ADHD ◆ Allergies ◆ Arm Pain ◆ Asthma ◆ Back Pain ◆ Headaches ◆ Back Pain ◆ Leg Pain ◆ Sciatica
Pinched Nerve ◆ Shoulder Problems ◆ Senior Health
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a relatively common condition that tends to emerge in children during their early school years. The most common signs of ADHD are:
- Impulsive Behavior
- Difficulty Concentrating
It is estimated that between 3 and 5 percent of children have ADHD – approximately 2 million children in the United States – and is much more common in boys than girls. This means that in a classroom of 25 to 30 children, it is likely that at least one will have ADHD.
However, because many normal children may show some of these same behaviors as well, it is important that a child receive a thorough examination and appropriate diagnosis before any treatment is considered.
It is not entirely certain what causes ADHD, but the current thought is that it is a combination of an overactive nervous system, coupled with a decrease in the brain’s ability to filter out extraneous sights, sounds, thoughts and emotions. Although chiropractors don’t directly treat ADHD, there are a number of things that your chiropractor can do to help eliminate things that stress a child’s nervous system, such as:
- Removing spinal subluxations that irritate the nervous system
- Suggest dietary changes to avoid common problem foods
- Test for allergies and heavy metals that may be stressing the nervous system
- Suggest changes to the home to help reduce exposure to toxic chemicals
- Addition of nutritional supplements to support the nervous system
The most common medical treatment is the use of the drug methylphenidate, also known as Ritalin. Ritalin is actually a stimulant drug that normally speeds up the activity of the nervous system. But for reasons that are not entirely clear, it tends to have a calming effect on those who suffer from ADHD, possibly by increasing the activity in the area of the brain responsible for filtering out extraneous sensation.
The problem with taking Ritalin is that is does not do anything to resolve the cause of the ADHD, it only masks the symptoms. Continued use of Ritalin over long periods of time have also shown to have deleterious effects on the brain itself. It is important as a parent to look at all treatment options before placing your child on Ritalin and chiropractic care is a great place to start.
Allergies are often treated with chiropractic care. Many allergic and asthmatic reactions are caused by hypersensitivity of the immune system and/or respiratory system. Researchers have found that the immune and respiratory systems depend on normal communication from the brain and spinal cord to control and coordinate their functions. If your neck is misaligned, it could cause an imbalance in your nervous system function. This upper cervical spinal joint irritation could possibly produce or exaggerate asthmatic and allergic symptoms. While many asthma and allergy sufferers recall specific traumas (e.g., head injuries, auto accidents, or falls) which could have injured their upper cervical spines, some do not.
Diet and nutrition play a major role in allergies and asthma. An evaluation of your eating habits, and dietary intake could pinpoint several offensive substances causing discomfort. Additionally there are several blood, saliva and stool tests that could be very informative in getting to the source. We could be looking at digestive problems, adrenal problems, heavy metal toxicity, parasites, food allergies, etc.
Arm pain is a miserable condition to have, because it keeps you awake at night and doesn’t seem to let up during the day while going through the daily routine and you are really limited in doing stuff you really like to do.
Arm pain can be caused by a number of things. It could be as a result of a subluxation in your neck, which would be causing an interference in the nerve messages being sent into your arm. It could be an injured shoulder that is either causing an interference in the nerve messages, or muscle spasms down into your arm.
Believe it or not, the elbow can also be subluxated. There are many nerves and muscles, that pass through the elbow joint junction and three bones involved in that joint, any one of those can be involved and causing your pain.
The wrist can also be a culprit to your arm pain. There are many bones in the wrist and any or all of them can be subluxated causing pain in your wrist and up into your arm.
Many chiropractors consider their role in caring for patients with asthma, especially those subject to severe attacks, as complementary to the medical management of the disease. We do regular spinal adjustments to make asthma sufferers more comfortable by helping relieve the muscle soreness and discomfort that can develop during asthmatic flare-ups.
