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How To Festival at PB Library

Had a wonderful opportunity to present at the PB library this weekend.  If you can, you should really check out all the services they offer the community.

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Ice or Heat – What to Use for Injuries?

Using heat packs or ice for injuries is nothing new, however, it is likely that you still don’t know which one to use! “Should I use heat or ice” is one of the most common questions I get in the office, so lets try and straighten things out a bit.

So which is it?

The problem with hot / cold therapy is that there is no certainty that one or the other will work and yes, everyone responds differently.  I recall treating 2 similar neck injuries, both female, both the same activity, and both similar size and build, but one lady stated that ice helps, the other stating the opposite.  So, yes people do have a preference and each individual is sensitive to different forms of therapy however, there are some general guidelines that should be followed.

When Should You Use Ice? 

Typical uses for ice are within the first 72 hours following an injury! This timeframe is known as the acute phase of healing and ice should be used to help reduce swelling, pain and inflammation.  It is possible for the acute phase to last longer than 3 days and can be up to 5 days. Never apply heat to an acute injury as it will increase inflammation! 

How Long Should You Ice?

Ice and heat times should be adjusted based on the joint or area of the body affected.  For example, the butt (glut max) is a very large muscle and may need 15-20 minutes while a small finger or wrist may only need 10-12 minutes.  A good average is about 12-15 minutes and you should ice with a damp cloth and never skin on skin as this increases the chance of frost burn.

What Else? 

Icing is great but you need to add at least one more element, compression and elevation to make it more effective.  Inflammation is essentially the collection of fluid and blood following an injury. Compression helps to reduce the amount of fluid going into the joint and therefore slows the rate of inflammation.  Elevation (above the heart) does a similar thing in that it allows fluid to drain back to the heart where it re-absorbed. This prevents pooling of fluid to the joint and reduces pain.

Sub-Acute Phase

The sub-acute phase occurs about 5-21 days after an injury.  This is when you can start to introduce heat to the area, but you may not want to place heat here exclusively.  This is where you can use contrast bath therapy. This method is where you alternate hot and cold to help increase blood circulation and to reduce inflammation at the same time.

How To Contrast Bath?

1.     Start with ice therapy first to flush out some inflammation for 5 minutes

2.     Heat for about 3 minutes

3.     Cold for 1 minute

4.     Heat for 3 minutes

5.     Cold for 1 minute

6.     Heat for 3 minutes

If this is your first time doing this or the first time applying the contrast bath to your injury I would do only one cycle to at first.  It is possible for you to do this for about 20-30 minutes or about 2 cycles.

Using hot and cold therapy during the sub-acute phase can be helpful with regard to use (athletic events, walking, rehabilitation).  For example, if you sprained an ankle and you are attempting to rehabilitate it, you may want to start out with a few minutes of heat prior to activity to get the joint nice and loose. After you have stressed the area and doing the appropriate exercises, you would want to ice the area to reduce possible inflammation.

Heat Therapy/Thermotherapy

Heat is used typically in chronic injuries that have been present from 21 days and longer (can last for years).  If you are still having pain and problems after about 7-10 days you should seek medical attention as this problem will likely not go away without some intervention.  Heat allows muscles to relax, reduces spasms, tension and increases circulation to the joint.

How long do you heat for?

You should heat an area with warm moist heat for about 10-15 minutes depending on body size. Never skin on skin so that you avoid being burned.

Never Do This With Heat!

NEVER lay on the heat source!  This not only increases chances of injury and burns but also compresses the blood vessels.  Remember, heat therapy helps to dilate (expand) blood vessels to help increase circulation but laying on the heat source compresses tissues and blood vessels and is the exact opposite of what you are trying to do.

Conclusion

Everyone is different and everyone responds to different therapies but knowing what phase of care/ healing you are in can help you make the best decision with modalities such as ice or heat.

Was this useful? What other common questions do you have? Comment below!

Castor Oil For Aches and Pains?

