With the current practice of social distancing, which really should be called physical distancing, those of us in the healthcare and healing professions have already noticed the recent trend of our patients losing the human touch.
With the current practice of social distancing, which really should be called physical distancing, those of us in the healthcare and healing professions have already noticed the recent trend of our patients losing the human touch.
Dysautonomia is an umbrella term that is used to describe several different medical conditions that relate to the Autonomic Nervous System. The Autonomic Nervous System is the “automatic” regulation of things we don’t consciously think about in order to function, such as: pupil dilation, blood pressure, heart rate, body temperature control, digestion and many more.
Dysautonomia is not a rare disease, but it is not well known either. Approximately 70 million people worldwide have some form of dysautonomia. This topic is near and dear to my heart because I have not just one family member with it, but two.
Our journey started when my youngest daughter started passing out at school. She has a history of concussions, so our biggest concern was her hitting her head and getting another concussion. The second time she passed out at school, she was taken to the nearest hospital. After many tests were run, one of the doctors mentioned POTS – Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome. It sounded familiar to me, but I wasn’t quite sure. I knew about Orthostatic Hypotension when someone stands up and their blood pressure dropped. This would explain the dizziness, but not much more. It wasn’t until an ENT doctor tested her and confirmed POTS. With POTS, it’s not just the blood pressure, but you have to closely watch the heart rate. When there is a difference of 30 beats per minute, or over 120 beats per minute upon sitting up or standing up (within 10 minutes), this is what we call Postural (going from laying down to sitting up, or sitting up to standing up) Orthostatic (blood pressure) Tachycardia (heart beats faster) Syndrome (because it’s more than just one symptom).
No one is sure what exactly causes POTS or Dysautonomia. There are many thoughts as to what may cause this, but no definitive answers. All that can be done is treat the symptoms as they arise. For most POTS patients – who are typically between the ages of 15 – 50 with a mild prevalence to females – this means medical management such as beta-blocker medicine to control heart rate and blood pressure. Most POTS patients have dizziness and fainting, which can also be considered as Neurocardiogenic Syncope. According to Dr. Michael McConnel, the POTS specialist in Georgia, the dizziness is the last effort of the body to get blood and oxygen up to the brain. He also reminds us that when treating POTS and Dysautonomia, to remember that “this is marathon, not a sprint”. This was tremendously helpful to hear but difficult to accept. Unfortunately, Dr. McConnell has since retired.
Along with POTS are several other symptoms or dysfunctions. As the picture above shows, many symptoms of Autonomic Dysfunction include exercise intolerance, gastro-intestinal problems (gastroparesis, nausea, vomiting), brain fog, headaches such as migraines. Pain seems to be the most difficult to conquer and this is mostly due to the body’s inability to shift between the two branches of the Autonomic Nervous System: Sympathetic and Parasympathetic Nervous Systems.
Most patients are stuck in Sympathetic Nervous System Overload or Sympathetic Dominance. When the Sympathetic Nervous System can’t settle down, their bodies are stuck in the Fight, Flight or Freeze phase. The opposite of this is the Parasympathetic Nervous System known as the Rest and Digest phase, where relaxation lives. Many POTS people live in that hyper-adrenaline state and are unable to calm down. Think about when you see a scary movie: you get scared for a moment and scream, then settle back down for the next scene. With POTS, there is no coming down from that first scary scene. This person stays in that ultra excitable state for hours, or even days.
There are many home remedies to help with POTS. Many people end up wearing compression socks or stockings to help with the blood pooling down to their feet. Sometimes it’s necessary to do a lot of squeeze-release technique where you squeeze the muscles in your lower body, then release that tension. This helps to pump the blood back towards the body and up to the brain. It also helps with getting the muscles to relax. Salt tablets or increasing salt intake is another home remedy that works wonders with POTS to increase the volume of blood and raise the blood pressure so they don’t faint. It is estimated to increase salt up to 3 – 5 grams per day. This is completely opposite of what we tell everybody else, but this is a completely different syndrome. When feeling dizzy, the person with POTS is supposed to lay down and elevate their feet above their head to get the blood flowing back up to the body and the brain. People with POTS are also encouraged to engage in recumbent exercise such as a recumbent bike or floor exercises like yoga or Pilates. This helps to recondition the body and the cardiovascular system while keeping blood flow in the body more horizontal, rather than vertical.
