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Reading for Relaxation

Posted by chiropam on Aug 31, 2010 in Chiropractic

I was having lunch the other day with a good friend that I haven’t seen in a while. Life got busy, and our monthly lunches decreased to a quarterly if not a bi-annual event. After we caught up on the usual family, work, friend details, my friend mentioned to me that she has ‘re-discovered’ a good form of stress relief.

Reading for Relaxation

She asked me to recall the last time I read a good book. I responded by saying, “Well, I read all the time….personal development books, subscriptions, notes, Facebook posts, blogs, professional development books and publications, etc.”

She asked me again, “When did you read for pleasure?” Ah, I sat back, thought about it and couldn’t actually recall – it has been that long…

There are many forms of stress relief out there, and not all will benefit the same with people, but if you look and match them to your own personal values, the benefits will be there.

The suggestion did not resonate with me at first, as I thought I’m way too busy to find time for that. However, after a few weeks, I remembered what she shared and decided to give it a try. My friend couldn’t describe enough how different it made her feel and how beneficial it was. I’m not a big television watcher, so instead of getting back on the computer, I went to Borders and bought 3 books to ‘just read’.

I had forgotten that reading is one of the simplest forms of relaxation for the mind and body. Picking up a book and allowing our minds to use our imaginations to add colour to the black and white pages can be a form of stress relief that modern life places upon us.

The pressures of the modern working day, the television and the computer game culture we live in, often hide the pleasure and benefits of reading. Although we can read, or even listen to books on the internet, a book can open a whole world of escapism and adventure for the reader, as our imagination is guided by the author.

The choices are virtually endless. It’s no different than choosing a DVD! If it is a difficult choice, the ‘best sellers’ list is always a good place to start. The reader may find a book that inspires them elsewhere like at the library or by recommendation from family or friends. Actually, you may even be lucky enough to stumble upon a book which literally changes your life!

heart-book

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Feeling the Cold?

Posted by chiropam on Jul 6, 2010 in Chiropractic, Health, Health Benefits, health tips, Wellness

How many times have you said to yourself or heard someone say:  “My joints hurt when it gets cold or damp”?

83889474

There is a popular belief that weather affects arthritis. But is there any proof of this?

It’s been unusually cold in Perth this Winter, and patients have asked this question numerous times.  Let me shed some light on this…

Arthritis can occur as a result of injury, when cartilage is damaged. This is known as traumatic arthritis. It can also occur as a result of “wear and tear” over time. This is the most common form of arthritis, and is called osteoarthritis, aka degenerative arthritis. There are also other diseases in which the body’s immune system forms antibodies which attack the cartilage in joints. The most well-known of these types of arthritis is called rheumatoid arthritis. This shouldn’t be confused with the term “rheumatism”, which has taken on the meaning of any aches or pains related to aging, or weather.

So what about the effects of weather? Some studies have demonstrated a worsening of arthritis symptoms with low barometric pressure and high humidity. There is a theory that low pressure systems, usually associated with damp or rainy conditions, could cause joints to swell. The swelling causes stiffness of the joints, as well as pain. High humidity may have an effect through other mechanisms.

Key:  Keep the Muscles Warm and Loose

We know that arthritis symptoms can be worse when the muscles around the joint aren’t strong or supple enough. Cold weather stiffens muscles, so this may also worsen arthritis symptoms.  I believe this is the key here.  The muscles really need to be kept warm and loose.

Each person is different in how weather can affect them. Some people say they can predict rain based on their arthritis, and others say that they feel worse during or after a storm. This simply shows that the correlation between weather and arthritis is poorly understood.

There’s no actual evidence that weather actually causes damage to joints, and there’ s no more arthritis in the population in rainy, damp climates than there is in dry, sunny climates!

So keeping all this in mind, here are a few tips to deal with arthritis:

Keep joints warm. Dress warmly in cold weather, scarves and gloves are effective; and stretch once warmed up for cold-weather activity.

If you feel your arthritis symptoms worsen in specific weather, try to avoid heavy activity at those times. Even if nobody can prove that arthritis and weather are related, if you feel that it does affect you, then listen to your body and act accordingly.

