Dr. Gray's Straight Talk

Honest and blunt healthcare discussion and advice.

Posts Tagged ‘Neck Pain’

Great find from Dr. Josh! Get rid of “the FUZZ!”

Posted by Dr. Gray on Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Great find from Dr. Josh! Get rid of “the FUZZ!”


Posted in Fibromyalgia, General Health, Stretches & Exercises | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Can Chiropractors Help Stuff That Aren’t In the Back?… or, What Is “Chiropractic?”

Posted by Dr. Gray on Monday, September 16, 2013

Got a great call this morning that got me to thinking… Backstory: A friend of mine, whose wife has been a patient for a couple years, called and told me, “Ya know… my knee has been killing me for a long time and I never really thought that you might be able to do something about it.” Following this call, I have two conclusions.

First, I am grateful that he finally asked. The mere fact that he called meant that he had either been told by someone else that he should ask me, or he finally had a epiphany that he should ask if I could help.

Second, I am concerned that after 118 years, the general public still thinks that chiropractors are just back doctors. Seriously, this gentleman has been a good friend of mine for more than five years. And yet, facing a long-standing and significant condition that was extra-spinal, he hadn’t thought to ask me about it until now.

So, let’s get down to it. “Chiropractic” in it’s derivative form means “done by the hand.” It doesn’t mean done on the back, or done on the neck. Historically, Chiropractic has become known as a method of healing that values and encourages the natural healing ability of the body, and the optimization of the body’s ability to do so. Throughout the past century, our profession has proven time and again that we are capable of treating and improving the health of millions of patients with a myriad of conditions. Plantar Fascitis? Check. Achilles’ Tendinitis? Check. Chondromalacia Patella? Check. Sprained Meniscus? Check. Osgood-Schlatter’s? Check. Hip bursitis? Check. Herniated disk? Check. Menstrual Cramps? Check. Constipation? Check. Irritable Bowel Syndrome? Check. Kidney Stones? Check. Gall Bladder congestion? Check. Difficulty breathing? Check. High Blood Pressure? Check. High Cholesterol? Check. Overweight? Check. Thyroid Dysfunction? Check. Common Cold? Check. Rotator Cuff Tear? Check. Tennis Elbow? Check. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome? Check. Trigger Finger? Check. Torticollis? Check. Cluster Migraine? Check. Tension Headache? Check. …. Shall I go on?

Have all of these conditions been helped and treated by a chiropractic adjustment? Yes and no. If you subscribe to the “straight chiropractor’s” definition of chiropractic, then chiropractors are nothing more than technicians who pop joints. If you subscribe to the “mixer chiropractor’s” definition of chiropractic, then you define the adjustment as the only crucial element to the treatment plan that is assisted by complimenting, external, therapeutic procedures.

However, a realistic definition that complements the true and original derivative “done by the hand,” does not have to explicitly imply that the single most important factor of our care is a physical adjustment. I suggest that a more accurate correlation refers to our ability to take “a hands-on approach.” It is my opinion that, as with all doctors, it is not our actual “hands” or the service we provide that is our most important asset. Our most important asset, and what makes us worthy of being doctors, is our intellect. It is our ability to examine our patients, have a thorough consultation regarding current symptoms and history, and ultimately arrive at a working diagnosis.

Arriving at a working diagnosis allows us to then use our intellect, education, and experience to suggest an appropriate treatment plan. With our knowledge of how the body works, we know the power and outcomes secondary to the chiropractic adjustment, therefore we often incorporate that in our treatment plan. However, we also recommend proper diet, exercise, diagnostic imaging, blood tests, appropriate supplementation, physiotherapy, and rehabilitative therapy. We apply supportive tape or bracing to damaged joints and muscles. We use kinesiotape to improve circulation and minimize further injury. AND, we refer to our health care counterparts when necessary for concurrent and/or more appropriate care.

There is a significant, country-wide push right now for an expanded role for chiropractors in the health care market. For those who wish to go through the additional training and certification, some wish to have the ability to incorporate more traditional Western treatments, such as pharmaceutical intervention. I, for one, don’t have a problem with that. By our very nature and philosophy, the natural and innate power of the human body to heal itself will still be respected. The chiropractic adjustment will still remain a critical therapeutic measure that we can provide to our patients. However, we must not ignore the benefits that can be achieved through the provision of non-traditional methods of treatment. The world is not flat, and sometimes antibiotics are necessary. The Earth is not the center of the Universe, and sometimes muscle relaxants assist in the healing process.

