Effective Pregnancy Hemorrhoid Acupuncture Points

Hemorrhoids (or piles) are a nuisance during pregnancy.  They can occur at any time, but most commonly emerge after the first trimester.  The combination of hormones, increased blood volume, additional circulatory pathways, and pressure on the pelvic veins contribute to hemorrhoidal eruptions and discomfort.

UB57 - Located in the cleft between the heads of the gastrocnemius; UB58 - located 1" below and 1" to the outside of UB57.

UB57 – Located in the cleft between the heads of the gastrocnemius; UB58 – located 1″ below and 1″ to the outside of UB57.

Two acupuncture points used in traditional Chinese medicine for hemorrhoids are Supporting Mountain (UB57) and Taking Flight (UB58).  See Figure 1.  A safe and natural medical alternative, these two as well as almost all other acupuncture points can work alone or harmoniously with conventional care during the entire antepartum period.  The drug-free solution that acupuncture provides will relieve the medication-related fears and side effect risks that concern many pregnant mothers in seeking medical care.  Natural medicine should always be sought out first during the prenatal period, since the treatment is more gentle to the body and the side effects are few to none.  If alternative care does not produce desired results, then one may need more potent treatments with the acknowledgement that related side effects/harms could be associated.

Another benefit of treating the points Supporting Mountain and Taking Flight, are in the quick relief of hemorrhoidal pain.  In the clinic, as little as one treatment has proven beneficial in swelling reduction and reduced rectal bleeding.  In the same fashion as acupuncture, acupressure on these two acupuncture points can also provide abatement of the inflammation or rupture.  Thus, the mother-to-be can perform acupressure on herself using her thumbs or a firm object to massage the target area.  This may also be a good time for her partner to lend a helping hand.  Since UB57 and UB58 mirror the two sides of the body, both the left and right points can be treated a few times a day until the symptoms resolve.

(Figure 2) Example of patient using the Sciaticare Ball to massage UB58.

(Figure 2) Example of pregnant patient using the Sciaticare Ball to massage UB58.

A self- massage technique using the Sciaticare Ball, a versatile self-massage tool for pregnancy related aches and pains, is shown in Figure 2.  Place the Sciaticare Ball between the acupuncture point and a firm surface.  Allow the weight of the lower leg to apply pressure to UB57 or UB58 and rock the lower leg back and forth over the Ball.  The pressure on the acupuncture point should feel like a deep massage.  Perform technique for 1-3 minutes per point and repeat 2 to 3 times daily.  Daily use of the Sciaticare Ball is recommended to help alleviate this in addition to some of the other symptoms associated with pregnancy discomfort.

For those that do not believe in acupuncture as a true medical system, a partial Western medical explanation of stimulation of UB57 and UB58 is provided here.  Although some Western doctors and Eastern doctors may disagree, there is data confirming much of the reasoning below.  This is one reason (of possibly many) for the acupuncture points’ continued successes in the treatment of hemorrhoids.

Both UB57 and UB58 penetrate the soleus muscle and elicit a response from this densely innervated muscle.  This muscle plays a strong accessory role to the heart with its operation as a second pump for the circulatory system.  When supple and relaxed, the soleus delivers an effective venous pumping action with every muscular contraction.  As the additional weight and strain on a pregnant woman’s body can tighten and constrict the soleus muscle to reduce the effectiveness of this auxiliary pump, blood and lymph flow back to the heart can be impeded.  Other pregnancy symptoms that are related to the circulatory restrictions can be seen in hypertension, edema, varicose veins, and fatigue.  Stimulation of Supporting Mountain and Taking Flight points relax the soleus muscle spasms and tension, which then improves fluid flow through the lower legs.  The result is a relaxed and supple soleus muscle that can more easily pump blood back to the heart with every walking step.  The reduced pressure in the venous system decreases the enlarged veins and clears up the problem.  A healthy functioning soleus muscle also serves to lower blood pressure, reduce edema and swelling, and ease systemic blood flow.

