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K.L. McDermott, D.C. ,M.S.

(410) 257- 7106 141 Main Street , Suite G2 Prince Frederick, MD 20678

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Your Health Magazine 

Southern Maryland Edition!

Headaches and Chiropractic Adjustments

August 2007


    When the general public considers treatments for headaches, the most obvious treatment is over-the-counter pain medication or prescriptions. Chiropractic is commonly overlooked, despite the fact that it is a very effective treatment with no side effects. A headache is one of my most preferred conditions to treat. Patients will often feel relief within a week; and if the episodes of headache continue, they are less intense and fewer in number. In many cases, patients no longer need medication.

What is actually hurting in the head?

    The link between chiropractic care and resolving headaches is understood anatomically. When considering the structures in the head that can actually ache or sense pain, it becomes apparent that manual manipulation can correct the offending biomechanical dysfunction. Pain sensing structures of the head are bone, sinuses and vasculature, to name a few. The cranium and all bones that create the skull are highly innervated and thus, very sensitive to pain. These bones can become the source of irritation when any of the attached muscles are imbalanced and go into spasm as a result of poor posture and repetitive use.
    The sinuses are cavities within the bone. A sinus infection causes pressure that is sensed within the bone. Blood vessels are also sensitive to pain. When there are fluctuations in blood pressure, vessel walls are sensitive to that change and become irritated. Also, other biomechanical stressors such as abnormalities in muscles and skeletal alignment can affect blood vessels.
    Referred pain is a common cause of headache. Through interconnections of nerves throughout different structures in the head and neck, the pain often manifests as a headache. Common referral patterns originate from structures such as temporomandibular joint dysfunction, improper motion of the cervical spine or neck, and muscles of the head and neck.
How chiropractic corrects the cause.
    So how does a chiropractic adjustment affect these structures and alleviate the headache? With regards to the skull and cervical spine, it is important to understand the biomechanics of the offending structures. A chiropractic adjustment restores normal function to any joint (e.g. TMJ or cervical spine), and relaxes the muscles surrounding the joint. Also, for sinus relief, there is a technique involving pressure to the sinuses that will initiate drainage and relieve the pain. Blood pressure can be treated nutritionally as well as medicinally.

A positive response with various types of headaches.

    No matter the type of headache, chiropractic is a safe, non-invasive and non-pharmaceutical treatment from which many sufferers find relief. Additionally, migraine sufferers have been shown to enjoy reduction in headaches from chiropractic care.



Chiropractic Adjustments

November 2008


        Do you have burning and tingling in your hands and feet? Does pain in your shoulders and hips cause you to alter activities of your daily routine? Are you often accidentally dropping objects or having difficulty lifting even an article of clothing due to elbow pain or tendonitis? These are common extremity complaints among my patients.
    Chiropractic adjustments release restrictions affecting joints, allowing relaxation of attached muscles and increased blood flow to the area. The result is decreased pain and often a decrease in edema or swelling.
    If the cause of numbness and tingling in the hands and feet is determined to be musculoskeletal in origin and not the result of metabolic disease, such as diabetes, the condition responds well to conservative treatment. Pathology/dysfunction in the neck can result in altered sensation in the hands or shoulder. Myofascial release (stretching) or chiropractic manipulation to the cervical spine, shoulder or elbow is a very effective treatment when symptoms result from an irritated nerve root or a peripheral nerve entrapment.
    Swelling and tingling in the hands result from overuse injury resulting in chronically tight muscles of the forearms, which, in turn, results in restriction of the wrists, stagnant circulation and swelling. Chiropractic adjustments to the elbows and carpals, as well as soft tissue techniques for relaxing and softening muscles of the forearms, will ease these symptoms quite successfully.
    Tiny carpal bones in the feet that bear the entire body weight can become fixated, developing pain and abnormal sensations, including severe pain. Burning and aching in the feet respond quickly to a chiropractic adjustment.
    Shoulder integrity is dependent on a delicate balance of muscular attachments to the neck, trunk and upper arm. When there is an imbalance within this muscular complex, dysfunction and pain occur. It is, however, an easy joint to access and treat. Overuse injuries are common in the shoulder and also respond well to chiropractic and myofascial release.
    Hip pain is a term often used to describe low back and sacroiliac pain. There are three key muscles around the hip, often associated with this type of pain. The piriformis is located in the buttock, and when in spasm, can irritate the sciatic nerve, causing radiating pain into the legs. The psoas runs directly in front of the hip joint and in addition to hip pain, is also implicated in groin and low back pain. TFL is a muscle on the side of the hip joint that is often chronically short, causing extremely painful muscular imbalance complexes in the hip.
    If the adjustments and myofascial release are not completely effective, the Graston Technique is a slightly more aggressive but very effective treatment for rotator cuff injuries of the shoulder and for hip pain around the piriformis muscle.
    As you can see, there are many chiropractic remedies for debilitating pain and stiffness in various areas of the body. Improvements from chiropractic treatment are often immediate. Also, chronic disability and pain can often be avoided by regular occasional maintenance visits.



