Eight Back Pain Myth Busters

Your back has two main purposes: it allows you to stand, supporting your arms and legs; and it protects your spinal cord, which communicates messages between your brain and the rest of your body. The health of your spine can affect your overall well-being.

Most people experience low back pain at some point in their lives. Because it’s so common, you may have heard many theories about what causes low back pain and how to fix it. But do you have the right facts? Here’s the truth behind some common back pain myths:

1. Myth: I need an X-ray, CT or MRI to figure out why I have back pain.

Most causes of short-term (‘acute’) low back pain will not show up on an X-ray, CT or an MRI. A qualified health care professional, such as a physician or chiropractor, is trained to know when you should have diagnostic imaging done. They have a series of other tests they can do to help you get to the bottom of what is going on.

2. Myth: Bed rest is recommended for back pain.

Bed rest may worsen your back pain unless your pain is so severe that you can’t move.

3. Myth: I just need to stretch my back.

Before you stretch, it’s important to get checked out to see if stretching is the right thing to do. Depending on the reason your back is hurting, certain stretches can make things worse. For example, if you have a disc problem, then you may want to avoid stretches that flex the spine and put additional pressure on your discs. A chiropractor can help you get to the root cause and show you which exercises and stretches will help.

4. Myth: Applying heat is recommended for a sore back.

Applying heat may make the inflammation of your joint, surrounding muscles and ligaments worse. Ice is the way to go for at least the first three days of short-term (‘acute’) pain.

5. Myth: Pain is the main indication that something is wrong.

Your back may be in trouble and you may not feel it. Restricted movement or discomfort in your arms, legs and shoulders are also indications of spinal problems.

6. Myth: If I’m in a lot of pain, there must be a lot of damage.

Pain is a sensation that acts as a warning system for your brain. Many things can set that warning system off. A spine, muscle or joint expert, like a chiropractor, can help you figure out if your pain is related to these parts of your body. It’s important to remember that intense pain doesn’t necessarily mean that there is significant damage.

7. Myth: This pain is so intense, I should probably head straight to the emergency room.

Evidence shows that most low back pain cases are manageable and do not require an emergency visit. If you’re experiencing a loss of sensation in the saddle area or have lost bowel or bladder control, go to the emergency room.

Otherwise, your best first step is to find a spine, muscle and joint expert, such as a chiropractor, to diagnose and treat the cause of your low back pain. And if the cause of your pain is serious enough to warrant the emergency room, these specialists will immediately send you there.

8. Myth: Now that my back pain is gone, I can stop doing my exercises.

Once the pain stops, many people stop doing the things that helped them get rid of the pain. It’s important to make healthy back care and exercise a part of your regular routine. Otherwise, your back pain is likely to return.

If you’re experiencing back pain, consult a health care professional, such as Dr Dodie Elkins, to assess your specific needs and develop a treatment plan that’s right for you.

Information from the Ontario Chiropractic Association

 

Finding Time for Fitness

How do you find time for fitness when so many things are competing for your attention? It’s a common problem. The good news is that as little as 15 minutes a day can start a fitness habit – and deliver health benefits!

Research has shown that within a study conducted over a span of 12 years, almost half a million people found that at little as 15 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise a day increased life expectancy. Every additional 15 minutes of exercise a day further improved the health outlook of the participants in the study.

Try these tips to fit 15 minutes of exercise into your day:

Pick a time of day that works for you and stick with that time for fitness. 

Perhaps it is first thing in the morning, during a break at work or in the evening after dinner. Think of it as a part of your regular daily routine. Treat fitness like showering in the morning or brushing your teeth before bedtime.

Do something you enjoy!

People tend to make time for things they like. A brisk walk outside, a video exergame, a dance workout to your favourite music, a simple stretch-and-strengthen routine you can do with one eye on your favourite TV program – they all qualify.

Expensive gyms need not apply!

Some great no-cost activities include cardio, strength exercises and flexibility stretches. It’s important to vary these activities.

Why cardio, strength and flexibility activities?

Cardio activities are good for your heart, lungs and circulatory system. And moving your body feels great. To get started, walking is the simplest cardio activity you can do.

