How Long Will It Take? 

My colleague, Dr Jerry Kennedy, wrote this great article on a common patient question and frustration. He did a great job in answering it.

One of the most common questions that patients ask their chiropractor is, “How long will it take?” Some people ask because their #1 concern is that the chiropractor is never going to let them go. Maybe they have heard the “once you go you always have to go” myth that some people say about chiropractors. If that’s you, I have good news. It’s not true. Your chiropractor isn’t ever going to hold you hostage. That’s not the reason that most people ask that question. The majority of people who ask, “How long will it take?” are asking because they are in pain or in some way hampered, and they would like to get back to normal as soon as possible. That makes perfect sense. If patients had their way, they would get better instantly. I jokingly refer to that concept as patients wanting a “Jesus visit.” That’s when they go into their chiropractor’s office, get an adjustment, and are instantly better. Healed! Unfortunately, it doesn’t usually work that way. Sure, there is the occasional exception to the rule, but for the most part, your body takes time to heal. It’s also important to note that healing and feeling are not the same things. There are times when a medication or a treatment can help your body feel better quickly, but that doesn’t mean it has healed yet. If your pain/problem comes back as soon as the medicine wears off, your body hasn’t yet fully healed. The same is true of treatment. If your pain/problem comes back a few days after your treatment, your body hasn’t yet fully healed. That doesn’t necessarily mean the medicine/ treatment isn’t working. It could just be the difference between feeling and healing. So that brings us back to our original question, “How long will it take?” Unfortunately, there isn’t an exact answer. It depends on the problem. It depends on the person. There are a lot of factors at work. It’s an oversimplification, but I used to tell my patients that 5 factors would determine how long it would take their body to heal.

First - how old are you? That’s an easy one. Younger people heal faster than older people. The older you get, the more you realize how true that is.

Second - how bad is the problem? Not all health problems are the same degree of severity. Let’s use a sprained ankle as an example. On one end of the spectrum, you could have a minor sprain that heals up in 24 hrs. No big deal. On the other end, you could have a major sprain that requires many weeks of rest and therapy to heal. As a general rule, the more severe a health problem is the longer it takes to heal.

Third - how long have you had the problem? Just to clarify, that’s not necessarily the same thing as how long you have felt bad. It’s possible to have a health problem much longer than you have felt bad. Arthritis is a great example. Most people who have arthritis will have it for years before they ever have any pain. As a general rule, the longer you have had a health problem the longer it will take to heal.

Fourth - where is the problem? You may not know this, but different parts of the body heal at different rates. Muscles heal faster than ligaments. Ligaments heal faster than bone. Even the different joints of the body heal at different rates. An injury to your elbow is likely to heal much faster than an injury to a more complex joint like your shoulder.

Fifth - are you (the patient) willing to do your part? Healing not only takes time but it also takes participation. Sometimes rest is required. That means the patient has to be willing to slow down or stop. Sometimes nutritional changes are required. That means the patient needs to add something or remove something from their diet to help their body heal. Sometimes stretching or strengthening is required to help heal an injury. Ultimately, a patient who is willing to do their part to help their body heal will heal faster than a patient who doesn’t.

So when you ask your chiropractor the question, “How long will it take?” often you won’t get a specific answer. Don’t worry…they aren’t avoiding the question just for the sake of avoiding the question. It’s a difficult question to answer because the answer is different for every person. More often than not, chiropractors will take the information that you have given them, and use their clinical experience to give you a timeframe. It’s not set in stone. You may do better than expected and heal faster. You may do worse than expected and heal more slowly. Everyone is different. What does all this mean for you? Well, it means a couple things.

First, it’s important that you understand that healing takes time. If you expect your body to heal instantly, you may quit doing the exact things you should be doing because you aren’t willing to give them the proper amount of time.

Second, it’s important that you have open communication between you and your healthcare providers. You should be able to ask questions and express concerns. They should be able to let you know what you are doing right and what you are doing wrong. When you and your healthcare providers work together as a team, you are more likely to get positive results faster.

Lastly, it’s important that you do your part. Patients who participate in their care heal much faster than those who don’t. Stretch when it’s time to stretch. Go to your chiropractic appointment when it’s time to go to your appointment. Do your exercises when it’s time to do your exercises. Rest when it’s time to rest. The bottom line is this…everyone is different. How long it takes your body to heal is going to be different than how long it takes my body to heal. If you want to heal as quickly as possible and get back to normal, you have to be patient and you have to participate in the process. You can do it!

