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Gout is a common form of arthritis. The condition presents itself as a sudden onset of swelling, redness and pain in and around the joint of the big toe. The condition is caused by high uric acid levels in the blood and the result of this is needle-like crystals formation in and around the joints. In the past two decades, the prevalence of this condition in the United States has been increasing steadily. Approximately 1-2% of the population of the U.S. are estimated to suffer from the disease.
The most common causes of gout include consumption of a diet high in protein, being male in gender, having a family history of gout, excessive alcohol consumption, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diuretic use, obesity, uric acid overproduction and metabolic syndrome. Treatment for gout varies depending on whether the condition is chronic or acute. Complementary therapies such as massage are commonly sought in addition to the available medical treatments.
Massage focuses on the whole body, but in particular, on areas that experience pain due to diseased joints. It is an ancient therapy designed to enhance the body's natural healing mechanisms. Massage is designed to stimulate the metabolism, improve the circulation of blood to the damaged joints and to the muscular tissue surrounding them, reduce experience of pain, and avoid spasms. Pain relief from massage may be quick or make take numerous massage sessions, depending on the degree of pain experienced.
Acupressure is a form of stiff, deep massage performed only with bare hands. Massage practitioners utilize the palms, thumbs and fingertips to perform the massage. Movements are made with the hands in firm yet smooth manner on specific pressure points on the body. Conventional massage and acupressure differ in that conventional massage adopts use of massage oils.
While massage may be an ancient therapy, there is sufficient evidence to prove its effectiveness. Much of the research into massage focuses on osteoarthritis caused by gout-related generative joint changes in the big toe, foot, ankles, knees, fingers, elbows and wrists. The Touch Research Institute based at the University of Miami investigated the effectiveness of massage on wrist/hand arthritis in 22 adults. Participants in the massage group received massage on the area affected by arthritis once a week for four weeks in duration and also performed self-massage on the area on a daily basis. Participants in the massage group reported less pain and greater relief from their arthritis than participants in the other research group.
Adam I. Perlman, Alyse Sabina, Anna-Leila Williams, Valentine Yanchou Njike and David L. Katz conducted a randomized controlled trial into the effectiveness of massage therapy for osteoarthritis of the knee joint, a joint commonly affected by gout. The study involved 68 adults, all of whom were confirmed to have been suffering from osteoarthritis of the knee, were split into two groups: a treatment group and a control group. Those in the treatment group received twice-weekly Swedish massage therapy during weeks 1-4 and once-weekly massage sessions during weeks 5-8. The control group received what was described as delayed intervention. The results of the study, published in 2006, demonstrated significantly reduced experience of pain and improved functionality of the knee in the treatment group. This led researchers to conclude that massage therapy appeared to be effective in the treatment of arthritis of the knee joint.
While, at present, there are no cures for gout, massage can help to control the symptoms of gout and aid sufferers in maintaining a normal lifestyle whenever they experience a gout flare-up.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can originate from various causes ranging from aggression to violence or disasters. Any situation causing emotional, physical or mental trauma can result in PTSD. The use of acupuncture for PTSD has been scientifically proven to show reduced anxiety levels and stress in individuals. Through such Chinese forms of treatment, it is easier for affected individuals to regain composure in daily life activities.
Typically acupuncture for PTSD is administered by stimulating specific auricular points in the body. These points of the body are responsible for controlling particular brain areas that help control nervous functioning as well as mitigate stress levels. Many soldiers who have been victims of PTSD after violent wars are being treated with acupuncture to provide successful results. Recently, the Pentagon has been investigating the beneficial effects of acupuncture for PTSD on soldiers affected with this condition. As per findings from recent trials, it has been found that combat veterans were relieved of their symptoms and experienced reduced depression, as well as pain. The improvements due to acupuncture were also found to be very rapid and significant.
Many natural remedies are used to treat PTSD disorders in affected individuals. However, out of all these remedies acupuncture seems to be most effective for treatment. Different studies like those conducted by Dr. Hollifield at Department of Psychiatry in University of New Mexico, show that acupuncture can be used successfully as natural treatment for PTSD symptoms like depression, anxiety, insomnia as well as pain originating from psychosomatic disorders. The healing effects of acupuncture last over three months post-treatment. Unlike other conventional psychiatric treatments that are exposure-oriented (in that they require patients to reconstruct traumatic incidents), acupuncture for PTSD does not expose the patient to such elements and hence is safer and non-intrusive.