Strength exercises, such as biceps curls and pelvic lifts, focus on your muscles. Muscles help support all the joints in your body and your movement. Flexibility stretches are all about keeping you limber for bending, reaching and turning with ease. Most people don’t stretch their muscles enough and wonder why they feel stiff and sore.

Remember the benefits. 

We make time for things we know will reward us. The rewards of physical activity are numerous. Regular exercise can reduce stress, improve our energy level, improve your strength and flexibility. Also, regular exercise can simply make you feel good about doing something for yourself.

Fifteen minutes a day can be the beginning of a habit that can grow and help you achieve your fitness goals. You’ll feel good about fitting it in and that’s an important factor in your overall health.

Keeping active will help improve your physical health, increase energy and put a smile on your face. And once 15-minute activities become a habit – and they will in almost no time – you may want to schedule even more move-your-body time into your day. Activity Guide website at www.publichealth.gc.ca/paguide.

Information from the Ontario Chiropractic Association

 

 

 

Minimize pregnancy-related back-pain

When pregnant, it’s normal to gain more than 30 pounds. This extra weight places considerable stress on your back, feet, ankles and knees.
As your baby grows, your core abdominal muscles become stretched and may not be able to stabilize your posture as well as they did before.

In the third trimester, levels of a hormone called ‘relaxin’ increase by ten times. Relaxin loosens your joints to allow your pelvis to accommodate your enlarging uterus. These loose joints force the muscles in your back and pelvis to work overtime to keep you upright and balanced. This extra stress may lead
to back pain.

Try these tips to help minimize your risk of back pain:
Exercise:
Exercise can go a long way to increase muscle support for your aching back.  Low impact cardiovascular activities, such as swimming, walking or stationary cycling can help relieve
pain and maintain fitness. Remember to consult your physician or a health care professional before starting a new exercise regimen.

Sleep Position:
Sleep on your left side to reduce the pressure your uterus puts on the large blood vessels in your abdomen. This position improves blood flow to both you and your baby.

Pillow Position:
Place a pillow between your knees to take the pressure off your lower back when sleeping on your side.

Support Your Body:
With the added weight, support has never been more important. Wear flat, supportive shoes and use a lumbar support pillow in your chair at home or work. If you sit at a computer or desk, walk around for a few minutes each hour.

Take Breaks:
Take frequent, short breaks with your feet elevated. Adequate rest restores your energy and gives your back a chance to relax.

 

To treat and help prevent muscle strains and joint pain, consider including a chiropractor as part of your team of maternity care professionals. Dr Elkins can help decrease the pressure on your joints, muscles and nerves of the spine and pelvis to provide safe, effective and drug-free pain relief.

Information from the Ontario Chiropractic Association

https://chiropractic.on.ca/wp-content/uploads/Minimize-Pregnancy-Related-Back-Pain.pdf

 

Living with Arthritis: How Chiropractic Care Helps Alleviate Arthritis Symptoms

Arthritis affects about one in five Canadians or more than six million people. Many people living with this condition say they need help to complete daily tasks because arthritis limits their abilities. With symptoms like stiffness and often painful inflammation, arthritis limits your mobility and how well you can move your joints. Chiropractic care helps alleviate arthritis symptoms, so you can move through your day with less pain.

Although symptoms are more likely to show with age, more than half of the Canadians living with arthritis are less than 65 years-old. And 20 per cent of Canadians older than 15 years old suffer from arthritis, making it one of our most prevalent chronic health conditions.

Since there are more than 100 different types of arthritis, the search for a cure is ongoing. If you don’t treat it, arthritis may permanently damage the joint(s) it affects. Specific types of arthritis can affect your heart, eyes, lungs, kidneys and even your skin. That’s why treatment, such as chiropractic care therapies, which help alleviate arthritis symptoms, play a vital role in managing this condition.

Treating Arthritis

There are countless over-the-counter products that provide relief from arthritis symptoms but the results are temporary. More permanent and effective forms of treatment include surgery, as well as therapeutic exercise and manual therapies, such as those a chiropractor provides. Since surgery can be quite invasive and comes with a lengthy recovery time, many people prefer exercise and manual therapies.

