Coping with Chronic Pain

This post is brought to you by one of our blog readers! Jackie Waters reached out to us and has some excellent advice for living a healthy lifestyle. Jackie was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis in her mid-20s, and she has found a way to make many lifestyle changes to help manage the ups and downs that can come with rheumatoid arthritis. Check out her article below on coping with chronic pain! It is filled with great advice and good links to other sources to help you, and don’t forget that chiropractic care can also be a great adjunctive therapy to manage RA or any source of chronic pain.

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Dealing with the shock of a life-altering diagnosis can turn your world upside down. It’s important that in the middle of it all, you remember that there is hope and ways to safely manage your symptoms. Here’s some advice on how you can deal with your newly diagnosed condition and how to cope with the chronic pain that may come with it.

First take the time to process the news as well as your emotions. The Center for Advancing Health points out that, “There is rarely only one way to treat a disease, so take time to do some research, investigate your options, get a second opinion and find the right specialist.” Feelings of hopelessness and depression are perfectly normal. Make time for yourself and find support in those around you. It’s okay to be afraid, and sometimes the best medicine is that of a listening ear.

There are also several relaxation techniques to consider that will make your life easier, one of which is exercise. While you may be tempted to avoid exercise due to the pain, according to Exercise Right, “Research has shown that exercise can be an effective way to reverse this downward cycle of deconditioning and worsening pain, and gradually over time help those with chronic pain engage more in activities of enjoyment and essential activities of daily living with greater ease.” Start slowly and opt for shorter workouts instead of going for the long haul. Routinely monitor your pain levels and focus on flexibility, stretching when winding down a workout to avoid stiff muscles. Mix it up and pick something fun to do so you’re not concentrating on pain. Consider low-impact exercises such as swimming, biking, walking, dancing, and even gardening. Warm water especially relaxes your muscles, and meditation as well as yoga are also healthy coping mechanisms to practice. You should, however, try to limit your physical activity to time frames when your medication is in full affect.

Getting a pet can bring a calming influence into your life and help cheer you up. A pet also will keep you active and provide endless companionship. Consider spending more time pursuing a hobby like knitting, pottery, or photography to bring peace to your mind and ease your worries. Get plenty of rest, stick to a routine, and practice good posture. Additionally, breathing exercises and aromatherapy relax the body as well as the mind. Try escaping by reading a good book, visualizing a serene and happy place, or indulging in a warm bath and spa treatment. Heat and ice work to reduce inflammation and pain. However, you should also consult a doctor or therapist and take any medication he or she prescribes you regularly.

Creating a healthy and peaceful home environment will also help you to keep a positive mindset and control any anxiety. Work to achieve minimal clutter by getting rid of things you don’t use or that don’t bring you joy. Rearrange your items for storage for better organization and even rethink your furniture placement in order to make room for a meditation space. Decide what you want to be the focal point in your house, whether it be a window, fireplace, or entertainment system. Let lots of natural light in so you have a warm and cozy atmosphere. Paint the walls with tranquil colors and fill your home with comfortable seating, candles, greenery, books, art, blankets, soft music, and pillows. This will help manifest an intimate setting where you feel at home.

Lastly, take solace in knowing that you are not alone. There are others out there suffering too, and by joining a support group, you may find additional comfort and companionship. Others suffering from chronic pain also may offer solutions based on their own experiences that you may not have thought of.


Want to learn more from Jackie? Check out her website! Have any tips of your own? Let us know in the comments! 

Backpack Basics

Summer is drawing to a close. Goodbye days of bare feet and beach attire (well at least on weekdays-–we do live in Southern California after all). It's time to go back to school. Heading back to school also means lugging backpacks, lunches, and often sports/band/extracurricular gear. All of that stuff can really wear students down! On top of that, wearing your backpack incorrectly over long periods of time can lead to back, shoulder, and/or neck pain. Improper fitting backpacks or just having too much stuff can lead to altered posture or gait. To keep your kids' bodies healthy, we have a few tips to help make sure your kids are wearing their backpacks correctly!

Select Chiropractic backpacks Carlsbad
  1. Pack only the essentials.
    Lay out all the items that you think you may need, and then decide what you can’t go without. Pack the essentials, and leave the rest at home. The ideal backpack weight should be no more than 10-15% of the wearer’s body weight. The smaller the child, the more important this is.

