IS YOUR CHRONIC NECK PAIN AFFECTING YOUR BRAIN AND NERVOUS SYSTEM?
"According to an NIH study released last year, some 25.3 million American adults have experienced chronic pain every day for the past three months. Chronic pain is a poorly understood condition in which the nervous system consistently fires out pain signals for a long period of time, sometimes without an actual injury to trigger it, and it turns out that it might change our bodies on a genetic level. A new study out of McGill University is one of the first to find that chronic pain may change the DNA in our immune systems and brain." From the January 28 issue of MedicalDaily.com (Chronic Pain Changes DNA In The Brain And Immune System) by Lecia Bushak
"Chronic musculoskeletal pain is one of the most intractable clinical problems faced by clinicians and can be devastating for patients. Perhaps no other symptom induces such fear and loathing as chronic pain. Most images of pain are focused on portraying negative emotions and the intrusive nature of the pain experience. Clinicians as people fear chronic pain, a symptom that demands attention and intrudes into every aspect of a person's life. Clinicians also loathe chronic pain, perhaps the symptom that brings more patients into our practices than any other but also the symptom most likely to make us feel helpless as healers" Dr. Leslie Crofford from a 2015 issue of the Transactions of the American Clinical And Climatological Association (Chronic Pain: Where the Body Meets the Brain)
"Some recent studies have also shown that chronic pain can actually affect a person’s brain chemistry and even change the wiring of the nervous system. Cells in the spinal cord and brain of a person with chronic pain, especially in the section of the brain that processes emotion, deteriorate more quickly than normal, exacerbating many of the depression-like symptoms. It becomes physically more difficult for people with chronic pain to process multiple things at once and react to ongoing changes in their environment, limiting their ability to focus even more. Sleep also becomes difficult, because the section of the brain that regulates sense-data also regulates the sleep cycle. Untreated pain creates a downward spiral of chronic pain symptoms, so it is always best to treat pain early and avoid chronic pain." Integrative Pain Center of Arizona (The Long-Term Effects of Untreated Chronic Pain)
"Chronic pain is certainly a difficult condition to live with, affecting everything from your activity levels and your ability to work to your personal relationships and emotional states. But did you know that it could also be affecting your brain and the way that it functions? Chronic pain doesn’t just affect a singular region of the brain, but in fact results in changes to multiple important regions, which are involved in many critical functions and processes. Various studies over the years have found changes to the hippocampus, in addition to reduction of gray matter in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, amygdala, brainstem and right insular cortex, to name a few. Pain’s effects on the brain may seem overwhelming, but there’s good research to suggest that the changes are not permanent; they can be reversed when patients receive treatment for their painful conditions. “Gray matter abnormalities found in chronic pain,” a 2009 study concluded, “do not reflect brain damage, but rather are a reversible consequence … which normalizes when the pain is adequately treated.” The 2011 study concurred, suggesting that “treating chronic pain can restore normal brain function in humans.”" From Brenda Poppy's post (How Pain Can Seriously Affect Your Brain) on the Pain Management Resource Blog
We already know that about 1/3 of all Americans (about 100,000,000 million people) are dealing with some degree of Chronic Pain (HERE). And of these, according to the American Academy of Pain Medicine, not quite one third are coping with HEADACHES and CHRONIC NECK PAIN --- tied for the number two cause of Chronic Pain behind LOW BACK PAIN. If you are one of the millions of people dealing with Chronic Neck Pain, what do you do when THE MEDICATIONS no longer work? It's a question that each and every one of you in this boat has or will be asking, if for no other reason, simply because of what the science says your pain is doing to your brain.
I showed you via the first link of the previous paragraph that those of you living with Chronic Pain are degenerating your brains at a rate 10 times higher than the general population. Unfortunately, that's just the tip of the iceberg. Thanks to Chronic Neck Pain, some people wind up living with things like FIBROMYALGIA and CENTRAL SENSITIZATION. Allow me to show you how crazy the newest studies on this topic really are specifically for those of you struggling with Chronic Neck Pain.
Knowing this information is great. After all, knowledge really is power (HERE). However, the real rubber-meets-the-road question is what are you who are struggling going to do with it? In other words, how can you, the Chronic Neck Pain sufferer, use this information to help your cause, decrease your pain, and increase your ability to function on a day to day basis? Glad you asked.
Don't kid yourself. This list could be infinite if I had the time to sit down and write a book. HERE is a bit more in-depth information on how you might accomplish some of these things. And as I always suggest to people, after studying the situation, sit down and create a personalized EXIT STRATEGY for yourself --- a way to take your life back and start living again. If you want to see some examples of this in action, take a look at some of our CASE HISTORIES.
PHYSICAL EXERCISE AND BRAIN HEALTH
"The lack of effective preventive and treatment strategies against Alzheimer’s disease is an alarming problem. Among people at the greatest risk for Alzheimer’s disease are older adults diagnosed with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI). Recent research has shown that exercise and physical activity benefit cognitive function and may offer neuronal protection. Amazingly, the protective effects of exercise on brain function have been shown to be extremely robust in the hippocampus, the very brain structure targeted early on in Alzheimer’s disease." Cherry-picked from the home page of the University of Maryland's "Exercise for Brain Health" website. We have known this for a number of years (HERE).
