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Fibromyalgia and Physical Activity

18 Aug

Are there differences in lifestyle between people with vs. without fibromyalgia (FM)?

A recent study found women with FM found spend more time engaged in sedentary behaviors and less time in physical activity. In the study, researchers followed 413 female patients with FM and 188 age-matched healthy female controls. Researchers used three different approaches to access physical activity: a triaxial accelerometer to examine sedentary time, time spent in physical activity, and step counts.

They discovered those who suffered from FM spent an average of 39 more minutes per day in sedentary activity and 21 fewer minutes per day in light physical activity, 17 fewer minutes per day in moderate physical activity, and 19 fewer minutes per day in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity. In addition, those with FM took a mean of 1,881 fewer steps that those without FM.

Now, this isn’t really a surprise given the fact that people with FM are in pain and more likely to have difficulties sleeping and tolerating prolonged activities. After comparing the sufferers to the non-sufferers, the researchers found only 21% of FM patients vs. 46% of non-FM controls achieved the recommended 150 minutes/week (a little over 20 min. / day) of “moderate-to-vigorous” physical activity. They also found that only 16% vs. 45%, respectively, walked the recommended ≥10,000 steps per day.

One of the BEST forms of exercise for most people is walking. A walking program should be a staple exercise. It’s important to note that this should be GRADUALLY introduced so as to avoid an overuse injury—strain or sprain of the muscles and joints. This gradual introduction into activity is ESPECIALLY important for the FM sufferer as overuse injuries can make them afraid to do something that can REALLY help when done correctly!

If you, a friend or family member requires care for Fibromyalgia, we sincerely appreciate the trust and confidence shown by choosing our services!

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Fibromyalgia – “What Is the BEST Diet?”

25 Jul

Fibromyalgia (FM) and its cause remains a mystery, but most studies suggest that FM is NOT the result of a single event but rather a combination of many physical, chemical, and emotional stressors.

The question of the month regarding the BEST FM diet is intriguing since one might assume that the many causes should mean that there isn’t one dietary solution. But is that true? Could there be a “best diet” to help ease the symptoms from such a multi-faceted disorder?

Certainly, healthy eating is VERY important for ALL of us regardless of our current ailment(s). Obesity is rampant largely due to the fact that 60% of the calories consumed by the “typical” American center around eating highly inflaming food that include those rich in Sugar, Omega-6 oil, Flour, and Trans fats (“SOFT” foods, if you will!). Obesity has been cited as “an epidemic” largely due to kids and adults becoming too sedentary (watching TV, playing on electronic devices, etc.) and eating poorly.

Perhaps the BEST way to manage the pain associated with FM and to maintain a healthy BMI (Body Mass Index, or ratio between height and weight) is to substitute ANTI-INFLAMING foods for those that inflame (or SOFT foods).

You can simplify your diet by substituting OUT “fast foods” for fruits, vegetables, and lean meats. So there you have it. It’s that simple. The problem is making up your mind to change and then actually doing it. Once these two things take place, most everyone can easily “recalibrate” their caloric intake and easily adapt.

Not only have studies shown that chronic illnesses like heart disease, stroke, and diabetes significantly benefit by following this simple dietary shift, but so does pain arising from the musculoskeletal system! This is because the human body is made up largely of chemicals, and chemical shifts are constantly taking place when it moves. If you reach for an anti-inflammatory drug like ibuprofen or naproxen and it helps, it’s because you ARE inflamed and the drug reduces the pain associated with that inflammation. This is an indication that an anti-inflammatory diet WILL HELP as well (but without the negative side effects)!

The list of chronic conditions that result in muscle pain not only includes FM but also obesity, metabolic syndrome, and type II diabetes. Conditions like tension-type and migraine headaches, neck and back pain, disk herniation, and tendonopathies and MANY more ALL respond WELL to making this SIMPLE change in the diet. For more information on how to “DEFLAME,” visit http://www.deflame.com! It could be a potential “lifesaver!”

If you, a friend or family member requires care for Fibromyalgia, we sincerely appreciate the trust and confidence shown by choosing our services!

Fibromyalgia – “What Are Some Good Exercises?”

5 May

Fibromyalgia (FM) is a very common, chronic condition where the patient describes “widespread pain” not limited to one area of the body. Hence, when addressing exercises for FM, one must consider the whole body. Perhaps one of the most important to consider is the squat.

If you think about it, we must squat every time we sit down, stand up, get in/out of our car, and in/out of bed. Even climbing and descending steps results in a squat/lunge type of movement.

