01.12.2018
Dr John Conflitti
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What is a food allergy? A food allergy is an immune system response. It is caused when the body mistakes an ingredient in food — usually a protein — as harmful and creates a defense system (antibodies) to fight it. An allergic reaction occurs when the antibodies are battling an "invading" food protein. The most common food allergies are shellfish or fish, nuts (peanuts, etc), and milk/dairy products. What is food intolerance? Food intolerance is a digestive system response rather than an immune system response. It occurs when something in food irritates a person’s digestive system or when a person is unable to properly digest, or break down, the food. Intolerance to lactose, which is found in milk and other dairy products, is the most common food intolerance. What are the symptoms of a food allergy? Symptoms of a food allergy can range from mild to severe, and the amount of food necessary to trigger a reaction varies from person to person. Symptoms of a food allergy may include: ·         Rash or hives ·         Nausea ·         Cramping stomach pain ·         Diarrhea ·         Itchy skin ·         Shortness of breath ·         Chest pain ·         Swelling of the airways to the lungs Anaphylaxis is a very serious and potentially fatal allergic reaction that involves a sudden drop in blood pressure, loss of consciousness and body system failure. What are the symptoms of food intolerance? Symptoms of food intolerance include: ·         Nausea ·         Stomach pain ·         Gas, cramps or bloating ·         Vomiting ·         Heartburn ·         Diarrhea ·         Headaches ·         Irritability or nervousness When experienced the episode is a mild inconvenience, the affected individual will associate it with a unrelated event.  How common are food allergies and intolerance's? Food allergies affect about 1 percent of adults and 7 percent of children, although some children outgrow their allergies. Food intolerance's are much more common. In fact, nearly everyone at one time has had an unpleasant reaction to something they ate. Some people have specific food intolerance's. Lactose intolerance, the most common specific food intolerance, affects about 10 percent of Americans. What causes food allergies and intolerance's? Food allergies arise from sensitivity to chemical compounds (proteins) in food, even compounds that are found naturally in food. Food allergies are more common in people whose family members have allergies, suggesting a genetic — or hereditary — factor may be involved with the development of food allergies. Food allergies develop after you are exposed to a food protein that your body thinks is harmful. The first time you eat the food containing the protein, your immune system responds by creating specific disease-fighting antibodies (called immunoglobulin E or IgE). When you eat the food again, it triggers the release of IgE antibodies and other chemicals, including histamine, in an effort to expel the protein "invader" from your body. Histamine is a powerful chemical that can affect the respiratory system, gastrointestinal tract, skin or cardiovascular system. The allergy symptoms you have depend on where in the body the histamine is released. If it is released in the ears, nose and throat, you may have an itchy nose and mouth, or trouble breathing or swallowing. If histamine is released in the skin, you may develop hives or a rash. If histamine is released in the gastrointestinal tract, you likely will develop stomach pains, cramps or diarrhea. Many people experience a combination of symptoms as the food is eaten and digested. There are many factors that may contribute to food intolerance. In some cases — as with lactose intolerance — the person lacks the chemicals, called enzymes, necessary to properly digest certain proteins found in food. Also common are intolerances to some chemical ingredients added to food to provide color, enhance taste and protect against the growth of bacteria. These ingredients include various dyes and monosodium glutamate (MSG), a flavor enhancer. Substances called sulfites, which may occur naturally — as in red wines — or may be added to prevent the growth of mold, also are a source of intolerance for some people. The Food and Drug Administration has banned the use of spray-on sulfates to preserve fruits and vegetables, but sulfates are still found naturally in some foods. Salicylates are a group of plant chemicals found naturally in many fruits, vegetables, nuts, coffee, juices, beer and wine. Aspirin also is a compound of the salicylate family. Foods containing salicylates may trigger symptoms in people who are sensitive to aspirin. Of course, any food consumed in excessive quantities can cause digestive symptoms. How can you tell the difference between an allergy and intolerance to food? Food allergies can be triggered by a small amount of the food and occur every time the food is consumed. People with food allergies are generally advised to avoid the offending foods completely. On the other hand, food intolerance's often are dose related; people with food intolerance may not have symptoms unless they eat a large portion of the food or eat the food frequently. For example, a person with lactose intolerance may be able to drink milk in coffee or a single glass of milk, but becomes sick if he or she drinks several glasses of milk. Food allergies and intolerances also are different from food poisoning, which generally results from spoiled or tainted food and affects more than one person eating the food. How are food intolerance's diagnosed? A simple blood test can measure your immune system's response to particular foods by checking the amount of allergy-type antibodies in your bloodstream. For this test, a blood sample taken in and sent to a medical laboratory, where different foods can be tested. Once completed the individual would receive a report (based on complexity of the test). How are food intolerance's treated? Treatment is based on avoiding or reducing your intake of problematic foods. Can food intolerance's be prevented? Taking a few simple steps can help you prevent the symptoms associated with food intolerance. ·         Learn which foods in which amounts cause you to have symptoms, and limit your intake to amounts you can handle. ·         When you dine out, ask your server about how your meal will be prepared. Some meals may contain foods you cannot tolerate, and that may not be evident from the description on the menu. ·         Learn to read food labels and check the ingredients for problem foods. Don’t forget to check condiments and seasonings. They may contain MSG or another additive that can lead to symptoms. Contact our office for more information – 248.287.8700
