4 Benefits of Using a Balance Board with a Standing Desk

If you’re like most people, a large percentage of your day is spent sitting down. You work at a desk, you drive to and from work, you come home and watch TV or use your computer. However, more people are waking up to the realization that sitting all day is unhealthy. The standing desk revolution is well underway. While you may already be sold on the importance of a standing desk, we recommend adding a balance board to your setup to enjoy even greater health benefits.

The Top 4 Advantages of Using a Balance Board with Your Standing Desk

For how simple it appears, using a balance board offers a number of benefits. Many of them apply to athletes, but the following are advantages associated with balancing movements that everyone should add to their lives.

  1. A Balance Board Forces You to Stabilize Your Muscles

Unless you’re constantly stabilizing your muscles – especially your core – you won’t be standing on your balance board for long. Muscle stabilization is extremely important. When you use a balance board, your lumbopelvic region must work to keep you upright. This region is left to atrophy when you sit all day and, as a result, you can end up with a core that struggles to carry its own weight when you begin moving around again.

  1. Micro-Movements are Better Than Just Standing

Standing beats sitting all day. If you’ve ever tried it for a prolonged period of time, though, you know that fidgeting soon sets in. You shift your weight from one side to another. You bend at your waist in different directions. Using a balance board makes it fun to stay standing. The micro-movements required to stay vertical are also fantastic forms of exercise that don’t require you to stop what you’re doing and find a gym.

  1. Low-Impact Movements Activate Different Parts of Your Body

The low-impact movements required to use a balance board force you to recruit muscles from all over your body. At the same time, unlike high-impact exercises, you’re not constantly risking injury. This makes low-impact activities great for people of all fitness levels and ages.

  1. A Balance Board Will Keep You Alert

Obviously, you can’t get away with snoozing while you’re on a balance board. However, moving throughout the day will also help you stay more alert. This is another big advantage a balance board has over using a standing desk all by itself. Even though you’re unlikely to fall asleep standing up, standing still can definitely become tiresome.

These are just a few of the many benefits a balance board offers. You receive none of these from being seated all day, which is one more reason sitting is so bad for your health.

Carpel Tunnel

Have you been experiencing pain and numbness in your hand at night?  This could signal carpal tunnel syndrome. Sometimes the symptoms can be so severe it wakes you up at night.  You may also experience similar symptoms in your neck, shoulder, upper arm or elbow.

The carpel (wrist) bones form a tunnel-like structure – the carpel tunnel – thru which pass nine tendons and one nerve – the median nerve.  CTS (carpel tunnel syndrome) occurs when the median nerve is irritated.

People who do repetitive tasks – housewives, secretaries, meat cutters, assembly line workers, carpenters, musicians, and computer users are susceptible to CTS.  The medical approach to treat CTS is to relieve the pain by wrist immobilization, ice or drugs (diuretics or anti- inflammatory).  If the symptoms persist, corticosteroids may be injected into the crease in the hand near the wrist which may provide relief but has a high relapse rate (and many side effects). Surgery may be resorted to with hand surgeons performing over 1000,000 operations a year for CTS. Recovery from such surgery may take from 6 months to 10 years.  And there is no guarantee this will fix your problem.

If you are suffering from CTS, you should see a chiropractor to ensure that your spinal column is free from nerve pressure between the arms and wrists and nerves in your neck.  The relationship between spinal health and CTS has been documented.

I have been successful treating CTS doing the following: Chiropractic adjustments to relieve irritation of the nerves to your arms and hands, myofascial therapy to break up scar tissue in the forearm that has caused the muscle to be weaker, and acupuncture for pain relief.   Call our office to make an appointment (479) 587-0227.

Can your job be a pain in the neck?

Have you experienced neck pain after a long day at work? There are many cause of neck pain, but one of the most common causes is related to poor posture, muscle fatigue and stress while in front of your computer or while at your desk.

