Teachers and Back Pain: How Chiropractic Can Help

Teachers do a lot in a day. They stand for long periods of time, they stoop and bend, pick up children, carry stacks of papers, and sit for long periods while they grade papers. It’s no wonder that so many teachers end up with aching backs! While low back pain is the number one cause of disability worldwide, it’s easy to see how teachers may be more susceptible to experiencing it.

Chiropractic care can help keep teachers standing upright and moving about – as well as other great benefits. A teacher with back pain can’t be as effective as they would be if they weren’t in pain. It makes it harder for them to do their job. Regular chiropractic care can help offset what their body goes through in a day and relieves the pain so they can do what they love – shape young minds.

What Teachers Really Do

Teaching is a tough profession. The typical teacher arrives at school before it starts (usually between 6:30 am and 7:30 am) and they don’t leave until well after the last bell has rung (often between 3:30 pm and 5:30 pm). They grade exams during their vacations and spend hours preparing lessons, quizzes, activities, and tests. In middle and high school, they teach five or six classes a day which means a lot of talking and a lot of standing. Combine the stress with the physical demands of the job and it’s no wonder aching feet and backs are the bane of a teacher’s existence.

The Impact of Teaching on the Body

There have been several studies that explore the effects of the physical demands that are put upon a teacher. One study analyzed the incidence of musculoskeletal disorders in special education teachers and teachers’ aides. It found that the three areas most affected were the wrist, shoulder, and back. It found that 86% of the teachers who participated had physical pain and musculoskeletal condition. Another study examined teachers in a municipal school network in Brazil. It found that:

  • 41.1% complained of foot, leg, and knee pain (lower limbs)
  • 23.7% complained of shoulder, neck, and wrist pain (upper limbs)
  • 41.1% complained of back pain

A third study that assessed teachers in Malaysia reported that 62.5% of the teachers surveyed complained of low back pain.

How Chiropractic Care Helps Teachers with Low Back Pain

Several studies show that chiropractic care is a very effective treatment for back pain. The chiropractor will perform a spinal manipulation to bring the spine (and body) into proper alignment. He may also offer advice on exercises, stretching, and ways to improve posture as well as recommending lifestyle changes and what to look for in supportive shoes. Chiropractic’s whole-body approach not only helps relieve back pain, it helps prevent it as well.

Additional Benefits Teachers can Gain from Chiropractic

While less back pain is great news for teachers, there are other benefits they can reap form chiropractic as well. That’s because it doesn’t focus solely on the back or pain, it looks at the whole body. Every day teachers put a lot of stress on their bodies, bending over to help a child with their work, standing to give a lecture, sitting for hours grading papers, and reaching to write on the blackboard. All of this can take a toll on the body, not just physically, but in other ways as wall. It can result in headaches, insomnia, and even frequent illness. A chiropractor can address all those things and make recommendations regarding lifestyle and diet as well as spinal manipulation.

This allows the patient to gain whole body benefits from chiropractic.

  • Improved mental clarity and cognitive function.
  • Healthier posture.
  • Improved quality of sleep.
  • Stronger immune system.
  • Fewer migraines and headaches.
  • Healthier spine.

If you are a teacher, chiropractic care is one of the best ways you can be good to yourself – and you deserve it. Give us a call to schedule your assessment! (780)455-2112

Driving

3 Tips To Alleviate Back Pain While Driving

When you spend a lot of time behind the wheel, whether you are going on a long trip or your job requires you to drive around town all day, it can be a real pain – in the back. Many car seats may be comfortable for short jaunts, but they are not built to support the back on the long hauls. However, there are some things that you can do to offset a non-back friendly seat design and alleviate, or even prevent, back pain while driving.

Create a Comfortable Space

Before you settle in behind the wheel, you want to make sure that you are comfortable. Keeping things like your wallet and cellphone in your pocket may be convenient when you are moving about, but can be an irritant when you are basically sitting on them mile after mile. Wear comfortable clothing and shoes. Any type of discomfort can put stress on your body so even if it is not necessarily pain related, it can exacerbate pain as your body’s sensitivity heightens in response to the stress.

