Health-E-News. June 2009
empowering you to optimal health
Chiropractic for Allergies
On May 7, 2009 a story was run on the ABC affiliate, KSPR out of Springfield Missouri, which featured help for allergies through chiropractic. In this story Jami Lynn Lilly was an allergy sufferer who always had problems during the spring in Missouri. Her allergies would give her sinus problems and cause her eyes to water. She commented, "I get really bad sinus infections, for weeks I just look like I’m bawling all the time"
Jami finally decided to go to a chiropractor for her problem. After her first visit she reported improvement. She described the experience by saying, "He adjusted me one time for it, two three days my nose just drained and then I was fine after that."
Jami's chiropractor, Dr. Baca, was also interviewed in the news story and he raised an interesting question. "If there’s an allergy floating around out there what makes one person susceptible to it, when it doesn't make all of us susceptible." He then explained that the nervous system is the key. He stated, "Your nervous system controls every aspect of your body, including your immune system."
The story noted that the nervous system is the master controller of the body. The spine protects the spinal cord thus protecting the messages that are carried over the nervous system. According to the article, Dr. Baca explained that, "If one of the vertebrae on your spine is out of place it could be putting pressure or irritating one of your nerves. Maybe the nerve that controls your sinuses, your head, your throat or your immune system."
He further explained that this could be the reason why one person is susceptible to allergies while another in the same environment is not, "This person's immune system isn't functioning as well as this person's immune system so it can't fight the allergen off like it should."
Jami explained that she never knew that chiropractic could help her allergies. She said, "I never knew it; I just came because my neck was bothering me." The news story concludes by noting that. "Jami is a big believer now. She's allergy free and passing the word on about allergies and chiropractic."
"Dowager’s Hump" Linked to Increased Death Risk
Hyperkyphosis, or "dowager's hump" - the exaggerated forward curvature of the upper spine seen commonly in elderly women - may predict earlier death in women regardless of whether they have vertebral osteoporosis, UCLA researchers have found.
Researchers reported in a study published in the May 19 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine that older white women with both vertebral fractures and the increased spinal curvature that results in the bent-over posture characteristic of hyperkyphosis had an elevated risk for earlier death. The finding was independent of other factors that included age and underlying spinal osteoporosis.
Women who had only hyperkyphosis, without vertebral fractures, did not show an increased risk for premature death.
A number of factors besides osteoporosis can cause hyperkyphosis, including habitual poor posture and degenerative diseases of the muscles and intervertebral discs.
"Just being bent forward may be an important clinical finding that should serve as a trigger to seek medical evaluation for possible spinal osteoporosis, as vertebral fractures more often than not are a silent disease," said Dr. Deborah Kado, an associate professor of orthopedic surgery and medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and the study's primary investigator. "We demonstrated that having this age-related postural change is not a good thing. It could mean you're likely to die sooner."
For the study, the researchers reviewed data on 610 women, ages 67 to 93, from a cohort of 9,704 participants in the Study of Osteoporotic Fractures. The participants were recruited between 1986 and 1988 in Baltimore, Md.; Minneapolis, Minn.; Portland, Ore.; and Pennsylvania's Monongahela Valley. Researchers measured spinal curvature with a flexicurve and assessed vertebral fractures from spinal radiographs; they assessed mortality based on follow-ups averaging 13.5 years. Adjusting for age, as well as osteoporosis-related factors such as low bone density, moderate and severe vertebral fractures, and the number of prevalent vertebral fractures, the researchers found that women with previous vertebral fractures and increasing degrees of spinal curvature were at increased mortality risk from the spinal condition, regardless of age, smoking, spinal bone-mineral density, or the number and severity of their spinal fractures.
The findings provide evidence that vertebral fractures alone may not be the best indicators of potential health problems, but the associated increased spinal curvature might take precedence. Other studies linking hyperkyphosis to poor health, such as impaired physical function, increased fall risk, fractures and mortality, have been unable to exclude the possibility that vertebral fractures alone were the underlying explanation for the findings.
Steps to a Great Night's Sleep
Sleep problems are actually extremely common in our society, and they can have serious consequences. Sleep problems can lead to difficulty concentrating, memory lapses, loss of energy, fatigue and emotional instability, and in the longer term, can elevate your risk of serious health conditions including high blood pressure and heart attack. And poor sleeping can cause difficulties with learning, memory, thinking and feelings, which may lead to poor school and work performance. Furthermore, problem sleepiness can manifest as drowsy driving or workplace accidents and errors.
Aside from some of the more serious things that could be negatively affecting your sleep, there are some variables or situations that you can have more control over. Let's talk about how to change your sleeping conditions so you sleep easier and get the rest your body needs:
1. The Right Sleep Position: The position that is the least stressful on your body is on your back with a pillow under your neck and another under your knees so they are comfortably bent. Bent knees give the lower (lumbar) spine support. The pillow under the neck gives it support as well. However, not many people are able to stay in this position for an entire night. Also, people who snore tend to avoid sleeping on their back because their snoring becomes worse.
