Five Tips to Reducing Chronic Pain
Below you will find an article written by The Canadian Chiropractic Association outlining the sources and possible solutions for reducing chronic pain caused by inflammation.
Do you have an old injury that flares up from time to time or other concerns about chronic inflammation? Book a consultation with Dr. Will or Dr. Erin and learn more about reducing your inflammation and pain.
The human body is pretty amazing. It can convert food into energy and sunshine into vitamins. And, when everything is working as it should, the human body also has the ability to heal itself. When you get injured, a protective response is triggered that dilates blood vessels to improve blood flow to the injured area. You might experience immobility, heat, pain, redness and swelling, and this is normal. Acute inflammation is the body’s natural response to a threat. White blood cells move in and are then replaced by anti-inflammatory compounds to begin the healing process. Common examples of the normal process of acute inflammation include a sore throat, a sun burn or sinusitis.
Sometimes, however, when the negative stimulus continues, the inflammation “on” switch gets stuck and there is a persistent activation of inflammatory molecules. This is referred to as chronic inflammation, and can last for days, months, or even years, often with no visible signs. Chronic inflammation can result from a viral or microbial infection or environmental factors, including common allergens such as pollen. The condition can cause damage to the body’s tissues, replacing healthy cells with fibrous tissue. Chronic inflammation is abnormal and does not benefit the body – it signals a failure to eliminate whatever caused the initial acute inflammation. If your medical practitioner suspects that you may be suffering chronic inflammation, he or she can test for biomarkers that indicate inflammation, such as white blood cell count or albumin levels.
Inflammation and MSK Conditions
Chronic inflammation can lead to or complicate a number of diseases and conditions, such as asthma, Crohn’s disease and arthritis. Some cells in the body, such as neurons, cardiac cells and skeletal muscle cells are especially vulnerable to the effects of inflammation. Particularly, some systemic inflammatory MSK conditions including rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis can leave individuals susceptible to chronic pain and even signs of inflammation.
In some cases, biomechanical issues, trauma or injury can also lead to chronic inflammation and pain if left untreated. For example, an injury to the knee may cause additional weight loading on the joint and alter the gait. With time, the knee is more and more susceptible to injury and inflammation, and if left untreated, that condition can become chronic or recurrent.
Tips for Reducing Chronic Inflammation
Avoid foods that are high in saturated fats and trans fats, as well as foods with a high glycemic index. A Mediterranean-style diet that incorporates olive oil, fruits and vegetables, nuts, beans and whole grains is thought to act as a natural anti-inflammatory. A good diet also helps to maintain a healthy body weight. Also, it is recommended to avoid or limit alcohol, tobacco, sugar and refined carbs among others.1
Regular exercise keeps your body moving and joints lubricated, your muscles toned and your energy level high. Those who exercise regularly are more likely to heal faster from injuries and less likely to develop chronic inflammation.
Several studies have shown that sleep deprivation can have an impact on inflammation and even increase it. For example, a 2006 study concluded that sleep loss alters molecular processes that drive cellular immune activation and induce inflammatory cytokines,2 which in turn can increase pain.3
4. Drink water
Water is an essential element to maintaining the body’s proper function. In fact, there are many benefits associated with drinking water aside from the basic need to stay hydrated. Water can help optimize energy throughout the day by nourishing your cells, keep the discs of the spine hydrated and even help modulate your calorie intake. It is also thought to help reduce chronic inflammation by reducing acidosis and keeping the body’s PH level in balance.
5. Quit smoking
We have already discussed the negative impacts of smoking on the musculoskeletal system, and it is well known that the toxic minerals contained in cigarette smoke are associated with premature death. Smoking triggers an immunologic response and can increase the level of inflammatory markers.
As Dr.Mercola highlights in his article “Here is What Sitting Too Long Does to Your Body”, our body’s were designed for regular movement. Yet, day after day “More than one half of an average person’s day is spent being sedentary — sitting, watching television or working at a computer,” said Dr. David Alter, a senior scientist at the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, who helmed the analysis.
The result? Damage to organs such as the heart, pancreas and colon. In addition, too much sitting has a negative impact on your posture, your digestion, your brain, your muscles and your legs. Today we are drawing attention to Dr. Erin’s recent video on posture and exercises that can done at your desk to help reduce the negative impact on your body.
In addition Dr. Mercola’s article (“Here is What Sitting Too Long Does to Your Body”) also gives some tips on how to add exercise to your day while at work; little tips that go a long way to a healthier lifestyle:
How to Get Up and Get Moving
I believe high-intensity exercises are an important part of a healthy lifestyle, but considering the fact that more than half of American men, and 60 percent of American women, never engage in any vigorous physical activity lasting more than 10 minutes per week,13 while at the same time sitting for hours on end, it’s clear that most people need to begin by simply getting more non-exercise movement into their daily routine.
