Every day, millions of adults deal with chronic pain, or pain that lasts for a long time.

Prescription medications are often effective for alleviating short-term pain, such as severe headaches or pain associated with muscle trauma. However, they may not work as well for chronic pain.

In addition, these drugs may have so many side effects that people with chronic pain often avoid using them.

If chronic pain is left untreated, though, it can cause sleep problems, anxiety, depression, difficulty doing everyday activities or other problems.

Fortunately, many drug-free alternatives are available to help people manage their pain. These may work for short-term pain, as well.

Drug-Free Alternatives for Pain Relief

Some of the most common alternative pain treatments include:

  • Acupressure and acupuncture
  • Aromatherapy
  • Bodywork techniques, such as massage, spinal manipulation and therapeutic touch
  • Diet and nutrition
  • Exercise and strength training
  • Herbal products, nutritional supplements, glucosamine and chondroitin
  • Mind-body techniques, such as biofeedback, hypnotherapy, meditation, mindfulness-based stress reduction, relaxation and stress management
  • Music therapy
  • Water therapy (hydrotherapy)
  • Yoga and tai chi
Safety of Drug-Free Pain Treatments

In contrast to prescription medications and even over-the-counter pain drugs that can produce side effects or encourage dependence, alternative methods for pain management tend to be safer.

This, however, doesn’t mean that they are risk-free for everyone. Certain factors can increase your chance of having side effects from these treatments, such as:

  • Age
  • Current health
  • Pregnancy
  • Other treatments or medications

Each treatment has its own risks and side effects. Some of the common ones include:

  • Dizziness
  • Injuries
  • Interactions with prescription or over-the-counter medications
  • Kidney problems
  • Nausea
  • Physical discomfort
  • Temporary headaches
Conditions That Are Treatable With Drug-Free Alternatives

Drug-free alternatives can relieve many types of pain, such as pain associated with:

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Cancer
  • Facial
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Headache
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Low-back pain
  • Menstrual cramps
  • Neck pain
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis

Before you undergo any alternative treatments, check with your chiropractic doctor or health care provider. They can tell you whether these drug-free options might interfere with your current treatments or cause unnecessary side effects.

Exercise

If you are dealing with long-term chronic pain, it is likely that the last thing you want to think about is exercising. However, staying physically active is important for your overall health and in preventing the onset of other conditions like heart disease and obesity.

An appropriate exercise program can also relieve symptoms associated with chronic pain by boosting your body’s pain-fighting chemicals. It may also reduce your risk of sustaining certain injuries and of developing chronic pain after an injury.

Benefits of Exercise for Pain Relief

In addition to helping you maintain a healthy weight and strengthening your muscles and heart, exercise provides other benefits for people with chronic pain, including:

  • Reduction in muscle spasms
  • Decrease in inflammation in the joints
  • Improved spinal alignment
  • Strengthened muscles around your joints
  • Prevention of atrophy of your muscles
  • Increased ability to carry out everyday activities
  • Boost in your mood
  • Improved quality of life

Types of Pain Helped by Exercise

Exercise may help alleviate pain associated with many types of conditions, including:

  • Arthritis
  • Certain back problems
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Certain neck problems
  • Osteoarthritis

How Much Exercise Do You Need?

To gain the benefits of exercise, you should aim for at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity physical activity. This includes walking, swimming, bicycling or water aerobics.

In addition to this aerobic exercise, you should do two or more days per week of muscle strengthening exercise. This should work all the major muscle groups of the body, including the arms, shoulders, abdomen, chest, hips and legs.

It is also beneficial to stay physically active throughout the day. This can be done by walking or biking to work, parking farther from the shopping center entrance, taking periodic walks, gardening or taking the stairs instead of the elevator.

Choosing an Exercise Program That’s Right for You

If you have had a recent injury or suffer from chronic pain, the first step is to visit your primary care doctor for an exam. He or she can suggest an appropriate medical plan to treat your injury or alleviate your chronic pain. Your treatment plan might include visiting your chiropractor and starting an exercise program to help relieve your symptoms. Your chiropractor and primary care physician can work together to develop an exercise program that is suitable for your individual needs.

