The Unseen Cause of Recurring Injuries

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The Unseen Cause of Recurring Injuries

 

For many years I have worked to help people overcome injuries and optimize their health.  For many people, these injuries need to be addressed quickly and efficiently so that training can continue and competitions can be completed.  As training intensity and duration increases the likelihood of injury also increases.  It is my job to eliminate as many of these ‘injury variables’ as possible.  This is why our assessments go way beyond just figuring out what hurts.  Uncovering the underlying causes for the injury becomes the real goal.  Some common causes for injury are poor mobility, poor movement patterns, weaknesses, and/or pure over-training.  However, sometimes I see clients who not only have areas that continue to get injured, but also have multiple areas throughout the body that are injured, swollen, and/or are chronically in pain.  When this occurs we have to start thinking outside the box.  For these clients, what undoubtedly needs to be considered is the possibility of some underlying systemic inflammation.  What this means is that there is something causing inflammation throughout the entire body that is really at the core of nagging, recurring injuries.  While recurring injuries can also be due to weakness, poor movement patterns, and/or strict overuse, it can also be due to a limited ability to fully recover.  This is where systemic inflammation plays a part.  This inflammation, even if low-level, can impede the body’s ability to recover completely.  And poor recovery equals a much higher incidence of re-injury.

 

There are really two common presentations that make me want to consider underlying systemic causes of inflammation.  The first, is when recurring injuries occur to the same area regardless of consistent treatment and proper function.  While this can simply be from continual overuse, systemic inflammation must also at least be considered as a reason for improper recovery and poor tissue health.  The area of injury is really just the ‘weak link’ that breaks down first when excessive inflammation is present.  Eliminating the cause of the inflammation can result in improved recovery, strength, and ability to handle training loads.

 

The second common presentation is when many areas throughout the body have low levels of pain.  These typically show up in joints.  So, for instance, if a client tells me that they hurt their hip and it is not getting better, but also proceed to tell me that both knees, right ankle, and many finger joints also hurt, I automatically start thinking systemic.  Having numerous areas of the body that are painful is difficult to explain away with simple mechanical issues.  Unless of course, they crashed their mountain bike or were involved in a motor vehicle accident.  However, barring any known massive trauma it is tough for numerous areas of the body, especially on opposite sides, to be explained purely from function.

 

Now the question really becomes, what areas need to be assessed if systemic inflammation is suspected?  This can be a little tricky, but with the proper questioning and a little digging it can be determined what areas may be necessary to test.  Some areas that can potentially cause systemic inflammation are poor diet, food sensitivities, poor gut health, parasites, bacterial overgrowth, yeast infections, hormone dysfunctions, and many others.  Having the ability to narrow this list down a little bit can be helpful so that proper testing can be ordered and underlying issues can be uncovered.  In my clinic, we use a wide variety of tests depending on what we are trying to assess.  The best part about many of these functional tests is that they are simple to do and most times can be done in the comfort of your own home.

 

The next level of thinking and true proactive healthcare, for either the office worker or the competitive athlete, is to always assess these underlying causes of inflammation as part of a standard assessment for overall health and prior to creating a comprehensive treatment plan.  Appropriately selected lab work can accurately assess many different systems in the body to check for inflammation itself, or for those things that we know create inflammation.  Treatment programs that miss this piece can many times prove ineffective or at the end be unable to completely resolve pain.  If this occurs, consider seeking out a professional who can assess these ‘other’ causes and get down to the root of the problem.

