Carpal Tunnel Syndrome – She of the tingly fingers

So many people come in to see me complaining of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.  Some actually have it and some technically don’t.  Either way we can help you treat it or find relief.

Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused when the Meidan nerve gets entrapped (or squished) at the wrist – at a place called the carpal tunnel.  It is literally a little tunnel formed of bone (the 9 carpal bones that make up the wrist) an the tough layer of tissue that makes its roof.  9 tendons and a big nerve and a bunch of blood vessels run through this tunnel so if anything annoying, say a little bit of inflammation, causes anything to get a teeny weeny bit bigger in this area everything goes SQUISH!

Nerves hate squish.  They HATE squish a lot.

When nerves get squished they do things like cause the nerve host (aka person) to feel a tingly sensation or maybe pain, pins and needles, burning, hot or cold.  In general, don’t piss off a nerve. They don’t like it and they will make you regret it.

Ok so what do you do?  The medical community sends you for testing and possibly to a hand surgeon for surgery.  Sometimes the surgery is successful and sometimes it isn’t.  In the surgery they release the tough roof of the carpal tunnel so that the stuff inside has more room – More room = less squish so why do some of the surgeries not work?

In my chiropractic opinion it is because some carpal tunnel syndrome isn’t carpal tunnel syndrome at all – or at least it isn’t ONLY carpal tunnel syndrome.  Sometimes patients have symptoms and go for testing (nerve conduction) and the test says they are fine. So what gives?  They aren’t likely making up the tingling sensation…. what would they gain from that?  Some of these cases are a problem with what I and some of the chiropractic community like to call ‘triple crush’ syndrome.  The nerve is getting squished a little bit at the carpal tunnel but not enough to mess up nerve conduction.  BUT it is also getting a little bit squished at the elbow and in the upper back near the ribs or the shoulder.  All of these little bits add up to enough hateful SQUISH to piss off the nerve.

What we can do about it – Generally I like to do muscle treatment, adjustments, exercise and anything else I can think of to take pressure off the nerve at all of these locations.  The end result is often symptom relief and I have even had a few patients be able to avoid surgery indefinitely because of this. If you have any more questions, please do not hesitate to contact us and ask!

Gratitude rocks

Practicing gratitude is all the rage these days.  I seem to remember it started with Oprah and gratitude journals – for the masses anyways.  This is the first time I think I remember encountering the idea of Gratitude on a mass scale anyways.

So why is a chiropractor’s blog talking about gratitude anyways?  Wellness is a main tenant of chiropractic right?  We, as chiropractors want people to be as well as possible as long as possible.  In general, we pride ourselves on being holistic in our approach and thinking.  Thinking in general is a big part of wellbeing I think (see what I did there?).  I believe positive thinking effects the body in a positive way and negative thinking, well negative thinking can suck it really…

Gratitude is on my mind recently as I have really begun ‘upping my game’ in the gratitude department lately.  Not that I wasn’t thankful before, I was.  I am just more mindful of it now and trying to be more so increasingly daily.

Why? you ask, what has changed?

Me I guess.

Here is some back story.  I have anxiety.  This is not news to anyone who knows me well.  One of my best friends in the world calls me neurotic (in a loving way as she is much the same).  Ya, it’s true. I am. And frankly I am sick of it.  I have suffered with anxiety in fits and starts that was diagnosed officially after I had my son Leo.  It has come and gone since then but I had another pretty bad bout of it beginning this summer and resurging in early fall this year… but I’m feeling much better now.

So back to being sick of it.  I have decided to start doing things differently and re-write my self talk and re-wire my brain.  How? Affirmations, meditation, mindfulness, and you guessed it – Gratitude.  Harvard medical school recently said “Expressing thanks may be one of the best ways to feel better”.  I love quoting Harvard Medical School, makes me feel smrt (yes that is a Simpson’s reference. Right now my husband is super proud of me).

I didn’t just make up that Harvard part either – here is the Link – check out the first line:  https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/in-praise-of-gratitude

There is research about this gratitude thing in there and everything (for us self-professed nerds) – turns out if you take groups of people and have the one group write gratitude journals for 10 weeks and the other group write anti-gratitude journals (things that irritate them or bother them) the gratitude group was more optimistic, felt better about their lives, exercised more and visited the doctor less than the anti-gratitude group (that is my term not the study’s – it amuses me).

