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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Tips for Texting to Protect Our Neck & Spine

Posted on October 7, 2014. Filed under: Children, Chiropractic, Pain, Posture | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

by Dr. Gregory Steiner
CA Acupuncture & Chiropractic Clinictexting_posture

It seems the entire world is immersed in digital media.  It has become a part of almost everything we do.  Cell phones, once considered a luxury item are now prevalent in most homes and viewed as a necessity.  Many parents see them as an important factor in keeping their kids safe by being able to contact them at any time or place.  While this solves some issues, it’s raising others…

Today’s younger generation, (toddlers to teens) are being raised with mobile devices.  Though kids’ slouching has been an ongoing issue (usually due to laziness or not knowing the proper way to sit or stand), kids today are developing terrible posture because of how they position their bodies while using these devices.  As they peer into the device, they are usually hunched over with their shoulders rolled forward, and heads down.

Poor posture can lead to constricting of the chest cavity, which in turn causes problems with blood flow and getting full deep breaths, and over time can cause a whole host of chronic health conditions.  When a person doesn’t get full enough breaths, the cardiovascular system doesn’t work at full efficiency because it’s compressed.  When proper lung capacity isn’t continuously utilized, it becomes a struggle to get deep breaths. Over the short-term, kids will most likely be tired and low on energy. But there’s more… There are nerves in the upper back that control the heart and lungs that can eventually deform.  If the spine deforms at an early age, there is constriction and the possibility of disrupting their nerve supply in the upper back which can further effects on heart, lungs and even stomach digestion.  And because there is constant tension on the neck as well, they are far more likely to develop chronic headaches.

Having the head bent forward too often can also produce ill effects.  Every inch of forward head posture places an additional 10 lbs of pressure on the muscles and joints of the neck.  Good news is that it can be corrected.  Young people can be fully corrected because the bones are still growing (usually until the early 20’s).  While the bones are still growing there is a possibility for full correction because you can literally guide the growth, But everyone can benefit with a combination of posture correction as well as chiropractic care and corrective exercises.

One thing I do in my clinic is show patients what good posture is.  When children are taught at a young age how to “stand up straight” it can virtually shape the way they carry themselves throughout life (not only with posture, but showing confidence as well!) Teach your kids an example of good posture by having them stand with their back against the wall with heels, glutes, upper back and back of head against the wall with the chin somewhat down.

And follow some of these Tips for Texting:

  • Maintain an upright posture while texting – Avoid bending your head down and rounding your shoulders
  • Hold your phone up to face level when using
  • Rest the thumbs by using alternative fingers
  • Utilize voice-to-text so you can speak you’re message that will be typed out
  • Use a neutral grip when holding the device. A neutral grip is when the wrist is straight, not bent in either direction
  • Reduce your keystrokes. More keystrokes equals more strain on your hands and thumbs—so keep your messages brief

 

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Using Chiropractic to Improve Posture & Reduce Pain

Posted on September 3, 2014. Filed under: Children, Chiropractic, Healing, Health, Posture | Tags: , , , , , , , |

incorrect neck alignmentJust being aware of the proper neck & shoulder posture is the beginning of correcting the problem. With so many people hunched over computers and work stations these days, developing a forward leaning head posture is becoming more and more common.  Today’s “Age of the Internet” persuades everyone of all ages, especially our youth to spend what most would consider “way too much time” with eyes glued to the computer or smartphone device.  More often than not, the head is kept in a prolonged position with the neck bent and  leaning forward.   The problem is worsened when a person stands up, but instead of pulling their shoulders back and standing tall, they round them and allow the head to lean forward.

One way to check yourself is to stand against a wall and have someone look at you from the side.  If you are in complete alignment, they would be able to see an imaginary line through the center of the shoulder and up to the head.  The line should land through the middle of the ear.   (see photo for illustration)

An excellent way to help correct poor neck posture is the use of retraction & nodding neck exercises.  These types of exercises are designed to help gain control over postural neck muscles which have become weak and fatigued over time.  There are many methods in addition to these varying from lifting weights, muscle therapy, vibrational traction, manipulations, and postural re-education.   The list is almost endless of simple home based measures to state of the art appliances & tools.  Any help in the right direction is beneficial.

