Pain

Stopping Neck & Shoulder Pain

Posted on April 6, 2017. Filed under: Acupuncture Information, Aging, Chiropractic, Exercise, Healing, Health, inflammation, injury, rebuild, Neck Pain, Pain, Posture | Tags: , , , , |

dr greg neck exercises cut out

Dr. Greg shows some simple neck exercises

By Dr. Greg Steiner
CA Acupuncture & Chiropractic

Neck and shoulder pain come in many shapes and forms.  There’s the sharp & stabbing type, sometimes coming from an arthritic joint or perhaps from something as simple as bending it in the wrong direction.  Sometimes it feels like it’s a grinding sort of pain and other times it feels heavy and stiff.  Whether the neck pain is a muscular or pinched nerve type, it usually doesn’t originate just in the neck but the uppermost part of the back, where a lot of muscles are activated and connect.  In order to be thorough and correct the problem, all these areas need to be addressed and assessed.

Oftentimes, headaches are caused by neck & shoulder issues.  If the muscles in the front of the neck are spasming, it can create a headache on the side of the head.  Tight trapezius and shoulder girdle areas can refer pain up the back of the head, and at the base of the skull, the deeper layer or muscles, when contracted or spasming can irritate blood vessels or nerves and produce “migraine” symptoms.

The feeling of an electrical shock or jolt running down the arm may indicate a nerve compression of some sort while a tightness or achy pain could result from a muscle strain from training at the gym.

The type of pain itself can often help identify the problem and therapies to be used for pain relief.  Ice packs are great to help reduce sharp pain while a stiff pain can be helped with ice and then heat.  The most effective therapy I have found is a combination of both chiropractic and acupuncture.  The chiropractic adjustment can help relieve muscle tension and restore some motion on just the first visit.  Subsequent visits keep increasing that range of motion, resulting in pain relief and longer term can restore proper alignment.  Add in the use of electrical stimulation and infrared heat and spasms and tightness can be also be reduced.  Acupuncture can also give a pretty satisfying analgesic effect by helping reduce muscle tension and inflammation.

One thing that can help reduce and prevent neck & shoulder pain is to focus on mobility and correct posture.  Gentle stretching and proper movement can keep the areas flexible and lubricated.  If you sit at the computer all day with your head leaning forward and hardly move, the strained position will eventually destroy the curve of the neck.  Inflammation also occurs, and nothing seems to fit in the right place.  The ligaments are no longer in the correct position and the front muscles start to shrink (because they are always contracted) while the back of the neck muscles are over stretched and weakened.  A great deal of this can be remedied by taking breaks to gently stretch the neck & shoulders, having the computer monitor & chair at the right height, as well as sitting tall and upright with the head in alignment with the shoulders.  The earlier you catch & remedy the problem, the faster you’ll see relief and following these simple suggestions can help deter that pain from the start.

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Physical Training & Avoiding Injuries

Posted on March 21, 2017. Filed under: Acupuncturist, Aging, Chiropractic, Exercise, Healing, injury, rebuild, Pain, Posture, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , |

monica back exercise

Monica Steiner at work in the gym

By Dr. Greg Steiner
CA Acupuncture & Chiropractic Clinic

“I keep getting hurt – how can I train to gain without getting injured anymore?” This and similar questions are only slightly less common than “What did I do to myself?”

Let’s face it, little is more frustrating than being knocked off the training track once again. Finding a sticking point or plateau is bad enough, but what I might call “break down points” is probably even worse. The difference is critical – a plateau is that inability to surpass a certain desired goal in size, strength or muscularity. A breaking point is one of those times when “Oops, it happened again,” such as when training weights approach a certain level at which a back, shoulder or perhaps knee always seems to give way.

The essential bottom-line point is that if you are injured over and over again, your training will suffer. If your training suffers, it is not possible to reach your peak cardiovascular fitness. So, what are we to do?  Whatever the most motivating end goals, the underlying requirement is training consistency. A week here or a month there is of no value, other than in giving one a sense that “efforts are being made, I’m trying…” Largely futile and possibly dangerous – it used to be called “the weekend warrior” syndrome, which helps fill the waiting rooms of Monday morning chiropractic clinics as these individuals exert beyond what is their safe capacity.

The next essential step is to do the exercises correctly. One of my physician mentors used to have a saying – “If it’s not right, it’s all wrong!” He didn’t pick up this phrase from school however, but from an elite military unit of which he was once a part. He himself was a super-fit, super motivated highly intelligent man with very big uppers arms and a fighting spirit to match. His relevant point in his saying however, was that in times of high stress, structures and procedures had to be tip-top, or something would break.

