Don’t ignore this important early warning sign when it comes to lower-back pain!


Do you have lower-back pain that comes and goes when you’ve been standing for a long time? If so, this may be a warning sign! Individuals who experience lower-back pain while standing (even when they have no prior history of lower-back pain) are much more likely to develop clinical lower-back pain in the next three years.

According to a recent study published in the journal Spine, 35% of participants who reported lower-back pain while standing for a prolonged period developed clinical lower-back pain within the next three years, compared with 23% who DID NOT report lower-back pain while standing.


Neuropathy is a painful and potentially debilitating nerve condition that affects patients’ health and quality of life. The Neuropathy Association is committed to raising awarenessabout warning signs, early detection and treatment.

Dr. Thomas H. Brannagan, III is the association’s medical adviser and a member. He offers this perspective: “While early intervention and treatment can be critical to slowing the disease’s progression, our biggest challenge is many Americans still do not know about neuropathy, are unaware they have it, and do not recognize warning signs, which can include weakness, numbness, tingling, and pain, especially in the hands and feet. If ignored, these symptoms can lead to persistent weakness, loss of sensation or unremitting pain,”

Life is simply too short to live with this kind of pain and discomfort. Help is available. Please call or visit our office to learn more.

Life Balance

We talk a lot about “balance” in our lives. Many times, we mean this figuratively (as in work-life balance or a balanced diet). Today, though, we thought we’d share some information about your sense of balance—literally.

Your sense of balance is managed in your brain’s cerebellum, the area responsible for movement and coordination. We say “managed” because balance requires your brain to process and combine information from three separate systems in your body—visual (your eyes), vestibular (your inner ear) and proprioceptive (your body’s sense of its own position in space). After about 40, all of these systems start to deteriorate. And having a sedentary lifestyle actually contributes to this deterioration by deemphasizing the vestibular and proprioceptive systems. HOWEVER, by performing a few simple exercises and staying active throughout your 30s and 40s, you can actually preserve and improve your sense of balance.

So how steady are you now? This great infographic from the Wall Street Journal can help give you some idea. The movements pictured here are adapted from the Berg Balance Scale and the Tinetti Test. These are two tools commonly used to evaluate balance…

To rinse or not to rinse—does it make a difference?


Here are some “NOTABLE QUOTES” from a recent interview that you might find helpful. Dr Michael Doyle is a professor of food microbiology and director of the Center for Food Safety at the University of Georgia.

“Washing produce with tap water should help reduce residual pesticides and any dirt on the surface, where listeria and other bacteria often harbor.” However, if bacteria are present deep in the leafy greens that have been cut, “the extra washing you do at home isn’t going to help.” Once leaves have been cut, surface microbes can become entrapped, “there is no washing it out, no matter what you do.”

What else can you do? “Removing the outer peel has been one of the strategies for avoiding illnesses when visiting foreign countries for a long time. And it can apply at home.”

Avoid eating alfalfa and bean sprouts until after they’re cooked. “Because of the way they are grown and washed, you cannot be sure that they are not harmful…”

“I always rinse my produce under the tap.”

10% of the world suffers with back pain.


Did you know? Researchers have found that nearly 10% of the global population suffers from back pain. In fact, lower back pain is actually the cause of more disability around the world than 291 other health conditions identified by 117 prior studies!

A separate study by investigators in Australia and the U.S. looking at 20 YEARS WORTH OF DATA FROM 187 COUNTRIES came to the conclusion that lower back pain is responsible for 1/3 of all work related disabilities.

So if you or someone you care about is suffering from lower back pain, you’re certainly not alone. The good news is that we can help. Just call or visit the office to learn more!

Bone Health Becoming an Issue for Larger Numbers of Younger People

Osteoporosis—a condition involving the loss of bone density—is most often associated with aging in postmenopausal women. However, the healthcare community is seeing more cases of early bone lose among both men and women. In some cases, the problem seems to stem from other diseases or the medications being used to treat them. These cases are sometimes referred to as “secondary osteoporosis”.

