Active Release Technique & Updates

Posted in Arieanna & Ianiv, Opinion, Science

For the past month, I have been getting Active Release Technique/Therapy (ART) sessions done on my neck by a chiropractor in North Van.

ART is a massage technique which focuses on the soft tissue system: muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia and nerves. All the things that I have problems with.

My chronic pain has been quite a burden for the past 6 months. Although I was making some progress healing from the second whiplash injury in January, the muscle tension and scarring were still a major problem, and in some ways were getting worse as the muscles grew weaker. I had been having sporradic success with the NUCCA treatment in completely alleviating my TOS (pinched nerve in arm), but it was not consistent. When the back of my neck became very tender from the tension – about 3 months ago – I started to have even greater issues because my neck would simply get tired holding up my head.

After I recovered from the Norwalk virus, I decided to switch to a new chiropractor in a clinic that also has physio, massage and other therapies in a hope that a team would have better success in treating my problems. The chiropractor introduced me to ART, hoping it would have some success in breaking up the massive amounts of scar tissue and fibrosis. The scar tissue was making my muscles tense (shorter) and weak, and trapping the nerve in my arm.

My ART treatment is fast – just a couple of minutes, plus an adjustment. Right now my body can’t take really long treatments since my overall pain level is too high – if it flared up more, it would be too much for me to handle. So, we focus on smaller areas at a time.

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Therapeutica Pillow

Posted in Science, Shopping

I have continued my pillow saga to a new frontier – the Therapeutica Pillow is my latest acquisition.

The down pillow served me well. It was the only pillow which allowed my head to sink down far enough to release strain on my neck. But it had no support whatsoever. After two recent incidents of waking up with a twisted/tilted head (quite literally) I decided enough was enough.

Dr. Foran recommended a new type of pillow. The Therapuetica Pillow, which is made in Canada. 

Yes, it looks crazy. The side portions are raised for side sleeping – higher than traditional so you don’t slouch your shoulders or neck. Also has cavities to ensure the jaw relaxes. The centre is contoured for back sleeping. The wedge bit is a different support from other foam pillows with the roll formation, to gently lift the neck but not strain it.

It feels weird. Slightly hard to get used to in terms of positioning. But once I’m asleep, I’m asleep. And without pain. So though I may find it uncomfortable, it is not painful. Something I cannot say for the other half dozen pillows I have tried.

I am confident I am doing something good for my neck by sleeping correctly. I am hesitant to sleep on my side still, since my last 10 minute side snooze on the old pillow caused me to go off balance by 33lbs, but my initial testing of the side sections was comfortable. Perhaps some day when my muscles are not quite so weak I’ll give side sleeping a shot.

I am tempted to also get the travel pillow, which is a mini version with only the back sleeping portion. And heavy travelers might want to consider the commuter pillow.

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Milk Tolerance Gene Found

Posted in Science

The BBC reports that prior to a few thousand years ago, no European adults could digest milk. Scientists from the University College London says that a gene spread through the population allowing more than 90% of Europeans to digest milk.

Since milk intolerance is still common, the scientists believe it to be related to this "milk gene." This gene produces the lactase enzyme which breaks down the lactose in milk.

Dr Mark Thomas, from UCL, said: "The ability to drink milk is the most advantageous trait that’s evolved in Europeans in the recent past.

"Although the benefits of milk tolerance are not fully understood, they probably include the advantage of a continuous supply compared with the ‘boom and bust’ of seasonal crops, its nourishing qualities, and the fact that, unlike stream water, it’s uncontaminated with parasites, making it safer.

In Europe, this gene is not present in 5% of the Caucasian population, but in other parts of the world and for other ethnicities, this gene may not be present for the majority of the population.

It’s an interesting study into our history of animal husbandry and evolution. Will be interesting to see how it plays out in our future of gene therapy. 

Via boing boing ; Tags: , , , , , , ,

A massage for your mouth

Posted in Arieanna & Ianiv, Science

Sounds kinky, doesn’t it?

Well, drop that idea. A massage in your mouth is anything but kinky. It’s one of the most painful procedures, ever.

What the heck am I talking about? Well, it’s a therapy technique to release the tension in the neck, head and jaw by massaging the mouth. From the inside.

Prior to accident #2, the tension in my neck was causing me to grind my teeth. I was making a lot of progress here, and don’t clench my jaw so much now. However, the injuries from accident #2 have caused the jaw to tense up again, more from the bottom than the top.

Here are some diagrams to explain:


The muscles of the neck, back, head and jaw are all one and the same. If something is out of alignment or injured, everything can suffer. Right now my jaw is just a tad crooked. If I try to bite down it feels incredibly off. The muscles on one side are just yanking it out of line.

My massage therapist has been working externally to help heal the injuries, relax the tension in the muscles and fascia, and relax the neck/jaw/face. However, working from the inside of the mouth is a much more effective means to reaching some muscles. The mouth itself is incredibly sensitive. It’s called "intraoral massage".


