Dysmenorrhea is a condition that affects 50% of women and is characterized by pain in the lower abdomen which is caused by intense uterine contractions. The pain can be sharp or achy in nature and starts just before or after menstrual flow begins, often peaking with the heaviest blood flow of the period. The condition can either be a symptom of other pelvic pathologies, endometriosis, and adenomyosis, for example, in which case it is considered secondary dysmenorrhea. If the condition starts six month to a year after menarche and there are no other pelvic pathologies present, it is considered primary dysmenorrhea.
It is not yet clear what causes primary dysmenorrhea, but the pain is the result of hyper-production of uterine prostaglandins. These prostaglandins cause the uterus to have higher amplitude contractions and are at the highest levels at the beginning of the period. Their increased production is caused by the rapid drop in progesterone levels just before the period begins.
Western medical treatment includes pain management through the use of NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) like ibuprofen, which blocks the production of the prostaglandins thus stopping the pain. If the NSAIDs do not work on their own, then oral birth control is often added to help manage the condition. However, prolonged use of birth control to treat primary dysmenorrhea is one of the parameters that might lead to a later diagnosis of endometriosis. With this in mind – coupled with the effect that NSAID use can have on the digestive system – finding other ways to treat dysmenorrhea can be helpful to avoid possible future health issues.
Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has been used successfully for centuries to treat women’s issues, including dysmenorrhea. From a TCM perspective, there are different causes or patterns of imbalance in the body that lead to dysmenorrhea. Once the correct pattern of imbalance is identified by the practitioner, the appropriate acupuncture points and herbal formulas can be prescribed to start treating the root of the problem and thus alleviate the pain. With this treatment, the focus is placed on finding the underlying cause and treating it instead of simply trying to manage the symptom.
Acupuncture treatments are usually on a schedule of once a week for the first four to eight weeks and then spaced out once the pain is under control. Herbs would be prescribed on the first or second treatment and modified or adjusted as needed as the underlying pattern progresses. Patients typically take the herbs twice a day and have few side effects, if any at all. The treatment may include dietary changes to bring the body back into balance and avoid any lifestyle choices that may be contributing to the underlying imbalance.
If you have any questions or would like to learn more about how TCM can help you live a healthier life, please contact me
720-297-2622 or email@example.com.
Migraine headaches are very intense and can last from hours to days. They are characterized by a pulsating, stabbing, or throbbing pain that is usually on one side of the head but can be on both. These headaches are usually accompanied by other symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, visual anomalies, and sensitivity to light and sound.
According to the Mayo Clinic, there are four stages to migraine headaches.
Women are more likely than men to suffer from migraines, three times more likely in fact. Approximately 10% of the world's population suffers from migraine headaches.
There is no cure and exactly what causes them is still a mystery. Triggers that can cause an attack vary from person to person so most people that suffer from migraines are encouraged to keep a journal to figure out what their specific triggers may be. Treatment is focused on decreasing both the frequency and intensity of occurrences.
Acupuncture can help in both decreasing the number of episodes and the intensity experienced during a migraine. Traditional Chinese medicine addresses the body from a holistic perspective. Qi, defined as the life force of living creatures, circulates through the body in a system of meridians that can be affected by inserting small, stainless steel needles into the skin. Many of these meridians end or begin on the head. Pain, as defined by Chinese medicine, occurs when the circulation of qi and blood are compromised and do not move through the body properly.
Acupuncture stimulates the movement of qi and blood through the meridians, thus relieving the pain and other symptoms related to migraines. In addition, over time, acupuncture also addresses the underlying imbalances in physiology that are at the root cause of the migraines.
What do the scientific studies say about treating migraines with acupuncture? A Cochrane Library systematic review that was published in 2016 and included 22 clinical trials and 4,895 participants concluded, "Acupuncture reduced migraine frequency significantly more than drug prophylaxis after treatment."
In addition, an article published in 2012 in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, which included the analysis of multiple controlled studies, concluded, "A sound body of evidence exists supporting the use of acupuncture for migraine prophylaxis. Acupuncture is at least as effective as prophylactic drug therapy for migraine and it is safe, long-lasting and cost-effective. Although there seems to be little difference between the two, Chinese acupuncture points might be marginally more effective than non-Chinese points."
To learn more about traditional Chinese medicine, the University of Michigan offers a good overview, and the University of Minnesota details how organ systems work according to Chinese medicine.