Chiropractic adjustments may help reduce the frequency and severity of asthma attacks. The achievements of chiropractic in promoting overall wellness, including enhancing the patient’s capacity to cope with chronic ailments, make chiropractors an important part of the health care team that can help asthma patients live more normal lives, minimally encumbered by this incurable, but controllable condition.
The principal goal of chiropractic is to reduce asthma sufferers’ need to rely on the many medications prescribed to prevent and treat asthma. These medicines (or combinations of medicines) can have many troublesome and even dangerous side effects, including making patients increasingly dependent on ever-larger doses. Preventing asthma attacks is the key to living a normal life in spite of having asthma. In practical, day-to-day, quality-of-life terms, stopping asthma attacks before they start is better than taking medicines to stop the attack and restore pre-attack normality.
Nutrition plays a major role in the controlling of asthma and asthma attacks. We can help you to discover whether food allergies, adrenal exhaustion, digestive imbalances, or underlying infections are playing a role in your weakened immune system.
Regardless of how mild an accident was, if you were thrown forward, to the side, or backward at all, you may have a whiplash. Whiplash injuries need to be taken very seriously. Because symptoms of a whiplash injury can take weeks or months to manifest, it is easy to be fooled into thinking that you are not as injured as you really are.
Too often people don’t seek treatment following a car accident because they don’t “feel” hurt. By far, the most common injury to the neck is a whiplash injury. Whiplash is caused by a sudden movement of the head, either backward, forward, or sideways, that results in the damage to the supporting muscles, ligaments and other connective tissues in the neck and upper back. Some of the symptoms include, headaches, neck pain, shoulder pain, vision changes, upper back pain and ringing in the ears.
Whiplash is not the only effect of an auto accident. Low back pain, muscle spasm through the entire spine, leg pain, and difficulty sleeping can all be caused by even a “mild” accident.
Unfortunately, by the time more serious complications develop, some of the damage from the injury may have become permanent.
Numerous studies have shown that years after whiplash victims settle their insurance claims, roughly half of them state that they still suffer with symptoms from their injuries. If you have been in a motor vehicle or any other kind of accident, don’t assume that you escaped injury if you are not currently in pain.
Most people do not realize how much they move their neck during the day until they are unable to do so. The degree of flexibility of the neck, coupled with the fact that it has the least amount of muscular stabilization and it has to support and move your 14 – 16 pound head, means that the neck is very susceptible to injury. You can picture your neck and head much like a bowling ball being held on top of a stick by small, thin, elastic bands. It doesn’t take much force to disrupt that delicate balance.
The spinal cord runs through a space in the vertebrae to send nerve impulses to every part of the body. Between each pair of the seven cervical vertebrae, the spinal cord sends off large bundles of nerves that run down the arms and to some degree, the upper back. This means that if your arm is hurting, it may actually be a problem in the neck! Symptoms in the arms can include numbness, tingling, cold, aching, and “pins and needles”. These symptoms can be confused with carpal tunnel syndrome, a painful condition in the hands that is often found in people who work at computer keyboards or perform other repetitive motion tasks for extended periods, which by the way, can also stem from the neck.
Problems in the neck can also contribute to headaches, muscle spasms in the shoulders and upper back, ringing in the ears, otitis media (inflammation in the middle ear, often mistaken for an ear infection in children), temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ), restricted range of motion and chronic tightness in the neck and upper back.
Unfortunately, by the time more serious complications develop, some of the damage from the injury may have become permanent.
We associate the neck and upper back together, because most of the muscles that are associated with the neck either attach to, or are located in, the upper back. These muscles include the trapezius, the levator scapulae, the cervical paraspinal muscles and the scalenes, as well as others.
The Causes of Neck and Upper Back Pain
Most neck and upper back pain is caused by a combination of factors, including injury, poor posture, chiropractic subluxations, stress, diet and in some instances, disc problems.
