Diets Don’t Work. Period.

Diets, exercise programs and behavior modification do not work for ninety percent of the people who want to permanently lose weight. Why?  It is hard to change. There are no magic pills, potions, or berries that help you lose weight long term. People look at dieting as something they do until they reach their short term goal and then they go back to their old eating and lifestyle habits. That is the bad news.
The good news is that you can change any behavior anytime in your life, if you want to. This is because of brain plasticity or rewiring (I will explain brain rewiring in a later blog).  It takes the average person two to three months to develop a new habit and rewire their brain.
If you want to lose weight, you have to exercise more and eat less. You have to burn more calories than you consume. It is that simple. The million dollar question is: How do you do this for the rest of your life?  The two things you have to do for permanent weight loss are having a big purpose and developing self awareness.  
I have a friend, a medical physician, who lost 35 pounds and has kept it off for fifteen years.  His big purpose was:  he did not want to take cholesterol medication for the rest of his life.  He knew of the harmful side effects of taking statin drugs (cholesterol lowering). His purpose was big enough for him to lose the weight and keep it off.   Your purpose has to be your choice.  
Write your purpose down where you can see it often. Put your purpose on your refrigerator or on your smart phone. Make sure you look and recite your purpose at least once per day.
In the next blog, I will discuss how you can develop self awareness.   
~Dr. Dave

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Improve Your Brain’s Performance!

There are three proven ways to improve your brain’s performance according to Sharon Begley of Newsweek Magazine. One is exercise. Exercise is good for your heart, muscles, and bones, but probably the greatest benefit is to your brain. Exercise creates positve brain changes (neuroplasticity). If it was a drug, it would and should be prescribed to everyone. This is another reason why people should exercise every day.

The second way to improve brain function is through meditation. Meditation, or focused attention, allows us to develop self awareness. Self awareness is the most critical part of changing any behavior. Most people who are “stressed out” cannot meditate at first but, with practice, they are eventually able to. Meditation will also have a calming effect. If you meditate regularly, it will help turn off the stress chemicals in your brain so you can think more clearly.

The third way to improve your brain’s performance is complex video games. These games make you focus, use your short and long term memory, your visual skills and other executive brain functions. If you improve in these games, you have created positive brain changes which can apply to other aspects of your life.

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Spinal Fusion Surgery Is Not Effective For Lower Back Pain

A recent article in Bloomberg Magazine stated that spinal fusion surgery is an expensive and ineffective treatment for lower back pain.  There are complications to this procedure and most studies show it is no better than chiropractic care or physical therapy for disc-related problems.  A spinal fusion for a lumbar disc can cost $50,000! That is a lot of money for something that has been proven not to work.   
“It’s amazing how much evidence there is that fusions don’t work, yet surgeons do them anyway”, said Sohail Mirza, a spine surgeon who chairs the Department of Orthopedics at Dartmouth Medical School in Hanover, New Hampshire. “The only one who isn’t benefitting from the equation is the patient.”    
Most disc conditions are going to respond to conservative measures and are not going to require spine surgery.  The only absolute indication for spine surgery (not spinal fusion) related to a disc problem is losing control of your bladder or bowels. Leg pain or weakness is not an absolute indication that you will require surgery.  
Conservative treatments like chiropractic care and physical therapy should be tried for a minimum of six to eight weeks. There are also medications and injections that can help relieve your pain. 

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Some Surprising Statistics About Back Pain

