Chiropractors: Helping Chronic Pain Without Opioids or Other Medications

The opioid epidemic has slowly overtaken America. What started out as a method of treating patients with chronic pain has now become a menace. People are addicted, even though they may no longer inpain, and turning to street drugs in order to feed their habits. Police officers and other first responders carry opioid overdose reversal drugs on them, despite public outcry, and things just seem to be getting worse. People with actual chronic pain, such as the type that stems from arthritis, either can no longer get the medications that make their lives bearable, or they are forced into pain management and physical therapy. The end result is a major problem that seems to have very little in the way of a solution – until you consider chiropractic care.

Chiropractors Treat Pain and Inflammation

Many people with chronic pain conditions never think of going to a chiropractor. It just doesn’t dawn on them that these medical specialists can do more than just realign the spine. This is due to the fact the profession is still misunderstood. In reality, a chiropractor can relieve chronic pain and inflammation without the help of any drugs. They are trained in the fine art of pain relief, and yes, realignments are a major part of this. However, there are other factors at play, most of which a chiropractor will inform you of in order to help with your arthritis and other types of pain.

Whole Body Wellness Not Medications

The first time that you go to a chiropractor, they will sit down and ask you a lot of questions. Some of them may seem unusual, but it’s important for the practitioner to know whether or not you’ve been under a lot of stress or how much sleep you get each night. They need to know what types of food you eat. Of course, many of these questions will be about the pain that you’re in, and x-rays may possibly be taken if medically necessary in order to further diagnose any issues. Basically, before your chosen chiropractor even attempts to relieve your pain, they will be able to discern any and all of the potential causes – beyond basic arthritis and inflammation.

Why does this matter? Well, your pain might be caused by the breakdown of your cartilage, but it might be exacerbated by a lack of sleep or a lot of stress. Certain foods can wreak havoc on your system, making your inflammation worse. A chiropractor looks at your overall wellness in order to find additional solutions to your pain. They might suggest cutting certain foods and beverages out of your system or even getting more sleep at night. If stress is an issue, they might have some good solutions and suggestions. By getting to every root cause of your pain, a chiropractor is more likely to help prevent it in the future. Of course, a realignment is a part of this, but you’ll feel better overall once you make those suggested lifestyle changes. Compare this to a pain management physician, who simply provides medications.

Deconditioning Yourself and Helping Your Pain

People, in general, are conditioned to take medications to help with their problems. Pain? “Here, take pain medication.” However, there’s much more to it than that. The pain might be caused by a diet full of foods that simply aren’t good for you, a lack of exercise, or far too much stress. By making overall lifestyle changes recommended by a chiropractor, you’re deconditioning yourself from quick fixes and setting the scene for some real pain relief. No addictive medications required.

What Does the VA’s Whole Health Model Say About the Future of Chronic Pain Treatment?

Chronic pain doesn’t get as much attention as some high-profile diseases, but it affects more than 50 million Americans every year according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC.) Chronic pain can have impact far beyond the physical pain it causes, impacting your ability to work, sleep, and enjoy personal time with your family and friends.

Whole Health is a new initiative from the VA that looks at chronic pain in a holistic way. By understanding the impact that chronic pain can have, it hopes to provide much-needed relief – and may point the way forward for others in the medical field to treat chronic pain.

What is the Whole Health Model?

The goal of the Whole Health Model is to evaluate each patient and provide a “personalized and patient-driven experience” that’s designed to help an individual coping with chronic pain to live the best, most productive life possible.

Some of the services that Whole Health includes are:

  • Yoga classes
  • Tai chi classes
  • Diet and nutrition classes
  • Mindfulness classes
  • Acupuncture treatments
  • Spinal manipulation

In other words, the primary goal is to provide non-pharmaceutical and non-invasive ways for patients to manage their pain.

The VA offers group classes that encourage congregation and socialization, both of which can help people cope with chronic pain. There’s evidence to show that pain is exacerbated by loneliness and depression.

How Can Whole Health Help Non-Veterans?

While the Whole Health Model is specifically for United States military veterans, the program itself offers a roadmap for healthcare professionals who treat chronic pain.

In the world of chiropractic, the idea of finding non-pharmacological and non-surgical ways of reducing and managing chronic pain is not new. In fact, it’s the driving philosophy behind what we do.

However, some mainstream physicians still default to prescribing pain medication and recommending surgery instead of attempting less invasive methods of pain management first.

The hope is that the doctors in the VA who are in a position to see the beneficial effects of Yoga, tai chi, mindfulness training, and spinal manipulations will spread the word to their colleagues outside of the VA. If they do, then the Whole Health Model could become the gold standard for how we treat chronic pain going forward.

