Sunday, February 27, 2011

Neuralgia, Neuritis- Safe Ways to Address Them

Neuralgia, Neuritis-Safe Ways to Address Them
   Neuralgia is pain in a nerve pathway. Generally, neuralgia isn't an illness in its own right, but a symptom of injury or a particular disorder. In many cases, the cause of the pain is not known. Older people are most susceptible, but people of any age can be affected. Specifically, it affects the peripheral nerves (those outside the brain, spinal cord, or central nervous system), blocking sensory and motor functions, with pronounced symptoms.                                                                                                                                                  
    Almost everyone will experience mild neuralgia at some point, but these bouts are usually temporary and tend to ease by themselves within a few days. Some types of neuralgia are longer lasting, debilitating and so agonizing that a person's quality of life is severely reduced. Trigeminal neuralgia, a condition that usually affects one side of the face only, is said to be one of the most painful medical conditions. Neuralgia is usually managed with medications and physical therapy, with surgery an option in some resistant cases. Bowenwork can be so successful in addressing these issues that the conditions may be completely relieved.       
   Symptoms of neuralgia include localized pains, sensitivity to touch, sharp or burning pain depending on the nerve affected, muscle spasm though the affected area is still functional.
   Neuritis is a complex process involving inflammation of the nerves, resulting in irritation that interferes with normal nerve function and the areas served.  Symptoms can include numbness, tingling weakness or paralysis along with the pain of neuralgia                                                                                                                          
   Causes of neuritis include:
Shingles - inflammation of a nerve, caused by infection with the herpes virus. This common type of neuralgia is known as post-herpetic neuralgia. The pain may linger long after the shingles rash has disappeared, particularly in areas of the face.                           
Infection - the nerve can be irritated by nearby infection, such as a tooth abscess.                                Pressure or injury - broken bones, slipped vertebral discs or muscles (sciatica) or certain tumors can press and irritate a nerve.                                                                                                                           Trigeminal neuralgia- the most common type of neuralgia, also known as tic douloureux. The trigeminal nerve supplies various areas of the face, including the cheeks and jaw. Trigeminal neuralgia is characterized by sudden jolts of shooting pain that usually affect one side of the face only. .
Occipital neuralgia-irritation of the main nerve that runs from the back of the skull can cause occipital neuralgia. This type of headache or pain is dull, throbbing and localized to the back of the head. The pain can sometimes include the forehead. It is suspected that tense muscles or ligaments may press against the nerve, causing irritation, inflammation and subsequent pain. Other causes may include viral infection, trauma to the neck or poor posture.

    Traditional medical methods of neuralgia and neuritis treatment include pain-killing medications such as aspirin or codeine; anticonvulsant medications to treat the pain and muscle spasms associated with trigeminal neuralgia; antidepressants to help relieve pain in some cases; surgery to desensitize the nerve and block pain messages; physical therapy and chiropractic. All these methods are invasive and carry side effects.
   Three important points: neuralgia is pain in a nerve pathway; generally, neuralgia isn't an illness in its own right, but a symptom of injury or particular disorders; in many cases, the cause of the pain is not known.  Use a conservative apporoach and look at all factors, many times traditional methods may be guessing at causes and only treating symptoms and not causes.                                                                                                                                                                                                                   
    If you notice a burning pain or numbness and tingling that runs down the back side of your leg, you may have an inflammation of the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve is the biggest one outside the trunk of your body. It begins in the lower back where five separate nerves make exit from the spinal cord between the lumbar vertebrae. They then come together making one long cable or wire cord-type nerve, which travels down the back of the thigh, knee, and lower leg. It sends out branches to all the muscles along the way all the way to the tip of each toe.                                                                                                     
   When sciatica comes on gradually, it is often due to inflammation caused by an infection such as a virus. It can also be caused by the effects of poor circulation to the nerve and by the deteriorating effects of diabetes. The gradual development of arthritis along the lower part of the spine is also a cause. Sciatic neuritis can also be caused by a bump or pressure anywhere along the course of the nerve in the back of the leg. Another more likely cause is impingement (or squeezing) by the internal flexor muscles of the hip, the psoas muscles. It is rarely due to a joint being out of place such as the sacroiliac or lumbo-sacral joints.         
  Mild cases can come and go and may recur unexpectedly over a long period of time without even becoming severe. Spells that come suddenly and that are severe will be very painful, causing problems with standing and walking. Even sitting and lying can be extremely uncomfortable. In such cases as these, there is a good chance a disc has bulged or ruptured demanding immediate attention. In all cases, the causes of sciatic neuritis has to be distinguished from causes other than inflammation, arthritis, neuropathy, and disc disease.
Ways to Heal   
   We can look at addressing inflammation through diet and nutrition, helping shift the body’s chemical balance form acid to alkaline either with drinking alkaline water, ingesting bicarbonate of soda or using an alkaline diet program and large doses of Vitamin D3. D3 also addresses inflammation and boosts immune response for infection fighting. Compression and arthritis and disc issues and occipital neuralgia can be addressed through gentle restorative postural exercise, osteopathic care, Bowenwork, Pilates, Somatics and other forms of enhanced movement and assisted stretching. Bowenwork has also been effective in relieving Trigeminal neuralgia
    By taking responsibility for our situation and engaging in these positive actions we can address and even eliminate these pain problems from our lives.
  copyright 2011 Kevin Minney
If you wish more information on any of the ways to heal discussed, feel free to ask or reply in comments.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

