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.

How Can Occupational Therapy Help Knee Pain?

How Can Occupational Therapy Help Knee Pain?

Occupational Therapy blog post on knee pain

By Shelby Allen, OTR/L

Occupational Therapy is a holistic, client-centered approach focused on treating the whole person. We focus on how we can get you back to participating in your daily activities without limitations. This can be work, school, home management responsibilities, self-care activities, and leisure activities. At the Natural Health Center of Clifton, occupational therapists will use manual therapy, stretching, exercise, progressive strengthening, and modalities to assist in your recovery and healing from your acute back injury to your chronic arthritic knee pain. 

 

As we age, our body goes through degenerative changes, one main area susceptible to these changes is our knees. In occupational therapy, a typical treatment for knee pain may look like this:

 

  • Manual therapy: Massaging the muscles that surround the knee to release tension and pain.
  • Modalities: Using heat to relax the muscles and reduce pain before exercise or ice for inflammatory responses.
  • Stretching: Elongating the muscles surrounding the knee to increase flexibility and range of motion in the lower extremities.
  • Exercises/ Progressive Strengthening Exercises: Increasing endurance and strengthening the muscles around the knee to maintain knee stability and participate in daily activities without increased pain.

 

Just a few of the stretches and exercises we might do in the clinic are:

 

  • Hamstring Stretch
  • IT Band Stretch
  • Quad/ Psoas Stretch
  • Quad Sets
  • Single-Leg Raises 

For more information on our services or to schedule an appointment, contact Natural Health Center of Clifton today.

Jump Starting the Body with Electroacupuncture

Jump Starting the Body with Electroacupuncture

Electroacupunture at the Natural Health Center of Clifton

By Austin Davidson L.Ac

Electricity and the Body: Benefits of Electroacupuncture

In Chinese medicine we talk about the main power supply of the body: Qi. It provides function to the organs, creates movement and flow, allows for health and balance. So what is the equivalent to Qi in Western medicine?  The answer is actually a very tiny particle called an electron.  Electrons create communication between cells or in a larger picture the brain and the body.  Electrical signals generated by the body can induce the various functions of tissue in the body that allow us to do simple actions like opening doors, nodding our heads, walking and standing; but also at a complex level allows the body to do subconscious processes like turning food to sugar, creating proteins, releasing hormones, and other thousands of jobs that allow us to function everyday.  When we lose electrons or the flow of the electrons are impeded this is where dysfunction and disease arise.

Powering the body with electrons.

So how exactly do we use electricity to treat pain or disease?  Well just the same as if we would have a deficiency of vitamins and minerals we take supplements to replace those deficiencies, we would flood the body with electrons. In acupuncture we use the same tools as we would in a regular treatment but add the electricity to the needles.  It may sound scary but it’s very comfortable and painless, at most patients feel a slight tapping sensation or low vibration.  These devices that send electricity are able to send signals to the nervous system unlocking your body’s own healing abilities. From release Beta-endorphins that can decrease pain and inflammation to GABA which can produce a calming effect on nerves and muscles.  The body has all the raw material it needs to heal the body but sometimes it just needs a jump start.    

Recharging your battery.

Electro-acupuncture isn’t the only way to fill your body with antioxidant rich electrons.  The Earth itself is a giant electron storage and can be easily accessed by touching it through a process called Earthing or Grounding.  It may sound silly to say that if you go walking barefoot outside for 30 mins that you’ll feel better, but studies show that the effects don’t only show improvement in mental health but also in pain and inflammation. So go outside and bury your feet in the grass once in a while!

For more information on electroacupuncture or to schedule an appointment, contact Natural Health Center of Clifton today.