Because chronic pain affects so many people in the United States and around the world, it’s essential that we find effective ways to treat it. That’s especially true when you consider how the over-prescription of opioid pain medications have led to the huge opioid addiction problem that is currently impacting many people around the country. Ultimately, pain medicine only treats the symptom of pain without addressing the underlying issues causing it.

Conclusion

The VA’s Whole Health program offers hope to military veterans who need practical, non-invasive methods to manage their physical pain. In the future, it may also provide guidance to doctors operating outside the VA who are struggling to find ways to help their patients who live with chronic pain every day.

The Results Are In – Chiropractors Are Becoming More Popular

In the past, chiropractors were overlooked by people with aches and pains. They went to traditional doctors and treated their back and neck pain with plenty of over the counter and prescription medications. This is no longer the case. A recent study has shown that many people in the United States now believe that a chiropractor can treat their pain without the involvement of these medications. As a result, more and more are making appointments with the chiropractors located near them. What are the reasons behind this change? We’ll get into them below.

People Are Moving Away From Pain Medications

After years of doctors giving prescription pain medication to patients for even the slightest ache or pain, people are now seeking out alternative methods of pain relief. This includes seeing chiropractors since they can perform physical manipulations that are designed in order to make you feel better without having to take a pill. The heroin and opioid epidemic, which has been published in every news source, is the major reason for this. Everyone knows just how addictive those medications are, and now they want to avoid having to take them.

On top of this, over the counter pain medications aren’t any better for you. If you take them too much, they can lead to stomach ulcers and internal bleeding-based problems. Plus, they wear off quickly and don’t even relieve many types of pain. As a result, people end up hurting even more. Many are now realizing that instead of reaching for these medications, no matter how accessible they are, an alternative method is needed – they have to seek out the source of the pain and deal with it properly.
This leads to them reaching out to chiropractors, who take x-rays, perform examinations, ask plenty of questions, and then come up with a holistic method of treating that pain, no medication required.

Chiropractors Do More than Spinal Manipulations

Not only do chiropractors physically manipulate your body in order to relieve your pain, but they also do things like help you adjust your diet and your stress levels. In some cases, your pain may stem from these things. For example, did you know that when you’re stressed out, you tend to contract your body, simply because you’re tensed up? Or that something in your diet, such as an overabundance of sweet or salty snacks, can cause you to feel back pain? Your chiropractor understands how your whole system works. They can get to the root cause of your pain, even if it’s not something that’s overly physical. As a result, you’ll start feeling better and won’t need to take any medication.

As you can see, there’s a reason why over half of all American adults say that they’ve seen a chiropractor – these specialists know how to treat and relieve your pain without making you reliant on any type of medication. They’ll get to the main source and find ways to help you change your life for the better.

Chiropractic Care and Migraine Relief

Migraine headaches are debilitating. They can lead to symptoms of a pounding headache, dizziness, nausea, and the inability to think clearly. Some migraine sufferers find it hard to put words on a page, make a decision, or do much other than linger in a dark room until the pain goes away. In other words, a migraine can really ruin your day. Although relief can sometimes be found in certain medications or lifestyle changes, one of the best things that you can do is see a chiropractor. Yes, many chiropractors are able to do what even the strongest pain medication cannot – stop your migraine in its tracks.

What Exactly Is A Migraine?

You may have been suffering from migraines for years without realizing what they really are. You probably just refer them as “bad headaches” or even think that you have a tension headache instead. The main difference is that a tension headache encompasses the whole head. You’ll feel as though your head is in a vice. A migraine only affects one side at a time. You might have pain on the left side of your head one day, and then a repeat of that same intense pounding on the right side the next day. These are migraine headaches. Once you know that you’ve had one, you won’t mistake it for anything else ever again.

Migraine headaches tend to last anywhere from several hours to several days. More females get them than males. It’s possible for a migraine to come on at night and wake you up. The main symptoms include the aforementioned pain on one side of the head, nausea, vomiting, horrendous pain, visual sensitivity, auditory sensitivity, and the inability to think clearly. Many people who have migraines end up sitting or lying in a quiet, dark room, in order to get away from painful stimuli.

Are You A Migraine Sufferer?

There’s a big difference between someone who had a migraine one time and someone who suffers from them regularly. If you’ve had a migraine, just as described above, at least on five separate occasions, no matter how far apart, then you’re a migraine sufferer. You have to have at least two of the symptoms described above during each instance. Although taking medication can stop or at least lessen your migraine symptoms, there’s a better solution: your local chiropractor.

