Archive for August 2014

Text Neck and More: How Our Electronic Devices Are Changing Our Posture

August 29, 2014

The last 10 years have seen exceptional innovation in personal electronics. Our smartphones, laptops, and tablets have undoubtedly made it easier to create, consume and share all kinds of content as well as to shop online anywhere and anytime. But they do also have their drawbacks—including negative health consequences. This applies in particular to our posture. The overuse of personal electronic devices is taking a toll on our necks and backs, and this damage could lead to even more serious health issues down the road.

Some medical professionals are calling it the “iPosture Syndrome”. It’s a head-forward posture that many people (teenagers and younger kids included) are developing from hunching over electronic devices for long hours every day. As physiotherapist Carolyn Cassano explains, “If the head shifts in front of the shoulders, as is happening with this posture, the weight of the head increases, and the muscles of the upper back and neck need to work much harder to support it, leading to pain and muscle strain.”


According to CNN, “The average human head weighs 10 pounds in a neutral position—when your ears are over your shoulders. For every inch you tilt your head forward, the pressure on your spine doubles. So if you’re looking at a smartphone in your lap, your neck is holding up what feels like 20 or 30 pounds.” All that additional pressure puts a strain on your spine and can pull it out of alignment.

Also known as “text neck,” this head-forward posture is a fairly new development among younger adults, teenagers and children (some just beginning kindergarten) who are developing chronic neck and back pain as well as early signs of spine curvature. Coined by Dr. Dean Fishman, a chiropractor and founder of the Text Neck Institute in Florida, the phrase “text neck” is defined as an overuse syndrome involving the head, neck and shoulders, usually resulting from excessive strain on the spine from looking forward and downward at a portable electronic device over extended periods of time.

The text neck disorder is unfortunately progressive, meaning that it gets worse over time without treatment. “It can lead to degenerative disk disease which is irreversible, bone spurs start to grow, people get pinched nerves or herniated disks and that can lead to really intense pain,” says chiropractor Dr. Anthony Bang of the Cleveland Clinic.


The doctor explains that the neck should have a banana-like curve. However, people who consistently look down at handheld devices for hours daily are losing that normal curve, thereby developing straight necks. While severe neck problems can result from losing that curve, there are ways to avoid this fate.
“First of all, put it away, it can wait five minutes. Give your neck a break, but if you need to use it, take it and bring it up to eye level so that your head still stays on top of your shoulders instead of stooping down looking at your lap,” said Bang.

CNN also recommends that you “Be aware of your body. Keep your feet flat on the floor, roll your shoulders back and keep your ears directly over them so your head isn’t tilted forward. Use docking stations and wrist guards to support the weight of a mobile device. Buy a headset.”

Now there are even apps to help you with your texting posture. For example, the Text Neck Institute has developed an app that helps the user avoid hunching over. When your phone is held at a healthy viewing angle, a green light shines in the top left corner. When you’re slouching over and at risk for text neck, a red light appears.

Contact Dr. Nicholas Carlisle – Atlanta Chiropractor at (404) 316-1190 (Buckhead) or (404) 781-2800 (Southwest Atlanta) for your appointment.

What Is a Hyperextension Injury?

August 18, 2014

Joints in the human body normally have a fixed range of motion that involves both flexion (for example, folding your arm to your shoulder to create a zero-degree angle at the elbow) and extension (extending your arm out straight to create a 180-degree angle at the elbow). The same type of range of motion exists for the knee, and wider ranges of motion exist for ball-and-socket joints such as the hip and the shoulder, which can pivot in more directions than just forward and backward.

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A hyperextension injury occurs when a joint is moved past its normal angle of extension. For example, this may happen to the elbow during sports, often when “punching air” or practicing one’s swing in tennis. The injury known as “tennis elbow” is, in fact, a form of hyperextension injury. The same thing can happen to the knee if a kicking motion extends the lower leg too far, past the 180-degree angle of its normal range of motion.
When hyperextension occurs, damage may occur to the soft tissues surrounding the joint, including the muscles, ligaments, and cervical discs. For example, the neck can be hyperextended in a whiplash injury. The result can include pain, swelling, and muscle spasms as well as a reduced or limited range of motion in the affected joint and loss of strength.

The severity of these symptoms varies widely depending on the joint affected and the strength of the force that caused the hyperextension. In many cases—especially with minor sports injuries—the hyperextension injury is initially treated by icing the area, followed by rest and immobilization. Healing occurs normally within a few weeks. However, in about 20% of cases, the weakness, loss of flexibility, and pain of more severe hyperextension injuries can last for months and can become incapacitating. Whiplash injuries in particular can often lead to chronic neck pain, headaches, fatigue, shoulder and upper back pain, cognitive changes, and lower back pain.