If you have any questions about how acupuncture can help you or a loved one struggling with migraines, please contact me.
Jamie Jolley is the solo practitioner at Balance Studio in Denver.
According to the Center for Disease Control ,15.3% of people over the age of 18 years old in the United States report having a migraine within the previous 3 months. They are considered one of the main reasons for disability worldwide. Migraines are a neurological disease with symptoms which include: debilitating throbbing headaches, nausea, visual effects like aura, sensitivity to light and/or sound, and vomiting (Mayo Clinic). Some people have episodic headaches which means they experience them less than 15 days a month. Chronic sufferers unfortunately experience more than 15 days of headaches a month.
This condition can be isolating and often misunderstood by others largely due to the fact that outwardly the person with the migraine appears healthy and the symptoms are not visible to others. The triggers that cause migraines vary from person to person and it can be hard to pinpoint what they might be. (For more detailed information on common triggers, follow this link to the American Migraine Foundation.)
From a Chinese medical perspective migraine disorders usually involve treatment of the Liver and Spleen meridians. When the Liver Yang is overactive, or the Liver Yin is to deficient to subdue the Yang, it rises to the head, obstructing and interfering with the sensory orifices. This is what causes the sensitivity of light and sound as well as the visual aura and pain in the head. The Liver Yang also overacts on the Stomach and Spleen, causing the symptoms of nausea and vomiting. Treatment focuses on reducing the Liver Yang, nourishing the Liver Yin, and supporting the function of the Spleen and Stomach. In addition, lifestyle recommendations can be made to the client to help identify triggers and support the prevention of attacks.
There is no cure for migraines but acupuncture is an effective help to reduce the number of episodes and improve the quality of life for the individual.
Chronic back pain affects thousands of people in the United States every day. According to the American Chiropractic Association, lower back pain is the leading cause of disability. Up to 80% of the population will suffer from some form of back pain in their lives. In addition, back pain can affect people of all ages not just those of more advanced years. Finding ways to manage this chronic pain can be challenging, especially if medications are trying to be reduced or avoided altogether. Thankfully, acupuncture can help.
Acupuncture helps relieve back pain in different ways. First, acupuncture helps the body to release chemicals such as endorphins and opioid peptides. Endorphins are natural painkillers produced by the body. Opioid peptides have an analgesic effect on the body and help considerably to alleviate pain. Second, acupuncture increases the amount of stimulation required by the nervous system to stimulate the nerves which register pain. Finally, it helps to release tight muscle tissue and stimulate circulation.
There are other modalities that can be used in addition to simple acupuncture to increase results such as cupping and electro- stimulation. Cupping increases circulation and aids in releasing the connective tissues which allows for a deeper release of the musculature. Electro-stimulation can be added to the needles to increase the benefits. This stimulation is gentle and not painful. It also helps to release the muscles involved. Please follow any of the links provided for more in-depth information on any of the topics covered in this blog post or give me a call and book an appointment to experience acupuncture firsthand.
Tight hips? If you have them they can lead to lower back pain and sometimes knee pain as well. Try some simply massage and Pilates tips to help get your pelvis back on track. Make sure you are stretching the outside of your legs, also known as your IT band. This band of connective tissue provides the hip and knee stability and becomes tight when ever it is overused. This over use could be from working out a lot, or imbalances in your upper leg muscles that the IT band might be compensating for. You can simply stretch it or use a foam roller to "roll" to out. Remember to also stretch your hip and leg muscles to help keep everything in balance and flexible after your workouts. If you would like more information about how to stretch or strengthen these areas to help with hip or lower back pain visit our Contact Us page and email us or give me a call at 720-297-2622.
How do I know if I have a good Pilates instructor?
Most people don’t realize that there is no legislation or regulatory agencies overseeing Pilates instruction. That means anyone, and I do mean anyone can hang a shingle and say they are a Pilates instructor. So how do you know if you have a good one? You can start by asking a few simple questions:
Do you have any formal training?
How many hours did you study before you received your certification?
Do you have liability insurance?
Are you a part of any associations such as the PMA (Pilates Method Alliance)?
What is your training in human anatomy?
Do you or have you ever had a mentor?
These questions are a good place to start. It is great if your instructor has completed formal training, but not all programs are created equal. Some are short and include only mat work. Others require the teacher to have taught many hours before they are released into the wild to get paid for their trade.
