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Wed, Apr

WELLNESS--Chronic pain affects 100 million Americans each year which is more than diabetes, cancer, and heart disease combined. Very often that pain is low back pain. 

What a lot of people don’t realize is that weakness and tightness go hand in hand. Common sense would have us think that along with weakness comes loose flexible muscles, but the opposite is true. The muscles get weak from lack of movement and exercise leading to tight muscles that end up pulling the vertebrae’s out of alignment and causing low back pain. There are other reasons the low back can be painful, and imaging is the best way to know what is causing the pain. There are three steps one can take in order to help alleviate and potentially heal low back pain. 

Step one:

Assess how serious the problem is and see a doctor and get some imaging done. In some cases a simple x-ray may be enough, but know that soft tissue problems don’t show up with x-ray alone. An MRI may be needed. I am a big fan of imaging because no matter how good health care providers may be, no one can see inside the body without the proper diagnostic tools. 

If you see a surgeon for your testing he/she want to perform surgery on your back. While part of staying healthy requires combining western and eastern medicine, look at surgery as a last ditch attempt to get better after all other options have been exhausted. If the doctor wants to do surgery on you it is in your best interest to get a second and maybe even a third opinion before proceeding. 

In addition to more opinions, it would also behoove you to do your research into other people that have had the same surgery performed and read about actual cases and actual outcomes. Be your own primary care provider by researching exhaustively before agreeing to go under the knife. 

Step two:

Assemble your team. For chronic pain you may need more than one healer to help you. Acupuncture and chiropractic are excellent adjuncts to your western medical visits. Many peoples insurance now covers both, but if not, there are student clinics for acupuncture schools that will help to bring the cost of treatment down. If you’re not sure about your coverage call the number on the back of your insurance card to see what kind of coverage you may have. 

Regarding movement it’s important to learn how and what to do to specifically strengthen and add flexibility to the right areas of the body to support the low back while taking the pressure off. If cost for trainers or physical therapists is a limiting factor, finding a good group fitness class or yoga class and talk to an experienced teacher before you start class to get specific guidance on exercises or yoga poses specifically targeted to help alleviate your back pain. I’m not a fan of group classes for people actively in pain unless they talk to the teacher first to let them know your situation. It is possible to make yourself worse with improper movement.  

Step three:

Take action. Many of you have heard that sitting is the new smoking and while I’m not sure sitting is quite that dangerous, there is not doubt that stagnation and lack of movement contribute to low back pain and all other types of pain. Once you know the proper exercises that you need to do and which movements help you, it’s time to start to exercise. Finding a work out buddy that you can walk with or do your exercises with can be helpful for those of you that are less physically inclined. Movement and exercise is a crucial element to any pain reducing regimen and finding that balance of just enough movement without exacerbating the problem can be key. 

Low back pain cuts deep into ones quality of life. With the right plan and the right team in place, there is no reason that low back pain or any other pain needs to dominate your life. Start taking steps today to alleviate your pain so you can get back to life!

 

(Christian Cristiano is an acupuncturist in LA, TV host of Wellness for Realists and writes on wellness regularly for CityWatch. Christian can be reached at 323.935.3420. twitter: @CristianoWFR)

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Many people have heard rumblings about colloidal silver, but it is still unclear for some just what it is and how it works. Colloidal silver kills fungus, bacterium, and viruses by disabling their ability to metabolize oxygen allowing the body to then flush out the toxins once they are killed. 

There are many different brands out there and it is a good idea to do some research on the best ones. Like other supplements, they are not all created equally. Regarding dosage, it is a good idea to speak to your health provider and find out what the best dose is for you. If you have recently been catching a lot of colds or had the flu or needed to take antibiotics for any reason, colloidal silver may be just what you need. It is best to take this with the guidance of a health care provider. 

There is evidence that silver can help boost the strength of antibiotics when taken with them. Diseases like MRSA and other antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria tend to react better when silver is combined with the antibiotics under the supervision of a health care provider. Colloidal silver can also be used for myriad reasons. Among them, common cold, rash, anti-bacterial, wound care, sinus issues, pink eye, and pneumonia. 

