All posts in Chiropractic

What’s Hiding Behind Your Headache?

One of the reasons we’re big-time advocates of chiropractic is that it’s useful for treating such a wide variety of conditions- many of which you probably wouldn’t think a chiropractic adjustment could fix. Many new patients think of chiropractic as a solution to chronic and crippling health problems and misalignments. But chiropractic is also a useful therapy to treat and prevent the most common complaints you can think of, including acute conditions like colds and headaches.

Headaches affect many people in different ways. In the course of your own experience you’ve probably encountered many types of pain in different locations, including the temples, forehead, top of the head, base of the skull and behind the eyes. There are tension headaches, pressure headaches and full blown migraines. No matter which type of headache-sufferer you are however, you would likely agree that headaches are irritating at best and debilitating at worst.

While reaching for an over-the-counter drug may help to ease the discomforts of your headache in the present, we’re advocates of finding a “bigger picture,” more long-term solution. With a chiropractic consultation you may discover that the root of your headaches is actually a lifestyle or health factor you’d never previously considered.

What you might not know is that spinal manipulations have consistently been known to improve headaches. Misaligned vertebrae and muscle strain resulting from poor posture can cause severe discomfort and contribute to the frequency and severity of headaches. These headaches are classified as cervicogenic, and benefit enormously from chiropractic adjustments.

Chiropractic adjustments coupled with massage therapy can also be highly therapeutic for misalignment and stress that are affecting your posture. When your body physically realigns and relaxes, it’s easier for your mind to follow suit. That means that these treatments can decrease your tension and encourage the release of feel-good endorphins, reducing or largely eliminating stress-related headaches.

While stress may be tricky to control, there are a number of other headache triggers that you could manage effectively- all it takes is some investigating. For example, your headaches could be related to ergonomics, caffeine or blood sugar. With the right lifestyle alterations, these would cease to be a problem. A consultation and a second opinion could be just the thing you need to determine which “headache type” you suffer from. No matter what your type, your goal should be to treat the cause, not just the effect.

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I’m Afraid to Visit a Chiropractor!

If visions of vicious neck twisting and spine cracking have you wary of chiropractors, you wouldn’t be the first to admit it. Misunderstood notions of chiropractic care can spawn fears and suspicions that delay patients from seeking the treatments they need. Typically it only takes a consultation and a few adjustments to put these fears to rest, and for patients to see how beneficial and transformative chiropractic can truly be.

But of course, in order to get there, you need to overcome the fears preventing you from making that first appointment! So in the interest of myth-busting and alleviating worries associated with chiropractic, here are some of the common concerns that cause potential patients to hesitate.

Fear: It’s going to hurt. This is perhaps the most common fear that discourages people from exploring chiropractic care as a viable treatment option. It’s natural to feel nervous about a physical treatment that you aren’t familiar with. However, you shouldn’t let your fear of discomfort (both during and between treatments) keep you from booking a consultation. This initial assessment will provide a no-pressure environment where your practitioner can get to know you, and you can ask any questions you might have about treatment. Also remember that sessions vary from patient to patient. Your practitioner will use a treatment and touch that is safe, comfortable and appropriate for your age and condition. Treatments are gentle and often therapeutic. Additionally, many patients feel an immediate sense of relief after adjustments. So if you’ve already been experiencing pain, chiropractic’s aim is to alleviate it, not cause you more grief!

Fear: I’m going to feel uncomfortable or awkward. As long as you have a good chiropractor, this should be one of the most unfounded misconceptions of all! A perfect balance between warmth, friendliness and professionalism should be every practitioner’s goal. Remember that your chiropractor wants to help make you more comfortable, and to that end, should be approachable and caring. If at any point during your treatments you feel uncomfortable, speak up! There’s lots your chiropractor can do –such as explain the treatment methods being used, reposition you, or clarify why you might temporarily be feeling some discomfort.

Fear: It’s going to cost a fortune. Chiropractic is covered under many health plans, so check yours to determine what type of coverage you might have. It’s also important to remember that chiropractic care is an investment that could save you recovery time, illness, money, and other preventable damage to your health in the future. You may have heard the analogy that chiropractic is like a regular car tune-up. You have to pay a service fee for it, but it could prevent your car from completely breaking down somewhere along the line. Chiropractic is a means of optimizing your central nervous system, which plays a critical role in your overall health and immune system functioning. A healthy system and proper alignment can help save your health (and funds) in the future.