You want an instructor that understands movement. Knowing human anatomy is very helpful here. You also want someone who has taken the time to understand what each exercise has to offer, how it teaches the body to move differently, and how they can build on one another. Basically one exercise helps prepare you for another, deepening your practice and helping you to a healthier more effective movement pattern. This is why having a mentor or having had one at some point is helpful. A more experienced instructor can help a new instructor understand the method more deeply.
I hope this helps. Happy hunting for a great instructor, there are a lot of quality ones out there.
Where you feel pain may not be the origin of the problem...*
it's true. For example, if you feel pain in your upper back and/or neck the real problem may be originating from your chest and the front of your neck. Ideally the skeletal system should hold up the human form, at least when we have proper posture. For most of us however, this is not the case. As we get older most of us have a head that is moved slightly forward of center, due to years of working at a desk, driving a car, holding babies etc. The human head is on average 12 to 16 pounds, which is a bit of weight. When the head shifts forward the skeletal system needs a little help holding it up and the body recruits the muscles in the back of the neck and the upper back. Over time these muscles become tight and "knot " up. This restricts blood flow from going in and out of the tissue. As a result very little new oxygen gets in and toxins aren't moving out very well. Basically creating discomfort and over time pain. So although it feels great when the upper back and neck is worked directly (which is part of treatment to encourage circulation to the area) the front of the body should also be addressed. Opening up the front of the neck, chest and often even the hip flexors can provide a lot of relief for the affected area. In addition stretches for the front as well as strengthening the back with extension exercises will help maintain a better posture and provide the client with relief for longer periods of time between massages. A great way to improve your posture, not just for your upper back but also for all areas of the body including the low back is establishing a Pilates practice. To learn more or start your journey to a whole new body call me and together we will get you started 720-297-2622.
*This blog only addresses one possible cause for upper back and neck pain. It is always a good idea to consult a doctor particularly if your pain does not get better with massage, stretching, and exercise.
Do you suffer from headaches? Perhaps neck and upper back pain too? Although headaches can be caused from many conditions sometimes a good old fashion tension headache can improve by releasing a few key areas. Try these two simply things to help release those tense muscles. First, the hair pull. Gently take a handful of your hair in one hand very close to your scalp and make a soft fist. This should pull the hair a bit which will release the connective tissue between your scalp and skull. If you can handle more pull try twisting your fist either clockwise or counter clockwise a bit. Repeat these steps starting from one side of your head and working your way around the entire scalp. This should provide some relief by loosening the connective tissue around the skull and possibly into the neck. Second, the base of the skull release. Place your hands on either side of your head with your finger tips pointing upwards towards the ceiling. This should easily position your thumbs at the base of your skull. Place them right next to each other and apply gentle pressure inwards and upwards. Hold and take deep breaths until you feel a sense of release under your thumbs. Then move them out and repeat. Do this until you have worked your way to the outer most part of the skull. Repeat the whole process if you like. This should help release the small muscles at that attach from your skull to your first and second vertebra (the atlas and axis) of your spine. These little muscles are involved in the reflex we each have to keep our eyes on the horizon, no matter where our posture might place our head. This means that the muscles that run down your back and along your spine are hard wired into these little muscles, so that they can respond quickly to what your eyes tell them to. By releasing them you send a message to all the other muscles, starting a chain reaction of relaxation. Want to know more, or need a bit more release from the tension. Call me to schedule a massage 720-297-2622.
Did you know that Colorado is so dry that we go through a cup of water a day simply by breathing? That's right a full cup. Furthermore if you are over the age of forty your body begins to lose the ability to let you know you are thirsty, which means you don't feel thirsty as often and are not drinking as much as you should. As a result we have a lot of dehydrated folks in this state. Dehydration can cause your muscles to cramp and it makes your connective tissue more sticky, which means it limits the muscle's ability to move. In general is just means unhappy muscles which are more prone to injury. So do yourself a favor with each meal make sure you drink a glass of water that way you are sure to get at least three more glasses then you normally do each day.
Born and raised in Colorado, Jamie Jolley received her massage certification in 2001 and her lymphatic drainage certification in 2012 from the Colorado School of Healing Arts in Lakewood. She received her Pilates certification through the Pilates of Cherry Creek studio in 2005. Jamie's passion is helping people feel happier, healthier and stronger through both massage therapy and Pilates training.