January 1999 To Your Health News Volume 2, Number 1
Another Reason to Take Your Migraine to the Chiropractor
Are you one of the millions who suffer from migraine headaches? If so, you’ve probably tried all sorts of treatments: various prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications, home remedies (lots of coffee, maybe even coffee enemas), relaxation techniques, and perhaps chiropractic care.
Research now shows that the gentle spinal manipulation therapy (SMT) provided by your chiropractor may be as effective as– and safer than–widely used drug therapy prescribed by medical doctors. A study compared the relative effectiveness of treating migraines three ways:
1. with chiropractic spinal manipulation alone;
2. with the antidepressant/anti-anxiety drug amitriptyline (best known under the brand name Elavil);
3. with a combination of both the drug therapy and chiropractic care.
Patients who received only spinal manipulation showed significant improvement, on a par with those given the powerful prescription drug. The headache index, from a diary kept by each patient, showed SMT to have reduced the severity and frequency of headaches as well or better than the combined therapy or amitriptyline alone at each stage of the study.
Chiropractic treatment doesn’t pose the risk of literally dozens of unwanted side effects or interactions with other drugs that with this medication can range from mild through annoying to very serious and even deadly. You owe it to yourself to consider chiropractic treatment as a viable (even preferable) treatment option for those miserable migraines.
Nelson CF, Bronfort G, Evans R, et al. The efficacy of spinal manipulation, amitriptyline and the combination of both therapies for prophylaxis of migraine headache. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, October 1998: volume 21, number 8, pp511-19.
Kinder, Gentler Care
Sometimes a newborn child’s neck will be twisted or tilted to one side. This so-called “fixed wry neck” (technically known as infant torticollis) is usually caused by problems during birth. The condition causes painful, involuntary spasms; impedes normal growth and development; disturbs vision; and frustrates parents and the child.
Surgery on muscles, nerves and tendons may repair the damage, and intensive physical therapy, drugs, and other standard medical treatments may provide some relief, but chiropractic care should also be considered.
A new study shows that a few chiropractic sessions can have an enormous impact on normalizing the child’s health and restoring its appropriate pace of physical and social development. For example, in the case study featured in this paper, the 7-month-old subject became more confident and responsive, had better motor control, and his head centered rather than being twisted and tilted.
Best of all, the sessions a child has with the chiropractor can be pleasant, soothing, and reassuring to the child and parents alike. Treatment involves low-force manipulations and gentle massage of the neck and jaw.
Colin N. Congenital muscular torticollis: a review, case study, and proposed protocol for chiropractic management. Topics in Clinical Chiropractic, September 1998:volume 5, number 3, pp27-33.
Basic Biological Evidence that Spinal Manipulation Works
If you see your chiropractor regularly, you know how much better you feel after and between visits. You also know that your chiropractor is not only providing relief from such symptoms as aches and pains, but also contributing to your overall well-being.
But is there objective, measurable, scientific evidence that spinal manipulation affects the way your body feels and functions? Some fascinating research offers proof that the body responds at a very basic level to what chiropractors do for their patients.
Men and women employed by a large Australian corporation volunteered to undergo chiropractic spinal manipulation and have their reactions measured. To assess the impact of chiropractic, the researchers measured the cortisol (hydrocortisone) levels in the saliva of the subjects–before, during and after treatments over several weeks.
Cortisol is released by the adrenal glands when the body is under stress or injured. In many research subjects, their cortisol level was reduced or not increased while they experienced spinal manipulation therapy. This observation suggests that chiropractic treatment has a measurably, entirely real calming and physically soothing and restorative effect.
Tuchin PJ. The effect of chiropractic spinal manipulative therapy on salivary cortisol levels. Australian Chiropractic and Osteopathy, July 1998:volume 7, number 2, pp86-92.
Unhappiness about Work Causes Back Pain?
Most people will experience pain in the lower back during their lifetime. But this doesn’t account for the fact that debilitating low-back pain is a major reason individuals give for being absent from work and for a large proportion of disability insurance claims. It has been hard to explain, especially since fewer and fewer people in the more economically developed nations work in physically demanding jobs in heavy industries.
A study in England showed that people who were dissatisfied with their jobs (or were stressed and unhappy about being unemployed) were two or three times more likely to be absent from work (or receiving treatment) because of low-back pain than were people who felt good about their work and economic situation.
If you experience back pain great enough to make you call in sick and possibly stay out of work for weeks, months, or even permanently, it may have more to do with your happiness or lack of it than with whether or not you have strained your back working.
The message is clear: It hurts to have a negative attitude; unhappiness and discontent endanger your health and your livelihood.
Papageorgiou AC, Croft PR, Thomas E, et al. Psychosocial risks for low back pain: are these related to work? Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, 1998:volume 57, pp500-502.
Pesticides Can Give Babies Brain Tumors?
Pregnant women must be especially careful about endangering their unborn child. That’s why they are warned about smoking and drinking, exercise and diet during those critical nine months.
Scientific investigation is now showing that brain tumors in young children may have been caused by pesticides their mothers used before giving birth. It seems the fetal brain may be especially vulnerable to potentially cancer-causing effects of pesticides.
The principal culprits identified by researchers were flea/tick products: especially foggers and sprays, more so than dips, shampoos and collars. And expectant mothers who prepared, applied or cleaned up flea/tick products themselves were most likely to be endangering the future health of their unborn child.
Pogoda JM, Preston-Martin S. Household pesticides and risk of pediatric brain tumors. Environmental Health Perspectives, November 1997:volume 105, number 11, pp1214-20.
