Is Chiropractic More Than Just Back Pain Relief?

Back Pain Concord Ma

Most of the people that I talk to consider going to the chiropractor for back pain, neck pain and headaches. Considering in 1970 it wasn’t even legal to practice chiropractic, I would say we have come a long way in the public’s eye.

But have we? Is there more to chiropractic than just pain relief?

I’ll never forget the time a mom was coming to see me. She brought her son along for the ride and I happened to notice that he had a severe tic. He would shake his head, sometimes up to 30 times a minute!

I asked Mom about it and she told me she had done everything under the sun, every drug, test, scan, etc. No one could figure out why this was happening and told her that he would have to live with it.

I took a few moments and explained how I thought a chiropractic adjustment might be able to help. She agreed and after an exam, I adjusted him.

Shame on me for being surprised. Immediately his tic went from 20-30 a minute to 4-6. It stayed like this for several days. When it started to come back, Mom brought him back and we once again got the tic down to 4-6 per minute. Mom was thrilled, and I was ecstatic that we had made a real difference in a young man’s life. This was real world evidence that the nerves coming out of the spine influence everything in the body, not just your back or neck pain.

As an aside, Mom ultimately gave up on chiropractic after a couple of weeks because we couldn’t make them go away completely…sometimes you can’t win for trying!

This got me to thinking. How important is it for us to have clear communication between the body and the brain? Can we live a healthy fulfilling life if the nerves coming out of the spine are compromised?

Should we wait until it hurts? Maybe for the low back and neck that is not a terrible indicator, however, what about the organs that don’t feel pain? Should we wait until an organ has problems before we address it?

Could we head off problems by keeping the nerve flow to these areas as optimal as possible?

Will our energy be greater if the nervous system is running at peak performance?

After 16 years I can consistently say yes that we should keep our nerve flow as optimal as possible and we will have greater energy when our nervous system is running at it’s peak. Does this mean that we will be healthier? How can it not!

I think this is the most exciting time in chiropractic. For analytically minded people, like myself, we are just starting to scratch the surface in our scientific understanding of the brain body connection.

I couldn’t be more excited.


Vegetables and Quitting Smoking!

Well color me surprised.

There is a study in Nicotine & Tobacco Research that surveyed smokers whom had recently quit smoking. It turns out that those who consumed the most fruits and vegetables were significantly more likely to have quit smoking for at least 30 days at a 14 month follow-up. 3.05 times more likely!

As I was looking into this, it turns out that fruit and vegetable consumption (FVC) is inversely related to how much one will smoke. The higher the FVC, the fewer the cigarettes were smoked per day and the longer time it was to first cigarette of the day (TTFC).

While most of us know that fewer cigarettes is good, I was intrigued by time to first cigarette measurement. According to researchers, the longer you can go before having your first cigarette the less dependent you are on nicotine.

I must admit I never even considered there would be a relationship between vegetables and nicotine.

There is not a single person I know smoking that does not wish they could quit. If you are trying to quit or know someone that is trying to quit, contact me and I will get this study to them. Quitting smoking is a total lifestyle change and people will need all the support they can get.


Water Bottles


In case you are not aware, I live and work in the beautiful town of Concord. It is the home of Walden Pond, Thoreau, Alcott and countless others famous people.The North Bridge is a famous Revolutionary War site.  Why the history lesson?  Well last year, we made history. We were the first town to ban the selling of single serving water bottles.  Really??? Yes really. Is there a sane logical reason behind this? Yes, there actually is.  Do I agree with the ban? No, however, I see both sides.  Let’s discuss.

The Case for Banning Water Bottles.

The group that is passionate about the banning the sale of single serving water bottles is quick to tell you that water is available anywhere there is a tap. Due to this fact, and if I may summarize for them, why put water in an environmentally unfriendly container when you can get it just about anywhere. If you use a glass or reusable container we can drastically cutdown of the number of plastic water bottles being used and then thrown away. The best part about plastic is also the worst part of plastic. Plastic never biodegrades, it is incredibly durable. There in lies the problem. While it is good for us in terms of portability and durability, it is terrible for nature.  Have you ever Google’d the swirling trash images?  Horrifying to say the least.

The Case for Not Banning Water Bottles.

In a word it is convenience. When people are at the sub shop, the pizza restaurant or the convenience store, they want the option to buy a bottle of water as opposed to a soda or sports drink.  In the past year, people have told me they are drinking more soda and sports drinks now that water is not available.

Potential Solutions

I have been known to have a beer every now and then. There is a deposit on the beer bottles. When we get a bunch built up, of course this takes years :), we bring them to a redemption center and collect our money. Why not do the same for water bottles? Would there be 100% compliance? There never is. If 20% of the bottles never get returned, take that money that you would have payed out and put it into education about how awful the water bottles are for the environment.

Encourage cities and towns to put in  hydration stations. Make filtered water readily available. Am I more likely to have a reusable water bottle or two rolling around the car if I know I can get good clean water when I am out? I would like to think so.