 

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Pre-Diabetes Mostly Ignored by Medical Doctors

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Pre-Diabetes Mostly Ignored by Medical Doctors

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A new study recently published in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine states that less than 25% of patients received and lifestyle or dietary advice when labs showed that they had pre-diabetes. Diabetes is one of the most serious and rapidly growing conditions affecting society today. It is quickly becoming out of control and the worst part is that the vast majority cases of Type 2 Diabetes are completely preventable and even reversible if action is taken early on in its development. That’s right, I said reversible! This disease progresses as sugar handling in the body and insulin sensitivity become dysfunctional. Both of these are things that can be changed and improved with the correct advice and lifestyle modifications. The other option, which seems to be the preferred course of action in modern medicine, is to wait until it progresses to full blown diabetes and then just prescribe medications for the rest of the patient’s life. Not only does diabetes cause problems with sugar control in the body, but it also affects almost every other system in the body. Hormone production and brain function are vastly affected by dysfunctions in the body’s ability to tightly regulate sugar. Not only that, but diabetes medications always lead to more medications. Inevitably, blood pressure meds, cholesterol meds, and others to help with associated hormone and mental dysfunction are prescribed to help ‘alleviate’ future complications of a disease that could have easily been prevented.
To make this ‘hit home’ just a little bit more, the OC Register just reported that nearly 50% of Orange County adults have either unreported diabetes or are in the pre-diabetes stage. This is absolutely ridiculous! And studies show that up to 30% of these people will develop full blown diabetes with 5 years. This means that 15% of all Orange County residents will have diabetes within 5 years. Read the full OC Register story at http://www.ocregister.com/articles/diabetes-707589-prediabetes-percent.html
At some point we need to accept the fact that what we are doing is not working. Many disease processes are worsening and becoming more prevalent. Diabetes is just one of them. Autoimmune diseases are growing in number and becoming more common than diabetes. If all autoimmune subcategories are lumped all into one category, autoimmune disease is the most prevalent disease in the world. The BIG question needs to be completely changed! We need to stop looking so hard for new medications to treat the symptoms of worsening diseases. Instead, we need to start spending more research dollars on what is actually causing these diseases in the first place. Autoimmune diseases and diabetes, for instance, are many times created and worsened simply by the foods that we eat. All the new research already shows this, but only functional medicine doctors are applying it. More needs to be done to prevent misleading marketing and to start educating the public on what is really creating so many problems. People can and will make changes if they are actually armed with the correct information. The problem is that Big Pharma and Big Food don’t want you to know the truth. They are making serious money and have no intentions of stopping. However, all businesses are directed by consumer demand. As people start to demand healthier foods and alternative to drugs, big corporations will have to listen. So, start being your own advocate for health. Don’t simply take the advice of the guy in the white coat as truth. Do your own research, ask your own questions, and fight for your own health!

14 Medications to Zero

pillsA few weeks ago I heard a great story about a lady’s return to health that made me both happy and frustrated all at the same time. While checking out at Nordstrom’s the woman that was assisting me took down my email address and noticed that ‘Dr.’ was in the spelling. She continued to ask what kind of doctor I was and when I told her I was a chiropractor her face lit up as she told me how her chiropractor was the absolute best and was the only doctor she currently uses. This, of course, makes me smile, but also begs me to get more information. The explanation of her return to health was really summed up in one sentence. She said, “Two years ago I was on 14 medications and now I am on none!”. 14 MEDICATIONS!!!!! It is almost difficult to believe that someone can continue to be handed prescriptions at a rate so high. She said that she finally sought out this chiropractor because she was not satisfied with the direction of her healthcare and didn’t feel right taking that many medications every day. This particular chiropractor took control of her care and in two years she lost 50 pounds and was able to eliminate 14 medications from her life! That is just plain awesome. Can you imagine the negative side effects that 14 medications have on your system? Not only each individual one, but there also must be some negative interactions between these meds. Now, this story is really not to say how chiropractors are the best thing in the world. This could have been any other healthcare professional, like a dietician, a naturopath, an acupuncturist, or even another medical professional. The point is that she was able to turn her life around so drastically and truly control her own health.
This really made me smile as I walked out of the store, but this satisfaction was quickly joined by a feeling of frustration. Clearing 14 medications from the system and returning the body to a healthy state is a massive victory, but it begs the question of how someone can possibly be instructed to take all these medications in the first place. Was this really the direction that her previous healthcare provider(s) thought was in her best interest?? Surely there were multiple medical professionals who each lent a hand in boosting her prescription numbers. And maybe even 3 or 4 of these medications were given temporarily and not meant for long term use. However, this would still leave the patient with at least 10 daily medications and potentially no planned date for ending their use. Unfortunately, this has become a common scenario in today’s healthcare system; partly because multiple doctors are used to control a patient’s health and partly because many medical professionals rely on medications as their primary tool for ‘health’. Luckily, this patient decided to seek out advice from another health professional whose goal would be to fix things without using a prescription pad. My hope is not that we eliminate the use of all medications as there are extremely useful and necessary in many instances. My hope is that we use them only when other methods fail to provide solutions or if the body just cannot sustain health without them. I’m sure there are many stories just like this, but probably even more people that COULD have stories like this if they decided to finally take control of their own health.