Ever notice if you hang out with negative people a lot you become more negative?

Guess what, if you hang out with negative thoughts of your own a lot same thing happens. So lets hang out with positive thoughts shall we?

Ok, may be easier said than done. But take it from me (here is where I put my Doctor Chiropractor hat on – yes we have hats shhhh don’t tell anyone I told you that), the human body is amazingly adaptive and so is the brain. You can train it to do anything.   When I was 14 years old running 2 km made me almost vomit.  Now at 43 I have run 5 half marathons.  If I can do that I can totally change my brain.  I’m going to be Zen damnit!

This is actually remarkably simple. But it isn’t easy.

Practice gratitude.  Every day.

There are many ways to do this – gratitude journal daily, send a thank you card to someone weekly, count your blessings, make things that are seemingly negative and switch them into a positive in your brain, meditate about abundance and gratitude. The trick, I think, is to do it every day. More than once per day actually. Try for hourly.  Do it for a month. Then do it for three more months. Until it is habit.

Admittedly I am in the middle of doing this right now and started about a month ago.  I think it may be a life long process.  Not sure.  Pretty good guess though.

What I can tell you is that I feel better. Not perfect all the time but resoundingly better lots of the time.   I also use amazing smelling Essential Oils in my practice and life and I think they are a good reminder of this and also help. They make me happy. Whatever works.

 

My Aunt’s favourite Carrot Soup

I LOVE SOUP

Here is a quick and easy one that is so SO tasty I make it a ton every winter.

This soup recipe came from my aunt Tante Christl.  She loved it so much she made it all the time and would eat the whole pot on her own as she lived alone.  My Tante Christl is gone now. I miss her a ton.  She was an amazing woman and she loved me so when I make this soup all the time it makes me think of her.  One of the most amazing things about her is that she walked.  Well she called it walking but it was hiking.  This was years ago when she was into her 70s and before I started running at all… she had a walking group she was part of and regularly walked 10-15 km. At the time I couldn’t fathom walking that far… since then I have run a few half-marathons, I wish she had been around when I did that or that I could have gone on some of her walks.  She used to take beautiful photos on her walks of plants and flowers and make cards from them.  I still have some.

I love to cook as you guys may know.  When I do recipes from loved ones who are gone I like to imagine them with me – maybe they are guiding my hands making it taste better.  Maybe not but it makes me happy to think that way so there you go.

So here is her recipe – amazing Carrot Soup that I too can eat the whole pot of on my own over the week… It seems to come from a cookbook but all I have is this copy she gave me just like this with her sticky note still attached to the top.  Wish I could reference it properly (if you know where it comes from please tell me so I can).

As I type this I realize that I seem to have modified the original version over the years…

Carrot Soup

2 Tbsp butter

1 very large onion chopped

14 young carrots scraped and cut into pieces (I use a bag of regular carrots)

2 large potatoes peeled and cut into chunks

1 small bouquet fresh parsley

8 cups water

2 Knorr chicken bouillon cubes

1/3 cup whipping cream (I NEVER use this and neither did my aunt – skip it!)

cayenne pepper and salt to taste (I rarely add any – the bouillon cubes are salty enough and I don’t find it needs the cayenne)

In a large sauce pan, melt butter and add chopped onion and gently sauté for 15 minutes. Do not brown -NOTE: I skip the onions as they tend to make my husband and I have more gas than we would like – TMI? too bad, my blog, my rules 🙂 Add carrots, potatoes, water, bouillon cubes and parsley. Boil and reduce heat to gentle boil for around 30 minutes or until veggies are really tender.  Remove parsley.  Transfer remaining in batches to blender to puree until very smooth.  Here you can add the extra salt or cayenne and garnish with a little cream and fresh parsley.

Yeild is about 8 cups (seems much more to me usually)

 

Hope you enjoy!

My Mom’s Strawberry Jam

 

So my mom passed away several years ago.  She was my best friend and I miss her every day.  This jam was one of her signature things – though she made the freezer jam version.

We used to go strawberry picking every year with family friends (you know who you are I and K) to Whittamore’s farm.  We would wash, clean, store and freeze the strawberries for later use – we had a ton of it in the chest freezer in the basement and some of it would turn into strawberry jam.  I remember almost falling into that freezer as a kid fishing out jam and strawberries.  Good memories.  I am smiling just typing this.

