All Posts tagged pain

What is Contemporary Medical Acupuncture?

By Dr. Elisa Petricca
 

Contemporary Medical Acupuncture is a nerve stimulation technique, which involves the painless insertion of extra fine needles into specific areas of the body in order to regulate abnormal activity of the nervous system and to release certain substances in the brain, altering the body’s pain pathways.

Medical Acupuncture is a very low risk treatment intervention. However, as with any conservative approach to care, potential side effects and/or risks should be discussed with the patient prior to treatment.

How Does Medical Acupuncture Work?

  • Normalizes the nervous system and alters pain sensation via stimulation of the central nervous system.
  • Improves blood flow to local areas of pain as well as the rest of the body resulting in tissue repair and facilitation of the healing process.
  • Reduce tension in the body by helping with the breakdown of excess fascia and tissue.
  • Helps to calm the body and mind, assisting in overall well-being.

Acupuncture Treatments  

The duration of acupuncture treatments can vary from several seconds to 30 minutes. Acupuncture treatments involve the insertion of acupuncture needles into appropriate areas of the body. Once the needles are inserted and secure in the body, they may be stimulated manually or with electricity to enhance nerve stimulation.

Acupuncture has been shown as an effective treatment for many conditions. The World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes the use of acupuncture in the treatment of neurological and muscular disorders including:

  • Headaches
  • Neck and back pain
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Sports injuries (sprains, strains)
  • Sciatica
  • Neuritis (inflammation of nerves)
  • Facial pain
For more information or if you have any questions, feel free to contact the office and we will be happy to help you!

References:
1. Canadian Contemporary Acupuncture Association, 2010-2016.
2. McMaster University Medical Contemporary Acupuncture Program, 2016.
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Suffer from Headaches?

Did you know that there are many different types of headaches? The most common types of headaches include:

  1. Migraines
  2. Tension-type headaches
  3. Cluster headaches
  4. Cervicogenic headaches

This post will focus on tension-type headaches, as they are one of the most common types of headaches suffered by adults. These headaches are often described as “band-like pressure” or “tightness around the head”.

Some common signs and symptoms associated with tension-type headaches include:

  • Chronic fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Mild sensitivity to light or sound
  • General muscle aches and pain

What Causes Tension-type Headaches?

There are many factors that may contribute to the onset of tension-type headaches. How many of the following factors apply to you?

  • Stress
  • Fatigue
  • Eye strain
  • Overexertion
  • Hunger
  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Cold/sinus infection
  • Muscle tension around the head and neck

Most of these triggers are lifestyle factors, which we are able to modify on our own. However, chiropractic care has also been shown to be an effective approach to help battle these nasty headaches!

Research has shown that chiropractic adjustments are effective in reducing the intensity and frequency of tension-type headaches, as well as reducing the usage of over-the-counter medication.

If you are suffering from tension-type headaches, the following 5 steps can help:

  1. Manage your stress: One way to manage your stress is to plan ahead and organize your day.
  2. Relaxation Techniques: This may include deep breathing exercises, listening to music, or yoga.
  3. Diet and Exercise: Eating healthy and exercising often. Quitting smoking is also very important to help reduce the onset of headaches.
  4. Heat or Cold: The application of a heat or cold pack around the head may provide some relief.
  5. Chiropractic Care: Chiropractic treatment can assist with muscle tension and postural correction to help re-align the body for optimal functioning!

References

Boline PD, Kassak K, Bronfort G, Nelson C, Anderson AV. Spinal manipulation vs. amitriptyline for the treatment of chronic tension headache: a randomized clinical trial. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 1995 Mar-Apr;18(3):148-54.

Fumal A, et al. Tension-type headache: Current research and clinical management. Lancet Neurology. 2008;7:70.

Pluta RM. JAMA patient page: Tension-type headache. Journal of the American Medical Association. 2011;306:450.

 

article_headacheTo read more about tension headaches, click on the link below.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7790794

 

 

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Straighten Up!

