AMERICAN COLLEGE OF PHYSICIANS LIST ACUPUNCTURE AS TOP TREATMENT FOR BACK PAIN

Posted on: February 17th, 2017 by John Barnett
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The American College of Physicians now lists Acupuncture as their top choice for both acute and chronic back pain!  We were excited to see all of the media coverage of the latest recommendations on the treatment of Pain.  The story has been featured on ABC, NBC, Fox News, and CBS.  The American College of Physicians recommendations has also been reported on in most major newspapers. Here are some excerpts from this week’s Wall Street Journal article explaining the new recommendations for the treatment of Back Pain.

New guidelines from the American College of Physicians say that low back pain is best treated with alternative therapies. About 80% of adults experience low back pain at some point in their lifetimes.  Back Pain is the most common cause of job-related disability and a leading contributor to missed work days.

The new guidelines are an update from 2007, and include a review of more than 150 studies. Recommendations were broken down into acute lower back pain, which is pain lasting less than 12 weeks, and chronic pain, which is pain lasting more than 12 weeks.

For acute pain, the guidelines recommend nondrug therapies first, such as applying heat, massage, acupuncture or spinal manipulation, which is often done by a chiropractor.

For chronic back pain, the guidelines recommend patients also first try non-drug therapies, such as acupuncture, exercise, rehabilitation therapy and mindfulness-based stress reduction.

The guidelines were designed to reduce pain and improve function If non-drug treatments fail to provide relief, the ACP says  that NSAIDS should be the first medicine that is used. The third line of treatment should be duloxetine—sold under the brand name Cymbalta and commonly used to treat depression and anxiety—or tramadol, an opioid-like narcotic which is less potent than standard opioids such as oxycodone or fentanyl—but can still cause physical dependence.

Opioids—one of the most commonly prescribed medications for pain relief and a source of increasing addiction and death—should only be considered for chronic back pain when other alternatives—natural and prescription—don’t work, say the guidelines published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. The new guidelines warn that opioids should only be considered an option if the doctor and patient have a discussion about the known risks of the drugs, and if used at the lowest possible dose for the shortest period. Experts believe that opioid prescriptions for pain is a common gateway to opioid addiction.  Opiods are also seen as a gateway to heroin, said Steven Atlas, director of practice-based research at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Even acetaminophen, which includes the brand name Tylenol, is no longer recommended for acute lower back pain relief due to a 2014 study in the journal The Lancet that showed it was no more effective than placebo.

Pain can begin abruptly as a result of an accident or by lifting something heavy. More often, though, it develops over time due to age-related changes of the spine and disc degeneration.  Most back pain occurs between ages 30 and 50. Individuals who gain weight and don’t exercise have increased risk, as are those who exercise intensely after long periods of not exercising.

If you are in Orlando and have Back Problems contact our clinic for a Free Consultation appointment at our Winter Park office to see if Acupuncture can help you!  If you live outside of Central Florida feel free to call us for a referral in your local area.

Non-Surgical Tennis Elbow Treatment gets you back in the Game

Posted on: August 1st, 2016 by Orlando Acupuncture
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Like most doctors, I encourage all of my patients to exercise regularly. There is nothing that will end a good exercise habit faster than having to stop due to injury or pain. Lateral Epicondylitis, more commonly known as Tennis Elbow, is one of the most common injuries for today’s athletes and “weekend warriors”. Tennis elbow is caused by repeated twisting of the wrist or frequent rotation of the forearm.  It causes hand or arm weakness, elbow and arm pain, and in some cases damage to the tendons that connect to the humerus (the bone of the upper arm).

Western medical treatment of tennis elbow usually involves rest, pain relieving and anti-inflammatory medications, heat, and sometimes physical therapy.  Often these are effective in relieving pain but do very little to prevent the condition from recurring.  Also these methods work best when you limit or stop the activity that was causing the inflammation.

