Chiropractic care for arthritis

Originally Posted by the Alberta College and Association of Chiropractors

Chiropractors see many patients who present with various forms of arthritis. Here are some things people don’t typically know about arthritis and how chiropractic may help relieve the associated pain they are experiencing.

First off, let’s define arthritis

‘Arthritis’ can sometimes seem like a catch-all term. It literally translates to ‘arthro-‘, meaning ‘pertaining to the joints’, and ‘-itis’, meaning ‘inflammation of’.
The most common form of arthritis is osteoarthritis, which is also referred to as degenerative joint disease. Osteoarthritis tends to be localized to individual joints, where the protective cartilage between bones begin to wear down. This may occur in a singular location, or in multiple locations.

Chiropractors can treat your arthritis whether it’s in your back or not

It’s a common misconception that chiropractic treatments are only for neck and back conditions. Chiropractors can help with arthritis, whether it’s in your back or not! Your chiropractor will work with you to create an appropriate plan for each area of the body arthritis is affecting.

If you’re curious about chiropractic and how it can help you, have a conversation with your local chiropractor for an individual assessment. Your chiropractor will then be able to give recommendations to help serve you in a way that appropriately meets your needs.

It is safe to see a chiropractor if you have arthritis

Chiropractors have the expertise and knowledge to be able to assist patients with all kinds of new or pre-existing conditions. Chiropractors are trained to differentiate the various forms of arthritis, with joint problems being one component of health management by chiropractors.

Chiropractors will assist patients with mobility and other health challenges at many different stages of their life. The care for patients may span from education to lifestyle modifications to hands-on body work.

There is nothing special or different that a person with arthritis needs to do to prepare for a visit to the chiropractor. When you visit a chiropractor, they will have a conversation with you about your unique needs and then perform an assessment to ensure chiropractic is a safe treatment for you.

Chiropractic care can help support a patient in several ways

One of the benefits of chiropractic care is the focus on improving joint mobility and helping patients move more. This is done primarily through manual adjustments to a joint or joints, along with corrective exercises like the program available through Straighten Up Alberta. Patients often report improvements to pain and increased quality of life.

Another component of care can involve lifestyle modifications, such as advice on diet or sleep modification, which can have a positive influence on the overall health and wellness of an individual.

Chiropractic adjustments of the spine are shown to not only restore movement to the affected joints, but also influence the surrounding tissue and muscle tone to help re-engage the spinal stabilizers, restore ease and improve posture.

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If it hurts, see a chiropractor.

Maintenance care can help prevent pain and keep your joints functioning to the best of their ability but injuries can still happen. If your pain is persistent, seek advice from a chiropractor.

Chiropractors are highly educated and specially trained musculoskeletal experts. Your chiropractor can treat aches and pains, as well as build customized stretching routines and whole-body wellness strategies in conjunction with your chiropractic treatment. Consult with your chiropractor or find one near you.

Alberta College and Association of Chiropractors

What is Patient Centred Care Anyhow?

This post is a summary of Sue Robins’ talk at ACAC’s AGM in Red Deer on September 22, 2019.


What Is Patient Centred Care Anyhow?

Patient centred care is sadly an often misunderstood term. Simply put, patient centred care means doing things with patients, not to them or for them.

Creating Connection

At its heart, chiropractic care includes trusting therapeutic relationships between patients and chiropractors. Positive health care experiences start with connections. Both patients and chiropractors need to know each other as people – not just roles – in order to trust one another.

Being human with patients is an essential part of patient centred care. This means engaging in chit-chat or asking questions to get to know patients beyond the issue that brings them to your office.

Remembering Your Why

Simon Sinek’s TED Talk Start with Why explains the importance of why you do what you do. Most people focus on what they do. How you do things is crucial. But the critical question for professionals is why you do what you do. Why did you choose to be a chiropractor? Why do you get up in the morning to go to work? Why are you treating this particular patient? The why question helps you refocus and remember your intention which leads you back to the meaning of your work. Your why likely brings you back to patients.

How Does It Feel To Be A Patient?

