Back to Health Chiropractic continues to meet your needs by “adjusting”. Click here for Dr. Houston's message.
If you have ever experienced that persistent pain down through the buttock and into the lower leg and thought the only answer for relief is strong medication, then think again... Sciatica is a condition that is treated with great results with chiropractic adjustments. Click here for more.
Let’s Talk Healthy food: Watermelon, greens and a fabulous Marinated Kale Salad that will become your summer favorite. Click here for more.
Cancer Prevention: No one knows all the answers to cancer prevention – but the stats tell us that diet does make a difference for colon and breast cancer. Click here for more.
Wellness Tip: Painless Travel:Whether traveling alone on business or on the way to a sunny resort with the family, long hours in a car or an airplane can leave anyone stressed, tired, stiff and sore. Click here for more.
Welcome to the Back to Health Chiropractic Newsletter!
Click the links in the sidebar to read helpful articles about your health. Here is our Spring feature:
Prepare for Garden-Variety Exercise
Now that spring is finally here, you're no doubt going to spend time planting bulbs, mowing the lawn and pulling weeds. Yard work can provide a great workout, but with all the bending, twisting, reaching and pulling, your body may not be ready for exercise of the garden variety. Try these stretches to help your body prepare for time spent in the garden.
- While sitting, prop your heel on a stool or step, keeping the knees straight. Lean forward until you feel a stretch in the back of the thigh, or the hamstring muscle. Hold this position for 15 seconds. Repeat on the other side.
- Stand up, balance yourself, and grab the front of your ankle from behind. Pull your heel toward your buttocks and hold the position for 15 seconds. Repeat on the other leg.
- While standing, weave your fingers together above your head with the palms up. Lean to one side for 10 seconds, then to the other. Repeat this stretch three times.
- Wrap your arms around yourself and rotate to one side, stretching as far as you can comfortably go. Hold for 10 seconds and reverse. Repeat two or three times.
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|Back to Health Chiropractic, P.C.
82 Park Avenue
Worcester, MA 01609-1742
Call us at 508.752.7521
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Twenty Years and Still Adjusting
In many ways, after 26 years in practice we are still adjusting.
In the traditional sense I have adjusted thousands of patients, from new born infants, construction workers, moms, dads and the senior population – and we continue to do that here at Back to Health Chiropractic using low force Activator Technique.©
We have also “adjusted” to the health needs of our patients. In the last 26 years we have added medical foods, supplements and nutritional counseling to assist our patients in reaching their full wellness potential. Cold Laser Therapy is now being used by our doctors on both acute and chronic musculoskeletal injuries and conditions to speed up recovery and facilitate healing.
Lastly, we have "adjusted” to the outside forces effecting healthcare. When I started in Worcester in 1986 – Chiropractic adjustments were not covered by most insurance plans. As time progressed and due to consumer demand – insurance plans began to include chiropractic care as a benefit. Now we are starting to see a shift in benefits as insurance plans are implementing cost cutting measures by reducing health care benefits in many areas – including chiropractic. Yet, we are still providing excellent, cost effective care to all of our patients, with assistance from insurance or on a self-pay basis.
Our goal in this new economy is to keep you pain free and healthy. An analogy I would use: if you maintain your car (like your body) on a regular basis – it will run well and last a long time. That being said, if you maintain your body with regular adjustments, eat well and take your supplements, you too will be around for a long time and running well.
Dr. Cheryl & Staff
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Sciatica describes persistent pain felt along the sciatic nerve, which runs from the lower back, down through the buttock, and into the lower leg. The sciatic nerve is the longest and widest nerve in the body, running from the lower back through the buttocks and down the back of each leg. It controls the muscles of the lower leg and provides sensation to the thighs, legs, and the soles of the feet.
Although sciatica is a relatively common form of low-back and leg pain, the true meaning of the term is often misunderstood. Sciatica is actually a set of symptoms-not a diagnosis for what is irritating the nerve root and causing the pain.
Sciatica occurs most frequently in people between the ages of 30 to 50 years old. Most often, it tends to develop as a result of general wear and tear on the structures of the lower spine, not as a result of injury.
What are the symptoms of sciatica?
The most common symptom associated with sciatica is pain that radiates along the path of the sciatic nerve, from the lower back and down one leg; however, symptoms can vary widely depending on where the sciatic nerve is affected. Some may experience a mild tingling, a dull ache, or even a burning sensation, typically on one side of the body.
Some patients also report:
- A pins and needles sensation, most often in the toes or foot
- Numbness or muscles weakness in the affected leg or foot
Pain from sciatica often begins slowly, gradually intensifying over time. In addition, the pain can worsen after prolonged sitting, sneezing, coughing, bending, or other sudden movements.
What causes sciatica?
The most common cause of sciatica is irritation of the sciatic nerve in the lower back (lumbar region) due to a herniated or ruptured disc. Spinal discs are shock-absorbing cushions between each vertebra that keep your spine flexible. Discs have a stronger outer ring and a soft jelly-like center, but as we age, spinal discs can deteriorate, becoming drier, flatter and more brittle.
