Trigger points in the trapezius muscle.

The trapezius muscle is a large diamond shaped muscle located in your back. This muscle is often overloaded due to poor sitting posture or excessive exercise. When this occurs trigger points will form. These points can cause back, neck, and shoulder pain. Trigger points in the upper traps are a leading cause of headache.

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Fibromyalgia Diet?

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Folks suffering with fibromyalgia (FM) commonly complain that certain foods can make their symptoms worse. How common is this? One study reported 42% of FM patients found that certain foods worsened their symptoms!

Because FM affects each person differently, there is no ONE FM diet or, “…one size fits all” when it comes to eating “right” for FM. Patients with FM usually find out by trial and error which foods work vs. those that consistently don’t. However, remembering which foods do what can be a challenge so FIRST, make a three column FOOD LOG with the following headings: BETTER, NO CHANGE, WORSE. This will allow you to QUICKLY review the list as a memory refresher.

According to Dr. Ginevra Liptan, medical director of the Frida Center for Fibromyalgia (Portland, OR) and author of Figuring Out Fibromyalgia: Current Science and the Most Effective Treatments, there are some common trends she’s observed through treating FM patients. Here are some of her recommendations:

PAY ATTENTION TO HOW FOOD MAKES YOU FEEL: It is quite common to have “sensitivities” to certain foods, but this is highly variable from person to person. Examples of problematic foods/ingredients include: MSG (commonly used in Chinese food), other preservatives, eggs, gluten, and dairy. Dr. Liptan HIGHLY recommends the food journal approach! She also recommends including a note about the type of symptoms noticed with each “WORSE” food, as symptoms can vary significantly.

ELIMINATE CERTAIN FOODS: If you suspect a certain food may be problematic, try an elimination challenge diet. That means STOP eating that food for six to eight weeks and then ADD it back into your diet and see how you feel. Remember, FM sufferers frequently have irritable bowel syndrome, also known as IBS, and this approach can be REALLY HELPFUL! Food allergies may be part of the problem, and your doctor may refer you for a consult with an allergist and/or a dietician. They will also discuss the “anti-inflammatory diet” with you.

EAT HEALTHY: In general, your diet should emphasize fruits and vegetables and lean protein. Pre-prepare food so you have something “healthy” to reach for rather than a less healthy snack when you’re hungry and tired. Consider “pre-washed” and pre-cut up vegetables; try quinoa rather than pasta. Consume anti-fatigue foods and eat multiple small meals daily vs. one to two large meals. Protein snacks (like a hardboiled egg or oatmeal – GLUTEN FREE) help a lot! Eat breakfast and include protein. Also, GET ENOUGH SLEEP (at least seven to eight hours and be consistent)!

SUPPLEMENTS: Consider a good general multi-vitamin, calcium and magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D3, and Co-Enzyme Q10. There are others, but this represents a great place to start. Remember to check any medication you may be taking with these/any suggestions before taking supplements!

If you, a friend or family member requires care for Fibromyalgia, we sincerely appreciate the trust and confidence shown by choosing our services!

Whiplash; what can I expect?

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Whiplash, or “Whiplash Associated Disorders” or WAD, is the result of a sudden “crack the whip” of the head on the neck due to a slip and fall, sports injury, a violent act, or most commonly, a motor vehicle collision (MVC), particularly a rear-end collision. In describing “what can I expect” after a whiplash injury, one thing is for certain, there are many faces of whiplash, meaning the degree of injury can range from none to catastrophic depending on many factors, some of which are difficult or impossible to identify or calculate. Let’s take a closer look!

Even though the good news is that most people injured in a car crash get better, 10% do not and go on to have chronic pain, of which about half have significant difficulty working and/or doing desired everyday activities. There is a “great debate” as to the way experts describe “chronic whiplash syndrome” (CWS) as well as how these cases should be managed. Some feel there is something PHYSICALLY wrong in the CWS patient, especially if severe neck or head pain persists for more than one year. There is some proof of this as Dr. Nikolai Bogduk from the University of Newcastle in Australia and colleagues have used selective nerve blocks to anesthetize specific joints in the neck to determine exactly where the pain is generated. The patient then has the option to have that nerve cauterized or burned and pain relief can be significant in many cases. Dr. Bogduk and his group admit that these CWS patients have more psychological symptoms, but they feel this is the result of pain, not the CAUSE.

On the other hand, experts such as Dr. Henry Berry from the University of Toronto report the EXACT OPPOSITE. He argues that it’s not JUST the physical injury that has to be dealt with but also the person’s “state of mind.” Dr. Berry states that when stepping back and looking at all the complaints or symptoms from a distance, “…you see these symptoms can be caused by life stress, the illness ‘role’ as a way of adjusting to life, psychiatric disorders, or even [made up by the patient].” Berry contends that it’s important to tell the patient their pain will go away soon, advises NO MORE THAN two weeks of physical therapy, and sends people back to work ASAP.

