Posts by Dr. John Helton
There are many different kinds of headache, but one of the most common types is known as "cervicogenic headache," or those that originate in your neck.
Dr. Helton sees a lot of people in our Portland office who are struggling with frequent, reoccurring headaches. Fortunately, chiropractic adjustments can often help, potentially reducing these types of headaches by 50%, and research confirms it.
A study was conducted involving 80 participants who reported experiencing at least five cervicogenic headaches during the prior three months. The goal was to discover how effective chiropractic was for this type of head pain, as well as to determine the number of treatment sessions necessary to achieve a positive effect.
The subjects were divided into four separate groups, so that each group was similar in age, gender, number of cervicogenic headaches, and their intensity. Of the four groups, two engaged in chiropractic treatments and two received light massage. Furthermore, one group assigned to each treatment received eight sessions and the other patients received twice that amount.
Each person was assessed based on head pain, neck pain, and disability prior to the study and 12 and 24 weeks after treatment was complete. The authors found that those who received chiropractic as opposed to massage reported fewer headaches at the conclusion of the study. Furthermore, improvements were maintained when checked six months after treatment ended.
Additionally, individuals who were taking medications for their headaches were able to lower their intake after completing the study. Those who received chiropractic care had lower medication usage 24 weeks post-study.
Dr. Helton has helped many patients who were suffering from headache pain in our Portland office. Call us today at (503) 771-1974 for more information or for an appointment.
Haas M, Spegman A, Peterson D, Aickin M, Vavrek D. Dose response and efficacy of spinal manipulation for chronic cervicogenic headache: a pilot randomized controlled trial. The Spine Journal 2010; 10: 117-128.
Every year, over 500,000 people have back surgery in the US. Although in some cases it's necessary to have surgery for back pain, the reality is that if you can prevent this type of invasive procedure, you're often better off.
Dr. Helton is here to make sure that patients in Portland have a natural, non-surgical option for back pain. We've helped many people heal from back pain without the need for surgery.
There are plenty of reasons to avoid unnecessary medical treatments: Surgeries often result in a longer recovery time and additional complications, neither of which is a desirable scenario. Luckily, as one study has found, chiropractic may actually keep you out of the operating room completely.
In this report, 1,885 workers with back injuries were examined over a three year period. When the workers first sought treatment with a surgeon, over 42 percent wound up having back surgery. For subjects who saw only a chiropractor, only 1.5 percent had surgery!
These findings indicate that chiropractic care can help you heal from back pain without surgical treatments.
If you live in the Portland area, Dr. Helton can probably help you with your back pain. Give our office a call today at (503) 771-1974 for more information or an appointment.
Keeney BJ, Fulton-Kehoe D, Turner JA, et al. Early predictors of lumbar spine surgery after occupational back injury: results from a prospective study of workers in Washington State. Spine 2013;38(11):953-964.
Of the over 2 million rear-end accidents in the US annually, a substantial number of men and women end up enduring long-term pain and disability. Some studies have shown that 1 out of 5 people are still in pain one year after a crash.
Dr. Helton sees many accident cases in our Portland office, and we regularly see people who have been suffering for many years and have not been able to find help. Dr. Helton has great success in helping these patients.
The Cause of Chronic Pain
During a crash, the ligaments of your neck and back can be stretched or torn. The damaged area becomes swollen and inflamed and transmits pain signals to the spinal cord and central nervous system.
Pain tells your central nervous system that something is wrong, which tells the muscle tissues in the injured area to contract to shield the area from further injury.
If the injury isn't addressed right away, a negative cycle develops. The hurt tissues keep sending pain signals and each time, your central nervous system reacts. This brings about a feedback loop in your nervous system that specialists refer to as "central sensitization." Your nervous system actually becomes hypersensitive to any kind of stimulus, leading to chronic pain.
Dr. Helton is able to help this kind of problem, as chiropractic is a proven way to restore the nervous system's healthy functioning. Research shows that adjustments are effective at relieving pain from car crashes and shows that chiropractic in fact has positive effects on the pain centers of the brain.
