how we can help

 So much more than cracking spines…

There is more to chiropractic than cracking spines and relieving pain. Your entire body – muscles, organs and all functions – are controlled by your brain through the nervous system. The main pathway utilized by the nervous system is your spinal cord, running straight through the middle of your spine; when your spine is not properly aligned, it pinches down on that nervous system, causing your body to malfunction. Our primary focus is on achieving wellness. By correcting the alignment of your spine, we can help you reach whole-body health. It is our goal to help you become a happier, healthier person through regular chiropractic care.

Some of the Ways We Can Help

Dr Jim and KidsChiropractic care for children is different from that for adults because it’s tailored to their age and weight. Adjustments often require no more pressure than you’d use to test the ripeness of a tomato.

We regularly adjust newborn children to be sure their spine is lined up correctly after those long nine months in the womb and the added stress through the intensity of birth. We continue to adjust through early childhood—fixing problems caused by the rigours of learning to walk or ride a bike—right on up through high school to keep their nervous system healthy as they get bumped and thumped during sporting events or the stress of growing.

using-asthma-inhaler

Most likely, someone you know well suffers from asthma or difficulty in breathing. While breathing, your body takes in air which passes through the nose, the windpipe and the bronchi. It is then filtered, purified, cleansed, warmed and humidified before it enters your lungs. This all happens under the guidance of the nervous system.

In children and adults who have asthma, the small tubes in the lungs, called bronchioles, become inflamed and irritated. They then contract and even spasm and produce mucus which can plug up the breathing passages. The victim literally gasps for air. These “attacks” can last minutes or hours and can persist for a lifetime.

Allergies, stress, pollen or pollution can bring on life-threatening attacks. These children and adults are condemned to a life of bronchodilators (inhalers), drugs and steroids to name a few – all of which have serious side effects. The side effects can be immediate or develop over a lifetime of chronic drug use. I have been fortunate to help children and adults with asthma for years through chiropractic care.

One example is a wonderful woman named Ann. Ann was 51 years old when I first met her. She came to our office having heard from a friend that we could help her be free of the debilitating migraine headaches that she had been suffering from. After gathering information through x-rays, scan, and neurological testing at Ann’s initial appointment it was clear that there were a number of serious issues with Ann’s Cervical and Thorasic spine. I created a plan of treatment tailored to Ann’s needs. Ann was a great and committed patient. She followed the battle plan that I had laid out for her very well. As spring rolled in that year, Ann mentioned to me that her medical doctor did not feel she needed the extra boost in her “shots” this season since she had not had any asthma attacks or other allergy related symptoms in a few months. Ahhhhaaa. Here was my opportunity to bring to life all the chiropractic chatter that I had been telling Ann for months!

I reminded Ann of how chiropractic care works. How the spine is the house for our nervous system. How our nervous system controls every operation in our body. How if the spinal bones (vertebrae) are out of place they will squeeze on the nervous system so that it cannot tell specific organs, glands or systems how to operate optimally. I reviewed how if there are subluxations (bones out of place) in the Thorasic area of the spine it will directly affecting the ability of the nervous system to communicate to the lungs. Then I casually took her to the x-ray room, (though I was brewing with excitement to see yet another patient truly understand what chiropractic is all about!) I showed Ann her x-rays. First I showed her the x-ray we took on her first visit to our office. She could see that indeed she did have subluxations at C1, C2, and C3. Clearly the respiratory centers here were affected. Just as clearly evident were the subluxation at T1, T2, and T3. This is the area with nerves that affect the lungs and bronchia. I also showed her a more recent x-ray of her spine which showed all these vertebrae progressing back to their rightful healthy position!

Ann looked at me with eyes popped wide open as well as a gaping mouth. “Wow” was all she could muster at that time. I absolutely love those “Wow” moments. But this story gets better. By the 6 month marker in her treatment plan, Ann told me that she was no longer taking any asthma or allergy medication. Her medical doctor had written her a clean bill of health!  After 40 Years…that’s right 40 years of medication to control her asthma she was finally free.

The body is a self-healing, self-regulating organism. As long as the nervous system is allowed to function with no interference, the body should function normally. Often, however, some of the vertebrae of the spine become subluxated (moved out of place), affecting the way the nervous system controls body functions. By correcting these subluxations,chiropractors eliminate interference to the nervous system, allowing normal function.

–Dr. Jim Schaffer

man-stomach-ache

Almost everyone I meet wants to know if Chiropractic can help them or their children and loved ones, with a particular problem. So, I am going to discuss some of the health problems many people are plagued with that respond incredibly well with Chiropractic care; digestive issues.