Your head, which weighs approximately 10 pounds, is balanced on your cervical spine (the neck) and is controlled by muscles, tendons, and ligaments. It’s like balancing a bowling ball on a broom stick using dental floss and twine – if you don’t keep the bowling ball perfectly balanced on the stick, the ball will pull on the floss and twine, which will stretch and ultimately the ball will not stay in place! While your head will not fall off your neck, the damage done to the muscles, tendons, and ligaments by poor posture does require intervention.

Many of us have our work stations set up for us by either our employer or the previous person in the office. We never think to personalize the placement of our computer keyboard, mouse, monitor and telephone to fit our body. Just a few changes in the set up of your office can make a big difference in your neck pain:

  1. Make sure your desk, chair, table and work station are at the right height for you.
    2. Position your computer at eye level or just below eye level. You do not want to be looking up at the screen or looking down at a sharp angle at the screen.
    3. Keep all paperwork as close to eye level as possible. Try not to look up or down at sharp angles or look to the side and back at the monitor.
    4. Take frequent breaks from your work station. Get up, stretch tired muscles and allow your eyes a rest from your monitor.
    5. Use a hands free headset or speaker phone. Cradling the phone between your ear and shoulder quickly tires shoulder muscles and leads to issues with not only your neck, but your shoulder also.

If you are already experiencing pain in the shoulder or neck, treatment is necessary. Pain relievers only mask the problem, and you may inadvertently aggravate the problem because your body’s warning system – pain – has been temporarily turned off. A Doctor of Chiropractic will incorporate various techniques to fix any issues with your cervical spine, as well as the muscles and ligaments involved. They can also advise your on stress reduction and posture issues to help your body to function at its peak.

Carpel Tunnel Treatment

Many people experience pain, tingling, or numbness in their  hand or fingers.  This may signal carpal tunnel syndrome. Sometimes the symptoms can be so severe it wakes you up at night.  The symptoms can also sometimes be in your neck, shoulder, upper arm or elbow.

What causes the pain?  First, a little background on the physical mechanics of the wrist. The carpel (wrist) bones form a tunnel-like structure – the carpel tunnel – thru which pass nine tendons and one nerve – the median nerve.  CTS (carpel tunnel syndrome) occurs when the median nerve is irritated. People who do repetitive tasks – housewives, secretaries, meat cutters, assembly line workers, carpenters, musicians, and computer users are susceptible to CTS.

The medical approach to treat CTS is to relieve the pain by wrist immobilization, ice or drugs (diuretics or anti- inflammatory).  If the symptoms persist, corticosteroids may be injected into the crease in the hand near the wrist which may provide relief but has a high relapse rate (and many side effects). Surgery may be resorted to with hand surgeons performing over 1000,000 operations a year for CTS. Recovery from such surgery may take from 6 months to 10 years.  And there is no guarantee this will fix your problem.

However, there are options.  A chiropractor can examine you to ensure that your spinal column is free from nerve pressure between the arms and wrists and nerves in your neck.  The relationship between spinal health and CTS has been documented. I treat patients with CTS by doing the following:  Chiropractic adjustments to relieve irritation of the nerves to your arms and hands, myofascial therapy to break up scar tissue in the forearm that has caused the muscle to be weaker, and acupuncture for pain relief.   There are options besides surgery for CTS!

What Is Nerve Entrapment and How Can It Be Treated?

Have you ever felt an uncomfortable tingling sensation in your arm after performing the same motion for an extended period of time? Maybe it was after spending a day typing at your computer or raking leaves. This sensation may be caused by nerve entrapment syndrome, a common condition that is sometimes referred to as either a “trapped nerve” or a “pinched nerve”. Nerve entrapment can be uncomfortable, but there are treatments that can relieve the pain and help get you back to feeling normal.

Your body is equipped with nerves that carry information back and forth between your brain and your limbs, organs, and other body parts. Nerve entrapment happens when a bone, muscle, ligament, tendon, or other tissue presses against one of these nerves. This compression is most likely to occur in response to consistent, repetitive movement. Poor posture, obesity, and previous injury to the affected area are also risk factors.