How a Chiropractor Can Help

Your local chiropractor can treat your migraines. The first step involves an examination and some x-rays. This will help your chiropractor determine whether or not there are any misalignments in your neck and spine that are causing the headaches. If he or she sees any, a spinal adjustment will be made to relieve that pressure or get rid of the stress. On top of this, a spinal adjustment can improve blood flow in that area, making your pain less intense. There might be some additional follow-up advice included in your treatment as well, such as nutritional advice or lifestyle suggestions, in order to keep the pain from coming back.

Relieve Sciatic Pain with these 5 Natural Ways

Sciatic pain is moderate to severe nerve pain that can run from the buttocks down the legs. It is very common, with more than 3 million cases in the United States each year. Thankfully, chiropractic care can help relieve sciatic pain naturally and gently. Studies have shown that, unlike medications or surgery, chiropractic medicine can be useful in treating sciatic pain without harmful or costly side effects. With that said, the body is a complex system, and all pain relief takes time. Restoration and relief of pain won’t come quickly, but remaining committed to chiropractic care can help in the long term, but what about now? How can you get relief now?

Your chiropractor understands and is here to help. There are so many complementary therapies you can explore while working with your chiropractor to release your sciatic pain. Remember to keep an open mind, and that each body will respond differently to the methods outlined below. It’s tough living with nerve pain, but by learning more about your body, you’ll be able to find out what therapies
work for you!

Here are five all-natural ways you can help reduce your sciatic pain now:

Acupuncture

Originating in Ancient China, acupuncture has gained popularity in the United States for the past few years and has been proven to help with muscle injuries and pain. The way it works is by tapping into our body’s “meridians” or energy fields. By using needles, your provider will stimulate these meridians and improve the healing process, reducing pain. In a study involving acupuncture for the treatment of sciatica, it was found that acupuncture has a significant effect on pain relief compared to two other groups that were using medication.

Stretching and Yoga

Sciatica and exercise are not the best of friends, and strenuous activity can worsen or trigger pain. Therefore, it might seem best just to relax, but inactivity can also wreak havoc on not only your sciatic nerve but the rest of your body. Yoga and stretching are gentle exercises that lengthen your spine, release tense muscles, reduce inflammation, and strengthen the core. You might be hesitant to give it a try, but studies show yoga is safe and effective for relieving sciatic pain!

An Anti-Inflammatory Diet

Inflammation is the leading cause of sciatic nerve pain and issues but can be reduced by making diet changes to fight and lower inflammation in the body. A diet that is high in trans-fats, cholesterol, and processed sugars will cause a lot of swelling. Replacing these dietary choices with natural and organic food will promote a body free of inflammation. Some delicious anti-inflammatory foods to try are green tea, blueberries, and fresh ginger.

Heat and Cold Therapies

Heat and cold can work wonders on sciatic pain when used correctly. Heat can release tight muscles and dull pain away. Cold therapies slow blood flow and help reduce the symptoms of inflammation. Consult your chiropractor on which treatment is better for you, or if you should use both.

Epsom Salt Soaks

Epsom baths have been used for decades to restore and heal the body. When combined with warm water, the salts will draw out toxins, increase circulation, and reduce inflammation and pain.

Hip, Knee, Ankle Chiropractic Care

Pain in the lower extremities, like your hips, knees, and ankles, are common physical ailments for which chiropractic care is typically sought out. These pains can be caused by injury, overexertion, or simple wear and tear from repetitive movements that break down the soft and hard tissues in your joints. Hips, knees, and ankles are the most frequent areas for pain, with almost 7 million individuals in the United States living with a hip or knee replacement in 2015. Completing surgery to fix these issues is expensive and time-consuming. There are quite a few less invasive methods to explore that can help with lower extremity pain, like chiropractic care.

Hip Pain

The hips contain important muscles that are involved in critical movements of your body. Inflammation or injury to the area can express itself in sharp or dull pain or even numbness and tingling. These aches and pains are symptoms of conditions like sciatica -nerve pain that goes from your buttocks to the legs); bursitis – joint pain associated with burning and swelling; and inflammatory-related strains and arthritis. All of these conditions can be treated with chiropractic care!

Knee Pain

Your knees contain many different elements that can be injured, such as muscles, tendons, ligaments, and cartilage. The knee is one of the most commonly injured joints of the body, but can also be helped with chiropractic therapy. Knee pain can be sharp or dull but will vary based on the cause. Frequent conditions that cause symptoms are bursitis, tendonitis (inflamed tendons), degenerative arthritis, strains (Meniscus, ACL, MCL), and runner's knee (outside and front knee pain).

