Should my Chiropractor ask me to take my shirt off?

Should my Chiropractor ask me to take my shirt off when being seen for an exam or before being treated?  The simple answer to that question is yes.

A real chiropractor treats a condition known as vertebral subluxation.  A vertebral subluxation occurs when a vertebra has lost its normal position with the neighboring vertebra. Left untreated it will result in a vertebral subluxation complex.  There are 5 factors that determine if you have a vertebral subluxation complex going on.  Three of those five factors should be assessed by visually inspecting the back.

When the shirt is off and the spine/back is exposed, a properly trained chiropractor can see indications of a misaligned vertebra in the spine.   These indicators may include abnormal skin creases, elevations, and curves.  The loss of proper motion or ranges of motion of the vertebrae can be viewed with the shirt off.

Myopathological changes can only be fully assessed by viewing the exposed skin of the spine/back.  Taunt and tender muscles and muscle spasms or cramps will be visible when confirming the presence of a subluxation.  The visual aspect will also help the chiropractor in determining which vertebra is the one that is causing the problem.

Histopathological changes to the spine are changes associated with damage to the soft tissue around the spinal joint.  When the soft tissue is injured, the damaged tissue will weep a lytic enzyme which can be viewable as swelling and edema.  This inspection of the soft tissue can only be done when the patient is exposing the skin.

A Gonstead doctor will use an instrument on you called a Nervoscope the is designed to show areas of inflammation by the use of thermocouples.  The inflammation is produced by the histopathological and myopathology changes to the joint.   These areas of inflammation will usually coincide with subluxations of X-rays of your spine.

A lot of important information can be found when visualizing the exposed tissue of the spine and much can be missed when not viewing the spine.  A true Gonstead Chiropractor is trained to look for clues during the assessment to determine the cause of your problem and for the solution to your problem.  Women patients should be asked to wear gowns and men to remove their shirt or they can wear a gown if they choose too.  This will allow the doctor to perform a better assessment of your spine and provide a better treatment of your condition.

Metabolic Syndrome

Many people are suffering from unexplained pain throughout their bodies that just does not seem to be normal.  These people can range from the very young and healthy-looking to the middle-aged and older population.  Doctors and tests don’t seem to be able to identify exactly why these people are having these complaints and why they persist and never seem to improve with drugs or other forms of treatments.  A new condition that has been emerging over the years is being used to label and lump these patients.   

In the U.S. today, about 25% of the adult population is being diagnosed with metabolic syndrome.  This estimate does not include children or teens.  The medical establishment defines metabolic syndrome when three of the following five medical conditions are present: abdominal obesity, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, high serum triglycerides, and low serum high-density lipoprotein (HDL).  Metabolic syndrome left to run its course will result in the development of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetesAssociated conditions include but are not limited to hyperuricemia, fatty liver progressing to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, a polycystic ovarian syndrome in women, low testosterone, erectile dysfunction in men, osteoarthritis, and acanthosis nigricans.

Metabolic syndrome is much more pervasive than what it is getting credit for.  For instance, hyperuricemia (high uric acid in the blood) can result in kidney stones, gout, and arthritis; but eating red meat, and cheese, and drinking wine will get the credit for this condition.  I see patients who are young and look healthy but are loaded with pain and inflammation that improve marginally.  They have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, or Lyme disease but don’t remember getting bitten by a tic or some other off-the-wall condition.  I am seeing patients in their late 30s, forties, and early fifties with arthritic joints of a 70-year-old.   Metabolic syndrome effects the cells of the body and every tissue, organ, joint, and bone of the body.

High levels of sugar in the blood are being blamed for metabolic syndrome when, in actuality, insulin resistance is the cause of metabolic syndrome and many other inflammatory conditions throughout the body.  The reason for sugar or glucose getting the blame is that there are a whole host of drugs on the market to lower glucose and A1C.  Until the cause of insulin resistance is addressed the condition will persist and worsen over time.  

The use of medication will indeed lower the tested numbers but will not stop the devastating effects of hyperinsulinemia.  In fact, the medical practice will focus on sugar, cholesterol, A1C, and fasting glucose which are all markers of sugar in the blood when they should check levels of insulin in the blood.  These medications do not address the high levels of insulin but act as an agent increasing insulin levels to push blood sugar into the cell and making the insulin receptors more efficient.