Adjust your seat so that you are comfortable, but sitting fairly upright. If you recline, it could put stress on your neck and upper back, causing pain. Your seat should also be high enough so that you can place your feet flat on the floor – at least for a while (you can do this while driving if you have cruise control). There should be a slight bend in your elbows as you reach for the steering wheel and you should not have to stretch to reach the pedals. Make sure that your mirrors are adjusted so that you don’t have to bend or crane your neck to get good visibility.

Put Together a Healthy Back Kit

Bring along some things to help keep your back comfortable and pain free – even if you’ve never experienced back pain while driving. There is always a first time. Some of the items you might want to bring along include:

  • A towel that you can roll up and place behind the small of your back
  • A lumbar support pillow
  • A cold or hot pack
  • Something for pain relief
  • A cushion for your car seat to absorb the vibration
  • Water (so you can stay hydrated)
  • Essential Oil like lavender or peppermint (put a few drops in a carrier oil and apply to the sore areas)

Take Breaks and Move a Little

Driving straight through without any breaks is never a good idea. In fact, it can make you more tired, stiff and sore – and less alert on the road. Instead, take breaks to get out of the car, walk around, and stretch. When you move, you stimulate your circulation which brings oxygen and vital nutrients to your muscles. You’ll feel better, be more alert, and will be less likely to experience back pain.

Stopping every hour or so will help considerably with alleviating back pain. It doesn’t have to be a big production, just walk around for a few minutes, stretch your neck, shoulders, and back, then get back on the road. In between stops you can move your ankles up and down or rotate them to increase circulation to the lower leg. You should also adjust your position or your seat about every 20 minutes. Even these slight movements can help keep the blood flowing which will prevent your muscles from getting stiff and sore.

Regular chiropractic care as well as a consistent exercise routine can help prevent back pain in many situations, including while driving. Your chiropractor can also recommend some back strengthening exercises and stretches that will help make your spine even healthier.

Give our clinic a call at (780)455-2112 to schedule your assessment today! Visit www.ocwc.ca to learn more about our clinic and doctors!

Chiropractic Care

Chiropractic Care: Can It Really Help You Live Pain Free?

There are plenty of people who say that chiropractic made a significant difference in their lives, relieving pain and increasing mobility. Still, some skeptics want scientific proof that it helps with managing pain and, in many cases, eliminating it altogether. While chiropractic patient testimonies are great, included here is a collection of cold, hard, facts – scientific studies on chiropractic care and its effectiveness in treating pain.

Systematic review of evaluations of chiropractic care for pain management.

This review, published in August 2016, examined six randomized controlled trials and three full economic evaluations to determine the effectiveness of chiropractic care as compared to exercise therapy, physical therapy, and medical care. Chiropractic care was found to be comparable to or better than all three of these, particularly when managing pain.

They found “moderate evidence” that showed chiropractic care is just as effective as physical therapy. The evidence in the other areas was limited, but still gave chiropractic high marks.

Spinal manipulation for treating low back pain is as effective as more traditional treatments.

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health studied several clinical trials and reviews regarding chiropractic care. Time and again, chiropractic was found to be at least as effective as other pain reducing interventions.

Chiropractic patients can have more days of being pain free while avoiding surgery, invasive medical procedures, and medications that have harmful side effects. In one study, they found that chiropractic care is as effective as or better than more conventional medical care for as many as 18 months.

Chiropractic patients are less likely to use prescription pain killers like opioids.

James “Jim” Whedon, DC, MS, is a researcher at the Southern California University of Health Sciences, and is co-chair of the Research Working Group of the Academic Collaborative for Integrative Health. He examined the records of 33,000 adults in the New Hampshire All Payer Claims Database who registered as experiencing lower back pain. A little more than a third of those received chiropractic care. Of that group, only 38 percent had one or more prescriptions for an opioid, but that number jumped to 61 percent in the group who did not receive chiropractic care.

Upon examination of the related circumstances, Whedon concluded that the chiropractic patients were 57 percent less likely to fill an opioid prescription. This is a testament to the effectiveness of using chiropractic for pain relief.

