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WHY ARE NYS RESIDENTS LIKELY TO GO TO A CHIROPRACTOR?

According to the Gallup survey, New Yorkers utilize chiropractic care for back and spinal problems (75%), relief of aches, pains and tension (14%), problems with neck (14%), and muscle pain, spasm or headaches (9%). Chiropractors not only have great success in caring for a wide variety of health problems but also in contributing to an individual's total health and well-being.

Back Problems
Back Pain While Pregnant
Mid Back Pain
Neck Problems
Headaches
Muscle Pain
Work Related Injuries
Auto Injuries
Sports Injuries


Back Problems

LOW BACK PAIN

Why is low back pain common?

Nearly 12 million visits are made to the doctor each year because of back problems. Four out of five adults will experience significant low back pain sometime during their life. After the common cold, problems caused by the lower back are the most frequent cause of lost work days in adults under the age of 45.

The lower or lumbar spine is a complex structure that connects your upper body (including your chest and arms) to your lower body (including your pelvis and legs). This important part of your spine provides you with both mobility and strength. The mobility allows movements such as turning, twisting or bending; and the strength allows you to stand, walk and lift. Proper functioning of your lower back is needed for almost all activities of daily living. Pain in the lower back can restrict your activity and reduce your work capacity and quality of enjoyment of everyday living.

How is low back pain diagnosed?

Most cases of low back pain are not serious and respond to simple treatments. Your Doctor of Chiropractic can accurately diagnose and effectively treat most types of low back pain in the office. You will be asked about the nature of your symptoms and whether you sustained an injury. You also will have an examination of your spine and legs. For many episodes of low back pain no expensive tests are needed for initial assessment and treatment.

If your pain is severe and not responding to treatment or if you have significant leg pain, some imaging tests may be required. Plain X-rays will show arthritis and bone diseases, but will not show soft tissues such as the lumbar disks or nerves. For conditions or injuries that involve these soft tissues, CT scan (computerized tomography) or MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) may be needed. Occasionally, a bone scan will be needed to assess bone activity and electrical tests, EMG (electromyography) may be needed to determine if the spine condition has caused nerve or muscle damage.

What are the common causes?

Low back pain can be caused by a number of factors from injuries to the effects of aging.

Low Back Sprain and Strain - The muscles of the low back provide power and strength for activities such as standing, walking and lifting. A strain of the muscle can occur when the muscle is poorly conditioned or overworked. The ligaments of the low back act to interconnect the five vertebral bones and provide support or stability for the low back. A sprain of the low back can occur when a sudden, forceful movement injures a ligament which has become stiff or weak through poor conditioning or overuse.

These injuries, or sprain and strain, are the most common causes of low back pain. Frequently, a combination of other factors may increase the likelihood of injury or disease:

  • poor conditioning
  • prolonged sitting
  • obesity
  • smoking
  • incomplete healing of past injuries
  • poor posture
  • improper ergonomics
  • excessive repetitive torsal motions
  • auto or work accidents
  • congenital weaknesses

The natural effects of normal aging on the body, in general, and low back, in particular, are osteoporosis or decreased amount of bone; decrease in strength and elasticity of muscles; and decrease in elasticity and strength of ligaments. Although you cannot totally halt the progress of these effects, they can be slowed by regular exercise, knowing the proper way to lift and move objects, proper nutrition, and avoidance of smoking.

Age - "Wear and tear" and inherited factors will cause degenerative changes in the disks, called degenerative disk disease, and arthritic changes in the small joints. These changes occur to some degree in everyone. When severe, they can cause low back stiffness and pain. Arthritic bone spurs and inflamed joints can cause nerve irritation and leg pain. Almost everyone develops "wear and tear" changes in their low back as they age, although for most people it causes little pain or loss of function.

Osteoporosis and Fractures - All bones lose bone strength over time and the lumbar vertebrae, particularly in postmenopausal women, can be fractured or compressed from a fall or even from the stress of lifting or everyday activities.



Back Pain While Pregnant
Chiropractic Advice for Moms-to-Be
The weight gain, the bloating, the nausea... Most new mothers will tell you that the aches and pains of pregnancy are a small price to pay for the beautiful bundle of joy they're rewarded with nine months later.

But as many new mothers can attest, the muscle strains of pregnancy are very real and can be more than just a nuisance. The average weight gain of 25 to 35 pounds, combined with the increased stress placed on the body by the baby, can sometimes result in severe discomfort. In fact, studies have found that about half of all expectant mothers will develop low back pain at some point during their pregnancy. This is especially true during late pregnancy, when the baby's head presses down on a woman's back, legs and buttocks, putting pressure on her sciatic nerve. And for those who already suffer from low back pain, the problem can become even worse.