“Everyone who is born holds dual citizenship, in the kingdom of the well and in the kingdom of the sick.” -Susan Sontag

We all prefer to stay in the kingdom of the well, but eventually everybody crosses over to the kingdom of the sick, injured or disabled.

Becoming a patient can make one feel vulnerable or scared. Patients can be angry because they are grieving the loss of their healthy selves. Often patients present to you in pain or discomfort. Sometimes it takes a long time of looking for relief before patients finally find you, so they might show up frustrated too.

Understanding how patients feel is necessary to cultivate compassion through your words or actions and is an important cornerstone of patient centred care.

Why Practice Patient Centred Care

Patient centred care makes good business sense. If patients are happier, they will return for treatment. It is easier to have repeat patients than attract new ones, and satisfied patients talk to each other, which can help with building your reputation and word-of-mouth referrals.

Patients are likely to follow directions from clinicians they like and trust. Feeling listened to and understood is a part of building trust. If patients aren’t satisfied with their experience, then trust will be eroded. It is extremely difficult to get trust back once it has been broken.

There is a moral imperative associated with patient centred care. Are you just doing things right in your practice? Or are you doing the right thing?

The Foundations of Patient Centred Care

There are four main elements of patient centred care: respect, dignity, information sharing and collaboration. These can be considered soft skills, but soft skills are often the hardest skills because they involve relationships with human beings. Humans are all different, so there is not one formula that works with every single patient. However, respect is a good place to start with everybody.

Respect

In health care, respect looks like smiling, eye contact, introducing yourself, telling patients what you are about to do, not appearing rushed even if you are rushed and using people’s chosen names instead of nicknames. Giving time for questions is crucial to respect. This can be done by reframing questions. For instance, ask ‘What questions do you have’ and waiting for a response instead of asking ‘Do you have any questions’ as you are hurrying out the door.

Dignity

Dignity is about privacy. This includes health information privacy. This can be as basic as ensuring that people can’t overhear receptionists talk about other patients in the waiting room. Privacy is about being vigilant that patients retain as much dignity as possible during appointments with their clothing and how they are positioned.

Dignity is also about treating patients like full human beings, not just a diagnosis or problem. Importantly, dignity is about giving patients as much flexibility and choice as possible. Letting people make their own decisions gives them agency and allows them to retain some control over their lives.

Information Sharing

Information sharing is communication. It includes patients fully understanding the benefits and risks for treatment and having the right information shared with other members of the patient’s health care team.

For patient education materials, considering clean graphic design, translating materials into other languages and communicating in plain language to make sure what you are trying to communicate is understood.

Health literacy underpins all information sharing. It is the responsibility of the health professional to make sure they have communicated effectively with patients. As Da Vinci said, simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. This does not mean ‘dumbing down’ language – it is a skill to make sure complicated health information is shared in an understandable way.

Collaboration

Collaboration is the final element of patient centred care. It includes setting goals together for shared decision making. Believing that patients are experts of their own bodies is the best start to collaboration. True partnerships happen when two bodies of knowledge come together – your chiropractic knowledge and the patients’ own expertise.

Conclusion

I often get asked, “What do patients want?” The answer is, “It depends.” It depends because every single patient is different. The key is to ask individual patients what they want.

My challenge to you is to think about ways you can enhance patient-centred care in your practice. This could include improvements like designing your waiting room so it is more patient-friendly or giving your reception staff feedback about their customer service skills.

A trusting therapeutic relationship in chiropractic care is built on the foundation of respect, dignity, information sharing and collaboration. These are worthy investments to guarantee a positive patient centred care approach which benefits everybody – patients, staff and chiropractors alike.


About the author

Sue Robins is an author and health care advocate. She was the family centred care consultant at the Stollery Children’s Hospital for 4 years and was recently the family engagement advisor at the B.C. Children’s Hospital.

Sue’s writing has been widely published and includes articles in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, The New York Times and The Globe and Mail.

Her first book Bird’s Eye View: Stories of a life lived in health care will be published in November 2019. Sue is a senior partner in Bird Communications, a health communications company.

Alberta College and Association of Chiropractors

Kick up your heels!

Reprinted with permission from the Ontario Chiropractic Association.

