Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Managing Knee Pain, Naturally

Knee pain is a major contributor to lost time at work, a decrease in quality of life activities and can be a huge limiting factor in being able to participate in a healthy fitness program.  So, this week I'd like to take time to discuss the knee and some of the common conditions that can be resolved without drugs or surgery.

Probably the most common knee disorder is osteoarthritis of the knee.  KOA, as it is referred to in medical journals, is responsible for millions of doctor visits annually and billions of dollars in health care expense.  And the reality of KOA is this:  nothing will provide a "cure" outside of a knee replacement.  The good news is that we can manage KOA quite well using a variety of procedures and applications.  For example, maintaining healthy, proper joint alignment with chiropractic is key to reducing the inflammatory effects of arthritis in the knee.  Using a custom orthotic in the shoe to reduce the shock on the knee joint during the gait cycle is tremendously beneficial for KOA.  Omega 3 Fatty Acids are also a good therapy to combat the inflammation in the knee joint.  Dosage is dependent on body size and activity level.

Another very common knee disorder is IT Band Friction Syndrome.  This condition results in lateral, or outside, knee pain with no real knee pathology.  The IT Band is a long fibrous connective tissue that runs from the lateral hip, down the outside of the leg, crossing over the knee joint and attaching to the outside of the tibia. 

The IT Band functions in helping support the hips and providing stability while standing and walking.  Because the band crosses the knee joint, if the IT Band gets strained, it can cause pain in the area in which it crosses the knee.  Many times it can be misdiagnosed as a meniscus problem or degenerative arthritis.  IT Band Friction Syndrome is best treated using ultrasound therapy, active release muscle therapy, stretching of the Gluteal, Piriformis and Tensor Fascia muscle groups, as well as alignment of the pelvis with a chiropractic adjustment.

Don't let knee pain slow you down and, certainly, if you are having knee pain, have it properly evaluated by a professional so that you can have the appropriate treatment to get you back in the game of life!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Hugs, Not Drugs

I read a very sad article yesterday about the rise in the number of teen deaths related to prescription drug abuse. It angers me to the core when I hear or read such stories as those needless deaths are 100% preventable. I know your immediate thought is "How are they preventable?", but give a moment and I'll lay it out for you.

First, let me tell you about my incredibly smart and energetic young English Setter named Zeke. Zeke is one of the most intelligent and trainable dogs I've ever been around. He has been amazing since the day I brought him home. For instance, when I first let him out for some exercise, we make our way to the tall grass surrounding the pond behind our home. It is here where he takes care of his business, if you know what I mean! And 4-5 times a day I would let him out to run, take him to the tall grass and let him get after it. Now, after a few short months, I can be exercising him, walking with him or just letting him roam and when he feels the need to do his stuff, he finds the tall grass. Deep inside that canine brain is neurologic pathway that connects his need to relieve himself and tall grass. How did that connection get made? Training. Over and over the tall grass was connected to the need for relief. From the consistent training we now have a new behavior. So, okay, enough about Zeke, back to these poor kids.

I wonder how many of the kids that use drugs illegally were given meds as young children? I would be willing to bet my right arm that every single one of them has or had at one point been given a medication to make them "feel better." We have created a culture where there is a pill for every ill. A culture that promotes taking medication for everything from a sore neck to a limp...well, you know where I was going.

So lets talk about little Sally. Sally was brought into the world by 2 loving parents that wanted to do everything they could to give her a great life. As an infant, though, Sally had lots of problems with ear infections and was always taking some kind of medicine to help ease those "painful ear aches." As she grew into toddlerhood, frequent colds and tummy aches along with the "usual" fevers and growing pains afforded Mommy the opportunity to push more medication into Sally to help her continue to "feel good." As Sally moves into those wonderful grade school years, she continues to have "the usual" childhood issues with hayfever, colds, runny noses and the like, all of which a loving Mommy doles out the meds. For the first 12 years of Sally's precious life, her loving Mommy has been training her to "go to the tall grass to relieve herself." No, wait. I mean... er? Mommy, who loves her little girl so much, has been training her daughter to believe that pills and drugs will make her feel better. And she has done such a good job at it that a new behavior has developed. "Mommy, my head hurts. May I please have some Tylenol?" Inside Sally's cute little brain, new neurologic connections have been created that link the idea of "feeling good" to "taking a drug". Just like Zeke learned to use the tall grass to make himself feel better, Sally has learned that drugs will "make her feel all better."