End the Suffering of Heartburn/GERD

  "I'm tired of this hearburn. My MD tells me it's GERD, Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease and I should take pills to handle it. I hear I'll have a 40% greater chance of pneumonia if I take them. Isn't there a safer way?When we have digestive distress and mainstream medicine has us believe we have few ways to deal with it. Actually, there are more ways to a healthy tummy.
 Heartburn, or GERD for gastro-esophageal reflux disease is a big problem in this country with a total of 61 million Americans having heartburn at least once a month. 19 million have symptoms weekly and over 9 million have daily symptoms. ,  . The costs of GERD medications are over 12 billion dollars a year3. The effect these medication are designed for is to reduce the level of acidity in the stomach It can be an occasional minor irritation after a meal or a serious pain that can result in damage to the esophagus.

  This is a potentially minor problem that has been played into a major moneymaker for pharmaceutical manufacturers as can be seen by the money spent above.
   The mechanism of heartburn, or reflux is a mechanically simple one. The ring of muscle called a sphincter at the lower end of our esophagus constricts to prevent the contents of our stomachs that are under pressure from pushing back up into the esophagus. The pressure in the stomach is caused by the muscular action in digestion of the stomach and the chemical reaction of the enzymes and hydrochloric acid that are expressed by the stomach for that purpose. The muscular tension of the sphincter provides the key to a proper seal between the burning content under pressure of the stomach and the sensitive tissue of the esophagus. If there is a poor seal between the stomach and the sphincter, acid-laden material washes onto the esophagus, causing burning and pain.

   What determines the amount of contraction and seal of the sphincter?
Strangely enough, the level of acidity in the stomach is the governing factor. That is to say, the greater the level of acidity, the tighter the sphincter.

   This seems very logical, the more potentially dangerous the contents of the stomach the tighter they should be locked away. So when there is leakage from the stomach to the esophagus, it is actually because there is not enough acidity in the stomach to trigger the tightening of the muscle, or there is too much pressure on the abdomen for the muscle to handle. In the former case, where there is too little acid, it may simply be because there has been too much food consumed too quickly for the stomach to produce sufficient acid, or too much fluid intake has served to dilute the acid level. These are simple lifestyle issues solved by eating more slowly and drinking less during a meal.

   The more problematic is when heartburn is chronic, meaning there is either too much pressure on the abdomen or there is too little acid production. The more serious problem is lowered acid production. If the stomach is not producing sufficient acid to tighten the sphincter, then all the GERD medications are simply treating the symptom, the burning of the esophagus while increasing the cause, lowered stomach acidity. It is a great formula for having a client for life instead pf taking care of a problem.

    A common safe and easy naturopathic answer for GERD is to enhance stomach acidity with a plant-based hydrochloric supplement, betaine hydrochloride. This raises stomach acidity to increase sphincter tension and promotes natural stomach acidity, so it only needs to be used short-term to promote long-term stomach health.

