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Sep. 09, 2013Been Seeing a Lot of Knee Pain Lately

posted by StellaM under Uncategorized

The title says it all. I’ve been seeing a lot of patients with knee pain in my office- it’s almost surpassing the quantity of low back pain sufferers. Both young and old. Both active and inactive. These are the complaints I hear, almost verbatim:

“It hurts when I walk up and down the stairs”

“I need to stretch my leg frequently”

“Sometimes it feels like my knee is going to give out”

“I can’t squat down to pick things up”

“I can’t really pinpoint the pain. It’s sort of under the kneecap”

“My doctor told me I have arthritis and may need a knee replacement one day”

Does this sound familiar? It’s a frustrating thing, this knee pain, because it comes on for no known reason and when you see your doctor, you get few answers. Well, hopefully this will help…

The knee joint is made up of the the femur and the tibia, with the kneecap (patella) positioned just right over the femur. Holding this joint in place are a number of ligaments and muscles, while the cartilage and meniscus provide a cushion. As with every other part of the body, muscle imbalances develop with lack of proper training. In regards to the knee, the muscle imbalances occur between the outer part of the thigh and the inner part of the thigh, causing the kneecap to shift away from center.

This is called “patellar tracking.” Poor tracking leads to grinding of the cartilage under the kneecap against the femur, leading to pain when the knee is bent. Ouch!

Knee

Why in the world would these muscle imbalances develop? The simple answer is that we don’t do enough exercises to train these muscles. A more complicated, yet equally important, answer is that the joints above and below the knees are out of balance and lead to poor biomechanics.

The first thing to do is get checked and find out if spinal imbalances are the cause of your knee pain, and correct them! At this point, we can develop a plan to make the muscles strong and flexible to get the knee functioning as it should.

Do not ignore the signs of knee pain! Ignored long enough and the worn cartilage eventually leads to degeneration and arthritis in the knee that cannot be reversed.

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Jun. 06, 2013Why do babies need Chiropractic?

posted by StellaM under Uncategorized

This blog is the perfect opportunity to share a special experience in our office. We had the pleasure of checking and adjusting a wonderful practice member’s adorable baby, Lucas! Lucas was presented into our office only five days after he was born and his parents wanted to make sure his development started off on the right foot.

First question you must be asking yourself is: “why does an infant need chiropractic care?” This is a fair question since babies haven’t had the chance to develop spinal problems or injured muscles. However, babies do have developing spines and can show signs of neurological distress.

The first trauma a human experiences is birth. We tend to think of a “trauma” as something major, like a car accident or a sports injury. In reality, because a newborn’s spine is so vulnerable, the delivery almost always creates minor misalignments, most often in the upper neck.

Left uncorrected, these misalignments slowly wreak havoc on the developing nervous system and body. Whereas adults tend to show problems through pain, babies show problems in their development. Examples include digestive issues, sleeping problems, feeding difficulties, irritability and immune deficits. These issues have become so common, that we have come to believe they are a normal part of a baby’s development.

The second question you might be asking yourself is: “is adjusting babies safe?” When we think of an adjustment, we generally think of the manual type, where there is a lot of movement and “cracking” (not my favorite term, but it is quite descriptive). Children are not adjusted this way! Imagine the pressure it takes to feel a tomato for ripeness… that tiny amount of pressure is enough to coax the vertebrae back into a neutral alignment. Sometimes parents look at me and ask, “Is that it?” We are used to seeing so many problems in adults, and the time and effort it takes to deliver the adjustment, that we can hardly believe a baby requires so little! Yet, this small, gentle adjustment makes a tremendous difference in how their little spines develop.

Chiropractic for children, especially infants, is a prime example of preventative care. It’s finding the small adjustments needed to prevent the problems we see as teenagers and adults. We often ask ourselves “why would a baby need an adjustment?” Hopefully after reading this segment, the question will be “why would a baby NOT need an adjustment?”

Baby Lucas is currently being checked regularly, and adjusted very gently to take the stress off of his nervous system and allow him to develop properly and healthy. He currently shows no signs of distress, and we hope to keep him that way! Being absolutely adorable helps, too ☺

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Jun. 06, 2013I crack my neck all day at my desk

posted by StellaM under Uncategorized

Raise your hand if this sounds like you…

You’re sitting at your desk at work, plugging away on a project and you feel a tense pressure building in your neck. You tilt your head to the right and look up, trying to stretch and then you feel a *CRACK*! That tension instantly feels better and you carry on your project.

Five minutes later, the tension builds again, so you decide to crack it again to get relief. Once again, your neck feels better for a few minutes and then tightens up again. This process continues throughout the day and eventually you go home with a headache.

Are you seeing a cycle here? What’s going on?

If we look at the natural anatomy of the cervical spine (neck), we see a nice “C-shaped” curve:

curves

Without proper care of this curve (aka sitting behind a computer all day), it straightens into a line. So what? Why is this bad? A reversed cervical curve strays so far from the desired position, that it causes the muscles of the neck to tighten and guard. This is the tension and pain you are feeling that causes you to want to crack your neck.

