Tag archives

neck pain

Exercise for Chronic Pain

For years research has been conducted into the benefits of exercise for chronic low back and neck pain. Even though we know exercise is good for us, we don’t really know a lot about how it is prescribed in real-life situations (practice).  Recently, a large survey was done of 2700 people who reported having chronic neck or low back pain. The results are published in an article in Arthritis & Rheumatism.

Of these 2700 people, 48% had been prescribed exercise after visiting a physical therapist, chiropractor of family doctor in the past year. 33% of all people who visited a chiropractor were prescribed exercise for their pain, compared to 64% of PT patients and 14% of MD patients. Overall, the type of provider, as opposed to any characteristics of the patient was the greatest predictor of exercise prescription.

With chiropractic specifically in this instance, the rate of exercise prescription seemed to increase with number of visits. This supports the common practice pattern of reducing pain and increasing function before commencing rehabilitation.

This is a huge wake up call to all health care providers – exercise was prescribed to less than half the patients with chronic back pain, even though we know it is one of the most effective forms of treatment. We need to make sure we are getting our patients active, and helping them to stay that way!

Dr. Debbie Wright is a practicing Comox Valley Chiropractor.

Computer Causing Neck Pain and Headaches?

I can’t tell you the number of patients I see on a daily basis who have serious neck pain and headaches from sitting at their computers all day. Many people have horrible set-ups with low chairs, high screens or laptops. Others simply sit in the position for hours on end without moving, only to go home and play video games or do more work on the computer. Returning to the same position day after day causes these problems to build up to a point where they just won’t go away.

A growing proportion of these people in my office tend to be students. That is why I was very interested in an article that recently was published in the journal Cephalalgia. 1,073 students were evaluated for neck pain and headaches, computer use and other associated factors.

Results showed that 26% of students reported suffering from headaches (interestingly, twice as many females as males). 20% reported neck pain and 7% reported both. The median computer use time per week was listed as 8.5 hours, with the overall range being 0-28 hours. When psycho-social factors were surveyed, females scored higher than males (more problems).

The researchers found that high hours of computer work was positively associated with neck pain, but not with headache pain. Higher psycho-social scores were found to be associated with higher incidence of neck pain.

This study not only shines light on the negative impact of computer use on adolescent health, it also shows that people of this age group do report a high amount of pain and headache symptoms. It suggests that in addition to manual treatment to relieve symptoms, that sufficient time be spent by the clinician educating the adolescent on ergonomics, posture and stretching.

Dr. Debbie Wright is a practicing Comox Valley Chiropractor.

Chiropractic Care for Neck Pain – Is it Safe?

A current study published in Spine set out to determine the relationship between benign adverse events (reactions to treatment) and outcomes (neck pain and disability, perceived improvement) in a group of people who received chiropractic care for their neck pain.

529 patients participated in the study. 56% of the participants reported an adverse event during the first 3 treatments, and only 13% graded it as “intense”. Muscle or joint pain events were the most common types reported, and none of the events were considered serious.

The researchers found that if someone reported an “intense” adverse event during any one of the first 3 visits, they were less likely to report recovery on the fourth visit. What is interesting about this is that they didn’t have significantly more neck pain or disability than those who didn’t experience an adverse event.

At a follow-up 3 months later, those who had “intense” adverse events experienced the same recovery and pain reduction as those who didn’t have any adverse events.

The bottom line here is that even if someone reports an adverse event or reaction after treatment, it did not negatively affect their outcomes or recovery at 3 months. Moreover, it was only those who had an “intense” adverse events that reported less recovery in the short term (13% of participants).

It is also important to note that out of 4,891 treatments, no serious adverse events occurred. This adds validity to the current view that “the benefits of chiropractic care for neck pain seem to outweigh the potential risks.”

Dr. Debbie Wright is a practicing Comox Valley Chiropractor.

How Chiropractic Can Help You

Chiropractic is a safe and effective form of treatment for neuro-musculoskeletal complaints. Below is a 30-minute video produced by the BC Chiropractic Association detailing how chiropractic can help you. Whether its a workplace injury, motor vehicle accident or chronic headache, discover how your local chiropractor can get you back on the road to recovery.

[viddler id=755952b3&w=437&h=370]

Dr. Debbie Wright is a practicing Comox Valley Chiropractor.

Chiropractic is Safe and Effective

Myth #4: Chiropractic treatment is dangerous.

