Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Just ribbing

I like anatomy.  It always seemed fascinating to me that we are made of these bits - muscles and nerves and guts and bones and blood and gloop and fingernails and such... and that one could learn all of them!  Unlike other scientific fields, anatomy is relatively finite.  How does a physicist ever feel she's done?  You can read and write and postulate and read some more and maybe one day you think i get it! only to have someone discover a new qubit of information and suddenly you are re-contemplating the universe and reconsidering gravity and you want to throw yourself into a black hole if you could just figure out what the hell one was anyway.

No thanks, I'll stick with phalanges: 10.  I like finite.

The point is, I like anatomy.  And no offense, but I can tell that many of you haven't really considered all your parts, and I don't understand this.  I mean, you can ignore physics and pretend tau neutrinos don't exist, and life will go on.  But you can't ignore your knees, people.  They are RIGHT THERE!  And while most of you don't know your gluteals from your olecranon, none of you understand ribs.

Unlike the elusive Mc.Rib, your ribs have bones.  12 pairs of ribs create a cage that protects some of the more vital organs - heart and lungs.  Though I do consider my hands quite vital, I'll chalk that up to yet another instance of design oversight.  The ribs are an example of stability and mobility in perfect harmony; stability protects the inside parts, mobility aids in and allows for breathing and motion through the trunk. Mess with the ribs and compromise these functions.  What I see clinically is a rib that has gone 'out', or stops moving properly.  If you've ever had a rib 'out', you know how painful this is.  Breathing is tender, coughing is agonizing, laughing is absurd.

All of a sudden ribs are important, eh?

Patients find it fascinating to learn that their pain is being caused by a rib. They had never considered their ribs, let alone as a source of pain. But I have. I'm a chiropractor!

I enjoy treating ribs. The results can be so dramatic! A simple adjustment can restore movement and ease pain, often instantly. The patient is happy because they feel better, and I'm happy because my patient is happy. It doesn't hurt the chiro-ego to feel like a hero either.  Of course it's not always "alleluia thy be healed!" - sometimes a few treatments are necessary, and occasionally I am challenged by a very stubborn rib. And like the Mc.Rib, some wayward ribs return again and again...

So let's talk about how to deal with ribs.

Breathing exercises can be very helpful, as can gently rolling against a wall or on the floor.  The point is to mobilize the 'stuck' rib.  Ice is often helpful too.  Massage can help sometimes, but I find the rib rub to be a temporary fix, especially if that rib is still 'out' of alignment.  See your chiropractor.  A rib adjustment is most often the easiest, fastest and most effective treatment for acute rib pain.

And if you've been directed to this blog by searching Mc.Rib, my advice for you is an antacid and a salad.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Happy Chiroversary!

I'm not one for dates.  Sure, I'll say yes if the right person asks, but I'm talking more about the calendar variety - I just don't remember dates very well.  So I'll forgive myself for forgetting a recent milestone - my 10 year chiroversary.

I've been practicing chiropractic for 10 years!  You'd think by now I'd have had enough practice and could do the real thing but there you have it.  Still practicing... after a decade!  And it's weird, because the math doesn't really add up - how can I be at once a youthful twenty-something, and also a seasoned decenial doctor of chiropractic?  One of life's mysteries, really.  But there you have it.

I want my spine mug
And what do I have to show for my 10 years of service?  Files, lots of files, and memories, and experience.  I've gained so much from my patients over the past decade.  I've learned a lot about back pain and joints, about healing, and about not-healing.  I've treated lots of regular cases, and a few fascinating ones.  I've seen so many people get healthier through chiropractic, and I've witnessed time and time again the remarkable ability of the human body to heal.  And I've been honoured to be a part of it all.
What I DON'T have to show for my service, is a spine mug.  For shame, chiro-authorities... what better way to commemorate 10 years of dedicated spinal service?  What have my annual dues been funding?  Research!?

