Dr. Bell's Blog

A Beginners Guide To Chiropractic

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For some of you, including myself, you can’t imagine living a life without regular chiropractic check-ups. The truth of the matter however is that the vast majority of the population has either never been to the chiropractor, or has very little experience with it. A sizable percentage of the new patients that I see at the office have never been to the chiropractor. As a result there are quite a few misconceptions out there about what chiropractic is. We are going to take a closer look at what exactly a chiropractor does (and doesn’t do), what to expect at an initial visit, what a chiropractic adjustment is and feels like, and who can benefit from receiving care.

The Truth and The Myth

What is true is that a chiropractors main focus is on your spine and nervous system. As a result many think chiropractic is solely for neck pain, back pain, and headaches. It is true that we help many people with these problems, but there is so much more to chiropractic than just pain. Our main focus is on your overall health, by maintaining a healthy spine and nervous system along with a healthy lifestyle. The health of your nervous system holds the key to your overall well-being. It is an information super highway, carrying vital messages to every organ and cell in your body. Spinal misalignments can alter the flow of those messages getting where they need to go, and sickness and disease is the result. Removing nerve interference in your spine is what a chiropractor does. This allows for the proper flow of life and health giving messages to reach their destination as intended, and a healthy well-functioning body is the end result.

Does It Hurt?

Your initial visit into the office generally starts with some basic paperwork, a consultation/examination, and any necessary x-rays in order to determine the current health of your spine and nervous system. We will then begin spinal adjustments which are gentle and in most cases completely painless. Most actually really enjoy getting adjusted, as it can feel quite good….especially afterwards. Chiropractic adjustments can be done from a wide variety of methods including using a extremely gentle adjusting tool, and traditional manual adjusting. Whatever the method, there is something for everyone and virtually every spine.

Who Should See A Chiropractor?

The short answer is that everyone, regardless of age, can benefit from regular spinal check-ups. We regularly see everyone from newborns to the elderly in the office. I myself have been under regular chiropractic care since I was a child. Our goal with every patient is to make them the best version of themselves they can be. Making sure your spine and nervous system are functioning at an optimal level should be high on the priority list of anyone that wants to live a long and healthy life.

Some Closing Thoughts…

Chiropractic is not intended to be a substitute for your primary care physician. However, adding a chiropractor to your health care team may help you live the healthy life you have always wanted. We may work with the spine, but we are not necessarily back pain specialists. We simply “turn the power on” inside the body in order to help you….

LIVE well. BE well.

Posture: The Window To Your Spine

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Poor posture is now approaching epidemic proportions in society.  People are not only sitting more than we used to, but are also using a phone/tablet roughly 5 or more hours per day according to the latest research. This equates to approximately one third of your waking hours spent looking down at a screen.  This is troubling for a variety of reasons, but lets look at the implications this and other postures can have on your overall health.  

Why Good Posture Is So Important

Nobel Prize recipient Dr. Roger Sperry calls the spine "the motor that drives the brain". According to his research “Ninety percent of the stimulation and nutrition to the brain is generated by the movement of the spine.” That is, 90% of brain energy goes into processing and maintaining the body’s relationship with gravity. Therefore, the worse your posture is, the more energy your brain/body has to expend to maintain your posture.  This leaves us with less and less energy available to do every other necessary activity such as thinking, immunity, metabolizing food, etc..  In a nut shell, poor posture can drastically effect your overall health.  Another negative effect is on the overall structural integrity of your spine.  If you put a lot of awkward stress on your car tires from an alignment problem, they will wear out quickly.  The same is true with your spine.  Poor posture creates an increased stress load on your spine, and rapid deterioration of the bones and surrounding soft tissue. 

Causes and Corrections

The two most common causes of poor posture in the world we live in today are sitting too much and excessive smart phone use.

When it comes to sitting, the solution is obvious but not always easy....stop sitting so much.  We were not designed to sit like many of us do today.  Understandably, some of you have jobs that make a certain amount of sitting inevitable.  Make a point however, to set a reminder every half hour or so to get up, move around and stretch for a minute or too.  Secondly, when you get home from work, DO NOT go back to sitting.  Do some physical work around the house, or go for a long walk with your family, but do not get lulled in to sitting even more.

Phone/tablet use is a topic all on it's own, but lets look at the main highlights.  For starters, be sure and hold your phone in a place that allows you to look straight out at it, and not downward.  The typical position you see most people in while using there phone (head looking down) puts an extreme amount of stress on your neck and upper back.  This stress can cause headaches, neck/arm pain, upper back pain, and ultimately a rapid accumulation of damage in your spine.  Because of phone use now starting at such a young age, I am beginning to see the effects of this posture in very young kids.  This is scary!  Watch how your child is using their phone/tablet, and also limit the number of hours they are on it in a given day.

