Thursday, December 27, 2012

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 ups 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.    Bend the knees, keep the back straight and brace:  Use your 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, ice salt, ice melter, or even kitty litter 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.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

~ Special Advertising Feature of the New Hamburg Independent ~ December 12, 2012

Change is good. It leads to improvement, growth and continued success.

Since moving to their new location in the Waterloo Street Plaza in January 2012, the New Hamburg Wellness Centre has experienced all three and now offers even more comprehensive care to their patients. Their change can lead to a good change for you.

“We have many different treatment options available to address issues people come in with,” says Clinic Director,  Founder and Chiropractor, Dr. John Papa. “This may include the use of specialty soft tissue treatments, electrotherapeutic modalities, Medical Acupuncture, custom orthotics, rehabilitative exercise prescription, and traditional chiropractic techniques.”

The New Hamburg Wellness Centre specializes in the treatment of muscle and joint conditions. This includes, but is not limited to, neck pain, back pain, osteoarthritis, upper and lower extremity complaints, along with sports, work and motor vehicle injuries.

Dr. Papa indicates, “We have earned the trust of physicians and are preferred providers with Worker's Compensation and various insurance companies for motor vehicle accident-related injuries. Through a multi-disciplinary approach, patients have access to various practitioners at the centre to address their particular injury or area of concern. ”

Dr. Sean Delanghe joined Dr. Papa in September 2011, as a full-time Chiropractor and shares his philosophy of helping people become pain-free and return to activity as soon as possible. As an avid runner and duathlete, Dr. Delanghe has expertise in training, and injury prevention and resolution.

The Wellness Centre also has three Registered Massage Therapists and one Naturopath. As well, Dr. Papa performs Medical Acupuncture, prescribes custom orthotics and is a Registered Chiropractic Rehabilitation Specialist.

Since moving, patient growth has been exponential and Dr. Papa genuinely enjoys the diverse demographic and the challenges it presents. He can go from treating a 5-year-old in one room, to a 94-year-old in the next, and sciatica in an 80-year-old is quite different than in a 28-year-old.

“We have parents that come in with their children who have had good experiences themselves and are being proactive. We often work on postural issues and gentle soft tissue mobilization in kids,” Dr. Papa says. “We also have older patients who rely on our unique training and expertise for pain relief and assistance with improving their independence and functioning with activities of daily living.”

Dr. Papa and his team of experts look at each patient within the context of their complaints, what they observe, and the quantifiable outcomes they can obtain in the pursuit of healthful living. If, however, a plateau in treatment is reached, Dr. Papa will not hesitate to refer a patient back to a physician or other specialist.

“You have to know when to, and when not to,” Dr. Papa says compassionately.

Whether you are looking to prevent injury or are in pain and need relief, please visit the New Hamburg Wellness Centre at 338 Waterloo St. Unit 9, New Hamburg in the new Waterloo Street Plaza. They can also be reached at (519) 662-4441 or

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Warning: Too Little Sleep May Fuel Insulin Resistance

Story at-a-glance

  • New research has shed some light onto why sleep deprivation may be so damaging to your health, as it may seriously impair the way your body responds to the hormone insulin.
  • After four nights of sleep deprivation (sleep time was only 4.5 hours per night), study participants’ insulin sensitivity was 16 percent lower, while their fat cells’ insulin sensitivity was 30 percent lower, and rivaled levels seen in those with diabetes or obesity.
  • Impaired insulin sensitivity, also known as insulin resistance, occurs when your body cannot use insulin properly, causing your blood sugar levels to rise to unhealthy levels. Insulin resistance is a precursor to type 2 diabetes as well as a risk factor in many other chronic diseases.
  • Sleep deprivation puts your body in a pre-diabetic state, which can lead to increased weight and decreased health.
Even the tiniest emission of light in the room, including those given off by electronic devices, can disrupt your pineal gland's production of melatonin and serotonin, thereby disrupting your sleep cycle.

