What is Chiropractic?
While many people think that chiropractic is just a great way to treat back pain, it’s much more than that.
The philosophy behind chiropractic is simple: your central nervous system controls every aspect of your body’s functioning. It controls your cardiovascular, endocrine, digestive, respiratory, muscular, and immune systems. When your nervous system is functioning properly, you experience health; when there’s a disruption in the functioning of your nervous system, you experience illness or pain or dysfunction.
The normal, healthy functioning of your nervous system can be disrupted by “subluxations” in your spinal column. Dr. William (Bill) Paslak works to find these subluxations and adjusts your spine to reduce or correct them, helping your body restore its natural function without drugs, surgery, or invasive procedures.
Muscle and Skeletal Problems
Since massage works directly on the muscles, it’s not surprising that it can be helpful for problems of the musculoskeletal system:
With the increased usage of the personal computer, carpal tunnel syndrome has increased dramatically over the past 20 years. Carpal tunnel syndrome is a repetitive strain industry that results in mild numbness, clumsiness, burning, tingling (pins and needles) and pain in the thumb and first three fingers. In severe cases, the pain may radiate to the arm and even the shoulder.
In carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), the median nerve, which controls the thumb muscles and sensation in the thumb, palm and first three fingers, is compressed or injured from swelling, pressure from bone spurs, diabetes, dislocation or fracture, arthritis, tendonitis, and repetitive, continuous, rapid motion of the fingers. For the latter cause, CTS is first treated by resting from the repetitive action. If symptoms improve, modifications can be made such as using an ergonomically designed keyboard or rotating tasks so the length of time spent at the repetitive action is minimized and alternated with other motion.
TMJ (temperomandibular joint) syndrome is a painful condition caused by a dysfunction of the joint that connects the temporal bones to the lower jawbone. Often, a misalignment combined with jaw clenching can wear out the cartilage causing the bone to rub together rather than smoothly gliding as intended. When this joint does not function properly, pain can radiate from the jaw to the face, neck and shoulder.
TMJ is exacerbated by stress and poor diet. Treatment for TMJ needs to be a multilevel treatment meant to improve diet, relieve stress and limit jaw clenching. Certain foods are more stressful than others such as “junk” foods that are high in sugar or beverages containing caffeine. Jaw clenching will be lessened through stress management and adjusting sleeping position (lying on your back instead of your side or stomach). You may also benefit from a mouth guard designed to protect the teeth and lessen the impact of jaw clenching and teeth grinding throughout the night.
Backaches are very common ailments affecting nearly 80% of adults at one time or another in their lives. Backaches can stem from compressed or herniated disks in the spine, muscle strains and a combination of these. Often times, excessive weight (especially abdominal weight) and improper lifting are to blame.
Sciatica and Piriformis Syndrome affect the sciatic nerve that begins at the sacrum and extends down both legs. In sciatica, the sciatic nerve is not being directly compressed, but the nerve roots at the base of the spine that connect with the sciatic nerve are being compressed. In piriformis syndrome, the piriformis muscle in the buttocks region is directly compressing the sciatic nerve.
Fibromyalgia is a frustrating condition in which chronic pain is severe enough to interfere with a person’s life. The most common areas for pain to be are in your lower back, neck, shoulders, back of the head, upper chest or thighs; but the pain may be elsewhere. The pain is most commonly described as shooting or stabbing as well as burning or throbbing. If you suffer from fibromyalgia, you may benefit from massage.
The causes of fibromyalgia are not well understood, which makes treatment difficult. For some people, anti-anxiety medications or antidepressants are beneficial; however, there can be dangerous side effects. Proper nutritional support, daily walks, hot baths and adequate rest are all recommended to help you manage fibromyalgia; however, even when you try your best to follow these guidelines, you may still need more help.
Tension headaches are the most common type of headache accounting for 90% of all headaches. The pain from a tension headache is constant and it can be diffusely spread throughout one or more areas in the head. You may have pain in your neck and upper back from sore muscles or even dizziness from a tension headache.
The most common causes of tension headaches are anxiety, stress, depression and anger as well as food allergies, poor posture, and improper breathing. Though common OTC pain relievers such as aspirin, ibuprofen or acetaminophen can mask the pain from a tension headache, they carry unwanted side effects if you reach for that bottle too often. Stomach problems and liver damage can occur if OTC pain relievers are used too often.
According to medical experts, low back pain is the second most common reason why people visit their physician, only after visits for cold and flu. If you’ve ever suffered a backache, you know how difficult life can be when simple things like chores, sitting at a desk or even finding a comfortable sleeping position seem impossible. Unfortunately, conventional treatments are not always helpful.
A doctor may prescribe pain medications and anti-inflammatory drugs for your lower back pain or even recommend invasive surgery. Other treatments may involve physical therapy or weight reduction as many cases of lower back pain are attributed to excessive abdominal weight and improper compensation when bending or lifting. It’s imperative that you learn proper lifting methods and perform exercises to strengthen the abdominals thereby reducing the stress on your lower back.
Massage therapy has been found to be effective for alleviating other types of pain, as well.
Reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD), also called complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), is a chronic neurological syndrome in which an injury to nerve or soft tissue does not heal properly and the sympathetic nerve system functions abnormally. The condition results in “severe burning pain, pathological changes in bone and skin, excessive sweating, tissue swelling and extreme sensitivity to touch.”
