Sciatica – it can be a pain in the butt (also in the thigh, leg, groin…)

Sciatica can be an amazingly painful condition.  The symptoms can include back pain with pain into the butt, thigh, calf, sometimes the foot and even the groin.  There can even be pain into the genital area.   Amazingly sometimes there is no back pain at all but just a combination of pain in the other regions mentioned (leg, butt, thigh, groin etc…).

I have had patients come in to see me embarrassed about their symptoms (especially with the groin or genital pain) and confused because their family doctor really had no suggestions or solutions.

Here is the cool thing:  We can help you fix it.

If its chronic and has been around a long time, or if it is relatively new and only been there a week or two there are a ton of things we can do.

Often sciatica results from inflammation in and around the sciatic nerve.  This big nerve travels down your leg and provides motor power and sensation to the whole leg.  This is why the pain can be is such varied locations.  Prolonged standing often really aggravates this pain.  Sometimes it is difficult to find a position that is at all comfortable.  Sleep can even be interrupted.

When I treat this condition I always do deep tissue treatment to the sacroiliac joints and piriformis muscle.  This joint and muscle are the closest things to the sciatic nerve and the piriformis muscle actually lays right on top of the sciatic nerve and can compress it if it is too tight.  So muscle treatment, treatment of the joints to relieve the inflammation in the area and restore motion to the joint are key in solving this problem.  Prescription of exercise is also key to stretch tight muscles and strengthen the core to ensure this condition doesn’t come back.

I too have suffered with sciatica and know what a pain in the butt it can be.  It doesn’t need to be suffered with – there is something that we can do about it.

 

Scoliosis – what you can do about it

Scoliosis is a condition that causes abnormal curves in the spine.  Scoliosis is more prevalent in females but all children while they are growing should be checked for scoliosis.  This can be done at a routine visit to the chiropractor and is something that I do with all of patients regularly re-checking the children and adolescents.

So what if you have scoliosis?  Generally it gets evaluated and measured and monitored.  It used to be that the most severe cases would require surgery or bracing. Recently, the literature has shown that the surgery for scoliosis (the insertion of rods in the spine) is not as effective as it was once thought to be and may not help at all.

Unfortunately, there really isn’t much that will actually correct a scoliosis.  But it can be managed with conservative care.

Because there are unusual curves in the spine this can put pressure and irritation into different muscle groups and joints of the spine.  One side will be really tight, and the other really lax or loose.  Pain can result from tight muscles and joints causing inflammation which often manifests as upper back or neck pain, headaches or lower back pain.  With regular physical care and maintenance I have seen patients with scoliosis go from having pain on a daily basis to no pain at all. There is always hope.  Even if you have had scoliosis and pain for years, there is something that can be done.  With gentle physical treatment including adjustments, soft tissue release and exercises the pain can be lessened and even removed.

For young children and teenagers with scoliosis it is important to keep the spine moving and the muscles prone to tightness loose so that the pain doesn’t manifest at all.

Don’t ignore your scoliosis! I can help you and teach you things you can do to keep yourself well, moving and out of pain for as long as possible.

I have #*@%&! Fruit flies! – An Easy Peasy Solution

 

Everyone hates being swarmed in the kitchen by fruit flies.   Here is an easy solution to the problem.

Don’t get fruit flies.

(O.K. fine that was my Dad’s answer…)

first find the culprit – aging fruit or veggies usually do it – get rid of them if needed or put in the refrigerator.

If you can’t find the culprit  – it is ok this solution will hopefully catch all of the files and get rid of the problem.

 

Get a small bowl and fill it with about a half a centimeter of Apple Cider Vinegar.  Put plastic wrap over the top and secure with an elastic band. Poke holes in the plastic big enough for the flies to get in.  Place near where you see the flies and wait.  They cant resist the smell of the Apple Cider Vinegar and once they go into the trap they cant get out.

Easy and safe method of getting rid of them with no harsh chemicals.

Look I caught one already….

So I hear there is a Gastrointestinal bug around – Your Grandmother was right, you should listen to her.

So a Gastrointestinal bug generally takes us unaware and can hit with nausea, vomiting and for added fun…. diarrhea. (I can never spell that word, I had to spell check – think its my mind blocking it out… fair enough).

People confuse with the flu or call it the ‘stomach flu’ but really it has nothing to do with the flu (which is cause by one of the many influenza viruses) while a GI or Gastrointestinal bug can have varied causes…. mostly the ones that go through us fast (like in 24 to 48 hours) are viral.  So basically you have to keep hydrated and wait it out while trying to be as comfortable as possible.  If it lasts longer than a day or you are worried you aren’t keeping hydrated please seek medical care – dehydration is very dangerous – and it can happen fast, especially with children.

