20 Fun and Amazing Health Facts.

1 Jan

1.) Women have a better sense of smell than men. 2.) When you take a step, you use up to 200 muscles. 3.) Your ears secrete more earwax when you are afraid than when you aren’t. 4.) The human brain has the capacity to store everything you experience. 5.) It takes twice as long to lose new muscle if you stop working out than it did to gain it. 6.) The average person’s skin weighs twice as much as their brain. 7.) Every year your body replaces 98% of your atoms. 8.) On average, there are 100 billion neurons in the human brain. 9.) The lifespan of a taste bud is ten days.  10.) Dentists recommend you keep your toothbrush at least 6 feet away from a toilet to avoid airborne particles caused by flushing.  11.) Your tongue is the only muscle in your body that is attached at only one end. 12.) Your stomach produces a new layer of mucus every two weeks so that it doesn’t digest itself. 13.) It takes about 20 seconds for a red blood cell to circle the whole body. 14.) The pupil of the eye expands as much as 45% when a person looks at something pleasing. 15.) Your heart rate can rise as much as 30% during a yawn. 16.) Your heart pumps about 2,000 gallons of blood each day. 17.) Your heart beats over 100,000 times a day. 18.) Your hair grows faster in the morning than at any other time of day.  19.) Your body is creating and killing 15 million red blood cells per second. 20.) You’re born with 300 bones, but when you reach adulthood, you only have 206!

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Can Neck-Specific Exercise Reduce Chronic Whiplash Symptoms?

21 Jan

Did you know that an alarming 90% of neurologically injured whiplash patients DO NOT recover and have neck muscle dysfunction even up to a year after the date of their motor vehicle collision?

There is suspicion among researchers that such ongoing issues are the result of the body’s initial response to injury to the brachial plexus, the network of intersecting nerves that give rise to three main nerves that travel down the arm to the hand. To protect and ease tension on the brachial plexus, the superficial muscles to the side of the injury can become more active and take on the classic “shrugged” position, a posture commonly observed in patients with nerve damage associated with a whiplash associated disorder (WAD) injury.

Over time, this protective mechanism can weaken the deep neck muscles, which are important for maintaining proper vertebral alignment and posture. This may, in turn, result in secondary injury and the long-term problems observed in many WAD patients, even after the initial injury to the brachial plexus has resolved.

In a recent multi-center, randomized controlled trial involving 171 chronic WAD patients with radiating arm pain and associated signs of neurological deficit, researchers found that participants who performed neck-specific exercises for twelve weeks to strengthen the deep neck muscles reported improvements in overall pain, arm pain specifically, and pain frequency, with some neurological recovery. Participants who were instructed to engage in general/non-specific physical activity during the study did not report such improvements.

Two of the authors from the above study collaborated on a similar experiment and found that patients who engaged in neck-specific exercises not only experienced improvements in muscle strength and pain reduction, but they were more satisfied with the approach than participants in a general exercise group.

These studies show that when the deep muscles become the specific focus of neck exercises, the results are superior, AND this includes neurological recovery. Your doctor of chiropractic can help train you in these specific exercise approaches!

 

This information should not be substituted for medical or chiropractic advice. Any and all healthcare concerns, decisions, and actions must be done through the advice and counsel of a healthcare professional who is familiar with your updated medical history.

How Do Adjustments Help Patients with Neck Pain?

14 Jan

Mechanical neck pain—neck pain without neurological compromise, often without a specific cause—is associated with a loss of mobility, poor activity tolerance, increased pressure pain sensitivity (or hypersensitivity to a normal stimulus), and increased joint position sense error (JPSE—difficulty reproducing the same movement when repeated multiple times). Patients with mechanical neck pain often seek treatment from doctors of chiropractic. Let’s look at how high-velocity, low-amplitude (HVLA) manipulation—the primary form of treatment used by chiropractors, commonly referred to as an adjustment—helps these patients…

In a 2018 study involving 54 patients with mechanical neck pain, participants received either HVLA cervical thrust manipulation or a sham cervical thrust manipulation. Evaluations conducted immediately following treatment showed that patients in the HVLA group experienced improvements with regards to JPSE (specifically neck rotation and extension), pressure pain threshold, and disability. (A related study showed that patients who received HVLA cervical thrust manipulation experienced an immediate 41% improvement in JPSE.)

A week later, the participants in the HVLA group continued to experience improvements related to disability. Again, this was after just a single treatment. Typically, doctors of chiropractic administer a series of HVLA manipulations one to three times per week for one to two weeks followed by a re-assessment to determine if care should continue (at the same frequency or at a reduced frequency) or if the patient should be released from care and advised to return for care on an as-needed or maintenance basis.

