Daily in my interactions with my patients and in the Bellevue community I am asked one simple question over and over. That question is "How do I know if my friends or family need to be seeing a chiropractor?" It's a great question! I have developed 10 tests and questions that can determine if you need to be evaluated by a doctor of chiropractic.1. The Head Turn TestTry turning your head as far as you can to the left and to the right. The first thing that you want to look for is if either of these motions are painful at all. The second thing that you will want to look for in this test is if on one side or the other (either right or left) you can turn further than the other side. Normal range of motion (or being able to turn your head to the right and the left) is being able to turn your nose parallel with your shoulder. Is there pain on these movements or are any of them reduced?(YES) If there is any pain or if one side or the other is unable to turn as far as the other side this can be a possible sign that there is something wrong in the bones of the neck. From the time that we are born our necks go through a lot of abuse. From the actual birthing process, falling while learning how to walk, to the many injuries that we get through life, the neck is vulnerable to being injured. A Chiropractor would be able to diagnose exactly what the cause o f the pain is or what is causing the reduced range of motion in your neck. Many times when you experience pain or reduced range of motion in your neck this means that either the joints that connect the bones are stuck in place, or that the bones are out of alignment. These problems may lead to headaches, neck pain, shoulder pain, arm and hand pain, and many other more severe problems. Joints that are stuck and bones that are out of place are what chiropractors primarily treat on a daily basis. This is one big sign that you should be seeing a chiropractor.2. The Shoulder Pinch TestHave you ever had someone give you a back rub and felt that your shoulders were very sore? That soreness can be from dysfunction in the bones that those muscles are connected into. Try this...take your pointer finger and your thumb and gently pinch your trapezius muscle (this is your shoulder muscle). Is it sore? If so this may be due to referred pain (pain that comes from a problem somewhere else), or trigger points in the muscle.(YES) This may be due to referred pain (pain that comes from a problem somewhere else), or trigger points in the muscle. There are many times that muscle pain and soreness are due to areas of the spine that are out of place. Because the muscles hook into the bones, when the bones pull out of place they pull on the muscles and create dysfunction. Daily, as a chiropractor I find that when I correct the spinal problem the muscle problem goes away.3. The Stand on One Leg Test Get up out of your chair for the next test to see if you need to be seeing a Chiropractor. Standing up strait close both eyes. Now with your eyes closed try to stand on just one leg for as long as you can. No peaking! Not as easy as it sounds is it? Now try doing the same thing with the other foot. You should have no problem standing on one leg for 20-30 seconds. How did you do?(0-20 seconds)If you had a problem getting to 10 seconds let alone 30 this may be a sign that there is some dysfunction in the joints of your body. Each joint of the body from the tips of your toes to the top of your head has little sensors in them that are linked to the brain. These little sensors tell the brain where the body is at in gravity. Try this little activity to show these joint sensors in action. Close your eyes again...don't worry no more standing on one foot...extend your arm and index finger out to the side as far as you can, and with your eyes closed touch the tip of your nose (yes this is the drunk person test!). The fact that you were able to touch your nose and know where your arm was with your eyes closed shows that the sensors in your elbow and shoulder are working fine. The problem comes when the joints get injured. An injury to any joint of the body, but especially the joints in the low back, pelvis, and legs will disrupt the joint sensors ability to tell you were you are at with your eyes closed. So if you had a hard time standing on one leg for very long, it may mean that your joints are not working as well as they should be. When you go to the Chiropractor they will be able to diagnose the specific joints that are not working and make adjustments to those joints to restore function. Proper function in the joints means your brain can once again communicate with your body!(20-30 seconds) Wow, I am impressed! Amazingly enough many people have a hard time making it to 10 seconds let alone 30! When the joints of the body can not tell the brain where they are at, imbalance occurs. This miscommunication most commonly occurs when the joints are damaged (like a sprained ankle), or if they are in dysfunction (because they are out of place, or stuck in place). Chiropractors help joints heal and work in a proper manner, allowing the joints to communicate with the brain.4. Have You Ever Been in a Car Accident?