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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Repairing Your Body After Injury

Posted on July 14, 2016. Filed under: Aging, Exercise, Healing, Health, injury, rebuild, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Heat map Acupuncture doll

By Dr. Greg Steiner
CA Acupuncture & Chiropractic Clinic

In its simplest terms, aging could be described as the body’s failure to repair. We grow, we mature, we reach various physical and mental peaks, and then…..we age.  When we are young our hormones, e.g. testosterone and growth hormone – are at high levels and command our bodies to grow and repair; our circulatory system is efficient as it transports those hormones and necessary nutrients towards muscles and organs; we have more enzymes that we know what to do with that make the chemical process necessary for growth and repair work at super speed. Though other factors are involved, hormones, transportation, enzymes and nutrients form the basis for growth, and its first cousin – repair.

Have you noted when an athlete of say, 20 years of age sustains an injury he or she seems able to be back on the field in just a few weeks? If an athlete of age 30 sustains an identical injury, it’s often much longer before return to play. At age 40, who knows?  The younger athlete’s speed of recovery demonstrates all those factors in play, working fast and in a coordinated way.

Of course with every injury comes scar tissue. If you tear a hamstring, it will eventually heal, but somewhere within the muscle will likely be a cluster of tough, stringy tissue that while strong, is nowhere near as elastic as the original muscle, nor does it have the same circulation properties which means the scar won’t receive or use nutrients as effectively as original tissue. One thing that I’d say every aging fitness person or athlete knows very, very well is what a painful body feels like. All the accumulated injuries of younger years are still present in scar tissue, and as the body loses efficiency and elasticity, the aging athlete feels them all the more. That’s why putting a strong emphasis on ‘repair’ is crucial to prolonging your active life and living a vigorous lifestyle.

While a team doctor for Master’s weightlifters in Scotland, I would often converse with coaches and lifters who had travelled to Eastern Europe and Russia to train, learn and exchange ideas. Though many bits and pieces of knowledge were exchanged during these travels, two factors truly stuck out. First, the emphasis on conditioning no matter what the sport practiced; and second, how much effort they would put into restoration.  One way of summing up the ‘conditioning’ emphasis was to say ‘an athlete is as good as his legs,’ meaning that legs take real effort to condition, and if the legs are strong and have stamina the whole person probably does too.

Repair then, is replacing what has been lost, mending what has been torn, restoring arrangements in what has been disrupted and so on. To live is to be injured, but through nutrition, good body mechanics, enzymatic replacement, and the right type of conditioning your body has the ability to restore itself.

 

 

 

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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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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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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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Slowing the Aging Process

Posted on November 20, 2015. Filed under: Acupuncture Information, Aging, Chiropractic, Exercise, Health, Hormone, Joints, Pain, Posture, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

~ by Dr. Greg Steinerbigstock-Mature-couple-having-fun-in-co-13905050

Growing old is inevitable, but getting old shouldn’t be used as an excuse.  For those who say, “I can’t do this because I’m getting older”, that’s an insufficient answer.  You don’t have to fear aging and let it prohibit you from the things you want to do.  There are a number of things that can be done to slow the process or at the least, allow you to age well.

Many processes going on in the body effect how we age.  Circulation is one of them.  It’s similar to having narrow roads, with fewer trucks on the road making deliveries.  Circulation is our transport system for our bodie’s resources, namely oxygen and nutrition.  As we age, we have a less efficient delivery system.  Also influenced by age is mobility and elasticity.  The gradual need for reading glasses demonstrates a decrease in elasticity in eyes.  It’s kind of ironic how we age that certain things get saggy while other things stiffen up.  Hormones can also get out of whack.  Testosterone & estrogen usually become unbalanced and growth hormone, responsible for repair also decreases.  Imbalanced thyroid levels and insulin can lead us to  suffer from fatigue and other issues.  And let’s not forget about inflammation.  There is inflammation that comes from a recent injury (like breaking a toe), but there’s also inflammation from an injury from 10 years ago.  Some of this stems from scar tissue forming, which over the years becomes less elastic and reduced circulation in that area.  Natural anti-inflammatories in the body work at a slower rate so we feel pain in that particular spot.