A professor once told us that when we graduate as chiropractors, we will be competent, at best.  He went on to describe how technically proficient we can expect to be after x and x+1 years, but I was too insulted to keep listening.  Competent?  COMPETENT?  I mean, I know rule number one is to 'first do no harm', but talk about setting the bar low.  But after 10 years, I sort of get it.  I remember those first few adjustments - sure they got the job done, but with no finesse, little style.  Experience has given me a great set of hands with which to pat myself on my back and crack yours, and pardon me for bragging, but after 10 years I'm not only competent, but dare I say it... I'm an excellent chiropractor.

And I couldn't have done it without you, my patients past present and future, and your trust and your vertebrae.  I'll be sure to mention you in my speech when I accept my 20 years of service spine watch.
Time for an adjustment!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Won't somebody please think of the children?

Pregnant women need massages.

Despite what the above photo depicts, we don't need belly massages; we need everything-else- massages.

Pregnant women need massages!

Not a back tickle, not a shoulder rub, but a full body massage.  The fuller the body becomes, the fuller it needs to be massaged - true!  And partners... please, defer to professionals.  You've done enough, and your lady deserves a bona fide massage.  Stick with foot rubs and emotional support, m'kay?

Prenatal massage is a necessity.  Physically, the pregnant woman's body is changing so rapidly; things growing, loosening, stretching.  The normal spinal curves are exaggerated as the center of gravity shifts forward.  Pain is so common that it is taken as 'normal'.  But there is nothing normal about pain, and no pain so severe that we can't, at the very least, lessen it.  Particularly at a time when pain-killers aren't an option, body work becomes that much more important.  There is simply no need to suffer.

Expecting women are often nervous about any intervention - but rest assured that prenatal massage is safe.  Registered massage therapists are trained to meet the special needs of pregnant women, and there are a variety of ways to position you for maximum comfort and safety.  The therapist may change the pressure and stroke over your low back or other sensitive areas, and will avoid applying heat near the baby.

Physical benefits aside, massage is a wonderful relaxation tool.  And it's a hell of a lot easier to get a massage while the baby is tucked away quiet inside (and not screaming on the outside... ) - enjoy this time!  Besides, happy mom = happy baby...its no longer just about you!

Yup - book a prenatal massage... you owe it to your baby!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

It takes a village to treat a chiropractor: Dr Bain edition.

Loyalty is not in my blood.  My mother had a different chiropractor for every ache - she would go to Dr. Larry for her neck but only Dr. Michael could 'really get her low back'.  Myself, I get my haircut every 6 months by a different stylist, and I don't qualify for loyalty points at any major retailer.  On the chiropractic front I've got a full roster of docs to keep me in line.

Dr. Bain at work!
One of those is Dr. Zachary Bain.  He's funny and smart and kind - all wonderful characteristics in a chiropractor or a friend.  We over lap at the clinic on Mondays and Friday mornings, so should something slip or seize then, I know I'm in good hands.  Our practice styles are very similar, making Dr. Bain the chiro-equivalent of a best friend; we speak the same language.  We 'get' each other.  And like any best friend, he compliments me too - we are dissimilar in just the right ways.  When we treat each other we are also bouncing ideas off on another, comparing ways of adjusting, discussing new ways to treat injuries.  His touch is gentle, his adjustments just subtle enough, and he spends time stretching and releasing tight muscles and sore spots.  He is patient and methodical, and this is one of the things I like best about Dr. Bain's treatments - he really takes his time.  And I always feel better after seeing him!

At RHCC we don't expect your loyalty!  We encourage you to play the field, give all of us a whirl, experiment a bit.  Patients often switch back and forth between Dr. Bain and myself, sometimes preferring his thorough and gentle touch - and this is fine with me!  I like him, why wouldn't you?!

As for myself, please allow me to take this small space (it is my blog, after all...) to publicly thank Dr. Bain for all his work (specifically his work on my spine!) - thanks Zach... I consider myself fortunate to get to work alongside you, to share an office with you, and to be cared for by you!

