Acupuncture for Neck Pain

Person placing acupuncture needles in skin

Can Acupuncture help with Anxiety?

I was sitting at a tennis club (similar feel to a small country club) chatting away with two men twice my age and a woman four years younger than me. We were talking about possible treatments for my neck pain. That very moment the contents of acupuncture were spilled on the terrace table next to my chicken Cesar salad. Acupuncture for neck pain? I was being informed of the benefits and positive experiences of acupuncture, such as relief of pain. Here I was suffering from chronic neck pain for over a year with no solution in mind.

I had tried stretching and a change in pillows with no luck. One random weekend evening, I decided to search for acupuncture clinics in my vicinity. Long story short, I arrive at the appointment and inform them of my neck pain. I show the doctor my poor range of flexibility with my neck from side to side. He senses right away after touching my neck that it’s very tight. He instructs me to take off my shirt and lie down on the sanitized table (I can still smell the alcohol).

Acupuncture for Neck Pain: Needle Insertion

He then does a test run and sticks a needle in my anterior scalene muscles. He asks me if I felt anything and I told him no. As a matter of fact, of course you feel it but it feels like a pinprick; literally no pain. So then he instructs me to turn over and he starts going to work finding different meridian points on my body to place the needles. There must have been 6-8 needles in the back of my neck, some in my arms and right elbow region (I suffer from Tennis Elbow at times), and during this last session, in my ankles.

I’ve had four sessions thus far and feel quite satisfied. I noticed an improvement in my neck pain within several days of session #1. The best way I can describe the obvious physical difference is like this: it felt like the back of my neck had become numb; imagine applying a bunch of lidocaine gel. And here I was getting this effect from a few needles placed into my skin! He also instructed me to do some vertical and lateral neck exercises at home which I’ve been doing (sometimes not so consistently).

Acupuncture Conclusion

Overall, my neck feels much more relaxed, loose and tolerant of pain. I don’t think it’s 100%, but sometimes I wonder if I even know what 100% feels like anymore. I’m 31 and I’m expecting to have the body of a 14-year-old who never had to stretch after playing 2-3 hours of intense tennis on a Saturday afternoon. It’s just not realistic. I also enjoy playing tennis on weekends and have been doing so for the last three years while living in New York. The tennis takes a tole on my body and if I don’t stretch consistently, the low back pain that tends to come on after playing for two hours may end up lasting for 3-5 days.

And an interesting fact: acupuncture can help with pain by increasing the release of more endogenous opioids (known as endorphines) within your brain and cerebral spinal fluid.

Bottom line is this: if I want to remain fit and athletic, I must tolerate some pain along the way.

Oh yeah, and can acupuncture help with anxiety? Well, if you don’t consider pain anxiety, then I don’t know what anxiety means to you.

What’s your experience with sports, pain and/or acupuncture?

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Pandemic: Coronavirus Gone Wild

New York State Of Emergency

New York state has declared a state of emergency due to coronavirus infections rising. While the government is doing its job to allocate resources and provide accurate information on the current crisis, it’s not really doing a great job at easing panic and preventing mental health issues from arising. The New York state of emergency is nothing more than a warning telling us, “it’s here and getting worse.”

The thing is that these kinds of messages do not help us. We all know from the mainstream media that the coronavirus has gone wild, whether naturally or after being genetically engineered; the truth, no one will find out. But one thing is for certain: the virus is out and potentially deadly.

But does all of this information affect us in any way? Do you really believe that by New York, California and other states declaring states of emergency, we will suddenly be more cautious to not acquire the virus? If the virus has spread all the way from China, then you best believe that whether you acquire it or not does not depend on the mainstream media or governmental warnings.

So what is the solution? As previously said, you need to continue living your life as if nothing has changed. Continue to wash your hands like you always have and stay away from people who cough. Wearing a mask will not decrease your chances of acquiring the virus. The virus can spread via touch as well.

One of the most important preventative tactics from becoming infected is maintaining a positive mindset. If you allow fear to penetrate you, then you are already making yourself vulnerable to becoming sick. Fear attracts negativity and bad results. During times of pandemics, you need to remain calm, vigilant and positive.

Don’t allow all the negative news to get to your head. In other words, don’t become part of the hysteria. As long as you maintain good hygiene, smart practices and a positive attitude and mindset, you will stay clear of this virus. This will not go on forever.

