Tag: chiropractic

brain and chiropractic

Chiropractic: Building a Healthier Brain

Most people come to me for chiropractic care hoping I can improve their physical pain – in their back, neck or extremities. I never have anyone show up saying, “Doc, can you help make my brain feel better?” But maybe they should!

Thanks to some groundbreaking research in chiropractic, we now have solid scientific facts to explain how an adjustment changes the way the brain works. Chiropractic care can actually benefit the brain – and getting adjustments on regular basis may actually enhance your mental health and the general function of your brain. Who doesn’t want that side benefit?!

This revelation came about due to the work of Dr. Heidi Haavik, a chiropractor and a neurophysiologist who has worked in the area of human neurophysiology for over 15 years. Her research work has built the base of scientific evidence for the efficacy of chiropractic care in improving people’s health and wellbeing. She led a ground-breaking study into the influence on the brain after a spinal adjustment. From this came a book, titled A Reality Check: Cracking Chiropractic – and more research.

 

Haavik’s Original Study

In this 2015 study, Haavik included participants who were NOT in any pain and had never had any chiropractic care before. Participants were divided into two groups, with one receiving an adjustment with brain activity recorded. The other group did not receive an adjustment (although they were placed on an adjustment table) but did have brain activity recorded.

The brains from the group of participants receiving the adjustment showed stimulation of the prefrontal cortex – indicating that the adjustment had a direct influence on the sensory input to the brain. The brains from the other group showed no changes.

We already knew that a vertebral subluxation interferes with the messages between the spinal cord and brain with the joints and surrounding muscles. A chiropractic adjustment removes interferences to the nervous system and improves brain function. Haavik’s study scientifically shows that chiropractic when treatment reduces your pain, not only do you physically feel better but your brain function gets better right alongside your body.

This YouTube video explains Haavik’s study in a very easy-to-understand manner:

A Bit About Our Brains

Your brain and nervous system are in the driver’s seat when it comes to controlling every function and organ of your body: attention, balance and posture, breathing, heart rate, blood pressure, digestion, sexual function, hormone production, and thousands of other functions.
When something needs to be done, it’s the brain sending the signal through the nervous system to make things happen. If the spine is unhealthy, this hinders communication and the resulting performance.

Thus, when your brain and nervous system function well, the rest of your body functions well.

As we age, we unfortunately experience what’s called negative neuroplasticity. This means that our brain function declines – and we may experience things like:

• Memory loss
• Hearing or vision loss
• A weakened immune system
• Challenges in concentration
• More depressed moods
• And other symptoms

While many think about chiropractic treatments as primarily for pain relief, the real goal is to have a positive effect on the brain’s neuroplasticity. By removing the stressors through adjustments, we remove the interference to normal health and healing – and improve neuroplasticity. Research has born this out in multiple studies, including many conducted by Haavik.

RELATED: The Importance of Chiropractic for Stress Relief

 

Our Approach at Life Care

Dr. A and I both feel that through the chiropractic care we provide, we can help with both pain symptoms and enhancing brain function. Of course, we always want our patients to be relieved of pain…but it’s really complete wellness that we seek. Our goal is that after adjustments – and by removing the vertebral subluxation that is impacting your wellness – you’ll experience improvement in memory, ability to process and think, moods and much more!

Want to hear more about Dr. Haavik’s philosophy and findings? Check out this podcast with her.

 

Dr. Sharman

dry needling for pain

Dry Needling for Pain Relief: A New Tool for Your Pain Toolkit

Believing that needles can actually REDUCE one’s pain may sound far-fetched to some of you.

We don’t typically think of something we associate with getting shots as something that can reduce or remove our pain. However, dry needling is helping a lot of pain sufferers feel better – and we now offer this pain relief technique at Life Care!

With the addition of our new doctor of chiropractic, Dr. Betel Aklilu, we now have a practitioner experienced in dry needling. We sat down with Dr. A to get answers to the types of questions you might have about dry needling so we can educate our patients on the technique.

 

Dry needling explained

For starters, the needles are dry. The reason the needles are described as “dry” is that they do not involve injecting any type of medication into the skin. Thin, solid needles are inserted into the skin at the myofascial trigger points of muscles. Specifically, the needles penetrate the taut band of skeletal muscle located within a larger muscle group. The purpose of the needle placement is to create a relaxation response and increase range of motion within the muscle group.

Dr. A got interested in dry needling because she saw it as a simple, non-invasive yet effect way to improve pain.

“I had seen other providers use it to enhance healing of their patients, and I wanted to do the same. I have always been passionate about finding holistic, safe, effective treatments for treating pain. Dry needling is widespread in Europe and other parts of the world but it is still fairly underutilized in the United States. Dry needling therapy treats soft tissue (muscle, tendon, ligament) dysfunction and has proven remarkably effective in treating a vast number of myofascial syndromes,” shared Dr. A.

The needles used to perform dry needling are similar to acupuncture needles – but be clear, dry needling is very different than acupuncture. Acupuncturists insert needles to release endorphins and affect the nervous system, aligning a person’s “chi” or healing energy. Dry needling is really about muscles – and relieving the tightness and pain with needle placement.

“This therapy is based on palpatory findings and an understanding of anatomy, physiology, and neurology. Thus, it is a separate system of healing unrelated to the laws and philosophy of acupuncture,” said Dr. A.

 

Good candidates for dry needling

Certain pain conditions respond better to dry needling than others. Practitioners believe dry needling can be effective for the following conditions:

  • Neck, back and shoulder pain (i.e., whiplash, frozen shoulder)
  • Arm pain, such as tennis elbow
  • Migraine and tension headaches
  • Hip, buttock and leg pain (i.e., sciatica)
  • Muscle spasms

Dry needle therapy cannot be done on areas of open wounds or over a pacemaker. It is not recommended during high-risk pregnancies or for patients with needle phobias or genetic bleeding disorders.

 

Reasons to try dry needling

For starters, it has proven to decrease pain in folks who are candidates for the technique. Dr. A believes in trying it as a part of a patient’s overall treatment plan.

“When dry needle therapy is coupled with chiropractic adjustments, patients feel relief faster and their adjustments typically hold longer because we have impacted both the musculoskeletal and nervous system,” she said.

RELATED: Every New Chiropractic Patient Needs to Know This

By releasing the tightness in muscles, patients can move more freely and experience increased mobility. Dr. A, like Dr. Sharman, is always in favor of getting patients back into the activities they love as quickly as possible. Dry needling can assist in speeding up this process.

Another reason to try dry needling is that the side effects are minimal and very short term. Any achiness or fatigue from treatment only lasts about 24 hours.

As well, patients become less reliant on medication for pain control. For people looking for more natural pain solutions, dry needling should be a part of their toolkit.

Finally, dry needling is very cost-effective when you compare it to surgery or long-term medication use.

Dr. A generally asks patients to have dry needling done two to five times in span of two weeks. However, this varies depending on the patient’s condition, and Dr. A cautions that relief is not always immediate. Like any therapy, it can take time to bring about the pain relief a patient is seeking.

 

Is dry needling for you?

It may be. At Life Care, we’ll start with getting an accurate diagnosis for your pain condition – and see if dry needling is recommended as a part of your PAIN TOOLKIT. It won’t be for everyone, but we are thrilled that, thanks to Dr. A, we now have this as an option in our holistic approach to healing. Be sure to reach out if you want to learn more – or schedule a diagnostic appointment with Dr. A.

 

Dr. Sharman