Overwhelming research shows that chiropractic care is usually the best option when treating pain.

The American Chiropractic Association summarizes a number of studies and research findings that support the use of chiropractic care for pain. These studies recommended chiropractic as a safer, effective alternative to pharmaceuticals.

Others advocate incorporating chiropractic care with physical therapy and exercise for optimal results. One study (Goertz et al. (2013), Spine) asserts that using chiropractic manipulative therapy along with standard medical care provides a “significant advantage for decreasing pain and improving physical function…” Others shows that it reduced the chances of the patient having to undergo surgery and could manage their pain without drugs.

The evidence is overwhelming. Yes, regular chiropractic care can really help a person to live pain free. It also helps to follow the chiropractor’s recommendations regarding lifestyle changes and diet as well as taking any supplements that he or she advises.

While spinal manipulation is a big part of chiropractic care, it isn’t the only part. The chiropractor may recommend special stretches to do in between sessions or special supplements that can help the body to heal. That is what makes chiropractic so effective; it treats the entire body, not just the symptoms.

Start living pain free! Give us a call at (780)455-2112 to schedule your assessment with one of our wellness chiropractic doctors! Visit www.ocwc.ca to learn more about our clinic.

Low Back

How the Feet, Knees & Hips Affect the Low Back

If you have low back pain, or have had it, you are not alone. Experts estimate that around 80% of people will experience some type of back problem as some point in their lives. The Global Burden of Disease 2010 lists low back pain as the number one cause of disability worldwide. The good news is the majority of back pain is mechanical in origin or is not organic. This means that infection, cancer, fracture, inflammatory arthritis, and other serious conditions are not the cause. In fact, you may benefit by looking to your feet, knees and hips as the culprits.

The spine is the foundation for the body, supporting the spinal cord and the limbs. When there is a problem with any of the limbs it can affect the spine and vice versa. The intricate network of tendons, ligaments and nerves work together within the incredible machine that is the human body.

How the Feet Affect the Low Back

When there are problems with the feet, it can cause problems through the legs and all the way to the spine. This can cause the ankle to pronate, meaning it rolls inward. This alters the way the bones of the foot line up which extends through the tibia, or shin bone.

This can cause a condition called knock knees and it can change the way the entire body is aligned. This puts the body out of balance, destabilizing the spine, and can even cause the pelvis to tilt to one side or the other. When you are walking or standing, the stress caused by the misalignment it can create a domino effect, causing or contributing to low back pain.

How the Knees Affect the Low Back

One thing to remember when assessing pain in the body is that where it hurts may not be the source of the problem. It could be a symptom. Because of this, knee pain could be caused by a problem with your back and back pain could be caused by a problem with your knees.

It is important to take this type of pain at more than face value and do a little investigating to find the cause. That is why chiropractic is so beneficial in these situations.

If you see a chiropractor for your knee or back pain, he or she will assess your issues, talk to you about the pain you are experiencing and help you get to the root of your problem so that you can treat it and, in turn, help correct other associated issues. Knees connect the foot and spine so problems that affect the feet and ankles as well as the spine will very likely affect the knees and hips as well.

How the Hips Affect the Low Back

Muscle imbalances in the hip, such as tight hip flexors, can cause low back pain – or at least contribute to it. When the hip flexor muscles are too tight, is causes what is known as an anterior pelvic tilt.

In other words, the muscles cause an anterior pull on the pelvis. This affect posture and throws the entire lower body out of alignment. It can also affect the knees and feet if left untreated.

Hip flexors can become too tight if the person sits for extended periods of time or engages in activities like cycling and jogging. A chiropractor can guide you through exercises that will help release the tight muscles and stop the micro spasms that occur as a result.

He or she will also assess your knees, feet, and ankles to ensure that the issue has not through them out of alignment as well. Correcting the cause of the problem will often correct the associated issues and resolve the pain allowing you to return to your normal activities.

Visit www.ocwc.ca to learn more about our clinic! Call (780)455-2112 to schedule your chiropractic assessment today!

