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  • Keeping Goals in the New Year

    I know it can very cliche to discuss setting goals in the New Year. Why should we set goals? Goals help us to set a direction. Goals are meant to be broken down to accomplish and there will be good days and bad days on the journey to the goal. Set a yearly goal and a 5 year goal. Think what must you do this year to accomplish your 5 year goals. Keep moving backward. What must you do in the next 6 months to accomplish your yearly goal. Keep going. What must you do in the next month to reach your goal at 6 month and a year. Then, what must you do this week to reach your monthly, then 6 month, then year goal. Finally, what must you do today to accomplish your goal by the end of the week to reach the month, etc. This set ups is making the one thing the priority of your day to make your long term goals. Every day is an opportunity to put that one thing first in order to meet your goal. There will be days in which you will miss it. Do not throw the whole goal out. Rather, adjust your needs to make your monthly goal and assist yourself. Do not give up on your goal just because you missed a day or because the goal now needs to be stretched in order to adjust to your work and family needs. Goals will have bumps in the road but a straight road is not as satisfying as overcoming the hard things to show your own resilience and strength. Don’t give up and keep going!

  • What I love about Christmas…

    I know that for some this holiday does not bring joy, happy memories, or good family time. For that, I am truly sorry. I pray that with time you can find people that you may be able to create a family to spend holidays together. Some of the best families are created by friends who stand by each other and form bonds of family. I love these members of my family in different and deeper ways. I love that Christmas is a time that we can reflect on the people we count as family perhaps more than biology and their love and care of us. My favorite pieces of Christmas are the quiet mornings with coffee by the Christmas lights with reflection. I enjoy the times of reflection without noise or interruption in order to remember the good times with the children, with my spouse, with business, and with friends. I love to sit quietly and looking at the ornaments as each of them have memories of the children, travels, and family. I love seeing the glitter with the lights to remember that there are pieces of my life that have sparkled through the year. Yes, the darker spots between the lights remind me that there were times I needed to rely on my friends, family, and spouse to help me. I love that the lights remind me of God and how He has helped me be strong in the dark and carry forward to what He has for me everyday. Christmas is a time that I reflect on the year and choose to focus on the blessings and joy as I look at the darkness and how the light shined into those moments. I am thankful for the dark spots as they have brought me closer to God and family and renewed my faith in both. I am thankful for Christmas and the season. I am thankful.

  • Avoid pain while wrapping gifts…

    If you are a busy mom like me, then wrapping happens late at night and a bit more of a last minute. This usually then happens curled up on the floor with tape, wrapping paper, and scissors hoping to get the wrapping done and get to bed after a busy day of trying to get everything ready. I then end up in bed hurting and tired while waking with minimal rest and hoping the coffee kicks in for the focus to enjoy the morning. Let us change this with some different ways to avoid pain. Use your kitchen counter or dining room table to bring the paper and the packages to a better height. This should help you maintain a better neck and upper body position to reduce tension on the face and the neck. Try to space out the presents and ask for help from your partner to reduce the work on you alone and the time can be broken up. This can turn into a good time of talk and intimacy for you and your spouse. I have taken to slowly wrapping them throughout the week prior to Christmas and the kids see the gifts slowly start to pile. We keep the holiday small but the kids love to start to read through them to see the small things and anticipate the joy. The table for wrapping stays there for about a week allowing the kids to wrap their gifts and joys (usually hand made things) for us and they start to get into the spirit. Set up a wrapping station, maybe the end of the table, dinette, or desk that allows everyone to get into the spirit and reduce pain and stress. I hope that your wrapping time brings joy and time together with laughter and smiles and less at the end of a busy day with fatigue and pain. If you have more pain in the neck and back after all your holiday fun, then call me and let us work together to get you out of pain before the joy of the season passes. 352-727-0472.

  • Helping others can help you!