Exercise Therapy

A key way to improve your range of motion and reduce pain, as well as arthritis-related symptoms, is to use exercise to strengthen the muscles around your affected joint. For people with arthritis, it’s important to ensure you’re doing the right exercises. You can consult a health care professional, such as a chiropractor, to help you develop a plan that will work towards improving your mobility and limiting the risk of aggravating your pain.

Manual Therapy

Manual, ‘hands-on’ therapy and soft tissue therapy can help to increase your range of motion, reduce inflammation in your joints, and help you manage your pain. One of the most common treatments a chiropractor uses is manual manipulation of your spine. This evidence-based therapy improves your joints’ motion, and your ability to move through your day pain-free.

To get the help you need, visit and consult with a variety of health care professionals, including a chiropractor. While there is no known treatment with permanent results, your chiropractor can work with you to create a self-care plan that blends therapeutic exercises into your daily routine and helps alleviate your arthritis symptoms.

If you’re experiencing common signs of arthritis, such as joint pain, swelling, joint cracking/popping, decreased range of motion and redness – talk to your medical doctor about chiropractic care for arthritis.

Information from the Ontario Chiropractic Association

 

Six Tips to Enjoy Pain-Free Knitting

If you’re an avid knitter, you may have experienced strain in your hands, wrists, neck or upper back from being in the same position for an extended time. Like sewing and typing, knitting is a repetitive motion activity that can lead to strains and injuries. In some cases, you can also end up with carpal tunnel syndrome if you don’t grip and position your wrists properly.

Tips and Techniques for Pain-free Knitting

The single most important thing you can do to prevent injury is to take frequent, regular breaks.  Change the position of your body and look up often from your work and into the distance.
When you get immersed in a project, remembering to take a break can be difficult. If you aren’t good at taking breaks, consider setting a timer to remind you.

Take frequent breaks:
Sit in a chair with your feet on the floor and try not to hunch over. Try to use your stomach muscles when you adjust your posture.  Sit in a comfortable but supportive chair. Consider placing a small cushion, rolled up towel or sweater between your chair and the curve in the small of your lower back to help you sit up straight.

Sit up straight:
Consider using smooth, lightweight needles. Circular needles are best for large projects.  When crocheting, use ergonomic hooks.

The tools you use matter:
Learning to switch easily between English and Continental knitting styles will help you to keep on stitching, while reducing the risk of a repetitive strain injury.

Switch it up:
Learning to switch easily between English and Continental knitting styles will help you to keep on
stitching, while reducing the risk of a repetitive strain injury

Stretch:
In addition to standing up and moving around, stretch your fingers every once in awhile. To stretch your
fingers, clench your hands and then spread your fingers as far as you can.

Follow these steps to stretch and strengthen your wrists with simple curls:

• Lay your forearm on a flat surface with your wrist at the edge.
• While holding a small hand weight, let your wrist fall over the edge and then lift the weight up
towards you only bending your wrist.
• The rest of your arm should remain flat on the table.

Make small, efficient movements:
Practice how small you can make your movements.  Keep the working yarn close to the tip of your needles. Grasp your yarn gently. A consistently relaxed grip will help you keep a constant gauge, while reducing unnecessary strain on your neck, shoulders and wrists.  It’s also helpful to hold your projects away from you. This position will help you relax and avoid muscle
and eye strain.

Information from the Ontario Chiropractic Association

Five Ways to Stay Pain-Free this Holiday Season

‘Tis the season for eating great food, spending quality time with loved your ones and sharing cherished traditions. Unfortunately, all of the hustle and bustle can also bring you an unwelcome gift—back pain. Holiday activities such as shopping, wrapping gifts and skating can cause your muscles to work in ways they’re not usually used and can result in neck, shoulder or back pain.

Five Ways to Stay Pain-Free this Holiday Season

Try these five tips to reduce your chances of pain and strain:

Ergonomic Gift Wrapping: After searching high and low for the perfect gifts, it’s time to wrap them up! Rather than spreading out on the floor, use a dinner table or desk. This will make it easier for you to use good posture. Just remember that sitting in one position for too long can put additional strain on your body. Take frequent breaks and stretch your hands, wrists and forearms by clenching your hands and relaxing.