NOTE:  These acupuncture points have proven themselves in the clinic and are backed by a few thousand years of empirical evidence.  One does not have to believe in acupuncture for it to work, nor does one have to hold it in the light of the flawed clinical trial methodology and experimentation that propose to scientifically prove or disprove every medical treatment through separation of part from whole.  Present scientific methods do not capture (and for this reason, can not confine) all the variables that true medicine represents, both alternative and conventional. Consequently, we as a species, have not and do not fully understand the entire human body model and its processes, either dissected or as a synergistic system.  The idea presented here is but one of many considerations of why these two acupuncture points work from a Western scientific model, and should therefore be understood as just that, until proven in an all-encompassing study to be either positive or negative.

4 Points For Big Toe Pain (Part 1)

Big toe (hallux) pain occurs in a significant number of people at some point in their lives.  Not only affecting athletes, hallux pain also includes the sedentary population to a significant degree.  Early assessment and treatment of big toe pain is important in preventing long-term damage and chronic reinjury.

Although hallux pain triggers are various, this article will be focused on pain due to stress and strain on the joint due to the surrounding musculature.  If hallux pain is mainly located on the plantar (bottom) side of the foot, the four points found here may help provide significant relief.  These simple points can be manipulated oneself or treated by a skilled massage therapist or licensed acupuncturist.

Point 1 –  Abductor hallucis muscle.  This muscle is responsible for plantar flexion of the hallux and some medial deviation (hallux varus) of the proximal phalanx (big toe points away from other toes).  The abductor hallucis gives structure to the medial arch of the foot as well.  Tight abductor hallucis muscles can be easily mistaken for plantar fasciitis pain.  A notable distinction is that this pain is typically concentrated along the medial arch of the foot between the 1st metatarsophalangeal joint and the calcaneous (heel).  [See Figure 1 for treatment location.]

Point 2 –  Adductor hallucis muscle.  Compared to abductor hallucis, this muscle similarly plantar flexes the big toe, but laterally deviates (hallux valgus) the proximal phalanx (big toe points toward other toes).  The opposing forces of the adductor hallucis and abductor hallucis provide stabilization of the hallux in the transverse plane.  Severe lateral deviation of the proximal phalanx is sometimes referred to as a bunion. The adductor hallucis pain is typically concentrated on the lateral edge of the 1st metatarsophalangeal joint and can spread to an area beneath the 2nd through 5th metatasophalangeal joints. This muscle is considered a deep foot muscle and will require adequate pressure for stimulation.  [See Figure 1 for treatment location.]

Point 3 –  Flexor Hallucis Brevis muscle.  The flexor hallucis brevis shares some of the function of both the abductor and adductor hallucis muscles.  Pain caused by the flexor hallucis brevis is mainly located around the 1st metatarsophalangeal joint.  This muscle is considered a deep foot muscle and will require adequate pressure for stimulation. [See Figure 1 for treatment location.]

1 - Abductor hallucis; 2 - adductor hallucis; 3 - flexor hallucis brevis

(Figure 1)  1 – Abductor hallucis; 2 – Adductor hallucis; 3 – Flexor hallucis brevis

Point 4 –  Flexor Hallucis Longus muscle.  This muscle is located outside the foot and is thus known as an extrinsic foot muscle.  It resides in the lower leg behind the soleus muscle and attaches to the fibula.  The flexor hallucis longus is a comparably large plantar flexor of the hallux and is thus responsible for strong plantar flexion of the big toe, especially during walking and running.  This muscle is one of the most important muscles to treat in big toe pain and due to its remote location, one of the least addressed.  Since this muscle is deep to the soleus, adequate pressure is necessary for proper treatment of the flexor hallucis longus.  [See Figure 2 for treatment location.]

Figure 2 - Flexor Hallucis Longus

(Figure 2) 4 – Flexor hallucis longus

In any painful foot condition, treat the musculature and soft tissue first.  Tight muscles will continuously pull on joints and elicit pain.  This common occurrance is often overlooked in sourcing joint pain.  Intolerance to orthotics may be a sign that the muscles in the foot are causing pain or problems associated with the big toe and foot.  Before seeking out orthotics, one should have the surrounding musculature checked for tender trigger points and sensitivity.  Orthotics typically solve structural problems of the foot and should not be used until all of the functional components (i.e. muscles, tendons, fascia) have been treated for some length of time.  Calf cramps, foot cramps, poor circulation in the lower extremities are other signs that muscular problems in the feet are occuring.  This functional approach to medicine can save hundreds to thousands of dollars in expenses and can circumvent more invasive procedures, such as surgery.