But know this, all of those things, at least by some degree are correctable.  Stretching for elasticity and mobility is helpful, but won’t necessarily solve everything.  Due to the computer generation, people these days can barely turn their neck left or right.  It’s double the problem from what I was seeing 20 years ago.  If the neck isn’t kept flexible, it can promote shoulder pain and headaches as well.

Chiropractic can be very helpful in restoring and maintaining mobility and flexibility.  Some people stretch and stretch yet still can’t touch their toes.  Usually this indicates a ligament issue.  Their bones and spine aren’t flexing.  One of the secrets to having a bouncy, happy walk isn’t about being flexible, it’s about having your bones & ligaments moving properly.  If everything is aligned and moving correctly, and the structure is perfectly aligned, the individual has a light, bouncy walk with or without flexibility.

Diet and exercise can help circulation.  Acupuncture and herbs are also useful in promoting circulation as well as helping reduce inflammation.  If you improve the circulation, you’ve got a better supply system which can transport out the waste products.  The healthy diet can then provide the right nutrition to be transported in.  Blood tests can determine how well hormones are balanced.

Everything is tied into one another.  Just like a plate of spaghetti, if one noodle falls off, it usually takes several with it.  Just be sure to treat all the issues together as a whole rather than trying to look at each “noodle” independently.

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Natural Allergy Relief

Posted on April 7, 2015. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

bigstock-Mature-couple-having-fun-in-co-13905050~by Dr. Greg Steiner
CA Acupuncture & Chiropractic Clinic

There are many ways to treat allergies.  Many of the over the counter allergy medicines go by the name of anti-histamines thus eliminating histamine response.  These meds serve as temporary fire extinguishers that can give some relief albeit short-lived and must be used repeatedly to keep the symptoms at bay.  Other allergic reactions may be to dust or mold which can be effectively removed in most households thus eliminating or reducing the severity of the problem.  But air-borne irritants like pollen are almost impossible to avoid; they even stick to our clothing when we go outside and thus we “wear” them wherever we go!

It’s important to note that there are allergies and there are hyper-sensitivities which chemically are slightly different.  An allergy can show up on a scratch test, yet a hyper-sensitivity may not although the symptoms such as scratchy or itchy eyes or throat, runny nose, and sneezing are still present in both types.

A completely drug free, natural alternative for allergy or hyper-sensitivity symptom relief can be found in a treatment called NAET (stands for Nambudribad’s Allergy Elimination Technique) which works wonders when combined with acupuncture.  Even though acupuncture is well established and has been utilized for centuries, it still remains controversial with western medicine.  That said, I’ve had remarkable success with patients implementing these techniques in helping not only determine the root cause of the allergy but also overcoming its effects.

The testing is somewhat provocative (to provoke a response) in that you try to provide a sample of the possible allergen and introduce it to the patient.  If they have a weakness or some other symptom in the body after exposure to it, a determination can be made.  It’s important to have an experienced practitioner who can identify even the subtlest of reactions in the patient.  The real usefulness of this is that there is a more precise and targeted application of the acupuncture.  With these treatments, the allergen is identified and then the body is taught how to reduce the allergic response to it.  A recipe is created on how to help the individual deal more effectively with their allergies.

What some people don’t realize is that there is often an interaction between food and atmospheric allergens as well.  For example, if a person has low grade inflammation all the time because of the type of food they are eating (i.e. gluten or dairy intolerance) and you add pollen into the mix, their allergic reaction may be even more intense.  These sensitivities to some degree are cumulative to each other.  If we can get a handle on the food or dietary allergies/sensitivities plus the environmental sensitivities, the patient not only learns what their triggers may be but can get good results naturally without having to rely on medications for relief.

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The Importance of the Nap

Posted on March 3, 2015. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

Tired woman yawning~by Dr. Greg Steiner

In today’s society, there’s an unbelievable amount of pressure for an individual to always be on the go, high energy, and moving 100 miles per hour.  Unfortunately, this can usually only last for so long before the after-effects take their toll.  It’s been scientifically proven that chronic lack of sleep can wreak havoc on the body and even lead to a shorter life span.

