Monthly Archives: February 2014

Low Back Manipulation – How Does it Work? | Yankton Chiropractor | Brian Olson DC


Low back pain (LBP) is such a common problem that if you haven’t suffered from it yet, you probably will eventually. Here are a few facts to consider:  1) LBP affects men and women equally; 2) It is most common between ages 30-50; 3) Sedentary (non-active) lifestyles contribute a lot to causation; 4) Too much or too little exercise can result in LBP; 5) A BMI around 25 is “ideal” for weight management, which helps prevent LBP; 6) Causes of LBP include lifestyle (activity level), genetics – including, but not limited to, weight and osteoarthritis; 7) Occupation; 8) Exercise habits, and the list can go on and on. Let’s next look at how an adjustment is done.

When spinal manipulation is performed in the low-back region, the patient is often placed in a side lying position with the upper leg flexed towards the chest and the bottom leg kept straight. The bottom shoulder is pulled forwards and the upper shoulder is rotated backwards at the same time the low back area receives that the manipulation is rotated forwards. This produces a twisting type of motion that is well within the normal range of joint motion. When the adjustment is made, a “high velocity” (or quick), “low amplitude” (a short distance of movement) thrust is delivered often resulting in “cavitation” (the crack or, release of gases). So, WHY do we do this?

Most studies show that when there is back pain, there is inflammation. In fact, inflammation is found in most disease processes that occur both within and outside the musculoskeletal system. We know that when we control inflammation, pain usually subsides. That is why the use of “PRICE” (Protect, Rest, Ice, Compress, Elevate) works well for most muscle/joint painful conditions. We have also learned that IF we can avoid cortisone and non-steroidal drugs (like aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, etc.), tissues heal quicker and better, so these SHOULD BE AVOIDED! If you didn’t know that, check out:

Please see our prior discussions on the use of anti-inflammatory herbs and diets that are MUCH safer than non-steroidal drugs! But what does spinal manipulation DO in reference to inflammation?

Different things occur physiologically during a spinal adjustment or manipulation. We know that the mechanical receptors located in muscles, muscle tendons, ligaments, and joint capsules are stimulated and this results in muscle relaxation (reduced spasm or tightness), increased measurable range of motion, and a decrease in pain. A recent study also reported that inflammatory markers (CRP and interleukin-6) measured in a blood test, NORMALIZED after a series of nine chiropractic low back manipulations! So, NOT ONLY do spinal adjustments give immediate improvements in pain, flexibility, and muscle relaxation, they also REDUCE INFLAMMATION without the use of any pharmaceuticals!

So, let’s review what manipulation does for your low back pain: 1) Pain reduction; 2) Improved flexibility – now you can put on your socks with less pain and strain; 3) Improved functions and activities of daily living like sitting more comfortably, getting in or out of your car, bending over to feed the cat, etc.; 4) Improved sleep quality; and 5) Faster healing time by actually reducing the inflammatory markers in the blood! If you have LBP, PLEASE don’t delay – make that appointment TODAY!

We realize you have a choice in whom you consider for your health care provision and we sincerely appreciate your trust in choosing our service for those needs.  If you, a friend, or family member requires care for back pain, we would be honored to render our services.  Visit for more information.

Intersegmental Traction | Yankton Chiropractor | Brian Olson DC

Intersegmental Traction

Intersegmental Traction is a particularly useful and effective therapy to treat and help prevent painful muscle spasms and muscle guarding specifically in spinal muscles.

Back Muscles

The back is a marvelous wonder.  There are many muscles in your back used singly or in combination to achieve a tremendous range of motion (forward flexion, lateral flexion, rotation, and extension).   In your core muscles there are small muscles (semispinalis, intertransversarii, interspinus, Rotatores, etc) connecting one vertebrae to the next and there are the muscles of the Erector Spinae (Iliocostalis, Longissimus, and Spinalis) which are longer and connect different sections together.  When fatigued, or affected by accident, injury, or repetitive stress, these muscles can spasm and can lead to chronic muscle guarding.

