What Does Drinking Do to Your Spine?

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drinking With the holidays approaching, so are the social events with alcohol. Alcohol has many effects on the body, and your spine is one of those affected areas. Here are some questions with answers on why drinking might be causing you pain:

Is alcohol bad for your spine?  It depends. Generally, if you drink fewer than two drinks per sitting, the effects are minimal. However, if you have more than two drinks per sitting, then the effects can cause damage.

Does alcohol affect blood flow to the spine? This is an interesting question. Animal models have demonstrated that alcohol use can decrease blood flow to the spinal cord in your neck and low back. Low blood flow can delay healing and increase pain sensitivity. Repeat heavy drinking could speed up arthritis due to the body’s impaired ability to repair the surrounding tissue.

Have you ever wondered why you feel stiff and sore the morning after drinking? Alcohol acts as a muscle relaxant. The small muscles that support your spine are no exception. Your stabilizer muscles are what keep you upright when walking. Alcohol impairs your ability to control these muscles, leading to the classic slouched or stooped drinker (think of a person hunched over a table drinking and playing cards). Sitting for extended periods isn’t good for the spine to begin with, and adding alcohol increases the odds of there being a shift in the spine. Spinal shifts can make you feel like the Tin Man, where bending and turning is painful.

Alcohol is also an anesthetic, which means you feel less pain. So if you were in a position that is uncomfortable, you are less likely to feel it and re-adjust to a position that is gentler on the back. This also explains why you might sleep in an awkward position after drinking. Think of the classic “I slept on my neck wrong” feeling.

What effect does alcohol have on bone strength? Your body is constantly rebuilding itself and bones in your back are no exception. One of the minerals needed for strong bones is calcium. Alcohol decreases your ability to absorb calcium. Low calcium leads to poor bone quality and increases the risk of osteoporosis. Long-term drinkers often have significant joint pain. If you drink alcohol, consider taking a calcium supplement and/or improving your nutrition.

Why do I feel more pain the day after drinking? Alcohol is a depressant, which means it can increase psychological depression. One of the symptoms of depression is increased pain. Research indicates that some forms of depression are caused by inflammation in the body. Alcohol causes inflammation, so if you’re prone to depression, you might want to avoid alcohol. This is one of the reasons people who drink feel stiff and sore at the beginning of the week or have the “Monday Blues.”

Another reason for increased pain following drinking is the combination of dehydration and build up of acetaldehyde (the byproduct of alcohol). Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning you’ll urinate more often. If all you’re drinking is alcohol, then the risk of dehydration increases. Dehydration makes muscles feel stiff and sore.

How can I avoid these negative side effects? The easiest answer is obviously to not drink. If you enjoy alcohol, you can reduce the side effects of drinking by drinking slower, alternate drinking water, and using supplements. Spinal care is important whether you drink or not. Keep up with your daily spinal stretches and corrective exercises and make an appointment with your chiropractor!


Soledad Cepeda, M., Stang, P., & Makadia R. (2016). Depression Is Associated With High Levels of C-Reactive Protein and Low Levels of Fractional Exhaled Nitric Oxide: Results From the 2007-2012 National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys. J Clin Psychiatry. 1666-71.

H. Wayne Sampson, Ph.D. (1998). Alcohol’s Harmful Effects on Bone, Alcohol Health and Research World Vol. 22, No. 3

Koziol-Ehni L1, Hoffman WE, Werner C, Albrecht RF. (1991). Effects of ethanol on spinal cord blood flow in the rat, J Neurosurg Anesthesiol, Dec;3(4):273-7.

You Have the Flu, Now What Do You Do?

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Each year cold and flu season comes around, we all hear about getting our flu shot. But is getting the flu shot alone enough to avoid the dreaded flu?

Many people feel that if they get the flu shot, they’re done their part in protecting them against the cold and flu season. This is simply not true. The flu shot has an effective rate of about 50%, so this means that 50% of the time it will help protect you against influenza. But, unfortunately, there are studies that show it actually makes you more likely to get sick from non-influenza infections. So relying on the flu shot alone is not a good idea.

What’s the first thing you do when you notice a slight fever in yourself or a loved one? Most of us go running for the Motrin or Tylenol, right? But did you know that lowering fevers with Tylenol or Motrin can prolong your illness? Fever is the body’s response to killing infections. Lowering a fever means bacteria and viruses can reproduce in your body faster than they normally would.

