Archive for Degenerative Disorders
Whether they first see the phrase in print or hear it for the first time in a doctor’s office, “degenerative disc disease” is a term that many chronic back pain sufferers will encounter. It’s part of a brand new vocabulary that many patients learn as they try to understand their condition and navigate healthcare choices. But what does it really mean?
Degenerative disc disease is not actually a disease at all. Rather, it refers to normal changes in your spinal discs that tend to occur naturally as your body ages. Spinal discs are the soft “separators” between your vertebrae that cushion the individual bones and give your spine its flexibility. Healthy ones are thick and soft. Unhealthy ones are thinner and more brittle. Over the years, these discs may gradually become less effective as the amount of fluid inside is reduced or cumulative wear and tear damages the discs and raises the risk of bulging, rupture or disintegration. The truth is that by the time we reach middle age, most of us already have degenerating discs, whether we’re experiencing any pain or not. And even with our best imaging technology, it can be very difficult to tell whether this degeneration is actually the source of a patient’s problems.
So from a patient’s point of view, this bit of language—degenerative disc disease—can be both confusing and frustrating since it suggests a diagnosis but doesn’t usually come with a clear set of treatment options attached. In some ways, it may actually seem like a “catch-all diagnosis” or “un-diagnosis”. Can I Benefit From Chiropractic Care if I Have Degenerative Disc Disease? Sometimes patients who’ve been told they have degenerative disc disease wonder if chiropractic adjustments can still help them or if they’re safe. The answer to these questions depends on the patient’s individual circumstances, including whether the damaged discs are herniated or ruptured (bulging or broken) or have caused other conditions, such as osteoarthritis (a breakdown of the tissue that protects joints) or spinal stenosis (a narrowing of the channel within the spine that holds the spinal cord). Chiropractic physicians are specially trained to diagnose the underlying causes of back pain and to recognize when specific types of treatment may be either ineffective or harmful in situations where patients have degenerative disc disease. Since they are often skilled in a wide range of conservative, non-surgical therapies, most chiropractors will recommend low-force, non-thrusting techniques in situations involving disc degeneration and related complications. They may also employ traditional spinal adjustments based upon the results of a careful evaluation of the patient.
Chiropractic care generally focuses on addressing back pain at its source as well as improving the spine’s stability and mobility. While there is no cure for degenerative disc disease, an effective treatment plan will usually combine manual therapies (such as manipulation or massage) with supervised exercise and/or nutritional programs and lifestyle changes designed to minimize its impact. If you’re wondering what chiropractic care could do for you or someone you care about, please call our office today to schedule a consultation.
Bibliography Degenerative Disc Disease – Topic Overview. (2011, July 21). Retrieved September 2011, from WebMD: http://www.webmd.com/back-pain/tc/degenerative-disc-disease-topic-overview Arn Strasser, D. (n.d.). How a Chiropractor Treats Degenerative Disc Disease. Retrieved September 2011, from spineuniverse.com: http://www.spineuniverse.com/experts/how-chiropractor-treats-degenerative-disc-disease New York Times Back Pain In-Depth Report. (n.d.). Retrieved September 2011, from nytimes.com: http://health.nytimes.com/health/guides/symptoms/back-pain-low/print.html Peter F. Ullrich JR, M. (n.d.). Degenerative Disc Disease. Retrieved September 2011, from spine-health.com: http://www.spine-health.com/conditions/degenerative-disc-disease/what-degenerative-disc-disease
During the winter months, the phone rings constantly with people who have “the flu”. Except…they don’t. Do you know the difference between having a cold and having the flu?
The common cold (and boy is it common) develops gradually over several days and can start with a scratchy throat, sneezing and sniffles leading to congestion. Any fever present is mild (in adults). Coughing is generally hacking and can be moist due to congestion.
On the other hand, influenza often starts rather suddenly with fever (usually greater than 101 degrees F and lasting 3-4 days), headache and all over body aches (myalgia). People with the flu are often exhausted or fatigued. Coughing is usually dry and hacking and can last days or weeks after all other flu symptoms have passed.
Influenza or “the flu” is more of a systemic illness, meaning it affects your entire body, whereas a cold generally just affects the upper body. You can sometimes get a stuffy nose, sneezing and sore throat with the flu, but it’s much more common with colds. The flu is more serious because it can lead to other problems, like pneumonia in susceptible adults and young children.
Influenza is caused by a virus. In general, viral illnesses will run their course without a trip to the doctor. Antibiotics don’t work against viruses, so all your doctor can recommend to help you are pain medications, cough suppressants or an anti-pyretic (fever reducers). All of these are available without a prescription from your local drug store to help you deal with flu symptoms.
If you are suffering from cold or flu symptoms, you should also schedule a visit to your chiropractor. Chiropractic care doesn’t treat the virus directly, but rather boosts your body’s ability to fight the invaders. That’s why regular chiropractic care can reduce the frequency with which you get sick. When your body’s immune system is in peak condition, it can fight off minor intruders with ease.
It’s estimated that 60 million Americans suffer from some type of allergy. That’s 1 out of 4. It’s the 5th highest chronic disease in America and the 3rd most common chronic disease in children. Many people suffer from more than one allergy type.
Pollen from trees, grass and weeds are in the indoor/outdoor allergy category. Other common indoor/outdoor allergy triggers are mold spores, dust mites, and cat, dog and rodent dander. About 75% of people with allergies have indoor/outdoor allergies. The most common pet allergy is cat dander.
Skin allergies are another common allergy. The most common causes of skin allergies are plants like poison oak, ivy and sumac. Allergic reactions can also be caused by skin contact with latex, cockroachs and dust mites, and even some foods. Skin allergies are the main allergy for about 7% of allergy sufferers.
Food & Drug Allergies
While we hear a lot about food and drug allergies, they’re the primary allergy of only about 6% of allergy sufferers. Food allergies are more common in children. Peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs, wheat, soy, fish and shellfish are responsible for 90% of all food allergies. Food allergies claim over 200 lives yearly.
When it comes to common drug allergies, penicillin is the winner. Almost 400 Americans die every year from allergies to penicillin.
Some people have allergies in a single category and others suffer from allergies in multiple categories. If you are an allergy sufferer, discuss your triggers and symptoms with your chiropractor. Some types of allergies respond remarkably well to chiropractic care.