Now, fast forward to Sally at age 16. 16 years of training her brain that drugs make me feel better. Mommy and Daddy decide they don't love each other and get a divorce. Sally's best friend has to move away because her parents get divorced. Sally's new boyfriend decides he likes Amy more and dumps her, and, oh by the way, tells everyone in school that Sally is _____(you fill in the blank). Sally doesn't feel to good right now. Training and instinct kick in and Sally turns to what she has been taught and seeks out something to make her feel better. It doesn't matter if it's right or wrong, legal or illegal because her brain has been hardwired to know that "drugs make me feel all better."

This type of training of young minds happends around the US everyday and it's time to stop! Rather than doling out Tylenol likes it's M&M's, how about a hug? It's amazing what a little down time and hug can do to help a child feel better. Rather than giving medicines, give a little time, love and tenderness. Most childhood illnesses and problems are self-healing within hours, if not days. So the next time your son or daughter doesn't feel good, give her a hug.

Hugs, not drugs people. That's how we heal the world.

Please be sure to check back regularly for more insights. In the meantime, why don't you stop by my website at and explore! Be Well!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

REAL Health Care Reform (Part 2)

We know the problem, health care is expensive and the cost is destroying our economy. So, what is the solution. If only it were that simple...just spew out an answer. The issue with finding a solution is that so many people have so much to lose that no one is able to offer up a sufficient plan.

As a father, husband and health care provider, I'd like to offer my humble suggestion to the powers that be on a viable solution to our health care crisis.

1. Offer a catastrophic policy available to anyone and everyone who is willing to pay (be taxed) for such policy. The purpose of this policy is to protect Americans from a family catastrophe such as cancer, heart attack or stroke. These diseases and their treatment are crippling to families, as are many others not listed. This catastrophic policy has a $10,000.00 deductible with a $12,000 out of pocket portion. This means that the policy holder pays the first $10K of health care bills, 20% of the next portion until the out of pocket expense reaches $12K. At this point the catastrophic policy begins paying 100%. This policy will have a limit of reimbursement to the health care providers based on individual utilization of services. For instance, reimbursement to the providers would be at usual and customary fees for the first $25K in services, then a decreasing percentage as the services increase. It may look something like this: 0-25K reimburses providers at 100%, 26-50K at 80%, 51-75K at 70% and over $76K in procedures is 60%. How this looks in the real world would be something like this: A young boy is sent to Mayo Clinic for diagnosis of rare disease. Over a period of 17 days the family racks up a bill of $260K. The Clinic would be paid 100% of the first $25K in bills, 80% of the next $25K and so on. This plan would offer the following benefits in the Health Crisis:
  • Universal coverage available to anyone and everyone.
  • Rates are low so that the majority of Americans could CHOOSE to have it.
  • Significant cost containment with the high deductible and descending reimbursement rates.
  • Higher quality in care as Physicians will make better decisions regarding testing and treatment as Health Care Facilities will want to maximize the highest reimbursement rates to prevent losing money. Instead of trying to treat "on the cheap" to save money, care would be delivered on the "best possible"standard.
2. Free market Insurance Plans offered by the usual's (BlueCross, Medica, etc) aimed at filling the gap created by the high deductible of the Universal Plan. Insurance companies would be allowed to compete for consumers business by offering a variety of plans based on consumer needs. The purpose of these plans would be to cover the large deductible of the Universal Plan, ie. a plan may pay 80/20 of that initial $10K. These plans would be filled with wellness incentives that would help reduce consumer expenses and, ultimately, reduce insurance expenditures. One example would be smoking. If you smoke, and no we are not picking on you here as facts are facts, your policy will cost more as your utilization will be higher than a non-smoker. However, incentives to quit built in to your plan would allow you to save money the longer you are insured as a "non-smoker." The same can be seen for obesity. Insurers would also offer Wellness Plans that pay for services from providers aimed at keeping one healthy, similar to what they are doing now with Fitness Membership reimbursment. The key to these policies would be in rewarding the policyholder with lower rates by making lifestyle and health changes that reduce their risk for chronic, late in life diseases that are the most costly like diabetes and cancer.

