New Mother Pain Migration

breastfeedingIf you were unlucky enough to have low back pain during the later stages of your pregnancy, there is good news with the birth of your new baby:  Most of the time, that low back pain disappears.  Unfortunately, chances are that pain will re-appear in your neck, shoulders and upper back!  Here’s why:

Your center of gravity returns to normal, and you are no longer carrying the weight of pregnancy in your uterus – instead, you are carrying the weight of your infant with your arms and shoulders.  You will have many sleepless nights tending to your new baby, and consequently you will fall asleep while nursing or bottle feeding while sitting in a chair.  This will cause strain on your neck and lead to irritable pain.  Spending many hours holding your infant with your head tilted down also aggravates this problem.  Add to that the extra strain from lifting bulky car seats in and out of vehicles and lifting your baby in and out of cribs and highchairs.

All of these things take their toll on your neck and upper back.  So you will want to come in and get things loosened up so that you can continue your daily routine and the demanding responsibilities of motherhood.  Oh, and don’t worry about having to bring your infant with you… We love babies here, and Mary Jane has the magic touch to keep your infant happy during your treatment if necessary.  It’s also a great idea to have your newborn checked out for any spinal restriction… but that is a topic for another post!
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Chiropractic and Pregnancy

Chiropractic care is safe throughout pregnancy, and has two main functions:
1. To decrease pain and discomfort for the mother during the rapid physical changes associated with pregnancy.
2. To facilitate an easier delivery by making sure that the mother’s pelvis is unrestricted.

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Nearing Delivery

Pregnancy-backpainDuring the last trimester of pregnancy, the biggest concern – at least from my perspective – is the rapid growth and weight gain of the baby which exerts continually changing forces on the mother’s spine.  Not only do the mother’s soft tissues have to expand (a lot) during delivery, but the bones in her pelvis must literally move apart.  This process is assisted by increasing concentrations of the hormone relaxin in the final weeks of gestation.  The baby does its part to prepare for delivery by orienting itself head down (usually) and by having un-fused skull bones which can literally overlap temporarily to decrease the circumference of the head during passage through the vaginal canal.

Needless to say, the final stages of pregnancy are extremely physically demanding.  So the chiropractic goal for this time is to keep the mother’s lower back and pelvis as mobile as possible.  Any areas of restriction could lead to increased pain and complication when delivery finally occurs.  I usually recommend a pregnant woman come for treatment on about the same schedule as her pre-natal doctor visits.  (Monthly at first then every two weeks for the second last month then weekly for the final month.)

I have treated dozens of women throughout their pregnancies, and I encourage all mothers-to-be to seek chiropractic care.  It can make your experience a lot more comfortable and encourage a smooth delivery!
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Short Term Changes…

Pregnant-womanThere are a multitude of changes that take place in a woman’s body during pregnancy, the most obvious of which is weight distribution.  Normally, women have a gentle ‘S’ curve to their spines when seen from the side.  During pregnancy – especially in the last trimester – this curve accentuates dramatically to compensate for the change in weight and center of gravity.  In many women, this increases the likelihood of lower back pain and sometimes even sciatica.

As the pregnancy continues, more changes become apparent: ligaments become more lax, the uterus expands, skin stretches, muscles contract,  hormone levels go up, energy goes down, sensitivity increases, patience decreases, emotions become more extreme with higher highs and lower lows.  I consider myself knowledgeable in these things after watching my wife through the adventures of five pregnancies and treating dozens of pregnant women in the clinic.

The good news (for everyone involved), is that most of the changes are self-reversing.  Though it may not seem so at the time, these are all short term occurrences.  Once the baby is born, things begin to return to normal.  Without the extra weight of the baby, the placenta and the amniotic fluid forcing the spine into an exaggerated curve, the gradual ‘S’ curve is restored.  Hormones re-balance themselves, ligaments tighten again, and the uterus contracts to its normal size.  The physical discomfort of trying to find a good position in which to sleep goes away.  (Unfortunately this is often replaced by the exhaustion of not getting a full night’s sleep at all because of a frequently waking infant!)

During the time of rapid changes, regular Chiropractic treatment can be very helpful to manage the evolving physical situation.  My job is to make that phase as comfortable as possible, which actually does two things:  it makes the mother’s life a little more tolerable during an otherwise uncomfortable time, and it increases the likelihood of a smooth and uncomplicated birth by reducing some of the limiting physical factors.  The bottom line is that pregnancy and chiropractic go very well together.
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Plantar Fasciitis

plantar fasciitisIf you get stabbing pain in your heel or the arch of your foot when you take your first few steps each morning, there is a good chance you have plantar fasciitis.

Usually the pain will improve throughout the day but then start all over again the next morning.  The problem starts with damage to the soft tissue on the bottom of your foot.  A fibrous band attaching to your heel extends along the bottom of your arch and spreads out to attach to the base of your toes.  This structure is called the plantar fascia, and it is thought that repetitive micro trauma and overuse contribute to the development of plantar fasciitis.  Sometimes it is associated with heel spurs, and sometimes it occurs all on its own.

In most cases, plantar fasciitis will go away on its own within about a year… but who wants to be in pain for that long?!  There are a number of things you can do to speed up the healing process of your painful feet.  If your problem is new, it can be treated successfully with mechanical therapy… loosening up the joints of the foot and working to massage the fibrous tissue and muscles in and around the foot.  A tennis ball exercise can also be very beneficial.

If your problem is long standing, laser therapy can be very effective at eliminating the pain by healing the damaged tissue.  Laser therapy uses the beneficial properties of specific wavelengths of light to painlessly accelerate tissue healing.