I simply cannot believe the numbers of people I meet out and about, and see at our office with digestive problems. Would you believe that 20% of the population has digestive difficulties? That is not OK! It is estimated that over 70 million people in North America suffer from digestive problems. Most of these patients feel that their difficulties are just an inconvenience. That they can get by with only the occasional stomach cramping, the occasional constipation, and the weekly diarrhea! Many hold the belief that rectal bleeding is normal, that blood in the stool is OK, explosive gas is fine, dizziness and trembling are normal, and that missing work or school because of these difficulties is just part of life – par for the course!

So many people are affected that there seems to be a sense that there is “safety in numbers.” That it somehow seems almost “normal.” I hate to burst your bubble, but I would like to be emphatic here – it’s NOT! Have you ever wondered why, in such a technologically advanced society, so many people are sick? Look…In the year 2000 alone, the pharmaceutical industry sold over 96 billion dollars in drugs to “treat” digestive problems! My suspicious side is telling me that it is profitable for you to be sick.

Hmmm… Many people don’t really understand that symptoms of digestive distress are usually indicators that there is a malfunction somewhere within the system. Ignoring such signs is akin to having Cerebral Constipation. Such thinking doesn’t handle the reason for these symptoms. One thing I have learned from my experience in practice and the experience of other doctors like me: The body does not like to be ignored. And we talked about what symptoms really mean in the past – the fact that they are a warning – your personal alarm system!

Let’s take a look at your digestive tribulations more closely: your digestive system is essentially a long tube that starts at your mouth and ends at your other end. It has one purpose-to extract nutrients and energy from the foods we eat. That’s it! Your digestive organs: esophagus, stomach, liver, gall bladder, intestines, etc., are simply modifications of that tube. Certain digestive enzymes, juices, acids, and other additives are secreted into this system to make the digestion of foods and thus the extraction of energy, more efficient and productive. This system is very efficient as long as it is functioning normally.

The three most common conditions affecting intestinal function that I see in my practice are: Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Ulcerative Colitis, and Crohn’s Disease. Although not exactly the same most specialists feel, they all have a great deal in common and escalate in severity. I personally feel they are all the same – just its different stages have been given different names.

Crohn’s Disease: This is the most serious. It is classified as an Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) and is a long-term, chronic ulceration of the digestive tract. This condition extends through all the layers of your “digestive tube” In essence, the digestive system attempts to heal the localized ulcers and sores, and tends to produce scar tissue in the process This can literally restrict the movement of food through the system. These are referred to as strictures and can be very serious and life-threatening. Ulcerative Colitis: It usually involves the internal “mucosa” and “submucosa” layers of the intestine and the symptoms are almost identical to Crohn’s Disease. IBS is even lesser on this scale. It has been noted that Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis increase the risk of colon cancer by as much as twenty times. This can also be said for IBS to a certain degree.

If left untreated, bowel function slowly deteriorates and can be life threatening. The most common medical treatment for these conditions is anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic medication, surgery and diet. And while sometimes necessary, this type of approach does not really deal with the cause of these conditions – instead, it addresses just the symptoms.

As a chiropractor, I see these conditions in a different light. One needs to remember that we are dealing with human beings, not simply their intestines. Our approach recognizes that difference. Many people, for instance, are surprised to learn that the body is a self-healing and a self-regulating organism. In other words, it is designed to heal itself and regulate its own functions. For some unknown reason, those who are affected with these conditions are not doing it! Their body is not healing! WHY? You probably have not given this much thought, but you are on “auto-pilot.”

For example, the cells lining your digestive tract deteriorate continuously and are replaced daily by brand new cells doing the same exact function. This is normal and is totally controlled by your internal “auto-pilot” – known as your Nervous System. In the case of Crohn’s Disease, for example, cells in the intestine die, but are not necessarily replaced by new, healthy cells. This is why the intestine eventually deteriorates and ulcerates. This can be life threatening. Why would that be?

One must also remember that your Nervous System runs the whole body and all of its functions: the immune system, the heart, your healing ability, etc., including the digestive system. All these functions are under direct orders and control of the Nervous System. So…what can interfere with the function of the Nervous System to the point where bowel function and even life are threatened? The answer will surprise you: If one of the vertebrae of the spine becomes subluxated (moves out of its correct position), especially in the lower spine, it will interfere with the way the nervous system sends messages to the intestinal area – the intestines and bowel will no longer be able to function normally – the Body will now do its “own thing.” It seems so simple and yet so profound!

