Thursday, March 29, 2018

Understanding Scoliosis

Scoliosis is defined as an abnormal curvature of the spinal column. More often than not, doctors detect the abnormality during adolescence. Scoliosis has been around since the ancient times. It was, in fact, Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine, who discovered the condition and looked for a cure.

At least seven million Americans develop scoliosis between the ages of 10 to 15 and it's more prevalent among young girls. Nearly half a million people visit the doctor each year for problems linked to scoliosis and at least 29,000 patients per year choose to undergo surgery to correct the problem.

Despite how long this health issue has existed, doctors still cannot determine the exact reason why this abnormality develops or if it can be fully prevented.

Classifications of Scoliosis

Scoliosis is classified into two types:
  • Idiopathic scoliosis develops as a childhood condition. Experts are still exploring if this might have ties to genetics.
  • Degenerative scoliosis arises due to disc degeneration of the spine. Experts attribute this to aging.
Both types of scoliosis progress over the years and may become physically noticeable when the spine curves to about 30 to 40 degrees. The rounder the curve, the more health problems arise.

Symptoms of Scoliosis

Children with idiopathic scoliosis won’t normally complain of any problems. Their spine might have an unusual curve, but this won’t affect their physical activities at this point. When they get older and as the curvature becomes more obvious, the pain and discomfort can start manifesting. It’s the same case for people with degenerative scoliosis.

The most common signs and symptoms associated with scoliosis include:

•    Recurring or persistent pain in the back, neck, and shoulders as well as the buttocks near the lower back
•    Uneven length of the shoulders, hips, arms, and legs
•    Clothes might not fit snugly
•    Breathing and cardiac problems, especially for people with about 80 degrees curvature
•    Prominence of the ribs
•    Constipation when the curvature impacts the location of intestines
•    Pitch-forward posture
•    Inability to stand up straight
•    Weakening of the legs and spinal nerve irritation, in some cases

Treating and Managing Scoliosis

The treatment and management of scoliosis are usually individualized since each case is different from one patient to another. Doctors have to assess properly the spine's curvature, its location, growth, and progression.

It is essential to manage the pain and discomfort that comes with the disease as these can affect your daily life. Aside from taking pain relievers, you can apply a warm compress on your back or neck as the heat can help relax your muscles. You can also use portable pain management devices such as a TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) unit which releases low-voltage current to relieve pain from muscle spasms.

Doctors can recommend bracing or spinal surgery. For adults with scoliosis, doctors usually aim to reduce pressure on the nerves and stop the progression of the curvature through a fusion procedure.

People with mild scoliosis, regardless of age, normally do not need treatment but might be required to visit the doctor two to three times a year for monitoring and check-up. X-rays might be necessary every five years as well.

A visit to the doctor might be needed as soon as possible if:
  • The curvature is quite noticeable
  • The posture is uneven and unbalanced
  • There's a recommendation following a screening from the school
  • The back pain won't go away
If detected early, scoliosis can be a manageable and livable condition. Children with body braces can still go about their lives normally and participate in regular activities like any other kid.

Debunking Common Scoliosis Myths 

For some patients, scoliosis does not prevent them from doing sports or dance. In fact, there's even a study that showed dance therapy had positive effects for scoliosis patients. Plenty of ballerinas and professional athletes who have scoliosis have also managed to thrive in their chosen profession despite the abnormality on their spine.

Regular exercises and physiotherapy are always recommended as these will help ease the pain and improve the flexibility of the back. It won't, however, decrease the size of the curvature or slow down its progression.

Carrying heavy bags does not cause scoliosis, even with kids who have to fill their school bags with books. It can, however, aggravate back problems in adults, so avoid this as much as possible.

Having scoliosis won't get in the way of conceiving a baby or giving birth. You might, however, want to advise the doctors, nurses, and midwives during labor so that they can help lessen your discomfort during the delivery, especially if you want to get an epidural.

There's a little chance that a spinal surgery for scoliosis will result in paralysis. Surgery, however, is only recommended if the curvature is more than 40 degrees.

This is a guest blog entry.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

3 Great Ways To Improve Your Posture And Breathing

While most modern humans consider breathing and posture as an afterthought, it's also true that many people today suffer from pain and anxiety that can be traced to poor posture and breathing. People spend thousands of dollars on therapy, yoga classes and alternative treatments when the answer is often much simpler than that: stand up straight and breathe from your diaphragm.

While this idea hasn't fully caught on in the mainstream medical community, there is an immense amount of research coming out showing that by improving your breath and your posture, you can lead a much more comfortable, happier life. Indeed, working on these areas could solve complicated problems that you assumed were worlds apart from your physical habits.

"Great," you say, "I would love to improve my posture and breathing, but how?" While training yourself to stand up straight and breathe from the bottom up can be challenging, there are certain activities that promote these unconscious skills. In this post, we'll suggest three activities that promote deep breathing and good posture – otherwise, we recommend reading up online and creating your own practices.

1. Singing/ Playing Music

In the respective arts of singing and public speaking, it is of the utmost importance to breathe from the diaphragm and keep the oxygen flowing while you are doing your thing. While most of us don't have ample opportunities to practice oration, singing is a completely different matter. Getting together with musical friends to sing a bunch of your favorite songs is a great way to stimulate deep breathing; if you feel left out because you can't play an instrument, enroll in music lessons today and join in the fun! Otherwise, consider joining an adult choir – adult choirs are very hip these days, and not necessarily affiliated with any specific religion. If you are religious, however, join the choir at your church – whatever you need to do to dust off those pipes and move away from shallow breathing!

2. Walking

It may sound way too simple, but after twenty minutes of walking, your body will automatically switch to deep breathing to get all of the oxygen it needs. Some people doing in depth workout regimens will think that these elaborate exercises are relieving their stress, when really they could achieve the same results by taking a long walk – we are so accustomed to the stress that goes along with shallow breathing that we are amazed when it dissipates. So rather than driving or taking transit, put on a podcast and take the heel-toe express to your next destination, you'll feel great when you get there.

3. Tai Chi

That funny karate dancing that you see people doing in the park sometimes? The people you make fun of? They're doing Tai Chi, and Tai Chi is actually awesome. While there are certain applications of Tai Chi in the martial arts world, many alternative health practitioners in the west promote it as movement meditation, which can be especially helpful for people who are too restless for sitting meditation. The combination of breath and movement and the soft focus of attention is meant to align your breath with your body and lull you into a state of harmony. Often there are free classes offered in parks all over the city, you've got nothing to lose (except for your stress!). 

This is a guest blog entry.

Supporting a Loved one with Drug Addiction

Do you have a loved one in your life that’s struggling with drug addiction? This can be difficult for the addict and their loved ones, as you want to help but don’t know how. It is essential to be able to support this person without alienating them.

Talk without Judgement

Oftentimes, those struggling with addiction don’t want to talk about it because they are afraid of being judged. This can be frightening for an addict and it will ultimately make them feel more isolated. If you can, try to chat with this person about their issues without taking a judgemental tone.

Attempt to be a person that they can talk to about their problems openly, without fear of reprimand. This doesn’t mean you have to condone everything that they do in the course of their addiction, but don’t admonish them for actions they have taken in the past.

Encourage them to get Treatment

This can be a tricky tip to follow, as you don’t want to make the person feel like you’re making this decision for them. Only the addict themselves will be able to make the decision to get clean, but you can help them with information about the options out there. Often short term addition treatment programs can be a good place to start, as they’re not quite as frightening as a long term stay.

If the addict has tried to get clean in the past then they may be discouraged by the fact that they weren’t able to do so alone. These supportive programs can be helpful for addicts that find they can’t go it alone.