I have asked many people, parents of children who have POTS and people who live with POTS, about chiropractic care. Most people with POTS have done very well with chiropractic care, especially the functional neurology branch of chiropractic care. POTS people also do much better with the more gentle types of chiropractic care where special caution is taken to balance the autonomic dysfunction. I have found that using Thompson technique and mostly SOT Sacro-Occipital Technic helps to shift people in to the parasympathetic state of rest and relaxation. The other most effective modality has been deep tissue, therapeutic massage, not just for the prolonged parasympathetic state, but also for pain relief.
If you live in the metro-Atlanta area and would like a consultation to see if you may have POTS or how chiropractic and massage can help your POTS symptoms, please feel free to contact me.
Back in the year 2000, I was still pretty new in my massage therapy practice when I became pregnant in November. I had received some aromatherapy training during my massage school, so I knew there were some properties in essential oils that would not be safe to use during pregnancy. Thank goodness for the internet back then and I was able to find out which essential oils (eo’s) I needed to avoid. Apparently my favorite massage lotion had Sage eo in it, and Sage (Salvia officinalis) is known as an abortifacient, which means it causes an abortion. Well I certainly didn’t want that!
I also had high blood pressure during my pregnancy, so that meant I could not use anything that could potentially raise my blood pressure such as rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) or juniper (Juniperi communis). Clary Sage (Salvia sclarea) is also an essential oil that needs to be avoided during pregnancy because it acts on the body just like estrogen.
Have you noticed that every time I write out the name of an essential oil, it’s followed by a name in parenthesis? This is the scientific or Latin name of the essential oil. It is always written in italics with the first name capitalized but not the second. Why is this important?
Most people are quite familiar with the benefits of Lavender essential oil. But how many different types of lavender are there? Quite a few. The Lavender that is most commonly used is Lavandula angustifolia also known as true lavender or common lavender. This type is what gives us those wonderful properties of the essential oil that we all love so much. There are other types that are less potent and less expensive, so any time you want to purchase Lavender eo, make sure you see (Lavandula angustifolia) after the name.
My favorite story to tell about essential oils, and the history of how essential oils became the healing products that we know today, is the story of a French chemist and perfumist, Rene Maurice Gattefosse. In 1910, Monsieur Gattefosse was burned in a laboratory explosion, which left untreated would have caused gangrene. He applied the “essence of Lavender” to his hands which he claimed “stopped the gasification of tissue”. He later wrote a book in 1937 called Aromatherapie, which was the first time the phrase aromatherapy was used.
To this day, Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) essential oil is always kept in my kitchen so that it can be applied to a burn instantly. Try this the next time you burn your hand on the toaster or oven. Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) and Tea Tree (Mellaleuca alternifolia) are the only two essential oils that can be applied neat, meaning directly to the skin without needing a carrier oil. Carrier oils are used to dilute essential oils so the eo’s can be applied directly to the skin. These are usually extracted oils from nuts, seeds or kernals of plants such as almond, olive, coconut, etc. For massage oils in a pinch, I’d use the olive oil from my kitchen cabinet and blend the eo’s directly from there. This is the easiest, most readily available, however, olive oil, including extra virgin olive oil, still has a mild scent to it and can therefore, effect the desired scent of the essential oils. My personal favorite now is to use extra virgin coconut oil, which sometimes still has that scent, but I like it better.
Now, because I’m “old school” with my aromatherapy teachings, I still hold true to these two oils being the only oils I would apply neat to the skin. Almost 20 years later, it seems that everyone is willing to apply essential oils neat to the skin. Young Living is an essential oil company who created an entire Raindrop Technique which applies quite a few of the savory essential oils neat to the skin along the spine. I am NOT in favor of this, nor do I recommend this, however many people swear by this.
I am rather a connoisseur, okay let’s face it, I’m a SNOB when it comes to essential oils. I tend to really resonate with the rather expensive and rare oils and resins and I know what to smell for when judging the appropriateness of an essential oil. I guess I am a bit of a sommelier (wine steward) of essential oils. I also love to tell the stories about how some of the oils came to be.