Not only can those brand new high-heeled shoes cause pain in your feet, they can cause low back pain as well. In fact, poor footwear can cause difficulties in the feet, knees, hips, low back and all the way up the spine. Generally, the best shoes for your body are relatively flat and provide adequate support.


Try these tips to reduce the pain on those high-heels days.

Shopping for shoes

Shop in the afternoon or evening, as your feet tend to accumulate fluid and swell throughout the day.

Choosing a shoe

  1. Choose a heel height that you can walk in gracefully. The effect of a high heel is easily negated by a clumsy walk.
  2. Try to choose a shoe with a heel height of no more than 2 inches. It’s a good compromise height that will still create the arched posture associated with high heels without sending you tipping out of them.
  3. Avoid buying shoes with a recessed heel, as it is one of the most unstable heel styles.
  4. Avoid shoes with many thin straps; these can dig into your skin causing pain and swelling.
  5. Ensure that the shoes have good support for the arches of your feet.

Give your feet a fighting chance

  1. Place a cushioning pad into the front of the shoe to pad the balls of your feet. This will also help keep your toes from getting wedged into the front of the shoe.
  2. Take a break from your heels now and then. Slip off your shoes discretely and stretch some of the tensed muscles. Wiggle your toes and make circles with your ankles to help increase circulation.
  3. Finally, after a long day or evening on your feet, give them a break. Wear a low, comfortable shoe the next day to rest your muscles. Soak your feet in warm water or give them a nice massage.

If it hurts, see a chiropractor.

Chiropractors are highly educated and specially trained musculoskeletal experts. Your chiropractor can treat aches and pains, as well as build customized stretching routines and whole-body wellness strategies in conjunction with your chiropractic treatment. Consult with your chiropractor or find one near you.

Alberta College and Association of Chiropractors

Easing into activity to prevent injury

Before you jump into your outdoor plans, or go from any period of inactivity to activity, chiropractor Dr. Alanna Tinney provides some tips to help you make the most of being active outdoors and stay injury-free.

Easing into activity to prevent injury

by Dr. Alanna Tinney

No one wants to spend nice weather stuck on the sidelines nursing an injury. But I’ve noticed an unfortunate trend—when good weather occurs, like at the beginning of summer, I see an uptick in patients coming in with strains, sprains and pulled muscles. The cause? Starting rigorous activities like golfing, jogging, gardening and other activities after a period of inactivity.

Because people jump into too much activity too fast, they end up hurting themselves. With our long winters, it’s hard not to rush outside as soon as warm weather hits to go for a run, bike with the family or engage in any other outdoor activity. The fact is, doing so may put too much strain on your body.

Keep injuries out of your outdoor plans

These tips may seem common-sense but they’re easy to forget when you’re trying to maximize your time enjoying the summer months.

  • Start slow. By slowly increasing the amount and difficulty of your activity, your body is able to build strength and adapt to the new challenges it encounters.
  • Change up your activity. Prevent injuries from repetitive motion by varying the types of activity you do. While it’s tempting to spend your week out on the golf course or tennis court, make sure you give the joints you’re using a break and exercise other parts of your body.
  • Take time to rest. If you need an excuse to sit out on a patio, this is the one for you. Including recovery days and gentle activity is important because it allows your body time to rebuild the muscles you’re using. Ensuring you’re getting enough sleep is also very important to preventing injury.
  • Stay hydrated. Working up a sweat is extra easy on a hot day, so make sure you’re regularly replacing the fluid you’re losing with water.
  • Eat to fuel your body. If you’re going to be extra active, make sure you’re eating the kinds of food that can help you build muscle and sustain the activity you’re engaging in.

What to do if you are injured

Even if you do everything right, injuries can still happen. A light sprain or bump may have you considering RICE (rest, ice, compression and elevation) to treat your injury. Instead, try this new guide for injury recovery – POLICE.

POLICE stands for protect, optimal loading, ice, compression and elevation.

