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August 2013

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Headaches and Chiropractic

The title above is from a release by the American Chiropractic Association on August 2, 2013, that appeared in several news outlets including the American News. The release, and several associated news articles discuss how chiropractic helps people who suffer from headaches.

The ACA release begins by noting, "If you have a headache, you're not alone. Nine out of ten Americans suffer from headaches. Some are occasional, some frequent, some are dull and throbbing, and some cause debilitating pain and nausea."

Another article about chiropractic and headaches in the Merritt Herald from Canada on July 24, 2013, starts by stating, "Did you know that one of the most common forms of headache is actually caused by problems in the neck?" 

The ACA release reported on research of how chiropractic helps headaches by noting, "A report released in 2001 by researchers at the Duke University Evidence-Based Practice Center in Durham, N.C., found that spinal manipulation (adjustments) resulted in almost immediate improvement for those headaches that originate in the neck, and had significantly fewer side effects and longer-lasting relief of tension-type headache than a commonly prescribed medication."

Using chiropractic care for headaches is not a common medical procedure. This fact was illustrated in the Merritt Herald article, "Unfortunately, the medical understanding of headaches often does not take into account the chiropractic model, which remains foreign to many within the medical profession." 

The Merritt Herald article also reported that this information is not new, noting that, "In 1995, a team of MDs at Syracuse University established neck problems as the cause of many headaches with scientific, anatomical proof."  The researchers were headed up by Dr. Rothbart, a medical doctor. 

In an interview after the research, Dr. Rothbart stated, "Some brilliant people have put their hearts, souls and minds to this (headache) problem and haven't come up with anything. All we've been able to do is treat people with an array of medicines, one after the other, and hope the side effects wonít be too bad. We couldnít believe it at first. Weíve been able to put together a scientific explanation for how neck structure causes headaches ó not all headaches, but a significant number of them. It's true that chiropractors have been saying this for years. Unfortunately, many (medical) doctors tend to have a jaundiced view of chiropractors, but they were right about headaches."

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Back to School Spurs Backpack Safety Concerns

The headline, "Minnesota Chiropractors Encourage Backpack Safety," appeared in the The Sacramento Bee from California published on August 3, 2013. The article explained that as students are returning to school, we need to be aware about how backpacks can create health hazards.

The release carried by PRNewswire-USNewswire from the Minnesota Chiropractic Association starts with the warning, "Over 79 million students carry a backpack to school each day. However, most students are unaware of the potential hazards such as neck and back problems that come with the improper use of backpacks."

The Minnesota Chiropractic Association release does offer some practical solutions to avoid spinal problems created from backpacks. These are:

  1. Wear both shoulder straps evenly to properly distribute backpack weight.
  2. Get the correct size backpack for you and/or your child.
  3. Do not pack too much weight and remember that no one should carry more than 25 pounds in a backpack.
  4. The backpack should not extend below the lower back. Bigger is not better.
  5. Lighten the load and put the heaviest items in the backpack first keeping them close to the body.
  6. Lift the backpack with your legs and place it on one shoulder strap at a time.
  7. Do not leave backpacks on the floor where they can become a tripping hazard.
  8. Choose a quality backpack that has wide well-cushioned shoulder straps with a lumbar support/padding.

Dr. John Maltby, Past President of the International Chiropractors Association voiced a concern about backpacks by saying, "Nothing is more important than the health and proper function of a child's nervous system. The spine houses a major part of the nervous system, the spinal cord. A healthy spine free of subluxations is essential for nervous system function. Backpacks when carried improperly, or overloaded can be a major form of stress on a young developing spine, create subluxations, and can have serious effects on nerve system function and general health."

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Chiropractic Care: Solution for Migraines

The headline above is from an article that appeared on August 7, 2013, in the Times of India. The article, appearing in the Health and Fitness section, introduces chiropractic to the people of India as a solution for migraine headaches.

The article begins by saying, "The remedy for a migraine eludes most people despite the many years of suffering, until they are introduced to chiropractic care." The article defines migraines as, "A migraine is described as an incapacitating condition that is characterized by a throbbing headache, which occurs in episodes that lasts from several hours to 3 days."

The World Health Organization states that 10% of the world's adult population suffers from migraines. This problem accounts for over 2% of years lost as a result of disability as measured globally. Additional facts included in the article show that worldwide, over 40 million people suffer from migraines, with three million Americans suffering from chronic migraines.

With these large numbers, the author of the article states the threat and offers a solution, "These figures are staggering and they indicate the imminent threat migraines pose to individuals and the economy in general. Therefore, it makes sense for people to embrace the answer for migraines; chiropractic care."

The article continues by explaining the general failure of medical care to correct migraines. The article also explains how  chiropractic helps. "...the main cause of their migraines is a misalignment of their upper cervical spine, which can effectively and efficiently be readjusted through chiropractic care, resulting in recovery from migraine."

These misalignments are known as subluxations. Subluxations are when bones of the spine become misaligned and cause pressure or irritation of spinal nerves. This then results in nerve malfunction which can lead to a number of health issues. Subluxations of the upper bones of the neck can lead to migraines. "Once the underlying causes are located and dealt with in the most suitable chiropractic techniques, the occurrences of migraines are greatly reduced and in most instances, stopped."

The article concludes by offering the results of a study that shows chiropractic can help migraines. "According to studies conducted to examine the ability of chiropractic care to treat migraines, chiropractic care is the most effective, safest and most efficient in providing long term benefits with the least number of side effects compared to other remedies."