    ‘Tis the season of giving and joy. I know that not everyone feels that during this season. Depression, sadness, and anxiety can mark many a person’s holiday spirit due to their trauma, situation, and lack of family support. However, you can change that in your own life. Helping others can bring you the joy you are seeking. Easy and helpful ways to care for others can be to collect clothing and donations and give to your areas homeless groups, domestic violence groups, and foster families. These groups need more assistance during the holidays as holidays usually have some of the highest incidences of family discord and violence. Volunteering for your communities decorating group for downtown may bring you in contact with new people that you can create a family with for the holidays and gain joyful experiences. Volunteering for the baby cuddling group at the local hospital can bring joy and comfort. The pet shelters need help with feeding and walking the animals during the season. Your local food bank could use your help with gathering and asking for donations as well as serving in their holiday delivery groups. I know that with depression and anxiety getting involved with others can be a lot; however, there are ways to help without having to interact much. Interacting can really help you change your mood. Just like exercising, most of us have to convince ourselves to even just start and once you start the mood shifts and joy begins. It is never easy to just start. It is the hardest and most difficult part. These groups are happy to have another person to join them in spreading cheer. Let us be like the who-ville people and spread some cheer this year even when we don’t have any. You will be surprised how contagious the joy can be for you as well. Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas.

  • Traveling for the holidays? How to avoid neck pain.

    Traveling for the holidays can be a real pain in the neck! I have just returned from a 16 hour truck drive from Florida to Texas. The hardest part can be the lack of room depending on your family and the stuff they bring. Some of my hardest struggles is sharing the front seat with a 12 pounds Schnauzer as my seat is never just my own. How can I avoid neck pain and/or back pain while being in the car for any significant time. The best advice is to plan small but frequent breaks. Every two hours is a good break time for continued traveling needs, gas, snacks, bathroom stops, and stretching. When you take your breaks, be sure to do some neck and back stretching such as back extensions, chin tucks into extension, and chin tuck with rotations. These can be helpful as your muscles and joints need movement and the car keeps a more static posture. While in the car, be sure to adjust your lumbar support to keep a small arch in the low back. The small arch in the low back will set up your upper back and neck into better positions without having to work so hard to keep your neck in a good alignment. Use the neck support throughout the ride in order to rest the neck. Napping in the car cause some significant pain due to the position and the inactivity it causes. Be sure to take a good neck pillow and prop yourself well for resting. If possible, lay the seat back a bit to support yourself better. Overall, change positions as needed and frequently. If you ended up in pain and difficulty, give me a call and we can sort it out and get you back to feeling better for the holiday fun. 352-727-0472.

  • Decorating for Christmas can be a pain in the neck!

    ’Tis the season to decorate for the Christmas Holiday. I know that after Thanksgiving I love to put the tree up and place out the holiday traditions. I love the tree to have white lights and gold accents. My family tradition is to get a holiday ornament that has our family written on it and the year. I collect one every year and enjoy going and picking out the new one! Every year, this is my favorite gift to get. The family time of putting up the tree and ornaments while playing Christmas Carols is a joy every year. The children go through their memories of the ornaments as they put them onto the tree. My husband puts the star on the top, and we turn the lights down to enjoy the soft light of the tree. This tradition is a such a joy until the year one of us has an ailment. The year my husband had back pain made this more difficult and the traditions had to shift. We accommodated his needs and changed who had which responsibilities in order to still have fun. I know that not all families can shift so easily but I would like to encourage you to switch the roles to still have fun but not have neck pain. So if you have neck pain, perhaps you switch who does the overhead tasks to reduce your pain and allow you to participate more in your holiday fun. Prolonged looking down can cause pain as well as your position can place too much stress on the muscles and cause a headache. Try to shift these tasks to someone without pain and do more in the middle. However you can shift the tasks to still have fun is recommended. If you cannot switch, then break the tasks up to perform for a few minutes 10-20 min and then do something else before coming back and to continue. We get in the habit of wanting to complete the task through but break them up to reduce your pain and have fun during the holiday. If you are still struggling, please call and we can get you out of pain in order to enjoy your time with family. Traditions do not need to include pain and dysfunction. Call today 352-727-0472

  • Neck Pain and Food Preparation, How can I get ready for Thanksgiving?

    Do you find that while preparing your normal dinners you get neck pain and upper shoulder pain? Are you limited in what meals you can cook due to your pain in the kitchen? What about Thanksgiving preparation as it is so much more? There are strategies to reduce you neck and positions you can use to reduce the effect. Many of you will begin to prepare your foods or have been already starting today or even this past Monday. Remember that you need to take breaks. Think about 30 min at any one task and try to prepare your foods with built in position changes. Sit while cutting or peeling in order to break up standing tasks such as mixing Mix with electric utilizes to reduce the overuse of the shoulder Remember to keep your chin tuck and bend more at the waist to reduce the stress on the neck Take 30 min breaks between dishes to allow you to change positions and go rest maybe while the bread is rising or the potatoes are roasting. Plan your preparations out to several days as needed to reduce the stress on the body. Cooking is a wonderful way to engage and have family time. By bringing in more people to your food preparation as a group, you can reduce the stress solely on you and increase your joy with more discussion. Think of ways that you can have "cooking parties" to prepare and extend the joy of the family time together. If you are having more pain from your food preparation and are not finding relieve, please reach out to your practitioners for assistance or me to get started on reducing your pain and helping you to have strategies for your cooking tasks. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours and may your day be filled with joy!