Don’t Give them Money

Although you may think that you’re helping your friend or family member, giving them money is not a good idea. They could end up using this to fuel their addiction with drugs they would not otherwise be able to afford.

If you want to help them, it is better to give them food or items which they can’t use for drugs. It is difficult to feel that you cannot trust this loved one, but it is possible they will use the money for all the wrong things.

Give them Emotional Support

Emotional support can be anything from a shoulder to cry on to a friendly chat, as you want to keep this person in your life. They may make it difficult, but if you want to be able to keep an eye on them then you have to be supportive. Remember it is the addiction and not the addict that can push you away at times.

This can manifest in a group intervention if there are a lot of people concerned about the person’s drug use. Again, in this setting you cannot be judgmental or else the person with the addiction may end up trying to escape the situation with more drugs.

Drug addiction is a tricky subject for many people to talk about, but supporting your loved one is essential. Don’t let them walk all over you, but do continue to love the person they are.

This is a guest blog entry.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Five Commons Signs of Early Dementia and How to Respond to Them

Dementia is a frightening condition that affects approximately 47 million people all over the world.

Nobody wants to think about someone they love possibly experiencing this debilitating condition. But, it’s important to know what the early signs are so that you can get your loved one the help they need as soon as possible.

Listed below are five common signs of early dementia, along with some tips for appropriately addressing them.

1. Poor Short-term Memory

One of the first signs that a person is experiencing dementia is changes in their short-term memory.

If someone’s short-term memory is failing, they won’t have much trouble recalling events that took place years ago, but they may struggle to remember things that happened recently.

For example, they might forget why they got up to go to a particular room or have a hard time remembering what they had for breakfast.

Everyone’s short-term memory fails them on occasion. However, if you notice a sudden increase in forgetfulness, it could be a cause for concern.

2. Changes in Mood

People in the early stages of dementia are also more likely to experience changes in their mood and personality.

They may suddenly go from being outgoing and cheerful to pessimistic and reserved. They might also lose interest in activities that they used to enjoy or no longer want to spend time with their friends or family.

3. Poor Sense of Direction

Another early sign of dementia is a poor sense of direction and/or spatial orientation. Examples of this include an inability to recognize landmarks that were once familiar to them or getting lost traveling somewhere they’ve frequently visited.

Some people who are experiencing dementia may also have trouble following directions when they’re trying to get somewhere or complete a task.

4. Frequent Falls

Frequent falls, slips, and stumbles also often occur when someone is struggling with dementia.

This increase in falls has to do, in part, with the visual-spatial difficulties that typically accompany dementia. People with early dementia may also fall more often because they forget about and trip over items in their home that they were once in the habit of stepping over or around.

If a loved one is falling down more often, they’re also at risk for serious injuries and fractures. This is especially true for people who suffer from progressive supranuclear palsy, a movement disorder that can affect their balance and ability to catch themselves as they fall.

5. Repetitive Behavior and Resistance to Change

People with dementia may also start repeating the same behaviors over and over again. They might forget that they already shaved first thing in the morning and end up shaving again. Or, they may continue to buy crossword puzzle books every time they go to the store, even though they have stacks of them in their living room already.

In addition to these repetitive behaviors, it’s also common for people struggling with dementia to resist changes to their routine. They might be afraid of new experiences, especially if they’ve recently gotten lost or had another scary experience related to their memory starting to fail.

How to Respond to Signs of Dementia

If you notice any of these common signs of early dementia in a parent or loved one, it’s important to respond appropriately to limit frustration and make things easy for them and yourself.

Some things to do include:
  • Help them establish a daily routine
  • Give them plenty of time to accomplish tasks
  • Give them choices and let them be involved in their care
  • Remove extension cords, loose rugs, and other potential fall hazards
  • Invest in a fall mat to prevent injuries from falls
  • Keep lighters and matches out of reach and make sure smoke alarms are working
  • Install in an alarm system with a wearable medical alert button
  • Invest a GPS tracker in case they wander away and get lost
It’s easy to feel helpless when a parent or loved one starts acting strangely. But, if you’re aware of these common signs of early dementia, you can get them the treatment they need, slow the progression of their disease, and prevent serious accidents.

This is a guest blog entry.

Aging Knees: How to Treat Them With Surgery, Therapy, and Exercise

As people age their bodies age right along with them. Parts that once worked well and held up strong now feel aches and pains often and start to lose their resilience. Just a few wrong moves can lead to painful joints, particularly in the knees. Aging knees become a serious problem for many people.

Through exercise, therapy, and surgery, they can get treated, although they’ll never be quite as strong as they once were.


A minimally invasive knee surgery may be required for those who have done serious damage to their knees. The surgical procedure will change slightly depending on what the cause of knee damage is, such as arthritis, a damaged kneecap, damaged cartilage, or the need for removal of inflamed tissue. It’s important to find the right doctor to handle this procedure. Look for one who has performed many surgeries of the same nature in the past and is extremely knowledgeable about knees in general. They should use a minimally invasive technique that will only require a couple of short months’ recovery time.


If minimal damage has been done to the knee and surgery is still not a viable option, then physical therapy might do the trick. The physical therapist will use various techniques and exercises to help the patient regain use of their leg while minimizing pain. The therapist will perform several evaluations and measurements that help determine the source of the problem and allow them to create a proper treatment plan. Through balance exercises, straight leg raises, short arc quads, and even some simple stretches for the lower body, patients may start to gain back some range of motion and feel less pain in their knees than they have in a long time.


Perhaps physical therapy is not yet needed either. Those who recently started experiencing knee pain, particularly after an injury, may be able to alleviate their pain with some simple exercises at home. Quad sets are one exercise to try. Sit on the floor and place the sore leg straight in front of you. Keep the other leg bend with the foot flat on the floor. Press the knee toward the floor as much as possible and hold the thigh muscle tight for a few seconds before releasing. Laying back and raising the leg up is another way to help strengthen it.

Products That Limit Knee Pain While You Recover

While you’re waiting for a treatment option to work on improving the knees, there are some products available that may help ease some pain while you recover. If aches come and go and the knees still bend and move as necessary, some simple knee braces could be worn during activities to help provide stability and prevent further injury to the area.

Many people with knee problems experience pain at night when sleeping on their sides. The knees touching do not allow for ideal blood flow and keep the body improperly aligned. Using a knee pillow could greatly help improve the spine’s alignment, keep the knees apart for better blood flow, and lessen the pain felt. Over-the-counter pain relievers may also be necessary to reduce tenderness.

Aging knees are bound to happen to everyone. Whether arthritis sets in and causes pain or an injury occurs that leaves the knees weakened and sore, several treatment options may be required to help reduce aches and bring the knees back to at least some resemblance of their former selves. Knee pain can be debilitating, so getting it treated as soon as possible is the best bet to restore walking abilities.

This is a blog post by Nancy Evans.

Friday, March 23, 2018

3 Important Advantages of Vaping Over Smoking

The number of adult cigarette smokers in U.S. is dropping dramatically. The Centers for Disease Control report the rate has gone from 20.9% in 2005 to 15.5% in 2016. In New York City where officials have been active in reducing tobacco use recent reports show the rate of smoking has dropped from 21.5% in 2002 to 14.3% in 2014. They hope to get that number down to 12% in the next few years.

Everyone who knows me knows that I can’t tolerate smoking in public. The health risks associated with second-hand smoke alone should be enough for people to refrain from smoking around other non-smokers. At least millions of smokers are switching to vaping. While I’m not an advocate of smoking anything, vaping seems to be a better option all around.

