Case of the Month April 2015

I have often said, both in the blog and office, that I have the best job on earth.

Recently I had a patient in the office that was hurting. Not only was their low back hurting, he looked like a pretzel as he was all twisted up.

After a thorough history and examination, I determined that he had a significant structural shift that was causing a whole host of secondary conditions. While the low back pain and leg pain were bothering him, it was the problem moving his bowels that was bothering him the most.

After the patient’s first visit, he walked out a little straighter than the when he walked in. While there was not an immediate decrease in pain, not unexpected, the patient was moving a little better.

The cool part is what happened two hours later.

The patient reported he had a bowel movement that, well let’s not get too graphic here, was slightly bigger than usual.

The bodies ability to heal itself never ceases to amaze me.

If we get the structure lined up and allow the body to do what it knows how to do, amazing things can and do happen.


The Worst Position To Put Your Spine In

Bending in a fieldHere in the Northeast, halfway through January we thought we were going to have a mild and easy winter.

Mother Nature had other ideas.

In a short period of time, we got a record amount of snow. Truly a crazy amount.

With all of this snow came the inevitable shoveling, an activity that is not the best for your low back to say the least.

Now that the snow has cleared, people are starting to think about gardening and once again shoveling may come into play.

Here is my issue with shoveling…the worst position that you can put your back in is bending forward and twisting or side bending.

Please allow for a brief anatomy lesson.

As a chiropractor, I work with peoples’ structure to maintain proper weight distribution within their spine. We strive for 50/50 weight distribution between the right and left with 50/50 distribution from front to back.

When we bend forward, the weight shifts to the front of the spine. When we bend to a side, the weight shifts to that side. The body is designed to handle those singular movements.

The problem comes in when we combine the two.

When we bend forward and twist or side bend, all of the weight goes onto 25% of the spine. This creates tremendous pressure within the discs of the low back.

Eventually that pressure has to go somewhere and more often than not it results in a shifting of the structure which then leads to a whole host of secondary conditions, with back pain being at the top of the list.

It may also lead to the disc breaking open, also called a herniation, and that has another whole host of secondary conditions, with sciatica being at the top of that list.

As you get older, you must limit the amount of time you spend bending and twisting. The sad reality is as we age our discs dry out and can handle less pressure. The more we bend and twist/side bend, the higher our chances are of shifting our structure or worse, blowing out a disc.

If you have been spending a lot of time in less than ideal positions, email or call us and we can discuss strategies to help you stay upright and pain free.



The One Thing You Can Do Before an Auto Accident to Help Yourself

Car Crash Dr HarringtonFor most of us, an auto accident is one of the worst things that you can put your spine through.

Picture you are traveling along at 35 mph and a car pulls out in front of you and you hit it. You have gone from 35 mph to 0 mph very quickly, much more quickly than your body can handle.

As a result of this sudden change in speed, force is generated and that force goes through your spine. The force starts in the low back, travels up the mid back and eventually gets to your neck.

Here is where you can help yourself.

If you are sitting in an upright posture and have the headrest positioned properly, you can save yourself a lot of pain and suffering.

When you decelerate, think slow down, very rapidly, your head will move slightly forward and then with great force it will bend backwards as if you were looking up at the ceiling.

If you have the seat back up properly and have the headrest positioned properly, the bending of the neck will be limited, thereby putting the force into the headrest as opposed to your neck and that is a VERY good thing.

Allowing your headrest to work properly require two factors:

  1. The back of your head must be within one inch of the headrest. Any more than that and your head will not touch the headrest immediately after the collision, negating it’s effectiveness.
  2. The top of your headrest must be equal to the top of your head. If the head rest is too low, there will be insufficient support to prevent a whiplash injury.

If you have been in an auto accident, call your trusted chiropractor, me!, or your medical doctor.

The last thing you want to do is ignore car accident injuries. The longer that you wait, the much longer it will take to get you back to your pre-accident state.


Case of the Month July 2014

Car Accident

Have you ever been in a fender bender? Ever notice how sore you are afterwards?

I have a patient that we will call Pat. Pat was involved in an auto accident recently where she was driving, stopped for traffic and a car hit her from behind going close to 40 MPH.

After the accident Pat reported loss of hearing, headaches, vision problems, neck pain, shoulder pain and arm pain. Needless to say Pat was not feeling good and went to the hospital to get everything checked out. Once cleared from there Pat came to see me in the hopes that I would be able to help her.

I discovered that her neck and midback were completely stuck and swollen, not uncommon after a bad auto accident. Her range of motion was limited to almost zero in every range with extreme pain in every direction.

I got to work by adjusting Pat’s thoracic and cervical spine. After the adjustments, I had Pat do range of motion exercises, posture specific stretching and iced both areas. Within one week, Pat was reporting that she was feeling much better. What I was the most excited about was the 50% improvement in range of motion. 50% in one week! (Yes I know, but for me it is the little things.)

