What is acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a therapeutic method used to encourage natural healing, reduce or relieve pain and improve function of affected areas of the body. Acupuncture involves the insertion of very fine needles through the skin and tissues at specific points on the body. There is no injection of any substance and the treatment itself causes minimal discomfort. When combined with a knowledge of anatomy, physiology and pathophysiology, modern therapists can use acupuncture effectively.
How does acupuncture work?
Acupuncture stimulates the body to produce its own pain relieving chemicals called “endorphins”. Endorphins help to block pathways that relay pain messages from the body to the brain, resulting in relief of pain, general relaxation and biochemical restoration of the body’s own internal regulation systems.
Are there any adverse effects or risks to the treatment?
One of the most striking aspects of acupuncture is the almost complete absence of adverse effects and complications from its use. Most patients find that the treatments are relaxing and cause minimal discomfort. The Acupuncture Foundation of Canada Institute recommends that only sterile disposable needles be used, preventing any risk of infection. In particular, there is no possibility of transmission of the AIDS or hepatitis viruses when sterile disposable needles are used.
Does it hurt?
People experience differing sensations with acupuncture. Most patients feel only minimal discomfort as the needles are inserted: some feel no pain at all. Once the needles are in place, there should be no significant discomfort.
How many treatments will be required?
The number of acupuncture treatments will vary with each individual and the condition being treated. Ask your therapist after the first treatment for a more detailed plan for your treatments.
Do I have to believe in acupuncture for it to work?
No. Acupuncture is also used successfully on cats, dogs, horses and other animals.
Is there any special advice to follow before an acupuncture treatment?
Acupuncture treatment can be done at any time. Patients are advised not to eat unusually large meals before or after treatments.
It is best to avoid alcohol or sedatives for four hours prior to treatment. Pain medications may be taken as required.
Comox Physiotherapy Clinic offers a wide variety of treatment services for everyone – from athlete to homemaker, golfer or gardener.
These treatments include individualized assessment, hands-on manual therapy, and specific exercise prescription.
Treatment Goals May Include:
Improve range of motion in joints
Assist with return to work after injury
Help prevent sports injuries
Treat sports injuries
Encourage normal mobility
Improve balance and prevent falls
BREAST CANCER THERAPY POST SURGERY
Physiotherapy has an important role in breast cancer recovery.
“Reach Your Full Potential” Treatment and Education Offered at Comox Physiotherapy Clinic by Shannon Lawrence.
We suggest you make an appointment for physiotherapy two weeks following your surgery. A consultation will provide you with important information on post-operative care.
Specific treatments and exercises have been developed to deal with problems relating to your breast cancer surgery and to help promote healing.
Here are some of the goals of physiotherapy in your treatment:
Reduce Chances of Lymphedema
Lymphedema is arm swelling caused from a pooling of lymphatic fluid. If you have had radiation or have had lymph nodes removed, the normal flow of lymphatic fluid can be slowed resulting in lymphedema. Lymphedema can develop at any time, but often appears within the first year following surgery. A goal of physiotherapy is to help control edema and restore the arm to normal size by early intervention. This is achieved with soft tissue techniques, exercises, and postural activities.
Education in Avoiding Infection and Injury to the Affected Arm
Lymph nodes are where the body fights infection. If some of your lymph nodes were removed, it is important to help prevent the risk of infection or injury to the arm. Your physiotherapist will discuss special precautions to use during your daily activities, general care of your arm, and early detection of signs of infection.
Pain may arise from pressure on nerves caught in newly forming tissue or postural fatigue from muscles that are weak or tight. The physiotherapist will prescribe exercises to help improve postural control and dynamic range of motion. This will help to control the pain by ensuring that you achieve a fully functional upper extremity.
Prevention of Scar Tissue Tethering
Tethering is a contraction of the superficial fascia stimulated by the axillary incision down the arm. It may feel like tight cords under the arm and is often unrecognized until arm mobility is restricted. Tethering, incisional pain, and chest wall adhesions may develop post-operatively. These can all be helped with specific myofascial techniques and gentle stretching.
Regaining the Range of Motion
Breast cancer surgeries, either lumpectomies or particular total mastectomies, have an impact on the muscles and other tissues of the chest wall, shoulder, arm and thoracic spine. Some women may develop shoulder restrictions. If you do not have full shoulder mobility several days after surgery, you may require physiotherapy to help regain mobility.
If you are scheduled for radiation, good shoulder mobility will make your treatments more comfortable.
Regaining Muscle Strength
Surgery, radiation, and periods of immobilization can cause muscles to lose strength and tone. Postural fatigue syndrome brought on by weakness can result in neck and back discomfort. As a result of protecting the involved side, muscles often work overtime and postural mal-alignment can develop. Manual therapy and progressive strengthening exercises can correct these problems.
Care must be taken not to overwork the involved arm if some of the axillary lymph nodes have been removed. Straining and over stretching can cause arm pain and swelling. Your physiotherapist will progress your exercises and discuss return to normal activities.
Domestic chores, gardening and recreational activities require special considerations for six to eight weeks following surgery.
Registered Physiotherapist Shannon Lawrence received specialized training in 1996 for treatment of patients following breast cancer surgery. Treatment focuses on all the areas mentioned above and is very gentle. Most patients are seen 3 – 4 times and then are able to manage on their own.
