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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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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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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Is Sitting at the Computer Wrecking Your Health?

Posted on August 26, 2014. Filed under: Chiropractic, Exercise, Fatigue, Health, Pain | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

sitting at desk~by Dr. Gregory Steiner
CA Acupuncture & Chiropractic Clinic

 

In today’s society, more and more job positions are computer centralized requiring extended amounts of time sitting at a desk.  And it’s not only on the job, but at home and practically everywhere we go. Whether for work or pleasure, we spend a lot of time on the computer (including tablets and smartphones) and in turn spend a lot of time sitting in a stationary position.  Sitting down all day long can be terrible for your health, as it increases the likelihood of heart disease, weight gain, back aches and pain – among other ills.  Think about how much we sit – we sit at the office, we sit in the car, we sit to eat and even to watch tv!

Twenty years ago, the chiropractic issues I treated resulted from overwork of the spinal discs, usually brought about from manual type labor.  Now these discs in the back are becoming underworked.  The discs in your back function like a sponge.  Their job is to create a cushion between your bones but they must be nourished.  They need to flex and bend.  If they become undernourished and underused, decay sets in faster and they become more narrow and brittle.  The end result leads to increased back & joint pain.

Another result of “over-sitting” at a desk all day is incredibly poor posture.  I see patients starting to have an exaggeration of the head tipped forward with shoulders rolled inward and rounded. This forward tipping creates huge tensions on the neck.  Muscles become very imbalanced & the ones in the back of the neck are under strain all the time because things are rolled forward.  This creates weakness on one part of the body and tightness on the other part.  In the short run, this creates muscle tension.  If not corrected, the ligaments that hold the bones together actually over-stretch and the bones actually start to change shape.  If the neck and head are tilted just an inch forward, it can increase the weight of the head on the neck by 10 pounds.  A decade later that inch may have become more like 3 inches, increasing the weight of the head on the neck by 30 pounds.  This forward head position has become one of the most common causes of neck, head and shoulder tension and pain.

How can we fix this?  Small changes practiced consistently over a long period of time can make a big difference.  Try some of these:

Take hourly breaks.  Every hour, get up from the desk and walk around or stretch.  Do this for at least 2-5 minutes.  Set your mobile device or computer to alert you as a reminder to just move.

Optimize your workstation.  Fix your chair so that your legs bend at a 90 degree angle.  Have support for your upper and lower back.   Make sure your computer screen isn’t too low so that you need to bend your head down to look at it.

Sit the right way.  Try to sit tall with your shoulders back and stomach muscles engaged.  Tilt your pelvis forward and arch your lower back.  Don’t slouch or lean forward.

Exercise while at the desk.  Raise your legs while seated on your chair to stretch out your hip flexors.  Raise your arms over your head and then stretch to the left or right.  You can even do isolated isometric glute squeezes.

If you can multi-task while performing your office duties, you can teach your body to multi-task as well.  You don’t need to sit still like a statue as you work.  Ever hear of “getting those juices flowing”?  Your body will thank you for it!

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Natural Relief from Headaches

Posted on August 30, 2013. Filed under: Acupuncture Information, Acupuncturist, Chiropractic, Healing, Health, Pain | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

Stress~By Dr. Gregory Steiner
CA Acupuncture & Chiropractic Clinic

Headaches can develop from a variety of issues. Not enough water (dehydration) is one of the most common types which can easily be remedied by drinking an adequate supply of water daily (usually 10-12 glasses). Other types of headaches can result from muscular tension, poor posture, hormonal imbalance, diet, etc.. Toxicity can also lead to headaches, whether its junky food or exposure to chemicals (think household cleaners & air pollution). Toxins jams up metabolic pathways by blocking off hormones or high jacking an organ to where it produces too much of one thing and not enough of another. All these things funnel into a cause for a headache. For example, if you inhale too many fumes while painting your house, you get a headache. If you catch a bug, which is a form of toxicity, you get a headache.