(YES)If you have been in a car accident of any kind lately you need to be seeing a Chiropractor. Car accidents can, and usually do cause injury to the neck and even the low back that, if left untreated can lead to worse problems in the future and even degeneration of the spine. Recent research suggests that even low impact (or fender benders of even 5MPH) can cause damage to the spine, and especially the bones of the neck. A Chiropractor will evaluate your spine by doing specific tests as well as take x-rays to look for any damage to the bones and motion x-rays to look for any damage to the ligaments (the things holding the bones together), and joints.5. Do You Have Decreased Energy?(Yes) Low energy can be an indication that there is a problem going on in the body. Poor diet, poor sleeping habits, even dehydration can be causes of low energy levels. Another common reason is improper mechanics in the joints of the body and especially the spine that takes a huge toll on the body. The longer that this dysfunction stays in the joints the more likely it is that you will use much more energy to the same activities that before used little to no energy. A chiropractor is able to diagnose poor joint function, correct the problem and allow your body to return to the way that it was meant to function.6. Are You Achy in Morning?(YES) Waking up stiff and achy in the morning is a sign that there is a problem in the joints of the body. When a joint in the body is not working the way it should because it is out of place, it is sprained, or if it is not moving properly, the body will fill that joint up with swelling. This swelling happens the most when you are not moving joint (this is because if you move a joint, some of the swelling is pumped out), and the time you are not moving for the longest period of time is at night when you are sleeping. This is the reason that you may wake up stiff and achy and by the time you get moving around and into the shower you a loosened up a bit more. Many times we have found that if we restore proper function to the joints, by realigning them and getting them moving better, the morning achiness is reduced or goes away entirely.7. Do You Suffer From Headaches?(YES) Headaches can be a horrible thing to suffer from! According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) in Atlanta, Georgia, as many as 45 million Americans suffer from severe headaches. Sadly, the number of people being affected by severe headache pain continues to grow each year. There are many types of headaches, but one of the most common types is called a cervicogenic headache. This type of headache actually starts in the neck. When the bones of the neck get out of place it puts a tremendous amount of stress on the nerves, blood vessels, and even the brain. In response to this the body gives you a head ache to let you know that there is something wrong. It is a lot like the oil light in your car. When the oil light comes on in your car it is a warning that the oil is getting low. What do you do when you see this light? You change the oil of course. It is the same thing in the body, when you have a head ache you have to remove the reason for the headache, which many times is a misalignment of the bones of the neck from injury, poor posture, a traumatic birth, or even falls as a child! I have found that when you realign the bones of the spine a huge majority of the time the heads go away or are greatly reduced!8. Does your current job require you to spend long hours sitting or engaging in repetitive motions? (YES) You are not alone! Most of Americans have jobs that keep us in a seated position for most of our days. The problem is that we are not made to sit for extended periods of time. When you sit, especially at the computer you are most likely putting your head, neck, mid back and low back in a very vulnerable position. The longer that you sit the more likely it is that you are creating dysfunction in the neck, mid back, and low back. This dysfunction could be fixations in the joints (the joints getting stuck) or even misalignment's of the bones and joints. These dysfunctions can lead to degeneration and even disturbances in your nervous system. If, at points during your day you feel the need to stretch your neck, or your shoulders are starting to feel "tight" it is important that you are examined by a chiropractor.9. Are you 50 years of age or older and suffering from multiple muscle/joint problems?(Yes) Every day we are alive is a stressor to our bodies. As we grow older the joints and muscles in our bodies tend to weaken and become more vulnerable to these stressors. Proper alignment and movement in the joints is vitally important to weak muscle and joints. If any of the bones or joints are not in proper alignment or are not moving well this can create pain, stiffness, weakness, and instability. It is especially important to the aging body to maintain proper joint function. If you are over the age of 50 and suffering from any joint or muscle problems you need to be seeing a chiropractor.10. Have you suffered an injury (e.g. sprained ankle, pulled muscle, pulled disc, etc.) from which you are still feeling after-effects despite sufficient healing time, medication or other forms of therapy?