  In the case of excess abdominal pressure, both the sphincter and the esophagus can be affected, with the esophagus actually being pushed upward towards the throat, which is called a hiatal hernia. This of course compounds any acid reflux issues. In this case Bowenwork can release excess abdominal pressure in a few visits, and the client can be instructed in self-care maneuvers to restore balance to the esophagus and digestion.
     Sontag SJ. The medical management of reflux esophagitis. Role of antacids and acid inhibition. Gastroenterol Clin North Am 1990;19:683-712.

2    Hinder RA, Libbey JS, Gorecki P, Bammer T. Antireflux surgery. Indications, preoperative evaluation, and outcome. Gastroenterol Clin North Am 1999; 28:987-1005,viii.

3    Siepler J.K, Trudeau W.L.Treatment Options for Gastroesophageal Reflux disease: Scientific      
Review California Healthcare Foundation  2004

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A River with Many Branches: Temporo-mandibular Joint Disorder and Its Symptoms throughout the Body

   The TM joint is the hinge at each side of our face that connects the jaw or mandible, to the temporal bone of the skull. TMJ disorder is the Jaw disorder associated with Symptoms of the Head, Spine, Shoulder, Elbow/Wrist, and Digestion. We can see issues coming directly from the TMJ in jaw and facial pain, earaches, toothaches, headaches, hearing loss, even loss of equilibrium can be caused by jaw misalignment. 40% of the cranial nerves emerge around the TMJ joint. TMJ problems can also result in spinal misalignment, not only at the top of the spine near the joint, but even at the other end of the spine in the pelvis.

   We can self-assess for any problems in the joint by placing a fingertip in each ear and pressing forward, while opening and closing the mouth a few times. A normal TMJ joint will have no unusual sensation. If there is an imbalance the tip of the jawbone will press against your fingertip. It will be more noticeable on the side of the jaw more out of balance and there may be pain associated with the movement.

   The TMJ is part of the cranial bones and in healthy states they move in rhythm with the shoulder blades and the pelvis. When there is imbalance, this relationship is interrupted; interruptions can affect the shoulder, and elbow/wrist as well as the carpal tunnel in the wrist. When the TM joint is dysfunctional, the mouth is affected; the Ph, or relative acidity of the saliva is changed. When the Ph of the saliva is changed the normal digestive circuit is broken, resulting in impairment of the intestinal flora.

   For these and other reasons the TM joint is considered by some to be “the most important joint in the body.” It is an intersection for circulation of blood to and from the brain. Oral stress causes the neck to tighten and restrict circulation, resulting in headaches and facial pain.

   So we can see that from one source many different and seemingly unrelated symptoms can arise. The TMJ is like a might river with tributaries snaking through all the systems and structures of the body. When healthy and in balance it contributes to overall body health in a myriad of ways. When unhealthy, it contributes to our ill-health in just as many ways.

   In all of these cases we are talking about cumulative trauma, the gradual build-up of insult and injury to physiological processes and structures that results in these dramatic symptoms. Stress can be a starting point, causing grinding of the teeth, especially at night, creating over-tense jaw muscles. Usually there is no single dramatic incident to point to as the sole cause of a TMJ problem, though a motor vehicle accident can be a powerful contributor.

   When there is no single incident to connect with and the procession of severity of symptoms can be gradual, we are often surprised when we have finally developed an acute pain in our body. We can be just as confused as to what to do about it. Are we having a dental problem? Are we having a musculo-skeletal problem? Are we having an organ system problem? Which healthcare practitioner do we go to? How do they know how to treat us?

   When a healthcare practitioner lacks the perspective on these issues we have been discussing, they may focus in on one set of symptoms rather than looking for a central cause. So many treatments may be offered for one problem, compounding the difficulty in the recovery process. Invasive methods may be suggested when medications fail to address the issue. All because the tree is not seen because of the forest, or rather the river is not seen because we are distracted by one of its streams.

   What is a safe and easy way to address TMJ dysfunction? Bowenwork has a simple protocol that can be used in the first session to address the root cause of all these various symptoms. There is no invasive aspect, the work is all done outside the mouth and is pain-free. Bowenwork is simple, effective work to restore a healthy balance to the TMJ and to the entire body.

I welcome your comments.

