How to Keep Healthy Back

September 29, 2008

By Dr. Lee June-ho
Contributing Writer

Dr. Lee June-ho A lot of patients come for consultations requesting “what is a good posture for a healthy back?” Natural daily activities require a lot of back motion, leading to a restless lumbar joint condition.

Due to these continuous activities, many people naturally suffer from “discogenic back pain” by degenerative degradation of their intervertebral disc joints along with the aging process.

What has already turned ‘black’ by aging or degeneration cannot be restored to its original ‘white’ or normal with present medical technology.

However, there are measures for the prevention of further damage to discs. Here are some tips for maintaining ‘a good healthy back’ as suggested by the North America Spine Society.

Follow these simple guidelines to keep your back in good shape:

1. Standing: keeping one foot forward of the other, with knees slightly bent, takes the pressure off your low back.

2. Sitting: sitting with your knees slightly higher than your hips provides good low back support.

3. Reaching: stand on a stool to reach things that are above your shoulder level.

4. Moving Heavy Items: pushing is easier on your back than pulling. Use your arms and legs to start the push. If you must lift a heavy item, get someone to help you.

5. Lifting: kneel down on one knee with the other foot flat on the floor as near as possible to the item you are lifting. Lift with your legs, not your back, keeping the object close to your body at all times.

6. Carrying: two small objects (one in either hand) may be easier to handle than one large one. If you must carry one large object, keep it close to your body.

7. Sleeping: sleeping on your back puts 55 lbs. of pressure on your back. Putting a couple of pillows under your knees cuts the pressure in half. Lying on your side with a pillow between your knees also reduces the pressure.

8. Weight Control: additional weight puts a strain on your back. Keep within 10 lbs. of your ideal weight for a healthier back.

9. Quit Smoking: smokers are more prone to back pain than nonsmokers because nicotine restricts the flow of blood to the discs that cushion your vertebrae.

10. Minor Back Pain: treat minor back pain with anti-inflammatories and gentle stretching, followed by an ice pack.

Dr. Lee June-ho is a neurosurgeon at Chungdam Wooridul Hospital.


Do you need surgery for back and neck pain?

September 23, 2008

Neck structureQuestion: Do I need surgery for back and neck pain?

Answer: Do I need surgery for back and neck pain? Most people with back and neck pain do not need surgery. What they need is the correct diagnosis and the correct management. A spine expert is usually needed to make a correct diagnosis. For example, those diagnosed with a lumbar disc herniation should do extension or backward bending exercises. On the other hand, if the diagnosis is lumbar stenosis, or crowding of the nerves in the lower back, extension exercises should be avoided. Nonoperative treatment can include activity modification, physical therapy, oral medications and sometimes injections. The vast majority of people with neck and back pain will respond to these conservative approaches.

Despite conservative treatment, some people will have progressive nerve damage or progressive severe back pain that may require surgery. In these cases, the types of surgery and the technology available is superior to what was available in the past. My mother needed spine surgery approximately 40 years ago. She told me that after her surgery she remained in bed for six months and was turned with a sheet. For that same type of surgery today, patients are out of bed walking the day after surgery and spend approximately three days in the hospital. The right diagnosis and the right management is the key to success in treating back and neck problems.

Tiffany Rogers, M.D., M.P.T. Diplomate, American Board of Orthopedic Surgery;


Back Pain Relief Tip Of The Day: Stretch Your Hamstrings

September 10, 2008

Hamstring_StretchingMany adults complain about lower-back pain.

One cause is tight hamstring muscles.

Here’s a safe, simple way to stretch them. Lie face-up on the floor. Bend your knees keeping your feet on the floor.

Reach under the right knee with both hands and pull your knee toward your chest; hold the stretch for 15–30 seconds.
From this position, loop a towel around the ankle or calf, and extend your leg toward the ceiling.

Keeping your leg straight, slowly pull the towel towards your face. Hold for 15–30 seconds. Switch sides and repeat.

Stretch each leg four–five times, three days per week.

(c) 2008 HealthCalc.Net, Inc. All rights reserved.