If you are ready to have your back pain resolved, please contact us or call 8096 6781.

Neck Strain

There is a good chance it is coming from your 'Forward Head Posture' (FHP).

Your head should sit directly on top of the neck and shoulders. Imagine a bowling ball sitting on top of a vacuum cleaner pipe.  If the bowling ball rolls forward it is putting enormous pressure on the vacuum cleaner pipe, as in the case of FHP.  The neck and shoulder muscles become very tense and tight leading to tension and pain.  It can also cause disc problems and other arthritic problems in the neck. Other issues it can lead to are: headaches, back, neck, arm and hand pain and tingling.  It can also cause problems with one’s bite and jaw pain. FHP alters the body’s ability to control your balance leading to a greater risk of injuring yourself.
 
Causes:
It is usually from being sedentary and spending most of your time sitting down and/or slouching e.g. driving a car, work, watching tv and using a computer, and backpacks.  It is the repetitive nature of these activities that causes it.
 
How do I know if I have FHP?
Have someone look at you side on.  The middle of the ear hole should be in a straight line up from the centre of the shoulder.  If this is not the case, please consult your Chiropractor as it can cause spine and nerve damage. 
 
How can I prevent or manage it?

  • Consult a Chiropractor as it may be possible to improve it through corrective treatment
  • Correct work station set up 
  • Every 20-30minutes take a mini-stretch break or stand up
  • Use a low back support in your car and at your workstation
  • When wearing a backpack keep both straps on your shoulders and close against your back.  It should not weigh more than 10-15% of your body weight

If you would like help with your forward head posture please contact us or book online to so our chiropractors and massage therapist can help you to start feeling better.

Standing Work Station Ergonomics

So, you have yourself a standing work station. They're awesome! Whilst they take a lot of strain off the discs in your lower back and muscles it also means you are burning more sugar and fats i.e. calories. We will be taking a look at the benefits of having one, how it should be set up correctly, common postural mistakes and how to correct them.

Benefits

  1. It is much better for your core spinal muscles – providing you stand properly and can lower the incidence of neck and upper back pain by up to 54%. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23057991
  2. Reduces the risk of cancer, particularly breast and colon cancer which seem to be affected by activity. It also reduces the risk of obesity because you burn more calories which helps to prevent heart disease and metabolic syndrome.
  3. It can also help to increase productivity and boost your mood.
  4. Our core muscles become less active when we sit especially for long periods of time. When we stand they're much more active but only if they're strong and haven't been damaged, think use it or lose it. I won't go into how to strengthen your core as that's a whole topic of its own. The problem with this is they support all the joints in our spine and if they are weak you are more likely to injure yourself.
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Set up

As with sitting down to use a computer the set-up is very important as well.

  1. Desk height should allow a 90degree angle at elbows with keyboard at a comfortable distance in front of you
  2. Monitor arm's length from eyes
  3. Top of screen not monitor level with eyes
  4. If wear bifocals, top of screen level with upper most part of near sighted section. 
  5. If using two monitors, whichever monitor you use the most be directly in front of you. If you use two equally, put them together on an angle with the edges touching. 

Problems that may arise

 A picture speaks a 1000 words so have a look at the accompanying image. I caught myself a couple of times standing with my weight significantly over one leg and then also leaning on my elbow. This caused my spine to curve which creates wear and tear.

Also, watch out for rounding your shoulders and sticking your chin forward. This causes a huge increase in strain for your upper back and neck, again, causing wear and tear which eventuates in pain and arthritis.

Standing up is hard work. Partly because it takes time to get used to it but even after you have been doing it for a while your heart needs to work harder to pump the blood around your body and your muscles have a fatigue cycle so they need some rest. To help out with this, alternate between sitting and standing every 45-60 minutes.

Acquiring a standing work desk is absolutely a win for your health. Please remember to have it set up correctly and stand properly as this does wonders for your spine and body.

If you have any questions regarding this or would like help with any spine, muscle or joint pain please contact us, book online or call our North Ryde chiropractor on 8096 6781.