Thank you,
Kevin Minney

Sports Performance-Enhancing and Maintaining Our Best Efforts

 As the year begins to round into better weather, we are looking at our favorite sports and how we can improve our performance and maintain that higher quality. There are many ideas for doing this but a few specific concepts can serve to focus our work.  There are three important factors in enhancing sports performance:
1.    Improved sport-specific training to provide greater strength and efficiency in the actions necessary for      the sport
2.    Increased control of the mental aspects, or the “Inner Game”
3.    Decreased injury recovery time to allow for increased training and return to competition.
   Sport-specific training includes strength and conditioning along with improving range-of motion efficiency of the muscle groups and actions directly involved in performance of the sport. This training involves more than merely amplifying the amount of time spent “doing” the sport. Sport-specific training was the cornerstone of the former USSR’s success in athletics. The USSR could not compete with the USA in nutrition, or healthy population, but by focusing on sports physiology and sport-specific training, the USSR was able to maintain an even footing with the US in world and Olympic competition.
   Enhancing the capacity of the body to perform the specific activities of a sport allows the performer to coordinate the increased capacity to provide better performance.  There are many individual programs for sport-specific training, but only one modality that can improve the application of these programs by reducing training related pain and stiffness recovery issues, along with enhancing pain-free range-of-motion. Using postural related exercise such as Muscle Balance and Function Development, or other  functional strength trainingcan provide alignment and targeted increases in more efficient movement, power and speed. Often though, more exercise is deemed better, rather than targeted exercise. When that happens restricted range-of-motion and overuse injuries can develop. If unhealthy movement patterns develop, Bowenwork can complement targeted exercise programs in restoring powerful movement patterns.
   Another important issue in enhancing sports performance is the “inner game” or the control of mental and emotional factors that can either support or sabotage an effective sports performance. At the Olympic level improvements of nearly 4% were noted using psychological methods to focus and control mental and emotional processes.  Since less than a 1% difference usually separates Olympic medalists from non-medallists, the differences noted in the study could serve to help a performer medal where they could have finished out of the running otherwise. Sports psychology for enhancing performance is a proven technique that can be further improved by establishing better autonomic nervous system balance. How can that be done? Auto-suggestion methods have been used since the early 1900's. More focused methods these days are in the realm of energy psychology such as EFT, Tapas technique, TFT, Zpoint Therapy, and Autogenic training and Bowenwork. Top tier athletes use these to achieve and maintain high levels of achievement. Restoring balance to our autonomic nervous system and regaining efficient use of our conscious and subconscious provides us with powerful tools to focus our performance.

   Injuries can interrupt training sequences and even the opportunity to compete. Accelerating injury recovery allows quicker return to training and competition. Competitive athletes often have faster recovery times due to their better fitness, but a proven method of accelerating healing and maintaining health is Bowenwork. Sport-specific injuries have been treated “on-site” with the athlete being able to return to action in a matter of moments. Bowenwork helps prepare for the game, compete in the game and stay in the game.

[1] Some Psychological Factors for Promoting Exceptional Athletic Performance, Brent S. Rushall

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Arch Pain, Plantar Fasciitis, Hammer Toes, Bunions, Neuromas, Heel Spurs, Flat Feet: Foot Pain by Any Other Name Hurts Just as Much

We all have had complaints of temporary foot pain in our lives, usually problems of overuse, poor footwear or trauma. Even if the pain was acute it was short-lived and easily fixed. If these were the only problems we have with our feet, life would be easy indeed. Unfortunately chronic and acute foot problems can cost time, money and compromise the quality of our lives.

   When the pain is chronic in the arch, it can be called arch pain or plantar fasciitis. When the ends of our toes turn down and we walk on them rather than the pads underneath we have hammertoes. When the big toe joint turns across the foot, swells and begins to calcify, it is a bunion. Neuromas are swellings of the nerve sheaths between the toes in the foot when the bones are too tightly pressed together. Heel spurs are spiky overgrowths of the heel bone. Flat feet are feet that have little or no arch reducing the support of the weight resting on the foot.