You see, your parents and grandparents were right when they were always telling you to sit up straight.  They may not have known specifically why, or how important it really was, but they were indeed correct.  Good posture will make you feel better, your body function better, and ultimately help you to...

LIVE well.  BE well.

Chiropractic and Your Digestion

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One of the more common secondary problems I talk to patient's about in the office is problems with their digestion. The National Institute of Health estimates approximately 70 million people in the U.S. suffer from digestive problems, accounting for roughly 20% of the population. This is a staggering number.

Let's take a look at some of the more common types problems, traditional approaches to solve them, and what chiropractic can bring to the table that is all together different.

The Most Common:  Acid Reflux and Indigestion

So many people suffer from this problem it is now bordering on "normal"....which it is NOT.  The pharmaceutical industry sells nearly $100 million in drugs per year simply to treat digestive problems.  Do these drugs ever truly fix the problem?  I think you know that answer.  It has become a very profitable business for them.  Aside from prescription medication, there are a wide array of over-the-counter drugs also available including things such as Rolaids and Tums.  They all do the same thing, they aim to treat the symptom, yet ignore the cause of the problem.  

The Most Serious:  Crohn's Disease

Crohn's Disease is a type of Inflammatory Bowl Syndrome (IBS) involving chronic ulceration of the digestive tract.  This is a long term health condition, and one that is potentially left threatening if left untreated.  With this condition, your body is trying to heal the ulcerations, and ultimately creates scar tissue.  This scar tissue severely limits the normal function of your colon.  The most common treatments for this problem are anti-inflammatory medication, anti-spasmodic medication, as well as surgery.  The continued issue once again is they continue to ignore what is causing this condition in the first place.

How We View These Problems in Chiropractic

As a chiropractor, our approach and philosophy around these problems is starkly different than the traditional approach.  We are always in search of a cause, and not in treating the symptoms.  First and foremost, we aim to restore normal nerve supply to your digestive organs.  This will allow the necessary communication from your brain to those organs on how to function normally.  We do this through specific adjustments to your spine in the affected areas.  Generally, it involves nervous system interference in either you middle back, lower back, or upper portion of your neck.  In any event, proper nerve supply to your digestive organs is paramount to them functioning in a normal manner.  Finally, we do not discount the role of a healthy well balanced diet.  You can't feed your body garbage all day, every day, and not expect some sort of consequence.  A diet full of whole and healthy foods (mostly fruit and vegetables), along with very little processed foods, is also an important component.

In closing, the solution to many health problems lies not in external solutions, but rather getting your body healthy and well functioning on the inside.  Many of us are always looking for the quick fix.....and it is rarely there.  Getting and staying healthy takes consistent work.  No one said it is easy, but the payoff is well worth it so that you can...

LIVE well.  BE well.   

 

 

What You Think You Need vs. What You NEED

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This conversation can be far reaching into many aspects of your life.  You may very likely think of your son or daughter saying "Mom...but I really need that toy!"  Throughout life we are constantly faced with choices on what to do or not to do.  These decisions are made based on a variety of factors, not all of which allow us to make a decision based on what is in our best interest.  I recently wrote a blog on the importance of mindset when it comes to your health, and whether you are approaching your health from a position of faith or fear.  This is indeed one of the factors in our decision making, but lets take a look at some others...

Short term vs. Long Term

I very often see patients in the office on their first visit who are in a state of crisis because they are in some sort of significant pain.  When this happens, and rightly so, they have a very short term mindset about getting out of pain as quickly as possible.  While helping them with this, I also try and get them to look at the bigger picture, and what they can do long term to help prevent a situation like this from happening again. As the saying goes, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."

Prioritizing

We all lead extremely busy lives. I completely understand this.  Putting other's needs and wants ahead of your own however can lead to an eventual crisis.  This is no more true than when it comes to your health.  Take the time.  Do what is necessary.  You will then have all the time AND health you need to take care of your family.

Misunderstanding

Sometimes the problem is as simple as not having or knowing the right information to make the best choice for yourself and your family.  This is also completely understandable, and it is why I am here to help you make the best informed healthcare choices possible for yourself.  Find a reliable source to help you with your questions (don't believe everything you read on Google).  When all the right information is in front of you, it is always easier to make the right choice.

Finally, in the end, the ball is always in your court to make the final decision.  We can have all the information we need, and the right people around us to help, but you have to deep down want to do the right thing.  Someone forcing you to do something you aren't ready for never has a good long term outcome.  Find your WHY, and the answer will become clear.  When this happens you will take all the right steps to...

LIVE well.  BE well.