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Can Chiropractic Help Kids with Autism?

by Dr. Elizabeth Langer

With all of the "gimmicks" and "cures" out there, any "non-mainstream" treatment that promises to help kids with autism is subject to skepticism. And rightly so... As a mother of a child with autism, many people often recommend the latest "cure" for my daughter.

So does chiropractic care cure autism? No.

But can it help kids who are on the spectrum? Yes.

Please allow me to explain... I don't believe there is a "cure" for my daughter because I don't think that there is anything "wrong" with her. To me, she is perfect. It's not like she has some terrible, life-threatening disease that completely debilitates her. She just needs some extra support.

And chiropractic care has served as an incredible support ever since she was little.

Chiropractic adjustments offer a safe and natural way to manage pain. Kids, like adults, get hurt and experience physical pain. They play, run, jump, and fall. Everyday tasks, like carrying heavy book bags, can create problems in the neck and back. Kids with autism are no different. Musculoskeletal pain can even trigger certain behaviors and "meltdowns." Just because they can't tell that they hurt doesn't mean that they don't.

Chiropractic also helps to facilitate digestion. In my experience, kids with autism have sensitive tummies and often experience gas, cramping, constipation, or diarrhea. By gently stimulating the nervous system, restoring proper vertebral motion, and loosening tight muscles, chiropractic care can encourage normal peristalsis and relieve digestive discomfort.

One of the premises of a chiropractic adjustment is to stimulate the nervous system. Some kids with autism have problems with their nervous system.

In 2012, Kushki, Brian, Dupuis, and Anagnostou found that autism spectrum disorder is associated with autonomic dysregulation. A chiropractic adjustment directly affects the vertebral joints of the spine; therefore, it has the ability to directly affect the spinal cord and central nervous system. The balance to the central nervous system that a chiropractic adjustment provides, may overtime create more calm in children with autism.

When treating children, chiropractors will often modify their treatments and use more gentle techniques. A sign of a good chiropractor is one who will never pressure your child into doing something he or she doesn't want to do. And while all kids require patience, kids with autism may require just a little bit more. There is no rush and this should be a fun and relaxing event for both you and your child.

If you have any questions about how chiropractic can help your child, please feel free to contact us and we will be happy to talk with you.

Chiropractic Care

by Dr. Elizabeth Langer

Chiropractic care focuses on the health of the spine and its surrounding tissues by facilitating nerve conduction and circulation. This is accomplished by a corrective procedure called an adjustment, which is administered by a chiropractor. The purpose of an adjustment is to help the spine and other joints achieve maximum nerve conduction and circulation, proper alignment, range of motion, and optimal function. Chiropractic care uses no drugs and may or may not incorporate different therapies such as ultrasound or electrical stimulation.

Different Adjustment Techniques

There are many different ways an adjustment can be performed, and each chiropractor possesses their own unique style. One common method is the "diversified" method, or the osseous adjustment. This type of adjustment is the one most people associate with chiropractic care because it produces the "cracking" sound, or cavitation. A cavitation is the sound produced when trapped gas leaves a joint. Osseous adjustments take a joint to end-range and deliver a high-velocity/low-amplitude thrust. Though osseous adjustments may sound rough, these can be very gentle and relief is often felt immediately.

Another popular method of delivering an adjustment is with the use of an activator. An activator is a spring-loaded instrument which delivers an impulse to a vertebra or joint, stimulating nerve conduction. Though osseous adjustments are perfectly safe, the use of an activator involves no stress on the joints, discs, blood vessels, or bones. Activators are often used with patients who have osteoporosis, extremely high blood pressure, or are recovering from a stroke or surgery. You may prefer an activator simply because it is more comfortable or you don't like the sound that the cavitation produces. Many chiropractors have great results and administer adjustments with an activator.

A drop table is another tool which chiropractors can use for adjusting. Drop tables are specialized chiropractic tables which allow for adjustments to be lighter and more specific. The table has sections that elevate with a lever. The chiropractor positions you on the table, and set the tension to support your body weight and administer a light thrust to the joint. The speed of the table absorbs the impact of the force. Adjusting with drop tables work well for people with recent surgeries and disc problems. If you are extremely flexible, you may find having your low back and sacrum adjusted with a drop table more comfortable than an osseous adjustment.