   Each of these chronic conditions arises from imbalances that lead to repetitive trauma in the feet and toes in spite of the strength and subtlety of their structure. Considering the strength and complexity of the feet it is surprising that we have trouble with them at all. Designed for hunting barefoot, chasing game over all sorts of terrain, they have the same number of bones as the hands and make more subtle movements than the hands can. The feet handle multi-ton loads when we run or when we walk down stairs. Unfortunately there haven’t been any design modifications to deal with our modern more sedentary activities.

    We place stresses on our pelvises when sitting; we shorten our leg and hip muscles at the same time, conspiring against our innocent feet. Over time the repetitive stresses add up to injury and pain. We blame our feet, as that is where the pain is. We direct our efforts to stop the pain there, but they are merely the innocent victims. As strong as the feet are they are at the ends of the long levers of our legs. An imbalance in the pelvis or in the structure or action of the legs is magnified by that lever, which leads to our pain.  We can look at the structures above to effect recovery.

  Arch pain, plantar fasciitis and bunions can arise directly from pelvic imbalance. One side of the pelvis can “stick” in rotation, causing leg length discrepancies that result in strain at the end of the lever, the foot. The chronic strain creates inflammation, pain and tissue changes.
   Hammertoes can come from calf tightness and weight transfer pushing the pad beneath the ball of the foot forward and removing cushioning for the primary joints of the toe. The added pain at each step increases the contraction of the muscle tissue of the toes.

   Heel spurs can come about from over-tight hamstrings and pelvic imbalances producing concentration of stresses on the heel bone. Added stresses bring added calcium to the area and added weight-bearing stresses cause bones to remodel.

   Flat feet may come from imbalances in the pelvis causing contractions on the inner sides of the legs robbing the resilience from the suspension bridge of our foot arch.

   Neuromas can arise from over-tight shoes and torsion on the foot producing a squeeze and fluid build-up in the nerve sheaths, producing pain.

The common medical answers to these problems can be cumbersome stretching devices, and surgery. These are aimed at the symptom, not the problem.

 Quite often the action of walking or the gait is the problem.  An imbalance in the level of the hips or chronic tightness in the backs of the legs, the hamstrings can result in an uneven walking pattern that in turn puts higher stresses on the feet and toes.  Addressing the causes of the pain by providing postural balance and a healthy walking gait can correct the problem without haveing to have cumbersome or invasive treatments.

   So using techniques that will provide for my balanced movement and recruit the body’s own coordination are inherently safer and often much more effective. Osteopathic correction, Chiropractic, Postural exercise, and Bowenwork all can have positive effects.

   Bowenwork jumpstarts the body’s healing, restoring the balance between the halves of the pelvis, and reducing functional leg length discrepancies. Bowenwork can work to equalize hamstring lengths within each leg and between each leg. Bowenwork helps the body lengthen the muscular structure of the lower leg to speed recovery from hammertoes. In the case of flat feet, Bowenwork can produce enough release in the structures of the pelvis and leg to allow the arch and heel to return to normal health. Bowenwork helps the body clear the fluid build-up and restore normal spacing between the toe bones to relieve neuromas. Even bunions respond to Bowenwork.

Use a technique that addresses the problems of the foot in safer faster and non-invasive ways, rather than relying on methods that only attack the symptoms.

I would love to hear about other methods for relief of foot pain.

Thank you for your interest and comments.

Kevin Minney


Sunday, February 6, 2011

Pain Management- "Pain...Whose Fault Is It?

  We live in a society that is bombarded with messages. Messages to buy and to become something we aren’t already, or stop being what we already are. Commercial messages come at us non-stop from all media. These messages have the purpose of convincing us to purchase some good or service that will improve our lives. To do that we have believe we are fundamentally unhappy, or incapable on our own.

   That is where pain relief commercials come in, whether they are for over-the-counter pain relievers like aspirin, Advil or Tylenol, or prescription medications. We are given the messages that pain is bad, that it is unavoidable, and most importantly, that we must blot it out. Those messages are necessary if mainstream medications and other pain relief therapies are to sell. They aren’t necessary if we look at what pain is, where it comes from and what we can do about it.

   What is pain? Is it some sort of needless torture, something that must be removed at all cost? No, it is not a torture. It is a survival message that we can listen to and learn from to become healthier. Pain is nothing more than the warning of the body that an area is under stress, and is close to becoming damaged if we keep doing what we are doing. If we try to ignore the pain warning by taking a pain reliever we are ignoring the check engine light of our body.

