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.

SAD_Tips For Surviving Winter

By Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

Being from the Great White North, a.k.a. Alaska, I have encountered numerous people affected by the “winter blues.” As we head into the height of the winter season, cooler weather combines with shorter periods of daylight and sunshine. Some people welcome this seasonal change, but others may experience something more serious — a type of depression called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). SAD is a form of clinical depression that comes and goes based on a specific seasonal pattern, hitting around the same time each year. Studies show about half a million Americans are affected by SAD.

SAD symptoms vary from person to person. Symptoms can start out mild and become more severe in peak winter months. People suffering from SAD may experience a loss of interest in activities or decrease in motivation to socialize with friends and family.  Other common symptoms include trouble sleeping, decrease in energy, weight gain, irritability, and appetite changes — especially cravings for foods high in sugar and carbohydrates.

Unsurprisingly, location makes a difference in the occurrence of this condition since sunlight and temperature play a major role. SAD is more common among people who live far north or south of the equator due to abbreviated daylight hours. For example, in my hometown in Fairbanks, Alaska on December 21 (the shortest day of the year) there is about 3 to 4 hours of daylight and temperatures are often below zero. You can imagine the effect this has on the brain and body! In Georgia, the shortest day of the year still has 9 to 10 hours of daylight and is not as cold.

It can be challenging to differentiate if a person is suffering from “traditional” depression or seasonal depression, but the main difference is the duration.  With SAD, feelings will begin in September, be the worst in peak winter months, and ease up once spring rolls around in March or April. Health professionals typically wait to see if symptoms persist over two or three consecutive winter seasons before making an official diagnosis, however, no one should have to wait that long to start feeling better! There are several natural remedies that can provide relief.

Vitamin D is known as the “Sunshine Vitamin” because the body produces it when exposed to the sun. Low vitamin D levels have been linked to depression. Check with your doctor to make sure your vitamin D levels are up to par. Adding a supplement could help you feel better, while also improving bone health and boosting your immune system.

It can be challenging to get to the gym or go outside when you are not feeling great, but regular exercise has been proven to help with all types of depression. Staying active increases the production of endorphins – those feel-good chemicals that help ease depressive feelings and clear brain fog. One study showed just 20-30 minutes of walking for 10 consecutive days was enough to significantly reduce depression.

Research also has shown consistency and frequency of exercise has more positive effects then duration or intensity. You do not need to run a marathon or lift massively heavy weights in order to reap the benefits of exercise. Join a group fitness class, walking club or practice yoga. Also, when there is a ray of sunshine or the temperature is tolerable, take advantage! Get as much natural light as possible — your brain and body will thank you for it later. If you can squeeze in a workout outside, great! But even playing fetch with the dog outside will boost your body’s ability to make proper hormones and regulate your circadian rhythm.

Talking it out is another option. Cognitive behavioral therapy is a type of psychotherapy that helps people change unhealthy habits of thinking, feeling and behaving into positive solutions. Reach out to friends and family, and establish a support network to help ease feelings of isolation.

Finally, be sure to eat a healthy diet. People with SAD tend to crave sweet treats and sugary carbs, which make them look and feel worse. Try to focus on lean protein, leafy greens and fish, which will keep hormones in check and boost serotonin.

These simple lifestyle changes can greatly impact overall mood and health – and help minimize the “winter blues,” should they come knocking on your door this winter. 

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 Need To Detox?

By Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

When people hear the word “detox,” they often think of drug addicts or alcoholics undergoing therapy to rid themselves of toxins they have put into their bodies. However, these days, it’s becoming more common for people to mention a “detox” (or “cleanse”) in terms of a specific diet program to help rid their bodies of chemicals and toxins, while also encouraging weight loss. This time of year, after all the guilty indulgences of the holidays, people are particularly motivated to “clean up their act.” Many of these detox programs are tempting since they offer a “quick fix” and fast weight loss. 

There are many trendy detoxification plans and programs that promise miraculous results, but are they really healthy and is a detox all about losing weight? The truth is, most detoxes marketed in the media are not healthy — especially the ones that focus on eating or drinking one thing during the course of the cleanse. One example is the “Master Cleanse,” where you drink only lemon water with maple syrup and cayenne pepper for several days. Naturally, you will lose weight, and lemon water is good for cleansing the body.  However just doing this alone is not good for your health.

The purpose of a good detox program should be to improve and optimize your body’s own detoxification systems and cleanse the body from the inside out — not just on losing weight. Done correctly, a detox helps decrease the number of toxins we put into our bodies, while also supporting our body’s detoxification and elimination systems with the nutrients it needs to function properly.