Diet

Most people know that eating a well-balanced, healthy diet can reduce your risk of health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes and obesity. However, the foods you eat may also provide relief from chronic pain or keep you from developing certain types of pain, such as low-back pain.

Eating a Healthy Diet

Eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly is the best way to maintain a healthy weight, both now and as you grow older. In addition, keeping off those extra pounds can reduce chronic pain from certain health conditions, such as arthritis or back problems.

Eating a well-balanced diet also provides your body with the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that it needs to stay healthy and pain-free. A healthy diet includes eating a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and low-fat protein sources. Here are some types of pain that can be helped by following a healthy diet:

  • Back pain. Eating foods rich in calcium and obtaining enough vitamin D from the sun or supplements will keep your bones strong. This can help prevent osteoporosis — weakening of the bones — that can lead to bone fractures and back pain.
  • Fibromyalgia. Some people with fibromyalgia feel better when they avoid or eat certain foods. There is no diet that has been proven to work for everyone, but eating healthy will help you avoid other problems that may make your fibromyalgia worse. If you suffer from fibromyalgia, consider keeping a food journal in which you also note your symptoms. If you notice a trend between eating certain foods and the worsening of your symptoms, you can try to cut out that food to see if it helps prevent or alleviate your symptoms.
  • Arthritis. Certain foods may relieve symptoms associated with arthritis, including: fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin E, omega-3 fatty acids and other nutrients. Avoiding excessive alcohol may also improve your symptoms.

Dietary Supplements

Certain dietary supplements may benefit people with chronic pain. Although some medical studies have been done on these, more research is needed to know how well they will work to relieve pain. However, some individuals with the following conditions have benefited from eating foods that contain the following nutrients.

  • Rheumatoid arthritis: omega-3 fatty acids (found in fish oil) and gamma-linolenic acid
  • Migraine: coenzyme Q10, riboflavin and the herbs feverfew and butterbur
  • Osteoarthritis: glucosamine and chondroitin, omega-3 fatty acids, SAMe, turmeric, ginger and capsaicin
  • Low back pain: omega-3 fatty acids, glucosamine and chondroitin, bromelain and turmeric

Before taking any supplements, check with your doctor, chiropractor or other health care provider. Some dietary supplements can cause side effects or may interact with your prescription medication. They may also be harmful if you are pregnant or nursing.

Acupuncture

Acupuncture is a type of treatment that stimulates points on the body to relieve pain in other areas. The most common method uses very thin, metal needles to penetrate the skin. Acupuncture is an integral part of traditional Chinese medicine, and is used for treating pain and other health problems.

What Is Acupuncture?

During an acupuncture treatment, very fine needles are inserted into the skin at specific acupuncture points on the body. The needles are so small that you will experience very little to no discomfort when they are placed in the skin.

The locations where the needles are inserted may not be the same area where you are experiencing pain. During most treatment sessions, an acupuncturist will insert between five and 20 needles.

After the needles are in place, your practitioner may apply electrical pulses or heat to the needles. He or she may also twirl or move them to stimulate the acupuncture points. The needles will stay in place for 10 to 20 minutes. During this time, you will have to sit or lie still.

Each acupuncture treatment takes around 30 minutes. You may need one or two treatments per week, with up to about eight treatments.

How Does Acupuncture Work?

According to traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture balances the flow of energy — known as chi or qi — in your body. When the acupuncture needles are inserted in the skin at the right acupuncture points, the flow of energy is rebalanced.

Western doctors believe that acupuncture may stimulate connective tissue, muscles and nerves. Some believe that this increases the blood flow to parts of the body and boosts the body’s natural ability to provide relief from pain.

