Doctor Blessley's -To Your Health

A collection of quotes, comments, and information to help you and yours stay in good health.

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This information is not intended to replace professional medical care. The authors, including Dr. Blessley, cannot accept legal responsibility for any problem which may arise out of any proper or improper use of this information. Use your common sense, and seek help from the appropriate professional if you think you have a health problem.


More than Low Back Care?


Far too many people still believe that Chiropractic care isn't necessary unless they're

suffering excruciating low back pain. The millions who do receive regular adjustments

know that chiropractic can resolve their back pain, and more and more may also be learning

about the potential nonmusculoskeletal benefits.

Take as an example the patients in a recent study in the Journal of Manipulative and

Physiological Therapeutics. Twenty consecutive patients from each of 87 Swedish chiropractors'

offices (1,504 total patients) completed questionnaires within two weeks of previous

treatment. The questionnaires documented numerous reported improvements in nonmusculoskeletal

symptoms, including:

· easier to breathe (98 patients);

· improved digestive function (92 patients);

· clearer/better/sharper vision (49 patients);

· improved circulation (34 patients);

· less ringing in the ears (10 patients);

· acne/eczema better (8 patients);

· dysmennorhea (painful menstruation) better (7 patients);

· asthma/allergies better (6 patients).

The number of spinal areas adjusted was also related to the number of positive reactions.

Fifteen percent of patients reported positive reactions after having a single area

adjusted; 35% of patients reported positive reactions after having four areas adjusted.

Overall, 23% of Chiropractic patients reported experiencing positive changes in symptoms

that were not musculoskeletal in nature.

Have you experienced nonmusculoskeletal benefits following Chiropractic care, and if

so, have you told your Doctor of Chiropractic? Always report any reactions (good or

bad) you experience during or following an adjustment.


Leboeuf-Yde C, Axen I, Ahlefeldt G, et al. The types and frequencies of improved nonmusculoskeletal

symptoms reported after chiropractic spinal manipulative therapy. Journal of Manipulative

and Physiological Therapeutics, Nov./Dec. 1999: Vol. 22, No. 9, pp559-64.

Reduce Sodium Intake, Reduce Heart Disease


Almost everything we eat contains at least a little sodium, although many foods, especially

the processed variety, contain way too much. Our bodies only need about 500 milligrams

(mg) of sodium a day; although current dietary recommendations allow for 2,000 - 4,000

mg (1-2 teaspoons of salt), statistics show that the average adult consumes almost

double that amount.

Limiting your sodium intake can reduce your risk of developing high blood pressure

and cardiovascular disease, especially if you,re overweight, according to a study in

the Journal of the American Medical Association. Researchers estimated dietary sodium

intake in 2,688 overweight subjects and 6,797 nonoverweight subjects, then assessed

incidence of and/or death from cardiovascular disease over 19 years of follow-up.

Results: Among overweight participants, a relatively small increase in sodium intake

was associated with substantial increases in disease risk: 32% higher risk of stroke;

44% higher risk of heart disease; 61% higher risk of death from heart disease; and

a 39% higher risk of death from all causes. Dietary sodium intake was not significantly

associated with cardiovascular disease risk in nonoverweight participants,

If you already have high blood pressure or a developing heart condition, restricting

your sodium intake is even more imperative. Your doctor can give you more information

on sodium and provide nutritional guidelines suitable to your specific needs.


He J, Ogden LG, Vupputuri S, et al. Dietary sodium intake and subsequent risk of cardiovascular

disease in overweight adults. Journal of the American Medical Association, Dec. 1,

1999: Vol. 282, No. 21, pp2027-34.

Exercise Reduces Diabetes Risk in Postmenopausal Women


The natural changes associated with menopause can be accompanied by added risk for

osteoporosis, heart disease and diabetes. Fortunately, evidence also suggests that

consistent exercise may be one of the ways to reduce the risk of developing these debilitating,

chronic conditions. (See "Maintain Strong Bones with Exercise in the Sept. 1999 issue

of To Your Health, and "Keep Your Heart Healthy with Resistance Training in the Aug.

1999 issue.)

A study in the American Journal of Public Health suggests that exercise may also help

prevent diabetes in postmenopausal women. Nearly 100,000 women (aged 55-69 years of

age) completed a diet and lifestyle questionnaire in January 1986, and subsequent questionnaires

mailed, completed and returned over the next 12 years documented new diagnoses of diabetes.

