Healthcare On A Budget – Part II – Education

EDUCATION is the second way to save yourself healthcare dollars. This education comes in many forms. First you need to learn the basics of first aid and home care. If you know how to treat basic injuries and how to recognize when things are beyond your ability then you will save many trips to the ER. You can get a basic first aid manual from your local library, free online training, or contact your local boy scout troop and see if you can earn your first aid merit badge. In educating your self create an emergency kit, stock it and know how to use all of the items in it.

Learn when to call the doctor. Often times a fever doesn’t mean you need to call. As a general rule fevers aren’t worrisome until they are over 103 degrees and only then if they don’t respond to fever reducing medication like Tylenol (recommendations are different for young children). Learn when a cough, or fever, or sore throat, or ear ache, etc is bad enough to call. More often than not your body will cope just fine and there is nothing a doctor can do. You’ll save money if you know when those times are.

Stay informed about what conditions are “going around” and be prepared for them. If you’re not sure what’s going around call your local hospital or just a public school.

Learn where you can get the cheapest help. Your chiropractor is much cheaper than the emergency room, and trained in diagnosis. Just checking into the ER is going to cost you significant money. You can usually see me for a full treatment plan for the amount that a single ER visit costs. Nothing’s worse than going to the emergency room and having them tell you I’m sorry there’s nothing that we can do, and then getting the bill from them for that nothing that they did.  A chiropractor will not treat you when a bone is sticking out or when you’ve cut off a finger, but when the case is questionable learn who you can turn to for the least cost.

Getting Healthcare While On a Budget

How can you get healthcare if you’re on a tight budget? The first thing to realize is that you are talking about your health. Don’t fool around if you think something is serious.

I know how you feel. I was in the same situation for the first 10 years of my marriage. You worry that you or your family could get sick because you can’t afford to take them to the doctor, and going to the emergency room would destroy you financially. In this kind of situation people are looking for ways that they can make their dollars go farther.

Part I – Prevention

The first way to spend less is PREVENTION. Eating right and exercise costs no more than eating poorly and doing nothing. Go for a walk, eat a carrot, don’t buy soda, wash your hands, know your blood pressure. Chiropractic is also an excellent way to keep in prime condition. If you can keep your body in good condition or improve it you are better able to avoid illness and recover quicker from injury.

apple pillsIf you can’t prevent it from happening and sometimes we can’t; the next best thing is to catch it early and keep it from getting worse. Many people just ignore symptoms and put off that doctors visit thinking that they’ll probably get better on their own. The reality is if you head things off early you’ll prevent the bigger things down the road. To use a dental example, a filling is much cheaper than a root canal. Don’t put off those relatively cheap preventative checkups. They are probably the cheapest office visits and if they identify something early you’ll spend much less than you would if you wait.

With chiropractic the longer you wait to come in the more visits it will take to get you back into good condition.  When our joints aren’t moving they can slip into a degenerative cycle.  So that pain in the neck, if not taken care of, could turn into a pain down the arm and back as well.

I’m not saying you should see a doctor for every little thing,  but if it’s not getting better on it’s own or it’s getting worse don’t wait weeks before getting help.  Tune in next time for part II of this discussion…

Your Commute and Your Spine

With modern transportation people have opted to live far away from their jobs.   This has it’s advantages.  It is also causing problems for commuters.  Most sources agree that the average American spends about 30 min in their car to get to work.  That’s an hour a day, and more time each year than you spend on vacation.

Your back is taking a beating from all this driving.  Car seats are designed for looks not usually for support, and even when we have a good one we rarely use it properly.  But let’s not dwell on the bad.  Here are some ideas to help with this problem.

  • If you can, move closer to work, bike, walk or run to work.  You get your exercise and you avoid the car.  You might be surprised at how easy it is to bike to work at least some days.
  • Keep yourself fit.  Diet and exercise can help your body handle a lot. Chiropractic can help you keep your body in peak condition.
  • Take your wallet out of your back pocket.  I’ve seen some huge wallets.  At least take it out for your commute.
  • Relax.  Leave early so traffic doesn’t stress you.  Listen to relaxing music while driving, and avoid stressors in general.
  • Park far away.  This is especially important for those who sit in offices all day.  This will get your legs and back moving a little before you have to sit again.
  • Use proper posture in the car.  Sit upright and relax your shoulders.  If it helps you get a lumbar support from a store like relax the back.  Adjust your seat to help you sit properly.  Men usually sit to far back with their legs fully extended, and women usually sit to close.  Keep as much of your thighs on the seat as possible.
  • Adjust the seat when you get uncomfortable rather than shifting yourself.

These ideas can reduce the chance of you having to come see me, but if you do find your self with back pain from driving see your chiropractor.  The sooner you come in the less damage is done and the less time it takes to correct it.

