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Bladder infection or no bladder infection

chiro bladderInterestingly, in the past year I have seen a few female patients that have mentioned ongoing bladder infection-type symptoms, but there was no bladder infection. In all the cases, urine tests were negative for infection, and a few were given antibiotics which did not make a difference to their symptoms. This doesn’t really make sense in the medical world. According to symptoms it seems like an infection but it doesn’t test as one and doesn’t respond like one. In these cases they were all women who had had children. Some had noticed these symptoms on and off since childbirth, while others many years after childbirth.

What I found was that they all responded well, (although some faster than others) to an adjustment to their bladder. An organ adjustment might sound strange but it is literally getting the organ to move slightly within the body cavity to a better position. Our organs are held in place by a type of skin that connects between all our organs. Sometimes for different reasons, such as surgery, the strain of pregnancy or giving birth, or accidents the organs can be jarred, twisted or pushed out of position and the skin that holds them in place may tighten and end up holding them in that new incorrect position. This can cause a sense of tension in the body, or it can cause some changes to the organs ability to function ideally, for example if the Large Intestine is affected it may lead to constipation.

In this case I found there was a downward pressure of the bladder onto the urethra which is the tube that carries urine from the bladder on urination. This pressure caused irritation to the bladder and urethra and hence resulted in infection type sensation. In one case the symptoms would return slightly whenever she lifted something heavy, so again this would create downward pressure in the abdominal cavity and therefore affect the bladder again.

Organ adjustments is a Chiropractic technique that can be used for many different symptoms. It is often used in addition to other adjustments or muscle releases. It may be used for digestive issues such as diarrhea or constipation or indigestion. It can also be useful for areas of pain or tightness such as in the ribs or throat. It is a technique that is also very helpful for ongoing tension or pulling sensations following surgery, as you may need some adjusting simply due to the invasive nature of surgery or to break up scar tissue as a result of surgery.

 

Sleep peacefully with Oriental Medicine

acupuncture oriental sleepHow did you sleep last night? Could have been better? If you are rubbing your eyes while reading this and trying to counteract the effects of insomnia with coffee, you are not alone. Almost one in four of us has trouble sleeping on a regular basis.

Much has been said about modern life eating into our sleep. In Victorian times, before the electric light bulb, adults generally slept 9-10 hours per night. Ancient Chinese texts describe the idea of the body being governed by a 24-hour clock, with each of the 12 main meridians responsible for a 2-hour segment of the clock. For the body to function at its best, with all meridian pathways and associated organs working smoothly, it is advised to be in deep sleep by 11pm, so to go to bed between 9 and 10pm, and to rise between 5 and 7am. But with today’s long and irregular working hours and access to electronic devices that stimulate the brain instead of winding us down, many of us would struggle to follow these guidelines.

We now know that chronic (long-term) sleep deprivation has a host of health consequences. It plays havoc with your hormonal and metabolic regulation, contributing to weight gain, elevated stress hormones, and raised blood pressure. If you aren’t sleeping well, you are also more likely to struggle to concentrate, have accidents at work or while driving, and to suffer from depression.

If insomnia has been a long-term issue for you, you will probably have tried a lot of the self-help strategies recommended. Even so, it’s worth reading through the list at the end of this article to see if there are ways you could tweak your lifestyle to help promote sleep.

Various medications are available for insomnia, but most have side-effects you’d probably rather be without, like feeling groggy in the day. And for some classes of these drugs, long-term dependence is a real issue. So the ideal approach (in combination with lifestyle changes, of course) is one that’s natural and doesn’t have troublesome side effects.

That’s where Oriental medicine (the combination of acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine) come in. This has a long history of use for insomnia. There are several Oriental medicine patterns associated with insomnia, and we work out which is responsible by taking a detailed history of your sleep issues and other aspects of your health, examining your pulse, tongue and abdomen and putting all the information together.

Treatments focus on calming the mind, using a combination of points throughout the body. I use the gentle Japanese style of needling, which inserts very fine needles very shallowly, so is suitable for even the most needle-phobic. Generally, 4-6 weekly sessions will give us a good idea of your response to treatment. After a few sessions, herbal support is often introduced as the frequency of acupuncture treatments is dropped.

There has been quite a bit of research done on acupuncture and sleep, although the quality of the research could be better.

