Chiropractic Care: A Natural Cure for Chronic Pain

by Tracey Roizman, DC

The experience of pain is alarming, stressful and usually signals some sort of health crisis. Pain that persists beyond six months is known as chronic pain. Often there are reasons why pain persists, such as degeneration at the joints, but oftentimes the scenario of chronic pain is such that the original injury may have occurred years before, damaged tissues have long since healed but symptoms continue. Several progressively stronger courses of therapy may have been used including surgery, steroids and drug injections into the spine, all with limited or no results. Chronic pain effects 15-33% of the population and is estimated to cost $70 billion per year, making it more costly than cancer and heart disease combined.

The Benefits of Chiropractic Care

In the realm of pain therapies chiropractic care offers a particularly effective approach for pain relief in all phases of healing, including chronic conditions of longstanding duration. Chiropractic has historically utilized all available means to promote healing in ways that agree with the body’s inherent healing mechanisms. Spinal adjustments in conjunction with nutritional therapies, physical therapy modalities and targeted exercises to strengthen and stretch weakened or damaged tissues are some of the aspects of a wholistically oriented chiropractic program. Additionally a variety of gentle specialized techniques are available as part of the chiropractic method. These techniques are designed to evaluate and treat injuries in unique ways that are derived from experience in approaching health from a wholistic perspective and are aimed at promoting the body’s inherent healing mechanisms.

There are a number of factors responsible for perpetuating pain. Each one needs to be addressed in order for pain to be eliminated or managed satisfactorily. The solution for chronic pain seems to be that no single solution exists and that a multimodal approach is most effective in most cases.

Overactive Nervous System

Occasionally chronic pain can result from a self perpetuating feedback cycle whereby oversensitization and overactivation of pain pathways sets in, creating a pattern that is difficult to break. To prevent this from happening, attention to injuries at their early stages is key. In the initial 1-2 weeks following an injury it is imperative to give appropriate rest to damaged tissues while doing as much as possible to reduce and control inflammation and thereby break the cycle before it gets established.

Structural Imbalances

In spite of proper care during the initial phase of recovering from an injury if pain persists into the next phase, known as the rehabilitative phase, then other factors must be considered. Mechanical stress and nutritional inadequacies are at the top of this list. Structures that were severely injured may not heal back to their pre injury status. Fractured or degenerated vertebrae develop shapes and positions that reflect their history. The muscles and ligaments around these bones must accommodate their altered states. Stress tension and pain result. Reinjury can occur when we try to go about our daily activities before injuries are fully healed. Bones tendons and ligaments take a considerable time to heal and it is often inconvenient and impractical to alter one’s activities sufficiently to allow full healing. The spine, arms and legs are unstable in the vulnerable early stages of rehabilitation. Even normal tasks such as sitting at a desk or driving can be treacherous. Careful monitoring at these stages helps to keep structures aligned and stress free.

Nutritional Needs

Nutritional deficiencies are an important and too often overlooked component of chronic pain. Healing is slowed when the body lacks the essential elements that form the building blocks for regeneration of cells and tissues. Simply put, you can’t expect good quality products from substandard building materials. Nutritional requirements increase when healing is happening so it stands to reason that strategically supplementing those substances that will become depleted is a good idea. Studies have shown that chronic pain sufferers have substantially higher rates of vitamin and mineral deficiencies than the general population. This raises the usually unanswerable question of whether these deficiencies were present before pain became chronic, thereby acting as a contributing cause of the chronic condition or if the increased demands of the body during healing led to the depletion. In either case, regaining nutrient status is imperative in order for healing to proceed.

Sleep Disturbance

Sleep disturbance is also part of the chronic pain picture. Sleep is when our bodies do the majority of their internal housekeeping; replacing old worn out cells with new healthy ones and eliminating toxins. Loss of sleep slows healing time and increases symptoms considerably. Restoring healthy sleep patterns becomes a high priority for people with chronic pain. Accomplishing this without resorting to strong medications and their associated risks, or decreasing reliance on medications already in use requires a carefully coordinated program of gradually strengthening the body toward self reliance. A wholistic chiropractic treatment approach accomplishes this goal by addressing all aspects of the healing process.