I generally suggest water or flat ginger ale or chicken soup.  Stay away from Gatoraide as a general rule as the loads of sugar wont do you any favours and it really isn’t formulated for this kind of illness.  Pedialyte or Gastrolyte work too . Research has actually been done on chicken soup and illness and people who consume home made chicken soup actually do fair better on recovery from illness.  (Seriously, Grandma is always right so just give in).

While you are nauseated something you can do to help the nausea is smell Peppermint Essential Oil .  It works remarkably fast, is safe as you are just smelling it, and totally non-invasive.  Good for kids and pregnant women too.  One caveat.  The oils you can buy off the shelf are not all equal.  There is no laws governing what companies put on their bottles or in them.  For this reason you may thing you have a pure essential oil that is not.  I use Young Living Essential Oils in my practice and at home as I am happy with their process of standardizing what is in every bottle and they have outside labs cross check the contents.  It is a great product.

Ok, so now you are in recovery mode and your tummy is tender.  What do you go back to eating right away so as to not freak out your system?

Back to grandma and her advice: B.R.A.T.

Eat only B.R.A.T. for 24 hours then you should be good to reintroduce other foods slowly.  Take your time re-introducing meats (especially red meat – this may take a week or so) and dairy (can take even longer). Sometimes your normal flora in the gut is off after one of these bouts with a bug and especially diary and meet can trigger another bout of diarrhea.  Happened with my son not long ago… sigh, poor kid (He is all good now though thanks!).  Also – a good probiotic can really help – really we should all take one daily but especially in this situation.  If is your kids who are sick there are also really good chewable probiotics formulated for children.

Wait – what is BRAT?

B- bananas

R- rice

A – apple sauce

T- toast

These things tend to be binding and easy on the GI system and have a bonus of generally being around the house.  If you don’t have apple sauce on hand here is a quick recipe for apple sauce that can be easily whipped up:

Apple Sauce

3 apples

water

honey

cinnamon

seriously that’s it – peel and core apples and chop – throw in a pot and cover with water.  Boil this adding water periodically as it evaporates until the apples lose their form and you can smush them.  Add honey for sweetness and cinnamon (but be careful with this on a tender tummy not all will like it).  The honey has the added bonus of being anti-microbial and has been used since antiquity for healing.  Certainly can’t hurt here.

Also, almost goes without saying… wash your hands lots. Best way to prevent the spread of illness.  Be serious about it.  I make my son sing the alphabet song as he is soaping up – that’s about how long you need to do it. Then let the soap and water flow ‘downhill’ as you rinse it off so as to carry the virus or bacteria away from you and down the drain (I mean angle hands down and let water flow from wrists to fingertips and off).

Something Grandma may not have known is that chiropractic adjustments have been shown to boost the white blood cell count – if you are feeling sick you shouldn’t cancel you appointment you should go to see the chiropractor -or book an appointment at the start of the cold – we can boost your immune system! Stay healthy this cold and flu season – one of the ways to do that is regular chiropractic care.  If you have more questions about this please contact Dr. Karen.

Hope all this helps.  And remember, just listen to your Grandmother.  She was right all along.

Greens with Miso Dressing (AKA – OMG I FINALLY FIGURED OUT WHAT TO DO WITH SWISS CHARD!!!)

I had a dream.  Every. Time. I. Went. To. The Grocery. Store.

I dreamt of Swiss Chard.

Seriously.

I really loved the look of the beautiful leafy green and red veggie but I had no idea what to do with it (that I would actually like).

This recipe is the solution.  It makes a perfect side to any meal and is tangy and has a hint of turmeric.  So so yummy.

Here is the recipe (reproduced with permission from thirteenmoons.ca)

Greens with Miso Dressing (serves 4 and is GF, V)

Miso dressing (makes 1 cup):

1/4 cup white miso

2 Tbsp tahini

1/4 c freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/4 c water

1 Tbsp maple syrup

2 tsp fresh dill or 1 tsp dried dill

1/2 tsp turmeric

 

Greens:

1 Tbsp sesame oil

1 small onion, thinly sliced

4 cups kale, SWISS CHARD or other hardy greens

2/3 cup water divided

4 cups napa cabbage or bok choy thinly chopped

1 Tbsp tamari

8 Tbsp miso dressing

 

To make the dressing put all the ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth.  I used an immersion blender.  Store leftovers in the refrigerator.

