2017 Blogs

Can Poor Sleep Cause Pain??


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Background:
The answer is yes. A recent study of over 60,000 people found a strong connection between poor sleep and increased pain – two major health problems faced by our society. Interestingly, the study also showed that the relationship runs in an unexpected direction: “the impact of sleep on pain is often greater than the impact of pain on sleep,” according to the lead author.

How was the Study Done?
The authors of the study reviewed 16 studies conducted in10 countries. Half the people studied were tracked for at least four and a half years.

Are There Other Problems Besides Pain from Poor Sleep?
In addition to a strong association between poor sleep and pain – a general decline in both the quality and quantity of hours slept led to a two- to three-fold increase in pain problems over time – the study found weakened immune function, more inflammation, higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol and generally greater fatigue and poorer health.

Can I Catch Up on My Sleep on the Weekend?
A recent Harvard Medical School study says the answer to this question is no. Their study, reported in the journal Pain, found that restricting sleep on weekdays in the hope of catching up on weekends led to more pain.

What Can I do to Sleep Better?
A sophisticated tool to gauge one’s sleep patterns is a sleep study, which can reveal how much one actually sleeps at night and how frequently one wakes up. During this study, a person spends the night in a specially equipped room and is monitored by a number of devices.
Short of that, here are a few recommendations…

  • Stick to a schedule each day. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, including weekends.
  • It’s all about routine. Soothing music, reading — whatever is relaxing to you – is a habit you should follow nightly.
  • Avoid long naps in the hope you’ll “catch up”
  • Turn off your cell phone and put it in a different room.

Yours for Better Health,
Jon Mills, DC
817-581-0123
www.MillsChiro.com


Can I Avoid Injury to My Low Back??


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80 percent of people will experience low back pain at some time in their lives that is serious enough that they will seek professional help. Are there any particular occasions when people should be especially careful to protect their back?

Two Critical Times

The first instance is when we first get up in the morning. We are actually measurably taller when we arise from sleep, due to our discs having taken on extra fluid during the night. If we bend or twist quickly after we’ve just gotten out of bed, we run the risk of hurting our spine.

The second occasion is after a prolonged period of sitting — perhaps after a long car drive or airplane flight. The reason we’re more vulnerable at these times differs, however, from the risk we have after sleep. The many ligaments and tendons in our back lengthen as our back is “stretched,” due to being seated — think of how your shirt tail is pulled out when you bend forward to pick something up from the floor. The ligaments and tendons similarly stretch slightly when a person is seated for a long period. This temporary stretching is called “creep.” Because of this, they don’t provide the same support and protection to your spine as they normally would if they were their normal length.

Who is at Risk?

If you have a healthy back, none of this may matter. But if you have a vulnerable back — perhaps due to aging or previous injury — it all matters.

What is the Take Home Message?

Don’t bend over immediately after sitting. The longer you sit, the more you’re at risk. Whenever you’re driving or on an airplane, take advantage of opportunities to walk and gently stretch. Aim for stopping the car and taking a break every 90 minutes, likewise get up and walk around when it is safe to do so in an airplane.

Sit up straight. Grandma was right here. Slouching causes greater creep in the ligaments and tendons in your back. Sitting upright creates less of a strain.

Go slow after you wake up. Do some gentle stretches before you get out of bed.

Yours for Better Health,

Jon Mills, DC

817-581-0123

www.MillsChiro.com


Can Decompression Therapy Help Me??


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Background:

Decompression therapy is a non-surgical, non-drug means of relieving pain in the lower back and neck. It can also relieve pains and numbness running down the leg or arm caused by pressure on a nerve root from a bulging or herniated spinal disc. It is also known as spinal decompression.

How does Decompression Therapy Work?

Decompression therapy causes an increase in the natural vacuum effect that happens inside of a healthy spinal disc. Restoring this natural vacuum can cause the disc to retract back into its normal dimension and thereby remove pressure on the spinal nerve root.

Furthermore, the disc itself is extremely sensitive to pain. Throughout sessions of decompression therapy, nutrient-rich fluids and oxygen are brought into the disc through the vacuum that is created. This is how the discs are naturally nourished and healed.

What does a Session Look Like?

