Acupuncture for the Modern Athlete: Dry Needling for Trigger Point Pain

acupuncture for trigger points

Using acupuncture needles to deactivate trigger points

Once a trigger point is located, we use thin needles to release them. This has been found to be one of the most effective ways of treating trigger point related pain and dysfunction. By deactivating the trigger point, we restore normal function to the muscle and reduce referred pain in other parts of the body. Athletes benefit from dry needle trigger point therapy in the following ways: 

  • Pain relief 
  • Restoring normal muscle function
  • Improving circulation
  • Improving range of motion

If you are interested in using acupuncture for trigger point pain, give our office in Park Slope a call to schedule an appointment today. 

Seasonal Depression: What You Need to Know

seasonal depression

From winter fatigue to seasonal affective disorder, the grey months have a tendency of getting us down. 

And there is a perfectly logical biological explanation: the shortage of daylight hours upends the hormone that controls sleep and waking cycles and leaves you feeling less energetic toward life. The hormone, known as melatonin, may be produced in greater quantities due to the lack of light, and this has a direct effect on mood and energy. There is nothing we can do about the quality of light during winter, so managing your seasonal depression demands a multi-dimensional strategy.

Exercising the factors that are within our control to fight seasonal depression: addressing your lifestyle.  

  • Diet: a major factor in seasonal depression is a lowering of energy. There are foods we can use to add energy in and substances we can limit that take energy out. 

  • Exercise: besides getting your heart rate up and your endorphins rushing, exercise gets you outside to reap what little natural light is available and this goes a long way toward fighting seasonal depression. 

  • Environment: sit next to open windows, light candles and relax; fight stress on all fronts! This is the best way you can keep the incursions of seasonal depression at bay. 

Boosting vitality with chiropractic and acupuncture in order to fend off seasonal depression.

Limiting the effect or degree to which seasonal depression affects your life comes down to making healthy decisions and managing stress; these are two major ways we specialize in helping you adjust your lifestyle for the change of season. If seasonal depression has got you feeling listless or apathetic, click here to find out how our treatments balance the body and energize the mind

Dr. Karen Thomas, D.C.

Acupuncture for Fertility

fertility chiropractic

Acupuncture is the practice of gently inserting thin needles into strategic points along the body. There are fourteen major pathways known as meridians which regulate the flow of qi, or energy, throughout the body and its internal organs. In this immense network, there are over 2,000 points that can be used to treat all forms of body disharmony. For couples looking to become pregnant, acupuncture increases the chance of conception without the side effects associated with fertility drugs.

I am excited about acupuncture’s role in treating infertility. Acupuncture facilitates enhanced blood flow to the uterus and ovaries, which means a higher amount of nutrients flowing to the egg.  It reduces stress and balances the endocrine system, which is vital to a woman’s chance of conceiving.

When stress is reduced, great things happen! Acupuncture reduces stress, which is linked to fertility in both men and women. When stress is elevated, the hormone cortisol is released in higher volumes, creating endocrine system imbalance. This balance is vital to the entire conception process. Acupuncture stimulates the release of endorphins in the brain, which negates the effects of cortisol release. Your mood will improve and so will your chances of pregnancy.

Fertility drugs do improve pregnancy chances, but are linked to side effects such as bloating, weight gain and nausea. Acupuncture, achieves the same end goal with little to no side effect. It stimulates the hypothalamus to maintain healthy homeostasis, balances the entire endocrine system and regulates reproductive hormones. I have experience and expertise to offer you in your quest to conceive. Call our office in Park Slope today at (718) 398-3100.

Karen A. Thomas D.C., L.Ac.

Replacing coffee with green tea

Green tea is no joke. If you are looking for a way to make an instant positive impact on your overall health, green tea is a great place to start. Excessive caffeine consumption can lead to muscle spasms and back pain. Compared to a cup of black coffee, which generally hovers around 95 mg of caffeine per cup (8 oz.), green tea has considerably less caffeine: between 25-45 mg/cup. However, this disparity is more than offset by the health benefits that you reap from drinking green tea regularly. Besides fighting cardiovascular disease and cancer, besides its positive effect on skin complexion and its well-documented metabolism boosting effects, green tea is also great for back health.  

Green tea is a fat burner. Boosting metabolism is a great way to start losing weight. With less weight to support, the spine is more likely to achieve its maximum health potential. Weight can also cause complications when trying to heal the back from acute injuries.

Drinking green tea helps the body break down toxic compounds, keeping them from harming cellular structures in the body. It backs up the bodies natural supply of antioxidants which fight to keep your cells and molecules healthy and free from the damage of free radicals. Free radicals are molecules that are missing one electron in their outer shell; in order to fill this vacancy, they sometimes take an electron from another cell, resulting in damage to that cell. Damage occurs when free radicals set off a chain reaction and multiple cells are damaged; bones and soft tissue that support the back can be harmed by free radicals.  Antioxidants work to stop these chain reactions. Green tea can help maintain healthy levels of antioxidants, including one of the most potent antioxidants known as Epigallocatechin Gallete.