In today’s day and age, pain relievers can be a useful temporary tool to alleviate the pain, but many people have had headaches for so long that they have become dependent upon medication and feel they have no other option than to take them. Unfortunately, these pills only mask the pain, they don’t correct it. As an alternative to medication, many people are seeking natural forms of pain relief. Acupuncture & Chiropractic care are two of the top choices.

The type of headache you have can help determine the best course of action for treatment. Many headaches are generated from muscle tension. It’s very common for tension to occur at the base of the neck, having generated from the upper back area. If a person holds their head forward (often seen in those who text or regularly use cell phones) a lot of tension develops in the neck over time and the muscles start to become habitually over tensed and over stretched simultaneously; this sets up a chronic inflammation which generates headaches. Chiropractic adjustments and repositioning the muscles can work wonders.

Other types of headaches such as migraines, cluster, those behind the eyes may not be muscularly related can benefit from Acupuncture. The wonderful thing about Acupuncture is that it can create a reduction in inflammation and muscular relaxation all on its own. It can change up the blood flow and circulation to provide pain killing relief as well.

Acupuncture can benefit just about everyone, the pain relieving effect especially. It can supplement or augment everything or it can stand alone. For certain types of treatment, chiropractic may be the best choice. Overall, using Acupuncture and Chiropractic combined can produce an even greater positive effect and long lasting results.

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Water & Acupuncture = A Good Mix

Posted on July 3, 2013. Filed under: Acupuncture Information, Acupuncturist, Healing, Health, Joints | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

water & acupuncture combinedIt’s pretty common knowledge that most people don’t drink enough water.  Some people figure if they drink lots of coffee or soda, or even alcoholic beverages, it counts for water intake.  On the contrary,  instead of quenching your thirst and providing you with hydration, these caffeinated or alcoholic drinks cause your body to lose water reserves instead of adding to it.  So in theory, for every alcoholic or caffeinated drink you take, you have to drink 1 more glass of water to counter balance the effect.  Just make sure you meet the minimum requirement of at least 8 glasses of water a day (64 ounces), and even more if you are vigorously exercising.

Avoid Alcohol & Coffee before & after  Acupuncture
Drinking alcohol or coffee before your acupuncture session can reduce your positive experience.  Because one of the main goals of acupuncture is to bring greater clarity and consciousness to how we really feel, alcohol or coffee before the session can disrupt the bodily awareness.  Since alcohol impairs the senses and caffeinated coffee heightens them, both can potentially counteract or mask the effects of acupuncture.

It’s also important to steer clear of those beverages for a day or two after your acupuncture session as well.  Because acupuncture can help release toxins in the body, staying effectively hydrated will help flush out those toxins.  Drinking clean water works best to do the job. Alcohol and coffee will only work to dehydrate the body, so stay clear.

Interesting Water Facts

  • Most headaches are caused by dehydration.  Simple solution:  drink lots of water!
  • Constipation is a sure sign of not enough water.
  • Hangovers are usually caused by not enough water.  This is due to the fact that alcohol inhibits hormones in the kidney from retaining water therefore allowing your body to lose its reserves
  • At least 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated
  • Being mildly dehydrated can slow down the metabolism as much as 3%
  • One glass of water staved off hunger pangs for 98% of the dieters observed in a Univ. of Wash study
  • Sleepiness & fatigue in the afternoon are triggered by lack of enough water
  • Research has shown that drinking between 8-10 glasses of water daily can significantly ease back and joint pain for up to 80% of sufferers
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Kids Backpacks – Preventing Injury & Pain

Posted on August 6, 2012. Filed under: Chiropractic, Pain | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

bigstock-Happy-school-kids-giving-thumb-42775159~by Dr. Gregory Steiner

The beginning of the new school year brings excitement and enthusiasm.  With that, the inevitable purchases for school supplies including those brand new back packs!  Unfortunately, overloaded, heavy and improperly worn kid’s backpacks have accounted for several thousand visits to the doctor and ER room each year.  Most of these visits can easily be avoided.  Kids should not be in pain when carrying their school books to classes each day.   The following tips serve as a great guideline in prevention for improper use of school back packs.  Use these proactive solutions to help prevent injuries:

