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Do Spinal Curves In Your Neck, Mid Back and Lower Back Affect Your Health?

Chiropractic was founded in 1895 after the hearing was restored in a patient following a spinal adjustment to the upper region of the spine.

Since then, our profession has been conducting research to help determine why spinal manipulation or adjustments work so well.

Many conditions have been studied, as well as the physiological responses to the adjustment including blood chemistry changes including hormone levels, blood pressure changes, circulation changes, and many other parameters of health.

Posture, bone alignment and spinal curves have been long been evaluated in patients presenting with muscle and joint complaints by most of the health care professions, including chiropractic.

But the question remains: how important are spinal curves in the overall health picture of the patient? Can alterations in the “normal” curve lead to future trouble or, be the cause of a current condition?

A recent study reported the results after conducting a “systematic critical literature review” where all research published on this subject was reviewed for quality and content.

They gathered 54 studies published between 1942 and 2008, which included over 20,000 patients and reported the association between the sagittal curve (curves when looking at a person from the side) and various health conditions.

There were many different types of studies and methods used to evaluate the sagittal curves of the lumbar (low back) (38 studies), thoracic (mid back) (34 studies) and cervical (neck) (6 studies) spine.

These methods included plain x-ray (25 studies), MRI (1 study), photographs (3 studies) visual analysis or, by the eye (5 studies) and those using a variety of instruments (21 studies).

A strong association was reported in five studies with an increased angle in the midback/thoracic spine (kyphosis – sometimes referred to as “humpback”) with lung disorders causing breathing problems.

Poor physical function and pelvic organ prolapse were also strongly associated with kyphosis.

A moderate association was found when the low back curve (lordosis) was reduced, which was associated with an increase in low back pain.

Similarly, future osteoporotic midback/thoracic compression fractures were moderately associated with kyphosis or “humpback” deformity.

Kyphosis was also moderately associated with heavy household activity, uterine prolapsed and death in three other studies.

No association was found in many studies.

The conclusion of the article reports most of the studies did not fulfill the basic requirements for this type of study or had design flaws.

They encouraged researchers to use new/better approaches to study this association between spinal curves and health and disease.

From In Good Hands Magazine. 

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The Many Functions of Your Nervous System

Every movement, smell, taste, touch, sound, thought, and dream has its origin in the nervous system.

Every function of your body, both voluntarily and involuntarily is controlled, at least in part, by your nervous system.

To better understand how the nervous system works, it is necessary to discuss what makes up the nervous system.

The Nervous system is made up of two primary systems – the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system.

The central nervous system (CNS) is made of the brain and spinal cord, while the peripheral nervous system (PNS) is comprised of nerves such as those in our arms, legs, and torso that deliver information back to the CNS for processing.

Many of the functions of the PNS are voluntary – that is, we can control actons like reaching for plate, swinging a golf club, or swimming.

Other actions are involuntary like the beating of the heart, breathing rates during exercise, digesting food, regulating our blood sugar, metabolism, and so on.

Many of the automatic involuntary functions are controlled by a subcategory of the PNS called the autonomic nervous system (ANS) which has two components: the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems.

There is always activity in the sympathetic nervous system operating at a basal level called “sympathetic tone” and its activity increases at times of stress (producing a “fight-or-flight” response).

The parasympathetic nervous system basically does the opposite of the sympathetic nervous system.

When the heart rate increases (sympathetic response), the parasympathetic nervous system slows it down. Just as the “fight-or-flight” response relates to the sympathetic NS, a “rest and digest” function describes the parasympathetic NS.

Hence, the autonomic nervous system (ANS) is made up of nerves that innervate cardiac muscle, smooth muscle, and glandular tissue.

From a functional perspective, think of the nervous system as a highway with information being transmitted to and from different locations.

The roads or pathways bring information to the CNS (brain/spinal cord) and are called sensory nerves (afferent).

Consider what happens when you touch a hot stove…

In this example, your hand is quickly pulled away from the stove. To accomplish this, there are nerve fibers that connect or bridge between the afferent (sensory) and efferent (motor) nerves called interneurons.