  2. Pack with a plan.
    When loading the backpack, distribute the weight evenly. Make sure the heaviest items are packed in the center to prevent slouching or tilting to one side.
  3. Adjust the backpack to the wearer.
    Make sure the straps are tightened so that the backpack is secure on both shoulders and rests on the curve of your back. If it is hanging down resting on your bottom, it is too low.
  4. Wear the backpack with BOTH straps all the time.
    This promotes even posture. Good posture is its own reward!
  5. Make sure it’s comfortable (and stays comfortable).
    Once a bag has been fitted, it doesn’t mean it never needs to be adjusted again. Throughout the school year, your child may grow and the straps may slip/loosen over time. Make sure to check the straps throughout the year, and note that the straps may slip/loosen asymmetrically.
  6. Minimize wearing time.
    If your child has access to cubbies/cubicles/lockers encourage them to use them! This can keep their bags lighter and takes stress off their spine.

Any other questions regarding spine health and backpacks? Feel free to reach out to us! Or come by, and we'll assess that your child is wearing their backpack correctly! 


Summer Vacation Back Pain

It's summertime!! The official start to summer is June 20 at 9:24 PM (that's the time of the summer solstice). Summer is often filled with fun trips and vacations, but we want to make sure that your trips and vacations aren't ruined or subdued due to back aches and pains. Whether you're traveling by planes, trains, or automobiles, we've got tips for you! 

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Rule #1 - Hydrate!
Often times when traveling, we get out of our daily schedule and routine. We can easily forget to stay hydrated and drink lots of water. Or we can intentionally not drink water to avoid rest stops on the highway. Dehydration can cause back pain. This is because the discs in your back have a high water concentration. When you dehydrate your self, they shrink, and this can put more stress on your spine. 

Rule #2 - Don't Sit Still
Since you are going to be super hydrated and stopping more frequently for bathroom breaks, this will be easy. Our bodies love movement. Getting out of your seat and moving around can help prevent aches and pains associated with travel. It also stimulates blood flow around your body. This means your brain can stay sharp and functioning well if you are driving and navigating. It means that your muscles will get fresh supplies of nutrients. It will also help drive the lubrication of your joints with synovial fluid (the fluid that keeps your joints moving like a well oiled machine). You can also do some stretches while traveling! Check out our previous post on good posture stretches! They're great for in the car, too.

Rule #3 - Support your back
Most airplane and train seats aren't designed with spinal alignment in mind. Some cars boast having comfortable seats for long drives, but they still may not offer the support that you need. Whenever going on trips, I like to have a lumbar roll for support. There are tons of options out there, but you can also craft your own. I find that towels can easily be rolled up to make your own lumbar roll. Place the lumbar roll where your low back hits on your seat. This supports your low back, and enables you to sit with good posture while traveling. 

Rule #4 - If you're going to sleep, sleep supported
If you are planning on sleeping on a plane, train, or as a passenger in a car, make sure you are supported. Drifting off to sleep and just letting your head flop whatever direction gravity takes it, can leave you waking up with a stiff and painful neck. The number of travel pillow options these days is absurd but awesome! This website has a whole list of the best travel pillows for every scenario. Personally, I'm a fan of the animal pillow although I'm not sure if they come in adult size (which is a shame). 

Got travel plans for summer? Stop in to get adjusted and learn how to make the most of your trip. 


3 Ways to Beat June Gloom

Most people think that we always have perfect weather here in Southern California, but then they visit in June... Meet June Gloom.


June Gloom is the affectionate name for the heavy clouds and cooler weather that we experience most Junes due to some science stuff (cool waters and higher atmospheric pressure). Sometimes June Gloom comes early and we get May Grey. All this dreary weather can really put a damper on your mood. This week we're going to talk about 3 ways to beat June Gloom. 

  1. Exercise more
  2. Eat better foods
  3. Get adjusted

Exercise is a great way to combat the woes of June Gloom. Studies show that exercise can help with treating and preventing depression. Exercise doesn't have to be super intense to get the benefits either. As little as 20-35 minutes a day of low level activities have been shown to help with feelings of depression. Need some motivation to exercise? Call a buddy! Find a group to exercise with! There are lots of free fitness groups around. You can also garden as a form of exercise. The cloudy skies and cooler weather are a great time to get out and dig in the dirt! Or make a deal with your pet to take it on daily walks. 

Eating better foods can also do wonders on your mood. The central nervous system (your brain and spinal cord) interacts a lot with your enteric nervous system (more than 100 million nerve cells lining your gastrointestinal tract from esophagus to rectum).  Older research thought that depression and anxiety could lead to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and other gastrointestinal complaints, but new research shows that it could be the other way around! So feed your body whole foods that aren't processed. Go for lean, grass fed meats or wild caught fish. Fill up on vegetables and fruits. Try kombucha for giving your gut good bacteria (probiotics) to help with digestion of nutrients. 

Lastly, get adjusted! Chiropractic adjustments keep you moving well! When you can move better, you feel better! And don't forget to focus on good posture still even though Posture Month is over.