  • Make sure the backpack is a good fit for the child.  Bigger bags encourage over filling.  Many back packs are now equipped with wheels, provided the handle extends long enough to allow the child to stand upright while pulling it.
  • Shoulder straps should be adjustable, wide and padded.
  • Never carry the pack on just one side of the shoulder.  It produces an uneven distribution of weight on one side forcing the child to lean, which can result in a pinching of the shoulder muscle causing it to not function properly and creating uncomfortable pain on one side.  Always use both shoulder straps.
  • Make sure the shoulder straps are tight enough so the pack hangs slightly below the shoulders with no more than 4 inches hanging below the waist.
  • Use waist and chest straps – it improves how the bag is positioned on the body and encourages the bag to be worn over both shoulders.
  • Doctors suggest that no one carry more than 15% of their weight in the backpack.  If a child weighs 70 lbs, they should not be carrying more than 10 ½  lbs in their pack.  No one should carry more than 25 lbs in a backpack.
  • Pack the heavier items at the bottom.  The goal here is to transfer the weight to the hips.  A backpack with compartments helps keep the load in place.

Inform kids on the importance of keeping a light backpack and to store their unnecessary items in their locker or desk.  Other options would be to keep a second set of the heavy text books at home if possible.  Don’t be afraid to discuss the issue with the teachers if the backpacks are too heavy with all the books the children are required to take home.

The downside of improper back pack use and too much weight are many.  With heavy backpacks, kids begin to lean forward and thereby throw off their natural state of balance.  Eventually, they may experience an alteration in the curve of the middle and lower back as well as increase muscle strain and irritating the spinal joints resulting in a rounding of the shoulders.  Be sure to ask your child how comfortable they feel with their loaded back packs and take notice to see if their shoulders are equally level and whether they are hunching forward.  If you’ve taken the above precautions but your child complains of pain or doesn’t stand correctly when at ease (with or without a back pack) a doctor should be consulted.

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Far-Infared Heat & Light Therapy Aids Healing

Posted on June 1, 2012. Filed under: Healing, Joints, Pain, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

tdp lamp

Light & Heat Therapy for Healing

The TDP mineral lamp is  a type of far-infared therapy.  Often called the “Miracle Lamp”, as it helps with pain relief and treats an assortment of ailments including back pain, arthritis, shoulder and joint pain among others.  Infrared heat lamp therapy is something we all experience in the form of sunlight. While we can all see the visible light, the heat that you feel when you are out in the sun and your skin is warmed comes from the infrared light rays. This far infrared heat coming from the sun is not dangerous to your skin like the ultraviolet light rays are. Infrared light has been shown to be beneficial to health which is why many people are interested in infrared heat lamp therapy.

Infrared heat therapy emits infrared radiant heat which is absorbed directly into the body. The infrared heat activates and ionizes water molecules in the body and helps to increase blood circulation, stimulates the production of collagen, and rid the body of toxins as well as many other health and beauty benefits.

Because TDP lamp therapy penetrates deep into muscle tissue, it is often used for pain relief. Arthritis sufferers can greatly benefit from heat therapy as it decreases the stiffness in the joints. Athletes can also benefit by using it on sore muscles, inflammations, and to reduce muscle spasms. In addition to relieving pain, it also increases muscle and joint flexibility.

The TDP lamp or TDP mineral lamp is a medical device that has clinical evidence confirming that it can reduce inflammation, calm pain, and improve micro-circulation, and balance metabolism. Evidence was gathered substantiating TDP mineral lamp use promoted cell growth, reproduction, and repair, concurrently with promotion of specific enzyme activity levels and immune function.

Unlike other conventional far infrared lamps, a TDP lamp contains a curing plate. The curing plate, the key component for a TDP lamp, is coated with a proprietary mineral formation consisting of 33 elements essential to the human body. When the curing plate is heated to a certain temperature, it emits unique bio-spectrum electromagnetic waves in 1-25 microns allowing for a maximum absorption into the human body. The absorbed energy promotes microcirculation and metabolism, strengthens the immune system, and achieves short- and long-term pain relief.

In the past 16 years, TDP lamps have been used to treat millions of patients with various chronic ailments worldwide. In China, people refer to the TDP lamp as the “Miracle Lamp” due to its incredible success in treating chronic ailments.

