Desk Distress Disorder Identified

A pain complex that results from prolonged hours of sitting at a desk, working on a computer and talking on the phone.

After working with white collar office workers for well over a decade, a condition has manifested itself that is shown over and over to be a verifiable problem. In our office, we call it “Desk Distress Disorder”. It is the gradual tightening of the shoulders that creeps into the necks eventually leading to neck and/or shoulder pain, can spread into headaches, cause numbness and tingling in the hands/fingers/arms with soreness in the wrists or elbows and causes back soreness when trying to sit up straight.

A hallmark of this condition is that repeated stretching doesn’t relieve it. Exercise may give temporary relief, but after resuming desk work, the symptoms return. The symptoms USUALLY appear gradually over time and begin to last longer, come more frequently until the symptoms become constant.

While many professionals may attribute this problem to a worker’s comp injury, we have found that the symptoms are due to a pre-existing misalignment from previous trauma, predisposing the patient to pain from chronic bad sitting posture.

At Atlas, we specialize in improving the mechanics of the skeleton, taking tension off of the muscles and nerves. We improve the symptoms associated with Desk Distress Disorder continually by peeling off layers of bad mechanics and supporting the new alignment between visits with better sitting, sleeping and standing posture.

Find out if you have Desk Distress Disorder and how to get pain relief on your own at home or when you should know that it is time to seek professional help at my new website, Desk Distress Disorder


What Exercises Will Stop My Pain?

Exercising Strengthens the Existing Misalignments

In our culture it is very common for patients’ primary care doctors to refer them to physical therapy when they have pain. So there is a very ingrained idea with patients that the way to get rid of pain is through exercise.

There appears to be some workability with exercising and stretching because patients may get some relief for a period of time. However, when they discontinue the stretches or exercises, many patients have told me the pain comes back. Other patients find exercising kind of hurts and others barely get relief from stretching or exercising.

When in pain, patients already naturally stretch the tight areas to get relief. So it is interesting that patients want to know what secret exercise might actually finally make them better when I meet with them.

Unfortunately there isn’t any exercise that will fix the problem. When the bones are twisted out of place in a way they cannot realign themselves, stretched muscles will eventually tighten back up because they are connected to misaligned bones. The muscles DON’T pull the bones out of place. Bad alignment twists muscles, causing them to tighten. Exercising your body temporarily changes the positions of the bones and muscles. But due to the mechanics of the spinal column and the inability of a vertebrae to realign itself BACKWARDS, there is limited workability in exercising to fix pain.

For many problems, there ISN’T any exercise that can fix certain misalignments because there’s no muscle that pulls the vertebrae backwards.

Once patients begin ABC care, their spine is realigned in the direction that the spine CANNOT fix on its own. Then they don’t NEED to stretch the muscle to get relief from the tightness or pain. But after beginning a course of care, any exercise they do WILL benefit them tremendously. Stretching will feel more natural and easier. And strengthening exercises will give the postural muscles better tone. Stronger muscles hold the body in place, making it less likely for the spine to misalign. Exercising will also FEEL better to the patient who is under ABC care once they aren’t so twisted up. Exercising a very twisted spine will merely strengthen the misaligned posture that it is already in.

Do you worry you just haven’t exercised ENOUGH to finally get rid of the pain? Don’t beat yourself up. We have treated Pilates instructors, fitness trainers, hard-core exercisers, Cross-fit athletes, triathletes, cyclists, runners and horseback riders who exercise more than you would ever DREAM of exercising. And they have badly misaligned spines that do not just “straighten out” from a lot of exercise. Once these athletes have begun our program, their training enters a whole new realm of possibilities due to improved posture, untwisted bones and looser muscles.

On my Secrets to Good Posture DVD, I demonstrate the most effective stretches and strengthening moves for supporting good posture. But those exercises cannot FIX the actual problem. They can only hold the spine in the existing alignment pattern, good, bad or indifferent. So get the chassis lined up and then take the old girl for a good spin. The drive will be much better and you won’t chew up the tires due to a bad rear-end alignment!

Are you “cracked up” over getting an adjustment?

Have you ever wanted to try chiropractic but never have because you are scared the adjustments are painful or because you don’t like the “cracking” noise? If so, then you are like 3/4 of the patients we meet. You will be surprised to know that for for most people, even scaredy cats, the adjustment itself isn’t painful. If anything, it is SURPRISING. In fact the relief that is usually felt following the first ABC (TM) treatment melts away the scaredy cat’s fear for future treatments.

In order to change the alignment of your skeleton, there must be movement of the bones. The soft tissues, like ligaments, muscles and tendons can actually be swollen due to the nature of the joint being twisted. So there can be some soreness. Patients MAY be sore from the adjustment. But that is like the soreness you would feel if you did a new exercise. Not PAIN. And there is one move that moves the head from one side to the other and can make a popping noise. But with the technique we use at Atlas, there isn’t any twisting of the neck or low back. The adjustments to the back are done standing up and are rather comfortable.

Atlas’ technique IS different. It isn’t like traditional chiropractic adjustments. That’s why I think MOST scaredy cats stick with it, despite their fear of getting adjusted or hearing their bones “crack.”

