Chiropractor's Self-Help Back and Body Book: Your Complete Guide to Relieve Common Aches and Pains at Home and on the Job


Most books on backache emphasize medication or surgery as cures. This practical guide suggests a better approach for sufferers. Using self-healing techniques to relieve pain, distinguishing back trouble from other problems, and protecting a weak back during sex or pregnancy are just a few of the topics in this thorough handbook. Over 40 black-and-white illustrations are included.
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Most books on backache emphasize medication or surgery as cures. This practical guide suggests a better approach for sufferers. Using self-healing techniques to relieve pain, distinguishing back trouble from other problems, and protecting a weak back during sex or pregnancy are just a few of the topics in this thorough handbook. Over 40 black-and-white illustrations are included.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780897933766
  • Publisher: Hunter House, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 9/28/2002
  • Pages: 296
  • Product dimensions: 7.32 (w) x 9.24 (h) x 0.82 (d)

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The Chiropractor's Self-Help Back and Body Book

Your Complete Guide to Relieving Aches and Pains at Home and on the Job
By Samuel Homola

Hunter House Inc., Publishers

Copyright © 2002 Samuel Homola
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-89793-376-6

Chapter One

Pinpointing the Cause of Your Head, Neck, Shoulder, Arm, Back, and Leg Pain

If you are one of the millions of Americans suffering from back or neck pain, it will not surprise you to learn that headache, arm or leg pain, and other common aches and pains are often associated with a neck or back problem. There is plenty that you can do to help yourself, but before you begin by turning to the chapter that interests you most, you should read the self-exam checklists outlined in this chapter. These include things you and your doctor can do to rule out organic disease or a serious mechanical problem. If you have fever, persistent pain, or some other alarming symptoms, for example, or if you have suffered a painful injury, you should, of course, see a doctor immediately. However, once the diagnosis has been made and if it has been established that you have a simple mechanical problem, you may begin the appropriate self-help program.

How to Get the Help You Need

Clyde T. visited my office complaining of recurring pain in his back, hip, and leg. "The pain goes away when I lie down," he explained, "but it comes back when I stand for a while or when I sit for a long time. Leaning over to work on my car really makes my back hurt."

An office examination and a case history revealed that Clyde had a low-back structural abnormality that had been strained by using bad posture while changing a tire on his car. With time and a few simple home treatments, Clyde's back and leg pain disappeared. He was also instructed in the correct postures and lifting techniques described in Chapter 9, making it less likely that he would suffer a recurrence of back pain.

Sixty-year-old Debra D. also had back and leg pain. "I have sciatica," she told friends. "My mother had it and now I have it. I can treat it myself with a poultice, just as my mother did." But Debra's leg pain, a radiation of nerve symptoms into her calf and foot, did not get better; it got worse. Her leg hurt constantly, twenty-four hours a day. Nothing seemed to relieve the pain. After months of suffering, Debra finally came in for an examination. It quickly became apparent that her leg pain was not coming from her spine, which is where sciatica pain comes from. Everything in her leg seemed normal. Deep tendon reflexes in her knees and ankles were normal, and her ankle pulse was strong, indicating a good flow of blood to her leg. The straight-leg-raise test, which you'll learn about later in this chapter, was negative. There wasn't anything to suggest that her leg pain was originating in the spine or leg. Even though her back hurt, she could move and bend without difficulty.

An X-ray examination of Debra's lumbar spine revealed a dangerously large abdominal aneurysm caused by stretching and splitting in the walls of the aortic artery! She was immediately referred to a surgeon who patched the ballooning aorta. Had the aneurysm gone undetected much longer, it could have ruptured, resulting in a fatal loss of blood.

If Debra had known a little more about how to distinguish mechanical disorders from organic problems, she would have been alerted to the possibility that her leg pain might be coming from somewhere other than her back.

As a general rule, anytime you have pain that radiates down an arm or a leg, you should not delay in seeing a doctor. Simple low-back pain on movement is usually not a cause for alarm. But when you have radiation down one of your legs, you might have referred pain from a herniated disc or some other serious problem that must be differentiated from an even more serious vascular disorder that might require immediate medical attention.