Exercise Fitness

What Is The Difference Between Anaerobic & Aerobic Exercise

Exercise is an important part of good health. It can help with weight loss and plays a crucial role in preventing many chronic health conditions like hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease. Regular exercise has also been shown to help with depression and anxiety. There is just something about getting your body moving and your blood pumping. It is what nature intended; as humans, we are supposed to be active. The more active you are, the better you will look and feel – and the healthier you will be.

There are many different types of exercise out there, though. It seems that everyone has “system” or some slick, branded fitness routine that is guaranteed to work. The thing is, the old-fashioned way is best. Cardio, the type of exercise that raises your heartrate and gets your blood pumping is actually categorized by aerobic and anaerobic. Understanding the similarities and differences will help you round out your workout for better results.

What is Aerobic Exercise?

Aerobic exercise involves low to high intensity physical exercise. The movements are oxygen infused, relying on the oxygen to meet the demands of the activity. Typically, exercises that are light to moderate intensity fall under aerobic:

  • Walking
  • Cycling
  • Swimming
  • Rowing
  • Jogging
  • Running

These activities can be performed for longer. In fact, many experts advise that an aerobic exercise workout is better when done for an extended period of time; at least 18 to 20 minutes. For instance, a person can walk on a treadmill for 20 to 30 minutes, then cycle for the same amount of time. This is sufficient for raising the heartrate and increasing metabolism.

Aerobic exercise was first introduced in the 1960s by doctor and Air Force Colonel, Kenneth Cooper. He created the Cooper Institute in 1970, which focused on preventive medicine, centered around education and research. The workout became very popular in the ‘70s and ‘80s as a class workout but over time has expanded to become a significant part of gym workouts all over the world.

What is Anaerobic Exercise?

Anaerobic exercise is high intensity physical exercise. Where aerobic builds endurance, anaerobic is more like a sprint, building power, speed and strength. It increases muscle mass and improves performance. It lasts from several seconds to around 2 minutes. Engaging in physical activity for longer than 2 minutes becomes more aerobic in nature. Types of anaerobic exercise include:

  • Jump rope
  • Cycling sprints
  • Running sprints
  • Swimming sprints
  • Heavy weight training

Anaerobic activities are often interspersed with aerobic activities in interval training for maximum effect.

Levels of Intensity

Aerobic and anaerobic exercise can be combined to create a highly effective workout. It can involve increasing the intensity of an aerobic exercise, or it can mean changing from an aerobic activity to an anaerobic activity.

For instance, you may jog for five minutes, then sprint for two, and jog for five more minutes. Another option is to switch up the activities. Walk on a treadmill for seven minutes, do a cycle sprint for two minutes, row for seven minutes, and jump rope for two minutes. The combinations are endless and you can customize it for your favorite exercises or to accommodate physical limitations.

Health Benefits

Aerobic and anaerobic exercise have been shown to help prevent certain types of cancer, like breast cancer and colon cancer with just 30 to 60 minutes of moderate intensity exercise a day. Exercise has also been shown to prevent osteoporosis, diabetes, depression, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and it even improves cognitive function.

Find ways to incorporate some aerobic and anaerobic exercise into your fitness routine at least several times a week. It is how you get healthy, stay healthy, and feel better.

Visit www.ocwc.ca for more health, wellness and fitness tips!

Ulcerative Colitis, Chiropractic

How Chiropractic Helps Patients Who Suffer From Ulcerative Colitis

Most people don’t think of chiropractic to treat conditions that do not involve the spine, but study after study shows it is effective in treating a wide variety of health issues. Ulcerative colitis seems to have no real connection with the spine, yet patients and researches alike are touting the effectiveness of chiropractic care to treat the condition. This is due, in part to chiropractic’s approach to whole body wellness, but spinal alignments are incorporated into the care as well. Bottom line, chiropractic care is extremely effective in treating uncreative colitis and many patients are finding relief from their symptoms and discomfort.

What is Ulcerative Colitis?