Stay warm!

Chiropam

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Travel For Health

Posted by chiropam on May 18, 2010 in Health Benefits

Travel for HealthThe saying goes, “Change is as good as a holiday.”  I will disagree with this.  Change is good, but I prefer the holiday when possible.  It can be a weekend getaway, or an overseas trip, but the end result is what counts.

There are various valid reasons to travel, and all of them have the potential to bring great benefits to the traveler.

Traveling is a fantastic experience and something that most people look forward to at some point in their lives. For many people traveling is an escape from the daily grind of life, but for other people travel is a way to grow as a person and broaden their horizons.

In my case, my latest trip to Singapore brought a little of all of the following forms.  I wanted to be able to get away from my every day surroundings to fully refresh.  I learned a lot about the culture, the history, the people and the wonderful food in Singapore.  Not only that, but the shopping was nothing short of amazing!  Now for some that would be stressful, but for me, not the case.  I enjoyed it immensely and felt that is was “just what the doctor ordered.”

Forms of Travel

Escapism

One common form of travel is escapism. People from all walks of life get exhausted with their work and the stresses of daily life, and going on a vacation helps them to forget those problems and stresses for a while and recuperate, and return to work refreshed. Sure, you could relax at home and reduce your stress a little, but changing your environment completely helps you to remove yourself from your stresses and daily routine. That makes for a much more effective stress release. This type of traveler tends to visit resort areas like Bali, Phuket, Fiji, the Caribbean Islands, etc. The tropical weather of such destinations makes for a comfortable escape at any type of year.

Culture And History

Another type of traveler is the traveler with an interest in culture and history.  For example, someone who has an interest in Buddhism can visit India to discover the roots of Buddhism in real life.  It is an opportunity to experience the cultures that they have read about or seen on television.  It also gives a chance to gain deep insight into our planet, the various countries and how they interact and function.

Inward Journey

This type of traveler wants to understand themselves better by removing themselves from their surroundings, from work pressures, family and friend pressures and their own inner struggles.  It gives the chance to see what the person is really like at the core.  This traveler may enjoy the people they meet and all of their daily experiences and adventures more than a specific destination or culture.  Learning ways to interact with new types of people, different problems as they arise and learning how to find inner peace anywhere regardless of the place, are experiences this type of traveler will appreciate the most.

All of the above travel styles can be very enriching and rewarding to the traveler.  Some people may appreciate a mixture of them all, which would be ideal.  Whichever style you choose, enjoy it the fullest.  There are experiences waiting to become memorable treasures.  Life is short, refresh and recharge sooner rather than later ~  don’t wait for retirement!

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Sunset After The Storm

Posted by chiropam on Mar 30, 2010 in Chiropractic, health tips

Last Monday, the 22nd of March 2010 was a day that the people of Perth, Western Australia will remember for many years to come.  The heavens opened up and it rained, then poured and then started sending hail that ranged from the size of golf balls to cricket balls.  Some escaped damage, and others had the unfortunate circumstances of wrecked cars or homes damaged from water or hail that viciously came through windows, ceilings, walls or backed up onto floors and gardens.

Here is a brief video that a local shot on the day of the storm for those of you who were not here in Perth to experience it, or if you wish to ‘re-live’ the experience.

The purpose of this blog post was not to elaborate on the damage, the wrecked cars, the numerous amounts of insurance claims now in queues, but to share with you my true inspiration from the storm.

The Sunset After The Storm which was the day after, was one of the most breathtaking I can remember.  I ran to get my camera and capture the sky with it’s most magical hues of pink, orange and red.

Sunset After The Storm

This to me is reflective of life.  The ups and downs of life are representative of a storm.  Emotions like rage, anger and hate can be shades of black and grey and be so dim.  Going through rough periods can make you feel like you’re in a black hole, falling down a dark tunnel, bleak and even fearful.  The sky that late afternoon got so dark around 5:00pm, that you thought it was midnight.  The power went out creating even more darkness and quietness which was quite eerie.  Amazingly enough, it was such a different sound compared to the ‘buzzing’ that is constantly surrounding us.  It was also another reminder how we take things for granted like electricity, which we have grown so dependent on.