We’ve all heard it since childhood- “straighten up!”, “stop slouching!”  When we’re kids, we think our parents and teachers are just picking on us, but as adults we start to see the effects of many years of slouching and the chronic issues that follow.  Although most people are concerned with the physical appearance of slouching, the consequences are much more profound than a rounded upper back.

If you sit at a computer all day, chances are that you already know that poor posture can cause pain in your joints and muscles.  Poor posture can also be responsible for numbness and tingling or weakness in the extremities and can certainly lead to body aches and headaches.  What most people don’t consider is what is going on in the inside.  Slouching and slumping can actually cause compression of organs, making it more difficult to breathe, digest our food, eliminate toxins from our bodies and can cause a number of symptoms including fatigue and digestive disorders.

Taking care of your spine today, means better health tomorrow.  Take the time and make the effort to care for your spine so that you will be strong, healthy and pain-free later on in life!  Follow these six steps to straighten up:

1. Get up:

Take breaks from your desk every 30 minutes.  Even if you just stand up and walk around for a minute or do some light stretching, this gives your body a chance to relieve the tired muscles that work so hard while you’re sedentary.

2. Invest in a good chair:

Because we all come in different shapes and sizes, an adjustable chair is a great investment to be sure that it will fit your body perfectly.  Get something with good lumbar support to be sure that your low back is protected.

3. Take a look at yourself:

When sitting in your chair, your hips, knees and elbows should be at least at 90 angles and your feet should be flat on the floor.

4. Practice awareness:

Making and breaking habits is a tough thing to do.  Place a post-it on your computer screen to remind you to straighten up (you don’t even have to write anything on it, you’ll know why it’s there).  You should be trying to keep your ears over your shoulders and your shoulders over your hips.

5. Get moving:

Joining a yoga or pilates class can be a great way to support your spine through both strengthening and stretching.

6. Get your spine checked:

After major traumas (car accidents, serious falls and sports injuries) and minor traumas (repetitive stress, prolonged improper sleeping, sitting or standing positions), spinal bones can become misaligned and stuck, which can also affect posture.  A chiropractic examination will allow your chiropractor to see if there is something biomechanical that may be interfering with your ability to achieve proper posture.

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What’s Hiding Behind Your Headache?

One of the reasons we’re big-time advocates of chiropractic is that it’s useful for treating such a wide variety of conditions- many of which you probably wouldn’t think a chiropractic adjustment could fix. Many new patients think of chiropractic as a solution to chronic and crippling health problems and misalignments. But chiropractic is also a useful therapy to treat and prevent the most common complaints you can think of, including acute conditions like colds and headaches.

Headaches affect many people in different ways. In the course of your own experience you’ve probably encountered many types of pain in different locations, including the temples, forehead, top of the head, base of the skull and behind the eyes. There are tension headaches, pressure headaches and full blown migraines. No matter which type of headache-sufferer you are however, you would likely agree that headaches are irritating at best and debilitating at worst.

While reaching for an over-the-counter drug may help to ease the discomforts of your headache in the present, we’re advocates of finding a “bigger picture,” more long-term solution. With a chiropractic consultation you may discover that the root of your headaches is actually a lifestyle or health factor you’d never previously considered.

What you might not know is that spinal manipulations have consistently been known to improve headaches. Misaligned vertebrae and muscle strain resulting from poor posture can cause severe discomfort and contribute to the frequency and severity of headaches. These headaches are classified as cervicogenic, and benefit enormously from chiropractic adjustments.

Chiropractic adjustments coupled with massage therapy can also be highly therapeutic for misalignment and stress that are affecting your posture. When your body physically realigns and relaxes, it’s easier for your mind to follow suit. That means that these treatments can decrease your tension and encourage the release of feel-good endorphins, reducing or largely eliminating stress-related headaches.

While stress may be tricky to control, there are a number of other headache triggers that you could manage effectively- all it takes is some investigating. For example, your headaches could be related to ergonomics, caffeine or blood sugar. With the right lifestyle alterations, these would cease to be a problem. A consultation and a second opinion could be just the thing you need to determine which “headache type” you suffer from. No matter what your type, your goal should be to treat the cause, not just the effect.

