News & Views

Chiropractic Care for Military Personnel

Thanks to Congressional support, chiropractic care is now available in several VA hospitals and clinics. Unfortunately, it is not available to many active-duty military personnel. Research currently being conducted by the Palmer Center for Chiropractic Research in conjunction with the RAND Corporation and Samueli Institute will hopefully lead to chiropractic care being available for all military personnel. A pilot study at an Army Medical Center in El Paso, Texas, showed that “73 percent of those who received standard medical care and chiropractic care [for low back pain] rated their improvement as pain “completely gone,” “much better” or “moderately better.” In comparison, 17 percent of participants who received only standard medical care rated their improvement this way.” Due these positive results, the study has been expanded to 750 participants in three sites.

Rethinking Meal Frequency

For years I have recommended eating smaller meals more frequently to help reduce spikes in blood glucose levels.  Researchers in the Czech Republic found that eating a larger breakfast and lunch was better than eating six small meals.  All participants had Type II diabetes and were on oral diabetes medication.  Each participant consumed reduced-calorie, high-fiber meals:  two meals a day for 12 weeks and 6 meals a day for 12 weeks.  All participants showed weight loss, deceased blood glucose, and increase insulin sensitivity but those on the two-meal program had better results.  (Some participants had to have their medication dosages adjusted due to hypoglycemia.)

Nicholas Bakalar quotes the lead author, Dr. Hana Kahleova, “Not only our study, but others too, show that it may be more beneficial to eat a larger breakfast and lunch with a small dinner.  We confirmed the ancient proverb—eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper.”

The Magic Pill

It seems like we’re all looking for that “Magic Pill” that will cure all our ills.  Some of us look for it in the pharmacy, others look in the vitamin isle, but there is no such pill.  At a recent provider meeting with UPMC Health Plan, it was stated that 75% of Disease and Costs are due to behavior.  We were asked if we could say “yes” to all five of the following statements:

  • I am within five pounds of my ideal body weight.
  • I exercise 30 minutes or more most days of the week.
  • I eat a healthy diet with five fruits/vegetables most days.
  • I don’t use tobacco products.
  • I have two or fewer alcoholic drinks per day.

I could not.  Very few can—only 6% nationally, 3% in Western Pa.  The truth is that good health doesn’t come from a pill—it comes from a lifetime of healthy choices.  Most of us already know that—it just a matter of putting it into practice.

Chiropractic Care for Children

I have been receiving chiropractic care since I was a child, as have my children and their children.  I am convinced that the best time to treat an injury to the spine is immediately after it has occurred—not years later.  Some people have concerns about the safety of chiropractic adjustments for children.  Dr. Elise Hewitt cites a 2011 literature review by Dr. Doyle in Clinical Chiropractic where “he found that no serious adverse events have been reported in the scientific literature since 1992.”  Others acknowledge that chiropractic care is safe, but they question its effectiveness.  Dr. Hewitt cites a 2012 study by Dr. Joyce Miller, et al. that “found that excessively crying infants were at least five times as likely to cry significantly less if they were treated with chiropractic manual therapy than if they were not treated.”  While much research remains to be done, be assured that chiropractic care is safe and effective for children as well as adults.

Question: What is “Gentle Chiropractic Care”?

Gentle chiropractic care means that I use the minimum amount of force necessary to adjust a person’s spine.  Clearly a 20-year-old weight-lifter is going to require more forceful adjustments than an 80-year-old grandmother, but many patients tell me that my adjustments are gentle in comparison to other chiropractors they have seen.  I also use a hand-held electric massager to help relax the back muscles before I adjust the spine so that I don’t have to push as hard.  The gentle care extends beyond the adjustment itself—I try to take time and listen to each patient so that the care is tailored to the needs of the individual person.

Gentle chiropractic care does not, however, mean painless chiropractic care—I have never discovered a way to work on sore joints painlessly.  I do what I can to avoid aggravating a condition, but soreness in the area adjusted is the most common side-effect of a chiropractic adjustment—affecting about one in four patients.  Fortunately, that soreness usually eases within 24 hours.

An apple a day…

We’ve often heard the old saying:  “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.”  While it may take more than one apple, Sophie Egan makes the case for eating fruit in a recent article in the New York Times.  She cites Dr. David Ludwig who said “that sugar consumed in fruit is not linked to any adverse health effects, no matter how much you eat.”  He further asserted that increased consumption of fruit leads to a decease in body weight and obesity-related diseases.  “Whole fruits, he explained, contain a bounty of antioxidants and healthful nutrients, and their cellular scaffolding, made of fiber, make us feel full and provide other metabolic benefits.”  Dr. Robert Lustig concurs:  “‘As far as I’m concerned, fiber is the reason to eat fruit,’ since it promotes satiety and the slow release of sugar.  He adds a third benefit from fiber:  it changes our intestinal flora, or microbiome, by helping different species of healthy bacteria thrive.”