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Chronic Migraine Headaches Helped with Chiropractic - A Case Study

A study published in the Journal of Upper Cervical Chiropractic Research on July 22, 2013, documents the case of a 75-year-old woman suffering from migraines who was helped with chiropractic care.  The Journal study reports that, "Migraine headaches are common and disabling, with an estimated 35 million US citizens experiencing a migraine in 2005."

A review of medical sources on migraines shows that the medical profession does not have an understanding  as to the cause of migraines, and their only treatment is medication in an attempt to alleviate the pain.

However, the authors of this study suggest that, "Many investigations suggest that chiropractic care may be of benefit to patients suffering with headaches including migraines."

In this case, a 75-year-old woman presented herself to the chiropractor with migraines. She had been diagnosed with migraines as a teenager and suffered with them ever since.  She had never been to a chiropractor prior to this time as reported in this case study. The woman reported that her migraine headaches were rated about an 8 out of 10, with 10 being the worst. She had taken numerous pain killers and anti-inflammatories in an attempt to help the problem.

The chiropractic examination and analysis including x-rays led to the conclusion that there was a subluxation at the upper neck known as the atlas. Based on this information, a specific form of upper neck adjustments was initiated to correct the subluxation in the upper cervical area of the neck.

The case study notes that after 10 weeks of care, the patient's migraines reduced from an 8 out of 10, to a 3 out of 10. The improvement was verified by examination procedures as well as by her medical physician. The study authors reported, "Upon re-evaluation with the patientís medical doctor, the patient stated an improvement in the overall frequency and duration of migraines, as well as a reduction of her medications, but the exact dosages was not given."

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Resolution of a Motor Tic Disorder Following Chiropractic Care

A case study published on July 29, 2013, in the Journal of Pediatric, Maternal & Family Health documents the case of a young girl who was suffering from motor tic disorder who was helped by chiropractic.  The authors describe motor tics by noting, "Tics are defined as sudden repetitive motions or vocalizations, non-rhythmic movements or sounds that are produced by an individual, which serves no true purpose."

In this case, a 7-year-old girl was brought to a chiropractic office after being diagnosed by her pediatrician with a motor tic disorder.  She had been having problems with this condition since the age of five.  The girl's MD was going to perform an MRI and prescribe medication in an attempt to control the tics.

According to the researchers, the chiropractic examination revealed that the girl had a right head tilt, right elevated shoulder, and right elevated hip which was gathered from observation of the patient standing in a neutral position.  Upon palpation of her spine multiple areas of subluxation were noted in the girl's neck. In accordance with her chiropractic findings specific chiropractic adjustments were begun to correct the determined subluxations in her spine.

The study reports that the girl's mother started noticing immediate improvement in her daughter after the initiation of chiropractic care.  After just one adjustment the girl was experiencing a 25% reduction in the number and frequency of her tics.  After the second adjustment, there was a 50% reduction in the girl's tics. The girl's mother also reported that her daughter no longer complained of neck discomfort.

After the third chiropractic adjustment, the researchers report that the girl was no longer experiencing any motor tics. She also no longer suffered from neck discomfort.  The authors noted that the girl has remained under periodic chiropractic care and remained tic free.

In their conclusion the authors wrote, "This case report demonstrates the immediate resolution and successful chiropractic treatment of a neurological tic disorder in a 7-year-old female. The review of literature shows the positive effects of chiropractic care for the treatment of tic disorders, and provides supporting evidence for the use of chiropractic for tic disorders."

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Kids Who Were Breastfed Longer Have Higher IQs

The headline above is from a July 29, 2013, story that appeared on the NBC News website in the health section. The report was based on a study published on the same day in the Journal of the American Medical Association Pediatrics.

The NBC News article starts by stating, "Young children who were breastfed as infants scored higher on intelligence tests than formula-fed kids, and the longer and more exclusively they were breastfed, the greater the difference."  File:Breastfeeding.jpgIn this study 1312 expecting mothers were analyzed between 1999 and 2002. Data was collected on whether or not their babies were breast fed and for how long after birth. The children were then examined at ages 3 and 7 to determine their relative language skills and their intelligence.

The results of the study showed that  longer breastfeeding duration was associated with higher vocabulary test scores at age three and higher intelligence scores at age seven. On average, babies who were exclusively breastfed during their entire first six months of life scored a 4.8 point gain in verbal IQ.  Mothers who did a mix of any feeding with breast feeding during the first 12 months of their babies' lives resulted in their children having an average 4.2 verbal IQ point increase over those who did not breastfeed.

Dr. Mandy Belfort, lead author and assistant professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School commented in the NBC article, "As a result, we felt we were able to get a reasonable estimate of what the relationship is between the length of breastfeeding and the IQ of the child at school age."  In trying to explain what is responsible for this increase in IQ in breastfed babies, Dr. Belfort stated, "All the nutrients we know that are important for infants are also in formula, but there may be others that we donít know about yet that are responsible."

Pediatrician Dr. Michael Georgieff, director of the Center for Neurobehavioral Development at the University of Minnesota Medical School, who was not involved in the study, commented in the NBC article, "I would take three or four IQ points any given day. Itís a pretty significant shift, especially demographically across the world if everyone were to make that gain." 

The article reports that in the United States, 72% of mothers breastfeed their babies.  This is a higher rate than in years past. According to the CDC's Breastfeeding Report Card 2013, 77% of US mothers begin breastfeeding, and 49% of them continue to breast feed up to six months.  This is a sharp increase from the year 2000 when only 35% of babies were breastfed by six months of age.

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