January 20, 2013
It is estimated that about one-third of Americans suffer from chronic pain (Source). Chronic pain is just what the name suggests, pain – often unbearable – that does not go away. By definition, in order to be considered chronic, the pain has to last for several months and negatively affect a person’s daily life. The pain can be either localized to specific areas of the body (headaches, joint pain, carpal tunnel syndrome) or it can be widespread, like fibromyalgia. Chronic pain can be the result of an injury, or it can just come out of nowhere for no apparent reason.
In short, virtually any part of your body can be affected by chronic pain, and the underlying cause may be a mystery. It can lead to severe depression, reduced physical ability and a slew of other negative life affects. Fortunately, there are a number of coping mechanisms and treatment regimens to improve a chronic-pain-sufferers quality of life.
Treatments for Chronic Pain
Unfortunately, there isn’t a magic pill to cure chronic pain. Sometimes the root cause is difficult to determine, so it’s hard to devise the right treatment to alleviate the pain. Fortunately, there are multiple treatment methods being employed today. You no longer have to “just deal with it.” Listed below are some of the most common chronic pain treatments:
- Pain Killers. Painkillers are the first thing prescribed to chronic pain patients. They dull the pain and allow you to continue with your regular activities. However, pain killers are kind of a double-edged sword. They dull the pain, but if there’s a treatable underlying cause, they don’t cure that. Plus, if the pain persists or worsens, you’ll need more, stronger painkillers which can lead to chemical dependency. So, it’s best to not rely solely on pain killers if you suffer from chronic pain. Explore other options, too.
- Acupuncture. Acupuncture is a form of alternative medicine that is very popular for treating chronic pain. The 2,000 year old form of Chinese Medicine is used to activate specific parts of your body – called meridians – in an effort to bring about natural healing. Massage is another form of alternative medicine that can have positive effects on chronic pain. Both acupuncture and massage are offered by Accelerate Health.
- Psychological Treatment. As stated before, chronic pain affects the body as much as the mind. You can become stressed and depressed when suffering from chronic pain, and these psychological maladies can negatively affect your daily life and relationships. Furthermore, in some cases, there can be a psychological cause for chronic pain (stress for one). A psychologist who specializes in pain management can teach you the relaxation techniques and other skills to cope with your pain and reduce it affects your day-to-day life.
- Support Groups. Support groups are another form of psychological treatment. There are support groups for all types of chronic pain, so you can talk to people suffering from the same pain as you. Knowing you’re not alone in your struggle with the pain can actually help reduce it. The American Chronic Pain Association has more in-depth information on chronic pain as well as tools to locate support groups in your area.
- Light Exercise. Even though your pain can severely limit your physical activity, light exercise, like stretching, yoga, strength training and cardio can improve the overall strength and fitness of your body which, in turn, can help reduce chronic pain. Also, exercise is a stress reliever.
- Surgery and Technology. In some cases, chronic pain can be caused by a tumor or other physical malady. Proper diagnosis and surgery can alleviate the pain. Also, there are emerging technologies, like pain pacemakers that block pain signals from reaching the brain or nerve-deadening narcotics, that can be used to treat extreme cases of chronic pain.
Chronic pain can be devastating to your quality of life, but it doesn’t have to be that way. If you seek treatment, beyond painkillers, and learn how to combat and cope with your pain, you can return to a normal or near-normal quality of life.
January 15, 2013
A 29 year old female presents to our office complaining multiple symptoms that arose after a 10 mile run. Her symptoms included hives and itching behind her knees and on her neck, abdominal bloating and feeling a slight constriction of her airways making it difficult to take a deep breath. Symptoms lasted for 6-8 hours and then spontaneously resolved. She reported eating toast and having a cup of coffee in the morning before her run. She reported that these symptoms had occurred in the past after exercising, but less intensely which prompted her to have food allergy testing performed earlier in the year by her medical doctor. The blood tests were negative for any food allergy.
Wheat-dependent, exercise-induced anaphylaxis is a potentially life-threatening response to gluten that occurs when gluten is ingested in conjunction with exercise. The gut barrier system usually prevents toxic particles from being absorbed into the blood stream. However, increased levels of cortisol released during exercise cause the gut to become more permeable, allowing gluten and other toxic substances to enter the blood stream and cause a reaction. Additionally, gluten itself is known to increase gut permeability, so in conjunction with exercise, the potential for a negative reaction to gluten is heightened. 70% of endurance athletes are affected by at least one gastrointestinal symptom. When you add gluten to the mix, the prevalence is even higher.
