Tag Archives: Low Back Pain

Chiropractic Care During Pregnancy: The Webster Technique

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Chiropractic care works to correct misalignments in various areas of the body. When misaligned, these structures can create an imbalance in the surrounding muscles and ligaments, and can also impair the body’s ability to function optimally. Misalignments can occur at any time but are especially common during pregnancy due to the changes that occur in the mother’s body.

Is Chiropractic Safe During Pregnancy?

Not only is it safe to be adjusted during pregnancy, I can’t think of a time when you’ll need it more! After having my first child, I found it hard to believe that every women wasn’t in to see her chiropractor before and after the baby arrived.

The changes that take place in the body while carrying a baby can make pregnancy less than comfortable at times (or very uncomfortable!). Even if you feel great throughout, you can benefit from chiropractic care during your pregnancy. The increase in hormones, weight gain and postural adaptations that take place mean that misalignments are more common than usual. Not only is it beneficial to be treated during pregnancy, it will make you feel great. There’s no better time to put your feet up, enjoy the pregnancy pillows and let yourself be taken care of. Adjustments are extremely gentle and should be comfortable.

Chiropractic treatment is safe during all phases of pregnancy. Chiropractors are not only trained to treat pregnant women and new mothers, many also take additional courses as an area of specialization. Investing in the routine care and wellness of women who are pregnant, trying to conceive or have recently had a child is a key part of practice.

The Webster Technique

A gentle, specific sacral adjustment called the Webster Technique can help to improve the mother’s pelvic alignment and reduce the effects of joint dysfunction during pregnancy. This can help to restore balance in the pelvic muscles and ligaments and reduce torsion to the uterus.

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During pregnancy, misalignment can lead to dystocia (difficult labour). This can occur because of interference on the pelvic nerve, as well as pelvic misalignment and tense muscles and ligaments. When the pelvic is misaligned, its proper movement may be affected – and this can restrict the amount of space the baby has. When proper mechanics are restored, the amount of space the developing baby has can also improve.

It is also common to experience low back pain, headaches and other joint complaints during a healthy pregnancy. Chiropractic treatment can help to reduce pain, improve mechanics and help to prevent pain and postural changes from becoming chronic. Regular adjustments during pregnancy have also been shown to result in shorter labour times, less pain labour and to reduce the need for pain medications. Other complaints like sciatica, rib pain and restless leg syndrome may also benefit from treatment.

After delivery, chiropractic care can help new mothers to become more comfortable during breast feeding and help with the postural adaptations that take place caring for a new baby.

Both myself, as well as Dr. Armstrong have been trained in the Webster protocol and given a Certificate of Proficiency by the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association.

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When Should I See A Chiropractor?

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Sometimes, the answer is obvious. It’s easy to know that you need help when you have pain that is a 10/10. If you can’t put on your own socks without help or can’t stand up without discomfort, it’s probably time to book an appointment.

During acute episodes, it’s not usually a case of should I book an appointment but how soon can I get in?! Other times, it can be harder to judge. It’s pretty tough to ignore sharp, shooting pain that doesn’t go away – but stiff, achy pain can get pushed to the side.For people recovering from injury or dealing with more chronic complaints, the warning signs can be more subtle in nature and can be missed because their pain is not “as bad.”

If you suffered an acute injury in the past, you may wonder if the pain you’re having now is just a one-time thing or the return of something worse. So how do you know if you should get checked out? If you suffer a new injury, the sooner you get in, the better.

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For pain that is not associated with a trauma or injury, you’ll typically want to get it checked if it lasts more than two days. It helps to consider function. If you find that aches and pains are keeping you from sleeping well, or from sitting or walking, or participating in activities you enjoy, it is a good idea to have it looked at. For athletes, they may come in with the goal of enhancing their performance, rather than for a specific complaint.

The bottom line: Do not wait if your pain is getting worse, not better. If you are experiencing numbness or tingling or pain that travels into your legs or arms, don’t ignore it.

Other symptoms such as chest pain or dizziness need to be evaluated immediately.

Why Treat Your Car Better Than Your Body?

When your check engine light comes on, you don’t just ignore it – it’s pretty widely accepted that waiting until your car quits on the highway is not recommended.

Our bodies aren’t any different. Actually, we should take even better care of our bodies because it’s much harder to find a replacement.

It is much easier to get a quick tune-up every now and then when things aren’t functioning properly (it’s also a lot cheaper!) Don’t wait until your “engine” needs an overhaul.

