Acupuncture: A Natural Form of Pain Relief

Three ways that Acupuncture has changed my life for the better.

In addition to my Chiropractor in Eagle River helping me with my chronic pain from CRPS, he also thought I might benefit from acupuncture. Referring me out to a local acupuncturist, I was a bit skeptical and nervous at the idea of tiny needles all over my body providing me pain relief instead of causing it. Regardless, I was desperate for longer lasting pain relief so I gave it a try.

While acupuncture might not be for everyone, I would certainly recommend looking into it to see if it might help with any ailment a person might have.  Acupuncture is based on the model of treating the entire body, not just single symptoms. My acupuncturist was very thorough from the beginning, getting a full medical history before beginning treatment. It did not take long for me to see and feel the benefits of acupuncture.  Here are the three main ways that it helped me:

Sleep: The first thing I noticed after my first acupuncture session is that I was exhausted. That first night after treatment I almost immediately went to sleep, feeling totally relaxed and momentarily pain free and sleeping better than I had in months.

Mood: After I began sleeping more regularly, and getting more acupuncture treatments I noticed as I began to feel better mentally, enjoying social events again and making new friends at school. Keeping a positive mood with chronic pain is never easy, so having some natural help is really nice.

Pain Relief: Most importantly, acupuncture is a great way to gain pain relief, either from my CRPS, menstrual cramps or headaches acupuncture always left me feeling refreshed or in less pain. After many months of regular treatment, I was almost completely pain free!

Check back next time to learn about a topical alternative to Icy Hot for sore muscles.

Mom’s Much Needed Massage

Three reasons why getting a massage should be on every Mom’s Holiday to-do list.

While we all enjoy the holidays because we get to spend time with families, go to festive parties, and buy gifts for our loved ones, the holidays in Alaska also means harsh unpredictable weather and scary driving conditions. Every year my mom’s daily commute to work worries everyone in the family as she avoids near accidents again and again. In addition to battling the roads through the winter and dealing with minimal daylight and freezing temperatures, my mom typically handles the holiday preparations for my whole family.

One year I watched as my mom hosted a particularly large family Christmas, becoming so exhausted and stressed out that by the time Christmas actually rolled around, she didn’t enjoy the time she had organized to spend with her loved ones. After that, I went to my dad and told him that it was time for a change. Mom being this stressed out around the holidays is not healthy and takes away from spending time with family. We both agreed that she needed an outlet around the holidays where she wouldn’t have to worry, something that would make her feel good and refreshed. It was then that we decided to begin an annual pre-holiday present for my mom in the form of three sixty-minute massages at her favorite massage center in Eagle River.  We decided that this was the best possible gift for her because of three main reasons:

  1. You need to be relaxed to be a good party guest or host. When my mom gets over tired from working and holiday planning, she begins to get stressed out and once that happens nothing is as productive as it could be. Being over tired and stressed out makes anyone a bad party guest or host. You need to be fresh and ready to help spread the holiday cheer, either at your house or friends. Some massage therapy will help my mom relax so that throwing a big Christmas party isn’t a daunting task.
  2. A hot stone massage, on a nice warm massage table will melt away all your last minute holiday shopping worries. The one thing my mom raves the most about when she does get a massage is how she always leaves feeling warm- which can be hard to come by in the middle of an Alaskan winter. She loves the hot stones that her massage therapist occasionally uses, and she cherishes the moment when she climbs onto the massage table and the table is always toasty warm and cozy.
  3. Pain relief is important for those long shopping days and late nights wrapping presents. My mom works long hours on her feet and in an office chair. From her full time job to being a landlord and working in her art studio, she is always on the go; she never gives her body enough rest. When she gets over tired and her back begins to hurt, everything she is doing seems to get harder and more annoying. So we know that a good massage to relieve some of that pain will only help her as she continues this year’s holiday preparations.

Check back next week to find out how my chiropractor’s preventative treatments saved me from an expensive surgery.







Swimmer’s Shoulder: How to Stay in the Water and Out of Pain

Five ways your chiropractor can help ease the shoulder pain swimmers often feel from overuse without taking time off practice.

As most athletes know, with every sport comes the risk of injury. In the case of long time competitive swimmers like myself, that injury typically has something to do with our shoulders, and the fact that we are constantly over using them. Additionally, most serious athletes will do whatever it takes to keep any injury from getting in the way of their performance. As a ten-year competitive swimmer, with a few injuries and medals to prove it I have learned a few ways to help ease the symptoms of a typical swimmer’s shoulder.