   The body is always moving information, and when the strain becomes high enough, there is an increase in the amount of information and it is felt as pain. If we listen to the alarm, we can find out what the problem is. If we trust that our body is trying to help, we can work on fixing what got us into trouble in the first place. Pain tells us about a chain of events that led us to the body having to sound the alarm. Often, as much as 80% of the time, the pain signal is the end of a long line of actions the body has taken.

   The body is responding to a shock or repeated motion that prevented normal movement and not damage to tissue. The body robs from another area to perform its task, and then has another restriction, and so on. When the body can’t move away from the restriction, it sends the alarm. We naturally focus on the painful area, but it is only giving us the bad news. That is why so very often we fail to get lasting or even significant relief when we use pain medications or try other therapies.

   Running after pain and trying to mask it misses the point entirely. When we don’t address the problem it will return, even when we try larger doses and stronger pills. This can be when we are told we are too old, fate or that we’ll just have to live with it.

   There are many modalities that work with the body to regain balance and functional organization. These include osteopathic therapies, especially Strain-Counterstrain, Functional Indirect Technique and Muscle Energy Technique. There are energetic techniques like Therapeutic Touch, Quantum Touch and Reiki. Each is a way that supports the body’s long-term healing response, quickly, safely and easily. Along with these is Bowenwork a modality that is both structural like osteopathic techniques and energetic as well. Investigate, find practitioners near you. It is your responsibility take control of your life and your pain. You'll have a better outcome. Take good care of your body. Don’t chase pain, use Bowenwork or one of these other modalities to eliminate the cause.

   Please feel free to comment on these posts. I appreciate your input and direction. I would be happy to respond in detail on these topics, as I believe I am just touching the surface issues and am happy to go into depth.

Thanks for your time,

Kevin Minney

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Another Look at Headaches and Migraines

Headaches and migraines are an endemic problem in America with migraines alone costing the US economy more than 13 billion dollars annually. Migraines affect 6% of men and 18% of women in the US.

   23 million people have migraines. Migraines are only a small percentage of headache problems though they are the most severe type. We can medicate ourselves continually, but that only submerges the symptoms and doesn’t address the causes.

   Headaches can come from a variety of sources, heightened vascular and cerebrospinal fluid pressure as in migraines, or from muscular tension, electrolyte imbalance, postural imbalance, TMJ dysfunction, and eyestrain among others. It can be seen from this list that headache causes have strong lifestyle associations. That is, activities and reactions associated with lifestyles and working situations can be the causes for headaches. Even migraines have been shown to have dietary causes.

   What does this mean for us as headache sufferers? It doesn’t mean we have to get our heads examined in order to reduce our headaches. We just need to take a look at our habits, movement patterns and our posture to relieve a great many of the causes of our pain. Making sure we are properly hydrated with sufficient water intake (water, not tea or soda or coffee) can take care of our electrolyte issues.

   Addressing our ergonomics at work or at home can have a profound effect. Think about how watching the computer monitor at work pulls your head forward. If the head posture is only one half of an inch forward of neutral it can cause the neck muscles to work 50% harder and pull at the base of the skull where often our headaches are located. This area is also the origin of the muscle that goes over the top of our heads and ends at our brow, so the headaches that begin at our forehead can have their origins in our neck and forward of neutral head posture. By checking our posture at the computer and when we are home at rest, watching TV, we can see if we are straining and regain some ease there.

   Computer appropriate eyewear or eye exercises can take care of the eyestrain issue. In general, though, when we have set in motion a posture or muscular imbalance the body tends to hold onto it as a familiar friend, even if we no longer want it. Correct ergonomics, stretching, even exercise won’t make a long-term change for the better in our headache problem. That is where Bowenwork comes in. Even with TMJ issues Bowenwork reminds that body of its natural graceful posture and muscle balance releasing the old hurtful patterns so we can finally relieve ourselves of our headaches.

   Please let me know what you think. I'm writing these so people can have better options and more understanding of their control of their health.

Thank you for reading and replying.

Kevin Minney


1 Burden of Migraine in the US; disability and associated costs. Arch Int Med In press