Everyone knows how good exercise is for the physical body. However, I find that the majority of the population has no real grasp of just how critical exercise is for brain health. Although there has been a significant amount of discussion over the recent study that came out in the brand new issue of Medicine, Science, Sports, and Exercise (Physical Activity, Fitness, Glucose Homeostasis, and Brain Morphology in Twins), the truth is that none of this is new information. Even so, the Finnish study is hardcore evidence of the beneficial effects of exercise on both the body and the brain.
In this study, researchers took 10 sets of identical twins who had grown up in sports and being active, but in later life one of the twins continued on with this sort of lifestyle, while the other did not. Not surprisingly, the twins that exercised had greater function in the parts of their brain called the, "striatum and prefrontal cortex gray matter."
MedPage Today just ran an article on this very subject of physical exercise helping brain health (Friday Feedback: The 'Brain Benefits' of Exercise: Clinicians Know Exercise Helps the Heart, but Should They Also Talk About its Cognitive Effects?). Author, Molly Walker, quizzed several physicians as to whether or not there was enough "evidence" (you know; as in EVIDENCE-BASED MEDICINE) for doctors to be talking to their patients about the benefits of exercise as far as the brain is concerned. Below are a few of their answers (remember, these doctors are the elite --- the cream of the crop of the medical community).
Neurologist, Patrick Lyden: "Exercise is definitely good for brain function. In fact, of all the strategies offered to prevent dementia, physical exercise has the best data to support it."
Neurologist, Brenden Kelley: "Many large observational studies have demonstrated a reduced risk of incident dementia and reduced progression of cognitive decline among older adults who regularly exercise."
Neurologist, Marian Evatt: "It's clear that evidence is piling up that exercise is therapeutic." She was speaking specifically here about exercise being "therapeutic" for PARKINSON'S DISEASE.
Neurologist / Radiologist, Thomas Thesen: "Prolonged aerobic exercise changes not only the brain's physiology and anatomy, but also can lead to improvements in memory and cognition."
Cardiologist, Carl Lavie: "In fact, we showed that exercise training and higher fitness are associated with marked, usually greater than 50%, reductions in all of these measures of psychological stress." The measures he was speaking of specifically included, "DEPRESSION, Anxiety, and Hostility".
Cardiologist. Paul Thompson: "I think that exercise can affect brain function, such as coordination and motor control, but it may also affect hippocampal size, and one would think that since the hippocampus affects the memory that it may have something to do with reducing memory loss."
MORE PROOFS OF THE EXERCISE / BRAIN LINK
Man has known for thousands of years that you cannot win physical competitions without training your body. In other words, it's not any sort of news that physical exercise can do some amazing things as far as your body is concerned. The cool thing is that we now have a growing mountain of evidence showing how exercise benefits the brain as well. Although not all of the numerous mechanisms for this are understood (or probably even known) at this point, I included three of the most common below. If you want to actually look peer-reviewed studies, simple Google something like "exercise benefits the brain," and you'll have enough information to keep you reading for days.
OXYGENATION: Exercise drives O2 (Oxygen) into your system. Properly oxygenating your brain is absolutely vital for your overall health. For many who have BRAIN-BASED ISSUES, something called EWOT can be invaluable. A side note here; Having read Dr. Konstatin Buteyko's book about the importance of CO2, one of these days I will have to do a post on the subject, as there is more to this O2 / CO2 issue than meets the eye.
NEUROLOGICAL INPUT: One of the best ways to stimulate your brain is via something called "PROPRIOCEPTION", and one of the best methods of stimulating Proprioception is via exercise (for those who have trouble exercising, there is always WBV). I've found that the best ways to accomplish this is by altering your exercise routine. For example, if you are a runner or a biker, you will stimulate your brain far more by riding or running through off-road trails than by spending all your time on a track the roadway. Complex activities done one after the other can also provide a lot of brain stimulation (another reason I like Cross-Fit and Strength Training with complex movements such as KETTLEBELL SWINGS). As crazy as it sounds, one of the best methods of exercising your body and brain is TRAMPOLINING. The truth is, "Functional Training" is a field that is rapidly growing and changing. Always figure out what exercise methods you can use to train both your body and your brain together.
INSULIN SENSITIVITY: Exercising increases your sensitivity to insulin so that it does not take as much of it to regulate your blood sugar. Tight regulation of BLOOD SUGAR has proven beneficial in the management of almost every physical ailment you could name. Nowhere is this more true than in the brain.
"The recent discovery that pain caused by a peripheral nerve injury can imprint itself in the Central Nervous System (Centralized Pain) ranks as one of the great advances in pain management. Although there has been some debate, these brain changes appear to be the result of chronic pain and not the cause [of the chronic pain]. Centralized Pain is often accompanied by symptoms of hyper-arousal of the Sympathetic Nervous System, which can be used to help guide diagnosis and treatment of Centralized Pain." Dr. Forrest Tennant, Pain Management Specialist, and Editor in Chief of Practical Pain Management, from his recent article, Chronic Pain and the Brain.