Flavors (and Smells) Beyond Tobacco

Don’t like the flavor of tobacco or menthol? Vaping e-liquids come in more flavors than you can imagine. Seriously, I checked it out once after coming across someone vaping what smelled like strawberry shortcake. That’s probably because the e-liquid was strawberry shortcake flavored. There are others like dulce dream and salted caramel macchiato that make me want to visit the local coffee shop more than smoke.

Few things are worse than the pungent ashy smell of cigarette smoke. The different flavors and lack of tobacco leaves means that vaping smoke doesn’t have the same offensive odor that clings to everything. In other words, vaping doesn’t leave you and everyone else around you wreaking of cigarette smoke.

Fewer Fire Hazards

Did you know cigarettes are to blame for a large percentage of residential fires in the U.S.? There are some scary statistics out there about the fire hazards associated with smoking cigarettes and cigars.

Nearly two decades ago UC Davis researchers found that smoking was the leading cause of fire disasters. Worse still, those fires killed 300,000 people a year worldwide. In the U.S. it was determined 30% of all fire deaths were associated with smoking.

Today the risks are just as great. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) notes that smoking materials caused around 17,200 home structure fires in 2014 alone. Although smoking only accounted for 5% of all fires, it leads to 21% of fire-related deaths.

Like smartphones, there’s a risk of battery-related fires with electronic cigarettes, but it’s far from a common problem. Between January 2009 and December 31, 2016 the U.S. Fire Administration recorded 195 electronic cigarette fires and/or explosions. Those accidents resulted in 133 injuries but no deaths. It’s also reassuring for vapers that only 60 incidents happened while the device was being used.

Cheaper Habit

If you’re going to have a vice you might as well choose one that’s cheap. Friends that vape instead of smoking have told me they’ve saved thousands of dollars by making the switch. Over the years, lawmakers have increased federal, state and local taxes on cigarettes to help dissuade people from smoking.
  • Today the average cost of a pack of cigarettes including federal and state taxes is $6.16.
  • The state of New York charges $4.35 a pack in taxes, which is the highest in the country. The average is $.1.72 per pack.
  • Cities can also tack on additional taxes. Chicago charges the most in state and local taxes at $6.16 a pack. That means a pack of cigarettes with all taxes cost $12.32.
  • And don’t forget about the $1.01 federal excise tax.
Over $10 a pack is a lot to pay for 20 cigarettes that may get smoked in a single day. To be fair, vaping cost more initially because you have to buy an e-cigarette and additional equipment. Many starter kits are around $40-50, but there are also ongoing costs and the device you use affects the overall price.

A survey from e-cigarette forum found that over half of vapers consume between 2-6 milliliters of e-liquid a day. You’ll also need additional cartridges to heat up the e-liquid. All said and done vaping costs as little as $1,473 a year whereas smoking is $2,248 a year on average.

There you have it. Three important reasons why, if you have to smoke, vaping is a better alternative to cigarettes.

This is a blog post by Nancy Evans.

Knee Health Tips for Hikers

While knee pain is more common among athletes, dancers, and runners, hikers are no stranger to common overuse injuries associated with the knee either. Consciously taking care of your knees early on, especially if you are an avid hiker, will lower the risk of musculoskeletal problems later in life and improve your body’s ability to scale more challenging terrain. It will also lessen knee problems once old age kicks in, or when your body's muscles, ligaments, and joints work less efficiently compared to your younger years.

As a hiker, you can ward off knee pain and accompanying complications by being proactive about injury prevention. You’ll need to take the necessary steps to build knee strength and flexibility so you can continue to do what you love for many years.

Wear the right shoes

Invest in a good pair of shoes that fit comfortably and have a few pairs to use alternately.

Hiking Boots Vs. Hiking Shoes (Trail Runners)
  • Boots pros: Some hikers prefer to wear hiking boots because they’re usually made of waterproof materials. With thick soles that can support the feet best when walking on an uneven, muddy, or slippery terrain, this type of footwear is also good to use if you're carrying heavy loads.
  • Boots cons: Hiking boots are heavy, which can make running difficult and put more strain on your knees. You'll need a break-in period for these types of shoes and they may take longer to dry out if soaked.
  • Runners pros: Some hikers want to wear trail runners since it offers more mobility and provides excellent traction. Though not usually made of waterproof materials, this lighter type of shoe allows better feet ventilation and dries faster when soaked.
  • Runner cons: Trail runners are great for mild terrain but offer little support when hiking on wet or muddy trails. They may wear out quicker than boots and offer less ankle support.
Use protective equipment

Consider wearing a sports knee brace made of breathable and elastic materials that will help with joint compression. A knee brace can reduce knee stress when walking and provide support and alignment. You might also want to bring a hiking or trekking pole so that your weight can be distributed evenly to your knees, arms and shoulders.

Lose weight

Carrying extra weight puts more stress on your knee joints. According to experts, your knee supports one and a half times your body weight when you walk. Hiking on an inclined and uneven terrain adds more pressure and force by as much as three times your body weight.

Lose the extra pounds with a smart diet and lots of physical activity. For exercise, consider low-impact exercises such as yoga and swimming to lessen the strain on your knees.

Do strength and flexibility exercises

Your knee muscles become stronger if you regularly do weight-bearing workouts that also involve the hamstring, thighs, and calves. Before heading out, do lunges and stretches first to warm up your muscles and prepare your body for the impending stress and pressure of a hike.

Supplement your diet and cut your vices

Increase your intake of vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin K, and calcium to boost bone health and keep your knees stronger. Add more lubricating foods rich in Omega-3 to help lessen friction in your knee joints. And know that smoking depletes the nutrients in your body as well as can cause shortness of breath when you hike.

Be conscious of how you move

A downhill hike poses more risks to your knees compared to walking on a level or even ground or going uphill. Some hikers move as if they’re resisting the pull of gravity while going down to avoid falling or rolling over. The better approach to a downhill hike is to let gravity work with your movements.
  • Downhill hike, smooth slope: If you’re going hiking downhill on a smoother slope, resist the urge to stop too often or too much. Braking causes frequent knee jerks and you may end up with swollen knees afterward.
  • Downhill hike, uneven surface: It’s so easy to lock your knees if you’re not being careful, especially when declining from a steep, rocky, or muddy surface. Take a slow and steady pace only and if possible, go downhill in sideways or zigzag motion to lessen the impact on your knees.
If possible, plan a downhill hike when you’re near the end of your route and have had spent most of your energy and resources like food or water.

After your hike, see to it that your body gets the rest it needs to fully recover. If your knee pain can’t be relieved with pain medication or home remedies, see a doctor as soon as possible.

This is a guest blog entry.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

What Type of Massage is Good for Fibromyalgia?

As a therapeutic practice, massage has had its place as an alternative medicine for centuries. Tactile manipulation of the body’s soft tissues including muscles, tendons, and fascia can relieve muscle tension, loosen joints, trigger neurotransmitter activity, and promote stress relief.

When it comes to widespread pain brought on by fibromyalgia, many sufferers find themselves asking after the benefits of massage and what type is a good fit for their treatment. Don’t miss this quick guide to fibromyalgia and how massage can complement existing treatment plans:

What Causes Fibromyalgia Pain?
In addition to persistent muscle fatigue and sleep, mood and memory issues, widespread musculoskeletal pain is a hallmark symptom of the disorder known as fibromyalgia. Researchers still can’t pinpoint an exact cause of the condition, however, they have been able to conclude that fibromyalgia changes the way the brain perceives pain.