  • Can I Eat Thanksgiving Foods with Jaw Pain?

    If you have TMJ pain and are working on resolving your face and neck pain, should you avoid Thanksgiving? Should you just eat it and suffer with the consequences? Are there steps you could do to eat but not hurt? This can be a bit difficult if your traditional foods are different than the American traditional foods. Let's talk about the common foods such as turkey, salad, green beans, carrots, sweet potato casserole, stuffing, and more. Turkey depends on the moistness and toughness of the meat. I think if you were able to cut it small and perhaps use the gravy to moisten and soften it that you could enjoy some turkey. Vegetables need to be cooked more thoroughly such as boiled or heavily steamed to soften them for consumption with jaw pain and dysfunction. Mashed potatoes or sweet potato casseroles should be fine as they will be your softest choices. Salad may not be comfortable as the heavy fiber foods will require work and to reduce the stress from the whole meal may need to be avoided for this season until your jaw is ready to try these types of foods. Dessert can be okay such as pumpkin pie but perhaps the pecan pie may be too much with the hard nuts on top (pick off) to enjoy this delight. Stuffing may need gravy to ensure that it is soft enough to enjoy but does not have to be skipped. Casseroles need to abide by the rules above for the vegetables You don't have to miss out on all your favorites and with some good choices and softening ways you can have a wonderful Thanksgiving. If the act of chewing becomes tiring, break up the food with some good conversation and then return to the food slowly and deliberately between great talks with family and friends. You may have some pain afterward so use the pain relieving methods provided by your practitioners. If you don't have any or you don't have a practitioner, contact me and we can get started helping you have pain relieving strategies and resolving your pain.

  • Neck Pain at Dinner?

    Have you stopped going out with friends or stopped choosing the big social gatherings because your neck hurts to turn and look at people. Do you find yourself rubbing your neck or putting your back to others in order to hear the person next to you? These are common issues with mobility deficits (inability to turn the neck further) or with coordination impairments (unable to keep that position long). Okay, so these happen more commonly than I thought, this does not help me to return to my activities. What can I do? Choose a position at the table that may maximize your ability to see more people such as the end or a corner end that allows you to move the edge of the table as discussion continues. Try to choose a round table at a restaurant to allow for easier few of others Be deliberate about choosing your seat across from the person you are most interested in speaking to especially for larger gatherings. What can I do if none of these options are available? It may be an uncomfortable discussion in which you may have to turn your back to the person directly to your next side in order to speak more comfortably to the person next to you. The best thing is to explain this to the people around you, and you may be very surprised at how they assist in accommodating you to decrease your discomfort and include you in the conversation. Most of us understand difficulties and want to include others by helping to minimize their discomfort. Honesty is the best policy to continue to include you in the groups. Be deliberate about the table and your chair as well as the person you wish to speak to in order to minimize your pain. Ask for help from those around. You will be surprised how they will have creative solutions to help. I hope your family time is wonderful this season and that you can experience less pain while enjoying the food, conversation, and fun. If you need help, please reach out for assistance as we can improve your movement and decrease pain quickly with just a few appointments to prepare you for the fun of your Thanksgiving.

  • It’s Halloween. I have TMJ issues. What candy should I avoid?

    Halloween candy can be a dangerous world to navigate which so much fun and joy to be had with the variety and tastes. What is your favorite? Chocolate, nugget, nuts, gummies, airheads, laffy taffy, tootsie rolls, or all of the above? Jaw pain can make Halloween even more difficult with talking through a mask so I recommend no masks in your costume to reduce pressure on the face. Carrying heavy bags or children can increase the face pain through the neck. Remember to bring a wagon or stroller for the children and a good bag/bowl that is supported by the stroller to reduce your carrying needs. The candies to avoid are going to be the tougher and gummier ones. Things like the laffy taffy, airheads, tootsie rolls, etc are to much for a joint that has pain and most likely clicking or popping so stick with the chocolates. You choose not to partake of your favorite candy for the sake of your jaw but feel that this may ruin your holiday. Remember you can give yourself a treat to celebrate that may not cause you pain and still have a blast with friends and family. However you celebrate, next year you may be able to have some of those foods again with therapy and treatment. Reach out and get treatment so that you can get back to treating yourself with some of your favorite Halloween treats. Call today 352-727-0472 to start treatment.

