What is a “Pinched Nerve”?

A “pinched nerve” refers to a condition in which a nerve is compressed by surrounding tissue, such as ligament, cartilage, tendon or bone. The term “pinched nerve” is not a standard medical expression, but it’s an intuitive expression that almost anyone will understand.

Nerves radiate from your brain, down your spine and to all other parts of the body. Signals are sent from and to the brain along the nerves, and if a nerve is compressed (“pinched”), it will interfere with proper signal transmission. Usually, this will manifest as pain, not only at the site of compression, but sometimes radiating from that point to surrounding parts of the body. Misalignment of the spine can result in pinched nerves that can give you back pain and even a deadening ache or sensitivity along your arms (cervical radiculopathy) or legs (sciatica).

Any pain of this sort is a warning signal that there is a problem that should be treated right away. Left untreated, pinched nerves can lead to a loss of the protective barrier around the nerves which could generate fluid buildup. And this fluid would create swelling, more pressure, more pain, and possibly scarring. When nerves have been scarred, they may no longer function properly.

Pain isn’t the only indication of a pinched nerve. Sometimes a compressed nerve will generate numbness or tingling, a burning or “pins and needles” sensation, or even weakness during certain activities.

Pinched nerves can occur more often when the following risk factors are involved:

  • Overuse—Repetitive actions such as movements during work or while involved in a hobby or sport.
  • Posture—Bad posture creates more pressure on the spine and the nerves traveling through it.
  • Gender—Women’s carpal tunnels are smaller and are at greater risk for carpal tunnel syndrome.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis—Inflammation of any kind can compress nerves, especially at the joints.
  • Obesity—Increased body weight can increase pressure on nerves throughout the body.
  • Bone spurs—Bone thickening (from conditions such as osteoarthritis) or trauma can lead to bone spurs that stiffen the spine and narrow the space through which the nerves pass.

Mainstream medicine frequently recommends drugs, including NSAIDs, oral corticosteroids, narcotics (for emergency, short-term pain relief) and steroid injections to treat the symptoms of a pinched nerve. The Mayo Clinic suggests that patients can sometimes recover within a few days or weeks from pinched nerves with rest and additional “conservative treatments.” Other mainstream medical treatments may include physical therapy, a splint to immobilize a limb to give it a bit of rest, or surgery.

A chiropractor specializes in nerve health and non-invasive methods of reducing pain and restoring proper function, including spinal adjustments and other treatments that take the pressure off the nerves without the need for drugs or surgery. Sometimes a single adjustment can lead to immediate relief. In other cases, repeat visits may be required for full recovery. If you or someone you care about is suffering from a pinched nerve, you should know that there are alternatives to drugs and surgery and that chiropractic care has proven effective in treating the source of the problem so it is less likely to recur in the future.

Call Southeastern Healthcare for your Chiropractic needs! We offer FREE shuttle to/from our offices!

At Southeastern Healthcare, we are here to help! Call us at (910) 790-3666

What is a “Back Spasm”?

 

 

A back spasm can occur when the muscles supporting the spinal column, particularly those in the lower back, become overworked. If the muscles suddenly contract near the nerve roots around the spinal cord, this condition can be extremely painful.

Muscles that are overstretched or worked more than usual can become tender and inflamed. The pain may first become noticeable when you are twisting your back, or are pushing or pulling something, particularly if you are moving something heavy. Sudden movements in particular are likely to trigger back spasms. Playing golf, for example, in which the back twists quickly as the golfer swings, can cause the back to spasm. Weightlifting, baseball and football are other sports that carry a higher risk of back spasm. Even something as seemingly safe as gardening can cause back spasms, since it usually involves bending and turning. If the activity is not stopped immediately, the spasms are likely to get worse.

Among other things that can increase your risk of suffering a back spasm are:

  • Weak stomach muscles
  • Tight hamstrings
  • A tipped pelvis
  • Lordosis (an exceptional curvature of the lumbar spine)
  • A back condition such as spondylolysis, arthritis or spinal stenosis

 

Typical back spasm treatments usually involve resting the back first, then—as it heals—strengthening the muscles that support the spine. Bed rest is not usually recommended for the long term, as it can actually hinder the healing of the back. You should try to keep active, but be sure not to put any strain on the back muscles. While resting, experts recommend that you lie on your back on the floor with a pillow under your knees, or with your knees bent and your legs resting on a chair. Acetaminophen or anti-inflammatory pain relievers such as ibuprofen are often recommended in the first days, though they should not be taken on an extended basis due to the damage they can do to your stomach and liver. You can also apply heat for 20 to 30 minutes at a time to help soothe sore back muscles.

