‘Back’ in the Game: How Chiropractic Care Can Help Millennials Be at Their Best

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By: Melissa Schenkman, MPH, MSJ

When Janelle Buday started cosmetology school, she never would have thought that coloring, cutting, and styling clients’ hair would affect her lower back. Like most millennials, Buday’s focus was on everything else but her own aches and pains. Plus, the more she got into the beauty industry, the more she focused on providing cutting-edge techniques—leading to 10-12 hour days on her feet.

Buday did her research. Her first stop was an orthopedic surgeon, who offered her epidural steroid injections (medication injected directly into the spine to reduce inflammation and relieve pain).

Janelle Buday snaps a selfie of her own hair style in between seeing clients at the salon. The 24-year-old stylist’s long hours on her feet led to a herniated disk.

But when the now 24 year old was in so much pain that she could barely walk, she had to stop and take notice.

While Buday was busy building her career as a stylist, she put her health on the sidelines. Now, like many fellow millennials, she also was looking to get back into the game and on a path to better health. That’s when her thoughts turned to chiropractic care.

“There’s a time and a place for orthopedics and chiropractic,” says Jonathan Ozner, DC. “I refer practice members to an orthopedic when they need more interventions.”

Ozner, who is Buday’s chiropractor, has been working with her to help not only alleviate her pain but also achieve overall wellness.

“We chiropractors are very different from medical doctors. We aren’t treating conditions. All we are doing is taking pressure off the nervous system, allowing the body to reach a balance and heal itself, Ozner says.

For Buday, the idea of a practitioner who would be more willing to go into detail about her back without forcing her to take pain medication that could lead to dependency or weight gain, made chiropractic care a perfect fit.

According to the American Chiropractic Association, in the United States back pain accounts for 264 million lost workdays in one year.

Ozner’s scan of Buday’s entire spine showed why it was so painful for her to walk. The culprit: a herniated disk. It can happen even when you’re young and a millennial.

Spinal disk
The structure of the thoracic spine. Bones and joints.  Source: Institute for Quality and Efficiency, Cologne, Germany.

It’s when the spinal disk, a gel-like cushion that sits between the bones of the spinal column called vertebrae, pushes out of place through a tear in the tough exterior tissue that surrounds our spinal cord. The out-of-place disk presses on the surrounding nerves that travel to different parts of the body. The pressure on nerves can lead to arm or leg pain as in Buday’s case, numbness or tingling, and muscle weakness.

“Just within the first month or two of going for chiropractic care, I could see a huge difference in my mobility and the way I stand,” Buday says.

All in the Spine

Our spine is our body’s anchor. It’s made up of 33 vertebrae that connect all the different parts of our skeleton to each other such as our chest, shoulders, arms and legs. It also carries the weight of our head, torso and arms. A super highway of nerves that make up our nervous system run along the inside tunnel of the entire spinal cord which extends from our brainstem at the base of our heads all the way down to the top of our buttocks. These nerves send messages from our brain to other parts of our skeletons to help us move and feel sensations.

Spinal Cord
The spinal cord’s structure including the nerves that run through it (left). The different areas of the spinal cord (right). Source: Institute for Quality and Efficiency, Cologne, Germany.

Misalignments happen from putting physical stress on the body and it comes in many forms.

A person can have pressure and trauma to their brainstem at birth leading to misalignments. Physical stress and misalignments can also develop from repetitive movements, as in Buday’s case at work, or in others who are athletes. They can even develop from someone who has a sedentary lifestyle, a stressful job, and eats poorly. Repetitive stress on the body causes the body to break down.

That’s where chiropractic care—prevention and treatment—comes in to shift the vertebrae back into alignment.

“We find out where the pressure is in your spinal cord and take that pressure off the nervous system, allowing the body to heal itself,” says Ozner, who himself is a millennial.“

He calls it the rubber band theory. “When you put a rubber band on your finger, what happens? All the blood flows to the constricted area and your finger turns purple. If you remove the rubber band the body knows what to do, and the blood returns to where it belongs,” Ozner says.

Just like the pressure of a rubber band on your finger, when your vertebrae become misaligned, the decreased space between them causes pressure on the nerves running through and underneath the bones causing other parts of your body to be in pain, weak, or simply not to function as they should.

That’s why prevention and treatment of misalignments are so important.

“Chiropractic is so far beyond head, neck, and back pain. That pain is a manifestation of something much greater going on inside,” Ozner says. “When you have a vertebral subluxation, a misalignment, vertebrae that are out of touch will affect you long before you feel pain.”

Buday is no exception. Long before the herniated disk in her lower back, she experienced dizziness and headaches.

“At one of her appointments, she asked, ‘Can you fix my dizziness?’ I said, you can cure your dizziness,” Ozner says.

The scan of Buday’s upper cervical region of her spine, the neck area, showed that she had major subluxations or misalignments. Since Ozner started realigning the cervical vertebrae at Buday’s visits, she’s noticed that she doesn’t get dizzy or have migraine headaches as often.

A Chiropractic Commitment

By taking the time to visit a chiropractor and staying consistent with home care exercises, Buday has been blown away by the difference in how she feels. She’s also learned a lot about the way her body works and how to keep it functioning at its best.

“I know that if I keep my head and chin level, stretch in the mornings, and focus on my core and posture as I work on clients, it really helps me and my day,” Buday says.

She’s achieved the greater overall wellness she was searching for as she has a lot more energy throughout the day, which definitely helps with her long hours.

“When you invest in your physical health, you get 10 times more out of it than what you put into it,” Buday says.

She implores millennials to give chiropractic care a try for treatment and for having wellness for years to come.

And, if the amount of time you will have to spend going to chiropractic visits is what’s stopping you from giving it a try, don’t let it. After the initial visit with scans and x-rays, follow-up visits for adjustments can take just 10 minutes out of your day.

“A lot of us millennials are so driven and goal oriented. We are working hard to pay the bills but without our health we can’t do that,” Buday says. “When you feel better and function better you will automatically set yourself in the right direction to feel motivated to get more things done.”

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