One recent research trial looked at the effect of acupuncture on insomnia, focussing on quality of sleep. This trial was small (180 patients) but had a great design, comparing true acupuncture (points selected to treat insomnia) with sham acupuncture (points that don’t actually treat insomnia) and a commonly used sedative as control measures. This was done to make sure that any effect of the acupuncture treatment was not just due to being paid attention by the practitioner, or relaxing in the treatment room, or some other aspect of the treatment not actually related to needling specific acupuncture points.

After 6 weeks of treatment, those in the true acupuncture group rated their sleep quality as better than those in the sham acupuncture or sedative groups. They also reported less drowsiness and more energy in the daytime (in contrast to those on the sedative, who felt worse during the day even though their sleep improved). These improvements were maintained 2 months after the end of the treatment period.

Another couple of small trials looked at how acupuncture (or in one case, acupressure) works to help you sleep. They found that acupuncture or acupressure tended to normalise the levels of melatonin, a hormone produced by the pineal gland in the brain that regulates the sleep-wake cycle. This is very intriguing; and hopefully larger studies will explore this area in the future to verify the results.

The bottom line? Acupuncture can be a long-lasting remedy for insomnia, giving you better sleep quality without that hung-over feeling from sedatives.

 

Some tips to help you sleep.

  • Avoid caffeine after 4pm, or noon if you are sensitive to it. Remember that chocolate and green tea also contain small amounts of caffeine that can be too stimulating for some people. Many “energy drinks” contain a lot of caffeine too.
  • Try to get up at around the same time each day and go to bed at the same time each night. This gets your body into a regular pattern, so that the sleep hormone, melatonin, is being produced right when it’s needed.
  • Aim for a short walk in sunlight (about 20 mins without sunglasses if you can tolerate it) first thing in the morning. A surge in melatonin (which promotes sleepiness) happens about 12 hours after this first exposure to sunlight, so this is another measure that can help reset your sleep clock.
  • For at least an hour before bed, limit your use of TV, internet, mobile phones and other electronic devices, which tend to stimulate the brain. For some people who are sensitive, 2 hours may be better.
  • If you can’t sleep after 30 mins, go and do something that’s not very interesting for 10-20 mins in low light, then try again. Avoid TV etc, for the reasons given above.
  • Acupressure (applying pressure to acupuncture points) can help. Run your fingers outwards from the back of the neck at the base of the skull, till you reach a sore point behind the ear (but still under the skull). This is the An Mian (peaceful sleep point). Massage this area with firm pressure. The other point to apply pressure to is Kidney 1, which is on the sole of the foot, about 1/3 of the way down from where the toes join the sole of the foot. When you bend your foot downwards, you can feel a depression here, which may also feel quite tender.

 

Acupuncture and Later Pregnancy & Birth Preparation

Sacupuncture and pregnancyo you’re counting down the months (or even weeks or days) till you can meet the newest member of your family. This time should be all about nesting and preparing, but that’s hard to do if you are feeling exhausted by some of the conditions that can arise in late pregnancy. When these problems are severe, they can really detract from the experience of being pregnant. Issues that tend to flare up at this stage of the pregnancy include:

  • Swollen ankles, fingers and wrists (can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome)
  • Iron-deficiency anaemia
  • Indigestion, acid reflux
  • Varicose veins
  • Haemorrhoids
  • Back pain, sciatica, as baby’s head presses on the nerves exiting the spinal column
  • Pubic symphysitis
  • Insomnia

 

Easing late pregnancy complaints with Acupuncture.

Thankfully, most of these issues tend to respond well to Acupuncture. You’ve probably already heard of the benefits of Acupuncture in back pain and sciatica, as well as aches and pains like carpal tunnel syndrome. I also use specific Acupuncture points to reduce water retention and aid fluid metabolism, improve indigestion, and ease the discomfort associated with swollen veins and haemorrhoids. Other points can help you sleep or to help nourish the blood (to combat anaemia). These are combined with points selected for your individual constitution and any other symptoms you might be experiencing. The overall result is a very relaxing experience that should help settle your discomfort and support you as your pregnancy advances.

I find that with some of these conditions, especially pubic symphysitis, but also back pain and sciatica, the best results are achieved with a combination of Acupuncture and Chiropractic.

Other issues in late pregnancy that are less common include:

  • Breech baby (head-up rather than the normal head-down position), and other positions not ideal for labour, such as posterior.
  • High blood pressure (pregnancy-induced hypertension or pre-eclampsia),
  • High blood sugar levels (gestational diabetes)
  • Complications of pregnancy like a low-lying placenta (placenta praevia).