When your back has sufficiently healed, you can slowly begin to introduce more movement. A visit to your chiropractor is always a good idea, as he or she can remove any spinal subluxations.

All our offices offer massages to help with back spasms! Call the Southeastern Healthcare office most convenient to you, we have 7 locations in the Wilmington, Jacksonville, Leland and Shallotte area!

At Southeastern Healthcare, we are here to help! Call us at (910) 790-3666

What is “Radiating Pain” and How Can Chiropractic Help?

 

 

If you have ever had a case of sciatica, in which pain seems to start in your lower back or hip and radiate down your leg to your foot, you have suffered an example of what is referred to as “radiating pain.” The medical term for pain the starts in one area and travels to another is radiculitis, and although it is not the most common form of nerve pain, it causes a lot of misery for those who suffer from it.

True radiating pain is usually the result of a nerve or nerve root in the spinal cord being subject to pressure of some sort, whether through inflammation, injury or spinal subluxation. For example, a herniated disk may create radiating pain because it has bulged out of its normal place and may impinge on a nerve root extending from the spinal cord.

The nerves that run the length of the spinal cord from neck to tailbone and branch out to the left and right are called the radicular nerves. When these are injured or compressed they are more likely to radiate pain than the other types of nerves in our body. If there is a neck injury, for example, pain may radiate down the arm to the fingertips. The pain of something like tendonitis, however, is from pressure on the nerves in the elbow and forearm and does not generally radiate. Some people think they have radiating pain, but the pain is instead often just due to myofascial trigger points that cause a more diffuse pain that seems to radiate out from one area. This is caused by tense muscles and scar tissue that has built up trapping nerves in the muscles, tendons and ligaments.

Chiropractors are expert at treating radiating pain. Your chiropractor will first take a thorough history, examine you, and may order diagnostic tests such as an x-ray or an MRI to determine if your problem may be due to a herniated disc, spinal stenosis or another condition that is not apparent from a physical examination.

A chiropractic adjustment can address any spinal misalignments that may be impinging on spinal nerves, taking the pressure off the nerve and reducing pain. In addition, many chiropractors utilize additional therapies that can free trapped nerves, such as the Active Release Technique (ART). A chiropractic ART therapist will be able to break up the fibrous adhesions and scar tissue that has built up in the soft tissue, freeing trapped nerves.

If you are experiencing “radiating pain” please call the Southeastern Healthcare office nearest you. We have 7 locations including Jacksonville, Shallotte, Leland and 4 in the Wilmington area! Phone numbers and addresses on on the website!

At Southeastern Healthcare, we are here to help! Call us at (910) 790-3666

 

What’s the Difference Between an MD and a DC?

It’s important to know the basic differences between an MD (Medical Doctor) and a DC (Doctor of Chiropractic) so that you understand the unique role that each type of medical professional plays in helping you to maintain or regain your health.

MDs and DC’s are both licensed healthcare providers. They examine, diagnose and treat patients. However, most MD’s have more hours of training in physiology, whereas DCs typically have more hours of anatomy training. Their methods of practice may help explain this difference in emphasis. DCs are experts in musculoskeletal health and general wellness. Like an MD, a DC will use diagnostic imaging, lab tests, clinical exams and questionnaires to determine a diagnosis, but the course of treatment will be different. MDs tend to prescribe pharmaceuticals and surgery to treat patients, whereas DCs use a more holistic approach involving a variety of hands-on treatments as well as advice on diet and exercise.

Office visits are also often quite different experiences. On a typical visit to an MD, you will likely be asked by a nurse or assistant to fill out paperwork and provide information about your condition. Then the MD will visit you, look at the information, perhaps perform a brief clinical examination, and quickly prescribe a treatment. In the course of doing this, most doctors will take only a small amount of time to understand your overall health picture. And treatment will usually involve drugs and/or medical procedures.

