Author Archives: North West pain Relief Center Editorial Staff

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Eliminating Stress

We have officially accepted stress as an everyday, unavoidable black cloud that follows us wherever we go.  It’s in the car.  It’s in the office.  It’s at home.  Stress is waiting around every corner with its sharp edges ready to chip away at our most complete selves.  Stress heightens our blood pressure, making us irritable and tired.  It causes our bodies to lock up and feel limited in the activities we used to be able to do.  Whether we realize it or not, stress is a significant ingredient in what weighs us down.

It is a difficult concept to realize in one’s self.  We get lost in the day to day hustle and bustle; each new day elicits tasks and responsibilities.  We forget to take a moment to consider how we feel both physically and emotionally.  “But I have to take the car to the shop……”

Let me empower you with the idea of massage therapy.  My job, my passion in life is to help people feel good; to encourage each individual to gain control of their own well-being arm them with a protective shield against stress.  No phones, no traffic, no kids; a calm and soothing environment for you to let go and tune in.  To work the knots out, to replace the dull ache with vibrant mobility.  To bring you back to a place when you felt strong and energetic.

It’s seemingly too simple a solution.  How can a massage combat the negative effects of stressful situations that face us when we wake up every day?  The answer is that massage is part of the solution, and restitution happens a little in small steps.  “But I just don’t have the time…”

Saying you don’t have the time is just like saying yes to sore neck and shoulder muscles.  Saying you don’t have the time allows stress to work it’s dark magic and slowly suck the metaphorical breath right out of you.  Enough of the bad stuff; let’s talk benefits.

Massage improves circulation of blood and lymphatic fluid. Healthy, hearty oxygenated blood to limbs and muscles make the body happy!  Massage is an excellent complement to exercise and stretching, which also promote fluid movement.  Massage eases tense muscles.  Have you ever had that pain in the neck and shoulders that keeps you from looking over your shoulder?  The pain that intensifies after long days and commutes? Massage can really help that.  Better yet, massage can keep it from coming back; it’s just a tight muscle.


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Are You Still Sleeping with That Pain in The Neck?

There are many sleeping pillows to choose from, cotton, wool, latex, polyester or natural filling like goose down. Most pillows come soft, medium and firm. A down bedding specialist will carry high quality goose down that will stay lofty. You will be able to try many pillows with different qualities of goose down and each a different firmness. Generally, people who are stomach sleepers require a soft pillow, back sleepers a medium pillow and side sleepers a firm pillow, unless they are petite then a medium would be better. Some down bedding specialists will offer the service of adjusting the pillow once you have slept on it a few nights. Now that’s the perfect sleeping pillow.

A high-quality goose down pillow with the right amount of filling will cradle your head and keep your head at the correct angle for a good night’s sleep. A high quality white goose down and the proper care will prevent the pillow from flattening out, keeping the loft to support your head and spine in the correct alignment. Regular cleaning and conditioning (not washing or dry-cleaning) by a down specialist will not only sanitize the down, it will re-fluff it and keep it lofty, and remove any dust. You should clean your down pillows about every 3 – 4 years to keep them fresh and fluffy. Choose a high thread count for the casing to ensure the down will not “leak” out. Swiss Batiste is the lightest, most durable and the most down proof material with a very high thread count. Any cotton cambric 300 and over will be very durable and down proof.

So for that all important personal pillow, get what you really need for a perfect night’s sleep. Choose a high quality Eiderdown or white goose down pillow and have it made just for you. You will be rewarded with years of sleeping without that pain in the neck. Once you have your perfect pillow, get an extra one for traveling. You will not want to be without it. A Chiropractor is very well qualified to advise you about which best pillow to use.


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Massage Therapy and Stress Relief

While the practice of therapeutic massage has been used for centuries in the east, it is a relatively recent phenomenon here in the west.  While the wonders of modern medicine have left many awestruck, more and more people are looking towards complimentary therapies and non-invasive treatments for their ailments.  Massage therapy has never been as popular as it is today in America.

