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Back and Neck Pain: Medicine’s Mystery

Back and Neck Pain: Medicine’s Mystery

As many as half of all working Americans admit having back and neck pain symptoms in a typical year, and it is among the most used excuses for calling in sick, according to the American Chiropractic Association (ACA), and accumulated missed workdays. The number of lost workdays debited to this spinal malady approaches 300 million annually.

Mainstream medicine, at times, seems mystified about how to treat this rampant health invader, other than pharmaceuticals and surgery which are invasive, expensive and potentially harmful.

The Department of Global Health in 2017 proclaimed that low back and neck pain has racked up “the third highest bill of any health condition” in the United States. The same source also posited that most of the lower back and neck pain suffered by millions is “unexplained” and available evidence suggests “most treatments do not work.”

Any when you talk about work, it is not just about people who bend and lift as part of their jobs. It is also about those who stoop and sit in an office setting, because the chair puts as many workers at risk for back pain as those who labor with demanding tools. Experts say that 80 percent of us will experience some kind of back pain in our lives.

There is such a thing as upper back pain, by the way, but it doesn’t even come close to the lower back and neck when it comes to the number of treatments sought by its sufferers. You might even say it is relatively rare when it comes to the numbers seeking treatment. That’s because the spine in the upper back is not as vulnerable to injury as either the lower back or neck. The twelve vertebrae of the well-muscled upper back run from the base of the neck to the bottom of the rib cage. In combination with the bones of the encircling rib bones, they absorb shock and help stabilize the back. The upper back does not bend and twist as the lower back does, and that reduces the chances of injury.

Back pain is probably the most common reason for a person’s first visit to a chiropractor. 

Relying on Combination of Treatments

At Montvale Health Sport+ Spine we take a conservative approach which, aside from chiropractic, include physical therapy, acupuncture, spinal decompression and massage therapy.

In fact, the recent opioid epidemic promulgated by mainstream medicine and its practitioners and growing concerns about addiction have been sending more people to chiropractors, as a nonsurgical and nonmedicinal source of relief, than ever. An increasing number of physicians are recommending chiropractic care to patients with back pain, according to a report from Harvard Medical School, which also noted an increasing number of referrals to physical therapists.

Harvard Medical School experts have made the following concessions about the effectiveness of chiropractic care reported by patients who underwent six weeks of treatment for back pain issues commonly resolved by potentially addictive medication:

√ reported less pain intensity

√ experienced less disability and more improvement in function

√ reported higher satisfaction with their treatment

There has been some disagreement with the above findings outside the alternative care community, with some arguing that back pain tends to subside on its own after a certain amount of time anyway. The problem is that it almost always comes back.

Duke University Medical School, which includes chiropractic spinal care among its offerings, reported in an August 2022 blog the following: “Research shows that spinal manipulation can help relieve pain and improve function in people with acute low-back pain.”

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Sitting Today May Mean Pain Tomorrow

Life goes on regardless of how you feel. Whether your live and work in Bergen County or across the state line toward the New York Metropolitan Area, among the few things that slows you down is pain — that hard-to-ignore discomfort that robs you of your appreciation of living. In short, pain, whether acute or chronic, puts a damper on emotional well-being. 

If you rely on your chiropractor to make your life less painful and more enjoyable, you might take heed in knowing that you can prevent future suffering by anticipating the impact of lifestyle preferences.

Musculoskeletal misalignment is almost always the villain that results in the pain that brings people to chiropractic noninvasive treatments that can restore the emotional well-being lost due to pain.

For instance, you are not alone if you spend hours every day sitting. More of us are likely to be seated for prolonged periods daily when on the job. More so than was the case with previous generations. After a long day at work, we’re sitting on the commute home —in a car or on public transit —or elsewhere on the premises if we work from home. Then it’s time to relax after work, which often requires a seat at the dinner table and, after that, winding down in your favorite chair.

We learned in a 2019 study conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) that the average adult sits for more than six-and-a-half hours every day (eight hours for adolescents between ages twelve and eighteen), which was an increase of more than hour from a decade before. Since then, we’ve endured a pandemic and the economic and activity slowdowns induced from that and its aftermath, which has assuredly increased our sitting time. 

We’re spending significantly more of our personal time on a computer or smart device, most of which require seated positions and hunched shoulders as we concentrate on screens often as small as the palms of our hands.

Sitting Tops Types of Sedentary Behavior

In our never-ending quest for seated comfort and taking the load off our overburdened feet, we are hunched up in cozy postures unaware that what feels good now is going to result in pain and discomfort due to misalignment from our neck to our ankles. This is clearly sedentary behavior and an invitation to bodily misalignment.

