Back pain is the worst, isn’t it? One of the main effects of back pain is that it means your back hurts and that pain makes you have a harder time moving around… so it’s harder to get out of bed, harder to get in and out of a car, and harder to sit for long periods of time at restaurants and movie theaters. Ugh.
But what are some lesser known effects of back pain? For one, it can mess with your mental well-being. Did you ever know someone who blames everything on their back pain? Their pain consumes them, to the point where they become depressed. Yes– depression and back pain are linked. Because the pain hurts, that person doesn’t do what they used to. So, if Joe Average used to go to the local YMCA and lift weights, but now his back hurts, he gives up working out. Then he sits at home watching TV and not interacting with people. He starts eating more and more junk food. Soon he’s not only depressed but he has gained ten pounds. His XL shirts don’t fit. He goes to the store to buy XXL shirts, which makes him more depressed. His back pain is controlling him, and not in a good way. “I’m a fat, miserable mess,” he tells himself.
Back pain is more than just a physical problem. It affects a person’s mood and their daily life. They don’t concentrate as well. They’re more irritable, lashing out at people. Their appetite and sleeping habits become abnormal. Stress levels are elevated. People with back pain can end up withdrawing from social situations. They might stop physical activity for fear of making it worse, even though that activity is good for them and could be helpful.
There’s the tendency to “catastrophize” their pain– magnifying it into something worse than it actually is, whereas their back pain is all they think about, talk about, and concentrate on. As you’d imagine, this is not good.
Now some people will resort to medication/drugs for their back pain. What about when they take too many pills at once and that messes with their overall health, leading to more problems? Or what if they get hooked on hard drugs, like heroin, because it “gives them relief.” That’s a road no one should go down.
Treating back pain involves both the structural problem and the psychological problem. Chiropractic care is important because it takes a drug-free, holistic approach to helping a person get better over time.
If back pain is ruining your life, please call Lakewoods Chiropractic in Forest Lake, MN, at 651-464-0800 or email [email protected] Make an appointment to get on the path to recovery.
Have you ever experienced a medication overuse headache? This occurs when using pain medications too frequently causes the headache! While they used to be known as “rebound headaches,” today they’re referred to as medication overuse headaches and to be considered such, they generally need to occur more than 15 days a month for at least three months straight. Who is most at risk? People who use narcotic and butalbital-containing meds. That said, those who use triptans, ergotamines, analgesics, opioids, and even certain over-the-counter meds can get them.
Keep in mind that pain medications affect how your brain functions. Research suggests that using certain pain medications frequently can lower your threshold for pain while reinforcing pathways that process pain. Thus, you get headaches.
Are you already a migraine sufferer? Then you’re more likely to develop medication overuse headaches.
Are you using simple analgesics like aspirin or ibuprofen, but exceeding the recommended daily dosage and doing so for more than two weeks? Then you’re likely to develop medication overuse headaches. Similarly, the use of combination pain relievers that include caffeine, aspirin and acetaminophen can bring on such headaches. Headaches can be exacerbated by even something as simple as drinking too much caffeine daily, so if you’re addicted to coffee, pop or Red Bull, you might need help weaning yourself off those drinks.
If you’re looking for a treatment that doesn’t involve drugs, consider chiropractic care. Dr. Jason Gerard can make a correction of the neck to relieve chronic headache syndromes. Meanwhile, adjusting the cervical spine is a way to fix the source of the headache condition in order to reduce the need for the person to take their particular medication. Ideally, chiropractic care on the neck and spine can lead to a person not having as many headaches, which means not having to take medication like they used to.
Why not make an appointment to see Dr. Gerard? He will see if you have a subtle shift in your top vertebra that needs correction in order to improve the way you feel. Please call Lakewoods Chiropractic in Forest Lake, MN, at 651-464-0800 or email [email protected]
It’s summertime, and that means a lot of people are enjoying time in the pool, river or lake. Minnesota winters can be cold and snowy, but come July and August, the temperature heats up and people flock to bodies of water for relaxation, fun, and exercise. And, of course, to cool off, too!
Can you “swim your way to health?” Yes. Swimming is an aerobic workout that works well for those who like being somewhat unshackled from the constraints of gravity. When you’re floating in the water, it’s almost like your light as a feather because you’re only feeling ten percent of your body weight. It’s not a load-bearing aerobic exercise like running is. Being in the pool means pressure is uniformly distributed– it’s “easy” on the body.
If and when you run or bike, it’s all about your lower body, right? Swimming, however, works more of your body’s muscle groups, including your core and upper body; it’s ideal for working the muscles of your middle back and upper arms.
For those who have back problems, swimming is good because your body is in a horizontal pose, which is better than, for example, the hunched over position of being on a bicycle. Swimming can also help improve your posture.