Often triggered by significant psychological stress or an event like a surgery, physical trauma, or infection, fibromyalgia symptoms appear more frequently in women than in men. Researchers have also found that fibromyalgia patients also often suffer from anxiety, depression, temporomandibular joint disorders, and irritable bowel syndrome.

Fibromyalgia pain affects both sides of the body and persists as a chronic, dull ache which lasts more than three months. A handful of factors may play an important role in triggering fibromyalgia including genetics, certain illnesses, and emotional or physical trauma (i.e. from an accident). Researchers are coming to a stronger understanding of how increases in neurotransmitters can amplify pain signals as can the memory of pain in patients with fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia pain can also be exacerbated by the accompanying day to day struggles of simply having chronic pain interfere with daily life.

Does Massage Address Fibromyalgia Pain?
In addition to integrative therapies like acupuncture, physical therapy, yoga, tai chi, and stress reduction, massage can definitely play an important role in treating fibromyalgia pain. There are myriad types of massage, however, so knowing which are best suited towards chronic pain can come in handy.

Swedish Massage
A 2017 study published in the journal Complementary Practices in Clinical Practice found that Swedish massage proved beneficial in addressing fibromyalgia pain. Twenty-four female study participants with fibromyalgia who were not taking medicine received two 40-minute Swedish massages a week over a period of three months. Researchers found that the Swedish massage therapy regimen helped to improve overall quality of life and reduce the perceived stress index and pain reported by participants.

Swedish massage is widely popular and involves the use of the hands, elbows, and forearms in gentle, sweeping strokes, kneading, and tapping to manipulate the superficial muscle layers and promote joint fluidity. Even if you have fibromyalgia and can’t book a luxury spa session, you can achieve basic massage techniques at home and improve range of motion with a massage pillow or a massage ball.

Connective Tissue Massage & Myofascial Release

Results from a 2017 study published in the journal Rheumatology International found that routine exercise coupled with connective tissue massages over a 6 week period had superior benefits in improving pain, sleep problems, and fatigue in participants with fibromyalgia syndrome (when compared with exercise alone). Connective tissue massage focuses intense manipulation of myofascial tissue, or the fibrous and thin (but strong) tissue that protects and supports muscles and bones. Foam rolling is a form of self-myofascial release that relieves painful trigger points and can also improve fatigue and musculoskeletal stiffness.

Deep Tissue & Shiatsu Massage
More focused manipulation of deeper tissues in the body may also aid fibromyalgia pain, though deep tissue massage can leave lingering soreness so fibromyalgia patients should check with their doctor first. This type of massage is best achieved by a licensed and experienced massage therapist who is familiar with tailoring therapy for chronic pain patients.

Shiatsu massage, also known as acupressure, is characterized more by forceful manipulation of targeted pressure points with narrower instruments like the fingers, thumbs, knees, feet, and elbows. It is based on the same framework used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (involving meridians and qi) but has been shown to improve pressure pain threshold, quality of sleep, and fatigue symptoms in fibromyalgia patients. Shiatsu massage techniques are also believed to boost the body’s lymphatic drainage system and restore the body’s energy.

This is a guest blog entry.

Five Great Reasons to Become a Nurse-Midwife

Have you been considering making a career change? Or perhaps you are just starting out in the world and looking to start your first career. Obviously, you want to pick an industry that is robust and filled with job opportunities and yet still appeals to and challenges you.

The healthcare industry is one that can tick all the boxes, and with the baby boomers aging and many of them leaving the workforce to retire, there are plenty of opportunities out there.

While there are all kinds of careers within the medical community, one that may prove to be especially exciting and rewarding is that of a nurse-midwife. In this position you'll be focused on women's obstetrics and health, offering a specialized level of care for women, new mothers, and even newborn babies. Let’s take a closer look at what a nurse-midwife is and five great reasons to pursue the career.

What Does a Nurse-Midwife Do?

A nurse-midwife is very similar to a Women's Health Nurse Practitioner. You will be able to work with women during pre-conception, pregnancy, the delivery stage, and then post-partum. If you happen to already be a registered nurse, you can gain more knowledge and obtain your nurse-midwifery registered nurse's degree, which will allow you to further your career within nursing.

As far as the job outlook, as mentioned this one is growing exponentially. According to statistics from the United States Bureau of Labor the fields of nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners is expected to grow by 31% between now and 2026. That is much faster than the average rate of overall job growth in the country.

When it comes to the actual job duties, you’ll be responsible for providing primary and specialty health care to women. This can include conducting a physical exam, diagnosing the patient, treating the patient, and helping the patient to manage medical conditions. You will also be responsible for educating and counseling patients, providing support during menopause and perimenopause, and caring for a newborn during the first 28 days. Of course, pregnancy care is the cornerstone of this specialized nursing career as well as assisting during the labor and delivery process.

Now let’s take a closer look at the benefits in becoming a nurse-midwife.

Excellent Salary Outlook

While it would be great to take a job simply because it seems interesting, at the end of the day everyone has bills to pay and they need to know their job will allow them to do so. The top paying roles are located in outpatient care centers where the average yearly salary is $115,070. Some areas in the United States pay higher than others. There is also a higher concentration of job opportunities and higher wages in California, Iowa, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Oregon.

To learn more about salary details for a career in midwifery visit:

Being Able to Care for Patients

Another big reason that people enter into this field is their desire to help others and offer care and support. Each patient you work with is bound to be a personal and special experience. You will be supporting that patient through pregnancy and childbirth, the most important time of their life. Your support, advice, and care will forever be remembered by them.

The Ability to Work in Various Industries and Locations

With a nurse-midwife degree you'll also have the ability to work in a variety of industries and locations. This allows you to pick and choose and find something that appeals to you. If you plan on relocating to another state at some point, you also have the peace of mind in knowing that your career can be relocated across the country and you’ll be able to find employment easily.

You'll be Working with Babies

If you're the type of person who just loves babies and can't get enough of them, what a perfect way to combine what you love with what makes you money. You'll be working with babies on a regular basis, helping them to come into the world and adjust in those all-important first few weeks.

It’s Not Your Typical Desk Job

While desk jobs are perfect for some, for others it’s enough to cause nightmares. If you’re the type of person that can’t picture yourself tied to a desk performing the same tasks day in and day out, then the excitement and variety that midwifery can offer may be perfect. Each and every day will be unique and it will never feel like a “typical desk job”.

This truly is an exciting time for anyone who has been interested field of nurse-midwifery as the industry is booming and the nursing shortages are clear. Job opportunities exist across the nation, making the salary is competitive and the rewards it can offer are incredible.

This is a guest blog entry.

4 Reasons For Bad Breath

Bad breath can be an embarrassing problem which is difficult to solve for some people. No matter how much toothpaste and mouthwash they use, that halitosis remains.There can be a number of reasons why bad breath persists, even if you have brushed your teeth and flossed, and once you know what they are, it is far easier to do something about it and have the fresh-smelling breath you’ve always wanted. However, to be 100% sure on exactly what is causing your bad breath, make it a priority to visit your local dental office. Making that early visit will help your local dentist detect the root of the problem and stop them before they become more serious. Having said that, below are the most common causes of bad breath:

After poor dental hygiene, dehydration is the leading reason why someone might have persistent bad breath. If you don’t drink enough water, the food you eat will stay in your mouth for longer because saliva alone is not enough to wash it away. When food remains, it rots, and that means bacteria are feeding on it. The breeding bacteria and rotting food combine to make a nasty odor. The problem will go away when you have more to drink though, so always make sure you are getting enough water every day. Water is by far the best thing to drink, better than tea or coffee, and far better than soda.

