Spine: Higher body fat leads to increased back pain

Spine: Higher body fat leads to increased back painPhiladelphia, Pa. – Increased back pain among people who are overweight or obese is specifically related to increased body fat content, reports a study in the September 15 issue of Spine. The journal is published by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, a part of Wolters Kluwer Health.

With further research, interventions to prevent increased fat mass may help to reduce the risks of back pain and related disability, according to the new study, led by Donna M. Urquhart, Ph.D., of Monash University, Melbourne, Australia. For her research, Dr. Urquhart was named winner of Spine’s 2011 Young Investigator Award.

Increased Fat Mass Linked to Back Pain—But Which Comes First?

The study included 135 participants, ranging from normal weight to obese. All completed a standard questionnaire to measure low back pain intensity and related disability. They also underwent a test called dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry for detailed assessment of body composition, including measurement of fat and lean body mass.

The results showed that heavier people had higher levels of back pain intensity. For each five-unit increase in body mass index (BMI)—equivalent to the difference between being classified as overweight or obese—the odds of high-intensity back pain increased by 35 percent. For back pain disability, the association was even stronger: 66 percent per five-unit increase in BMI.

However, the increase in back pain at higher BMIs was specifically related to increased fat mass. For each five-kilogram (eleven pounds) increase in body fat mass, the odds of high-intensity back pain increased by 19 percent. For increased fat mass in the lower limbs, the increase was 51 percent.

In contrast, lean body mass was unrelated to back pain. Thus the increase in back pain intensity among people with higher BMIs was wholly related to their higher body fat content—not just the fact that they were heavier. People with higher body fat also had increased disability from back pain.

Back pain and disability were also related to specific patterns of body fat—including increased fat in the trunk area, around the abdomen (android fat mass), and around the hips, thighs, and buttocks (gynoid fat mass). On adjustment for possible confounding factors, “[N]o measures of lean tissue mass were associated with higher pain intensity or disability,” Dr. Urquhart and colleagues write.

Low back pain is an extremely common problem that is usually “nonspecific”—unrelated to any spinal abnormality. Particularly with the rising obesity rate, it has been suggested that increased body weight may contribute to back pain. However, previous studies found only a weak relationship. The new study is the first to look at how back pain is related to more detailed measures of body fat—including specific patterns of fat and lean mass distribution.

The results show that greater fat mass is specifically associated with increased back pain and disability, while lean tissue mass is not. Several factors probably contribute to the link between fat mass and back pain, including greater mechanical demands on the spine. Metabolic factors related to higher fat mass—such as increased inflammatory activity—may also play a role.

Because of its cross-sectional design (participants studied once), the study can’t determine which comes first: increased fat mass or back pain. Longitudinal studies (participants studied repeatedly over time) would be needed to determine whether higher fat mass predicts the later development of low back pain. If so, then measures to control body fat might be effective in preventing back pain and related and disability.

Review: Probiotics have slight preventive effect on colds

September 16, 2011 — Taking probiotics seems to provide both children and adults with a mild degree of protection against many upper respiratory tract infections including the common cold, according to a new systematic review.

People who consume probiotics are also less likely to end up taking antibiotics for an upper respiratory infection, the review found.

Probiotics are found in fermented foods like yogurt, soy yogurt and kefir. People also often take probiotics as supplements. The reviewers compared how often colds and other respiratory infections occurred in people who consumed probiotics to people who took placebos and found a statistically significant difference.

“Probiotics intervention was better than placebo in reducing the number of participants experiencing episodes of acute upper respiratory tract infections,” said review co-author Quikui Hao in an email. “Limited information from three of the 14 studies we included in our analysis also showed that probiotics can reduce the prescription of antibiotics.”

Hao is a medical student at Sichuan University in China, where he works with lead review author Bi Rong Dong, MD.

Colds and other upper respiratory infections are the most common reason that people in the U.S. seek medical care, the reviewers say. The average American has two to six colds each year, usually mild viral infections that resolve themselves after a few days.

Upper respiratory infections also include tonsillitis, laryngitis, and pharyngitis, an inflammation of the pharynx and the most common cause of a sore throat. Other frequently occurring upper respiratory infections are acute sinusitis, acute middle ear infection, and croup. Symptoms including nasal congestion, sore throats, hoarseness, and coughing.

The researchers based their conclusions on 14 randomized controlled trials that included 3,451 participants. More than two-thirds of participants were children. The average age of adults was 40. Studies were conducted in Australia, Chile, Croatia, Finland, Japan, Spain, Sweden, and the U.S.