The Simple Back Pain Fix

September 8, 2008

Go for a walkThe following is the simplest activity you can do that will help with your back pain. Although the title says «Back Pain Fix», in fact it will not «fix» your back pain; it will however make it easier.

To actually fix or cure your back pain completely and permanently you need to address the 4 main causes of your back pain:


  • tight and weak muscles
  • joint disruption
  • pelvic imbalance

Correct these and your back pain will disappear totally and forever!

The best activity though to help ease your back pain is to walk – but walk with a difference…

I’m sure you know, if not then it is true, that your joints move when you breathe and also when you walk. Going for a walk therefore helps to get your joints moving and helps to ease muscle tension as well.

When you walk though, you should relax. Remove all the mental pressures of life. If you have an iPod, mp3 player etc, then use it. Place some songs on it that inspire, relax and motivate you. Then listen to it while you walk.

Doing this will increase the benefits of walking from a back pain perspective along with an anti-stress benefit.

Very simple to do and everyone can walk – if your back pain is severe, then only walk as much as you can without making it worse.

Go walking every day, for at least 10-15 minutes, somewhere as pleasant as possible, while listening to music that increases your energy levels. Your back pain will ease quickly, stress levels reduce and you feel better.

Stress and energy are linked to back pain as much as muscle tightness is. Removing stress will help remove muscle tension. Walking is therefore one of the best activities to do when you have back pain.

So get out here now …

Go for a walk and ease your back pain.

How-To: Back Pain Remedies Treatment At Home

September 7, 2008

Back-pain-massageFinding solutions to your Back Pain Remedies and stress in the back can seem like an impossible task for some, but it really doesn’t need to be. There are some simple and easy back pain treatment ideas you can try right at home that can really help to alleviate if not completely eliminate your back pain. Let’s take a look at some of these back pain treatment ideas and see if they won’t work for you.


First, try to lie on your back on a flat but soft surface such as your couch or mattress and put a pillow under your knees. Some people mistakenly put the pillow under their feet or ankles as a back pain treatment but this usually just puts more pressure on the lower back and hip areas. When you put support under your knees you’re keeping this curved part of your body supported and transferring some weight to the supportive pillows, taking pressure off your back. If you stay still like this for some time you might notice that it’s an effective back pain treatment for most minor backaches. Far too often we have too much weight and pressure on the lower back and staying in this position with support under the knees can help tremendously.

Another idea for Back Pain Remedies, and this one you’ll never hear from your doctor, is to try rolling your back on a basketball! The firmness of a basketball can work like a good massage, opening up and loosening up cramped and stiff muscles. This can also help to encourage more blood flow in the small of the back, which too is part of any back pain treatment program. Blood and oxygen are both healing agents and can encourage the back muscles to heal themselves. While you may not have ever heard of a basketball as part of any back pain treatment, it can really help! Of course you don’t want to push too hard on the ball into your back but just a firm movement on a flat surface can open up those muscles.

Never underestimate the power of heat when it comes to Back Health. This might include a good heating pad when you’re reclining on the sofa or even when you’re at your desk in the office every day. Cold weather makes muscles cramp up, so even just keeping a warm air vaporizer in your bedroom during winter months may help to alleviate some pain in the lower back and help you sleep better as well. A hot shower or hot bath can also help, especially if you take your time to really soak those cramped and aching muscles.

None of these back pain treatment options we’ve outlined are difficult, but it’s surprising how often people ignore them, thinking that only a doctor or some harsh medication can provide permanent relief for them. But if you try these, and especially if you do so on a regular basis, you might find some relief!


Banish Back Pain

September 3, 2008

Banish back painAre you reading this article with your back hunched, shoulders slumped forward and abs sagging? In correct posture, your head should be neutral, meaning your chin shouldn’t be angled up or down, but straight ahead. Your shoulders should be down and back away from the ears and your thumbs should point forward or out to the side. Your abdominals should be tight, not “sucked in.” Which direction is your rear pointing? An anterior pelvic tilt causes an increased arch in the lower back and may present the illusion of sagging abs. A posterior pelvic tilt causes the back to flatten, giving that sunken-butt appearance. Lower back pain and neck/shoulder pain are very common. Bad posture causes back pain and will affect your ability to do back pain relief exercises. Read on to learn how you can banish back pain for good.