So, in conclusion, chiropractors are not “back doctors.” We are not “neck doctors.” If an individual chiropractor wants to limit his practice to a specialty practice dealing only with backs, or necks, or Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, or headaches, or whatever… more power to ya! However, it is unfortunate that some would seek to pigeon-hole the entire profession to their own desires. It is time to expand our practice models, and provide for our patients regardless of historical traditions. It is time to join the 21st century and encourage the freedom to grow and offer more to our patients. It is time to inform the public that we can treat knees, ankles, ear infections, stomach problems, shoulder injuries, chronic pain conditions, and more. It is time to be the first doctor that comes to mind when ANY health condition presents itself.

– Dr. Gray

Posted in General Chiropractic, General Health, Other Pain Conditions, Political | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Time For A Spinal Tune-Up

Posted by Dr. Gray on Monday, August 3, 2009

When you care about your car, you take it to the shop for the tuneups it needs – oil changes, tire rotations, new brakes, etc. Your spine is no different. It needs a regular “tuneup” as well, complete with chiropractic adjustments. Chiropractic tuneups can serve three purposes:

  1. Evaluate the state of your body, even if you have no pain. Even people who feel fine have areas of their spine or extremities that are out of normal alignment. When we adjust those bones back into place, people feel better in some way. If we waited until we felt pain, we would all wait until we needed root canals or crowns before going to the dentist!
  2. Address major or minor pains you currently have, but haven’t been too worried about. Have you had any nagging discomforts or pains coming from your spine or extremities? Do these discomforts prevent you from doing the activities you enjoy? Instead of wondering if the pain will continue to get worse or stay that way for the rest of your life, give chiropractic a try. You don’t have to live with pain.
  3. Prevent future problems that can and likely will arise from your joints being out of alignment and not functioning at 100 percent. Our society is moving toward preventative health care. Chiropractic has been at the forefront of this concept since the chiropractic profession was founded in 1895. Arthritis, overuse injuries (like carpal tunnel syndrome and tennis elbow), rotator cuff injuries and knee problems are just some examples of conditions that may be prevented with chiropractic care.

The most prevalent causes of death in this country are heart disease, cancer, and stroke. What is the first symptom most of those people that die of those diseases experience? … Death! Unfortunately, that’s true. Many that die of those diseases never know they’re sick until it’s too late. Think about it… how many people are walking around feeling fine, yet have a stage 3 cancer growing inside? We see cases on a daily basis where a lower back pain began with a simple movement, like getting in the car, or picking up a pencil, or mowing the lawn. Only after further investigation do we discover that they’ve had degenerative joint disease developing inside for several years.

Scheduling chiropractic tuneups allows you to take care of your body so that your machine functions as well as it possibly can. Please remember to make time to care for yourself; you are worth every penny. Call your chiropractor today.

Posted in General Back Pain, General Chiropractic, General Health | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Are You Too Old To Exercise?

Posted by Dr. Gray on Monday, May 18, 2009

How do I say this…? NO! Absolutely not! Are you crazy? I saw a research paper a few years ago that detailed the activities and health history of centenarians (people 100 years old or older). They had black, white, asian, male, female, European, American, Chinese, Japanese, Indian, thin, heavy (only a couple of these), recent, historical, etc.

Want to know what the only thing they all had in common?

They all walked regularly!

That’s right. Walking. Something that seems so simple, yet is so profound in its health benefits. Now, I’m not so naive to think that walking was the only thing these people were doing, however, that was the one thing they all had in common. Most participated in other forms of exercise, watched their diet, and efficiently dealt with stress, but their lifestyles, backgrounds, and ethnicities varied across the board. Physical activity was the only common denominator.

How many times have you seen an older person who’s still active, busy, driving, and looks healthy… and then seen another person who was significantly younger who looked like they were on death’s door? Why do you think the older, healthier person is still able to do so much while the younger was so limited? Due to hundreds of studies and experiments, we know it’s the exercise, activity, and healthy lifestyle, but I think there’s more to it than that. I think one of the biggest contributing factors is willpower. Willpower is the ability to exert one’s will over one’s actions. In other words, the ability to be decisive, determined, and persistent. Older people who remain active and vibrant are not perfect… they are not completely without pain or disease… they don’t feel great everyday… but they do have the willpower to get up and keep going regardless of how they feel.