If you live in Portland and have been in a collision, you don't have to suffer with chronic pain. Give Dr. Helton a call today at (503) 771-1974 for a consultation or appointment.
- Ferrari R. A prospective study of the 1-year incidence of fibromyalgia after acute whiplash injury. Rheumatic & Musculoskeletal Disease 2015; doi:10.1136/rmdopen-2014-000007.
- Stone AM, Vicenzino B, Lim EC, Sterling M. Measures of central hyperexcitability in chronic whiplash associated disorder - A systematic review and meta-analysis. Manual Therapy 2012;18(2):111-7.
The beauty of functional medicine is it puts your health journey in your hands. The curse of functional medicine is that, compared to popping a pill, eating healthy takes more time, which can feel stressful. Enter the Instant Pot, a relatively new kitchen appliance that is simple to use, makes it easy to stick to a whole foods diet, and takes a lot of stress out of cooking when your schedule is hectic.
What makes the Instant Pot a good functional medicine tool?
The Instant Pot’s success is in its multiple features and that it produces consistent results. The Instant Pot sautés, foolproof pressure cooks, slow cooks, makes yogurt, functions as a rice cooker, and quickly makes bone broths.
It is conducive to big batch meals that will create nutritious leftovers for a few days.
Here are some ways the Instant Pot can help you save time in the kitchen without sacrificing nutrition:
Cooks frozen meats. How many times have you forgotten to put the meat out to thaw for dinner? You can put your frozen meat in the Instant Pot and still have stew for dinner.
Cuts down on dishwashing. The Instant Pot allows you to do multiple things in one pot, cutting down on dirty pots and pans. For instance, you can sauté the onions and brown the meat in the same pot you cook your stew in. Additionally, you can cook in Pyrex bowls inside the Instant Pot, which can then be stored in the fridge and used as a lunch container.
Removes the stress of timing. Once you put your meal in the Instant Pot, you press a button for how long it needs to cook and then you can walk away. Not only will it shut itself off, it will also keep food warm for up to 10 hours. It makes reliable hard boiled eggs, and some people even crack their raw eggs into a bowl before cooking for a quick and easy egg salad that doesn’t require peeling egg shells.
Takes the complexity out of pressure cooking. The Instant Pot’s most popular feature is pressure cooking, which radically shortens cooking times. Best of all, it uses a foolproof design so you don’t have to worry about blowing up your kitchen.
It’s a great slow cooker. One of the most satisfying dinners is the one you make in the morning and it’s waiting hot for you in the evening. In addition to cooking quickly, the Instant Pot is a great slow cooker, and you can brown the meat in the same pot.
Makes dairy-free yogurt. Yogurt is a delicious and convenient snack that is hard to give up when you go dairy-free. Dairy-free yogurts are expensive and filled with thickening gums, which are irritating and immune reactive for many people. The Instant Pot is a great dairy-free yogurt maker, using gelatin or chia as a thickener. You will need to order a high-quality brand of coconut milk however, for a good end result.
Easy squash and root veggie cooking. Peeling and chopping squash and root veggies can be a real deterrent to including them in your diet. No worries, just toss them in the Instant Pot whole and then peel, seed, and chop them after they’re cooked. Cooking more fragile vegetables such as broccoli, however, is best left to the stove top steam basket to avoid overcooking.
These are just a few of the ways the Instant Pot can be a part of a functional medicine protocol to help you manage a chronic health disorder. Don't be intimidated by it — the learning curve is quick and you’ll soon be able to intuit how to use it. The internet abounds with tips, recipes, and general enthusiasm to get you up to speed.
When you're trying to sustain your family, take care of your household, and pay all of your bills on time, every day at work counts. Work injuries can be a serious problem for many people, and we see many of these types of injuries in our Portland office. Dr. Helton appreciates your situation and is here to help.