There are other methods of adjusting patients as well, however in my practice, these are the three which I primarily use.

Muscle Work is an Important Part of Treatment

Strictly speaking, an adjustment is not when a chiropractor works on your muscle tissue. However, because muscles are attached to bones (i.e. vertebra), healing the surrounding muscular tissue is an important part of treatment.

When the muscles are loosened and the "knots" are worked out, adjustments are more effective, gentle, and specific. Sometimes the work performed on the muscle tissue can be more intense than the actual adjustment. However, muscles recover faster than joints and the less stress the joints have to bare, the more comfortable the adjustment.

Sometimes muscles are contracted for so long, it is difficult for them to remain in a relaxed state. They must then be re-educated so they learn not to "tighten up." This neuromuscular education allows the adjustments to hold for longer periods of time and achieves faster results.

Conditions Treated by Chiropractic Medicine

Chiropractic care is highly effective for relieving back and neck pain, but also treats a variety of ailments. It works with traumas due to sports-related injuries and motor vehicle accidents (whiplash). Chiropractic relieves headaches due to both tension and migraines and can also relieve symptoms of vertigo. It is also a  very effective means used to manage disc herniations, stenosis, and neuropathy.

Receiving chiropractic adjustments may also benefit internal conditions as well. Because the nerves and blood vessels are affected, chiropractic can strengthen the immune system and improve digestion and respiration. Adjustments can break up mucus, chiropractic medicine can be used to relieve cough and congestion. Symptoms of asthma and allergies are reduced.

Chiropractic medicine can also help treat gynecological complaints. By realigning the vertebrae and working with muscle tissue, pain and discomfort associated with menstruation can be alleviated. Pregnant women also find relief from the physiological changes which affect posture, spinal alignment, and fluid distribution (i.e. swollen ankles). The Webster Technique is a specific form of adjusting which assists in turning a baby in utero from a breech position into a healthy one.

How many times do I have to get treated?

Treatment duration varies upon your individual needs. Some people need to be treated about every four to six weeks, while others may require once a week. New patients and acute injuries may receive treatments grouped close together for the first week until adequate progress has been made. Chronic conditions, such as neuropathy, may require more treatments  before relief is felt. It depends on you and your condition.

It has been said that chiropractic medicine is both an art and a science. Though styles and procedures may vary from doctor to doctor, the positive impact that it can have on the body is amazing. Contact us today to find if chiropractic is right for you!

Acupuncture for Fibromyalgia Syndrome

by Dr. Elizabeth Langer

Fibromyalgia Syndrome

Fibromyalgia syndrome, or "fibromyalgia," is a disorder commonly associated with widespread pain throughout the body. However, there are many other accompanying symptoms, such as irritable bowel syndrome, difficulty with sleep, neurological pain, stress, and fatigue. Fibromyalgia is a “disease of exclusion,” meaning other illnesses must be ruled out before an official diagnosis can be made. This means that patients are subjected to a series of blood tests, urinalysis, and other various examinations and evaluations.

Though different treatment options are available, acupuncture is both gentle and effective in managing fibromyalgia.

How does Acupuncture Treat Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is usually treated based on symptoms. Many believe that fibromyalgia occurs when the nervous system overreacts to otherwise "normal" stimuli. Acupuncture calms the nervous system, allowing the body to better react to stimuli.

Acupuncture reduces the inflammation in people with fibromyalgia syndrome. It helps the body to metabolize excess water and better absorb nutrients from food. Acupuncture also improves circulation of the vascular system. Better circulation allows the body to receive more oxygen and other nutrients, improving function and decreasing pain.

Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture

In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), pain is a result of impaired Qi circulation. Acupuncture reduces pain because it regulates and restores the balance of energy in the body. Though reducing pain is a major component of any treatment, it is necessary to identify the underlying cause. With fibromyalgia, both the nature of the pain and the patient's constitution must be considered. In TCM, impaired Qi movement can be due to either an "excess" or a "deficient" condition.

