Hitting Back Pain from All Angles
Doctors of chiropractic spend years in chiropractic college learning to
manipulate the spine, but that’s certainly not all they learn. Chiropractors
are effective at relieving back pain because they know that long-term
solutions come from taking a well-rounded approach to dealing with the
A study involving 147 patients (101 of whom were classified as “disabled”
from car accidents or work-related back injuries) provides evidence of the
effectiveness of this approach to managing back pain. Patients participated
in a four-phase rehabilitation program consisting of:
1) chiropractic treatments, including spinal adjustments, ultrasound
therapy, and TENS (electrical stimulation of the muscles), along with
2) isometric strength training;
3) resistance weight training; and
4) education on back pain, including strategies for coping with pain,
relaxation techniques, etc.
After nine weeks of rehabilitation, patients reported decreases in pain and
disability compared with pre-rehabilitation measurements. Strength,
flexibility and range of motion were also higher, and most significantly, 91
of the 101 disabled patients were able to return to work.
If back pain’s got you down, get up and take a trip to your doctor of
chiropractic. You’ll get a comprehensive, caring approach that’s sure to
help you get back on your feet.
Guerriero RC, Rawani M, Gray E, et al. A retrospective study of the
effectiveness of physical rehabilitation of low back pain patients in a
multidisciplinary setting. Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association,
June 1999: Vol. 43, No. 2, pp89-103.
Relieving Back Pain during Pregnancy
Ah, the indescribable joys of pregnancy. The anticipation of new life, the
intimate, developing bond between mother and child … and the back pain.
More than 50% of women experience back pain during pregnancy, especially in
the third trimester, and frequently the pain can be excruciating and
A Swedish study involving 258 pregnant women investigated whether water
gymnastics could reduce the intensity of back pain and the
number of days taken for sick leave. Women were divided equally into two
groups: an exercise group that participated in water gymnastics (one hour of
relaxation exercises, performed in a swimming pool and accompanied by music)
during the second half of their pregnancy; and a control group that did not
participate in water gymnastics.
Although back pain intensity increased during the course of pregnancy for
both groups, the exercise group reported less pain compared with the control
group. The total number of reported days on sick leave was also lower in the
exercise group (982 days taken) compared with controls (1,484 days taken).
Many of the joys (and frustrations) of parenthood will last much longer
than nine months, so prepare yourself. But back pain’s one frustration that
doesn’t have to last. If you’re expecting a child and are experiencing back
pain, talk to your doctor of chiropractic about making your pregnancy as
pain free as possible.
Kihlstrand M, Stenman B, Nilsson S, et al. Water gymnastics reduced
the intensity of back/low back pain in pregnant women. Acta Obstetrics Et
Gynecologica Scandinavia, March 1999: Vol. 78, No. 3, pp180-85.
In Your Best Interest?
When you or one of your children catch a cold, chances are good that a
virus is to blame. In fact, evidence also suggests that 60-75% of colds,
bronchitis, and other upper respiratory tract infections are caused by
Unfortunately, chances are also good that your doctor will prescribe an
antibiotic, despite substantial evidence that antibiotics are ineffective
against viral infections. Doctors know the statistics, but for some reason,
they don’t always share the information with you.
A study published in the research journal Pediatrics examined pediatrician
prescribing behaviors as they related to parental expectations. Ten
physicians and more than 300 parents attending sick visits for their
children were surveyed. Results showed that when physicians thought a parent
wanted an antibiotic for viral complaints, they prescribed one 62% of the
time, compared with only 7% of the time when they did not think the parent
The bottom line? Many medical doctors prescribed unnecessary medication —
antibiotics they knew would be ineffective against viral infections —
because they thought that’s what parents expected.
The researchers suggest that steps need to be taken to change physician
perceptions regarding parental expectations. After all, parents may or may
not expect antibiotics, but what they probably expect (and want) most of all
is a doctor who provides quality, accurate and honest health care each and
Mangione-Smith R, McGlynn E, Elliott M, et al. The relationship between
parental expectations and pediatrician antimicrobial prescribing behavior.
Pediatrics, April 1999: Vol. 103, No. 4, pp711-718.
Are You Getting Enough Vitamin E?
We hear about vitamin C, vitamin A, the B vitamins, calcium and iron. But
what’s so great about vitamin E? Well, most of us know that it’s good for
the skin. After all, check out all those skin care products in your local
supermarket — most (if not all) contain some form of vitamin E.
What too many people apparently don’t know is that vitamin E also plays an
important role in preventing and controlling cancer, cardiovascular disease
and other chronic conditions. According to a study in the American Journal
of Epidemiology, an estimated 27% of the U.S. population doesn’t get enough
daily vitamin E. Men have a higher concentration than women, and African
Americans have the lowest concentration of any ethnic or racial group.
If you’re not getting enough vitamin E in your diet, you’re an inviting
target for cancer, heart disease, and a number of other dangerous
conditions, including infertility, nerve destruction and anemia. So don’t
ignore vitamin E — especially when it’s so easy to find. Plant and seed
oils, nuts, whole grains, milk, soybeans and sweet potatoes are all good
sources of vitamin E. Ask your chiropractor for more information.
Ford E, Sowell A. Serum alpha-tocopherol status in the United States
population: findings from the Third National Health and Nutrition
Examination Survey. American Journal of Epidemiology, August 1999: Vol. 150,
No. 3, pp290-300.
