I have outgrown wordpress.com and have decided to branch out. The old address will still work as I have set it to forward to this one, but you might notice a new look as well as some changes in the future. I want to make this primarily an info site for the public about chiropractic, and I will continue to orient my blog towards patients or others with questions. If you have questions you want answered or recommendations please let me know. Enjoy the new site, and thanks for visiting. The new address is www.chirotalk.info
We all know veterans. Some are family members, some are friends. My father, a veteran, is finally coming home from overseas and will be living near me. He recently called me to ask about getting treatment when he gets back. The answer that I had to give him was that it would be difficult to get any chiropractic care through the VA here or through Medicare. I have treated quite a few veterans here in Sandy from all over the Salt Lake City area, and they all have had difficulty with the VA. The VA told them that they don’t cover chiropractic care here in Utah. That is not true, so, I provided them with this VA fact sheet and this guide to Veterans getting care put out by the American Chiropractic Association (ACA). After being shown the law the VA does cover their treatment. When asked about this discrepancy in thier policy the official reply from the VA was that there is no demand in the Utah VA for chiropractic care.
“In recent years, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has started the long-overdue process of providing veterans with access to chiropractic care by placing doctors of chiropractic on staff at VA hospitals. The process of integrating chiropractic care in the VA system was initiated after Congress enacted a series of statues—Public Law 108-170 and Public Law 107-135—that reinforced a permanent chiropractic benefit within the VA health care system and specifically directed the VA to hire doctors of chiropractic to provide care for veterans.
As a result of the above-referenced congressional directives, the VA now provides chiropractic care (via hired or contracted staff) at 47 major VA treatment facilities within the United States. Unfortunately, an overwhelming majority of America’s veterans still do not have access to chiropractic care because the VA has taken no action to provide chiropractic care at more than 100 of its major medical facilities.
Despite important data demonstrating a critical need for chiropractic services within the VA, the disparity in access has been allowed to persist. Recent VA data cites “diseases of musculoskeletal system/connective system,” such as back pain, as the number one ailment of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans accessing VA treatment.” -ACA Website
If you are a veteran or know one, or just appreciate the service that they have given then please give back. Contact your congressman and Senator today. There are currently bills in both the senate and the house that would require the VA to have a chiropractic physician on staff at all major VA medical facilities by 2016. To make your voice heard on this topic you can visit the ACA Political Action Center.
I was recently asked to write a post about how to have a useful first aid kit. The hard part of that request is the term “useful.” Items are only useful if you have the knowledge of how to use them. The most important first aid item is knowledge. Knowing what to do when someone bumps their head or has a fever may save you a trip to the ER and a lot of money. Remember you are only providing first aid. Any bandage or wrap that you put on will be taken off when you are seen in the Emergency Room.
PERSONAL CARRY KIT
I carry emergency supplies with me almost every where I go. In my back pack I have a small pouch where I keep a ziplock bag containing, a barrier breathing device for CPR, glucose tablets for diabetics, Benedryl for allergic reactions, baby aspirin for heart attacks, butterfly bandage strips for severe cuts, small LED flashlight, pocket knife, a glow stick, a compass, and a lighter. The last few are the boy scout in me, but the rest are what I consider my duty because of my knowledge. All chiropractors go through first aid and emergency courses for health care professionals, and should be able to respond in an emergency. If you don’t know how or why to use emergency items then it doesn’t help to carry them. I recommend everyone be willing to do their best in emergencies, nothing more is required. If you want to learn more I highly recommend it, but remember ”with great power comes great responsibility.”
Your first aid kit should be readily accessible, out of sight of children and the only place that you keep medical items. If you have things all over they are difficult to keep track of, and hard to direct people to in an emergency. My home kit is more of a closet. I have my doc bag with stethoscope, etc. and then a plastic drawer set organized and full.
Most home kits should include: bandages of all sizes (band-aids all the way up to large abdominal pads), surgical tape to hold the bandages in place, wrapping bandages such as rolls and triangle bandages for wrapping or immobilizing, glucose tablets or hard candy for diabetics, self contained burn dressings, antibiotic ointment to reduce infection risk, baby aspirin for a heart attack, emergency blanket, CPR breathing barrier, instant cold compress, non-latex gloves, Benadryl for allergies, scissors, tweezers, a thermometer and any other essential personal health care items that family members may require such as an EpiPen, inhaler, or other prescription medications.
Some extra items that people like to keep in their home kit are: Essential oils, vitamins, an AED, UV-C sterilizer, alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, duct tape, superglue, saline/eye solution and water. There are many more things that you can keep and my closet has most of them. Any extra items usually require extra knowledge, but it is easy to acquire and often free. The Red Cross is a great place to start, but many companies, communities and colleges have educational courses that you can also take. Most modern kits that you purchase come with a first aid instruction booklet that can help you use the kit, but you don’t want to wait until an emergency happens to read the book.
