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Archive for February, 2015

How to Get Rid of a Headache

Thursday, February 19th, 2015

This article will give you tips on how to get rid of a headache.  As someone who has virtually recovered from chronic headaches, I definitely can help with a few practical tips on how to get rid of a pesky headache.

The first thing to address is where headaches are coming from. The type of headache that requires worry are the first or worst headaches of someone’s life.  I remember a patient who came into my office and wanted an adjustment RIGHT NOW.  I had never met him and he was sure that the headache only needed an adjustment.  He had never had a headache in his life.  He had never been to a chiropractor or even had an adjustment and was doing everything he could to get me to give him one because he heard from a friend that it would help.  I like to be pretty detailed when I assess people.  Upon further discussion, he reluctantly told me that he had dental work two weeks previously and it had resulted in an infection so severe into his sinus cavities that it had split his upper lip in two.  The man had a long beard and a lot of facial hair and as he spoke it became very obvious that one side of his face was completely swollen all the way into his eye.  I immediately called my radiologist who recommended an immediate brain scan and an immediate check in to the local hospital.  One of the frustrating things about my job is that when a patient doesn’t like my advice ( this man didn’t) I rarely am informed of what happened to him.  This is the type of headache that always makes me incredibly nervous as a chiropractor.  The patient wants it gone and won’t give me the whole story.  If we miss the origin, we all have major problems.

Luckily, most headaches are not related to situations like this and are relatively simple to reduce or eliminate.  The most common cause of headaches stems from the neck.  Excessive screen time in the way of laptop, desktop, iPad or constant texting keeps your head down and increases the pressure on your neck and upper back causing it to have problems over time and refer pain into your head.  A lot of these headaches start as tightness between the shoulder blades which then tightens up the muscles in the tops of your shoulders and then radiates into your head.

Getting regular chiropractic adjustments to help improve the mobility of your spine will also allow you to sit up for extended periods of time with good posture. Chiropractic adjustments will return your spine’s function and movement to normal and will reduce the amount of muscle pull happening between your neck and your skull thus reducing the amount of pain you feel in your head.

In my office, I frequently recommend exercises to improve your posture, advise patients in ergonomic improvements and when people work close by, I frequently stop by on my lunch to check out their desk set ups.

One of the exercises I most frequently recommend is simply pinching your shoulder blades toward your middle belt loop.  That means down and back.  Commonly my patient will bring their shoulders toward their ears when I ask them to do this.  Don’t.  Bring them together and down.  Also, I have them stand against the wall with their eyes pointed straight ahead and arms out for their sides in the position of a cross. (with bent arms)  I want their heels, butts, shoulders, wrists and the back of their head to touch the wall.  All of this while looking straight ahead, not up toward the ceiling.  It’s hard for my desk workers, especially those that have been at it for years. You can make big improvements in your posture doing those exercises, especially when combined with chiropractic adjustments.

When you bend over and can’t stand up

Thursday, February 19th, 2015

It is a bad day when you bend over and can’t stand up. Sadly, with my new patients it happens too often. The signs of a problem have frequently been coming on for a long time. Often a person has had back pain for years and has regular spasms. It often is picking up something very small; a pen, a bar of soap, a book.  They unsuspectingly bend over and can’t stand up again. Typically this results in session rolling on the floor, gasping and uttering four letter words. Then they throw a heat pack on it which makes it WORSE.

Repeat after me, ice is nice! I don’t care what your co-workers wife who’s a nurse told you, or the emergency room doctor, or your kids football coach told you, do NOT put heat on these. Not hot tubs, not heated car seats, not ever. Ice. Always ice no matter how good the hot pack temporarily feels. Why? Your muscles weren’t contracting enough to support your frame when you bent over and originally hurt yourself. The fact those muscles weren’t firing enough is exactly why you are in pain, please don’t shut them off further with a hot pack. If your doctor recommends this, find a new doctor.

On top of this, make sure you start moving. When your back hurts, a person’s natural first reaction is to lay on the couch and not get up. This will cause you to spasm and stiffen up more. Start by walking to the end of your drive way and back and then do it again. Typically when my patients are in acute spasm, I tell them to do four 15 minute walks a day. They look at me like I am torturing them. It tough love, trust me. I want you to feel better.  The more you sit, the more you will stiffen up, I promise.

The next thing they do is call every chiropractor in the book until they find one the first one who will fit them in immediately. First, just because someone sees you immediately does not make them the best choice for you. Research a trusted quality chiropractor and wait until they can see you. The biggest fallacy people have when they schedule their first appointment with me is that they will skip out the door feeling normal again after a fifteen minute appointment. This rarely happens. If it has happened to you before, consider yourself lucky, it is unlikely to happen again.

Seeing a chiropractor for the first time requires the chiropractor having time to get to know your spine and learning how to adjust you in positions you aren’t used to. It also means that you need to be able to relax for the chiropractor and to do that, you need to learn to trust.  It doesn’t happen in a 15 minute session. Do your research, check online reviews and ask for referrals, then ice and walk until you can get an appointment with someone you trust.

As you start a series of chiropractic adjustments, you may experience some temporary pain with your first few chiropractic adjustments. This is normal. In fact it often means that the chiropractor found the exact source of the problem and you will be on the mend soon. Give chiropractic time to work. While your back spasm that brought you in to my chiropractic office came on suddenly, the problem that caused your back spasm did not. Give the chiropractor time to help change how your spine functions with the chiropractic adjustments. As long as you are seeing someone competent, the more frequently you see the chiropractor for an extended period of time, the longer term result you will get. Make sure you take problems like this as a warning sign that you have a big problem that will drastically affect your quality of life.   If you are not willing to take the steps to resolve it, it will slow you down for a long time.  But! There is hope.  If you have a back problem like this, please call me so I can help.

What to Do If You Have Been in a Car Accident

Wednesday, February 4th, 2015

Since it is the season of snow and ice, I am going to give you a little direction on what to do if you have been in a car accident. Since I am a chiropractor, this is from a doctor’s perspective, not your attorney and not your insurance agent. I am going to assume that since you are reading this, you are safely home on your couch, not frantically googling by the side of the road to discover what to do next.  Obviously if there is any question call 911.

Now that you are home from the accident or the hospital, let’s discuss what your next steps should be to resolve your car accident injuries.

First, before any of your friends tell you the opposite, go find an ice pack in your freezer and put it on any sore area that hurts. When your friends tell you in a few days to use heat too, don’t listen. I repeat, do not listen to someone who tells you to use heat unless they have a diploma that says doctor on their wall…even then it might not be the right advice.

Secondly, in a world where I can’t listen to my radio on the drive home without hearing an advertisement on calling an attorney as soon as you have been injured, my suggestions would be that ‘before pursuing legal action, pursue care for your injuries’.

If you went to the hospital and you have no broken bones but your back or neck are hurting, sore, stiff or just generally painful, go see a highly recommended chiropractor. That person should be able to effectively diagnose your problem, determine if any further testing is needed and start you on a treatment plan to regain your health.

If the problem is with a sprained wrist or potentially torn up shoulder, talk to your doctor (medical or chiropractic doctor) about obtaining any necessary imaging to get a diagnosis and then seek help from a physical therapist.

I firmly believe that instead of drugs or surgery, focus on chiropractic adjustments and physical therapy. You will deal with the actual injury versus masking the pain, feel better faster and save yourself money.

Attention Chiropractors

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