It’s important to know the basic differences between an MD (Medical Doctor) and a DC (Doctor of Chiropractic) so that you understand the unique role that each type of medical professional plays in helping you to maintain or regain your health.
MDs and DCs are both licensed healthcare providers. They examine, diagnose and treat patients. However, most MDs have more hours of training in physiology, whereas DCs typically have more hours of anatomy training. Their methods of practice may help explain this difference in emphasis. DCs are experts in musculoskeletal health and general wellness. Like an MD, a DC will use diagnostic imaging, lab tests, clinical exams and questionnaires to determine a diagnosis, but the course of treatment will be different. MDs tend to prescribe pharmaceuticals and surgery to treat patients, whereas DCs use a more holistic approach involving a variety of hands-on treatments as well as advice on diet and exercise.
Office visits are also often quite different experiences. On a typical visit to an MD, you will likely be asked by a nurse or assistant to fill out paperwork and provide information about your condition. Then the MD will visit you, look at the information, perhaps perform a brief clinical examination, and quickly prescribe a treatment. In the course of doing this, most doctors will take only a small amount of time to understand your overall health picture. And treatment will usually involve drugs and/or medical procedures.
It is not uncommon for patients to have a more personal relationship with their DC than with their MD. Visits to a DC also tend to be more involved. The chiropractor will speak with you at length about not only your physical symptoms, but your lifestyle habits as well. He or she will examine you, perform any necessary tests, discuss possible treatment options, and provide appropriate manual therapies. Together, these treatment methods are sometimes referred to as physical medicine. These may include targeted spinal adjustments, therapeutic massage, disc decompression, laser therapy, electrical stimulation and hot and cold treatments as well as structured exercise and stretching programs. In addition, the chiropractor may also make specific suggestions about your nutrition, day-to-day environment and physical activity.
In general, musculoskeletal problems (particularly those related to back, neck and joint pain) are better treated by a DC. However, many chiropractors have also developed specialized expertise in other areas as well. DCs will refer you to an MD if they believe that diagnosing and treating your specific condition is beyond their scope of practice.Learn More
The term ergonomics stems from the Greek words ergon (work) and nomos (laws). According to the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration, ergonomics is defined as the science of fitting workplace conditions and job demands to the capabilities of the working population. Good ergonomics in the workplace is key to maintaining our body’s proper health and function, and it can have a major effect on the quality of our work.
Ergonomics involves the physical stressors in our workplace as well as related environmental factors. For example, physical stressors are any activities that put strain on the bones, joints and muscles. These can involve things such as performing repetitive motions, vibrations, working in awkward positions and actions using excessive force. Environmental factors that contribute to bad ergonomics include loud noise, bad indoor air quality and improper lighting.
Bad ergonomics can increase the risk of injury to the musculoskeletal system, causing conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis and neck and back pain, as well as creating a range of other health problems, including sick building syndrome, eyestrain and hearing loss. However, there are steps you can take to improve your workplace ergonomics that can help reduce health risks.
Cumulative trauma disorders, such as carpal tunnel syndrome and tendonitis, are caused by repetitive motions such as typing. To prevent this, set up your computer workstation in a way that allows your hands and wrists to be in as neutral a position as possible. When sitting at your desk, your chair should be at a height where your eyes are level with the top of your computer screen, and your arms are at a 45-degree angle for typing. Ensure that your wrists are not angled up or down or to the left or right. If your desk is too high to keep your forearms straight, raise the height of your chair and use a footrest to keep your feet from dangling.
Your chair should be at a height where your feet are flat on the floor or on a footrest, while keeping your knees just slightly higher than the level of the seat. The chair should provide some light support to your lower back (use a pillow, if necessary) while allowing you to move freely. The arms of the chair should support your lower arms while letting your upper arms remain close to your torso.
To reduce eyestrain, adjust ambient lighting to diminish glare and adjust the brightness and contrast until your eyes are comfortable reading. If you are working in a noisy area, use earplugs or headphones that cut ambient sound (but not set loud enough to damage your hearing!).
Good ergonomics also involves taking frequent breaks. Move around, get some fresh air and focus your eyes on things at varying distances.Learn More
With the huge rise in the use of antibiotics over the past 70 years, some pathogens are now becoming resistant to the drugs that once easily eradicated the illnesses these pathogens cause. People who become infected with one of these drug-resistant organisms are at increased risk for longer, more costly hospital stays and are more likely to die from their infection.