(Yes) This can be a common experience. When you injure an area of the body many things occur. There is what we call "soft tissue" injuries which is what a sprained ankle, or a muscle tear is. This part of the injury that can be very painful. Many times though this is not all that is wrong. Along with the soft tissue damage, the bones and joints can also be injured. In some cases the bones and joints can even become misaligned. This is very common in the neck (i.e.-whiplash injuries) and the low back (i.e.-lifting injuries). If there is any type of misalignment of the joints this will keep the area from healing completely. This is the reason why an injury can become a nagging injury that continues to give pain long after the time it should have healed. A chiropractor will analyze the injured area and determine if your injury caused any type of misalignment to the joints. If they find that it has then a gentle chiropractic adjustment will help realign the joints. CLA Chiropractic
Find the Right Chiropractor
CLA Chiropractic Chiropractic spinal traction therapy is a method of stretching and mobilizing the spine using hands-on or mechanic force. Alleviation in pain is sought with therapeutic spinal traction by loosening tight and/or constricted muscles around the spine, and to help decompress intervertebral discs in order to relieve pressure on the spinal nerve roots, which is a major cause of back and spine related pain.As with other chiropractic treatments, spinal traction may or may not help alleviate your pain, often times with chiropractic treatment what works on one patient may not be right for others.Your chiropractor will evaluate your condition and determine if traction, and in what form, is right for you. There are several types of spinal traction, lumbar or cervical, and whether it is done manually or with a traction device:· Manual cervical traction is performed with the patient lying on the table in the supine position while the chiropractor holds the patients head and gently pulls or turns the head.· Mechanical cervical traction is a device that consists of a head harness and pulley system that utilizes weights to apply the force. The patient may use this device while sitting, lying flat, or in a reclined position. This method of traction is often done at home by the patient themselves after having been properly instructed by the chiropractor in the correct technique.· Manual lumbar traction is performed by the chiropractor by having the patient lay on the treatment table and then gently pulls on the ankles or by putting the patient's legs on the chiropractor's shoulders whereupon they grasp the patient's thighs and pull, or a waist harness may be utilized to apply the force.· Mechanical traction may be performed by use of a split table style traction device that consists of a computer controlled two level table that the patient lays on and grasps two handles while the lower level of the table applies the force by means of attachment of a waist harness. However, when the spine is in a state of deterioration, such as from osteoporosis, spinal traction is not a treatment option. Other conditions that would exclude a patient from utilizing traction include pregnancy, cardiovascular disease, hernia, and in some cases TMJ. Some mechanical spinal traction devices are considered experimental at this point and so your insurance may or may not pay for this treatment. Spinal traction therapy is often used in conjunction with other forms of chiropractic treatment and physical therapy for maximum benefit.Subluxations maybe a new word, as you probably have not heard your family physician mention this word. The first time I heard this word is when I had chiropractic treatment. Anyway, subluxation is the combination of two Latin words "sub", which means a bit or fairly and "luxare", which means "to displace". Chiropractors used the word vertebral subluxation to refer to any improper alignment in our spine. They believe that these subluxations cause diseases; however, if this will be adjusted, the spine will get to functional normally and healing will follow.What causes subluxations?Vertebral subluxations are attributed to 5 factors. The muscular factor. Keeping our spine upright are our muscles, which are controlled by our nerves. When a nerve gets pressure, muscle spasm can ensue. The vertebrae that are attached to the triggered muscle are dragged out its place and this further leads for the nerve to be irritated. When not properly diagnosed and treated, this will continue and this explains the reason why the dislocations or the subluxations stay in place.The bone factor. This is best illustrated when the vertebra is misaligned, not functioning appropriately or is starting to deteriorate. When this happens, the gaps amid our bones where the nerves pass are contracted. This leads the nerves to be irritated.The nervous factor. This pertains to the interruption of the regular energy flow down our nerve fibers leading to the distortion of the messages along our nerves. Due to the wrong signals received by our tissues, the latter will not work properly. If untreated, this can give way to other health conditions like constipation, peptic ulcers and disturbances in the organ system.The chemical factor. This pertains to the changes in our body chemistry brought about by vertebral subluxations. This happens when the body releases the chemical "kinins". These chemicals augment the soreness in the affected spot. The soft tissue factor. The nearby ligaments, tendons, blood supply and tissues are affected by the subluxations. If this is not treated immediately, it can lead to permanent spine flux.All of the above factors can lead to unceasing pain, arthritis, soreness, loss of motion, osteophyte and muscle instability and shudders.Chiropractors remove these subluxations to motivate your body to heal itself. When the nervous system is free from any subluxations, it will work properly paving your road to wellness. Chiropractors are the only health professionals who can managed subluxations via chiropractic adjustments.
