3 Common Causes of Back Pain, Neck Stiffness and Headaches and How to Bounce Back From Pain Quickly

It’s obvikenetic chain back painous that our energy levels, motivation to get up and out the door, as well as our sports performance is affected by our general, whole-body health. The thing about our bodies is, when there is a problem in one small area of our body, it can affect our health in general. As a result, different symptoms appear, and where the symptoms originate is not always obvious. All you may know is that your motivation for movement is down, you are in pain and not able to perform well in your sports or recreation.

The good news is that by understanding how our body works, we can learn how to listen to its signals. This way, we are in a better position to bounce back to optimal health and sports performance more quickly.

How to Tune in to Your Body

We learn from a young age that the different parts of the body are connected and work together. We learn from studying a fake skeleton in museums that bones connect to each other to help us move.

Actually, the body is interconnected beyond the skeleton frame thus affecting energy, performance, organ health and sometimes even mood.

By understanding how the body is connected as a whole, we can start to tune in to the different subtle signs that our body sends to us. These signs clearly tell us about hidden health problems, once we know how to listen to the body and understand them.

This interconnectedness is referred to by chiropractors as the Biomechanical Chain.

How to Use the Biomechanical Chain to Understand Your Body Simply

The important fact to remember with the biomechanical chain is that, when one link becomes broken in the interconnectedness of the body, other parts of the body will react adversely as part of the chain.

This chain is useful for the human body, which is designed to “know” how the different parts can compensate to help the whole body to repair.

However, the way that the body unfortunately compensates can often lead to other parts of the body absorbing unusual, extra stresses that it is not designed to deal with.

For example, when misalignment of one single vertebra occurs in your back, the consequent pain down one leg can cause you to use one leg more than the other to help you walk. However, over-using one side of the body will usually cause the posture to distort further and the misalignment problem in the body can worsen. As a result, even more problems and pain can appear in the body.

Working like a Chiropractor to Understand Your Pain…

Here’s how to identify 3 Common Posture Problems that may be causing your pain:

  1. Are you in pain when you sit for a while or are on your computer? If so and your sitting arrangement is causing the problem, you may notice a stiff or flattened lower back. Often trying to bend backwards is difficult. You may also have a more rounded upper back; right below your neck, which if it gets very advanced may give a hunched back appearance. You likely will experience pain in your upper and lower back as well as regular headaches. Some other symptoms you may be experiencing are feeling tired, having difficulty breathing, having jaw pain or you may be feeling a lack in motivation.
  2. Do you walk with a limp? Favoring a foot, knee or hip can express itself in a limp. This can indicate several things: incomplete healing of past injuries of your foot, ankle, knee or hip may now show up as a persistent limp. A limp can also stem from weaknesses of the muscles or nerves in your legs because of an old back injury, disc problem or a current sciatica problem. You may likely experience pain in your hip, ankle, knee or back that continues because this limp is sticking around too long. Each step you take jars the body the wrong way and because of this you feel pain in one or more joints. You may have varicose veins, painful or irregular periods and many different types of knee and leg pain may come up.
  3. When you look at yourself straight on in the mirror, are your shoulders level or is one higher than the other? This is a key sign that we see in neck pain, upper back pain and before shoulder injuries. Often people with unleveled shoulders have difficulty bringing one arm over their head without feeling some pinching or strain in the neck. This is causing a lot of stress in the upper back and neck and may also present with headaches or a stiff neck. You may be getting sick often with a lower resistance to colds or be experiencing some chest pains or stomach problems.

Your chiropractor has a detailed understanding of how different forces act in the body. As a result, chiropractors are able to understand and identify the true sources of your injury.

How Can You Jump Back to Health As Quickly As Possible

  1. It’s time to take notice of and identify the kinks in your biomechanical chain.
  2. Take notice of the area of their body that is not working right and possibly causing their pain and other uncomfortable conditions.
  3. Contact a chiropractor. Chiropractors are experts at identifying problems in the structure of the biomechanical chain and can then advise you about the best options for effective treatment.

Are you based in Bethlehem, PA?

Dr. Nicole Muschett ( Chiropractor in Bethlehem, PA ) is offering a complimentary foot, ankle and knee pain consultation to help you look after yourself, and bounce back to optimal performance more quickly.

Contact us today to discuss the pain you are experiencing and how I can help you. By understanding how the different parts of your body and the different symptoms you have are connected, your chiropractor can work with you and show you how to reduce or stop pain in its tracks.

By getting an experienced evaluation and timely advice, you will make sure that you recover and are back to functioning at your best as quickly as possible.



Why Bed Rest Isn’t the Best Medicine When It Comes to Back Pain

Back Pain Bethlehem PAIf you find yourself struggling with back pain, you likely want to recover quickly and regain your strength.

