Friday, October 30, 2015

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 fall and suffer a muscle or joint injury that does not subside, you should contact a licensed health professional.  For more information, visit  The author credits the Canadian Chiropractic Association (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.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Results Of The 2015 Record Reader Awards

The results of the 2015 Record Reader Awards were published today and...


New Hamburg Wellness Centre was awarded the following:

  • Favourite Alternative Medicine Clinic - DIAMOND - 2 years in a row

  • Favourite Chiropractic Clinic - PLATINUM - 2 years in a row

We sincerely appreciate your votes and support for the 2015 Record Reader Awards.

Come visit us at 338 Waterloo Street, Unit 9 in New Hamburg.
New patients are always welcome!


Tuesday, October 27, 2015

What Does It Mean To Have Degenerative Joint Changes?

By Dr. John A. Papa, DC, FCCPOR(C)
Have you had a joint problem and been told that you have "degeneration" or "degenerative changes"?  What exactly does this mean?  Is this something that can be fixed?  Let's take a closer look at two common types of degenerative changes and some potential management strategies that can be employed.
1.    Degenerative Joint Disease (DJD) is also known as osteoarthritis, and is the most common form of arthritis.  Weight-bearing joints such as the hips and knees are most commonly affected, but DJD can affect any area of the body, including the hands, neck, and low back.
Most joints in our body have smooth cartilage surfaces that glide against each other, which allow two or more opposing bones to move freely and perform a specific set of movements.  A joint becomes "degenerated" or arthritic when there is wearing down of these cartilage surfaces, and a change in the composition of the bone underneath the cartilage occurs.  An arthritic joint does not mechanically function like it is supposed to.  This may result in a number of symptoms including:  muscle tightness and weakness, joint pain and stiffness, decreased ranges of motion, creaking in the joints, swelling, inflammation, and joint thickening (i.e. finger nodules, bunions).
2.    Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD) specifically affects the spinal discs between each vertebrae and is also considered an arthritic disorder.  Spinal discs allow for some movement between vertebrae, and they also absorb compressive, tensile, and shearing loads with everyday activities.

      The centre of the disc, called the nucleus pulposis, is jelly-like and mostly made up of water.  The outside of the disc, called the annulus fibrosis, is tough and thick and contains the nucleus pulposis.  Over time, the water content of the spinal disc diminishes, causing it to dry out and become fibrotic (tough and brittle).  As the disc becomes fibrotic it can develop tears.  This breakdown can result in disc herniations, the development of bony spurs, and sciatica.

Risk factors/causes for DJD and DDD are typically multi-factorial, meaning that there is usually no single cause, but rather a combination of several different factors.  These risk factors/causes may include but are not limited to: advancing age, genetic predisposition, mechanical overload from occupational and recreational activities, direct injury to the affected region, cigarette smoking, lack of exercise, and being overweight or obese.

Degenerative changes can result in debilitating symptoms for some individuals and can be managed a number of ways.  Maintaining an ideal body weight through a healthy diet and regular exercise consisting of strength, flexibility, and endurance training can reduce the risk of pain and subsequent disability.  Treatment from licensed health professionals who utilize manual mobilization therapies, soft tissue therapy, electrotherapy, acupuncture, exercise and rehabilitation strategies can also significantly help to decrease pain by restoring normal muscle and joint motion, and promote healing of arthritic or injured areas.

In the event that you suffer from degenerative joint changes, you should contact a licensed health professional who deals in the diagnosis and treatment of these conditions.  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.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Neutral Spine - What is That?

By Dr. Greg Lusk, DC

The concept of a "neutral" spine is quite well known these days.  You need to spend little time in a gym, the office of a chiropractor or physiotherapist, or reading about the next wave of amazing core exercises online before hearing or reading the words "keep your spine neutral."  This is sound advice but many people, particularly those not doing any of the aforementioned things, don't know what or where this elusive neutral position is.  Why is this important you may ask.  Well, considering that 80% of us will get back pain at some point in our lives and that a neutral spine position has been found to be the least straining position on the spine, there is value to be gleaned by those currently experiencing back pain and those looking to prevent it.

