Dr. Jeff Stripling, chiropractor at Denver Chiropractic Center demonstrates some self-help trigger point work for upper back and mid-back pain.

Common Car Accident (Whiplash) Myths

Last month, we began discussing common myths about whiplash injuries, and this month, we will continue on that course. Remember, the amount of injury that occurs in an acceleration/deceleration injury is dependant on many factors, some of which include gender (females>males), body type (tall slender = worse), the amount of vehicular damage (less is sometimes worse as the energy of the strike was not absorbed by crushing metal), head position at the time of impact (rotation is worse than looking straight ahead), and more. Therefore, each case MUST be looked at on its own merits, not just analyzed based on a formula or accident reconstruction.

MYTH #5: THERE MUST BE DIRECT CONTACT WITH THE NECK FOR INJURY TO OCCUR. Injury to the neck most commonly occurs due to the rapid, uncontrolled whipping action of the head, forcing the neck to move well beyond its normal range of motion in a forwards/backwards direction (if it’s a front or rear-end collision) or, at an angle if the head is rotated or when the strike occurs at an angle.

When this occurs, the strong ligaments that hold the bones together stretch and tear in a mild, moderate, or severe degree, depending on the amount of force. Once stretched, increased motion between the affected vertebra results as ligaments, when stretched, don’t repair back to their original length and, just like a severe ankle sprain, future problems can result. This excess motion between vertebra can result in an accelerated type of arthritis and is often seen within five years following a cervical sprain or whiplash injury.

MYTH #6:  SEAT BELTS PREVENT WHIPLASH INJURIES. It’s safe to say that wearing seat belts saves lives and, it’s the law! So, WEAR YOUR SEAT BELTS! They protect us from hitting the windshield or worse, being ejected from the vehicle. But, as far as preventing whiplash, in some cases (low speed impacts where most of the force is transferred to the car’s occupants), the opposite may actually be true. (This is not an excuse to not wear a seatbelt!)

The reason seat belts can add to the injury mechanism is because when the chest or trunk is held tightly against the car seat, the head moves through a greater arc of motion than it would if the trunk were not pinned against the seat, forcing the chin further to the chest and/or the back of the head further back. The best way to minimize the whiplash injury is to have a well-designed seat belt system where the height of the chest harness can be adjusted to the height of the driver so that the chest restraint doesn’t come across the upper chest or neck.

Move the side adjustment so the chest belt crosses between the breasts (this also reduces injury risk to the breasts) and attaches at or near the height of the shoulder (not too high). Another preventer of whiplash is positioning the head restraint high enough (above the ears typically) and close to the head (no more than ½ to 1 inch) so the head rest stops the backwards-whipping action. Also, keep the seat back more vertical than reclined so the body doesn’t “ramp” up the seat back forcing the head over the top of the head restraint.

If you’ve been in a car accident, Denver Chiropractic Center can help you with Active Release Techniques, chiropractic care, and physical therapy. We accept Med Pay and will work with any auto insurance carrier. 303.300.0424. Call us today.

How Does Chiropractic Help Headaches?

Headaches are one of the most common reasons people seek out Denver Chiropractic Center for care. Many patients with headaches benefit significantly from specific muscular treatments made to the upper cervical region. So, the question is, how does muscular treatment (with Active Release Techniques) the neck help headaches? To help answer this question, let’s look at a study that was recently published that examined this exact issue…

It’s been said that if one understands anatomy, determining WHERE the problem is located becomes easy. So, let’s take a look at the anatomy in the upper most part of the neck. In the study previously mentioned (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21278628), the authors found an intimate relationship between the muscles that connect the upper 2 cervical vertebra (C1 and 2) together and their anatomical connection to the dura mater (the covering of the spinal cord). They identified this anatomical connection between the muscles that span between the back aspect of C1/2 and the dural connection as having a significant role in the development of headaches usually referred to as cervicogenic headaches.

There are several reasons why ART to the muscles of the upper cervical (suboccipital) helps to reduce the intensity, frequency and duration of headaches. If one or both of the upper 2 vertebrae (C1 and C2, also referred to as the atlas and axis, respectively) are either blocked or fixed and cannot properly move independently, then there is an abnormal change in the biomechanics in that region. You can take all the ibuprofen, Aleve, Tylenol or other perhaps stronger, prescription medication for the headache, but it is not logical that the biomechanical problem at C1 and/or C2 is going to change by inducing a chemical change (i.e., taking a pill). All you’re doing is masking the symptoms for a while, at best.

Many people find that after Active Release Techniques soft tissue treatments to the associated muscles, their headaches are significantly improved. This is because restoring proper biomechanics to the C1/2 region reduces the abnormal forces on the vertebrae as well as any abnormal pull or traction of the posterior cervical muscles on the dural attachment.

