Q: When I first walked into my chiropractor’s office I was having severe lower back and leg pain. After going through most of my treatment plan, my pain vanished and I am now able to return to my regular activities. My chiropractor tells me the importance of continuing with my in office and out of office rehab schedule. But why, when I am pain free?
A: This is a great question considering the number of chiropractic offices that are incorporating a rehab program into their patient’s treatment plan! Dysfunction of the spine can be a result of a number of things; lack of joint movement, muscle imbalances, abdominal weakness, injury, etc. When initiating treatment with the chiropractor the cause of the dysfunction will be determined through an examination and corrected through joint manipulation and rehabilitation.
First it is important to know, pain is the last symptom to show up and the first one to leave. So, just because you may be pain free doesn’t mean dysfunction still isn’t present. Second, you need to understand the importance of rehab. Rehabilitation uses a combination of methods that focus on restoring the patient’s useful life, by improving function and maintaining proper medical health.
There are progressive steps that are taken while in a rehabilitation program. The first step is to create proper controlled movement with joint adjustments and stretching. Once the correct movement is established retraining and strengthening the muscles to maintain this movement is important. Strengthening the muscles causes stability in the surrounding area.
If done properly and maintained even after pain free, a rehab program, as well as regular maintenance adjustments, may help to reduce reoccurring acute incidence as well as decrease intensity and recovery time if another episode were to occur. Be sure to talk to your doctor to determine the proper rehab treatment for you!
Dr. Ashley Venturi
Q: My doctor recently told me I have arthritis in my spine. Can a chiropractor do anything to treat spinal degeneration?
A: There are a number of different factors that cause early degeneration, or wearing out of the spine. These factors can be poor posture, repetitive movements that strain the spine, injuries, or abnormal curvature. With spinal degeneration you may have pain and stiffness, or no symptoms at all. A Doctor of Chiropractic looks not just at your spine, but at your overall health. Special methods of treatment used by chiropractors, called adjustments, can help to relieve pain and slow degeneration.
It is important to remember every case is different and your treatment plan depends on the cause and stage of your spinal degeneration. The goal of treatment is to help slow degeneration and improve overall range of motion. In addition to adjustments, treatment may also include traction, heat, massage, and stretching exercises.
When spinal degeneration is detected in its early stages, treatment outcomes are better than waiting until the severe symptoms which accompany advanced degeneration appear.
Dr. Ashley M. Venturi
Q: I was told by my family doctor that I have a slipped disc in my low back. What does that mean? Is it different from a herniated disc?
A: First of all, spinal discs can’t slip, as they are attached to bone on either end. What happens is that they herniate. A disc is vulnerable to herniation when it starts to degenerate, usually as a result of stress. The disc, which acts like a shock absorber, starts to wear out, making it more vulnerable to weakening. When this occurs, the inner core, or jell, may push into the spinal canal through the weak spot in the disc. The weak area is typically located under the nerve root. When a herniation occurs it puts direct pressure on that nerve root, causing pain to radiate along the area that the nerve supplies.
Nine out of ten disc herniations occur at either the L4/L5 and L5/S1 disc levels, which in turn affect the nerves running down the back of the leg (sciatic). A herniation affecting the L4/5 level can cause pain or numbness on the top and rear of the foot. At the L5/S1 level, symptoms may be seen at the sole or lateral aspect of the foot.
Fortunately, the vast majority of disc herniations improve with conservative treatment like chiropractic adjustments, spinal decompression, and rehabilitation (all available in our office). Occasionally, more aggressive measures like nerve blocks or surgical intervention may be necessary. A spinal examination can determine which treatment would be best.
Dr. Ashley M. Venturi
Q: Without fail every year after that first snow fall and shoveling task of the year I have moderate back pain. I was wondering the best ways to avoid this pain. Is there a certain technique I should be doing? Should I see my chiropractor before? After?
A: Great question considering a large majority of people, during the winter months, suffer from lower back sprain strains, vertebral disc damage, muscle fatigue and even at times spinal fractures. A lot of these injuries occur because of stress to the spinal structures or even a slip and fall on the ice.
It is important to understand the lower back is susceptible to sprain strains and all the steps needed to prevent injury. A study performed by Cornell University’s Ergonomic Department indicated, “…when handling heavy snow with a shovel, the L5/S1 disc has been identified as the weakest link in the body segment chain. The most severe injuries and pain are likely to occur in the back region.”
