September 2006


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Study Shows Even a Single Adjustment Helps Neck Pain

A study published in the September 2006 issue of the scientific journal, The Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, (JMPT), showed that a single chiropractic adjustment helps neck pain.  Although most chiropractors will recommend more than a single adjustment for their patients, this study was designed to see if one adjustment only could have an immediate effect on neck pain. 

In this study 70 patients with neck pain were tested using standardized tests for neck range of motion and pain.  These subjects were randomly separated into two groups.  One group then received a chiropractic adjustment which the study defined as a "high-velocity low-amplitude (HVLA) manipulation."  While the other group received a "control mobilization procedure."  The subjects in both of these groups were then re-tested 5 minutes after the procedure for range of motion and pain.

The results showed that both groups experienced improvements in both range of motion and pain when comparing the pre and post testing.  However, the researchers discovered that those subjects that received the chiropractic adjustment (HVLA) had far superior results than the group that had just mobilization.  Researchers also noted that it did not matter if the subject was male or female.  Essentially, the group that had the chiropractic adjustment had less pain and a better range of motion when tested 5 minutes after the procedure was performed.

This study intentionally did not look at the long term effects of just a single adjustment.  Most chiropractors believe that a series of adjustments are needed to create a lasting change in the spine and nervous system.  However, this study does confirm that even a single specific adjustment does create an immediate positive change.  This study also points out that a chiropractic adjustment is much more effective than random mobilization, such as was received by the control group in this study.

The researchers stated in their conclusion, "A single cervical high velocity-low amplitude manipulation was more effective in reducing neck pain at rest and in increasing active cervical range of motion than a control mobilization procedure in subjects suffering from mechanical neck pain." 



Caesarean Babies Three Times More Likely to Die in First Month

A recent study released by the Centers for Disease Control, (CDC) states that babies born via Caesarean are much more likely to die than those born by natural means.  The story was reported by several news agencies including the September 7, 2006 United Press International (UPI) and the September 8, 2006 Newsday newspaper.

The study, first published in the September 2006 issue of the journal, "Birth", was the result of a very large study where researchers analyzed 5.7 million birth and death records from 1998 to 2001.  What was interesting about the findings is that researchers expected to find the increased death rate in Caesarian born babies being due to medical complications or conditions that led to the usage of Caesarean delivery in the first place.  However, after ruling out these factors this study looked at elective Caesarean procedures and found that the death rate for children born by Caesarean when there was not medical necessity was almost three times the rate of those vaginally delivered.

Researchers then adjusted their findings for other factors such as the mother's age, race or ethnicity, smoking and infant birth weight. Even taking these factors into account the death rate for babies born by Caesarean births was more than twice that of vaginal births.

The lead researcher, Marian MacDorman from the CDC stated: "Neonatal deaths are rare for low-risk women is of the order of one death per 1,000 live births. But even after we adjusted for socioeconomic and medical risk factors, the difference persisted. These findings should be of concern for clinicians and policymakers who are observing the rapid growth in the number of primary Caesareans to mothers without a medical indication."

One of the co-authors of the study, Michael Molloy, added, "When obstetricians review this information, perhaps it will promote greater discussion within the obstetrical community about the pros and cons of offering Caesarean sections for convenience and promote more research into understanding why this increased risk persists."

In the original study, one of the concerns that these findings raised is that "the percentage of United States' births delivered by Caesarean section has increased rapidly in recent years, even for women considered to be at low risk for a Caesarean section."  In the study's conclusions, and noting the differences between vaginal death rates and Caesarians, the authors caution, "Understanding the causes of these differentials is important, given the rapid growth in the number of primary Caesarean without a reported medical indication.



Backpack Safety Big Concern in Press

In a number of different articles backpack safety has become a big issue.  One article from the September 1, 2006 Ancaster News from Ontario, Canada, reports that more than 7,000 people required a trip to the emergency room in 2001 due to backpack-related injuries.  These numbers were reported by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. 

Several other interesting facts were noted. Among children age 12 to 18 it was stated that 75 percent suffer from some form of back pain with backpack weight being a large contributor to this statistic.  According to an Italian study, one-third of school children regularly carried more than 30 per cent of their body weight in their backpack.

In The Sunday Times from Ireland was a similar article on September 03, 2006 that also covered this issue.  In this article they noted that international guidelines suggest that children should carry no more than 10 percent of their total body weight in their backpack.  Virginia Cantillon of the Chiropractic Association of Ireland warned, "We see more kids with problems and a lot is attributable to the weights they are carrying. They are having neck problems, mid- and lower-back pain. They are candidates for back pain down the road.”

Single shoulder bags may not be a solution, and may even make matters worse, according to a September 5, 2006 article from Montreal, Quebec, Canada in the "CBC News".  The article notes that these new single shoulder bags are fashionable, but are a bad idea according to the British Columbia Chiropractic Association.  Dr. Don Nixdorf, executive director of the B.C. Chiropractic Association, warns those who use these new bags, "You'll start to have some pain around the neck, which can also lead to headache, and movement is going to be mechanically impaired."