It is not uncommon for patients to have a more personal relationship with their DC than with their MD. Visits to a DC also tend to be more involved. The chiropractor will speak with you at length about not only your physical symptoms, but your lifestyle habits as well. He or she will examine you, perform any necessary tests, discuss possible treatment options, and provide appropriate manual therapies. Together, these treatment methods are sometimes referred to as “physical medicine”.  These may include targeted spinal adjustments, therapeutic massage, disc decompression, laser therapy, electrical stimulation and hot and cold treatments as well as structured exercise and stretching programs. In addition, the chiropractor may also make specific suggestions about your nutrition, day-to-day environment and physical activity.

In general, musculoskeletal problems (particularly those related to back, neck and joint pain) are better treated by a DC. However, many chiropractors have also developed specialized expertise now the basic differences between an MD (Medical Doctor) and a DC (Doctor of Chiropractic) so that you understand the unique role that each type of medical professional plays in helping you to maintain or regain your health.

Call one of our 7 locations at Southeastern Healthcare for more information and all your Chiropractic needs!

 

 

The Benefits of Iron

If you’ve been feeling sluggish or short of energy lately, it may be that you haven’t been getting enough iron in your diet. Iron is a mineral necessary for the production of energy and the transport of oxygen throughout the body. According to the World Health Organization, approximately 80% of the world’s population has an iron deficiency, with as many as 30% having anemia as a result. However, too much iron in your diet isn’t a good thing either—it can be toxic and may even result in death.

The red blood cells that deliver oxygen to every one of our body’s other cells require iron for their production. Nearly two thirds of the body’s iron is stored in the blood in the form of oxygen-transporting hemoglobin. So if levels of iron are low, the body does not get enough oxygen to be able to function properly. This is why those with anemia (a deficiency in red blood cells) feel chronically tired. Without enough oxygen, the body has little energy. A deficiency in iron also compromises the immune system, leaving you more vulnerable to viruses and bacterial infections

The recommended daily intake of iron is as follows:

  • Infants 7 – 12 months: 11 mg/day
  • Children 1 – 3 years: 7 mg/day
  • Children 4 – 8 years: 10 mg/day

Iron can be categorized into two types: heme iron and non-heme iron. Although both are important, meeting your daily iron requirement with heme iron is easier because it is more easily absorbed by the body. Approximately 25%-30% of heme iron is absorbed from the foods we eat, whereas only around 3% of non-heme iron is absorbed.
Children, people with gastrointestinal disorders, the elderly, and women of childbearing age are at the greatest risk of iron deficiency. Since the body has the ability to store iron, a deficiency does not usually happen overnight. But if someone is unable to replenish their store of iron (during famine or illness, for example) then they may develop anemia. Heme iron is only found

in animal products such as meat, poultry and fish, which is why vegetarians and vegans can be at greater risk of iron deficiency. Non-heme iron can be found in vegetables, particularly dark green leafy vegetables, and pulses such as beans and lentils.
To encourage iron absorption, eat foods that are high in vitamin C and high in iron at the same time. Vitamin C aids in the absorption of non-heme iron. There are also some foods that hinder non-heme iron absorption, such as foods high in tannins (like tea and coffee), calcium, phytates (legumes and whole grains) and polyphenols. Because tea and coffee inhibit iron absorption, they should not be drunk during meals.
If your doctor finds that you have low iron levels, he or she may prescribe a supplement. Always take exactly the amount prescribed, as it is possible to take too much, which can cause severe organ damage. Those with the disorder hemochromatosis, a condition in which the body stores excessive amounts of iron, must have their blood tested regularly so as to avoid organ damage.

Call Southeastern Healthcare for more information at 910-

Look Who Else Uses Chiropractic Care: Elite Cheerleaders

Sprains, strains and lower back pain are very, very common among cheerleaders. In fact, the National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury Research lists cheerleading as the most dangerous sport for women. Anyone who watches elite cheerleaders in action, either during a game or at competitions, has some idea why this might be.

Cheerleading is a very physically demanding sport, particularly when participants perform routines that involve gymnastics or acrobatics or execute maneuvers that require them to support a lot of weight. Performing well as a cheerleader requires excellent balance, strength and range of motion. Chiropractic care can help prevent injuries and—when they do happen—can help cheerleaders recover more quickly.