"As we will discuss shortly, pain that arises in the CNS (Central Nervous System) is frequently “learned” pain. In order to learn how to hit a golf ball, speak German, or play the banjo, you have to practice. And everyone remembers the old adage; practice makes perfect. Unfortunately, this is also how things tend to work when it comes to pain. If you stimulate pain pathways in the Brain & Nervous System long enough, or are exposed to enough stressors in your life (chemical, emotional, dietary, physical, bacterial, viral, parasitic, electro-magnetic, heavy metals, etc), you can alter the way your Brain and Central Nervous System function. Because pain can become pathologically locked into the CNS, the method of removing it must specifically target the CNS, as well as the metabolic causes of the pain." Dr. Russell Schierling, from the website DESTROY CHRONIC PAIN. This was written back in 2010.
Dr. Tennant tells us that when pain lasts longer than 3-6 months, it has the ability to, "adversely affect the individual's well being". One of the things that Dr. Tennant mentions is atrophy (shrinkage) of the Brain. I wrote about this on DSP, when I told you that, "For years neuro-scientists have known that Chronic Pain can cause brain atrophy that is indistinguishable from Alzheimer’s Disease or Dementia. More recently The Journal of Neuroscience reported that “The longer the individual has had Fibromyalgia, the greater the gray matter loss, with each year of fibromyalgia being equivalent to 9.5 times the loss in normal aging.” Think about this for a moment. Every single year you live with Fibromyalgia or other Chronic Pain Syndromes is the equivalent of nearly 10 times the brain loss seen in the normal aging process." Dr. Tennant gives eight different references to scientific studies showing that, "Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) studies recently have shown loss of grey matter density in patients with chronic pain". According to the research, this is at least somewhat reversible. Get rid of the pain and the brain will, at least to some degree, regain its mass.
- ANERGY: This is where your Immune System becomes so weak that it can no longer mount a response to antigens. This is commonly seen with Fibromyalgia / Adrenal Fatigue and associated problems.
- ANOREXIA: This is the weight loss not typically associated with "Anorexia Nervosa" which is intentional starvation.
- ANXIETY / DEPRESSION: I have written about this issue fairly extensively (HERE).
- DIARRHEA: Can anyone say IBS?
- FATIGUE: This is almost always due, at least in part, to overworked and burned out ADRENAL GLANDS. It goes hand-in-hand with, and is frequently seen in conjunction with THYROID ISSUES, INSULIN RESISTANCE, and other ENDOCRINE PROBLEMS.
- HEAT EPISODES: This is a common problem those who do not have may have never heard of. I routinely see people in my clinic who are "Heat Intolerant", particularly after TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURIES or WHIPLASH ACCIDENTS.
- INSOMNIA: As crazy as it sounds, even though these folks are exhausted, they have trouble sleeping.
- NAUSEA: The Parasympathetic Nervous System is associated with digestion. It's opposite --- Sympathetic Dominance --- is not. Failure to digest leads to numerous health problems.
- RESTLESS LEG SYNDROME: RLS is a form of PERIPHERAL NEUROPATHY that is an AUTOIMMUNE DISEASE (click the link for a list of others).
- TREMORS: Tremors come in all shapes and sizes, and are associated with a variety of different health issues.
- URINARY HESITANCY: Bladder Infections and Urinary Tract Infections are the result of this stasis / stagnation of urine in the bladder.
The only things I had on my list of things that cause, contribute to, or are associated with Sympathetic Dominance that Dr. Tennant did not have on his, were......
- MIGRAINE HEADACHES: HERE is more information.
- ADD / ADHD: HERE are several articles on this topic.
- BRAIN FOG: This is frequently seen in Fibromyalgia, Autoimmune Diseases, and GLUTEN INTOLERANCE.
- DRY SKIN / DRY EYES / DRY MOUTH: Because so many different drugs stimulate the Sympathetic Nervous System, these are the side effects associated with numerous medications as well.
WHY DOES IT MATTER?
If, as Dr. Tennant says, these problems are permanent once they are locked into the CNS, why does it matter? Let me tell you why knowing this information matters. Go back to the quote from the top of the page and look at what Dr. Tennant says about this phenomenon of Centralized Pain. Carefully note that most experts believe Centralization, "appears to be the result of chronic pain and not its cause". Re-read that and let the magnitude of what it is saying sink in for a moment. Plainly stated, this means that the longer your pain goes on, the more likely you are to lock it into your Brain and Central Nervous System. In other words, you need to do whatever it takes to get to the root of your pain and solve it. This is true whether you are dealing with PIRIFORMIS SYNDROME or CHRONIC NECK PAIN. ADRENAL FATIGUE or NEUROPATHY. Let severe pain linger, and the odds for permanently imprinting these pathways in your Nervous System increase dramatically.
How would a person proceed to tackle their Chronic Pain issue? The first place to start is by looking at the body as a whole. Many people have SYSTEMIC PROBLEMS that they think are local (HERE and HERE are a couple of common examples). For those dealing with Chronic Pain, it would serve you well to go through my posts on UNIVERSAL CAUSES / UNIVERSAL CURES.
AND THE RELATIONSHIP TO SICKNESS, DISEASE, AND CHRONIC PAIN
“The longer the individual has had Fibromyalgia [Chronic Pain], the greater the gray matter loss, with each year of fibromyalgia being equivalent to 9.5 times the loss seen in normal aging”. McGill University Center for Research, from The Journal of Neuroscience
- Do acidic foods upset your stomach?
- Do you get chilled easily?
- Are your hands and feet cold and clammy?