Most are familiar with castor oil for cooking but what they don’t know may actually save them!  Aches and pains are something I come across on a daily basis so how can you treat your injury out of the office?

Answer… Castor Oil!

Castor Oil has anti-inflammatory properties that can help heal your injury.  The use of castor oil for Bursitis, tendonitis, and other inflamed joints happens to work extremely well and to be honest, its kind of shocking that more people do not know about this.

While castor oil is a known use for constipation, has antiviral, and antimicrobial properties and has been used for many other things,  it has been used to treat a acne, dermatitis and other skin disorders. There is now evidence that Castor Oil helps with lymphatic drainage and circulation, which may be the reason why it is so effective in helping painful joints

How to use castor oil for joint aches, pains, and inflammation?

1.     Place castor oil on the inflamed joint and massage it into the area for about 3 minutes.

2.     Take a piece of flannel and saturate the flannel with more castor oil.

3.     Wrap flannel around affected joint.

4.     Apply clear plastic wrap around the joint so that it compresses the joint.

5.     Apply heat to the area for about 15-20 minutes.  Larger joints 20 min, but smaller joints about 10 – 15 min.

6.     Clean off castor oil after use.

7.     Repeat this at least once a day for 3-5 days.

The heat drives the castor oil through the skin, through the subcutaneous fat and into the muscles which can help them heal.  Keep in mind that castor oil can stain and is kind of messy so do this outside, or in an area where its easy to clean.  I swear its worth your effort and will cost you less than $15 for many uses!

The bottom line is that castor oil can be a new way to ad to your holistic and alternative lifestyle.  It is extremely affordable and provides many benefits so that you can live a healthy life naturally.

Chiropractor – What to Expect and Things to Know Before You Visit

Are you injured? Sick? In need of a Chiropractor?  Well, if so we all go seeking help from a medical professional at some time or another, but what are you supposed to do before you go?  How can you make the trip to the doctor more effective and a little less tense so that you have more certainty that you are going to the right facility?

What to do?

Call your friends – see what doctors they recommend in the area.  What about family? Do they know anyone?  Keep in mind that if you need help that you want to do some of your own investigating. Just because they were recommended to you doesn’t mean they are a good fit, but having a name recommended is a good start.

Continue to Investigate on your own (probably the most important step) – Check into the staff, doctor, reviews, techniques, etc.  Call them; check the websites, yelp, etc.  If you hurt your knee or ankle but the doctor you found only does adjustments to the neck, you may be in the wrong place. Many Chiropractors do not even focus on other areas other than the spine.

Make sure the doctor or staff is competent that you can be helped with that specific issue prior to going there.  You don’t want to waste valuable time in an office where someone cannot help you!

Prepare for Exam – if this is your first visit or you haven’t been there in a while you likely are going to need an exam and/or consultation.  This is a focused history on your problem so that the doctor has an understanding of your injury and how best to treat you.

Medical Records – Try to have old or new MRI’s, X-rays and other information available before headed to the office. This can cut down your exam time or wait time in the office as the doctor may have to go over the information.  Having a somewhat up to date record of your health is a good idea for everyone.

Do You Need X-rays? Many Chiropractors do look at X-rays and take them but some do not.  So which one should you see?  Well, this is up to you but a Chiropractor can still appropriately and adequately treat an injury without seeing an X-ray.  Many doctors are well trained and if something just “isn’t right” then other signs and symptoms will likely occur.  So, if you are one of those people who need an X-ray for your own personal need then go there, but I would go to the one that can best treat your injury.

My opinion

You definitely want to find out as much as you can about the doctors skills and whether or not they can treat that area. You want to find a doctor who is proficient in adjustments as well as soft tissue work! All too often I hear that chiropractors do not do muscle work or rehabilitation. If a joint is composed of tendons, ligaments, and muscles (soft tissue) but the doctor just does adjustments; they are only addressing a fraction of the problem and likely missing a large component of the injury.  Remember a joint does not move itself, the surrounding soft tissue does.