Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Does Tiny Zaps of Electricity Block Nerves and Ease Back Pain?

Various treatments for back pain have been developed over the years; some are effective, but most give minimal relief if they give relief at all. One treatment modality being bandied about is electrotherapy – the use of electricity along nerve pathways to block pain. There are two methods of electrotherapy – TENS and electro-acupuncture.

What is TENS?

TENS is the acronym for transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation; the therapy sends electrical pulses along nerve pathways to stimulate the nerves and block pain. The unit is connected to the skin via electrodes, and the TENS unit sends impulses at a specified width, frequency, and intensity. TENS pulses can be high frequency and low intensity (no motor contractions) or low frequency and high intensity (causes motor contractions). 

Uses for TENS

TENS has been used effectively in physical therapy, to relieve muscle spasms. At low frequency and high intensity, the TENS unit contracts muscles; for patients with severe spasms, the therapy gently works the muscle until the spasm releases. 

TENS has also been used as a pain therapy. When the pain is chronic, and not involving the muscles, TENS is used in the high frequency – low intensity mode, to stimulate nerves. The stimulation blocks pain receptors, easing the pain felt in the treated area.

Is TENS Effective?

Whether or not TENS is effective depends on whom you ask; in clinical settings, patients report significant pain relief from TENS therapy, but there are no research studies to back up the empirical evidence. Research studies should be taken with a grain of salt, as studies can prove any point a researcher wishes to make. How the study was conducted, who paid for it, and who actually did the research all come into play, as some studies are done with the idea of discrediting therapies the mainstream medical community does not approve of instead of objectively evaluating the treatment on its own merit. Empirical evidence suggests TENS is effective at joint pain relief, and until a well-conducted study is made that disproves it, the empirical evidence is enough to support the therapy.

What is Electro-acupuncture?

Electro-acupuncture is a form of traditional acupuncture done with needle and an electrical current, as opposed to just using needles.

Traditional acupuncture is based on the concept of chi, or energy, flowing through the body. When the body is healthy, chi flows along meridians without interruption. When a state of disease occurs, the meridians involved in the disease become blocked, and the energy flow is reduced or stopped.

Acupuncture is used to release the blockage, allowing energy to flow freely. The therapy involves inserting needles into nerves along the blocked meridian, stimulating the nerves and freeing the blockage. Sometimes it is necessary to manipulate the needles to effect the release, and this is where electro-acupuncture comes into play. 

The acupuncturist inserts needles along the affected meridians just the same as an acupuncturist does for traditional acupuncture. The needles are then connected, via small clips, to a device producing an electrical current. This device, like a TENS unit, controls the frequency intensity, and width of the electrical impulse. The current provides continuous stimulation to the nerves in the meridian without the necessity of hand manipulation of the needles by the acupuncturist. Electro-acupuncture can provide continuous stimulation of the meridian for up to 30 minutes at a time. Most people cannot sustain a fine-motor activity for this length of time, so electro-acupuncture fills the void caused by fatigue.

Is Electro-acupuncture Effective on Back Pain?

Whether electro-acupuncture is effective on pain, back or otherwise, depends again on whom you ask. Patients find electro-acupuncture effective on pain, just as they do TENS, but again, there is no hard research to satisfy the Western skeptic. This is true for traditional acupuncture as well, although most mainstream practitioners have come to accept traditional acupuncture as effective.

When chronic back pain is muscular in nature, both TENS and electro-acupuncture are effective in treating it. If the pain is neurological, both treatments may be effective, but success is not guaranteed. When used in conjunction with hot and cold therapies, and topical analgesics, electrotherapy can be efficacious on chronic pain. When the alternative is mainstream analgesics, electrotherapy is certainly worth trying, as mainstream analgesics come with a host of nasty side effects, and are to be avoided if at all possible.
TENS and electro-acupuncture are safe, effective treatments when performed by knowledgeable practitioners; do your homework, and find certified therapists.

No therapy is effective on every patient, so there are no guarantees electrotherapy will work for you. Then again, there are no guarantees it won’t work, either, so give it a try. You’ve got nothing to lose but your pain.


Carolina Monroe Written by: Carolina
Way To Be Healthy Updated at: 5:40 AM

Friday, February 5, 2016

What Causes Knee Joint Pain – Best Options Reliving the joint pain

Causes Knee Joint Pain

There are a variety of potential sources behind what causes knee joint pain. The knee is supported by ligaments that provide support in an "X" shape around the kneecap. Sometimes, it's possible to sprain a ligament during sports without even realizing it, and then the pain appears a few days later. With knee injuries, it's important to ask a doctor what causes knee joint pain in your specific circumstance. If a knee injury is accompanied by loss of mobility and swelling, this typically means the condition is serious enough to go to a hospital for. It's also problematic if the knee injury does not recover and remains painful for extended periods of time.

