Are Cortisone Injections Doing More Harm Than Good?

As a chiropractor, my philosophy of care is to help people repair from injury and live healthy by using all natural means.  My overall structure of care is joint correction, muscle/fascia correction, exercise, and nutrition.  Once in a while a patient may need something more invasive, such as surgery or injections, but I always stress that these should be back up options to safer and conservative care.  
It’s natural for anyone in pain to want the fastest cure to get rid of the pain.  Pain is not comfortable! Having a cortisone injection may provide a faster relief from pain, but a recent study has confirmed that when looking at the long term, this may be making your problem worse.  A study by the Boston University School of Medicine found that cortisone injections may actually speed up progression of arthritis in the area of complaint.  So, while you may find short term relief, you may also be going down the road to bigger issues.
I always say there is a place for all types of therapies in health care, and this includes cortisone injections.  I myself have referred patients for this very treatment, but it is always in cases where conservative care just isn’t getting the patient better.  I understand the desire to get better quickly and be pain free, but as it turns out, the fastest fix isn’t always the best.  The long term outcome in most cases outweigh the short term benefits and putting in some extra work and patience to truly improve your body is absolutely the way to go.  Check out the link to read more about this recent study.
Dr Rob

National Chiropractic Health Month

It’s National Chiropractic Health Month!  This month we want to highlight our attention on our health and how to be injury free and generally well through natural methods.  By natural, we mean drug and surgery free.  In health care, there is a place for all forms of care, but there is so much we can do naturally as a first step to better health.  Check out this link which focuses on 8 basic ideas to get you feeling healthier and happier in a non-invasive way.
Dr Rob

Chiropractic Care Works for Troops with Lower Back Pain

Before I was a chiropractor, I served 9 years in the Maine Army National Guard as a medic.  I was enlisted in the military simultaneously while in both undergraduate and graduate school.  My experience in the military was excellent and I made many connections with men and women in Maine and across the country.  The military is filled with great people who have dedicated their lives to serving their country and the values of what it stands for.      I came across this article (link below), which discusses a study of the effect of chiropractic care on lower back pain to military personnel.  Not surprising to me, the findings were that chiropractic was very effective in reducing pain.  The unfortunate part of this article discusses how Tricare, the health insurance for active military members, does not cover this service.  While chiropractic care is becoming more widely recognized, it is not yet available to all members of the military.  I would love the opportunity to provide my services to military members and help reduce their pain from injury.  One day, hopefully Tricare can catch up with this study and cover our services.

Dr. Rob

Health Benefits of Pumpkin

As we come into the fall, there’s always a lot of attention on the pumpkin products.  The pumpkin spice latte is back as well as the pumpkin beers, doughnuts, and pies.  While these may be fun products to consume, pumpkin itself is actually rich in healthy nutrients.  Pumpkin packs a healthy dose of antioxidants, vitamins A and C, and is even a good source of plant based protein.  Does this mean you should being drinking a lot more pumpkin flavored lattes? Nope!  Unfortunately, pumpkin flavor (in most cases it’s artificial anyway) is typically mixed with large amounts of sugar, which will negate all the benefits you may get from it.  Look for interesting pumpkin recipes, such as roasting the meat of the pumpkin or the seeds.  Roasting will help keep the nutrients in the food, rather than running out. 

Check out the article below, which talk more about the health benefits of pumpkin!

Have you ever heard of “Tech Neck”

There was a lot of news attention this summer with the reports of people growing “horns” on the back of their head as a result of too much texting.  It’s not surprising that the news reports were sensationalized, but you can’t ignore the fact that the time spent on screens is leading to more and more chronic neck pain.  It’s been called “text neck” or “tech neck”, but whatever you want to call it, it has become very problematic. 

The article below suggests that high schools are spending roughly 5,000 hours each year in this position!  Everyone should make efforts to get off their phone in order to prevent neck pain, headaches, and the development of arthritis.

“Backpacks” and How to prevent injuries associated with them

It’s the beginning of the school year again and I thought it would be helpful to provide some information about backpacks and how to prevent injuries associated with them.  As a general rule, backpacks with their contents should not weight more than 10% of the body weight of the individual wearing them.  That sounds like a nearly impossible goal, based on the amount books that children have to carry around while at school.  Planning exactly what is needed in the bag and utilizing lockers at school can help to reduce the amount being carried at any one time.  If you don’t need the materials for the next class, try to drop them off at your locker and go back for them later.
If reducing weight is not a possibility, you should at least be wearing the backpack properly, using both straps.  The strap should be adjusted so the backpack isn’t sagging, which will keep the bag closer to your center of gravity.  These techniques can help reduce problems associated with carrying the excess weight, but certainly will not eliminate injuries from potentially occurring.  Here is a link discussing the side effects of carrying a heavy backpack:

Are You Unknowingly a Victim of Unnecessary “Adrenal Fatigue”?

