Do you have a disc hernation?

Maybe, but maybe not. To be honest it’s a term I hear thrown around too easily, and often inaccurately.

Unless it happened in a traumatic situation, in the majority of cases when vertebral discs bulge or herniate, it’s not because it’s genetic or it just randomly happened because of bad luck. Often It’s because the movement patterns within the spinal joints have deteriorated and there is added stress on the vertebral joints.

Just because you have back pain does not mean you have a bulging or herniated disc. (Not sure the difference? Read this blog post!) In fact, research has shown that many people are walking around with bulging discs while experiencing NO symptoms!

How do you know if you have a disc herniation?

By having a  thorough, assessment with highly trained Doctors who spend 4 years (after completing a university degree) studying the anatomy and mechanics of the spine. Yes, that’s right, see a Chiropractor and have a proper evaluation rather than relying on “Dr. Google”. (Read this post about why this can be dangerous.)

Your physical assessment should include postural testing, an evaluation of your range of motion and functional abilities spinal joint palpation, gait analysis, orthopedic and neurological tests. You might even have further diagnostic testing such as surface EMG or X-rays.  

The clinical results from this type of assessment gives us plenty of information as to what might be going on within the body.  Within the first few minutes of any examination I quickly know whether there is irrigation within the disc or not, and if the healing process can begin, or whether further diagnostics such as an MRI are needed.

So, if you’re struggling with back pain and guessing you might have a disc herniation, consider having a consultation with a professional first.

Check out these blog posts for more information:

What to expect on a first visit.How to find a Chiropractor that is right for you.

Does Your Child Seem Clumsy?

One of the benefits of being a Family Chiropractor and looking after children in my practice is that I have the privilege of watching infants develop into toddlers, then attend school, become teenagers, and after 17 years in practice I have watched some of the kids in my practice graduate high school and head to college!  

Observing children’s movement development is still so fascinating to me, the innate ability of the body to develop the skills required to roll, sit, crawl walk, run, jump, and climb. 

This ability does not need to be coached, or actively developed, the body just knows how to figure it out in a sequential pattern, without any intervention. 

For more information about how this happens, read this post and for the benefits of chiropractic for children read this one.

Can Chiropractic help your child’s movement development? Possibly. The focus of chiropractic spinal care is not to cure any problems in the body, but rather to maximize the healthy natural movement patterns so that there are no limitations to proper growth and maturation. If there is any irritation within the spine and associated muscles, there can be subtle changes in the ease of development and as a parent you might notice:.

  1. Your child seems clumsy and uncoordinated. 
  2. Your child drags a foot or rolls it in when they are trying to crawl.
  3. Your child never really crawls, instead they push themselves around backwards or pulls themselves forward using an army crawl. 
  4. Your child seems exceptionally intimidated with trying to learn how to climb stairs.
  5. Your child seems to walk on their toes instead of planting their whole foot on the floor when they walk. 
  6. Your child seems to veer to one side when they are running.

And the list goes on an on….

If you notice anything asymmetrical with your child’s movement patterns, keep in mind that subtle shifts in their pelvis or within their spine can be contributing to assymetrical development, and they are easily addressed by a visit to a Pediatric Chiropractor! 

In my experience, children respond quickly and heal fast. After a thorough evaluation, and with some gentle corrective care they are more balanced, they move with greater ease, and without any interference to their development they are ready to thrive.

Disclaimer: Chiropractic care supports overall health and healing, but is not a cure or treatment for developmental issues or delays in children.

Do Your Ribs Need To Be Adjusted?

Have you ever felt a sharp stabbing pain in your chest, that’s worse when you inhale or sneeze? I have, and it can be quite unsettling, and uncomfortable! 

The good news is that it just might be coming from something that is easily resolved with Chiropractic spinal adjustments.

The ribs attach to the vertebrae in the thoracic spine and wrap around the front to create protection for the heart and lungs. They give us structure, and points of attachment for many muscles. Depending on the sports you play, the repetitive strains you might experience with your work, your posture, or accidents you may have had, the ribs can occasionally slip out of their proper alignment with the spinal joints and create problems.

