Back Pain Is Common During Pregnancy
Many women experience lower back pain while pregnant. In fact, studies show that more than half of pregnant women report back pain at some point during their pregnancy.
A recent study found that for many women, pregnancy is the first time they have experienced back pain. The authors state,
“The incidence of low back pain with an onset during pregnancy has been reported to be 61%. It has been shown that among women with low back pain of pregnancy, 75% reported no low back pain before pregnancy. In a study of women with chronic low back pain, up to 28% stated that their first episode of back pain occurred during a pregnancy.”
Studying Chiropractic Treatment for Back Pain
Chiropractic treatments may be beneficial for women who experience back pain during pregnancy. Researchers recently studied 17 pregnant women with lower back pain. The pain lasted an average of 21.7 days, and was rated an average of 5.9 on a scale of 1 to 10. The pain began an average of 20.6 weeks into the pregnancy. Each participant underwent chiropractic treatments individualized to their reported symptoms. The authors found that:
- About half of the women referred themselves for treatment, while the other half were referred by their obstetrician.
- It took an average of 4.5 days for the women to achieve clinically significant pain relief. The range was 0 to 13 days following the first treatment session.
- An average of 1.8 treatments were needed to reach clinically significant pain relief.
- Average pain levels decreased from 5.9 to 1.5 at the conclusion of the study.
- Patients received 3 to 15 treatments, with an average of 5.6.
- One participant of the 17 women involved did not experience clinically significant pain reduction during the study.
- None of the women reported negative reactions to the adjustments.
Lower back pain during pregnancy can detrimentally impact women's overall health. The study authors explain:
“In most instances, the average pain level is moderate, but severe pain has been reported in 15% of cases. Pain intensity often increases with duration and can result in significant disability. Sleep disturbances have been reported by 49% to 58% of women and impaired daily living by 57% in women with low back pain of pregnancy.”
However, many women do not report their back pain to their doctor, and it goes untreated. A previous study found that "just 32% of women reported their low back pain of pregnancy to their prenatal providers, and just 25% of these providers recommended a treatment.” Other research has found that "among women with low back pain of pregnancy, 80% thought that their providers had not offered treatment for their back pain.”
Chiropractic May Help You
If you're experiencing back pain as a pregnant woman, it's important to know you don't have to suffer through the pain. This research demonstrates that chiropractic care is an effective, safe way to reduce low-back pain during pregnancy.
Lisi AJ. Chiropractic spinal manipulation for low back pain of pregnancy: a retrospective case series. Journal of Midwifery & Women’s Health 2006;51:e7-e10.
Many athletes utilize chiropractic treatments following an injury or a strenuous workout. New research suggests that athletes could also boost their athletic performance through chiropractic adjustments.
The study involved 18 professional Brazilian judo athletes. Half received chiropractic adjustments to their cervical spine, located in the neck. The other half received a placebo treatment. Researchers examined the effect of the treatment by evaluating the athletes' grip strength, because judo relies heavily on muscle forces in the hands and arms.
The researchers measured grip strength before and after each cervical spinal manipulation. Following just three treatment sessions, the athletes in the chiropractic group had an overall improvement in grip strength of 10% on the left side and 16% on the right side, which is considered statistically significant. The placebo group did not experience significant improvements in grip strength. After analyzing the data, the researchers concluded that the chiropractic care enhanced grip strength in judo athletes.
Additional research is needed to fully understand the benefits of chiropractic care for athletes, though this study shows exciting results. In 2010, another study showed chiropractic sports interventions substantially reduces the risk of lower-limb injuries among football players. Chiropractic care offers a number of potential benefits for athletes, including injury prevention, enhanced recovery, and improved peak performance.
Botelho, Marcelo and Bruno Andrade. “Effect of Cervical Spine Manipulative Therapy on Judo Athletes’ Grip Strength. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapies. 2011; 35(11): 38-44.
Hoskins W, Pollard H. The effect of a sports chiropractic manual therapy intervention on the prevention of back pain, hamstring and lower limb injuries in semi-elite Australian Rules footballers: a randomized control trial. BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2010;11:64.
Housework Riskier Than Sports?
Knee osteoarthritis appears to be linked to a lifetime of stress placed on the knees. The first study to estimate the cumulative effects of various activities on the knees has linked housework – but not recreational sports – to the painful condition.
