Chiropractic for PMS
No one’s completely certain what causes premenstrual syndrome (PMS), but there’s no denying the pain and distress millions of women suffer 7-10 days before menstruation every month. Different doctors have different recommendations for treating PMS, and there’s one perspective you might be hearing more about soon — Chiropractic.
A study involving 84 subjects (54 with diagnosed PMS and 30 without) evaluated the potential for chiropractic to help relieve PMS symptoms. Complete chiropractic examinations revealed that the PMS group was more likely to show signs of spinal problems (i.e., spinal tenderness, muscle weakness, neck disability, etc.) than the non-PMS group.
The study authors suggest that chiropractic care to correct these spinal problems may be an effective way to reduce some of the symptoms of PMS. If you’re still searching for relief from the pain and frustration of premenstrual syndrome, make an appointment with your local chiropractor. A complete spinal examination could be an important step toward finding a solution.
Walsh MJ, Polus BI. The frequency of positive common clinical findings in a sample of premenstrual syndrome sufferers. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, May 1999: Vol. 22, No. 4, pp216-220.
Can a Firm Grip Signal a Healthy Future?
As we age, we lose muscle strength — if we lose enough, it can become difficult to do some of the simple, everyday activities we’re accustomed to doing, like getting dressed in the morning, taking a bath, eating a meal, even walking from one place to the next.
Maintaining as much muscle strength as possible may help avoid or postpone these frustrating problems later in life. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, men with good hand grip strength in “midlife” (45+ years old when the measurements were taken) reported much less disability related to muscle strength 20 years later. Specifically, men with weak original hand grip measurements had more trouble with household work, slower walking speed, and more difficulty dressing, bathing, eating, etc., than men with strong grip strength measurements.
In other words, more muscle strength now might mean more muscle strength (and less frustration) later. This is especially important because grip strength seems to be a good general indicator of strength in other areas of the body.
Ask your chiropractor to measure your hand grip strength, and ask about appropriate exercises that can help you improve and maintain muscle strength throughout life.
Rantanen T, Guralnik JM, Foley D, et al. Midlife hand grip strength as a predictor of old age disability. Journal of the American Medical Association, February 10, 1999: Vol. 281, No. 6, pp558-560.
One More Reason Not to Smoke
Despite prevention programs in schools, legal restrictions at restaurants and bars, and repeated health warnings on TV, nearly one in four Americans continues to smoke. For these people, lung cancer and emphysema could be lurking in their not-so-distant future, and evidence now suggests that smoking might also contribute to other conditions, including back pain.
If you smoke and you have back problems, especially a history of back problems, smoking might be making those problems worse. Results of a questionnaire mailed to 1,471 young men and women diagnosed with adolescent scoliosis (curvature of the spine) and 1,750 men and women without scoliosis revealed that smoking increased reported back pain not only in men and women with scoliosis, but also in healthy women. Back pain was also more frequent and more intense among smokers compared with nonsmokers in the study group.
These results suggest that smoking is associated with back pain, and that the impact may be even greater in people with spinal conditions. All the evidence shows that smoking is addictive, but picking up that first cigarette is a choice. Make the right choice — it’s much less painful in the long run.
Scott SC, Goldberg MS, Mayo NE, et al. The association between cigarette smoking and back pain in adults. Spine, June 1, 1999: Vol. 24, No. 11, pp1090-98.
Aerobic Exercise for Asthma?
If you’ve never had to work hard for a breath, you don’t really know what it’s like to have asthma. For the millions of asthma sufferers, life can be a daily struggle to function. Although the benefits of aerobic training are well-established, the potential impact on asthma patients is controversial because many patients tend to show less tolerance to exercise.
A study of 42 asthmatic children (8-16 years of age) evaluated the effectiveness of aerobic exercise in managing asthma. Aerobic training consisted primarily of sessions on an exercycle, three times per week for two months (10-15 minutes of warmup/stretching, 30 minutes of cycling, 5-minute cooldown). Results showed that aerobic training was associated with a significant short-term reduction in use of the inhaled and oral steroids which are commonly prescribed to asthma patients.
If you or someone you know suffers from asthma, ask your doctor about the pros and cons of aerobic exercise. A moderate aerobic training routine is a great way to stay fit, and it might be an appropriate way to fight asthma at the same time.
Neder JA, Nery LE, Silva AC, et al. Short-term effects of aerobic training in the clinical management of moderate to severe asthma in children. Thorax 1999: Vol. 54, pp202-206.
Keep Your Heart Healthy with Resistance Training
Heart disease remains the leading cause of death among U.S. men and women, claiming a life every 33 seconds. Smoking and eating a high-fat, high-salt diet are risk factors for the disease, and exercise (or lack of exercise) may also play a role.
Consider a recent study published by the British Journal of Sports Medicine. Twenty-four healthy premenopausal women were evaluated to examine the effects of a supervised 14-week resistance training program on cholesterol levels and overall body composition. Subjects were randomly assigned to a non-exercising control group or to an exercise group that participated in 45-50-minute resistance training sessions, three days a week on non-consecutive days.
At the end of the 14-week training period, total cholesterol and LDLC (the “bad” cholesterol) levels were significantly lower in the training group compared to the control group, and HDLC levels (the “good” cholesterol) had increased slightly.
