Research Summaries #2

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Research Summaries #2
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This month the editors from Dynamic Chiropratic have put together another excellent set of research summaries that may help answer some questions that you have about your health. They also have an excellent web site at

Hope you enjoy these summaries.



Pain Drawings Help Your Chiropractor Help You

An old Chinese proverb says that "One picture is worth more than a thousand words." Many people have heard this phrase, but how many truly understand and appreciate what it means? Painters and photographers certainly understand. Any parent with a young, enthusiastic child understands. Your chiropractor also understands. Pain drawings have long been used to help chiropractors determine the location and distribution of their patients' pain. A pain drawing is basically an outline of the human body, both a front and a rear view. Patients are instructed to mark exactly where their pain is and if it spreads from one area to another, etc. A study comparing the pain drawings of 100 patients suffering from low-back or neck pain with their MRI results found that pain drawings were accurate in predicting low-back and neck problems, and particularly in their ability to rule out the presence of specific conditions. Doctors of chiropractic will often have patients complete a pain drawing and a pain questionnaire prior to beginning treatment, in addition to physical tests, x-rays, and various other procedures that are routinely performed as part of the consultation/examination process. This well-rounded approach to health care means your chiropractor can provide you with the most accurate and effective care possible. Gioia F, Gorga D, Nagler W. The value of pain drawings in the care of neck and back pain.

Journal of Back and Musculoskeletal Rehabilitation, 1997; vol. 8, pp209-14

Let Someone Else Play the Guinea Pig Another day means another report of the dangerous side effects of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). We already know that many commonly used NSAIDs, including Advil, Motrin and Aleve, can cause stomach bleeding and ulcers, kidney dysfunction, and other potentially serious health conditions. Now comes word that pharmaceutical company Wyeth-Ayerst Laboratories has withdrawn DURACT from the market because of its effect on the liver. DURACT is the brand name for bromfenac sodium, one of many NSAIDs prescribed for the short-term management of acute pain. Since its release on the market in July 1997, 12 cases of liver failure, resulting in four deaths and eight liver transplants, have been directly linked to the drug's use. Approximately 2.5 million prescriptions for DURACT were filled before its market withdrawal, and millions of prescriptions for other NSAIDs continue to be filled each year. When the next cure-all "wonder drug" hits the market, why not wait until adequate testing is done, and the definitive clinical results are documented? Why not make sure that it's completely safe for you and your children? Oh, and here's another word of advice: keep enjoying the natural, risk-free benefits of chiropractic care John Trzaskalski, executive director of customer service operations, Wyeth-Ayerst Laboratories. Letter to customers, June 22, 1998; Philip J. de Vane, MD, vice president of clinical affairs and North American medical director, Wyeth-Ayerst Laboratories.

Letter to health care professionals, June 22, 1998. Call Wyeth-Ayerst at 1-800-281-9260 with questions or comments.

Catch Pitching Injuries before They Start September is here, and that can mean only one thing: baseball fever! As summer winds down, the pennant races heat up in ballparks around the nation. Odds are the two teams that make it to the World Series in October will have at least one thing in common: healthy (and talented) pitchers. A recent study in the American Journal of Sports Medicine tested seven baseball pitchers (six collegiate and one high-school) to determine the various stresses placed upon the body by the standard pitching motion. Results showed that, in addition to the stresses placed on the elbow and shoulder, the pitching motion also generated substantial forces on both the push-off leg and the landing leg in all seven pitchers. Millions of children grow up playing baseball and other sports. If you have children, make sure they visit your chiropractor regularly--and help stop sports-related injuries before they even start. MacWilliams BA, Choi T, et al. Characteristic ground-reaction forces in baseball pitching.

American Journal of Sports Medicine, 1998; vol. 26, no.1, pp66-71

Neck Support Pillows: Is One More Effective than the Others? Back in the June issue, we told you about a study that suggested that cervical pillows could reduce chronic neck pain. Now, a second study goes one step further, comparing six currently available neck-support pillows of different shape and consistency. Thirty-seven healthy volunteers and 18 patients suffering from neck pain were asked to randomly test the pillows over a three-week period (for at least three consecutive nights) and grade them in terms of overall comfort and effect on the severity of their pain. Thirty-six of the 55 subjects found that all of the pillows improved sleep, and 27 of 42 found that they reduced neck pain and tension. The pillow that received the highest rating contained two firm supporting cores for the neck and was described by patients as a fairly soft, relaxing pillow that provided adequate neck support without sacrificing comfort. Many chiropractors have support pillows available for purchase right in their offices. If not, your chiropractor should be able to tell you how to get your hands (and neck) on the pillow most appropriate for you. Persson L, Moritz U. Neck Support Pillows: a comparative study.

Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, May 1998; vol. 21, no. 4, pp237-40

Keep Hamstring Stretches Short and Sweet Flexibility is an important element of normal muscle function. Stretching exercises that increase flexibility can help prevent strains and tears, enhance overall athletic performance, and assist in rehabilitation following injury. But how much of a stretch do you need? A study in Physical Therapy evaluated the ideal time and frequency of stretching needed to increase flexibility of the hamstring muscles. Stretching for 30 to 60 seconds one to three times per day (five days a week for six weeks) increased muscle flexibility for all test groups. However, no increase in flexibility occurred when the length of stretching time was increased from 30 to 60 seconds, or when the frequency of stretching was increased from one to th If you've ever strained a ligament or muscle, you learned the hard way about the importance of adequate pre-exercise stretching. Hamstring and calf muscles in particular are prone to injury if not properly "warmed up." Your chiropractor can tell you more about the value of stretching and recommend exercises that will increase flexibility and reduce the likelihood of injury. Bandy W, Irion J, Briggler M. The effect of time and frequency of static stretching on flexibility of the hamstring muscles.

Physical Therapy, 1997; vol.77, pp1090-1096