Avoiding Common Autumn and Winter Injuries

Injuries often occur during the year’s coldest months since the season brings adverse weather, holiday decorating, and winter sports. In particular, falls are a major cause of the season’s injuries. Some falls are more serious than others. For example, if you slip or trip and fall forward, then you may scratch up your hands and knees while breaking the fall. However, if you fall backward you may cause muscle strains or sprains. Here are some tips to help you avoid the types of autumn & winter injuries that can cause back pain

Holiday Décor 
The arrival of autumn and winter may inspire you to decorate your home. Unfortunately, hanging decorations could lead to injury if hanging heavy items or items high on the roof. For instance, putting up Christmas lights are a big culprit for unintended injuries. Next time you put up Christmas lights consider using an A-Frame ladder instead of one that leans on the side of your house. Also, enlist some help in holding the ladder and assisting in untangling lights. Not only is hanging from a ladder trying to untangle the dreaded light strand knot unpleasant, but you may strain the muscles of your low back from bending and reaching at an unnatural angle. Additionally, make sure you’re wearing shoes with a sturdy grip when using a ladder and wipe down any pooling water from the rungs.

Winter Weather Dangers 
We may not get much snow, but winter poses lots of ways to cause back pain in Seattle and our chiropractors have seen it all when it comes to injuries that pop up when you may least expect it. When you’re walking outside during the winter months, keep an eye out for wet leaves and black ice because they can be slippery. Slips can cause ankle or foot sprains or breaks. If you decide to participate in winter sports, such as skiing or snowboarding, then be sure to visit ski school before tackling steep or dangerous mountain passes. By learning the proper method, you can avoid unnecessary strain on your muscles and ligaments. Furthermore, your instructor will show you how to prevent injuries.

Tips to Avoid Everyday Injuries 
You can’t prevent every injury, but being cautious when you are getting out of cars, trains or buses and walking on city streets goes a long way. Here are some things to look out for:

- When it’s extremely windy or raining, you may automatically lower your head while walking. A lowered head may cause you to bump into other people or objects that you may not see.

- Wearing the proper footwear can decrease your risk of falling. Be sure to purchase shoes that have good traction.

- When entering a building, be sure to use the floor mats that most businesses and homeowners place in front of their structures. Uncarpeted, wet lobbies are often the most slippery!

If you do have an unexpected accident, speaking to a chiropractor is a great first step for a no medication approach to treating any pain!

Back Pain During Pregnancy

During pregnancy, women often experience back pain as a result of weight gain and hormonal changes that relax the ligaments in the pelvis. However, being pregnant doesn’t mean you have to put up with an aching back. These simple steps can help you to maintain a healthy life while you’re expecting.

Maintain proper posture. This is a practice that’s always good to follow, but becomes even more critical when you’re pregnant. “Good posture” means that you’re standing with your back straight, your shoulders squared, your chin up, your chest out, and your stomach in, which will create a straight line from your ear to your ankle and that’s ideal posture. This can be difficult at first, if your body has gotten used to resting in a bad posture. Pretend that an invisible cord is attached to your head, pulling it up into alignment with your spine.

Sleep on your side. Sleeping on your back while pregnant increases the pressure on your spine, which may lead to back pain throughout the following day. By sleeping on your side, you can eliminate this problem. The best option is to favor your left side, as this also increases blood flow to your baby.

Stay active. With all the new responsibilities and challenges that come with being pregnant, it can be tempting to forgo any exercise. But doing so will only weaken your back when it needs strength the most. Your doctor can explain what exercises and stretching activities will be best for you.

When lifting objects, make sure you do so properly. Of course, it’s best not to lift heavy objects alone at all, but even lighter burdens should be approached with care. To pick something up, squat down rather than bending at the waist, and use your legs, not your back, to do the lifting. This is good advice at any time, but especially when your back is already under stress from pregnancy.

Seek out a chiropractor and/or chiropractic therapy. Chiropractic treatment can relieve pregnancy-related back pain, as well as neck and joint complaints. If you’re experiencing any of these common issues, schedule a consultation with a local chiropractor to see if it chiropractic can provide relief for your pregnancy related discomfort.

If you’re pregnant and looking for a Seattle chiropractor, give us a call. We’d be happy to discuss options for treatment and provide you with sound chiropractic advice during your pregnancy!

