Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

        Have you ever noticed one or both of your hands “going to sleep” on you, particularly at night? Do you ever wake up in the middle of the night because a portion of your hand feels like it has been turned into a pin cushion? Although we weren’t aware at the time, this is how my dad first started experiencing the signs and symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, also referred to as CTS. Because the pain grew so slowly, my family and I ignored it. We chalked it up to odd sleeping positions, mainly because he slept mostly on his right side (where his symptoms began), and the pain and tingling weren’t occurring every night. Not thinking anything of it, he simply tried to change how he slept to relieve the tingling, but the symptoms persisted. It wasn’t until years later that we realized he may be suffering from CTS.
            Now, my father is part of the generation that believes if he’s hurt or has trouble working, he would just rub a little dirt in it (not actually, but you catch my drift), and push through the pain. Because he works with his hands day in and out, he is constantly putting strain and repetitive motion in his wrist. This repetitive motion is so common among individuals that there is even a name for it, Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI). My dad’s work requires him to use tools in a repetitive motion; constantly rotating screw drivers, holding on to vibrating machinery, etc., which he has been doing since his teen years. Eventually, he reached the point where he realized that the way he slept wasn’t the problem. Both hands were going numb, he was waking up multiple times in one night, and wearing braces to keep his hand in an ergonomic position…but ultimately, it was when he had to “shake the feeling back” into his hands after driving for only an hour that he realized it was more serious. The more we learned, the clearer it became – my dad had been dealing with CTS for years without a diagnosis. A lot of the time when we think of CTS, we think of it being most common in those who work with their hands, or in labor intensive jobs. But recently, as our generation has become consumed by technology, more people have begun experiencing the same tingling and numbness that my dad experienced. Those who work more frequently with computers – editors, journalists, transcriptionists, etc., seem to be more prone to CTS. Think about it; you’re sitting at a desk, putting in hours of typing to complete a project, or even writing a blog for all your followers. This action is so miniscule that we don’t necessarily think about it, but can be harmful to your functionality.
 Since CTS is one of the most common workplace injuries, I don’t want this to go unnoticed for you like it did for my dad. So, let me give you some information about CTS and ways you can alleviate any numbness or tingling should you ever experience it. The Carpal tunnel is exactly what it sounds like - it is a tunnel formed by the carpal bones in the hand. The tunnel consists of tendons connected to surrounding muscles, and the median nerve, which controls feeling and movement in the first three fingers of the hand. When CTS occurs, it’s due to the median nerve being compressed because of swelling. Several factors can cause this swelling, ranging from a medical condition or pregnancy to repetitive labor, like in my dad’s case. Because of this swelling, the compression renders the median nerve unable to communicate with some of the surrounding muscles in the hand, ultimately causing the numb or tingling sensation that most experience in those three fingers. This compression can also cause weakness of the hand, which is a common symptom experienced by those with CTS.

Now, I’m sure you’re wondering what you can do to relieve the pain if you are experiencing this. Well, traditionally, we automatically think of the ER, going to the doctor for a consultation for surgery or even injections. These treatments are considered invasive and aggressive and are, unfortunately, the most commonly suggested treatments for this condition. However, there is some information that tends to be left out during the suggestion of these treatments. If you choose to receive injections, it means you’ll have to go back over time for more injections, because injections aren’t permanent – they’re temporary. So, this is not a one-time-fix. I want to emphasize that this isn’t treating the problem, it’s masking it.  It removes the pain, but the root of the problem is still there. Often, the symptoms return and are typically worse each time the injection wears off.
Surgery - another commonly recommended treatment. Surgery is meant to remove any irritation of the median nerve as it runs through the carpal tunnel. It consists of cutting the transverse carpal ligament, which crosses over and holds down the nerve and tendons running through the tunnel. While it does provide instant and short-term relief, we often see symptoms return as early as a few years later as the result of scar tissue buildup. Typically, patients choose to continue with more surgery, perpetuating this invasive cycle. As I do with most issues, I recommend a more natural and less invasive way to treat CTS.
Chiropractic is a non-invasive, alternative method to treating CTS, being endorsed by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and the University of Maryland Medical Center. When CTS is left untreated, permanent damage can occur, leaving part of the hand numb or permanently weakened. A chiropractor can help trace the path of the median nerve from the wrist, all the way through the elbow and shoulder, to the spinal cord where it originates.  This allows your chiropractor to pinpoint the origin of interference, remove it and allow the nerve to operate unhindered, beginning the process of healing. This isn’t an instant process; it does take some time for your body to rid these symptoms. However, in the long run – you will most likely be able to avoid surgery. Now, there are some cases where surgery is necessary, but I always recommend using it as your last resort, because there are many cases where surgery is completely avoidable. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, I encourage you to visit your chiropractor to learn more about what treatment will be best for you, above all else.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Chiropractic and Sports