We live in a toxic world and are inundated with a myriad of chemicals on a daily basis. Many times, when we think of environmental toxins, we visualize smog over a city, cigarette smoke, exhaust fumes from a car, or pollution from a factory smokestack. What we fail to realize, is that most of our toxic exposure is found indoors rather than outdoors. Like sponges, our bodies absorb toxins from the air we breathe, from the foods we eat, from personal care products we use on our skin and from the toxic things we touch. Municipal water supplies have been found to contain more than 2,100 chemicals. Non-organically grown foods contain pesticides, herbicides and chemicals that our bodies will store in fat cells when they cannot be detoxified. Processed foods are filled with synthetic chemicals such as flavorings, dyes, preservatives, bleaching agents and artificial sweeteners.

Toxins build up over time and can impact the function of our bodies, leading to symptoms such as fatigue, joint pain, sinus congestion, headaches, constipation, diarrhea, gas, cravings, stubborn weight loss, acne, skin problems and PMS. Environmental toxins can even affect a growing baby in the womb. According to a report by the Environmental Working Group, blood samples taken from umbilical cords were tested and found to contain over 287 contaminants including mercury, pesticides, DDT and even fire retardants, which can alter learning ability, memory, behavior and hearing.

Doing a good detox once or twice a year can help cleanse and improve the body’s detoxification systems. Some simple steps you can take are:

1 Choose to drink pure, refreshing spring water, or quality filtered water, rather than tap water. Water is the body’s most important nutrient, and our body’s natural detoxification process is dependent on good water.

2 Choose to eat REAL FOODS, meaning foods found in nature that can be picked, gathered and hunted. Processed food is filled with a multitude of chemicals. “The less doctored your food, the less doctoring you will need.”

3 Choose to breathe quality air by avoiding exposure to exhaust fumes and secondhand smoke. Wait inside the airport terminal rather than outside on the curb, and limit walking or exercising along busy streets. Studies have shown a relationship between increased pollution and increased plaque in carotid arteries.

4 Choose more natural, environmentally friendly cleaning products. Something as simple as vinegar and water can be used for windows, mopping floors and various other cleaning chores. You can also find quality choices in grocery stores or health food stores.

5 Choose to exercise. Exercise increases the oxygen in your tissues, improves elimination, builds the strength of bones, muscles and joints, and helps us to sweat, which is important in helping eliminate toxins from the body. We have two to three million sweat glands in our skin. The skin is our largest organ of elimination and sometimes referred to as our “third kidney.”

6 Choose a healthy supplement. Taking a good quality multivitamin and mineral supplement can help your body function more optimally. Also, taking a good quality supplement to support your organs of detoxification is important and beneficial while doing a quality detoxification program.

7 Choose to relax. Getting your body and mind into a relaxed state on a daily basis helps to calm you and improve your body’s detoxification systems.

Choose to “clean up your act” this year with healthy detoxification. If you are interested in receiving a toxicity questionnaire and a list of healthy food replacements that will help you in cleansing your body, please email me at pathwaysth@gmail.com or call 706-454-2040.

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, GA.

Frankincense: The “King” Of Essential Oils

By Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

Frankincense oil has been prized since ancient times. Just the mention of it likely brings to mind the Christmas story – frankincense was among the gifts offered to the newborn Jesus by the wise men.  Its value in ancient times surpassed that of gold, and frankincense was often traded and used by those in North Africa, the Middle East, and Egypt. In fact, there are records citing frankincense as a valuable trade commodity as far back as 3,000 BC.

But can this ancient oil still benefit us today?

Frankincense oil is derived from the dried sap, or resin, or the Boswellia tree. The resin is then steam distilled to create a potent – and pricey — essential oil. Frankincense is one of the few essential oils to contain sesquiterpenes, enabling it to go beyond the blood-brain barrier and help stimulate the limbic system in your brain. The oil has a woody, earthy, spicy and slightly fruity aroma that is calming and relaxing.

Frankincense has analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and antiseptic properties. The use of frankincense can be traced back to Hippocrates, a Greek physician credited with being the “father of medicine.” Hippocrates used frankincense oil for numerous conditions including toothaches, leprosy, indigestion, chronic coughs, hemorrhoids and the healing of wounds and sores. Other ancient civilizations, such as the Egyptians, used frankincense for perfumes, embalming fluid, and even facial treatments.

Today, frankincense is still effective in reducing pain and inflammation. In 2009, a study published in Phytotherapy Research, found Boswellia extracts inhibited pro-inflammatory molecules involved in joint cartilage degradation. Another study published in PubMed in 2012 found frankincense oil was found to have antinociceptive (pain sensation-blocking) properties in animals. Researched published in BioMed Central’s open access journal for arthritis showed significant improvement in osteoarthritis symptoms in as little as seven days after using frankincense.

Frankincense has also been shown to improve immune function, help fight infections and cleanse and detoxify the body. According to a study published in the Journal of Oncology, frankincense was able to shrink tumors and kill cancer cells. Other studies have shown frankincense may help in the treatment of Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, asthma, and anxiety.