Good Posture Helps Back Related Health Problems

Your mother was right (but we won’t tell if you won’t). Standing up straight is important. Posture can affect more than the way you look to the world – it can affect the overall function and health of your body! Your spinal column not only provides the framework which holds your body upright, but also acts as protection for your nervous system’s super highway. Nerves travel down from your brain, through your spinal column, and then throughout the rest of your body, delivering important information and orders to your organs and muscles. Nerves exit the column in specific areas and poor posture may lead to pinched nerves that may hinder your brain’s ability to communicate with the rest of your body. The additional pressure on the nerves also may put pressure on your body’s regulatory systems, suppressing your lungs and restricting circulation, which prevents your brain and other organs from receiving the oxygen they need for proper function.

However, while bad posture can cause fairly serious conditions, your body – in its aligned state – has the ability to heal itself and maintain good health, which is why we place such a great emphasis on good posture in the course of our corrective chiropractic services.

Four sections of vertebrae comprise the spinal cord: the cervical, thoracic, lumbar, and sacral. The nerves which run through each vertebra in each section of the spine correspond to different parts of the body and subluxation (a joint out of place) in these sections can lead to poor function of the corresponding organ.

Subluxation of vertebrae in the cervical section of the spine, which is associated with upper body functions, can cause or worsen:

  • headaches/migraines
  • dizziness
  • sinus/allergy problems
  • fatigue 

In addition to back pain, subluxation of vertebrae in the thoracic section of the spine, associated with the upper and middle torso, can cause:

  • congestion, difficulty breathing, or asthma
  • high blood pressure
  • heart conditions
  • gallbladder problems
  • jaundice and liver conditions
  • ulcers and other stomach problems
  • kidney problems

Subluxation of the vertebrae in the lumbar or sacral sections of the spine, associated with the lower back, can cause local pain and seriously affect your digestive system, sometimes leading to:

  • constipation or diarrhea
  • colitis
  • gas pain
  • irritable bowel
  • bladder problems
  • pain/numbness in legs
  • menstrual problems 

Proper exercise and regular visits to your chiropractor can help to correct spinal subluxations and your overall posture by retraining your body to find its natural, healthy state in which it can function properly, healing itself and preventing illness.

Talk to your healthcare specialist or, if you’re in the Seattle area, contact us to find out if corrective chiropractic services can be of help you!

How Spinal Decompression Therapy Can Treat Back Pain

Did you know that 85% of Americans suffer from back pain at some point? Every day, back pain is preventing millions of people from enjoying the simplest activities such as walking, bike riding, or gardening.  In fact, according to studies cited by the American Academy of Pain Medicine, back pain is the leading cause of disability in Americans under 45 years old and more than 26 million Americans between the ages of 20-64 experience frequent back pain!

Are you one of those people who experience pain from sitting in front of a computer or driving a car? If so, Spinal Decompression Therapy service may be the answer for you!

Belltown Spine & Wellness’ Seattle back pain specialists have successfully treated thousands of patients with a range of both pain and non-pain related symptoms. In many cases, patients who are experiencing pain have what is known in Chiropractic as a subluxation, or simply a vertebrae that has moved out of place and is interfering with the signal of the nerve.  Spinal Decompression Therapy is a safe and cost-effective treatment that may alleviate many resulting types of back pain for life.

Spinal Decompression Therapy works by returning healing fluids, nutrients, and oxygen flow into the discs. This reduction in pressure enables bulging or herniated discs to retract, and it often relieves pressure on the nerve roots. As the pressure reduces, the patient’s pain often decreases.  Research also shows that on a pain scale of 1-10 (10 being intense) patients frequently report less than 2 after four weeks of treatment.

In addition to educatingback pain sufferers on Spinal Decompression Therapy, our trained and experienced professionals provide exciting alternatives to invasive spinal injections and risky, expensive surgeries. We offer simple and natural solutions for your back care – a life approach to wellness.

Living with pain is a reality for too many people. Getting educated on the many options available for alleviating back pain, is the first step towards managing your pain.At Belltown Spine & Wellness we are proud to offer the support needed in order to live a pain-free, comfortable life!

Call today for a Spinal Decompression Therapy consultation with one of our back pain specialists!

Love Your Liver!