Have you been feeling lethargic? Try swimming to boost your energy levels. Not only does swimming get your heart pumping and blood flowing, but it also burns calories and fat. Have you seen swimmers’ bodies? They’re often quite attractive! Meanwhile, time in the pool helps a person reduce stress and feel better about life. That’s because swimming releases endorphins. You also focus on rhythmic movements and breathing to the point where it almost becomes meditative. Some people feel like their time in the pool is a much needed break from the noise and craziness of the world– a chance to tune everything else out and just focus on their body, mind and spirit.
Whether you’re in the shallow or deep end, with goggles or without, a great swimmer or not, time spent exercising in the pool ultimately makes you look and feel better. Try taking a group class at your local indoor/outdoor pool if you’ve never done so before– it could improve your life. This is the year that you should start to swim your way to health.
We hear a lot about “stress,” but when’s the last time you thought about what things trigger stress?
For most people, office work is the main cause of stress in their lives. Deadlines, bosses and working long hours can definitely cause stress. So can being handed a heavy load at work where you’re expected to do too much in too little time with too few resources. Are you unhappy in your job right now? Are you unsure about your job’s future? Do you have to deal with co-workers who are harassing you daily? Work can be a main source of stress in people’s lives.
Aside from work, there are other causes of stress. Any time you have a major change in your life and its routine, expect some stress. This can include changing jobs, changing spouses and/or moving somewhere new. Chronic illness and injury can lead to stress, as well as experiencing a traumatic event such as rape, theft or violence against you or someone close to you. Don’t forget money and all things financial– when there’s an increase in financial obligations, who doesn’t stress out thinking, “How am I going to pay for this?”
Stress involves change, fear and uncertainty, attitudes and perceptions, and having to deal with unrealistic expectations. While your mind is stressed out about being stressed, what are some physical symptoms affecting your health?
Typically, if you’re overly stressed, you’re going to have a hard time sleeping. Either you will sleep too little (insomnia) or you’ll sleep too much. Besides changes in sleeping habits, stress can also bring on muscle tension and aches, headaches, gastrointestinal problems, and fatigue. In other words, you’ll feel bad, and that’s not good.
Dr. Jason Gerard and his staff can help relieve some of your stress through chiropractic care, which focuses on the spine– the root of your nervous system. Chiropractic adjustments help ease muscle tension and cause your body to “go back to normal” so you’re not experiencing nerve interference-related pain.
Make an appointment today with Lakewoods Chiropractic in Forest Lake, MN, by calling 651-464-0800 or emailing [email protected]
Are you a jogger? Do you do a lot of running? If so, you might end up with running injuries if you push yourself too hard. What are some common running injuries you should know about?
First, there’s “runner’s knee,” which typically occurs when your kneecap gets out of alignment. If and when you feel pain around your kneecap while sitting with the knee bent for a long time, and/or going up or down stairs, you might have runner’s knee.
Next is a “shin splint.” If you run long distances and/or run several days a week, shin splints may occur whereas you feel pain in the front of your lower leg along the shin bone, also known as your tibia. Shin splints and stress fractures (a small crack in a bone in the shin and/or feet) are painful while doing activities– but can feel “okay” with rest. Interestingly, those with flat feet are more likely to develop shin splints.
Thirdly, there’s such a thing as “Achilles tendinopathy,” which is an inflammation of the Achilles tendon, located where the calf and heel meet.
Running injuries also include muscle pulls/strains, which are tears often caused by overstretching, as well as ankle sprains.
On the bottom of your foot, from your heel to your toes, there’s a band of tissue known as the plantar fascia. Runners often develop inflammation in this area, and the condition is known as “plantar fasciitis.” Oftentimes, runners visit a chiropractor to help relieve this pain.
What are some ways to prevent running injuries? Anytime you’ve got consistent pain in a muscle or joint and it’s not getting better with rest, you should see a professional rather than just ignore it and hope it goes away. It’s also a good idea to “check in” with a trainer to help guide you with your running plan. A trainer can help you determine the right amount and intensity of running to do, as well as long-term goals. Meanwhile, warming up and stretching before going for your jog, as well as stretching after you do, too, is a very smart thing to do. Strength training, with an emphasis on developing your core muscles/strength, helps prevent injuries. Rather than only running, it’s best to mix up your exercise time with other stuff like biking or swimming. This, in turn, helps prevent overuse injuries because you’re not always using the same muscles over and over.
If and when you do think you’re experiencing running injuries, and the pain/discomfort is becoming unbearable, make an appointment for relief at Lakewoods Chiropractic. Call the clinic at 651-464-0800.
Are optimists healthier? Well, spend an hour at an old folks’ home and you’ll get your answer in person. You’re going to find grouchy pessimists there as well as cheerful optimists. The ones who enjoy their days, smiling and laughing, will tell you they feel good! They’ll remind you of the Eric Idle song from Monty Python’s Life of Brian movie that says, “Always look on the bright side of life.” The ones with a scowl and nothing but complaints will literally talk your ear off about their problems, including many health ailments. Now who would you rather be around?
