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Beyond Vaccinations: Protecting Yourself In Uncertain Times

If I understand the experts correctly, and I hope I don’t, we’ve either turned the corner on Covid, and the good ol’ US of A will be back to near-normal by summer. Or, the new Covid variants just entering the country resemble a Category Five Hurricane that will cause a massive spike in sickness and fatalities in just a matter of weeks.  
Say what?
These divergent predictions remind me of murder mysteries where you suspect everyone and every possibility ( Mr. Green, with a candlestick, in the library – I mean, does anyone have a Clue?), so you’ve got to watch until the end to see how the plot turns out. Just what happens in the next few months may prove to be even more compelling than our other national cliffhanger: What’s in the former president’s tax returns anyway? But I digress.
Covid Virus Will Survive Herd Immunity
Unfortunately, despite the persistence of so many unknowns, experts do seem to agree that despite immunizations and herd immunity, CV-19 will not be entirely eradicated. Various CV-19 strains will be circulating in our environment (endemic) for years to come. However, we can protect ourselves through vaccination and by prudent testing. This post is about the latter. You’ll want to learn the basics about the different available tests – what they do and what they don’t do – so you can knowledgeably protect yourself, your friends, family, and coworkers. Currently, there are three distinct Covid tests. They each have different purposes, advantages, and limitations. Let’s take a very brief look at the pros and cons of each diagnostic test.
PCR Test
Pros: Gold Standard to detect CV-19 virus. It can detect minute amounts of the virus. If you want to know if you have a Covid infection, this is the best test available.
Cons: A PCR test won’t tell you if you’re contagious – that is, capable of transmitting CV19 to others. Also, it can take several days to get your results back from the lab. 
RAPID ANTIGEN TEST (AKA Lateral Flow Test)
Pros: Rapid antigen tests are designed to detect if you’re contagious -that is, capable of getting others sick. The results of rapid tests are typically available in 15 – 30 minutes. Rapid tests don’t require a doctor’s visit or lab; they can be performed at home. They’re relatively inexpensive.
Cons: Rapid tests will not tell you if you have very low levels of the virus. They are not yet readily available, but the Biden administration is fast-tracking rapid testing.
COVID-19 ANTIBODY TESTS
Pros: Positive test shows prior exposure and immune reaction to the virus.
Cons: Antibody tests don’t tell you whether you are currently infected or contagious or if you might get it again. They are limited to testing for B cells, not T cells – another important part of the immune system.
As promised, this was a very brief introduction to different types of Covid testing. Hopefully, that whet’s your appetite: if you want more information, this is a very informative article: https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-021-00332-4
Biden’s jump-starting rapid testing: 

How’s The Vaccine Rollout Going In NY State?

I don’t know about you, but I continue to be disappointed with our state’s administrative response to Covid-19 and now with the vaccine distribution.

New York Covid cases are skyrocketing. Covid deaths are way up. It would be great to get those vaccines into people’s arms ASAP. So you want to know how the vaccine rollout is going? The short answer is, ” It could be worse.” A very New York answer, indeed.

This reminds me of a sad but true story. A friend of mine was recently diagnosed with incurable cancer. A dedicated lifelong bachelor, he decided to marry his girlfriend so she could benefit from his estate. My buddy has a great sense of humor, and he joked, ” This is like the guy who goes to the doctor, and the Doc says, ” I’ve got good news and bad news.” The guy says, ” What’s the bad news?” The Doc says, ” You’ve got to get married.” The guy says, ” Oh my god…What’s the good news?” The doctor replies, ” You’re going to die soon.”

He teaches us, you have to laugh, so you don’t cry.

The “good news” with NYS’ vaccine distribution is that we have a county-wide distribution apparatus already set up. The staff has received years of training in preparation for a pandemic. Luckily for us, they’ve even had extra time to plan and prepare for the mass vaccinations needed to control Covid. Their projections were for a quick rollout.

The bad news? They never got the chance. Governor Cuomo decided to take over himself, and he chose not to utilize the aforementioned system that was already in place and trained for this exact moment. According to The Week, ” Long before the coronavirus pandemic began, New York state had a carefully-crafted mass vaccination plan, developed in part with federal grants, which was centered around county public health departments and had been practiced regularly for years. But since the coronavirus vaccine has FDA approval, Cuomo has seized control of the process without explanation, ignored the plan, and is running distribution through hospitals.”

Had the hospital staff received training in how to provide mass vaccinations?

Did the hospitals regularly practice delivering mass vaccinations?

Did the hospitals have a vaccine plan in place to meet our Covid emergency?

It doesn’t seem so.

But, hey, it could be worse, and in some states, it is. New York ranks about in the middle of the pack – just a little behind Florida in the number of people vaccinated per one hundred thousand. ’nuff said.

More here: https://www.timesunion.com/news/article/New-York-s-mass-vaccination-plans-are-shelved-as-15824607.php

And here: https://dailyvoice.com/new-york/nassau/politics/covid-19-connecticut-vaccinating-at-twice-new-yorks-rate-as-cuomo-draws-criticism-for-rollout/801073/

” The Week” link: https://theweek.com/articles/958761/andrew-cuomos-vaccine-disaster

Increase Your Immunity!

