Healthy Bones

Did you know our bones are constantly remodeling and rebuilding? That's right. With various factors including nutrition and hormones, one of the most influential to bone health is stress. bone remodels in response to the forces which act upon it (Wolfs Law).

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Often stress is seen as a bad thing but this is an example where stress is "food". Gravity alone creates a level of force on the body that helps with bone health. This is observed more clearly in astronauts who, without the impact of gravitational force, have exhibited 1-2% bone loss per MONTH compared to 1-1.5% bone loss in elderly or 2-3% in post menopausal women per YEAR. 

This is also why weight bearing, resistant exercises are so important for bone health as the balance of tensive and compression forces help maintain and promote bone health. 

What happens when this is out of balance though? Obviously if the bone "breakdown" occurs faster than the one "buildup" we will see a decrease in density. The opposite can occur also thought. If the stresses are abnormally distributed or if there is repetitive stress on a particular joint, the body senses this and starts depositing more bone to add stability to the area. This can eventually lead to bone spurs (as seen in the heel particularly with chronic plantar fasciitis) or joint degeneration in the spine or other jouints. 

Maintaining and optimizing body balance through alignment, posture and appropriate movement can be important considerations to promote bone health and to prevent or minimize pain and immobility that can accompany degenerative change. 

Gratitude, Lessons and Perspective

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On Christmas Eve I fell. Picture it. Dressed up like Santa's elf (for real...it was for charity, ok?) I pretty much was airborne and slid down a paved pathway. Scraped up, I dusted myself off, applied some bandaids and got back to business. As the day went on though my wrist became more and more sore and less and less mobile. I went to urgent care that evening, got an x-ray and although it wasn't believed to be fractured, sometimes breaks aren't visible right away. So off they sent me (Dr. Tom...amazing Doc! Felt so well taken care of) with a half cast to return in 2 weeks time for a re-exam. 

That was yesterday. Luckily, x-rays were negative and it ended up being a bruised bone (as confirmed by Carla the awesome physio I saw at Lifemark). Let me tell you though, this has been more painful than any other injury I've had. It has highlighted a few things for me though and something so crucial for any practitioner to really grasp. The physical pain of an injury is only a fraction of the issue. Sure, it is sore and limits me. I can't do yoga, haven't been able to swim, and washing my hair or putting on my shoes takes me a little bit longer than it should. The emotion that accompanied the sprain however was the unexpected sucker punch. 

Frustration for being slowed down and somewhat limited at work. Compounded by the fact that I didn't have access to my (usual) mental outlets of yoga or swimming. (Once confirmed it was a bone bruise not a sprain/ strain I was given the ok to swim again though so yay!)

Fear that my wrist would heal with residual limitations or if there would be any long-term impact on my work as a Chiropractor, or with activities I enjoy for fun, and how long I would have to compensate and be limited.

Fatigue from now having more appointments to accomodate and for the extra effort it is taking to do virtually everything.

All of this for an injured wrist when so many others (many of whom I see right in my office) are facing far more debilitating or challenging circumstances. So I take this time to reflect on some lessons in all of this.

  •  To say to my current and future practice members "I hear you". I recognize the emotion behind the injury (which will be different for everyone). I understand how powerful it can be to know what to expect, to have an idea of how long you will be limited, and all the things you can do to make your recovery the fasted and most effective. 
  • Logically I know this will heal. I am committed to doing everything I can to maximize that. Luckily I have a network of Chiropractors, Physiotherapists and Acupuncturists to see, all of whom offer some pretty incredible skillsets to enhance my healing. There are some aspects out of my control, but I can control the steps I take to be well again. 
  • Patience. Healing takes time. I smile because I say this often but also SO understand why that can be an annoying comment to someone in pain. The truth is though that there are things you can do to facilitate healing but at the end of the day, tissues take time to heal. 
  • Gratitude that this occurred over christmas week...and the coldest week of the year. A week where I could rest and recuperate and not add more stress to my wrist. 
  • Gratitude that it was my left wrist and not my right. I can still work. My 2018 intention was simplicity so maybe this was kickstarting me towards more of that. 
  • The weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas were nuts for me. Covering other practices, working on growing my own practice, continuing ed, social engagements, volunteering...all things I happily said yes to, but were starting to take a toll. The universe works in mysterious ways, but if we don't get the subtle nudges, the signs will become louder and this injury was a less than subtle push to slow down. To make time for self care. To ask for help (and take it). To recognize the community of support we always have if we open our eyes. I strongly believe (yet sometimes need a reminder) that there is duality in all events. There is no event that is exceedingly great without some challenge or contrast just as no unfortunate circumstance is without growth and benefit. 

And that's all I have to say about that. An entry for to reflect on when my frustration gets the better of me, or when things feel hard. And hopefully some perspective and value for anyone choosing to read this. 