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I’m Afraid to Visit a Chiropractor!

If visions of vicious neck twisting and spine cracking have you wary of chiropractors, you wouldn’t be the first to admit it. Misunderstood notions of chiropractic care can spawn fears and suspicions that delay patients from seeking the treatments they need. Typically it only takes a consultation and a few adjustments to put these fears to rest, and for patients to see how beneficial and transformative chiropractic can truly be.

But of course, in order to get there, you need to overcome the fears preventing you from making that first appointment! So in the interest of myth-busting and alleviating worries associated with chiropractic, here are some of the common concerns that cause potential patients to hesitate.

Fear: It’s going to hurt. This is perhaps the most common fear that discourages people from exploring chiropractic care as a viable treatment option. It’s natural to feel nervous about a physical treatment that you aren’t familiar with. However, you shouldn’t let your fear of discomfort (both during and between treatments) keep you from booking a consultation. This initial assessment will provide a no-pressure environment where your practitioner can get to know you, and you can ask any questions you might have about treatment. Also remember that sessions vary from patient to patient. Your practitioner will use a treatment and touch that is safe, comfortable and appropriate for your age and condition. Treatments are gentle and often therapeutic. Additionally, many patients feel an immediate sense of relief after adjustments. So if you’ve already been experiencing pain, chiropractic’s aim is to alleviate it, not cause you more grief!

Fear: I’m going to feel uncomfortable or awkward. As long as you have a good chiropractor, this should be one of the most unfounded misconceptions of all! A perfect balance between warmth, friendliness and professionalism should be every practitioner’s goal. Remember that your chiropractor wants to help make you more comfortable, and to that end, should be approachable and caring. If at any point during your treatments you feel uncomfortable, speak up! There’s lots your chiropractor can do –such as explain the treatment methods being used, reposition you, or clarify why you might temporarily be feeling some discomfort.

Fear: It’s going to cost a fortune. Chiropractic is covered under many health plans, so check yours to determine what type of coverage you might have. It’s also important to remember that chiropractic care is an investment that could save you recovery time, illness, money, and other preventable damage to your health in the future. You may have heard the analogy that chiropractic is like a regular car tune-up. You have to pay a service fee for it, but it could prevent your car from completely breaking down somewhere along the line. Chiropractic is a means of optimizing your central nervous system, which plays a critical role in your overall health and immune system functioning. A healthy system and proper alignment can help save your health (and funds) in the future.

The best way to put your mind at ease is from actually gaining some hands-on experience with a chiropractor- literally! Book a consultation, bring your questions and concerns, and discover what options are available to you to achieve your health goals!

 

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Out of the Gait: Investing in Orthotics

Do you ever experience pain in your feet, knees, shins or heels? This could be the result of misalignment and uneven weight distribution in your feet. The way that you stand, rest your weight and walk all affect the mechanics of your feet, and in turn can impact your entire body.

Your feet are a complex system of bones, ligaments, muscles and tendons working together to support your body. The arches are under enormous stress and strain every day. If arches lose their ability to flex and return to their normal shape, your feet will not be able to properly absorb the shock of walking. Over time, this added stress can cause break down in the joints of the feet and the rest of the body. Enter: orthotics.

You don’t have to be an athlete to benefit from a gait assessment and orthotics. If your weight isn’t evenly distributed when you stand upright, you’re not alone. Many people are inclined toward either pronation or supination:

Image source: http://ow.ly/hkN0t


Over-pronation:
This occurs when the foot rolls inward because of the angle of the heel bone, and often the arch collapses. Weight is borne primarily on the inner sides of the feet.

Supination: This is opposite to pronation, and refers to when the foot rolls outward, lifting the heel from the inside of the foot, and re-distributing weight so that the forefoot and big toe lift slightly off the ground.

Orthotics are custom-shaped inserts for your shoes that help to correct and compensate for the misaligned movements and position of your feet.  While many people visit a podiatrist for orthotics, a chiropractic assessment is worth considering instead. A chiropractor can help to treat your entire body, and identify which lower body pain is in fact related to foot movement and weight-bearing. Chiropractors will use a number of techniques to better understand the mechanical functioning of your feet, but will also help you address and understand the root causes for other sites of pain.

