Comox Valley Chiropractor – Tips for your Health

Health tips from your Comox Valley Chiropractor

Cardiovascular Safety of Pain Meds Questioned February 7, 2011

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A meta-analysis recently published in the British Medical Journal questions the safety of common pain medications.  This article, which can be found here, analyzed 31 trials which contained 116,429 patients with more than 115,000 patient years of follow-up. These trials compared one type of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication (NSAID) to another, or to placebo. They looked for outcomes such as heart attack, stroke or death from cardiovascular disease.

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They concluded that “little evidence exists to suggest that any of the investigated drugs are safe in cardiovascular terms. Naproxen seemed least harmful.” Vioxx and Prexige had the highest risk of heart attack, while ibuprofen and diclofenac showed the highest risk of stroke.

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It should make us take pause that one of the most common over the counter pain medications (ibuprofen) was associated with a 3-times higher risk of stroke when compared to placebo. We need to start educating ourselves on the real risks associated with quick-fixes for pain, and start looking to treat the cause of our pain and not just the symptoms. Manual therapies such as chiropractic are a drug-free, non-surgical, safe and effective option.

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The CBC has a somewhat-simplistic but interactive comparison of the 3 major over the counter pain relievers here.

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Dr. Debbie Wright is a practicing Courtenay Chiropractor.

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Chiropractic Care as Pain Management for Mesothelioma Patients September 26, 2009

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Chiropractic care is often sought as a form of alternative medicine and complementary care to coincide with traditional medical treatments. Many cancer patients even elect to visit a chiropractor as part of their treatment regimen.

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According to the Canadian Chiropractic Association, chiropractic doctors have a deep respect for the human body’s ability to heal itself without the use of surgery or medication. These doctors devote careful attention to the biomechanics, structure and function of the spine, its effects on the musculoskeletal and neurological systems, and the role played by the proper function of these systems in the preservation and restoration of health. A doctor of chiropractic is one who is involved in the treatment and prevention of disease, as well as the promotion of public health, and a wellness approach to patient care.

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Cancer patients have included chiropractic care in their course of treatment to help control pain and alleviate headaches, tension and stress. Patients interested in alternative treatment, who strongly believe in the body’s ability to heal itself, may find chiropractic care particularly appealing. Alleviating severe headaches and movement pains during cancer treatment may make the treatment process more comfortable for cancer patients, including those battling mesothelioma.

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Mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive type of cancer that develops in the mesothelial cells that make up the lining of the lungs, heart and abdomen. The primary cause of meosthelioma is exposure to a naturally occurring mineral known as asbestos. Mesothelioma is often difficult to treat as it is typically not diagnosed until it has reached later stages.

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A study published in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics examined the case of a 54-year-old man diagnosed with lung cancer (a cancer often related to asbestos exposure). He began seeing a chiropractor after experiencing very little pain relief one year after he underwent surgery to fight his cancer. The man experienced pain relief immediately after beginning chiropractic care and discontinued use of all pain medications after two visits to his chiropractor.

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This case study provides a perfect example of how all types of health care practitioners can work together to ensure the best outcome for the patient – the main goal of any health care system.

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Dr. Debbie Wright is a practicing Courtenay Chiropractor.

 

Chiropractors Can Help Your Lower Limbs! August 31, 2009

While most people out there think of Chiropractors as spine doctors, with the occasional headache thrown in for good measure, you may be surprised to know that up to 20% of our practice is comprised of extremity problems. By extremity, I mean anything in your arm or leg – your shoulder, knee, baby toe etc. etc.

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An article in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics reviewed all the research concerning chiropractic treatment of lower extremity conditions. What they found is that chiropractors have a big bag of tricks to deal with lower limb conditions – including manipulation, soft tissue therapy, exercise therapy and modalities such as laser and ultrasound.

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While there was not a huge number of studies done on this subject, the authors did find enough good evidence to state that chiropractors can be confident in using these methods to effectively treat lower limb conditions.

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What that means for the patient is that chiropractic care is another effective way of dealing with any lower extremity condition you may have, whether its achilles tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, knee osteoarthritis or IT band issues. Often time my patients will start an office visit with “You probably can’t do anything, but my <insert lower limb part here> is giving me problems”. They usually leave very satisfied with the results of treatment.

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What this means for chiropractors is that we need to do a better job of educating our patients about our wide range of skills, and all the different ways we can help them.

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Dr. Debbie Wright is a practicing Comox Valley Chiropractor.

 

Exercise for Chronic Pain August 10, 2009

For years research has been conducted into the benefits of exercise for chronic low back and neck pain. Even though we know exercise is good for us, we don’t really know a lot about how it is prescribed in real-life situations (practice).  Recently, a large survey was done of 2700 people who reported having chronic neck or low back pain. The results are published in an article in Arthritis & Rheumatism.