3. Develop a co-pay system for the Universal and Private policies that makes the consumer responsible for a larger portion of "routine" office visits. This would drive up the the quality of care delivered as the consumer would now choose a clinic or physician based on standard market factors rather than if they are "in" my network. Under this system, clinics and doctors would compete for consumers business just as other businesses must compete to survive. When the consumer is given the chance to choose, wasteful spending will be reduced and results will improve.

So there you have it. Does it solve all of our problems? I think it's a great start and with any new idea it would have to evolve to meet the changes in the market, but I think overall it has great merit. I'd love to hear first impressions on my ideas as they are just that, ideas.

Please be sure to check back regularly for more insights. In the meantime, why don't you stop by my website at and explore! Be Well!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

REAL Health Care Reform

In the midst of an ever changing landscape in our great country, few thoughts of change stir the proverbial pot like Health Care Reform. For many, this is an uncomfortable topic, much like sitting at a restaurant watching another family's children have a food fight. You know you should do or say something to the parents about the kids' behavior, but in reality, what good would it do since behind the closed doors of home, nothing would change.

To me, Health Care Reform must begin by changing the mindset of Americans from thinking that someone else is responsible for me and my health, to taking full personal responsibility for it. In comparison, when was the last time you expected State Farm or GM to pay to have your oil changed in your car, or the weekly car wash in the winter to get rid of the damaging salt build up or the turn signal bulb that burned out? Sometimes I sit back and scratch my head and wonder where America went wrong? When did we begin to believe that someone else is responsible for my well being? So with that, I believe, the first and most crucial step in Health Care Reform is the re-emergence of personal responsibility.

Secondly, Insurance Companies and the decision makers in those companies need a complete make-over. Nearly everyday in my practice a patient is denied coverage for necessary services by a nurse with lesser training and education than me, or, worse yet, a paper pushing numbers cruncher whose statistical analysis says my recommendations don't fit within "their established treatment parameters." But once again, I don't blame the insurance industry for this as they are a business trying to make a profit. In my opinion, the root of the problem here is the "profit." People, we must remember that the insurance industry is not out for our best interests when it comes to our health. Their decisions are made based on numbers, data and the bottom line: profit and loss.

It is for these two reasons that I feel that REAL Health Care Reform will only come our way when the business of health care becomes exposed for what it is, business. Let me expand on this idea. When was the last time you made a trip to the grocery store and paid only 20% for the food in your cart? Have you ever gone to Macy's and bought a $1800 suit because your clothing deductible was met? I know it sounds crazy, but that's the reality we face. The business of Health Care has been cloaked in a gown of royalty that appears to make it exempt from standard consumer/business practices. But here is the kicker. Behind the doors of all the large clinics and medical facilities and hospitals is a person with an MBA operating that facility like a standard business. Looking at bottom lines, services rendered, payroll and the likes and is establishing policies and procedures to increase the utilization of the products and services offered to patients to increase revenue. The crazy part about all of this is that these policies are built on the predication that someone other than the person receiving the products and services will pay the bill! People wonder why the cost of health care has gone's right there.

Unfortunately there is more to get to, but not enough time to do so today, so be sure to check back for Part II on REAL Health Care reform when I offer my unique solutions.

Please be sure to check back regularly for more insights. In the meantime, why don't you stop by my website at and explore! Be Well!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Living in the Middle

What goes up, must come down. At least that's what the song says. If you were to chart your emotional tenor on a graph everyday for the next 20 years you would be able to look back and see just how much fluctuation there is in your life. You would also see that immediately following the most spectacularly elated and exciting times in your life would be some of the most depressing and gloomy times.

We live in a balanced universe. For every high, there must be a low. For every up, a down. Every positive has a negative. The true master of their life lives in the middle. Never letting themselves get too high or too low because they know the cost of doing so. The master doesn't let herself get caught up in the positives, but sees the whole picture. Let me give you an example.

Remember when you met your spouse or significant other? All you could see were the positives. If someone would ask you why you liked her, you could write a book. If they asked about her flaws or faults, the response is generally "there are none." All you were focused on were the positives. Meanwhile, she was still a controlling, spend-happy, "it's all about me" little daddy's girl. But you just didn't see it. Now, years later, the infatuation and elation is gone and all you see is the negative. What happened to the beautiful, funny, sexy, adventurous woman you met 10 years ago? Where did she go?

