Upper Cervical Chiropractic – Los Angeles Premier Chiropractor http://doctortruong.com Doctor Johnny Truong Fri, 21 Apr 2017 17:00:52 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.6.5 Carpal Tunnel Syndrome – Can it Be Prevented? http://doctortruong.com/2017/04/21/carpal-tunnel-syndrome-can-prevented/ http://doctortruong.com/2017/04/21/carpal-tunnel-syndrome-can-prevented/#respond Fri, 21 Apr 2017 17:00:52 +0000 http://doctortruong.com/?p=620 Los Angeles Upper Cervical Chiropractic Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is a VERY common condition where the median nerve is compressed or squeezed as it passes through the wrist. One reason… read more →

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Los Angeles Upper Cervical Chiropractic Carpal-Tunnel-MOA

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is a VERY common condition where the median nerve is compressed or squeezed as it passes through the wrist. One reason that it’s so common is because MANY daily activities require fast, repetitive use of the fingers, hands, and arms, and the friction of the rapidly moving muscle tendons inside the tunnel results in swelling and compression of the nerve. So, can CTS really be prevented?

There are many factors associated with CTS, and some risks can be prevented. For example, some conditions like diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and IBS increase the risk of CTS. Therefore, it would be safe to assume those who better manage such conditions would have a lower risk for developing CTS.

Due to the many factors associated with CTS, there is no “one size fits all” when it comes to treatment and prevention of CTS. With that said, here are some VERY effective methods:

1. Ergonomic workstation modifications: Altering the work space (monitor height, keyboard/mouse style, different chair, chair/desk height, etc.) to reduce the number and speed of movements needed to perform commons work tasks.

2. Rest periods: Insert “micro-breaks” into a busy task. Combine breaks with stretching exercises of the wrist/hand/fingers and vary job tasks between fast and slow repetitive types.

3. Exercise: Shake the fingers and hands, lean back in a chair with the arms/shoulders stretched back (“Brugger’s Exercise”), move the neck (chin tucks, rotations, etc.), bend the hand/wrist backwards on a wall or the desk’s edge, self-massage and deep tissue release of the forearm and hand muscles. Do regular aerobic exercise (walking, swimming, biking, etc.) several times each week.

4. Posture: Sit up straight, elbows about 90° on height-adjustable arm rests or comfortably at the sides, forearms parallel to the floor; knees level or slightly lower than the hips, feet flat on the floor or on a footrest or box, if needed. Place typing materials at eye level / avoid prolonged head/neck rotation. Use a wrist rest for the keyboard and mouse, and use a headset when on the phone.

5. Reduce hand tool forces: Choose a tool that allows the wrist to remain neutral. Avoid side to side and flexion/extension wrist positions—especially if they’re prolonged! Tool handles should NOT dig into the palm of the hand or the wrist, and should not have sharp edges. A textured handle can improve grip. Minimize vibration from power tools. Wear shock absorbing gloves. Avoid cold work environments and cold tools.

6. Diet: Cut down on caffeine and smoking. Avoid obesity—a known risk factor of CTS! Consider an anti-inflammatory diet (Paleo, Mediterranean).

7.Splints: A wrist cock-up splint at night prevents prolonged faulty positions and REALLY helps!

This is a partial list of preventative measures that can REALLY help. Doctors of chiropractic treat the WHOLE person and can teach you the right exercises, ways to modify your diet, offer manual therapies and modalities, and help guide you in your self-management of CTS, as this can be a lifelong affliction. A multi-modal treatment approach generally works best!

Article can be found at www.DrJohnnyTruongBlog.com

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Fibromyalgia and Physical Activity http://doctortruong.com/2017/04/07/fibromyalgia-physical-activity/ http://doctortruong.com/2017/04/07/fibromyalgia-physical-activity/#respond Fri, 07 Apr 2017 17:00:10 +0000 http://doctortruong.com/?p=614 Los Angeles Upper Cervical Chiropractic Are there differences in lifestyle between people with vs. without fibromyalgia (FM)? A recent study found women with FM found spend more time engaged in… read more →

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Los Angeles Upper Cervical Chiropractic tips_to_cure_back_pain

Are there differences in lifestyle between people with vs. without fibromyalgia (FM)?