The goal of treating RSD is to restore sensation, promote normal position, minimize edema, decrease muscle guarding and increase the patient’s ability to live a normal life by performing necessary, daily functions. Treatments include physical therapy and steroid injection. There are times when severe allodynia (extreme pain with stimuli that normally wouldn’t cause pain; i.e. a light touch from even a strand of hair) may prevent manual physical therapy treatment or the insertion of a needle for necessary steroid injections.
End stage cancer is an incredibly difficult time for the patient and loved ones. The best we can possibly do is continue to offer support and treatment for the symptoms of cancer so that the person will continue to live as good a life as possible for however long that may be.
In offering palliative care (care focused on alleviating symptoms rather than curing the disease) involves aiding the patient with all needs including physical, emotional, mental and spiritual support. Pain medications are usually used as well as anything necessary to treat infections and edema.
More than 25 million people in the US suffer from migraines. Migraine headaches may occur as little as a few times a year to as many as a few times a week. During a migraine headache, the pain can be so severe and literally blinding that the person may be immobilized. Migraines are often brought on by stress, poor sleep, poor diet, food allergies, low blood sugar, lack of exercise, hormonal changes and other factors.
Once thought to be caused by vascular constriction of the blood vessels in the brain, migraines are now thought to be caused by chemical imbalances in the brain that leads to inflammation of the blood vessels in the meninges (the tissues that cover the brain). When serotonin levels drop, the inflammation response is triggered leading to a migraine headache.
Alleviating Stress and Anxiety
Premature birth is a stressful situation for parents and child. So many things about preemie care seem frightening: the tubes, the incubators, the constant poking and prodding with medical instruments. One treatment, however, that is proving to be extremely beneficial is the miraculous power of massage for preterm infants.
Premature infants have many hurdles to overcome, but the two most common are strengthening the lungs and overcoming nutrition issues. When a preterm infant begins to gain weight, there are many sighs of relief, because this is always a good sign that things will progress positively for the baby.
If you suffer from acute anxiety (panic attacks) or chronic anxiety (constant feelings of uneasiness and nervousness), you may not be living the life you deserve. Anxiety disorders can interfere with your life and cause other symptoms. You may avoid social events or traveling. It may become difficult to work and literally function in normal settings. Eventually, chronic anxiety may result in additional physical symptoms such as aches, pain, depression, insomnia, lowered libido and increased PMS.
Acute and chronic anxiety may result from an imbalance in brain chemistry. The brain reacts to a false emergency signal which triggers the release of hormones responsible for the fight or flight response. In addition, lower levels of serotonin make it more difficult for the person to relax.
Are you stressed? Most of us are, but if you are not finding ways to manage stress, it can begin to affect your health. More and more credence is being given to the effects of stress on overall health. We’ve known for a long time that stress plays a role in cardiovascular diseases such as high blood pressure. What we’re starting to realize now is that stress has an effect on virtually every bodily function, and chronic stress has a direct effect on our overall health and well-being.
The good old fight or flight reaction that takes place in the body as a response to stress no longer serves a very useful purpose in most cases. Once used by our ancestors to flee predators, the non-physical action that we take following a stressful situation causes the body to continue to produce more cortisol.
One third of American adults are estimated to have high blood pressure (hypertension). High blood pressure can lead to a number of medical conditions including heart attack (myocardial infarction) and stroke. The causes of high blood pressure are not completely understood, but we know that a variety of factors not only increase the risk of developing high blood pressure but also continue to exacerbate the problem.
Age, race, sex and heredity are uncontrollable factors; however, there are many controllable factors including living a healthy lifestyle (eating properly and avoiding risk factors such as using tobacco or excessive alcohol), exercising regularly and learning how to manage stress effectively.
Pregnancy is a beautiful time in a woman’s life, yet it is also stressful — both physically and emotionally. The anticipation of bringing a child into the world is exciting, but with it comes many worries and anxiety.
Plus, the physical demands that are placed on a woman’s body during pregnancy are immense. In the early months, nausea and fatigue can be taxing. Later, the weight of the baby and the crowding of abdominal organs can cause leg cramps, lower back pain and digestive issues.
If you or someone you know is expecting, regular massages or classes to teach partner massage can help alleviate some of the stressors during pregnancy ensuring a more beautiful journey for mom and baby.
General Benefits of Massage
As defined by the American Massage Therapy Association, a trigger point is an “irritated area in muscle fibers that when compressed may elicit pain or a twitching response.”1 Trigger point therapy serves to relieve these trigger points that are thought to cause referred pain in other areas of the body through applying pressure to the trigger points which may break the spasms and the resulting pain.
The trigger point theory is controversial with one side supporting the idea that pain from previously unknown sources may be due to these trigger points that stiffen the muscle and decrease the range of motion; whereas the other side purports that concentrating on a trigger point may result in a misdiagnosis of another cause.
Massage is often thought of as a luxurious spa treatment meant for sheer pleasure, but massage has actually been proven to be beneficial for a number of medical conditions as an alternative or complimentary therapy. The Touch Research Institute highlights the following conditions as being improved through massage in massage therapy studies.1
Aggression: Massage has been shown to lessen the aggressive tendencies of adolescents exhibiting this type of behavior.