What does it feel like?

Pain in the ribs, often sudden, sharp, that is worse with sneezing, coughing, inhaling. Sometimes the pain can also radiate around front of chest.

If you have a history of cardiovascular disease, or other symptoms of acute cardiac distress, it’s best to consult your medical professional or head to your local  emergency room. However if what you’re feeling sounds similar to what I described above consider consulting your Chiropractor first. Your chiropractor can easily diagnose whether you are dealing with an acute subluxation of the ribs, or whether you need immediate medical attention. 

If your ribs are not moving properly, and are the source of your discomfort, then a few gentle adjustments will be all that is needed to restore proper function and feeling to your body. 

The One Doctor You Can’t Trust

Are you relying on “Dr. Internet” to advise you on matters pertaining to your health?  Knowledge is power, but with all the information readily available you also need to be mindful of what you are reading.

I’m a huge advocate for understanding your body, and getting empowered with information to make decisions for your health care. In my practice I likely give people more information than they want or need – we have a library, workshops, online programs, an email newsletters with health tips, and lots of conversations!  I am a firm believer that information gives us power, and if there is any area you should have some power in your life  to making choices for your health and that of your family.

However, relying on one major source of information – the internet can be misleading and create added stress in your life.

Here’s 3 reasons why: 

  1. You need a whole body assessment. Sometimes where the problem is and where the pain is are not the same. There can be referral patterns based on complex neurology, trigger points in the muscles,  or even referrals from your internal organs. Without a health professional carefully listening to your complaint and assessing you, you might miss what’s actually going on.  
  1. Inaccurate information. Need I say more?  
  1. Objectivity Matters. When a professional looks at your body and listens to your concerns, without any emotional attachment or subjectivity, you’ll get a more accurate diagnosis. Your entire health history and clinical findings, give important clues about what might be going on, and without someone on the ‘outside’ looking at you, things can be missed. 

Next time you have a question about your health, get informed! But talk to one of the professionals on your health care team before making a diagnosis on yourself. It will save you time, money and stress! 

Turmeric Elixir For Your Family

Boost your immune system, support your gastro-intestinal health, and lower inflammation with this simple shot every day!

As a Chiropractor I’m a fan of turmeric because of it’s powerful effects in reducing inflammation. The journal Oncogene published the results of a study that evaluated several anti-inflammatory compounds and found that curcumin is among the most effective anti-inflammatory compounds in the world.

In addition to the anti-inflammatory benefits, turmeric is also shown to be helpful in boosting skin health, lowering depression, supporting the liver in detoxification, and can also work as a natural pain reliever.

You may have heard about the healing potential of turmeric, but wondered how to best get it into your body without eating curry everyday? I used to purchase a turmeric elixir and take a shot of it every morning, but then discovered it was really easy to make. Give it a try!

In a blender combine chunks of ginger & turmeric (and even garlic if you’re so bold and you’re ok with the taste – I did this once and likely won’t again) Add 4 cups of water. Add raw unpasteurized honey if you like, or even the juice of a  lemon for added vitamin C. Done. Easy. So good for you.

Happy Hearts, Healthy People

As a Family Chiropractor I am lucky to see people everyday who choose to invest in their health and are actively making choices to feel and function their best. Something that comes up consistently in conversation with people is stress, and it’s often connected to the changes I observe in their body and the injuries I’ll see.

Emotional and mental stress create tension in your body and affect all body systems, including your muscles and joints! It’s important to regularly check in with yourself, assess your emotional health, and make changes if needed.

These are the 5 tips I suggest often, and ones I implement in my own life:

Let Go. You always have a choice in how you handle any situation and how you let it affect you. Holding negative feelings toward someone doesn’t hurt them, it hurts you! Who are you holding anger towards? What do you need to let go of? 

