Veterans Need Chiropractic Care

Veterans Need Chiropractic Care

By Sherry McAllister, DC, executive vice president, Foundation for Chiropractic Progress

This month we mark Veterans Day. It is a special day set apart to remember the sacrifices of our military members who have served for the sake of our freedom. We honor their sacrifice and the sacrifice of their families.

Our Veterans and active military personnel deserve our highest respect, yet many struggle to receive the healthcare and treatment that they need. Nearly 50% of the members of the military will experience one or more injuries a year. Most common injuries are to the musculoskeletal system as sprains, strains, fractures, especially in the neck, back and lower legs. The physical exertion of active service for our military members means that they are always putting their health at risk to serve our country.

Chiropractic care has been recognized as a suitable treatment for all eligible VA patients since 2002. However, only a portion of the 152 VA centers offer chiropractic care services, and many Veterans struggle to receive these medical benefits as they are entitled too. Chiropractic care has been studied and found to be a drug-free pain management treatment for back pain and other musculoskeletal injuries. It has been shown to reduce the use of opioid painkillers.

Each November, we honor the men and women who have served our country. They put their lives on hold and sacrifice their health to protect our freedoms. We should do our best to ensure that the access they need for healthcare services like chiropractic care is easy.

 

When is the right time for an adjustment?

When is the right time for an adjustment?

by Sherry McAllister, DC, Executive Vice President, 

Making time for your chiropractic care can be tough. It’s hard to balance another appointment with your busy life. Luckily most adjustments are pretty quick! If you want to make the most of your chiropractic care, it can’t hurt to be a little strategic about when you book an appointment. Here are five opportune times to get adjusted.

Before you go to the gym. A chiropractic adjustment loosens up your muscles and aligns your neuro-musculoskeletal system. If everything is properly in place, you can avoid injury. An adjustment will also help relieve pain, which will make your workout a little easier.

When you feel a headache starting. We all know the familiar pangs at the start of a headache or migraine. If you can manage to get in for a quick adjustment, you may be able to relieve some of the neck and back tension causing your headache.

After sitting all day. Book an appointment on your commute home and all the stress of sitting at your desk will melt away. An adjustment can address back and neck tension caused by poor posture and inactivity.

When you are in pain. If you wake up sore, have constant pain, or an injury that won’t heal, it’s time to make an appointment. Chiropractic care is a drug-free pain management option that can help you find long-term relief.

When you feel stressed. Stress causes your body to tense up, which can cause muscle fatigue and throw your spine out of alignment. A chiropractic adjustment can loosen up your neuro-musculoskeletal system and release that tension.

There is no wrong time for a chiropractic adjustment. But if you want to get the most out of your care, it can’t hurt to book an appointment at the right time. Talk to your doctor of chiropractic about how to maximize the benefits of your visit. They will help figure out a care plan designed for your body and its specific needs. If you stick with your chiropractic care routine, the long-term benefits will be amazing for your body.

 

5 Ways You Could Be Affected by The Opioid Crisis

September is National Drug-Free Pain Management Awareness Month. This month-long awareness campaign was created to help fight back against the nationwide opioid crisis. The goal is to raise awareness of nonpharmacological pain management tools like chiropractic care that can help, instead of prescription painkillers.

Since the 1990s, when rates of painkiller prescriptions soared, the opioid crisis has been mounting. Now, it is a significant health crisis that can affect nearly every American. No one is immune to this issue. This crisis may influence you in one of these ways.

1.     You may lose someone you love. In 2017, more than 47,000 Americans died as a result of an opioid overdose. Too many people are suffering from the loss of loved ones who suffered from opioid addiction issues.

2.     You may develop an addiction. If you receive a prescription for opioids, the powerfully addictive nature of the drugs may cause you to abuse it. Nearly 21- 29% of patients prescribed an opioid for chronic pain will begin to misuse the drugs. This misuse often leads to more substantial drug use, including heroin, cocaine and other street drugs.

