National Pain Awareness Month

National Pain Awareness Month

September is National pain awareness month and aims to raise awareness about people dealing with forms of chronic pain. Nearly 100 million Americans suffer from chronic pain – more than the amount of people that have diabetes, heart disease, and cancer combined. 

Understanding Chronic Pain

Chronic pain is long-standing pain that persists beyond the usual recovery period or occurs along with a chronic health condition, such as arthritis. Chronic pain may be ‘on’ and ‘off’ or continuous.” This is different from other pain, such as acute pain, which comes from inflammation, injury, or surgery and only stays for a few weeks. Chronic pain can feel many different ways and often comes in the form of aching, burning, shooting, squeezing, stiffness, stinging, and throbbing.

Chronic pain often causes a decreased quality of life for people coping with the ailment. It can cause you to pull away from loved ones, events, or things you’d usually be able to do that you no longer can. Chronic pain can also cause people to need to take off work and abandon responsibilities to cope with the pain they’re experiencing. 

People with chronic pain are 64% less likely to view their job as rewarding. Working with pain can also cause heightened levels of stress, which can lead to depression and other ailments. The economic burden of chronic pain is major, it cost United States an estimated $560 to $635 billion in 2010, due to a combination of medical costs and productivity lost.

Treating Chronic Pain

There are many people dealing with chronic pain on a daily basis. Chronic pain is treated in a multitude of ways and the approach often depends on factors like the type of pain you have, the cause of pain, and your age or overall health. There are many medications made for treating chronic pain. Such as anticonvulsants, muscle relaxants, topical products, etc. 

However, a lot of people are deciding to make lifestyle changes to cope with their newfound ailment. There are basic health and lifestyle changes people are reverting back to in order to take care of themselves. Stress can often hinder coping with chronic pain and it is beneficial to reduce it as much as possible. 

Some methods are practicing mindfulness and doing things you enjoy or find relieving. Another factor is exercise, low-intensity workouts are often stress relievers for people and have numerous benefits to your health. Also, eating a healthy and anti-inflammatory diet is beneficial to chronic pain as well as getting good and basic nutrients. Sleep is also a vital factor in health and stress management.

Feel Better 

Chronic pain can have a major effect on your quality of life. At the Natural Health Center we will work with you to help relieve your pain. Everyone’s healing process is unique and takes place on a different timetable. However, we’ll look for the root cause of your pain and give you the best chance of recovering and returning to your favorite activities.

If you are suffering from chronic pain, contact the Natural Health Center in Clifton, NJ. Our board-certified doctors have helped people with chronic pain work to alleviate their suffering. To schedule an appointment, call us at 973-370-9155 or fill out our online contact form, and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

How to Take Care of Yourself After a Car Accident

How to Take Care of Yourself After a Car Accident

car accident image

Car accidents are unexpected and shocking. It is hard to know what to do after experiencing a car crash, and sometimes people are unaware they have been injured for weeks or even months after their accident.

It’s critical to give yourself enough time to recover after an auto accident. When you allow yourself to heal and process what happened, you will be better prepared to deal with the physical, emotional, and financial consequences of an accident.

Here’s our guide to taking care of yourself after a car accident to help you get back to normal life as quickly as possible

Visit an auto injury doctor.

Not all car accident injuries are immediately visible.

Concussion, whiplash, and spine damage can cause pain and symptoms to appear hours, days, or even weeks later.

The longer you wait to seek medical attention, the more likely your injuries will worsen and necessitate a longer recovery period.

Accident injuries such as whiplash and herniated spinal discs, if left untreated, can lead to chronic pain in the future. Untreated concussions or internal bleeding can be fatal or result in permanent brain damage.

Even if you are not in pain following a car accident, you should see a doctor for a checkup. Imaging tests can be performed to look for internal bleeding, swelling, fractures, and soft tissue damage.

After a car accident, your primary care physician is not the best doctor to see. Primary care physicians are trained to treat internal injuries; however, many lack the necessary training and qualifications to recognize, diagnose, and treat common accident injuries such as whiplash, concussions, soft tissue injuries, and fractures. Instead, seek treatment from a specialist who has treated similar injuries in the past.

Listen to and follow your doctor’s treatment plan.

The treatment process may be long and slow. The most effective way you can ensure complete recovery in as short a time span as possible is to follow the prescribed treatment plan created by your doctor.

This could include:

  • Taking time off work and limiting normal activities to allow your body time to heal
  • Participating in physical therapy
  • Performing therapist-recommended exercises at home
  • Setting and attending follow-up appointments with your physician
    If you feel like some parts of your treatment plan aren’t effective, don’t just stop following the plan. Instead, talk to your doctor.

    Together, you can discuss alternative treatment options that will be more effective for you.

Practice self-care at home.

Sleep and rest are essential components of the healing process. When you sleep, your body increases blood flow to your muscles and repairs and grows tissue and muscles.