01.11.2018
Dr John Conflitti
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“My kids are way too young for spinal problems…” During my years in practice, people have often asked why we check so many kids in the office. Most people are under the impression that children are way too young to have a structural problem in the spine. For the most part, you would be absolutely correct. About 60% of the kids we check in the office have no structural problems at all, and thank goodness for that. However, statistics from the Center for Disease Control show some alarming numbers. Each year, over 1 million children between the ages of 0-5 will be hospitalized due to a fall. Another 700,000 will be hospitalized from an accidental trauma. That’s not even including the number of kids who will suffer a trauma to the spine, but are never taken to the ER! Now think about this, most people will never even know or think about taking their kids to a chiropractor following a fall or trauma. The great news is that kids are extraordinarily resilient to injury. They bounce back up, and their ability to heal is just much better than that of an average adult. However, structural problems in the spine don’t necessarily cause neck pain and back pain, especially in children. What they can do is create other secondary conditions. Whenever there is pressure in the nerves at the base of the brain from a structural misalignment at the top of the neck, many kids can show conditions like:  Asthma Allergies Immune problems Ear infections ADHD Torticollis These are just some of the common conditions that parents bring their kids to chiropractors for. While it’s not a chiropractor’s job to treat these symptoms, they are signs that the nerve supply from a child’s spine is compromised. On many kids, this can be tied to a difficult or traumatic birth process. The best part of all is how much kids love getting gentle adjustments. It’s often times a parent’s worst nightmare to take their kids to a doctor. The screaming and tantrums on display at a pediatrician or a dentist can unnerve even the strongest parent. A child and infant adjustment is very different than adults, and you’ll usually see kids jumping on to my tables excited to be checked! But the most important reason that kids should be checked early is just because it makes sense. When most of us adults develop some bad secondary conditions, x-rays usually show that a problem has been growing in the spine for 15+ years. Why let kids develop the same problems that us adults have had. Just like we take our kids for a dental check-up to ensure that they are free of cavities, our kids deserve a structural check-up to prevent the damage of a developing spine.
01.10.2018
Dr John Conflitti
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That’s a fair question to ask as a patient. In some branches of health care, such as dentistry or orthopedics, x-rays are routine and are performed without any doubts or questions. Patients understand that without x-rays, the dentist or orthopedic surgeon would be flying blind, and the quality and safety of the procedure would be compromised. However, in other branches of health care such as chiropractic, the use of x-rays is debatable. In fact, the majority of chiropractors do not take x-rays as a standard practice. So when a patient enters Premier Chiropractic and discovers that x-rays are a standard practice for all cases, naturally they have a few questions. For most patients, the questions arise from the fear of receiving too much radiation and increasing their risk of cancer. Although that fear is valid – excessive exposure to ionizing radiation (like x-rays) can increase the risk of cancer – once our patients understand the clinical need for x-rays, and the actual dosage they receive, their fears are quickly put to rest. Let’s quickly address the fear of increased cancer risk first. X-rays are form of radiant energy, like light or radio waves, but x-rays have the ability to penetrate body. X-rays occur in nature (called “background” radiation) and most commonly come from cosmic radiation (space) and radioactive materials (most commonly from radon gas). Therefore we are always exposed to them at some level. The dosage is most commonly measured in millisieverts (mSv). The damage caused by x-rays is like a wound in the sense that, with time, the body can fully heal and recover. So a large dose of radiation from x-rays can be tolerated as long as it’s not too frequent. And a small dose of x-rays can be tolerated on a more frequent basis. To put things in perspective, one chest x-ray exposes a person to 0.1 mSv, which is equivalent to the amount of radiation exposure they would experience from their natural surroundings in 10 days. The x-rays we take at Premier Chiropractic amount to roughly 0.5 mSv, which is equivalent to the amount of radiation exposure you would get from your natural surroundings in about 2 months., Lastly, let’s address why we need to take take x-rays. The bones in your spine are highly variable from one person to the next. Just like no two people look exactly alike (except maybe identical twins), no two spines look exactly alike. Furthermore, the uniqueness of the individual, how they are shaped, how they move, makes it nearly impossible analyze accurately with palpation (touch) alone. In summary, just as an orthopedic surgeon or dentist needs x-rays in order to perform his or her job and provide the highest quality of care to the patient, so do structural chiropractors at Premier Chiropractic need to take x-rays. When your health is on the line, you don’t want us to be guessing do you? 
