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Chronic Back Pain, its complexity and the benefits of psychotherapy

Chronic Pain, its complexity and the benefits of psychotherapy

Are you offended if your doctor or health care practitioner suggests seeing a mental health counsellor to help you with your chronic pain? In our Western culture, we first turn to a doctor for our physical problems. However, more often than not, they are unable to find a cause to effectively fix the problem and remove the pain. From your perspective, as a chronic pain sufferer, this can leave you confused, frustrated and disempowered.

In our Western culture, we first turn to a doctor for our physical problems. However, more often than not, they are unable to find a cause to effectively fix the problem and remove the pain. From your perspective, as a chronic pain sufferer, this can leave you confused, frustrated and disempowered.

Not feeling believed

A recent study found that health care providers did not always believe their patients’ chronic pain complaints, which they “considered imaginary” and the providers’ responses “indicated speculation, underrating and denial of pain” (Ojala et al, 2015). Your scepticism about psychotherapy as a viable treatment method is completely understandable when the idea comes from someone who made you feel like they didn’t believe you. I can also see why it wouldn’t make sense to you to receive a suggestion to work on your mental or emotional health when you very clearly are experiencing a physical health problem. Chronic pain is a complex problem, whether you feel it in your lower back or anywhere else. So why should chronic pain be any more complex than acute pain?

 

How is chronic pain different?

Acute pain is temporary, not lasting longer than three to six months, which is the normal amount of time for tissue damage to heal. This kind of pain generally serves an important function of signalling damage to the body, as a warning to prevent further injury and to give the body time to heal. Also, the intensity of the pain experienced usually corresponds to the extent of the tissue damage. Chronic pain is persistent, does not usually match pain intensity to tissue damage, and serves no useful biological function. Even though chronic pain is not a signal of tissue damage the pain is still experienced biologically through the nervous system. Brain regions associated with pain may be activated even when there is no indicated tissue damage or observable cause. Whether there is an observable cause or not, all pain is physically perceived and experienced through the brain’s nervous system and the neurochemistry of pain is extremely complex. All that is to say, just because there is no observable cause, doesn’t mean that the pain you are experiencing isn’t real, in fact, it is the opposite – your pain is very real!

Even more complex…

Chronic pain is a complex and multifaceted problem that includes biological, psychological and social dimensions. For those of you who suffer from chronic pain, you know how difficult the experience is and how it can affect so many aspects of your lives.

Many people suffering from chronic pain often face other challenges like trouble sleeping, depression or other mood disorders, weight issues and relationship distress. When a doctor focuses on any of the above, especially psychological factors, you, as a chronic pain sufferer, may understandably feel like your pain experience is being invalidated and that you are being treated as if the pain is “just in your head.”

There are some really valid reasons for a health care practitioner to ask about these issues because these often are legitimate contributing factors to your pain experience. A well-informed pain practitioner should take into account your physical state, your emotions, your thoughts and your relationships. They will know that chronic pain is both a physical issue and a psychological issue.

The multi-dimensionality of chronic pain makes it a condition worth being treated by psychotherapy, not only by a body expert like a doctor, chiropractor, osteopath or massage therapist.

Psychological processes of pain

Researchers going back to the 1960s have studied how experiences in the brain, such as thoughts and emotions affect pain perception. In their ground-breaking study in 1965, Canadian psychologist Ronald Melzack along with Patrick Wall first introduced the gate control theory of pain, where they proposed that the perception of pain is not only from a specific place in the body to the brain but that what happens in the brain (thoughts and feelings) also influences the pain experience (Melzack & Wall, 1965).

Psychological and social aspects such as your environmental stressors, emotions and interpersonal issues play a role in affecting pain. Neurobiological research has verified that chronic pain includes biological, psychological and social dimensions; and therefore psychotherapy is a beneficial treatment method.

How a counsellor/psychotherapist can help

Counsellors or psychotherapist working with sufferers of chronic pain understand how the emotional, mental and physical components all interact together to produce and exacerbate the client’s experience of pain. As mentioned above, many people suffering from chronic pain usually report multiple and overlapping problems such as sleep disorders, mood disorders, disability, weight issues, and relationship distress, which are all issues that psychotherapy can help with. Numerous studies over the years have shown that 40 to 50 percent of those with chronic pain suffer from depression and these two conditions, unfortunately mutually reinforce each other.

