September 1999 To Your Health
No Shortage of Back Pain
Back pain, back pain, everywhere there’s back pain. Back pain is second only to the common cold as the most frequent cause of sick leave, accounting for approximately 40% of all work absences. It’s also the most common reason for filing workers’ compensation claims (about 25% of all claims filed in the U.S.).
How bad is the situation?
A study in the American Journal of Public Health analyzed data from a national health interview survey and found over 30,000 respondents who reported daily back pain of one week or more in the 12 months prior to the survey.
From this data, the authors estimated that more than 22 million people suffer from back pain that lasts one week or more; these cases result in an estimated 149 million lost workdays. These estimates didn’t even include workers who reported back pain of less than one week, or who missed work for the entire study period!
If you’ve managed to escape back pain to this point, it’s probably just a matter of time until you’re caught. So make an appointment with your doctor of chiropractic, the expert on preventing and managing back pain.
Guo HR, Tanaka S, Halperin WE, et al. Back pain prevalence in U.S. industry and estimates of lost workdays. American Journal of Public Health, July 1999: Vol. 89, No. 7, pp1029-1035.
Antibiotic Use Linked to Asthma
More and more people are suffering from asthma these days, even though research shows that outdoor air pollutants are decreasing. What’s the explanation for this disturbing trend? One possible answer may be just as disturbing.
A recent study published in the Journal of Clinical and Experimental Allergy examined the potential for antibiotic use in childhood to contribute to the development of asthma. A survey mailed to the parents of 612 grade-school students(5-10 years old) asked questions about antibiotic use and history of asthma in their children.
Results showed that children given antibiotics in their first year of life were over four times more likely to develop asthma symptoms than children who had never taken antibiotics. This increased risk was evident even after the researchers accounted for potential variables such as gender, ethnicity, family size, family history of asthma and parents’ smoking habits.
If asthma is linked to antibiotics, then it’s just another of many risk factors associated with antibiotic use. As a parent, you may want to think twice before giving antibiotics to your children, especially if they’re not specifically required. Always find out why your doctor is prescribing a particular medication, and ask if there are acceptable nonpharmacological alternatives available. And get a second opinion — from your chiropractor.
Wickens K, Pearce N, Crane J, et al. Antibiotic use in early childhood and
the development of asthma. Journal of Clinical and Experimental Allergy,
1999: Vol. 29, pp766-71.
Give Your Children a Head Start
No one has a completely straight spine, but nearly three out of every 100 people have what’s known as scoliosis — an “S-shaped” curvature of the spine. Usually, this curvature isn’t a problem, but for some, the curve gets worse over time and can cause discomfort and problems with breathing and circulation.
Scoliosis might be even more dangerous than originally thought. A study in the journal Spine found that children diagnosed with scoliosis had significantly lower bone mineral density (BMD) than healthy children. These results were maintained over three years of follow-up measurements.
What’s this all mean? Basically, bone density is a good indicator of bone strength. The greater the bone density, the stronger your bones are. People with weak bones often suffer from osteoporosis, which can lead to painful falls and fractures. Researchers believe that osteoporosis is extremely uncommon in children, but these results suggest that children with scoliosis may be at risk.
Give your children a head start on health by making sure they visit your chiropractor regularly. A complete physical examination can help detect scoliosis and any other spinal abnormalities that may lead to problems later in life.
Cheng JCY, Sher AHL. Persistent osteopenia in adolescent idiopathic scoliosis. Spine, June 15, 1999: Vol. 24, No.12, pp1218-1222.
Don’t Fear the Garlic
Smoking, high blood pressure and diabetes are known risk factors for atherosclerosis — hardening and thickening of the arteries. If your arteries are clogged, blood can’t get to your heart and all the other places that need a constant supply.
A recent study evaluated the influence of garlic on arterial wall thickness and plaque buildup (arterial plaque being an established indicator of atherosclerosis).
Patients received garlic supplementation in the form of 900 milligrams of garlic powder daily, or a harmless tablet that contained no garlic powder.
After 48 months, plaque buildup was measured in the 152 patients who completed the study, and results were compared with original measurements taken before the study began. The researchers found that patients who took garlic showed a 2.6% decrease in plaque, whereas patients in the placebo group showed a 15.6% increase in plaque volume.
Talk to your chiropractor about nutritional and exercise guidelines that can help you avoid atherosclerosis and other health problems. And go to your local market and pick up some garlic. If you’re afraid your partner won’t kiss you, try an odorless supplement instead of the raw version… but whatever you do, don’t fear the garlic!
Koscielny J, Klubendorf D, Latza R, et al. The antiatherosclerotic effect of allium sativum. Atherosclerosis 1999: Vol. 144, pp237-249.
Back Pain a Question of Weight?
If you’re overweight and suffering from back pain, your doctor will probably suggest that you drop the extra pounds. Losing the weight is probably a good suggestion from an overall health perspective, but it might not be the answer to your back pain, at least not according to a recent study.