A number of studies have shown that this is exactly the case with Crohn’s, Ulcerative Colitis, and IBS; that these conditions are neurologically based. This means that the Nervous System is no longer able to control the normal function of the intestinal area. That is a problem. This is my mission – I am mainly concerned with re-establishing the normal function of the nervous system so that the body is, once again, able to heal itself. Simple. A subluxation (vertebrae out of place), which has caused this scope of damage, has become a pattern the body has learned, a habit – and a bad one! Any chiropractor who attempts to deal with this habit will, in all likelihood, place a patient suffering with these conditions on a very intense schedule to start with. The reason is to be able to obliterate this habit. To wipe it out! No more! The goal here is to correct the Subluxation and care should be directed at correction, not simply feeling better. That is what Chiropractic is all about. Correcting the problem, not masking the symptoms. The number one recommendation I could make is to see me right away. I am here to help you and I will not give up! Please…if you have any questions, or would like any information on any health topic, it would be my pleasure to help you!

–Dr. Jim Schaffer

arthritis knee

In a past article I spoke about our daughter, Chelsea, who went to Peru this past summer on a mission trip. During her time there she stayed with a family in the village of Irubamba. One of the many interesting things that she learned was that it was very common for adults and children to be toothless. Given their culture and lifestyle one might be inclined to say that this is normal. That it is appropriate to lose ones teeth at an early age in Irubamba.

Well, I have an interesting correlation for you today. In our culture here in the western world, we say it is ok or normal or appropriate to have arthritis as we age. I have heard from new patients that arrive at our office, all too often, “My doctor says I have ‘Age Appropriate Arthritis’. Personally, I am surprised that it hasn’t been made into an acronym yet….”You have AAA!”

Guess what? I disagree. There is no such thing as age appropriate arthritis. Please read on and I will explain my statement.

If we go back in history we find that for most of the early colonial period dentistry was a rare and unusual practice in United States. There are documented situations where the barber or blacksmith would be called to pull a tooth. At that time, that was normal and appropriate care.

I am grateful to say that over the last 2 centuries agents and devices have evolved, through research, to enable people, with professional assistance, to maintain good oral health. Our diets, our lifestyles and professional expertise have influenced what is now considered appropriate oral health. I am happy to say, in our culture today it is not ok or normal or appropriate to loose your teeth at an early age.

So back to Age Appropriate Arthritis. I’ve been a chiropractor a long time now and at this point in my career I have seen hundreds of thousands of spinal x-rays…of all ages…young and old. I have seen spines that are in there 70’s that were much healthier than many 20 year old spines.

How could that be, I hear you asking? If you were to take 26 wooden blocks and stack them very carefully, straight up one on top of the other, on a hard surface, it would be a pretty stable structure. Now take those same 26 blocks and pile them up haphazardly. Now what? The slightest tap could tumble the whole thing!

When I take an x-ray of a patient, I have them stand in what is called a “neutral” position. The patient is asked to look straight ahead. Place arms at your sides, in a relaxed, comfortable position. From a rear view we that your spinal column is made up of 26 individual bones and they should stack up neatly, one on top of the other in a straight line. The closer your spine is to lining up nice and neatly, the more stable your spine will be. When your spine is not as neatly lined up, more on the lines of haphazard, the less stable your spine becomes and the more physical stress you will put on joints between the bones that are not lining up properly.

Have you ever had the freedom to walk barefoot in the summer often enough to create calluses on the bottom of your feet? Callous tissue is a lot tougher than and has developed due to the physical stress / friction that has occurred to the bottom of your feet. It is your body’s way of protecting your feet.

When your spinal bones do not line up the joints start to develop this callous tissue. This is defined as the first stage in the development of arthritis. It may be developing for several years before it starts to break down the cartilage in your joints. The next step is for your body to lay down deposits of calcium in the joints. These are known more commonly as “Bones Spurs”.

Often at this point, when an x-ray shows bone spurs a person is told they have Arthritis. Also known as Osteoarthritis, Degenerative Joint Disease, and Degenerative Disc Disease (and possible in the near future AAA).

I simply refer to it as Spinal Decay. It is the result of poor spinal care. The bones that are misaligned need to be returned to their correct position. If this happens on a regular basis, the entire process of degenerating never begins.

What a chiropractic adjustment does is break up the callous tissue that has been forming in the misaligned joint. Each adjustment breaks up a little more and more of this tissue with each visit, always moving your bone back towards its proper position. The bone sours also begin to break down.