So close your bedroom door, install black-out drapes, use a sleep mask, get rid of night-lights, and refrain from turning on any light during the night, even when getting up to go to the bathroom. If you have to use a light you can use a red flashlight, as that wavelength of light has a minimal impact on melatonin production.
Exercising for at least 30 minutes per day can improve your sleep. However, don't exercise too close to bedtime (generally not within the three hours before) or it may keep you awake.
Although alcohol will make you drowsy, the effect is short-lived and you will often wake up several hours later, unable to fall back asleep. Alcohol will also keep you from entering the deeper stages of sleep, where your body does most of its healing.
Many people keep their homes and particularly their upstairs bedrooms too warm. Studies show that the optimal room temperature for sleep is quite cool, between 60 to 68 degrees F. Keeping your room cooler or hotter can lead to restless sleep. When you sleep, your body's internal temperature drops to its lowest level, generally about four hours after you fall asleep.
Scientists believe a cooler bedroom may therefore be most conducive to sleep, since it mimics your body's natural temperature drop.
Caffeine has a half-life of five hours, which means 25% of it will still be in your system even 10 hours later, and 12.5% 20 hours later (see the problem?). Plus, in some people caffeine is not metabolized efficiently, leaving you feeling its effects even longer after consumption. So, an afternoon cup of coffee or tea will keep some people from falling asleep at night. Be aware that some medications contain caffeine as well (for example, diet pills).
The more you watch the clock when you wake up in the middle of the night, the more stressed and anxious you will become, and the more you may actually “train” yourself to start awakening at the same time each night. The solution is simple: Remove the clock from your view so you actually have to sit up or change positions to see the clock.
The artificial glow from your TV can serve as a constant stimulus for keeping you awake and, possibly, eating, when you should really be asleep. Further, computer and TV screens (and most light bulbs) emit blue light, to which your eyes are particularly sensitive simply because it's the type of light most common outdoors during daytime hours. As a result, it can disrupt your melatonin production and further interfere with your sleep.
If stress keeps you up at night, try keeping a “worry journal” next to your bedside so you can jot down your thoughts there and clear them from your head. The Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) can also help balance your body's bioenergy system and resolve some of the emotional stresses that are contributing to your insomnia at a very deep level. The results are typically long lasting and improvement is remarkably rapid.
Although you might struggle with this initially, it is ideal to avoid eating any foods three hours before bed, as this will optimize your blood sugar, insulin and leptin levels and contribute to overall good health.

The nicotine in cigarettes is a stimulant, which can keep you awake much as though you just drank a cup of coffee.

Dr. Mercola
Warning: Too Little Sleep May Fuel Insulin Resistance

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Tips For Managing Stress
By Dr. John A. Papa, DC, FCCPOR(C)

We are all bombarded with stressful events and situations everyday.  Unfortunately, many of us are not so good at dealing with stress, and whether we realize it or not, stress can be impacting our health in a negative way.

Researchers estimate that stress contributes to as many as 80% of all major illnesses, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, skin disorders, metabolic disease, and infectious ailments of all kinds.  Symptoms of stress may include but are not limited to: fatigue, dizziness, chronic headaches, irritability, depression, low self-esteem, changes in appetite, weight gain, digestive problems, breathing difficulties, chronic pain, insomnia, muscular weakness or tightness, and recurrent colds or infections.

Being able to effectively manage stress can have a significantly positive impact on overall health.  Below are some useful tips that can help individuals manage their stress levels.

1.    Identify a common or persistent stressor.  Once this is done, one must then move to confront and resolve this stressor whenever possible.  This is not always easy but is much more productive than letting ongoing stress affect your health indefinitely.  There are certain stresses and situations that we simply cannot do anything about, so don’t fret about things beyond your control.

2.    Exercise is one of the most powerful tools in helping one deal with stress.  Not only does it make you physically stronger, it also has the benefits of releasing excess tension, building self-esteem, boosting immune function, and stimulating the body’s natural pain killing chemicals called endorphins.

3.    Fuel your body with a nutritionally balanced diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables, and low in trans-fat.  This will serve to tone down your body’s negative response to stress.  Significant and positive changes can also be made to your eating habits by cutting down serving sizes, eliminating unhealthy snacking, and minimizing foods that can be detrimental to your health.

