Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Is Pain Affecting Your Job Performance?

   The average employee misses several days of work each year because of the common cold; two or three more for personal or family emergencies; and a few extra "just because."

   With the exception of those seven or eight days, plus scheduled vacation time and holidays, the average employee spends his or her time engaged in blissful work productivity, right?

Well, not exactly. Just because you're at work doesn't necessarily mean you're being productive.

   In fact, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, U.S. employers lose more than $60 billion a year because workers aren't as productive as they could be.

   The culprit: pain.

Researchers tracked nearly 30,000 working adults over a two-week period to determine lost productive time attributable to common pain conditions, including arthritis, back pain, headaches, and other musculoskeletal discomfort.

   In terms of hours per worker per week, workers who experienced lost productive time from a pain condition lost an average of 4.6 hours.

   Some of the statistics relative to specific pain conditions were even more startling: Workers who suffered headaches averaged 3.5 lost productive hours per week; those who suffered arthritis or back pain averaged 5.2 lost hours per week.

  And for employers, this lost time translated into approximately $61.2 billion annually in lost productivity!

   Is pain affecting your job performance? If it is, chiropractic could be the solution to getting rid of your pain and getting the most out of your time at work. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Is Zoloft Giving You A Pain In The Neck?

Zoloft (sertraline) is a very commonly prescribed anti-anxiety medication and can be connected to neck pain in a number of ways.  Some patients taking Zoloft for anxiety disorders report developing headaches and odd pains in the head and front of the neck or throat. These symptoms may appear similar to some symptoms of panic attacks, including the closing up of the throat, lightheadedness and pressure in the head and neck. The irony is that a low dose of Zoloft ineffective for treating anxiety may still induce side-effects and, essentially, worsen some patients’ anxiety symptoms, whereas a higher dose could help with the anxiety but present more problems in terms of side-effects.

Zoloft may be causing your neck pain due to one of the potential side-effects of sertraline, namely involuntary jaw-clenching. The muscles in the jaw may freeze up, as may those in the neck, with patients having difficulties getting the muscles to relax even with massage and myofascial release. Tension in the jaw and the neck may then lead to neck pain and stiffness, along with headaches and referred pain in the arms and upper back.

The effects of this jaw-clenching can cause people with temporo-mandibular joint (TMJ) disorder to experience a worsening of their symptoms, including right-sided or left-sided jaw pain only. 

Those who are advised to continue taking Zoloft despite connected neck pain and jaw clenching may then decide to begin using a dental night guard or mouth guard so as to not wear away enamel on the teeth. Other medications and supplements, such as magnesium citrate and phosphatidylcholine may be able to relax the tense jaw and relieve associated neck pain. Unfortunately, some patients report experiencing chronic jaw and neck pain when taking Zoloft which persists even after stopping taking the drug. This may be partly due to the development of the habit of jaw clenching and tensing with hope that treatments such as cognitive behavioral therapy may address this issue.

If you are suffering from neck pain, headaches, or TMJ pain, whether you are taking Zoloft or not, our office specializes in treating these conditions.  Using chiropractic, acupuncture, and cold laser therapy, we help relieve your pain quickly and comfortably. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

6 Ways to Improve Your Concentration

With so many stimuli hitting us from different directions these days (often all at once), it's hard to stay focused. Whether it's struggling to concentrate on work during the day while being beset with questions from staff or trying to tune out the TV, the barking dog and screaming kids long enough to balance your checkbook at night, here are five tips that can help improve your ability to focus.

1.  Manage Your Stress. When you experience stress, your brain releases stress hormones, which can accumulate over time and affect your brain's ability to focus. Chronic stress can also lead to anxiety or even depression, which will interfere with memory and concentration. Anger, which is more likely during times of stress, can cause even more stress hormones to be released, compounding the problem.

2.  Get Enough Sleep. Lack of sleep, particularly long-term, has numerous negative consequences, not the least of which is reduced ability to focus. Anyone who's been sleep deprived understands how true this is. In an interview with CNN, Dr. Kathleen Nadeau explains that fatigue influences the production of brain chemicals, which can lead to symptoms such as forgetfulness and lack of concentration.

3.  Stay Active. Studies suggest people who exercise have better concentration and focus than people who forgo exercise. Who hasn't felt more focused and alert after taking a brisk walk? Stay active and you'll avoid the "stuck at your desk all day" syndrome that can keep you staring at the computer monitor, struggling to focus.

4.  Eat Healthy. Fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants, which provide vital nourishment to brain cells. Along with other heart-healthy foods, they also discourage the formation of cholesterol, which can eventually clog arteries and impede blood flow to the brain. Also remember to eat multiple small meals and snacks throughout the day; hunger affects blood sugar levels, which can inhibit your ability to focus.

5.  Train Your Mind. A busy mind is a healthy mind, better able to concentrate and focus. To keep your mind busy (not overwhelmed, mind you, but sharp), learn a new skill, do crossword puzzles or play board games that make you think, read consistently, or do any number of other mind-stimulating pursuits. This will also help build mental endurance, allowing you to maintain focus even when faced with multiple tasks.

6.  Get Adjusted! An improperly functioning nervous system can cause a whole host of problems. Not to mention squirming around in your desk chair because of back or neck pain is no way to focus on your work. Chiropractic adjustments ensure the nervous system is functioning properly and helps relieve those aches and pains!