How long have you been living with chronic headaches? How many different avenues have you taken in an attempt to eradicate them? Believe it or not, chiropractic has a number of answers for certain types of headaches, particularly those that can be traced to muscle tension created by cranial bone or neck misalignment. Headaches are caused by any number of factors, but if you have an exam or x-rays that indicate a mis-positioning of the cranial bones or neck region, it's very likely that a chiropractor can help you find some relief.

Many headaches can be related to auto injuries, sinus difficulties, or any neck-related symptom. While there are other causes of headaches, these are the types of headaches that chiropractic works best with. The nerves of the neck, when irritated, can lead to head pain that travels from the neck to the top of the skull and around the ears. Sometimes the pain can radiate into the face or eyes. These headaches can make it difficult to think clearly. Whatever type of pain you have, a thorough chiropractic evaluation will help to guide you in the right direction. If your chiropractor feels that your headaches are caused by something that lies outside of the realm of chiropractic, ask to be referred to another type of specialist.

What might a chiropractor do for your headaches?
  • Perform chiropractic adjustments or spinal manipulation to improve spinal function and alleviate the stress on your system.
  • Provide nutritional advice, by recommending change in diet and perhaps the addition of B-complex vitamins.
  • Offer advice on posture, ergonomics (work postures), exercises, and relaxation techniques. This advice should help you find ways to relieve the recurring joint irritation and tension in the muscles of the neck and upper back.

 Who would have thought that something so simple as putting one foot in front of the other could be so good for you - and make you feel so good? That's right, getting into the habit of taking walks is one of the best things you can do for your physical and mental well-being. 

Often dismissed in the past as being "too easy", walking has gained new respect as a means of improving physical fitness. Studies show that, when done briskly on a regular schedule, walking can improve the body's ability to consume oxygen during exertion, lower the resting heart rate, reduce blood pressure, and increase the efficiency of the heart and lungs. It also helps burn excess calories. Since obesity and high blood pressure are among the leading risk factors for heart attack and stroke, walking offers protection against these two major killers.

Walking burns approximately the same amount of calories per mile as does running, a fact particularly appealing to those who find it difficult to sustain the effects of long distance jogging. In weight-bearing activities like walking, heavier individuals will burn more calories than lighter individuals. For example, studies show that a 110-pound person burns about half as many calories as a 216 pound person walking at the same pace for the same distance.

Although increasing speed does not burn significantly more calories per mile, a vigorous walking pace will produce more dramatic conditioning results. Someone starting out in poor shape will benefit from a slower walking speed, while someone in better condition would need to walk faster and/or farther to improve. Recent studies show that there are also residual benefits to vigorous exercise. For a period of time after a dynamic workout, one's metabolism remains elevated above normal, which results in additional calories burned.

In some weight loss and conditioning studies, walking has actually proven to be more effective than running and other more highly-touted activities. That's because it has the lowest dropout rate of any form of exercise, and it's virtually injury-free.

In addition to its physical benefits, there is also a substantial psychological payoff to walking. Beginning walkers almost invariably report that they feel better and sleep better, and that their mental outlook has improved. Walking also can exert a favorable influence on personal habits. For example, smokers who begin walking often cut down or quit. There are two reasons for this. One, it is difficult to exercise vigorously if you smoke, and two, better physical condition encourages a desire to improve other aspects of one's life.

Whether you wake up to the aroma of freshly brewed coffee every morning or you simply enjoy the occasional cup of tea, you're probably somewhat aware of the fact that people have consumed foods and beverages containing caffeine for thousands of years. Because of its stimulating effects and consequential popularity, it is one of the most studied ingredients in the food supply. Even so, controversy and misconceptions surround caffeine regarding its effects and how much of it is safe to consume. 

If you're like most adults, caffeine is an integral part of your daily routine. But more than 500 to 600 milligrams (mg) of caffeine a day, or about four to seven cups of coffee, can cause restlessness, anxiety, headaches, insomnia, nervousness, irritability, nausea or gastrointestinal problems, fast or irregular heartbeat, muscle tremors, and other problems. 

For most people, moderate doses of caffeine - 200 to 300 mg, or about two to four cups of brewed coffee a day - aren't harmful. But some circumstances may warrant limiting or even ending your caffeine routine. If you're experiencing any of the symptoms above on a regular basis, you should rethink your caffeine intake, and that starts with knowing how much you're actually consuming. 

Here is a quick guide to the approximate amount of caffeine (in milligrams) in various beverages. Energy/sports drinks, foods, medications/herbal supplements, and a number of other things are not listed here, but you should keep an eye on your level of consumption when it comes to anything that contains caffeine.