The best way to put your mind at ease is from actually gaining some hands-on experience with a chiropractor- literally! Book a consultation, bring your questions and concerns, and discover what options are available to you to achieve your health goals!

 

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3 Needs Women May Overlook When Pregnant

When you find out you’re pregnant, you begin a mental checklist immediately. The list of things you could benefit from purchasing, eating and reading is endless. In spite of all of the advice and “to-do’s” available, there are a few smart investments and purchases that may be easier to overlook.

1. Orthotics: many pregnant women experience some common foot problems that may increase in severity over the course of their pregnancy. These include over-pronation, swelling and pain in the arch and heel. Weight gain puts a great deal of added stress on feet and orthotics are a smart investment to increase your comfort and health. As this awesome article “Pregnancy and Your Feet” from Mount Joy reminds us, hormonal surges cause ligaments in the feet to relax, which can flatten arches. New shifts in how you bear weight can also result in over-pronation, a condition we’ve mentioned before with respect to orthotics. This can make walking painful, and increase strain on the legs and lower back. Since many of these discomforts are already a concern for pregnant women, minimizing additional stress from foot problems is an important move for avoiding unnecessary and potentially serious discomfort and injury.

2. Pre-natal massage: While some pregnant women might see this as a luxury, having a pre-natal massage can be a highly effective treatment to lessen symptoms of pregnancy and its toll on your body. Massage reduces strain on muscles, nerve pain and swelling, while improving circulation, which is particularly important during pregnancy due to the elevated risk of blood clots.

3. A therapeutic outlet: whether it’s a psychotherapist, a support group, or a pre-natal yoga class, it’s important to have a space to relax and work through some of the more emotionally complicated aspects of pregnancy. The fact that you are undergoing a major (and exciting!) life change, in addition to onslaughts of hormones can produce any mixture of feelings including tension, stress, guilt, and anxiety. The proper form of therapy can help to foster a healthy and calm state of being, which will better prepare any expectant mom for labour, delivery and motherhood.

So don’t just be good to yourself during your pregnancy- be great! Tackle unaddressed discomforts- whether physical or emotional- with these natural, body-friendly treatments.

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Out of the Gait: Investing in Orthotics

Do you ever experience pain in your feet, knees, shins or heels? This could be the result of misalignment and uneven weight distribution in your feet. The way that you stand, rest your weight and walk all affect the mechanics of your feet, and in turn can impact your entire body.

Your feet are a complex system of bones, ligaments, muscles and tendons working together to support your body. The arches are under enormous stress and strain every day. If arches lose their ability to flex and return to their normal shape, your feet will not be able to properly absorb the shock of walking. Over time, this added stress can cause break down in the joints of the feet and the rest of the body. Enter: orthotics.

You don’t have to be an athlete to benefit from a gait assessment and orthotics. If your weight isn’t evenly distributed when you stand upright, you’re not alone. Many people are inclined toward either pronation or supination:

Image source: http://ow.ly/hkN0t


Over-pronation:
This occurs when the foot rolls inward because of the angle of the heel bone, and often the arch collapses. Weight is borne primarily on the inner sides of the feet.

Supination: This is opposite to pronation, and refers to when the foot rolls outward, lifting the heel from the inside of the foot, and re-distributing weight so that the forefoot and big toe lift slightly off the ground.

Orthotics are custom-shaped inserts for your shoes that help to correct and compensate for the misaligned movements and position of your feet.  While many people visit a podiatrist for orthotics, a chiropractic assessment is worth considering instead. A chiropractor can help to treat your entire body, and identify which lower body pain is in fact related to foot movement and weight-bearing. Chiropractors will use a number of techniques to better understand the mechanical functioning of your feet, but will also help you address and understand the root causes for other sites of pain.

These diagnostic assessments are particularly important for pregnant women. During pregnancy, the stress on your feet and arches increases as you grow and gain weight over a relatively short period of time. During the nine months that you’ll carry your baby, your feet may change shape, and you might notice pain in your knees and ankles. Custom orthotics can help to prevent post-pregnancy damage to your feet and to improve comfort.

For more information and diagrams about orthotics and foot biomechanics, we like this blog’s comprehensive and highly visual overview. When you’re ready for a better assessment of your own stance, foot alignment and walking biomechanics, give Dr. Wise a visit!

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5 Reasons You Feel Lousy at Work

 

You’ve been there. You walk out of the office feeling as if you might not live to see another day. In spite of feeling fresh and energized when you started your day, you might notice that by the late afternoon you are exhausted, sluggish, sore or nauseous. You don’t skip meals, you try to get a good night’s sleep and you don’t smoke or drink excessively. So what gives?