A recent study found women with FM found spend more time engaged in sedentary behaviors and less time in physical activity. In the study, researchers followed 413 female patients with FM and 188 age-matched healthy female controls. Researchers used three different approaches to access physical activity: a triaxial accelerometer to examine sedentary time, time spent in physical activity, and step counts.

They discovered those who suffered from FM spent an average of 39 more minutes per day in sedentary activity and 21 fewer minutes per day in light physical activity, 17 fewer minutes per day in moderate physical activity, and 19 fewer minutes per day in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity. In addition, those with FM took a mean of 1,881 fewer steps that those without FM.

Now, this isn’t really a surprise given the fact that people with FM are in pain and more likely to have difficulties sleeping and tolerating prolonged activities. After comparing the sufferers to the non-sufferers, the researchers found only 21% of FM patients vs. 46% of non-FM controls achieved the recommended 150 minutes/week (a little over 20 min. / day) of “moderate-to-vigorous” physical activity. They also found that only 16% vs. 45%, respectively, walked the recommended ≥10,000 steps per day.

One of the BEST forms of exercise for most people is walking. A walking program should be a staple exercise. It’s important to note that this should be GRADUALLY introduced so as to avoid an overuse injury—strain or sprain of the muscles and joints. This gradual introduction into activity is ESPECIALLY important for the FM sufferer as overuse injuries can make them afraid to do something that can REALLY help when done correctly!

Article can be found at www.DrJohnnyTruongBlog.com

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Are Headaches and Dizziness a Dangerous Combination? http://doctortruong.com/2017/03/24/headaches-dizziness-dangerous-combination/ Fri, 24 Mar 2017 17:00:15 +0000 http://doctortruong.com/?p=611 Los Angeles Upper Cervical Chiropractic Last month, we discussed some startling new research that found that lightheadedness upon standing up (orthostatic hypotension) may be more serious than previously thought. This… read more →

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Los Angeles Upper Cervical Chiropractic tension-headache

Last month, we discussed some startling new research that found that lightheadedness upon standing up (orthostatic hypotension) may be more serious than previously thought. This month, we’ll look specifically at headache AND dizziness and if we should we be concerned about this combination of complaints and if so, when?

A team of researchers from Johns Hopkins University reviewed past medical records of 187,188 patients presenting to over 1,000 emergency departments (EDs) between 2008 and 2009. They found the combination of headache and dizziness—especially in women, minorities, and young patients—was a potential signal of an impending stroke!

Specifically, they reported that 12.7% of people complaining of headache and dizziness were later admitted for stroke and had been misdiagnosed and inappropriately sent home from the ED within the previous 30 days. Patients were told they had a “benign condition” such as inner ear infection or migraine, and in some cases, they weren’t given a diagnosis at all. Slightly less than half of this population had a stroke within seven days and over half had a stoke within the first 48 hours of the initial pre-stroke ED presentation!

The study reported that women were 33% and minorities 20-30% more likely to be misdiagnosed, suggesting gender and racial disparities may play a role. The researchers estimate that doctors miss 15,000 to 165,000 strokes that result in harm to the patient each year.

Studies have found that the early diagnosis and quick treatment of strokes is critical in reducing serious residuals in patients having a transient ischemic attach (TIA), sometimes referred to as a “mini-stroke” or “pre-stroke.” TIAs are often pre-cursors to a more catastrophic stroke leading to death or permanent disability without appropriate treatment.

Again, to put this in perspective, MANY people present to healthcare providers with headaches and dizziness with NO relationship to stroke—about 87%—though it is sometimes not possible to know whether a potentially dangerous problem may arise in the near future. The good news is that it usually does not!

