Low back pain
Low back pain is one of the most common disorders affecting American adults. It is estimated that 75 million Americans will have it each year, and that 80 percent of the adult population will have low back pain at some time. Low back pain is the most common cause of disability among the 30-50 year age group. Because these age groups are usually the most productive in the work force, the economic impact of low back pain is enormous. Low back pain patients comprise the second largest diagnostic group seen by medical family practitioners, yet the common treatments recommended by these practitioners are often found to be ineffective. A prominent medical low back pain researcher has suggested that family physicians consider referring these patients for chiropractic care, as it has proven helpful for this disorder. Low back pain generally is a mechanical disorder that needs suitable treatment. Chiropractic manipulation is just such a method. In the Journal of Canadian Family Physician, Dr. William Kirkaldy-Willis, professor of orthopedic surgery at the University of Saskatchewan, reported on a study of chronic low back pain patients. The results of treatment with chiropractic manipulation were so favorable that Dr. Kirkaldy-Willis summarized that those medical doctors who refer their patients for this treatment will provide relief for many who would not otherwise be helped. Indeed, growing numbers of low back pain sufferers are turning to chiropractic each ear and are finding relief. Many people who were frustrated before seeking chiropractic treatment return to an active lifestyle, not restricted by disabling pain. The latest statistics show that about one half of low back patients now see a chiropractor, and the percentage should be much greater. Chiropractic is both a safe and effective way to deal with low back pain.
Sciatica can be a severely painful condition. It is caused by inflammation of the sciatic nerve, a nerve which runs from the lower back through the hip and down the leg. The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the body, as anyone who has had sciatica can attest. The most common cause of sciatica is pinching or irritation of the nerve in the lower spine. Slipping of a disc, slight displacement of a spinal joint, bone spurs or combinations of all of these problems are the typical causes of sciatica nerve irritation. Sciatica is one of the most common conditions for which back surgery is recommended. Back surgery, however, is only successful about 60 percent of the time and has a fairly high risk of complications. More recent interest in non-surgical treatments for sciatic nerve pain has caused several researchers to look at chiropractic manipulation as an alternative. Researchers at St. Thomas Hospital in London recently reported the results of their study of non-surgical treatments for back and sciatic nerve pain in the British Journal Of Rheumatology. Comparing traction, spinal injections, and manipulation, they found chiropractic manipulation to be the single most effective treatment in the 513 patients studied. In a similar study, researchers at the California College of Medicine at the University of California Irvine also found manipulation to significantly improve clinical signs of sciatic nerve compression. Clearly, chiropractic manipulation is one of the most effective conservative treatments in those with sciatic nerve pain. Chiropractic manipulation should be one of the first considerations in those with sciatica. It can prevent the need for spinal surgery in many patients. There are effective ways of dealing with pain in the body's largest nerve!
Disc Diseases and Injuries
While the intervertebral disc is a common culprit in spine related health problems, its function is widely misunderstood. Discs can bulge, herniate, or rupture, resulting in other problems. The disc is a small cartilage pad that is situated between spinal bones. The soft jelly like center is contained by layers of fibrous tissues. Each disc serves as a connector, spacer, and shock absorber for the spine. When healthy, discs allow normal turning and bending. Since spinal discs have a very poor blood supply, they depend upon the circulation of joint fluids to bring in nutrients and expel waste. If a spinal joint loses its normal motion and this pumping action is impaired, the health of the disc deteriorates. Like a wet sponge, a healthy disc is flexible. A dry sponge is hard, stiff, and can crack easily. This is how many disc problems begin. Because of the way each disc is attached to the vertebra above and below it, a disc cannot "slip" as commonly thought. However, trauma or injury to the spine can cause discs to bulge, herniate, or worse, rupture. This can be quite painful, putting pressure on the spinal cord and nerve roots, interfering with their function. The traditional approach to disc problems often ignores spinal function. Conservative chiropractic care is safer and often more effective than back surgery. The chiropractic approach to disc problems is to help restore better motion and position to the spinal joint. Besides reducing disc bulging, better spinal function helps reduce inflammation and begin the slow process of healing the surrounding soft tissue.