Symptom of the Week – Whiplash

I’ve covered this topic a little bit here and there with other posts, but I thought that it is such a common theme that it deserves it’s own title.  Whiplash is essentially just rapid acceleration and deceleration of your head and neck. This kind of motion can happen in sports, or in play but is most commonly associated with car accidents.

Whiplash is named for the motion of a whip.  When the base of a whip is moved properly it only has to move a very slight amount yet the tip of that whip can reach beyond the speed of sound producing the crack that you hear.  In whiplash accidents the spine acts as the whip and the head is the end of that whip.  When the head moves in this uncontrolled manner, tendons muscles and ligaments (the soft tissues supporting the spine) are often injured as well as the joints themselves.  These injuries can cause unbalanced weaknesses and spasms.  Though at first you may feel fine, over the next days and weeks these imbalances cause increasing strain on your neck, back and head.  Symptoms can even develop weeks after the incident.  These symptoms are usually headaches, and achy stiffness in your back, neck and or shoulders.  However your doctor will want to rule out any serious neurological problems as well.

With whiplash the pain is usually the reason that patients come in for care.  The pain is usually only a small symptom compared to the whole.  When you visit your chiropractor after a car accident you may have already been to the Emergency Room and had x-ray’s taken.  Your chiropractor will likely want to see those films and may even take more of his own.  You will be able to see on the X-ray films a straightening of the cervical spine.  This is very predictable with these types of injuries. The joints have been moved out of place, and the muscle spasms will hold them there.  When your spine is missing it’s normal curve it is unable to absorb shock in the way it was designed, and the reduced range of motion can become chronic.  The sooner you begin treatment the better the outcome you are likely to have.

For more on what to expect at a chiropractic visit in the case of whiplash click here.

Chiropractic Care Reduces Health Care Costs

According to this study published in the “Archives of Internal Medicine” people with chiropractic coverage cost less for health care.  They found that there was not only a decrease in expenses when it comes to back problems (NMS Conditions), but that overall those people with chiropractic care cost less to treat.  They required less back surgery, less x-rays, less MRIs, less ambulance rides, and less hospitalizations.  The cost of one MRI alone is as much or more than that of 10 chiropractic office visits.

There were huge reductions in cost even with a low utilization rate of chiropractic.  Notice that even with chiropractic costs per person at $31 per year (meaning that only a few took advantage of it) there was still a total savings of $330.  If more people turned to chiropractic for their Neuromusculoskeletal complaints the savings could be even more drastic.

icon-lower

From the article:

“The high prevalence and recurrent incidence of back pain, aswell as the heavy economic and disability burden that it imposeson society as documented in the literature, point to a majorarea of public health concern. Simultaneously, there is growingevidence for the low risks associated with chiropractic spinalmanipulation in most cases and favorable evidence for its effectivenessin treating low back pain. In addition, patients treated forback pain by DCs tend to be more satisfied than patients treatedby MDs. However, despite this evidence for safety, effectiveness,and growing public demand, health insurance coverage for chiropracticcare continues to remain restricted, relative to other healthservices, particularly in the managed care sector.”

My take away from this is that if you utilize chiropractic you will need to go to the doctor less, and save more money.  Insurance companies who want to save money themselves should pick up on this, but more importantly, you as a patient should see your chiropractor.

Child Car Seat Safety

As a chiropractor public safety is very important to me.  I relate to and understand what car accidents can do to people.  Seat belts are a major cause of whiplash in my opinion, but I’d rather treat a person for whiplash than have to attend their funeral, and so I support the use of seat belts.  Our cars have many safety features designed into them.  It is important that we use them properly so that we are safer for using them.

A few summers ago Utah’s legislature updated it’s car seat laws.  My daughter was very disappointed.  She was getting ready to move out of her booster seat to a regular seat belt.  She was so excited.  But then she had to grow an extra inch or two or wait a few more months.

The basics of the new law are this; any child under the age of 8 unless 4’9″ or taller must be in a child safety seat appropriate for their age/size.  I wish that this kind of thing didn’t require a law.  Every child is precious and should be protected.  I know that every person is different, and some children might not need the seat, but if you have to make a rule then the line has to be drawn somewhere.  Sometimes these lines are arbitrary and sometimes they are based on actual research.

Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for children in the USA.  Proper restraints cut that risk by 60%.  To make sure you are using them properly, there are many resources; this IIHS site even has video, or the Utah Safety Council.  If you’re not sure how to buckle your kids properly bring them in.  I’d be happy to go over the manufacturers recommendations and walk you through a checklist.  Also, I know that most police stations will have an officer that will check your installation.  The Orem Police Station had an officer check our car seats and explain how to properly buckle up our children.  Call your local police station to find out if they have a similar program.

For adults it is important to use the safety features designed into your car as well.  Adjusting your headrest properly will reduce the effect of whiplash if you get in an accident.  Also, wearing your seat belt at your hips rather than your waist reduces abdominal or back injury.

Make sure that you and your children are as safe as can be in your cars.  Please buckle up.

