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Wellness Blog

The blog for South Orange Chiropractic Center, South Orange NJ

Arthritis a Growing Pain for US Adults

CDC recommends physical activity and self-management education interventions

Arthritis a Growing Pain for US Adults
Published Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Arthritis is a painful and sometimes debilitating condition caused by inflammation of the joints. Earlier this month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that over 54 million adults are suffering from doctor-diagnosed arthritis in the United States.  Almost half of those diagnosed also described some sort of activity limitations attributed to arthritis pain, a 20 percent increase from 2002.

CDC Report Highlights:

  • Approximately 50 percent of adults with heart disease and diabetes and 30 percent of adults with obesity were also diagnosed with arthritis. Arthritis pain can cause even more complications for patients dealing with such preexisting conditions.
  • Medical expenses, including hip and knee joint replacements, stemming from arthritis pain cost the nation about $81 billion annually.
  • Adults diagnosed with arthritis are often prescribed opioids to help deal with the pain; however, the CDC recommends physical activity which can help reduce pain and improve physical function by almost 40 percent.
  • The CDC also endorses self-management education interventions, which are programs aimed to improve patients’ confidence and teach them skills to manage their condition. These courses have been shown to reduce pain, fatigue, and depression by 10 to 20 percent, but only 11 percent of adults diagnosed with arthritis have ever reported taking them.
  • People were more likely to attend a self-management education program when their healthcare provider recommended one.

Arthritis seems to be a growing and expensive problem in the United States, one that is causing many adults to have trouble completing simple, everyday tasks. Due to the scarcity of patients participating in self-management education interventions or treatment plans which prioritize physical activity over opioids, the CDC report also calls for further research to encourage these types of strategies.

In a teleconference with reporters, the acting director of the CDC, Anne Schuchat, M.D., “called on healthcare providers to do more to encourage patients to slowly increase their physical activity – such as with a short walk or a lap in the pool – and to strive for a healthy weight to reduce pressure on joints.”

You can read the CDC’s full report here

[VIDEO] Walk Me Through the Steps for My First Chiropractic Visit

Dr. Roczey explains what you can expect at your first visit to the chiropractor

[VIDEO] Walk Me Through the Steps for My First Chiropractic Visit
Published Thursday, 20 April 2017

Video Transcript - Walk Me Through the Steps for My First Chiropractic Visit

Yeah. You know, the basic thing is most people find us through an internet, a loved one, a family member, somebody who's had a great experience at South Orange Chiropractic Center. Normally, when a patient calls up, they're going to ask "Do you take my insurance?" We participate with so many insurances. If you have chiropractic benefits, we're going to tell you. If you don't, we're going to tell you that, too, and make sure that we provide you with the cash plan. Upon verifying all of the benefits before coming into the office, we're also going to email you our paperwork, fax the paperwork, or mail you the paperwork, whichever's most convenient. Some patients maybe want to fill it out in the waiting room. All right?

Upon arrival, when you walk through the door, we're going to greet you with a friendly smile. You're going to sign in, and we're going to instruct you on what is to come. After you fill out your paperwork, either Dr. Levine or myself is going to bring you into a consultation. We want to do a thorough history. We don't know what you've done, where you've been, what the problem is, because most people choose chiropractic, unfortunately, as the last choice. The most important thing is knowing where the problem is, how we're going to fix it, and what a solution will be for the patient.

After that thorough consultation, we're going to take you into exam room. We're going to provide you with the chiropractic, neurologic, orthopedic consultation. It's a series of test that are going to determine exactly can we help you. After that, we usually take digital films. Digital films are hospital grade, they're current, and they're going to allow us to see exactly the structure of the spine within, because if we can't see it, how can we fix it? Then, after that, we're going to give you a series of home care instructions. It's important that you follow it. Icing, stretching, bending, twisting, turning the proper way, ways that aren't going to exacerbate the problem and make you worse. Give us a day to determine exactly where and how we're going to fix the problem.

