Chiropractor for Algonquin and Lake in the Hills

Trump Calls Opioids a “Public Health Emergency”—How Bad Is It?

An Epidemic Abuse Makes Opioids a Risky Choice for Pain Management

“Trump declares opioid epidemic a national public health emergency” read CNN’s headline last month. When the president of the United States discusses a specific health problem, how bad is it?

How Bad is the Opioid Epidemic?

Photo of a person lying on the floor with a bottle of pills next to them after an opioid overdose.

Let’s look at these facts from the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM)’s Opioid Addiction 2016 Facts & Figures:

Opioid Addiction

  • Opioids are a class of drugs that include the illicit drug heroin as well as the licit prescription pain relievers oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, morphine, fentanyl and others.
  • Opioids are chemically related and interact with opioid receptors on nerve cells in the brain and nervous system to produce pleasurable effects and relieve pain.
  • Addiction is a primary, chronic and relapsing brain disease characterized by an individual pathologically pursuing reward and/or relief by substance use and other behaviors.
  • Of the 20.5 million Americans 12 or older that had a substance use disorder in 2015, 2 million had a substance use disorder involving prescription pain relievers and 591,000 had a substance use disorder involving heroin.
  • It is estimated that 23% of individuals who use heroin develop opioid addiction.

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What is Spinal Stenosis and How Do We Treat It?

Spinal Stenosis- What Is It and How Is It Treated?

Here at the Algonquin Chiropractic Center, many of our patients come in with back pain. This pain can lead from a variety of causes, but one common source is spinal stenosis. So, let’s discuss this condition, what causes it, and how it’s treated.

What Causes Spinal Stenosis?

Let’s turn to Mayo Clinic for an overview:Photo of a man grabbing his lower back in pain.

“Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the spaces within your spine, which can put pressure on the nerves that travel through the spine. Spinal stenosis occurs most often in the lower back and the neck…

The backbone (spine) runs from your neck to your lower back. The bones of your spine form a spinal canal, which protects your spinal cord (nerves).

Some people are born with a small spinal canal. But most spinal stenosis occurs when something happens to narrow the open space within the spine. Causes of spinal stenosis may include:

  • Overgrowth of bone. Wear and tear damage from osteoarthritis on your spinal bones can prompt the formation of bone spurs, which can grow into the spinal canal.
  • Herniated disks. The soft cushions that act as shock absorbers between your vertebrae tend to dry out with age. Cracks in a disk’s exterior may allow some of the soft inner material to escape and press on the spinal cord or nerves.
  • Thickened ligaments. The tough cords that help hold the bones of your spine together can become stiff and thickened over time. These thickened ligaments can bulge into the spinal canal.
  • Abnormal growths can form inside the spinal cord, within the membranes that cover the spinal cord or in the space between the spinal cord and vertebrae. These are uncommon and identifiable on spine imaging with an MRI or CT.
  • Spinal injuries. Car accidents and other trauma can cause dislocations or fractures of one or more vertebrae. Displaced bone from a spinal fracture may damage the contents of the spinal canal. Swelling of nearby tissue immediately after back surgery also can put pressure on the spinal cord or nerves.”

Most commonly in our clinic we will see older patients with moderate to advance osteoarthritis who have spinal stenosis in the neck and/or low back.

What Are the Symptoms of Spinal Stenosis?

Returning again to Mayo Clinic:

Many people have evidence of spinal stenosis on an MRI or CT scan but may not have symptoms. When they do occur, they often start gradually and worsen over time. Symptoms vary depending on the location of the stenosis and which nerves are affected.

In the neck (cervical spine)

  • Numbness or tingling in a hand, arm, foot or leg
  • Weakness in a hand, arm, foot or leg
  • Problems with walking and balance
  • Neck pain
  • In severe cases, bowel or bladder dysfunction (urinary urgency and incontinence)

In the lower back (lumbar spine)Visual representation of lower back pain resulting from spinal stenosis.

  • Numbness or tingling in a foot or leg
  • Weakness in a foot or leg
  • Pain or cramping in one or both legs when you stand for long periods of time or when you walk, which usually eases when you bend forward or sit
  • Back pain”

Typically, a patient over 50 will present a history of low back pain and more recently pain, cramping, or tingling in one or both legs. These patients can stand or walk for a period of time from a few seconds to 20-30 minutes before they develop increased leg pain, cramping, or numbness. Sitting down, bending forward, or leaning over a shopping cart will relieve the pain.

