Hands toasting red wine and friends having fun cheering at winetasting experience - Young people enjoying harvest time together at farmhouse vineyard countryside - Foucus on glasses with blurred woman

Food and Wine Issue

By Dr. Zwade Marshall, MD, MBA

As we look ahead to the Fall Season in South Fulton county, there are many events to celebrate the changing of the seasons with our neighbors. There are numerous music, craft, and art festivals planned in neighborhoods all throughout South Fulton county. At the heart of any celebration is good food and fine wine.

As your neighborhood pain physician, I bring good news to all the wine lovers out there. Over the past decade, there have been numerous studies published in reputable academic journals that tout the health benefits of wine, especially red wine.

Moderate wine drinkers, defined as 1 glass daily for women and 2 glasses for men, have a 34 percent reduction in mortality compared to beer and spirits drinkers as reported by a Finnish study published in the Journal of Gerontology. This suggests that it is not simply the alcohol content of wine that extends the health benefits, but rather there was something unique to red wines that provided the benefit. Red wines contain a compound called resveratrol and other antioxidants that protect against heart disease. The grapes used to produce red wines sourced in the Mediterranean and southwest France appear to have more potent antioxidants than wine produced elsewhere. That glass of cabernet sauvignon is now associated with a reduction in your risk for colon cancer, cataracts, and cognitive decline.

If you consume your wine with a cheese pairing, you may be doing even more for your health and waistline than you ever imagined. Many people associate cheese with cakes, breads, and other diet-busting foods. However, cheese (cheesecake does NOT apply) also contains a very healthy compound called butyrate that helps to boost metabolism and encourage the growth of good bacteria in your gut. Additionally, the high calcium and protein content of cheese helps to preserve your bone health especially in the aging populations that are frequently diagnosed with osteoporosis.

With that said, I am compelled to remind you that the health benefits of red wine consumption only applies to “moderate” consumption. Over-consumption of any kind of alcohol is associated with increased risk of addiction, hypertension, cirrhosis, stroke, and depression. So, drink in moderation and eat with your nutritional needs in mind.

Asian woman wake up on bed stretching her neck relaxing in morning, thinking about sleep posture.

How Your Sleeping Posture Affects You

You think about your posture when you’re sitting at work and when you’re about to go on a run. But did you know your sleeping posture is equally just as important? While you can’t actively think about the posture when you’re in the middle of sleeping, there are several steps you can take to ensure that what you do to your body as you rest won’t hurt your spine later on.

If you wake up sore or with back pain after you’ve been sleeping, keep reading below to learn the best and worst sleeping postures below.

Lying on your Back with Knee Support

Sleeping on your back is considered the best sleeping position, especially when you have a small pillow or blanket underneath your knees for additional support. Doing so evenly distributes your weight throughout your entire body, eliminates pressure points, and ensures that your head, neck, and shoulders mimic the natural curve of your spine while you’re sleeping.

If you’re having pain in your back after waking up, try sleeping on your back to see how it feels. Though it’s considered the least popular sleeping position, with only about 8% of people sleeping this way, there are tons of other benefits aside from sleeping well. A decrease in acid reflux and less wrinkles are two additional benefits.

However, sleeping on your back will increase snoring, give you a higher chance of experiencing sleep paralysis, and can be dangerous for those who have sleep apnea.

Lying on your Side With a Pillow Between Your Knees

You need to make sure you sleep with a pillow in between your knees if you plan to sleep on your side, as this will create the natural alignment in your spine, hips, and pelvis. Make sure you don’t curve your knees, otherwise, you’ll disrupt the curve of your spine again.

In addition, sleeping in this position will give you less chance of snoring, helps with sleep apnea, and cools heartburn if you sleep on your left side. However, it can lead to additional wrinkles and potential spine pain if you’re not careful about your positioning.

Fetal Position

As one of the most popular sleeping positions, it’s a step above sleeping on your side since the knees are curved up to the chest with the back relatively straight.

This sleeping posture is particularly beneficial for relieving the pain of herniated discs, for pregnant women to alleviate pressure on their uterus, and also those who struggle with snoring.

