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In keeping with the theme of our last post, we will delve into the puzzling and agonizing world of autoimmunity and how it relates to functional medicine. The first couple of eye opening paragraphs below were scribed by Dr. Datis Kharrazian and could make a substantial difference in quality of life.
“Autoimmunity has become a growing epidemic and many individuals seeking care in the healthcare system are suffering from autoimmunity. Autoimmunity is basically the loss of self tolerance, or the inability for the immune system to recognize self-tissue from foreign or pathogenic organisms, leading to an attack upon oneself.”
(I’d be remiss here if I didn’t briefly touch on one of the reasons why our trusty immune system may turn on us and it comes down to what we knowingly put in our bodies. When the food we eat leads to issues within our gut, lending to leaky gut or intestinal permeability, one of our main barrier systems of our bodies becomes compromised and foreign and undigested particles are allowed entry.
Our immune system sees this and does it’s job and attacks. Problem solved.
The issue arises when the presence of unwanted invaders persists and the immune system must continually attack. This puts the immune system on hyperactive defense mode and eventually, due to the similarity in structure between certain tissues and certain foods, the up regulated immune system begins to also attack our own tissues.
This can lead to the start of rheumatoid osteoarthritis as the immune system attacks the joints and breaks down cartilage, or diabetes 1 as the pancreas is attacked (studies now illustrating the similarity in structure of the beta cells of the pancreas and the casein proteins found in milk), MS as the protective covering of our central nervous system, myelin is broken down, or hypothyroidism (Hashimotto’s) as the thyroid is attacked (similar protein structure between thyroid tissue and gluten).
While diet is a major player in the development or facilitation of an autoimmune reaction, the list of catalysts goes well beyond that including many other environmental toxins.)
“The loss of self-tolerance and the development of autoimmunity is a major reason why many individuals notice a rapid decline in their health and seek consultation with a healthcare professional. Unfortunately, autoimmunity leads to a destructive process to various tissues over several years, and early autoimmunity may be easily overlooked in the current healthcare model.
In the current system, autoimmune disease is not diagnosed until the tissue has already been destroyed. In other words, an individual may have cartilage antibodies for several years and suffer significant pain, but they will probably not be diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis until they have severe joint deformity.
Another person may have subtle autoimmunity to myelin and present with diverse neurological symptoms, but they will not be diagnosed because their MRI does not show enough destruction to be sensitive to MRI findings. It is now clear that the antibodies to tissues appear years before total destruction is obvious, and during these years, individuals suffer from symptoms associated with the destructive process.”
In the all too common scenario like the one above, a person suffering from the early stages of autoimmunity seeks consultation and since they do not have total tissue destruction, they are not diagnosed with any conditions. At this point many individuals end up seeking alternative medicine, as conventional models offer them very little support in the early stages.
Functional medicine looks at autoimmunity through a different lens, classifying it into three stages.
1) Silent Autoimmunity: antibodies present, but no symptoms.
2) Autoimmune Reaction: antibodies AND symptoms present, BUT not enough tissue destroyed to be diagnosed as an autoimmune disease.
3) Autoimmune Disease: antibodies present, symptoms may or may not be present, enough tissue destruction to diagnose.
So what can you do with all this empowering information? Well, speak with a healthcare professional who goes beyond the black and white and looks at things from a functional perspective. A review of history and symptoms will be done along with an exam. Appropriate blood work can be ordered and analyzed and if need be tests looking for specific antibodies can also be obtained.
With this information the appropriate nutritional, dietary and lifestyle modifications can be made in order to potentially delay progression or keep symptoms quiet by lessening inflammation, controlling the immune system and addressing any other systems specific to the individual.
Want to know more?
Have some specific questions?
Call us anytime (321-848-0987) to explore the liberating possibilities.
The phrase move it or lose it has been around for years and for good for reason. The concept is contingent upon the process of adaptability or plasticity. Without moving or utilizing certain processes within our bodies, over time we lose it. On the flip side, when we utilize certain muscles or nervous system connections known as pathways, we have the ability to strengthen them.
This concept can be simply understood by looking at what happens when you work out or don’t work out a muscle. If you are constantly doing curls, naturally your bicep will grow as it is your body’s way of adapting to the increased demand. However, if you don’t use your bicep, another muscle, or various pathways in your brain, the muscle or process will become weakened or atrophied and could quite possibly go away completely. This is your body’s clever way of adapting. In our miraculous design, the body is designed to be as efficient as possible. Lack of an activity provides feedback that we don’t need to devote any energy or memory to this process; thus not moving it or using it, leads to losing it.