Next time you are in a supermarket look for the older people leaning over their shopping carts—they have spinal stenosis!

These patients feel worse when they are walking and being active. So, what do they do? They sit! They sit to avoid or relieve the pain.

Spinal stenosis is more than back and leg pain. People go from being active and living an active lifestyle to sitting most of the day. A sedentary lifestyle will cause you to gain weight, increase your risk of diabetes, heart disease, and peripheral artery disease, and cause you to become “deconditioned.”

We know bones grow when they are stressed by physical activity, so when you’re deconditioned your bones will become weaker, causing osteoporosis. When you’re deconditioned your balance isn’t as good either. Having weak bones and losing your balance is a recipe for a hip fracture, spinal fracture, or head injury.

So how do we treat this?

How is Spinal Stenosis Treated?

Looking at Mayo Clinic’s website, they list medication, physical therapy, steroid injections, and surgery as the only treatment for spinal stenosis.

Let’s look at those options:

Medication–In May of 2017 the FDA recommended physicians look for non-pharmacological (no drugs) treatments when dealing with pain, including chiropractic. In Section II of their “Education Blueprint for Health Care Providers Involved in the Management or Support of Patients with Pain,” they listed chiropractic as an option.

Soon after, the American College of Physicians recommended non-pharmacological treatments as a first line of treatment.

These recommendations are all designed to keep people away from opioid drugs and the devastating addiction that can go along with their use.

Physical Therapy–In 2006 a study in the European Spine Journal found that patients with leg pain did “significantly better” with our techniques compared to physical therapy. Patients also had “significantly lower pain scores” after one year. Physical therapy has its place, but if you have leg pain you may want to consider chiropractic first.

Steroid Injections–How effective are cortisone injections for relieving back and leg pain?

Another study in the December 2004 issue of the Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine found that 50-75% of patients with radicular pain (leg pain) had temporary relief after the injections, and only 25-57% received excellent long-term relief.

Meanwhile, the Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation in March 2004 reported that lumbar injections provide only 32% of patients sustained relief.

Surgery–As a general rule, most people want to avoid surgery if they can. On top of that, in 2008 the British Medical Journal reported that outcomes for surgically treated patients and conservatively-treated patients were similar after one and even two years. Why go through surgery if you won’t be any better than you would have been without it?

You can avoid all this!

According to the Spine Journal in 2012:

  • 0% of spine surgery patients have at least one documented complication
  • 0% had an extended stay in the hospital due to complications
  • 5% had post-operative complications
  • 5% had surgical complications
  • 5% died

As it turns out, even the mighty Mayo Clinic may not have all the answers for spinal stenosis.

Does this make sense? You want to take as few meds as possible, right? You want to stay off opioids at all costs. Injections may be an option, but if we can avoid it, even better. We also want to avoid surgery at all costs.

With proprietary, individualized treatment plans for spinal stenosis and leg pain, we use a combination of the Cox Technic, massage therapy, spinal bracing, orthotics, vibration therapy, laser therapy, and rehab to improve patients’ quality of life.

Spinal stenosis surgeons don’t like us, but you will like the results!

Be Well!

A Chiropractor Will Trust You About Your Chronic Pain

Other Doctors May Not Believe You, but a Chiropractor Knows the Truth About Chronic Pain

Millions of people in the United States live with chronic pain, especially low back pain. Some medical doctors seem like they don’t believe your pain is as bad as you say, and belittle your experiences. As a chiropractor, I take my patients’ pain very seriously, because I know the facts about chronic pain don’t lie.

What Is Chronic Pain?

According to the American Chronic Pain Association:

Photo of an elderly patient holding his hand to his head as a doctor takes notes.

