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Health and Wellness Newsletter

What Do Lab Tests Really Mean?

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Lab Test Analysis
All forms of health care practice have made great advances in the last thirty years. Laboratory testing has also improved, both in the range of tests available and the rapid turnaround-time of results.

But no lab test is perfect. Tests may miss the presence of the disease or may falsely suggest a patient has a particular disease. Either situation may create serious problems.

For example, MRIs are an important tool. They reveal more information than ever before. But this comes with a price. Not every suspicious shadow on an MRI means something. Experience in interpreting MRI images is gained over time. Often technology becomes available well in advance of our ability to accurately interpret the results.

Lab tests need to be interpreted with caution. Accurate diagnoses need supporting evidence - in terms of patient history, physical signs, and symptoms - in addition to lab results.
You're at the doctor's office because you think something might be wrong. Rationally, you know tests are probably necessary, but getting the tests done sometimes provokes a lot of anxiety in all of us. We want to know the results, but are very concerned about the outcome."You need blood work" your doctor remarks casually. Your insides do an immediate flip-flop and you feel as if you've just begun hurtling down a very steep roller-coaster.

And when the results come back,  it's tough to understand the medical jargon, particularly if the tests are "positive". We've all had the experience of "going south" and not listening to another word that's said after the initial "your test results are positive". Our minds are racing ahead, imagining all the awful possibilities.

Rarely, a considerate physician will be able to put the lab results in a less-worrisome perspective for the patient. For patients, it's important to know some key facts - facts that will empower you any time you need lab tests done.

First, statistically one out of every 20 tests performed will be reported as "abnormal" - even though the result is "normal" for the person being tested. If you are perfectly healthy and have 20 tests done on your blood sample, one of those 20 test results will be "out of the normal range" based on statistics alone.1

This is because a normal test range is calculated by eliminating the top 2.5% and the bottom 2.5% of results for a large group of  normal people. This leaves the "normal range" as 95%. So if 20 tests are done, statistically one will be "abnormal", because its results fall in the top or bottom 2.5%. The result is normal for you, but reported as "abnormal".

Other factors to consider are the sensitivity and specificity of the lab test.2 Sensitivity relates to the test's precision in detecting the disease when the disease is present. If a test for colon cancer was 90% sensitive, it would miss ten cases of the disease out of every 100 cases. Specificity relates to whether a positive test actually indicates the presence of the disease you're being tested for. If a test is 90% specific, in ten cases out of 100 positive results, the patient does not actually have the disease.

So if a test has low sensitivity, actual cases of the disease may be missed. If a test has low specificity, test results reporting the presence of the disease may be wrong. All these factors need to be considered in accurately interpreting test results. Things are not always as they seem.3

Bottom line - test results always need to be evaluated in the specific context of the patient. An isolated lab result - or set of results - needs to be related to the patient's condition and circumstances. An accurate diagnosis is not based on lab results alone. That could be a big mistake. Similarly, x-ray, ultrasound, or MRI results need to be interpreted in context also.
Trying to interpret an x-ray without any clinical information is likely to lead to a wrong conclusion. Context is everything. If you have questions, we will be able to explain why certain tests are necessary.

1Thomas SL, et al: How accurate are diagnoses for rheumatoid arthritis and juvenile idiopathic arthritis in the general practice research database? Arthritis Rheum  59(9):1314-1321, 2008
2Friston KJ, et al: Classical and Bayesian inference in neuroimaging: theory. Neuroimage 16(2):465-483, 2002
3Kobayashi M, et al: Intraindividual variation in total and percent free prostate-specific antigen levels in prostate cancer suspects. Urol Int 74(3):198-202, 2005



Nutritional Counseling


 

Nutritional counseling is a type of assessment made which analyzes various health needs in regard to diet and exercise. A nutritional counselor helps people to set achievable health goals and teaches various ways of maintaining these goals throughout their lifetime. Nutrition is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. Without proper nutrition, one does not have enough energy to make it through the day.
This type of counseling assists all ages, ranging from pregnant women, to vegetarians, to the elderly and people with different medical complications. Those who may benefit include those with:
Diabetes; Osteoporosis; Poor nutrition and eating patterns; Eating disorders (some of which may require eating disorder treatment); Digestive complications; HIV; Cancer; Hypertension; Nausea; Nutritional questions; Allergies; Organ problems; Obesity; Hypoglycemia; Menopause; Fitness goals; Heart diseases

Spinal Decompression (IDD Therapy)

The Accu-SPINA is one of the most scientifically advanced back pain treatment systems available today. Designed to non-surgically relieve disc pressure, this device employs force delivery techniques which mimic physical therapy approaches to spinal dysfunction. The Accu-SPINA™ system has the ability to target specific segments of the lumbar spine for treatment. Over the course of a full treatment regimen, this system enables the treating specialist to distract the intervertebral space by a distance of 5 to 7 millimeters, thus significantly decreasing pressure inside the disc.
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Spinal Decompression (IDD Therapy) Testimonials
"I endured neck pain for so long, due to two herniated discs. I could not find a comfortable position. My sleep was constantly disturbed. After the treatment, I was back to normal and pain free. I can now sleep through the night without pain. Thank You!" - P.R.
"I had sever pain down my right leg and around the knee area. I'm 62 and I felt like I was 85! Since starting IDD therapy, there has been steady improvement. I was pain free after all of my treatments! I strongly recommend this therapy for anyone with bulging discs and leg pain." - A.E.
Call us now at 908-522-8989 for a complimentary consultation to learn more about the benefits of IDD therapy and how it can help you.


Physical Therapy

Our Physical Therapists are Licensed Certified Professionals with extensive knowledge and training in anatomy, physiology and the biomechanics of the body. Physical therapy is a branch of rehabilitative health that uses forms of exercise and equipment which are specifically designed to assist people to either regain or improve their physical abilities. Physical therapy helps to restore a person's best ability to function through minimizing physical impairment, disability-related congenital and acquired conditions, and functional limitations.
The type of physical therapy treatment a person receives is dependent upon their condition. Complete physical therapy treatment can include some different elements. Pain reduction might include the use of ice, heat, relaxation, massage, joint mobilization, stretches, or the use of electrical stimulation or ultrasound.

Acupuncture

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We have on staff Jeff Aleski, Board Certified Acupuncturist who specializes in back pain, tendonitis, carpal tunnel, pain management, irritable bowl syndrome, infertility, face lift rejuvenation, sinus pain and more. The goal of this dynamic and integrated 5,000 year old health care system is to activate the natural, self-healing abilities of the body. Acupuncture is safe, natural, drug-free and effective.
Ten key benefits of acupuncture include:
Improved Health and Quality of Life; Stress Reduction; Pain Reduction; Improved and Faster Recovery from Injury, Illness and Surgery; Emotional Balance; Respiratory Health; Insomnia Relief; Strengthening Your; Immune System; Premenstrual (PMS) and Menopausal Symptom Relief; Reduction of Side Effects of Chemo and Radiation Therapies

We hope to see you soon. Remember, for a better tomorrow, do something about it today!
Do not forget to stop by for a spinal checkup and an adjustment.
Please remember that everyone needs to be free from pain so bring your friends and loved ones for a spinal checkup.