Monday, January 15, 2018

Understanding The Inflammatory Response

By Dr. John A. Papa, DC, FCCPOR(C)

The inflammatory response is a natural phenomenon that enables our bodies to fend off various disease-causing organisms, harmful toxins, and physical injury.  It is a protective and restorative process that helps keep us healthy - most of the time.  Unfortunately, when inflammation becomes excessive or uncontrolled, we begin to see chronic inflammation which can lead to poor physical health.  Learn more about how the inflammatory response can affect your health.

When you catch a cold, sprain your ankle, or are exposed to an environmental pollutant such as cigarette smoke, a chain of events are triggered in your body known as the “inflammatory cascade”.  The familiar signs of normal inflammation - local redness, swelling, heat, pain, and loss of function - are the first signals that your immune system is being called into action.  Pro-inflammatory hormones are released at the injury site, which stimulates the release of white blood cells, antibodies, and other chemical compounds that help initiate the healing and repair process.  Inflammation that starts and ends as intended signifies the proper and essential inflammatory response.

Chronic inflammation occurs when there is an inflammatory response of prolonged duration (weeks, months, indefinite).  It is accompanied by simultaneous attempts at healing and repair and inevitably causes tissue damage.  Over time, it may become more difficult for the body to heal and repair tissue in areas of chronic inflammation.

Symptoms of chronic inflammation can include persistent pain, fever, fatigue, weakness, and irritability.  Chronic inflammation has also been linked to undesirable health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, symptomatic osteoarthritis, and irritable bowel syndrome.  Listed below are some natural ways to manage and avoid chronic inflammation:

·     Use the right fuel:  Avoid foods that can be a source of chronic inflammation in the body such as refined sugars, trans fats, and allergens.  In contrast, omega-3 fats which are found in fish oils have an inflammation suppressing effect.  Anti-oxidants, found in most fruits and vegetables are natural compounds that help protect the body from harmful free radicals and inflammation.

·     Exercise works like medicine:  Endorphins released by the body during exercise can have anti-inflammatory properties.  Exercise also regulates insulin levels and body weight.  Being overweight increases inflammation in the body.  Fat cells are efficient factories for producing key inflammatory elements, and burning calories through exercise shrinks those cells.

·     Sleep and stress management:  Poor sleep quality increases body inflammation.  Regular restful sleep allows for important biological systems to recover and recharge.  Prolonged stress, whether it is emotional or physical, can be a source of chronic inflammation.  Finding an effective outlet for dealing with stress is important for managing this source of inflammation.

·     Be mindful of your habits and environment:  Avoiding exposure to pollution and toxic fumes such as cigarette smoke will help minimize inflammation in the body.

·    Treat muscle and joint injuries:  These injuries can be a major source of inflammation.  Many individuals experience the benefits of therapies such as acupuncture, massage therapy, and chiropractic care for these structural causes of pain and inflammation.

For additional information on natural inflammation management and improving your health, visit

This article is a basic summary for educational purposes only.  It is not intended, and should not be considered, as a replacement for consultation, diagnosis or treatment by a duly licensed health practitioner.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Motor Vehicle Accident (MVA) Rehabilitation

The New Hamburg Wellness Centre offers emergency access to care for individuals who have sustained injuries in a motor vehicle accident (MVA).  This access is prompt, usually within 24-48 hours during the business week, and in some cases sooner.

You do not have to see a medical doctor to start receiving treatment for a motor vehicle accident injury at our centre.   Our doctors are specially trained to assess your MVA-related injuries and prescribe the appropriate therapy.  We are capable of immediately initiating your claim and starting rehabilitation and treatment for your injuries.  Our centre is also a licensed service provider with the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO) and is able to bill your auto insurer directly for your treatments.

MVA injuries are not limited to just Whiplash injuries of the neck.  Any body part can be injured.  Our experience, examination protocol and treatment regime is specifically tailored to treating MVA-related injuries, including headaches, neck pain, mid back pain, low back pain, and soft tissue injuries.  Our unique, multi-faceted approach has successfully rehabilitated hundreds of individuals who have sustained MVA-related injuries.