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It’s a myth that once you see a chiropractor, you have to keep going. And not everyone wants maintenance care when things are going well. But there is also middle ground between crisis care and wellness type adjustments. Minor problems can lead to big changes and it’s much more comfortable and quicker to catch small changes before they progress. Regardless of the type of program you choose, one of the benefits of manual therapy is that you become aware of your own body – many people start to know when things aren’t right or when they are due for a treatment. You may feel like something is “off,” tight or unbalanced. Achy pain that isn’t going away, limited movement or “twinges” of pain that keep happening are your warning signs that something isn’t right.

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WHAT CHIROPRACTORS REALLY DO.

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So, You’re a Chiropractor…..

It’s true, my profession can be a confusing one. Not everyone knows what I do all day. Some people have never been to a chiropractor – so what they imagine I do is the reason they are hesitant to see a chiropractor. Rest assured, these myths have little to do with chiropractic. More often than not, what we usually hear from patients is: why didn’t I come in to see you sooner!

Very simply, my job is to make you feel better. That’s why I love my job. Whether it’s a reduction in pain, fewer headaches, improved function, better sports performance or preventative care, it’s so rewarding when patients leave our office feeling better.

Chiropractic is a hands-on health profession (a type of manual medicine) that focuses on the musculoskeletal system. This means that I treat the muscles and joints, while having an effect on the nerves that supply the body. The body instinctively knows what it needs, it’s my job is to remove any interference and to help that happen a little easier. I don’t heal people but I do help speed up the body’s natural healing.

It’s Not Just Backs

Muscles and joints mean more than just low backs. Yes, I treat low back pain – a lot of it! Actually, the Journal of the American Medical Association now recommends chiropractic as a first means in treating low back pain: (http://fox2now.com/2014/07/14/jama-recommends-chiropractic-as-first-means-of-back-pain-treatment/) But I also treat headaches, shoulder complaints, sports injuries, concussions, knee injuries and issues with the joints and muscles in the body. The variety of conditions that I treat ensures that my day is never boring. Not knowing what’s walking through the door keeps me on my toes!

I often get asked if treatment will hurt. Do you really think people would keep coming to me if I hurt them? Not a chance. People may come to me already feeling sore, but every effort is made to work within their comfort zone and ensure that they leave our office feeling better than when they arrived.

What Do Chiropractors Do?

Diagnose as well as treat patients. This means that it is our job to identify the source of your complaint, not just treat the symptoms. Finding out the root cause and tracing things back to the origin of the problem. If I cannot determine the source of your complaint or you need advanced imaging, or to see a specialist, I will work with you and help to refer you to someone who can identify the root of the problem and get you the treatment you need.

Team Work

People often ask me about other health care professions and if we “get along.” To me, it’s not an either-or situation: it’s not chiropractic vs. medicine or physiotherapy. Chiropractic is amazing and so are the other specialties! There are times when another technique might be able to help you too, or help you better, or sometimes it’s the combination of both. Every patient is different and so is every complaint. That means that you should have your own treatment plan, specially designed for you.

This is one of the reasons that I use a variety of techniques in practice. Treatments may involve joint work, which can include anything from gently moving the joint (mobilizing) to adjusting. This simply involves restoring the joint’s normal movement if it’s become affected. I am also trained in medical acupuncture and active release technique, a specialized soft-tissue technique popular among athletes and other individuals. I regularly use laser or interferential current, or sometimes ultrasound, as well as taping and rehabilitative exercises.

To get you better when there is an ongoing complaint, we need to identify and break the pattern that started your problem in the first place. If there is a poor movement pattern, an overused muscle, or weakness in a certain area, I’ll help you to identify the culprit(s) and return to proper function so the problem doesn’t keep repeating itself. Prevention is one of the unique things about chiropractic: you don’t have to wait until you’re experiencing 10/10 pain intensity to benefit from treatment.

Whether it’s your physician, massage therapist, physiotherapist or another practitioner, it is part of my job to communicate with the other professionals you are seeing to get you the best results possible. In our office, we work together and collaborate to give you the best selection of services to meet your needs. It isn’t an accident that a particular group of health care professionals decided to work together in the same office. The days of one profession versus another are over, we do what’s best for the patient. Period.

How Do We Do It?

Chiropractors are required to complete their undergraduate education at university, followed by 4 years of extensive courses in the systems of the body, as well as hands-on practical training. In comparison with medical school, it’s just as many class hours and years spent training. In some cases, it’s more. What this means is that you should know you’re in good hands when you come in my office. (Pun intended).

I am not a medical doctor, but I did earn the title “Dr.” Just like my colleagues who are dentists, or physicians. Under the Regulated Health Professionals Act, five regulated professions are authorized to use the title in Ontario: chiropractors, dentists, optometrists, physicians and psychologists, and I’m proud to be a part of this group.