In weight training, this refers to cheating on form while the body is under the greatest load, usually when performing the hard reps late in a set, or when using very low reps and very heavy weights. It’s then that the weak links give way, and injury occurs.

Sorry, but no one training method or scheme produces the perfect size, fitness, strength while taking no effort, being fun to do all the time and perfectly safe.  But, the real baseline is consistency and ability to replicate useful workouts time and time again while simultaneously performing them correctly without error.  The principle behind training without getting hurt is to stress the muscles without damaging the supporting structures such as ligaments and joint capsules in order to grow and maximize them without causing them injury.  If you are not sure if you’re doing something correctly, find an expert who can help and get that extra insight.

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The Concussion & Whiplash Connection

Posted on October 4, 2016. Filed under: Acupuncture Information, Children, Chiropractic, Health, injury, rebuild, Pain | Tags: , , , , , , , |

football-playerBy Dr. Greg Steiner
CA Acupuncture & Chiropractic Clinic

 

Head injuries can happen in a variety of ways and are more prevalent in activities that involve a lot of physical movement.  Playing an aggressive sport like football, soccer, wrestling, or any such type; one is bound to get knocked or bounced around a bit.  Following a hard hit to the head is a possible concussion.  A person can bounce back normally from a low-grade concussion but there are warning signs to look for and keep in mind:

Nausea and vomiting
Headache
Blurred vision
Dizziness
Lethargic and slow to move
Unable to concentrate or remember
Balancing or coordination problems
Slurred speech
Ringing in the ears

With these symptoms there is some varying degree of concussion experienced and should be looked over by a physician to be on the safe side. Simply put, the impact on the head causes the brain to bang against the inside of the skull and create swelling or trauma.  The extra pressure can lead to cognitive impairment and some of the symptoms seen.  Something else that is often overlooked is the neck trauma.  If a person gets concussed, they often get whiplashed.  Sometimes with a hit, the head snaps which jerks the neck back and forth.  Maybe there’s a fall, so there could be a twist in there too.  So, the secondary damage is what happens within the neck area.

Recently I had a patient who took quite a hard fall and had symptoms of a grade 1 concussion but also had a quite painful neck afterwards.  Often the neck or back issue isn’t felt until after the concussion settles down.  Even if the concussion problem heals, there can still be a problem in the neck which could last for several days or even months.   With whiplash, such as in an auto accident, if the person is young and healthy, there could be damage up to a point but if you deal with a slightly older individual, who has an arthritic neck and their joints don’t fit or align properly, their tissues and muscles are less elastic and they are likely to be damaged far more seriously.

Chiropractic care and acupuncture can be very helpful.  It is important to gently work and mobilize the neck and examine for proper function and proper movement very carefully.  The upper back should also be checked because a certain amount of neck pain often originates from the upper back.  All the muscles and tissues are connected to one another so we work with the upper back to make sure the spine, joints, and muscles are working properly because they are the base that the neck sits upon.  The acupuncture can help with relaxation of the injured muscles helping reduce inflammation and being able to help with decreasing pain as well.

Accidents happen, it’s a part of life, but getting the proper treatment and care is an important step which shouldn’t be missed.

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Thinking About Acupuncture, Don’t Fear the Needle

Posted on July 29, 2016. Filed under: Acupuncture Information, Acupuncturist, Children, Health, inflammation, Pain, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

~by Dr. Gregory Steiner

Child receiving AcupunctureMany of us have heard about the benefits of natural healing, the thought of not being dependent on medications, the ability for the body to function optimally based upon proper diet and exercise, and holistic therapies that can heal us of afflictions. Eastern medicine has educated us on the benefits of massage, herbal and aromatherapy, and even acupuncture.  Unfortunately, many of us are reluctant to seek acupuncture treatment because we have a fear, a fear of the unknown and a fear of needles.  But what does the “typical” thought of needle conjure in the mind? Maybe we were traumatized when we received immunization shots as a child, anesthesia shots for fillings, or some other type of injection leaving our brains to associate needles with pain and uncomfortable situations.  Luckily, acupuncture performed correctly by a trained professional causes virtually no pain!

I’m afraid of needles, does acupuncture hurt?
Rest assured that acupuncture needles are in no way similar to hypodermic needles.  First of all, a medical hypodermic needle has a hollow point and sharp edge and must “break” the skin to either insert or withdraw fluid. Acupuncture needles are solid, round-point thin and wire-like and are sterilized and disposable.  With their small size, they are more comparable to a strand of hair.  They are hardly like needles at all.  The depth the needle goes is so shallow that it doesn’t even draw blood.  A helpful comparison is that  between 20 and 40 acupuncture needles can actually fit inside the hollow shaft point of a hypodermic needle (depending on size).  These needles are so small and thin that some of them can actually be passed through a balloon without popping it!