2. The Right Mattress: Try to have as firm and supportive of a mattress as you can for your body. Also find out about the warranty. Good mattress companies provide a warranty that pretty much guarantees your satisfaction. It may include a trial period (to see if the bed works) and a money-back guarantee if you don't like it.
Pillow tops are not necessarily a good thing. Much of the time, pillow tops soften up the surface of your bed too much, which means it will not support your body well. You need to see how it feels when you sleep on it. Memory foam mattresses and tops are very supportive, and they do mold to your body. The only drawback is that they can trap heat. If you run hot at night, this may not be the mattress for you.
3. The Right Pillow: In general, your pillow must support you in the sleep positions you are in at night. If you only sleep on your back, your pillow must support your neck accordingly. If you only sleep on your side, the pillow must be thick enough to support the entire part of the body from the neck to the shoulder at a 90 degree angle. If you sleep on both your back and your side, the pillow needs to support both positions.
Custom-made pillows are available that can provide you with the proper support for your body and sleep patterns. Your doctor can actually take measurements of your body so a pillow can be created to fit you perfectly.
Three Easy Ways to Reduce Stress
Stress is more than just something that expends valuable time and energy - it can also have serious health ramifications, particularly if you don't deal with the underlying issues that are causing your stress. Here are three "stress busters" to help ease your stress and put a smile back on your face:
1. Relax: The average day can seem like one stressful task after the other, which adds up to a state of constant stress and frustration. Make time to get away from the daily grind, whether that's setting aside an hour or so each night before bed to take a walk, read a good book or just put your feet up and unwind. Sometimes all it takes is a little time to yourself to reduce your stress dramatically.
2. Refresh: Stress can be nothing more than your body and mind getting stuck in a rut of the "same old, same old." Stagnation sets in, which leads to stress over time. To avoid this pattern, think outside your daily box every once in a while: learn a new skill, incorporate new exercises into your workout routine, take a different route to work - anything to mix things up a little.
3. Rejuvenate: No matter how successful you are at incorporating anti-stress strategies into your daily routine, it isn't always enough. To truly rejuvenate, plan a few vacations every year; you'll be less stressed leading up the time off, just knowing it's around the corner, and getting away from normal responsibilities can do wonders to ease stress and rejuvenate your spirit.
Consumer Reports Rates Chiropractic As #1
With an estimated 80 percent of American adults in the United States likely to suffer with back pain, the Consumer Reports Health Rating Center surveyed over 14,000 individuals to determine their preferred method of care. According to results reported in May 2009 (www.consumerreports.org), 59 percent of those surveyed chose chiropractic spinal manipulation as the top-rated approach for back pain, rating chiropractic higher than physical therapy, massage therapy, acupuncture, or care from an M.D., physician specialist or primary care physician.
"Individuals who accessed care from a hands-on methods approach, such as chiropractic, expressed the highest satisfaction rates," reports Gerard W. Clum, D.C., president of Life Chiropractic College West, Hayward, California, and spokesperson for the Foundation for Chiropractic Progress. "These people sought relief, having suffered with back pain that undoubtedly interfered with their everyday activities and limited their daily routines, sleep patterns, work responsibilities, and efforts to maintain healthy weight. Chiropractic care provided the help they were looking for."
Dr. Clum points out that many people believe that medication and surgery offer a quick and easy solution to back pain, as that approach fits with what they are accustomed to doing. This type of outdated thinking is leading many people astray, according to The New York Times (Parker-Pope, April 2, 2009), "...the practice of medicine contains countless examples of elegant medical theories that belie the best available evidence."
"Unfortunately, this lack of information can lead to costly and unnecessary interventions and diagnostic testing by physicians who take an "ideological approach" to back pain," says Dr. Clum. "It is wise to explore conservative options for pain management once a more serious condition has been ruled out."
Dr. Clum says that the survey results are not really surprising because, increasingly, more patients are turning to less invasive procedures to address back problems. Mounting evidence now instills confidence in providers and patients that chiropractic spinal adjusting can get the job done. Additionally, physicians are now more inclined to support a chiropractor referral.
"The Consumer Reports survey is an example of end-user oriented research," he says. "As more evidence emerges, we hope that physicians will start to shift from traditional treatment ideology to approaches to back pain that would offer more benefit to patients and avoid medication and surgery whenever and wherever possible."
He concludes that in many instances, it may be common for a doctor to write a
prescription for pain medication or to seek a consultation for surgery, noting,"The traditional, often outdated approaches may lead to unnecessarily expensive
and invasive treatment with undesirable results. It is clear that patients now
recognize and appreciate the benefits of chiropractic care."