Tag Archives: chiropractic

Our new table is here!

Chiropractic table | Low back pain treatment in BeavertonIntroducing our new Flexion-Distraction table from Hilllabs.com! Our chiropractor, Dr. Thompson, will be using this table for all of the usual treatments and adjustments he does in his routine chiropractic visits, but he will now have the ability to provide flexion-distraction therapy to patients with certain conditions.

Flexion-distraction is a method of adjusting the spine by gently stretching the lower back or neck as the table flexes. This movement creates space between specific vertebrae in the back or neck, which can reduce pressure on any pinched nerves, decrease the size of disc herniations, lessen the effects of stenosis (a narrowing of the space around the spinal cord and/or nerve roots), and forces vital nutrients into injured disc tissue to facilitate healing.

Conditions that can benefit from flexion-distraction treatment can range from neck and radiating arm pain to sciatica, stenosis, herniated discs, failed back surgery, and even the everyday mechanical back and neck pain that almost everybody has had at some point in their life.

Many people consider chiropractors to just be “back crackers.” Flexion-distraction therapy is just one of the many tools in our tool belt in addition to traditional manual adjustments (the twisting and “popping” that most people think of). A typical treatment plan at Catalyst will include education about your condition and what to do/what not to do to aid in recovery; adjustments to joints that aren’t moving well or are misaligned; soft tissue massage to relax tight muscles; and therapeutic exercises and stretches to stabilize affected area and make you more resilient to re-injury. Research is showing us that this type of multi-modal approach achieves superior results when compared to treatment involving just adjustments. Take spinal stenosis, for example. This is a condition that is commonly treated in chiropractic offices. In one study posted previously on the blog, stenosis symptoms responded better to flexion distraction therapy combined with an exercise program compared to flexion distraction alone. In another study, flexion distraction combined with typical therapeutic modalities (heat, e-stim, ultrasound), achieved larger reductions in pain and disability than the therapies alone. Studies like these are important because they show that there is not one silver bullet that works better than all other treatments, but it is usually a combination of treatments that achieves the greatest effect.

At Catalyst Chiropractic and Rehabilitation, your treatment is guided by the best available evidence combined with our chiropractor’s clinical experience in order to deliver you the most effective solution for your individual condition. Contact us today to get started on your comprehensive path to recovery.

Is there a movement professional in the house?!

Caution sign | Consult your chiropractor

We’ve all seen the disclaimer on the exercise videos or the newest home gym that more or less reads: “Consult your healthcare provider before beginning this or any other kind of workout…” It’s your run-of-the-mill liability disclaimer and is usually suggesting that there is risk involved in physical activity and you should be checked for any medical indication that you shouldn’t be participating in this activity. Does anyone really ever consult their doctor before beginning a workout plan? Ok, I’m sure some do. If you did, you would surely be checked for any cardiovascular complications that could limit your activity and the doctor might perform a brief physical exam to check for range of motion and any pain in the extremities. Barring anything too serious, you’d be given a clean bill of health to begin your high intensity home exercise videos, your Bun-master, a Zumba class, etc.
Let’s say you get your clean bill of health, begin your workout, and somewhere along the way develop back pain, or shoulder pain. Did your doctor’s exam give you any indication that this might happen? Probably not, and here’s why. Your general medicine doc or internist are experts at the physical exam – as taught at medical school. You can trust them to pick up on potential cardiovascular issues, but if you are going from sedentary to exercising at a moderate intensity, you will be moving your body in ways it hasn’t moved in a long time. Your body doesn’t move like it used to, and as a result of a sedentary lifestyle, previous injuries, deconditioning, excess weight, poor posture, etc, your body has learned to compensate in order to get through your daily routine. When you go to the gym or do your home workout with your limited range of motion, poor movement patterns and compensations, your body will do what it takes to get the job done, but it might be at the cost of safety of the muscles and joints that are asked to do the job.
Here’s an example of what I’m trying to explain. Let’s say you go to a group exercise class and the instructor has you put a bar on your back and start squatting. The squat is a very good exercise and an important movement to master. It is something toddlers are great at, yet as we get older and more sedentary we lose the ability to squat safely and efficiently. If your glutes aren’t firing well, your knees will cave in. If your hips are stiff, or hamstrings tight, your low back will bend when your hips hit their limit. If your ankles are stiff, your heels will come off the floor or you’ll turn your feet out. These are all compensations, and possible ways to develop knee pain or low back pain while squatting. The devil is in the details, and these are details that might not be caught by your general practitioner.
 For that reason I believe that the medical disclaimers that come with workout equipment and exercise routines should encourage you to consult with a movement specialist as well. What is a movement specialist, you ask? A number of people can serve as a movement specialist to identify your inefficiencies and injury potential: Chiropractors (of course!), physical therapists, and personal trainers. These are all professionals who have been trained to spot poor movement patterns and prescribe exercises and stretches to improve how you move and help prevent injury as you begin your exercise plan. If you have questions about what kind of exercises you should or should not be doing and want to learn more about how to move better and safer, contact us at (503) 526-8782. Dr. Thompson has undergone post-graduate training in movement assessment and corrective exercise prescription and would be glad to help you on your way to a healthier you!