The Advantages and Disadvantages of Chiropractic Care
CLA Chiropractic Before I begin, let me give you a little insight to where my perspective on the healing comes from. By training, I'm a scientist. I am really good at looking at issues critically and deciphering facts and problems based on factual evidence and sound theories. At the same time, I always had an interest in alternative medicine and while I lived in Seattle for 5 years, I had the chance to experience directly and learn various healing modalities such as naturopathic physician care, acupuncture, homeopathy, Nambudripad's Allergy Elimination Techniques (NAET). Some of my knowledge comes from being the inquisitive patient, some comes from discussions with students of Bastyr College of Naturopathic medicine who I befriended while in Seattle. While in Seattle I also took several classes on Reiki, and became a Reiki Master/Teacher and hence I have the insiders perspective on how energy healing works and what it can and can't do.I am a strong advocate of alternative therapies in conjunction with or sometimes instead of traditional medicine. However, recently, I have been really bothered by practices of chiropractors (some not all) and I feel that there are many out there that take advantage of the general lack of understanding of how the human body works in patients to keep their businesses going. I write this article with the goal to educate moms on the good, the bad, and the ugly associated with chiropractic care, especially as many chiropractors now advocate for 'maintenance care' not only for adults but also for children.As you will see below, I do believe that chiropractic adjustments can be very useful, especially when they are performed as part of the whole body healing, but unfortunately, when done in isolation, chiropractic adjustments often only set you up on a path of going, and going, and going back to your chiropractor for more treatments, rather than getting well.The work of a chiropractor is to manipulate the spine to remove misalignments. Misalignments in the spine are often referred to as subluxations. Traditional chiropractic philosophy is based on the belief that misalignments in the spine are the root cause of illness. Hence they remove the misalignments in the spine with the hope that the illness will go away as well. The idea behind this theory is that all body organs are connected to the spine through nerves. If there is misalignment in the spine, it will cause a problem with the nerves and then other organs connected to them. If you consider long term chiropractic care for yourself or your family, be sure that this theory of all illness originating from spine misalignments resonates with you. It doesn't with me. Here is why.The spine connects to joints, then to muscles and ligaments that support the spine and its structure. If there is a problem within the spine, the muscles in the close proximity to the spine misalignment (and often not only in that region) will also be affected. Typically some muscles will become overly tight and some will become weak, as muscles work in pairs. This is what's commonly referred to a muscle imbalance. In addition to the musculoskeletal system in your body, there is a biochemical system, and an emotional system. The biochemical system includes your blood chemistry, hormones, vitamins, minerals, and hence this system is vital to your well-being. Emotions, including moods and attitudes have also been shown to contribute to and to aid illnesses. The musculoskeletal, the biochemical, and the emotional systems within our body are very intimately connected to create our well-being or sickness. If we become ill, all of these systems will be affected and disease will manifest in all. I think it's naive to believe that all disease starts from the spine. For example, if you never go out in the sun and eventually become Vitamin D deficient, it is likely that you will develop problems in your spine since Vitamin D deficiency leads to muscles weakness. This in turn will likely lead to spine misalignments. Similarly, severe emotional trauma, never addressed properly, over time may lead to sickness which will likely cause some spine misalignment. I believe that it's correct to say that most illness will manifest itself in the spine, but that is not the same as saying that all illness originates in the spine. One thing to keep in mind is that the somewhat simplistic philosophy behind chiropractic and illness was developed at time when people had no choice but to eat minimally processed foods from local sources, before there were any chemicals in the environment, and at a time before drugs, vaccinations, and other environmental factors were impacting our