If you have a infection what is the ideal body temperature to fight infection? Let’s break it down by age:

  • Infants less than 1-month-old – Seek care right away for fever greater than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit in this age group. While waiting for care, breastfeed as often as the baby desires. Your breast milk will also create antibodies against pathogens in your baby’s mouth. If an infant has a fever, other than seeking medical care, breastfeeding is your best defense against infection.
  • Infants from 1-month to 3-months-old – Seek care when they present with a temperature greater than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit if they appear ill. Again, breastfeed on demand while waiting for care.
  • Children between 3 months and 36 months – Seek care when they present with a temperature above 102.2 degrees Fahrenheit if they appear ill.
  • All age groups – Seek care when the patient has a temperature over 104.5 degrees Fahrenheit.


Chiropractic can help to boost your immune system. In an initial three-year study of 107 individuals who had been under chiropractic care for five years or more, the chiropractic patients were found to have a 200% greater immune competence than people who had not received chiropractic care and 400% greater immune competence than people with cancer and other serious diseases.

Some simple things you can do to avoid the flu are:

  • Avoid contact with germs and bacteria. Wash your hands regularly. 
  • Sleep more and longer.
  • Avoid sugar, bread, and dairy.
  • Remember to take vitamins, especially during the winter/cold and flu seaso. Vitamin D is the most important (read more), but also vitamin C, zinc, and tumeric. 
  • Consider getting an air purifier for your home or bedroom.

Platinum Chiropractic Announces Free Vitamin D This Cold and Flu Season

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vitamin DYou may have heard our office talk about vitamin D before, in fact you may have heard it several times over the past years. What we’ve noticed over the years is that even though our patients know how important vitamin D is, very few patients are taking it.

We wanted to make it easy for our patients to access a high quality source of vitamin D, so we’ve decided to give it away at our office. During the first few weeks of January, 2019, our office will be giving vitamin D to our patients to not only correct vitamin D deficiency, but also to help protect them from viruses like influenza, bacterial infections like food poisoning, seasonal affective disorder (SAD), brittle bones such as osteoporosis, and increased chronic pain.


To see our full press release regarding this giveaway read below:

Grand Rapids, MI – Locally owned Platinum Chiropractic announced today that it will be giving away vitamin D supplements to their patients. International researchers have concluded that vitamin D deficiency is a serious problem that many people know about but are not taking steps to correct.

Platinum Chiropractic’s goal is to increase vitamin D deficiency awareness and to reduce health problems associated with its deficiency. Problems with low vitamin D levels include: infections by viruses like influenza, bacterial infections like food poisoning, Depression including seasonal affective disorder (SAD), brittle bones such as osteoporosis, and increased chronic pain.

Dr. Hungerford stated “We found that even with knowledge of the deficiency, few patients would buy vitamin D and use it consistently. We wanted to inform our patients on the risks of the deficiency, reduce barriers to obtaining vitamin D, as well as to make it easy to use.”

Each patient will receive a free, easy to use dropper form of vitamin D3. Their gift will also contain instructions with adult and child dosing, and a reminder to take the vitamin once a day with food to ensure absorption.

About Platinum Chiropractic

Platinum Chiropractic opened its doors in Grand Rapids in 2012 and is owned by Doctor of Chiropractic, Daniel Hungerford. It has enjoyed 6 years as an independent healthcare company improving the lives of their patients in the Standale, Walker area.

Platinum Chiropractic continues to keep patients healthy and improve their quality of life by utilizing specific chiropractic care, nutrition, and structural rehab.

Concussion Is a Serious Problem

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Direct head trauma, whiplash, and falls are some of the most common things people think of when talking about a concussion. We’ve also all heard of concussions with sports. In fact between 2001 and 2009, according to the CDC an estimated 173,285 people under the age of 19 were treated in hospital emergency rooms for concussions related to sports (read more).

What would you guess are the sports with the highest rates of concussion? They are: concussion sports


Men’s hockey

Girl’s soccer

Boy’s lacrosse

Girl’s lacrosse

Girl’s basketball

What area of the spine is most mobile, least stable? It’s the top of the neck.

If a force is strong enough to damage the brain, what effect would that force have on the spine? Misalignment swelling, decrease blood flow.

Post-concussion symptoms can last for weeks months or years depending on severity and healthcare. Symptoms can last for just seconds or can linger. Ignoring problems is worst approach. Signs or symptoms of concussion include:


Poor concentration


Neck pain

Brain fog

Blurred vision

Ringing in ears

Slurred speech

Sensitivity to light

Sensitivity to noise

Memory loss

Correcting spinal misalignment after a concussion decreases brain inflammation.

