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Read all about how to Live Well!

Here at Live Well Family Chiropractic, we embody all things wellness. We are passionate about sharing knowledge with our patients to help you live your most vibrant, joyful and healthful life. Follow our blog for the latest chiropractic news, along with recipes, natural remedies, exercise tips and more! 

Balance and Chiropractic

There are many aspects of everyday life that we don’t really value until they’re missing; balance is definitely one of these. Since it is a vital part of normal daily activities such as: walking, bending over to put on or take off shoes, showering and washing hair, grocery shopping and getting out of a chair – any change can be both noticeable and annoying. Interestingly enough it’s also one of our most complicated involuntary functions. There are several systems, mechanisms and body parts involved in something that seems pretty straight-forward and simple. The truth is, it’s neither.

Proper Balance

The ability for the body to maintain a proper balance is dependent upon three primary factors. The first is the sensory system which must accurately receive information as to your body’s relative position to your environment. Are you standing, sitting or lying down? The sensory systems that affect balance include everything from vision and inner ear motion sensors to the sense of touch on your feet, ankles and other joints in your legs. The second factor to affect balance is your brain’s ability to process this information once it’s received. The third and final factor, your muscles and joints must coordinate their movements in order to maintain balance. Balance control is automatic, in that it doesn’t require our conscious attention to maintain; however, if something interferes with that state, we will have to exert quite a bit of effort to correct it.

A properly functioning nervous system is going to play a vital role in balance.

Standing and Walking

When standing still and walking, the concerted effort between the muscles and ligaments in the spine, legs and feet is significant. Many studies have been done to determine just how much proper balance will affect posture and gait.

Based on an inverted pendulum model, David Winter, PhD, assessed and determined that balance is a vital part of standing and walking. His study found that the entire spine, as well as most of the body’s neuro-sensory systems, are involved in balance while standing and walking. As a matter of fact, the only muscles that had a negligible effect are those found around the ankle.

When considering balance during walking it’s important to keep in mind what happens to the center of mass and the center of pressure during the process and how it applies to posture and gait. Based on the biomechanics of the human body there are three mechanisms that allow us to maintain balance while walking. First is the moving of the center of pressure in respect to standing upright which affects the center of mass. Second is accelerating the body around the center of mass. The application of an external force is the third.

In other words, maintaining our center of mass is the most vital part of balance and our body uses many different muscles, ligaments, senses and mechanisms to do so while standing and walking. Without these internal forces working together properly, we would struggle to stand upright and walk straight.

The primary systems most involved with walking are the vestibular and proprioceptive systems. The vestibular system tells the brain about balance and moving against gravity while the proprioceptive systems helps our bodies to coordinate the movement of our arms and legs in an efficient manner.

Potential Problems and Causes

Balance is typically found to be affected when someone experiences dizziness, to use this term loosely. Some people who report feeling dizzy have clarified that it feels like the room is spinning around them or that they are turning. Others have used the terms floating, light-headedness or giddiness. Regardless of the description, this may be the sign of a problem.

The most common cause of balance problems tends to be an inner ear issue. Anything from an ear infection to hearing loss may cause a loss of balance. Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo or BPPV happens when tiny crystals within the ear get dislodged and begin to move around within the ear. This results in motion signals being sent to the brain when there really is no motion, thus causing that dizziness.

Other types of vertigo include central or neurological vertigo, post-traumatic vertigo and vascular vertigo to name a few. Central or neurological vertigo is a dizziness that is the result of a problem in the balance center of the brain rather than the ear. This type of dizziness is much less common than inner-ear related dizziness. Post-traumatic vertigo is the result of a head injury, concussion or whiplash. Vascular vertigo is a dizziness caused by problems with the blood supply to the inner ear or the balance center of the brain. In each of these cases, symptoms may include severe dizziness and difficulty maintaining balance when walking.

