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Brown Bag Lunch Lessons for Parents

It’s a fact—school lunches are getting healthier. New nutritional standards for school lunches are raising the bar and more Americans are seeing the difference. A national poll by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation recently found that:

  • 86% of Americans support the nutritional standards required by the law.
  • Two-thirds of Americans say the nutritional quality of food served in public school cafeterias is excellent or good, which is up from 26% when a similar poll was conducted in 2010, prior to new standards being adopted.

Hopefully, the days of serving unappetizing, poor quality food with too much fat, sugar and salt in school cafeterias are largely behind us. However, this is NOT to say that parents can’t do an even better job themselves by sending their kids to school with even healthier alternatives. But (of course) this raises a couple of practical questions. What should we actually pack in their lunch boxes? And how do we get them to eat it?

Is school lunch really worth the bother?

We think the short answer is yes. So do the vast majority of Americans. The same W.K. Kellogg Foundation survey mentioned earlier found that 93% of those surveyed believe that it is very important or somewhat important to serve nutritious foods in schools to support children’s health and capacity to learn. Numerous studies have shown that kids who eat nutritionally balanced lunches do better in class and miss fewer days of school because of illness. Balanced lunches that include foods from each of the major food groups help kids keep their energy levels up during the long school day and prevent sluggishness and afternoon “drop outs” due to low blood sugar.

Fortunately, there are dozens of websites on the Internet that serve up tasty and nutritional school lunch ideas for kids of various ages. All you need to do is to search in your favorite browser for “healthy school lunch ideas” and you’ll have hundreds of new choices at your fingertips. Here are a few general ideas just to get you started:

  • Try to include at least three of the four major food groups—grains and breads, meats, milk and dairy, and fruits and vegetables—in each meal. A balance of carbohydrates, protein, fats and other nutrients will help your student perform at his or her best at school and provide a strong nutritional foundation.
  • Consider alternatives to the same (to kids) boring old sandwiches. Try using bagels, pita bread, sourdough rolls, or prepare “roll ups” using flour or corn tortillas. Instead of processed meats and cheese slices, use cookie cutters to cut up healthier meats and cheeses that you prepare yourself at home. Offering a variety of interesting flavors, shapes and sizes is one key to getting your kids to actually eat what you pack for them.
  • Encourage your kids to be part of the lunch-planning and lunch-preparation process. This provides a great hands-on opportunity for you to teach them more about nutrition. Plus, they’ll be more likely to eat and enjoy lunches that they helped to choose or prepare.
  • If your kids are prone to snacking, include healthy snacks like dried fruits and nuts. Instead of pre-packaged crackers and cheese, consider making your own, using healthier whole-grain crackers and real cheeses.
  • Consider creating a “dipping lunch” with ingredients that are all bite-sized and can be dipped in a sauce or two. You can package up the various ingredients in inexpensive plastic containers. For example, you can combine carrot and celery sticks with a ranch dressing dip or strips of chicken with a tasty honey-mustard sauce. Cottage cheese, yogurt, guacamole, or hummus can also be healthy dips.
  • Soups and stews also make great sandwich alternatives. All it takes is a good thermos and a spoon.

These are just a few ideas for “spicing up” your children’s school lunches. Use them as a starting point for building your own menu. Work with your kids to find the things they like best, and chances are they’ll eat them AND enjoy them!

Physical Education Under Pressure: A Note to Parents

Chiropractor in Burke, VAAt many schools, a renewed focus on “back-to-basics” academic performance and recession-era budget cuts have curtailed recess, physical education and athletics (both intramural and competitive) over the past few years. While there’s no doubt that school districts are being forced to make some very tough choices, it’s also very clear that high rates of childhood obesity and chronic health conditions among young people make physical education a cornerstone priority.

Why We Need PhysEd Now More Than Ever

Studies have shown that children who get sufficient amounts of regular physical activity each day are not only less likely to become obese, but show better attention and concentration in the classroom, behave better, and score higher on tests. However, the sedentary lifestyle of many adults has now trickled down to our kids, who are by and large less likely to be physically active at home than prior generations were. Not surprisingly, this is affecting their overall level of fitness. The effect becomes more pronounced as children get older and really comes into focus when they reach high school. A recent story that appeared on the U.S. News and World Report Health website (“U.S. Teens’ Cardiorespiratory Fitness Has Dropped in Last Decade: Report”) noted that “The overall percentage of fit teens went from 52.4 percent in 1999 to 42.2 percent in 2012, according to the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics, part of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”

The report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention paints a grim picture. Perhaps the most telling statistics are the ones that highlight just how little physical activity most children get by the time they become teenagers. Here’s the situation by the numbers…

About Participation in Physical Activity by Young People:

  • “In a nationally representative survey, 77% of children aged 9–13 years reported participating in free-time physical activity during the previous 7 days.”
  • “In 2013, only 29% percent of high school students had participated in at least 60 minutes per day of physical activity on each of the 7 days before the survey.”
  • “15.2% percent of high school students had not participated in 60 or more minutes of any kind of physical activity on any day during the 7 days before the survey.”
  • “Participation in physical activity declines as young people age.”

