Thursday, March 23, 2017

5 Tips To Improve The Quality Of Your Child’s Sleep

Canadian Chiropractic Association

We often take great care to ensure our children build good personal hygiene habits such as brushing their teeth and bathing. But do we pay as much attention to our children’s sleep hygiene? As adults, we easily recognize the benefits of a good night’s sleep for ourselves, and certainly we want the same for our children. Sleep has an important restorative role to play and it is critical for healthy growth and development. Proper sleep can also help prevent health problems now and in the future.
 
It is important to understand your child’s sleep needs and identify potential sleep problems early. Children need an ample amount of sleep to ensure that they are energized and have the ability to excel at the activities they enjoy.
 
If you are concerned about your children’s quality of sleep, you may notice the following signs1:
• Falling grades in school
• Poor self esteem
• Either low or excessive appetite
• Headaches or migraines
• Hyperactive behaviour
• Difficulties with attention
 
As a family, there are ways to build in good habits into your nightly routine to help your children get better sleep.
 
The Encyclopedia on Early Child Development recommends the following tips for good sleep hygiene in children2:
 
Tip 1: A child’s bedroom should be a safe, secure, and quiet sleeping environment: Consider distancing electronics and devices away from the bed or keeping them out of the bedroom entirely.
 
Tip 2: Establish a bedtime routine: It is important to provide a short and consistent routine for children before bed. A good routine will relax the child and encourage sleep. The routine should be carried out in the child’s bedroom and should take place 15 to 30 minutes before bedtime. It is recommended that the routine is predictable and consistent. Also be sure that there is a set bedtime.
 
Tip 3: Keep a regular schedule: The bedtime routine and schedule should be followed every day,
with the routine continued on weekends.
 
Tip 4: Teaching a child to fall asleep alone: When a child is older (over six months) the parent can slowly remove themselves from their bedside, allowing the child to grow accustomed to sleeping on their own.
 
Tip 5: Encouraging daytime activities that help a child sleep at night: Exercise can help or hinder sleep depending on the time of the day that activity took place. Exercise during the day will help the child fall asleep at night, whereas exercise close to bedtime may cause sleep onset insomnia. Ideally, exercise should stop two to three hours before bedtime.
 
Getting a good night’s sleep is important for everyone. But, like many good habits, it’s important to start at an early age. With the new school year approaching, creating a routine now is one of the easiest ways to make good sleep hygiene a long-lasting practice for your children.
For more tips on maintaining sleep hygiene, visit your chiropractor.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Air Travel Comfort Tips

By Dr. John A. Papa, DC, FCCPOR(C)

Comfort is not usually the first word that comes to mind when someone mentions flying.  Sitting cramped in a small space for a long plane ride can also lead to muscle and joint pain.  Here are some helpful tips for a more enjoyable voyage.
 
Choose the Correct Seat - Some airlines fill the plane from front to back, so ask for a seat in the back row to increase your chances of having an empty seat next to you.  If the arm rests lift up, you might even be able to lie down.  Aisle and emergency exit seats maximize leg room and are less claustrophobic.  If you are susceptible to motion sickness, request a seat over the wings and try to schedule flights on larger airplanes.
 
Keep Moving - Moving around is good for your circulation and helps to prevent swollen feet and ankles.  Wear loose clothing and walk about the cabin periodically every 60 to 90 minutes.  Wear shoes you can slip off easily.  Every so often, draw circles with your toes and contract your calves to help prevent blood from pooling in your legs.  Tapping your feet can also help increase circulation and reduce the chance of muscle cramping.
 
Stretch it out - Try not to place anything under the seat in front of you so you can stretch your legs out.  Quick and easy stretches also include standing up and raising your arms above your head, rotating your shoulders back and forth, and moving your head side to side.
 
Keep Good Posture While Seated - Position your lower back against the back of the chair to obtain the greatest amount of support for your spine.  A rolled sweater or blanket can also be used for added support.  Make sure that your weight is evenly distributed on your seat, your shoulders are not rounding forward, and you are not slouching.  Support your neck and head with a pillow if necessary and avoid awkward positions if trying to rest or sleep.  Try not to stay in one position for a long period of time.
 
Additional Tips
 
·        Eat Right - Eat a light, non-fatty meal just before you leave for the airport.  This can make handling turbulence a little easier.
 
·        Handling Pressure - Chewing gum, yawning or sucking on hard candies can help to relieve the pressure that builds up in your ears as the airplane ascends and descends.  This is not recommended for toddlers.  For young children, sipping a drink may help.
 