Snow shoveling can easily be compared to weight lifting. So, it is extremely important to prepare your body for the physical demand of shoveling. To do so consider the following:
- Choose an ergonomic shovel - Reduce spinal stress by using a shovel with a curved handle.
- Plastic instead of metal - Snow is already heavy, so use plastic its lighter weight.
- Smaller is better - A smaller blade will allow you to shovel less, therefore reducing the weight and reducing stress on the spine.
- Push instead of lifting - It is easier to push snow than to lift it, so purchase a shovel maid specifically for this.
- Warm-up - Like I mentioned before, shoveling is similar to weight lifting. And anyone you lifts weights knows how important warming up is. So, be sure to at least stretch.
- Hand placement - Be sure to leave distance between your hands, giving you better leverage and make it easier to lift the snow.
- Posture - Keep feet shoulder with apart for good balance, keep the shovel close to your body, and bend at the knees not the back. Most importantly, DO NOT TWIST! Always dump the snow in front of you, keeping your toes pointed in the direction you are dumping.
- Fresh is lighter - Shovel as it falls. The more compact it becomes the heavier it will be.
- Its not a race - Take your time. Take breaks. Pace yourself.
These are just a few things to keep in mind as you prepare for the snow. Always remember to maintain proper spine health by seeing your chiropractor regularly. If pain occurs after shovel do not hesitate to make an appointment with your chiropractor!
Dr. Ashley Venturi
Q: I have a friend who is always talking about how a proper diet and nutrition supplementation can play an important factor in the body’s ability to heal. I was wondering if this was true, and if so, what supplements would be important for everyday use?
A: This is such an important question because it is an area of healthcare that is widely accepted yet is of low priority for many people. It’s an area where all physicians should be knowledgeable because proper nutrition and supplementation help to promote the body’s ability for repair and build tissue. In fact, most of the major health problems that we see today, like heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, are directly related to diet and lifestyle.
First, it is important to understand that the proper intake ratio of foods is important in any diet. Proteins (20% of meal), carbohydrates (50% of meal), and fats (30% of meal) can make a huge difference in the body’s ability to heal. Proper portioning is important. A serving of protein should be about the size of your palm, while carbohydrates should be about the size of your fist. Avoid refined carbs and trans-fats and eat high-quality protein such as lean meats.
While no one can give medical advise without assessing the problem, the following are a list of vitamins and minerals that are important in the American diet and people often supplement with:
- B-complex: Helps assist the metabolic functions involved in healing.
- Vitamin C: Aides in collagen synthesis, which adds strength and stability.
- Vitamin A: Also, aides in collagen formation.
- Vitamin K: Involved in the formation of a blood clotting factor, helps to decrease bruising.
- Zinc: Aides the immune system. It is very important to supplement with during the winter seasons.
- Omega 3 fish oils: Excellent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant.
It is extremely important to remember that everyone is different and there are several other factors that can influence healing. After an injury it is important to talk to a doctor to help determine the essential supplements for you!
Dr. Ashley M. Venturi
Q: Now that winter has hit us, I was wondering what it is I should be doing to keep my immune system healthy. What can I do to avoid the cold and flu?
A: This is the most important time to find out the best way to boost your immune system. Although you may be taking supplements to strengthen your immune system, you may be sabotaging it in other ways, such as bad lifestyle habits. Now is the perfect time to replace the bad habits with good ones and give your immune system a boost. The following are the best ways to keep your immune system working optimally:
- Exercise- A sedentary lifestyle can increase your body’s risk of illness. It only takes 30mins of walking a day to increase your level or leukocytes which help the body to fight infections. So, get to the gym!
- Proper Diet and Nutrition- Diets that are high in sugar and fat help to suppress white blood cells, which are the immune system’s cells that are responsible for attacking bacteria. So cut back on red meat, dairy, oils, and fats. Increase your fresh fruits, green leafy vegetables, whole grains and drink plenty of water!
- Proper Vitamins and Minerals- There are four vitamins that are important to supplement with during the winter months. Vitamin C- which helps to increase your white blood cells, defending your body against toxins and infection. Vitamin E- helps increase B cell production. B cells produce antibodies which help keep infection away. Vitamin A- increases the regeneration of the mucosal layer of the intestines keep infection out of the body. Vitamin B6- helps increase the production of red blood cells. Red blood cells carry many nutrients to the body’s tissues.
- Reduce Stress- Lower your stress level. Long-term or chronic stress can have a detrimental effect on your immune system. Chronic stress increases cortisol and adrenaline, which suppress the immune system, making you more vulnerable to illnesses such as colds and other more serious diseases. To reduce stress make some time to you, relax, or meditate!