Following a major injury from an accident, it’s critical to slow down and frequently rest so your body can heal. A good night’s sleep will also improve your energy, alertness, and mood during the day.

Know your limits and avoid pushing yourself too far or too soon. You risk injuring yourself further if you try to “power through” serious car accident injuries.

Pain can make you angry, hopeless, frustrated, and less motivated to participate in physical therapy and other recovery activities. It is critical that you find ways to manage your pain; suffering in silence will only impede your progress.

Pain management may include taking frequent breaks during the day and applying hot or cold compresses. Massage may also be beneficial for sore muscles, tendons, and ligaments.
Exercise and stretching are essential for regaining full range of motion, flexibility, balance, and endurance.

Regular movement will help keep your muscles and joints from stiffening and weakening and reduce the pain and inflammation from your injuries. Gentle stretching such as yoga is an excellent way to incorporate movement into your day.

Follow your doctor’s recommendations for the amount and type of exercise you can do safely.

Eating a nutritious diet can help you stay on track with your recovery. Your body requires good fuel to function properly, and eating well will make you feel stronger and more energetic. Your body requires adequate fluids to repair muscle and tissue damage, so don’t forget to stay hydrated!

Get better.

Continue to move forward by adhering to your treatment plan and taking care of your body.

Everyone’s healing process is unique and takes place on a different timetable. However, by following the steps outlined above, you will give yourself the best chance of fully recovering and returning to your favorite activities.

If you’ve been in an auto accident, contact the Natural Health Center in Clifton, NJ. Our board-certified doctors have treated common car accident injuries such as whiplash, concussions, soft tissue damage, and spine damage. To schedule an appointment, call us at 973-370-9155 or fill out our online contact form, and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

When Should I See a Doctor for My Knee Pain?

When Should I See a Doctor for My Knee Pain?

A man suffering from knee pain

By Dr. Dan Courneya, DC

This is a hard question to answer as there are many different causes of knee pain. The unfortunate truth, however, is that most people wait TOO long with knee pain before seeking help. There does come a certain point at which the only treatment available is total knee replacement surgery.

Thankfully, there are many treatment options available before the point of no return. You should seek out immediate care if:

  • You had a fall or traumatic injury
  • Your knee is swollen
  • Your knee pain lasts more than 1 week


Other reasons to seek out a healthcare professional are if you have difficulty or pain with any of the following actions:

  • Going up or downstairs
  • Kneeling
  • Walking
  • Standing
  • Getting up from sitting


At the Natural Health Center, we have trained knee specialists to evaluate and assess the exact cause and reason behind your aches and pains. We can provide nonsurgical, helpful treatments to get you back on your feet and doing the activities you want to do instead of planning around your knee pain! For more information on our services or to schedule an appointment, contact Natural Health Center of Clifton today.

Acupuncture for Migraine and Headaches: Treatment and Prevention

Acupuncture for Migraine and Headaches: Treatment and Prevention

man having acupuncture done for a migraine

By Austin Davidson L.Ac

Can Acupuncture be the Solution to Solving Your Migraine Woes?

 

Migraines can put an enormous burden on a person’s quality of life; causing blurry vision, dizziness, nausea, sensitivity to light and sound, and not to mention the excruciating pain that they cause in the process. 

Everyone experiences migraines differently, some have them infrequently and others can have them up 2-3 times a week or more.  

The causes of migraines and headaches are still a subject of research; causes can range from traumatic brain injury, stress, cardiovascular, and hormonal issues to genetic predisposition.

 

Migraines and Headaches can present as:

  • Frontal
  • Temporal (side of head)
  • Occipital (back bottom of the head)
  • Vertex (top of head)
  • Headaches that feel like a vice around the head
  • RED FLAG – Headaches or migraines that present as “thunder” or the “clapping of thunder” which happen suddenly and intensely within an hour’s time frame should be sought out by a medical professional and are usually a sign of a life-threatening condition.

Many over-the-counter and prescription medications can be effective in relieving these pains but are only short term solutions as well as secondary causes of other issues such as liver damage (Tylenol) and stomach issues (Ibuprofen is known to cause ulcers when taken regularly).  

Acupuncture is a great alternative to headache and migraine relief without the negative side-effects.  Not only can it help get rid of those pesky head pains but prevent future episodes.     

How does acupuncture help with headaches and migraines?

How exactly does acupuncture work with relieving migraines and headaches?  Well, acupuncture needles are placed in strategic locations on the body to produce a physiological change in the body that decreases pain and inflammation. Certain acupuncture points specifically target what is causing the headache, as opposed to OTC medications that dull the symptoms but do not address the root cause.  