Sleeping on Your Stomach

Unfortunately, this is the worst sleeping position you can sleep in. This is because sleeping on your stomach usually means you’re sleeping with your head turned to one side in addition to keeping your spine out of its neutral position. Sleeping this way also puts pressure on your stomach and the joints in that area. This can cause numbness, tingling, aches, and even irritated nerves.

However, the good news is that this position helps to prevent snoring. So if sleeping this way is necessary for you, sleep with two pillows stacked on top of each other so that you can breathe while keeping your neck flat, not turned to one side.

If you have any additional questions about how your sleeping position can be affecting your pain, click here to schedule an appointment with the experts at Alliance Spine and Pain.

Woman belly with hot water bottle in bed, wondering about Pain Management for Women.

Pain Management for Women: How to Listen to Your Bodies

Women experience plenty of pain during their day to day lives. Whether you’re having horrible cramps with your monthly cycle or bad side pain thanks to uterine fibroids, there are multiple, natural medical conditions that are common for women. Not to mention childbirth!

That’s why it’s extremely vital women have the best pain management practices in mind when it comes to living their best, healthiest lives. To help make that goal as easy as possible for you, the experts at Alliance Spine and Pain Center are here to provide their best tips and tricks for the pain management for women.

Tell the Difference Between Normalcy and Abnormal

Because women are so used to experiencing pain, and so much of it can be tributed to their menstrual cycles, it’s easy to think the side pain or cramps you’re experiencing is normal. It’s even easier to think that way as it can be a challenge for certain women to open up about their symptoms and experiences, whether it’s to their friends or their doctors. However, some symptoms that are often commonly associated with periods can be a sign that something abnormal is happening to your body.

What may seem normal to you could actually be a medical condition rising up. In order to tell the difference, it’s vital for women to pay attention to their bodies and keep track of their symptoms. To do so, consider downloading an app to help you watch your menstrual cycles and symptoms, write down anytime you have pain and fully describe your feelings, and create a medical journal to write down all your symptoms no matter what it is, both physical and mental. Not only will this help you uncover patterns, but it will also help your doctors exponentially when you bring your findings to them.

Have a Medical Plan in Place

The minute you start to have any new pains or symptoms that you’re not used to, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. That’s why you should always plan to head to your doctor and let them know what’s happening if something new happens to your body. You could visit your general physician or your OBGYN. Wherever you go, the physician you met with will be able to let you know if what you’re experiencing is normal or needs more attention.

Having this medical plan in place will help you remain ahead of any serious medical conditions. Usually, the earlier the diagnosis, the better for treatments and management systems.

Plus, your medical professionals will be able to provide a trusted plan to manage any pain you may have. For instance, if you’re period pains are extra bad, your doctor might prescribe to you a type of birth control that can assist in making that pain more manageable.

At-Home Tools and Tricks

If you discover that your pain and symptoms are abnormal and need attention after you visit your doctor, there are several at-home tricks you can perform to give provide as much comfort as possible to yourself.

Some of our favorite at-home remedies include applying ice packs, indulging in warm baths, using heating pads, and investing in massages. Herbal teas, participating in favorite hobbies to distract yourself, and communicating with your loved ones also work well.

However, feel free to experiment with any of the other pain remedies you can find. You’ll be able to uncover thousands of options through a simple Google search.

Again, we recommend visiting your trusted medical professionals before committing to any of these DIY tactics. If you’re struggling to find the right person to confide in, click here to schedule an appointment with our talented pain management specialists.

If you have any more questions about pain management for women, reach out to the experts at Alliance Spine and Pain Center!

Two black friends working out together, discussing how to avoid pain before workouts.

How to Avoid Pain Before Workouts

If you’ve ever worked out before, or even just done something physically strenuous, then you know that sometimes the next day your body feels worse for wear. It hurts to move, your muscles ache, and, sometimes, there is pain that might be a bit more serious. It could be you went a little too hard on the run or on the weights you were using, and the pain follows you around for weeks after.

