The Dreaded High Shoulder

Have you ever woken up in the morning with one of your shoulders sort of sticking up, unable to relax, and painful to move?

I haven’t, but plenty of my patients have.

I’ll be honest: I’m not sure why on Earth this happens to people most of the time. Even the person with the high shoulder usually doesn’t have any idea why they can’t relax their shoulder, and why it hurts so much. Most people shrug the good shoulder and say something like “Well, I guess I slept wrong”.

Which brings up a great question: How is sleeping so complicated that adults are still doing it wrong? Beats me!

Still, this dreaded high shoulder exists and it inflicts millions of Americans every year (that is a crude estimation based on nothing more than guesswork, by the way).

What I do know is that your nervous system controls and coordinates all the activity in your body, including your neck and shoulder muscles. And I also know that an adjustment to the area in question usually gets that shoulder to settle down and relax and become much more comfortable. So, if you are dealing with this problem, give us a call and maybe we can make that shoulder go back where it belongs.

Preventing Falls with a Healthy Nervous System

We are going to discuss your nervous system. Your central nervous system consists of your brain and spinal cord and all your nerves. Most of what the nervous system involves itself with is below the level of consciousness, and while we all might do a lot of thinking every day that is still a very tiny percentage of what the nervous system is busy doing. Your nervous system directs the digestion of your food, the sweat glands in your feet and everywhere else, the activity of your thyroid, and the tone of your muscles – and almost everything else. The list of things your nervous system controls and coordinates can go on and on.

Reflexes do not require your brain, only your spinal cord. They happen outside of conscious control and awareness. When a doctor taps your knee with a rubber hammer, you don’t need to tell your leg to kick. When you throw a cat in the air (not recommended) it will land on its feet because of reflexes that allow the cat to right itself.

Your posture, the way you sit and stand, is a result of a combination of postural reflexes which your brain uses to keep your eyes level with the horizon and your body from falling over. All this is also occurring outside of your conscious mind and is only under your control when you focus on it. Sometimes when your body develops weakness in one area, your postural reflexes will alter your posture to keep you more-or-less upright, although your compensated posture will be less healthy and will probably cause your body to develop other weaknesses down the road, making you more prone to falling down and getting arthritis.

Balance

Balance is an Interaction Between Three Senses

* Eyes – maintaining a steady gaze on the important stuff

* Inner ears – senses when the body isn’t level

* Sense of body position – via sensors in joints and muscles

* A healthy nervous system puts all that information together instantaneously to maintain balance, proper posture, and to prevent falls. When you have a less-than-healthy nervous system the 3 key components of balance do not function correctly, and dizziness and a lack of sure footing is the result.

The Nervous System Controls Body Movement

* The brain controls the movement of your arms, legs, and trunk (and your entire body) so that you can move smoothly  and with precision.

* Being able to put your foot where you want it to go while walking, climbing stairs, or getting out of the tub is all a result of a healthy brain.

* Dizziness, vision problems, and an out-of-balance brain can all lead to falls, injuries, activity avoidance, and even depression.

* Being able to have improved control over your balance and your body will help you avoid falls in the first place.

In order to avoid a fall you need to focus on maintaining a healthy nervous system and maintaining an active lifestyle as much as you safely can.  At Park Bench Chiropractic we focus on helping our patients maintain healthy nervous systems. Call us at (301) 378-0334 or stop by today.

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Dr. Romano is a board certified and licensed chiropractor in Maryland. He practices in Frederick, Md at 1780 North Market Street. He has worked with the older population in practice as a chiropractor as well as at numerous nursing homes and facilities. He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and a Doctorate in Chiropractic. Dr. Romano and Dr. Schooley are also available to speak to groups, including seniors, about fall prevention and recovery and the importance of a healthy nervous system.

See Also: The Hidden Injury After a Fall: Fear, When Seniors Fall: The Science, and Falls and the Elderly: Some Facts.

When Seniors Fall: The Science

We are going to go over some science (don’t worry, it won’t get too complicated). Specifically, we are going to talk about bones getting stronger and weaker, and why that happens.

* Wolff’s Law states that bone in a healthy person will adapt to the loads it is placed under. If loading on a particular bone increases, the bone will remodel and add minerals to itself over time to become stronger to resist that same sort of loading in the future. The opposite is true as well: decreased load on that bone will cause a bone to weaken and shed mineral over time. The body takes back the minerals in those bones that aren’t needed and uses them elsewhere – or gets rid of them by excreting the minerals.