This sedentary lifestyle does not include our sleeping time in bed, which, for many, often result in bodily contortions that make sitting seem therapeutic. Nevertheless, excluding bedtime, the tally of sedentary time daily increases to ten hours for people between the ages of 65 and 74, according to more recent studies, and eleven hours and beyond by age 75 and beyond. That means that adults who are up and awake for sixteen or seventeen hours a day are sedentary —much of it from sitting—for forty to 65 percent of their waking hours. 

Chiropractic medicine is very much attuned to the fact that extended sitting is a key contributor to poor posture, which shifts bones and discs, applying unnatural pressure and stress to neck, shoulders and back. Regular visits are a preventive way to maintain a properly aligned spine so hundreds of hours sitting every month do not take their toll later in ongoing joint and muscle pain, chronic back pain and even headaches resulting from misalignment of the neck and spine. 

Does that mean we should do all we can to avoid sitting? Too much of any posture can be harmful. Sometimes standing or sitting is unavoidable due to work or home demands, and that’s where your chiropractor is ready and willing to come to your rescue.

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PRP Therapy: Plasma from You to You

PRP Therapy: Plasma from You to You

Platelet-rich Plasma (PRP) is a healing liquid that has been proven to speed up recovery from injuries. It has made 21st Century news headlines because PRP Therapy has benefitted professional athletes like Tiger Woods, Alex Rodriguez and the late Kobe Bryant, allowing them to get back on track in their respective sports.  

We’ve been hearing a lot more about the powers of plasma, the integral part of blood that allows the movement of red and white blood cells and platelets through the bloodstream, during the year of the COVID-19 pandemic. It has achieved success in warding off a killer virus if plasma from someone who survived the disease is injected into a person who have been exposed and even infected.  Some claim that plasma from survivors was the beginning of the end of the Spanish Influenza, the 1918 pandemic, and similar antitoxins conquered an outbreak of diphtheria, a bacterial infection, as far back as 1901. It has come to be known as “convalescent plasma” because it is taken from humans (and animals) who have convalesced or recovered to diminish or cure that disease in the afflicted.

PRP Therapy is becoming increasingly popular in treating sports injuries and in the healing of postsurgical wounds, but it is a different concept than using antitoxins in the plasma of one person to repel a disease in another. It is literally a case of your body healing itself, because the plasma is separated from your own blood to collect miniscule plate-shaped cells aptly named platelets. Thus enriched it is injected back into affected areas in your body.

Taking Healing Power to Another Level

Before the advent of platelets as a healing force of great potential in the field of Regenerative Medicine, they were best known for their clotting power, stemming the flow of blood from wounds and sores and saving us from bleeding to death from the most minor of injuries.

The healing power of platelets is taken to another healing level in platelet-rich plasma, enabling doctors to use PRP therapy to heal injuries or resurrect damaged ligaments, tendons, muscles, joints and even skin. In the event of an injured muscle, for example, the enriched plasma would be injected into strategic locations of that muscle.

At Montvale Health Sport + Spine, Medical Director Dr. Rick Lambert, MD, and Physiatrist Dr. Shahrokh Bemanian, MD, include PRP Therapy among their specialties.

Injecting PRP into damaged and diseased tissues promotes healing by stimulating the growth of new, healthy cells in your body. 

Studies and observational data indicate PRP is effective in treating:

√ Tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis)

√ Knee osteoarthritis 

√ Sports injuries such as pulled muscles, joint sprains or ligament tears

Wounds

√ Tendon injuries including Achilles tendonitis, tennis elbow, patellar tendon pain

√ Acute injuries such as sprained knees and pulled hamstrings

√ Postsurgical repair

√ Osteoarthritis (degenerative joint disease)

Most devices used in making PRP are cleared by the Food and Drug Administration. PRP treatments, however, are not subject to FDA approval. They use the person’s own blood and are not regarded as “drugs.”

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Teaming Up to Manage Chronic Pain

There are two basic kinds of physical pain experienced by the human body— acute and chronic. Acute is that which you experience from injury and illness that eventually goes away on its own or as the result of therapy or medical treatment. Chronic pain is generally defined as that which lasts for at least three months, and for some sufferers, unfortunately, for years and even throughout one’s life.

Chronic pain that cannot be conquered may be eased by prescription drugs which often lead to side effects that may eventually be as overwhelming as the pain itself and too often addictive physically, mentally and emotionally. It commonly leads to depression and anxiety, which opens the door for other medications. Then the patient is dealing with multiple layers of treatment that too often conflict with each other and complicate the pathway to managing chronic pain.

