Recent Posts

Worrying Damages DNA and Speeds Aging

There's the old lyrics, "Don't Worry, Be Happy."

Well, new research shows that worry actually speeds aging by degrading and modifying DNA.

Harvard researchers looked at 5,243 women and found that those with high phobic anxiety were more likely to have shorter telomeres.

The women with high anxiety had DNA damage similar to being six years older than their actual age!

"Many people wonder about whether—and how—stress can make us age faster," said Olivia Okereke, MD, MS, BWH Department of Psychiatry, study author. "So, this study is notable for showing a connection between a common form of psychological stress—phobic anxiety—and a plausible mechanism for premature aging. However, this type of study design cannot prove cause-and-effect or which problem came first—the anxiety or shorter telomeres."

Reference:

High Phobic Anxiety Is Related to Lower Leukocyte Telomere Length in Women

 

Tips to Avoid Text Neck

​In this age of mobile devices and smartphones, more and more patients are being diagnosed with neck pain associated with looking down at a screen. Studies have shown that young people are at increased risk of back and neck pain due to overuse of devices. Now, a new condition, dubbed "text neck," is being found in smartphone-users of all ages, resulting in serious stiffness, strain, and pain in the neck muscles and cervical spine.

Americans send an average of around 2.19 trillion text messages every year, meaning that text neck has the potential of afflicting millions of people.

The condition is relatively new, and as Forbes reports in their article, How Texting Can Give You a Permanent Pain in the Neck, "It takes time...for a new condition to spread throughout the medical community. Some doctors who have never heard of text neck don't think to ask patients with neck pain about their phone or computer habits."

However, investigators of worker's compensation claims are at the point that they look into the phone records of claimants with neck pain, and sometimes use their history of text messaging to get their compensation cases dismissed, attributing the neck pain to personal screen time rather than work.

There is no denying that a great number of people consider smartphones to be indispensable. And this overuse is causing what could be an epidemic of health problems into the future. A study published in the journal Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback found that an overwhelming majority of 83% of participants reported some hand and neck pain during texting. Researchers in this study also found that people sending texts displayed other classic signs of tension, such as increased heart rates and holding their breath. Even when they said they were relaxed, they had signs of tension.

If you text or play games on your smartphone, you know that it is easy to get into the habit of holding your head forward-and-down while typing on it. Another study conducted at the Center for Musculoskeletal Research found that 90% of people flexed their necks while texting, defined as bending the neck forward over 10 degrees past neutral alignment. In this study, it was discovered that the more texting that participants did, the worse their risk of neck or shoulder pain.

Especially susceptible to text neck are those of us who not only spend some of our leisure time on smartphones, but also spend much of our working time sitting at computers. All these hours spent in a flexed posture can add up to 30 pounds of extra weight on the upper vertebrae, straining the trapezius muscles and pulling the spine out of alignment over time.

Researchers are also finding that people over age 50 are more at risk of developing text neck. According to physical therapist Rob Worth, in an interview with Forbes, "People in their 50s and 60s have less tissue tolerance. Overuse injuries (like text neck) don't heal as quickly."

However, Worth said that young people are also at risk of permanent problems from text neck. He suggested that the stooped posture while typing on phones may freeze the position of the spine's alignment, and years down the road, we may see people who are permanently stooped because of it.

If you suspect you have text neck, talk to your health-care provider. Your chiropractor or physical therapist can help you determine if you're suffering from this ailment. These experts can also help design a treatment plan to relieve pain and regain range of motion, as well as advise you about preventing future injury. The following tips, summarized from the Forbes article, may help you avoid the risks of text neck:

  1. Hold your phone at a proper reading angle, rather than looking down. Your phone should be held directly in front of your mouth, a few inches across from your chin. Your eyes should look down rather than having to bend your neck down. Your shoulders should feel relaxed while you're typing.
  2. Use a text-dictation program if you have one. Hold the phone in front of your mouth.
  3. Set a timer and take breaks. Avoid prolonged phone use by taking regular breaks where you put your phone down and do something else.
  4. Build strength and range of motion. In your workout routine, include exercises and stretches that strengthen your neck, back extensors, rhomboids, and latissimus dorsi muscles. For some ideas, check out this blog post from researcher Dr. Erik Peper.
  5. Drink water and maintain hydration.
  6. Use other forms of communication. Try calling your family and friends or seeing them in person to chat.

