Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Chiropractic for Knee Pain

Knee pain is one of the most common orthopedic ailments treated by chiropractors. The knee takes a huge amount of stress, as it is built only to bend in one direction; however, many movements we make force the knee to bend slightly in other directions, along with having to support the weight of the body, which can lead to knee pain and injury. It is quite easy to damage the tendons, ligaments, meniscus (knee cartilage) and bones that comprise the knee, and this damage can take months to recover from.

Having chronic knee pain can seriously interfere with your life, making it difficult to do the simplest everyday things such as walking up and down stairs, grocery shopping or even just walking across the room. Knee pain can be chronic (i.e. stemming from osteoarthritis, degenerative joint disease, etc.) or acute (i.e. stemming from an accident, sports injury, etc.) Whether due to previous injury, increased body weight or just living longer, degenerative knee pain and is a condition that is becoming much more common in people over age 50, and the chronic pain, swelling and inflammation can put you at higher risk of arthritis.

Hyperpronation (putting most of your weight on the outsides of your feet as you walk) can be a cause of knee pain. You may be able to determine if you are hyperpronating by examining the heels of your shoes. If they are excessively worn on the outsides, this is likely due to hyperpronation, and you may want to look into getting special foot supports to correct this problem.

While injury to the knee itself is quite common, some people are not aware of the fact that sometimes the pain in their knee may not be due to a knee injury, but is actually referred pain from an irritated nerve in the lower back area of the spinal column. Many with pain in their knees report also having pain in their lower back and pelvis, which may be due to inflammation around the nerves connecting the knee to the spinal cord.
While pain medication or cortisone shots may provide temporary pain relief, they do not address the root cause of the problem, and long-term use of either of these medications is not recommended. However, a qualified chiropractor can evaluate your condition and provide safe, holistic treatment that doesn’t involve the use of drugs or surgery.

Chiropractic treatment may involve spinal adjustments, joint manipulation, stretches, exercises and advice on footwear or orthotics that will address the cause of your knee pain and start you on the road to healing.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Chiropractic and Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is an illness characterized by low-density bone structure. All bones contain small holes as part of their normal structure, but osteoporotic bones are thinner and have much larger cavities. This reduced bone mineral density (BMD) puts patients at much greater risk of fractures, as the skeleton becomes less able to bear weight. 

Fractures may be non-symptomatic but can also lead to chronic pain and disability. Vertebral fractures of the spine are among the most serious, as they can result in stooping, back pain and a profound loss of mobility. Hip fractures may also have grave consequences, including being unable to walk and greatly increasing chance of death in the years following a fracture due to pneumonia or deep vein thrombosis.

Bones are constantly undergoing a process of breakdown and reform. Osteoporosis may be caused by any of three factors: insufficient bone reformation, over-rapid breakdown (resorption), or inadequate early formation of the skeleton. Since estrogen suppresses bone resorption, it is not surprising that osteoporosis is commonly found in post-menopausal women, as the drop in estrogen levels that occur with menopause allows the breakdown process to occur unhindered. Although the condition is most common in older women, one fifth of osteoporosis patients are men and some cases affect younger people. The National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF) estimates that 44 million Americans are affected by this disease, including over half of all people over the age of 50.

As it is a common misconception that spinal manipulation will further damage already fragile bones, many patients with osteoporosis are wary of seeking chiropractic treatment. Although it is certainly true that treatment may need to be modified, there is much that chiropractors can do to both manage and prevent the further progression of osteoporosis. Spinal compression is one of the more common symptoms that chiropractors treat, and they are knowledgeable in both diagnosing osteoporosis and offering advice on how to reduce the risk of fractures. 

Those with osteoporosis are not powerless in helping to slow the progression of their condition. Exercise in particular is very helpful in increasing the strength of the spine. However, it is all too easy to get into a negative cycle of exercising less once pain and mobility problems begin, with pain on movement taken as a sign to move less rather than more. Chiropractic treatment is helpful in breaking this cycle by supporting osteoporotic patients in using carefully chosen exercises, giving advice on posture and providing much-needed encouragement and psychological support. Osteoporosis is also known to be greatly affected by diet and lifestyle choices such smoking and alcohol consumption. Chiropractors are able to provide a wealth of advice in this area to give patients the best possible prognosis for their condition.

If you have been diagnosed with osteoporosis or have bones that break or fracture easily, chiropractic treatment may be a good option for your care. Even better than waiting until diagnosis, though, is to have regular chiropractic care throughout your adult life. Keeping young bones healthy is the best way of preventing osteoporosis from occurring at all, in addition to keeping you mobile well into later life.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Benefits of Combining Chiropractic Care and Acupuncture

Both chiropractic care and acupuncture share the view that chronic pain and many injuries can be successfully treated without having to resort to drugs or surgery, treating the patient holistically. Each healing modality has its own benefits, but the two work together in a complementary and synergistic manner.

Acupuncture is a natural healing method that originated in China many thousands of years ago and is one of the central aspects of Traditional Chinese Medicine. The theory behind the practice is that energy travels through the body along what are called “meridians,” and these meridians periodically become blocked, leading to pain, tiredness and often illness. The acupuncturist uses whisker-thin needles to insert through the skin at important meridian points that correspond to the patient’s problem, releasing blocked energy and allowing it to flow again. The needles are so thin that their insertion can barely be felt most of the time.