Here are some real-world examples of how this plays out:

* Tennis Players – In avid tennis players the racquet-holding arm bones become stronger. The tennis player will have more calcium and stronger bones in their dominant playing hand. This is the body’s natural response to increased demand being placed on that limb. Calcium from the diet is put into the bones to reinforce the arm and shoulder bones.

* Astronauts – After returning from space astronauts will have weaker bones because there has been no gravity weighing on the person’s frame. When they get back to Earth they will need to exercise in order to re-strengthen the bones to avoid fractures.

This means, simply put, that it is important to remain active. The body literally thrives on movement – fluids move, the brain is stimulated, bones are strengthened, and the muscles are exercised. In the simplest terms, the more you place burdens on your body, the more your body will work to adapt to that by strengthening itself where strength is needed.

That old saying, “If you don’t use it, you lose it”, is very true.

Now, as any senior knows, as you get older there is a process in the body in which many men and especially women lose bone mineral density and develop something called osteopenia and then osteoporosis. Doctors will recommend supplementing your diet with additional calcium and Vitamin D, and that is a good start.

Diet: Calcium & Vitamin D

If you are going to fall, of course you want to make sure your bones don’t break. A proper diet can help you have strong bones. Be aware that some medical conditions or medications can interfere with your body’s ability to take in calcium and other vitamins and minerals.

A combination of calcium and Vitamin D can reduce the risk of osteoporosis. The National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF) recommends:

“Adults under age 50 should have 1,000 mg of calcium and 400 – 800 IU of vitamin D daily. Adults age 50 and older should have 1,200 mg of calcium and 800 – 1,000 IU of vitamin D daily.”

-National Osteoporosis Foundation

That is a 20% increase in calcium and a 25-100% increase in Vitamin D in your diet compared to the recommendations for younger people!

Some dietary sources of calcium:

* Milk, yogurt, and other dairy products

* Dark green vegetables such as collard greens, kale, and broccoli

* Sardines and salmon with bones

* Calcium-fortified foods and beverages such as cereals, orange juice, or soymilk

Certain types of foods can interfere with calcium absorption. These include foods high in oxalate (such as spinach and beet greens) or phytate (peas, pinto beans, navy beans, wheat bran). Diets high in animal protein, sodium, or caffeine may also interfere with calcium absorption.

Some dietary sources of Vitamin D:

* Fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, and tuna

* Egg yolks

* Liver

* Vitamin D-fortified milk, orange juice, soymilk, or cereals

Exposure to sunlight stimulates the skin to produce Vitamin D, meaning that many people can get a fair amount of Vitamin D just from spending ½ hour outside in the sun.

In order to avoid a fall you need to focus on maintaining a healthy nervous system, getting the proper nutrients in your diet, and maintaining an active lifestyle as much as you can.  At Park Bench Chiropractic we focus on helping our patients maintain healthy nervous systems. Call us at (301) 378-0334 or stop by today.

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Dr. Romano is a board certified and licensed chiropractor in Maryland. He practices in Frederick, Md at 1780 North Market Street. He has worked with the older population in practice as a chiropractor as well as at numerous nursing homes and facilities. He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and a Doctorate in Chiropractic. Dr. Romano and Dr. Schooley are also available to speak to groups, including seniors, about fall prevention and recovery and the importance of a healthy nervous system.

See Also: Preventing Falls with a Healthy Nervous System, The Hidden Injury After a Fall: Fear, and Falls and the Elderly: Some Facts.

The Hidden Injury After a Fall: Fear

When an older person falls and is injured, this often can be a worrisome experience. Broken hip. A broken hip is quite often the first step on a trip to a nursing home. And if you are already in a nursing home when you fall and hurt yourself, this is when they might decide to place you into a wheelchair and limit your ability to walk “for your own good”.

The injury itself is bad enough. A fractured hip or femur can create a variety of other, potentially more serious health concerns. A concern that is not paid enough attention to, though, is psychological. Despite the fact that it won’t kill you or send you straight to the hospital, the psychological “fear of falling” can reduce your quality of life substantially.

You don’t even need to be the person who fell to be affected. Those who know someone who had a bad fall, or who witnessed someone fall, are much more likely to be afraid of falling and to therefore limit their physical activity.

* Fear of falling is common among older individuals, including those who have never experienced a traumatic fall.

* This fear of falling decreases confidence and leads to avoiding activities.

* Activity avoidance and fear reduces quality of life.

* Less activity means your bones will be under less load and will become more brittle. Your muscles will also weaken and shrink

* Decreased input from your body into your brain will weaken your brain. A weakened brain will be less able to control your body.