Frequently, the tough outer covering may develop tiny tears, which allow the jelly-like substance to seep out (rupture or herniation). The herniated disc may then press on the nerve root, causing sciatic symptoms such as pain, tingling, and weakness in the legs and feet. Nerve roots may also be irritated by the chemicals found in the discs’ nucleus.
Other conditions can also put pressure on the nerve, including:
- Spinal stenosis-narrowing of the spinal canal, which places pressure on the spinal cord or the nerve roots
- Degenerative disc disease-a common part of the aging process, leading to a change in the disc shape and function, which can result in disc herniation or pain
- Pregnancy-extra weight and pressure on the spine can compress the sciatic nerve
- Trauma-a fall, car accident, or other trauma can injure the nerve roots
- Piriformis syndrome-spasm of the piriformis muscle can compress the sciatic nerve
- Spondylolisthesis-when a vertebra slips forward over another vertebra, the slip can pinch the nerve root
- Chronic pelvic or lumbar misalignments cause structurl instability leading to sciatica
- Spinal tumors or infections-very rare; both can compress the sciatic nerve
In rare cases, a herniated disc may press on nerves that cause you to lose control of bladder or bowel functions. This is an emergency situation and requires an immediate call to your doctor.
How is sciatica diagnosed?
We will begin by taking a complete patient history. You’ll be asked to describe your pain and to explain when the pain began, and what activities lessen or intensify the pain. Forming a diagnosis will also require a physical and neurological exam, in which the doctor will pay special attention to your spine and legs. You may be asked to perform some basic activities that will test your sensory and muscle strength, as well as your reflexes. For example, lift your legs straight in the air, one at a time.
In some cases, we may recommend diagnostic imaging such as x-ray, MRI, or CT scan. Diagnostic imaging may be used to rule out a more serious condition, such as a tumor or infection, and can be used when patients with severe symptoms fail to respond to six to eight weeks of conservative treatment.
What are my treatment options?
In For most people, sciatica responds very well to conservative care, including chiropractic. Keeping in mind that sciatica is a symptom and not a stand-alone medical condition, treatment plans will often vary depending on the underlying cause of the problem.
Chiropractic spinal manipulation is proven to be effective and has minimal side effects. Recently released practice guidelines published in the Annals of Internal Medicine (2007) stress a conservative approach to treating low-back pain and recommend spinal manipulation as one treatment with proven benefits.
Unless advised otherwise, remain active and avoid prolonged bed rest. In the long run, inactivity can make your symptoms worse, whereas regular activity and exercise has been shown to reduce the intensity of pain associated with sciatica.
Fortunately, 80 to 90 percent of patients with sciatica will recover without surgery. If surgery is warranted or your doctor of chiropractic feels it would be best to co-manage your condition with another provider, however, he or she will refer you to a local specialist.
Reference: Healthy Living, Patient Information from the American Chiropractic Association, November 2009
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Let’s Talk Healthy Food
1. Buy a watermelon, it tastes good and is good for you.
“It’s hard to find a soul, from toddler to senior, who doesn’t love the juicy sweet taste explosion set off by a bite of crisp watermelon. The next time someone tells you that they don’t like fruit, ask about watermelon.
Contrary to what most people think, watermelon is no lightweight in the nutrient department. A standard serving (about 2 cups) has 38 percent of a day’s vitamin C, 32 percent of a day’s vitamin A, and 7 percent of a day’s potassium for only 85 fat-free, salt-free calories. You won’t find two cups of many foods that go that easy on your waistline.
Bonus: watermelon is one of the “Clean 15,” the fruits and vegetables with the fewest pesticide residues, according to the Environmental Working Group. (That’s partly because the thick rind keeps out both bugs and pesticides.) And when they’re in season, watermelons are often locally grown, which means they may have a smaller carbon footprint than some other fruits.
So the next time you walk past the watermelon to get those petite plastic containers of expensive raspberries or blueberries, don’t forget the filling, economical fruit that comes in its own container.”
2. Pick up some greens, they are affordable and healthy!
“Yes, you’ve heard that leafy greens are nutritional superstars. But if you’re a typical American, the only greens in your grocery cart are likely to be lettuce and (maybe) spinach.
Nothing wrong with that, except that you’re missing out on powerhouse greens like kale, collards, turnip greens, mustard greens, and Swiss chard.
Why do you skip them? If you’re like most people, you don’t have the foggiest idea how to cook them. Our advice: Start with kale, which is one of the milder greens.
Sautéed Kale: Sautee some garlic in olive oil for a minute or two, then add the chopped, washed greens and cook until soft-anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes-stirring occasionally. Then squeeze on some lemon juice or add a splash of wine vinegar. For variety, try sautéing them with garlic, diced tomato, chickpeas and a pinch of red pepper flakes.
