4 Effective Means to Alleviate a “Charley Horse”

woman-stretching-calvesYou’re lying in bed and just about to go to sleep and then all of a sudden, you feel that pull start deep in your calf muscle. You know exactly what is coming; the seizing pain of another “Charley Horse” sets in.

“Charley Horse” is a slang term for a painful muscle spasm that can happen in any muscle but most often it happens in the calf or foot. Sometimes you may experience this pain in the arms, hands, rib cage, abdomen, or thighs. It is characterized by a tight or “seizing” sensation. The pain can last for just a few seconds or stretch out over a period of days. The affected area can become difficult to touch.

Just about everyone will experience this common type of muscle spasm from time to time. Sometimes the worst part is just the fear of when it’s going to happen again.

The important thing to know is that you can prevent this pain from coming and even from hitting its peak when you feel it starting. Knowing how to alleviate a Charley Horse effectively will be profoundly helpful to you when you are trying to rest and just feel better.

Common Causes and Prevention

Charley horses are commonly caused by exercising without stretching first. Dehydration, hormonal imbalances, dietary deficiencies, nerve malfunction, and reactions to medication can all contribute to creating a painful charley horse episode. Here’s what you need to know:

  1. Encourage and maintain flexibility. Stretching exercises are highly useful for both alleviating and preventing the dreaded charley horse. If a muscle spasm affects your calf or the back of your thigh, you can stretch it out by lunging forward, putting your weight on the affected leg, and slightly bending your knee. If a cramp or spasm is affecting the front of your leg, you can alleviate it by using a chair to balance while pulling your foot up behind you, toward your bottom.
  2. Massage the affected area. Massaging the affected area can release and relieve muscle tension, allowing the spasm to subside. Applying hot and cold compresses can also assist in alleviating the pain. You can also elevate the affected area to increase blood circulation and encourage the release of tension.
  3. Drink plenty of water. Dehydration is a leading cause of charley horses. Water keeps your muscles hydrated and truly “fluid”. You can alleviate and prevent them by drinking lots of water.
  4. Eat More of the Right Foods. A low sodium diet combined with increasing your consumption of potassium-, magnesium-, and calcium-rich foods is recommended. Foods to eat include bananas, oranges, avocados, almonds, halibut, spinach, kale, and dairy products. Vitamin supplements can also assist in increasing your potassium, magnesium, and calcium levels. Lastly, avoid diuretics (i.e. caffeine or drugs) as they can deplete your hydration and electrolytes.

What about if you need help now? They just keep coming back!

If you’re experiencing charley horses on a frequent basis, they could be an indication of a physical problem. For example, a pinched nerve can cause reoccurring muscle spasms and is correctable via chiropractic adjustment. Also body imbalance can cause frequent muscle spasms such as Charley Horses. Imbalance of your posture is where your muscles are pulling stronger on one side of your body in comparison to the other side or pulling on one side of a body part- such as your leg- versus the other. This causes a muscle to experience more episodes of spasm than if it was balanced. Consult us today for a comprehensive diagnosis to see if you have the tell-tale signs of faulty foot, ankle or hip muscle movement patterns or other health disturbances that may cause Charley Horses.

3 Ways to Identify Pain That’s Caused by Repressed Stress

Chronic back pain is one of the most common and frustrating ailments.

Few things are worse than a sore back. It can make everything from moving to staying still very uncomfortable and often painful.

True relief can only be achieved if and when the root cause of your pain is identified. This is where things sometimes get tricky. Healthcare professionals categorize chronic back pain as one of the most frequently seen musculoskeletal issues in health care. And although they repeatedly treat it as a physical ailment, some have realized that often there is more at play. There are times that a person’s pain is more than a physical problem; more than a problem that solely involves the muscles, bones, joints or nerves.

In the 1970s, Dr. John Sarno proposed the idea that not all pain is caused by a physical issue. He introduced tension myositis syndrome (or TMS). TMS is based on the premise that not all pain is purely physical in nature, and chronic pain could be linked to repressed psychological or emotional stress that is directly causing muscle tension.