 

Call us impatient, but it’s about time that public health experts told us what we could do for ourselves other than to stay home and avoid most everyone in your life! As chiropractors, Dr. Lacey and I have been disappointed that the focus has only been solely on the virus and the damage that it may cause. Conversely, there’s been wholesale negligence when it comes to advising us, the public, about what each of us can do to have an adequate immune response against exposure to the CV19. So far, public health discourse has been largely limited to these familiar messages:

– We don’t (yet) have a cure

– We don’t (yet) have a vaccine 

– We (still) don’t have enough tests, and some tests don’t work too well

– Therefore, our advice is that you live your life in your pajamas, in isolation approaching solitary confinement

This view discounts the fact that a significant percentage of people have been exposed and haven’t gotten very sick. We’ve studied the sick. Why not study those who have easily beaten the virus?

Wouldn’t you like to know what could make you more resilient?

The chiropractic approach is to strengthen the individual. In contrast, public health officials (and frankly, medicine too) seem to overemphasize the disease-causing organism rather than the host. Public health policy focuses on helping all of us, but not each of us.

So, it was appreciated when Dr. Faucci recommended Vitamin D as a way to improve our immune response to viruses – and this includes the seasonal flu:

“If you are deficient in Vitamin-D, that does have an impact on your susceptibility to infection,” Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in an interview posted on Instagram. “So I would not mind recommending—and I do it myself—taking vitamin-D supplements.”

However, you can’t just take vitamin D willy-nilly. You need to get a blood test to determine if you need it. Enough Vitamin D is essential. Too much can be toxic. Some studies suggest that circulating 25(OH) D levels between 40-60 ng/mL is the sweet spot and may confer the best preventive outcome. We recommend that you check with your doctor. They may have a different opinion. Here’s a video from Medcram that discusses Vitamin D & CV-19 prevention starting at around 8 minutes and 33 seconds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UzGKqujdTQ8&t=561s.

Remember, your body makes vitamin D when you’re skin is exposed to the sun. We’re entering the darker months, and you may need to take a supplement to maintain normal Vitamin D levels. Talk to your Doc – get checked!

Also, there are observational studies show that Vitamin D supplementation may help chronic back pain too! Here’s an example from the National Institutes of Health:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5466150/

COVID Times: I Miss My Family & Friends

I miss my friends and family and bet you miss yours.

It’s been about eight months since I’ve seen my nieces and nephews and ten months since I’ve seen my mother. I’m reluctant to see the former because despite their denials, they, like many of there peers, have been quite social. The evidence is all over social media – should I believe my ears or my lying eyes?  And of course, I’m squeamish about seeing my mom because she’s 82, and although I don’t leave the house much and wear a mask when I do, I couldn’t bear to cause her harm. I’ve avoided matricide for this long, why blow it now?

All joking aside ( I love you Mom!!) , and this is important, if you feel similarly about your friends and family, please do everyone you care about an invaluable favor and read and Tweet this article: https://time.com/5873444/radically-rethink-covid-19-testing-approach/

Here’s the skinny:

– Fast COVID tests that can quickly transform our lives, already exist

– The tests cost as little as a dollar and it takes as little as a minute to get your results

– These salivary antigen tests will tell you if you are infective – that is, contagious to others

– the FDA hasn’t  approved them yet 

Imagine going to work/school/restaurant or a plane-trip and knowing everyone there is safe to be around? What would that mean to your life? Please read and Tweet and get ready to hug those you love!

To Test or Not to Test…

 

New COVID Test Underwhelming?

I don’t know if you heard them, but there are in fact, rumors that life will go on after COVID. I admit that some days it’s hard to imagine what it will be like to return to the old normal…

But until Covid’s in the rearview, our nation’s hope rests upon effective treatments and a vaccine. Until then, our nation’s best bet may be on better testing.

This week CNN announced that a new FDA-approved test for COVID could be a game-changer. My personal opinion is that the new test is a step in the right direction but it falls far short of being able to transform our lives.

Here’s some info about this new antigen test and a few reasons why we shouldn’t get too excited:

  • it takes only 15 minutes, but it’s not accurate as the longer PCR test
  • you have to go to the pharmacist or the doctor to obtain it
  • according to Abbott, it’s 97% accurate, but only if you have had symptoms for 1 to 7 days
  • the wholesale cost of the test is around $5, and you may still have to pay the pharmacist or doctor to run the test

FDA, Are You Listening?

Are you ready for some actual great news? I know you are…

There is already COVID-testing technology that has the following characteristics:

  • you can take it at home – no doctor or pharmacist is needed – no reason to rock your mask
  • it will tell you whether or not you are infected… and infective, that is whether or not you can transmit the disease to others
  • it’s accurate, whether or not you have symptoms
  • it will cost about $1.50 for each test
  • it takes about 15 minutes

Unfortunately, the FDA has not yet approved it. I’ll tell you why in an upcoming email, but if you just have to know now, go to YouTube and search for ” Coronavirus Pandemic Update 98″ and join the fun at 3:07.

 

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.