- Do you find it difficult to relax?
- Do you gag easily or frequently have a 'lump' in your throat?
- Are you startled easily?
- Does your pulse race after you eat --- particularly if you eat carbohydrates?
- Do you find yourself sick often, yet heal slowly?
- Are you sensitive to bright lights?
- Do you have digestive problems?
- Do you struggle with an array of pains that doctors have characterized as 'Neuralgia'?
If you can answer "yes" to very many of these questions, you may well be living in a state of Sympathetic Dominance. Allow me to explain.
We live in a pedal-to-the-metal, maximum overdrive society. It seems that we are always under deadlines and running behind. There are never enough hours in the day to accomplish all we need to do. And then we tend to crash in front of the TV for several hours every evening. On top of that, despite spending more dollars on healthcare than any nation on the planet, we are one of the most chronically ill societies the world has ever seen --- and it's getting worse with every passing generation (HERE). If you want to begin to nip your emotional and health problems in the bud, you'll have to have at least a cursory understanding of the Nervous System.
In a very over-simplified explanation, the Nervous System is made up of three parts. There is the ENTERIC SYSTEM, which is what is frequently referred to as the BRAIN / GUT. Then you have the Sympathetic Nervous System and the Parasympathetic Nervous System. These two parts of the Nervous System are antagonistic to each other, and are always trying to influence your body in opposite directions. Pay attention.
- THE SYMPATHETIC NERVOUS SYSTEM: This is your "fight or flight" system (your adenergic or adrenaline-based / epinepherine-based system ---- also known as the Sympathetic-Adrenal Response). It is your Sympathetic Nervous System that makes your heart race when the phone rings at 3:00 am. Or if a car pulls out in front of you and you have to jam on your brakes. Or while you are waiting to find out why the boss wanted to see you in his office at 5:00 on Friday afternoon. It is also the Sympathetic Nervous System that stimulates your Adrenal Glands to action. Other things associated with Sympathetic Response includes things like increased heart rate and contraction of vessels, sweating, dilated pupils, dilated lung passages, and orgasm.
- THE PARASYMPATHETIC NERVOUS SYSTEM: On the other hand, the parasympathetic nervous system works in an opposite manner. It is often referred to as the "rest-and-digest" or "feed and breed" part of the nervous system. The Parasympathetic Nervous System is responsible for things like digestion, sexual arousal, and activities associated with using the toilet (peristalsis --- the movement of food through the digestive tract).
Let me give you a "real life" example of how these two systems work together to help you survive and thrive. You are out hunting deer in the Mark Twain National Forest. You ate a nice breakfast of farm eggs and homemade beef sausage a couple of hours ago, and now you feel satisfied --- rested --- almost drowsy while sitting in your tree stand. You are in a state of being that is heavily weighted toward Parasympathetic Control.
All of a sudden, you hear a crashing through the underbrush. The next thing you know, you are staring at a 10 foot tall Sasquatch from about 20 yards away. Your Sympathetic Nervous System goes into overdrive and stimulates your Adrenal Gland to dump a boatload of epinephrine into your blood stream. As the switch from Parasympathetic to Sympathetic occurs, your sphincters relax (you wet and soil yourself), your digestion comes to an almost instant halt as blood supply is shunted away from your digestive organs to your legs --- so that you can run if you need to, the passageways to your lungs open up, and your heart goes into high gear to supply the blood necessary to run like the wind.
Now; stop and imagine that something similar to this is your normal state of being. Although this example was quite radical, the truth is that a huge percentage of the American population is living in some degree of Sympathetic Dominance. Due to stress, whether physical, emotional, psychological, dietary, etc, the Sympathetics are being stimulated and the Adrenal Glands are firing ---- almost non-stop. These people tend to live in a state of stress, fear, worry, anger, and resentment. Think it through. What are some of the classic signs of Sympathetic Dominance? Lets see if we can name just a few, using the picture at the top of the page, as well as the bullet points above.
Firstly, your food is going to move very slowly through your digestive tract. This means that not only is your digestion going to stink, you are likely to end up constipated as well (as the body tries to compensate, you get the wild swings to diarrhea that are seen with IBS). Because the digestive tract is not secreting well, you get a diminished amount of stomach acid present (as crazy as it sounds, this is one of the major causes of all sorts of DIGESTIVE PROBLEMS). You find your LIBIDO IS DROOPING, you have HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE, and Chronic Pain ---- your Adrenal Glands are so overworked that they are going into ADRENAL FATIGUE. Oh, let's throw insomnia in there now as well. Some of the other commonly seen symptoms of Sympathetic Dominance includes things like....
- MIGRAINE HEADACHES: HERE is a good link. Be aware that while many chronic Migraine sufferers are Sympathetic Dominant, many of these are the result of SCAR TISSUE.
- ADD / ADHD / DEPRESSION / ANXIETY / FORGETFULNESS / BRAIN FOG: HERE and HERE are a couple of good links.
- DRY SKIN / DRY EYES / DRY MOUTH:
- BLADDER INFECTIONS / UTI'S:
- CHRONIC PAIN: HERE
THE SOLUTION TO SYMPATHETIC DOMINANCE
Dealing with these two factors is going to solve most cases of Sympathetic Dominance. However, if these steps do not work, make an appointment with a FUNCTIONAL NEUROLOGIST trained by Dr. Ted Carrick. If your problem is BRAIN BASED, this approach is a must. Since I have been doing Mineral Hair Analysis for about 15 years, HERE is a link on Sympathetic Dominance from that approach as well. To see my other posts on Sympathetic Dominance, HERE, HERE and HERE are the links.