It’s natural to feel that you need to take it easy and get lots of bed rest to reduce the strain on your back and muscles.

But beware; bed rest is not the best medicine for fast recovery and lasting back strength. Many medical professionals prescribe it too frequently. Both the National Institute of Health and Dr. Michael S. Wilkes of the Western Journal of Medicine claim that “Despite a plethora of research intended to guide physicians in their management of back pain, physicians still hold strong non-evidence based beliefs dating back to the 19th century.”

The idea of bed rest for back pain is one that has ingrained itself deep into society. Despite evidence otherwise, the idea pervades.  According to the Daily Mail, one study surveying a thousand people from the ages 25–65 years of age, found that 35% believe that bed rest is the best way to handle aches and pains such as back pain.

Where is all of this information originating?

Chiropractors have long understood the need for early introduction of motion into the injured back and have found that patients have a phenomenal success rates when this is done. This has everything to do with the skills chiropractors use to administer pain-free amounts of motion back into a very tight and guarded back. Success and recovery has little to do with lying in bed, in pain for an extended period of time.

Here is why bed rest is not the best medicine:

Bed rest produces a mentality of being in a weakened state. Michael Vagg, Clinical Senior Lecturer at Deakin University School of Medicine says, “The mind’s expectation of pain can itself cause protective movements to persist for longer than necessary”.

Certainly our minds are part of an important feedback loop in the effort to heal from intense pain.  Often what our minds are feeling: guarded, tired, scared, our bodies are being. It’s a strong connection. Thus, the tendency to use bed rest as a solution puts us in a state of being weak and petulant which keeps the body in a state of guarding itself, tightening up, and in protection-mode which can extend the time we have painful muscle spasms. This also ensures our bodies are not open to new movement patterns that we actually need to free us from pain quickly.

Evidence shows that extended bed rest does not help. For most types of back pain, there is powerful evidence that extended bed rest does not help. One study showed that when comparing routine care, bed rest, and exercise, bed rest resulted in greater intensity of pain, greater disability and more work days lost.

Exercise had the most favorable outcome. According to Dr. Wilkes, “14 of 18 controlled studies report that active exercise can improve outcomes.”
In order to feel ready to get some exercise in your day, light chiropractic adjustments will help you feel better quicker and your back will move well so it heals properly. These light and specific, motion-inducing adjustments to your back can help produce better results in the long run.

When you are experiencing your most acute back pain, you may need to temporarily change your routine…that’s okay. But the majority of the time you should consider the fact that you need to minimize bed rest for your back to heal like it needs to. It’s better to get moving so your back has the opportunity to get stronger. This is best when the joints fit and move together well as chiropractic adjustments help.

Extended Bed rest restricts the spine’s ability to stay healthy and be strong. Bed rest can be helpful to reduce painful muscle spasms which are usually right after an injury. Such spasms are an attempt for the body to limit movement in an injured part of the body. However, for an extended period of time, this is not good. Bed rest restricts the spine’s motion and unlike other body parts, spines require motion in order to get nutrients so it stays healthy. Restricted movement can result in lost strength and can make it harder for the spine to recover.

Whenever there are problems with your back, chiropractic care is the most logical and proven effective first step. Studies have shown that chiropractic care is more effective than conventional medical care in cases of low back pain. In some cases, significant relief from back pain can be immediate. Contact us if you feel your back is talking to you; it’s in pain or feeling weak. When you do this, you have a strong chance of getting stronger and back into your day-to-day routine soon.

The 7 Step Plan to Sleep Well, Wake Up Refreshed and Get your Energy Back

How-to-get-better-sleep-Bethlehem-PAWhat are you like when you wake up in the morning?

Do you wake up refreshed, ready to hop out of bed and start a productive day? Or do you wake up groggy, still feeling tired and disoriented and not ready for the day until after your morning coffee?

If you fall into the latter category, you may be feeling the effects of something called sleep inertia.

Sleep inertia is a temporary physiological state that is characterized by feelings of disorientation, reluctance or inability to get up, and a deficit experienced in your motor skills and decision-making ability. This means, you wake up feeling like your legs and arms are heavy and clumsy and you are in a mental state where you certainly shouldn’t be making any major decisions or operating any heavy equipment.

These symptoms usually last from 1 to 30 minutes but can persist for as long as four hours.

While we all experience some amount of sleep inertia immediately after waking up, it is considered more debilitating in people who regularly experience these types of circumstances:

  1. Among those of us who are chronically under-rested and who NEED loud alarm clocks to wake up in the mornings.

A study at the University of Colorado at Boulder found that people who suffer from sleep inertia have more impaired thinking and memory skills than people deprived of sleep for 24 hours.

  1. Sleep inertia can also affect those who take regular naps, often leaving people feeling more tired after the nap than before it.