Some Surprising Statistics About Back Pain
 
Back pain relief is just one component of chiropractic care, but it is often a patient’s first introduction.  Back pain is horribly debilitating affecting all aspects of work and personal life.  If you are suffering from back pain, you are not alone.  Here are a few facts about back pain that may (or may not) surprise you. 
  • Back pain is the number one disability for those under age 45.  
  • In the United States of America alone, there is an expected 31 million people with lower back pain at any given time.  
  • Back pain runs second, after only the common cold, as the top reason for visiting a healthcare provider in the United States.  
  • Experts place the likelihood of any person to experience some type of back problem in their lifetime at about 80%.  That’s four out of every fivepeople!
  • Over 50 billion dollars are spent per year in the pursuit of clearing up cases of back pain.  
  • Around 30 to 40 percent of all workplace absences are due to back pain. 
  • Approximately one quarter of U. S.  adults reported having low back pain lasting at least one whole day in the past three months, and 7.  6 percent reported at least one episode of severe acute low back pain within a one-year period. 
  • One-half of all working Americans admit to having back pain symptoms each year. 
  • Approximately 2 percent of the U. S. work force is compensated for backinjuries each year.
  • Lower back pain accounts for two thirds of all back pain-related cases. 
  • More than two-thirds of back strains are caused by lifting and other exertions like pulling and pushing. 
  • Most cases of back pain are mechanical or non-organic—meaning they are not caused by serious conditions, such as inflammatory arthritis, infection, fracture or cancer. 
The key to proper treatment of back pain is to understand the cause. Remember, pain is always a sign that something else is wrong and if continually ignored may lead to more serious harm.  Chiropractors are experts in assessing the root cause of your back pain and putting you on the right course to recovery

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Recent Study Demonstrates Chiropractic Care Lowers Healthcare Costs

The study in the December 2010 issue of JMPT entitled “Cost of Care for Common Back Pain Conditions Initiated with Chiropractic Doctor vs. Medical Doctor as First Physician” showed that the chiropractic patients had 20% percent lower healthcare costs than the medical patients. Dr. Rick McMichael, a chiropractor who is the ACA president stated: “As Doctors of Chiropractic, we know firsthand that our care often helps patients avoid or reduce more costly interventions such as drugs or surgery. It also demonstrates the value of chiropractic care at a critical time, when our nation is attempting to reform its health care system and contain runaway costs”.

Many previous studies have demonstrated that as well as lowering costs, patients who utilize chiropractic care are very satisfied with their care and would recommend chiropractic care for a family member or a friend.

The next time your back “goes out”, you should see your chiropractor instead of your medical doctor.

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Do I Have A Pinched Nerve?

Most patients do not have a true pinched nerve. Chiropractors and medical doctors use “pinched nerve” because they think it is easier for patients to understand, and they often do not know what is causing your problem or pain. With a true pinched nerve you usually will have loss of function, in addition to the pain. “Loss of function” means you will have loss of strength and feeling in that area.

The most common “pinched nerve” is carpal tunnel syndrome. Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused when the median nerve is “trapped” at the wrist. You will have pain and loss of feeling in your thumb and first two fingers on the palm side. You will also have weakness in one of the muscles that moves your thumb. If your pain is in the back of your hand or different fingers, you do not have carpal tunnel syndrome. The classic case of carpal tunnel syndrome will wake you in the middle of the night, and you usually will have to shake your hands to get relief. If you have pain when you first wake in the morning, that is usually caused by a neck condition. Most patients that have carpal tunnel syndrome usually improve and do not require surgery.

Remember when your medical doctor or chiropractor tells you have a “pinched nerve”, ask her which nerve, and what is causing it.

~Dr. Dave


Is Gastric Bypass Surgery the only answer for people who want to lose 100 pounds or more?

The answer is a resounding no. You first have to decide that your health is the most important thing to you. Then you are going to have to realize that you are going to have to do it. There is no magic bullet out there. The magic bullet is your brain, and learning how to “rewire” it. You are going to have to change your habits and develop new healthy routines.

Weight loss is not complicated. You have to burn more calories than you take in. It is that simple. Most people don’t realize how much they are eating and they do not monitor their food intake. The key to permanent weight loss is self awareness.

How do you develop self awareness? I recommend weighing yourself every day and writing down what you are eating. Weighing yourself everyday and journaling what you are eating puts you in control of your fork instead of your fork controlling you.

Exercise is very important, but most people cannot lose weight by just exercising. A recent government study said that the average women would have to exercise five hours per week just to keep her weight the same. Most women would read that and say, “I don’t have five hours per week to exercise”, and they don’t exercise at all. The study said you could eat less and not have to exercise as much. Eating habits are more important than exercising for permanent weight loss in most people.