These diagnostic assessments are particularly important for pregnant women. During pregnancy, the stress on your feet and arches increases as you grow and gain weight over a relatively short period of time. During the nine months that you’ll carry your baby, your feet may change shape, and you might notice pain in your knees and ankles. Custom orthotics can help to prevent post-pregnancy damage to your feet and to improve comfort.

For more information and diagrams about orthotics and foot biomechanics, we like this blog’s comprehensive and highly visual overview. When you’re ready for a better assessment of your own stance, foot alignment and walking biomechanics, give Dr. Wise a visit!

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Mending the Body with Moxa

There are a lot of funky words that Western communities have had to acquaint themselves with when it comes to alternative medicine and health: yoga, reiki, pilates, Ayurveda, feng shui. Here’s a word you might not be quite so familiar with: moxa. Associated with acupuncture, the buzz word is short for Moxibustion, a traditional Chinese practice that targets a range of ailments including digestive disorders, arthritic pain, and asthma.

The Chinese believed that the application of heat and even burning to targeted parts of the body can increase circulation and encourage restorative properties. In fact, some traditional moxa treatments actually entailed burning and blistering the skin at targeted points on the body. Don’t worry though- today, Western versions of the treatment will typically only involve warming the areas of the body to be treated. Instead of directly applying a flame or lit paper to the skin, modern moxa keeps heat close to the body without contact.

Moxa 101

Here’s how a moxa treatment session will typically go: rolled leaves of plants like mugwort, ginger and mulberry are crushed and either wrapped in paper like a cigarette, or densely packed to resemble a cigar. At Thrive Health, Dr. Heins uses the latter, avoiding potential for burning paper accidents. The “cigarette” is lit at one end and depending on the practitioner, the stick is either held above the body or carefully placed on the skin. Sometimes the moxa stick is rotated or tapped against the skin as well. At Thrive, our moxa treatments never touch the skin, but have the same intended soothing effect. Patients find moxa to be deeply relaxing.

Moxa is believed to soothe and improve a variety of ailments and health conditions. The healing powers of moxa are derived from its perceived ability to provide the body with the necessary balancing “yang” energy. This energy is believed to direct the body’s movement and temperature. Moxa can also be useful in treating a pregnant woman whose baby is presenting breech, and for helping to ease post-birth pelvic and lower back pain.

Heating Needle Moxa

In this alternative form of moxibustion therapy, dried mugwort is rolled and placed on the head of the acupuncture needle. The practitioner then lights the roll which burns slowly in an upright position while the needle stays inserted in the target point. The heat from the burning mugwort travels through the needle and deep into the muscles. This is effective for arthritic muscle and joint pain.

As with many alternative and Eastern therapies that have been adopted by different trained Western health professionals, treatments and procedures will vary slightly from practitioner to practitioner. The patient’s condition is the primary factor in determining which form of moxa will be most effective, so your practitioner will have to assess the best course of action for your individual case.

Moxa can be a wonderful way to soothe and restore a targeted area or muscle by returning an equilibrium in energies to the body. If you want to avoid synthetic, over-the-counter medications for pain relief, moxa is definitely worth a try.

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A Guide to Naturopathic Practitioner Principles

Seeking alternative health therapies and treatments can be a leap of faith for some new patients. If you’re unversed in naturopathic medicine and holistic healing, you might be hesitant about your first encounter. Before you make an appointment, it’s important to clarify about Naturopathic philosophy to help you better understand what  Naturopathic Doctors do!

Since patient-practitioner relationships in naturopathic medicine are built on trust and connection, it’s important to have a better understanding of who we are and what some of our beliefs are, rather than simply the treatments we offer. Hopefully these will translate into some serious considerations in favour of consulting a naturopathic team, but more importantly it will help you conceptualize naturopathic philosophy.

Make yourself at home at Thrive Health!