Contemporary medicine has acknowledged the usefulness of acupuncture in the treatment of pain, and several peer-reviewed medical studies have proven its effectiveness. It is believed that the needles trigger the nervous system to release pain relieving and healing chemicals into the muscles, brain and spinal cord. The World Health Organization finds acupuncture to be useful in treating a wide variety of conditions, including neurological and muscular disorders such as headache, low back pain, fibromyalgia, tendinitis, sciatica and osteoarthritis; respiratory problems such as asthma, bronchitis and chest infections; gastric disorders such as gastritis, diarrhea, constipation and spastic colon; and problems with the urinary and reproductive systems.

Chiropractic treatment works in a similar manner, using chiropractic adjustments to align a misaligned spine, which may be interfering with the proper transmission of nerve impulses throughout the body. The spinal cord is considered the main conduit through which all the body’s regulatory and pain signals flow, and when the vertebrae move out of place due to stress, muscle tension or injury, the body does not function properly and pain is a common result.

An acupuncture treatment can be useful when receiving chiropractic care, as it helps to reduce pain signals to a tolerable level, relaxes your muscles and increases blood flow to speed healing so that your chiropractor can more easily perform therapeutic alignments and manipulations to your spine and joints, avoiding the necessity of resorting to pain-killers or other pharmaceuticals.

Salt Lake City Chiropractors who also practice acupuncture should have certification from the American Board of Chiropractic Acupuncture. This certifies that the chiropractor has completed 300 hours of training in acupuncture from an approved college and passed the board’s written and practical exams. 

As acupuncture has been proven to be effective in treating chronic back pain and other musculoskeletal problems, which are also the most common problems treated by chiropractors, the two healing modalities work well together to help make pain a thing of the past.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Benefits of Combining Chiropractic Care and Massage Therapy

Chiropractic is based on the belief that your body can keep itself healthy if your spine, neck, and head are properly aligned and healthy. Murray Utah Chiropractors work with spinal structures, correcting abnormalities or injuries to speed healing of nerve, joint and muscular problems that arise from the misaligned bones. But the spine is also surrounded by soft tissue – muscle and tendons that control the movement and flexibility of the spine, and may either cause or exacerbate the structural problems. "Tight" muscles or torn ligaments can prolong spinal problems and postpone healing. Massage therapy can be useful in relieving these kinds of soft tissue problems.

In the simplest terms, chiropractors work with bones and massage therapists work with muscles. But as treatment modalities, they are both compatible and complementary. Massage is often recommended along with chiropractic treatment, either before an adjustment or afterwards, as part of a longer treatment regimen. This combination of treatments often produces much more effective results, and much faster healing in the patient. One of the reasons for this is that both chiropractic and massage share a similar goal – helping you to achieve a state of total well-being, not simply relief from immediate symptoms.

Massage is often recommended as a preparation for a chiropractic adjustment because it relieves the muscle tension that may be pulling joints out of alignment and makes it easier to move them back into place. Massage is also relaxing, and a relaxed body is easier for the chiropractor to work with. In addition, as the chiropractor corrects the structural problems that are causing pain or limiting your mobility, massage can complement the healing process by stretching and relaxing muscles that have been aggravated by these structural problems, making it easier for you to stretch and exercise, and thus more quickly achieve a state of normal well-being.

Many chiropractors work hand-in-hand with massage therapists because their treatment modalities are so complementary. Patients who sought relief from massage therapists for pain, but find that it persists, may often be helped by receiving chiropractic adjustments. Chiropractic patients often find that their treatment proceeds faster and with less discomfort when the soft tissue has been relaxed with massage. Recovery – especially from conditions that cause pain – is normally faster and more complete when multiple components of that pain are addressed simultaneously, the chiropractor working to resolve the structural problems and the massage therapist working to resolve the soft tissue problems. Most chiropractors and massage therapists who work together collaborate to find the proper combination of chiropractic adjustments and massage to get you back to a feeling of health and well-being as quickly as possible.

Both chiropractic and massage therapy are holistic treatment modalities because they share a common goal of treating the whole body, helping you to achieve this state of well-being without drugs or surgery. Both focus on trying to resolve the underlying cause of your pain or discomfort rather than treating isolated symptoms. When they are used in combination, a synergy occurs that is often far more effective than either approach on its own.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Can Hormones Given to Cattle Affect Human Health?

Almost all conventionally raised cattle in the U.S. and Canada are given hormones, in the form of anabolic steroids, in order to encourage faster growth, a practice that has been going on since 1956. This practice is used by the beef and dairy industry in order to increase profits. On average, for beef it adds about 40 to 50 extra pounds to the weight of a steer at the time of slaughter, for a greater profit of approximately $25. Artificial hormones are also commonly used in milk production, where recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rGBH) or recombinant bovine somatotrophin (rBST) is used to increase milk production in cows by 10 to 15 percent.

However, this practice is banned in several countries, including all countries in the European Union, due to the potential risk to human health in those who eat meat or drink milk from hormone-treated animals. Several studies point to the disturbing effects these hormones have on the human endocrine system, including links to the early onset of puberty in girls, lower sperm quality in males and increased risk of cancer.

Despite the FDA’s claims that the level of hormones used in the production of beef and milk do not adversely affect human health, there is evidence to suggest otherwise. The FDA claim of safety is based on a single study conducted by Monsanto (the corporation that produced the hormone) in which rGBH was tested on 90 rats for 30 days with no apparent problems. 

