The last two decades have shown such a tremendous growth in the rate of spinal surgeries that even spinal surgeons have called for a reevaluation of the criteria for these ultimate interventions. You may have also heard in the news that the number of people on disability in America is unreasonably high at nearly 50,000,000.
I referred to surgery as an “ultimate” because surgery should always be a last resort, never a first resort. You might be shocked at the number of times I find out that patients were referred to surgeons without first being referred to in a conservative option to see if the problem can be resolved nonsurgically. The “surgery first” approach is a violation of the standard of care, if not a violation of the patients themselves.
I have just returned from my annual trip to Washington, DC to talk with legislators about healthcare issues. Specifically, we petitioned Congress about our veterans and their need for care in the Veterans Administration medical centers. Most of the injuries in our veterans returning from Iraq or Afghanistan are musculoskeletal, related to carrying 60 pounds of gear. Congress mandated chiropractic care in the veterans administration 12 years ago, but the VA has been an unresponsive bureaucracy thwarting the will of Congress.
The other major issue that we addressed is called the “sustainable growth rate” for Medicare. Essentially, unless Congress takes action, Medicare reimbursement will drop 27%. Congress likes to kick cans down the road instead of enacting permanent repairs for situations like this. If these drastic cuts happen, if you are on Medicare and do not already have a physician, chances are you will not get one because physicians will not be able to afford to take Medicare at all and stay in business.
The new year is here, and with it comes a new set of concerns. Many of us have lost our health care benefits as a result of Obamacare. Millions more will lose health benefits this year as the hidden realities of this atrocious law unfolds. Even as it happens, doctors and hospitals announce that they will not participate in Obamacare policies, confirming the falsehood of “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.” Medicare patients are not exempt, as that program was ravaged to pay for Obamacare. There are so many worries and concerns!
If you attempt to enroll in an Obamacare policy on the ill-fated website, you risk identity theft with significant exposure to hackers. If you attempt to enroll on paper, you must deal with known criminals (SERCO) who have defrauded the British government for the same services. If you decide that you don’t want any part of this nightmare, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will come after you with a fine, or a tax, depending on the political persuasion of the observer. Of course, if you protest the actions of the IRS, you may be targeted with an audit.
February is HEART Month. Maybe that is because Valentine's Day is in the middle of it, but the American Heart Association wants to remind you that heart disease is still the number one killer and consumer of nearly $313 billion per year. I always knew that affairs of the heart can be dangerous and expensive.
Let's review a few things that you need to do to take care of yourself. Prevention is more efficient and less expensive than treatment.
First, eat sensibly. Research and experience both support eating six small servings per day as a way of maintaining your metabolism and controlling your weight. Avoid excess salt and watch her cholesterol intake. Fiber will help in a number of ways, including elimination of excess cholesterol.
Christmas is almost here. In fact, retail stores began the season by displaying Christmas products before Halloween, to the dismay of many. It is coming fast, and with it comes stress in physical, social, spiritual, relational, and psychological forms. How can we cope with all of this? How can we stay fully functional and get all the shopping done?
Consider treating your shopping like an athletic event. In fact, as you contend with crowds, it may become just that, but I digress. When preparing for a 5K run, for example, there are things you would do. For example, stay hydrated. Increase your water intake. It will keep you from overeating and help combat the diuretic effects of caffeine, soft drinks, alcohol, and salty foods. You’ll feel better.
Remember that when you are stressed, your muscles may be tight and relatively inflexible. You are more prone to injury, especially when tired, so pace yourself. Be more careful than usual about what you lift and how. If you hurt something, call me.
Conquering the Cough
Robert Hayden, DC, PhD, FICC
Question: A recent upper respiratory illness has left me with a residual cough. I have not had any fever for the last two weeks, but the cough really bothers me. It makes me sound sick and keeps me awake at night as well. What can I do to make sure this does not progress to pneumonia?
Coughing is a lifesaving reflex in which the body is trying to cleanse its airway. It is associated with everything from upper respiratory infections and postnasal drip to bronchitis. At this time of the year, especially with the wild fluctuations in Griffin’s temperature, we can be concerned about any respiratory illness, especially among the elderly or those whose immune systems may be compromised by other conditions.