Probiotics include a wide variety of live active microorganisms such as lactic acid bacteria, also called lactobacillus, and bifidobacteria. The review considered any probiotic, whether it was a single strain or multiple strains, at any dosage level for more than seven days.

There was no difference in how long a respiratory infection lasted in the probiotics group compared to the group consuming placebos. Participants taking probiotics experienced only a few minor side effects. These were mostly gastrointestinal symptoms such as vomiting, flatulence and discomfort or pain in the lower intestinal region.

The researchers found when studying all the pooled data that there were no significant differences in the occurrence of such side effects among people taking probiotics and those taking placebo.

The review appears in the current issue of The Cochrane Library, a publication of The Cochrane Collaboration, an international organization that evaluates medical research. Systematic reviews draw evidence-based conclusions about medical practice after considering both the content and quality of existing medical trials on a topic.

In Greek, the word “probiotics” means “for life.” Hao said that more than a century ago, Elie Metchnikoff a Nobel Prize-winning researcher in immunology, ran a series of studies that showed that the ingestion of microbes produced by lactic acid, that is probiotics, could help relive both respiratory tract and digestive disorders.

However, more recent studies focusing on the impact of probiotics upon URTIs have been inconclusive, Hao said. “With the increasing consumption of probiotics in fermented foods or as dietary supplements, we feel that it is very important to understand the effects of probiotics on acute URTIs and their potential adverse effects in humans.”

Mohamed Mubasher, PhD, a former associate professor of biostatistics at the University of Texas, said, “What’s exciting about this research is the fact that probiotics, a drug-free natural product, can potentially boost and enhance the human immune system and also regulate the production of beneficial bacteria within the human system.”

Mubasher said that he considered the authors of this review to have competently evaluated the results of the 14 studies they reviewed. However, he added that with regard to reducing the duration of URTIs, he suspected that many of the studies covered by this analysis were of insufficient sample size to really support such claims.

He also noted a drawback which the authors had themselves acknowledged: Elderly adults were not included among the study participants. As people age, their immune systems weaken. Older adults might stand to benefit significantly from immune system enhancements, even mild ones such as those that probiotics seem to offer to younger people.

Source: Health Behavior News Service, Center for Advancing Health, www.cfah.org/hbns

Jonas Brothers Embrace Chiropractic Care to Stay Healthy

Source: The American Chiropractor

In a recent interview with The American Chiropractor magazine, Dr. Albert Wolyniec discussed the chiropractic care he provides to the Jonas Brothers and other stars including Demi Lovoto, star of Disney’s Camp Rock and Sunny With A Chance.

“Our association with the Jonas family started when my son, Nicholas, went to preschool with Nicholas Jonas in 1998”, says Dr. Wolyniec.

“Kevin Jonas Sr. was intrigued with chiropractic care and embraced the idea of using chiropractic care to stay healthy. He subsequently would bring his entire family to our office for wellness care, on a once per week basis, and they did this for many years.”

“To this day chiropractic care is still a very high priority in their lives, despite their extremely demanding schedules. They make sure they get their spines adjusted regularly, even if they have to fly me somewhere in the country just for the day. I have even done a coast to coast house call solely to maintain their spines free of nerve interference. The Jonas Brothers give many concerts nationally, and when they are performing in this area, I go backstage with my portable table and set up an adjusting room. Everyone waits his/her turn and I generally adjust 15¬20 people each time. I adjust not only the Jonas Brothers, but their family, Kiyoko, Maya, their production staff, and the security people, including Big Rob, the bodyguard. I admire Kevin Sr. for the importance that he places on regular chiropractic care, and how he always works it into their schedules. I also frequently adjust them in their hotel when they are in New York City” reports Dr. Wolyniec.

He concludes by saying, “The Jonas Family has encouraged many others to receive chiropractic care, including Demi Lovato, star of the movie Camp Rock. I am frequently asked if the boys have changed with all their fame and fortune. It is absolutely amazing to me that they have not. They are still the same polite, obedient, humble boys who seem to have their attention on others rather than themselves. When I adjust them, they will often ask me how Mrs. Wolyniec and my children are doing, and I can tell they are truly interested in my answers. I believe, if they haven’t changed by now, they never will. They are firmly grounded in their faith and are staying true to their vision.”

