The Progression of Low Back Pain

Approximately 70% of the people that come in to the clinic complain of low back pain. Low back pain can take many forms, but, in general, long-standing low back pain follows a typical plot line.

I will often hear from a patient that their low back has been bothering them, on and off, for years. It bothers them after gardening, shovelling the driveway, sports, or a similar physical activity. They will report that it is happening more frequently and lasting longer.

Now, this explanation may seem self-evident, but please allow me to explain the situation as we chiropractors see it.

The reason the low back hurts following activity is because the back is not functioning properly. There are 5 lumbar vertebrae and 2 sacro-iliac (SI) joints that must move in harmony for optimal low back movement.

The initial trauma to the back/pelvis usually starts in childhood. Anyone who has children has seen them fall off the monkey bars, wipe out on a bike, or fall on their backside skating. These little accidents initially sprain the back and pelvis and affect its movement pattern. Next we add a lifetime of ski wipeouts, car accidents, icy parking lot slips, and we get a back and pelvis with repeated small-scale trauma.

Then we sit. We sit at work, in the car; we sit to eat and watch TV. This sitting loads up the back and tightens the hip, leg and back muscles.

Now, instead of vertebrae and SI joints working in harmony when we are active, one or two of the joints do most of the movement and get sore. As the years add up, these overworked joints can become worn and arthritic. The situation builds over time. The problem becomes chronic and then even small activities can strain the back, until finally we are frustrated enough to do something about it.

This is the role of chiropractic care. We assess the level of damage to the low back, and depending on the severity of the situation, come up with a plan to get the lumbar spine and SI joints moving again in harmony. This will reduce pain, but, just as importantly, allow the low back to tolerate activity again, giving us another hike, another day skiing, another day in the garden. We have seen that the more a body moves, the longer it lasts and the more enjoyment we can get out of life.

Like I said, this is a long-term build-up, but the sooner we tackle the problem the better chance we have of making a difference. If this sounds familiar, please come in and have a physical exam and assessment. We would love to help you become more active.

Written by Dr. James Mayne, DC

What Posture Says about Your Health

Your posture is literally how you balance your head over your shoulders over the pelvis,

down through the knees and your ankles. How strong your posture is will determine

how well you age in your body. Through a series of linkages, or bones, aligned with

evolutionary precision to optimize motion, we have achieved an upright posture.

On planet Earth, we stand, sit, and move within a gravitational matrix. One G-force is

easily appreciated when trying to jump away from our planet. Our posture constantly

copes with this never-ending force, struggling to stay upright, and our neuromuscular

system constantly maintains our orientation at the same time. Therefore, posture is

dynamic and adaptive while maintaining 4 zones of bones in balance.

Balancing these 4 blocks is best achieved when all 4 blocks are evenly placed on top of the other. Postural assessments are designed to locate imbalances in these 4 zones: head, torso, pelvis, and legs. When all 4 areas are stacked and well-balanced we have achieved stability. By evaluating these 4 posture zones we can see compensations, dysfunctional patterns and adaptational changes which can lead to chronic joint pain syndromes.

 The poor alignment of bones weakens our posture and creates wear-and-tear or mechanical stress to our joints. Over time, the body can grow old and weak with aches and chronic joint pain, resulting in joint degeneration (osteoarthritis). Strengthening posture with professional posture-focused chiropractic care reduces bio-mechanical stress and helps prevent numerous physical ailments.

Chiropractic & Aging Well

“If you didn’t know how old you are, how old would you be?”

 — Satchel Paige

 Chiropractic can mean different things to different people, but one fact is clear—maintaining a healthy spine is vital to optimal health and aging well.

 Our inner architecture, or spinal column, is the framework or scaffolding that keeps us upright to guide our movements.  It also protects the delicate spinal cord and brain stem as electrochemical messages relay information from our brain to our body numerous times within a second. The 24 vertebrae are designed as an internal structural support system that can adapt to conditions of stress and strain year after year.

 Imbalances from old injuries, accidents and poor posture affect the control of our movements and weaken our ability to function. Over time, signs and symptoms slowly begin to appear, indicating malfunction through pain, muscle spasms and motion impairment. It is important to understand that your choice of action now will determine your future.

As a chiropractor, my goal is to help people understand our body’s powerful capacity to repair and heal. No matter your age, background, or condition, chiropractic care meets you wherever you are and keeps pace with you. Your physical capacity will naturally increase as your spine gets stronger through balance, alignment, and motion.

 It’s never too late to start…


Cucumbers Fly Better than Bricks

When it comes to optimal function, shape is the name of the game. For example, we all know that if something is aerodynamic, it has less resistance, resulting in greater speed and efficiency. Can you imagine a jet plane shaped like a Hummer?

