Santa Rosa Chiropractor - Dr. David Anderson


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Headaches & Chiropractic

If you have a headache, you’re not alone. Nine out of ten Americans suffer from headaches. Some are occasional, some frequent, some are dull and throbbing, and some cause debilitating pain and nausea.

What do you do when you suffer from a pounding headache? Do you grit your teeth and carry on? Lie down? Pop a pill and hope the pain goes away? There is a better alternative.

Research shows that spinal manipulation – the primary form of care provided by doctors of chiropractic – may be an effective treatment option for tension headaches and headaches that originate in the neck.

A report released in 2001 by researchers at the Duke University Evidence-Based Practice Center in Durham, NC, found that spinal manipulation resulted in almost immediate improvement for those headaches that originate in the neck, and had significantly fewer side effects and longer-lasting relief of tension-type headache than a commonly prescribed medication.

Also, a 1995 study in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics found that spinal manipulative therapy is an effective treatment for tension headaches and that those who ceased chiropractic treatment after four weeks experienced a sustained therapeutic benefit in contrast with those patients who received a commonly prescribed medication.

Headache Triggers

Headaches have many causes, or “triggers.” These may include foods, environmental stimuli (noises, lights, stress, etc.) and/or behaviors (insomnia, excessive exercise, blood sugar changes, etc.). About 5 percent of all headaches are warning signals caused by physical problems.

Ninety-five percent of headaches are primary headaches, such as tension, migraine, or cluster headaches. These types of headaches are not caused by disease. The headache itself is the primary concern.

What Can You Do?

If you spend a large amount of time in one fixed position, such as in front of a computer, on a sewing machine, typing or reading, take a break and stretch every 30 minutes to one hour. The stretches should take your head and neck through a comfortable range of motion.

Low-impact exercise may help relieve the pain associated with primary headaches. However, if you are prone to dull, throbbing headaches, avoid heavy exercise. Engage in such activities as walking and low-impact aerobics.

Avoid teeth clenching. The upper teeth should never touch the lowers, except when swallowing. This results in stress at the temporomandibular joints (TMJ) – the two joints that connect your jaw to your skull – leading to TMJ irritation and a form of tension headaches.

Drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day to help avoid dehydration, which can lead to headaches.

What Can a Doctor of Chiropractic Do?

Perform spinal manipulation or chiropractic adjustments to improve spinal function and alleviate the stress on your system.
Provide nutritional advice, recommending a change in diet and perhaps the addition of B complex vitamins.

Offer advice on posture, ergonomics (work postures), exercises and relaxation techniques. This advice should help to relieve the recurring joint irritation and tension in the muscles of the neck and upper back.

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What is Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is a chronic disorder marked by widespread, unexplained pain in the muscles and joints. It’s not a disease. It’s a syndrome, which is a collection of symptoms that occur together. Although many people think of it as an arthritic condition due to the symptoms, it’s not a type of arthritis.

The condition is often associated with tender points, which are termed “trigger points.” These are places on the body where even light pressure causes pain. According to standards published by the American College of Rheumatology in 1990, a person can be diagnosed with fibromyalgia if they have widespread pain and tenderness in at least 11 of the known 18 trigger points.  Common trigger points include:

  • the back of the head
  • tops of shoulders
  • upper chest
  • hips
  • knees
  • outer elbows

A consistent dull ache through the entire body is also common. People with this disorder may also have:

  • fatigue
  • trouble sleeping
  • headaches
  • depression
  • anxiety

Although the causes are unclear, fibromyalgia flare-ups can be the result of stress, physical trauma, or an apparently unrelated systemic illness like the flu. Symptoms may be a result of the brain and nerves misinterpreting or overreacting to normal pain signals. This could be possibly due to an imbalance in brain chemicals.

Because its symptoms are somewhat subjective and don’t have a clear known cause, fibromyalgia is often misdiagnosed as another disease. This plays a role in some doctors questioning the syndrome altogether. Although it is more widely accepted in medical circles than in the past, there are some doctors and researchers who don’t consider fibromyalgia a legitimate condition. According to the Mayo Clinic, this can increase the chances that someone with the condition will suffer from depression as they struggle with acceptance for their painful symptoms.

Outlook

Treatment of fibromyalgia most often focuses on reducing flare-ups to ease symptoms. This is a long-term condition. Symptoms can be treated but the syndrome never goes away. Pain medication and muscle relaxers can ease discomfort.  Physical therapy, massage, and regular exercise may also reduce pain and help relieve stress.

Things like behavioral therapy can reduce stress that triggers symptoms and depression that often goes with this disorder. A better diet and sleep habits can also lessen the symptoms of fibromyalgia. Patients can find help through their doctor, but also through support groups across the nation.

Many people are able to ease the symptoms of this syndrome. However, a stressful event or trauma could bring them rushing back at any time.

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No Crunch Instrument Adjusting

Dr. David Anderson uses the Impulse method to perform all chiropractic adjustments. The technique uses a small hand held instrument to distribute specific low force adjustments directly to the body.  Doing so helps to re-align the joints, relax tight muscles, and reduce pain and nerve irritation.  The first step in performing the activator method is for the Chiropractor to determine where treatment is needed.  He or she does this by examining the patient’s spinal joint dysfunction, analyzing postural distortions, reviewing X-Rays and /or MRI findings, identifying issues with body mechanics, and testing neurological reflexes.  Once the Doctor determines which part of the body needs treatment, he or she can begin treatment.

Chiropractors are opting to use this method for three reasons;

1.      Low Force:  The Impulse method does not require the patient to have their body “twisted” or “cracked” in order for the spine to be manipulated.

2.      The Speed:  The Impulse instrument produces a thrust that is quicker that the body’s reflexes. This improves the effectiveness of the treatment and requires much less force to accomplish the treatment.

3.      Range of Patients: Because of the accuracy and controlled light force, it is suitable for all types of patients – babies, children and seniors.

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