My recommendation to this patient was for her to discontinue eating gluten before exercise and preferentially to adhere to a gluten-free diet all of the time. She opted to do the 100% gluten-free diet and has not had a re-occurrence of any of her symptoms in the past year since she has been gluten-free.
December 31, 2012
The eve of the new year is again upon us, and if you’re like most people, you are making a resolution, setting a goal of something you want to achieve in the next year. Maybe you want to lose weight, get in shape, run your first marathon or complete your first triathlon.
We set goals go challenge and better ourselves, and it’s hard work; that’s why they’re called goals. It’s easy to become discouraged or put off our aspirations until a later date, but the reward and self-fulfillment that comes with achievement is unmatched. No matter how large or small the goal, achieving it takes focus and determination. Here are a couple of ways to keep your goals on track:
- Write your goal down. Writing your goal down on a piece of paper helps gives you something to look at every day to remind you what you are trying to achieve. You can write it down on several pieces of paper and tape those up throughout your house, so everywhere you look, there are reminders. If you have several goals, you can even make a checklist. Imagine how fulfilling it will be when you can put a checkmark by everything.
- Set mini-goals if necessary. Depending on the scope and loftiness of your goal, it could take weeks or months to accomplish. That’s why it helps to set mini-goals or benchmarks that will gauge your progress to achieving your major goal. If your goal is to lose 30 pounds, don’t try to lose it all at once. Instead work towards shedding five pounds, then another five pounds, then another five and so on until you reach that magic number.
- Advertise your goal. Telling others about your goal makes it all the more real, and now that you have an audience, you’re more accountable and less likely to quit when the going gets tough.
- Seek help from your support group. Your support group is anyone who is a positive influence in your life, whether they be friends, family, co-workers, coaches or a significant other. Your support group are the people who root for you no matter what and are the people who won’t let you quit pursuing your goal, no matter what.
- Keep your goals away from the trolls. The sad truth is, not everyone will support you in your goals. Indeed, you may find that more people tell you your goal is impossible or try to otherwise discourage you. On the internet they’re called trolls; in real life, there are any number of colorful four-letter words that will suffice. Not listening to the naysayers is easier said than done, so it’s best to just avoid people who bring you down.
Good luck with your goals this year, and remember to stay strong and determined, especially when the going gets tough.
December 21, 2012
As we look ahead to 2013 what better way to start the year than with some good, old fashioned New Year’s Resolutions? One of the most common resolutions for the New Year is to get healthy, lose weight, and start exercising.
Many embark upon this journey with zeal only to find themselves right back where they started within a few weeks. Maybe you tried exercising only to find that you weren’t getting the results you wanted or that you didn’t have enough energy to keep it up. Maybe you went on a diet and didn’t lose weight, so you gave up. That’s where we can help. At Accelerate Health we offer comprehensive detoxification programs designed to get lasting results and to offer you the support you need to succeed in achieving your goals.
Our detoxification programs are custom designed by Dr. Lindy Vaughn for your individual needs. These programs are not for the person looking for a magic pill. They require hard work and dedication, but in the end will give you lasting and meaningful results that go far beyond weight-loss.
Below is a list of some of the benefits you can expect to achieve from one of our detox programs:
- Improved Body Composition (Increased lean muscle mass and decreased fat).
- Improved Immune Function
- Decreased Inflammation
- Improved Intestinal Health
- Elimination of Toxins and Excess Hormones
- Increased Energy
- Increased Exercise Performance
- Improved Cardiovascular Health
- Improved Antioxidant Status and Resistance to Oxidative Stress
Call our office at 303-863-8330 to schedule a complimentary consult with Dr. Vaughn. She will put together a custom detoxification program that is just right for you!
December 17, 2012
There are many people who have an intolerance or allergy to gluten and cannot digest this protein, but many athletes who do not have any diagnosed issues with gluten are cutting it from their diets in an attempt to gain a competitive edge.
A Brief Explanation of Gluten
Gluten is a combination of two proteins (gliaden and glutenin) and is found in wheat, barley and rye, and it is used in everything from baked goods, to pasta, to salad dressing. Gluten-based flours are inexpensive and easy to work with. Gluten gives bread its elasticity and fluffiness and is also added to sauces and dressings as a thickener. The grains and pastas made from gluten-based ingredients are a staple to many athletes’ diets because gluten is also a complex carbohydrate that is used to fuel our athletic endeavors.
Why Athletes are Going Gluten Free
As mentioned before, some people simply cannot digest gluten, and this intolerance weakens their digestive system, making it difficult for their bodies to absorb any nutrients. The only remedy is to stop eating gluten and allow the body to heal itself. The belief among some athletes and coaches is that all people have difficulty digesting gluten – regardless of a diagnosed intolerance, and eating foods with wheat, barley or rye ingredients limits nutrient absorption which can hamper athletic performance. So, many athletes are going gluten-free during their competitive season. This theoretically reduces stress on their digestive systems, allowing it to operate at peak performance.