Vetebral Discs

In between the vertebrae there are shock absorbing structures called vertebral discs.  The outer layer of a vertebral disc (like the dough of a jelly donut) is comprised of multiple layers of annulus fibrosus which is a very tough fiber.  The inside of the disc contains nucleous pulposus (the jelly) which is really very jelly-like and contains about 90% water.
The vertebral discs cushion the vertebrae from movement and act as a shock absorber during more strenuous movements like walking or running.
When Back muscles are tight and spasming they can pull vertebrae out of alignment (because the muscles are attached to the vertebrae and they shorten during a spasm).  When vertebrae are out of alignment they may cause the vertebral disc to be displaced or in severe cases rupture which may lead to mild to severe pain.

Intersegmnetal traction is a great intervention.  Intersegmental traction is delivered through the use of a traction table.  It is a table that you lay down on (on your back) and there are rollers just underneath the surface of the table.  These rollers are adjusted for your condition and weight to gently and specifically elongate and stretch your spinal joints and muscles.  This benefits in reduction and prevention of muscle spasm and begins to reestablish normal range of motion for your spinal joints (each vertebrae).  When your muscles become more relaxed and vertebrae begin to move normally your vertebral discs now have their normal space and can return to their normal position and functioning.  This also helps to prevent abnormal wear and tear on the vertebral discs and vertebrae which in turn prevent further injury and reduce the arthritis process.  Visit for more information.

Why Does My Neck Hurt So Much But My Car Only Go a Dent? | Yankton Chiropractor | Brian Olson DC

Whiplash pain can be much different from other types of injuries. When a car accident is severe, the pain will come on right away. If the injury produces a mild or moderate sprain, sometimes it takes a few days for the pain and inflammation to reach its maximum. Sometimes it is stiffness that is the prominent symptom and the patient notices this in the first few weeks after the accident. The delay in pain is often seen in low speed collisions where typically there is very less damage to the vehicles. There are a lot of factors that determine the extent of injury following a low speed whiplash. One of these is the neck posture prior to impact. Was the head turned? This can occur if the patient was looking at the rear view mirror during the collision. Low speed collisions can occur in parking lots. If the patient was turned to see if a space was clear, this can make a simple trauma result in a significant injury. Besides the position of the patient prior to the collision, the speed and amount of vehicle damage are sometimes good criteria for the severity of the trauma. However, it may not be in many cases because of crumple zones. Cars are built with crumple zones. These areas are crushed during the collision and absorb the energy of impact. In some low speed collisions, there is less crumple and more of the force is transmitted to the occupants. This is but one reason why vehicle damage won’t always equate with the spinal damage. Another factor in whiplash is whether the head-rest was properly positioned. A proper headrest should be close to the back of the head and its high point slightly above the top of the head. The reason for the high position is that in a rear-end collision, the patient who is being hit will rise slightly with impact. If the headrest is too low, then the neck will bend around it like a fulcrum causing even more injury. The same thing happens if the seat is reclined too far and the head whips backwards before hitting the headrest. Because symptoms can come on slowly and minor vehicle damage is not a good indicator of injury, a thorough examination is required. It is important to be checked by a competent health care provider after any motor vehicle collision.  Visit for more information.

Fibromyalgia Dietary Considerations #2 | Yankton Chiropractor | Brian Olson DC


Fibromyalgia (FM) management must include dietary considerations, just ask ANY FM sufferer! Last month, we concentrated on the types of foods that reduce inflammation, but the question remains, what foods should we go out of our way to avoid? In other words, what should we NOT eat (and why)? Let’s take a look!

As we all know, it’s MUCH EASIER to simply grab a cookie, a chocolate bar, or go through the drive-through at McDonald’s and eat on the fly. This has become “the rule” for many of us as we trim down our meal times to fit in other tasks. We seem to have our priorities mixed up and have become preoccupied in our busy lives using the excuse that “…eating simply takes too long.”