Types of Pain Treated by Acupuncture

Acupuncture is used to treat a wide range of conditions. This includes the following types of chronic pain:

  • Fibromyalgia pain
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Labor pain
  • Low-back pain
  • Menstrual cramps
  • Neck pain
  • Osteoarthritis pain
  • Toothaches

Risks and Side Effects of Acupuncture

Acupuncture is generally safe when performed by a practitioner who is well-trained and experienced. Soreness and minor bruising or bleeding may occur where the needles are inserted.

If done incorrectly, acupuncture can lead to serious side effects, such as collapsed lungs, punctured organs or other injuries. When non-sterile needles are used, it can lead to serious infections. This is why it is important to visit a certified, experience acupuncturist for your treatment.

If you are pregnant or have a bleeding disorder, let your acupuncturist know. These conditions may increase your risk of side effects from acupuncture. Also, acupuncture done by electrically stimulating the needles can interfere with a pacemaker.

If you have chronic pain or short-term pain, ask your chiropractor if acupuncture might help. Before undergoing any treatments, find out more about the training and experience of the acupuncturist that you are considering. Many states also have licensing requirements for people who perform acupuncture.

Acupressure

Acupressure is a type of massage that has been part of traditional Chinese medicine for more than 2,000 years. It is used by chiropractors and other health practitioners to help the body heal itself and provide relief from chronic pain and stress.

What Is Acupressure?

During acupressure, a chiropractor applies pressure to certain parts of the body, known as acupressure points, or acupoints. When applied to the right points, this pressure can relieve pain in other parts of the body.

Unlike acupuncture, which uses needles, acupressure involves pressing on the acupoints with the fingers, thumbs or palms. Sometimes acupressure beads or a blunt object may be used.

Acupressure treatments last between five and 15 minutes. The technique often involves medium pressure applied in quick, circular movements. It may also include vibrating, kneading or rubbing motions.

How Does Acupressure Work?

According to traditional Chinese medicine, acupressure “turns on” the body’s self-healing abilities. The goal of acupressure is to restore balance to the body and encourage wellbeing.

Stimulating the acupressure points may also increase the flow of blood and reduce tension in the muscles. This allows the body to heal itself and relax.

Some acupressure points are connected to specific parts of the body. Pressure applied to these can help those areas heal. Other points are more general and encourage overall health.

Types of Pain Treated With Acupressure

Acupressure is used to treat pain from many different health conditions, including:

  • Arm and leg pain
  • Arthritis
  • Cancer pain
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Facial pain
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Menstrual cramps
  • Shoulder and neck tension or pain
  • Toothaches

Risks and Side Effects of Acupressure

Acupressure is gentle enough that it can be given while sitting, standing or lying down. You can also apply this type of massage to yourself; although it is best if you do so under the guidance of your chiropractor or other healthcare provider.

When correctly applied, acupressure has a very low risk of side effects. Women who are pregnant should talk to their chiropractor or health care provider before undergoing acupressure treatments.

Massage

Massage dates back at least to the second century B.C., as it’s described in ancient Chinese texts. Practitioners in India and Egypt developed their own methods of massage. In fact, all over the world, people use their hands and mechanical devices to improve circulation, unknot muscles, reduce pain and generally improve health.

Nonetheless, massage therapy is a large and varied field. For example, the type of massage that’s suitable for an athlete is different than what a hospice patient needs. If you’re considering massage as a method of pain relief, you may need to look around to find the right practitioner for you.

Evidence for Massage

The long history of massage is full of anecdotal evidence of its healing power, but there have not been many scientific studies conducted about the topic. A study published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine in 2007 reviewed previous research on massage and pain relief, and found the strongest evidence for massage as a way to decrease non-specific lower back pain. Shoulder pain and headaches also responded fairly well to massage.

How does massage relieve pain? In a 2010 study, researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles found that massage made people produce lower amounts of hormones responsible for stress and inflammation.

Chronic Pain

Many people with chronic pain turn to massage for relief. The International Association for the Study of Pain defines chronic pain as continuous or recurrent, and persisting for about three months or more. Chronic pain can affect a certain body part, such as your back, or can be tied to a more general all-over condition, such as fibromyalgia.