·        Prevent Dehydration - The air in most airplanes can dry out your skin and cause eye and nasal dryness.  Take a moisturizer with you for your skin and wear glasses instead of contact lenses to prevent eye dryness.  Drink enough water and steer clear of caffeine and alcohol as they further dehydrate you.  Alcohol can also interfere with your ability to sleep.
 
In the event that you suffer from ongoing muscle and joint pain following your trip, you should contact a licensed health professional.  For more information, visit www.nhwc.ca.  The author credits the CCA in the preparation of this educational information for use by its members and the public. 
 
This article is a basic summary for educational purposes only.  It is not intended, and should not be considered, as a replacement for consultation, diagnosis or treatment by a duly licensed health practitioner.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Preventing Falls

By Dr. John A. Papa, DC, FCCPOR(C)
 
A fall causing serious injury can occur to anyone at any time.  Since most trips, slips and falls happen in and around the home, it is a good idea to fall-proof your home with the following measures:
 
In the Halls and on the Stairs
·        Install non-slip strips on the edge of each step.
·        Secure loose carpet.  Make sure hallways and stairs are cleared of anything that you can trip over (i.e.books, shoes, bags).
·        Replace burnt-out light bulbs so that you always see where you are going.  Night-lights in halls and stairways can also be helpful.
·        Install handrails on both sides of staircases inside and outside the home.
 
In the Bathroom
·         Use non-slip mats inside and outside the bathtub and shower.
·         Install grab bars next to your toilet and in the tub or shower.
 
In the Kitchen
·         Put commonly used items on lower shelves and cabinets so a step-stool is not needed.
·         Replace loose scatter mats with rugs that have a rubber backing.
 
Outdoors
·        Keep a shovel and covered bucket of sand or salt near the doorway in winter to safely handle slippery conditions.
·         Keep steps and pathways clear of clutter such as yard tools, snow shovels, newspapers and wet leaves.
·        Don’t juggle parcels while trying to enter the house.  Never carry more than is reasonable.  Instead, make a few trips from the car with smaller packages.
 
More tips
·        Quickly dry up any wet areas on the floor to prevent slipping.
·        Wear shoes with good support and non-slip soles.
·        Always sit down to put on or take off shoes and clothes.
·        Employ extra caution when using ladders and step-stools.
·        Regular exercise can help improve your strength, balance and coordination.  Making your body stronger is one of the best ways to prevent falls.  Exercises such as yoga, Tai Chi, resistance training, bicycle riding, and power walking are great examples.
 
The following may be especially important for older individuals:
·        Maintaining a healthy diet and not skipping meals can increase your energy and strength.  Missing meals can lead to weakness, irritability and dizziness.
·        Have your MD or pharmacist review your medications.  Some medications can cause dizziness and weakness, which can affect your balance and perception.  Make sure that your MD or pharmacist explains all of the possible side effects of your medications.
 
Although the risk of falling increases as you get older, there are some simple things people of all ages can do to prevent falls.  In the event that you fall and suffer a muscle or joint injury that does not subside, you should contact a licensed health professional.  For more information, visit www.nhwc.ca.  The author credits the Canadian Chiropractic Association (CCA) in the preparation of this educational information for use by its members and the public.
 
This article is a basic summary for educational purposes only.  It is not intended, and should not be considered, as a replacement for consultation, diagnosis or treatment by a duly licensed health practitioner.

Monday, March 6, 2017

What Smoking Does To Your Musculoskeletal Health

By Dr. John A. Papa, DC, FCCPOR(C)
 
The musculoskeletal (MSK) system includes the muscles, tendons, joints, and bones of the body.  Cigarettes contain many harmful chemicals, including nicotine and carbon monoxide which negatively affect the physical health and integrity of the MSK system.  Included below is a summary of those affects:
 
1.   Smoking decreases bone mineral density (BMD) and increases the risk of osteoporosis and future fractures.  Studies have shown that nicotine reduces the blood supply to bones, slows the production of bone forming cells, and decreases the absorption of calcium.  Post-menopausal women who smoke have greater spinal osteoporosis than non-smoking counterparts.  Among men, a consistently lower BMD at all bony sites is observed regardless of when in their life they smoked.  In addition, a relationship between cigarette smoking and low BMD in adolescence and early adulthood has been identified.
 
2.    Smoking delays healing times for bony fractures and soft tissue injuries such as rotator cuff tears.  Nicotine has been shown to decrease the production of fibroblasts (the main cells responsible for tissue repair).  In addition, the carbon monoxide found in tobacco smoke reduces oxygen levels in the body which is critical for all tissue healing.
 
