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Posts for: May, 2016

By Dr. Doug Williams
May 24, 2016
Tags: chiropractic medicine   pain   neck  

Three Simple Solutions for Neck Pain


Over the next few weeks, we are going to be covering some common neck conditions, and ways to address neck pain and other related issues (Text Neck, Standing Desks, etc.). Today's blog post will go over a few basics about how your neck works and three solutions you can do on your own when it isn't working right!

1. Maintain the Neck Curve             

When viewed from the side, the neck should have a forward c-shaped curve. Curves act like shock absorbers - if you lose the normal curve, all of the stress of the weight of your head (up to 12 pounds) is driven into your neck and shoulders (as pictured on the left).

Maintaining a proper neck curve is the first order of business when seeking a solution for neck pain. It all starts with paying attention to times and events on a day-to-day basis where you might lose the curve. This may include:

  • Working on a computer: Make sure the screen is elevated to the point where, if you took a string from your chin straight out, it would hit the middle of the screen. Most screens are situated too low. If you sit on a couch/easy chair and use a laptop, place your laptop on a pillow so it is elevated. If you find yourself working off a table or desk with your laptop, consider getting a plug-in keyboard and raising your whole laptop off the table or desk.
  • Sleeping: When you lay on your back in bed, use a thin pillow; a thick pillow will push your head forward and take out the curve. If you lay on your side, use a slightly thicker pillow so your head does not drop down toward the bed. Your head-to-shoulder angle should be between 70 and 90 degrees.  
  • Reading/Watching TV: If you are reading on a couch or easy chair, use a pillow on your lap to elevate the book or device. If you are reading at a desk or table, try to lean the book against another book, so it sits upright - better yet, use a document or recipe book holder. For watching TV, three things: 1) Don't do it in bed, 2) Don't recline your chair, and 3) Don't sit an angle of more than 30 degrees off the center of the T.V.
  • Texting/Using a mobile device: Seriously, who doesn't know how bad texting is for the neck? I fear for the next generation - they won't know what clouds and stars look like because they'll never look up! When you text, do your best to hold the device up, even a little. If you are sitting at home, prop your elbows on a pillow in your lap, or sit at the table and put your elbows up. If you are texting while driving, YOU SHOULDN'T BE!
2. Take Frequent Stretch Breaks
Often, the source of pain in and around a neck are the muscles that support it. When any part of the spine is held in a position for too long, the muscles may experience a reduced blood supply and become hypoxic, leading to pain. Simply getting up and moving can bring oxygen to the area and remove metabolic build-up. When doing sustained work, most of us check the clock fairly frequently - try to get up and stretch out, and move every half hour. Check out our previous blog post "The Best Two Stretches I Know" for a print out of some easy-to-do stretches for the neck.

3. Get More Magnesium In Your Diet
Magnesium is a rate-limiting nutrient. A rate-limiting nutrient means when there is not enough of it is present, things will not get done. With regard to muscles, this can mean that they have trouble contracting and relaxing. Your neck muscles spend all day trying to keep the bowling ball that is your head balanced on top of your shoulders - if your muscles are low on magnesium, they can start to cramp up, causing neck pain. Incorporating more magnesium-rich foods in your diet and maybe even a supplement (we recommend 400 mg of additional magnesium a day) can often reduce and even eliminate neck pain. You can check out a list of magnesium rich foods here. If you are going to take magnesium as a supplement, remember: magnesium is a muscle relaxer, which means it can also work on the bowels. Don't be too far away from a bathroom until you see how your own body responds!
 
Additional Help
Because neck pain and headaches often go together, it is worth reading our previous blog post "5 Simple Solutions for Your Headaches" for more good ideas on how to reduce pain in the head and neck region.

Neck pain is a big deal. If these solutions are working for you, don't stop practicing them just because you are feeling better, or you are likely to see the pain creep back in.

If you have tried these things and you are still having trouble, contact our office. It may be time for a more in-depth look to get to the bottom of your pain and get you on your way back to living life!

To Your Health,

Doug Williams, D.C.
Care Chiropractic
Lafayette, Indiana   

By Dr. Doug Williams
May 17, 2016
Category: Healthy Aging
Tags: prevention   fall  
This week's blog is on fall prevention. Falls are serious business and not just for chiropractic offices! Chances are, if you haven't had a serious fall or know someone who has, you will soon.