A number of studies have shown that massage therapy is a highly effective stress reduction technique.  An earlier study, conducted by the University of Miami Medical School and published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child Adolescent Psychiatry, suggested that children receiving 30 minutes of therapeutic massage daily were less depressed and anxious than they were at the time of their admittance.

This particular study also observed marked differences in the health and behavior of the children in the test group, over the children in the control group.  The nurses taking part in the study also noted that the children were more cooperative, and were able to achieve a higher level of sleep quality.  On the biological level, the children in the control group exhibited lower levels of cortisol (a stress hormone) in their saliva and in their urine.  It quickly became evident to researchers that massage can play a significant role in stress reduction.

It is highly encouraging that both the medical establishment and the general public are starting to realize the impact that stress can have on an individual’s health and wellbeing.  Some physicians and researchers have suggested that stress is responsible for over 75% of all disease in the western world, including skin disorders, high blood pressure, headaches, digestive ailments, muscle pain, and depression.  By employing the age-old techniques of massage therapy, there exists the distinct possibility of overcoming these terrible afflictions.

The eminent Victorian physician, Dr. Stretch Dowse, noted the following back in 1887:  “The mind, which before massage is in a perturbed, restless, vacillating and, even despondent state, becomes after massage, calm, quiet, peaceful and subdued; in fact, the wearied and worried mind has been converted into a mind restful, placid, and refreshed.”  While modern medicine is full of promise in certain areas, it is not wise to ignore the knowledge and insights of the past.  Massage therapy has helped countless people cope with the stress of modern life.  It could help you, too.


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Cold Laser Technology: How a Low-Level Laser Promotes Healing

When you hear the word, “laser,” what do you think of? Maybe the first thing that comes to mind is laser eye surgery, or perhaps you think about laser printers. It could be that laser-guided missiles pop into mind, or maybe you picture a laser pointer or a barcode scanner. What you might not know is that cold laser technology has produced a powerful yet benign instrument that can promote healing and wellness.

How a Cold Laser Works

A low-level laser, sometimes known as a soft laser, is often used in cell regeneration. Essentially, the approach in this type of laser therapy comes from an understanding that every cell in the body has a “memory” of sorts. This memory comes from the cells’ polarity. Oftentimes, this polarity prevents the body from being able to regenerate or heal itself. When a healing laser is utilized, however, the cells release their charge and, thus, their memory. Once the cells have neutral energy, the cold laser donates energy to help them rejuvenate.

Systems and Conditions that Benefit

Soft laser therapy can help with a variety of conditions. For example, many people find it useful for pain relief – either acute or chronic – as well as for injuries, weight loss, and smoking cessation. Many others use a healing laser for detoxification, and for reversing the effects of adrenaline, which is known to contribute to pain, stress, diabetes, and aging. A cold laser can also be used for nerve regeneration, organ balancing, and lymph activation. Massage therapists and other healing arts practitioners use a cold laser to align the chakras or meridians, helping their clients to reconnect their bodies, minds, and spirits.

Handheld Devices

Soft lasers are available as portable, handheld devices, and some are designed to be used by both laypeople and health professionals. However, not all cold lasers are created equally. The best have 16 laser diodes in the 650nm and 780nm spectra, as well as a digital interface that is programmable. If you’re shopping for a healing laser, make sure to buy one through a company that will also provide you with a carrying case, a rechargeable AC adapter, and plug-ins for the pulsar probes. Most important of all, make sure that the company will supply you with a training DVD and manual. They should also offer support and assistance, as well as a full, money-back guarantee.

Generally speaking, lasers have a multitude of applications. Everyone from dentists to defense contractors to engravers use them. Thanks to cold laser technology, though, more people than ever before can benefit from the healing light and cellular rejuvenation that laser therapy provides.