Take This Dance Into Your Eighties

November 2008


      Ever wonder why 80-year-old Grandpa Joe was able to waltz at your cousin’s wedding while 80-year-old Grandpa Jack needed help getting up the stairs? The answer to that question often involves two similar life styles with two very different approaches to health care; deciding whether it needs immediate attention, or whether it is broken enough to be fixed. A few minor changes in attention to health care would have allowed Jack greater independence into the later years of his life.
    Though healthy living makes the doctor’s job easier, it is especially important for someone who is not health conscious to have chiropractic care and guidance. Chiropractic care offers the support and treatment for maintenance and restoration of function. It is appropriate for individuals on the full spectrum of health from disease prevention to advanced degenerative disease.
    Do you feel your condition cannot be helped?  Do you feel that you have tried it all?
    Let 2006 be the year that you embrace healthy habits. Your body\'s signals of stiffness and pain are telling you something is wrong. Are you listening? Back pain is one of the most disabling conditions that will usually worsen over the years when left untreated.
    There are many causes for back pain. Causes range from an injury to metabolic disorders. It is necessary to have a physician such as a D.C. or M.D. trained in differential diagnosis to determine the difference. Some of the causes can be:
      • repetitive stressors
      • motor vehicle accidents 
      • congenital defects
      • household accidents
      • pregnancy
      • poor posture
      • referred pain of organic origin
    When the body endures even a small injury, there will be a reaction of pain, a muscle spasm and/or a change in joint position. In response, the body assumes a protective, antalgic position to avoid pain. This abnormal position strains muscles and puts additional pressure on the skeletal system. Without correction, this strained position leads to shortened muscles and osteoarthritis. This is a process that with time becomes progressively less reversible. The more time that elapses between injury and correction and the more damaging the initial injury, the lengthier the time of recovery will be.
    There are many means for correcting dysfunctional posture:
      • chiropractic adjustment
      • stretching shortened muscles
      • strengthening weakened muscles
    Nutritional management is important in allowing faster healing of inflamed tissues and managing pain. Instead of pain medications that may have adverse effects on the delicate balance of chemical processes in the body, there are many herbal and nutritional alternatives that are often safer for the gastrointestinal tract.
    Chiropractic is a conservative, safe and effective treatment for the following individuals: 
      • sufferers of arthritis/elderly
      • disabled patients
      • sufferers of diabetic neuropathy
      • pregnant women 
      • children
    Chiropractic has been found to have a better outcome than medical care and other therapeutics. It is more effective in long-term care of low back pain. It can slow the progression and sometimes arrest of arthritic consequences such as degenerative joint disease and arthritis.



Vertigo: A Chiropractic Perspective

January 2009


 Episodes of vertigo and/or dizzy spells occur at some point in most people’s lives. Although both result in a sensation of unsteadiness, each is experienced differently. Patients suffering from dizziness often say, “My head is spinning,” whereas a patient suffering from vertigo says, “Everything is spinning around me.” Dizziness is debilitating in that it disrupts our sense of consciousness; we feel confusion or distraction. Vertigo can often be even more debilitating because it affects our bodily sense of balance and position in space.
    Vertigo impedes a multitude of everyday tasks which require movement or quick thinking; such things as childcare, reading, and driving become extremely difficult or impossible. At this point, swift relief becomes an immediate concern and medical advice is sought. After your chiropractor rules out metabolic and neurological causes or changes in medication, chiropractic can be a safe, effective drug-free treatment. It is often the successful treatment following several unsatisfactory attempts with medications.
    Balance is predominantly maintained by three processes in the body: (1) coordination of the eyes and visual cortex of the brain (2) the vestibular function of the inner ear and (3) nerve endings in joints, muscles and tendons signaling information to the brain about orientation in space. This integration of information becomes increasingly necessary when the vestibular system is disrupted.  If there is dysfunction or restriction of the cervical spine and/or muscle spasm, vertigo may be the result.  
     There are a couple of biomechanical features of the inner ear that can contribute to vertigo. The Eustachian tube equalizes inner ear pressure as it opens when we swallow or yawn. The inflammation and swelling of a sore throat or ear infection can obstruct opening of the tube, resulting in vertigo. In the anatomy of the head and neck, there are muscles deep in the neck that share attachments and lie parallel to the Eustachian tube as well as have attachments to the ear drum. An upper cervical (neck) adjustment can open the tube and relax these muscles, thus allowing the inner ear pressure to equalize and restore a sense of balance.
    Nerve endings in the joints, muscles and tendons which are specialized for sensing vibration, temperature, movement, muscle tone, etc. are damaged in injuries such as whiplash or repetitive trauma.  These nerve endings are important for quick reflexes.  Signals from these nerve endings orient us to our corresponding body parts in space. For instance, if you raise your hand over your head, it is not necessary that you see it there or feel it with your other hand. Your hand has proprioception; that is, you know where it is without looking at it or touching it. A reduction of proprioception increases the incidence of falls and accidents. Most chiropractic treatment plans incorporate proprioceptive exercises which stimulate the muscles’ reflexive response, thus decreasing the likelihood of debilitating accidents.
    As this discussion illustrates, a short visit for chiropractic treatment can often prevent a tailspin of complications, disability and suffering resulting from episodes of dizziness or vertigo.