There are habits you should be before, during, and after working out that will keep the pain away so you can stay on top of your game. To learn how to avoid pan before workouts from the experts at Alliance Spine and Pain, keep reading below.

What to do Before and During Workouts

  • Warm up. Make sure to properly warm up. Do some small movements, like spinning your arms in circles, or walk for a few minutes before beginning your exercise. Depending on what you’re doing for the day, there are certain static and dynamic warm ups you need to perform. Do some research to figure out your best warm up plan.
  • Stretch. In the same vein of thought, whatever muscles you use should be stretched out properly before you begin to work them. Take the time to do your favorite stretches before you hop on your equipment.
  • Hydrate. If you stay properly hydrated, you can successfully prevent cramping and inflammation of your muscles, which prevents muscle soreness.
  • Research the correct form. If you’re going to be doing some difficult weight lifting or long physical activity, make sure you do plenty of research beforehand on the correct form. It can make a world of a difference to your muscles and prevention of injury if you use the correct form while running or while deadlifting.

What to do After Workouts

  • Cool down. Just like it’s vital to warm up before exercising, it’s also super important to cool down. After you’ve finished lifting weights or running, consider walking for a few minutes or cycling to let your muscles relax.
  • Roll it out. Using foam rollers to roll out your muscles reduces soreness and also help strengthen your body for future workouts by relieving the tension in your muscle’s connective tissue. All you need to do is spend about 10 to 15 minutes after your workout using the tool, and you’ll be good to go.
  • Give yourself a massage. If you don’t have a foam roller, you can always self massage to help loosen the tension and get your muscles feeling back to their normal selves.
  • Apply heat or cold directly to the source. If you’re experiencing severe pain from sore muscles, grab a heat pack or some ice to apply directly to your muscles. This will help alleviate the pain quickly.
  • Ice bath. Not afraid of cold water and really afraid of sore muscles? Jump in an ice bath. It’ll be a pain to create in your own home and it probably won’t be much fun, but it will give your muscles a fighting chance to not be sore after a grueling workout.
  • Warm bath. If the idea of an ice bath sounds horrible and you already have sore muscles, go for the opposite and climb into a nice warm bath. The steaming water will relax your tight muscles and also help to promote blood flow.
  • Eat some pineapple or cherries. This one may sound a bit weird, but it’s been scientifically proven that the chemical makeup of pineapple and cherries can reduce inflammation and prevent sore muscles. So, if your sore muscles are killing you, always keep some of these fruit around.

If you regularly experience severe pain after working out, click here to contact the expert pain management specialists at Alliance Spine and Pain. We can assist in ensuring that your workouts are as good for your pain as they are for your body and continue to teach you how to avoid pain before workouts.

A child and mother packing her backpack, thinking about Backpacks Affect Your Children’s Spine Health.

How Backpacks Affect Your Children’s Spine Health

If your children are heading back to school this season, then chances are they have a backpack to use throughout the year. While these bags are essential for most students, the way your children use them could be harmful for their physical health.

Keep reading below to learn from the experts at Alliance Spine and Pain about how backpacks affect your children’s spine health.

What Backpacks Can Do your Children’s Spines

If your kids are shouldering a lot of weight from their backpacks, here are the potential effects it can have on their backs and spines:

  • Lower back pain
  • Muscle strain
  • Irritation on the spine joints and rib cage
  • Distortion of the curves in the middle and lower spine
  • Poor posture
  • Loss of balance
  • Increase in falls
  • Muscle spasms

Overall, improper use of backpacks today can lead to long-term negative effects in the future. To prevent that from happening to your children, use these guidelines for backpacks.

Things to Consider When Using a Backpack

  • The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that a child’s backpack weigh no more than 10 to 20 percent of a child’s weight, but encourage keeping it closer to 10 percent.
  • Encourage your children to wear both straps at all times.
  • Adjust the straps on their backpacks so that it sits high on their backs. Also, make sure the straps are comfortable on their shoulders.
  • Their book bag should not extend past their waist. It should be an inch or more above their hips.
  • Their backpacks should not sway side to side when they walk.
  • Ask your kids to use the chest strap or waist strap if their packs have one.
  • If your children have to carry a lot in their bags, get them to to lighten the load by carrying their items in their arms.
  • The best kind of bags are rolling backpacks. These options don’t have the negative side-effects listed above.

