What is Sciatica

Sciatica is defined as pain that radiates from the lower back into the buttocks and down the back of one or both legs, caused by the irritation of the sciatic nerve, the largest nerve of the body. It usually begins as an acute pain in the lower back,  then radiates down the back of either or both legs. There are pairs of nerves that exit the spine in the lower back. These nerves make up what we know as the sciatic nerve. If the disc is swollen, bulged or herniated, the result is pressure on those nearby nerves. This can cause tremendous pain, and normal daily activities become almost impossible. In my practice, I have successfully treated hundreds of patients with sciatica.

The one I remember the most was an elderly gentleman who was farmer and rode a tractor seat. I asked him if he wore his wallet when he was on the tractor, He said yes.  I asked him to produce the wallet and when he did I was amazed at the size of the wallet. which resembled a brick. Several treatments later and after not sitting on his brick, his sciatica disappeared. Symptoms of sciatica can include but are not limited to; sensation changes on the back of the calf or the sole of the foot, numbness, tingling, burning, pain in the back of the calf or the sole of the foot. Some patients experience weakness of the knee or foot, difficulty walking, inability to move the foot and inability to bend the knee.

One technique I use in treating sciatica is called decompression therapy. This therapy is fast, effective, drug-free and safe. This exciting technology is cleared by the FDA and available to you today!  With decompression, I am able to treat not only sciatica but herniated disc, degenerative disc disease, foramina encroachment and facet syndrome.  Conventional chiropractic care is also very helpful in the treatment of sciatica in removing pressure placed on the sciatica nerve, reducing pain and improving flexibility and function. I hope this article will assist you in eliminating sciatica in your life. As always stay healthy and keep your spine in line so you will feel fine!

Dr. Joel Desaulniers

Tips for Travel

Over the past 30 years, I have given much advice to my patients on how toenjoy their travel time and not worry about aggravating their neck or lower back when they are supposed to be having fun or on a business trip. I hope that you will find this information useful the next time that you travel by car, plane or any other mode of transportation. Feel free to share with friends and family.

Tips for Travel:

  1. Support Your Lower Back- When sitting for long periods of time it is necessary that you bring an arched cushion to place behind your lower back in order to help maintain the normal lower back arch of the spine. Some cars have a lumbar setting that you can adjust to do this. While on a plane, you can ask the flight attendant for a small pillow to place in the arch of your lower back.
  2. Rest & Stretch- The muscles we have in our neck and back require rest and can be injured if we prolong the use of them, such as sitting or standing for long periods of time.  When on a long trip in a car, plane or motorcycle, always stretch and exercise your limbs in order to give them rest and prevent blood clots. It is my opinion that you do this every hour.  Progressive-resistant exercise is a great way to protect your body and maintain proper blood flow to the limbs. Of course, don’t exercise while driving, please wait until you can switch drivers. Simply stretch arms and legs forward, one at a time, and contract the muscles while fully extended. Do not do toe touching exercises as this reverses the arch of the lower back and can actually aggravate it.  Be careful not to over stretch as this can cause cramping.
  3. Bring Your Own Pillow- I recommend that all patients bring their own pillows when traveling if possible as most hotel pillows are too big, soft or flat and can aggravate your neck and upper back. The pillow you sleep on should keep your head parallel to the mattress and support your neck and upper back.
  4. Support Your Neck & Upper Back- Most cars have headrests in them as required by law and it is important that they are elevated to the right height in order to protect our neck and upper back in case of an automobile collision.
  5. Hydrate- When on a long trip I recommend that you hydrate your body with water and Power Aid-like drinks to keep the necessary potassium, calcium and electrolytes in your system. This will make it less possible to develop cramps.

Don’t forget to buckle up and have a fun and safe trip!

~Dr. D

Three Steps for Less Stress

Three basic relaxation techniques you can learn to employ at a moment’s notice are: abdominal breathing, progressive muscle relaxation (PMR), and visualization. The beauty of these exercises is that you can take them with you and use them anywhere at anytime to cope with daily stress. It is best to become proficient first with abdominal breathing and PMR before practicing visualization.

