Back Clinic Headaches & Treatment Team. The most common cause of headaches can relate to neck complications. From spending excessive time looking down at a laptop, desktop, iPad, and even from constant texting, an incorrect posture for extended periods of time can begin to place pressure on the neck and upper back, leading to problems that could cause headaches. The majority of these types of headaches occur due to tightness between the shoulder blades, which in turn causes the muscles on the top of the shoulders to tighten and radiating pain into the head.
If the source of the headaches is related to a complication of the cervical spine or other regions of the spine and muscles, chiropractic care, such as chiropractic adjustments, manual manipulation, and physical therapy, can be a good treatment option. Also, a chiropractor may often follow up chiropractic treatment with a series of exercises to improve posture and offer advice for future lifestyle improvements to avoid further complications.
The brain and the spinal cord have a casual relationship in the nervous system as they help transport neuron signals to the rest of the body. These neuron signals travel through the various nerve pathways that provide motor-sensory functions to the arms, legs, neck, and back that help keep the body upright and function properly. When natural causes or traumatic issues affect the spinal cord, it can cause pain symptoms associated with nerve compression that overlaps with different chronic problems. When there is spinal nerve compression in the back, it may potentially involve low back or neck pain. Today’s article looks at a condition known as Chiari malformation, its associated symptoms with the spine, and how decompression and chiropractic care manage Chiari malformation. We refer patients to certified providers specializing in neurological treatments to help many individuals with Chiari malformation. We also guide our patients by referring to our associated medical providers based on their examination when it’s appropriate. We find that education is the solution to asking our providers insightful questions. Dr. Alex Jimenez DC provides this information as an educational service only. Disclaimer
What Is Chiari Malformation?
Have you been experiencing chronic headaches that are triggering neck stiffness? What about uncontrollable bladder issues? Are you feeling tingling sensations down your fingers and toes? Some of these symptoms are signs that you might risk developing Chiari malformation. Chiari malformation is uncommon when parts of the brain tissue extend into the spinal canal. This condition is a cluster of abnormalities that involves parts of the brain and cervical cord. The brain consists of 6 pieces that have different functions; they are:
Parietal lobe (Sense of touch, visual perception, differentiation, etc.)
Temporal lobe (Memory, understanding languages)
Occipital lobe (Vision)
Cerebellum (Balance, motor activity, coordination)
The brain stem (spinal cord, breathing, sleep and wake cycles, etc.)
These different brain sections have a casual relationship with their correlated organs and muscles to keep the body moving. When there are deformities affecting the brain from Chiari malformation, studies reveal that the cerebellum is leaking out of the skull and pressing against the surrounding spinal canal, triggering symptoms along the spine.
The Symptoms Associated With Chiari Malformation & The Spine
The symptoms associated with Chiari malformation do affect the spine in the body. The symptoms vary from each individual, ranging from none to severe. The most common sign that is associated with Chiari malformation is a headache. Studies reveal that symptomatic cluster-like headaches are related to various diseases, including Chiari malformation. When dealing with a headache that radiates pain along the neck and shoulders, this is known as somato-visceral pain, where the affected muscle affects the organ, causing pain associated with a chronic issue. Let’s look at another symptom related to the presence of Chiari malformation. Scoliosis is when there is a sideways curvature in the thoracic or lumbar regions of the spine. So how is scoliosis associated with Chiari malformation? When skeletal maturity and age are affected by scoliosis, studies show that neural axis abnormalities correlate with curve progression, causing the risk of Chiari malformation to develop. Other symptoms that are associated with Chiari malformation include:
Muscle weakness (coordination issues, loss of balance)
Have you been experiencing bladder issues out of nowhere? Do you feel tingling, burning sensations along your arms and legs? Has your neck and upper back been feeling stiff? These are some of the symptoms associated with Chiari malformation in the cervical region. The video above gives an overview of Chiari malformation, its diagnosis, and how it’s treated. Chiari malformation has multiple causes, but the most common cause is when the cerebellum develops downward and compresses the spinal canal. This causes painful issues on the neck and affects the visceral organs and muscles, causing painful symptoms that potentially involve other parts of the body. Fortunately, treatments are available to manage Chiari malformation and its associated symptoms.
Decompression & Chiropractic Care For Chiari Malformation
Chiari malformation is treatable through decompression and chiropractic care by managing the associated symptoms. Studies show that decompression may improve the symptoms associated with Chiari malformation and regain motor functions in the neck and range of motion in the arms. Decompression for the cervical region allows gentle traction on the neck to elongate the compressed spinal disc to release the pressure off the nerve root. For chiropractic care, spinal manipulation on the upper back may help alleviate headaches due to subluxation or spinal misalignment. Utilizing these two treatments allows many individuals to find the relief they are looking for and help manage the symptoms associated with their chronic issues.
Overall, the brain and spinal cord have a casual relationship in the nervous system as they help transport the neuron signals to each body part to be functional. Traumatic issues or injuries to the spine can cause pain in the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar regions while potentially being involved with chronic issues. Chiari malformation is a chronic condition where the cerebellum develops downwards and compresses the spinal canal. This causes associated symptoms in the cervical region that can drastically affect the upper half of the body. Treatments like decompression and chiropractic care help manage the associated symptoms that are caused by Chiari malformation through non-invasive ways. Incorporating these treatments allow the individual to be pain-free.
Goldschagg, Nicolina, et al. “Decompression in Chiari Malformation: Clinical, Ocular Motor, Cerebellar, and Vestibular Outcome.” Frontiers in Neurology, Frontiers Media S.A., 22 June 2017, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5479925/.
Hidalgo, Joaquin A, et al. “Arnold Chiari Malformation – Statpearls – NCBI Bookshelf.” In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL), StatPearls Publishing, 1 May 2022, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK431076/.
Kaplan, Yüksel, and Özden Kamişli. “Cluster-like Headache Associated with Symptomatic Chiari Type 1 Malformation.” Noro Psikiyatri Arsivi, Turkish Neuropsychiatric Society, Mar. 2014, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5370268/.
Everyone has headaches at some point throughout their lives, which can be excruciating, depending on the severity. Whether it is a heavy workload that causes a person to have severe tension on their foreheads, allergies that cause immense pressure in between the sinus cavity in the middle of the face, or common factors that seem to cause a pounding sensation in the head, headaches are no joke. Often, headaches seem to go away when it’s in their acute form but can become chronic when the pain doesn’t go away, causing issues to the eyes and muscles. Today’s article looks at how headaches affect the body and how they can become a somatovisceral problem for many individuals. We refer patients to certified, skilled providers specializing in neurological treatments that help those individuals that are suffering from headaches. We also guide our patients by referring to our associated medical providers based on their examination when it’s appropriate. We find that education is critical for asking insightful questions to our providers. Dr. Alex Jimenez DC provides this information as an educational service only. Disclaimer
Can my insurance cover it? Yes, it may. If you are uncertain, here is the link to all the insurance providers we cover. If you have any questions or concerns, please call Dr. Jimenez at 915-850-0900.
Do you feel a pounding sensation in your forehead? Do your eyes seem to become dilated and sensitive to light? Do both arms or hands seem to lock up and have a pins-and-needles sensation that feels uncomfortable? These signs and symptoms are various forms of headaches affecting the head. The head helps protect the brain from damage as the neuron signals from the central nervous system are connected to the cervical regions of the spine. When factors like lifestyle habits, dietary food intake, and stress affect the central nervous system, they begin to co-mingle to form various forms of headaches. Each form of headache continuously shifts in many suffering individuals to never sit still for their clinicians to capture their specific profile. Some of the multiple headaches include:
When headaches begin to affect the neck and head, research shows that these headaches cause a convergence between the cervical sections of the spine and the skull base. This becomes a mediator for the neck and head to develop referred pain. Referred pain is known as pain that occurs in one section of the body than where it is located. For example, say someone has been through a traumatic injury that causes them to have whiplash in their neck; that pain in their neck muscles can mimic a headache affecting one side of their head. Additional information has mentioned that migraine headaches can cause chronic inflammatory issues in the gut-brain axis, causing dysfunctional autonomic and enteric nervous systems and affecting the body.
How The Body Deals With Migraines-Video
Have you experienced throbbing in various sections of your face? Do you feel your muscles tense up around your neck or shoulders? Or does your body feel exhausted that noise seems to cause immense pain? The various forms of headaches can cause many problems not only in the neck but in the body as well. The video above shows what happens to the body when a person is suffering from a migraine. Research studies have noticed that individuals suffering from migraines will develop associated somatic comorbid symptoms like anxiety and depression, making migraine headaches more frequent. At the same time, being the top three of the most common forms of headaches, migraines may share a common underlying mechanism involving the overlapping profiles of the cerebrovascular system that is equivalent to a repetitive stress disorder affecting the central nervous system.