About Participation in Physical Education Classes:

  • “In 2013, less than half (48%) of high school students (64% of 9th-grade students but only 35% of 12th-grade students) attended physical education classes in an average week.”
  • “The percentage of high school students who attended physical education classes daily decreased from 42% in 1991 to 25% in 1995 and remained stable at that level until 2013 (29%).”
  • “In 2013, 42% of 9th-grade students but only 20% of 12th-grade students attended physical education class daily.”

It’s also worth mentioning that there’s a very large gender gap in high school when it comes to both physical activity and participation in physical education classes:

  • In 2013, boys were more than twice as likely (36.6%) to be physically active for at least 60 minutes per day than girls (17.7%).
  • In 2013, boys were significantly more likely (34.9%) to attend daily physical education classes than girls (24.0%).

What Should Parents Expect From a PhysEd Curriculum?

As important as physical education is for a child’s development, the federal government has set no binding physical education curriculum standards and does not mandate the amount of time children must spend in physical activity. The government leaves it up to individual states and local school districts to decide on an appropriate physical education curriculum. Needless to say, this leads to a patchwork of approaches, some of which are naturally more effective than others.

The government suggests that children get at least 60 minutes of physical exercise each day to maintain optimal health and establish good exercise habits that will hopefully continue throughout adulthood. However, only 74.5% of states require physical education in school from elementary school through high school. In addition, 28 states allow physical education exemptions and waivers, and schools are required to allot a specific amount of time for physical activity in only 22 states. Only New Jersey, Louisiana and Florida mandate the suggested minimum of 150 minutes per week of physical education in elementary school. And for high schools, only West Virginia, Utah and Montana mandate the recommended minimum of 225 minutes per week of physical education.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stresses the importance of children having access to high-quality physical education. The national standards can be found in the book by the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE), Moving Into the Future: National Standards for Physical Education. NASPE suggests that a basic physical education curriculum should incorporate the following 6 standards:

Standard 1: Demonstrates competency in motor skills and movement patterns needed to perform a variety of physical activities.

Standard 2: Demonstrates understanding of movement concepts, principles, strategies, and tactics as they apply to the learning and performance of physical activities.

Standard 3: Participates regularly in physical activity.

Standard 4: Achieves and maintains a health-enhancing level of physical fitness.

Standard 5: Exhibits responsible personal and social behavior that respects self and others in physical activity settings.

Standard 6: Values physical activity for health, enjoyment, challenge, self-expression, and/or social interaction.

What Parents Can Do

If you have school-age children (especially in middle school or high school), it’s important to understand the physical education curriculum and to encourage them to participate actively. This is particularly true if they aren’t involved in athletics or other physically demanding activities at home. Paying attention to the grade they receive in physical education classes and getting meaningful feedback from their physical education teacher can help you learn how your children view physical activity and whether they are developing attitudes and habits that will serve them well over their lifetime.

Back-to-School Backpack Basics

Chiropractor in Burke, VAAmerican kids are suffering from back pain and neck pain earlier in their lives and in larger numbers than ever before. And if you’re a parent of school-age children, it’s important for you to know that overweight, improperly designed, and misused backpacks may be one of the big reasons for this growing problem.

This isn’t really news. The truth is that healthcare researchers and practitioners around the world have recognized the issue for a long time and have continued to call attention to it. The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons recommends that a backpack should not be any heavier than 15% of a child’s body weight, but:

  • In 1999, researchers in Italy reported that about 35% of Italian schoolchildren carried more than 30% of their body weight at least once a week—actually exceeding the limits recommended for adults. The average sixth grader’s backpack was the equivalent of a 39-pound burden for a 176-pound man or a 29-pound burden for a 132-pound woman. And of those children carrying heavy backpacks to school, 60% had experienced back pain as a result.
  • As early as 2001, researchers at Simmons College in Massachusetts found that 55% of the 345 children they studied were carrying backpacks that exceeded the recommended weight limit, often by a substantial amount. One third of those students said that they had already experienced back pain.
  • A 2012 study by researchers in Spain found that 61.4% of 1403 students between the ages of 12 and 17 carried backpacks that weighed more than 10% of their body weight and that those carrying the heaviest backpacks had a 50% higher risk of back pain.