One of Life’s “Aha” Moments

With a sister who is also a chiropractor and another who is a nurse, I’m often asked what my parents do. The answer: nothing in health care. It wasn’t until last year when speaking with a colleague that I saw the connection and the light bulb turned on. When I asked him how he’d describe his career after more than 25 years in practice, he said quite simply that it’s like being a body mechanic. A mechanic is defined as “relating to a manual skill; a person who repairs things and keeps them running properly.” I absolutely love problem solving and fixing things so this definition fits pretty well. Being that my dad was an automobile mechanic by trade, I guess I come by this profession honestly.

Just like your car, you might need a tune-up sometimes. Or more extensive work when something isn’t running properly. Even if it’s just for a checkup to make sure everything is working okay. Your body doesn’t deserve less care than your car. Here’s why:

  1. Health is our most valuable possession;
  2. It’s a lot easier to replace a damaged car than a damaged body.

Take care of yourself and don’t hesitate to get checked out by your health professional on those days when things are less than perfect!

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Is Chiropractic Care Safe For Expectant Moms?

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Pre- and Post-natal Care and the Webster Technique

Chiropractic care benefits all aspects of your body’s ability to be healthy. When misaligned, pelvic and spinal dysfunction can result, which can create imbalances in the surrounding muscles and ligaments. All of this can affect the body’s ability to function optimally.

Over 50% of all pregnant women experience back pain and approximately 75% of women report back pain during labour but some are reluctant to seek treatment. Chiropractic care is a safe, comfortable and effective treatment during pregnancy.

The Webster technique is a specific chiropractic analysis and gentle adjustment technique that can be used on all populations, not just pregnant women. The goal of the adjustment is to reduce the effects of joint dysfunction in the pelvis. In doing so, optimal movement and function of the pelvis and surrounding structures can be restored. Common symptoms that can be relieved with chiropractic treatment during pregnancy are: low back pain, sciatica and joint dysfunction.

In some women, pelvic dysfunction can contribute to difficult labour for the mother (commonly known as dystocia). Dystocia can be caused by inadequate uterine nerve function, pelvic contraction, and baby mis-presentation (breech positioning). Correction of joint dysfunction and pelvic misalignment may have a positive effect on all these causes of dystocia by addressing the tightening and torsion of specific pelvic muscles and ligaments.

Obstetric literature has determined the importance of normal pelvic biomechanics for the prevention of dystocia and difficulty during labour. The adaptations that occur in the female body during pregnancy include the increase of hormones, weight gain and postural adaptations. All of these result in pregnant mothers having a greater chance of sacral dysfunction and biomechanical imbalance than the general population. These can easily be corrected safely and comfortably throughout pregnancy and following labour.

Gentle chiropractic techniques can also be used effectively in the care of children but that’s a topic for another day – to be covered later.

For more on the Webster technique, check out the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association website: (http://icpa4kids.com/about/webster_technique.htm)

 

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Why Combine Soft Tissue Therapy and Chiropractic?

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The joints in the body are sites for muscle attachment – and joint motion can be affected by the muscles that act on them. For many patients, the most effective approach is one that includes both soft tissue treatment and chiropractic. A combined approach to treatment allows both the soft tissues and joints to be addressed. Since both muscles and joints play a role in headaches and other pain conditions, patients often recover faster, experience more long-lasting results and less pain overall with a combined treatment. 

When muscles are relaxed, they are usually pain-free and the joints that attach to them can move freely and glide smoothly without discomfort. This is an ideal scenario. However, muscles can become tight and contracted due to injury, repetitive overuse and stress. When this happens, the muscles contract and can limit the movement of surrounding joints, which can lead to pain and/or may limit function. 

How Does Treatment Help?

Soft tissue and chiropractic treatments can help to break this pattern of chronically tight, over-used muscles and joints that don’t move properly. When muscles are treated, they will relax and move more freely, and as a result, joint motion is returned to normal and any pressure on the nerves is relieved. 

I’m often asked “is it the muscle or the joint that’s affected?” Sometimes the answer is both.

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Preventing Low Back Pain …..the Core of the Matter.

Preventing Low Back Pain …..the Core of the Matter.

There’s a question I get asked a lot when recommending core strengthening to my low back pain patients: “Why are you telling me to work on my core, when it’s my back that hurts?” More often than not, people expect to be given exercises that strengthen the back directly because that’s where their pain is. So why is working on the “front” important and how does it help to prevent future episodes of low back pain?

