Monday, November 29, 2010

Do you "Believe in Chiropractic?"

As a Chiropractor for over 16 years, I hear this statement all too regularly..."I don't really believe in Chiropractic." I guess it cracks me up (no pun intended) that people still view my profession as some kind of religion to be believed in or not.

The truth is that Chiropractic research is abounding. This is not about believing the dogma, it is about science.  I am still amazed after over 100 years that I hear people question the safety and effectiveness of Chiropractic. The fact that I spend more on car insurance than I do on malpractice insurance should be enough to convince people, yet old habits and dogma die hard.

Wilk v. American Medical Association

I understand what people mean when they say they don't believe. It is about people believing in the stories perpetuated by the medical profession. I am not just being a conspiracy theorist, this effort to stamp out the profession of Chiropractic is well documented and the year I entered Chiropractic school, the Wilk's case had just been decided. Wilk v. American Medical Association, (7th Cir. 1990), was a federal antitrust suit brought against the American Medical Association (AMA) and 10 co-defendants by chiropractor Chester A. Wilk, DC, and four co-plaintiffs. It resulted in a ruling against the AMA, saying they had engaged in an unlawful conspiracy in restraint of trade "to contain and eliminate the chiropractic profession." (Wilk v. American Medical Ass'n, 671 F. Supp. 1465, N.D. Ill. 1987). The judge further wrote that the "AMA had entered into a long history of illegal behavior". And, this judge issued a permanent injunction against the AMA to prevent such future behavior.

I BELIEVE IN CHIROPRACTIC!  I also believe that if people knew what I knew, they might do what I do.  This Oprah quote, as great as it is, requires a person to not only be open to new ideas, it also depends on someone letting go of ideas that are not working for them. We as a society, we are getting sicker and sicker (the US uses more prescription drugs than the rest of the world combined).  I am going to commence a series on Safety, Efficacy and Satisfaction as it relates to Chiropractic.  I hope you learn something new that will lead you to a greater expression of health, especially using Chiropractic as the foundation of that healing.

I believe in Chiropractic FIRST!!  Enjoy!

Dr. Stephanie Maj has a thriving family practice in the heart of Chicago. Her clinic is located at 1442 W. Belmont Ave., 1E, Chicago, IL 60657. 773.528.8485.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Ergonomic 101 - Proper Lying Posture

As I was wrapping up my series on ergonomics, I was reminded that I had left out one of the most important positions:  SLEEPING!  This is the number one question that new patients ask and very crucial because approximately 1/3 of our life is spent lying in bed, on the couch, and on the floor. Like other positions, there is a right way and a wrong way to lie. For individuals suffering from pain, modifications may be necessary to obtain a "pain-free" position or a position which does not aggravate the pain.

Lying On Your Stomach (the evil position)

Extended periods of "stomach lying" should be avoided. This can be the sole reason patients experience pain.  This is because excessive stress is placed on the joints of the low back and because excessive rotation must take place in the neck. Neck pain, back pain, headaches, dizziness, as well as arm paresthesias are commonly experienced when in this position for an extended period of time. If you must lie in this position to relieve pain or for some other reason, keep one leg bent with the same side arm raised with approximately 90 degrees of flexion at the shoulder and elbow joints.

Lying On Your Back

Most people find lying on their back to be a relatively comfortable position. For individuals suffering from back problems, placing a folded pillow underneath the knees will help reduce tension in the lower back and make this position more tolerable. Some individuals may also find placing a small pillow or towel under their lower back to be helpful. This will help to maintain the natural curve of the lumbar spine.

Lying On Your Side

Lying on your side is a favored position by many individuals. It may also be a comfortable position that provides relief for individuals with back problems. It's important while in this position to have adequate support for the head and neck. A pillow which fills the gap between the head/neck and the bed should be used to keep the head and neck in line with the rest of the spine. Additionally, placing a pillow between the knees will help reduce lumbar and pelvic torsion. Women with larger hip and small waists will find a small pillow under the waist will prevent lateral bending of the spine while lying on the side.

Choosing A Pillow

Choosing a pillow which supports the cervical spine is extremely important, especially for those with neck or upper back problems as well as those with a history of headaches. There are a number of cervical pillows on the market, however, many of the inexpensive pillows (those under $20) are poorly designed with rigid foam which does not conform to the natural contours of the head and neck. Look for a cervical pillow which will contour to the shape and size of your head and neck while still providing support. Don't be scared to spend a little extra on a high quality pillow - it's well worth the money, and besides, it's something you'll use everyday.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Ergonomics 101-Proper Lifting Techniques

This is the final installment in my series on Ergonomics. I find that little injuries built up over time are cause of most of my patient's problems. My wish is for everyone to learn a little something that they can take back to work that will keep them just a bit safer. This series is full of helpful hits. Dig in people!!