Interestingly, this study was never published or formally peer-reviewed. In the late 1990s, scientists working for Health Canada (the Canadian government’s equivalent of the FDA) sparked controversy when they investigated both the complete Monsanto study and the way its findings were applied by the FDA in its approval process.  They found that, while the underlying data in no way proved that rGBH poses a hazard to human health, the data should have raised enough concern to trigger a full human health review prior to the FDA giving approval for the hormone’s use.

After an animal is slaughtered, measurable levels of hormones can be found in the muscle, fat and organ meats, such as the liver and kidneys. One example of the significant impact on those who eat meat and drink milk from conventionally raised animals on a regular basis can be seen in a 2007 study comparing the sperm quality of men whose mothers consumed beef during pregnancy. Mothers with high beef consumption during pregnancy (more than 7 meals per week) had adult sons who were three times more likely to have sperm concentrations in the sub-fertility range than the mothers who were in the low beef consumption group (fewer than 7 beef meals per week).

Another issue gaining greater prominence is the increasingly early onset of puberty in girls. The average age of first menstruation in 1900 was 14. Today that age is 12 ½. Hormone residues in meat and milk, such as estrogen, are thought to be the culprits. And the longer that estrogen exists in the body, and the higher the levels, the greater the risk of breast cancer.
It has also been shown that the hormones consumed in meat products stimulate the production of insulin-like growth factor (IGF) in the body, which increases the risk of prostate cancer by 50 percent and premenopausal breast cancer by 65 percent, not to mention causing an increased risk of other cancers.

If you enjoy eating meat and dairy, the simplest way to avoid consuming these harmful hormones is to buy organic products. Organic meat and milk comes from animals that have not been treated with hormones or antibiotics, allowing you to enjoy your meal without worrying about hormone dangers.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Should You Get a Carbon Monoxide Detector for Your Home?

Most homes have smoke detectors to warn of the smoke created by flames or smoldering fires. In many communities their use is mandated. However, the danger from fire is actually fairly easy to detect; smoke is visible, and you can smell it. What if there was a poisonous gas in your home that was colorless, tasteless, odorless and incredibly deadly? Would you know it was there?

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a gas produced by fuel that has not been completely burned. Anything that burns oil-based or solid fuels can produce carbon monoxide.  Potential sources include ovens, furnaces, boilers, camp stoves, freestanding cookers, generators, gas heaters or water heaters, space heaters, fireplaces or cars.  In the wrong circumstances (such as those involving improper installation, poor maintenance, misuse, or inadequate ventilation), all of these common devices can put your family at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. CO is often referred to as the "silent killer" because it is undetectable and because victims don't realize that they are being poisoned.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 15,000 people are treated each year for non-fire-related carbon monoxide poisoning, and 500 of them die. Many of these poisonings or deaths occur as the result of improperly installed or badly maintained consumer devices in the home. Some of these could have been prevented by following common-sense guidelines such as having all of your potentially CO-generating appliances serviced yearly by competent technicians. And almost all of them could have been prevented by the installation of a carbon monoxide detector that costs less than what you might pay to take your family out to an evening at the movies.

Carbon monoxide detectors are designed to measure the levels of CO in the air over time, and to sound an alarm before it reaches a dangerous level. Smoke detectors cannot do this. All CO detectors must meet rigorous safety standards, are reliable and last for many years.

If you decide to invest in carbon monoxide detectors for your home, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends that one CO detector should be installed in the hallway outside each of the sleeping areas of your home. They do not recommend installing them in kitchens, near heating vents or above fuel-burning appliances. Detectors can be battery powered or plugged into an electrical outlet, but even the hard-wired detectors should have battery backup to protect you in case of a loss of power. Follow the manufacturer's instructions carefully during installation. If your carbon monoxide detector sounds an alarm, evacuate your home immediately and call 911. If you feel dizzy, light-headed or nauseous, seek immediate medical attention.

Given their low cost, most health and safety experts consider carbon monoxide detectors a wise investment in your family's safety.

About the Author:

Dr. Matt Ramirez graduated with a degree in Bachelor of Human Biology in 2004 and received his Doctor of Chiropractic Degree in 2006. He specializes in auto injury recovery and rehabilitation and has enhanced and improved thousands of lives as well as treated people of all ages over the years. He is also an expert in health and wellness, massage therapy, chiropractic care, and more...If you are looking for a Chiropractor in Salt Lake City, Dr. Matt is the best. Click here to know more about him

Friday, 18 January 2013

Health Tips for Office Workers

Numerous studies have proven that the sedentary lifestyle of typical office workers is hazardous to their health. The biggest problem seems to be sitting for long periods of time, often without a break. One study conducted in 2010 indicated that "men who reported more than 23 hours a week of sedentary activity had a 64 percent greater risk of dying from heart disease than those who reported fewer than 11 hours a week of sedentary activity." And yet the nature of office work is essentially sedentary. What can you do to make it less so, and thus improve your health? This article lists a number of suggestions that can help.

  • Eat breakfast. Studies have shown that workers who eat breakfast have better concentration than those who only drink coffee in the mornings. In addition, those who eat breakfast tend to eat less during the day than those who do not, and thus more easily avoid gaining weight.