You’re never too old to live healthy. Changes in diet and the addition of exercise into your lifestyle can make significant differences to your health and overall wellness. In a study published in the Journal of Aging and Health and conducted at the University of South Florida School of Aging, Professor Ross Andel and co-researcher Robert Simons, executive director of the Bonsai Holistic Spa and Wellness Center in Largo, Florida, demonstrated a noticeable increase in body strength, flexibility, balance and agility in study participants. The 64 volunteers, ranging in age from 66 to 96, were divided into a walking group, a resistance training group and a control group that did not exercise. In the training group, warm-ups, stretching and flexibility exercises were followed by workouts on resistance training equipment.

The walking and resistance training groups both benefited from the study, suggesting that physical activity can offset physical declines that come with aging and preserve functionality among seniors. Your doctor of chiropractic can tell you more about the benefits of consistent exercise and help outline a program suitable to your needs.

Reference: Simons R, Andel R. The effects of resistance training and walking on functional fitness in advanced old age. Journal of Aging and Health 2006;18(1):91-105.

Posted in General Health, Stretches & Exercises | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Stretches for Neck and Lower Back

Posted by Dr. Gray on Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Okay… back from my first vacation in over three years and ready to jump back in with some fresh info for you all.

Flexibility is the ability to move the joints and muscles through a normal range of motion, and it’s an important fitness measure; in fact, it’s one of the five health-related components of physical fitness, along with muscular strength, muscle endurance, cardiorespiratory endurance and body composition. Here are just a few of the health benefits attributable to a regular flexibility and stretching program: increased circulation, improved posture, better coordination and stress relief.

According to the Mayo Clinic, there are six essential guidelines to keep in mind when stretching:

1 Warm up first. You’re more likely to pull a muscle when it’s cold. Start off with five minutes of walking, light limb movement or a favorite low-intensity exercise.
2 Hold each stretch for 30-60 seconds, remembering to breathe. Simply put, it takes time to stretch tissues safely. Go too fast and you could be in for trouble in the form of a muscle tear. For most muscle groups, a single 30-60-second stretch is adequate.
3 Don’t bounce. Speaking of muscle tears, bouncing during a stretch can cause microtears in the muscle, leaving scar tissue as the muscle heals, which will only make the muscle tighter and more prone to future pain and inflexibility.
4 Avoid pain. You shouldn’t feel pain during a stretch. If you do, you’ve gone too far and need to back off and hold the stretch in a pain-free position.
5 Stretch both sides. Joint range of motion needs to be as equal as possible on both sides of the body; after all, if only half the body is flexible, the other half can still cause problems.
6 Stretch before and after exercise. Stretch them lightly before a workout and then more thoroughly after your workout. Stretching before activity improves flexibility and reduces injury risk; stretching after exercise relaxes tired muscles and reduces muscle soreness and stiffness.

Here are a few sample stretches you can start doing right away:

Range-of-Motion Stretch: There are six ranges of motion in the neck and in the lower torso. Bending forward (flexion), bending backward (extension), bending straight to either side (lateral flexion), and straight turning around the axis (rotation). For the neck: lower your chin towards your chest until you feel a good stretch. Use two fingers to push on the top of your head to increase the stretch, if you can take it. Hold that stretch for 7-10  seconds (30-60 according to Mayo) then slowly return to neutral. Repeat three times in all six directions. Pay attention to your “form.” Make sure you are staying in the proper plane of motion. In other words… straight forward and back on flexion/extension, ear straight towards your shoulder on lateral flexion, and don’t drop your chin on rotation. Same for the lower back stretches.

The Shoulder Stretch: Bring your left arm across the body and hold it with your right arm above or below the elbow. Hold for 30-60 seconds, switch arms and repeat. To stretch the internal rotators of the shoulder (important if you participate in tennis, golf or other overhead/throwing/swinging sports), hold a rolled-up towel vertically with both hands. One hand should hold the top of the towel and the other hand should hold the bottom of the towel. Now gently pull the towel toward the ceiling with your top hand, stretching the shoulder on your opposite arm. Hold for 30-60 seconds, switch top hand and repeat.

The Hamstring Stretch: Lie on the floor near the outer corner of a wall or door frame. With your left heel resting against the wall and your left knee bent slightly, straighten your left leg until you feel a stretch along the back of your left thigh. Hold the stretch for 30 to 60 seconds, switch legs and repeat.

Your doctor can provide you with a complete list of stretches. Remember not to start any exercise or stretching program without consulting with a health care professional first.

Posted in General Health, Stretches & Exercises | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Does Chiropractic Care Cause Strokes?