Studies conducted by the Pentagon have revealed that most soldiers affected by PTSD would be more inclined to accept non-exposure treatments such as acupuncture for PTSD. The biggest reason for this is because the soldiers need not share such traumatic experiences with their psychiatrist. Besides, acupuncture has been revealed to provide rapid benefits to patients through faster healing. Ear acupuncture on veteran soldiers located in Vermont has helped many overcome sleep disorders originating due to PTSD. The benefits of acupuncture for PTSD has translated into greater word of mouth as more people recommend acupuncture as a successful alternative medicine and treatment to conventional treatments.
As per a recent collaboration between Nityamo Lian DOM and another student from International Institute of Chinese Medicine, there has been the development of a conventional "point prescription" mode of treatment along with scope for individual variation. Thus, while the standard treatment details a holistic set of points in the body that need stimulation through acupuncture, these point treatments can also be customized to suit individual cases. Persons with severe PTSD symptoms might require a slightly different form of acupuncture as compared to those persons with milder symptoms.
Hyperglycemia is a condition where a person's blood sugar level is higher than they should be. Fasting blood sugar levels for a normal person are between 70-100mg per deciliter. After eating a meal, they generally do not get higher than 150mg. Anything over 180mg is cause for concern. As opposed to that, hypoglycemia is where a person's blood sugar level is 65mgs or lower.
Both of these conditions are detrimental to good health. A person with consistent high blood sugar may eventually develop diabetes and require medication to keep their blood sugar levels in check. Someone with low blood sugar levels will experience decreasing mental functions and adverse physical side effects up to and including seizures.
Both hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia are dietary problems in nature, which comes from eating too many foods that cause the blood sugar to rise or not getting enough food to supply the energy your cells need. There are several ways you can correct either condition. Your doctor will usually recommend that you first make changes to your diet and exercise regimen to help you maintain healthy sugar levels.
Another reason for abnormally high or low sugar levels in the blood is due to the action of insulin. Insulin helps cells absorb the sugar in your blood. If you produce too much of it or not enough, you will experience hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia respectively. Depending on the severity of your condition, you may be prescribed medication.
One question that comes up frequently from suffers of either issue is whether or not massage is helpful for controlling blood sugar levels. Massage therapy is a manipulation of the body for health and wellness purposes. Practitioners utilize their hands to work the body using a variety of techniques including kneading the muscles and stroking the skin. It is known for improving circulation, reducing tension, and alleviating pain.
Diabetics have reported that massage helped reduce their blood sugar levels by as much as 100 points. Some have also reported they have been able to maintain healthy sugar levels when they get massages on a regular basis. This may be true for one important reason: massage helps reduce stress. When a person is under stress, a chemical is produced in the body called cortisol. It is secreted by the adrenal gland and one of its primary functions is to increase blood sugar in order to provide the body with the energy it needs to handle whatever crisis is happening. Unfortunately, people find themselves under constant stress which can lead to hyperglycemia because cortisol actually counteracts the effects of insulin. Getting a regular massage helps reduce stress levels and the resulting production of cortisol thereby lowering the amount of sugar in the blood and giving insulin a chance to so its work.
Research conducted by the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami School of Medicine found that test subjects that underwent massage therapy experienced a 31% decrease in cortisol levels.
Massage is also good for improving circulation, which is important in people with high blood sugar levels. Too much sugar in the blood slows down the circulatory system which in turn causes problems such as diabetic neuropathy and atherosclerosis. These conditions can lead to loss of feeling in the extremities (hands and feet), blindness, and heart failure.
Maintaining good circulation is the key to preventing these side effects if you suffer from blood sugar problems. Getting a massage on a regular basis from a professional is an easy way to lower your stress levels and promote good circulation for optimum health and wellbeing.
Migraine sufferers seek help from acupuncture clinics on a daily basis. Many find that this method of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) offers symptom relief unparalleled by oral medications. This ancient therapy is becoming more widespread in the 21st century and can replace expensive arsenals of medications including prophylactics, tricyclic agents, muscle relaxants, beta-blockers, and painful injections. Patients who know their onset symptoms can even use acupuncture to avert severe headaches.