How Headaches Are A Somatovisceral Problem
Research studies have found that the severity of the headache in a person, especially in women, causes a synergetic relationship that causes somatic symptoms and depression to be so high. This is due to the overlapping risk profiles that affect the mechanisms of the sympathetic nervous system, causing the production of cervicogenic headaches and chronic migraines to form. This is because the junction of the brain stem and the spinal cord is called the trigeminocervical nucleus and overlaps the nociceptive cells. When this happens, The close anatomic pain fibers from the cervical spine and the trigeminal system start to be aggravated; it creates pain impulses from the neck to the head, causing headaches to be interpreted.
Overall, headaches are no joke when they start to affect the body and cause mimic pain in different parts of the body. When various factors begin to cause somatic issues that tense the muscles but also affect the surrounding nerves, it can cause headaches to form and become excruciating. Different forms of headaches can affect other regions of the face and can go away for a short period in their acute form. However, in its chronic condition, it can cause the body to be in so much pain. Finding ways to prevent headaches from progressing further can benefit the individual.
Cámara-Lemarroy, Carlos R, et al. “Gastrointestinal Disorders Associated with Migraine: A Comprehensive Review.” World Journal of Gastroenterology, Baishideng Publishing Group Inc, 28 Sept. 2016, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5037083/.
Maizels, Morris, and Raoul Burchette. “Somatic Symptoms in Headache Patients: The Influence of Headache Diagnosis, Frequency, and Comorbidity.” Headache, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2004, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15546261/.
Tietjen;Brandes JL;Digre KB;Baggaley S;Martin V;Recober A;Geweke LO;Hafeez F;Aurora SK;Herial NA;Utley C;Khuder SA;, G E. “High Prevalence of Somatic Symptoms and Depression in Women with Disabling Chronic Headache.” Neurology, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 9 Jan. 2007, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17210894/.
The most common form of pain is the headache. Whether dealing with a mild, dull ache, severe throbbing, or painful tension along the scalp and neck, headaches can disrupt and get in the way of everyday life. Over-the-counter pain medications can offer temporary relief, but they don’t get to the root and solve the cause. Chiropractic is a safe and effective treatment option that will bring head pain relief and treat what is causing the headache/s.
Individuals engage in more sedentary activities, and more hours spent in one fixed position combined with poor posture can increase joint irritation and muscle tension in the neck, upper back, and scalp. Headaches can have a variety of causes or triggers. These can include:
Stress is the most common trigger
Environmental stimuli – noises, lights, smells
Blood sugar changes
Most Common Types
There are two main categories: primary and secondary headaches.
Primary headaches are when the headache itself is the main problem and is not a symptom of underlying diseases or conditions. These include:
Headache pain comes from interacting signals in the brain, blood vessels, and nerves. A mechanism activates specific nerves that affect the muscles and blood vessels, sending pain signals back to the brain. If any of the following is occurring it is recommended to contact a doctor, headache specialist, or chiropractor.
Three or more headaches a week.
Headaches that get worse or don’t go away.
Having to take a pain reliever every day or almost every day.
Need more than 2-3 doses of over-the-counter medications a week to relieve symptoms.
Headaches triggered by strenuous activity, hard work/exertion, bending, coughing.
What time of day/night the headache usually occurs?
How long does the headache last?
Where the pain is located?
Type of pain – throbbing, comes and goes, dull aching, one-sided, etc.
Does the headache come on suddenly without warning or slowly progress?
Are there other symptoms like weakness, nausea, sensitivity to light or noise, decreased appetite, changes in attitude or behavior?
A chiropractor will assess, diagnose, conduct a physical examination to determine the cause and develop a personalized treatment plan to alleviate the pain and help to manage and prevent headaches. Treatment approaches include:
A combination of chiropractic manipulative therapy.
Activate trigger points to release tension and allow for optimal nerve and blood circulation.
Active and passive exercises.
Most of the body is made up of water with the percentage of body composition that is water changing based on individual functional needs. Essential functions of water include:
Help to build/repair almost every cell in the body.
Regulating body temperature through sweating and respiration.
Energy from carbohydrates and proteins is transported by water through the blood.
Assists in the removal of metabolic waste through urination.
Acts as a shock absorber to protect the brain and spinal cord.
Creates saliva/fluids to lubricate the joints.
The amount of water in the body depends on various factors that include:
The most common water comes from lean body mass. This includes blood, organs, and muscle. Major body organs’ water content:
Lungs – 83%
Muscles and kidneys – 79%
Brain and heart – 73%
Skin – 64%
Bones – 31%
Bryans, Roland et al. “Evidence-based guidelines for the chiropractic treatment of adults with headache.” Journal of manipulative and physiological therapeutics vol. 34,5 (2011): 274-89. doi:10.1016/j.jmpt.2011.04.008
Tyagi, Alok. “New daily persistent headache.” Annals of Indian Academy of Neurology vol. 15,Suppl 1 (2012): S62-5. doi:10.4103/0972-2327.100011
Headaches and Treatment: Headaches can range from mild, dull aches to severe throbbing pain. They can be episodic and chronic. Tension headaches are the most common that present with pain around the head, scalp, or neck. Migraines are often chronic, with the pain lasting for a few hours to a few days. The location of the headache and the type of pain being experienced can indicate the type of headache. Sources of headaches include, but are not limited to:
Certain kinds of foods
Changes in blood sugar
Too much exercise
Headache relief can come from over-the-counter medications, prescription medications, rest, and ice/heat packs on the forehead or neck. Research shows that individuals suffering from chronic headaches and migraines benefit more from long-term chiropractic than drug therapy alone. Doctors of chiropractic offer safe, effective, long-term relief. This is because most headaches have a spinal, muscular, or repeated pattern/s, which chiropractors have been trained to identify and treat.
Tension Headaches and Treatment
Tension Headaches are usually worse in the afternoon and evening and are often work, school, and stress-related. The pain is usually felt on both sides of the forehead and/or the top of the neck. These headaches can last for long periods and can be triggered by something as simple as an airplane trip. Tension headaches are caused by tension and trigger points within the muscles that constantly contract and don’t relax. Chiropractic adjustments and muscle release techniques have proven to be highly effective.
A migraine aura usually comes before the onset of a Migraine and consists of:
Visualizing a strange light
Confusing thoughts or experiences
Migraines are more common in women, but they do occur in men. Things that can trigger migraines include but are not limited to:
It is recommended to keep a headache journal to:
Account all foods eaten
Headache frequency, duration, areas of pain, and discomfort.
Research has shown successful results from chiropractic manipulation applied to individuals suffering from migraine headaches. In addition to chiropractic adjustments, nutrition and supplementation have also shown positive and long-term effects.
Headaches and Treatment Chiropractic
Stress can manifest in many ways that lead to headaches. Chiropractic adjustments can improve acute and chronic neck pain, reducing the number of headaches, whether migraines, tension headaches, or some other kind. Chiropractors adjust the spine’s alignment to improve function and alleviate stress on the nervous system using a targeted methodology. This allows the body to function correctly and reduces stress and tension. A chiropractor will also recommend posture, stretches, exercises, and relaxation techniques.
Understanding how lifestyle affects the severity and frequency can be a large part of successful headache prevention. Specific adjustments can include:
Do not overuse pain medications, as overuse can make headaches worse.
The respiratory system refers to the organs in the body involved in breathing, inhaling oxygen, and exhaling carbon dioxide. These include:
Nose nasal cavity
Throat – pharynx
Voicebox – larynx
Windpipe – trachea
The respiratory system is critical because it delivers oxygen to all the body’s organs, supporting life-sustaining functions. If oxygen supply is insufficient, the energy production necessary for organ function becomes compromised, leading to poor overall health. The respiratory system is divided into the upper and lower respiratory tracts:
The upper respiratory tract includes the nose, nasal cavity, mouth, throat, and voice box.
The lower respiratory tract consists of the windpipe, lungs, and all sections of the bronchial tree.
When breathing, the hairs/cilia in the nose and trachea prevent bacteria and foreign substances from entering the body.
Occasionally, pathogens will make it past the cilia and enter the body, causing illness.
This is when the immune system goes to work neutralizing any invading pathogens.