By far, the most common injury to the neck is a whiplash injury. Whiplash is caused by a sudden movement of the head, either backward, forward, or sideways, that results in the damage to the supporting muscles, ligaments and other connective tissues in the neck and upper back. Whether from a car accident, sports, or an accident at work, whiplash injuries need to be taken very seriously. Because symptoms of a whiplash injury can take weeks or months to manifest, it is easy to be fooled into thinking that you are not as injured as you really are. Too often people don’t seek treatment following a car accident or sports injury because they don’t feel hurt. Unfortunately, by the time more serious complications develop, some of the damage from the injury may have become permanent. Numerous studies have shown that years after whiplash victims settle their insurance claims, roughly half of them state that they still suffer with symptoms from their injuries. If you have been in a motor vehicle or any other kind of accident, don’t assume that you escaped injury if you are not currently in pain.
One of the most common causes of neck pain, and sometimes headaches, is poor posture. It’s easy to get into bad posture habits without even realizing it – even an activity as “innocent” as reading in bed can ultimately lead to pain, headaches, and more serious problems. The basic rule is simple: keep your neck in a “neutral” position whenever possible. Don’t bend or hunch your neck forward for long periods. Also, try not to sit in one position for a long time. If you must sit for an extended period, make sure your posture is good: Keep your head in a neutral position, make sure your back is supported, keep your knees slightly lower than your hips, and rest your arms if possible.
Subluxations in the neck and upper back area are extremely common due to the high degree of stress associated with holding up your head, coupled with the high degree of instability in the cervical spine. Most subluxations tend to be centered around four areas: the top of the cervical spine where it meets the skull; in the middle of the cervical spine where the mechanical stress from the head is the greatest; in the transition where the cervical and thoracic areas of the spine meet; and in the middle of the thoracic spine where the mechanical stress from the weight of the upper body is greatest. Signs of subluxation include looking in the mirror and seeing your head tilted or one shoulder higher than the other. Often women will notice that their sleeve length is different or that a necklace is hanging off center. If someone looks at you from the side they may notice that your head sits forward from your shoulders. This is known as FHP – forward head posture – and is very common for people who are stooped over their computers all day long. Subluxations are a debt to the body. If they are not taken care of soon after they occur, then they can get much worse over time due to the accumulation of compounding interest.
When most people become stressed, they unconsciously contract their muscles; In particular, the muscles in their back. This ‘muscle guarding’ is a survival response designed to guard against injury. In today’s world where we are not exposed to physical danger most of the time, muscle guarding still occurs whenever we become emotionally stressed. The areas most affected are the muscles of the neck, upper back and low back. For most of us, the particular muscle affected by stress is the muscle that runs from the base of you skull to below your shoulder blades. This muscle is where daily stress usually leads to chronic tightness and the development of major “knots” in your shoulders.
The two most effective ways you can reduce the physical effects of stress on your own is to increase your activity level – exercise – deep breathing exercises, and stretching. When you decrease the physical effects of stress, you can substantially reduce the amount of tightness and pain in your upper back and neck.
The discs in your cervical spine can herniate or bulge and put pressure on the nerves that exit from the spine through that area. Although cervical discs do not herniate nearly as often as lumbar discs do, they occasionally can herniate, especially when the discs sustain damage from a whiplash injury. Chiropractic can help in these conditions far more that is realized – even if surgery has been necessary.
Whatever the cause of a disc herniation, all the muscles in the neck and back are involved. Once surgery is done to repair the disc, the muscles and the remaining vertebrae still need to be helped and supported.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) has become one of the most widespread occupational health problems we face today. It affects millions of people a year, and with our growing reliance on computers there seems to be no end in sight.
The syndrome is caused by pressure on the median nerve just above the wrist. Pressure on this nerve can be caused by an injury or sustained use from common activities like typing, chopping, hammering, or pushing. Symptoms of CTS range from wrist pain, numbness, tingling, burning, weakness or loss of grip strength, and loss of sleep due to discomfort.