If you have any more questions about how backpacks affect your children’s spine health, contact Alliance and Spine Health to speak with our specialists.

Children holding hands and running down aisle of a school, getting back to school prep help.

Back to School Prep Help from the Experts at Alliance Spine and Pain

Getting kids ready to start the school year involves more than buying school supplies and shopping for new clothes. There are many things you can do to help ensure your kids are prepared for a healthy and productive school year. 

The following three tips are a great start for back to school prep help.

Get vaccinated

You, your partner, and your children should all get vaccinated as early as possible in the school year.  Talk to your children’s health care provider and your doctor to find out which ones are recommended. Consider getting the flu vaccine, too. 

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends an annual flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older.

Teach good hygiene habits

Kids don’t always listen when parents tell them to wash their hands before eating, after using the bathroom, or when they come inside from playing. But it’s a message worth repeating — hand washing is by far the best way to prevent germs from spreading and to keep kids from getting sick and from bringing germs home. 

You should also instruct them not to share food or drinks with other kids, as this is another easy way germs are transferred.

Set bedtimes

It’s essential for kids (and adults!) to get a healthy amount of sleep each night to stay focused throughout the day. Although sleep requirements vary somewhat among individuals, most adults need about eight hours of sleep each night, and children and adolescents typically need more than eight hours. 

To get your kids ready to wake up earlier for school, consider making their bedtimes a little earlier each night for a week or two before school starts. Sticking to a routine is important too, so try to not let weekends become late-night free-for-alls.

Following these easy tips along with other common sense approaches will help your children enjoy a safe and healthy school year. If you have any questions about pain management for your children and this school year or other back to school prep help, click here to schedule an appointment with the experts at Alliance Spine and Pain

A woman leaning on a table, struggling with the The Glorification of Opioid Abuse in Popular Culture.

The Glorification of Opioid Abuse in Popular Culture

By Dr. Zwade Marshall, M.D., M.B.A.

“Percocet…Molly, Percocet!” Atlanta native and trap music icon Future repeats this phrase in the chorus of his chart-topping single entitled “Mask Off”. Millions of hip hop fans sing along and dance to the rhythmic beat set to lyrics that highlight one of the nation’s most deadly public health crises. This also contributes to the glorification of opioid abuse in popular culture. Metropolitan Atlanta, as well as rural Georgia, has been plagued by the epidemic of narcotic overdoses stemming from Percocet tablets laced with other potent narcotics like Fentanyl. While Future, Lil Wayne, Jay Z, and many others rhyme about the recreational use of prescription drugs, there are numerous high profile celebrity deaths that drew much-needed attention to the scope of the opioid problem. Whitney Houston, Prince, Amy Winehouse, and Pimp C are just a few whose deaths were implicated by prescription drug overdose.

Does the prevalence of drug references in popular culture drive the demand for opioids for recreational use? Experts have found that the drug references in contemporary music do not contribute to the opioid epidemic in any statistically significant way. Rather, the evidence would suggest that the deceptive marketing efforts of the pharmaceutical industry and irresponsible prescribing physicians bear the majority of the responsibility for the current epidemic.

But while the glorification of opioid use in music is not responsible for increasing dependency, I would argue that it serves to normalize the behavior and makes it more difficult to combat this uniquely American public health crisis. In fact, the United States is the highest consumer of oxycodone and hydrocodone in the world, with the total annual American consumption of 27 million grams of hydrocodone dwarfing the combined consumption of Britain, France, Germany, and Italy. Moreover, the prescription drug crisis implicates another more universal epidemic – illicit drug abuse. According to the CDC, people prescribed and addicted to opioid painkillers are forty times more likely to become heroin addicts than those who do not use opioids.