Some of the most common cause-and-effect health factors could be to blame. You might not see the harm you’re doing to your wellbeing and energy levels with every day habits. See if any of these behaviours could be taking a toll on your health or mood during the weekdays.

#1. Caffeine crashes: If you’re overindulging in coffee as a way to stay awake and alert, you might wind up feeling tired and lethargic. When you consume caffeine, it stimulates your adrenal glands. Adrenalin produces the boost in energy that you experience after enjoying your coffee-likely first thing in the morning. The caffeine also causes a slight increase in dopamine levels. When these effects wear off however- usually right in the middle of your work day- you might notice a marked drop in your energy and mood.

#2. Low blood sugar: When you’re working a full day, even if you’re seated for most of it, you need to properly fuel your body.  Drops in your blood sugar could be making you feel tired, irritable, light-headed and unfocused. Try to remain very conscious of the nutritional quality of what you eat, and ensure that you get enough protein. You probably know by now that if you reach for something sugary as a pick-me-up, you won’t feel full for a sustained period of time. But beware- sugary doesn’t just mean candy. Take a hard look at your snacks- granola bars, juice cocktails, crackers and cereals can be very high in sugar. These simple carbohydrates won’t keep you full for long or provide you with any real nutritional value. Instead, opt for a high-impact snack that is low in sugar and contains protein and healthy fats. You might also try breaking up your munchies into several small meals throughout the day. This way you avoid the extremes of feeling drowsy or uncomfortably full after a large lunch, or experiencing a dip in your blood sugar mid-afternoon.

#3. Misunderstanding your sleep needs: Not everyone’s optimal night’s sleep is 8 hours. Many people require more, and others need less. Quality counts too. If you go to bed at 11 but keep the television on and drift in and out of consciousness for an hour, you aren’t benefiting in the same way as you would if you’d slept soundly for that same time period. Unplugging fully and getting the requisite number of z’s can be difficult, but when you make it a priority, you’ll notice the difference in your day.

#4. Poor ergonomics: Feeling stiff? Achy?  Tight? Make sure that your office furniture is properly adjusted for optimal ergonomics! By following a basic office ergonomics guide, you can help reduce strain to your upper and lower back, neck, hips and wrists. You may not notice discomfort right away with a poorly arranged set-up. Over time however, muscle strain from distortions in your body’s positioning combined with the effects of poor posture will take its toll. Spare yourself long-term damage to your alignment and avoid sore muscles by taking the time to adjust your desk and computer.

#5. Eye strain + immobility: Too much of a good thing just isn’t good. No matter how focused you are on your projects, or how attentive you remain to your inbox, it’s always a wise idea to give your eyes a rest and your legs a stretch. Make sure your screen is about an arm’s length from your face, and adjust your screen brightness settings so that you aren’t squinting. Ensure your work environment is properly lit, and try to look up and away from the screen about every 20 minutes, even if it’s just for 15 seconds. Every hour you should aim to stand and stretch your legs. Take a walk to the washroom or water fountain to improve circulation, or stand and stretch for 30 seconds to loosen your muscles.

These practices have the potential to grow into habit. Implementing these manageable changes to your daily practices on the job can drastically improve the way you feel at the end of the day. When you leave work still feeling healthy and energized, you’re far more likely to have a productive evening. With the momentum to make a home-cooked meal, hit the gym, or tackle a household project, you’ll keep your energy flow up, your metabolism humming, and your body happy right until bedtime.

So think about your habits and empower yourself with small changes. We guarantee you’ll feel better for it!

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From Breech to Birth: The Webster Technique

We’ve discussed a few of the ways that chiropractic care can benefit an expectant mother.  Many women intuitively think of back pain relief when they hear the words “pre-natal” and “chiropractic,” but we know chiropractic adjustments to have other benefits for pregnant women than soothing a sore back.

One of these beneficial treatments is called the Webster Technique, an adjustment specifically designed and developed to help remove intra-uterine constraint. If your baby is not properly positioned to be birthed head-first, delivery can be longer, more taxing, and require additional invasive medical intervention. This technique is designed to remove constraint in the pelvis to free up space for the baby to move into a better position.  Often, the result of removing this tension is that a baby that is improperly positioned will turn to make delivery less difficult.

…So Who’s Webster?