While the topic of utilizing different, diverse neurological pathways leading to plasticity is a main concept behind Functional Neurology and adjunct therapies like Lumosity, what we are talking about today is literally making sure you move as much as possible. In particular, we are speaking of trying to avoid long periods of uninterrupted sitting as much as possible.
Mounting research has implicated extended periods of uninterrupted sitting as a major determent to your health. We are not just talking about a culprit behind back pain, neck pain and headache. We are not just referring to it being a contributing factor to various diseases or conditions like osteoarthritis, diabetes, and obesity. The eye opener here should be the fact that research has shown that regardless of your fitness level, individuals who spend their days logging long hours of uninterrupted sitting actually have SHORTER LIFE SPANS.
I don’t know about you but that’s all I need to hear to perk up and pay attention. Being someone who has always been active and involved in some level of daily fitness or sport activity, it is quite alarming (yet logical) to hear that even if you do get a good workout in multiple times per week, if you’re logging long hours at a desk without moving, you may just meet your maker sooner than expected.
I say logical because when you think about it, it does make sense that what we do the majority of our day (sitting) would have more of an impact that what we do a fraction of the day (a workout). Studies out of NASA on the determents of microgravity situations that the astronauts find themselves in when they travel to space found the most comparable Earth situation to be sitting.
From a biomechanical perspective, there are a variety of reasons this position is bad news. Your anterior muscles become shorted. There are muscles in your lower half that connect to your spine and anchor to your pelvis or hip. From prolonged, uninterrupted sitting these muscles eventually begin to shorten due to the flexed forward position. Now when you stand up these muscles can pull down on your lumbar spine, creating the sensation of back pain and the misconception that standing up is the problem. While standing up does actually cause the individual discomfort, it is actually due to the prolonged sitting and subsequent shortened muscles that the dysfunction and manifestation of pain as a symptom occurs. This is a prime example of what we talked about in the previous post of going beyond addressing the pain or symptom and fixing the breakdown that led to this symptom in the first place.
If we move up the spine and throw in the fact that prolonged sitting is usually taking place at a desk or car, we begin to flex forward in the upper portion of your body as well. This shortens the muscles of your anterior shoulder and chest and gives you that hunched forward, kyphotic thoracic spine, and anterior head carriage. The muscles on the posterior side now become over worked as they must fight even harder to hold you upright. This leads to that mysterious shoulder and neck pain that you experience after a long day at work.
Lengthening, overworking and weakening the posterior side muscles from uninterrupted sitting and poor posture leads to the breakdown in function that we touched on in last week’s post that so often leads to back pain and other dysfunction. It is these posterior chain muscles (think low back muscles, glutes, hamstrings, calves, etc.) that are designed to keep us upright and moving smoothly, efficiently and pain free through space. When the front side muscles become shortened and the back side muscles become lengthened and weakened we begin to not only assume poor posture but a faulty movement pattern that predisposes us to other injuries at proximal and distal locations throughout the body.
Actual sitting is also the worst position for your lower back. This makes sense too if you think about it. When we stand, our body weight is distributed through our spine and pelvis to the lower extremity where we have numerous muscles designed to assist in this matter. When we sit we have removed everything from the upper portion of the pelvis down as far as support goes. Now our low backs must support the entire weight of the upper half of our body. This load is heavily placed upon the discs in between the individual vertebrae of our spine leaving them dehydrated and compressed. It is a major reason behind the widespread and seemingly “normal” degenerative disc disease and osteoarthritis seen in our heavily seated culture, but not in others.
Another pitfall of the effects of prolonged sitting is that due to the flexed forward, anterior posture assumed, you actually close down the space available for your organs to function correctly. Full chest expansion (and thus filling capacity of the lungs) is impeded and you are no longer able to take in as much oxygen. This leads to widespread systemic consequence because as we know, virtually all function within the body requires oxygen. Organs within the abdomen can become compressed and deprived of optimal blood flow leading to dysfunction within the liver, digestive tract, reproductive organs, etc.
Hopefully all of these reasons are enough to spark some interest in learning what you can proactively do to make sure you are not included in the “normal” range of society. It is currently estimated that some 80% of the population will, at some time or another, suffer chronic low back pain. This widespread prevalence does not exist in other countries that are not sitting all day, every day. This should tell us something. I don’t know about you, but if “normal” is having an 80% chance of low back pain, I want no part of it. I also don’t want any part of the other issues sited in the previous paragraphs.
