Debunking The Popular Myths About Chiropractic Part 2

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#3) Chiropractic neck adjustments cause strokesStrokeBrain

            Yikes! This is a scary one and the people who spread this myth are counting on that. There are only a handful of studies that look at this, few of them by testing the anatomical or physiological aspects of the body necessary to scientifically prove a causative effect. Most of these studies come to varied opinions by simply looking at statistics and applying different forms of analysis. Since the estimated risk range is HUGE (1 in 5000 to 1 in 5 million {[i]} depending on who you read) we must carefully read the body of evidence in its entirety before we jump to conclusions, because a range this big is very suspicious and essentially tells us nothing. The most telling study that I have come across is from a Chiropractic school where the least experienced “doctors-to-be” practice on people. If there is any place that would run a high risk it would be in the schools. However Jaskoviak {[ii]} reported that not a single case of stroke occurred in approximately five million cervical “manipulations” at The National College of Chiropractic Clinic from 1965 to 1980.   Not one!

            Everything comes with a risk. That is a fact that cannot be ignored by anyone. Before I go into too much detail lets look at the supposed risk of chiropractic compared to other things that most of us do without giving a second thought. According to www.squidoo.com/oddsdying on the odds of dying:

HomerReeper2Stroke in the general population 1 in 23

Motor-vehicle accidents over-all 1 in 87

Complications of medical care 1 in 1,313

Fire in building or structure 1 in 1,451

Drowning while in natural water 1 in 2,370

Fall involving furniture 1 in 4,225

Storm 1 in 4,346

Struck by lightening in your lifetime (Est. 80 years) 1 in 5000

Drowning while in swimming-pool 1 in 6,258

Drowning while in bath-tub 1 in 11,042

Average of the insanely large range from “scientific” studies of chiropractic and stroke 1 in 2,497,500

            Now I am not statistician but I can’t figure out how the risk of dying from stroke being 1 in 23 in the general population and the absolute worse estimate for stroke due to a neck manipulation being 1 in 5000 can somehow show chiropractic to be dangerous. If anything it seems to show that we are more likely to drop on the sidewalk from a stroke than on a chiropractic table by thousands of times over. But then again, a chiropractic adjusting table is technically furniture and since that is statistically more dangerous than the adjustment from the chiropractor, it may increase the risk.

For the sake of argument though, let us pretend that the risk is around 1 in 5000. Think of how many chiropractors would have strokes victims in their offices since the average chiropractor delivers around 5200 neck adjustments a year. That averages out to at least one per DrSyringeyear per chiropractor. Think of how much malpractice insurance would cost for chiropractors if every chiropractor was causing one stroke per year! In reality medical malpractice insurance is at least 30x more expensive than chiropractic malpractice insurance. So if $$$ talks then chiropractors are at least 30x safer.

 

One of the major logical errors that we need to be careful of is mistaking correlation with cause and effect. For example, when the weather gets hot more people choose to drink lemonade. Since August is a hotter month in America the increase in lemonade consumption has a correlation to the month of August. However, it would be silly to say that it is the actual month of August that causes the lemonade to jump in peoples’ mouths. This is basically the same with strokes and Chiropractic. Most people who are in the early stages of a stroke start off having headache, shoulder, and/or neck pain. These are very common reasons for seeing a chiropractor. So these people, who are already in the process of having a stroke, walk into the chiropractic office and guess what follows. There may be an argument for a correlation with chiropractic and stroke but there is absolutely no scientific evidence that chiropractic adjustments causes strokes.
ThinkDangerous

The second logical error we need to be careful of would be to only read part of the information and then jump to a conclusion. The majority of the studies that show a higher risk than is reported in reality do not just look at chiropractors. According to Terrett ([iii]); “manipulations” administered by a Kung Fu practitioner, GPs, osteopaths, physiotherapists, a wife, a blind masseur, and an Indian barber were incorrectly attributed to chiropractors.” We must recognize that an MD, DO, or DPT can take a weekend course on “manipulation” then proceed to adjust everyone who comes into their office. However, chiropractors train for a minimum of three years to adjust correctly. This is a huge difference in the amount of training that each profession receives. Personally I would never let a medical doctor adjust me. I would also never let a chiropractor remove my appendix or prescribe me drugs simply because that is not what they are trained for and thus the risks go up.

Here is the bottom line, when all of the literature is read thoroughly; zero scientific evidence can be found that shows chiropractic neck adjustments causes strokes. This is simply a case of fear mongering. When the absolute worst-case scenario is about as likely as getting struck by lightning and in the best case we are 25x more likely to be killed by an asteroid, then chiropractic seems extremely safe by comparison.

[i] Chestnut J: The stroke issue: Paucity of valid data, plethora of unsubstantiated conjecture. J Manipulative Physiol Ther 2004;27;368-72. http://www.jmptonline.org/article/S0161- 4754(04)00054-5/fulltext

 

[ii] Jaskoviac P: Complications arising from manipulation of the cervical spine. J Manipulative Physiol Ther 1980;3:213. Not available online.

