Posts Tagged ‘Conditions and Diseases

18
Nov
13

What Exactly is “Ergonomics”?


Neck painThe term ergonomics stems from the Greek words ergon (work) and nomos (laws). According to the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration, ergonomics is defined as “the science of fitting workplace conditions and job demands to the capabilities of the working population.” Good ergonomics in the workplace is key to maintaining our body’s proper health and function, and it can have a major effect on the quality of our work.

Ergonomics involves the physical stressors in our workplace as well as related environmental factors. For example, physical stressors are any activities that put strain on the bones, joints and muscles. These can involve things such as performing repetitive motions, vibrations, working in awkward positions and actions using excessive force. Environmental factors that contribute to bad ergonomics include loud noise, bad indoor air quality and improper lighting.

Bad ergonomics can increase the risk of injury to the musculoskeletal system, causing conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis and neck and back pain, as well as creating a range of other health problems, including sick building syndrome, eyestrain and hearing loss. However, there are steps you can take to improve your workplace ergonomics that can help reduce health risks.

Cumulative trauma disorders, such as carpal tunnel syndrome and tendonitis, are caused by repetitive motions such as typing. To prevent this, set up your computer workstation in a way that allows your hands and wrists to be in as neutral a position as possible. When sitting at your desk, your chair should be at a height where your eyes are level with the top of your computer screen, and your arms are at a 45-degree angle for typing. Ensure that your wrists are not angled up or down or to the left or right. If your desk is too high to keep your forearms straight, raise the height of your chair and use a footrest to keep your feet from dangling.

Your chair should be at a height where your feet are flat on the floor or on a footrest, while keeping your knees just slightly higher than the level of the seat. The chair should provide some light support to your lower back (use a pillow, if necessary) while allowing you to move freely. The arms of the chair should support your lower arms while letting your upper arms remain close to your torso.

To reduce eyestrain, adjust ambient lighting to diminish glare and adjust the brightness and contrast until your eyes are comfortable reading. If you are working in a noisy area, use earplugs or headphones that cut ambient sound (but not set loud enough to damage your hearing!).

Good ergonomics also involves taking frequent breaks. Move around, get some fresh air and focus your eyes on things at varying distances.

 

12
Nov
13

Shoulder Arthritis Causes and Treatment Options


While we generally think of arthritis as being associated with old age, shoulder arthritis is not uncommon among younger people as well. Any injury to the shoulder, such as a dislocation or a fracture, can eventually lead to shoulder arthritis.

The shoulder consists of two main joints. The first is the glenohumoral joint. This is a ball-and-socket joint in which the head of the upper arm (humerus) fits into the glenoid cavity of the scapula (shoulder blade). The second is the acromioclavicular. This joint is formed by the meeting of the collarbone (clavicle) with the top of the scapula (acromion).

Hyaline cartilage located on the ends of these bones generally allows for movement of the arm in the socket without friction, but a loss of cartilage here can cause the bones to rub against each other. Although not as common as arthritis in other parts of the body, shoulder arthritis can be extremely uncomfortable and debilitating. The principal symptom of shoulder arthritis is steadily worsening pain, especially when the arm is moved.  However, patients with this condition are also likely to experience considerable stiffness in the joint and weakness at the shoulder. Sleeping may become difficult as the condition worsens, especially on the most affected side.

Shoulder arthritis may be caused by any of the following:

  1. Osteoarthritis.  This is the degenerative wearing of cartilage, especially at the acromioclavicular joint.
  2. Loss of cartilage through acute traumatic injury to the shoulder, such as from a car accident, particularly when there has been a tear to the rotator cuff.
  3. Rheumatoid arthritis, an inflammatory autoimmune disease in which the body attacks its own cartilage.

Both osteo- and rheumatoid arthritis are more prevalent in older people (osteoarthritis in particular tends to occur in those over age 50).  It’s not surprising that the overall incidence of shoulder arthritis is increasing as the general population ages.