I used to come home from school and return to Waterloo or Chicago with at least 3 bottles of jam…  This past weekend I made, an properly preserved, 24 jars of my mom’s strawberry jam.  I do it to give out at gifts for the holidays – and to eat at home… It is great on toast – or ice cream (yum!).

Amazingly, Mom’s strawberry jam recipe somehow ended up on the box of pectin – wonder how that happened (ya, she wasn’t a chef but she followed recipes well – like me).  This summer, and the one before, my son Leo and I went to Whittamore’s farm and picked strawberries – froze them like mom used to, and they went into the jam last weekend.

If you are interested in doing this on your own, here is the recipe (from Bernardin’s pectin box):

  • 5 cups crushed strawberries
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 package Bernardin Pectin (I use the powdered not liquid)
  • 7 cups sugar (I use a bit less)

Yield is 8 jars of jam….

here is a link on how to sterilize and seal jars properly:

https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/to-sterilize-jars-and-lids-for-preserving-102234

Once filled I also re-submerge the jars (full and sealed) and boil 20 minutes.

Super tasty and will last for 1 year on the shelf when canned properly.

I used to post on facebook when I was making jam…. I don’t know how many pots I have burned the bottom of – so be careful!  It’s ok  – self-deprecating posts are generally appreciated on facebook.

Have fun jamming!

 

 

TMJ Pain – My jaw hurts just writing this post

 

I am highly suggestible.  Anytime anyone comes in with jaw pain the right side of mine hurts. TMJ stands for Temporomandibular Joint aka Jaw. The TMJ is a very complicated joint and without going into specifics it is very mobile which can make it susceptible to injury.

If you suffer with this you have probably already been to the dentist.  Maybe more than a couple different dentists.  You likely have a night guard and maybe a couple of other appliances.  They help a lot, some or not at all. So now what?  My friend, who is a dentist helped me with this post … He didn’t like my line about a couple of dentists above (but it does depend on who you see and I going to bet it wasn’t him…) He adds: “It’s all about position. Your teeth and muscles need to balance out so together with a dentist who knows how to balance the hardware and chiro helping out with the support, treatment is very successful”.   He is smart so I am going to agree.

Did you have any idea that a chiropractor can treat TMJ pain? So what does that mean or look like?

Here is what I typically do with patients – I will assess the jaw opening – how far does it open, is there a click somewhere on opening or closing, is the jaw opening with a shift to one side or the other – or does it open in an ‘S’ pattern?  I do a full history and examination and then…. treatment.  Usually this involves treatment of the muscles including ones right on the outside of the jaw (the Masseter muscle), the temple (Temporalis) and even ones that are intra-oral (the Pterygoids) – This hurts like hell but it works.  Usually in just a few treatments.  I also assess the neck and upper back, work on restoring the normal curves of the spine and give exercises for the jaw and neck to improve posture.  Depending upon the severity of the case we may do other things such as kinesotaping or other techniques.

Important point here – it works, it doesn’t usually take too long and it works.

Conservative care with a dentist and chiropractor can be super effective – I have a bunch of dentists referring to me now and hopefully more soon (I wrote this post upon prompting from a dentist friend in facebook-land who I actually haven’t seen in person in about 18-ish years …. now maybe eh D?)

I am superhuman – crap I hurt my back…

And so, I got the above picture from a patient via text this week with the following words attached: “I didn’t want to make two trips and now my lower back hurts… have anything this week at your home (office)?”

Yep, we’ve all done it. Sometimes we get away with it unscathed with no problems but most of the time we tweak something in to hurting… that picture above is 9 grocery bags from the car to condo by the way.

So, lesson one – make two trips

lesson 2- text me for an appointment because there is no way you will actually make two trips

This is a good one because she did. I did see her and her problem is minor and relatively easy to treat at this stage… leave it  a week or two or three and if it is unresolved the longer it has been around the longer it takes to get rid of as a general rule.  Even if it seems to go away you really shouldn’t ignore what your body is telling you hurts – these aches and pains that come and disappear unfortunately accumulate over time and build until one day you do something innocent seeming, like bending over at the sink to spit out your toothpaste, and you can’t get back up.  (Seriously I have heard this story I don’t know how many times over the years and when they told us that at school I thought they were joking).

Patients always ask me – Doc how did I get this? what can I avoid so this doesn’t happen again I mean I was only bending over the sink?!?!