You try to be an educated consumer when you’re choosing a car, house, or TV, but what about when you’re choosing something else that is also very important… such as a chiropractor? There are some key questions to ask yourself before choosing a chiropractor to care for your spine and nervous system. After all, your nerve system is a very important part of your body that controls all of your functions; picking a care provider is not something to jump into without careful consideration. So, here are some questions to ask yourself when choosing a Doctor of Chiropractic: 1) Why Am I Looking For A Chiropractor? This is the first question that you want to ask yourself to help you choose the type of chiropractor you go to. If you have a surface-level ache, pain, or strain, and you simply want a quick fix so you can get back on the road again, you’ll want to look for a chiropractor who will take care of you for the immediate issue. When you see a chiropractor for this type of objective, he/she generally will not do a complete assessment of your spine or nervous system, but will rather work on relieving acute pain/muscle spasms and improving range of motion. However, just like any other area of your health, there’s a difference between a quick fix and sustainable change. If you are looking for sustainable results or improvement for your spine or nervous system, or to get to the root cause of a recurring health concern, you would want to find a chiropractor to perform a comprehensive assessment. 2) Do I Want Less Or More… Or Maybe Both? Very often people are motivated to go to a chiropractor because they want less of something that they don’t like: back pain, neck pain, arm pain, shoulder pain, knee pain, something that is disturbing how they are living. They just want to go back to the way they were before. If that’s you, make sure you have the right expectation when you go in to the chiropractor that you really just want to experience less of something that is disturbing you. Some people want more. In addition to eliminating something that they don’t like, they would like to have more of what they do want: more energy, more joy, better sleep, better mental state, more life enjoyment and improved quality of life. When you want more of something, you want to look for a chiropractor who is going to be able to help you improve your overall function, retrain and reorganize your nerve system and not just get you back to a prior minimal state. The state that led to you ending up where you are now. 3) Am I Looking For A Conventional Experience Or An Outstanding Experience? The majority of conventional chiropractic practitioners, physical therapists, and other healthcare providers related to the spine are focused on eliminating the condition the patient is presenting with on the surface. This is generally working on temporary range of motion improvement, bone re-alignment, or muscle spasm and pain relief. If you want to have an outstanding experience, then find a chiropractor who can identify and focus on the underlying Structural dysfunctions that may be at the root cause of the structural and behavioral shifts which are affecting your health and life experience. Go for outstanding in your chiropractic care and your health. If you would like to have your nerve system checked for its Structural integrity, a consultation to discuss your concerns may be a great place to start. Find out where to go from here by contacting our office at248-287-8700
01.08.2018
Dr John Conflitti
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One of the most common problems I hear about with patients with chronic pain is that rainy weather seems to make things worse. Is there a real biological reason for this or is this just an old wives tale that has been passed on through time? Don’t Stop Believing: The Uncontrollable Factor People have been talking about how they can sense weather patterns in their joints for thousands of years. You’ve probably heard of this phenomenon from your grandmother or another relative whose arthritis pain flared up when it rains. They might say that they feel the rain in their bones. Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine, was the first to note changes in a person’s illness status due to weather way back in 400 BC. Yet, as long as this idea has been around, studies about this phenomenon have been inconclusive. Some studies show that pain patients can feel a difference, while others say that the weather makes no difference. It’s hard to study this effect because of the impact that belief systems have on pain. When human beings have a strong enough belief in something, it can drastically affect their perception of the world. This is seen in pain science all the time, and it makes studying pain very challenging and difficult. Short of locking people in a box and hiding them from weather reports, it’s hard to know how this affects humans