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TIPS ON HOW TO USE HAND REFLEXOLOGY TO RELIEVE PAINFUL HEADACHES…

Hand reflexology is a massaging technique which works by applying pressure to reflex points within the hands. These reflex points are believed to be connected to other parts of the body. When massaging these points, the whole body is treated during the reflexology session.

One of the best reasons to try using hand reflexology is the total relaxation you will feel.

Hand reflexology is very safe but there are a few cautions to be aware of before having a session. For example, reflexology is not recommended during pregnancy as it can trigger early contractions.

Get yourself comfortable before trying any of these techniques by sitting in a comfortable chair in a quiet room. Start to relax by using some of your favourite oil on your hands. 

Rub the oil or cream on your hands for several minutes until completely absorbed. This will help to relax your hands and increase flexibility in preparation for applying reflexology.

Close your eyes and focus on any area of your body where you feel an uncomfortable pain. Sometimes you just feel as if some part of your body feels misaligned.

Press firmly on the reflex point and gradually increase the pressure to make sure you’re “activating” the reflex but stop if you feel some pain.

Wait a few seconds and repeat. You can press either 30 seconds or you can press and release the point of a pulsed for 30 seconds.

You can then apply on the other hand then sit quietly for at least 10 minutes. If possible, lie down and rest well for half an hour.

Drink several glasses of water after applying reflexology. Water will help to drain the toxins released from your organs and muscles during the session.

Before you try any of the reflexology points below or if you’re unsure if it’s safe for you or you have any concerns, you should discuss this with a professional reflexologist or with your doctor prior to trying it.

For headaches try the following. With your thumb and index finger, hold the centre of the webbing in your hand between the thumb and index finger, on your left hand and apply pressure for at least a minute. Switch hands and repeat. Another way is to place the pads of your fingertips on the sides of your forehead, then move them in small circular motions clockwise or anticlockwise. Using a drop of lavender oil on your hands before massaging can enhance this treatment. Finish with slow strokes across your forehead, from the centre to your ears, keeping the pressure gentle.

For a tension headache hold your index finger to the point located between the eyebrows where the nose and brow join, in the spot sometimes referred to as the ‘third eye’. Apply pressure for at least a minute.

For a migraine hold your thumb and index finger or two middle fingers, whichever is easier against two points located on the back of the neck, on either side of the spine, at the base of the skull. Apply pressure for at least a minute.

You can buy books or charts with the hand reflexology points if you find this beneficial. Hand Reflexology and Acupressure: A Natural Way to Health Through Traditional Chinese Medicine by Chen Feisong  (Author), Gai Guozhong (Author) is on Amazon for £12.99 – Though practices like acupuncture have become popular in the West over the last few decades, they have been a part of Traditional Chinese Medicine for thousands of years. Hand reflexology and acupressure are two techniques that can achieve similar results to more complicated practices like acupuncture but can be done at home, on yourself, without any tools. This book acts as a beginner’s guide to these pressure-based practices. Through illustrations and easy-to-understand language, readers can learn a variety of useful pressure points, how to properly utilize them and daily care that can be done to address certain health concerns. Through recent studies, hand reflexology and acupressure have been shown to help with a variety of issues, including, Nausea; Stress, tension and anxiety; Insomnia; Headaches; Chronic pain; Digestive issues; Muscle and joint injury. The safe, reliable techniques outlined in this book are easy for anyone to master and, importantly, can be used anywhere.

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MUSCLE RELAXANTS GUIDE FOR BACK AND NECK PAIN…

I have written a few articles recently on different types of muscle relaxants which were having some bad publicity. However Spine Universe have a great guide on muscle relaxants for back and neck pain. The Muscle Relaxants Guide from Spine Universe is expertly written by Jason M. Highsmith, MD specializing in brain and spine surgery, and is a valuable “one-stop-shop” for all things related to muscle relaxants.

There are a ton of different types of muscle relaxants on the market treating different types of muscle pain. The trouble is that many have quite a few side effects but this can be sorted by either trying a different type (see the list below) or taking it at a different time of day. It is always worth going back to your GP if you feel the muscle relaxant you have been given is not suitable for you as you can see from the comprehensive list below there are a number to choose from. This list and guide also includes the usual sort of side effects from different drugs.

Muscle relaxants are medications that help reduce muscle spasms, which are involuntary muscle contractions caused by a spine-related problem, such as whiplash, fibromyalgia, or low back strain. Often, muscle spasms cause severe pain and may limit your mobility.

