Get Healthy this Spring Part 2: Nerve Supply is the Key to Optimal Health.

Last week we introduced the Five Pillars of Health: sleep, nutrition, exercise, positive mental attitude and proper nerve supply.

What do we mean when we talk about nerve supply, and how is it important to achieving optimal health?

Imagine wrapping a rubber band around your wrist. Make sure it is tight. You may feel a tingling sensation, as the blood supply to the hand begins to be impaired. Your fingers may start to turn blue and numb as they do not receive what they need to function properly.

What would you do to restore your hand to health? Bandage it up? Take a pain reliever? Or have it surgically removed? Massage it? Apply a tens unit?

Although all of these may feel nice and maybe help in the short term for symptom alleviation, they will not remove the pressure or blockage that is causing your finger to be less ALIVE. Anyone looking at this problem would obviously remove the rubber band, which is putting pressure on your circulatory system and reducing your hand’s ability to function.

When you receive a chiropractic adjustment, your chiropractic doctor is working to remove pressure from your spine, by finding misalignments, or subluxations, in your spine. When you are experiencing subluxations, the misaligned vertebrae (or bones of the spine) are putting pressure on your spinal cord, or the peripheral nerves, which are the super highways for communication in your nervous system.

Depending upon where these subluxations are, they are affecting some of the many different nerves that bring signals from the brain and spinal cord into all the different organs and systems of your body.

Subluxations create a nerve flow “traffic jam” in the nerves that are affected. Guess what happens next? The organs and systems that these nerves feed cannot function at their optimal level.

Here is a simple graphic to demonstrate how nerve flow affects different organs.

So, when you come in because your back, neck, hips, or anything else hurts, the first thing we look at is where these subluxations are, and adjust you to take the pressure off.

Many times, not only does range of motion in those areas increase and pain decrease, but enhanced flow to the organs in that area increases, meaning improved sleep, improved digestion, lower blood pressure, increased immune system function, and more.

By getting adjusted, you’re not only improving the way your body FEELS, you’re improving the way your body HEALS.
Want to learn more about ways YOU can help keep your spine healthy? We give free Spinal Self-Care Workshops for the public every 2nd and 4th Monday of the month! Next one: Monday, April 14. Call 978.448.9355 to register, and feel free to bring a friend!

Chiropractic Care for Veterans

As we honor our Veterans and active military for their service and sacrifices on Monday, those of us in the chiropractic field are actively pursuing ways to try to alleviate the suffering caused by rampant musculoskeletal conditions, traumatic brain injuries, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in our returning troops.

One-in-five, or some 440,000 of the 2.2 million Iraq and Afghanistan War veterans, are still fighting a battle here at home. For combat veterans experiencing the symptoms of PTSD — nightmares, anxiety, depression, flashbacks, hyper-vigilance, and hyper-arousal, and its ripple effects – social isolation, family, job, and economic difficulties, and suicidal thoughts – treatment options may seem out of reach.

Soldiers are also suffering the effects of chronic physical stress. According to a report from the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) Office of Public health and Occupational Hazards, 42.7 % of veterans who sought VA health care after returning from duty in the Middle East or Southwest Asia were diagnosed with a musculoskeletal condition, making it the most common diagnosis among the subject population.

Factors such as carrying heavy equipment, poor sleeping conditions, extreme temperature changes and the constant threat of attack are primary reasons for musculoskeletal pain and misalignments, and a tax on the nervous system.

Retired Brigadier General Rebecca (Becky) Halstead is an outgoing advocate for military chiropractic care, having benefitted from it herself. She talks about it in this interview.

Chiropractic care can help prepare active duty combat personnel for the extreme physical and mental strain that they endure when deployed, and to help alleviate pain, tension, spinal misalignments and mental and emotional stress upon return, so they can cope more successfully with the challenges of transitioning back to civilian life, and improve their overall quality of life. By reducing pressure on the spine, chiropractic care activates the relaxation response through the parasympathetic nervous system, igniting the body’s own healing mechanisms so the patient may function better on all levels.

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) currently provides Chiropractic care at over 40 VA facilities across the US. They do not yet offer the program in Massachusetts. Bills have been introduced in the House and the Senate to require the government to offer chiropractic care at all VA facilities by 2016. For more information on these bills and other information on chiropractic care for military veterans, click here.

Those who are out of reach of a participating VA hospital may join the chiropractic outpatient program, with a referral from their primary care provider and authorization by the department. If you have been denied authorization, click here for more information on how to receive services.

Community Chiropractic is pleased to offer reduced rates for active military and veterans in our Groton, MA office, as part of our commitment to improving the health and quality of life of all members of our community. For more information, please contact our office at 978.448.9355.

View and track the progress of the bills, take action, and share with others:
S.422
H.R. 921
H.R. 741

Thinking About True Health

What is health?

Many people think that health is simply “feeling good and looking good.” But true health is more than just the absence of disease. According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, health is “the condition of being sound in body, mind and spirit.” The World Health Organization states that health is a “state of complete physical, mental, and social wellbeing,” not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. True health is the full expression of life! This is the chiropractic perspective.

Your body is built to experience true health. Your body is smart. It has an intelligence inside of it that has helped it to grow from two cells into the amazing, complex, dynamic being that you are today! These two cells have created a body complete with a very sophisticated nerve system that stretches for miles, and stores over 100 trillion bits of information. Your nervous system contains100 billion neurons that can send impulses at lightning speed to every cell, tissue, organ and system in your body.

