improve bone healthWe all are aware that childhood is the ideal time to build strong bones. However, there are always things you can do “even as an adult” to help keep your bones healthy. And it’s particularly important to do these things as you age.

Our bones are in a constant state of being broken down and rebuilt. Until the age of about 30, bone buildup exceeds bone loss. Then bone density slowly begins to decline. If you’re a woman, the reduction in estrogen that comes with menopause can accelerate this bone loss, sometimes dramatically. But no matter how old you are, there are four simple things to keep in mind if you’re interested in maintaining higher levels of bone density into older age: calcium, vitamin K, vitamin D and exercise. Let’s look at how these four are related.

Calcium is integral to maintaining bone strength. However, the number one source of calcium is not what most people believe it is. Dark green leafy vegetables are the single best source of this mineral. Ounce for ounce, they’re even better than dairy products (which are also good). So the key to feeding your bones is to incorporate more spinach, collard greens, broccoli and bok choy into your diet in addition to dairy (milk, yogurt and cheese). Tofu is often fortified with calcium as well, so a quick stir-fry including tofu, bok choy and sesame seeds (another great source of calcium) makes an excellent bone-healthy meal.

In addition to being a great source of calcium, dark green leafy vegetables are also high in vitamin K, a vitamin key to the production of osteocalcin, a bone protein. Vitamin K is needed to bind calcium to the bones and reduces the amount of calcium that is excreted in the urine. It has been shown to promote higher bone density and reduce the risk of fractures. For maintaining bone health, the best supplement to take is a form of vitamin K2 called MK-7 (menaquinone).

In order for your bones to make the most of all that calcium, you also need an adequate supply of vitamin D, which is critical to calcium absorption. However, vitamin D deficiency can be very common in people who live far from the equator and may not benefit from much sunlight during certain times of the year. Dr. Michael Holick, a leading vitamin D expert, believes that most Americans do not get nearly enough it. “We want everyone to be above 30 nanograms per milliliter,” Holick says, “but currently in the United States, Caucasians average 18 to 22 nanograms and African-Americans average 13 to 15 nanograms.”

Most vitamin D is produced from our skin’s exposure to the sun. But even when the sun is shining strongly in the summer months, we are still unlikely to get sufficient exposure. Many people sit in an office all day and rarely get outside. When they do, they are admonished to cover themselves with sunscreen. Sunscreen is good at helping to prevent UV damage, but it is those same UV rays that spur vitamin D production. Experts advise that you get outdoors in the summer months with minimal clothing and no sunscreen two to three times a week for 5 or 10 minutes between the hours of 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.

Equally important in maintaining bone density is performing sufficient amounts of weight-bearing exercise. Even if you get adequate amounts of the necessary vitamins, you will still lose bone mass if you become a couch potato. As your muscles and bones work against gravity, it stimulates bone formation and lowers the rate of calcium loss. You can help to increase bone density at any age by practicing weight-bearing exercise for 20 to 30 minutes three times a week. This can include activities such as lifting weights, walking or running, dancing, playing tennis, climbing stairs or jumping rope.

With just a little extra attention to your diet and some regular exercise, you can significantly reduce your risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures and maintain good bone density into old age.

For more tips on how to improve your bone health, consult our Alamo Chiropractors at The Spine Chiropractic Center.

Among veterans, musculoskeletal pain is one of the most common complaints, particularly low back pain (LBP). The number of veterans reporting to the Veteran’s Health Administration (VHA) with low back pain rose an average of 4.8 percent per year between 2000 and 2007, exceeding the rise in rates of diabetes, high blood pressure and depression. A survey of 15,000 veterans from the Persian Gulf War found that 45 percent reported experiencing back pain. Chiropractic services have been added to the care options for veterans, and most chiropractors providing services to veterans within the VHA reported that LBP was the primary complaint.

chiropractic for veterans with back painA study to determine the effectiveness of chiropractic care in treating veterans with LBP was performed on 171 patients who met the inclusion criteria. The average veteran was male, obese and suffering from chronic LBP (for over 6 months, on average). Most participants also presented with other physical and psychological issues. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is common in the veteran population and has been shown to contribute to chronic pain.