Emotional Stress

Finally, there is the mental and emotional stress that goes along with chronic pain. A host of emotional anxieties ranging from social pressure that says we should carry on in spite of pain to fear of being discredited to fear and denial of being given a frightening diagnosis are all present to varying degrees in chronic pain situations. These anxious thoughts prevent us from taking action while at the same time creating more physical tension, adding insult to injury. It is important to acknowledge these stresses and take steps to resolve them.

If you suffer from chronic pain or are close to someone who does it is important explore all avenues of help. It is particularly beneficial to have a team of experts that you consult with concurrently from a variety of fields. In this way you will be ensured of the best possible and most comprehensive treatment for all aspects of your particular condition.

Tracey Roizman, DC provides traditional chiropractic structural corrections along with kinesiology testing and nutritional therapies. Contact Dr. Roizman for chiropractic treatments and health consultations at 828 225-5575. www.chiroasheville.com or email:traceyroizmandc@gmail.com

Sports Nutrition: The Rules of the Game

by Tracey Roizman, DC, DACBN

What if you could improve your game without breaking a sweat? How, you ask? There are several ways, not withstanding bribery, cheating and performance enhancing drugs. One effective tool all athletes can use safely, that won’t cause a scandal, is visualization. See the race in your mind’s eye, see yourself crossing the finish line, see the ball going precisely where you want it. Your mind gives the commands and your body will make it happen. That’s visualization.

Another valuable method of boosting your sports performance is through the wonders of chemistry. Nutritional chemistry, that is. Your body’s internal energy factory. You don’t have to be a world-class athlete to benefit from a little attention to a few details of what and when you eat. The good part is that all you have to lift is your fork or your water bottle. Want another good part? Your training diet works in your favor around the clock, seven days a week.

The right food at the right time will boost your endurance, increase your strength and help your body put itself back together better and stronger. You needn’t go back to school to become a nutritionist or hire a personal chef. Simply follow a few basic rules and you will reap significant benefits. Instead of breakfast lunch and dinner you’ll start to refer to your meals as “pre-workout”, “workout” and “recovery”. Well, not entirely, but you get the idea.

Sports nutrition doesn’t mean living on pills, powders, and gels. A healthy diet is a healthy diet whether you are an elite athlete, a devout avoider of all forms of physical exertion or somewhere in between. The main difference, aside from strategic timing, is that the athlete needs more carbohydrates, more water, and has slightly higher requirements for certain vitamins and minerals.

Your Pre-Workout Meal:
You will want your pre-exercise or pre-competition meal to be timed a couple of hours before you plan to exercise so that you will not be too hungry or too full. It should be low in fat and fiber as those foods take a long time to leave your stomach and can cause digestive upset.

Your pre workout meal should have lots of carbohydrates, moderate amounts of protein and lots of fluids. To avoid surprises do not experiment with new foods immediately prior to a workout. Some athletes do best on liquid meals prior to a strenuous workout while others can eat large meals with no ill effects.

Sufficient hydration prior to exercising ensures time for water to be absorbed so you’ll have enough reserves to get through the majority of your workout. When exercise is very strenuous and the temperature is high it is easy to lose water faster than it is possible to keep up with your body’s demand.

Your Workout Meal:
Its true, you can eat while you exercise! In fact, during workouts longer than an hour it’s advisable because you will become glucose depleted or hungry or both. A steady replenishing stream of carbohydrates and fluids is the highest priority. Research shows that it is more effective to eat steadily right from the start of exercising as opposed to waiting a couple of hours into your workout. That means not waiting until you feel hungry. In order to accomplish this task without stopping your activity liquid carbohydrate sources such as juices or commercially available powders mixed into drinking water will do the trick.

Optimal hydration guarantees better performance. You don’t have to dip into actual dehydration to suffer the effects of water depletion on your strength, speed and agility. So, don’t wait until you feel thirsty to drink.

