Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: 3 Great Exercises!

Because carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is technically a tendonitis that happens to be near a nerve (the median nerve), one treatment option for CTS is to manage the tendonitis and by doing so, the pressure on the median nerve will resolve. Also, because the movement of the hand and wrist are controlled by opposite functioning muscles (that is, when we flex the wrist and fingers, the palm side tendons are doing the job and when we extend the wrist/fingers, the back of the forearm and hand tendons are doing the work), these opposite functioning actions need to be balanced. Moreover, if the muscles on one side of the forearm are tight and inflamed, very often so are the muscles on the opposite side.

Therefore, an exercise program for the forearm and hand should include BOTH sides, not just the flexor or palm side of the forearm/hand where the carpal tunnel is located.  Perform these exercises multiple times a day for 3-10 second hold times. You can modify #2 and #3 by NOT using the opposite hand to pull but rather, simply make the movement without the opposite hand assisting in the stretch. That way, you can perform BOTH at the same time IF your time is short (such as when performing these during a busy work day, for example).

1 Thumb Stretch A. Grab your thumb in a fist

B. Bend wrist down to feel the stretch in the thumb & wrist.

2 Carpal Stretch A. Place the palm flat on wall, fingers point down (elbow straight).

B. Reach across and pull the thumb back. Feel pull on palm side forearm.

3 Extensor Stretch A. Make a fist (elbow straight).

B. Reach under and pull back on the fist. Feel the pull on the top forearm.

Feel for the stretch where the arrows are pointing – it should be a “good” hurt/stretch!

Active Release Techniques is one of the most effective conservative treatment options for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Dr. Hyman has been hired by large corporations to treat and prevent CTS, saving literally hundreds of people from potential surgeries. If you have the symptoms of CTS, call us 303.300.0424. We can help.

Neck Pain & Headaches & The “Power of Placebo”

We have all heard about the “placebo effect” and the “power of positive thinking.” A placebo, according to Wikipedia, is “…a simulated or otherwise medically ineffectual treatment for a disease or other medical condition intended to deceive the recipient.” When a placebo is used, it will sometimes have a perceived beneficial effect. When this occurs, it is referred to as “the placebo effect.” Placebos are commonly used in research where one group will be given the “real” treatment, another a “placebo” and a third group will be given nothing at all.  The evaluators are usually blinded as to who received which of the 3 approaches. The group receiving the placebo is carefully compared to the other 2 groups (the real treatment group and the no treatment group). Common placebos include inert tablets (sugar pills), sham treatment (which may include surgery, detuned electrical stimulation, sham acupuncture, sham manipulation, and many more). What is compelling and interesting is that the placebo often has a surprisingly positive effect on the patient’s symptoms and because of this, research is quite extensive trying to figure out why even placebos can benefit patients.

The phrase, “…the power of positive thinking” has also been around a long time. Again, studies have shown that when a patient’s treatment plan is presented in a detailed fashion with a “positive spin” compared to when the health care provider seems skeptical that it might help, the results favor the positive presentation. Call it what you will – the power of positive thinking, faith, hope – it does appear to be an important part of the formula to obtain a positive outcome from treatment, any treatment.

When considering the placebo effect of chiropractic, specifically cervical manipulation and its effect on neck pain and headache, a landmark study published by medical doctors revealed significantly greater benefits of cervical manipulation for acute, as well as subacute and even chronic (pain > 3 months) neck pain when compared to other forms of treatment (muscle relaxants or “usual medical care”). They reported that the highest quality study demonstrated that spinal manipulation benefits patients with tension-type headaches. They also reported that the complication rate for cervical spine manipulation is low, estimated to be between 5-10 per 10 million manipulations. Another very supportive study looked at the immediate effects from only one cervical spine manipulation (CSM) using objective instruments that measured pain (algometry) and strength (grip strength dynamometer) on patients with elbow tendonitis pain (lateral epicondylitis). The patients received either CSM or a “sham” method they refer to as “manual contact intervention” or MCI. The “real” treatment group (CSM) showed a significant increase in grip strength and reduced pain compared to the MCI/sham group.