In such cases, chiropractic treatment has been proven effective not only in reducing the pain of the injury, but in facilitating healing and restoring the full range of motion to the injured joint. Spinal or joint manipulation can restore the normal positioning of affected joints or vertebrae, especially when combined with massage therapy, electro-stimulation, trigger-point therapy, rehabilitative exercise, and other soft tissue rehabilitation therapies. Medications can also be used to control pain and reduce inflammation. However, no medication can restore normal joint movement and stimulate healthy soft tissue repair.

Knee Hyper-extended

So if you have sustained a hyperextension injury and the effects of it have not gone away in a couple of weeks, consider contacting your chiropractor. As experts in treating musculoskeletal injuries, chiropractic physicians are specially trained to diagnose the injury and prescribe therapies that can both reduce the pain you’re experiencing and restore the affected joint to its normal flexibility and range of motion.

Contact Dr. Nicholas Carlisle – Atlanta Chiropractor at (404) 316-1190 (Buckhead) or (404) 781-2800 (Southwest Atlanta) for your appointment.

Understanding the Link Between Auto Accidents and Spinal Disc Injuries

August 15, 2014

Automobiles are wonderful things. They give us a degree of freedom that was undreamed of even a few generations ago. They allow us to travel from place to place in a short amount of time and in relative comfort. Unfortunately, they also occasionally run into solid objects or into each other.

When this happens, “relative comfort” flies out the window, as does anything not secured by a seat belt. The only thing that matters during the fraction of a second that it takes for an auto accident to happen are the laws of physics—in particular, the law that says, “Objects in motion tend to remain in motion.” If you’re traveling down the highway at 60 miles per hour and your car suddenly stops as the result of running into something, your body is going to try to remain traveling at 60 miles per hour. And it’s going to do that until either it runs into something or is restrained by a seat belt or an inflatable airbag. No matter how strong they make automobiles and no matter how well-designed the safety equipment inside is, the physical forces encountered during an auto accident are going to be Traumatic, with a capital T.


Let’s look at one example. What happens to your head and neck when your body attempts to continue moving forwards at 60 miles per hour and is restrained by your seat belt? Well, they attempt to continue moving, and the result is a snapping motion that can cause fractures to your cervical (neck) vertebrae. Even if fractures don’t occur, the forces of shear, tension, head rotation, and rapid extension, quickly followed by an equally violent flexion are going to create a wave motion that can cause what has come to be known as whiplash. Whiplash injuries can occur in rear-end collisions in which the automobile is traveling as slowly as 10 miles per hour.

Neck injuries from front- and rear-impact auto collisions cost Americans more than $29 billion per year to treat. And the potential harm isn’t limited to the neck. The forces at play also subject your facet joints, ligaments, muscles, soft tissues, and spinal vertebrae to enormous pressures, which can cause a wide variety of injuries. If your spinal disks have already been weakened by degeneration (a common condition often encountered as people age, but also accelerated by lifestyle choices and injury), an accident can cause them to become herniated. If the impact of the accident is strong enough to collapse the framework of the car, more injuries can occur as the result of being crushed.

Injuries caused by auto accidents can last a lifetime, and they may not appear immediately after the collision. Weeks or months later, you can begin to experience sudden and unexpected aches and pains as well as loss of mobility surrounding the injured joints, vertebrae, muscles, and tendons. This can result in chronic pain and disability.


Fortunately, chiropractors have years of specialized training and experience that help them successfully diagnose and treat musculoskeletal injuries caused by auto accidents. They can use a wide variety of chiropractic techniques to adjust your spine and other joints to help them move back into positions of proper alignment following a collision. Depending on your specific situation, even herniated disks may be treated, either through hands-on spinal manipulation or through other spinal traction or decompression techniques. Most chiropractors are also skilled at physiotherapy and rehabilitation and can recommend exercises that will help your damaged muscles and tendons regain their strength. Massage therapy can often help with pain management and speed the healing process. While many approaches in traditional medicine tend to treat pain by covering it up with medication, chiropractic physicians address the source of the pain directly.

Hopefully you’ll never be involved in a serious auto accident or experience the kinds of traumatic injuries that an accident can cause. But if you do have a car accident (or if you were involved in one months or even years ago and still “just don’t feel right”), you should certainly consider seeing a chiropractor. A chiropractic physician can provide you with the “hands-on” treatment you need to recover as quickly and completely as possible, and can offer exercise, nutrition and other lifestyle advice to help your body heal itself.

Contact Dr. Nicholas Carlisle – Atlanta Chiropractor at (404) 316-1190 (Buckhead) or (404) 781-2800 (Southwest Atlanta) for your appointment.

For High School Athletes, Sports-Related Back Pain Starts Early

August 13, 2014

People often assume that lower back pain (LBP) is just a problem just for the elderly, or for middle-aged adults who have a history of physical wear and tear. But this is simply untrue. The fact is that over 31 million Americans live with lower back pain on a regular basis, and a great number of them are adolescents.