Statistics show that approximately 70 millions Americans report suffering from recurring headaches. More than 25 million of these victims have been diagnosed with migraines. Traditional Chinese Medicine can supplement, or in some cases replace, Western medicine as a means for these patients to function normally from day-to-day. TCM has the advantage of being linked to none of the unwanted side effects that come with traditional drug prescriptions.
The philosophy behind TCM revolves around the balance of the Yin and Yang, utilizing our vital energy (Qi) as it traverses the system of meridians in our body. The Yang energy tends to flow up and away from our core. Since the Yang meridians intersect in the head, a deficiency of Qi here indicates a blockage of the Yang meridians and can cloud our mind and cause pain or headaches. Acupuncture works to clear these blockages, harmonizing our organs, and reestablishing a balance of Yin and Yang.
A skilled practitioner uses thin needles to apply pressure to various acupuncture points along the skin. This technique is especially effective for relieving tension in muscles around the neck and shoulders. The treatment is repeated twice a week for a month or so until the pain relief becomes long-lasting.
A series of clinical trials that date back as far as 1970 shed some light as to the mechanism behind the relief that acupuncture provides. Researchers have found that acupuncture can be used to regulate serotonin and other neurotransmitters in our body. Low serotonin levels leave patients more vulnerable to migraines, so acupuncture is used to speed the release of serotonin in the brain and spinal cord. Furthermore, biochemical studies revealed that acupuncture affects acetylcholinesterase activity in the blood, magnesium concentrations in blood serum, and endogenous opioid release in the central nervous system, all of which reduce the symptoms of migraines, tension headaches, and cluster headaches.
Additionally, Dr. Jisheng Han discovered the electrically stimulated acupuncture needles release endorphins into the central nervous system. These natural pain killers are responsible for the lessening of headache pain, and are being further studied at the acupuncture research program for Acupuncture-induced Analgesia (AA) in China.
An article published by Capobianco et al in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings of 1996 indicated that migraine headaches are affecting a 60% larger population every decade. The estimated economic losses due to inhibited productivity are as high as $17.2 million annually. Acupuncture has now been established as an effective and drug-free means of managing migraines and the corresponding symptoms. Additionally, TCM offers a combination of acupuncture, herbal medicine, and Qi Gong therapies that can be personalized for each patient, resulting in a more effective treatment of his or her condition.
The back and neck constitute a large part of the body. These two areas are prone to tension accumulation and when this occurs, it can cause the affected individual great physical and psychological pain. Acute lower back pain, described as pain which has lasted less than six weeks in duration, may resolve itself with little or no intervention. However, lower back pain which is sub-acute or chronic, lasting longer than six weeks in duration, is likely to require greater focus.
There are several forms of massage for lower back pain. Classic (Swedish) massage and Thai massage have been proven to relieve chronic lower back pain. Classic massage is a technique that relaxes muscles in the area in receipt of the massage therapy through the application of pressure. The area is rubbed in the direction in which blood flows back to the heart. Thai massage, on the other hand, is a technique which pulls and stretches the area of the back and neck. Massage oils may be used to reduce friction during massage.
Massage is associated with improved blood circulation and this is thought to aid the recovery of muscle strains and pains. Massage relaxes the muscles, allowing them to achieve an improved motion range. This relaxation of the muscles is indicated as beneficial in the prevention of insomnia. Massage results in an increase in the levels of endorphins in the body, the chemicals associated with improved mental well-being, and it is this that leads to the effectiveness for managing chronic back pain.
A study conducted in 2001 by researchers at the Touch Research Institute based at the University of Miami found massage for lower back pain to be effective in reducing the experience of pain. Massage was also found to improve mental well-being by lessening feelings of depression and anxiety and by enhancing sleep.
