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 Yoga, Tai Chi, and Qigong to Treat Back Pain

Lower back pain is amongst the most common afflictions in adults and effects roughly 80% of Americans. Be it a strain from overuse, injury, or a misalignment of vertebrae, most patients will experience back pain at some point in their life. Patients suffering from back pain often find themselves unable to perform their normal routines which can lead to depression, disturbances in sleep, anxiety, and social isolation.

There are a number of treatment options available to combat the issue, but some patients may be wondering if they could find relief through the practices of yoga, tai chi, or qigong. In this article we will examine the three practices and discuss their efficacy in combating back pain.

Yoga is a group of mental, spiritual, and physical practices that originated in ancient India. While there are several different forms or varieties of yoga available, they all focus on creating harmony between the mind and body in order to improve health and happiness. The practice revolves around low-impact physical activities or postures combined with relaxation, breath control, diet, and meditation.

Originating in ancient China, Tai Chi and Qigong also focus on integration between the body and mind. Through controlled movements, meditation, and breathing techniques, tai chi and qigong aim to cultivate life energy, known as qi (pronounced “chi”), to achieve harmony between mind and body. The practices’ focus on tranquility and clear thought are believed to improve health and wellness.

While all three practices have similarities aimed at improving overall physical and mental wellbeing, questions remain regarding their effectiveness in combating back pain. A review of 32 case studies across the three practices indicate that movement-based interventions may be effective for the treatment of low back pain. Some practitioners reported reductions in pain, lower levels of depression and anxiety, as well as improved functional abilities.

Despite some positive conclusions from the case study reviews, there remains difficulty in drawing firm conclusions from the data currently available. One of the primary limitations is that the study was a narrative review. A narrative review generally collates information on a topic rather than providing any data analysis. Many of the studies lacked clear explanation of how the teams conducted the experiments which makes any reported results suspect. Some studies even showed adverse events that only further contributed to joint and back pain. Additionally, some of the case studies analyzed were relatively brief making any long-term effects difficult to ascertain.

Clearly, more thorough clinical trials and tangible evidence are needed in order for doctors to comfortably prescribe these interventions for lower back pain. Despite the significant doubt that remains regarding their overall efficacy, there is a psychological component to chronic lower back pain that could be improved by engaging in mind and body exercises associated with yoga, tai chi, and qigong. Future testing to address the brain and body connections that these practices stress, will be needed. As it stands now, we cannot say with a high degree of certainty if yoga, tai chi, or qigong are effective in relieving lower back pain.

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.

Non-Surgical Alternatives to Alleviate Knee Pain

There are numerous causes for chronic or degenerative knee pain be it an injury, arthritis, or old age. Patients may believe that surgery is their only option when it comes to finding long-term relief. While many patients find surgery beneficial, there are things that should be taken under advisement when deciding whether to undergo a surgical procedure. One important consideration is the recovery time involved with surgery as it will vary for each patient and could impact daily life and work activities. While infrequent in nature, infections can also occur with any surgical procedure which could lead to further necessary treatment and recovery. Additionally, surgery may not be able to fully alleviate an issue and patients can still experience underlying pain. Lastly, as healthcare premiums continue to increase, cost must be considered as surgery can be expensive.

Given all that must be considered with surgery, patients are often left looking for other non-surgical options to treat their knee pain. One option is working with a chiropractic acupuncturist. These practitioners use safe, natural treatments to alleviate pain and focus on therapies and lifestyle changes that will allow the patient to return to normal life without having to endure surgery. A chiropractor can help alleviate pain by manipulating, pressing on, or realigning surrounding painful joints whereas an acupuncturist inserts tiny needles into the skin around various pressure points or nerve centers. Some patients may find the reduced physical stress associated with acupuncture to be a good alternative to chiropractic treatments. Patients should note that for both acupuncture and chiropractic therapy, several treatment sessions may be needed before results are seen.

With the myriad reasons for knee pain, patients need a practitioner that is committed to understanding the full body system in order to identify the underlying cause of their pain and recommend treatment. Because our body systems are interconnected in nature, a chiropractic acupuncturist will use a complete physical evaluation and comprehensive laboratory testing to get a full picture of the patient’s overall health. With this whole-body focus, the practitioner can determine the underlying causes of pain rather than solely focusing on treating symptoms.