  • Bike or walk to work. If you live close to work, this can provide much of the exercise you need each week, and you arrive at work feeling more energized and having been exposed to fresh air. If you take public transportation to work, consider getting off one or two stops earlier, and walking the rest of the way.

  • Take frequent short breaks. Even if you take a longer break for lunch or to go to the gym, sitting for long, uninterrupted periods of time can still be hazardous. Studies have shown that taking micro-breaks (getting up from your desk and moving around every 15 minutes or so) can be more valuable than taking a longer break only once a day.

  • Use the stairs. Why ride in a stuffy box when you could get a little healthful exercise?

  • Drink lots of water. Experts recommend you drink 4 to 6 glasses a day to keep yourself hydrated and healthy. If you have to get up to refill your glass from the drinking fountain or the refrigerator, that'll also provide an opportunity for another micro-break.

  • Don't forget about fresh air. Offices can often be stuffy and under-ventilated.  If possible, open a window near your desk. If not, be sure to take occasional breaks outside the building, even if only for short periods of time.

  • Bring a healthy lunch and snacks from home. Rather than eating in the cafeteria, make a healthy lunch at home and sit outside when eating it. Instead of eating sugary snacks from vending machines, bring fruit and nuts and snack on them.

  • Think ergonomically. Adjust your chair to fit your body and sit with your feet flat on the floor. Position your computer monitor at eye level and your keyboard at elbow level, so that your wrists are straight when you type. Move your whole arm when you use the mouse, not just your wrist.

  • Stretch at your desk. You may not be able to jog or do push-ups at your desk, but you can certainly stretch and release tension from your arms, neck, shoulders, and fingers.

  • Exercise before you go home. After a long day at work, many people get home and just want to sit down on the couch and relax. If you are a member of a gym or jog regularly, doing this directly after work will improve the likelihood that you'll actually exercise.

 About The Author:

Dr. Matt Ramirez graduated with a degree in Bachelor of Human Biology in 2004 and received his Doctor of Chiropractic Degree in 2006. He specializes in auto injury recovery and rehabilitation and has enhanced and improved thousands of lives as well as treated people of all ages over the years. He is also an expert in health and wellness, massage therapy, chiropractic care, and more... Dr. Matt is your trusted Chiropractic Salt Lake City. Visit his website at

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

What Causes Muscle Knots and How to Get Rid of Them

Most people are intimately familiar with muscle knots, which are more formally known as myofascial trigger points. Muscle knots happen when a muscle contracts around a hyper irritable spot and will not release, causing hard nodules or bands to form, along with tenderness, stiffness and pain. These trigger points may also be the source of referred pain, which is when the pain felt in one part of the body is actually being caused by a trigger point elsewhere.

While the exact cause of muscle knots is not yet known, they most often appear when an individual is under stress, either physical or psychological. Chronic or sudden muscle strain, injuries, accidents, infections, being sedentary and smoking are also some leading causes. 

They involve just a small area of muscle tissue that continually contracts. Though the area is small, it can radiate pain to larger areas, even to areas that contain no muscle—such as the joints—as the contracting muscle may pull on tendons and ligaments in a joint area. In some cases this may make it feel as though the pain is originating in the joint.

Muscle knots will often appear after a muscle spasm, and those knots then create a muscle spasm elsewhere, leading to more knots, in a sort of endless loop. A contracted muscle reduces the blood supply to the area, creating an even greater problem, since muscles deprived of oxygen-rich blood create lactic acid, which irritates the nerves and adds to the feeling of soreness in the muscle. You will probably find that your particular trigger points are always located in the same places, such as one point in your shoulder that always seems to be knotted when you are under stress.

Muscle knots can be a key cause of headaches, neck and back pain. A trigger point map can show you the more than 600 different trigger points on the body, which everyone has in the same location, whether they are active or latent.

To help avoid the formation of knotted muscles, there are a few things you can do. Relaxation is important, and learning how to better manage stress can help a lot. Learning some breathing techniques is useful in handling stress, as are meditation and exercise. Also, be sure you drink enough water, as it can flush out the toxins that tend to accumulate in the muscles. Nutrition can help too—getting sufficient amounts of potassium and calcium in your diet is essential for the health of your muscles. Eat a banana once in a while to get a good supply of potassium, and if you eat a lot of green leafy vegetables, you can be sure to get enough calcium.

Stretching and yoga are both helpful in keeping muscles limber and stretched so they are less likely to spasm and knot up. Many chiropractors and massage therapists are also trained in trigger point therapy and specialize in relieving knotted muscles. This means they can help you can break the cycle of muscle knots and spasms, allowing you to proceed through your day pain-free.

About the Author:

Dr. Matt Ramirez graduated with a degree in Bachelor of Human Biology in 2004 and received his Doctor of Chiropractic Degree in 2006. If you are looking for a massage therapist Salt Lake City, Dr. Matt is the one. He also specializes in auto injury recovery and rehabilitation and has enhanced and improved thousands of lives as well as treated people of all ages over the years. He is also an expert in health and wellness, massage therapy, chiropractic care, and more...

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

How Chiropractors Can Help with Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis (pronounced “plan-tar fash-ee-EYE-tis), also sometimes known as a heel spur, can be a debilitating condition that makes walking even a short distance a painful prospect. The pain, ranging from mild to severe, is centered around the bottom of the heel, usually toward the front, though it may also extend across the entire bottom of the foot. It is most often noticeable first thing in the morning when you get out of bed and walk a few steps, or when you stand up after sitting for a length of time.