Sunset After The Storm

On the other side of the spectrum, to balance out that dark, black vicious sky – the most amazing brightness that painted the sky literally made me stop and give thanks for the many blessings in my life.

I quote my mentor, Dr John Demartini, “Nothing has ever happened or can happen to you that is not a gift and a blessing, but it’s difficult to be thankful until you find the hidden benefit in what may seem at first to be a negative event. Gratitude makes you present with whatever you are doing.”

Sunset After The Storm

I’ve learned that it is more than just being positive, or thinking positive.  It’s about being truly grateful for what is, as it is.  Not living in the guilt of the past, or fear of the future, but truly in the present…that’s why they call it a gift :-) .

Balance comes from focusing on what we have in our lives that we are grateful for.  I’ve been consciously asking myself, when I catch a negative thought, or complaint in action.  Is this an empowering thought, or a disempowering thought?  We have the power and the choice to change that.  It doesn’t have to dominate.  Choosing which way is so liberating.

Sunset After The Storm

So whatever storm you may be going through in life, ask yourself:  Am I acting in an empowering way, or a disempowering way?  Are my thoughts empowering or disempowering?  If I want a different outcome, the first major step is to change my thoughts and the rest will follow.

Choose to see the sunset, appreciate the sunset, be grateful for the sunset, rather than focusing on the storm – the darkness, the destruction, the damage.  Look for your ‘Sunset After The Storm’….good luck on your journey!

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Instrument Adjusting

Posted by chiropam on Feb 28, 2010 in Chiropractic

I was speaking with a group of people over the weekend, and I’ve come to realise that there are people who still share a few untruths about chiropractic.  Let me share these 2 myths primarily, and shed some light on these topics:

Myth #1:

“Chiropractic care is only for back pain.”

This is just not so.  Chiropractic care can benefit a wide variety of health problems that stem from the spine and nervous system.  Old injuries, everyday wear and tear, stress (emotional, physical, mental) or repetitive daily activities can contribute to the spinal bones (vertebrae) losing their proper position and/or motion.  This dysfunction of spinal joints may cause pain and nerve interference in one or more areas of the body.  Any type of dysfunction of these spinal joints can be a source of irritation to the nervous system.

Myth #2:

“Chiropractic care is either rough, painful, dangerous, or all three!”

I would like to share with you that there are alternatives to what would be considered mainstream manual chiropractic techniques.  There are several other low-force, gentle, safe techniques that would be an alternative, yet with health benefits.

One of the main techniques on instrument adjusting is the Activator Method Chiropractic Technique (AMCT).  The Activator Method uses an activator instrument.  An activator instrument is a hand-held instrument designed to give the patient a very specific, low-force adjustment.  The activator instrument delivers a controlled, light and fast thrust without causing undue strain to patients.  The activator adjustments are so quick and controlled, that the body’s muscles are less likely to resist, allowing for a more precise and exact adjustment.  It’s so gentle and it is actually relaxing.

Activator Instrument

Activator Instrument

Another technique involves an instrument called the Impulse Instrument.  This is an electric powered instrument that offers specific, low-force adjustment to the affected area.  This instrument offers all of the benefits associated with the Activator instrument.

Impulse Instrument

Impulse Instrument

Perhaps there is an ankle or wrist, hip or shoulder, or hand or foot that may need an adjustment.  There are bones and joints in these areas as well that can benefit from an adjustment by a chiropractor.  This may not be well known either as chiropractors can be streamlined as “back doctors” only.

Conditions that have been helped through chiropractic care include, but not limited to:

Neck Pain

Headaches

Sciatica

Infantile Colic

Reflux

Hip Pain

Pain between the shoulders

Pain associated with arms & legs

Bedwetting

Pain associated with Pregnancy

I hope this sheds some light on the 2 very common myths associated with chiropractic.  Have you had an experience with ‘instrument adjusting’? Activator or Impulse?  Are you aware of the health benefits that can be obtained through chiropractic care?  Comments welcome…

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Life of a Female Chiropractor 4

Posted by chiropam on Jan 28, 2010 in Chiropractic, health tips

www.flickr.com/photos/ooohoooh/1350774613/

Happy 2010!  It sure has gotten off to a very fast start.  I feel like it just rolled in and we’re getting ready to turn the page on the calendar to February.  One of the most significant things that has happened in my life as a female chiropractor, is the 2 new chiropractors that have joined my team at Hillarys Chiropractic.

