Chiropractic and Diarrhea
This is a personal story, because it happened to me this past month. Most of the best medical stories are anecdotes rather than research papers, so here's an anecdotal case study for you!
Just like many people in the Peoria area and around the country, I had a case of the flu in January. It involved several days of feeling exhausted, achy, and feverish, so I spent a couple days laying around without much energy to move. That's pretty typical for the flu, and there were no other health escalations or worries.
However, I noticed that as soon as I started feeling better I had diarrhea with early morning and late evening abdominal cramps. This is unusual. Many times people will talk about the "stomach flu", but the truth is that real influenza does not cause gastrointestinal problems. If you're nauseated or throwing up, you probably don't have the flu. Influenza is an upper respiratory illness only.
I had never experienced this pairing of symptoms, so I thought I'd keep an eye on it. So I noticed that the diarrhea just did not improve at all over the next couple weeks. Frankly, I had thought that once my body recovered from the flu, then it would work on healing whatever it was that was causing my diarrhea. But it now didn't seem so simple.
So I embarked on what I consider to be a fairly typical way to address diarrhea using non-pharmaceutical methods. First, I drank plenty of water to make sure that I didn't dehydrate. Then I started changing my diet, one item at a time. I started eating more fiber like bran cereal, then stopped when it made no change. I went several days without drinking a beer. I increased my intake of whole fruits and vegetables like bananas. (I do not drink coffee or cola so I didn't have to change my caffeine intake. I had not recently taken any antibiotics.)
But, nope. Nothing was making it better. It was now about four to five weeks of diarrhea, loose stools. There was no blood in my stool and I didn't have a fever, so I assumed that my colon was still healthy and I didn't have an infection. This was just flat-out mysterious.
There were other remedies that I was ready to try, such as a 24-hour liquid diet to rest the bowels, neutroceuticals, and pharmaceuticals.
But then I remembered something important, which made me feel a bit foolish. I hadn't yet tried chiropractic care. And I'm a chiropractor! Sometimes we all miss what's right in front of us. So, I started looking at my own symptoms in a whole new light, and tried to process my case as though I was a patient.
My diarrhea had begun after the flu, but what if it wasn't related to the flu at all? What if it was caused by simply lying around in a bed and saggy couch for several days in a row? What if that poor posture for several days had affected my spinal lumbar curve? What if, even though I didn't have low back pain, the lumbar curve problem was irritating the nerves that leave my spinal cord to tell the colon what do?
We know that the nervous system acts as a muscle inhibitor. In other words, when the nerves are functioning properly, they tell muscles NOT to contract. And when the nerves are not functioning properly, the muscles will contract on their own just because that's what they like to do. We also know that people can have spinal problems without having pain, because pain is a poor predictor of low-level nerve irritation.
So, I now theorized, I might be experiencing a chiropractic problem, where my nerves were inhibited due to a postural problem, allowing the muscles of my colon to move the food through WAY TOO FAST instead of compacting the foot into nice, proper, solid stool.
I received an Activator Methods chiropractic adjustment, and the diarrhea cleared up, like magic. That night I had no gassy feeling and the following morning I had no diarrhea at all. Just a perfect bowel movement.
The diarrhea returned the following day, as sometimes happens with longstanding problems. Spinal or muscular habits don't usually disappear immediately, but take a couple of repeated reminders to form proper habits. So I returned for a couple more Activator Methods chiropractic adjustments, and I'm happy to state that the diarrhea has now cleared up entirely.
Some might say that's coincidence, but mild cases of diarrhea don't typically linger for 5+ weeks, and more severe cases of diarrhea don't typically respond to chiropractic care alone. So I think it's very likely that my current theory is correct (even though it took me far too long to think of it!). I think my poor posture initiated a cascade effect where my spinal problem gave me no pain but only one symptom: diarrhea. And rather than treat it with drugs, I only needed to treat it with chiropractic care after all.
Chiropractic and diarrhea. They might not be unrelated after all.
Chiropractic Protects Your Health
Chiropractic is not just about pain relief. Very often, patients present to our office seeking not pain relief, but the ability to do their favorite hobbies once again. For example, if you have gardened for thirty years and have lost the ability to bend over, it's likely not the pain that will encourage you to seek chiropractic care. You will come to Johnson Family Chiropractic hoping to be able to bend over again, so you can continue gardening. Many different types of activities, called "functions", may be what someone is trying to regain. Functions can be as simple as bending over, or as complicated as scrapbooking or walking a mile.
These "functional" patients are very often over the age of 65. As we age, we slowly lose the ability to do the things that we used to be able to do. It is very important for chiropractors to examine and document not only these patients' pain improvements, but also their functional improvements. In fact, Medicare, the insurer of most Peoria area individuals over the age of 65, asks all chiropractors to measure all patient's ability to function.