Why, then, does our body sometimes not work the way we want it to? Why do we experience aches and pains, digestive problems, high blood pressure, depression, or other health challenges? Something is interfering with the body’s natural ability to function, self regulate and mend. This interference is usually caused by stresses and strains that accumulate on our spine on a daily basis, and over time. Examples of these stressors are:

Physical: sitting, bad sleep position, weak muscles, falls, injuries, repetitive strain.
Chemical : medications, environmental, and food chemicals
Mental/Emotional: daily tension that affects our physiology by triggering chemical reactions and creating changes in our physiology.

To be alive is to be under stress. It is impossible to avoid stress. It is not the stress, but how our bodies respond to stress that matters most in our overall health. Getting enough sleep, exercising, eating a healthy diet, drinking plenty of water, and practicing deep breathing are all ways to help your body adapt to stress. However, your spine, through which your nervous system controls your body’s ability to function and heal, is vital in your ability to adapt. Maintaining a healthy spine – or correcting a less-than-healthy spine — will help you adapt more quickly and be less susceptible to life’s stresses.

Adding regular chiropractic adjustments to your healthy lifestyle will take the pressure off your spine, allow your nervous system to function more effectively, and help you to experience the meaning of true health.

3 Types of Stress that Cause Nerve Interference

Today I was talking with a practice member and they were saying that OUT OF NOWHERE, they were experiencing back pain. I explained to her that it is never out of nowhere. For many of us, we are accumulating stress and strain on our spine through daily physical, chemical , and mental emotional stress. Examples of each of these stresses are shown below.

Physical: sitting, bad sleep position, weak muscles, falls, injuries, repetitive strain.
Chemical: medications, environmental, and food chemicals
Mental/Emotional: Daily tension can affect our physiology by triggering chemical reactions and creating changes in our physiology.

It’s impossible to avoid stress! To be alive is to be under stress. The question becomes what do you DO with the stress? Does it make you stronger or weaker?
We are all unique individuals and the same stress which makes one person sick can be invigorating experience for another (distress vs. eustress). It’s not the stress but how our bodies respond to the stress that matters most in our overall health.

Imagine three dolls: one made of glass, one of plastic, and one of steel. If you were to strike each with a hammer, what would happen???

The glass one shatters. This is similar to a person who CANNOT adapt to life’s stress. This person is the type who gets ill and/or dies as a result of increased stimulus in their life.

The plastic doll will scar. This type of person is not deeply damaged but they are hurt. They will recover but never completely heal.

The steel doll rings with a pleasant tone. This type of person adapts to stress quickly and thrives. The idea is this analogy is to think about what things help you to adapt to stress and be more of a steel drum. Do you deal with life better when you have a good night’s sleep? Eat good food? Take vacation? If you understand this concept, then you must be aware that your spine is VITAL in your ability to adapt.

Stop letting life work “your last nerve” and help yourself to adapt and respond to life appropriately by regularly getting adjustments to take the pressure off your spine. BE a steel drum and make great music in this world…

Is Your Laptop Making You Lean?

Often when we do spinal exams on new patients, we find that their heads are leaning forward in front of their bodies. Your head weighs about 11 lbs, similar to the weight of a bowling ball. Imagine trying to walk around all day carrying a bowling ball about six inches in front of you. This would take a lot more effort than carrying the bowling ball right next to your body.

Forward Head Syndrome was commonly seen in older people. However, with the widespread use of laptop computers, extended sitting, handheld video games and smart phones, we are seeing more and more patients who are beginning to show symptoms at much younger ages. Forward Head Syndrome effects much more than just posture. Dr Rene Caillet, a Medical doctor at The University of Southern California, wrote about the following effects of Forward Head Syndrome in his book, “Rejuvenation Strategy.” You might be surprised to learn how many bodily functions are affected:

1. Incorrect head positioning leads to improper spinal function.

2. The head in forward posture can add up to 30 pounds of abnormal leverage on the cervical spine.

3. Forward head posture results in loss of vital lung capacity. In fact, lung capacity is depleted by as much as 30 percent. Loss of lung capacity leads to heart and blood vascular problems.

4. The entire gastrointestinal system is affected, particularly the large intestine. Loss of good bowel peristaltic function and evacuation is a common condition that comes with forward head posture and loss of spinal lordotic curves.

5. Forward head posture causes an increase in discomfort and pain. Freedom of motion in the first four cervical vertebrae is a major source of stimuli that causes production of endorphins in production many otherwise non-painful sensations are experienced as pain.

6. Forward head posture causes loss of healthy spine-body motion. The entire body becomes rigid as the range of motion lessens. Soon, one becomes hunched.
Forward Head Syndrome can be prevented and corrected by using technology properly and in moderation, getting regular chiropractic adjustments, and doing a simple exercise to help maintain your natural cervical (neck) curve.

Use a desktop computer at a proper height as much as possible. Laptops should be reserved for occasional offsite use if possible. If you use a laptop as your primary computer, shop around for a good laptop base that props it up on a table, so the screen is closer to eye height and your head and neck can remain upright. Do not use a laptop on your lap. No matter what kind of computer you use, get up and stretch at least once every hour.

Limit the amount of time spent playing with handheld video games. This is especially important for young children whose spines are still developing! Also be conscious of the time spent using your smart phone to browse the web or text. Think about how often you are looking down while engaging in these activities.

Try this simple exercise to help restore the natural curve of your neck:
Lay on your back and put a rolled up towel beneath your neck. In the beginning of doing this exercise, use a hand towel rolled up to the size of a lemon. Rest your head back over the towel and allow it to rest there for up to five minutes. Over time you can increase the thickness of the towel and the length of time you hold the position. This exercise is most effective when done consistently over a period of a year.

If you or one of your loved ones clearly has a forward leaning head, get adjusted soon. Adjustments and a simple accompanying exercise can create a tremendous change in your spine and overall health and wellbeing!