“It is important to understand how the brain and body communicate in order to understand why post-concussion syndrome can have such long lasting effects. The brainstem is the body’s information highway. The area where it connects to the spinal cord is extremely small. It runs through the two bones of the upper neck called the atlas or axis or C1 and C2. These bones make up the upper cervical spine and are responsible for holding the head in proper balance over the body. Even if those bones are misaligned by a 1/4 of a millimeter, communication to the brain and body can be distorted. This leads to a number of health problems throughout the entire body.” (read more)

Moving Can Be Stressful on Your Body

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You’re moving, great news, right? While there is excitement with moving, relocating can also be highly stressful not only financially, but on your body as well. Especially when you do it yourself.

We all have boxes of hidden treasures that we’ve collected over the years. Boxes of books, knick-knacks, old magazines, dishes and other things that make for heavy lifting. Lifting heavy boxes and bulky furniture is enough to wear anyone down. That’s why it’s important to remember spine health during your move.

Back injuries can be very common during moves, the following are common mistakes people make during the moving process that can be avoided.

Mistakes people make when moving that irritate the spine:

Not warming up prior to lift: Cold muscles are prone to injuries. Before carrying boxes, stretch your arms, legs and hips to  warm up your body muscles and get them ready for a physically demanding day. Do stretches that mimic the muscle movements you’ll make when moving. Also take breaks through-out the day to stretch your muscles and hydrate.

Over lifting with back, bend twist: It’s important to know your limits when it coming to lifting boxes and heavy furniture. Beyond just knowing your limits, also be sure to use good body mechanics and ask a friend for help with heavy boxes and furniture.

Poor sleep: We’ve all been there, right? The night before you stayed up late to get those last kitchen cupboards empty, and stayed awake in bed mentally going through your checklist for moving day. As hard as it might be, be sure to get a full nights sleep prior to moving day.

Not stretching post activity: It’s important to stretch and stay active to keep blood flowing through your muscles.

Over relying on caffeine: So you didn’t get those eight ours of sleep, did you? Relying on caffeine to get you through the day isn’t a great idea. Relying on caffeine too much can have negative impacts on your body. Coffee, rather the caffeine in coffee can contribute to the build up of stress. Not to mention that “high levels of caffeine can affect your mood, leaving you angry.” (read more)

Extended driving: Unfortunately, back pain and driving often go hand in hand. Prolonged periods of sitting in the same position with poor driving ergonomics can take a toll on your body. To prevent back pain from the long drive try to maintain a healthy posture as your drive. Adjust mirrors so there isn’t strain on your neck to use them. Considering using a lumbar support cushion and take regular breaks from driving.

Slumping Doesn’t Cause Heartburn, Right?

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heartburnTrue or false? The loss of lumbar curve increases symptoms of acid reflux. This is true. Poor posture where your head and shoulders drift forward can cause or aggravate symptoms of heartburn and acid reflux.  This can happen by putting additional pressure on the stomach and abdominal cavity.
Here at the office we talk a lot about digestion. Digestive problems are very common and all too often we only focus exclusively on food. We worry about what foods upset digestion and what foods and nutrients help, but many times we over look an obvious cause: poor posture.
Digestive symptoms that may arise from poor posture can include gas, bloating, and even mild abdominal pain. In fact, one study analyzed the influence of body posture on intestinal transit of gas, finding that maintaining an upright posture favors gas evacuation in individuals with gas retention – such as those who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
It’s true you can eat in any position, like grabbing a meal on the go in the car, snacking while laying on the couch, lunching at work while hunched over the computer, or standing around the kitchen at family gatherings. However, it has been proven that eating in an upright, seated position is best. It also seems the most conducive for allowing digestive juices and blood to flow to through the digestive tract. If you think about it, our bodies weren’t built to be hunched over the kitchen table with our necks sticking forward all the time. When we have poor posture and fall into that hunched forward manner, we can run into problems beyond just digestive problems, such as back and neck pain.
In other words, put down the phone, step away from the computer, and slow down while you enjoy a healthy meal. Enjoying eating seated with your shoulders down and back while maintaining a neutral neck can benefit the digestive process (read more).

Is Abnormal Nerve Function Affecting Your Digestion?

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Our nervous system is very complex. It’s a collection of nerves and specialized cells known as neurons that transmit signals between different parts of the body (read more). The question is: Can abnormal nerve function affect digestion?


