Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Chiropractic Sports Physical

As a kid, I remember going in to see the family doctor to get the "OK" to play school sports.  I remember that he would check my blood pressure, listen to my heart and lungs, do a few quick tests, and say that I was good to go.  I remember it being not such a big deal, but he was checking for some important information.  I do, however, remember that he didn't do so much with my posture or spine.  I'm guessing the reason would be that he wasn't qualified to to so. 

Being in the chiropractic field as I am currently, I realize how important it is for kids to get their posture and spine evaluated prior to engaging in any sports.  The sad thing is that most kids don't get their spine evaluated.  I believe that if more parents were to bring in their children for a spinal evaluation, some injuries could be prevented.

If a child's skeletal system is not properly aligned, there is going to be an undue amount of stress on areas that aren't used to having as much stress from sports.  For instance, baseball players typically bat from one side of the plate, which means swinging and twisting only one way constantly.  If there is a misalignment of the pelvis or spine, the body won't be able to move like it's supposed to.  That can lead to a higher propensity for injury.  Or, for a sport with a lot of running like soccer, any misalignment of the spine or the legs can possibly lead to hip, knee, or ankle injuries.

Many professional, and even college, sports teams have their own personal chiropractor on staff or at least within reach.  This tells you that the best of the best know how important it is to keep the spine and body in line when performing physical activities such as sports.

So, if you're bringing your child in for their yearly sports physical with their family doctor, I would highly recommend and even urge you to bring them in to the chiropractor.  It is important to make sure the body's organs are funtioning correctly, but it's equally important to have their spine functioning correctly.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Your Sunscreen May Be More Harm than Good

A few weeks ago, I had blogged about the importance of getting unimpeded sun to up your Vitamin D levels.  And, if you remember, I mentioned that it's all about moderation.  You don't want to bake in the sun for 3 hours without any protection.  However, a lot of the protection (sunscreen) on the market may be more detrimental to your health than beneficial.

In the beginning of July, there was a research article released by a Washington-based non-profit organization called the Environmental Working Group that pointed to a health-hazard possibility of many sunscreens.  In their research, they determined that 4 of 5 national brands of sunscreen do NOT adequately protect from "harmful" UVA and UVB rays and that the sunscreens actually may contain harmful chemicals.

Some of those harmful chemicals are:

Oxybenzone (aka: Benzophenone-3)  - linked to allergic reactions when exposed to sunlight; hormone disruptions; cancer

Ensulizole (aka: Phenylbenzimidazole Sulfonic Acid) - known to produce free-radicals (cancer causing agents) when exposed to sunlight

Padimate O (aka: PABA) - research has shown this chemical to cause DNA damage, estrogenic activity (increased estrogen levels), and allergic reactions

Octinoxate (aka: Octyl Methoxycinnamate) - most widely used sunscreen ingredient; estrogenic effects, disruption of thyroid hormone and brain signals

As you can see, many of these ingredients may even cause that from which you are trying to protect yourself, skin cancer.  These are just some of the chemicals that are placed in sunscreen to help "protect" yourself from the "harmful" rays of the sun.

I you do need to use suncreen and you want to avoid any potentially harmful chemicals, try to find ones without the four chemicals listed above.  A good way to do so is to go to a health foods store or supplement store.  One other great source is to use a natural or organic baby sunscreen.  My wife, son, and I use an organic sunscreen that we bought at Babies R Us.  It's a little more expensive, but at least we're not contaminating our bodies with chemicals that may actually cause cancer when exposed to sunlight.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Why do Chiropractors use X-rays?

Chiropractors have been making use of x-rays for a number of years.  In fact, the advent of x-rays and chiropractic were in the same year, 1895.  In chiropractic school, one of the first set of courses that we get started on is how to read x-rays.  But why do so many chiropractors use x-rays?  Do all chiropractors use x-rays?  And is it safe?

First of all, not all chiropractors take x-rays and some chiropractors take a lot of x-rays.  Now, I can only speak for myself, but I fall somewhere in the middle.  My main reasons for taking x-rays on a patient is to rule out any serious condition that may need treatment from another professional, and also to get a physical picture of the alignment of the spine.  In some cases, just doing the consultation and examination may not give me all of the information I need, so I take x-rays.  This allows me to help the patient better visualize what their spine looks like as well.

Some chiropractors practice techniques that require them to take more x-rays than I do.  Some even like to take x-rays before an adjustment and after an adjustment.  This, for their technique, may allow them to see the changes that have happened following the treatment.  Personally, I don't use techniques that require that many x-rays because of safety issues that may be present.

With the advent of the new body scanners in the airports (which you can opt out of, by the way), there has been more focus on the amount of radiation that a person receives.  It is true that x-rays use waves of energy that penetrate your body using minimal radiation.  The waves that pass through your body show up as the darker areas on the x-ray and the whiter areas are where the waves didn't pass through the body as well. 

When I am x-raying a patient, I will maybe take two sets of x-rays, which equates to a couple normal days of radiation.  You see, when you are just walking about, living life, your body is soaking up radiation from our daily environment.  One set of x-rays is equivolent to about a day's worth of normal radiation.  So you see, it's really quite minimal.  The problem is when you are getting multiple sets of x-rays or going through the body scanners often at an airport.  That little bit adds up and may lead to problems in the future.

So what I'm really trying to say is this:  I use x-rays in my practice on a minimal basis to 1) rule out any serious conditions, 2) visualize the alignment of the spine more specifically, and 3) allow the patient to physically see their spine.  Since chiropractors mainly work with the spine, it sometimes helps to see the spine and give the patient a little input as to what their spine looks like.