Medical researchers and public health experts believe there are a few different causes for the emergence of drug-resistant bacteria. These include the widespread use of antibiotics in animals as well as and the overuse and misuse of antibiotics in humans.
Cattle, pigs and chickens are routinely given antibiotics to prevent illness and increase weight gain. However, 55 outbreaks of foodborne illness over the past 40 years have been caused by antibiotic-resistant pathogens. New York Congresswoman Louise M. Slaughter, a microbiologist, said “We have evidence that the practice of overusing antibiotics in food-animals is ruining these drugs effectiveness, and every day that the government stands idly by, we move closer to the nightmare scenario where routine infections can no longer be cured with antibiotic treatment.” Slaughter has proposed Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (PAMTA), which would ban the use of 8 major classes of antibiotics from use on healthy animals, with exceptions only for animals who are actually ill.
Doctors are often pressured to prescribe antibiotics for illnesses that antibiotics are ineffective at treating, such as viruses. Parents of sick children have been shown to be particularly bad about exerting pressure on their doctor to give their children an antibiotic, no matter what the illness actually is. In the case of viruses (such as the one that causes the common cold, most coughs and the flu), antibiotics are useless. Antibiotics work against bacteria such as streptococcal bacteria (strep throat) and staphylococcal bacteria (skin infections). The bacterial infections most in danger of becoming resistant to all antibiotics include anthrax, gonorrhea, group B Streptococcus, Klebsiella, Methicillin-resistantÂ Staphylococcus aureusÂ (MRSA), Streptococcus pneumoniae, tuberculosis, typhoid fever, vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE) and the antimicrobial-resistant staph bacteria VISA and VRSA.
The best way to help reduce the spread of drug-resistant illnesses is to refrain from pressuring your doctor to prescribe antibiotics when it is not appropriate, and when antibiotics are called for, to take them according to directions. Be sure to complete the full course of the antibiotic regimen prescribed, even if you are feeling well again. If you don’t, some bacteria may linger and develop a resistance to the drug you are taking, potentially making that antibiotic ineffective for you in the future. Do not skip any doses, share your antibiotics with anyone else, or use antibiotics that have been prescribed for someone else.
In general, the symptoms of a virus disappear in about a week or so. In contrast, bacterial infections tend to linger. So if you have been feeling ill for more than two weeks, consult with your physician to see if antibiotics may be appropriate for treating of your illness. If not, he or she can prescribe other effective ways to treat your condition.Learn More
When National Hockey League (NHL) superstar Sidney Crosby suffered two concussions within days of one another, he sought the help of his chiropractor, Dr. Ted Carrick, a Chiropractic Neurologist who treats Crosby and other players in the NHL and NFL. Carrick says, â€œIn professional hockey alone, there are more than 50,000 hits annually, and far too many of these are serious injuries to the head.â€ Hockey is a rough contact sport, as anyone who has been to a game can attest. As Rodney Dangerfield once famously quipped, â€œI went to a fight the other night and a hockey game broke out.â€
All kidding aside, the risk of concussion during a hockey game is high, with pucks traveling at around 100 mph. Add to that the injuries from players colliding with each other, or being hit by hockey sticks and skate blades and you can see why hockey is a sport prone to injury. Unfortunately, the number of neck and back injuries have increased, possibly due to the false sense of security provided by protective equipment. The knee is a frequent site of injury as well, with sprains to the ligaments being most common.
After suffering 10 months of dizziness, fogginess, instability and light sensitivity, Crosby began specialized chiropractic care that improved both his physical and cognitive functioning. After 6 months of chiropractic treatment, Crosby returned to the ice and helped his Pittsburgh Penguins score a win against the New York Rangers, and the Penguins subsequently signed him to new a 12-year contract.