Optimists have been studied to see if their health truly was better than others, and the results were a resounding… YES! Researchers at the University of Illinois studied over 5,100 adults over 11 years. They took into account seven metrics used by the American Heart Association– things like blood pressure, body mass index, dietary intake and physical activity. Ultimately, this study found that there was a correlation between an optimistic attitude and improved cardiovascular health. The conclusion was this: optimists may be twice as likely to be in “perfect” heart health compared to pessimistic people.
What does being optimistic do for your body? It can help keep down your blood sugar and total cholesterol levels. It can strengthen your immune system and lower rates of depression. And it can kind of “mask” the effects of bad experiences.
Think of it this way: if something bad happens to a person, how will they react? Will a pessimist’s “blood boil?” Probably. An optimist, meanwhile, frames the bad experience in their mind as more neutral, such that they don’t get “all worked up over it.” Now the body can only take so much stress before parts start to wear out, so it makes sense that optimists do, indeed, live healthier lives.
How’s your attitude? Are you surrounded by optimists or pessimists? You know, they say you’re a lot like the five people you spend the most time with, so be careful who you choose for your inner circle. Anytime you can choose optimism, do so.
Have you ever experienced health problems that made it hard to breathe? If so, then you know how hard that was on your body, mind and spirit. After all, humans literally need to breathe to live. Anytime our breath is compromised, that can lead to bad things.
The air we breathe is about 21% oxygen. Some people go inside what’s called a “hyperbaric chamber” in order to breath 100% pure oxygen. In this chamber, oxygen gets delivered to the body at pressures greater than 1.5 to 2.5 times the normal sea level pressure. This sort of oxygen delivery super saturates the body with oxygen deep into the tissues and all body fluids. It can help grow new blood vessels. Now this might be “extreme,” but for some people, it really helps their overall health and well-being.
Here’s a question: do you snore when you sleep? A lot of people have sleep apnea and don’t even realize it. You might want to take a “sleep test,” where you’re monitored for a couple hours. When you’ve got obstructions, you might actually stop and start breathing in a way that’s ultimately bad for you. For those with sleep apnea, a machine that delivers oxygen continuously at night, via a mask, can truly help their overall health.
Breathing in more oxygen helps decrease inflammation in the body. You can breathe your way to wellness, because the better you breathe, the more likely pain in the body will decrease. Furthermore, feelings of depression will decrease, memory will improve, and even short/long term effects of brain injuries or concussions will subside. Want to speak better, think more clearly, and feel better, overall? It’s all in your breathing!
When you breathe, it’s best if you can be in a relaxed and peaceful environment. Remove yourself from stressful situations as much as possible. Take time to breathe more slowly, really taking in “bucketfuls” of air. Breathe in slowly and confidently through your nose and then breathe out through your mouth. Spell the word “r-e-l-a-x” in your mind as you do this. And here’s something you might not expect: take vocal lessons… you know, “singing.” At vocal lessons a lot of what you learn includes breathing techniques!
The better your breathe, the better you’ll feel.
Your body needs fat to function, but there are good and bad fats.
What are some unhealthy, aka “bad,” fats? Three types of unhealthy fats include saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol. Foods high in saturated fat include: chicken skin, turkey skin, gravy made with meat drippings, lard, sauces made with butter or cream, high-fat meats such as ground beef, bologna, hot dogs, sausage, bacon and spareribs, coconut/coconut oil, palm oil, palm kernel oil, whole milk, ice cream, full-fat cheese, and… brace yourselves… chocolate. Foods high in trans fat include: processed foods made with hydrogenated oil or partially hydrogenated oil, such as cookies, chips and cakes, along with stick margarine and shortening. Foods high in cholesterol include: chicken skin, turkey skin, egg yolks, liver and other organ meats, as well as high-fat meats and dairy products.
Ideally, you’ll want to avoid unhealthy fats because they can harm your heart. However, it can be hard to avoid these foods when they’re so prevalent at our grocery stores. Can you totally give up cookies, chips, and hot dogs? Probably not. But if they can be “once in a while” foods, that’s much better than “everyday” foods in your diet.
Then there are healthy, aka “good,” fats that are actually good for your heart, though they may also be high in calories, so keep that in mind. Healthy fats include monounsaturated fat, polyunsaturated fat, and Omega-3 fatty acids.
Foods high in monounsaturated fat include: avocado, canola oil, olives and olive oil, peanut butter and peanut oil, sesame seeds, and nuts, like almonds, cashews, pecans and peanuts. Foods high in polyunsaturated fat include: corn oil, cottonseed oil, safflower oil, soybean oil, sunflower oil, and oil-based salad dressings. Soft tub margarine, pumpkin, sunflower seeds, and walnuts are also high in polyunsaturated fat. Foods high in Omega-3 fatty acids include: albacore tuna, herring, rainbow trout, salmon, sardines, walnuts, flaxseed and flaxseed oil.