Spotting Signs of Repressed Stress

It’s rare to receive a chronic back pain diagnosis documenting the cause as TMS. Unfortunately, the bulk of the mainstream medical community fails to recognize it as a valid diagnosis, and they do not endorse related treatment methods. However, Dr. Mehmet Oz, Andrew Weil, and other alternative care health professionals have given TMS attention. According to Dr. Sarno, when TMS is accurately diagnosed and treated, the approximate cure rate is 85 percent. Here’s how you can spot the signs of repressed stress pain:

  1. Emotional Triggers: Repressed anger or anxiety are major causes of TMS. Triggers can involve everything from highly emotional encounters to pain occurring directly after a sound, smell, or sight.
  2. Known Symptoms: Documented TMS symptoms include recurring and intermittent back pain, stiffness, tingling sensations, numbness, and weakness in the affect area. Discomfort in other neighboring parts of the body is common, including the neck, arms, jaw, wrists, and knees.
  3. Periods of Relief: It’s common for symptoms to decrease after a vacation or other form of relaxation. Once back to the daily grind, symptoms can rapidly reoccur and they are not contingent on physical activity.

The core treatment is education. Once a proper diagnosis is issued, you can begin to recover. Regardless of whether you’re experiencing acute or sporadic back pain, a trained chiropractor can help. Chiropractors treat joint misalignments that cause muscle tension as well as sharp and pulling pain. It is well known to us that these misalignments in the body often stem from three major influences in our lives: trauma, toxins and thoughts. All have a strong influence on how well our bodies are able to heal, replenish and cope with the day-to-day movements we make.

We have proven to help many of our clients feel much better so they gain a deeper sense of rest and balance. When this happens, the body is able to restore itself releasing much of the tightly held tension you have been feeling. Contact Dr. Nicole Muschett today for a complimentary consultation.

6 Ways Chiropractic Care Can Reduce Back Pain

Chiropractic Bethlehem PA back painIf you suffer from back pain, you are not alone. Approximately 330,000 people visit a chiropractor each year due to back pain.

The biggest problem with back pain is it can cause massive levels of energy loss through your day. As you get into maintaining your daily jobs and tasks while you’re experiencing pain, you’ll feel it and the pain can wear you down. Not only does it hurt but it can cause you to develop a poor attitude throughout the day because of dealing with consistent pain. Worse yet, it saps you of most if not all of your energy leaving none left at the end of the day for those who love you. This often to common fact about pain is what robs you of the quality time you value and the joy you and those around you cherish.

The pain can be debilitating and can also prevent you from keeping up with your health and fitness goals, but it doesn’t have to be this way.

There are two types of back pain, acute and chronic. Acute pain is short-lived, but can be excruciating, while chronic pain can last longer than three months.

Traditional Treatments for Back Pain May Not Be as Effective as Chiropractic Care

Although traditional methods for treating back pain, such as medicine, physical therapy, surgery and steroids temporarily relieve pain, they don’t correct the problem. These treatments are often painful and costly solutions too. That’s where chiropractic care comes in. It is an affordable answer that gets to the root of the problem. The basis of chiropractic care is to correct misalignments that are at the root of the pain. By restoring alignment, it allows for a healthy spine and can relieve headaches, aches and pains and reduced mobility.

The Importance of a Healthy Back

Back injuries can be painful and can deter you from participating in physical activities. Trying to maintain your fitness, stay active and compete in sports is difficult when back pain is interfering. A healthy body all starts with a healthy spine, which helps you remain strong, injury free, keeps you active, and allows you to look and feel your best with better energy leaving you with a better sense of confidence.

6 Ways Chiropractic Care Can Help Heal Your Back

Chiropractors aid your body’s ability to naturally heal itself. It can help you avoid surgery and doesn’t come with the side effects that most medications do. Spinal manipulation is a non-invasive treatment that effectively relieves back pain. They can help in the following ways:

  1. Medical-focused massage. A chiropractor can loosen and relax the back muscles by applying just the right pressure on specific muscles that are part of the pain complex happening in your back. This type of massage may include a prescribed massage from another professional or the use of an instrument or special table in the doctor’s office.
  2. Spinal manipulation. A chiropractor may use his or her hands or small tools to manipulate the spine and ease the muscle tension.
  3. Apply pressure.  Chiropractors can apply a sudden force of pressure, sometimes with the help of a special table that moves with you, in order to move the joint back into its intended position.
  4. Treat injuries. A common practice to relieve chronic pain is called the flexion-distraction technique. It requires the use of a special table that stretches the spine. It helps treat to the damaged discs that result in chronic back pain.
  5. Physical therapy. Treating back pain doesn’t end when you leave the chiropractic office. The chiropractor often gives you exercises and physical therapy to do on your own to speed up the recovery process and reduce back pain.
  6. Referrals. Your chiropractor may also recommend seeing other health professionals for a well-rounded treatment plan or they may themselves provide a specialty “next step to health” service. The plan may include dietary changes, physical activity, change of habits and other lifestyle changes.