When The Teacher Is Ready, The Student Appears

I have taken on a mentoring role in the practice with 2 new associate chiropractors.  They are both vibrant, enthusiastic and eager to learn. I am committed to assisting them while they embrace and develop into being the best chiropractors that they can be.  With the experience and wisdom of my years in practice, I plan to share and nurture that chiropractic spirit in them to love, give and serve the patients to the best of their ability.

When the Student Is Ready, The Teacher Appears

One of the new mentorees has been a wellness patient of mine for many years.  His understanding of the chiropractic paradigm and commitment to helping people is from the heart.  The other mentoree I had the pleasure of meeting through the other, as they went through the chiropractic course together.   His heart and commitment matches the core values, mission, vision statement of our practice.

Mentoring is a mutually beneficial relationship that involves a more experienced person helping a less experienced person to achieve their goals.

Mentoring provides a unique opportunity to contribute to a student’s career development by sharing knowledge you have acquired through years of experience.

Effective Mentoring

  • focuses on the needs of the person being mentored
  • fosters caring and supportive relationships within the workplace
  • encourages the person being mentored to develop to their optimum potential

As a mentor, the role is one that instructs, helps and guides another in the process of gaining knowledge, understanding and skills.  I want to take this a step further – pointing to something that is already present in the student.  It is like teaching someone to have shoulders.  You can’t really teach someone who already has shoulders, to have shoulders.  However, you can make them more aware of the shoulders they already have.

A mentoring relationship is usually where one wiser and more experienced person assists another person to grow and learn. Humans from the beginning of time have learned norms, values and behaviours by the example and coaching of others.

New adaptations of mentoring allows individuals to interact as colleagues in a helping relationship, on a more equal basis which can cultivate growth and learning to mutual benefit.

Experience, skills and a genuine desire to help are more valuable assets in a mentoring relationship than age or position. Open and assertive communication and the trust of both parties are essential.

Benefits to the Practice

•    Greater productivity
•    Discovery of talent
•    Development of leadership for future survival and prosperity
•    Communication of values, goals and plans
•    Increase in morale and motivation
•    Demonstration of personal and professional standards
•    Achievement of excellent service
•    Implementation of equity initiatives
•    Fostering of shared values and team work
•    Enhancement of leadership and people management skills
•    Revitalised energy
•    Increase in staff satisfaction
•    Building a learning organisation

Benefits to the Mentoree

•    Development of potential
•    Increased knowledge about the practice
•    Flexibility – Mentorees negotiate with their mentors to work within available time and other commitments
•    Self directed learning – Mentorees choose specific learning objectives
•    Give and receive feedback
•    Receive encouragement and support to achieve goals
•    Develop new networks
•    Develop new and/or different perspectives
•    Get assistance with ideas
•    Demonstrate strengths and explore potential
•    Develop visibility within or outside an organisation
•    Be challenged to use talents and share expertise
•    Develop and increase self confidence

Benefits to the Mentor

•    Obtain a greater understanding of the barriers experienced at lower levels of the practice
•    Enhance their own skills in coaching, counselling, listening and modelling
•    The sense of being needed and recognised professionally
•    Develop and practise a more personal style of leadership
•    Gain additional recognition and respect
•    Learn new perspectives and approaches
•    Contribute something to others in the organisation
•    Extend professional networks
•    Demonstrate expertise and share knowledge

Both partners in the mentoring relationship benefit. Learning must be a lifelong process and one of the most effective ways to learn is to assist in the development of others. The best teachers learn much from their students, counsellors constantly learn from clients and partners in any successful relationship grow and develop along the way.

I look forward to our journey ahead, and trust that all will benefit in many forms.

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T’was A Superfood Christmas

Posted by chiropam on Dec 30, 2009 in Chiropractic, Health, Wellness

Christmas 2009

T’was a Superfood Christmas, and all through the house,

The decorations complete, even tea towels with Mickey Mouse.