 

[iii] Terrett AGJ: Misuse of the literature by medical authors in discussing spinal manipulative therapy injury. J Manipulative Physiol Ther 1995;18:203. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7636409

 

 

#4) Chiropractic adjustments hurt

Unfortunately, of all the myths I have discussed so far, this one is the most likely to be true. A good chiropractic adjustment will most of the time feel like a huge relief. However there are some factors that can make this myth true like:Ouch

1) The skill of the chiropractor at finding the right place to adjust

2) The severity of the subluxation

3) The skill of the chiropractor at delivering the adjustment

4) The ability of the patient to relax

5) How much pain the patient is in to begin with

6) How much dysfunction the patient has to begin with

A great chiropractor can make the most difficult adjustment easy and comfortable but a poor chiropractor can make the easiest adjustment very uncomfortable. It greatly depends on the skill of the chiropractor and how good of a relationship between the patient and the chiropractor. That is why when people ask me what to look for in a chiropractor I always start with the most important factor; How much do you trust the person with the chiropractic degree?

Your relationship with your chiropractor plays a big factor in how easy it is to relax right before the adjustment. Since you cannot control how the chiropractor adjusts the best factor you have in your control is your ability to relax. Stress:RelaxThe more relaxed your muscles are the easier it is for your body to correctly receive the adjustive force. This is why some chiropractors recommend receiving a massage before an adjustment. However I totally disagree. A good chiropractor should be able to place your body into a position that is easy to relax into and deliver the adjustment faster than your muscles can tense up. I feel it is laziness on the part of the chiropractor to recommend massage first. If the chiropractic adjustment restores the proper communication between our brain and body then it would make more sense to have your brain fully in charge of the muscles before trying to get them to relax with massage. Otherwise you will be fighting against the massage therapist rather than working together.CrabPinch

The next thing to remember is that there are multiple ways to accomplish something. It is your responsibility to let your chiropractor know that what they are doing makes you uncomfortable and you would like them to try it a different way. A good chiropractor should be able to accommodate this. Again, the more you relax the better so if you are being positioned in a way that makes it more difficult to let go then say something.

One last factor that is not in anyone’s control is the amount of pain that someone comes in with. The more pain you are in before the adjustment the more uncomfortable the adjustment might be but the more relief you will feel after. On the opposite hand, the more dysfunction someone has before the adjustment the more discomfort they might feel after the adjustment. Healing takes time and that time is not always comfortable. Think back to when you were a child if you experienced “growing” pains. Many times our brains will send us signals to tell us to ReduceSpeedslow down so our body can heal, grow, or reorganize. If our brain has been having trouble communicating with our body for a long time then after an adjustment, when the flow of information has been restored, the brain will have a better picture of how it needs to organize the body. Once it gets to work, many times, it needs us to stop stressing our body for a while and thus it triggers pain or discomfort to slow us down. One of my favorite chiropractic quotes; “Chiropractic is designed to help you function better not necessarily to help you feel better.” Now improved function will eventually lead to improved feelings but not always instantaneously. This is another reason that my family uses chiropractic to maintain function rather than to restore dysfunction after it has set in.

 

What are your thoughts? Leave a comment below – I’d love to hear from you.
– Dr. Tad

 

 

Why practicing good posture is NOT important.

If some of you are reading this and scratching your head as to where the heck do I get off saying that practicing good posture isn’t important, hear me out first. Naturally having good posture is a sign of a healthy functional brain and body. Posture is supposed to be a subconscious product of good proprioception (meaning your brain knows where your joints are in space), balance, coordination, and muscular function. Poor posture is a symptom of one or all of these areas being weak. Thinking that we can change our posture by consciously moving our body into the position we think it should be in totally misses the underlying problem.

Since having perfect posture is a sign of perfect balance and coordination, if we want to have good posture (and all of us should strive for that goal) then we have to start at the source.

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If you have to sit all day sit on a ball…preferably outside. LOL

DrTadSchexnailder 41. Work on your balance. Please refer to my previous blog post about balance, but to sum it up; Balance is the foundation under the neurological function of coordination. If you want the coordination of good posture then balance must be practiced and maintained. Just so you know that I am practicing what I preach; nearly every day I stand on a fit-ball and do slow steady squats. I am currently working on the ability to stand and squat on the ball with my eyes closed.  I also practice on a wobble board with my eyes closed and when I sit to write these blogs it is on a fit-ball.

DON'T stretch the areas of your body that stay stretched all day.
DON’T stretch the areas of your body that stay stretched all day.

2. Stretch, but think first! Stretching is good only if the muscles you are stretching need to be elongated. For instance, if your job requires you to sit all day then stretching your back, buttocks, top of your hips, back of your neck and shoulders is counter productive. They get stretched all day long!

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Instead, think about the muscles that are shortened by sitting with your arms in front of you like the front of your hips, your chest, your stomach, the front of your neck, the back of your knees. These are the muscles that need to be reminded to lengthen while the opposite muscles that need to be compress and shorten.