Decaffeinated 8 oz., 2 mg
Espresso, 1 oz., 64 mg
Plain 8 oz., 95 mg
Starbucks Coffee Grande, 16 oz., 330 mg

Black tea 8 oz., 47 mg
Green tea 8 oz., 30-50 mg
Black tea, decaffeinated, 8 oz., 2 mg
Sobe Green Tea, 8 oz., 14 mg
Starbucks Tazo Chai Tea Latte, 12 oz., 75 mg

Soda (8 oz. servings)
Coca-Cola Classic, 35 mg
Diet Coke, 47 mg
Mountain Dew, Diet Mountain Dew, 54 mg
Pepsi, 38 mg

There is no question about it. Over-the-counter painkillers bring relief to millions of Americans every day for headaches, back pain, arthritis, and other common issues. But these drugs - while inexpensive and convenient - aren't foolproof, and certainly aren't guaranteed to keep you safe from harmful side effects due to their misuse or regular use over a long period of time. It's so easy just to pop in to a grocery store, drug store, or gas station and grab the quick fix for what ails you - but there's nothing convenient about having to spend several nights in the hospital to treat gastrointestinal problems due to OTC painkiller misuse.
"Too often, consumers just want the pain to go away, so they take more medicine than the label instructs, and they don't talk to their doctor about possible risks," says Linda Golodner, president of the National Consumers League. "But just because a medication is available without a prescription doesn't mean it's risk-free."

The reality is that, largely, consumers don't understand the potential risks involved with the misuse of OTC non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs. Use of OTC NSAIDs increases the risk of stomach bleeding by two to three times, and the most serious side effects can occur without warning symptoms. 

If you're suffering from chronic pain and you feel like your only salvation is an OTC painkiller, you should discuss these issues with your doctor or chiropractor. Together you can decide what treatments might be good alternatives and would benefit you in the long run. Chronic problems are better resolved when you can focus on the root cause of the symptoms. A quick pop of the pill only masks a deeper problem that could potentially be treated without jeopardizing your health even more.

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Can I Crack My Knuckles?
There is good news for knuckle-crackers. According to the few medical studies conducted on the habit, there is no proven connection between knuckle-cracking and arthritis. In other words, you may continue to crack your knuckles without penalty for years to come, as you are not causing any permanent damage to your joints. 

When you crack your knuckles, the popping sound you hear is a gas bubble escaping from between your knuckle joints. The knuckle's bones, ligaments and tendons are surrounded by a thick liquid called synovial fluid. Over time, this fluid becomes filled with tiny gas bubbles. When you crack your knuckles, the tendons and ligaments become stretched out and the knuckle bones separate slightly. When the fluid tries to fill this gap, the trapped gas bubbles combine to form one large bubble. This bubble pops in order to make room for the sudden rush of synovial fluid into a capsule between the knuckle joints. When you successfully crack your knuckles, the popping sound is soon followed by a satisfying stretch of the joint and increased mobility. After about half an hour, there should be enough gas built up to crack your knuckles again. This gaseous build-up is not harmful to the body if it is not released through knuckle cracking, however. 

Although medical studies haven't shown a link between knuckle-cracking and arthritis, there has been some evidence that excessive knuckle-cracking could eventually cause swelling around the joints or a loss of grip strength. When you crack your knuckles, or any other body joint for that matter, you are subjecting the tendons and bones to unnatural pressure. Over a long period of time, body tissues do not recover from such manipulations as they once did. This can lead to the same types of joint pain as athletes experience after pitching a baseball or throwing a football for many years.

Office Yoga Stretches
When you feel the need for some movement, but don't have time for a full hour of yoga, try some simple yoga stretches at your desk that will gear you up for the rest of the work day:

Neutral Posture:  Neutral posture is probably the most important position to understand and practice, for it is the position in which the spine is most stable and properly aligned. Whether standing or sitting, it means placing the feet hip-distance apart and facing forward.

If you're sitting in a chair, your heels should sit right underneath your knees, so that your knees and hips are bent at right angles.  Sit near the edge of your chair, and sit tall.  Lift your ribcage, and roll your shoulders back to open the chest.  Feel a slight arch to your low back, and keep your chin level.  Draw your belly button inward lightly, but not so much that your ribcage contracts downward.  Breathe smoothly; hold this position for a minimum of 1-2 minutes, all the while concentrating on relaxing your shoulders.

Neck Stretches:  With hands resting on your waist, gently lower your chin to relax the back of your neck.  Be sure the rest of your body is still sitting or standing tall in neutral posture; the only area that is bent is your neck.  After holding through 2-3 breaths, return upright to neutral posture, then lower your right ear down towards your right shoulder.  Hold through at least 2-3 breaths, and relax the left side of your neck thoroughly.  Return upright and repeat on the other side.  Finally, rotate your neck as far around towards the right as it feels comfortable, hold for 2-3 breaths, then return to center and repeat on the left side.
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