You should never attempt to replace a physician's expertise with amateur doctoring. You should, however, possess enough knowledge about your body and your back to help you decide when to help yourself and when to see a doctor. This book will provide you with the guidance you need to make the right decision in caring for your neck and back pain, so that you can help yourself and your doctor.

Distinguishing Type O from Type M Disorders

Whether you treat yourself or are treated by your doctor, it is absolutely essential that you determine whether you are suffering from a Type O or Type M problem. Type O problems involve infectious or organic disease, which should always be brought to the attention of a physician. Type M problems are mechanical in nature and involve muscles, joints, and ligaments. If pain is relieved by rest and increased by bending, getting in and out of a car, turning over in bed, when you cough or sneeze, or during any activity that places stress on your lower back, then your trouble is probably mechanical or Type M in nature.

A Type M problem, once diagnosed by a physician, almost always involves self-help and must often be treated at home. It goes without saying, of course, that when pain or symptoms persist or grow worse despite all you do to help yourself, regardless of the type of problem, you should see your doctor.

Classifying Your Headache

Since headache is nearly as prevalent as backache and often stems from neck trouble, let's start at the top and begin with your head in evaluating your aches and pains.

About 90 percent of all chronic headaches are the tension and migraine variety, which can usually be handled at home. Any headache can be a potentially serious symptom, however, and should not be regarded lightly when it is persistent or accompanied by certain signs. Headache accompanied by vomiting or visual disturbances, for example, should be brought to the attention of a neurologist. Headache accompanied by fever is usually a sign of infection.

Headaches that occur only during menstruation, after drinking alcohol, after eating certain foods, or while sitting in a stuffy room have obvious temporary causes. Most of us recognize a sinus headache because nasal congestion or blocked drainage cause pain above our eyes or over our cheekbones. A headache that occurs after being exposed to glaring light or following eye strain usually does not alarm us.

When a pregnant woman develops a sudden headache or when a child has a headache that is associated with fever or a stiff neck, we become concerned. And when a headache occurs following a head injury, it's important to call a doctor immediately.

Common sense often helps us determine whether a headache is serious or not. Any headache accompanied by unusual symptoms should alert us to the possibility of a serious problem.

About seven of every ten headaches are caused by simple tension that often originates in the muscles and joints of the neck. Doctors often refer to this type of headache as a "muscle contraction headache." If you suffer from this type of headache, as most of us do, you'll be able to help yourself with some of the remedies outlined in Chapter 2. Before you begin a self-help program for headache, however, you should familiarize yourself with some of the symptoms that accompany the various types of headaches.

Type O Headaches Caused by Organic Disease

The most serious types of headaches other than those resulting from head injury are those caused by brain tumors, aneurysms, and other diseases that place pressure on the brain. A persistent, progressive headache accompanied by vomiting, weakness on one side of the body, convulsions, mental changes, or disturbances in speech or sight should be investigated immediately by a neurologist. Such symptoms could indicate a serious problem.

If you have a persistent headache or any of the symptoms mentioned above, see your doctor. If a neurological examination is required, it might include such special tests as a lumbar puncture, an arteriogram, or a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) study of the brain. A lumbar puncture is a spinal tap used to test the contents and pressure of the spinal fluids that circulate around the brain. In an arteriogram, a contrast agent (dye) is injected into the arteries so that the arteries in and around the brain can be visualized with X rays, computerized tomography (CT), or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). A CT scan uses X rays, while an MRI uses magnetic energy that does not involve radiation.

Headache associated with fever could be the result of disease or infection. Meningitis (an inflammation of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord), for example, would be suspected when fever, vomiting, or other symptoms are accompanied by a stiff neck. Kidney infection is usually accompanied by fever that causes a headache. I frequently see patients in my office who complain of backache and headache, but do not know that they have a fever caused by kidney infection.

You'll learn in Chapter 2 how a simple stiff neck caused by arthritis or tight neck muscles can cause tension headache. When headache is accompanied by fever, however, you cannot assume that you are suffering from a simple tension or muscle contraction headache, no matter how tight your neck is. So be on guard and take your temperature.