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Back Pain and Blue Collar Jobs

Low back pain is one of the oldest occupational health problems in history and one of the most common causes of work-related complaints among adults.  Approximately 15 million people visit the doctors each year because of lower back pain.  It is estimated that a total of $25 billion is spent every year to treat this form of body ache.   For this reason, the back-pain relief and muscle relaxant industries are growing by leaps and bounds.

Low back pain is a muscular and skeletal ailment that afflicts millions of people around the world.  People with blue-collar jobs or those who are required to do heavy manual work are more prone to lumbar aches.  No wonder, construction workers are often diagnosed with low back pain.  If left untreated, this ailment can result to absenteeism and decreased productivity. Worse, it could even be the cause of more serious health problems.

To determine the severity of low back pain, you may use the following parameters to see how “bad” your back is:

  • Acute Low back pain last less than 6 weeks
  • Sub-Acute Low back pain between 6 and 12 weeks
  • Chronic Low back pain persists for more than 12 weeks

The good news is that there are a variety of treatments for back pain.  One of the easiest ways to ease the aches is to use a muscle relaxant.  Back pain relief is as easy as popping a pill.  However, it is important to get your doctor’s advice since medications for back pain are often doctor-prescribed and cannot be bought over the counter.

These are other helpful tips, procedures and strategies on back pain relief that you may want to consider:

  • Apply a cold pack to the painful area for 5-10 minutes at time
  • Use an heating pad on the painful area if the pain is still there within a few days
  • Protect your back. Avoid sudden turning or bending. Go on with your usual activities and try to
  • avoid bed rest
  • Get expert professional treatments
  • Nonprescription Pain Medications
  • Spinal Manipulation by a Chiropractor
  • Get a massage
  • Try acupuncture
  • Traction treatments
  • Biofeedback
  • Back Belts and Corsets
  • Injections into the back

Certainly, back pain relief goes beyond office furniture and medication.  The cause of back pain can also be stress at work, family problems, and other distressing situations that may not necessarily due to work or physical exertion.  The build-up of everyday stress can make your muscles tighten up and contribute to the slow but painful tension of the back or lumbar muscles.  Self-hypnosis, meditation and guided imagery are also being promoted as tools or techniques to reduce the discomforts association with lumbar ailments.  Back pain relief options can be expensive, depending on the specific technique prescribed by the therapist.

But surely, regardless of the severity or degree of back pain, it is always best to consult a doctor or healthcare professional.  The back pain may be a symptom of other illnesses or health problems.


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Physical Therapy for Treating Back Pain

Most doctors who work with patients in treating back pain also actively work with physical therapists. Physical therapists are skilled in helping patients recover from back pain and get back to performing everyday physical activities.

Physical therapists often spend time teaching their patients exercises which help them improve and maintain the health of their spines. There are a variety of popular exercise programs which have been designed to reduce the amount of back pain patients experience.

By using physical therapy, you will learn postures and positions which will help lessen the amount of pain you feel in your back. There is no one approach that will work for everyone. Your physical therapist will design a exercise program which is tailored to your individual needs. There are many different types of exercises available, and you will want to use the exercises which are the most comfortable to you.

Some exercises focus on adding strength to the muscles which assist in arching the spine and back. Patients who have back pain which is a result of ligament tears or other problems with their discs can have the pressure reduced by arching their backs.

Patients may perform other techniques such as lying prone, in which they lay on their stomachs with their arms to their sides for about ten to fifteen minutes. A variation of this technique may be lying prone on pillows in order to support your back. Your physical therapist may also want you to perform press ups, standing extensions, or other techniques.

To perform a standing extension, place your hands on the smaller part of your back while standing. Lean backward and hold this position for twenty seconds before repeating the exercise. To perform a prone press up, you want to lay down on your stomach and place the palms of your hands near your shoulders. Now slowly push your shoulders up, keeping your hips down. Lower yourself down slowly, and repeat.