I had an aromatherapy company in the early 2000’s where my partner and I would do “Home Fragrance Parties”. Similar to a Pampered Chef party or a Tupperware Party, we would have a hostess invite all of her friends and we would tell the stories about the essential oils to include the physical healing properties, emotional and even spiritual properties. We made products such as whipped body butter, lotion bars, anointing oils, etc. When the tsunami of 2004 hit Sri Lanka and the Pacific Rim, many of our raw materials became too expensive to buy and make products, so we closed the company and I focused on my massage practice instead.
I have finally decided to partner with DoTerra oils because I like their oils and how they are cleanly cultivated. Unfortunately, their oils are on the more expensive side compared to what you can purchase at Whole Foods, or now even Target sells essential oils. The old adage of “you get what you pay for” plays an important role in this. You are getting a rather high quality product, enough that I am impressed to provide these oils in my practice.
Disclaimer. Integrity is one of my highest values and I do not believe it is appropriate for a doctor to be involved in what is essentially a multi level marketing company. I have no problem selling products directly to my patients, but I will not ever try to sign up a patient to sell products under my name. Unfortunately, this is the only way that these companies do business, therefore, it’s utterly important to me to find an individual who knows just as much, if not more, about essential oils as I do. I have found this person. She is Brenna Gregg.
Brenna will be presenting in the next Empowered Patient Series on Wednesday, September 19, 2018, 7pm, at the Fusion Chiropractic office. This is a free event and there is never an obligation to purchase anything at these events. The Empowered Patient Series is all about educating people about their options and communication in healthcare. Brenna will be available to tell her story and how you can use essential oils in your life. If you are interested in further information, we will have that information available for you so that you can meet with Brenna at a future time if you are so interested.
Please invite your friends to this event. You do not have to be a current patient to attend these events. Snacks and drinks will be provided. If you are interested in how to make some of these essential oil products such as whipped body butter or lotion bars, just let me know and we will schedule that class as well.
The Empowered Patient
The patient that is highly in tune with the subtle energies of the body is an empowered patient.
We tend to wait until our symptoms are overt and overwhelming before we seek assistance.
By this time we are deep in the throws of ‘need of care’ and recovery can seem overwhelming and often impossible.
By teaching people how to tune in to the physical and emotional side of the human body, we can often address issues well before they turn into full blown emergency states.
Knowing the body and taking account of your daily, weekly, monthly ‘body status’ not only helps us nip issues in the bud, it helps our care givers have a more accurate starting point for diagnosis and treatment.
The result of which can be multi-fold….
Don’t worry…tuning into the subtle energies of the body won’t make you ‘Psychic’. You won’t quit your job and become a Medical Medium. You’ll simply know your body better and find a strength in empowerment that can lead to faster healing and more effective personal change.
Knowing your own body, your own biological needs is something that everyone has within them, we just tend to ignore this process and defer to experts. No wonder why we hate going to the doctor so much…intuitively we know they are often looking for a needle in a haystack.
But what if we could help them pinpoint a specific area that the needle was located? What if we could eliminate a significant amount of guesswork in the diagnosis process? What if we could see ourselves as an energy system and determine at least, which areas of that system seem stagnant or simply not functioning at full capacity? We’d be empowered and two steps ahead of the standard process…which as mentioned, can result in many benefits.
So how do we do this? Do we need to take classes on spiritual development or train with some sort of guru? Do we need to go to medical school? NO. All you need to do is slow down, tune in, pay attention and learn to become aware of your body’s rhythms, norms, standards and make note of anything that is not in your definition of 100% healthy and effective.
This process will give your care giver a much more detailed portrait of you to start with. We like to blame doctors for not knowing what’s wrong with us by just glancing at us or running a few tests, but the truth is, we are so complex that giving them a leg up with detailed information on our energy (no matter how subtle) can only yield more effective results.
So let’s get to it! Let’s start with very simple processes of ‘tuning in’ to ourselves.
Simple processes include….
Daily observation and attention.
Logging and charting.
Learning to describe subtle body differences and simple ‘body scanning’.
You should keep a journal of your observations.
Each person’s health goals will help determine what they should be paying attention to and what they should be logging.