Veterans in the study received treatment from a chiropractor in the western New York area after being referred by their primary care physician. The number of treatments given to each case during the course of the study ranged from 2 to 26, with 8.7 being the mean number of treatments per person. Treatments were performed twice a week on average, and the patient was assessed after every four treatments.
Walnut Creek chiropractors used a range of treatment modalities on the subjects, including standard adjustments, spinal mobilization and flexion distraction. Patients were also instructed on how to perform therapeutic exercises and do stretches that were tailored to their specific condition.

Pain severity was measured by the Numeric Rating Scale (NRS), which is a verbal rating by the patient on the severity of pain using a scale ranging from 0 to 10 at the time treatment is undertaken. The Back Bournemouth Questionnaire (BBQ) is a biopsychosocial measurement of low back pain symptoms consisting of 7 questions that measure pain, disability, and the affective and cognitive-behavioral aspects of musculoskeletal problems. Scores on the BBQ range from 0 to 70, with higher numbers indicating a higher severity of symptoms.

After only two chiropractic treatments, 60 percent of veterans showed a significant improvement of 37.4 points on the NRS and 34.6 points on the BBQ measurements. The researchers concluded that, “Despite high levels of service-connected disability and comorbidity, veterans’ chiropractic clinical outcomes in terms of mean percentage improvement from baseline to discharge for both NRS and BBQ were statistically significant and clinically meaningful. This study adds to the understanding of chiropractic clinical outcomes for veterans with LBP and contributes to a foundation for further research.”

Though the practice of chiropractic is relatively recent in terms of medical treatment, its theory has ancient roots. Hippocrates advised physicians to “get knowledge of the spine, for this is the requisite for many diseases.” Despite this admonishment, the theory of the proper alignment of the spine as being integral to good health did not come into practice until the magnetic healer Daniel David Palmer healed someone by performing a spontaneous spinal adjustment in 1895.

According to the story, Harvey Lillard, a janitor in his office, was working late one night when a particularly noisy fire engine passed by. Palmer noticed that Lillard had not reacted at all, so tried to speak with him, at which point he realized the man was deaf. Lillard related that although he had enjoyed perfect hearing for most of his life, he had been deaf for the past 17 years after he had been working stooped over and heard a “pop” in his back. When he straightened up he discovered he had suddenly become deaf.

When Palmer ran his hand down Lillard’s spine he noticed that one of Lillard’s vertebrae was out of place. He wrote later in his medical journal, “I reasoned that if that vertebra was replaced, the man’s hearing should be restored. With this object in view, a half hour’s talk persuaded Mr. Lillard to allow me to replace it. I racked it into position by using the spinous process as a lever, and soon the man could hear as before.” And thus the first chiropractic adjustment was performed.

Palmer coined the term “chiropractic” from the Greek terms “chiro” (hand) and “practic” (practice). Though Palmer established the first school of chiropractic, the Palmer School & Infirmary of Chiropractic, in 1898 to a public eager to explore alternative medicine, it met with a significant amount of opposition, primarily from the traditional medical establishment. The American Medical Association (AMA) accused Palmer of practicing medicine without a license, and was jailed for 17 days.chiropractic history and origin

D. D. Palmer’s son, B. J. Palmer, took over the school from his father in 1906 and increased the student enrollment. B. J. maintained that chiropractors did not diagnose or treat disease, but rather “analyzed” the situation and performed “adjustments” of spinal subluxations. This did not appease the AMA, who continued for decades to discredit the practice and harass its practitioners both socially and legally.

Finally, in its landmark 1987 ruling in the case of Wilk vs. AMA, the court ruled that the AMA had “engaged in unreasonable restraint of trade and conspiracy,” effectively putting an end to the AMA’s witch hunt. A number of studies done in recent decades have shown the effectiveness of chiropractic, particularly in cases of low back pain, neck pain and headaches.

Today’s Walnut Creek chiropractors continue D. D. Palmer’s commitment to establishing a relationship with their patients and treating them in a holistic way that eases pain and restores quality of life without the use of drugs or surgery.

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