I’ve Selected Five Topics for Home-care Recommendations:
I will give you some tips on how to treat your own back pain. Small acts that you can do on a daily basis such as the five I will recommend will pay dividends in reduction you back pain and overall health.
- Sleeping instructions
- Stress reduction
- Dietary methods to reduce pain and inflammation
- How to sit at your desk and have good posture
- Nutritional support for joints
The more of these recommendations you can incorporate into your lifestyle, the quicker you can put your health issue behind you. If you have any questions about any of the recommendations, be sure to ask me during your next visit to the office.
The More You Know, the Healthier You Will Be
Knowledge is power! When I was in post-graduate school, every day was so amazing to me because I was learning so much! I found out why I had neck pain from sitting at my desk in a certain way, why my arm felt numb when I woke up in the morning, why taking a little mini-vacation during the middle of the day is one of the best stress-busters, and all sorts of things like that.
As I see it, you can now be the recipient of all that knowledge—without paying for the expensive education! Everything you learn here is to help make your life easier.
Things Your Parents, Teachers, and Doctor Never Told You!
Every day we learn many new facts and bits of information. For example, when we turn on the radio or television, someone is usually speaking about a current event, past event, new research, or new products that promise amazing results. We even learn information by watching game shows that test our knowledge…and compare it with that of a fifth-grader.
We learn from our friends, coworkers, bosses and other employees, parents and grandparents. We also learn from every professional we hire—dentist, medical doctor, chiropractor, lawyer, accountant, website master, and personal trainer.
As researchers discover more and more knowledge, our knowledge has to be updated. Remember when you were a child, taught to wash your hands with bar soap? Years later, there was a shift to antibacterial soaps. And now, the latest research is that good ol’ regular bar soap is really the best way to get our hands clean and keep bacterial counts low.
Have you noticed there are gaps in knowledge about how to do things “right” or “better”? For example, years ago when you had a fever, your parents tucked you into bed with a dose of aspirin and covered you with a light blanket. You slept on a flat pillow, and a few stuffed animals surrounded you. They believed they were doing everything they could do to help you get better. Now knowledge has progressed to the point where we know it’s possible to burn out a fever by piling up the blankets and administering some anti-infectious herbs. We know the flat pillow might have been OK for you as a young child, but as your body grows, the pillow width should also grow to fit the curve in your neck.
There are time gaps in our knowledge, and some of these gaps might contribute to delayed recovery from whatever ails you. As a doctor, I am well educated as a health-myth buster, ready to fill in any time gaps in knowledge! I keep up-to-date on the latest research findings and love to educate my patients about how to stay healthy. It’s only when you’re healthy that I’m happy!
Be sure to look for our next blog! If you haven’t gotten your free copy of my latest book make sure and download your copy here today or swing by the office at 4549 Catclaw Drive in Abilene,TX and ask for a copy!
Psychological Stress and Pain
Being in control of your life and having realistic expectations about your day-to-day challenges are the keys to stress management, which is perhaps the most important ingredient to living a happy, healthy, and rewarding life.
Have you ever noticed that pain increases during times of stress? Why is that? Emotions are a powerful force. We feel emotions every day. Women tend to be very in touch with their emotions, and those emotions can manifest in a variety of ways. Some can create havoc and a vicious cycle for musculoskeletal dysfunction.
Emotional stress can be contributed to nearly every health ailment known to mankind. Stress can reduce blood supply, create tight muscles, reduce oxygen, and release hormones that trigger inflammation, limit your ability to repair joints, and cause nerves to be overactive. Stress must be kept in check in order to manage chronic back and neck pain. Your body’s response to a short-term stress is known as the “fight-or-flight” mechanism. When you are being chased by a bear, you want your body to move all its blood away from areas of your body, such as your intestines and stomach, to the skeletal muscles so you can run away as fast as you can. That is necessary as long as it is short-lived. When your body perceives stress for long periods of time—weeks, months, years—you create a neurological reflex of tight muscles that can actually change the shape of your spine over time, irritate joints, and pull vertebrae out of alignment. Chronic stress slowly but surely starts to degenerate you nerves and your brain. The physiology of chronic stress is a topic for another book, but underlying stress is the source of many if not most ailments. Not all stresses are easily identified.