 

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3. Relax and do it regularly. Get a massage, meditate, or join a yoga class. Remember, every muscle has an opposite in the body. When one moves its opponent must relax in cooperation. Relaxation is the key to efficient effective movement as well as strength and flexibility. If you are fighting your opposing muscles plus gravity then you will not be able to maintain good posture. Relaxation is a practice and unless we do it regularly we can’t expect to do it well.

4. Practice good breathing techniques. Take slow deep breaths all the way down to your belly button. Short shallow breathing is a contributing factor not only to poor posture but also to neck pain, shoulder pain, memory loss, and anxiety.

5. Get lots of rest, exercise, water, and sunshine. Without these, depression is sure to follow. Anyone can spot a depressed person by their posture: shoulders forward, head down, slouching. Never underestimate the effect emotions have on our body. Set yourself up for emotional health by keeping yourself active and passionate about life. Thinking positively is good but it is hard to do so in an unhealthy body.

Fats

6. Feed your brain. Eat lots of healthy fats and proteins while eliminating artificial colors, sweeteners, and preservatives.

7. Get regularly checked for subluxations by your chiropractor. A subluxation is a joint that is slightly chiropractic_symbol_fwdisplaced or moving in a way that causes distortion of the information coming to or leaving the brain. Unless you can move one back bone at a time then you might need some help. Your chiropractor is specially trained to do just that. Due to the amazing adaptation ability of our bodies, subluxations usually go unnoticed until they build up to the point where our bodies start to get overwhelmed. Don’t wait for the symptoms of pain or disease. Get checked and adjusted (if need be) BEFORE it causes dysfunction in other tissues.

8. Balance your brain. This is possibly more important than practicing balance with our body. A happy healthy brain increases the likelihood that we will have a happy healthy life AND body, since the brain controls the body and all. Do a cross crawl exercise where you move your arm and opposite leg in unison (Such as Right arm, Left leg). Work out both hemispheres of the brain like doing math or cross words for the left hemisphere and doing creative writing or dancing for the right. There are lots of new web sites out there that turn brain exercises into games.

Remember that posture is a symptom of brain function. Don’t focus on the symptoms and ignore the problem. As with anything health related, start from above down and from inside out.

Much Love and always stay adjusted, my friends!

Dr. Tad

Balance ~ A foundational component of your health

So this is my first official blog post. Yay! I can think of no other topic more relevant or foundational in correcting many of the problems our society faces today.

DrTadSchexnailder 2Most of the time when we read something about balance, it mostly has to do with making sure our lives are balanced, our activities are balanced, our thoughts are balanced, our relationships are balanced…. All these are all good things to do, no doubt. However none of these will be accomplished without first addressing the system that controls ALL functions of our body, the nervous system.

The more we practice our balance the more we continue to reinforce proper brain function as well as communication in our nervous system. As a child develops, the higher potions of their brain matures after and in direct relation to the ability to balance. Balance develops first! Connect the dots: keeping our balance strong will keep our coordination and brain function strong for as long as possible.

How to keep physical balance strong:

  1. Make it fun! Any chance that we have to walk, run, jump, bounce, or wiggle should be taken and done with joy and curiosity.
  2. Do more things bare foot. It is a work out for our feet. Our feet are really important for balance and posture of the whole body. Relying on arch support in shoes too often eliminates the need to use our foot muscles. As muscles go; use it or loose it.
  3. Sit less but if you have to sit make it a challenge. You can sit on a fit-ball, an inflatable cushion on your current chair, OR you could rearrange your work space to be able to stand rather than sit
  4. Do things with your eyes closed. When we practice balance with our eyes closed we are relying only on the information sent to our brain from our muscles, joints, and inner ear. If all of these are strong then we will never have to worry about falling or injuring ourselves in regular everyday activities.
  5. Pick up your toes. Keep all of your weight between your heels and the balls of your feet so that your toes are free to move.DrTadSchexnailder 9 Test yourself; when you think about it while you are standing, wiggle your toes. If you have to shift your weight to do so then you know you are off balance.
  6. Practice relaxation. When one muscle tenses, the opposing muscle has to relax in order for you to move in any way. True balance and strength are 50% relaxation.
  7. Feed your nervous system and your muscles. Talk to a nutritionist about healthy fats and proteins that are vital for brain health. Eliminate excess sugar, artificial colors, artificial flavors and preservatives as these are toxic to the brain and nervous system. Some simple suggestions are raw nuts, avocados, coconut oil, olive oil, fresh organic free range meets and eggs, lentils, quinoa, and a big serving of raw organic vegetables on a regular basis.
  8. Stretch. Can you touch your ear to your shoulder without raising your shoulder? If you can’t then start stretching. Lateral bending is important for  healthy spinal curves which are vital for balance and posture.
  9. Get other people involved! We are social creatures and we need human interaction. Get a massage, stretch with some friends, challenge your kids to a balance contest, or join a yoga class. Do something for your health that involves other people and you will be surprised at how fun it can be.
  10. Get adjusted by your chiropractor.  Keeping all of your joints moving properly is an important part of brain health, balance, and posture.

Much Love!

Dr. Tad


What are your thoughts? How do you practice balance? Leave a comment – I’d love to hear from you!