Thursday, May 19, 2011

Props to Chiropractors and Ground-breaking research!

I just want to take the time and dedicate this blog to a former prosector and chiropractic colleague of mine, Dr. Frank Scali and his team for their ground-breaking research that discovered an anatomical connection between the rectus capitis posterior major muscle and the dura mater.

Let me first explain the anatomy behind this research. The rectus capitis posterior major muscle (RCPM for short) is a muscle located in the occipital triangle or at the base of your skull at the top of your neck (see picture). The action of the RCPM muscle is to extend the head (like your looking up at the ceiling) and to rotate the head at one of the superior-most joints of the neck: the atlanto-occipital joint.

The dura mater that this muscle has been found to be connected to is a layer of what is called the meninges. The meninges are known as the coverings for the central nervous system aka the brain and spinal cord, and are made up of 3 layers: the dura mater, the arachnoid mater (named for it's web-like connections to it's adjacent meninges layers) and the pia mater that is directly attached to both the brain and spinal cord (see picture). The dura mater is aptly named because of it's toughness and the need to cut through this layer in order to visualize the contents below.

Now that, hopefully, everyone understands the anatomy let me move on to the significance of this discovery, if you haven't already put two and two together. The connection between the RCPM muscle and dura mater is EXTREMELY signifigant. If the RCPM muscle is in spasm, like it usually is in those with tension headaches, it will pull on the dura mater directly effecting the nervous system! Of course, further research needs to be provoked from this study on how much tension, etc is placed and how much muscle contraction is needed to add tension, etc but this anatomical discovery is astonishing and adds to the great body of knowledge and to the future of research.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Lumbar Disc Injuries

Low back pain is the number one condition treated by chiropractors with lumbar disc injuries leading the differential diagnosis categories for each low back pain patient. Let's first discuss the lumbar spine and it's anatomical details.

The lumbar spine is referred to by the non-medically minded as the low back or the small of your back. The lumbar spine is composed of five vertebrae that when properly aligned form a lordosis or inward curvature. Between each of these vertebrae lie a disc or more properly named an intervertebral disc (IVD). The IVD is made up of two components: the annulus fibrosis and the nucleus pulposus, better described as a jelly doughnut. The jelly in the middle of the doughnut represents the nucleus pulposis which is held in place by the actual doughnut or the annulus fibrosis. The nerves that supply the buttock and entire lower extremity do exit the lumbar spine and are often effected by disc injuries.

There are multiple types of disc injuries: discitis, disc herniation, disc bulges, disc fragmentation/sequestration, disc degeneration, etc. What I'm going to focus on in this blog are the disc bulges and herniations. Symptomatology for these two conditions can be identical in the form of radiating or traveling pain from the lumbar spine to either the buttock, the posterior thigh, the posterior knee, the plantar or bottom of the foot or as far as to the big toe. The causation of this pain pattern is determined by the level of IVD bulge or herniation and it's effect on the correlated nerve exiting at that level (see diagram, nerves are in yellow). Disc injuries can also be asymptomatic or cause little to no pain at all.

Mechanisms of injury can include but are certainly NOT limited to: poor lifting posture, sudden rotational moves, over-use injuries, poor lumbar spine biomechanics/support or can be as simple as bending over and picking up the newspaper. Diagnosis for these problems are often quick and are made through orthopedic testing, radiographs (although the IVD cannot be visualized on xray, the space where the disc lies is), and MRI. MRI is usually the "gold-standard" diagnostic imaging preferred for disc injuries as visualization of the lumbar spine osseous structures (the bones) PLUS the IVDs AND the nerves are all possible.

Treatment options are vast from conservative options ie. chiropractic care via spinal adjustments and therapeutic modalities to radical surgical procedures that can involve removing the disc and fusing the two adjacent vertebral bodies together or an insertion of a disc prosthesis.

For research and more information on what chiropractic can do for disc herniations and injuries see the following research:

Friday, April 8, 2011

Autism & Chiropractic

"Autism is a developmental disorder that appears in the first three years of life, and affects the brain's normal development of social and communication skills."


As part of my second clinical nutrition class, I, along with a select few of my classmates, decided to do our term presentation over autism. As a part of our project, we put together a blog so that our information will be put out on the web. The blog does focus more on the CAM or complementary and alternative medicinal approach to treating autism but does offer both treatment paradigms.