As the weeks went by Pat reported that she was moving and feeling better than she had in a long time, even before the accident. The coolest part of all of this was her focus level.

Prior to the accident Pat told me she had a hard time focusing on tasks for any period of time.

Within 3 weeks Pat felt she was getting more done at work in a shorter period of time. Talk about the brain body connection! When you remove the interference from the body, the brain knows what to do!


What Do You Mean You Aren’t Treating My Pain?

What is your first thought after you have thrown your back out? Typically something like, “How did I do this or what did I do?” Does that sound familiar?

Sadly, a large percentage of people walk into my office with some form of pain. Most people tell me that they have tried everything else before chiropractic and I am their last hope before heavy duty drugs or surgery. (No pressure on me right!)

As with most chiropractors that I know, I get to work on examining the spine and trying to locate the areas where the spine is not moving as well as it should. The area where the spine is not moving as well as it should can be referred to as a subluxation Here is a dirty little secret about chiropractic…we really aren’t treating the symptoms!…we know that if we reduce the level of subluxation in the spine, the body will heal itself. How you may ask? Great question. Let’s have a little anatomy review.

Everything in the body is run by the brain. The brain communicates with the body via the spinal cord and nerves that exit each level of the spine. In order for us to be able to move, each level of the spine, called a vertebra, moves independently of the other vertebrae.

This is where the issue can arise.

When we get our spine out of shape, or subluxated, the spine no longer moves as it should. The official wording is it has lost its proper juxtaposition to the one above or below it. This results in the nerves at this area not working the way that they should. Picture a dimmer light switch. Turn the juice down and the lights get dim…turn the juice up and the lights shine bright.

To keep it simple, chiropractors help take the pressure off the nerves allowing everything connected to them to run with more efficiency.

What are the results of this? For one you are healthier. Did you know that people who use chiropractic as their primary form of health care had 60% fewer hospitalizations, 62% fewer surgeries and used 85% fewer pharmaceuticals than HMO patients who received traditional medical care. This was all done with an average of a 93.6% satisfaction rate.

Most times, the patients’ symptoms will get better as well. Did we treat the back or neck pain per se? Not really, what we did was identify where the spine was not functioning at an optimal level and work with you to get it back to a functional level. Once that is done, for the most part, the body knows what to do.

More on this topic to come!

Dr. Oz

What is your opinion on Dr. Oz? Do you even know who he is?

Quick history lesson. Dr. Oz is a personable cardiothoracic surgeon that first appeared on TV in 2004 on the Oprah Winfrey show. He was an almost instant hit and today has his own show that is watched by lots of people.

In case you have not been keeping up with Dr. Oz news (and honestly why would you?), he recently found himself in front of a group of Senators that were taking him to task for his language when promoting weight loss items. Check out the video.



The gist of the video is Dr. Oz went to Congress to ask for help in slowing down the scam artists that were misconstruing his words in order to sell bogus products. What ended up happening is Dr. Oz got called on the carpet for all of his flowery language in supporting products that are suspect at best.

At the end of the day, there are no super duper secret formulas and pills when it comes to your health. Drink plenty of water, eat clean and get plenty of exercise will go a long way towards getting and keeping you healthy.

When someone is pitching you that they have the greatest immune boosting, fat burning, energy increasing product, do your homework and look at it with a very skeptical eye.


I am Addicted to Online Reviews

I am an online review addict! There I said it! Sometimes I will read reviews of products that I have no intention of ever buying. I will even read reviews of products that I have already bought to see if I agree with the reviews.

I should probably get some help for this!

In all seriousness, it got me thinking about online reviews for people like me, your dentist,  massage therapist,your orthopedic surgeon or even a therapist.

While I have read reviews for everything from a toast to a TV, I have never looked at reviews for doctor or therapist.

With all of the above providers, word of mouth is almost always the way that people find out about different providers.

But, what if you were new to town? Or maybe your family and friends don’t know someone in the area of expertise that you are looking for.

Should you base your decision to see someone based on their online reviews?

As a sole practitioner, should I be encouraging people to leave reviews about my practice?

Would a string of positive reviews make you more likely to see someone? What about a string of negative reviews, would that discourage you?

I would be very interested to hear what you have to say about online reviews and how often you look at them when deciding how to pick a doctor, dentist or therapist.

Please consider leaving a comment below and we can discuss online reviews.



I Threw My Back Out Tying My Shoe!

Sadly, most people that come to see me for the first time show up with some form of pain. Low back, sciatica, neck pain, shoulder pain, etc…

I say sadly because here is a little secret for you…it doesn’t need to be that way.

We tend to be a nation of reactors instead of proactors … if that makes any sense!