Breast Health for Lactating Mothers
Shannon Lawrence has been assisting nursing mothers with blocked milk ducts and mastitis since 1996. Ultrasound Therapy is especially effective for providing quick relief for this very uncomfortable problem. Shannon is committed to accommodating mothers with lactation difficulties quickly. Please let our front staff know if you have a blocked milk duct or mastitis so the they can book your visit appropriately.
Craniosacral therapy was developed in the past century by osteopathic physicians in the USA and is now performed by many practitioners including physiotherapists. It involves the craniosacral system which is composed of the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord and the cerebrospinal fluid that bathes these tissues.
Any disruption of this system – (ie. motor vehicle accidents, neck and back pain, TMJ difficulties, orthopaedic or spinal/pelvic alignment problems) can result in an imbalance which is manifested by various symptoms. Some common complaints are headache, dizziness, eye problems, difficulty concentrating and chronic pain. An individual will respond in a very specific way to his/her impairment.
Craniosacral therapy uses very light touch to detect imbalances in the rhythm of the cerebrospinal fluid and membranous or bony restriction in the cranium.
Gentle techniques are utilized to help your body reach a better way of moving and a more balanced equilibrium. These techniques are usually focused on the skull and the sacrum although areas along the spine and the extremities are sometimes treated as well. In our experience with the technique, many people reach a much better level of function and healing after having craniosacral therapy.
Pelvic Floor Physiotherapy
Pelvic floor muscles help control bladder and bowel function and support the internal pelvic organs. If the pelvic floor muscles are too loose or too weak functionally, urinary incontinence (accidental leakage) or pelvic organ prolapse may result.
If the pelvic floor muscles are too tight (in a state of continuous increased muscle tone or intermittent muscle spasms) painful pelvic syndromes, or urinary or bowel obstruction can result. Pelvic pain syndromes include coccygodynia, vaginismus, vulvadynia, vestibulitis, etc.
With physiotherapy treatment it is possible to learn to control the contraction, the relaxation and the resting tone of these muscles. Treatment of pelvic muscle imbalances can also be an integral part of correcting complicated conditions of low back, hip and sacro-iliac pain.
Shannon Lawrence and Rosemarie Sanche are registered physiotherapists with a keen interest in the treatment of pelvic floor dysfunction. They have completed specialized training and continuing education qualifications in this field, and work collaboratively with physicians and other health care professionals in a team approach. The sensitive nature of pelvic dysfunction disorders is considered with understanding and with respect for privacy and dignity.
HYPOPRESSIVES (Low pressure fitness)
Hypopressives, also referred to as Low Pressure Fitness, is a holistic technique consisting of breathing and postural exercises which may create a reduction in intra-abdominal pressure. The aim of this practice is to improve abdominal & pelvic floor muscle tone providing increased health, performance, and aesthetic benefits. It was originally created for women to help restore and prevent pelvic floor dysfunction, such as incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse, however many people can experience benefits to posture and breathing - men, women, athletes, all ages.
The core is heavily influenced by posture and alignment and is made up of far more than abdominal muscles. The core includes the respiratory diaphragm, pelvic floor muscles, transverse abdominis, and lumbar multifidus muscles; the whole canister from the lower rib cage to the pelvic floor. If the respiratory diaphragm is not working optimally, its synergistic functioning with the pelvic floor is compromised.
The postures, breathing techniques, and breath hold (called ‘apnea’) learned in Hypopressives create a reduction of intra-abdominal pressure and may be helpful to treat:
Pelvic floor dysfunction (incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse)
Breathing pattern disorders
Postural disorders / imbalance
Instruction of Hypopressives starts with a detailed assessment of your posture and breathing biomechanics, then moves on to a collection of 8 static poses, namely: Venus, Athena, Artemis, Aurora, Maya, Gaia, Hestia, Demeter. These are taught on a one-to-one basis or a via a structured 6 week class.
Hypopressives are not appropriate for all patients. Those who should not perform the breath-hold/apnea, but may participate in the LPF poses & breathing:
During pregnancy; 1st month postpartum
First 2 months post C-section/abdominal surgery (hernia repair)
Heart problems, hypertension, and/or serious abdominal inflammatory processes
The following links provide more detailed information for the curious and interested:
Do You Experience Dizziness?
Balance problems affect approximately 50% of all adults at some time. A specifically trained physiotherapist is equipped to treat dizziness and balance issues including: BPPV (benign paroxysmal positional vertigo). In BPPV, a person will feel that the environment is moving around them (ie. spinning). This is related to a dysfunction in the vestibular system.
The physiotherapist can help to treat this with a series of maneuvers and exercises that restore normal function for the vestibular system and help the patient regain balance. A registered physiotherapist can also provide treatment to help improve balance and prevent falls.
There are many causes for dizziness – always have an assessment by your medical doctor before attending physiotherapy treatment for dizziness.
*Comox Physio’s Registered Physiotherapist Shannon Lawrence suggests that if you are a patient receiving vestibular rehabilitation at our clinic, you should arrange to have someone available to pick you up and drive you home after your physiotherapy treatment session.
A Gentle Therapy to Encourage Mobility.
Comox-based Registered Physiotherapist Linda Maasz is trained in visceral manipulation.
Visceral manipulation is a gentle therapy consisting of specifically placed manual force that encourages normal mobility, tone and inherent tissue motion of the abdominal organs and the connective tissue that attaches to other areas of the body where physiologic motion has been impaired. (For example, the lumbar spine and sacroiliac joint).