Poor Posture Creates Body Pain

Our lifestyles perpetuate poor posture—hours of driving, sitting at desks, and staring down at our tablets and phones. Chiropractors see this poor posture translate into pain and inflammation in the neck, mid-back, low back, shoulders and hips.

Look at yourself in the mirror. Do you have level shoulders? Is your head sticking out too far in front of your shoulders? Do you have a noticeable head tilt? These are examples of the postural imbalances that can create corresponding joint pain.

If these imbalances are not corrected, they can lead to advancing degenerative joint conditions. The joints will continue to wear-and-tear, causing long-term, permanent damage. Thankfully, Chiropractic can help restore joint alignment and range of motion, correcting postural imbalances and resulting in less pain—naturally.

Dr. Elliot Lysyk, DC

The Health Secret No One Talks About

You get your eyes, ears and teeth checked. You test your blood. You measure your height, weight, blood pressure, heart rate, vitamin B12 levels and body mass index. Your Fitbit device tracks all of your biometric data, from how many steps you take to the quality of your sleep. When it comes to monitoring your health, no stone goes unturned. Except one, and it’s a biggie: How many times do you get your posture, spine, or spinal alignment checked?

After all, whether you realize it or not, you have endured countless physical trials in your lifetime. You experienced the trauma of being born, and you’ve fallen from couches, trees and monkey bars. You’ve had stitches, sports injuries, broken limbs, and car accidents. Not to mention the fact that you’ve clocked about a million hours hunched over your computers, tablets and cell phones, with your head cranked forward and downwards in a less-than-ideal position.

And maybe now you find yourself noticing various health symptoms–aches and pains, headaches, low-back strain, digestive issues. You find you get sick a lot and generally feel unwell. Yet it has never occurred to you to check the very circuit board that runs literally everything in your body—your spine and nervous system. What if the nerves in your spine are under so much stress from poor alignment that they’re expressing the symptoms of ill health?

How healthy is your spine? How healthy is your child’s spine? Maybe it’s time to find out today. Because Chiropractors know a health secret that no one talks about: Great alignment = Improved health performance!

Are you ready to turn the power back on?

Written by Dr. Elliot Lysyk

Chief Public Health Officer Supports Chiropractic

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I recently watched an interview on The National with Dr. Gregory Taylor, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer. Dr. Taylor was addressing the opioid crisis in Canada. The large number of recent deaths associated with opioid overdoses is bringing critical awareness to the addictive nature of these drugs.

Although Fentanyl is the culprit for many of these overdose deaths, this crisis highlights the addictive nature of commonly prescribed opioid drugs such as Demerol, Percocet, Hydromorphone, Hydrocodone, Vicodin, and Codeine, and how these prescriptions may create a slippery slope toward addiction.

Opioid drugs are often prescribed to treat chronic pain, particularly spinal pain and lower back pain. Dr. Taylor’s main message was this—instead of prescribing opioid drugs for pain conditions, maybe it’s time to consider less addictive treatments like chiropractic, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, and cognitive behavioral therapy. He outlined that there is considerable research showing that Chiropractic is a safe and effective way to treat low back pain, and that he himself has experienced personal success with chiropractic care.

Chiropractors play a strong role in offering treatment for low back and spinal pain that can prevent patients from being prescribed opioids in the first place, thereby helping them avoid the downward spiral that can result once they become addicted to these drugs.

We chiropractors witness the healing benefits of chiropractic every day in practice, and I am happy to see a health minister acknowledging the tremendous evidence in existence proving that chiropractic care is an effective solution to spinal pain.

Dr. Elliot Lysyk, DC

Why Is There A Flu Season?

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Everyone has heard of flu season. It usually starts mid-fall and continues on until early spring. Yet the flu virus is around all year, so why do we have a “flu season”?

Our bodies become susceptible to diseases and illnesses for a number of reasons at this time of year due to:

  1. Lack of sunlight ~ Very appropriate for us Canadians. We don’t get enough Vitamin D through “flu season,” making us susceptible to getting sick. This condition is easily remedied by supplementing with a good Vitamin D capsule.
  2. Decreased activity ~ This one should not happen. With the availability of snowshoes, skating ponds, ski hills, gyms…we can maintain our activity levels all the way through winter. In fact, it’s good for our bodies to mix up our recreational sports and give our joints a rest from summer sports like golf or soccer.
  3. Dehydration ~ A lot more hot coffee, tea, or hot chocolate is consumed at this time of year, and the caffeine can dehydrate us. In Canada we have dry, cold winters that require as much water consumption in the winter as in the summer, and even more if we are dehydrated from those hot drinks.
  4. Poor dietary choices ~ We go from pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving to Halloween treats to Christmas and New Year’s treats. Lots and lots of sugar. This is another key issue, as good nutrition fuels a heathy immune system.
  5. Stress ~ This time of year can create extra stress. From physical stress due to raking leaves or shovelling snow, to the emotional stress of coping with family over the holidays, stress drains the immune system. This is where chiropractic care can be key in helping us cope with the flu season. Removing the stress from the body through adjustments and soft-tissue work, we make the body stronger and better able to function.