People using this therapy are fully clothed and remain comfortable throughout the session. Then a gradual decompressing pull is gently applied to either the neck or the low back, with the patient given a safety button and instructed to immediately stop the treatment if he or she becomes at all uncomfortable.

It is very important that the person be relaxed throughout the session. Many people fall asleep during treatment.

What is the Take Home Message?

Decompression therapy is a very effective method of treating and often eliminating neck or back pain as well as accompanying pain or numbness in the arms or legs. It is safe and uses no drugs or surgery. We would be happy to provide you with further information about this procedure. We perform decompression therapy within our office.

Yours for Better Health:

Jon Mills, DC

817-581-0123

www.MillsChiro.com


Should I have Surgery??


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Background:

Many people suffering from low back or neck conditions turn to surgery, instead of a “conservative care” option such as chiropractic, acupuncture or physical therapy. Doctors sometimes urge surgery based upon their viewing the condition of a patient’s spine as shown on an MRI or Magnetic Resonance Image. MRI is a sophisticated technique that shows soft tissues as well as bone within the body. But a recent study brings into question whether these images can accurately predict the outcome of surgery simply on the basis of MRI.

What Has Happened?

Journal Neurosurgery Spine is a peer-reviewed publication that carries a great deal of weight with the medical profession. The June 2016 issue reports on a study designed to find out if spinal experts could determine by viewing MRI images which patients suffering from sciatica — radiating pain running down the leg — due to a herniated disc in their low back would fare better with surgery as compared with conservative care.

How was the Research Conducted?

A panel of three spinal experts studied a total of 283 MRI studies of patients who had herniated discs in their low back as well as sciatic pain running down one or both of their legs.

What was the Conclusion of the Study?

Essentially, the study of these 283 patients concluded that experts could not determine ahead of time based on MRI findings if a patient would do better a year down the road if he or she had surgery or underwent conservative care. Here’s how the authors of the study put it, “MRI findings seem not to be helpful in determining which patients might fare better with early surgery compared with a strategy of prolonged conservative care.”

What is the Take Home Message?

Here is what the study concluded: “If the sciatica is not intense, or MRI findings are not consistent with clear-cut nerve root compression, we advise withholding surgery.”

Yours for Better Health:

Jon Mills, DC

817-581-0123

www.MillsChiro.com


Consumer Reports Recommends Chiropractic


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Background:

The latest issue of Consumer Reports – June 2017 – has as its cover article “Real Relief from Back Pain.” It speaks of a “revolution” in treatment, prompted by research, that shows that chiropractic, physical therapy and yoga can help just as much for back pain as surgery or drugs, but with far fewer risks.

How Has This Happened?

Consumer Reports contends that too many tests and expensive treatments have driven up the costs of low back care, but have not provided better outcomes in terms of reducing pain or disability. The magazine points to a 2013 study reported on in the Journal of the American Medical Association, which found that between 1999 and 2010, “powerful narcotic medicines were being prescribed 51 percent more, CT and MRI scans jumped by 57 percent, and referrals to surgeons, neurologists and other specialists more than doubled.” Furthermore, Consumer Reports contends that “opioid pain drugs and unnecessary tests and treatments can delay recovery and healing.”

What is Bringing About These Changes to Conservative Care?

Two factors have combined to shift the focus from drugs and surgery to conservative therapies like chiropractic: evidence-based research and costs. Every year more studies show that chiropractic is effective and safe. And with the increasing focus on reducing costs, surgeries that cost tens of thousands of dollars do more than raise eyebrows among insurance company and government executives when such treatments offer no better outcomes than care often costing less than a thousand dollars.

The Mainstreaming of Alternative Medicine?

One individual is focused upon: Thomas Sells. His treatment from the Veterans Administration for his chronic low back injury suffered during the Vietnam War is very different from what he received years ago. The VA, like about 80 percent of insurance carriers as well as Medicare, pays for chiropractic services. As Consumer Reports says, “those treatments used to be considered fringe, but no more. Growing research shows that a combination of hands-on therapies and other nondrug measures can be just as effective as more traditional forms of back care, including drugs and surgery. And they’re much safer”

Drop by our office. We would be happy to provide you with a copy of the Consumer Reports article.