Strain-Free Snowman: Building your very own Frosty the Snowman is top of mind for many children once snow falls. Roll your snowballs into place and work together as a team to lift them when you’re ready. And remember, rule number one is to lift with your legs, not your back!

Lift Light to Shovel Right:  When shovelling your driveway, let your legs and arms do the heavy lifting instead of relying on your back, and push the snow to one side to avoid throwing it. If you must throw it, avoid twisting and turning — face your snowbank and throw the snow straight into it.

Stretch, Skate and Snowboard:  It’s time to sharpen your skates and grab your snowboards! Prevent injuries by stretching before and after you hit the slopes or ice. A basic go-to is the hamstring stretch. Stand tall next to something you can hold on to for support.  Prop the back of one heel up on a surface like a stair, curb or bench and pull your toes back towards you. For a deeper stretch, bend forward slightly at the hips.  Hold the stretch for 30 seconds on each side.

Boxing Day Shopping:  Attention, discount shoppers! Carrying all those bags of sale items may be great for your wardrobe but not for your back. A trip to your car to drop off your bags can lighten the load.
If that’s not reasonable, take breaks and set your bags down or use a backpack to help distribute the weight.

Want more advice on how to beat your back, neck and shoulder pain so you can do the things you love to do? Visit Dr Elkins!

Information from the Ontario Chiropractic Association

https://chiropractic.on.ca/wp-content/uploads/Five-Ways-to-Stay-Pain-Free-this-Holiday-Season.pdf

 

5 Things Your Chiropractor Wishes You Would Stop Doing

We all do simple, everyday things that drive chiropractors crazy! Here’s why you should stop doing them and what you can do instead.

1. Improper Lifting

When you lift something the wrong way, you can easily  trigger back pain. Before lifting something heavy, follow these tips to avoid strain.

  • Position yourself close to the object.
  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart with your feet and body pointing in the same direction.
  • Bend your knees, keep your back in a neutral spine position and slowly lift the load.
  • Keep the load close to your body and pivot with your feet — don’t twist your body while carrying the load.

2. Spending Hours Staring at Your Phone

Did you know that bending your head to look at your phone can put up to 60 pounds of pressure on your spine? It doesn’t matter whether you’re texting, on social media or watching Netflix on your device, staring down for hours takes it’s toll on your neck and back.

Here are a couple of tips to avoid the ache:

  • Put your device down and take some time to stretch and give your neck and shoulders a break.
  • When using your phone, raise it up closer to eye level to reduce strain.

3. Sitting All Day

Sitting for long periods of time, repetitive movements and awkward work positions may cause you pain and discomfort. Follow these tips to make your work station more comfortable:

  • Use a lumbar support pillow to help you maintain proper posture.
  • Avoid sitting in one position for longer than 30-50 minutes at a time. Take a quick stretch break or, even better, get up and move around.

4. Sleeping on Your Stomach

Your sleep should always be restful and rejuvenating, but headaches and neck stiffness can be a painful wake-up call. Proper neck support can help you get a better night’s sleep.

  • If you sleep on your side, get the proper pillow or neck support you need.
  • If you prefer to sleep on your back, you should choose a medium height pillow.
  • Chiropractors recommend you avoid sleeping on your stomach, as it can lead to stress and strain on your spine, no matter which pillow you choose.

5. Using Awkward Bags

Knowing how to choose and pack backpacks, shoulder bags and luggage can make your journey much more comfortable and back-friendly. Follow these tips to reduce the strain during your daily commute or summer road trip:

  • Choose a lightweight backpack that has two wide adjustable padded shoulder straps.
  • When using a shoulder bag, don’t always carry your bag on the same shoulder. Switch sides often so that each shoulder gets a rest.
  • Avoid purchasing luggage that is already too heavy when empty. Choose a bag with wheels and an adjustable handle when possible.

Want more advice on how to beat your back, neck and shoulder pain so you can get back to doing the things you love to do? Call  or email Dr Elkins to book an assessment.

 

Information from the Ontario Chiropractic Association

 

Healthy Aging: Maintaining Your Mobility

Active living is important for your health and well-being, no matter what your age is, but it can be vital for older adults.Being active and mobile can help prevent many chronic conditions that can impact you as you age.


