5 Ways to Simply and Effectively Treat Common Pregnancy Aches and Pains

English: Close up of the belly of a pregnant w...

Pregnancy Aches and Pains

A growing fetus can create joint and muscular problems for the mother-to-be.  As muscles, tendons, and ligaments in the body try to stretch and adapt, these tissues can get strained.  When overworked, the tissue pain will occur either in the attached joint, or in the muscle itself.

The Sciaticare Ball, by August Point Wellness, is a simple, versatile tool that can help ease the aches and pains during the second and third trimesters, when the fetus is nearing its maximum size.  The Sciaticare Ball is designed to provide accurate therapeutic pressure (through the user’s own bodyweight) to relieve muscular tightness and spasms.  The Ball is meant to be used as often as possible during pregnancy to help keep muscles loose and promote healthy blood circulation.  Here are 5 key ways the Sciaticare Ball can simply and effectively treat the common muscular aches and pains of pregnancy:

1.   Sciatic pain – The Sciaticare Ball was originally created to treat sciatic pain, hence the name.  In the last trimester, women are forced to change sleeping positions frequently.  One of these positions, side-sleeping, pulls at the lateral hip and gluteal muscles which can compress the sciatic nerve to cause pain to shoot down the legs.  Stretching the hips may not be physically possible with a prominent baby belly, but with the Sciaticare Ball, muscular trigger points and acupressure points in the hips and glutes can be easily deactivated for this pregnancy related sciatica.

Treat the gluteus minimus, gluteus medius, and piriformis muscle trigger points.  Also treat nearby tender points in the gluteal region.

2.  Low back pain – Low back pain is probably the most common complaint during pregnancy.  The location of the growing baby coupled with the stretching of the abdominal muscles force the lower back structure to handle tremendous upper body support duties.

To treat low back pain, use the Sciaticare Ball in a seated or lying position.  Treat the quadratus lumborum, gluteus medius and soleus muscles.  These three muscles are key to maintaining an upright posture.The erector spinae of the back can also be treated as they also assist to carry extra muscular load.

3.  Upper back pain – As breasts increase in size, shoulder stabilizer muscles must work to keep the shoulder blades retracted.  Tired muscles in the upper back will cause one to slouch and lead to aching pain between and around the shoulder blades.  Since the upper back is easily accessible, there are a multitude of upper back acupressure and trigger points that can be massaged away using the Sciaticare Ball.

Use the Sciaticare Ball in a standing, seated or lying position.  Treat the rear head of deltoid, supraspinatus, infraspinatus, rhomboids, erector spinae, and upper trapezius muscles.  Take time and work these points often for relief.

4.  Foot pain – As the feet bear extra weight, the muscles are put under more pressure during walking.  Keeping the lower leg and foot muscles loose and supple will reduce the heart’s effort in pumping blood throughout.  The benefits gained from treating the lower leg and feet are tremendous, such as: lowered blood pressure, improved lymphatic drainage (less edema and swelling), reduced fatigue, alleviated plantar fasciitis and foot pain.

Treat these muscles with the Sciaticare Ball in a standing, seated, or lying position.  Roll the arches of the foot on the ball to treat intrinsic foot muscles.  Treat the popliteus, gastrocnemius and soleus muscles while sitting on the floor with the legs straight out in front.  Daily deactivation of these muscles will do much to improve overall health during pregnancy.

5.  Neck pain –  With the entire spinal column curving to accommodate a baby, the cervical spine must adapt as well.  Thus, neck pain can often become an additional burden during pregnancy.  If neck muscles get tight enough, they can contribute to sleep problems (insomnia), headaches, and balance issues.

The easiest way to treat the neck muscles with the Sciaticare Ball is to lay down on the floor and cup the ball with the hands.  Place the Ball behind the neck and use the hands to push the ball into the acupressure or trigger points in the back of the neck from the base of the skull down to the shoulders.  Treat the suboccipital muscles, levator scapulae, and upper trapezius muscles.