High-Priced Athletic Shoes Cause More Injuries?
We’ve all seen those flashy and entertaining television commercials, magazine ads and billboards promoting the latest and greatest athletic shoes. They usually feature a superstar athlete moving effortlessly to dunk the basketball, return the tennis serve, win the marathon or decathlon. These remarkable individuals possess physical attributes, skills and talent so “superhuman” that they probably could perform better barefoot or in wet hiking boots than we ordinary mortals wearing those extraordinarily expensive athletic shoes we are being tempted to purchase.
The ads leave the impression that these “super shoes” alone will make you fly through the air and race like the wind. The sad truth is quite the opposite. These high-priced shoes not only lack substantially improved ability to cushion impact or keep your feet stable, they endanger you by making you believe you are safer.
Researchers showed that such deceptive advertising creates a false sense of security in wearers of high-priced athletic footwear. The British Journal of Sports Medicine study scientifically measured footfalls and ground reaction forces. They showed how advertising claims made users rely too heavily on the mythical protective qualities of their shoes, play harder and more carelessly, exposing themselves to unnecessary injuries that could have been prevented by commonsense care and caution.
Ironically, people don’t expect their cheaper shoes to make them safely jump higher and run faster. But in their ordinary shoes they play safer than those who shelled out two or three times as much money to have the latest, most beautiful, but not really better athletic shoes.
Robbins S, Waked E. Hazard of deceptive advertising of athletic footwear. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 1997: volume 31, pp299-303.
Preventing Injuries to Older People
Anyone can suffer a painful and disabling accident at any time. But older people are at increased risk because they:
1) are more likely to have accidents that can seriously injure or even kill them,
2) usually have a harder time recovering from an accident than younger people do, and
3) may have pre-existing conditions that complicate their injuries and prevent them from healing rapidly.
This problem is a serious public health concern with a huge impact on the health care system. It deserves your personal attention. Even if you aren’t elderly and in less than top physical condition. Even if you aren’t showing some (or many) of the common signs of age, you may have an aging friend or family member who is infirm and in jeopardy.
The chiropractic profession, with its philosophical emphasis on wellness and conservative, preventive patient-care strategies, is ideally suited to take the lead in protecting older people from injuries.
Your chiropractor can give you important insights and practical guidance concerning ways to improve health and well-being –including a great deal of sound advice and preventive treatment options for older people.
Killinger LZ. Trauma in the geriatric patient: a chiropractic perspective with a focus on prevention. Topics in Clinical Chiropractic, 1998:volume 5,number 3, pp10-15.
Don’t Get Bitten by the Shark-Cartilage Scam
Being diagnosed with cancer is one of the most frightening things that can happen to you. Because cancer is such a menacing disease, it is natural to think the worst and want to try almost anything that might stop it from killing you.
That’s why unproved, unconventional methods of cancer treatment are particularly appealing, especially to patients with advanced-stage cancer. In fact, the wilder the claims made for the various “cancer cures,” the more appealing such treatments appear to the most desperate victims of cancer. Such individuals have used shark cartilage preparations for many years. But there is little scientific research that proves shark cartilage helped them in any significant way.
A recent study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology measured the impact of therapy with shark cartilage. It was shown to be an inactive substance that had no beneficial effect on the health and quality of life of patients with advanced-stage cancer.
Miller J, Anderson GT, Stark JJ, et al. Phase I/II trial of the safety and efficacy of shark cartilage in the treatment of advanced cancer. Journal of Clinical Oncology, November 1998:volume 16, number 11, pp3649-55.
How Sweet it Isn’t
Carbohydrates (starches and sugars) are the main source of energy in what we eat. Grains, fruits and vegetables furnish most of the fuel we run on. But although sugar is a “high-octane” energy source, it can contribute to tooth decay and more serious long-term ailments such as bone-deterioration.
A study in The Journal of Nutrition examined the effect of a high-sugar (sucrose) diet on growing rats. Researchers documented that a refined sugar diet led to the deterioration in the mineral composition and mechanical strength of rapidly growing bones. Alterations were more pronounced in females. The study concluded that sucrose interfered with basic metabolism and the bone-building process.
Of particular concern is the fact that girls and young women who regularly eat large amounts of refined sugars–a diet widely consumed by adolescents in Western countries–may be at future risk of developing osteoporosis. One of the most important factors in preventing osteoporosis is reaching appropriate peak bone mass in the preteen years.
Children who load up on candies, sugary drinks, snack foods and desserts are weakening their bones and opening the way for the tragic discomfort, disfigurement, and disability of osteoporosis later in life. Ask your chiropractor to suggest some ways to protect your kids with an improved diet.
Tjaderhane L, Larmas M. A high sucrose diet decreases the mechanical strength of bones in growing rats. The Journal of Nutrition, October 10, 1998:volume 128, number 10, pp1807-10.
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men.
Large international variations in rates of prostate cancer incidence and mortality suggest that environmental factors have a strong influence on the development of this disease.
A study in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute used large quantities of data from United Nations sources to analyze information on prostate cancer mortality, food consumption, tobacco use, socioeconomic factors, reproductive factors and health indicators in countries all over the world. The study found that a larger proportion of men die of prostate cancer in Western nations where diets tend to include large amounts of fat and animal products (including milk and dairy foods), alcohol and sugar.
Consult with your chiropractor on how to modify your family’s diet to optimize good health.
Hebert JR, Hurley TG, Olendski BC, et al. Nutritional and socioeconomic factors in relation to prostate cancer mortality: a cross-national study.Journal of the National Cancer Institute, November 4, 1998:volume 90, number 21, pp1637-47.