In many cases, sleep inertia may actually become dangerous, particularly when an individual doesn’t recognize the symptoms or realize that he or she is not functioning well.  While it can lead to being chronically late to school or work and may result in lower productivity once you get there, there are even worse possibilities. Coping with sleep inertia while going about your daily activities can raise the risk of accidents and injuries, including auto accidents (a growing number of which are related to “drowsy driving”).

  1. Those who regularly self-treat with coffee in the morning.

The cause of sleep inertia is still unknown, but researchers can pinpoint when it happens. It occurs when a person is awakened suddenly from a period of slow-wave sleep, the deepest phase of the normal human sleep cycle. It has been theorized that sleep inertia may be caused by a buildup in the brain of adenosine, a chemical that is strongly linked to feelings of tiredness. This may explain why many people “self-treat” their feelings of grogginess and disorientation after waking with coffee. Caffeine blocks adenosine receptors in the brain. Another “self-treatment” that is common is resorting to the use of extremely loud alarm clocks, which shock the body and causes it to release adrenaline, thus speeding the wakening process.

Unfortunately, both of these “treatments” can have negative effects on your health, especially if you have to resort to them for years.

Among the more effective methods of reducing the symptoms of sleep inertia and to prevent it are the following suggestions from sleep experts:

  • Step 1 Maintain a regular schedule, both during the work week and on weekends; your circadian rhythms are sensitive, and disrupting them can lead to sleep inertia.
  • Step 2 Open your blinds or curtains before you go to bed; gradual morning light fights sleep inertia.
  • Step 3 Consider a “smart” alarm clock that tracks your sleep cycles and wakes you at the “right” time during the sleep cycle to avoid sleep inertia.
  • Step 4 Get up immediately after waking; if you need to hit the “snooze” button, do it for only 5 minutes and then force yourself to get up.
  • Step 5 Avoid caffeine in the evenings, and work at cutting it out of your diet completely. Instead opt for more nutritious beverages and meals like fresh juices and blended healthy protein or fruit smoothies.
  • Step 6 Get moving by planning to get sufficient exercise. Morning exercise is best. Night exercise may harm your ability to move smoothly into your sleep cycle.
  • Step 7 Get your joints and muscles moving better so you feel comfortable in your bed and on your pillow. When your body feels good while at rest you will benefit additionally by having improved energy levels during the day. You can improve the way you feel, heal and rest through regularly scheduled chiropractic adjustments.

The best general advice may be to get to sleep at an appropriate hour and then to ignore any promptings from your own body to go back to sleep after you first wake up in the morning. Instead, get up and get active. The sooner you do that, the sooner the symptoms of sleep inertia will go away.

How to Make Walking Easy… Even if it Hurts Right Now (The Common Causes and Treatment Options for Ankle Pain)

Bethlehem Chiropractor for foot and leg painLots of the activities we do require us to be on our feet and be able to spring into action, even walking. It doesn’t always feel like you are “springing” because you may have pain in your feet, ankles, or knees.

You may also feel like you’re just pounding on the ground as you walk. But “springing” is likely what you are still doing if your ankle anatomy is largely intact. The springing action your ankle is built for is what you want to promote more of if you want to walk much easier without pain.

One of the biggest springing forces in your ankle comes from your large ankle tendon called the Achilles tendon. It is poised to spring you forward with little input from your muscles during your normal everyday walking motion.

The problem that leads to painful walking and losing that spring in your step is when you repeatedly strain or overexert the tendon while walking. This can lead to a condition called Achilles tendonitis or inflammation of the Achilles tendon.

Achilles tendonitis is a common condition among runners and other athletes; however, any person who just shifts their daily habits a little bit may experience tendonitis of the Achilles tendon. Often this occurs if the body is not ready for a new type of movement because of joints being jammed in the ankle, foot or knee or because of a lack of flexibility in the leg muscles.

Common Causes of Injury that Affects Walking

The most common cause of injury to the Achilles tendon is simply due to repeated or overexerted use that leads to strain of the tendon. Strain means the tendon gets small tears which can lead to a buildup of scar tissue which threatens to reduce your flexibility for good.

A strain in your tendons (like the Achilles) starts gradually and it is usually felt as minor twinges to a stiff/painful sensation that emanates from the back of the heel to the calf. Common causes leading up to the injury include:

  • Repeated and sudden ankle, knee, hip and back use that you are not prepared for (Your body isn’t ready- you haven’t stretched or gotten the necessary chiropractic adjustments that reintroduces the proper motion in the joints so you move better)
  • Direct trauma to a muscle or tendon
  • Wearing inadequate footwear
  • Supination (when the foot rolls outward) and over-pronation (when the foot rolls inward)
  • Being overweight
  • People suffering from diabetes, arthritis, and gout are at greater risk of Achilles Tendonitis along with other conditions that can affect walking

If Walking Hurts Right Now:

The best treatment options include keeping your body flexible as well as reintroducing good ankle, knee, or hip motion into your joints through chiropractic adjustments.