The “take-home” message here is clear. Cervical spine manipulation was found to be superior to sham manual treatment (placebo), as well as muscle relaxers, or “usual medical care” for neck pain and headaches. Second, cervical manipulation clearly out performed the placebo effect in patients with elbow pain.

While this study did not specifically include Active Release Techniques, we’ve found that combining ART with manipulation is far more effective than only doing adjustments. If you have neck pain or headaches, call us at 303.300.0424 to schedule your first treatment. We can help you.

Denver kidney donor to be first to run Leadville 100 & This Week’s 1-Page Newsletter

On National Donor Day, Dr. Jeff Stripling announced his goal to run 100 miles on behalf of all living organ donors. What follows is a recent press release from the American Transplant Foundation, and then This Week’s 1 Page Newsletter…

(DENVER, CO) – Being a living kidney donor will not stop Denver chiropractor Jeff Stripling from running 100 miles. In fact, it is what drives him forward

Dr. Stripling donated a kidney to his father in 2009. Today – National Donor Day – he announced his goal to be the first known living organ donor to run the Leadville 100 Mile Ultramarathon in August “on behalf of all living organ donors.

“Running 100 miles through the high Rockies will be tough, but that’s no because I’m a kidney donor. I want to shatter the misconception that you are limiting yourself if you donate an organ,” said Dr. Stripling.

“Being a live donor has proved to be the proudest moment of my life, and has enabled me to see my father healthy and enjoying retirement. Many people thought I would be limiting my own quality of life, but since I donated, my quality of life has only improved.”

To help other people become living donors, Dr. Stripling plans to raise funds for American Transplant Foundation’s Patient Assistance Program, which awards financial grants to offset expenses for living donors, such as travel costs to the surgery or time away from work during their recovery.

“We want people to understand that living organ donation is a viable option, and that it’s critical to reduce the transplant waiting list, especially for those who need a kidney,” said Kyle Pietari of the American Transplant Foundation. “Over 90,000 Americans are waiting for a new kidney. Most people don’t realize that the medical complication rate for live kidney donors is less than 1%. We are proud to work with Dr. Stripling and other living donors to raise awareness about this. They are truly heroes.”

“As a doctor, I understand that my body only needs one kidney. I can still workout, play sports, and attempt to run 100 miles. My father needed the other kidney much more than I do,” said Stripling.

The American Transplant Foundation is a national nonprofit organization that works to increase the donation of organs and tissue to reduce the growing list of men, women and children who are awaiting a lifesaving transplant.

Here’s this Week’s 1-Page Newsletter…

Mental Attitude: Emotions Not On My Sleeve? Contrary to what many scientists think, all people do not have the same set of biologically “basic” emotions and those emotions are not automatically expressed on the face. People do not scowl only when they’re angry or pout only when they’re sad. For example, people do a lot of things when they’re angry, sometimes they yell and sometimes they smile. Current Directions in Psychological Science, Jan 2012

Health Alert: Ten Ways To Decrease Cancer Risk 1.) Max BMI of 25; 2.) 5 or more servings of fruits & veggies daily; 3.) 7 or more portions of complex carbs daily; 4.) decrease processed foods & refined sugars; 5.) limit alcoholic drinks to 1/day for women and 2/day for men; 6.) limit red meat to no more than 3 oz daily; 7.) decrease fatty foods, particularly animal fats; 8.) limit intake of salted foods & use of salt in cooking; 9.) eliminate tobacco use; 10.) practice sun safety/recognize skin changes. American Cancer Society.