Ulcerative colitis is a disease that causes ulcers (sores) and inflammation in the rectum and colon. Typically, only the sigmoid colon (the lower portion of the colon) is affected, along with the rectum.

However, the entire colon can be affected and the percentage of the colon that is affected tends to coincide with the disease’s severity of the symptoms. While ulcerative colitis can affect people of any age, the majority of people who are diagnosed with it are younger than 30 years old.

Researchers are not certain what causes ulcerative colitis, but many believe that it occurs when the body’s immune system over reacts to bacteria that naturally occurs within the body, specifically in the digestive tract. There also seems to be a genetic predisposition for the disease; it tends to run in families.

What are the Symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis?

The type and severity of symptoms that present with ulcerative colitis depend upon how advanced or severe depends on which area of the colon is affected and how severe the condition is. The symptoms may subside or disappear for several weeks at a time (there are some patient reports stating they had no symptoms for years), then they return. About half the people with ulcerative colitis experience mild effects.

The most common symptoms of ulcerative colitis include:

  • Diarrhea – This is the most common symptom. The diarrhea may have pus or blood in it, but it is possible to have blood in the stool and not have the ability to see it. In severe cases, the urge to go to the restroom to empty the colon may come on suddenly and powerfully. It may happen after a meal or after eating certain foods. Other times there may be no discernable pattern; it can happen at any time, even waking the patient out of a dead sleep.
  • Pain – The most common type of pain with ulcerative colitis is in the belly and may feel somewhat cramping. However, some patients report joint soreness and photophobia (sensitivity to light) accompanied by eye pain.
  • Nausea – The cramping can cause nausea, as well as the condition itself.
  • Fatigue – The other symptoms such as pain and nausea can cause fatigue, but effects of the disease such as swelling in the colon and bleeding in the colon that depletes the body of red blood cells can also cause extreme tiredness.
  • Dehydration – This can be caused by the diarrhea.
  • Weight loss – Caused by the diarrhea and loss of appetite. The body may not be able to adequately absorb the nutrition from foods due to the disease, so weight loss and malnutrition follow.
  • Sores – Mouth and skin sores may form as well as rashes.

What Treatments are Available for Ulcerative Colitis?

Different people are affected differently when they are battling ulcerative colitis. Patients with mild symptoms may be able to take an over the counter medication that treats diarrhea.

The majority of patients with the disease take prescription medications that help decrease the immune response in the body. Lifestyle changes may also work. If the disease is very severe, the patient may need to undergo surgery and have their colon removed.

Chiropractic for Ulcerative Colitis

Many patients turn to chiropractic care to treat ulcerative colitis. When the body is out of alignment, it can hinder the function of the organs and other parts of the body. By realigning the spine and pelvis, the chiropractor can help the patient lessen or completely alleviate their symptoms.

The whole body health approach that chiropractic promotes can also help with recommendations regarding lifestyle changes and diet modifications. Many patients who get regular chiropractic care for their ulcerative colitis report a significant decrease in symptoms and often the complete elimination of them.

visit www.ocwc.ca to learn more about our clinic and doctors! Phone (780)455-2112 to schedule your chiropractic assessment.

Frozen Shoulder

Why You Should Consider Chiropractic If You Suffer From Frozen Shoulder

Adhesive capsulitis, also known as frozen shoulder, is a condition that causes pain and stiffness in the shoulder joint. The onset of symptoms is gradual, steadily worsening over time, then resolving. The entire process occurs over a one to three-year period. The limited range of motion in the shoulder that is a primary symptom is also one of the signs that doctors use to diagnose the condition. An x-ray may be used to determine if an underlying condition such as a broken bone or arthritis may be causing the problem.

What Causes Frozen Shoulder?

The shoulder is one of the most dynamic joints in the body. It has a very wide range of motion and endures a lot of wear and tear with normal use. The joint is a network of ligaments and tendons that connect bone and muscle. It is all encased in connective tissue capsule. When that tissue thickens, it constricts to tighten around the shoulder joint. This restricts movement and causes pain.