To break this down even further, under a microscope, the space or junction between two neurons/nerves is called a synapse, which is a very narrow gap where chemicals called neurotransmitters allow an impulse to pass through the gap so an impulse can travel onto another “road” (nerve) to bring information to and from the CNS. Therefore, each synapse is like a ferry boat (chemicals) carrying a car (the impulse) across the gap to the next road in route to the brain and/or spinal cord. This gets further complicated as there are many different chemicals (“ferry boats”) called neurotransmitters that result in different types of responses. These responses are broadly classified into either those that excite or inhibit and result in an action that is incredibly fast, which is often needed to avoid injury or death. The example of touching the stove clearly describes the quick reaction that results from the combined chemical and electrical signaling that takes place. If these chemicals get out of balance, different reactions can occur and many of the medications used in treating depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and other psychological conditions exert their effects directly on these neurotransmitters (such as serotonin).

So as you can see, the nervous system is very complex and yet, very balanced allowing us to function and perform in an automatic, coordinated way, so most of the time, we don’t have to think about what we are doing to a point of exhaustion.

Many things can negatively affect the functions of the nervous system such as trauma/injury, lack of sleep, stress, chemical abuse (alcohol, cocaine, heroin, etc.), and diet.

Chiropractic focuses much attention on balancing these functions through adjustments of the spine, which has both local and more distant effects through “somatovisceral” and “somatic” responses, thus affecting both voluntary and involuntary functions.

Management of sleep, stress, diet, exercise, and other aspects of life are important in maintaining a healthy lifestyle and quality of life.

Much of this information was obtained from In Good Hands Magazine and the following URL (check it out!): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nervous_system#Nervous_system_in_humans. This site includes many pictures of the CNS and PNS as well as a description of all the components that make up the nervous system.

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Patient Satisfaction with Boise Chiropractic Care

At a time where patients are constantly being forced to go to different health care providers each year due to their prior doctor “…not being on the list,” are patients truly satisfied with the care/treatment they receive?

If so, what exactly are the reasons and factors that drive patient satisfaction with Chiropractic?

The process of measuring patient satisfaction can be viewed from several different angles.

One study looked at the improvement of the patient’s condition and only 57% of the satisfaction score was based on improvement.

Because the concept of measuring satisfaction is multifactorial, more important methods of measuring patient satisfaction had to be considered.

A recent study did just this – they measured parameters that included pain, disability (activity tolerance), satisfaction with information received, effectiveness of care, caring, and quality of care.

The information was obtained by two different interviewers with similar information received regardless if it was the doctor or a third party.

THE RESULTS SHOWED ALL PATIENTS REPORTED HIGH LEVELS OF SATISFACTION AND THOUGH THE CLINICAL OUTCOMES REGARDING PAIN AND DISABILITY WERE MOST IMPORTANT, THE INFORMATION RECEIVED THAT HELPED PATIENTS UNDERSTAND WHAT WAS WRONG WITH THEM, AND, WHAT COULD BE DONE (BY BOTH DOCTOR AND PATIENT) TO SPEED RECOVERY AND PREVENT FUTURE EPISODES WERE VERY IMPORTANT FACTORS IN THE OVERALL SATISFACTION SCORE.

Patients also wanted timely information so they were kept up-to-date with what was being done at various points in time during care.

The information had to be understandable and informative and explained in “layman’s terms” so that they “learned something” from the information received.

Caring included four questions:

  1. Does the doctor believe what the patient tells them?
  2. Does the doctor understand the patient’s concerns?
  3. Was the doctor comfortable dealing with the patient’s pain?
  4. Was the doctor concerned about the patient after they left the office?

The information gathered included treatment, doctor confidence, and prognosis (how long it might take to get better). Also, effectiveness was further divided into listening, knowledge, experience, and the use of an active management approach.

The conclusion of the study emphasizes the importance of using a mixed-method approach when examining patient satisfaction.

This includes quantitative “scores” from questionnaires as well as qualitative information about the encounter including information, caring, and effectiveness.

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Car Accident Injuries (Part II of III): Low Impact Accidents and Children

 

Can you be injured, seriously or otherwise, in an accident where speeds are under 10 miles per hour? For some perspective, people can run 10 mph with ease, with a top speed of around 25 mph for elite sprinters. So, can a 10 mph car accident really injure you? From 1994 to 1999 the Florida Dept. of Highway Safety recorded over 333,000 low-speed crashes (under 10 mph not involving bicycles or pedestrians reported by law enforcement agencies), and over 280,000 injuries. If that doesn’t surprise you then this will shock you: In all of those crashes the FDHS also recorded 1910 fatalities in those accidents. Those numbers apply directly to Boise people!