Oregon Health Sciences University School of Medicine’s Dr. Michael D. Freeman, whose expertise lay in epidemiology and forensic science, disagrees with Dr. Berry stating that the scientific literature clearly supports the physical injury concept and states, “…the idea that it is a psychological disturbance is a myth that has been perpetuated with absolutely no scientific basis at all.” Dr. Freeman states that 45% of people with chronic neck pain were injured in a motor vehicle crash (which includes three million of the six million of those injured in car crashes every year in the United States).

Here’s the “take home” to consider: 1) CWS occurs in about 10% of rear-end collisions; 2) Some doctors feel the pain is physically generated from specific nerves inside the neck joints; 3) Others argue it’s a combination of psychological factors and care should focus on preventing sufferers from becoming chronic patients.

Many studies report that chiropractic offers fast, cost-effective benefits for whiplash-injured patients with faster return to work times and higher levels of patient satisfaction.

We realize you have a choice in whom you consider for your health care provision and we sincerely appreciate your trust in choosing our service for those needs.  If you, a friend, or family member requires care for Whiplash, we would be honored to render our services.

Trigger points in the gluteus Maximus muscle.

The gluteus Maximus muscle makes up your buttock. It’s is a powerful hip extensor and thus used heavily during activities such as walking, running, and climbing up stairs. Most atheletes abuse this muscle. When overworked trigger points will form, and these points will cause pain to be felt in the hip, sacrum and the as well as deep in the gluteal area. Litterally a pain in the butt!! Trigger points won’t release on their own and require interventions like trigger point massage.

Fibromyalgia: A Whole Body Approach

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Fibromyalgia is a complicated disorder that’s difficult to diagnose because it involves multiple body systems. As a result, there are a myriad of factors in the body that can play a role in a patient’s symptoms. That said, it’s best to take a whole body approach when it comes to treating a complex condition like FM, starting with the nervous system.

When a patient presents to a chiropractor, the initial examination will look at the body as a whole and will not be limited the main area of complaint. This includes a postural examination in regards to individual leg length (to see if one is shorter); the height of the pelvis, shoulder, and occiput (head); and a gait assessment to evaluate the function of the foot, ankle, knee, hip/pelvis, spine, and head.

Because the nervous system is housed in the spine and cranium, chiropractors specifically look at how the spine compensates for abnormal function elsewhere in the body. When spinal segmental dysfunction is present, altered neurological function often coincides, which results in the symptoms that drive people to the office.

The benefits of spinal manipulative therapy (SMT)—the primary form of treatment delivered by doctors of chiropractic—have been recognized by all other healthcare professions including medical doctors, physical therapists, and osteopathic physicians. In fact, referring patients to chiropractors for SMT has become very commonplace in the healthcare environment. Research has proven SMT to be a FIRST course of care and highly recommended for MANY complaints, especially low back, mid-back, and neck pain, headaches, and many more!

Because fibromyalgia (FM) involves the WHOLE BODY—hence its definition of “wide spread pain,” chiropractic offers a unique approach because it too benefits the whole body by restoring function to the nervous system. For example, when balance is off due to a short leg (this affects 90% of the population to some degree), it can tilt the pelvis, which then places stress on the spine so that it must curve (scoliosis) to keep the head level. Correcting the short leg with a heel lift can restore balance to the pelvis, take pressure off the spine, and relieve some of a patient’s pain symptoms.

In prior articles, we have looked at the many benefits chiropractic offers the FM patient in addition to SMT and other manual therapies. Some of these include tips for improving sleep, exercise training (very important in managing FM), diet—specifically an anti-inflammatory diet (rich in anti-oxidants)—and supplementation (such as magnesium, malic acid, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D3, Co-enzyme Q10, and more).

Most importantly, studies show that the FM patient is BEST served when a “team” of healthcare professionals work together on behalf of the FM patient. Depending on a patient’s needs, the team can include a doctor of chiropractic, a primary care doctor, a massage therapist, a clinical psychologist, and others.

What can I do for my Fibromyalgia pain?

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Fibromyalgia (FM) is a very common condition affecting approximately ten million Americans (2-4% of the population)—with a ratio of about four women to each man with the disease. Part of the diagnosis and treatment challenge is that many of the complaints associated with FM occur in ALL of us at some point, such as fatigue, generalized whole body aches/pains, non-restorative sleep, depression, anxiety, etc. So what is the difference between the FM sufferer and those without it? Let’s take a look!

The primary distinction between patients with FM and the “rest of us” has to do with the word “chronic.” This term means “…persisting for a long time or constantly recurring; long-standing, long-term.” In fact, the term “fibromyalgia” is described as a complex chronic pain disorder that causes widespread pain and tenderness that may present body wide or migrate around the body. It is also known to “wax and wane over time,” meaning it flares up and down, off and on.

