Chiropractic Treatment for Sciatica

Often misunderstood to be a diagnosis, sciatica is actually the term for a collection of symptoms, the most pronounced of which is low back pain combined with pain that extends through the buttocks and down one leg. It is one of the most common forms of low back pain and, as such, is regularly treated by chiropractors.

Sciatica takes its name from the sciatic nerve, which branches out from the lower part of the back and stretches down the entire back of each leg as far as the foot. Deriving from a number of spinal nerves, the left and right sciatic nerves are the largest nerves in the human body. The compression or pinching of either sciatic nerve (or the nerves at the root of the spine) is the cause of sciatica, and this can occur as a result of a number of different medical conditions. 

The pain that occurs with sciatica is the single most important factor in differentiating it from other kinds of low back pain. Although the pain may begin in the lower back, sciatica is also felt further down in the buttocks, the back of the thigh, the lower leg an even into the foot itself. The left and right sciatic nerves are rarely affected at the same time, so pain that occurs in only one leg is often a reliable indicator that someone has sciatica.

Sciatic pain is often described as shooting like electricity or burning like fire rather than a dull ache. A tingling or prickling feeling may also occur, often accompanied by numbness and/or weakness in the leg, just as when the leg ‘goes to sleep’ after you have been sitting on it for a while. A combination of pain and weakness can also be felt in the same leg. Sufferers of sciatica usually report that their pain tends to be better when they are lying down or walking and worse when standing or sitting.   

The level of pain experienced in sciatica can range from moderate discomfort to severe pain, depending on the nature and severity of the underlying condition. In the worst cases, the degree of shooting pain or weakness in the leg may prevent standing and walking altogether. The frequency of symptoms may also vary from occasional through intermittent to ever present.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms then it would be wise to arrange a visit to your chiropractor. They can examine you properly to determine if you do have sciatica, what is causing it, and the appropriate treatment options for your case. Leaving a condition untreated can lead to a worsening of symptoms, so getting an early diagnosis could save you a lot of aggravation and pain.

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iPad Neck and Shoulder Pain Headaches

Is Your iPad Causing You Neck and Shoulder Pain? It is estimated that up to 300 million tablet computers such as the iPad may be sold by 2015, which seems entirely possible, given their ubiquitous appearance on trains, in cafes, and even at the supermarket. It has already been shown that frequent texting on your mobile phone can cause problems with neck pain, but those who use their tablet for everything from surfing the internet to watching full-length movies may be in for even more pain. Commonly referred to as "iPad neck," increasing numbers of people are showing up in their chiropractor's office with neck pain and stiffness due to the use of this device.

The results of a study published in Work: A Journal of Prevention, Assessment, and Rehabilitation, found that the use of tablet computers was associated with greater head and neck flexion than traditional desktop computers and that placing the tablet higher on a table and using a case to put the tablet at a more optimal angle could help prevent neck and shoulder problems.

Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Microsoft Corporation studied 15 volunteers who were regular users of tablet computers. The subjects performed simulated tasks on an Apple iPad2 and a Motorola Xoom, during which the posture of the head and neck, the subjects' gaze angle and gaze distance were measured by a three-dimensional infrared motion analysis system. They surfed the internet, wrote e-mails, watched movies and played video games.

Each tablet came with its own proprietary case that enabled users to set the tablet at different angles. The Apple case allowed for 15° and 73° tilt angles, while the Motorola case allowed angles of 45° and 63°. Greater flexion of the neck was found with the iPad2 when used in its case. Not surprisingly, tablets set at the least perpendicular angle caused greater neck and head flexion than when the subjects used a desktop or laptop computer. Head and neck posture only began to approach a neutral position when the tablets were set in their cases at the Table-Movie angle in which they were closest to perpendicular.

The researchers recommended that tablet users place the devices on a table and at the steepest viewing angle possible to avoid neck and shoulder pain. However, they cautioned that this configuration might cause problems for the arms and wrists, which in this configuration are not optimally placed for input and can lead to problems of their own.

If you just cannot conceive of giving up your iPad, in addition to reducing the amount of time you spend using it, consider seeing your chiropractor on a regular basis. Chiropractic care has been shown to be more effective in treating neck pain than using pain medication. A chiropractic adjustment can realign neck vertebrae and take the pressure off compressed nerves, bringing relief in a gentle, natural manner and allowing you to use your tablet more comfortably.

How Chiropractors Assess and Treat Whiplash

Whiplash associated disorders (WAD) are common injuries of the neck caused by a rapid distortion of the cervical vertebrae. Such distortion occurs when the head undergoes a sudden stop while moving at speed, jarring the muscles and ligaments of the neck, which move forwards and backwards quickly. Whiplash is most typically associated with motor vehicle accidents but may also occur in sporting events (the often brutal stop tackles in football spring to mind) and falls from bicycles, chairs and horses. Interestingly, an understanding of the physics involved in the cervical acceleration / de-acceleration (CAD) events reveals that high speed impacts are not required to do significant damage, instead it is the sudden change in direction that has a snapping effect on these delicate structures. This sudden change in direction can be experienced by the occupant even under conditions where there is relatively light damage to the vehicle.

The adult human head weighs about 5kg, which, at rest, is comfortably supported by the bones and muscles of the neck. However, rapid movement backward and forward puts a much larger load on the cervical vertebrae and ligaments holding them in place. The anterior longitudinal ligament that runs down the back of the spine is particularly at risk of stretching or tearing during a rapid collision.