Arthritis

After massage, some arthritis sufferers report improvements in range of motion, hand grip strength and joint function as well as decreased pain and finger stiffness. A 2010 study published in the International Journal of Neuroscience concluded that moderate to light pressure produced the best results for patients with arthritis.

Massage and Chiropractic

Because massage decreases pain in many patients, chiropractors often incorporate massage into the treatment plan. This could be a short massage delivered by the chiropractor along with spinal adjustments. Or, if the patient needs a longer massage or specific techniques outside the chiropractor’s repertoire, the patient might schedule a visit with an outside massage therapist. Nowadays, holistic professionals with different expertise often opt to share space. A chiropractor and massage therapist working together pool their knowledge and optimize their patients’ healing.

If you’d like to see how chiropractic and massage complement each other, call our clinic today. We can help you feel your best.

Lifestyle Practices

While spinal manipulation is a chiropractor’s primary tool, functional medicine chiropractors also assess their patients’ lifestyles. Chiropractic care that focuses on functional medicine is holistic. This means that when you visit a functional medicine chiropractor, he or she will want to know about other aspects of your life in addition to performing a physical exam. Your initial visit will probably include filling out a questionnaire and having a long chat with your chiropractor about your physical condition, work, family relationships, diet and activity level. Based on this information, your functional medicine chiropractor might recommend various lifestyle interventions to improve your health.

Conditions Improved by Lifestyle Interventions

Lifestyle changes can prevent or improve many chronic diseases, including high blood pressure, obesity, osteoporosis, coronary heart disease and some types of cancer. For example, many people who suffer from type-2 diabetes are able to reduce or eliminate their reliance on medications by exercising more and improving their diets.

Types of Lifestyle Interventions

Diet

Your chiropractor might identify nutritional deficiencies in your diet. He or she might suggest upping your protein consumption and decreasing your fat or salt intake, or eating whole grains instead of refined carbs. Chiropractors might also recommend dietary supplements, such as certain herbs or multivitamins.

Exercise

Many Americans go from desk to car to couch. Your chiropractor can help you find realistic ways to work exercise into your busy schedule. Regular exercise can reduce chronic pain as well as help prevent or alleviate certain health conditions.

Smoking

Everybody knows smoking is a bad idea. Although quitting smoking is hard, the benefits of stopping this habit are exponential. If you smoke, your chiropractor may discuss ways to help you eliminate the habit for good. It’s never too late to quit smoking.

Alcohol Use

Even people who don’t usually overindulge might occasionally turn to alcohol to cope with stress or in certain social situations. Your chiropractor can help you assess how much you drink and whether it’s adversely affecting your life. If so, you can discuss ways to limit or stop drinking.

Stress Management

Most people have a hard time keeping up with all the demands made on them by others and by themselves. A chiropractor can recommend ways to deal with stress, whether that means yoga, tai chi, meditation or a little quiet time in nature.

Do you feel like your overall health could be better? Are the demands of life overwhelming you? Call our clinic, and we will discuss lifestyle interventions to maximize your health.

Yoga

The physical poses that come to mind when most Americans think of yoga originated thousands of years ago in India. Originally they served to make the body strong and supple enough — and the mind patient enough — to sit for long bouts of meditation. Nowadays, people practice yoga poses for various reasons, including improving their strength and flexibility, decreasing stress and pain and relieving depression.

Yoga and Pain

Pain can be divided into two main categories: acute and chronic. Acute pain happens suddenly, such as when you slam your hand in a car door. Chronic pain is more complicated and long lasting. Science used to look only for physical sources of chronic pain. Now researchers think that, while chronic pain has roots in the physical, attitudes, emotions, thoughts and stress level sustain it.

Since yoga can help manage stress, and chronic pain thrives on stress, yoga may reduce chronic pain. Yoga breathing and simple postures may quell your anxiety and dampen your body’s fight-or-flight response.