Pain alone is not a reliable sign in judging the seriousness of a headache. Some severe headaches, such as Type O migraine and cluster vascular headaches, are extremely painful but not serious in their effect on your health. A more serious and potentially fatal brain tumor may be less painful than a simple tension headache since brain tissue does not have pain fibers. Pain may not be severe until expansion of the tumor produces pressure inside the skull. Headaches that come and go and last only a few hours or a few days are usually not serious and are most often of the tension and migraine variety. If you have high blood pressure and you develop a sudden, severe headache accompanied by drowsiness or muscular weakness, your doctor might want to examine you for a brain hemorrhage. A drooping eyelid and a stiff neck might mean that a blood vessel has broken in the membranes that cover your brain. Once again, however, these are unusual symptoms that should alert you and your doctor to the possibility that you might be suffering from something more serious that a simple tension headache.

Temporal arteritis, infection and inflammation of blood vessels on one or both sides of the head, may be mistaken for migraine and can lead to such serious complications as stroke or blindness. This Type O disease is often associated with polymyalgia, or aching and stiffness in muscles, and may be detected in an early stage only by the most observant physician.

The Puzzle of Migraine Headache

Migraine headaches are recurring systemic headaches that are preceded by visual disturbances and are accompanied by nausea or vomiting. Although the cause of migraine is often not known, this type of headache is usually so severe that a neurological examination should be done to rule out organic disease. Migraines usually recur despite all you do to prevent them. Blood chemical changes that constrict or dilate blood vessels to trigger migraine can be caused by such everyday factors as low blood sugar or a food protein (such as amines) in susceptible persons.

Some less severe migraine and pseudomigraine headaches that resemble migraine can be relieved with simple home remedies. In the case of classic migraine, however, special drugs, such as an ergotamine derivative, can be used to relieve severe pain by constricting dilated blood vessels. However, such drugs must be prescribed by a physician who has correctly diagnosed your headache.

Recognizing a Cluster Headache

Not much is known about the cause of cluster headaches. They occur primarily in men and are the most painful of all headaches. Fortunately, this type of headache is not common, affecting less than 1 percent of the population. A cluster headache, like a migraine, is a systemic vascular response to a variety of factors, ranging from stress to food chemicals, that trigger constriction and then dilation of blood vessels around the brain.

When cluster headaches occur, there is usually severe pain on one side of the head, along with a runny nose and a watery eye on the side with the pain. Although this type of headache is often diagnosed as a sinus problem, it may, in fact, be another form of vascular headache, much like migraine. There may be short, severe attacks of pain lasting twenty minutes to three hours, occurring two or three times a day for as long as four to six weeks. The pain of cluster headaches is so severe that the sufferer may have to rely upon a physician for prescription medication.

If you suffer from cluster migraines, it may be helpful to avoid foods containing nitrites as well as medications containing histamine and other ingredients that might dilate blood vessels. You should therefore familiarize yourself with the effects of foods, beverages, and medications that tend to dilate your blood vessels. You'll learn more about this in Chapter 2.

Since a cluster headache often goes into remission for months or years at a time, you should not assume that you have found a cure for the headache when it does not recur for a while. You should continue to practice prevention every day by avoiding any possible food or factor in your environment that might trigger a cluster headache.

Tracking Type M Headaches

Type O headaches are often severe and persistent and are frequently accompanied by other symptoms, such as nausea or visual disturbances. Simple Type M headaches are often due to tightness in the neck and shoulders, triggered by fatigue or stress. While there are many things you can do to help prevent and relieve some types of Type O headaches, such as migraine, you should always be under the care of a physician. When it has been established that your headache is of the Type M variety, the most common type of headache, treatment and prevention will be entirely up to you. Chapter 2 will tell you how to relieve tension headache as well as how to prevent vascular headaches caused by foods and environmental factors.

Headaches that are difficult to diagnose might require the special abilities of a physician who can recognize the symptoms of such problems as glaucoma, mastoiditis, lead poisoning, carbon monoxide inhalation, food allergies, ketosis from rapid weight loss, kidney failure, and other conditions in which headache is only one of many symptoms. There are headache clinics throughout the United States where you can receive special attention for an undiagnosed headache.

