Ask Dr. Andrew | Answers, Part 1

Dr. Andrew Haig

At The Joint our model is to make chiropractic care affordable and convenient. Under this model, we understand sometimes our patients may have questions that cannot be answered in the time-frame allowed for their visit. So we recently emailed everyone to give you the opportunity to send us your questions for Dr Andrew. Following you will find many of the questions we received along with Dr. Andrew’s responses. Have a question for Dr. Andrew not answered below?
Click here to submit your question to Dr Andrew.

Questions from our first “Ask Dr. Andrew” session. Click a link to jump to any question.

Question: Dear Dr. Andrew, will torn shoulder labrum muscles heal in time?

Dr. Andrew: Torn muscles will heal in time. However, if they are not rehabilitated properly, elements such as scar tissue, adhesions, etc. will limit their effectiveness after the fact. After a labrum tear the goal is to restore as much of a proper range of motion across that joint as possible. If the muscles are not fully rehabilitated in their proper fashion, it’s possible that future restrictions can happen which will not service well in the end.

Question: Dear Dr. Andrew, I have had what seems to be some sort of dermatitis on my arm on and off for the last 4 months. Itchiness, sometimes a rash. Nothing quite seems to relieve it. I haven’t changed anything in my environment (soap, detergent, foods), so I don’t think that’s the cause. I have read that pressure on the nerves in the C6 and C7 area can create hyper sensitivity in the skin on my arms. Do you have any info or insight into the possibility of this very irritating condition?

Dr. Andrew: Dermatitis is a little bit out of the scope of chiropractic. It is more of a dermatologist expertise. However, relative to the neurology of the arms, yes, there are the lower nerve routes from C5, C6, C7, C8 that do in fact innervate and work through the arms and can be as superficial as the skin. So there is a possibility that irritation across those nerves, to some extent, can cause sensitivity across the skin. The skin is the biggest organ in your body. Barring the fact that you haven’t really changed anything relative to your diet, detergents, soaps or any of those kinds of things, it may be fair to assume that there may be something happening that chiropractic care could help. In addition, I would recommend consulting a dermatologist, if you have not already done so.

Question: Dear Dr. Andrew, what is the best way to sleep to ensure optimal spinal alignment and to avoid soreness in the morning? Sleep position, pillow, or no pillow, mattress firmness. Thank you.

Dr. Andrew: Sleep questions can be a toss up because all of our bodies are different. The guarantee is that we don’t ever want anyone sleeping on their stomach. Sleeping on your stomach will produce a whole lot of stress across the lower back and the neck. Relative to sleeping on you’re side or sleeping on your back, I believe that both are equally okay. The goal is to remember that your mattress should be on the firmer side of soft or firm. Of course firm is a relative term, because firm for me may not be firm for you. However, you want the mattress to be firm so that it’s supportive for your body. And, relative to pillows, if you’re sleeping on your back you want the thickness of the pillow to be under your neck supporting that C shaped curve, though not so thick that your head is tilted up. On the flip side, the pillow should not be so thin that your head is tilted overly down into a hyper extended position. If you sleep on your side, the pillow thickness should be able to maintain the level of your head and neck so it’s parallel to the mattress. Again, not so thick that it’s tilted up and not so thin that it’s tilted down. In terms of mattress makes and brands, there is not necessarily one that is better than the other. It’s all relative to the firmness and the supportive value for your body.

Question: Dear Dr. Andrew, I came last Saturday and was seen by a different doctor. He seemed to have a totally different approach, instead of concentrating on the area of the upper back where I had my problem which you had done during my 2 visits, he instead gave an examination dealing with posture and went on to adjust areas such as my neck and hip using a drop table. Is this common to have more than one doctor in a practice treat the same patient with 2 completely different schools of practice?

Dr. Andrew: Typically, in all The Joint clinics, we all try to follow the same format and techniques; however, chiropractors are not all made from the same model or mode. There are different techniques, philosophies and approaches. So it’s not unusual to have that experience. All techniques can be of value and help people with certain symptoms and conditions. What’s more important than the doctor’s technique is if the adjustment is serving you. It sounds like you saw Dr. Pete, our weekend chiropractor. I know that Dr. Pete, like myself, is subluxation-based. While he and I might use different techniques, we are still giving you the same adjustment with the same goal to remove any subluxations.

Question: Dear Dr. Andrew, I experienced some pain and soreness in my hip for a couple of days last week which quickly escalated into horrible pain in my hip and leg; unable to walk or find a comfortable position. Now a couple days later the pain is almost completely gone; pain left as quickly as it came. Is it Sciatica? Will it happen again? Could you provide me some insight?

Dr. Andrew: It could possible be sciatica. Sciatica is really just a diagnostic term. Sciatic nerve comes from the nerve roots out of the lower back, so if anything was traveling into the hips or into the leg it’s going to be relative to the neurology from there. Will it happen again? Possibly. Why it came on so quick and why it left so quick is hard to say not knowing some of the other circumstance around it. It’s possible it could happen again; ideally no, but it’s hard to say. I would take a look at that lower back and the hips to inspect the dynamic as they play against each other or relative to each other. Then try to get that balanced and evened out to prevent it from happening again.

Question: Dear Dr. Andrew, Does chiropractic help with blood pressure?

Dr. Andrew: Yes, when you receive an adjustment something called vasodilation happens which is an opening of the blood vessels. When vasodilation happens it reduces pressure across the system, blood flows better and easier resulting in lowered blood pressure.

Question: Dear Dr. Andrew, Do you recommend a type of mattress for back issues, particularly lower back pain (brands, foam vs springs, firm vs pillow-top, etc)?

Dr. Andrew: No, I do not recommend one brand over another. However I do have some helpful tips regarding your other questions. Visit a recent video I did regarding how to sit and sleep properly.

Question: Dear Dr. Andrew, I think sitting in a chair that is too low is possibly causing my pelvis to tilt out of whack, leading to SI joint pain, muscle spasms, and then sciatica. I need to do a lot of work at my computer for genealogy, organizing all my research, and writing my book. What should I look for in a chair. How should I be sitting? I have even tried standing with my laptop. What can you suggest?

Dr. Andrew: Excellent question. View a recent video where I talk about the negative effects of sitting improperly and how to sit properly.

Question: Dear Dr. Andrew, Can chiropractic treatment be a benefit to symptoms of neuropathy in the feet and lower legs?

Dr. Andrew: Yes, I believe routine chiropractic care can benefit neuropathy in the feet and lower legs. The nerves that go down to the feet and legs come from the lower back. So if we can eliminate stress and tension at the source (the lower back and hips), we have a better chance of eliminating pain in the legs and feet. There can also be impingement in the knees and ankles so that would need to be accessed as well.

Question: Dear Dr. Andrew, I’m overweight and I’ve always slouched or hunched over. Now when I try to keep my back straight when I’m sitting down, the middle of my back hurts. Is it a spine thing that can be fixed by a chiropractor or is it just bad posture and my body is getting used to me forcing it to be straight. Should I get used to the pain or what?

Dr. Andrew: So the two dynamics I see here are your weight and what you do for work. If you have a desk job or simply sit for long periods of the day, that is most likely the main factor causing the pain, and the weight dynamic is enhancing the problem. If you have an HR department, I would speak to them about having your work station accessed and get you setup according to proper ergonomics. I would also advise to get more daily activity, at least 30 minutes of walking a day. With that said, regular chiropractic care can help strengthen and keep the spine flexible to help combat your situation. I would definitely recommend weekly adjustments for you.