What’s really scary is how long pain can last after a seemingly gentle accident. One study found that 60% of the people had neck pain lasting longer than 3 months after injury. Another study performed by Folksam Research in Stockholm, Sweden found that velocity and long-term neck injury consequences do not correlate. This was confirmed by the Spine Research Institute of San Diego and the Center for Research into Automotive Safety and Health, Spring Valley, California.

Crash tests indicate a change of vehicle velocity of 2.5 mph may produce occupant symptoms. Vehicle damage may not occur until 8.7 mph. Occupant soft tissue and joint injuries resulting from low speed vehicle collisions respond positively to joint stimulation and alignment. That’s exactly what chiropractic care does!

What does this mean for you? If you’re in a car accident, no matter how gentle it seems to be or how injured you think you are, get checked out to see if you’ll benefit from some treatment. Left untreated these minor sprains, whiplash, and spinal joint injuries become huge problems! I’ve treated thousands of car accident victims over the last 15 years, many of them decades after the crash who are now experiencing sever pain, arthritis and degeneration which could all have been prevented by getting care immediately after the accident.

This is no different for children. Even more important to get them checked out and treated if necessary. They have years of development ahead of them that can, and will, be negatively affected by untreated damage from a car accident. If it takes a few days to get over the soreness from an accident for a child or an adult then you’ve got to get proper care to ensure your long-term health and developmental health of a child.

Why chiropractic vs. any other form of treatment? It’s simple. Chiropractic care is the only form of spinal treatment that focuses on what really matters: health and safety of the spinal cord and nerves, and healthy spinal movement (biomechanincs). Other forms of treatment may manipulate the joints or work on the muscles only which chiropractic care often includes. Only chiropractic uses specific analysis to determine if there is nerve pressure and then adjusts the spine to improve nerve function. This is the core difference between a chiropractic adjustment and any manipulation.

I use specific and high tech analysis, like x-ray, nerve reflex testing, digital range of motion, etc., to determine how much damage the accident caused, where the damage is and exactly the course of care you’ll need to feel better and prevent long term suffering years down the road. Don’t wait, it’s never too late to slow or stop damage from progressing!

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Chiropractic Treatment in Boise: The Power of Touch

This week I want to share with you a fascinating article that was reviewed in a scientific publication, The Explorer. In two separate experiments at the University of Connecticut’s Medical Center, 98 mice were injected with 200,000 cells of Methylcholanthrene (which is a cancer causing toxin), double the defined lethal dosage.

These experimenters took a “healer”, who works by laying his hands on people, and had him use his talents on the mice. Not only did the tumors show regression on the mice the healer put his hands on, but further, other mice in the vicinity that also had tumors were helped, and he never physically touched them! What does this all mean?

Years ago, most serious scientists would denounce such findings or these types of experiments in general. Today, we see this type of research all the time, specifically in regards to chiropractic treatment right here in Boise, Idaho, home to one of chiropractic’s largest research centers. Historically, the human body was viewed as pure matter, a 
bag of bones if you will, and therefore all strategies for helping it were based on this incomplete view. In the last century however, with the rise of the study of quantum physics, these energies started becoming widely accepted. As a result, we started looking at the body and mind and the role of energy in health (like chiropractic treatment), healing, and the expression of life in general. We still, to a large degree, can only speculate as to why a person can lay his hands on someone and tumors can heal, but we do know it happens.

Chiropractic, as a profession, was way ahead of its time in this respect. Since 1895, chiropractic treatment has used the healing power of touch as a part of our procedure to promote healing. Chiropractic knew that the connection between the mind and body was the nervous system, and that in order for health to be fully expressed, the nervous system must be free of interference. In fact, as part of your assessment in my office I specifically measure the energy and adaptability of your nervous system to determine the chiropractic treatment needed.

This nerve energy communication process can be hampered by the negative stress of everyday living, and that is why chiropractic treatment from my office in Boise is so important. Together, utilizing this powerful mind and body connection, you and I help eliminate negative stress so that you can realize the best of your potential.

The moral of this story, don’t underestimate the healing power of 
 loving touch.

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