Monday, June 6, 2011

How Does Your Garden Grow?

I love spring!  I love the flowers, the weather, the patios.  I love long days, barbeques, and the promise of many more months of good weather ahead.  

And this summer, I'd like to apologize to gardeners everywhere.  I used to scoff at the image of the little old lady labouring away in her garden; you snip a few stems, plant a bulb or two, and pour water on the whole thing.  Weeding sounded annoying and pruning confusing, but really, what was so hard?  Man up, ladies.

But as a lady of certain age who enjoys her greenery, I'm realizing that I was wrong, wrong, wrong.  Gardening is challenging, it is an art, and it is physically hard!  And as your dedicated chiro-gardener, I will pass on what I've learned so that you need not suffer.  Learn from my mistakes, and do as I say, not as I've planted.  

Dr. Michelle's Gardening Tips

1.  Get down and dirty 
Gardening is not for the squeamish.  There are bugs and worms and mud.  Its a dirty job, but someone's gotta do it.  Staying clean by bending over is hard on your back.  Sit down.  Get close to your work to minimize bending and reaching.  Get dirty.  Live a little!  

2.  Say no to weeds
My garden is lush and green, and there are even a few plants in there.  The weeds... the damn weeds... they flourish.  Weed removal is labourious, monotonous, and neverendingous.  But aha, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure or something, so order up an ounce of mulch and use liberally.  Stop those weeds from growing in the first place!  I've also noticed that weeding is so much easier after a rainfall - those suckers just slide right out.  

3.  Delegate
The best way to do something hard is to get someone else to do it.  Kidding!  Sort of!  Invite your friends over for a garden(ing) party, and give out weed whackers as party favours!  Got a partner or a kid or any other able-bodied person around?  Make them... I mean ask them to help!  And when bribing and begging don't work, money usually does.  Seriously, be realistic about your abilities.  There are plenty of gardening services around, and the cost of hired help or favours owed may be worth saving your back.  

4.  Dress for success
Remember my mantra, people: cute and functional.  Wide brimmed floppy hat to protect from sun.  Waterproof and light weight shoes - crocs really are great.  Comfortable clothes that can get dirty and allow you to stretch.  Gloves to protect your hands from cuts and bugs.  Knee pads can help immensely.  

5.   Stretch, ice, see your chiropractor!
We can help your body - from sore green thumbs to achy backs.  Or better yet, get your spring spinal tune-up so you will able to garden to you heart's delight!  

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Get on your butt... and the Team Member of the Month!

I hate formal exercise.  And it's not just sweaty men in tuxedos that bother me, I also dislike informal exercise.  But, I also dislike ill-fitting clothing, and you know, dying early... so I decided it was time to move a little more.  It is getting harder to attribute those extra pounds to 'baby weight' since the baby turned two.

So I found a place I could go - the YMCA.  Sure enough, I found many ways to have a good time.  Aside from inexpensive daycare... fine, they had me at inexpensive daycare.  But also, I discovered gravity.

Gravity classes are amazing.  We lie down on a moving plank, and push or pull things and the result is a workout that works your muscles and your heart, and involves just enough sweat to be dewy but not icky.  Exercise, lying down.  And inexpensive day care.  Sold!

I also discovered pilates.  Or rediscovered, and like some long lost love, I wonder why we ever parted?  Tone and stretch, most of while lying down.  How could I have forgotten?  And pilates is (pilates are?) so effective - strengthing the core to stabilize the body.  Long and lean, strong and steady.

Mia Quint-Rapoport leads the pilates-esque workout here, in our cozy downstairs studio.  Her class is pilates-inspired, but with more push-ups and lunges, a little yoga, and a lot more giggling added in.  But don't let the tittering fool you, for this Dr. (yah, she's also a Ph.D.) is intense, and there is no whining under her tutelage.  We tone and laugh.  And sweat, just enough.