Have you ever wondered how top athletes can perform at such a high level over the span of their career? A lot of this ability comes from training, dedication, nutrition and what the athletes do with their body. Most athletes are so in tune with their bodies, they can tell you when something feels wrong or off. For them, they want to be performing at one hundred and twenty percent, one hundred percent of the time, especially before and during any physical performance. As the recognition of chiropractic continues to grow, it has become very prevalent in sports medicine, and is often recognized as an important part in the routines of professional athletes. You don’t have to be a professional athlete to find benefits through chiropractic care – athletes at any level, even recreationally, will benefit from regular chiropractic care.

            Many sports require our bodies to be in high demand and to perform at an optimal level. Any fault or irritation of the nervous system, which happens often in contact sports, can result in a decrease of the ability to operate at one hundred percent. These faults or irritations may not even be noticeable at first, but they’re present and most likely affecting the athlete’s performance. If the issues aren’t addressed, then it is likely that more will present themselves, build on one another, and risk the athlete pushing it too far. For the athlete who spent day after day training, pouring their heart and soul into playing the game – this is their worst nightmare. If you’re an athlete and are reading this, you get it.

 Chiropractic helps reverse the stress placed on the body when playing sports. Many amateur and professional athletes have sworn by their chiropractor and the positive effects they have experienced through their care. These athletes have mentioned that they notice a difference in their awareness, strength, agility and flexibility. Tom Brady, Quarterback for the New England Patriots, has been on record saying “Chiropractic just makes you feel so much better. When I walk out of the clinic, I feel like I’m about three inches taller and everything’s in place. And as long as I see the chiropractor, I feel like I’m one step ahead of the game.” I know football has a lot of notoriety and is a high-contact sport - but chiropractic has made a name for itself in more leisure sports, such as golf, as well. One of the youngest winners of the Masters Tournament, Jordan Spieth, mentioned his chiropractor in his acceptance speech of the green jacket. Chiropractic is essential in keeping athletes across the board, all the way from football to golf, performing at their absolute best.

            Chiropractic, along with regular maintenance and preventative care (we’ll get to that later), helps greatly with injuries sustained from sports. As mentioned before, Chiropractic can help improve your mobility, flexibility and more, but it also helps to shorten the healing time of these athletes when they do become injured. Ask any athlete – after recovering from an injury, they’re more than eager to get back into the game and compete with their teammates. When an injury occurs, immediate chiropractic care can help to keep the nervous system free of irritation and regulate blood flow, allowing the body to coordinate the healing process faster and more efficiently. Many of these injuries come in the form of headaches, joint pains and sprains, so it doesn’t necessarily have to be a contact sport – it can just be a sport that puts unbalanced forces on the body, like golf and bowling to name a few.

            Chiropractic is also great in preventative care. When you’re performing at your best, you’ll notice that you can focus better and be more aware in every situation. Your coordination will be functioning at an optimal level, resulting in better form, better stress absorption, and better distribution of focus – just better everything. The power of the athlete is distributed safely, in a manner that doesn’t exceed what the athletes body can handle, which plays into the pain that is so often felt in athletes that they push through to continue playing. Pain is the body’s indicator that something isn’t working properly. Chiropractic is specially tuned to find any misalignments in the spine that are causing the body to malfunction, so to speak, and can return the body to a state of proper functionality; ultimately reducing the pain and helping the athlete to avoid a potential serious or career ending injury.