  

The Sciaticare Ball is a wonderful addition to an overall prenatal program and gives the pregnant mother the power to treat some of her conditions herself and in the privacy of her own home.  With the valuable reward of learning how to focus on her own health, the mother can become more in tune with herself and her baby during the entire prenatal period. The Sciaticare Ball can also be used in conjunction with a mother’s alternative health care provider’s natural and drug-free prenatal treatment plan.

For more information, or to find out how to use the Sciaticare Ball, please visit us at:

http://www.augustpoint.com

Related Links:

Effective Pregnancy Hemorrhoid Acupuncture Points (augustpoint.wordpress.com)

Treating a Stubbed Toe with Alternative Medicine

A stubbed toe can be a very painful event.  If you have stubbed your toe on something, it’s possible that you may have either fractured it or damaged soft tissue surrounding the toe.  If you’re really lucky, you may not even bruise.  If you’re not so lucky, your toe could be broken.  When in doubt, visit your primary care physician or urgent care and get x-rays.  (A broken toe does not have to look disfigured in order to be broken.)

Take a close look at the injured toe.  Look for ruptured skin or a damaged nail.  If the skin is broken, clean the area with soap and water and apply an anti-bacterial ointment.  (It’s not necessary.  It’s a precaution for preventing local infection.)

Injured Toe, 3rd one. Swelling and redness on medial side.

There are numerous treatments styles and many of them recommend ice as a treatment for injured toes.  At August Point Wellness, we do not recommend ice on a stubbed toe.  Why? Because the toes are at a circulatory disadvantage being located at the most distal (and likely inferior) end of the body.  Circulation is imperative for the healing process and icing an injury improperly will constrict blood vessels and actually slow the healing process.  Sure, it could reduce swelling of the toe, but a reduction in swelling does NOT equate to increased rate of healing.

Here is an alternative treatment plan if you wish to take care of a minor stubbed toe injury naturally:

  1. Take arnica internally.  Arnica contains plant-derived anti-inflammatory compounds.  It is an alternative to ibuprofen.
  2. Warm the foot and toe in a footsoak bucket or a bath.  Use epsom salt and peppermint oil to reduce swelling.
  3. Massage the injured area.
  4. Apply a pain relieving topical ointment or bruise liniment to the injured area.  We recommend our own Sciaticare Penetrating Muscle Rub.  It’s based on traditional dit da jow herbal bruise and fracture formulas of China.  It’s 100% natural, safe, and effective.
  5. Elevate the injured toe and foot as much as possible until injury is healed.
  6. If very painful, splint the toe with the one next to it for the first week or two of the healing process.
  7. Wear stiff-soled shoes until injury is fully healed.  This is to reduce the excessive motion of the toe.

As you can see from the image above, the founder of August Point Wellness has suffered a stubbed toe injury.  Above is the actual protocol he is currently using for this injury.  Please note that the information in this article can be used to treat a jammed finger as well.

Barefoot Running? Refresh Your Feet With the Sciaticare Ball!

English: Vibram FiveFingers Bikila shoes, top ...

Image via Wikipedia

There’s somewhat of a craze going on right now about barefoot running and how great it is for the feet.  Barefoot running is somewhat of a misnomer (thanks in part to the loose interpretation of the term by marketing and advertising execs) in that some of the so-called “barefoot runners” are not really barefoot.  The better terms used for barefoot running is minimalist running, or natural running.  The runner wears minimal cushion beneath the soles of their feet, but only to protect from road debris and small particles that can damage skin.  Some benefits of barefoot running show persons experiencing lower magnitude impact thus erasing back pain and knee pain after just a few months of exercise.

There is no doubt that running barefoot can build foot and lower leg strength.  But, it can also be hard on the feet for the first few weeks of adaptation.  To ease the transition from standard shoes to the minimalist style of footwear, we have some tools that are sure to help you maintain your foot health with any type of footwear.

The foot is a complex structure built to withstand enormous forces from impact on a multitude of surfaces.  The muscles, tendons, and ligaments that hold and support the dynamic shape of the foot allow for weight distribution, balance, and propulsion.  Since the plantar side of the foot is the part that strikes the ground in most activities, it  is important to keep this impact zone healthy and supple.  One excellent way to do this is to schedule regular foot treatments, such as massage, acupuncture, and/or foot reflexology.  (As you may already know, there are plenty of nerve endings in the foot that can be stimulated and balanced through these types of therapies.)