For the 41,836 women who completed all questionnaires, greater leisure-time physical

activity was associated with a reduced risk of type II (adult) diabetes. This association

was stronger with increasing levels of activity, such that the most active women had

approximately half the risk as the least active women in the study. These results were

maintained even after the authors considered other potential factors such as smoking,

alcohol intake, hormone replacement therapy, and family history of the disease.


Folsom AR, Kushi LH, Hong CP. Physical activity and incident diabetes mellitus in postmenopausal

women. American Journal of Public Health, Jan. 2000: Vol. 90, No. 1, pp134-38.

Find more information on women's health at

Watching and Learning


Who's teaching your children these days? Are you teaching them? As parents, you can

exert more influence over their lives than anyone else, and your children will learn

from the good examples you provide - as well as the bad ones.

If you don't believe that, consider a recent study that examined the potential for

health-risk behaviors to be transmitted from parents to offspring. More than 300 children

and their parents participated in the study, which focused on five specific negative

health behaviors:

· poor eating habits;

· excessive drinking;

· smoking;

· inadequate sleep; and

· physical inactivity.

The authors selected families from a rural eight-county area in North Central Iowa

from 1989-1994. Families chosen had at least two children in 1989: one child in seventh

grade (the focus child of the study), and a sibling within four years of age of the

seventh grader. Results are presented below:

1) Parents behaviors significantly influenced the health-risk behaviors of their children.

2) This influence occurred in two ways: by transmitting (teaching) specific behaviors

and by sharing the health-risk lifestyle with them.

3) Fathers, specific negative behaviors seemed to affect only boys.

4) Mothers, specific negative behaviors seemed to affect only girls.

If you think your kids don't listen or learn from anything you say or do, you're not

giving yourself or them enough credit. Your children are watching and learning from

you, so point them in the direction of health and wellness -- chances are they'll follow.


Wickrama KAS, Conger RD, Wallace LE, et al. The intergenerational transmission of health-risk

behaviors: adolescent lifestyles and gender moderating effects. Journal of Health and

Social Behavior, Sept. 1999: Vol. 40, pp258-72.

Swatting Away the Tennis Injury Bug


Tracking down a ball on the baseline, lunging at a passing shot, straining to reach

a lob - almost every aspect of tennis involves a certain amount of risk. Even the repetitive

motions of serving and hitting groundstrokes can cause painful injury, turning you

from active participant to unhappy spectator.

According to an article in the Journal of Sports Chiropractic & Rehabilitation, stretching

and strengthening exercises can help minimize your risk of sustaining a tennis-related

injury. The authors present various techniques in a photographic format with text explanations.

Included is a review of easy exercises you can perform at home or in the gym, such as:

· torso stretch;

· pelvic tilt;

· hamstring stretch;

· lumbar extension;

· side bend;

· shoulder rotation;

· knee flexion;

· hip extension; and

· scapular retraction

You're probably familiar with some of these techniques already, but your Chiropractor

can give you more specific information and outline an exercise program to maximize

health and reduce your risk of injury.


Baron SH, Washington KW. Tennis injuries: lower the risk through stretching and strengthening.

Journal of Sports Chiropractic & Rehabilitation 1999: Vol. 13, No. 4, pp164-70.

For more information on sports and fitness, go to

Arterial Disease Linked to Back Pain


Atherosclerosis, the buildup of fatty deposits in your arteries, can lead to high blood

pressure, chest pain, heart attack or stroke. Evidence suggests that insufficient blood

circulation associated with atherosclerosis may contribute to another serious condition:

erosion/degeneration of the discs in your spine.

Speaking of spines, a study published in a journal by the same name investigated whether

atherosclerotic lesions in the abdominal aorta were more advanced in patients with

low back pain (LBP) vs. those without pain. From 1991-1993, 29 patients (21-58 years

of age) were evaluated with a diagnostic procedure called CT discography.

Results showed that 55% of LBP patients had atherosclerotic damage visible on CT scan,

compared with only 21% of patients without LBP. This difference was further emphasized

when examining a specific group of patients (50 years of age or younger): 48% of LBP

patients had aortic damage vs. only 8% of patients without low back pain.

Atherosclerosis is so common that many people assume it's a normal consequence of aging,

but don't be fooled: overwhelming research suggests that diet and lifestyle can play

a major role in preventing this disease. Your Chiropractor can provide you with more

information on low back pain, atherosclerosis, and how you can avoid both.


Kurunlahti M, Tervonen O, Vanharanta H, et al. Association of atherosclerosis with

low back pain and the degree of disc degeneration. Spine, October 15, 1999: Vol. 24,

No. 20, pp2080-84.

For additional information on back pain, go to

Direct your questions or comments to Dr. Mark Blessley at

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