Chiropractic and plantar fasciitis

Chiropractic and plantar fasciitisThe subject of this article concerns a fairly common condition called plantar fasciitis. I received the question of whether this condition could be treated in chiropractic. Well yes, chiropractic may be effective in treating this condition.

First, what is a plantar fasciitis? This is actually an irritation of a ligament (fascia, hence the name fasciitis) located under the foot (in the arch of the foot). The fascia attaches on a small area of the heel bone and then expand and attaches again under all the toes. When there is an irritation of the fascia, pain is usually felt under the heel. The pain is particularly intense after a prolonged period of immobility, such as getting out of bed in the morning. Patients often feel like if they have a needle under their heel. It may happen that the pain is also felt in the arch of the foot or on the sides of the heel. Generally, pain decreases as the fascia is warming up (ex: walking for a few minutes).

Causes of plantar fasciitis are numerous. For example, prolonged walking on a hard surface, wearing shoes that do not have a good support (ex: high heels), mechanical problems of the foot, ankle, knee and even the pelvis, excess weight, etc.

If the plantar fasciitis persists for an extended period, a calcium deposit can develop where the fascia attaches on the heel, thus causing a bone spur, also known as the Lenoir’s spur (épine de Lenoir).

The good news is that this condition could be improved through chiropractic care. First, a physical examination is necessary to determine the exact cause of irritation. As mentioned earlier, the problem could be limited to the foot, but it is also possible that an imbalance of the pelvis causes the irritation of fascia (caused by the difference of weight on each foot). Your chiropractor will be able to assess the problem. Once the origin of the problem established, chiropractic treatment usually consists of restoring the proper mechanical function of the pelvis, knees, ankles and feet. Muscle techniques are used to reduce the tension in the fascia. Your chiropractor will also be able to give you exercises to do at home in order to help the fascia regain more flexibility. For example, you can massage the fascia by placing a tennis ball on the floor and roll your foot on it. Stretching the muscles of the leg and foot are also necessary to treat the condition. If your chiropractor believes that orthotics might help you resolve the condition, he could refer you to a podiatrist for custom foot orthotics. Applying ice under the foot could also help reduce the inflammation of the fascia.

Typically, this condition responds well to chiropractic care. In the event that the results would be limited to conservative care, other interventions are possible. For example, taking anti-inflammatory or having injections in the foot could be considered (a consultation with your medical doctor will be necessary).

If you suffer from this condition, consult a chiropractor today. Not only the condition might take less time to treat, but you will also prevent the irritation of other related structures such as your knees or even your back.

Chiropractic and pelvic pain

Chiropractic and pelvic painOne of the most common source of pain in the lower back is probably the irritation of the pelvic joint, also known as a “sacroiliac syndrome”. The pain associated with this problem can be intense enough for the patient to be forced to stop some of his common daily activities. The pain is generally localized just above the buttock and can shoot down in the buttock, the thigh or even to the ankle. Even if the pain pattern could be different from one patient to another, the aggravating factors are usually: sitting for a long period of time, bending forward or sideways, turning in bed, standing for a long time, etc.

Why is it so frequent? Probably because this condition can be caused by so many reasons: sitting the wrong way, sleeping with a torsion in the lower back, playing sports stressful for the lower back (hockey or golf, for example), bad posture, wrong movements, repetitive movements, accidents, pregnancy, etc. Also, there is no age group for this condition. As a chiropractor, I’m treating as many young teenagers for this problem because they are playing soccer for example, that I’m treating adults working in a sitting position the whole day or construction workers. This problem is also very common among pregnant women, mainly because of the increased laxity of the ligaments of the back and because of the increasing weight of the baby.

What is the solution for this problem? Good news! Chiropractic care is usually very effective for this condition. After making sure the pain you have is caused by an irritation of the pelvic joint, the chiropractor will perform a manipulation of the affected joint. The goal of the treatment is to correct the alignment and the movement of the sacroiliac joint in order to stop the production of inflammation. The chiropractor will also work the muscles around the joint because they could also represent a source of pain. Also, the chiropractor will review your activities and your habits with you in order to identify the possible reasons why you developed the problem. Therefore, you will be able to apply the changes needed to avoid a recurrence of the problem. You and your chiropractor are working as a team to not only correct the problem, but also prevent the recurrence of it.

If you think you are suffering from an irritation of the pelvis, contact your chiropractor today. There is not point of suffering from a condition like this when a solution so simple and effective exists.

Enjoy the spring!

How to prevent injuries while traveling

How to avoid injuries while travelingFor this article, I decided to give a few recommendations to those of you who will have the chance to travel during the March break.