Hyperinsulinemia happens when you have a higher amount of insulin in your blood than what’s considered normal.  This can be determined by taking a Fasting Insulin Blood Test.  Insulin is a hormone your pancreas makes and releases to drive sugar into the cells for energy.  It is essential for life and for regulating blood glucose (sugar) levels, specifically by lowering glucose levels.

Hyperinsulinemia also results from insulin resistance, which happens when cells in your muscles, fat, and liver don’t respond as they should to insulin. The development of insulin resistance increases insulin production (hyperinsulinemia) so that your body can maintain healthy blood sugar levels.  Insulin is an anabolic hormone that causes the body to store sugar which is converted to fat and stored in the cell inhibiting lipolysis of fat in the muscle and fat tissue. Lipolysis is the breakdown of stored fat for the usage of energy.  

Abnormal levels of insulin in the blood results in persistent use of insulin which promotes obesity.  Fat cells (adipose cells) produce inflammatory agents.  Clinical research and studies have confirmed that chronic low-grade inflammation from adipose tissue (fat) is linked to metabolic disease and organ tissue complications in overweight and obese organisms.  Adipose tissue inflammation is initiated and sustained over time by dysfunctional adipocytes (fat cells) that secrete inflammatory adipokines and infiltration of bone marrow-derived immune cells that signal via the production of cytokines and chemokines. Adipose tissue inflammation negatively impacts remote organ function, a phenomenon that is considered causative of the complications of obesity, not hyperinsulinemia. 

There is only one way to prevent and fix metabolic syndrome and that requires life style change.  The medical industry and big pharma know that it is so easy to take medications to cover up the problem, rig the numbers to fool you into believing you are better, and slow the progress of the diseases until there is no return to health.  If you are tired of living in pain every day and tired of feeling ill and run down, you must be willing to change your lifestyle. Type 2 diabetes is a horrible disease that will rob you of your life and your golden years.

How do you know if you have metabolic syndrome?  People who have metabolic syndrome typically have apple-shaped bodies, meaning they have larger waists and carry a lot of weight around their abdomens.  If you are 20 pounds overweight your body is undergoing metabolic syndrome without noticeable symptoms.  Not all metabolic syndrome sufferers are overweight.  If your diet consists mainly of highly processed foods, drink sugary drinks, and alcoholic beverages you are driving your body into metabolic syndrome. 

Metabolic syndrome and its devastating effects on the body can be reversed.  The benefits of living a long healthy life far outweigh the misery of sickness and expensive medications and their unintended side effects.  

If you want to find out if you have metabolic syndrome and what can be done to change your life, call today at 401-433-3600  New Hope Chiropractic.

My Tailbone Hurts

Are you having pain below the belt line and it hurts when you are sitting or lying down?  Do you sometimes have an aching buttock pain that radiates into the hips or the groin area?  You most likely are experiencing sacral pain, coccyx pain, or S.I. joint pain.  Most people experience lower back pain that is found above or at the belt line but others experience pain below the belt line and lower.  Most doctors are not adept at dealing with that area because it is not associated with the more frequent lumbar disc-related conditions.  There are many causes of sacral pelvic pain, they include slips, falls, pregnancy, delivery, short leg, flat feet, and sitting on uneven surfaces.  Let’s look at the anatomy of the pelvis and how it functions and how the chiropractic profession has successfully treated these conditions with great success over the years.

The pelvis is made up of 4 bones, the two-ilium bones found on either side of the sacrum that we commonly refer to as the hips. The large bone between the ilium called the sacrum and attached to the tailbone is the coccyx that is commonly referred to as the tailbone.  The ilium articulates with the sacrum and the sacrum articulates with the 5th lumbar vertebrae and the 1st coccyx bone.  A bad slip or fall onto your buttock can cause a misalignment of these articulating joints causing chronic pain and inflammation and mimic sciatic pain.  Many times, surgery will be performed on the Lumbar region without any relief of buttock or sciatic symptoms.   

