The Truth About Back Pain

shutterstock_1227999928.jpg

In this age of information, it is easy enough to learn about anything you could dream of. Within seconds, Google will direct you to resources on how to fix your toaster, tips to run a marathon, and how to fix your back pain all ready and waiting with just a few key strokes. It’s less straightforward, however, to know which of this information is valid, reliable, and accurate. Many of us turn to the internet for information about health, rehab, and fitness and this content is notoriously fraught with inaccuracies, oversimplifications, vested interests, and shysterism. A google search for “Back Pain” returns 1.2 Billion results. The plethora of information in combination with the noise of misinformation makes this search less than useless.

Here we’re offering 5 valid, reliable, and accurate truths about back pain:

  1. Back Pain is Common and normal!
    80-90% of people will experience back pain in their lifetime and although it can be annoying and highly distressing, it is quite normal and most episodes resolve fully and quickly within 6-weeks without any treatment at all.

  2. More pain does NOT mean more damage.
    There are many factors that can influence how much pain we experience: sleep, fitness, stress, emotional state, mood, previous experience can all change our pain experience and so each individual feels pain differently than others. Most often, even severe pains can respond well to simple movement and help from a health care professional.

  3. Scans are rarely needed.
    Scans (i.e. MRI, X-ray) are only required in about 2-3% of cases of low back pain. It is often thought that a scan is required to diagnose back pain and guide treatment, but the research suggests most of the time there isn’t a specific structure that is linked to an episode of back pain. A visit to your health care provider can help determine your best course of action.

  4. Avoiding activities and prolonged bed rest are NOT helpful.
    In the first couple of days of a back pain episode, it makes sense to stay away from aggravating positions and activities, but it’s important to start to gradually move and resume normal activities as soon as possible. The research strongly suggests that prolonged bed rest and avoidance are not only unhelpful but can be harmful in the long term.

  5. Exercise is GREAT and SAFE for back pain.
    Aim to gradually resume normal movement and exercise to help resolve your back pain. The type of exercise you choose doesn’t seem to matter much - pick something you enjoy and gradually restart! Expect to feel some soreness when you first start out; which is the feeling of your muscles and body getting used to working a bit and it doesn’t mean that anything is wrong. Remind yourself regularly that you can be sore but safe. 

Exercise!

This information accurately summarizes the latest research on how to best treat back pain. Back pain can be well managed on your own by following these 5 tips.


Blood Sugar: why it matters & how to make it better.

Why it matters? 

emma-valerio-wTcbl8L18t4-unsplash (1).jpg

High blood sugar can damage your body. Glucose can attach to your blood cells, which is what is measured when you get your hemoglobin A1c tested. High levels of hemoglobin A1c indicate poor insulin control. Blood sugar dysregulation can also increase inflammatory cytokines in your body, have an effect on your brain health and lead to an increased risk of dementia; known as type 3 diabetes. 

What does low blood sugar look like? 

Low blood sugar, also known as hypoglycemia, causes symptoms such as: 

● Dizziness 

● Blurred vision 

● Inability to concentrate 

● Sweating 

● Nervousness 

● Hunger or nausea 

What does high blood sugar look like? 

High blood sugar, also known as hyperglycemia, causes symptoms such as: 

● Frequent urination 

● Increased thirst 

● Fatigue 

● Fruity breath/ odour 

● Dry mouth 

● nausea/vomiting 

● Dizziness 

brooke-lark-jUPOXXRNdcA-unsplash.jpg

What are some simple ways to help stabilize your blood sugar? 

1. Eat protein and healthy fats with your meals! 

2. Avoid artificial sweeteners: Fake sugars can leave you feeling unsatisfied, which can cause unwanted weight gain. 

3. Try and exercise every single day: This improves glucose metabolism! 

luisa-schetinger-hTG3jaZjc5g-unsplash.jpg

4. Eat bitter foods: Bitter foods help curb sugar cravings! 

5. Add cinnamon into your diet: Cinnamon can help regulate blood sugar levels in those with type 2 diabetes. 

6. Ask a health professional if intermittent fasting could help you! 

The sciency stuff... 

Firstly, what is blood sugar? Blood sugar is the amount of glucose in your blood.You consume glucose through fruit, juices, starches and carbohydrates. Although these foods can be a part of a balanced diet, moderation is key. The beta cells in your pancreas monitor your blood sugar levels and they release insulin when your blood sugar is too high, whereas alpha cells release glucagon when your blood sugar drops. Insulin allows your cells to use glucose as energy and glucagon tells the liver to release stored glucose to help raise blood sugar levels. 

When there is excess glucose in your bloodstream it is converted into glycogen and stored in your liver and muscles. Your glycogen and insulin hormones balance each other out to ensure you have enough blood sugar in your system throughout the day. 

It’s important to know that diabetes and blood sugar dysregulation can affect any body type and person. Your risk for diabetes and blood sugar can be measured by testing your fasting blood glucose levels and your hemoglobin A1c. These biomarkers can help you understand how your body is monitoring your blood sugar. Fasting blood glucose measures how your body reacts to a fasting state whereas hemoglobin A1c measures your average blood glucose over the past two to three months. There are other biomarkers that can help you understand how your body is responding to blood sugar levels, such as fasting insulin, post meal sugar levels, different inflammatory markers etc. 