Have you ever heard of adrenal fatigue?  Chronic stress is a big problem and can ultimately wear out your adrenal glands.  Your adrenals are responsible for producing epinephrine, the hormone which gives you your fight or flight response.  If your adrenals hit their max, you will likely experience chronic fatigue during the day, insomnia late at night, and cravings for sugary food.  Proper nutrition, adequate sleep, and stress management are all key steps to take to combat this.  It takes some time, but stick to it and you should progressively feel increased energy over time. 

Check out the article below for more information.
Rob Liguori, DC

Back Pain: The Nine Most Common Sources of It and Natural Steps to Remedy It

Back pain is extremely common, with four out of five adults facing it at least once during their lives, according to the Mayo Clinic. And a nationwide phone survey of over 1,200 Americans, sponsored by Stanford University Medical Center, ABC News and USA Today, found that back pain was the most common type of pain reported (followed by knee and shoulder pain, joint pain and headaches). Because your back is part of your body’s core muscles, and is necessary for nearly every movement you make, it’s also very vulnerable to injury. In fact, most back pain is caused by overusing, straining or injuring the muscles, ligaments and disks that support your spine. Back pain, therefore, commonly results from:

1. Poor posture

2. Sitting at a desk all day

3. Lifting something heavy improperly

4. A sudden, awkward movement (such as from sneezing)

5. Sleeping on an uncomfortable, or unsupportive, mattress, or in an awkward position

6. Carrying around a heavy handbag or backpack

7. Being overweight Relieving Back Pain Naturally Surveys have found that more than half of Americans are suffering from physical pain that leads to stress and irritability, and has a negative impact on their personal relationships, work productivity and daily routine.

Fortunately, there are many natural tools within your reach that can help you relieve back pain and support a healthy spine.

1. Use Proper Posture. This includes while standing or sitting. How do you know if your posture is proper? Stand with your back to a wall. If your shoulders, bottom and back of head are all touching the wall, then your posture is correct.

2. Get a New, Medium-firm Mattress. An old, lumpy or overly soft mattress could be causing you unnecessary pain. Studies show that a medium-firm mattress is best if you have back pain.

3. Lose Weight. If you’re overweight, you’re straining your back muscles with every move you make.

4. Exercise Regularly. Low-impact exercises such as aerobics, yoga, swimming and walking will increase the strength in your back and help your muscles to function better. Further, according to the Mayo Clinic, exercise also helps relieve pain by prompting your body to release chemicals called endorphins that actually block pain signals from reaching your brain. “Endorphins are the body’s natural pain-relieving chemicals that in many cases are more powerful than morphine,” says Edward Laskowski, M.D., a physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist and co-director of the Sports Medicine Center at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. 7/30/2019 Back Pain: The Nine Most Common Sources of It and Natural Steps to Remedy It

5. Be Careful when Lifting. If you’re lifting something heavy, let your legs, not your back, do most of the work.

6. Stretch Regularly. Stretching helps to reduce tension in your muscles, improve flexibility and range of motion, and may slow the degeneration of your joints. The act of stretching alone will also improve your blood circulation and help you to relax — a key to pain relief.

7. Get a Massage. The American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) says massage therapy helps patients become more aware of their bodies and the sources of pain. It also better familiarizes patients with the pain they experience, and improves confidence by encouraging patients to effectively cope with their pain.

8. Make a Chiropractic Appointment… Chronic Pain May Not Be Coming From Where You Think? As Dr. Fabrizio Mancini stated on the TV show “The Doctors”, your pain “may not be coming from where you think it is.” In fact if you have back pain it very well might be coming from your neck… or your back and neck pain may have the same origins.

9. Reduce Inflammation in Your Body. When your body is in a chronic state of inflammation, the inflammation can lodge in your muscles, joints and tissues. Over time, this can lead to physical pain, as well as a number of diseases including heart disease. Emotions (too much stress), diet and lifestyle all contribute to inflammation. One of the safest, low-risk things you can do to lower your risk of inflammation is to modify your lifestyle and dietary choices. This means eating a variety of anti-inflammatory foods (fruits and vegetables), limiting or avoiding all together the pro-inflammatory foods (highly processed foods, high-sugar foods, trans fats, etc.), exercising and quitting smoking (if you do).

What Happens to Your Body When You Give Up All Sugar?

From Men’s Health

There’s a lot of debate regarding the tenets of a healthy diet. Vegans believe forgoing animal products is best, while keto enthusiasts just want to eat all the fat. But there’s one food people of nearly every dietary preference aim to avoid: sugar.

Giving up the sweet stuff is challenging since it’s found in unsuspecting places, like veggie burgers, tomato sauce, and crackers. But if you do nix added sugars from your diet, your body will benefit almost immediately, according to Dr. Eric Pham, M.D. at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Orange, California.

Within a week you can expect lower blood pressure as well as healthier levels of fat and insulin levels in the bloodstream, he says.

Of course, how your body reacts to the absence of sugar depends on how much of the white stuff you eat in the first place–and whether you’re eating carbs. Your body breaks down complex carbohydrates, like oatmeal and fruit, into simple sugars to use as energy.

But what if you cut out all high glycemic foods, as keto enthusiasts and no-carb, no sugar dieters attempt?