A Serious Illness
Although for most people bad breath is just bad breath, and there is nothing to distinguish it from anything else, scientists have noticed that there are lots of different types of bad breath – lots of different ways for it to smell, that is. Some of these stenches can actually indicate a far more serious problem, and if you experience constant halitosis, it may be a good idea to book an appointment with your doctor.

If your breath has a hint of ammonia to it, for example, that could indicate renal failure. High acetone levels can mean diabetes. Nitric oxide could mean asthma. There are many different smells, but they usually can’t be noticed just by sniffing; tests will need to be carried out.

Smokers often suffer from bad breath. There are a variety of different reasons for this, but the main one is that tobacco products lead to gum disease; the chemicals within the gums pull away from the teeth, and bad breath follows. Smoking also causes bad breath because the nicotine and other chemicals linger in the mouth causing bacteria to form there. The solution to this is very simple; stop smoking. That is, of course, easier said than done which is why e-cigarettes from Vapeshop can be a great alternative for smokers to consider.

Too Much Outdoor Air

The great outdoors is good for us, and breathing in a big lungful of fresh air can’t be a bad thing. However, it can lead to bad breath when we exercise outdoors. This is because during intense activity human beings tend to breathe through their mouths, and this dries the mouth out. Just like when you’re dehydrated, this can cause bacteria to thrive, and therefore bad breath happens easily. Being outdoors also means that pollen and other allergens can stick to your dry mouth and cause all sorts of problems. Drinking water will cure this problem, but so will moving some of your exercise to an indoor space if you can.

This is a guest blog entry.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

How To Invest In Your Mental Health

If you are going to live life to the fullest, it is important that you invest in your mental health. You need to be aware of any issues that are standing in the way of you having a good time and achieving your goals. You also need to be brave enough to confront these issues head-on, as opposed to burying your head in the sand.

In this modern age, there should no longer be a stigma around talking about mental health and working through your problems. If you are determined to invest in your mental health, you will need to pay close attention to the following six steps.

Speak with a professional

If you are seriously concerned about your mental health, it is vital that you speak with a professional as soon as possible. Regular therapy sessions will provide you with a great opportunity to work through your issues and focus on a brighter future. Even if you are fairly confident in your mental health, you could still benefit from sharing your problems with an expert. Perhaps they could offer you a new way of looking at a situation or an unusual approach to living your life. You might also find that there is an unresolved issue in your past that comes up during your therapy sessions. Instead of allowing it to fester, this could be the ideal chance for you to achieve closure.

Carry out plenty of research

Although it is important to place your trust in the experts, it is also essential that you do your own research. Of course, you need to avoid suspicious looking websites that could lead to an unfounded self-diagnosis. However, reading up on mental health is never a bad idea. Understanding the way in which your mind works will make it far easier for you to navigate the world around you. That is why you should be on the lookout for interesting advice columns, self-help guides, uplifting blogs, and inspirational talks. There are also plenty of YouTube channels to choose from when it comes to dealing with mental health. Whatever your problem, there is sure to be a solution available. For instance, if you struggle with self-confidence, you could benefit from an online tutorial on dealing with social situations. Or, if you find it hard to embrace a positive attitude, you could select a channel that focuses on a glass half full philosophy.

Confront your bad habits head on

As you learn more about your mind, you may discover that there are certain aspects of your life that are extremely unhealthy. If you are going to conquer your bad habits, it is important that you act fast. Instead of allowing the situation to spiral out of control, you should deal with the situation immediately. Why not explore the best rehab centers available? This is a fantastic opportunity for you to escape the stresses and strains of daily life and  to focus your attention on the recovery process. It is also the perfect chance for you to benefit from expert advice, without being judged for your choices. Taking this step may seem intimidating, but it could be the greatest decision you ever make.
Monitor your mood

During your journey to improved mental health, it is important that you closely monitor your mood. This will help you to celebrate your successes and re-evaluate your choices when you hit a rough patch. Whatever you do, don’t just follow the crowd. You need to find a method that works for you. One option is to write in a journal every evening. Another idea is to start a sketchbook and fill it with images that reflect your emotions. Or, if you are a big fan of technology, you could download a wide range of useful apps to help you stay on top of your emotions. Getting into a solid routine will allow you to keep moving forward, even when you feel like standing still or going backward.

Evaluate your diet

You can also establish a clear routine when it comes to evaluating your diet. Instead of taking things one meal at a time, you should create a food plan that you can enjoy throughout the week. You could even start a food diary and use it to hold yourself accountable. Just make sure that you are focusing on deeper issues than your appearance. Although it is a great thing to look your best, it is more important that you feel your best. That is why you should steer clear of counting calories and giving up your favorite dishes. Instead, you should fill your diet with plenty of mood-boosting ingredients. It is also important that you have fun with the meals that you are creating. Why not sign up to a culinary course or treat yourself to a new set of recipe books? Not only will eating well provide you with the energy you need to make it through a long day, but it will also help you to enjoy a positive relationship with your mind and body.

Take up regular exercise

Another way of achieving this is by taking up regular exercise. Whenever you complete a successful workout, you will be hit with a rush of endorphins. This is an immediate way for you to improve your outlook and embrace a positive mindset. Signing up for a gym membership or attending an exercise class could also be a great opportunity for you to meet new people. If you are going to feel good about yourself, it is vital that you are surrounded by like-minded individuals who are also looking to embrace a positive lifestyle and outlook. Even if you decide exercise alone, you will still be benefiting from a natural stress relief that will lower your levels of anxiety and help you to work through any pent-up aggression. Don’t worry about your existing fitness levels or a lack of coordination; the most important thing is that you are out there giving it your best shot.

This is a guest blog entry.

Endometriosis Awareness Month: Understanding a Common Condition

Endometriosis is a common condition plaguing women around the world, with an estimated one in every ten experiencing the disease. When endometriosis takes place, the tissue normally found in the womb grows elsewhere, from the pelvis to the abdomen and even the lungs. The growing womb tissue can cause severe pain in women, along with infertility and other debilitating effects. Although it is prevalent among women of reproductive age, endometriosis is often misunderstood and widely misdiagnosed at its onset. For that reason, March is deemed Endometriosis Awareness Month each year. Throughout the month, individuals of all ages are encouraged to increase their understanding of what endometriosis is, how it is diagnosed, as well as the treatment options and support available to women living with the condition.

Symptoms and Warning Signs

Endometriosis comes with a variety of symptoms and warning signs, with the most common being pain during menstruation that leaves women unable to function normally. In addition to period discomfort, often referred to as dysmenorrhea, that exceeds normal levels of pain, women with endometriosis may also experience the following:
  • Pain during intercourse
  • Discomfort with bowel movements or urination
  • Excessive bleeding, either during or in between periods
  • Infertility
  • Fatigue and exhaustion
  • Diarrhea and constipation
  • Bloating
  • Nausea
  • Back and abdomen pain 
While these symptoms are common, they often range in severity for women with endometriosis. Depending on how large the tissue growth is and where it is located, women may also experience shortness of breath or trouble breathing.

Endometriosis does not have one singular cause, which makes it a complex and difficult to understand condition. Some women who experience retrograde menstruation may ultimately be diagnosed with endometriosis. Others may have hormones transform into embryonic cells which then implant in other areas of the body, or problems with an immune disorder that leads to tissue growth outside the reproductive organs. In any case of endometriosis, there is a high probability that it will be misdiagnosed initially given the complexity of its symptoms and causes.