The Webster Technique is named for its founder Dr. Larry Webster who witnessed his daughter experience a very difficult delivery as the result of her baby presenting breech. The International Chiropractic Pediatric Association (ICPA) provides a detailed history of Dr. Webster’s experience and the events that led him to develop this technique. During the early stages of his daughter’s labour, Dr. Webster was able to keep performing chiropractic adjustments for her, but eventually hospital staff put a stop to this as the labour intensified and progressed. His birth of his grandchild was long and arduous. After this experience, Dr. Webster was eager to develop an adjustment specifically for pregnant women to help facilitate easier births by reducing the complications and difficulty involved when the baby presents as breech.

So the Webster Technique came into creation as Dr. Webster began caring for another pregnant mother whose baby needed help positioning for birth. After practicing his chiropractic adjustment on her for several weeks, the baby turned vertex and was delivered successfully.

Dr. Webster’s technique was formally implemented by the ICPA in 2000. Today, this technique, which is formally called the “Webster In-Utero Constraint Technique,” is widely used by chiropractors on pregnant patients. Its goal is to improve misalignments of the sacrum, the triangular bone at the very base of your back (kind of behind your pelvis).

But how will it help to re-position my baby?

Sacral subluxations are thought to be an underlying cause of difficult labours. In fact the Webster Technique’s effectiveness is based on the connection between sacral subluxations and factors contributing to “dystocia,” or difficult childbirths: things like ineffective pelvic contractions, poor uterine health, and the improper positioning of the baby. When your pelvic bones are misaligned, it can result in the twisting and tightening of your entire pelvic region. This is what prevents your baby from transitioning into the optimal position for birth, and those unyielding muscles also make labour and delivery more difficult.

The way to open your body for birth is to align it properly. Regular adjustments and use of the Webster’s Technique can help to optimize your pelvic position and supporting ligaments and muscles for giving birth vaginally, and allows baby to find the best position possible.

The first step is of course a personalized assessment with a chiropractor, who can tell you more about your body’s alignment, and how it might be better adjusted to optimize childbirth. Depending on the presence of any other pregnancy symptoms you might be experiencing , your chiropractor can also recommend other treatments to combine with the Webster Technique to further reduce nerve pressure and muscle pain.

If you’re a soon-to-be mom, your delivery is a momentous and exciting event! While childbirth is never predictable, the entire process can feel more stressful if your baby is presenting breech.  If you’d like to chat about The Webster Technique or any other pregnancy-related adjustments, don’t forget that Dr. Wise has ICPA training to care for women during pregnancy with gentle, targeted techniques. Plus she loves to meet new moms! Make an appointment to meet her today.

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Chiropractic and the Expectant Mommy

Sore back? Aching knees? Pelvic pain? Chiropractic can help!

We recently came across a fantastic article from Birth Without Fear about why chiropractic is so helpful to women for enjoying an optimal pregnancy and birth. This post makes the important suggestion that women should never feel like they are out of options when suffering from intense pregnancy symptoms. Although certain physical effects of pregnancy are to be expected and tolerated, their severity and frequency can certainly be soothed and managed with the aid of chiropractic.

We appreciated the detail with which Birth Without Fear explained how specific muscle tensions and subluxations can produce negative outcomes and hindrances during pregnancy and birth. Some of the targeted problems for adjustment that were mentioned include:

1. Body imbalances that can produce a misaligned pelvis. Certain subluxations can cause your thoracic spine and lumbar spine to bend in opposite directions. As a result, one side of the pelvis can be raised, which can cause problems when your baby tries to re-position for birth. And, as with many imbalances, an uneven pelvis will cause a pregnant woman to unevenly distribute her weight to different joints and muscles. This can make those pregnancy aches and pains much more aggravated than they would be otherwise.

2. Nerve tension that causes inflammation and stress. When the muscles surrounding your spine get tighter, more stress is put on the nerves along the spinal column. These are important nerves; they exit the spine and lead to many critical organs and glands. If these nerves experience sustained tension and pressure, the stress could potentially lead to degeneration of these other vital body parts.

3. Thoracic, lumbar and sacral nerve pressure that decreases blood flow. When there is excess pressure exerted on your nerves, it can limit blood flow to the kidneys, liver and other vital organs. The article stresses the dangers of compromising the functioning of these organs. One possible result is the leaking of protein into the urine, which is a sign of preeclampsia. Undue pressure can also tighten your uterus, making it difficult to effectively labour and dilate.