BRAIN BASED THERAPY MISSOURI
For years, the question I asked myself was why some of my Fibromyalgia patients got better, and others did not? Why weren't all (or at least the vast majority) of my Fibromyalgia patients getting dramatically better by following a few simple recommendations --- cleaning up their diet, decreasing at least some of the stressors mentioned in the paragraph above, taking a HIGH QUALITY OMEGA- 3 FISH OIL, supplementing with a good adrenal support formula, and getting adjusted on a regular basis?
Until I started studying the work of Drs. Datis Kharrazian and TED CARRICK, I truly had no idea ---- no idea that Fibromyalgia, along with numerous other Chronic Conditions, are frequently Brain-Based Metabolic Problems that cause the various body systems (neurological, cardiovascular, digestive, etc) to malfunction in ways that don't show up with standard medical testing. And unfortunately, most therapeutic interventions for Chronic Conditions do not focus enough (or at all) on the brain. Like Gray's Anatomy says, the brain controls every function of the body. Ignore it to your own detriment! When the brain is malfunctioning, it causes other areas of the body to malfunction as well. The problem begins to feed itself and become a self-perpetuating, vicious cycle.
Follow along as I lead you on a journey through the brain. Learn why Fibromyalgia and numerous other Chronic Conditions frequently have their roots in brain dysfunction. But be warned: Fibromyalgia is not a pathology / disease process that is going to show up on an MRI or Brain Scan ---- it's a "Functional" Neurological / Endocrine / Metabolic problem (HERE). See how a misfiring brain can cause Fibromyalgia as well as all sorts of other Chronic Conditions. Stay with me for a few minutes and learn how Brain-Based Therapy might be the very thing that could reboot your brain, bring it back to life, and make it fire properly again. And help you get better in the process.
A TWO-PRONGED SOLUTION FOR CHRONIC CONDITIONS
PRONG I: Neurology
How Does the Brain Work?
The most well-known of all medical textbooks, Gray's Anatomy, tells us something that we learned back in fourth grade health class --- that every single function of the human body is controlled by the brain.
"The Nervous System is the most complicated and highly organized of the various systems which make up the human body. It is the mechanism concerned with the correlation and integration of various bodily processes and the reactions and adjustments of the organism to its environment." Henry Gray from the 1918 edition of Gray's Anatomy
When functioning normally, the cerebellum, or "lower brain," which sits in the back bottom part of the skull, fires off messages to the opposite side Cerebral Cortex. This in turn, stimulates the brainstem (Mesencephalon, Pons, and Medulla). This feedback system is called, appropriately enough, "The Brain Loop".
The Brain Loop
The brain's ability to function is enhanced by increasing the frequency of firing to specific nerve cells called neurons. In many ways, these neurons are similar to other body tissues, including muscles. The more they are stimulated the healthier and stronger they become. To a point. But just like muscles, neurons can be abused, injured, or over-stimulated as well. This leads to all sorts of problems, including a form of Neural Deterioration called Trans Nerural Degeneration (more to come shortly).
When everything works in synch, your brain and the various cells, organs, glands, and tissues of your body, are connected by optimally functioning nerve pathways. The brain acts as the conductor or “Maestro” and directs the music, while The Body acts the part of the orchestra and plays the music. A properly functioning nerve system is like one of Mozart's masterpieces. The Maestro feeding off of and directing the orchestra, and the individual musicians interacting with each other to weave their various and diverse parts into a beautiful symphony.
But when certain nerve pathways become over or under stimulated, a brain imbalance begins to take shape. And like many other feedback loop deficiencies, it can quickly become self-perpetuating. When the Brain Loop's feedback mechanisms fail, the orchestra (the body) can no longer follow the conductor (the brain). The conductor fails to grasp that the orchestra is quickly turning the masterpiece into a muddle. Mistakes become the norm. The once beautiful music sounds increasingly tortured, distorted, and incoherent.
As you can imagine, when this kind of failure occurs in the brain, all sorts of neurologically-based health problems begin to arise and perpetuate themselves. The body itself becomes increasingly tortured, distorted, and incoherent. Chronic Pain and dysfunction become the norm. And why has your doctor not been able to help you? Largely because while doctors understand gross pathology, they do not understand the intricacies of the Brain Loop.
NORMAL BRAIN LOOP
THE BATTLE FOR YOUR BRAIN
Brain-Based Therapy attempts to slow down cellular death. Unfortunately, cellular death and neurological degeneration are a natural part of life. However, Chronic Conditions of ill health hyper-accelerate both of these processes, leading to the problems listed above. Brain Based Therapy slows down this inevitable degeneration and helps restore brain function. With improved brain function comes improved health, decreased pain, and an increased quality of life.
Our average “Chronic Conditions” patient has tried numerous other doctors and treatments. They have reached a place where they no longer have normal Parasympathetic Nerve Dominance. In simple English, this means that they have lost the body's desired state of neurological balance.