First, it is very frequent to get injured after lifting our luggages. To avoid injuries, try to lift using your legs and thighs instead of your back. The muscles in your legs are strong enough for this task compared to your back muscles. Also, remember to avoid doing any twisting movement of your back, especially if you have something heavy in your hands (your luggages). This type of movement creates a big stress on the back, especially on the small cushions (the intervertebral disc) located between the vertebrae.

If you travel by plane, it is recommended to use a pillow, a cushion or a rolled sweater to put on your lower back. This way, your back will be supported even if the seats are not comfortable. You can do the same on the beach if you use one of their lawn chairs, since this type of chair doesn’t provide much support for the lower back.

If you have enough space in your luggages, it could be a good idea to bring your own pillow. Since you can’t control the quality of the mattress you will have at the hotel, at least you will make sure to have a proper support for your neck.

For those of you traveling south, you will probably be tempted to wear scandals more than regular shoes. Be careful because some types of scandals are not providing much support for your feet and ankles. It could be a good idea to wear  a good pair of running shoes  once in a while to give your feet some rest.

Finally, there is no problem to enjoy a drink while relaxing on the beach. Just make sure to drink enough water to avoid any heat stroke or dehydration.

Happy March break to all travelers!

Chiropractic and benign positional vertigo

Chiropractic and benign positional vertigoToday’s article is on vertigo. Vertigo is usually described as a spinning sensation (loss of balance, dizziness). It is important to know that many health conditions can cause vertigo, from benign conditions to more severe conditions. This article talks about the most common form of vertigo: the benign positional vertigo.

This type of vertigo generally affects more women than men and is more frequent between 50 and 57 years old.

Many theories exist to explain the benign positional vertigo. One of the theories is the formation of small “particles” called “otoliths” in the semicircular canals of the inner ear. Those canals are filled with liquid and are responsible for sending signals to the brain concerning our position, thus contributing to our balance. When there are particles in the canals, wrong signals are sent to the brain, causing the spinning sensation.

The symptoms usually last a few seconds to a few minutes depending on the patient. Vertigo can be associated with nausea and vomiting. Generally, the vertigo is influenced by the position of the head.

What should you do if you are suffering from vertigo? It is recommended to consult your chiropractor in order for him to evaluate your condition. The chiropractor will try to determine the source of the vertigo. If the vertigo is caused by a condition that cannot be treated with chiropractic care, the chiropractor will be able to refer you to the appropriate health professional.  However, if you are suffering from benign positional vertigo, your chiropractor could be able to help you. A special maneuver called “Epley’s maneuver” exists in order to decrease the vertigo. Your chiropractor will be able to show you the technique and will give you recommendations to prevent the recurrence of the symptoms.

Chiropractic and posture at work

Chiropractic and posture at work

Lots of people spend most of their day sitting at a desk or in front of a computer. It is important to know that the sitting position causes lots of stress on the spine, even more if you are not sitting properly. Without being an ergonomist, it would be beneficial for many of us to take a few minutes in order to make sure our workstation is properly fitted. Here are a few points to consider:

1. Make sure your knees are flexed at 90 degrees.

2. Avoid sitting on the tip of your chair. Your back should be in contact with the back support. Also, it is always better to have a chair with a lumbar support (a small bump in the lower part of the back support that fits the lower back). If your chair doesn’t have a lumbar support, you can always use a cushion or a rolled towel to put on your lower back.

3. Your shoulders should be relaxed, your elbows bend at 90 degrees and your wrist in line with your forearm.

4. Make sure your computer screen is at the height of your eyes. This way, you won’t have to bend forward in order to see properly.

5. It is recommended to have a work desk with a keyboard tray large enough to put the keyboard and the mouse on it. When the keyboard or the mouse are on the top of the desk, your shoulder muscles (ex. The Trapezius muscles) are always under stress. This could lead to different problems like tendonitis, discomforts or headaches and migraines.

In addition to the evaluation of your workstation, it is also recommended to consult a chiropractor for a checkup of your spine. Even if you don’t have any pain or symptom, the prolonged sitting position may have created restrictions of movement of some vertebrae of your spine. The chiropractor will be able to evaluate your spine and correct those problems before they become more important.

The CSST (Commission de la santé et de la sécurité du travail) published an excellent document on the ergonomy of the workstation. Here’s  the link to have access to the document (this document was only available in French):

What is the best sleeping posture?

