Fox News: “When To Visit A Chiropractor”

As a chiropractor, it’s good to see foxnews.com recommend chiropractic. However, their advice leaves something to be desired. But I can’t blame Fox because the advice given is from Dr. Bill Lauretti, who is no less than an associate professor at New York Chiropractic College and the media spokesman for the American Chiropractic Association. The doctor gives 5 situations in which you should enlist the help of a chiropractor. I’m going to list each and provide my own commentary because his advice is questionable.

1. Pain radiating down the back of your legs.

This can be a serious condition, signifying that real damage is occurring. His advice to go to a chiropractor (DC – Doctor of Chiropractic) when you have pain shooting down your legs is like a dentist recommending that you go see your dentist after several of your teeth fell out. A patient would be wiser to seek chiropractic when they first begin feeling pain in their back or a sensation in their legs. Better yet, if you have a spine, it’s best to get it checked semi-regularly to help prevent more serious conditions like pain down the legs. Also, and this is important, if you’re a male, pain down the back of both legs can be caused by a prostate problem. That being said, I’d check with your MD.

2. Weakness or Numbness in your feet or legs.

Again, why close the barn door after the horse is gone? If you have this condition you’re probably either a diabetic or some other serious systemic condition, or you’ve been ignoring your back pain for years. I say “probably” because there’s always exceptions, but in my clinical experience people with weakness or numbness have been suffering with back discomfort considerably longer than with the foot and leg issues. Normally, back problems progress from muscle issues, to joint issues and then finally to nerve problems. Why wait until the nerves are damaged before getting help with chiropractic care?

3. Loss of Control of your bowel or bladder.

Man, this guy is just relentless when it comes to giving bad advice! I’m almost speechless. This is like an end-stage scenario in the world of chiropractic medicine. I’ve been in practice for decades and I don’t remember a single adult patient come to me complaining, “ I can’t stop soiling myself.” I’m actually fine with seeing a patient with these symptoms but only as part of a team and only with a limited treatment time to assess whether the treatment is effective. This patient might very well need surgery. Again, with an ounce of prevention, you might not be wearing that diaper, but Dr. Lauretti is clearly not a touchy feely type.

4. Deep, boring pain at night.

I guess deep, boring pain during the day isn’t a cause for concern for Dr. L but you be your own judge. And like the prostate issue up above, deep, boring pain at night could be a sign of an organic disease process. It’s consistent with a form of cancer of the vertebrae. In fact, I ask new patients if they experience pain when they’re resting at night to screen for this possibility.

5. Difficulty walking more than a block

Even a blind pig finds an acorn. That’s my way of saying that I appreciate his rationale which he explains, “  If you have difficulty walking more than a block, and especially if the pain gets better when you lean forward while walking — you may have spinal stenosis, which is caused by wear and tear of joints around the spinal cord, leading to the growth of bone spurs that push into and squeeze the spinal cord itself.”

Okay, I’ll go with that. I also have some ideas as to when I’d advise the average Joe or Jane to get chiropractic care. Let’s say this for now, if the medical community is checking our pre-teens spines for scoliosis why would a chiropractor advise a person to wait until their good health has been taken before seeking conservative and preventative chiropractic care?

Will A Massage Make You Feel Better?

At Better Body Solutions we regularly utilize therapeutic medical massage therapy along with chiropractic care and physical therapy to help patients obtain low back pain relief. A new study performed at Indiana University and published at sciencedaily.com shows that massage can an effective form of back pain relief.

 

From the Report:

“ Low back pain leads all disorders in years lost to disability in the U.S. Most patients improve rapidly, but one-third report persistent back pain, and 15 percent develop chronic low back pain with significant physical limitations. More than 50 percent of those who participated in the study experienced clinically meaningful improvements in their low back pain with disability, according to Munk.”

A 50% success rate is a coin flip, but compared to the success rate of some treatments, 50% is not bad. Medical studies are considered “significant”, which is considered a good thing, if even 35% of patients show improvement.

This isn’t the first time that massage has been shown to be helpful in treating pain. WebMD has a post that promotes massage as being helpful to treat a variety of disorders.

“ Few sensual experiences rival a full-body massage for pleasure and stress relief — at least among those things you can talk about in front of the children at the dinner table. Word on the health benefits of massage therapy for stress relief has spread. In 2006, 39 million Americans — one in six adults — had at least one massage, according to a nationwide survey by the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA).

“Americans are looking to massage for much more than just relaxation,” says Mary Beth Braun, President of the AMTA. “Massage therapy can be effective for a variety of conditions, including arthritis, lower back pain, insomnia, headaches, anxiety, circulatory problems, and recovery from a sports injury.”

One of the factors that complicates assessing just how effective massage is and relieving pain or improving function is that there are a variety of massage techniques. At our office, we employ medical massage which orients the massage services toward correcting muscular imbalances that hinder function. Interestingly medical massage can be applied using various massage techniques like Sports Massage, Deep Tissue Massage or Swedish Massage for example.

It’s possible that some massage approaches are more effective for certain conditions and even if those techniques were elucidated, it’s still difficult to study how effective a technique might be due to the fact that massage therapists differ in their application of the technique.

While there are several studies that seek to show the effectiveness of massage, in our experience massage can also make a condition worse in the short term and for people with back pain, especially with muscle spasm, we recommend that patients receive massage therapy under the supervision of their doctor. Sometimes, muscles go into spasm to protect the spine for example, from undergoing more physical stress or damage.  This is referred to as “splinting.” An online dictionary explains splinting as, “ stiffening of a body part to avoid pain caused by movement of the part…”  It would be a bad thing indeed for a massage therapist to relax those stiffened muscles and undermine their protective function.

In summary, our clinical experience is that massage can be quite beneficial if it’s used appropriately.