The inspiration for this post came from an office challenge we’re about to undertake. Our naturopath, Dr. Julie, has challenged the staff and our clients to undergo a 14-day liver detox starting June 17th. While nervous about what might happy in an office full of people withdrawing from coffee simultaneously, we were all excited to buckle down and clean our livers! But why? In a quest to answer the numerous questions from our clients, I turned to where else…Google, and here’s what I found:

As the second largest organ in your body, skin being the largest, the liver acts as the first line of defense for anything entering the body. It’s located just below the right rib cage and is responsible for some of the most crucial processes of your body. Physically speaking it weighs in at more than 3 pounds, is about 8 inches long, and is made up of four spongy porous chambers.

The few times that your liver comes up in casual conversation, I would bet that it usually it is mentioned with something along the lines of, “I’m sure my liver is not happy about that third martini I had last night.” Truth be told, the liver does many more impressive tasks than helping process the alcohol from one too many after-work aperitifs.

As we grow and develop as a child, the liver takes a front row seat. It starts by creating the blood that circulates throughout your system and continues to create it on a regular basis. Red blood cells are replaced, on average, every 120 days and are essential to oxygenating the rest of your body’s organs.  As an adult, it continues to create proteins for building muscles and the clotting factors needed to stop the flow of blood when you scrape your knee or get a paper cut. The liver is all about making and preserving your blood– your lifeline.

Now that you’re alive and moving thanks to fresh red blood cells, your liver moves into its metabolic responsibilities. Like a battery, the liver stores carbohydrates, fats, iron and a whole slew of other vitamins and minerals, releasing them when your blood sugar falls too low or your energy takes a dive bomb. How does it do all this? By making and excreting bile. Bile is what aids in the breaking down and digestion of all foods we consume. If the liver didn’t make enough bile, the nutrients from that apple you had for breakfast wouldn’t never make it into your system.

One of the liver’s other main functions, and it’s most commonly known function, is to filter toxins that enter the body. Toxins that we encounter every day take a variety of forms. From alcohol and drugs, both prescription and illegal, to car exhaust and other air pollutants, toxins are constantly being carried through the blood to the liver to be dealt with. A healthy liver can help defend the rest of your body against cold and flu germs as well.

With all that you liver does, don’t you think it deserves a little TLC? It is recommended to specifically detox the liver twice per year. Detox programs take a variety of forms from dietary changes to supplements and a combination of both. Talk with your health care provider about the best detox for you and show your liver some love this summer!

-Belltown Spine & Wellness

Headache and Migraine Relief is Possible

Living in Seattle means we are obligated to talk about the weather first and foremost. With the days beginning to dry out and the sun peeking out from behind the clouds on most day, for me, the worst feeling is not being able to get outside and enjoy the beauty of the city because of a headache.

Headaches take a variety of forms. Most of us have experienced a tension headache- that one you get after a long day of conference calls and meetings. Some have experienced debilitating migraines that leave you feeling helpless until they pass.

Has the pain from your headaches ever wished you could drill a hole in your head and lift the pain out?

Surprisingly, 3,000 years ago, this was the remedy of choice. It was once believed that evil spirits in the brain were the culprit of headaches, and needed to be released.  Anyone who has ever suffered the searing pain of a migraine knows that this might be appealing in theory, if misguided in practice. Thankfully, our understanding of headaches has evolved.

We now know that the two most common kinds of headaches are tensionheadaches and migraine headaches. Chiropractic treatment is among the favored (non-brain-drilling!) options for treating headaches and migraines.  Chiropractic is a natural, drug-free, and non-invasive option if you suffer from chronic headaches and migraines.  Chiropractic focuses on returning full function to your spine.

What is a tension headache?

Tension headaches are often caused by the contraction of muscles in your shoulders, neck, and head. This tension can be the result of emotional stress, environmental over-stimulation,  or injury. It’s natural for your body’s muscles to contract when you feel threatened. However, if your muscles remain in this state for long periods of time it can lead to uneven stress on your body’s skeletal structure.

In many cases, uneven stress is visually apparent, showing up in an asymmetrical posture and compensation in your movements. These changes might include a stooped back, uneven shoulder height, uneven gate, and restricted neck movement.

What is a migraine headache?

Migraine headaches are very different from tension headache. The main difference is that migraine headaches are vascular and arise from the sudden expansion of blood vessels within your head. The exact causes of these expansions are unknown, but there are several common triggers. These triggers can include bright lights, smells, changes in the weather, stress, and diet.