The X-ray below reveals a misaligned right ilium from a traumatic injury.  Also note how the spine is tilting to the right causing a subluxation at L4.  If these misalignments are not corrected the body will fixate and heal into this abnormal position resulting in wear and tear of the misaligned joints and inflammation of the surrounding nerves.  Organs that are supplied by those nerves will suffer and not function at their optimal levels.

No surgery stretching or strengthening of the soft tissue involved in this condition is going to correct the cause of the problem.  I have successfully treated these conditions for years.  If you or someone you know has been suffering from this problem, you can click on this link or call my office to schedule an appointment.   

Should I see a Chiropractor or go to Physical Therapy???

A patient case scenario “My back has been hurting for the past 6 months and getting worse so I decided to see my medical doctor for help.  After telling my doctor about my lower back and how it has been hurting, he gave me a prescription for anti-inflammatory medication, muscle relaxers, and a prescription for physical therapy.   I asked about going to a chiropractor, and he told me he didn’t know anything about chiropractic and I could try it if I wanted to but to be careful”.

This is a very common scenario because most people and medical doctors don’t know what a chiropractor treats.  Most people think that chiropractors treat back and neck pain which is just a symptom of what it is they treat.  A chiropractor treats a condition called a Subluxation.  A subluxation is a misalignment of a vertebra or combination of vertebrae in the spine that leads to nerve irritation which can cause a whole host of unwanted symptoms like back and neck pain.   Any joint in the body can subluxate and can be treated by a proficient chiropractor.  The sacrum/tailbone or ilium/hipbone are common nonspinal bones that can be subluxated and cause lower back and sciatic pain.  Many back surgeries that have an unsuccessful outcome are because the problem lies in the sacrum or sacral iliac joint and not in the spine.

Physical therapist treats back and neck problems and a host of other physical conditions.  Their goal is to rehabilitate the soft tissue (muscles, ligaments, tendons) of the body that are responsible for moving the joint and supporting the joint.  Physical therapy plays in important part in helping patients recover from soft tissue injuries and surgeries.  All chiropractors are also Doctors of Physiotherapy which provide the same function as physical therapy type work.  Most state insurance regulations do not allow chiropractors to bill for Physiotherapy so they do not practice physiotherapy which is an unfair practice.  If the spine is out of alignment (subluxated) it must be put back into alignment to correct the cause of the condition.  If the subluxation is not corrected the condition will persist.  No stretching, strengthening, medication, or surgery is going to correct a subluxation.

If you are having back pain don’t expect your medical doctor to refer you to a chiropractor.  You don’t need a referral to see a chiropractor.  Start with a chiropractor first and get your spine checked.  If it is not a misalignment problem your chiropractor will refer you to a Physical Therapist.   If you are having persistent back or neck problem click on the link or call my office to get your spine checked.

I have Arthritis in my Spine What Can I do?

A caller, called my office last week stating that he had been diagnosed with arthritis of the spine and was prescribed medication for the pain.  He did not want to take the medications because he was concerned about the damage from long-term use of NSAIDs can have on the stomach, kidneys, and liver.  He wanted to know if chiropractic could help with his condition or if there was something natural he could take for the pain that would not cause side effects.  I have had many patients ask what is arthritis and what causes arthritis and if chiropractic can help with it. 

The word “Arthritis” comes from the Greek and Latin language, “artho” meaning joint and “itis” meaning inflammation of the ______.  Combine the two words and it means joint inflammation. A joint is where two bones meet together.  The joint is usually separated by cartilage (disc) and held together by ligaments and fibers.  The cartilage between the joints is very tough and durable and does not break down because of age.  It breaks down because of trauma, overuse, or abuse of the joint.  If you are over the age of 40 and you come into the doctor’s office complaining of lower back or neck pain, stiffness, loss of flexibility in the spine, or inability to straighten your back or turn your neck, you will be diagnosed with arthritis.  Arthritis of the spine will be accompanied by swelling and tenderness over the affected vertebrae, a feeling of grinding when moving the spine, and pain or numbness in your arms or legs if the nerves are affected.  Headaches are typical with arthritis in the neck.  