Another article appearing in the September 2, 2006 Ottawa Sun, also notes that "Overloaded packs can lead to damaged backs."  In this article Dr. Dean Wright, president of the Ontario Chiropractic Association (OCA) states, "Carrying a poorly designed or overloaded backpack can place excessive weight on a child's growing spinal column."  He continued, "This kind of daily stress and strain can lead to serious back pain, changes in posture and gait, and potential irritation and injury of the spine, joints and muscles."



Hospitals Add Alternative Healthcare Choices

WebMD reported on July 20, 2006 that 25% of US Hospitals now offer what they called, "Complementary and Alternative Medicine Therapies."  This information comes from a new survey of nearly 1400 US hospitals showing this trend. Researchers Sita Ananth of Health Forum, an affiliate of the American Hospital Association, and William Martin, PsyD, of the College of Commerce at DePaul University in Chicago, commented, "More and more, patients are requesting care beyond what most consider to be traditional health services, and hospitals are responding to the needs of the communities they serve by offering these therapies."

The article defines Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) as including acupuncture, chiropractic, homeopathy, diet and lifestyle changes, herbal medicine, and massage therapy.  However, many inside the chiropractic profession claim chiropractic should not be classified as an "alternative medicine" as it is a separate and unique health profession.

The American Hospital Association conducts this survey every two years.  These surveys have shown a huge increase, noting that the percentage of hospitals offering one or more CAM services have increased from 8% in 1998 to 27% in 2005.  This trend is most likely in response to consumer requests.  In 2002 a survey from the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, showed that more than half of Americans thought combining non medical health care with conventional medicine would be helpful.

The researchers found in this most recent study that complimentary and alternative medicine offerings were most common in the Midwest, and less common on the West Coast with the South being the least common areas to offer CAM services in hospitals.  The study reported that teaching hospitals had the highest usage with 36% offering these services.  This may coincide with the fact that according to a 2004 study more than 75% of medical schools now require a course in CAM.

Interestingly enough, although there is an increased trend toward offering these services, the study noted that most of these CAM services are paid for by the patients themselves as an out-of-pocket medical expense, and not covered by insurance.



Chiropractic Care Has Mainstream Appeal

The above is the headline of a feature story that appeared in the August 11, 2006 issue of the Post-Crescent, a local news service for the Appleton, Wisconsin area.  The article written by their staff writer, Wendy Harris, takes an overview look at the chiropractic profession and interviews two local chiropractors as sources of information. 

The article starts out by chronicling the story of a young middle school girl named Rachel who had been suffering from frequent migraines.  Her mother, concerned for her daughter took her to a chiropractor who upon examination discovered that Rachel had several congenitally fused bones in her neck.  Apparently these bones had also moved and were irritating nerves and creating young Rachel's problems.

The article then fast forwards to Rachel at 29 and notes that even with her congenital defects she is virtually migraine free, suffering only one or two episodes per year.  The article notes that Rachel credits her chiropractor.  “I used to get migraines at least once a month, and sometimes three times a week,” states Rachel. “They are really infrequent now. My last migraine was six months ago.”

Wendy Harris, the author of the article, notes that chiropractic is presently the United State's third largest primary health care profession.  Only medicine and dentistry have more practitioners.  She also noted that according to the Annals of Internal Medicine, there are approximately 190 million patient visits to chiropractors each year.

The article also quotes Dr. Mark Hallett, a family practice and sports medicine physician who is also medical director of ThedaCare Orthopedics Plus in Appleton Wisconsin.  He states, "There have been more studies that have come out documenting the effectiveness of chiropractic and the cost effectiveness of it.”   The article notes that the result of this is that medical doctors are increasingly referring patients to chiropractors.



Safety of Mercury in Dental Fillings Questioned

As reported in a series of news outlets, a US federal advisory panel rejected the US Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) conclusion that mercury in dental fillings poses little or no health risk to patients.  A September 7, 2006 USA Today story reported that by a "13-7 vote Thursday, the advisers said the federal report didn't objectively and clearly present the current state of knowledge about the fillings."  Basically the federal advisory panel stated that they do not believe the FDA has yet proved that mercury in dental fillings is safe.

Michael Aschner, a professor of pediatrics and pharmacology at Vanderbilt University and a panel consultant was one of the experts who cast a "no" vote.  He commented, "There are too many things we don't know, too many things that were excluded."

An opponent to mercury fillings, Michael Burke, blames mercury fillings for the early onset Alzheimer's disease diagnosed in his wife, Phyllis, in 2004. He stated, "Do the right, decent, honorable and God-loving thing: There needs to be an immediate embargo on mercury fillings for everyone, or at least pregnant women and children, because they are our future."

The typical dental fillings in question are Amalgam.  These fillings are made up of about 50% mercury, joined with silver, copper and tin.  It is the mercury that has caused the most concern as mercury poisoning in other applications has been well proven.

The USA Today article notes that scientists have found that mercury levels in the blood, urine and body tissues rise in conjunction with mercury fillings.  The more fillings the more mercury found.  However, they note that these levels of mercury fall below the FDA recommended safety levels and therefore, according to the rejected FDA report, should not cause harm. 

An article on this same subject on WebMD also on September 7th warned that, "Prolonged or excessive mercury exposure can cause neurodevelopmental deficits in children, such as lower IQs or nerve problems, as well as neurologic problems in adults."  One of the points that the WebMD article noted is that researchers for the FDA had not determined whether mercury fillings are more dangerous for pregnant women and their newborns than for adults.



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