More than Just a Short-Term Health Risk

With an estimated 40 million school-age children carrying backpacks in America, it’s not at all surprising that there are some book bag-related injuries every year. Since 2000, the U.S. Product Safety Commission has reported that children and their backpacks make roughly 7,000 trips to the emergency room annually. However, many observers believe that the real toll is actually far higher since the vast majority of such injuries go unreported and many kids are treated by a family doctor or not treated at all.

It’s not clear how many acute injuries actually result from wearing backpacks as opposed to tripping over them or being hit by them. However, doctors who treat back problems regularly—especially chiropractic physicians—see worrying signs that heavier backpacks are setting the stage for more serious health issues in the future, including chronic back, neck and shoulder pain. Some chiropractors estimate that as many as 75% to 80% of the teenage patients they treat have postural problems directly related to overweight backpacks. This is one reason why the American Chiropractic Association advises parents to limit the weight of a child’s backpack to no more than 5% to 10% of body weight.

What’s Behind the Heavier Backpacks?

In an age of online education and mobile devices, you might be tempted to think that kids’ backpacks would be getting lighter. Not so. Across the past ten years, several factors have come together to increase the amount of weight young students are carrying in their book bags:

  • Increases in the amount of homework being assigned to students at a younger age typically mean more heavy books carried between home and school.
  • A trend toward removing lockers and individual desks from schools in many cases requires kids to carry all their belongings with them during the day.
  • Reduced time between classes or fewer trips to the locker can mean heavier loads for students.
  • Longer school days or increased participation in before-school and after-school activities often translates into more supplies and equipment as well as more time wearing the backpack.A good quality backpack with proper ergonomic features doesn’t have to be expensive. They’re available at many sporting goods stores and discount outlets. Experts offer the following advice:

How to Choose the Right Backpack and Use it Correctly

  • Get the size and fit right first. The right backpack should fit between the top of your child’s shoulders and lower back. Bigger is not better, since having more space available creates the potential for a heavier backpack.
  • Find one with shoulder straps that are wide, padded and adjustable. These distribute the weight more broadly across the shoulders and chest while allowing the backpack to be fitted snuggly to your child’s body.
  • For older students, consider a backpack with chest straps and a hip belt. Chest straps and a hip belt redistribute weight even further and bring the pack closer to the wearer’s body.
  • Look for a padded back that will add comfort and protection.
  • Choose a backpack with multiple smaller compartments. These help distribute the weight inside the bag and keep it stable.

Once your child has the right bag, it’s just as important to encourage him or her to use it correctly. Chiropractors and physical therapists generally agree that means wearing it on both shoulders with the straps tightened so that it hangs no more than four inches below the waist.

Recognizing the Warning Signs

If you see any of the following signs, it may be time to lighten the load, help your child choose a different backpack or talk about how it’s being used.

  • Pain in the back, neck, shoulders or knees
  • Red marks left on shoulders by backpack straps
  • Tingling or numbness in the arms
  • Trouble getting the backpack on or off
  • Bending forward or “hunching over” to shift weight from the shoulders to the back

Asking Your Chiropractor for Help

Under normal circumstances, using a backpack shouldn’t cause any pain or discomfort. If your child is showing signs of back, neck or should pain, we encourage you to call or visit our office today. In addition to addressing any current problems that your child may be experiencing, your chiropractor in Burke, VA can recommend an exercise program designed to strengthen muscles, and improve posture and coordination.

Is Sitting BAD for My Back?

Chiropractor in Burke, VAA major manufacturer of workstations reports that 86% of work computer users have to sit all day, and when they do rise from sitting, more than half (56%) use food as the excuse to get up and move. In addition to sitting at work, for meals, and commuting to/from work, 36% sit another one to two hours watching TV, 10% sit one to two hours for gaming, 25% sit one to two hours for reading/lounging, and 29% use their home computer for one to two hours. In summary, the average American sits for thirteen hours a day and sleep for eight hours. That’s a total of 21 hours a day off their feet!

The manufacturer’s survey also notes 93% of work computer users don’t know what “Sitting Disease” is but 74% believe that sitting too much can lead to an early death. “Sitting Disease” represents the ill-effects of an overly sedentary lifestyle and includes conditions like “metabolic syndrome” (obesity and diabetes), which is rapidly becoming more prevalent, especially in the young – even in adolescence and teenagers! Recently, the American Medical Association (AMA) adopted a policy encouraging employers, employees, and others to sit less citing the many risks associated with sitting including (but not limited to): diabetes, cancer, obesity, and cardiovascular disease. Standing is SO MUCH BETTER as it burns more calories than sitting, tones muscles, improves posture, increases blood flow, reduces blood sugar, and improves metabolism. Standing is frequently overlooked as “an exercise” and it’s both simple and easy to do!