The problem with squatting is that we frequently lose (or misuse) the proper way to do this when we’re in pain as the pain forces us to compensate, which can cause us to develop faulty movement patterns that can irritate our ankles, knees, hips, and spine (particularly the low back). In fact, performing a squatting exercise properly will strengthen the hips, which will help protect the spine, and also strengthens the glutel muscles, which can help you perform all the daily activities mentioned above.

The “BEST” type of squat is the freestanding squat. This is done by bending the ankles, knees, and hips while keeping a curve in the low back. The latter is accomplished by “…sticking the butt out” during the squat.

Do NOT allow the knees to drift beyond your toes! If you notice sounds coming from your knees they can be ignored IF they are not accompanied by pain. If you do have pain, try moving the foot of the painful knee about six inches (~15 cm) ahead of the other and don’t squat as far down.

Move within “reasonable boundaries of pain” by staying away from positions that reproduce sharp, lancinating pain that lingers upon completion.

There are MANY exercises that help FM, but this one is particularly important!

Fibromyalgia: A Whole Body Approach

21 Apr

Fibromyalgia is a complicated disorder that’s difficult to diagnose because it involves multiple body systems. As a result, there are a myriad of factors in the body that can play a role in a patient’s symptoms. That said, it’s best to take a whole body approach when it comes to treating a complex condition like FM, starting with the nervous system.

When a patient presents to a chiropractor, the initial examination will look at the body as a whole and will not be limited the main area of complaint. This includes a postural examination in regards to individual leg length (to see if one is shorter); the height of the pelvis, shoulder, and occiput (head); and a gait assessment to evaluate the function of the foot, ankle, knee, hip/pelvis, spine, and head.

Because the nervous system is housed in the spine and cranium, chiropractors specifically look at how the spine compensates for abnormal function elsewhere in the body. When spinal segmental dysfunction is present, altered neurological function often coincides, which results in the symptoms that drive people to the office.

The benefits of spinal manipulative therapy (SMT)—the primary form of treatment delivered by doctors of chiropractic—have been recognized by all other healthcare professions including medical doctors, physical therapists, and osteopathic physicians. In fact, referring patients to chiropractors for SMT has become very commonplace in the healthcare environment. Research has proven SMT to be a FIRST course of care and highly recommended for MANY complaints, especially low back, mid-back, and neck pain, headaches, and many more!

Because fibomyalgia (FM) involves the WHOLE BODY—hence its definition of “wide spread pain,” chiropractic offers a unique approach because it too benefits the whole body by restoring function to the nervous system. For example, when balance is off due to a short leg (this affects 90% of the population to some degree), it can tilt the pelvis, which then places stress on the spine so that it must curve (scoliosis) to keep the head level. Correcting the short leg with a heel lift can restore balance to the pelvis, take pressure off the spine, and relieve some of a patient’s pain symptoms.

In prior articles, we have looked at the many benefits chiropractic offers the FM patient in addition to SMT and other manual therapies. Some of these include tips for improving sleep, exercise training (very important in managing FM), diet—specifically an anti-inflammatory diet (rich in anti-oxidants)—and supplementation (such as magnesium, malic acid, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D3, Co-enzyme Q10, and more).

Most importantly, studies show that the FM patient is BEST served when a “team” of healthcare professionals work together on behalf of the FM patient. Depending on a patient’s needs, the team can include a doctor of chiropractic, a primary care doctor, a massage therapist, a clinical psychologist, and others.

If you, a friend or family member requires care for Fibromyalgia, we sincerely appreciate the trust and confidence shown by choosing our services!

YOU MAY BE A CANDIDATE FOR CHIROPRACTIC CARE FOR FIBROMYALGIA! FOR A FREE NO-OBLIGATION CONSULTATION CALL 717-697-1888

Exercises for Improving Cervical Posture

22 Mar

Is there a “normal” or “best posture” out there? If so, what is it?

Posture is largely inherited; however, there are also environmental, social, and other forces that can affect posture. Some say “good posture” is the position that places the least amount of strain on the body, particularly the muscles and ligaments that hold the body together.

A common cause of poor posture is called forward head carriage (FHC), where the head sits forward of the shoulders, placing a greater strain on the back of the neck and upper back to hold the head upright. Looking at the spine from the side, the opening of the ear should line up with the shoulder, hip, and ankle.

There have been studies that suggest every inch (2.54 cm) of FHC increases muscle strain in neck and upper back by 10 pounds (4.5 kg). That means a 5 inch (~12.7 cm) FHC adds an extra 50 pounds (~22.7 kg) of strain on the neck and upper back to hold the head upright. So what can we do to improve our posture?