The research on Acupuncture getting rid of both acute and chronic tennis elbow is very impressive.  When Mayo Clinic did a study on Chinese Acupuncture for the treatment of Tennis Elbow the doctor who conducted the study, Peter T. Dorsher, MD, was so impressed with the results that acupuncture is now his first choice of treatment for Lateral Epicondylitis.  While this study was small, only 22 patients, these were patients who had very stubborn cases of tennis elbow.   Nearly every patient in the study had previously attempted to cure their tennis elbow through conventional means, with some patients trying multiple therapies without success. Of the 22 subjects in the study, 14 had undergone “extensive hand therapy interventions”; 17 had used an elbow brace or splint; seven received corticosteroid injections for pain relief; and one patient had elbow surgery, all without achieving the desired effect.  Some of the study participants had been suffering with elbow pain for over 2 years!  When the participants were surveyed 8 months after treatment 80% had complete relief of their symptoms, and had returned to full, normal activities.   The participants received between 2-10 acupuncture treatments done 2 times per week.

Other studies published in the Oxford journal of Rheumatology had similar results.  One of these randomized, controlled studies done in 2002 found a 50% pain reduction after only 2 weeks of acupuncture therapy.

So not only is Acupuncture very effective in relieving the symptoms of tennis elbow, but it has an exceptionally low risk of side effects unlike cortisone injections and anti-inflammatory medication which commonly have side effects. In fact, many people that seek acupuncture treatment for tennis elbow often experience other benefits such as better sleep, reduced stress levels and improved overall wellness.

So get back in the Game! If you have tennis elbow you should consider acupuncture as your first option. You have nothing to lose, and with the proven benefits of Traditional Chinese Medicine you could reduce your symptoms of pain as well as improve the quality of your life.

5 Home Remedies for Pregnancy Nausea

Posted on: April 6th, 2016 by Orlando Acupuncture
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Now that you’re pregnant, your body is producing the hormone Human Chorionic Gonadotrophin (hCG) in large quantities. This hormone makes sure that your baby gets what it needs from your body in the early weeks. However it also makes most women very nauseous.  Once the placenta takes over nourishing your baby, hCG levels drop and your nausea should ease.
Although it’s miserable being sick, as long as you are drinking plenty of water and not losing weight, your health and your baby’s well being shouldn’t be affected.  Hopefully, your morning sickness will subside between about 14 weeks and 16 weeks. For some women, though, it can continue for a little longer. For a few unfortunate women, it lasts throughout pregnancy.

Here are 5 Home Remedies that can help you get through this time.

1.) Ginger – Fresh ginger works wonders on nausea. You can make a tea by slicing up a few pieces and boiling them in water for 5 or so minutes. Or you can dice it up and add it to your favorite dish. However, if you just aren’t a fan of the flavor you can buy it in capsule form.

2.) Limes – When ginger doesn’t help with nausea, the sour, astringent nature of limes can sometimes calm the stomach and ease nausea.

3.) Mint – The oils in mint have anti-nausea properties. The cooling nature of mint can also help ease the reflux type symptoms associated with nausea.

4.) Catnip – This is part of the mint family. In addition to anti-nausea properties, this also has calming properties that can help settle the fetus.

5.)Exercise – Going for a brisk walk will increase your blood flow which will help a lot with your nausea. I know if can be hard to get up and moving when you feel this way but if you put in the effort it will be worth it.

4 Ways to Treat Cramps at Home

Posted on: April 4th, 2016 by Lammi Lambert
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More than half of women who menstruate report some pain from period cramps for a day or two each month. While menstrual cramps are usually not a sign of a serious health condition, they can put a crimp in your lifestyle. To help with the pain, here are a few home treatments.

1.) Ginger tea in the bath water – run yourself a hot bath and pure in a strong batch of ginger tea. Ginger is warming and helps improve circulation, which can ease menstrual cramps.

2.) Walk – going for a brisk walk will get your blood pumping and help alleviate the pain.

3.) Hot water bottle – you can purchase a large rubber water bottle from the pharmacy, fill it with hot water and place it on your stomach. The heat plus the weight of the water offers great relief.

4.) Cinnamon – you can put some on your food or take it in capsule form. Either way it will help by warming the body and relaxing the uterus.