Your spine operates the same way. It requires specific curves in order for your brain and spinal cord to communicate properly with your body. These curves allow your spine to bend and flex, and to handle the compression of gravity effectively. The loss of your spine’s “aerodynamics” turns you from the cucumber into the brick! You can no longer move freely, and the resulting symptoms can range from occasional stiffness and twinges to the more debilitating pain that affects your quality of life and your ability to work. Chiropractors can help keep your spinal curves aligned. Living in the Okanagan gives us an unparalleled four-season lifestyle—don’t spend another moment being a brick and missing out on what you enjoy. Come see if we can help!

Written by Dr. Tara Spearman, DC
Arise Chiropractic
7-100 Kal Lake Rd.

Babies & Chiropractic Care


With the birth of George Alexander Louis, the future King of England, millions of people all over the world became obsessed with all things baby. Everyone debated whether or not the Duchess was pregnant, followed her through the pregnancy sickness, and wondered when she was due, whether it would be a boy or a girl, and, of course, what they would name their firstborn. I must pause and smile because although they are royalty, those are the same questions that all to-be parents face. We all just want a healthy baby with ten fingers and ten toes!

The history of childbearing is painful and bizarre, filled with both tradition and superstition. Many of the strange customs surrounding childbirth were due to the high mortality rate for both mother and child, so people would do anything to help guarantee a safe delivery. Often while preparing and making arrangements for the birth of a baby, mothers would simultaneously make arrangements for funerals if needed.

Historically, in England, all tapestries depicting animals or mythological creatures were removed during childbirth. It was believed that by looking upon these images, the mother’s mind would be affected in an evil way, harming the baby. Generally the only decoration permitted was a cross. Further back in medieval times, women were encouraged to labor and deliver in a sitting position, which makes perfect sense. However, if after about 20 contractions the baby was not born, a vast array of symbolic gestures were performed to help open the womb. These included untying knots, opening closets, drawers and chests lids, and even shooting arrows in the air (hopefully outside). Also, a knife was commonly placed under the mattress of a woman in labor, as it was thought to ease her labor pains.

Should mother and child have survived the ordeal, there were many beliefs to encourage health and good luck for the baby. When first seeing a baby, it was considered lucky to place a silver coin in its hand, as silver was a symbol of prosperity that was thought to have protective properties for warding off evil spirits. However, the baby’s hand could not be washed, as that would also wash away the good fortune. Also, to protect a baby against colic, the mother had to carry the baby around the house three times.

I am quite certain that in the Duchess’ private room in the Lindo wing, there were no tapestries removed or knives placed under her bed. I also feel quite confident that the closet doors and drawers remained closed. But while we now look back and shake our heads at those old superstitions, thinking “how ridiculous,” they made sense at the time.

In our current time of “modern medicine,” there have been some changes, although the fear and pain—as well as the excitement and joy—remain the same. Families now have more choices and the freedom to explore their own beliefs as to what is most helpful to the mother and child.

For example, chiropractic care for an expecting mother can be extremely important, helping to reduce pain and fatigue during her pregnancy. Aligning the pelvis helps keep the birth canal open, giving the baby as much space as possible for an easier delivery.

While childbirth is exhausting and potentially traumatic to the mother, it can be so for the baby as well. Stress is placed on the nervous system in a normal vaginal delivery, but when there are complications that require pulling on the baby, using forceps, or even Caesarian section, there is a tremendous amount of force placed on the baby—up to 70lbs! This can create significant stress on a newborn’s nervous system, which controls everything that happens in their body.

Without using words, babies can give us a tremendous amount of information about these stresses.  Of course we love the happy cooing, giggling, toothless grins and drooling. But what does it mean when they cry? Is it colic? Chiropractic care has been shown to be very helpful for babies suffering from colic, preventing the need to do laps around the house! Ear infections may correlate with misalignments in the upper neck, while digestive problems may indicate spinal problems in the mid or lower back. If the baby doesn’t like to feed on both sides, it may be because they can’t tell you it hurts to turn their head to one side. Surely there isn’t a hot and cold side or a chocolate and vanilla side! Not liking certain positions, such as the car seat or tummy time, can also be due to spinal misalignment. We see many families and children in our office who have had wonderful results with Chiropractic care. I encourage all families to bring their babies and children in for a check-up!

Written by Dr. Tara Spearman
Arise Chiropractic
7-100 Kalamalka Lake Rd

Is It Finally Time?

Many of us deal with headaches after a long day at work. Others can experience neck pain and/or hand numbness after sitting at the computer for too long. Or maybe you develop a sore back after home renovations or yard work?

These problems usually start off infrequently and only bother us a little. But as time goes by, these aches and pains occur more often and take longer to go away. We keep telling ourselves, “Next time I will do something about this, for sure I will.” Yet weeks, months and years can go by while things slowly get worse. 

I was lucky enough to visit a chiropractor early in my adult life. I wish it had happened sooner, but I was still young enough to have my back strengthen and heal. Now that I am a chiropractor myself, I love helping people when they are young and can heal quickly. Unfortunately, most people wait until they are in their 50’s and 60’s to take care of their spines, and what was once a minor discomfort has become severe pain that interferes with their sports and recreational activities. Once they begin the journey toward healing their spine, I often hear: “Why didn’t I do this sooner?”