More recently, researchers working for the Cochrane Collaboration analyzed a range of studies into the effects of massage for lower back pain. All the studies they looked into compared massage with a dummy treatment, a different treatment, or no treatment at all. The aim of the analysis was to discover the ways in which massage affected an individual's general well-being, quality of life, mobility, experience of pain and back-specific function. The trials investigated led to researchers to come to the conclusion that a combination of massage for lower back pain and exercises were more effective than massage for lower back pain alone. The subjects who had received massages for lower back pains in combination with exercise therapy were generally more mobile and experienced less pain overall.
The majority of healthcare practitioners recognize massage for lower back and neck pain as beneficial and actively encourage patients with back and neck pain to seek therapy as a complementary treatment.
Acupuncture combined with substance abuse counseling and group therapy programs is effective for treating drug and alcohol users. It produces a calm, yet alert feeling, reduces withdrawal symptoms, and decreases future cravings. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioners use techniques like acupuncture, herbal remedies, and massage to treat and prevent disease and illness in the human body.
Acupuncture involves stimulating specific points on the body by inserting metal needles through the skin to restore balance in the body. A person's life force, or qi, flows through the body and provides energy, blood flow, and a feeling of wellness. When that flow is disturbed or interrupted, it results in illness and/or disease. There are certain meridians, or pathways, along the body, each representing a different area of the body.
Depending on the condition of the patient, a TCM practitioner may use herbal remedies in conjunction with acupuncture. Moxibustion is the practice of burning herbs near an acupuncture point. Massage techniques like rubbing, cupping, and pressing may also be used around specific acupuncture points.
Auricular acupuncture is popular among practitioners who treat substance abuse patients. The practitioner positions thin needles on points in the ear while the patient relaxes for 20 to 30 minutes. The National Institute on Drug Abuse recommends ear placement in points that correspond with the traditional points of the kidneys, lungs, liver, and sympathetic nervous system.
In a 1989 study, practitioners treated 80 severe alcoholics. They treated 40 people with auricular acupuncture combined with substance abuse counseling. They treated the other 40 people with only substance abuse counseling. Twenty-one of the 40 people who received acupuncture combined with counseling completed the program while only one of the 40 people receiving substance abuse counseling alone completed the program. Six months after study completion, the patients receiving both acupuncture and counseling were twice as likely to remain alcohol free.
Located in New York City, the Lincoln Clinic has used acupuncture to treat drug and alcohol addicts for years. Practitioners there use acupuncture along with counseling, urine testing, and a 12-step group therapy program. Acupuncture helps relieve withdrawal symptoms and produces a calming, relaxing effect on patients, which helps fight drug and alcohol cravings. Patients of the Lincoln Clinic report that acupuncture treatment produces a strong calming effect while still feeling remarkably alert.
The success of acupuncture treatment on substance abusers has spurred some courts to order acupuncture as part of a comprehensive drug rehabilitation program. As a result, the judicial system has found that substance abusers who receive acupuncture treatment along with counseling and vocational training are less likely to reappear in court on similar charges than substance abusers who are sentenced to prison.
Acupuncture combined with substance abuse counseling and group therapy programs is effective for treating drug and alcohol users. It produces a calm, yet alert feeling, reduces withdrawal symptoms, and decreases future cravings.
Unlike Western medicine, traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), focuses on the body as a whole, focusing on the interactions between the body, spirit and mind. TCM seeks to discover the underlying cause of health problems, as opposed to attempting solely to treat the symptoms of disease. TCM and acupuncture for fertility is of particular importance for men and women who are attempting to conceive yet experience high levels of stress on a daily basis. This is because high levels of stress are not conducive to conception. TCM and acupuncture for fertility can aid relaxation and assist the body in functioning more efficiently.
The majority of couples attempting to conceive look towards TCM and acupuncture for fertility once they have failed to conceive after having regular sexual intercourse over a period of one year or greater. After this time, it is assumed that there is a problem with fertility levels and this is when a couple should consult a TCM practitioner, a fertility expert or both. Acupuncture for fertility involves tapping into the energy channels of the body through the insertion of fine needles into the external layer of the skin. These energy channels, referred to as meridians, may be unobstructed by the positioning of the acupuncture needles. Restoring the balance and flow of energy through these channels has proved to ease psychological and physical pain. Acupuncture needles are strategically placed to ensure optimum energy restoration.