Your Post Workout, aka, Recovery Meal:
The timing and content of your recovery meal depends on the timing of your next workout. If you are a triathlete who swims in the morning and runs or cycles in the afternoon you need to replenish glycogen stores in time for your second workout. Here, research shows that the quicker you start replacing lost glucose, i.e., eating carbohydrates, the better. If exercise suppresses your appetite try a liquid form of juice or a powdered mix added to your post workout water supply. This method will also speed absorption of carbohydrates since it bypasses several steps involved in eating and digesting solid food.

If your workout was very long or included significant resistance training it is likely that some muscle breakdown has occurred. Small tears in muscle fibers occur from strenuous exertion at levels reaching your strength limits. This will require protein, and the sooner the better. Moderate amounts added to your post workout meal will make it a bona fide recovery meal.

The idea of devoting the time and energy required to organize your meals to that degree might feel like a part time job and make you wonder if you really like exercising, after all. If you fall into this category, keep in mind that by eating normally it will take 24 hours to fill your energy tanks and repair spent muscle tissue. Plan the next day to be either a rest day or a low intensity workout.

Vitamins and Minerals – The “Other” Nutrients:

As health promoting as exercise is, it actually increases your body’s demands for antioxidants. Free radicals are a by-product of the manufacture of the energy that fuels your workout. To neutralize the harmful effects of these dangerous molecules you’ll need to have plenty of antioxidants on hand. Fruits and veggies are, of course, the first and best source of antioxidants. Supplementation with vitamins C, E, and A is also good insurance.

Several of the B complex vitamins are also important players in making sure that your cells’ energy production machinery moves quickly. A boost of B complex in supplement form is a good idea. Sodium is the primary mineral that gets depleted in exercise through sweat loss. Small amounts of calcium and some other minerals are also present in sweat. A well designed sport drink will give you the right proportion of important minerals and is a step up from plain fruit juice as part of your workout “meal”.

Most importantly, make your workouts fun. Do activities you enjoy that fit your schedule and lifestyle. And even though visualization is a great way to tip the scales in your favor, learning and applying the rules of sports nutrition will help fill in the gaps while you perfect your mental powers.

Tracey Roizman, DC, DACBN offers traditional chiropractic structural corrections and functional neurology techniques along with kinesiology testing and nutritional therapies. Contact Dr. Roizman for chiropractic treatments and health consultations at 828 225-5575. www.chiroasheville.com or email: tracey@chiroasheville.com

Chiropractic Care a Proven Benefit for Headaches

by Tracey Roizman, DC, DACBN

Cures from the Past

For some people headaches are an occasional annoyance, for others a disabling chronic condition. There have been many creative headache cures throughout history. In China around 200 a.d., Hua Tho, a famous surgeon and the discoverer of anesthesia offered to relieve the emperor’s headaches by removing a portion of his skull. In medieval Europe headaches were treated by applying a solution of vinegar and opium to the scalp. And, in the late 1800’s William Gowers, an eminent physician and founder of modern neurology emphasized the importance of a healthy diet. Failing that he recommended nitroglycerin dissolved in alcohol.

The Sensible Solution

Fortunately, modern chiropractic care has a lot to offer headache sufferers. Chiropractic has proven through numerous studies to be highly effective and provide longer and more permanent relief for headaches than even some of the most highly touted wonder drugs. Because headaches are a common health issue, people often accept the idea that they are a normal, inevitable part of life. But headaches, particularly those that recur, are signs that something is wrong. Aspirin and other medications relieve the pain of tension, migraines and cluster headaches without correcting the underlying causes. Moreover, analgesics often cover up the warning signs associated with neck, head and back pain. When those causes are eliminated so also are the headaches that come from them.

An important study by Duke University compared a variety of methods for the treatment of muscle tension headaches. When chiropractic care was compared to the drug amitriptyline the results were greatly in favor of chiropractic therapy. During the six week study the short term effectiveness was similar for each type of therapy. It was the long term benefits in the three months after treatments were discontinued that chiropractic care was shown to have a tremendous advantage over drug therapy.

Patients who had received chiropractic care continued to experience fewer and less severe headaches while patients who’d had drug therapy went back to their previous condition. Additionally, 82% of patients taking amitriptyline reported adverse side effects including fast heart rate, blurred vision, urinary retention, dry mouth, constipation, weight gain or loss, low blood pressure on standing, rash, hives, seizures, and hepatitis.