There is a portion of your Immune System called the Phagocyts that come along and gather the “broken up” fibrotic tissue and deposit them into the Lymphatic System, whose job it is to remove them from your body. (I couldn’t help adding a little extra anatomy. The human body just amazes me so much that I had to share.)

As your spine begins to go back to its normal position, there is less stress on your joints and your cells begin to regenerate. The process is very similar to when summer is over and you no longer walk barefoot, your feet lose their callous. Your skin will regenerate and become smooth.

Yes, what I am saying is that the damage caused by arthritis is reversible!

It is also important to know that if your spinal bones have degenerated so far that one has fused to the other, I am sorry to say, Chiropractors cannot help. It is too late. The bones are fused together and therefore cannot be adjusted. I will also emphasize that that is not the norm and I would encourage anyone who has been told they have any type of arthritis to have a chiropractor look at your x-rays. Our education for reading x-rays is much more extensive than other professions and the information we seek may be different than what another review may have been looking for.

So as you can see, if you take care of your spine…..if you keep it stacked up correctly, arthritis in your spine will never have a chance to begin. Even at age 100. The patients I see in their 70’s with healthier spines that kids in their 20’s have taken care of their spine. They recognize spinal health is as important as oral health. They have evolved with research and professional assistance to practice good spinal health.

I urge you and your family to do the same. See a chiropractor if you have been told you have Osteoarthritis or “age appropriate arthritis”. And please, have a chiropractor check your children to be sure that even though they jump and fall and bump, their spinal bones are in the right place!

If you have any questions that you would more information about, please don’t hesitate to call our office.

–Dr. Jim Schaffer

fibromyalgia

I recently read results from a survey known as “We Feel”. It stands for women expressing fibromyalgia effects on their everyday lives. The survey found that 43% of respondents enjoyed relief from their symptoms by using alternative therapies such as chiropractic, massage and meditation. That is a pretty good percentage, especially considering that the “alternative therapies” were randomly received.

The goal of the survey was designed to gather data and better understand perspectives on diagnosis and treatment, as well as the impact of the condition on patient’s daily activities and types of support or care patients received.

The medical profession still has many questions as to the causes of fibromyalgia. The typical medical response is to prescribe potent drug combinations such as pain medication, anti-depressants, sleeping aids, and still others.

Since prescription drugs have been relatively ineffective and carry a host of risks and side effects it seems that looking to “alternative treatment ‘would make a great deal of sense. Fibromyalgia causes patients to have aches and pains all over the body; many suffer from back and neck pain, as well as leg pain. We know patients are increasingly searching for non-drug solutions. Therefore many suffers have sought out chiropractic care to relieve their pain.

The report also provides evidence to patients with fibromyalgia that chiropractic is useful in helping relieve the severity or frequency of their symptoms.

In 1985 there was a study done on 81 patients in whom after 15 adjustments the patients reported less pain, less fatigue and better sleep.

Now, if you are a regular reader of my column you know that back pain is NOT what chiropractic is all about…so please, read on.

There is additional evidence that supports the neurological component of chiropractic as the true reason for chiropractic’s effectiveness in addressing fibromyalgia.

As posted on altmd.com:

“Current research suggests that fibromyalgia is a disorder of the central nervous system. People with fibrolyalgia appear to have abnormalities in the chemical compounds that transmit nerve impulses. They also have, on average, four times a much nerve growth factor as people without the disorder.”

This suggests that fibromyalgia is a problem of Central Nervous System hypersensitivity. Because, as we say week in and week out… chiropractic is based on the fact that an individual’s health is controlled by the state of their nervous system! Chiropractors, who by their education are experts in the Central Nervous System, are well suited to help patients reduce their fibromyalgia symptoms.

–Dr. Jim Schaffer

PMS

It’s not all in your head! There is evidence of nerve compromise to your reproductive organs. Chiropractic care has helped many patients.

Estimates suggest that up to 90% of women suffer from some form of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) with 10 -20% experiencing severe or disabling symptoms.

I am happy to say that women today, while needing to overcome the symptoms of menstrual or premenstrual discomfort, they are unwilling to compromise their health to do that. They search for a natural solution that avoids drugs. Well, if you’ve read anything I have written you know that is what chiropractic care is about. Here is what I mean…..

Nerve impulses flow from your brain down your spinal cord within your spine. Pairs of nerve roots branch off from between each spinal bone. These nerves link your brain to every cell and organ inside your body and control and coordinate every function of your body. Because of the nerves’ close proximity to the moving bones of the spine, improper motion or position of spinal bones can irritate and compromise nerve function. This spinal misalignment is called a vertebral subluxation.