The potential association between excess weight and back pain was examined in 152 patients attending a hospital-based spinal pain unit. Researchers determined the body mass index (BMI) of each patient after measuring weight and height. (The BMI is essentially a scale that determines “appropriate” weight range by comparing weight and height.) Results showed that BMI had no significant effect on the incidence of back pain, except perhaps in cases involving extremely obese individuals.
If you’re looking to lose some weight, exercise and dietary adjustments are a good place to start. But if you’re suffering from back pain, the chiropractic office is the place to go. In fact, your doctor of chiropractic will be able to manage your back pain and also help you design a sensible program to shed those unwanted pounds.
Baker PG, Giles LGF. Is excess weight related to chronic spinal pain? Chiropractic Journal of Australia, June 1999: Vol. 29, No. 2, pp51-54.
The Key to Training Is Moderation
Whether you’re dropping them off at gymnastics class, standing on the sidelines during football practice, or cheering them on during a soccer game, proud parents everywhere know how involved children are in sports these days. More and more children are participating in athletics, often starting at a very young age.
Evidence suggests that children who resistance train can improve motor skills and reduce the risk of injury during athletics, although the exact recommendations (i.e., number of exercises and repetitions to be performed) have not yet been determined.
In a study published in the online version of Pediatrics, 43 boys and girls were divided into three groups for eight weeks: an exercise group that performed 1 set of 6-8 repetitions with a heavy weight; a second exercise group that performed 1 set of 13-15 repetitions with a moderate weight; and a control group that did not resistance train at all.
The children exercised twice a week using various exercise machines, and after eight weeks, strength and muscular endurance were measured using leg extension and chest press exercises. The researchers found that not only did both exercise groups show greater gains than the control group, but that the high-repetition/moderate-weight approach was more effective than the low-repetition/heavy-weight approach.
If your children are involved in athletics, encourage them to adopt a moderate, consistent program of resistance exercise. But don’t just hand them a set of weights and say “go for it.” Teach your children the safe, effective way to train. If you’re not sure what to do or would just like more information, ask a health care professional.
Faigenbaum AD, Westcott WL, LaRosa Loud R, et al. The effects of different resistance training protocols on muscular strength and endurance development in children. Pediatrics, July 1999: Vol. 104, No. 1, ppe5.
Maintain Strong Bones with Exercise
Women begin to lose bone mass around the age of 30, putting them at risk for osteoporosis (thin, brittle bones) and associated fractures and back pain. Nutritional adjustments, such as increasing daily calcium intake, have been shown to increase bone density, but can exercise adjustments benefit as well?
An article published in the journal Sports Medicine investigated the potential role of exercise in helping women maintain bone mass. The researchers analyzed 21 different studies and presented their conclusions:
* Regular exercise can delay or halt bone loss in women.
* Weightbearing exercises are considerably more effective than exercises that do not involve any loading.
* Premenopausal and postmenopausal women can benefit from a consistent
So what constitutes “weightbearing exercise”? Basically, it’s any activity that stresses your bones against your full body weight, such as walking, running, tennis, step aerobics, or stair climbing (actual stair climbing, not on a machine). All those rowers, bicycles, gliders and ski machines at the gym will provide a good cardiovascular workout, but they won’t help you build or maintain bone mass.
Talk to your chiropractor about your particular exercise and nutritional needs as a woman. A consistent fitness program that includes weightbearing and non-weightbearing exercises can help keep you healthy inside and out.
Ernst E. Exercise for female osteoporosis. A systematic review of randomized clinical trials Sports Medicine 1998: Vol. 25, No. 6, pp359-68.
Dancing Your Way to Knee Pain
Back and forth, around and around, to the left, to the right, then back again. The repetitive movements of dance can contribute to any number of injuries, including tendinitis and stress fractures.
Although ballet is considered one of the more graceful and delicate types of dance, ballet movements and positions can place particular stress on the foot, ankle and knee.
A survey of 22 ballet dancers (16 women and 6 men; average age of 30 years) examined the relationship between ballet and the incidence of knee injury.
All but one of the 22 dancers reported experiencing some type of knee injury during their ballet training and career, with injuries occurring most frequently to the front of the knee.
The survey also revealed that only eight of the 21 dancers who reported a knee injury had practiced any specific preventive exercises (i.e., stretching, strengthening, etc.); following their injuries, almost all of the injured dancers began to incorporate such exercises into their regular routines.
So get out on that floor and move to the rhythm! But before you do, consider the potential for injury, especially if ballet is your dance of choice. Don’t wait until after you get hurt to decide to adopt preventive exercises.
Credico M, Davis A. Knee injury in ballet dancers: incidence and the effect of preventive exercises. Journal of Sports Chiropractic & Rehabilitation, June 1999: Vol. 13, No. 2, pp43-49.