The importance of this study is to alert both healthcare providers AND patients of the potential risk. When in doubt, it’s ALWAYS best to seek out multiple opinions. An MRI may be the best way to confirm the most common type of stroke (according the study reviewed above), as a CT scan may not show the brain changes early on and could lead to false reassurance.

Doctors of chiropractic commonly see patients presenting with headaches and dizziness. When this occurs suddenly, out of the ordinary, and/or at a relatively young age (women > men), it’s better to be safe than sorry and obtain multiple opinions, especially WHEN IN DOUBT!

Article can be found at www.DrJohnnyTruongBlog.com

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What Is Causing My Back Pain? http://doctortruong.com/2017/03/10/causing-back-pain-2/ Fri, 10 Mar 2017 17:00:48 +0000 http://doctortruong.com/?p=608 Los Angeles Upper Cervical Chiropractic Low back pain (LBP) can arise from disks, nerves, joints, and the surrounding soft tissues. To simplify the task of determining “What is causing my… read more →

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Los Angeles Upper Cervical Chiropractic lower-back-pain

Low back pain (LBP) can arise from disks, nerves, joints, and the surrounding soft tissues. To simplify the task of determining “What is causing my LBP?,” the Quebec Task Force recommends that LBP be divided into three main categories: 1) Mechanical LBP; 2) Nerve root related back pain; and 3) Pathology or fracture. We will address the first two, as they are most commonly managed by chiropractors.

Making the proper diagnosis points your doctor in the right direction regarding treatment. It avoids time wasted by treating an unrelated condition, which runs the risk of increased chances of a poor and/or prolonged recovery. Low back pain is no exception! The “correct” diagnosis allows treatment to be focused and specific so that it will yield the best results.

Mechanical low back pain is the most commonly seen type of back pain, and it encompasses pain that arises from sprains, strains, facet and sacroiliac (SI) syndromes, and more. The main difference between this and nerve root-related LBP is the ABSENCE of a pinched nerve. Hence, pain typically does NOT radiate, and if it does, it rarely goes beyond the knee and normally does not cause weakness in the leg.

The mechanism of injury for both types of LBP can occur when a person does too much, maintains an awkward position for too long, or over bends, lifts, and/or twists. However, LBP can also occur “insidiously” or for seemingly no reason at all. However, in most cases, if one thinks hard enough, they can identify an event or a series of “micro-traumas” extending back in time that may be the “cause” of their current low back pain issues.

Nerve root-related LBP is less common but it is often more severe—as the pain associated with a pinched nerve is often very sharp, can radiate down a leg often to the foot, and cause numbness, tingling, and muscle weakness. The location of the weakness depends on which nerve is pinched. Think of the nerve as a wire to a light and the switch of the nerve is located in the back where it exits the spine. When the switch is turned on (the nerve is pinched), and the “light” turns on—possibly in the outer foot, middle foot, inner foot, or front, back or side of the thigh. In fact, there are seven nerves that innervate or “run” into our leg, so usually, a very specific location “lights up” in the limb.

Determining the cause of your low back pain helps your doctor of chiropractic determine which treatments may work best to alleviate your pain as well as where such treatments can be focused.

Article can be found at www.DrJohnnyTruongBlog.com

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Is Whiplash the Cause of My Dizziness? http://doctortruong.com/2017/02/24/whiplash-cause-dizziness-2/ Fri, 24 Feb 2017 17:00:19 +0000 http://doctortruong.com/?p=606 Los Angeles Upper Cervical Chiropractic Whiplash, or better termed “Whiplash Associated Disorders” (WAD), is a condition that carries multiple signs and symptoms ranging from neck pain and stiffness to headache,… read more →

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Los Angeles Upper Cervical Chiropractic whiplash1

Whiplash, or better termed “Whiplash Associated Disorders” (WAD), is a condition that carries multiple signs and symptoms ranging from neck pain and stiffness to headache, confusion, ringing in the ears, and more. But can WAD cause dizziness? Let’s take a look!