The “avoid” list starts with stop eating junk food. It’s like pollution to our body as it clogs and clutters up our digestive system and the absorbed by-products include “bad” fat like trans-fats & saturated fats that can damage the heart. These fats are found in highly processed foods, red meats, and high-fat processed meats like bacon and sausage. Many of these meats are also high in salt, another “no-no” for heart health reasons, particularly for those with high blood pressure. Other sources of saturated fat include lamb, pork, lard, butter, cream, whole milk, and high-fat cheese. Some plant sources of saturated fat include coconut oil, cocoa butter, palm oil, and palm kernel oil. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 2005 Dietary Guidelines recommends that adults get 20-35% of their calories from fats. At a minimum, we need at least 10% of our calories from fat.

Other foods to avoid are white flour-based foods such as bread and pasta. This is primarily because white flour is derived from grains which are gluten rich (wheat, oats, barley, rye) and as we discussed last month, very inflammatory to our body! Simply avoiding gluten can be the nucleus of a great diet with benefits like increased energy, less mental fog, and weight loss without really trying! Sugar is also found in many products that we like eating. It’s found in juices, soda, pastries, candy, most desserts, as well as pre-sweetened cereals. Even ketchup has sugar in it! Another “bad guy” comes from the nightshade family of plants that includes tomatoes, eggplant, potatoes (but NOT sweet potatoes), sweet and hot peppers, ground cherries (a small orange fruit similar to a tomato), and Goji berries. These plants contain a chemical alkaloid called solanine that triggers pain in some people.

Weight reduction is another way to reduce pain and inflammation. If your Body Mass Index is over 25, (“Google” a BMI calculator and check yours) then you may need to lose weight! There are MANY diets one can follow, but to keep it simple embrace one approach first and see what kind of results you get. Try the “Paleo diet” as it is a gluten-free approach. The Mediterranean diet is similar and then there is the Aitkin’s Diet, the Zone Diet, etc., etc. Try eliminating the three most abused unhealthy foods in your diet (like soda, ice cream, chocolate, etc.) as that too can yield great results. Make sure your thyroid is working properly if you can’t lose weight with these approaches. Simply put, foods high in sugar, saturated fat, and white flour cause overactivity of our immune system which can lead to joint and muscle pain, fatigue, and damage to blood vessels.

Eliminating these foods and eating the foods discussed last month is good for all of us, not JUST those suffering from fibromyalgia!

If you, a friend or family member requires care for Fibromyalgia, we sincerely appreciate the trust and confidence shown by choosing our services!  Visit for more information.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: More “Fun Facts!” | Yankton Chiropractor | Brian Olson DC

Did you know that Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) can affect anyone? None of us are immune to developing CTS as roughly 1 out of 20 of us will develop CTS in our lifetime! This month, let’s look at some of the risk factors for developing CTS.   1)  Race: Caucasians carry the greatest risk of developing CTS.

2)  Gender: Women are three times more likely than men to develop CTS. This may be because female wrists are smaller and shaped a little differently than male wrists, but hormonal differences are probably the most important reason for this variance.

3)  Pregnancy: Up to 62% of pregnant women develop CTS. This is thought to be due to the excess fluid retention that normally occurs during pregnancy and most likely stems from the elevation in hormone levels that NORMALLY occurs during pregnancy. The prevalence in the first, second, and third trimesters is 11%, 26%, and 63%, respectively, thus supporting the fact that the risk increases with the length of the pregnancy. Though CTS usually resolves after giving birth, symptoms can continue for as long as three years following delivery!

4)  Birth Control Pill (BCP): The use of BCPs increases CTS risk due to an increase in hormonal levels similar to the CTS risk increase during pregnancy.

5)  Occupational: Workers in highly repetitive, hand-intensive occupations (such as line work, sewing, finishing, meat processing, poultry or fish packing) have a higher rate of developing CTS.