Even moderate exercise can contribute to your body’s balance and bone strength, which is why it’s never too late to start exercising. By incorporating exercise into your daily routine, you can help
prevent loss of bone mass, restore and build endurance, strength, balance, and flexibility.e suggests that keeping properly hydrated is perhaps one of the most important things patients can do on their own time to maintain the benefits from chiropractic adjustments.

Being active doesn’t mean you have to be a gym addict. It can be as simple as the following:

Walking doesn’t require any extra equipment apart from supportive shoes. Taking a walk every day is a simple and effective way to help maintain balance and strength.

Brisk Walking

Strength training can be adapted for your needs through simple exercises such as leg extensions. In a seated position, straighten out one leg, lift to a comfortable height, hold for 10 seconds and put down.

Strength Training

Over the years, you can develop habitual ways of using your muscles to move and position yourself. Poor posture and a lack of flexibility may be the result of limited stretching and improper body
alignment.

With age, your muscles naturally tighten which can lead to poor posture1 and back pain. So, if you’re an older adult, it has never been more important to incorporate stretching and exercise into your daily routine in an effort to aid in good back health.

You may already be doing stretches, but as you age it’s important to modify your stretch to minimize your chance of falling while performing them. Stretching helps you move more freely and can
improve your flexibility. Having flexibility helps with tasks such as bending to tie your shoe laces.

Here are three safe techniques older adults can utilize to keep limber:

Upper Body Stretch:

Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and reach both arms straight out in front of you. Clasp your hands together with your thumbs pointing down and your palms facing away from you. Round your shoulders and reach forward.
Repetition: Hold the position for 10 to 30 seconds.

Lower Back Stretch:

First, lie on your back with your legs together, knees bent, and feet flat on the floor. Try to keep both arms and shoulders flat on the floor throughout the stretch. Keeping knees bent and together, slowly lower both legs to one side as far as you comfortably can.
Repetition: Hold position for 10 to 30 seconds. Bring legs back up slowly and repeat toward other side.
Continue alternating sides for at least 3 to 5 times on each side.

Ankle Stretch:

Sit securely towards the edge of an armless chair with your legs stretched out in front of you. With your hands holding the sides of the seat of the chair for support, keep your heels on the floor while bending your ankles to point your toes to the sky.
Repetition: Hold the position for 10 to 30 seconds then release. Repeat 3 to 5 times.

Gastric Stretch:

Hinge forward at your hips. Step forward with your left foot, keeping your back as flat as possible.  Reach forward with your left arm and grab the ball of your left foot. For help balancing, you can rest your right hand over your bent right knee. Flex your left foot and gently pull on it with your hand.  You should feel a stretching sensation along your calf and up through the back of your thigh.
Repetition: Hold this position for 10 to 15 seconds. Then repeat with your other leg.

 

Information from the Ontario Chiropractic Association
http://www.chiropractic.on.ca/wp-content/uploads/Healthy-Aging.pdf

 

Chemical Stress and Your Health

Chemical stress is a factor in your health that you may or not be aware of.  This stress comes in many forms.  Preservatives and chemicals in our foods and drinks, products at home like laundry soap, cleaning supplies, deodorant and hairspray. Chemicals in our body can affect many systems including our nervous system, the master control of our entire body.

The causes of a chemical imbalance in the body is sufficient to cause subluxation. If we were aware of all the chemicals that we place into our bodies, in the water we drink and the food we eat, it would frighten us.  The body has the ability to deal with many of these chemicals, but if sufficient chemical stressors are taken in, even the body’s filtering mechanism can be overcome.

How do you know you have chemical stressors?  One way is pain symptoms, fatigue, poor sleep, headaches.   Remember that pain is the last way your body tells you something is wrong.

It is an accepted fact that a chemical can affect the tone of a muscle.  The alignment of the spinal bones is dependent upon the overall muscle tone.  Lack of calcium, for example, can cause muscle spasm.  A build-up of lactic acid (a by-product of muscle exertion) can cause cramps, which athletes sometimes experience.  Drugs can also affect muscle tone.  The body has a delicately balanced chemistry.  Anything that upsets this chemistry such as smoking, alcohol, caffeine, processed foods, pollution, food hypersensitivities/allergies, etc. can irritate the nerve system causing abnormal functioning of the muscle fibers, upsetting muscle tone, and cause a subluxation.