We’re warm, friendly, and family-oriented.  Our commitment to organic, holistic and nature is all-encompassing, and extends to the atmosphere we create in our office. That means that when you walk into our clinic you should feel comfortable and at home. Your kids too!

We really want to get to know you. Before we treat you, we need some details –and we love the process of getting acquainted with patients! In addition to telling us the usual health history, we like to know about your lifestyle, work, diet and even things like your home life if you are comfortable to share. We want to know about your concerns and questions too- we’re here to learn about you as a person, not a patient.

We want to treat the problem, not just the symptoms. While we do have treatment options that help reduce discomfort and pain, we’re most interested in finding the underlying or root cause of whatever is ailing you or your child. Also critical to naturopathic philosophy is helping teach you about improving your health rather than simply diagnose. This way we build on your everyday health and long-term healing rather than simply short term treatments. Which brings us to our next principle…

We don’t just want to get you healthy; we want to keep you healthy! Naturopathic medicine is as much about prevention as it is about treatment. In fact, we believe that prevention is a powerful “drug” for many of the acute conditions and ailments that patients commonly suffer from. We’ll help you to improve your entire lifestyle to optimize your present and future health. We invest in our patients and look out for their psychological and physical wellbeing.

We (like you) try and avoid pain, side effects, invasiveness, and chemicals! It’s our goal to treat you gently, naturally and effectively. We understand that you want to minimize risk to your health, the health of your children, or the health of your unborn baby. We take these objectives seriously. Know that you’re in good hands and that treatment doesn’t have to be unpleasant; it can in fact be soothing and relaxing.

Naturopathic medicine and alternative therapies can provide you with a very unique brand of care. It’s particularly useful to examine these options if you’re in a position where traditional medicine isn’t working for you. For example if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, trying to conceive, or looking to treat an infant or young child, you’ll likely want to avoid synthetic medicines and invasive practices. We can help you find the natural alternatives that will work best for you and your family.

Naturopathic care is also a great way to facilitate and support a journey to better health for those who experience ailments and discomfort that has lasted a long time but remained undiagnosed or  unchanged. If you’ve long suffered from fatigue, aches, pains or digestive distress and you’re tired of it, a naturopathic team will help you to start identifying the problem. Even if you are sticking to a more traditional medical treatment plan for a specific condition, naturopathic care can be an effective way to supplement your other remedies and therapies.

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Managing Pain with Reiki

Reiki offers a natural alternative to over-the-counter and prescription pain management drugs.

With so many pain management therapies and drugs available, it can be difficult to determine a natural and gentle course of action. For those who suffer from chronic pain, often an alternative approach gives you a secondary, substitute or supplementary treatment option.

Yes but what is this “reiki”?

You might be unfamiliar with reiki since its introduction in Western alternative medicine is relatively recent. It is in fact an ancient Japanese practice based on a belief in the transfer of healing energy from practitioner to patient. During a session, the reiki practitioner will relax your muscles and open energy channels within the body. This is done either through direct touch, or by having the practitioner hold his or her hand just above the targeted area. Once restorative energies have been passed from the healer to the site of pain, patients will typically feel a reduction in stress, pain and fatigue.

Connecting the internal to the physical

Reiki is meant to soothe and repair both physically and mentally. There is an undeniable connection between a person’s anxiety levels and his or her ability to cope with pain. Reiki is meant to improve this coping capability by restoring productive energy. It is therefore not a cure for whatever ailment causes the pain, but has been an effective and soothing treatment for many patients.

One obvious benefit of reiki is its gentleness. For patients who cannot endure skin-to-skin contact, or for those who have been instructed to avoid any contact or rubbing, reiki is a comfortable and suitable choice. Additionally, it carries virtually no risk of adverse or side effects.

 

At Thrive Health we’re fortunate to have a very warm, skilled and compassion reiki practitioner in Monica Daoust. If you’re interested in learning more about the practice, you can expect a comfortable and rewarding introduction to reiki under her care. Click here to learn more about Monica, or book an appointment with her to continue your discovery of reiki!

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