How to Determine the Cause of Your Neck, Shoulder, and Arm Pain

Neck, shoulder, or arm pain can occur separately or in combination and may or may not be related to a neck problem. It usually takes a little detective work to determine the source of the pain. With a little instruction, you can become a pretty good medical sleuth. And you can feel confident in offering your services to other members of your family when the need arises.

That Pain in Your Neck

Neck pain is most often musculoskeletal in nature; that is, mechanical or Type M. Neck pain referred from some other portion of the body through connecting nerve fibers is less common but more serious and should be diagnosed without delay. A heart, lung, gall bladder, or blood vessel problem, for example, commonly refers pain to the neck.

Generally, there is one simple way to distinguish Type M from Type O neck pain. If you feel pain in your neck when you move your head or lift your arms, chances are the muscles and joints of the neck are involved. In a simple muscle spasm or "crick," for example, which often occurs on one side of the neck and upper back, rotating the head toward the painful side will usually intensify the pain and restrict movement. When neck pain is relieved by rest or immobility and aggravated by movement, the problem is probably mechanical and not serious. If the pain is constant and is not affected by movement of the neck, however, there may be a possibility that the pain is being referred to the neck from somewhere else.

A Case of Type O Neck Pain

A patient came into my office complaining of a severe neck pain that did not affect movement of his neck and that could not be aggravated by mechanical testing, such as placing pressure on the cervical spine and its supporting muscles. A history of heart trouble prompted referral to a cardiologist who diagnosed pericarditis, an inflammation of the lining surrounding the heart.

For home diagnosis, it's enough to know that pain not aggravated by movement might be coming from an internal source, while pain relieved by rest and increased by movement is probably mechanical in nature.


Excerpted from The Chiropractor's Self-Help Back and Body Book by Samuel Homola Copyright © 2002 by Samuel Homola . Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents


List of Illustrations....................x
Preface: How to Use This Book....................xiv
Introduction: What This Book Can Do for You....................1
1 * Pinpointing the Cause of Your Head, Neck, Shoulder, Arm, Back, and Leg Pain....................4
2 * Headache: Home Treatment and Prevention....................30
3 * How to Relieve Neck, Shoulder, and Arm Pain....................53
4 * What You Can Do about Back, Hip, and Leg Pain....................75
5 * How You Can Loosen and Align Your Spinal Joints Safely and Effectively....................119
6 * How to Eat to Reduce Body Weight and Relieve Backache....................140
7 * Protective and Remedial Exercise in a Personalized Back-Care Program....................164
8 * How to Handle Spinal Arthritis in a Self-Help Program....................182
9 * How to Prevent Back Strain by Using Proper Sitting, Standing, Lifting, and Sleeping Postures....................203
10 * Preventing and Easing Back Pain During Pregnancy....................222
11 * How to Protect a Painful Back During Sex and while Pregnant....................231
12 * Evaluating Back and Leg Pain after Middle Age....................240
13 * When You Need the Help of a Specialist....................248
14 * Sense and Nonsense in Chiropractic Care of Back Pain....................259
15 * Questions Patients Commonly Ask about Back Trouble....................268
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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 27, 2002

    Lifelong Treatment and Prevention of Back and Body Problems -for Every Member of the Family

    Backache is the second most common ailment among the general population, the most common cause of disability among persons under the age of 45, and the third most common reason for surgery performed in the United States. Since back trouble is a major health problem, there is a great need for reader friendly, authoritative books offering self-help instructions for persons who want to help themselves in preventing and treating this common problem. While the primary focus of 'The Chiropractor's Self-Help Back and Body Book' is on back trouble, the book also covers a variety of problems commonly associated with neck and back trouble, such as arm and leg pain and tension headache. Other causes of these common aches and pains are also discussed so that the reader can distinguish back-related problems from more serious problems, such as headache caused by brain tumors, arm pain caused by heart disease, and leg pain caused by circulatory insufficiency. Every member of the family can benefit from this comprehensive guide. Even those who do not now have back pain can benefit from information on weight control, arthritis, headache, scoliosis, osteoporosis, and other problems that may or may not be associated with a neck or back problem. Offering safe, natural remedies that are in great demand, this unique book can be used in a self-help plan for lifelong treatment and prevention of common back and body problems.

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