Do you play a sport? Any sport, at any level, is still a sport and holds the same risk of injury that we see in professional sports. Some could make the argument that those outside of professional sports can be at a higher risk of injury than those professionally. To be honest, the argument doesn’t matter – there is the same risk of injury simply just from playing the sport. Chiropractic care, utilized preventatively, reduces the risk of you getting injured and causing interruptions in your daily life – missing work, school, or special life events.  By keeping your body properly aligned and operating as the fine-tuned machine that it is, it lowers your risk of injury. If you do sustain an injury, Chiropractic will be there to help reverse the damage resulting from the injury. By seeing a Chiropractor, sooner rather than later, you will be back to doing what you love in a shorter amount of time than those who haven’t sought chiropractic care. Even if you are new to Chiropractic, you will notice a drastic decrease in recovery time from an injury compared to recovery without Chiropractic care. Chiropractic care is a safe, non-invasive and drug-free approach to providing relief to the body as a whole. It benefits in preventative care are astronomical in keeping the body performing and functioning at its optimal level.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Chiropractic Care For Kids

Every parent wants the best for their children. Today, we live in a society where there are so many do’s and don’ts in parenting that it’s hard to keep up, and easy to second guess yourself.  When it comes to a child’s health – our first reaction has always been to call our medical doctor…until recently.

Today, many parents are turning to Chiropractors for their children’s health and wellness. Times have changed – our society has moved away from the quick and easy remedy and toward more natural and less invasive treatments.  This is fueled by growing concern with the frequent use of antibiotics and prescription medication as treatment for every illness or condition.  Many people are finding that these quick and easy treatments cause more harm than good. They mask, they don’t fix. They cover up, they don’t correct.

Chiropractic is rooted in the idea that true health comes from within and generates outward. As B.J. Palmer, the son of the founding father of Chiropractic stated, “The power that made the body, HEALS the body. It happens no other way.”  In the beginning months of a child’s development, we have an amazing opportunity to set our children up to lead a healthy life, one that is mostly free from nerve interference and irritation – a crucial aspect of health and wellness.  The nervous system regulates and controls every organ, organ-system and cell that the body is composed of.  By keeping this system free of nerve interference, which Chiropractors refer to as a “subluxation”, the child can properly develop with every essential that is required for good health.

Most people don’t know much about Chiropractic care and the benefits it provides. Chiropractors are specially trained and licensed to address these areas of nerve interference, and when these subluxations are not addressed, the results can cause a range of health complications. These complications are ones that many parents in previous generations weren’t aware could be caused by nerve interference. Colic, eating and sleeping disturbances, digestive and attention issues, etc. can all be traced back to nerve irritation during the development of children.  Chiropractic care can help regulate these issues in children.

Even if you’re not a parent, chances are you’ve crossed paths with a child before. We all know how rambunctious and wild they can be, no matter what they’re doing – even just getting ready for bed.  Regular childhood activities such as youth sports, skating, riding a bike and even ones small yet significant, like climbing a tree, increase the chances the child will get hurt. You remember being a kid, right? It happens, its normal. These injuries, no matter how moderate or severe, can often result in a misalignment of the spine, resulting in that nerve interference. Not all injuries present themselves with immediate pain or symptoms, therefore can often go unnoticed for some time and ultimately complicate the injury or illness. Bringing children to their Chiropractor for regular check-ups can help to identify spinal misalignments, and by resolving these issues earlier in their development, the child can avoid other health complications as adults.

When treating the youth of our community, Chiropractors can help provide a strong platform to live a life of health and wellness.  As I mentioned before, every parent wants the best for their child – young or old, they never stop being your child. Chiropractic is natural, non-invasive, and beneficial at any age. It is a great way to promote a healthy lifestyle in the lives of your children and even your grandchildren. To learn more about how Chiropractic care can provide a positive influence in your child’s life, or even yours as you read this, I encourage you to do research at, ask questions, and call a Chiropractor.