  • Protect means protect your body by listening to your body. Pain is an alarm the body sounds to say something is wrong. It is important to listen to that pain; has it increased? If it’s decreased, you should pay attention to that, too.
  • Optimal loading is a key difference from RICE. This term urges people to continue to use an injury through slow, progressive weight bearing. In short, bearing an optimal load for their injury. For example, if you have twisted your ankle, optimal loading may look like continuing to use your ankle but lessening the weight you are putting on it by using a cane.
  • Ice, as it also represents in RICE, reminds patients to use cold (and if appropriate, hot) therapy to help alleviate pain and reduce inflammation. If you decide to use an ice pack, wrap it in a thin towel and apply it to your injury for 15 to 20 minutes every two to three hours.
  • Compression recommends applying pressure to an injury to help prevent swelling. You can do this by wrapping a bandage around an injury. The bandage should be firm but not too tight. If a limb starts to tingle, swell, feel cold or turn bluish after wrapping it, your bandage needs to be loosened.
  • Elevation guides you to raise the injured body part above the level of your heart to help reduce pain and swelling. For example, if you injure your knee, consider lying on the couch with your knee resting on pillows to bring it above your chest.

The introduction of “protect” and “optimal loading” is an important change from RICE because it embraces a new model of recovery known as “active recovery.” Active recovery is the understanding that using an injury gently and carefully, shortly after the injury occurs helps maintain strength and shorten the recovery period. Active recovery is relevant to everyone, from young athletes, to weekend warriors, to grandparents trying to keep up with kids.

While rest is important, people tend to rest an injury for longer than the injury requires. The same thing that happens when you stop going to the gym for a while happens when you stop using a part of your body. You lose muscle mass and flexibility, which can in turn lengthen the amount of time it takes for you to get back up and using your body like you were before the injury.

Most important of all – listen to your pain

No matter the injury, it’s vital that you listen to your body. If your pain hasn’t subsided after a few days, consider seeking advice from a health-care professional such as a chiropractor.

Once your injury has been diagnosed and treated, you can begin the road to recovery.

Whether it’s a sprained ankle or a case of tennis elbow that brings a patient into my clinic, I evaluate and diagnose the injury. Then I work with my patient to build an appropriate treatment plan. Because each patient is unique, treatment may include chiropractic adjustments, laser therapy, stretches and/or other therapies to get them back on their feet and out enjoying the sunshine.

 


About the author:

Dr. Alanna Tinney practices at Back on Track Chiropractic in Spruce Grove, and Sublime Health in St. Albert. In addition to her chiropractic degree, she also holds a Master of Science in Sports Medicine. When not in the office, Dr. Tinney can be found in the hockey rink working with athletes, camping, hiking or planning her next backpacking adventure.

If it hurts, see a chiropractor.

Chiropractors are highly educated and specially trained musculoskeletal experts. Your chiropractor can treat aches and pains, as well as build customized stretching routines and whole-body wellness strategies in conjunction with your chiropractic treatment. Consult with your chiropractor or find one near you.

Alberta College and Association of Chiropractors

Plant and rake without the ache

Reprinted with permission from the Ontario Chiropractic Association.

Gardening is a great way to stay active and have fun in the sun. But many people sustain injuries that could easily have been prevented with a little know-how.

S-t-r-e-t-c-h before you start

To plant and rake without the ache, do each of these stretches five times. Don’t bounce, jerk or strain. Stretches should be gentle and should not cause pain.

Overall conditioning:

Take a walk, even on the spot. Ten to 15 minutes should do it. Don’t forget to lift your knees and gently swing your arms.

Your sides:

  1. Extend one arm over your head
  2. Bend left from the waist
  3. Hold for 15 seconds and repeat to the right

Your thighs:

  1. Lean against a tree
  2. Bend your right knee and grasp your ankle with your left hand
  3. Hold for 15 seconds and repeat with your left knee

Your hamstrings:

  1. Stand
  2. Reach your hands to the sky
  3. Then, bending at the waist, reach toward your toes
  4. Hold for 15 seconds

Your wrists:

  1. Hold one arm out in front of your, palm down
  2. Bend your wrist until the fingers point to the ground
  3. Use your opposite hand to hold this position
  4. Place your hands in “prayer” position, and press palms together
  5. Keep your arm straight and place your palm in the “stop” position
  6. Use your opposite hand to hold this position

Your shoulders:

  1. Let your arms hang loose
  2. Rotate your shoulder forward, then rotate back

Your arms and shoulders:

  1. Hug yourself snugly
  2. Slowly rotate at the waist as far as is comfortable to the left, then right

Your back:

  1. In a seated position, bend from the hips, keeping your head down
  2. Reach for the ground

If it hurts, see a chiropractor.