Dr. Steph

The Squat Lift - Ideally, objects should be lifted via the squat lift. With the back relatively straight, the knees are bent so that low back stress is minimized. While this does not seem as easy or natural as simply bending forward at the waist it significantly minimizes the lower spinal stress which can lead to numerous injuries including intervertebral disc herniation. Also, keep the feet wide apart when lifting the object and be sure to keep the object as close to your body as possible.

When Bending The Knees Is Difficult - For individuals who cannot fully bend the knees in order to pick up objects some bending of the spine may be necessary. In these cases, be sure the object being lifting is not heavy and most importantly, be sure to keep the object as close to the body as possible. The farther the object is away from the body the greater the stress on the spine.

The Golden Rule of Lifting - As stated above, be sure to keep objects as close to the body as possible during the lifting and carrying of objects.

Repetitive and Heavy Lifting - Even when proper lifting techniques are used repetitive stress injuries to the spine will occur if objects are too heavy or lifting is done continuously to the point that the spinal musculature becomes fatigued. Never lift heavy objects alone - get assistance or use a dolly. Never lifting continuously to the point that spinal muscles become fatigued. This will dramatically increase the odds of sustaining spinal injury.

Diagonal Lift - The diagonal lift is useful for heavier items that are close to the ground, such as a heavy box. Because this lift requires that you get down close to the item, you protect your back by making your legs do the lift.

Instead of approaching an item straight on, come at it diagonally from one corner. Lower your body down and place one knee on the ground. Gather the item onto your thigh and into your lap. With your back straight and your arms secured around the item, set your core muscles, and stand straight up - making sure your head rises before your hips.

Dr. Stephanie Maj has a thriving family practice in the heart of Chicago. Her clinic is located at 1442 W. Belmont Ave., 1E, Chicago, IL 60657. 773.528.8485.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Gratitude Rather than Dread for the Holidays

A good friend of mine and coach Dr. Pat Gaymen sent out a November reminder.  The note was motivated by something I was reminded of today in my office. Today we hung our banner for our annual 12 Days of Cheer event-where we celebrate our patients for 12 days in December, offering New Patient exams and adjustments in exchange for helping us sponsor a family for the holidays. Plus, we give your patients a gift for all of those 12 days! This is all great stuff, right?

My question is why we are getting so many moans and groans? Maybe it is the imminent winter, the reality that the sun is going bye bye. These comments bring up pictures of dread instead of joy. This month please I am joining Dr. Gaymen in a crusade to remind people that the Holidays are about gratitude, joy, fun, friends and family. They are about an opportunity to give our time, our love, our money to others. And the blessing for you is that you have a chance to change your routine and have some fun in the process. 
  • Really think about giving thanks
  • Create a Gratitude Board in your office and ask people to post what they are thankful for (Get some leaf or turkey or cornucopia notepads for fun)
  • Take time to plan
  •  What can you eliminate from your regular routine?
  • Decide to make this season a good one.
  • What can you add that will make this a truly happy, loving time?
  • Have you looked at the sparkling night sky lately?
  • Decide how you want this Season to be for you and your family
  • Set the wheels in motion to make that happen (as closely as possible)
  • Make of list of people or things that enrich your life – then thank them Find someone or some place where you can enrich someone’s life
  • Get children involved in being thankful
  • Notice the magnificent colors Mother Nature is showing us
  • Enjoy company while you cook (if you do)
  • Bring is some beautiful leaves to be part of your decorations
  • Get a massage right in the middle of everything else
  • Invite someone to spend time with you and let them know they are important to you
  • Enjoy the feel of the crisp Fall weather
  • Take time to notice the joy of giving 

Monday, November 15, 2010

Ergonomics 101-Taking Mini-Breaks and Stretching

Taking small periodic breaks doesn't just allow you to have a mini-mental vacation from the constant reins of work, it's also an important opportunity to reduce built-up physical tension by stretching out your contracted and tensed body. Every 30 to 40 minutes your body needs to move, stretch and get out of any position that it's been stuck in.

Assuming that your working position is in the seated posture, the following stretches can be performed throughout the day, everyday, to keep your body happy and healthy. All stretches should be held for 15-30 seconds and performed 1-3 times, depending on the amount of time you have. Hold the stretch in a position in which you can feel the muscles comfortably stretch.

