Thursday, June 21, 2012

Chiropractors and Exercise Are Better Than Drugs Says New Study
By Dr. Mercola

Chronic pain is an exceedingly common condition impacting an estimated 76.5 million Americans, one-third of whom describe their pain as severe and "disabling".i
Among them, many suffer from neck pain, which is the third most common type of pain according to the American Pain Foundation.
iiIt is estimated that 70 percent of people will experience neck pain at some point in their lives but research into effective treatments is surprisingly limited.

If you visit a conventional physician for pain, there's a very good chance you'll leave with a prescription for a medication,as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), acetaminophen (Tylenol) and even opioids (OxyContin, Vicodin, etc.) are the go-to treatment for pain in the modern medical world.

However, there are better options than drugs for neck pain, not only in terms of pain relief, but also in helping to treat the underlying cause of the pain so that healing can truly occur.

New Study Shows Exercises and Chiropractic Care Beat Drugs for Neck Pain

According to a new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine and funded by the National Institutes of Health, medication is not the best option for treating neck pain.

After following 272 neck-pain patients for 12 weeks, those who used a chiropractor or exercise were more than twice as likely to be pain free compared to those who took medication.

  • 32 percent who received chiropractic care became pain free
  • 30 percent of those who exercised became pain free
  • 13 percent of those treated with medication became pain free
Researchers concluded:

"For participants with acute and subacute neck pain, SMT [spinal manipulation therapy] was more effective than medication in both the short and long term. However, a few instructionl sessions of HEA [home exercise with advice] resulted in similar outcomes at most time points."

Why Exercise is Essential if You Have Neck Pain

Because exercise often leads to improved posture, range of motion and functionality of your body, it can help treat the underlying source of your pain as well as help prevent chronic neck pain from developing in the first place. Exercise helps prevent and relieve pain through a number of mechanisms including strengthening key supportive muscles and restoring flexibility. 

Not surprisingly, repetitive strain injuries have become increasingly common as so many people spend most of their work days sitting in front of computers. Computer work is associated with neck pain specifically originating from the trapezius muscle, also referred to as trapezius myalgia, and many types of neck pain can be traced back to poor posture at work or during your commute.

It's a vicious cycle as poor sitting posture leads to neck pain and once neck pain develops, it can make your posture even worse. For instance, one study showed people with chronic neck pain demonstrate a reduced ability to maintain an upright posture when distracted.iii

The same study further revealed, however, that after following a specific exercise program, people with neck pain had an improved ability to maintain a neutral cervical posture during prolonged sitting, which suggests it may help break the poor posture/neck pain cycle. Other research has similarly shown that exercise is incredibly beneficial for treating neck pain including:
  • Research in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that repetitive strain injury caused by office work can be reduced using certain strength training exercises.iv
  • A study published in the journal Arthritis & Rheumatism showed that strength training targeting the neck and shoulder muscles is the most beneficial treatment for women with chronic neck muscle pain as opposed to a general fitness routine.v

    Five Specific Exercises to Target Chronic Neck Pain

    Five specific strength exercises target the neck and shoulder muscles involved in causing chronic neck pain. Both studies mentioned above involved the same five exercises using hand weights, and detailed explanations of how to perform each exercise are provided by the National Research Centre for the Working Environment:vi
    1. Dumbbell shrug
      Stand upright with the hand weights at the side of your body. In one even motion, lift your shoulders up towards your ears and lower them again slowly. At the same time, try to relax your jaw and neck.
    2. One-arm row
      Stand with one knee on the bench and lean on the same-side hand on the front of the bench. With the free arm you pull the weight up towards your lower chest. When the weight touches your chest, lower it in a controlled motion.
    3. Upright row
      Stand upright with your arms stretched and the hand weights in front of your body. Lift the weights in a straight line as close to your body as possible, until they reach the middle of your chest and your elbows point up and out. During the whole exercise, the hand weights should be placed lower than the elbows.
    4. Reverse fly
      Lie down on a bench in a 45° forward bent angle with the hand weights hanging towards the floor. Lift the weights outward and upward until they are horizontal, and then lower the weights in one controlled motion. During the exercise, the elbows should be slightly bent.
    5. Lateral raise / shoulder abduction
      Stand upright with the hand weights at the side of your body. Lift the weights outward and upward until they are horizontal, and then lower the weights in one controlled motion. During the exercise, the elbows should be slightly bent.
    The researchers recommended performing the exercises three times per week (Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays) and alternating between exercises 1, 2, and 5 on one day, and exercises 1, 3, and 4 the next. When starting out, perform 2 sets of each exercise with 8-12 repetitions for each set. Increase at your own pace to 3 sets for each. Depending on the exercise and your current muscle strength, the recommended beginner's weight is between 6-12 lbs.

    As a general rule of thumb, increase the weight as soon as you can comfortably execute all three sets. As a guideline, the participants in the study roughly doubled the weight used in 10 weeks. After approximately four weeks, you can reduce the number of repetitions of the last sets in order to increase the weight.