A simple, effective tool in maintaining the functional ability of the hallux is a rubber ball.  Roll each foot over a ball for 5 minutes a day, spending a minute or more on each of the points listed above.  Sit on the floor with legs straight out and place the ball under #4.  The weight of the lower leg may provide enough pressure to stimulate the flexor hallucis longus.  If not, cross the other leg over top of the leg being treated to increase the weight.  This procedure should be followed 4-5 days a week for a couple of months to allow the muscle spasms and tightness to abate.  This is an excellent way to promote good blood circulation, massage intrinsic foot muscles, stimulate nerve endings, and refresh tired, worn out feet.

August Point Wellness offers a self-massage tool called the Sciaticare Ball that is quite a bit more useful than the rubber ball stated previously.  The Sciaticare Ball can be used on feet, calves, back, hips, and much more.  With an easy to place handle, it allows better control in massaging those hard to reach places.  Visit www.augustpoint.com or Amazon to purchase.  As always, for best results, seek out the guidance of a licensed massage therapist or acupuncturist and combine professional treatment with self-treatment for optimal health.

Related links:

Big Toe Pain…And Gout is NOT the Diagnosis

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)

The Soleus Muscle, The Second Heart

Deep and superficial layers of posterior leg m...

Soleus

The heart is an amazing organ that pumps between 5 and 7 thousand liters of blood a day.  Yet, it is not the only pump in the body.  While the heart pumps blood out towards the extremities, deep muscles assist in pumping blood back towards the heart.  One of the most important muscles for assisting blood flow back to the heart is the soleus muscle of the calf.

The soleus muscle is a large flat muscle in the lower leg.  Part of the soleus can be palpated directly, while the rest lies underneath the gastrocnemius muscle.  The location of the soleus muscles are important.  They are on the extreme distal end of the body and furthest away from the heart.  When standing upright, the soleus resides at the body’s lowest gravitational point.  These two factors put the soleus in an ideal position to work synergistically with the heart as an efficient pumping system.  The heart pumps arterial blood, while the soleus pumps venous blood.  But, this occurs best when the soleus muscle is healthy and supple.

Problems with the soleus are a frequent cause of pain and suffering.  Athletes and inactive people can both be affected.  This happens because the soleus is used in many activities, such as walking, running, and cycling.  It is a hardworking muscle that tends to get heavy use and very little care.  Most people don’t take enough time to stretch and treat the soleus.  Hence muscle tightness and trigger points can form, causing the soleus to hinder circulation rather than help.

Tight, stiff soleus muscles can radiate pain to the heel, ankle, and as far away as the lower back.  Complications from soleus tightness include:  ankle instability, calf cramps, varicose veins, phlebitis, lower leg edema, low blood pressure, orthostatic hypotension (postural hypotension), and hypersensitivity of lower back.  Pain that is mimicked by tight soleus muscle include:  plantar fasciitis, heel spurs, stress fracture, shin splints, Achilles tendonitis, and thrombosis.

Treatment for the soleus muscle should begin with natural therapy.  Home treatments such as strength training, stretching and self massage should be done regularly to maintain the muscle’s pliability, density, range of motion, and function.

At August Point Wellness, we believe that many of the soleus muscle issues can be addressed through acupuncture, massage therapy, and stretching.

An example treatment that we would use to address tight soleus:

Pain Trying to Undo Your Bra Strap? It Could Be This Pair of Muscles…

Infraspinatus - Muscles of the Upper Extremity...Infraspinatus Muscle

“It hurts when I try to undo my bra.” Or “Taking off my shirt is painful.” Or “Combing my hair hurts my shoulder.” Or “I have problems reaching behind my back.” These are common complaints for trigger points in the rotator cuff muscles, infraspinatus and subscapularis.

There are 4 rotator cuff (RC) muscles that assist in movement at the shoulder (supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor, and subscapularis). These muscles hold the head of the humerus in the glenoid cavity, as well as provide mobility. An imbalance in rotator cuff muscles can be painful, as well as severely limit the joint range of motion (ROM). That imbalance can also lead to trigger points that are painful when touched.

Two muscles that tend to get stress and overwork injuries are the infraspinatus and subscapularis. These are two of the four rotator cuff muscles in your shoulder. When there is difficulty raising the arm above the head or behind the back, doctors
typically diagnose frozen shoulder. Frequently enough, I hear other diagnoses such as bursitis, adhesive capsulitis, neuritis, etc. attached to the one for frozen shoulder. Muscle relaxants and anti-inflammatory meds are sometimes prescribed without regard
for more effective, natural methods of relief.