Diet: Soy And Hot Flash. According to a placebo-controlled study, daily doses of a soy germ-based nutritional supplement containing S-equol decreased menopausal symptoms 59%, including significantly reducing hot flash frequency after 12 weeks. It is believed that S-equol, produced from the isoflavone daidzein during the fermentation of soy germ, interacts with specific estrogen receptors to promote the improvement in menopausal symptoms. Journal of Women’s Health, Jan 2012.

Exercise: Colds And Exercise. Different levels of exercise can significantly increase or decrease your chances of catching a cold. If you tend to be a couch potato, then you will catch 2-3 colds per year, on average. Regular moderate exercise can reduce the risk of catching cold-like infections by 33% (this effect has been shown to be the result of the cumulative effect of exercise leading to long-term improvement in immunity). Prolonged strenuous exercise, such as marathons, can make an individual more susceptible to catching colds. We are constantly exposed to viruses, but it is our immune system that determines whether we get sick or not. Association for Science Education Conference, Jan 2012

Wellness/Prevention: Cancer Rates Dropping. In the last 20 years, one million deaths from cancer have been avoided. From 1990-2008, death rates dropped 23% in males and 15% in females. A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, Jan 2012

Quote: “There are no rules here – we’re trying to accomplish something.” ~Thomas A. Edison

The best way to shovel snow & the Weekly 1-Page Newsletter for the week of 2/6/2012

I hope you did ok through the snow. As you might expect, we’re seeing a rash of people who hurt themselves shoveling snow. Back in 2006, I (Glenn) bought a big ol’ Toro snow blower. For those of you with back and neck problems, you might consider getting one. It’s a purchase I’ve never regretted. And here’s this week’s 1-page newsletter…

Mental Attitude: Sleeping Problems? People who are poor sleepers exert a ton of energy trying to force sleep. Sleep is something that has to naturally unfold, so the more you engage in behaviors to try to sleep, the less likely you’re going to fall asleep. Behavior Therapy, Dec 2011

Health Alert: Acid Reflux Up! Reports of acid reflux experienced at least once a week have increased by 47% in the last decade. The prevalence of any acid reflux symptoms rose 30%, while the more severe symptoms rose by 24%. There is concern that these findings will lead to an increase in cancer of the esophagus, a once rare but now more common malignancy that is very difficult to treat. Acid reflux, also known as gastro-esophageal reflux, is where the stomach contents (food and acidic digestive juices) escape upward into the esophagus. This can irritate the esophagus and cause heartburn and other symptoms. Being overweight is a risk factor for acid reflux. Gut, Dec 2011

Diet: Depression And Vitamin D. Because depression affects one in 10 adults in the US and low levels of Vitamin D have been linked to depression, researchers suggest that screening for vitamin D levels in depressed patients and perhaps screening for depression in people with low vitamin D levels might be useful. Vitamin D levels are now commonly tested during routine physical exams, and they are accepted as risk factors for a number of other medical problems such as autoimmune diseases; heart and vascular disease; infectious diseases; osteoporosis; obesity; diabetes; certain cancers; and neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, multiple sclerosis, and general cognitive decline. Mayo Clinic Proceedings, Jan 2012

Exercise: Good Reasons. Exercise helps to alleviate depression and increases your ability to adapt to cold environments. Surgeon General’s Report on Physical Activity and Health, 1996

Chiropractic: What Did He Say? “The quality of healing is directly proportional to the functional capability of the central nervous system to send and receive nerve messages.” ~ Janson Edwards, MD. PhD

Wellness/Prevention: Don’t Smoke, Be Happy! Smokers have concerns that their quality of life may deteriorate if they stop smoking. However, a study found, in the long term, smokers who successfully quit experience no such deterioration due to quitting. If anything, they see some noticeable improvements. Specifically, compared with those who continued to smoke, quitters scored higher on measures of overall quality of life, health-related quality of life and positive emotions, both one year and three years on. They also felt they had fewer stressors by the third year. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, Jan 2012

Quote: “Without Chiropractic I never would have won.” ~ Lance Armstrong