So, what about the low back and sitting? You guessed it – sitting is hard on the back! The pressure inside of our disks, those “shock absorbers” that lie between each vertebra in our spine (22 disks in total) is higher when we sit compared with simply standing or lying down. It’s estimated that when we lay down, the pressure on our disks is the lowest at 25mm. When lying on one side, it increases to 75mm, standing increases disk pressure to 100mm, and bending over from standing pushes disk pressure to 220mm. When we sit with good posture, our disk pressure may reach 140mm but that can increase to 190mm with poor posture. To help relieve the pressure on our disks, experts recommend: 1) Getting up periodically and standing; 2) Sitting back in your chair and avoiding slouched positions; 3) Placing a lumbar roll (about the size of your forearm) behind the low back and chair/car seat; and 4) Changing your position frequently when sitting.

Because certain low back conditions “favor” one position over another, these “rules” may need modification. For example, most herniated disk patients prefer low back extension while bending over or slouching hurts. In those with lumbar sprain/strains, bending forwards usually feels good and extension hurts. Modifying your position to the one that is most comfortable is perhaps the best advice.

We realize you have a choice in whom you consider for your health care provision and we sincerely appreciate your trust in choosing our service for those needs. If you, a friend, or family member requires care for back pain, give us a call at (703) 912-7822 or visit us at .

Not Just Back Doctors: Chiropractors and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Chiropractor in Burke, VAWhile doctors of chiropractic have a well-deserved reputation for helping patients overcome back problems, they are actually experts in diagnosing and treating a wide range of health conditions that affect the musculoskeletal and nervous systems. Many of these conditions involve the extremities—arms, legs, hands and feet—rather than the back, neck or hips. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is one example.

What causes CTS?

CTS affects about one in a thousand people each year, mostly women. It is essentially a mechanical problem caused by the median nerve being compressed as it runs through the carpal tunnel, a passageway made up of tendons, ligaments and bones that runs from the wrist to the hand.

In many cases, the precise cause of carpal tunnel syndrome isn’t clear. An injury to the wrist (sprains, strains or broken bones, for instance) may sometimes trigger CTS. So might strong vibrations from power tools or heavy machinery. Repetitive movements that place stress on this area of the body can also play a role. The tendons that control finger movement all run through the carpal tunnel, so when they become inflamed and swollen the amount of space is reduced, putting increased pressure on the median nerve.

Who’s most at risk?

Women. As mentioned earlier, women are at greater risk of CTS than men. There are a number of theories as to why women tend to suffer from CTS more frequently than men. One is that they have smaller wrist bones, and thus a smaller space through which tendons can pass. Another is that hormonal shifts may play a role, particularly during pregnancy and around menopause.

People with a genetic predisposition. Some people may have a genetic predisposition for CTS. Approximately one out of four people has a close family member who has also has the disorder.

Workers who perform repetitive, forceful movements that place localized stress on the wrist. Those who have jobs that involve repetitive movements of the arm are more likely to develop carpal tunnel syndrome. Assembly line workers, carpenters and violinists would all be in relatively high-risk occupations. But what about heavy computer users? Interestingly, although long-term computer use was previously thought to contribute to CTS, there is now conflicting information about the relationship between keyboarding and CTS. Some studies, such as one from 2007 published in the journal Arthritis and Rheumatism, have found that those who use a keyboard intensively at work actually have a significantly lower risk of developing CTS. It’s worth mentioning that some leisure activities can also contribute to the risk of CTS. Knitting, golfing and anything else that requires you to grip items in your hands for long periods of time could raise your risk.

Why chiropractic care?

CTS treatment has been evolving rapidly across the last few years, so it’s important to visit a healthcare provider who keeps current on the latest research and works with carpal tunnel patients on a regular basis. Among the most commonly recommended treatments for carpal tunnel syndrome are using a wrist splint, resting the wrist and taking pain relievers. Surgery is usually viewed as a last resort that should be considered only after more conservative treatment options have been exhausted.

Recent research has focused on the role of manual therapies—particularly specialized manipulation and mobilization techniques—as well as exercise in relieving pain and restoring range of motion. Chiropractic treatment for CTS (specifically soft tissue mobilization) has been shown to be both safe and effective compared to conventional non-surgical medical treatment, helping to improve nerve conduction latencies, wrist strength and mobility.