Benefits of having regular treatments to you feet are:

  • early detection of structural problems
  • stimulate nerve endings and “wake” them up
  • improve balance and proprioception
  • prevent/treat tendinitis
  • prevent/treat ligament strain
  • improve circulation
  • reduce edema and swelling

To help you make the transition from standard running shoes to minimalist shoes (or barefoot), August Point Wellness offers the Sciaticare Ball.  The Sciaticare Ball is our multipurpose therapy tool created by a massage therapist and acupuncturist.  It can be used as a standalone treatment or in conjunction with your current health care.  Use the Sciaticare Ball to massage the plantar side of the foot.  Roll your feet over the Sciaticare Ball to firmly massage the deep musculature under the entire foot.  Use it every day after you run.  Spend just 5 minutes rolling the Ball under the three arches of the foot and enhance your foot health and recovery.  Feel your feet rejuvenate themselves.  

August Point Wellness also offers another great product, the Sciaticare Penetrating Muscle Rub.  The Sciaticare Penetrating Muscle Rub is a unique formula based on traditional herbal Chinese Medicine.  Great for muscle strains, tendon sprains, bone bruises, and fractures, this warming rub can work wonders for your feet as well as your entire body.  For those aching, sore feet and calves, rub the Sciaticare PMR into the skin and allow the natural herbs and oils to deeply penetrate into the skin without any harsh chemicals or artificial ingredients.  Another benefit of the Sciaticare Penetrating Muscle Rub is the herbal formula’s antifungal and antibacterial properties.

For more information about the Sciaticare brand, please visit the August Point Wellness website.

Sciaticare Penetrating Muscle Rub – PRODUCT

Aside

August Point Wellness is proud to offer a natural alternative to Ben-Gay, Tiger Balm, Icy Hot, etc.  Under our daughter brand Sciaticare, we introduce to you the Sciaticare Penetrating Muscle Rub.

The Sciaticare Penetrating Muscle Rub, or PMR as we like to call it, is a balm (or salve) based on traditional herbal medicine from ancient China.  This externally applied balm helps to warm the local area, relieve pain, improve circulation, and speed healing.  It can be used on muscle strains, tendon/ligament sprains, bruises, edema, arthritis, and other musculoskeletal aches and pains.

The PMR was originally created by Dylan Jawahir, L.Ac., L.M.T. to aid in the treatment of sciatic pain and piriformis syndrome in our clinic.  After an acupuncture and tui na session, the PMR was applied to the treated area to speed healing, reduce pain, and assist in shorter recovery time.  The Sciaticare PMR ingredients were selected based upon the traditional Chinese Dit Da Jow medicines that have been used for thousands of years by monks training in various kung fu styles.  These kung fu practitioners needed to heal their injury quickly in order to continue training.  As you can see, the Sciaticare Penetrating Muscle Rub has a broad application, treating much more than just sciatica.

At August Point Wellness, we also use the PMR with Tui Na deep tissue massage techniques.  The PMR balm is easy to work with and the jojoba oil is easily absorbed into the skin.  For deeper penetration, the PMR can be massaged into the skin and a heating pad or other warming device placed over the affected area.

You can purchase the Sciaticare Penetrating Muscle Rub directly from us at August Point Wellness, or online at:

To learn about the ingredients of our Sciaticare Penetrating Muscle Rub, below is a small guide:

  • Natural Beeswax – (Cera Alba) skin protectant, moisture barrier, binding agent
  • Jojoba Oil – (Simmondsia Chinenis) antibacterial, antioxidant, excellent absorption rate into skin
  • Cajeput – (Melaleuca Leucadendra) antiseptic, antifungal, alleviates muscle and joint pain, arthritis
  • Camphor or Zhang Nao – (Cinnamomum Camphora) invigorates blood and alleviates pain; for injuries from falls, fractures, contusions, sprains and swelling
  • Cao Wu – (Radix Aconiti Kusnezoffii) alleviates pain and reduces swelling
  • Chuan Wu – (Radix Aconiti) reduces swelling and alleviates joint pain, arthritis
  • Dang Gui Wei – (Angelicae Sinensis Radix Cauda) invigorates blood, reduces swelling
  • Fu Zi – (Aconiti Radix Lateralis Preparata) alleviates pain, invigorates blood
  • Hong Hua – (Carthami Flos) invigorate blood, reduce swelling, alleviates pain
  • Menthol – (Mentha) antibacterial, alleviates pain, antipruritic
  • Mo Yao – (Commiphora Myrrha) promotes sore healing, reduce swelling, alleviates pain
  • Mu Gua – (Chaenomelis Fructus) relaxes muscles and sinews
  • Ru Xiang – (Olibanum) invigorate blood, reduce swelling and alleviates joint pain, arthritis
  • San Leng – (Sparganii Rhizoma) alleviates pain
  • San Qi – (Notoginseng Radix) stops bleeding, reduce swelling and alleviates pain
  • Su Mu – (Sappan Lignum) stops bleeding; for injuries from falls, fractures, contusions, sprains and swelling
  • Yan Hu Suo – (Corydalis Rhizoma) invigorates blood, alleviates pain

NOTE:  The Sciaticare Penetrating Muscle Rub is contraindicated for use during pregnancy.

Big Toe Pain…And Gout is NOT the Diagnosis.

Dorsal and plantar aspects of foot

Image via Wikipedia

The big toe (hallux) is vital to ensuring humans continue to walk upright.  The strongest of all of the toes, it is also the largest one on each foot.  Needless to say, the halluces are probably the most important toes of all. Problems that can occur with each hallux may cause numbness, tingling, weakness, stiffness, etc., in and around the area of the big toe. With any combination of these symptoms, walking upright can become difficult.

If you think gout is the only reason for a painful big toe, think again.  Before you decide that your diet needs adjusting and you need a full blood panel done, first address the musculature supporting the hallux.  There are seven important muscles that attach and provide movement to the big toe.  Flexor hallucis longus, flexor hallucis brevis, extensor hallucis longus, and tibialis anterior are all extrinsic (outside foot) hallux muscles.  Extensor hallucis brevis, abductor hallucis, and adductor hallucis are the three intrinsic (inside foot) hallux muscles.  I’ve also included an eighth muscle, tibialis posterior, as one that can cause pain in and around the big toe although it doesn’t have a tendinous attachment to the hallux bones as the other muscles do.

On the underside of the foot, at the base of the big toe, a tight adductor hallucis may exhibit pain in this area.  Both flexor hallucis longus and brevis can cause pain and numbness in the underside of the big toe.  Abductor hallucis usually causes pain on the inside of the heel, and if this muscle is tight enough, there is accompanying pain beneath the first metatarsal.  Tibialis posterior can cause pain at the base of the big toe, but this muscle may also show pain in the Achilles region of the lower leg.

If the top of the hallux is painful, the muscles that dorsiflex (or extend) the big toe could be the offending party.  The muscles that dorsiflex the big toe are the tibialis anterior, extensor hallucis longus, and extensor hallucis brevis.  Tibialis anterior will generate pain or tenderness in the shin as well as pain on the dorsum of the foot.  Pain caused by the extensor hallucis longus may be felt in the front of the ankle as well as on top of the big toe.  Extensor hallucis brevis will only cause pain in the location of the muscle, at the top of foot near the base of the first metatarsal.  Check all three of these muscles when pinpointing the cause of your toe pain.

To treat your stiff, tight, aching muscles, seek out your favorite acupuncturist and/or massage therapist.  Also, try a warm foot soak in Epsom salt to help relax muscles further.  Follow up your foot soak with easy stretching for both the intrinsic and extrinsic foot muscles.  In conjunction with professional care, you can self-treat your muscles with the Sciaticare Ball by August Point Wellness.  Roll your foot over the Sciaticare Ball to treat the acupressure and trigger points on the underside of the foot.  Rolling the entire plantar side of your foot will do wonders to treat the many small, hardworking muscles that ache from continued walking, running, etc.  The Sciaticare Ball can also treat the tibialis anterior and can address other extrinsic muscles in the lower leg.  A regular care plan should include visits to your practitioner as well as self-care.  For your self-care, we highly recommend the Sciaticare Ball.  Visit our website to learn more about the Sciaticare Ball and how you can rid yourself of big toe pain.