These painful headaches vary in severity and intensity. They can last up to 72 hours. The sufferer can experience a wide range of mild to completely debilitating pain.

How can chiropractic treatments help ?

The basis of chiropractic medicine is spinal manipulation. This is used to correct your skeletal structure when it becomes misaligned. A misaligned skeletal structure is particularly dangerous for your nervous system which runs through it.

The bones of the spinal column protect the delicate nerve fibers that begin at your brain and travel throughout your body regulating every function from breathing to walking to sleeping. Everything your body does is controlled by your brain that uses the nerves to send its instructions. When your spine  becomes compressed in an irregular way, it can limit the signals from the brain, which in some cases results in pain such as headaches and migraines.

Using spinal manipulation, chiropractors naturally guide your spine back to its proper alignment reducing stress on the central nervous system.  In what seems like a miracle to sufferers, this often significantly reduces and even completely eliminates recurring headaches.

In addition to chiropractic manipulation as a treatment, there are a few common lifestyle changes that have been shows to be effective at helping to reduce the duration and frequency of your migraines. Understanding those migraine triggers: alcohol, certain food and beverages (especially caffeine), changes in weather, bright lights, certain medications (such as birth control), noise,smells,smoking, and stress, is the first step toward taking control of your migraines. If lifestyle changes do not provide relief then the next step would be to contact yourBelltown Chiropractor to discuss treatment options that may be right for you.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Chiropractic

Estimated Read Time: 2 minutes 30 seconds

Have you been suffering from depression which just won’t go away? Are you tired no matter how long you sleep? Do you have chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)? You are not alone. It’s estimated  that more than 1 million Americans suffer from CFS. Many people often accept their fate and throw in the towel. But you can control your own well-being.

Chiropractic can help treat your chronic fatigue by aligning your spine and restoring full function to your central nervous system.

We know CFS can be scary. It can be painful and often debilitating. With no known cause, doctors rarely have answers. Patients are frequently subjected to any number of drug cocktails which often treat only symptoms and not the root cause.

Chiropractic approaches CFS in a different way. It provides you a natural, non-invasive option. It allows you to take ownership over your own health and wellness. Chiropractic as a whole focus wholly on the root cause of dis-ease. Symptoms are the outward expression of a impediment of nerve signals. Our doctors use different techniques to treat your spine and restore proper nerve function.

By correcting any misalignment, your chiropractor gives your body its ability to heal itself. How does that work?

Your brain sends messages to the rest of your body through your spinal cord. When the spinal column is misaligned, it can pinch your spinal cord. This disrupts the communication between your brain and the rest of your body. In extreme cases, it can shut down the communication completely.

As your chiropractor works toward correcting your spine, they will use gentle adjustments to guide your spinal column back into place. This isn’t an overnight process. For many patients their spine has been misaligned for years. Correcting those problems overnight is unrealistic. But, with a commitment between doctors and patients, our clinic has seen dramatic changes in the health of member of our community.

As your spinal column returns to its natural alignment and your central nervous system begins to function fully, you will notice a new strength. Many patients rave about finally sleeping through the night and waking up refreshed, experience weight loss, having increased energy and enjoying a general sense of happiness.

At Belltown Spine & Wellness our chiropractors work closely with you, monitoring your improvement and answering any questions you may have. Do you suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome? Don’t let this illness control you. Take control over your own well-being and start enjoying life again today.

What is chronic fatigue?

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) makes you so tired you can’t complete normal, daily tasks. This extremely debilitating disorder can affect your brain and multiple other systems of your body.

For those without chronic fatigue, it can be really difficult to relate. A few years ago, one of my good friends was diagnosed with chronic fatigue. It took me a long time to wrap my head around his sickness because it wasn’t something I could see. Initially, it felt like he was faking it.

Boy was I wrong!

Beyond the extreme exhaustion he experienced, chronic fatigue caused problems with his concentration and short-term memory. He had trouble holding normal conversations, being around large groups of people and accomplishing every day tasks such as grocery shopping.

Occasionally, we went on walks together. After one block, I watched him become exhausted. My friend, the former Division I athlete, became exhausted after a one block walk! There was no faking. He was miserable. He was tired. And no matter how much he slept, it didn’t do any good.

