Monthly Archives: December 2013

What the Feeling of “Pins and Needles” Really Means

tailor needlesEveryone has experienced the sensation of “pins and needles” in their body at one point or another. It is a very common occurrence characterized by a sensation of tingling, pricking, burning, numbness or heaviness usually in the extremities. It is commonly referred to as having a limb that has “fallen asleep.”

In most people, it is a temporary condition. However, if you experience this feeling on a regular basis, it is uncomfortable and leaves you weak with less mobility. This can be an indicator of several underlying medical conditions, some serious and some less so.

To begin a treatment to get rid of the pins and needles, it’s important that the cause of the underlying problem is identified. Without this, the pain will stick around or come and go indefinitely. We’ve helped many people who experience regular pins and needles finally stop the problem and get to the root of what’s going on so they feel pain-free and strong.

It’s time to learn why some areas of your body are constantly plagued with the uncomfortable pins and needles sensation.

This condition often happens when pressure is applied to the arms or legs such as when you are kneeling on a bent knee on the ground or sleeping on an arm for a prolonged period of time. This pressure reduces the blood flow to your limbs. The lack of blood stops the nerves from sending messages to the brain and therefore you don’t feel the limb, or in other words, it’s numb.

When you change positions the pressure on the blood vessels is released and after a period of time the blood flow returns to normal. After this, the messages from the nerves flood the brain all at once causing the pricking and tingling sensation we’re all familiar with.

Chronic pins and needles sensations are due to a problem with nerve function. There can be many causes for this, ranging from a vitamin deficiency to an autoimmune disease. It can also be caused by a pinched nerve or an injury to the nerves from disease or an accident. Pins and needles are common in the elderly, who often have reduced circulation in conjunction with a tendency toward vitamin B12 deficiency. As B12 must be absorbed by the gut, its absorption becomes more difficult as our digestive enzymes are not as strong as they once were.

Other conditions that pins and needles sensations may indicate are: diabetes, alcoholism, compressed nerves, carpal tunnel syndrome, spinal disc herniation, menopause, heavy metal poisoning, anxiety disorder, fibromyalgia, chemotherapy, multiple sclerosis, a transient ischemic attack (TIA) and lupus.

The sensation of pins and needles usually goes away by itself, but if you find yourself experiencing this or numbness on a regular basis or you think you need help with some of the problems listed above, come in for an exam or consultation. We can help you get your problem straightened out or direct you to the next step or referral that you may need. Also, by checking your body structure and alignment we start you out with the first easy step in diagnosing why the pins and needles may be present.

We can help a pinched nerve that you feel from your shoulders, in your back, or down your leg and from many other areas.  You don’t have to suffer with the pain of a pinched nerve that slows you down and drains your energy. Together, we can decide upon the best course of treatment based on the specifics of your situation.

Managing Joint Pain that Comes with the Damp and Cold Weather

Allentown Chiropractor Joint Pain when it's ColdIt is common for people with chronic joint pain to feel more pain and stiffness when the weather turns damp or cold. Unfortunately it can make getting up and getting active hard to bear.

While it’s easy to be skeptical when an elderly relative says his or her joints are predicting that it will rain tomorrow, it turns out they may be right. Essentially, our joints sometimes act as human barometers.

The pain you feel when the weather changes can decrease your regularly planned exercise or activity and starts throwing off your plan towards weight loss or keeping fit so you look and feel great and keep a high level of energy.

Researchers believe it’s not actually the cold, snow or rain that causes an increase in joint pain, but rather it’s the change in the outside barometric pressure that causes pain in your joints. Robert Jamison, PhD, a professor at Harvard Medical School along with several colleagues, performed experiments with chronic pain sufferers to investigate this phenomenon. The resulting study reported that “67.9 percent of the people surveyed reported that they can feel a change in their pain before rain or cold weather occurs.”

Does the pain you experience with weather changes mean that your joints are wearing down and getting arthritic?

Not always. If you’re feeling the same achiness for an extended period of time, it’s not just the weather affecting your joints. But it’s important to realize how your joints work. They have some fluctuation in the pressure and quantity of fluid that they hold. Jamison likens the joints to a balloon. “When a balloon is inflated, it has the maximum inside and outside pressure. High pressure that pushes against the body from the outside keeps tissues from expanding”…essentially keeping your joints in check. But when the weather changes and it gets cold, cloudy and rainy, as a very loose rule, the atmosphere is at a low-pressure which takes the pressure off of your joints which actually allows them to swell. This can put increased pressure on the nerves that are abundant in your joints and you feel pain as well as lack of motion (stiffness) from the swollen joints. “It doesn’t take much expansion or contraction of your tissue to affect a pain trigger,” Jamison adds.