6)  Injury to the wrist or hand: An obvious example is a wrist fracture from a slip and fall, sports injury, or blunt trauma like a car accident. When there is a direct pinch on the median nerve, nerve damage can occur quite quickly, and as a result, the onset of symptoms can be very fast. Less obvious injuries, which usually have significantly slower onsets, include repetitive motion injuries, often referred to as “cumulative trauma disorders” and include a group of conditions such as tendonitis, sprain/strain, bursitis, and other types of soft tissue injuries.

7)  Certain conditions: Nerve damaging conditions that can cause CTS include diabetes and alcoholism. Other conditions that can contribute and/or cause CTS include menopause, obesity, thyroid disorders, kidney failure, and more.

8)  Inflammatory conditions: These include several types of arthritis such as rheumatoid, lupus, and others. Osteoarthritis is technically NOT an “inflammatory” condition but it can cause CTS by compressing the median nerve via a bone spur formed within the carpal tunnel.

9)  Faulty work stations: A job site has A LOT to do with whether or not a person develops CTS. Though jobs that require fast, repetitive movements pose the greatest risk (see #5 above), other work-related factors that may be controllable can also significantly contribute to the development of CTS. Some of these include the shape of tools such as screwdriver handles shaped like a gun (pistol) which allow for better alignment of the wrist than a “normal” straight screwdriver handle. Another is a power tool that may have too much vibration or torques too hard at the end of a cycle. A handle that is too cold/hard (e.g., metal handle) or that may be too large for the worker’s hand is an additional factor to consider. Positioning the work so that the wrists can stay straight vs. bent can be VERY helpful. In fact, if some of these “ergonomic” factors are not fixed, CTS can be next to impossible to remedy. Also, poor posture in the back, neck, and the rest of the body can result in compensatory faulty postures elsewhere. Look in a mirror and poke your chin out towards the mirror. Now look at your shoulders. See how they roll forward and feel the strain in your upper back and neck? Keep your chin tucked in, NOT out. This can make a BIG difference in your posture!

We realize you have a choice in whom you consider for your health care provision and we sincerely appreciate your trust in choosing our service for those needs.  If you, a friend, or family member requires care for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, we would be honored to render our services. Visit for more information.

Low Back “ON-THE-GO” Exercises (Part 2) | Yankton Chiropractor | Brian Olson DC

Low back pain (LBP) is a reality in most of our lives at one point or another. It can range from being a “nag” to being totally disabling. Let’s look at some exercises for the low back that can be done from a STANDING position so that they can be: 1) Performed in public (without drawing too much attention) and 2) Repeated every one to two hours with the objective to AVOID LBP from gradually getting out of control (STOP the “vicious cycle” so LBP stays “self-managed”).

RULES: 1) DON’T do any exercise that creates SHARP pain; 2) Stay within “reasonable” pain boundaries; 3) DO these multiple times a day WHEN you feel tight, stiff, sore (take 10-30 sec. every hour rather than 15 min. twice a day).


1)  STANDING HAMSTRING / GROIN STRETCH: 1) Place your heel on a chair/bench. 2) Arch your low back until you feel a “draw” or pull in the back of the leg. 3) Bend your ankle towards you – feel the pull in your calf). 4) If needed, bend forwards or bend the support leg knee for additional stretch. 5) Hold for 3-10 seconds or until it feels loose. 6) ROTATE your body to the opposite side until you feel the pull in your groin and hold 3-10 sec. 7) Switch legs!

2)  STANDING BACK EXTENSIONS: 1) Place the backs of your hands on your low back. 2) Slowly arch the lower back over your hands – stop if you feel pinch/sharp pain. 3) Release the pressure and re-apply multiple times. 4) Hold for 3-10 seconds or, until it feels loose. 5) REVERSE and bend over to touch your toes and hold until you feel loose.