It sounds simple, doesn’t it? Simply get up and move. The reality can be harder to get used to, since most people are so used to sitting while they work, eat, and watch TV. I recommend using a pedometer, or better yet, one of the newer wearable fitness trackers that can also give you feedback on your sleeping patterns, which is another important aspect of good health. At first, you may be surprised to realize just how little you move each day.
Setting a goal of say 7,000 to 10,000 steps a day (which is just over three to five miles, or 6-9 kilometers) can go a long way toward getting more movement and less sitting into your life. This should be over and above any exercise regimen you may have. I personally am doing about 14,000-15,000 steps a day. The only way I can get this many steps in is to walk for 90 minutes. Tracking your steps can also show you how simple and seemingly minor changes to the way you move around at work can add up. For example, you can:
- Walk across the hall to talk to a coworker instead of sending an email
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator
- Park your car further away from the entrance
- Take a longer, roundabout way to your desk
Other simple ways to increase your physical movement and avoid sitting down at work include:
- Organize the layout of your office space in such a way that you have to stand up to reach oft-used files, the telephone, or your printer, rather than having everything within easy reach.
- Use an exercise ball for a chair. Unlike sitting in a chair, sitting on an exercise ball engages your core muscles and helps improve balance and flexibility. Occasional bouncing can also help your body interact with gravity to a greater degree than sitting on a stationary chair. But this is a concession and it is still sitting, so standing would be a better option.
- Alternatively, use an upright wooden chair with no armrest, which will force you to sit up straight, and encourage shifting your body more frequently than a cushy office chair.
- Set a timer to remind you to stand up and move about for at least 10 minutes each hour. You can either walk, stand, or take the opportunity to do a few simple exercises by your desk. For an extensive list of videos demonstrating such exercises, please see my previous article, “Intermittent Movement Benefits Your Health. Here’s How to Get More of It into Your Work Day.”
- Use a standing workstation. For a demonstration on proper posture, whether you’re sitting or using a standing workstation, check out Kelly Starrett’s video. We are in the process of providing all our employees at mercola.com standing desk options. If you have a sit-down job, I would strongly encourage you to present this information to your employer and get a stand-up desk.
How to Sit Smarter
The evidence is overwhelming at this point—10,000 studies and growing—that prolonged sitting will reduce your lifespan by promoting dozens of chronic diseases, even if you exercise regularly. I’ve previously recommended standing up and doing exercises at your desk every 10-15 minutes to counteract the ill effects of sitting, but after reading Dr. Levine’s book, I’m convinced even that may be insufficient if you’re seeking optimal health. I really think the answer is to stand up as much as possible.
That said, sitting is sometimes necessary, so when you do sit following the recommendations by “posture guru” Esther Gokhale can go a long way toward improving posture-related pain associated with prolonged sitting, and will likely help ameliorate the worst risks of sitting. The basics of healthy sitting include the following points:
•Stack sitting: In order to allow the bones in your spine to stack well and permit the muscles alongside them to relax, sit with your behind sticking out behind you, but not exaggeratedly so. Now, when you breathe, each in-and-out breath will automatically lengthen and settle your spine.
This gentle movement stimulates circulation and allows natural healing to go on even while you sit. While conventional advice tells you to tuck in your pelvis to maintain an S-shaped spine, Esther has found that a J-spine is far more natural. A J-spine refers to a posture where your back is straight, your lumbar relatively flat, and your buttocks are protruding slightly. By tucking your pelvis, you lose about a third of the volume in your pelvic cavity, which squishes your internal organs. This can compromise any number of them in a variety of ways.
This is further compounded if you’re both “tucked” and “hunched” while sitting. This biomechanically correct posture allows you to move freely, discourages pain, and allows your digestive organs to function without restrictions or blockages.
•Stretch sitting. Another way to elongate your spine is by using your backrest as a traction device. You can see her demonstrate this move in the video below. You will need either a towel or a specially designed traction cushion for this purpose. This simple maneuver brings your back away from the backrest, lengthens your spine, and then roots you higher up against the backrest.
This position helps you maintain an elongated spine, and by getting traction on your discs, you allow them to rehydrate and prevent the nerves from being impinged between your vertebrae. It will also help flatten out your lumbar area, and this alone can sometimes provide immediate pain relief if you have sciatic nerve root pain.
Remember, however, that for optimal health sitting should be your last resort when you have no alternative. It is far better for you to stand than sit. It might take a bit to adjust but once you do it will be every bit as comfortable as sitting. As noted by Dr. Levine, while we clearly need to rest from time to time, that rest is supposed to break up activity—not the other way around. Inactivity—sitting—is not supposed to be a way of life
Give your workspace an ergonomic makeover and reap the benefits of better posture, better productivity, and less pain and discomfort at work. A recent poll determined that 86% of employees that work at a desk job were uncomfortable during work.