Below are a few interesting fall statistics from the Center for Disease Controls:
  • One out of five falls causes a serious injury such as broken bones or a head injury.
  • Each year, 2.5 million older people are treated in emergency departments for fall injuries.
  • Over 700,000 patients/year are hospitalized because of a fall injury, most often because of a head injury or hip fracture.
  • Each year, at least 250,000 older people are hospitalized for hip fractures.
  • More than 95% of hip fractures are caused by falling, usually by falling sideways.
  • Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries (TBI).
  • Adjusted for inflation, the direct medical costs for fall injuries are $34 billion annually. Hospital costs account for two-thirds of the total.
Most people associate falling, especially serious falls, with just "getting older." That is just what happens when we age, right?

Question: Do you think that your balance is fine up until age 65 and then on your birthday, POOF! it just goes away?

Yeah, I don't think so either!

Balance is a complex dance between your nerves, muscles, joints and brain. Each one of these components needs to be firing in sequence and with precision and strength in order for you not to trip over the cat. If your muscles are strong, but your joints are stiff, then you'll have problems. If your joints are mobile but your nerve system is slow, then you'll have problems. If your joints are mobile and your nerve system is firing well, but your muscles are weak, then you'll have problems!

Now, obviously we don't live in our bodies forever, and an 80-year old is not the same as an 8-year old. There are also diseases that attack the muscles, nerves and joints that can lead to poor balance and falls. But, I have also treated 85-year olds who move more like 45-year olds. I would wager to say that a large number of falls are not disease-related and not solely due to age. The scientific literature bears this out, leading to Fall Prevention becoming a huge industry.

Doc, tell me something I don't know! Many of you reading this might find it interesting and maybe even helpful for someone you know, but hey, you haven't had any falls right? Why worry now? Isn't fall prevention something you do in a nursing home? Yes and no. It is vital that those of a certain age and/or who have had previous falls to engage in a fall-specific training program. However, if you wait until you've actually had a fall to start working on preventing one, you are way behind the eight ball!  A more accurate way to think about fall prevention is to re-frame it as Balance Training. When you start accessing and improving your current level of balance competency, you have the benefit of improving your health now AND later!  

One of the easiest ways to see where your current level of balance is the Single Leg Stance Test. The name of the test sums it up: you should be able to stand unassisted with your eyes open on one leg for a reasonable amount of time. For ages 50-59, you should be able to stand on one leg for about 35-39 seconds or longer. Younger than that, a longer period of time; older than that, slightly less.
                                          

If you try this test and find yourself wanting, regardless of your age or fall history, THE TIME TO START TRAINING IS NOW! Don't worry, training is easy: practice the Single Leg Stance Test several times a day - while brushing your teeth, talking on the phone (unless you are in the car), taking a break from working at the computer, etc. Remember, balance is a complex dance between the brain, nerves, muscles and joints. When you train for balance, you are training all of these systems, and you will reap benefits in all of these areas individually and collectively!

For more information on falls, check out the CDC website. Give the following exercise a try!  Remember, it is never to late or early to begin a healthy lifestyle!
 
 
Here's to your health!
Doug Williams, D.C.
Care Chiropractic, Lafayette

By Dr. Doug Williams
May 10, 2016
Category: Healthy Aging

Researchers across the globe have discovered that it may be possible to prevent or delay the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease and other types of dementia through a combination of healthy habits.

At the American Psychiatric Associations 2013 Annual Meeting, Dr. Gary Small, renowned Professor of Psychiatry and Director of the UCLA Longevity Center at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, gave essentially a State of the Union Address on Alzheimer's disease (AD). You can review that here.

Dr. Small notes that research suggests genetics account for only one-third of AD cases, while the remaining two-thirds are dependent on non-genetic factors. He outlined the following non-genetic lifestyle risk factors:

  1. Physical Conditioning
  2. Mental Stimulation
  3. Stress Management
  4. Nutrition (specifically an anti-inflammatory diet)

Physical conditioning has the strongest link with reduced risk for AD. Research shows exercising can lower bio-markers (lab work) associated with an increased risk of developing AD. People who walk regularly, even for as little as 15 minutes a day, can reduce their risk for AD.

Mental stimulation is essentially exercise for the brain. When reviewing mental stimulation, Dr. Small presented interesting research, demonstrating how learning new technology (phones, computers, etc.) increased in brain activity, thus lowering the risk for AD.

