Thursday, October 21, 2021

Pulling a Lower Back Muscle


Have you pulled something in your lower back? If you’re looking up the Dr. J Chiropractic & Wellness Center in Nitro, it’s probably because you suspect you have. Although chiropractors tend to emphasize problems such as herniated discs and subluxations, the most common back injuries are simple sprains to the soft tissues. But just because they are common does not mean they are not serious or that you shouldn’t seek help for them. This week, we’re going to take a closer look at what it means to pull a lower back muscle and what kinds of non-invasive, non-addictive treatments are available.

Muscles, tendons, and ligaments are all soft tissues that are made up of bundles of threads. Those threads may become frayed gradually, in the case of a chronic injury, or several may tear at once, during an acute injury. Injuries to muscles and tendons are known as strains and injuries to ligaments are known as sprains, although in practice, there is little difference and a person who has over stretched a tendon may have also over stretched a ligament. When soft tissues are injured, the body’s inflammatory response is triggered as a normal part of the immune system. This prevents blood that may contain pathogens from circulating as quickly through the body and makes cellular walls more permeable to antibodies, but also results in stiffness, swelling, and soreness.

Much of our treatment for strains and sprains is focused on pushing blood out of swollen areas so that nutrient-rich fresh blood may move in. This is what therapeutic massages are meant to accomplish, as are higher-tech options such as electric muscle stimulation. Therapeutic exercises are also recommended as a way to increase blood flow while strengthening injured muscles. Chiropractic adjustments can be used to take pressure off blood vessels, and if the underlying problem is that a displaced joint is contributing to wear, we can adjust the joint back into place.

Dr. Jay McClanahan is the owner and chiropractor of Dr. J Chiropractic & Wellness Center. Our office is located in Nitro, WV. To schedule an appointment with Dr. McClanahan visit our website or call 304-776-1520. 

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Raking Safety


With fall officially here, the leaves have started to change color. Soon, we’ll be raking them up. Yard work is an excellent way of getting exercise, and at the Dr. J Chiropractic & Wellness Center in Nitro, we encourage all our patients to find fun ways of staying active. But every form of exercise requires us to take safety precautions, and if raking is done improperly, it can put strain on our spinal discs and shoulder muscles. To help our patients avoid injury, we wanted to remind them of some raking protocols.

The first part of healthy raking is the rake itself. It should be lightweight and have a long enough handle that you don’t need to bend over to use it. Before you start raking, put on clothes that are warm, but breathable, and that are close-fitting enough that nothing will get caught or tangled. Rake while standing with one foot forward and one back, and pulling the leaves into a pile to your side. You should be changing which side of the pile you are standing on and which hand is higher on the rake about every five minutes.

Before you start raking, do a warm-up of dynamic stretches to loosen your muscles. You can further reduce strain on your back by squatting down to pick up leaves or bending by tilting over at your hips instead of bending at the waist. Be careful to avoid putting more in the leaf bag that you are able to carry, and try to rake when the leaves are dry so less of your energy will be wasted moving water. If you do feel sore while raking, stop, and we can help you determine whether it is safe to continue at another time. We also are available to help people feeling tightness or stiffness by providing chiropractic adjustments and therapeutic massages.

Dr. Jay McClanahan is the owner and chiropractor of Dr. J Chiropractic & Wellness Center. Our office is located in Nitro, WV. To schedule an appointment with Dr. McClanahan visit our website or call 304-776-1520. 

Thursday, September 9, 2021



The nervous system and the musculoskeletal system are closely linked. As chiropractors, we at the Dr. J Chiropractic & Wellness Center in Nitro spend a lot of time treating nerve impingements in the back that have consequences along the nerve’s length. But the spinal column isn’t the only place where nerves can be compressed, and our practice is devoted to the entire body. A stinger, also known as a burner, is a kind of radiating pain that moves along the arm due to a nerve injury, and since our own Dr. Jay McClanahan commonly encounters them as a sports physician, we wanted our patients to understand how they work.