“Chronic pain can be described as ongoing or recurrent pain, lasting beyond the usual course of acute illness or injury or more than 3 to 6 months, and which adversely affects the individual’s well-being. A simpler definition for chronic or persistent pain is pain that continues when it should not. (IASP 2004)”

According to the National Institutes of Health:

“Chronic pain may arise from an initial injury, such as a back injury, or there may be an ongoing cause, such as illness. However, there may also be no clear cause. Other health problems, such as fatigue, sleep disturbance, decreased appetite, and mood changes including depression, often accompany chronic pain. Chronic pain may limit a person’s movements, which can reduce flexibility, strength, and stamina. This difficulty in carrying out important and enjoyable activities can lead to disability and despair.”

The chronic pain patients I see may have one or more of the following:

  • Difficulty getting out of bed in the morning.
  • Difficulty sleeping, which causes fatigue and daytime drowsiness.
  • Difficulty at work–it may be hard to perform your daily tasks at work such as lifting, pushing, pulling, bending over, prolonged sitting, etc.
  • Chronic lower back pain may even make it impossible to work, leading to disability.
  • Chronic pain patients’ relationships can be strained, such as a spouse who does not understand your condition
  • Social life suffers – not many people want to go to the movies or go out to dinner if they cannot sit, go to a party if they can’t stand and by the end of the day after you have been fighting the pain all day most people just don’t want to be social
  • Chronic pain patients have difficulty working around the house, both inside

Chronic Pain Stats

Read through these chronic pain statistics provided by paindoctor.com:

Chronic pain statistics in the U.S.

  • Pain affects more people in the U.S. than diabetes, heart disease, and cancer combined
  • 126 million, or 55% of all adults, experienced pain in the previous three months
  • 4 million U.S. adults report “a lot of pain”
  • 3 million U.S. adults suffer from daily pain
  • Various reports list that over 50 million, but up to 100 million, U.S. adults have chronic pain conditions, an estimate that does not include acute pain conditions or children in pain
  • More than one-quarter of adults (26%) age 20 years and over – or, an estimated 76.5 million people – report that they have had a problem with pain of any sort that persisted for more than 24 hours in duration
  • Of those in pain, 27% suffer from lower back pain, 15% from severe headache or migraine pain, and 15% from neck pain

Economic statistics on pain

Pain is a significant public health problem that costs society at least $560-$635 billion annually, an amount equal to about $2,000.00 for everyone living in the U.S.

  • People in the U.S. spend at least $50 billion each year on back pain treatment
  • Pain is associated with a wide range of injury and disease, and is sometimes the disease itself
  • Some conditions may have pain and associated symptoms arising from a discrete cause, such as postoperative pain or pain associated with a malignancy, or may be conditions in which pain constitutes the primary problem, such as neuropathic pains or headaches
  • The total annual incremental cost of health care due to pain ranges from $560 billion to $635 billion (in 2010 dollars) in the United States, which combines the medical costs of pain care and the economic costs related to disability days and lost wages and productivity
  • There are currently over 4,000 U.S. doctors in practice for the management of pain

Back pain statistics

  • Low back pain is the leading cause of disability in the world
  • 80% of U.S. adults will experience back pain at some point in their lives
  • Up to 6 million patients suffer from chronic back pain
  • Adults with lower back pain are often in worse physical and mental health than people who do not have low back pain
  • 28% of adults with lower back pain report limited activity due to a chronic condition, as compared to 10% of adults who do not have lower back pain
  • Also, adults reporting lower back pain were three times as likely to be in fair or poor health
  • Back pain patients are more than four times as likely to experience serious psychological distress as people without lower back pain
  • Back pain is one of the most common reasons for missed work, and the second-leading cause for doctor’s visits”

A Chiropractor Takes Your Pain Seriously

Is pain affecting your life or the life of a loved one? If you read this far it is likely that you or someone close to you is suffering when they may not have to—a chiropractor can help you diagnose and treat the root cause of your pain.

Photo of a man holding his back in pain as a chiropractor and nurse consult with him.

I’ll tell you how chronic pain was effecting “Jane.” Her low back pain goes back 28 years! If that’s not bad enough, her chemo-induced neuropathy goes back 25 years! Jane was having a hard time walking, her balance was getting worse, and she was a fall risk. It was difficult to sleep which made getting through her days a struggle at times.

At the consultation, I could see the fear in her eyes. “Do I have to live like this forever?”

Her exam findings were cause for concern, but I thought we could help her.