In excess conditions, Qi is unable to move through the channels due to blockages. Pathogenic Qi, Blood, and Fluids accumulate, create friction, and cause pain. Acupuncture “breaks up” these blockages and encourages movement through the channels. Areas of stagnation and stasis commonly manifest in the form of inflammation, tight muscles, and “knots” or trigger points. Trigger points are bands of contracted muscle tissue. They often feel like nodules and are sensitive to touch and pressure.

In deficient conditions, the body is not producing enough Qi, or other vital substances, to function properly. Deficient conditions are manifested in symptoms of overall tenderness, aching, and fatigue.

Patients often present with both excess and deficiency symptoms. Treating the excess is relatively easy... Excess conditions can often (not always) be resolved in a few treatments. Treating pain related to a deficiency can be more complex. Treatments should be based on nourishment and boosting Qi. If treatments are too aggressive with a deficient condition, the patient can feel exhausted and run-down.

Can Acupuncture Cure Fibromyalgia Syndrome?

Unfortunately, there is no cure for fibromyalgia syndrome. Acupuncture helps to manage pain and reduce symptoms, but claiming that it "cures" fibromyalgia would be incorrect. However, relief is usually obtained in only a few visits. A treatment plan should be discussed with because symptoms will re-occur. Regular treatments will prevent flare-ups and reduce the intensity of the symptoms.

Treating fibromyalgia is all about balance. What works for one person may not work for another. A qualified health care provider should work with their patients to find the best treatment strategy possible.

Points to Consider

Spleen 21 (Dabao)

AKA the "fibromyalgia point," this acupuncture point is helps to alleviate aches and pains throughout the body. It is located on the mid-axillary line, between the sixth and seventh ribs.

Pericardium 6 (Neiguan)

An effective point for general pain relief. Pericardium 6 helps to relieve stress, nausea, and that feeling of tightness in the chest. It is located on the inside of the wrist, about two inches above the crease between the tendons of the palmaris longus and flexor radialis muscles.

Stomach 36 (Zusanli)

This acupuncture point has many benefits. In addition to giving the body a great energy boost, it can help to improve digestion, bloating, and benefits the muscles, ligaments, and tendon. It also helps for localized knee pain. Stomach 36 can also help coughing and asthma. It may even function to reduce stress. Plus, it has been shown to enhance the immune system of post-surgery rats with gastric carcinoma (Lai, Wang, Wang, Tang, Kong & Xu, 2008). It is located below the knee, between the fibular head and tibia, at the level of the tibial tuberosity.

Liver 3 (Taichong)

This point is located on the top of the foot in the depression between the first and second metatarsal bones. By soothing the Liver and coursing Qi throughout the body, Liver 3 is able to not only relieve pain, but it can also be used to calm stress, alleviate headaches, and benefit the eyes.

Hua Tuo Jia Ji Points

These are a series of 17 bilateral points located right next to the spinous processes. The spinous processes are the parts of the vertebra that are visible under the skin on the back. By stimulating these points, the nervous system is directly impacted. Since fibromyalgia is due to an overactive nervous system, utilizing the Hua Tuo Jia Ji points can have a dramatic effect on managing symptoms.


References

Lai, M., Wang, S., Wang, Y., Tang, C., Kong, L., & Xu, X. (2008). [Effects of electroacupuncture of "Zusanli" (ST 36), "Hegu" (LI 4) and/or "Sanyinjiao" (SP 9) on immunofunction in gastric carcinectomy rats]". Zhen Ci Yan Jiu, 4, 245-9. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=acupuncture stomach 36 white blood cells

Can Sciatica be Treated Without Drugs?

by Dr. Elizabeth Langer

Sciatica is form of peripheral neuropathy caused by irritation along the sciatic nerve. Pain may travel from the low back, into the gluteal region, and down past the knee. It is often described as sharp, burning, tingling, or numbness. Depending on the cause of sciatica, treatment and prognosis may vary.