While physical therapists can teach you a variety of methods to reduce your back pain, it is up to you to apply them. The most important factor in using a physical therapist is making sure you do the exercises they teach you. Consistently sticking to an exercise program in order to improve the health of the spine and back is difficult for many people, but the rewards are worth it. Taking the advice of your physical therapist is critical in you reducing your back pain.

Our center offers an innovative treatment which has been very successful with hundreds of patients. Ask our doctors about our Physical Therapy Program.


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Will Surgery Help My Back Pain?

Everyone experiences back pain at some time in their life.  In fact, it is in the top three complaints that people bring to the doctor’s office.

In most cases there is soft tissue inflammation, muscle spasms, or degenerative arthritis.  These respond well to conservative treatments such as anti-inflammatory medicines, stretches, and chiropractic manipulative therapy.  Physical modalities such as heat or cold, massage, and acupuncture are also helpful.

So when should you worry?  Any loss of bowel or bladder control needs immediate attention.

The longer the loss of bladder or bowel control continues without treatment, the higher the risk of permanent damage.  This also includes weakness of any muscles in the legs or feet.  Plus you can reduce the risks of falls and fractures.

Contrary to popular opinion, a thorough history, neurological and structural exams, plus basic X-rays of the spine can diagnose the problem 80-90% of the time.  Expensive MRI studies certainly can be helpful looking at the cross-sections of the spine into the discs and spinal cord.  But, in most cases it will not change the eventual conservative treatment anyway.

Consider an MRI if surgery is likely.  Certainly, if there is no improvement in your symptoms after several weeks or there is worsening of your pain.

Besides the obvious causes of low back pain from muscle spasms, degenerative discs and osteoarthritis, chronic structural imbalances play a major role.  Wear and tear to the spine from old trauma, sports, and obesity cause the discs to lose their cushioning ability.  They also may bulge or protrude backwards.

Over 50 years of age almost everyone has changes I the discs losing height and acquiring some bone spurs.  However, not everyone has pain.  Again, unless the nerve root coming out of the spinal cord or the spinal cord itself is squeezed, surgery will not help.  Even radiating leg pain called sciatica along with numbness and tingling in the legs can go away over time with proper treatment that includes chiropractic manipulation therapy.

Studies show that back pain sufferers who have surgery have no better pain relief or function than those who didn’t have surgery after five years passed.  Certainly, if surgery is recommended it is wise to get a second opinion.


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Sunglasses and Headaches

 Most people suffer from headaches at one time or another, and many people in North American suffer from migraines, ranging in frequency from several times a year to once a month or more often. In many cases, a migraine or severe headache forces the sufferer into isolation until it goes away, damaging their ability to work, socialize, and generally live life to its fullest.

What most people don’t already realize is that many migraines and headaches can be prevented through the regular use of a good set of sunglasses! Regardless of whether it’s the summer solstice or the frigid depths of winter, a high quality pair of sunglasses is a very useful preventive health item as well as a fashion accessory. Since bright light can trigger migraines, headaches, and contribute to tension and other disorders, a good pair of sunglasses can significantly improve your quality of life, as well as preventing serious eye degeneration that can eventually lead to blindness.

An effective pair of sunglasses should block both UVA and UVB rays, but new research suggests that High Energy Visible (HEV) light may also contribute to eye disorders, particularly in children. There is still insufficient data on this subject, but some manufacturers now design to block UV rays as well as HEV light, reducing your changes or visual damage from light sources.

It’s very important to note that dark glasses are not the same as UV-exclusive glasses. Check to make sure that your shades are made by a reputable manufacturer, and that they’re certified to block out UVA and UVB at least – if they don’t do this, it’s very possible that they’re worsening your exposure to harmful light by tricking your eyes into.

Since damage from UV exposure is cumulative, it’s important to regularly wear a high-quality set of sunglasses, and to start young. If you teach your children at a young age about the value of wearing good sunglasses, you may save their eyes from damage later – and besides, everyone knows how cool a good set of shades look.

