Functional Neurology
of Middlesex County
Gregory Symko, D.C., D.A.B.C.N.
747 Main Street Suite 205
Concord, MA 01742
978.369.7070
Directions & Office Hours

Posts about the topic: Pain

Dr. Symko, Concord-area Functional Neurologist, and Functional Medical Practitioner and the Evolution of Health, Part Two.

Evolution of Healthcare, Part Two

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Western medicine is very good at acute-care but is not the panacea for disease prevention. There needs to be a change the way we handle chronic disease.

Healthcare has often been called ill to the pill medicine. For example, someone has a complaint about high blood pressure, arthritis, heartburn, acid reflux, or depression and there is a pill for that. For every single disease that is labeled, it has a pill attached to it, and insurance continues to pay for this.

The incentive for Western medicine is to get paid for a diagnosis, and not an outcome. For many years health care has named the problem, blamed the problem, tamed the problem with medication, and then billed for it.

The problem with this approach is that it’s not improving our overall health. We are not thinking about functional medicine, or about getting to the underlying cause of someone’s ailment. No one is looking at the whole person’s body, mind, emotions and spirit in looking at how all our systems interact.

The 2009 World Economic Forum discovered that chronic disease is the most severe threat to today’s economic development.
In 2010 the United States spent over $8 billion on therapy. Most of this is going to therapy such as cholesterol-lowering medication, antidepressants, and anti-psychotics.

In 2013, Harvey Fineberg, President of the Institute of Medicine stated, “the nation’s current health trajectory is lower in success hiring costs than it should be.”

According to the World Health Organization, 70 to 90% of all colonic disease is related to lifestyle and environment.

I’ll finish with a quote by Albert Einstein, “We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them.”

But don’t despair, Part Three will have some solutions to our challenges!!

Dr. Symko, Concord-area Functional Neurologist, and Functional Medical Practitioner writes about the Evolution of Health.

The Evolution of Health

I was thinking about health and the system we currently have in place when the above phrase came to mind.

Healthcare has evolved over the centuries but so have our ailments.  There was a time when a tooth abscess could kill a person, or a minor scrap could cause a massive infection.  Today, fortunately, these seem minor.

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Unfortunately, now we have heart disease, kidney disease, liver disease and cancer, not to mention chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, diabetes, MS, and the list goes on.

Some say we have these diseases because we are living longer, but others say it is because of how we treat ourselves.

According to the World Health Organization, most modern diseases are due to lifestyle choices.

It is becoming clear that that is the case, so what are the correct lifestyle choices?  Some would say a vegetarian diet and plenty of exercise is the best.  Others would argue that a diet based on meat along with exercise is the best, some say food is not that important, but Yoga or meditation.

There are as many opinions about what the right choices are as there are people on the planet.  So what works?

Here are a few examples.  First, my mother-in-law and my next door neighbor, both are in the mid to late nineties.  Neither relies on a cane or walker; they walk up and down a flight of stairs never getting out of breath or needing help other that holding onto the railing.  Both think and speak clearly; both are well-informed and funny.

What did they do to encourage such good health?

My mother-in-law does not drive, never drank alcohol or smoked, and neither did my next door neighbor.

So is that the answer?  Not sure, but it certainly helped.

Another example is women in Asia that climb trees for fruit, well into their nineties.  My mother-in-law and neighbor could climb trees to collect fruit.  So what kind of lifestyle do those women have?

The last example is a the Sioux Chief Red Cloud.  He was riding horses and fighting battles well into his eighties.  (I’m not sure I could ride a horse now, and I’m only in my 50’s!)  What kind of lifestyle did he have?  He slept, walked a lot, probably smoked, but he ate buffalo and root vegetables.

What are the commonalities between these people that we can put together to follow a lifestyle that can copy theirs?  Is there a central thread or habit that we should incorporate into our daily lives?  That is for the next blog.

What is Frozen Shoulder?

It is important to know the source of shoulder pain so treatment can be effective and prevent further damage to the shoulder and surrounding structures.

 

What do we know about shoulders?

  • The shoulder is a very complex joint that is important to many activities of daily living.
  • Adhesive capsulitis is used to refer to a problem with the shoulder itself.
  • Secondary Adhesive Capsulitis refers other issues affecting the shoulder and not the shoulder itself.
  • Active range of motion will most likely be limited and painful in both cases, but decreased passive range of motion, which is often painful as well, most likely indicates problems with the shoulder joint itself.
  • Adhesive capsulitis, most commonly referred to as frozen shoulder (FS), is an idiopathic disease with two principal characteristics: pain and contracture.
  • Limitation of external rotation (*which is the first direction affected) is due to contracture of the coracohumeral ligament which prevents the greater tuberosity from further movement.

As you can see by the above, it takes a great deal of careful examination to figure out why there is a frozen shoulder.  Look here for more and how it might be treated.

Dr. Symko, Concord-area Functional Neurologist and Functional Medical Practitioner, continues to write about back pain.

It is clear to me that we do not know enough about back pain.