Healing usually takes time.  However, there are some things you can do to help ease the pain and speed the healing process.  These include making a visit to your chiropractor.

There are a number of causes that contribute to plantar fasciitis, the main ones being:

-Standing for long periods of time
-Wearing shoes with little support
-Having flat feet
-Having exceptionally high arches
-Being overweight
-A sudden increase in activity
-Repetitive stress
-Tight calf muscles
-Overpronation (walking on the outsides of your feet)

The plantar fascia extends from the heel bone to the base of the toes, and when it becomes inflamed due to one of the above conditions, pain and bone spurs can result. The muscles in the foot may also be involved, especially if the pain occurs after long periods of standing or from chronic overwork, which causes the muscles to shorten, making them less resilient and liable to tear.

There are a few things you can do yourself at home. The first thing is to rest the foot as much as possible. Applying ice to the area can help reduce the inflammation, as can taking an anti-inflammatory such as ibuprofen. Many people with plantar fasciitis find it helpful to wear Birkenstocks or other shoes that have good arch support. In the long-term, however, you’ll want to address the cause of the problem, and your chiropractor can help in that regard.

Qualified chiropractors are experts at treating musculoskeletal problems.  To treat plantar fasciitis your chiropractor may utilize a range of therapies, including manpipulation, stretching, ultrasound and soft tissue work.  They can also recommend orthotics and useful exercises you can do at home to gently stretch tight muscles and tendons. Since one common cause of plantar fasciitis is overpronation, a series of chiropractic adjustments can ensure your bones are properly aligned, allowing for greater range of motion and helping to take some of the strain off the overworked muscles in your feet.

Healing plantar fasciitis is a slow process that may take weeks or months, but with good chiropractic care and proper shoes, it does not have to become a chronic condition.

Monday, 14 January 2013

Benefits of Electronic Health Records for the Average Patient

Despite the concern some people have about to privacy, electronic health records provide many benefits for the average patient. The US government has advocated the move to electronic record keeping for both economic and practical reasons, as it is more efficient and helps reduce the likelihood of medical errors. Following are a few of their main benefits.

All your health information is kept in one place and is easily accessible. If you either switch doctors or are traveling and need to see a physician in a different part of the country, your medical records don’t have to be sent from one place to another.

It keeps you from having to repeatedly fill out the same information. How many times have you had to fill out the same basic form to communicate your health history to different medical professionals? With your health history being kept in one place, you don’t have to remember every single procedure and medication you’ve had every time you see a new doctor.

It reduces the likelihood of medical errors. An electronic record eliminates the possibility of forgetting about a drug or procedure you had that may influence your current doctor’s prescription. A recent study found that hospitals that had an efficient electronic records system had far healthier patients with fewer medical complications and deaths. This not only saves time and money—it saves lives too.

You have access to your own records online at any time. Being able to see your health history can be very useful. With electronic health records, you can keep track of things over time.  This might include such useful information as your blood pressure measurements, cholesterol levels, weight and other important factors related to your health.

Prescriptions can be submitted electronically. If you’ve ever looked at the prescription your doctor wrote for your pharmacist, you will probably agree it’s a miracle you ever receive the right medication, based on the illegible scribble on the small piece of paper your doctor has provided. (Do doctors take special classes in bad penmanship?) Electronic prescriptions cannot be lost or misread. An electronic system can also check for drug interactions, so you will be less likely to suffer a bad reaction from two incompatible drugs.

They assist in prevention of illness. A Harvard Medical School study found that patients who were automatically sent reminders for colorectal cancer screenings based on their electronic records were more likely to have a screening done than those whose doctors kept conventional records.

Your medical information can be accessed quickly in an emergency. If an accident or catastrophic event occurs, such as what happened during hurricane Katrina, your important health information can be located. This is especially important if you are incapacitated and unable to tell the attending physician things such as your blood type, medications you are taking, etc.

These are just a few of the benefits that electronic health records provide to the average patient. They also benefit medical science, as such a huge medical database allows for the statistical analysis of drugs and their effects, much in the same way that a large-scale clinical trial does. All in all, the benefits of this system far outweigh any possible risks to you and your family.

Friday, 11 January 2013

Anatomy of the Neck: An Introduction to Your Cervical Spine

The human spinal column is divided into three parts, based on its curvature and the anatomy of the spinal vertebrae. These are known as the cervical (upper) spine, the thoracic (middle) spine, and the lumbar (lower) spine. Of these sections, the cervical spine consists of the seven vertebrae of the neck (named C1-C7 for convenience with C1 located uppermost). The thoracic region has twelve vertebrae (T1-T12) and the lumbar five (L1-L5). 

The cervical spine is the first part of the spinal vertebrae to bear the weight of the skull, and is also responsible for allowing the movement of the head and neck as well as protecting the nerves of the upper spinal column. The cervical vertebrae are smaller and lighter than the other parts of the spinal skeleton to allow for the ease of movement required in this portion of the back. The remainder of the spine is much less flexible than the cervical region, as the lower back is built more for support than to provide a wide range of motion. Whereas the ability for the head and neck to move is clearly advantageous for human vision and communication, it does leave this area more likely to be prone to injuries such as whiplash, which occurs through violent movement of the neck and head, causing overextension of spinal ligaments in that area.