4.    Eliminate bad habits.  Engaging in bad habits such as excessive alcoholic consumption, drug use, and smoking, only serve to amplify stress symptoms, regardless of how comforting some individuals might find these behaviors in times of stress.

5.    Getting enough sleep is crucial in letting your body recharge, refresh, and recuperate.  The average adult requires six to eight hours of restful sleep each night.  As little as three days of sleep deprivation has been shown to significantly compromise productivity, create problems in relationships, and contribute to numerous health problems.  Restful sleep keeps your body strong and is essential for helping cope with stressful situations.

6.    Find a good network of friends you can trust and rely on.  Talking to others in times of stress can be very comforting and therapeutic.

For additional information on diet, exercise, managing stress, and improving your health, visit  From all of us at the New Hamburg Wellness Centre, Season’s Greetings!

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, November 28, 2012

A Massage Gift Certificate Makes A Caring Gift.

Available in any denomination and good toward therapeutic massage sessions with any of our highly trained massage therapists.  If you are looking for a gift idea that demonstrates how much you care, consider a massage gift certificate from the New Hamburg Wellness Centre!
For more information on our centre, visit

Friday, November 9, 2012

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

The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in the human body.  It is made up of five separate nerve roots originating from the low back region on each side, and runs from your pelvis through your buttock and hip area and down the back of each leg.  It controls many of the muscles in your legs and provides feeling to your thighs, lower legs and feet.

"Sciatica" is a common term used to describe any type of pain/symptom that radiates into the leg.  "True sciatica" occurs when there is a mechanical and/or inflammatory irritation directly affecting any component of the sciatic nerve.  This differs from “referred” pain/symptoms which can arise from a bone, joint or muscle that can send pain/symptoms into the leg.

True sciatic symptoms may be felt almost anywhere along the nerve pathway.  These symptoms can radiate from the low back region, into the hip or buttock, and down the leg, into the calf, and even the toes.  The symptoms can vary widely and may include:  a cramping or achy feeling, tightness, burning or a sharp electric shock sensation, numbness, tingling, and leg muscle weakness.  The symptoms may start gradually and intensify over time.  Activities such as bending forward or to the side, walking, prolonged sitting or standing, and even coughing or sneezing may aggravate sciatica.

Below is a brief summary of three common causes of true sciatica:

1.    Spinal disc herniation/bulge – Spinal discs separate and cushion lumbar vertebra.  Repetitive and cumulative loads or a single heavy load has the potential to cause a disc bulge or herniation, thereby causing a mechanical and/or inflammatory irritation of the nerve root(s).  This most commonly occurs in adults aged 20-50.

2.    Degeneration and Osteoarthritis – The normal aging process causes lumbar disc degeneration, osteoarthritis of lumbar joints, and occasionally vertebral slippage.  The consequence of these processes is that mechanical irritation from bony spurs and vertebrae along with inflammation can cause symptoms of sciatica.  This most commonly occurs in adults over 50.

3.    Lumbar spinal stenosis – This condition causes sciatica due to narrowing of the spinal canal and/or nerve pathways.  This puts pressure on the spinal cord or nerve roots and causes neurovascular irritation.  This most commonly occurs in adults over 60.  It is usually secondary to degeneration and osteoarthritis.

Other causes of "true sciatica" include: direct irritation of the sciatic nerve by the piriformis muscle; direct trauma or injury to the sciatic nerve or nerve roots; and postural and mechanical changes associated with pregnancy.  Some common causes of sciatic-like symptoms or "referred" pain include: muscular trigger points and ligament sprains from the low back, hip, gluteal and pelvic regions; sacroiliac joint dysfunction; and arthritic low back, hip and knee joints.

Sciatica is a set of symptoms of a problem, rather than a diagnosis for what is irritating the nerve and causing the pain.  This is an important point to consider because the treatment for sciatica will often be different depending on the underlying cause of the symptoms.  Therefore, it is important to obtain an accurate diagnosis.  A proper medical history, along with physical examination consisting of range of motion, strength, neurological and orhopaedic testing, along with diagnostic imaging (if necessary) should be performed to aid in the diagnosis.  It is extremely important to rule out rare causes of sciatic symptoms such as spinal tumors and infections.  Individuals with a loss of bowel or bladder control may be experiencing cauda equina syndrome and should be referred immediately for emergency care.