One great exercise starts with moving the head backwards to a position over the shoulders, then nodding up and down (with the head as far back on the shoulders as possible).  This nodding action affects the deep flexor muscles and can bring on an immediate pain reduction response.  Impaired muscle function has been shown to be a feature in painful neck disorders and exercises to retrain performance of the muscles can be effective in long term pain relief.

A variation of this same technique is to place your finger on the front of your chin.  Next, draw your chin backwards (away from your finger).  Proceed with this motion and go back and forth without dropping your head or looking down.  Repeat the motion several times.  This can be done every 30 minutes or so when sitting for extended periods of time.

Recovery from an injury like whiplash or headache prevention requires more than a symptomatic approach.  There are many different exercises that can be prescribed.  Dr. Steiner can help identify the best ones for your particular situation.

 

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Old Knees Made New

Posted on September 13, 2011. Filed under: Joints | Tags: , , , , , , |

Recovery from knee surgery

As I looked down at what a nurse called my “very nice scar” my morbid sense of humor couldn’t help but think of the “$5 foot long” sub commercial. Foot long was close, but mine cost a whole lot more than $5, that’s for sure!

It’s hard to believe that it’s already been 6 months since that whopper of an operation to restore the pitted and worn cartilage pot-holes under my knee cap, and a year since the my cartilage was first harvested for growth in the lab and the later implantation.

The recap is this: many years ago as a product of the “no pain, no gain” school of exercise and a subsequent exercise-aholism the cartilage behind both knee caps developed pits, cracks and holes. Knee pain proper started perhaps 15 years ago, and a combination of finally learning good exercise technique with acupuncture and herbs gave me these extra 15 years of high-level, intense fitness training.

Even so, eventually every sin of youth must be paid, so when a little over a year ago when I could no longer get up off the floor after wrestling with my son because of the ground glass feeling in the joints, I knew it was time to get something else done.

I searched out multiple orthopedic opinions as to what to do. Two had not solutions other than injecting synthetic lubricating fluid in the joints and cleaning up the cartilage – basically to act as a tide-over until things deteriorated so badly in the rest of the knee to force a knee replacement. Another doctor suggested using a cadaver tendon to pad the holes. The doctor I chose had an entirely “next level” set of skills and was down to earth besides; he also has 4 children – so we understand each other!

The short story on the procedure is this: first, it’s actually a package of operations rolled into one long, involved stay in the operating room. “Welcome to Big Boy orthopedics” is how my surgeon described it.

In a preliminary procedure – for me one year ago – the defects in the knee are trimmed, polished, nipped and tucked – and cartilage is harvested for the future implantation.

The Big Boy operation is full blown, open knee surgery with general anesthesia and a several day hospital stay. The pits in the cartilage are prepped, patches stitched over the holes, and new cartilage cells grown from the harvested cells are injected by the million.

Meanwhile, they cut off a part of the upper shin bone where the knee cap tendon attaches, move it forward a few millimeters and screw it back in place. Other alignment procedures take place as well.

You awaken the next morning with itchy skin and an achy leg, though you don’t seem to care very much due to the morphine IV. You also find your leg is lying in a gadget that moves it up and down, and you very soon learn that good, old ice controls pain better than anything.

While I should have taken a month off work, I have a clinic to run and I know how re-energize faster, so I was back at the clinic one week later doing acupuncture from my wheelchair. Everyday I would do rehab at the level possible, take Chinese herbs, and do acupuncture to reduce swelling, gain energy or promote healing.

What followed were several weeks on crutches, then a rediscovery of the joy of walking without assistance or aids, which was a true, real Freedom.

As the weeks turned into months my healing progressed.

Much to the amazement of my surgeon and others who knew the extent and complexity of the surgery my pain was at worst “nuisance” level – again I attribute this to the acu, herbs and some strong mental visualizations.

My time out of the gym was only 6 days – I used the wheelchair to get to the machines to work upper body and the un-operated leg.

At this stage – 6 months later, the leg is getting much stronger and regaining some lost size due to the early weeks of disuse. Stairs feel much better, as do getting up from a chair and out of the car. It’s a fantastic thing to get a life back…..

Better rehab and recovery after surgery is nothing new or shocking for people familiar with Oriental medicine. People with back surgery, disc procedures, rotator cuff tears, and even abdominal surgery have gotten “unstuck” their healing in a very short time as the Oriental medicine works to improve and “unstick’ the body’s own healing energy.

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