Chiropractic care is so important to the Vancouver Canucks that they keep a team chiropractor on staff. Dr. Sid Sheard has treated the Canucks for 24 years and says of his job, â€œIn managing musculoskeletal problems, the team chiropractor must determine when to order the appropriate diagnostic tests and imaging studies in order to arrive at an appropriate diagnosis.â€ Chiropractic is not only for the treatment of injuries, it also keeps players in top form. Sheard notes, â€œThe number of games lost to injury this year is running at less than half, which we like to think is due to the preventive and supportive training that starts in the off-season.â€
Olympic silver medalist in hockey and player for the Dallas Stars, Mike Modano is a strong advocate of the benefits of chiropractic care for hockey players. He says, â€œChiropractic helps with recovery time and the way my body responds with the grind it takes.â€
Chiropractic care is one of the best ways that professional hockey players can ensure that they stay on the ice as long as possible.Learn More
Although the name Dowager’s Hump implies that this condition is one that affects elderly women (which it primarily does), it can also affect anyone who spends a lot of time hunched over or who has a severe case of osteoporosis, including men. The medical term for Dowager’s Hump is hyperkyphosis, which is an increase in the forward curvature of the lower cervical and upper thoracic spine. It is a condition that can either be relatively painless or can cause considerable pain and discomfort.
Dowager’s hump is common in people with osteoporosis and is usually due to what is called a wedge fracture. This is when the front part of the vertebra (the side facing your chest) collapses. This causes the vertebra to tilt forward, which forces the back to curve and the head to jut forward. In some cases the curvature is so severe that it forces the head to look downward. It can become a sort of domino effect, with the collapsed vertebra tilting and putting pressure on the one below, until it too subsequently fractures and tilts, etc. In advanced osteoporosis, the bones of the vertebrae can become so porous that they may fracture as a result of lifting something or doing something as simple as coughing or sneezing.
A wedge fracture does not necessarily cause pain, and the first signs of it may be a loss in height or an obvious rounding of the upper back. Other people are more likely to see it before the person suffering from the disorder, as we do not generally see ourselves from the side. Someone with hyperkyphosis may also experience neck pain, breathing difficulties, rib pain and loss of appetite. Symptoms may be worse when coughing or sneezing and may be relieved when lying down.
Those with mild cases of hyperkyphosis may find some relief through yoga. A study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found that elderly women with Dowagerâ€™s Hump who took yoga classes three times a week for six months had a slight reduction in the curvature of their spine. In situations where Dowager’s Hump is more severe and is causing pain, there are also more invasive treatments available. The surgical treatments vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty involve the injection of cement into the vertebrae to restore their height, reducing pain and spinal curvature.
The best treatment, however, is prevention, which involves strengthening the bones as much as possible and preventing bone loss by eating a healthy diet and getting regular weight-bearing exercise. Maintaining correct posture is also important, as habitual slumping (such as when you use a laptop or when sitting at a desk) eventually causes muscle imbalances, and the muscles and ligaments supporting the spinal column weaken, putting additional pressure on the vertebrae, allowing them to slip out of place. Regular chiropractic adjustments can help keep the vertebrae aligned, along with exercise to strengthen the supporting muscles.Learn More
Unless youâ€™ve been living under a rock for the past 30 years, you are likely well aware that obesity is one of our societyâ€™s greatest health issues. Over a third of Americans are now considered obese. Until 1980, only 15 percent of the population was overweight or obese. That number is now 55 percent, and is expected to rise. So what has changed during that time that could be contributing to the massive explosion in obesity rates? One of the factors is a major change in serving size.
The typical meal in a restaurant is now four times larger than it was in the 1950s, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The greatest increase has been in the consumption of sugary sodas. In the 1950s, the average serving size of soda was 7 oz. compared with the current size of 42 oz., a 600% increase in size.
Treating obesity and its associated diseases, such as Type 2 diabetes, comes at the staggering cost of $168 billion each year. And that number is expected to rise with the rise in rates of obesity. With individuals and governments already straining their health care budgets, itâ€™s no wonder that some municipalities are looking for ways to help curb the rise in obesity rates. New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg was one of the first to try to do this by enacting a ban on large sugary drinks. However, the ban elicited a great deal of controversy and was struck down by a judge on the Manhattan Supreme Court before it was enacted.
The proposed law would have banned the sale of sugary sodas larger than 16 oz. by restaurants, movie theaters, delis, sports arenas, food trucks and pushcarts. However, the judge ruled against the law because he found it â€œarbitrary and capricious,â€ as it was not consistently to be enforced throughout all establishments in the city. A person could still go into a 7-11 and buy a Big Gulp or get a large serving from a corner store. It also would not have stopped people from buying multiple 16-oz. servings.
