November 2006


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Jobs Most at Risk From Back Problems

An article from the October 7, 2006 BBC News in the United Kingdom reports on a survey study listing the 5 top jobs most likely to cause back issues among workers in the United Kingdom.  The list, compiled and published by the British Chiropractic Association (BCA) has some surprising findings.

The study conducted by the BCA surveyed 2,374 people, found that 59% of the working population, in the top category at risk for back problems, sit down all day.  Many of these people do not leave their desks even for a lunch break.  This sedentary lifestyle coupled with  positioning and long hours puts office workers at a higher risk than the excessive lifting and carrying done by those employed in manual jobs. The top five list as released by the British Chiropractic Association is as follows:

  1. Office Worker - Long periods of time sitting in awkward positions, often slouched over computer keyboards, or maybe sitting at chairs not properly adjusted for their needs.
  2. Nurse - Long shifts, often on their feet all day as well as lifting and carrying.
  3. Driver - Hours a day spent at the wheel, sitting in a poor position, along with limited movement.
  4. Laborer - Repeated strain from lifting heavy weights and often twisting in awkward positions.
  5. Teacher & Nursery Staff - Continuously bending down to a child’s height and lifting children can cause back problems

Dr. Tim Hutchful speaking for the BCA comments: “This survey has highlighted what we chiropractors have known for some time. Lack of exercise and sedentary lifestyle is taking its toll. It is assumed that those most at risk from back pain are the ones who have very physical jobs however, as this research has unveiled, whilst lifting and carrying are still common triggers for back pain, it is those with less physically demanding jobs and who are often seated for the majority of the day that could be most prone to back problems.”

According to the BCA, one third of UK citizens will suffer from some sort of back problem. Dr. Hutchful added: "For many who work in an office environment, it is the day-to-day, mundane routines that are at the root of most back problems. Hunching over computer keyboards and cradling the phone between the ear and shoulder can all contribute to lower back and neck stiffness, not to mention the fact that many office workers sit for hours at a time with very little movement."



Flu Jabs Could be a Waste of Time

The above is a portion of a headline from the October 27, 2006 issue of the United Kingdom publication the Telegraph. The article, and several others on the same subject, were initiated because of a report appearing in the October 28, 2006 issue of the prestigious British Medical Journal (BMJ).  In the BMJ report, Dr. Tom Jefferson notes that many studies on flu vaccinations were of poor quality and showed evidence of bias.

Dr. Jefferson is the coordinator of the vaccines section of the Cochrane Collaboration, an independent group that reviews research and tests its validity.  According to the Telegraph article Dr. Jefferson has analyzed the best available evidence showing the impact of vaccination on the population. He states, "I am interested in the gap between evidence and policy. I have looked at the facts. All I can say is that I have not found the evidence."

After an extensive review of scientific studies available on Flu vaccinations, Dr. Jefferson found that up to the age of two, infants were no better off getting the vaccination than getting a placebo.  Likewise, he also found that there was little evidence of benefit for older children as well.  Contrary to common vaccination recommendations he could not find enough evidence of benefit for people with chronic chest problems, asthma and cystic fibrosis.

The report even points out the lack of consistent evidence in elderly populations.  Dr. Jefferson noted the wide swing in statistics and attributes this inconsistency to biased reporting and inconsistencies in surveillance. In healthy populations, the BMJ report showed no evidence of need for Flu vaccine. The evidence showed among  healthy people under 65 who received a flu vaccination, there was no effect on possible hospital stay, time off work, or death from influenza and its complications. 

Dr. Jefferson's report calls into question the aggressive vaccination policies and recommendations. The report noted, "The large gap between policy and what the data tell us (when rigorously assembled and evaluated) is surprising."  In concluding his report, Dr. Jefferson remarks on the common fear spread about Flu predictions which commonly make the general press and send masses scurrying to get their shots, "The optimistic and confident tone of some predictions of viral circulation and of the impact of inactivated vaccines, which are at odds with the evidence, is striking."

As a side note, 28 news outlets reported on this finding from the BMJ. It is interesting to note that no mainstream US news outlets covered the story and only 3 news publications of any kind in the US even carried this story.



Life Changed Under Chiropractic, Case Study

From the October 11, 2006 issue of the peer reviewed publication, the Journal of Vertebral Subluxation Research (JVSR), comes a documented case study of a 36 year old man whose life was changed by chiropractic.  In this case study, the individual was suffering from a variety of ailments including; self reported stress, eye pain and left leg pain of 14 years going down into the foot. He additionally had complains of gastritis, ulcers, nervousness, depression, lack of concentration and general loss of interest in daily life.

His lifestyle was not ideal, it was noted that the patient smokes, did not exercise, and regularly ate a sub-optimal diet. It was also noted that the patient also had a history of alcoholism with several bouts of severe binge drinking which resulted in falls. The authors of this case report noted that the initiation of chiropractic care by itself is not "sufficient intervention to allow a person to achieve total health.” But they did note that "patients under chiropractic care tend, as their subluxations reduce, to spontaneously take up lifestyle changes or health enhancing activities."

The care rendered on this individual was specific for correction of vertebral subluxations. The patient was periodically re-evaluated for correction of subluxations and was asked to self rate his overall health and quality of life.  After the 6 months period, the patient experienced a (self rated) 95% improvement in left leg pain, headaches and eye pain.  He also reported an improvement in his secondary health concerns which included a decrease in stress levels, nervousness, lack of concentration, irritability and apathy, as well normalization of digestive function. After 6 months of care, the patient was physically pain-free and did not have to use medications.  He reported his overall health to be improved 100% after six months of chiropractic care.