  • What is a trigger point?

    Trigger points are something you probably have heard of from other health care professions, friends, family, and perhaps other therapists. Do you know what they are? Neither do we! The health care field describes them as taught bands of tissue within a muscle that cause referred pain. They can be active trigger points in that just sitting still and you have referred pain from the top of your shoulder to behind your ear. They can be latent trigger points in that the referred pain only happens when you touch the point. Either way, the tissue that is touched refers pain to another area that is not on the same nerve area. We don’t know exactly what they are as the health care field has done biopsy testing, biochemical testing, etc. We believe they are stemming from an energy deprivation in that the muscle was asked to endure a task beyond its normal capabilities and as it continues to try to accomplish what you are asking (sitting still and typing at your desk) the muscle becomes more and more depleted of the neurochemicals it needs to let go and relax thereby staying in an activated on state. This state further uses up the chemicals and gets stuck in an on position. This causes referred pain. So now that we have an idea of a trigger point, an area of muscle stuck in the on position, what can we do about them to stop the pain and alleviate the irritation? Great question! The quickest home thing you can do is to use a tennis ball or lacrosse ball on the spot a lean your body weight into the muscle. This is usually the least painful when you lean up against the wall. Lying down on the floor with it adds more weight and thereby more pressure so be careful and use as much pressure as you can tolerate. You should hold that for a minute or two until the referred pain (pain felt along the ear) stops or reduces greatly. You can do this as often as you need. If your trigger points continue to come back or are not relieved with this technique, you should seek help as a physical therapist can help quickly with soft tissue mobilization (like massage but not), manipulation of the joints that may be perpetuating the nerve stimulation (like chiropractic but not), dry needling to get the muscle to let go quickly (like acupuncture but not), and then exercises to strengthen and stabilize so that the muscles don‘t get into such an energy deprived state as they were before treatment. Seek out a physical therapist to assist you in reducing your pain quickly and getting you back to activity and work with less discomfort. Call me today to start your journey 352-727-0472.

  • I have whiplash! Now what?

    Whiplash is most notably given by a motor vehicle accident. However, whiplash can occur from any action in which the head is moved quickly through a range of motion. You can have whiplash from a tackle during a sport, a wrong gymnastic movement, a fall, a trampoline, etc. Let’s define whiplash as it is a broad term. Whiplash is an injury caused by a severe jerk of the head. Whiplash causes ligamentous stretching which in essence causes an instability of the neck in which the muscles quickly guard, tighten, to give the neck stability and information of where your head is in space. Whiplash is painful from the stretching of the ligaments (just like a bad ankle sprain) and the guarding of the muscles causing pressure, tension, and pain. These reflexive processes of the body are necessary for healing but are quite painful. So if they are natural and needed, then what do I do while I am healing from this injury about the pain? Your physician may prescribe non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) and/or Tylenol as well as a muscle relaxer. These can help the inflammatory pain and the muscles to relax. However, this should not be the only treatment. Physical therapy can assist with reducing the guarding and re-establishing the stability of the joints while they are healing. Initially, stretching is not indicated as the ligaments are already stretched and the guarding is reflexive. Stretching will relieve for a moment but overall cause more irritation and pain as the guarding will return and stronger. Whiplash treatment will include medication and therapy to assist with reducing the pain and tension by assisting the body to re-learn positional awareness, stabilize with active movements, and return strength to the postural muscles that were stretched during the injury. Therapy can be effective and quickly assist with healing especially when implemented early in the healing process. A certified manual physical therapist is best as these particular physical therapists will be able to perform the proper soft tissue release (like massage but not), manipulation (like chiropractics but not), dry needling (like acupuncture but not), and give the proper exercises to give you a whole healing process within the same treatments. If you have whiplash, seek a certified manual and dry needling therapist now to help you with your pain and return you back to you daily tasks and activities quickly. Call or text 352-727-0472 to begin your healing today.

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