Additional balance problems may be the result of weakened muscles, joints or vision. As we get older, our body will naturally begin to wear down. Since so much of the body’s systems are involved in balance, it’s natural for it to be affected.

Finally, a typical but not commonly considered source of balance problems is prescription medications. Many prescription medications will list dizziness as a sideeffect but if it’s not discussed with the patient they may not realize it’s the cause.

These are just a few of the potential issues that may affect balance. There are many more including but not limited to: acoustic neuroma, arteriosclerosis, hyperventilation, labyrinthitis, ototoxicity, peripheral fistula, peripheral vestibular disorders and tinnitus.

Recommended Exercises

There are several exercises that can be done to help maintain or improve balance. For instance, standing on one leg for an extended period of time. The purpose of these exercises is to make all of those mechanisms in your body that maintain balance work together so, while making your body maintain balance is useful, the process of shifting your weight from one leg to the other then standing on that one leg for several minutes is going to be more beneficial.

If you’re looking for a regulated exercise program that will help with balance, consider Yoga, Tai Chi or Pilates. All of these disciplines requires moving the body into specific positions and then maintaining them. Vriksasana or Tree Pose, for example, is a Yoga pose that requires balancing on one leg.

Also note that the balance center of the brain plays a vital role, making brain exercises equally valuable. Any exercise that will integrate sensory input and strengthen motor skills while exercising balance and stability will be beneficial. Examples would be running, skipping, jumping, climbing, swinging and crawling. If an older child doesn’t want to get down on all fours and crawl around, then make it fun by creating an obstacle course: they climb over some barriers and crawl under others. Dr. Monika Buerger, an expert in neurosensory integration and contributing author in the Pediatric Chiropractic textbook, says th

at physical activity is a valuable source of brain exercise.

The Chiropractic Factor

To better understand how chiropractic care may influence your balance, consider just how many different bodily systems, mechanisms and muscles, joints, etc. are involved in maintaining it.

The central nervous system is made up of the brain, spinal cord and the nerves that go out to the muscles, organs and glands. A misalignment in the spine may cause nerve interference which in turn may affect the processing of messages from the brain to those muscles, organs and glands. As such, a properly aligned spine is vital to a properly functioning nervous system and, because the nervous system controls all bodily systems, it is also vital to balance.

Since the sacrum and ilium are the bones closest to our legs and hips, it’s logical that a misalignment here would affect our gait and, in turn, our balance; but any spinal misalignment has the potential to affect balance. Even misalignment of the atlas, which is the vertebra at the very top of the spine, could be an issue. As the balance center of the brain must send messages through the spinal cord to the rest of the body, this is also a logical conclusion.

A properly functioning nervous system is going to play a vital role in balance so be sure to discuss any concerns with your Family Wellness Chiropractor today.

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Updated: Jan 27, 2020

Fertility and Chiropractic

Many couples decide not to have children and go on to have a purposeful and fulfilling life, for other couples the idea of not being parents is devastating. That may be why fertility is a billion-dollar business in the United States alone, but perhaps there’s an alternative.

Current Infertility Statistics

Recent statistics show that 1 in 8 couples, or 12% of married women, have trouble getting pregnant or sustaining a pregnancy. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), worldwide infertility rates have remained unchanged for 20 years.

In 2010, it was determined that 48.5 million couples worldwide have been unable to have a child. They also determined that 1.9% of women aged 20-44 who wanted a child were unable to have their first live birth and 10.5% of women who had previously given birth were unable to have another baby after five years of trying. When considering these numbers, it’s understandable why couples are spending between $12,000 and $15,000 for in-vitro fertilization. Even for couples with insurance that covers fertility treatments, the average out of pocket cost is $5,000.

Other treatments, such as hormone therapy, can be equally costly and over $2 billion dollars are being spent annually in the United States for various fertility treatments. Causes of Infertility

According to the Mayo Clinic, there are several reasons why a couple cannot conceive, and typically a third of the time it is male infertility. For instance, abnormal sperm production or function, problems with the delivery of the sperm, overexposure to certain environmental factors or damage to the male sex organs due to cancer or its treatment.

