Sciatica affects millions of Americans over the course of their lifetime, and the pain can be downright debilitating. And while there are many different courses of treatment, few are as effective or as safe as chiropractic care. In this video I will show you four of my favorite tips for helping relieve sciatic pain, many of which you can do right from your own home!
It’s not just chiropractic care, or stretching, or massage that will get you feeling better and keep you feeling better. It’s a whole body approach! And it often involves changing our whole routine.
Remember, the more you do on your own, the more effective any form of treatment you receive will work! So get those yoga videos on, take a walk or a bike ride, make sure you’re eating good, wholesome foods, and most importantly, schedule an appointment for an adjustment ASAP!
So for a few years now this word ‘Wellness’ has been thrown around quite a bit, without many of us actually knowing what it truly is. Most of us think of it as having something to do with being healthy, but we also hear it used to promote things like flu shots, and over the counter meds. In the over 13 years I have been in practice, I’ve learned it can be simplified into 3 main points:
- How we Move
- What we put into our bodies
- How we think
We are embarking on a new project here at Wellness Pittsburgh: a video series that will focus on how to be truly healthy and well. Have a watch!
Nothing can ruin your day like a headache. We all have had them, some more than others. Some mild, dull annoyances, others migraine quality, forcing us to hide in a dark room, maybe vomiting, often losing an entire day. Something I hear often in my practice is, “Well, I’ve just learned to live with it.” Or, “I’ve tried EVERYTHING!” The truth is headaches are not normal, and there are some very simple and effective solutions.
1) Drink more water! For more on the importance of water, check out this article from 2014 about WATER
Dehydration is a very common cause of headaches. The blood vessels, particularly venous drainage around the brain are very sensitive structures. Called the Dural Sinuses, they can cause a headache when blood volume decreases from dehydration. So many things can dehydrate us: poor food choices, not drinking enough or drinking too much non-hydrating beverages (even excess sports drinks can actually cause dehydration-like symptoms by increasing electrolyte levels too much), excessive sweating, certain medications… just remember, next time you get a headache drink two tall glasses of water ASAP.
2) Pressure Points: Rub any tender points along base of skull. While massage can be very effective at relaxing tight muscles that contribute to head and neck tension, there are more specific, and often more effective points to rub. Feel from the bump behind your ears all the way to the center point at the base of your skull. If you find any sensitive spots, apply medium to firm pressure for about 30 seconds. Repeat the process but a little higher up on the base of the skull each time. You’ll be amazed at how far up onto the skull you will find tender spots.
3) Essential Oils: Peppermint, Lavender, Eucalyptus and Rosemary are four of the best oils for headaches. Peppermint: rub a few drops of peppermint oil into the temples and/or back of neck for a tension headache. Also good for focus and concentration Lavender: can be applied just like Peppermint oil for tension headaches. In addition it can be added to a warm bath, or a few drops can be put into a spray bottle of water and misted on the face and neck. Eucalyptus: has similar effects to the last two. It is also a great expectorant and can be rubbed on the chest to relieve pressure. Rosemary: is also good for tension headaches, but is especially effective if the headache is related to low blood sugar. With all of these oils you should use a carrier oil. This is a regular food grade oil, like Coconut or grape seed oil. Place some in your hand or a small dish and then add the Essential Oil to it. This will prevent skin irritation, as some of the oils can be quite strong, and also helps your oils last longer. Remember, a little bit goes a long way.
4) Get Adjusted!: When spinal bones in the neck move out of alignment, from either stress or injury, headache is a very common result. Increased pressure on the sensitive nerve fibers that exit between every vertebrae can cause a wide array of symptoms, as well as changes in physiology that remain assymptomatic. Follow these links for references to research studies related to headache and getting adjusted.
You’ll find over 30 different studies on everything from the common headache, to migraines, to post-concussive, even pediatric headaches and how chiropractic care can alleviate them.