Why sneezes cause back pain

I remember several years ago I was watching Sports Center and the anchor reported that Sammy Sosa was not going to play that day due to back pain caused by a sneeze. It was reported in a way that made light of the subject, and I even got a good chuckle out of it. You may have laughed as well if this had never happened to you, but whether they make the headlines or not, sneezes often result in back or neck pain. As a chiropractor, I see this frequently and my patients are often embarrassed when they tell me how it happened. I believe sneezing is risky for two reasons:

1. When you sneeze you often turn your head in order to aim it away from people near you and to cover it with your arm or hand. Sneezing causes a very violent contraction of the diaphragm and many of the muscles that support the neck and spine. When creating such a violent contraction with your neck twisted, it is easy to see how a muscle could be pulled or even a joint in the spine sprained as the tissues are put under such intense stress.

2. Sneezing causes a rapid rise in intra-abdominal pressure. The pressure builds as all the air taken in during the “ahh” part of the sneeze gets restricted momentarily before the “choo” part. Raising intra-abdominal pressure also causes an increase in intra-thecal pressure, or the pressure inside the spinal canal, as well as the pressure inside the intervertebral discs, the soft cushions between each of your vertebrae. A sudden spike in pressure in these areas can cause a disc injury and/or a pinched nerve sensation in the back or neck.

One way to avoid injury when sneezing is to reduce the stress on your spine by slightly extending your neck and your lower back. As I discuss in the video below, we tend to bend forward when we cough or sneeze. Bending forward can place more pressure on the spine even when not sneezing, so it is best to avoid that position then next time you feel a tickle in your nose. See the video for more details. Until next time, take care and sneeze safely 🙂

-Dr. Thompson


Quick posture fixes

As a chiropractor in Beaverton, Oregon, I see patients all day long with sedentary desk jobs. Without exception, all of them would agree that their posture has something to do with their back pain. I am very sensitive to negative self talk and try to encourage my patients that it isn’t all their fault and there is something they can do about it.

Contrary to popular belief, having good posture isn’t just about sitting up straight all day long. In fact according to Pr. Stuart McGill, a leading spine researcher, even sitting in an upright position that we would consider a “good posture” can be taxing on the spine if it is done for prolonged periods of time (see “Ultimate Back Fitness and Performance”) . His suggestion is to vary your posture throughout the day so that different muscles and spinal joints are stressed at different times to more evenly distribute the cumulative stress that prolonged sitting (or standing) places on your back.

Various seated postures both good and bad
Any of these postures are acceptable, as long as they are not sustained for too long, although the one on the right is not advisable.
(Photo source and license info)

Another strategy to decrease stress on the spine is to increase your back’s capacity to bear the burden of repetitive stress. A sedentary lifestyle and prolonged stationary postures will sap the strength of the muscles in your back and abdomen (your “core”), effectively leaving your spine with no support other than tissues called ligaments to keep it from buckling. If ligaments have to support the spine for too long, they will become stretched out and then they can be both a source of pain themselves or leave your back unstable and susceptible to injury. For a quick, easy way to break the monotony of sitting all day, try using the follow stretch intermittently throughout the day. This is called Brugger’s relief posture and can be done at any type of workstation. I also included a simple strengthening exercise to help you start to increase your capacity to deal with repetitive postural stress.



For additional core exercises, I would suggest starting with McGill’s “Big 3” exercises for core strength and low back stability, seen in the following video (plus an extra one called “Stir the Pot”). These exercises are simple, don’t take much time, and will give you a great bang for your back…I mean buck.



Is your chiropractic care “patient-centered?”

Doctor greating patient

There is no question that healthcare is changing. For better or worse, the way in which your medical treatment is overseen and delivered is getting an overhaul. One of the concepts that is being used as a guide throughout this process is called “patient-centered care.” One definition of this type of care is given by the Institute of Medicine: “Providing care that is respectful of and responsive to individual patient preferences, needs, and values, and ensuring that patient values guide all clinical decisions (Institute of Medicine. Crossing the Quality Chasm: A New Health System for the 21st Century.

I’ve been pondering this concept of patient-centered healthcare lately and reflecting on how we treat our patients at Catalyst. What I have found helpful to gain insight into how my clinic can be more patient-centered is to listen to what my patients have told me about their past experiences with chiropractors. In my time as a chiropractic physician I have heard things from my patients that concern me. From what I have gathered from their experiences, here is a list of questions to ask yourself about whether you are getting patient-centered chiropractic care or not:

  1. Does your doctor spend more time listening or talking?
  2. Does your doctor consider your “preferences, needs, and values” in decisions about your care?
  3. Does your doctor spend enough time with you?
  4. Are you given different options for your treatment?
  5. Do you ever feel like you’re in more of a sales presentation than a health consultation?
  6. Are you asked to pay a large sum of money up front for multiple treatments, like you’re purchasing a tanning package?Does the phrase “easy financing options” come up during your consultation?

By no means is this list all-inclusive, nor do I claim that our clinic is perfectly patient-centered (we do close early on Fridays, afterall), but consumers these days need to be smart and know that they have rights. If you don’t feel right about your care, ask yourself if you feel that your doctor is considering your “preferences, needs, and values.” If not, it’s time to have a frank conversation with them to hold them accountable for honoring your needs.

Like I said above, I don’t claim to run a perfectly altruistic, patient-centered practice, but there are some things I can promise you should you choose to become a patient at Catalyst Chiropractic and Rehabilitation:

  1. You will receive ample one on one time with Dr. Thompson
  2. You will not receive any high pressure sales pitches
  3. You will not be asked to pay large sums of money up front
  4. Your needs and values WILL be considered in your care!

Yours in health,

Dr. Thompson

Photo credit: Photographer – Zsolt Nyulaszi. Copyright © Zsolt Nyulaszi. All rights reserved.