Diagnosis of Endometriosis

The reason endometriosis is so often misdiagnosed for another condition, or no condition at all, is just as complex as the condition itself. High rates of misdiagnosis and medical negligence claims occur with endometriosis because of the stigma attached to menstruation pain, explains a solicitor that works with these type of cases. Some medical providers simply connect the symptoms of endometriosis with made-up or exaggerated period discomfort – something women are encouraged to work through alone. In other cases, endometriosis may be incorrectly diagnosed as a sexually transmitted infection, a urinary tract infection, or irritable bowel syndrome.

These issues with endometriosis misdiagnosis often mean women wait more than eight years to receive the correct information and education about their disease. When this takes place, endometriosis patients are left feeling hopeless, with no real recourse for their pain or other debilitating symptoms. For some, a course of treatment for another condition is suggested, which provides no respite for the underlying problem. This is why getting the right diagnosis is critical to help women with endometriosis, no matter how severe their symptoms. Currently, the disease is only diagnosable through laparoscopy from a trained specialist, to which many women are never referred.

Treatment and Support

Women who are properly diagnosed with endometriosis have several options for treatment, including surgery to remove the tissue growth outside the reproductive organs. Some doctors suggest less invasive approaches to treatment first, however, such as lifestyle changes to cut out dairy and gluten, increased physical activity, and stress reduction strategies at home. Pain medication may also be recommended when women are unable to function as they normally would.

One of the most helpful aspects of endometriosis treatment, however, is support from friends, family members, and members of the medical community who understand that the disease is a real issue that has impacts on a woman’s life. Throughout Endometriosis Awareness Month, there are several events and educational sessions put on by charitable organizations, designed to not only support and encourage women living with the disease, but also to help supporters recognize the best ways to provide help when it is needed most.

This is a guest blog entry.

Monday, March 19, 2018

10 Simple Swaps to Improve Your Health

You’re probably in a rush right now, wondering who has the time to change their lifestyle or the patience to abstain from the luxuries they enjoy? The pace of modern life barely seems to allow for healthy living! Fortunately, this doesn’t have to be the case, and by swapping certain elements rather than completely altering your lifestyle, you will be amazed at how much your life can improve. Check out these 10 quick tips:

1. Swap the Office Chair for an Exercise Ball
The evolution of the body is yet to catch up with the threat of endless hours straining over a desk, which is why you need to give it a fighting chance. One highly recommended option is to use an exercise ball as a chair because they keep the lower body engaged, realign your spine, and can even burn a few extra calories throughout the day.

2. Swap the Dinner for a More Active Date

Going out for a big meal with loads of drinks or watching a film with a huge tub of popcorn isn’t exactly the ideal definition of fitness, which is why you should surprise your date by suggesting something more interesting, such as ice skating, miniature golf, or even a romantic hike. These physically active options are not only fun, but they will also impress your date with just how uniquely exciting you are.

3. Swap the Forks for Chopsticks
Eating too fast has been linked to obesity and metabolic syndrome, which means a higher risk of heart disease and diabetes. Force yourself to slow down by learning how to master the chopsticks, allowing your stomach to work at much easier pace, while you’ll look very fancy with your proficient East Asian skills.

4. Swap Couch Gaming for Exergaming

Keep playing your video games, but do so in the name of health! Connect up your Wii Fit or Just Dance and then jump around the living room, shaking those calories right off of your body. You will still experience that rewarding sense of achievement as you reach new levels and unlock bonus content, except in these games, the achievement is actually real.

5. Swap Rubbing for Patting Yourself Dry

After a shower, your warm damp skin is at its prime level for absorbing moisture, including any creams or oils you should be applying. However, if you’re rubbing yourself dry, you are eradicating these moisture benefits while risking a skin irritation. Be kind to your outer surface and pat yourself dry with a clean towel, preferably one which is extra soft and fluffy.

6. Swap Butter for Avocado
While the butter health debate rages on, rather tune out by venturing down the avocado path. You will consume around a quarter the number of calories, all saturated fats are replaced by the good fats, and you’ll receive an additional 20 vitamins and minerals for good measure. It also tastes much better, some may say.

7. Swap the Television for a Book

Of course, it’s far easier to collapse on the couch and turn your brain off by turning your TV on, but a book engages with much deeper regions of your mind, stimulating your imagination by playing the story in your head and improving your overall language skills at the same time. Not to mention that a book will also help you fall asleep in a snap.

8. Swap Driving for Walking or Cycling
This may be a difficult order for some people, but if you can ride your bike to work instead of using a car or a train, give it a try! You may find you arrive at your destination much faster as you skip traffic and take shortcuts, all the while burning your calories, upping your heart rate, and breathing in so much fresh air that you won’t even need your morning coffee.

9. Swap Beer for Wine

As much as certain people consider beer to be a holy beverage, it’s worth noting that the term “beer belly” exists for a reason. The carbohydrates in this drink are infamous for halting the fat burning process, which is interesting when comparing these figures to the relatively low carbs and sugar content in wine (dry white or red). Of course, to reach the maximum health level it is good to limit alcohol intake overall.

10. Swap Salad Dressings for Balsamic Vinegar or Olive Oil

Nothing says “healthy salad” quite like a bottle of goo loaded with saturated fat, sodium, and sugar. Stop! Clear out your fridge of such detrimental condiments and replace them with some balsamic vinegar and/or olive oil, which work together to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, using vitamin K, vitamin E, and healthy unsaturated fats, all to bless your meal with love.

This a guest blog entry.

Friday, March 16, 2018

8 Reasons to Get an Online Nursing Degree

Many people today are opting for an online nursing degree for many reasons. There are several benefits of getting into an online nursing program when compared to traditional programs. Not only that, but online nursing degrees are being accepted by the most prestigious healthcare facilities. Here are eight reasons why you should get an online nursing degree.

1. Convenience and Flexibility

With an online nursing program, you have much more flexibility when it comes to scheduling the time and duration of your lessons. With an online nursing degree, you’ll be able to continue to work while learning, which makes it very convenient, especially when you’re not able to enrol full time. You can also decide on the entire length of the program depending on your preference. An online nursing program from an institution such as Purdue University Global (which has 11 different nursing programs currently) will give you the option to choose from multiple start dates making it that much more convenient.

2. Numerous Specialization Options

Online nursing programs offer many different specialization options depending on your interests. You’ll get the opportunity to specialize in either types of treatments, organs you deal with, specific health conditions or body system types. It is also possible to combine two or three specialization areas when you opt for an online program due to flexibility. Not only that, but registered nurses that want to further their studies find online degrees to be the best options in many cases, since they already have the foundation needed and can fit their school time with their busy schedules more easily. This allows them to seek higher positions or choose to go into a more specialized field if they want to add more feathers to their cap.

3. Reduced Expenses

With an online degree you’ll be able to cut down on several expenses, like transportation and lodging for instance. Online learning is often cheaper when compared to on-campus education since universities don’t have to deal with all the overheads. Unlike on-campus students, you won't have to worry about additional payments like activity and treatment fees. As a result, you’ll have reduced student loans that will be easier to repay once you secure employment.

4. Guaranteed Quality of Education

Contrary to popular belief, online schools receive just the same accreditation as traditional campuses. You don't need to worry about getting a poor quality education once you enrol in an accredited online school. Online nursing programs have a lot of resources that you’ll be able to access if you need assistance. Most online institutions will also give you exclusive access to the teaching staff which will make it easier for you to get assistance with a particular topic.

5. You Could Take Your Degree to a Higher Level

With an online nursing program, your education doesn't need to stop at the bachelors or associates level. Many online nursing schools will give you the option of upgrading to a doctoral or master's degree program at a time of your choosing. A bachelor's degree doesn't necessarily have to be the end of the nursing program for you.