3.     A baby you know may be born with neonatal abstinence syndrome. The rates of children born suffering from opioid withdrawal have steadily climbed. Nearly 32,000 children were born with this syndrome in 2004. That’s almost one baby every 15 minutes. This issue costs our nation $563 million in treatment costs, as well as causing significant harm to the most vulnerable members of our society.

4.     Your teen may develop a substance abuse disorder. The opioid crisis increasingly harms injured teen athletes. Many athletes who have been prescribed a painkiller begin to abuse the drug. The University of Michigan found that 11% of high school athletes had used a narcotic pain reliever or opioid for non-medical purposes. That means that nearly 1 in 9 students has abused a prescription to get high.

5.     Your healthcare needs may be restricted. The opioid crisis costs our nation $78.5 billion in healthcare, law enforcement and lost productivity in 2015. As this crisis grows, more money will have to be spent to combat this issue, leaving other vital healthcare services in the lurch. Medical research and training which could be devoted to other health care issues, must be used to study the effects of this crisis.

 There are so many ways we are all affected by the opioid crisis. These are only a few of the most prominent. As a nation, we need to start taking action to fight against this issue and look for healthier ways to deal with pain. That’s why National Drug-Free Pain Awareness Month is so important. This campaign was created to raise awareness of drug-free pain management, like chiropractic care. We have three free toolkits available for download, full of information to share with others about the dangers of opioids and the benefits of chiropractic care. Do your part to fight back against the opioid crisis by advocating for chiropractic care and sharing your positive experiences with it!

 

 

September is Drug-Free Pain Management Awareness Month

You might wonder why, with 130 Americans dying every day from opioid overdoses, F4CP even needs to raise awareness about available drug-free pain management. Then, among all the statistics pouring out, comes one pointing out that less than 20 percent of the public consider chronic pain a major health problem.

Chronic pain affects more people than diabetes, cancer and heart disease combined, according to the PAINS Project. While it might be easy to dismiss the overdoses as an urban problem confined to junkies in dark alleys, the truth paints a far different picture. For starters, 80 percent of heroin addicts began with prescription painkillers, reported the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Even more telling, 68 percent of the 70,200 overdose deaths in 2017 involved prescription or illicit opioids. Prince and Tom Petty put a public face to the epidemic, but it reaches much deeper, from those struggling with chronic pain to teens raiding their family’s medicine chest and unborn babies who have no choice in sharing their pregnant mothers’ addictions.

But, as the 2017 Gallup-Palmer College of Chiropractic annual report discovered, 78 percent of Americans prefer to try other ways of dealing with their chronic pain before filling a prescription. And a growing number of groups, including the American College of Physicians, have called for drug- and surgery-free chiropractic care as a first line defense in fighting back pain.

Statistics, most recently a study involving active-duty military personnel, back up their support. The findings, reported by JAMA in 2018, found that chiropractic care, when added to standard care, brought moderate short-term improvements.

It’s a finding mirrored in other statistics. Ninety-five percent of Americans who sought chiropractic care in the past year said it was effective, according to the 2017 Gallup-Palmer College report, and 97 percent of them said they would see a doctor of chiropractic again if the pain returned.

Then there are public accounts, such as Ret. Army Staff Sgt. Shilo Harris, who was seriously injured in Iraq when his Humvee hit an Improvised Explosive Device (IED). Once addicted to his prescription painkillers, he now says his doctor of chiropractic “saved my life.”

How does it relieve the pain? According to Harvard Health, the spinal manipulation relieves the pain and improves the body’s functions, helping it to heal itself. Doctors of chiropractic often include physical activity, nutrition and other lifestyle changes in their treatment plans. And in talking with doctors of chiropractic, we often find that it was their own positive experience in receiving chiropractic care that prompted them to become a DC themselves.

If you see one of our new billboards around the country, you’ll see our simple message that says, “Back pain? See a chiropractor.”

Now you know why.