Another determining factor in what causes knee joint pain is whether or not an arthritic condition is developing. Sometimes a prior injury may lead into an osteoarthritis condition of the knee joint. What causes knee joint pain in this case is related to a breakdown of joint cartilage which results in the bone-often the femur rubbing against another part of bone, creating long-lasting pain, stiffness, or swelling. This osteoarthritis condition may occur gradually, remain relatively stable, or worsen over months or years. Many of these arthritic conditions develop around middle-age.

Another possibility in what causes knee joint pain is rheumatoid arthritic conditions. Unlike osteoarthritis, the major factor in what causes knee joint pain in this circumstance is your immune system attacking its own synovial membrane around the affected area. Symptoms of joint pain in this situation may include swelling and redness on the knee, perhaps most noticeable upon waking up. Sometimes, small red nodules appear around the skin, as well as other symptoms such as fatigue. Natural or doctor-appointed anti-inflammation remedies are typically the joint pain supplements for rheumatoid arthritis. NSAIDs could be used in conjunction with a natural ant-inflammatory like ginseng or fish-oil.

In more severe cases, typically related to very bad osteoarthritis, knee surgery may be an option. Knee surgery may be necessary to repair damaged cartilage with certain plastic or metal grafts. Or, total knee replacement surgery may be necessary. In these situations, what causes knee joint pain are usually very severe cases of cartilage loss, or very bad injuries where the disc is shattered and requires replacement. This surgery can be risky, and requires lengthy recovery time and rehabilitation. Although, for some patients, it's the best solution for osteoarthritis that impairs the quality of life.

Carolina Monroe Written by: Carolina
Way To Be Healthy Updated at: 10:43 PM

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

11 Ways To Charge Up Your Dopamine Levels In The Brain

Dopamine is a chemical messenger in the body, also referred to as a neurotransmitter that helps relay pleasure to the body. It is dopamine that helps pleasure be relayed as a signal and thus the emotional response that is seen. If you desire to feel good continuously, it is recommend that you work towards charging up dopamine levels. In most people, dopamine levels are low and that is the reason as to why they are ever gloomy day in, day out. Below are several ways through which you can boost this hormone levels which will ultimately lead to increased pleasure and satisfaction in life.

First off, never get addicted to something. A lot of people tend to get addicted to something that delivers some sort of instant gratification. Be it sex, alcohol, porn, drugs, shopping or whatever else, never get addicted to it. The reason behind this is the addiction has a turnaround effect on dopamine levels in the long term. When addiction kicks in, the reward center in the brain is at a heightened level as one craves for quick gratification. This pushes dopamine production to above natural levels and thus hinders the production of the hormone naturally. Addiction leads to low levels of dopamine production, thus the feeling of gloominess most times.

There is an increase of dopamine in the body when one accomplishes small tasks as opposed to when one accomplishes a big goal. To this end, it is quite important that you checklist the small stuff when they are accomplished as it leads to an overall feeling of satisfaction and what one is doing really matters. If you are working on a big project, segment it into smaller tasks which have ends to them so that you can get this repeated sense of satisfaction and hence feel satisfied once each small task is done.

If you are engaged in handiwork, creating something has been shown to be a brain enhancing supplement which increases dopamine levels. If you work on something and deliver, your focus is increased and thus you get into a flow, where creating something is second to nature. Dopamine allows people to achieve flow, be it in the arts, crafts, photography, drawing, painting, auto repair or any other handy work. Working on the creative centers to come up with a model is a sure way to boost dopamine levels and have fun while at it.

Exercise is also another brain enhancing supplement which boosts dopamine levels. When the muscles of the body are exercised, stress is relieved, achieving higher dopamine levels. Besides dopamine, other neurotransmitters are released by the body and this leads to the production of serotonin and endorphins which ensure you feel awesome after a workout. If you are not an exercise person, you need not worry about strenuous exercise. A simple walk or going up the stairs should help do you good. This exercise should preferably go hand in hand with a modest lifestyle that cuts on the excesses of daily life if the highest levels of dopamine are to be achieved.