In fact, chiropractic has made such a difference in professional cheerleading that the Washington Redskins Cheerleaders joined the Foundation for Chiropractic Progress to let others know how much chiropractic care helps both their performance and their musculoskeletal health. Both cheerleader training and the performances during the game take a toll on the body. Redskins cheerleader Amanda Mitchell says, “People don’t view cheerleading as a competitive sport, but you have to try out every single year in this industry and it takes a large toll on your body. Without chiropractic care I would not have made it past my first year. After receiving treatment, I began to notice the pain starting to subside as well as improvement in flexibility during performances.”

And when injuries occur—and they are very common among cheerleaders—getting back in condition as soon as possible is important. Professional cheerleaders find that with the help of chiropractic care they can be back in performance mode much faster. According to Redskins cheerleader Chelsea Causey, “I’ve experienced multiple injuries during my career as a cheerleader—everything from pulled hamstrings to sprains and even lower back pain—setbacks that chiropractic care has always helped me recover from.”

Studies show that chiropractic is an effective tool to prevent and treat sports-related injuries. One study published in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics was performed by Dr. Jay Greenstein and colleagues on 43 professional football cheerleaders who underwent a season-long chiropractic hamstring intervention. Hamstring and other lower body strains account for half of all cheerleading injuries. Greenstein notes that “After the season closed, we found that those who had reported hamstring injury-related pain between June and September showed a significant decrease in pain after receiving treatment.”

Dr. Alex Vidan, chiropractor to the St. Louis Rams cheerleaders says, “The benefits of chiropractic treatment are felt immediately. Along with providing relief from pain, chiropractic also facilitates healing, which means there’s less downtime after an injury.” He added, “The squad performs a lot more than people think, making special appearances, and there’s a lot of travel involved, all of which can take their toll physically. The Rams cheerleaders, like many others, have found that chiropractic methods, which are gentle and noninvasive, offer relief and foster sound physical health.”

At Southeastern Healthcare, we are here to help! Call us at (910) 796-3666

Vertigo Causes and Treatment Options

If you’ve ever felt the sensation of spinning or that the world is spinning around you, you’ve experienced what is sometimes called vertigo. It is most often due to a problem with the inner ear. The vestibular system in our inner ear is responsible for keeping us aware of where we are located in space. The vestibulocochlear nerve sends signals to the brain about our body’s balance and position, and if this system is disturbed in any way, vertigo is often the result.

In addition to the spinning sensation, symptoms of vertigo include feelings of nausea, vomiting, sweating, difficulty standing, feeling unbalanced, headache, ringing in the ears or hearing loss, and abnormal or jerking eye movements.

Among the most common causes of vertigo are the following:

  1. Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) – Probably the most common cause of vertigo, particularly in those over age 60, BPPV is due to calcium carbonate particles called canaliths becoming dislodged and irritating the inner ear.
  2. Labyrinthitis or vestibular neuritis – Infections of the inner ear that are often due to a virus cause inflammation in the area of the vestibulocochlear nerve, sending inaccurate signals to the brain about the body’s position. This is why people with inner ear infections are often dizzy or walk in an unsteady manner.
  3. Ménière’s disease – A chronic inner ear disorder with symptoms including dizziness, tinnitus and hearing loss that can come and go.
  4. Migraine headaches – Vestibular migraines are migraines with vertigo involved, and those with balance disorders often have a family history of migraines.
  5. Stroke, tumor or multiple sclerosis – These are much less common causes of vertigo, involving problems with the brain and central nervous system.

involving problems with the brain and central nervous system.
One of the simplest treatments for BPPV is something known as a canalith repositioning procedure. This procedure moves the calcium particles out from the inner ear’s sensing tubes and into a different part of the inner ear where they cause no harm and are safely absorbed. Doctors, chiropractors and other therapists who are familiar with the procedure can perform the procedure in a matter of minutes.

One of the most commonly used of the procedures is called the Epley Maneuver. This treatment involves the patient lying on his or her back on a bed or table. The patient’s head should be hanging slightly over the edge and tilted 45 degrees toward the problem ear. The physician then moves the patient’s head into four different positions for a couple of minutes each until it is tilted 90 degrees toward the other ear. This procedure has been found to cure vertigo from BPPV approximately 90% of the time.

