transport our belongings.

Unfortunately, we are spending a significant amount of time hunched over our computers typing, eating at our desks, texting and many other things. The issue with this is that we are positioning our body in a forward motion which causes increased problems with our posture. These negative effects of our posture eventually lead to lower back and neck pain. When you use a bag that isn’t well balanced on your body, the pain is just emphasized. Having good posture means maintaining the natural curvatures in the spine and activating the necessary muscles to stay upright Even worse and compounding the issue, we are selecting the biggest bag possible and carrying around everything we might possibly need. For most of us who are not minimalists, our bags contain a laptop, charger, phone, lunch, hand sanitizer, wallet, cosmetics, water and anything else we might possibly need, Chiropractors warn that as the size of our bags increases, so does the problem with our posture. When we carry a heavy load over one shoulder, we tend to slouch to the dominant side to counteract the imbalance. The preferred method is to use a backpack with two straps to evenly distribute the weight.

Backpacks typically have a chest strap and a waist strap. But many of us opt to not use these additional straps as they can look tactical or don’t work well with our outfit. Though poor posture or chronic back pain is far worse than looking like you’re going for a hike, many of us fail to come to this conclusion on our own.

Due to the impact they have on posture and inability to evenly distribute weight, shoulder bags are the worst option and they are closely followed by a cross body bag. Anything that doesn’t allow for even weight distribution can lead to a muscle imbalance and your body will naturally try to compensate. This is why opting for a backpack or rolling bag is the best option.

Some people are unwilling to sacrifice when it comes to style and refuse to give up their shoulder or cross body bag. There are still ways to improve the impacts these options have on your posture. One way is to reduce the load you are carrying. Another suggestion is to take care of your body when you are not carrying a bag. Take the time to stretch, use a foam roller and participate in yoga or other gentle movement classes to help correct your posture. There are many different class options which can help people improve their alignment and balance. For some people, an online class may work well as they can easily fit it into a busy schedule and the classes be done from the comfort of their home.

Reaves Chiropractic