Just knowing the false data about “cracking your joints” that has filled everyone’s heads can help scaredy cats “take the plunge”, too. EVERYONE has a family member who has told them if you “crack your knuckles you’ll get arthritis”. But funny enough, researchers at Johns Hopkins University found that middle-aged people who cracked their joints had less arthritis than those who never cracked their joints. It was the researchers’ second study showing that cracking your joints DOESN’T cause arthritis and after age 45, mobility lessens in those who don’t crack their joints. According to Dr. Cymet, the researcher in this study, the cracking noise is gas escaping the joint at the point of tension of moving the joint.

So take heart and find out how our technique can get you feeling better, even if you’re embarrassed at being scared. We will escort you through your fear to the other side of your first treatment and show you how different your life can become without constant or chronic pain!

Exercise Your Way to Health, Not Disease

ABC Chiropractor, ABC Doctor

Dr. Erica S. Kasprzyk, DC

New Year’s resolutions probably haven’t made it to the top of your to-do list this month.  But I want to put a bug in your ear for next month when you start tackling how you intend to exercise more.

You’ve probably noticed once you get a bit of a routine going, that exercise gets a little easier. Then when you slack off for awhile, you have to get back in the groove all over again.

Part of that has to do with the number of energy-producing units in the cell. When you exercise, you stimulate more mitochondria to be made inside of every cell.

There is DNA in the center of cells for controlling what chemicals and proteins get made. But the mitochondria, which is just a mini working organ inside the cell, has its own DNA. So exercisers get the added benefit of stimulating the mitochondrial DNA to make more copies of itself.

Since the mitochondria are the site for energy production, exercising leads to extra places for energy to be made; you have more places where oxygen is used in that last step to get an energy molecule. That is the same step that produces carbon dioxide.

In every energy transfer of oxygen, however, you get a free radical made. When you exercise regularly, you beef up the cell’s ability to make energy. At the same time, you also beef up the cell’s free radicals. Do you remember that free radicals are the nasty guys that like to go around stealing electrons from the nearest molecule that it can?

Unfortunately, research has shown that free radicals are most likely to steal electrons from that mitochondrial DNA. It’s not protected like cellular DNA is with a covering called the nucleus. Plus, it’s located very close-by and hey, that unstable free radical isn’t going to be very choosy. It is going to swipe from the easiest target.

That’s why super-exercisers are more likely to die early than non- exercisers.

The solution is extra supplementation of anti-oxidants (“anti” = against; oxidants=an oxygen stealer; thus, anti-oxidants get rid of oxidizing agents, or free radicals.) It is especially critical for exercisers to supplement with a host of antioxidants that your body can’t make: Vitamins A, B, C, & E.

It is also necessary to supplement with building blocks for anti-oxidants that your body CAN make: n-acetyl cysteine, selenium & manganese help make glutathione; alpha lipoic acid, coQ10 and L-acetyl carnitine beef up the antioxidants that work near the mitochondria. It’s wild to think that exercising could accelerate you closer to cancer. But that is the indications in the research. More free radicals means more damage to mitochondria. Then the mitochondria are less effective at converting sugar to energy. And a lack of energy, well you already know how that feels at times. Not good. The other parts of the body that are relying on it, like your nerves and brain are especially cranky without it!

That’s why I continue to recommend Nutriwest’s Complete A-G. It provides minerals and ingredients for the mitochondria.

Complete Glutathione provides support for making the antioxidant glutathione. I personally like using the Complete Whey G powder in my morning shakes. It boosts glutathione, too.

If you’re taking Vibe, then you are getting all of the listed ingredients except alpha lipoic acid. Not too shabby from one product!

Medpay is a Stand-Alone Benefit—Don’t Decline It!

Have you been contacted by your insurance rep to decline MedPay for your auto policy? Before you decline it, visit the Colorado Chiropractic Association’s site to find out the pros and cons. If you have already refused it, still visit that website to see the full implications.

Medpay really does NOT duplicate your medical/health insurance coverage. Med- Pay covers all occupants in the car. And if you are responsible for the accident, you are responsible for the injuries of everyone in your car. Bodily Injury (BI) covers people outside of your car. BI doesn’t cover the other people in your car when it’s your fault. But MedPay does.

Also you could find yourself without a job in this economy. And if you have declined the coverage, you may forget that you were relying on your employer’s health coverage in the event of an accident. So if you’ve lost your job and declined MedPay, consider talking to your insurance agent about what kind of risk you are personally assuming.

The benefit allows for $5,000 per person involved. That will usually cover an emergency room trip and a few doctor’s visits after an accident. And no co-pays or deductibles apply. Up to $100,000 in MedPay benefits can be purchased for Colorado policies.

We see patients who have been injured in auto accidents and more than 80% of them have Medpay to cover 100% of the bill in our office.  It is a convenience to get yourself “checked under the hood” as well as your car right after the inconvenience of being in an accident!