A great synopsis of the risks associated with chiropractic treatment was recently published in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics. While the full text article can be found at the bottom of this post, the summary is as follows:

This synopsis provides an overview of the benign and serious risks associated with chiropractic care for subjects with neck or low-back pain. Most adverse events associated with spinal manipulation are benign and self-limiting. The incidence of severe complications following chiropractic care and manipulation is extremely low. The best evidence suggests that chiropractic care is a useful therapy for subjects with neck or low-back pain for which the risks of serious adverse events should be considered negligible. (J Manipulative Physiol Ther 2008;31:461-464)

This synopsis references a previous study published in Spine which found that the risk of experiencing a stroke following a visit to a chiropractor was equal to the risk of experiencing a stroke following a visit to a family doctor. It led the authors to conclude that “The increased risks of VBA stroke associated with chiropractic and PCP (family doctor) visits is likely due to patients with headache and neck pain from VBA dissection seeking care before their stroke. We found no evidence of excess risk of VBA stroke associated chiropractic care compared to primary care.” So, people who are already having a stroke will experience neck pain and headaches, and will logically go and see either their chiropractor or their family doctor. It is not the treatment of either of these practitioners that causes the stroke to happen.

In summary, there are risks of adverse events with chiropractic treatment. These risks are small and self-limiting, and the risks of severe complications are very small. When compared to other common treatments such as taking medication or surgery, chiropractic is a very safe form of treatment for neck and low back pain.

Synopsis of Chiropractic Safety

Dr. Debbie Wright is a practicing Comox Valley Chiropractor.

Top 5 Ways to Avoid Morning Pain

One of the most common things I hear in my Comox Valley Chiropractic clinic is a complaint of pain in the morning. This can happen for two main reasons.

Most people think that their morning pain is due to sleeping on an old pillow or mattress. It is true that an un-supportive mattress or pillow will hold the body in an improper position for the duration of the night. This can slowly but surely irritate your spine and all its structures resulting in pain and stiffness upon waking. However, this is not the main cause of pain in the morning.

In my opinion, this pain results from the aggravation of an already existing condition. Most musculo-skeletal conditions heal faster and feel better with exercise, and feel worse when you have to sit or stand in one position for too long. When you have a pre-existing condition that is giving you some problems, or perhaps one that hasn’t started to hurt yet but is on the verge of appearing, it can be very sensitive to sleeping positions. A stiff spine coupled with staying in one position for 6-8 hours (tossing and turning doesn’t count!) is a recipe for more pain when you get up.

So, what do you do? Here are my top 5 tips for avoiding this pain (in the order you should try them):

1. Exercise more. Regular cardio exercise will help to keep the spine healthy and flexible, and can often work out the stiffness that builds up after 8 hours at the computer. The more active you are, the more your body will tolerate longer periods of time spent inactive.

2. Stretch more. A good round of stretching before bed, and regularly throughout the day, will ensure good flexibility of the spine. Flexibility helps to keep the spine healthy, whether active or inactive.

3. Get a new pillow. You don’t have to go out and spend excessive amounts of money at the start. I usually tell my patients to simply get a new regular pillow. If that doesn’t do the trick, then start looking into more specialized pillows. Different people respond to different pillows, so you need to find the one that works best for you.

4. Visit your Comox Valley Chiropractor. If you have tried 1 through 3 and can’t seem to get the pain under control, it may be that you need some help. Chiropractic treatment will restore the proper functioning of the muscles, joints and nerves of your spine allowing you to maintain your health with the above options. Sometimes when the dysfunction has built up you need some help to get rid of it.

5. Get a new bed. If your bed is older than 10 years old, or all other options haven’t worked, this is a good idea. I recommend buying a bed on the firmer side, and adding a mattress pad to soften it up if needed. If you buy a bed that is too soft to begin with, there is not a lot you can do. You spend 1/3 of your life in bed sleeping, and so its a good idea to take the purchase of this important piece of furniture seriously.

If you have any additional questions, please feel free to contact your Comox Valley Chiropractor for more information.

Boot Camp Benefits

As a former resident of Kitsilano, there were certain things that I felt morally obligated to stay away from. I don’t own one piece of Lululemon gear. I don’t own a miniature dog and if I did, I certainly wouldn’t dress him up. I don’t have any kids, and so I don’t own one of those massive strollers that part the seas while being pushed down 4th avenue.

And so it was with extreme reluctance that I agreed to try out a bootcamp class run by a friend of mine. How Leigh managed to drag me out at 7 am on a November morning, I’ll never know. Since that first week, I’ve been hooked.

Leigh’s bootcamp classes combine cardio exercise, strength training and circuit training in order to give you the overall workout that the gym just never seems to attain. The main reason for this is that you are motivated (or forced?) to do all those exercises you would never do on your own in appropriate numbers – squats, lunges, burpees and pushups.

The one thing I reinforce with all of my patients is the importance of regular exercise. It is that one magic pill that will help with everything – back pain, neck pain, arthritis, weight loss etc. etc. Unfortunately, it is difficult to find types of exercise that are both convenient, effective and fun.

So if you’re looking for a great exercise plan that is easy to do, with an instructor that is both motivating and not even the least annoying, I would highly recommend Leigh (leigh@survivorbootcamp.com) and her Kerrisdale bootcamp. This Comox Valley Chiropractor gives her the thumbs up, and still loves seeing her face in the morning after 6 months!