Let’s look at how Acupuncture can help these complications.

 

Breech and other positions not ideal for labour.

If your baby is in breech position, its bottom or feet would be delivered first if you went into labour. Some obstetricians are confident in delivering breech babies. But because complications can occur, most will attempt to physically turn the baby (external cephalic version) if this is possible. If it doesn’t work, the usual advice is to have a Caesarean section, but this is not without its risks and complications. Apart from issues with labour, a prolonged period in some types of breech position can also lead to problems with baby’s hips after birth.

Luckily, there is an alternative. At around 33-34 weeks, Acupuncturists use a specific point on the big toe, which is not needled but instead heated with moxa (a processed form of the herb Artemisia or Mugwort). You continue this treatment at home for 1-2 weeks. The moxibustion stimulates fetal movement, encouraging the baby to move itself into the normal head-down position. This form of treatment has been evaluated by research — it led to the baby turning in about 75% of cases (as a comparison, less than 50% of babies turned by themselves in women who did not have moxibustion treatment). No harmful effects were noted. There is another advantage of this approach. Because we are intervening relatively early in the pregnancy (compared with an external cephalic version at 37-38 weeks), if the moxibustion is successful, the baby is in the breech position for a shorter period, so we’d anticipate less chance of damage to the hips.

The best position for the baby to be born in is head-down, with the chin tucked right down into the chest, and in the head in the anterior position. This means that the back of baby’s head is directly under your pubic bone. This makes for a smoother birth. It is also more efficient, meaning you won’t get as tired during labour because the baby is already lined up correctly. Some babies don’t naturally adopt this position, but instead have their heads the other way up so that their forehead is directly below your pubic bone. This can lead to a longer, more tiring labour, with a lot of back pain, as the baby rotates into the anterior position (this does not always happen – the baby can be born in the posterior position, but this is not common).

We use a similar moxibustion technique if the baby is posterior, coupled with exercises to try and get gravity to work in your favour in encouraging baby to turn anterior.

In the following conditions, acupuncturists working with pregnant women have observed improvement in response to Acupuncture. However, little research has been done to back this up.

 

High blood pressure.

Your midwife or Obstetrician will be keeping a close eye on your blood pressure, because occasionally pregnant women develop a condition where the blood pressure rises out of control (and other problems develop). This is called pre-eclampsia and poses risks to the health of yourself and the baby.

While women with severe pre-eclampsia need to be hospitalised for monitoring and treatment, Acupuncture can be useful if there is just a mild increase in blood pressure. It can also help reduce the water retention that can also happen with this condition. Generally, the sooner treatment begins the more likely it is to have results. Of course, ongoing monitoring by your obstetric team is very important.

 

Gestational diabetes.

It’s normal for blood sugar (glucose) levels to rise slightly in pregnancy, but in some women this happens to the extent that diabetes develops. When severe, this can have complications. The concept of diabetes was recognised by the ancient Chinese, and several Acupuncture points have been proven to promote glucose metabolism and pancreatic function. By using these points, plus others for general wellbeing and the stage of pregnancy, we hope to help normalise glucose levels.

 

Low-lying placenta.

If your placenta is too low in the uterus, this can cause problems with bleeding later in pregnancy. In severe cases, a vaginal birth is not possible as the placenta obstructs the cervix. This condition often resolves by itself as the uterus enlarges and the placenta naturally rises away from the cervix. But in cases where it does not, we can add in Acupuncture points that have a lifting action according to Chinese Medical theory.

 

Pre-birth treatment – preparing for labour.

So you’re in the final weeks and no doubt you’ll be thinking about how to ease your passage through labour. Birth preparation Acupuncture is becoming increasingly popular since research has shown its effectiveness. One New Zealand study found that, overall, women who had birth preparation Acupuncture were 35% less likely to need their labour to be medically induced (43% less likely for women having their first baby). Women having these treatments also had a 31% reduction in epidural use.

I prefer to do weekly treatments from about 35 weeks, as the best effects are achieved when you have 4 treatments or more. In these sessions, we gently prepare your body for labour with specific points that act on the cervix and uterus. We also cover acupressure techniques for you or your support person to use during labour that can help you deal with the contractions and help the cervix dilate.

 

Inducing labour.