Subluxations occur regularly and in everyone from birth until death.  We can and should make every effort to keep our spines free of subluxations.  We can do our best to avoid many things that could cause subluxations by common-sense living, but many will still occur regularly.

It is important that we have our spines checked regularly by our chiropractor in order to correct subluxations as soon as they occur.

You are welcome to check out this great video!  Click here

Please contact our office if you would like to find out the state of your nervous system.

613-387-3703

seeleysbaychiropractic@gmail.com

Pack it Light, Wear it Right

Kids think it’s “cool” to strap on their backpacks ad head out to school. But if they don’t know exactly how to choose, load, life and wear them – these all-important accessories can be a pain in the back. Literally. Not to mention the neck, head and shoulders.

Back packs can affect your children’s health

Carrying a heavy load that is unevenly or improperly distributed can result in poor posture; and even distort the spinal column, throwing it out of alignment. This can cause muscle strain, headaches, back, neck and arm pain, and even nerve damage. For example, a heavy backpack, carried on one shoulder, forces the muscles and spine to compensate for the uneven weight. This places stress on the mid and lower back, and may in crease the likelihood of back problems later in life.

For example, a heavy backpack, carried on one shoulder, forces the muscles and spine to compensate for the uneven weight. This places stress on the mid and lower back, and may increase the likelihood of back problems later in life

PREVENTION IS KEY

Here are a few pointers to help you help your school age 3 children carry their load comfortably and safely.

  1. Choose the right Backpack – Forget leather! IT looks great, but it’s far too heavy. Go for vinyl or canvas. Pick a pack that has two wide, adjustable, padded shoulder straps, along with a hip or waist strap, padded and plenty of pockets. Make sure the pack fits properly, is not too snug around the arms and under the armpits, and that its size is proportionate to the wearer’s body.
  2. Packing it properly – They’re not moving out! Make sure your children’s packs contain only what is needed for the day, and that the weight is distributed evenly. It’s a good idea to know roughly what each item weights. The total weight of the filled pack should be no more than 10-15% of the wearer’s own body weight. Pack heaviest objects close to the body, and place bumpy or odd-shaped ones on the outside, away from the back.
  3. Putting the backpack on – It’s a good idea to help young children with this, at least the first few times. Put the pack on a flat surface, at waist height. Slip on the pack, one shoulder at a time, then adjust the straps to fit comfortably. Remember when lifting a backpack, or anything, to lift using the arms and legs and to bend at the knees.
  4. The right way to wear a backpack – Both shoulder straps should be used, and adjusted so that the pack fits snugly to the body, without dangling to the side. Backpacks should never be work over just one shoulder. You should be able to slide your hand between the backpack and your child’s back. The waist strap should also be worn for added stability.

If your child does complain of back pain, numbness or weakness in his or her arms and legs, get help to prevent future problems.

www.chiropractic.on.ca

Chiropractic & Hydration

The Importance of Hydration after a Chiropractic Adjustment

Numerous studies have shown the importance of drinking water to maintain a healthy, well-balanced body. It is important to stay hydrated to maintain proper kidney and digestive function, and remove waste and toxins from the body. The human body is made up of 60 percent water, but every day some of this water is lost due to breathing, perspiration, and urination. To replenish this supply, people should drink plenty of water

Hydration to Help Remove Toxins from the Body

Keeping properly hydrated is even more important for patients who undergo chiropractic treatments. Patients may experience a variety of mild side effects the first 24 hours following an adjustment, ranging from headache, to nausea, to dizziness. This is actually perfectly natural. When the body is put into proper alignment from a chiropractic adjustment, it releases all the tension it has been holding. At the same time, it will release various toxins that may have built up as a result of that tension.

We recommend that patients keep hydrated following any chiropractic adjustment, as doing so will help eliminate toxins from the body more quickly. This will greatly cut down on the severity and length of time for any side effects from the adjustment.