with any degree of certainty. Animal Studies Leaving Clues While belief systems can impact humans, some of our furry friends have helped leave some clues. Scientists believe that the pressure in the air (barometric pressure) is what allows people to feel pain when the weather changes. When storms come, the pressure in the atmosphere begins to drop. The theory is that as air pressure drops, it decreases the amount of pressure on your joints leading to the joints and soft tissues to expand and irritate nerve endings causing pain. In Michigan, we get experience weather changes quickly so pain patients have the unfortunate opportunity to experience this regularly. Scientists tested this idea on guinea pigs and rats. They placed animals bred with with a pain predisposition into two environments. One group had normal air pressure while the other group had the air pressure lowered artificially. They found that the low pressure animals showed increased pain behavior compared to the controls. This is important because you can’t sway or convince an animal that lower pressure is going to make them hurt more. It’s a much closer relationship to cause and effect than can be currently studied in human beings.  So What? Is This Treatable? So we know that feeling weather changes when you have pain syndromes is at least plausible based on animal models, but why does it happen and is it treatable? The truth is, we still don’t really know what mechanisms cause this type of pain so we have no idea if it’s treatable or preventable. Based on my experience, I believe that when pain tends to be triggered or aggravated by weather, there’s likely a pain processing problem in the body. Tissue Damage vs Pain Perception The most common conditions associated with weather-related pain are osteoarthritis (wear and tear arthritis, not joints on fire arthritis), headaches, and fibromyalgia. The important thing to note about these 3 conditions is that the pain related to these conditions is NOT dependent on tissue damage. What does that mean? It means that the level of pain associated with these conditions is not tied to the amount of damage that’s in the body. When you have a sprained ankle, broken bone, torn muscle, or a cut, there is damage done to the tissues that sets off a series of chemical signals meant to trigger a pain response. It’s a very linear relationship. With joint degeneration, you might feel pain, you might not. With headaches and fibromyalgia, there’s not necessarily any physical damage that’s related to the the pain being felt. It’s not to say that the pain isn’t real, it just means that there’s no obvious source of damage that’s causing the pain. The problem is related to the way your brain processes pain. Your brain has a built in volume control for pain perception. It can turn these signals up in certain situations, and it can turn it down in others. Chronic pain patients have their volume dial on high all the time. It’s not just a matter of belief. Although that’s an important piece of the puzzle, there are other factors like: Brain oxygenation Hormones in the blood Global inflammation Joint movement, especially in the spine That’s why pain isn’t just a physical phenomenon. I’m sure you’ve been in a situation where you you suffered an injury, but you didn’t feel it until much later. This happens frequently after the shock of car accident, the thril of playing in a championship game, or the necessity of escaping a dangerous situation. You get stunned, your heart races, adrenaline is surging through the veins, and you don’t notice any pain until hours later when those hormones leave the blood stream. Pain Perception is Malleable This brings some good news and bad news. Bad News: It means that for lots of cases, there might not be a treatable lesion that is generating some of the chronic pain problems you’re feeling. Good News: This also means that your pain levels are malleable and there are different things you can do to turn down the volume of the pain you experience. Things like meditation, exercise, and cognitive therapy can all allow us to change our experience with pain, and get a little bit more control over how we feel. It gives us control over the volume dial. This is actually one of the primary mechanisms that Structural Corrections can help people with headaches, fibromyalgia, and arthritis related pain syndromes. We are not fixing or repairing damaged tissue, we are creating an environment for healthy neurological function. When the structure of the spine are disrupted, it decreases 2 things: Blood supply in and out of the brain Mechanical input into the brain Both of these factors cause the brain to be more sensitive to pain signals. When the spine moves better and normal blood supply is restored, you can see not only an improvement to someone’s weather related pain, but also an improved resiliency and control over chronic pain syndromes.