One day my shoulder began to throb with each stroke I took. The pain seemed to intensify each day, eventually lasting through the night, disrupting my sleep.  Fearing a career ending injury like torn rotator cuff, I quickly confirmed with my doctor that it was not seriously injured, just overused. It was then suggested that I take up to six months off of swimming to let me shoulders recover.  As swimming was my entire life, and how I planned to pay for college (with a scholarship) I flat out refused and insisted on the opinion from our Chiropractor in Eagle River.

As it turns out, our Chiropractor is very experienced in treating sports injuries. He had five treatments that helped me keep swimming and eventually onto receive swimming scholarship for college.

  1. Therapeutic Ultrasound feels so nice and decreases pain.
    The heat from this machine not only feels great in the bitter Alaska winters, but it also helps reduce the pain by increasing blood flow to the sore and stiff area.
  2. Ice after every practice to keep the shoulder(s) as calm as possible.
    I mean I knew ice helped, but I didn’t know how much it could help calm my shoulders after every practice. My chiropractor had all these different types of wraps to help keep the ice packs on my shoulder so that I could still move around while doing this treatment.
  3. A good massage is what every athlete deserves.
    Loosening sore and stiff muscles is a must for athletes to keep going. I would get weekly massages before each weekend swim meet to keep my body relaxed and happy. The warm massage table and calming essential oils used during each massage made it such a treat, especially in the winter!
  4. Frequent Chiropractic Adjustments keep the body aligned and happy.
    After every massage, I would get a chiropractic adjustment to realign the bones, muscles and tendons in my shoulders, neck and back. Preventing exercising with an out of whack body reduces the risk of making the injury worse.
  5. Stretching before, during and after every practice is key to staying competitive.
    This last one is a must. Working with my chiropractor and massage therapist on what stretches would best benefit my body and shoulder before during and after a work out was the key to keeping me in the water and gaining pain relief.

Check back next week to find out how my mom uses massage therapy as stress relief.



Acne and Anxiety in Teenagers: Help!

How Essential Oils can help your teenager sleep better and save you money on expensive acne treatments.

One of the many benefits to being the youngest in a family of four kids is that I was able to grow up watching each of my brothers brutally make it through puberty. I was able to learn from their triumphs and struggles and apply them to my own life. In particular I remember two of the major and constant battles each of my brothers had to deal with were the anxiety that was keeping them up at night and the acne that was only causing more stress and anxiety. I watched my mother get my oldest brother countless acne treatments with no success and be seemingly helpless to console him through the teenage social and emotional torments, until she finally turned to our family Chiropractor in Eagle River to ask some questions about what she should do, aside from schedule him a nice massage to relax.

Despite my oldest brothers reluctance to go to a doctor for his “feelings” and his “looks”, my mother made him go and at least get a massage. In addition to scheduling the massage, the doctor recommended that they talk with the massage therapist about what essential oils might benefit him. He explained that essential oils have many benefits such as easing symptoms caused by anxiety, as well as acne. So after my his massage and talking with his massage therapist he came home with three different kinds of essential oils and an oil diffuser to use as treatment for his acne and anxiety. After testing out some different blends and types of oils we found that the following essential oils were really helpful for acne and anxiety for all of us kids as we grew up and went through the brutal stages of puberty:

Serenity and Lavender Essential Oils are great to help soothe anxiety.

Either of these oils is great to keep on you at all times either in your bag or in the car. Apply as generously as needed to hands, neck and ears and inhale. It can also be inhaled directly from the bottle or a diffuser. My brothers and I found that we slept much better on high-anxiety nights such as before a test or sport competition if we used the diffuser at bedtime.

Melaleuca and Clear Skin Essential Oils are great acne treatments.

These two oils can be used topically, generally one at a time. My brothers have found the most success from the Clear Skin oil, while I find that Melaleuca oil is the best match for my skin type and really helps reduce the redness of my acne within one day.

Check back next week to hear about how Physical Therapy helped me keep swimming despite my over-extended left shoulder problems.

My Fathers Back Pain

Keep your reluctant, hardworking family man on his feet.

My entire life my father has been a figure of strength and masculinity. At six foot five inches tall and 230 pounds, with one full beard and two callused hands he embodies the hardworking Alaskan family man more than anyone I have ever met before.  As a lifetime Alaskan I have noticed a few similarities between many of the Alaskan men that fit my fathers description. Aside from the Carhartt’s and work boots, most of these men carry a heavy weight not on their shoulders, but on their bodies. This weight is from many years of manual labor and constantly demanding too much from their bodies. While most of these men have well paying jobs with health insurance, for some reason the mere fact that their family always comes first means that they always come last. It seems their constant and only motivation is their family’s happiness and wellbeing, so much so to the point that they forget about their own.