Focus on the GoodWhat you dwell upon expands. If you focus on what you don’t have, that’s all you will see. Focusing your thoughts on victories instead of defeats will help you develop an attitude of gratitude and a greater sense of self-worth. When you change the way you look at things, often the things you are looking at change. 

Be Thankful.The secret to happiness is not found by seeking more, but in developing an appreciation for what we have. A powerful exercise is the use of gratitude journal to reflect on day-to-day success, or simply take a few minutes to think of 5 things you are grateful for in your life. You will be pleasantly surprised how it will shift your mental state.

What’s Your Purpose? A big question I know, but one that you need to make the time to think about. Are you living your life with purpose, plans and passion? If you could do anything you wanted to, what would it be?  It’s never too late to re-design your life and pursue any dream you have. What steps can you take to start moving in that direction? Baby steps still take you forward!

LaughLaughter is “the most inexpensive and most effective wonder drug”. It suppresses the secretion of stress hormones, boosts your immune system, reduces inflammation. Let’s face it – there is nothing like the feeling of a deep belly laugh! Are you laughing enough? Connect with others and share some fun.

I’m Embracing Winter – Are You?

Recently I participated in a  Winter Wellness Event at our local library, and as much as I love sharing health information I love learning from others who are passionate and knowledgeable! Winter is not my favourite season but I’ve never suffered terribly through it the way I know some people in my practice have. One of the other presenters during this event spoke about SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) and 3 ways to support yourself if this is a challenge for you. 

These 3 tips shared by one of the speakers that evening might help you:

Get outside everyday, for at least 20 minutes. Wear proper clothing to protect yourself from the elements, and stay warm! Moving your body is nature’s best antidepressant. I confess,  there are days I don’t even need to leave my property because my practice and business are in the same building! However, I do notice that when I resist the outdoors  I don’t feel the same when I don’t get any fresh air, so let’s commit to getting a little bit of outdoor time every day. 

Focus on what you love about winter! Are there sports you participate in? Cozy sweaters you love to wear? Wrapping yourself with a blanket and curling up with a book? Sitting by a fire? Taking indulgent baths or sitting in a steam room? Drinking a cup of hot tea? Cooking hearty foods? Make a list of some foods or activities that you enjoy only in the winter months and then see how you can do more of them! Choose to celebrate what makes winter special rather than what annoys you and you’ll find your mindset shifts.

Similarly, choose your words wisely! If you constantly say that you hate winter or find yourself complaining about it to anyone who will listen, consider changing the words you use and start speaking with more gratitude and acceptance for the winter months. Perhaps speaking about the things you noted in the previous paragraph. If you find something to be grateful for then you’ll often continue to find other things to be grateful for. I often say ‘what you dwell upon expands’ so find good things about the colder season to dwell on! 

Feet, Ankles or Knees Sore?

Every joint in the body is dependent on the functioning of the others, like an intricate series of levers and hinges providing you structure and movement. If there is an imbalance in the lumbar spine or hips, there will often be compensation problems in the knees, ankles and feet as the body tries to adapt to the faulty mechanics. Which means it’s common for these to resolve with Chiropractic spinal adjustments!

Chiropractic works for so much more than just back pain, a healthy spine is the foundation for all the other joints in your body and protects the most vital organ – the nervous system. Subluxations in the lumbar spine will affect healthy nerve flow to the legs and feet, and when these misalignments are corrected, numbness, pain, and inflammation in the feet resolves. Many people are pleasantly surprised at the unexpected relief they find, and wonder why they waited so long before seeking the help of a Chiropractor.

The next time your feet are aching consider Chiropractic first. If we can’t help, we will gladly refer you to one of the local Chiropodists for more specific foot care – we look to the spine first when there is any problem, but have a great referral network of other professionals to support you in regaining the level of health you deserve.

P.S. You can also read this blog post about why being barefoot is good for you.

Healthy Food While Travelling? Here’s My Tip

Here’s what I took to Niagara Falls

Just because you’re away from home doesn’t’ mean you have to forget to choose healthy food options.