Does Gluten-Free Eating Improve Athletic Performance?
Athletes who go gluten-free reportedly have fewer digestive issues during competitions and training and feel stronger all around. They attribute this to the lack of wheat-based pastas and breads, so there may be something to this practice. However, there is no research to back up the claims; if you don’t have a diagnosed gluten intolerance or allergy, your body shouldn’t suffer an adverse affects from the protein. Any digestive or athletic improvement can be attributed to the placebo effect and simply eating healthier. Gluten is found in a lot of overly-processed foods that provide quick energy and recovery, and going gluten-free forces athletes to eat more natural foods.
The Availability of Gluten-Free Food
It is estimated that 1 in 133 people have some sort of gluten intolerance or allergy, making it a relatively prevalent condition. This also makes finding gluten-free alternatives to food rather easy; there are gluten-free alternatives to virtually every food nowadays, even bread and pasta. Fresh fruits and vegetables, potatoes, nuts, vinaigrette dressings, beans, rice and quinoa are some of the staples of a gluten-free diet, and some of these alternatives provide more carbohydrates per serving than their wheat-containing counterparts.
The easiest way to tell if a food contains gluten is to read the packaging. If it doesn’t say “Gluten Free” on the front of the box, the ingredients will indicate if wheat, barley or rye is present. If you do decide to see if gluten-free eating helps, give it a trial period of three months. This will give your body enough time to adapt and heal any real or imagined damage to the digestive system.
December 13, 2012
Blood chemistry analysis is an extremely effective tool to identify imbalances in body metabolism. A comprehensive blood chemistry panel can give your doctor insight into the function of nearly all the major systems of the body:
- Gastrointestinal and Digestive Health
- Adrenal Function
- Blood Sugar Regulation
- Thyroid Health
- Blood and Immune System Health
- Liver and Gall Bladder Health
- Kidney Health
- Acid/Base Balance
- Toxicity and Inflammation
- Nutrient Deficiencies
Unfortunately, in the current healthcare model the primary focus is on disease management, not early detection or prevention. You may have had blood work done, but your provider may have been focusing on the absence of disease instead of looking for patterns that could indicate metabolic imbalances that will eventually lead to a disease state if not addressed from the perspective of prevention. Alternatively, your provider may have not have ordered a comprehensive blood chemistry panel due to the restrictions imposed by HMO systems and insurance companies.
Blood chemistry should be considered with all new patients, especially those that have not had a comprehensive evaluation in recent years. Fortunately, doctors now have access to comprehensive blood chemistry panels at very affordable prices; making a complete blood chemistry evaluation accessible to virtually everyone. Please call our office today for a consultation if you are interested in obtaining a comprehensive blood chemistry analysis. If you already have blood work from another provider you are welcome to bring it in for a complimentary blood chemistry analysis and report from Dr. Vaughn. Call us at 303-863-8330 to schedule a complimentary consult with Dr. Vaughn. We look forward to seeing you soon!
December 9, 2012
Working in an office may not seem like the most physically demanding job on the planet, but sitting in front of a computer all day long can take its toll on your postural muscles. Sitting with proper posture is the best way to reduce office fatigue. While seated, your feet should be flat on the floor with your legs bent to form a 90° angle at the knee. And, your arms should rest naturally on the chair armrests, neither forcing your shoulders up too high or causing you to slump over. Here are several specific exercises and stretches you can perform every day to help reduce office fatigue:
- Blink your eyes. Staring at a computer screen all day long causes you to blink less, which dries out your eyes and causes headaches. The simple task of blinking helps prevent this from happening. Looking away from your monitor every now and then will also help reduce eye fatigue.
- Tuck your chin. Your neck and shoulder muscles become fatigued by poor seated posture and hunching over a desk all day. In order to prevent this, don’t sit too close to your monitor and tuck your chin down and press back slightly 20 repetitions a day to strengthen your neck and upper back muscles.
- Roll your neck. Another way to reduce neck strain is to slowly roll your head around in circles. 15 to 30 reps in each direction will help stretch your tight neck muscles.
- Roll your shoulders. To strengthen your shoulders and reduce upper backa nd shoulder pain, sit or stand with your arms hanging loosely at your sides. Roll your shoulders forward or backward for 20 to 30 reps each way. As you move through the motion, over exaggerate by trying to squeeze your shoulder blades together, collapsing into your chest slightly and trying to touch your shoulders to your ears to get the most out of the exercise.