Resistance training can involve free weights and/or weight machines, and many men (and more and more women) use resistance training as a supplement or alternative to aerobic exercise. Your chiropractor can help you choose a resistance training program best suited to your physical condition, time constraints and fitness goals.
Prabhakaran B, Dowling EA, Branch JD, et al. Effect of 14 weeks of resistance training on lipid profile and body fat percentage in premenopausal women. British Journal of Sports Medicine 1999: Vol. 33, pp190-195.
Road to Strong Bones Is Paved with Nutrition
Maintaining strong bones is vital to preventing osteoporosis and related fractures when we get older. While it is generally agreed that calcium and vitamin D are important nutrients for bone health, much less is known about some of the other key nutrients.
In a group of 1,402 men and women, bone mineral density (BMD) was measured twice over a two-year period. At the same time, dietary patterns were determined by gathering results from a 126-item food frequency questionnaire. Results showed that increased magnesium, potassium, and overall fruit and vegetable intake increased bone mineral density.
We all need to keep our bones strong and healthy, but for women, it’s absolutely crucial. Women are especially susceptible to bone loss because they start out with less natural bone tissue and lose it faster with age (especially after menopause when estrogen, a hormone that protects your bones, is no longer produced in large quantities). Your doctor of chiropractic can determine your bone mineral density, and advise you on establishing a sensible diet to maximize bone strength and overall health.
Tucker KL, Hannan MT, Chen H, et al. Potassium, magnesium, and fruit and vegetable intakes are associated with greater bone mineral density in elderly men and women. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, April 1999: Vol. 69, No. 4, pp727-36.
Homeopathics for Relieving Arthritis Pain
Eleven million people suffer from osteoarthritis, a common form of arthritis in which cartilage, the “cushion” between bones, is gradually worn away. No more cushion means the bones rub together, causing considerable pain. In fact, pain relief is the top priority in most osteoarthritis patients, often considered as important than as treating the disease.
Acetaminophen (i.e., Tylenol) is a frequently used pain reliever, although upset stomach is a potential side effect and many people can be allergic to it. A study in the American Journal of Pain Management explored the possibility for an alternative — a homeopathic preparation — to relieve osteoarthritis pain.
Patients received either a liquid homepathic preparation or acetaminophen for one month. Results showed that the homeopathic treatment was slightly more effective than acetaminophen, and that more than half (55%) of the patients reported pain relief of 40% or greater, compared with only 38% of the acetaminophen patients.
Homeopathy is a system of healing that emphasizes the use of small doses of different natural substances. Your chiropractor can tell you more about homeopathy and about some of the reasons why you should consider non-drug alternatives to treating your pain.
Shealey CN, Thomlinson RP, Cox RH, et al. Osteoarthritic pain: a comparison of homeopathy and acetaminophen. American Journal of Pain Management, July 1998: Vol. 8, No. 3, pp89-91.
Time to Cure Couch Potato Syndrome
There you are, sitting on the couch again, watching TV instead of exercising. You know you should get up and get to the gym, or even just take a brisk walk around the block, but something’s stopping you. You’re deep in the clutches of the evil couch potato syndrome.
Physical inactivity (often referred to as “Sedentarism”) is a major factor in heart disease, osteoporosis, adult-onset diabetes and cancer. If you’re sedentary, you’re doing too much sitting, and it may be putting you at risk.
Too many of us are doing too much sitting these days. Consider a recent study that found that more than 79.5% of men and 87.3% of women are “sedentary” — expending less than 10% of their daily energy in performing moderate or high-intensity exercise. Among active men and women, two fairly basic activities (sports and walking) were the main exercises performed.
So if you’re one of the ones who don’t exercise enough, take some of advice from the ones who do. Moderate exercise can be easy and fun to integrate into everyday life, and can include activities such as biking, walking, swimming… even gardening. Get off that couch and do something about your health. It’s one of the best decisions you’ll ever make.
Bernstein MS, Morabia A, Sloutskis D. Definition and prevalence of sedentarism in an urban population. American Journal of Public Health, June 1999: Vol. 89, No. 6, pp862-67.
Drinking Coffee and Preventing Gallstones
Your gallbladder stores bile, the liquid produced by the liver to digest fats. Gallstones, hard masses of cholesterol and protein, are the most common digestive-related cause of hospitalization in the United States, with symptomatic gallstone disease affecting more than 20 million Americans annually.
A 10-year study (1986-1996) examined the possibility that coffee could reduce the risk of gallstone formation. The study, published by the Journal of the American Medical Association, gathered data from more than 45,000 men and found a decreased risk of symptomatic gallstone disease associated with higher intake of regular (caffeinated) coffee. Subjects who drank no coffee or only one cup per day had a higher risk compared with those who drank four or more cups per day.
Does that mean you should run down to your local coffee shop and start chugging the 64-ounce cafe mochas? Of course not. As the authors of the study note, “clinical recommendations on coffee consumption should be based on patients’ individual health risks and benefits.” In other words, ask your doctor for more information.
Letzmann MF, Willett WC, Rimm EB, et al. A prospective study of coffee consumption and the risk of symptomatic gallstone disease in men. Journal of the American Medical Association, June 9, 1999: Vol. 281, No. 22, pp2106-2112.