As your counsellor, I will pay attention to your emotional state, which for many chronic pain sufferers is usually primarily negative emotions such as helplessness, fear, and anger. Living day after day with pain that interferes with your desired activities along with feeling little to no control over the pain, it is completely understandable you would be experiencing these difficult emotions. I also work with a client’s experience of stress, underlying beliefs and expectations, identity issues, family dynamics, problem-solving styles, formative experiences and behaviour patterns that may all be contributing to the pain experience.

In conclusion:

Chronic pain is a complex and multifaceted problem that includes biological, psychological and social dimensions. While it may seem like a suggestion to see a mental health counsellor to help with your chronic pain is not what you need, over fifty years of ongoing research continues to demonstrate the ways that psychotherapy can help. If you are a chronic pain sufferer, please consider setting up a free meet and greet session with me so we can talk more specifically about how psychotherapy and counselling could help.

References:

Ojala, T., Häkkinen, A., Karppinen, J., Sipilä, K., Suutama, T., & Piirainen, A. (2015). Although unseen, chronic pain is real—A phenomenological study. Scandinavian Journal of Pain, 6, 33-40. doi: 10.1016/j.sjpain.2014.04.004  Melzack, R. & Wall, P.D. (1965). Pain mechanisms: A new theory. Science, 50, 971-979.

low self-esteem lack of confidence

Low self-esteem and lack of confidence in young people

So many young people these days suffer from low self-esteem and a lack of confidence.

The pressure especially from peers to conform, and fit in is enormous. The pace of life is increasing all the time, they are expected to be instantly contactable at all times and they are becoming less and less present and grounded in the real world.

The lack of confidence and low self esteem creates an inability to stand up for themselves and may trigger bullying and isolation. They become plagued by fear and anxiety, feel unloved and unlovable, undeserving and inadequate. This can lead to depression, panic attacks, and a withdrawing or avoidance of social interaction.

It can also result in a lack of achievement due to an inner belief that it is better not to try than to try and not succeed.

There can be many reasons for this lack of confidence and low self-esteem, some examples are:

  • Failing to achieve parental expectation or standards
  • Not meeting peer expectations or standards
  • Being on the receiving end of other people’s stress or distress
  • Parents who fight, or who are separating or separated
  • Physical and / or emotional neglect or abuse in the home or outside
  • A feeling of being unsupported, a lack of interest, affection, love, praise or reassurance
  • Belonging to a group that other people are prejudiced against or being the odd one out

Often this low self-esteem and lack of confidence is formulated in childhood. It is the result of a child’s perspective of the world and those around us and can affect the whole of our lives unless we work to bring about a change.

Ways to improve low self-esteem and confidence

Unfortunately, it is not as easy as just telling the person they are great and giving positive feedback. In fact, that seems to have the opposite effect.

As a parent, it is helpful to ensure that your child feels supported;

  • Spend the time to listen to them, support them in their life challenges.
  • Make sure to give them a hug or show affection every day.
  • Acknowledge their efforts, even if they do not succeed and avoid the ‘could do better’ attitude.
  • Encourage them to find the things they are good at and support them in that field. We cannot all be hockey players or mathematicians!  Perhaps your child is good at art, or music.
  • Encourage them to write a journal and then to look at the good things and achievements for that day.
  • Try to be non-judgemental about mistakes your child makes, discuss these mistakes with the perspective that although it may not have been a wise choice it is a positive experience and a great learning opportunity. Perhaps discuss some of your own not so wise choices and look at how they have positively impacted your life.
  • Create the attitude that it is okay to be human, none of us is perfect. Display this attitude when talking about yourself.
  • Perhaps your child would consider enrolling in a martial art such as karate or aikido
  • Question their negative view of themselves and the messages they are receiving – why do they think that / why does it matter what peers say / think.

Outside support

We cannot do everything alone; sometimes we need a little help.

There are a number of healing modalities that can be beneficial in improving self-esteem and confidence and in bringing about a change in how we view ourselves and the world.

Hypnosis and Hypnotherapy

Hypnosis works with our subconscious to shift our views and beliefs.  It can provide tools to be used at times we are feeling vulnerable, depressed or anxious.

It can also help to release emotional baggage that we may be carrying.

Counselling and Psychotherapy

Talk therapy can be extremely helpful. The opportunity to work with a non-judgemental person outside of our immediate family and social group, they are non-biased and independent. They can bring a different perspective on our issues, and help us develop coping strategies.

