American College of Physicians list Acupuncture as top Treatment for Back Pain

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Here are some excerpts from this week’s Wall Street Journal article explaining the latest recommendations from the American College of Physicians on the treatment of Back Pain.  They list Acupuncture as the top choice for both acute and chronic back pain.

Skip the meds. Lower back pain—one of the most common reasons for a doctor’s visit—is best treated with alternative therapies, say new guidelines from the American College of Physicians. About 80% of adults experience low back pain at some point in their lifetimes and it is the most common cause of job-related disability and a leading contributor to missed work days.

The new guidelines could influence how doctors treat patients with complaints of back pain. They are an update from 2007’s and include a review of more than 150 studies. Recommendations were broken down into acute lower back pain, which is pain lasting less than 12 weeks, and chronic pain, which is pain lasting more than 12 weeks.

For acute pain, the guidelines recommend nondrug therapies first, such as applying heat, massage, acupuncture or spinal manipulation, which is often done by a chiropractor.

For chronic back pain, the guidelines recommend patients also first try nondrug therapies, such as acupuncture, exercise, rehabilitation therapy and mindfulness-based stress reduction.

The reviews focused on improving pain and function If such treatments fail to provide relief, the ACP says NSAIDS should be the first medicine that is used. The third line of treatment should be duloxetine—sold under the brand name Cymbalta and commonly used to treat depression and anxiety—or tramadol, an opioid-like narcotic which is less potent than standard opioids such as oxycodone or fentanyl—but can still cause physical dependence.

Opioids—one of the most commonly prescribed medications for pain relief and a source of increasing addiction and death—should only be considered for chronic back pain when other alternatives—natural and prescription—don’t work, say the guidelines published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. The new guidelines warn that opioids should only be considered an option if the doctor and patient have a discussion about the known risks of the drugs, and if used at the lowest possible dose for the shortest period. Experts believe that opioid prescriptions for pain is a common gateway to opioid addiction as well as transitioning to heroin, said Steven Atlas, director of practice-based research at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Even acetaminophen, which includes the brand name Tylenol, is no longer recommended for acute lower back pain relief due to a 2014 study in the journal The Lancet that showed it was no more effective than placebo.

Pain can begin abruptly as a result of an accident or by lifting something heavy. More often, though, it develops over time due to age-related changes of the spine and disc degeneration.  Most back pain occurs between ages 30 and 50. Individuals who gain weight and don’t exercise have increased risk, as are those who exercise intensely after long periods of not exercising.

If you are in Orlando and have Back Problems call our clinic for a Free Consultation appointment at our Winter Park office to see if Acupuncture can help you!  If you live outside of Central Florida feel free to call us for a referral in your local area.

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Acupuncture Treats Rheumatoid Arthritis

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While preparing a presentation for the annual Juvenile Arthritis conference, I came across a great article by the Arthritis Foundation called, Can Acupuncture help Relieve RA?  The article presents the results of several research studies that show that acupuncture does indeed help to relieve the pain of Rheumatoid Arthritis as well as Osteoarthritis.  The article details acupuncture effects to reduce pain in both the central nervous system (the brain), as well as the peripheral nervous system (the rest of the body, including the joints).

The article not only explains the particulars of how acupuncture relieves arthritis pain, but it also explains how acupuncture has been shown to lower chemical markers of chronic inflammation. One such marker that was reduced in the acupuncture group in the study is called TNF-α. This research suggests that acupuncture has the potential to slow down the progression of the disease.  Dr. Nathan Wei, MD, director of the Arthritis Treatment Center in Frederick, MD. explains. “In particular, TNF-α appears to play a pivotal role in the chronic inflammation and joint destruction that characterizes RA. That’s why so many of the biologic medications such as Enbrel, Humira, and  Remicade target TNF-α.

The article goes on to cite other studies where acupuncture has been shown to reduce other markers of inflammation.  It also mentions a very interesting statistic. In a 2010 Mayo Clinic survey, 54 percent of rheumatologists said they would recommend acupuncture as an adjunct treatment.