Related Links:

4 Points For Big Toe Pain (Part 1)

Interested in Improving Your Balance? Treat the Suboccipital Muscles.


Suboccipital triangle

Image via Wikipedia

There are two groups that I think are more interested in balancing on two feet than anyone else.  Athletes and the elderly.  The athlete is on one end of the spectrum, trying to push the limits of physical activity and improve center of gravity.  The other end of the spectrum are the elderly, who are usually just trying to keep that brain-body proprioceptive loop functioning enough to prevent possible fall or other injury. Both parties can benefit from gaining a more stable foundation to sustain and encourage movement.  Therefore, athletes and the elderly can benefit from “tuning up” the balance “sensors” of their bodies.

One important set of balance “sensors” are a group of muscles called the suboccipitals.  The suboccipitals are a group of 4 muscles (rectus capitis posterior minor, rectus capitis posterior major, obliquus capitis superior, and obliquus capitis inferior) located inferior to the base of the skull.  These suboccipital muscles are literally sensors for positioning and orienting the head in 3-dimensional space.  In fact, the muscles contain a much higher density of muscle spindles than most muscles in the body.  The inordinate amount of muscle spindles in the muscle tissue substantiate the idea that the primary function of the suboccipital group is to send spatial data to the brain and the secondary function of the suboccipital group is movement of the head.

Now, if we look at the suboccipital muscles as we would any other muscle group in the body, we can assume that fatigue, tension, and strain can occur from overuse and/or neglect.  Tightness and tension of the muscles can present with symptoms of dizziness, visual disturbances, and balance problems.  The above symptoms occur because the brain interacts with both the suboccipitals and the eyes in such a way that both organs work to help you focus on objects, track objects, and predict motion of objects relative to your body position.  (In a football example, what this means is that when your suboccipitals are functioning correctly, you can better “lock in” the football’s trajectory with your eyes and move your arms and feet towards catching it.)  Also, a group of nerves pass through the suboccipital area (suboccipital triangle) on their way back into the spinal column.  Compression of the nerves tend to compound the above said symptoms and, if severe enough, can cause occipital neuralgia.  Another interesting fact is that cervical vertebrae C2 and C3 are connected to the dura mater of the spinal cord in this location.  So, if the muscles attached to these vertebrae are pulling to one side or the other, the spinal cord is affected and could trigger headache and migraine symptoms.  Needless to say, the suboccipital muscles are important structures that contribute heavily to proper balance.

Recommendations for treating these muscles are stretching, manual therapy, and some form of alternative therapy, and some self-care tools.  Stretching will keep the musculature limber and promote good blood flow.  A manual therapy such as massage or trigger point therapy will usually result in reduction of headache and dizzy spells.  A trained massage therapist will be able to address these muscles very successfully as well as point out other issues with the surrounding musculature.  Craniosacral therapy is also a very beneficial technique that can release the suboccipital structure and realign the cervical vertebrae.  Acupuncture is a very effective alternative therapy that can assist in the treatment and prevention of proprioceptive and visual problems that may occur with tight suboccipital muscles.  Well-placed needles are able to access the muscular trigger points deep into the neck and results can be similar or more effective than that of massage.  Lastly, a self-care tool should always be in the home for when a recurrence of pain from strain or overuse arises.  We promote an August Point Wellness tool for this, the Sciaticare Ball.  It’s an intuitively simple tool with a wide variety of uses.  Releasing trigger points in the suboccipital area is just one of the uses for this physical therapy tool.  Please read our Sciaticare Ball technique for the Suboccipital Squeeze at http://www.augustpoint.com.

Proprioception – the awareness of the position and movement of the body in 3-dimensional space.

Suboccipital triangle – triangular pattern comprising 3 of the 4 suboccipital muscles.  Rectus capitis posterior major, obliquus capitis superior, obliquus capitis inferior comprise the triangular formation.