 

Catching some ZZZZs - How to Prevent Sleep Associated Pain

Originally written and posted by the Alberta College and Association of Chiropractors

 

Sleep. All of us could probably use more of it with our go-go lifestyles. A good night’s sleep is essential to our overall health and well-being.

It can be frustrating, when we do get around to getting some shut-eye, we can wake up with neck, back or shoulder pain. We should wake up from our slumber refreshed and relaxed instead of in pain.

Changing or altering your position in bed can help you reduce the pain associated with your sleeping pattern and will go a long way in making your slumber that much better.

Changing your sleeping position can be easier said than done. You’ve most likely slept that way your entire life, so breaking that habit can prove to be quite difficult.

Below are some common sleeping patterns and what you can do to improve your sleep for each.

Sleeping on your back – This is the optimal position to reduce pain while sleeping. Sleeping on your back is great for keeping the spine, neck and head aligned and does not force your body into any contortions. This position helps the mattress do its job of supporting the spine. When sleeping on your back, your face should be parallel to the ceiling, not tilted up or down.

Sleeping on your stomach – Sleeping on your stomach is regarded by chiropractors as the worst position for putting stress on your body. This position alters the natural curve of your lower spine, or lumbar and can cause numbness, tingling and pain in your extremities.

If sleeping on your stomach is absolutely necessary, try to shift positions several times in the night to avoid prolonged stress.

Sleeping on your side - Sleeping on your side is an effective way to reduce pain if your mattress is properly suited to your body shape. A good mattress should distribute your weight evenly while ensuring your lower back keeps its proper curvature. Sleeping on your side keeps your body in a relatively neutral position.

Also, for side sleepers, try placing a second pillow between your knees. This helps to keep your hips open. The pillow will help reduce low back pain as well as the strain on the ligaments in your hips.

Sleeping in the fetal position (knees to your chest) - Sleeping this way can be very harmful to your body. This position may be acceptable for pregnant women, but isn’t good for your body in the long run. Keeping your body and spine tightly curled in the fetal position can lead to muscle and ligament adaptations in one of or all of your neck, back or hips.

See your chiropractor if pain persists

If you are still experiencing pain in the mornings as a result of your sleep, see your chiropractor.

Chiropractors are experts in the diagnosis and treatment of conditions of the spine and musculoskeletal system (the body’s bones, muscles, cartilage, tendons, joints and connective tissue). Your chiropractor will first assess your current condition or the source of your problem and then develop a treatment plan for you to help ease your pain.

Chiropractic for TMJ Pain

Originally written and posted by the Alberta College and Association of Chiropractors

When most people think of the work a chiropractor does, their thoughts immediately go to correcting problems with the back, neck, spine, etc.

Perhaps, the last place you’d expect a chiropractor to relieve pain is in your jaw.

Your chiropractor may be able to relieve pain in your  jaw, specifically your temporomandibular joint (TMJ), which can be a common sore spot for many people. 

A study showed that specific adjustments of the TMJ may be appropriate for the conservative treatment of temporomandibular dysfunction (TMD). 

What is the TMJ?

The TMJ connects the lower jaw to the skull in front of the ear. Certain facial muscles that control chewing are also attached to the lower jaw. You can easily find your TMJ by placing your fingers in front of either ear and opening your mouth. You should feel changing shapes beneath your fingers. Problems with the TMJ or the surrounding structures cause TMD.

What are some of the problems that cause TMD?

There are number of causes for TMD. The most common is clenching your jaw or grinding your teeth during sleep. These moments overwork the jaw muscles and put pressure on the joint.

TMD can also be caused by the following:

  • Disc dislocation
  • when ill-fitting dental fillings, crowns, dentures, etc. make the bite uneven
  • trauma to the mouth i.e. a fall directly on the jaw or dental surgery
  • hereditary issues
  • specific diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, gout or fibromyalgia

What are the symptoms of TMD?

TMD can have many symptoms that can be present all the time, or come and go. Some of these include:

  • trouble opening and closing your mouth
  • jaw locking, clicking or popping
  • headaches
  • pain in the jaw
  • pain in the neck or face
  • difficulty chewing
  • ear pain

How can my chiropractor help?

Your chiropractor will first assess the cause of your TMD. Most TMJ conditions respond well to conservative treatment like chiropractic.

If your chiropractor decides your specific case of TMD can benefit from chiropractic treatment, they may proceed with a few different methods, such as chiropractic adjustments, Myofascial Release, which works to relax muscles and soft tissue in order to optimize their function, or active release therapy, which is meant to release scar tissue.

Your chiropractor will also work with your dentist to ensure that the treatment chosen is the correct one for you.

Your chiropractor may also advise you of certain postural changes you can make, especially in the upper-neck, which could be causing or contributing to your TMD as well.