In summary, the flu is here year-round, but we can help fight it during “flu season” by taking Vitamin D, keeping up our recreational activities, staying hydrated, eating healthily, and removing physical stress from the body through treatments like chiropractic care. If chiropractic care is the missing piece of the puzzle, please give our office a call to see if we can help.

Written by Dr. James Mayne, DC

Always Tired?

When I hit 37, it was like I hit a wall—even my lifelong enthusiastic spirit couldn’t push me through moments of fatigue when I was running uphill or riding my mountain bike. Suddenly it felt much more difficult to get the same job done. Was I pushing myself too hard? Had my metabolism shifted? Or had I simply hit that age everyone warned me about, when you just start feeling tired?

After speaking with thousands of patients over the years, I’ve learned that I’m not alone. The middle years pile up with physical and emotional stress—endless responsibilities, demands from our kids, body aches and pains, layer-upon-layer of small worries about pretty much everything, and the heavy heart that comes from an increasingly dystopian world. Just watch the news for a few minutes and your mind will start spinning with thoughts of environmental collapse, terrorism, genetically modified everything, political disarray, and so on. No wonder we start to feel tired!

However, in my 13 years of clinical practice, I’ve come across some gems of wisdom that have helped me stay strong and vital despite the stresses that can come from daily living.

  • Make sure your posture is as balanced as possible. Muscles working against an imbalanced spine can sap energy and tire your body. Try bending forward when you walk and see how long you last. Most of us possess up to eight postural imbalances like un-level shoulders, twisted hips, forward-head posture and “tech neck.” Get a Chiropractic spinal check-up and regular adjustments to ensure that your body is balanced and firing optimally.
  • Focus on a plant-based, whole-food diet. Now I imagine I won’t convert you into being a plant-based vegetarian just by mentioning this, but at least we all can work toward reducing the low-quality processed foods that populate our diets. List the processed food you eat in a given day—it’s probably way more than you think! (Canned spaghetti sauce is processed by the way). Try a 7-day processed food fast and see how you feel after that week.
  • This has nothing to do with religion. Mediation is a way of understanding how our minds are constantly creating thoughts that cause low and anxious emotional states. Pay attention to the silent conversation you have with yourself each day. Likely it’s pretty negative. Now imagine long stretches of time during which that voice is not chattering. Meditation helps us end suffering by teaching us how to detach from our thoughts and creating greater space and openness in our minds.

There you have it—three effective ways to help overcome stress and tiredness by nurturing your physical self, your chemical/nutritional self, and your mental/emotional self. It’s time to take care of YOU.

Dr. Elliot Lysyk, DC

Why Do Some Chiropractors Take X-Rays?

Chiropractors pride themselves on the ability to feel, or palpate, disturbances in the motion and alignment of spinal joints. We perform postural evaluations to understand the imbalances in a patient’s skeletal and muscular frame. We may ask a patient to stand on two scales, one under each foot, to detect pressure differences in the hips and legs created by postural imbalances.  We do muscle and reflex testing to see how well the nerves are talking to the muscles and relaying messages back to the brain. There are many different tests that a Chiropractor can perform to help understand clinical aspects of their patients. And taking x-rays allows a Doctor of Chiropractic to understand even more about a patient. When required, they are by far the most helpful way to complete this clinical understanding. 

Chiropractors take x-rays with the patient standing up, so that we can interpret gravitational alignment. Since x-rays are essentially shadow projections of the spine, standing x-rays reveal imbalances caused when the spine is “loaded” under gravity. Lying versus standing pictures of the same patient will often look entirely different! Medical x-rays are generally taken with the patient lying down, because alignment information is not seen as front-and-centre to their analysis. But I always treat a patient using standing x-rays, because it is standing or dynamic alignment that I am most interested in improving.

In addition, spinal pictures allow us to:

  • see how much degeneration exists in and around spinal joints
  • visualize issues a patient may have been born with, like vertebrae that are fused together
  • understand any curvatures of the spine
  • understand bone density and many other factors deemed clinically important

To see is to know.  Not to see is to guess. And when it comes to a patient’s health, I would rather not guess if given the choice. Pictures can tell us WHAT is going on, and armed with this knowledge, we can be clearer about HOW we are going to help.

Written by Dr. Elliot Lysyk, DC

How Chiropractic Helps Heartburn

Heartburn, or acid reflux, is an issue that many of my patients experience alongside their primary complaint. It can either be an occasional annoying side effect following a spicy meal, or it can become a chronic, debilitating problem.

In some circles it is thought that stomach bacteria cause ulcers and heartburn, for which antibiotics can be prescribed. One problem with this line of reasoning is that many ulcer/heartburn sufferers don’t actually have helicobacter pylori infections, and at least 50% of people have this type of bacteria in their guts without any stomach symptoms whatsoever.