Neck Pain & Stiffness
A stiff, painful neck is a common problem, but one that puzzles most people as to what caused it. Most people just wake up with it. The search for the injury that causes it usually reveals no answers, as it is a "slow injury" that occurs during sleep. A large study at the Pain Clinic, Princess Alexandria Hospital in Australia brought several points to light concerning this type of neck pain. Stiff neck is commonly caused by pinching of facet joints, small pain-sensitive spinal joints that can trigger pain in the neck, back of the shoulder, muscle spasm and headache. These researchers found that 71 percent of the patients evaluated at their clinic proved to have a pinching facet joint in the neck. Almost all had been previously evaluated by medical practitioners who had failed to diagnose the disorder. In a related study, these researchers found that the simplest and most effective way to diagnose this disorder is by palpation of the joints of the neck. This is the procedure used by chiropractors to detect joint tenderness and movement restriction by feeling the spine with the hands. As stiff neck from facet syndrome is caused by pinching of these small joints, chiropractic manipulation is very effective in freeing the problem, relieving neck pain, muscle spasm and headache. Exercises are often then used in addition to treatment to improve neck joint flexibility and to improve muscle tone. This treatment program is often effective for both acute and chronic stiff neck. While the position of the head and neck during sleep can allow these facet joints to pinch and cause stiff neck, chiropractic treatment can effectively resolves the pain. Prompt treatment can prevent prolonged suffering.
Few disorders of the spine rival the frequency of low back pain. One such disorder, however, is neck pain. Just as low back pain often is accompanied by numbness or tingling in one or both legs, neck pain is often accompanied by these sensations in the arms. While many persons attribute these sensations to "circulation," they most often result from pinching or irritation of a spinal nerve. Several causes of numbness and tingling to the arms originate in the neck. Perhaps the most common is restriction of movement of a spinal joint. This may cause direct friction to the nerve root as it exits the spine or secondary muscle tightness, which can also produce nerve friction. Factors such as degeneration or thinning of the spinal discs narrow the nerve openings in the spine and predispose to nerve irritation. Those with disc thinning or degeneration, however, respond to treatment well if normal joint movement can be restored with manipulation. Dr. J. K. Paterson, a medical doctor from Great Britain, performed a large study on patients with spinal pain syndromes. Of the 364 patients studied with cervical spine or neck disorders, 115 reported numbness, tingling or pain in one or both arms. A complete relief of symptoms was obtained in 90 percent of the patients with neck disorders using chiropractic manipulation. Interestingly, although Dr. Paterson had a high rate of success with pain disorders in the lower spine, the success rate for neck pain and numbness to the arms was even higher. This group of patients seems ideally suited to chiropractic manipulation. Numbness or tingling in one or both arms is usually the result of a pinched or irritated nerve in the neck. Examination will reveal the cause and rule out "poor circulation." Chiropractic treatment is most often successful in resolving this condition and should be considered in anyone with these symptoms.
Ninety to ninety five percent of all headaches are headaches that originate from the neck. These types of headaches are often blamed on stress. The term cervicogenic headache means "headache originating from the neck." While headache is one of the most common disorders from which people suffer, a greater number of them are being found to be caused by disorders of the neck and upper spine. The neck, or cervical spine, is also one of the most overlooked areas as a causative factor in headaches. Nerves exit the spinal cord at each spinal level and pass over and between the joints and muscles of the spine. In the lower neck, these nerves exit and supply the sensation and muscle strength to the arms. Often when one of these nerves is irritated or pinched, the individual experiences pain and tingling in the arm. These same spinal nerves from the upper three spinal levels of the neck go over the skull and provide most of the sensation to the back and sides of the head, and to the forehead over the eyes. These nerves can be irritated by the same joint and muscle problems that, in the lower neck, cause pain and tingling in the arms. When the upper nerves are irritated, headache radiating from the back of the skull to the temple or over and behind one or both of the eyes may result. The most appropriate treatment for this type of headache is chiropractic manipulation. Several studies of this treatment for cervicogenic headache have been performed. Within two weeks of treatment, 85 percent have a significant reduction in the headaches.