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One morning a long-time patient whom I hadn’t seen in a while asked if he could talk to me about a problem he had for over eighteen months.

At first, he stated that he had back and hip pain.  Before our appointment, he went to the orthopedic doctor who prescribed physical therapy for the back; however, his back felt worse after the treatment.  (He was doing a whole range of back and hip exercises.)

He then received a series of cortisone injections in his back and hips.  The injections did not help, but in fact, aggravated the pain, making it worse.  Even walking up and down stairs was problematic.

I examined him which included discussing his symptoms, like what type of pain, where did it hurt, how does it hurt, what makes it hurt and what makes it feel better. Once I had an idea as to what might be the problem, I performed a few orthopedic tests to help me confirm what I thought the problem was.

I determined that the primary issue was his hip, which was causing pain, but also causing a problem in his lower back.  He had a physically demanding job, and it has taken a toll on his hip, and because of this, his back was also affected.

I directed treatment to his hip, which only helped a little, so I then suggested an MRI of both hips.  The MRI revealed that he had a tear in the ligament supporting his hips.  One was worse than the other.  He needed surgery.

It is hard to say, but if the issue was figured out eighteen months before his visit with me, chances are his hips would not have been as bad.

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Dr. Symko, Concord-area Functional Neurologist and Functional Medical Practitioner, What You Should Know About Back Pain.

Eighty percent of us will suffer from back pain, it is one of the leading causes of not going to work costing the US about 635 billion dollars annually.  That is a lot of pain.

Why is it so hard to figure out how to treat back pain?  I think the answer lies first in what we don’t know about backs.  You might hear that backs are complicated, or that “we don’t know everything about backs”.

In fact, is a lot of information out there and many little tidbits about the back and why we have pain.  Here are just 10.

  1. Backs are meant to move in a variety of directions without causing any pain.
  2. There are two types of muscle groups found in our back; fast twitch (stabilizers) and slow twitch (movers).
  3. Each type requires a different set of exercises to help them to be strong.
  4. Sitting for long periods is not good for back health.
  5. Pain is not always caused by a disc bulge.
  6. Movement is one of the best cures for back pain.
  7. It is not always necessary to have an x-ray or MRI of the back to determine what is wrong.
  8. The majority of back pain is of a functional nature and not a structural one.
  9. Simple orthopedic testing can help determine what is causing the pain and where it is coming from.
  10. The longer there is back pain the harder it is to correct.

If you have back pain and don’t know where it is coming from or how to heal it, we can help!  Give us a call or connect on email:  978-369-7070; drsymko@gmail.com.

 

Dr Symko, Concord-area Functional Neurologist, writes about how the brain can cause chronic back pain.

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On the surface, it may not seem like the brain governs the movement stability components of our spines and the rest of our bodies and core muscles, but it’s true. Normal core stability provides a healthy body with the ability to perform normal good quality movements. This means that a little amount of energy will be exerted to execute highly efficient movements.

However, when the body experiences pain, the brain changes its activation strategy to high energy/low efficient movements. This altered control that the brain has over movement is clearly visible in the presence of pain, but even where there isn’t any pain, subtle physical tests can detect significant muscle control changes in people with a history of chronic back pain. This is why you can have pain in your back, shoulder, or elbow without having had an injury.

Many times, this sort of brain adjustment goes unnoticed and untreated. People often get treated for the pain and not the root cause of the problem. That’s where the ATM comes in. No, it’s not the thing you can get your money out of, but you will see great returns. ATM2® stands for Active Therapeutic Movement, and it’s a machine that helps create neutral-range movement while holding the proper body position. In other words, it helps retrain your brain to function correctly and not hurt your posture or back muscles. A few movement exercises are performed, usually 10-30. The proper body position is essential, because it will ensure that the active movement will alter the brain activation strategy from abnormal to normal.

This should produce immediate pain reduction and improved range of motion.

The ATM2®is designed to enable doctors to prescribe quality weight-bearing active movements. We use restraining belts that are connected to the ATM support pad to obtain passive joint re-positioning and stabilization. This helps reduce symptoms. Then we perform specific exercises using a harness connected to resistance bands.

Polymyalgia rheumatica is a term for widespread muscle aches and stiffness.

Traditional treatment and knowledge of this disease is limited and generally ineffective.  Functional Healthcare is very effective in helping with this issue.   Those of you who have been reading my posts know how I feel about a traditional diagnosis.  They are used so that the office visit can be billed to the insurance company, but it is not very specific so it does not tell you how you might be able to help some one with this problem.

So as a Functional health care provider, I dig deep and find the potential cause of all the aches, stiffness, fatigue.  One of the hallmarks of this disease is that it is inflammatory, that is why it is traditionally treated with steroids.but this does not address the issue as to why there is inflammation and why all the pain and stiffness?  Is it coming form certain part of the brain, is it what you are eating, is it stress or how stress is handled.  It could be any one of these or all of them.

PainIt just takes time to find out.  It is your health and you deserve a health care provider that takes the time to find out and investigate these areas.  There are no silver bullets.  That is what functional health care does.  It finds out why.