The authors conclude that physical activity in the form of sports is safe, and does not increase the risk of developing knee arthritis. However, heavy-lifting housework could be partially to blame for the rising prevalence of knee arthritis. With new cases nearly doubling in the past two decades, researchers are eager to pinpoint the causes of knee arthritis.
The study involved a questionnaire asking patients about whether they had been diagnosed with knee arthritis, as well as their occupational and recreational history. While previous studies have examined the impact of manual labor occupations on the risk of knee arthritis, this study placed emphasis on the kneeling, lifting, stair climbing, and squatting actions common with housework.
Who Has Highest Risk?
Both men and women who scored in the highest category of total lifetime knee stress were significantly more likely than others to be diagnosed with knee osteoarthritis. However, estimated force on the knees due to sports activity was not seen as a significant factor. The authors conclude that encouraging physical activity does not create an unnecessarily risk for the knees.
Chiropractic May Help
Ratzlaff CR, et al. Is lifelong knee joint force from work, home, and sport related to knee osteoarthritis? International Journal of Rheumatology 2012;v.2012 ( 584193): doi: 10.1155/2012/584193.
There's the old lyrics, "Don't Worry, Be Happy."
Well, new research shows that worry actually speeds aging by degrading and modifying DNA.
Harvard researchers looked at 5,243 women and found that those with high phobic anxiety were more likely to have shorter telomeres.
The women with high anxiety had DNA damage similar to being six years older than their actual age!
"Many people wonder about whether—and how—stress can make us age faster," said Olivia Okereke, MD, MS, BWH Department of Psychiatry, study author. "So, this study is notable for showing a connection between a common form of psychological stress—phobic anxiety—and a plausible mechanism for premature aging. However, this type of study design cannot prove cause-and-effect or which problem came first—the anxiety or shorter telomeres."
In this age of mobile devices and smartphones, more and more patients are being diagnosed with neck pain associated with looking down at a screen. Studies have shown that young people are at increased risk of back and neck pain due to overuse of devices. Now, a new condition, dubbed "text neck," is being found in smartphone-users of all ages, resulting in serious stiffness, strain, and pain in the neck muscles and cervical spine.
Americans send an average of around 2.19 trillion text messages every year, meaning that text neck has the potential of afflicting millions of people.
The condition is relatively new, and as Forbes reports in their article, How Texting Can Give You a Permanent Pain in the Neck, "It takes time...for a new condition to spread throughout the medical community. Some doctors who have never heard of text neck don't think to ask patients with neck pain about their phone or computer habits."
However, investigators of worker's compensation claims are at the point that they look into the phone records of claimants with neck pain, and sometimes use their history of text messaging to get their compensation cases dismissed, attributing the neck pain to personal screen time rather than work.
There is no denying that a great number of people consider smartphones to be indispensable. And this overuse is causing what could be an epidemic of health problems into the future. A study published in the journal Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback found that an overwhelming majority of 83% of participants reported some hand and neck pain during texting. Researchers in this study also found that people sending texts displayed other classic signs of tension, such as increased heart rates and holding their breath. Even when they said they were relaxed, they had signs of tension.
If you text or play games on your smartphone, you know that it is easy to get into the habit of holding your head forward-and-down while typing on it. Another study conducted at the Center for Musculoskeletal Research found that 90% of people flexed their necks while texting, defined as bending the neck forward over 10 degrees past neutral alignment. In this study, it was discovered that the more texting that participants did, the worse their risk of neck or shoulder pain.
Especially susceptible to text neck are those of us who not only spend some of our leisure time on smartphones, but also spend much of our working time sitting at computers. All these hours spent in a flexed posture can add up to 30 pounds of extra weight on the upper vertebrae, straining the trapezius muscles and pulling the spine out of alignment over time.
Researchers are also finding that people over age 50 are more at risk of developing text neck. According to physical therapist Rob Worth, in an interview with Forbes, "People in their 50s and 60s have less tissue tolerance. Overuse injuries (like text neck) don't heal as quickly."
However, Worth said that young people are also at risk of permanent problems from text neck. He suggested that the stooped posture while typing on phones may freeze the position of the spine's alignment, and years down the road, we may see people who are permanently stooped because of it.