TMost times the pain in the wrist – carpal tunnel- is just a symptom of a greater problem. The elbow joint and the shoulder are also involved as is the cervical spine where the nerve to the wrist originates. The main joint in the thumb is many times very sore just to touch and it too may need to be manipulated to calm down the inflammation.
The length of treatment may be a single visit or require many visits. The healing time is dependent on the condition of the body.
These treatments, along with physical therapy, stretching, and strengthening exercises, can in most cases effectively alleviate and eventually eliminate the symptoms associated with CTS.
Headaches affect just about everyone at some point and they can present themselves in many different ways. Some people only experience pain in one part of their head or behind their eyes, some people experience a pounding sensation inside their whole head, and some people experience nausea, while others do not. The pain itself may be dull or sharp and may last for anywhere from a few minutes to a few days. Fortunately, very few headaches have serious underlying causes, but those that do require urgent medical attention.
Although headaches can be due to a wide variety of causes, such as drug reactions, temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ), tightness in the neck muscles, low blood sugar, high blood pressure, gall bladder/fat digestion problems, stress and fatigue, the majority of recurrent headaches are of three types: tension headaches (also called cervicogenic headaches) allergy headaches and migraine headaches. There is a fourth, less common, type of headaches called a cluster headache that is a cousin to the migraine. Let’s start out by taking a look at each of these three types of headaches.
Gall Bladder/fat digestion Headaches
This type of headaches is the most common, of all headache problems. Most people describe this headache as a very irritating pain that either starts at the base of the skull or in the forehead and/or behind the eyes. It is the most common headache and can wake someone up in the wee hours of the morning or start with a vengeance after eating a meal. Taking aspirin or Tylenol or something similar may or may not help, but the headache just keeps coming back.
The most common cause of gall bladder/fat digestion headaches is the diet and the body’s inability to break down all the good or bad fats being ingested. People forget that there is fat in a corn tortilla as well as in a bag of French fries and in both cases the headaches are still very irritating.
You don’t have to have a gall bladder to still have the problems.
These headaches cause a constant dull, achy feeling either on one side or both sides of the head, often described as a feeling of a tight band or dull ache around the head. These headaches usually begin slowly and gradually and can last for minutes or days, and tend to begin in the middle or toward the end of the day. Although the pain can at times be severe, tension headaches are usually not associated with other symptoms such as nausea, throbbing or vomiting.
Tension headaches are often the result of stress or bad posture, which stresses the spine and muscles in the upper back and neck. They can also be caused by grinding or clenching the teeth during the day or night.
Each year, about 25 million people in the U.S. experience migraine headaches, about 75% are women. Migraines are intense and throbbing headaches that are often associated with nausea and sensitivity to light or noise. They can last from as little as a few hours to as long as a few days. Many of those who suffer from migraines experience visual symptoms called an “aura” just prior to an attack that is often described as seeing flashing lights or that everything takes on a dream-like appearance.
Migraine sufferers usually have their first attack before age 30 and they tend to run in families, supporting the notion that there is a genetic component to them. Some people have attacks several times a month; others have less than one a year. Most people find that migraine attacks occur less frequently and become less severe as they get older. Migraine headaches are caused by a constriction of the blood vessels in the brain, followed by a dilation of blood vessels. During the constriction of the blood vessels there is a decrease in blood flow, which is what leads to the visual symptoms that many people experience. Even in people who don’t experience the classic migraine aura, most of them can tell that an attack is immanent. Once the blood vessels dilate, there is a rapid increase in blood pressure inside the head. It is this increased pressure that leads to the pounding headache. Each time the heart beats it sends another shock wave through the carotid arteries in the neck up into the brain.
There are many theories about why the blood vessels constrict in the first place, but no one knows for sure. What we do know is that there are a number of things that can trigger migraines, such as lack of sleep, stress, flickering lights, strong odors, changing weather patterns, hormone imbalances and several foods; especially foods that are high in an amino acid called ‘tyramine.’ At the end of this chapter, are listed a number of foods that are most likely to trigger migraines, as well as some lifestyle changes that you can make to reduce the likelihood that you will trigger a migraine headache.