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Of these 2700 people, 48% had been prescribed exercise after visiting a physical therapist, chiropractor of family doctor in the past year. 33% of all people who visited a chiropractor were prescribed exercise for their pain, compared to 64% of PT patients and 14% of MD patients. Overall, the type of provider, as opposed to any characteristics of the patient was the greatest predictor of exercise prescription.

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With chiropractic specifically in this instance, the rate of exercise prescription seemed to increase with number of visits. This supports the common practice pattern of reducing pain and increasing function before commencing rehabilitation.

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This is a huge wake up call to all health care providers – exercise was prescribed to less than half the patients with chronic back pain, even though we know it is one of the most effective forms of treatment. We need to make sure we are getting our patients active, and helping them to stay that way!

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Dr. Debbie Wright is a practicing Comox Valley Chiropractor.

 

Exercises for Knee Arthritis May 29, 2009

Osteoarthritis is the most common type of joint problem worldwide, with knee arthritis being the most prevalent. The chances of getting knee arthritis increase with age, weight, previous injury or heredity. There is mixed evidence to support various types of knee rehabilitation for osteoarthritis sufferers. A study in the Journal of Back and Musculoskeletal Rehabilitation set out to compare strength training to balance training in managing knee arthritis.

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At the beginning of the study, there were no differences between the 2 groups of participants. One group performed only strength training exercises, while the other group performed a combination of strength and balance exercises. Based on various outcome measures such as pain, disability, stiffness, depression and physical function; the balance group performed significantly better after one year.

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This study suggests that it is important to ensure that any rehabilitation program for knee arthritis should include simple balance exercises. Some of the exercises used in the study are as follows:

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  • 25 m backwards walk
  • 25 m heel walk
  • 25 m toe walk
  • 25 m eyes closed walk
  • 30-second one-legged stand (with leaning in all directions with eyes open and closed)
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Dr. Debbie Wright is a practicing Comox Valley Chiropractor.

 

Chiropractic Care for Neck Pain – Is it Safe? May 13, 2009

A current study published in Spine set out to determine the relationship between benign adverse events (reactions to treatment) and outcomes (neck pain and disability, perceived improvement) in a group of people who received chiropractic care for their neck pain.

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529 patients participated in the study. 56% of the participants reported an adverse event during the first 3 treatments, and only 13% graded it as “intense”. Muscle or joint pain events were the most common types reported, and none of the events were considered serious.

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The researchers found that if someone reported an “intense” adverse event during any one of the first 3 visits, they were less likely to report recovery on the fourth visit. What is interesting about this is that they didn’t have significantly more neck pain or disability than those who didn’t experience an adverse event.

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At a follow-up 3 months later, those who had “intense” adverse events experienced the same recovery and pain reduction as those who didn’t have any adverse events.

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The bottom line here is that even if someone reports an adverse event or reaction after treatment, it did not negatively affect their outcomes or recovery at 3 months. Moreover, it was only those who had an “intense” adverse events that reported less recovery in the short term (13% of participants).

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It is also important to note that out of 4,891 treatments, no serious adverse events occurred. This adds validity to the current view that “the benefits of chiropractic care for neck pain seem to outweigh the potential risks.”

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Dr. Debbie Wright is a practicing Comox Valley Chiropractor.

 

Easing Chronic Muscle Pain – What works? April 29, 2009

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Myofascial Pain Syndrome can be defined as chronic muscle pain. This pain originates around certain points of pain and sensitivity in your muscles called trigger points. A recent study was published in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics that sought to identify and review the most common treatments for myofascial pain syndrome.

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This study identified many different types of treatment used, and some of them are as follows:

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  • Spray and Stretch – vapo-coolant spray followed by muscle stretch
  • Soft Tissue Massage
  • Ischemic Compression – compressing the trigger point in the muscle
  • Occipital Release Exercises – a form of massage and mobilization for the occiput (base of skull)
  • Strain/Counter-strain – stretching a muscle and then having the patient contract that muscle
  • Myofascial Release – compressing and tensioning the trigger point while stretching the muscle through its full range
  • Chiropractic Spinal Adjustments
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Immediate (after treatment) benefits were demonstrated with the chiropractic adjustments, spray and stretch, compression, massage and strain/counter-strain. The authors therefore concluded that there is moderately strong evidence to support the use of these manual therapies for the treatment of trigger point pain. These treatments, however, didn’t show as strong benefits as long term solutions.

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Recommendations for other types of treatment for trigger points and myofascial pain syndrome can be drawn from this review.  They are as follows:

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  • There is strong evidence that laser therapy is effective.
  • There is moderately strong evidence that electrical therapy is effective on a short term basis.
  • There is moderately strong evidence that acupuncture is effective for up to 3 months after treatment.
  • There is limited evidence for modalities such as muscle stimulation, interferential current, an other such stims.
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Dr. Debbie Wright is a practicing Comox Valley Chiropractor.