The benefits of TCM and acupuncture for fertility in women include: improvement of the ability of the uterine lining to accept a fertilized egg, increased blood circulation to the uterus, reduction of the stress hormones associated with fertility issues, increased conception rates in the presence of absence of assisted reproductive technology (ART), increased rates of live births, and decreased ectopic pregnancy rates. The benefits of TCM and acupuncture for fertility in men include: improved quality and quantity of semen, stress reduction, improved sperm motility, and improved overall well-being. Paul Magarelli, an infertility physician based at the Reproductive Medicine and Fertility Center in Colorado Springs, and Diane Cridennda, an acupuncturist based at East Winds, also in Colorado Springs, conducted a study into the efficacy of TCM and acupuncture for fertility in May 2007. The female participants in the study received a minimum of nine acupuncture treatments over a period of two months prior to embryo transfer.
Lorne Brown of the Acubalance Wellness Centre in British Columbia analyzed the data presented by Magarelli and Cridennda's study. It was found that TCM and acupuncture does not negatively interfere with fertility or in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment, the process in which an egg cell is fertilized by a sperm cell outside of the body. Furthermore, TCM and acupuncture can improve live birth rates from IVF treatment and reduce the chances of ectopic pregnancies following IVF. While acupuncture did not affect the quality of the egg cell, it was found to improve the factors affecting egg cell implantation. Acupuncture is thought to have produced these results by regulating the levels of hormones within the body, most notably the hormones cortisol and prolactin. It is advisable for women and men to begin TCM and acupuncture for fertility therapy many months prior to attempting to conceive. This will give them the best possible chances of successfully conceiving a child.
Massage is one of the oldest and safest methods practiced to ensure good health. Massage therapy is the practice of applying pressure on the muscles and soft tissues of the body by the use of hands, fingers, forearms, elbows or feet. It improves the blood circulation in the body thus relieving pain, reducing stress, depression and anxiety. A massage therapist can use different forms of massage techniques like strokes, circular movements, kneading, tapping or vibration depending upon the need and physical condition of the patient.
The use of massage therapy for diabetes has been growing drastically in the last few years. Various studies have shown that the patients who suffer from diabetes use massage therapy in conjunction with their regular medical treatments. In diabetes, the blood sugar (glucose) levels are very high due to the imbalance in the secretion or utilization of the hormone insulin. Insulin is produced by the pancreas for helping the glucose to enter the cells as well as for regulating the blood sugar level in the body. When massage is given at injection sites, it increases insulin absorption in the body. In addition to this, it also has a positive effect on the blood glucose levels.
The benefits of massage therapy is incredible and can range from stimulating the lymph system, lowering the blood sugar levels, to removing toxins from the body. Massage improves the blood circulation in the body and reduces the ill effects developed due to diabetes such as hardening of arteries. When the blood circulation in the body improves, more oxygen and nutrients are provided to the body cells and this in turn improves the utilization of the insulin by the cells.
Massage is a great therapy for relaxing and reducing the stress. Any form of stress or mental fatigue is harmful to the diabetic patient as it increases their blood glucose level. Hence a massage helps to relax the nervous system and reduce the production of stress hormones thus maintaining the blood sugar level normal. Various institutes like Duke Medical University, Touch Research Institute have conducted research about the stress management practices and the studies show that any form of relaxation therapy (such as massage) has a profound effect in lowering the blood sugar levels.
Increased blood sugar levels cause thickening of the connective tissue in diabetic patients as a result of which their muscle, tendons and ligament becomes stiff as well as they experience less movement in the joints. Massage therapy helps significantly in improving the flexibility of the tissue and joint mobility. Apart from this, the patients are also advised to follow a regular stretching exercise as well as include some motion techniques.
Before beginning a massage therapy, the diabetic patient should always consult their primary care physician. A person who has diabetes in control can have a massage done only if their blood pressure is under control and also on the condition that they have no damage from diabetes. People with diabetes should take some precautionary measures before taking a massage. They should inform the massage practitioner in advance about the specific areas of concern and make sure that the blood sugar levels are within control. The effects of massage may last for longer duration hence the diabetic patient should check their blood sugar levels at regular intervals. A common complication in diabetes is neuropathy hence in such cases neuromuscular massage with gentle strokes and applying pressure, as in acupressure, is a safer option.