The article quotes Jamie Starkey, LAc, the lead acupuncturist for the Center for Integrative Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, and Jeffrey I. Gold, PhD, director of the Pediatric Pain Management Clinic at a Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles who treats patients with juvenile arthritis.  It gives people a real idea about the process of acupuncture treatment.  It is not a onetime thing.  It takes a series of treatments to get good results, but the success rate they report is about 80%, which is very similar to what we see in our clinic, Orlando Acupuncture.

If you know someone, young or old, who is suffering from arthritis please share this blog post with them and encourage them to talk to an acupuncturist to see if acupuncture might help them.

To learn more about our clinic, Orlando Acupuncture , please visit our website. You can also give us a call for a Free Consultation to see if we can help.

The Truth About Inflammation

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Are you dealing with pain, obesity, ADD/ADHD, peripheral neuropathy, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, migraines, thyroid issues, dental issues, or cancer? If so, then you are dealing with inflammation in the body. Inflammation affects every aspect of the body and is the leading cause of many diseases.

Now, inflammation alone isn’t a bad thing. It serves a purpose when you sprain your ankle or get a cut on the skin. It is the bodies natural way of defending itself. So, what are we doing that is causing it to always be in defense mode? Well, the majority of inflammatory diseases start in the gut with an autoimmune reaction which progresses into systemic inflammation. The gut is made up of an incredibly large and intricate semi-permeable lining. Every time we eat something we are bringing the outside world of toxins, viruses, yeast, and bacteria into the body. If our gut lining is damaged (this is known as Leaky Gut Syndrome ) these particles pass through that lining and end up in the blood stream. Because these particles do not belong in the blood stream your body views them as foreign invaders and starts to attack them. Your body then responds with inflammation, allergic reactions, and other symptoms that are related to a variety of diseases.

This will then cause your immune system to become overburdened, and these inflammatory triggers are cycled continuously through your blood where they affect nerves, organs, connective tissues, joints, and muscles. You can probably begin to see how diseases develop.

To truly be effective at managing or hopefully overcome a disease it needs to be addressed on all levels. Taking a look at where this process starts is the key. However, most doctors are utilizing pharmaceuticals in lieu of getting to the root cause.

Since inflammation is commonly mediated by the gut it is a logical starting point in the evaluation process of any patient. There are seven common areas that should be considered when looking at causes of leaky gut which create the environment for chronic inflammation. They are listed below along with key triggers within the category of evaluation:

  • Diet: Alcohol, Gluten, Casein, Processed Foods, Sugar, Fast Food
  • Medications: Corticosteroids, Antibiotics, Antacids, Xenobiotics
  • Infections: Such as Yeast or Bacterial Overgrowth       (Candidiasis) or Viral or Parasite Infections
  • Stress: Increased Cortisol, Increased Catecholamines
  • Hormonal: Thyroid, Progesterone, Estradiol, Testosterone
  • Neurological: Brain Trauma, Stroke, Neuro-degeneration
  • Metabolic: Glycosylated End Products (inflammatory end products of sugar metabolism), Intestinal Inflammation, Autoimmune

The truth of the situation here is that FOOD MATTERS. That’s right, it’s not just a movie (which by the way you should all watch!). Hyper-permeability of the gut, regardless of whether you can feel it or not, is often a significant cause of an extremely long and ever growing list of conditions. The inflammatory cascade that takes place by any inflammatory trigger (diet, medications, infections, stress, hormonal, neurological, or metabolic) can break down the intestinal permeability and allows for the leaky gut mechanism to initiate.

Inflammation is rampant. In fact the research says that 1 in 12 women and 1 in 24 men are dealing with full blown autoimmune mediated inflammation. The number of undiagnosed people is going to be much higher.