Every year, hundreds of THOUSANDS of people will under go some form of spinal surgery. These surgeries range from spinal fusions, discectomies, disc replacements, and more. I would like to discuss a popular misconception. Many people think that if they’ve had surgery on their spine, then there’s no way that they can see a chiropractor. Now, based on what many people perceive of chiropractic, I can’t say that I blame them at all. If you’ve had rods, plates, and screws placed into your spine, then the thought of someone wrenching or twisting the spine, causing damage in the surgical attachments…it sounds downright terrifying. Not All Chiropractic Techniques Are the Same Most people associate chiropractic with a move you’d see out of a martial arts movie. The truth is, there are many ways to bring about a correction of the spine, and some are very gentle and non-invasive. Some are so safe that they can be used on elderly folks with osteoporosis, new born babies, people with herniated discs, and even people who have had surgery. In our office, we use only the most precise and gentle chiropractic approaches so that we can take care of people of any population. Needless to say, safety isn’t the main issue when you’re armed with the correct chiropractic tools. The big question that remains is:Can chiropractic help me even if surgery didn’t? I was taking care of a patient who had had surgery on her neck for neck pain and arm pain. Since the surgery, her pain persisted. She was tired of trying to fix the problem and had basically given up on herself. Very unlikely that she would ever walk into my office of her own. She was referred to the office to give Structural Correction care a try. After a consultation and an explanation of my adjusting techniques, she felt safe enough to give it a go. In a few short weeks, many of the symptoms she had before the surgery started to go away. Now here is a VERY VERY VERY important point: The adjustments did NOT NOT NOT make her pain go away Now this might sound crazy, but it’s not the adjustment that did the healing. Adjustments in of themselves have NO capacity to heal someone. The problem was that her neck had shifted so far out of place, that the nerves in her neck were being compressed and irritated. When you add the surgery on top of it, it had locked the neck in a shifted position even further. The adjustments simply help to restore the NORMAL alignment of the head and neck. When the spine goes back to normal, then the nerves can work again. It’s that simple. This is not an unusual situation. In fact, because of the focus on structural correction and the gentle adjustment techniques, I have been referred dozens of patients after surgery in the past, and almost all of them respond great to our care. When you, or someone you know has had surgery, there are very real limitations to how much the structure of the spine can be corrected. As much as I love and enjoy helping patients post-surgery, the best thing anyone can do is to have their structure corrected BEFORE surgery becomes part of the picture. That way you can achieve a maximum correction, and have less dependency on chiropractic to stay well.
01.06.2018
Dr John Conflitti
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In my experience, I’ve found that whiplash is a commonly misunderstood diagnosis among the patient population. Many people self-diagnose the pain in the neck following a bad roller coaster ride or car accident as a whiplash injury. While they may or may not be correct, the truth is that whiplash is a type of injury with serious implications, and is frequently mismanaged by unscrupulous folks with a big stake in the business of personal injury. Whiplash is a common name for a group of neck disorders known as cervical acceleration-deceleration injury or cervical sprain/strain injury. It occurs when the head and neck are placed in motion and suddenly forced to a stop causing a hyperflexion or hyperextension motion.    This irregular movement of the neck causes the ligaments of the spine to sprain and the muscles to splint the unstable structure. This type of injury is also known to cause the discs of the spine to bulge and herniate, thus complicating matters even further. It’s easy to see how whiplash can be a real pain in the neck (pun intended), but most people treat it like a sprained ankle and hope that the pain goes away in a few weeks. However, there can be long term consequences; even for people who don’t have pain symptoms immediately. Research has shown that whiplash associated disorders are related to inflammatory and endocrine problems like those seen in chronic fatigue syndrome or fibromyalgia1. Whiplash is also associated with chronic pain by making your brain more sensitive to pain signals, which explains why so many people can suffer without any evidence of physical damage2. Additionally, people who report whiplash injuries after a rear-end accident are likely to show complaints of headaches, TMJ, back pain, fatigue, and sleep problems even 7 years later3! Whiplash has even been associated with chronic inflammation by making the body’s own immune system overly responsive to normal stimuli4,5. Though the focus of my practice has never been on auto-accidents cases, the truth is that most drivers will be involved in a collision no matter how good a driver they may be. Most will probably not experience pain immediately after a collision, especially if you’re in your teens or early 20’s. However, the impact of a vehicle traveling at speeds as low as 15 mph can show visible signs of structural damage to the neck. These include s-shaped curves in the neck, anterior ligament instability, atlas displacement, and Anterior Head Syndrome. A recent study has found that this type of trauma to the spine can cause parts of the brain and brain stem to slip further into the neck creating a condition called Chiari Malformation6. While they may not be painful in their early stages, these structural changes can pre-dispose the spine to early degeneration and arthritis if left uncorrected over the course of several years.  