I Think This Is Helping Me Breathe Better

adult air beautiful beauty
Breathing Better

“I think this is helping me breathe better.” That is what one of my patients said after he had received several chiropractic treatments. He’d come to me originally for a sharp pain that he was having in his shoulder blade area. As I treated him for that pain he noticed it seemed to help his breathing. He’d had asthma since childhood, used an inhaler daily and, despite the best efforts and intentions of therapists and doctors, his asthma condition persisted. In my 33 years of chiropractic practice it is not uncommon for me to hear my patients saying something along these lines after receiving their chiropractic treatment. They notice a definite improvement in their breathing.

Many might wonder how chiropractic care can help patients to have improved breathing. Actually, there is a scientific basis as well as a common-sense reason why a person might breathe easier. This article will describe how chiropractic care can improve one’s ability to breathe and the implications this has on improving lifestyle and even longevity.

Let’s first begin with some simple anatomy and physiology. We all know that our lungs are in the upper chest area. They function like a bellows. On inspiration the lungs expand and on expiration the lungs deflate. It is important that the muscles between our ribs, the intercostal muscles, function properly in allowing us to breathe normally. The intercostal muscles are innervated by nerves which exit from our spine. If the nerves are irritated or pinched the intercostal muscles won’t perform properly and the person won’t be able to take a full, deep breath. Also, our ribs form movable joints with the breast bone in the front of our body and with the spine in the back of our body. There should be a subtle rotational movement at those joints. But sometimes those joints can get somewhat locked up or fixated. If this happens it is another reason why a person might not be able to fully breathe deeply. A chiropractic treatment, sometimes called an adjustment or a manipulation, to the mid back has been found to remove irritation from the nerves of that area and can help restore normal motion at the rib joints. This care will then allow proper inflation and deflation of the lungs. Of course, if one can take a full breath they are able to deliver abundant oxygen to the blood stream which we all know will help with many aspects of health.

A recent research study in the Journal of Manipulative Physiological Therapeutics, August 2018 revealed improved pulmonary function when participants received chiropractic treatment, called an adjustment, to the mid back which is known as the thoracic spine. The research study showed an improvement of measurement when the patients exhaled out a full breath.

Not breathing to full lung capacity has been shown to be associated with increased risk of stroke, heart attacks and other potentially life shortening cardiovascular diseases. On the other hand, a long-term follow-up study in the Archives of Internal Medicine, 1996 showed that subjects that had good breathing ability at age 50 were more likely to survive to age 75.

Anyone with cardiovascular diseases and problems should of course consult with the proper medical healthcare provider to be certain there is not an imminent emergency situation. Once it is established that the patient is medically stable an appointment with a chiropractor is an option. The chiropractic profession has had decades of experience in treating patients with a safe, nonsurgical, medication free method to help give improvement to patients who have various breathing difficulties.

See tips of what to look for when choosing a chiropractor in the Pittsburgh North Hills area. We may be able to provide chiropractic alternative care  for your particular health condition.

How Prolonged Sitting Can Affect Us and What to Do about It

Posture-Good & Bad
What a difference good posture makes!

Text neck. Poor circulation. Fatigue. Arthritis. Depression and moodiness. Headaches. Tension across the tops of the shoulders. What do all these have in common? During my 33 years in chiropractic practice, they are all conditions and symptoms that patients tell me they have acquired from long periods of required sitting at jobs, school, and hobbies. There is a whole science called ergonomics which has evolved and addresses the problems and concerns that arise from the increased amount of sitting that we are exposed to. This article will discuss how prolonged sitting affects us and what we can do to mitigate the deleterious effects we suffer when we sit too long.

Historically, human beings have not had the opportunity or ability to sit around much. Until around 5000 years ago most human populations were nomadic. They walked to productive hunting areas to obtain food. Or they walked to productive grazing areas necessary for the cattle they raised. They didn’t get much of a chance to sit in one place for very long.

About 5000 years ago human beings acquired the technology of farming. The Egyptians are credited with the first large-scale farming operations. While this did not require a nomadic lifestyle it also did not allow these folks to become couch potatoes. Anyone involved with farming knows it involves a lot of manual labor.