Initial management of shoulder arthritis is usually non-surgical. Possible treatment options include:

  • Chiropractic care
  • Targeted exercise programs to increase shoulder mobility
  • Heat and ice treatment
  • Nutritional supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin, both of which build cartilage and can slow joint degeneration
  • Rest and shoulder immobilization
  • Modifying shoulder movements to minimize irritation
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Corticosteroid injections and other medications may be used in the case of rheumatoid arthritis

The National Arthritis Foundation reports that regular chiropractic care can help prevent the damage caused by arthritis. Chiropractic treatment can help reduce pain and restore movement and increase range of motion in the shoulder joint.

In severe cases, surgery for shoulder arthritis can help to reduce pain and improve motion if non-surgical treatments are no longer working. Glenohumeral surgery can consist of either replacing just the head of the humerus with a prosthesis (hemiarthroplasty) or replacing the entire joint (both the humeral head and glenoid cavity, a total shoulder arthroplasty).

 

28
Nov
12

Circadian Rhythms: What They Mean for Your Health, Happiness and Performance


If you want to be in top form for that important meeting with a new client, it’s probably best not to arrange it for 2:00 in the afternoon.  Likewise, training for a marathon is not a good idea first thing in the morning if you want to reduce your risk of injury.

Our circadian rhythm (commonly referred to as our body clock) plays a large part in how we perform the various tasks that fill our lives from day to day.  While it is nearly impossible for most of us to schedule our obligations such as jobs, childcare, and daily errands to accommodate our body clock, we can still make small changes that will help us be healthier, happier and more productive.

So when is the best time to do certain things?  Here’s a short list:

Work – Different kinds of work each have an optimal time of day.  If you want to be sharp in your analytical thinking, late morning is best, peaking at around 10 am.  Our body temperature is lowest at about 5 am and gradually rises as the morning progresses, along with alertness and cognitive ability.  To jump-start this process, taking a warm shower first thing in the morning can help you become more alert earlier in the day.  Just be sure such tasks are finished by noon, when alertness begins to drop off.

However, if you need to solve a problem, the best time for creative thinking is in the evening when we begin to tire, according to Mareike Wieth, assistant professor of psychological sciences at Michigan’s Albion College and an author of a study published in the journal Thinking and Reasoning.  The study found that when subjects were required to solve problems requiring either analytical thinking or creative thinking, they solved the problems that required creativity far better at the time of day when they were not at their peak.

Naps – Many cultures in Europe have followed the tradition of the afternoon “siesta” for centuries, and for good reason.  We are naturally sleepy around 2 pm, so if you are able to take a nap around that time, it could help you be more alert for the rest of the day.  Studies have shown that a one-hour nap can boost alertness for the following 10 hours.  And a study performed on pilots found that a nap of about half an hour boosted performance by 34% and enhanced general alertness by 54%.  However, try to keep naps to 45 minutes or less, as if you sleep longer than that you may enter into slow-wave sleep, which can leave you feeling groggy and disoriented for up to half an hour after you wake.

Studying – While it may be tempting to study late at night when it seems you have the most time, learning is best accomplished in the morning when cognitive activity is at its peak.  However, reviewing material you have already learned is done best just before going to bed.  Research has shown that sleeping after a task is performed improves recall.

Exercise – Physical performance is most enhanced and the risk of injury minimized between 3:00 pm and 6:00 pm each day.  In addition, the lungs perform at 17.6% greater efficiency at 5:00 pm and muscle strength is 6% higher between 2:00 pm and 6:00 pm than at other times of day.

Eating – If you would like to ensure you do not become obese, try limiting your eating times to when you are most alert and active.  In a study involving two groups of mice who were all given the same diet and amount of food, researchers found that mice who were allowed to eat at all times of day became obese, had contracted diabetes and liver disease, and had cholesterol levels twice as high as mice who only ate during an 8-hour period when they were most active.  So it’s best to eat your largest meal at midday and have a light supper early in the evening.

 

Dr. P. Dubois, DC, CCSP.

 

Dr. Dubois,a Swiss physician, and a Triangle Certified Sport Chiropractor has over 20 years of experience in the treatment and prevention of disorders of the musculoskeletal system.Amongst his patients, two world champions in martial arts (gold medalists in 2005 WMJA), one carrier of the Olympic flame in 2004, and numerous soccer players, swimmers and athletes of all levels who benefited from his chiropractic care.