If you take a look around you'll see many examples of what neutral spine is not.  Your office colleague slumped over a desk with their chin jutting forward, your classmate slouched in a chair, or the athlete with an exaggerated low back curve and a pelvis that is tipped forward.  All poor displays of neutral spine positioning!  On the other hand, if you view someone from the side and can draw an imaginary vertical line through the front of their ear, the point of their shoulder and the side of their hip, while appreciating smooth and gradual spinal curvatures from neck to low back, you are witnessing a good model of neutral.  In this position, the ever present force of gravity imposes more balanced forces on the body versus leveraging it in any one direction.

Now, all activities and life in general cannot and should not be spent in neutral.  You would look rather silly and rigid trying to make that happen.  Just imagine a football wide receiver stretching out to make an acrobatic catch...that is not neutral.  However, from a risk management point of view, in addition to the advice of keep moving as much as possible as the body does not like sedentary positions, staying in neutral is the safest position while doing many common daily activities.  Sitting, for example, is less straining on the neck, mid, and low back if that imagined plumb line aligns where it should.  Adjust your position, desk set-up, chair, etc. to facilitate that posture.  When lifting, bend with your hips and/or knees and maintain the curves of your spine while you stiffen your abdominal muscles.  This spares the spine and uses our much larger lower body muscles.  A simple drill you can perform to assess your ability to do this is the hip hinge.  Stand upright with a broomstick along your back with one hand holding it behind your neck and the other behind your low back.  Then, while keeping the broomstick in contact with your head, mid back, and tailbone, bend forward as far as possible while maintaining the 3 contact points.  It's often not as easy as it sounds!  Practice this and get a sense of how it feels so you can replicate it throughout the day.  On a final note, if you need to twist your body follow the rule "keep your nose between your toes."  Pivot at your hips and feet/ankles to direct motion there, allowing the spine to stay straight.  Think of it this way.  The spine should resist twisting forces, not create them.

This article is for general information purposes only and is not to be taken as professional medical advice.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The Chiropractic Patient Experience

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

In last week’s article “An Introduction to Chiropractic Care”, we specifically focused on the training and education of chiropractors, regulation of chiropractic, and the scope of chiropractic care. This article will focus on the chiropractic patient experience written specifically from the author’s perspective of what patients experience at his private practice. Individual chiropractic experiences may vary in different chiropractic settings dependent on practitioner interests, experience, education, and training.

Chiropractors provide diagnosis, treatment and management of disorders arising from the musculoskeletal system (joints, muscles, tendons, nerves, and bones), such as back pain and neck pain. Before any treatment is commenced on a prospective chiropractic patient, there are several steps that are taken to ensure the case is one that can be helped with chiropractic care.

First, a thorough Medical History is taken which documents an individual's specific
complaint and may also include questions concerning past surgeries and illnesses, medication use, general and family health history. Second, a Physical Examination is performed consisting of orthopedic, neurological, and range of motion testing. X-rays may also be ordered to help determine the source of pain or dysfunction. Third, a Diagnosis and Prognosis is provided to the patient to let them know if their complaint(s) can benefit from chiropractic care. If the complaint will not benefit from chiropractic care, a referral is made to the appropriate health discipline.

For all complaints that may benefit from chiropractic care, a proposed treatment plan is communicated to the patient, including type of treatment and duration. Factors taken into consideration when developing a treatment plan for a particular individual include age, sex, severity and duration of complaint, lifestyle and environmental factors, physical health and fitness, medication use, and any other relevant health conditions. In addition, factors relating to patient concerns and preferences are also taken into account, because patients always have a choice as to the type of care they wish to receive.