Bryans, Roland et al. “Evidence-based guidelines for the chiropractic treatment of adults with headache.” Journal of manipulative and physiological therapeutics vol. 34,5 (2011): 274-89. doi:10.1016/j.jmpt.2011.04.008
Chaibi, A et al. “Chiropractic spinal manipulative therapy for migraine: a three-armed, single-blinded, placebo, randomized controlled trial.” European journal of neurology vol. 24,1 (2017): 143-153. doi:10.1111/ene.13166
Côté, Pierre et al. “Non-pharmacological management of persistent headaches associated with neck pain: A clinical practice guideline from the Ontario Protocol for traffic injury management (OPTIMa) collaboration.” European journal of pain (London, England) vol. 23,6 (2019): 1051-1070. doi:10.1002/ejp.1374
Daghlas, Iyas et al. “Habitual sleep disturbances and migraine: a Mendelian randomization study.” Annals of clinical and translational neurology vol. 7,12 (2020): 2370-2380. doi:10.1002/acn3.51228
Iwasaki, Akiko et al. “Early local immune defenses in the respiratory tract.” Nature reviews. Immunology vol. 17,1 (2017): 7-20. doi:10.1038/nri.2016.117
Self-care for secondary type headaches. Different types of headaches range from mild to excruciating, and the frequency of occurrence also varies from person to person. Headaches are classified into three types that are primary, secondary, and nerve pain headaches. Primary are tension, migraine, and cluster headaches. Nerve pain headaches are also called cranial neuralgia headaches. This is when one or more cranial nerves that run down the neck from the brain become inflamed, causing pain and discomfort. Secondary headaches are a symptom of a bodily reaction or an injury. These types of headaches can be caused by:
These can be caused by a sinus infection. If pain presents in the upper teeth, a fever, and yellow or green nasal discharge, this could mean an infection. A doctor can help with some antibiotics. For individuals that regularly get sinus headaches from changes in air pressure or other causes, here are a few self-care techniques:
Steam can help drain the sinuses. Take a hot shower or hold your head over a pot of steaming water.
Nasal Irrigation and Neti Pots
This ancient remedy comes from India. The concept is simple; the teapot has a long spout that goes inside one nostril. The water/saline solution will go through the sinuses and come out the other nostril draining the nose and relieving the pressure.
Hot and Cold Compresses
Individuals can find relief by alternating between hot and cold compresses placed on the forehead. This reduces swelling and allows the sinuses to drain.
This powerful oil from Eucalyptus leaves helps clear up sinuses. It can be done by smelling a few drops placed on a cloth for 10 minutes or placing a drop or two in hot water and breathe in the steam.
Allergies are a common cause of headaches. Self-care can include:
Nitrates and Nitrites Avoidance
These are common food preservatives in processed types of meat like bacon, hot dogs, and sausages. It is a preservative, but many individuals can have an allergic reaction that causes headaches instead of hives.
Avoid Powerful Smells and Odors
This can be difficult with all the smells wafting around but try to pay attention to the surrounding smells as any could cause an allergic reaction. Strong odors can include:
Food allergies often result in digestive problems, hives, and swollen airways but can also cause headaches. Even individuals that are not allergic to the food itself could be sensitive to other items like artificial colors or preservatives. The most common food items that cause headaches include:
Consulting with a health coach and/or nutritionist can help to create a customized meal plan.
Exertion headaches can be produced by physical activity/exercise or strain. They usually begin with throbbing pain on both sides of the head and cause a red face or complexion. They can be caused by:
Prolonged physical activities, exercise.
Strenuous activity at work lifting objects or weights.
Self-care for stopping an exertion headache includes:
An exertion headache is the body’s way of saying that it has overextended its ability.
Drinking some cool water
Take a break for 20-30 minutes.
Avoid Headache Triggers
Try to stay aware when these headaches present and pay attention to see if there is a trigger.
This can be caused by dehydration
Not enough sleep.
Chiropractic and Physical Therapy
These types of headaches can also be caused by incorrect posture when working or exercising.
Lifting heavy weights or running with the head too far forward or back limits blood flow, causing muscle tension.
A chiropractor adjusts the spine and whole-body
Educate on core strengthening exercises and proper form.
Caffeine narrows the blood vessels that surround the brain. When an individual stops consumption, the blood vessels enlarge. This causes an increase in blood flow and pressures on the brain’s surrounding nerves. This can trigger a caffeine withdrawal headache. Self-care includes:
Peppermint or Lavender Oil
Massaging a drop of oil into the temples can open up the blood vessels and relieve the pressure.
Applying an ice pack to the back of the neck can stop a caffeine headache.
Taking a Nap
Lying down and taking a nap for 30-60 minutes can help bring relief.
Alternate decaf coffee with regular coffee.
Estrogen levels can affect various areas of a woman’s body, including headaches. Headaches experienced just before or in the first days of a menstrual cycle are known as menstrual migraines. Headaches that start when ovulating are called hormone headaches. Self-care can include:
Practicing yoga can help prevent headaches from occurring.
7-9 hours of sleep are recommended every night to allow the body to flush out old hormones and create new ones.
This can help prevent a hormone overload.
Stress leads to headaches.
Massage therapy is highly recommended to reduce stress and keep the body loose and relaxed.
Changing Birth Control Pills
Certain types of birth control pills can have more side effects than others, including headaches.
Ask a doctor about switching to another type to see if it helps.
Master Cleanse Diet
The Master Cleanse Diet is a prescriptive program that focuses on a specific food or drink regimen. This diet is intended to last around two weeks and relies on:
Bryans, Roland et al. “Evidence-based guidelines for the chiropractic treatment of adults with headache.” Journal of manipulative and physiological therapeutics vol. 34,5 (2011): 274-89. doi:10.1016/j.jmpt.2011.04.008
Chaibi, Aleksander, and Michael Bjørn Russell. “Manual therapies for primary chronic headaches: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials.” The journal of headache and pain vol. 15,1 67. 2 Oct. 2014, doi:10.1186/1129-2377-15-67
Green, Mark W. “Secondary headaches.” Continuum (Minneapolis, Minn.) vol. 18,4 (2012): 783-95. doi:10.1212/01.CON.0000418642.53146.17
Individuals that experience frequent headaches can have sensitive headache trigger points. Every case is different and requires a thorough examination before a proper and personalized chiropractic treatment plan can begin. Headaches can be brought on from a variety of causes. This could be:
Temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ)
Tightness in the neck muscles
Low blood sugar
High blood pressure
The majority of recurrent headaches fall into three types:
Tension headaches, also known as cervicogenic headaches
Tension headaches are the most common and affect around 77% of individuals experiencing chronic headaches. Most individuals describe a tension headache as a consistent dull ache on one side of the head and sometimes both sides. They are often described as having a tight band/belt around the head or behind the eyes. These headaches usually start slowly, gradually and can last for a few minutes or days. They tend to start in the middle of the day or before the end of the day.
These headaches can be the result of stress and/or poor posture. The most common cause is subluxations in the upper back and neck, usually combined with active headache trigger points. This stresses the spinal muscles in the upper back and neck. A tension headache or stress headache can last 30 minutes to a few days. Chronic tension headaches can last for months. The pain can be severe; however, these headaches are typically not associated with symptoms like throbbing, nausea, or vomiting.
If the top cervical vertebrae shift out of their position and lose their normal motion, a small muscle called the rectus capitis posterior minor/RCPM begins to spasm. This small muscle has a tendon that slips between the upper neck and the base of the skull. It attaches to a thin, sensitive tissue called the dura mater that covers the brain. The dura mater is very pain-sensitive. When the RCPM muscle goes into spasm, the tendon pulls the dura mater causing a headache. Individuals that work at a desk station for long hours tend to experience headaches from this cause. Another cause comes from referred pain caused by headache trigger points in the Sternocleidomastoid/SCM or levator muscle on the side of the neck. This cause tends to happen more to individuals that have suffered a whiplash injury with muscle damage in the neck region.
Migraines are intense and throbbing headaches that are associated with nausea and sensitivity to light or noise. They can last for a few hours to a few days. Many experience visual symptoms known as an aura just before they come on. This is described as seeing flashing lights or when things take on a dream-like appearance. However, even in individuals that don’t experience the aura, most can tell that a migraine is getting ready to present. Individuals usually have their first attack before age 30. They tend to run in families supporting a genetic component. Some have attacks several times a month, while others can have less than one a year. Most individuals find that migraines happen less and become less severe as they get older.
These headaches are caused by the constriction of blood vessels in the brain. During the constriction period, there is a decrease in blood circulation. This is followed by dilation/enlargening of the blood vessels. This is what leads to the visual symptoms. Then the blood vessels dilate, generating a rapid increase in blood pressure inside the head. This increased pressure is what leads to a pounding headache. Every time the heart beats, it sends another shock wave through the carotid arteries in the neck into the brain. There are different theories as to why the blood vessels constrict, but they are still unknown. What is known is that several factors can trigger a migraine. This includes:
Lack of sleep
Foods that are high in an amino acid known as tyramine
Cluster headaches are very short excruciating headaches. They are usually felt on one side of the head behind the eyes. These headaches affect about 1 million individuals and are more common in men. This type of headache tends to happen at night. They are called cluster headaches because they tend to happen one to four times a day over several days. After one cluster is over, it could be months or even years before they present again. Like migraines, cluster headaches cause the dilation of the blood vessels in the brain, increasing the pressure.
