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

Stay Healthy and Balanced During this Season

As the seasons change and the holidays approach, it seems that many of us get slowed down by colds and flus.

Here are some simple tips to avoid this pitfall and maximize your performance during this season.

Nourish Yourself

Eat foods that are warming, fresh, and well cooked; avoid dry or uncooked foods (especially salads and raw fruits and vegetables).

Drink lots of warming liquids such as hot water and herbal teas to prevent dehydration. You can prepare a fresh ginger tea by placing a teaspoon of fresh grated ginger into a pint thermos bottle and filling it with hot water.

Don’t worry if your appetite seems stronger than usual as this is a natural tendency in winter. At the same time, of course, don’t eat to the point of discomfort.

Nourish Your Senses

Stay warm. Give yourself slow, gentle self-massage in the morning or before bed. Use a nourishing, warming oil such as sesame or almond.

Put a pleasantly scented herb plant, such as lavender or rosemary, on your table. As the days get darker and we come indoors more, it can soothe your senses to bring some outdoors in.

Sleep and Restful Awareness

Get enough sleep!

Learn to meditate. Life speeds up during this time so make sure you give yourself a time out and plan some quiet time, even if only for 5-10 minutes. Take time and recharge your system.

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.

My BAD knee, hip and shoulders….

Regularly, I hear practice members talk about “my bad” this and that. There is a TV show that is called Girls Behaving Badly, which I cannot say I have ever watched, but my mind sometimes thinks that we should get all these joints together for a TV show of joints running amok in the Caribbean, going wild and having at it.

Our joints and body parts that we label as “bad” make me curious. What makes them bad? Your answers inevitably are something like, “Ohhh. It is bad because I have arthritis in it, but my doc says that is just the way it is. I am old. So I have to expect the arthritis.” I have asked some of you already, “How old is your other knee? Or what about all the other joints in your body?” Deterioration in one area versus another is NOT normal and does not need to be expected or accepted.

While all the bones and nerves are the same chronological age, they age on their own depending on their alignment and ability to function normally. In the picture below you might notice upon close inspection, that the joints age differently in the mild and moderate arthritis pictures.

We have seen a few things in practice that may surprise you. Children can have arthritis in certain joints because of uneven load bearing or early age injuries. Another thing that may surprise you is that spines can regenerate. I just finished looking at an MRI of a patient’s spine who took an MRI upon the onset of care. The patient had a bulging disc and mild degeneration. After 14 months of chiropractic care, they did another MRI and found NO more bulging disc. There is increased disc height.

I have seen some of the worst cases over the 25 years I have been working in chiropractic offices: cerebral palsy, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, multiple bulging disc, spinal stenosis, and varying stages of arthritis. What I have learned is that your body is a healing machine! It has the ability to change in ways that you cannot imagine.

I cannot guarantee how your body will heal because each of us is unique but I know for sure that you will heal more and faster when there is less pressure on your nerve system. So, if you are getting adjusted regularly, give yourself a pat on the back for helping your body to heal. You are on the right path!

Your health affects Everything you do and Everyone you know

Many people think of health when they do not have it.  They wish they had done things earlier.  This time of year gives us the collective perspective that it is time to wake up to our potential for better life expression through our health and well being.  This excites me because these principles are chiropractic principles.  We chiropractors embrace the concept of personal responsibility and making tiny little drops in the bucket to create future waves of wellbeing.

I love this time of year when we all seem to realize and want to commit to our own well being.  We are making commitments to care for ourselves better.  Please share your health resolutions below so others can get inspired.  The healthier you are, the better your contribution to your family, community and profession.  Thank you for making the commitments you are making!  It makes a difference for all of us.