Chiropractors often combine several treatment approaches when managing patients with mechanical neck pain and other musculoskeletal conditions to both reduce pain and improve function. A partial list of commonly applied services include the following: HVLA manipulation (thrust with cavitation), mobilization (non-thrust), soft tissue therapies (massage, vibration, muscle release techniques, trigger point therapy, myofascial release, and more), home and/or in-office exercise training, nutritional counseling, physical therapy modalities, and more. Chiropractic HVLA manipulation has strong research support as being a VERY effective management approach for patients with either acute or chronic neck pain!

 

This information should not be substituted for medical or chiropractic advice. Any and all healthcare concerns, decisions, and actions must be done through the advice and counsel of a healthcare professional who is familiar with your updated medical history.

Knee Pain and Running – Are They Related?

10 Jan

Knee pain is a common complaint that will affect about 30% of the general population at some point in adulthood. Since running has a reputation for causing knee pain due to “wear and tear”, the question frequently arises as to whether or not running accelerates knee problems. So, what does the current body of research say?

In a 2018 study published in The American Journal of Sports Medicine, Dr. Christopher Bramah and colleagues reported that the most frequent injuries in runners include the knee (50%), the foot (39%), and the lower leg (32%). Sounds like running is bad, right?

In a small pilot study that included six healthy runners aged 18-35, researchers analyzed blood and knee joint synovial fluid samples before a 30-minute run, immediately after their run, and after a 30-minute rest. To the surprise of the research team, the inflammatory markers that are associated with conditions like osteoarthritis (OA) were higher before the run and lower in the two timeframes following the run. This suggests running may be protective against OA.

Due to the small number of subjects tested, the authors are quick to point out that they plan to run a larger scale study and will test the inflammatory marker levels at a week or longer after running to see how long this “protection” lasts. Critics have also stated that a 30-minute run is relatively short and cite a study of marathon runners (26.2 miles, or 42.2 km) that found changes in the cartilage that could suggest potential for injuries that persisted for three months after the marathon.

Another study compared data concerning recreational runners, competitive runners, and non-runners from several prior studies (a “meta-analysis”) and found that recreational runners had a LOWER occurrence of OA than participants in the other groups.

A study that compared 1,207 UK male soccer players vs. 4,085 men from the general population (all around age 60) showed that soccer players were twice as likely to have knee pain (52% vs. 27%, respectively). Furthermore, approximately 28% of the soccer players vs. 12% of non-soccer players had radiographically diagnosed knee OA, and the athletes were three times more likely to have received a total knee replacement.

In summary, it appears that short distance leisurely running on healthy knees is safe and even perhaps preventive against OA. On the other hand, engaging in more high-intensity activity may increase the risk for problems with the knee. If a person has OA, walking may be the safer option, but this must be individually determined.

Research has shown that problems elsewhere in the body, such as the ankle and hips, may place added strain on the knees, which can elevate the risk for problems in that region. This is why it’s important to evaluate the whole patient when they present for care for a condition like knee pain, as a satisfying outcome may not be achieved if contributing factors are not addressed.

 

This information should not be substituted for medical or chiropractic advice. Any and all healthcare concerns, decisions, and actions must be done through the advice and counsel of a healthcare professional who is familiar with your updated medical history.

Can a Job Cause Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

7 Jan

Every career has its pros and cons when it comes to physical exertion, stress, work hours, the physical environment (temperature, cleanliness, etc.), and more. But when a worker develops carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), is it the job that’s the culprit or is there something else responsible for the patient’s symptoms?

Since we spend about a third of our time each week at work, it only makes sense that certain jobs are more likely to cause or exacerbate CTS. The current research shows that jobs that include the following factors have an elevated risk for repetitive stress injuries, like CTS: highly repetitive tasks; exposure to vibratory/percussive forces; and little-to-no down time or rest breaks.

Examples of careers associated with such factors include auto repair, landscaping, garment work, computer work, dental hygiene, hair dressing, music, retail, radiology, meatpacking, massage therapy, and carpentry, just to name a few.

One’s risk for developing the symptoms associated with CTS can also be raised by factors outside of work such as having conditions like diabetes, hypothyroid, obesity, and arthritis (rheumatoid and osteoarthritis, most commonly); hormonal changes associated with birth control pills and pregnancy; and musculoskeletal dysfunction elsewhere along the course of the carpal tunnel. If someone who may already have an increased risk for CTS takes on a vocation that requires repetitive and forceful movements with few breaks, then the chances they develop pain, tingling, and numbness in their hands and wrists may be even higher.

The good news is that in many cases, a worker can recover from CTS and return to their job of choice (that is, not have to change careers) with reasonable work modifications (better ergonomics, more breaks, changes to the tools used), better management of health conditions associated with increased CTS risk, night splinting, dietary modifications to reduce inflammation and promote healing, and conservative care to address any musculoskeletal issues that are present (of which chiropractic care is a fantastic choice).