The function of the infraspinatus is to externally rotate the humerus. (It’s the kind of motion that allows you to bring your arm back to throw a ball.) The function of the subscapularis is to internally rotate the humerus. (This is the forward and downward motion of throwing a ball.)  As you may know, these muscles are antagonists to one another. Each opposes the function of the other. This concept is important, because the health of one muscle will usually affect the health of the other. (It’s a yin-yang theory of balance.)  Therefore, treatment of both the infraspinatus and subscapularis are imperative in a complete healing plan.

The infraspinatus is located on the shoulder blade itself. The muscle above the spine of the scapula is called the supraspinatus (‘above the spine’), while the muscle below the scapula is called the infraspinatus (‘below the spine’). If one is flexible enough, he or she may be able to reach over their shoulder with the opposite hand and palpate the infraspinatus muscle.  One of the key causes for tight infraspinatus muscle is holding the arms out in front for extended periods of time.

Acupuncture and massage are two extremely effective methods for treating the infraspinatus trigger points. Stretching after each therapeutic treatment is important to help relax musculature and improve circulation.  To treat the infraspinatus at home, while you are between your physical therapy, acupuncture, or massage treatments, invest in a tool to help you work out trigger points in the infraspinatus.  August Point Wellness carries the Sciaticare Ball, an effective trigger point relieving tool for many different musculoskeletal trigger points.  Instructions on how to use the Sciaticare Ball for infraspinatus can also be found on our website here.

The subscapularis is a slightly more difficult muscle to address.  Located under the scapula, this muscle is the largest and strongest of the rotator cuff muscles.  Along with acupuncture and massage therapy treatments, the sufferer should also learn to stretch the subscapularis muscle.  (Sometimes stretching alone is NOT enough to release the muscle spasm.)  The most effective method that I have found to stretch the subscapularis is the broomstick stretch.  If you do not have a broomstick handy, you can try the subscapularis doorway stretch.  (For now, Google these stretches for images and videos on particular stretches.  I hope to add images to this post soon!)

With the way most people use their shoulder, a strength imbalance causes the subscapularis to be strong, while the other three RC muscles are weak.  Therefore, after the trigger points have been worked out of the RC group, one should begin strength training on these muscles.  Exercises that isolate the individual RC muscles are a great start.  Pair it up with exercises that stabilize the scapula and regain strength and flexibility in your shoulder!

A sample treatment that I may use in my clinic would be:

  • Acupuncture – SI9-SI12, GB21, Rhomboid Motor Points (MP), UB10, Subscapularis MP, LI16
  • Massage Therapy – Entire Rotator Cuff Set, Pectoralis Minor, Serratus Anterior, Upper Trapezius
  • External Liniment/Rub –  Sciaticare Penetrating Muscle Rub applied over  muscles for faster healing and improved blood flow.  Patient would apply Sciaticare PMR daily and massage into area to promote circulation and healing.  Application of Sciaticare PMR before any rehabilitation exercises would be recommended as well.

This type of frozen shoulder pain usually requires 4-6 treatments to really improve ROM and show results.  Obviously, your results may differ.  You may need to modify your posture, work ergonomics, and lifestyle 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.

Treat Your Piriformis and Sciatic Pain Naturally

So, you go for a walk and your sciatic pain flares up.  You sit for a long period and your sciatic pain flares up.  You lay in bed a few minutes and your sciatic pain flares up.  What gives?  Chances are that your sciatic pain is caused by a deep hip rotator muscle called the piriformis.

The piriformis muscle is a pear-shaped muscle used in the external rotation of the hips.  It is one of six deep muscles that aid in turning the hips outward, or laterally.  Lying underneath the gluteus maximus muscle, it cannot be palpated without deep pressure from the hands.  The location of the piriformis in the hip and its proximity to the sciatic nerve is what makes this muscle a source of what we call muscle-induced sciatic pain.