Headache trigger point therapy involves four muscles. These are the:
The Splenius muscles involve two individual muscles, the Splenius Capitis and the Splenius Cervicis. These muscles run along the upper back to the skull base or the upper cervical/neck vertebrae. Trigger points in the Splenius muscles are a common contributor to pain that travels through the head to the back of the eye and top of the head.
The Suboccipitals are a group of four small muscles that maintain proper movement and positioning between the first cervical vertebra and the skull base. Trigger points in these muscles can cause pain that feels like it’s happening inside the head, from the back to the eye and forehead. Individuals report that the whole side of the head hurts. This is a pain pattern similar to a migraine.
The Sternocleidomastoid muscle runs along the base of the skull, behind the ear, down the side of the neck. It attaches to the top of the sternum/breastbone. Although most are not aware of this muscle’s trigger points, the effects are evident. This includes:
Referred pain tends to be eye pain, headaches over the eye, and can even cause earaches. An unusual characteristic of SCM headache trigger points is that they can cause dizziness, nausea, and balance problems.
The trapezius muscle is the large, flat muscle in the upper and middle back. Pain can be felt in the temple and back of the head. A common trigger point is located at the top of the muscle. This particular point can activate secondary trigger pointsin the temple or jaw muscles, leading to jaw or tooth pain.
Stress can be a trigger.
Depression, anxiety, frustration, and even pleasant excitement can be associated with headache development.
A headache diary can help determine whether factors like food, weather, and/or mood correlate with headache patterns.
Repeated exposure to nitrite compounds can result in a dull headache accompanied by a flushed face. Nitrite dilates blood vessels and is found in products like heart medications, and is also used as a chemical to preserve meat. Processed meats containing sodium nitrite can contribute to headaches.
Foods prepared with monosodium glutamate or MSG can result in headaches. Soy sauce, meat tenderizers, and various packaged foods contain this chemical as a flavor enhancer.
Exposure to poisons, even household varieties like insecticides, carbon tetrachloride, and lead, can contribute.
Contact with lead batteries or lead-glazed pottery.
Foods that are high in the amino acid tyramine should be avoided. This could be ripened cheeses like cheddar, brie, chocolate, and pickled or fermented food.
Chiropractic adjustments are highly effective for treating tension headaches, especially those that originate in the neck. Research has found that spinal manipulation resulted in almost immediate improvement and had fewer side effects and longer-lasting relief than taking common medications. There is a significant improvement by manipulating the upper two cervical vertebrae, combined with adjustments to the area between the cervical and thoracic spine.
Body Composition Testing
Vibration exercise is believed to stimulate the muscle fibers without going to a gym or stressing the bones. One study broke up postmenopausal women into three groups: resistance training, vibration training combined with resistance training, or no exercise/training. Their body composition was measured before starting the study. After the study was completed, the findings included:
Both the resistance group and the resistance group with vibration training increased lean tissue mass.
The control group did not show an increase in lean tissue and, in fact, gained body fat.
The combination group, using vibration training with resistance training, showed a drop in body fat.
Another study placed male athletes in a training program that included vibration training. The first group had lower-limb strength training combined with vibration training, and the other had lower-limb strength training without vibration training. The researchers found that the athletes in the vibration training group improved leg extension strength by five percent. In addition, the vibration training groups balancing ability and vertical lift/jumping test improved as well.
Bryans, Roland et al. “Evidence-based guidelines for the chiropractic treatment of adults with headache.” Journal of manipulative and physiological therapeutics vol. 34,5 (2011): 274-89. doi:10.1016/j.jmpt.2011.04.008
Chaibi, Aleksander et al. “Chiropractic spinal manipulative therapy for cervicogenic headache: a single-blinded, placebo, randomized controlled trial.” BMC research notes vol. 10,1 310. 24 Jul. 2017, doi:10.1186/s13104-017-2651-4
Bryans R, Descarreaux M, Duranleau M, et al. Evidence-based guidelines for the chiropractic treatment of adults with neck pain. J Manipulative Physiol Ther 2014; 37: 42-63.
Bryans R, Descarreaux M, Duranleau M, et al. Evidence-based guidelines for the chiropractic treatment of adults with headache. J Manipulative Physiol Ther 2011; 34: 274-89.
The Atlas vertebra is named for the mythological figure who held the world on their back/neck. The vertebrae are located at the top of the spine, where the cranium and spine connect. More than just a foundation for support, the vertebrae could be the most important vertebrae of the body. It consists of a complex bundle of nerves, vertebral arteries, and is the point where the entire weight of the cranium makes contact.
The myth requires Atlas to be careful while holding the world carefully and confidently at all times, otherwise it will come crashing down. The key is being able to balance it perfectly. The vertebra has the same job to hold the head up properly and maintain posture. If not problems with balance and alignment will begin to develop, and affect the entire spine.
The Atlas Vertebra
The Atlas vertebrae’s role in maintaining balance is based on its ability to adjust to the weight of the head. The actual vertebra is wider than the other cervical vertebrae. This creates a center of gravity that is reinforced through proper posture. It distributes the weight of the head (10-12lb) evenly to centralize the weight and is supported by the natural curvature of the spine.
If the center of gravity shifts, the Atlas vertebra will tilt in that direction as well. This creates instability in the cervical spine and can increase the amount of weight the spine is taking and trying to redistribute. This creates spinal issues and leads to everything from poor posture, overcompensation that leads to injury.
Disruption to the vertebra and its ability to balance can come from a variety of causes and can occur as a result of chronic and acute conditions. Some include:
Auto accidents, sports, work injuries can cause cervical soft tissue damage
Dislocation of cervical vertebrae below the Atlas results in instability
Poor posture/s make individuals overcompensate to one side of the body straining muscles, ligaments, tendons causing pain and other issues
Herniated, bulging, and slipped discs
Spinal issues range from simple neck pain and soreness to full-on chronic pain. Because the Atlas can alter the balance of the entire spine, combined with cranium support, issues can be localized and referred creating further complications. Addressing the root problems requires a comprehensive chiropractic approach. Chiropractic will assess the position of the spine and determine the degree to which Atlas has shifted out of place. An adjustment treatment plan makes it possible to undo the widespread damage.
Individuals do not realize that muscle loss occurs throughout their lifetime. This is because muscles, like other tissues in the body, must go through cell turnover and protein synthesis. This means that the body is constantly breaking down protein in the muscles and rebuilding them.
Skeletal muscle can be developed with proper nutrition and includes consuming a proper amount of protein to provide the necessary amino acids and from physical activity. The reverse is also true, if an individual becomes less physically active and/or their diet no longer supports the development of increased muscle tissue, the body enters a catabolic/tissue-reducing state known as muscle atrophy.
Dr. Alex Jimenez�s Blog Post Disclaimer
The scope of our information is limited to chiropractic, musculoskeletal, physical medicines, wellness, and sensitive health issues and/or functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions. We use functional health & wellness protocols to treat and support care for injuries or disorders of the musculoskeletal system. Our posts, topics, subjects, and insights cover clinical matters, issues, and topics that relate and support directly or indirectly our clinical scope of practice.*
Our office has made a reasonable attempt to provide supportive citations and has identified the relevant research study or studies supporting our posts. We also make copies of supporting research studies available to the board and or the public upon request. We understand that we cover matters that require an additional explanation as to how it may assist in a particular care plan or treatment protocol; therefore, to further discuss the subject matter above, please feel free to ask Dr. Alex Jimenez or contact us at 915-850-0900. The provider(s) Licensed in Texas& New Mexico*
Woodfield, H Charles 3rd et al. �Craniocervical chiropractic procedures – a pr�cis of upper cervical chiropractic.��The Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association�vol. 59,2 (2015): 173-92.
Headaches can be detrimental to a high quality of life.� Especially, migraine and tension headaches.�Some deal with them on a weekly, or even daily, basis.�They can range from minor to life-changing afflictions. There are various causes, symptoms, and treatment options. The first step in treating headaches is understanding the type of headache it is.
Some people think they have a migraine, when in fact, they are suffering from a tension headache. Tension headaches are more common. But the Migraine Research Foundation found that 1 in 4 U.S. households include someone that suffers from migraines. Determining what type of headache can take some research.
Here are some things to think about to determine if the headache is a migraine or a tension headache.
According to the Mayo Clinic, migraines often begin in adolescence or early adulthood. Tension headaches can start at any time in an individual’s life.� An adult just beginning to have recurring headaches means that they are most likely tension headaches.
Where is the pain located
Migraines usually happen on one side of the head. Tension headaches can affect both sides of the head and can produce intense pressure on the forehead. The location of the pain can be a key indicator of the type of headache.