Dessert aficionados, beware: “You’re going to have a tough three days,” says Dr. Brian Quebbemann, M.D., a bariatric surgeon based in California.

First, you’ll probably day dream about donuts, if you’re the type of person who regularly grabs a muffin in the morning and ends dinner with dessert. He explains this occurs because you don’t have sugar to help stimulate your brain.

You may feel, well, rough, but there’s a lot of good stuff going on inside your body.

Insulin, a hormone that regulates glucose, drops to become more stable. You won’t go through the cycle of sugar highs and crashes, Quebbemann explains. Initially, you’ll feel tired and lethargic, but that will pass within a few days. Adrenaline will increase and help break down glycogen, or sugar, stored in your body. This will be released into your bloodstream pretty quickly, says Quebbemann.

“You’ll go through that in less than 24 hours,” he says.

Within three to five days, your liver will make ketones from fat since there’s no more glucose, your body’s main source of energy. That’s when your body enters ketosis, aka fat burning mode.

Photo credit: Shutterstuck
Photo credit: Shutterstuck

As a result, you could experience muscle cramps since you’re losing a lot of water when you’re in ketosis after cutting out sugar. Some people experience keto flu, associated with headaches, fatigue and cramps, which lasts about a week.

But once that passes, you’ll feel more energetic, focused, and calm, says Quebbemann.

It’s common for people to cut out sugar and high-glycemic foods to lose weight for short periods of time. However, doctors still aren’t sure whether this is healthy long-term, explains Quebbemann.

That’s why many doctors recommend eating healthy complex carbohydrates. Although they are broken down into sugar, this is an entirely normal and healthy process, says Quebbemann.

In fact, omitting added sugars while eating complex carbs keeps your insulin levels healthy.

“You don’t get the headaches. You don’t get the crashes. You get a consistent level of energy,” he says.

Not eating enough fruits and veggies kills millions of people every year

The preliminary results of a major new study show that about 1 in 7 cardiovascular deaths could be attributed to not eating enough fruit and 1 in 12 cardiovascular deaths could be attributed to not eating enough vegetables.

Your mom was probably right: you should eat more fruits and veggies — you and millions of other people. Fruits and vegetables are an essential part of a healthy diet, serving as an excellent source of fiber, potassium, magnesium, antioxidants — all of which have been shown to improve health. They’re also associated with a lower incidence of obesity and diabetes, which also carry multiple health risks.

A new study finds that insufficient intake of fruits and veggies is responsible for around 23% of all cardiovascular (CVD) fatalities. Low fruit intake was associated with nearly 1.8 million cardiovascular deaths in 2010, while low vegetable intake was associated with 1 million deaths, according to researchers. In terms of both fatalities and intake, the toll of insufficient fruit consumption was double than that of vegetables.

“Fruits and vegetables are a modifiable component of diet that can impact preventable deaths globally,” said lead study author Victoria Miller, a postdoctoral researcher at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. “Our findings indicate the need for population-based efforts to increase fruit and vegetable consumption throughout the world.”

Nutrition is extremely complex and often times, studies can sometimes seem contradictory, but the science has been remarkably consistent when it comes to fruits and vegetables: they’re good for you. Replacing them with processed foods, or things like meatand dairy, often has substantial and long-lasting negative effects. The study authors call for increased availability and promotion of fruits and vegetables, so that people can be encouraged to incorporate more of them into their diet.

“Global nutrition priorities have traditionally focused on providing sufficient calories, vitamin supplementation and reducing additives like salt and sugar,” said senior study author Dariush Mozaffarian, dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. “These findings indicate a need to expand the focus to increasing availability and consumption of protective foods like fruits, vegetables and legumes–a positive message with tremendous potential for improving global health.”

So how much fruits and veggies should you eat?

The dietary guidelines vary slightly from country to country, but they all seem to hover around 300 grams per day for fruit consumption — the equivalent of about two apples. Meanwhile, veggie consumption should come at 400 grams per day — about three carrots (this includes all fruits and vegetables, including legumes).

Naturally, the impact of insufficient fruit and vegetable consumption was greatest where the consumption was lowest. Countries like the US, India, and several countries in Eastern Europe have a higher impact than places such as China or Western and Northern Europe.

There were also important differences based on age groups, seeming to disproportionately affect younger adults. Men were also more affected, presumably because women tend to eat more fruits and vegetables.

The findings have not been peer-reviewed and will be presented at the Nutrition 2019 conference, where they were selected by a committee of experts. This is the most comprehensive study of its kind to date.

“Inadequate fruit and vegetable intake contributes to cardiovascular diseases (CVD), and the impacts of fruits and vegetables on CVD risk worldwide has not been well established by country, age, and sex. Our objective was to derive comprehensive and accurate estimates of the burdens of CVD attributable to fruit and vegetable consumption using the largest standardized global dietary database currently available,” the study’s abstract reads.

The results paint a worrying picture, but there is also some good news: increasing consumption of fruits and veggies is, at least in theory, pretty easy. Each and every one of us can make this decision every day. Increasing consumption at a wider scale, which is what researchers are suggesting, remains much more challenging, but a thorough assessment is the first step.