Reiki / chakra balancing

Energy work will assist the body in better balance. It can help to release negative emotions and generate more self-love and self-worth. In turn, this leads to an increased confidence.

When we acknowledge our strengths and weaknesses and accept that we are a beautiful person despite that weakness and areas that need work then we have less need for acceptance from others.

Emotional Blueprint Coaching

This unique approach combines reflexology to examine and release the deeply held emotions in our bodies along with journeying and visualisation to work with the conscious mind.

We all have an Emotional Blueprint – the way we have been trained to view the world and our expectations from that world. This powerful technique works to shift that perspective so we can truly be the best that we can be.

Whatever you or your child is drawn to, it is important to address the underlying causes of low self-esteem and lack of confidence. They can have a very negative impact on our whole lives.

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Disclaimer

This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

sports performance cupping

Sports performance – How Cupping Massage can help young atheletes

So I’ve been getting a lot more inquiries about cupping treatments since the Olympics. It seems that Michael Phelps has really helped his sports performance put this effective form of treatment on the map!

Thanks, Michael!

It’s true, cupping can really work wonders. In my practice, as a registered massage therapist I use them a lot, especially with athletes and sports enthusiasts. When I’m not able to get into the massage therapist, I like to use my new top rated shiatsu massage chair. The intense strength training and repetition that the athletic population participate in can quickly build up areas of thick fascia in the body.

While the marks that cups leave can be a little off-putting for some, more often than not the benefits far outweigh any sensitivity to the aesthetics of cupping. 4-7 days is the average amount of time it takes for cupping marks to disappear.

So how does this relate to young athletes and their sports performance?

As the school year is getting into full swing, a lot of students are starting try-outs and practices with their chosen athletic teams.

Aches and pains and injuries are going to happen, it is a natural consequence of pushing ourselves and our bodies. And while these physical challenges are a healthy part of life, it is just as important to take care of our bodies through this process, when an injury happens, and to help prevent injury.

What a lot of athletes don’t know is that stretching the fascia that surrounds and weaves through muscle tissue is going to help them achieve peak performance, just as much as strengthening the muscle itself. Supplements like ostarine, can help build muscles and tone them.

If our muscles can’t glide or move through their full range due to restrictions, then the body won’t be able to perform as well. Cupping can be a great option for areas that are difficult to stretch out, or for those of you who neglect the stretching part training (you know who you are !) And for the younger generation of athletes, keeping the body’s tissues open, will not only improve athletic performance, but it will help minimize the effects of thickening fascia on their still-growing bodies.

Taking advantage of the services of a massage therapist who also incorporates cupping into their sessions can double the amount of treatment that can be achieved in the allotted time.

The cups can remain static (leaving them in one place for a period of time), and the therapist can simultaneously use their hands to work other areas of the body.

Dynamic cupping (keeping the cups moving) can also be used which greatly reduces marking, yet effectively opens the fascia. This allows for much more effective treatment of the muscles underneath afterwards. And for those who really want the benefits of manual therapy, but are not comfortable with the hands-on of traditional Swedish massage, cupping is a great solution!

Book an appointment for yourself or your young athlete, and discover the amazing benefits of Cupping!

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This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

acupuncture concussion

Concussion – How Acupuncture may help in youth

Concussion, which occurs more frequently in children and adolescents than in adults, can have many debilitating symptoms.  These symptoms have an impact on both a physical and an emotional level.  In Traditional Chinese Medicine or TCM theory, acupuncture works on the mind, body and spirit and thus addresses these problems.

Acupuncture is known for treating headache, insomnia, irritability, anxiety, and pain which are all possible symptoms of a traumatic brain injury or TBI.

How does acupuncture do this?

TCM is founded on the idea that where the energy goes, blood goes.

Science tells us that some of the symptoms occurring in concussion patients are due to a lack of blood flow to the brain.

The brain cells, which use glucose delivered by the blood as a source of energy, are not able to heal as quickly as they otherwise would and as this impeded flow of blood to the brain continues symptoms can become worse.

Another factor at work here is the nervous system.  More often than not clients report feeling more relaxed after an acupuncture treatment.  This shift into the parasympathetic nervous system responsible for rest and digest is a key factor in the healing process for TBIs.

Acupuncture affects the neurochemical activity of the brain as well.  The theory is that this helps the brain return to its normal activity after a severe trauma such as a concussion.