Strengthen the “right” abs     

The abdominals consist of four separate muscles. The deepest muscle, the transverse abdominus (T.A.), runs horizontally and serves as a girdle for the internal organs, and it also supports the back. Learning to isolate the T.A. is very important. One way to do this is to stand with your back against a wall. In a neutral position, there should be a slight space between your lower back and the wall. When you tighten the T.A., your stomach will flatten, but your back should remain in neutral. Don’t suck in your gut or shrug your shoulders. Hold this position for 5-10 seconds. A more advanced version of this back pain exercise is performed in a quadruped position (on your hands and knees). Performed correctly, this ab strengthening exercise can help you banish back pain.

Pelvic tilt/cat-cow    

The cat-cow stretch is a good exercise to help banish back pain; it loosens the hips and relieves tension and stiffness in the back. On your hands and knees, lift your head and make your back concave for the cow pose. Then arch your back, tighten your abs and tuck your hips underneath you for the cat pose. You might find you have more hip motion in one direction than in the other. Perform this exercise often, but be careful not to strain yourself. Make the motions smoothly and slowly, and don’t snap your hips in one direction then the other.

Tight hamstrings

Tight hamstrings are a common cause of back pain because they attach to the pelvis and any tightness affects the low back. The hamstrings become inflexible and weak if you’re stuck at a desk all day, if you sit during a long commute or if you are an  inactive man who just doesn’t stretch as often you should. A good exercise to banish back pain is to stretch the hamstrings lying supine. A seated stretch can cause strain on the lower back if performed incorrectly. Using a towel, belt, stretch cord or dog leash, hook one foot in the cord and keep the other foot flat on the floor. Pull the involved leg straight up in the air, until a stretch is felt in the back of the thigh. Hold this position for 20-30 seconds and  repeat this three times for each leg. Extend the opposite leg if you can for a deeper stretch. Again, this isn’t a motion that can be performed harshly and you shouldn’t be overextending your leg or causing pain. You should only feel a slight burning in your thigh indicating a good stretch, not pain.

Hip flexor stretch

When your quadriceps and hip flexors are tight, in conjunction with weak abs, they pull your pelvis forward, causing pain in your lower back because the quadriceps crosses the knee and hip joint. Kneel on your right knee with your left leg bent and your left foot flat on the floor in front of you. Lean forward and squeeze your right buttock as you do so. You should feel the stretch down the front of your thigh, and into the front of the hip. Switch sides. Kneel on a pillow or towel if your knee bothers you. This stretch to banish back pain can also be done while you lie on your stomach.

Trapezius stretch

As you’re reading this, drop your shoulders. Did you realize they were up? Many people hunch their shoulders due to stress, tension or just as a learned posture. A constant slumped-over posture puts the trapezius muscle in a constant stretch position, which over time causes the muscle to tighten up to protect itself.

Stretching the trapezius on a regular basis will help relieve some tension and help prevent headaches. Attempt to bring the right ear to the right shoulder, keeping in mind that your shoulder should not come up to meet your ear. Hold this position for 10 seconds and repeat it 10 times. Hold onto the edge of the chair with your left hand for a deeper stretch, and remember to do both sides.

Open your chest

The pectoral muscles, or “pecs,” tighten up when the shoulders are carried forward all the time, and as a result of doing too many bench presses and pushups. In a corner, put your forearms against the wall. Lean forward, pushing your chest toward the wall. Feel the stretch across the front of your chest and shoulders. Hold this position for 30 seconds and repeat three times. If you do not have an empty corner, the stretch can be performed one arm at a time in a doorway. Don’t lean too far forward; it should be a stretch, not painful.