Chronic pain may not be ever-present. It can come and go, bringing periods of welcome relief, only to return much too soon to interfere with those basic pleasures of life, which include normal daily activities and healthful, healing sleep. Sleep deprivation itself leads to a weakened immunity that combats colds, flu and other communicable illnesses.

No part of the human body is exempt from chronic pain, and the causes are as varied as its impacts on your life, whether on the home front or in your work performance and career goals.  Among the most common causes of chronic pain are familiar to those practitioners who are dedicated to helping you gain as much control as possible of the chronic pain in your life. These conditions and causes include:

√ back pain

√ muscle pain from conditions such as fibromyalgia

√ joint pain instigated by the likes of osteoarthritis, the most common cause of chronic joint pain, as well as autoimmune diseases, bursitis and bone cancer

√ headaches and migraines

√ neck pain that may be caused by spinal stenosis, pinched nerves and herniated discs

√ traumatic brain injury and other forms of mental stress

We do know that chronic pain is endured by an estimated 50 million Americans— slightly more than the combined populations of California and New Jersey. It is the most common cause of disability among adults in the United States.

There is no reason to abandon all hope of normalcy, because chronic does not mean unmanageable. It’s not just about covering up the pain but in managing it while dealing with the root cause. There are pain management physicians who specialize in doing this, and their approaches do not exclude nontraditional treatment which, according to the American Chronic Pain Association, “also use a variety of other modalities including chiropractic care, alternative treatments such as acupuncture” with “a focus on minimally invasive surgery wherever possible.” The Cleveland Clinic, in a report on managing chronic pain, states “the most effective approach is a combination of medications, therapies and lifestyle changes.”

Montvale Sport + Spine offers a customized comprehensive care package that combines our medical team, chiropractic, physical therapy, massage, acupuncture, and other noninvasive approaches that assist patients in managing the chronic pain in their lives.

 

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Chiropractors Keep Customers Satisfied

Chiropractic has been around for a long time, but it has never been more prominent in the lives of Americans than it is two decades into the 21st Century. It has an impressive percentage of satisfied customers among the more than 35 million people treated by chiropractors each year than other health-care providers. At the same time, there has also never been a part of health care in this country that has been more misunderstood.
But that’s another story.

The American Chiropractic Association (ACA) reports there are more than 70,000 practicing chiropractors in this country, which means that the average chiropractor treats about 500 patients each year. That’s a simplistic calculation, but it tells you that there are a lot of satisfied customers, so to speak. Even more telling is that study by Consumer Reports not so long ago that chiropractors, as a group, rated the highest level of patient satisfaction among all health care providers, including medical doctors.

There are also more abuses in other areas of American healthcare, even with all the advancements in mainstream medicine, which includes prescribing drugs to millions of patients. Addiction to prescription drugs has ruined many lives, and we became acutely aware of that in 2017 with the National Safety Council report that more than 61,300 people died from drug overdoses that year, notably prescription drugs. Opioids played a big part in that and convinced many in the medical profession not to prescribe these drugs so freely. Ill-advised surgery and incompetency in the operating room has also done its share of damage— despite more than its share of miraculous results. It is often the only recourse when ailments and injuries are beyond preventive and healing approaches.

For the record, the annual toll is in the millions worldwide for people who die within 30 days after surgery, which is known as perioperative mortality. This includes infection that may come after surgery.

Mortality Issues in Healthcare Compared

There are times when health care becomes invasive and a last resort— the only way to improve a deteriorating condition and perhaps saving a life. Chiropractic care is non-invasive and promotes natural healing. The mortality numbers pale compared to other areas of healthcare, but it is a reminder that there are charlatans and incompetents in every profession and that being a cautious and informed consumer is critical. It is clear procedures in chiropractic care are much less likely to be harmful and often depend how death is linked to the care and what is actually responsible.

Myths about chiropractic care are often fed by ignorance. and the internet is a breeding ground for false tales and conspiracy theories. It is also keeping people away from effective and safe healthcare. Let the consumer beware, and chiropractors as a group welcome fact-checking and learning as much as you can about chiropractic care from reputable sources. They will find that chiropractors provide excellent and safe care, as well a healing environment that may improve your quality of life.

What chiropractic care does bring to the table is relief from chronic pain and occasional discomfort and pain that comes from the day-to-day demands of living. Most importantly, it is an effective preventive approach for keeping you off those potentially dangerous pharmaceuticals and out of the operating room.

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