Cluster headaches are typically very short-duration, excrutiating headaches, usually felt on one side of the head behind the eyes. Cluster headaches affect about 1 million people in the United States and, unlike migraines, are much more common in men. This is the only type of headache that tends to occur at night. The reason that they are called ‘cluster’ headaches is that they tend to occur one to four times per day over a period of several days. After one cluster of headaches is over, it may be months or even years, before they occur again. Like migraines, cluster headaches are likely to be related to a dilation of the blood vessels in the brain, causing a localized increase in pressure.
Chiropractic Care for Headaches
Numerous research studies have shown that chiropractic adjustments are very effective for treating tension headaches, especially headaches that originate in the neck. A report released in 2001 by researchers at the Duke University Evidence-Based Practice Center in Durham, NC, found that “spinal manipulation resulted in almost immediate improvement for those headaches that originate in the neck, and had significantly fewer side effects and longer-lasting relief of tension-type headache than commonly prescribed medications.” These findings support an earlier study published in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics that found spinal manipulative therapy to be very effective for treating tension headaches. This study also found that those who stopped chiropractic treatment after four weeks continued to experience a sustained benefit in contrast to those patients who received pain medication.
Each individual’s case is different and requires a thorough evaluation before a proper course of chiropractic care can be determined. However, in most cases of tension headaches, significant improvement is accomplished through manipulation of the upper two cervical vertebrae, the TMJ, and adjustments to the junction between the cervical and thoracic spine. Gall bladder headaches almost always abate with the adjustment to the spine and modification of the diet. This is also helpful in most cases of migraine headaches, as long as food and lifestyle triggers are avoided as well.
- Stress may be a trigger, but certain foods, odors, menstrual periods, and changes in weather are among many factors that may also trigger headache.
- Emotional factors such as depression, anxiety, frustration, letdown, and even pleasant excitement may be associated with developing a headache.
- Keeping a headache diary will help you determine whether factors such as food, change in weather, and/or mood have any relationship to your headache pattern.
- Repeated exposure to nitrite compounds can result in a dull, pounding headache that may be accompanied by a flushed face. Nitrite, which dilates blood vessels, is found in such products as heart medicine and dynamite, but is also used as a chemical to preserve meat. Hot dogs and other processed meats containing sodium nitrite can cause headaches.
- Many medications have side effects that cause headaches, particularly the birth control pill.
- Eating foods prepared with monosodium glutamate (MSG) can result in headache. Soy sauce, meat tenderizer, and a variety of packaged foods contain this chemical which is touted as a flavor enhancer.
- Headaches can also result from exposure to poisons, even common household varieties like insecticides, carbon tetrachloride, and lead. Children who ingest flakes of lead paint may develop headaches. So may anyone who has contact with lead batteries or lead-glazed pottery.
- Foods that are high in the amino acid tyramine should also be avoided, such as ripened cheeses (cheddar, brie), chocolate, as well as any food pickled or fermented foods.
Leg Pain and Sciatica
Sciatica is a severe pain in the back of the thigh caused by compression, irritation or inflammation of the sciatic nerves which exit from the lower part of the spinal column. These nerves extend from the spinal column, exiting to the muscles in the buttocks and from there down the back of each leg. The back of the thigh, knee, and calf can all be affected as well as the foot and toes in a severe case.
People with sciatica can sometimes experience shooting pain down the leg and into the foot and toes, and other times a dull ache or numbness.
Sciatica can be caused by many things;
- Sitting at a desk for long periods of time in one position
- Exercise done in excess or incorrectly
- Twisting activities as found in tennis and golf
- Emotional stress
- Worst case scenario a ruptured disk – this is the least common cause
The pain from sciatica can be in one or both legs. It can also alternate from one leg to the other.