One thing to keep in mind if one decides to use silver is that there is a possibility of experiencing what is called the Herxheimer reaction. This is when for a short time the symptoms may seem to worsen and can include headache, rash, and even fever. As the pathogen dies off these symptoms present and can last from a couple of hours up to 10 days. While this period can be very uncomfortable and sometimes feel like a bad flu, it is also indicative that the silver is doing what it is supposed it. If it’s tolerable and your health care provider is one board, it may be a good idea to ride it out and stay on the silver until those symptoms are gone. 

If you think Silver is something that can benefit you, read up on it as much as possible. Find out from your health providers what they think, and as usual, be your own primary care provider. Everyone has an opinion and can give guidance, but at the end of the day you are responsible for your own health and wellness. Feel free to contact me with any questions you may have. 

*Please note that there have been reports of people experiencing side effects from colloidal silver and it is best to talk to your primary care health provider before starting on a course of silver.

 

(Christian Cristiano is an acupuncturist in LA, TV host of Wellness for Realists and writes on wellness regularly for CityWatch. Christian can be reached at 323.935.3420. twitter: @CristianoWFR)

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Everyone wants to get in shape, but what if you’re one of those people that is totally out of shape and hasn’t worked out in months or even years? There is hope. We all get off track, and quite frankly, some people are just not as physically inclined as others. Even since childhood there are those of us that never felt especially excited about gym class in school or any other physical activity. No matter how many times certain people try to get excited about working out, they simply can’t. 

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WELLNESS--Everyone wants to get in shape, but what if you’re one of those people that is totally out of shape and hasn’t worked out in months or even years? There is hope. We all get off track, and quite frankly, some people are just not as physically inclined as others. Even since childhood there are those of us that never felt especially excited about gym class in school or any other physical activity. No matter how many times certain people try to get excited about working out, they simply can’t. 

The good news is you don’t have to love to work out in order to get into better shape. While exercise in some form does need to be a part of your life, it doesn’t need to take center stage. With all the new apps and gizmos available to us these days, strategizing exercise and diet in a well planned thought out way can help to bring up our fitness and wellness levels without cutting into our quality of life. It’s time to make technology your ally. 

Activity trackers like FitBit, Under Armor, Apple watch, are just a few of the many activity trackers available to help us track our calories and the amount of exercise we get. While most doctors and fitness experts still suggest a consistent 15 minutes or more of brisk cardio, sometimes we need to start with less. Simply having this tracker tell you how many steps you take each day can be plenty of motivation to up that number even by a small margin each day until you reach the desired amount of 10,000 steps. 

Using apps like MyFitnessPal, Loseit! or a number of other calorie counting apps, we are able to count the amount of calories we consume on a daily basis as well. While it may sound tedious, these apps make it simple. In the beginning there is some data entry required, but most of us don’t stray that much day to day from what we eat, so within a few days the majority of the entries are repeats and therefore already in the system. For packaged foods, the apps generally access a barcode scanner so one simply has to scan the package and then enter how many servings were consumed. 

I find that with my patients, simply getting them to track their caloric intake each day will usually shift what and how much they are eating. Approaching it as simply an experiment can be helpful. You can go into it telling yourself you will only enter what you eat in order to see how many calories and what you are eating each day. It is OK not to have any plans to make changes to your diet; simply enter what you eat so that you can get a clear picture of your daily intake and needs. More often than not, these people end up eating less and making healthier choices simply by becoming aware of the calorie intake. 

If you’re not a fitness person and if you don’t enjoy sweating, there is hope! Start by adding an activity tracker and an app to count calories. Simply track your steps and your calories. Think of it as a fun experiment and see what happens from there!

 

(Christian Cristiano is an acupuncturist in LA, TV host of Wellness for Realists and writes on wellness regularly for CityWatch. Christian can be reached at 323.935.3420. twitter: @CristianoWFR)

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WELLNESS--An over the counter painkiller is often classified as Non Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug (NSAID). These include but are not limited to aspirin, Advil, Aleve, Motrin, Celebrex, and Feldene. More than 30 million people use NSAIDs every day and they account for 60% of the over the counter analgesic drugs sold. Like most drugs, there can be side effects including cardiovascular events, blood pressure increases, congestive heart failure and gastro-intestinal issues. 

