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.

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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.

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.

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.