As policymakers and public health officials enact legislation to curb this scourge and the glorification of opioid abuse in popular culture, we should take heed to words of conscious musician/poets like Chance The Rapper who shared his personal struggle with Xanax and uses his platform and microphone to educate the masses on the ills of chemical dependency.

Obese fat boy enjoy to eat vegatables salad, diet and Healthy food concept, fighting against childhood obesity.

Real Concern for Childhood Obesity

By Dr. Pickens A. Patterson III, M.D.

Childhood obesity now affects 1 in 5 children, according to the CDC. Obesity in children may affect not only the child’s health, but predisposes them to many preventable adult health conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, and certain forms of cancer. Remarkably, once the body creates fat cells, they remain for life and can only shrink or expand in size, thereby predisposing to obesity.

Many schools have reduced or eliminated recess, playtime, and physical education in their curriculum in an effort to save money. I believe that this will ultimately cost our country more as we raise more unhealthy children into adulthood unless we as parents and a community intervene. We should make certain that our children get 60 minutes of moderate to intense exercise daily, as recommended by the CDC. Moderate exercise includes activities such as a brisk walk or riding a bicycle. More vigorous activities include sports such as basketball, soccer, or hiking a steep hill.

In addition to activity guidelines, we should make certain that our children are getting adequate nutrition at home and at school. Parents should eliminate fast food and processed foods and encourage fruits, vegetables, and non-fried meats. Another aspect of nutrition that is often overlooked is avoiding or minimizing sugary drinks, including many processed juices, and encouraging children to drink water. It is much easier for a child to maintain a healthy diet as an adult if it is established during childhood.

As we go deeper into the school year enter into fall and then winter, activity levels tend to decrease. We have to be intentional about helping our children find daily active opportunities while ensuring they are making wise nutritional choices. Children look up to us, their parents, teachers, and other respected adults, so it’s incumbent upon us to lead by example while encouraging active and healthy lifestyles, which will yield more capable and smarter children!

Rear View Of A Businesswoman Sitting On Fitness Ball Stretching Her Arms, working on her work posture.

How Your Posture at Work Affects Your Health

If you work a desk job, you’ve likely struggled with maintaining a healthy posture throughout the day. When you’re engrossed in your work, you often don’t realize you’ve progressively slouched over your keyboard. In fact, it often takes a pinch of pain in your neck or back to alert you to this issue.

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, bad posture is the major culprit behind back problems for over 80% of Americans.

Learn more about how your posture at work affects your health from the experts at Alliance Spine and Pain Centers.

What Effect Does Bad Posture Have?

Aside from overall pain and discomfort, bad posture can lead to multiple health and psychological issues.

  1. The most obvious negative physical side effect of bad posture while at work is soreness and pain in the back and shoulders. By holding your body in this unnatural position, it puts excess strain and tension on these areas.
  2. Slouching can also affect your pelvis. In particular, those who slouch often have issues with pelvic floor dysfunction, which later leads to urinary retention, pain during intercourse, and constipation.
  3. Similarly, poor posture can severely impact your digestive health. Stomach issues like acid reflux and heartburn can occur when slouched, as it means your abdomen is compressed and cannot do its job properly.
  4. Slouching all day while you work means you’re decreasing your flexibility and limiting your range of motion in your neck and back.
  5. A special kind of headache is caused by poor posture: cervicogenic headaches. They originate from pain in the neck and strain on the joints. If you start to have more headaches at the base of your head, posture could be the culprit.
  6. Bad posture even leaks into your self-confidence. Have you ever heard of power poses? Studies show that performing a power pose for several seconds before having to make a major decision, give a presentation, or do something stressful can increase a person’s level of confidence. When you slouch, you do the opposite of a power pose, meaning your self-esteem could be taking a major hit.

Tips for Improving Bad Posture at Work

After reviewing these negative side effects, you’re likely wondering what you can do to avoid them and improve your posture at work. We’ve got you covered with these tips from our expert medical team.

How Should You Be Sitting?

