Living With Chronic Pain
Over 50 million people in the U.S. are living with chronic pain. Women and people over sixty-five are the groups most affected by chronic pain. People with chronic pain seek medical care because of restrictions on daily activities and mobility, opioid dependence, anxiety and/or depression. Chronic pain is exhausting and leaves people feeling hopeless or depressed. However, acupuncture helps to manage chronic pain. All pain comes from the brain, and in chronic pain cases, the pain signals get "stuck" on, causing a person to feel pain all the time. Acupuncture interrupts the pain signals that are over firing in the brain. The pain is real and acupuncture can help reduce inflammation, relax your body as well as calm your mind. Certain points target different conditions and areas of the body where pain is present. Acupuncture can also increase flexibility, improve sleep, and stop pain. Sleep is so important to managing chronic pain, people frequently feel more pain when they are sleeping poorly. Sleep is also when our bodies heal themselves, so it is critical for people who are living with chronic pain to get adequate and good quality sleep. Acupuncture can improve the quality of sleep and give you more energy making you feel better overall. Acupuncture helps people with chronic pain improve their quality of life and be able to do more of the activities they love.
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Why Food Isn't Everything
Disclaimer: Yes, eating healthy and nutritious food IS important. Diet choices can certainly contribute to chronic health problems but it is too simplistic to claim they are the cause of all that ails you. Not all health problems are related to food. (Although some certainly are). Certain foods can make some health issues worse and while diet changes are certainly helpful in these cases, we can help people even if they are not ready to change their diet. Nutritious food is not easy to access in all areas- due to the expense or it is just simply not available. For example, convenience stores with limited fresh food selections can be found in rural or urban areas instead of grocery stores. Sometimes people have trauma around food and/or eating, and instructing someone to “eat better” is not helpful at all. For others, eating is how they have learned to process their emotions and they need the help of a counselor or therapist to be able to change their eating habits. Sometimes a person simply doesn’t know what healthy eating is and needs to consult with a nutritionist.
Everybody’s body is different! Some bodies do better with a higher amount of carbs, some with protein. Being vegetarian works for some and for some it does not. There is no one size fits all diet.
Acupuncture can help with health problems whether people change their diet, or not! Everyone has different health-related goals and our mission is to help you get where you want to go, without judgement. If you find this post helpful, please give it a like!
Why use a derma roller?
Derma rollers stimulate collage and elastin production. We lose 1% of our collagen yearly beginning at age 25.
Derma rollers boost effectiveness of topically applied products, it increases their absorption.
Derma rollers are great to combat wrinkles, cellulite, stretch marks, loose skin, acne scars, hair loss. Additionally they make your skin appear more vibrant and youthful.
Derma rollers cause micro trauma to the skin which stimulates new skin to grow. It also thickens skin and fills in wrinkles. (Lasers by contrast actually destroy your first layer of skin. Derma rolling preserves the epidermis.)
For hair loss, derma rollers dissipate extra testosterone, exfoliates and increases effectiveness of hair loss products.
Why choose our derma roller?
more needles Our face derma roller has 540 needles, the body roller 1080 needles. Cheaper rollers may only have 100-200 needles!! More needles closer together means less pain and more results.
high quality The needles are part of the roller itself, not simply stuck into the end. Our derma roller is rust proof, lightweight and made of durable titanium, not steel. It is certified sterile.
every edge of the needle is sharp Our needles are diamond shaped, not wire edge that pokes the skin like cheaper products.
How to use a derma roller
Wash your face. Use the derma roller 4x in each direction (up/down, left/right, diagonal) . For hair loss only use one direction.
Use 1x every 3 days to start, work up to 1x per day. Use gentle pressure (be very gentle if using on your neck). Can cause redness, itching, tingling initially or dryness/peeling to start with. This is normal and should go away in time. Use less frequently if necessary for your skin to get used to it.
After you’re done, wash your derma roller and apply serum, eye cream and reversal cream.
