Take a Deep Breath

By Editorial Staff at www.ToYourHealth.com

Adults take anywhere from 17,000 to 30,000 breaths a day, on average, most of the time without even realizing they’re doing it. Breathing is so natural that we usually take it for granted; that is, until something happens that threatens our ability to breathe.

deep-breathingWhen you’re swimming underwater, you’re focused intently on breathing; namely how long you can hold your breath. Strenuous exercise is another good example; the more fatigued you get, the more you become conscious of your breathing, usually because it becomes heavier and more labored.

Many people actually don’t breathe correctly, at least not on a consistent basis. “Correctly” means breathing that maximizes oxygen exchange in the lower lobes of the lungs. More oxygen equals more nourishment for cells.

A structure called the diaphragm separates the heart, lungs and ribs (the thoracic cavity) from the abdominal cavity. As we inhale, the diaphragm contracts, enlarging the thoracic cavity and helping the lungs fill with oxygen. As the diaphragm relaxes, we exhale, forcing carbon dioxide out of the lungs. This is why correct breathing technique is referred to as diaphragmatic breathing.

In more simple terms, ideal breathing is known as “abdominal” or “belly” breathing; it should engage the belly button, rather than the upper chest. Visually, if you’re breathing properly, your lower belly will rise more than your chest.

There are many reasons why healthy people don’t breathe correctly; everything from stress to fear to holding in your stomach to make it look tighter. Doing any of these things consistently will lead to shallow breathing, which will impair oxygen exchange.

So, how are you breathing? Find a quiet place and take a few slow, deep breaths, concentrating on letting your abdomen expand fully with incoming air. Place one hand just below your belly button; it should rise and fall about 1 inch with each breath. If you’re breathing incorrectly, practice doing it the right way; proper breathing can aid in relaxation, reduce blood pressure and heart rate, and of course, help deliver the most oxygen to body tissues.

 

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Sleep Better, Naturally

By James P. Meschino, DC, MS

insomnia_sheepChronic pain, which is reported to affect approximately 110 million Americans, is defined as three consecutive months of a painful condition. The most common conditions associated with chronic pain include arthritis / rheumatism; fibromyalgia; migraine headache; and low back pain.

Evidence suggests that a multidisciplinary approach yields the best results in chronic pain management, whereas the method yielding the worst results for the patient, the health care system and society entails reliance on prescription narcotic drugs.

Over the years medical doctors have prescribed and recommended many analgesic drugs such as acetaminophen, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory dsleeping_pills_640rugs (NSAIDs), and in more severe cases, narcotic drugs, as primary and sometimes exclusive methods of treatment in the management of chronic and acute muscle, joint and arthritic conditions. In recent years, documented evidence has shown that the frequent use of these medications for pain control has led to many serious unforeseen complications.

Fortunately, in recent years, research has shown the safe, effective pain-killing effects of California poppy (Eschscholzia californica). This herb has been shown to reduce night pain and induce sleep in patients with night pain without producing euphoria, addiction potential, physical dependency or serious side effects of any kind.

Health Complications From Standard Analgesic Drugs

Frequent use of acetaminophen has been shown to be a leading cause of liver failure, and acetaminophen ingestion is the leading cause of drug-induced liver failure, accounting for 50 percent of all acute liver failure cases in the U.S., half of which are unintentional (not suicide driven). Chronic intake of the recommended dosage of acetaminophen (up to 4 grams per day, with no single dose to exceed 1 gm) is responsible for most cases of acetaminophen-induced liver failure. Chronic use of acetaminophen has also been shown to damage the kidneys.

Heavy reliance on NSAIDs for chronic pain control has also yielded devastating health consequences. Recent studies confirm that in addition to gastrointestinal erosion, ulceration and bleeding, chronic NSAID use also increases the risk of kidney damage, liver damage, congestive heart failure, high blood pressure and sudden cardiovascular death. Aspirin has long been associated with gastrointestinal damage and associated internal bleeding, but other NSAIDs are largely responsible for increased risk of cardiovascular death. This appears to be related to the promotion insomnia (1)of thrombosis, associated with many NSAIDs from ibuprofen to diclofenac (Voltaren ) to COX-2 inhibitors (e.g., Celebrex, Vioxx)

As such, doctors have been instructed not to recommend any NSAIDs, other than aspirin, for patients at high risk for heart disease. These recommendations also extend to precluding the recommendation of all NSAIDs for patients with any compromised kidney function. Low-dose aspirin, although recommended as a blood thinner for those who have suffered a previous heart attack, is no longer recommended to prevent first heart attack (primary prevention) due to the increasing reports of intestinal bleeds and bleeding into the brain, seen in patients prescribed low-dose aspirin (75-81 mg) for this purpose.