Dizziness is a general term that is used rather loosely by the general population. We’ve all experienced dizziness from time-to-time that is considered “normal,” such as standing up too quickly or while experiencing a rough flight.

Often, dizziness and problems with balance go hand in hand. There are three main organs that control our balance: 1) the vestibular system (the inner ear); 2) the cerebellum (lies in the back of the head); and, 3) the dorsal columns (located in the back part of the spinal cord). In this article, we will primarily focus on the inner ear because, of the three, it’s unique for causing dizziness. Our vision also plays an important role in maintaining balance, as we tend to lose our balance much faster when we close our eyes.

It’s appropriate to first discuss the transient, usually short episode of “normal” lightheadedness associated with rising quickly. This is typically caused by a momentary drop in blood pressure, and hence, oxygen simply doesn’t reach the brain quick enough when moving from sitting to standing. Again, this is normal and termed “orthostatic hypotension” (OH).

However, OH can be exaggerated by colds, the flu, allergy flair-ups, when hyperventilating, or at times of increased stress or anxiety. OH is also associated with the use of tobacco, alcohol, and/or some medications. Bleeding can represent a more serious cause of OH such as with bleeding ulcers or some types of colitis, and less seriously, with menstruation.

The term BPPV or benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, has to do with the inner ear where our semicircular canals are located. The canals lie in three planes and give us a 3D, 360º perspective about where we are in space. The fluid flowing through these canals bends little hair-like projections, which are connected to sensory nerves that tell the brain about our spatial position. If the function of these canals is disturbed, it can mix-up the messages the brain receives, thus resulting in dizziness. Exercises are available on the Internet that can help with BPPV (look for Epley’s and Brandt-Daroff exercises).

DANGEROUS causes of dizziness include: HEART – fainting (passing out) accompanied by chest pain, shortness of breath, nausea, pain or pressure in the back, neck, jaw, upper belly, or in one or both arms, sudden weakness, and/or a fast or irregular heartbeat. STROKE – sudden numbness, paralysis, or weakness in the face, arm, or leg, especially if only on one side of the body; drooling, slurred speech, short “black outs,” sudden visual changes, confusion/difficulty speaking, and/or a sudden and severe, “out of the ordinary” headache. CALL 911 (or the number for emergency services if you’re outside the United States) if you suspect you may be having a heart attack or stroke!

Article can be found at www.DrJohnnyTruongBlog.com

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Carpal Tunnel Syndrome – Why Is It So Bad at Night? http://doctortruong.com/2017/02/10/carpal-tunnel-syndrome-bad-night/ Fri, 10 Feb 2017 17:00:27 +0000 http://doctortruong.com/?p=595 Los Angeles Upper Cervical Chiropractic For those who have carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), it’s no surprise that CTS is frequently most expressive during the night, often to the point of… read more →

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Los Angeles Upper Cervical Chiropractic carpal tunnel pic

For those who have carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), it’s no surprise that CTS is frequently most expressive during the night, often to the point of interrupting sleep and/or making it difficult to fall back to sleep. So why is that?

The primary reason for nighttime CTS symptoms has to do with the wrist, as it is very difficult to sleep with the wrist held in its “ideal” or least irritating position. In fact, most people favor “curling” the back of the hand under the chin or bending the hand/wrist backwards under the head. When the wrist is bent in either direction, it can increase the pressure inside the wrist, which can generate the various symptoms associated with CTS.

One study evaluated the pressure inside the carpal tunnel while participants slowly moved their wrists. The researchers found many movements didn’t need to exceed 20 degrees before the pressure increased enough within the carpal tunnel to generate symptoms.

Because it doesn’t take a lot of movement to build up excessive pressure in the wrists of those with CTS, many doctors recommend the use of a “cock-up splint” for the non-surgical treatment of CTS in order to help keep the wrist in a neutral position.

Wrist posture is also an important factor during the day. One study looked at typing on a tablet PC, which allowed people to work in non-traditional settings. As screen size reduced, the posture required to type became more limited and accelerated the usual rate of pain onset in the neck, elbows, and wrists.