Beyond simply treating conditions, a chiropractic acupuncturist will also work to educate their patients on their health condition so that the patient is best equipped to make informed decisions regarding their health goals. Any lifestyle changes that could be beneficial to the patient, will also be communicated by the practitioner. These practitioners are a great option for patients seeking natural remedies to treat their pain rather than relying on the expensive medications and surgeries associated with traditional medicine.

For any patient that has been told they need surgery, injections, or medications to alleviate their knee pain, getting a second opinion from a chiropractic acupuncturist could be beneficial. While surgery may ultimately be the best course of treatment, the chiropractic acupuncturist will help you evaluate your health needs and provide the treatment and education needed to get you back to a pain free life.

Three Easy Floor Exercises to Help with Lower Back Pain

Two important concepts in a healthy lifestyle to consider are Balance and Moderation. In a sense they are synonymous with each other. If your diet is poorly managed and you don’t do exercise on a regular basis you are out of balance. If that diet is unhealthy and driven by packaged foods, fast foods or excessive sweets and sugars you are not exercising moderation.

The part of the core of the body that takes the brunt of this neglect, or abuse, is the back. In fact, eight out of 10 Americans will experience back pain in their lifetime. Lower back strength allows us to stand and lift objects. These muscles also support spinal function. They are important for your posture and to alleviate any lower back pain.

There are several exercises to strengthen the lower back muscles, but the following three are both simple and intelligent and also can be performed while you are having back discomfort. They can be easily done at home without a gym membership.

Bird Dog– The first exercise begins with you in the kneeling position with your hands on the floor directly below your shoulders. Now you begin by raising your right leg straight behind you, feeling like you are kicking your heel into a wall. Raise the opposite arm, the left in this case, and reach out as well as far as you can. Keep your core engages through the process. Do these ten times for each side and then repeat the set about four or five times. This floor exercise strengthens the abdominal muscles, your lower back muscles, your butt and your thighs.

Bent-Knee Hollow Hold– Now you are going to roll over on to your back. You want to concentrate on keeping your lower back flat towards the floor. No arching or space between the back and the ground. Raise both knees so they are not at 90 degrees but in front of your hips and let your legs bend at the knees, so your lower legs are parallel to the floor. Do not get the knees to 90 degrees or beyond or you will nullify the work being done by the abdominals. If you want to increase the challenge lift your arms up and reach your arms to the knees or parallel to the floor. Do this exercise five rounds holding those knees up for 20 to 30 seconds each time.

Side Plank– Finish your set of three exercises with the side plank. Chose a side to lay on, and then come up to your elbow or totally extending your arm. Now lift your hips off the floor. You want a nice straight line from your armpit to your knee and your ankle. This very simple exercise does marvelous things for your core as well as strengthening your wrists and shoulders. It can improve your balance and improve your concentration as well but most importantly it is the core work that we are focusing on to improve the back discomfort or pain. Do these for 10 to 20 seconds per side, four to five rounds total. As the exercise gets easier extend the duration of the hold.

Proper Sleep Habits Help Lower Back Pain Recovery

Sleep. Something that many Americans chase. Something that many of us dream of. To take a day off and just sleep all day. It is very intriguing that with something we spend a quarter to a third of our lives doing we know so little about. We also don’t take the necessary steps to improve our sleep patterns. Your body needs sleep just like it needs air and nutrition to function. During sleep your body heals itself and restores its chemical balance. Sleep deprivation can lead to a lower quality of life.

A lack of sleep affects your central nervous system. Sleep deprivation can leave your brain literally exhausted creating mental and emotional instability. It can prevent your immune system from building necessary forces to combat illness. It can upset your respiratory system and your digestive system. Your cardiovascular system is ay risk with the lack of sleep.