The 4 Best Times of the Day to Drink Water

Posted on: March 22nd, 2016 by Orlando Acupuncture
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Woman Drinking Water

Drinking water at the correct times of day can help maximize its effectiveness on the body.  Here are 4 times of the day that water is a must.

1.) First thing in the morning is a very important time to drink water. Having 2 large glasses helps activate the internal organs and re-hydrate the body after a long nights sleep.

2.) Drinking a large glass of water, thirty minutes before a meal helps activate the digestive system aiding in the processes.

3.) One large glass before you take a shower can help lower blood pressure and create a relaxing effect in the body.

4.) Enjoying one last glass before bed is linked to avoiding the risk of stroke and heart disease.

3 Ways to Lower Your Blood Pressure Today!

Posted on: March 22nd, 2016 by Orlando Acupuncture
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1.) Meditation It helps balance your autonomic nervous system, which is responsible for helping your body maintain normal blood pressure. Transcendental meditation, where you repeat a sound or mantra with closed eyes, was shown to be particularly effective.

2.) Acupuncture – blocks the effect of an adrenaline rush. There is an area just above the spinal cord in the brain stem which regulates the release of adrenaline (a chemical that makes hearts pound and blood pressure soar.) Acupuncture can prevent this from occurring by blocking the effect and helping the heart to beat normally and blood pressure remain low.

3.) Isometric hand-grip exercises– In other words, contracting your hand muscles in quick, short bursts, like when you squeeze a stress ball. But it’s not just about reducing stress. Instead, handgrip exercises can directly improve the blood vessels’ ability to relax. Try two minutes of pulse-and-release squeezing, followed by a break of a few minutes, for 12 to 15 minutes, three times a week.

4 Steps to Healing the Gut Naturally

Posted on: March 15th, 2016 by Orlando Acupuncture
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             In functional medicine, we believe that every system in the body is connected. Your digestive and hormonal systems, for example, aren’t independent of one another. At the center of it all is a properly functioning digestive system.

When your gut is unhealthy, it can cause more than just stomach pain, gas, bloating, or diarrhea. Because 60-80% of our immune system is located in our gut, gut imbalances have been linked to hormonal imbalances, autoimmune diseases, diabetes, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, anxiety, depression, eczema, rosacea, and other chronic health problems. Here is a four step processes to repairing and healing the gut naturally.

1.) Remove
Remove the bad.  The goal is to get rid of things that negatively affect the environment of the GI tract such as inflammatory foods, infections, and gastric irritants like alcohol, caffeine or drugs.  Inflammatory foods such as gluten, dairy, corn, soy, eggs, and sugar can lead to food sensitivities.I recommend an elimination diet as the starting point to identify which foods are problematic for you, in which you remove the foods for two weeks or more and then add them back in, one at a time, taking note of your body’s response.

2.) Restore

Restore the good. Add back in the essential ingredients for proper digestion and absorption that may have been depleted by diet, drugs (such as antacid medications) diseases, or aging.  This includes digestive enzymes, hydrochloric acid, and bile acids that are required for proper digestion.

3.) Reinoculate
Restoring beneficial bacteria to reestablish a healthy balance of good bacteria is critical. This may be accomplished by taking a probiotic supplement that contains beneficial bacteria such as bifidobacteria and lactobacillus   Also, taking a prebiotic (food for the good bacteria) supplement or consuming foods high soluble fiber is important.

4.) Repair
Providing the nutrients necessary to help the gut repair itself is essential.  One of my favorites supplements is L-glutmine, an amino acid that helps to rejuvenate the gut wall lining.  Other key nutrients include zinc, omega 3 fish oils , vitamin A, C, E as well as herbs such as slippery elm and aloe-vera.

3 Things You Didn’t Know About Carpal Tunnel

Posted on: March 11th, 2016 by John Barnett
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CTS

There may be a lot that you do or don’t know about Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) so let’s start with some basics. CTS is the most common diagnosis for wrist and hand pain in the United States. CTS is also responsible for the highest number of days off due to work related injury.  About half a million Americans get carpal tunnel operations each year, making it the most frequent surgery of the wrist.