This study also looked at three different positions used when working on touch-screen devices: desk, lap, and bed. The healthy subjects completed six, 60-minute typing sessions using three virtual keyboard designs: standard, wide, and split. The researchers monitored the position of the wrist, elbow, and neck while the participants typed and followed up each session with questionnaires designed to measure discomfort.

The research team reported that typing in bed required greater wrist extension but resulted in a more natural elbow position than typing at a desk. The angled split keyboard significantly reduced the wrist deviation vs. the standard or wide keyboard designs. All three regions—the neck, elbow, and wrist—exhibited more movements (13% to 38%) towards the end of the one hour sessions, which correlated with a significant increase in pain in every body region investigated. Overall, using a wider keyboard while sitting at a desk was the most
tolerable position among study participants.

Article can be found at www.DrJohnnyTruongBlog.com

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Fibromyalgia – What Are Some Good Exercises? http://doctortruong.com/2017/01/27/fibromyalgia-good-exercises-2/ Fri, 27 Jan 2017 17:00:23 +0000 http://doctortruong.com/?p=603 Los Angeles Upper Cervical Chiropractic Fibromyalgia (FM) is a very common, chronic condition where the patient describes “widespread pain” not limited to one area of the body. Hence, when addressing… read more →

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Los Angeles Upper Cervical Chiropractic neck pain pic

Fibromyalgia (FM) is a very common, chronic condition where the patient describes “widespread pain” not limited to one area of the body. Hence, when addressing exercises for FM, one must consider the whole body. Perhaps one of the most important to consider is the squat.

If you think about it, we must squat every time we sit down, stand up, get in/out of our car, and in/out of bed. Even climbing and descending steps results in a squat-lunge type of movement.

The problem with squatting is that we frequently lose (or misuse) the proper way to do this when we’re in pain as the pain forces us to compensate, which can cause us to develop faulty movement patterns that can irritate our ankles, knees, hips, and spine (particularly the low back). In fact, performing a squatting exercise properly will strengthen the hips, which will help protect the spine, and also strengthens the glutel muscles, which can help you perform all the daily activities mentioned above.

The “BEST” type of squat is the free-standing squat. This is done by bending the ankles, knees, and hips while keeping a curve in the low back. The latter is accomplished by “…sticking the butt out” during the squat.

Do NOT allow the knees to drift beyond your toes! If you notice sounds coming from your knees they can be ignored IF they are not accompanied by pain. If you do have pain, try moving the foot of the painful knee about six inches (~15 cm) ahead of the other and don’t squat as far down. Move within “reasonable boundaries of pain” by staying away from positions that reproduce sharp, lancinating pain that lingers upon completion.

There are MANY exercises that help FM, but this one is particularly important!

Article can be found at www.DrJohnnyTruongBlog.com

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Tension vs. Migraine: What’s the Difference? http://doctortruong.com/2017/01/13/tension-vs-migraine-whats-difference-2/ Fri, 13 Jan 2017 17:00:36 +0000 http://doctortruong.com/?p=601 Los Angeles Upper Cervical Chiropractic Most likely, everyone reading this article has had a headache at one time or another. The American Headache Society reports that nearly 40% of the… read more →

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Los Angeles Upper Cervical Chiropractic headaches pic

Most likely, everyone reading this article has had a headache at one time or another. The American Headache Society reports that nearly 40% of the population suffers from episodic headaches each year while 3% have chronic tension-type headaches. The United States Department of Health and Human Services estimates that 29.5 million Americans experience migraines, but tension headaches are more common than migraines at a frequency of 5 to 1. Knowing the difference between the two is important, as the proper diagnosis can guide treatment in the right direction.

TENSION HEADACHES: These typically result in a steady ache and tightness located in the neck, particularly at the base of the skull, which can irritate the upper cervical nerve roots resulting in radiating pain and/or numbness into the head. At times, the pain can reach the eyes but often stops at the top of the head. Common triggers include stress, muscle strain, or anxiety.

