Most of us spend a good deal of our time on computers, tablets, smart phones or other such devices. In our free time, to get away from technology, we may craft, do woodworking, read a good book or workout. We live and work in a world that sets us up for having poor posture. A lot of the time our heads jut forward, our shoulders are rolled forward, and our spines are hunched back. This puts a lot of stress on the muscles and joints of the upper back (also known as the thoracic spine).
While the neck and lower back are designed more for mobility, the thoracic spine is designed to be very strong and stable to allow us to stand upright and to protect the vital internal organs of the chest. Because this section of the spine has a great deal of stability and limited movement, it generally is not injured as often as the other areas of the spine. With that being said, postural stress on a daily basis tends to have a cumulative effect. Over time, persistent poor posture can put compressive loads on the upper thoracic vertebrae which can lead to the development of an Upper Thoracic Hump, which can devolve into a Dowager Hump if the vertebrae develop compression fractures. Ultimately, this can put stress on your internal organs and even lead to a decrease in lung capacity. In fact, a recent study found that this “hyperkyphotic posture”, as it is called, was associated with a 1.44 greater rate of mortality in seniors.
As chiropractors, we can help correct these problems before they become permanent. Chiropractors specialize in reversing the lack of normal movement in joints and restoring normal muscle balance. Postural issues, such as what I have been describing, lead to tightening of some muscles and weakening of others. The muscles in between your shoulder blades can become like over-used rubber bands. Through the use of exercises and other therapies, normal muscle balance and joint function can be restored. So if you are experiencing upper back pain, you may want to consult a chiropractor. More
I see a lot of patients in my office complaining of foot and ankle pain. The most common types of foot problems that I encounter are plantar fasciitis, metatarsalgia, Morton’s Neuroma, and Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome. Most ankle problems are usually the result of an ankle sprain at some point in time or Achilles tendonitis. One thing that all of these conditions have in common is there is some sort of structural problem with the foot that is causing them.
The foot is a very complex structure. It is made up of 28 bones and 25 joints. They are configured to accommodate the stability and mobility responsibilities of the foot and ankle on various surfaces during various degrees of weight bearing. Ultimately, all of these structures configure to form the arch of the foot. The arch is integral to the foot’s function of mobility and stability. In terms of mobility, the arch acts as a shock absorber and allows the foot to adapt to changes in terrain. In terms of stability, the arch allows for weight distribution through the foot during weight bearing and converts the foot to a rigid lever when pushing off during gait. When the structure of the foot breaks down, the foot does not function as it was intended and pain is usually the end result.
As chiropractors, we look at restoring the normal structural functioning of the foot. This is accomplished through a number of ways, but mostly through chiropractic adjustments and therapies. Chiropractic adjustments restore normal movement and alignment to the joints of the foot and ankle. This decreases stress on the soft tissues and helps to improve the functioning of the arch of the foot. Therapies help to decrease pain and inflammation in the foot.
Finding the proper footwear is also important. Different types of foot problems require different types of support. For example, a flat foot needs a different type of shoe than a foot with a high arch. Also, orthotic arch supports may also be needed to properly support the foot. These are things that a chiropractor can advise you about. More
Your shoulder joint is the most complex, flexible, and mobile joint in your body. It is because of this complexity that you are able to perform many different movements and activities. However, this ability to move also makes the shoulder particularly fragile. Anatomically, the shoulder involves three different bones – the scapula (shoulder blade), the clavicle (collar bone), and the humerus (upper arm bone) – many connecting ligaments, and approximately 20 different muscles. The main joint, the glenohumeral joint, is connected by ligaments and a group of muscles (and their tendon attachments) knows as the rotator cuff. Problems with the rotator cuff are common causes of shoulder pain and disability.
As with other joints, shoulder problems can be caused by trauma, mechanical dysfunction due to imbalances in the muscles, or by wear and tear of the tissues surrounding the joint. Arthritic changes do occur in the shoulder joint, though not as commonly as the weight-bearing joints of the spine, hips, and knees. Overuse of the shoulder in sports such as tennis and golf or other repetitive activities can cause the muscles to become overly tight or strained. People who sit too much in a slouched position or with the shoulders held forward are also at risk of developing imbalances in the shoulder muscles causing some to be too tight or too weak. This causes dysfunction in the normal mechanics of the joint.
Shoulder and arm pain may be referred from some other region of the body, as when someone suffering a heart attack feels pain in the left shoulder and down the left arm. The pain may also be referred from nerves associated with the joints in the neck, or cervical spine. The nerves leaving the neck innervate the joints and muscles of the shoulder, arm, and hand. If there is a problem with the neck, pain can be referred down the arm all the way to the hand.
Rotator Cuff Syndrome
One or more of the rotator cuff tendons that hold your arm in place can be inflamed or torn by injury or overuse. Regardless of the reason, pain and limitation of normal motion will eventually develop. The severity can vary from a slight catching or pain to an almost complete inability to use the shoulder.
