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):

http://www.csst.qc.ca/publications/200/Pages/dc_200_614.aspx

School bags

school bag

School bags

It is already the beginning of September indicating the back to school season. On the shopping list for your kid’s school supplies, you probably have to purchase a school bag. The following text will guide you to buy the proper school bag.

A backpack or a bag with a shoulder strap?

While shopping for school supplies, you will see different kind of school bags. It is important to know that your best choice is always a backpack compare to a bag with a shoulder strap. The reason is simple, there are two straps on the backpack in order to distribute the weight evenly on both shoulders. Compare to the backpack, the bag with only one strap will put all the weight of the bag on only one shoulder, thus increasing the risk of causing posture problems or problems with some vertebrae of the spine.

The characteristics of a good backpack are:

– Padded straps in order to absorb the weight of the bag and for more comfort

– It is always better to have a small school bag ( this way you will keep the bag lighter)

– The bag should have a waist strap to transfer some of the weight on the pelvis

It is also very important to fit the bag properly. To do so, make sure that the top of the bag isn’t higher that the shoulders and that the bottom of the bag is at the pelvis height (the bag should not rub on the buttocks or the back of the thigh.

Don’t forget to keep the weight of the bag as light as possible. In fact, the weight of the bag shouldn’t be more than 10% to 15% of your child’s weight. Therefore, if your child’s weight is 100 pounds, the bag including all the school supplies shouldn’t be more than 10 to 15 pounds.

You may have thought about buying a bag with wheels. This may look like a good idea at first because you pull the weight instead of lifting it. However, sooner or later, you will have to lift the bag to go up the stairs or to put the bag in the car or the school bus.

It is also recommended to consult a chiropractor at the beginning of the school year for your kids. This way, the chiropractor will be able to verify the health of your kid’s spine and will be able to confirm the proper fit of their school bag.

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 kids

Chiropractic and kidsWhen I look at my 11 month old daughter crawling on her stomach, walking on all fours and trying to walk, I can’t help but notice how many times kids are falling every day. Of course, this is part of their normal development. However, the accumulation of all those falls may have consequences in short or long term.

This brings me to talk about chiropractic care for kids. Even if it is rare that a kid will mention pain, it is possible that the accumulation of all their falls creates restrictions of movement affecting the vertebrae of their spine. Those restrictions could be responsible for other problems in the future like headaches, postural problems, muscle asymmetry, etc.  Like any condition, it is always better to prevent the problem than having to treat it. Therefore, even if your kids didn’t mention having pain (or if your kids are too young to be able to talk), it is recommended for them to have a chiropractic evaluation of their spine. This way, the chiropractor will detect biomechanical problems before they start creating bigger problems. It is important to know that chiropractic care for kids is extremely gentle, safe and pain free. Moreover, the chiropractor will be able to make recommendations for your kids in order to improve their health. For example, if you have teenagers, the chiropractor will provide them with exercises to improve their general posture.

If you have kids, make an appointment now with a chiropractor for a preventative chiropractic evaluation of your kid’s spine. This way, you will contribute to the normal development of their full potential.

Chiropractic and headaches

Chiropractic and headaches

Chiropractic and headaches

Headaches represent one of the most frequent causes of consultation in chiropractic offices. The following text will explain the main sources of headaches and the impact of chiropractic care on them.

Cervicogenic headaches and tension-type headaches

Cervicogenic headaches and tension-type headaches are probably the most frequent types of headaches. They are caused by restrictions of movement affecting the vertebrae of the neck (cervical) and by muscle tensions in the neck and at the bottom of the skull. The symptoms are usually headaches involving the whole head or only one side of the head, the pain is usually constant and some tensions or discomforts are usually felt in the neck and shoulders. Different factors could create those headaches: a general bad posture, a bad work posture, sleeping on your stomach, car accidents, sports injuries, etc.

Migraines

Even if the exact mechanisms of a migraine are still unknown, we know that blood vessels are involved in the phenomenon of migraine. The pain associated with migraines is usually pulsating (like if your heart is beating in your head) and other symptoms could be felt like nausea, vomiting, visual problems, hypersensitivity to sounds or light, etc. Different factors could trigger the migraines like: hormonal changes associated to menstrual cycle, alcool or other food allergies, stress, fatigue, etc.

Other headaches

Some severe health conditions could be associated with headaches. High blood pressure, tumor or an intracranial bleeding could be responsible for headaches. Fortunately, those conditions are very rare.

Chiropractic and headaches

Chiropractic care is usually very effective to relieve pain associated to cervicogenic and tension-type headaches. The chiropractic adjustment contributes to restore the normal movement of the vertebrae and to create a muscle relaxation in the cervical region. Furthermore, the chiropractor could help you improve your posture and change few habits that may contribute to your headaches. Patients suffering from migraines could also benefit from chiropractic care to relieve their symptoms.

During your visit at the chiropractic office, the chiropractor will perform many tests and evaluations in order to determine the type of headaches you are suffering from. Once the chiropractic diagnosis is established, the chiropractor will be able to recommend you the best approach in order for you to get as much relief as possible.

If you are suffering from headaches, don’t wait anymore. Consult your chiropractor immediately. You don’t have to suffer from this condition any longer!

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.