When sciatica strikes, there are conservative treatment options available.  These may include: mechanical traction, spinal manipulation and mobilization, soft tissue techniques, acupuncture, ice/heat application, electrotherapy, and rehabilitative exercise. A qualified health professional can determine the cause of your sciatica and prescribe appropriate therapy, exercises, and rehabilitation strategies specifically for your circumstance.  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.

Friday, November 2, 2012

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

A fall causing serious injury can occur to anyone at any time.  Since most trips, slips and falls happen in and around the home, it is a good idea to fall-proof your home with the following measures:

In the Halls and on the Stairs
·        Install non-slip strips on the edge of each step.
·        Secure loose carpet.  Make sure hallways and stairs are cleared of anything that you can trip over (i.e. books, shoes, bags).
·        Replace burnt-out light bulbs so that you always see where you are going.  Night-lights in halls and stairways can also be helpful.
·        Install handrails on both sides of staircases inside and outside the home.

In the Bathroom
·        Use non-slip mats inside and outside the bathtub and shower.
·        Install grab bars next to your toilet and in the tub or shower.
In the Kitchen
·        Put commonly used items on lower shelves and cabinets so a step-stool is not needed.
·        Replace loose scatter mats with rugs that have a rubber backing.
·        Keep a shovel and covered bucket of sand or salt near the doorway in winter to safely handle slippery conditions.
·        Keep steps and pathways clear of clutter such as yard tools, snow shovels, newspapers and wet leaves.
·        Don’t juggle parcels while trying to enter the house.  Never carry more than is reasonable.  Instead, make a few trips from the car with smaller packages.

More tips
·        Quickly dry up any wet areas on the floor to prevent slipping.
·        Wear shoes with good support and non-slip soles.
·        Always sit down to put on or take off shoes and clothes.
·        Employ extra caution when using ladders and step-stools.
·        Regular exercise can help improve your strength, balance and coordination.  Making your body stronger is one of the best ways to prevent falls.  Exercises such as yoga, Tai Chi, resistance training, bicycle riding, and power walking are great examples.

The following may be especially important for older individuals:
·        Maintaining a healthy diet and not skipping meals can increase your energy and strength.  Missing meals can lead to weakness, irritability and dizziness.
·        Have your MD or pharmacist review your medications.  Some medications can cause dizziness and weakness, which can affect your balance and perception.  Make sure that your MD or pharmacist explains all of the possible side effects of your medications.

Although the risk of falling increases as you get older, there are some simple things people of all ages can do to prevent falls.  In the event that you suffer an injury from a fall, you should contact a licensed health professional.  For more information, visit  The author credits the CCA in the preparation of this educational information for use by its members and the public.

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, October 27, 2012

The Facts About Osteoporosis

 By:  Dr. John A. Papa, DC, FCCPOR(C)

Osteoporosis is a disease of bones that decreases bone mass and strength, making them more fragile and susceptible to fracture.  Osteoporotic fractures of the spine and hip are linked to an increased risk of death within the first year after fracture.  Other effects of osteoporotic fractures can include chronic pain, depression, loss of freedom and long-term disability.  Below are some additional facts about osteoporosis.