Battlefield acupuncture for concussion

In the American army, where concussion is the number one injury, Battlefield Acupuncture is used.  Battlefield Acupuncture was introduced to one sector of the army and then incorporated across all of them because of its effectiveness and ease of use in the field.   In this protocol, small semi-permanent needles are used in the ear.  The doctors using this technique have described the results as “off the charts” and “incredible”.

Just as with most if not all therapies, the effectiveness of acupuncture’s ability to relieve symptoms is increased the sooner it is used, though results have been seen in patients treated even several years following the original injury to the brain.

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childhood wellbeing

Diet and childhood wellbeing

For well over two decades, research has been correlating diet with childhood wellbeing.

Studies have shown that diets containing high quantities of sugar, food additives (preservatives and artificial colouring) or common allergenic foods can have a negative impact on their behaviour and state of health. There was one expert that came up with the best diet for your health.

Some food related symptoms can be attention-deficit disorders (ADD, ADHD), hyperactivity, destructive aggressive behaviour, restlessness, fits, headaches, abdominal pain, and/or skin disorders.

Nutritional deficiencies may also be contributing to these behaviours and symptoms.

Common deficiencies in children

The two most common deficiencies in children are:

An iron deficiency which can cause anaemia and symptoms of tiredness, weakness, weak immune system and impaired brain function (less oxygen reaching the brain). And iron deficiency could also affect growth and development.

Lack of Vitamin D which may cause growth delays in children, rickets (soft bones), and contribute to a weakened immune system.

Other deficiencies may include:

Vitamin B1, thiamin-deficiency which is known to cause aggressive behaviour

Fatty acids deficiency which causes mixed/oily/dry skin and small bumps on the back of the upper arms among other skin-related issues.

Food allergies in children

Research has also shown that changes in diet such as eliminating the culprits and including whole foods (greens, vegetables, and unprocessed foods) can help to correct most of the behavioural issues, food-related health issues and nutritional deficiencies. I was having a hard time buying nutritious foods for my kids, I looked up how do I apply for wic, I found a website that allows you to apply online.

Related studies have found that participants who had reported physical symptoms such as abdominal pain and headaches, noticed significant improvements when eliminating food preservatives, food colouring, sugar and allergens from their diet.

Moreover, participants would also relapse into their symptoms during the reintroduction of these foods.

When seeking to determine the root cause of behaviour or other related symptoms, potential food allergens should be eliminated from the diet.

These allergens include milk, eggs, cheese, corn, wheat, pork, beef, peanuts, soft drinks, high fructose syrup, refined/white/brown sugar, chocolate and ketchup among others.

Keep in mind that foods you might consider ‘healthy’ may still contain with food preservatives, food colouring, high quantities of sugar and/or allergens. Always make sure to read the list of ingredients of anything you intend to feed your child to avoid being fooled by marketing strategies and labels.

Ways to improve childhood wellbeing

Four Things you can do now to improve your childhood wellbeing:

1. An Elimination Diet

Your child could benefit from an oligoantigenic diet, also known as the elimination diet, or a modified version of it. Remember, there are foods that contain essential vitamins and minerals needed for optimal growth and development. Always consult with your Naturopathic Doctor before starting these nutritional changes.

2. Add supplementation

Some children may benefit from the supplementation of Omega 3’s, greens, vitamins and minerals.

It’s not always easy to convince children to eat their vegetables and some may be more selective with the foods they want to eat.

Children may need additional supplementation for iron, vitamin D, zinc and more. Consult your Naturopathic Doctor for appropriate supplements and dosage.

3. Active play time

Allowing a child to burn energy is vital.

If a child doesn’t use their energy reserves they can become restless and hyperactive. Focus and sleep patterns can be disrupted.

Children need at least 60min of moderate to vigorous physical activity daily. Including vigorous-intensity activities 3 times a week, and bone and muscle strengthening activities 3 times a week. Find sports and activities that your child really enjoys.

4. Read all ingredients lists

Labels and advertisements can be deceiving.

Stay away from processed products that have the words “fat-free” and “sugar-free”. These words just mean they are replacing fat or sugar with chemicals.

Keep in your cart products with ingredients you can read and are 5 or fewer ingredients.