Another study, this one from Harvard, discovered that chiropractic care is the leading alternative therapy sought by patients seeking relief for headaches. Could it be a healthcare revolution in the making? Let’s hope so.

How it Works

The reason chiropractic care outperforms drug therapy for headaches is simple. Chiropractic care provides lasting relief by removing the causes of headaches and it does so safely. Drugs, on the other hand are designed to put out fires once they’ve started. The preferable solution is obvious and that is why studies and patients support chiropractic for the care and cure of headaches

Headaches have a spectrum of causes or triggers. One of the most common triggers for headaches is cervicogenic problems, meaning ‘arising from the neck’. It’s possible to have a cervicogenic headache in the absence of neck pain.

One of the ways chiropractic treatment helps decrease the occurrence of headaches is by improving the balance of the upper neck. Postural strain is one reason for the neck to become misaligned. Stress from sitting at a desk or computer or from driving accumulates quickly because these are activities we spend a lot of time doing. Traumatic injuries such as slip and fall accidents, auto accidents or athletic injuries cause misalignments in the spine and tension in muscles that get set in.

In many cases the original injuries go back to childhood. These persist and cause a domino effect of underlying weakness that makes the headache sufferer vulnerable to other stressors in the environment. Sinus headaches, which are generally associated with allergies or weather patterns often have a structural component of spinal imbalance together with muscle tension. Your food sensitivity headache, in fact, might respond very well to chiropractic care.

Helping headache sufferers is a daily occurrence in chiropractic clinics. In my practice I see patients whose primary complaint is headaches and I also see patients who come in for general health care and remark that their headaches have vanished since the start of their chiropractic treatments. In all cases the result is less pain and greater health. Certainly, that is preferable to pain pills with their temporary relief and associated side effects. And, best of all you can keep your cranium intact.

Tracey Roizman, DC, DACBN offers traditional chiropractic structural corrections and functional neurology techniques along with kinesiology testing and nutritional therapies. Contact Dr. Roizman for chiropractic treatments and health consultations at 828 225-5575. www.chiroasheville.com  or email: tracey@chiroasheville.com

The Chiropractic Adjustment Demystified

by Tracey Roizman, DC, DACBN

In the early days of the chiropractic profession chiropractors were widely regarded as general practitioners and people sought the help of chiropractors for a wide variety of ailments. Relieving neck and back pain was incidental to the primary aim of promoting optimal health on all levels by affecting the central nervous system through spinal manipulation. In fact, as the story goes the first chiropractic spinal adjustment had the effect of restoring one individual’s ability to hear. From this fortuitous experience a modern profession was born. Since then the chiropractic profession and its supporters; the many patients who have been restored to vibrant health, have enthusiastically expounded upon the important connection between the health of the spinal column and one’s overall health. If you are one of many chiropractic patients who have experienced improvements in digestive disorders, asthma, allergies, high blood pressure, immune function or other health conditions through chiropractic care then you know from firsthand experience how powerful and effective a natural cure can be.

As science catches up with what we have empirically observed we continuously form a more complete picture of how the nervous system works. New knowledge often serves to confirm what we know from experience to be true. So, if you are a chiropractic patient who has wondered just what it is that makes those adjustments work so well, or if you have never been a chiropractic patient but are curious about the possibilities it holds for you then here is some of the most current information on how chiropractic works.

Pain Relief: First Things First

Pain of some sort is what motivates most of us to seek help we’ll start there. In many instances chiropractic has its most immediate effect at the level of pain relief. Spinal adjustments relieve pain by activating a nerve reflex within the spinal cord that inhibits pain messages from reaching the brain. Adjustments have also been shown to cause the release of endorphins. This is a natural healthy method of pain relief which uses your body’s inborn mechanisms of self correction and self healing. There are no adverse side effects and it is not habit forming. A distinct advantage over pain medications, to be sure.