- Rotate your torso. Fatigue and strains in the lower back are another common office malady that is caused by weakened muscles and poor posture. To loosen tight back muscles, stand up straight and stack your arms atop one another in front of your chest. Slowly and deliberately rotate your upper body back and forth to stretch your lower back. Don’t overdue this maneuver, going too fast or stretching too far can strain your lower back muscles.
- Stretch your wrists and forearms. Typing on a keyboard all day long can wreak havoc on your wrists and forearms. The best way to stretch these areas is to stand up, place your hands on your desktop twisted around so your fingers are facing your body and slightly lean into your hands.
- Take a walk. Taking a walk during lunch or just around the office for a few minutes stimulates blood flow and allows you to clear your head. Sometimes a little time away from the desk is just what you need to organize your thoughts and be slightly rejuvenated to finish out the day.
December 3, 2012
This year, Accelerate Health wants to give back to the community by participating in Toys for Tots. This will begin on December 1st, and will run through December 18th.
The Mission of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program is to collect new, unwrapped toys, and distribute those toys as Christmas gifts to the less fortunate children in the community.
The objectives for Toys for Tots are to help less fortunate children experience the joy of Christmas. They play an active role in the growth of one of our country’s most precious resources – our children. In the effort of collecting and distributing toys, communities are united in a common cause. Toys for Tots contributes to better communities in the future.
Please, bring in a toy, and help make a child’s life just a little bit better this holiday season. While, for some people, this is a time of joy and happiness, for others, it is a time of loneliness and sadness. Let’s work together this December to make our world a better place!
November 30, 2012
The holiday season is upon us, and that means it’s time to go out and buy gifts for your loved ones. If you have an athlete in your life, the safest and easiest thing to do would be to buy them a new pair of running shoes – or whatever other sports-based essential they seem to buy a lot of. But, here are a few more suggestions:
1. Gift certificate to athletic store.
When in doubt, just let them buy their own gift, and there are few athletes who would frown at a gift card to the local athletic store.
2. Sports gear.
Regardless of the athlete, their sport or how often they participate in that sport, they could always use more gear. As with any clothing item, though, make sure you get the right size, or just save the receipt.
3. Sports Watch.
Jewelry is always a safe gift idea. You can go with a traditional, decorative watch that looks flashy and just tells the time, or you can get something your athlete will use for their sport. Consider a digital sports stopwatch, or you can jazz it up with a Garmin GPS watch or heart rate monitor. Any of these three options should make your athlete’s face light up with joy.
4. Race registration.
If your athlete has a race in which they compete every year or one that they are thinking about, paying for their registration is an amazing gift, especially since some races can get a little pricey. Regardless of the cost, they will thoroughly enjoy the gift.
5. Massage or treatment.
Pampering is always a good gift, regardless of the occasion or time of year. You can get them a day at the spa where they will be doted upon, or you can pay for one of the many treatments offered by Accelerate Health.
November 19, 2012
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Thanksgiving is only a few days away which marks the beginning of the holiday season and the off-season for many athletes. But, off-season doesn’t necessarily mean completely off. Here are a few things you can do during Thanksgiving to remain active
1. Run a race.
Thanksgiving road races are as popular as Thanksgiving Day parades, and you don’t have to design a fancy float to run a race. So, get out and make some room for dinner with a brisk 5K, 10K or whatever other race distances are available and tickle your fancy. Since most races take place in the morning, you should have enough time to run the race and get home in time to carve the turkey, or make the turkey – if you’re the host.
2. Get to the gym.
Gyms are usually closed or only open for a half-day on Thanksgiving Day and possibly the day after. So, if you’re a gym-nut, take this into account when scheduling your workouts for the remainder of the week.
3. Remember to hydrate.
Thanksgiving dinner isn’t a race, even though it can feel like one – probably a marathon with the amount of eating that goes on during the day. But, as with everything athletes do, hydration is a key component to not getting too overstuffed at dinner or having a hangover the next day if you enjoy wine or other alcoholic beverages with your feast.
4. Dig out your loose-fitting pants.
One of the best things about being an athlete our ability to eat more food than non-athletes without gaining much weight. Even if we do pack on a couple of pounds, they’ll quickly be shed with the next workout. So, throw on your fat pants and enjoy the bountiful meal but remember to do a short workout the next day.
5. Enjoy the warm weather.
This tip is mostly for Denver Metro residents who have been enjoying unseasonably warm weather for the last couple of weeks. I’m sure we are all expecting an extra-harsh winter, so get outside this week and enjoy the warm weather and sunshine for as long as it lasts.
Have a Happy Thanksgiving!
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