We sit a lot. Most people sit at work. We sit for recreation or entertainment. We sit to drive, and we sit to eat. Many people ask me the question, “what kind of chair should I get for work?” Unknowingly they are asking the wrong question. They really want to take care of their back and they’ve probably heard the fad news of the day that “Sitting is the New Smoking” or that standing or treadmill desks are the way to go. There are kneeling chairs, exercise balls for sitting. Balls mounted on chairs, reclining chairs and setups that you can climb inside. Most of these devices are great, but I haven’t found a single one that you can’t sit poorly in. You can even slouch on a ball. The key is not what we sit in, though it can help to get good sitting furniture.
There are really only two ways to avoid the problems that come with sitting, the first way is to sit properly with good posture, however posture is supported by our muscles. No one, no matter how well trained can sit indefinitely without those muscles getting fatigued. Most of us are poorly trained and return to poor sitting posture after less than 20 minutes. I highly recommend core training and exercises to improve our postural endurance, but like the different chairs it is not enough by its self.
The only method that is manageable and within the reach of almost everyone is to sit for shorter periods of time. That doesn’t mean to rush out and buy a standing desk or a treadmill work station. You just have to limit your sitting to the period of time that your muscles and joints can handle at any given time. For most people that means standing up 2-3 times per hour just to stretch or move. You could walk to another cubicle to deliver a message, go get a drink, do 5 jumping jacks, or just stretch for 30 seconds and then get back to proper sitting. Try it for a day. Set a 20 minute timer and every time it goes off, pause what you’re doing, get up and move for 30 seconds. You’ll be amazed at how you feel and how much more productive you can be even though you are taking more breaks.
In our society today it is difficult to get away from computers. You are reading this post on one right now, just as I sat at mine to type it. Well I’m on here to tell you to get up stand up and do some jumping jacks. Lie down on the floor and do some push-ups. Finish those push-ups in yoga’s cobra posture.
Why? Because our body is designed to move. When we stop moving our body stops feeding our muscles bones and joints. You only get nutrients where you need them. Think of breaking a bone. When you put your arm in a cast it doesn’t come out happy and able to move just like it was before. It hasn’t been used in weeks and so it is prone to injury and the muscle has atrophied. Sometimes you even have to go through long term rehab to get your body back to the way it was before you stopped using it. That isn’t because of the broken bone. It’s because of a lack of use.
Computers have made things easy for us. The vast majority of jobs now require people to sit at their desk for many hours a day, and we check our Facebook account on our phone waiting in line or sometimes while driving. When we get home we relax by watching TV, or playing on the computer we carry our ipad to bed and finish just one more thing while going to sleep. There is nothing wrong with the computers they are just a tool. We are however neglecting the tool that these computers replaced, our bodies. If we want to be able to function well and without pain then it is important to keep the tool that is our body well tuned up.
Now you don’t need another blog to tell you this. Most people already know what they should be doing, such as eating right and exercising. We can all use reminders though, so here are just a few links to scary news articles all about reasons to get yourself moving.
Health promotion and preventative care focuses on encouraging people to go from poor health to good health and preventing future illness or injury. It is turning away from disease to health. Wellness requires and focuses on individual responsibility it is the search for continued improvement in life, constantly striving to improve our function, to do better, to be better. It is a paradigm shift from our current system in which we wait for illness or dysfunction before seeking care. In our society today very few focus on continued improvement of their function. They are the performers; whether in sports, art or business those who consistently strive to improve performance and produce something more than they ever have before. This is the idea of wellness. Few understand this. The majority of people in this country have their basic needs met. Most of the people in the USA have a roof over their head and food to eat. The USA has about 8% unemployment, and that is not good, but that means over 90% employment. The vast majority of adults in this country are physically well enough to do a job, yet nearly 70% of Americans are regularly taking a drug of some sort.
Health promotion and prevention have their place as does emergency care, but the best way to promote health and prevent illness is to strive for constant betterment, or wellness. Wellness care is opposed to our current model of health care. Our current model would be out of business if everyone overcame their current malady and was able to stop taking medication.
A wellness model thrives when everyone feels fine, but wants to get even more out of life. Consider the aged patient who is not in pain and not sick, but wants to be able to function better so that he can play more with his grand kids. What treatment is available for the new mother who has no condition, but wants to have more energy and vitality, or the child who doesn’t have ADHD, but wants to be able to focus better in school. These are wellness dilemmas, and if you go to your primary care provider they will likely tell you that there is nothing that they can do for you. In fact it would be unethical if not illegal to prescribe medication for any of those reasons.