Migraine & Cluster Headaches
Migraine headaches are one of the most common neurological disorders affecting approximately 15 percent of the population, or about 45 million Americans. It is a problem for which few people have found a "cure," and many have accepted as something with which they will have to live. This, however, may not be necessary. Although all of the factors causing migraine have not been discovered, one common cause is now better understood. Increasing evidence is showing that in susceptible individuals, nerves from the upper spine can be irritated by poor joint movement in the neck. These nerves connect to the trigeminal nucleus, a relay center for many of the nerves going to the head, and particularly its blood vessels. Dr. Michael Anthony, medical neurologist, states that this nerve irritation in the neck should be corrected before any drug therapy is tried. Chiropractic manipulation has long proven to be one of the most effective treatments for migraine. The most complete research study to date was funded by the Australian government and performed by a combined team of medical and chiropractic researchers at the University of New South Wales in Australia. This study found chiropractic treatment to provide more relief and more permanent cures for migraine than any other treatment tested. In a similar study in Canada, Dr. Howard Vernon, a prominent chiropractic researcher, reported similar results. Migraine subjects had, on an average, greater than 30 percent reduction in the frequency and duration of headaches and a 55 percent increase in activities that had previously been restricted by the headaches. Chiropractic treatment will bring relief for many patients needlessly suffering from migraine headaches. It does not have to be a problem that "you just have to live with."
Back Surgery After-Care
Approximately 180,000 back surgeries are performed each year in the United States. For some patients who have not responded to conservative treatment, surgery is often helpful in returning them to normal function. However, for an unfortunate number, back surgery is unsuccessful and leads to progressive pain and disability. Estimates are that as many as 40 percent of all back surgeries are unsuccessful. In a study of all the patients who had been admitted to the Johns Hopkins Pain Treatment Program, two thirds requiring this specialized program for chronic pain had back pain. Of those, the typical patient had had an average of three failed back surgeries. In another study, it was found that back surgery patients had the same number of symptoms and limitations of function four years after surgery as did patients who were not surgically treated. Because of the high numbers of patients still suffering from back and leg pain after back surgery, the continued search for other treatment exists. Unfortunately, many people believe that once they have had back surgery, they cannot be helped by chiropractic treatment. This, however, is untrue, with chiropractic treatment being an effective way to treat these patients. Researchers at the Low-Back Pain Clinic at the University of Saskatchewan evaluated the effectiveness of chiropractic manipulation on 283 chronic back pain patients. About 25 percent had had prior unsuccessful back surgery. These patients responded almost as well as those who had not had prior surgery. Over 70 percent were significantly improved with chiropractic treatment. Those patients who have had unsuccessful back surgery are good candidates for chiropractic treatment. Treatment can be effective for many of these patients, helping them return to a more pain free and active lifestyle.
Degenerative arthritis & Disk Degeneration
Degenerative arthritis of the spine is one of the most common disorders that occurs, limiting function in persons over 50 years of age. Approximately 300,000 persons over 65 years of age are limited in their activities because of it. If everyone lives long enough, so it has been said, everyone will get degenerative arthritis. Degenerative arthritis, however, does not have to mean a hopeless and ongoing painful condition. While degenerative arthritis of the spine cannot be cured, the pain that accompanies it can often be improved with chiropractic treatment. Older Americans have learned this and have a very high rate of usage of chiropractic services. Researchers at the University of Iowa School of Medicine in a study of spinal pain of the 65 and over population, found that 75 percent had sought chiropractic treatment. In male subjects, more had seen chiropractors than medical doctors. Chiropractic treatment seems to be effective for two reasons. The first is its ability to correct the spinal joint misalignments that are often the cause of pain. Degenerative arthritis weakens the spinal soft tissues that maintain joint alignment, causing frequent misalignments in these persons. The other reason chiropractic treatment is often helpful in degenerative arthritis is that it is effective in regulating spinal pain. In a study in the American Journal of Physical Medicine, researchers reported a 140 percent improvement in spinal pain tolerance following chiropractic manipulation. In a related study, chiropractic manipulation was also found to elevate circulating levels of endorphins, a powerful pain blocker released by the brain. For many suffering from degenerative arthritis of the spine, chiropractic treatment can provide relief. No one should "just have to live with it" until he/she has tried chiropractic.