Most of us are shallow breathers which can deprive our bodies of the precious oxygen needed to carry on normal body functions. The best way to practice abdominal breathing is to place your body in a relaxed posture: sitting, standing or lying down while taking a full breath and expanding the chest cavity to its fullest with air. Place your hands on your abdomen, and if you are breathing deep enough your abdomen will rise as you inhale. Now exhale and allow all the air in your lungs to be removed. The next time you feel tense, practice abdominal breathing.

PMR involves tensing and relaxing different groups of muscles in your body. This technique teaches you how different muscles feel when you are tense and when you are relaxed. 


  • Find a comfortable room
  • Find a comfortable chair
  • Dim lights
  • Find a pleasant temperature
  • Loosen your clothing if it is tight or uncomfortable
  • Remove shoes- (only if wearing clean socks)
  • Close your eyes

Make sure you are comfortable and ready to relax before you begin the exercises and when doing PMR, do not forget to practice your deep breathing exercise with it.

Warning: If your are not used to contracting muscles, start slowly, as over-contracting can cause painful spasms. Taking calcium magnesium tablets as a regular dietary supplement will act as a natural muscle tranquilizer. (Before taking any supplement, first check with your doctor).

  1. Begin by tensing the muscles in your legs and feet by pulling your toes toward your head (Don’t raise your feet off the floor and hold for five seconds then release).  If you are doing the exercise correctly, you will feel a sensation of heaviness ,warmth and tingling in each muscle group you relax.
  2. Push your toes down away from your body.  Hold for five seconds then release.
  3. Tense your leg muscles tightly.  Hold for five seconds then release. Let the tension drain from your legs – they should feel heavy and relaxed.
  4. Tighten your abdomen muscles.  Hold for five seconds then release.
  5. Arch your back and contract the back muscles.  Hold for five seconds then release.
  6. Tighten up your fists, (clench them) forearms and upper arms (should feel trembling).  Hold for five seconds then release.
  7. Shrug your shoulders. Pull your shoulders up as if you are trying to touch your ears with them. Pull tight!  Hold for five seconds then release.
  8. Tense your facial muscles.  Hold for five seconds then release.

Once you have mastered abdominal breathing and PMR, you will be able to find ultimate relaxation by letting your imagination focus on relaxing images by employing the visualization technique.  Start by thinking of a pleasant scene from your past. Examples might be the beach, a mountain top view scene or just the comfort of your quiet bedroom. Playing quiet music will help you concentrate. Try to clear your mind of all thoughts except the scene you are focusing on.  An example to use might be a beach scene. With eyes closed visualize the white, sandy beach, feel the warm rays of the sun on your half naked body while breathing in the cooling sea spray. Listen to the sounds of the beach, the crashing of the waves on the beach and the seagull’s distant noise.

The next time you find yourself facing a stressful situation, prepare for it by using this three step stress saver technique. Good Luck!

Dr. Joel Desaunliers

Sports Rehab

Dr. Desaulniers is experienced in sports rehabilitation procedures for athletes of all ages and various sports.  He uses a combination of Chiropractic techniques and exercises to successfully treat common sports injuries.  Dr. Desaulniers’ treatments help athletes to recover quickly, improve performance and reduce the risk for re-injury in their sport.


One of the Five Facets of Health 

Over the years, new patients have told me that they don’t sleep as sound as they used to.  The first
thing I ask them is, how old is your mattress?  One lady said that she had a great mattress that her grandmother willed to her.  In my opinion, if your mattress is over 8 years old it’s time for a new one.  I recommend a good medium, firm, name brand mattress that has been approved by the Chiropractic Association or the Orthopedic Association.  I further tell my patients that water beds are out of style but I am amazed at how many still use them.  I remember when my wife and I were expecting our first child.  She was eight months pregnant and couldn’t get out of our water bed one morning.  If you have a water bed, make sure it’s built higher than the original ones and that its wave-less.