In some cases, the cause is due to an injury or other conditions, but in other cases the cause is unknown. There is some evidence that suggests people with diabetes and other chronic diseases are more likely to develop the condition. It is also more prevalent in people who have had an arm fracture or surgery – something that causes them to keep their shoulder immobilized for an extended period of time. Women (particularly postmenopausal women) tend to be at higher risk and it most often occurs in people who are 40 to 70 years old.

Treatment for Frozen Shoulder

Most treatments for frozen shoulder focuses on preserving the joint’s range of motion and minimizing pain. Over the counter medications like ibuprofen and aspirin are usually the first line of defense. They help reduce inflammation and pain. However, in more severe cases a doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs and pain medication. Physical therapy may also be an option.

Other treatments for frozen shoulder include:

  • Shoulder manipulation – while the patient is under a general anesthetic, the doctor moves the shoulder to loosen the tightened tissue.
  • Joint distension – sterile water is injected into the joint capsule. This stretches the tissue and improves range of motion.
  • Steroid injection – corticosteroids are injected directly into the shoulder joint.
  • Surgery – this is a last resort so it’s very rare, but the doctor may go in and remove the adhesions and scar tissue from inside the shoulder joint.

Chiropractic for Frozen Shoulder

Chiropractic is an effective treatment for frozen shoulder. Many patients see their general practitioner first to get a diagnosis and to make sure that there are no underlying conditions that should be treated before chiropractic is pursued. However, most chiropractors do have the capabilities to use x-rays and other diagnostic tools to adequately assess the patient.

A 2012 study involved reviewing the case files of 20 males and 30 female patients with frozen shoulder who underwent chiropractic treatment. All subjects sought treatment between 11 and 51 days with the median being 28 days. Of the 50 cases:

  • 16 resolved completely
  • 25 were 75% to 90% improved
  • 8 were 50% to 75% improved
  • 1 was 0% to 50% improved

Chiropractic can help reduce the pain, improve the shoulder’s range of motion, and speed recovery. The treatment depends on the symptoms that are present, how progressed the condition is, and how long the patient has had the condition.

One common chiropractic technique used to treat frozen shoulder is the Niel Asher Technique. It involves the manipulation of the joints and muscle tissues. The chiropractor applies pressure and stretches key points to help reduce pain and resolve the condition. It can make a tremendous difference in the patient’s life.

Chiropractic Adjustments

Why Chiropractic Adjustments Are Just As Important As Dental Exams

Regular preventative care and maintenance are integral to good health. The better you treat your body, the better it will treat you. Unfortunately, you can’t always see or know when there is a problem and regular check-ups can help you stay ahead of potential health problems that could significantly impact your quality of life. However, many people only see their chiropractor when they have a problem like pain or immobility. What they don’t realize is that they may have prevented the issue had they been undergoing regular chiropractic adjustments.

Just as they can prevent serious dental issues when they undergo regular dental check-ups.

The Importance of Regular Dental Exams

Most people get regular dental exams each year without know all of the reasons why it is so important. Dental care is more than just caring for teeth; it is a crucial part of caring for your health.

Dental visits help you maintain healthy teeth and gums. Gum disease and poor dental health have been linked to a variety of health issues, including heart disease. In fact, researchers have drawn a direct line between tooth loss and heart disease. What’s more, regular oral exams and teeth cleaning can lead to the detection of early stage medical conditions, some of which can be life threatening which include:

  • Leukemia
  • Heart disease
  • Oral cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Kidney disease
  • Pancreatic cancer

Studies show that these and other systemic diseases have some type of oral manifestation such as dry mouth, swollen gums, excessive gum problems, and mouth ulcers.

In the long run, good oral care that includes regular dental exams can save you a lot of time and money because you will catch many problems before they get out of hand and can incur great expense.

The Importance of Regular Chiropractic Adjustments

Just like regular dental care can help you stay healthy, regular chiropractic can also be very beneficial to your health. Chiropractors treat so much more than just pain!

Regular chiropractic adjustments help to keep the body in balance which allows the organs to function more efficiently. What’s more, regular chiropractic treatments put you in frequent, close contact with a health professional who can spot potential problems or the early stages of chronic diseases.