  1. The work you can do to improve it: To improve flexibility you need to dedicate a couple of minutes a day for a few days to stretch your ankles, hips and calves. You can stretch your calves by bending your ankle and using a large exercise band to pull your forefoot and toes up so they’re pointing towards your face.
  2. The instant improvement: Improving your ankle joint movement can be instantaneous when you get an adjustment from your Chiropractor. You can feel and see the benefits right away.
  3. If you are injured: Make sure you get plenty of rest throughout the healing process. You’ll need to rest the injured area by refraining from exercise that puts strain on the tendon. This rest period usually lasts for a few weeks but it could be longer based on the severity of the injury. If you have injured a tendon or muscle and the pain is severe, you may also apply ice to the tendon or area that hurts for approximately 20 minutes at a time. This is useful especially after any exercise or feelings of pain.

To manage pain, it’s important to make sure you know what your diagnosis is, for example, that it is in fact Achilles tendonitis rather than something else like a small fracture. Once you have a diagnosis, the best treatment methods can be given as well as prevention steps for avoiding future episodes of pain or injury.

How to Make Walking Easy

It is possible to prevent Achilles Tendonitis and make walking easy- the number one method is to stretch and get motion into your ankles and legs prior to any ‘out of the norm’ day where you know you’ll be taxing your ankles and feet more. Chiropractic adjustments give an instantaneous burst of motion that just feels right. Arch supports and heel cups can also help keep your foot in proper alignment thus alleviating strain on the tendon.

Depending on the severity, problems such as Achilles Tendonitis can take just a few weeks or several months to heal fully. It’s important to seek proper care otherwise you could end up with chronic ankle pain or stiffness. If you’re on the mend from an Achilles injury or concerned about falling victim to such an injury, contact Dr. Nicole Muschett for a complimentary Foot, Ankle, and Knee Pain Consultation today.

5 Tips to Ensure You Buy the Best Nutritional Supplements

nutritional-supplementsYour favorite local pharmacy and health store is packed with several brands of popular nutritional supplements. Jump online and you’ll find online catalogues bursting at their website borders with hundreds of brands.

Your goal is probably simple. You either want to lose weight in a healthy manner or you want to improve your health and energy levels and ultimately feel happy.

On occasion, the right nutritional medicine can help the body feel tuned up and primed for optimal function. This is also the case with the help of hands-on motion therapy through chiropractic treatments. Your muscles and joints can move much more fluidly and with less discomfort so that you feel drawn to getting up and getting into motion. You can feel primed and ready-to-go in your body even if your head isn’t in the game yet. The right type of energy boost through proper nutrition can bring a sense of internal calm along with renewed energy too.

If you desire the best nutritional supplements to support an active, healthy body you may be asking, “How do you buy the best nutritional supplements with so many choices on the market?”

Let’s go over what to look for:

Tip #1: “Natural” isn’t always natural.

Just because that bottle says, “All Nature,” doesn’t make it true or safe. If you’re coping with a chronic health condition, all natural might seem like the safe alternative for a good nutritional supplement, but this isn’t always the case. Always consult your doctor before taking a supplement to rule out possible side effects or severe reactions.

Tip #2: Check for a “USP Verified” seal of approval.

Products bearing the USP Verified seal of approval have met the strict requirements for quality per the U.S. Pharmacopeia group. The requirements focus on a combination of overall quality and ingredient potency plus purity. Products holding this seal are generally considered to be of good quality and from reputable manufacturers.

Tip #3: Always read the product label in its entirety.

Before buying any dietary or nutritional supplement, always read the product label in its entirety. The truth is most companies refuse to guarantee the quality and effectiveness of their product. Reading the label tell you exactly what you’re buying, and the old adage, “You get what you pay for,” applies. Cheap supplements are made from inferior ingredients. They are often less absorbed by the body and therefore less beneficial. Yet, inferior supplements sell for the same or greater price when compared to high quality versions.

Tip #4: Do your homework- supplements aren’t well regulated.

The FDA doesn’t regulate dietary supplements with an iron fist. In fact, supplement manufacturers don’t need FDA approval to put their product on the market. It’s your job to do your homework before buying a supplement. Ensure the manufacturer sports a good reputation and stands behind their product. Check out consumer reviews as well. Research the ingredients from the label and confirm their quality and bioavailability (i.e. how easy and fully they are absorbed by the body).

Top #5: Consult a professional.

Did you know that many chiropractors have specialized training and experience related to supplements and proper diet and nutrition?

I regularly help people with their nutrition needs and make sure I recommend only quality products. Learn more by contacting Dr. Nicole Muschett, Chiropractor today!