New Yorkers were almost evenly divided on the issue, with slightly more feeling that the ban was going too far. An NY1-Marist poll of 500 adults in the New York area found that 53% disagreed with the ban, with 47% believing it was good health policy. The primary feeling was that prohibiting large drink sizes would not have much effect on obesity. However, since sugared beverages were banned from New York City schools in 2003, the rate of obesity in children there has dropped about 5%.
The biggest critics of the ban on large portions are the soft-drink industry and people who are afraid of the country being turned into a â€œnanny state.â€ Kirk Tyler, the president of the Coca-Cola Atlantic Bottling Co. located in western Iowa, where corn farming is a major industry, said, â€œIf we ban those kinds of products, what does it do to the Iowa farmer? What will it do to the Iowa economy? It wonâ€™t put a huge dent in it, but it wonâ€™t help it.â€
Ironically, Mississippi, with the highest rate of obesity in the nation, passed what was called an â€œAnti-Bloombergâ€ bill. They enacted a law that prevents any town, county or municipality from enacting any restrictions on portion size or from requiring that calorie counts be put on restaurant menus. Mississippi state Senator Tony Smith, who is a restaurant owner and who drafted the bill, said â€œIf the market demands that I serve a more healthy food, I’ll do that to meet the market demand. But … why should I risk my capital, my hard work, my efforts that I’ve put in to build a restaurant on what a government official thinks?â€
Studies have shown that most people will finish whatever size portion they are served, no matter the size. If a bag of chips consists of three portions, they will not stop a third of the way through the bag.
Although obesity certainly is due in part to consuming large portions, there are also other factors involved. Unless the government begins subsidizing healthier foods, such as vegetables and fruit, and people start reducing their consumption of processed and refined foods, including their intake of sugar and fat, enacting a ban on large portions is not likely to have a great effect on obesity rates.Learn More
Back pain affects a majority of people at some point in their lives. Why is that? Thereâ€™s little doubt among researchers and clinicians that much of the back pain we experience is related to our modern lifestyle. However, recent research suggests that low back pain may also have a genetic component. While itâ€™s too early to know for sure, this discovery might one day have implications for how healthcare providers identify at-risk individuals and help them through both prevention and treatment.
Researchers from Kingâ€™s College in London performed a study that was published in the journal Annals of Rheumatic Diseases that showed a specific gene was associated with a condition referred to as lumbar disc degeneration (LDD). LDD is one of the most common causes of low back pain, and it is usually related to the aging process, particularly among women. More than a third of all women aged 30 to 50 have at least one degenerated disc in their spine. It is estimated that as many as 80% of LDD cases are inherited.
Disc degeneration involves a reduction in the height of the vertebral discs through the loss of disc fluid, which makes then thinner, bringing the vertebrae closer together. Adding to this is the formation of small cracks or tears in the covering of the disc, which allows the jellylike cushioning substance to leak out, further compressing the vertebrae. Occasionally the vertebrae will then form bony spurs (osteophytes) that can put pressure on nerves and cause pain.
In the study, researchers analyzed the MRI spinal scans of 4,600 people who had had their genes mapped. When the researchers compared the scans with the genetic mapping, they found a strong association between a variant of the PARK2 gene and disc degeneration. It appears that the gene has been switched off in those who suffer from LDD. Scientists believe that the gene may become switched off due to environmental factors such as diet and lifestyle, which trigger changes to the genes.
A Senior Lecturer from the Kingâ€™s College Department of Twin Research and Genetic Epidemiology, Dr. Frances Williams, said â€œWe have performed, using data collected from around the world, the biggest genome-wide association analysis of lumbar disc degeneration (LDD). We know that people whose discs wear out are at increased risk of episodes of lower back pain, but normal human discs are hard to get hold of to study so until now our knowledge of normal human biology was incomplete.â€
Although Williams feels that this study provides a good basis for research into the cause of LDD, more research is necessary. She says, â€œFurther work by disc researchers to define the role of this gene will, we hope, shed light on one of most important causes of lower back pain. It is feasible that if we can build on this finding and improve our knowledge of the condition, we may one day be able to develop new, more effective treatments for back pain caused by this common condition.â€Learn More