Instead, these people tend to live out their lives in a state of SYMPATHETIC DOMINANCE. Sympathetic Dominance is the body's “Fight or Flight” mechanism run amok. Sympathetic Dominance can cause elevated heart rate and blood pressure, anxiety, dry mouth, digestive disorders, allergies, an inability to calm down or sleep (even though one feels exhausted). Even though these people may feel tired and sluggish all of the time, their bodies have become hyperactive, hypersensitive, and hyper-reactive to their environment. On top of all this, the Adrenal Glands are turned to the "on" position and continue dumping adrenaline, cortisol, and other stress hormones into the bloodstream. As you might have guessed, this leads to numerous health problems including Fibromyalgia / Chronic Fatigue. If you understand the picture below, you will grasp this concept.
YOUR TWO NERVOUS SYSTEMS
SYMPATHETIC -vs- PARASYMPATHETIC
Besides the stressors listed above, physical trauma can cause brain injury that leads to Sympathetic Dominance. This can come in the form of SPORTS INJURIES (including over-training), CAR ACCIDENTS, horse accidents, falls, head traumas (with or without loss of consciousness), physical abuse, difficult repetitive jobs, as well as numerous others.
The effects of these various “stressors” accumulate over time until they finally reach “critical mass”. Critical Mass is the 'tipping point' --- the point where the body's tolerance to resist this bombardment of chemical, mechanical, emotional, and dietary stress is diminished so greatly, that symptoms start manifesting themselves visibly and tangibly. In the words of the famous medical whiplash researchers Drs. Gargan and Bannister, people find themselves increasingly living with an array of, "diverse and seemingly unrelated problems".
When the brain is imbalanced, its normal firing sequence is interrupted. This presents big problems. In order for the body to be able to heal itself, it needs to be 'reset' or 'restarted' --- kind of like "rebooting" a locked up computer. This is where Brain Based Therapy comes in.
HOW DOES BRAIN BASED THERAPY WORK?
Neurons (nerve / brain cells) require two things to function properly and remain healthy: Activation and Fuel
- I.) The Proper Amount of Neurological Stimulation (Activation)
- 2A.) The Proper Amount of Oxygen (Fuel)
- 2B.) The Proper Amount of Blood Sugar / Glucose (Fuel)
FUNCTIONS OF THE BRAIN
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN IT ALL BREAKS DOWN?
Nerve impulses from receptors throughout the body (touch, balance, pressure, pain, PROPRIOCEPTION, control of postural muscles, etc) move firstly through the spinal nerves and then through the spinal cord where they are delivered to the so-called "lower" part of the brain in the back of your skull. This area is called “The Cerebellum”.
In the recent past, it was believed that the function of the Cerebellum was equilibrium and the coordination of movement. However, science has recently revealed that the Cerebellum does more than that --- far more. The Cerebellum actually controls all neural impulses.
After nerve impulses arrive at the cerebellum, they are transmitted to the Frontal Lobe of the Brain Cortex. So, you ask, if the “lower” part of the brain (The Cerebellum) to some degree, controls all neural impulses, then what is the “higher” part of the brain even (The Cerebral Cortex) needed for? Great question!
At this point, the function of the Cerebral Cortex is to act as a “signal booster” (like a cell phone tower) and provide an increase in the frequency of firing. Also, without normal stimulation from the lower brain (The Cerebellum), the higher brain (The Cerebral Cortex) looses its ability to actively control the body's so-called “primal functions”. In plain English, this means that your body begins to loose its ability to regulate itself – most particularly the balance centers, postural muscles, and termination of eye movements.
If one side of the cerebellum is not receiving enough nerve input, it cannot send sufficient numbers of nerve impulses to the frontal lobe of the Cortex, which in turn, can’t send enough input to the lower brainstem to put the brakes on the mesencephalon and keep it from over-firing. We will cover the over-firing mesencephalon shortly.
As stated a moment ago, a key portion of the Cerebellar aspect of the “Brain Loop” has to do with postural muscles --- the muscles on either side of your spine / neck. A misfiring cerebellum will cause one side of the postural muscles to be in constant spasm, which will cause constant imbalances in the vertebrae as well (this is why some individuals have significant motion imbalances even after undergoing our SCAR TISSUE REMODELING). Individual vertebrae will 'lock up' and become restricted in their normal movement (chiropractors call this “subluxation”), and as you can imagine, this leads to all sorts of chronic musculoskeletal problems. These include CHRONIC BACK AND NECK PAIN, MIGRAINE HEADACHES, DEGENERATIVE ARTHRITIS, DISC HERNIATION, SCIATICA, joint pain, and others including DIZZINESS & VERTIGO.
When the Cortex receives insufficient input from the Cerebellum it becomes incapable of properly controlling the brainstem's various functions. Because of this, a process called Trans Neural Degeneration sets in. Trans Neural Degeneration never gets better by itself. The longer you have Trans Neural Degeneration, the faster your brain dies.
DIMINISHED CEREBELLAR DYSFUNCTION MAY LEAD TO
The Brainstem is where your brain actually becomes the spinal cord, and is made up of the mescencephalon (the upper portion), the pons, and the medulla (the lower portion). It regulates numerous functions of the body, many of which fall under a large category referred to as “autonomic function” (they occur without any sort of conscious thought process, breathing, heart rate, digestion, etc, etc, etc). The brainstem also contains highly specialized groups of cells called the Cranial Nerves which are responsible for the special senses. These 12 pairs of nerves control vision, eye movement, hearing, balance, taste, facial movement and sensation, and even organ function. And not only does it contain the highly important Cranial Nerves, the brainstem happens to be the part of the brain where many critical neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine are produced (can anyone say "Depression"?).