6. You Can Create Your Learning Environment

Not everyone is comfortable with classroom learning due to several different reasons. Some, for instance, do not cope well with the distractions in a normal learning environment. When you decide to take an online class, you’ll be able to create your own learning environment to suit your particular needs. Learning will be much easier once you can control the type of setting that best suits you. You could decide to take your classes outside in an open space, in your favorite coffee shop or library, or from home according to your preference.

7. Ease of Interaction Between Students

It’s quite easy to interact with fellow students and share ideas when taking an online course, mainly due to the convenience technology offers. Traditional programs may limit interactions because students are usually too distracted by other activities after classes. Online platforms have made it easy for students to hold discussions and you could also refer back to the conversations should you encounter any difficulties.

8. Job Security

There is a massive shortage of nurses mainly due to the rising need for quality healthcare. Nurses are in demand, and the demand is expected to go even higher in the coming years due to the ‘baby boomers’ generation having more healthcare needs. And there are sectors where nurses are in much higher demand, such as prenatal care for instance. Once you complete your online nursing program, you will almost be guaranteed to get employment from either the private or public sector.

An online nursing degree is an excellent career choice that can open up a wide variety of employment options. All you need to do is find the right program for you and fully dedicate yourself to your studies.

This is a guest blog entry.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Some of the Effects Caused by Aging for Men and Women

As you grow older your body begins to show the tell-tale signs of aging. You may experience bouts of sleeplessness, notice more wrinkles forming daily, your hair thinning and have trouble maintaining a healthy weight. The good news is that these are all common with old age and there are ways to combat them. 

Wrinkles and Sagging Skin

As you age you start to lose the elasticity that keeps skin firm and the natural oils that keep it moisturized. This slow process starts with a few small lines and then leads to deep wrinkles and noticeably drier skin. Luckily, there are ways to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and restore moisture to the skin. If you don't want to have surgery you can opt to use a peel or scrub, or moisturizers that contain collagen, Retin-A, and peptides. It's also beneficial to avoid direct sunlight and when spending a day outdoors that you protect your head by wearing a hat and use sunscreen on your face and body.

Bladder Control Issues

Many people, men, and women experience a loss of bladder control as they age. Maybe you laugh or sneeze or have sudden urges and no time to make it to the restroom and you then leak. This can be due to weak or overactive bladder muscles, a weak pelvis, damage to nerves and blockage due to an enlarged prostate. There are ways to correct this through surgery. However, if you don't want to have the surgery, you can use incontinence pads offered by companies like Men's Liberty.

Hair Loss

As you grow older you may experience hair loss. This is a normal aging process wherein hair gradually begins to thin on areas of the body such as the scalp, legs, pubic area, and under your armpits. This is caused by a decline in pigment cells and hair follicles not producing at the same rate as when you are younger. Generally, once a man reaches the age of 60 years he will have some thinning and even bald areas on the scalp. For women, this can happen too after menopause. There are topical solutions available over the counter that can help restore hair slowly. However, if you have highly-visible thin or bald spots you may need to have hair implants to restore your hair.

Weight Gain

As you grow older your metabolism begins to slow. For men and women who love to eat large meals, this can cause them to gain weight. Unfortunately, if you compound the reduced metabolism with a less active lifestyle you are going to gain weight. Thankfully, you are in control of your weight. If you enjoy eating meals with a high caloric intake join a gym, walk or swim several times a week to burn up the added calories. Or, you can cut back on the amount you eat by eating a light breakfast or dinner and enjoying your favorite foods at lunch. Instead of eating dessert nightly have it as a treat once a week.


Staying fit is important at any age, but as you grow older it becomes harder to maintain muscle mass. The good news is that it's not impossible to get physically fit in your 50s, 60s or even your 70s. The solution is to remain active. You can play golf, join a gym or take long walks or go dancing. In between your workouts you should also add a bit of spring to your steps and get out and enjoy living. Any form of activity is going to help you to age well and keep your body’s internal organs functioning properly.


Women and men may start to have trouble falling and staying asleep as they grow older. There are many reasons why this can happen including types of medication, underlying health problems, depression, anxiety, inactivity or bladder issues. If you take several medications and have trouble sleeping check with your doctor to see if there's another medication you can take. If you feel tired early in the day and nap for an hour, try avoiding the nap. If you feel anxious or depressed you can talk to your family or see a therapist.

It's natural to experience changes in your appearance and your body as you grow older. If you feel that any of the changes you are going through are alarming make an appointment with your doctor to make certain that something more serious isn't going on.

This is a blog post by Nancy Evans.

Expert Guide to Patellar Tendonitis

Worried you may have “jumper’s knee”? The all too common knee injury, patellar tendonitis, most often plagues athletes in high-impact sports like basketball, running, and volleyball, or people with knee-heavy hobbies like cycling.

What is Patellar Tendonitis?
Tendonitis, or the general term given for injury to any tendon in your body, is no stranger to the tendon which connects your patella (kneecap) to your tibia (shinbone). Working in conjunction with muscles groups like your quadriceps, the patellar tendon allows you to flex and extend your knee with motions like jumping, kicking, and running.

Repeated stress to the patellar tendon with physical activity causes microtrauma in the form of tiny tears that multiply over time. This leads to inflammation, pain, and tendon weakness which can affect your performance, workouts, you name it.

It’s not just overuse with knee-heavy activities that puts you at risk for this type of tendonitis, however. A muscle imbalance (stronger leg muscles in some areas and not others) can cause an uneven pull on the patellar tendon, and tight thigh muscles can also increase strain on it.

Sudden increases in the distance, duration, and type of jumping, running, or cycling activity you do can additionally stress the tendon as can something as seemingly innocuous as changing running shoes.

What are the Symptoms?

Initial stages of patellar tendonitis will feel like a pain at the front of your knee cap where the tendon rests, especially as you begin exercising or just after an intense workout or game. If pain grows to a point where you can no longer tackle your physical activity or even complete daily tasks with ease (like climbing stairs), it’s critical to rest and contact your doctor. Additional symptoms of redness, swelling, and tenderness around the knee joint can indicate that the tendonitis is worsening.

How is Patellar Tendonitis Treated?
The good news is that this type of tendonitis is often treated without invasive procedures. Icing the area will help to constrict blood vessels to reduce swelling and numb the nerves sending pain signals back to your brain. Also limiting the activity which led to the injury for a while will play an important role in your healing, though maintaining joint mobility is key. Low-impact activities like yoga, walking, and swimming will be good cross-training activities to tackle while you recover.

If you continue to play high-impact sports through the pain or take over-the-counter painkillers that inhibit your own sense of how much pain you are in, you could increase the amount and severity of the tears in your patellar tendon. A doctor may have to conduct imaging tests (like x-rays or MRIs) in addition to a manual exam and possible ultrasound to evaluate the degree of injury and formulate a treatment plan for you.

Prolonged tendonitis like that which lasts more than 3 weeks can transition into patellar tendinopathy and may require more comprehensive treatment methods including:
  • Physical therapy - stretching and strengthening exercises can help make your muscles and tendon more limber as well as reinforce weak thigh muscles that contribute to the strain on your knee joint.
  • Orthotics - wearing a knee tendonitis brace or “knee strap” during physical activity will also offer you more knee support and protection while you heal by distributing force away from your injured tendon.
  • Injection - a dose of corticosteroid injected straight into the sheath surrounding your patellar tendon can help minimize painful inflammation but may also contribute to tendon rupture.
  • Low electrical currents - a therapy called Iontophoresis uses low electrical currents to push a topical steroid ointment through your skin.
  • Surgery - in rare cases, surgery may be required. Small incisions around your knee allow surgeons to insert instruments to help repair the tendon.
Preventing Patellar Tendonitis
The truth is, like with most overuse injuries, patellar tendonitis is virtually completely preventable. Playing through pain is quite possibly the worst thing you can do, so at the first wince of exercise-related knee pain, ice the joint, rest, and limit your activity for a while that was causing the flare-up.