Neuroplasticity

“Neuroplasticity” is the nervous system’s ability to learn from experience. How do you use it to your advantage? Teach the body and mind healthier responses to stressful situations. Just as chronic pain can be an adaptation to the physical and emotional stressors placed on the body, practices like yoga can change the body by introducing new experiences. If, from now on, you consistently respond to new stressors with deep breathing rather than exercising a negative reaction, your body and brain will start to change.

A Restorative Practice

As yoga has become more popular, a mind-boggling array of classes has popped up. Beginners may be too confused by the difference between Ashtanga and Iyengar to make it to a single class. Or, they might take one class only to wind up in a grossly inappropriate session, thus making them swear off yoga forever. One size does not fit all. If you’re a newbie, and especially if you’re dealing with chronic pain or other limitations, look for clues like “beginning,” “level one” or “gentle” in the class description.

Restorative yoga is especially good for people suffering from chronic pain. This style of yoga is extremely slow and quiet. You’ll mostly hold relaxing positions supported by bolsters, blocks and other props for up to 10 minutes. Many people find they can let go of stress and tension in a restorative yoga class.

If you’re looking for a way to relieve your chronic pain or other health conditions, yoga may help. Ask your functional medicine chiropractor to suggest an appropriate class for you.

Tai Chi

Tai chi is a gentle form of exercise that evolved from martial arts. First developed in China, people all over the world now enjoy the health benefits of this slow, flowing practice. You might see students practicing tai chi outside, in parks or on beaches

The word “chi” means life force in Chinese. While there are now many different types of tai chi, all focus on optimizing the movement of life energy in the body. In less metaphysical terms, learning tai chi can improve your joint movement, ease pain and decrease stress.

Tai Chi and Pain Relief

Because tai chi is a slow, low-impact activity, many people with joint pain can safely do it. In a typical class, you might see students who are 80 or 90 years old. Many anecdotal accounts testify that tai chi relieves arthritic pain in joints, and the Mayo Clinic agrees that some evidence suggests tai chi can reduce joint pain. One study published in a 2009 issue of Arthritis Care & Research showed that tai chi improved pain and disability for patients with arthritis.

Other Benefits                                                      

In addition to improving musculoskeletal function, tai chi has many other benefits. Tai chi includes complex big and small movements, with arms moving in different directions while transitioning weight from foot to foot. This helps students improve balance.

According to the Mayo Clinic, other benefits include increased aerobic capacity, stamina, flexibility, agility and muscle strength as well as decreased anxiety and stress. Many people like the meditative aspect of tai chi.

Learning Tai Chi

While plenty of books and videos explain tai chi, it’s best to learn from an experienced teacher. A teacher gives you feedback you won’t get from a video. This way, you’ll learn proper technique and maximize your health benefits.

Many community centers and fitness clubs offer tai chi lessons. Be sure to start with a beginning class, and alert the teacher to your physical condition and limitations.

More advanced practitioners can do tai chi on their own. However, people often enjoy the social benefits of practicing with a group.

Many chiropractic patients can safely do tai chi. Talk to your chiropractor about how this ancient form of moving meditation can improve your health.

Strength Training

Whatever your age, strength training is an activity that provides many health benefits for both men and women. Strength training can be done by people who are in good health, as well as by those who have health concerns — such as arthritis or chronic pain.

Combined with regular aerobic exercise, doing an activity like lifting weights two or more times a week can improve your mental, emotional and physical health.

