A patient came in today with lower back pain. When she got onto the table, I saw this familiar pattern: Take a look at her ankles. Before I started work, both of them looked like the “before” (left) side. This tendency for the foot to turn in is called “ankle supination.” It can be caused by many things, but in her case she had some fascial adhesions on the medial (inside) ankle.
The way our feet strike the ground affects the entire chain … the ankle, the knee, the hips, the back. In extreme cases, a dysfunctional gait can even affect your neck! I knew I needed to address her ankle supination for long-term back improvement. Having canted ankles can also contribute to more foot movement inside the shoe and create blisters / calluses.
After acupuncture to treat her back pain, we did some medical massage. I reset the the function of her back muscles and finished with some myofascial release on the medial ankles. After I worked on the left, the difference was so striking I wanted to share it. Of course after I snapped the evidence pic, I went on to correct the right ankle, too.
When she stood up, she felt good, but a little unsteady. This is normal – she was used to the adhesions doing the work of stabilizing for her. I instructed her to go for a little walk. Now that the musculoskeletal system is corrected, light movement will provide feedback between the brain and muscles. They will reintegrate, and start doing the supporting they’ve been neglecting. Typically, at the end of this walk my patients tell me they feel terrific!
Sit or lie down and take a look at how your feet are aligned at rest. Do they curve in (ankle supination)? Out (ankle pronation)? Or maybe just one is crooked? If the answer to any of those is yes, come see me, and let me help you straighten out your gait! :)
Purely coincidentally, I’ve had two patients in the past two days with the exact same complaint: Lightheadedness / confusion / disassociation from the body. One had gone to get an MRI and X- rays, but everything came back fine. One had severe neck pain, one didn’t.
Both had had dental work recently. Imagine lying back at an awkward angle for a long time, while tense…. Sure enough, both had upper cervical (neck) vertebrae out of place. The bones were cutting off the blood supply to the brain!
I treated both with acupuncture and medical massage, relaxing the muscles and gently easing the vertebrae back into place. Both patients reported instant improvement. Please remember this next time you have a headache / confusion following dental work, or any other stress on your neck.
Last weekend was a full two days of continuing ed – 5 classes! Two were based in Chinese philosophy: Ghost points (used here to treat intrusive thoughts, or “haunting” memories) and Korean 4 needle technique, which is based on the elements. Those two weren’t really clicking with me, but I thoroughly enjoyed the three on Sunday. One covered the energetics of food, and how to adjust your ingredients to match your health needs and the seasons. One covered important legal aspects of running a practice (HIPAA, security, malpractice, etc). But the best one covered my favorite topic of all – the nervous system. Keep an eye out for a followup post that will explain in detail, but the short version is this: In chronic pain conditions, the brain thinks you are being continually damaged, and amplifies its reporting of pain above what’s physically happening in your body. By understanding the how and why of this, we can stop the ramping up and quiet the alarm bells. This both reduces the amount of pain you perceive in the moment, and allows the movement you need to heal. I’m really excited about incorporating this into both my practice and my personal life.
I’ve put this off for a long time… I’ve only raised my rates once (6 years ago) since I started practicing 15 years ago. I prefer to stay accessible to *all* people, but my rent keeps going up and my student loans are still horrific. So, starting July 1st, my new rates (which remain on the low end for my industry) will be as follows:
An hour of acupuncture and medical massage: $100
4 pack of hour sessions: $360 ($40 off)
A half hour of acupuncture OR medical massage: $60
5-pack of half hours: $270 ($30 off)
Birthday hours will retain their $20 discount, for $80. Smoking cessation and Returning Veteran treatments will still be free.
Any packages purchased at the old rates will be honored. In fact, feel free to stock up before July 1st, if you like. Thank you, and I look forward to serving you all for the next 15 years!
Explaining Nightshade sensitivities to busy waitstaff can be a nightmare… so I made these handy cards. This way they can bring one back to the kitchen for the chef to review. I’m not going to say they work perfectly – I still get cherry tomatoes in my salads! – but they definitely help.
Print these out on card stock and keep a few in your wallet. Bon appetit!
I’ve talked about fascia before in this blog, but I wanted to share this video: It explains the work I do beautifully. It’s so frustrating to me that fascia is unknown by average people, and ignored by so many types of healthcare practitioners. It’s ESSENTIAL in understanding biomechanical dysfunction and healing.
Once I bought a rotisserie chicken from a regular grocery store. As I was taking it apart, I was stunned at how bound up the bird was, compared to the free-range chickens I was used to. A lifetime of forced inactivity had created fascial adhesions all over – you know, that white sheeting? The muscles were all shrink-wrapped in place. “This poor chicken needed a massage!” I told Robert. I felt so bad for it. Just another lesson on how important light, frequent movement is for our bodies.
Connective tissue / fascia (white) and muscle fibers (tan)
Tight fascia will pull on our muscles and bones, preventing free movement and potentially causing misalignments. In severe cases, it can constrict nerve and blood vessel function, creating swelling, pain, or numbness & tingling.
For hard-to-reach areas, you can use a foam roller to soften the adhesions. I advise people to use it against a wall, rather than lying down on it, because you can control the pressure better. Remember you do NOT want to cause intense pain – that will spark an alarm response. The body will think you have a new injury and will send sticky connective tissue to glue up whatever is torn or bleeding – which means the adhesions you just broke up will just reform themselves. It’s best to use the roller gently, then move. Go for a walk or do your usual workout. Movement will help release those weakened adhesions.
GREAT NEWS! At the office, in addition to my usual high-potency arnica for bruises, and anti-inflammatory spray (great for arthritis, sunburn, etc) I will have CBD salve! I did a lot of research and gave samples to patients before deciding on a brand, and I really like this one, from Frogsong. It’s CBD from hemp, no THC, so you won’t get high and it won’t show up on drug tests. It’s completely legal in all 50 states, so you can take it on road trips. I’ve been getting strongly positive responses from my test cases, especially for nerve pain (neuropathy, neuralgia, shingles, sciatic pain, etc).
The CBD oil is in a base of shea butter, coconut oil, argan oil (a Moroccan nut), sweet almond oil, beeswax, and essential oils. Ingredients are sustainably grown, non-GMO, preservative free, gluten free, cruelty free and packaged in BPA-free containers.
Come on by the clinic if you want to try it!
UPDATE: I now carry two salves. The one listed above is minty and highly moisturizing – great for feet – the other is light and lemony, in an aloe vera gel, and penetrates quickly. I also have their CBD Drops, an oral supplement you can use to help reduce anxiety, etc.
Tinnitus (ringing or roaring in the ears) is one of the few things I can’t reliably treat with acupuncture. It can be mildly irritating or absolutely maddening, depending on the frequency, volume, and pitch.
Here’s a use-at-home method that just requires your hands. I can’t test it personally since I don’t suffer form tinnitus, but two of my friends who do reported this gave them temporary relief. I suspect it has to do with the impact affecting the vagus nerve. Anyway, here’s the video: Good luck!
Explaining your PhD thesis with interpretive dance sounds like a joke, but every year, the American Association for the Advancement of Science hosts the contest and doles out $2500 worth in prizes to the winners in four categories: physics, chemistry, biology and social sciences. This is a lovely visualization of the magic that happens inside us… The others are wonderful, too, and you can see them here.