Thursday, August 11, 2011

Why being your own chiropractor is a bad idea

More often than I’d like, I’ve heard from patients who perform “self-adjustments”. In particular, they describe grabbing their own head or neck and performing a maneuver that gives them a bunch of “cracks” and makes them feel like they’ve done something good for themselves. The move that I see being performed is a “move everything and hope I get the right one at some point.” As a chiropractor, this is a bad idea and I’ll tell you why.
The list is long as to why self-adjusting is ill-advised. With the rise of webMD and other resources, people are taking their health care into their own hands. However, as this resource, and any doctor for that matter, will tell you: leave it to the experts. Likewise, adjustments may seem elementary, but the reality is they are anything but. Your chiropractor studied and practiced many years to learn the technique of effectively, and safely, performing spinal adjustments.
Each vertebra can move up to sixteen different directions. Do you know which way your vertebra has gone? That’s where the Chicago chiropractor comes in. They are trained to determine which way the bone has moved and how to move it back into the correct place. Some of the directions are extremely difficult to accomplish on your own. It’s just not specific and the person performing the “therapy” has no way of knowing which part of your spine needs to be adjusted.
Many times I’ve heard to defense: “If I can’t adjust myself, why does it feel better when I do it?” You’ll notice that when you do it, the good feeling doesn’t last long. That’s why you keep doing it over and over again during the day. You still get the endorphin release, among other benefits, so you’ll temporarily get an influx of pain relief that makes you think you’ve done something good for yourself. However, the pain and discomfort returns once the endorphins are gone and you’re back to where you started.
Finally, it’s important to realize the difference between “hypermoblile”, “hypomobile” and “isomobile” (or normal) joints. Hypermobile joints tend to move too well and slip and slide in and out of place. Hypomobile joints don’t move well enough, if at all, and sit in a “stuck” or fixated phase. Normal joints are, of course, moving as they should and is the goal we as chiropractors strive to achieve. More often than not, self-adjusters, who aren’t trained to identify the hypomobile joints, adjust the hypermobile ones. As a result, they become even more mobile. More slipping and sliding, you might say. What comes from that is a further “locking up” of the hypomobile joints and, more problems.
In summary, you cannot be your own chiropractor. I know it can seem like a simple thing, but chiropractors are the experts at finding the right area of your spine to be adjusted and then moving it back the right way. See the experts!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Chiropractic Treatment of the Shoulder

Many of today’s most-common aches and pains are related to the conditions in our work environment. The classic workstation posture of hunching over a desk and/or computer has created scores of patients with chronic and acute shoulder pain. Shoulder pain can be debilitating and solutions can be elusive. As a Chicago Chicago chiropractor, I can tell you that the suffering needn’t continue – there are solutions to your pain.

Chiropractors specialize in treatment of joint disorders so, naturally, aside from the back and neck pain which is our “bread and butter”, we routinely see issues with all joints of the body, including their associated structures (muscle, tendon, ligament, bursa, fascia). We have great success remedying sore shoulders, knees, ankles, thumbs, ribs and even TMJ (temporomandibular or “jaw” pain).