AN OVERFIRING MESENCEPHALON
However, once stress interrupts the “Brain Loop”, the mesencephalon is left to fire unchecked. Remember our earlier discussion on the problems associated with Sympathetic Dominance? The brain gets locked in a sympathetic (fight or flight) response, creates imbalances in Cranial Nerve function, and ends up with a mesencephalon that is stuck on hyper-drive. Because the mesencephalon has several very specific functions, an overactive mesencephalon will usually manifest with very specific symptoms. These symptoms are fatigue, light sensitivity (Photophobia), Gut complaints (digestive / bowel / IBS), insomnia, Chronic Pain, attention problems, mental fog, heart palpitations and arrhythmias, etc. It also happens to cause the symptoms that doctors today call Fibromyalgia.
As you are beginning to notice, Brainstem malfunctions cause many of the Chronic Conditions that continue to befuddle the Medical Community. Brain-Based Problems create suffering patients who frequently struggle mightily even though they are having lots of doctor visits and taking lots of medications. Everyone knows lots of these folks.
THE OVER-FIRING BRAINSTEM
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“The longer the individual has had Fibromyalgia, the greater the gray matter loss, with each year of fibromyalgia being equivalent to 9.5 times the loss in normal aging”. McGill University Centre for Research
Think about this for a moment. Every single year you or someone you love lives with Fibromyalgia (or other Chronic Pain Syndromes), is the equivalent of nearly 10 times the brain loss seen in one year of the normal aging process. Re-read this paragraph until it sinks in! You will never again wonder why people in Chronic Pain age so rapidly.
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THE BRAIN LOOP
NORMAL -vs- ABNORMAL
If you have read this far, you are an amateur neurologist and probably know more about the subject than your family doctor. The question now becomes, what can be done about it? I realize that you have already tried just about everything that you thought you could try. It's time for a very different approach. How about increasing the neruroplasticity in the brain and the nervous system!
Brain-Based Therapy concentrates on locating the deficient nerve pathways which are creating the neurological imbalance. The neurological examination is designed to locate imbalances in the cerebellum, brain stem, and cortex. A brain-specific treatment protocol is then created with the goal of strengthening or rebuilding these injured or deficient nerve pathways.
This is done the same way a person learns to ride a bike, or play piano, or speak the Chinese language, or become a better free throw shooter --- by repetition. Only instead of shooting thousands of free throws, frequency of firing is increased by providing Fuel and Activation (we spoke of these things earlier). This comes in the form of Fuel and Activation. These include:
- Pathway-Specific Neurological Activation & Exercises
- Nutritional Therapy and Proper Blood Sugar Levels
- Oxygen Therapy.
THE SECOND PRONG OF BRAIN BASED THERAPY
Functional Neurologists Datis Kharazzian and Ted Carrick have shown that numerous Chronic Conditions can be dramatically improved if the treating physician will simply reset the body's neurology, and balance the body's metabolism. This means that there might be nutritional supplements involved in the process. It also means that depending on how inflamed the brain is, what foods you are sensitive (or allergic) to, and just how well (or poorly) you eat; you may have to modify your diet. We will delve into this subject in more detail shortly.
- FOOD SENSITIVITIES / ALLERGIES: Two of the most common are GLUTEN and DAIRY, although people can be sensitive to virtually anything. There are any number of different tests for this, but I have found that a good old ELIMINATION DIET works as well as anything.
- BLOOD CHEMISTRY READINGS: If you want to understand why this is critical (even though you've probably had all sorts of blood tests in the past, just Google "Functional Blood Test". One of the most common of these is ANEMIA. This is also where you might do a complete THYROID PANEL.
- AUTOIMMUNITY: Failure to deal with underlying AUTOIMMUNITY is a deal-breaker as far as getting well is concerned. It is also important to figure out which part of the Immune System (TH-1 or TH2) is not working properly (HERE).
- GUT INTEGRITY: Do you have INCREASED INTESTINAL PERMEABILITY? If so, all bets are off until you deal with it. Once you realize that 80% of your entire Immune System is found in the Gut, this becomes that much more important.
- DYSBIOSIS: DYSBIOSIS is typically caused by ANTIBIOTICS as well as the ANTIBIOTIC-LIKE effects of virtually all drugs, and then fed by the HIGH CARB LIFESTYLE. Take a look at the bullet point below for the tests. Tons of information in my GUT HEALTH posts. This could mean things like MOLD and CANDIDA --- which many people believe are intimately related to CANCER. It could also be an issue with HYPOCHLORHYDRIA & H. PYLORI.
- PARASITES: All too common HERE in America.
- ADRENAL INSUFFICIENCY: The Adrenal Panel is critical for those who might have Fibromyalgia (aka ADRENAL FATIGUE). This is a saliva test called an ASI.
- HORMONE LEVELS: Although this could mean almost anything, it is most frequently dealing with SEX HORMONES and specifically ESTROGEN DOMINANCE something called .