By pressing on certain areas of my mouth, having me open/close my mouth, some tension can be relieved. But it makes me kick. Oy, I hate it. The areas of focus are right under the tongue, the muscles of which you can see connect to the neck. As well, the soft palate around the tongue and my lower teeth, and the back of my jaw where I would have wisdom teeth if they were not yanked.

So, that was my massage for the day. Not fun, not pleasant. But effective for the time being. Be warned – if you are ever offered a massage inside your mouth, it will work. But you’ll hate it.

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NUCCA Chiropractic and Health

Posted in Arieanna & Ianiv, Science

In my quest to find a state of better health, I am now trying a new chiropractic option provided by a NUCCA practitioner.

NUCCA is the National Upper Cervical Chiropractic Association, and they specialize in treating the neck for optimal body balance and treat a lot of whiplash patients.

NUCCA is totally different from other chiropractic options. There is no popping of the bones. The adjustment of the bones is done via pressure. The focus is on the very top of the spine – this misalignment of this bone can throw out the entire body – the rest of the back, the hips, the legs and result in many problems, including pinched nerves. The adjustments are meant to restore the position of the neck and help the body realign and heal itself. 

I spent more than 2 hours getting a full work-up at the NUCCA office of Dr. Foran on Thursday. I had a full set of 3D x-rays on my neck – one set having to be done three times because apparently my neck is quite crooked – a check on the anatometer, a physical exam, and an sEMG test. The sEMG provides a computer printout schematic of the body (like this one) – it assesses the muscle activity and uses thermography to infer things about the spine. The NUCCA approach is more technical, rather than by feel. It approaches the treatment mathematically, and tests are repeated after each treatment to guage the changes and subsequent angles for readjustment.

My test results showed an extreme case of pain (indeed) with a reading of 168% at the top C2 level and 56% at the level where my bra is – both very severe subluxations. The axis of my neck is turned, so my head is not straight, and my neck is too straight (versus having a C-curve to it). As a result, my back is off in many places, muscle tension runs all to the left (my problem side), my hips are twisted by 5 degrees and my left leg is .75" shorter than my right. So… I am definitely a little wonky.

I plan to scan or somehow get my sEMG printouts online, and perhaps keep them updated as my treatment progresses. I am interested to see in how this new chiropractice treatment will go. I believe strongly that my neck is having major issues on my whole body and hope this new approach will have some results.

Now, although my NUCCA practitioner has asked for exclusivity in my treatment, I have done my research and know my body. I plan to continue my massage treatments once per week. From what I read, the release technique used by my massage therapist is effective at breaking up the scar tissue and improving the body’s ability to heal itself. Plus, it helps me manage my pain.

For those interested in muscular dysfunction, chiropractic and the use of sEMG’s, I found this article very interesting.

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Posted in Arieanna & Ianiv, Science

I’ve started to see a chiropractor to treat my nerve pain and the older injuries associated with it. I go twice a week, after I have a nice long session with my massage therapist.

The chiropractor I am seeing believes that I am hypermobile. According to wikipedia, this means that my joints stretch further than is normal. Hypermobility may be genetic, but the research seems new in that area.

Hypermobility can cause people to be injured more easily than others, often in situations that would not hurt others. I can recall many stupid ways I have been sprained. Like walking or lifting laundry. The joints just gave way on me.

Now, there are many different types of hypermobility, some more serious than others. I will need to ask my doctor about them and to see if I can have any tests done. I know I do not have joints quite as flexible as the testing would indicate I should, but my symptoms are spot on for the rest of it.

I was reading up on some research about hypermobility and back pain, and found this:

Hypermobility may present as increased movement compared to what is expected. It may occur at one joint, one segment, in just one direction of movement, or as a more generalized phenomenon. More commonly, we see compensatory hypermobility occurring when trauma to the ligamentous structures has decreased the movement of the adjacent joint.

The initial response to the increased segmental movement is a reflexive increase in tone of muscles that share common innervation or are directly attached to the corresponding segment. This is the body’s attempt to stabilize the affected area. Over time, prolonged, increased tonus will decrease the blood supply and increase the build-up of lactic acid.

To me, this could explain why, 5 years later, I developed TOS. So, I will be talking to my doctor. From what I have read, my treatments now are spot on between my massage and chiropractor, so that is encouraging. I have even had one small window of no pain since my last visit, and I am hopeful that there will be more in the future.

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Sleeping pills

Posted in Arieanna & Ianiv, Science

I started taking sleeping pills this week. After consulting with my doctor on my last 3 visits, he decided it was a good call. Kind of a catch 22 situation. I can’t sleep because my neck hurts, but to make my neck recover, I need to sleep.

So, medicated sleep it is. Truly, a wonderful thing. It’s no fun tossing and turning in pain, waking up all the time, and making things worse.

The pills I’m on are called Gen-Zopiclone, which a hypnotic agent and addictive. I can only take these for a short time, but I hope during that time my neck will heal enough so that the pain won’t keep me from sleeping.

I started off on half doses, but was only making it to 5am. I progressed to a full dose, and that did the trick. Last night didn’t work, but that was my fault for working till 11:30pm then going straight to bed. Even pills can’t turn off the turning wheels.

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