Yes, abnormal nerve function anywhere in the spine can alter digestion. If abnormal messages are sent to the brain, then the brain can activate the body’s fight-or-flight response. The fight-or-flight response is the system in your body that keeps you safe in dangerous situations, like running from a bear. The fight-or-flight response stops bodily functions that are not necessary in an emergency such as digestion. In a normal situation that is not stressful, the digestive system sends signals to the brain and the brain’s response is what causes digestive enzymes and muscle contraction. In stressful situations this is inhibited.

Did you know that abnormal nerve function in your lumbar can make muscles compress the abdomen, causing abnormal digestion and discomfort? It’s true! All of the muscle around your stomach is controlled by the brain. Abnormal nerve function can greatly affect digestion and discomfort.

Are spinal problems aggravating digestive problems in infants – like acid reflux – more commonly found closer to the baby’s head or closer to the baby’s lower back? Typically if an infant comes to the office having troubles with acid reflux, it’s more common that the spinal problem would be closer to the baby’s head.

Here are some location-specific problems from the spine with digestion:
Neck – Trouble swallowing
Thoracic – Unable to expand lungs, puffiness, fullness, pressure on abdominal cavity
Lumbar –  Trouble moving food through digestive tract, reflux

Chiropractic care’s primary focus is on restoring and maintaining the health of your nerves, muscles and joints. Adjustments can help to restore normal movement, ease pain, and prompt higher function of your brain and nervous system. That being said, do you believe that chiropractic care is a treatment for digestive problems?

While regular chiropractic care can help between the brain and nervous system, it isn’t a treatment for digestive problems.
Your digestive problems can be caused by nutrition problems such as:
Lack of fiber
Processed food
Here are some easy things to cut back on or eliminate from your diet for increased digestive health:
AlcoholOne of the reasons people do not feel well after alcohol use is dehydration. Make sure you drink enough water. The process of metabolizing alcohol requires nutrients.  As the liver decreases its supply of these nutrients, the blood stream is called upon to replenish the supply. As a result, body cells are deprived of critical nutrients and normal body functions suffer. Drinking alcohol can lead to nutrient deficiencies like zinc, Vitamin C, magnesium and particularly the B-complex vitamins, which are especially vulnerable to alcohol use (read more).
Caffeine – Caffeine has a diuretic effect and speeds elimination of various vitamins and minerals essential to health. In addition, drink water throughout the day to offset the loss of water from caffeinated drinks such as coffee. Specifically, potassium, zinc, magnesium, B-complex, and vitamin C are quickly excreted with caffeine intake. Deficiency of these nutrients, especially the B-complex vitamins and magnesium, can also increases anxiety and decreases mental performance (read more).
Tobacco -Tobacco users can have poor circulation which can lead to poor digestion.  Researchers have concluded that levels of vitamin C are, for the most part, lower in the blood of smokers vs. non-smokers. Vitamin C is an antioxidant, that also has beneficial effects on the heart and other organs (read more).

If you had to guess what is the most common deficiency in the American diet, what would you say? Is your first guess fiber? If so, you’re correct! A healthy fiber recommendation is 25-30 grams per day. Many Americans are shocked to find that they are only getting between 8 and 15 grams per day. Low fiber can result in constipation/digestive issues. If you are low in fiber, add it into your diet gradually. Going from 5 grams of fiber to 30 is large jump and not recommended in a short period of time.  Between cutting back on alcohol, caffeine, tobacco,  and adding fiber into your diet, you should be on the road for improved digestive health!


Chiropractors Don’t Really Do That, Right?

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While there are many strange rumors and questions about chiropractic care, some of them are actually true.  For example, the rumor that chiropractors all adjust (the gentle impulse that resets the nerve and the joint) the same. This is false.  Chiropractic has a variety of techniques used to adjust patients. This can depend on which college the chiropractor graduated from among other factors. If you received an adjustment that was different than what you were expecting, feel free to ask about a different technique or you can call other offices to find what you’re looking for. If you think you have chiropractic all figured out, read below and test your knowledge.


True or False: Chiropractors want you dependent on them so you have to keep coming back. After all, once you go to a chiropractor you always have to go, right?  False.  At our office we give you the playbook on how to keep your spine healthy when you have healed up. Whether or not you follow the recommendations to keep your spine healthy is up to you. Like your dentist tells you to brush and floss your teeth.  Its similar with your spine-corrective exercises, and stretching will go a long way in keeping your spine healthy, if you do them.

True or False: Every time you have back pain, it is a chiropractic issue.  False. Chiropractic adjustments are highly effective when the problem comes from the spine. While doing an exam, x-rays or scans a chiropractor can pick up signs of cancer, fractures or infections. Cancer, infections, or fractures are not chiropractic issues, and you would be referred to another provider for co-management.  Exams not only tell your chiropractor about spine and nerve issues, they also tell whether or not chiropractic is safe for you.