As far as prevention goes, quality footwear is always a good idea – not only for plantar fasciitis but for your health in general!  People who are overweight, have flat feet, or stand for prolonged periods may be more likely to develop this problem.  It is also more common in runners because of the repetitive forces to which their feet are subjected.

If you’ve got foot pain, come on in and we’ll help you find out what is causing it and how you can get it feeling better fast!

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Christmas Tradition

baby-jesusI love Christmas.  It is easy to get distracted by all the shopping and sales and extreme commercialism of it all, but I love Christmas for a different reason.  It began with a simple tradition that my parents initiated.

I come from a very large family.  I am the fifth of nine children and seven of us are boys.  Perhaps my parents felt a sense of increasing competition and rowdiness among us, or maybe there were other factors, but when I was a young child, we began the tradition of writing Christmas letters to each other.  Each family member would write one letter to every other family member, and we would sit in a circle in the living room on Christmas Eve, distribute our letters, and then read them silently.  The glow of the Christmas tree and the gentle sound of Christmas carols playing softly in the background completed the mood.  I shed many tears while reading those letters, and at least at that moment of the year felt truly connected with my whole family.

The purpose of these letters was to communicate our love and appreciation to each other.  We were not a family that openly shared affection, so this was a great opportunity to communicate how we really felt about each other.  Some letters were very brief, and some were long, but I appreciated them all, and I have kept them safe over these many years.  I will occasionally read through them and I can’t help but smile as I am instantly taken back to those wonderful memories.

I chose to continue this tradition with my own children, and it has always been the highlight of my Christmas season.  It helps to remind me of what is most important in life.  The relationships that we build are some of the few things that have any staying power in this busy, frantic world, and it is nice to take some time to appreciate what we have.

In my opinion, Christmas really is all about love anyway.  God loves us so He sent His Son.  Jesus showed us how to love and told us to love one another.  May your hearts be full of love now, and always.  I hope you can take time in your Christmas season to appreciate the loved ones in your life!
Merry Christmas.
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World’s Best Foot Massager

Foot pain?  Plantar Fasciitis? Heel Spurs?  Well now there is an amazing invention to help you get rid of the pain!  This technology has actually been around for a very long time, but has historically been used in the sporting industry.  Manufactured to precise and detailed specifications in size, shape and texture, this invention just happens to be a perfect tool for foot massage.  I’m talking about a tennis ball!

Simply rolling a tennis ball under your foot while you are seated can be a very effective way of relieving pain.  Try a timely tennis treatment on your tender tootsies today!

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Time Flies…

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Oh, how the time flies!…

Has it been a long time since you last had an adjustment?  Don’t let that stop you from coming in if something is bothering you!  Of course, like most chiropractors, I will give you recommendations for continuing care, but if you haven’t followed those recommendations, and now many months (or years) have passed, I hope you will not feel any hesitation to come in and see me.  I promise not to guilt you about leaving it so long!  That’s just not my style.  I know that regular treatment is beneficial, but I also know that most people don’t come in unless something hurts!  I get that – I am a chiropractic patient too!

So when you come in after a long absence, I’m not going to make you feel guilty about it.  I’m not going to give you an “I told you so” speech.  We’ll just get right back into treatment with whatever your body needs at the moment.  At Family Chiropractic we try to make your experience as comfortable as possible with a warm, homey atmosphere.  We have no desire to make you feel guilty or force you to come in for treatment if you are not ready.

So if you were just here last week, we’re happy to see you again!  If it has been two years: we’re happy to see you again!

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Dozens of Bones, Dozens of Joints!

foot_anatomy_bonesHow much do you know about your feet?  You use and abuse them every day, and if you are like most people, generally take them for granted.  But when you look a little closer, you will discover what amazing structures your feet are!

Each foot has 26 bones arranged to form 33 joints and includes hundreds of ligaments, tendons, and muscles.  All of these components work together to provide strength, support and flexibility and create a structure capable of withstanding tremendous amounts of pressure and weight without giving way.  Most of the joints in your foot can actively move, while some remain mostly rigid and move very little.  The rigid joints are in the mid foot, where 5 irregularly shaped bones form a bridge-like shape which help to form the arches of the foot and act as a shock absorber to distribute the heavy forces they are subjected to.  The largest bone at the back of your foot – the calcaneus – carries most of your body weight, and the very important bone just above it – the talus – forms part of the complex articulation of your ankle joint.  When everything is working in harmony, this beautifully designed system of bones, ligaments, muscles, tendons, blood vessels, nerves, fibrous tissue and so on does an amazing job of supporting our weight and allowing us to move easily and accomplish some amazing feats. (pun intended)

On the flip-side, if some of these structures become irritated or damaged, they can create a whole series of problems, not just in the feet themselves, but all the way up your body in a chain reaction.  The next few blog posts will explore some things that can go wrong with your feet, and some ways to take care of them.  In the meantime, just think about all the things you have asked your feet to do for you in the last week, and thank them for it!
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Not Just Cold – Frozen.

Not to be confused with getting the ‘cold shoulder’, frozen shoulder is a painful condition which causes stiffness in the shoulder joint.  Also known as adhesive capsulitis, frozen shoulder involves thickening and inflammation of the capsule that surrounds the shoulder joint.

Here are a few points related to this condition:

– Shoulder capsule thickens and develops adhesions and inflammation
– Pain gradually increases and joint stiffens
– Loss of mobility – Actively and passively
– Most common for those aged 40-60, more often in women
– Not related to a specific activity or occupation – not linked with repetitive motion
– Can last for months or even years
– Exercises, anti-inflammatories, and laser therapy can help

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