Start young with encouraging reusable water bottles. Give them out in the schools, make sure the kids are used to it and they will not know any other way.

Lastly, end the ban. People are inherently good and will try to do the right things by the environment when taught well. When people do forget, don’t force them into sugar laden options. No one thinks that is a good idea.

Anyone that comes into my office knows that I am always harping on you to drink more water. For the environments sake, let’s do it from reusable bottles and recycled cups. If you do find yourself out and want a drink, please make sure to grab your water bottle and recycle it when you are done.

If You Don’t Get Adjusted Your Organs Will Shut Down

Scare tactics.

Do I believe that Chiropractic is awesome…no doubt. Have I seen it help with a laundry list of problems, like asthma, back pain, bed wetting, ADHD and even high blood pressure? Yes.

Has chiropractic found a cure for these symptoms/conditions? No.

Then what have we done? We helped a stuck spine get moving and as a result the body was able to help itself. Now I am pretty sure you don’t want me to explain to you in painstaking detail as to why this is…you will have to take a slight leap of faith here for the sake of time.

Nothing infuriates me more than a current or new patient coming into my office and telling me they met one of my colleagues. In the process of this meeting, the chiropractor does some form of a scan and proceeds to tell the person that they have a severe subluxation that is compromising their nervous system and putting their organs in danger.

Really…organs in danger…c’mon…who comes up with this stuff.

Chiropractic is wonderful and I have seen it first hand help some people who were at the end of their rope. It doesn’t need to be cheapened with this marketing scare tactic.

Are people healthier when their spine is moving well and there is less stress on the spinal nerves, unquestionable. For the people that are only coming in every now and then for pain relief, are their organs in danger? No.

Many if not most of my colleagues are wonderful doctors. Watch out for the wackadoos…while they are the minority, they seem to be awfully vocal.

Case of the Month July 2010

Illustration of the pain pathway in René Desca...
Image via Wikipedia

A patient, that we will call Ben, reported to my office with low back pain that was traveling down his right leg all the way to the foot.  Upon exam it was pretty clear to me that Ben had a pretty tough case of sciatica, and trust me when I tell this, sciatica is no fun.

Let’s do a quick anatomy review.  The sciatic nerve begins in the low back, right around the top of your hips, or what you will hear as L4 and L5.  This nerve runs through the buttocks and continues down the leg.  When a person has sciatica, pressure is placed on the nerve somewhere along the path and the result is usually pain, although numbness can also be present.

Back to Ben.  When asked to rate the pain on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being miserable, Ben was a 9, which indicates it was quite severe.  Upon exam, Ben was showing tight musculature in the low back, decreased movement in the low back and tight musculature in the right buttocks.  Ben’s posture was a mess and several tests revealed the sciatic nerve was aggravated, to say the least.  X-ray was unremarkable.

I suggested to Ben that we try a short trial to make sure that this was the right course of action for him.  He agreed and we began with chiropractic adjustments, exercise, trigger point therapy and traction.  Ice was also applied after each visit.

At first we made some crazy improvements.  Ben’s pain rating dropped from 9 to 5 after 3 visits.  That gave us some information that this was the right course of action and not necessarily a disc herniation as can often be the case with leg pain cases.

The going after that was much slower.  Over the course of 3.5 weeks, we have been able to get Ben’s pain down from a 5 to a 2.  Ben is thrilled with his progress, me I am a little impatient.

In the coming weeks we are looking to improve Ben’s pain to a zero, while helping him with strength and conditioning to increase the chances that this doesn’t happen again.

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Case of the Month June 2010

I got a frantic phone call last month from a patient we will call Mary.  Mary had been in an auto accident and was in severe pain.  Mary was stopped at a light when she got rear ended from behind.  The impact was so hard Mary hit the car in front of her.  Luckily Mary was wearing her seatbelt.

When Mary came into the office she reported neck pain, shoulder pain, and right arm pain.  On a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being severe, Mary rated all three pains a 9.  Upon exam Mary presented with tightness in the neck and shoulders as well as diminshed reflexes in her arms.

Mary had been x-rayed at the hospital and luckily had no fractures.  She did have an extremely reduced curve in her neck.  This lack of curve was putting a lot of tension on the muscles and nerves in her neck and in my opinion was the source of a lot of her pain.

We began treating Mary with gentle adjustments, ice, traction and exercise.  The going was real slow for the first week. I wish I could tell you Mary jumped off the table after one visit telling me how awesome I was…didn’t happen.

The second week of care was when we really started to see some results.  The muscle tension and spasm started to really clear up and most importantly Mary was really starting to feel better.

It was by week 6 when Mary was really able to get through the day without pain.  Needless to say Mary was thrilled. When she reported to the office she was a 9, with 10 being the worst, and now she was in the 1-2 range.

The key to Mary’s recovery was her dedication to getting better.  In 8 weeks Mary missed one appointment, did her home exercise and most importantly kept her chin up when the going got tough.

I am proud of Mary and so happy to be able to take a part in helping her.

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Heart Attack on a Plate Anyone?