It has been reported that the function of this muscle/dura connection is to resist excessive movement of the dura towards the spinal cord when we look upwards and forwards. During neurosurgery, observation of mechanical stress on the dura was found to be associated in patients with headaches. In chronic headache sufferers, adjustments applied to this area results in significant improvement.

In our opinion, there is no other treatment approach that matches the ability that targeted and specific muscle work have in restoring the C1/2 biomechanical relationship thus, helping the headache sufferer. Another treatment option that has been shown to benefit the headache patient is injections to this same area. However, given the side effects of cortisone, botox, and other injectable chemicals, it’s clear that treatment with ART should be utilized first. It’s the safest, most effective, and fastest way to restore function in the C1/2 area, thus relieving headaches.

We realize that you have a choice in where you receive your healthcare services.  If you, a friend or family member requires care for headaches, we sincerely appreciate the trust and confidence shown by choosing our services and look forward in serving you and your family presently and, in the future.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome – Natural Treatment Options

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is a condition characterized by pain, numbness and/or tingling in the hand. This includes the palm and the 2nd, 3rd, and half of the 4th finger, usually sparing the thumb. Another indication of CTS is weakness in grip strength such as difficulty opening a jar to even holding a coffee cup. CTS can occur from many different causes, the most common being repetitive motion injuries such as assembly line or typing/computing work.

Here is a PARTIAL list of potential causes of CTS: heredity (a small sized tunnel), aging (>50 years old), rheumatoid arthritis, pregnancy, hypothyroid, birth control pill use, trauma to the wrist (especially colles fractures), diabetes mellitus, acromegaly, the use of corticosteroids, tumors (benign or malignant), obesity (BMI>29 are 2.5 more likely), double crush (pinching of the nerve in more than 1 place such as the neck and the carpal tunnel), heterozygous mutations in a gene (associated with Charcot-Marie-Tooth), Parvovirus b19, and others. Again, repetitive trauma is still the most common cause. Once the cause(s) of CTS has been nailed down, then treatment options can be considered.

From a treatment perspective, we’ve previously discussed what chiropractors typically do for CTS (spinal and extremity joint manipulation, muscle/soft tissue mobilization, physical therapy modalities such as laser, the use of a wrist splint – especially at night, work task modifications, wrist/hand/arm/neck exercises, vitamin B6, and more). But, what about using other “alternative” or non-medical approaches, especially those that can be done with chiropractic treatment? Here is a list of four alternative or complementary treatment options:

  1. Anti-inflammatory Goals: Reducing systemic inflammation reduces overall pressure on the median nerve that travels through the limited space within the carpal tunnel at the wrist. An “anti-inflammatory diet” such a Mediterranean diet, gluten-free diet, paleo-diet (also referred to as the caveman diet) can also help. Herbs that can helps include arnica, bromelain, white willow bark, curcumen, ginger, turmeric, boswellia, and vitamins such as bioflavinoids, Vitamin B6 (and other B vitamins such as B1 and B12), vitamin C, and also omega 3 fatty acids.
  2. Acupuncture: Inserting very thin needles into specific acupuncture points both near the wrist and further away can unblock energy channels (called meridians), improve energy flow, release natural pain reducing chemicals (endorphins and enkephlins), promote circulation and balance the nervous system. For CTS, the acupuncture points are located on the wrist, arm, thumb, hand, neck, upper back and leg. The number of sessions varies, dependant on how long the CTS has been present, the person’s overall health, and the severity of CTS.
  3. Laser acupuncture: The use of a low level (or “cold” laser) or a class IV pulsed laser over the same acupuncture points as mentioned above can have very similar beneficial effects (without needles)! One particular study of 36 subjects with CTS for an average of 24 months included 14 patients who had 1-2 prior surgeries for CTS with poor post-surgical results. Even in that group, improvement was reported after 3 laser treatments per week for 4-5 weeks! In total, 33 of the 36 subjects reported 50-100% relief. These benefits were reportedly long-term as follow-up at 1-2 years later showed only 2 out of 23 subjects had pain that returned and subsequent laser treatment was again successful within several weeks.
  4. Active Release Techniques (ART): ART releases scar tissue in the muscles that surround the median nerve. This release takes the pressure off of the nerve, and often resolves CTS. We’ve been treating Carpal Tunnel with ART successfully since 2000, and Dr. Hyman is the only ART provider in Denver who is also an ART instructor. Call us today to schedule your CTS evaluation. 303.300.0424

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome- try Active Release techniques at Denver Chiropractic Center before surgery

In many cases, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) results strictly from overuse activities though, as we have discussed previously. Other conditions such as, pregnancy, etc. can also be involved as a contributor and / or the sole cause. When these conditions are present, they must be properly treated to achieve a favorable result. However, the majority of cases are the result of a repetitive motion injury. So, the question remains: What is the role of the patient regarding activity modification during the treatment process of CTS? How important is it?