“Fiber provides ‘its greatest benefit when the cell walls that contain it remain intact,’ [Dr. Ludwig] said.  Sugars are effectively sequestered in the fruit’s cells, he explained, and it takes time for the digestive tract to break down those cells.  The sugars therefore enter the bloodstream slowly, giving the liver more time to metabolize them.  Four apples may contain the same amount of sugar as 24 ounces of soda, but the slow rate of absorption minimizes any surge in blood sugar.  Repeated surges in blood sugar make the pancreas work harder and can contribute to insulin resistance, thereby increasing the risk for Type 2 diabetes.”

The kind of fruit is less important than how it is prepared.  Fresh fruit is best, followed closely by dried fruit, with sweetened dried fruit and juice far behind.  The reason is simple:  intact cell walls slow the absorption of the sugars.  Juicing breaks down the cell walls and allows the sugars to be absorbed quickly.  So the next time you want something sweet, grab a piece of fruit and enjoy a natural treat that’s good for you.

Question: Are “walk-ins” welcome?

Yes, I welcome the opportunity to provide chiropractic care for anyone who needs it.  I do, however, encourage people to call in advance.  The reason is simple:  I don’t like to keep people waiting.  Anyone who has been in my Shippenville office knows that there are only three chairs in the waiting room and they’re usually empty—that is by design.  My goal is to see people as soon as they arrive for their appointment.  Calling in advance not only keeps the caller from waiting for care, it helps assure that the people who have scheduled appointments aren’t delayed by someone who has “walked-in” ahead of them.

The Positive Side of Allergies

A short article entitled “Celebrating Allergies” is found in the “QuickThots” section of the April/May 2013 issue of Today’s Chiropractic LifeStyle magazine.  Due to its short length, I have reprinted it in its entirety.

“In April 2012, researchers at Yale discovered that seasonal allergies are actually a sign that the immune system is functioning regularly and thus protecting the body from harmful toxins more sinister than pollen. There are two types of immunity: The first directly kills pathogens and infections, while type 2 stimulates the body’s T cells and antibodies to battle external toxins. When suffering seasonal allergy symptoms brought on by pollen or ragweed, your type 2 immunity is actually being kicked into overdrive.”

“While it is not necessary in a survival sense to be protected to such a degree from antigens like dust and pollen, scientists argue that type 2 immunity being on such high defense is a good sign the body is ready for anything from parasites and noxious chemicals to animal venoms and environmental irritants. Take the body’s response to bug bites, for example: The swelling and irritation around a bite can stop a tick or mosquito from accessing a blood vessel if the skin responds fast enough, preventing the transfer of dangerous pathogens such as malaria.”

“The next time you’re feeling down about your sneezing and watery eyes, rejoice in the fact that your immune system is strong and your body is doing exactly what it should: working as a dynamic system of functions to keep you healthy.”

Jacqui Frasca explores the subject more deeply in an article entitled “Thriving with Allergies” in the same issue.

Insurance Coverage of Preventive Care

Insurance has traditionally paid for sickness and accidental injury.  While there has been a trend toward coverage for preventive care in recent years (e.g., diabetic care), preventive chiropractic care is still not covered by most insurances.  Medicare describes preventive care as “maintenance care” and defines it as a “[t]reatment plan that seeks to prevent disease, promote health and prolong and enhance the quality of life; or therapy which is performed to maintain or prevent deterioration of a chronic condition.”  Medicare says that this care is “not medically necessary” and therefore is not covered.  In other words, Medicare will pay to get you better but will not pay to keep you better.  The responsibility for maintaining one’s health then rests with the individual.  In order to help people maintain their health, I provide preventive chiropractic care as well as nutritional supplement and lifestyle recommendations.

Medicare Regulations Surpass U. S. Tax Code

My daughter’s only piece of advice on writing a blog was “keep it positive.”  That’s not an easy task when I just spent the past few weeks working on my tax returns.  The complexity of the federal tax code never ceases to amaze me.  Even with help, it took hours to complete my tax returns.

I was reading the results of a survey of physicians conducted on behalf of The Physicians Foundation by Merritt Hawkins in 2012.  On page 26, they noted that the U. S. tax code runs to some 75,000 pages.  The scary thing is that the Medicare regulations are over 130,000 pages.  Eighty-four percent of the physicians who completed the survey thought the profession was in decline and the number one reason was “too much regulation/paperwork.”  Other factors were “loss of clinical autonomy,” “physicians not compensated for quality,” and “erosion of the physician/patient relationship.”  Mr. Hawkins continues:  “Though paperwork and bureaucracy are present in many working environments, there is no disputing that medicine is one of the most highly regulated of all professions, and that physicians must adhere to a vast array of laws and requirements imposed by the government and third party payers.”  Unfortunately, it appears that the Affordable Care Act is only going to add to the regulatory burden on healthcare providers (and patients).

What’s the solution?  Health Savings Accounts present an appealing alternative to government-run healthcare in that patients are empowered to make decisions about their own healthcare in consultation with their doctors.