Sleep is therapeutic and it’s a time that our bodies take to heal from our stress filled days.  I suggest that we all get at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night.  Think about it, we spend about a third of our lives in bed
so buy a good mattress.

  1. Do not eat three hours before bedtime; your stomach will keep you up processing your food for several hours after you eat.
  2. Never go to bed tonight with tomorrow’s problems, for tomorrow will bring its own new challenges. (The book of Matthew Chapter 7:34 agrees with this.)
  3. Try to go to bed with physical fatigue rather than mental. A long walk in the evening or a jog on your treadmill will do the trick.
  4. Calcium mixed with magnesium acts as a natural tranquilizer. This is why our grandmothers told us to drink warm milk before bedtime. It really works.
  5. Avoid watching violent movies before bed or reading books that would over excite or stimulate you.
  6. Avoid caffeine several hours before bed or all together.
  7. If your spouse snores, have them checked for sleep apnea or get a new spouse.
  8. Avoid alcohol. Alcohol is a heart stimulant and contrary to popular belief, will not give you a good night’s rest.
  9. Make sure you have the right pillow. Your head should be level with the mattress at all times. If your pillow is too shallow or high, it will exhaust your neck muscles and you could develop “Wry Neck,” or a crick in the neck, medically known as Torticollis. See coupon below.
  10. Always try to sleep on your back or side, never on your stomach. Stomach sleeping goes against the natural arches of the spine.

I hope the above helps you sleep a little better and remember to dream big dreams and make big plans, for they have magic that will stir your blood.

 Dr. Joel Desaulniers


One of the Five Facets of Health

Correct posture reduces stress on body joints, the spine and the nervous system which are three good reasons to maintain good posture.  Stress on our spinal posture occurs when we reduce or reverse the normal arches in our spinal columns which occur frequently during most peoples daily routines.

When you look at a human spine from a side view, the neck and lower back should have a backward C appearance with a normal C arch visible in the mid back. It is important to remember that a prolong straightening or reversal of these curves can lead to repetitive stress injuries such as: lower back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain and carpal tunnel syndrome.

Nature did not design our bodies for long periods of repetitive motions such as sitting at a keyboard all day or posture that exhaust our muscles such as prolonged bending or standing, which most of us do daily.  Here are some simple but effective techniques to use throughout the day that will help maintain the natural arches in our spine:

  1. When sitting for long periods of time, always place an arch support in your chair. The support can be as simple as a rolled up towel or a lumbar pillow you can buy at the chiropractic office.
  2. When standing for long periods of time, always try to place one foot on a railing of some sort or something similar. This is why you always see foot railings around the bottom of bars.  Railings have been proven to make standing less stressful.
  3. When you’re sleeping, always try to sleep on your back or side and never on your stomach. Use a pillow that keeps your head parallel to your mattress. Your head should not be to low or too high on your pillow.

Functional training exercises such as CrossFit, are designed to strengthen and improve our normal daily posture including standing, squatting, lifting, bending or most any normal daily physical routine that we experience.

Preventative Chiropractic care is always a good choice to assist in maintaining good spinal posture.  Here’s an exercise that you can do to improve your posture; simply back up to a wall and make sure that the back of your head is touching the wall as well as your shoulder blades and your buttocks. Practice this daily and soon you will have better posture.

Dr. Joel Desaulniers

Positive Mental Attitude

One of the  Five Facets of Health 

Most of us would agree that a positive attitude is better than a negative one.  The late great Zig Ziglar, a well known motivational speaker of our time, tells the story of his son coming home and telling him; ”Dad, I flunked my arithmetic test today.”  Zig said, “Son, I told you to be positive about things.”  His son then replied, “Okay dad, I’m positive I flunked that arithmetic test.” 

