A recent study conducted at the Center on an Aging Society at Georgetown University found that back pain is the most common cause of workdays lost in the US. It is the 2nd most common cause of visits to the doctor’s office and experts estimate that 80% of the population will have a back pain issue at some point in their lives. Not only are we a society in pain, but when it gets bad enough we lose work, money, and then have to pay in an attempt to relieve the pain. Many of us are currently facing these problems and are met with the question of how do I get better and how do I decrease the likelihood that the pain will return. In order to determine the best way to answer these questions, we must first understand what is causing the pain from a structural and physiological standpoint.
Webster’s dictionary defines pain as “the physical feeling caused by disease, injury, or something that hurts the body.” So how do our bodies interpret these “hurts.” What it boils down to is the irritation of nerves. Nerves form an extensive meshwork that traverses every square inch of our bodies and allows our brain to interpret our environment. Nerves can be irritated either by direct trauma or the processes of inflammation. Inflammation is a cellular/chemical storm that takes place at the site of pain to conduct the healing process. This brings us to the standard pain theory diagram illustrated in figure 1.
Depression is a huge public health issue, and treatment ranges from pet therapy to heavy-dose medication. A research report published by the American Journal of Psychiatry indicates that massage may help.
While massage can ease stress and tension and may have emotional benefits, studies of the use of massage therapy in depressed patients were lacking.
“Overall, the studies showed that massage therapy had “potentially significant effects” in alleviating symptoms of depression” (American Journal of Psychiatry, March 2010)
Most of us proud tech geeks in Silicon Valley don’t let a day pass without using some gadget to keep up with a fast-paced world. While our hyper-connectedness can be exciting, it also challenges our body and mind to continue operating at a dizzying pace.
Just like most of our technology, our uber-connected body technology runs 24/7 and occassionally needs a reboot.
Like any computer hardware, occasionally our brain, and our muscles, need to be powered down so that they can reset and function optimally.
In any given year, one in 10 (10%) of men and women in the US experience lower back pain. Some just deal with it, others are more proactive.
Lower back pain is one of the top reasons people seek medical attention in the U.S., and it is notoriously tough to treat. Most lower back pain comes from injury or overuse of muscles, ligaments and joints. Less common are pressure on nerve roots, compression fractures and infections.
Studies show very few medical therapies, from medications to injections to surgeries, reliably relieve it, and some can aggravate the problem. A new study randomly assigned 400 adults with moderate-to-severe low back pain lasting for at least three months to either weekly whole-body massages for relaxation, weekly massages that focused on specific muscle problems around the lower back and hips, or usual care (“control group”). Continue reading “Relieving Lower Back Pain”
Essential oil produced from the blue gum eucalyptus tree is well recognized for it’s therapeutic properties. It’s an antibacterial, antiviral, and deodorant. It clears mucus from the lungs (it’s used in most vapor rubs), and, when applied directly (carefully) to the skin, can relieve rheumatic, arthritic, and other types of pain.
Typically, eucalyptus oils are extracted from leaves and diluted for application directly to the skin or to be inhaled.
Eucalyptus oil should not be taken by mouth or applied to the skin full-strength. It must be diluted for safety. The diluted oil is taken by mouth for pain and swelling (inflammation) of respiratory tract mucous membranes, coughs, bronchitis, sinus pain and inflammation, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and respiratory infections.
Can a change in diet help ease aches and discomfort? Probably.
Fibromyalgia symptoms include muscle pain, fatigue, sleep disturbance, depression and more. While treatment with medicines can relieve some symptoms, many say that following a throughful diet can help with the rest, or even replace medicines over time.
And research shows that even if you don’t have Fibromyalgia, you may reduce similar symptoms with some small changes in diet. Check out these five food rules that may help you keep your body balanced.
1. Cut back on the caffeine. There is pretty good research that stimulants like caffeine are linked to temporary imbalance of brain chemicals, some of those that can deprive you of sleep or cause fatigue. Caffeine may give you a quick boost, but it’s borrowing again future energy reserves.
2. Eat fresh. Eating preservative and additive-free foods can ease fibromyalgia symptoms (like irritable bowel syndrome) in increase the health of your skin and body tissues.
R.I.C.E. is an acronym referring to a method for handling sprains, strains, or other soft tissue injuries. The elements of RICE – Rest, Ice, Compress, Elevate – are mostly common sense, but there are some specific tips that help make each of these more effective. We commonly recommend RICE treatments along with a massage therapy treatment for aftercare, preventative therapy, and to speed healing and recovery after an injury. Here’s the scoop…
R (Rest): Chill out, especially the first 24-48 hours after an injury. Rest the body part and give the muscle tissues a chance to begin healing. You might think that “walking it off” makes sense, but it doesn’t. Many injuries result from micro or macro tears in muscle and fascial tissues, or inflammation of joints, tendons, and ligaments. ALL of those body parts benefit from a little time to recover before they’re put to use again.
Balance. It’s being able to stand steadily on one foot or walk without stumbling – or it’s the leveling of activity between your work life and home life. Regardless of how you think of balance, most of us, at some time in our life are out of balance.
You’ve let circumstances and choices drive you to accept increased responsibility at work, for example, at the expense of family time. Or you’ve over-committed to activities that take you away from paying attention to our own self-care. Being out of balance causes stress that can affect your physical and emotional wellbeing. Over time this can have serious and mostly negative consequences on your health, your relationships and your work life.
Know this. Whether you are a casual runner or a full-on triathlete, you need to stretch. Even though the research seems confusing, the results don’t lie.
Running makes your legs strong, toned, and, often, tight. Every step you take forces your quads, hamstrings, calves, and hips to flex and extend over and over to propel you down the road. As they tire, the muscles and tendons can develop imbalances, scar tissue, and tension, slowing you down and increasing the likelihood for common overuse injuries like IT Band syndrome, and Achilles tendonitis. You’ve probably read many difference opinions about stretching before and after your run. There are two things that are pretty plain:
1. Ask a runner who stretches and they’ll tell you it helps them be more flexible, have more endurance, and feel better after the run.
If you’ve got a headache, it could be coming from your shoulders.
Muscles make up, on average, between 36-42% of your body weight. With that much mass, they have a significant impact on your health. When all is in working order, muscles allow you to perform normal activities with ease. When your muscles experience trigger points (also known as “muscle knots”), you can experience pain, stiffness, tension, a loss in your range of motion and sometimes severe limitations of your normal function.
Trigger points are an extremely common cause of pain. There are more than 600 potential trigger points possible in human muscles. Light pressure to active trigger points reproduces the pain and gives the therapist a clue as to where to look for the cause. Trigger points have a special property called referred pain. Referred pain means that a trigger point in one muscle can actually create pain in another area.
Unless you’ve been injured, your sore neck most likely comes from tightness in muscles created by postural issues related to the position of your head. Your shoulders are rolled forward and your head is forward.
So why is your neck sore? Simply put, your neck muscles are in a constant battle to keep your head from rolling off the top of your spine. Some of the muscles in the battle are attached to the top of your shoulder blades, dragging your shoulders up. Elevated shoulders cause your pectoral muscles to contract and try to help manage the weight shift. The muscles between your spine and shoulder blade (the rhomboids) usually just form knots to try to compensate. In front, your droopy head causes you to have to raise your head to keep your eyes level, putting more stress on the disks in your spine. In short, it’s a mess.