In addition to the physical changes the patient also made many positive lifestyle changes while under chiropractic care. These spontaneous changes include smoking cessation, listening to classical music, start of regular exercise, relaxation and breathing exercises, as well as better nutritional choices. The authors of the case study felt it was important to point out that the patient was never told to undertake these changes.  He was, after the fact, provided resources and guidance to help him fulfill his newly discovered health interests.



Study Finds Risks of Ritalin in Preschool Kids

An October 19, 2006 Associated Press (AP) story reporting on a new long term government study showed 30% of preschool children suffered severe adverse reactions after taking Ritalin. The study, published in the November 2006 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, calls into question the efficacy and usage of these types of drugs.

In an Associated Press story of October 19, 2006 on this report, it was noted that the drug isn't approved for use in children under age 6.  In spite of this Ritalin is widely used in younger children and the article noted that according to the study, preschoolers are more likely than older children to develop side effects.

This report is concerned with the overuse of Ritalin in children not diagnosed as "severe". Dr. Thomas Insel, director of the National Institute of Mental Health, cautioned, "We're not talking about fidgety 3-year-olds." He noted that the study focused on severe cases, "cases that included hanging from ceiling fans, jumping off slides or playing with fire."

Dr. Sidney Wolfe of the watchdog group Public Citizen added, "I hope publication of this does not lead to more over prescribing," he said . "The safety isn't adequately established, the efficacy even less."

Usage of this drug had physical effects found in the study. During the 70-week study, preschoolers on methylphenidate, or generic Ritalin, grew about half an inch less and gained about 2 pounds less than expected.  In this study, 11% of the183 preschoolers who participated discontinued drug use due to adverse events.

It should be noted that according to the AP article, previous studies found that approximately 1 in 100 preschoolers had been prescribed Ritalin, even though this drug has only been approved for use in children aged 6 and older. They noted that usage in younger children is considered "off-label" but is not illegal.



Chiropractic Helps Addicts Kick the Habit

The July 14, 2006 issue of the Psychology Today Online carried a story with the subtitle " Beating addiction may take an extra nudge from the chiropractor."  This article, in a mainstream psychological publication, starts off by following the success story of one individual enrolled in the Exodus addiction treatment center of South Florida.  The article notes that this center has a much higher rate of success in addiction treatment than the national average for such centers.

When this one patient was asked what he attributed his success to he noted, "I think that chiropractic care was an integral part of my recovery."  The Exodus center adds chiropractic care to the normal treatment of addiction. The article then asks, "But what does the spine have to do with addiction?"  The connection is explained by the effect chiropractic care has on the nervous system and  brain chemicals called neurotransmitters that under chiropractic care are released in a specific sequence and a state of well-being.

The article notes that "subluxations" interfere with normal nerve transmission and therefore interfere with the normal chemical sequence.  Chiropractic care is designed to correct subluxations, return normal nerve functions and therefore allow the chemical sequence to return to normal.

The article recalls a study, previously published in the scientific journal Molecular Psychiatry, that proves the reasoning behind the success seen at Exodus. In the original study, 98 subjects enrolled in the Exodus program for addiction treatment received frequent chiropractic adjustments over a 30-day period. These subjects were compared to two other groups of patients who did not receive chiropractic. One group called the passive group, underwent only standard rehabilitation, and another, a placebo group, received sham chiropractic care.

The national average for completion of addiction programs is about 55 percent.  In the study noted above the two non-chiropractic groups had completion rates similar to the national average.  However, the patients in the group that received chiropractic care displayed an unprecedented 100 percent program completion rate.

Dr. Jay Holder (pictured right) of the Exodus center stressed in the article that chiropractic care does not represent a new form of treatment for addiction. He noted that chiropractic helps patients use existing treatment more thoroughly.



Reactions to Medications Send Over 700,000 Americans to Emergency Rooms Each Year

A 2 year study published in the October 18, 2006 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, (JAMA), found that during the study period, 21,298 adverse drug event cases were reported in the sampling group.  Transposed nationally, the researchers estimate that  701,547 individuals suffered adverse drug reactions serious enough to require hospitalization.

The study was developed by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration and the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission. It looked at 63 hospitals in 2004 and 2005. The study found that people over 65 were most at risk and that a handful of drugs appear to produce a disproportionately high amount of adverse effects requiring emergency room visits and, in many cases, hospitalization.

Lead author Dr. Daniel Budnitz, a medical epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Infectious Diseases, in an interview in an October 17, 2006 Newsweek article was asked if he was surprised at the high number.  His response was, "Actually, it is most likely an underestimate. It might just pick up a third of the emergency visits—the number could be much higher. We don’t know how much. But we are confident that there were at least 700,000 emergency department visits. Another point to remember is that these are medications that we’re giving to patients to help them, and they are experiencing some degree of harm. So some might argue that even one of these events is bad. All drugs have benefits and risks, so it’s probably unfair to say that every ER visit is unavoidable. But many of these events, especially the most severe—are due to this handful of drugs that we already knew we need to closely monitor."

In an October 18, 2006 New York Times article, professor Bruce Lambert, who was not involved in the research, and is a professor at the college of pharmacy at the University of Illinois, Chicago, commented, "This is an important study because it reinforces the really substantial risks that there are in everyday use of drugs."

Authors of the study concluded, "Adverse drug events among outpatients that lead to emergency department visits are an important cause of morbidity in the United States, particularly among individuals aged 65 years or older. Ongoing, population-based surveillance can help monitor these events and target prevention strategies."



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