MIGRAINE HEADACHES:
Migraines are often much more intense, severe, and sometimes incapacitating. They usually remain on one side of the head and are associated with nausea and/or vomiting. An “aura”, or a pre-headache warning, often comes with symptoms such as a bright flashing light, ringing or noise in the ears, a visual floater, and more. For migraine headaches, there is often a strong family history, which indicates genetics may play a role in their origin.

There are many causes for headaches. Commonly, they include lack of sleep and/or stress and they can also result from a recent injury—such as a car accident, and/or a sports injury—especially when accompanied by a concussion.

Certain things can “trigger” a migraine including caffeine, chocolate, citrus fruits, cured meats, dehydration, depression, diet (skipping meals), dried fish, dried fruit, exercise (excessive), eyestrain, fatigue (extreme), food additives (nitrites, nitrates, MSG), lights (bright, flickering, glare), menstruation, some medications, noise, nuts, odors, onions, altered sleep, stress, watching TV, red wine/alcohol, weather, etc.

Posture is also a very important consideration. A forward head carriage is not only related to headaches, but also neck and back pain. We’ve previously pointed out that every inch (2.54 cm) the average 12 pound head (5.44 kg) shifts forwards adds an EXTRA ten pounds (4.5 kg) of load on the neck and upper back muscles to keep the head upright.

So, what can be done for people who suffer from headaches? First, research shows chiropractic care is highly effective for patients with both types of headaches. Spinal manipulation, deep tissue release techniques, and nutritional counseling are common approaches utilized by chiropractors. Patients are also advised to use some of these self-management strategies at home as part of their treatment plan: the use of ice, self-trigger point therapy, exercise (especially strengthening the deep neck flexors), and nutritional supplements.

Article can be found at www.DrJohnnyTruongBlog.com

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What Is Causing My Back Pain? http://doctortruong.com/2016/12/30/causing-back-pain/ Fri, 30 Dec 2016 17:00:24 +0000 http://doctortruong.com/?p=599 Los Angeles Upper Cervical Chiropractic Low back pain (LBP) can arise from disks, nerves, joints, and the surrounding soft tissues. To simplify the task of determining “What is causing my… read more →

The post What Is Causing My Back Pain? appeared first on Upper Cervical Chiropractic - Los Angeles Premier Chiropractor.

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Los Angeles Upper Cervical Chiropractic back-pain

Low back pain (LBP) can arise from disks, nerves, joints, and the surrounding soft tissues. To simplify the task of determining “What is causing my LBP?,” the Quebec Task Force recommends that LBP be divided into three main categories: 1) Mechanical LBP; 2) Nerve root related back pain; and 3) Pathology or fracture. We will address the first two, as they are most commonly managed by chiropractors.

Making the proper diagnosis points your doctor in the right direction regarding treatment. It avoids time wasted by treating an unrelated condition, which runs the risk of increased chances of a poor and/or prolonged recovery. Low back pain is no exception! The “correct” diagnosis allows treatment to be focused and specific so that it will yield the best results.

Mechanical low back pain is the most commonly seen type of back pain, and it encompasses pain that arises from sprains, strains, facet and sacroiliac (SI) syndromes, and more. The main difference between this and nerve root-related LBP is the ABSENCE of a pinched nerve. Hence, pain typically does NOT radiate, and if it does, it rarely goes beyond the knee and normally does not cause weakness in the leg.

The mechanism of injury for both types of LBP can occur when a person does too much, maintains an awkward position for too long, or over bends, lifts, and/or twists. However, LBP can also occur “insidiously” or for seemingly no reason at all. However, in most cases, if one thinks hard enough, they can identify an event or a series of “micro-traumas” extending back in time that may be the “cause” of their current low back pain issues.