Frankincense helps healthy cell regeneration and keeps existing cells and tissues healthy. This oil may help with aging by rejuvenating the skin, reducing the appearance of blemishes, razor bumps, scars, and stretch marks. I add a couple of drops to my face moisturizer every morning!

Frankincense oil can be used topically or diffused through the air. Both methods are very effective since the molecules of the oils are so small that they easily pass through the skin or the olfactory system into the bloodstream, where they can begin to protect and heal the body. After entering the bloodstream, essential oils are circulated to the tissues and organs in the body, and then into the lymphatic system. The oils will typically last anywhere from 12-24 hours and will eventually be eliminated through normal body functions. When essential oils are combined with massage they can have a longer lasting effect, up to several days.

Like many essential oils, frankincense should be combined with a carrier oil prior to applying it directly to the skin. Frankincense is generally safe, however, it is always advised to do a spot test first to check if you have any sensitivity to the oil. Applying 3-6 drops of frankincense oil to the bottom of your feet (along with a carrier oil) can balance your mood and promote feelings of relaxation, peace, and overall wellness. The oil is also quickly absorbed when applied behind the ears and on the wrists. For infants and small children, the oil should be diluted with a fractionated coconut oil (about 1-3 tablespoons of fractionated oil to 1-3 drops of essential oil for infants and one teaspoon of carrier oil to 1-3 drops of essential oil for children ages 2-5.)

Frankincense oil and clove oil can be diffused together to boost your immune system, protect you from getting colds, or to help you recover more quickly if you do catch a cold.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Apples

By Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

Red_Apples“An apple a day keeps the doctor away” – it’s a saying we have all heard at some point in our lives.  Caroline Taggart, author of An Apple a Day: Old-Fashioned Proverbs and Why They Still Work, says this saying came from Wales in the 1860s. The original verbiage was, “Eat an apple on going to bed, and you’ll keep the doctor from earning his bread.”

So, does an apple a day really keep the doctor away? A JAMA Internal Medicine study sought to find out just that. The result? Evidence does not support that an apple a day keeps the doctor away. Data showed only 39% of apple eaters avoided physician visits versus 33% of non-apple eaters. But don’t let a lack of firm scientific evidence cause you to completely overlook the humble apple. Turns out this American favorite actually boasts many health benefits.

Apples contain a large number of phytochemicals including quercetin, which is a flavonoid. Flavonoids are a diverse group of plant chemicals found in almost all fruits and vegetables and are what give flowers and fruits their bright colors. Flavonoids provide many health benefits such as antioxidants, which help to protect against cancer, and other anti-inflammatory agents. Quercetin flavonoids are thought to protect against “bad,” LDL cholesterol and could help to lower blood pressure.

Dr. Alyssa Picking ApplesAdditionally, results of a study published by the Journal of Food Science, suggest that fresh apples, bananas and oranges in our daily diet, along with other fruits, may protect neuron cells against oxidative stress-induced neurotoxicity and may play an important role in reducing the risk of neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease.

When I conduct nutritional consultations, one of the topics I always discuss is gut health.  As it turns out, apples have a place in that discussion. Apples provide pectin, a soluble fiber that is also a prebiotic. A prebiotic is a non-digestible dietary nutrient, which beneficially influences intestinal bacteria by stimulating their growth. These “friendly” bacteria fight inflammation and prevent a host of digestive problems. In essence, apples provide your gut bacteria the food they need to do their job.

Within the last year, half a dozen studies have touted the benefits of apple peels.  One study in the journal Nutrition and Cancer found the peels of organic Gala apples, “showed a significant decrease in growth and survival of human prostate carcinoma and breast carcinoma.” The study concludes, “Apple peels may possess strong anti-proliferative effects against cancer cells, and [they] should not be discarded from the diet.”

Red AppleApple peels have the highest concentration of nutrients, so keep the peel on. But, when eating the peel, remember that organic is the best choice.  The Environmental Working Group has listed apples on its annual “Dirty Dozen” list for the last several years. Moreover, while it might be easier to “drink” your apples in the form of fruit juice, you may be better off sticking with the whole fruit. A study in the British Medical Journal found juice drinkers were at a higher risk of type 2 diabetes, while those who consumed three servings per week of whole apples, blueberries, grapes, raisins or pears reduced their type 2 diabetes risk by 7%.

Healthy to the core, but that’s where it stops. Why? Well, inside the core of an apple lies its reproductive component — the seed, or pip — which can release cyanide, a powerful poison, when it comes into contact with your digestive enzymes. Not to worry too much though. One or two of these seeds will not be harmful to an adult, but if a child swallows a large number of seeds you should seek medical attention immediately.

Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

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.