Vertigo due to inner ear infections will usually clear up once the infection is gone. Medicines are sometimes prescribed to help reduce symptoms of vertigo that are related to migraines or Ménière’s disease.

Top 10 Stretches for All-Around Flexibility

Stretching is important to maintaining flexibility. If you study animals such as cats and dogs, you will notice that they stretch on a frequent basis to keep their muscles supple and limber. Stretching helps to maintain a good range of motion and can help prevent you from muscle injuries such as sprains and strains. Following are our top 10 stretches for all-around flexibility.

  1. Knee-to-chest stretch – While lying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor, bring one knee up to your chest and hold it there with your hands. Repeat with the other leg. This stretches the muscles in your lower back, relieving tension.
  2. Piriformis stretch – Again, lying on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor, bring your outer left ankle to rest on your right knee. Then slowly pull the right knee in toward the chest with your hands clasped behind your lower right thigh. Repeat with the other leg. This stretches the outer thigh and buttock muscles.
  3. Hamstring stretch – Lying on your back with your legs stretched out in front of you, lift one leg off the floor while holding the back of your thigh with clasped hands, keeping the leg slightly bent at the knee. Pull until your leg is at a 90° angle with your body. Repeat on other side.
  4. Side stretch – Standing with feet shoulder-width apart, stretch your left arm over your head and slowly bend over to the right until you feel the stretch in your left side that should extend from your left hip all the way to your wrist. Repeat on the other side. This improves mobility in your rib cage and improves overall flexibility.
  5. Overhead triceps stretch – Raise both arms above your head with elbows bent and hands just touching your upper back. With your left hand, pull your right elbow back until you feel the stretch in the back of your right arm. Repeat on the other side.
  6. Chest and biceps stretch – Standing next to a wall, raise your bent arm to shoulder height and place your forearm flat against the wall. Slowly turn your body away from the wall while keeping your forearm stationary, until you feel the stretch in your chest and upper arm. Repeat on the other side.
  7. Calf stretch – Standing about two feet from a wall, place your hands against the wall and extend one leg back, putting your heel flat on the floor and bending your other leg. Repeat with other leg.
  8. Quadriceps stretch – While standing, bend one leg back at the knee, then grab and hold your ankle, with your foot pulled as close to the back of the thigh as possible. You can grasp a chair or use the wall for balance, if necessary.
  9. Hip stretch – Making sure that your knee is adequately cushioned, go down on one knee, with your other leg in front of you bent at a 90° angle. Push slightly forward with your hips, which stretches the hip flexors. Be sure to keep the forward knee above your ankle.
  10. Lateral stretch – While grasping a pole or other secure stationary object with both hands at about waist height, bend your knees and lean back until your weight is supported by your arms. This will stretch your upper back and shoulders.

For best results, these stretches should be performed when your body is warm. If you just want to stretch without having exercised first, experts suggest that you at least warm up for 10 or 15 minutes first to avoid the risk of injury. Hold each stretch for 30 to 60 seconds. Ease in and out of stretches slowly and breathe normally throughout your stretching routine. Be sure not to bounce as you stretch, as it can cause small tears to your muscles.

At Southeastern Healthcare, we are here to help! Call us at (910) 796-3666

Fitness Club Membership in the US: What the Numbers Tell Us

If you are thinking about joining a fitness club to get in shape, you are not alone. Over 50 million Americans belong to a health club, according to the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA), and the numbers are rising by approximately 10 percent every year. And it’s no surprise, with more people becoming health-conscious and doing what they can to reduce their risk of obesity and heart disease, which go hand-in-hand with a sedentary lifestyle.