When to not use a derma roller
If you have any of the following conditions: poor wound healing, collagen diseases, bleeding or blood disorders, pregnancy or lactating, diabetes or a history of keloid scarring.
If you are taking any of the following medications: blood thinners, aspirin, vitamin e
Do not use a derma roller on: sunburn, raised scars, open cuts, herpes, pustule acne, irritated or inflamed skin
Do not use on any of the following areas: inside orbital rim, on the lips, on genitals, on eyelids, mucous membranes or breast tissue
How to care for your derma roller
Do not share your derma roller with others. Its like a razor or toothbrush, for one person use only.
Wash with soap and water after use or spray with alcohol and allow to air dry.
Replace every 6 months or sooner if it becomes damaged.
Other tips for healthy skin
Nutrition is important. Sugar is terrible for our skin. To make collagen our bodies need vitamin C and protein. Make sure your intake of both is adequate. Limit or avoid alcohol.
Stay hydrated! Drinking sufficient water helps your skin be more clear and hydrated.
Get enough sleep. You won’t feel or look tired when you’re sufficiently rested.
Click here to purchase one of our derma rollers!
There is no separation between what is felt physically or emotionally in the body. Keeping that in mind, extreme emotional trauma can cause physical symptoms. What it doesn’t mean is that it is all "in your head", it is real! Strong emotions cause physiological changes in our bodies, especially when we are under stress. The need to fight or the need to run away causes chemical changes in our bodies to prepare us to do either. If the body is constantly under stress, our bodies can get stuck in the fight or flight mode. Acupuncture releases emotions stuck in the body - this frequently happens during the treatment itself but may occur in the 24 hours following treatment.
Here are some clues that there might be something emotional going on:
Pain that moves around or symptoms that do not have a medical explanation. Did your symptoms that start around the time of a traumatic event? Or are you experiencing common symptoms such as chest tightness, stomach aches, nausea, headaches, tight muscles or trouble sleeping? Frequently when these types of symptoms show up with no other explanation it can be a clue that they are stemming from emotional causes. The good news is acupuncture can help! We very often see patients who have had every medical test available with no answer to why they are feeling so poorly and we can help these folks.
Paying Attention to Your Body
Most people walk around with their head disconnected from their body; not aware of what’s going on until their symptoms are so prominent that they can no longer be ignored. The trick is to pay attention to what your body is saying and take action before symptoms are out of control. Building awareness takes practice! Sometimes we train ourselves to not pay attention to pain occurring in the body. This includes those who are athletic, or those who are recovering from any type of trauma. It is common for athletes and others to “push through the pain” until all current and future symptoms are ignored. Chronic symptoms can actually teach us a lot about our bodies and that we need to change our behaviors.
Most behavior changes are simple! Such as going to bed earlier or saying no to a request that has a potential to drain your energy. It can also take the form of monitoring your diet for food sensitivities. Chronic problems may never disappear completely, so acceptance is the key to changing your perspective on how you approach the relationship with your body.
Noticing how our bodies respond to different situations can be useful to determine if that is a healthy situation or behavior. For instance, if you notice stomach upset or constipation after eating dairy products, that is a clue that dairy products are not compatible with your body! Or, if you notice your anxiety spiking after staying up late the evening before it is definitely your body’s way of telling you to go to bed earlier. Paying attention to clues such as these can help you avoid major health problems down the road.
Sometimes getting to the root of the symptom is difficult. There may not be a noticeable link between an emotional origin and a physical symptom, but that may be why you are experiencing one. It is worth talking to someone and getting outside perspective to see if a physical symptom has an emotional origin. For example, if several symptoms started suddenly three months ago, think about what was going on in your life at the time for clues. The clues may be obvious to someone else, but it can be difficult to figure out on your own.