The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in the body. It begins between the fourth and fifth vertebra in the lumbar spine, travels through the gluteal muscles and down the back of the thigh. After passing the knee, it divides into two nerves: the tibial and peroneal nerve. The tibial nerve travels down to the feet to the heel and sole of the foot. The peroneal nerve travels along the side of the leg to the upper surface of the foot.

Anything that compresses or irritates the sciatic nerve can create pain. Common causes of sciatica include herniated discs, degenerative joint disease, spinal stenosis, and osteoarthritis. Joint restrictions or misalignment of the lumbar vertebra or sacrum may also irritate the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve may become entrapped by a muscle, such as the piriformis. Serious conditions which may cause sciatia may include spondylolisthesis, fracture, or inflammation due to an underlying pathology. Hormonal changes, such as with pregnancy, may also create irritation of the sciatic nerve.

In addition to the pain, sciatica may create weakness in the muscles supplied by the nerve. The pain usually occurs in one leg and is irritated by prolonged sitting or standing. Pain may be relieved by lying down and light exercise, such as walking. Pain may increase after coughing, sneezing, or having a bowel movement.

To ensure an accurate diagnosis, an MRI, CT scan, or a bone scan may be recommended. Blood work and urinalysis may also be administered to rule out potential inflammatory conditions or kidney pathology.

Common Treatments

Depending on the cause of sciatica, treatment will vary. Common allopathic remedies include rest, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, steroid injections, painkillers. Surgery may even be prescribed.

Though these remedies are fine for short-term use, for long-term management, problems may ensue. Rest is necessary for many ailments. It promotes healing and allows the body to recover. However, too much rest can create stiff joints and muscles, contribute to poor posture, weight gain, and decrease energy - making sciatica symptoms worse. Pain medication can help to make it through the day and ensure a better nights rest. However, pain medications should only be used temporarily. NSAIDS can create digestive problems, gastrointestinal bleeding, difficulty breathing, and may be linked to stroke. Pain killers can cause symptoms such as nausea, constipation, and may facilitate addictions.

Surgery is only effective 50% of the time and should only be used as a last resort. The problem with surgery is that it can sometimes make the symptoms of sciatica even worse. Too often, patients come for acupuncture or chiropractic care expecting to be relieved from surgical complications, but it can be very difficult to repair damage after bones have been cut, ligaments and tendons torn, and metal objects have been implanted.

Other remedies may include exercise, physical therapy, acupuncture, and chiropractic care.

Acupuncture for Sciatica

Acupuncture is a gentle and powerful method for resolving sciatica. It stimulates the nervous system and helps to heal and repair damaged nerves. Acupuncture is especially effective to relieve the burning, sharp, and shooting pain associated with sciatica.

There are many different treatment options available when treating any type of nerve pain. Some practitioners find success when applying needles along the affected nerve, while others have better results when using points which are more distally located. It all depends on the practitioner and patient.

Some practitioners may use adjunct therapies in addition to needles such as electrical stimulation, moxabustion, Tui Na, and cupping.

Chiropractic and Sciatica

Chiropractic care mobilizes joints, loosens muscles, and takes pressure off of the sciatic nerve.  Not only does it help to correct improper posture and misalignments, it stimulates the nervous system, fights inflammation, and helps to ensure proper circulation.

Depending on the cause of sciatica, symptoms usually resolved within a few weeks. Often, a chiropractor will recommend other modalities such as ultrasound, exercise, or electrical stimulation. It is important that patients follow their treatment plans and stay active in order to ensure that their pain is resolved and their symptoms do not return.

Exercise and Physical Therapy for Sciatica

In many cases of sciatica, stretching and strengthening the muscles in the back and hamstrings can take the pressure off of the sciatica nerve. Practicing yoga can be a wonderful form of sciatica relief.  Yoga poses, or asanas, facilitate motion in the joints of the spine and loosen tight hips, hamstrings, gluteal, and piriformis muscles. 

Sometimes people need a little extra help and physical therapy can be the solution for people suffering with sciatica.  A good physical therapist can help to monitor the progress of the patient, show different exercises, and ensure proper alignment.  Some physical therapists may offer soothing modalities such as ultrasound, electrical stimulation, ice and heat.  A good physical therapist can help patients with their exercises on a regular basis and prevent injury from reoccurring. 