Chiropractors are highly educated and specially trained musculoskeletal experts. Your chiropractor can treat aches and pains, as well as build customized stretching routines and whole-body wellness strategies in conjunction with your chiropractic treatment. Consult with your chiropractor or find one near you.

Alberta College and Association of Chiropractors

Pack it light. Wear it right: Handbags

Reprinted with permission from the Ontario Chiropractic Association.

Some women carry the whole world in their handbag, but a heavy bag or purse can cause pain and injury to your back, neck and shoulders. Overstuffed bags can also cause poor posture by encouraging the carrier to lean to one side. The good news is pain and injury can be easily avoided by following a few simple tips.

Choosing a handbag

  1. Choose a handbag that is proportionate to your body size and no larger than what is needed. Your handbag should not weigh more than 10 per cent of your body weight.
  2. Choose handbag that has several individual pockets, instead of one large compartment. This will help to distribute the weight of the contents more evenly and keep them from shifting.

Packing a handbag

  1. Change the size and weight of your wallet once in a while. You may also consider one wallet for your work and a different one for when you go out, as you may need different objects for both.
  2. Ensure the weight is evenly distributed in the purse by using all the pockets.

Carrying a handbag

  1. Use both hands to check the weight of the handbag.
  2. Instead of always carrying your handbag on the same shoulder, switch sides often so each shoulder gets a rest.
  3. Square your shoulders–many women have a habit of lifting the shoulder on which the purse is carried to keep the straps from slipping.

More tips

  1. Try to maintain good posture. When standing, your head, shoulders, hips and ankles should line-up, one comfortably above the other.
  2. In you can walk to lunch or a meeting, lock your purse in your desk or locker and carry only your cash and/or credit cards in a pocket.

By following these simple strategies, it’s easy to lighten your load.

If it hurts, see a chiropractor.

Chiropractors are highly educated and specially trained musculoskeletal experts. Your chiropractor can treat aches and pains, as well as build customized stretching routines and whole-body wellness strategies in conjunction with your chiropractic treatment. Consult with your chiropractor or find one near you.

Alberta College and Association of Chiropractors

Sciatica: what is it, what causes it and how chiropractic can treat it

Have you ever heard someone mention sciatica as a reason for why they’re feeling uncomfortable or experiencing pain? If you have; but were left with more questions than answers, you’re not alone.

While sciatica is a common condition, it can be challenging to understand exactly what it means. Sherwood Park chiropractor, Dr. Shawn King breaks down this common condition and how to both treat and prevent it.

Sciatica: what is it, what causes it and how chiropractic can treat it

by Dr. Shawn King

What is sciatica?

When someone has sciatica, it usually means they are experiencing some form of irritation to the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the body, which starts in the lower back and runs down the hips, buttocks, legs and feet. People suffering from sciatica often feel pain or discomfort down the back of their legs even though the cause originates in their lower back or pelvis.

Five common causes of sciatica:

Sciatica can develop a number of different ways, but these are the most common.

  1. An acute injury like a slip and fall.
  2. An awkward motion, where the spine is momentarily vulnerable. This can be something as sudden as a missed step or a strong sneeze.
  3. Repetitive wear and tear (e.g. shoveling snow or raking leaves).
  4. Pressure on the nerve from a tight muscle like the piriformis muscle, located in the buttocks and near the top of the hip joint.
  5. Pressure on the nerve from a disc bulge in the lower lumbar spine.

Chiropractic treatment of sciatica

Musculoskeletal injuries like sciatica are a chiropractors’ bread and butter; they successfully treat sciatica regularly. The treatment for sciatica varies from patient to patient, based on how the injury happened and how well the patient responds to different forms of treatment. Before your chiropractor can build a successful treatment plan, they review your medical history and conduct a basic physical exam.