Basic Neck Stretches
Eyes To The Sky - Extend your head backwards while allowing your mouth to open. Allowing your mouth to open allows for a greater stretch to the muscles of the anterior neck. If you experience any balance problems, stretch the neck in the seated position only.
Ear To Shoulder - With your head centered over your shoulders, drop one ear to the same side shoulder. You should feel the opposite side of your neck stretch. You may increase the stretch by applying pressure to the top of the head with your hand. Repeat on the opposite side.
Chin To Chest - Drop your head forward while tucking your chin in towards your neck. Place one hand on the top of the head and gently apply added pressure if you wish to increase the stretch. This stretch affects the posterior cervical musculature.

Lateral Torso Stretch - While seated, grasp the lateral thigh or armrest of the chair with your opposite side arm and rotate your torso by pulling with the hand. Repeat to the opposite side.

Anterior Torso Stretch - In a seated or standing position with your hands interconnected place them behind your head and neck. Then, squeeze your shoulder blades together and extend your back slightly.

Posterior Torso Stretch - In the seated position with your buttocks on the forward edge of the chair, spread your legs apart and lean your torso forward, between your legs. If your back and hamstring muscles are tight, you will feel them stretch during this movement.

These are just some of the many stretches which can and should be performed frequently.

Dr. Stephanie Maj has a thriving family practice in the heart of Chicago. Her clinic is located at 1442 W. Belmont Ave., 1E, Chicago, IL 60657. 773.528.8485.

Important Note: Do not perform any exercise or stretch without the recommendation of a licensed health care professional. If performing exercises or stretches at the recommendation of a licensed health care professional, immediately discontinue and seek professional medical assistance should unusual or abnormal pain and/or discomfort arise.Any and all exercises, stretches or similar contained within or available from this website are meant only for active patients of our office who have been specifically advised to perform said exercises, stretches or similar.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Ergonomics 101-Setting Up Your Workstation

Having a well planned, ergonomically designed workstation increases productivity, minimizes repetitive stress injuries, increases employee morale, and increases the bottom line. Since everybody has different tasks and different body types, no one workstation setup is ideal for everyone. There are, however, some basic guidelines that should be abided by when designing a workstation.

Space - There needs to be adequate space for you to comfortably accomplish all tasks required of you. If you're constantly running into others or cannot properly function due to lack of adequate space physical and emotional stress increases while productivity decreases.

Equipment - Having the proper equipment which has been designed for the task at hand is essential. Equipment should be compatible with other equipment and be ergonomically designed to conform to your specific duties. Chairs should move freely in the work area and fit under desks and tables, lighting should fully light all work areas while not reflecting off of monitor screens, and computers and monitors should fit desks properly so screens can be read in comfortable positions and computer discs can be inserted without getting on all fours under the desk.

General Layout - Plan ahead. If you know what tasks you will be performing and what equipment you need, draw a floor plan and include equipment, furniture and accessory placement. Be sure keep those items used most frequently within reach are nearby to minimize strain and twisting. Commonly used equipment and other materials should be within reach from your primary workstation position.

Accessories - Add stackable document holders, have your Rolodex nearby, purchase telephone headsets and any other items which can help to organize your workstation and keep all important and frequently used materials within your reach.

Dr. Stephanie Maj has a thriving family practice in the heart of Chicago. Her clinic is located at 1442 W. Belmont Ave., 1E, Chicago, IL 60657. 773.528.8485.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Ergonomics 101-Proper Telephone Techniques

Probably one of the biggest problems facing my patients with office positions....the dreaded phone-propping (note the picture)!  My hope is to give some pointers on how to manage this tricky task. Remember, headsets are the BEST!! Good luck and enjoy! Dr. Stephanie

Spending prolonged periods of time on the telephone can lead to chronic neck, shoulder and upper back pain disorders. Using the proper techniques and equipment is key in preventing these problems from developing.

Phone Location - The telephone should be located close to the main working area such that it is easily reached without having to twist, bend or overly stretch.

Shoulder Rests - For individuals who like to have their hands free when on the telephone we highly recommend not using a shoulder rest extension on your receiver. This still requires you to cock your head in order to keep the receiver next to the ear. This position places stress on the supporting structures of the neck and can throw the neck out of alignment. Rather, purchase a headset device. They have become plentiful and fairly inexpensive. Note the WRONG phone position in the above photo!