- Chiropractic Adjustments- Studies have shown that chiropractic care can boost your immune system by correcting spinal abnormalities that maybe putting pressure on the nervous system. The functions of the body are controlled by the nervous system, so a chiropractic adjustment will have a positive effect on immune function.
So along with your supplements, get your exercise, stay away from sugar and junk food, try to reduce your stress, and see your doctor of chiropractic!
Dr. Ashley M. Venturi
Q: I am currently having back pain, which I have had many times in the past. It has always gone away with time. It is lasting a little bit longer than usual. I am considering seeing a chiropractor, but I’m wondering if it will just resolve on its own again?
A: If you’ve had repeated episodes of the same problem, it is probably not going to go away on its own. Pain is not the best indicator of the cause or severity of a health problem. When pain is present, we feel unhealthy and even unhappy. As a chiropractor my main goal is to address not just the pain itself, but also the cause of the pain. Pain is a warning sign, telling us that this spine is not functioning properly. If your pain has been coming and going over the years, and this dysfunction is not corrected, then it will continue to recur. It will continue until the source of the pain is addressed. In most cases pain will decrease in a few weeks regardless of what you do, but unless treated properly, it frequently shows up again to cause future health problems.
Multiple episodes of pain, if left untreated, cause chronic and eventually permanent conditions. Therefore, addressing function is so important, rather than chasing only the pain. Masking the pain does nothing to improve the function!
Chiropractic’s goal is to address the structure and function of the muscular skeletal system to ensure your nervous system has as little interference as possible. This is done by assessing the function of a patient’s spine. Loss of structural integrity or normal function of the spine is the basis for why spinal dysfunction can occur. Abnormal stresses result in the facets, discs and supporting tissues when normal function of the spine is impaired. This often leads to back pain.
When diagnosing the cause of pain, a Doctor of Chiropractic will take a complete history and perform the proper orthopedic and neurological tests to determine the main cause of the pain. It may be due to joint injury, muscle spasm, nerve pressure, general arthritis, or other factors. It may also be important for the doctor to evaluate the patient’s daily activities, to see if they are contributing to the pain the patient is experiencing.
When it is determined what is causing the pain, a chiropractor will initiate treatment or refer to the proper specialist if needed. Chiropractic treatment can include a number of different techniques to treat the spine, various modalities to treat the soft tissue, or even rehabilitation to stabilize the surrounding muscles. Most importantly, when experiencing pain, see a doctor if the pain lingers or continues to get worse.
Dr. Ashley M. Venturi
Q: Without fail every year I suffer from at least one severe cold. So, as cold and flu season approaches, I frantically try to figure out every year what supplements I am lacking in my diet. I read many articles that typically say the same vitamins or minerals to supplement with, but I am afraid I am still missing something.
A: Great question for this time of year! Like most people you are spending a lot of your time reading the latest articles and studies about what is best to boost your immune system. And while you are doing this and possibly spending lots of money on supplements that help the immune system you may be secretly sabotaging it.
There are some common lifestyle habits that may be hurting your immune system. So, now is the time to replace some of the bad habits with good ones and give your immune system what it really needs.
You have heard this before I am sure, but lack of exercise can weaken your immune system indirectly. Sedentary lifestyles can interfere with your quality of sleep at night, increasing your risk of illness. Thirty minutes of walking daily is all you need to increase the level of leukocytes. Leukocytes are an immune system cell that helps the body fight infections. A sedentary lifestyle mat also lead to obesity, which had been shown to release pro-inflammatory chemical in the body. With on going inflammation in the body healthy tissue becomes damaged. Some studies have shown in individuals that are overweight, after receiving common vaccinations they produce fewer antibodies.
Diet plays a huge part in immune health. Diets that are high in sugar and fat suppress, white blood cells, the immune systems cells responsible for attacking bacteria. This effect has been known to last a few hours after consumption of a sugary drink.
Everyone you know has stress in theirs lives. Although in some instances short-term stress may help boost the immune system, chronic stress has the complete opposite affect. Chronic stress makes you vulnerable to illness, like colds and serious diseases. Chronic stress does this by producing a steady amount of cortisol and adrenaline, which are known to suppress the immune system.
So, as we can see replacing bad health habits with good ones, along with supplementing properly, will help to reduce our vulnerability to colds and flu’s!!!!
Dr. Ashley M. Venturi