Chiropractic is a treatment option that works well from either model, but should strive for wellness.When you are injured chiropractic can help you to heal faster. Chiropractic can also increase range of motion, and improve the quality of life in healthy people. Pilot studies have begun to look at this in athletes such as golfers
Golfers improve their swing and drive the ball farther. Sprinters and Jumpers all improve their speed and jumps with chiropractic care. Football players show improved performances. General athletic ability improves more with chiropractic care than without. If it improves performance of athletes then also improves performance in daily activities that aren’t measured as often.
Chiropractors are in a unique position to promote wellness because of the benefit that our treatment has for healthy people as well as for those who are injured. Chiropractors can start by adopting a wellness attitude. They can find out some of parts of life that they can improve. For example a woman who wants to not just have a normal pregnancy, but an excellent one should see a chiropractor who would provide treatment to keep her body functioning at it’s peak. He could give a home exercise program and diet recommendations all before she even becomes pregnant to prepare her body for that process. Chiropractic care can support her body through the changes that pregnancy entails.
The overweight patient who has become determined to run a marathon will need counsel, guidance and structural care as his body changes to adapt to the weight loss and the new stresses that will be encountered.
The student who wants to improve concentration can begin by seeing a chiropractor to remove structural discomfort that can distract, and to receive nutritional counsel to provide adequate hydration and nutrition and even promote focus.
While our society has come along way and fought disease for centuries, perhaps the better way to fight disease is to focus on achieving the best health possible. That is Wellness!
I have written in the past about some of the types of people that I not only enjoy, but love treating. The top three in my list are pregnant ladies, military personnel and fine artists. You can find out why here.
It doesn’t matter if they are dancers, singers, musicians, actors, painters, or sculptors. This group of people make it their business to address the emotional need that we all experience. They work hard to provide us that certain outlet that we need for our creative emotion. I’ve never been a good fine artist, though I have tried in the past as a musician, singer, and actor. I still appreciate what that profession can do, and know what a toll it can take on their bodies even if they are masters of the Alexander Technique.
Violinists with their constant neck craning, dancers with their repetitive perfect contortions, or singers with the strain of trying to get that breath support despite the tightness in their upper backs and chest. They all can benefit from chiropractic care. Athletes who use their bodies to practice for hours a day want to be able to perform at their best, and they know that chiropractic helps. Most professional teams or athletes have chiropractors and massage therapists on call to help them to achieve that goal.
In my opinion, every symphony, opera, dance and art studio needs an official chiropractor to them. Back in 1998 the Utah Jazz despite having the oldest players had the fewest injuries of any NBA team. Why? Because they were leading out a new idea and had hired a chiropractor to help their players to perform at their best thus preventing injuries from poor performing bodies. If you are an artist, just imagine what an injury could do to your career. Imagine taking months off to recover. Chiropractic can help prevent injury and improve recovery times. If you are a fine artist please contact your local chiropractor to see what he can do to improve your performance. After all who would play the instruments if you were all injured?
Before I get to the question I should post this link: What does a chiropractic adjustment do?
The question that I get all the time is, “What happens, and is it ok, if I, or a friend, pops my back rather than a chiropractor?” My patients are concerned that they may damage something when they attempt self manipulation. There is never a straight answer to these kind of questions. So, yes you may damage something when trying to adjust your own back or someone else’s. Some of the more common risks associated with “popping your own spine” are acquired torticollis, muscle strain, sprain, hyper-mobility (too much motion) and headache. Less likely but possible risks are fracture, vertebral artery dissection (stroke), dislocation, and paralysis.
Now that I’ve scared you a little; let me say that you would have to have a very forceful and violent movement to do most if any of those things.
We have all heard pops happen when we are moving normally.
Those pops are fine. When you’re stretching and something happens to pop it is usually great too. The problem comes as I’ve said with forceful, purposeful motions. You’ve probably seen the person sitting across from you tilt their head, then yank on it. That’s bad. These are the patients who will someday walk into my office with their head to the side saying, “Doc, I can’t move my head.” That is torticollis.
Now, joint motion is good. Let me address popping your own joints as a form of treatment. A Chiropractor will assess specific joints, find restrictions and adjust them sometimes getting a pop. If you try to adjust yourself you will likely end up getting some popping sounds somewhere, but you will probably only get temporary relief, if any at all. You can also make things worse by producing a hyper-mobility in the surrounding areas rather than getting motion to the dysfunction.