Even during the more recent industrial age our predecessors were involved in very physical manual jobs.

So, when we think about it, mankind has only started sitting for long periods in the last 50 to 75 years. Before that, through all of human history, we were creatures of movement. Our bodies are evolved to walk extensively, stand fully erect, exercise large muscle groups by having to carry and lift objects necessary for our survival.

However, now with preschool, elementary school, high school, college and sedentary occupations, to say nothing of our use of computer and handheld technology devices, many of us sit more than proceeding generations could ever imagine.

It’s no wonder that we suffer from maladies listed earlier in this article. Our great grandparents and great, great grandparents would probably be amazed that we go to health clubs and exercise classes in order to exert ourselves and work our muscles. Most likely they only wanted to come home from work and rest.

Yet, it looks like we are going to be creatures of a sedentary lifestyle for many generations to come. So, it will be necessary for us to take measures to counteract harmful physical effects of our relatively inactive style of living.

One area to be aware of is the ergonomic condition of our environment at work and home. It is important to have a proper chair, desk, and computer station. There is no silver bullet or one-size-fits-all recommendation for an ergonomically perfect situation. We are all different sizes and shapes. There are many different types of chairs we can use. Trial and error may be the best we can hope for in finding a good chair. Additionally, don’t ignore seat cushions and padding which can make a mediocre chair into one that is ergonomically sound. Likewise, our desks and computer stations can almost certainly be improved by a little attention. Anything we can do to sit erectly, have our wrists and hands in a comfortable neutral position, have our lower backs supported in a stress-free posture and have our legs and feet in a properly supported way should be pursued.

It is certainly recommended that we also consider a workstation that allows us to stand. A quick Internet search for a variable or upright desk will yield many choices for this technology. Most of these are inexpensive and easy to install. In my practice I have suggested this for many of my patients in recent years. Those who have been able to follow my advice have been very positive and pleasantly satisfied with the improvements ergonomically achieved.

Of course, the old standby of getting up and taking a walk is probably the best antidote to prolong sitting. Whether it’s a walk to the water cooler or a stroll at lunch time or a relaxed brisk walk after work, nothing beats walking to counteract harmful effects of a long day of sitting.

Take time to evaluate and assess your workstation and determine how you can physically, initiate appropriate movement and exercise into your everyday lifestyle. In the short and long-term these measures can make a huge difference in our health and mental behavior.

To learn more about relieving neck pain see this video. To learn more about living without headaches see this.

Why Isn’t My Shoulder Pain Getting Better?

Shoulder Anatomy
Shoulder Pain

Many people suffering from shoulder pain, who have tried conventional treatment continue to suffer with complaints of their shoulder. They have tried anti-inflammatory medications, steroid injections and physical therapy yet their shoulder is still giving them pain. It is not commonly known that shoulder conditions can be associated with problems of the neck. This article will discuss shoulder pain and how it is related to neck problems. A treatment solution for shoulder discomfort will be addressed.

The shoulder joint is one of three joints in the body that can move in every direction. (The thumb and the hip comprise the other two). Over the course of our lives this joint undergoes a tremendous amount of physical stress and subsequently can become injured.

Our neck, which is anatomically called the cervical spine, can be associated with problems of the shoulder joint. The cervical spine is made up of seven vertebrae or spinal bones. Between the bones are openings where nerves exit. Some of these nerves innervate the muscles which make our shoulder joint move in various directions. If nerves in the neck are pinched or irritated it can refer pain into the shoulder area. It can also cause the muscles to work improperly, which over time can cause the shoulder joint and various structures like bursas, tendons and ligaments to undergo excessive stress leading to bursitis, tendinitis and ligaments sprain.

Research study published in August 2018 in the Physiotherapy Research International publication noted that pain can affect the shoulder movement. In this study, researchers found that among a group of 60 adults under the age of 45, those with chronic neck pain exhibited reduce function and range of motion in the shoulder. Additionally, the research team observed a relationship between greater neck pain intensity and worse shoulder joint performance.

This indicates that shoulder problems and problems of the cervical spine, the neck, are directly associated.