On my fathers recent time off of the North Slope, I noticed that some things about him seemed off. He was taking longer to get out of his chair, work around the house seemed to be more taxing, and what troubled me the most was how much he seemed to lean his body on the wall as he walked down a hallway. Convinced this was more than me just being the family worrier, I decided to talk to my dad to tell him why I think he should go to our chiropractor in Eagle River to see what is going on with his back pain. Aside from gaining pain relief, the reasons I used to convince him to go are:

  1. Remind him he has a growing family to take care of.
    With four growing Grandchildren, he needs to be able to keep up with them to be apart of their lives.  He loves his Grandkids and lives near them so that he can see them almost everyday. Once I pointed out that he wont be able to wrestle with them or carry them around if his back is hurting he saw a good reason to go to our Eagle River Chiropractor.
  1. He will need his body healthy and happy to run his business.
    My father recently started a HydroSeeding business that requires manual labor, heavy lifting and the use of heavy machinery. Without a healthy spine and body, operating this business will become nearly impossible.
  1. If he is suffering, his marriage is likely going to suffer too.
    My parents love to travel, throw parties and go to social events. With my fathers new lack of energy and motivation to do much of anything other than the necessities in life, they haven’t been able to do all the fun things that they love to do together on his time off of the slope. He loves taking my mom out to dinner, to concerts and on vacation so the idea that his back pain could keep him from all of that, convinced him to make the appointment and get his back pain checked out.

Check back next week to learn how to help your moody brother with bad acne!

Through a Daughters Eyes: Wellness Tips for My Family

Like many Alaskans, I grew up with a big family in a small town. When you, your parents, and your many siblings all live in a small town in Alaska, their problems are always your problems. You take each other’s personal wellbeing very seriously; if mom is unhappy, everyone is unhappy and if grandma is sick, everyone is pitching in to make sure she has what she needs.

Alaska is one big playground beckoning to residents of all ages to come out and play year round. However, with every bit of fun and games come the risk and the need to make serious, confident decisions to assure my family’s wellness. Being raised by a tough Alaskan family, and as the youngest in the family, I have observed, aided and been the subject of many family wellness decisions. Along the way, I have gained a few tips and ideas of family wellness that I am going to share over the next few weeks.

My Grandmothers Hip

Does your Grandmother have burning pain in her back, hip and leg?
It could be sciatica and it is easily treatable!

For years, my grandmother worked on her feet as a cook in our family restaurant and for years she has complained about pain in her leg, hip and back. Now retired and living a much more sedentary lifestyle, the pain in her leg, hip and back has remained a constant problem. Finally, my mother insisted that she go to our family chiropractor in Eagle River to get a professional assessment of her pain. As it turns out, my grandmother is suffering from sciatic nerve pain, also known as sciatica. The nerve becomes inflamed and painful for many different reasons ranging from a herniated disc to a muscle strain. Sciatica causes sharp tingling and burning pain in the low back and down the leg making it hard to sit, stand or walk. Fortunately, it is easily treatable.

Trying to avoid pain medications or invasive procedures, my Grandmother asked her Chiropractor for alternative treatment options. Since my Grandmother lives in a rural town, in addition to the few treatment options offered at the clinic, the doctor gave her some options to get pain relief at home.

  • Chiropractic care- when the spine is misaligned it can cause some serious back pain and sciatica pain. Manipulation and adjustments to the spine will increase spine health and help my grandmother get some pain relief.
  • Massage therapy – many forms of massage ranging from hot stone to deep tissue can help relax tight and sore muscles and increase blood circulation. This is something my grandmother took full advantage of at our Chiropractor in Eagle River while she was visiting us.
  • Heat/Ice – the doctor suggested that my grandmother use heat and ice packs on her back and hip where the pain is greatest. The heat relaxes tight muscles and the ice reduces inflammation in hot spots.
  • Physical Therapy/ Stretching – before she flew home, the doctor taught my grandmother a few easy stretches she can do on her own.
    • Deep Thigh Stretch: Lay down on your back; bend knees with feet flat on the floor. Lift right leg and cross it over your left leg so that your right ankle is over your left knee. Pull your left thigh towards your chest and hold for 20-30 seconds and alternate sides.
    • Seated Hip Stretch: Sit on the floor with both legs stretched out flat and straight. Cross your right leg over your straightened left leg. Keeping your back straight, brace your left elbow against your right knee pushing against each other. Hold this pose for 20-30 seconds and alternate sides.
    • Knee to Chest stretch: Laydown on your back with legs flat on the floor. Lift one knee up and hug it towards your chest. Hold this pose for 20-30 seconds and alternate sides.
    • Lower Back stretch: Laydown on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Slowly lower one leg to one side as far as comfortable. Hold this pose for 20-30 seconds and alternate sides.

Check back next week to get some tips on how to get a busy hard working Alaskan man to take care of his sore body from years of manual labor.