Careers that benefit from regular chiropractic care: Part 3

Careers that benefit from regular chiropractic care, is series I’ve spoken on before, last time out it was health care providers.

In a similar vein, this blog’s careers that can benefit from regular chiropractic care concerns our first responders, our emergency personnel, police, paramedics and fire fighters.

Why would a police officer benefit from regular chiropractic care? Let’s think about some of the tasks a police officer might do on a regular basis. There may be a lot of time spent in a car, wearing a belt that may make an ideal sitting position impossible, both scenarios can lead to lower back pain. The job can be very physical at times and may also be caught unawares. Having properly functioning joints and muscles means that you have reserve capacity in those muscles and joints if a situation places you in a suboptimal position.

careers that benefit from regular chiropractic care
I have many paramedics who come for chiropractic care regularly, if you think about this occupation, there’s a lot of lifting involved. One of my veteran paramedics likes to say, “ they haven’t been making the patients lighter over the years”. Again another situation where having a properly functioning spine is necessary to carry out the duties of the occupation.

As one could imagine, firefighters are not particularly kind to their spines or other joints for that matter. In my internship year I was part of a study to educate firefighters about their spines, basic anatomy, proper postures when able and when to seek help. This simple education session resulted in nearly 75% reduction in days lost to injury. Similar to police officers, we want firefighters to have the reserve capacity to respond in a non-ergonomic fashion should the emergency require it, regular chiropractic care can help to make sure that they are functioning at their best.

A common theme for these three careers that benefit from regular chiropractic care is stress. Regular chiropractic care, regular exercise, breathing techniques, are all ways to reduce the stress of these high-stress careers.

careers that benefit from regular chiropractic care

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Is it my back or is it my hip?

Is it my back or is it my hip?

This is a common question I’m asked and the answer sometimes isn’t so easy, so I’ll try to explain with a couple of simple clinical scenarios.
The first scenario, involves a person I’ll call “Bill”, Bill is a 35 year old man who was doing some landscaping around his house, lifting and moving flagstone, digging, planting etc. He recalls bending and lifting a rock and then feeling some pain in his “hip” and buttock area and some pain in his groin. He is uncomfortable bending, standing from sitting and rolling over in bed. He finds some relief when he’s up moving around and walking feels better. Is it my back or is it my hip?

In this case Bill’s problem is his sacroiliac joint, or the joint between his sacrum or tailbone and his illium or the bones your belt sits on (unless you are a teenaged boy, then the belt may really sit on the hip) , this is not really your hip, but this is commonly referred to as one’s hip. A problem in this area will often present as Bill did with one sided lower back, buttock and groin pain, with walking tending to help.

Scenario two, has “ Betty” an energetic 77 year old lady who enjoys walking, golfing and gardening. Betty reports that over the past couple of years she has been getting more sore over her right hip, buttock and groin. The pain can be aggravated by her regular walks, getting out of bed in the morning or if she’s been still for a long period. Is it my back or is it my hip?

In Betty’s case the problem is in her true hip joint (ball and socket joint) or where her femur, the leg bone (the ball) inserts into the pelvis ( the socket), here the cartilage components of either the ball or the socket are wearing out and with weight on the right leg the symptoms become worse, inflammatory effects are worse when initiating movement from rest.

So in short is it my back or my hip?
Backs like to walk and hips don’t

Both conditions will respond well to chiropractic care
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Is it my back or is it my hip?

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominic at

Novel treatments for osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis treatment

Most of you know someone with osteoarthritis, or may have it yourself; it is a very common form of joint disease that is related to aging and wear and tear of joint surfaces. This can occur in any joint but commonly occurs in the load bearing joints, the hips, knees and spine. Our joints have a super smooth layer of cartilage as its surface which allows the bones to move easily on one another, synovial joint fluid aids in this movement providing lubrication and nourishing the cartilage. As we age the cartilage producing cells lose their ability to keep up with repair processes and the joint begins to wear down, cracks and fissures can occur in the cartilage and the joint may become painful.

Recently treatments have been developed to improve this situation. First we had the development of artificial joint fluid to help with the lubrication of the joint, to mixed success.

Next we had, PRP or platelet rich plasma, here the clinician removes some of your blood, spins it in a centrifuge to remove the red/white cells and increase the concentration of platelets in the plasma. Platelets are special blood components that help with clotting the blood after a cut but also have special proteins that can help repair tissues. There have been some positive results for tendon type injuries; famously Tiger Woods had this procedure done. More recently it has been tried for osteoarthritis of the knees primarily providing some relief of pain, no small thing for anyone suffering from knee osteoarthritis, but not the big prize, regeneration of the cartilage.

A newer treatment, uses stem cells, these cells are master type cells that can convert to certain cell types, i.e. in this case cells that produce cartilage. These cells are harvested typically from your iliac crest, the bones that you put a belt around. These cells are then injected into the knee in several studies have shown to have regenerated the cartilage, improved pain and function.

These newer treatments are still somewhat experimental, not covered by provincial health plans or employer health plans and range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars. The future looks promising for these newer treatments and perhaps a “cure” for osteoarthritis is around the corner. In the mean -time, maintain a good body-weight, exercise, and visit your chiropractor to keep the joints moving well.

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Disc Related Back Pain



What disc related back pain

What is Disc Related Back Pain?

This being my first blog, I wondered what to speak about, however today I saw someone who’s case while not uncommon gave me the motivation to talk today about low back pain related to a herniated intervertebral disc. What is disc related back pain?

What is disc related back pain?

Most back pain, close to 90% is what one would term, “mechanical low back  pain”, mechanical in the sense that it has as its cause a pain generator in  the muscles or joints of the lower back. This type of back pain while extremely painful and debilitating is uncomplicated and will resolve with treatment in less than 6 weeks in most cases.

Disc related back pain is another matter. The intervertebral (spinal bones) discs are located in between the bones of the spine, they allow for movement and if you imagine are like a jelly donut, firm on the outside and well jelly-like on the inside. In some cases with improper stresses, twisting while bending and lifting either in one event or repeated can cause a weakening of the outer wall of the disc and result in either a bulging outward of the disc or a rupture causing the jelly to come out.  Your body’s response to this injury will typically initially back pain, muscle spasm, you may look crooked, tipped off to one side, movement in any direction will be limited and painful. Days to a week or so later you may then start to have screaming leg pain down the back of one leg, this tends to be worse than the back pain.

Disc injuries can resolve on their own with conservative chiropractic treatment, the majority  in 12 weeks to a year. Your family physician may prescribe some anti-inflammatory medication and order a special test called a MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) for a look at how the disc is impacting your nervous system. Regular x-rays  are of little use in a case like this.

Chiropractic treatment will help with pain control, muscle spasm and help to keep you moving. I will give you exercises to help with the pain as well. As a chiropractor I will also monitor your nervous system’s response to the injury and make the appropriate referral back to your family physician should the condition worsen.

Surgery is usually a last resort, but will help if the health of the nerve is compromised.

If you know of any one with back pain of any sort have them call for an appointment and get them some help.

Dr. Kevin Finn

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