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Losing weight is a personal health goal. You can be healthy at any size. While a healthy body weight is important it is not the whole story. Research shows a person's level of activity is more important than their body weight. A skinny person who is sedentary may be less healthy than someone who exercises regularly but has a few extra pounds. Shaming and talking down to yourself that you need to lose weight or else does not help- it can in fact make things worse. And certainly blaming every health problem or ache or pain you have on your body weight doesn't help either- even skinny people and athletic people can suffer from chronic health problems!
A lot of people need to feel better before they can tackle the lifestyle change and dedication necessary to achieve lasting weight loss. And that's ok. Acupuncture can help you get there if weight loss is your goal, and if its not- that's ok too. How does acupuncture help with weight loss? Acupuncture helps to balance hormones, improve digestion, increase motivation, reduce sugar cravings, improve sleep and relieve the stress that results in emotional eating. Every patient is different but what we find is that for most patients we are working on a several different areas to help them achieve their goals.
What To Do For An Acute Injury
First, what is an acute injury?
It is a fall or bump, like a sprained ankle, that causes swelling or bruising at the site of the injury. Make sure the injury is a strain or sprain, not a break. If you choose to ice the injured area, keep it to the first 24 hours after the injury then switch to heat. There is no evidence ice helps the injury heal faster, at all. Swelling is your body’s way of healing and letting you know that something is wrong. It is normal to have swelling after an injury . Use heat to keep the blood and circulation moving at the site of injury. Ice tightens everything up and prevents blood circulation. If you can bear it, then light stretching can help the injury to heal. Too much rest or total rest will cause muscle atrophy. This causes the injured muscle to become weak. Also, this depends on how severe the injury is! There is a difference between a rolled ankle or a torn tendon.
Techniques to try:
Epsom salt soak
Light stretching - use pain as your guide! Over extending will hurt rather than help.
Wrapping the injury with an ace bandage if you need one
Natural anti-inflammatories like ginger or turmeric
Arnica gel and pills
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3 Ways To Beat Fear & Anxiety
1) Use logic to slow the anxiety spiral and then find a helper.
Many times putting your irrational fears into words and having a friend talk you through them can help reduce their power. Shedding light on darkness can make a huge difference.
2) Don’t forget your physical body
Sometimes anxiety can show up as physical symptoms. Think headaches, stomach aches, or chest tightness. Take care of your mind and your body by getting regular exercise and practicing mindfulness or breathing techniques and acupuncture. Even when you aren’t experiencing anxiety symptoms practicing these techniques on a regular basis can make managing the symptoms easier when they do show up.
3) Check your sleep
Not enough sleep or poor quality sleep can be an anxiety trigger for a lot of people. Use an evening routine to calm your body down in the evenings to prepare for sleep. Avoid screens or social media surfing 2 hours before bedtime. Try to go to sleep at the same time every night. Keep your bedroom dark, cool and quiet.
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Help For Headaches
TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint. It is the joint at the right and left of your jaw, just under your ears. When people say they have “TMJ,” they mean pain and stiffness in the jaw joints and in the jaw itself. What causes this pain? Commonly, when people are very stressed, their muscles tend to become tense and tight. In addition to jaw pain, this muscle tension can cause chronic muscle tightness in the neck and shoulders and lead to headaches. Usually, a tense neck and shoulders accompanies jaw pain. It is common to tense up the neck and shoulder muscles without realizing it! Teeth grinding and clenching is another unconscious stress reaction. Is this you? Being intentional helps to recognize stress and let it go.
You can manage TMJ and jaw pain at home with the use of heating pads, warm compresses, deep breathing, acupuncture, meditation, stretches and self-massage.
Here are 3 stretches you can do for relief.
One thing to not do is chew gum. Chewing gum can exacerbate the pain and discomfort felt in the jaw.
What difference does this make for you? Please comment below because I would love to know.
Meaghan Massella, M.Ac, L.Ac, Dipl. Ac (NCCAOM) is an acupuncturist, business owner and mother of 2.