Explore this site to find out how you and your family can benefit from chiropractic, the world’s largest drugless health profession. Find out what millions of people, including top stars and athletes, already know about the amazing benefits of regular chiropractic care.

Chiropractic Care For Women Offers Many Benefits

Chiropractic wellness programs are particularly well-suited to the special needs of pregnant women, new mothers, women who are overweight, who are in stressful situations, and others who need to protect and strengthen their bones, nerves, joints, muscles and overall health. Today’s modern woman has become much more knowledgeable in diet, nutrition, weight loss, exercise, sports and physical activity, and methods for maintaining wellness and general fitness – about which chiropractors have considerable expertise that they are eager to share. Chiropractic wellness programs are particularly well-suited to the special needs of pregnant women, new mothers, women who are overweight, who are in stressful situations, and others who need to protect and strengthen their bones, nerves, joints, muscles and overall health.

Millions of women rely on chiropractors because of the caring interaction that develops between patient and doctor and because of chiropractic’s effective combination of expert care, effective spinal adjustments, exercise and nutritional guidance, and lifestyle counseling.

Chiropractic offers demonstrated relief for many of the specific health challenges that affect women based on their female anatomy and the fact that the female body is designed to be able to bear children. Pregnancy and the menstrual cycle are centrally important health matters for women. Being pregnant, preparing for pregnancy, and recovering from childbirth are just some of the uniquely female issues. Pain during the menstrual period (dysmenorrhea), premenstrual syndrome (PMS), and chronic pelvic pain are among the distressing conditions which disrupt the otherwise healthy lives of many women.

Older women are much more likely than men to develop Alzheimer’s disease (which burdens the afflicted with near-total memory loss and reduced mental functioning) and osteoporosis (in which the bones become weak, brittle, and porous; the posture stooped with the shoulders rounded). These are just two of the problems of aging that women must be aware of and can take steps to prevent.

Women may get headaches during menstrual periods and pregnancy, as well as under ordinary circumstances. Women are more likely to be bothered enough by headache pain to seek a way to overcome it. When the bones of the spine lose their normal position or motion, the sensitive nerves and blood vessels to the head become compromised. When these delicate tissues are stretched or irritated, they can produce certain types of headaches. While aspirin or other medications may cover up the symptoms, they do not really correct the cause of the headache.

Similarly, women are often victims of osteoarthritis (degenerative joint disease) and have a 200 to 300 percent greater chance than men of suffering rheumatoid arthritis.

Because the nervous system controls and coordinates all of the different functions of your body, any disruption in nerve communication to your organs and body tissues will result in abnormal function. Chiropractors help restore normal nerve function and communication, thereby allowing your body to work normally and naturally.

The result is often a reduction in pain and inflammation, as well as prevention of further deterioration. Research has also demonstrated that arthritic changes begin in the spinal joints in as few as three days after a joint becomes fixated. Relief from pain and prevention of further deterioration are among the many “side effects” of regular chiropractic care.

Chiropractic Adjustments Improve Brain Function

Approximately 100 volunteers were examined with an electroencephalogram (EEG) before and after chiropractic adjustments. A study presented at the International Research And Philosophy Symposium held at Sherman College of Straight Chiropractic finds that Chiropractic adjustments have a positive effect on the Central Nervous System (CNS), specifically on the four primary frequencies of brain function.

Brain function is measured on four primary frequencies: Beta, Alpha, Theta and Delta. Alpha waves reflect the meditative, relaxing healing mode. Beta waves represent the active, busy brain. Theta waves reflect light sleep, relaxation and conceptual development. Delta waves represent the brain activity during deep sleep, repair mode and energy storage.

The study was conducted over a three year period. Approximately 100 volunteers were examined with an electroencephalogram (EEG) before and after chiropractic adjustments.

The EEG scans were examined to check the right/left balance, the amount of total activity, the primary regions of activity and the effect of the adjustment.

After receiving a chiropractic adjustment, post EEG scans revealed improvement in all areas of the volunteer’s brain function. Particularly, the researchers noticed an increase in the meditative Alpha brainwave patterns that are associated with a greater degree of relaxation, health and healing.

The researchers noted that some of the volunteers already had balanced and active brain scans and the adjustments had little effect on their post scans. They felt this was a good indicator that the adjustments had no negative effects on brain activity.

Commentary: The implications of this study are profound indeed. Over and over research is proving that chiropractic care has the ability to positively affect body function on a far greater level than simple pain relief.