Generally, chiropractors will address sciatica by taking pressure off of the sciatic nerve and restoring normal motion in their patient’s low back, pelvis and hips. This can be done by providing the patient with a chiropractic adjustment and potentially some soft tissue muscle release to the affected areas.

Chiropractors may look for signs of improvement in a reduction in pain; centralization of the referred pain (meaning that the radiating pain down the leg, is moving upwards); improvements with range of motion; and improvements with the patient’s daily living (e.g., putting on socks pain free or walking around the neighborhood pain free).

How to prevent sciatica

The key is to keep your body moving properly and this can be done in a number of ways. These are tips that I recommend to my own patients and can be used for preventing lower back pain in general.

  • Maintain or build your core stability: Performing regular exercises to promote core stability can help prevent back pain. I encourage my own patients to stick with an exercise routine for the long term benefits. While you don’t have to consult with your chiropractor before exercising, I would recommend it – especially if you have a history of back pain. When my patients consult with me, I make recommendations for exercises that work best with their medical history and health goals.
  • Stretching: Stretching helps you maintain flexibility throughout your low back, pelvis, and legs and relieves pressure that may be building in your body. To help with sciatica, you should specifically stretch your piriformis (the muscles at the top of your hip joints and in the buttocks) on both sides. If you find it difficult to stretch the muscles in your lower extremity, try using a foam roller.
  • Chiropractic maintenance: Visiting your chiropractor periodically through the year can help prevent musculoskeletal issues. Think of this like going in for a check up to make sure everything is working and moving as it should.

About the author:

Dr. Shawn King practices at Tailormade Wellness, located in Sherwood Park. In addition to his chiropractic degree, he has a Masters in Exercise and Sports Science and a certification as a personal fitness trainer. Dr. King enjoys being an active member in his community and volunteers his skills as a chiropractor with multiple sports teams and the Boyle McAuley center. When he’s not working, Dr. King enjoys spending time with his growing family and playing hockey or golf.

If it hurts, see a chiropractor.

Chiropractors are highly educated and specially trained musculoskeletal experts. Your chiropractor can treat aches and pains, as well as build customized stretching routines and whole-body wellness strategies in conjunction with your chiropractic treatment. Consult with your chiropractor or find one near you.

Alberta College and Association of Chiropractors

Minimize Pregnancy Related Back Pain

Reprinted with permission from the Ontario Chiropractic Association.

Did you know that at least half of pregnant women experience back pain? And 10% of those report discomfort severe enough to disrupt their daily routines. The good news is that there are steps you can take to protect your back during pregnancy.

What causes pregnancy-related back pain in the first place?

When pregnant, it’s normal to gain more than 30 pounds. This extra weight places considerable stress on your back, feet, ankles and knees. As your baby grows, your core abdominal muscles become stretched and may not be able to stabilize your posture as well as they did before.

In the third trimester, levels of a hormone called “relaxin” increase by a factor of ten. Relaxin loosens your joints to allow the pelvis to accommodate the enlarging uterus. These loose joints force the muscles of the back and pelvis to work overtime to keep you upright and balanced, which may lead to back pain.

Try these tips to help minimize your risk of back pain:

Exercise

Exercise can go a long way to increase muscle support for an aching back. A health care practitioner should always be consulted before starting a new exercise regimen. Low impact cardiovascular activities, such as swimming, walking, or stationary cycling can help relieve pain and maintain fitness.

Sleep Position

Sleep on your left side to reduce the pressure of your uterus on the large blood vessels in your abdomen, optimizing blood flow to both you and the baby.

Pillow Position

Place a pillow between your knees to take pressure off your lower back when sleeping on your side.

Support Your Body

With the added weight, support has never been more important. Wear flat, supportive shoes and use a lumbar support pillow in your chair at home or work. If you sit at a computer or desk, walk around for a few minutes each hour.

Take Breaks

Take frequent, short breaks with your feet elevated. Adequate rest restores your energy and gives your back a chance to relax.

If it hurts, see a chiropractor.

Chiropractors are highly educated and specially trained musculoskeletal experts. Your chiropractor can treat aches and pains, as well as build customized stretching routines and whole-body wellness strategies in conjunction with your chiropractic treatment. Consult with your chiropractor or find one near you.