Normal Neck X-Ray S-shape X-ray Characteristic of Whiplash As a chiropractor focused on Structural Correction, I see patients everyday with Secondary Conditions like headaches and TMJ related to accidents that took place many years earlier. While some of these patients suffered painful injuries and received treatment following an accident, most people will walk in and say they didn’t have any symptoms until years later. When someone asks why their pain seemed to come out of nowhere, I can usually look at their x-ray and see that the structure of the neck fits the familiar S-shape of a previous rear end collision. Here are your take home messages: First, problems can grow in the body in the absence of symptoms. Much like cancer and heart disease don’t happen overnight, people with chronic pain usually under go slow physiologic changes in their brain and hormonal systems for years before they have a condition that won’t go away. Second, if you have a physical/structural problem, then you must go beyond treating the pain symptoms to help get full resolution of the problem. Whiplash injuries cause distinct structural problems in the spine. While pain relief is important, making the pain go away while leaving the structure in bad shape is like taking the battery out of a smoke detector when a fire is burning in the house. Whiplash associated disorders can be a complicated problem that requires a comprehensive solution. When selecting a team of doctors, make sure that you have someone in your corner that can look at you from a functional standpoint rather than sheer pathology, that addresses the structure of your spine in 3-dimensions, and understands the nature of traumatic injuries. References:   1. Banic B, Peterson-Felix S, Anderson OK et al. Evidence for spinal cord hypersensitivity in chronic pain after whiplash injury and in fibromyalgia. Pain. January 2004. 7-15.  2. Berglund A, Afredsson L, Jensen I, Cassidy JD, Nygren Ake. The association between exposure to a rear-end collision and future health complaints. J of Clinical Epidemiology. Aug 2001 (54): 851-856.  3. Kivioja J, Rinaldi L, Ozenci V et al. Chemokines and their receptors in whiplash injury: elevated RANTES and CCR-5. J Clin Immunol. Jul 2001; 21(4): 272-7  4. Kivioja J, Ozenci V, Rinaldi L. Systemic response  5. Gaab J, Baumann S, Budnoik A et al. Reduced reactivity and enhanced negative feedback sensitivity of the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis in chronic whiplash associated disorder. Pain. December 2005. 119(1). 219-224.  6. Freeman MD, Rosa S, Harshfield D et al. A case-control study of cerebellar tonsillar ectopia (Chiari) and head/neck trauma (whiplash). Brain Inj. 2010; 24(7-8): 988-94.    If you have experienced this kind of injury, call our office today and book your consultation. 248-287-8700
01.05.2018
Dr John Conflitti
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If you have ever been to a doctor’s office and had an x-ray performed, you have likely heard about something called spinal degeneration. Spinal degeneration is a condition in which the discs and joints of the spine begin to narrow and often form bone spurs. If you’ve ever been to a chiropractor’s office and seen your x-rays, you’ve probably seen a chart that looks like this: You compared yourself to one of these images, and identified yourself within one of the various phases of spinal degeneration. Maybe you felt confused. Maybe you felt alarmed, perhaps even a little scared. Either way, you knew that your spine probably didn’t look like the “normal” and that you had work to do. How Bad is it Really? No one likes to be told that their spine is developing arthritic degeneration. It’s a sign that the days of our youth are fading, and a reminder that our bodies are not going to last forever. Everyone will develop some level of spinal degeneration as we get older. Regardless of whether someone has a lifetime of chiropractic, supplements, positive mental attitude, etc, we cannot stop discs from breaking down or bone spurs from forming. Once people get into their 40’s and 50’s, we expect to see some degree of degeneration in the spine to occur. Are there those in their 70’s without it? Sure. But those are OUTLIERS, and we don’t make predictions based on a handful of outliers. With that being said, here are some quick facts to know about spinal degeneration. 1. Degeneration ≠ Pain – One of the things that frustrates me is when someone tells a patient that they are going to live with chronic pain because they have spinal degeneration. While many people with degeneration do have spinal pain, an OVERWHELMING MAJORITY of people with degeneration have no pain what so ever. While a lot of people with pain have some level of spinal degeneration, that doesn’t mean that spinal degeneration is the CAUSE of their pain. I’ve seen many patients with massive spinal degeneration, and many of them will get better despite the fact that their degeneration has NOT CHANGED. We have to resist being trapped within a diagnosis, especially if that diagnosis has a high degree of inaccuracy.  2. Your Spine Isn’t Going to Fuse (Probably) – some patients have concerns that a doctor told them that their spine is fusing. This is always something that raises my eyebrows because there are less than a handful of situations where you would expect the segments of the spine to fuse together. Vertebra don’t fuse as they degenerate. Discs will get closer together to where there’s minimal space, but regular degeneration WILL NOT turn into a fused vertebra. They are completely different things.    We have NO idea what the time table is on degeneration. Except in cases of certain disease processes (i.e. – ankylosing spondylitis), this is nothing but fear mongering. Degeneration, not Death Sentence Degeneration can be a problem for some patients. Loss of hydration in the disc, and lack of movement in the spine can create problems for the brain and nervous system. Time and again, I’ve seen patients who have been told that their problem is related to arthritic knees, hips, and spines respond really nicely to Structural Correction. Even without seeing any change to the degenerated joint. If the arthritis were the sole problem, then no one with spinal degeneration would ever get better. Degeneration is a sign of a breakdown process, but it’s not usually the cause. We need to be freed from these self-defeating labels that hold us back from living the active and healthy lifestyle we all deserve. If you’ve been told that your pain or problem is because of arthritis or degeneration, it may be time to get another opinion. Call our office today and book your appointment to get back on the right track. 248-287-8700