Your doctor may prescribe a muscle relaxant to ease muscle spasms, reduce pain, and help your muscles move better. When your muscles move better, it makes other spine pain treatments, such as physical therapy, stretching, and exercise, more effective.

Understanding Spasticity Versus Spasm

Muscle relaxants treat two conditions: spasticity and spasm. Spasticity is marked by long-term muscle contraction caused by a brain or spinal cord injury. Spasms, on the other hand, are localized and occur because of a musculoskeletal issue.

Prescription muscle relaxants fall into 2 groups: antispastics and antispasmodics.

  • Antispastics are prescribed to treat spasticity caused by neurological disorders, such as cerebral palsy or spinal cord injury.
  • Antispasmodics are used to treat occasional muscle spasms.

While some antispasmodics may treat spasticity in addition to spasms, antispastics should not be used to treat spasms.

Muscle Relaxants for Muscle Spasms

Muscle spasms are painful and may restrict mobility, which can limit your ability to perform even basic activities. Painful, tight muscles can also interfere with getting a good night’s sleep.

Prescription Medications

If your muscle pain persists, your doctor may prescribe a muscle relaxant in addition to your pain medication. Find the medicine you’ve been prescribed on one of the two lists below.

SpineUniverse

Antispasmodics: Centrally Acting Skeletal Muscle Relaxers

Below are common antispasmodics (the generic names are listed first, with a brand name example in parentheses). Remember, these medications generally treat acute muscle spasms. If you’ve been diagnosed with a neurological disorder that causes spasticity, look for your medication on the list of antispastics:

Carisoprodol (Soma)

Carisoprodol is a centrally acting muscle relaxant. It is indicated for adults and teens age 16 or older. Carisoprodol comes in tablet form in dosages of 250 to 350 mg. Typical instructions are to take it three times a day and at bedtime. Carisoprodol can be habit forming and should only be used for two to three weeks.  

Chlorzoxazone (Lorzone, Parafon Forte DSC, Remular-S)

Chlorzoxazone is a skeletal muscle relaxant useful for treating acute muscle strains, including in the back. It comes in tablet form, and a typical dose for adults is 500 mg three or four times a day. One of the side effects associated with chlorzoxazone is red or purple urine. This is due to the way your body metabolizes the drug and is not a cause for concern.                      

Cyclobenzaprine (Amrix)

Cyclobenzaprine is another skeletal muscle relaxant. It comes as a tablet, suspension, or extended release capsule. Cyclobenzaprine should not be used by people who have certain heart conditions such as heart failure, a recent heart attack, or forms of arrythmia.

Metaxalone (Skelaxin)

Metaxalone is a centrally acting muscle relaxer, usually given in tablet form, 800 mg three to four times a day. Although drowsiness, irritability, and stomach or bowel upset are the most common side effects, metaxalone carries a long list of less common potential side effects, according to Mayo Clinic

Methocarbamol (Robaxin)

Like the other medications in this section, methocarbamol is a centrally acting skeletal muscle relaxant. A total of 1500mg a day, split up into three 500mg tablets or two 750mg tablets, is a standard dose. It has a fairly long list of potential side effects, so it is important to only take this and other muscle relaxants as directed by your doctor.

Orphenadrine (Norflex)

Orphenadrine is both a muscle relaxant and an anticholinergic—a drug that blocks the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Because of its anticholinergic properties, orphenadrine is often used to control tremors caused by Parkinson’s disease. A typical dose is 200mg to 250mg total, taken two or three times a day. 

Antispastics

You are more likely to be prescribed an antispastic if your muscle spasticity is due to a neurological condition such as a spinal cord injury. These drugs are not typically used to treat the occasional muscle spasm.

Baclofen (Ozobax)

Baclofen, like the next drug on this list, is used for chronic neurogenic conditions that cause spasticity, such as multiple sclerosis or spinal cord injuries. Medication on the previous list—antispasmodics—are more appropriate for acute muscle spasms. 

Tizanidine (Zaniflex)

This skeletal muscle relaxant is often used to treat muscle spasms caused by multiple sclerosis, an autoimmune condition that attacks the fatty, insulating myelin sheaths that encase part of your nerve cells (and a close cousin of transverse myelitis). 

Off-label Medications for Spasticity

Sometimes doctors and researchers discover new uses for existing medications. These so-called off-label uses need time and testing to make it into the official FDA-approved list of uses. The following medications are not antispastics or antispasmodics, but can still help some people with spasticity and muscle spasms.