Though we cannot say that green tea is the healthiest drink on the planet, we can say that replacing coffee with green tea will go a great length to helping your nervous system and overall musculoskeletal health. Green tea is just one example of diet’s affect on your overall well being. In conjunction with our chiropractic and acupuncture services in Park Slope, we offer nutritional advice to keep you feeling healthy and pain free. Our office in Brooklyn can be reached at (718) 398-3100, and we look forward to hearing from you.

Karen A. Thomas D.C., L.Ac.

The Wonders of Potassium

In keeping with the theme of nutrition and how it relates to spinal and overall health, I will highlight potassium, a common and crucial mineral found in the human body. Your body uses potassium to support a whole range of its most crucial functions- neurological signaling, kidney processes and muscle movement. It helps regulate the heart and its distribution of blood throughout the body. While it is recognized for all these effects, a less well-known benefit might be its key role in maintaining bone health. Potassium’s role finds itself in the middle of the fight to maintain fluid balance within and surrounding the cells.

As metabolic processes create acid byproducts, your blood, tissue and other fluids contribute alkaline compounds that they have captured and stored from food to create a steady pH balance. Your bones contain alkaline reserves that act as the last line of defense: when alkaline levels run low in the blood and other fluids, the bones can transfer these reserves to maintain balance. Bone structures are weakened when they are called upon to transfer their alkaline reserves.

This is where potassium steps in. Certain compounds contained within potassium act as alkalizing agents; they can neutralize the acid byproducts. They can be called upon to create fluid balance instead of draining the reserves from your bones, making them weaker. Lifestyle and national dieting trends have both contributed to a chronic shortage of potassium levels in the population. Convenient eating, processed foods and a shift away from eating well-sourced produce puts everyone in danger of potassium deficiency. The recommended daily amount for potassium intake is 4,700 mg for adults. Here are some easy food options that add significant potassium into your diet:

A medium sized baked potato = 800 mg

A medium sized banana= 450 mg

½ cup of avocado= 680 mg

½ cup of tomato paste= 1,221 mg

As we get older, we are already struggling from other factors that seek to weaken our bones. Potassium is a great tool for keeping your bones at optimal strength. Let us help you get the right amount of potassium into your diet. At Community Chiropractic and Acupuncture we practice a complementary approach to health that starts with nutrition. We then build upon this base line of a healthy diet with chiropractic treatment, acupuncture and exercise. If you are interested in finding out more about nutrition and its role in an overall body of health call our office in Brooklyn at (718) 398-3100 .

Karen A. Thomas D.C., L.Ac.

Vitamins and how to find them

Support your spine through vitamin consciousness! We can show you how at Community Chiropractic and Acupuncture in Park Slope.  I want you to know what vitamins do for you and what foods to look for in your search for health. An important part of vitamin intake is making sure that the food you purchase is of a high quality. Many processed, non-organic foods are stripped of the essential nutrients they would otherwise contain. With that being said, here is an alphabetical list of vitamins and how they contribute to back health, followed by what foods contain them.

Vitamin Food Source
A: Immune system support, tissue repair

Dairy, orange fruits and green vegetables

Look for: sweet potatoes and carrots, kale and apricots

B12: Bone marrow support

Red meat, dairy, fish and eggs

Look for: fortified cereals (bran products), fortified milk, shellfish and beef liver

C: Collagen production (helps repair herniated discs and repair tissue). Great for the healing and repair of a worn spine.

Fruit and vegetable

Look for: citrus, tomato, broccoli, green/red peppers

D: Calcium absorption. Keep bones strong and fight osteoporosis!

Look for:Fish oil, sunlight, mushrooms, egg yolks, and fortified milk

K: Calcium complement Look for: Leafy greens, cauliflower, cabbage. Eggs and meat, particularly fish also carry vitamin K in smaller amounts.

Having a healthy complement of all these vitamins is essential to back care, whether you are seeking to repair a damaged spine or prevent injury. There are a world of other benefits to be reaped from having vitamins in the proper proportions. If you are looking for someone in Park Slope to talk to about adding vitamins into your diet, we can help. Contact us at (718) 398-3100 or come and see us at our office in Brooklyn today.

Karen A. Thomas D.C., L.Ac.

Important Nutrients for Back Health: Magnesium and Calcium

At Community Chiropractic and Acupuncture, we believe that the path to recovering health starts with your diet. We offer nutritional counseling and education in support of chiropractic and acupuncture treatments. Many conditions can be reversed through watching what we put into our bodies. By instituting dietary changes, adding in nutrient supplements and changing eating habits, you can restore lost vitality, relieve stress and treat back pain.  Here are a couple ways we can add nutrients into your diet to support a healthy back and a healthy mind.

Magnesium is a natural alternative to prescription medication that can relieve back pain and help with healthful maintenance. In fact, it is a vital element to the maintenance of healthy muscles. Magnesium helps the body to make energy for our muscles. If they do not get enough energy, muscles will contract (think cramping) instead of relaxing. Anyone who is physically active should be taking magnesium supplements to help with recovery and performance. Leafy greens, beans and whole grains are a great way to get magnesium into your diet, but even these might not be enough.