The nerves that run down our arms and hands emerge from the bones in our lower neck, which are called cervical vertebrae. Although they emerge separately, they bundle together in the shoulder before dividing again. A stinger is what happens when those nerves are stretched by the head being suddenly forced to the opposite side while the shoulder is being forced down. Electricity discharges from the nerves and pain radiates along the arm. Usually, stingers don’t last long, and if one occurred during a sports competition, the patient quickly returns to play. But suffering one stinger puts a person at greater risk for additional ones. Repeated stress to the nerves, neck, and shoulder tissues can accumulate into tears, and stingers may be accompanied by subluxations of the cervical vertebrae that impinge the nerve roots.

An athlete who has suffered a stinger should not return to play until their neck pain is completely gone. Even afterward, they may need to wear extra padding on their neck and shoulder. However, if a person is suffering long-term pain, we can assist them with relief and help get them in a position to play again. We provide electric muscle stimulation and therapeutic massages to reduce inflammation in the neck and shoulder and improve those muscles’ flexibility. We also perform chiropractic adjustments to the neck to reduce pressure on nerve roots and the muscles running from the head to the shoulder. Athletes will need to stay active while recovering from stingers to prevent their muscles from stiffening, so we also provide advice on physical therapy.

Dr. Jay McClanahan is the owner and chiropractor of Dr. J Chiropractic & Wellness Center. Our office is located in Nitro, WV. To schedule an appointment with Dr. McClanahan visit our website or call 304-776-1520. 

Thursday, September 2, 2021

Lower Back Pain and Deep Muscles


Back pain isn’t always caused by problems in the back itself. At the J Chiropractic & Wellness Center in Nitro, our experts in integrative medicine regard the musculoskeletal system holistically, and are trained to consider how each of its components interact with the others. Pain in the lower back, specifically, is often related to problems in the hips and upper legs. This week, we’re going to take a closer look at one kind of muscle dysfunction, Piriformis Syndrome, and how it relates to the spinal column.

The piriformis muscles are deep, wedge-shaped muscles that connect the lumbar vertebrae of the lower back to the tops of the femurs. There is one piriformis muscle on each side of the body. These muscles help to rotate the leg outward and stabilize the lower back when a person is walking on an incline or up stairs. The sciatic nerves, which run from the lumbar vertebrae down each leg, pass around or directly through the piriformis muscles. Swelling in the piriformis muscles could not only cause them to pull more on the lumbar vertebrae, resulting in local soreness when they are in use, but could also compress the sciatic nerves, leading to radiating pain down the lower half of the body.

Piriformis Syndrome is diagnosed largely through the process of elimination, although one tell-tale sign is that it tends to only show up on one side of the body. For immediate pain relief and removal of pressure on the sciatic nerve, we use techniques including spinal adjustments, deep tissue massages, and electric muscle stimulation. But for sustained reduction in strain on the piriformis muscles, patients will have to build up the strength and flexibility of other muscles supporting the lumbar vertebrae and femurs. This will mean doing core-strengthening exercises and hamstring stretches, as well as stretches that target the piriformis muscles themselves.

Dr. Jay McClanahan is the owner and chiropractor of Dr. J Chiropractic & Wellness Center. Our office is located in Nitro, WV. To schedule an appointment with Dr. McClanahan visit our website or call 304-776-1520. 

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Spinal Spurs


If you regularly struggle with back and neck pain, spinal spurs may be to blame. These nubs of bone commonly develop in vertebrae as people reach middle age, and although many of them are harmless, they can put increased pressure on soft tissues and interfere with the spinal column’s integrity. At ACT Wellness Center in Woodbridge, our quality of life specialists provide a variety of non-invasive, non-addictive treatments for back pain, including helping people to live more comfortably with bone spurs without the need for surgery.

Bones are living tissue, and as such, they are constantly breaking down and regrowing. But there are certain conditions in which bones are more likely to grow back mishapenly, such as when they are exposed to inflammation or a bone needs more surface area to distribute its weight. One of the conditions that puts people at high risk for developing bone spurs is osteoarthritis. As the cartilage cushioning and lubricating their facet joints degenerates, the interlocking portions of their vertebrae grind into each other and develop spurs. People are also more likely to develop bone spurs when they have degenerative disc disease, meaning that the spongy discs between their vertebrae are losing water. As the ligaments connecting to the vertebrae become more strained due to the discs’ inability to bear their share of the weight, the ligaments become inflamed and spurs develop where the ligaments attach to bones.