Stress management includes habitual practices, such as meditation, getting an adequate amount of sleep, and social interaction, among others.

Nutrition is linked as one of the biggest risk factors for AD, specifically an inflammatory-inducing diet. Dr. Small cited the Mediterranean diet (high in Omega 3 fatty acids/fish oil and fresh fruits and vegetables) as a particularly beneficial diet for reducing the risk of developing AD. You can review some background on anti-inflammatory diets here and here on our blog.

Many other types of dementia (including Mild Cognitive Impairment) have also been associated with the same four risk factors as the ones listed above for AD. All of these types of dementia, at least in part, can be impacted by lifestyle choices! Remember, it is never too early OR too late to make changes to achieve a healthier lifestyle.



COME TO OUR CLASS ON DEMENTIA RELATED STRATEGIES

If you, or someone you know, is concerned about Alzheimer's or other types of dementia, come to our class on Dementia Related Strategies on Tuesday, May 17th at 6:30pm in our office (134 Executive Drive #3, Lafayette). We will be discussing more in-depth about Alzheimer's and MCI, and giving some practical recommendations for you to take home.

The class is free, but registration is necessary.
Call us at 765-448-6489 to reserve a spot!


Alzheimer's Disease and Mild Cognitive Impairment are two types of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior. In addition, they have been associated with increases in depression, irritability, anxiety, apathy and aggression. According to the Alzheimer's Association, Alzheimer's is the most common type of dementia, accounting tor 60-80% of dementia cases. However, given the variety and different sub-groups of dementia and the way population estimates are determined, this may be difficult to determine. Regardless of the type of dementia, dementia can have a huge impact on both the patient and family members.

An Overview of Alzheimer's Disease


Tiny changes in the brain occur long before the first signs of memory loss. With 100 billion neurons (nerve cells) that connect and communicate with other cells, it's no wonder these cells require coordination to keep everything running smoothly, as well as large amounts of fuel and oxygen.

Memories and thoughts move through individual neurons as a small electrical charge. Neurons connect with one another via synapses. When a charge reaches a synapse, it may trigger the release of tiny bursts of chemicals called neurotransmitters that carry signals to other cells. Neurons are the main type of cell destroyed by Alzheimer's disease, which disrupts the way these electrical charges travel and the activity of neurotransmitters.

Over time, Alzheimer's disease leads to nerve cell death and loss of brain tissue. As a result, the brain shrinks dramatically, which affects nearly all of its functions (ie, thinking, planning, remembering, forming new memories, etc.)
 
 
 
An Overview of Mild Cognitive Impairment
 
According to the Mayo Clinic, Mild Cognitive Impairment (or MCI) is defined as "an intermediate stage between the expected cognitive decline of normal aging and the more serious decline of dementia. It can involve problems with memory, language, thinking and judgment that are greater than normal age-related changes." While people with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) may be at greater risk for developing Alzheimer's disease later on, some people never get worse and some people improve.

Patients with MCI may show some of the physical brain changes as Alzheimer's, but often to a lesser degree.
 
Risk Factors Associated With Alzheimer's and MCI

Currently, there is a tremendous amount of research time and money being spent on the causes and treatment of both Alzheimer's and MCI. While the amount of information pertaining to these two diseases is growing, the direct mechanism and, therefore, specific treatment is still lacking. What is known however are some of the environmental risk factors that may be associated, which are often under one's control. These risk factors may include:
  • Diabetes
  • Current smoking
  • Depression
  • High blood pressure
  • Elevated cholesterol
  • Lack of physical exercise
  • Infrequent participation in mentally or socially stimulating activities

Minimizing these risk factors has the potential of impacting both the expression (possibility of developing a condition), severity (how intensely it presents) and, in some cases, progression (potential to develop into a more severe stage).

Next week's article will explore what you can personally do to help reduce and minimize both the risk factors and possibly expression of these two disease states.



COME TO OUR CLASS ON DEMENTIA RELATED STRATEGIES


If you, or someone you know, is concerned about Alzheimer's or other types of dementia, come to our class on Dementia Related Strategies on Tuesday, May 17th at 6:30pm in our office (134 Executive Drive #3, Lafayette). We will be discussing more in-depth about Alzheimer's and MCI, and giving some practical recommendations for you to take home.

The class is free, but registration is necessary.
Call us at 765-448-6489 to reserve a spot!