The spine, especially in the lower back, can impair nerves that direct and monitor the reproductive and hormonal systems. Women with undetected vertebral subluxations can suffer from a wide variety of female health problems including pelvic pain, PMS, incontinence, sexual dysfunctions and even infertility.

It’s not all in your head! If there’s evidence of nerve compromise to your reproductive organs, chiropractic care may help. The way we determine if there is evidence of nerve compromise is through a series of neurological and orthopedic tests, as well as a manual spinal exam. We will also take x-rays if these initial tests suggest that there is a subluxation or any interference to the nervous system.

Some of the side effects that women may suffer with when proper nervous system regulation of the reproductive system is disturbed due to abnormal position of spinal bones are:

Over Activity: such as heavy bleeding or severe cramping

Under Activity: including missed periods or infertility.

Distorted Activity: cells that normally line the uterus, implant elsewhere causing bleeding, pain and reduced fertility.

The good news in this grim article is that Chiropractic Care can help!

As a Chiropractor, my job is to return the bones to their correct position. This allows the nervous system to function as it is designed to do. Restoring the nervous system will help relieve the debilitating symptoms of PMS and it will allow for better function of the entire reproductive system and the other systems too. And of course the side of effect of all that is….A Healthy You!

If you, or someone you love, are put out of commission every month, encourage her to come in for a thorough chiropractic examination.

I hope that helps some of our female Phoenixvillians…and perhaps some of the males.

–Dr. Jim Schaffer

pregnancy

You may be surprised to learn that Chiropractic care is essential for pregnant moms. Aside from the relief it can offer from the discomforts sometimes associated with pregnancy, such as constipation, leg cramps, nausea, back and neck pain, etc., its main focus, however, is not pain.

There are two very profound principles within Chiropractic that we should be thinking about when we discuss expectant mothers and the precious cargo they carry:

  1. That the nervous system is the master control system of the body
  2. Any interference in the function of the nervous system must then result in a malfunction in the body.

Applied to pregnancy, this is of utmost importance to the developing fetus. I feel that in order to have the best possible pregnancy, Mom’s nervous system must function with no interference; especially where it controls the uterus and placenta. This will reduce the risk of problems associated with pregnancy – miscarriage, placenta previa, etc. The biggest benefit of course, is having a healthy baby.

Chiropractors support the body’s own ability to adapt and function at its optimum level, the way it is designed and programmed to do. Chiropractic care is vital to the physiological functions for both the mother and the baby in pregnancy and birth!

By keeping the mothers spine in alignment it will reduce the interference to the mother’s nervous system which controls all of her systems and functions. Momma’s nervous system running at peak performance is like putting top grade gasoline in your car after a tune up! All the parts of the engine are running smooth! That means your baby is getting top quality information from her nervous system. Not clogged up or delayed information. Isn’t that what we all want for our babies?

Ensuring that a mothers Pelvic bones are level will also help ensure that the Uterus does not become contorted or twisted. Imagine the Uterus as a balloon. Now imagine that you twist the balloon. Can you see how there is less space in a twisted balloon? This is what happen to the Uterus when the pelvic bones are not level. It is a condition called In-Utero Constraint. In-utero constraint occurs usually in the last trimester of pregnancy when the baby has grown correctly but there is not as much room for him to move around into the natural birthing position because the “balloon is twisted”. This birthing position is commonly known as “breech”. Chiropractors adjust the pelvic bones throughout pregnancy to help prevent this situation.

Lastly, a Chiropractor can help a women through this time with the dreaded pain that starts in the low back and travels painfully down the leg. When a pregnant woman’s hips are not level there will be extra pressure on one side of the hips. Misalignment of the hips can happen to anyone, but a pregnant woman has the additional weight of the baby adding pressure, which irritates the nerve as well as the piriformis muscle. And that is what we all know as…Sciatica. This is a very common side effect of pregnancy that women just do not have to deal with. Have a Chiropractor check you as soon as you know you are pregnant, if not just to save you the torment of this common ailment, do it for the health benefits it brings your unborn baby!

Please call me if you want to discuss this further. It doesn’t matter what stage of pregnancy you are in Chiropractic can help.

–Dr. Jim Schaffer

Woman Standing on Scale

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–Dr. Jim Schaffer

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If you’d like to know more about how Chiropractic can help you, just ask!
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