Recommendations to prevent injury if you’re planning to get back to training

Getting back to training

For most of us, January is the best time of the year to get back into a good lifestyle, like eating properly and training on a regular basis. However, few things are important to remember when you are planning to get back to training.

First, choose a physical activity that you really like. It could be walking, training at the gym or even starting to use that Treadmill collecting dust in the basement. If you choose an activity that you really enjoy, you are decreasing the risks of stopping after only a few weeks. The secret is to have fun while doing something good for you.

My second advice is mainly for those who will train in a gym. I strongly recommend that you use the services of a personal trainer in order to select the right exercises for you and to have some coaching on how to perform those exercises. After a few weeks of training, you’ll be able to train by yourself if you want. Some exercises seem easier than they really are.

It is also important to gradually increase the intensity of your workouts. If the intensity of your workouts increases too quickly, your body won’t have enough time to adapt and you are increasing the risk of injury.

Warm-ups and stretchings are also important.  Warm-up is usually done before the workout to promote an optimal blood flow in the muscles. The stretchings are beneficial after the workout to relax the muscles and to drain the lactic acid accumulated in the muscles.

To conclude, be careful of the “No pain, no gain” theory. After a workout, it is normal to have few discomforts that could last between 24 and 48 hours. However, pain during the workout or after 48 hours after the workout aren’t normal. If it is your case, consult your chiropractor immediately. Your chiropractor will be able to identify and correct the problem and will help you prevent injuries.

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Chiropractic care, not only for back pain

Chiropractic care, not only for back pain

Chiropractic care is useful for a lot more than just back pain. In fact, the chiropractor is trained to improve the movement of any joint of your body. Here’s an example of a real patient I have seen at the office.

This patient consulted me because of a right foot pain. Two years before, that patient fell on the ice and broke his right ankle. The fracture was bad enough that it required a surgery to install some screws and metal pieces to stabilize the bones. After the surgery, the patient did some physiotherapy treatments in order to improve the strength and flexibility of his ankle. However, the foot pain persists. Sometimes, the pain was intense enough that he would start limping.

In my initial exam with this patient, I evaluated the movement of all the bones in the foot. I noticed that the movement of one of those bones, the cuboid, was particularly restricted. Thus, I performed chiropractic treatments on the cuboid in order to improve the movement. Immediately after the first treatment, the foot pain decreased of 50%. After the first week of treatment, the limping was almost totally gone. For the first time in two years, the patient was able to walk for a few hours without having to sit down.

This is a typical example of what chiropractic care can do for a condition other than back pain. In this case, the patient fractured his ankle but probably affected the normal movement of the other bones in his ankle and his foot.

If you have pain or discomforts affecting areas other than your back, don’t hesitate to consult a doctor of chiropractic. The chiropractor is trained to treat conditions affecting the hips, knees, ankles, feet, shoulder, elbows, wrist, etc.

Ice or heat?

Ice or heat

In the past, you may have injured yourself by doing a wrong movement or lifting a heavy charge. Maybe you thought of applying ice or heat on the sore area? But when should we apply ice instead of heat?

You must know that after an injury, inflammation will occur at the site of the injury. Inflammation is a normal reaction involved in the healing process. Therefore, pain, swelling and redness are usually associated with inflammation.

The best way to control the level of inflammation is to apply ice. Ice will decrease the diameter of the blood vessels around the injury and will help decrease the amount of inflammatory cells. The end result will be less pain and less swelling. However, you must remember that ice application shouldn’t be more than 10-15 minutes according to the site of injury and you should wait at least 1 hour between two ice applications. Why only 10-15 minutes of ice? Simply because the diameter of blood vessels will increase after 15 minutes of ice, causing increased inflammation. The icepack should always be wrapped in a thin cloth or towel to avoid direct contact with the skin.

So when should we apply heat? Heat is useful to reduce muscle tension. For example, after intense training, your muscles may be sore. Heat application in that case could help you feel better.