Another explanation for heartburn is that the stomach lining is producing too much acid, for which hydrogen-blocking drugs are prescribed. This approach can have problematic side effects, because overly lowering stomach acids can lead to the poor absorption of calcium and proteins, among other unhealthy side effects. Antacids also buffer the acid, offering temporary relief, but this can also lead to poor dietary absorption over time.

As a Chiropractor I always strive to understand the underlying cause. Why would the brain tell the stomach lining to produce too much acid? The brain’s communication system with organs is meant to offer a state of balance, or homeostasis, governed by an innate intelligence that brings harmony to the whole body. Why would this intelligence suddenly break down when determining sufficient acid production? Using drugs and antacids to manipulate your body’s acid balance just doesn’t feel like a good long-term strategy. Also, it would be difficult to establish how many drugs would be required to create optimal acid levels for each individual.

Chiropractic is an option to consider when it comes to relieving heartburn symptoms. The basic thought is this: Between every vertebra in your spine, a nerve courses its way through, supplying the body’s organs, tissues and cells. At the top of your stomach there is a muscle that keeps acid from erupting into your esophagus. The nerve supplying this muscle arrives from the seventh vertebra in the mid-back. If this nerve is being pinched or strained in the spine, the sphincter muscle can weaken, allowing acid into the delicate esophagus and causing reflux or heartburn.

My treatment plan is to begin improving spinal alignment throughout the spine, especially in the thoracic region, which generally improves reflux symptoms. I also offer nutritional recommendations that can drastically improve stomach and digestive health. Certain foods should be avoided, and I like to recommend probiotics so that the patient’s digestive system is loaded with good, healthy bacteria.

In certain cases, a deeper investigation may be required. A scope can help examine the level of ulceration deep in the esophagus, determine if there is a hernia, or rule out other sinister causes. However, in many cases, a trip to your Chiropractor may be all you need to address and improve your heartburn symptoms.

Dr. Elliot Lysyk, DC

How Chiropractic Helps Sciatica

The sciatic nerve runs from the spine down your leg, stemming from 5 vertebral levels in your low back. This nerve can become pinched in a variety of ways, causing pain to shoot through the buttock and down the leg. Many people also experience low-back pain alongside their sciatic pain.

A thorough Chiropractic exam can reveal where the nerve is being pinched. If the pain has become chronic, or relapses several times, I like to take a standing x-ray of the low back to examine the tiny spaces between the vertebrae where the nerves exit from the spine. Spinal misalignments are a main cause of sciatic pain. Understanding and treating these imbalances can successfully relieve this condition.

Once the pain resolves, I like to teach patients home care exercises, such as core stability, so that the chance of it returning drops substantially. As an added bonus, improving low-back alignment helps more than just back pain and sciatica. It’s common for patients to comment on improved digestion and leg strength, which are also controlled by the nerves in the low back.

Written by Dr. Elliot Lysyk, DC

Chiropractic: Relief, Repair, Restore

For over 100 years, the art of moving the spinal bones into their natural alignment has been the chiropractor’s underlying goal. For relief of back pain and discomfort, not many healing therapies work as effectively or are as long-lasting.

Our body is a highly organized collection of moving joints, muscles, soft tissue, organs, and much more. The spine is unique in that it serves as the entrance and exit point of most of the nerves in our body, so it is no wonder why a misalignment of the spine can impact both the well-being of our back and other areas of our body.

The beauty of the human body is its capacity to heal itself; however, the quality of the repair is often overlooked. Will the pain go away in a few days? Or maybe a year or two goes by and you have another pain episode. But this time it is taking longer than it should to go away, leaving you feeling less than optimal. Chiropractors are spine experts! We see patients with back and neck pain who want just relief. We also see patients who understand that proper repair and restoration may take longer, but with more satisfying results. We also see patients who come in for maintenance check-ups as a preventative part of their health care. We can tailor our care to work within your needs. Ultimately, we want you to live your life pain-free and to your fullest potential.

Written by Dr. Deane Studer, DC

New Research Connects Breathing & Postural Sway

Posture is an intricate and coordinated balancing act that is infinitely monitored, adjusted, and modified every second you are standing.  Standing up-right with balance also requires neurological information from visual, vestibular, and proprioceptive input.  This information is sent to the brain, the master computer, that interprets all this information.  The central nervous system calculates where we are in space and what must be done in order to maintain it.

Recent studies have demonstrated that postural sway can determine how your balance and strength relates to your ability to breath.  When your eyes are closed people tend to sway forwards-backwards when brain function is impaired due to brain damage as in the case of stoke patients, researchers observed.

Chiropractic adjustments corrects faulty or sensori-motor errors being fed into the your brain’s computer.  Therapeutically, chiropractic can improve or enhance the bodies perception of being aligned – head-torso-pelvis-feet vertically balanced.

Manor, B. D., Hu, K., Peng, C. K., Lipsitz, L. A., & Novak, V. (2012). Posturo-respiratory synchronization: Effects of aging and stroke. Gait & Posture, 36(2), 254-9. doi:10.1016/j.gaitpost.2012.03.002. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22475726

Written by Dr. Deane Studer, DC