Alberta College and Association of Chiropractors

A Tool for Your Self Care Kit: Chiropractic for Optimal Well Being

Chiropractors have a role to play in their patient’s general well being and self care. One way that chiropractors do this is through maintenance care.

Most people associate a visit to the chiropractor with injuries like whiplash, thrown backs and other kinds of pain that require immediate treatment. That is only one part of a much bigger picture.

What is maintenance care

The goal of maintenance care is to maintain optimal function and movement, keep your body balanced and to prevent future injuries.

“Think of it like when you go to the clinic for an annual check up.” Explains Dr. Taylor Cooksley. “When you go to your chiropractor for maintenance care, they will assess your posture, movement and general musculoskeletal health. This kind of care is beneficial for everyone, not just people who are physically active.”

Based out of the Brentwood Chiropractic Clinic in Sherwood Park, Dr. Cooksley regularly sees patients of all ages for acute and maintenance treatment.

“When we examine younger patients, we can monitor how their bones are developing and ensure their movement patterns are correct and normal. When we see senior patients, we often work to keep our patients mobile and help prevent future falls and injuries.”

Maintenance care goes hand in hand with self care

The end goal of maintenance care and self care is the same: to ensure you are healthy. Maintenance care focuses your physical well being, which is one part of the bigger picture of your health.

“Good self care and health is a balance between looking after your physical health, as well as your emotional health and mental health.” Says Dr. Cooksley.

It isn’t hard to incorporate self care into your day. Maintenance care, getting restful sleep and eating well are just a few ways to keep you at your best. Dr. Cooksley maintains her own self care in a number of ways.

“I include deep belly breathing throughout my day to help calm my mind and relax tension from my muscles. I also try to get at least 20 to 30 minutes of physical activity a day, something I recommend to all my patients.”

Maintenance care extends beyond the chiropractic clinic

A maintenance and injury prevention-style treatment plan is unique to each patient, just like self care. After an assessment, chiropractors work with their patients to set health goals and make recommendations on treatments. Often, patients are able to fulfill these recommendations independently.

“It’s common for chiropractors to teach their patients stretches and simple exercises to build into their lives,” Says Dr. Cooksley. “These activities can help build strength, loosen stiff muscles and joints, improve your quality of movement and help break unhealthy movement habits we get into during our daily life.”

Maintenance care does not mean you will need to visit your chiropractor forever

“We are here to support you when you want to change your activities or lifestyle and need new tools to get you to your goals.” Explains Dr. Cooksley.

Maintenance care can include teaching patients stretches, helping to monitor existing physical conditions, nutritional counselling and providing advice to empower patients.

“A good chiropractor wants to give you the tools to become self-sufficient and in control over your aches and pains, not have you rely on his or her services for the rest of your life.”

How do I know if chiropractic is a good choice for me?

It’s important to keep in mind that self care requires different tools to successfully support your health. Chiropractic is a great way to keep your body flexible and relieve pain, and it fits well with other kinds of self care activities.

The best way to determine whether chiropractic care is for you is by having a conversation with a chiropractor. Depending on your needs, your chiropractor may work with another health care professional, or refer you for a different kind of treatment.

“Seek out health-care professionals that are dedicated to helping you live a healthier, happier life. That may be a chiropractor, and it may be massage therapists, acupuncturists, nutritional counsellors and physiotherapists,” Suggests Dr. Cooksley.

If it hurts, see a chiropractor.

Maintenance care can help prevent pain and keep your joints functioning to the best of their ability but injuries can still happen. If your pain is persistent, seek advice from a chiropractor.

Chiropractors are highly educated and specially trained musculoskeletal experts. Your chiropractor can treat aches and pains, as well as build customized stretching routines and whole-body wellness strategies in conjunction with your chiropractic treatment. Consult with your chiropractor or find one near you.

Alberta College and Association of Chiropractors

Written in partnership with The Sleep Help Institute.

 

Age, an old injury, and a failing mattress are only a few of the many sources of sleep-disrupting pain. But no matter the cause, the result is the same: sleep deprivation.