To prepare the greens, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat and add onions and sauté for about 5 minutes.  Add the hearty greens and 1/3 cup water and cook until the liquid evaporates.  Add the cabbage, tamari and remaining 1/3 cup of water.  Cook until greens are tender, about 5 minutes.

Transfer to a bow and drizzel miso dressing overtop, toss and serve.

Strong Bone Stew – No Bones About it (no really – its Vegan!)

The strong bones in this stew doesn’t refer to ingredeients in the stew but rather the nutrients contained in it. This neutrient dense stew combines root veggies and all sorts of great stuff that is great for your bones and skeleton.

Most importantly, it is delicious and easy.  Granted it does take some time but the hardest part about it is chopping all of the root veggies that go in it.

It is hearty and warm and delicious.  It is another recipe from the wellness retreat called Thirteen moons.   I made a big pot and we will eat from it all week.  Perfect for a grey cold day. Here is the recipe reproduced with permission.

Strong Bone Stew

Stew base:

2 Tbsp olive oil or Ghee

1 cup chopped onion

1-3 cloves garlic

4 cups vegetable stock

1 cup quartered mushrooms

4 cups root veggies (potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, turnips, parsnips or winter squash cubed)

 

Sauce (make separately):

1/2 cup wakame seaweed

2 Tbsp miso

2 tsp tamari

1/3 cup tahini

2 Thsp cup peanut or nut butter * there is an allergy in my house so I substituted wow butter and it tasted great.

1Tbsp apple cider vinegar

 

-In a large heavy bottomed pot heat ghee and add onion and garlic and sauté until onion is soft.  Add veggie stoc and bring to a boil.  Add veggies and seaweed and simmer 45 minutes adding more water or broth if needed.

While stew simmers mix together miso, tamari, tahini, nut butter and vinegar in a large measuring cup or bowl and set aside.

Just before serving ladle enough hot broth into miso to make it thin enough to pour into stew.  Add to stew.  Continue to cook on low for 5 minutes. Serve hot with nice crusty bread or quinoa.

 

 

Shoulder Pain – What the Rotator Cuff?

I recently had someone ask me if I treat shoulders.  The treatment that chiropractors are best known for is back pain and neck pain.  This is great but for me really falls short of describing what I do every day.  One of the things I love most about my job is the variety of problems I see daily and my ability to problem solve for them and help patients get the care and treatment they need to heal.

I had a patient recently who came to me after having care for a shoulder injury for three months somewhere else.  He told me that he was no better at all and still had trouble sleeping despite the care he received.  We did an examination and I diagnosed him with a rotator cuff problem – specifically a possible small tear in the supraspinatus muscle (one of four muscles the rotator cuff).  He had been given exercise, ultrasound and some massage already but hadn’t seen improvement.

What I do differently is examine the whole spine as well as the shoulder and add treatment that also involves much more hands on therapy and support for the spine – the shoulder doesn’t float around in space it is attached to the skeleton by muscles – muscles that get tight, angry and irritate all of the joints surrounding them.  Irritated joints tend to cause inflammation.  More inflammation causes more tightness in the muscles – a vicious cycle that we need to break.

Pain from rotator cuff problems can refer down the arm, into the hand, into the upper back and neck and can even cause headaches.  This can cause decreased range of motion of the shoulder and weakness in the arm.  I love treating shoulders because the results can be super dramatic.

Within 2 weeks of seeing the patient I was talking about he told me he felt 80% better and his range of motion was amazing and almost 100% better.  He told me he could sleep again at night and started bringing me lunch because he loved to cook and was able to do that again.

Please don’t live with shoulder pain – it usually gets worse and sometimes turns into a frozen shoulder which is often much harder to treat and takes much longer to heal.  I would love to help you.

Take a walk on the wild side – Earthing… why not?

So one of my friends really really really wanted to try earthing but didn’t want to go alone.

What is earthing might you ask?  It is the practice of walking around outside barefoot. Not just on the beach.  On sidewalks, streets, grass, in stores, rocky trails and in all kinds of weather.  Apparently it is huge right now in New York City.  No idea.

He asked me to go with him why? Well generally because I am up for new experiences that aren’t harmful – and who knows, could be fun.  I generally shed the shoes and socks at home so why not.

I did end up going earthing a few times with said friend – we went places like parks, beaches and…. IKEA for some reason.  We also walked into ice cream stores (that was my addition – I’m generally in it for the ice cream).

What I liked about earthing was that we both noticed that we felt a sense of calm after going.  Maybe it was the company but there is a theory out there that there is an exchange of ions through the bottom of the feet and the earth as you are walking barefoot.  I don’t know for sure, but I do think it feels good.