Health Conditions That Benefit From Strength Training

Strength training is known to reduce the symptoms of several health problems and chronic diseases, such as:

  • Arthritis, including osteoarthritis
  • Back pain and other types of pain
  • Depression
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Osteoporosis

Benefits of Strength Training

While some of the benefits of strength training are for older men and women, it is never too early to start. The major benefits of strength training include:

  • Increased muscle strength. Without use, our muscles waste away as we age. Regular strength training can keep your muscles strong well into the post-retirement years. This can have a profound impact on your ability to function in your daily life.
  • Improved balance and reduced falls. Simple strength and balance training can improve your balance. This can reduce the risk of falling, which is a common problem for older people. Bone fractures from falls can lead to permanent disability and may even lead to death.
  • Stronger bones. Lifting weights or doing other types of resistance exercises puts stress on the bones. In response, the bones grow stronger (denser). This reduces the risk of bone fractures. Post-menopausal women, in particular, can benefit, because they lose 1 to 2 percent of their bone mass each year.
  • Weight control. Building muscle also increases how many calories you burn, because muscle tissue is very active. For this reason, strength training can boost your metabolism, which can help you lose weight or maintain a healthy weight.
  • Improved glucose control. Millions of Americans have type-2 diabetes, a condition that involves elevated levels of glucose in the blood. Left untreated, this condition can lead to heart or kidney problems, and even blindness. Strength training reduces the risk of these conditions by improving the glucose levels in the blood.
  • Better moods and sleep. Like aerobic exercise, strength training can improve your mood, self-confidence and self-esteem. In addition, regular exercise can help you sleep better. Together, these add up to a better overall quality of life.
  • Stronger heart muscle. The muscles of your arms and legs are not the only ones that benefit from strength training. Your heart will also grow stronger with exercise, which shows up as improved aerobic capacity. Even cardiac patients can benefit from doing this type of physical activity three times a week.

Strength Training Recommendations

It is never too early or too late to start a strength training program. Adults should aim for doing this as least two days a week. The exercises should work all the major muscle groups of the body.

Strength training often involves lifting weights. But other types of resistance exercises also work well — such as using exercise bands or doing bodyweight exercises, such as push-ups or crunches.

If you are physically inactive, have an existing health condition or have concerns about your health, check with your doctor before starting any exercise program.

Mind-Body Techniques

When it comes to staying healthy, your body is not the only piece of the puzzle. Your mind — and its connection to your body — have an important role to play as well.

The Mind-Body Connection

This mind-body connection means that your thoughts, feelings, attitudes and beliefs can all affect the state of your body — both negatively and positively.

However, it’s not just the mind that affects the body. Your physical state can also change how you think or feel. This includes the foods that you eat, how much you exercise and how well you sleep.

In fact, the mind is in constant communication with all parts of your body — the brain and nervous system, the immune system, the endocrine (hormone) system and all of your organs.

Because of the importance of the mind for good health, many doctors now recommend taking a mind-body approach to overall wellness alongside undergoing traditional medical treatments.

Types of Mind-Body Techniques             

The list of mind-body therapies and practices, which help the mind and body work together to support healing, is extensive and include:

  • Biofeedback
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Creative arts therapies (art, music or dance)
  • Guided imagery
  • Hypnotherapy (hypnosis)
  • Meditation
  • Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR)
  • Patient support groups
  • Prayer
  • Qigong
  • Relaxation
  • Tai chi
  • Yoga

Conditions Treated by Mind-Body Therapies

Mind-body techniques can be used — alongside traditional medicine — to treat many conditions, including:

  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder
  • Chronic pain
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Depression
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Headaches
  • Loss of urinary control (incontinence)
  • Panic disorders
  • Stress and anxiety

The mind-body practices can also help people get ready for surgery and cope with the symptoms of many diseases and their treatment, including cancer.

Benefits of Mind-Body Therapies

But mind-body therapies are not just for people who are sick. These practices provide many benefits even before illness appears, such as:

  • An improved ability to cope with stress
  • Increased mental clarity
  • Less muscle tension
  • Mental calmness
  • Overall wellness
  • Physical relaxation

To learn more about how mind-body techniques can help optimize your overall wellbeing, contact us for an appointment.

Stress Management

Most people have experienced stress at some point in their life. However, what you may not realize is that stress can also have a big impact on your health.

Stress can cause many of the symptoms that you blame on illness — such as difficulty sleeping, depression or even changes in your sex drive.

The good news is that you can often eliminate or decrease those symptoms, simply by learning how to manage your stress.