I can’t answer that question for them; all I can say is that the sooner someone comes in, the better chance we have of making a great change!

Written by Dr. James Mayne, DC
Arise Chiropractic
7-100 Kalamalka Lake Rd., Vernon

Minor Car Accidents & Your Spine

We all know that serious car accidents can cause severe injuries. But minor car accidents can also cause damage to our bodies, especially if we are sitting in a compromised position, like with the neck or back twisted to the side. 

These less severe injuries often leave us with irritating, lingering problems like headaches, neck aches, uncomfortable sleep, and backs that can become sore with high activity. These issues may not appear for weeks or months after the car accident.

To identify whether headaches, neck or back pain, or poor sleep may have been caused by a previous motor vehicle accident, a full chiropractic exam is required. Visit your chiropractor today to see if we can help!

Dr. James Mayne, DC
Arise Chiropractic
7-100 Kalamalka Lake Rd.

The Cost of Low Back Pain

A quick review from Statistics Canada shows that 4 out of 5 Canadians will be afflicted with low back pain at some point in their lives. Many of these people will develop chronic, long-lasting pain that will directly affect their lives.

The cost of this burden to Canadian society is estimated to be in the billions (yes—with a “b”) of dollars. This is seen in costly medical expenses, prescription drugs, and loss of income. For many of us, even more costly than the loss of income is the loss of time doing what we love. You can’t put a price on the ability to fully enjoy a vacation, play your favorite sports, or even have a full night’s sleep.

Chiropractic care has been shown to help with back pain. If you have back pain, let us help you before it ends up costing you your valuable free time.

Written by Dr. James Mayne, DC
Arise Chiropractic
7-100 Kalamalka Lake Rd., Vernon


Active Okanagan: Why a chiropractor in Vernon?

I chose to be a Chiropractor in Vernon largely because of its amazing lifestyle, a lifestyle that attracts people from all walks of life: young families with kids, retirees, athletes, and regular people trying to make a living while enjoying life to the fullest. As a Vernon Chiropractor, this translates into a wide range of health conditions that I can help people overcome.

ID-100138179Many Vernon folks are quite active. They head to Silverstar or Sovereign for downhill and cross-country skiing. They rock-climb, hike, cycle and cliff-dive in Kalamalka Provincial Park. They hit Kal Beach or Kin Beach for swimming, boating and water sports. In Vernon’s great outdoors they reconnect to nature—back-country backpacking, camping, or zipping around on ATVs, snowmobiles and dirt bikes. And Vernon’s adrenaline junkies might find themselves parasailing, paragliding and sky-diving, or enjoying Canada’s best hang-gliding conditions right next door in Lumby. Everywhere you turn, there are activities and pleasures to be enjoyed.

I, too, am drawn to many of these activities, but I’m the first to admit that they can cause stress and injury on the nerve system. As a Chiropractic Doctor, my job is to help my patients’ bodies and spines withstand life’s common stresses and injuries so they can enjoy Vernon’s luxuries as much as possible.  Chiropractic care, massage therapy, spinal decompression therapy, acupuncture, counselling, physiotherapy, reiki, aromatherapy, a weight loss center, and a beautiful yoga studio are all available to help catapult your health, healing, and athletic performance to new heights!

I have built an extensive wellness centre, with many health practitioners and therapies, to help my adventurous community be at its best and make the most of this lifestyle. I feel that this is what life is all about!

Dr. Elliot Lysyk, DC

“Uncomplicated” Low Back Pain?

“Uncomplicated” low back pain is a medical diagnosis for the presence of low back pain, without pain radiating into the leg (no nerve deficits). Unfortunately, this diagnosis doesn’t really tell the patient anything other than that they have low back pain, which, I’m pretty certain, they already know!

“Uncomplicated” low back pain is usually treated with anti-inflammatory or pain-killing medication, in hopes that the pain can be masked long enough for it to somehow subside on its own. The term may mislead some patients into thinking that it’s no big deal. Yet it’s been estimated that one out of three people will develop osteoarthritis in their spine that will end up causing disability. Largely, this disabling arthritis is the end result of a wear-and-tear process related to the spinal imbalance that is initially felt in earlier years as “uncomplicated” back pain. The truth is that there is nothing “uncomplicated” about finding the cause of the spinal irritation.

When the spine becomes painful, it’s usually indicative of an underlying problem. Chronic low back pain later in life usually begins as minor episodes of low back pain earlier in life. The more it is brushed under the carpet with medication, the more damage is done over time, increasing the likelihood of future “complicated” pain that can become chronic.

Chiropractors are experts with joint and spine health.  We are trained to find postural imbalances caused by tiny spinal misalignments that irritate nerves and cause pain.  Maybe we can help?

Written by Dr. Elliot Lysyk, DC
Arise Chiropractic
7-100 Kal Lake Rd.