Dry needling vs. acupuncture: What the research says

Dry needling and acupuncture involve puncturing the skin with thin needles for therapeutic purposes. While a shared aim is to provide relief from pain, the practices are otherwise very different.

Practitioners of dry needling attempt to release tension from knots and pressure points in muscles. Acupuncturists insert needles to release endorphins and affect the nervous system. Traditionally, acupuncture was used to align a person’s energy, or chi.

While researchers have studied acupuncture as a complementary treatment for many conditions, dry needling is a newer practice, and the evidence is less comprehensive. Also, strict guidelines are in place for acupuncturists, but dry needling is not regulated.

Full story at Medical News Today

Relieve holiday headaches with physical therapy

PORTAGE—The fact that the season of giving, joy and celebration can also be our most stressful time of year is one of the worst-kept secrets of the holidays.

And yet, year after year, we charge forward, often fighting through headaches to complete our shopping, plan for get-togethers with friends, and fulfill all our family obligations.

But why fight through the headaches, asks Portage physical therapist Mary Rose Strickland of New Life Physical Therapy, when a physical therapist can often provide relief from cervicogenic and tension-type headaches by correcting the problems that are causing your pain?

Full story of getting through the holiday with PT at Portage Daily Register

Foot osteoarthritis affects one in six over 50s

Experts at Keele University’s Arthritis Research UK Primary Care Centre studied more than 5,000 people with painful foot osteoarthritis.

The condition is caused by inflammation in and around the joints, damage to cartilage and swelling. People can suffer a range of symptoms including pain, stiffness and difficulty moving and often have osteoarthritis in other joints, such as hips or knees.

The study found that foot osteoarthritis affects more women than men, while those who have spent a lot of time in manual work are more likely to develop it.

Three-quarters of people with the condition reported having difficulty with simple day-to-day activities such as walking, standing, housework and shopping.

Dr Edward Roddy, clinical senior lecturer in rheumatology at Keele University, said the research had focussed on “midfoot” joints, which previous studies have neglected to do.

He said a “substantial proportion of people” with painful foot osteoarthritis have the problem in this area, meaning there has been a previous underestimate in how common it is.

Full story of foot osteoarthritis over 50 at Nursing Times 

Can Chewing Gum Cause Migraines in Teens?

Maybe it’s not only teachers who get a headache from their students’ lip smacking, bubble popping and gum cracking.

Dr. Nathan Watemberg of Meir Medical Center in Kfar Saba, Israel, has evidence that gum-chewing teenagers, and younger children as well, may be giving themselves a pain in the head. His small study focused on child and adolescent gum-chewers suffering from migraines and other chronic headaches.

“Out of our 30 patients, 26 reported significant improvement, and 19 had complete headache resolution,” said Watemberg. “Twenty of the improved patients later agreed to go back to chewing gum, and all of them reported an immediate relapse of symptoms.”

He is hoping that his findings, to be published in Pediatric Neurology, could offer a simple way to treat migraine and tension headaches in gum-chewers without the need for additional testing or medication.

Full story of chewing gum and migraines at Shalom Life

11 Totally Natural And Completely Unexpected Ways To Ease Pain

What’s the thing you do best? Our biggest strengths can contribute significantly to our happiness, success and well-being — and to those of the people around us.

According to newly-released Gallup data, using one’s best talents can also play a role in one’s comfort. In more than 120,000 interviews conducted during the latter half of 2012, Gallup found that the more people use their strengths throughout the day, the less likely they are to say they feel physical pain.

At least 116 million Americans live with chronic pain, uncomfortable at best, debilitating and isolating at worst.

Despite existing health problems, 50 percent of people who do what they do best for at least 10 hours a day said they experience pain, while 69 percent of people who use their top strengths for three hours a day or less said they experience pain, according to the new report. The relationship also exists among people without any ongoing health issues, albeit more weakly: 13 percent of people who use their strengths for 10 or more hours a day reported physical pain, while 17 percent of people who use their strengths for three hours or fewer did.

Whether the people using their strengths all day long are simply more positive people or just more distracted is still to be determined, according to Gallup. But it’s certainly something to consider when reaching into the toolbox of pain management techniques. In addition to playing to your strengths, here are 10 more all-natural, little-known ways to make yourself more comfortable, fast.

Full story of natural pain reliefs at the Huffington Post

Painful past in childhood may lead to chronic pain in adulthood

Research now shows that painful experiences in childhood can translate into chronic pain in adulthood. These findings were published this month in The Journal of Pain which is a publication of the American Pain Society. This could be instrumental in treating emotional and physical pain in childhood in a way that could help prevent long lasting effects.