Current scientific research demonstrates that those injured in a MVA recover most successfully if they remain active in their activities of daily living (ADLs).  Individuals may require treatment to help control pain, and instruction on specific exercises to help during their recovery.

Our centre has the ability to utilize a combination of the following treatment modalities to help you recover quickly and completely:

  • Rehabilitative Exercise and Physical Therapy
  • Registered Massage Therapy
  • Medical Acupuncture
  • Laser Therapy
  • Chiropractic Care
  • Active Release Therapy
  • Graston Soft Tissue Therapy
  • Electrotherapy


Q:  Do I need a referral from my insurance company or medical doctor to receive treatment for my MVA injuries?
A:  No.  Chiropractors are primary health care providers and are readily accessed.

Q:  If I undergo care, will my insurance rates increase?
A:  No.  Your rates will not increase as a result of an injury claim only.

Q:  How much will care cost?
A:  Under the present legislation there is no net out-of-pocket expense for care.

Q:  I was involved in an accident, and had little stiffness the next day, is it worthwhile to undergo care?
A:  In a number of instances there is a delayed onset of symptoms that can take weeks to show up after a seemingly innocent fender-bender.  A thorough examination by an experienced practitioner can help determine if any treatment is required.

If you have any questions that need to be addressed regarding injuries you have sustained in an MVA, please do not hesitate to contact our office.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

How To Make Exercise A Regular Habit

By Dr. John A. Papa, DC, FCCPOR(C)

Regular exercise has long been identified as an essential element of good health.  Despite this fact, many struggle to make exercise a regular habit.  Below are some helpful tips that can help individuals stick with an exercise program.

Make Exercise Convenient:  Incorporating regular exercise into a busy life necessitates some planning and sacrifice so it becomes a priority.  This may require scheduling exercise into everyday routines and/or making regular exercise as convenient as possible, thereby increasing the likelihood that it remains a priority.  Exercise does not need to be time consuming.  Regular bouts of exercise for as little as 30 minutes a day can have a positive impact on health.

Make Exercise Safe:  An exercise that may be considered safe for one individual may not be safe for another due to age, physical limitations, and other health concerns.  If you are not sure where to start, consult with a knowledgeable health care provider who can assist in choosing activities that are appropriate for you.  If you have been inactive for a period of time, gradually ease into activity and take it slow.

Make Exercise Fun:  Individuals should choose a range of exercise activities that they enjoy.  Performing these activities with a workout buddy, friend, or family member also results in the exercise being more satisfying.  Those individuals who choose fitness and recreational activities they enjoy are more likely to be consistent with those activities.  Having another individual to share this with also increases the likelihood that you will continue with the exercise activity.

Make Exercise Feel Good:  Not only does exercise make you physically stronger; it also has the benefits of releasing excess tension, building self-esteem, and stimulating the body’s natural “feel good” chemicals called endorphins.  Although there may be some initial physical discomfort when beginning a new exercise program, this may be your body’s normal response when starting a new activity and should not last more than one to two weeks.  If discomfort or pain persists beyond this point, seek advice from an experienced individual to make sure the exercise you are performing is appropriate and being done correctly.

Make Exercise Practical:  Individuals beginning an exercise program need to have realistic expectations about the amount of time they can invest, the activities they will enjoy engaging in, and the physical and psychological benefits they expect to experience.