A patient named Misty is a 35-year-old mother of four, working 30 hours a week as a telemarketer. She and I were talking about the chronic muscle pain in her shoulders and hips. When I asked about stress in her life, she replied, “Dr. Morgan, I don’t really have stress. Everything is going well. I have a job I like, my family is healthy—I don’t really have any stress in my life.” Well you might not perceive things as stresses, but your body sure does. I asked her to walk me through her day. She begins by getting up two times a night with an infant, starts her morning with three cups of coffee while trying to get the kids up and dressed, often running late she decides to not cook breakfast and picks up doughnuts at the bakery, still late she eats in the car on the way to drop the older kids at school, goes to work, has one more cup of coffee, works for several hours, skips lunch and instead replaces it with a Red Bull or Monster Energy drink, and snack on a bag of chips while working. Hang on—there’s more…. She leaves work, picks up a few kids, hurries home to cook and clean for the kids, eats a TV dinner and drinks a cola, helps with homework, bathes kids, and does some laundry. She doesn’t even have time to sit down and unwind before bed. By about 9:00 p.m., she hits a brick wall, knowing she should go to bed, but decides to have one more cup of coffee or iced tea for a pick-me-up so she can finish some work around the house. In bed by 10:30 p.m., she has difficulty going to sleep because she says she can’t turn her mind off. After lying in bed for about an hour, she decides to take a sleeping pill. Her infant wakes up twice, usually around 1:00 a.m. and again at 4:00 a.m. Her alarm goes off at 6:00 a.m., when she gets up to start all over again.
I explained to Misty that even though she might not believe she has any stress—such as a loss of a loved one, difficulty at work, or a child who is disobedient or having issues at school—the amount of caffeine she consumes and poor dietary habits are just as bad. Caffeine is a stimulant and, if not kept in moderation, the body’s chemistry and nervous system perceive the stimulation as a constant fight-or-flight response. She doesn’t sit and eat at a slow or normal rate, she is rushed everywhere she goes, and it’s difficult for her to find the time to be in a rest-and-digest state. She eventually burns out the adrenal glands, responsible for stress hormones, and the body now feels it constantly needs stimulants to function.
High levels of stress hormones make it easy to put on weight around your waist, decrease your lifespan, and accelerate the progression of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and dementia.
So, how should you deal with and ease emotions and stresses that might not be in your control? Check out my next blog on how to deal and tips you can use! Call and schedule your next appointment.
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You may hate gravity, but gravity doesn’t care.
A common query I get is, “Dr. Morgan, I feel better and want to stay this way. What can I do at home to help ease pain? My friend has an inversion table—do they work?” It depends on your condition and the type of inversion table. As a general rule, inversion therapy is useful for those who suffer from pinched nerves or nerve-based pain, bulging or herniated discs, and degenerative disc disease. I have patients who incorporate their treatments in our clinic and at-home inversion therapy with great success.
Inversion therapy acts in a similar manner as computerized spinal decompression therapy, which is utilized in our clinic every day. Inversion tables are not quite as effective or sophisticated as computerized spinal decompression therapy, due to the fact that you are not able to control the amount of weight that is being pulled on your spine and can place you back in different positions, to properly position you back depending on the spinal condition that is causing pain. You also need to be in relatively good health, having the ability and mobility to maneuver yourself on the table.
An inversion table inverts the body into an upside-down or partial upside-down position. The idea behind this therapy is to reverse the effects of gravity, which can compress or squish the spinal discs or cushions that are in between the vertebrae.We discussed compressed disc and the impact it can have on your back pain in a earlier blog. The table allows you to stretch your spine out, providing room for discs to reabsorb fluids and move back into their proper positions.
There is only one inversion table I recommend, because it is the best I have found in the market. It is called the Total Back Solution Inversion Table My patients who are interested in inversion therapy take their health seriously and are willing to make a wise investment that pays in good-health dividends. You want a table that is high on quality and will last, and since you will be hanging upside-down, you want to be safe. This is why I will not recommend a lesser quality Inversion table. I only recommend a table that is only available to physicians, as many doctors use this as a therapy in their clinics. This table is the most durable on the market and has scientific studies to back up its effectiveness. I have chosen this particular inversion table because I know it to be durable, safe, and adjustable. The high-quality frame holds up to the weight of most individuals, and it has different settings so you can start self-treatment at different angles, gradually working to an upside-down position. I recommend starting at a 45-degree angle for only 10 minutes a day, since you need to give your body time to adjust to this new treatment. After five days, if you are comfortable with the 45-degree angle, then you may lower the settings to a higher angle and increase treatment time.