The benefits extend beyond that though. Regular chiropractic care helps you stay flexible and mobile which helps prevent many conditions that are related to aging. It also naturally treats a myriad of health conditions including:

  • Back pain
  • Blood pressure
  • Arthritis
  • Headaches
  • Joint pain
  • Ear infections
  • Asthma
  • Neck pain
  • Scoliosis

It also improves organ function and can help you avoid surgery and provides a natural, healthy alternative to medications that can be addictive and have harmful side effects.

Another added benefit of chiropractic care is the whole-body approach to wellness. Your chiropractor will look at your lifestyle, habits, diet, and exercise regimen and recommend changes and modifications that will help you live a healthier, fuller life.

Sure, they are there to help when you have a problem such as pain, but, like your dentist, they can also be the front line to better health care decisions and a healthier you. The natural approach that chiropractors take to healthcare also means that they typically see issues from a different perspective and may pick up on clues that your medical doctor might miss.

So, while you are scheduling your next dental check-up, make it a point to visit your chiropractor as well and talk to him or her about creating a plan for regular chiropractic adjustments. Your body will thank you and you will find that you are healthier for it.

 

Tension Headaches

Tension Headaches And How Chiropractic Can Help Relieve The Pain

We live in a stressful world. Life happens; it moves so fast. There are pressures coming at you from all directions. Eventually it catches up with you and it’s your body that bears the brunt of it. Tension are your body’s way of telling you that it is under stress – probably too much stress.

It’s hard to escape stress in today’s society so if you find that you are exhibiting physical symptoms of stress, it might be time to make some changes. If tension headaches are one of those symptoms, you’re in good company – about 90% of adults in the US have headaches. Many of them are tension headaches.

Symptoms of Tension Headaches

Tension headaches are distinctive and can be very painful. The good news is, they are rarely an indication of a more serious condition – other than a stressful lifestyle. Some of the most common symptoms of tension headaches include:

  • Muscle tightness in the neck, jaw, and shoulders – may also be sore.
  • Headache that originates at the back of the head and moves forward over the top and sides.
  • Sleep problems.
  • Squeezing pain or dull pressure in the head, may also be described as a tight band or vice around the head.
  • Trouble eating.
  • Pain or pressure in both sides of the head equally.

Sometimes tension headache symptoms can occur prior to a migraine. In other words, a tension headache can turn into a migraine headache and may be considered a migraine trigger.

Causes of Tension Headaches

The actual cause of tension headaches is not known. Researchers have some idea of potential triggers, but recent advancements in medicine have debunked the belief that they are caused by the tightening of muscles in the scalp, shoulders, neck, and jaw. Scientific tests show that then a person has a tension headache, muscle tension does not increase. Newer theories indicate that a likelier cause involves changes neurotransmitters (chemicals in the brain) which includes serotonin. This is similar to a migraine.

While researchers do not know the exact levels of neurotransmitter fluctuations, they do have evidence that it activates the brain’s pain pathways. The tightness in the muscles could be part of the physiological changes that trigger the fluctuations in neurotransmitters, or the neurotransmitter fluctuations could cause muscle tightness.

Some common triggers of tension headaches include:

  • Stress
  • Clenching the jaw
  • Alcohol or drugs
  • Overexertion
  • Certain medications (even some medications for headaches which can cause rebound headaches)
  • Keeping your head in one position for too long (like using a cell phone or computer)
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Grinding teeth
  • Neck or head injury (even old injuries)
  • Sleeping in a cold room or in an awkward position.
  • Arthritis
  • Anxiety
  • Hormonal changes
  • Sleeping on a worn-out mattress or the wrong pillow
  • Dehydration
  • Skipping meals
  • Eye strain

Certain foods can also be triggers for tension headaches. Additives and preservatives in prepared foods, even high sodium, can cause a headache.

Sinus and allergy problems can also accompany or lead to tension headaches.