3.   Smoking contributes to an increase in spinal problems.  The reduced blood circulation found in smokers deprives spinal discs of vital nutrients which can lead to premature degeneration.  Smoking may also provoke disc herniation through coughing.  Studies demonstrate a definite link between smoking and low back pain that increases with the duration and frequency of the smoking.  Exposure to secondhand smoke during childhood may also increase the risk of developing neck and back problems later in life.
 
4.    Smoking increases pain levels.  Smokers complain more often of MSK pain than non-smokers.  Studies indicate that smoking makes individuals more susceptible to sensing pain at lower thresholds.  In addition, smoking causes general damage to the MSK system through direct chemical irritation, chronic inflammation, and restricting blood and nutrient flow.
 
5.    Smoking causes stress and de-conditioning in the body.  For optimal functioning, your muscles and joints need a steady supply of oxygen-rich blood.  Smoking not only stiffens your arteries, it also decreases the rate at which oxygen and carbon dioxide are exchanged in the blood.  Other side effects of smoking include fatigue, lung disorders, impaired healing, and chronic pain.  Impaired healing means that injuries affect you for longer than usual, and healing from surgeries or infections can be problematic.  These side effects can lead to inactivity, which causes deconditioning.
 
Scientific evidence has established links between cigarette smoking and its detrimental impact on the MSK system.  However, it is never too late to try and quit smoking.  Some of the negative health aspects of smoking start to reverse after a smoker quits.  Those looking for help in trying to quit should speak to a medical professional.  Valuable resources can also be found on the Health Canada and Canadian Lung Association websites.  For additional information on health and wellness, visit www.nhwc.ca.
 
This article is a basic summary for educational purposes only.  It is not intended, and should not be considered, as a replacement for consultation, diagnosis or treatment by a duly licensed health practitioner.

Friday, February 24, 2017

How To Choose The Right Pillow

By Dr. John A. Papa, DC, FCCPOR(C)

A good night’s sleep is important for maintaining good health and optimal functioning, and choosing the right pillow can make all the difference in the world when it comes to how well you sleep.  Using a pillow that is the wrong size and fit can be a significant source of neck and back pain.  In some cases, incorrect head and neck positioning can also affect breathing and cause snoring, which can hinder sleep.

The right pillow will help support the head, neck, and shoulders, keeping them in alignment, and thereby minimize stress and strain on muscles and joints.  As a result, this will also create a feeling of comfort and increase the likelihood of a restful sleep.

There is no one best pillow for everyone as there are a variety of factors that go into choosing the right pillow.  Below are some useful tips that can help you find the pillow that's right for you:

·         Consider your sleeping position.  Back sleepers should choose a pillow that is not too firm or too high.  The pillow should keep the chin in a natural resting position, and support the head and neck so they are aligned with the upper back and spine.  Side sleepers should opt for a firm pillow that supports the neck in a neutral position.  The pillow should hold the head high enough to ensure that the spine is aligned.  Stomach sleepers should choose a soft or flat pillow so the neck isn’t turned or tilted at an uncomfortable angle.

·        Choose a size of pillow suitable for your body size or frame.  The pillow should cover the entire back of the neck and mold to one's individual shape to alleviate any pressure points.

·        Try out a variety of pillows.  Most pillows are packaged in a plastic wrapper so you can lay it on a display bed in the store and put your head on it.  Visit a store that has a wide range of pillow options to find the one that best meets your needs.
 
·        A hypoallergenic pillow is a must if you suffer from allergies, but it is also a good choice for anyone.

·        Replace your pillow every 12-18 months.  Pillows will wear over time by losing their shape and ability to provide proper alignment and support.

If you experience pain and discomfort at night or have difficulty falling asleep, consider visiting a chiropractor.  Chiropractors are trained to treat muscle and joint problems that can interfere with a restful night's sleep.  They can also offer nutritional and lifestyle advice that can help improve sleep quality.  For more information, visit www.nhwc.ca.  The author credits the Alberta and Ontario Chiropractic Associations in the preparation of this educational information for use by its members and the public.

This article is a basic summary for educational purposes only.  It is not intended, and should not be considered, as a replacement for consultation, diagnosis or treatment by a duly licensed health practitioner.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Tips For New Mothers: Pre- And Postnatal Care

Canadian Chiropractic Association

Expecting a baby is very exciting, but it takes a lot of effort and attention to ensure both the mother and baby are healthy.  In this blog post we will outline some helpful tips for pre- and postnatal care. The information shared may help enhance or maintain your health during your pregnancy and delivery, and after the birth of the baby.