Check “Under the Hood” After an Accident

Have you ever had bad luck at the worst possible time?  I guess that’s why it’s called “bad” luck. I was getting ready to downsize out of my house into a townhouse. The never-ending stream of realtor documents for two properties and ongoing requests for more supporting loan documents was one of the most stressful things I’ve endured. Stressful because of the “What if’s??” …What if I don’t get approved and I’m supposed to move out of my house next week?? What if the buyers fall through?

But it all worked out great and I got exactly the townhouse I had hoped for. However, during all of this stress I wrecked my car in the parking lot at work—of all dumb places! I skidded on an icy spot behind Walgreens and hit the curb and knocked a sign over. The bumper and fog lights were trashed. Now I have a pretty new bumper with fresh clear mask! But it happened one week before moving. So I was thrilled to just get the bumper fixed and get the rental car returned the day before moving.

It occurred to me I should get the alignment checked after that “fender bender” because it could have jolted things. And since I just spent a whole house payment on tires back in the fall, I didn’t want to take a chance on trashing my new tires.

So a few weeks after the move was finished, I finally took the car to my regular shop for an oil change and alignment check. The guys at Southpark Goodyear got 3 wheels aligned but were stumped with the driver’s front wheel. A piece would not come apart (the tie-rod). It occurred to me that wheel was on the same corner I hit in the wreck. It had only been 5 or 6 weeks since the accident and I asked them if they thought it could be accident-related? They thought it could be bent from a trauma.  I was lucky that the insurance company’s shop also agreed that the work was accident related and I was able to get it fixed as part of the original claim—saving me $400 for parts and labor.

I couldn’t help but note the chiropractic irony of this story. Many times when we have a trauma, we check the obvious things and get those fixed—broken bones, stitches, obvious sprains and strains—whether it was from a ski fall, a car accident or our baby rolls off of the couch while we are not looking.

But we can neglect to “look under the hood” for structural damage. Just think—if I left the car in bad alignment, my front tire would have been trashed in a few more months and the extended warranty I bought for the tires would be null and void. Then I would have wasted the money on the warranty protection PLUS would need to buy 2 tires for not paying attention to the alignment.

I can tell you from 10 years experience as a chiropractor it is the SAME thing with our bodies. But unlike our cars, you can’t buy a new spine once it’s worn out from bad alignment. After a bad fall snowboarding or fall on the ice you think all is well once the bruises are gone. It’s not until 6 months later when migraines start or a low back ache starts that you have pain, downtime and doctor’s bills.

So getting “checked under the hood” after a fall or trauma is good prevention. You don’t know exactly what problems you are heading off down the road. But chances are you will head off something. And structural treatment right after a trauma may need very little compared to waiting until you have a full-blown problem—just like replacing a tie-rod today instead of the tie-rod and two tires 6 months from now.

The longer you wait after a work or auto accident, the harder it is to claim that pain is injury-related. So be proactive and get things checked right away. It can save you lots of money and time down the road!

The Pain Isn’t “In Your Head”, It’s In Your Spine

ABC Chiropractor, ABC Doctor

Dr. Erica S. Kasprzyk, DC

One of the oddest things I’ve found over the years are patients who assume their aches and pains are “in their head”. Many frustrated patients have even been told by a doctor that their pain was “in their head.” I find it disturbing.  The following recent example is what got me thinking about this. A patient has an active, intelligent 10-year-old son. In the fall, after football season, he began complaining of a pain in the spine that burned, turned into a headache and even radiated around to his groin and into his legs. It got more severe after the boy snow-shoveled. Naturally the parents were shaken and had him seen by all kinds of doctors and had all kinds of tests taken, including MRI’s, blood tests and visits to specialists. At first blush, to me, the symptoms sound very related to a mechanical problem.  But ruling out disease processes was definitely warranted. He was checked for spinal cord conditions and bone cancer. The final straw for this boy’s Mom, however, came when the boy was at the neurologist’s office. The neurologist recommended the boy take an anti-depressant! The doctor told the alarmed mom that it was only a small dose, not the same dose as when a person has emotional upset.  The doctor had no explanation as to why an anti-depressant was the correct course of action for musculoskeletal pain that clearly began after a football trauma. I applaud the mom and her frame of mind to outright refuse the neurologist’s psychotropic drug recommendation which would do nothing more than subdue her son. Instead, she called our office that very day and got her son on the schedule. After his first adjustment, he immediately noticed he could stand up better; his balance was better; his headache was lessening; he could tuck his head to his chest without severe pain in his upper back. But so many people go on believing their pain IS in their head; they may not know what else to do and they may not question taking mind-altering drugs because, after all, that’s what the doctor ordered!  Even a college friend of mine was recommended anti-depressants after she complained to her doctor of pre-menopausal symptoms. How about looking at hormonal balances? Or changing birth control prescriptions? Or trying some herbs? Anything ELSE first? So my warning is to those of you who sit in your doctor’s office, feeling humble because you do not have a doctor’s degree: do not let some doctor freely prescribe you or a loved one a psychotropic drug. Once you start, you’re never supposed to come off.   Instead, find that loved one an ABC™ doctor who can help them once and for all, as long as their problem isn’t due to fractures, infections, tumors or drug side-effects.  And find out once and for all that the pain ISN’T in their head!