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Category: pain management

Everything you need to know about sleep to help you reduce and manage back pain so you can move with ease and confidence

When you experience pain that keeps you from falling asleep, getting comfortable in bed, staying asleep through the night because it wakes you up, or even feeling like you didn’t sleep when you wake up the next day, it can be frustrating.

Sleep is SO important to our overall health that having interrupted sleep or not enough sleep can affect all areas of your health, not just how tired you feel.

These are some of the things that I do to increase comfort levels:

Lavender:

A lovely and relaxing scent to smell in the evening before bed. You can use it in a diffuser. Be careful if you have pets as some oils may not be suitable.

Sleep schedule:

Plan out a bedtime schedule where you sleep and wake up around the same time each day. Try to be consistent and do this even on weekends.

Getting enough sleep:

Everyone needs a different amount of sleep each night, but in general you should aim for 8-9 hours. Some people need less and some need more. If you aren’t getting enough sleep, make a schedule of everything you do in a day and see what you can shift around or eliminate so you can prioritize your sleep. If you find yourself binge-watching a TV show before bed, maybe try cutting down a bit and sleep earlier 😉

Sleep positions:

Side and back sleeping are the best positions for back pain. Using a pillow under the knees or between the knees can put the back in a neutral position and reduce tension on the joints in your back. Stomach sleeping is generally not recommended because this tends to put the most pressure on the back joints.

Routine:

Having a bedtime routine cues the mind for bed. Doing similar things each night to get you feeling more relaxed can be a great way to fall asleep faster. Avoiding bright lights or blue lights, screens, work, and intense activities can be helpful on top of doing more relaxing things such as reading a book, having herbal tea, meditation, journaling, or any of the other things mentioned in this post.

Relaxing:

You want to aim to feel relaxed. When you are able to relax the mind, you can easily relax the body. They are connected. Sometimes we have a million thoughts in our minds at the end of the day and it can keep us up at night. Writing down your thoughts or doing a guided meditation can be so helpful for this. If you are feeling tension in your body, a yin yoga sequence or stretches, a warm bath/shower or a heating pad may be helpful.

Magnesium:

Many people are deficient in magnesium and it usually shows up as tense, tight, stiff muscles. Either using magnesium topically, in epsom salt baths, or as a supplement may be helpful. Speak to your healthcare practitioner to see which is best for you.

Products that can help:

Water Pillow – I love using a water pillow which you can purchase by clicking on this link here (this is the brand that I use). The water moves with you so you may feel less tension in the neck. This may also help you sleep better without tossing and turning as much, reducing tension in the back as well. It may also be beneficial for upper back pain.

Body Pillow – Great to use while lying down on your side. You can place the bottom part between the knees and then hug the top, keeping your entire spine in neutral position. This is also good for mid or upper back pain.

Lavender Essential Oil

Essential Oil Diffuser

Ancient Minerals Magnesium Oil or Magnesium Salts

Mattress – while I don’t have brand recommendations, you should choose a firm but comfortable mattress. Replace this every 8-10 years and try to rotate or flip it every few months as needed.

IF THESE TIPS HELPED YOU, LET ME KNOW BY SENDING ME A DM ON INSTAGRAM HERE!

*Read the Disclaimer here

Signs and symptoms of magnesium deficiency

So, how do you actually know if you have a magnesium deficiency?

These are some of the signs and symptoms that may be related to magnesium deficiency:

  • Muscle cramps
  • Twitching
  • Charlie horses (intense cramping of the calf muscles)
  • Tight and stiff muscles
  • Reduced range of motion
  • Low bone density (osteoporosis, osteopenia)
  • Chronic pain

Here’s what you need to know about magnesium deficiency and why it’s so important for your health:

  1. Up to 90% of North Americans may be deficient in this important mineral.
  2. Magnesium is depleted in our soils so it is hard to get from food sources.
  3. Magnesium is used in over 800+ functions in our bodies.
  4. Without magnesium, your muscles cannot relax.
  5. Stress and exercise will deplete magnesium faster.
  6. Alcohol, certain medications, and supplements may reduce magnesium or interfere with absorption
  7. Gut disorders, food sensitivities, or allergies may reduce magnesium absorption

Here are some foods that contain magnesium:

  • Nuts and seeds (almonds, pumpkin seeds, pine nuts, sunflower seeds, cashews, brazil nuts, etc.)
  • Raw cacao powder
  • Dark leafy greens such as spinach, kale, swiss chard
  • Legumes (ie. peas, soy, lentils, etc.)