 

Complications and Warnings

Treatment for sciatica is affected by the existence of pre-existing conditions such as diabetes, cancer, and autoimmune disorders. Sometimes health care practitioners forget to take these matters into consideration and may be too quick to recommend surgery or addictive pain medication.

Though usually not dangerous, there are instances when the pain due to sciatica warrants immediate care. Inform your health care provider immediately if there is complete loss of sensation or the if the pain is unremitting. If pain is experienced after a fall or injury, or occurs with a a fever, go to the emergency room. A complete loss of bladder and bowel control may indicate cauda equina syndrome and should be evaluated immediately.

Sciatica is often treatable and conservative methods should always be attempted before using more invasive procedures. Acupuncture and chiropractic care are both powerful methods in resolving sciatica, but there are many natural options available. 

Does Acupressure Really Work?

It's no secret that DIY and home remedies are popular because they are convenient, cheap, and usually natural. And most of the home remedies that I seen are usually safe. My question is... Do they actually work?

Some do... and some don't.

And some remedies, like acupressure, depend on how you use them.

Acupressure is used in my practice when patients hate needles (i.e. kids) or are not able to tolerate acupuncture. Many times I will prescribe acupressure points for patients to do at home. In fact, you can find acupressure points on many reputable websites and YouTube channels, where they instruct you on acupressure. So, yes, I think acupressure works.

But if you don't understand it, or are doing acupressure for the wrong prescription, it might not. Sometimes, information on the internet might not be tailored to your specific needs. And sometimes, practitioners who don't understand acupuncture theory are prescribing acupressure points. In the end, the results are not the same if you would have had a better source.

Make sure that you are getting your acupressure prescription from someone who took the time to extensively study acupuncture, whether it's online or from a practitioner. They don't necessarily have to be an acupuncturist - some massage therapists have an AMAZING knowledge of TCM - but they should have taken the time to study acupuncture. Otherwise, this wonderful tool that can help you, might not work.

Cool it with the Diet this Summer!

Extreme summer heat can really be devastating to your body!  Overexposure to heat can cause dehydration, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke.  While it is important to follow the advice of the American Heart Association...  Did you know that the right foods can also keep you cool this summer?

When you apply the principles of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) to your diet, you can easily nourish your body when the temperatures reach their peak! TCM uses the energetic properties of foods to balance the body and mind, so we can feel healthy, pain-free, and joyful!

Fruits and Vegetables                                                                                                                                                    Take advantage of all the fresh produce this season! Summer is the best time to eat a colorful, heart-healthy meal! Fill your plate with green-leafy veggies such as kale, Swiss chard, and lettuce (not iceberg). Also include asparagus, alfalfa sprouts, celery, eggplant, spinach, tomatoes, kelp and seaweeds, mushrooms, and cucumbers in your diet.


If you are feeling slightly overheated, eating watermelon is probably one of the fasted ways to cool yoursel. Actually, all melons, such as cantaloupe and honey dew will help you to stay hydrated and reduce the heat. Other fruits include apples, bananas, pineapples, kiwi, strawberries, and lemons. While pears and oranges are cooling fruits, it is important to eat in season, and these two fruits are usually at their peak in the colder months.

Proteins                                                                                                                                                                                      Proteins are important for energy, muscle and nerve repair, hormone balance, and major chemical reactions in your body. Finding proteins that "cooling" by TCM standards can be a challenge. Mung beans are probably the most cooling protein that you could add to your diet this summer. Soy beans and tofu are also powerful sources that cool your body - make sure that you eat in moderation and from a source that's organic and non-GMO! Not a fan of beans... well, rabbit meat is also very cooling. Eggs are not only the "perfect protein," but can also help you reduce the intensity of the summer heat.

Grains                                                                                                                                                                                        Despite the "anti-carb" frenzy, grains are important, as they benefit nerve conduction, provide energy, and help to regulate cholesterol. The trick is to consume complex carbohydrates, as opposed refined carbohydrates (i.e. chips, sugar, white flour, cookies). Some yummy grains to try would be barley, buckwheat, millet, and wheat - not if you are gluten-free, of course!