Please allow me to explain.

When someone tells me they through their back out tying their shoe, they are often incredulous that something so routine could be causing them this much pain. As I listen, I smile, nod, empathize and then with varying degrees of success, attempt to explain to them that the act of tying their shoe really wasn’t what threw their back out.

When we do something as innocuous as tying our shoe and our back goes out; causing extreme pain, the act of tying the shoe was simply the final straw.

In the absence of trauma, it is almost never the final act that causes the pain that you are feeling. The pain is usually something that has been building up for some time. How we are sitting, sleeping, the stress we are under and even the food we are or are not eating all goes into the pot. What comes out the other side of that is often a stressed out body and brain that has little room for error.

Hence, the simple act of bending over to tie one’s shoe throws your back out and causes you we wear nothing but Crocs for the rest of your days, and that is the real tragedy!

As I tell people in my office, it is much easier to stay ahead of things than to always be catching up to them. Please pay attention to the little things like taking a break from the computer, drinking plenty of water, and even exercising a little bit everyday.

If you follow my advice, the next time you come in my office it will be for a checkup and not because you threw your back out getting the water from the fridge!



Case of the Month February 2014

Case of the Month February 2014

Imagine you have been driving your 6 cylinder car on 4 cylinders and didn’t know it. Imagine you have been driving on 2 cylinders and didn’t know it. You bring the car to the mechanic for a flat tire and he discovers your problem. He makes the fix and you drive away. You step on the gas and your car roars to life, it feels incredibly powerful and super responsive.

No this isn’t a mechanics blog, this actually relates to your body, I promise!

It is always shocking to me how much better people feel after they get adjusted and I just don’t mean from something that may be hurting them. I mean how much more energy they have. I have seen people literally hop, skip and spring out of my office.

See chiropractic isn’t just about back or neck pain. It is about getting the pressure off the nerves and allowing the body to work to it’s fullest potential. From the pregnant mom to the stressed out office worker.

In the past month I have seen a bunch of people that have all come in for various reasons. They have all left and reported back that,not only are their various ailments better, they feel like their energy is surging.

They tell me they feel lighter, more energetic and are sleeping better than they ever have.

Could it be that simple that getting adjusted gives people more energy?

Can I 100% explain why it is? No I cannot not, no one can. What I can tell you is this; when you get the pressure off the nerves that run the body amazing things will happen!

Shameless plug. If you are feeling a little off and would like to see if chiropractic could help please give me a call or just come over during office hours. You will be glad you did.

How Often Do You Say No?

Stop saying YES!

Stop saying YES!

Do you have a hard time saying no?

Do you feel guilty when you say no to the bake sale, spending time with people that you don’t really want to see, buying those girl scout cookies, donating money to charity or any one of the other million things that we get asked in a normal week?

Steve Jobs once said, “It comes from saying no to 1,000 things to make sure we don’t get on the wrong track or try to do too much.”

Try to do to much…let’s be honest, don’t we all tend to do this at times? Saying no is hard!

Saying yes to everything, however, is exhausting, stressful and actually bad for your body. Trust me I am a doctor!

As I have written here before, stress is related to a whole ton of health issues including but not limited too…heart disease, obesity, diabetes, depression and a whole host of others.

Why would we say yes to so many things that we would increase our own stress levels and potentially make ourselves sick?

It’s actually quite simple…we hate confrontation and feel like we would be letting people down if we said no to them…even if we knew it was going to stress us out.

In one of four studies earlier this year in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, Dr. Vanessa Bohns and her team had 25 college students ask 108 strangers to vandalize a library book by writing the word “pickle” in ink on one of the pages. While many of the strangers protested, or asked the students to take responsibility for any repercussions, half of the strangers agreed to deface the book—much more than the average of 29% that the students predicted.

According to Dr. Vohns, “Saying “no” feels threatening to our relationships and that feeling of connectedness.” And we worry that saying “no” will change the way the other person views us, and make him or her feel badly.

The sad reality is that saying no is a rejection and no one likes getting rejected. Studies have shown that the negative effect of no is more powerful than the positive effect of a yes.

Some of this also comes from us and how much we perceive the person will judge us or be disappointed in us. The experts say we need to relax a bit here. We think someone is going to judge us much more harshly than they actually do.

Yes, most of it is in our heads.

Now, if we are going to get serious about saying no, let’s discuss a couple of strategies on how to say no more effectively.

  • Say no in a nice understanding tone and don’t be afraid to blame external circumstances.
  • Stick to your guns! No means no…once, twice or a thousand times
  • If someone gets you when you least expect it, do not be afraid to tell them you will get back to them.

Last thing to remember, time is one of the few commodities that you cannot buy. We all get the same amount of seconds, minutes, hours etc. Protect this commodity like the treasure that it is…your life may depend on it.