Hydration as Part of a Regular Wellness Routine

Dr. Dodie recommends that even patients not undergoing regular chiropractic adjustments keep themselves well hydrated. As part of a regular wellness routine, it will help keep the body healthy, thus reducing the likelihood of injury or illness that may require chiropractic care again at a later date. If the body is able to quickly eliminate toxins on a regular basis, it is less susceptible to future illness, and will recover more quickly.

Water is one of the most essential ingredients for life. It is needed to nourish crops in order for them to flourish. Dr. Dodie believes in the importance of water, as it is essential for nourishing people so that they may flourish as well. She suggests that keeping properly hydrated is perhaps one of the most important things patients can do on their own time to maintain the benefits from chiropractic adjustments.

Helping Individuals with Arthritis Improve their Quality of Life

By Dr. Aksa Ahmed

Arthritis is a chronic condition that affects the lives of more than six million Canadians. This term describes a group of more than 100 diseases characterized by inflammation in the joints or other areas of the body. Some of the various symptoms arthritis causes include limited mobility, stiffness and joint swelling.

Arthritis is one of the most common chronic health conditions, affecting about one in five Canadians, aged 15 and older.

While there is currently no cure, chiropractic care is one of the many proven approaches individuals can use to manage their arthritic pain. When chiropractic care is combined with physician-led medical management, it’s possible for individuals suffering from arthritis to live full, active lives without noticing much limitation in their daily activities.

Chiropractic Care for Patients Living with Arthritis

I practice in an outpatient chiropractic clinic in the Rheumatology Department at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto. My area of focus is spine, muscle and joint care for individuals living with arthritis. While a good portion of our patients are above the age of 50 we are happy to see individuals of all ages.

When I see a patient at our clinic, I start by assessing their symptoms and physical presentation from arthritis and other inflammatory disorders. I then work to create a treatment plan to address their current symptoms and limitations. The patient and I work together to help develop strategies to facilitate lifestyle modifications and goals to help them return to activities they enjoy.

Professional Passion Led by Personal Experience

Like many chiropractors, my professional journey has been shaped by my personal experience. Years ago, I suffered an ankle injury while playing soccer that required medical care. The physiotherapist who was treating me worked in a clinic with other health care professionals, including a chiropractor.

Upon realizing chiropractic care could also help my recovery, I made an appointment and found the treatment did indeed help. The chiropractor treated me with an unparallel level of expertise, kindness and patience. He personalized a rehabilitation plan for me that had me back to doing the activities I love. I became fascinated with the profession.

Fast forward to my post-secondary years in 2015, when I completed my Doctor of Chiropractic degree at the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College (CMCC). My first experience with a chiropractor allowed me to have an interaction with a specialist who was dedicated to not only my recovery, but also improving my overall quality of life. I encompass the same approach in my clinic.

In this profession, there are many areas of practice and specialities one can pursue. While I was completing my degree, I was involved in arthritis research and developed a passion for it. After practising in a clinic for a few years, I decided to pursue the Advanced Clinician Practitioner in Arthritis Care certification offered through the University of Toronto. This specialization helps me provide even better care for the patients I see today.

Providing Patient-Centred Chiropractic Care for Arthritis

At our clinic, we most often see individuals dealing with various conditions, such as degenerative disc/joint diseaserheumatoid arthritisankylosing spondylitisspinal stenosisspondyloarthropathies and radiculopathies (also known as “pinched nerves”) secondary to disc herniations (sometimes called “sciatica”). Despite this common thread, every person is different. To best meet their needs, we take an individualized approach in supporting each patient.

Our chiropractic treatment typically involves a combination of manual therapy and exercises, as well as education and self-management strategies to help patients care for their condition on their own. Dealing with a chronic condition like arthritis can be overwhelming. To help make life more manageable, we often provide ergonomic advice and information about assistive devices that can help our patient with mobility and activity.

We also discuss coping strategies, such as mindfulness meditation and guided imagery, to help patients manage the stress and anxiety that can come with their diagnosis.

Our clinic is passionate about providing evidence-based patient-centred care but also has a robust focus on academic research.

Staying Active and Staying Positive

I regularly educate my patients about the importance of maintaining a positive mindset and active lifestyle. The way individuals view their condition is critical to their overall health and well-being. This is particularly true with a chronic condition like arthritis, which they will have for the rest of their lives.