Stay tuned for our next post which will illuminate some simple steps you can begin to implement as far as breaking up the sitting and doing what you can to avoid these seemingly “normal” issues.
Have a great weekend.
To a clinician, there are a variety of reasons that the public comes knocking. As a chiropractic physician, the overwhelming reason for that initial visit boils down to the presence of pain. Pain is the problem and people come to us looking for a solution. Sure, chiropractors are in the healthcare field and many have opened their own practices but the bottom line is that we are in the solutions business and to be successful you must give the people what they want.
Now, treating pain naturally is a chiropractor’s specialty. The use of various soft tissue techniques, cold laser or e-stem, and of course the adjustment all can work wonders in alleviating pain. However, many times the pain returns after the initial relief from treatment. The reason for this is that the underlying cause of pain was never addressed. This is where the profession and healthcare as a whole falls short.
When someone presents with a symptom such as pain, the goal of both the practitioner and patient is to get out of that pain. However, pain alleviation should be just phase one of the treatment progression. Throwing a treatment at pain, whether it be an adjustment or drug, is nothing more than symptom care at its best. Granted, the all-natural former comes with virtually no negative side effects but the application of both by their lonesome remains the same. This is “sick” or “symptom care” that usually leaves the pour soul dependent on treatments due to ignorance, greed, laziness or a combination of all three by the practitioner.
This is one of the main reasons that chiropractors are looked at in a negative light, as the constant need for treatment has many proclaiming, “that once you go to a chiropractor you need to go forever.” On the same level, it is the reason people pop NSAIDs or prescription pain killers like daily vitamins (yet it seems there is less discontent in resigning to the latter).
It must be pointed out here that it truly does take two to tango in these situations. The reason NSAID sales, prescription drugs and non-stop palliative chiropractic treatments even exist is because there is a market for it. It is not just the practitioner who is lazy or ignorant. Breaking the pain-treatment cycle takes more time and effort and thus many on both sides of the equation do not want to be put out.
The proper way to approach any health issue, whether it be pain or any other symptom, is to take it a step further and find the break down in function. Symptoms such as pain are helpful signs from our body letting us know that something is wrong. Somewhere along the line a breakdown in optimal function has occurred and because of that, symptoms of that breakdown are now outwardly manifesting themselves to the point that we have the pleasure of meeting and working together.
For the sake of this discussion, we will stay focused on pain and take it one step further to the chiropractor’s traditional forte: back pain. Back pain continues to be one of the most debilitating conditions in this country and if the current trends continue, the majority of us will unfortunately fall victim to chronic back pain at some time or another.
Well, this is your wake up call. You don’t need to be another statistic. Just because something is deemed “the norm” due to the majority of the population succumbing to it, doesn’t make it right. You can free yourself from the back pain sentence if you work with a well-trained healthcare professional to identify its cause and do what you can to properly heal and prevent it in the future.
As we stated, pain is a symptom that manifests due to an underlying breakdown in function. Outside of trauma, back pain in this country is largely a result of our culture of desk jobs, prolonged sitting and poor posture. What happens is our anterior muscles become tightened and shortened due to us always leaning forward. This leaves our posterior muscles (think glutes, hamstrings, spinal muscles, etc.) lengthened and weakened. The problem here is that it is these muscles of the posterior chain that are designed to move us efficiently through the world.
Somewhere along the way in our world of laptops and long hours seated we have picked up a new hunched forward posture and thus a new movement pattern. Just like with anything else, we eventually adapt to this new mode of operation even though it is not the most efficient for our bodies. The result is an eventual structural breakdown in the form of disc herniations, osteoarthritis, muscle strains and inflammation.
So how do we tie this all together? Well, obviously the pain needs to be addressed. It is the reason treatment was sought in the first place. Once the pain is alleviated, it needs to be understood that this pain was not just a random, inevitable occurrence. It occurred for a reason and many times it was due to these faulty movement patterns and a breakdown in proper function as we described.
At this point, it takes extra effort and commitment by both patient and practitioner in order to identify the exact breakdown in function and work together diligently to reset and reprogram the body’s movement pattern. This is done through repetition and a controlled, intelligent progression through exercises and treatments in order to rebuild the foundation and retrain the body to move correctly. Only then can we see long lasting relief and prevention of pain.
If any of this resonates with you as it has with me and you would like to work together to not only get out of pain but prevent it in the future, please give me a call (321-848-0987) and let’s get to work on a pain free, smooth moving life.