01.04.2018
Dr John Conflitti
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Outline: ·         When treating TMJ pain seems hopeless ·         Surgery may not be your best solution ·         TMJ pain may not be a jaw problem Patients with TMJ often see a large drop in the quality of their life: ·         “I feel like a baby because I can’t eat solid foods anymore” ·         “There are times where I just have to stop talking because all I can think about is the pain” ·         “That popping sound creeps me out and drives me nuts” A lot of people will experience jaw pain for a day or two if they bite into a hard/chewy piece of food, but imagine if your life was plagued with jaw pain every single day. We underestimate the importance of our jaw, but it’s the piece of anatomy that allows you to enjoy some of the finest pleasures in life. Everything from kissing, to chewing, to a casual conversation with friends becomes a burden when your jaw fails to function. Desperate Times and Desperate Measures Severe cases of TMD (Temporomandibular Disorders) can make people reach their breaking point quickly. Many of the patients that come to our office are usually looking at surgery as their next and final option because they don’t know what to do. Even worse is when a patient spends tens of thousands of dollars for surgery but the pain doesn’t go away. Procedures that help to remove or replace a degenerated disc in the joint are sometimes performed to eliminate this pain sensitive piece of anatomy. The problem is that a degenerated disc can show up on imaging, but it isn’t necessarily the cause of the pain. Unfortunately this happens more often than you might think, and it’s something that can make a patient with TMD hopeless if even surgery couldn’t get the job done. This isn’t to say that surgery is not the answer, or that surgery can’t help, but we have to remember that TMD is a problem that science has yet to reveal all of the answers, and dental surgery is still working on figuring out what works and when it’s appropriate. TMJ Pain May Not Be A Jaw Problem There are many different causes for TMJ pain. They can range from abnormal jaw movement, tight jaw muscles, and degenerated discs. These can all be problem areas for a TMJ patient, but they all have something in common. In fact, their commonality goes back to some of the same neurological mechanisms that contribute to neck pain and headaches. That’s why people with TMJ don’t just have jaw pain; they often have neck pain and headaches at the same time. It’s because almost all pain signals from the head and neck go through a small piece of spinal cord called the trigemino-cervical nucleus. Trigemino-cervical…..what???? Sometimes Pain is a Computer Problem So if you don’t have a medical background, some of that terminology might jump over your head. Instead of thinking anatomy, let’s talk about it like a computer.   Your brain and spinal cord are like a computer chip. The part of your computer chip that feels head and neck pain is the trigemino-cevical nucleus. Just like all computer chips, the quality of information that comes out is dependent on the quality of information that comes in. If you put junk information in, you get junk information out. The computer chip of your body relies heavily on information from the muscles and joints. These signals are like computer programs. Whenever these joints move poorly from bad positioning, then it’s like a bad program that gives faulty information about what’s happening inside the body. This can occur from malpositioning of the jaw, faulty jaw movement, neck positioning errors, and faulty neck movement. It’s like a computer virus going into your system and scrambling important signals into the brain. This tells the body to produce a junk signals including: Tight and tense jaw muscles Inappropriate inflammation Central pain sensitivity Can This Program Get Shut Off? Fortunately your body’s program for pain can be re-written by changing the way these joints move. A specialist like a neuromuscular dentist can use non-invasive methods to change the way your jaw moves and alter your bite with an orthotic. Chiropractors that can correct the craniocervical region can create a dramatic impact on the pain programming in the brain. That’s why both of these doctors frequently see similar patients, and will actually co-manage them between each other. Neck pain patients may get better relief from a dentist changing their bite, while some TMJ patients will get better relief from correcting their neck. While we can’t say for certain which takes priority, but many patients can benefit from an interdisciplinary approach to care. Take the time to get a Complimentary Consultation to find out what method fits with you. You may even find that getting the entire jaw/neck complex fixed may be the key to solving your TMD. Call our office today for your free consultation – Premier Chiropractic 248-287-8700
01.03.2018
Dr John Conflitti