Inflammation Decreases Recovery Potential

Inflammation is the roInflammationot of all evil. In fact, we know that it’s a part of every disease process known to man. The tricky thing is that it can be caused by many different things within the body and if it is present it dramatically hinders the body’s ability to perform properly and recover efficiently. Inflammation can come from overuse, trauma, gut dysfunctions, food sensitivities, improper eating patterns, hormone dysfunction, and many other things. The trick is to figure out if there is inflammation
present, what various things are causing it, and what strategies are needed to eliminate it.

Unfortunately, most people only think of inflammation in situations where they can see visible swelling. A sprained ankle, for instance, creates obvious swelling and the damage is apparent. If the ankle were to stay swollen for many months it would make you concerned and wonder why it wasn’t healing. You would probably then take appropriate steps to seek medical advice in order to determine why the swelling remains and what to do to eliminate it. However, inflammation can be present in your body and causing damage without any obvious signs. This can be the worst kind because it goes for months, sometimes years, undetected and causes continual irritation and destruction. One of the most common causes of systemic inflammation is gut dysbiosis. This is basically just a dysfunction or imbalance of the gut environment. There are many things that can cause this, but all of them cause gut irritation and increased levels of inflammation. Some common things that cause gut inflammation are chronic medication use, food sensitivities, chronic constipation, viruses, excessive bacterial growth, infections, inefficient enzyme production, alterations in acid production, as well as many others. What’s concerning about this list is that many of these are very common. Most people don’t consider GI symptoms like bloating, constipation, diarrhea, etc., to be anything serious. The reality is that these symptoms are telling you that something is wrong! And if these are causing inflammation then your ability to recover from workouts and the stressors of life is drastically reduced.

Another common situation that we see in our office is the dysfunction of the adrenal gland. The adrenal gland is responsibly for many hormones, but most notoriously for cortisol, known as our ‘stress’ hormone. When cortisol is dysfunctional it can not only promote inflammation, but it can also cause problems with sex hormone function and your body’s ability to regulate blood sugar effectively. These things can further lead to promotion of inflammation. Since our collective stress levels have never been higher in the history of mankind, this is an important area to normalize in the body. Especially for athletes, whose use of cortisol is increased due to the stress of training on the body. Training, by nature, creates inflammation on its own, so it is important to know if your ability to handle and recover from that stress is diminished. In summary, we all know that inflammation is a problem when it is allowed to continue excessively in our bodies. What we need to realize is that there are many things that can cause inflammation that don’t signal us to a problem as clearly as a sprained ankle. Uncovering and eliminating other more subtle areas of inflammation allows your body to recover faster and more efficiently. After all, recover is simply the name of the game! Improve recovery ability and you can train harder and longer!

How We Help You Optimize Your Health

Last week, we talked about the different types of people who we normally work with – those who are looking to be healthier in general, and those who have a particular problem they are trying to fix.

This week, I am diving in a little deeper on what our process is like to work with us when patients are looking to optimize their overall health.