It is ideal if you can work towards having high dopamine levels, record your successes. This is a simple yet effective way of boosting dopamine levels. When you feel down, it is recommended that you check on your streak and see of the successes of the past. This is a simple yet effective way of feeling much better almost instantly.

It is also recommended that you try the brain enhancing supplement tyrosine. This is an essential amino acid which is contained in foods such as banana, avocado, and almond. Chicken, beef, eggs, coffee, watermelon and yoghurt. Eating this food helps boost production of dopamine. 

Ever been in a vehicle and some jam you like started paying over the radio and you naturally found yourself jamming to the beat? Well, this is an indication that dopamine has been released and thus causes you to feel good while listening to the music. Music helps stimulate the feel good centers in the brain and that is the reason as to why a lot of people will listen to music to boost their spirits.

Meditation is also a way to naturally produce brain enhancing supplements. Most people tend to overthink on issues and hence stress. Meditation allows the mind be freed of the stress and back to normal where one feels good, meaning dopamine has been released into the system. Brain enhancing supplements are also a sure way to boost brain function. Natural supplements are recommended to achieve this. Some of these supplements include Ginkgo Biloba, curcumin found in turmeric, L-theanine found in green tea among others.

Finally, detoxing the body can be used as a way to get the dopamine levels high. Detoxing also allows the body to have a heightened immune system from bacteria and toxins. To cleanse the body, fermented food such as yoghurt or even fermented porridge is recommended. Sleeping the recommended hours and cutting on fatty and sugary foods is a big plus.


Carolina Monroe Written by: Carolina
Way To Be Healthy Updated at: 3:04 AM

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Music Therapy For Arthritis Pain

Music therapy is considered the best pain reliever for arthritis pain and depression. It is very effective and efficient with those people with inflammatory arthritis pains because music soothes. Music therapists say that listening to music relaxes a person hence help in reducing pains and depression to the patients by improving the confidence, morale and physical functional levels of a person with arthritis.

Music eases arthritis pains and symptoms

It has been proven that classical music is the best medicine to soothe the irritating and itching joints and limbs which in the long run reduce the levels of stress and anxiety. This is what music therapist and medical researchers concur. Slow tempo music enhances the flow of blood especially to the painful areas of the body. In the school of nursing at Florida Atlantic University College found out that because the music distracts the patients especially those with arthritis, it decreases the levels of pain. In addition, the heartbeat muscles move together with the music beats and does breathe hence being the best reliever. The music helps reduce or slow the fast beat heart and maintains it at approximately between 69 and 70 beats per minute. Joanne Loewy says that classic music has a lot of power especially in promoting relaxation and breathing.

However, not all music genres soothe the heart depending on how fast or slow it is. Faster music composition can stimulate the heart rate and nervous systems. Listening to such kind of music can increase the rate of heartbeat hence causing more pain, stress and depression to the arthritis patients. Music therapist believed that classical music can sooth all common types of arthritis.
Pain Barriers

Though music is one of the pain relievers, there is little that has been done especially on how to contain chronic pains. This is one of the areas of importance because most researchers have concentrated on helping those with mild or moderate pain only. This is a barrier in helping those patients with arthritis with chronic and severe pains. In England, people with severe pains have risen to 14 million which is more than 1 third of the country’s total population.

To reduce the burden and stress that health or medical professionals, the government advises those with pains to manage their conditions as early as possible. This is self-management of pains before it reaches uncontrollable stages. It advocates for doing relaxing exercise, regular stretching, and taking medications as recommended by the doctors. Music being inexpensive is very attractive and can help people not to use many drugs that cause more pain and other related side effects. People with arthritis do not affect them only but also their families, relatives, and loved ones are affected in one way or another.

Breathing and heart rate

When listening to any form or type of music, it is recommended to pay attention to the heart and breathing rate. The slower the breathing and heart rate, it means the music is soothing which leads to stress and depression reduction. This is on the positive and encouraging side to the patient and medics. On the other flip side, if the heart rate is faster or racing when listening to a certain selection of music then it is helping the patient but worsening the situation. If you find the music that soothes your heart well then save the music and listen to it more often.

Music compilation

Every patient with arthritis should prepare or compile their own music so that when the pain becomes severe they can easily find one and listen in order to contain the pain. The classical music is the type that most medics and those with arthritis recommend but some people prefer other types. The music compilation should be relaxing and soothing the heart which is slow and creates ones happiness.