Source: https://www.dietitians.ca/Downloads/Factsheets/Food-Sources-of-Magnesium.aspx

Here are some other ways that you can get magnesium on top of food since food sources alone may not be enough:

  • Epsom salts bath
  • Magnesium oils or lotions
  • High quality professional supplements from your licensed healthcare practitioner

If you are experiencing some of the signs and symptoms of magnesium deficiency, speak to your healthcare practitioner today to find out what is best for you.

Never make any changes to your health without speaking to your healthcare practitioner first. Never start a supplement without consulting your healthcare practitioner. There may be interactions with some supplements or medications. Please read the disclaimer.

Do I really need Fish Oils?

Everyone always recommends taking fish oils for the Omega 3 fatty acids for various reasons, such as: brain, heart, eye health, depression, arthritis, and other inflammation/pain conditions. Omega 3s are essential fatty acids (EPA and DHA) which cannot be produced in the body. This is why it is often advised to take a supplement, especially for those who do not consume fish.

The Omega 3s components that are needed by the body are DHA and EPA. DHA is important for brain and eye health while EPA is great for any inflammatory conditions, such as arthritis, or post-injury. High EPA formulations are great for pain management.

Omega 3s are also found in plant-based foods such as flax seeds and chia seeds in the ALA form. ALA cannot be used in the body and must be converted to EPA and DHA. This means you may not be getting enough EPA and DHA if you are only consuming ALA.

vegan ala dha epa flaxseeds omega 3 fish oils

Vegan & Plant Based Omega 3s

Vegans and vegetarians have a much harder time getting in the necessary amounts of DHA and EPA since these are not typically found in vegetarian or vegan food sources. However, many more companies are able to get DHA and EPA from algae. Not only is this a vegan/plant based source of DHA and EPA, but it can also reduce the strain on the environment due to the fishing industry. Fish oils can contain many chemicals, heavy metals, and toxins that can be found in our oceans, and subsequently in fish. There are some really good vegan/vegetarian sources of these essential fatty acids. My favourite one is the NutraVege (see image below) by Nutrasea Canada (Ascenta). Not only does it taste great, but there is no fishy taste at all because it doesn’t come from fish! There is also an added benefit of taking an algal oil vs a fish oil. The risk of contaminants such as toxins or heavy metals being present in algal oil is low.

vegan omega 3 fish oils epa dha

If you would like to buy this product, you can do so via my dispensary at Fullscript:

Purchase products through our Fullscript virtual dispensary.

Disclaimer: This post was not sponsored and is not an ad. All products were purchased with my own money. Any products listed are personal favourites. This is not to replace any medical advice. Please see Disclaimer post.

Feet are important too!

I see many patients who come in to see me for back pain. Some have had it for years and don’t really know why it happens or how it really started. A lot of the time, posture is to blame, as well as other contributing factors, such as your job or daily activities. Did you know that your feet play a huge role in posture?

The first things to touch the ground are your feet. Think for a minute about how much stress goes through your feet, up to the knees, to the hips, to the low back, mid back, upper back, all the way to the head and neck. The most stress occurs to the lower body, including the ankles, knees, and the low back.

It’s a good idea to invest in your feet from a young age. Wear good, supportive shoes, avoid flats and heels, replace them as they get worn, and come in regularly for adjustments! Orthotics may also be helpful. You’ll save yourself a lot of pain in the future!

If you have foot pain or you think your joint pain may be coming from your feet, book an appointment with me today so I can assess and see what treatment would be the right one for you.