Another common problem, especially among middle age women is “frozen shoulder.” This often debilitating condition occurs when the ligaments and tendons of the glenohumeral joint get so irritated that adhesions develop making the joint almost stuck together. This results in an extreme limitation of shoulder motion and pain that makes it difficult for some individuals to even get dressed! Left alone, frozen shoulder can take several years to resolve and therefore needs attention by a professional such as a chiropractor.
The treatment of most conditions of the shoulder is basically the same. One must correct muscle imbalance with either soft tissue massage or electrotherapy modalities, restore proper mobility to the shoulder joints and, of course, correct any misalignments in the spine. Special rehabilitation exercises advised by your chiropractor are also essential in order for a full and fast recovery.
Carpal Tunnel most often occurs in very repetitive jobs such as typing. The carpal tunnel is located in the wrist and is literally a tunnel that tendons and the median nerve (the nerve that innervates a good portion of the hand) pass through in order to reach the hand. The walls of the tunnel are composed of the bones of the wrist. The roof is made up of a protective sheath called the flexor retinaculum that stretches across the wrist.
Repetitive motions, such as typing, cause the tendons passing through the carpal tunnel to slide against each other repetitively. This eventually causes irritation which leads to inflammation. Inflammation causes swelling and this causes pressure occur in the carpal tunnel. Any pressure in the carpal tunnel will affect the median nerve’s function. Stretches and frequent breaks are highly recommended for prevention of carpal tunnel. Also, your workstation design is very important.
What most people don’t know is that many carpal tunnel cases actually start at the cervical spine or elbow in what is called a “double crush syndrome.” When a nerve has pressure at any point, it will swell (because fluid flows around the periphery of nerves and can get pinched off). This makes it very susceptible to problems farther down the nerve. Chiropractic addresses all of the areas where the nerves can get entrapped. Maintaining proper spinal alignment in the neck and ensuring the bones of the elbow and the wrist are moving properly can prevent or eliminate any symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. More
When was the last time you woke up saying, “Wow! I feel great!”? How long has it been since you were headache-free? Close your eyes and imagine what it would be like to start and end your day without a headache. Maybe you’ve had headaches for so long that you accept them as something you have to live with. The truth is, you don’t have to live with headaches.
Because headaches are so common, some people think that getting a headache is just a normal part of life! They couldn’t be more wrong! Headaches are a definitive sign that something has gone wrong.
There are many types of headaches: migraine, tension, and cluster. A frequent and overlooked cause of headaches is the malfunction of spinal bones in the neck and upper back. When bones of the spine lose their normal position or motion, sensitive nerves and blood vessels to the head can be affected. When spinal nerves and related tissues are stretched or irritated, they can produce throbbing headaches. Aspirin and medications may cover up these warning signs, but do not correct the underlying structural cause.
Many people find relief and correction with chiropractic care. If a thorough examination reveals reduced range of motion, loss of normal spinal curves, or mechanical restrictions, chiropractic care should be considered.
Many patients report headache relief almost instantly. Others find that the correction of their problem takes longer because their spinal problem has existed undetected for many years. Every patient responds differently. Regardless of how you respond, enjoy the drug-free results millions have enjoyed by consulting a chiropractic physician.
Research Validating Chiropractic Treatment for Headaches
A new report released by researchers at the Duke University Evidence-Based Practice Center in Durham, NC, found that spinal manipulation (as performed by a chiropractor) is an effective treatment option of tension headaches and headaches that originate in the neck. The report, titled “Evidence Report: Behavioral and Physical Treatments for Tension-Type and Cervicogenic Headache,” was authored by Douglas C. McCrory, M.D., MI-ISc; Donald B. Penzien, PhD., and Rebecca N. Gray, D.Phil. Based on a literature review of several headache treatment options, a panel of 25 multidisciplinary experts concluded that spinal manipulation resulted in almost immediate improvement for cervicogenic headaches (those that originate in the neck) and had significantly fewer side effects and longer-lasting relief of tension-type headache than a commonly-prescribed medication.
The researchers at Duke examined the quality research for physical methods, such as acupuncture, cervical spinal manipulation, and physiotherapy, and behavioral methods, such as relaxation, biofeedback, and stress management training, of treating the two types of headache – tension and cervicogenic.
Researchers concluded the following:
“Cervical spinal manipulation was associated with improvement in headache outcomes in two trials involving patients with neck pain and/or neck dysfunction and headache. Manipulation appeared to result in immediate improvement in headache severity when used to treat episodes of cervicogenic headache when compared with an attention-placebo control. Furthermore, when compared to soft-tissue therapies (massage), a course of manipulation treatments resulted in sustained improvement in headache frequency and severity.”
For tension-type headaches, the researchers point to a study that compared manipulation to amitriptyline, a drug commonly prescribed for headache. Said the researchers from Duke, “Despite the uniform and relatively low dose of amitriptyline, however, adverse effects were much more common with amitriptyline (82% of patients) than with manipulation (4%). During the 4-week period after both treatments ceased, patients who had received manipulation were significantly better than those who had taken amitriptyline for both headache frequency and severity. Although amitriptyline is usually continued for longer than 6 weeks, the return to near-baseline values for headache outcomes in this group contrasts with a sustained reduction in headache frequency and severity in those who had received manipulation.” More