Chiropractors (and physical therapists) may also prescribe at-home strengthening and stretching exercises to help relieve pain and improve function in the affected hand and wrist. These approaches offer natural alternatives to sufferers who can’t tolerate common over-the-counter anti-inflammatories or painkillers, or who simply wish to avoid medication altogether.

When it comes to carpal tunnel syndrome, early diagnosis and treatment are the keys to success. The sooner this condition is addressed, the more non-invasive therapeutic choices exist for the patient. So if you suspect that you or someone you care about is suffering from CTS, please give us a call at (703) 912-7822 or visit us at Chiropractor in Burke, VA.

A Bicyclist’s Guide to Chiropractic Care

Chiropractor in Burke, VAThere’s no doubt about it—biking can take a real toll on the body, whether you’re a recreational or competitive cyclist. A burning sensation in the shoulders, numbness in the arms and hands, and tightness in the neck are just a few of the common “aches and pains” that many riders deal with. Not to mention frequent upper and lower back pain. While it might be tempting to ignore these types of symptoms and “pedal through it” when they first appear, they often recur and can eventually lead to chronic musculoskeletal pain. This in turn can seriously interfere with both training and enjoyment of the sport.

Can a chiropractic physician help cyclists with these kinds of problems? Absolutely! In addition, chiropractors can also help prevent future injuries and even enhance performance—speed, strength and stamina—for healthy cyclists. In fact, athletes of all kinds can benefit from the advice and treatment of a well-trained, experienced chiropractor—especially one who specializes in sports and understands the importance of biomechanics in a real-world athletic setting.

In addition to being experts at diagnosing and treating musculoskeletal problems, chiropractors have unique knowledge and skills that are particularly useful in working with cyclists. In fact, a combination of general and specialized training and experience are essential to successful treatment because everything in cycling is interconnected: the nerves, the bones, the muscles, and the joints. In most cases, all of these elements must be addressed in a holistic way by a systematic treatment plan in order to get good, lasting results. This is one reason why a chiropractor who specializes in sports medicine will probably have the most to offer you as a cyclist. They will also work with adjunct professionals such as sports trainers or physical therapists as needed to address your particular needs.

Solutions to problems cyclists commonly experience will likely be multi-dimensional. That is, they may involve a combination of adjustments, deep tissue massage, exercises, and stretches. will likely be required. For example, if a cyclist is suffering from lower back pain, it may be due to hip rotation. An adjustment of the sacroiliac joints will be quite helpful, but appropriate stretching and strengthening exercises will also be needed to address the weakness and tightness in the muscles that affect the hip joints. Strengthening exercises will contribute stability to the joint, while stretching will help to lengthen the muscles in the region, thus preventing them from contracting when stressed.

While a qualified chiropractor can be a valuable partner in helping patients recover from cycling-related injuries and pain, the cyclist must also do his or her part to make a treatment plan successful. In the same way that the athlete needs to actually execute a training program for it to be effective, he or she must also take responsibility for the at-home aspects of any treatment plan for it to achieve results. If you do not complete the prescribed stretching and strengthening exercises at home, you may not get the relief you expect.

Finally, a sports chiropractor will also likely be able to help you professionally fit your bicycle to maximize your efficiency and to minimize the unnecessary strain on your body. Bicycle size, seat placement, handlebar height, and cycling posture all have a significant impact on both performance and stress on the body. In much the same way that runners benefit from gait analysis, cyclists benefit from an insightful analysis of riding mechanics.

If you or someone you know is an avid cyclist who wants to ride healthier, perform better and enjoy the sport longer, we can help! Call our office at (703) 912-7822 or visit us at Chiropractor in Burke, VA.

Are You a Whiplash Patient? Here’s What You Should Know.

Chiropractor in Burke, VAYou’re not alone. Whiplash associated disorders (WAD) are very common neck injuries caused by a rapid distortion of the cervical vertebrae. Such distortion occurs when the head undergoes a sudden stop while moving at speed, jarring the muscles and ligaments of the neck, which move forwards and backwards quickly. Whiplash is most typically associated with motor vehicle accidents but may also occur in contact sports and as the result of falls from bicycles, chairs and horses. It’s a matter of anatomy, physiology and physics. There is a good reason that the neck is especially vulnerable to this type of injury. The adult human head weighs 10-11 pounds (about 5 kilograms). At rest, this weight is comfortably supported by the bones and muscles of the neck. However, rapid movement backward and forward puts a much larger load on the cervical vertebrae and ligaments holding them in place. The anterior longitudinal ligament that runs down the back of the spine is particularly at risk of stretching or tearing during a rapid collision.

