Why Is Shoulder Pain So Common?

By: Dr. Alyssa Musgrove – Pathways to Healing

The shoulder is the most complex joint in the human body. Studies show nearly 90 percent of the population will tear or damage their rotator cuff, labrum and/or shoulder capsule at some point in their lives. Most of us are unaware of how important the shoulder is until we injure it. Shoulder pain of any sort can make daily activities like combing your hair, brushing your teeth, sleeping and getting dressed complicated and painful.

The reason for the high prevalence of shoulder injury is due to the anatomy and structure of the shoulder. The human shoulder is made up of a complicated system of bones, joints, connective tissue and muscles. The shoulder’s ball and socket joint allow for excellent mobility, but unfortunately a joint cannot be both highly stable and highly mobile. In the case of the shoulder, mobility comes at the expense of stability.

There are many ways we can injure the shoulder, such as falling, throwing, lifting, painting, cleaning, swinging a tennis racket or golf club. Problems can also occur from natural wear and tear over time. One of the biggest challenges in managing shoulder pain is finding the origin. Shoulder pain can be musculoskeletal in nature, it can be referred pain from a visceral organ, it can result from overuse (as in the cases of bursitis or tendonitis), there can be tears in the connective tissue, bone spurs or muscle imbalance.

What’s more, the shoulder is slow to recover from injury. Some research shows only about half of all new shoulder pain episodes achieve complete recovery within six months. Factor in aging, chronic health conditions that slow healing (like diabetes), and hobbies or jobs that are repetitive in nature and increase the risk of re-injury, and it is easy to see why many don’t make a full recovery from shoulder pain.

Chiropractors, physical therapists, acupuncturists and orthopedists are just a few specialists who can help ease shoulder pain. The use of manipulation, mobilization, magnetic field therapy, TENS unit and modalities like cold lasers can help tremendously, but some shoulder injuries do require surgery. If your shoulder pain has not resolved on its own by resting 1 to 2 weeks, you should check with your doctor. However, that does NOT mean you should wait two weeks before seeing someone about your shoulder. Some people ignore nagging pain for weeks or even months, but the sooner you see a doctor the quicker you can begin treatment and resolve the issue before surgery becomes the only option.

When it comes to keeping our shoulders healthy, an ounce of prevention is truly worth a pound of cure.  Here are a few ways to protect your shoulders on a daily basis:

  1. When working with your arms overhead, take small breaks to let the shoulder recover.
  2. Do not reach in the back seat and lift a heavy purse, bag or briefcase at an awkward angle in order to get it to the front seat.
  3. If you are facing a challenging task, request a helping hand. Do not feel insecure about asking for help.  It is better to be safe than sorry!
  4. Follow an exercise program that maintains strength in your shoulders and contains opposition exercises to keep the shoulder muscles balanced. For example, if you are going to do push-ups, make sure you also do pull-ups. In this way, both sides of the body are strengthened for optimal balance and pain-free function.

The following stretches can be done at home to help further balance the shoulder joint and prevent simple injuries:

90, 90 shoulder stretch
Stand in your doorway, holding your arms up so your elbow is at a 90-degree angle and your arm forms a 90-degree angle to your body at the shoulder. Place each hand on the side of the door frame making sure your wrist and elbow also make contact with the door frame. Place both feet in the doorway and lean forward as you brace yourself against the door frame. Make sure your neck is aligned with your spine. Do not drop your chin — keep it parallel to the floor. Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds and repeat 2-3 times.

Pendulum exercise
Bend at your waist with one hand hanging down and your other arm supporting your upper body on a table or chair. Relax your hanging arm completely and swing it gently and slowly in a figure 8 direction in both clockwise and counterclockwise. You can grasp a light weight, such as a soup can, while smoothly swinging the arm. Circle 10-15 times each direction, do 1-2 sets per day.

Finger wall walks
Face a wall. Using one arm at a time, slowly walk your fingers up the wall, moving your arm upward as far as you can reach comfortably. Then walk your fingers gradually back down the wall (STOP if there is any point of pain). Repeat 10-20 times.

Cross-body reach
Lift one arm at the elbow and bring it up and across your body and hold a stretch for 20-30 seconds. Each day try working on reaching further across your body in order to increase mobility.

