Every day, Dr. Daryl and her staff receive e-mail and regular mail inqueries from people about chiropractic care and what it can do for them and those they care about. Here are a few selections from recent Q&As that may help you:
Q: Can we help improve athletic performance?
A: Yes. In many cases, the doctor can also offer advice on safe, healthy ways to improve peak performance. Chiropractors are often called upon to work with or treat athletes, both amateur and professional. Many are afflicted with sports-related injuries; others feel fine, but are looking to boost performances. A chiropractor’s training and experience with the dynamics of the human body qualifies him or her to diagnose and successfully treat a wide range of injuries and conditions.
Q: Can a long-term running program be bad for me?
A: About thirty million people in the U.S. are classified as recreational runners or joggers. Approximately 60% will eventually experience an injury that may limit their activities. Running places a tremendous stress on the lower extremities: low back, hips, legs, knees, and feet. The body of a runner weighing 150 lbs. has to absorb stress shock equivalent to 375-450 lbs. every time his or her heel makes contact with the running surface. Over time, overuse injuries often result, and may be magnified if there is any underlying structural problems in the lower part of the body. Postural distortions in the feet can have a definite impact on an athlete’s performance: for example, a runner with a 25 degree foot flare would be outdistanced 31 yards per mile by a runner of equal size and abilities who had no foot flare. Smart runners consult regularly with a health care professional about his or her postural health and status. Your chiropractor is an expert in analyzing and treating musculoskeletal conditions.
Q: What can our office do for you if you’re having leg or knee pain?
A: These may indicate a postural imbalance, an inappropriate training program, overuse injuries, or stress conditions to soft tissues or bone. These conditions can often be effectively managed if the problem is identified early and appropriate treatment is followed. While every patient’s case is unique, your chiropractor will probably perform a postural analysis as part of your initial examination. Important information can often be obtained through a simple evaluation of your standing posture. X rays may also be required. Your training regimen and schedule may be reviewed, to see if there are any problem areas to correct. In addition to any chiropractic adjustments your doctor may perform, he or she may also recommend that you wear spinal/pelvic stabilizers and perform at-home rehab exercise therapy.
Q: What are spinal/pelvic stabilizers?
A: They are custom-made, flexible foot orthotics. They are created for the individual to help keep feet in their proper structural positions, absorb heel-strike shock, and help the doctor’s adjustments “hold” better and longer. They help support the foot’s natural posture, absorb shock, run cool, and are substantially lighter than other comparable stabilizers.
Q: What kind of at-home rehab exercise do I need to do?
A: Injured soft tissue and muscles/joints can be strengthened with rehab exercises. An entire spectrum of these can be recommended by your chiropractor after an examination of your needs and condition. Many are very simple and can be done in a few minutes at home or the office.
Q: Why is my neck so stiff when I wake up in the morning, and sore by the end of the day?
A: These two questions have a lot in common, and are common questions chiropractors hear. If there is no apparent trauma involved (like whiplash, a fall, or a sports injury), and if other conditions (tumor, infection, arthritis, etc.) have been ruled out, one of the most likely causes for chronic neck pain is poor posture. Your body is similar to a moving chain, with your head, body, arms and legs linked together by joints, and supported by bones and soft tissues (muscles, ligaments, etc.). Movement at one joint influences movement at other joints in the chain. In fact, your feet can have a big influence on the rest of your body, especially if they are not in balance. Postural imbalance places stress and strain on body parts higher up, which can cause pain. Besides a foot problem, obesity can also contribute to postural conditions. Being overweight can cause stress pain to an area like the neck, as soft tissues must work all day against the downward pull of gravity.
Q: So is the pain in my heel area caused by a heel spur?
A: In general, a heel spur may contribute to pain on the underside of the heel, which sometimes radiates throughout the entire bottom of the foot. In the morning, the first few steps after waking up may feel tender. Some improvement might be noticed after that; however, the pain often returns and intensifies during the day, especially while standing or walking. This pain is usually relieved by rest. The bottom or sides of the heel may be tender to the touch; a slight swelling may be noticed, and it may hurt to wiggle your toes.
Q: What can we do to stop pain?
A: The treatment you receive will probably focus in general on reducing swelling, relieving pain, restoring functional movement and position through manipulation (adjustment), protecting the area from additional stress, and strengthening your foundation. Depending on your specific condition, your chiropractor may instruct you to do some or all of the following items after you leave the clinic:
Rest: a decrease or stoppage of running and jumping exercises is often indicated.
Ice, to help bring down any swelling.
Exercise, to help build muscle strength and joint stability.
Wear foot orthotics to help the adjustments hold better.