Guest Post by Marah Harrington, Office Manager at East End Chiropractic.
Did you know there are health risks associated with carrying an excessive amount of “stuff”? Men and women alike are repeat offenders in this area. We carry heavy purses, briefcases, and computer bags, and most of us are unaware of the risks we run when carrying too many items in a bag.
Many women, myself included, have fallen victim to the large-purse-phenomenon. A bag the size of a small suitcase is now still labeled a “purse” simply because it has a strap. Surely TSA will start catching on to the fact that people are now bringing the equivalent of two carry-ons, not a carry-on and a small purse! Sneaky. I have found that as I buy larger bags, I also convince myself that I need to carry so much more with me. “Why yes, I do need a box of tissues, a first aid kit, a blow dryer and three bricks. JUST IN CASE!”
As fashionable as large bags can be, they are not always practical. Most bags are not designed to equally distribute weight on our backs (the best way for us to carry things) and instead, they pull down one side of the body. Our bodies compensate for the extra weight by leaning to the opposite side, causing an unnatural stress to our spines.
We all know habits are hard to break, but this is one is worth addressing. Here are some simple tips to keep your back and neck more comfortable as you carry your belongings with you:
- Regularly take the time to empty unnecessary items from your bag
- Switch sides frequently so you are not placing the burden entirely on one side of your body
- Select a briefcase or purse with a wide/adjustable strap
Our goal at East End Chiropractic is to help you maintain a healthy lifestyle, and we believe that in order for you to do so, it is important to take good care of your spine and joints. When you come to our office as a new patient, Dr. Olsen will perform a thorough evaluation to determine the root cause of the symptoms you are experiencing. The doctor may need to take x-rays to get a closer look at what’s going on. In the last year, we added x-ray equipment to our office. This has been a wonderful thing because, now, when the doctor requires x-rays to be done, we no longer need to refer our patients to an imaging center.
Are x-rays are required for all new patients? No. X-ray studies are only performed when the doctor deems them clinically necessary. Now, if you were x-rayed recently at another doctor’s office, and those x-rays pertain to the part of the body that we are focusing on, you probably will not need to have additional images done at our office.
A concern with x-rays is radiation exposure. When it comes to the dangers of radiation, the key factor is really the dosage. Thankfully, the effective dosage for spinal x-rays is very minimal (about 1.5 mSv). For more information, check out this website. Though the radiation dosage is minimal for spinal x-rays, we still take a number of precautions to reduce the incidence of unnecessary radiation exposure to the patient and those nearby. Our x-ray imaging system has been evaluated and cleared by the State of Tennessee’s department of Radiological Health, we use lead shielding to cover parts of the body that we are not imaging, and we do not x-ray women who are pregnant.
In review, we offer on-site x-ray imaging, we do so only when necessary, and we use the minimal dose of radiation necessary in order to obtain a quality image.
A very common condition we see in our office is knee pain with no particular mechanism of injury (in other words, the knee became painful over time and didn’t occur as a result of a specific trauma or disease.)
When there is a specific traumatic event (like having your legs knocked out from under you in a football game) or a disease process (like rheumatoid arthritis), It is very easy to understand why the knee tissues have failed.
Most knee injuries fall outside of these categories. Most knee injuries happen over long periods of time as a result of repetitive abnormal stress. The condition is usually unilateral, meaning that only one knee is symptomatic.
The question is, why are knees so problematic? Really, as far as joints go, they are relatively simple. They only move along one plane of motion – they flex, as in moving the heel toward the buttock, and extend, as in straightening the leg. There is a tiny bit of normal rotation in the knee joint, but let’s not split hairs here. Compared to the shoulder, which moves in many directions, the knee is very simple.
The answer lies in the fact that most knee problems do not originate in the knee. Most knee problems originate in either the pelvis/lower back region (above the knee) or the foot/ankle region (below the knee).
Dysfunctional hip, pelvic, or lower back motion transfers a lot of extra stress to the knees. In these cases, one knee is usually taking more impact than the other, and the impact is occurring at an abnormal angle. This quickly wears out the cushioning tissue and over-stretches the ligaments that support the knee joint.