If you suspect you have text neck, talk to your health-care provider. Your chiropractor or physical therapist can help you determine if you're suffering from this ailment. These experts can also help design a treatment plan to relieve pain and regain range of motion, as well as advise you about preventing future injury. The following tips, summarized from the Forbes article, may help you avoid the risks of text neck:
- Hold your phone at a proper reading angle, rather than looking down. Your phone should be held directly in front of your mouth, a few inches across from your chin. Your eyes should look down rather than having to bend your neck down. Your shoulders should feel relaxed while you're typing.
- Use a text-dictation program if you have one. Hold the phone in front of your mouth.
- Set a timer and take breaks. Avoid prolonged phone use by taking regular breaks where you put your phone down and do something else.
- Build strength and range of motion. In your workout routine, include exercises and stretches that strengthen your neck, back extensors, rhomboids, and latissimus dorsi muscles. For some ideas, check out this blog post from researcher Dr. Erik Peper.
- Drink water and maintain hydration.
- Use other forms of communication. Try calling your family and friends or seeing them in person to chat.
Quilter D. How texting can give you a permanent pain in the neck. Forbes June 7, 2013. www.forbes.com.
Lin IM, Peper E. Psychophysicological patterns during cell phone text messaging: a preliminary study. Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback March 2009; 34(1): 53-57.
Gold JE, Griban JB, et al. Postures, typing strategies, and gender differences in mobile device usage: an observational study. Applied Ergonomics March 2012; 43(2): 408-412.
Peper E. Improve health with fun movements: practices you can do at home and at work. The Peper Perspective blog; February 2, 2013.
Study of Yoga and Total Knee Replacements
A recent study set out to determine whether yoga therapy can help alleviate pain in patients undergoing total knee-replacement surgery.
The study involved 51 patients undergoing total knee replacement (TKR) because of osteoarthritis. On the third day after surgery, baseline scores for pain and stiffness were taken. Half of the patients received conventional physiotherapy. The other half also received once-daily yoga asana treatment. Upon being discharged from the hospital, these patients were provided with photographs of the asanas and written instructions, and instructed to perform the movements 3 days per week.1
What Is an Asana?
Yoga asanas are functional postures involving slow stretching and movements of muscles and joints, and encourage different muscle groups to achieve stability and equilibrium. The purpose of the study was to determine whether yoga asanas have an added advantage for treating patients who have undergone total knee replacement.
Patients were evaluated at 6 weeks and 3 months after surgery to measure their perception of pain, stiffness, and function. The researchers found lower pain and stiffness reported by the group receiving yoga therapy than for patients receiving conventional therapy alone. They concluded that patients practicing yoga had better pain relief, reduced stiffness, and better function, suggesting that yoga asanas may be a valuable addition to conventional post-surgery treatments.
Other Ways to Reduce Knee Pain
Previous studies have recommended additional non-surgical approaches to reducing knee pain, particularly that resulting from osteoarthritis. Chiropractic adjustments have been shown to benefit patients with knee pain, who reported substantial drops in pain intensity and improvements in mobility, along with fewer clicking or grinding sensations within the knee.2 Weight loss has also been shown to alleviate chronic knee pain in obese patients.3 Consult with your doctor about relieving knee pain naturally.
- Bedekar N, Prabhu A, et al. Comparative study of conventional therapy and additional yogasanas for knee rehabilitation after total knee arthroplasty. International Journal of Yoga 2012; 5(2): 118-122.
- Pollard H, Ward G, Hoskins W, and Hardy K. The effect of a manual therapy knee protocol on osteoarthritic knee pain: a randomised controlled trial. The Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association 2008; 52(4):229-42.
- Richette P, Poitou C, Garnero P, Vicaut E, Bouillot JL, Lacorte JM, Basdevant A, Clement K, Bardin T, Chevalier X. Benefits of massive weight loss on symptoms, systemic inflammation and cartilage turnover in obese patients with knee osteoarthritis. Annals of the Rheumatic Disease 2011;70(1):139-44.
Aging can cause a number of aches, pains, and other health issues. For many older adults, the care delivered by chiropractors can be a critical strategy for preventing or managing pain. This includes not only spinal manipulations, but also therapeutic exercise, acupuncture, fall-prevention counseling, and nutritional advice.
