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For more information about chiropractic treatment, contact:

John Ballam, DC

201 Davis Grove Circle, #106
Cary, NC 27519
Telephone: (919) 363-2277

Treating Aches and Pains:
Essential Care Even in a Pandemic

“Unfortunately,” observes Cary chiropractor John Ballam, “fears of COVID-19 have led many people to neglect other health care needs and perhaps to regard chiropractic care as nonessential. So, they wait while their aches and pains grow worse. And that often means that a small problem develops into a major problem.

“When you catch yourself slouching at your desk, try this seated stretch. Keeping your head level, tilt your hips forward, arch your lower back, and hold for 30 seconds. Improving the mobility of the lumbar curve creates a solid foundation for your shoulders and neck.”

“I do understand the concerns people have about COVID-19,” he says. “They are legitimate. And we should all be taking every precaution to prevent the spread of the virus. At the same time, there are certain health issues that should not be put off just because of COVID-19. Those back and neck issues typically don’t go away on their own. If you ignore them, they tend to get worse. It’s far better to come in and fix something with one treatment, then to put it off and have to come in for six.
“So, I want to reassure my patients that they can receive chiropractic care safely. Our office is now a very controlled and COVID-free setting.” (see box)

Pandemic Side Effects: Stress, Headaches, Posture

Dr. Ballam also notes that, in addition to normal health problems, the pandemic itself has given rise to some health issues that deserve attention. “The back and neck problems caused by poor working posture are on the rise,” he explains. “That’s because many people are now working from home, and instead of optimal working conditions are perhaps sitting at the kitchen table or on the sofa. Maybe they have a little home office, but it has an old, tired office chair and they’re using a laptop instead of a dual screen monitor with an adjustable stand. So, I’m seeing patients now who are dealing with aches and pains that are specifically related to the home work environment. These are patients I take care of regularly, but who are coming in with different issues than they had previously. And the only change is that they’re working at home instead of their office.”

Creating a Safe Healing Environment

In an effort to make sure that their patients feel safe coming in for their appointments, Legacy Chiropractic has implemented many changes in their office routine. “We’re prescreening to make sure that people are as healthy as possible coming in. And we’re encouraging everyone to arrive on time or early, because that helps us to stay on schedule; that way patients are isolated from each other.”

To make procedures as contact-less as possible, paperwork can be completed remotely at home and sent electronically. Upon arrival, patients call the office from their cars, and when a treatment room is ready, they can come straight into their room. Once in the office, patients sanitize their hands, enter their treatment room, and change into a gown as usual. “We’re having everyone wear a gown,” says Dr. Ballam, “because it creates a contact barrier between the patient and the table. We know that our gowns are clean, but we don’t know what your clothes have been exposed to.”

He also points to the changes in the office: “We’re no longer using our waiting room since patients are coming straight into their treatment rooms—we’ve removed all the toys, magazines, and beverages. We are also almost obsessively cleaning the office, getting it professionally deep cleaned on a weekly basis. Between patients, we’re wiping down all the contact surfaces with disinfectant spray, to ensure that the patients feel safe laying down on the tables. We’re really conscious of team health, so all of our office staff is checking their temperatures daily, and wearing masks when we’re face-to-face with patients.”

Dr. Ballam emphasizes that people need to be aware of good and bad posture so that they don’t end up with chronic back pain. And, he says, “there are some helpful exercises you can do while sitting for prolonged periods, such as maintaining an arched lower back, which prevents slouching; and lifting your arms in the air for 10-15 seconds elongates the spine, relieving pressure on your lower back.”

Another pandemic-related problem Dr. Ballam has observed is an increase in headaches. “I’ve noticed more patients calling our office complaining about headaches, thinking that they need a neck assessment. But, in talking to them, it’s become clear that the headaches are likely related to wearing masks. There’s a pattern: they report the headaches occur after wearing a mask for a long period of time. We’re all wearing our masks now and this creates a challenge to our breathing, to getting as much oxygen as possible.

“There’s a simple remedy for this,” he says. “And it’s not to stop wearing masks—that is more important than ever. But, when you don’t need a mask, take it off, and—most important—get outside and take advantage of getting fresh air whenever you can.”

Another byproduct of the pandemic shows up regularly at Legacy Chiropractic—and that is the impact of stress, which finds its way into patients’ shoulders and necks. “There’s no question that much increased stress is having an impact on us physically,” observes Dr. Ballam. “Some of it’s from the anxiety about the virus; some of it is worries about increased strain on finances, or job loss. Working from home and juggling child care and remote schooling add to the problem. And all these stresses find their way into our bodies in the form of tension and accelerating body pains.”

Understanding how stress can become pain is very important, notes Dr. Ballam. “We’ve always strived to set a positive environment in our office. I want every interaction with our patients to be an uplifting experience for them; we want them to leave the office feeling a little less stressed. That’s hugely helpful and that’s not even a hands-on sort of thing, but a mindset adjustment,” he says.  “That’s one of our main goals—encouraging our adult patients to know their bodies well and not to ignore symptoms or body signals that their bodies give them. So, when the pain, the tightness, and other symptoms set in, don’t brush them off. Take a little extra care of yourself during this stressful time.”

Looking Ahead

When asked what he sees the future of his practice looking like a year from now, Dr. Ballam says, “I know for a fact that people are still going to need a chiropractor. Just as much, if not more than they do now. But I think the biggest hope I have is that people can come together globally, as a community.”