When a patient comes back in for the consultation, we're going to sit them down and go over everything that occurred the day before. It's important that they're a part of the process, because either they know where the problem is and take an active role, or the same thing's going to happen, and they're going to just continue down the path towards pain and discomfort. When a patient comes into my office, we're going to do a thorough consultation, a review of findings. That review of findings is going to go over the X-ray, their thermal imaging, all of the exam findings, and we're going to tell the patient how to get well. It's so important that they follow the instructions, the protocols, the patient appointments, the stretching, the exercise, because if they take an active role, they're going to get the results their friends or loved ones did before them.

After that, we're going to have somebody come in here and schedule them. They're going to explain more of the insurance if they have any questions. We want to make sure every patient is scheduled out a month in advance. It's important that we keep the frequency, because we know what works. After they go, after they've been spoken to about their scheduling, we're going to start care right away. Our first goal is to take pressure off that nerve, get them moving better, feeling better, thinking better, so that they walk out with a wow experience. After every patient's adjusted on the first day, I always want to follow up with a phone call. I think it's so important that they have somebody to ask questions to. All right? How to ice, where to ice, how to stretch. All that information is always given in detail before every patient leaves their first day. However, it's great that we reinforce it, and most patients appreciate the phone call.

The Dirty Dozen Updated for 2017

(The list, not the movie.)

The Dirty Dozen Updated for 2017
Published Tuesday, 11 April 2017

In early March, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) released its annual Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen lists. Using data from US Department of Agriculture tests, the EWG ranks conventionally-grown fruits and vegetables based on how many pesticides remain on the produce after it is prepared for consumption. Often the synthetic chemicals found in pesticides can stay on produce even after it is washed or peeled, and even low levels of pesticide exposure can be detrimental to young children’s development.

  • Strawberries remained in the number one spot in the Dirty Dozen this year due to the high out-of-season demand for them. Ninety-nine percent of the USDA samples in 2014 and 2015 had detectable residue of at least one pesticide.
  • Spinach moved from eighth to second place this year. Seventy-five percent of the samples were found to have residues of permethrin, a neurotoxic insecticide which is banned in the EU.
  • Pears and potatoes joined the list this year in the sixth and twelfth spots, respectively.
  • Sweet corn moved to the top spot on the Clean Fifteen list, knocking avocados down to number two. The Clean Fifteen list tracks produce whose samples were found to have the least amount of pesticide residues, if any.
  • The EWG’s lists rank fruits and vegetables based on the amount of pesticides found on them, not the toxicity of the pesticides themselves. Therefore, while produce high on the Dirty Dozen list may have a lot of pesticide residue, that residue could possibly be less harmful than residue found on a fruit or vegetable from the Clean Fifteen list.

However, according to the EWG website, “Since researchers are constantly developing new insights into how pesticides act on living organisms, no one can say that concentrations of pesticides assumed to be safe today are, in fact, harmless.”

While the EWG’s lists do help to limit your family’s intake of pesticides, this doesn’t mean that you should never buy strawberries again. Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables to maintain a balanced diet and to avoid consuming too much of one harmful chemical. Buy organic when it’s accessible and affordable for you. A shopper’s guide is available to help you buy foods with fewer types of pesticides when buying organic isn’t an option.

See the full Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen lists here.  

[VIDEO] Can You Explain Life Energy?

Dr. Levine describes Life Energy and the innate health of the human body

[VIDEO] Can You Explain Life Energy?
Published Thursday, 06 April 2017

Video Transcript - Can You Explain Life Energy? 

Life energy is the energy that heals the body, there's a constant energy force. Your body is a self-healing, self-regulating organism. It needs that life energy to help heal and to help regulate. If I ran up the block and ran down the street and my heart rate starting increasing, my respiration started increasing, and my whole visual acuity changed that's all a result of self-regulation. Now, do I time that? Do I say, "Okay, I'm going to run for the next 10 minutes. I need to elevate my heart rate from 68 beats per minute to 98. I can't, the body is self-regulating. It does that with the life force. The life force starts at the brain, runs down the spinal cord and goes out to every organ in the body.

How about self-healing? If I cut myself and I start bleeding, well what am I going to do? I might put a little antiseptic on there, maybe a bandaid. Now, is the bandaid doing the healing, did the antiseptic do the healing? No, the life force did the healing, it'll heal that. I can go down the butcher shop, get a rib eye, put a cut in it and then put antiseptic and a bandaid on, it's not going to heal. Why, because it's missing life force. The life force is the energy that's self-healing, self-regulating.