Describe the pain
If it is a dull pain, with pressure, and tenderness around the scalp, this could mean a tension headache. If the pain is throbbing or pulsing pain, it could be a migraine. Both headaches can present intense pain, just different types of pain.
Migraines often come with symptoms beyond head pain.
Seeing bright flashing/sparkling lights
A sensation of Pins and needles in one or both arms
Individuals not experiencing any of these symptoms are more than likely dealing with a tension headache.
Those with tension headaches can still perform jobs, drive, read, and operate through daily life even though it can be painful and frustrating. Migraines are very different. Lying down in a dark, quiet room with an eye mask on until the headache passes is how many handle their migraines. If the headache disrupts your life it is more than likely a migraine.
Over the counter pain killers
Tension headaches can usually be relieved with over-the-counter pain meds. However,�this type of treatment does not work for migraines. When a migraine shifts into full force, the individual has to go through it. Headaches that respond well to nonprescription pain killers means it’s a tension headache. The majority will at some point deal with a headache.
Although tension headaches are more common that doesn’t rule out the possibility of the headache being a migraine. Just a little insight as to the type of headache that is presenting, and some proactive treatments. No matter the type of headache, if the pain is severe, or starts up after a head injury, seek medical treatment.
There are different kinds of head and upper cervical disorders that are also known as:
Upper neck disorders
Craniovertebral junction – CVJ – abnormality
Some are present at birth while others are developed later in life. Whether congenital or acquired, they share many of the same symptoms.
Where your skull and spine meet is where upper cervical disorders take place. Neck pain along with headaches along the back of the head are the most common symptoms. People with craniocervical disorders often experience neck pain and headache in combination and symptoms worsen with head and neck movement. Even just a sneeze or cough can cause pain. Neck pain can also spread to the arms if spinal nerves are compressed.
Spinal Cord Compression
The more complex upper cervical disorders involve spinal cord compression. When the spinal cord gets compressed, nerve problems can happen that make daily function a challenge.
With spinal cord compression, neurological symptoms can present like:
Weakness in the arms, legs or both
Loss of sensation and awareness of the limbs called positional sense
There can be an electrical/shooting pain or tingling running down the spine and into the legs when pitching the neck forward called Lhermitte sign
Hot and cold sensational loss in hands, feet or both
All of these can cause malformation and physical changes in the neck. The neck may appear short, webbed, or twisted. There can also be a limited ability to move the neck.
Symptoms can also be caused by brain and cranial nerve pressure
Conditions like platybasia, basilar invagination, and craniocervical tumors can place pressure on the brain stem and the cranial nerves around it. If this happens the following symptoms can occur:
Eye issues like abnormal eye movements and double vision
Throat and speech problems like hoarseness, slurred speech, and swallowing problems
Loss of coordination
Sleep problems like sleep apnea
Vertigo Faint Feeling
Some individuals could experience a set of symptoms that don’t occur too often called vertebrobasilar ischemia.
This happens when the head position changes placing pressure on the cranial arteries and cutting off the blood supply.
The result is:
Vertigo or a dizzy spinning sensation
Syringomyelia is a fluid-filled cyst known as a syrinx that forms inside the spinal cord. If the cyst grows, it can damage the spinal cord causing painful neurological symptoms throughout the body that include weakness, and numbness. In extreme cases loss of ability to feel heat or cold in the neck, hands, and possibly throughout the spine. The hand muscles can become paralyzed.
Quality of Life with Upper Cervical Disorder
While some individuals have no symptoms associated with a craniocervical disorder, others experience intense pain and neurological dysfunction. There are treatment options that can help you successfully manage and eliminate symptoms.
When headaches present it usually means there is a misalignment in the cervical spine. This is often combined with tight muscles in the neck, shoulders, and surrounding area. Pressure on the nerves can cause sharp shooting pain along with a continual dull throbbing sensation.
A chiropractor will assess the area and then move forward with an adjustment to relieve the pressure and pain. Chiropractic medicine does not just focus on relieving symptoms but finding the root cause and correcting the problem. In addition, the chiropractor will take the time to educate you on the importance of diet, exercise, stretching, and making healthy lifestyle choices.
Whiplash Massage Therapy
The effectiveness of chiropractic care for headaches has been proven by many research studies. Chiropractic is not only excellent for treating headaches, but is gentle, non-invasive, does not require medications, and is known for being free of side effects.
Metabolic Syndrome affects many people. In fact, more than a quarter of the United States has it! Metabolic Syndrome is not a disease, but instead a cluster of disorders. These disorders on their own are not necessarily alarming but when you have more than one, the body starts to feel the repercussions.
Those with metabolic syndrome often suffer from frequent headaches, inflammation, nausea, fatigue, joint pain, and many more. On top of these symptoms, metabolic syndrome can put individuals at a higher risk for Type 2 Diabetes, Heart Disease, Stroke, Obesity, Sleep Apnea, and Kidney Disease.
Individuals who have an “apple or pear” body shape, are at an increased risk for developing metabolic syndrome. There are no “obvious” signs of metabolic syndrome, but rather one with metabolic syndrome has 3/5 of these risk factors.
A fasting blood glucose level of 100 mg/DL
High Blood Pressure, measuring 130/85
Low HDL (Good Cholesterol)� measuring <40mg/DL Men & <50mg/DL Women
Excess Waist Fat (>40in Men & >35in Women)
What Can You Do About It?
Of course, no one wants to be left feeling sick and stranded. There are ways to help prevent metabolic syndrome at home. Below there are five tips for each risk factor and how to prevent/reduce your symptoms.
A Fasting Blood Glucose Level Of 100 mg/DL
Set “Carb Goals”
Choose complex carbs over simple carbs
High Blood Pressure, measuring 130/85
DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension)
Read Food labels
Limit sugar intake
Establish a regular eating pattern
Eat more “tree nuts” ( almonds, cashews, pecans)
Switch to unsaturated fats
Low HDL ( Good Cholesterol) measuring <40mg/DL Men & <50mg/DL Women
Do not smoke
Choose better fats
Purple Produce (antioxidants to help inflammation)
Increase fish consumption
Excess Waist Fat >40 in Men & >35 in Women
Walk after dinner
Grocery Shop without Aisles
Increase in Water Consumption
Aside from doing these tricks and tips at home, a doctor or health coach will be able to further assist one in healing. The main goal is to take these symptoms and disorders and correct them before they become a full-blown diagnosis.
Rather than just running a basic blood panel, they now have tests that allow us to see multiple different levels and numbers. these elaborate blood tests provide great insight to allow us to see the full picture. By completing these labs, it allows the doctor to evaluate the patients better and provide a more specific treatment plan.
In addition to detailed lab work, there are all-natural supplements that have been shown to help improve these symptoms along with proper diet and exercise. Some of these supplements include Vitamin D, Berberine, and Ashwagandha.
On top of these things, there is also an app that is available to download. This app is called, “Dr. J Today”. This app connects you directly to our clinic and allows us to monitor your diet, supplements, activity, BMI, water weight, muscle mass, and more! This app also gives you a direct portal to message Dr.Jimenez or myself.
As stated before, our main goal is to help you decrease your symptoms before they turn into a full-blown diagnosis. One thing we want to surround our patients with is knowledge and a team atmosphere. With the right team, anything is possible and better health is more attainable than you think!
Having Type 1 Diabetes, I have experienced metabolic syndrome before. It is one of my least favorite feelings that exist. I want our patients to know that they do not have to feel that way and there are treatment plans that can help! I will help to create a personalized plan that is tailed to you, so success is the only option. – Kenna Vaughn, Senior Health Coach�
The scope of our information is limited to chiropractic, musculoskeletal, and nervous health issues or functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions. We use functional health protocols to treat injuries or disorders of the musculoskeletal system. Our office has made a reasonable attempt to provide supportive citations and has identified the relevant research study or studies supporting our posts. We also make copies of supporting research studies available to the board and or the public upon request. To further discuss the subject matter above, please feel free to ask Dr. Alex Jimenez or contact us at 915-850-0900.
Detailed lab testing is becoming more and more essential as integrative medicine is on the rise. Detailed lab testing goes more in-depth than the traditional blood levels usually taken. This allows physicians to understand more of the underlying issues that are causing the patients headaches, inflammation, pain, or overall discomfort.
There are multiple lab companies that utilize top of the line technology in order to obtain the best results for the patient. By running a detailed test, it allows more data to be collected and the physician to get a deeper look at what the patient might be lacking.
One test that is extremely detailed and allows an abundance of information is the Micronutrient test from SpectraCell. Micronutrients are essential for the body to function properly. The body requires macronutrients and micronutrients. Macronutrients are those obtained through the diet, such as protein, carbohydrates, and fat. Micronutrients are vitamins and minerals that the body needs to achieve proper nutrition.