Marinated Kale Salad: super easy to make – but remember to let it marinate at least 4 hours before serving. Overnight marinating works well if serving for brunch.
Dressing: 1/3 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup Braggs Liquid Amino (sold at Shaws or local health food stores)
Salad: 1 – 2 bunches of kale, washed and torn into small pieces
1 medium purple onion, sliced into very fine long thin slices
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup sprouts (mung sprouts work well)
1/2 cup toasted sunflower and pumpkin seeds
Options: Sliced celery
Crumbled feta cheese
Marinate the kale and onion in the dressing for several hours. Add the remaining ingredients just before serving. Leftovers do well for a few days stored in the refrigerator.
Leafy greens are jam-packed with vitamins A, C and K, folate, magnesium, potassium, calcium, iron, lutein, and fiber. And people who eat them have a lower risk of diabetes, stroke, colon cancer, cataracts, bone loss, and memory loss. (Though it’s also possible that healthy people are more likely to eat greens.)
Either way, you’ve got a delicious new side dish that’s cheap, even if you buy it pre-cut in a bag.
Don’t pass greens by.”
Reference: Nutrition Action Health letter, May 2010
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A third of cancers, 45% of colon cancers and 38% of breast cancers can be prevented by diet and lifestyle choices
And that does not include the effects of not smoking! The American Institute for Cancer Research presented the findings of the most comprehensive report on cancer prevention policy ever undertaken at a Congressional briefing on Capitol Hill. (Not yet published in a peer-reviewed journal, the report is on the internet.) We can prevent over 45% of colon cancer cases and 38% of breast cancer cases in the U.S. by making changes in our diet, physical activity and weight control.
Think about it: 49,000 fewer cases of colon cancer and 70,000 fewer cases of breast cancer a year. Overall, a third of the most common cancers can be prevented. The bottom line is eating plant-based, non-refined diets, limit saturated fat and whole fat dairy, and avoid grilled meats, processed, salted or smoked beef. Nutrient changes may have the most impact on gastrointestinal cancers such as oral, esophagus, stomach and colon. The Mediterranean diet rich in olive oil, fruits, vegetables and seafood is helpful. Limiting body fat and staying physically active are important too.
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Wellness Tip: Painless Travel
Whether traveling alone on business or on the way to a sunny resort with the family, long hours in a car or an airplane can leave anyone stressed, tired, stiff and sore.
The Strain of Sitting
- Prolonged sitting can wreak havoc on your body. Even if you travel in a comfortable car or fly first class, certain pressures and forces from awkward positions can restrict the blood flow, building up pressure in the blood vessels, especially in your lower legs.
- Treat travel as an athletic event. Warm up before settling into a car or plane, and cool down once you reach your destination. Take a brisk walk to stretch your hamstring and calf muscles.
In an Airplane
- Stand up straight and feel the normal “S” curve of your spine. Then use rolled-up pillows or blankets to maintain that curve when you sit. Tuck a pillow behind your back and just above the beltline and put another pillow across the gap between your neck and the headrest. If the seat is hollowed from wear, use folded blankets to raise your buttocks.
- Check all bags heavier than 5 to 10 percent of your body weight. While lifting your bags, stand in front of the overhead compartment. Do not lift your bags over your head, rotate your spine, or turn or twist your head and neck in the process.
- When pushing your belongings under the seat, do not force the object with an awkward motion using your legs, feet or arms. This may cause muscle strain or spasms in the upper thighs and lower back muscles. Instead, sit in your seat, and gently guide your bags under the seat directly in front of you with your hands and feet.
- While seated, change your position occasionally to improve circulation and avoid leg cramps. Massage legs and calves. Bring your legs in, and move your knees up and down. Prop your legs up on a book or a bag under your seat.
- Do not sit directly under the air controls. A draft can increase tension in neck and shoulder muscles.
Travel by Car
- Sit as close to the steering wheel as comfortably possible, with knees slightly higher than your hips.
- Using a back support may reduce the incidence of low-back strain and pain. The widest part of the support should be between the bottom of your rib cage and your waistline.
- Exercise your legs while driving to reduce the risk of any swelling, fatigue or discomfort. Open your toes as wide as you can, and count to 10. Count to five while you tighten your calf muscles, then your thigh muscles, then your gluteal muscles. Roll your shoulders forward and back, while keeping your hands on the steering wheel and your eyes on the road.
- Loosen and tighten your grip on the steering wheel to improve hand circulation and decrease muscle fatigue in the arms, wrists and hands.
- While always being careful to keep your eyes on the road, vary your focal point while driving to reduce the risk of eye fatigue and tension headaches.
- Take rest breaks to avoid fatigue.
The Bottom Line
- If you follow these simple tips, you can enjoy pain free, safe travel.
- If you do experience pain and stress from travel, doctors of chiropractic are trained and licensed to diagnose and treat problems of the spine and nervous system.
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