Towel stretch
Take a small towel that is about 3 feet long and hold each side with your hand. Bring the towel behind your back and grab the opposite end with the other hand. Pull the top arm upward while also pulling the other lower arm downward to stretch your shoulders. You can also hold the towel on both ends while pulling with both arms to keep the towel tight and raise your arms in front of you and above your head, keeping elbows straight at all times.

Pathways to Healing specializes in holistic chiropractic care. Dr. Alyssa Musgrove draws on a variety of techniques, including chiropractic, kinesiology, nutrition, food allergy testing and lifestyle counseling to assist clients in achieving optimal health and wellness in one setting. Pathways to Healing is located at 1022 Founders Row, Lake Oconee Village, Greensboro. The office can be reached at 706-454-2040.

Pathways to Healing: Health Benefits Of Oregano Oil

February 21, 2019

By: Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

If you’ve ever made Italian food, you’ve likely reached for dried oregano to add Mediterranean flavor to your favorite sauce. But this humble herb can be used for much more than simply flavoring your favorite dishes. In the world of essential oils, oregano oil is a powerful tool that provides a wide variety of healing benefits and uses.

To create oregano oil, medicinal grade oregano is distilled to extract the essential oil from the herb, which is where a high concentration of the herb’s active ingredients are found. When made into a medicinal supplement or essential oil, oregano is often called “oil of oregano.” Oil of oregano contains two powerful compounds called carvacrol and thymol, both of which have been shown in studies to have strong antibacterial and antifungal properties.

In fact, oregano oil may rival antibiotics when it comes to treating and preventing various infections. In 2011, the Journal of Medicinal Food published a study that evaluated the antibacterial effect of oregano oil against five types of bad bacteria. Oil of oregano showed significant antibacterial properties against all five species. The highest activity was observed against E. Coli, which suggests that oregano oil could potentially be used to promote gastrointestinal health and to prevent food poisoning. (When traveling internationally, I always pack oregano oil capsules to help fight foreign germs I may come in contact with.)

Another study found that a combination of heat, salt and use of essential oils (including oregano) had effects against strains of bacteria that commonly cause the fungal infection known as athlete’s foot. After testing the fungicidal activity of 11 essential oils against the bacteria known to cause athlete’s foot, oregano oil was found to be the most powerful (followed by thyme, cinnamon, lemongrass and clove).

Oregano essential oil also helps balance bacteria and fight yeast overgrowth, making it a popular natural treatment for Candida and small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). (SIBO is a common digestive problem that causes gas, bloating and intolerances to many carbohydrate-containing foods.) Oregano oil hinders bacterial replication and can be used for treating infections that affect digestive health and nutrient absorption. Thymol, one of oregano’s active compounds, may help relax the soft tissue of the throat and stomach, which can help to decrease GERD, heartburn and discomfort after eating.

Oregano oil is safe as long as it’s diluted in water or with a carrier oil (some of my top choices are jojoba, olive and coconut oils). The ideal ratio when diluting this herbal oil is one part oregano oil to three parts carrier oil. Before using oregano oil, be sure to conduct a spot test to check for allergic reactions. Simply apply a diluted drop on your arm and see if any irritation occurs. Oregano oil can be used topically, diffused or taken internally. 

Ideally, you want to purchase 100 percent pure, unfiltered, Certified USDA Organic oregano oil. If taking internally, the oil must be 100 percent therapeutic grade. The oil is very strong and hot, so start with less and add more as needed. Be careful when buying oregano oil, as some manufacturers sell adulterated oils and oils made from thyme, Spanish oregano, or cultivated oregano, which DO NOT provide any health benefits.

I take oregano essential oil internally for a maximum of two weeks, in most cases, because it’s so powerful. When taking oregano oil internally, it should always be diluted with water or mixed with coconut oil. I find it’s helpful to combine oregano oil with olive oil in capsules to avoid burning the throat. Oregano oil is also available as soft gels or capsules to take internally without the mess of trying to make your own capsules.

The dried herb oregano is typically fine for pregnant women but, generally speaking, it is not considered safe to use oregano oil during pregnancy. If side effects, such as nausea, dizziness or an allergic reaction are ever experienced, then stop using oregano oil immediately and consider seeing a doctor. Because oregano oil might interfere with other medications, always ask your doctor if it’s safe for you to take it internally. Some people may experience stomach upset when ingesting oregano oil (or even the herb itself). Those who are allergic to plants from the Lamiaceae family (mint, lavender, sage and basil) should also avoid this oil, as they may also develop an allergic reaction.