References

Quilter D. How texting can give you a permanent pain in the neck. Forbes June 7, 2013. www.forbes.com.

Lin IM, Peper E. Psychophysicological patterns during cell phone text messaging: a preliminary study. Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback March 2009; 34(1): 53-57.

Gold JE, Griban JB, et al. Postures, typing strategies, and gender differences in mobile device usage: an observational study. Applied Ergonomics March 2012; 43(2): 408-412.

Peper E. Improve health with fun movements: practices you can do at home and at work. The Peper Perspective blog; February 2, 2013.

 

Yoga Alleviates Knee Pain

Study of Yoga and Total Knee Replacements

A recent study set out to determine whether yoga therapy can help alleviate pain in patients undergoing total knee-replacement surgery.

The study involved 51 patients undergoing total knee replacement (TKR) because of osteoarthritis. On the third day after surgery, baseline scores for pain and stiffness were taken. Half of the patients received conventional physiotherapy. The other half also received once-daily yoga asana treatment. Upon being discharged from the hospital, these patients were provided with photographs of the asanas and written instructions, and instructed to perform the movements 3 days per week.1

What Is an Asana?

Yoga asanas are functional postures involving slow stretching and movements of muscles and joints, and encourage different muscle groups to achieve stability and equilibrium. The purpose of the study was to determine whether yoga asanas have an added advantage for treating patients who have undergone total knee replacement.

Research Results

Patients were evaluated at 6 weeks and 3 months after surgery to measure their perception of pain, stiffness, and function. The researchers found lower pain and stiffness reported by the group receiving yoga therapy than for patients receiving conventional therapy alone. They concluded that patients practicing yoga had better pain relief, reduced stiffness, and better function, suggesting that yoga asanas may be a valuable addition to conventional post-surgery treatments.

Other Ways to Reduce Knee Pain

Previous studies have recommended additional non-surgical approaches to reducing knee pain, particularly that resulting from osteoarthritis. Chiropractic adjustments have been shown to benefit patients with knee pain, who reported substantial drops in pain intensity and improvements in mobility, along with fewer clicking or grinding sensations within the knee.2 Weight loss has also been shown to alleviate chronic knee pain in obese patients.3 Consult with your doctor about relieving knee pain naturally.

References

  1. Bedekar N, Prabhu A, et al. Comparative study of conventional therapy and additional yogasanas for knee rehabilitation after total knee arthroplasty. International Journal of Yoga 2012; 5(2): 118-122.
  2. Pollard H, Ward G, Hoskins W, and Hardy K. The effect of a manual therapy knee protocol on osteoarthritic knee pain: a randomised controlled trial. The Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association 2008; 52(4):229-42.
  3. Richette P, Poitou C, Garnero P, Vicaut E, Bouillot JL, Lacorte JM, Basdevant A, Clement K, Bardin T, Chevalier X. Benefits of massive weight loss on symptoms, systemic inflammation and cartilage turnover in obese patients with knee osteoarthritis. Annals of the Rheumatic Disease 2011;70(1):139-44.
 

Chiropractic Improves Quality of Life for Older Patients

Aging can cause a number of aches, pains, and other health issues. For many older adults, the care delivered by chiropractors can be a critical strategy for preventing or managing pain. This includes not only spinal manipulations, but also therapeutic exercise, acupuncture, fall-prevention counseling, and nutritional advice.

According to a recent report, the services provided by chiropractic doctors can improve the overall health and quality of life of older patient. Chiropractors often utilize multiple treatment types in order to address the patient as a whole, rather than just the musculoskeletal symptoms. The report finds that when working with older patients, chiropractors must first evaluate any risks posed by the patient's age or health in order to choose the most effective strategy for the patient. It is also important for the chiropractor to discuss the patient's current symptoms along with preventive strategies in order to adequately meet the needs of the older patient.

A 2009 study found chiropractic care to be a safe, effective treatment for many conditions associated with aging, such as back, neck, and joint pain; dizziness; and pain caused by osteoarthritis, spinal degeneration, or scoliosis. And of course, regardless of the patient's age, chiropractic care offers more than just pain treatment.

Reference

Dougherty P, et al. The role of chiropractic care in older adults. Chiropractic & Manual Therapies 2012; 20(3): doi:10.1186/2045-709X-20-3.