She's still there my friend, you're just not looking with the same set of eyes. The master lives in the middle seeing both sides of the equation, the positive and negative. If you are struggling right now, take a step back and ask yourself, "Where is my focus?" Are focused on all the negatives right now? Get out a pencil and paper and draw a line down the middle. On one side write all of the positive words that you could use to describe the person, situation or event you are dealing with. Once you are done, switch sides. Keep writing until you just can't find anymore words. Make sure the list is balanced with same number of positives and negatives. When you are done, sit back and truly feel what you feel now. I guarantee you won't feel the same as when you started!

Please be sure to check back regularly for more insights. In the meantime, why don't you stop by my website at and explore! Be Well!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Fear and Guilt

Have you ever met someone that knew exactly what to say all the time? If you were talking about motorcycles he would expound on his favorites, or in conversation about eating right she had all the information on the tip of her tongue. These are the same people that dream big and make great plans yet never end up getting anywhere. If they are in business, they can present the most creative and exciting business plan that will knock your socks off. If she's a stay at home mom, she has the best kids that ALWAYS eat right, take naps when they are supposed and never sass back. I know you know the type. If you are like me, I am sure you have wondered on many occasions why the reality that they live does not match the conjecture that they spew.

I know you've seen her dragging her kids around the mall with them misbehaving terribly, or better yet, with an ice cream cone in one hand and cotton candy in the other. Well one principle I have learned over the years is that "actions never lie." If you want to know the truth about someone, watch what they do and ignore what they say. An authentic person who is true to herself and those around her will live the tale she tells. Others, who are less authentic, will draw 2 separate pictures- one in words and the other in actions. So why is that? Is it really that hard for some people to be authentic and honest? YES!

For most, the inability to appear less than or inadequate stirs up deep feelings of fear. These folks are paralyzed by the thought of not appearing as if they have their poop in a group. They are more concerned about an image that they hold of themselves rather than reality. The fear of being "found out" drives them to deeper and greater separations from the truth.

For the rest, it is the guilt of making a mistake in the past that motivates them. "I'm never going to let that happen again" is the mantra that runs through their mind, and, ultimately controls their life. Guilt is a powerful force that can and will move a person to lie, cheat and steal to maintain their self-percieved image.

If you know someone whose actions are not congruent with their words, be a friend and tell them. Most are unaware, oblivious to this simple truth. Awareness is the key to losing the "false front" and finding your true authentic self. Remember, fear and guilt are not real, but imaginary evils that exist only to protect our shallow ego. Becoming authentic with yourself and those around you can transform relationships, mend old emotional wounds and get you back on the path to your best life!

Please be sure to check back regularly for more insights. In the meantime, why don't you stop by my website at and explore! Be Well!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Who Is Responsible For Me?

Change. It seems to be a popular word today in our culture. I read about the need for change in newspapers and on the web, and hear about it from TV and talk radio. Things must change. Things have to change. This is the mantra of 2008-09...change.

While society screams for change, I sit back and ask myself, "what needs to change?" Better yet, "who needs to change?" Of late I've come to the conclusion that each of us must begin to accept responsibility for our own lives. We cannot possibly expect someone else to "change" my life, my experience here on earth. No one is responsible for my health, happiness, well-being, success or one but ME!

When was the last time you took inventory of your life and truly accepted the responsibility of the choices you've made in the past 3-5 years? When was the last time you looked in the mirror and said "NO MORE!"? Everyday I meet people that expect someone else or something else to make them feel better. We have become a society of dependents, requiring someone else or something else to solve our individual problems. And, to top it off, the vast majority of the folks want it to happen now!, not tomorrow or heaven forbid in a week or two.

Many of the health conditions people deal with on a daily basis have stemmed from choices they have made in the past and when confronted about those choices, most choose not to accept responsibility. It's my Dad's fault, it's my genes, it's because of where I live. People are very creative when it comes to deflecting responsibility.

The real truth is that YOU are responsible for YOU! If you are overweight, only you can change the way you eat and exercise. If you have headaches, only you can make the decision to quit popping pills and get the proper treatment. If you have high blood pressure, only you can decide to quit smoking, eat less and exercise more. No pill, potion, lotion or person can "change" you. It is all up to you!

I tell my patients everyday that the desire for the results of the change being made in your life must be greater than the desire for the change itself. Why do you want to be fit? Why do you not want to have headaches? Why do you want to sleep better at night?

The moment you decide to take responsibility for not only your health, but your life, your life will improve.

Please be sure to check back regularly for more insights. In the meantime, why don't you stop by my website at and explore! Be Well!