The signs and symptoms of whiplash associated disorders range from mild neck pain for a few days after the injury to headaches, arm pain and long-term restricted movement of the neck. Studies have shown that whiplash injuries can also constrict blood flow to the brain, leading to light-headedness, poor concentration and fatigue. Left untreated, injuries of whiplash origin can experience further deterioration leading to other long-term complications such as arthritis, degenerative disc disease, migraines, thyroid problems, and other, neurological compromised, related symptoms and conditions.

Since 1995, the Qu├ębec Task Force (QTF) scale has been widely used to assess the severity of WAD and how they should be treated. Their grading system is as follows:

Grade  Classification

0  - No complaint about the neck. No physical signs
I  - Neck complaint of pain, stiffness or tenderness only. No physical signs
II - Neck complaint and musculoskeletal signs. Musculoskeletal signs include decreased range of motion and point tenderness
III - Neck complaint and neurological signs. Neurological signs include decreased or absent deep tendon reflexes, weakness and sensory deficits
IV - Neck complaint and fracture or dislocation

In addition to grading the injury based on your symptoms, a chiropractor can assess the injury by performing a thorough examination, including palpating the affected area and observing your neck movement and any associated pain. Further tests likely to be performed may include x-rays, and in more severe cases MRI, or nerve conduction studies.

The recommended chiropractic treatment will depend on the severity of the injury, but common actions include treatment with heat and cold, chiropractic manipulation, therapeutic massage, and a specific program of exercises to gently regain the full range of neck movement. A bag of frozen peas held against the neck for short periods is a good stop-gap treatment for moderate neck pain if you have to wait for an appointment. Pain medication may be required in grade II injuries and above (usually NSAIDs to reduce inflammation but narcotic pain relief may be prescribed for grade III WAD) and collars may also be used to keep the neck in place for 72 hours after grade II and III injuries to give the muscles and ligaments time to recover.

Although it may seem counter-intuitive to the average person, chiropractic manipulation is the most powerful rehabilitative therapy that can be deployed to the typical whiplash injuries at the targeted levels of soft tissue anatomy. The adjustment utilized by your chiropractor will assist the healing process and assure that proper functional balance is restored as soon as possible, avoiding long-term complications.

Grade IV whiplash is a serious injury that will require a medical specialist for treatment. This will at minimum consist of several months of neck immobilization and possibly surgery. Most whiplash injuries are, much less serious than this and are more likely to be a cause of pain and discomfort than a true medical emergency. Though, as anyone who has suffered with WAD will tell you, the distress associated with ongoing neck pain and stiffness can have a substantial impact on daily life, and it is well worth getting checked over by a chiropractor if you experience any signs of whiplash in order to reduce your healing time and reduce the chance of future neck complaints.

Does Lifting Weights Really Help You Lose Weight?

If you have struggled to lose weight, despite trying any number of popular diets, you may be approaching the matter in the wrong way. Dieting rarely results in long-term weight loss, particularly if it requires any significant reduction in calorie intake.

The problem with a low-calorie diet is twofold: first, it causes your metabolism to go into conservation mode, slowing down in an attempt to save as many calories as possible against coming starvation; second, without sufficient calories, your body loses muscle, which is the body tissue that burns the most calories, even when at rest. The more muscle you lose, the slower your body burns calories.

Although aerobic exercise is always a healthy practice to incorporate into your daily routine, aerobic exercise alone will not produce the weight loss you are looking for. It can certainly burn calories, but like dieting, after a certain amount of aerobic activity your body will begin to conserve calories, and when you stop exercising the calorie burning stops as well, and your metabolism goes right back to where it was before you began.

Lifting weights, however, can increase muscle mass (and thus metabolism), resulting in long-term weight loss. As we age, the body normally begins to lose lean muscle and bone mass. By incorporating strength training into your workouts, you can keep this from happening. Weight lifting not only builds lean muscle, it also helps to maintain healthy bone density.

Your basal metabolic rate (BMR) is responsible for 50%-80% of your body’s daily expenditure of energy, and the more muscle you have, the greater your BMR. A study conducted by Boston University found that the type of muscle created during weight training stimulates the burning of fat in other tissues, such as the liver. The results of another study, performed by Tufts University, showed that subjects who performed strength training for 12 weeks gained three pounds of muscle, lost four pounds of fat, had a seven percent increase in their resting metabolism and showed a 15 percent increase in the level of their daily energy requirement.

Another study conducted by Fitness Management Magazine evaluated the effect of strength training on the body composition of 72 overweight male and female volunteers. The study subjects were put into one of two groups: 30 minutes of aerobic exercise only or 15 minutes of aerobic exercise combined with 15 minutes of weight training. The results were significant. The aerobic-only group lost an average of 3.5 pounds, a half-pound of which was loss of muscle. However, the combined aerobic and strength training group lost an average of 8 pounds, having lost 10 pounds of fat, while gaining two pounds of healthy lean muscle mass.

Simply put, the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn. For optimal results, aim to lift weights three times a week for 45-50 minutes each session. However, if you are pressed for time, even two sessions per week of 15-20 minutes can bring about positive changes.

For best result focus efforts on the largest muscles of the body, such as the muscles of the posterior chain. Also, select free-form exercises that deploy overall coordination and activate the core musculature, as opposed to machines. Seek a good, qualified instructor to help you get started. Dr. Becker is a certified fitness trainer and expert in one-such style, using kettlebells.

It may not seem you are losing much weight when you first begin your strength training program, as your body will first gain more lean muscle mass in relation to the fat you are losing, so the results will not necessarily be reflected in the numbers on your scale. Not to worry, you are gaining healthy muscle, soon to be followed by a greater loss of fat!