When people have gastric bypass surgery, they are basically saying, “I do not have control of my brain and the only way I can lose weight is if I make my stomach the size of a walnut.” People that have gastric bypass surgery have to change their lifestyle after the surgery to have success with the procedure. Why not change your lifestyle and not have the surgery? You won’t have as fast a weight loss if you don’t have the surgery, but you also will not have the risks or complications of surgery.

A patient of mine was telling me the other day that four people in her office had gastric bypass surgery and all had gained the weight back. Why? They had not changed their lifestyles. I can teach you how to lose weight by rewiring your brain and developing self awareness. The magic bullet is your brain and learning how to use it.

~ Dr. Dave

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Headache!

Headache is the most common complaint for a patient seeking medical advice. There are many causes of headaches, but the most common cause of severe headache is migraine. A common misunderstanding by patients is that all bad headaches are caused by tumors. Actually it is very rare for patients to have brain tumors, and all people with headaches do not need an MRI of their brain.The two most common types of headache are migraine and tension headache.

Migraine headache is often misdiagnosed as sinus disease, because people who experience migraine headache usually will have pain over the eyes. With a sinus condition, you will have either blockage or drainage of that sinus. People often are treated for chronic sinus infection for years, but they actually have a type of migraine.

Once migraine is diagnosed, there are effective medicines to treat migraine.Tension headache is characterized by a feeling of tightness of your scalp. You feel like you have a band wrapped around your head. Often the muscles in the back of your neck are very tight. These headaches are aggravated by stress.

In my opinion, this type of headache responds very well to chiropractic care. The chiropractor can release the tension in your neck muscles by gently manipulating and massaging your upper neck. Headache is a very common complaint in clinical practice. Make sure you have an accurate diagnosis, so you can receive the best treatment.

~Dr. Dave

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Chronic Pain : Is it all in your head?

A few weeks ago a patient came hobbling in with lower back pain. She was under emotional stress due to financial problems. She had physiotherapy treatment in my office and told me a funny story. She started laughing as she told the story. I asked her how her pain was, and she said it was gone! The physical treatment and the laughing had changed her emotional state. She literally was dancing out the door.

Pain is a brain experience and unique to you. Pain is defined as an emotional response to tissue damage. How much pain you feel has no relationship to the amount of tissue damage.

With chronic pain all tissue healing has occurred but you still feel pain. Why?

If you are under emotional or physical stress, it can amplify or “turn up” your pain. Your body releases stress chemicals that make you more sensitive to pain. If you focus on your pain it will be worse, and if you are distracted you will feel better.

The longer you have chronic pain the worse it usually gets. This is because of brain plasticity or rewiring. The more you keep firing the pain pathways the stronger the connections become. It becomes almost hardwired in your brain even though all the tissue has healed. When you have chronic pain, the pain becomes the focus of your life. That is horrible for your brain and body. It usually leads to anxiety and depression.

You can get better if you suffer from chronic pain, but you are going to have to do some things differently. There are natural methods as well as medications that can relieve your suffering. The first thing is to decide you want to get better!

~Dr. Dave

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Do I Need Back Surgery for my Lower Back Pain?

If you have a disc problem in your lower back, you will probably not require back surgery. 90% of lower back pain problems will resolve in two months, regardless of treatment. Lumbar spine(low back) surgery is reserved for candidates who have exhausted conservative treatment and have a definable correctable cause. Recent studies have shown that after five years, people who had disc surgery and those that did not have surgery are doing about the same. In my opinion, the only absolute indication for lumbar spine surgery is losing control of your bladder and bowels. Pain in your leg is not an absolute indication that you are going to need back surgery.

Before you have back surgery make sure you seek a second opinion. Other viable options are chiropractic care, physical therapy, acupuncture, and epidural injections. If you decide to have back surgery, my recommendations are to see a spine surgeon who only operates on backs.

~Dr. Dave

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