Chiropractors take the nervous system and elevate the function of that nervous system so the body's self-regulating ability and self-healing is increased. Better nerve supply, better nerve function, better immune system, better regulation, better healing. If you had a choice of running at peak performance or running at sub-level performance where would you be? You'd always choose to be better but how would you know? We don't know that our life and our health and our function can be better unless we get a checkup.

How is my nervous system functioning now? I have no idea. I mean, I feel okay but feeling okay is not a good indication of health. That's why health care's failing dramatically, it's based on how you feel. You go to the doctor, he says, "How do you feel?" "Oh, I feel fine." "Okay, see yeah." You know, we can run some blood work, we can take your blood pressure which measures one system but unless those things are registering high nothing is done. What if we can see it before it happens? We can do that with the technology that we have, it's called a chiropractic checkup.

Meal Timing and Eating Heart Healthy

When you eat is just as important as what you eat!

Meal Timing and Eating Heart Healthy
Published Friday, 31 March 2017

In late January of this year, the American Heart Association (AHA) released a statement regarding meal timing and frequency. The statement provides loose guidelines for how to promote your cardiovascular and overall health through your meals and eating habits.

  • When you eat could be as important as what you eat, as the body and its organs have their own internal clocks. Animal studies suggest that eating during an inactive phase, such as late at night before sleeping, can affect the metabolism, causing weight gain and inflammation.
  • Meal planning can also help reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke, or other cardiac diseases. Knowing what you’re going to eat and when you’re going to eat it, helps you build a healthier lifestyle.
  • People who consume breakfast daily typically have lower cholesterol and blood pressure than those who do not. People who skip breakfast, as 20-30% of American adults do, are more likely to be obese, have diabetes, and have poor nutrition.
  • It is still important to have a healthy and balanced diet, high in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, poultry, and fish.
  • The authors of this report emphasize that more research is needed in order to provide evidence for these claims. While they believe these measures could lead to a healthier lifestyle, they write that larger studies, which track patients’ health over a long period and quantify outcomes, will lead to more concrete results.

Implementing these methods into your daily life may help reduce the risk factors surrounding cardiovascular disease including high cholesterol, obesity, high blood pressure, and insulin complications. While more research is needed to ensure a fool-proof guide to healthy eating, the AHA has provided some useful tips for people looking to promote their cardiovascular health.

“We suggest eating mindfully, by paying attention to planning both what you eat and when you eat meals and snacks, to combat emotional eating. Many find that emotions can trigger eating episodes when they are not hungry, which often leads to eating too many calories from foods that have low nutritional value.”

Click to read the AHA’s statement and full report

Mental Wellness As We Age

Protecting yourself from dementia with an active mind

Mental Wellness As We Age
Published Tuesday, 14 March 2017

A new study shows that seniors who engage in mentally-stimulating activities significantly reduce their risk for developing mild cognitive impairment (MCI), which often leads to dementia.

What they found:

  • The report is based off of a population-based cohort study of 1929 cognitively normal participants all over the age of 70. The study followed the participants for an average of four years.
  • The study’s team found that people who participated in mentally-stimulating activities at least once or twice a week had less cognitive decline than those who participated in the same activities only two or three times a month.
  • These mentally-stimulating activities included computer use, which decreased participants’ risk by 30%, craft activities (28%), social activities (23%), and game play (22%).
  • Researchers also followed the development of participants who were APOE e4 carriers, a genetic risk factor for MCI and Alzheimer’s disease. Mentally-stimulating activities may help to reduce the risk of new-onset MCI for these participants, as well.
  • In addition to mentally-stimulating activities, older adults should try to maintain a healthy lifestyle with proper diet and exercise in order to ensure the best defense against cognitive decline.

Maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle is important no matter your age. This study reemphasizes the importance of taking care of your mind as well as your body.

Dr. Yonas Geda, a senior author of the study, states, “What is perhaps most exciting about this effort is that we are expanding the conversation around mental health, particularly among the elderly, to better understand how to remain mentally fit as we age.”