Our center offers an innovative treatment which has been very successful with hundreds of patients. Ask our doctors about our Headache and Migraine Program.


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Migraine Headaches- What Are They?

The possibility of a migraine headache can easily become the worst fear of anyone who has ever suffered from one. These debilitating headaches are believed to be caused by changes in the levels of serotonin in the brain. When the levels are too low, this causes the blood vessels to swell, and this swelling causes quite a bit of pain. The level of serotonin that your brain produces is determined by many different things, including foods, light, estrogen, and blood sugar levels.

Those who suffer from migraine headaches know that the pain can become incredibly intense, literally preventing them from going about their day-to-day lives. Different people experience different levels of pain with their migraines – no two are alike.

Symptoms of a migraine headache may include nausea, vomiting, blurred vision, spotty vision, sensitivity to light, sound and smells, intense throbbing pain in various places on your head, feelings of exhaustion, confusion, being too hot or too cold, having a stiff neck and shoulders, dizziness, or feeling light headed.

Many people also report that movement or being touched increases the pain dramatically. Some people suffer from migraines so often that they know when one is about to start – well before it starts. They may experience fatigue, have mood swings, crave certain foods, or they may even experience increased energy that is not ‘normal’ for them.

There are different types of migraine headaches. Classic Migraines are described as migraines that are signaled by changes in the way one sees. Feelings of depression, irritability, and restlessness may signal these migraines. Common Migraines usually start slowly and lasting much longer than Classic Migraines. Classic Migraines and Common Migraines are the two most common types of migraine headaches.

Migraines can be caused by a variety of things, such as excess light, which causes the brain to produce more serotonin than is needed. Certain foods can cause migraines, and this varies from person to person. Unbalanced estrogen levels are another major cause, and more women than men have migraine headaches. Migraine headaches may last anywhere from a few hours up to three days or more.

For some people, over the counter pain relievers will help ease the pain of a migraine. For others, stronger prescriptions pain reliever is required. Again, treatment should be started at the first sign of a migraine in order to cure it faster. Some prescription medications used to treat severe migraine headaches can be habit forming, so caution should be used.

Other than medication, if you are suffering from a migraine, you should resign to a dark room that is very quiet and lie down. If touch doesn’t bother you, massaging your temples may help. Make sure that you apply pressure to the temples, and you should keep your eyes closed and place a cool damp cloth or cold compress either over your eyes or on your head – or both.

Migraines can be avoided in a variety of ways. For frequent headaches, medication may be prescribed to help avoid migraines. Wearing sunglasses, especially those designed for headache sufferers should also be used in bright light.. If certain foods tend to bring on your migraines, those foods should of course be avoided. You should also make sure that you get plenty of sleep and that you avoid stress.

Again, migraine headaches can be quite debilitating. Prevention of these headaches is important, and anyone who has had one of these types of headaches will do everything they can do to prevent another one from coming on. Prevention, however, doesn’t always work, so again, make sure you start treating your migraine headache at the very first sign that one is coming for faster relief.

Our center offers an innovative treatment which has been very successful with hundreds of patients. Ask our doctors about our Headache and Migraine Program.


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Carpal Tunnel Syndrome- Symptoms, Tests & Treatment

Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a devastating injury that affects more than 8 million people in the United States and continues to increase each and every year.

Carpal tunnel syndrome is one of many repetitive strain injuries (RSI’s) that are everywhere; homes, offices, assembly lines, grocery stores, book clubs, construction sites, dental offices, everywhere! Because carpal tunnel syndrome is so commonplace, and its effects so devastating, it is important to be knowledgeable of how it occurs, what its symptoms are, the testing methods used and what treatment options are available, as the prevention of any injury, especially carpal tunnel, begins with education.