  • Start off by sitting at the end of your chair and slouch completely. Next, draw yourself up and lean into the curve of your back as far as possible. Then lean forward again just at about 10 degrees. That’s the position you should aim for.
  • A good rule of thumb is to keep your ears in line with your shoulders. Don’t lean too far forward or too far backward.
  • Your bottom should always be touching the back of your chair.
  • Don’t cross your legs. Keep your feet flat on the floor.
  • If possible, avoid sitting in the same position for 30 minutes. Getting up and stretching each half-hour is a great way to keep your posture in check.
  • Distribute your weight evenly at both hips.
  • Your spine shouldn’t be totally straight. Your lower back should be slightly curved as should your neck.
  • Position your work and your desk so that you can sit as close as possible and have your computers tilted up to you.
  • Remember to relax your shoulders from time to time. It’s easier to do this if you have your arms and elbows resting on your desk or chair arms.

Posture Correcting Exercises

If you’re feeling the pain of a bad slouch, try out these exercises to help ease the discomfort:

  • Lift your shoulders up and down.
  • Rotate your head slowly around in a full circle several times and then reverse your direction.
  • Slouch all the way forward so your spine is making a C shape. Do the opposite by sticking your chest out as far as it can go so your spine now has a sharp curve. Alternate and breath through each position.
  • Lift your arms above your head and clasp your hands together. From there, stretch to the left then the right.

If you’re experiencing back or neck paid for any reason, including your posture at work, know there are treatments available to help. Click here to schedule an appointment with Alliance Spine and Pain Centers today and start working towards the pain relief you deserve.

Physician pointing at potential Osteoporosis in a bone in x-rays.

Osteoporosis 101

It’s estimated that about 200 million people worldwide have osteoporosis. This means that about one in three women and one in five men age 50 or above across the globe are at risk of having a bone fracture extremely easy, say while sneezing or running into the wall.

“Osteoporosis is not only painful, but it can also be extremely expensive,” Alliance Spine and Pain Physician Dr. Michael Schaufele stated. “It’s estimated that osteoporosis has caused over two million broken bones and 19 billion dollars in medical costs every year. That number is expected to grow.”

If you’re wondering what osteoporosis is, keep reading below to learn more.

What is Osteoporosis?

The word osteoporosis means “porous bone.” Technically speaking, osteoporosis is a disease that causes the bones in the body to lose density and quality.

Bones are normally filled with porous holes, similar to a honeycomb. When we’re in our 20’s, our bones are the densest, which is also known as peak bone mass. As we continue to age, our bones begin to dissolve their mass. However, in a process called remodeling, new bone formations come in to replace those holes.

Bones with osteoporosis have much larger holes, meaning they have less density and mass on top of having abnormal tissue structure. They also are not able to keep up with making new structures to fill the holes. This means the bones become weak and more likely to break, sometimes from something as small as bumping the corner of a table.

What Are the First Signs of Osteoporosis?

Unfortunately, osteoporosis is a silent disease. There may not be any signs of it until you have your first fracture. However, if an unexpected fractured, height loss, or gradual spine curving takes place, it might be time to speak to your doctor.

There are certain people at a higher risk of developing osteoporosis.

  • Individuals older than 50
  • Women
  • Individuals with low body weight
  • Women who have recently gone through menopause
  • Individuals who smoke
  • Individuals with a family history of osteoporosis

What is the Best Treatment for Osteoporosis?

Once a person has osteoporosis, it’s hard to treat. There are some medications that help with the symptoms, however, the best thing you can do is to take preventative measures before the disease develops.

If you’re worried about your risk, the following tips may help keep your bones happy and healthy:

  • Exercise regularly, especially when it comes to lifting weights. Doing so helps to build the strength in your bones.
  • Make sure to consume enough calcium and vitamin D in your diet. Reach for dairy products, spinach, broccoli, dried beans, salmon, eggs, sardines, orange juice, cereal, and bread.
  • Spend about 10 to 15 minutes in the sun twice a week so your body can use sunlight to make vitamin D naturally.
  • Quit smoking if you are a smoker.
  • Avoid carbonated drinks and alcohol.

If you have additional questions, click here to schedule an appointment with our expert team at Alliance Spine and Pain Centers.