Well the bending over the sink didn’t do all of it – it was the straw that broke the camels back (pun intended).  Life happens. We all do stuff we shouldn’t do like not make two trips, sit too long in front of the TV or computer, stand too long at work, lift things that are too heavy, engage in weekend warrior antics, play one sided sports like golf or hockey, carry kids in one arm primarily … I could go on forever and I haven’t even mentioned slips and falls and minor injuries.  Scar tissue and injury accumulate over the years.  Chiropractic care can make sure that you aren’t headed for that last straw by making sure that the minor things that are there already are taken care of before that happens.   Love living life to the fullest myself and I don’t have time for setbacks…. Chiropractic wellness care is just for that. And if you do hurt yourself, don’t wait, make the call and get it fixed sooner than later.

Have a more comfortable and healthy Pregnancy with Chiropractic

I am a chiropractor and a mom.  I have been through a pregnancy and a really rough delivery.  I know the pain that can happen during pregnancy – I had some pretty severe back pain during my pregnancy and at times had difficulty getting out of bed.  With some self care, a specific stabilizing belt that I wore for a couple of months, and some care from chiropractic friends, I managed to make it through it all while continuing to practice right up until I had the baby.

It can be rough. But it doesn’t have to be – there is help out there.  I love helping pre- and post-natal women and have been doing it since I started practicing almost 17 years ago.  I have to say I developed a much MUCH better appreciation for what pregnant women go through regarding pain after my own.  I really feel we are best at providing treatment when we can really empathize with the problem.

Over the years I have seen it all from sciatica to round ligament pain to swollen and sore legs and feet, carpal tunnel syndrome (from swelling due to pregnancy), headaches and neck pain and way more.  More than once I have been called in for an emergency house call for someone who couldn’t get out of bed because of back pain during pregnancy and after the birth of the baby.  I am always honoured to be able to help.

While writing this blog I found some information directly from the Canadian Chiropractic Association – so I though why try to re-write something so well written? The following was taken directly from the Canadian Chiropractic Association Website –

“At least 50% of pregnant women will experience back pain, with many suffering from severe discomfort that impacts their activities of daily living. Pregnancy-related back pain can be multi-factorial and rarely only has one cause. Back pain, wrist pain and leg cramps are the most common complaints reported.

The average healthy weight gain is approximately 30 lbs, most of which is around the abdomen adding a significant frontal load. The added weight puts stress on the back, hips, knees and feet/ankles. Additional weight can lead to altered posture and biomechanics as we change the way we sleep, stand, and move during pregnancy. As the baby grows and the uterus expands, the abdominal muscles also stretch and lose their ability to support as they did. The change in posture, shifting forward, may cause pain and discomfort specifically in the lower back.

During the third trimester, levels of the hormone “relaxin” increase and contribute to the loosening of joints in order for the pelvis to accommodate for enlarged uterus, the baby and later birth. However, the loosening of joints can decrease joint stability and further alter posture. Other structures including musculature may be taxed, resulting in a predisposition to pain and injury. This may result in back pain.

Women report pain and discomfort including:

  • Neck pain
  • Low back pain
  • Mid-back pain
  • Pelvic pain and pressure
  • Aching legs and buttocks
  • Peripheral swelling
  • Sciatica or shooting pain down the leg/foot
  • Fatigue and low energy
  • Night-time muscle spasms
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • De Quervain tenosynovitis
  • Sleep disturbances

Studies have shown that manual therapy, including chiropractic, can help decrease pain in pregnancy and labour. Chiropractors can provide safe, effective and drug-free conservative care to relieve pain and improve function during pregnancy and after birth.

 

Reduce back and pelvic pain: Conservative care including spinal manipulation and mobilization of joints and soft tissue therapy can help reduce pain and improve function.

Relieve fatigued, aching muscles: Chiropractic treatment plans can include soft tissue therapy and various modalities including TENS, IFC, and acupuncture among others. Chiropractors can also recommend exercises to help rehabilitate postural changes.

Help prepare for childbirth: A chiropractor can recommend safe, effective exercises and stretches to help prepare your body for the baby’s delivery.

Ensure a faster recovery: As part of a comprehensive plan of management, chiropractic treatment can help manage quicker recovery and address post-natal biomechanical complaints and rehabilitation.”

 

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….