Nerve root-related LBP is less common but it is often more severe—as the pain associated with a pinched nerve is often very sharp, can radiate down a leg often to the foot, and cause numbness, tingling, and muscle weakness. The location of the weakness depends on which nerve is pinched. Think of the nerve as a wire to a light and the switch of the nerve is located in the back where it exits the spine. When the switch is turned on (the nerve is pinched), and the “light” turns on—possibly in the outer foot, middle foot, inner foot, or front, back or side of the thigh. In fact, there are seven nerves that innervate or “run” into our leg, so usually, a very specific location “lights up” in the limb.

Determining the cause of your low back pain helps your doctor of chiropractic determine which treatments may work best to alleviate your pain as well as where such treatments can be focused.

Article can be found at www.DrJohnnyTruongBlog.com

The post What Is Causing My Back Pain? appeared first on Upper Cervical Chiropractic - Los Angeles Premier Chiropractor.

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Is Whiplash the Cause of My Dizziness? http://doctortruong.com/2016/12/16/whiplash-cause-dizziness/ Fri, 16 Dec 2016 17:00:07 +0000 http://doctortruong.com/?p=597 Los Angeles Upper Cervical Chiropractic Whiplash, or better termed “Whiplash Associated Disorders” (WAD), is a condition that carries multiple signs and symptoms ranging from neck pain and stiffness to headache,… read more →

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Los Angeles Upper Cervical Chiropractic whiplash pic

Whiplash, or better termed “Whiplash Associated Disorders” (WAD), is a condition that carries multiple signs and symptoms ranging from neck pain and stiffness to headache, confusion, ringing in the ears, and more. But can WAD cause dizziness? Let’s take a look!

Dizziness is a general term that is used rather loosely by the general population. We’ve all experienced dizziness from time-to-time that is considered “normal,” such as standing up too quickly or while experiencing a rough flight.

Often, dizziness and problems with balance go hand in hand. There are three main organs that control our balance: 1) the vestibular system (the inner ear); 2) the cerebellum (lies in the back of the head); and, 3) the dorsal columns (located in the back part of the spinal cord). In this article, we will primarily focus on the inner ear because, of the three, it’s unique for causing dizziness. Our vision also plays an important role in maintaining balance, as we tend to lose our balance much faster when we close our eyes.

It’s appropriate to first discuss the transient, usually short episode of “normal” lightheadedness associated with rising quickly. This is typically caused by a momentary drop in blood pressure, and hence, oxygen simply doesn’t reach the brain quick enough when moving from sitting to standing. Again, this is normal and termed “orthostatic hypotension” (OH).

However, OH can be exaggerated by colds, the flu, allergy flair-ups, when hyperventilating, or at times of increased stress or anxiety. OH is also associated with the use of tobacco, alcohol, and/or some medications. Bleeding can represent a more serious cause of OH such as with bleeding ulcers or some types of colitis, and less seriously, with menstruation.

The term BPPV or benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, has to do with the inner ear where our semicircular canals are located. The canals lie in three planes and give us a 3D, 360º perspective about where we are in space. The fluid flowing through these canals bends little hair-like projections, which are connected to sensory nerves that tell the brain about our spatial position. If the function of these canals is disturbed, it can mix-up the messages the brain receives, thus resulting in dizziness. Exercises are available on the Internet that can help with BPPV (look for Epley’s and Brandt-Daroff exercises).

DANGEROUS causes of dizziness include: HEART – fainting (passing out) accompanied by chest pain, shortness of breath, nausea, pain or pressure in the back, neck, jaw, upper belly, or in one or both arms, sudden weakness, and/or a fast or irregular heartbeat. STROKE – sudden numbness, paralysis, or weakness in the face, arm, or leg, especially if only on one side of the body; drooling, slurred speech, short “black outs,” sudden visual changes, confusion/difficulty speaking, and/or a sudden and severe, “out of the ordinary” headache. CALL 911 (or the number for emergency services if you’re outside the United States) if you suspect you may be having a heart attack or stroke!

Article can be found at www.DrJohnnyTruongBlog.com

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