Scapular retractions/rows

The muscles between the scapulas (rhomboids) are most responsible for keeping the shoulders in proper alignment. In a seated or standing position, squeeze your shoulder blades together. A maximum contraction will make the shoulder blades touch. Do not shrug your shoulders and do not arch your lower back. Try this exercise to banish back pain in a prone position as well. Place a pillow or a rolled-up towel under your forehead to keep your neck and spine in a straight line. Lift your shoulders off the surface, squeezing your shoulder blades together, then reach for your feet with your fingertips. Squeeze for five seconds and repeat 20 times. This exercise is the precursor to seated or bent-over rows performed in the gym.

Back Pain Be Gone

These stretches to banish back pain can be performed every day, at any time. After about three weeks of consistent stretching, you’ll see an improvement in your posture and experience less back pain. However, if you continue to feel back pain, visit your doctor or physical therapist.


Posture Is Key to Keeping Neck Pain In Check

September 3, 2008

Waking up with a stiff neck can be the first sign of a really bad day.

Supporting-neck-while-sleepingAnd chances are, it’s your own fault.

There are dozens of possible causes for a stiff neck – everything from a virus or the flu to arthritis or degenerative disease in the neck or spine.

But, most likely, what you really need to do is listen to your mother. Stiff necks are usually caused by bad posture.

«Most instances of what people call a ‘crick in the neck’ are caused by a person’s positioning while asleep,» says Dr. Brian Bruel, an assistant professor at UT Southwestern Medical Center with dual appointments in physical medicine and rehabilitation, and anesthesiology and pain management. «You’re sleeping with your neck at a weird angle, and that causes muscle strain.»

Treating a crick

Assuming the pain is not caused by an injury, here are Dr. Bruel’s suggestions for treating the crick:

First, eliminate worst-case scenarios. If your stiff neck is accompanied by headache and a fever, there’s a chance you have meningitis. The pain tends to be quite severe with meningitis. Although this is a very unlikely possibility, call your doctor immediately if all three symptoms are present.

For a garden-variety stiff neck, try gentle, range-of- motion stretching exercises as your first line of defense.

«Try turning your head slowly toward the side with the ‘crick’ for about 10 to 15 seconds,» Dr. Bruel says. Turn the head up and down, side to side and ear to ear. Repeat as tolerated throughout the day.

If the problem persists, or you have spasms, apply ice. Do this for the first 48 to 72 hours, and if cold doesn’t work, try heat – hot packs, a heating pad, hot showers or compresses.

Pain relievers can help. Dr. Bruel recommends ibuprofen. But if that upsets your stomach, acetaminophen works well, too.

Getting to the root

Those measures will help the symptoms, but you must address the causes. Bending over a desk for hours, slumping in front of the television or curling up the wrong way with a book can contribute to a stiff neck. Consider these:

  • Stand up straight: Dr. Bruel tells patients to stand straight by picturing a plumb line that aligns the ears, shoulders, hips, knees and ankles.
  • Keep your head on: Your head weighs five to 10 pounds. It should sit atop your neck, forming a straight line. Holding it too far forward or back strains neck muscles.
  • Sleep tight, sleep right: Your head should be positioned in a straight line with your neck. «Use pillow rolls to get the neck in that plumb-line position,» Dr. Bruel says. «Even if you sleep on your side, your neck should not be too far forward.»
  • Ergonomically correct: Do you sit at a computer all day? Keep your head straight and your back supported.

«Leaning forward shortens the neck muscles, so when you lie down at night, they’re still tight,” Dr. Bruel says. “We’re not made to be all scrunched up all day or all night.»

By MARY JACOBS / Special Contributor to The Dallas Morning News

Back to School Shouldn’t Mean Back Pain

August 28, 2008

Some simple tips can keep children from suffering from improper backpack usage.

Child with a backpackBetween exams, college applications and keeping up with their friends’ styles, school children carry a lot of weight on their shoulders.

But physiotherapist Alvin Straub says the bulk of backpacks can also be a weighty issue. Packing book bags with too much stuff is hard on the back muscles and posture. “Some kids pack their life in their backpack going back-and-forth to school,” says Straub, who works at the Physioclinic in Pictou. “The lighter, the better. And that takes planning. Otherwise, you could be looking at neck strains, sore shoulders and an asymmetry in the muscles.”

How much is too much in a backpack? Younger children should have no more than 10 pounds in their bags on the way out the door. Add about five pounds for older students, and maybe max that out to 20 pounds for your larger high school kids.