As the cartilage (disc) between the joints slowly breaks down, it leads to inflammation and pain. Because the pain is from mechanical damage, it will be more noticeable when bending or twisting your back. Past back injuries also contribute to degenerative arthritis of the spine. Degeneration of the disc contributes to spinal facet joint arthritis. As discs between the vertebrae become thinner, more mechanical pressure is transferred to the facet joints. This leads to more friction and more damage to the cartilage.

Degenerative changes that occur in the neck are referred to as cervical spondylosis.

Loss of range of motion in the joints accelerates the progression of arthritis and pain in the spine.  The first goal of chiropractic treatments in this case is to begin to increase range of motion and increase function of the effected joints.   This will increase blood flow to the effect areas promoting healing and reducing inflammation.   Regular and persistent chiropractic treatments can be very effective in helping restore normal function and health back to the spine.  If you have been diagnosed with arthritis of the spine or spinal stenosis and would like to know if chiropractic can help you, click on the link below or call my office.

What the Heck is Tech Neck?

In January 2007 a revolutionary new product was introduced to the market that changed how people interacted in all forms of daily activities.  Today the smartphone is in everybody’s hands all day and people are looking down at their phone 3 to 6 hours a day.  As a result, a new condition has been coined Tech Neck for those people who have been complaining about neck pain, upper back pain, and numbness in their arms and hands.

Tech Neck is caused by continuously putting the head and neck in the unusual position of looking down for extended periods of time.

Let’s look at the anatomy of the neck and how looking down all the time leads to bio-mechanical and degenerative changes to the spine and associated problems like neck pain, upper back pain, shoulder pain, and radiculopathy in the arms and hands.

Looking at a person from the side, the ear should be over the shoulder and the neck should have a 63-degree forward curve.  The curve of the neck is very important because it distributes the weight of the head throughout the curve of the spine providing a springing effect. The head weighs 13 to 18 pounds depending on the size of the person.  The head sits on top of the neck which acts like a long lever arm creating compressive forces on the disc and vertebral bone when looking down.  When looking down the muscles, ligaments, and tendons of the neck have to work harder to support the weight of the head.  The compressive forces of the head on the disc and vertebra accelerate degeneration of the disc and vertebra leading to very early arthritis and other conditions not normally seen in younger people.  It does not take long for a person to begin to develop a tech neck.  Pro long periods of daily looking down at your cell phone or some other handheld device will quickly lead to tech neck or the reversing of the cervical curve.

Allopathic physicians are seeing an explosion of young people coming into their offices with complaints of neck pain, headaches, shoulder pain, and numbness in the arms and hands.  These patients are prescribed rounds of anti-inflammatory medications, muscle relaxers, and headache medications that help to relieve the symptoms but do not correct the cause of the problem.

It does not matter how much medication you take or how much you stretch or try to strengthen the muscles of your neck and upper back, the problem will not go away until the curve of the neck is restored.  I have helped many young and old with this condition.  If you want to get relief and restore the natural curve of your neck you can click on this link or call my office today and schedule an appointment.

If you have been faced with Tech Neck issues and are looking for some resolution, please contact us by calling our office at 401-433-3600 or schedule a new patient exam appointment online.

The Effects of Alcohol On Your Spine

Have you considered the effects of Alcohol on your Spine

About ten years ago drinking red wine was considered a good healthy benefit because of a compound discovered in it called resveratrol. Resveratrol has been found to have many cardiovascular benefits as well as longevity effects. However, years later the authors of the study stated that resveratrol is very beneficial for your health but alcohol was not and resveratrol should be taken in supplement form and not from drinking wine. In other words, drinking a glass of red wine once a day was more detrimental to your health than getting the resveratrol from a glass of wine.

It is well known that daily consumption of alcohol in large or small quantities is detrimental to the health of your liver, blood vessels and kidneys but very few are aware of its devastating effects on your bones and joints. Alcohol is very acidic and the body(blood) has a certain pH level that it must maintain or you could go into a state of hyper-acidosis leading to organ damage (kidneys) and other nefarious conditions.