What does it feel like?
Many patients describe the feeling of the needle as either a tingling or pulsating sensation, or a dull ache which soon passes, or not feeling anything at all being inserted.  It only takes a second for the doctors to insert the needle and when working with an experienced practitioner, should relatively be painless.  If by chance, there is discomfort, the needle can be quickly removed and repositioned.  Pain isn’t something that should be felt or elicited; in fact, the acupuncture is used to do the opposite and help alleviate pain.

What is it used for?
Acupuncture can help with a variety of issues, including reduction or elimination of pain, whether it be for the back, neck, shoulders or joints to name a few.  It can help with headaches, stress & anxiety, and even help balance the body which in turn can positively affect the thyroid, menstruation issues, and hormones. It has also been used to increase energy levels and has been effective in weight loss and allergy symptom relief.  The list can go on and on for the benefits that acupuncture can provide.

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What is Sciatica and What Can I Do About It?

Posted on June 3, 2016. Filed under: Acupuncture Information, Chiropractic, Healing, Pain | Tags: , , , , , , |

drgregportrait1test2~by Dr. Greg Steiner

Sciatica is something that strikes terror into the hearts of people who have had it before. It’s referred to as a pain that radiates along the path of the sciatic nerve, which branches from your lower back, through the hips or buttocks down the hamstring and into the leg.  Some people have described the pain like a blood pressure cuff contracting around the ankle.  They may feel  a fire or electricity in the leg or even weird sensations of ants crawling on them, but whatever it is, it’s not right and it usually gets worse with sitting.  They’ll start sitting sideways or in different positions and do anything to get comfortable.  Rarely do pain meds even help in this situation.  Some folks think that it has to do with circulation, but that’s not the case.  The simple formula is that numbness + tingling = nerves.  If you cross your legs too long and your foot goes to sleep, you’ve basically cut off some nerve for a time and when it starts to fire again, it hurts for a bit and then it’s ok.

There are a couple of different causes for Sciatica.  Sometimes it will be a twisted muscle or vertebrae in the back, with muscles pulling this way and that which tugs on the nerve and makes pain go down the leg.  Another way is when someone bends and picks something up, the disc between the vertebrae can be squeezed and when it bulges out, it pokes a nerve.  If it pokes a nerve, it doesn’t hurt where the nerve gets poked, it hurts down the leg.

If left untreated, sciatica can lead to surgery but we prefer a much more conservative approach.  We’ll go through a checklist to determine exactly where the problem is and we work with it to see if it starts to feel better by using chiropractic, acupuncture and body mechanics modification.   Other things that can help relieve sciatica that you can do at home include:

  • Specific exercises for pain relief
  • Icing –best used when sore or swollen
  • Heat – best used when the area feels stiff
  • Natural anti-inflammatories/ herbal therapies
  • Trigger points for self-massage

One of the best things you can do for Sciatica is prevent it in the first place.   The biggest cause of sciatica is actually lifting or handling objects incorrectly.  So, be sure to “Think before you lift”.   Ask yourself, “Am I standing in the correct position?”, “Are there any handling aids that can help?”   The second biggest cause is sitting down for too long which can decay the spine & disc.  When you sit too long, your spine is not moving and flexing thereby prohibiting an adequate supply of nutrients to the area.  If you still feel the pain, just be sure to get checked out with a thorough exam to determine exactly what the problem is and how it should be handled specifically to your needs.

 

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Natural Healing for Skin Problems

Posted on March 3, 2016. Filed under: Acupuncture Information, Allergies, detox, Healing, Health, Immune System, inflammation, Pain, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , |

Magnifying Glass - Healthy LivingBy Dr. Greg Steiner
CA Acupuncture & Chiropractic Clinic

Usually at some point in our lives, we experience some type of skin malady, be it acne as a teen, eczema, dry scalp, psoriasis or rash.  The range of cause is diverse and can include exposure to external irritants (toxins/chemicals often found in soaps, lotions, and shampoos), infestation (ringworm), fungal, nervous system (shingles), allergies and even stress.  Many of these external skin conditions are actually representations of an internal disharmony.

The standard medical approach is to treat the inflammation with an anti-inflammatory, but that doesn’t always treat the cause of it.  Traditional Chinese medicine views it a different way.  For example, eczema is seen as an imbalance of body’s energy which allows external pathogenic factors to attack causing itch, inflammation, as well as dry and red skin. Chinese medicine treats eczema not by suppressing the immune response but rather correcting the imbalances that are causing the eczema. By correcting or removing these imbalances your body is able to heal on its own.