It is not always easy to determine if pain is caused by inflammation or muscle tension. My advice is: if you are not sure what to apply, apply ice instead of heat. Generally, ice application will not increase the pain, which is not the case for heat application. However, should the application of ice or heat increase the pain, stop the application and consult a doctor of chiropractic. He will be able to assist you. Finally, if you have applied ice for 24 hours (10-15 minutes/hour) and your pain is still present, contact a doctor of chiropractic. It may be a sigh that your injury is more important than you thought it was. Chiropractic care helps promote fast healing and decrease the risk of recurrence.

The healing process

Healing process

In this article, I decided to answer to a very common question I have at the office: how long will it take to treat my condition? Here is the answer to that question.

The time is takes to treat your health condition depends on the following factors:

– The nature of your injury

– Your general health condition and your habits

– The goals you want to achieve concerning this injury

– Your implication in your care

The nature of your condition

Of course, the time it takes to treat your injury depends on its nature. For example, a muscle injury heals generally faster than a ligament injury, simply because of the good blood flow found in the muscle compare to the ligament. The same phenomenon if you have a disc injury versus a pelvic injury, the disc injury will usually take more time to heal. This is why the chiropractor will take the time to perform a complete chiropractic exam, in order to establish a precise chiropractic diagnosis. Based on the established chiropractic diagnosis, the chiropractor will be able to give you a better evaluation of the healing time it usually takes for the condition. It is also important to consider the time that passed by between the beginning of the condition and your consultation. Usually, a recent problem is easier to treat compared to a chronic condition, in other words a problem you had for many weeks or months.

Your general health condition and your habits

The nature of your injury isn’t the only factor to consider. Your general health condition and your habits are also very important. Researches showed that smoking decreases the blood flow to the disc between the vertebrae. Therefore, if you are a smoker and you have a disc injury, your condition may take more time to heal and the risk of recurrence may be higher. Other factors could increase the healing time like: if you have a very strenuous work, if you had the same problem a few times in the past or if you have a poor general health condition (especially cardiovascular). It is exactly to evaluate those factors that the chiropractor will ask you many questions concerning your general health and habits.

Your objective concerning this injury

When the nature of your injury will be determined, the chiropractor will want to know your objective concerning this problem. For example, is your main goal to get rid of the pain or do you want to fix the weaknesses responsible for the recurrence of this problem?

Based on your objective, the chiropractor will be able to recommend you the type of chiropractic care you need. You’ll have the choice between symptomatic care, corrective care or preventive care.

Symptomatic care:  The main goal of this type of chiropractic care is to decrease the pain as fast as possible so you can go back to your normal activities. Generally, the frequency of care is higher with this type of care in order to improve your condition as quickly as possible.

Corrective care: The absence of pain doesn’t mean that the healing process is over. The improvement of your symptoms may indicate that the irritation decreased but doesn’t indicate that the condition is healed. It is exactly for this reason that some patients hurt themselves again not long after being back at their regular activities. For those who want to decrease the risk of recurrence of their condition, corrective care is for them. Generally, in this type of care, the frequency of care is decreased and exercises are prescribed in order to strengthen the weaknesses responsible for relapses.

Preventive care: This type of care represents a regular check up of your condition in order to detect and correct dysfunctions right at the beginning. As mentioned earlier, it is usually easier to treat a recent problem than a chronic problem.

Your implication in your care

The last factor is your implication in your care. The chiropractor’s responsibility is to give you the most adapted treatment for your condition and the best recommendations possible. However, you have the choice to follow the recommendations or not. Usually, the healing time is faster if you follow the recommended advices.

As you can see, the time it takes to treat an injury depends on many factors. After the initial exam at the chiropractic office, the chiropractor will be able to give a better idea of the time it’ll take to treat your condition. Don’t forget that you are always free to start or stop your care. The chiropractor’s goal is to give you all the tools you need to get better, but you are always free to use them or not.

Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis

What is osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis, also known as arthrosis, is a condition characterized by some wear and tear of the cartilage, the structure found between the bone in a joint so they can slide on top of each other. Of all the conditions affecting the joints, the osteoarthritis is the most common. Many joints could be affected by osteoarthritis like the hips, the knees, the fingers and the vertebrae of the neck and of the lower back.

What is the difference between osteoarthritis and arthritis?