In a capitalistic society, do companies have any societal obligations or is it just a balance sheet driven world?  Let’s say a company is selling the absolute most un-healthy product you could imagine.  Is there any obligation to society to not produce this product?  What if you know you can sell millions of them and make your shareholders a boatload of money?

Can we have it both ways?  Can we be about capitalism and social obligations?

This post could go in a million different directions but I want to focus on an article that I saw in the Boston Herald today.  The article is on a company that we will call UnFriendly’s, UF for short.

UF has decided to produce a product called the Ultimate Grilled Cheese Burger Melt.  It is described as an Angus burger between two grill cheese sandwiches…what??  Here is the nutritional info for this monstrosity:

  • 1,500 Calories

    Concord MA chiropractor
    Eat a few of these grilled cheese burgers and your arteries will look like the one on the far right.
  • 97 grams of fat (38 saturated)
  • 2090 mg of sodium

Now the FDA has a guideline of what the average diet should look like:

  • 2,000 calories
  • 65 grams of fat (20 saturated)
  • 2,400 mg of sodium

As you can see, one of these grilled cheese/burger combos takes up almost all of the sodium for the day, 3/4 the calories and more than the recommended fat by almost 35 grams.  Now don’t forget this is only 1 burger…you still have the rest of the day to eat.  If you combine this with fries and one of their famous shakes, take a look at how this breaks down:

  • 2710 calories
  • 149 grams of fat (55 saturated)
  • 3880 mg of sodium

This blows the FDA guidelines out of the water, again, this is only 1 meal!!!

So, now that we have talked about the product, lets take a minute to discuss the choices.

Do we have a choice on whether or not to eat this?  Of course we do.

Should we have people telling us we can’t eat it?  Of course not.

Should we have people warning us that this is crap and making the companies publish the nutritional info?  No doubt.

The last question is this…should a company care about the people that it is producing this product for?  There is no doubt there is market demand for this…that is why they produced it.  Does that make it right?

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What Do You Mean You Don’t Take Appointments?

Concord MA Chiropractor
Look close for your appointment time

Imagine you are working and your neck is killing you.  You call my office and make an appointment for 11:00.  Of course at 10:50 one of your customers calls and you run a few minutes late taking care of your business.  You hurry off the phone and set a land speed record getting to the office.  You run it at 11:07, out of breath and apologizing for being late.  Is this anyway to start a visit where I am going to ask you to relax and let me do some work on you?  Of course not!

After a few years of having set appointments I noticed people were coming into the office a few minutes late and were stressed about it.  Now I gotta tell you, stressed out patients are not ready to receive adjustments, they are in a word…stressed. It is no way to to get your spine worked on.

After a couple of years of this, I decided to radically change my office and we took out the appointment book.  Gone are the phone calls if you are running 10 minutes late.  Who isn’t running 10 minutes late from time to time?

In oder to better serve our clients, we now give them times when we are in the office.  If I am in from 8-noon on a Monday, why do I care if you come in at 8:11 or 9:02?

Well Doc, what happens if there are a few people in front of me? The reality is, the initial office procedure, the adjustment, doesn’t take that long.  99% of our patients are seen within 10 minutes.  10 minutes!!  People almost can’t believe it.

Are there times when we are busier than others?  No doubt, but it really seems to work out.  If you have ever seen our office, it is an open environment where people actually, GASP, talk to each other.  As a matter of fact, one of my stated goals is that 2 people who meet in my office will get married.  It hasn’t happened yet, but we are working on it!!!

If you have ever sat in a doctors office stressed that you were 10 minutes late, then they make you wait another 20 minutes, I want you to remember what we are doing here…stress free, little waiting, people having fun, chiropractic.

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Is Your Cell Phone Killing Your Spine?

text girl
Image by uberculture via Flickr

In today’s ever changing technological world, our lives must be getting simpler with all of the cool new gadgets that we own.  Did you realize that the average house owns 2.5 cell phones and 1.25 Ipods?  How about the new netbooks and the cool looking Ipads that Apple came out with.

While all of these products are uber-cool, there is one drawback…they are tiny.  I mean crazy small.  If you have a current smart phone your screen is about 3.5″ across.  Try watching a music video on that.  How about spending a half hour checking and responding to email on your netbook.  The screen is tiny, the keyboard is tiny and you have to spend a ton of time hunched over to use it.

The problem with these devices is how you have to use them.  Let’s say you have a typical teen that sends 50-60 texts per day.  Have you ever watched them actually do this.  They hold the phone pretty much in their lap and text away.  Pay particular attention to their head and shoulders…head looking down and shoulders slouched look familiar?

When you bend your head forward, the position necessary to look down at your phone, you are taking the curve out of your neck.  This curve is crucial.  Research has shown that reducing the curve in your neck can lead to a whole host of problems, the least of which are pain and tension in the shoulders and neck.

If you or your teen are spending a ton of time on the phone texting, please raise the phone up closer to shoulder level, allowing your head to be in a more neutral position, thus protecting that curve in your neck.

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