Acupuncture has been used quite successfully for skin conditions.  When the body is out of balance, there is often illness. If the skin problem looks red, this means the patient has heat (inflammation) in the blood. The redder the skin, the more heat in the blood. This gets worse in hot weather. Most cases of eczema involve heat (inflammation) in the blood. If the skin feels dry, this means the condition involves blood deficiency.  If the skin blisters or oozes or has pustules, this means that the patient has a condition called “dampness” in Chinese medicine.  Once those representations have been identified, the patient is treated accordingly.  If the skin conditions are identified as “heat” then acupuncture points would be used to literally “cool off” or counteract the heat and restore the balance.  Different points are used to restore and normalize things.

 

One of the greatest effects an individual can have on their own body is by modification of their diet.  Omega oils and essential fatty acids like wild-caught fish and flaxseed oil are extremely beneficial and can reduce eczema and psoriasis symptoms.  Refined foods and sugars have been determined to increase inflammation and therefore should be avoided.  Those with food intolerances should avoid any potential allergens which could be gluten, dairy, shellfish or peanuts.  There are also several Chinese herbs that work well according to the ailment which include Zhi Yang, Rhubarb, and Fen Ci.  All in all, the best approach is holistic, which considers the whole body.  Food choices, sleep, exposure, and even emotional health all play a role in our health and well-being.

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Why Does My Back Hurt?

Posted on February 2, 2016. Filed under: Chiropractic, Health, Joints, Pain, Posture, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

bigstock-Back-pain-14431652By Dr. Greg Steiner
CA Acupuncture & Chiropractic Clinic

There are many reasons why your back is hurting.  It could be poor posture, an injury, long term wear and tear, etc…  But the pain you are feeling, like fire shooting through your veins or the dull ache that seems constant is usually a form of inflammation.  Whether the problem stems from doing too much or too little, the result can end you up in the same place.  One of the worst things you can do is go from one extreme to another.  If you sit behind your desk all day long and then decide to go out and aggressively clean the entire yard (like shoveling mulch, pulling weeds, etc.) you could be setting yourself up for a painful injury.

Our backs have discs that are designed to cushion the bones.  When we move, those discs work like little squishy sponges.  When we move to the right, that part of the disc compresses while the other side stretches.  These discs need to ingest a certain amount of nutrients to stay healthy.

For the person who sits most of the day and doesn’t move around, the discs essentially start to starve because nutrients aren’t being circulated and they start to become brittle.  When they become brittle, they start to flake and decay and become inflamed at a quicker rate.  So by living a sedentary lifestyle and doing nothing, you can actually harm yourself even more.

For the opposite type of individuals whose career involves moving around a lot, especially those that are athletes, they too can experience problems.  For example, if a long distance runner has improper technique, the discs in their spine or “shock absorbers” can wear out faster.  Even though there is plenty of motion going on, the body is overwhelmed and can’t re-supply all the nutrients it needs quick enough to rebuild, so inflammation starts in that way as well.

Posture can also attribute to back pain.  If you take a bowling ball and hold it straight up, it’s not so hard to do, but if you keep moving it forward inch by inch, for every inch you let your arm creep forward, it will increasingly feel heavier and be harder to hold.  Imagine your head like the bowling ball with all that stress on your neck, there will probably be pain in the upper back which eventually will travel down the spine to include pain in the lower back as well.  The neck and back overwork all day long, the tissues hyper stretch out and they become inflamed and begin to hurt.

That’s why I recommend getting a checkup.  Having your posture analyzed and corrected  can help pinpoint some of the reasons you may be having back pain and help get you on the track to feeling better and reducing that back pain.

 

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Do I Need to Cleanse & Detox?

Posted on January 7, 2016. Filed under: cleanse, detox, Healing, Health, Pain, Weightloss | Tags: , , , , , , , |

~By Dr. Greg Steiner

Magnifying Glass - Healthy Living

Cleansing & detoxing seem to be all the rage these days.  There are 2, 5, 7, 10, or even 21 day cleansing programs available that promise to clean out all those harmful toxins that are currently ravaging your body and wreaking havoc on your immune system.  But if you think about it, our body is seemingly bombarded on a daily basis from toxins we get from water, household cleaners, air pollution, chemicals, food additives and the list goes on and on.  Some of these things become neurotoxins in our systems and impair proper nerve function, cause tremors, lack of sleep, inability to focus, unexplained weight gain, etc… Or they can become hormone disruptors, interfering with testosterone or estrogen.  What these neurotoxins & hormone disruptors do is block or disrupt normal metabolism.  They build up within your system and the effect can be cumulative.