Another estimated third of cases are caused by an issue with the female. These causes can include ovulation disorders, uterine or cervical abnormalities, fallopian tube damage or blockage, endometriosis, primary ovarian insufficiency (early menopause) or pelvic adhesions. Additional causes may be cancer and its treatment or other medical conditions that are typically a symptom of delayed puberty or absence of menstruation, conditions such as celiac disease, poorly controlled diabetes and some autoimmune diseases such as lupus. Genetic abnormalities may also be a contributing factor.

The final third of infertility cases are issues with both the male and the female or when no official cause can be determined.

Common Allopathic Treatments

In the past 35 years, in-virto fertilization has become the standard in fertility treatments with over 5 million babies being conceived, according to a very glowing article from the Guardian. What they don’t talk about is the millions spent on failed procedures.

Other common answers to infertility include intracytoplasmic sperm injection, donor eggs, surrogacy or donor embryos. Then there are the fertility drugs, ovulation drug therapy, such as Clomid or Serophene which are estrogen-blocking drugs, Femara, injectable

gonadotropins, the GnRH (gonadotropin-releasing hormone) pump and bromocriptine. The purpose of these drugs is to encourage the body to ovulate.

The Problems with These Treatments

As with all drug therapy options, there are typically horrible side-effects, inconclusive results and ironic twists. For instance, Clomid, apparently the most commonly prescribed hormone treatment, has a 6080% ovulation rate and about half of those will be able to get pregnant. However, the side-effects are hot flashes, blurred vision, nausea, bloating and headaches. Ironically, Clomid can cause changes in cervical mucus, which may stop sperm from getting to the uterus. How’s that for a twist? The drug that is supposed to help with ovulation may stop the sperm from reaching the egg. Unfortunately, the medical management of conception issues will almost always include drug therapy or some invasive procedure.

In a study published by Dr. Leslie Bedell, he writes, “The use of synthetic hormones to both prevent and promote fertility has been shown to have severe and well documented toxic side effects for women. About 10 million women in the USA use the pill at any one time but from 3-50% stop using it within a year because of undesirable side effects. About 120 risks and side effects are associated with this combination (estrogen and synthetic progestin) some of which are life threatening, including not just heart problems but cancers of the

reproductive organs, breast cancer, increased risk of diabetes, asthma, thyroid imbalance, and immune dysfunction.” In other words, the risks of the treatments are high, and the results are not certain.

Biomechanical Causes of Infertility

To better understand how chiropractic care may influence fertility, consider just how many different bodily systems, mechanisms and muscles, joints, etc. are involved in the reproductive cycle of both men and women.

The central nervous system is made up of the brain, spinal cord and the nerves that go out to the muscles, organs and glands. A misalignment in the spine may cause nerve interference which in turn may affect the processing of messages from the brain to those muscles, organs and glands. As such, a properly aligned spine is vital to a properly functioning nervous system and, because the nervous system controls all bodily systems, it plays a significant role in fertility.

A misalignment in the pelvis or sacrum may affect uterine tilt, and a subluxation of the lumbar spine may interfere with ovarian or fallopian tube function. This is just the beginning. Hormonal balance is maintained by the endocrine system, and a problem with the central nervous system will affect this.

As for male fertility issues, the results are similar. Nerve interference or subluxations potentially affect the production and delivery of sperm. Any dysfunction of the nervous system may influence the reproductive system.

Is Chiropractic the Answer?

Dr. Madeline Behrendt, who has dedicated her career to educating the populace on the benefits of chiropractic care for fertility issues, authored an infertility series published in 2004. The purpose of the study was to share anecdotal evidence of Chiropractic helping patients with their fertility.

Dr. Behrendt states unequivocally that Chiropractic in and of itself is not a “cure” or a treatment for infertility. However, what it does is correct distortions in parts of the body where the reproductive organs are located, and this can sometimes have a positive effect on fertility issues.