Getting the right help quickly can make a big difference. In many cases, the injuries sustained during an auto or sports accident are not immediately apparent. Musculoskeletal injuries to the neck, back, hips and shoulders might not show any symptoms until days, weeks or even months after the initial trauma. Therefore, it is important to seek a medical evaluation immediately after your accident even if you do not feel seriously hurt at that moment. We know based on the research and from our own clinical experience that your recovery will be faster and more complete if problems are diagnosed and treated early.

No two whiplash cases are exactly the same. The symptoms of whiplash associated disorders range from mild neck pain for a few days after the injury to headaches, arm pain and long-term restricted movement of the neck. Studies have shown that whiplash injuries can also constrict blood flow to the brain, leading to light-headedness, poor concentration and fatigue. Since 1995, the Québec Task Force (QTF) scale has been widely used to assess the severity of WAD and how they should be treated. The grading scale works like this:

0          No complaint about the neck. No physical signs.

I           Neck complaint of pain, stiffness or tenderness only. No physical signs.

II          Neck complaint and musculoskeletal signs. Musculoskeletal signs include decreased range of motion and point tenderness.

III         Neck complaint and neurological signs. Neurological signs include decreased or absent deep tendon reflexes, weakness and sensory deficits.

IV         Neck complaint and fracture or dislocation. In addition to grading the injury based on your symptoms, a chiropractic physician can assess the injury by performing a thorough examination, palpating the affected area and observing your neck movement and any associated pain.

You have choices. There are several treatment options available, and your chiropractor will make his or her recommendations based on the nature and severity of your injuries. WAD often responds well to a combination of therapies, including chiropractic manipulation/mobilization, hot and cold treatment, cold laser and structured exercise and stretching programs designed to restore a full range of motion.

Pain medication may be required for grade II injuries and above (usually NSAIDs to reduce inflammation but narcotic pain relief may sometimes be prescribed for grade III WAD) and collars may also be used to keep the neck in place for 72 hours after grade II and III injuries to give the muscles and ligaments time to recover.

Grade IV whiplash (involving fractures or dislocation) is a serious injury and your chiropractor will likely refer you to another medial specialist for treatment based on the exact circumstances. For this type of injury, treatment is likely to consist of several months of neck immobilization and possibly surgery. Most whiplash injuries are much less serious than this and are more likely to be a cause of pain and discomfort than a true medical emergency.

Your injury may require a team approach. Depending on the nature of your injury, a chiropractic physician may recommend a team approach to treatment that incorporates other healthcare disciplines, potentially including neurology, therapeutic massage and physical therapy.

If you or someone you care about is suffering from chronic neck or back pain due to an auto, sports or work accident (even one that happened some time ago), there are ways to help relieve the symptoms and restore function. Our goal is always to help our patients recover as quickly and completely as possible so that they can return to an active lifestyle. We encourage you to call our office at (703) 912-7822 or visit us at Chiropractor in Burke, VA.

Tips for Pain-Free Gardening

Chiropractor in Burke, VAWho says that gardening isn’t hard work? Anyone who’s spent a weekend tending a backyard plot knows that there’s a LOT of physical labor involved. This sort of activity can put quite a strain on your muscles, especially those in your back. With this in mind, here are some suggestions for making the most of your time in the garden while saving your back.

Use some common sense.

Gardening is physical activity—it can involve lifting, reaching, twisting and pulling. If you don’t garden regularly or aren’t otherwise physically active, be sure to start slowly and work your way up to longer gardening sessions. Warm up your back muscles with some stretching before you go out, particularly in colder weather. Be sure to keep drinking water nearby and to take breaks often. If you start to feel any pain, stop and rest. Otherwise, you risk injuring your back and making it impossible to do anything at all in your garden until your back has healed.

Plan your garden to reduce the amount of labor you’ll need to maintain it later.

  • Use mulch on the surface of your garden and avoid leaving bare spots. This will reduce weeds and help the soil retain moisture, so you don’t have to water as often.
  • Use raised flowerbeds, which are both attractive and help reduce the need to bend down. You can even grow vines and other trailing plants around the edges.
  • Make sure your flowerbeds are narrow enough that you don’t have to reach too far over them.

Choose your plants carefully.

  • Remember that slow-growing shrubs are less trouble to maintain than perennials or annuals.
  • Use fruit trees grown on dwarf rootstocks. This will allow you to pick fruit at a reasonable height.
  • Consider ground-covering plants to keep weeds under control. Weeding is notoriously hard on the back because of all the bending over.