And while your children are lightening their load, keep telling them to sit up straight at the dinner table and in class.

“Your mother was always right,” says Straub of the age-old command. “You don’t need to sit rod straight, but shift around, keep a fairly neutral posture.”

Some tips that should keep your children on the up-and-up this school year:

Things to look for when purchasing a backpack

  • Back padding to keep contents from digging into your back
  • Padded shoulder straps to help balance weight
  • A waist belt or hip strap to distribute the weight from some heavier loads to the pelvis and legs
  • Multiple storage compartments to help balance weight evenly
  • Reflective material for improved visibility

Wearing your backpack right

  • Always use both shoulder straps and stand tall.
  • Do not lean forward when walking. If you’re doing this, there’s too much weight in the pack.
  • Clean out the backpack at least once a week.
  • A full backpack should never weight more than 10-16 per cent of your total body weight.

Signs of an injury

  • Pain when wearing the backpack
  • Tingling or numbness in the arms or legs
  • Red marks on the shoulders

Source: Life Mark Health Physiotherapy

Tips: Relief for Low Back Pain

August 28, 2008

Couple in bed low back pain

1. Personal preference should ultimately determine what mattress is best. There is no single mattress style or type that works for all people with low back pain. Any mattress that helps someone sleep without pain and stiffness is the best mattress for that individual.

2. Understand and inquire about the physical components of the mattress. The coils or inner springs of a mattress provide the support. Different mattresses vary in their number and arrangement of coils. Padding on top of the mattress comes in many different thicknesses.

3. Find a mattress with back support. A good mattress should provide support for the natural curves and alignment of the spine. The right amount of back support also helps the patient avoid muscle soreness in the morning. While there is not much clinical data about mattresses, one study found that medium-firm mattresses usually provide more back pain relief than firm mattresses.

4. Achieve a balance between back support and comfort. Overall comfort while sleeping on the mattress is equally important as sufficient back support. Sleeping on a mattress that is too firm can cause aches and pains on pressure points. A medium-firm mattress may be more comfortable because it allows the shoulder and hips to sink in slightly. Patients who want a firmer mattress for back support can get one with thicker padding for greater comfort.

5. Know when it’s time to get a new mattress. If an old mattress sags visibly in the middle or is no longer comfortable, it is probably time to purchase a new one..

6. Shop for the best value and quality of the mattress rather than for price. Mattresses with more coils and thicker padding tend to be higher quality and also more expensive; however, a higher price does not guarantee that the mattress is more comfortable or more supportive.

7. There has not been extensive medical research or controlled clinical trials on the topic of mattresses and low back pain. The individual must determine whether or not extra features on a mattress make it more comfortable or supportive.

Low back pain mattress enhancement8. Give the mattress a test-run before buying. When shopping at the store, shoppers should lay on the mattress for several minutes to decide if it is a good fit. If two people will be sleeping on the mattress, both should test it at the same time to make sure they have enough space and are both comfortable on the same style of mattress.


Exploring Drug-Free Options For Pain Relief

August 26, 2008


Doc48b444b4bed0c877575035If you have ever suffered from back pain, neck pain, stiffness, freezing and inflammation of various body parts and joints, you know the grind. Pop a pill, try some rest, ice, compression, elevation, pop another pill maybe and then grit your teeth and hope the pain goes away soon.

If the pain is serious and recurs all the time, you may find yourself visiting your doctor constantly.

According to The American Pain Society, an estimated 50 million Americans live with chronic pain caused by disease, disorder or accident. Of these, the most common types of pain include arthritis, lower back, bone/joint pain, muscle pain and fibromyalgia.

An additional 25 million people suffer acute pain resulting from surgery or accident. Yet experts acknowledge that pain is widely undertreated in the United States.

While mainstream medicine can help no doubt, drug-free options for pain relief are fast growing in popularity.

Here is a sampling of what is available in Southern Illinois:

Holistic medicine

Followers of holistic medicine recognize the interconnectedness of the mind, body and spirit. They believe less medication equals less side effects and are interested in exploring what non-believers are apt to label “new-age nonsense.”