This research does not surprise me. During my work with chronic pain and fibromyalgia patients in 2004-2008, I found that the vast majority of the patients I worked with were female and were injured in some way as a child or an adolescent. There were a lot of post traumatic stress disorders, chronic depression and anxiety. My patients would tell me how they felt medically disenfranchised and looked down upon by the medical system. If they did not respond to the prescribed drug treatment regimen they often get tagged as malingerers or addicts. How sad it was to have something as subjective as pain be judged so harshly. Pain cannot be measured with a lab test or x-ray. It is through the subjective description of the results by the patient that therapy is adjusted.

Fibromyalgia, muscle pain and fatigue, is recognized as a distinct disease by arthritis doctors and the American College of Rheumatology. Yet many doctors view the same symptoms as signs of depression and still consider it a psychological condition. I am of the thought that it is in reality a complex condition that affects the mind, body and spirit of the person who experiences it. It is all encompassing and debilitating for the individual who suffers from it.

Full story of painful pasts and chronic pain future at E-Max Health

Do headaches worsen with weather?

As if the havoc rain wreaks on my hair weren’t sufficient… how many times can I suffer actual physical pain — in the form of a throbbing, debilitating headache — during a thunderstorm before I can officially blame the weather for it?

Considering that more than 30 million people in the U.S. suffer from excruciating migraines, verifying the possible link between seasonality and headaches is no joke (especially since I’ve already cut out other well-known triggers, such as red wine and chocolate — to no avail).

I asked pain management experts to weigh in on this connection: Do weather changes spur on my migraines, or is this rumor full of hot air?

The verdict: Weather definitely causes some headaches

If you suffer from headaches, then warm weather, drastic temperature changes, low barometric pressure and even lightning bolts are not your friends. Scientists are still trying to figure out the precise mechanism behind weather-induced migraines, but the link is genuin

Full story of headaches and the weather at CNN Health

Prevention is key to conquering lower back pain

While millions of American men and women will experience lower back pain this year, a little bit of prevention can go a long way to lessen the severity of the pain or even avoid it altogether. Here are some simple steps to better back care:

1. Don’t be a slouch

Mom was right when she told you to sit up straight. Good posture helps minimize chronic back conditions because it strengthens core muscles and can reduce pain. Your stomach and back muscles work in tandem to support your spine.

Strong muscles and flexibility in the lower body area — hips, thighs and pelvic area — is important for good pelvic alignment and support. Take care of your body for less pain.

2. Exercise regularly

Walking, swimming, riding your bike, or even taking a walk around the mall can improve your muscle function. Thirty minutes of walking a day will help improve chronic pain, prevent injury, and offer many other health benefits, such as decreasing your risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, coronary artery disease and many other problems.

Full story of preventing back pain at the Chicago Tribune

Exercise and physical therapy can help with arthritis

Osteoarthritis, the wear-and-tear form of arthritis, is very common, affecting 20 million people in the U.S. It is a chronic condition in which the material that cushions the joints, called cartilage, breaks down.

This causes the bones to rub against each other, causing stiffness, pain and loss of joint movement. The cause is not fully understood.

The hands, knees, hips, neck and low back are most commonly involved. And, while osteoarthritis does gradually worsen over time, this does not mean it has to be painful, and there are things that can be done to slow the progression of the disease.

Many people feel that if they have arthritis, they cannot or should not exercise the involved joints. This is often due to a fear of increased pain, or a concern of worsening the arthritis.

Exercise, however, has been shown to decrease arthritis pain and lessen joint stiffness. Exercise can also improve the health of the joint, slowing the progression of arthritis over time.

Full story of the physical therapy and arthritis at Statesman.com

Headache docs list top 5 tests and treatments to avoid

Doctors who specialize in treating head pain, such as chronic migraines, are out with a list of five procedures and treatments they think have risks or costs that may outweigh the benefits.

The American Headache Society’s list is part of the American Board of Internal Medicine’s Choosing Wisely campaign that has seen cancer doctors, eye doctors and chest surgeons naming the overused or unproven practices their peers should avoid and patients should question.

The newest Choosing Wisely list was published Thursday in the journal Headache.

“The article and recommendations identify situations that are felt by experts to be cases where patients and doctors should think very carefully before they decide to use that particular treatment or intervention,” said Dr. Elizabeth Loder, an author of the new recommendations.

Loder is the president of the American Headache Society, and chief of the Division of Headache and Pain at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

Full story of headache treatments at NBC News