The osteoarthritis represents some wear and tear of the joint cartilage whereas arthritis represents an autoimmune condition, meaning that our body doesn’t recognize his own cells and tries to destroy them. Rheumatoid arthritis is included is this category.

What are the symptoms of arthrosis?

Osteoarthritis don’t usually cause any symptom at first. But when the amount of damage in a joint becomes more important, those symptoms could happen: dull pain increasing with activity, pain relief with rest, morning stiffness in the joints or after a prolonged period of immobility, crackling sensation in the joint, decreased range of motion.

What could increase the risk of suffering from osteoarthritis?

Different factors could predispose someone of suffering from osteoarthritis. First, the main risk factor is the age. With the normal ageing of the body, it is normal that the wear and tear of the cartilage increases. We usually find osteoarthritis in men over 50 years old and women over 40 years old.

There are other risk factors of osteoarthritis like obesity and sports or jobs involving lots of impact on the joints. For obesity, the hips and knees are the main joints to suffer because they are supporting the whole body weight.

How could I know if I have osteoarthritis?

The diagnosis of osteoarthritis is generally symptom-based and also based on the results of X-rays. During your exam at the chiropractic office, the chiropractor will be able to take X-rays and determine if you have osteoarthritis.

Can osteoarthritis be treated?

Prevention is always the best treatment for any health condition. Concerning osteoarthritis, maintaining a normal weight helps to decrease the stress applied to the joints like the hips and the knees. It is also very important to have a good general posture and a good posture at work to decrease the mechanical stresses. Physical activity also represents a good way to make sure that the cartilages receive all the nutrients they need. However, make sure to have the proper technique to practice your sport.

If you already have some osteoarthritis, there are a few solutions possible. Of course, it is important to understand that the osteoarthritis you already have cannot be removed. However, the symptoms caused by osteoarthritis and the progression speed of the condition could be decreased. Based on your health condition, the amount and the location of your osteoarthritis, your chiropractor will be able to suggest you exercises to improve your posture, ergonomic recommendations, strengthening exercises and pain-relieving tips. Also, the chiropractor, while performing a chiropractic adjustment, will contribute to restore the normal movement of the joint, thus allowing the cartilage of receiving all the nutrients it needs.  Based on some scientific researches done on the mechanism of osteoarthritis, it has been shown that abnormal movement of a joint (because of too much stress or because the joint is blocked) could lead to joint degeneration because of the lack of nutrients getting to the cartilage. Based on that principle, when a chiropractor performs a chiropractic adjustment on a joint to restore the normal movement,  the nutrition of the cartilage also improves and therefore could contribute to prevent or slow down the phenomenon of osteoarthritis in that area.

Of course, in severe cases of osteoarthritis, some medical approaches may be needed. Some procedures like an arthroscopic cleaning of the joint or even the full replacement of the joint could be done. After the initial exam, the chiropractor may have to refer you to your medical doctor if your condition seems to be too severe to be treated with chiropractic.

To conclude, the best treatment for osteoarthritis remains prevention.  So why not have a checkup of your condition today by your chiropractor. Consult before the symptoms appear!

The sciatic nerve

Sciatic nerve

You probably know people around you who suffered from sciatic pain. Maybe you had that problem yourself. If it is the case, you know very well how painful that condition may be. The goal of this article is to clarify the nature of that condition.

What is a sciatic nerve?

The main function of the spine is to protect the nerves traveling inside and between the vertebrae. The nerves traveling between the vertebrae are called spinal nerves. The sciatic nerve is made of the combination of the spinal nerves L4 to S3 joined altogether, thus creating the biggest nerve of your body. There is a sciatic nerve heading in each of your legs.

The sciatic pain

The sciatic pain represents a pain felt in the area where the sciatic nerve is traveling through. Many conditions could be responsible for sciatic pain. As an example, an injury to the disc located between two vertebrae (like a disc herniation), could irritate the sciatic nerve. Another frequent cause of a sciatic nerve irritation is a dysfunction of the pelvis. This problem could lead to an increase of muscle tension in the buttock, causing an irritation of the sciatic nerve. Of all the muscles, the piriformis muscle is frequently a source of irritation on that nerve. Since that muscle is attached  from the sacrum to the hip and passes on top of the sciatic nerve, a spasm could create a pressure on the sciatic nerve. A wrong move, a bad posture or repetitive movements could lead to that problem. It is also important to know that there are many conditions that could create pain down the leg, without being an irritation of the sciatic nerve. As an example, an irritation of the facet joints (the small joints between two vertebrae) could cause pain in the leg that may look similar to sciatic pain. To know if your sciatic nerve is the source of your pain or not, the chiropractor will have to perform orthopedic and neurological tests.