The body is smart so to prevent damage to the organs it will take calcium from the bone and blood to neutralize the acid and restore normal pH levels. What researches have also found is alcohol in the blood stream kills a very important cell in the bone called an osteoblast that are responsible for making new bone. Bone is not static. Your body is always removing old bone (osteoclast cells) and making new bone (osteoblast cells). When this process is interrupted the bone begins to become brittle (osteopenia) and become deformed and loses their strength. Deformities around the joint lead to arthritis and degenerative disc, degenerative joint disease. If you are experiencing stiffness or tightness or soreness first thing in the morning getting out of bed it is a sure sign of arthritis.

I experienced my first case of a daily wine drinker coming to me for back pain during my first year into practice.   He was an active gentleman in his early sixties who appeared to be very healthy.  His x-rays revealed a spine of an 80-year-old man.  I was shocked at what I saw.  I received 2 years of radiology studies and pathology studies while in chiropractic college and was never told of alcohol consumption causing this type of condition.  I asked him about his food consumption and he told me he would have a glass of wine or two each night for dinner. I began to ask my patients about diet and began to see a direct correlation with their bone health and flexibility.

Today the orthopedic industry is seeing a significant increase in joint replacement surgeries. Arthritis is not a disease of old age it is a nutritional deficiency induced disease that can be halted and improved with a healthy diet and the use of properly recommended supplements. Chiropractic is very helpful in restoring mobility and proper function to arthritic joints. If you are feeling the effects of arthritis and need help getting your health back click on this link or call my office.

If you have been faced with Spine issues and are looking for some resolution, please contact us by calling our office at 401-433-3600 or schedule a new patient exam appointment online.  

Rhodes Island’s Treasure, The Legendary Piano Man, Bernie Houle

The Legendary Piano Man Bernie Houle Shares His Secretes to Longevity

Mr. Houle celebrates his 98th birthday this year. What I find most remarkable about Mr.Houle is his attitude and his energy. At 97 Mr. Houle will be in my waiting room showing anyone who will watch how he can do sit-ups and push-ups and other calisthenic exercises most people half his age can’t do. He will preach to them how they need to eat right get up do some exercise and get their back checked at least once a month.

Mr. Houle started seeing a chiropractor after injuring his back lifting army gear while he was in the army during World War 2. Mr. Houle could hardly move but tried to power through the injury until he could not take the pain anymore. A fellow army mate suggested he see a chiropractor located just off the army base.

Mr. Houle had never heard of a chiropractor much less what they did, but he was hurting so bad he was willing to try anything. Needless to say, the chiropractic treatments helped Mr. Houle return to normal daily activities and become a believer in the power of a chiropractic adjustment.

After serving his country Mr. Houle ventured into the music business fixing and selling pianos. Mr. Houle’s mechanical aptitude and keen ear for tonal quality established him as the go-to man for fixing and selling the right piano for the biggest names in the music business that needed the right piano for the right price. To this day Mr. Houle still gets calls from recognizable names to fix or tune their piano. Fixing and tuning pianos is becoming a lost art because of the cheap throw-away pianos of today’s electronic instruments.

Mr Houle has a daily routine of getting out of bed when he wakes up and stretches and exercises for an hour. He lives in a high-rise apartment complex and will walk up 3 flights of stairs down the long hallway and down the 3 flights of stairs 6 to 8 times each day to get his cardio exercise in. He stays away from sugar products and carbohydrates focusing on fruits, plenty of vegetables, and meat. He is careful not to eat more than he needs to and takes joy in preparing and eating a healthy meal.

He is very socially active and outgoing and still drives every day. To stay mentally sharp, he plans his day to meet up with friends he has made at the apartment complex or community locations. He will often sit and play piano for the tenets in the community room or at different events keeping his memory sharp. While he does not need to go to soup kitchens or local food pantries, he has found it to be a place where he can meet and socialize with people. Mr. Houle does not believe getting old impedes life, he looks at age as an opportunity to grow in life and wisdom. He refuses to let aches or pains slow him down or encourage him to take up residence in a wheelchair or a walker. He has found that going to the chiropractor monthly or more over the past 50 years has contributed to his mobility, vitality health, and wellness.

At 98 Mr. Houle will be my oldest Chiropractic Patient and by far my most inspirational patient. We all can benefit from the example Mr. Houle sets. “ Get up, move, and don’t be afraid to work”.