Pathways to Healing specializes in holistic chiropractic care. Dr. Alyssa Musgrove draws on a variety of techniques, including chiropractic, kinesiology, nutrition, food allergy testing and lifestyle counseling to assist clients in achieving optimal health and wellness in one setting. Pathways to Healing is located at 1022 Founders Row, Lake Oconee Village, Greensboro. The office can be reached at 706-454-2040.

Do You Have a Tech Headache?

By: Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

Technology offers many conveniences in terms of staying connected and entertained via small devices that fit in our pockets. But, unfortunately, as smartphones and gadgets get smarter, our posture gets weaker.

When we stand in proper alignment, the cervical spine (neck) and surrounding structures are able to support the weight of the head, which on average weighs about 10 pounds. When we look down at a phone, computer or electronic device (something we do on average between 2 to 4 hours a day), the neck is flexed forward and the weight of the head increases dramatically. In fact, a researcher by the last name of Hansraj evaluated the amount of pressure placed on the neck and shoulders when the head is at varying degrees. He concluded when the head is tilted just 15 degrees forward, it nearly triples the head weight to about 27 pounds felt on the neck and shoulders. At 45 degrees of tilt, head weight increases to about 50 pounds on the neck and shoulders.

“Text neck” and “tech headaches” refers to conditions caused by chronically holding your head flexed and forward, as we do when looking at our handheld devices. This new societal posture norm generates a tremendous amount of unnecessary stress to the posture system and, over time, is the culprit of many symptoms people experience on a daily basis.

Chronically maintaining a forward head posture can lead to muscle strain, headaches, neck pain, shoulder pain and TMJ (jaw) pain. Forward head posture can also cause disc injury, pinched nerves, early arthritic changes of the neck, numbness and tingling in the arms, hands and fingers. As the head moves forward and your upper back and shoulders become rounded and hunched, lung capacity decreases, resulting in shallow improper breathing that restricts the amount of oxygen reaching your tissues.

Here are several simple steps you can take today to avoid developing degenerative neck changes, muscle strains and pain from “text neck” and “tech headaches”:

Limit the time

Limit the amount of time you use your device. If you must sit for an extended period of time, take breaks to change your posture, move around and stretch. Develop a habit of taking a two to three-minute break for every 15 to 20 minutes you use your device or sit at a desk. Utilize your smart device to set automatic reminders and that will notify you when to take a break, stretch and reposition.

Raise the device

Elevate your device as close to eye-level as possible. (You can find holders for devices that make this possible.) Also, be aware of the placement of your computer screen. You should be able to look forward without looking down to view the screen. Simply lifting the computer screen to eye level will help maintain proper posture throughout the day.

Stretch

Chin tucks are a great exercise to stretch the neck. Move your chin backward towards your chest without moving it up or down and hold for five seconds as you feel a comfortable stretch at the base of your skull. You can also tilt the head to one side, bringing the ear close to the shoulder. You may use your hand to pull your head further into the stretch (best done while exhaling your breath), holding the stretch up to 20 seconds. You can also do the same thing while rotating your head from side to side to reach different muscles, repeating 3-5 times on each side.

A doorway can be helpful for stretching chest muscles. Place your palms flat against either side of the doorframe, with your shoulders and elbows at a 90-degree angle to your forearms. Lean forward until you feel a stretch in your pectoral muscles and hold for 30 seconds at a time.

Rest the head

If you sit at a desk for long periods of time, switch to a chair with a headrest and focus on keeping the back of your head in contact with the headrest, trying to keep your chin parallel to the ground and avoid looking down. You can also practice this while driving — focus on pressing the back of your head on the headrest in the car and bringing the shoulders back.

Be aware of pain

Use pain as a warning sign to check yourself. Experiencing pain in your neck, burning between the shoulder blades, numbness or tingling in the arms or frequent headaches is your body’s way of telling you to act quickly and make a change. Pay attention to these warning signs and take action before a more serious permanent issue arises.

If your symptoms do not improve after incorporating new posture methods, stretching and reducing the time spent on handheld devices, then it may be time to seek help from a qualified professional. Chiropractic adjustments can help relieve joint pain, reduce tight muscles and promote posture habit re-education. The sooner you seek treatment, the more likely it is that you will have success in treating the problem and keep it from progressing to permanent damage.