Ankle Pain

Ankle and foot pain are quite often related to a strain and can even make it painful to walk around your house. Other offenders could be Achilles tendonitis (pain in the heel and back of the ankle related to inflammation of the Achilles tendon), plantar fasciitis (sharp pain near the heel), heel spurs, and shin splints (pain radiating from the shin to the ankle and foot)

How Can Chiropractic Care Help My Lower Extremity Pain?

If you are experiencing pain in your lower extremities like your hips, knees, and ankles, a chiropractor can help create a plan tailored to your individual needs to not only find the cause of your pain but treat it. Chiropractors are experts on the movement and structure of the body. By using a variety of chiropractic manipulations and modalities, your chiropractic physician can improve your range of motion, erase pain, and restore function to your joints. The first step is to schedule an appointment with your chiropractor for a full assessment and individualized plan of care.

Brace Options for Lower Extremity Pain

Wearing a brace as a treatment for pain is a safe, efficient, and clinically proven therapy that could be complementary to your chiropractic care as determined by your chiropractic doctor. A variety of brace options can be worn such as knee or ankle brace. Bracing can help athletes protect their joints while still enjoying their sport. Each brace can be adjusted to fit your life and provide the stabilization you need to reduce pain in your body.

Get back to how life was before your lower extremity pain and schedule your chiropractic appointment today!

Six Ways to Keep Your Holidays Healthy and Fun!

When it comes to eating healthy, holidays are the worst time even to try. With family get-together caulked-full of calories, to eating fast food while shopping, the months of November and December are some of the hardest of healthy-living. No matter how discouraging it seems, don’t totally kick nutrition out the door this year – we’ve put together a list of six simple ways that you can enjoy the holiday season without completely giving up.

  1. Trick Your Brain. While you may head to the table ready to eat the entire turkey, you’re really not as hungry as you think. Before you load a huge plate down with food, consider taking a smaller plate and just putting a lot of food on it. The smaller plate will seem like it has a ton of food while actually sporting only half the calories of a regular- sized plate. You can do the same thing with drinks by using tall glasses that hold fewer
    ounces. Your mind thinks you’ve had the regular amount, and it will pass the news on to your stomach!
  2. Get Some Sleep! Yes, the holidays are stressful, and there doesn’t seem to be time enough to think about napping, but it’s important to get a full seven-hours sleep a day. The less you sleep, the more you eat, and calorie-loaded foods will be more attractive when you’re tired.
  3. Eat Before the Meal. It sounds crazy, but you might consider eating before you head off to the big meal. Healthy foods such as fruits and veggies can help calm your appetite and keep you from totally stuffing your face at the dinner.
  4. Take Time to Chew. Sometimes, eating at family get-togethers can become a race to see who can pack in the most food the fastest. Aunt Edith’s famous chocolate pie? Sure I’ll take another slice…just like me woof this one down first! Take time actually to enjoy your meal by chewing slowly. Not only will this give your food time to digest, but it’s another trick that makes you feel stuffed even when you’re not.
  5. Make Good Choices. Strangely enough, the foods that you put on your plate first are the ones you will eat the most of. Before you grab for the macaroni and cheese, head for the low-calorie veggie tray first. It may not seem like the most attractive food, but your waistline will thank you!
  6. Add Some Nutrition to the Meal. If you’re going to eat with friends or family, talk to the host about bringing along a healthy dish. Most chefs are happy to have something extra at the meal and would welcome a low-calorie dish that goes along with what they are serving. While you can still enjoy the other food, your healthy dish will ensure you that there is something nutritious available for your main course.

Yes, the holidays bring along a lot of festive meals and some very unhealthy eating choices; however, you don’t have to entirely give up on your plans to get in shape. By using the six tips listed above, you can continue to enjoy the fun while staying on course for a healthier new year!

Are Sedentary Lifestyles Leading to More Back Pain?

We commonly associate back pain with injuries – but are we right to do so? While it’s certainly true that people can injure their backs lifting heavy objects or in accidents, evidence is mounting that sitting still
could be even worse for your back than previously realized.

What Does Sitting Have to Do with Back Pain?
Sitting down seems to be a benign activity, but it’s not. As we grow increasingly attached to our computers, tablets, and smart phones, we also spend less time moving our bodies. And it turns out that all that sitting has affected our health. People who move around a lot tend to have better posture than people who don’t. Good posture relies on muscle tone and fitness. People who have a low percentage of muscle in their bodies may lack the strength to keep their backs straight while they sit. The fact that we spend so much of our time hunched over electronic devices hasn’t helped, either. In fact, 2008 marked the coining of a new phrase to describe the wear and tear caused by this phenomenon. It’s called Text Neck, and it could be turning into an epidemic. The human head weighs 12 pounds, but when we curve our necks downward to peer at a screen, the pressure on our spines increases dramatically. Over time, repeated stress on the cervical spine can lead to spinal degeneration and chronic pain.