Exercise for Low Back Pain
Back pain might go away for a while, but you never know when it will
return. Research shows that recurrence rates for low back pain soar as high
as 50% in the 12 months following the initial episode. And although patients
are encouraged to return to normal activities as soon as possible, many fear
that movement or activity will only make their pain worse.
In July, the British Medical Journal published a study that evaluated the
effectiveness of an exercise program for dealing with back pain. One hundred
and eighty-seven patients with low back pain of 1-6 months duration were
divided into an exercise group or a control group. The exercise group
participated in eight one-hour classes that included muscle strengthening,
stretching, relaxation techniques and a brief education on back care. The
control group continued under the care of their doctor.
Questionnaires completed six months and one year after the program
revealed that patients in the exercise group reported less back pain and
associated disability than the control group. The exercise group also took
less days off work than the control group in the 12-month follow-up period
(378 days by the exercise group vs. 607 days by the control group).
As these results suggest, something can be done about back pain. In
fact, exercise is just one of many potential options available to back pain
sufferers. A doctor of chiropractic can evaluate you and outline the most
appropriate course of rehabilitation for your condition.
Moffett JK, Torgerson D, Bell-Syer S, et al. Randomised controlled trial of
exercise for low back pain: clinical outcomes, cost and preferences. British
Medical Journal, July 31, 1999: Vol. 319, No. 7205, pp279-283.
Blood Pressure Responds to Weight Changes
Do you realize you might be suffering from high blood pressure
(hypertension) and not even know it? High blood pressure usually causes no
symptoms until complications develop, such as a heart attack or a stroke —
that’s why it’s referred to as the “silent killer.”
Exercise and dietary adjustments can usually keep this dangerous condition
under control, and evidence suggests that weight loss and gain may also play
a role. A recent study in the Annals of Internal Medicine tracked 82,473
U.S. female nurses from 1976-1992, calculating weight loss or gain every two
years and noting all cases of physician-diagnosed high blood pressure.
Results showed that weight gain dramatically increased the risk for high
blood pressure, whereas long-term weight loss reduced the risk. These
associations were stronger in younger women (less than 45 years of age) than
older women (more than 55 years of age).
So what’s the moral to this story? First, make sure you get your blood
pressure checked regularly. The earlier you discover the problem, the faster
you can start doing something about it. Second, avoid excess weight gain by
maintaining an active lifestyle and following a sensible diet. And third,
consult your doctor for more information.
Huang Z, Willett WC, Manson JE. Body weight, weight change, and risk for
hypertension in women. Annals of Internal Medicine, January 1998: Vol. 128,
No. 12, pp81-88.
Maintaining Heart Health as We Age
Natural variations in the heart rate are an important measure of health —
not only of the heart, but of the entire body. If this “heart rate
variability” (HRV) is low, it’s an indication that your autonomic nervous
system isn’t functioning properly. And that’s not a good sign, considering
that this system is responsible for maintaining balance and control of
nearly 90% of the body’s functions.
HRV is generally lower in the elderly population, but maintaining healthy
variations in our heart rate can help prevent heart attacks and other
cardiac problems. A study in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise found
that regular physical activity was effective in increasing HRV — slightly
over 24-hour periods, and moderately during the daytime.
The 51 elderly subjects (average age: 67 years) were divided into a
non-exercising control group or an exercise group that trained three times a
week for six months; each 45-minute training session consisted of
jogging/walking, stretching, and various aerobic exercises. After six
months, heart rate variations were higher in the exercise group compared
with the group that did not exercise.
If you’re not sure about how healthy your heart is, or if you’d like more
information on how to maintain a healthy heart and a healthy body as you get
older, talk to your doctor of chiropractic.
Schuit AJ, Van Amelsvoort LG, Verheij TC, et al. Exercise training and
heart rate variability in older people. Medicine & Science in Sports &
Exercise, June 1999: Vol. 31, No. 6, pp816-821.
Long-Term Smoking Linked to Arthritis
Unless you’ve just moved here from another planet, you’re well aware of the
profound dangers associated with consistent tobacco use. People who smoke
run the risk of developing chronic conditions such as lung cancer, emphysema
and heart disease, not to mention rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
OK, let’s mention RA afterall. Rheumatoid arthritis, the most common form
of arthritis in the United States, is a disabling disease characterized by
joint swelling, pain and stiffness. And according to a recent study,
long-term cigarette smoking may contribute to the development of RA.
As part of the Women’s’ Health Cohort Study, 377,481 female health care
professionals completed questionnaires that asked about health habits,
cigarette smoking history, and medical history (including a diagnosis of
rheumatoid arthritis). Results showed that women who smoked for many years
faced a 24-39% increase in the risk of developing RA compared with
nonsmokers, even after accounting for other potential risk factors, such as
age, race, pregnancy history, menopausal status and hormone use.
Smoking is a choice, but it’s easy to see why it’s probably not a very good
choice, especially considering some of the horrible diseases long-term
smoking may cause. If you choose to smoke, be aware of the risks to yourself
and your children. If you’d like to quit, your doctor can help determine the
method that will work best for you. And if you don’t smoke, keep up the good
work! Your body will thank you for it.
Karlson E, Min-Lee I, Cook N, et al. A retrospective cohort study of
cigarette smoking and risk of rheumatoid arthritis in female health
professionals. Arthritis & Rheumatism, May 1999: Vol. 42, No. 5, pp910-917.