Calcium is another mineral that we need to monitor. As we get older, bone density decreases, and the chances of osteoporosis increase. Adding the proper amount of calcium into your diet can account for this loss. Magnesium and calcium are inverse but complementary nutrients: calcium hardens bones and helps muscles to contract while magnesium keeps bones flexible and helps muscles unwind. This means that balance of these minerals is crucial!

Based on your unique health profile, we can recommend nutritional supplements that can get you the proper amount of nutrients with the correct balance to support total health. Call our office in Brooklyn today at (718) 398-3100 or come see us at our location in Park Slope. Together we can create a health plan that will combat pain and keep you healthy for life.  

(Please note: We offer nutritional counseling in support of Chiropractic & Acupuncture Treatments only. But there is not a nutritionist on staff.)

Karen A. Thomas D.C., L.Ac.

Use Nutrition to Eliminate Stress and Boost your Well-being

stress and nutrition

Nutrition is a huge component of overall physical health- it influences everything from your metabolic rate to body weight, skin complexion and emotional stability. Healthy living starts with healthy eating! Unfortunately, we live in a society where food is made to be ultra-convenient, fast and filling. Fast food companies and supermarket chains use this as an excuse to replace quality nutrition with food products that are simply not good enough. Living with less stress starts with the nutrients and building blocks that you put into your body.

With this in mind I will spend a few blogs elaborating on easy and convenient ways that you can incorporate healthful practices into your every day routine. Nutrition and chiropractic are complementary sciences that can be combined into a dynamic health plan that will improve your well-being.  

One thing that will help cognitive functioning as well as promoting healthy bones and nerves is hydration. So…Drink water! Studies show that 80% of Americans are chronically dehydrated. The body is hugely reliant on water and when it does not receive enough, it has to ration its existing supply, which means that vital organs throughout the body are not getting their recommended amount of H2O. Being just a little bit dehydrated can raise the body’s levels of the stress hormone Cortisol.

Doctors recommend 1 quart of water per 50 pounds of body weight. If this standard is met and maintained you will experience an uptick in the functioning of your brain, nervous system and digestion! Grab a reusable water bottle and make it your companion. Being hydrated is cool.
Remember: Coffee and soda do not count!

At Community Chiropractic and Acupuncture, we want to help you understand nutrition and how it affects your biochemical well being. We offer instruction and monitoring that will help you recover a sense of health that will change your life. We can also recommend vitamin and mineral supplements that you may be missing. Don’t take on the responsibility of changing your diet all alone. Call us at (718) 398-3100 or come on in to our Park Slope office today. By working together, we can change unhealthy habits and replace them with great ones!

Karen A. Thomas D.C., L.Ac.

Why is it important to see a licensed acupuncturist?

Acupuncture is a form of alternative medicine based on a method of study that manipulates strategic points along the body. Together these points form a map known as the energy meridian. When thin needles are inserted into these points, corresponding parts of the body can be isolated and targeted for therapy.

It is important, therefore, to have the treatment performed by a professional who is trained in the application of the science of acupuncture. At Community Chiropractic & Acupuncture, we use acupuncture specifically to treat pain resulting from trauma, sports injuries and repetitive stress injuries. Most studies indicate that needle acupuncture, when practiced regularly by skilled hands, can relieve pain in a matter of weeks.

Acupuncture is one of the safest forms of therapy and has far fewer side effects than traditional methods of treating pain. When combined with sound chiropractic therapy, acupuncture can create a multi-dimensional blueprint for your specific ailment. My team at Community Chiropractic and Acupuncture in Brooklyn wants to show you how acupuncture can be added to your treatment plan in order to weaken the hold that chronic pain has on your life.

Dr. Karen A. Thomas, Chiropractic Neurologist and Licensed Acupuncturist

Exercises to Help Rehabilitate & Strengthen

Here are some excellent back strengthening exercises to help rehabilitate & strengthen your spinal muscles.

First of all a 20 to 30 min Cardio-Vascular warm-up is imperative. Rowing, biking, jump-rope, swimming, elliptical are all good options.

Next, begin with EXTENSOR muscle work & strengthening. These are the muscles (triceps, latts, quads, buttock & back) that help us stand up straight, with straight arms & legs.

It is always best, whenever possible, to do ‘cross-crawl’ exercises. This means opposite arm & leg engagement. For example, imagine throwing a javelin – your eyes will be on the hand in extension & you will be standing on the opposite leg. We are designed this way & it is the best way to exercise.

Finally, wind down w/ flexor muscle exercise – only now do you do any biceps, pect & ab work! And finish w/ a few minutes of stretching.

Plan routine work-outs 3 to 4 times a week. Keep a well aligned spine with chiropractic adjustments & enjoy a long & healthy life!

Dr. Karen A. Thomas Park Slope Community Chiropractic & Acupuncture