Common Signs of Stress

Stress can affect your body, mood and behavior. Here’s how.

Effects of stress on your body:

  • Backache
  • Chest pain or tightness
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Headache
  • Lack of energy
  • Loss of interest in sex
  • Pain or tension in your muscles
  • Tiredness
  • Upset stomach

Effects of stress on your mood:

  • Anger or irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Depression or sadness
  • Feeling unfocused or unmotivated
  • Frustration
  • Loneliness
  • Restlessness

Effects of stress on your behavior:

  • Angry outbursts
  • Blaming others
  • Drug or alcohol abuse
  • Eating too much or too little
  • Smoking tobacco
  • Withdrawing from friends and family

Steps for Managing Your Stress

You can’t always eliminate the stress in your life. Nonetheless, you can change how you react to whatever is causing the stress.

Here are some steps you can take to catch stress earlier, and deal with it before it gets out of control:

  • Monitor your stress
  • Identify what’s causing your stress
  • Use stress management strategies
  • Stay physically active
  • Reconnect with friends and family
  • Have some fun

Stress Management Strategies

There are many stress management strategies available to help you get your stress under control. For the best chance of success, find one that works for you. These include:

  • Establishing a coping method for stress
  • Deep breathing
  • Exercise and physical activity
  • Meditation
  • Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR)
  • Relaxation techniques
  • Tai chi
  • Yoga

You will get better results from these if you also eat healthfully, reduce your intake of caffeine and alcohol, skip the cigarettes and get enough sleep.

If you are not sure whether your physical or mental symptoms are due to stress, see your doctor. While stress is often the cause of these symptoms, other health conditions may also be involved.

This is especially important if you have chest pain that is accompanied by any of the following symptoms:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Pain spreading into your shoulder and arm
  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness

These could be warning signs of a heart attack. If you have any of these, seek emergency help immediately.

To find out more about how managing stress can improve your general wellbeing, contact us for an appointment.

Aromatherapy

Scents play an important role in our lives. The pungent smell of certain spices can bring on hunger cravings. The aroma of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies may trigger long-forgotten childhood memories.

However, certain smells may also have health benefits, from relieving pain to reducing depression. The use of scents — most often essential oils extracted from plants — to heal is called aromatherapy.

What Is Aromatherapy?

Although we are all affected by many different scents, aromatherapists use ones specifically designed to promote health and wellbeing. These highly concentrated essential oils are extracted from various parts of plants.

The oils can be used directly or indirectly. Often the scent is spread through the air with an essential oil diffuser or by putting a few drops of oil in hot water. The oils can also be added to massage lotions, bath salts or even directly into bath water.

Essential oils work by triggering the smell receptors in the nose. The nervous system picks up that signal and carries it to the brain, where it activates the part of the brain involved in emotions.

The health benefits of aromatherapy are thought to come from the effects that the oils have on our emotions. In a way, this allows the smell of the essential oils to bypass the thinking parts of our brain and directly change how we feel.

Types of Essential Oils

Some of the most common essential oils used for their health benefits include:

  • Bergamot
  • Chamomile
  • Clary sage
  • Citrus
  • Green apple
  • Frankincense
  • Jasmine
  • Lavender
  • Neroli
  • Peppermint
  • Rose
  • Sandalwood
  • Vanilla
  • Ylang ylang

Benefits of Aromatherapy

Most often, essential oils are used to uplift your mood or wake you up. Although medical studies of aromatherapy are limited, these oils may have other health benefits, such as:

  • Reducing pain, such as during medical procedures, migraines or arthritis
  • Stabilizing the heart rate and blood pressure
  • Improving sleep
  • Lowering levels of depression and anxiety, even during labor
  • Improving quality of life, especially for people with chronic diseases

Side Effects of Essential Oils

Essential oils are safe when used as directed. It is unknown, though, whether essential oils will interact with other treatments or prescription drugs, so be sure to let your healthcare provider or aromatherapist know if you are undergoing other medical treatments or taking medications.