C1, the uppermost vertebra of the spinal column, is also known as the atlas, since the weight of the skull rests upon it, as the world is said to on the Greek titan of the same name. C2 is called the axis, as it is the pivot on which the C1 vertebra rotates, allowing you to turn your head from side to side. Forward and backward movement (nodding) of the head occurs between the bones of the atlas and base of the skull (occipital bone). Rotation (turning) the head mainly involves the atlas and axis (C1 and C2) vertebrae with a small amount of movement occurring lower down in the spine.

The next four cervical vertebrae, C3 to C6, are relatively similar in size and structure being broader laterally than from back to front, and having two bones which meet to form what’s called the spinous process to the rear (the knobbly parts which can be seen on a person‘s back). Protruding upper ‘lips’ from the main body of the bone fit into the concave lower surface of the vertebra immediately above.   

C7 is known as the vertebra prominens on account of its large spinous process. In some cases, this vertebra may give rise to a pair of small ribs. 

Each of the upper six cervical vertebrae (C1-C6) has a hole, or foramen, in both of the transverse processes located at the side of the bone, through which blood vessels and bundles of sympathetic and spinal nerves are able to pass. The foramen is absent in the thoracic and lumbar vertebrae.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

What is Frozen Shoulder and How it Can it Be Treated?

Frozen shoulder (more formally known as adhesive capsulitis) occurs when the tissue of the joint capsule in your shoulder swells and thickens, causing pain and a reduction in range of movement. It can occur in one or both shoulders, or sometimes even move between one and the other. The cause of frozen shoulder is not exactly known, but there are a number of risk factors that can lead to this problem and a wide range of treatment options, depending upon the severity of the disorder.

Though frozen shoulder can occur for no seemingly apparent reason, those who have had a recent injury or whose shoulder has been in a period of immobility seem to have the highest incidence of adhesive capsulitis, perhaps because of the shoulder capsule tightening due to insufficient use. It is uncommon in men and a rare condition for those under age 40; seventy percent of all cases appear in women between ages 40 and 60.

Certain systemic diseases also seem to predispose some individuals toward developing frozen shoulder. For instance, those with diabetes have a five times greater likelihood of encountering this disorder. Other risk factors include heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, Parkinson’s disease, hyperthyroid (overactive thyroid), hypothyroid (underactive thyroid) and lung disease.

The severity of your pain and stiffness, in addition to the length of time you have had the problem, will determine the most appropriate treatment options. The goal is to reduce pain and improve range of motion as much as possible, which can take an average of anywhere from 6 to 24 months. Treatment options include exercise, chiropractic care, physical therapy, drugs and surgery.

If the pain is not too severe, regular, gentle exercise to help stretch the joint capsule (while being sure not to overdo it) may be recommended. Pain relievers such as acetaminophen or anti-inflammatory NSAIDs may allow you to keep up some level of movement in the joint and to relieve discomfort. Corticosteroid injections are sometimes used in cases of severe pain to reduce pain and inflammation, though it is not advised that they be used as a long-term treatment, as they can damage the joint capsule.

In severe cases, surgery is sometimes indicated, though this is rarely necessary. Arthroscopic capsular release surgery is used to remove bands of scar tissue that have formed in the capsule, allowing for improved mobility in the shoulder.

Chiropractic care for frozen shoulder is one of the most effective and least invasive forms of treatment. Your chiropractor can recommend a course of physical therapy that can reduce stiffness and increase range of motion in the joint without damaging it in the process. Many chiropractors use Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) to reduce pain. A TENS machine sends out small electrical impulses though electrodes attached to the skin that help block pain signals and stimulate the body to release natural pain-relieving endorphins. In addition, regular chiropractic adjustments can keep the spine in alignment and thus reduce possible nerve irritation that may contribute to frozen shoulder.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Lumbar Facet Syndrome: Common Causes of Lower Back Pain and Treatment Options

One of the most common causes of lower back pain is lumbar facet syndrome. A pair of facet joints extend out from each vertebra along the back of the spinal column (the side that faces out), which connect to the corresponding vertebrae above and below, allowing for movement in the spine. Like any other joints, they are subject to injury and conditions such as arthritis or repetitive motion disorder.
If you are experiencing a deep dull ache in the area of your lower back, especially if it extends down to the buttocks and the back of the thighs, and have stiffness and pain particularly after periods of inactivity, such as when you get out of bed in the morning or after sitting for long periods of time, you may have lumbar facet syndrome.

Also called a zygapophyseal joint (often shortened to the term “Z-joint” for obvious reasons), the lumbar facet joint can create pain stemming from a variety of causes. One of the most common causes is simply aging. As we get older, the cartilage in our joints wears down and the synovial fluid lessens, reducing the cushioning the cartilage provides, and allowing the bones of the joint to rub together. Smokers are at greater risk for lumbar facet syndrome, as it has been proven that smoking leads to greater cartilage loss. Injury to the lumbar facet joints caused by trauma or overextension (a situation particularly common among athletes) can also lead to this syndrome.

Spondylolisthesis, where one of the vertebrae slips forward over the one below it, can be another cause of lumbar facet syndrome. Any time the spine is out of alignment, whether it is due to a spinal disorder or simply poor posture, it can cause the medial branch nerves that extend from the nerves in the spinal column to the facet joint to become pinched and irritated, causing pain.