The Micronutrient test came from Dr. William Shive who was a biochemist that realized many serum (blood tests) do not adequately show the number of vitamins and minerals in an individual. In turn, the labs are not a true number of the patients health.
The Micronutrient test from Spectracell is unique because it is the only test on the market that obtains a history of 4-6 months from inside the cells. Thus, allowing practitioners and patients to see if their cells are truly healthy and what they are lacking in.
Who Should Be Tested?
Micronutrients are needed to perform almost all metabolic processes in the body. When these essential vitamins and minerals are lacking, the body is more prone to degenerative processes like arthritis.
Getting tested can provide an inside look at what is actually happening in your body. This can shine some light and possibly even explain some health symptoms you’ve been struggling with. Due to the fact that micronutrients are needed in the body and not having them does affect your health, getting tested could help prevent a compromised immune system.
As mentioned earlier, this test measures micronutrients, which are essential vitamins and minerals in the body. But, what else can this test really tell an individual besides the fact that they’re lacking in vitamin D?� This test can help provide measures for:
Sports Performance Optimization
SpectraCell is all about giving their patients high-end results that lead to real solutions. By creating a test that captures the functional level and the actual capability of the nutrients present in the white blood cells, it allows physicians to see a patient’s metabolism from a different standpoint. Getting tested could be the first step towards a healthier future.
SpectraCell is an amazing company, which is why we use them! This test is very detailed and provides us with a great deal of information. The science behind this test not only allows our patients to feel better by getting on the correct vitamin regimen for their body but also by allowing us to treat patients on an individualized level without the guesswork. – Kenna Vaughn, Senior Health Coach
*All information for this article was found onSpectraCell.com and is properly cited below
The scope of our information is limited to chiropractic, musculoskeletal, and nervous health issues or functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions. We use functional health protocols to treat injuries or disorders of the musculoskeletal system. Our office has made a reasonable attempt to provide supportive citations and has identified the relevant research study or studies supporting our posts. We also make copies of supporting research studies available to the board and or the public upon request.�
Part of understanding the body and treating symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, joint pain, and overall discomfort is realizing that the body is an intricate system that functions as one. In modern medicine, we have become used to seeing different specialists for different body systems ( i.e the endocrine system, the nervous system, etc.). However, in all reality, the body is made up of all these systems to work together to maintain homeostasis.
Wellness is best defined by the National Wellness Institute as, ” An active process through which people become aware of, and make a choice toward, a more successful existence (The Six Dimensions Of Wellness)”.
In general, wellness is applied in one’s life to incorporate all aspects of health. Similar to the systems in the body, wellness is not just isolated to one part. The National Wellness Institute has promoted and defined there to be six dimensions of wellness.
These dimensions dive deep to incorporate mental health and physical health. Mental and physical health are closely intertwined and often times relate to each other. By applying the six dimensions of wellness into your life, you are treating the body as a whole and allowing yourself to embrace the mind-body connection for optimal wellness.
The ability to be alone and have your own feelings and thoughts not overwhelm you, expressing emotions in a healthy way, and to be able to be compassionate towards others’ emotional state.
The work you put in every day and understanding that it has a purpose and point to fulfill not only the necessary job duties but also the soul.
The practice of regular physical activity, healthy eating/nutrition, and a regular healthy sleep schedule. These are essential elements to fuel life and heal the body.
To be able to regularly socialize and react with others. This includes interacting with people in all aspects of life and engaging in a healthy living environment.
Not only referring to education, but allowing the mind to open up and connect to the lively world around.� Intellectual wellness has a main focus of creativity while exploring problem-solving and critical thinking.
Knowing that there is a purpose in life that the life you are living is meaningful.
Essentially, by applying these six dimensions of wellness into everyday life, a person becomes more aware of how each dimension is connected to another and how they contribute to healthy living. Emotional health has a lot to do with mental health. By aligning emotional health with mental health, the physical health the body receives is less inflammation, a healthier gut, and more mental clarity.
Similarly speaking, occupational health has a lot to do with physical health. If the occupation one has is constantly exhausting them and causing high levels of stress, the hormones in their body will start to become off balance. This will affect their health in the way that they will not be sleeping as well, causing fatigue and the body to react with inflammation because it is not getting an adequate amount of rest to properly heal.
Physical health is important because by incorporating regular physical activity into one’s life, endorphins will be released more often. Physical activity is used to treat many mental health disorders as well as prevent many physical disabilities.
Often times, anxiety or stomach issues can be brought on by social events. Social wellness works on healthy communications with others around you while also being able to be comfortable and confident.
Intellectual wellness happens as individuals explore and connect with others. If one is not complete or working on the intellectual wellness side of things, this can cause depression and poor health due to not being stimulated and interactive.
The last dimension of wellness is spiritual.� Spiritual wellness does not mean that you believe in a specific thing, but rather that your life has a meaning and you have a purpose.
By incorporating these six dimensions, it allows the human body to connect with itself. by opening up the communication between the systems, a new level of wellness can be achieved.
The six dimensions of wellness is a more holistic approach to healthy living. These dimensions will help individuals reach their full potential while learning and acknowledging their strengths and weaknesses when it comes to health. I highly recommend incorporating the six dimensions of wellness into everyone’s life as the healing benefits it can bring are remarkable. Treating the body as a whole and realizing that your gut health is related to your brain health is eye-opening and creates a lot of room for potential healing. – Kenna Vaughn, Senior Health Coach�
The scope of our information is limited to chiropractic, musculoskeletal, and nervous health issues or functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions. We use functional health protocols to treat injuries or disorders of the musculoskeletal system. Our office has made a reasonable attempt to provide supportive citations and has identified the relevant research study or studies supporting our posts. We also make copies of supporting research studies available to the board and or the public upon request. To further discuss the subject matter above, please feel free to ask Dr. Alex Jimenez or contact us at 915-850-0900.�
Functional medicine is about taking the human body and treating it as a whole. The human body has many systems but they all work together to maintain homeostasis. In many cases with traditional medicine, a patient with headaches, joint pain, inflammation, and fatigue will be referred to many specialists to treat each individual symptom.� However, by looking at the entire body as a whole and digging into the root cause of the issue and not just the symptom itself, a lot can be revealed.
With functional medicine, often times a series of labs are run that look deeper than the typical basic blood panel. In traditional medicine, a glucose and AHb1c test will be done to assess diabetes. In functional medicine, a deeper test is ordered to rule out other possibilities and practitioners are able to view all components of diabetes including , Adiponectin, Insulin.� This allows a deeper understanding of what is happening inside the body and how to best treat it.�
With this being said, there are many labs that functional and integrative medicine practitioners utilize, each specializing in their own unique panels. The average integrative practice uses an average of 5-10 different lab companies for their patients to have the best care. Eight of the most utilized lab companies are:
Diagnostic Solutions offer many tests but their specialty lies within their GI Map. This test measures the gastrointestinal microbiota DNA from a stool sample. This allows practitioners to see and detect the exact microbes that may be causing a disturbance in the gut or a factor contributing to illness.
Vibrant Wellness has a wide variety of tests but one of the most frequently used is the food sensitivity panel. This allows practitioners to see what foods their patients are consuming that are creating havoc for their gut health.
SpectraCellstarted as a nutritional testing company but has since evolved into a lab that tests cellular nutrition, cardiometabolic health, hormone balances, and genetic predisposition.
Genova Diagnostics has a wide variety of tests but one of the most common is the GI Effects Comprehensive Profile. This test takes a patient’s stool and detects an organism’s DNA as part of a comprehensive assessment.
Doctors Data provides a wide array of functional testing to provide patients with the best outcomes. Some tests include Environmental Exposure and Detoxification, Toxic and Essential Elements, and Allergy and Immunity.
Cyrex categories their tests as “arrays”. These arrays test for things like diabetes autoimmune reactivity,� The blood-brain barrier, Mucosal Immune Reactivity and more.
Dunwoody Labs offers food sensitivity testing, adrenal, neurotransmitters and many more. Dunwoody can test for specific IgE and IgG4 molecules.
The patient’s health comes first, and getting down to the underlying issues sometimes requires one than one lab company. These companies use the top of the line technology to ensure their patients and physicians obtain the most accurate results for optimal healing.
It is important to make sure the patient gets the best possible care available. This usually means ordering different labs from different companies to obtain the best results. Each lab is great in its own way, but they often specialize in a certain area. This is key because it often allows the patient and the practitioner to get the highest quality of results. A practitioner who uses multiple labs is educated on the subject and truly cares for their patients. – Kenna Vaughn, Senior Health Coach�
*The scope of our information is limited to chiropractic, musculoskeletal, and nervous health issues or functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions. We use functional health protocols to treat injuries or disorders of the musculoskeletal system. Our office has made a reasonable attempt to provide supportive citations and has identified the relevant research study or studies supporting our posts. We also make copies of supporting research studies available to the board and or the public upon request.�
For most individuals experiencing symptoms,� health care providers will run a few tests. For the most part, these tests come back normal or inconclusive. The patient is usually relieved, but not satisfied as they are still experiencing symptoms. The truth of the matter is, most tests practitioners run on patients are basic.