Good thoughts produce good results.  In the words of researchers, we can only think of one thing at a time, so try to accentuate the positive in every thought process you have.  Even the good news book; the Bible, tells us in Proverbs 23, “As we thinketh in our hearts so are we.”  If we can learn to control our attitude, in my opinion, our lives would be much happier and so would those people around us.  Everybody usually has a different perspective about the events around them and a different response.  We need to stop and think of how the other person may be viewing the same situation before we impulsively react.  I am reminded of a humorous story about a different perspective: 

Years ago, a blind man was walking downtown with his seeing eye dog when suddenly the dog stopped his master at the curb of a busy intersection, raised one leg and wet on his masters trousers.  The blind man immediately reached into his pocket and pulled out a treat for the dog.  An innocent bystander said, “Sir, it’s none of my business but your dog just wet on your pants and you’re going to give him a treat?”  The old man said, “Son, what you think you are seeing here isn’t really happening. You see, I’m just trying to find out where the dogs head is so I can kick him in the behind.” 

A different perspective, we all have them.  When you wake up in the morning, you have 50,000 brain cells that you orchestrate each and every day.  It’s your choice, good thoughts or bad thoughts.  Medical science has proven that a positive attitude can help you get well when you’re sick and a negative attitude can make you sick.  No one gets well unless they

want to!  Our creator has made us with a built in pharmacy and all we have to do is call on it as we need to.  As a Chiropractor, I believe spinal manipulation is also something everyone needs to stay healthy and  maintain a positive attitude.  Chiropractic helps to maintain the alignment of the spinal column which when in proper balance, allows the nerves to carry on their important life giving functions. So get an adjustment from your Chiropractor today and maintain a positive attitude!

 Dr. Joel Desaulniers


Nutrition is one of the five facets of good health and an extremely important one as many health problems arise from poor nutrition.  In my case you could say: I used to be a Whopper with fries but now I’m a Zucchini.  I chose to change my eating habits because; “you are what you eat.”

We have just entered a new year and many people have made a New Years resolution to lose weight and start exercising.  While this is a very good choice, many people will not follow through.  It’s hard to break old habits and start new ones.  In my case, it was necessary to start a new life style after I found out that I was pre-diabetic.  I started to cut back on sugars, breads, pasta’s and pastries. After 60 years of eating what I wanted to, now it was time to go the straight and narrow path.  Fortunately, you don’t have to wait for a crisis to arise before you start taking care of your body.  The bible tells us that our body is the temple, just something we’re using while we’re here, our earth suit.

Just think about it, everyday we are bombarded with news stories telling us how sick we are then we watch TV daily and are informed of some new drug that will cure what ails us.  On top of that, we all know of someone who has recently been diagnosed with a health problem.

According to the American Heart Association, deaths from cardiovascular disease have gone from 28.9 % of all deaths in 2001 to 36.3% of all deaths in 2004.  The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) calls diabetes “disabling and deadly,” and the numbers of people in the United States diagnosed with diabetes has more then doubled in the last 15 years. Roughly 25% of all adult Americans are obese.  The CDC has called obesity an epidemic because it kills almost 500,000 people a year.

In an attempt to protect themselves and their families from frightening and serious health problems, many Americans are changing their diets and are turning to herbs, supplements and exercise.  We live in a world of daily decision making, I can only hope that those reading this article will take heed and start a new outlook on their nutritional habits.  I thank God daily that I live in America and have the blessings that come with this great country.

Dr. Joel Desaulniers

How To Get Your Life Back

When you think about tomorrow, how positive is your view? Do you see a happy day at work, coming home to a loving family, enjoying a great meal, afterwards having a discussion with your children, maybe watching a little T.V., or reading a good book, then kissing your wife and kids goodnight. Or do you view tomorrow as “late to bed, early to rise, work like hell and advertise?” Too many of us see tomorrow as the latter. I don’t know about you, but I want my life back. In this fast paced world, filled with daily disappointments and setbacks, where do we begin to regain control? I believe that first we must clear our heads of the mental fog that society has bestowed upon us, by clarifying our visions of what we want instead of accepting what society dictates to us. I’m not suggesting that you take a motivational seminar or read a self-help book, or listen to a cassette tape of your favorite singer, but that would be a good start.