There are many different theories on how autism occurs in a child and they range from genetics, diet, vaccine-induced, tylenol-induced, etc. But what it boils down to is how to treat these children. Chiropractic care has been proven to be an effective treatment, post-adjustment many autistic children are able to focus better, have better eye contact, hand figitting stops and their social skills improve greatly. (Improvement in Autism in a Child Coupled with Reduction in Vertebral Subluxations: A Case Study & Selective Review of the Literature Journal of Pediatric, Maternal & Family Health - Chiropractic ~ Volume 2010 ~ Issue 3 ~ Pages 107 -115 and Improvement in a 3½-year-old autistic child following chiropractic intervention to reduce vertebral subluxation [case report]; J Vert Sublux Res. 2008 ;APR(7):Online access only pp. 1-4)

Spinal adjustments are not the only way that Doctors of Chiropractic address autistic children, dietary and nutritional supports are a MUST. I highly recommend that you visit for more information on all of this, there are GREAT research articles, sources and videos for your educational pleasure.

The month of April is dedicated to Autism Awareness, please educate yourself and earn some compassion for those that you do not understand.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year, New You?

Happy New Year! Felice Anno Nuovo! Gelukkige Nuwe Jaar! Guten Rutsch! In whichever language is your choice :)

January 1st is infamous for "resolutions" ... resolutions that the majority of the global populous dedicate to changing their health whether it be the simple task of drinking one more bottle of water a month or as complex (or crazy) as losing 100 pounds in 100 days. The majority of these resolutions are not kept for the following reasons: not appropriate for what their body needs, do not have the entire educatory capacity to implement a system that is long lasting and forever, chosen a fad diet/crash diet plan, or have simply jumped into the system of their choosing head first.

We are living in country who's current culture is based upon getting what we want, when we want it and how we want it and most of the time we want it now. Sorry Charlie, that's not going to work when wanting to give yourself a full-body health make over. Think about those who have successfully quited smoking. They weren't the ones who have quit cold-turkey, shocking the body into a nicotine-craving pile of cells, they are the people who dedicated themselves to the hard work and long-time dedication to dropping the habit.

Yes, most of you know that exercise and diet are key to making changes but these aren't the only no-brainer options. The key to a total body makeover is to have 100% health in each of these aspects: Emotions, Biomechanics (Physical), Nutrition. So, let me expand my thoughts.

Contrary to how you've been raised, health is not based upon how YOU feel but upon how your body functions in response to stresses. You may feel fine but your body could be craving something that you're not giving it. The body is an amazingly adaptive machine, the most efficient machine in the world. The body makes adaptations before it sends signals to you in the form of symptoms. The more adaptations your body makes, the further from health it is becoming. In order to regain your health, you must have the aforementioned three areas in the forefront of your mind.

Emotional Health: Your thoughts are controlled by your brain, and your brain runs your body. Control your thoughts and you control your body. That's not to say throw emotions to the trash, it's to say that what and how you think determines what and how your body acts.

Nutritional Health: Many think this is as simple as picking up the next Men's or Women's Health magazine and implementing whatever those nutritionists think into your own daily living, they are experts after all right? Well yes, but they aren't sitting infront of YOU, examining YOU and YOUR body, everyone's bodies are different. I would strongly encourage you to consult a nutrition specialist prior to any health-changing initiatives.

Biomechanic/Physical Health: This is where you can incorporate your exercise routine of choice but this area encompasses so much more! Think of your physical health as a circle. The circle represents your daily movements, such as walking, hugging someone, bending over to pick something up, etc. But what is a circle made up of? Smaller arcs, without these smaller arcs the circle wouldn't exist. The smaller arcs are representative of many things, the bending of your knees while you walk combined with the rotation of your pelvis at the same time, the compensation in your back as you bend over... etc. These smaller arcs have to working and coordinating perfectly for your larger movements to be effective and dare I say it, pain-free. These smaller arcs of movement are the specialty of yes, you've guessed it, your local chiropractor. (No, this whole article is not to solicit your business, promise.)

Now that you know how you can have that brand new you in the brand new year, you must also understand that time is a major factor. Determination and dedication are key! Remember: If it's easy, it's not worth doing :)

Best of luck!