Yours for Better Health:

Jon Mills, DC

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817-581-0123 www.MillsChiro.com


What Does the American College of Physicians Recommend?

Posted by Mills on March 23, 2017

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Background:
Just last month the American College of Physicians issued a guideline in their journal Annals of Internal Medicine recommending that physicians and patients should treat acute or subacute low back pain with non-drug therapies, specifically chiropractic.

How Common is Low Back Pain?
Low back pain is one of the most common reasons for all physician visits in the U.S. About a quarter of all adults will suffer an episode lasting at least a day in a three-month period.

What Does the College Recommend?
For acute pain (lasting less than 4 weeks) and subacute pain (lasting between 4 and 12 weeks) they recommend chiropractic, massage, acupuncture and heat. For chronic pain (lasting more than 12 weeks) they add these to the above recommendations: exercise, rehabilitation, mindfulness-based stress reduction, tai chi, yoga, motor control exercise, progressive relaxation, electromyography biofeedback, low level laser therapy, operant therapy, and cognitive behavioral therapy.

What Treatments are Specifically Not Recommended?
Opioids are recommended only as a last resort and only in patients who have failed other therapies, as they are associated with substantial harms, including the risk of ddiction or accidental overdose.

What’s the Take Home Message
This is another study in a trend going back to 1993 when a federal organization, the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research, recommended chiropractic care for low back pain.

Yours for Better Health:
Jon Mills, DC
817-581-0123
www.MillsChiro.com

Is Magnesium the “Wonder Drug that Works Wonders?”

Posted by Mills on January 24, 2017

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Background:

You may recall the title of this article as being the catchy phrase that Bayer Aspirin used in commercials. A recent article in the British Medical Journal (BMJ Medicine [2016] 14:210) describes how increased magnesium levels reduced the risk of contracting many serious diseases, and even reduced the risk of death.

British Medical Journal Study:

This study was a meta-analysis, meaning that the results of forty studies with a total of more than 1 million participants were analyzed. Follow-up periods ranged from 4 to 30 years.

A Bit About Magnesium:

Magnesium is the eighth most common element in the earth’s crust. It is essential for life. It aids our bodies in processing sugar and producing proteins. It is especially found in whole grains, green leafy vegetables and nuts. Up to 15% of us are deficient in magnesium. The recommended daily allowance is 350 mg/day for men and 300 mg/day for women, with an additional 150 mg/day during pregnancy and lactation.

What Were the Results?

The analysis reported that increasing dietary magnesium intake by 100 mg/day had profound benefits:
Risk of Stroke: 7% lower
Risk of heart failure: 22% lower
Risk of type 2 diabetes: 19% lower
Risk of death from all causes: 10% lower

What’s the Take Home Message?

Although a blood test is necessary to show if one is deficient in magnesium, simply increasing our consumption of magnesium-rich foods and considering supplementation are measures that could have a significant effect on our health.

Yours for Better Health:

Jon Mills, DC, 817-581-0123, www.MillsChiro.com


Does Spinal Decompression Help with Back Problems?

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Background:

We’ve been believers in Spinal Decompression since our office first started performing the procedure on patients back in 2003; it has been a great help for many patients over the years. Peer-reviewed research has recently confirmed the benefits of Spinal Decompression.

Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics (JMPT) Study:

The November – December 2016 issue of JMPT reported on a study of patients who had pain down the leg (known as sciatica) because of a herniated disc pressing on a spinal nerve root in the low back. The study was designed to compare the results of decompression done at lower weights versus that performed at higher force, however, individuals were found to significantly benefit no matter which weight was used.

What were the Results?

Patients in the study were treated ten times over a period of 14 days. Some notable results after this period included:

– Patients reported that their pain was reduced by 40%

– Flexibility improved by 58%

– Use of drugs to ease pain and inflammation was reduced by 50%

What’s the Take Home Message

Not only did the patients improve following two weeks of treatment, but the improvement continued at follow-up visits two weeks after care ended. I think that this study clearly demonstrates that Spinal Decompression is an excellent, non-surgical choice for treating patients suffering from leg pain due to pressure on a spinal nerve root in their low back.

Yours for Better Health:

Jon Mills, DC

817-581-0123

www.MillsChiro.com