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Health Q&A

Posted September 12, 2012 in Advice Column, Des Moines West

Q: What causes headaches?

A: There is no such thing as a “normal” headache. A headache is your body’s response to tell you that there is something wrong, and that your body is not functioning properly.

Sure, we can take pain medications to help ease or mask the pain associated with the headache, but the headache itself is not the issue.  There is always a “cause” to why we feel the pain of the headache. In many headache cases the “cause” can be traced back to over-worked, over-stressed and fatigued musculature found within the neck and around the skull. Nearly 78 percent of the population suffers from this type of headache, aptly named “tension headache”.
Typical tension headache symptoms may include:
• Dull, pressure-like pain.
• Generalized pain found in the scalp, temples or neck.
• Tight band or vise-like pressure on the head.
• Worsened or triggered by stress, fatigue or noise.

Chiropractic care has been found to be a reliable, successful means of treating the “cause” of tension headaches. Chiropractors identify areas within the spine and neck that are responsible for the over-stressed musculature and related spinal structure. Chiropractic adjustments help to realign the vertebrae within the spine and reduce the stress on the musculature within the neck and around the skull. To have your spine checked by Dr. Blum to see if we can help with your tension headaches, call Blum Family Chiropractic at (515) 277-2300.

Information provided by Dr. David Blum, Blum Family Chiropractic, 2903 Ingersoll Ave., 277-2300.

Q: Can nail-biting pose any dental problems?

A: Unfortunately, nail-biting is more than an unsightly habit. The habit can leave more than stunted fingernails. It can lead to problems with the temporomandibular joints, the joints in front of the ears where the jawbone meets, also known as the TMJs.

Any activity, like nail-biting, that involves holding the teeth in an unnatural position for extended periods increases the possibility of injury to the TMJ. Over a long period, the unnatural position of the jaws involved in nail-biting will stretch the muscles in the jaw, causing pain and throwing off balance of the TMJs. If a very young child begins the habit, it can contribute to a gap developing between the front two teeth. Also the type of person who is prone to nail and finger biting, may also be prone to picking at his or her gums.

Some dentists and physicians recommend putting a non-toxic, unpleasant-tasting lotion in the fingers. Other believe putting a bandage on a finger could serve as a reminder and deterrent. If you have a nail-biter in your house or you are yourself a nail-biter, talk with your dentist about ways to break the habit.

Information provided by Des Moines Dental Group, 708 First Ave S., 967-6611.

Q:  What are some options to treat fibromyalgia?

A: One of the chief complaints of fibromyalgia sufferers is the heightened sensitivity and therefore extreme discomfort, caused by the over-firing of their nerve endings. The root of this problem is found within the central nervous system. In chiropractic care the focus is on the central nervous system. A term you may have heard your chiropractor use is subluxation, which occurs when the spinal nerve is pinched between misaligned vertebrae. If a spinal nerve is pinched, it misfires and interferes with the nervous system signals as they travel throughout your body. This hampered nervous system is clearly troublesome for patients with fibromyalgia.

Chiropractic spinal adjustments combined with lifestyle coaching can greatly impact the effects of fibromyalgia. For instance, exercise is crucial for those who suffer from fibromyalgia. Low-impact exercises, such as walking, yoga, or swimming will help with control of pain and range of motion. Nutrition is another key component. With the assistance of a health care professional, you can learn which foods lead to inflammation and therefore should be avoided. There are also some key vitamins and other natural supplements that, when taken properly, can assist in your journey to a better quality of life.

Many chiropractic patients suffering from fibromyalgia who follow their treatment plans experience better sleep at night, increased energy, and, perhaps more importantly, relief from their pain and fatigue.

Information provided by Dr. Laura Rehmer, chiropractic physician, Whole Health Chiropractic Wellness Center, 855 42nd St., 277-0366.

Q: As an adult, is it too late for me to get braces?

A: Healthy teeth can be moved at any age, so there’s no such thing as “too old” for braces. In fact, nowadays about one out of every five orthodontic patients is an adult. Yet this figure represents only a small portion of adults who could actually benefit from orthodontic treatment.

Research has shown that the frequency of malocclusion (“mal” – bad; “occlusion” – bite) in adults is comparable to what we see in children and adolescents. Perhaps as many as three quarters of adults have some form of orthodontic problem — crowding of teeth or drifting of teeth after extractions, for example.

A great-looking smile is a surefire way to boost self-confidence, and studies have demonstrated that orthodontic treatment can even enhance an adult’s career opportunities and social life. There is also a potential health benefit, as misaligned teeth can be harder to clean, setting the stage for tooth decay and gum disease. Straightening teeth can also make chewing more comfortable. So there are many reasons to consider orthodontic treatment at any age.

What will determine if you are a good candidate for orthodontic treatment, then, will not be your age; it will be your current state of periodontal health (“peri” – around; “odont” – tooth), your general health and what type of problem you are trying to fix. Periodontal (gum) disease, which can lead to the loss of tooth-supporting bone, is more prevalent in adults than in adolescents.

Information from Dear Doctor magazine, provided by Dr. Dennis Winter, Iowa Dental Arts, P.C., 2651 Beaver Ave., 277-6657.

Q: I’ve heard of an increase in scams where seniors are victims. What can you tell me about this?

A: Sad, but true. My very own grandmother was a victim of a phone scam. Here are some strategies to protect yourself from this very real threat.
• Don’t give personal information on the phone, especially during calls you did not initiate.
• Don’t trust people are who they say they are. If the police are investigating, they will always do so in person.
• Beware of statements like “you must act now” or “you’ve won a free prize or vacation.” But you have to pay a postage and handling charge or some other fee. Never pay for a “free prize;” some scammers will tell you it is for taxes.
• Don’t buy over the phone from an unfamiliar company. Always check out new companies with the Better Business Bureau.
• If a scammer tells you a story, such as claiming to be a family member, and they ask for money to be wired or mailed to them but want you to keep it a secret, stop. Confirm any story you are being told.

Register for the Do Not Call Registry at 888-382-1222. This removes your phone number from the list of telemarketers.

Scammers are smart, but you can be smarter. Protect yourself using this information.

Information provided by Anne Peters, Home Instead Senior Care®, 221-0866.

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