    The Benefits of Chiropractic Care and Other Alternative Treatments for Neck Pain

    Seeing a qualified chiropractor is another wise option if you suffer from chronic pain. I am an avid believer in the chiropractic philosophy, which places a strong emphasis on your body's innate healing wisdom and far less reliance on Band-Aids like drugs and surgery. Chiropractic, osteopathic, and naturopathic physicians receive extensive training in the management of musculoskeletal disorders during their course of graduate healthcare training, which typically lasts from 4-6 years.

    Due to their comprehensive training in musculoskeletal management, numerous sources of evidence have shown that chiropractic management is much safer and often more effective than allopathic medical treatments, particularly for back and neck pain. In addition, researchers have also found that chiropractic adjustments affect our bodies on a deep cellular level.

    What that means is that chiropractic care may affect the basic physiological processes that influence oxidative stress and DNA repair, so in addition to addressing any immediate spinal misalignment that might cause pain, it can also address deeper dysfunction in your body.

    As many of you know I am an osteopathic physician. DOs, like chiropractors, also receive extensive additional training in spinal adjustments and may also be a good option for you. However, in my experience, only a small percentage of DOs are skilled in this area as they have chosen a more conventional allopathic model. So if you see a DO for this make sure they provide this service.

    Overall, the important point to remember is that there are many other options for treating chronic pain than drugs. For instance, therapeutic massage has been found to offer clinically significant improvement in function and symptoms for those with neck pain,vii while a variety of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) treatments (including acupuncture, massage, spinal manipulation, and mobilization) were deemed to be significantly more efficacious than no treatment, placebo, physical therapy, or usual care in reducing pain immediately or at short-term after treatment for those with neck or low-back pain.viii


    Thursday, June 14, 2012

    5 Back Saving Gardening Tips

    The Ontario Chiropractic Association
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    Now that summer is weighing down on us, our gardens are in need of special attention.  Whether your are an avid or reluctant gardener over doing it can be a pain in the back. Positioning your body correctly reduces the strain on muscles and joints.  The Ontario Chiropractic Association offers these tips to help you plant and rake without the ache.

    1. Alternate your tasks.  Switch between heavy chores such as digging and lighter, less physically demanding tasks such as planting.

    2. Do the “scissors” when you rake.  Stand with one leg forward and one leg back when you rake. Switch legs and hands every few minutes.

    3. Kneel to plant and weed.  Constant bending can put strain on your back, neck, leg muscles and joints, so kneeling is recommended. Use kneepads or a kneeling mat (with handles) to minimize the amount of bending required, and to make kneeling more comfortable. Keep your back straight.

    4. Change positions frequently.  Make a point of changing position every 10 to 15 minutes. Move from kneeling to standing, from planting to digging.

    5. Pace Yourself.  A minimum of three brief breaks each hour is recommended. Take a few moments to move around, stretch your muscles, have a drink or simply sit and relax. Spread the work over several days - you will still achieve the same great results.

    Source: The Ontario Chiropractic Association

    Wednesday, June 13, 2012

    Pilot Project Has Family Docs Consulting With Chiropractors

     Photograph by: KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images, The Windsor Star

    The results of a pilot project by the Ministry of Health to get family doctors to work with chiropractors in family care teams showed doctors requested fewer MRIs and made fewer referrals to surgeons for their patients with low back problems.

    The ‘Consulting Chiropractor’ pilot project had chiropractors do 30-minute assessments of patients with low back pain and discuss the treatment options with the patient’s family doctor. Environics Research Group and the Ontario Chiropractic Association then polled participating family physicians.

    Aside from fewer tests and referrals, the doctors reported that having the chiropractor in their team made for quicker turnaround and boosted patients’ confidence in the diagnosis and treatment options.

    “Back pain is a common problem that causes significant disability,” said Jan Kasperski, who heads the Ontario College of Family Physicians, in a statement on Tuesday. “Better management of these patients by family doctors supported by the expertise of various healthcare professionals such as chiropractors and physiotherapists is a solution that will ensure Ontarians with back pain will receive the best care possible.”

    According to the OCA, about three quarters of family doctors in Ontario are already referring their patients to chiropractors and more than 80 per cent of Ontario’s working population is affected by low back pain, which is the second-most popular cause of lost work time after the common cold.

    Data from the OCA shows low back pain costs $1.2 billion each year in Ontario alone in direct and indirect costs. Low back pain is second only to heart disease as the main cause of chronic health problems and long-term disability.

    Also listen to this Audio Clip from

    Working Together

    Matt Galloway spoke about the co-operation between doctors and chiropractors, with Bob Haig, he is CEO of the Ontario Chiropractic Association, and with Jan Kasperski.  She is CEO of the Ontario College of Family Physicians.

    Listen audio (runs 8:56)                    

    Tuesday, June 12, 2012

    Can Naturopathic Doctors (NDs) treat______________?

    YES!  NDs are primary health care practitioners, which means that they can treat the same conditions as a family doctor, including both acute concerns and chronic health conditions.  In the event that an ND is unable to treat your condition, they will refer appropriately.