With that in mind, why do "functional" patients tend to come to the chiropractor? It seems that many people instinctively know that chiropractic, being a physical science, is well-placed to help them with their physical limitations. I have certainly seen chiropractic restore functions to many patients, but that is only anecdotal evidence. What if I were asked to back up my claim with hard evidence: "Are chiropractic patients able to do more than non-chiropractic patients? How does their functional capacity compare? And how about if these patients are over the age of 65?"
A new article published in last month's prestigious Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics (JMPT) attempts to answer these questions by examining how Medicare chiropractic patients compared to Medicare medical patients in the areas of function, health, and satisfaction with care. The short answer is that the "study provides evidence of a protective effect of chiropractic care against 1-year declines in functional and self-rated health among Medicare beneficiaries with spine conditions, and indications that chiropractic users have higher satisfaction with follow-up care and information provided about what is wrong with them."
So, not only do chiropractic patients have better function and health, but chiropractic actually provides a protective benefit!
The article also notes that recent medical spending for spinal-related health conditions have increased at a much higher rate and a much higher amount than chiropractic care, showing again how effective and cost-effective chiropractic can be.
From the article:
This study found prevalence of chiropractic use among age-eligible Medicare beneficiaries consistent with that of the US adult population, but among those seeking care for spine problems, we observed a much higher prevalence rate. Service volume trends between 1997 and 2006 showed growth in the average number of services used to treat spine conditions, although the percentage growth of chiropractic services was nearly flat compared with overall service volume growth. Medicare spending on spine conditions grew as a consequence of higher service volume and more expensive services, although spending on chiropractic was relatively flat and declined as a percentage of total spending among those choosing chiropractic.
You might be surprised to learn that chiropractors can help with a lot more than just back pain and headaches. In fact, a variety of conditions are treated on a daily basis at Johnson Family Chiropractic of Peoria and other chiropractic offices. The most common conditions are low back pain, neck pain, and headaches, followed very closely by... shoulder pain. Doctors of chiropractic can and do help with a large number of shoulder conditions, since many shoulder problems do not require surgery.
The first and most important question when dealing with shoulder pain is: what is the cause of the problem? Shoulder pain can be the result of structural damage in and around the shoulder and arm (such as a torn muscle, torn labrum, ligament damage, bone cyst, fracture, etc.) or it can also be referred pain from problems in the neck (such as a pinched nerve, brachial plexus compression, disc herniation, etc.).
Since there are so many different types of shoulder pain, and so many different possible shoulder conditions, it is important to have your shoulder pain examined by a doctor of chiropractic. Many shoulder conditions can be properly diagnosed and identified without the use of X-rays, MRI, or CAT scans, since your explanation of your shoulder pain and the doctor's examinations and tests can usually point to the source of the problem. Sometimes shoulder pain is complicated enough to require more invasive treatments such as shots or surgery, however, and a proper diagnosis and referral from a chiropractic physician may be exactly what you need.
If you have shoulder pain, you don't have to live with it. Make sure to contact your local chiropractor right away for a proper diagnosis, and to make sure that you don't make the problem worse by accidentally overusing your shoulder. If you live in the Peoria area, call or stop by Johnson Family Chiropractic of Peoria. We'll be glad to help.
When Knee Pain Is Not Knee Pain
When most of us think of knee pain, we immediately think of sports injuries to this vulnerable and unprotected joint. But not all knee pain is the result of trauma to the area or ligament injuries from twisting or falling. There are many other reasons for knee pain at the joint itself, such as infection, overuse, age, bursitis, aneurysm, cyst, tumor, etc.
But this isn't meant to scare you. Usually, when the knee joint is the cause of the pain, it will be very obvious to your doctor. Most often, you will remember the trauma (if any) and be able to describe it in detail.
Surprisingly, however, many cases of knee pain have nothing to do with the knee itself.
A patient was recently advised by a health care provider to take Vitamin D supplements between meals in order to boost absorption of the Vitamin D. She was surprised at this advice, because she had always heard that vitamins should be taken with meals. She approached me with this question: "Should I take Vitamin D with a meal or without?"
Here's the short answer: On limited evidence, it appears that Vitamin D supplements are best absorbed if taken with the largest meal of the day.
Unless otherwise attributed, all content is written by Kyle Johnson, DC, of Johnson Family Chiropractic of Peoria.
All images used are under Creative Commons license.
Although every effort has been made to provide an accurate description of our chiropractic care and its benefits, the information given on this website and blog is not intended to be, nor should it be interpreted as, medical advice for any condition.
If you have any questions regarding your condition, you should seek the help of Dr. Johnson in person, so that he may properly assess your condition.
This blog is provided by Johnson Family Chiropractic of Peoria, S.C., proudly located in Peoria, IL.