Krista%2B-%2Bedited%2B2.jpg

Dr. Krista Lowe, ND Naturopathic Physician at Tall Tree Integrated Health 

Call to book in: (250)-658-9222 

Or email Admin: admin@talltreehealth.ca

References 

Devlin, Horton (1985) Effects of Prior High-Intensity Exercise on Glucose Metabolism in Normal and Insulin-resistant Men. Diabetes: 34 (10) 973-979 

Khan, Safdar, Muzaffar Ali Khan, NawazKhattak, Anderson (2003) Cinnamon Improves Glucose and Lipids of People With Type 2 Diabetes. Diabetes Care: 26 (12) 3215-3218 

Opstal, Hafkemeijer, Van den Berg-Huysmans, Hoeksma, Mulder, Pijl, Rombouts & Van der Grond (2019) Brain activity and connectivity changes in response to nutritive natural sugars, non-nutritive natural sugar replacements and artificial sweeteners,Nutritional Neuroscience: (10) 1-11. 

Tandel K. R. (2011). Sugar substitutes: Health controversy over perceived benefits. Journal of pharmacology & pharmacotherapeutics, 2(4), 236–243. 

How to Avoid Cold and Flu Season?

With Fall just around the corner, cold and flu season is closing in. Thankfully, there’s a lot you can do at home to avoid a cold or get over one quickly.

The best-case scenario is prevention

shutterstock_722718082.jpg
  1. Stop the spread of germs by washing your hands regularly, especially before eating or touching your face, and coughing or sneezing into your elbow (and encouraging others to do the same). 

  2. Your diet makes a big difference! Load up on nutrient-rich foods, especially antioxidant and vitamin-rich veggies and fruits which help your body build strong immune cells, and immune-boosting foods like: garlic, mushrooms (shiitake, reishi, maitake), and warming spices (cinnamon, ginger). And limit your sugar intake which puts the breaks on immune function and is a favourite food source for many bacteria. 

  3. Ever caught a cold after even short-term sleep loss? Me too. Prioritize sleep by aiming for 8 hours per night so your body can rest and repair. 

bear-2079672_1280.png

The second best scenario is a quick recovery:

  1. If you do catch the bug going around, kick those prevention tips into high-gear, and eat warm, simple foods like soups and stews which are hydrating and easy to digest so your body can absorb nutrients without shifting much energy away from the immune system.  

  2. Natural immune supports (including vitamins, minerals, and some herbs) can be very effective additions to your efforts. Some of the top vitamins and minerals to consider are: vitamin C and D, and zinc. These need to be dosed appropriately, so talk to your physician or ND to find out about safe dosing for you personally. 

 

How to get better sleep

Randy Gardner once stayed awake for 265 hours. That’s ll days and a world record! This however, is not something we recommend trying. Sleeping is crucially important for, well, everything! Brain health, cardiovascular health, mood, weight, hormones, and quality of life are all strongly implicated with sleep.

Check out our infographic below all about sleep and tips for sleeping better.

Sleep poster.png

What is prolotherapy?

TallTree-Selects-134.jpg
“Time is not a cure for chronic pain, but it can be crucial for improvement. It takes time to change, to recover, and to make progress.”
— Dr. Mel Pohl

Muskuloskeletal conditions are the most common source of chronic pain, and joints in our extremities are all too often the issue. The increasing prevalence of muskuloskeletal conditions has led to an interest in nonsurgical solutions. Prolotherapy is one of these, and has the benefit of having lower risk and a shorter recovery time than what’s needed with surgery.

First, what is prolotherapy?

Prolotherapy involves injecting a dextrose solution into an attachment site of a ligament or tendon. The solution is a mild irritant that causes inflammation at the injection site. This increases blood flow to the area, which allows for an influx of nutrients to the site and stimulates tissue repair. Ligaments and tendons tend to have poor blood supply, so this process stimulates the body to repair damaged tissue. The final result is strengthened tissue and decreased pain!

What can prolotherapy treat?

It’s always best to ask your health practitioner if you’re a good candidate for prolotherapy. Prolotherapy shouldn’t be the first treatment you jump to when treating different muskuloskeletal conditions, but it’s a great option for those who are feeling they have plateaued with their current treatment. Prolotherapy can help treat pain in the shoulders, elbows, wrists, knees, and ankles (depending on what is causing the pain in these areas).

Specific conditions that prolotherapy can help are:

  • Osteoarthritis in the knees

  • Osteoarthritis in the fingers

  • Unresolved sports injuries that include ligament damage

  • Tennis elbow

  • Golfer’s elbow

  • Chronic tendon issues

How many treatments are needed?

A patient’s response to the treatment varies in each case. The average number of treatments is 4 to 6 with treatments spaced out about a month apart.

 

References:

Jahangiri A., Moghaddam F.R., Najafi S.(2014) Hypertonic dextrose versus corticosteroid local injection for the treatment of osteoarthritis in the first carpometacarpal joint: a double-blind randomized clinical trial. Journal of Orthopaedic Science, 19 (5) , pp. 737-743.

Rabago, et al. (2013) Dextrose prolotherapy for knee osteoarthritis: a randomized control trial. Ann Fam Med, 11(3): 229-237.

Scarpone, M., Rabago, D. P., Zgierska, A., Arbogast, G., & Snell, E. (2008). The efficacy of prolotherapy for lateral epicondylosis: a pilot study. Clinical journal of sport medicine : official journal of the Canadian Academy of Sport Medicine, 18(3), 248–254. doi:10.1097/JSM.0b013e318170fc87