Unfortunately, ever after surgery the pain and numbness of CTS often returns. The medical journal, Hand, has a 2012 article, Long-term outcomes of carpal tunnel release: a critical review of the literature.  Their conclusion; ” While the short-term literature is well substantiated, the long-term literature has rarely exceeded 2 years of follow-up, which may be inadequate for a chronic and potentially recurring disease such as carpal tunnel syndrome. Further high-quality research is needed.”

You read that right, the great results you see reported for CTS surgeries all over the web (especially by Orthopedic surgeons and their associations) are based on outcomes within 1 year of the surgery. That is just not enough for a chronic condition.  The one ‘long term’ study I found was a 2011 article in the journal Advances in Orthopedics.  This study was done at 45 months after surgery. They found that only 59% of patients were satisfied with their surgery, and a meager 3% had complete relief of their CTS symptoms. In fact, about 45% of the patients found that their CTS symptoms were either unchanged or worse!

What else should you know about CTS, but probably don’t? Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is probably the most commonly misdiagnosed chronic pain condition.  Many medical practitioners automatically diagnose pain that shoots down the arm into the hand and wrist as CTS. Often surgery is recommended when the actual cause of pain has nothing to do with the nerve, but has everything to do with muscle imbalances which trigger points mimicking “carpal tunnel like” symptoms

Many job related activities such as using a computer, cutting hair, and carpentry, can overload the muscles of the forearm with daily repetitive tasks. Trigger points that refer pain to wrist are likely to develop from the muscular overload. Symptoms such as numbness and tingling sensations in the fingers may also result from trigger points in muscles of the neck and shoulder region. People with these symptoms may even be diagnosed as having Thoracic Outlet Syndrome.  Both Thoracic Outlet Syndrome and CTS are disorders that are more likely to be created by muscular trigger points than by anatomical or structural malformations. Not only can trigger points refer pain that mimics these disorders, but the muscle tension created by these trigger points will frequently compress nerves as they travel in the neck, shoulder, and forearm regions, and produce the symptoms associated with these syndromes.

This is probably the main reason that the post-surgery outcomes are good in the short term, when patients are not doing the activities that caused the trigger point problems. Then months later after they resume their normal activities the trigger points return and so do the symptoms.

The last thing about CTS that you probably didn’t know is that Acupuncture is great at treating it.  In fact a 2009 study in the Clinical Journal of Pain compared 8 acupuncture treatments to 4 weeks of oral steroids.  Not only did the acupuncture group have no side effects but it slightly outperformed the steroids in pain reduction and improved nerve function at the end of the 4 weeks.   A 2012 study compared real acupuncture to sham (“fake”) acupuncture for CTS and found that the real acupuncture worked better, and reduced symptoms by an average of 40% after 4 weeks.

So why is Acupuncture so effective?  Simple, its because acupuncture can treat both inflammation in the median nerve by increasing blood circulation to the hand and wrist area in true cases of CTS, and we can also treat muscular trigger points to relieve the symptoms of CTS that are not caused by nerve problems.

If you or someone you know is suffering from CTS or similar symptoms be sure to look at all of your options including acupuncture, and massage therapy before deciding upon surgery.

10 Easy Ways To Make Time for a Workout

Posted on: March 4th, 2016 by Orlando Acupuncture
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1.) Make a plan- There is power in a plan. Set a time that works for you and make a note of it in your calendar. This will help create accountability and make sure you don’t schedule something during that time. Also when you check your calendar every morning you will see it there and create a mental picture of when and how you will be exercising that day.

2.) Use your lunch break – Lunch breaks are becoming a thing of the past these days. Most busy people are working straight through their break or eating lunch at their desk. This is a bad idea for so many reasons. One it cause you to binge eat later because when you are not paying attention to your meal, it’s like it never happened. Taking time to enjoy your lunch and then going for a walk or climbing the stairs is the perfect break. You will come back to your desk feeling energized and ready to finish the work day.