 

21
Nov
12

High Blood Pressure Facts and Fiction


High blood pressure (hypertension) is widespread, affecting approximately 25% of the population.  If the condition remains untreated, it can lead to more serious health problems such as heart disease, stroke and kidney disease. 

However, there are many myths about high blood pressure in the popular press.  So in the following paragraphs we’ll separate fiction from fact to provide you with a more accurate understanding of this common health problem.

Fiction: The lower your blood pressure, the better.

Fact: Low blood pressure can also lead to health problems.  It can cause dizziness or fainting, increasing your risk of falls, and (if it is severe), can even lead to shock and death.

Fiction: Young people do not need to have their blood pressure checked.

Fact: While young people are at lower risk, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) advises that everyone have their blood pressure checked from the age of 18.

Fiction: High blood pressure always has symptoms.

Fact: This is not necessarily the case.  While some experience sweating, nervousness and sleep disturbances, approximately one in three adult Americans with high blood pressure have it and are not aware of it.  This is the reason hypertension is sometimes called “the silent killer”.

Fiction: Blood pressure is only high because you are at the doctor’s office.

Fact: Many people get nervous while at the doctor’s office, which can raise blood pressure levels.  However, repeated high readings should be an indication that it is not a situational condition.  Home blood pressure monitors are now easily obtainable.  So take your measurements at home a few times and then share the results with your doctor.

Fiction: If you have high cholesterol, you must have high blood pressure.

Fact: Although the risk factors for both are often the same (poor diet, lack of exercise, etc.), having one does not necessarily mean you have the other.  You should have both your blood pressure and cholesterol checked periodically to ensure that you do not have either.

Fiction: Women do not need to worry about getting high blood pressure.

Fact: Although middle-aged men are more likely to have high blood pressure than women, the numbers begin to even out after a woman reaches menopause.  In fact, African-American women over age 65 have the highest rate of high blood pressure.  Other women at higher risk are those with a history of the disease in their family, those who are on birth control pills, those who are pregnant, and those who are overweight.

Fiction: Over-the-counter medications are always safe for those with high blood pressure.

Fact: Decongestants can both interfere with blood pressure medications and raise blood pressure.  If you are looking for cold and flu remedies, ensure that they do not contain decongestants.

Fiction: Insulin injections cause high blood pressure.

Fact: It was once believed that people taking insulin were at greater risk of hardened arteries and high blood pressure, but this idea has since been disproved.

Fiction: As your blood pressure improves, it’s all right to stop taking your blood pressure medication.

Fact: It is never a good idea to stop taking your blood pressure medication until you have consulted with your doctor.  Suddenly stopping your medication can cause your blood pressure to spike suddenly, stressing the heart, causing an irregular heartbeat and increasing your risk of a heart attack.  It can also cause nausea, vomiting, dizziness and insomnia.  If you decide to discontinue taking your medication, do so slowly, and always under a doctor’s supervision.

 

Dr. P. Dubois, DC, CCSP.

Dr. Dubois, a Swiss physician, and a Triangle Certified Sport Chiropractor has over 20 years of experience in the treatment and prevention of disorders of the musculoskeletal system.Amongst his patients, two world champions in martial arts (gold medalists in 2005 WMJA), one carrier of the Olympic flame in 2004, and numerous soccer players, swimmers and athletes of all levels who benefited from his chiropractic care.

 

26
Oct
12

Shoulder Arthritis Causes and Treatment Options


While we generally think of arthritis as being associated with old age, shoulder arthritis is not uncommon among younger people as well. Any injury to the shoulder, such as a  dislocation or a fracture, can eventually lead to shoulder arthritis.

The shoulder consists of two main joints. The first is the glenohumoral joint. This is a ball-and-socket joint in which the head of the upper arm (humerus) fits into the glenoid cavity of the scapula (shoulder blade). The second is the acromioclavicular. This joint is formed by the meeting of the collarbone (clavicle) with the top of the scapula (acromion).