Wellness

The first thing we encourage everyone to do is to attend one of our workshops. The way we approach health is often new or different than what most people have heard in the past. Sitting in on one of our talks will help you get pre-educated on our approach and philosophy. It will also help you get a better understanding of how our process works.

From there, if our patients are interested in the program, we like to set up a consultation. During this consultation, we work together to get a comprehensive picture of your health. This includes your medical history, goals, past failures at getting healthy, what has worked in the past, and what you are looking for.

We also complete metabolic assessment forms. These give us an idea of which systems in your body are performing well and which ones aren’t. Ultimately, it helps us customize a protocol specifically for each condition.

Lastly, we look at any lab work they might have had recently. This will allow us to look at a variety of things, including various hormone levels in your body.

After we have reviewed all of these metrics, we utilize all of that information to determine what would be an appropriate program to help them reach their goals.

When we are deciding which program is best, it’s not a one size fits all. Every person is unique and because of that, we customize our programs to each individual. We spend a lot of time up front figuring out what it is that you need so that we start each person off in the right direction. A well-rounded approach is an integral part of how we work with our patients.

These plans aren’t just about fitness and nutrition (although those are a big part of it). We also work on many other factors that might be affecting your health. One example is stress. You can be super fit and eat really well, but if you are experiencing high levels of stress, it’s going to have an impact on your health. By addressing the underlying factor, we can help you create a more balanced life that translates into better health.

Once we have decided on the program, we walk you through the entire process. Ultimately, we are here to help you reach your goals. If something in the plan isn’t working, we adjust accordingly and keep moving forward. We are here to hold your hand, cheer you on, and help you get back on track if you are struggling. However, the end game is to not only get you back to health, but to empower you with the knowledge to take care of your own health for the rest of your life!

If you are interested in learning more, please call us at 949-387-0060.

Curried Lentil & Squash Bowl with Kale & Peppers

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Curried Lentil & Squash Bowl with Kale & PepperspicIngredients:

  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 2-inch piece ginger peeled and minced (about 2 tbsp.)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil, divided
  • 1 cup green lentils, rinsed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 butternut squash, peeled and 
cut into ¼-inch cubes (3½ cups)
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/8 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp ground turmeric
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 2 red bell peppers, sliced into thin strips
  • 1 bunch kale, stems discarded, leaves sliced crosswise into thin ribbons 
or 6 cups baby spinach
  • 1/4 cup unsalted pumpkin seeds

Instructions:

Instructions:
1. In a small bowl, combine shallot, ginger and garlic. In a medium saucepan on medium-high, heat 1 tsp. oil. Add half of shallot mixture and sauté for 30 seconds. Add 2 cups water and bring to a boil; add lentils and bay leaf. Return to a boil, cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer for 30 minutes, until lentils are tender.
2. Meanwhile, toss squash with curry powder, salt, pepper and turmeric. In a large deep sauté pan on medium-high, heat 1 tbsp. oil. Add squash; sauté for 5 minutes. In a small bowl, whisk together tomato paste and ½ cup water; pour into squash mixture, scraping up bits from the bottom of the pan as the liquid sizzles. Stir to coat squash with tomato, cover pan, reduce heat to medium and simmer for 5 minutes more, until squash is tender but not mushy.
3. Stir squash into pot with cooked lentils; add cilantro. Cover and reduce heat to low.
4. To same sauté pan, add remaining 2 tsp oil and heat on medium-high. Add remaining shallot mixture and sauté for 30 seconds. Add bell peppers and kale and sauté for 7 to 10 minutes, until peppers are tender with a little bite left and kale is wilted. Add a splash of water to scrape up any bits from pan and stir. (If using spinach, sauté bell peppers first for 5 minutes, then add spinach and cook just until wilted.)
5. Divide squash-lentil mixture among plates and top with kale mixture and pumpkin seeds.