Posted by Dr. Gray on Thursday, September 11, 2008

Over the past several years, there has been a concerted effort by certain industries to give the impression that chiropractic care in the neck is dangerous. Obviously, the majority of these efforts can be traced back to individuals or industries who have a financial interest in taking patients away from chiropractic care, or in making chiropractic look bad. The point is, don’t believe everything you read and ask yourself, “Who has my best interest in mind?” Remember… follow the money.

Many of you who are patients of mine, or are patients of other chiropractors, have heard me discuss this issue many times. I have told you, and provided independent evidence and research articles, that the risk of having a stroke following a chiropractic is about 1 in a million. Well… I was wrong. The risk is actually 1 in 5.85 million!

Let’s put that in perspective. According to the National Safety Council, your odds of dying from tripping or stumbling is 1 in 6,455. Yours odds of dying by accidental drowning in your bathtub is 1 in 9,377. Your odds of dying due to the ignition or melting of your nightwear is 1 in 538,523. Your odds of dying from a lightning strike is 1 in 81,949. However, a research paper published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal found there is only a 1 in 5,850,000 risk that a chiropractic neck adjustment will cause a stroke. This means that you are seventy times more likely to die from a lightning strike than you are likely to have a vascular event after manipulation.

New findings published recently in the prestigious medical research journal, Spine, found that patients are no more likely to suffer a stroke following a visit to a chiropractor than they would after stepping into their family doctor’s office. In fact, it mentioned that you are just as likely to suffer a stroke if you turn your head to check traffic while driving.

“We didn’t see any increased association between chiropractic care and usual family physician care, and the stroke,” said Frank Silver, one of the researchers and also a professor of medicine at the University of Toronto and director of the University Health Network stroke program. “The association occurs because patients tend to seek care when they’re having neck pain or headache, and sometimes they go to a chiropractor, sometimes they go to a physician. But we didn’t see an increased likelihood of them having this type of stroke after seeing a chiropractor.” The conclusions of the report basically state that the stroke or damaged artery has most likely already occurred… that’s why the patient sought treatment with the physician.

Well, I thought this was going to be a short little blurb. Sorry, I’ve run on too long. I just want to reiterate the importance of putting things in perspective. “News” stories and stuff on the television are driven by money, and the billion$ being spent on advertising. Do your own research, think for yourself, and you’ll be able to see through many of the myths that are being fed to you through the media.

Posted in General Back Pain, General Chiropractic, General Health, Headaches, Neck Pain, Other Pain Conditions | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Nutrition For Neck and Back Pain

Posted by Dr. Gray on Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Estimates show that between 5 percent and 10 percent of the U.S. population uses nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for pain relief. While NSAIDs are effective in treating both acute and chronic pain, they also may cause a myriad of complications, ranging from headaches and stomach ulcers to dizziness, constipation and diarrhea. A new study indicates that omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil may be just as effective as NSAIDs in treating pain, without causing the same side effects.

In this study, scientists evaluated 250 patients who were suffering from nonsurgical neck pain or back pain, and who were taking NSAIDs for pain relief. The patients were asked to take 2,400 milligrams of omega-3 supplements per day for two weeks, and then to reduce the dosage to 1,200 milligrams daily. Approximately one month after starting supplementation, the patients were mailed a questionnaire asking them to document
their level of pain, use of NSAIDs, and any side effects caused by the supplements.

One hundred twenty-five patients returned the questionnaire, an average of 75 days after taking the supplements. Seventy-eight percent were taking 1,200 milligrams of omega-3s; the remainder had continued taking 2,400 milligrams. More than half of the patients (59 percent) reported they had discontinued using NSAIDs for pain control; 60 percent said their overall pain levels had improved; and 80 percent stated that they were
satisfied with the improvement in pain. No adverse side effects were reported.

As the results of this study show, omega-3 fatty acids appear just as effective as NSAIDs, if not more so, in relieving certain kinds of neck and back pain. That said, there is no better form of natural back pain relief than an adjustment from your local doctor of chiropractic. If you suffer from neck or back pain, make an appointment with your DC today; they will find the source of your pain and treat you accordingly — and they might even recommend some omega-3s.

Maroon JC, Bost JW. Omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil) as an anti-inflammatory: an alternative to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for discogenic pain. Surgical Neurology, April 2006;65(4):326-331.

Posted in Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, General Back Pain, General Chiropractic, General Health, Headaches, Herniated/"Slipped" Discs, Low Back Pain, Neck Pain, Nutrition, Other Pain Conditions, Prescription Medicines | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

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