Symptoms of Nerve Entrapment

The most common symptom of nerve entrapment is discomfort and numbness. You may feel as though a part of your body has “fallen asleep,” or you may find that your grip has weakened. While you may still be able to function normally with these symptoms, you should seek medical attention if the discomfort does not go away on its own after a few days. Sustained compression may lead to chronic pain and permanent nerve damage, making timely intervention crucial to a full recovery.

When you visit your doctor, he or she might use a number of tests to diagnose your condition. After asking you a series of questions about your symptoms and conducting a physical examination, your doctor may order a nerve conduction study. This test uses electrodes to measure electrical impulses in your nerve signals. You might also undergo electromyography (EMG) to evaluate your muscle activity or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to determine the root cause of your compression.

Treatment for Nerve Entrapment

Chiropractors are experts in diagnosing and treating problems related to the musculoskeletal and nervous systems, and there are several types of treatment that have been used successfully to relieve nerve entrapment syndrome:

  • Manual therapies, including chiropractic and soft-tissue mobilization.
  • Acupuncture.
  • Low-level laser therapy (LLLT).
  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS).

Depending on your specific situation, your chiropractic physician may teach you exercises that will help to stretch and strengthen the muscles around your nerve. He or she may also recommend specific ways to help reduce inflammation around the compressed nerve.

To the extent that nerve entrapment is fundamentally a structural or mechanical issue, the symptoms can often be relieved with rest. Your doctor might instruct you to discontinue the activities that resulted in compression, at least for some period of time. He or she might also encourage you to wear a splint or brace to keep the problematic area still. If so, don’t be surprised if you are advised to wear your brace overnight, since many people move around while they sleep in ways that can irritate the compressed nerve.

If you or someone you care about is experiencing symptoms of nerve entrapment, we encourage you to call or visit our office today!  We can help!

Not Just Back Doctors: Chiropractors and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

While doctors of chiropractic have a well-deserved reputation for helping patients overcome back problems, they are actually experts in diagnosing and treating a wide range of health conditions that affect the musculoskeletal and nervous systems.  Many of these conditions involve the extremities—arms, legs, hands and feet—rather than the back, neck or hips.  Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is one example.

What causes CTS?

CTS affects about one in a thousand people each year, mostly women.  It is essentially a mechanical problem caused by the median nerve being compressed as it runs through the carpal tunnel, a passageway made up of tendons, ligaments and bones that runs from the wrist to the hand.

In many cases, the precise cause of carpal tunnel syndrome isn’t clear.  An injury to the wrist (sprains, strains or broken bones, for instance) may sometimes trigger CTS.  So might strong vibrations from power tools or heavy machinery.  Repetitive movements that place stress on this area of the body can also play a role.  The tendons that control finger movement all run through the carpal tunnel, so when they become inflamed and swollen the amount of space is reduced, putting increased pressure on the median nerve.

Who’s most at risk?

Women.  As mentioned earlier, women are at greater risk of CTS than men.  There are a number of theories as to why women tend to suffer from CTS more frequently than men.  One is that they have smaller wrist bones, and thus a smaller space through which tendons can pass.  Another is that hormonal shifts may play a role, particularly during pregnancy and around menopause.

People with a genetic predisposition.  Some people may have a genetic predisposition for CTS.  Approximately one out of four people has a close family member who has also has the disorder.

Workers who perform repetitive, forceful movements that place localized stress on the wrist.  Those who have jobs that involve repetitive movements of the arm are more likely to develop carpal tunnel syndrome.  Assembly line workers, carpenters and violinists would all be in relatively high-risk occupations.  But what about heavy computer users?  Interestingly, although long-term computer use was previously thought to contribute to CTS, there is now conflicting information about the relationship between keyboarding and CTS.  Some studies, such as one from 2007 published in the journal Arthritis and Rheumatism, have found that those who use a keyboard intensively at work actually have a significantly lower risk of developing CTS.  It’s worth mentioning that some leisure activities can also contribute to the risk of CTS.  Knitting, golfing and anything else that requires you to grip items in your hands for long periods of time could raise your risk.

Why chiropractic care?