Protect your back while you exercise

More than 80% of Americans will experience back pain at some time. What can you do to protect yourself from back pain? Exercise! Physical fitness is one of the best ways to protect your back and overall health. Focus on your core and back muscles to keep your spine healthy and active.

Are you afraid to exercise because you might hurt your back? Don’t let this fear hold you back. With the proper precautions, you can stay physically active even with back issues. Try these tips:

  • Talk to your doctor of chiropractic. A doctor of chiropractic earns a minimum of seven years of higher-level education. They are trained to understand your spinal health and help you feel your best. They can recommend stretches and exercises as well as regular adjustments to keep your back healthy.
  • Stretch your hamstrings. Tight hamstrings can cause back pain. If you focus on simple stretches to loosen up these muscles, your back will thank you.
  • Proper posture. Bad posture throws off your entire neuro-musculoskeletal system. Your doctor of chiropractic can help your correct positions that may be affecting your athletic performance or causing injury.
  • Lifting wrong: Straining your back muscles while lifting weights or other objects can cause injury. Your back muscles need to be supported by your leg muscles when lifting weights. Bend at the knee, and lift slow with a straight back to protect yourself. Consult a personal trainer or weightlifting coach if you are worried about your form.
  •  Listen to your body. Your body changes as you age and grow, and that affects your athletic performance. A 40-year-old man can’t do the same things he did as a teenage athlete. Know your limits and be smart while playing sports.

Physical activity is essential for your overall health. Don’t let back pain stop you from doing the activities you enjoy. Be smart and safe while exercising and you’ll enjoy years of fun physical activities.

Ten Reasons You Need To Fix Your Posture

Ten Reasons You Need To Fix Your Posture

By Dr. Sherry McAllister, executive vice president, Foundation for Chiropractic Progress

Have you ever watched a toddler sit cross-legged? They sit with their backs straight, and it feels natural to them. Most adults don’t follow the example of young children. We hunch while we walk, slump at our desks and crane our necks forward staring at our phones. This poor posture can hurt our health. These ten reasons are why you need to start fixing your poor posture today:

    1. It can cause tension headaches. Leaning forward with your head down and your neck slumped will strain your back and neck muscles. This tension can cause headaches, especially at the end of the day.
    2. It makes you tired. Slouching puts pressure on your lungs, so you aren’t able to breathe as deeply. The less oxygen you get into your body, the more tired and fatigued you will start to feel.
    3. It can make your gastrointestinal reflux worse. Your stomach and organs are all under pressure when you are leaning forward. This pressure can make your digestive system very unhappy, especially if you are already prone to digestive issues.
    4. It causes back pain. The strain of poor posture puts your spine out of alignment which can cause back and muscle pain. Your doctor of chiropractic can provide regular adjustments to realign your spine. Ask for help on correcting your posture, too.
    5. It increases your risk of cardiovascular disease. Poor posture can cause blood vessel constriction leading to blood clots and vein disorders. All of these issues can eventually turn into cardiovascular disease.
    6. It can cause pinched nerves. Have you ever pinched a nerve? It hurts. It can happen in any part of your body, and it can be difficult to relieve the pain. Chiropractic adjustments can help.
    7. It can increase knee pain. The misalignment of the spine that occurs from poor posture puts more pressure on your joints, especially your knees. If you have arthritis of the knee, it will gradually get worse over time. Your doctor of chiropractic can help to fix your alignment and relieve some of the pressure from your knees.
    8. It can make ruin your mood. 2014 Health Psychology report found that people who sat upright reported higher self-esteem, alertness, better mood and felt less fear. Sit up straight, and you’ll feel a little better.
    9. It can wreck your bite. Poor spinal alignment can misalign your jaw joints. This can change the way you bite down. It can cause jaw pain, teeth issues or temporomandibular joint syndrome (TMJ).
    10. It can affect your sexual function. Poor posture, while you are sitting, shortens and tightens your pelvic floor muscles. When these muscles start to get weak, it can affect your sexual performance and enjoyment.