Fear of Falling leads to Activity Avoidance leads to Loss of Muscle & Bone Strength leads to Depression leads to Decreased Quality of Life
All this is a cycle. Don’t get stuck in the cycle! It is very important to be active and enjoy our lives, in fact your bones and brain depend on it.

The problem, as shown above, is that the fear of falling causes people to avoid activities that could possibly put them in danger of falling. This is a LOT of potential activities. And that activity avoidance causes deconditioning and a loss of muscle and bone strength. This lack of activity and fulfillment leads to depression, and all this feeds into a cycle that causes a decrease in your quality of life.

The way to avoid all of this is to avoid a fall and/or to remain positive after a fall or after witnessing a fall. While fear can be a valuable too, it can also be a problem if reduces your enjoyment of your “Golden Years”.

In order to avoid a fall you need to focus on maintaining a good sense of balance. Balance is a function of three key components: your vision, your inner ear, and your proprioception (joint position sense). As people get older the ability to see clearly tends to decrease. On top of that many older people take numerous medications, some of which may cause dizziness or low blood pressure (which can cause falls). Dealing with all of these things requires a healthy and responsive nervous system. At Park Bench Chiropractic we focus on helping our patients maintain healthy nervous systems. Call us at (301) 378-0334 or stop by today.

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Dr. Romano is a board certified and licensed chiropractor in Maryland. He practices in Frederick, Md at 1780 North Market Street. He has worked with the older population in practice as a chiropractor as well as at numerous nursing homes and facilities. He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and a Doctorate in Chiropractic. Dr. Romano and Dr. Schooley are also available to speak to groups, including seniors, about fall prevention and recovery and the importance of a healthy nervous system.

See Also: Preventing Falls with a Healthy Nervous System, When Seniors Fall: The Science, and Falls and the Elderly: Some Facts.

Falls and the Elderly: Some Facts

* Falls are the leading cause of injury-related death, and the third leading cause of poor health among persons aged 65 years and older.

* Over 30% of community-dwelling older persons fall each year, and 15% fall more than once. Almost 33% of the older population experiences a decline in function after a fall, meaning they lose the ability to do the things they did before the fall.

* Every 35 minutes an older American dies as the result of a fall.

* The main consequences of falls were identified as a decline in physical and mental performance, an increased risk of falling and progressive loss of health-related quality of life.

* Many older persons experience psychological difficulties directly related to the fall. Among these psychological consequences are fear of falling, activity avoidance and loss of self-confidence.

* These things all reduce quality of life.

* 1/3 of the older population falls each year, and 1/3 of those who fall will suffer a decline in function.

* That means about 10% of the older population will fall and lose function each year.

* Fear of Falling leads to Activity Avoidance leads to Loss of Muscle & Bone Strength leads to Depression leads to Decreased Quality of Life

Nobody wants a decreased quality of life. Anyone – at any age – should expect to enjoy their time on this Earth. The healthier your body and your nervous system are, the less likely you will experience a fall…and the less likely that falling will disable you either physically or psychologically.

How Does Chiropractic and Balance Go Together?

Chiropractic adjustments remove nerve interference from the body. By removing that interference the brain and body can communicate and this allows your body to function better. The body is naturally a self-regulating, self-healing organism, and when allowed to function optimally the body has a tendency to rebound from most injuries and illnesses. Chiropractors don’t specifically treat most conditions, but will instead work to allow the body to heal itself.

Adjustments also stimulate the brain in areas responsible for controlling the joints that were adjusted. By sending a barrage of stimulation to the brain and to the joints involved, the neural brain pathways are strengthened making the two-way communication between your brain and body more clear and efficient. Just like practicing at the piano can strengthen the mental pathways involved in the coordination involved in making music with a piano, chiropractic adjustments help the body retrain and strengthen the neural pathways of joints that aid in balance and muscle control.

A healthy and adaptive nervous system can help you avoid a fall, and can help you recover after a fall. The doctors at Park Bench Chiropractic in Frederick, Md have experience dealing with seniors and understand the importance of maintaining a healthy, active, and independent lifestyle. Call our office at (301) 378-0334 or stop by today.

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Dr. Romano is a board certified and licensed chiropractor in Maryland. He practices in Frederick, Md at 1780 North Market Street. He has worked with the older population in practice as a chiropractor as well as at numerous nursing homes and facilities. He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and a Doctorate in Chiropractic. Dr. Romano and Dr. Schooley are also available to speak to groups, including seniors, about fall prevention and recovery and the importance of a healthy nervous system.

See Also: Preventing Falls with a Healthy Nervous System, When Seniors Fall: The Science, and The Hidden Injury After a Fall: Fear.