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Wrist Problems: Part 2

Posted on November 2, 2011. Filed under: Exercise, Healing, Joints, Pain | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

by Dr. Gregory Steiner~

Carpal tunnel syndrome is only one of many potential problems associated with the wrist joints. Because it is so common, let’s have a better look at specific symptoms and possible corrections for this very aggravating syndrome.

We touched on this last issue, but the capsule summary of what carpal tunnel feels like is this: there is pain, numbness or tingling on the palm side of the wrist which can be worse at night. The symptoms can be mild to very annoying and painful, and can be short or long term sometimes of month’s duration. It may be that you feel an unusual ‘clumsiness’ when trying to grab something small, as though you can’t quite make your fingers and hand do what you want them to. You might notice shrinkage in the size of the palm just under the thumb.

Just to refresh the memory, the usual people who develop carpal tunnel syndrome include not only computer operators, but carpenters, assembly line workers and……..weight lifters! And, a cautionary note is needed here. Most of the time carpal tunnel syndrome is mechanical in origin, from repetitive strain on the wrist when using the wrist for extended periods of time when it is bent forwards or backwards. In weight training the common causes are incorrect wrist position in presses and curls, or simple overwork.

Sometimes patients present into my clinic with wrist complaints mimicking carpal tunnel, and we can trace the cause back to doing overhead or bench presses with tired forearms which prevent the wrists from holding firm. Without the muscle support the wrist joints bend backwards too much, creating an abnormal stretch on the palm side of the wrist, and a compression of the back side. In such cases—if you feel an abnormal fatigue before training wearing a wrist support or taping the wrist may be helpful. As always though, getting dependent on any kind of support is not a good idea, as support tissues need exercise to strengthen. We used to see this a lot in neck cases associated with whiplash, when people were advised to wear collars. In the early days of care this is not a bad idea, but what we found is that people became scared to do without them and by this time their undamaged neck muscles had weakened which only made things worse. Remember, supports are like supplements—you use them when you need them, but not as a way off life unless you have a long-standing weakness that is impossible to fully correct.

As is often the case with musculoskeletal problems, there is a muscle associated with carpal tunnel syndrome that can contain contributory trigger points. That muscle is called the palmaris longus; which starts on the inner part of the upper elbow and extends into the palm. It is one of the muscles that helps bend the wrist forwards. In persons with normal anatomy there is no problem, but if the muscle is constructed slightly differently it can compress or otherwise irritate the nerve that is responsible for true carpal tunnel syndrome. If a trigger point is present, you can compress it hard for up to 30 seconds. To find the trigger point, draw an imaginary line from your ring finger up to your elbow, just to the inside of the tendon you feel when your arm is bent. Press in that line, about ¼-1/3 of the way from your elbow to your wrist. If the point is active you may feel a sensation in your wrist. The bad news is that if the muscle is anatomically altered, it may require a surgical decompression to sort it out.

Another muscle—the flexor carpi radialis which lies just to the thumb side of the palmaris longus–could contain a trigger point that you may think is carpal tunnel but is really not. In any event, if the trigger point is present it could cause pain on the palm side of the wrist. A typical activity which aggravates the trigger point is using scissors to cut tough material- gripping and squeezing a hand gripper would cause pain as well. To find the trigger point, press just to the thumb side of the palmaris longus trigger point area.

Note: sometime finding trigger points is like going on a fishing expedition. You don’t know whether they are there, and you only have a general notion of where they are. And, you need to look both shallow and deep to locate either fish or trigger points!

It is possible that a problem in the neck could create the symptoms as well. As a chiropractor I always look to the neck when I evaluate an extremity problem, as what I have often found over the years in stubborn cases that have not responded to direct treatment to the involved area are neck problems. In such cases there is often an irritation of one or more of the nerves that give sensation to the wrist and power to the muscles that move it. Usually evaluation of neck-related carpal tunnel requires professional analysis, but a rough test is this: tilt your head sideways, first to one side and then to the other. Then bend it forwards and backwards. Then to the side and back. Make the movements slowly but strongly, and take the motion to the end point of the range of motion. If any of these movements creates a “nervy” sensation down your arm, into your upper back or into the wrist, you may have a neck problem that is creating difficulties farther away from the neck. A useful picture to keep in mind is that of the spine as the fuse box, with the nerves as electrical wires. The muscles are the appliances that run off the electricity provided by the spine, as directed by the nerves.