The empowered patient isn’t just empowered because they know what’s ailing before the doctors do, they are empowered because they are paying attention to, and keeping a log of all things that are effecting their health, from stress levels, to nutrition, to environmental exposures, to simple every day things like the way we sit in our vehicle or carry our handbag.
The Empowered Patient Series is presented by Dr. Cynthia Seebacher, D.C. and Samantha Hall, psychic medium and women’s empowerment coach.
Psoriatic (Sor-ee-at-tic) Arthritis is an autoimmune inflammatory arthritis, similar to Rheumatoid Arthritis, but with a negative RA factor. When we talk about ARTHRITIS, most people think of the good old fashioned wear and tear arthritis where the joint has lost it’s cartilage or lubricating factor, so that it’s bone on bone grinding. This kind of arthritis is known as OSTEO Arthritis.
There is another kind of arthritis, at the other end of the spectrum, called INFLAMMATORY ARTHRITIS. These are the AUTO-IMMUNE types of arthritis where your body attacks it’s own tissue, thinking your own tissue is a foreign invader. The immune system goes in to over-drive as it attempts to fight what it thinks is a bacteria or virus. White blood cells flood the area, in this case the joint, and this creates inflammation, which causes swelling, redness, heat and pain. In this realm of inflammatory arthritis, there is a further separation into two categories. On the one side is the Rheumatoid Factor, RF or RA positive, which includes Rheumatoid Arthritis, Systemic Lupus, Scleroderma, etc. On the other side is the “Negative RA Factor” side, meaning there is no RF antibodies present and is called SPONDYLO-ARTHRITIS (spon-de-low). The blood test that indicates this side of inflammatory arthritis is called HLA-B27 (Human Leukocyte Antibody) and includes the inflammatory arthritis categories as Psoriatic Arthritis, Ankylosing Spondylitis, Enteropathic Arthritis, and Reactive Arthritis.
I was first diagnosed with Psoriatic Arthritis in 2003. I was fortunate enough that my Primary Care Physician listened to my complaints and referred me to a Rheumatologist – a doctor who specializes in musculo-skeletal disease and systemic (whole body) auto-immune conditions. Having psoriasis (red patches with silver scales) does not necessarily mean you will have Psoriatic Arthritis. Psoriasis itself is an auto-immune condition caused by inflammation, and usually indicative of liver congestion according to the nutrition specialists and functional medicine specialists. When I was diagnosed, I had psoriasis on my elbows and there was a 5-10% chance of developing into Psoriatic Arthritis (PsA). Today, that number has increased to 30%. This is a clinical diagnosis, which means its a careful collection of symptoms, including a positive HLA-B27 genetic marker, joint pain – usually in the hands, feet and along the spine, particularly the Sacro-Iliac joints (SI joints) and the neck. The GOLD STANDARD for diagnosis is the SAUSAGE DIGIT, where one of your fingers or toes along the entire length of the digit becomes hot, swollen, purple or red and very painful – looking like a sausage.
PsA is a long term condition that waxes and wanes, but essentially becomes progressively worse by damaging the joints. My Rheumatologist (affectionately written as *Rheumy from time to time) explained to me at the time that any time there is pain and inflammation present in the joint, there is damage being done. Of course, I had to have this conversation because I am, or at least I was, the kind of patient who did not like to take medication no matter what… until he explained it to me as damage. The pharmaceutical options include anti-inflammatory medication (NSAIDs or steroids), a DMARD – disease modifying anti-rheumatic drug, and finally a Biologic – injections or infusion of medicine that targets a specific cell called TNF alpha – Tumor Necrosing Factor alpha.
The non-pharmaceutical prevention and care plan is where the magic happens, which I share about on my website, blogs and Facebook Live. You can follow an anti-inflammatory diet, get adequate sleep, exercise on a regular basis, and my all time favorites: chiropractic and massage. For me, my maintenance care plan is to get adjusted once per week and get a therapeutic massage every two weeks. I had to change my sleeping habits, which is challenging enough as it is, and I was in chiropractic school when I had to make my change. Basically, the more hours of sleep you can get before the midnight hour, the better your sleep hygiene. I had to learn how to pace myself, balancing high energy days with days of recuperation and rest. I had to become aware of the ebb and flow of the disease, also known as FLARE UPs and take extra self-care measures when I would have a flare up. Most people with these types of chronic pain illnesses (this includes Fibromyalgia) will notice a rather big flare up around January when the weather changes to cold and damp, and the stress of the holidays is over. A flare up always seems to rear it’s ugly head AFTER the stress has subsided. It’s just the nature of the beast.