Pathways to Healing specializes in holistic chiropractic care. Dr. Alyssa Musgrove draws on a variety of techniques, including chiropractic, kinesiology, nutrition, food allergy testing and lifestyle counseling to assist clients in achieving optimal health and wellness in one setting. Pathways to Healing is located at 1022 Founders Row, Lake Oconee Village, Greensboro. The office can be reached at 706-454-2040.

 

Bee Pollen

By: Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

We’ve all heard about the numerous health benefits of raw honey but the same honeybees responsible for honey actually produce something even more nutritious and beneficial to our health: bee pollen.

As bees buzz from flower to flower the pollen collected from various blossoms is mixed with a small dose of nectar from the bees’ salivary glands. This mixture is then placed in small “baskets” on their hind legs to be taken back to the hive as food for the colony. As these microscopic pollen particles accumulate on the legs, they begin looking like little balls of yellow fuzz. Beekeepers use special devices called “pollen traps” to collect this pollen as the field bees return to their hives.

Research has shown bee pollen to be one of nature’s most nourishing foods. Rich in vitamins, minerals, proteins, lipids, fatty acids and enzymes, bee pollen acts as an antioxidant to help us fight free radicals. Bee pollen also contains antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties that stimulate our immune system, reduce inflammation, enhance energy and support the cardiovascular system. In fact, it has been reported that regular ingestion of bee pollen in the diet decreases low-density lipoproteins (LDL) and increases high-density lipoproteins (HDL), which helps normalize cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

In 1948, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) published a very important article on bee pollen in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. According to the article, there was a delay in the development of mammary tumors and some mice became tumor-free following ingestion of mice chow mixed with bee pollen. Additionally, the high concentration of RNA and DNA nucleic acids in bee pollen have been shown to help prevent the premature aging of cells and stimulate the growth of new skin cells. Bee pollen stimulates blood supply to skin cells and helps with detoxification. The result is healthier, younger looking skin that is less vulnerable to wrinkles.

Bee pollen may offer relief for allergy sufferers, as well. Utilizing a technique called desensitization, a person can ingest a small amount of the allergen (in this case bee pollen), to stimulate the immune system to produce antibodies that will eliminate the effects of allergy symptoms and reactions when exposed to the offending substance. It is advised to start taking bee pollen at least six weeks before allergy season begins and continue throughout the season for maximal benefit. 

Perhaps most intriguing, bee pollen can boost the energy of high-performance individuals, enhancing athletic performance and strength naturally. Here is what the Finnish coach Antii Lananaki had to say after his track team swept the Olympics in 1972, “Most of our athletes take bee pollen food supplements. Our studies and experience show it significantly improves their performance. There have been no negative results since we have been supplying pollen to our athletes.”

You can purchase bee pollen from a local beekeeper you trust (I buy mine from the local farmers market to make sure that the pollen is free from pesticides and that the bee colonies are not harmed or treated with chemicals). You can also find bee pollen in most health food stores.

Bee pollen pellets or granules can be swallowed alone, added to smoothies or sprinkled over salads. The granules can be blended or ground and mixed with honey, yogurt or food items of your choice. Pollen pellets can be added to warm water and left for two to three hours as they crack and release their nutritional value. You then can drink the liquid or mix with fruit or vegetable juice to gain awesome bee pollen benefits.

It is safe for most people to take bee pollen by mouth, however, there are some caveats. If you are allergic to bees or pollen, you should start slowly – taking just one teaspoon of pollen a day.  If you notice any itching, swelling, lightheadedness or shortness of breath after consuming bee pollen, stop taking it immediately. Additionally, women who are pregnant should ask their healthcare provider before using bee pollen, as it may stimulate ovarian function.

Grab your bee pollen now to boost your nutrient intake naturally as studies show it contains nearly all nutrients required by the human body to thrive.

Pathways to Healing specializes in holistic chiropractic care. Dr. Alyssa Musgrove draws on a variety of techniques, including chiropractic, kinesiology, nutrition, food allergy testing and lifestyle counseling to assist clients in achieving optimal health and wellness in one setting. In addition, the practice is committed to being a valuable source of information so that people can learn how to live a healthy lifestyle and prevent future illness. Pathways to Healing is located at 1022 Founders Row, Lake Oconee Village, Greensboro. The office can be reached at 706-454-2040.