Restoring Balance to the Nervous System

Beyond pain relief your chiropractic adjustments go into the deeper levels of your nervous system. Here, the effect is of calming the overworked adrenal system, relieving stress and promoting the function of the parasympathetic division of your nervous system. This is the part that controls digestion, blood pressure and heart rate, promotes the immune system and initiates the internal housekeeping processes of detoxification. The seemingly simple chiropractic procedure of relieving stress and tension held in your muscles and joints goes a long way toward balancing the divisions of your nervous system for a healthier you. Think of the accelerator and brake in a car. Your adrenal system is the accelerator and your parasympathetic system is the brake. Although you may try, it is not advisable to talk on the phone, eat, or read a map while operating your car. Similarly, your body cannot digest food or fight an infection while tension and stress predominate because they signal the adrenal system, your body’s accelerator, to be on alert and suppress the parasympathetic system, your body’s brake.

Achieving balance within the nervous system insures these divisions ample opportunity to fully carry out their functions. For this reason, chiropractic patients often experience relief from conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, asthma, recurring infections, elevated blood pressure and other chronic ailments.

Restoring Balance to Muscles and Joints

The long term benefits of chiropractic care include retraining your muscles out of their habit of storing stress and tension. Your muscles will form themselves to the shape of your predominant activities, such as sitting. Over time they will lose their pliability and become unable to move out of their tight contracted positions. An exercise program is essential to reverse the effects of prolonged sitting or standing, or of repetitive bending and reaching. In addition, chiropractic care helps bridge the gap by restoring range of motion that stubborn muscles retract through force of habit.

Fighting Gravity

Chiropractic care reorients your body to a neutral position, enabling it to better withstand the effects of gravity. By relieving tension on tight contracted muscles and restoring full healthy range of motion to the joints chiropractic care helps your back and body find its ideal posture. This is where gravity is most effectively neutralized and your muscles are able to function from their strongest positions. Less stress and compression on the joints results, along with less pain, less arthritis and fewer injuries. The less we allow gravity affect us the better we look and feel.

Putting it All Together: The 90:10 Rule

Your brain controls everything your body does, down to each heart beat and eye blink. In order to make these decisions your brain requires input from your body in the form of sensory nerve messages that report on the status and condition of every part of you. Like the CEO of a corporation your brain cannot make decisions in a vacuum, it needs to hear from the work force. All of this input activate the brain and keeps it busy doing what it loves to do; processing incoming information and making the best possible decisions for the good of the whole.

The vast majority of information that reaches your brain comes from your muscles and joints. Known as proprioception, this information comprises fully 90% of the messages that keep your brain humming along. That leaves 10% for everything else, including your busy mind and the thoughts it thinks. So, where are the majority of the brain’s outgoing messages going? Not back to the muscles and joints as you might imagine. 90% of your brain’s output goes to your internal organs; heart, lungs digestive system, etc.. These are the vital behind-the-scenes functions that we don’t normally think about while typing, driving, reading, walking or talking.

Chiropractic adjustments have a unique ability to activate muscle and joint receptors that have become dormant due to lack of use. In so doing, parts of your brain become activated that have similarly become dormant. By virtue of the 90:10 rule, greater input to the brain results in greater output to the body. Or, in other words, a happy brain leads to a happy and healthy body. This can also help explain how a man’s hearing was restored by an adjustment to his neck.

Regular chiropractic care confers all of these benefits. Your chiropractor is one of your best resources in your ongoing quest for better health.

Tracey Roizman, DC, DACBN offers traditional chiropractic structural corrections and functional neurology techniques along with kinesiology testing and nutritional therapies. Contact Dr. Roizman for chiropractic treatments and health consultations at 828 225-5575. www.chiroasheville.com or email: tracey@chiroasheville.com

Stress CounterStress

by Tracey Roizman, DC, DACBN

“A healthy attitude is contagious, but don’t wait to catch it from others.” This quote by a wise person relates to the mental/emotional aspect of the classic triad of health.

From the perspective of health and health care it is your attitude, or more accurately your coping strategies that determine your stress levels. Your stress levels largely determine your state of health.

The Good and the Bad

Usually the term stress has a decidedly undesirable connotation. Studies often show, however, that we actually thrive more, spend more time in our creative “zone”, when we are at work than at leisure. Having a purposeful task and being focused on it is often all it takes to get into your zone. We are designed to be at our best when setting and meeting challenges. Life itself is a calculated risk. “Why not go out on a limb?” as one wise person surmised. “ Isn’t that where the fruit is?”