These are just a few of the side effects of poor posture. Instead of dealing with any of these issues, see your doctor of chiropractic instead. He or she can help keep your spine healthy with regular adjustments. As you progress in your treatment, you can correct bad posture and the effects it may have on your overall health. Sit, stand and walk straight to feel healthier!

Becoming a Doctor of Chiropractic

Becoming a Doctor of Chiropractic

by Sherry McAllister, DC, executive vice president, Foundation for Chiropractic Progress

Maybe you’re interested in becoming a doctor of chiropractic (DC). Maybe you’re wondering what kind of training your own DC has been through. We can help with some details.

When you go to your chiropractor for care, you’re seeing a practitioner with a Doctor of Chiropractic degree. They receive this degree from a nationally accredited chiropractic school. Many chiropractic programs require an undergraduate degree for entry, but that can vary from school to school. At minimum, 90 hours of college coursework prerequisites are necessary before entering a chiropractic school. Most applicants already possess a B.S. degree.

While enrolled in the program, students will take courses similar to those attending medical school. Anatomy, physiology, pathology, biology, chemistry are part of the curriculum, as well as nutrition, rehabilitation and public health. A large portion of their schooling is spent in clinical training, giving them countless hours of experience with patient care before even graduating. When combined, time in clinical training, classroom settings and lab experiences totals over 4,200 hours.

Once the program is complete, graduates are required to pass an exam governed by the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners. Each state also issues licenses for their practitioners. Maintaining a license is contingent on continued education and training throughout the entire course of a chiropractor’s career.

The training to become a doctor of chiropractic is challenging and stringent. If you’re considering a career in the chiropractic field, you will work hard but be rewarded with a degree that can help people manage their health issues in a drug-free manner. Ask your own chiropractor about their experience! 

A good stretch

A good stretch will do you (and your spine) good

by Sherry McAllister, DC, executive vice president, Foundation for Chiropractic Progress

Chiropractic care is one of the best things that you can do for your body and overall health. Your doctor of chiropractic is interested in helping your body stay in balance through non-invasive measures like spinal adjustments. He or she may offer other advice to help keep you on the right track. Enter dynamic stretching.

There’s something about maintaining a regular stretching routine that goes hand in hand with regular chiropractic care. Here’s why:

Maybe you’re the type who doesn’t stretch at all or maybe you already take 5 minutes for a quick warm-up before a workout. Regardless, it’s time you learned about dynamic stretches, which use more of the body and better prepare muscles and joints.

Static, the opposite, means holding a position for a period of time with lesser challenge to the body. These stretches can actually inhibit the muscles’ firing ability during exercise. Think of the kinds of stretches you learned in gym class growing up.

Dynamic stretches are controlled movements that warm up your body gently. These do not involve jerky motions but rather smooth swinging moves using momentum to increase range of motion. Picture a swimmer behind the blocks, getting ready for a race. She circles her arms around in different directions then pulls one knee at a time to her body. Or think of a runner lunging from side to side and then swinging his legs forward and back. These are all great dynamic stretching examples. There are lots of other routines to more effectively get your entire body ready for physical activity.

Most people stretch to warm up or to ready their muscles. But while static stretching may loosen your muscles to an extent, they aren’t actually warmed and ready to go. A more dynamic stretch can target specific areas of the body, depending on the muscles that are used. By getting your body ready for the task ahead, your range of motion will be improved, which in turn gives you a better quality workout. The muscles as well as joints are warmed and prepared, reducing risk of injury and increasing overall flexibility.

 

Ask your doctor of chiropractic about dynamic stretching. It’s one of the best things you can do to prepare your body for exercise. Your spine will thank you, too!

Let’s talk feet!

For the most part, our feet happily do their job each day, absorbing pressure five times our body weight as if it were nothing.

We also know when something like an annoying stubbed toe comes up, we realize how much we really do depend on them keeping us mobile. But there is more riding on those durable soles. Our feet – and even more specifically, the footwear we force them into – affect the all-important posture that keeps us pain-free. (And we’re not just talking about pinched toes!)