When we talk about back pain, we have to talk about spinal stability. Before pain happens, there is often a dysfunctional movement pattern present and the result is instability, which leads to pain. For the spine to function efficiently, it needs to be able to bear loads – but it also needs to be flexible enough to allow movement, while remaining secure enough to avoid pain and injury. The repetition of our daily activities and sedentary nature of many of our jobs can interrupt this delicate balance and the result is instability. In order to prevent this, we need to ensure that the muscles surrounding the spine are coordinated and follow a proper pattern of contraction (e.g. abdominal and extensor muscle groups).

Spinal stability and motor control become compromised if muscles are activated improperly. When certain muscle groups aren’t functioning properly, the result is that the surrounding structures have to work harder and take on more of the stress/load and this often results in pain.

The solution? We need to re-activate certain muscles so we can restore proper patterns of movement. Don’t worry, it’s not as painful as it sounds! The key here is not to use just any assortment of core exercises – because with some exercises, we end up adding more compressive load to our spines and can end up making our low back pain worse. It’s important to choose exercises that involve a neutral spine. Here are my favourites:

Exercise 1: The Plank

For core strength and stability. When you’ve mastered this one, you can even add alternating leg raises. But don’t let your pelvis shift or sag in the middle… that’s cheating!

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Exercise 2: Side Bridge

Used to train the lateral musculature. When you get to be a real pro, try going from the forward plank directly into the side plank!

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Exercise 3: The Bird Dog

Used to train and improve endurance of the low back muscles.

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Exercise 4: The Crunch

To improve abdominal strength. This is NOT a sit-up! If it helps, think of it as a “sternal crunch.” The chin stays tucked while the spine is straight and shoulders are raised slightly off the floor. (For more on traditional sit-ups and why they aren’t recommended for those with low back pain, go to:http://www2.macleans.ca/2010/01/19/the-man-who-wants-to-kill-crunches/).

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Exercise 5: Dead Bug.

When you’ve mastered the crunch, it’s time to try out the dead bug. Look out lower abs!

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McGill, S. Designing Back Exercise: from Rehabilitation to Enhancing Performance. 2010: 1-12.

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Why Combine Chiropractic & Acupuncture Treatments?

Why Combine Chiropractic & Acupuncture Treatments?

In many cases, the combination of acupuncture with chiropractic treatments and other types of manual therapy helps to get patients better faster. The big question is why? We know that more treatment isn’t necessarily better.

So why do I recommend combining acupuncture with hands-on treatment? This combination is effective is at least in part, because it allows us to address two systems at once. Chiropractic adjustments and/or manual therapy work mainly at the local (nearby) level of the tissue, while acupuncture achieves its benefits on a more systemic/whole system level.

Effects of Chiropractic Treatment: LOCAL

  • Reduces pain and restores proper motion within affected areas.
  • Nerves and nerve bundles are soft tissue and can become irritated under physical pressure, such as inflammation, a bulging disc, “stuck” joint, etc. Adjustments can help to relieve this.
  • Capsules of facet joints (the joints between two vertebrae) are very sensitive to pain and can become sore if they have become entrapped or “stuck.” Hands-on treatment helps to fix this problem.
  • Facilitates muscle strength and helps to correct dysfunctional movement patterns.
  • Triggers the release of endorphins, which act like natural painkillers, which results in relaxation of nearby tissues and trigger points.
  • Cartilage and other structures inside of a joint receive their blood supply and nutrients through motion (since the blood supply goes to the outside of the joint). If a joint becomes “locked up” by muscle spasm, scar tissue or by other means for a prolonged time, it begins to feel stiff. Manipulation and/or mobilization of the joint helps to move the synovial fluid around, thus providing fresh nutrients to all parts of the joint, as well as removing waste and easing the feeling of stiffness.

Effects of Acupuncture: WHOLE BODY

There is a relationship between acupuncture points and known neural structures in the body, i.e. specific points where nerves interact with the spinal cord and/or meet muscles and tendons and other structures. This interaction is what allows acupuncture to work so effectively.

  • Scientific evidence supports the idea that acupuncture needling induces a chain of events that results in the release of neurotransmitters and neuro-hormones into various parts of the nervous system.
  • This results in widespread and measurable effects on pain relief.
  • Stimulates the release of endorphins, the body’s self-made natural painkillers.
  • Affects the hormonal system by promoting a decrease in inflammation, which helps to promote healing and facilitates pain relief.

Whether you view acupuncture from a traditional understanding or from a more modern medical perspective, it creates balance in the body (also known as homeostasis) while encouraging healing and pain relief.

So the next time you have a sports injury, headache, another type of pain-related complaint, or want to ease the stress of our repetitive daily activities, give the combo a try!

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