While they may not be able to do all the activities they could previously, there is still so much they can enjoy. Having a chronic condition doesn’t mean giving up doing the things you love! Sometimes, it just means finding new ways to do things and a chiropractor can show you how.

Recently one of my patients, an avid golfer, came to see me because he felt worse after golfing due to spinal stenosis. However, because he understood his pain, he knew it didn’t mean he had to stop golfing. His discomfort meant we had to find a new strategy that would still enable him to play the sport he loves with appropriate modifications.

We worked on his swing, reviewed standing and walking posture, discussed use of a cart when necessary and found a way for him to continue playing without aggravating his pain. With this new knowledge, he was quickly back out on the course, happier than ever. His positive mindset and willingness to try new techniques was, in many ways, the most important part of treatment.

Collaborating and Connecting

The clinic where I work includes many medical doctors and other health care professionals. It’s invaluable to have access to one another’s expertise. We each bring different specializations, knowledge, background and skills to the table. I strongly believe this collaborative approach is the future of health care. It’s what allows us to provide truly optimal patient care.

In addition to my clinical practice, I enjoy connecting with seniors at local community centres. We talk about their conditions and concerns, which may include back pain and other issues, as well as arthritis, that chiropractic care can help. Most importantly, we discuss how they can stay active and continue to live healthy, enjoyable lives. Health care is so much more than what we see in the hospital!

Accessing Care

For millions of Canadians, arthritis can impact their ability to enjoy freedom of movement, productive work, restful sleep and an existence free of unnecessary pain.

Being proactive and taking charge of your health is important. If you or someone you know may benefit from chiropractic care, I encourage you to explore this option. At our clinic, we see many patients who are referred by their medical doctors or the hospital. We also see individuals without a referral, who find us online and come seeking help because in Ontario, you may visit a chiropractor without a referral from a medical doctor or nurse practitioner.

 

Information from the Ontario Chiropractic Association

 

Six Tips to Enjoy Pain-Free Knitting

If you’re an avid knitter, you may have experienced strain in your hands, wrists, neck or upper back

from being in the same position for an extended time. Like sewing and typing, knitting is a repetitive
motion activity that can lead to strains and injuries. In some cases, you can also end up with carpal
tunnel syndrome if you don’t grip and position your wrists properly.

Tips and Techniques for Pain-free Knitting

The single most important thing you can do to prevent injury is to take frequent, regular breaks.
Change the position of your body and look up often from your work and into the distance.
When you get immersed in a project, remembering to take a break can be difficult. If you aren’t good at
taking breaks, consider setting a timer to remind you.

Take frequent breaks:
Sit in a chair with your feet on the floor and try not to hunch over. Try to use your stomach muscles
when you adjust your posture.
Sit in a comfortable but supportive chair. Consider placing a small cushion, rolled up towel or sweater
between your chair and the curve in the small of your lower back to help you sit up straight.

Sit up straight:
Consider using smooth, lightweight needles. Circular needles are best for large projects.
When crocheting, use ergonomic hooks.

The tools you use matter:
Learning to switch easily between English and Continental knitting styles will help you to keep on
stitching, while reducing the risk of a repetitive strain injury.

Switch it up:
Learning to switch easily between English and Continental knitting styles will help you to keep on
stitching, while reducing the risk of a repetitive strain injury.

Stretch:
In addition to standing up and moving around, stretch your fingers every once in awhile. To stretch your
fingers, clench your hands and then spread your fingers as far as you can.

Follow these steps to stretch and strengthen your wrists with simple curls:
Stretch:
• Lay your forearm on a flat surface with your wrist at the edge.
• While holding a small hand weight, let your wrist fall over the edge and then lift the weight up
towards you only bending your wrist.
• The rest of your arm should remain flat on the table.

Make small, efficient movements:
Practice how small you can make your movements. Keep the working yarn close to the tip of your
needles. Grasp your yarn gently. A consistently relaxed grip will help you keep a constant gauge, while
reducing unnecessary strain on your neck, shoulders and wrists.
It’s also helpful to hold your projects away from you. This position will help you relax and avoid muscle
and eye strain.

Information from the Ontario Chiropractic Association