It is not uncommon for patients to present to my office complaining of shoulder pain. The most common shoulder injury is rotator cuff tendonitis. The rotator cuff muscles are four muscles around the shoulder which anchor and stabilize the shoulder and shoulder blade (collectively known as the shoulder complex). Of these rotator cuff muscles the infraspinatus, supraspinatus and teres minor muscles and the most commonly injured of all shoulder muscles. These muscles are the most susceptible to tendonitis injury. This is because, as shoulder stabilizers, they are always in use and so tension is developing in them every day. In addition, these are muscles that are rarely stretched through their full range so they tend to be too short.
Biceps tendonitis is another common shoulder injury that responds well to chiropractic care. The biceps is a muscle that is used daily to lift and carry. It is commonly injured because, being at full extension with a straight arm, it is very difficult to stretch. There is a technique for stretching the biceps muscle that involves anchoring the bicep muscle and then stretching it. This is best achieved with the help of a qualified chiropractor.
Tendonitis occurs when the muscle spasms or shortens through repetitive use and exerts such pull on the tendon that it strains the tendon. This is accompanied by inflammation and pain. This ailment is quite easily corrected with the use of chiropractic adjustments, muscle release techniques and tendon release techniques. Treatment of most tendonitis injuries lasts for four to six weeks.
Some people have the misfortune of suffering from a frozen shoulder (medically: adhesive capsulitis). This is a very painful and debilitating condition. It is characterized by either a long-term untreated shoulder injury like rotator cuff syndrome, or by several different shoulder injuries occurring simultaneously resulting in significant reduction of movement in the shoulder due to pain, weakness and stiffness. Treatment of this painful condition involves intensive massage, specific and targeted stretching and chiropractic adjustments.
Other common causes of shoulder injuries include referral of pain from neck or thoracic subluxations to the shoulder area, impingement syndromes in which a nerve(s) are “pinched” by some other anatomical structure (ie. in bursitis), rotator cuff tears in the elderly or young (associated with severe trauma and often dislocation), and osteoarthritis. All of the above conditions can be treated successfully with chiropractic care.
It is important to seek treatment from your Chicago chiropractor when dealing with shoulder pain. We can diagnose and remedy your condition quickly and conservatively at the root of the problem. This way, we can save you from unnecessary surgery or having to take medications which only mask your symptoms and increase the probability of a recurrence of your condition.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Back Pain and Pregnancy: What Can Be Done?

Back pain or discomfort is common during pregnancy and should be expected, to some degree, by most women. Back pain may be experienced during any point of your pregnancy; however, it most commonly occurs later in the pregnancy as the weight of the baby increases and “back sway” occurs. Back pain can disrupt your daily routine or interfere with a good night of sleep. The good news is there are steps you can take to manage the back pain that you experience.

Back pain during pregnancy is related to a number of factors. Some women begin to experience lower back pain with the onset of pregnancy.  Women who are most at risk for back pain are those who are overweight or had back pain prior to pregnancy. Possible causes include:
Change in hormonal levels – hormones released during pregnancy allow ligaments in the pelvic area to soften and the joints to become looser in preparation for the birthing process of your baby; this shift in joints and loosening of ligaments may affect the support your back normally experiences
Changes to center of gravity – your center of gravity will gradually move forward as your uterus and baby grow, which causes your posture to change
Additional weight – your developing pregnancy and baby create additional weight that your back must support
Added Stress – stress usually finds the weak spot in the body, and because of the changes in your pelvic area, you may experience an increase in back pain during stressful periods of your pregnancy

How can you prevent or minimize back pain during pregnancy?
Back pain may not be prevented completely, but there are things that you can do to reduce the severity or frequency. Here are a few steps you can take to help reduce the back pain you are experiencing:
  • Use exercises approved by your health care provider that support and help strengthen the back and abdomen
  • Squat to pick up something versus bending over
  • Avoid high heels and other shoes that do not provide adequate support
  • Avoid sleeping on your back
  • Wear a support belt under your lower abdomen
  • Make sure your back is aligned using a chiropractor Chicago 
  • Get plenty of rest. Elevating your feet is also good for your back
How can you treat back pain during pregnancy?
There are a number of things you can do to treat back pain during pregnancy. Some of the steps you take to avoid back pain may also be used to treat current back pain. Here are some other common interventions:
  • Ice or heat
  • Braces or support devices
  • Sleep on your left side and use a support pillow under your knees
  • Medications used to treat inflammation
  • Use a licensed health care professional such as a chiropractor or massage therapist
Once again, back pain during pregnancy is common and, to a degree, normal.  That said, it is not a prerequisite for pregnancy.  Following the tips above and visit your chiropractor in Chicago at The Chicago Body Works on occasion will help keep prenatal back pain at bay.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Symmetry and Spinal Health