I’m suggesting that you take one day at a time and slowly begin to gain control of your life. Start by listing your priorities. Ask yourself, “What is the most important aspect of my life, my job or family?” Then ask yourself these questions: If I were killed accidentally tomorrow, who would remember me longer, the people at the office or my family? Who would grieve the longest? I hope you would agree that your family would.

As the sole provider of my family, for years I worked 60 hours a week, ignoring my family. I remember my wife’s occasional argument about why I should spend more time with the kids. I would justify my actions with a lame remark like, “I’ve got to pay the bills around here!” It’s easy to lose track these days. Once we clear our mental cobwebs out, then we must take the next step, which is to take a break from our busy schedule and figure out what is working and what is not, how to do more of what you enjoy and less of what you don’t.

You are saying to yourself right now, I don’t have the time. I promise you the time is there. Below are my five steps to a happier you. If you can accomplish these five steps, then you can begin to gain control of your life.

I am referring to your self talk. When it’s time to rest, stop carrying on that inner battle of guilt about saying I need to do that report, or call that client now. Practice effective time management. Learn to delegate, reschedule or discontinue certain daily events. Start by maintaining a daily business log. Simply write down what you are doing from early morning to late at night, then focus on the important projects you need to accomplish. You will find that many daily events were being done because that’s the way it’s always been done.

Invest and let your money work for you. Start with a small savings account and invest in mutual funds or a local stock. Pay off one bill, then take that money and pay off another one. Take time to balance your check book. Today, with self-help computer software and on line banking, there are no excuses.

Start by eliminating stress foods such as caffeine, sugar, salt and fats. Replace these foods with fruits, vegetables, whole grain, pure water and vitamins. Next, start an exercise program, one you can comfortably do. Walking or bike riding are great ways to get in shape. Exercise is the best anti-anxiety agent we have, and in addition, helps to reduce blood pressure, excess weight, and even helps to regulate blood sugar. Exercise is a must.

Take time out of your schedule to learn how to relax. Start by taking a class on: yoga, meditation, taebo, swimming or aerobics. Your body requires recharging and these classes can help.

In his book “Happiness Is A Serious Problem,” Dennis Prager says, “Not only do we have a right to be happy, we have an obligation to be happy.” He goes on to say, “Our happiness has an effect on everyone around us.” We must stop going through life waiting until something good happens before we decide to be happy. There is nothing more satisfying than helping someone who needs help. Learn to be part of something bigger then yourself. Give to your church and local charities, and you will find that the dividends will be well worth it.

I hope after implementing these five steps you will gain more control of your life and enjoy life to the fullest.  Remember, life is not that serious, it’s only a temporary thing. Good luck!

Dr. Joel Desaulniers

How Do You Manage Your Stress?

In managing stress, what approach do you tend to use, “hardball,” “eggshell” or “tennis ball?”

Hardball individuals hold all their stress inward, similar to a pressure cooker. They don’t know how to say, “No” and they are always volunteering for new projects and working overtime. They seem to enjoy anxiety and chaos. Unfortunately, they are usually candidates for high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke or ulcers. They are too busy for stress management and seldom consider its benefits.

Eggshell individuals are always complaining about something. They are very fragile and have a zero tolerance for stress. When you say, “Have a good day,” they say, “What’s so good about it?” They have heard of stress management, but believe it only works for other people.

Tennis ball individual’s approach is by far the best. They seem to be able to rebound from any stressful event no matter the magnitude or frequency. They seem to be in control of their world while enjoying a balanced life. They have mastered several stress management techniques and practice them daily.

So what makes these three approaches to stress management different? Let’s first look at what stress is: “Stress is how we perceive and react to daily change and events” The people who use the “tennis ball” approach have learned to accentuate the positive in their life by looking at change as a challenge instead of a crisis. They look at daily events as opportunities instead of interruptions to their day. They don’t deny reality. They recognize life as both good and bad. They choose positive attitude over defeated attitude, strength over weakness, and dedication over compromise.” The key word is attitude. William James sums it up well: “Change your attitude-change your life.” Tennis anyone?