Regular exercise leads to tremendous health benefits that can be initiated by individuals of any age or shape.  For more information on health, wellness, and exercise, visit

This article is a basic summary for educational purposes only.  It is not intended, and should not be considered, as a replacement for consultation, diagnosis or treatment by a duly licensed health practitioner.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Protecting Your Back During The Winter Season

By Dr. John A. Papa, DC, FCCPOR(C)
The winter season is upon us and extra precaution must be taken as snow removal and icy walking surfaces can contribute to an increased risk of back injuries.  Included below are some useful tips that can be followed to help keep your back healthy and injury free this winter season.
1.    Warm up:  Prepare your body for physical activity by stimulating the joints and muscles, and increasing blood circulation.  Climbing stairs, marching on the spot, or going for a quick walk around the block can serve as excellent warm-up activities in five to ten minutes.  Follow this with some gentle stretches and exercises for the back.
2.    Push, don’t lift:  Push the snow to one side and avoid lifting.  If you must lift, keep the shovel close to your body and avoid twisting and turning by positioning yourself to lift and throw straight at the snow pile.  Be sure to lift slowly and smoothly and do not jerk with your lifts.
3.    Hinge the hips, bend the knees, keep the back straight and brace:  Use your hips, knees, legs and arm muscles to do the pushing and lifting while keeping your back straight.  Maintaining the natural and neutral curves of your back is important, as this is its strongest and most secure position.  Contracting and bracing your abdominal muscles during lifting improves spinal stability and decreases the chance of injury.
4.    Use the right shovel:  Use a lightweight, non-stick, push-style shovel.  Separate your hands as much as possible on the shovel handle for better leverage against the weight of the snow.
5.    Dress for the job:  Wear warm clothing to protect yourself against the elements.  Shoes and boots with solid treads and soles can help minimize the risk of awkward twisting, slips and falls.
6.    Don’t let the snow pile up:  Removing small amounts of snow on a frequent basis is less strenuous in the long run.
7.    Watch the ice:  Caution should be exercised around icy walkways and slippery surfaces.  Intermittent thaws and subsequent freezing can give way to ice build-up under foot increasing the risk of back twisting, slips and falls.  Coarse sand or ice salt can help give your walkways and driveways more traction.
8.    Take a break:  Know your physical limits.  If you feel tired or short of breath, stop and take a rest.  Make a habit to rest for a moment every 10 or 15 minutes during shoveling.  This is especially important if the snow is wet and heavy.  Stop shoveling immediately if you feel chest or back pain.
In the event that you suffer a back injury that does not subside, you should contact a licensed health professional who deals in the diagnosis and treatment of back pain.  For more information, visit
This article is a basic summary for educational purposes only.  It is not intended, and should not be considered, as a replacement for consultation, diagnosis or treatment by a duly licensed health practitioner.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Happy Holidays!

Canadian Chiropractic Association

It’s the time of year for family and friends, food and good cheer. However, for a lot of people, the season can be hectic, stressful and exhausting. Your to-do list may be long, and you may feel anxious about completing it in time. But, are you taking care of yourself while you hurtle around preparing for the Season? Canada’s chiropractors want you to have a joyful holiday, so we’ve put together a few tips that we hope will help keep you healthy and happy throughout this busy season.

Lift Right

The holidays usually involve lifting and lugging scads of groceries and parcels. If possible, ask a friend or family member to help you carry on your merry cheer! If no one is available, consider making several trips and carrying smaller loads to prevent the risk of injury. Also, visit our Lift Right page for tips on how to prevent injury while lifting.

Take a Break

Do you enjoy entertaining during the holidays? Carolers at the door, a house full of people, children running around? That can involve a lot of cooking and cleaning, decorating and preparations. Make sure to take frequent breaks and keep hydrated. Set a timer every hour or so, have a glass of water and sit for a few minutes. For tips on getting a good night’s sleep, browse through our Good Night’s Sleep page.

Ask for Help

Being present and enjoying the company of your friends and family is what is of utmost importance. Even during the holidays, no one expects you to be a super-human. Excessive expectations and stress can heighten your risk for injury and illness. Instead, ask your friends and family for help and everyone will be merrier for it! You can also read about some useful Energy Boosters here.

