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Chiropractic or Physical Therapy?

Chiropractic or Physical Therapy? This is a question that many people seem to have when they are experiencing either acute or chronic pain. I was actually amazed at how many people do not really understand what either do exactly. This makes it kind of difficult to make an educated decision, right?

Lets start with a brief breakdown of both professions: Physical Therapists (Physiotherapists or PT’s) focus on conservative treatment of musculoskeletal conditions mainly through exercises, stretching, and mobilizations. With a physical therapist the patient will be taking an active role. You can expect to exercise, stretch, and mobilize different muscles during your appointment’s. The end goal is to not only eliminate or reduce pain, but allow the patient to develop the strength necessary to return work, sport, etc.

Chiropractic is a profession that focuses on diagnosing and treating musculoskeletal condition’s related to joints and muscles of the spine and extremities. Chiropractic Physician’s often do more manual therapy in the form of soft-tissue manipulation, joint manipulation (adjustment), and passive modalities. Patients assume more of a passive role making chiropractic care ideal for patients in acute pain (sprain/strain, disc herniation, whiplash, muscle strain/tear, etc.) Chiropractic Physicians focus more on “foundation” or joint movement than physical therapists, which tend to focus more on the muscle movement.

So which is right for you? BOTH! Depending on your stage of healing, you should be seeing both a chiropractor and a physical therapist. Typically, I will see a patient first, then once the joints and muscles are moving well enough they will be referred to PT in order to strengthen the muscles. A good therapist will recommend both therapies, as addressing both the muscles and the joints is the only way to completely correct a musculoskeletal problem.

Our office routinely works with medical doctors and physical therapists for the better patient outcomes. Our mission is to provide the best in evidence based chiropractic care. This often means working with orthopedists, medical doctors, and physical therapists to accomplish better, more permanent results. Most importantly, keeping patients doing what they love to do, and out of surgery!

If you are experiencing muscle or joint pain we can help! Call or schedule online: (781) 460-0939

Keep Moving.

3 Gym Exercises to Avoid if You Have Neck Pain

Sometimes life can be a pain in the neck. If you are like about 60% of the work force you probably spend majority of your waking hours in seated position; whether it be on a long commute, in a cube all day, or worst yet the combination of both. The muscles of your upper back, and neck become tight, irritated, and all around unhappy.

Hitting the gym and being active is a great way to not only combat stress but give some of the other muscles in your back, such as your Rhomboids, some much needed activation work (you can read more about recommended exercises Here .) It is however possible to make the situation worse with poor form, or poor exercise choices. Below are some pit-falls to avoid:

1.) Barbell Shrugs- Most people with neck discomfort due to posture have tight upper trapezius muscles (traps). The barbell shrug is an essentially useless exercise for anything but trap work. Worst of all, majority of people use bad form when they shrug. Do your best to avoid shrugs if you are experiencing neck pain.

If you insist on shrugging try this quick fix: Grab a light pair of dumbbells, Retract (pinch together) your shoulder blades bringing the dumbbells slightly behind you, and focus on squeezing your upper back in the top of the movement. In addition to limiting pain, it will increase your trap development with less weight.

2.) Smith Machine Shoulder Press- I think most would agree that anyone with back issues should stay away from Smith Machine movements. Since the bar is confined to one plane of motion it does not allow for variability in the movement of the shoulder joint. Since the upper back is already tight and irritated it will likely lead to a more serious injury.

3.) Stomach Crunches with Hands Behind Head- Placing your hands on the back of your head during a crunch flexes your spine under tension which is a prime mechanism for a disc herniation. This position also increases stress on already irritated muscles. Instead, try crossing your arms across your chest and lifting your shoulder blades off of the floor.

If you are experiencing neck pain, now is the time to act to prevent future problems. If you would like to schedule a consultation to ensure an accurate diagnosis, Click Here .

Keep Moving.

 

Dr. James Ellis

www.evolvedhealthchiropractic.com

The Top 3 Exercise’s for Sciatica

Sciatic nerve pain or “sciatica” is characterized by burning, tingling, or numbness in one side of the buttock or leg which is relatively constant. The cause is related to compression of spinal nerves as they exit the spine. ” Sciatica” is not a specific diagnosis but a collection of symptoms. The cause of sciatica is commonly due to other medical conditions such as a disc herniation, or degenerative changes of the lumbar spine which decreases the space impinging the nerves. Below are some common symptoms that people note during “sciatica”:

  • Relatively constant pain on one side of the buttocks and/or hamstring.
  • Hamstring or calve pain that is described as burning, tingling, or numb.
  • Pain that is worse when walking or sitting
  •  Possible progressive weakness or “dead leg.”

