Apr

29

Unfortunately, these words are heard by far too many people.  Although this may be true in that the problem really is in your head, (anatomically), one would anticipate that with the myriad of information on brain based disorders available today, that a far more specific diagnosis could be rendered, or, that a referral to a doctor appropriately trained would be offered.  Many of my patients who were told these exact words by their doctors prior to seeing me, are probably reading this article and chuckling, after receiving the needed treatment they so desired and being able to rerun to their normal lives.  You see, if you are being told that your problem is in your head, just learn to live with it, this is a copout for “I can’t find anything wrong with you”.   And not being able find anything wrong with you is not an excuse to put the problem back onto your shoulders by just telling you to learn to live with it. As an example, dizziness is in the top three reasons why one would go to see their doctor.  The primary treatment rendered more often than not is to offer vestibular suppressant medication such as Meclizine, despite the knowledge base, which suggests that this drug not only will not help, but also will actually hinder the natural course of recovery, and, will also cause imbalance associated with disequilibrium. It is often at this point that one is told to just learn to live with it.  Now, it is one thing to be told this, but it is an entirely different thing to actually abide by it.  In this age of providers who specialize in the most detailed areas of medicine and with highly niche practices, it is not difficult to find someone specializing and successfully treating any type of disorder imaginable. To not seek this provider out on your own and follow through with evaluation and treatment is most foolish.  It is most unfortunate when this information is not provided for you by your health care provider, but that does not mean that you should not pursue finding answers on your own.  The Internet is a literal wealth of information and can be used to find just about anything that you are looking for.  Many of my patients find me from our website, (below), performing searches for answers pertaining to vertigo, dizziness, ADD ADHD, brain injury, coma and other brain based disorders.  Most will in retrospect consider this the smartest time they have spent in pursuing treatment options.  Many area physicians refer their difficult cases to me, realizing that I have extensive training in areas that they do not, and that I can help many individuals that they cannot.  It is the ones that don’t know where or when to refer, or take the time to find out that really concern me, as they are the ones saying to just learn to live with it.  So if your doctor should tell you this, what they are really saying is that they have no idea what is wrong with you, what to do for you and that it is up to you if you want to pursue more genuine treatment options on your own, which is exactly what you should do.

Apr

22

If you have a headache, you’re not alone. Nine out of ten Americans suffer from headaches. Headaches comprise the top three reasons why one goes to the doctor. Some are occasional, some frequent, some are dull and throbbing, and some cause debilitating pain and nausea. What do you do when you suffer from a pounding headache? Do you grit your teeth and carry on? Lie down? Pop a pill and hope the pain goes away? There is a better alternative. As a chiropractic neurologist, I have been successfully helping patients rid themselves of headaches, oftentimes in as little as one treatment.  Research has demonstrated the value of manipulative therapy for a multitude of disorders including headaches. A report released in 2001 by researchers at the Duke University Evidence Based Practice Center in Durham, NC, found that spinal manipulation resulted in almost immediate improvement for those headaches that originate in the neck, and had significantly fewer side effects and longer-lasting relief of tension-type headache than a commonly prescribed medication. As a neurologist, we have many diagnostic capabilities at our disposal, as well as adjunctive therapies, which have proven to work very well for migraineurs as well as headache sufferers who have yet to be diagnosed. Headaches have many causes, or “triggers.” These may include foods, environmental stimuli (noises, lights, stress, etc.) and/or behaviors (insomnia, excessive exercise, blood sugar changes, etc.). About 5 percent of all headaches are warning signals caused by physical problems. The other ninety-five percent of headaches are primary headaches, such as tension, migraine, or cluster headaches. These types of headaches are not caused by disease. The headache itself is the primary concern. Today, Americans engage in more sedentary activities than they used to, and more hours are spent in one fixed position or posture. Many find themselves in fluorescent lighting and/or in front of a computer monitor all day.  Many are on the telephone much of the day, which is very stressful on the muscles of the head, neck and shoulder. These scenarios are fuel for headaches. So what can you do? If you spend a large amount of time in one fixed position, such as in front of a computer, take a break and stretch every 30 minutes to one hour. Exercise may help relieve the pain associated with primary headaches, however, this will often aggravate headaches of migraineurs. As migraine headaches are vascular headaches, they should always be evaluated prior to entertaining any course of self-treatment. Drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day to help avoid dehydration, which can lead to headaches. Naturally, I would recommend all headache sufferers to come see us for an evaluation, as most will be helped in a short amount of time without requiring drug therapies, which can often have deleterious side effects and consequences.  You will be referred for these types of therapies if felt to be warranted to be used as an alternative course of care, although this is certainly not the norm but rather the minority.  The vast majority of our headache patients share a common conclusion; they invariably wish that they had come in to see us sooner and avoided the years of unnecessary suffering.

Apr

14

Perhaps you know someone who’s been injured, disabled or even killed by a fall. Or maybe you’ve taken a spill yourself and are afraid the next one could be worse. As we age, time takes its toll on the bodily systems that keep us balanced and standing upright. For example, you may not see or hear as well, which can affect your balance and coordination. Inherent to the aging process, we see slowing of reaction time, making it more difficult to move away from oncoming pedestrians or adjust to icy patches on a sidewalk, etc. Normal declines in muscle strength and joint flexibility can hinder your ability to stand, walk and rise from chairs. In 2003, more than 1.8 million seniors were treated in hospital emergency rooms for fall-related injuries and of those treated, more than 421,000 were hospitalized. You needn’t let the fear of falling rule your life, however, as many falls and fall-related injuries are preventable. Researchers have identified a number of modifiable risk factors that increase the likelihood of a fall, including medication side effects, loss of limb sensation, poor eyesight, tripping hazards within the home, and lack of physical activity. At least one-third of all falls involve hazards within the home. Most commonly, people trip over objects on the floor. Work with a family member or health care provider to evaluate your home for potential hazards and minimize your risk of injury. Consider a general exercise program that includes activities such as walking, water workouts or tai chi, an exercise whose participants were almost twice less likely to experience a fall. Exercise reduces your risk of falls by improving your strength, balance, coordination and flexibility. Your risk of falling may increase if you take certain prescription medications to treat age-related medical conditions. Many medications have side effects that can affect your brain function and lead to dizziness or lightheadedness. The number one prescribed drug for dizziness, meclizine, comes to mind here. Taking multiple medications magnifies the risk, as does combining prescription drugs with alcohol, over-the-counter allergy or sleeping medications, painkillers, or cough suppressants. Ask your prescribing physician or pharmacist to review your medications and reduce your chances of falling by using the lowest effective dosage. Also, discuss the need for walking aids or supports while taking medications that can affect balance. Reduced vision increases risk of falls. Age-related vision diseases, including cataracts and glaucoma, can alter your depth perception, visual acuity and susceptibility to glare. These limitations hinder your ability to move safely. It is important to have regular check-ups with your ophthalmologist. Also, regularly clean your glasses to improve visibility. Osteoporosis makes bones less resistant to stress and more likely to fracture. Caused by hormonal changes, calcium and vitamin D deficiencies, and a decrease in physical activity, osteoporosis is a chief cause of fractures in older adults, especially women. To help limit the effects of osteoporosis, be sure to eat or drink sufficient calcium. Falls don’t have to be a part of getting older. Our office offers free fall risk screening. Don’t wait until you end up in the hospital to find out your fall could have been prevented. Take advantage of this offer, as the first part of preventing a fall in knowing if you are at risk.