Hyaline cartilage located on the ends of these bones generally allows for movement of the arm in the socket without friction, but a loss of cartilage here can cause the bones to rub against each other. Although not as common as arthritis in other parts of the body, shoulder arthritis can be extremely uncomfortable and debilitating. The principal symptom of shoulder arthritis is steadily worsening pain, especially when the arm is moved.  However, patients with this condition are also likely to experience considerable stiffness in the joint and weakness at the shoulder. Sleeping may become difficult as the condition worsens, especially on the most affected side.

Shoulder arthritis may be caused by any of the following:

  1. Osteoarthritis.  This is the degenerative wearing of cartilage, especially at the acromioclavicular joint.
  2. Loss of cartilage through acute traumatic injury to the shoulder, such as from a car accident, particularly when there has been a tear to the rotator cuff.
  3. Rheumatoid arthritis, an inflammatory autoimmune disease in which the body attacks its own cartilage.

Both osteo- and rheumatoid arthritis are more prevalent in older people (osteoarthritis in particular tends to occur in those over age 50).  It’s not surprising that the overall incidence of shoulder arthritis is increasing as the general population ages.

Initial management of shoulder arthritis is usually non-surgical. Possible treatment options include:

  • Chiropractic care
  • Targeted exercise programs to increase shoulder mobility
  • Heat and ice treatment
  • Nutritional supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin, both of which build cartilage and can slow joint degeneration
  • Rest and shoulder immobilization
  • Modifying shoulder movements to minimize irritation
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Corticosteroid injections and other medications may be used in the case of rheumatoid arthritis

The National Arthritis Foundation reports that regular chiropractic care can help prevent the damage caused by arthritis. Chiropractic treatment can help reduce pain and restore movement and increase range of motion in the shoulder joint.

In severe cases, surgery for shoulder arthritis can help to reduce pain and improve motion if non-surgical treatments are no longer working. Glenohumeral surgery can consist of either replacing just the head of the humerus with a prosthesis (hemiarthroplasty) or replacing the entire joint (both the humeral head and glenoid cavity, a total shoulder arthroplasty).

 

Dr P. Dubois, DC. CCSP

  Dr. Dubois,a Swiss physician, and a Triangle Certified Sport Chiropractor has over 20 years of experience in the treatment and prevention of disorders of the musculoskeletal system.Amongst hispatients, two world champions in martial arts (gold medalists in 2005 WMJA), one carrier of the Olympic flame in 2004, and numerous soccer players, swimmers and athletes of all levelswho benefited from his chiropractic care.

 

23
Oct
12

Smoking Linked to Chronic Pain in Women


If you need yet another good reason to quit smoking for good, here it is.  A study conducted by researchers at the University of Kentucky has found that women who smoke may be at greater risk of suffering from chronic pain than those who do not.

Researchers surveyed over 6000 women (18 years of age or older and living in Kentucky), asking them (1) whether they smoked and (2) if they suffered from any of the following  conditions: chronic head pain, chronic neck pain, chronic back pain, sciatica, fibromyalgia, joint pain, nerve problems and pain all over their body.  A statistical analysis of their responses suggested that women who currently smoked or who had smoked previously were more likely to report having at least one symptom of chronic pain than women who had never smoked.  Those who smoked daily were 104 percent more likely to suffer from chronic pain.  Occasional smokers were 68 percent more likely.  Even former smokers were at 20 percent greater risk of chronic pain.

Study results revealed that chronic pain was more strongly associated with a daily smoking habit than older age, low academic achievement, obesity or living in a county in Appalachia.

Co-author of the study, Dr. David Mannino, a pulmonary physician from the UK College of Public Health, suggested that the study results could represent something of a “chicken and egg” scenario.  He explained, “This study shows a strong relationship between heavy smoking and chronic pain in women, but what is the direction of this association?  Does smoking cause more chronic pain, or do more women take up smoking as a coping mechanism for experiencing chronic pain?”

Since acute pain is a protective response to some sort of injury, Mannino hypothesized that women smokers may have experienced an acute pain that then developed into chronic pain because their normal mechanisms of protection had been damaged by smoke exposure.