I told Jane this and she was skeptical. She was hesitant, and yet she looked me square in the eyes and said, “I’m trusting you.”

As a chiropractor, I do not take that trust lightly. To me every patient’s case is serious, because we know virtually every case can become chronic. As a matter of fact, whether patients realize it or not, our long-term goal is always to keep the patient out of chronic pain!

After a few weeks, Jane is walking better, her sleep is much improved, she feels more steady on her feet, and she’s less of a fall risk. Jane’s quality of life is much improved from her time with a chiropractor, and that’s what it’s all about—improving the quality of people’s life, allowing them to live THEIR lifestyle, not a lifestyle dominated by pain.

An experienced chiropractor can be very helpful in reducing chronic pain and improving the quality of your life. At the Algonquin Chiropractic Center, I’ve been serving the community as a top chiropractor in Algonquin, IL since 1997. If you’re searching for a chiropractor to treat your pain, give us a call (847) 854-2000 and schedule a consultation today!


Meter showing maximum high pain from low back pain.

AMA Study Concludes Chiropractic Works for Low Back Pain

The American Medical Association Finally Says It: Chiropractic Is Effective for Low Back Pain!

Knowing something is true, believing in it, and having hard evidence are very different things. Chiropractors have practiced the art and science of chiropractic care to treat low back pain and other conditions for well over 100 years. We know what we do is safe, effective, and superior to many other forms of healthcare.

Now though, we finally have some long-overdue validation: after years suppressing the chiropractic profession, the American Medical Association has published a study concluding that chiropractic effectively treats low back pain.

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What’s a Herniated Disc and How Can Chiropractic Care Treat It?

Is a Herniated Disc the Cause of Your Pain?

Herniated disc, ruptured disc, disc herniation, slipped disc—these terms all refer to the same injury. We often hear the term “bulging disc,” which is different from a herniation, usually a less severe injury. These disc injuries are very serious and can have a major impact on the quality of your life.

What Causes a Herniated Disk?

According to Web MD:Illustration of a Herniated Disc

“Although a violent injury can damage a disk, problems with disks are often brought on by the normal aging process or by everyday activities, such as lifting heavy objects the wrong way, stretching too hard during a tennis volley, or slipping and falling on an icy sidewalk. Any such event can cause the fibrous outer covering of the disk to break or distort to the point that it presses on a spinal nerve, especially if disk material extrudes. Sometimes, a disk swells, tears, or degenerates without any apparent cause.”

According to Healthline:

“A slipped disk occurs when the outer ring becomes weak or torn and allows the inner portion to slip out. This can happen with age. Certain motions may also cause a slipped disk. A disk can slip out of place while you are twisting or turning to lift an object. Lifting a very large, heavy object can place great strain on the lower back, resulting in a slipped disk. If you have a very physically demanding job that requires a lot of lifting, you may be at increased risk for slipped disks.

Overweight individuals are also at increased risk for a slipped disk because their disks must support the additional weight. Weak muscles and a sedentary lifestyle may also contribute to the development of a slipped disk.

As you get older, you are more likely to experience a slipped disk. This is because your disks begin to lose some of their protective water content as you age. As a result, they can slip more easily out of place. They are more common in men than women.”

To summarize, if you have pre-existing conditions in the spine such as arthritis, tropism or stenosis, you are more prone to a disc injury. Trauma, such as a fall or a car accident, can certainly damage a disc. The most common cause I see in my practice is “idiopathic etiology,” or unknown cause! The pain starts either gradually or suddenly and gets worse in the coming days or weeks.

A herniated disc can cause the classic “sciatica” pain when these damaged discs irritate the sensitive spinal nerves. This pain and tingling can radiate all the way down to the feet and toes! In cases with excessive pressure on the spinal nerves, there may be weakness in the involved leg.

Herniated disc and sciatica symptoms are generally worse in the mornings, as the disc absorbs fluid overnight when patients are non-weight bearing. When the disc absorbs fluid, the disc swells and stretches the pain sensitive disc fibers, which causes pain. The sooner patients can get up and move in the morning, releasing fluid from the disc, the sooner they feel better. First thing in the morning – get up and walk.