·        The risk of major osteoporotic fracture in Canada is among the highest in the world.  The cost to the Canadian health care system of treating osteoporotic fractures is currently estimated to be $1.9 billion annually.
·        Osteoporotic fractures are more common than heart attack, stroke and cancer combined.  Each year over 125,000 Canadian women suffer osteoporotic fractures affecting the spine, hip, wrist, shoulder, pelvis, and other regions in the body.  The diagnosis of a single fracture increases the risk of subsequent fractures.
·        Some of the risk factors for osteoporosis include:  advancing age, female gender, family history, caucasian race, early menopause, use of certain medications, tobacco and excessive alcohol use, insufficient physical activity, and dietary calcium and/or vitamin D deficiency. Although considered a female health issue, osteoporosis is also becoming a major health concern among males.
·        Bone mineral density testing (BMD) can help identify those at risk for osteoporotic fracture and in need of health care management.
·        Increasing dietary calcium and vitamin D can help reduce bone loss.  Other key nutrients, which have been identified as being crucial for healthy and strong bones, include the correct balances of vitamins C, E, and K, and micronutrients magnesium, boron, potassium, and folic acid.
·        Precautions can be taken by osteoporotic individuals to minimize the risk of slip and fall injuries inside and outside the home.  Regular exercise can also improve an individual's strength, balance, and coordination and help with preventing falls and the risk of fracture.
·        Resistance (weight-bearing) exercise is best for directly reducing the rate of bone loss.  Non-weight-bearing exercises such as swimming, cycling, and walking must be combined with resistance exercise to be of benefit in slowing bone loss.  Examples of resistance exercise include the use of ones own body weight for performing movement (i.e. squats, push-ups), weight machines in a fitness facility, dumbbells, and resistance tubing.  Resistance loads need to be greater than those experienced during normal daily activities.  The effects of resistance exercise are site specific, meaning that only bones that are loaded through resistance will benefit from the activity.  To maintain the positive effects of exercise on bone, the program must continue throughout life.

Although certain risk factors cannot be controlled in combating bone loss, there are natural lifestyle choices an individual can make in preventing the onset of osteoporosis and the risk of fracture.  For more information on lifestyle, dietary and exercise management strategies concerning osteoporosis 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.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Common Back Pain Myths
By:  Dr. John A. Papa, DC, FCCPOR(C)

Back pain is the second most common medical complaint after the common cold.  80% of all Canadians will suffer from at least one significant episode of back pain in their lives.  Below are some of the common myths surrounding back pain and what modern thinking and science has to say about them.
Myth 1:  If you’ve injured a disk (i.e. herniation, rupture), you must have surgery.
Truth:  Surgery to relieve back pain should only be used as a last resort.  Even if specific testing reveals a damaged disk, recovery often results without surgery.  An injured disk in the back may become inflamed and put pressure on nerves and surrounding pain sensitive structures. 
Non-surgical treatment aims at minimizing pain and discomfort from joint irritation and muscle spasm, and prescribing specific exercises to help with recovery.

Myth 2:  Most back pain is caused by injuries or heavy lifting.
Truth:  Injuries caused by heavy lifting do not account for all back pain.  In up to 85% of cases, individuals can’t recall a specific incident that brought on their back pain.  Back pain can result from a single exposure to a bending or twisting incident or it can be small cumulative loads placed on the spine over time.  Scientific research also links the following risk factors to back pain: smoking, being overweight, poor posture, poor physical fitness, and stressful life events.

Myth 3:  X-ray images, CT and MRI scans can always identify the cause of pain.
Truth:  Even the best imaging tests cannot identify a muscle spasm or ligament sprain that may be the cause of pain.  Imaging is usually reserved for special cases such as those suffering trauma in a fall or accident, surgical candidates, unresolved cases of severe chronic back pain, and suspicion of underlying tumor, infection or other serious disease.
Myth 4:  If your back hurts, you should take it easy until the pain goes away.  Bed rest is the mainstay of therapy.
Truth:  Clinical data indicates that individuals who remain active do better than those who try bed rest.  Remaining active means continuing with daily activities as tolerated and easing back into a regular routine.  Activities may have to be modified while recovery occurs, but movement is important for recovery provided it does not put the individual at risk for further injury.
Myth 5:  Diagnosing back pain is simple and straightforward.
Truth:  The causes of back pain can be complex and difficult to diagnose.  There are many biological tissues that can generate pain in the back.  These may include muscles, ligaments, bones, nerves, and joints.  Quite often it is a combination of several or all of these structures that can manifest into back pain and even referred pain into the buttock or leg regions.  A licensed health practitioner who deals with back pain is best trained to diagnose the source(s) of your problem and prescribe appropriate therapy when required.  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.