But we lie down most of the time, which appeals to me.  And that's why I'm pleased to name Mia Quint-Rapoport the March 'Team Member of the Month'.

Thanks for doing what you do, Mia!

And remember everyone: you don't have to get up to get fit!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

miss me?

The secret to being a successful chiroblogger is to post, post, post!  But I have neglected to do so; last year I abandoned entire months, giving the impression that I had nothing to say when I've got LOTS to say.  I'm constantly composing posts in my head, but all too often, my thought-blogs vanish before they begin, and I'm left blogless, giving you the impression that I don't care.  So I realized I best be posting promptly or surely my loyal reader will abscond, and then what?  What is the writer without her reader?

And suddenly it is 2011.  And while the technology I need has not yet been invented (some sort of brain-computer wire to download my thoughts to my computer),  I am starting this year off write!  For example, I have already written next year's New Year post, thanks to last year's procrastination.  And how better to actually start this year off than by posting in February?  So here I write, I chirotype and chirobabble... and as an apology for my inexcusable absence, please accept:

Dr Fagen's winter-spinal-survival guide

1) GO SOUTH!  And go far, too. Because apparently it snows everywhere now!  Is this creeping anyone else out?  I get the sense we are entering some sort of ice age and I can't tell but maybe this has something to do with global warming?  It's freaky and freaking cold.  So go.  And take me with you.  Normally I'd suggest you take an ice pack for the long, long drive, to address any joint inflammation or injuries that can happen on such a long journey, but sticking your hand out the window and collecting a ball of snow will work too.  Apply to newly sore joints for 10 minutes at a time, say 3 times daily.  Once you've reached your sunny destination, just use the ice from your mojito.  

2) Snow shovelling is for the spineless.  Really, there is no delicate way to say this.  The best way to shovel snow is to GET SOMEONE ELSE TO DO IT.  Now this, readers, is news you can use.  Sure, you can lift with your knees and keep your back straight and push rather than lift the snow, but you know what?  SNOW IS HEAVY and HEAVY CAN HURT YOUR BACK.  Especially when it doesn't. stop. snowing.   So ignore my advice if you will, go ahead and follow other chiropractor's suggestions, but explain me this: how are you supposed to both "shovel regularly during a snowfall before it accumulates" and also "take frequent breaks", and of course, "stretch before and after"... don't you people have THINGS to do?  And don't even get me started on electric snow blowers, see global warming above.  

3) Rush slowly.  News flash: ice is slippery, and gravity is relentless.  The lessons here are obvious: a) keep your walkway clear  b) wear appropriate footwear with lots of traction c) walk slowly and with caution!   oh and d) slips happen.   Lets all be grateful for the little slips and falls, for they remind us that we are vulnerable and that this time, we avoided a big one.  And also, see your chiropractor!  A well adjusted spine can better handle the stress of a fall, and if it has been a while since your last adjustment, well, we are great at fixing things too. 

4) Footwear deserves a whole post, nay, a whole blog of its own... but for the sake of WINTER SURVIVAL let me get the basics down.  Your footwear should be, in no particular order: warm, waterproof, traction-y, attractive, lightweight.  This is not possible, no footwear has ever in the history of the universe been all these things - practical and cute are the dichotomies of the boot-world, mutually exclusive and ever-elusive.  The answer to this, of course, is to purchase many many pairs of boots, each fulfilling a particular function.  

5) Stay active!  To best enjoy the winter season, be sure to get out and enjoy the few daylight hours that we are afforded.  They say that winter activities like skiing, snowshoeing and luging are wonderful for the body and mind, but 'they' also said that leggings couldn't be worn as pants, so I'm hedging my bets and staying indoors.  I did join a gym, mind you, so remember that you can be active and warm.  Don't be a luger.  Get off your butt!

6) Hang out with a kid.  If this doesn't warm your frozen heart, nothing will.