Most often, the recommended treatment is to visit a chiropractor or physical therapist, and an anti-inflammatory medication may be recommended to reduce pain in the short term. Chiropractic care, which uses adjustments to realign the spine, can relieve pain by taking the pressure off of pinched or compressed nerves and help restore range of motion without drugs or invasive treatments such as surgery.

However, in more severe cases, corticosteroids may be injected into the facet joints, though this is not a permanent solution. If surgery is warranted, the procedure uses a process called radiofrequency ablation, which effectively destroys the medial branch nerves supplying the facet joints. Though the nerves are destroyed, the procedure will not impede your range of movement.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Is Your Telephone Causing Your Neck Pain?

If you spend long amounts of time on the telephone, either at work or at home, you may find that it's literally a pain in the neck. Consider the following scenario: you're at work and you need to talk to a client on the phone while looking up his records, and you wind up cradling the phone on your shoulder, your neck bent over to hold it in place, all while simultaneously typing or moving around to search for the documents you need. How often during the day do you do this? Is it any wonder that at the end of the day you feel tension or experience neck pain and shoulder pain?

You're not alone. A study presented at the Ergonomic Society Conference indicated that 50% of office workers suffered from neck pain, much of it attributable to using the telephone in such awkward positions. This pain can escalate over the years into serious musculoskeletal health problems. Fortunately, there are many things you can to do eliminate the source of this pain.

  • Use a headset or "hands free" phone. Using a speakerphone allows you to sit with a normal posture, while having your hands free to type or take notes. Even in noisy offices where using a speakerphone might not be appropriate, most modern telephones allow you to plug in a headset or combination earpiece/microphone, so that you don't have to continually hold the phone to your ear.

  • Be aware of your "phone posture." Users of handheld phones tend to slump their shoulders forward, putting strain on the entire upper body. Instead, sit upright, with your head straight (not tilted to one side) and with your shoulders relaxed, looking forward (as opposed to down) as much as possible. If you need to hold the phone in your hand, consider alternating ears on long conversations.

  • Stretch regularly during the day. Simple stretches that can relieve the tension of talking on the phone for long periods of time include tucking your chin in toward your neck, then tilting your head to the right and to the left, and holding each position for 10-20 seconds. Rotating your neck, both clockwise and counterclockwise, can also help.

  • Don't forget about texting. Many people now spend more time sending text messages than they do actually talking on the phone. If you do this, notice your posture as you text. Chances are you are sitting with the phone in your lap or on a desk, with your head looking down at it as you type on the tiny keyboard. This can be an instant prescription for "text neck." Instead, try sitting more upright with the mobile device raised higher so that you don't have to constantly look down to see it.

  • Use earphones or Bluetooth earpieces with your mobile phone. These devices allow you to have your hands free for whatever else you're doing, and to walk and move normally, without holding an uncomfortable posture that could place strain on your neck, shoulders and back. Sure, you may be walking down the street looking as if you are talking to yourself, but that's better in the long run than arriving home with a sore neck.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Anatomy of the Sacrum and Lower Back

The human spine is divided into three sections, based on the anatomy and function of spinal vertebrae. The upper seven vertebrae are known as the cervical spine and make up the neck region, which supports the base of the skull. The middle portion, or thoracic spine, comprises the twelve rib-forming vertebrae, which house many of the important internal organs of the chest. The lowest part of the spine consists of the five lumbar vertebrae. Each of the 24 vertebrae is labelled based on the section of the back in which they are located, and their position within that section. The seven cervical vertebrae are thus named C1-C7, with C1 being uppermost, the twelve thoracic vertebrae are T1-T12, and the five lumbar vertebrae take the labels L1-L5.

Spinal vertebrae become progressively larger and heavier from top to bottom as a consequence of how much weight they have to bear. The lumbar vertebrae are therefore the largest and strongest bones in the spinal skeleton. The intervertebral discs (rings of tissue that act as shock absorbers for the spine as well as allowing movement) are also correspondingly large.

Directly beneath the lumbar spine, five vertebrae fuse to form the sacral bone, or sacrum. These are labelled in similar convention to the remainder of the spine as S1-S5. The sacrum supports the much larger pelvic bone, and the hip joints are located on either side of the sacral vertebrae. Because of its position, it is the link between the upper torso and lower limbs of the body.

The sacrum forms a wedge shape that decreases in width from top to bottom and, just as there are gender-based differences in pelvic skeletal anatomy, so the female sacrum is shorter and wider than is found in male subjects. The front of the sacrum is marked by five transverse (horizontal) lines, which delineate the boundaries between the five vertebrae.  To the rear is a ridge of bone called the median sacral crest, which runs vertically down the center of the back of the sacrum. This is the result of the fusion of the transverse processes of the sacral vertebrae. Fusion of the sacral bones typically starts to occur at some point in the late teens and is usually completed by age 30.

The lowest end of the spine is completed by a structure known as the coccyx, or tailbone. This is a small bone shaped like an upside-down triangle, which is formed by the fusion of the four coccygeal vertebrae (Co1-Co4) during the third decade of life. In females the coccyx points to the rear, in males to the front.