Use the right tools.

  • Use forks and trowels with long handles and other tools with extenders to reduce your need to reach.
  • Make sure your pruners and loppers are sharp and have ratchet systems. Cutting will be easier and there will be less strain on your back and shoulders.
  • Get a holster for smaller garden tools and attach it to your belt, so you don’t have to keep reaching down to pick them up.
  • Avoid heavy watering cans for irrigation. If you use a can, only fill it half way.

Reduce the need for digging.

If you spread compost and fertilizer or manure over a flowerbed surface in the late autumn, the soil has time to settle before spring planting. Worms will take organic matter into the soil and you won’t have to dig so much. This approach requires initial digging to level the soil and remove weeds, but over time you will be able to dig less and less. Many gardeners feel that this method is better than traditional “double digging” because it leaves the soil structure intact. Consult a specialist at your local gardening center for more details on this back-saving approach to gardening.

As chiropractic physicians, we have a particular interest in your musculoskeletal health and overall well-being. If either you or someone you care about has questions or concerns in these areas, we encourage you to call our office today at (703) 912-7822 or visit us at Chiropractor in Burke, VA.

Can Chiropractic Care Help Arthritis Sufferers?

Chiropractor in Burke, VAArthritis is a big problem that affects many people in lots of different ways.

As far as musculoskeletal pain is concerned, arthritis casts a very long shadow. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 22% of American adults (about 50 million people) report having been diagnosed with arthritis. Their symptoms may include pain, swelling, stiffness, and loss of function in the joints. Although arthritis is most often seen in middle aged and older adults, it can also afflict younger people. And it’s not a health condition that chooses its victims based on ethnicity or gender either—arthritis doesn’t discriminate.

While the general public is aware that arthritis is painful, fewer people recognize just how widespread and severe the debilitating effects of arthritis actually are. People with arthritis may experience difficulty with everyday tasks like buttoning shirts or opening packages and containers. They may also find that arthritis limits their mobility. This could prevent them from participating in their favorite activities or spending time with friends and family. The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons issued a Bulletin in October 1999 that ranked arthritis as a more frequent cause of activity limitation than heart disease, cancer or diabetes. More than ten years later, the CDC estimates that 21 million Americans face some type of disability as a result of arthritis. These kinds of statistics suggest that strategies for managing arthritis need to address goals beyond pain relief if they are to be truly successful.

But what exactly is arthritis?

Arthritis is not really one medical condition. Rather, it’s a more general term that refers to inflammation that may affect joints and other parts of the body as a result of more than 100 “rheumatic diseases”, such as fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis. These disorders destroy joints, bones, muscles, cartilage and other connective tissues.

You have choices when it comes to treating arthritis.

If you or someone you care about is suffering from arthritis, you should know that arthritis doesn’t have to mean an end to an active lifestyle. Prior generations may have accepted the condition as an inevitable part of aging and been given a standard prescription of bed rest and drug therapies. However, today’s health care professionals recognize that appropriate exercise and nutrition are also critical to managing arthritis effectively, and they can recommend a much wider range of treatment options.

How Your Chiropractor Can Help

Your chiropractor can play an important role, not only in relieving pain, but also in helping patients with arthritis continue to live a more independent, active lifestyle. For many arthritis sufferers, treatment still begins with rest and medication. But if you have arthritis, a chiropractic physician can help you develop a well-rounded, long-term approach to managing your arthritis in two other very important ways:

  • Designing an exercise program based on your own unique requirements. Such a program usually focuses on a combination of goals, including (1) restoring any lost range of motion in your joints, (2) improving your flexibility and endurance, and (3) increasing your muscle tone and strength.   Numerous clinical studies have demonstrated that inactivity can make joints affected by arthritis even more painful and stiff. It can also have other negative health effects.       A properly designed and supervised exercise program can reduce these risks.
  • Suggesting dietary changes and/or nutritional supplements that may be effective in reducing or controlling inflammation in your joints. Some research indicates that certain foods can have a role in either increasing or suppressing the body’s natural inflammatory response. Making adjustments to your diet may reduce swelling, redness and pain related to arthritis.

Keep in mind that some types of physical activity and dietary supplements may actually do more harm than good depending on the specific nature of your arthritis, the joints involved and your current treatment plan. So open communication with all the members of your healthcare team—including your chiropractor, family doctor and any specialists you’re working with—is the key to achieving results safely! Both the symptoms and underlying causes of arthritis can vary a great deal by individual, so it’s important that you consult your healthcare provider for an accurate diagnosis and to put in place a treatment plan that’s right for you.