Do you have to move to a warmer climate to get out of pain?

Moving to a warmer climate unfortunately will not help the problem in most cases.  Jamison says “There’s no heaven on earth. If you have awful back or neck pain … there’s a good chance that that pain will travel with you.” According to Jamison’s research, there is no area of the country where people experience less pain. The patients with chronic pain who lived in San Diego reported just as much pain as their counterparts in Boston.  Jamison says, “I think as mammals, we kind of adjust to our climate.”

Here’s what you can do to manage joint pain that comes and goes with the weather:

  • Support your joints – Use joint supports (such as elastic knee bandages or support gloves for your hands) to keep tissues from expanding with the change in weather.
  • Keep warm – Dressing warmly and applying a heating pad or hot water bottle to painful areas will help to relax your muscles and ease pain.
  • Keep moving – Much as you may long to stay curled up under the duvet in bad weather, moving around will help keep your joints from stiffening. Our chiropractic treatments make sure your joints aren’t getting stuck and your body is moving well so your muscles and tendons don’t pull painfully during activities or even while resting. Once your joints are straightened out, you can continue making your body happy in motion by walking, running and doing some gentle yoga and stretching exercises.

Movement is a great way to keep pain at bay. So make sure that you don’t give up on the physical activities you’ve got planned just because the weather is bad. If you’re feeling the same achiness for an extended period of time, it’s not just the weather affecting your joints. Our treatment has helped many people experience pain relief sometimes as soon as the day we see them; within one visit.

The Secret Weapons that Can Keep You Flexible and Young

Scar tissue reliefEveryone develops scar tissue over time. This is the body’s normal reaction to injury—no matter how slight.

But scar tissue can keep you stiff and increasingly inflexible. Because of it many people can’t do the activities they used to enjoy like play tennis or garden.

Even simple actions that most people wouldn’t regard as injury-producing can lead to a buildup of scar tissue. Repetitive motions like typing, for example, can cause micro-trauma to the soft tissue (often referred to as an overuse injury), leading to carpal tunnel syndrome. As part of the repair process, scar tissue is created.

Scar tissue is important for you to understand because it tends to interfere with the smooth movement of muscle and may eventually affect your range of motion or how well you move your hands, turn your head to see the car in your blind spot or bend your body to stretch your muscles effectively. The effects of scar tissue doesn’t have to progress to the point where it’s uncomfortable to you if it’s nipped in the bud at the right time.

If you have ever felt a tightness or inability to move a joint in a fluid manner, you likely have a buildup of scar tissue. Our soft tissues (including tendons and ligaments) are made of collagen, which is a substance that looks like strands of rope wound together into a net-like formation called fascia. When an injury occurs, it causes frays, kinks and bends in the collagen strands of the fascia, which create the scar tissue. Ideally, scar tissue is replaced by normal tissue as it heals, but this does not always happen.

Adhesions are small bits of scar tissue that bind the tissues around them, leading to stiffness and a reduction in strength and range of motion. Nerves often become trapped in these adhesions, creating “trigger points” from which pain can radiate. Painful movements lead to less activity, and less activity leads to a further reduced range of motion. Because scar tissue has less circulation and is less flexible and elastic than normal muscle tissue, muscles become shorter and weaker. It is important to remove these scar tissue adhesions in order to reduce pain and restore strength and the proper range of motion.

The secret weapons to relieve built up scar tissue so you stay flexible and young:

Hands-on therapies such as the Active Release Technique (ART), Graston Technique and Myofascial Release are used by some chiropractors as a way of breaking up scar tissue to release trapped nerves and restore greater range of motion.

Hands-on therapies are the only way to get true relief of the body’s scar tissues. The Graston Technique uses stainless steel instruments to break up the fascia, whereas ART and Myofascial Release employ a direct hands-on approach to remove adhesions and break up scar tissue.

Many chiropractors incorporate one or both of the above therapies into their practice to help increase their patient’s strength and range of movement, as well as helping their chiropractic adjustments to last longer.

You can become more flexible and pain-free, even if you’ve already started feeling the effects of scar tissue build up. And the best thing about getting hands-on therapy by a chiropractor is, the more fluid and free of scar tissue your muscles and joints are, the less likely tense muscles will pull the spine or other joints back out of alignment. We offer hands-on, pain-free, chiropractic care that is the most effective method of eliminating scar tissue and other stiffness in your muscles and joints. Receive a complimentary “Pain Relief and Flexibility” consultation by contacting us today.