Some of the ingredients to watch out for are blue 1, blue 2, green 3, red 3, red 40, yellow 5, FD&C lakes (combination of colours or dyes), orange B (in sausages and hot dogs casings), BHT (Butylated Hydroxytoluene) & BHA (Butylated Hydroxyanisole), Sulfites, artificial sweeteners (Aspartame, Acesulfame-K, Saccharin), added sugar (High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS), Corn Syrup, Dextrose), Propyl Gallate, Potassium Bromate, Monosodium Glutamate (MSG), Olestra (Olean), Heptylparaben and Sodium Nitrate.

This is not an exhaustive list but will help get you started. Have this list accessible when go grocery shopping.

Many behavioural issues and uncomfortable symptoms can be eliminated through dietary adjustments.

Contact Dr Frances Pierantoni, ND for more information on receiving a personalised assessment and strategy for you and your family.

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allergies children ottawa

Children – Why so many allergies?

The number of allergies is on the rise, but why are we seeing more people, and especially children with allergies?

Allergies and auto-immune disorders occur when our immune system mistakenly identifies an otherwise harmless substance as a threat. It then attacks these inappropriate targets. In the case of an allergy this may be a food, dust, mould, pollen etc or in the case of an autoimmune disease the body is attacked.

So why are there more food allergies?

The medical profession does not really have any definitive answers as to why the number of allergies is on the rise. There are however several theories.

The Hygiene Hypothesis speculates that we are not exposed to enough pathogens, parasites and other microbes giving our immune systems too little to do. This hypothesis has been around for several decades.

Digestive Health and Leaky Gut – around 80% of our immune system is in our gut, if the gut is not healthy, then we will not be healthy.

Lifestyle factors such as warmer, drier homes and a more sedentary lifestyle.

The Hygiene Hypothesis

Population studies have found that there is a much lower incidence of allergies, asthma and anaphylaxis in developing countries. It is also known that children who grow up on a farm, around animals and spending a lot of time outside have fewer allergies.

The theory is that these children are exposed to parasites and other microbes, which is much more in line with the way that we evolved.

During evolution our bodies adapted to the constant presence of these parasites and other microbes. Now that they have been removed from our environment we have a very active immune system that is effectively itching for a fight.

In other words, our living conditions and food are so clean they don’t offer our immune systems enough to do, so our systems overreact to harmless allergens instead.

Nick Furnham at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and his team have also found similarities between the proteins in parasitic worms and those in pollens. He suggests that our parasite defenses will naturally attack the pollen leading to seasonal allergies.

So what can we do?

We are simply too paranoid about “GERMS”

If your house is generally clean it is acceptable for your child to play on the floor. Allowing your child to play outside and to be exposed to dirt is beneficial for the immune system. (Avoid areas that may be contaminated with animal waste)

Also exposure to animals including pets will have benefits for their immune system and your child’s mental well-being.

Digestive Health and Leaky Gut

It is estimated that 80% of our immune system is found in the gut.

When damage is caused to our gut lining by food allergies and intolerances, reactions to antibiotics or pesticides, or illnesses such as gastro-enteritis it allows bacteria, metabolic wastes and undigested proteins to enter our blood stream.

These foreign substances in the blood stimulate the immune system into attacking and trigger inflammation, allergies and auto-immune diseases.

Allergies are also more prevalent in C-section children. Baby’s digestive tracts are sterile. During a natural birth they will be exposed to the flora found in their mother’s gut. Studies are suggesting that these babies should deliberately be exposed to a swab from their mother in order to populate their gut with the necessary ‘good’ bacteria and other microbes.

So how do we fix this?

“Healing and sealing” your gut has been shown to help alleviate allergy symptoms. The key lies in altering your diet to eliminate any offending foods and introducing healthier choices that will support a proper balance of bacteria in your gut.

It is becoming more generally understood that processed foods, “junk food”, GMO products and synthetic ingredients in foods can decimate the beneficial bacteria in your gut, thereby having a negative effect on your immune system.

A registered nutritionist can give you individualised advice on which foods to eat.

Antibiotics should be avoided unless absolutely necessary. Following any course of antibiotics it is essential to take a good quality, preferably soil based, probiotic to repopulate the gut with ‘friendly’ bacteria.

Lifestyle factors

Human beings are designed to be active for a greater portion of their day. In our modern world we too often spend many hours sitting down. Our lack of fitness impacts many systems in the body.
We also evolved to be outside in all weathers and temperatures. We live indoors in clean, warm and dry conditions. We are not exposed to challenging conditions and temperature changes that strengthen our bodies.