If you are dealing with inflammation then you should get a comprehensive evaluation to look at what is perpetuating your personal inflammation. Here are three things to start paying attention to:

  1. Lifestyle: Remove adverse mechanisms (Stress, over-exercising, poor Sleep, blood sugar dysregulation, poor social behaviors.) Lifestyle factors are huge! The stress response triggers immune markers which is the fast track to Autoimmunity.
  2. Lifestyle: Restore beneficial mechanisms: Create conditions of love and appreciation, keep positive attitudes, maintain proper exercise, have adequate sleep, receive acupuncture for stress relief, restore blood sugar balance, and facilitate healthy social interactions.
  3. Dietary Support: Stabilize blood sugar, remove food Autoimmune triggers, and promote intestinal integrity with proper flora and nitric oxide and glutathione pathways. Include fermented foods and supplement appropriately as may be needed.

Remember, a wide array of health problems, including but not limited to: chronic pain, obesity, ADD/ADHD, peripheral neuropathy, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, migraines, thyroid issues, dental issues, and cancer are all rooted in inflammation, which must be properly addressed if you wish to be healed.

FDA issues warning about common pain injections. What you need to know.

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One of the most popular treatments for neck, back, and joint pains —steroid injections—can be dangerous, and in rare cases can cause paralysis and death according to a warning issued by the FDA  in April, 2014.  Considering that approximately 4 in 10, or 75 million, Americans live with chronic pain (back pain, arthritis, joint pain, tendonitis, shoulder pain, nerve pain, overuse injuries etc) this warning should be big news, but few people know about the risks of these treatments.

The FDA is late to the game when it comes to concern about the safety of the shots when they’re injected into the spine. In other parts of the world tougher restrictions on the use of corticosteroids in the neck and back are already on labels. Patient advocates and researchers who have identified safety concerns with the injections have been pushing the FDA for years to take action.

As early as 2007, a survey of doctors in the journal Spine uncovered 78 cases of patients who received steroid injections in the neck suffering serious injuries, including 13 deaths. In other cases, the injections have been linked to loss of vision or paralysis in patients. The agency said in late 2011 that it was studying safety issues related to the shots and yesterday indicated it first became concerned in 2009. Yet it took five years to issue the 322-word warning.

Sandy Walsh, an FDA spokeswoman, said that the warning is the result of an ongoing effort to understand the causes of “serious neurologic events” with the injections and identify ways to minimize them.  Dennis Capolongo, a patient advocate who has been pushing for more aggressive restrictions on the steroids, said while the warning from the FDA is appreciated, it is too mild and comes too late. Doctors in the U.S. administer about 9 million epidural injections a year. “Many people have been harmed in the interim,” he said of the years the FDA has been studying the issue. Capolongo said organizations representing patients who have suffered serious side effects from the shots are pushing the FDA to require labels on the steroids indicating they should not be used at all for epidural injections.  The agency is also convening an advisory committee of experts to determine if further action is needed.

The FDA action also highlights a harsh reality. Conventional treatments for back, neck, and joint pains remain an imperfect science. Steroid injections and prescription medications provide mostly temporary benefits, and bring risks.  Surgeries, like spinal fusion, are more invasive, and don’t always work.

Alternative options such as Acupuncture and Biopuncture offer significant results with fewer side effects.

Be sure to leave thoughts, questions, and comments below!

Hidden Health Risks in Beauty Products

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Europe’s regulatory system bans close to 1,400 ingredients in cosmetic products, including carcinogens like parabens and toxic chemicals that can cause reproductive and developmental-health risks. The United States bans 11. Here are the top few on the watch list from Consumer Reports, found in their publication, ShopSmart.

  • Formaldehyde releasers and 1,4 dioxane, both possible carcinogens, may be found in some anti-wrinkle creams, mascaras, makeup removers, hair conditioners and body washes. They can contain preservatives that release formaldehyde over time when mixed with water. Avoid products with quaternium-15 and DMDM hydantoin listed as ingredients.
  • Phthalates. Diethyl phthalate (DEP), which is found in fragrance, and dibutyl phthalate (DBP), a plasticizer in nail polish, have both been deemed toxic by the Federal Hazardous Substances Act. Steer clear of products with ingredients lists that include the word “fragrance,” and look for nail polishes that do not have DEP or DBP in the ingredients lists.
  • Triclosan and Triclocarban. Found in hand and body washes, deodorants, toothpastes, and some cosmetics, these antibacterial agents can affect reproductive growth and developmental systems. Choose products that do not list triclosan or triclocarban on their ingredients list.