If a healthcare practitioner only focuses on the shoulder and prescribes medication, or performs steroid injections of the shoulder, or performs physical therapy of the shoulder without addressing an underlying neck problem it is likely that treatment of the shoulder will be unsuccessful.

Fortunately, a doctor of chiropractic is eminently qualified to treat problems of the shoulder. Chiropractors are healthcare practitioners that are trained to examine both the cervical spine and the shoulder. Chiropractic examination of the shoulders would include checking the range of motion of the shoulder, and if there is associated bursitis, tendinitis and ligament problems. A chiropractor will also examine the cervical spine to see if there are misaligned or improperly moving vertebrae which would affect the nerves associated with the shoulder.

A doctor of chiropractic can then direct gentle, safe, effective treatment to both the shoulder and the cervical spine. In most instances this will lead to successful resolution of conditions affecting the shoulder.

It is best to try a conservative rehabilitative approach initially with this kind of condition. If more aggressive therapies like pharmaceutical intervention or surgery are performed it is not uncommon for patients to experience side effects such as gastrointestinal problems, deleterious reaction kidney and/or failed surgery.

To learn more about shoulder pain chiropractor Pittsburgh North hills see this video. Dr. James Schofield’s tips to help shoulder pain can be found here.

Pregnant Women Need Appropriate Musculoskeletal Care During Pregnancy

Pregnancy
Back Pain During Pregnancy

Many women experience musculoskeletal problems during their pregnancy. It is common for them to have lower back pain, discomfort in the pelvic girdle and/or neck and upper back pain. This occurs as pregnancy progresses due to the increasing weight and size of the baby internally and subsequent postural changes the expectant mother undergoes. This article will discuss musculoskeletal conditions that occur during pregnancy and a potential palliative care. A specific case study by the author will also be presented as an example that the reader may find useful and helpful.

A recent research study published in BMJ Open, August 2017 noted that musculoskeletal pain is a common cause of sick leave during pregnancy. An electronic survey of 6686 new mothers from 12 European countries revealed that 8% took sick leave during their pregnancy because of pain in their neck, back or pelvic girdle. These findings reveal the need for musculoskeletal care during pregnancy to help reduce pain and sick leave.

When I first started in chiropractic practice 33 years ago I treated a patient named Donna. Donna had a desk job and found monthly chiropractic adjustments kept her free from neck and lower back pain. She became pregnant with her second child and we continued to give her regular treatments. After having the baby I asked her how the delivery went. She said: “I wish I had known about chiropractic adjustments when I had my first child.” She related that her second pregnancy had been much easier and the delivery was more comfortable and took less time than her first child. She noted during her first pregnancy she had not had chiropractic care and, while there were no complications, it hadn’t been easy.

Over the years I’ve seen many similar results. Pregnant women who receive chiropractic care have more comfortable pregnancies and easier, faster delivery times. Chiropractic research verifies these facts.

There are chiropractic postgraduate classes focused on treating pregnant women utilizing the Webster Technique. Training during the study of the Webster Technique emphasizes the anatomical study of the bones, joints, muscles and nerves of the body. Additionally, there is education regarding the physiology of pregnancy and the effects on women and the developing fetus. The Webster Technique also teaches gentle manipulative procedures that chiropractors use to keep the pelvis and lower spine of pregnant women in good alignment. This method is an alternative safe, gentle, drug-free way of assisting women during pregnancy.

Visit Pittsburgh North Hills chiropractic reviews to learn how to get relief from musculoskeletal pains. Dr James Schofield reviews is an excellent site to gain more insight about care of spinal pain.

Is Your Smart Phone Causing Your Neck To Smart?

photography of women using mobile phones
Be Smart With Your Smart Phone

With the ever-increasing use of smart cell phones there has been a corresponding increase of users having neck and upper back pain, headaches and upper extremity discomfort. This article will explain why cellular phone usage can be deleterious to one’s health. It will also give information to counteract harmful musculoskeletal health effects.

An interesting research study published in Physiotherapy Theory and Practice, June 2017 noted that researchers investigating changes in posture and muscle activation among 18 participants while interacting with their electronic device. The results revealed that smart phone use induced a more flexed posture in the neck and trunk compared with desktop computer use. The researchers also found that participants began to experience neck and back pain if they used their smart phone for longer than 15 minutes. The findings suggest that healthcare providers should consider the influences of smart phone use in posture and muscle activity in the evaluation, intervention, and prevention of neck and trunk conditions.