Tension Headache Treatment

Over the counter and prescription medication may be recommended for tension headaches, but a good portion of the treatment involves lifestyle changes. Relaxation techniques, dietary changes, and exercise are all common treatments for tension headaches. Patients may be advised to stop smoking, limit alcohol consumption, or avoid certain foods.

Many patients find that keeping a headache journal is very useful in pinpointing triggers. There are several headache tracking apps that you can install on your smartphone and use them to get a better handle on your headaches.

Chiropractic for Tension Headaches

Chiropractic is a very effective, natural treatment for tension headaches. In addition to recommended lifestyle changes, the chiropractor may also make adjustments to realign the vertebrae and spine. The chiropractor may also use massage and other treatments that encourage relaxation of the muscles and relieve stress. He or she will use spinal manipulation of the neck and upper back to bring the body back into alignment, relieving not only the pain, but the tension as well.

Call (780)455-2112 to schedule your assessment with one of our wellness chiropractic doctors!

Trigger Points

How Chiropractic Helps Relieve Trigger Points & Other Myofascial Pain

Many people think of joints, bones, and the skeletal system when they think of chiropractic, but in fact, the muscles also play an integral part in supporting the body. The muscles are layers and interwoven work to move and stabilize the spine, facilitate the movement of the body’s joints, and aid in respiration. When there is pain within this system, chiropractic can be a very effective treatment. More patients are turning to chiropractic care to treat a variety of painful conditions because it does not use addictive pharmaceuticals with unpleasant side effects; it is completely natural. Chiropractic can also keep patients from requiring surgery in many cases. So when it comes to myofascial pain and trigger points, this form of treatment is often considered optimal.

What is Myofascial Pain?

In simple terms, myofascial pain is simply pain in the muscles. When you break down the word, “myo” means muscle and “fascia” refers to the connective tissue that are interwoven throughout the body.

The pain originates in specific trigger points that are located in the muscles and fascia at various areas of the body. The pain can range in intensity from mild and annoying to severe and debilitating.

What are Trigger Points?

Trigger points are tightened, hypersensitive spots that can be located in any muscle. Different people may have different trigger points. It isn’t like specific lower back pain or neck pain which occur in specific areas of the body. Trigger points can vary from person to person.

When trigger points form, they become nodules or spots that exist in one of the muscle’s taut bands. The patient may experience a variety of symptoms including pain, weakness, burning, tingling, and other symptoms.

What often makes trigger points difficult to locate is that they cause what is known as referred pain. In other words, the person may experience the pain at the exact location of the trigger point, or the pain can be referred to other areas in the body. Referred pain usually has fairly consistent pain patterns so it can be traced to the origin – eventually.

Around 85% of the pain that individuals experience is attributed to myofascial pain. The trigger points determine whether the pain is chronic or acute. It is a condition that is very common.

How do Trigger Points Form?

Trigger points form when the muscle undergoes trauma of some type. The trauma can come from disease, accidents, work related conditions (from persistent, repetitive motion), and sports injuries.

Activities or habits that place a repetitive, long term strain on the muscles can also cause trigger points. Poor posture, improper ergonomics, and repetitive movements are the most common of these types of activities. Emotional and physical stress are often identified as causes of irritating trigger points.

Benefits of Chiropractic for Myofascial Pain and Trigger Points

Chiropractic care is often a preferred treatment for myofascial pain due to its effectiveness and drug free approach. Patients who undergo treatment will usually experience a dramatic decrease in their pain level or it will be eliminated altogether.

They also enjoy increased strength, flexibility, and range of motion. With continued chiropractic care, they will find that they have more endurance for work and recreational activities and even sleep better. It should be noted that sleep disruptions are a common complaint associated with myofascial pain.

Overall, chiropractic can give patients with myofascial pain a better quality of life with decreased incidence of injury. They are often able to lower their pain medication or eliminate it altogether.

Because chiropractic is a whole-body approach, patients learn healthy habits including diet, exercise, and mental wellness. Most of all, they can live with less pain or no pain at all.

Visit www.ocwc.ca to learn more about our clinic and doctors. Phone (780)455-2112 to schedule your appointment with us!