 

An example of this is a patient I had, let’s call her Ms. Blue. She suffered from long-term headaches in the occipital region of their head and neck. Usually, these come from muscle stiffness of the neck muscles which causes a decrease of circulation from the neck to the head. If these neck muscles are in a constantly contracted state they can push on the blood vessels flowing to and from the head causing these head pains. So with Ms. Blue, the acupuncture treatment plan we did involved releasing the muscles to create a free flow of circulation and a decrease in inflammation. Over the course of treatment with Ms. Blue, we were able to drastically decrease the frequency and intensity of her headaches. 

 

Well what if your headaches aren’t being caused by muscle strain, what if they are neurological?  

 

Studies have shown that when acupuncture is performed during an MRI scan it can activate certain parts of the brain, one of them being the hypothalamus.  The hypothalamus has been found to be the source of migraine episodes.  Acupuncture has been shown to be able to decrease the signaling of the hypothalamus pain responses through the peripheral nervous system.

So yes, even if the source of your headaches is neurological, Acupuncture can help.

Food Triggers and Diet.

Even though headaches and migraines can be caused by a neurological or physiological reason, certain foods may be the reason why you’re experiencing an increase in symptoms.

 

Some of these foods include but are not limited to:

  • Dairy products – Milk, cheese
  • Gluten
  • Chocolate
  • Soy Products
  • Foods that include nitrates and Aspartame
  • Tomatoes – Monosodium Glutamate seems to be the culprit

The best way to know if a certain food is affecting how frequent you get headaches is to make a food journal detailing all the things that you put into your body.  You may start to see a trend with when you get headaches and which foods you were eating around that time, the results may surprise you.

 

Where To Start?

The first step is to find out the cause of your headaches or migraines. Is it neurologic? Caused by muscle tightness? Is your diet triggering it? At the Natural Health Center, we can help determine the exact cause of your pain and put together the correct treatment plan to help fix it. For more information on acupuncture for migraines and headaches, or to schedule an appointment, contact Natural Health Center of Clifton today.

The Truth About Back Pain

The Truth About Back Pain

Woman experiencing back pain

Back pain affects people in various ways. The physical discomfort that erupts from back pain can occur anywhere on the spine or back and can range from mild to disabling. Back pain can be caused by an underlying disease or from simple day-to-day activity. It is important to distinguish the exact cause so that it can be treated properly, thereby eliminating the pain.

 

What are the causes of back pain?

 

Although anyone can experience back pain, the following factors could put you at greater risk: 

  • Diseases – Back pain can be attributed to arthritis, cancers, infections, spine tumors, and other diseases. 

  • Age – Back pain becomes more common as someone advances in age. Muscle elasticity and tone decrease, and intervertebral discs begin to lose fluid and flexibility as someone ages. Commonly, people will begin to experience back pain around age 30-40. Left untreated it could progress.
  • Excess Weight – When someone is overweight or gains a significant amount of weight quickly, they could be putting stress on their back. 
  • Improper Lifting – People will make the mistake of lifting with their back rather than their legs and end up with back pain. It is vital to have the proper form while lifting weights. 
  • Lack of Exercise – When a person’s muscles in their back and abdomen are weak and unused, they are more likely to experience back pain.
  • Mental Health – Back pain and mental health can happen collectively. Stress from anxiety and depression can cause muscle tension, as well as influence how a person perceives their back pain. Chronic back pain can also contribute to the development of mental health issues.
  • Job-Related Factors – Jobs that require heavy lifting, or anything involving the twisting and bending of the spine, can lead to back pain. Even jobs that require sitting at a desk for long periods of time can also lead to back pain. There are ergonomic solutions to preventing this.
  • Backpack Overload – Muscle fatigue and straining of the back can occur when carrying heavy backpacks overloaded with books and other supplies. We find this in a lot of children.
  • Smoking – The discs in a person’s back will degenerate faster if there is a restricted amount of blood flow and oxygen going to them. This is likely to occur if someone smokes.
  • Genetics – Genetics can play a role in back pain, such as in lumbar disc disease and sciatica caused by degenerated and/or herniated discs.

What are the two types of back pain?

 

Acute Back Pain

Acute pain is typically sudden and temporary. This pain tends to come about as a consequence of an injury, whether identifiable or not. 

 

Chronic Back Pain  

Chronic pain generally develops more gradually over time and may get worse over time.

 

How can back pain be prevented?

 

There are ways to help keep your back healthy and strong, such as building muscle strength and flexibility, exercising regularly, keeping a healthy weight, and avoiding smoking. It is crucial to be mindful of posture while sitting and standing, as well as lifting weights and objects with the proper form.

 

What is the treatment for back pain?

Back pain can be treated in several different ways including pain management, chiropractic, acupuncture, and therapeutic exercise.

 

The Natural Health Center is experienced in treating back pain and other types of pain. By visiting our office for treatment, we can reduce and prevent back pain. For more information on how we can help, contact the Natural Health Center of Clifton today.