 

Vitamin D Reduces Risk of Fractures

How Vitamin D Can Help

Vitamin D supplements could prevent brittle bones but many older adults lack sufficient levels of the vitamin. In a recent survey of older adults who sustained fractures, 64% had deficient vitamin D levels and 90% had insufficient calcium levels.

Reducing Fractures

Vitamin D Reduces Risk of FracturesHigh doses of vitamin D could be an important preventative measures for older adults, a new study suggests. In the study, high doses of vitamin D reduced the risk of hip fractures in older adults by 30% and lowered the risk non-vertebral fractures by 14%. The meta-analysis differed from previous studies because researchers examined the actual amount of vitamin D participants consumed rather than the amount they were assigned to take. Of the 31,022 adults surveyed, those who took at least 800 IU of vitamin D had the largest reduction in fractures.

Taking vitamin D supplements could improve bone and spinal health, regardless of age. Consult with a doctor to determine whether vitamin D supplementation make sense for you.

Reference

Bischoff-Ferrari H, et al. A pooled analysis of vitamin D dose requirements for fracture prevention. N Engl J of Med 2012; 367:40-49.

Photo by Bradley J via Creative Commons.

 

Avoiding Sciatica Surgery with Chiropractic Care

The pain of sciatica often drives patients to opt for surgery. But new research suggests that chiropractic treatment can be just as effective as surgery in some cases of sciatica. Spinal decompression surgery, also known as microdiscectomy, has proven to be effective for many people with sciatica. However, scientists questioned whether surgery was a necessary step in all cases.

That’s why researchers recently conducted a study to determine whether chiropractic was just as successful as surgery in treating sciatica. The study included 40 patients with sciatica who had a history of trying other treatment methods like painkillers, lifestyle changes, massage, and acupuncture but were still experiencing pain. Half of the patients were randomly assigned surgery and the other half was treated with chiropractic adjustments. 85% of participants in the surgery group saw significant improvements while 60% of participants in the chiropractic group clearly improved. Those in the chiropractic group who later decided to have surgery experienced the same rates of improvements as the initial surgery group.

Although chiropractic may not solve every sciatica case, it did prove effective for over half of the patients treated with chiropractic in this study. This led researchers to conclude that patients should seek chiropractic adjustments before opting for surgery. Avoid the potential risks of surgery by seeking chiropractic care for your sciatica.

McMorland G, Suter E, Casha S, du Plessis SJ, Hurlbert RJ. Manipulation or microdiskectomy for sciatica? A prospective randomized clinical study. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics. 2010; 33(8): 576-584.

 

Exercise May Be the Best Medicine for an Achy Back

Many patients with chronic back pain wonder how to keep the pain from becoming worse or returning. Research suggests that exercise may be the best way to prevent back pain.

The recent literature review involved an analysis of 20 studies testing various methods of preventing back pain such as exercise, stress management, ergonomic education, training in ergonomic lifting methods, lumbar-support back belts, shoe inserts, and programs to reduce lifting frequency at work. The authors of the review analyzed and compared the outcomes of each treatment.

Of the treatments analyzed, only exercise was shown to consistently produce substantial relief of back pain. Most of the exercise studies focused on methods of strengthening the abdominal and back muscles. Of the studies involving exercise intervention, 7 of 8 scientific studies concluded that exercise resulted in a statistically significant improvement in back pain. In one study, patients who exercised had 127 fewer sick days than those who were inactive.

Exercise is crucial component of chiropractic treatment. A doctor of chiropractic can show you how to perform safe exercises for reducing back pain.

Reference:

Bigos S, Holland J, Holland C, Webster J, Battie, Malmgren J. High-quality controlled trials on preventing episodes of back problems: systematic literature review in working-age adults. The Spine Journal 2009; 9: 147-168.

 

Which Vitamins Should You Take?

Growing Confusion About Vitamins

More than half of Americans report taking dietary supplements or multivitamins. Several recent studies have raised new questions about vitamins, and new information has added to the confusion surrounding which vitamins are best to take. Some recent news headlines have claimed that vitamin D helps fight tuberculosis, calcium may not improve outcomes for pregnant women, and vitamin E does not prevent cancer, but may slightly elevate the risk of prostate cancer. This confusing information has led many people to question which nutritional supplements they should start, continue, or stop using.

The varying information resulting from recent research serves to remind us that vitamins are complex. Many supplements can be beneficial, but others need more research to understand their full impact. However, there are some guidelines that can help you decide which supplements you should be taking.