Spurs may put pressure on nearby arteries and nerve roots and stretch muscles that are already overly tight. People with spinal spurs sometimes feel a dull, aching pain, but may find it gets better when they bend down. Spurs may appear on images such as x-rays, but we would want to perform range-of-motion tests before determining that they are the cause of the patients’ pain. If we determine they are, we may provide chiropractic adjustments to realign the patient’s joints and provide anti-inflammatory treatments such as low level laser therapy. Patients would also need to engage in therapeutic exercises to increase their back muscles’ flexibility, making spinal spurs less of a strain on them.

If you suffer from persistent back or neck pain, you may be a good candidate for chiropractic treatment. Visit Dr. Carmelino Caratozzolo at ACT Wellness Center, 14111 Minnieville Road, Woodbridge, Virginia. Call 703-491-9355.

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Protecting Runners from Lower Back Pain


Lower back pain is a particularly common problem among runners. Although there is much to be said in favor of running as a form of exercise, it does subject the spine to a lot of jostling, and that strain can accumulate into soft tissue damage. At the Dr. J Chiropractic & Wellness Center in Nitro, we’re dedicated to providing non-invasive, non-addictive solutions to musculoskeletal pain and helping our patients to develop lifestyles that improve their overall health. To that end, we wanted to discuss some of the reasons runners are particularly at risk for back pain and what they can do to protect themselves.

When we engage in sports such as running, our lower spinal columns are swaying from side to side. This increases strain on the lower back’s supporting muscles and can cause them to spasm, which results in localized pain. In more severe cases, strain can also damage the spinal discs separating the vertebrae. If the disc swells and impinges one of the roots of the sciatic nerves that emerge from the lumbar vertebrae, a patient may experience radiating pain, tingling, or numbness along the length of their leg. Long term damage to the sciatic nerve may even make it more difficult for someone to lift their foot. Additionally, the vertebrae may start to move out of place, which can result in a condition called spondylolisthesis, in which the body of one vertebra slips over another.

We use spinal adjustments to return herniated discs to their usual position, taking pressure off the sciatic nerve roots and putting the body in the best position to heal itself. Our other treatment options include massage therapy for overburdened muscles and electric muscle stimulation to reduce inflammation. But to lower their risk of back pain, runners will have to give their lumbar vertebrae more support. This could mean wearing a brace, but in the long-term, they will need to build up their core muscles and make sure they’ve adequately stretched before each work-out.

Dr. Jay McClanahan is the owner and chiropractor of Dr. J Chiropractic & Wellness Center. Our office is located in Nitro, WV. To schedule an appointment with Dr. McClanahan visit our website or call 304-776-1520. 

Thursday, August 5, 2021

Lifestyle Changes for a Healthier Spine

When it comes to your spine’s long-term health, chiropractic care goes hand in hand with certain lifestyle decisions. Simple things like lifting properly or standing occasionally while working at a desk can make all the difference. Dr. J Chiropractic & Wellness Center in Nitro, WV, is dedicated to educating patients about the importance of mindfulness when it comes to your spinal wellness. 

Resting and Sleeping

Neck and back strain are common during rest and sleep. Sometimes we fall asleep in strange positions or angles and wake up asking ourselves, “did I sleep the wrong way?” It’s important that your pillow supports your neck and head so that everything is neutral with your spine.


Lifting objects improperly is the most common way to injure your spine. Always use your legs to lift, never your back! Keep your back straight and hold the object close to your body. Never twist while picking something up and always set the object down the same way you lifted it.

Talking and Texting on the Phone

If you need to speak on the phone for an extended period of time, using the speaker function or a headset is recommended to keep your neck aligned with your spine. Tilting your head towards your shoulder will damage muscles and vertebrae. Similarly, when you’re texting, keep your neck and back straight with the device at chest or eye level. Never hunch!

Working at a Desk

Make sure that you’re getting up every thirty minutes to stretch out your body. Also be sure that when you’re sitting, your feet are flat on the floor with your knees at a ninety-degree angle. Your computer screen should always be at eye-level.

Dr. J Chiropractic & Wellness Center is located at 642 Cross Lanes Drive in Nitro, WV 25143. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please visit or call the office at 304-776-1520.