*Disclaimer

How Orthotics can help

There are many different types of orthotics out there. Different materials, different brands, different shapes and sizes. They can be inserted into shoes you already wear and can be interchanged depending on the type.

Orthotic companies offer comfortable options that can be made to fit a variety of different shoes and different activities. When you come in for an assessment, I can recommend the best type for your needs.

orthotics feet

They are completely customized to your own feet. There is usually a foam cast taken to get the basic shape of the foot while semi-weight-bearing, as well as a gait scan, which can capture the pressures and gait timing that are difficult to do with just the eyes. The gait scan is done while fully weight-bearing as well as walking.

The majority of people who need orthotics usually are overpronators or oversupinators, both leading to other issues, such as back, knee, foot, or hip pain. The way they can help these issues is by stabilizing your feet so that you can allow the joints to move as they should. This also allows for better distribution of weight throughout your other joints (back, hips, knees, etc) and also helps absorb some shock with any activities, such as walking, running, or jumping.

orthotics

How do you know if orthotics are right for you? If you’ve had pain for many years and have tried various treatments, you may benefit from orthotics. If you know that you overpronate or oversupinate when walking, you potentially will need orthotics. It can easily be determined with a full postural assessment during an initial exam. Book one today with me to find out more information or get fitted for your orthotics.

*Disclaimer

I have knots in my muscles. Help!

Knots in muscles are very common. There are many reasons that these knots form. It could be several things such as overuse, underuse, repetitive trauma, previous injury, not enough exercise, magnesium deficiency, not getting enough exercise, etc.

These knots are called trigger points. They can form in any and every muscle. These trigger points can be present both with or without pain. Sometimes they can refer pain elsewhere. There are certain trigger points that can seem like you have pain going down the back of your thigh, even though it is in your back. Some can feel like headaches behind the eye or the top of the head. There are even some that feel like a sore throat or tooth pain.

When you come in to see a chiropractor, they can determine whether or not trigger points are the source of your headaches, neck pain, back pain, etc. or whether they are caused by something else. If your pain is being caused by trigger points, there are several soft tissue techniques that can be used to treat them.

I am certified in NimmoEd and also use ConnecTx soft tissue techniques to treat my patients. To learn more about the soft tissue treatments and services I provide, click here.

*Disclaimer

What do chiropractors do when they “crack” my back?

You’ve probably heard that sound when people “crack” their knuckles or their neck. The more accurate term for the “crack” is an adjustment. What exactly is that sound?

That sound is gas being released from the joint. It isn’t painful and no, your bones are not being broken!

There are many reasons why a chiropractor will “crack” you when you go to see them for a treatment. Every joint in your body can benefit from an adjustment, whether it is your back, wrist, foot, neck, or even the ears! Yes, there are joints in your ears as well.

Sometimes, your joints don’t function as they should, causing pain or decreased range of motion. This can cause muscles to tighten to protect the joints from further damage. When you have decreased range of motion, your joints are not bearing the loads as they should and nearby joints have to work harder to help take that weight. This is why it is important to have your joints looked at early on before more damage can be caused. Leaving it alone can lead to further injuries, some being severe enough that you may not be able to carry out the same daily functions or play the sports you want.

What your chiropractor will do when they find these joints that are essentially “stuck” and not moving well, is adjusting the joint. This means there is a quick (high-velocity, low amplitude) thrust being given to those joints to restore full motion. This is where you may hear the “crack” noise. The adjustment itself is not painful. This in turn will relax those muscles and decrease pain.

It is always good to go to a chiropractor annually for a checkup before things get worse. If something minor goes unchecked, it could lead to much more pain down the road.

Adjustments are not for everyone. It is not safe to perform an adjustment on yourself or have someone do it for you. It needs to be done by a trained chiropractor. Adjusting yourself can actually cause more damage as the joints that you can adjust on yourself are already moving too much, causing further instability to unstable joints.

Book an appointment with me today to see if you are a candidate for chiropractic adjustments and you can have these great benefits.

*Disclaimer

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