The Solution is Simple

The solution to our sedentary problem is a simple one. Here are some tips to help you reduce the back pain caused by sitting

  1. Sit up straight with your back against your seat, your shoulders touching the backrest, and your knees lower than your hips. Your feet should be flat on the ground and your elbows should be at a comfortable angle.
  2. Align your computer screen so it is even with your eyebrows. This position ensures that you won’t have to strain your neck or spine to look at the screen.
  3. Take frequent breaks. When you sit for hours at a time, your spine compresses and pain may be the result. By standing up, stretching, or even walking around, you give your back a break.
  4. Get more exercise. You don’t have to exercise every day, but even walking or Yoga can help elongate your spine and reduce pain.

We all have to sit sometimes, but if you sit too much your spine may end up paying the price. Using these simple tips can help you keep your spine in the proper alignment and reduce the risk that you’ll end up with a chronic pain problem.

How Your Chiropractor Can Treat Carpal Tunnel Pain

Most of us have heard of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.  Since the use of home computers has become the norm, more and more people find they are suffering from this condition on one level or another.  

The carpal tunnel is a band of fibrous tissue located on the front side of the wrist. It contains the blood vessels, nerves, and tendons that are required for the hand to function properly. The Syndrome is caused by inflammation or damage to the tissues, or when pressure on the area constricts the arteries and nerves. The most common symptoms of this repetitive stress injury include tingling, numbness, pain in the wrists or hands and a weakening in the middle or index fingers, and thumb.

While most people think of chiropractic treatments as being designed for neck and back problems, it is, in fact, a whole-body wellness practice.  This makes it an effective and non-invasive way to treat Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

Chiropractic Treatments for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

There are four primary ways that chiropractors treat Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. These common treatments have shown to be very effective in treating the condition as a whole.

Adjustments

It all comes back to the spine.  When not in alignment, there are a number of issues that can occur, including Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Your chiropractor will work to realign the spine to its correct position. Then, if needed, make adjustments to other areas of the body being affected,  like the arms and wrists.

Ultrasound Therapy

Not just for seeing your baby for the first time, this technology is also used by chiropractors for the purpose of treating chiropractic conditions.  The device creates focused sound waves that penetrate deep into the body’s tissues. The effects include a reduction of inflammation and pain and the relaxation of the muscles. This treatment may be used singularly or in conjunction with other chiropractic treatments.

Acupuncture

Several studies have shown that this ancient practice can alleviate Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and heal the injured nerves.  Resulting nerve conduction studies and ultrasonic imaging tests have been conclusive to show acupuncture does work to heal the nerves. Your Chiropractor will be able to advise you on whether this option is right for you.

Wrist Supports

These supports are designed to keep the wrist properly aligned with the rest of the arm, resulting in the reduction of compression due to excess pressure. Most often used as a preventative treatment, they are typically used by people whose work involves the harmful repetitive movements that can cause issues to begin. Use can also be in conjunction with regular chiropractic treatments as the ones mentioned above to aid in preventing the condition to develop.

There are also exercises and dietary habits that can assist.  Your Chiropractor may suggest one or more in an effort to keep you from experiencing Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and other conditions. Proper treatment from a professional can result in relief of symptoms and promote healing without the use of medications or surgery.

Mindful Holidays in River North

ReavesBlogHeader

Mindful Holidays…


Turkey, pumpkin pie, cookies and holiday parties stacked on top of one another. When we’re deep in the holiday season it’s easy to put your healthy lifestyle off to the side; eating whatever you and skipping gym days. Often times this leads to intense feelings of guilty new year resolutions to lose the weight and get back into shape and on track. For many this is a cycle that repeats yearly.

How about this year we get a head start and practice mindfulness and moderation creating balance of fun and still keeping our daily habits and routine in check.

  • Maybe limit to one or two cookies, a special one that is very much a treat this time of year as opposed to a chocolate chip that is available all year.
  • Limit drinks at the work party to two, drinking plenty water in between.
  • Be sure to schedule your gym time in your calendar and schedule everything else around it – Make yourself just as important as your friends, family and colleagues.

The more indulging and procrastination, the harder and longer it takes to get reset back to your normal, you can still enjoy the holidays in moderation and feel ahead of the game come the new year.

 

Reaves Chiropractic