 

Solution: Lisa Freeman, the editor of Consumer Report’s ShopSmart Magazine, says the easiest way to avoid phthalates, formaldehyde, nanomaterials and other potentially harmful chemicals is to shop for health and beauty aids at Whole Foods Market.Toxic Chemicals

Meaningful Labels

The terms “natural,” “dermatologist tested,” and “hypoallergenic” aren’t meaningful because they aren’t independently verified. Below are some examples of terms and seals that are legit according to ShopSmart’s safety experts:

  • USDA Organic. Requires that at least 95 percent of the ingredients be organically grown and prohibits the use of all potentially harmful synthetic ingredients.
  • Natural Products Association Certified (NPA) and Design for the Environment (DfE).Standards include bans on triclosan, phthalates, formaldehyde, and formaldehyde releasers.
  • Non-GMO Project Verified. The product contains no genetically engineered ingredients. 

Beauty Product Shopping Apps

When shopping for beauty products, ShopSmart recommends using these free apps to evaluate ingredients and help narrow down choices: Think Dirty, Skin Deep Cosmetics, and GoodGuide.

 

Sources: http://www.courant.com/business/connecticut/hc-bottom-line-cosmetics-hazards-20140721,0,7142273.column – The Courrant – 7/21/14, http://pressroom.consumerreports.org/pressroom/2014/07/my-entry-2.html – Consumer Reports – 7/15/14

Poor Posture May Lead to Lack of Confidence and Additional Stress

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What can cause poor posture?

Cell Phones: The hunched-over position of the typical electronic-device user is of particular concern, and is sparking new back and neck-pain problems in teenagers. A study of 6,000 Finnish adolescents found frequent use of computers, mobile phones, videogame players and television was associated with greater rates of neck and lower-back pain.

Weight & Shoes – Lordosis, or swayback, is where the lower spine curves inward, toward the front of the body, and the butt is thrust backward. Overweight people often display this posture, as do women wearing high heels.

Computers: One of the most common posture problems, called kyphosis, is a direct result of spending too much time in front of a computer, experts say. The shoulders hunch forward, the pectoral muscles in the chest tighten, the neck and head extend toward the computer screen, and the spine is no longer vertically aligned.

What is proper posture?

Good posture doesn’t just mean standing with the shoulders thrown back. More important is maintaining good alignment, with ears over the shoulders, shoulders over hips, and hips over the knees and ankles. Body weight should be distributed evenly between the feet

What can poor posture cause?

Pain – incorrect posture will place additional strain on all parts of your body, particularly on your lower back and neck. If you keep correct posture, you will be protecting your spine, organs, joints, muscles and bones, helping to prevent the onset of conditions such as arthritis.

Depression – New research is also demonstrating links between body position and mood. It has long been known that depression can lead to a slumped posture. But new evidence suggests the reverse is also true—that slouching can spark negative emotions and thoughts

How does poor posture lead to stress?

Bad posture restricts breathing, and reduces the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain. Without regular oxygen to the brain, you cannot always think straight, making it easier to feel panicked or overwhelmed.

Can good posture lead to more self confidence?

This picture from the Washington post illustrates what happens to our spine when we type on a keyboard and stare at a computer. Along the bottom are exercises you can do to improve posture

Sitting - Washington Post

Top: X-ray illustration of the effects on the spine from prolonged sitting. Middle: Illustration of proper way to sit in a chair. Bottom: Exercises used to help improve posture

 

Sitting 2

Woman in pain after a long day of sitting at a workstation

Yes, no matter what you feel inside, if you stand tall, the feelings will likely follow. Just as the simple act of smiling can release serotonin even when you are depressed posture can trigger a better mental attitude. You might even enter a positive feedback loop, where other people respond to you in such a way as to confirm these initially faked emotions. Also note that an erect posture inspires a sense of power, a sense of control, boosts testosterone, and sooths nerves by turning down the anxiety-linked hormone known as cortisol.