First, stay active to reduce the normal rate of degeneration that affects us all as we “mature” through life! This recommendation requires us to keep fit and strive to maintain a normal BMI (“body mass index” or weight/height ratio) by balancing calorie intake and exercise.

Now, besides being evaluated for specific spinal care, there are a couple exercises you can do to help improve your cervical posture:

EXERCISE #1 is called a chin tuck. Here, you simply pull your chin inwards, producing a “double chin.” If you do this as far as you can and talk your voice will sound funny (“nasal-like”). Release the tuck until your voice clears. The moment it clears, STOP – that’s your “new” head position. Try to maintain that all day. You will have to remind yourself to “…keep it tucked” frequently at first but as time goes on, it will feel more natural. This can take about three months on average, so BE PATIENT!

EXERCISE #2 will strengthen the deep neck flexor muscles by doing the exact same thing as exercise #1 BUT adds a hand, a towel, or a TheraBand (anything works) for resistance behind the neck so that as you chin tuck, you PRESS the back of your mid-neck into your finger tips (or Band, towel, etc.) and hold for five seconds (then, release slowly). Do this five, ten, or multiple times a day.

There are other exercises but this is a GREAT start! See your doctor of chiropractic for more specific individual needs!

We realize you have a choice in whom you consider for your health care provision and we sincerely appreciate your trust in choosing our service for those needs. If you, a friend, or family member requires care for neck pain or headaches, we would be honored to render our services.

YOU MAY BE A CANDIDATE FOR CHIROPRACTIC CARE FOR NECK PAIN! FOR A FREE NO-OBLIGATION CONSULTATION CALL 717-697-1888

Fibromyalgia Sleep “Tips”

21 Mar

Last month, we discussed the connection between sleep disturbance and the presence of widespread pain found with fibromyalgia (FM). This month’s topic will center on how we can improve our sleep quality with the goal of feeling restored upon waking in the morning!

  • NOISE & LIGHT: Block out noise with earplugs or a sound machine and light with window blinds, heavy curtains, and/or an eye mask. The light emanating from the LED or LCD from TVs, DVRs, or stereos has been found to suppress the pineal gland’s melatonin production (the “sleep hormone”) and thus can interfere with sleep, so try to keep them away from the bedroom. However, a small night light can assist for nighttime bathroom callings!
  • FOOD: Avoid large meals at least two hours before bedtime. Try a glass of milk, yogurt, or a small protein snack if hunger overcomes you. Milk is unique as it contains the amino acid
  1. L-tryptophan, which studies show, helps people sleep!
  • EXERCISE: Aerobic exercise during the day is HIGHLY therapeutic. It reduces stress, reduces pain, reduces depression, and wakes us up! Avoid heavy exercise within three hours before bedtime. Exercise on a REGULAR basis to promote high-quality deep sleep.
  • SLEEP HABITS: Develop good sleeping habits by going to bed at a regular time. Avoid napping in the late afternoon. A “POWER NAP” of no more than 10-15 minutes, ideally about eight hours after waking, is a GOOD THING as it can help you feel refreshed.
  • MENTAL TASKS: Avoid mentally stimulating activity one hour before bedtime to calm the brain.
  • MENTAL CLARITY: Avoid bedtime worries. Try NOT to think about things that are upsetting. Substitute positive thoughts, experiences, and/or visualize favorite hobbies that free up the mind. Try to avoid discussing emotional issues before bedtime.
  • PETS: They are GREAT companions but NOT in the bed at night! Not only can pets kicking and moving disturb rest, their dander can stir up allergies and interfere with sleep.
  • TEMPERATURE: A well-ventilated and temperature controlled (54-74° F or 12.2-23.3° Celsius) bedroom is “key.”
  • BEDROOM “RULES”: The bedroom is for two things: physical intamacy and sleeping. If you wake up in the middle of the night, go to another room and read a book or watch TV until you feel sleepy.
  • AVOID STIMULANTS: AVOID nicotine, caffeine, coffee, chocolate, tea, soft drinks, and various over-the-counter or prescription medications in the late evening, unless under instruction from your physician.
  • RELAXATION TECHNIQUES: Try one (there are many) and practice it at bedtime.
  • REFRAIN FROM DRINKING ALCOHOL: Alcohol is a nervous system depressant and can HELP you fall asleep, BUT a rebound withdrawal can cause nightmares and night sweats. Avoid this close to bedtime (switch to water!).

If you, a friend or family member requires care for Fibromyalgia, we sincerely appreciate the trust and confidence shown by choosing our services!

YOU MAY BE A CANDIDATE FOR CHIROPRACTIC CARE FOR FIBROMYALGIA! FOR A FREE NO-OBLIGATION CONSULTATION CALL 717-697-1888