The diagnosis of FM is typically made by eliminating every other possible cause. Hence, after blood tests and x-ray or other imaging, the ABSENCE of other problems helps nail down the diagnosis of “primary fibromyalgia.” Then there is “secondary fibromyalgia,” which is DUE TO a known disorder or condition such as after trauma (like a car accident), rheumatoid arthritis, migraine headache, irritable bowel syndrome, “GERD” (which is heart burn due to reflux), pelvic pain, overactive bladder, tempromandibular joint dysfunction (jaw pain, with or without ringing in the ears), or stress. It’s also often accompanied by anxiety, depression, and/or some other mental health condition.

It should be clearly understood that there is no “cure” for FM. It has also been widely reported in many studies that the BEST management approach for FM is through a TEAM of healthcare providers. This team is frequently made up of primary care doctors, doctors of chiropractic, massage therapists, mental / behavioral specialists, physical therapists, and perhaps others (acupuncturist, nutritionist, stress management specialists, and more).

The “general” treatment approach is typically done with medications, cognitive behavioral therapies (CBT), gentle exercise, and manual therapies. Additionally, patients are encouraged to participate in the healing process via self-management strategies that focus on reducing stress and fatigue, optimizing diet, and developing a consistent sleep habit.

Think of the role of the chiropractor as a strong member of the team. A doctor of chiropractic can offer many of the known methods of managing FM described above, as their training includes diet and nutrition, stress management, exercise training, and ability to provide “whole person care.” Treatments delivered in the chiropractic setting like spinal manipulation, mobilization, and massage offer GREAT relief to FM patients! Again, coordinating care between various providers is the best approach, but you need someone willing and able to do that. A doctor of chiropractic is a great choice!

It is very difficult to manage FM on your own. Let a doctor of chiropractic tailor a treatment plan that is appealing to you and your specific interests. Managing FM is definitely NOT a “…one size fits all” approach like an inhaler is for asthma. Each individual’s situation is too highly unique!

How can I make my WRD less severe?

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Whiplash is really a slang term for the rapid back and forth whipping of the head on the neck, usually associated with motor vehicle accidents. The title “Whiplash Associated Disorders”, or WAD, describes it best because it includes ALL of the MANY signs and symptoms of the disorder.

WAD basically comes in three sizes based on the degree of injury. A WAD I is present when there is pain but no physical examination findings; WAD II occurs when there are exam findings but no neurological loss (numbness or weakness); and WAD III includes loss of neurological function.  There is also a separate WAD level that includes fractures and dislocations (WAD IV).

There are many things that can be done by the patient to assist in the healing process for WAD. The first well-studied recommendation is to “continue with your usual activities.” Try to keep active and not change your routine. The good news is that WAD (especially types I and II) usually resolves without complication, and recovery is even more likely to occur if you don’t deviate much from your routine.

For those whose symptoms are more severe and/or not resolving, mobilization and manipulation of the neck and back are very effective treatment options. In addition to treatments you’d receive in a chiropractic office, there are MANY things you can do at home as “self-help strategies.” Some of these include (“PRICE”):

1)  PROTECT: Though it’s important to continue with your usual daily activities, this is dependent on both the degree of tissue injury and your pain tolerance. So do as many of your usual daily activities as possible, but AVOID those that result in a sharp, lancinating type of pain or those where recovery from the pain is delayed.  Therefore, this category may require modifying your ADLs (activities of daily living). A cervical collar (hard or

soft) should NOT to be used UNLESS you have an unstable injury (fracture or a grade III sprain).

2)  REST: Doing too much is like picking at a cut (which can delay healing) and doing too little can lead to a delayed healing response as well. Staying within reasonable pain boundaries is a good guide.

3) ICE > HEAT: Ice reduces swelling, and your doctor will typically recommend it over applying heat, especially on a recent injury. Heat draws fluids in, and while it may feel good, it can make your symptoms worse.

4)  COMPRESS: We can basically ignore this when referencing neck pain. This pertains better to wrapping an ankle, knee, wrist, or elbow with an elastic compression orthotic or brace.

5)  ELEVATE: This too is meant for the acute stages of an extremity injury like a foot or ankle.

Exercises unique for neck pain in the acute, subacute, and chronic stages of healing are perhaps the most important of the self-help approaches. In the ACUTE phase, try these…

1)  Range of Motion: Once again, stay within “reasonable pain boundaries” as you move your head forwards, backwards, side to side, and rotate left and right. These can be done either with or without LIGHT resistance applied using one or two fingers placed against your head. Limit the repetitions to three slow reps in each direction and emphasize the release of the movement.

2)  Chin/head Glides: Tuck in the chin (think of creating a double or triple chin) followed by poking the chin/head out.

In the SUBACUTE and CHRONIC phases of healing, the importance of strengthening the deep neck flexors cannot be over emphasized. Please refer to last month’s article for a description of this (see #3 of the 6 recommendations listed).