If you or someone you care about is suffering from arthritis, it helps to know that you’re not alone and that you have treatment options. Many people are looking for a safe and natural approach that doesn’t involve the costs or risks associated with prescription medications or surgery. This is where chiropractic care may be able to provide an effective alternative. Call our office at (703) 912-7822 or visit us at Chiropractor in Burke, VA.

Chiropractic Care and the Expectant Mother

pregnancy back pain in burke, vaThe nine months prior to giving birth may be one of the best times in a woman’s life to discover the health benefits of chiropractic care. Not only is chiropractic care safe and effective in relieving many of the aches and pains that come with pregnancy, it can also make the delivery itself easier.

The changes that take place within an expecting woman’s body are profound and take place in a relatively short period of time. The additional stress placed on the body by the baby, combined with an average weight gain of 25 to 35 pounds, can result in considerable discomfort. In fact, studies have shown that at least half of expectant mothers develop back pain during their pregnancies. The physiological and hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy can also result in a variety of other musculoskeletal symptoms, including spinal misalignment, increased back curvature, pelvic changes, and postural abnormalities. This article highlights two of the most common complaints and explains why chiropractic care can be especially useful in addressing them.

Low Back Pain (LBP)

Unfortunately, pregnancy and back pain often go hand-in-hand. Even more unfortunately, relatively few women get help for the condition.

  • Between 57% and 69% of women complain of low back pain during pregnancy.
  • Only about 32% of women report these symptoms to their primary doctor.
  • Only about 25% of primary doctors recommend seeking treatment for the pain.

But there is some good news as well—a small number of chiropractic treatments can be quite effective in relieving pregnancy-related LBP. In a small study of 17 women:

  • Sixteen of 17 (94%) saw clinically important improvements in low back pain with chiropractic care.
  • The average pain rating went down from 5.9 to 1.5 (on a scale of 0 to 10).
  • It took an average of 1.8 visits and 4.5 days to get clinically significant pain relief.

Symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD)

SPD is more frequently referred to simply as pelvic pain. It’s a problem that is growing more common among pregnant women, either due to increasing maternal age or to the condition simply being diagnosed more frequently. The pain is due to excessive movement of the bones that make up the pubic symphysis, which are the two bones that meet at the front of the pelvic girdle and are connected by a joint made of cartilage and supported by ligaments.

  • Over 30% of women are reported as suffering from some form of SPD during pregnancy.
  • Approximately 7 percent continuing to experience pain post-partum.

Symptoms of SPD include shooting pain in the pubic symphysis area (which often radiates to the abdomen, lower back and upper leg), pain on movement, a waddling gait and swelling in the pubic area. The pain can range from mild to debilitating, and the condition can interfere with normal daily activities such as bending, lifting the leg and getting up from a chair.

A recent study published in The Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association has reported that conservative chiropractic care can reduce pain from pregnancy-related SPD, increase mobility and improve function.

Sciatica

As the fetus grows inside the mother’s womb, the uterus expands and occasionally places pressure against the sciatic nerve in the lower spinal column. This pressure can become especially evident during the third trimester as the baby begins to shift toward the proper birthing position. The baby can end up resting directly upon the nerve, triggering common sciatica symptoms, including weakness, tingling, numbness and burning pain in the legs, back and buttocks.

Approximately half of all pregnant women who suffer from sciatica recover within six weeks of childbirth and almost all (90%) recover within 3 months, although there is a small percentage for whom the pain continues for much longer. Fortunately, chiropractic care is safe and effective for treating sciatica—both during and after pregnancy.

What You Should Know

All chiropractic physicians receive training in how to care for their pregnant patients. Some use tables that can be adjusted to accommodate a pregnant woman’s changing body and utilize techniques designed to avoid unnecessary pressure on the abdomen. Some chiropractors seek additional training in prenatal and postnatal care, and become certified with the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association (ICPA) as a DACCP, CACCP, or as Webster Certified to work specifically with pelvic balance during pregnancy. Chiropractors can also provide you with exercises and stretching routines that are safe to use during pregnancy.

There are no known contraindications to chiropractic treatment during pregnancy. In addition, chiropractic care during the actual labor and birth process itself has been found in studies to shorten labor time by 25 to 60 percent, reduce the amount of pain medication required, and help make the whole delivery process more comfortable.

If you’re an expectant mother and are wondering whether chiropractic care might be right for you and your baby, please call our office at (703) 912-7822 or visit us at Chiropractor in Burke, VA.  Dr. Todd P. Sullivan is certified in the Webster technique for pregnant patients.