Beverages                                                                                                                                                                                The most important beverage you can consume this summer is water!!!  You need to stay hydrated!  And if you get bored, try adding some fresh lemon, cucumber, or peppermint!  Some wonderful teas include peppermint tea, green tea, and chrysanthemum tea.  Chilled peppermint tea is one of my favorite ways to "beat the heat!" 

Don't forget...                                                                                                                                                                        TCM is all about balance! So if you want to eat a food that is "hot," like chicken, try combining it with a salad of fresh greens and tomatoes. Or if you absolutely have to have some ginger tea, try adding lemon! There are no hard and fast rules. And don't overdo it either! Eating too many cold and cooling foods can really upset your digestion! Gently focus on incorporating some of these foods into your diet and see how you feel!                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact me or schedule an appointment!

Self-Care and Spiritual Wellness for Those with Cancer

by Scott Sanders

 

Cancer is one of the most prevalent diseases in the United States and across the world. Data from 2010-2012 revealed that 39.6 percent of men and women will have a cancer diagnosis at some point during their lifetimes -- that’s four out of ten American adults. If you do get cancer, seek medical assistance from an oncologist and follow a treatment plan. However, there are also steps that you can take to care for yourself through your illness.

Addiction Prevention                                                                                                                                              

People who are diagnosed with cancer not only have to wrestle with its physical symptoms, but they also often combat prescription opioid addiction, as well. These prescriptions might include morphine, oxycodone, and hydrocodone. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has estimated that the nationwide cost from abusing prescription opioids could be as high as $78.5 billion. Take some precautions whenever you’re prescribed medicine. Talk to your doctor to make sure the dosage is safe and appropriate for your condition. Then have the same conversation with your pharmacist. Finally, if you ever feel sedated, as if you’re drifting through a fog, stop taking it and consult your oncologist.

Sleeping

People with cancer often say they don’t sleep well for a variety of reasons. Many medications keep you up at night. Plus, you’re wrestling with nausea, chronic pain, and frequently going to the bathroom. As such, it’s important to take steps to ensure you’re getting enough sleep. Take your medication on time every day. Unplug your iPad or iPhone, limit how much TV you watch, and give yourself permission to relax. Cut down on your sugar, alcohol, and nicotine intake, and go cold turkey on non-prescription drugs. If it helps, listen to classical music. Try to follow bedtime patterns that help you drift off, such as putting on a face mask, opening a window in the spring, or keeping a noise-machine going.

Eating

Proper nutrition is essential for everyone, but perhaps more so for people with cancer. Eating right stabilizes your metabolism, makes you feel stronger and more energetic, and reduces your risk of coming down with infections. So if you were mostly foraging on fast food and soda, switch up your diet. Fruits and veggies are a must. Go for proteins like nuts, eggs, low-fat yogurt, and lean meats like chicken and omega-3 fatty fish. Slash carbs, but don’t avoid whole grains found in flour, breads, and cereals. And, of course, drink water. Lots of water. About 60 percent of the human body is water, so it’s vital to keep replenishing it.

The Spiritual Side

For effective cancer treatment, nothing replaces going to the hospital and consulting with an oncologist. However, spiritual treatment also exists for cancer patients who want to focus on holistic healing rather than only attending to their physical symptoms. People who are given a cancer diagnosis confront their own mortality, and they often turn to spirituality for meaning. Spiritual treatment can help ease feelings of anger, anxiety, isolation, or hopelessness and lower your risk of committing or considering suicide. This is not a clinical or empirically tested treatment, but if it gives you a sense of inner peace, there’s no reason you shouldn’t explore it.

If you have been diagnosed with cancer, seek the expertise of an oncologist as soon as you can. Keep in mind that you are more than just your physical symptoms, so make sure you’re treating yourself right. Drink enough water. Sleep eight hours a night. Cut all the toxins and impurities out of your diet. You’ll feel better, which may help you recover faster.

 

Scott Sanders is the  Author and Creator of cancerwell.org

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