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Coronavirus Epidemic

The Attack Of The Coronavirus

A virus is an infective agent that is able to multiply only within the living cells of a host. There are differing opinions as to whether a virus is a living organism or just an infective agent that attacks living organisms. Either way, once it infects a cell, it passes its DNA into the genome of the cell, causing an identical copy of the original virus to form. Coronaviruses were first identified in the mid-1960s. There are 7 types of coronaviruses that can infect humans: 229E, NL63, OC43, HKU1, MERS-CoV (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome), SARS-CoV (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) and the 2019 Novel Coronavirus.

The 2019 Novel Coronavirus was identified on 1/9/20 in China, causing an outbreak of pneumonia in Wuhan city, China. The SARS-CoV was recognized in China as well, but in 2002, causing over 700 deaths. SARS-CoV causes body aches, chills and fever. And the MERS-CoV was reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012, causing many respiratory symptoms near the Arabian peninsula. MERS-CoV usually causes shortness of breath, fever and cough.

Coronaviruses usually cause mild to moderate upper respiratory illnesses. The duration is often short-acting and symptoms may include:

  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Headaches
  • Cough
  • Runny nose

Keep in mind that coronaviruses can also cause lower respiratory tract infections such as pneumonia or bronchitis. This usually occurs in infants, elderly or people with already weakened immune systems. Coronaviruses spread through human contact:

  • Touching infected surfaces
  • Shaking hands with others
  • Coughing and sneezing

Prevention is key because there are currently no vaccines. Washing your hands with soap and hot water, avoiding touching your face with unwashed hands and avoiding contact with sick people, are the best steps that you can take to prevent an infection with this type of virus.

As far as treatment goes, there is no medication to fight against a coronavirus. Staying at home to rest, drinking plenty of fluids and taking pain and fever medications to ease the symptoms is what is recommended. Allowing time for your immune system to mount its defenses so that it can fight this potentially deadly invader, is key to recovering successfully. But if your symptoms are very bad, then seek immediate medical attention!

For more information on the coronavirus, please check the CDC website.

Here on The DSM Ready Community, we would like everyone to remain as healthy as possible. Please feel free to share any tips, suggestions or stories in regards to the coronavirus.

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Stress Headaches

When Tension Headaches Disrupt Your Day

Stress headaches, also known as tension headaches, are a type of headache that come about when you are experiencing stress, inadequate sleep or poor posture. They’re described as dull pain, tightness or pressure around your forehead or the back of your head and neck. Some describe it as a band squeezing their head.

Stress headaches are extremely common: there are about 3 million cases in the U.S. every year. They’re usually self-diagnosable, self-treatable and resolve within days to weeks. Treatments include pain relievers, ice or heat pads on sore muscles and good posture. But probably the most important factor is the alleviation of stress in your life.

Stress is defined as a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances. When you experience stress, what most likely is occurring is increased myofascial pain sensitivity caused by sensitization of neurons in the supraspinal region.

In other words, stress is bad. And believe it or not, stress also increases your blood pressure and places a greater strain on your heart; it also increases your chances of developing a stroke. Tension headaches are actually very minor compared to what stress can do to your body in the long-term.

When you consistently experience stress headaches, then you know it’s time to make some adjustments to your daily routines. You have to identify what factors are stressful in your life and fix them. Maybe work is getting to you. Then try fixing something about your work, such as adjusting your pace or the way you approach work mentally.

Maybe you’re not getting enough exercise in your life. Exercise is a great source for the alleviation of stress: it helps you escape pressure and the demands of work and family life. It’s also very healthy and makes you feel great mentally, physically and emotionally. You cannot go wrong with exercise.

Maybe your sleep hygiene is slacking. Are you getting at least 8 hours of sleep a night? Yes, we all know that you’ve heard this one a thousand times, but how come you’re still not applying it? Sleep is crucial for a well-functioning brain! In order to feel less stress and perform more optimally, you need to treat yourself right with 8 hours of sleep per night.

By getting rid of stress, improving your sleep hygiene and posture and exercising at least 2-3 times a week, you will start to feel much better in many aspects of your life. You will also notice that your stress headaches will dissipate and you will start feeling great again! Start making the changes today.