There’s no doubt that it’s best for your body to go into labour by itself. We don’t really understand the interplay between the mother and baby that sets off labour, and it’s likely to be complex and involve a cascade of factors. But sometimes, when the pregnancy goes more than a week – 10 days over the due date, then it’s wise to start weighing up the risks and working out a plan of action. In these cases, or when the Obstetrician wants to induce labour for medical reasons, Acupuncture can be very useful in kick-starting the process and potentially avoiding a medical induction. Feedback from midwives in New Zealand who started using Acupuncture in inductions has generally been positive, although the research is certainly not conclusive. In these circumstances, we stimulate points traditionally used to bring on labour, and do several treatments close together, ideally every couple of days.

So enjoy the last months and weeks of your pregnancy, and don’t forget that Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine can be great after the birth for promoting healing and dealing with breastfeeding issues like mastitis.

 

Naturopathy and Cardiovascular Disease

Naturopathy and Cardiovascular DiseaseHypertension and high cholesterol are both a major risk factor for heart attack and stroke. These conditions are largely a result of poor diet and lifestyle choices, however there certainly is also a large genetic link with some cases.

Some of the causes/risk factors of cardiovascular disease are;

  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Stress
  • Diet (coffee, alcohol, vitamin & mineral deficient foods, salt)
  • Inflammation
  • Oxidative stress
  • Lack of exercise
  • Genetic predisposition
  • Toxicity

Naturopathy has proven methods for lowering both high cholesterol and high blood pressure through diet and lifestyle changes, as well as nutritional and/or botanical medicines.

If you are looking for drug free, natural alternatives to medication and are willing to make some adjustments in your life, come in and see one of our naturopaths.

 

Benefits of Trigger Point Therapy

trigger-point-therapyTrigger Point Therapy focuses on relieving referred pain or sensation (pain, tenderness, pins and needles, numbness and burning). A trigger point is a point of bound / taught fibres in a muscle, often referred to as muscle knots, a point of heightened tenderness or sensitivity, which prevents full usage of a particular muscle. Active trigger points have predictable referral patterns, some causing pain locally to the effected trigger point, others referring to other regions of the body. Due to this referral, a domino effect in terms of pain or injury can occur if trigger points are left untreated; this meaning an area previously unaffected by referred sensation may become affected.

 

From a patients perspective.

Trigger Point Therapy is a compression of the point of tenderness, which temporarily heightens the sensation already experienced due to additional pressure being applied to the area. The pressure must be held and maintained in order to obtain a release; in terms of sensation, it feels as though the practitioner holding the point is slowly releasing pressure, in actual fact the point is releasing / relaxing, which gives a sensation of relief as muscle function is improved and referred sensation is reduced.

 

Trigger Point Therapy with Massage.

Massaging an area with active trigger points can be painful; however, when massage and trigger point therapy is combined a practitioner can release muscles far more effectively. Remedial massage greatly increases blood flow to muscles, while trigger point therapy releases regions within muscles with restricted blood flow, thus providing nutrients to depleted muscle fibres in a more effective fashion. Active trigger points create a local twitch response (often confused with a muscle spasm); if a trigger point is left active after massage it won’t be long before it becomes tight and sore again due this twitch response, as the muscle is over engaging. Releasing trigger points allows for far greater fibre release with slow / stretching massage, which increases range of movement and encourages capillary growth, resulting in healthier muscle fibres.

In terms of performance: Clients who I have treated with trigger point therapy gain longer periods of relief and suffer less issues with their lymphatic system in terms of acid and other waste build up in their muscles; this meaning greater endurance and performance. If you enjoy sport and like massage, this is definitely something to consider within your fortnightly to monthly massage. Note: Trigger points take time to release, so treatment should be focused on a specific area of the body, not all over, to get the best results.

Chiropractics role in fertility.

Pregnancy-chiropracticMost people think of seeing a Chiropractor for body pains and headaches, but Chiropractic care does have an impact on the whole body, including organ systems. In that way it does have a small role in helping with infertility, but is best used as an adjunct to other treatments such as Acupuncture or Naturopathy.

The principle of Chiropractic is to balance the physical body and allow it to function as it is designed to. This will in turn reduce any tension in the muscles, and pressure on the joints and spinal discs, and hence reduce pain. It also has the effect of reducing any pressure on the nerves. If the nervous system is free of pressure it is also able to function as normally as possible, hence the body’s organ systems will receive the optimal nerve supply and hence function optimally also. In this way Chiropractic can have an impact on systems including digestion, circulation and fertility.

