June 2010 - Advanced Physical Medicine
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Is Tempur-Pedic a Legit Way to Reduce Back Pain?

Sure, they push it during late-night infomercials, showing the glass of wine that doesn’t tip over when you jump on the bed—but is all that foam actually good for you? Some people like soft mattresses and others hard, but memory foam is in a category all its own—and it’s not cheap. Here’s what getting a Tempur-pedic mattress will do for you:

Tempur-pedic foam was developed by NASA to be a material that can withstand strong g-forces like those in space, but it was a group of Swedish scientists that decided to market it as a sleep surface on earth. On a microscopic level, it has a cellular structure, with billions of cells that breathe and form themselves to an individuals’ motion during sleep.

The Tempur-pedic website suggests that the spinal benefits of the material come from its layers, each with a different base that relieves different pressure while maximizing comfort. The top layer reacts to your body temperature and weight, the second layer distributes your weight and allows your spine to lay in perfect alignment, and the third increases airflow, comfort and responsiveness.

The mattress’ foam material allows your body to retain its natural curvature while it is supported. Traditional, box spring mattresses use counter-pressure to force your body to conform to it—rather than having it conform to you. This can cause poor sleep, pressure points, reduced blood flow and back pain.

Some people consider the Tempur-pedic the best mattress on the market because of what it did for their back pain. Others think it is a big waste of money, and many of those involved with medicine have trouble seeing how the spinal cord benefits from this foam.

The back depends on gravity to compress the spine while you stand and to spread it apart at night while you lay down. The nighttime is when your spine can absorb minerals and nutrients lost to it during the day’s compression. Tempur-pedic mattresses allow your shoulders to sink into the foam, thus preventing your spine from moving during the night. It is this motion that causes the decompression that your back needs during the night, so your discs never get the proteins necessary to rebuild or remove waste build up. This too can cause bulged discs and chronic pain.

This is really a decision that you need to make for yourself, as different people have different needs for their back. Firm mattresses typically aggravate spinal cord problems, but for some people foam does the same thing. It is also a good idea to consider adjustable beds and air mattresses. Take advantage of stores that allow you to try a mattress for 30 days, and find out what is the best choice for you.

9 Things You Didn’t Know About Acupuncture

Acupuncture, the therapy that inserts strategically placed needles to alleviate pain, has been dated back to as early as the BC China dynasties. Different variations of acupuncture are taught and practiced throughout the world, but not without controversy in the scientific community. There are a lot of things you may have heard about acupuncture, but here are some facts about the alternative medical practice—some new ones and some to dispel the rumors.

  1. Acupuncture is an effective way to control weight.
  2. Acupuncture doesn’t hurt. Most people who have tried it say they only feel a tiny prick, if anything at all.
  3. No tissue is damaged when the very fine needle pierces the skin
  4. Acupuncture centers you so you can keep weight off
  5. Acupuncturists can guide you towards good nutrition and exercise regimens
  6. Acupuncture increases your body’s release of endorphins, which controls pain and leads to feeling calm and satisfied
  7. Scientific research has backed up Acupuncture’s claim to holistic wellness, including studies sponsored by The Journal of Medical Acupuncture and the University of Adelaide in Australia
  8. Many medical doctors believe that supplementing western medicine with some alternative treatments can help patients of all kinds, with all kinds of problems.
  9. Some doctors even have acupuncturists that they routinely recommend to their patients.

Different things work for different people, and for some, acupuncture provides the extra energy your body needs to get to a healthy weight. Keep your options open by knowing the facts about whatever you consider—and talk to a licensed acupuncturist if you have questions about what acupuncture can do for you.

Is Cracking Your Knuckles Bad for You?

Short answer is: No.

But don’t stop reading! Don’t you want to know what actually happens when you make that little popping sound? And what if you do it regularly for years-- could it hurt you then?

The myth about the damage that cracking knuckles does came from the sound that it makes—people thought that when you make the cracking sound, you must be breaking something. That is not the case!

At a joint, where two bones meet, there is a covering of articular cartilage. The bones are held together by other connective tissues like ligaments as well. The joint capsule surrounds the joint, containing the lubrication to help move the joint. This lubrication is called sinovial fluid, and it is made from dissolved oxygen, nitrogen and carbon dioxide.

To crack a knuckle, you first stretch the bones apart, creating extra space in the connective tissue capsule. The increased volume decreases the pressure, and the sinovial fluid expands. The pressure also releases the dissolved gasses rapidly, causing the cracks. Bubbles bursting in the sinovial fluid are called cavitation, and it happens when the gasses become less soluble in the fluid.

After you crack your joints the first time, you won’t be able to do it again for the next 30 minutes while the gas dissolves back into the joint fluid. Try it out—30 minutes later, you will definitely be able to pop the same joints again. Releasing the pressure feels great, doesn’t it? The only real problem or damage that cracking joints could cause comes from forceful cracking—so just do it when you feel the pressure building.

Numerous studies have shown that cracking knuckles do not lead to arthritis, but there is a relationship between knuckle-cracking and hand swelling, loss of lower grip strength, ligament damage, soft tissue injuries and dislocation of tendons. This is really only the result of rapid, repeated stretching of ligaments, like what happens to major league pitchers. Risk is minimal for the rest of us, however.

There is evidence that cracking does increase mobility in joints, though! When joints are cracked, the Golgi tendon organs (a group of nerve endings involved in human motion sense) get stimulated and relax nearby muscles. That is why you feel loose and invigorated after an adjustment in the chiropractor’s office!

Click here to read more about our Chicago Chiropractic Clinic.

16 Things You (Maybe) Didn’t Know About Yoga

Question: What’s the big deal about yoga? Answer: How much time do you have? Yes, it’s a good workout, but did you know that the overall wellness benefits of yoga abound for both your mind and body? The yoga practice of focusing energy makes it so much more than just stretching and strength building. Even if you think you know yoga, check out these Yoga facts and keys to understanding the exercise program.

  • Someone who regularly practices and adheres to yoga is called a “yogi.”
  • Yoga reduces stress by setting apart blocks of time to focus solely on poses and goals, which frees a yogi from daily demands and stress.
  • Yoga positively affects chronic health problems including depression, anxiety, pain, and insomnia.
  • Yoga leads to happiness and contentment, because of raised oxygen levels in the brain.
  • Yoga helps those who suffer from sleep disorders, because exercise leads to tiredness and Yoga’s relaxation powers cause even deeper sleeps.
  • Yoga reduces blood pressure.
  • Yoga slows the heart rate, reducing myriad of heart disease problems.
  • Yoga is associated with decreased cholesterol and triglyceride levels
  • Yoga boosts the immune system.
  • Yoga can lead to better memory and learning skills.
  • Yoga can slow the aging process.
  • Yoga can increase self-acceptance.
  • Yoga raises energy levels.
  • Yoga increases spiritual awareness.
  • Yoga stretches and massages internal organs, improving their function and reducing associated disease risks.
  • Yoga encourages awareness of how the entire body functions, leading to quicker self-diagnosis of problems and improved overall care.

With so many benefits to yoga, both physical and spiritual, at least one reason must inspire you to roll out a mat and clear your head. Many gyms and health clubs offer daily yoga classes, and even if you’re stuck at home, there’s no excuse—just pop in a DVD, lower the lights, and start stretching.

Read more about our complete Chicago Wellness Clinic, click the link.

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