What Does That Mean?
It means that they are checking your levels and ruling out issues based on standard testing, but they are not diving deep into the cause of the symptom itself. Most individuals have a family history of one or more autoimmune diseases. An autoimmune disease is when the body misidentifies its own cells as a foreign body leading them to attack. These diseases can be triggered at any point in one’s life.
So What Do I Do Now?
Due to family history,� an ANA test can be run. Most of the time for patients still experiencing symptoms after the standard tests came back negative, the ANA comes back positive. However, a positive test does not always mean answers. This test can provide useful information but does not include a definitive answer as to what kind of autoimmunity a patient may have.
Using A Functional Approach
In modern/traditional medicine, most practitioners will suggest the patient is fine and that there is nothing to treat until they have been diagnosed. However, by using a more naturopathic and holistic approach, integrative practitioners can take these symptoms and use them to the patient’s advantage to help avoid a full-blown diagnosis.� The main reason this is effective is due to the fact that individuals do not just wake up one day with a new disease, but rather there are steps progressing in the background that eventually build up to a diagnosis if not treated.
Uncovering the underlying issue and using this stage in someone’s life as an opportunity to improve their quality of living is what functional medicine revolves around. By combining symptoms, previous lab results, and the patients declining quality of life, testing that relates to triggers of autoimmunity can be conducted. These tests will provide insightful information allowing the practitioner to not only treat the symptom but more importantly, to treat the cause.
There are multiple factors, including environmental that cause an autoimmune response to start to express. There are certain markers in the body that will shift before the onset of the autoimmune disease in which the environmental triggers will be shown.
Many labs are equipt to test for these markers and use top of the line technology. Some tests that evaluate these triggers that contribute to the progression of autoimmunity are:
The Gut Zoomerfrom Vibrant Wellness:The Gut Zoomer provides information and patient potential risks for intestinal permeability, IBS & IBD, SIBO, celiac, MS, obesity, diabetes, nutrition, viruses, fungal or yeast species, worm species, bile acids, SCFAs and more
The Food Sensitivity Panel from Vibrant Wellness:This test from Vibrant Wellness recognizes the specific antibody-to-antigen responses in commonly ingested foods. This panel tests for IgG and IgA sensitivity to the food antigens. This test is beneficial so patients do not have to an elimination diet, but rather have the test remove the guesswork and let results tell them what foods cause their body inflammation.
Dietary Antigen Test Plus from Dunwoody Labs:��This specific test from Dunwoody Labs allows the health care provider to see if there is an increased antibody response to food. Often times, the antibodies this screens for attack the body’s tissue leading to more autoimmune symptoms. This test looks at 4 separate antibody types IgE, IgG4, Total IgG, IgA, and complement.
Oxidative Stress Test from Dunwoody Labs:If the body is under large amounts of stress, this will cause an increase in the activity of T-Cells, thus keeping the body out of balance.
GI Microbial Assay Plus (GI-MAP� ) from Diagnostic Solutions: This is a stool test that not only analyzes but also evaluates the DNA of the actual organisms that are living in the gut. This allows the health care providers to see what is impacting health such as, mucus metabolism, methane production, T-Cells, and inflammatory LPS.�
Why Would I Want / Need This?
Preventative medicine provides the ability to keep up with, if not improve a patient’s quality of life while decreasing or avoiding the hard prescription medicine! By treating the underlying cause and not just masking the symptom, it allows individuals to truly feel better.
The number of individuals diagnosed with a disease that could have been prevented should earlier steps have been taken, is on the rise while their quality of life is declining. Feeling good should not be a delicacy, but rather a normal standard. With the use of integrative medicine, many grandparents will be able to play hide and seek and tag with their grandchildren, parents will be able to get through the day without as much fatigue and headaches, and children will be able to play, focus, and learn with fewer belly aches no matter the hour of the day. Integrative medicine not only utilizes tests to guide patients in the right direction but also gives patients tools and further educates them on exercise and nutrition components that will help prevent inflammation and stimulate good bacteria in their bodies to grow. – Kenna Vaughn, Senior Health Coach
*The scope of our information is limited to chiropractic, musculoskeletal, and nervous health issues or functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions. We use functional health protocols to treat injuries or disorders of the musculoskeletal system. Our office has made a reasonable attempt to provide supportive citations and has identified the relevant research study or studies supporting our posts. We also make copies of supporting research studies available to the board and or the public upon request. To further discuss the subject matter above, please feel free to ask Dr. Alex Jimenez or contact us at 915-850-0900.
�Basic Oxidative Stress.� Dunwoody Labs, 20 July 2018, www.dunwoodylabs.com/index.php/ox-stress/.
Burdette, Cheryl. �Is There Such Thing as Being Pre-Autoimmune.� 3 Dec. 2019.
The percentage of individuals that are affected by fatigue, headaches, and overall pain is continuously growing. For the most part, these symptoms can all be linked back to a hormone imbalance. Hormone imbalances are more common than individuals realize and can affect people of all ages. Originally, hormone testing was completed through a blood draw (serum testing). However, as science is improving, there are now better, more functional ways of testing.��
As more and more studies are done, it is becoming more clear that salivary testing is superior to serum (blood) testing for hormones. There are two forms in which hormones exist in the human body, free (5%) and protein-bound (95%). Due to the protein-bound hormones being bound, they become too large to pass through into the salivary glands. This meaning that they are not bio-available and can not be delivered to the receptors in the tissues of the body.� The unbound hormones, or free hormones, are the relevant hormones that are found in the saliva. Considering the fact that free hormones are not as abundant, the hormone levels found in saliva are significantly less than those found in serum. However, many patients who are treated with serum hormone results are often overdosed because of the lack of correlation between bio-availability.
Labrix by Doctor’s Data
Similar to the D.U.T.C.H�hormone testing previously discussed, this company Labrix offers a variety of hormone testing as well.
NeuroBasic: ideal for monitoring therapeutic interventions of neurotransmitter imbalances previously tested or when symptoms are indicating an imbalance. This test measures Serotonin, Dopamine, Epinephrine, Norepinephrine, Glutamate, Glycine, Histamine, and Phenethylamine
Comprehensive Neurotransmitter: best when a comprehensive look at neurotransmitter secretion and metabolism of markers is needed. This test measures Serotonin, GABA, Dopamine, Norepinephrine, Epinephrine, Glutamate, Glycine, Histamine, and Phenethylamineand DOPAC, 3-MT, Normetanephrine, Metanephrine, 5-HIAA, Tryptamine, Tyrosine, Tyramine, and Taurine.
NeuroHormone Complete Plus:� provides insight on how the HPA axis function may be contributing to patients’ symptoms, such as mood swings, fatigue, and pain. In addition, this test is ideal for those who are at risk for breast cancer, PCOS, or a strong family history of autoimmune disease.�This test is recommended for women only.� This test measures�Estrone, Estradiol, Estriol, Progesterone, Testosterone, DHEA, Cortisol x 4, Serotonin, GABA, Dopamine, Epinephrine, Norepinephrine, Glutamate, Glycine, Histamine, Phenethylamine
NeuroHormone Complete: useful for patients (men or women) who are experiencing any type of mood disorder, addiction, fatigue, chronic illness, confusion, weight issues, low libido, PMS, or chronic pain. This test measures Estradiol, Progesterone, Testosterone, DHEA, Cortisol x 4, Serotonin, GABA, Dopamine, Epinephrine, Norepinephrine, Glutamate, Glycine, Histamine, Phenethylamine.�
NeuroAdrenal: Included in this test is a full diurnal cortisol pattern, DHEA, and 6 primary neurotransmitters to help those with symptoms such as depression, anxiety, addiction, chronic illness, and low libido. This test measures DHEA, Cortisol x 4, Serotonin, GABA, Dopamine, Epinephrine, Norepinephrine, Glutamate, Glycine, Histamine, Phenethylamine
Comprehensive Plus: provides an assessment of breast cancer risk. This test is a considerationfor women only who have an increased risk for developing breast cancer, other hormonally sensitive cancers, PCOS or a family history of autoimmune disease. This test measures estrone, estriol, and Estrogen Quotient.