Mid-Back. Shoulders, and Chest Pain
Pain in the back of the shoulder radiating around to the chest can be a worrisome problem. The first concern that most individuals have with this type of pain is that there may be a heart problem present. In the majority with this type of pain, however, a visit to the emergency room or to a family doctor will produce a diagnosis of "musculoskeletal pain." Although this relieves the anxiety concerning heart disease, these individuals are given little help in resolving this pain. Once it has been established that heart disease is not present, the diagnosis of musculoskeletal pain should lead to appropriate treatment. Chiropractic manipulation is proving to be the most effective treatment for this common complaint. In 71 patients at St. Georges Hospital in London, manipulation was tested in the treatment of shoulder and chest pain. All patients had originally been seen for suspected heart disease, but proved to have pain originating from the spine. Manipulation completely relieved the pain in 78 percent of the patients and at least partially helped another 16 percent. In total, 94 percent were helped with this treatment. These researchers explained this type of pain as originating from irritation of the nerves in the mid and upper spine that also supply the back of the shoulder and the chest wall. They also stated that this type of pain is the third most common cause of chest pain in those seen at coronary care units behind only heart attacks and angina. Many individuals with pain in the back of the shoulder radiating to the chest will prove to have a spinal joint problem rather than a heart problem. Chiropractic manipulation has proven to be effective for this condition and should be the first choice in treatment.
Scoliosis affects from two to five percent of the population and usually begins between ages 10 and 12 years. Because it causes no symptoms in its early stages, it is often not obvious to the child who has it. However, because it can cause serious complications if it is allowed to progress or increase, it should be detected early when treatment is the least difficult and the most successful. All children 10 to 12 years old should be examined for scoliosis. At present, the exact cause of scoliosis is not known. It appears to occur when a child begins to grow quickly in height and the body's balance or straightening mechanism develops too slowly. At this critical time during growth, the spinal balancing or straightening mechanisms just seem to be overwhelmed in some children. The treatment of scoliosis has involved a "wait and see" policy because few early treatment options have been available. In the later stages, spinal bracing and surgery are the two common treatments. Chiropractic treatment, however, offers a good alternative in the earlier stages of scoliosis when the disorder is most correctable. Many cases can be stabilized, avoiding the need for bracing or surgery. Indications that scoliosis may be developing are uneven heights of the shoulders, unevenness of the back surface from side to side, or unevenness of the ribs in the front or on the side. All children should have a periodic screening examination for scoliosis, particularly if any of the above indications are observed. Adult scoliosis presents a unique problem. Perhaps the most common difficulty adults face with scoliosis is that of back pain. It is both extremely common and difficult to treat in adults. Chiropractic manipulation has been shown to be one of the most effective treatments for back pain. It may offer ongoing relief for the disabling back pain that can occur in adults with scoliosis. Early detection and treatment of scoliosis is the best way to control this problem, preventing the need for more drastic treatments in many cases.
Fibromyalgia, meaning pain in the tendons and ligaments (fibrous tissue) and muscles, is not specifically a disease but rather a grouping of symptoms. Cases of fibromyalgia symptoms have been documented for at least the past century, but it was only in 1990 that specific criteria for the diagnosis of fibromyalgia were developed, and in 1992 the World Health Organization added fibromyalgia to its classification of diseases. Researchers nor doctors know what causes fibromyalgia; therefore, there is no known cure. Some patients report having had an illness (viral, bacterial, or parasitic infection) or some kind of trauma, like a car accident, prior to the onset of symptoms. But because this is not true of all sufferers, it cannot be the only cause. There are specific symptoms, namely achiness and pain "all over the body" and at least 11 of 18 tender points (areas that when touched cause pain) that must be present to accurately diagnose fibromyalgia. There are treatment methods that may offer some relief from pain and other symptoms. Research and experience have found that spinal manipulation, adjustments, exercise, dietary changes, nutritional enhancement, postural changes, physical therapies (heat, ice, light massage, etc.), and stress management can improve symptoms. And this is what makes the Doctor of Chiropractic an excellent choice for the management of fibromyalgia. Reduction of muscle tension, reduction of stress, correction of postural dysfunction-these and other reasons are why manipulation can be effective for fibromyalgia symptom control. Chiropractic can provide you with non-invasive method of symptom control.