Treatment for Sciatica
The traditional mode of treatment is pain killer drugs and muscle relaxants, but this is not necessarily the healthiest since drugs have been shown to damage kidneys, liver, lungs and hearts, not to mention cause major irritation to the gastrointestinal system.
Chiropractic is a safe method for treatment. Because sciatica is caused by an inflammation treatment won’t necessarily be short. The length of treatment depends on how quickly the body responds to treatment and how much inflammation and how long the inflammation has been there.
The term “pinched nerve” is somewhat of a catch-all phrase that is commonly used to describe the pain associated with a variety of conditions caused by subluxations, and muscle spasms.
Most of the time, what is called a pinched nerve is actually an irritated, or inflamed nerve where the nerve itself is not actually pinched. In most cases, nerves become irritated and inflamed when the bones, joints or muscles of the spine are not in their proper position, or are not moving properly. This condition is called a “subluxation”, the treatment of which is the specialty of the doctor of chiropractic.
There are instances when nerves do become ‘pinched’, such as in Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Sciatica and Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. In each of these cases, injury, spasm or inflammation of the surrounding muscles and connective tissue causes the nerve to become compressed, resulting in pain. These conditions are referred to as “tunnel syndromes.” Treating tunnel syndromes is more complex than treating a simple spinal subluxation, but they usually respond very well to chiropractic care; especially when combined with other physical therapies, such as exercises and stretches.
Trigger points are very tight “knots” of muscle that form when muscles are either chronically overworked or injured, and are often experienced as a pinching or burning pain. Trigger points will commonly cause pain that radiates to other parts of the body, which is also known as referred pain. The successful treatment of trigger points usually requires a combination of chiropractic care, stretching and a form of deep tissue massage called ‘trigger point therapy.’
It is very important that the cause of any form of pain be properly diagnosed. This is especially important when irritated nerves have been a long term irritation. If you have been told that you have a “pinched nerve” it is very important that you seek professional care from a doctor of chiropractic as soon as possible.
A doctor of chiropractic can help you release the nerve irritation in a safe and lasting way, as opposed to using drugs and pain killers, which only serve to cover up the pain.
Just because you have reached an age where you feel you are more limited, don’t kid yourself. Everyone from a new born baby to a person who is 100 years old can benefit from chiropractic.
Back pain is a major complaint, and most seniors go to their medical doctors to get various medicines to help with the pain. Believe it or not, many times the pain is caused by the medication you are taking, or is causing another pain that you feel you need another drug for. A simple and gentle chiropractic treatment can help to eliminate much of the pain, and help you to get your life back.
Knee pain is a very common complaint that if found out and treated soon enough can be totally eliminated through chiropractic adjustments and many times by adjustments in one’s diet as well.
Hip pain is another common complaint – again, this is treated by a medical doctor through pain medication. Why not try chiropractic. A doctor of chiropractic can evaluate your back and hips and help you to find a safer and more energizing release to your pain. And, better yet, get you out walking again!
Shoulder pain is extremely irritating! It is painful to move your arm in one or all directions you are used to moving. Shoulders can be “knocked” out by reaching in the back seat for your purse or phone, or over extending in tennis. Very few shoulder problems actually require surgery, and yet many many people suffer needlessly from shoulder problems.
There are 4 different facets of the shoulder joint that may be involved in shoulder pain and a simple or complex drug won’t make the problem go away! In addition to the actual shoulder, the neck and the elbow joint also have a major impact on the healthy mobility of the joint. The wrist joint can also affect or be affected by a shoulder problem.
A chiropractic evaluation can help to determine what the problem is and then help to resolve it. Unfortunately, most shoulder traumas take time to heal, and just one visit won’t permanently “fix” the problem.
Shoulder pain can be caused by many different conditions, it can be from a fall, or it can be from neck and upper back problems. It can be due to an elbow or wrist problem.
One of the biggest problems with senior health is the diet. No one seems to be able to get a handle on the fact that much of the cholesterol, diabetes, heart, weight, and immune problems are due to eating too much of the wrong foods, and not enough of the right ones.
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