(As always, feel free to check out DSM Gear for some cool accessories and make sure to click the share buttons below to spread the message to your family and friends)

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Creatine: Not Just for Muscle — Human Performance Psychology

If you’re involved in sports that require speed, power, and strength, then you’ve likely come across creatine before. The supplement gained prominence in the early 1990s as a method of enhancing strength, and since then research has continued to explore its use as a sports performance aid. Beyond muscle, creatine is a supplement that […]

Creatine: Not Just for Muscle — Human Performance Psychology

Lyme Disease

When Ticks Take A Bite

As most people have probably heard, famous superstar Justin Bieber has been battling lyme disease, a vector-borne disease commonly spread by the deer tick in the northeast, mid-Atlantic and north-cental United States. But it’s not the tick itself that causes the disease, but rather the bacterium that lives inside the tick, also known as Borrelia Burgdorferi. When the tick takes a bite, the bacteria is inoculated into the bloodstream of the individual.

About 3-30 days after an individual is infected with the bacterium, common symptoms develop such as: fever, fatigue, joint aches, swollen lymph nodes, headaches and a classic “bull’s-eye” skin rash known as erythema migrans. If left untreated, more serious signs and symptoms usually develop a few months later.

These may include: neck stiffness, swollen knees with severe joint pain, facial palsy (drooping of one side of the face), heart palpitations known as “lyme carditis“, nerve pain, tingling in the hands and feet, etc. Diagnosis is done clinically based on signs and symptoms, as well as on blood samples measuring antibodies made by the body in response to infection.

There are even reports that when lyme disease infects the brain, it can cause psychiatric symptoms such as psychosis, rapid mood swings, episodes of rage, depression, panic attacks and even suicidal thoughts. That’s why it’s very important to receive an early diagnosis, so that treatment can be started right away.

The early stages of lyme disease have a good prognosis. Treatment involves oral antibiotics such as amoxicillin or doxycycline. If more advanced cases such as “lyme carditis” or “neuro lyme” develop, intravenous antibiotics such as ceftriaxone or penicillin are used. Most people start to recover within a few weeks of starting the antibiotics.

It is important to note that if fatigue, difficulty thinking and muscle aches continue to last approximately 6 months after treatment was started, the patient may have something called “Post-Treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome” or “chronic lyme disease.” There is no proven treatment at the moment for chronic lyme disease; however, patients eventually feel better after many months.

The way to prevent lyme disease is to make sure that you remain covered up when exploring wooded or grassy areas. Also wear repellant, immediately shower after being outdoors and check for any tick bites. It’s not that difficult to miss a tick bite and be walking around with lyme disease for weeks at a time without even knowing it.

Safety always comes first; mentally and physically.

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Intermittent Fasting

Sticking To A Healthy Diet And Exercise

There is some hype regarding intermittent fasting and its benefits. Intermittent fasting (intermittent energy restriction) is the adoption of various meal timing schedules that alternate between fasting and non-fasting over a given period of time. The idea is that by switching up your eating intervals, your body snaps out of its regular metabolic rate, resulting in increased cellular breakdown of glucose, the burning of more fat and eventual weight loss.

It sounds like another modern-day gimmick for people who struggle to lose weight. All of these diet fads are nothing more than attempts by society to get you to try various weight loss programs. Let’s face it, at the end of the day, a person is going to eat whatever they want; no dieting or fasting will prevent them from doing so.

And why is that? Because it comes down to personality and mindset. If you are truly motivated to lose weight, then you will do whatever it takes to lose it in a healthy manner. You won’t have to rely on diet fads and new ideas to make it happen. It always comes down to a few basics: eat less, eat healthier and exercise your core off!

Why would you ever want to expose yourself to hunger and irritability and wait a few weeks, until your body becomes adjusted to intermittent fasting? It makes absolutely no sense. Anyone who struggles with weight loss would probably give up after a day of fasting. And anyone who already has a normal BMI would never need to fast in the first place.

Unless you are doing it for religious purposes, then there is no good reason to fast. You’ll find tons of articles out there from physicians relying on scientific evidence that intermittent fasting is healthy, and can lead to weight loss, decreased blood pressure and improved glucose regulation. Whoopee! Or you can just stop being lazy and go exercise three times a week, while consuming less carbohydrates and fats.

Humans are pleasurable creatures: we strive on dopamine spurts throughout the day. And there is nothing wrong with rewarding ourselves with food. Sleeping, eating and having sex are the most natural activities of all living creatures. Why mess around with one of them, just because modern-day science is entertaining the idea of intermittent fasting?

It’s good to keep up to date with medical advances and new recommendations, but until more legitimate evidence exists, it’s better to just stick with the basics. No college student goes to medical school to learn how to recommend intermittent fasting to their patients; it’s not part of the curricula.