Because the oils are so highly concentrated, some people may develop a rash or allergic reaction when the oils come in contact with their skin. Other people may develop headaches or nausea from smelling these highly potent oils.

Children may be more sensitive to the side effects of essential oils. Women who are pregnant or breast-feeding should check with their doctor before using them.

For many people, finding the essential oils that work best is a matter of trying them out. However, this is often the most fun part and may even bring up fond memories from long ago.

About the Functional Medicine Approach

With functional medicine, the physician treats the mind and body as a whole, and collaborates with the patients’ other healthcare and wellness practitioners, for a comprehensive treatment approach. For instance, instead of simply prescribing pain relievers to address a painful symptom, the functional medicine practitioner strives to diagnose and treat the root cause of the pain. A functional medicine practitioner understands that the mind, body and spirit are connected and that each component must be functioning well for the body to function well overall.

To learn more about taking a functional medicine approach to chiropractic care, please visit the pages below.

We Offer the Following Services

Doctors of Chiropractic – often referred to as chiropractors or chiropractic physicians – practice a drug-free, hands-on approach to health care that includes patient examination, diagnosis and treatment. Chiropractors have broad diagnostic skills and are also trained to recommend therapeutic and rehabilitative exercises, as well as to provide nutritional, dietary and lifestyle counseling.

Here is a brief overview of the array of specialized services offered by our clinic. Please take some time, and explore what we have to offer.

Chiropractic Manipulation San Antonio
Functional Integrative Medicine San Antonio
Acupuncture Services San Antonio
Massage Therapy San Antonio

Schedule an Appointment Online

or call (210) 340-2150 to make an appointment

Meet Our Team
Dr. Lara Sweeney, DC
Dr. J. Lara Sweeney, DC IFMCP

Dr. Lara Sweeney has an impressive array of training, education, and certification. More ...

Dr. Jay Sweeney, DC
Dr. Jay Sweeney, DC DABCA

Dr. Jay Sweeney has an impressive array of training, education, and certification. More ...

Michelle Anderson
Michelle Anderson, LMT

Michelle has over 19 years massage & soft-tissue experience & is versed in a wide range of techniques More ...

Amanda Hughes
Amanda Hughes

Amanda is our "Go-to" person for all things "food"; whatever you might need from the world of diet and nutrition, she is eager to help.

Contact Us

Our friendly and knowledgeable staff is ready to help you! If you should call our office outside of our regular business hours or otherwise get our voicemail, please leave a message, and we will get back with you as soon as appropriate.

Please Call our office:

(210) 340-2150

Our office hours are:

Monday through Thursday
9:00am – 1:00pm and 3:00pm – 5:30pm

Friday
9:00am – 1:00pm

Weekends & Holidays
Closed

We Accept:

cards

Proudly serving San Antonio and all of our South Texas neighbors:

Alamo Heights, Bandera, Blanco, Boerne, Buda, Bulverde, Canyon Lake, Castle Hills, Cibolo, Converse, Fair Oaks Ranch, Garden Ridge, Grey Forrest, Helotes, Hill Country Village, Hollywood Park, Hondo, Indian Hills, Kerrville, Kirby, Kyle, Leon Valley, Live Oak, Lockhart, New Braunfels, Olmos Park, Pleasanton, San Marcos, Schertz, Seguin, Selma, Shavano Park, Stone Oak, Terrell Hills, Universal City,

Our Address

1931 NW Military Hwy.
Suite 204
Castle Hills, TX 78213

Our building “The Pavilions at Castle Hills”, is located at the corner of NW Military Hwy. and Sunflower in Castle Hills. It’s a two-story brown brick building; “First Serve Tennis”, “Bicycle Heaven”, and “Hearing Aid Labs” occupy the front. Our office is located on the second floor, on the back side of the building. Plenty of parking is available in both the front and rear lots. There are stairways located at either end of the building; and for your convenience, there is an elevator located on the back side of the building, at the end of the south tunnel.