Stretching and strengthening key leg muscles to offset some of the stress placed on your knee joints plays an important role as well. Even a practice as simple as raising one leg at a time while sitting and slowly lowering it towards the ground can help.

If you are looking to up your running mileage, your basketball training schedule, or the slope on which you cycle, check with personal trainers at your gym or even online resources about best practices and good technique. Proper body mechanics when you play any sport are critical to avoiding common fitness injuries like this one.

This is a guest blog entry.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

How the XYO Network Can Help Hospitals Avoid Life-Threatening Mistakes

Hospitals are supposed to be places that will heal you; if you are sick, you depend on the hospital systems and staff to keep you alive. Unfortunately, the trust we all place in current hospital systems might be unjustified. According to a study by John Hopkins School of Medicine, medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States.

Medical errors range from unnecessary surgeries and inappropriate administration of drugs to misfiled information and operational errors but are all completely avoidable. Even the simplest of medical mistakes can have life-threatening consequences.

XY Oracle Network has found a solution to this pervasive problem through the use of its XYO Network.

What is the XY Oracle Network?

The XY Oracle Network (XYO Network) is a system of connected devices that verify data to create a trustless and decentralized system. The connected devices include Sentinels (The Data Gatherers), Bridges (The Data Relayers), Archivists (The Data Storers) and Diviners (The Answer Aggregators).

In a real-world scenario, the Sentinels would gather location-based information through sensors or other types of data collection methods. The Bridges would take this data from the Sentinels and give it to the Archivists. The Archivists would store the information and ultimately pass the information to the Diviners. Finally, the Diviners could analyze the location heuristics (data points based on real-world information relative to the location of the Sentinel) and generate answers to questions as well as assign them an accuracy score.

A key point is the accuracy score, also known as the Origin Chain Score, which confirms the data that businesses and other entities would want to verify. The location-based aspect of the XYO Network allows for data to be tracked and stored independently of a centralized system, and therefore eliminates some (if not most) of the uncertainty in the veracity of the data in the Origin Chain Score. All of the data in the chain can be traced back to a time, date and location for verification.

The XYO Network can be used to solve problems for a variety of businesses and other organizations that lack the means to verify the origin location of data. It helps to more conveniently store data in a way that is verifiable. The potential applications of this network are seemingly limitless.

Why are hospitals making so many life-threatening mistakes?

More and more people are dying or are seriously injured by medical mistakes, but what are hospitals doing about it? Of course, they are trying their best to lessen these significant mistakes. However, it is hard to do with the systems they currently have available to them.

Hospitals are environments with a fast pace and high stakes atmosphere. You almost never walk into a hospital unless something is horribly wrong. The doctors, nurses, and other staff have a lot on their plates as the hop from patient to patient trying to administer appropriate medical procedures with the information they have available.

What information do they have available? The charts in their hands might not be the most accurate documents in the world, which is a huge problem. Without accurate information, how can these medical professionals be expected to do their job well?

Hospital staff members are also responsible for recording and disseminating the information associated with each patient through computer systems that may not accurately reflect all of their needs. The simple fact that humans make mistakes ensures that this system will produce some medical errors. With all of the possibilities for a mistake, it is amazing that there are not even more medical errors.

If the problem is in the information, why hasn’t it been remedied yet?  Traditional computers systems in hospitals are just not that great at minimizing mistakes. The systems are centralized, easily inaccurate on accident, inadequate for the job at hand and rely on error-prone humans to enter the appropriate information.

How can blockchain projects help hospitals?

The XYO Network could tie itself into the existing operational framework of hospitals without a large disruption and potentially eliminate or reduce the number of medical error deaths and injuries in the hospital. The XYO network would eliminate the common communication failures and record keeping mix-ups that allows many people to die or be seriously injured by medical errors.

The XYO network would provide a trustless and decentralized system of independently verified medical records of all patient interactions in the hospital. These interactions would include patient interaction with all staff members and interactions with common hospital equipment. Interactions with hospital equipment would lead to the recording of a patient’s vital signs, treatment details, medications administered, test results and more. A combination of all this information would lead to an organized chain of information for each patient in the hospital.

Imagine what that would mean for hospital patients and staff! The medical staff would have the accurate information they need to appropriately treat their patients with confidence. If medical professionals were provided with this accurate information on the patient in front of them, then medical errors would likely decrease dramatically.

Hospitals would benefit because medical errors are a huge problem in their business. No business wants to kill its patients by accident.

The patients would also benefit substantially from the installation of the XYO Network in their hospital because it is less likely that a medical error would injure or kill them.

How would the XYO Network be used in a hospital setting?

The basic premise of the XYO Network involving Sentinels, Bridges, Archivists, and Diviners would remain the same. The network would just be implemented in a new setting on existing hospital infrastructure.

Currently, when a patient enters the hospital they are given an identification bracelet. After the XYO Network has been implemented, the identification bracelet will double as an XYO Network Sentinel. The Sentinel on the patient’s wrist would remain with him or her as they progressed through the different parts of the hospital. As the patient was taken from place to place, the Sentinel would record any interactions with other devices on the XYO Network. The number and type of devices that could be on the network is extensive, but would likely vary based on the treatment available at a given hospital. These other devices would also act as Sentinels that recorded the information for each patient that was connected to the machine. As various doctors and nurses treat the patient, the interactions would be recorded on the patient’s ledger, as well as the Sentinel associated with that hospital staff member.

Each of these interactions would be recorded to create a comprehensive log of verifiable data that is easily accessible to any medical professional attempting to provide the best possible care to their patient. The log would include all of the interactions between hospital staff and patients, patient vital signs, treatment details, test results and more. The log of data would serve as the most important part of the system because, without the complete set of knowledge, the problem of inaccurate and incomplete records would not be solved.

A patient’s monitor would act as a Bridge to an Archivist. The hospital staff would still be able to query the Diviner for information on their patient if they wanted to find any specific information.

The difference between this and current hospital systems is that these interactions would be recorded by the XYO Network and could be verified with a high degree of certainty. Each interaction can be traced back to a verified time, place and location.  This would allow medical staff to trust the information in the patient log, instead of just hoping that no critical errors have been made along the way. If something does not seem right to the doctor, then he or she can easily verify the information through the patient ledger and the Diviner.

How would implementing the XYO Network reduce medical errors?

Record keeping errors can have catastrophic effects that lead to life-threatening medical errors.  People make mistakes, it just happens. The sheer number of records that are made each day in any individual hospital makes the possibility of a mistake very probable.

A patient can be in the hospital for days, weeks or even months at a time. Given that long time frame, the possibility for human error in the recording of any of the information necessary for effective treatment is large. However, if the XYO Network is implemented in these hospital systems, the potential for human error would be eliminated.

If hospitals were to implement this system, then devastating medical errors would likely decrease as a direct result of verifiable data that can be easily traced back to a date, time and location of the creation of the record. It would help doctors make better treatment plans and help more patients survive their already tenuous time in the hospital.

Mistakes in hospital record keeping are a real problem, but it the XYO Network has a viable solution to offer to hospitals. The simple fact that all of the patient’s data would be independently verified by a location-based system means that there would be a decrease in medical error deaths as a result of more accurate record keeping.

This is a blog post by Nancy Evans.