Wednesday, February 1, 2017

The Benefits of a Healthy Lifestyle

5 Benefits of an Active Lifestyle

Most people tend to associate the gym and at-home exercise with a personal goal. Usually these goals include losing weight or building muscle. While it has been proven many times over that a nutritionally rich diet, in tandem with an exercise routine, will help you accomplish these goals – they’re not the only benefits. Incorporating exercise into your lifestyle or even just increasing your activity levels, the benefits reach far beyond these first two goals. It doesn’t matter which goal you’re working toward, the overall benefits of an active lifestyle are well worth the effort you put in, I promise. If you are afraid that increasing your exercise level could result in an injury, don’t sweat it. Even just a light walk or moderate aerobic activity is a great way to begin your new active lifestyle. The best part of all this, is that once this increase in exercise becomes a habit, a lifestyle – you’ll start to notice the short and long-term advantages it brings to your life.
Now I want to be clear – this doesn’t mean you can’t indulge in your favorite show, relax on the couch or play your favorite game. This is about finding balance. Some would even say that exercise has led them to a more balanced lifestyle and helped them to enjoy and appreciate the things they love to indulge in even more. Don’t feel like going to the gym means you should necessarily see results – go to the gym to feel better. Go to the gym with the big picture in mind – living a long, happy and fulfilling life. The goal is your overall health. Here are a few benefits to leading an active lifestyle…

1)    Reduce your risk of heart disease. In the U.S., heart disease is the leading cause of death, tragically claiming hundreds of thousands of lives each year. But by following the guidelines set forth by the Center for Disease Control, which is 150 minutes per week of moderate-intense aerobic activity, such as walking, can decrease your risk of this disease. When you break it down - 150 minutes per week is only about 20 minutes each day. And if you choose to increase the amount of time you stay active, you can even decrease your blood pressure and help regulate cholesterol levels.
2)    Reduce your risk of Diabetes Type II. By increasing your activity levels, of course you’ll be bound to lose a few pounds, but you’ll also notice a positive change in your blood sugar levels. Physical activity, even moderately, helps to boost your body’s sensitivity to insulin, which helps control blood sugar levels. Incorporating exercise in your daily routine will help you avoid potential complications that are associated with Diabetes, including but not limited to, kidney issues, eye problems and nerve damage.
3)    Reduce your stress levels. Stress - I know we all feel it. It comes in so many different forms, how can one not feel it?  It can present itself at work, at school, in your relationships, and everything in between. The good news, which I’m sure you’ve heard before - is that even minimal activity has been shown to increase the brain’s production of endorphins. Endorphins are chemicals that help reduce stress levels, elevate your mood and increase your quality of sleep.  Stress effects everyone differently, and you should be aware of how your body is affected by it. As mentioned before, most people associate working out with losing weight and being fit, but the benefits don’t stop there. Leading an active lifestyle is one of the most important aspects of your mental health and can bring you a great deal of clarity and ultimately, help you react more positively to stressful situations.
4)    Increase your immune system. Regular activity is one of the best ways to improve your immune system. When the immune system is boosted, you will be less likely to succumb to those pesky and persistent illnesses, such as the common cold and the flu. Think of how much more productive you will be at work and at home when you don’t have to fight these illnesses off. The immune system is crucial in preventative care – putting you one step ahead of illness.
5)    Improve your daily activities. Your daily activities can range from climbing the stairs in your home or at work, to playing with your children or grandchildren. Leading an active lifestyle places you at a lower risk of having a functional limitation, especially at an older age. Daily physical activity is great not only for muscles, but for bones, joints and coordination. Stronger bones mean less fractures at an older age. Stronger joints mean you will get to experience more by not being limited by lack of stability. Finally, better coordination means less risk of falling, causing a fracture in the bone or damaging a joint.

The benefits of an active lifestyle are out there for anyone to have. It’s not selective, its inclusive. It doesn’t matter one’s race, ethnicity, gender or age - anyone and everyone can improve their quality of life by incorporating exercise into their lifestyle. To me, leading an active lifestyle is a small price to pay to set out for a long, happy and healthy life. A life full of family and friends, and without any limitations.  In life, it is all about balance. Indulge, have fun, be lazy sometimes – but be active, be productive – it will benefit you every day.