Has Pain Driven You To Distraction?

August 2009


   As a mother with a full time career I can fully relate to non-compliance with my ideals. Traditionally, women have been the foundation of the American family and home. Adding the responsibility of being a source of income has not decreased a woman’s responsibilities woman’s at home.
   Relieving pain improves cognitive function. In chiropractic care, the majority of patients present with some type of pain. An important benefit of treatment is the improvement of mental acuity, as pain levels recede.
 In a chiropractic office, the typical symptom that patients persistently present is musculoskeletal in origin. However, many factors that delay healing are not directly related to the incident that initiated the condition. Life stressors, repetitive improper postural habits, chemical imbalances (ie. Thyroid, gastrointestinal) or external (ie. medication, poor diet) influence the body’s rate of healing.
   Life stressors must be identified and tackled first. Usually, these parts of life that are inevitiable. Time management is a key to adjusting priorities, balancing time and place and relieving many stresses. Exercise and meditation are beneficial to clear the mind and replace stress with peace.
   Other factors contribute to the pain we feel. Repeated improper posture may result from brushing your teeth in the morning to the way you lie down at night. Subsequent symptoms arise slowly and seemingly out of the blue. Treatment for these symptoms is similar to that of an injury. We must first reduce the level of pain and then focus on rehabilitating the affected areas of discomfort.
   Chemical imbalances can be the result of various factors, such as too much caffeine in the diet or exposure to mold. Many toxins that we encounter are minor in and of themselves, but they can result in a full blown inflammatory attack.
   A chiropractor is trained to encompass all aspects of health. Through a detailed history and examination the delicate balance of our bodies, both organic and inorganic (or visceral, skeletal and mental balance) should be assessed, addressed and treated to achieve optimum overall health and well-being.


Chiropractic: The Spine Is Just The Start

November 2013


   Typically, chiropractic is thought to be confined to the treatment of musculoskeletal symptoms related to the spine. However, residual benefits of chiropractic care are often reported. These diverse benefits range from reduced snoring to better eyesight.

   The basic chiropractic philosophy holds that we each possess an intricate defense system capable of combating invading organisms and other stressors that cause wear and tear on the body. Our brain is the central operating system for the myriad hormonal/chemical and mechanical interactions involved in protecting and balancing the healthy state of our bodies and depends on both the nervous system and the circulatory system to carry the chemical operating signals to every cell of the body. By reducing nerve interference to the spinal cord, natural healing is enhanced, as evidenced when patients receiving treatment for back pain often discover more regulation in their bowel habits. This is due to the fact that nerve roots that innervate the bowel are located in the lumbar spine, a common site treatment for back pain; so that treating one symptom often treats another.

   Another important aspect of chiropractic treatment affects the body’s immune responses. With immune-affected diseases such as Lyme disease, the chiropractor approaches treatment from two perspectives: aiding the body’s immune response and treating the musculoskeletal complaints directly.

   Actually, treating the spine is only one part of an integral chiropractic treatment program. From a thorough patient history, a comprehensive treatment plan is developed that incorporates manipulation of the specific innervation of the ailing portion of the body with changes in diet, lifestyle, and prescribing an individual exercise program targeted to specific symptoms.

   Alleviation of many chronic symptoms associated with illnesses such as asthma, COPD, diabetes, and poor circulation have been reported. Manipulation of the ribs and thoracic spine allows increased freedom of movement of the ribs and decreases spasm in accessory muscles of breathing. Chiropractic treatment has been shown in studies to reduce blood pressure in individuals with poor circulation and increase the efficiency of insulin, which is dysfunctional in diabetes.

   Invariably when asked what is most important to individual happiness, the first response will be “good health.” When suffering any discomfort, who would not want to feel better? An increased feeling of comfort and well-being is, by far, the most common benefit of chiropractic care.


 Dr. McDermott's acupuncturist

Trish Smith M.Ac., L.Dipl.A.




 Dr.McDermott's Husband's Home Improvement Business:
NewBrook Home Improvement
Dermot McDermott - Owner


Fran's Personal Certified Trainer

Holloway Saunders