This may seem strange, but disc pain will increase with sitting. Sitting increases the pressure on the lumbar discs, putting more pressure on damaged tissues, leading to more pain. Disc patients do not like to sit or drive for prolonged periods and would much rather be active because they feel better.

Lower back and leg pain may increase with coughing, sneezing, laughing, and straining at the stool. These activities increase the pressure in the disc and stretch damaged tissues. Many patients have to “brace” themselves before a cough or sneeze.

With that information, if you have allergies that cause you to sneeze and cough, make sure you are taking steps to control them. If you are prone to constipation, make sure you are taking steps to soften your stool.

Home Care

  • Ice – A good guideline is 15-20 minutes on, then off for 1-2 hours
  • Avoid bed-rest or prolonged sitting or driving – As discussed above, a herniated disc patient needs to keep moving within their pain tolerance.
  • Topical Analgesics – Grandma used Ben-Gay, we all know that smell. We use BioFreeze but all topical analgesics basically do the same thing which is stimulating the cold/hot nerve endings to block pain signals.
  • Gentle stretching – This is not a time for high impact exercises. Knee-chest, cat/camel, and figure-4 stretches are usually safe to start with.
  • Sleeping – Usually best either on your back with a pillow under your knees or on your side with a pillow between your knees and ankles. Try a recliner if those positions don’t work.

Treating a Herniated Disc

First, what do we want to avoid?Image of Pills with X Through - Showing Dangers of Pain Killers

Prolonged use of prescription pain killers – While patients may need meds for the short term, we want to discourage long term use as they can be addictive.

Epidural Steroid Injections – This is not an option we want to start treatment with. Shots don’t heal discs, they just dry up inflammation. In cases that are not responding well, we will have to get a shot and then continue treatment, as our treatments are much more effective after the inflammation is dried up. Shots on their own, however, show a long-term success rate of only 15%.

Surgery – We want to do everything we can to avoid back surgery. People think it is a quick fix. Not true. We know from the British Medical Journal that surgically treated and conservatively treated patients are virtually the same after 1 and 2 years. Why go through the risks, downtime, and expense of surgery if you’re going to be the same?

What do we do?

A complete history, thorough exam, and any necessary imaging are done first to arrive at an accurate diagnosis. If we determine we can help you, we put together an individualized treatment plan specifically for your unique needs.

A treatment plan may consist of:

  • The Cox Technique – A gentle, painless, hands-on spinal decompression therapy that boasts a 91% success rate!
  • Electrical stimulation – Is used to control pain and decrease inflammation.
  • Massage Therapy – The techniques we use break up adhesions, loosens scar tissue, relaxes muscles, improves range of motion, and improves posture.
  • Vibration Therapy – Will increase core strength and improve posture 3-4 times faster than traditional rehab.
  • Super Pulsed Laser – Accelerates soft tissue healing by increasing cellular energy and improving circulation.
  • Custom Orthotics – Correcting foot bio-mechanics puts the feet, knees, hips, pelvis, and lumbar spine in better alignment, which decreases stress on the spinal discs.
  • Rehabilitation (Exercise) – We start with gentle stretching and pain-relieving exercises, and progress to core-strengthening and full-body exercises.
  • Spinal Bracing – Has been shown to limit the movement of the trunk, provide stability, and increase your tolerance to daily activities.

In disc herniation and sciatica cases, we look for 50% improvement in the first 2-4 weeks. If the patient is improving, we will continue to treat. If not, we will consider an MRI, as well as a consultation with our orthopedic surgeon and our pain management doctor.

If the patient has “red flags,” such as cauda equina syndrome (where patients may lose control of their bowel and bladder), progressive neurologic deficit (patient has weakness that is rapidly getting worse), or any indication of a fracture, tumor, or infection, the patient will be referred out on an emergent basis. The good news is these are relatively rare complications, so if you’re ready to see what chiropractic care can do for you, call the Algonquin Chiropractic Center. We’ve been treating herniated discs in Algonquin and the surrounding Chicago area for years, and will give your condition he attention it needs.

Be Well.

Call for your consultation 847-854-2000.

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Our Mission – To educate and inform patients so you can make educated decisions to improve your health.
Algonquin Chiropractic Center
2210 Huntington Drive North
Algonquin, IL 60102
(847) 854-2000

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