Carpal tunnel syndrome
Your carpal (wrist) bones form a tunnel-like structure-the carpal tunnel-through which pass nine tendons and one nerve-the median nerve. CTS occurs when the median nerve is irritated. CTS is so common it's been called the "occupational disease of the 1990s." Surgery may be resorted to with hand surgeons performing 100,000 operations a year for CTS. Recovery from such surgery may take from six months to ten years. The limitations of standard medical care led the late Robert Mendoelsohn, M.D., to state, "Since the medical treatment for this condition is so often unsatisfactory, I have for years been recommending that my patients consult experts in muscle and joint therapy such as chiropractors." The relationship between spinal health and carpal tunnel has been documented by a number of individuals that have found spinal nerve root irritation in patients who had carpal tunnel or ulnar neuropathy. Not surprisingly, when 1,000 cases of carpal tunnel syndrome were investigated, it was found that a large number of those suffering from CTS also had neck arthritis. Anyone suffering from CTS should see a chiropractor to ensure that his/her spinal column, as well as the wrist bones, is free from nerve pressure between the arms and wrists and the nerves in the neck. In light of what is known about CTS, anyone suffering from it should see a chiropractor to ensure that his/her spine and wrists are free of nerve irritation. A chiropractic adjustment may make the difference between a pain-free wrist or surgery. Millions of people now suffer from CTS and increasing numbers of them are seeking chiropractic care. The chiropractic process of relieving irritation in the spine and extremities yields great results.
This fascinating joint connects your jaw to your head. Ligaments, cartilage, fascia, an articular disc, muscles, nerves and blood vessels run in, around, and through the TMJ. TMJ dysfunction or syndrome occurs when the joint is misaligned or malfunctioning in someway that subjects it to excess pressure. Among the most common symptoms of TMJ dysfunction are the inability to open the mouth wide and clicking or popping sound with pain when the mouth opens or closes. Other TMJ symptoms can be severe headaches; loss of hearing; tinnitus (ringing in the ears); the sensation of an object in the throat; facial swelling; shoulder, cheek or jaw joint pain; neck ache; and dizziness. A properly aligned spine helps the TM joint. Spinal and TMJ problems are often found together. Chiropractic care, especially in the area of the upper cervical spine and skull, often relieves pressure on the spine and cranial bones. Forward head posture often leads to excess stress on the TMJ joint; therefore, chiropractic care often gets excellent results in relieving TMJ symptoms. Often a chiropractic spinal adjustment can greatly benefit someone suffering from what had been thought to be only a TMJ problem. Conversely, an unhealthy skull/jaw alignment can put great stress upon the spinal column. There are documented cases of dental problems that, once corrected, have helped chiropractic patients to better hold their spinal adjustments. Sitting in a dentist's chair and keeping your jaw, head, neck and lower spine in an unnatural or uncomfortable position can cause TMJ and spinal damage. It is; therefore, strongly recommended that if you undergo dental care, follow it up with a visit to your chiropractor.
Whiplash injury is a common problem in our modern society, and unfortunately, one that often results in chronic pain and suffering. As we become more urbanized, packing greater numbers of people into smaller areas, and as the number of cars per household increases, whiplash injuries will continue to become more frequent. Standard treatment recommendations include pain medication, a neck collar and rest. However, with this typical treatment program, many patients continue to suffer. Adequate treatment methods for these injuries have lagged behind the great increases in their occurrence. Chiropractic, in contrast to most other treatments, has done well over the years treating whiplash injuries, helping prevent many injuries from becoming chronic, and helping to reduce pain and suffering in many that have become chronic. Because of this record of success with the treatment of whiplash injuries, researchers have begun to study chiropractic treatment methods. Recently, a group of medical researchers compared a chiropractic treatment with that of medication and rest. Sixty-one patients seen at the emergency room for whiplash injury were divided into two groups to receive these two different treatments. The group receiving manipulation had greater reduction of pain and return of movement than did the group treated with medication, rest and neck collars. These results led the researchers to conclude that whiplash is better treated with early active treatment like chiropractic. Many people suffering from whiplash injury could avoid prolonged or permanent pain and suffering by receiving chiropractic care.