What happens if you’re toxic?

The two organs most affected are usually the kidneys and the liver.  The liver is the metabolic power plant, but a lot of these toxins get stored in the fat as well.  When you go on a diet to lose weight and detox yourself, some of these toxins can still be released into your system and be metabolized or even re-metabolized in the body.  If they get into the liver, metabolic pathways may not function optimally.

These symptoms can be very broad and vague with headaches, muscle pain, body odors, or fatigue. Sometimes it’s hard to nail down exactly the issue, but you know you just don’t feel right.  In my own practice, I’ve seen many people vigorously & diligently clean up their diet, use a detox regimen along with drinking lots of water, allowed a little bit of time (patience being a key ingredient in this process), go through almost miraculous changes.  They feel a whole lot better and many have been able to minimize the medications they’re on and in some cases even come off of them.

How do I benefit from doing this?

Detoxification  is a lot about supporting organ function while minimizing exposure.  When you support the kidneys and liver and give them a rest from exposure to toxins or even regular food,  the theory is that your body will work to get rid of the garbage in your system and allow itself to recover and heal.  The real benefit is that while going through your “cleansing & detox” process, the herbs, clean “green” type drinks, and ample supply of water you drink help create the bridge over to living a better lifestyle afterwards.  Cravings for caffeine, sugar, and salty foods become greatly reduced, energy increases, and even your attitude towards exercise and staying healthy becomes predominately positive!

Be sure to do your “due diligence” in research when you start a cleanse/detox.  There is no magic drink or pill.  You’ve got to combine the program with the right type of nutrition for optimal success.

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Practice Deep Breathing Daily

Posted on December 10, 2015. Filed under: Breathing, Exercise, Pain, Posture, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

Taking cleansing deep breaths can help your health!

A major cause of illness in the elderly are lung infections. This is partly due to limited or the inability for daily exercise.  When people don’t move around enough, lung fluid can become infected and settle in the bottom part of the lungs where it can’t get out. Taking deep healthy breaths and ideally moving around helps circulation,  one of the best natural defenses against lung infections.

Another reason for practicing consciously deep breathing is that taking shallow breaths means you have to work harder and take more breaths to oxygenate your blood properly.  When you have inferior breathing, it’s less efficient having to take more breaths to try to compensate. You can become more fatigued by not breathing deeply.

Chinese medicine, talks about “qi gong” which is a breathing, energy movement where one is inhaling the good energies and purging bad energies and using healthy visualizations as well.bigstock-Beautiful-young-woman-doing-yo-13202339

Yoga is an excellent practice which provides exercise and necessary stretching of the muscles but also takes breathing to an art form.  This is a wonderful form of exercise and deep breathing recommended for all ages.

 

 

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Staying Healthy & Fit During the Holidays

Posted on December 10, 2015. Filed under: Exercise, Health, Pain | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

Fitness womanThis time of the season can be splendid or dreadful all depending on how we deal with it. A lot of it comes down to what a person does or doesn’t do.  One thing to keep up good health is to cut down on the sugar.  It only takes about 30 minutes after consuming sugar for the immune system to start to suffer.  With more sugar in their bodies, people can have an under functioning immune system which is one of several reasons people get sick often.  Through my clinical experience, I’ve also noticed that if people eat more sugar, they tend to hurt more, especially in their joints.  If they hurt more, they tend to exercise less.  It’s a downward spiral.

Another way to stay healthy is to actually go outside and get some fresh air.  During the cold season, we’re cooped up more often and outside much less.  If you spend a lot of time in a closed environment with a bunch of people with compromised immune systems, your exposure to illness will be greater (think schools, offices, department stores, etc.). Try to get outside and get in some sunshine as well.  Most people are deficient in vitamin d in the winter so supplementation is a good idea.  As a matter of fact, a good combination to battle the cold is to take in vitamin C and zinc.  Zinc is good to have a steady supplementation of during cold and flu season (which happens to correspond with the holiday season).  Vitamin d can help boost the immune system and can also help reduce joint pains as well.

And don’t let stress get the best of you either! Holiday shopping, parties, organizing and the like can stress people out and cause the hormone cortisol to increase which is implicated in weight gain.  Part of weight gain isn’t just about having more sugar or over indulgence, it also includes the stress hormone, cortisol.  It’s very important if you have some type of exercise program to keep it up. Don’t wait until New Year’s for the resolution.  It’s best to stay active with some type of steady exercise during the holidays.  It helps keep you fit and is a natural stress reducer.

 

 

 

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