Sometimes the root of the knee problem lies in the foot or ankle. Collapsed longitudinal arches in the feet are a frequent cause. The tibia and fibula (leg bones) sit on top of the arch of the foot. When the arch collapses (there are many reasons for this – we’ll save those for another blog), the leg bones fall as well, causing uneven stress on the knees.
Chiropractic manipulation has a very good track record of restoring normal motion patterns to the hip/pelvis/lower back complex. Foot dysfunction also responds well to chiropractic care, along with orthotics in some cases (refer to blog on orthotics). There are also some minor manipulations that we can perform on the knees. We have found, though, that this is often not necessary if we restore normal motion to the hips, pelvis, lower back, and feet!
In summary, if you have knee problems, try our office first. Your knee problem may turn out not to be a knee problem at all! We will assess the situation and if we can help you with it, we will gladly do so. If we feel that it is a problem that would best be handled by another professional (orthopedist, physical therapist, physical trainer) we will gladly refer you to the appropriate professional.
We are frequently asked a question that is actually quite troubling to me.
The question is: “will I have to sign a contract to get care in your office?” Another variation of that question is, “how do I get out of a contract that I have signed with another chiropractic office?”
We do not require our patients to sign a contract for care. We do not require up-front payment for multiple visits.
We only charge fees for services rendered. We only prescribe treatment that is necessary, no more, and no less. Each patient is different, requiring a different treatment plan based on the patient’s NEED for care. We do not have a “package” to sell you for “unlimited visits,” because most patients do not need an unlimited number of visits. In fact, part of being a doctor is prescribing the right amount of care. Not too little, not too much. Furthermore, if the patient is not progressing at a satisfactory rate, this individual should have the freedom to seek care somewhere else, without the burden of having signed a contract.
It is not illegal for a practice to do this. However, it does bring up some ethical questions. It is very important to question the motive of any contract BEFORE you sign it. Remember, a contract is typically written for the benefit of the person writing the contract, not the one signing the contract! Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you’d like to discuss setting an appointment for care. We also appreciate any feedback.
Guest Post by Marah Harrington, Office Manager at East End Chiropractic.
I will admit it: I am a terrible traveler. Over the years, I have flown so much that I’ve developed a long list of travel habits and, if I’m being honest, I always arrive at my destination with neck and back pain. So clearly I’m doing something (or many things) wrong… but what?
My biggest problem is that I am a carry-on queen. If at all possible, I will not check a suitcase. I once talked my husband into traveling with only a carry-on when he and I went on a three week trip (8 flights). Not only did we not have enough clothes with us, we were also miserable from lugging around heavy suitcases in airports and onto planes. Needless to say, he hasn’t taken my advice in the matter since. I don’t blame him!
I happen to have married someone who travels quite a bit for his job so I try to visit regularly when he is gone for long stretches. This past weekend, I headed up to New Hampshire and before I left, Dr. Olsen gave me a few tips for traveling by plane.
- Check bags that are more than 5-10% of your body weight. Overhead lifting of any significant amount should be avoided. We always end up twisted in strange positions when trying to get a heavy bag in the overhead compartment quickly so we are not holding up the line behind us. If you are lifting something overhead, be sure to stand right in front of the overhead compartment so your spine is not rotated.
- Bring a small pillow to place behind your lower back when you are seated on the plane. Airplane seats are built to accommodate people of all sizes. The way this is accomplished is by hollowing out the back of the seat, thereby removing all lumbar support. No lumbar support = unhappy back.
- Move around as much as possible. End seats are best for this and offer us the opportunity to get up and walk around. Middle and window seats offer more of a challenge. Try to keep the space under the seat in front of you clear so you can stretch your legs out a big and move your feet around.
- Bring a neck pillow. This will help you steer clear of the inevitable kink in your neck that happens when you fall asleep on the plane. A neck pillow may not completely prevent the problem, but it will certainly help.
- Use proper technique when lifting luggage off the carousel. Bend both of your knees, keep your back straight and in the upright position, and move your feet instead of twisting your back when trying to get your luggage off the carousel. Those belts move fast. Be ready.
Armed with these guidelines, I headed to the airport. Let me tell you, they made a world of difference for me! I am happy to report that I did not arrive at my destination with sharp pains in my neck and back. Hopefully the above tips will prove helpful to you as you prepare for your next plane ride.