Linda Hostalek, a doctor of osteopathy and owner of Holistic Healing Arts in Herrin and Pomona has earned quite a reputation and following for her alternative techniques when it comes to treating pain.

Having battled fibromyalgia in medical school and survived cancer, she is a walking advertisement for what she believes in: Good things in, bad things out and finding a balance.

Hostalek explains that this entails eating good foods, supplementing your diet and doing things that make you happy;  getting rid of the bad stuff by having a good detoxification, getting out of a toxic relationship, toxic job, anything that is not good for your mental well being and happiness; and finally trying to live life in balance.

Easier said than done, she is the first to admit.

Believing that all disease is multi-factorial, Hostalek employs a combination of cranial osteopathy, bio-energetic-electrical balancing, Reiki, nutrition, myofascial release, deep tissue work, Tachyon and Peruvian Shamanism to treat her patients. 

“Cranial osteopathy is a gentle yet extremely effective approach to release stresses and tensions throughout the body, including the head,” Hostalek says.

Trained to look at the structure of the body and uncover where disruptive patterns lie, cranial osteopaths like Hostalek believe an accumulation of stress and strain in the body disrupts the cranial rhythm, which in turn manifest as aches and pains in one place.

“The first place to start is figuring out what the problem is,” Hostalek says. “Once you diagnose what and where the problem lies, it is important to balance the fascia, which is the connective tissue in the body; see where the blockages lie and unblock the energy fields.”

According to Hostalek, every single cell that we have has an energy field and often we carry elements in our energy fields that can make us toxic.

“A combination of healthy lifestyle, vitamins and daily stretching helps to move the energy where the fascia live,” Hostalek says. “The more empowered you are energetically, the more you can help heal yourself.”

When asked how she deals with non-believers, Hostalek says people will believe whatever they want to believe. But she does admit it helps to have an open mind when you visit a practitioner that works with energy fields.

Chinese acupuncture

After an acupuncture session, a grateful patient once told Dr. Ying Li, “You keep me walking, working and saving money!”

A trained Chinese physician licensed and certified to practice oriental medicine and acupuncture in the United States, Li has a busy practice in Carbondale and Metropolis, with as many as 60 percent of her clients coming to her for pain relief.

“Chinese medical theory believes that a person’s state of health is always changing, subtly moving in one direction or another,” Li says.

Qi (pronounced “chee”) or life energy flows through numerous specific pathways called meridians, which connect to particular organs and glands, bringing nourishment to every cell, organ, gland, tissue and muscle in the body.

When Qi is obstructed in one part of the body, the blockage affects the flow of life energy to other parts of the body resulting in illness, pain and disease.

In order to correct the imbalances, acupuncture, a 5,000-year-old Chinese technique, uses hair-thin needles to stimulate certain points along the channels, called the meridians. Treatments are cumulative

“In China, you have to be a medical doctor first, before you can become an acupuncturist,” Li says. “It is a medical skill and can effectively treat a variety of pain.”

Li says you should give acupuncture a shot, if you are exploring conservative options for pain relief. In many cases it has helped people avoid or postpone surgery.

In addition to using acupuncture, Li also employs cupping techniques, magnetic electric needles, moxa therapies and herbal patches for pain relief. 


Dr. Stephen Barrett, a chiropractor at Barrett Spinal Health and Wellness Center in Carbondale, strides into the room, a package of energy, intelligence and charm.

“Pain is a sign that something is wrong,” Barrett says. “If we take spinal pain, for example, I’m looking for any places in the spine where the nerves have been interfered with. Sometimes a subluxation could be the primary cause. Other times it could be poor posture that causes the muscles to become dysfunctional.”

Chiropractors like Barrett believe a (vertical) subluxation occurs when one or more of the bones of your spine (vertebrae) move out of position and create pressure on, or irritate spinal nerves.

Because the nervous system controls and coordinates all the functions of the body, a subluxation causes nerve interference wherever it occurs and this in turn prevents the affected organs from functioning normally.