I have a dream.  An earthing dream… I dream about walking on moss trails.  Can you imagine how that may feel on the bottom of your feet and how relaxing it could be? Apparently there are some of these trails in The United Kingdom somewhere. I have decided that I need to make a friend with a jet so they can take me there to find out.

Acutally, recently on a weekend retreat while walking though the woods I found a huge patch of amazing moss.  Naturally I had to get barefoot and walk through it – it wasn’t quite a moss pathway but it was quite awesome – to see the video click on Moss Earthing below (and don’t judge me on the outfit, it was a girls weekend and I was comfy – and Yes those are Wonder Woman leggings).

Moss Earthing

Falling on your tailbone – A pain in the ass (literally)

Have you ever fallen smack on your butt and felt like you broke your tailbone?  They may or may not even X-ray it at the hospital because if it is broken frankly there is nothing you can do about it.  Most of the time really it isn’t broken but you walk around, or rather sit around, very carefully for about 2-4 weeks because it hurts so much.  If you really smacked it good it hurts longer.  If you are really unlucky it can hurt for years or indefinitely and you just live with it.

What would you say if I told you there IS actually something you can do about it?  Would it be worth a couple treatments with me to make it go away, usually permanently?

Ok, so we will get to that….So what made me think of this? It’s October, there is no ice on the ground (though its coming – even though its been warm….it’s coming). My almost-grandmother*** fell a couple weeks ago and fell right on her tailbone.  She is 90 and ended up at the hospital for other reasons but they didn’t bother X-raying her (see above) and the pain she had (in her butt) was one of her biggest problems upon her return home (she is doing well btw -thanks!)

***Sidebar – what in the what is an ‘almost-grandmother’?  Ok so we aren’t related by blood.  She has no children or grandchildren and all of my biological grandparents and my mom are gone.  Rita has been part of my life since I was 12 as she worked for my Dad as his bookkeeper.  She and her husband Jake spent every holiday I can remember at our house and after my Mom died I continued that tradition.  She is one of my closest family members, I love her.  I’ve adopted her and she has adopted me. So there you have it ‘almost-grandmother’ Oma Rita.

Ok back to the pain in the ass that is tailbone pain.  I went to her house a few days in a row to help her out and now there is no pain anymore.  With a fall onto the tailbone, often the pain comes from irritation and inflammation to the ligaments that attach the tailbone (or coccyx) to the bottom of the spine (the sacrum).  Fixing this problem is as easy as doing some soft tissue treatment (gently) to the area to settle the inflammation.  Yes this means I may have to touch your butt –  I promise to ask first and not catch you by surprise.

All joking aside, its simple, it works, it takes very little time and its worth it.

Next time you fall on your ass – think of me.

 

Why I am a chiropractor

So I thought this topic would be appropriate at the start-ish of my new blog… Let’s take a journey together…. way way back in time – to where my son Leo thinks Dinosaurs roamed the Earth…. Yes, that’s right, all the way back to 1993.

I was in first year university at the University of Waterloo.  The good daughter of a pharmacist who had worked since she was 12 or 13 in a Shoppers Drug Mart  knew she wanted to be in healthcare somewhere but wasn’t sure where.

Fast forward to mid terms, or maybe it was first term finals – I really don’t know it was so so long ago (Dinosaurs you know).  Anyways, I digress, I had been studying like crazy, as usual, and had tremendous neck pain and headaches.  So much so that I would take about 100 Advil a month.

I look back on that now and think it is crazy but the fact is that there are so many people out there taking this much over the counter or even prescription medication for pain due to headaches or mechanical neck pain.

One of my friends suggested I see a chiropractor – I had never been and had no idea what to expect.  I did end up going with a friend of mine and after about 3 visits I was amazed that I no longer had headaches.  I mean at all. I knew this is what I wanted to do with my life.

Now, I do get the odd headache and I continue to see friends who are chiropractors but they are few and far between and rarely need any medication.

It was so simple and easy and, really it still is.  If this sounds like you – 100 Advil a month is not a great idea, any MD or other health practitioner will tell you so for sure. I can help you and would be honoured.  It’s not magic, its physical medicine using soft tissue techniques like massage and deep tissue, stretching and exercises as well as adjustments if they are warranted – You may be surprised that often headaches respond best to upper back adjustment so if you fall into the category of people who are nervous about neck adjustments I promise I can still help you.

By the way, in my office my rule is that we only provide treatment that is safe, effective and that you are 100% comfortable with.  It’s your body so you are in charge.  If you are not comfortable with something the dialogue is always open and I will find a way to help you that you are comfortable with that is still effective.

I would be honoured to help you.