Jazz or new genres

Even though classical moving has been extensively accepted by many researchers, Loewy is of the opinion that trying or giving a chance to jazz or new age is not a bad idea. This genre of music can be effective and efficient if you choose the best tunes. In January 2015 at Cleveland Clinic’s Euclid Hospital, Shirley Livingston 73 year old woman was soothed and relieved of her pain when a music therapist came to the ward. The music therapist played a flute for about 30 minutes each day for three weeks and the pains she had reduced drastically.


For many years, music therapists have been upping their game on research on how to relieve pain in patients with arthritis.  Arthritis patients have confirmed that music is the best medicine to relieve pain. Other new genres of music such as jazz can also be tried if it can serve the same purpose as classical music.


Carolina Monroe Written by: Carolina
Way To Be Healthy Updated at: 3:08 AM

Monday, February 1, 2016

Peri-Menopause: Knowing The Signs And Symptoms

Normal hormonal fluctuations indicative of transition to menopause bring about a wide range of symptoms that differ from one woman to another, and this is the period defined as perimenopause, while others call it premenopause, largely affecting young women in their late early to mid-30s. And because menopause is naturally a product of aging, many young women are caught unawares, and often go testing for almost everything else. Of course, some of the symptoms of the symptoms of focus here will be similar to the menopause signs a woman will experience in later years.

Irregular Monthly Cycle: One of the things a young lady should be on the look-out for is changing pattern in her periods. This is usually one of the early signs that menopause is around the corner. Depending on how your pattern has been, the flow may become more regular or more distance. The other thing to watch for is the density and intensity of the periods. Consistent menstrual irregularity of up to a week is indicative of early stages of perimenopause, while any irregularities of up to 2 months or more would signal late perimenopause.

Disrupted sleep patterns: Sleep problems can be quite disturbing at perimenopause, because young women at this stage are still actively engaged at work or pursuing further studies, and the little time available for sleep should not be unnecessarily interrupted. But with hot flashes and night sweats being early symptoms of perimenopause, unpredictable sleep patterns is a normal occurrence.

Hot Flashes:  This is another symptom that may show in the very initial stages. In the human brain, there is a gland entrusted with the regulation of temperature in the body. This gland is called hypothalamus, and also regulates the monthly cycles. Because of the dwindling estrogens levels that come with menopause, it becomes easier for the heat to move upwards as the blood vessels tend to expand, allowing for increased heartbeat. The heat may be mild and very intense from time to time, accompanied with uncomfortable sweating, and may end in a matter of minutes or a few hours.

Reduced sexual interests: While this may not come with pronounced physical pains and discomfort at this stage, it could be very worrisome for young ladies at the height of sexual fun, whether married or not, because of lowered libido. Perimenopause comes with diminishing levels of estrogen, which results in reduced lubrication and bladder problems. Sexual intercourse may become painful as vaginal tissues lose their natural fabrication, and the risk of vaginal infections may increase. Even so, you can easily overcome this challenge by looking for best menopause products including lubricants, to improve on your comfort levels especially with regard to vaginal dryness. Other appropriate measures here would include engaging your partner in meaningful sexual discussions to bring him to par with what your feelings are, and together forge the way forward. Meanwhile, you would do a lot of good to keep your mind positive, for with a good attitude you will heighten your sexual attitude.

Declining levels of cholesterol: There is a direct relationship between reduced levels of estrogen during Perimenopause, and lipoprotein cholesterol. When the estrogen levels decline, the low-density cholesterol may increase, while the good density cholesterol may decrease. An increase or decrease of either of the lipoprotein cholesterols puts one at the risk of heart disease. It’s therefore important for young women to keep a close check on their cholesterol chart, to avert long-term effects.

Mood Swings: If you ever thought that mood swings are only limited to adolescence, then this is a very common occurrence during Perimenopause and later stages. Largely this could be as a result of disrupted sleep patterns by hot flashes, coupled with other multiple factors that may not necessarily have anything to do with hormonal changes. It is not unusual for some young women to experience irritability during Perimenopause, as well as exposure to risks of depression.

Loss of bones: Naturally, the human bones replace themselves over time; with reduced levels of estrogen the rate of losing bones increases, at a rate faster than the body can replace them. This way, you also fall in the risk of contracting osteoporosis, exposing your bones to feebleness.

Other signs and symptoms: It might not always be possible to exhaust all the signs and symptom of perimenopause because they differ from one person to another, but here are a few more: aching and sore joints, depression, and tenderness of breast, anxiety and fatigue. There may be cases of memory lapses that do not last for long, occasional headache and dizziness, gaining of weight and changes in body odour.

One of the sure ways of knowing that the Perimenopause is finally over, is going through a period of 12 consecutive months without experiencing your menstrual period.