You don’t have to suffer from chronic back pain or refrain from physical activities. Dr. Nicole Muschett, your Bethlehem PA “running athlete’s choice chiropractor”, has the solutions you need to relieve the pain and get back to doing the things you enjoy most. Make an appointment today for a complimentary back pain consultation to find out what your back pain means and what typical natural remedies have been proven to work the best to finally alleviate your pain.


7 Tips for Maintaining an Active Lifestyle Despite Joint and Knee Pain

Chiropractor Bethlehem PA Arthritis Joint PainA common reason for joint and knee pain is arthritis.  It is the pain and stiffness many experience when trying to get comfortable. Although the pain of arthritis may fluctuate every day, one thing is clear, when it comes to your joints it sure doesn’t feel like they once were.

Of the categories of arthritis people can get, the worse is autoimmune arthritis. It is a condition that stems from genetics in which the body attacks its own tissues and joints. It differs from other kinds of arthritis, such as osteoarthritis, which occurs most often in the elderly. Autoimmune arthritis can affect anyone, at any age, and can come on rather suddenly. It can affect different areas of the body depending on the day. Autoimmune arthritis can be the root cause of knee and back pain, which sometimes become apparent after a tough workout.

Symptoms of Autoimmune Arthritis

When trying to stay in shape and maintain an active lifestyle, autoimmune arthritis can be your worst enemy. Symptoms may include inflammation, fatigue, memory impairment and flu-like symptoms. You may not have the energy needed to get started or may feel the effects for several days after going for a run. The joint and knee pain may seem unbearable, and can keep you from doing the activities you enjoy. Finding a plan to relieve the pain is essential for living a strong, healthy life.

Treating Autoimmune Arthritis Can Increase Your Activity Level

Relieving achy joints and healing injured feet and knees allows you to play strong. You’ll be able to remain active in the sports you love, stay lean and energetic and maintain a competitive edge. By lessening the pain, you’ll be in a better mood, have an easier time losing weight or maintaining your healthy body, and have a better sense of confidence that allows you to stay healthy and active.

7 Tips for Managing Knee Pain to Stay Active

Although there is currently no cure for autoimmune arthritis, there are a few things you can do to manage the pain (many of the tips are also applied to cases of osteoarthritis):

  1. Early detection. While getting diagnosed for autoimmune arthritis can take several years, your best chance for curbing the symptoms and preventing it from becoming debilitating is to be diagnosed in the first six months. The initial signs include: unexplained injuries, stiff joints after participating in physical activities, non-static pain, locking joints, rashes, clumsiness and changes in appetite.
  2. Diet. An anti-inflammatory diet can reduce the painful side effects of arthritis. The diet resembles the Mediterranean Diet, which includes fruits, vegetables, lean meats, omega-3 fatty acids, whole grains and spices, while limited saturated fats and processed foods.
  3. Medication. Anti-inflammatory drugs are often the first line of defense for treating arthritis pain. Their goal is to suppress the immune system, thus relieving the pain. Unfortunately, these drugs come with unwanted side effects, including damage to the liver.
  4. Natural remedies. Using hot and cold therapy and magnet therapy are a few examples of the natural remedies for arthritic back and knee pain. Deep breathing, meditation and acupuncture are also natural ways to relieve the pain.
  5. Massage therapy. Massages can be used to relieve stress and anxiety, which allows for better rest and sleep. It also helps repair muscles that have to overcompensate for achy joints.
  6. Chiropractic care. Finding a quality Bethlehem, PA chiropractor can be the answer for relieving arthritis, back and knee pain, and increasing the range of motion in the joints. Chiropractic treatments can also help with flexibility and endurance. It works to slow the progression of the symptoms of arthritis so you’ll be able to enjoy walking, running and hiking or whatever activity it is that you love doing.
  7. Surgery. Joint replacement surgery is used as a last resort in severe cases of autoimmune arthritis. Once the joint is damaged or affects your ability to walk or handle daily functions, this may be an option for relieving pain and solving the problem.