According to a recent report, the services provided by chiropractic doctors can improve the overall health and quality of life of older patient. Chiropractors often utilize multiple treatment types in order to address the patient as a whole, rather than just the musculoskeletal symptoms. The report finds that when working with older patients, chiropractors must first evaluate any risks posed by the patient's age or health in order to choose the most effective strategy for the patient. It is also important for the chiropractor to discuss the patient's current symptoms along with preventive strategies in order to adequately meet the needs of the older patient.
A 2009 study found chiropractic care to be a safe, effective treatment for many conditions associated with aging, such as back, neck, and joint pain; dizziness; and pain caused by osteoarthritis, spinal degeneration, or scoliosis. And of course, regardless of the patient's age, chiropractic care offers more than just pain treatment.
Dougherty P, et al. The role of chiropractic care in older adults. Chiropractic & Manual Therapies 2012; 20(3): doi:10.1186/2045-709X-20-3.
How Vitamin D Can Help
Vitamin D supplements could prevent brittle bones but many older adults lack sufficient levels of the vitamin. In a recent survey of older adults who sustained fractures, 64% had deficient vitamin D levels and 90% had insufficient calcium levels.
High doses of vitamin D could be an important preventative measures for older adults, a new study suggests. In the study, high doses of vitamin D reduced the risk of hip fractures in older adults by 30% and lowered the risk non-vertebral fractures by 14%. The meta-analysis differed from previous studies because researchers examined the actual amount of vitamin D participants consumed rather than the amount they were assigned to take. Of the 31,022 adults surveyed, those who took at least 800 IU of vitamin D had the largest reduction in fractures.
Taking vitamin D supplements could improve bone and spinal health, regardless of age. Consult with a doctor to determine whether vitamin D supplementation make sense for you.
Bischoff-Ferrari H, et al. A pooled analysis of vitamin D dose requirements for fracture prevention. N Engl J of Med 2012; 367:40-49.
Photo by Bradley J via Creative Commons.
The pain of sciatica often drives patients to opt for surgery. But new research suggests that chiropractic treatment can be just as effective as surgery in some cases of sciatica. Spinal decompression surgery, also known as microdiscectomy, has proven to be effective for many people with sciatica. However, scientists questioned whether surgery was a necessary step in all cases.
That’s why researchers recently conducted a study to determine whether chiropractic was just as successful as surgery in treating sciatica. The study included 40 patients with sciatica who had a history of trying other treatment methods like painkillers, lifestyle changes, massage, and acupuncture but were still experiencing pain. Half of the patients were randomly assigned surgery and the other half was treated with chiropractic adjustments. 85% of participants in the surgery group saw significant improvements while 60% of participants in the chiropractic group clearly improved. Those in the chiropractic group who later decided to have surgery experienced the same rates of improvements as the initial surgery group.
Although chiropractic may not solve every sciatica case, it did prove effective for over half of the patients treated with chiropractic in this study. This led researchers to conclude that patients should seek chiropractic adjustments before opting for surgery. Avoid the potential risks of surgery by seeking chiropractic care for your sciatica.
McMorland G, Suter E, Casha S, du Plessis SJ, Hurlbert RJ. Manipulation or microdiskectomy for sciatica? A prospective randomized clinical study. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics. 2010; 33(8): 576-584.
Many patients with chronic back pain wonder how to keep the pain from becoming worse or returning. Research suggests that exercise may be the best way to prevent back pain.
The recent literature review involved an analysis of 20 studies testing various methods of preventing back pain such as exercise, stress management, ergonomic education, training in ergonomic lifting methods, lumbar-support back belts, shoe inserts, and programs to reduce lifting frequency at work. The authors of the review analyzed and compared the outcomes of each treatment.
Of the treatments analyzed, only exercise was shown to consistently produce substantial relief of back pain. Most of the exercise studies focused on methods of strengthening the abdominal and back muscles. Of the studies involving exercise intervention, 7 of 8 scientific studies concluded that exercise resulted in a statistically significant improvement in back pain. In one study, patients who exercised had 127 fewer sick days than those who were inactive.
Exercise is crucial component of chiropractic treatment. A doctor of chiropractic can show you how to perform safe exercises for reducing back pain.
Bigos S, Holland J, Holland C, Webster J, Battie, Malmgren J. High-quality controlled trials on preventing episodes of back problems: systematic literature review in working-age adults. The Spine Journal 2009; 9: 147-168.