When dealing with sciatica it is important to first visit a Chiropractic Physician or other spine specialist in order to obtain an accurate diagnosis. Contrary to past beliefs, “resting” the area more than a few days is not recommended. Resting more than a few days may lead to deconditioning of the surrounding muscles which may increase pressure on the irritated nerve(s) making symptoms worse. Additionally, the intervertebral discs in your spine serve as shock absorbers. There is no blood supply to the discs since they consist of cartilage. They rely on movement in order to imbibe water keeping the discs full, healthy, and nourished preventing desiccation and degenerative change. By incorporating the appropriate exercises (and eliminating some bad ones), you can strengthen the surrounding muscles, effectively decreasing pressure on the spine and preventing further occurrence’s or exacerbations. Below are 3 of my personal favorites for bracing the abdomen:

1.)Cat-Cow-

  • Begin on all four’s.
  •  Take a deep breathe in through your nose slowly filling your belly with air.
  •  Arch your back dropping your belly to the ground slowly; head up.
  •  Begin to exhale slowly drawing your hips under your body by contracting your abdomen; hold 2-3 seconds.
  • Repeat cycle (1 cycle = 1 rep)

2.) Press-Up’s-

  • Begin by lying face down on a soft surface
  • Place your palms down as if in push-up position.
  • Leaving your thighs on the ground, begin to slowly press-up, lifting your upper torso off the ground; hold 2-3 seconds, then repeat.

3.) Pelvic Tilts-

  • Begin lying on your back face-up, knees bent.
  • Take a deep breathe in through your nose, arching your back slightly pushing your stomach out.
  • Exhale slowly, pushing your belly button through the floor by contracting your abdomen; hold 2-3 seconds, then repeat cycle (1 cycle = 1 rep).

As always, please consult a health professional before attempting to self-treat.

If you are currently experiencing sciatica pain, Click Here to schedule an appointment and start healing today!

Keep Moving.

Dr. James Ellis

www.evolvedhealthchiropractic.com

Fix Your Posture- Part 4

If you have not been following a long I have been discussing the beginning stages of what some may consider as an epidemic; “postural syndrome.” I have now  addressed three very important groups of muscles that are necessary for proper postural alignment.  If you missed these posts simply click on the links to catch up (click here for Part 1, Part 2, Part 3).

Continuing in our quest for great posture, today I will talk about an often over-looked sourced of rounded shoulders; the pectorals. The pectoral muscles are better known as the bench press muscles as they are responsible for adduction of the arms, and humerus. The pectoral group (composed of a major and a minor) also help to move the scapula anteriorly and inferiorly against the thoracic wall allowing for smooth motion. The pectoralis minor is of most concern as it directly attached to the scapula (shoulder) and ribs. This will serve as a perfect lever to pull those shoulder into a rounded position distorting the curves of your spine and placing abnormal stress on the muscles of the back, shoulder, and neck.

The pectoralis minor serves as a secondary breathing muscle that may be recruited in those that are deconditioned. The muscle lies in close proximity to the Thoracic Outlet, which is a small opening in your neck and shoulder where the nerves of your spine exit to innervate your limbs. When shortened this muscle may serve to close down that space creating an impingement on the nerves exiting the spine. This is commonly marked by tingling, numbness, discoloration, or coldness in the hands.  It is in your best interest in other words to be sure that this muscle is of adequate length and not causing any impingements!

Click Here to learn the #1 stretch for short, tight, pectorals!

 

Keep Moving.

Dr. James Ellis

www.evolvedhealthchiropractic.com

shoulder Impingement Fix for Over-head Athletes

Having a practice in a gym, I see many athletes from traditional sports such as football and baseball players, and also Cross-Fit, Bodybuilding, and Powerlifting athletes. One common denominator in many of these athletes is shoulder problems; particularly when striving for that lock out above head (which is a big part of Cross-Fit and Olympic type lifting.)

The problem is not the motion itself, it is achievable and pain-free in those with healthy shoulders. In reality however, most people’s shoulders are not as “healthy” as they think and will eventually be injured unless some intervention is made. Scapulohumeral and scapulothoracic rhythm refers to the ability of all of the muscles of the shoulder complex to work together in sync during over-head movements. When this is all in sync, no shoulder problems are usually noted. However, In todays society majority of people have some underlyeing shoulder issues that prevent this from occurring.

I addressed shoulder biomechanics before, if you missed that post click here.  In order for “healthy” shoulder abduction to occur the shoulder blade must retract and rotate upwards allowing for a clear space for the tendons to pass under the acromion. In order  for this to occur the rhomboids and mid to lower trapezius needs to be firing appropriately. It also happens that these are two of the more common problems areas for muscle activation in most people. We need to neurologically turn these on!

How do we do this? Step number one is to have your thoracic mobility checked by a chiropractor as this is directly related to scapulothoracic rhythm. We can then look at a few activation exercises.

Shoulders are a naturally unstable joint so it is all about prevention!

Then, Give these exercises a try and enjoy a healthier shoulder!

1.) Standing Bent Row’s from a low pully- An easy modification to the traditional seated row is to stand instead of sitting. Find a low pulley, attach the traditional pull-down bar,  knees bent, core tight and focus on squeezing the shoulder blades together. You will feel this in your rhomboids and your mid to lower lats/traps if performed correctly. You can also easily switch it up by changing grips, handles etc.

2.) Standing modified pull-downs- Using a traditional pull-down station, stand about a foot behind the seat in a split stance. Using the traditional lat pull-down bar aim to pull your shoulder blades down and back.

3.) Face-Pulls with a Rope Attachment- Again using a traditional lat pull-down station or a high cable pulley, attach the rope, assume a split stance position and aim to pull the rope toward eye level, separating the two handles while contracting your back by pinching your shoulder blades together (down and back back.)

 

Keep Moving.

 

Dr. James Ellis

www.evolvedhealthchiropractic.com