I read a whole bunch about what chronic fatigue is and how it affects different people. Some people with it have extreme joint and muscle pain, tender lymph nodes, sore throats and headaches. Additional symptoms can include:
Inability to calculate numbers
Blurred vision
Mood swings
Personality changes
Sensitivity to heat and/or cold
Alcohol intolerance
Increased PMS symptoms
Weight gain
Sensitivity to odors, chemicals and medication

With time and the right treatments, such as chiropractic and massage therapy, my friend started returning to his old self. He can exercise again. We go for walks around Green Lake and he’s the one who recommends a second loop. (Don’t tell, but I can barely keep up!)

At first, during my “I don’t understand” phase, I was pretty jealous that massage was part of how his chronic fatigue was being treated. But it worked. I saw the miracle.

I saw my friend become my friend again.

What are the Effects of Stress?

“I’m stressed out all the time. What can this do to me?”

A little bit of stress is normal. It is your body’s natural way of responding to scary or unfamiliar situations. The effects of stress over prolonged periods with no relief or relaxation can cause serious mental and physical problems. Some of these issues include chronic fatigue, depression, digestive issues such as an upset stomach, headaches and back pain.

If you remain in stressful situations these are a few of the things which may be happening to your body:

Your Immune System

While short bursts of stress may boost your immune system, long-term stress can leave you more susceptible to infection and worsen skin conditions such as eczema, hives and acne.

Your Heart

Long-term stress can cause your arteries to narrow and elevate your cholesterol levels. This increases your chances of having heart disease, a heart attack and a stroke.

 Your Nervous System

When your brain senses stress it triggers the release of chemicals including epinephrine (aka adrenaline) and cortisol. High levels of these over a prolonged period of time can impair memory and increase your odds for depression.

Your Endocrine Glad

Stress also triggers your liver to produce more blood sugar. This gives you the kick of energy (aka adrenaline). But, consistently high blood sugar also puts you at risk for type 2 diabetes.

Your Lungs

Moments of high stress can make you breath faster and often leave you feeling short of breath or hyperventilating. In the long term, this can make you susceptible to upper-respiratory infections.

Your Reproductive System

Stress can lengthen, shorten or stop your periods. While many women might welcome skipping their menstrual cycle, this may cause problems with fertility. And sometimes, stress can even make your period more painful.

If you are experiencing high levels of stress in your personal or professional life, you don’t have to live with it. Massage and other stress relieving techniques can help you reduce and eliminate the stress placed on your body. By treating your stress now, you can save yourself from the potential long-term side effects.

Contact Belltown Spine & Wellness today to find out how we can help you relieve the stress in your life.

Tips to Relieve Tension Headaches

Tension headaches can be a distraction to regular daily life.  Many people consider a daily tension headache par for the course, no big deal.  As a chiropractor in Kirkland & Bellevue, WA, I hear countless times a month from patients that they expect regular tension headaches and they’ve grown to live with them. 
Many people spend the majority of their working hours under significant stress involving deadlines, bosses, obligations and too much paperwork.  Others spend full days on end straining at their computer trying to get the daily work accomplished.

Below are some tips to help reduce and avoid daily tension headaches:

chiropractic headache relief

  • Get up at least every 30 minutes and move.  Getting more oxygen to your brain by moving and sitting up straight can significant reduce tension related headache stretch the neck and shoulders every hour, who cares if your co-workers think you look silly, at least you’ll be cutting back on tension
  • Have a proper ergnomic work enviroment, make sure your keyboard is at the proper level and line up your monitor so you are looking straight ahead
  • Visit a chiroaprctor for postural correction to avoid the triggers of headaches before they start
  • Get a massage, deep tissue massage therapy has been shown to be an effective way to alleviate chronic muscle stress and imbalances
  • Exercise regularly, this will aid in reducing overall stiffness and tension
  • Laugh regularly
  • Stay Hydrated

Headaches are something that too many people live with on a daily basis.  There are plenty of steps that can be taken to reduce and often eliminate tension headaches that are due to the daily grind.  Most of us can’t fire our bosses, cut out stress or push back deadlines, but we all have the ability to follow the above tips to help feel more comfortable on a daily basis.

This post was written by Bellevue chiropractor, Dr. Ben Baker of PrimeSpine.