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 Pain While Pregnant
Mid Back Pain
Work Related Injuries
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
- 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.
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
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
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
- 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
- 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
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
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
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
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
"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
- Avoid drinking alcoholic beverages.
These drinks can dehydrate you and cause headache
- 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
- 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.
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
This information is reprinted with permission of
the American Chiropractic Association. Copyright