Some snacks before dinner, cinnamon coated walnuts with care.

Saving the dark chocolate for dessert, with almonds to spare.

There was spinach and roasted pumpkin salad,

Garlic & Lemon dressing made it more superfood valid.

Took the bottle of red wine out of the gift wrap,

Steamed the broccoli, peas and beans – no time for a nap.

Tarts with cranberries and cherries adorned the Christmas platter,

Saving the blueberries for the morning, for pancake batter.

Red Wine

That was my version of the traditional Christmas poem that I’m sure you’ve heard more than a few times before.  Just because it was Christmas, it was not a reason to overindulge.  The superfoods were in abundance in our home.

Roasted Pumpkin & Spinach Salad

Superfoods contribute to a healthy body and mind.  Our Christmas Eve menu consisted of  almonds and walnuts as snacks.  The sparkling shiraz was the start of the red wine health benefits, and red wine to accompany the meal.

Cherries!!

A mixture of different berries:  blueberries, cherries and cranberries gave us many health benefits.  Broccoli, spinach and pumpkin were packed with superfood benefits and of course, a bit of dark chocolate and sweet potato pie for dessert.

Beach Christmas Day

Christmas morning started with an early swim at the beach, to get our exercise to start the day. Then we came back and had pancakes for breakfast.  The pancake batter was wheat-free and dairy-free with blueberry superfood benefits.

Blueberry Pancake

Wishing you a very healthy start to the new year – all the best to you and yours for a fabulous 2010!

Chiropam

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Piriformis Syndrome

Posted by chiropam on Nov 30, 2009 in Chiropractic

piriformis-syndrome

One common cause of pain down the leg or leg pain is Piriformis syndrome. Piriformis syndrome is named after the piriformis muscle. The piriformis muscle is located in the lower part of the spine (sacrum), connects to the thighbone (femur), and assists in hip rotation. The sciatic nerve runs beneath the piriformis muscle. This muscle is susceptible to injury from a slip and fall, hip arthritis, or a difference in leg length. Such situations can cause cramping and spasm to develop in the piriformis muscle, thereby pinching the sciatic nerve – causing inflammation and pain.

Muscle spasms and/or contraction of the piriformis muscle itself can lead to pain along the back of the thigh, down to the knee, causing a possible loss of sensation or numbness and tingling in the sole of the foot. The piriformis syndrome can often mimic the well known complaint known as sciatica.  Because of the similar symptoms, it is often misdiagnosed as sciatica. The main difference between sciatica and piriformis syndrome is the cause. What both of these complaints have in common is that both can produce pain, and/or numbness and tingling below the knee and into the foot.

This has been the ‘special of the week’  in my practice.  It can be left or right, depending on the activity that can irritate the area.

Who Does This Affect?

Many athletes are prone to piriformis syndrome.  The athlete’s cause is primarily due to improper stretching and warm-up exercises as well as overuse during activity. In this case it is most likely that the piriformis muscle is irritated and usually in spasm.

People who spend long hours sitting are prone to this syndrome.  It can be from sitting at a desk, in front of a computer, students, riding in a car or truck for long periods of time, and sitting on a wallet.

People who sit for extended periods of time, especially with poor posture are prone to the piriformis being irritated.

What Causes Piriformis Syndrome?

The primary cause is due to tightness and contracture of the piriformis muscle. In this case the piriformis muscle is shortened and does not allow for the smooth movement of the sciatic nerve during leg motion.
The causes of piriformis myospasm are varied such as overuse, excessive fast walking without proper warm up and stretching, prolonged sitting.

Treatment for Piriformis Syndrome

As for treatment of piriformis syndrome, many variables can hinder your successful recovery:  including but not limited to smoking, obesity, job limitations and improper exercise (not warming up and stretching).  It is very rare to have a piriformis syndrome from a one-off direct trauma to the area.

Any treatment plan must include stretching of the gluteal muscles as well as stretching of the piriformis muscles.