The external rotator muscles are constantly working for us.  These muscles are used in activities such as walking, running, cycling, etc.  We are using the external rotators all the time.  Overuse, trauma, and lack of flexibility cause the piriformis to get tight.  Positioned close to the sciatic nerve, a tight piriformis muscle can rub the sciatic nerve, causing irritation and compression similar to the feeling of a lumbar disc problem.  It is this interaction of the piriformis muscle with the sciatic nerve that can cause sciatica.  Tingling and numbness, sharp shooting pain down the back of the leg, weakness in the lower limbs are all products of this type of sciatica, also known as piriformis syndrome.

You can check the tightness in your piriformis and external rotator group muscles by finding a flat surface and lying down on your back.  Look at your feet and see how far outwards your toes point.  With the neutral position being toes pointing straight upwards, the average position of the feet should be approximately 30-40 degrees externally rotated.  A larger angle could signify a tight piriformis muscle.  Therefore, a treatment plan should be made to relieve the sciatica possibly caused by the piriformis.  Natural treatment options for piriformis syndrome include massage therapy, acupuncture, stretching, and strength training.

The way I treat piriformis syndrome in my clinic is with a combination of acupuncture, massage therapy, stretching.  I also like to send the patient home with the Sciaticare Ball along with a list of instructions on how to use the Ball for piriformis syndrome.  Finally, a few stretches are given to the patient to help them get back on their feet quickly.

A typical piriformis treatment at the August Point Wellness Center would be:

  • AcupuncturePiriformis Motor Point (MP), Gluteus Medius MP, Gluteus Minimus MP, Tensor Fasciae Latae MP, Hua To Jia Ji L2-L5, GB30, GB21
  • Massage – Quadratus Lumborum, Gluteus Muscle Group, External Rotator Muscle Group
  • Stretching – Hip External Rotation, Hip Extension, Hip Flexion
  • Sciaticare Ball – Recommend 1-2 times daily Sciaticare Ball treatment using:  Piriformis, Gluteus Medius, Gluteus Minimus, & Tensor Fasciae Latae Techniques

The Sciaticare Ball – PRODUCT

At first glance, the Sciaticare Ball looks more like a dog toy than a bona fide massage therapy tool. It’s a textured rubber ball connected to a two foot length of rope and a wooden handle.  But, don’t let the looks fool you.  With the proper direction, this “toy” can relieve a lot of muscular pain.  The idea for the tool came when it’s creator, Dylan Jawahir, L.Ac.,L.M.T., couldn’t find the right tool for his patients to use between office visits to massage out their sciatic and low back pain.

“I would offer my patients a tennis ball rolled in a sock, or a rubber hi-bounce ball to massage out their sciatic and low back pain.  But, patients would come back to my office and tell me that they couldn’t get the ball in the correct position, or they couldn’t keep the ball in place when trying to work out their own acupressure points.” Dylan says.  “After hearing quite a few complaints, I decided to develop this tool.  Later, I found that it was useful for much more than sciatica and low back pain. That was when I thought it would be a great idea to put together a list of typical problems and how the Sciaticare Ball could be used to treat them.  It quickly blossomed into the Sciaticare Way.”

The Sciaticare Ball can be used on musculature from head to toe.  If the user can get in the right position, the Sciaticare Ball will take care of the rest.  Using the theory of acupuncture points coupled with that of trigger points, Jawahir has compiled a list of muscles that can be massaged and treated with the Ball.  Problems such as knee pain, plantar fasciitis, cervicogenic headaches, winged scapula, tennis elbow, golfer elbow, etc. can be treated just as easily as sciatica and lumbago.  The beauty is that free step-by-step instructions are available on the website (http://www.augustpoint.com/products.php) and can be downloaded for each of these common complaints.  The manufacturer claims that example videos will be uploaded by December, 2011.

Another great feature of the Sciaticare Ball is that it can be used practically anywhere.  The user can massage out pain while sitting, standing, or lying down.  Very little active pressure is required to work out the acupressure (or trigger) points.  Gravity does most of the work.  The size of the Sciaticare Ball makes it easy to drop into a workbag and take it to the office.  Plenty of office personnel could benefit from using a Sciaticare Ball for 5 to 10 minutes a day on the typical shoulder and back pain that accompanies long hours in the cubicle.  The Ball can also be used at home, on a bed, or while lying on the couch in front of the television.

The Sciaticare Ball is currently sold for $19.95 and ships for $6 flat rate.  The Ball is available directly from August Point Wellness as well as Amazon.com.  It is very durable and looks to be able to withstand years of use.  It also carries a 100% money back guarantee.