Following are a few interesting facts regarding fitness club membership in the US:

  1. The average fitness club member will go to the gym twice a week.
  2. The primary reason why people do not join a fitness club or quit their membership is that they feel it is too expensive. The average monthly cost of a fitness club membership is $55, and of that amount, $39 of it is wasted because the average member doesn’t use it. Amazingly, an estimated 67% to 80% of those with a gym membership never use it at all.
  3. There are nearly 30,000 health clubs throughout the US, which generate over $21 billion in combined revenue each year.
  4. Approximately a fifth of those with a fitness club membership are over age 55. The primary reason why 90% of them join a gym is that they are concerned about staying healthy, whereas the primary cause for 16-20 year-olds is to feel better about themselves. More gyms are now offering age-specific programs to accommodate the needs of different age groups.
  5. The greater your income, the more time you spend at the gym. A study of 1,600 fitness club members found that those members earning the least money went to the gym for one hour per week, whereas members with the highest incomes were at the gym for three hours per week.
  6. A few studies have found that the reason people go to the gym is not necessarily for fitness. Fully half of fitness club members go to the gym to meet with friends and look for potential dates. The gym may be an effective way to meet a partner, as a study conducted on 2,000 members of one gym found that over 10% of the members were living with someone they had met at the gym.
  7. In 1999, 4 million Americans used a personal trainer at the gym. This number had increased to 6.5 million in 2012.
  8. According to IHRSA, the top 10 fitness club activities, in order of preference, are stair-climbing machines, yoga, low impact aerobics, stationary cycling, abdominal machines, stretching, elliptical trainers, resistance machines, treadmills and free weights (hand weights, dumbbells and barbells).

At Southeastern Healthcare, we are here to help! Call us at (910) 796-3666

What Are Nutraceuticals?

Many people are becoming disillusioned with a 21st century pharmaceutical industry that promotes taking a different drug for every ailment from anxiety to zits. Others question the drug approval process used by the FDA and are bothered by the fact that safety studies are performed by the pharmaceutical companies themselves. They point out that the long-term effects of new medications are often uncertain even after testing, and that the negative side effects can be serious.

At the same time, researchers and clinicians continue to discover new links between what we eat and drink and our overall health and well-being. Even among the general public, the fundamental importance of nutrition is becoming clearer and clearer as we face a growing number of so-called “lifestyle diseases” that are caused (at least in part) by the type, quality and amount of food that we eat.

So it’s not surprising that scientists are trying to improve our understanding of food and to make its benefits more accessible to more people. As this happens, it seems likely that we will find ourselves turning to “nutraceuticals” to prevent or treat our illnesses, even if we’ve never heard that word before or don’t know what it means.

Dr. Stephen DeFelice, from the Foundation for Innovation in Medicine, first coined the term nutraceutical (sometimes also spelled nutriceutical) in 1989. He defined it as meaning “food, or parts of food, that provide medical or health benefits, including the prevention and treatment of disease.” This definition includes not only special fortified foods, but also herbal products, dietary supplements, genetically modified foods and foods processed to include specific nutrients.

Studies have shown that some nutraceuticals are indeed effective in promoting certain health benefits. However, the regulation of some of these substances is inconsistent, and not every nutraceutical product claiming to have health benefits can actually support those claims. For instance, the vitamin D added to milk that has been proven to help prevent rickets in children (once a widespread problem) can be considered a nutraceutical.  So can the active cultures in some types of yogurt. But the claim that raspberry ketones will help you lose weight, as touted by the popular Dr. Oz, is tenuous at best. So it may be a nutraceutical without the health benefit.

Nevertheless, some nutraceuticals are considerably better for your health than taking a drug. Cultures the world over have been using natural food and herbal remedies for centuries, often with great results and no negative side effects. It is important, however, to judge which are safe to take, and in which amounts.

Just because a food or supplement is “natural” does not necessarily mean it is safe for you. It is important to consult with a health professional as to which nutraceuticals may be right for your particular condition and check to ensure that the manufacturer has used quality ingredients in the production of the nutraceutical. Because these products are largely unregulated, the ability to enforce standards (in particular, the source and amount of active ingredient) is more limited than what we’re accustomed to in the world of pharmaceuticals. So if you’re taking horsetail to help with your hair growth, some supplements may contain 7% and some 10%. Differences like this can make matter a lot when it comes to effectiveness and safety depending on the nutriceutical involved.

It is generally healthiest to get the nutrients you need by following a varied diet rich in whole foods. However, if this is not possible, neutraceuticals may be the next best thing and may help you to avoid the health risks and expense associated with pharmaceuticals.

At Southeastern Healthcare, we are here to help! Call us at (910) 796-3666