Speaker Phone - Using a speaker phone allows for maximum flexibility to work while talking. However, for some this may not be appropriate such as during times that clarity, volume and professionalism are required. If this is the case, look into purchasing a headset.

Headsets - Headsets are the most versatile telephone utility. They enable you to work uninhibited while on the telephone and keep your body in an ergonomically safe position.

Writing Materials - Be sure to keep a pen and pad of paper near your telephone so messages can be immediately taken without changing position or straining to grab the appropriate materials.

Dr. Stephanie Maj has a thriving family practice in the heart of Chicago. Her clinic is located at 1442 W. Belmont Ave., 1E, Chicago, IL 60657. 773.528.8485.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Ergonomics 101-Adjusting Your Monitor

Maintaining the correct monitor height will prevent many problems with your eyes, neck and upper back. A monitor improperly positioned can irritate neck musculature, alter the normal spinal curves, induce eyestrain and even initiate migraine headaches.

Monitor Distance - The monitor should be located directly in front of the area where you're positioned to view the monitor. The preferred distance from your eyes to the actual screen varies with the size of the monitor and the current resolution settings. A 17 inch monitor should be located no less than 20 inches away. For smaller monitors you may need to be a little closer and for larger monitors a little farther away.

Monitor Settings - In conjunction with setting up the ideal distance between you and your monitor you may additionally need to alter the monitors resolution, contrast and brightness settings. This will allow characters and images to display clearly preventing squinting and eyestrain. The settings will vary depending on the distance you are from the monitor, the background you have on your active screen, the amount and type of lighting at your workstation, and the quality of your vision.

Lighting and Glare - Improperly positioned lighting can also wreak havoc on your ability to comfortably view your monitors display. Solutions include moving your monitor, moving the lighting, closing blinds or curtains, adjusting your monitors brightness setting, installing an anti-glare screen on your monitor, changing your background color to a lighter color, or even taping paper or cardboard along the edges of the monitor to act as a "visor".

Monitor Height - The proper monitor height is vital in preventing gradual neck and upper back strain. The most effective way to determine correct monitor height is to sit correctly in your chair or where ever you view your monitor. Next, close your eyes and position your body and head in a neutral and comfortable position - your spine should be straight and head centered over your shoulders. Then, open your eyes and note at which point your eyes are initially focused on. This area should correlate to the center of your monitors screen or the part of the screen you view most frequently.

Dr. Stephanie Maj has a thriving family practice in the heart of Chicago. Her clinic is located at 1442 W. Belmont Ave., 1E, Chicago, IL 60657. 773.528.8485.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Ergonomics 101-Choosing the Right Chair

Prolonged sitting is a frequent cause of back and neck pain. And while extended periods of sitting are best avoided, for many, it's a fact of life.

When sitting, it's important to keep the back straight, knees bent, and head centered over the shoulders. Slouching forward may be comfortable and allow the spinal muscles to relax but gradually overstretches spinal ligaments, leading to back and neck pain among other problems. We always encourage patients to maintain a "neutral spine" position at all time is ideal.

Seat Backrest - The proper chair has a backrest which slightly inclines backwards. This has the effect of relaxing the spinal musculature and decreasing spinal discal pressure.

Armrests - Armrests provide support for the arms which helps to reduce the work load and stress on the trapezius and shoulder muscles. The armrest height should allow the forearms to comfortably rest while being low enough to go underneath tables or desks in the work area.

Lumbar Support - Having a lumbar support either built into the chair or inserting a portable lumbar support helps to maintain your natural lower back curve. These small supports are quite handy, effective and relatively inexpensive.

Seat Bottom Angle - The seat angle relative to the floor is more of a personal preference than an exact science, as long as a neutral spine can be maintained in comfort. In general, the more the seat bottom tilts forward the more extension of your lower back will occur to keep you in a neutral position.

Seat Height - The height of the seat should be so that it allows you to sit all the way back in the seat while your feet are still able to reach the floor. If they can't and you're stuck with the chair, use a footrest to remedy the problem.

In addition to the suggestions provided above, it's important to:

  • Be aware of your posture throughout the day and be sure to maintain a neutral spine -no slouching
  • Take mini breaks on a regular basis when in a prolonged position and remember to stretch
  • Have the right equipment and tools for working in a prolonged position, use ergonomically designed furniture and keep a lumbar support in your car for "chair crises"
Dr. Stephanie Maj has a thriving family practice in the heart of Chicago. Her clinic is located at 1442 W. Belmont Ave., 1E, Chicago, IL 60657. 773.528.8485.