Sports Related Iniuries
Growing numbers of persons are becoming more athletic and exercise-minded. With the increased awareness of the preventative effect of regular exercise and the participation in sports against a wide variety of health problems such as heart disease, this increased participation will continue. An age-old side effect of sports and exercise, however, are exercise-related injuries. Most doctors see more exercise-related injuries than ever before. The increase in injuries associated with sport and exercise, however, should be kept in perspective. Most injuries are treatable, many are preventable, and the benefits of exercise almost always outweigh the negative side of injury. While the preventative effects of regular exercise on the cardiovascular system are well-known, similar positive effects on the joints and muscles have been documented. In a study at Stanford University School of Medicine, runners were found to have significantly less disability associated with joint disorders than did non-runners. The nature of treatment of sport-and exercise-related injury is changing. One of the most significant changes in recent years is the emergence of chiropractors as important providers of care to the injured athletes and exercisers. A recent issue of the medical journal Clinics in Sports Medicine attributes the increased interest in chiropractic treatment for athletes to the high incidence of spinal injuries in sports and exercise and the success reported by many athletes with this type of treatment. The goal should be for all persons to participate in sports or exercise on a regular basis. However, a side effect of this goal will be injuries, and commonly, they will be to the spine. Chiropractic treatment is often very effective to the injured athlete, returning many to their previous participation level.
Dizziness can be both an annoying and puzzling symptom. Many disorders can cause dizziness, from ear infections to disorders of circulation. However, an often overlooked cause is joint misalignment or dysfunction" in the neck. Dizziness that originates from the neck comes from nerve receptors in the spinal joints called "proprioceptors." These nerve endings sense the position of the spine and help the inner ear coordinate overall posture and balance. Just as disturbance of the inner ear from infection can cause dizziness, over stimulation of the proprioceptive nerve endings in the neck from joint dysfunction can cause the same symptoms. In patients who had dizziness that came from the neck, researchers had an approximate 80 percent success rate treating these patients with spinal manipulation or adjustments. They concluded that joint dysfunction in the neck is a common cause of headache in the upper neck and the back of the head, and that in some patients, this will be accompanied by dizziness. They further concluded that spinal manipulation or adjustments are an effective means of resolving these symptoms in many patients. Anyone who has had dizziness, particularly if it is accompanied by pain in the upper neck and headache over the back of the skull, should have a chiropractic evaluation for joint dysfunction in the neck. The cause of these symptoms will be found in many cases, and chiropractic treatment will bring relief to many sufferers.
Many women find their labor shorter and experience less discomfort if they have received chiropractic care. Chiropractic care can quite helpful during all stages of pregnancy. As the center of gravity changes, so does the stress to the spine. This period of rapid development, hormonal changes, the laxity of connective ligaments, and shifting of weight-bearing structures may cause many pregnant women to experience low back pain, midback pain, neck pain and pain or numbness down the legs. Chiropractic care can be quite helpful. Besides helping to relieve the discomfort many expectant mothers experience, chiropractic care helps normalize nervous system function. This is an important component of overall good health. The benefits of chiropractic care may also be noticed during delivery. Many chiropractic patients report that their deliveries were faster and more comfortable than deliveries previous to chiropractic care. Your Doctor of Chiropractic will take special precautions with you during your pregnancy. Modified approaches can make chiropractic adjustments for pregnant moms easy and comfortable. Modifications to the table or adjusting techniques are made during each stage of pregnancy. Pamper yourself and your baby with regular chiropractic checkups. Women who give up smoking, eat healthy foods, and avoid alcohol during their pregnancies are to be congratulated. Those receiving prenatal chiropractic checkups demonstrate even more concern for their still developing babies.