Another co-author of the study, Dr. Leslie Crofford, director of the Center for the Advancement of Women’s Health, noted that it would be a good idea for researchers to now investigate if there is a link between smoking, psychopathology, quitting smoking and how chronic pain is managed.

Crofford says, “Our results show there is a dose-response relationship between smoking classification and chronic pain syndromes.  It’s possible that patients experiencing chronic pain could benefit from smoking cessation treatment in addition to the treatment for their pain.  Similarly, it’s possible that appropriate treatment of chronic pain could increase a smoker’s chances of successfully quitting.  Right now, more research is needed on these interventions.”

 

Dr P. Dubois, DC, CCSP.

 Dr. Dubois,a Swiss physician, and a Triangle Certified Sport Chiropractor has over 20 years of experience in the treatment and prevention of disorders of   the musculoskeletal system.Amongst hispatients, two world champions in martial arts (gold medalists in 2005 WMJA), one carrier of the Olympic flame in 2004, and numerous soccer players, swimmers and athletes of all levelswho benefited from his chiropractic care.

03
Oct
12

Fighting Back Against Insomnia


Do you struggle to fall asleep at night?  Or do you find yourself wide awake at three in the morning staring up at the ceiling and wondering if you’ll fall back to sleep at all before your alarm goes off?  If you answered “yes”, you are not alone. Research has shown that up to 50 percent of the population suffers from sleep problems, with up to a third having struggled with it for at least a year.

The average adult requires a little over 8 hours of sleep each day.  However, very few people are able to manage that with lives that are more hectic than ever. Jobs, children and other obligations require us to be up with the birds and to go to bed far later than we would if we were following our own biological rhythm. A disruption to our circadian rhythm, which governs our hormone production, body temperature and sleep, can lead to insomnia.

We need adequate, restful sleep in order to perform at our best. Prolonged insomnia can cause mental fuzziness and interfere with how you perform your daily activities. It also increases your risk of depression, headaches, auto accidents, and can lead to substance abuse. Of course, worrying about the lack of sleep you are getting rarely helps you get more sleep! Stress, anxiety, and widespread use of coffee and alcohol are some of the greatest contributors to insomnia.

Learning how to manage stress effectively is one of the best ways to increase your chances of getting a good night’s sleep, and making some changes to your lifestyle may make a difference in the number of hours of sleep you get. Following are some strategies you can use:

  • Get regular exercise before dinner, which can help put your body in a restful state by bedtime. Just be sure not to exercise too close to bedtime, as this will likely make you restless.
  • Try to get out in the late afternoon sun as often as possible to stimulate melatonin release, which will help get your circadian rhythm back on track.
  • Use stress reduction techniques such as yoga, meditation and Tai Chi, which are great ways to help teach your mind and body to relax.
  • Caffeine and smoking keep the body stimulated. Try to avoid them from mid-afternoon on, and keep your consumption of alcohol to a minimum.
  • Eat a small snack of protein with a complex carbohydrate just before bed, such as peanut butter on a whole-grain cracker. It can keep your blood sugar from dipping too low and waking you up in the night.
  • Keep to the same sleeping and waking schedule every day and don’t change it by more than an hour on weekends.
  • Avoid television or computer use at least an hour before bedtime, as it stimulates the brain, making it difficult to fall asleep.
  • Keep your bedroom dark, quiet and cool.
  • If you are lying awake for more than about 20 minutes, get up and go sit in another dimly lit room until you feel sleepy.

These strategies have proven useful for many people in getting them back to a regular sleeping rhythm. Give them a try — they may help you too!

 

If your spine keeps you up at night, call us at 919-484-1400. We can help!

Dr. P. Dubois, DC, CCSP.

Dr. Dubois,a Swiss physician, and a Triangle Certified Sport Chiropractor has over 20 years of experience in the treatment and prevention of disorders of the musculoskeletal system.Amongst his patients, two world champions in martial arts (gold medalists in 2005 WMJA), one carrier of the Olympic flame in 2004, and numerous soccer players, swimmers and athletes of all levels who benefited from his chiropractic care.




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