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a disorder affecting the median nerve, which supplies function to the thumb, index, middle and one half of the ring finger. Usually the symptoms are most prevalent in the thumb, index and middle fingers (Sometimes one-half of the ring finger) and include numbness, tingling, paresthesia (pins and needles), pain and tightness in the front of the hand, wrist and forearm. These symptoms do not have to occur simultaneously, and may only affect one finger one day and then three fingers a few days later.

If a doctor provides a carpal tunnel diagnoses and the symptoms are in the ring and little fingers, it is NOT carpal tunnel syndrome! The ulnar nerve, not the median nerve, supplies function to the ring and little finger. Repetitive strain disorders affecting these two fingers are usually either Guyon’s syndrome, entrapment of the ulnar nerve in the guyon’s canal at the wrist junction, or cubital tunnel syndrome, entrapment of the ulnar nerve at the elbow junction. This is a common mistake made by many, many physicians and is completely inexcusable as they often recommend surgery for the patient, causing the patient to undergo an unnecessary procedure, and what makes it worse, for the wrong disorder!

If symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome do arise, doctors will recommend that a nerve conduction velocity (NCV) test or an Electromyogram (EMG) be performed to see if carpal tunnel syndrome truly exists. Nonetheless, it is recommended that manual carpal tunnel tests be performed in order to obtain a more accurate diagnosis. Manual carpal tunnel tests take no longer than 10 minutes, have a high accuracy rate.

The recommended manual carpal tunnel tests consist of the following:

  • Phalen’s Test: The wrist is flexed for 30 to 60 seconds in order to compress the median nerve and duplicate/increase the symptoms.
  • Reverse Phalen’s Test: The wrist is extended for 30 to 60 seconds in order to stretch the median nerve and duplicate/increase the symptoms. Stretching the median nerve if it is already impinged will duplicate/increase the symptoms if a patient has carpal tunnel syndrome.
  • Tinnel Sign: Tapping directly over the median nerve at the wrist junction will cause carpal tunnel symptoms to exhibit themselves.
  • Compression Test: Direct pressure is applied over the location of the median nerve for 30-60 seconds to see if carpal tunnel symptoms are exhibited.

 

If a positive diagnosis comes back, most doctors will push for surgery, a procedure that has a terrible success rate and is to only be performed as a last resort once all other conservative treatment methods have been utilized. Conservative therapy is the key to successfully recovering from carpal tunnel syndrome and obtaining not only short-term but long-term relief as well. The following is a list of conservative treatments that should be utilized in order to help prevent carpal tunnel syndrome from developing, but also rehabilitating carpal tunnel syndrome after it is already present.

  • Ergonomics: Utilize proper ergonomic tools and equipment when working.
  • Breaks: Take short breaks every 30 minutes when working in order to help reduce excessive strain on the hands.
  • Stretches: Stretch the muscles that ‘close’ the hands as these are the muscles that are exercised all day long in activities such as typing, writing, gripping a steering wheel, using a computer mouse, carrying groceries and everything else that is done day in and day out. When a muscle is involved in exercise, it becomes shorter, therefore it needs to be stretched and lengthened both during and after the exercises are completed. (End of day)
  • Exercises: Exercise and strengthen the muscles that are used to ‘open’ the hands, as these muscles do not receive much direct stimuli / exercise. (i.e. People do not turn doorknobs, hold things, type, use a computer mouse or lift things with the backs of their hands.)

The information provided above reveals how carpal tunnel syndrome occurs, what its symptoms are, the testing methods most commonly used and the best conservative treatment options that are used to thwart its existence.

It is very important for individuals to become well acquainted with the proper information and tools in order to maintain and increase their level of health and productivity. It is also important for people to speak to their doctors regarding their health concerns, and if someone is involved in an occupation that is considered high-risk for carpal tunnel, they should discuss this with their physician, but is even more critical that people become self educated as no one can take care of you better than “YOU”!

Our center offers an innovative treatment which has been very successful with hundreds of patients. Ask our doctors about our Carpal Tunnel Program.


 
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