- WHOLE BODY / BRAIN INFLAMMATION LEVELS: INFLAMMATION is one of those words that everyone throws around, but no one really understands. Figure out what's driving Inflammation in your body and you've just figured out how to get well.
SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, SIDNEY
CROSBY, AND DR. CARRICK
When I heard that one of my all-time favorite magazines, Sports Illustrated was going to carry an article on Crosby's Post-Concussion Treatment by world famous Chiropractic Neurologist, and pioneer in Functional Neurology, DR. TED CARRICK, I could hardly wait to read it. Dr. Carrick is one of the most brilliant men on the planet --- period! His creation and development of Functional Neurology is changing the landscape of healthcare --- both alternative and mainstream. The article is short, and could actually be viewed as two separate articles; the first being Crosby's excellent experience with Dr. Carrick's treatment protocol, the second being the medical community's "dogging" both Carrick and Functional Neurology as unscientific.
One of the first problems that I had with the article is that Sports Illustrated chose to use HARRIET HALL of Stephen Barrett's anti-chiropractic / anti-natural health, Quackwatch Site, as one of their so-called medical "ex-spurts". But really, when given an open mic, what did you expect these hand-picked, anti-chiropractic, medical mouthpieces to say? Were they about to admit the doctors in charge had utterly no idea what they were doing over the course of a half year of Crosby's treatment? Not on your life! Wouldn't it have been nice to see them admit the truth for once --- the fact that all they do is evaluate the concussed player, hoping that they improve quickly so they can take credit for returning them back to the ice? But bashing Dr. Carrick as some sort of "unscientific" pseudo-doctor who has somehow mesmerized Crosby, sells more magazines. SI's article should have contained at least a small portion that read a little something like this.....
"For the past eight months we tried everything that we knew to do, but Sid's symptoms did not change. Since there are no medications or surgeries to perform that can help Post-Concussion Syndrome, we continued to carefully analyze his symptoms, performing as many tests as humanly possible, while continuing to give zero amount of effective treatment. Needless to say, we spent countless hours educating Sid on his condition in an attempt to convince him not to seek out other treatment options that could prove to be either dangerous, or more effective than anything we have done for him so far. We warned Sid that according to our profession's most esteemed experts, his choice to go outside of the Penguin's organization for his healthcare was both unscientific and dangerous. Unfortunately, those efforts fell on deaf ears."
Sid personally recruited Dr. Carrick into the case, even though we made every attempt to stop him. We must admit that after starting treatment, and since working with Mr. (er, uh) "Doctor" Carrick, Sid has done remarkably well ----- making us all look like we have absolutely no idea what is going on ----- even though Carrick's treatment obviously had nothing to do with said improvement. Our current protocol for managing this difficult case involves constantly testing Sid, secretly trying to figure out why Dr. Carrick's treatment seems to be light years ahead of anything we have to offer, and trying to save face by saying anything and everything possible to discredit and undermine Dr. Carrick. The truth is, Dr Carrick is a quack, Functional Neurology is whitewashed voodoo, and he uses big words that he made up himself. Of course Sid's recovery was actually due to a coincidentally-timed placebo effect. I.E, he would have gotten better on his own eventually ---- at least that's the message we keep pumping out to other patients like Harry Carson, Dave Duerson, and Jr. Seau.
Would we ever consider referring a patient to a Chiropractic Neurologist in the future ---- even if there was ample research to validate what they are doing? Are you kidding me? We would rather die first!"
Believe me, sometimes you can figure out what is being said by reading carefully between the lines. It's amazing that even though Carrick's completely non-invasive treatment of Sidney Crosby obviously worked, half the article was spent telling readers why it shouldn't have. Wouldn't it have been nice to have seen this article presented with some more information about Carrick and the fact that his specialty is bringing people out of comas (WAKING UP THE BRAIN)?
However, you will not hear Carrick toot his own horn. Dr. Carrick DC, Ph.D, DACAN, DABCN, DACNB, FACCN, is a class act ---- an articulate, yet humble man, who happens to be the chiropractic profession's only "Neurological Fellow". I am not sure that there is another Neurologist on the planet who could keep up with him. The bottom line is results. It's almost embarrassing to listen to the whining from the people who could not get the job done with Crosby's health and career.
THE NEWS CONFERENCE WITH SID & DR. CARRICK
(Dr Carrick Begins Speaking at about the 7:40 Mark)
Dr. Schierling completed four years of Kansas State University's five-year Nutrition / Exercise Physiology Program before deciding on a career in Chiropractic. He graduated from Logan Chiropractic College in 1991, and has run a busy clinic in Mountain View, Missouri ever since. He and his wife Amy have four children (three daughters and a son).
Brain Based Therapy
Can You Help
Cardio Or Strength
Cold Laser Therapy
Death By Medicine
Degenerative Joint Disease
D's Of Chronic Pain
Evidence Based Medicine
Gluten Cross Reactivity
Ice Or Heat
Jacks Fork River
Leaky Gut Syndrome
Number One Health Problem
Platelet Rich Therapy
Post Surgical Scarring
Re Invent Yourself
Rib And Chest Pain
Scar Tissue Removal
Sleeping Pills Kill
Stay Or Go
Stretching Post Treatment
Tensegrity And Fascia
The Big Four
Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
Whole Body Vibration