Sources: Wall Street Journal Article June 23, 2014 http://online.wsj.com/articles/how-bad-sitting-posture-at-work-leads-to-bad-standing-posture-all-the-time-1403564767, Psychology Today Article June 19, 2013 http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-winner-effect/201306/can-your-posture-make-you-feel-in-control-and-less-stressed How Good Posture can Relieve Stress, Above Stress.com, February 9, 2012, http://abovestress.com/stress-relief-community-what-good-posture-can-do-for-stress-levels.html, Spine and Health.com, August 6, 2012 – http://spineandhealth.com.au/is-your-stress-giving-you-bad-posture  

Acupuncture keeps Pitchers in the game

Acupuncture Pitcher
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As acupuncture becomes more mainstream even the Texas Rangers are going with acupuncture to keep pitcher Yu Darvish in the lineup. Davish was Scratched from baseball due to neck pain and stiffness, but he used acupuncture to get back on the mound. There is plenty of research that explains why acupuncture is so popular among professional athletes. A study of 60 patients with cervical spondylosis responded with a 98.3% total effective rate as a result of acupuncture treatment. A total of 43 of the 60 patients were completely cured. Another 16 patients demonstrated significant improvement. The researchers concluded that acupuncture is effective for the treatment of cervical spondylosis and is both “reliable” and “worthy of promotion.”

Acupuncture has been found to improve muscle mass. Research demonstrates that acupuncture “recovered the skeletal muscle mass” and “ameliorated skeletal muscle atrophy by affecting mRNA” Texas Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish is following a time honored sports tradition and is staying ahead of the competition by using the most appropriate medicine possible to keep his arm in shape. He is not the only pitcher to get the acupuncture advantage.

A.J. Burnett waited to sign with the New York Yankees until they agreed to hire a team acupuncturist. Burnett knows how to protect an investment – his arm! He went from from one of baseball’s most injury-plagued players into one of its most reliable, a drastic change he attributes to his use of acupuncture. On a pitching staff that featured renowned grinders such as CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte, Burnett was the only member of the Yankees rotation who didn’t miss a single inning to injury. “I found that I responded really well to the acupuncture, how that treated my body and my nerves, and the release of stress,” Burnett said.

San Francisco Giants pitcher Randy Johnson had one of the longest baseball careers in history and received acupuncture from the team acupuncturist. Morten Anderson, former field goal kicker for the Atlanta Falcons, received two acupuncture treatments per week as part of his ongoing healthcare program. He retired from professional football at age 48 as the NFL’s leading scorer. How many people can last that long in the NFL? Acupuncture helped to maintain the integrity of his priceless foot.

Gymnast Nastia Liukin took home a gymnastics women’s all-around Olympic gold medal after using acupuncture for the treatment of an ankle injury. Other athletes using acupuncture during their professional careers include: Joe Montana, Michael Strahan, Dwayne Wade, Shaquille O’Neal, Jason Kidd, Vladimir Radmonovic, Fred Couples, Gary Player, Kevin Johnson, Steve Nash, Charles Barkley, Hot Rod Williams, Jeff Hornacek and Grant Hill.

Want to learn more about Acupuncture, Chinese Medicine, Health, or Natural Pain Relief in Orlando? Check out our website: OrlandoAcupuncture.com

Sources: India Song-Jie. “Analysis acupuncture shoulder and neck muscles to treating the starting and ending point.” Clinical research 6 (2014).
Li. “Vertebral artery type cervical spondylosis clinical observation 60 cases electro-acupuncture treatment.” TCM Clinical Research 7 (2014).
Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications. Volume 410, Issue 3, 8 July 2011, Pages 434–439. Acupuncture ameliorated skeletal muscle atrophy induced by hindlimb suspension in mice. A. Ondaa, et al
http://www.healthcmi.com/Acupuncture-Continuing-Education-News/1319-texas-rangers-back-with-acupuncture#sthash.2ohOepFi.dpuf
http://www.nj.com/yankees/index.ssf/2010/05/yankees_starter_aj_burnett_cre.html