One study in the UK found that people who took a swim in cold water (sea, river or a lake) daily or several times a week, actually had stronger immune systems, were sick less often and had fewer allergies.

What can we do?

The answer is easy – move more and get out into the fresh air…. If only it were that simple!

Take your child outdoors throughout the year, they will come to no harm in the cold or heat as long as they are properly dressed and protected.

Make sure that they get plenty of exercise and active time – you will benefit too if you play with them.

As an adult, try to make time to be outdoors most days, and plan a time to exercise 5 days a week if you can, even if it is a 30min walk. Find an activity that you enjoy, whether playing ball with your child, building a snow man, going to the gym, a team sport or a regular walking group.

Beautiful plants and pots may be beneficial for your kids, too, only make sure the fertilizers are organic, e.g. Suppleplant Orchid Love.

By putting your exercise time into your schedule you will find it easier to achieve. The benefits will be worth the effort!

hidden signs of food sensitivities in children

Hidden signs of food sensitivities in children

Food sensitivities are on the rise in Canada and most worryingly among children. In my practice, the most common food sensitivities I see are to wheat, dairy, corn, eggs and soy. If I were to ask you what symptoms you would expect to see from a food sensitivity, I would suspect you to say digestive. Beware, this is not always the case. In this blog, I talk about the hidden symptoms of food sensitivities in children, what causes them and how best to identify them.

Peter is ten years old and has been brought to see me by his mum and dad complaining of lower back pain. They found me by looking for a local osteopath on Google and had been recommended osteopathy by a family friend. All osteopaths are trained to look for and treat physical causes of pain. Physical causes are usually the result of some trauma such as a fall. Peter’s pain had begun two months previously without any trauma. He noticed the pain only when he was playing hockey and running.

When physical pain, of any kind, develops for no apparent reason it makes me very suspicious and leads me to suspect that there may be an underlying factor at play.

On examination, I found that Peter’s muscles were very tight, and his lower back muscles were not functioning very well. These two clinical findings, to me, are a sign of chronic low-grade inflammation. There are four main causes of inflammation:

  1. Food sensitivities
  2. Infection
  3. Toxins
  4. Stress

Symptoms of Hidden Food Sensitivities

The most common cause of inflammation in children is food sensitivities. Peter had no digestive symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, constipation or diarrhoea. Despite this fact, I asked whether he experienced any of the following extra-digestive or hidden signs of food sensitivities. These symptoms include:

  1. Recurrent ear and throat infections
  2. Canker sores
  3. Frequent nosebleeds
  4. Unexplained muscle and joint pains sometimes diagnosed as “growing pains”.
  5. Black circles under your eyes, known as “Shiners.”
  6. Insomnia
  7. Hyperactivity and ADHD
  8. Anxiety
  9. Rash and other skin complaints
  10. Fatigue

Peter had some these other symptoms, which confirmed my suspicions and prompted me to suggest to his parents that we investigate whether he does have any food sensitivities.

Testing

There are three different ways I recommend to determine food sensitivities including:

Elimination diets

A food elimination is the scientific “gold standard” method for determining food sensitivities. Foods are avoided for 30 days. If symptoms improve then each food is reintroduced, one at a time, to determine which are the triggers.

Blood Food sensitivity testing

Blood food sensitivity testing in Canada measures IgG food antibodies to different foods. The problem with this testing is that there are two other antibodies, IgA and IgM, that your bodies immune system might produce. More comprehensive testing is available through Cyrex Labs in the US that measures both IgA and IgG antibodies.

Muscle testing

Muscle testing or applied kinesiology measures the response of your body’s nervous system to a substance. Muscle testing has not been validated by any scientific research however I have found a very reliable way of screening in clinical practice.

I always give my clients the option of what method of testing they would like me to use. For Peter, we used only muscle testing and identified dairy as a problem.

After three weeks of avoiding dairy, Peter returned my office and reported that he could now play hockey and run pain-free, and many of his other symptoms had lessened.

Disclaimer

This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

cystitis

Cystitis, Urinary incontinence, Urgency and Allergies

Do you suffer from bladder problems such as cystitis, incontinence or urgency, or perhaps have pain, itching or bleeding with intercourse?

You are not alone!

Did you ever consider that allergies may be triggering your cystitis?

I want to tell you about a client of mine, let’s call her Sarah.