Always be honest with yourself. How many of you are entertaining the idea of intermittent fasting, because the thought of eating healthier and exercising more sounds unbearable? There’s the problem in the first place: the thought sounds unbearable because you are not willing to put in the effort.

People are always looking for shortcuts in life, but shortcuts do not deliver solid results. Discipline and hard work do.

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Can’t Keep My Eyes Open

Exhausted But Still Kicking

The lack of sleep is a silent killer, similar to uncontrolled high blood pressure. While high blood pressure viciously attacks your organs such as your brain, heart, kidneys and more, the lack of sleep nonchalantly attacks your mental well-being. And so you start to rely on coffee, energy drinks, stimulants or a bunch of sugar.

While not the best way to go about your day, millions of people worldwide are sleep-deprived due to a poor sleep hygiene. Not having enough time to sleep is only an excuse propelled by those who actually do not have the discipline to get a full night’s 8-hour rest. It’s not hard to get good sleep, but are you interested in getting it in the first place?

The worst days are when you wake up and can’t keep your eyes open! All you can think of is emailing your employer, “leave me alone for today, I don’t want to think about you” and climb back into bed and peacefully snooze. That sounds nice and can definitely be done once in a while, but should not be your go-to-strategy.

And even if you sleep all day, it’s just not the same quality of sleep as you get during the night, especially when going to bed earlier in the evening. Sometimes it’s worth considering taking days off from work in order to refresh your mind and unwind your chakras. But your best strategy should be an awesome sleep hygiene!

You may be exhausted and still kicking, but is that really how you want to go about your day? Wouldn’t have it been easier to just go to sleep on time the previous night? But that’s where a lot of us struggle: we want to watch another episode of a Netflix show, talk an extra hour on the phone, fall deeper down the YouTube hole, etc.

The excuses for not getting enough sleep at night can pile up, until you become chronically sleep-deprived and start to experience a change in your mental well-being. Lack of sleep is associated with irritability, sadness, anger, anxiety and a poor outlook on life; it’s associated with feeling incomplete!

Can’t keep your eyes open but are still kicking? Good. A little pain is what it sometimes takes to make a change in poor behavior.

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Punch-Drunk Syndrome

Living With Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy

CTE is a neurodegenerative disease that occurs after repeated head traumas and multiple blows to the head. It tends to occur in athletes such as boxers and hockey and football players, but may also be seen in cases of domestic violence and military personnel exposed to concussions. The symptoms tend to occur 8-10 years later. The disorder is based on a clinical judgment, since a definitive diagnosis does not occur until after death, available as autopsy results.

There are four stages. Some of the first symptoms include confusion, dizziness and headaches. This is followed by memory loss and impulsive behavior. Eventually, dementia, vertigo, depression, deafness and suicidality occur. There are many more symptoms which may occur, such as:

  • Pathological jealousy
  • Tremors
  • Paranoia
  • Parkinsonism
  • Speech problems
  • Unsteady gait

Pathologically, there is atrophy of the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain as well as the hippocampus, mammillary bodies and amygdala. There is also evidence of neuronal loss, white matter changes, hyperphosphorylated tau protein deposition, thinning of the corpus callosum, dilated ventricles, and much more. The disorder causes a great deal of damage to the brain, especially after years of repetitive blows to the head.

There is no effective way of preventing this disorder, unless one quits the sport or activity which increases their risk of repetitive concussions and head trauma. One important method of helping to prevent this disorder is the time-off period required after a concussion or head trauma.

Immediately returning to a sport or activity without providing enough time for recovery, increases the chances of experiencing future impacts followed by neurological complications. But even if this protocol is followed, it’s not going to prevent boxers from being exposed to heavy hits or football players from experiencing helmet-first tackles. Some have even called for the banning of boxing!

At this moment in time, there is no treatment for CTE. As with other forms of dementia, supportive treatment is provided. This involves having a caregiver guide and help take care of the patient at home. When one experiences memory loss, depression and confusion, he or she puts themselves at a greater risk of encountering dangerous situations, such as:

  • Leaving the stove on while alone at home
  • Getting into car accidents or not knowing how to return home
  • Wandering in the neighborhood and getting lost
  • Losing items and personal belongings
  • Death due to injuries or suicidality

As you can see, this is a very serious mental condition which can easily impair one’s life, and there are no good preventative strategies to avoid its development. The best way to prevent the development of this disorder is to avoid contact sports, but how can you convince thousands of people worldwide to stop playing their favorite sports?

It just won’t happen anytime soon.

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