How To Maximize The Shelf Life Of Your Produce

Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

Spending hard-earned money on groceries that never actually reach your plate is like throwing away cash. Because most of us do not have the time to visit grocery stores or farmers markets daily to get fresh produce, we tend to buy produce all at once, which can lead to early spoiling if we don’t utilize proper storage techniques. For example, refrigeration causes some foods to spoil faster. Other types of produce should be ripened at room temperature to reach their best taste potential. What follows are some helpful guidelines for keeping your food fresher, longer, as well as tips and tricks to enjoy maximum flavor.

Fruits

  • For gradual ripening, keep fruits separated.  Fruits release ethylene gases during the ripening process, which can cause other produce to ripen more rapidly.
  • The following fruits are best ripened on the counter first, then refrigerated: kiwi, nectarine, peach, pear, and plum.
  • Storing bananas in the refrigerator can disrupt the ripening process. Once refrigerated, a banana may never be able to resume the ripening process if returned to room temperature. If your bananas are turning bad, cut up, freeze and use in smoothies or for banana bread.
  • Refrigeration shuts down the ripening enzymes in avocados, so unless you want to stop the ripening process, keep avocados on the counter.
  • To ripen avocados quickly, put the un-ripened avocado in a brown paper bag.  Be sure to fold the top over to close the bag, and then check the bag daily to remove ripened ones.  This ripening trick also works for tomatoes.
  • Apples lose flavor and texture when refrigerated, so if you prefer eating apples cold, place them in the fridge 30 minutes before eating.
  • Avoid washing berries until right before you eat them, as wetness encourages mold growth. Berries can be refrigerated in a drawer uncovered or in a vented container.
  • To keep your pineapple longer, cut the leafy top off and store the pineapple upside down. This also helps redistribute sugars that sink to the bottom during shipping and transport.
  • Lemons can be stored in a bowl full of water in the fridge in order to get the longest shelf life. 

Vegetables

  • Winter squash, butternut squash, acorn squash, and pumpkins should all be stored at room temperature.
  • When exposed to cold temperatures, the starch in sweet potatoes turns to sugar, disrupting their flavor and texture – and increasing their overall sugar content. Store sweet potatoes, yams, and regular potatoes in a cool dark area of the kitchen or pantry for the longest shelf life, up to 2 months in a paper bag!
  • Tomatoes lose flavor and become mushy when refrigerated. Spread them out on the counter, out of direct sunlight for even ripening, as well as better taste and texture.
  • To get the longest shelf life for onions, place them in a paper bag, and store them in a cool, dark cabinet.
  • Garlic will last up to 4 months if stored away from heat and light. The pantry is a great location. 
  • Ideally, leafy greens should be consumed within 1 to 2 days of purchase to ensure you are getting the most nutrients. You can extend the shelf life by wrapping unwashed leaves in a paper towel. (The towel will absorb any excess moisture and prevent soggy rotten leaves.) After wrapping the unwashed greens in a paper towel, put them in a plastic bag and store them in your fridge.
  • Asparagus should be stored upright in the refrigerator with a damp towel wrapped around the base or upright in a cup with the stems in an inch of water.
  • Celery should be kept in the front of the refrigerator where it is less likely to freeze.  Or you can cut celery and submerge in a tall cup of water.

Coffee and Herbs

  • Coffee is best stored at room temperature in order to allow the natural oils of the coffee bean to activate its powerful aromatic scent. Be aware that coffee can also absorb odors from other foods in your fridge or freezer.
  • Wrap rosemary, thyme, parsley, and cilantro in a moist paper towel, place in air-tight containers and refrigerate for up to ten days.
  • Basil is best kept on the countertop with the stems in water and the top lightly covered with plastic.

Finally, remove pesticide residue from your produce by mixing one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to one cup of water, and soak desired fruit or vegetable. Stir periodically for five minutes before draining, rinsing, and using.

These storage tips will help keep your fruit and vegetable purchases fresher longer so you get your money’s worth.

Pathways to Healing specializes in holistic chiropractic care. Dr. Alyssa Musgrove draws on a variety of techniques, including chiropractic, kinesiology, nutrition, food allergy testing and lifestyle counseling to assist clients in achieving optimal health and wellness in one setting. In addition, the practice is committed to being a valuable source of information so that people can learn how to live a healthy lifestyle and prevent future illness. Pathways to Healing is located at 1022 Founders Row, Lake Oconee Village, Greensboro. The office can be reached at 706-454-2040.