Certain physical stresses are also known to be healthy. Exercise makes bodies strong and resilient in many ways, from preventing injuries to improving immune function. And even though we usually fight it, gravity is more your friend than you might realize. Weight bearing exercise builds bones by causing a micro-current of electricity in the mineral salts of bone tissue. This electric spark is the signal that starts a series of events that leads to more bone being built. A spark of creativity, so to speak. Conversely, astronauts who spend time in space outside the earth’s gravitational field lose significant bone mass in a short span of time. A sedentary lifestyle will have the same result over a longer time period.

Mental stress is far more subjective than physical stress. An experience or circumstance one person finds stressful might be inspiration, a creative spark, to another. A survey of high-level executives found that these individuals report that adversity inspires them in their jobs. Career politicians typify the thick skinned personality type that can thrive in an arena defined by high-level controversy. Many career politicians are quite long lived as well, further supporting that stress is a matter of perspective.

Idling High

Stress starts in the head and when it escalates, overflows to the body. The term stress response is used to describe the chemical changes that occur following the mental changes that happen when we determine that our immediate or future health and safety are at risk.

Stress chemicals are the same chemicals that your body produces in response to physical exertion. Sitting at your desk and being tense about a work deadline, for example, is the same, at the outset, as far as your body chemistry is concerned as going for a jog. The problem with the work scenario is that your body thinks you are getting ready to go running or at least that you’re getting ready to run away from your job. Understandably, confusion ensues.

At your stress point extra output from the adrenal glands occurs and leads to a surge in blood sugar to accommodate the physical exercise your body is convinced it received an order for. You are now idling at a very high rate. Once your body figures out that it isn’t going anywhere it has to do something with the excess blood sugar. What it does is to put it into long term storage in the form of fat. Some people also respond to feelings of stress by eating to calm their nerves. What they are attempting to do is increase their serotonin levels. In both cases, stress can lead to weight gain.

Along the way to weight gain sharp spikes of adrenal hormones, blood sugar, and insulin add stress to your thyroid gland, which has the job of monitoring and maintaining your overall metabolism. Stress here over time can lead to a variety of undesirable effects having to do with slowing down or conversely, speeding up your metabolism in unhealthy ways.

Additionally, stress leads to suppressed immune function and more frequent bouts with colds and flu. High stress levels impair your ability to think clearly, which effect your productivity and decision making ability. Over time chronic stress alters the balance of neurotransmitters in the brain. Depression and other personality alterations can set in.

De-Stress Early and Often

Whatever the stressors are in your life it is important to manage them so as to prevent your thoughts and feelings about them from making you physically debilitated. Toward that end there are many methods for de-stressing. The best rule of thumb is early and often. It isn’t necessary to wait for stress to accumulate before taking action. Be assured that it will find you. Practicing de-stressing tools regularly cuts stress patterns off in their early stages. Physical exercise trains your body to release stress. Techniques for replacing old mental processes with better ones help to keep stress from leaking out of your head and into your body in the first place.

A combined approach to de-stressing that incorporates physical exercise, preferably outdoors, and a thought process that enables you to put the problem in perspective is ideal. Also helpful is to leave your problem for a while and help work on someone else’s. This allows you to be in a problem-solving mode yet remain more objective than you would be about your own problem. When you go back to your problem, some of that objectivity will stay with you.

As a chiropractor I treat the effects of stress on my patients every day. I, and many of my patients find that chiropractic care is a wonderful tool for stress reduction. Oftentimes people aren’t aware of how much stress they carry. Our bodies are very good at accommodating us, up to a point. It is best not to reach that point. Regular chiropractic care relieves stress in the deeper connective tissues. Some chiropractors, myself included, also evaluate and treat impaired breathing patterns that arise from stress, thus increasing the amount of oxygen available to your cells.

And finally, read inspiring quotes to help regain perspective and manage stress. For example, as you advance through your life’s challenges you might keep in mind the words of another wise individual who said, “Success doesn’t make you and failure doesn’t break you.”


Ph.: (828) 225-5575

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