She came to me with Interstitial Cystitis, a chronic condition which causes intense bladder pain and frequent urination. On a good day her pain level was 6 or 7 out of 10, and many days it was 9 / 10. She was getting up numerous times in the night to drink water as it helped to keep her urine dilute and therefore lessened her pain.

She was also finding that she often had abdominal pain after sexual intercourse and sometimes itching and bleeding.

She underwent extensive medical testing which showed no physical problem, everything was apparently ‘Normal”, and no infection was present. Her doctor had given her pain meds and suggested avoiding a few foods. Not wanting to take the pain meds on a regular basis she had found avoiding some foods to help a little, anti-histamines also brought some relief.

Natural Allergy Testing identified one of her main triggers as an allergy to salicylates. This is a compound naturally found in most fruits and vegetables. She considered her diet to be healthy, consuming foods such as olive oil, coconut oil, berries, herbs and spices, avocado and various other fruits, all of which are high in salicylates. A simple change in her diet to reduce the intake of salicylates brought a noticeable improvement in her symptoms.

She also had a problem with latex and spermicide. Changing her condoms to a non-latex version almost eliminated her pain after intercourse.

So how does this affect you?

Many women as they get older experience bladder urgency and incontinence. And it’s not always a case of “I am just getting older”! Visit a women’s health center like the one here. You may also consult Urology Health Solutions center.

One aspect that should be always considered is allergies. Allergies could be directly affecting your bladder, however, whether you have seasonal allergies or food allergies exposure to these allergens causes generalised inflammation in the body including the bladder and can increase urgency. This is why Sarah noticed an improvement with anti-histamine allergy meds.

What about foods?

One way that the body eliminates unwanted substances is through the urine. If you are allergic to a food it may cause increased thirst and / or bladder urgency as the body seeks to expel it from your system.

How do you know if food is the problem?

Research into the link between food and bladder issues such as interstitial cystitis is very limited, and at this time, there is no special diet recommended for these issues. There are, however, several ways to identify any food triggers.

Elimination diet

You avoid any suspected food allergens for a period of several weeks to a month. Once you feel better you re-introduce them, one every 2 weeks and observe any reactions.

In Sarah’s case, this would have been hard as salicylate is in so many foods. (Click here for information on salicylates in foods)

Allergy testing

This can be done by your Family Doctor, a Naturopathic Doctor or a Natural Allergist. Once you have the results you can use these to do your own elimination diet. This will give you the opportunity to determine which foods are worst and which you can tolerate and in what quantity.

Low Histamine Diet

Certain foods will always trigger Inflammation in the body, in the form of Histamine, whether you have an allergy to them or not. By avoiding these foods you will lower your general level of inflammation and improve any symptoms. This diet can be used as a way to‘re-set’ your body or to reduce symptoms at any time that you are experiencing an inflammatory response such as seasonal allergies or cystitis. The diet is used for a limited period of a few weeks to a couple of months.

Remember, you do not have to suffer, even if the medical profession say that everything is ‘Normal”. There is always an underlying reason for your health concerns so keep looking till you find it. There is no such thing as “I am just getting old”!

Disclaimer

This article is not meant to diagnose or treat any health condition. It is important that you do seek advice from a Medical Doctor to eliminate the possibility of infection or any other more serious issues.

L’incontinence urinaire

L’ostéopathie et l’incontinence urinaire d’effort chez la femme

L’incontinence urinaire d’effort se caractérise par l’impossibilité de retenir l’urine lors d’efforts tels que tousser, éternuer, rire, monter les escaliers  ou soulever des objets lourds.

Bref tout ce qui provoque une augmentation de pression dans l’enceinte abdominale suite à une faiblesse musculaire du plancher pelvien.

Même si les pertes sont relativement bénignes dans la majorité des cas, elles n’en créent pas moins un sentiment de gêne, de frustration ou de découragement chez celles qui en souffrent.

Les grossesses, les accouchements, la ménopause, l’obésité et le tabagisme sont  des facteurs prédisposant à l’incontinence urinaire d’effort parmi les plus fréquents.

Voici quelques explications permettant de mieux comprendre :

Grossesse: le haut niveau hormonal influe sur le relâchement du système sphinctérien en modifiant le tonus des tissus.

Accouchement : il comporte un risque d’endommagement des tissus musculaires, conjonctifs et nerveux dû à la distension du plancher pelvien.