Instead of feeling guilty about being exhausted and craving rest, allow yourself to take some time out for rejuvenation and body healing in the form of a nap!  Taking some down-time isn’t about being lazy or unmotivated, it’s an opportunity to hit the reset button and give your body a chance to restore itself.

Naps can facilitate a whole host of positive changes in the body.  Benefits include de-stressing, balancing hormones and blood sugar levels as well as clearing the mind.  Many times during the day our mind and body are so busy with activity as well trying to be as productive as possible that it seems as though there becomes of build-up inside the brain, call it cluttered or clogged but it prohibits the ability to focus or really think clearly and taking a siesta (nap), allows a lot of those issues to drift away.  You wake up feeling refreshed with no interference with only one voice playing in your head; just one radio channel instead of 25 playing simultaneously.  Many of the world’s greatest discoveries have come upon waking up, whether in the morning or right after a nap!

Since everyone responds differently, your “prime” nap time may defer from others.  The best nap for you is that which allows you to fall asleep quickly, sleep for the shortest amount of time, yet still wake refreshed & invigorated.  Some people get their best results from a quick cat nap of 15 minutes while others feel better when they nap between 20-40 minutes. Try not to nap for too long or you make not wake easily and could feel groggy and tired.

It has been said that the best time of the day to take a nap is from 1:00pm to 3:00pm, when energy levels usually dip for most folks.  Try out these tips for a more effective naptime:

Make the room dark

  • Don’t nap within 3 hours of bedtime as this can interfere with your night’s sleep
  • Find a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed
  • Set an alarm – it prohibits you from oversleeping
  • Find a comfortable place to rest, it could be on the couch or your car during work hours
  • Make sure the temperature in the room is agreeable, not too hot or cold

I see people quite often fall asleep during their acupuncture sessions.  That’s actually a good thing!  Like every other natural restorative process, it stimulates the body’s own healing abilities and can promote feelings of peacefulness and relaxation, something so many of us need due to our hectic and busy lifestyles.

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Staying on Target with Your New Year’s Health Resolutions

Posted on December 2, 2014. Filed under: Acupuncture Information, Exercise, Weightloss | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

bigstock-Winner--Success-concept-Hike-38730274By Dr. Gregory Steiner
CA Acupuncture & Chiropractic Clinic

It’s now January and many of us have made some resolutions for a happier and healthier new year.  But whether your resolution is losing weight, quitting smoking or stopping bad habits, there are steps you need to take to ensure success of those goals.

Many people make weight loss part of their resolution, but many people give up their goal after the first month or two.  So how do you make sure you don’t give up your resolutions by Valentine’s Day?

Write it down & be specific.  People often make abstract resolutions:  “Enjoy life”, “Be happier”, etc… Instead, look for a specific measurable action.  “Do 50 pushups every day”, or “Drink 10 glasses of water daily”.  Just writing down “stay fit and healthy” doesn’t provide enough direction for you to follow to achieve success.

Place your resolutions where you can see them constantly.  Out of sight, out of mind comes into play here.  When you see your written resolutions every day, you’re more likely to follow through with them.

Hold yourself accountable.  Accountability is important to success with resolutions.  That’s why Jenny Craig and AA are so effective.  Make a calendar & check off your list each day or exchange updates with your spouse.  If you miss the mark on one of your resolutions that day, make up for it the next, but don’t beat yourself up for it.

Do what it takes for the best success & follow through.  Making a statement like “Losing Weight” doesn’t give you enough information to help you be successful.  Think about what “Losing Weight” will entail.  By providing smaller steps to achieve the big picture, you can ensure greater success.  Think, “eating 1/3 smaller meals than I usually eat”, “only eating bread once a week”, “eating 4 different vegetables daily (nothing fried)”.  Also consider what you can do in addition to help aid the success of your goals.  Exercise will help with weight loss, but additional therapies like acupuncture (great for suppressing appetite and curbing cravings) and herbal therapy can also support the process.

Don’t quit.  Easier said than done, but even if you’ve slipped backwards and feel like you fell of the wagon.  Get back up and keep going!  Think positive and positive things will happen.

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