Carolina Monroe Written by: Carolina
Way To Be Healthy Updated at: 5:06 AM

Friday, January 29, 2016

Is Hormone Therapy Treatment Safe for Menopause?

The question of whether hormone therapy treatment is safe or not for menopause didn’t seem to be a bother for many women, until researchers in the Women’s Health Initiative in 2002 associated this treatment with increased risks of diseases like heart attack, stroke and breast cancer, among others. Out of fear, the announcement saw millions of women do away with their hormones, drastically affecting its prescription and consumption. 2 years later, Women’s Health Institute would further establish that women making use of estrogen alone were not at high risk of developing heart attacks and breast cancer, save for blood clots and strokes.

To help in answering whether it’s still safe or not to use, we will briefly review what HRT is, and then the benefits and the risk factors.

Understanding HRT

When a woman gets to menopause (widely ranging from 30s to 50s), her body reduces the production of female hormones, known as estrogen and progesterone. With this development, her ovaries can no longer produce eggs, her monthly periods stop, and she can no longer become expectant. This change in the female life comes with a lot of short term and long term symptoms, including moodiness, irritability, sleep disturbance, hot flushes, sweating, vaginal pains and dryness, among others.

Administration of HRT

To relieve menopause symptoms, doctors prescribe HRT, which works by replacing either or both the depleted estrogen and progesterone. HRT is taken in various forms: in form of tablets, as implants (appropriate places as guided by the doctor), or by rubbing it into the skin as a gel or spray. Creams or vaginal rings can be administered for women dealing with vaginal dryness.

Types of Hormone Therapies

There are two major types of hormones therapies. Estrogen Therapy is where estrogen is taken alone, and is usually taken in low doses on a daily basis, for the purposes of relieving symptoms of menopause and for the prevention of osteoporosis, and is largely recommended for women who have undergone hysterectomy (removal of the uterus). The second one is generally referred to as a combination therapy, because ideally it is a combination of doses from estrogen and progesterone. Others may call it Estrogen Progesterone or Progestin Hormone Therapy.

The Do's and Don’ts of Hormone Therapy Treatment

Hormone therapy remains the most efficient and successful menopause treatments for hot flashes and vaginal dryness.  Vaginal estrogen should be the preferred treatment for women whose only issue is uncomfortable sexual intercourse because of vaginal dryness. Estrogen pills, cream, gel or spray remain the most reliable treatment for both night sweats and hot flashes, in addition to symptoms like itching and painful intercourse. You should therefore not suffer in silence with “internal global warming”, given the effectiveness of
HRT in fighting hot flashes.

It should be noted that unless advised otherwise by your doctor, HRT is a lot safer for women in their late 40s and early 50s. Younger women experiencing the early stages of menopause and undergoing hormone therapy have very low risks of contracting cancers, strokes and blood clots, compared to their counterparts in their 60s and 70s. Other benefits of taking HRT include reduced loss of teeth, decreased chances of suffering bone breakage and developing osteoporosis, and average improvement for pains in the joints. For peri-menopausal or menopausal women, use of hormones may be very safe for the control of irregular bleeding. Further, WHI agrees that hormones can significantly reduce the chances of women suffering from colon cancer and osteoporosis.

It’s imperative to point out that you cannot be safe using hormone replacement therapy in the prevention of chronic diseases, especially because there are increased risks of cancer and cardiovascular risks for women in postmenopausal stage. More particularly, for some older women the risks include gall bladder disease, blood clots, strokes and heart attack, breast cancer, and cancer of the uterine lining for women with a uterus. Even so, these risks are subject to many other factors like family history, the state of health for individual women, and the amount of estrogen or progesterone dosage, and whether the hormones are combined or not.

Hormones should only be introduced to older women (those who have not had periods for more than 10 years) in this category for very particular functioning, and under close supervision to avert more crises. It should however be noted that there are many women (young and old) who get breast cancer even when they are not on hormone therapy.

Every woman considering use of hormones should remember hormones are not a permanent medication, just like all other medications. Close consultations with a gynecologist or family doctor would help assess individual health situation and related risk factors for the development of a personalized formula.

A major disadvantage of the Women’s Health Initiative findings of 2002 is that majority of the women in the study were older women in their mid-60s. Those below the age of 60 were no more than 10%, who indeed had fewer risks and more benefits from hormone therapies.


Carolina Monroe Written by: Carolina
Way To Be Healthy Updated at: 5:17 AM
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