Patients with rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease, anorexia nervosa, inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes and cancer seem to be at risk. So too are patients taking some types of acid reflux medications, blood thinners, depression drugs, hormonal treatments, and corticosteroids.

However, physicians are also encountering more problems with bone health related to patients’ lifestyle choices, including smoking, alcohol use, poor diet and inactivity.

So what’s to be done? Patients who may be at risk for low bone density may want to consider bone mineral density scans, treatment of other conditions that trigger bone loss, exercises that stimulate bone growth and bone-friendly nutritional changes as well as vitamin D and calcium supplements.

Getting Junk food Ads Out of Our Schools

Last month, the government proposed new nutrition rules for food served in America’s schools. The new rules will apply to all schools that participate in the National School Lunch Program starting with the 2014-2015 school year.
Last summer, the U.S. restricted the number of calories as well as the amount of fat, sugar and salt that could be present in schools’ snack foods. The food is also required to contain a certain proportion of healthy ingredients. The next step is to eliminate all advertising related to foods that don’t meet the government’s new nutrition requirements.

The First Lady had this to say about her campaign to fight childhood obesity:

“I think we can all agree that our classrooms should be healthy places where kids are not bombarded with ads for junk food.”

Exercise variety.


When it comes to exercise, variety isn’t just the spice of life—it’s the key to actually being fit as well as reducing the risk of repetitive motion injuries.

Particularly for athletes who are accustomed to preparing for endurance events like marathons or triathlons, there’s a risk of confusing endurance (or “conditioning”) with all-around fitness. It’s not the same thing. A well-rounded approach to training should also improve strength, balance and flexibility.

Mixing it up is good thing! This is the logic behind ideas like “cross-training” and “muscle confusion”.

Richard Cotton, an exercise physiologist and the American College of Sports Medicine’s national director of certification, has a few useful things to say on the subject:

“Doing the same activity every day, whether it’s typing at a computer or running, inevitably causes stress on your joints, which can lead to injury.”

“The easiest way to get variety is to try something new.”

Dr. Cotton recommends an overall baseline fitness program that’s 50% aerobic, 40% strength and 10% flexibility. He also offers this idea for keeping things varied: Write three different exercises for each muscle group on a separate index card, creating a “deck” for each muscle group. Draw an exercise from each deck and add it to your workout while mixing up the number of reps.

“Half of a Drug’s Power Comes From Thinking It Will Work”

That’s the headline of a recent article on NPR’s Shots blog that discusses a new study designed to help researchers and clinicians understand the “placebo effect”.

Findings from this study and others like it highlight the powerful role that a patient’s own expectations can play when it comes to the success of a particular treatment in reducing the patient’s perception of symptoms. And this is true for a wide variety of treatment types—from prescription drugs and surgery to complementary and alternative medicine.

Fascinating research from Harvard Medical School… The intersection of medicine and psychology…

Here’s Some Good News About Americans’ Eating Habits!

There are some encouraging signs of small behavioral changes that (if they stick and expand) could help turn the tide on some of the country’s nutrition-related health issues. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, working-age adults on average consumed 118 fewer calories per day in 2009-2010 than they did four years prior. They also reported fewer restaurant visits and more home-cooked meals and were more likely to read nutritional labels on food at the grocery store. While most experts agree that these modest changes on their own will not roll back the nation’s obesity rates (up to 36% in 2009-2010 from 15% in 1980, according the CDC), they believe they might be signs of a new pattern.

Here’s a graphic (courtesy of the January 17 edition of the Wall Street Journal) that shows some of the finer shifts in what Americans are eating across the past ten years. The data is from NPD Group’s National Eating Trends In-Home/Away-From-Home database (years ending in February).

The good news: Fruit consumption is up, while fruit juice has declined. The bad news: Salad fell off the top-10 list altogether in 2011, replaced by salty snacks…