Benzodiazepines

Benzodiazepines (often abbreviated as “benzos”) such as oxazepam and diazepam (Valium) are sedatives that are usually used as anti-anxiety medications but can often treat back pain and muscle spasms. Researchers believe these drugs work by tamping down on nerve activity by modifying a neurotransmitter.

Common benzodiazepines include:

  Alprazolam (Xanax)

·         Clonazepam (Klonopin)

·         Lorazepam (Ativan)

Because they’re sedatives, the most common side effects are:

·         Drowsiness

·         Dizziness

·         Weakness

·         Balance trouble

Benzodiazepines are also addictive and carry the risk of overdose. Be sure to take them only and exactly as your doctor indicates.

Clonidine

Clonidine, sold under the brand names Catapres and Kapvay, usually treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and high blood pressure. Clonidine may react strongly with alcohol and can cause a host of side effects, including:

·         Dry mouth

·         Fatigue

·         Nausea

·         Headache

·         Rash

·         Hives

·         Difficulty swallowing or breathing

…and others.  

Gabapentin

Gabapentin (Gralise, Horizant, Neurontin) is an anticonvulsant medication effective at controlling epileptic seizures and restless legs syndrome. It is also frequently used to treat nerve pain and muscle spasticity. Gabapentin can cause many side effects—some severe—such as:

·         Drowsiness

·         Fatigue

·         Headache

·         Vision trouble

·         Cognitive issues

·         Vomiting

·         Bowel changes

·         Weight gain

Difficulty breathing

Over-the-counter Options for Muscle Spasms

Muscle relaxants may help reduce pain, and improve movement and range of motion, but your doctor will likely recommend that you first try acetaminophen or a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). In some cases, these over-the-counter medications will be enough to help alleviate your pain.

NSAIDs

NSAIDs are some of the most common OTC medications for pain in general. This class of drugs include:

  • Aspirin (Bayer, Excedrin)
  • Ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil)
  • Naproxen (Aleve)

Side effects are generally mild and can include upset stomach, diarrhea, and gas. NSAIDs may increase the risk of bleeding when combined with some medications such as blood thinners and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which are antidepressants.

Acetaminophen

Sold under the brand name Tylenol (among others), acetaminophen is another popular choice for over-the-counter pain relievers. It often has fewer side effects than NSAIDs but won’t relieve inflammation.

Special Considerations and Potential Muscle Relaxant Side Effects

Habit Formation

Muscle relaxants for acute back or neck pain are usually prescribed to relieve short-term muscle pain—and some can be habit-forming. For these reasons, most doctors will write prescriptions with less than 2 weeks’ worth of medication. To reduce your risk of dependency or abuse, use your medication exactly as your doctor prescribes.

Drowsiness and Dizziness

The most common side effects associated with muscle relaxants are drowsiness and dizziness. This is because muscle relaxants depress your central nervous system, making you less alert and attentive. As such, avoid alcohol and don’t perform tasks that require your complete attention, such as operating machinery or driving, while taking a muscle relaxant.

Drug Interactions

Muscle relaxants pose health risks when they are taken with certain medications and supplements, including but not limited to:

  • Opioids
  • Sleep aid medications
  • St. John’s wort

Make sure your doctor knows every medication and supplement you are taking before starting muscle relaxant therapy.

When to Call Your Doctor

Muscle spasms are one of the more likely back pain causes to spontaneously resolve—that is, go away on their own—in two weeks or so. Talk to your primary care provider or spine specialist if your pain lasts for longer than two weeks.

Other situations in which you may want your physician’s opinion include:

  • New incidence of spasticity, especially if you don’t know what’s causing it
  • Spasticity that has become more severe or more frequent
  • Severe and frequent muscle spasms
  • Having side effects from your muscle relaxant
  • Frozen joints due to muscle contractions limiting range of motion

Muscle Relaxants: Part of a Multidisciplinary Treatment Plan

If your muscle pain doesn’t respond to over-the-counter medications, then muscle relaxants may be a good treatment option to alleviate your muscle spasms. For best results, muscle relaxants should be viewed as part of a treatment plan that may include gentle stretching, physical therapy, and exercise—not the sole treatment. As always, don’t hesitate to discuss your medications and comprehensive spine health plan with your doctor. A solid understanding of your therapeutic options is a strong defense against back pain.