It has been noted that the human head weighs about as much as a bowling ball which is 10 to 14 pound range. If the head is directly over our upper body its weight is tolerated well and does cause discomfort to the neck and upper back. However, if the head is in a flexed, forward position for extended periods of time causes the muscles of the back of the neck and upper back contract and stresses in the spinal joints. Over time this causes irritation to the structures. This can result in neck and upper back pain, tension headaches and pain of the upper extremities radiates from the nerves of the neck and upper back.

As of the research study noted earlier there is less of a forward head posture/flexed neck and trunk when using a desktop computer compared to cell phone usage. Thus, if a person has access to a desktop computer would be wise to use it versus using a smart phone.

If one has to use a cell phone for an extended period of time it is wise to use the 20-20-20 rule. This simply means that after 20 minutes of smart cell phone use a person should stand straight up for 20 seconds and look 20 feet away. This will break the cycle of prolonged poor posture. Of course, straightening up more frequently for longer periods of time would certainly be even better.

If a person has ongoing neck pain, upper back discomfort, radiating pain into the upper extremities and/or is having tension headaches the condition may have gotten to the point where professional care is indicated. In this case a wise decision would be to consult with a doctor of chiropractic. Chiropractors are specialists who are trained to diagnose what is causing serious musculoskeletal problems and have the ability to render safe, effective treatment that does not involve surgery or harmful pain medications like opioids.

It is best to take proactive steps when using cellular phones to avoid musculoskeletal discomfort. However if accumulated stress has caused significant acute or chronic discomfort it is best to seek professional chiropractic help.

With the ever-increasing use of smart cell phones there has been a corresponding increase of users having neck and upper back pain, headaches and upper extremity discomfort. This article will explain why cellular phone usage can be deleterious to one’s health. It will also give information to counteract harmful musculoskeletal health effects.

An interesting research study published in Physiotherapy Theory and Practice, June 2017 noted that researchers investigating changes in posture and muscle activation among 18 participants while interacting with their electronic device. The results revealed that smart phone use induced a more flexed posture in the neck and trunk compared with desktop computer use. The researchers also found that participants began to experience neck and back pain if they used their smart phone for longer than 15 minutes. The findings suggest that healthcare providers should consider the influences of smart phone use in posture and muscle activity in the evaluation, intervention, and prevention of neck and trunk conditions.

It has been noted that the human head weighs about as much as a bowling ball which is 10 to 14 pound range. If the head is directly over our upper body its weight is tolerated well and does cause discomfort to the neck and upper back. However, if the head is in a flexed, forward position for extended periods of time causes the muscles of the back of the neck and upper back contract and stresses in the spinal joints. Over time this causes irritation to the structures. This can result in neck and upper back pain, tension headaches and pain of the upper extremities radiates from the nerves of the neck and upper back.

As of the research study noted earlier there is less of a forward head posture/flexed neck and trunk when using a desktop computer compared to cell phone usage. Thus, if a person has access to a desktop computer would be wise to use it versus using a smart phone.

If one has to use a cell phone for an extended period of time it is wise to use the 20-20-20 rule. This simply means that after 20 minutes of smart cell phone use a person should stand straight up for 20 seconds and look 20 feet away. This will break the cycle of prolonged poor posture. Of course, straightening up more frequently for longer periods of time would certainly be even better.

If a person has ongoing neck pain, upper back discomfort, radiating pain into the upper extremities and/or is having tension headaches the condition may have gotten to the point where professional care is indicated. In this case a wise decision would be to consult with a doctor of chiropractic. Chiropractors are specialists who are trained to diagnose what is causing serious musculoskeletal problems and have the ability to render safe, effective treatment that does not involve surgery or harmful pain medications like opioids.

It is best to take proactive steps when using cellular phones to avoid musculoskeletal discomfort. However if accumulated stress has caused significant acute or chronic discomfort it is best to seek professional chiropractic help.

For more tips on avoiding neck pain see this video. Learn how to use cold ice packs to help your sore neck.