New Office Celebration

 

Open HouseCome join us for a celebration of our new office opening. We moved to a new office within the same building. Come ask me questions in person, win prizes, and get a massage.  The more people you bring the more chances you’ll get to win.  You can also share our Facebook event to be entered for raffle prizes.

While your thinking about us like our Facebook page and come visit our website.

What is the Difference Between Medical Doctors and Chiropractors?

From the perspective of a chiropractor.

Our core training is very similar.  In training chiropractors and medical doctors split after anatomy.  Medical doctors study the effects of chemicals and surgery on anatomy and physiology, whereas chiropractors study how to aid the natural function of anatomy and physiology. Chiropractors tend to feel that the body heals it’s self with our help.  The opposite view would be that the things/medications that we do to the body heal it.  (I’d need any medical doctor reading this to give his side a little better.  It’s always best to go to the source.)

If something is chemically dysfunctional such as in diabetes and bacterial infection, or requires surgery such as an appendicitis or severed limb then you would want to seek out a medical doctor or surgeon.  If you are experiencing biomechanical dysfunction like a sprained or painful joint, or neurological pain or dysfunction such as a “pinched”/irritated nerve or radiculopathy, find a chiropractor.  Both have vastly different approaches, but there are many times when the two professions should work together.  They are complimentary not exclusive.

Sciatica

Our Symptom of the Week this week.

Many people have sciatica, you may have heard someone say, “my sciatica is acting up.”  Sciatica is actually a description of the symptoms experienced when the sciatic nerve or it’s roots become irritated.

Sciatic NerveIt is a group of sciatic pain syndromes.  Sciatica is kind of the Thoracic Outlet Syndrome of the lower limbs.  The tingling, numbness or pain can go from your low back all the way down the leg, or it can be fairly mild and just be in your back.

Your sciatic nerve is actually a large bundle of nerves from your low back that travels through your pelvis, out through the sciatic notch and between the piriformis muscle and the other deep hip rotating muscles.  When this nerve bundle becomes irritated or “pinched” pain ensues and can be present any where the nerve goes.

Sciatic Pain

Sciatic Pain

The actual diagnosis of Sciatica would mean that the nerves are “pinched’ at the nerve root specifically due to a spinal condition.  Degeneration, disc herniation, joint dysfunction, inflammation, etc. may cause this.  However the nerve can be “pinched” in places other than the spine.  Though they are technically termed pseudo sciatica there is nothing pseudo about the pain.  The only real difference is where the nerve gets irritated.

Piriformis Syndrome can cause similar symptoms to sciatica because the same kind of thing is happening.  The sciatic nerve travels through the muscles, if they are abnormally tight then the nerve can become “pinched” and cause sciatica.

Sacroiliac Joint Pain is another diagnosis that can cause pain similar to sciatica.  Though the nerve does not actually pass through the sacroiliac (SI) joint it does travel close enough that problems in this area may affect the nerve.  Problems in the SI joint its self can also cause symptoms that mimic sciatica in that there can be pain all the way down the leg.

The cause of your sciatic pain is very important because it dictates how it should be treated.  Your chiropractor is trained to correctly diagnose and treat the causes of these painful syndromes.  Many treatments may be effectively utilized by your chiropractor, from manipulation to decompression to physiotherapy and exercises.  You can do many things at home to help to.

Piriformis Stretch

Piriformis Stretch

Piriformis stretches are useful, and even if the symptoms are not due to your piriformis it may be tight and adding to the problem.  Talk to your chiropractor if you are having sciatica.

The Effects of Drinking Soda on Your Health

Thanks to Dr. Gray for turning me on to this topic.  Let me start this post by saying that I drink soda.  I drink it about 6 times a year.  When I was in high school I ran cross country.  I also drank Mountain Dew as often as I could.  One season I noticed difficulty breathing and decreased energy when I drank soda, so I stopped.  I never really picked it back up.  I still drink it occasionally, but I do not buy it.  My wife puts it in punch for parties at times.  I felt better and ran better when I was not drinking soda.

Now as a health care provider I have a vested interest in topics like this for my patients sake I like to learn as much as possible.  After researching this topic I thought I’d pass on some facts to you.  The links may be dry but I like to back up my statements with research, and they have some good info.  So, here is soda in all it’s glory.

Drinking soda:

As a chiropractor my training includes nutrition and biochemistry.  Though I choose not to focus my practice on it, from time to time I do give nutritional counseling and supplement advice.  My advice for soda drinkers, quit!  It’s not a horrible thing on occasion, as I said, I myself will drink a soda from time to time.  Anything in excess is detrimental to your health.  For those of you who just can’t go a day without your soda.  Think about what that means.

If you want nutritional counseling many chiropractors offer it.  If you want to, you can even come and see me for it, I will likely refer you to a colleague who does that more exclusively, your health comes first, and I want you to get the best care/advice that you can get.  What I don’t want is your bones becoming weak and you falling and fracturing yourself or dying early due to diabetes complications.