Popping your neck is a form of self adjusting that indicates an underlying problem. The neck crack causes the muscles around the joints to instantly relax, which is why you find relief. However, because the cervical spine has lost some structural integrity, the ligaments holding those joints become weakened and can no longer support the neck. At this point, the muscles tighten up again as a way to support the bones and joints.

Do you see the cycle now? Tight muscles –> cracking –> weakened ligaments –> tight muscles. Rinse and repeat.

Reverse curve

If you find yourself falling into this vicious cycle, be aware that this is a way your body is telling you something is wrong. The longer the cycle continues, the more chronic it becomes and the longer it takes to reverse. Chiropractors are trained to find the root cause of the problem and which joints must be addressed, specifically. By adjusting the proper parts of the spine, the muscles and ligaments get a chance to heal and the symptoms disappear.

Stop the cycle and get your spine examined!

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Jun. 06, 2013Carpal Tunnel Syndrome… Or Is It?

posted by StellaM under Uncategorized

If I had a dime for every person who works with computers who has said to me “My wrist hurts. I think I have carpal tunnel”…

Perhaps it is carpal tunnel, but more often than not, it isn’t the carpal tunnel to blame at all.

What exactly is carpal tunnel syndrome? Well, let’s take a glance at the anatomy of the arm and wrist. There are a number of nerves and blood vessels that originate from the spinal cord up at the neck. These nerves and blood vessels run down the arm and branch into many parts, which affect various parts of the arm, hand and fingers. On the underside of the wrist (flip your arm so that your palm is facing up), there is a piece of tissue called the “carpal ligament (aka tunnel).” The carpal tunnel sits directly on top of the critical nerves that run underneath it and into the hand and fingers.

Carpal tunnel occurs when you do a repetitive motion with the arm and wrist, incorrectly, for extended periods of time. For example: typing at the computer with the wrists dipping too far down or too high up. Or a grocery store checker who swipes groceries over the scanner hundreds of times a day. Done repeatedly, these types of actions can inflame this carpal tunnel and cause it suffocate a major nerve that makes its way into the hand.

Carpal Tunnel

Symptoms? Pain, tingling and numbness in the wrist and the fingers, specifically the thumb and index finger.

By now you might be nodding your head, thinking “this sounds familiar. I think I have carpal tunnel.”

Let’s not forget that the nerve the runs into the fingers originates all the way in the neck, and travels down the arm, passing by numerous muscle sites. This is important to note, because this nerve can be compressed by various other muscles in the forearm and upper arm. This nerve may also be stressed due to a misalignment in the neck and upper back (or both!) In fact, most cases of tingling in the hand actually come from the cervical spine and the surrounding muscles.

cervical radiculopathy

Before you self-diagnose your symptoms, allow us to examine you and find the root cause of these symptoms. Many people ineffectively treat carpal tunnel because the problem is coming from a different area. At Stay Active Chiropractic, we treat the entire body- that means we don’t just look at one part, but address all of the links that are interconnected. A neck misalignment leads to poor biomechanics, muscle imbalances and injuries that work their way down all the way into the fingertips.

Chiropractic plus Active Release is the power combo to get your health back in line!

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May. 05, 2013My back went out when I tied my shoes!

posted by StellaM under Uncategorized

This is the classic scenario: you look down and see your shoelaces have become untied. You bend down to tie them and when you come to stand up… BAM! Your low back “goes out” and you can’t straighten up.

I see this in my office on a daily basis and have the conversation about how to bend down properly with every one of my patients.

Let’s start with a little bit of anatomy. All of your bones and joints are connected to one another via ligaments. Ligaments hold these joints in their position, be it a “proper” position or not. Unlike muscles, ligaments are not designed to stretch and contract. They ONLY stretch, and when stretched repeatedly, they eventually become sprained, lax and weak.

The first time you bend down to tie your shoes without bending the legs, nothing happens. So you do this again. And again. Maybe you do it the same way for many years and feel fine. Then, one day that ligament has had enough stretching and becomes strained and weakened. At this point, it cannot bounce back to it’s original position (which, in this case, is standing straight).

Imagine a rubber band that you stretch, hundreds of times a day. At first, the rubber band is resilient and comes back to it’s normal shape. But tug on it every day for a few weeks, and that rubber band loses it’s elasticity and becomes flimsy.

Bend over

This is why you always hear people say “bend with the legs.” The legs have strong, powerful muscles designed to withstand repetitive bending and lifting. Use them! Every so often, we all cheat and bend at the spine, but this repetitive motion creates the microtrauma that results in a strained low back.

Don’t fall prey to a back injury that occurs due to reaching down to pick up a pencil or tying your shoes over and over again. By the 100th time, it will become the straw that breaks the camel’s back!

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