On countless occasions, I've had patients come to me stating that they "don't feel straight".  In my line of work, as a chiropractor Chicago, this of course is a reference to their structural or spinal alignment.  Patients are acutely aware that something is "off" and need help a) confirming this, and b) rectifying it.  There are many reasons why your body may not be perfectly symmetrical such as leg length inequalities, structural abnormalities and/or muscular imbalances.  If you notice imbalances we can help. Using a combination of techniques we can assist in restoring your body back to balance.
Stand in front of the mirror and assess your symmetry. First, close your eyes and march on the spot for 2 or 3 seconds. Now stop marching, put your feet shoulder width apart and check the following:
1. Is your head shifted to one side?
2. Are your ears level? Can you see both ears equally?
3. Are your shoulders the same height?
4. Can you draw a straight line down from between your eyes, through the nose, center of your chin, sternum, belly button and down to between your feet?
5. Do your arms hang evenly at your sides? Is there equal space between your arms and body?
6. Do your knee caps face straight ahead?
7. Do your feet point ahead equally? Does one foot flare out more?
Of course there are natural asymmetries that are not significant but if you notice any imbalances from the above observations please check with us to see if it can be corrected. The more you are misaligned the more damage you are doing to your body. Just like a car with misaligned wheels, left unchecked for a long time it can lead to significant wear and tear. Be good to your body and it will return the favor.  And if you have any concerns over your alignment, visit your chiropractor in Chicago for a thorough evaluation and, if necessary, treatment to get you “realigned”.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Essential Nutrition for Healthy Lifestyles

There have been numerous breakthroughs in the study of nutritional supplements and natural herbs, and much research published indicating that their curative and regenerative effects on human beings. Doctors, scientists, Chicago chiropractors and health authorities are realizing the necessity for people of all ages to ensure adequate intake of these nutrients. Health requires all the body's building blocks to maintain optimal function and long life.
Certain supplements are considered essential for all people who consume a traditional North American diet. This is because our model of the "ideal" diet is off the mark. We, as a whole, consume too much red meat, too much saturated fat, too many processed or "fast" foods, too much sugar, and not enough fiber, vegetables, fruits, or essential fats. In fact, most of the diseases which are prevalent in our society, yet not in others, are related to our "unbalanced" diet.
• A good multivitamin and multi-mineral is essential. Total body health requires adequate antioxidants, vitamins and minerals which stimulate proper tissue growth and aid in the repair and maintenance of damaged cells in the body. Look for standardized products with high quality ingredients, proven effectiveness, and superior research behind them. One example are the products manufactured by Metagenics.
• Essential fatty acids (specifically Omega-3's) are sadly lacking in our diet. Absence of EFA's is largely responsible for increased risk of cancer, heart disease, high cholesterol, immune suppression and poor mental processing. Try fish oil (cold water, especially), borage oil, or flaxseed oil.
• Fiber is another dietary element found in low concentration in the diet of most Americans. Fiber helps food move through the digestive tract and assists the body in eliminating waste. Low fiber can result in constipation, reduced enzyme production, and build up of toxic bi-products of digestion. Increased fiber can reduce the risk of certain cancers, atherosclerosis, and digestive disturbances.
Much is spoken about supplements and nutriceuticals. It is my opinion that these are excellent resources for persons suffering from particular health conditions. For example, degenerative joint disease (AKA: osteoarthritis) benefits from the use of glucosamine sulfate and MSM (methyl sulfonyl methane), two essential products normally produced by the body, of whose production tends to wane as we age.
For the healthy patient not dealing with specific health conditions, the utilization of "functional foods" is preferred. Functional foods are typically whole, unprocessed, natural foods which have high nutrient value. An example is broccoli which is reasonably high in Vitamins A, C, the B series, and minerals (Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, and Zinc). In addition, being "cruciferous vegetables", broccoli has been shown to be a faily potent anti-cancer agent.
I hope this helps. Feel free to contact me with additional questions or to schedule an appointment at The Chicago Body Works at (773) 248-4229.
Yours in health,
Dr Halliday, Chicago chiropractor