During pregnancy, a woman's center of gravity almost immediately begins to shift forward to the front of her pelvis, according to Dr. Jerome McAndrews, spokesperson for the American Chiropractic Association (ACA). Although a woman's sacrum - or posterior section of her pelvis - has more depth than a man's to enable her to carry a baby, the displaced weight still increases the stress on her joints. "As the baby grows in size," Dr. McAndrews explains, "the woman's weight is projected even farther forward, and the curvature of her lower back is increased, placing extra stress on her spinal disks in that area. As a result, the spine in the upper back area must compensate - and the normal curvature of her upper spine increases as well."

While these changes sound dramatic, Mother Nature does step in to help accommodate them. During pregnancy, hormones are released that help loosen the ligaments attached to the pelvic bones. But even these natural changes designed to accommodate the growing baby can result in postural imbalances, causing pregnant women to be more prone to awkward trips and falls.

What Can You Do?
The ACA and Dr. McAndrews recommend the following tips for pregnant women looking for relief from the discomforts of pregnancy:

  • Safe exercise during pregnancy can help strengthen your muscles and prevent discomfort. Try exercising at least three times a week - preceded and followed up by a gentle stretching routine. If you weren't active before your pregnancy, however, now is not the time to start a new fitness routine. Check with your doctor before starting or continuing any exercise regimen during pregnancy.

  • Walking, swimming and stationary cycling are relatively safe cardiovascular exercises for pregnant women, because they do not require jerking or bouncing movements. Even jogging, however, can be safe for women who were avid runners before becoming pregnant - if done carefully and under the supervision of a doctor.

  • Whatever exercise routine you choose, be sure to do it in an area with secure footing to minimize the likelihood of falls. Also, be certain that your heart rate does not exceed 140 beats per minute during exercise, and that strenuous activity lasts no more than 15 minutes at a time.

  • Stop your exercise routine immediately if you notice any unusual symptoms, such as vaginal bleeding, dizziness, nausea, weakness, blurred vision, increased swelling or heart palpitations.

  • Wear flat, sensible shoes. Not only can high or chunky heels be uncomfortable, they can also exacerbate postural imbalances and cause you to be less steady on your feet than you already are. This is especially true as you get farther along in your pregnancy.

  • When picking up older children - or any other object for that matter - bend from the knees, not the waist. And never turn your head when you lift. Just to be on the safe side, avoid picking up heavy objects altogether, if possible.

  • When sleeping, lie on your side with a pillow between your knees to take pressure off your lower back. Many women find that full-length "body pillows" or "pregnancy wedges" are especially helpful during pregnancy. Lying on your left side is ideal. This position allows unobstructed blood flow, and helps your kidneys flush waste from your body.

  • If you have a job that requires you to sit at a computer for long hours, be sure your workstation is ergonomically correct. Position the computer monitor so the top of the screen is at or below your eye level, and place your feet on a small footrest to take pressure off your legs and feet. Also, take periodic breaks every 30 minutes by taking a quick walk around the office.

  • Eat small meals or snacks every four to five hours - rather than the usual three large meals - to help keep nausea or extreme hunger at bay. Good snacks include crackers or yogurt - bland foods that are high in carbohydrates and protein. Keep saltines in your desk drawer or purse to help stave off waves of "morning sickness" that can, unfortunately, occur at any time throughout the day.

  • Folic acid supplements -- at least 400 micrograms (mcg) a day -- before and during pregnancy have been shown to decrease the risk of neural tube birth defects, such as spina bifida. Some doctors recommend even more for women who are already pregnant, or who previously gave birth to a child with a neural tube defect. However, check with your doctor before taking this or any other vitamin or herbal supplement. Some herbs and supplements that are considered perfectly safe for non-pregnant women can be dangerous or harmful to the baby or expectant mother.

  • Get plenty of rest. Don't let the demands of work and family life put you and your baby at risk. Pamper yourself, and ask for help if you need it. Take a nap if you're tired, or lie down and elevate your feet for a few moments when you need a break.

Chiropractic Care Can Help...
Visit your doctor of chiropractic. Before you become pregnant, your doctor of chiropractic can detect any pre-existing imbalances in the pelvis or elsewhere in your body that could make pregnancy discomfort even worse - or leave you with additional neuromusculoskeletal problems after childbirth.

Many pregnant women have found that chiropractic adjustments provide relief from the increased low back pain brought on by pregnancy. And scientific studies have found that spinal manipulation carries no increased risk to the pregnant woman or her baby. Chiropractic's non-drug, non-surgical approach to back pain can be especially attractive to pregnant women who are trying to avoid over-the-counter and prescription drugs. Doctors of chiropractic can also offer nutrition, ergonomic and exercise advice that will help you avoid the discomforts of pregnancy.

Chiropractic care can also be helpful after childbirth. In the eight weeks following labor and delivery, the ligaments that loosened during pregnancy begin to tighten up again. Ideally, joint problems brought on during pregnancy from improper lifting or reaching should be treated before the ligaments return to their pre-pregnancy state. In addition, as the upper and lower spine return to normal, muscle tension, headaches, rib discomfort and shoulder problems can result. Your doctor of chiropractic can help.