The nerves that originate from the lumbar and sacral spine, ie the lower back and pelvis, supply the reproductive system, so if there is some imbalance to these structures there may be interference to how well the reproductive system works and hence possibly affect fertility.

Another way a Chiropractor may help when it comes to fertility, is with the Neuro Emotional Technique (NET), described in our June newsletter. Sometimes we can have fears that hold us back in life, and these fears and emotions can be strong enough to affect our body and how well it functions. When it comes to fertility, pregnancy and parenthood, there are many emotions that can come up, and potentially impact on our fertility (either by increasing stress levels or by affecting hormone levels). These can include fear of being pregnant or the birth, or self esteem issues around being a good parent. Commonly it can also bring up concerns of how a baby will impact your career, social life, relationship with your partner to name just a few. NET can be a great tool to allow you to be free those emotional blocks and hence function more optimally.

Once you fall pregnant, then Chiropractic can be of a great benefit in reducing any discomfort that can come about due to all the changes your body will be going through. See next month newsletter article, Chiropractic and Pregnancy.

 

Back Pain and Chiropractic

Chiropractic Back PainThe back or spinal column is the central support structure of the body, and is therefore crucial to our functioning ñ most especially our mobility. The nerves that radiate out from the spinal cord are essential to the operation of every muscle, nerve and organ in the body ñ so if they become trapped or pinched in any way, they can affect our posture and movement significantly. This is often what happens when the discs that cushion the spinal column become worn or rupture. Other sources of back pain involve injury or strains to the muscles of the back ñ often from unusual movements or over stretching. Lifting and carrying with poor techniques also places strain on back muscles, especially if the knees are not bent, and the back ends up taking all the stress. Typical symptoms of a back problem include headaches, localised pain in the neck or back which may radiate to the shoulders, arms or legs. Chiropractic treatment is a popular alternative to invasive surgery or conventional medication, and is a recognised profession by the medical establishment.

 

What is Chiropractic Treatment?

Chiropractic treatments and chiropractors are primarily concerned with the alignment of the spine, and to a lesser extent the skull and pelvis, using a range of techniques to adjust it. This is designed to allow the nervous system to function without impediment. Techniques used include hand pressure and gravity as well as specialised equipment, including adjusting tables and wedges. A chiropractic adjustment utilises force applied to a joint, with the intention of encouraging normal motion and function. Chiropractors are health professional that typically undergo tertiary education, are regulated by government and must be registered to practice ñ so they are qualified to deal with a range of back problems.

 

How Can Chiropractic Treatment Help Back Pain?

A holistic assessment of the patient is first conducted to determine what may be the origin of the condition or ailment. A treatment plan is then devised which may consist of physical treatment or adjustment, exercises and advice on preventative measures that can be followed. Adjustment methods may involve a range of techniques, including quick or slow movements, and constant pressure. Depending on the condition or ailment, this is typically an ongoing program of supportive care, with repeated visits until the problem recedes.

If you are considering chiropractic treatment as a therapy for your back pain, ensure that you consult a trained and qualified chiropractor.

Myofascial Trigger Point Therapy

Health In The Bay Massage

Myofascial Trigger Point Therapy is a technique used by Massage Therapists which was developed over 50 years ago. Direct pressure is applied to a specific muscle that has become contracted or over-lengthened for extended periods of time preventing it from returning to its rest position.

Trigger Points, also commonly referred to as “knots”, are felt as painful areas in the muscles that cause pain to refer into other parts of the body. The individual may also experience symptoms such as tingling, numbness, burning, as well as weakness and restricted range of motion in the affected muscle. These points can occur in any part of the body, but are often most likely to be found in the upper back or neck. Trigger points will usually occur on both sides of the body, with one side being more symptomatic than the other.

Upon compression by the therapist, the trigger point will often reproduce the individual’s pain pattern. As the muscle relaxes, the pain and discomfort should then diminish. Massage therapists will apply pressure to trigger points using their thumbs, knuckles and elbows, as well as with specialised treatment tools. T-bars made of wood, plastic or metal, often rubber capped, may be used.

The most common causes of trigger points are poor posture, structural imbalances, repetitive activity and overuse, emotional factors, and direct trauma or injury.