For instance, a quick Google search of “Chiropractic and infertility” brought up a story shared in a forum for women struggling with infertility. The delightful title was: “Chiropractor Got Me Pregnant!” The post was written by a woman that had one healthy son but was trying to conceive for 2 ½ years (her son was almost 5). At a family Christmas gathering she expressed her frustration in not being able to get pregnant and her husband’s cousin, a Chiropractor, told her to come by his office. In 4 weeks, she was pregnant. Did he cure her infertility? No, he didn’t, but he did notice her pelvis tilt and adjusted her spine accordingly. Her body did the rest.

Hers is just one of many, many success stories available on the internet: some written by the patient and others submitted as case studies of chiropractic and infertility. A great source for more examples is

The Chiropractic Factor

Your Family Wellness Chiropractor is dedicated to ensuring that your spine is aligned correctly, and your body is functioning properly. When operating at its best, your body was created to do everything naturally and without medical interference (pharmaceuticals or invasive procedures).

While Chiropractic Care is not the cure for infertility, a properly functioning reproductive system is rarely infertile.

Dr. Tara is dedicated to providing you with the absolute best in family wellness care. So take a moment today to discuss with your Family Wellness Chiropractor any concerns you may have regarding your family’s overall health and wellness.

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As winter approaches, the days grow shorter and the nights grow longer. For those living near the equator the change isn’t too dramatic but, as you go further north or south, the longer nights are accompanied by cloudy skies. Would it surprise you to know that those long nights and cloudy days can actually affect your mood? Well, it does and it’s aptly named: SAD.

What is SAD?

Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD is a type of depression related to changes in the seasons. Typically, SAD begins and ends about the same time each year. It’s estimated that as many as 20% of Americans are affected by SAD each winter with symptoms ranging from the blues to fatigue and, in some cases, more serious depression.

Also known as the “Winter Blues” it is no coincidence that it occurs when the days begin to darken and sunlight is at a minimum. Health and mood are directly linked to sunlight exposure or the lack thereof. For example, serotonin levels rise when we are exposed to bright light and this is the hormone typically associated with a good or happy mood.

Melatonin levels also rise or fall depending upon how much light is available. As the day darkens, melatonin levels will increase because our body recognizes that it’s time to go to bed for the night. Light and darkness control our biological clock and circadian rhythm, which impacts the hormones that regulate our appetite and metabolism.

Our bodies were created to be affected by night and day: when it’s dark, our body wants to rest, and when it’s light, our body finds energy and motivation to be out and about. If we fail to get the amount of sun exposure our body needs this may result in SAD.

SAD vs Depression

The typical symptoms of SAD may mimic major depression and include but are not limited to: decreased energy, increased appetite, increased need or desire for sleep, loss of interest in usually pleasurable or fulfilling activities, cravings for carbohydrates, irritability and weight gain.

The main symptoms of depression (although they may differ from one person to the next) include: loss of interest in life or an ability to enjoy life; difficulty making decisions or concentrating; feeling unhappy or a profound sadness most of the time; feeling tired but having trouble sleeping; lost confidence and lowered self-esteem; avoiding social interaction or being around other people; feeling numb, despairing and empty; and suicidal thoughts.

The primary difference between SAD and depression may very well be the severity of the symptoms. However, the clearest indicator would be, unlike depression, full remission of SAD occurs in the spring and summer months.

Health and mood are directly linked to sunlight exposure or the lack thereof.

SAD Risk Factors

As with all disorders, there are some factors that may increase your risk for seasonal affective disorder. According to the MAYO Clinic, some risk factors include:

• Being Female – SAD is primarily diagnosed in women but those men that are diagnosed will typically have more severe symptoms.

• Age – Young people are at higher risk of developing SAD as opposed to older adults.

• Family History – People with SAD may be more likely to have blood relatives with SAD or another form of depression.