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Pain after a car accident can be very strange and confusing. Take a look at these examples and tell me if this reminds you of a situation that you or someone you know. Person A: Healthy and fit 37-year-old man in a car and gets hit at 45 mph+. The impact drives his car into the car in front causing extensive damage. Person B: Healthy and fit 29-year old woman. Sitting in line in a parking lot when another car runs into the back of her at 10 mph or less. Minimal damage to the car and wore a seat belt. Which one do you think had a worse whiplash injury and had pain immediately and which do you think just had soreness that they wanted to get checked out? Both had substantial biomechanical changes on their x-ray and MRI, but only one had a significant amount of pain immediately after the incident. If you guessed that Person B with the parking lot bumper tap had the most pain, then you win! Congratulations! The Deceptive Nature of Pain Pain is one of medicine’s greatest tricksters. To this day, researchers and scientists don’t have a strong grasp on the nature pain disorders. Why is it tricky? Because the pain someone feels isn’t necessarily related to the amount of damage in the body. Patients with fibromyalgia have crippling pain despite not having any visible damage to their bodies. Pain is the most important factor to a patient, but it can be the most deceptive factor to a clinician. When it comes to taking care of people after an accident, we have to measure a patient’s function regardless of their pain status. What Happens to the Neck After an Accident? Insurance companies will only consider it an accident-related whiplash injury if you see a doctor within 14 days of the accident. So if you have no pain after the accident or the pain wasn’t bad enough to drive you to a physician until day 15, then you didn’t have a whiplash (I know how silly it sounds). But going back to the previous example, we know that both Patients A and B had biomechanical flaws as a result from trauma to the spine. Despite the fact that there were 2 very different accidents and 2 different pain statuses, there are similarities in what can happen to the neck even after the smallest collisions. Take a look at the video below which simulates an accident less than 10 mph.   What Happens to the Neck in an Accident? After watching the video, you can get the impression that a collision at just 5-7 mph causes rapid movement of the head and neck. Despite the fact that your body is encased by a 2 ton metal box, it’s easy to see that even though the vehicle stops moving, there is still a transfer of energy into the body. When you’re wearing your seat belt, it causes a rapid deceleration of your body, but your head will continue to move forward and backward very rapidly. In fact, a large enough force to the neck can actually produce a concussion even if there’s not direct contact to the head! These accidents would need somewhere around 90 G’s of force to the head. While that would cease to be a small accident, the smaller 10 mph accidents can produce 3-5 G’s of force which is enough to damage the tissues of the neck. The way your head accelerates and decelerates can put 3-6 G’s of force into the cervical spine. This force gets transferred into the ligaments, muscles, discs, and joints of the neck more than any other piece of anatomy. While the body can tolerate large amounts of force in brief periods, a large amount of force applied to a small region of anatomy as seen in a car accident can damage the tissues of the neck. Ligament Injury Ligaments are like the rubber bands of the spine. They can be stretched, but once they stretch too far, they can’t go back to normal again. As ligaments are damaged, scar tissue is used as a patch, but it’s not as functional as the stuff you were built with. Just like when you sprained your ankle as a kid and that ankle never worked the same, damage to ligaments of your neck can happen the same way. Fortunately, true sprains of the neck take a lot of force and don’t happen with most accidents. Muscle Strains When muscle works beyond its capacity, or gets stretched beyond its end range, it forms small tears within the muscle belly. That’s why there’s no consensus as to whether you’re better off knowing about a coming accident and bracing, or if you’re better off being surprised. Either way, damage to the muscle tissue can happen depending on the nature of the collision. Muscle strains can be painful, but they can and do heal with time. Strain to muscle tissue is one of the most common sources of pain from whiplash injuries and resolve well with chiropractic and exercise. Disc Damage Accidents are one of the most common ways that people under 30 can suffer herniated discs in the spine. When the force of an accident overcomes the resistance of the disc material, small tears in the disc can result in the inner fluid spilling into the spinal canal. Sometimes this results in a pinched nerve, but most of the time it does not. A disc problem doesn’t have to be a big problem. Many people have disc damage and have no idea because it’s not symptomatic. Structural Shifting The muscles, ligaments, discs, and nerves of the neck help dictate the Structural Positioning of the spine. The force of an accident can deform one or all of these tissues leading to abnormal positioning of the head and neck. This leads to abnormal neurological input to the brain and what manifests as poor posture (slouching, head tilt, antalgic lean). While poor posture is not the problem that needs to be treated, it’s an objective sign of a nervous system is operating at less than its full capacity. Remember That It’s Not About Pain Remember at the beginning of the article we talked about how pain can be deceptive. The reason I wanted to point that out is because you can experience damage to all of the above structures and not feel an immediate onset of pain. Pain is just tricky like that. Whether you feel immediate pain or not, your neck should always be evaluated even after minor accidents because it gives the earliest and best opportunity to correct a silent problem.
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