5) Chemical Origin: Many headaches are related to a build-up of toxins in the body or certain chemical toxins, often times a food additive. Many people have headaches following ingestion of MSG, Nitrates/Nitrites, Gluten (wheat), food preservatives/dyes, even plain old sugar. Keeping a food journal can help you identify the types of foods/additives that you react to. Cleansing can help if it is due to a build-up of toxins.
While medication has its place, over-medicating can often create worse effects than the original issue. Over 125,000 people a year die from NSAIDS (Ibuprofen, Naproxen, etc). Opiod pain medication is creating an epidemic of addiction, with many of its victims resorting to a much cheaper form, heroin, to get their fix. The resulting addiction often forces them into crime to support their habit. There are much better choices out there to get to the root cause of the headache and not just mask the symptom. It is NOT normal to have regular headaches. Do something about it! 🙂
For more information about any of the topics listed above, please contact our office.
Has this ever happened to you? You wake up on a seemingly normal morning. Maybe you slept poorly. Maybe you overexerted yourself the previous day. Maybe you are just really stressed about something… You go to stand up, and then it hits you. The PAIN! The cramping, tightening, debilitating pain. For some of us it’s the lower back, causing us to double over. For others it’s our neck or upper back, preventing us from turning our head, or worse yet, having our head stuck to one side or the other.
What should you do? Heat, ice, stretch, drugs, essential oils, wine… so many choices, but which is best?
I was reminded of this all too common scenario today when a patient came in unable to move her neck. She was in pain so intense there were tears in her eyes! If you’ve ever had a similar experience you know how awful it can be.
First thing, DO NOT USE HEAT! Most of us think heat will give us some immediate relief, but you’ll wind up worse in the long run. Any injury produces inflammation. Extra blood, fluids, cells, etc rush to the area to clean up damage and start rebuilding. But when you apply heat you’re causing an already irritated, inflamed area to inflame even more. The pain may feel slightly better at first due to the increased circulation, but it will come back with a vengeance!
Cold will take the edge off by decreasing excess inflammation. It will produce a numbing effect on the area. Cold does not feel quite as comfortable at first, but trust me, in the long run it is the best choice. If you do not have a cold pack, a bag of frozen veggies will work just as well.
There are also topical cooling gels that get great results and can last for hours. BioFreeze is one of leading brands on the market, however most use the same active ingredient and will have a similar effect. They are also quite portable and can be carried with you, or even placed in a first aid kit.
Another topical that my first aid kit will never be without is Arnica Gel. Arnica Montana is a homeopathic which speeds up healing and tissue repair, and helps with pain relief, inflammation, and bruising. With most injuries the first steps are apply Arnica and apply cold. (Note: Arnica gel should not be used on open wounds. If open wound you first need to clean or debride the wound, stop the bleeding with a styptic. For more tips on open wound care comment at the bottom with your email)
Once the initial inflammation has improved it will be much easier to assess just how bad the situation is. While you will want to rest (time is really the most important component to healing) some light movement and stretching can be quite helpful. For low back pain, stretching your hamstrings and going for a walk can help. For neck pain, lying with a neck roll, side-to-side stretching, or resistance stretching can help. Movement is good, but don’t overdo it. the purpose of the movement is to get the blood and lymph fluids moving and preventing the area from stiffening up. Use your judgement. If it’s making it worse STOP!
Pressure applied in the right way can also be very beneficial. If there is a muscle that is cramping or very tight, place steady pressure in the center of the tightness and gently move the muscle. If it is more of a joint sprain/strain injury, compress the area with an ACE bandage or medical tape.
If the injury is to a joint such as the ankle or knee, elevation can also help. Sit with the affected leg propped up. The elevation will help the excess inflammation drain out.
The acronym RICE can help you to remember what do.
Rest- Time is the most important factor
Ice- COOL the inflamed area
Compression- Pressure prevents excess inflammation, and can loosen tight muscles
Elevation- Prevents inflammation from pooling in certain parts of the body
If the injury is muscular, some light movement and trigger point work can help. If it is joint damage focus more on resting and immobilizing the joint for a few days.
So be safe. Be smart. And if you do get hurt, don’t do anything to make it worse!