During the Prenatal Period1
Prenatal care is extremely important to ensure good health for you and your baby and decrease potential health risks during pregnancy. Being judicious about monitoring your health can help identify problems early, and allow opportunities for prevention. According to the Patient Education Institute, babies who are born to mothers who lack prenatal care have three times the chance of being born at a low birth weight, along with several other complications1.
 
Many of the following well-known preventative strategies are good to keep in mind to ensure mother and baby are healthy:
  • Stop smoking and limit your intake of alcohol
  • Talk to your doctor about any pre-existing medical conditions, dietary supplements (including folic acid), and any over-the-counter medications or prescription drugs you may be taking
  • Keep moving (consistent light exercise is important) and focus on healthy food choices
 

During the Postpartum Period2

Postpartum care starts after the baby is born and lasts about 6–8 weeks. During this time, the mother will focus on getting adequate rest, proper nutrition and other self-care measures as instructed by your family physician. Here are some helpful postpartum care tips:
 
Diet and Activities: After giving birth, it is recommended that a new mother continue to eat a balanced diet, drink plenty of fluids and slowly get back to normal activities and routines. For the first 2–6 weeks after a C-section, for example, she should refrain from physical exertion such as lifting, pushing and pulling of heavy objects. Ask your family physician or other healthcare providers if in doubt.
 
Postpartum Checkup: Normally, a healthcare provider will want to see the mother 6 weeks after delivery for a checkup. If there are complications, a visit may be scheduled sooner.
 
These are just a few things to consider, however, consulting with a healthcare provider such as a chiropractor is the best way to get proper information and care tips for your pre- and postnatal healthcare.
 
References:
1 Robin Madell, “Pregnancy Care.” Healthline. December 15, 2015. https://www.healthline.com/health/pregnancy-care#Overview1
2 X-Plain: Patient Education, “Postpartum Care.” The Patient Education Institute, Inc. Last reviewed August 23, 2012. https://www.kaahe.org/en/ArabicSampleModules/modules/obgyn/ogff01a1/ogff0101/ogff0101.pdf.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Managing Muscle & Joint Pain While Travelling

By Dr. R. Greg Lusk, DC

Along with the weather, winter get-away travel plans are a common topic of conversation this time of year while making small talk with clients.  Upcoming travel is also a driving force for some to have a painful complaint checked out as they are dreading the travel process ahead and are hopeful that the pain can be lessened so they can enjoy the vacation as originally planned.  Even for those that book an initial appointment a mere few days before departure, which doesn't allow much time for treatment to yield results, learning some key things to keep in mind or do while travelling can empower them to manage their symptoms independently.

Let's start with luggage as managing a heavy suitcase can be difficult even when you're not in pain.  Try to be restrictive in what you pack to lessen the overall weight and consider multiple bags versus a single large and heavy one if you cannot pack light.  Use wheels and pull handles if available.  Lift luggage with a straight back, bend at your hips and knees, and avoid twisting through the spine.  Lifting in stages can also help avoid excessive strain.  For example, when lifting a bag into an overhead bin, it can first be lifted to the top of the seat and then into the bin in a separate action. Similarly, loading a suitcase in or out of the trunk can be broken into steps, such that you lift the bag onto the bumper or edge of the trunk and then into the actual trunk.

Prolonged sitting, while either waiting in a terminal or in a mode of transportation (e.g. car, train, plane, etc.) is a reality of travelling that can lead to pain and stiffness throughout the body.  The seats often don't provide much support to the low back or neck so you may need to bring or create your own.  You could purchase a lumbar support cushion, use a bunched-up sweater, or roll up a blanket or towel to put in the small of your back.  With respect to your neck, using a travel pillow that fits around your neck will decrease your risk of discomfort while resting or sleeping in a seated position.  Hips and knees can also get quite stiff with extended time spent sitting, particularly in crammed airline seats where you cannot stretch out, and especially if you have pain or arthritis in those joints.  If possible, stand up regularly, every 30-60 minutes, to stretch out and walk around.

In general, moving as much as possible is recommended but even short durations of 10-15 seconds are better than nothing.  Even simple exercises performed while sitting can be quite helpful.  For example, you can raise your heels up and down while keeping your toes on the ground and then lift and lower your toes while keeping your heels down.  You can also tighten and relax the muscles in your legs and if space permits straighten and bend your knees.  The motion will limber you up and promote blood circulation to your tissues.  The improved blood flow also decreases your risk of developing a blood clot in your legs, known as a Deep Vein Thrombosis, which can occur due to prolonged sitting or inactivity and is a significant health concern.

Wearing loose fitting clothing to allow easy movement and staying well hydrated are other suggestions to minimize muscle aches and maximize comfort when travelling.  This article is for general information purposes only and is not to be taken as professional medical advice.