The research is overwhelmingly in favor of the implementation of postural ergonomic programs in the workplace and your life space to improve health and vitality while preventing common musculoskeletal injuries. According to OSHA, poor posture at work results in 34% of all lost workday injuries and illnesses.
From the administrative perspective, research has repeatedly shown us that office ergonomics can improve worker productivity and wellbeing. A poll among employees determined that workers would be more pleasant on the job, more productive, and less stressed if their workspace design was ergonomically correct.
What many employees and employers may not know, is that they are actually putting their bodies at risk for early onset degeneration if they don’t take action to make their workspace a safe postural environment.
Your body is simply not designed to sit in the average workspace. The long-term benefits of proper posture and ergonomics demonstrate a significant return on investment in terms of financial gains and health benefits.
If you are like the majority of employees, your posture at work needs a makeover. Consider your workspace design and how you can make it more ergonomically efficient and comfortable for your body’s needs.
Fix Your Workspace in 3 Simple Steps
Sit tall and look straight ahead: By adjusting the level of your computer screen or laptop you can literally change your natural posture in an instant. The top of your computer screen should be eye level, allowing you to look forward comfortably as you work instead of looking down. By looking down for long periods of time, this creates excess tension on the muscles of the cervical spine and the shoulders. Over time, this creates a postural distortion pattern of the head, neck, and shoulders. To raise your computer monitor or laptop you can buy a lifter to adjust the height, or simply place a book underneath it.
Out with the old chair, and in with the exercise ball: Did you know that when you are in a seated position you increase the pressure in the lower back by about 1.7 times your body weight? And this is when you sit properly, if you slouch that pressure increases further. The spine is generally strong enough to tolerate the pressure of a slouched spine for about 20 minutes, before the vertebral discs start to absorb the pressure.
You may notice your back becoming stiffer throughout the course of the day to compensate for this pressure. Over time this can cause serious spinal degeneration with associated symptoms such as chronic back pain, herniated spinal discs, and sciatica.
To avoid weakening your lower back at work get rid of that old office chair and replace it with an exercise ball. Normal chairs make it difficult to sit upright with a straight spine. When sitting on an exercise ball proper posture comes naturally. Due to the design of the ball, you must engage and activate your core musculature while seated. This is highly beneficial as the core muscles support the lumbar spine.
The Keyboard Solution: Another common complaint among employees who work at a desk job is pain in their wrists and elbows, eventually leading to carpal tunnel syndrome. The solution to preventing this from happening to you is to consider the position in which your keyboard is placed.
If you are flexing your wrists all day everyday, this is causing serious strain to the ligaments, joints, muscles, and nerves of the forearm and hands. To correct this problem, position your keyboard in front of you- not too far away. You want to be able to keep your elbows at a comfortable 90-degree angle. The height of the desk should be at a height where you can place your hands flat on the keyboard and type in this manner. You want to avoid bending your wrists back and typing with your forearms flexed.
For more information on proper posture or to book a consultation for posture assessment, please contact our office or book a free consultation here.
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Source – http://www.americanpostureinstitute.com/productive-posture-at-work-in-3-simple-steps/
Good Wednesday Morning!
This morning we are sharing a 2013 article from By Dr. Peter J. Braglia from www.mindbodygreen.com that talks about some basic principles in helping to maintain proper alignment in your body. Dr. Peter compares our bodies to a well maintain automobile and helps to clarify the importance of regular maintenance.
Read through the article here and discover 5 keys ways that you can maintain proper alignment and increase over all wellness in your body.
We hope that you enjoy his insight!
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If you want the kids in the house to grow up strong and healthy, make sure they get an examination to check for curvature of the spine, also known as scoliosis. Scoliosis is very common, and some curve to the spine may be normal for some people. But sometimes, the spinal curvature is abnormal, and either causes or contributes to health problems.
You probably already know that your chiropractor is your neighborhood expert on the spine, so it’s natural to ask your chiropractor to examine your children. A simple, painless check-up can either reassure you that your child is healthy, or if there is a problem, give you the information you need to deal with it effectively. You can even do a little screening yourself – stand behind your child, and look at his or her shoulders – are they level with the ground, or is one shoulder high or low?
Ask your child to bend over from the waist – is the rib cage sticking out more on one side than the other?
Now look at your child’s hips – are they level, or is one higher or lower than the other?
Now look at your child’s head – is it centered over the neck, or is it tilted or rotated to one side?
These simple tests can help you help your kids. If you notice any imbalance of your child’s shoulders, ribs, hips or head, consult your doctor of chiropractic – no one is in a better position to advise you and help you.
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