Head Injuries and Sports

Soccer players may be "heading" for concussions

Head Injuries and Sports
Published Wednesday, 01 March 2017

One of the most popular sports in the world, soccer is often considered a rite of passage for today’s youth. It is also a sport known for a high rate of concussions in it players, according to a study published in 2007 by the Journal of Athletic Training. In 2013, researchers conducted the Einstein Soccer Study, tracking soccer players in order to determine if “heading” the ball intentionally contributed to concussion symptoms to the same degree as accidental impacts, such as player-to-player or goal post collisions.

  • During the study, 222 amateur adult soccer players (79% male) completed questionnaires over a two-week period. The questionnaires asked them about their practice and game schedules, any intentional or unintentional head impacts that may have occurred during those practices or games, and any concussion symptoms (headache pain, dizziness, confusion) they may have experienced.
  • Researchers found that players who intentionally headed the ball the most were three times more likely to experience concussion symptoms.
  • However, players who suffered two or more unintentional head collisions were six times more likely to report concussion symptoms as those who only suffered a single impact. This suggests that unintentional head collisions are more risky than intentional ones.
  • In an interview with Reuters Health, the lead author of the study, Dr. Michael Lipton stated that this study only shows the short-term effects of heading, and more research is needed to address the long-term consequences.
  • The study followed amateur adult athletes in the northeast United States, so it is still unknown if the results can be applied to teenagers and children as well.

The report, published on February 1, 2017 in Neurology, demonstrates that concussion symptoms do arise from intentional heading, though more severe symptoms of concussion did mainly occur due to accidental collisions with other players or goal posts. While this may cause concern in parents over their children heading the ball in youth leagues, Lipton stressed there is a need for more research to track the long-term brain changes associated with heading.

Speaking to the New York Times, Lipton said, “We don’t know how much is too much. It would be great to say ‘no heading,’ but we don’t have enough information to say that. Public health interventions have to be based on evidence.”

Read more about the Einstein Soccer Study here.

New Study Says Skip the Drugs for Back Pain

Drugs are no longer the first option to manage pain

New Study Says Skip the Drugs for Back Pain
Published Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Drug Free Approach More Effective for Back Pain

On February 14, 2017 the American College of Physicians (ACP) released a report on the treatment of low-back pain, which recommends patients turn to noninvasive and alternative remedies before opening their medicine cabinets. The study followed patients suffering from acute (pain lasting fewer than 4 weeks), subacute (4-12 weeks), and chronic (+12 weeks) low-back pain, and does not necessarily apply to people suffering from radicular low back pain, more commonly known as sciatica.

Key Findings for Back Pain:

  • Low-back pain is one of the most common reasons patients in the US visit their doctors. In 2006, a study estimated that, including healthcare costs and time lost from work, low-back pain cost the American public about $100 billion.
  • Using acetaminophen (found in brand name Tylenol) to relieve low-back pain was found to be as effective as using a placebo. However, continued use of acetaminophen poses the risk of liver damage.
  • The study authors recommend most patients with any type of low-back pain should first try non-drug therapies, such as massage, spinal manipulation by a chiropractor, or applying heat, only turning to pharmacological treatments if the former prove ineffective.
  • Patients with chronic low-back pain respond more strongly to nondrug therapies such as exercise, acupuncture, and mindfulness-based stress reduction according to the study.
  • Pharmacological treatment may still be necessary if patients do not respond to alternative treatments. The study authors suggest discussing the drug products with your doctor thoroughly and selecting a treatment that would present the least health risks for you.

Overall, the ACP study suggests that alternative therapies for low-back pain are sometimes more effective and pose lower health risks than pharmacological treatments. Of course, if spinal manipulation, acupuncture, massage, or exercise does not resolve your pain issues, you should approach your doctor about possible low-risk drug treatments.

In an article for the Wall Street Journal covering this report, the president of ACP, Nitin Damle stated, “About one-quarter of U.S. adults have had back pain in the past few months. We are advocating for really trying the non-pharmacologic approach initially, especially for acute and subacute back pain.”

Read more about the ACP study here.

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