This information is reprinted with permission of the American Chiropractic Association. Copyright 2003.


Mid Back Pain



Neck Problems



Headaches

Have a Splitting Headache? Chiropractic Care Can Help
If you have a headache, you're not alone. Nine out of ten Americans suffer from headaches. Some are occasional, some frequent, some are dull and throbbing, and some cause debilitating pain and nausea.

What do you do when you suffer from a pounding headache? Do you grit your teeth and carry on? Lie down? Pop a pill and hope the pain goes away? There is a better alternative.

New research shows that spinal manipulation - the primary form of care provided by doctors of chiropractic - may be an effective treatment option for tension headaches and headaches that originate in the neck.

A report released in 2001 by researchers at the Duke University Evidence-Based Practice Center in Durham, NC, found that spinal manipulation resulted in almost immediate improvement for those headaches that originate in the neck, and had significantly fewer side effects and longer-lasting relief of tension-type headache than a commonly prescribed medication.

Also, a 1995 study in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics found that spinal manipulative therapy is an effective treatment for tension headaches and that those who ceased chiropractic treatment after four weeks experienced a sustained therapeutic benefit in contrast with those patients who received a commonly prescribed medication.

Headache Triggers
But to get to the bottom of the problem, you first need to find out what is causing your pain. Headaches have many causes, or "triggers." These may include foods, environmental stimuli (noises, lights, stress, etc.) and/or behaviors (insomnia, excessive exercise, blood sugar changes, etc.). About 5 percent of all headaches are warning signals caused by physical problems.

Ninety-five percent of headaches are primary headaches, such as tension, migraine, or cluster headaches. These types of headaches are not caused by disease. The headache itself is the primary concern.

"The greatest majority of primary headaches are associated with muscle tension in the neck," says Dr. George B. McClelland, a doctor of chiropractic from Christiansburg, VA, and member of the American Chiropractic Association's (ACA) Board of Governors. "Today, Americans engage in more sedentary activities than they used to, and more hours are spent in one fixed position or posture. This can increase joint irritation and muscle tension in the neck, upper back and scalp, causing your head to ache."

What Can You Do?
The ACA suggests the following:

  • If you spend a large amount of time in one fixed position, such as in front of a computer, on a sewing machine, typing or reading, take a break and stretch every 30 minutes to one hour. The stretches should take your head and neck through a comfortable range of motion.

  • Low-impact exercise may help relieve the pain associated with primary headaches. However, if you are prone to dull, throbbing headaches, avoid heavy exercise. Engage in such activities as walking and low-impact aerobics.

  • Avoid teeth clenching. The upper teeth should never touch the lowers, except when swallowing. This results in stress at the temporomandibular joints (TMJ) - the two joints that connect your jaw to your skull - leading to TMJ irritation and a form of tension headaches.

  • Drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day to help avoid dehydration, which can lead to headaches.


In addition, the ACA and its Council on Nutrition suggest you avoid the following food "triggers":

  • Avoid caffeine. Foods such as chocolate, coffee, sodas and cocoa contain high levels of the stimulant.

  • Avoid foods with a high salt or sugar content. These foods may cause migraines, resulting in sensitivity to light, noise, or abrupt movements.

  • Avoid drinking alcoholic beverages. These drinks can dehydrate you and cause headache pain.

  • Other headache sufferers may want to avoid not only caffeine, but also high-protein foods, dairy products, red meat and salty foods.


What Can a Doctor of Chiropractic Do?
Dr. McClelland says your doctor of chiropractic may do one or more of the following if you suffer from a primary headache:

  • Perform spinal manipulation or chiropractic adjustments to improve spinal function and alleviate the stress on your system.

  • Provide nutritional advice, recommending a change in diet and perhaps the addition of B complex vitamins.

  • Offer advice on posture, ergonomics (work postures), exercises and relaxation techniques. This advice should help to relieve the recurring joint irritation and tension in the muscles of the neck and upper back.

  • "Doctors of chiropractic undergo extensive training to help their patients in many ways - not just back pain," says Dr. McClelland. "They know how tension in the spine relates to problems in other parts of the body, and they can take steps to relieve those problems."

If your headache is symptomatic of a health problem that needs the care of another discipline, your doctor of chiropractic will refer you to an appropriate specialist.

Chiropractic Care Can Help...
Talk to your doctor of chiropractic about other ways to improve your lifestyle. Doctors of chiropractic are trained and licensed to examine and treat the entire body with specific emphasis on the nervous and musculoskeletal systems. They can also help people lead healthier lives by focusing on wellness and prevention.

This information is reprinted with permission of the American Chiropractic Association. Copyright 2003.



Muscle Pain



Work Related Injuries



Auto Injuries



Sports Injuries