Chiropractors can assist you by recommending the proper exercises and stretches to perform. Many Chiropractors may also suggest some form of muscle therapy to the piriformis muscle in the gluteal region in order to assist in relaxing these muscles.

Relevant adjustments to the spine, pelvis, sacrum as well as hip may be required to relieve the pressure from the nerve being trapped from the piriformis muscle.

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Happy Halloween

Posted by chiropam on Oct 30, 2009 in Wellness

Halloween KugelhopfAs an American living in Australia, I have seen the American holiday creep into Australia over the years.  Now more than ever, there are decorations, costumes, party favours, candy/lollies to get into the Halloween spirit.  I must admit that it was one of my favourite holidays as a child.  I cherish those memories and really enjoyed celebrating the holiday with other fellow Americans when my daughter was little.  The American Women’s Club of Perth was so influential in facilitating the American holidays, as well as an excellent way to mingle with other Americans living in Perth.  This year I will be celebrating with some American friends, but not necessarily traditionally.  I had some Halloween decorations to use on a pumpkin cake recipe that I modified to call my own.  Celebrating with the superfood-pumpkin we will have Pumpkin Spice Cake and Pumpkin Spinach Salad.

Pumpkin Spice Cake  (serves 8-10)

Ingredients:

125g  butter
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 eggs
180g peeled pumpkin, steamed and mashed
2 cups sifted plain flour
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1-1/2teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1  teaspoon cinnamon
1  teaspoon nutmeg
1  teaspoon allspice
1  teaspoon ginger
1/2 cup buttermilk

Method

Pre-heat oven to 180C.  I used a fan forced oven.
Cream the butter, then add the sugar and beat till fluffy.
Beat in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each one.

Slowly beat in the pumpkin.
Sift all the dry ingredients together, then add some buttermilk, alternating until all mixed in.

Tupperware KugelhopfPour the cake batter into the Tupperware Kugelhopf and bake for about 40-45 minutes. Remember, every oven is different so time will vary.  Test with cake tester or knife.   It should spring back when pressed lightly.

Cool cake in tin on a rack for 5 minutes -this allows for air to circulate around the base of the tin too. Turn onto rack gently to cool completely.

Decorate as desired.  I frosted and decorated with Halloween sprinkles.  It can be used anytime of year, just sprinkle with icing sugar.

Have a Happy Halloween!  Try the cake recipe even if it’s not for Halloween.  It’s great all year round, let me know how it turns out:-)

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Sciatica

Posted by chiropam on Oct 22, 2009 in Chiropractic

The sciatic nerves are the largest and longest nerves of the body, about the size of your thumb in diameter. Each of the two sciatic nerves is formed by four or five nerves branching off the spinal cord and running down the back of each leg. Sciatica is a severe pain in the leg caused from compression or irritation of the sciatic nerve.

What Causes Sciatica?

Pain is caused when the sciatic nerve roots are irritated, scraped, twisted, stretched or pinched as they exit the spine. Causes of this may be chemical, physical or the emotional stress of everyday living. A full-blown sciatic flare-up can involve the entire sciatic nerve path resulting in symptoms of lower back pain, burning, cramping or numbness that radiates into the thighs, legs, ankles, feet and toes. Pain may also be limited to various points along the nerve such as the buttocks, knee and calf.

One of the major causes of sciatica is the Vertebral Subluxation Complex. This can be associated with or without disc problems. It can be accompanied by the bulging or herniation of the discs which separate each spinal bone. This can irritate or put pressure on the sciatic nerve roots as they leave the spinal cord. The result can be an intense pain shooting down either or both legs. Other possible causes are pregnancy and childbirth, tumours, and non-spinal disorders such as diabetes, constipation, or sitting on one’s back pocket wallet.

Can Chiropractic Help?

Sciatica (like other health problems that can be traced to the spine) often responds dramatically to the restoration of normal spinal function through chiropractic care.

The chiropractic approach is to use carefully directed and controlled “adjustments” to remove the interference from spinal and associated structures. These chiropractic adjustments can be very effective in reducing nerve irritation and pain that is associated with it.

Sometimes the cause of sciatica is beyond the scope of chiropractic care. If this is the case, your chiropractor will refer you to the appropriate specialist.

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