Let’s say you find a trigger point or two, and take care of it by direct pressure. What next?

If the discomfort is really bad and the power in the wrist or grip is poor, a short-term use of a wrist splint could be of use, especially at night if sleep is a problem. Corrective exercise takes place in stages. First, do some light isometrics. Bend your wrist backwards and hold it there for 7-10 seconds, but for the first two weeks with only moderate force. Then increase the force of the contraction.

The second stage involves the use of wrist extensions, usually called reverse forearm curls. Dumbbells or an EZ curl would be better than a barbell at this stage, because the barbell may force the wrist to internally rotate (also called pronation) too much for a sore wrist to comfortably take. Sit down on a bench and using light dumbbells such as 5 lbs, rest your forearms on your thighs, palm down with the dumbbell hanging in front of your knee. Bend your wrist backwards. Do higher repetitions- perhaps 20 or more per set; do 3 or more sets. An alternate position is to kneel at the side of the bench with your forearms resting on the bench, dumbbells hanging over the opposite side. Another exercise is too make figure eights with the dumbbell, again for higher reps. If the dumbbell is really light, increase the reps up to 50. There is no need to add real weight at this stage as mobility, neuromuscular co-ordination and rehabilitation are being developed, not size or big strength. Daily or nearly daily performance of the programme is fine.

The third and final stage involves continuing these basic exercises, but adding weight and performing them every other day. However, do not rush! When the pain in the wrist is minor and has been that way for 3 weeks, it is probably safe to increase the workload.

As far as nutritional supplementation, some patients have responded well to vitamin B-6, a reduction in salt and use of bromelain. B-6 at no more than 100mg. daily for several weeks may help; as B-6 is associated with proper never function. Salt reduction may reduce any swelling, and bromelain is an enzyme that helps the body metabolise ‘rubbish’ in various musculoskeletal tissue structures, thereby reducing inflammation.

Of course, there is very little point in fixing carpal tunnel syndrome—or any other condition for that matter—if you don’t take steps to prevent recurrence. It would be a waste of time and set a poor pattern for future training to do otherwise. However, the first practical steps to take are to pay real attention to your grip when pressing, and we’re speaking of bench, overhead or any other kind. People get into trouble when they let the bar ride too far back, i.e. the wrist is bent too far back as well, creating tremendous stress on both sides of the wrist. It takes a good body-sense to get the right feel for the bar; it should be gripped firmly and not too loosely, as the slacker the grip, the less the actions of the flexors on the palm side of the forearm, which translates to less of a muscular counteraction to the back bending. A strong grip to some degree protects the wrists from excessive motion.

It could be also that curls with a straight bar annoy your wrists. Your wrists may be congenitally tight, meaning you have to work too hard to externally rotate them just to get the underhand grip. Outside of abnormal wrist stress it could set you up for elbow troubles as well, as both ends of the forearm work double-hard to rotate outwards. I knew a power lifter with this condition who eventually had to quit doing curls; his ability to deadlift was much more important.

We always adhere to the old adage about prevention being better than cure, and carpal tunnel is no exception. If your wrists start to play up, outside of the usual admonitions to ice the sore areas for 10-15 minutes it would be a good idea to start doing specific warm-ups for your wrists. Martial artists in the rappelling styles know very well the importance of this, as their wrists are often bent and otherwise abused. For lifting, the best thing to do is do some forearm curls, reverse forearm curls and figure eights, but with very light weghts. Remember, we are talking about warming up, not building at this point!

Finally, if gripping the barbell seems a real problem to your wrists, try using dumbbells instead for your presses. The subtle change in angles may be just the rest your wrists need. And, don’t forget to sort out our computer desk and keyboard! What you do doing your non-training time you bring with you to training.

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