Thanks to Birth Without Fear, for this enlightening article that does the important work of detailing why it’s so important to have a chiropractic assessment during pregnancy. Many pregnant women want to do all they can to ensure they have a healthy pregnancy and a delivery that doesn’t stray too far from their birth plan. While some elements of childbirth are certainly unpredictable, one component you can control is the care you give yourself leading up to your due date.

Expectant mothers consider chiropractic and massage as ways to relieve their immediate physical distress such as back pain and poor circulation. They may not know about the many other important benefits of undergoing an adjustment, and the link between chiropractic and an effective, healthy delivery. This connection is very important to us at Thrive Health, as we specialize in young family care. Our resident chiropractor Dr. Jennifer Wise is experienced and uniquely trained through the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association to care for women during pregnancy with gentle and specifically tailored chiropractic care.

If you’re expecting, drop in and see what we can do to improve your pre-natal health and comfort. We’d love to meet you!

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Connecting Chiropractic to the Common Cold (and Cars!)

UBC blogger Thea Treahy-Geofreda poses a good question in her article about the little-known benefits of chiropractic for overall health. The truth is most people don’t make any association between chiropractic and common acute conditions like a head cold. Most will only connect chiropractic with things like back pain.

One of the best parts of this article is the extended analogy the author uses to explain the preventative health benefits of chiropractic for total-body health. She encourages readers to think of the human body as a car that needs a functioning control system. This system sends information to all of the vehicle’s separate components –everything from the engine to the high beams.

How’s your engine running?

If one of those connections were to come loose, sure your car would still function, but it wouldn’t be operating at 100 percent effectiveness. The same thing is true for your body, whose control system is the central nervous system. In order enjoy optimal health, your central nervous system must be free of interference and maladjustments. When we’re below optimal health, our systems are more likely to be infiltrated with the cold virus.

Before you end up reaching for those cold meds that knock you out, optimize your health. Check your spine alignment, go for regular adjustments, eat properly, and take measures to reduce stress. The article does a great job of advocating these natural techniques for overall health. Preventative care in the form of therapies like massage, medication and chiropractic adjustments make you feel and function better. In addition to improving posture, sleep and relaxation, these therapies keep your system running at its best, and boost your immune system too.

Taking a defensive approach to health is smart, natural, non-invasive and effective, so give yourself a tune-up at every opportunity!

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Naturopathy and Conception: the Connection

Conceiving and giving birth are natural processes, but we all know that unpredictable challenges can make them feel stressful and difficult rather than intuitive. That’s why added support in the form of naturopathic or chiropractic therapy can help you on the path to starting your family.

Being in tune with your body is one of the most important elements in a successful conception. This goes beyond knowing where you’re at in your menstrual cycle though. Everything from your diet to your stress levels to the function of your central nervous system can have an effect on your reproductive system.

Adjust Yourself Properly
Stress is inevitable. When it becomes overwhelming however, it can delay pregnancy and affect your reproductive cycle. Chiropractic adjustments help to optimize your central nervous system, which is a key player in regulating stress responses in your body.

Patients don’t just benefit physically from natural health treatments; they also benefit emotionally from being able to bring questions and concerns to a trusted and informed environment. Conception and pregnancy are critical times for forging new relationships with mentors, trusted friends, family, and health practitioners. From the moment you start trying to conceive, you should be building your support network.

The Fertility Formula
Although conceiving has much to do with planning, preparation and timing, there is no exact formula to determine when you’ll be successful. For some couples, this is frustrating and a little scary if you’re anxious to get pregnant. Knowing that you’re taking every measure available to you to optimize your chances can help to lessen your worries. So what exactly can a naturopath do for you? She’ll start with an analysis of your hormone levels and immune function, and do an evaluation of your current diet and lifestyle. These factors will be useful for creating a personalized plan for your health during conception.

Many natural approaches to fertility have facilitated successful conception. Botanical medicine, acupuncture and dietary strategies can all help to regulate your hormone cycles. If you’re already involved in a medically assisted fertility treatment, these factors are still extremely important.

Bottom line: Baby-making should be fun! It’s our goal to help you feel confident and healthy as you embark on what is an exciting time in your relationship. And the support doesn’t end when you’re pregnant- That’s when you’ll want to optimize your diet, immune system and chiropractic health more than ever. There’s lots that we can do to facilitate a healthy pregnancy. We’ll continue to tailor your diet to address morning sickness, deficiencies and your new nutritional needs.

We love to follow families through different stages: from conception to pregnancy to new family-hood. It’s our goal to help keep your health optimized as a woman, an expectant mom, and as a young family!

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