Stay Active

The holidays are a time when we are surrounded by temptations. One key strategy to manage and cope is to keep moving and stay active! Winter offers a multitude of fun family activities including skating in the park or a brisk trek around the block. Activity will keep you energized during the day and help you sleep at night. Before you hit the ice or go tobogganing, make sure you warm up first! Here are some great stretches for hockey and running.

Drink Responsibly

Trips, slips and falls account for many injuries in the winter months. However, drinking can also add to the risk of falls. Moderation is the key! Here are some good strategies from the Canadian Centre for Substance Abuse.
  • Set limits for yourself and stick to them.
  • Drink slowly.
  • Have no more than 2 drinks in any 3 hours.
  • For every drink of alcohol, have one non-alcoholic drink.
  • Eat before and while you are drinking.
  • Always consider your age, body weight and health problems that might suggest lower limits.



Here’s to safe, healthy and happy holidays for all Canadians!

Monday, December 18, 2017

I've Got This Feeling, Inside My Hands?

By Dr. R. Greg Lusk, DC

My recent DIY project of replacing the flooring on the main level of my house has made me keenly aware of the nerves that run down our arms. I'm well underway, nearly done in fact, but at some point after the demolition part of the project I began waking up in the morning with partial hand numbness. Looking down while pulling out thousands of staples that secured the quarter inch plywood sub-floor, beneath the vinyl I removed, may have had something to do with it. The numbness would go away easily at first with a change of position but then it became more persistent. Recently, it was accompanied by a burning sensation and a deep ache that drove me out of bed at 5 AM. That was the final straw that made me consult with a colleague for some treatment.
I've experienced these sort of symptoms previously, often preceded by increased, repetitive physical work. Some of you may be able to relate. Now, if they don't go away with some rest, treatment may be considered and paying attention to your symptoms can help your therapist identify the area(s) of your body that need treatment. For instance, location of symptoms is quite informative as three separate nerves provide sensation to your hand. Also, are symptoms felt above the wrist, elbow, or shoulder, or is there even neck discomfort? All nerves down the arms ultimately stem off the spinal cord at the level of the lower neck and upper back so that area could be the ultimate source of symptoms. Alternatively, a nerve can become irritated, or entrapped we call it, by soft tissues (i.e. muscles, fascia, ligaments, tendons) somewhere along its path as it makes its way down the arm. What's important to realize is that where you feel symptoms in the arm or hand may not be where your problems lie. Let's look at sensation of the hand to illustrate this.

As mentioned, three nerves supply the skin of the hand with feeling - the median, ulnar, and radial nerves. Looking at your hand with the palm up, the median nerve covers the palm side of your thumb, index, middle, and the half of your ring finger that is closest to your middle finger. This is the nerve that passes through the carpal tunnel so carpal tunnel syndrome involves pain or altered sensation in this area. However, this nerve also runs down the front of your arm and forearm and may become irritated by other soft tissues there (e.g. the biceps muscle/tendon). The ulnar nerve supplies the other half of the ring finger and the pinky, on both the palm side and back of the hand. It does not go through the carpal tunnel but runs down the inside of the forearm from the elbow, where it can commonly get compressed if you lean on your "funny bone". The last nerve is the radial, which runs down the back of the arm and forearm, providing back of the hand sensation to most of the thumb, index, middle, and the half of the ring finger closest to the middle finger. Clearly, these nerves all have different paths to the hand and different tissues to examine for possible involvement. This is in addition to their ultimate origin, the neck, as well as muscles around the neck (e.g. scalenes) and the chest (i.e. pec muscles) which they pass through or under en route to the hand.

So, if you have symptoms in your arm or hand that are not resolving on their own, pay attention to some of these specifics. The details will aid your therapist in providing an accurate diagnosis, intervention, and hopefully timely relief of your symptoms. This article is for general information purposes only and is not to be taken as professional medical advice.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Holiday Gift Certificates

Give the gift of Health & Wellness this holiday season.
Purchase a gift certificate from the New Hamburg Wellness Centre.
Perfect for everyone on your Christmas list!