This past year, perhaps more than ever, we find ourselves thinking a lot about health. It is nearly impossible to get through a day without the media reporting on the grim health statistics of our fellow Canadians or without being asked about our own health status if and when we venture out in public.
If health is so important, why is it so misunderstood?
Society has a problem because many people don’t really understand what it means to be healthy versus sick. When we hear news reports of ‘healthy’ people succumbing to Covid 19, we wonder if we too might become sick from this virus or whether the reports are exaggerated. The response of our society to this pandemic is not the subject of this blog, however, it offers an opportunity for us to explore the difference between being sick and being healthy.
Healthy – Heal thy self
Consider this for a moment: is someone with a fever healthy? Is someone who is nauseous healthy? Our media inundates us with commercials on how to reduce fever and gives the impression that fevers should be avoided, but I was taught during my undergrad that the increased body temperature that occurs with exercise - a febrile (fever) response - is one thing that keeps people who exercise protected against germs. Because germs like viruses and bacteria are temperature sensitive, a natural fever’s increase in temperature helps your body’s immune system fight the invaders. Between 2-5% of children below 5 years old will experience seizures from fever (1) which is understandably scary for parents if it was to happen to their child. Advertising for fever-reducing medication has preyed on this fear, and a false narrative about fever has caused much of our society to incorrectly view all fever as bad. While sometimes fever is bad, most often it is a healthy response that helps your body manage an invader, and suppressing it is actually unhealthy.
As for nausea, if you eat some bad food, wouldn’t suppressing the associated nausea actually be the wrong response? Not according to many medication advertisements. We need to understand that in this case you are not feeling nauseous because you are ‘sick’, you are feeling it as a healthy response to an unhealthy situation. Your body wants to naturally rid itself of a bad substance, which if left inside, could make you actually really sick!
In essence, there are many events related to our health and wellness that our body needs to respond to daily. Consider this story for a moment. The other day, a fellow health care practitioner was describing someone close to them that was recently hospitalized from a major blood vessel in their stomach rupturing (dissection of an aneurysm in the abdominal aorta). This condition is typically related to Atherosclerosis, and during chiropractic training we were taught how to examine for this possibility. As NUCCA practitioners, we see more than our fair share of patients with connective disorders such as Ehlers Danlos which can make a person more susceptible to aneurysms. Abdominal aortic aneurysms are often discovered in patients during routine physical examinations before they rupture, but for this young 40-year-old, their aneurysm was not discovered until they experienced the severe pain in the abdomen that is typical of a dissection. The question is, was this person healthy before the dissection, or not?
Health is similar to the value of a piece of art; it is something that is measured in the moment of transaction. What you pay for art is its value at that particular moment in time. When your body responds to a health challenge successfully, by use of fever or nausea-induced vomiting for instance, you can be called healthy because you had a successful response at that particular moment in time. You see, as my daughter pointed out to me many years ago, healthy is a compound word – heal + thy. If you can heal yourself, you are healthy. If not, you aren’t – period. It is something that occurs in an event. Who you are (genetically), and what you have done before that event (eat well, exercise), is the crucial “training” that will go into whether or not you pass that test.
In the earlier example, the 40-year-old was healthy and adapting well to his aortic aneurysm… until he wasn’t. With the assistance of doctors, he was able to recover from this pathology and the necessary surgery. Fortunately, he was healthy enough to be helped by modern medicine.
Optimize your health response – optimize your posture!
Just like you might have more patience with one person and not with another, you may be able to have a healthy adaptation to one event and not another. The essence is that healthy people never die; the very act of dying means that you could not heal yourself, and therefore you are no longer healthy. There are things that are harder, or nearly impossible, to adapt to for most people, and as intelligent humans we have invented things to help lessen the need to adapt. Things like parachutes and airbags increase the chance of our healthy adaptation (also called survival) to events such as jumping from a plane or involvement in a motor vehicle collision.
In our practice, we contribute significantly to our patients’ health. Quite simply, if your posture is asymmetrical in gravity, you will require more effort to maintain your position and therefore have less energy available for healing or adapting. Getting a check-up from your neck up helps to optimize your relationship with gravity and maximize your body’s ability to have a healthy response, should a situation arise. As a friend and colleague of mine often says, spinal health is the difference between an 80-year-old that can still be out on the golf course versus one that is housebound. Making sure your relationship with gravity is appropriate makes your body a better place to live over the long term. Proactive spinal hygiene helps you adapt to all sorts of health challenges, both big and small. Consider us your seatbelt!
Healing is helped by having a doctor that understands health
If you are suffering from a neck injury, you may begin to experience severe dizziness, headaches, and neck pain. Although neck pain specialists don’t exist in Canada yet, there are people who have different amounts of knowledge regarding diagnosing and helping people with neck problems.
At the Vital Posture™ Clinic, we focus on imbalances in the neck that, if left untreated, can result in neck pain and neck discomfort. Our focus is the neck; our intervention starts with NUCCA procedures and is augmented by our extensive post-graduate training in Advanced Imaging, Chiropractic Craniocervical Junction Procedures (www.icauppercervical.com), and Pain Management.
Trust us with your difficult neck injury
When you have a complicated neck issue that isn’t responding to conservative care, leave it to us to help gather a team that will allow you to find relief from your neck injury and recover.
Dr. Jeff Scholten
The Vital Posture™ Clinic