 

This information should not be substituted for medical or chiropractic advice. Any and all healthcare concerns, decisions, and actions must be done through the advice and counsel of a healthcare professional who is familiar with your updated medical history.

A Less Obvious Cause of Back Pain?

3 Jan

Multiple studies have shown that hyper-pronation (HP), or too much rolling-inwards of the ankle, can have effects on the body far beyond the foot. For example, abnormal motion of the ankle can lead to slight changes in how the knees and pelvis move as you carry out your normal daily activities, placing added strain on these structures and increasing the risk of injury in both the short and long term. These faulty movement patterns can also lead to improper motion and a higher risk for injury above the hips, including in the lower back.

In one study that involved patients with low back pain (LBP), researchers found that improving both ankle pronation (with foot orthotics) and lower limb weakness (with exercise) resulted in improvements in knee, hip, and low back function.

Foot orthotics often include a lateral heel wedge to correct the rolling-in effect of the ankle. One study measured the effects that a 5º heel wedge had on the lower limb up to the thorax, noting significant 3-dimensional kinematic changes occurred on the hip, pelvis, and thorax. However, over-correction (at 10º), had detrimental effects on proper motion elsewhere in the body, which underscores the importance of getting an accurate prescription when fitting foot orthotics. Likewise, other studies have demonstrated that a forefoot orthotic may also be required to ensure proper biomechanics while walking.

A study that included 213 high school and college cross country runners (107 male, 106 female) found that 37 (17.4%) wore foot orthotics. Of the 37 orthotic users, 17 (54.8%) wore them for exercise-related leg pain, of which 15 of the 17 reported benefits. Another study compared the load on the Achilles tendon during running both with and without foot orthotics and reported that running with foot orthotics was associated with significant reductions in Achilles tendon loading compared to running without orthotics.

These studies clearly support the MANY benefits foot orthotics have on the whole body or structure, which facilitate both the short- and long-term management of conditions like low back pain! Doctors of chiropractic frequently fit foot orthotics for lower extremity complaints, as well as LBP.

 

This information should not be substituted for medical or chiropractic advice. Any and all healthcare concerns, decisions, and actions must be done through the advice and counsel of a healthcare professional who is familiar with your updated medical history.

The Link Between Breathing and Posture…

20 Dec

If someone said that suboptimal breathing patterns and problems associated with posture and trunk stability are related, what would you say? Sounds pretty far-fetched, doesn’t it?

There are many factors that can result in both faulty respiration and poor posture including poor exercise tolerance (being “out of shape”), dyspnea (shortness of breath), poor chest expansion, poor neuromuscular control of core and pelvic floor muscles, diaphragm issues (hernia, muscle shortness, poor pressure output), increased lumbar lordosis, and low back pain. This is because several of the muscles that help control posture and stabilize the core—such as the thoracic diaphragm, transverse abdominus, and the pelvic floor muscles—are also involved in the breathing process.

One of the most critical and overlooked factors is the ability to maintain an optimal zone of apposition (ZOA) of the diaphragm. This refers to the dome, or “umbrella” part, of the diaphragm and its attachments to the lower rib cage. The ZOA is important because it is largely controlled by the abdominal muscles and plays a role in how much air you can take in while breaking, or maximal respiration.

When the ZOA is decreased or not optimum, the result is inefficient breathing (less air in and out) and reduced activation of the transverse abdominus muscle (important for BOTH respiration and low back stabilization). A suboptimal ZOA can be the result of a combination of increased curve in the low back (hyperlordosis), long abdominal muscles (a large belly), long hamstring muscles (forward pelvic tilt), and/or a weak pelvic floor.

The following is a therapeutic exercise that promotes optimal posture and finely tunes the neuromotor control of the deep abdominals, diaphragm, and pelvic floor: 1) Lie on your back and put your feet on a wall with both the knees and hips bent at 90 degrees. 2) Place a small (4-6 in, or 10.16-15.24 cm) ball between your knees. 3) Place your right arm above your head and place a balloon in your mouth with the left hand.  4) INHALE through the nose and simultaneously perform a posterior pelvic tilt (flatten your low back into the floor/mat) while pulling downward with your heels (as if to bend the knees – don’t push into the wall) and gently squeeze the ball with your knees.  5) Inhale through the nose and exhale or blow slowly into the balloon, then pause for three seconds by pressing the tongue to the roof of the mouth (to prevent blowing into the balloon). 6) Without pinching the neck of the balloon and while keeping your tongue placed on the roof of the mouth, inhale again through your nose (without the balloon deflating).

Relax and repeat the sequence four more times. When blowing into the balloon, do not strain your neck or cheeks. After the fourth breath in, pinch the balloon neck and remove it from your mouth and let the air out of the balloon.

This information should not be substituted for medical or chiropractic advice. Any and all healthcare concerns, decisions, and actions must be done through the advice and counsel of a healthcare professional who is familiar with your updated medical history.