I made an oath to do no harm, and I consider my patients part of my extended family. These are the top three things I consider when I recommend this premium inversion table:
- Safety—It must be of high quality. Has it been tested in independent studies?. Will it hold the weight of your body, time and time again? I guarantee that someone will see your inversion table and want to try it. If they are bigger than you, will it hold their body weight? Are there ergonomically molded ankle cushions so you do not develop pain at the ankles? If you decide to get an inversion table on your own, check the weight limit. Make sure the table has tough rubber nonskid floor stabilizers so the table does not slide or wobble.
- Durability—I highly discourage a plastic-framed inversion table. You want a steel frame and high-grade back board that will not stretch or wear out over time.
- Manageability—Are you physically able to handle the table on your own without assistance? You also need to be in relatively good health, having the ability and mobility to maneuver yourself on and off the table.
Inversion therapy is not recommended for uncontrolled blood pressure or hypertensive patients due to the fact that blood pressure increases as you hang upside-down. A better alternative is computerized spinal decompression therapy, as you do not have to lie upside down.
An inversion table is an investment you do not want to go cheap on, as it can save you a lot in future health-care costs. This piece of equipment will last you a lifetime if you make the right purchase. If you feel inversion therapy is right for you, ask me if you and your condition would benefit.
Contact my office today to get more information how we can help treat your pain. When you call tell the receptionist you want to come in for our NEW PATIENT SPECIAL. Download your free copy of my latest book here!
Ice or Heat?
A question I get daily in my practice is, “Doc, should I use ice or heat for my back pain?” The rule on this is simple: During the first 48 to 72 hours of acute onset of pain, apply ice to the region to minimize inflammation. After that time period, I recommend moving to moist heat. Many people get short-term relief while taking a hot shower or bath. The heat opens blood vessels to the painful or injured regions, allowing more blood flow, which brings in oxygen and other healing nutrients and can flush stagnant toxins from that region.
Stretching Dos and Don’ts
I am willing to bet that all back pain sufferers want long-term relief. One way to accomplish this is to stretch predictable muscles that become chronically tight and pull on your spine.
Start stretching today.
It’s simple. No whining—just do it! Focus on the following muscle groups, as most of them are the muscles that are very commonly affected in postural conditions and can create pain in neck and back regions. Start stretching these muscles:
- Hamstrings (backs of thighs)
- Hip flexors (front of pelvis)
- Lower back
- Front of neck
- Sides of neck
- Calves (backs of lower legs)
What Is Scoliosis?
Scoliosis is a curvature of the spine from one side to the other. There are many causes of scoliosis—genetics, cerebral palsy, other neurological disorders—but the most common is what doctors describe as idiopathic, meaning “we don’t know why.” Some clues that a person has scoliosis include uneven shoulders, a prominent shoulder blade, uneven waist, or leaning to one side. Girls are more likely to be affected than boys. Idiopathic scoliosis is most commonly a condition of adolescence, affecting ages 10 through 16. Idiopathic scoliosis can progress during the “growth spurt” years but usually stops progressing once skeletal maturity is reached. The diagnosis of scoliosis and the determination of the type of scoliosis are made by a careful spinal exam and X-ray to evaluate the magnitude of the curve or curves.
Functional Scoliosis is a mild form of curvature that can be contributed to old injuries that don’t heal properly, lifestyle habits, or muscle imbalances that slowly pull the spine and create misalignments. It is not uncommon for degenerative spines to develop curvatures. Patients can develop chronic muscle tightness and joint pain due to abnormal pressures on the spine.
Treatment for Scoliosis
Most curvatures are mild in nature and can be managed by improving joint motion and retraining the muscles that support the spine. • Short-term relief includes using electrical stimulation to relax the musculature. • Bracing is the usual treatment of choice for adolescents who have a spinal curve between 25 degrees to 40 degrees, particularly if their bones are still maturing and if they have at least two years of growth remaining. • If the curvature is over 40 degrees, surgery to put rods in the spine might be recommended. With this amount of curvature, even with bracing or a surgery a perfectly aligned spine is not likely.
I treat patients every day with this condition. I can help you! Call the office today to schedule your appointment! Make sure and tell the receptionist you want to come in for the New Patient special and mention the blog so that you can get your major discount!