3)  STANDING HIP FLEXOR STRETCH: 1) Stand straddled with one leg behind the other. 2) Rotate your back leg hip forwards (try to line up the left with the right so the pelvis is square). 3) Tuck in your pelvis (flatten the curve in the low back). 4) Bend backwards until the pull in the groin increases. 5) Hold for 3-10 seconds or, until it feels “loose.” 6) REPEAT on the opposite side.

Remember, DO these MANY times a day (at least once every hour). We have many others as well (ask us)!

We realize you have a choice in whom you consider for your health care provision and we sincerely appreciate your trust in choosing our service for those needs.  If you, a friend, or family member requires care for back pain, we would be honored to render our services.  Visit for more information.

Chiropractic and Sinus Headaches | Yankton Chiropractor | Brian Olson DC

Sinus headaches refer to pain in the head typically in and around the face. Most of us are knowledgeable about two of our four sinuses: the frontal (forehead) and maxillary (our “cheek bones”). The other two sinuses (called ethmoid and sphenoid) are much less understood. As chiropractors, many patients ask us about sinus problems, as all of us have had a stuffy nose due to a cold and have felt this pain in our face and head. Those of us who have suffered from sinus infections REALLY know how painful sinusitis can get! This month, let’s take a look at our sinuses and what we can do to self-manage the problem.

First, an anatomy lesson… As stated above, there are four paired, or sets, of sinuses in our head: Maxillary: Pain/pressure in the cheekbones, sometimes referring pain to the teeth. These drain sideways (if you lay on your side, the side “up” drains down into the downside maxillary sinus and into the nose). Frontal: Pain/pressure in the forehead. These drain downward (when we’re upright, looking straight ahead). Ethmoidal: Pain/pressure between and/or behind the eyes. These drain when we lean forwards. Sphenoidal: Cause pain/pressure behind the eyes, top of the head and/or back of the head (which can be extreme). These drain best when lying face pointing down towards the floor, but they can be stubborn to drain!

Sinusitis, or rhinosinusitis, by definition is an inflammation of the sinus lining (mucous membrane) and is classified as follows: Acute – a new infection which can last up to four weeks and are divided into two types: severe and non-severe; Recurrent acute – four or more separate acute episodes within one year; Subacute – an infection lasting 4-12 weeks; Chronic infections lasting >12 weeks; and Acute exacerbation of chronic sinusitis – recurring bouts of chronic sinusitis.

One cause of sinusitis can include an “URI” (upper respiratory tract infections) most often in the form of a virus (such as rhinovirus—there are over 99 types have been identified, or better known as “the common cold”). Bacteria can also cause a sinus infection. These infections tend to last longer and can follow a viral infection. A third cause is a fungal infection. These are more common in diabetic and other immune deficient patients. Chemical irritants such as cigarette smoke and chlorine fumes can also trigger sinusitis. Chronic sinusitis can be caused by anything that irritates the sinuses for >12 weeks (viruses, bacteria, environmental irritants, tooth infections, and more). Allergies are also a common cause of sinusitis whether they are environmental and/or food/chemical induced.

Chiropractic care for sinusitis includes primarily symptomatic care with sinus drainage techniques such as facial and cranial bone manipulation/mobilization, lymphatic pump and drainage techniques, instruction in self-stretch of the sinuses (such as an outward pull of the cheek bones in different positions of the head), nutritional counseling (such as 1000mg of vitamin C every 2-4 hours) and anti-inflammatory herbs and vitamins (see prior Health Updates), cervical and mid-back manipulation, training in nasal saline rinsing (Nasaline, Nettie Pot), moist heat (towels, steam), and of course, chicken soup! Co-management with your primary care doc may be needed at times, if medications are warranted.   We realize you have a choice in whom you consider for your health care provision and we sincerely appreciate your trust in choosing our service for those needs.  If you, a friend, or family member requires care for headaches, we would be honored to render our services.  Visit for more information.