What are the treatments for sciatic pain?

The treatment for a sciatic problem will vary from one patient to another, depending on the source of the pain. For example, if the pain is generated from a pelvic problem, the chiropractor will mainly work on the pelvis and the muscles attaching to it. On the other hand, if your pain is caused by a disc herniation, the treatment will consist more of treating the affected disc. Don’t be surprised if the treatments are mainly done on the lower back even if your pain is located in your leg.  The source of the pain isn’t always located where you feel it.

Many exercises and stretches exist to relieve the sciatic pain. Based on the main source of your pain, the chiropractor will be able to recommend you some of those exercises. The chiropractor will also show you what type of movement and posture you should and should not do in order to prevent the recurrence of your condition.

If the irritation of your sciatic nerve is too important to be treated with conservative chiropractic care, the chiropractor will be able to refer you to the health professional most likely able to help you.

If you are suffering from sciatic pain, don’t wait any longer before consulting the chiropractor. Most of the time, it is easier and faster to treat a problem right from the beginning of the condition instead of waiting for the problem to become chronic.

Chiropractic and lumbar sprain

Lumbar pain and chiro

For my first blog, I decided to talk about a very common subject in chiropractic: the lumbar sprain. Many of you probably had the bad luck to experience that problem before. First, we have to know that lumbar sprain is one of many conditions causing back pain. This means that all back pain are not lumbar sprain.

What is a lumbar sprain?

A lumbar sprain represents a muscle or a ligament of the back that got stretched too much. This could happen following an accident, a wrong movement or because of repetitive motions. Few factors like bad posture could increase the risk of lumbar sprain.

What are the other causes of back pain?

Lumbar sprain is very common, but other health conditions are also very frequent. For example, back pain could be caused by a disc herniation (a tear or a bulge in a disc located between two vertebrae), a facet irritation (an irritation of the joint located between two vertebrae), a sacroiliac irritation (an irritation of the pelvic joint)

How to differentiate between conditions?

The chiropractor has the formation to make the difference between a condition and another. On your visit at the chiropractor’s office, a complete physical exam including orthopedic tests will be performed in order to establish the nature of your condition. The chiropractor can also make x-rays to evaluate the condition of your spine. Following the exam, the chiropractor will be able to tell you if you really have a lumbar sprain or another condition.

How to treat a lumbar sprain?

If the physical exam reveals that you have a lumbar sprain, the chiropractor will be able to recommend you the appropriate treatment. Generally, the treatment consists of correcting the movement of the vertebrae where the affected muscles or ligaments are attaching. Also, soft tissue techniques (muscle work) are generally used to decrease tensions.  The chiropractor will also recommend you exercises and postural recommendations in order to increase the healing speed.

What if it isn’t a lumbar sprain?

If the physical exam reveals that your pain isn’t caused by a lumbar sprain, the treatment will be modified to be able to correct your injury. Chiropractic could be beneficial for different health conditions like disc herniation, facet irritation, muscular tension, sacroiliac pain, etc. If the exam reveals that your condition isn’t treatable by chiropractic treatment, the chiropractor will be able to refer you to the health professional who could help you the most.

How long it takes to treat a lumbar sprain?

The healing time varies a lot between a patient and another. Also, many factors could influence the healing speed. For example, a recent injury usually heals faster than a condition we had for a long period of time. The nature of the affected structure also affects the healing time. As an example, a muscle injury heals faster than a ligament injury because of the increased blood flow found in the muscle.

When the nature of your condition will be determined, the chiropractor will be able to give you an idea of the time it generally takes to treat a problem like that. Your implication in your care will also contribute to increase the healing speed.