According to a study put out by the national institute of health, specific gastro-intestinal issues include ulcer, perforation and bleeding. About 2% of NSAID users equaling roughly 600,000 people experience these serious complications during use, and according to the study risk of ulcer increases up to five-fold for NSAID users compared to non-users. 

With this ulcer risk comes the risk of bleeding, and in some cases perforation and even death. The FDA puts the number of annual deaths by NSAIDs at 4,626 while other estimates put it closer to 16,500.  Regardless of the correct number, too many people are unaware of the dangers of these seemingly harmless drugs. The pathomechanism for the damage caused consists of the drug being absorbed across the gastric mucosa and get trapped in those cells. The gastric ulcers follow and over time perforation, bleeding and death can occur. 

Keep in mind that this is usually with chronic ongoing use of NSAIDs and does not usually occur with the infrequent user. Because these drugs are sold over the counter and taken so liberally, most people are not aware of they can be dangerous and even fatal. 

When it comes to NSAIDs, if one feels they need to take them I tell my patients to try to take them early on for an injury or sprain along with lots of ice on the injury. If one can get the inflammation down within the first few days of injury, one will be less likely to have to deal with chronic pain and therefore chronic use of NSAID’s. These over the counter medications, like so many others are not meant for long term use but rather short periods of time to get over the initial pain and inflammation of a new injury or short illness like aches and pains. 

For longer-term relief from chronic pain there are diets that can be incorporated and other less damaging supplements and even drugs. People with chronic inflammation for example have many other options besides NSAIDs for relief and will be well served to learn about anti-inflammatory diets and drugs like CBD and THC to help with pain and inflammation over the longer term.

 

(Christian Cristiano is an acupuncturist in LA, TV host of Wellness for Realists and writes on wellness regularly for CityWatch. Christian can be reached at 323.935.3420. twitter: @CristianoWFR)

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WELLNESS—There’s no turning back. The Holidays are here. Stress less, is my advice for this harried … and hurried … season. Here’s how: 

  1. Don’t force yourself to buy the perfect gift. For starters if you’re not sure if someone is going to buy you a gift or not, and you feel that if they do you want to return the favor, just ask! Call or text your friends and family and be direct. Ask if they were hoping to exchange gifts and suggest that if they are you just get each other something small. Avoiding big crowds and busy malls during this time of year is a great way to lower your stress and save time. The best gift you can give yourself right now is more down time. 
  1. Continue to work out. It’s rather easy during this time of year to skip the workouts. One of the keys to managing stress and staying healthy during the winter is to continue to exercise. We don’t need those long intense workouts like we do in the summer when there is more light and warmth. A shorter work out where we simply get our heart rates up for 20 to 30 minutes and lift some light weights should do the trick to keep you slim and produce the healthy chemicals needed to manage stress. 
  1. Don’t isolate. While it is always tempting for those of us that are single to say no to social events and parties, try to attend a healthy amount of events. This is obviously a subjective thing, but you know when you are isolating and staying home too much. The social anxiety of all the parties can seem overwhelming, and while knowing when to say no is crucial, spending time with people we love will help us stay happy during the holidays. 
  1. Flip the script on the diet. Every year around the holidays the junk food and sugar is flowing. It’s a great time of year to practice your will and keep the junk food intake to a minimum or try to eliminate it all together. If we start working on saying no during the holidays, it will make us that much stronger and more likely to reach our health and wellness goals in 2017. I find that firming up my commitments to myself in the winter helps ensure that I am in great shape come spring and summer. 
  1. Use common sense while driving. Regardless of the known dangers of driving under the influence, every year around the holidays more people are killed in motor vehicle accidents and arrested for DUI’s than any other time of year. Be sure to take a car service or have a dedicated driver when you attend parties and plan ahead so you don’t get stuck in a situation that you will regret later. 

However you celebrate this season, I wish you happiness and GOOD HEALTH. My holiday gift to you is this advice: Adhere to my five tips. Stress less and enjoy this special time of the year.

 

(Christian Cristiano is an acupuncturist in LA, TV host of Wellness for Realists and writes on wellness regularly for CityWatch. Christian can be reached at 323.935.3420. twitter: @CristianoWFR)

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