So if you want to avoid lower back pain – and keep that satisfying sense of well-being after visiting your doctor of chiropractic – you might want to weed these shoes out of your closet.

• Open-back sandals and flip-flops in particular make us feel free, or at least a few steps away from the beach. We are seeing them more often, even in professional settings. But they aren’t doing you any favors! Because they have no structure – think of toes used as little claws to keep them on – you’re forced to use other tendons and muscles to keep you going. And that does not provide the stability to keep you standing tall and free of back pain. Studies prove it; admit it and scrap the strappy footwear.

• You know high heels are taboo. When the heels are two inches or higher, you are pitched forward, affecting the spine, hips, knees, ankles and feet. Even worse, if you are a chronic wearer, reversing the damage isn’t as easy as changing your shoes. Your calf muscles become cramped and bulge as they adjust to keeping your body in balance. Don’t head down that slippery slope.

• And the answer isn’t flats. Again, a flat shoe offers no arch support, leading to a whole new set of woes. Anything that forces you to adjust your gait to stay in balance is going to affect your posture … and eventually your back.

• Been there already? Pitch the worn shoes that slip you into that familiar gait. It is time to give your feet some TLC with features that pamper your posture.

• So where does that leave us? They exist, but it is going to take time to adjust. Look for shoes that fit well with room for your toes. You want good arch support and an inclined sole. And be sure to do some stretching exercises, undoing the damage already done.

Your back will thank you, your feet will throw a party and you will make your doctor of chiropractic very happy. And, as always, the others are fine in moderation, like a special night out. But just watch how quickly you are ready to get out of them at the end of the night. That says it all!

Fighting cabin fever

Fighting cabin fever

We’re in the home stretch now, the holiday is behind us as we work our way through the remnants of winter. Just thinking about seeing those first crocuses poking through the ground warms the heart.

But chances are most of us aren’t thinking about spring right now. We’re locked in a bad case of cabin fever. There is a reason why February, only 28 days long unless Leap Year adds one, feels like it will never end.

Compounding things is the natural letdown that follows weeks of festivities. Is it any wonder we feel like crawling under a rock until the sun comes back out? There is even a name for it – seasonal affective disorder – for those hit the hardest.

Fortunately, as your doctor of chiropractic can tell you, there are ways to turn it around, though it will mean fighting the season’s natural inclinations. No more coming home from eight hours behind the desk to spend the next five wrapped in a blanket in front of the television. It will be well worth the effort!

Stay active

The outcome of a sedentary lifestyle is well-documented, affecting everything from mobility and balance to risk of depression. What many don’t realize is that it doesn’t take daily trips to the gym to change things around. Start by setting a timer at work and taking a few minutes each hour to walk around. In the morning or later in the day, look up the myriad of stretching routines online and get things moving. Soon, you may find yourself naturally taking the stairs, getting out more and maybe even heading for the gym. Bring on the endorphins!

Eat smart

Adding more anti-inflammatory foods to your diet – and removing inflammatory ones like sugar and processed foods – is good for easing the joint pain that normally comes with colder temperatures. But a recent study showed that it can also decrease your risk of depression by 30 percent. That Mediterranean spread is starting to look tastier, isn’t it?

Try a change of scenery

Cruising around the Bahamas right now would probably cheer anyone up. But any change in routine can freshen your day. Take a new route to work. Plan a weekend getaway, checking into a hotel with a pool, hot tub and complimentary breakfast. Take the kids to an escape room and spend an hour trying to break free. Maybe you’ll learn something in the process!

Visit your doctor of chiropractic

A body in balance equips you to make the most of your lifestyle changes. And staying active, eating better and getting a good night’s sleep helps your body stay in alignment, making it a win-win situation all around. An added bonus: Your doctor of chiropractic is trained in all of the above and can come up with a plan that works for you.

And consider this: You are going to be in great shape to enjoy spring when it finally gets here!