Narcotic Drugs – Rising Concerns About Addiction

Since the early 1990s governments have allowed doctors to prescribe narcotic drugs (e.g., oxycodone) for patients presenting with a wide variety of musculoskeletal pain conditions. Prior to this, narcotic drugs were only prescribed for patients with intractable pain, primarily due to terminal cancers (e.g., morphine drip). As such, physicians commonly use narcotics to reduce a patient’s post-operative pain or to reduce anxiety and induce anesthesia prior to an operation. These drugs are also commonly prescribed in an attempt to enable individuals with chronic pain to lead productive lives.

The problem is that many people who are prescribed and taking opioids for a period of time develop a physical dependence on the drug which canarticle-new_ehow_images_a00_01_jo_break-sleeping-pill-800x800 lead to abuse of the painkiller. Studies now show that 2.5 million Americans, of the 4.7 million who begin to abuse prescription drugs in any given year, use pain pills. Thus, more than 50 percent of all drug abuse cases involve analgesic drugs, and very often narcotics.

Recognizing the potential for opioid abuse, addiction, diversion and related mortality, many jurisdictions have developed guidelines or implemented programs to promote more judicious use of these drugs. Across the board, medical doctors are being instructed to cut back on their prescription writing for narcotic drugs, and systems are being put in place to track and integrate pharmacy dispensing of these drugs using electronic recording and monitoring systems.

A Safe Herbal Alternative

Recent studies have shown that the medicinal ingredients in the herb Eschscholzia californica(California poppy) block nighttime pain, allowing the patient to sleep through the night without being awakened by musculoskeletal pain. The herb also helps to induce sleep, enabling patients who are in pain to fall asleep and experience a restful sleep through the night. This, in turn, allows more rapid healing and improved response to other treatments.

Sleeping-PillsThe active ingredients in Eschscholzia californica relieve pain without producing euphoria or having addiction potential. Stimulation of opioid receptors blocks pain sensation in the brain and blocks pain conduction in the spinal cord from reaching higher brain centers. Activation of serotonin receptors is also known to block the sensation of pain and induce sleep.

Unlike narcotic drugs (e.g., Percocet, Oxydone) and benzodiazepine drugs (e.g., Valium, Ativan) often used to help patients in pain sleep through the night, supplements containing Eschscholzia californica do not cause addiction or destroy a person’s motivation to return to a productive life. The active constituents in this herb do not cause euphoria or feeling of being “stoned,” which allows individuals to function normally and better comply with treatment recommendations, including exercise.

Precautionary Notes

Patients should not take this herb if they are taking an evening or nighttime dose of a narcotic drug (e.g., Percodan, Oxycontin), anti-anxiety drug and/or a sleep-inducing drug (e.g., Valium, Sonata, Ambien). Patients taking narcotic or benzodiazepine drugs who wish to wean themselves off of these drugs by using Eschscholzia californica as a replacement for chronic pain management, must do so under the supervision and monitoring of their attending physician. Narcotic and benzodiazepine drugs are highly addictive; thus, each case requires individualized evaluation and attention. As always, talk to your doctor for more information.


James Meschino, DC, MS, practices in Toronto, Ontario, Canada and is the author of four nutrition books, including The Meschino Optimal Living Program and Break the Weight Loss Barrier.

 

Resource: To Your Health
March, 2013 (Vol. 07, Issue 03)

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Ice and Heat Therapy

In many cases, temporary pain and even additional injury can be minimized and even avoided by a simple application of ice. Ice, applied in a timely manner and in an appropriate way, can reduce inflammation. Inflammation left unchecked can allow the source of the pain to continue doing damage to muscles, ligaments, tendons, and other structures.

Ice causes the veins in the affected tissue area to constrict. This reduces the flow of blood while acting as kind of anesthetic to numb the pain. But when the ice is removed (and this is key), the veins compensate by expanding, which then allows a large volume of blood to rush to the affected area. The blood brings with it important chemicals that aid in the healing process.ice application

Back and neck injuries frequently involve muscle sprains and strained ligaments, which can spasm and become inflamed.

Ice massage, or cryotherapy, is effectively used to treat many kinds of injuries, including those associated with back or neck pain.

Ice massage can provide a number of benefits, including:

  • Assisting the body in minimizing tissue damage
  • Mitigating muscle spasms
  • Reducing or eliminating pain by numbing sore soft tissues

Ice therapy is not recommended as a form of treatment for any kinds of rheumatoid arthritis, Raynaud’s Syndrome (a circulatory disorder of blood vessels of the extremities), colds or allergic conditions, paralysis, or areas of impaired sensation.

 

While ice therapy is used to reduce swelling, heat therapy is used to relax the muscles and increase circulation. Both kinds of therapy help reduce pain.

Heat therapy is often used in patients who have chronic or long-lasting pain. Heat therapy can involve many kinds of methods, from simple heating pads, wraps, and warm gel packs, to sophisticated techniques, such as therapeutic ultrasound.

Back injuries can create tension and stiffness in the muscles and soft tissues of the lumbar region, or lower back. In many cases, your circulation may be impeded.

The tension in the muscles can sometimes escalate to spasms.