• Having Clinical Depression or Bipolar Disorder – Symptoms of depression and bipolar disorder may worsen in the winter months if you already have one of these conditions.

• Living Far from the Equator – SAD appears to be more common among people who live far north or far south from the equator. This is likely due to decreased sunlight during winter caused by shorter and cloudier days.

As always, identifying with one or more of the risk factors does not mean that you will definitely develop a syndrome or disorder. The above are simply factors to consider.

Treating SAD

Conventional treatment most often recommends exposure to bright light daily using a special light source called full-spectrum light therapy. Typically, SAD patients must spend about 30 minutes a day sitting in front of this light source. Light therapy has been purported to work (and be effective) in 80% of cases. The light affects brain chemicals that play a role in regulating mood and can relieve symptoms with a few days, but can sometimes take as long as two weeks or even longer.

Scientists generally recommend full-spectrum light therapy over selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as Prozac or Zoloft, as it can be equally effective without running the risks of dangerous side effects common with drug therapy options.

It’s rare to find a non-drug therapy recommended first, but such is the case with SAD.

Vitamin D and SAD

Perhaps it would be wise to consider the logical connection between a vitamin D deficiency and SAD. Our body produces vitamin D when we’re in the sun; therefore, someone spending too much time indoors will be deficient. It’s safe to assume then that longer nights and cloudier days will also create a deficiency.

Research has shown a link between low levels of vitamin D in the blood and symptoms of depression. Yet, it has not been determined if low vitamin D levels cause depression or if depression causes low vitamin D levels.

In a review of studies about vitamin D and depression in 2013, researchers analyzed all of the published research about depression and vitamin D up until February 2011. More than 5,000 research articles were analyzed; however, just 13 explored this area effectively. More than 31,000 people took part in these 13 studies and, while the results did show that there is undoubtedly a relationship between low levels of vitamin D in the blood and depression, it was not clear whether vitamin D levels were the cause or the effect.

To date, clinical studies examining whether vitamin D supplements will help people with SAD have generated mixed results. However, a double-blind randomized trial published in 2008 concluded that there appeared to be a correlation between vitamin D levels and symptoms of depression and supplementation seemed to relieve some of the symptoms.

A study led by the researchers from the University of Georgia, in 2014, determined that low vitamin D levels may be associated with a greater risk of SAD.

Regardless of whether it’s the cause or the effect of SAD, Vitamin D deficiency is very common, and should be a top consideration when looking for a solution to decreased energy and mood, especially when it occurs in the winter months.

Winter Wellness

Sara Hayden, a mental health therapist at TFP Therapeutic Services in Ontario, Canada, recommends the following strategies to address SAD:

• Vitamin D3 supplementation

• Full-spectrum light therapy

• As much time outdoors as possible whenever the sun is out

Additional recommendations to improve health and subsequently mood during the winter months may include the following:

1. Exercise – Regular physical activity will naturally increase serotonin levels.

2. Go to bed on time – A good night’s sleep is vital for mood and energy levels.

3. Avoid processed foods – Refined sugar and processed fructose are known to have a very detrimental impact on brain function and mental health.

4. Optimize gut health – Fermented foods are important for optimal mental health.

5. Increase high-quality, animal -based omega-3 fats – Omega-3 is a vital “good fat” and needed for improved mental health and wellness.

The Chiropractic Factor

Your Family Wellness Chiropractor wants you and your family to enjoy all the health benefits of a wellness lifestyle. Health is defined as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.

That is why your Doctor of Chiropractic wants to ensure that your family’s spine is aligned and your living a life of health and wellness. Be sure to talk with your Family Wellness Chiropractor if you have any symptoms of SAD and see if there are any recommended lifestyle changes that can be made today.

Dr. Tara is dedicated to providing you with the absolute best in family wellness care. So take a moment today to discuss with your Family Wellness Chiropractor any concerns you may have regarding your family’s overall health and wellness.

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