Back Pain

Can We Control Inflammation?

When we experience muscle and joint pain it usually means that damage has occurred in the tissue to some degree. The body now needs to repair this damaged tissue, and that is the job of inflammation. Inflammation is an essential process that includes cleaning up the damaged tissue, then making repairs so the tissue can be used again. Inflammation can add to the pain that we experience from an injury. It is for this reason, that we do not want inflammation to carry on too long, or over react to the situation it is involved in fixing.

Many of us hear, continually, about how bad the American diet is. How it leads to increased heart disease and diabetes. Well, the one that hits close to home in any Chiropractic office is the effect that our diet has on the inflammatory process within our bodies. It has been shown that the average American diet is “pro-inflammatory”. What this means is that the foods an average American eats cause the inflammatory process to over react, therefore adding to the amount of pain we may experience from lower back pain, tendonitis, muscles in spasm, etc.

A while back I had a patient come into the office after not having seen her for some time. One of the first things she shared with me was a conversation we had had the last time she was in about the effects of sugary foods on joint achiness. I had shared with her that I noticed an increase in the general achiness of my joints when I ate a lot of sugary food. When I had significantly reduced the sugary foods I ate, the joint achiness reduced. Well, she had given the idea a try. She took a long 3-day weekend and eliminated all sugary foods from her diet, and she couldn’t believe the effect. Within a day or so she began to notice a reduction in the overall achiness of her joints just like I had.

That may be anecdotal evidence, but it is a fact that if you want to reduce the pain from inflammation we need to reduce the sugary foods from our diet. Not only the sugary drinks, cakes, cookies, and candies, but the breads and pastas as well. Without too much thought, if we just reduced the amount of food we ate it would help. It may take a shift in the menu, but it will be more than worth the hassle. Without the overreaction of your inflammatory process, tissues will heal better and be less painful. Your injured tissues will thank you for it.

Picking Out a Good Mattress

This blog is at the request of one of my most dedicated readers…

You will spend about one third of your life sleeping and adequate sleep is crucial for good health. A lack of sleep results in higher stress levels, which has an effect on cortisol levels. Ultimately, with less than adequate sleep, you’re looking at the possibility of weight gain and increased blood pressure, among other issues. In fact, when counseling patients for weight loss, one of the points I make is to promote eight hours of sleep every night.

When considering the health issues mentioned above, ensuring a good night’s sleep sounds much more important. Furthermore, sleeping on a quality mattress that is comfortable and supportive is a key component of staying rested. But with so many mattress models out there, how can one even decide the correct fit? I have one major rule of thumb: Try to keep your spine as neutral as possible. In other words, I would like to see the spine to be in the roughly same position it would be if you were standing. In overly soft mattresses, the body tends to sink too far, resulting in a side bend in the spine. Though this softness may feel comfortable at first, sleeping an entire night in a bent position is going to feel very uncomfortable in the morning. At the other end of the spectrum, a very firm mattress isn’t going to have enough give, so you may feel some extra pressure at your shoulders and hips. I feel that with most people, a medium/firm mattress is usually best. However, every individual is different and it is important to test some mattresses out before deciding. I will mention that I am a fan of the memory foam mattresses. I like that they do have give at the heavier parts of the body and offer support throughout. Though they are generally more expensive, if the mattress is comfortable to you, then it is worth the investment.

On a side note, I will throw out the idea of an organic mattress for those really looking to change things up. Most mattresses straight out of the manufacturer also come with things like dust mites and other allergens. For individuals particularly sensitive to these things, a look into a naturally manufactured mattress may be an useful consideration.

Ultimately, the best way to choose a mattress is to pick one that is comfortable for you throughout the night. Being comfortable equals better sleep, which is your only goal for those eight hours. And don’t forget about your pillow. After all, if you’re trying to prevent back pain, you may as well prevent neck pain, too.

Do You Have Sciatica? Don’t Jump Into Surgery Just Yet.

The posted link is an article about some research performed last year comparing chiropractic care to surgery for sciatic patients. In summary, the study published in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, found that chiropractic care was equally as effective as disk surgery when it came to correcting sciatic problems. I do want to emphasize that the people who performed this research were neurosurgeons, with only one chiropractor! So, let’s compare these two treatment options. Surgery is much more expensive at around $25,000. Surgery is much more dangerous. During a surgery there is the risk of injury to any body tissue, not to mention the potential dangers of anesthesia. Finally, spinal disc surgery is going to include significant bed rest time, leaving the patient out of work and unable to function. It only makes sense that surgery not be your first option for this condition. Read the article for yourself.

I was having some trouble getting the link to work correctly. If that happens to you, try to copy and paste the URL instead.