I’ve been to enough hockey tournaments and eaten at enough restaurants during travels to know that the options can often be slim, and when you’ve got growing, hungry boys to feed you can get stuck making less desirable choices.

So now I prepare! It’s not difficult to pull together simple and nutritious meals.  It’s always about choices and priorities, and yes, a little bit of planning.   

Although we did eat some meals out, and I have teenage boys who really love their pizza, subway, (and some other junk I’d rather not think about) thankfully they do appreciate that nutrition matters and will oblige my nagging about healthy choices. 

Given that most hotel rooms only have a small fridge, and making meals in a hotel room are limited, here’s what I bring that has given us some options: 

  • Electric tea kettle (brilliant for boiling water for tea, coffee, oatmeal, soups) 
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Packs of instant oatmeal
  • Tea, my favourite coffee (and ok I’ll admit, I brought my French press too! I am particular about good coffee)
  • Basic salad dressing (3TBSP olive oil, 3TBSP apple cider vinegar, salt, pepper, chopped garlic, squeeze of lemon)
  • Salad greens (any mix you prefer, I like the baby kale or arugula)
  • Coconut yogurt 
  • Granola
  • Orange juice
  • Hummus (usually I make my own but store-bought can work!)
  • Apples, bananas
  • Carrots
  • Bagels
  • Popcorn, tortilla chips (we need snacks!)  

Your food choices matter! Especially for growing children! 

In addition to chiropractic care and daily activity, food is a huge contributor to how you feel and function everyday. Check out this blog post about my basics about what to eat for good health.

It’s 2019! What’s Ahead For You?

As you begin 2019 I encourage you to set aside a few moments to think about what you want most for this new year, and consider doing this exercise to help you align your actions with the results you’d like to see!   Rather than set resolutions, try setting theme words for the year. I personally started doing this exercise 5 years ago and we’ve been doing it within the practice too!

Here’s how it works: 

Think about your aspirations – what do you want for the year ahead? Is there an overriding theme that comes to mind for you? Can you sum up your intentions in a single word? I bet you can. Choose a word that can represent many different areas of your life, and one that will help you stay focused on how you want to feel about 2019 when December 31st comes around.

Why it’s effective: 

A great word can set the tone for your actions and keep you focused. A word can also serve as a reminder of what’s important when everyday ‘life stuff’ frustrates us. For example, when my sons were young and I wasn’t in practice, my word was “Nurture”.  It reminded me of my focus on raising my sons and looking after myself.  It allowed me to accept that my career aspirations would be fulfilled at a later date (like now!) and that the little boys in my kitchen were simply more important for the time being. In other years the words “Grow”, “Balance” and “Focus” have worked well for me as I was rebuilding my life and business.   A great word sets your intention and will help manifest the people, places, opportunities (and challenges!) to help you achieve your goals. Metaphysics aside, what you focus on tends to happen!  The simple act of awareness can powerfully  keep you oriented towards actions that support your goals, and make you more likely to attract success.

How can you decide on your word?

Your ‘word’ might come to mind easily.  You may already have one that has been running through your thoughts repetitively, especially if you have set resolutions or goals for yourself. If not, carve out some time in your week to think about it. Sit quietly and reflect.  Journal if it helps you sort out your thoughts, or, on a blank sheet of paper simply write down words that depict your hopes and dreams for the year ahead. Something will pop out at you, or you may notice a pattern in the words you write down. Don’t over-think it!

Friends, colleagues, and people in my practice have shared their words with me for added support and accountability. Here’s some of their theme words to get you started:  Relate, Believe, Focus, Simplify, Build, Mindful, Refresh, Rejuvenate, and Fun. Once you have your ‘word’ write it down where you can see it regularly. Use it as a password so you have to consciously think about it many times a day. Place post-it notes all over your home if you need to. Get creative and do what works for you!

Love to hear your thoughts! Has this worked for you? Or what other way has helped you begin the new year with intention and positivity?