To answer this question, let’s look at a fairly common type of CTS case. The patient is female, 52 years old, moderately obese (Body Mass Index 35 where the normal is 19-25), and works for a local cookie packing company. Her job is to stand on a line where cookies are traveling down a conveyor belt after being baked and cooled. She reaches forwards with both arms and grasps the cookies, sometimes several at a time, and places them into plastic packaging which are then wrapped and finally removed from the belt and placed into boxes located at the end of the line. Each worker rotates positions every 30 minutes. A problem can occur when other workers fall behind or when there aren’t enough workers on the line, at which time the speed required to complete the job increases.

So now, let’s discuss the “pathology” behind CTS. The cause of CTS is the pinching of the median nerve inside the carpal tunnel or muscles of the forearm, located on the palm side of the wrist. The tunnel is made up of 2 rows of 4 carpal bones that form top of the tunnel while a ligament stretches across, making up the tunnel’s floor. There are 9 tendons that travel through the tunnel and “during rush hour” (or, when the worker is REALLY moving fast, trying to keep up with production), the friction created between the tendons, their sheaths (covering) and surrounding synovial lining (a lubricating membrane that covers the tendons sheaths), results in inflammation or swelling.

When this happens, there just isn’t enough room inside the tunnel for the additional swelling and everything gets compressed. The inflamed contents inside the tunnel push the median nerve (that also travels through the tunnel) against the ligament and pinched nerve symptoms occur (numbness, tingling, and loss of the grip strength). The worker notices significant problems at night when her hands interrupt her sleep and she has to shake and flick her fingers to try to get them to “wake up.” She notices that only the index to the 3rd and thumb half of the 4th finger are numb, primarily on the palm side.

At this stage, the worker often waits to see if this is just a temporary problem that will go away on its own and if not, she’ll make an appointment for a consultation, often at her family doctor (since many patients don’t realize Active Release Techniques Soft Tissue Treatments REALLY HELP this condition). In an “ideal world,” the primary care doctor first refers the patient to the ART provider for non-surgical management. Other treatment elements include the use of a night wrist splint and (one of the MOST IMPORTANT) “ergonomic management.” That means work station modifications, which may include slowing down the line, the addition 1 or 2 workers, and reducing the reach requirement by adding a “rake” that pushes the cookies towards the worker/s. Strict home instructions to allow for proper rest and managing home repetitive tasks are also very important. Between all these approaches, our office is quite successful in managing the CTS patient, but it may require a workstation analysis.

It all starts with the initial examination. Call our office at 303.300.0424 right now to schedule yours.

Top 4 reasons to include Massage Therapy in your treatment

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Denver Chiropractic Center is now scheduling appointments for Massage Therapy!!!!

According to Newsweek there are many beneficial reasons to choose massage therapy, here are the top 4:

1. Pick Your Spot: You don’t have to massage the part of the body that hurts most. If you’re shy about letting a massage therapist touch your aching lower back, for instance, she could help by massaging your shoulders instead. This is because massage creates chemical changes that reduce pain and stress throughout the body. One way it does this is by reducing a brain chemical called substance P that is related to pain. In a TRI study, for example, individuals with a form of muscle pain called fibromyalgia showed less substance P in their saliva (and they reported reduced pain) after a month of twice-weekly massages.

2. De-Stress, Stay Healthy. Massage may boost immunity. Several studies have measured the stress hormone called cortisol in subjects’ saliva before and after massage sessions, and found dramatic decreases. Cortisol, which is produced when you are stressed, kills cells important for immunity, so when massage reduces your stress levels and hence the cortisol in your body, it may help you avoid getting a cold or another illness while under stress.

3. Blood Pressure Benefits: Massage reduces hypertension, suggests a good deal of research. This may be because it stimulates pressure receptors that prompt action from the vagus nerve, one of the nerves that emerges from the brain. The vagus nerve regulates blood pressure, as well as other functions. In a 2005 study at the University of South Florida, hypertension patients who received 10 massages of 10 minutes each over three weeks showed significant improvements in blood pressure compared to a control group who simply rested in the same environment without any massage.

4. Technique Tactics: There’s little evidence to support one kind of massage over another, so don’t worry about whether your therapist is schooled in Shiatsu, Swedish or some other technique. The key is pressure firm enough to make a temporary indentation in the skin.

Schedule your appointment today! 303.300.0424