Ménopause : l’arrêt de la sécrétion d’œstrogène accentue les effets du vieillissement tissulaire en entraînant la diminution du tonus musculaire du périnée et du plancher pelvien.

Obésité : elle augmente les forces de pression sur les organes du petit bassin et du périnée.

Tabagisme : Les cigarettes ont des effets aggravants, entre autre, par la toux qu’elles provoquent. Le tabac a aussi un effet anti-œstrogène qui altère les structures de soutien des organes du petit bassin.

Une consultation ostéopathique type suite à une incontinence d’effort

Pour votre première consultation l’ostéopathe va procéder à un bilan de santé, aussi appelé anamnèse pour réunir l’ensemble des renseignements pertinents sur votre historique et ainsi obtenir un diagnostic ostéopathique.

L’ostéopathe évaluera ensuite les structures du corps en dysfonctions à l’aide d’un examen postural et d’un examen de mobilité adaptés.

L’équilibre, la marche, la posture ou la mobilité lombo- pelvienne seront des paramètres sur lesquels le thérapeute va s’attarder afin d’obtenir un schéma ostéopathique.

Le traitement ostéopathique ciblera généralement le bassin, la colonne lombaire, le plancher pelvien, l’utérus et la vessie. Différentes manipulations sur les structures tissulaires, musculaires et viscérales en tensions seront alors proposées et adaptées.

Comme le thérapeute cherche à traiter la patiente dans sa globalité, il pourra s’intéresser à d’autres sphères comme la sphère crânienne ou thoracique si elles présentent des dysfonctions. Ainsi, chaque structure pourra récupérer la mobilité et la motilité qui lui est propre.

Après la séance des conseils et exercices préventifs seront proposés.

Ce sont des exercices à effectuer à la maison basés sur une maitrise de la  respiration abdominale, couché ou assis, simple à réaliser permettant la tonification des muscles de la sangle abdominale et du plancher pelvien. La musculature ainsi tonifiée améliorera la continence à l’effort.

osteoporosis menopause ottawa

Osteoporosis and Menopause

As most of you know, Menopause causes several physiological changes within the female body. It is important to be aware of these potential changes so that you can prevent damaging effects and ultimately live a long, healthy life. Unfortunately, one unpleasant truth about menopause is that it is directly linked to osteoporosis, something that most people associate with ageing.

But what exactly is osteoporosis? It is the term given to the condition where the bones gradually become more porous (we get little holes in the tissue) and overall bone mass is lost. The end result is bones that have become fragile and weak, raising the risk of spontaneous fractures/falls. Osteoporosis is known as a silent killer because no pain is associated with this weakening of the bones.

As you approach menopause the levels of the hormone estrogen becomes lower  and your periods will occur less frequently. This usually occurs between the ages of 45 and 55. Due to the lack of estrogen, the bones cannot maintain their strength because they use this hormone as a building block.

It is estimated that the average woman loses up to 10 percent of her bone mass in the first five years after menopause.

Although bone loss and menopause are linked, there are several things you can do to actively reduce your risk of developing it in the future. There are medications on the market to help treat osteoporosis, however, your goal should be to prevent it from happening in the first place.

Ways to help Osteoporosis

Weight-bearing exercises: Lift things! Start strength training before you hit menopause so that you are strong. Weight bearing exercises and resistance training is proven to increase bone density due to the load placed on the bones during movements. For bone health, walking has just as many benefits as a higher intensity workout, so you do not have to go crazy in order to reap those benefits.

Diet: Your diet should contain enough vitamins and minerals to feed your bones the nutrients they need. A diet high in sodium (table salt and processed foods) will cause calcium to leach out of the bones. It is best to limit salt intake and to use sea salt / rock salt which contains a better balance of minerals.

You should also avoid carbonated drinks as they have a similar effect on bone loss. There is mixed research on Soy products, but some studies show it may also contribute to weaker bones.

Supplements: Take calcium every day (this can be found in your diet but supplementation is also recommended). Our bones also need Vitamin D to stay strong. Make sure you have adequate levels. See your nutritionist or health practitioner for recommendations on how much of these supplements you should be taking.

Don’t Smoke 

Limit alcohol and caffeine consumption

The best way to prevent osteoporosis is to be aware of it before it starts. Start with healthy lifestyle changes from a younger age. This will ensure strong bones prior to menopause and good lifestyle habits that are easy to maintain as you age.

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