CTS treatment has been evolving rapidly across the last few years, so it’s important to visit a healthcare provider who keeps current on the latest research and works with carpal tunnel patients on a regular basis.  Among the most commonly recommended treatments for carpal tunnel syndrome are using a wrist splint, resting the wrist and taking pain relievers.  Surgery is usually viewed as a last resort that should be considered only after more conservative treatment options have been exhausted.

Recent research has focused on the role of manual therapies—particularly specialized manipulation and mobilization techniques—as well as exercise in relieving pain and restoring range of motion.  Chiropractic treatment for CTS (specifically soft tissue mobilization) has been shown to be both safe and effective compared to conventional non-surgical medical treatment, helping to improve nerve conduction latencies, wrist strength and mobility.

Chiropractors (and physical therapists) may also prescribe at-home strengthening and stretching exercises to help relieve pain and improve function in the affected hand and wrist.  These approaches offer natural alternatives to sufferers who can’t tolerate common over-the-counter anti-inflammatories or painkillers, or who simply wish to avoid medication altogether.

When it comes to carpal tunnel syndrome, early diagnosis and treatment are the keys to success.  The sooner this condition is addressed, the more non-invasive therapeutic choices exist for the patient.  So if you suspect that you or someone you care about is suffering from CTS, please call or visit our office today.  We’re here to help!

What is Ulnar Tunnel Syndrome?

Your ulnar nerve runs along the length of your arm—starting at the shoulder, running behind the elbow, and then along your forearm and wrist on the way to the hand. It’s most vulnerable to outside pressure at the elbow, where a sharp blow can produce the painful, tingling sensation we associate with our “funny bone”. Along the way, the ulnar nerve passes through several narrow openings or “tunnels” where it can become compressed or pinched (entrapped) as a result of injury or repetitive motion, causing ulnar tunnel syndrome.
If you think this condition sounds a little bit like another better-known disorder called “carpal tunnel syndrome”, you’re right! The sensations and causes are similar, they simply relate to a different nerve. The diagnosis and treatment of a compressed ulnar nerve depends on exactly where the nerve has become pinched. If the compression occurs along the cubital tunnel near the inner edge of the elbow, the resulting disorder is called “cubital tunnel syndrome”. This is the more common location, but compression of the ulnar nerve can also occur in the ulnar tunnel (sometimes referred to as “Guyon’s canal”), near the wrist. When it does, the resulting disorder is called “ulnar tunnel syndrome” or “Guyon’s canal syndrome”.
When the ulnar nerve becomes pinched in one of these areas as a result of repetitive motion and repetitive stress, a person can develop long-term symptoms ranging from mild discomfort and muscle weakness to disabling pain. Cubital tunnel syndrome tends to manifest as pain and numbness in the elbow, tingling and weakness in the ring and little fingers, decreased overall grip strength, and markedly reduced ability to pinch the thumb and little finger. In extreme cases, it can also cause a claw-like deformation of the hand. Ulnar tunnel syndrome produces similar symptoms, along with a burning pain in the wrist and a “pins and needles” sensation in the ring and little fingers.
As with carpal tunnel syndrome, the symptoms associated with ulnar nerve entrapment start small, but because the compression is caused and aggravated by repetitive motion, continued repetitive motion can aggravate the condition and make it more serious. A common cause of ulnar tunnel syndrome, for example, is the pressure exerted on the hands, wrists, and forearms by avid bicyclists gripping their handlebars. Similar pressure can be exerted even in an office setting, by repetitive actions such as pushing hard against the surface of a desk with a computer mouse. Cubital tunnel syndrome is often caused by actions that put increased, repetitive pressure on the elbow, such as sleeping with the arm folded up.
Treatment of either of these forms of ulnar nerve compression varies along with the location of the nerve entrapment and the seriousness of the condition. Conservative treatment includes identifying and then stopping the activities that cause and aggravate the condition, applying ice packs, and taking over-the-counter analgesics to treat the pain and fight inflammation. Sometimes splints are worn to protect the nerve and retrain the arm into using less stressful motions. More serious cases can be treated by physical therapy, occupational therapy, and chiropractic adjustments. Some studies have shown that chiropractic adjustment is particularly effective in the treatment of cubital tunnel syndrome.