Chiropractors are trained to offer multi-modal physical therapy incorporating the use of
different techniques commonly employed in combination with each other to decrease pain, stimulate healing, and restore overall function. Chiropractic adjustments and mobilizations are just one mode of therapy utilized by chiropractors (but not with every patient), to restore normal motion and functioning in joints. Soft tissue therapy is used to alleviate muscle spasm, decrease scar tissue, and increase pain free ranges of motion. Electrotherapy involves the application of relaxing therapeutic electrical current or sound waves to the area of injury, dysfunction, or pain (i.e. TENS, interferential current, ultrasound). Acupuncture can be used to promote healing, decrease pain, and control inflammation. Rehabilitative exercise prescription may also be used to improve balance, coordination, strength, flexibility, and posture.

Contemporary chiropractic care provides many options for prospective and current patients seeking effective and safe therapy for their musculoskeletal complaints. Additional chiropractic resources can be found at: (, (, and (

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.


Tuesday, October 6, 2015

An Introduction To Chiropractic Care

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

Chiropractic is one of the largest primary contact health professions in Canada. Approximately four and a half million Canadians use the services of a chiropractor each year. Despite the professions growing popularity, there are still many in the public who don’t exactly know what services a chiropractor performs or what qualifications and training they possess. This article is the first of a two part series introducing the chiropractic health discipline and the profession’s role in the health care system.

A large majority of patients who seek chiropractic care do so for complaints of the musculoskeletal system (joints, muscles, tendons, nerves and bones). Chiropractors provide diagnosis, treatment and management of these complaints which may include but are not limited to: back pain, neck pain, sciatica, whiplash, osteoarthritis, migraine and tension headaches, upper and lower extremity complaints, along with repetitive strain, sport, work and motor vehicle injuries.

Chiropractic practitioners undergo a rigorous course of study similar to that of other health
professionals. Training involves a minimum of three years undergraduate university education, followed by another four years of intensive academic and clinical education at an accredited chiropractic college. Becoming licensed to practice chiropractic requires all eligible candidates to pass national and provincial examinations before applying to the Licensing Board. Specialized post-graduate training enables the chiropractors of today to offer their patients additional treatment options.

Chiropractic in Canada is regulated by provincial statute in all provinces (The Chiropractic Act, 1991), created in accordance with the Regulated Health Professions Act (RHPA, 1991). Chiropractors along with medical doctors, dentists, psychologists, and optometrists have the legislated right and obligation to communicate a diagnosis and to use the title doctor. The College of Chiropractors of Ontario, like the colleges in each of the other provinces, is similar to the regulatory bodies for other health professions. It is responsible for protecting the public, standards of practice, disciplinary issues, quality assurance and maintenance of competency.

Chiropractic is well recognized within the health care system. Chiropractic care is covered by the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) for occupational injuries, by automobile insurance in the event of a motor vehicle accident (MVA) injury, and by many Extended Health Care (EHC) plans. A medical referral is not necessary to access chiropractic care. Chiropractic adjustments are just one mode of therapy utilized by chiropractors today (but not with every patient). Some chiropractors are also trained to employ other forms of physical therapy such as acupuncture, electrotherapy, soft tissue therapy, and rehabilitative exercises. If your complaint is not something that would respond favorably to chiropractic care, a referral is made to the appropriate health professional.

Additional chiropractic resources can be found at: (, (, and ( Join us next time for the second part of this series on chiropractic where you will learn about the chiropractic experience from a patient’s perspective.

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 1, 2015

Lift Right

Canadian Chiropractic Association

Bend your knees to lift with ease. From moving planters to picking up paint cans, lifting correctly is key to preventing injury. Here are a few tried and true rules for lifting safely and preventing back injury:
  1. Stand close to the load to be lifted.
  2. Place your feet shoulder width apart.
  3. Bend your knees and keep your back straight.
  4. Squat down to the level of the object and test the weight of the load.
  5. Ask for help if the load is too heavy or awkward!
  6. Use the strength of your leg and arm muscles (not your back) to smoothly and slowly lift the load. Try not to jerk when lifting.
  7. Keep the load close to your body.
  8. Never twist your body while turning and carrying the load.
  9. Pivot to turn in the direction you want to move toward.
  10. Bend your knees and slowly lower the load to its new location.