Heat therapy:

  • Dilates the blood vessels of the affected muscles, allowing them to relax and begin healing.
  • Helps lower discomfort by reducing the amount of pain signals going to the brain.
  • Increases the ability of your muscles to easily flex and stretch, thereby decreasing stiffness.

Heat therapy, as well as ice therapy, are normally parts of an overall chiropractic treatment plan and rarely accomplish maximum results without it.

Heat therapy is not used on swollen or bruised tissues, or in patients who have dermatitis, deep vein thrombosis, diabetes, peripheral vascular disease, open wounds, and cardiovascular conditions such as hypertension.

 

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Deal With Neck and Back Pain Effectively

By Perry Nickelston, DC, FMS, SFMA

We’ve all had episodes of neck and/or back pain that takes us down for the count. Pain that strikes with such quickness it can bring you to your knees. Experiencing neck or back pain is a part of life, there is no escaping it.

back pain

However, that does not mean you must remain powerless and suffer on a daily basis with either condition. There is no cure for back and neck pain; only management. A cure implies you will never experience another painful episode and that is unrealistic. Managing pain on the other hand is where you can most assuredly take control and empower yourself to live without pain. By implementing simple and effective daily strategies you can eliminate many of the causative factors of common musculoskeletal pain conditions.

 

What is pain? Simply stated, it is a warning signal from the body that something is wrong. Pain perception originates in the brain when it receives a signal from your nervous system that something is dysfunctional. Pain may either be from macro-traumatic onsets such as slips, falls, accidents, etc., or micro-traumatic causes like poor posture, occupational injuries, muscle imbalances, tightness, stiffness and lack of flexibility. Once pain occurs, your brain goes into survival mode by making compensation movement patterns to avoid further pain. The brain wants to avoid pain at all costs and it does so by taking the path of least resistance. Meaning, your muscles, joints, ligaments, and soft tissue adapt to avoid pain. You end up getting caught in compensations of dysfunctional movement resulting in pain on a daily basis. The first reaction is to stop the pain with medication. Pain relief medication has its place during the healing process; however it can give you a false sense of resolution and may be highly addictive. Once you stop taking the medication the pain often returns with more intensity. Medication should always be taken under medical doctor supervision and ideally used in conjunction with a corrective therapeutic program.

 

The sedentary lifestyle of our culture breeds movement dysfunction and poor postural habits. Constantly sitting compresses the lower back, tightens up your hips decreasing their ability to move efficiently. Rounded shoulders and forward weight of the head increases tension in the neck and upper back. The constant flexed forward posture leads to increased stiffness and tightness in the front of the body with weakness decreased support in the back. The old adage, “If you don’t use it, you lose it” rings true. The lack of use in bigger support muscles of the hips, shoulders, and buttocks makes the body vulnerable to injury and pain.

What are some of the most effective pain relief methods today? If you experience neck or back pain on a daily basis it is highly recommended to seek care from a qualified health professional. Experts in musculoskeletal injuries include; therapeutic medical massage, chiropractic, physical therapy, orthopedics, physiatrist, and corrective exercise specialist. Very effective, simple and safe self help strategies can help you recover faster. Try these four exercises and movements on a daily basis and notice how much better you feel.

  1. Roll a golf ball on the bottom of both bare feet for 3-5 minutes per day. You can do this sitting at your desk, watching television at night, or while standing at the sink brushing your teeth before bed. The self massage releases tension in tight connective tissue on the bottom of the foot that can affect posture and tension in the lower back and head. You may notice a reduction in lower back pain and neck pain after a single application.
  2. Massage the soft tissue and muscles below your collar bone and closest to the shoulder called your pectorals. These are often tight and restricted from the rounded poor posture causing tension in the neck and shoulders. Massage each side for 2-minutes with your fingers. It can be quite uncomfortable in the beginning, but will improve with more effort and attention. This a very powerful acupressure release point for tension.
  3. Stand with heels together toes turned out, tall spine upright posture with your arms one foot from each side palms of the hands turned out as far as you can. Contract and squeeze your legs, buttocks, mid back, rear shoulders as hard as you can for five seconds controlling your breath. Do not hold your breath. Repeat five times. This opens up your tight anterior body and strengthens the weaker back.
  4. Massage the back of your neck and then flex (bend) your head forward trying to touch chin to chest. Put the palm of your hand against your forehead and apply light pressure trying to push your head away from your chin. Resist the movement for five seconds and relax. Repeat three times. This strengthens the weaker neck muscles in the front to relax the tight ones in back.

During these movements you should not feel any pain.

You can take back control of your life from pain with simple daily activities and communicating progress with your health professional. The rule of thumb in any rehabilitation program is go at your own pace and build your tolerance up slowly the body will adapt positively to a well designed program. Make sure to talk to your chiropractor about how to effectively manage the pain you might be in.

 

 

Perry Nickelston, DC, is clinical director of the Pain Laser Center in Ramsey, N.J., where he focuses on performance enhancement, corrective exercise and metabolic fitness nutrition. Information from: http://www.toyourhealth.com/mpacms/tyh/article.php?id=1577