What is the best sleeping position?My patients are often asking me what is the best sleeping posture? Maybe you asked yourself the same question. The answer is simple: you can sleep on your side or on your back. You should always avoid sleeping on your stomach. They are many reasons for that. First, when you are sleeping on your stomach, you have to turn your head completely to one side or the other to be able to breath. This extreme rotation of the neck that you may hold for many hours can cause some stress on the vertebrae of your neck and upper back. Therefore, it is possible that this sleeping position creates stiffness or pain in the neck, restrictions of movement or other problems like headaches and migraines. Moreover, sleeping on your stomach may cause some irritation to your lower back or pelvis, especially if your mattress is very soft.

To avoid problems, it is recommended to sleep on your side or back. If you want to sleep on your side, make sure you keep both legs together (like the fetal position). This way, you will avoid creating torsion of the lower back. You can also put a pillow between your legs to make it more comfortable. To assure you a good support for your neck, you should use a pillow thick enough to fill the space between the tip of your shoulder and the side of your neck. This way, your cervical spine (your neck) and your thoracic spine (your upper back) will remain aligned.

If you sleep on your back and you have some back pain, you can put a pillow under your knees to lift them up. This position will remove some pressure from your lower back.

To conclude, make an appointment now with your chiropractor for a checkup of your spine. The chiropractor will be able to recommend you personalized tips in order to improve your sleeping position. This way, you will be able to wake up in great shape.

Chiropractic and tennis elbow

Chiropractic and tennis elbow

The tennis elbow or “lateral epicondylitis” is a very frequent health condition responsible for pain at the elbow or forearm.

What is a tennis elbow?

The tennis elbow represents an irritation of the bony insertion where the muscles of the forearm are attaching. The insertion is located on the external part of the elbow and could become irritated when the muscles of the forearm are working too hard. Unlike what we may think, tennis players are not those who are suffering the most from this condition. People working on a computer the whole day, clicking hundreds of times on their mouse (repetitive motion) are the most at risk of suffering from tennis elbow. Sometimes the symptoms are so intense that it is hard to continue to work.

Signs and symptoms

The signs and symptoms of the tennis elbow are usually pain over the lateral aspect of the elbow (directly on the bone), pain when the wrist is completely flexed, pain when a resisted extension of the wrist is performed and pain or weaknesses when we are holding an object (a coffee mug for example).

Chiropractic and tennis elbow

If you think you are suffering from a tennis elbow, consult your chiropractor immediately. As usual, it is easier to treat a recent health condition instead of waiting for the condition to become chronic.

The chiropractor is trained to perform the test to confirm that you really have a tennis elbow and not another health condition. When the nature of your condition has been clarified, the chiropractor will perform chiropractic adjustments at the elbow, the wrist and even in the neck (the nerves controlling the muscles in the forearm are travelling between the vertebrae of the neck) in order to decrease the muscle tension in the forearm and improve the general mechanic of the different joints in the arm, thus promoting a faster healing of the condition. The chiropractor will also be able to give you exercises to speed up the healing process and tips to prevent the recurrence of the condition.

The carpal tunnel syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome

If you have numbness in your hands, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you are suffering from a carpal tunnel syndrome. In fact, there are many health conditions causing those symptoms. If you are suffering from those symptoms, you should consult a chiropractor in order to determine the exact source of your problem.

Carpal tunnel syndrome

The carpal tunnel syndrome represents a compression of the median nerve, the nerve responsible for the sensitivity of the thumb, the index, the middle finger and a small part of the ring finger. The median nerve could be compressed at the wrist when traveling towards the fingers. Generally, the symptoms associated with a carpal tunnel syndrome are numbness and pain in the first four fingers of the hand. The pain is frequently felt at night and could even affect the patient’s sleep. In severe cases, some muscle weaknesses could be found in the hand.

The pronator teres syndrome

The pronator teres syndrome looks similar to the carpal tunnel syndrome. In both cases, the median nerve is affected. However, in the pronator teres syndrome, the median nerve is compressed at the forearm by a muscle called the pronator teres instead of at the wrist. The symptoms are usually not common at night and muscle weaknesses are rare.

Compression of blood vessels

The blood vessels traveling from the shoulder to the hand could become compressed by different structures like muscles or ligaments. If it is the case, numbness and a swelling feeling in the fingers could be felt. The name of this condition is a thoracic outlet syndrome.

As you can see, many conditions could be responsible for numbness in the hands. The chiropractor is trained to perform different tests in order to make the difference between one condition and another. The type of treatment needed will then be determined. As usual, if you have those symptoms, don’t wait before consulting a chiropractor. It is usually easier to correct a health condition right when it starts.

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.

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.