    Examples of health conditions that naturopathic medicine is effective in treating include:

    ·        Allergies & Environmental Sensitivities
    ·        Arthritis, Chronic Pain
    ·        Digestive Disorders, Constipation, IBS
    ·        Skin Disorders (Eczema, Psoriasis, Acne)
    ·        Hypertension (High Blood Pressure), High Cholesterol
    ·        Heart Problems
    ·        Diabetes, Insulin Resistance
    ·        Immune Disorders
    ·        Colds, Flu, Sinusitis, Tonsillitis
    ·        Ear and Throat Infections
    ·        Menopausal Problems
    ·        PMS, Menstrual Disorders
    ·        Insomnia
    ·        Detoxification
    ·        Weight Management
    ·        Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

    Peter Klassen, ND is currently accepting new patients at the New Hamburg Wellness Centre.  Call 519-662-4441 to book an appointment, or
    visit for more information.

    Sunday, June 10, 2012

    The Path to Optimal Nutrition: Nourishing Your Body

    What we choose to nourish our bodies with is fundamental to the foundation of our health. The following tips will help get you on a path towards optimal nutrition.
    • Fruit: Full of essential vitamins and minerals, fruit is an integral part of a well rounded diet. Aim for having 2 to 4 servings of fruit per day and incorporating different kinds rather than sticking to the same ones.
    • Vegetables: A great source both of vital nutrients and fibre and are lower in sugar than fruit, vegetables should be a mainstay of both lunch and supper. A rule of thumb to ensuring you are getting approximately 6 servings a day is to make half your plate at lunch and supper vegetables.
    • “Whole foods”: Foods should be as close to their natural state as possible, thereby minimizing additives and preservatives.
    • To get the most nutrition from your food and ensure healthy soil, local, seasonal and organic food is always the best choice.
    • Avoid drinking liquids with meals. There are enzymes hard at work in your saliva, stomach and pancreas and drinking liquids with meals dilutes the concentration of the enzymes and reduces their effectiveness. This can contribute to bloating and gas associated with meal times.
    • Eat protein with every meal. Protein helps maintain your body’s lean muscle mass, regulates your blood sugar, and helps prevent burn out/ fatigue during times of stress.
    • Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. If you don’t have an appetite in the morning try blending together frozen berries, hemp protein powder, 2 tbsp of ground flax and some almond milk. Sipping this throughout the morning will ensure you’re starting your day right by getting adequate protein, vitamins and fibre.

    Sunday, June 3, 2012

    The Pain Drain
    Back pain, neck pain and headaches: these three common pain conditions affect millions of Canadians every day, draining our energy and ability to function at normal levels. Sometimes pain may be the result of chronic underlying medical conditions, and requires a health professional’s care. But in many cases, you can help manage energy-draining pain by taking a few simple steps in your daily life.

    Powerful posture
    If you could do just one thing to reduce the aches you may experience daily, it would be to improve your posture both when standing and seated. Strengthening your core muscles will help support your spine and minimize the physical stresses and strains that create back, neck and shoulder pain.

    Soothing Sleep
    Many of us get less than seven hours of sleep each weeknight, but sleep provides vital rejuvenation for sore muscles and joints. If you are not getting enough restful sleep, look at two things: your mattress and your sleep position.
    • A good mattress supports the natural contours of the body, letting your muscles and joints fully relax.
    • Sleep on your back or side. If you sleep on your side, put a pillow between your knees. If you’re on your back, place it under your knees. Better sleep positioning with the help of pillow support can ease pain by easing pressure on your spine.

    Exercise can help ease many types of pain, from arthritis to low back pain. A pain-reduction exercise program should include both flexibility and strength training. The stronger and more flexible you are, the better your body can distribute the physical forces of movement and prevent painful imbalances. And of course, exercising regularly may help you reduce body weight, which can significantly decrease pain – particularly in the joints of your hip, knee, and ankle, and in your lower back.

    Stress and pain are often closely linked. Each one can have an impact on the other, creating a vicious cycle that sets the stage for chronic pain and chronic stress. Managing stress can lead to pain relief. Relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, yoga, guided imagery and meditation can teach your body to relax and decrease stress levels.

    These tips may not completely eliminate pain from your life -- but try them for a few weeks, and you’ll likely feel less discomfort. Recurrent pain can affect your quality of life, but learning how to cope with it can help you manage its harmful impact. A chiropractor can diagnose the causes of your pain and develop a treatment plan to reduce your “pain drain” and get you moving again.

    Reprinted from Chatelaine Back Health with permission from the Ontario Chiropractic Association

    Friday, June 1, 2012

    NYC Marathon includes chiropractic in its ‘10 tips to kick off your marathon training’

    NYC Marathon includes chiropractic in its '10 tips to kick off your marathon training'

    June 1, 2012 — The ING New York City Marathon is still a ways away, but for those brave enough to train and tackle the grueling November race, you'll want to make sure you’re prepared.

    A recent released titled “10 tips to kick off your marathon training” includes among many things chiropractic care.  The tip encourages racers to “stay loose,” and says “a massage and/or chiropractic adjustment shouldn’t just be an occasional treat — regular treatments can help keep you healthy as you train.  Don’t let minor aches and pains turn into major injuries.”

    Click here to see the list in its entirety.  Source: New York Road Runners,