Recent studies have indicated that many high school students who participate in sports programs are at high risk for developing lower back pain—and worse, few of them seek or receive proper chiropractic treatment. This is increasingly recognized as a legitimate public health concern: A 25-year-long study of adolescent risk factors for LBP, published in 2000, revealed that students who had lower back pain at age 14 were likelier to have back pain 25 years later than students who didn’t have LBP when they were teenagers. This study suggested that prevention of back pain in youth may contribute to the absence of back pain in adulthood.

Assorted Sports Equipment on Black

14 years later, not much has changed. A recent study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine examined Finnish teenage athletes participating in a variety of sports. Researchers looked at the experience of 464 male and female athletes representing 22 basketball, floorball (a type of floor hockey popular in Nordic countries), ice hockey, and volleyball teams. They found that 255 athletes (55%) had experienced lower back pain in the past year. 51 players (11%) had suffered for longer than four weeks, and 80 (17.2%) had pain so severe that they had to miss training. However, only about 73 of them (29% of those with back pain) had received any medical attention for LBP.

Another study of 12,306 adolescent soccer players found that a significant percentage of them were likely to suffer injuries that cause lower back pain, resulting in the loss of 10,265 training days and—more importantly—putting them at higher risk for LBP as they age. The study also concluded that the likelihood of injury resulting in LBP increased dramatically if a young athlete received no medical attention, then returned to play before the injury had healed.

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Parents of teenage athletes should weigh all of this information carefully if their son or daughter begins to complain of lower back pain. Don’t let them ignore it and go back to playing without having the condition treated. Remember—“walking it off” today could have longer-term health consequences that go beyond the discomfort or pain they’re feeling in the moment. Parents should also know that other studies have found chiropractic care to be the safest, most effective form of LBP treatment. Your chiropractor can help relieve your child’s pain today and help prevent a lifetime of lower back pain in the future, without drugs and without surgery. Call or visit our office today to learn more.

Contact Dr. Nicholas Carlisle – Atlanta Chiropractor at (404) 316-1190 (Buckhead) or (404) 781-2800 (Southwest Atlanta) for your appointment.

Chiropractic Care Offers Relief for Sports-Related Elbow Pain

August 11, 2014

Elbow pain, whether caused by injury or repetitive stress (as in the case of “tennis elbow,” aka lateral epicondylosis), is so common that it accounts for a large percentage of sports-related injuries. 40% of tennis players suffer from tennis elbow at some point in their lives. However, elbow pain is not limited to tennis players. In fact, 30% of laborers, such as those office employees and construction workers who perform repetitive handwork, also suffer from tennis elbow. Medical doctors consider the condition so difficult to treat that the expected duration of a case of tennis elbow ranges from 6 to 48 months—and many of those who suffer from this malady find the pain to be anywhere from simply irritating to nearly unbearable.

Fortunately, there are a number of case studies indicating that fast relief from elbow pain, caused either by injury or tennis elbow, can be effectively treated more quickly using chiropractic techniques. The most recent case study, published in the Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association, followed the progress of a 41-year-old man who had fallen during a game of basketball, injuring his left elbow. The man experienced pain that was intense enough that he could not play sports or perform normal activities that involved his left elbow for over five weeks after the fall..


A physical examination of the patient revealed that he showed signs of tendon injury in the elbow as well as dysfunctional segments in his thoracic spine (i.e., the mid-back) area. He was treated with multimodal chiropractic care that included high-velocity, low-amplitude spinal manipulations as well as acupuncture and the Active Release Technique® (aka ART®, a specialized massage technique), applied directly to the affected elbow.
One week after receiving these treatments, the patient reported that most of his symptoms had been resolved. His subjective pain levels dropped from a 5 to a 1 on a scale of 1 to 10, and he could engage in recreational activities again with minimal pain. In a follow-up report six months after treatment, he reported no adverse effects and a complete resolution of symptoms. This led the researchers to report, “A combination of acupuncture, ART® and spinal manipulation seemed to have been effective at resolving the patient’s complaints and allowing him to return to normal activities.”

This case study supports the findings of a previous Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association case study from 2006, which reported that ART® had been effective in the treatment of tennis elbow. This is also good news for those suffering from elbow pain, for recent presentations at a focused symposium on tennis elbow reported that one of the treatments commonly employed by medical doctors—corticosteroid injections—actually make the condition worse six to eight weeks after getting the injections.


So if you suffer from elbow pain, contact your chiropractor and ask about the combination of spinal manipulation, acupuncture, and ART®. It may be incredibly effective at relieving your pain and getting you back into the swing of things (whether or not you play tennis).

Contact Dr. Nicholas Carlisle – Atlanta Chiropractor at (404) 316-1190 (Buckhead) or (404) 781-2800 (Southwest Atlanta) for your appointment.

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