With PsA, when it affects the fingers and toes, it’s usually the most distal joint, closest to the finger/toenail. PsA attackes the ENTHESIS (en-the-sis), which is where the tendon meets the bone. When this becomes inflamed, it’s called ENTHESOPATHY (En-thes-o-path-ee). This, to me, is such an intense, sharp, stabbing, electric-like pain in the edge of the finger when it is barely brushed against something. PsA also attacks the SI joints on either one side or both sides. It also loves to attack the neck.
The disease progresses either rapidly or slowly, depending on your environment, stress levels, self-care and how well you can manage inflammation. The first 10 years of my diagnosis, I rode horses, taught yoga and Pilates and worked as a massage therapist. I am often asked how can I do all of that without my hands hurting or my body hurting. For me, staying physically active, especially with giving massages, always made me feel better. When I give massage, it’s not just my hands, but my entire body goes in to my work. The other major contributor to managing this disease is to get regular chiropractic care and regular massages myself.
There are several more symptoms that go along with an inflammatory arthritis, which is why these are called systemic auto-immune diseases. There can be inflammation of the iris of the eye, called UVEITIS (you-vee-eye-tis) or IRITIS (eye-ry-tis), which is quite painful causing your eye to turn red and vision is blurry. There is definitely the factor of sleep disturbance where some people may not be able to get fully in to REM sleep, tossing and turning all night, or having pain that wakes you up at night. Fatigue is also a problem, mostly during a flare up, but also associated with chronic pain. There are also a lot of gastro-intestinal problems such as diarrhea, bloating, constipation, or all of the above.
If you have a family history of an inflammatory arthritis, or psoriasis, and you are experiencing joint pain, please don’t hesitate to contact me to discuss how chiropractic care and therapeutic massage can help you. At Fusion Chiropractic, we discover together what positive coping skills will keep you managing a functional lifestyle with pain relief.
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“Doc! I can’t move. I can’t get out of bed. I can’t even get in the car!” When the pain is so bad that it hurts to turn over in bed, or changing positions from sitting to stand, or even laying down to sitting up, it’s time to seek professional help.
Low back pain and pelvic pain tend to go together. A strain is what happens to the muscles or tendons when they are pulled or stretched to extreme measures. A sprain is what happens to ligaments when they have been stretched beyond their limit. Pain happens with both. The muscles in your hips and low back contract so hard in an attempt to stabilize the hurt area, whether it’s in your lumbar/low back region or your pelvic region and hips. Your core muscles (pelvic floor muscles, rectus abdominus, transverse abdominus) suddenly go offline and become weak in order to protect you from doing further harm. The brain and your nervous system find many different ways to do the same job that your core muscles were supposed to be doing.
Now, simple tasks such as turning over in bed or going from sitting to standing become much more difficult. Pain is your body’s way of saying something is wrong. You don’t have to figure out what is wrong, but your chiropractor, massage therapist or doctor will figure that out for you.
Remember, the type of professional from whom you seek treatment will always suggest the treatment based on their profession. So, if you go to a medical doctor, you will likely be prescribed pain medicine or a muscle relaxer. If you go to an orthopedist, you may be told you need surgery. If you go to the chiropractor, we will suggest adjustments, massage therapy, physiotherapy and therapeutic exercises.
In the case mentioned above, you may be given a Trochanter Belt to wear for a few days. This special kind of belt is worn below the waist and just at the level of where the femur attaches to the pelvis. You will wear this for approximately five days, 24/7, except when bathing or bathroom time. The belt acts as a support so the surrounding muscles don’t have to overwork into spasm. Depending on the injury, your chiropractor may lessen or extend your time in the belt.
Once your low back or pelvic injury is healed, keep the trochanter belt around for times when you know you’ll be pulling a heavy load or doing a lot of walking. Be sure you re-learn how to activate those muscles that neurologically went off-line and learn how to move with proper bio-mechanics to avoid further injury or relapse.