To avoid unhealthy fats and limit healthy fats when you cook, try grilling, roasting, or stir-frying in a small amount of healthy fat instead of frying foods in unhealthy fat. Coat pans with a squirt of healthy cooking spray. Take the skin off chicken and the fat off meat before you cook it. Bake with ground-up veggies or fruit with no added sugar. Use nonfat plain yogurt rather than butter and oil. And to top food, try lemon juice, vinegar, salsa, herbs, spices, hot sauce, plain nonfat yogurt, tomato sauce, or low-fat salad dressing when you want to avoid topping foods with fatty sauces.
If you’ve ever watched Star Trek, in any of its forms, you’ve probably heard the captain of the ship tell his or her crew, “Shields up!” If an enemy tried to fire on their ship, obviously they’d want good defense so the ship wouldn’t get damaged.
Our bodies are kind of like spaceships, in the sense that we need protection from invaders, too. Our “shields up” equates to the body’s immune system, which defends against infectious organisms, microbes, and other invaders. If and when something enters our system that’s “not right,” we naturally have an “immune response” which aims to quell and ultimately get rid of the nasty invader.
What are some ways to boost your immune system?
For starters, a good night’s sleep is essential. You should be getting about 8 hours of sleep per night. If the body isn’t well-rested, then the immune system is compromised. Sleep deprivation leads to an increase in the hormone cortisol– and when this happens for a prolonged period of time, the immune function gets suppressed. That’s not good. Also, keep in mind that stress isn’t good for you and your immune system either, so anything you can do to relieve stress helps. A lot of people make regular exercise routines part of their daily lives because exercise is a great stress reliever. If you haven’t been to the gym, taken a brisk walk around the neighborhood, or joined an organized sport lately, perhaps now’s the time to do so.
Next, it’s important to avoid tobacco smoke and drink less alcohol. Smoking and drinking aren’t good for you, in general, and both actions impair your immune system. Will it be easy to quit smoking or eliminate alcohol from your life? No. But with help, you can change… if you want to.
Also, to boost your immune system, there are certain things you’ll want to get more of in your daily diet. There are some nutrient-rich foods that will help: vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, shiitake mushrooms, and garlic are all very good for you. Add “probiotics” to your diet, too. Studies have shown these supplements help reduce the incidence of respiratory and gastrointestinal infections.
Finally, catch more sun rays because sunlight gets your body to produce Vitamin D. Something as simple as spending time outdoors in the sunshine for 10 to 15 minutes a day can help boost your immune system and make you feel healthier and happier. Ever wonder why people who live in cloudy cities seem so glum and sick all the time? Now you know! Meanwhile, people living in places like Florida seem to be happier and healthier. Where you live can truly affect your immune system and overall sense of well-being.
A lot people experience chronic back or neck pain. They have an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage. According to the International Association for the Study of Pain, that is what pain is. Basically, chronic pain is a sensation felt in a certain part of the body that is unpleasant enough to cause the person negative feelings. “It hurts so bad that I just can’t stand the pain doctor,” is a typical statement made to chiropractors, regarding chronic pain, which is the kind of pain that lasts 3 months or more.
When a professional encounters a person with chronic pain they are going to consider three things. First, they’ll assess the sensory dimension: where’s the pain at? Second, they’ll want to know the emotional dimension: how unpleasant is the pain for that person? And third, there’s the cognitive dimension: how’s the pain based on previous experience, is it causing fear/anxiety, and how should it be responded to?
Without getting too technical, chronic pain is not good for the brain. Over time, a person may develop anxiety and depression. Pain tends to give people psychological distress and cognitive distortion. Think of it this way: the pain hurts so bad that a person can’t think straight, and because they can’t think straight they get stressed out and frustrated. Then, they don’t take good care of themselves. It’s a slippery slope where it’s easy to fall into the kind of bad times where a person wants to “give up” and “not get out of bed.”
Some chronic pain syndromes people deal with include chronic headaches, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, and pelvic pain. These problems can lead to fatigue, unrefreshing sleep, and mood disturbances. Basically, chronic pain typically alters a person’s sleep and their cognitive function– and not in a positive way.
Have you been experiencing chronic pain in your body– especially the back and neck? Do you sometimes feel like you’ve got “brain fog?” Cognitive problems and musculoskeletal problems are often linked.
Regular visits to Lakewoods Chiropractic could help provide you some much needed relief. By reducing inflammation in the spots where you hurt, your body ultimately has the ability to heal itself. Make an appointment with chiropractor Dr. Jason Gerard at Lakewoods– call 651-464-0800 or you can email [email protected]