Women’s Helth and breast Profile: includes two risk assessment ratios, the Estrogen Quotient and the Pg/E2 ratio
Comprehensive Hormone: �assessment of hormonal status and endocrine function and includes estradiol, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA and four cortisols. This profile is useful with male and female patients because it looks at the full diurnal cortisol pattern; it is especially important in patients who are experiencing the full diurnal pattern ( weight gain, high blood sugar, elevated lipids, chronic fatigue)
Short Comprehensive: useful in men and women whose primary symptoms are related to sex hormone imbalances (elevated or depressed E2, P or T)
Basic Hormone: a basic evaluation of the sex hormones and a brief glimpse at the adrenal function with the AM cortisol level. Best for men who are experiencing decreased libido, erectile dysfunction, loss os stamina, decreased mental sharpness and metabolic syndrome. Best for women who are experiencing hot flashes, anxiety, night sweats, breast tenderness, irritability, forgetfulness, and acne.�
Comprehensive Adrenal Function: provides insight into the body�s stress response. This test measures sIgA
Adrenal Function: comprehensive view of adrenal function, DHEA, and cortisol levels. This is best for people who are fatigued, nervous, weak, crave sugar, have headaches, irritability, and depression
Diurnal Cortisol: Similar to the test above but for patients who do not need DHEA testing
Melatonin: Provides a snapshot of the sleep/wake cycle during a one day period
Salivary Hormone + CAR :
CAR: has the capability to test all the same markers as above but adds Cortisol Awakening Response “CAR” to all of them.�
For more information regarding testing and hormones tested, please visitlabrix.com��
LABRIX BASIC BOX CONTENTS:
Upon opening every box (no matter the labrix test) the patient will see a requisition form, a billable stamp, and a FedEx envelope. Under these two items, a styrofoam box (insulated cooler) with the imprint “doctorsdata.com” will be present. Once the patient lifts the lid off of the styrofoam box, they will see two more pieces of paper.� The first being a list of symptoms (patient survey) on a white sheet of paper that the patient is to fill out and place back in the styrofoam box and the second a small instruction manual.
Neurotransmitter Tests Breakdown
For the Neurotransmitter Tests, the patient is provided with the basic kit described above. The only sample type required for the neurotransmitter tests is urine.
The contents of the styrofoam box include a small plastic cup, a clear plastic bag consisting of a white tube, a dropper, an absorbent pad, and a Lab-Brix ice pack. The first step is to freeze the ice-pack and keep it frozen until ready to ship.�
In order for this test to have proper results, the patient should collect their sample with their first or second-morning urine upon waking. Then, select on the requisition form which urine ( first or second ) the sample was collected from. It is also important to note on the requisition form what time the patient woke and what time the sample was collected. The urine sample should be collected midstream. Patients will collect their sample in the plastic cup provided, not directly in the tube. Next, the patients will use the dropper provided to transfer 10 ml of the sample from the cup into the tube. Ensure the lid is screwed on tightly and gently rock the tube back and forth for 3-5 seconds to mix the urine with the preservative. The patients will then wrap the absorbent pad around the tube (not inside the tube), and place the sample tube back in the plastic bag. The bag is then to be placed in the freezer for 4-6 hours, and is to be kept frozen until ready to ship!�
Neurotransmitter + Hormone Tests Breakdown
The Neurotransmitter + Hormone analysis tests consist of urine and saliva samples. This basic test kit includes everything above. However, upon opening this styrofoam box the patient will find two plastic bags. The first being a plain plastic clear bag with a dropper, white test tube, and absorbent pad. The second plastic bag is a biohazard bag that has multiple colors on the outside and consists of 4 clear small straws, an absorbent pad, and 4 small saliva collection tubes of various colors.�
The urine sample is instructed to be taken the same way as the neurotransmitter test.
The patient should collect their sample with their first or second-morning urine upon waking. Then, select on the requisition form which urine ( first or second ) the sample was collected from. (Remember, the individual is� to note on the requisition form time they woke and what time the sample was collected). Patients will collect their sample mid-stream in the plastic cup provided, not directly in the tube. Next, use the dropper provided to transfer 10 ml of the sample from the cup into the tube. Be sure to check that the lid is screwed on tightly and gently rock the tube back and forth for 3-5 seconds to mix the urine with the preservative. The patients will then wrap the absorbent pad around the tube (not inside the tube), and place the sample tube back in the plastic bag. The bag is then to be placed in the freezer for 4-6 hours, and is to be kept frozen until ready to ship!��
The salivary collection has a few more steps considering it is 4 samples rather than one. The timing for the salivary testing is critical, so timers are encouraged. As the patient wakes up, a timer should be set for 30 minutes later. This is when the first salivary sample (the pink tube) is to be collected. Before this test, the patient should not eat, drink, brush or floss. The second collection (green tube) is to be taken right before lunch, around noon. The third (orange tube), is to be collected in the evening before dinner, and the final collection (blue tube) before bed at night.�
For all salivary collections, each tube needs to be 3/4 of the way full. The straws provided are the patient’s choice to be used. As soon as the tube is 3/4 of the way full, snap the saliva lid tightly, put into the bag in which it came, and freeze for 4-6 hours, until ready to ship. Patients are to record the date and times of the saliva collections on the bag and requisition form.�
Considering the salivary hormone testing is done using 4 saliva samples, the instructions are the same as the saliva collection in the test mentioned above. However, to review them again,�the timing for the salivary testing is critical, so timers are highly encouraged.
As the patient wakes up, a timer should be set for 30 minutes later. This is when the first salivary sample (the pink tube) is to be collected. Before this test, the patient is not to eat, drink, brush or floss. For the second collection (green tube), it should be collected right before lunch, around noon. The third (orange tube), is to be obtained in the evening before dinner, and the final sample (blue tube) before bed at night.�
For all salivary collections, each tube needs to be 3/4 of the way full. The straws provided are to be used at the patient’s discretion. As soon as the tube is 3/4 of the way full, snap the saliva lid tightly, put into the bag in which it came, and freeze for 4-6 hours, until ready to ship. Patients are to record the date and times of the saliva collections on the bag and requisition form.�
Salivary Hormone + CAR Breakdown
Aside from the basic components, the styrofoam box includes 6 colored salvia collection tubes, 6 straws, and an absorbent pad. The tests that fall under this category require 6 samples throughout the day. It is important to remember to write down the time the samples were collected as well as the time when the patient first woke up. The first sample (yellow tube) is to be taken as soon as the patient is awake but has not gotten out of bed. In order to accomplish this properly, it is best the patient sets the tube next to their bed the night before. This makes it easy to collect first thing in the morning. It is very important that the patient sets an alarm for 30 minutes after they wake up ( second test, pink tube)and for 1 hour after they wake up (third test, lavender tube). These tests are all to be done prior to eating breakfast, brushing and flossing teeth. The fourth collection (green tube) is to be taken before lunch and the fifth (orange tube) before dinner. The sixth and final sample (blue tube) is to be collected at least one hour after dinner. Just as the other saliva samples mentioned above, these tubes are to be filled 3/4 of the way, tightly closed, placed back in the bag they came in and frozen for 4-6 hours, or until they are ready to ship.
SHIPPING INSTRUCTIONS FOR ALL TESTS:
Shipping should be done Monday-Friday as this will ensure the sample will be delivered to the lab on time. Make sure all paperwork is filled out properly and place contents back in the styrofoam box in the following order:�
sealed plastic bag with frozen specimen tubes
frozen ice pack�
requisition form, symptom sheet, and payment (if applicable)�
Next, place the lid back on the box and place the entire styrofoam box in the cardboard collection kit. Close the cardboard box and place it inside the FedEx shipping envelope provided. The patient will then write their name and address on the Billable Stamp and tear off the customer receipt for their records. Then, place on the FedEx envelope. The final step is to schedule a pick-up. In order to do this, the patient will call the FedEx toll-Free number at 1-800-463-3339 and select “schedule a pickup”. This MUST be a scheduled pick up from an address and NOT a dropbox.�
* It is important to note that patients should avoid eating avocados, eggplant, tomatoes, bananas, melons, pineapples, plums, nuts, nut butter, wine, cheese and chocolate 48 hours before and during the testing period as these could impact the results.
* Patients should keep in mind that strenuous exercise, alcohol, coffee, tea, tobacco or any other product containing nicotine is to be avoided 24 hours before and during the collection period.
Labrix is a great company that allows patients a noninvasive way to have their hormone levels checked. Almost every patient who walks in the door can benefit from this test. I highly recommend this test because hormone levels can change based on age, PMS symptoms, fatigue, blood sugar issues, or stress! These results are accurate and have a decently quick turn around time. Gaining insight and taking control of your body is now easier than ever. – Kenna Vaughn, Senior Health Coach
The scope of our information is limited to chiropractic, musculoskeletal and nervous health issues as well as functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions. We use functional health protocols to treat injuries or chronic disorders of the musculoskeletal system. To further discuss the subject matter above, please feel free to ask Dr. Alex Jimenez or contact us at 915-850-0900.
*All information and photos/video content for this article are directly sourced from labrix. Please see labrix for more information and credit.
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