Guidelines For Selecting Vitamins

Not all supplements are of equal quality. There are low-grade, low-priced supplements that are not as soluble, making it more difficult for the body to absorb the nutrients. If you're taking vitamins, make sure they are high quality so that you can reap the full benefits they offer.

Eat Healthy Foods

​Among doctors, there is a consensus that eating healthy food is the best way to receive vitamins. However, many people eat a diet of primarily processed foods, which often lack the same nutritional benefits. Taking a vitamin may seem like an easy solution, but in fact the ways that nutrients interact within food can't always be replicated in pill form. While taking dietary supplements is a good way to enhance an already healthy diet or make up for a specific vitamin deficiency, it should not be seen as an alternative to eating healthy foods packed with vitamins and minerals.

Everyone Is Different

Every person's vitamin needs are unique. What supplements are right for you depend on many factors, including age, diet, sex, and current nutritional deficiencies. Your doctor can help you determine which supplements you should consider taking. Many chiropractors are also trained nutritionists who can advise you in selecting the right vitamins for your needs.

 

Quicker Sciatica Recovery with Chiropractic Care

In our Moon Township office, it isn't uncommon for us to see people struggling with sciatic nerve pain, and Dr. Spiropoulos has helped many of these people heal with chiropractic. What makes chiropractic so helpful to those who suffer with sciatica? For starters, it shortens their time of recovery and a Norwegian medical study confirms it.

In the report, which took place in a Norwegian hospital's orthopedic division, researchers looked at 44 patients who had sudden low back pain that was diagnosed as acute sciatic nerve pain. The participants were all treated by a chiropractor, with the mean follow-up being two years after treatment.

The researchers found that all but two patients returned to their jobs after receiving chiropractic adjustments, which is a 95% success rate. Moreover, the average length of time that the individuals spent off work "was reduced by two thirds as compared with that associated with conventional medical treatment."

Considering that the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 170,450 days of work were missed in 2013 due to employees dealing with back or spine-related issues, that is nearly 112,500 work days that could potentially be recovered each and every year solely by receiving chiropractic care. Not only would that increase productivity, but it might also reduce costs to businesses and employees from lost work.

If you live in Moon Township and you suffer from sciatica, Dr. Spiropoulos is here to help. Give us a call at (724) 513-0521 and we'll work with you to find the root cause of your sciatica and get you back on the road to recovery.

Orlin JR, Didriksen A. Results of chiropractic treatment of lumbopelvic fixation in 44 patients admitted to an orthopedic department. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics 2007;30(2):135-139.

 

AMA Recommends Chiropractic Before Resorting to Surgery

In an article written to educate the public about back pain, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) has suggested that patients seek chiropractic and other conservative back-pain treatment before taking more invasive measures.

The article says that surgery is not usually needed for treating back pain and should only be considered when other conservative methods fail.

This recommendation reinforces what the American Chiropractic Association (ACA) teaches patients, as well. Chiropractic should be the first line of defense against musculoskeletal pain.

The article has been published online on the JAMA patient page titled "Low Back Pain," and discusses the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment options, and prevention of low-back pain. The doctors who wrote the article go on to explain that the back is comprised of bones, nerves, muscles, and soft tissues like ligaments and tendons. Back pain can be a result of problems with any of these structures.

Because chiropractors are neuro-musculoskeletal experts, they are well equipped to manage and prevent low-back pain.

In an interview about the JAMA article, ACA President Keith Overland, DC, said that he and his colleagues at ACA were encouraged to see chiropractic suggested for back-pain treatment. He confirmed that in many cases, back pain can be alleviated without the use of drugs or surgery, "so it makes sense to exhaust conservative options first."

And chiropractic makes sense for reducing health-care costs as well. Dr. Overland went on to say, "Research confirms that the services provided by chiropractic physicians are not only clinically effective but also cost-effective, so taking a more conservative approach at the onset of low back pain can also potentially save both patients and the health care system money down the line."

If you have low-back pain, follow the advice of these reputable medical communities. See a chiropractor first.

References

American Chiropractic Association. JAMA suggests chiropractic for low back pain. Businesswire May 8, 2013. businesswire.com.

Goodman D, Burke A, Livingston E. Low back pain. JAMA Patient Page April 24, 2013; 309(16): 1738. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.3046.