health. In our modern society, there are other factors that contribute to creating illness, which must be addressed. In my opinion, removing the cause of the illness is the best approach for curing it. Finding the cause of the illness is often the tricky part. This is where a doctor with a broad range of expertise and education is most helpful. Ideally, the physician you pick as your doctor is familiar with how disease manifests itself in the musculoskeletal system, as well as in the biochemical and emotional system. Such a physician can best determine how to get all these systems back into balance.Chiropractic treatments have the best chance of curing problems most directly related to disturbances in the musculoskeletal system of the body. Many joint, and muscle pains can be aided by chiropractic manipulation. The question is, whether the pain will stay away. If the treatment is for an injury such as back pain due to someone lifting a heavy object in awkward manner, one to several chiropractic adjustments will usually get rid of the pain for good. The reason is that the cause of the pain was the spinal misalignment, and once removed, the patient is usually pain free.What about chronic pain though? Moms often develop neck and shoulder pain from nursing and carrying their children. Lower back pain and sciatica are also quite common. All chiropractors happily address these conditions, but how they are addressed varies greatly between chiropractors.It is a very common chiropractic practice to manipulate the spine to try to get it back to its proper alignment, and ask the patient to come back multiple times in a week, often for long periods of time. The reason for the multiple return visits is not addressing the cause of the spine misalignment. If the cause of the problem is not removed, few hours to a few days after the adjustment, the spine slowly returns to its previous state.Why? Because the muscles that are tight are pulling it in the direction of previous misalignment and the weak muscles can't support the corrected structure. So the patient goes back to the chiropractor, and the process is repeated. 5, 10, 20, 40, sometimes 60 times, usually 1 to 3 times a week over a course of weeks. Then once a week, then once a month. After all those adjustments, it is possible that the muscles over time slowly adapt into the new corrected shape from the repeated adjustments, but typically if treatment is stopped, the spine will go back to the misalignment as the cause of the problem was never addressed by the chiropractic practitioner. Many moms I know have chronic neck or lower back pain, and all feel better after visiting a chiropractor. The problem is that they need to keep seeing the chiropractor in order to feel better.The underlying reason for chronic pain is often postural patterns (such as forward rounded shoulders from computer use) and muscle imbalances (strong quadriceps and weak hamstrings in runners or after pregnancy). That's only part of the picture though. Spine misalignment can also be caused by and exacerbated by a food allergy, such as dairy intolerance, or vitamin deficiency. The misalignments due to these factors can be as severe as from chronic postural patterns. Chiropractic adjustments will keep making the patient feel better after every adjustment, however if the cause is never addressed, the problem will keep coming back. In these examples, it would make most sense to address the cause of the illness (vitamin D deficiency or dairy intolerance) rather than the symptom (spine misalignment).A good chiropractor should be able to determine what the cause of the muscle imbalance and/or spine misalignment is, whether it is purely structural or whether there is an underlying problem such as a nutrient deficiency, a food sensitivity, a toxic overload, or a hormonal imbalance. This takes not only a good chiropractor but an inquisitive mind set as well as good doctoring skills. These are not taught in all chiropractic schools, and the good chiropractors have usually had lots of other training, for example in applied kinesiology.Hence in my view, chiropractic adjustments are useful to address some musculoskeletal issues. For sure, for acute injuries to the system. When it comes to chronic pain though, the key to getting rid of the issue is addressing the cause. A practitioner who understands how the body works will use a combination of spinal manipulation with physical therapy to address tight and weak muscles, and offer a plan on removing the cause of the ailment (postural habits, etc). This would be similar to the work of a physical therapist skilled in spinal manipulation. Often however even that is not enough. A chiropractor with a firm belief that removing spine misalignments is all that is needed to treat a person will likely keep a person with a vitamin deficiency or a food allergy in treatment for months (and be unsuccessful). I think that is plain ignorant. To treat a person, all aspects of the body have to be considered and for that a holistic practitioner acknowledging the whole body approach to healing is needed. A good chiropractor will recognize the limitation of his or her work and will refer a patient to someone else if spinal manipulation is not producing lasting results. Long term Chiropractic CareMany chiropractors