Source: Spine Universe

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DYSTONIA – PAIN IN YOUR HANDS OR WHEN WRITING?…

Do you experience pain in your hands or when writing? Dystonia is a condition whereby sometimes it becomes painful to write or play an instrument due to cramps in the hand or arm.

The Dystonia Society is the only national charity providing support, advocacy and information for anyone affected by the neurological movement condition known as dystonia.

If the doctor is not able to explain what is causing the cramps, one possible cause is a hand dystonia (otherwise known as Writer’s or Musician’s Cramp). The symptoms vary and may be one or more of the following:

  1. Twisting or curling up of the hands while writing or playing an instrument.
  2. Fingers move of their own accord to unusual positions while writing or playing an instrument.
  3. Writing or playing an instrument becomes painful.
  4. Symptoms usually disappear when the above activities stop.

Hand dystonia commonly appears in people between the ages of 30 and 50. It is one form of dystonia – a condition that causes uncontrollable and often painful muscle contractions believed to be as a result of incorrect messages from the brain to the muscles.

Dystonia is a neurological movement disorder and, if the symptoms listed above are severe or damaging to quality of life, the correct course of action is for a GP to make a referral to a neurologist specialising in movement disorders. There are treatments for hand dystonia that can significantly reduce the symptoms in many cases.  Only a specialist neurologist has the knowledge and skill to diagnose and treat dystonia.  If the patient and their GP agree that the symptoms might possibly indicate dystonia then the GP should refer the patient to such a specialist.

Dystonia can mimic PD in various and assorted ways and diagnosis can be difficult depending on how the disease manifests its symptoms, which are quite similar to not only PD, but other neurological disorders as well. 

Focal dystonias are the most common types of dystonia. Cervical dystonia affects the neck muscles, whereas blepharospasm is known to affect the muscles around the eyes. When the jaw and tongue muscles are affected, it is known as oromandibular dystonia. The voice can be affected, causing a ‘crackling’ sound and known as spasmodic dysphonia. 

There are three primary types of dystonia: basal ganglionic, mesolimbic, and dystonia from the cerebellum. All three types are from the brain or brainstem, but presentation can be clinically different with symptoms.

 

There are also other conditions that can cause similar symptoms, one of which is carpel or cubital tunnel syndrome. The carpal tunnel is a narrow space in the wrist that contains the median nerve. It is surrounded by the bones of the wrist (carpals) and a thick tendon sheath. Friction will cause the tendon sheath to swell and enlarge limiting the space within the carpal tunnel. As a result, the median nerve becomes compressed leading to numbness and tingling within the wrist and hand. Symptoms can be treated conservatively, with night splinting, medications, and cortisone injections. However, carpal tunnel syndrome does not resolve on its own and worsens over time.

Cubital tunnel syndrome is caused by compression of your ulnar nerve at the elbow.  The ulnar nerve travels from neck down your arm through a tunnel at your elbow called the “cubital tunnel.” The nerve is especially vulnerable to compression because the cubital tunnel is very narrow and has very little soft tissue to protect it. This compression causes numbness and/or tingling pain in your elbow, hand, wrist, or fingers. This is commonly caused by leaning on your elbow for long periods of time or swelling caused by friction of your ulnar nerve rubbing along structures of the cubital tunnel.

Carpal Tunnel

Carpal tunnel and cubital tunnel syndrome are treated at first with conservative treatments like rest, changes in patterns of use, immobilizing the affected area with devices like splints or braces, physical therapy, medication and injections. If the symptoms do not improve after some time, your doctor may suggest a surgical procedure to relieve compression.

As you know I had cubital tunnel release surgery last year and my nerve conduction tests showed I also have carpal tunnel both of which are giving me a lot of pain at the moment. However, on the NHS list of symptoms of Fibromyalgia they do include tingling, numbness, prickling or burning sensations in your hands and feet (pins and needles, also known as paraesthesia)

The best way forward if you are suffering from any of these types of pain is to go and see your GP for him/her to decide your next move to finding out what the problem is.

Living Well with Dystonia is a great book on the subject written by by Daniel Truong;Mayank Pathak;Karen Frei (Author)  A Patient Guide provides comprehensive information on a wide array of Dystonias. It is intended for individuals with various forms of Dystonia who want to adjust lifestyle activities to accommodate this chronic condition, but do not want the disorder to define them. It is a resource and tool for both individuals with the disorder and their families to become better educated about the options available to them.

Source : Ezine Dystonia UK NHS Back Pain Blog UK