“Injuries, accidents, trauma, bad posture, can all contribute to a subluxation,” Barrett says. “And chiropractic is strictly about the detection and correction of subluxations.”

To correct this, chiropractors “adjust” the spine by applying pressure to the bone and “unlocking” it from its improper position. The theory is that the bone will then be free to align itself correctly and irritation to the nerves will also be reduced / eliminated.

You come to a point in your life when you realize you don’t want to take pharmaceutical drugs for the rest of your life,” Barrett says. “You want to get rid of the problem and what’s causing it, instead of covering up the symptoms. And that’s why more and more people are choosing chiropractic care as a first option, not a last resort.”


For three years now, Yolanda Comiskey has worked in Carbondale as a Psych-K (psychological kinesiology) facilitator and offers private sessions and workshops to those wanting to reprogram their conscious and unconscious habits.

Skeptic or not, you tend to let your guard down a bit when faced with her positive energy and open, approachable demeanor. She seems perfectly believable when she says she comes from a family of healers.

“Psych-K is all about belief,” Comiskey says. “These beliefs, usually subconscious, are often the result of lifelong ‘programming,’ and represent a powerful influence on human behavior. When you change your beliefs you can change the outcome.”

Psych-K then is a powerful tool which helps you identify and transform beliefs that ‘sabotage’ you into beliefs that ‘support’ you, in any area of your life. It helps you gently rewrite the software of your sub-conscious mind and change your life.

Establishing communication with the subconscious mind through the muscle system, Comiskey uses energy work to address a variety of issues, including pain.

She says pain can be a limitation in the mind which is reflected in the body. For example, a client with neck pain realized her body was speaking volumes when faced with the simple question, “Who is it that is causing pain in the neck?”

Many of her clients use Psych-K as an adjunct to regular medical care. “The mind is a powerful thing,” Comsikey says. “If you listen closely, your body may be trying to tell you something. And Psych-K can help you get to the root of it.”

Herbs and supplements

Vitamin, mineral and herbal supplements are a multi-billion dollar industry today when it comes to maintaining good health and alleviating pain.

Cheryl Couch is owner of The Natural Choice, a health food and vitamin store in Carterville. “Right now cherry juice is a popular natural choice to alleviate pain from arthritis, joint aches and body pain,” she says.

Stocking a special kind of cherry juice concentrate made from Montmorency tart cherries of Michigan, Couch says the cherries have anti-inflammatory properties, in addition to being a rich source of antioxidants.    

Other popular products include Curamin, an all-natural dietary supplement made from curcumin, which is a derivative of turmeric; MSM, a natural source of sulphur, that helps relieve pain; and Flexcin, a joint-health supplement containing a patented anti-inflammatory ingredient, Cetyl Myristoleate.

Note to readers

It’s important to talk to your doctor about any alternative and complementary options you may be exploring, including ingesting herbal supplements and vitamins as these may interact with prescription and over-the-counter medicines.

The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine notes that understanding a treatment’s risks, potential benefits, and scientific evidence is critical to your health and safety.

Experts advise patients not to stop pain medications without consulting their doctor, noting that further analysis of the data is needed and acceptable health risks must be evaluated individually.

Quick glossary

  • Bio-energetic electrical balancing: Supporters of bioenergetics believe the body “records” negative emotional reactions and stores them in the form of muscle tension, stiffness, poor posture, and low energy levels. To release these trapped emotions and return the body and mind to a balanced, healthy, peaceful state, patients must first release muscle tension and correct physical imbalances, using a combination of psychotherapy, gentle body movements, massage, deep breathing, and exercises that help patients “release” their emotional memories.

  • Tachyon: A non-invasive treatment utilizing specialized Tachyonized™ tools and techniques designed to re-connect an individual to the “Energetic Continuum.”

  • Cupping : An ancient Chinese practice in which a cup is applied to the skin and the pressure in the cup is reduced so that the skin and superficial muscle layer is drawn into and held in the cup.

  • Moxa therapy: An oriental medicine therapy utilizing moxa, or mugwort herb to warm regions and acupuncture points with the intention of stimulating circulation through the points and inducing a smoother flow of blood and qi.

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