think that regular spinal manipulations are necessary to stay healthy. After all, in their minds, all disease originates in the spine, and hence small misalignments should be frequently removed for optimal health. It is not clear to me whether these chiropractors actually believe this or whether they simply understand that they will have clients for life, as long as the client believes that he or she should see the chiropractor once a month for optimal health. Of course, services are not limited to adults. Many chiropractors now offer a family package and start adjusting children from infancy; For maintenance: once a month for the rest of their lives.Maintenance may be a good idea a couple times a year or after accidents to prevent the problem of "as the twig is bent, so grows the tree". However, there is more to good maintenance healthcare than adjusting. The biochemical and emotional systems also need maintenance, and typically people with more balanced chemical and emotional systems will need less adjustments to stay feeling good. A good alternative to using a chiropractor for health maintenance is using a practitioner who can address the full spectrum of healthcare and preventive maintenance, such as a Naturopathic Doctor also trained in physical medicine.In summary:The good: chiropractic manipulation can be extremely helpful in reducing or removing pain, often chronic.The bad: Typical chiropractors address only the structural component of the problem. Some will often guidance on how to stretch and strengthen affected muscle groups to help the spine in alignment. Most do not tackle the chemical/hormonal aspect of the problem which are often the hidden cause of spinal misalignments. There is also an emotional aspect of spinal alignments which is rarely addressed.The ugly: Chiropractors often set up their practice with the intention of keeping the clients coming and coming and coming. It's not uncommon to see packages of 60 to 80 visits sold upfront: not only for you - but for your entire family, whether they are ill or not!Optimal Solution: Finding a practitioner who understands the relationship between the musculoskeletal, biochemical, and emotional systems in your body, and can get to the cause of your problem. This can be a holistic chiropractor, naturopathic doctor trained in spinal manipulation, or perhaps a chiropractor who's also an acupuncturist.Primarily, Chiropractors treat something called a "Subluxation". This word was created by Chiropractic founder D. D. Palmer. He essentially stated that whereas a "luxation" is a complete dislocation of a joint, a simple malposition of the bones of a joint, without being dislocated, would be a "Subluxation", "Sub" meaning less than or below a "luxation" or dislocation. This would give one the idea of a boney misalignment in a joint.Simply put, in the beginning, that's pretty much what was meant by this word, except for one additional factor. A subluxation ALWAYS contains, as a criterion for Chiropractic consideration, a blockage of nerve impulses somewhere between the brain and the rest of the body. If allowed to continue, this resulting blockage of nerve impulses could conceivably result in disease. Later, Dr. Palmer stated there were other types of subluxations which also needed to be addressed. A Chemical Subluxation would be where the body's chemistry was not optimal for proper function. An Emotional Subluxation would include aberrations of the mind, interfering with normal function of the body.Over the decades the definition of "Subluxation" has changed and evolved to a point where there is no set, universally accepted definition of the word. Many of us have gone back the original tried-and-true definition as stated above. It serves well, because under this umbrella, the definition addresses problems with the whole body and mind, plus pain syndromes, chronic disorders and even injuries to the spine and extremities. That just about describes most of what we treat at this office.I've come up with a triangle of health. On one side we have "Structural Health", on another side we have "Chemical Health" and on the last side is "Emotional Health".The Structural side includes the body itself, bones, muscles, nerves, organs, etc. This is probably the most common type of Chiropractic case and includes injuries from all types of trauma and even birth.Chemical Health would encompass hormones, nutrients, blood chemistry, etc. In this office we practice "Functional Medicine". This involves, among other things, optimizing the body's chemistry to prevent disease and even correct some chronic problems like autoimmune conditions. Last (but not least) is Emotional Health, which would include mental and spiritual factors. Most say that the mind is senior to the body. For example, stress could affect the body's chemistry, immune system, endocrine system and structure. Grief, anger and fear would have similar physical consequences. These could even predispose a person to accidents and trauma. Therefore, we make it our business to look at emotional factors as well.So you can see that Chiropractic can be a very multifaceted approach to delivering health care. In this office all these factors are considered when developing a treatment plan.Next installment will cover the Magic and Miracle of Homeopathy.