Sleep problems have been proven to inhibit successful lower back recovery allowing the pain or discomfort to persist. A huge study that took place over a 10-year span researching data from over 120,000 participants has proven that when they had chronic lower back pain and also had insomnia or regular sleeplessness that the musculoskeletal pain would not go away. This occurred no matter the age, the body mass, physical activity, educational level or even smoking. The constant factor was the lack of sleep. This study did exclude any individuals with anxiety or depression and anyone that was using a sedative or sleep medications. The connection between sleep deprivation and constant and reoccurring back pain is not totally understood. The suggestion is that poor sleep may increase inflammation in the body and therefore change how the brain processes the pain.

The chances for long term recovery are not good unless you address the lack of sleep. Most adults from the ages of 18 to 64 need on the average of seven to nine hours a night for adequate sleep. Some of the steps you can take to improve your sleep are to refrain from caffeine after noon. You should try your best to go to bed about the same time each night and wake each morning at around the same time. This also includes sticking with the sleep schedule during weekends and holidays. Avoid heavy meals two hours before bedtime and refrain from using electronic devices right before you go to bed. For some people relaxing activities before bedtime is advantageous; such as a bath, reading or meditating. Developing a regular exercise schedule has many benefits for your overall health, which includes sleeping.

Lower back pain can affect 80% of Americans at some point in their lifetime. Lower back pain can have many underlying reasons and often times not a specific cause. There are quite a few simple floor exercises that you can do at home that will help with lower back pain. It is also the second most common reason for a doctor’s visit right behind the common cold and also second to a headache for regular neurological complaints.

Exercise Common Sense While Shoveling Snow

That first snowfall every year is so beautiful. There is something about the quiet white blanket draped over trees, bushes and lawns that is just so peaceful. Then the months roll by and its just not fun anymore. Driveways and sidewalks must be cleared after snowfalls. This is when that pretty snow shows her evil face. Thousands of Americans find themselves in the Emergency Room every winter thanks to shoveling snow. A recent study had over 11,500 patients in the ER. Another recent study documented 1,647 Americans dying from this activity. It’s time to exercise some common sense before you charge outside to shovel.

Shoveling Snow is like Exercising at the Gym

Lifting a snow shovel and throwing snow can be likened to pushing around weights at the gym. As your heart rate increases in the cold it can be like running on a treadmill. Shoveling puts quite a demand on your cardiovascular system. If you have heart disease, hypertension, high cholesterol or other medical conditions you might want to consider having the snow moved professionally.

Physical Common-Sense Ideas

  • Eat Light- don’t consume heavy food before you head outside. This only adds stress to your heart.
  • Don’t Smoke- this can change your circulation.
  • Caffeinated Beverages- any caffeine can stimulate your heart rate and cause the constriction of your blood vessels.
  • Stay away from alcohol- this can trick you into thinking you are not cold or are not working as hard as you are.

Outerwear Suggestions

  • Layers- anytime you head outdoors consider dressing in layers.
  • Comfortable- wear clothing that is easy to move in when shoveling or pushing a snowblower.
  • Stocking cap- you lose a lot of body heat through your head.
  • COLD air- consider breathing through a scarf to warm up that icy air entering your body.
  • Boots- not only will this help keep your feet warm it will help with your footing.
  • Gloves- in fact, don’t hesitate to buy some mittens. Keep those fingers warm as they grip the shovel.

The Ergonomics behind a Snow Shovel

  • Smaller shovel-consider using a smaller shovel to lighten the load when it comes to either pushing or lifting the snow. This will be easier on your body.
  • Ergonomics-a curved handle might help you keep your back straighter reducing stress on your spine.
  • Plastic or metal- don’t you think a plastic blade might be lighter than metal? Research this before you buy, after all, the snow is heavy enough.

Know your Body

  • Push don’t lift-handling wet, heavy snow if very, very hard on your lower back.
  • Watch your footing-pay attention to the surface and how slippery it is. Falling contributes to those ER statistics.
  • Take breaks often- it doesn’t have to be done immediately. Take your time, listen to your body.
  • Know when something is wrong- STOP shoveling! If you have chest discomfort, shortness of breath, or any discomfort in your back, arms, neck, jaw or stomach it might be a sign of cardiac stress or even a heart attack. Stop and consider calling a medical professional immediately.

 

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.

Reaves Chiropractic