About The Author:

Dr. Matt Ramirez graduated with a degree in Bachelor of Human Biology in 2004 and received his Doctor of Chiropractic Degree in 2006. He specializes in auto injury recovery and rehabilitation and has enhanced and improved thousands of lives as well as treated people of all ages over the years. He is also an expert in health and wellness, massage therapy, chiropractic care, and more...

Friday, 4 January 2013

Is Dark Chocolate Good for You?

Author's Note: No chocolate bars were harmed during the writing of this article.

Recent reports in prestigious scientific journals have been viewed by chocophiles (lovers of chocolate) as the best health and nutrition news they've heard in years. According to the research, dark chocolate may actually be good nutritional support for you. One study showed that test subjects who ate dark chocolate daily saw a significant drop in their blood pressure (5 points systolic and 2 points diastolic), while subjects who ate similar amounts of milk chocolate or white chocolate did not.

While this sounds like magic, it really isn't. Chocolate is, after all, derived from plants (cocoa beans), and thus shares one of the nutritional benefits of other dark vegetables – flavonoids. Dark chocolate contains high amounts of catechins (8 times the amount in strawberries), a branch of the flavonoid family that has been proven to be an effective antioxidant. Antioxidants help to fight the effects of aging by reducing the number of free radicals that increase oxidation and thus contribute to the development of many damaging conditions, including heart disease. Catechins also have the benefit of stimulating the production of endorphins (which provide a feeling of pleasure) and serotonin (which acts as a natural anti-depressant). Other studies indicate that dark chocolate can improve blood flow to the brain, thus lessening the possibility of stroke.

So the idea that dark chocolate can actually be good for you is true, within reasonable limits. The benefit to health from eating dark chocolate is listed in most of these studies as "moderate," and must be balanced by the knowledge that chocolate is still full of calories. The sugar and fat present in chocolate mean that one 100-gram bar contains over 500 calories. If you're on a limited-calorie diet, eating a whole bar is going to either blow your diet or require you to not eat other foods to balance out your increased caloric intake.

Fortunately, large quantities are not required to benefit from flavonoid-rich dark chocolate. In studies where the subjects ate a small-to-moderate amount of dark chocolate, benefits were still seen. For example, in one of the studies that showed significant reductions of blood pressure as a result of adding dark chocolate to their diet, the subjects were limited to 30 chocolate calories a day. That's a portion about the size of one Hershey's Kiss.

So although the benefits of eating dark chocolate appear to be real, and are good news both to the health conscious and to us chocophiles, remember that a little goes a long way, and too much will still make you fat. No matter how tempting it may be, don't replace other foods in your balanced diet with dark chocolate; just add small amounts to that diet and remember that moderation is key.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Recognizing Signs of Anorexia or Bulimia

Both anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa are eating disorders that affect an estimated 8 million Americans, mostly women, though about 10% of those who have an eating disorder are men.

Anorexics have an irrational fear of gaining weight and a distorted body image. They refuse to maintain a healthy body weight and are obsessed with thoughts of food, dieting and how their body looks, to the exclusion of other things, such as interaction with friends and family or the pursuit of hobbies.

Some signs of anorexia are:

1) Dieting despite being underweight – Anorexics follow diets that severely restrict caloric intake. They may eat only certain low-calorie foods, refusing anything they consider a “bad” food, such as fats and carbohydrates.

2) Obsession with calories, nutrition and grams of fat – They will measure the nutritional content of every morsel they put in their mouth and will obsessively read the nutrition label on each item they buy in the supermarket, rejecting anything with too many calories. They are likely to read every diet book they can find and may keep a food diary listing everything eaten throughout the day.

3) Lying about eating – Anorexics may say they have eaten when they haven’t, and will make excuses for getting out of mealtimes. They may feign illness, hide food or throw it away to keep from eating.

4) Obsession with body image – Despite being severely underweight, they may see themselves as fat, weighing themselves constantly and denying that they are too thin. They may cover up with baggy clothes so their thinness doesn’t show. Rapid, drastic weight loss is another sign of anorexia.

Bulimia is an eating disorder characterized by regular cycles of binging and purging. The person suffering from bulimia will binge on food, consuming up to 5,000 calories in an hour, then will feel guilty and do all they can to purge the excessive calories by inducing vomiting, using laxatives or exercising fanatically.

Some signs of bulimia are:

1) Lack of control over eating – Bulimics are not able to stop eating, consuming food to the point of stomach pain.

2) Large amounts of food disappearing – Food may disappear mysteriously from the person’s refrigerator, with no appreciable sign of weight gain. They may keep stashes of food hidden away for when they want to secretly binge.

3) Going to the bathroom after eating – immediately after a meal they may go to the bathroom to vomit, possibly covering the sounds by running water in the sink.

4) Vomit smell – either in the bathroom after a meal, or on their person, someone with bulimia may try to cover it up with air freshener or by using mouthwash or breath mints.

5) Regular use of laxatives or exercise – they may use diet pills, diuretics or laxatives after eating, or do a lot of calorie-burning exercise immediately after a meal.

Anorexia and bulimia can cause serious, long-lasting damage to health, so getting treatment for it is important. Of all mental illnesses, these are the ones with the highest rates of mortality, so if you suspect that you or anyone you know may have these illnesses, see a mental health professional as soon as possible.

Good health is a combination of many factors including your nutrition, preventative care, appropriate corrective care and the small choices you make every day in the course of living. If you have questions about this article, your general or spinal health, please ask. We are here to help!