Being diagnosed with autoimmune arthritis does not mean you have to give up your healthy lifestyle, drop your fitness goals or stop participating in physical activities. In fact, getting our unique and complimentary “Flexibility and Pain Relief Consultation” with local Chiropractor, Dr. Nicole Muschett, can be the first step towards getting the relief you need to stay active.


Do You See Strange Wear Patterns on the Heels of Your Shoes? Understand What Diagnosis this May Imply for You

Sports and Running Chiropractor Bethlehem PAHave you ever noticed the heel of your shoe wearing out in a strange pattern? Maybe your shoes are worn out on the back outside edges?

“So what?” you may be thinking. Shoes wear out.

Yes, they do. But the problem is not the shoes. Shoes can always be replaced. The problem is, this may be a sign of poor function of the joints in your feet. This condition may also adversely cause pain and dysfunction in the joints in your ankles, knees, hips and even back.

If the insides of your heels show greater wear than the outsides, odds are you are seeing signs that your feet are over-pronating when you are walking.

Like a squeaky hinge, when your foot constantly moves in a pronation pattern, you’ll notice a looser, more prone to injury ankle. You might even notice a bunion or sore big toe and some knee or hip pain on that side of your body.

If a doctor ever told you that you or your family member has flat feet, it’s important to note that flat foot syndrome is often a big factor determining if somebody will over-pronate.

Some people experience no pain from having flat feet. However, flat feet can cause misalignment elsewhere in the body, leading to other problems like back pain or joint impingement. The problems arising from misalignments in the body may include: plantar fasciitis (pain in the heel), Achilles tendonitis, knee pain, shin pain, low back pain, bunions, corns and calluses. The feet may also tire easily.

Flat feet (sometimes referred to as “fallen arches”) are not difficult to spot. It is a condition where there is either no arch or a very low arch to one or both feet. The inside of the foot is lifted off the ground in people with normal arches; whereas, someone with flat feet will have their entire foot flat on the ground. This can sometimes lead to over-pronation, in which the foot rolls over towards the inside.

Flat feet are somewhat common, with approximately 20% of the population having them. They can occur at any age, and are sometimes due to a congenital problem. In adults, it is often caused by a lack of physical activity, or can be a result of obesity.

Having flat feet can put a lot of stress on your ankles.  If your feet are subjected to repetitive micro-trauma, such as when walking or running on hard surfaces regularly, you can sustain damage to the posterior tibial tendon (PTT). This tendon is responsible for keeping the arch in position. Other conditions that can weaken this tendon are pregnancy, arthritis and trauma or foot fractures.

Many young children have what is called “flexible flat feet,” meaning that their feet are flat when standing, but if they rise up on their toes, the arch appears. These children will usually develop an arch as they grow into adulthood.

If flat feet cause no pain and there is no evidence of other problems being created, there is nothing to worry about.

If you are experiencing pain in your feet or other areas of your body that may stem from your flat feet, there are a few treatment options and recommendations.

First, although it may be a good idea to get special orthotics for your shoes for support, it is equally important for your feet to get exercise. If your feet are constantly supported by orthotics, the muscles supporting the arch will atrophy even further. When you are at home, try to go shoeless as often as possible. And, if you are lucky enough to live near a beach, walking on sand is one of the best workouts there are to strengthen your feet.

Also, avoid high-impact sports that may put a strain on your feet.

If you are a woman, do not wear high heels. Besides the stress on the ankles, high heels negate the effectiveness of the arches in the feet and put considerable stress on your lower back.

While you cannot change your anatomy, you can change the patterns of motion stemming from your muscles and joints. These parts of your anatomy are the powertrains and flexible glue of the body, that when functioning well, keep you moving energetically and feeling great. These are the areas where a chiropractor is skilled.

Misaligned bones can contribute to painful conditions. Sometimes bone misalignment is the reason for secondary pain in areas such as the knees, hips and lower back. We perform specific and pain-free adjustments to realign the bones and restore proper motion where it has become restricted and painful due to your flat feet or from something else. These adjustments strengthen your body frame. Get access to our complimentary foot, ankle and knee evaluation.