I encourage you to stretch and take your body through all of the ranges of motion that you can. That will often solve your problem and may or may not pop. If stretching does help, that is great. If range of motion exercise does not solve your problem then seek chiropractic help.
According to the medical community I practice Alternative Medicine. I don’t use any medicine in my practice at all. An alternative medicine to Tylenol would be Advil, not chiropractic. Perhaps if it was said that chiropractic is an alternative to medicine rather than chiropractic is Alternative Medicine then I could accept it. The medical community is obtaining a monopoly on health care terminology.
It may not have been planned that way originally, but there are now laws being put forward by medical associations to ban non-MDs from using the title doctor or physician. Below are a few samples of how the medical community refers to other providers of health care:
Here is the (government) MedlinePlus take (emphasis added):
“Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is the term for MEDICAL products and practices that are not part of standard care. Standard care is what medical doctors, doctors of osteopathy, and allied health professionals, such as nurses and physical therapists, practice.…The claims that CAM treatment providers make can sound promising. However, researchers do not know how safe many CAM treatments are or how well they work…
They later recommend you discuss it with your “doctor” implying of course medical doctor. This article leads you to the belief that “alternative medicine” is non-standard and of unknown safety.
This article on Wikipedia makes me want to become a Wikipedia editor.
“Alternative medicine is any practice that is put forward as having the healing effects of medicine, but is not based on evidence gathered with the scientific method… Examples include homeopathy, traditional [folk] medicine, chiropractic and acupuncture.”
Despite the myriad of medical treatments that are based on tradition rather than on the scientific method, and despite the mountain of scientific research supporting chiropractic treatment this article still exists.
The Mayo Clinic starts it’s CAM article by saying “You’ve heard the hype about complementary and alternative medicine. Now get the facts.” They list chiropractic as CAM, and then proceed to tell us that many medical doctors don’t have any training in CAM. They state that some CAM treatments have been proven effective (perhaps Wikipedia should cite the Mayo Clinic), but warn that because some aren’t proven you should talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of these treatments about which they have no training.
I recommend that you discuss your treatments and possible treatments with all of your providers. They should all be working as a team and some treatments do interact poorly. The purpose of this article is not to discourage communication with your medical provider nor to disparage them. Most of the medical doctors that I have worked with are well trained, intelligent, and work with alternative providers to compliment their own treatments.
I would like to bring attention to the fact that words have meaning. Chiropractors have struggled for years to come up with good terminology in our profession, even skipping the debate on the word “subluxation,” we’re still left saying things like “it went” after a successful treatment. Chiropractors need to do better producing our terminology, because if we don’t the medical community will.
According to the State of Utah I am a Chiropractic Physician, According to the Department of Education I am a Doctor of Chiropractic. I am a practitioner that provides an alternative to medicine, but I am not an Alternative Medicine provider.
The first phase is the Acute Phase of Care. In this phase our goal is to reduce symptoms, such as pain. Most people feel that if they aren’t in pain they are healthy. Pain as discussed before is a lousy indicator of health. For example a cavity in your tooth doesn’t become painful until after it gets to the root, but everyone knows that the cavity was there long before that. With cancer you always hear about early diagnosis and treatment long before symptoms being the best way to treat the disease.
When you start chiropractic care because of pain you have been unhealthy for a while. Pain is the first thing to go away, but you are often far from healthy and much of the problem still remains even though you are feeling fine. This is often when insurance companies will try to stop paying for care, but if you do the chance of recurring injury is significant.
This phase of care can last from 2 weeks to 2 months.
The second phase is the Corrective Phase of Care. In order to prevent or reduce the risk of recurring injury you need to continue treatment until the problem has been corrected and your body has been strengthened. This is often long after your symptoms are gone. You won’t need to receive adjustments as often in the corrective phase, and depending on your condition you may begin exercises and other home care to strengthen your body and provide accelerated healing.
There may be occasional symptom flare-ups in this stage of care. Like a bruise in this phase it doesn’t hurt unless you poke it and then it reminds you in no uncertain terms that yes it is still there. Your body has not quite finished the healing process. Imagine a scrape. The pain is gone in hours but the scab remains for weeks, still a reminder that your body isn’t done healing.
This phase of care can last a few months to years in extreme cases.
The third phase of care is Wellness Care. Just like getting six-pack abs it takes a lot of effort to get them. Maintaining them takes much less effort but must be done or they disappear a lot quicker than the time it took to get them. Regular chiropractic care can help keep your body at it’s best and catch problems early.
When you make the effort to be healthy you are not reactionary, but proactive. You will be able to avoid many of the problems that affect people. This does not mean that you will never have health problems or injuries, but it does allow you to live your life as full as you are possibly able. You can live life to the fullest and enjoy more of the activities that you love.