3.) Find five minutes – Just taking 5 minutes to get up, walk around, stretch or just breathe deeply is a great place to start. Before you know it that 5 minutes may become 20 minutes.

4.) Weekend Warrior – We tend to have a little more time during the weekends then during the week. If we make it a priority to get in two 60 minute workouts on the weekends then you only need to fit in one 30 minute workout during the week to get your recommended 150 minutes a week.

5.) Set the alarm 30 minutes earlier – This may also mean you should head off to bed 30 minutes earlier but getting your workout in first thing in the morning really is ideal. For most people the day gets more hectic as it goes on, doing it first thing in the morning assures you fit it in. Its always a good idea to lay your workout clothes out the night before to keep from wasting time and forgetting something while your still half asleep.

6.) Socialize on the move – Getting your friends together for a workout session is a great way to stay up to date on the latest new, while getting your workout in. Next time your friend calls to grab lunch or a cocktail, counter it with an invite to join you for a yoga class or a walk through the park.

7.) Ditch your ride – If you are lucky enough to live in a city where you can walk or bike to work or the store… Do it! This is an awesome way to get moving. Even if you can’t do it every day just once a week is huge!

8.) Master the Micro-Workout – Whether you’re at home or work, never let yourself sit ideal for more than a few hours. Get up and take the long way around to the break room. Plan 10 minutes breaks in intervals where you stretch or do a quick circuit workout. It only takes 30 seconds to do 15 push-ups or sit-ups, so don’t say you don’t have time. Set an alarm on your computer so you don’t forget.

9.) Choose something over nothing – You don’t need 60 minutes or even 30 minutes to get in a good full body workout. And some exercise is always better than none. We can always find a few free minutes in our day, even 7 minutes is better than nothing.

10.) The night cap – After a long day it is so easy to just unwind with a glass of wine, your favorite show, and the sofa but if you haven’t fit your exercise in yet this is the time. A long walk with your partner after dinner or  maybe a relaxing yoga class are great options for this time of day.

 

3 Ways to Treat Headaches at Home

Posted on: March 1st, 2016 by John Barnett
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headached

The best way to treat headaches is, of course, to prevent them from starting in the first place. However, if you are suffering from headaches here are three ways to treat them at home.

1.) Drink Plenty of Water:

My first secret is to drink plenty of filtered or spring water every day.  Dehydration is a major cause of headaches so keeping hydrated can be a great defense against them.  I recommend keeping some high quality H20 with you throughout your day!  Also important is to not skip meals (unless you are doing a specific cleanse).  Make time to eat and drink in a convenient, relaxed way throughout your day to keep headaches away.

2.) Hot Water Foot Soak:

If you are getting a headache and you are at home, one great solution is to soak your feet in hot water for 5 to 15 minutes.  If done within the first 15 minutes of the headache starting this will usually stop the headache in its tracks. This works because the hot water triggers vasodilatation (increased blood flow) in the foot “Tai Yang” and “Xiao Yang” acupuncture regions in the feet, and most headaches are a lack of proper blood flow in these regions of the head.

3.) Acu-Pressure:

If you aren’t at home, don’t worry, you can do some simple self acu-pressure for headaches.  Two of my favorite points for headache relief acu-pressure are located near the head of the fifth metacarpal bone (the pinky).  If it is a temple headache then use your fingernail to apply pressure to the crease found in the palm of your hand at the head of the metacarpal. (near the pinky).  Just feel around for the most sensitive place and apply pressure there.  Be sure to try both hands, and usually one side will be more tender and effective than the other.  If the headache is occipital (around the neck area in the back of the head) then the area to massage is the side of the hand at the far end of the crease I just described. This one works even better if you move your head a neck as you massage the area.

If you are suffering from headaches on a regular basis (one or more headaches each month) you should see a healthcare professional to see what might be causing them.  Headaches can be warning signs of serious conditions and should not be ignored or handled with regular use of over the counter medications such as Advil or Tylenol. At Orlando Acupuncture we offer Free Consultations so we can dive deep into your health history and see if Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine can help you.

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