Did you know that like medical doctors, chiropractors can vary in specialty? Veterinary Chiropractic, Pediatric Chiropractic, and Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMJD, or jaw clicking, locking or pain conditions) are just a few examples of specialties within the chiropractic field.

True or False: Recent back pain can be caused by events years earlier. True.  Many times chiropractors will see a patient for back pain that started several days ago.  However on their x-ray we see evidence of severe degeneration or old compression fractures, which tell the chiropractor this has been present for years. In some cases, especially in toddlers, difficulty walking, vision, or hearing problems (ear infections) can be predisposed from birth trauma. Even a so-called normal delivery can cause trauma. It is estimated that 80% of children born in hospitals have abnormal shifts in the spine from delivery.


True or False: Arthritis is caused by old age and doesn’t cause issues in 20 year olds.  False.  Did you know that after a joint stops moving correctly, markers of arthritis can be measured in 7-10 days? This is common in athletes as well as people who sit most of the day.  Keep your spine moving correctly if you want to slow down arthritis formation.

Would you believe that chiropractors are actually not bone doctors? It’s true; a chiropractor’s primary focus is restoring normal nerve function. Subtle changes in alignment cause problems for nerves communicating with the brain.

True or False: The way you move says a lot about you.  True. How a patient sits, walks, and get out a chair tell the chiropractor quite a bit of information about the patient’s spine.  Are your shoulders even?  Do you lean forward when you walk?  Does you head drift forward past your shoulders when you sit?  These are things chiropractors notice right away and help correct.

A Solution – or Opioids?

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Why were opioids recommended over solutions that were safe, effective, and non-addictive?  Most of us can say we know someone who has been affected by the opioid crisis, or at the very least we have all heard of it. Unfortunately, opioids were recommended over solutions including; chiropractic, acupuncture, physical therapy and massage therapy.

Do you know what the big difference is between the opioid epidemic of the 1970’s and now?  The 1970’s epidemic was caused by an increase in illegal heroin distribution. Today’s crisis, we now know was caused by misleading pharmaceutical advertising. There were studies done in which low risk of addiction was demonstrated. These medications turned out to be more addictive.


Do you know what the most common reason for an opioid drug prescription is? Most of us would guess back pain, right? It’s true, non-cancerous, chronic back pain was the top reason for prescribing opioids.

We are at the point now where we not only have to solve the pain problem, but also solve the addiction problem. Many states are actually suing drug makers, and expanding access to chiropractic care. This is because chiropractic care is a safe, effective, and non-additive solution.

Did you know that it also makes a difference who you see first for your back pain? For example, if you see a surgeon for your back pain, the likelihood of having surgery is 42.7%.  If you see a chiropractor first, that percentage goes down to 1.5%! Chiropractic also has the highest customer satisfaction level too, surpassing prescriptions, therapy, and surgery. The satisfaction rate with chiropractic is 83%. With such a high satisfaction rate, it’s no wonder that our military had the largest expansion of access for chiropractic this year!  

Is Your Child Autistic? Consider Their Spine.

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The number of children being diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is rising significantly. The diagnosis according to the CDC is 1 in 68 children. This is a massive increase since the year 2000, when the number was 6.7 per 1,000 kids. While there is more research coming out with regard to the cause of ASD, we are focusing on behavioral challenges for children with this diagnosis.


Compared to a child without a ASD diagnosis, people on the autism spectrum have significantly more brain activity.  The synapses, nerve-cell-to-nerve-cell connections, are not organized on large pathways but are instead connected with many small connections.

One of the reasons autistic children have trouble learning is that they are receiving too much information to the brain. It’s also true that many children with ASD suffer from anxiety.  Another cause of anxiety can be due to abnormal nerve communication from the spine to the brain.  Abnormal nerve communication from joints in the spine are perceived in the brain as irritation.  Irritation in the brain can make day to day communication much more difficult.  Case studies of children with ASD receiving chiropractic care have demonstrated improvements in eye contact, communication, mood, and physical ability.

True or False: People with Autism Spectrum Disorder often have less control of their posture.  This is actually true!  Poor postural control puts people with ASD at higher risk for spine and nerve problems compared to the general population.

What percentage of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder demonstrated improvement following chiropractic care for symptoms that are not pain related? The answer here is a remarkable 78%!

Children with autism under chiropractic care improved with eye contact, communication, mood, and physical ability!

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