Any time you find yourself getting fewer than seven hours of sleep, your body changes the way it functions. The brain, immune system, and even your appetite and metabolism change as you lose sleep. And, the more sleep you lose, the more intense the effects become.

Given how impactful a lack of sleep can be, the best way to improve your sleep is to be proactive and incorporate pain management into your bedtime routine.

Be Proactive with Your Bedtime Routine

Some commonly-used tools to help manage pain include over-the-counter pain medications like acetaminophen and ibuprofen, but there are also topical ointments and lotions with ingredients that distract your brain from or dull the pain as well.

Hot and cold treatments can also be of benefit in helping relieve pain and promote relaxation. Heat brings blood to an injured area and promotes healing while cold reduces swelling. You can alternate between the two or focus on one or the other, depending on your pain needs.

The process of finding the right combination can be frustrating but don’t give up. For people living with chronic pain, there is no one-size-fits-all and it takes trial and error to find the best combination to help improve sleep.

Sleep is a biological necessity you can’t do without. In the long run, it’s worth the effort to find the pain management behaviours, bedtime routine, and sleep positions that work for you. Although your aches and pains may not disappear completely, establishing a healthy sleep routine may help reduce your pain and improve your quality of life.

Something that can be just as helpful is building a sleep routine by developing healthy sleep habits. Your behaviours help shape your sleep patterns and prepare you for bed so consider building some healthy sleep habits. Consider trying some of the suggestions below.

Build Healthy Sleep Habits

Start with a bedroom that’s wholeheartedly devoted to sleep

The brain can be a funny thing. If you have gym equipment or electronics such as a television in the bedroom, your brain can get mixed signals and ramp up activity when you’re ready for bed. Reserve your bedroom space both mentally and physically for sleep. If you want to further improve the conditions then block out light, lower the thermostat, and use a white noise machine to reduce distracting sounds.

Make bedtime a priority

It’s easy to put off going to bed to scroll through social media one more time, watch one more episode on Netflix, or send an email before bed. We’ve all done it! But your body needs the predictability of a regular bedtime.

The brain will adjust the start of your sleep cycle based on your preferred schedule. By going to bed at the same time each night—even weekends—you schedule your sleep cycle so that your brain releases sleep hormones at the same time every night and strengthens your response to those hormones.

Stretch before sleeping

Taking a few minutes to stretch your body before getting into bed can help you get to sleep and wake up with less pain. You can use a set routine or build a program specific to your body’s needs. Target areas in the body where you hold tension or there’s pronounced “tightness,” such as your neck, shoulders, back or hips. When you stretch slowly, you should feel tension in your muscles, but never pain. Stretching as little as two to three times a week can improve your flexibility and make a pronounced impact on pain. Stretching regularly also helps you maintain a normal range of motion, which is important for preventing injury as you move throughout the day.

 

Consider what you need to get comfortable

A pillow between the knees can often help hip or back pain. If you’re a side sleeper, you may be able to tolerate sleeping on your back with a body pillow behind you to take the pressure off your shoulders. Memory foam mattress toppers or therapeutic pillows are other options that can relieve pain. Many people find that sleeping on a mattress that’s worn out or too soft can exacerbate back pain, while sleeping on a mattress that’s too firm can exacerbate hip and shoulder pain. Make sure that your sleep surface is the right fit for you, and consider getting a new mattress if you think you need one.

 

Meditate before bed

Our final suggestion. It can be part of your bedtime or morning routine. Meditation has been shown to reduce the anticipation of pain, which may reduce the perception of pain itself. Mindfulness meditation can even trigger the body’s relaxation response, which may reduce your heart rate and blood pressure.

If it hurts, see a chiropractor.

Stretching before bed is an effective way to decrease pain but sometimes it’s not enough. If your pain is persistent, seek advice from a chiropractor.

Chiropractors are highly educated and specially trained musculoskeletal experts. Your chiropractor can treat aches and pains, as well as build customized stretching routines and whole-body wellness strategies in conjunction with your chiropractic treatment. Consult with your chiropractor or click here to find one near you.

Alberta College and Association of Chiropractors