The Sciaticare Ball is worth well more than the listed price.  In fact, the value of this product along with all of the free instructional media available far outweighs most of the other products available on the market today.  As both a practitioner-oriented and patient-oriented product, the Sciaticare Ball caters well to both.  Many acupuncturists, doctors, massage therapists, physical therapists, Pilates instructors, etc. are looking for a tool to complement patient office visits with patient self-care.  The Sciaticare Ball fills that need.  The informed consumer can also pick up the Sciaticare Ball and begin using it by studying the free downloaded material from the product website.

The Sciaticare Ball is the rare product that can be used by just about anyone.  It’s intuitive.  It’s simple.  It’s effective.  The Sciaticare motto states “Empowering you with the tools to enhance your health and wellness”.  That’s just what this product does.  It gives people the power to understand their own health through education knowing that it will go a long way towards giving people the power to control their own health.

Constant Pain Between the Shoulder Blades. So, Why Treat the Chest?

Trapezius muscle.

Image via Wikipedia

“I hold most of my stress between my shoulder blades.”  Or I’ll hear “The pain is pretty constant and it never seems to go away, even after deep tissue massage.”  The story of pain between the shoulder blades is fairly common.  In fact, after sciatic pain and lumbar pain, this is the 3rd most common musculoskeletal pain situation that I encounter in my clinic.

The patient usually points to a location between the shoulder blades.  This part of the back contains two important muscles involved in stabilization and movement of the scapula, the trapezius muscle and the rhomboids (major and minor).  Upon palpation, the acupuncturist or massage therapist usually finds an “ah shi” point or tender area on the patient that feels knotted and ropy.  Therefore, it’s fair to assess that this is the source of the problem, right?  So this muscle knot gets treated, either by acupuncture, massage, or chiropractic means and provide some instant relief.  A day or so later, the patient complains that the pain returned full strength.  If this situation sounds familiar to you, then only side of the problem is being treated…the back.  So, what’s missing?  The chest.

Let’s call a muscle that moves, an agonist.  This agonist usually has one or more muscles that oppose the action of the agonist.  This opposing muscle, or muscles, will be called the antagonist.  For a nice, easy example:  Let’s look at the action of the knee joint.  If we call your quadriceps the agonist, we can call your hamstrings the antagonist.  The quadriceps will straighten the knee, while the hamstrings bend the knee.  The quadriceps and hamstrings form an agonist-antagonist pair.  A slightly more complicated joint such as the shoulder has muscles that can perform an agonist or antagonist function depending on direction of shoulder movement.

The trapezius and rhomboids together aid in retracting the scapula, or pulling your shoulders back and upward.  The opposing muscles, or antagonist to this movement, are the pectoralis minor, which protract the scapula, or pull your shoulders forward and downward.  (There are more actions of both the trapezius and rhomboid muscles, but they will be excluded for sake of simplicity.)

Tight pectoralis minor muscles can pull the shoulders forward.  Localized back pain is felt when the rhomboids and trapezius muscles revolt against the pectoralis minor by having to expend so much energy to pull your shoulders back.  The rhomboids and trapezius eventually fatigue and finally spasm.  When they finally scream out in anguish from the tension, you have a knot of pain between the shoulder blades.  Of course, this is an oversimplification of the whole scenario, but for a lot of folks, it is true.  The agonist muscles and antagonist muscles play a game of tug-of-war with your body.  In the end,one muscle wins and one muscle loses.  To avoid this scenario, have both agonist muscles and their antagonist muscles treated.

To get great relief, we suggest getting a massage or sports acupuncture session with focus on the back muscles that are tight and painful.  You will also have the pectoralis minor treated on the ipsilateral, or same side of the body.  This is a thorough treatment plan that may have the pain between your shoulder blades abate quickly and take much longer to return.

We think it’s a great idea to manage your pain between visits to your healthcare provider.  We suggest our very own Sciaticare Ball.  On our website, we have detailed instructions on how to massage out your pectoralis minor pain as well as rhomboid and upper back pain.  We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again.  It’s the best $20 that you’ll ever spend on you healthcare.  Now on Amazon.com.  Additionally, learn to stretch these muscles to keep the qi and blood flowing.  Good luck!

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)