If you would like a consultation for your back pain, you can text, call or email Dr. Seebacher. Crawl-ins are welcome too. Dr. Seebacher has created a FUSION of chiropractic, therapeutic massage and therapeutic exercise to help reduce pain and restore function to your life.
Are you a human barometer? Have you ever wondered why you have a unique talent for knowing when a storm is coming? Do your joints ache when it’s cold and rainy outside? You may be a human barometer.
Barometric pressure is the effect of air on the environment. Think of this as a heavy blanket exerting downward pressure on everything when the barometric pressure is low, or dropping. We like to say that a cold, rainy day is “good sleeping weather”, to just stay in bed and hibernate. It is true that lower barometric pressure causes us to seek sleep mode. Strangely enough, as the barometric pressure drops, the air we breathe drops the level of Oxygen, so less O2 in our blood and going to the brain makes us feel sleepy. The pressure on our bodies causes fluid in the joints and blood vessels to expand. Remember back to elementary school that hot air rises, cold air is denser and pressure gradients always shift from high to low in order to create balance. This is why we have so many aches and pains when the barometric pressure is dropping. Any old injury you have may express itself with a vengeance, particularly if you have arthritis or have had surgery to a joint. Everything inside expands.
On the other end of the spectrum from achy joints is the awful storm approaching migraine. If you’ve ever noticed when weather patterns collide and create massive thunder storms or possible tornado activity, the human barometer can sense that rapid drop in pressure. There is some speculation that the electrical charge in the air is what effects the body’s chemistry. Other weather related activity that can spark a migraine or pressure headache include: changes in temperature, high humidity, high winds, extremely dry conditions (causing dehydration), sun glare.
What can be done about this? The primary goal of the nervous system is to adapt to the environment, both inside the body and outside pressures on the body. It is perfectly okay to crawl back in to bed on those cold and rainy days when you are able to do so. For the migraine sufferer, you may need some extra assistance to help you adapt. Getting a regular chiropractic adjustment helps the nervous system function at it’s optimal level so that these swings in pressure don’t effect us as dramatically. The sooner you can come in at the onset of a migraine, the better chance of stopping or at least significantly reducing your symptoms.
Here are some of my “go to” relief remedies I have in my tool box:
Migra-Eeze – This came highly recommended from my neurologist to take as a preventive measure. I can attest that this works very well when taken on a daily basis and it significantly reduced the severity of my migraines.
Intensity 10 TENS unit – using a TENS unit on those muscles that are in spasm is an excellent way to relieve pain associated with migraines and barometric pressure changes. Dr. Seebacher can help you find the right fit for you, as well as ordering the TENS unit with insurance approval.
Migracap – I will admit that I have not used this yet. In the midst of a migraine, cold temperature works best due to the rapid expansion of blood vessels. This cap covers the eyes and provides that extra comforting pressure when you feel like your head is about to explode.
Hydrate – A good rule of thumb is to drink 1 oz of water for every 2 pounds of body weight. As an example, if you weigh 180 pounds, you need 90 oz of water daily. You’ll need more if you’re physically active. When the environment is dry and drought conditions persist, the human body needs more water. You can add a pinch of salt to the water to provide extra minerals and to retain some of the water needed by your body. I prefer Pink Himalayan Salt as it has more mineral content to help balance the electrolytes in your body.
Epsom Salt Bath – You can find epsom salts at any grocery store. I recommend to my Fibromyalgia patients the Fibro Detox Bath: 1 package (2-3pounds) of epsom salt in the hottest water you can safely handle; add 1 box of Baking Soda (8oz), 1 tbs of ground ginger. Warning, ginger makes this a stimulating bath, but it reduces pain significantly. Soak as long as you possibly can. For relaxation, try adding lavender essential oil or any soothing blend to replace the ginger.
Chiropractic + Therapeutic Massage: Chiropractic adjustments are designed to help the nervous system restore balance in the body. Therapeutic Massage helps to release trigger points so that your body does not hold patterns of spasm. Combining the two together gives you the best of both worlds. Keep in mind, neither one is intended to be a one time cure-all. It took a long time for your body to build up the stress and toxic environment that is created by barometric sensitivities. Dr. Seebacher provides the chiropractic adjustment and the therapeutic massage all in one visit. Click here to schedule your chiro+massage appointment.