The benefits of chiropractic care for work injuries are well-documented. A 2013 survey involving 651 adults who were suffering with either back or neck pain found that the individuals who didn't see a chiropractor missed work at twice the rate of those who were seeing a chiropractor.
So, why don't more people use chiropractic care?
According to the participants in this study, two of the major factors were that they thought they needed a medical referral for chiropractic care (which is typically no longer true) and they overestimated the costs associated with chiropractic treatment sessions by almost 70 percent.
The fact is, chiropractic patients actually spend less on care than medical patients, plus they are less likely to use drugs for their symptoms.
If you live in Portland and you've been injured at work, we can help. Give our office a call today at (503) 771-1974 for an appointment.
"Thousands of Minnesotans with Back and Neck Pain Don't Seek Treatment." (2013, June 12). ChiroCare.
We see a lot of sports injuries in our Portland clinic, and Dr. Helton is usually able to help these athletes. Stanford Children’s Hospital reports that over 3.5 million children of the ages 14 and younger are injured each year when playing sports. Add that to the close to 2 million adults injured every year while participating in sports-related activities, as reported by statistics collected by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and you can begin to see the necessity of preventing these sorts of widespread injuries. One way to potentially achieve that goal, as stated in a study published in BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders, is to engage in routine chiropractic treatments.
In Australian Rules football, hamstring and other leg traumas are commonplace, often sidelining the players and impacting their team's odds of winning. One particular study was conducted using 59 semi-elite Australian Rules footballers to see how well chiropractic could diminish these injuries and help keep them in the game.
For this study specifically, every one of the players was given medical treatment. Furthermore, half of them also were given chiropractic treatments at the rate of one treatment each week for the first six weeks, biweekly sessions for the following three months, and one treatment per month for the remaining 3 months of the study. The other group were given no chiropractic intervention whatsoever and were used as the control group to determine the benefits of chiropractic care.
Following twenty-four matches, researchers noted a diminished number of lower limb muscle strains in the group that had received chiropractic care. Additionally, that very group also missed fewer matches connected to non-contact knee injuries. This lead the researchers to come to the conclusion that chiropractic ought to be added to sports training programs to dramatically lessen the amount of leg injuries.
If you or your child are active in sports and you want to make sure more time is dedicated on the field versus on the sidelines, call our Portland office at (503) 771-1974 and schedule an appointment today. We will do our best to keep you in the game!
- Hoskins, W, & Pollard, H. (2010, April 8). The effect of a sports chiropractic manual therapy intervention on the prevention of back pain, hamstring and lower limb injuries in semi-elite Australian Rules footballers: a randomized controlled trial. BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders, 11(64), doi:10.1186/1471-2474-11-64
- Misra, A. (2014, March 17). Common sports injuries: Incidence and average charges. Department of Health & Human Services.
- Stanford Children’s Hospital. (n.d.). Sports injury statistics.
According to research, about 5 percent of the population will experience painful problems like frozen shoulder syndrome at some point in their lives. That makes shoulder-related pain a common occurrence and one that Dr. Helton sees in our Portland office on a regular basis.
Generally, this ailment is more prevalent for people in their 40s, 50s, and 60s, and it tends to affect women more frequently than men. While ice, heat, and gentle stretching can sometimes help alleviate the pain, so too can chiropractic adjustments.
As an example, one study published in the Journal of Chiropractic Medicine looked at 50 people with frozen shoulder who were given chiropractic care. The length of care ranged from 11 days to 51 days, with 28 days being the average.
The researchers found that nearly all of the patients fared very well with chiropractic care. Here are the results:
• 8 of the subjects reported 50-75 percent improvement
• 25 indicated improvement ranging from 75- 90 percent
• 1 participant had complete resolution of their frozen shoulder pain
Only one of the original 50 reported an improvement of 50 percent or less, so studies like this show just how effective chiropractic care can be when it comes to decreasing shoulder pain and improving quality of life.
Let Dr. Helton help you ease your pain by contacting our Portland office and scheduling your appointment today.
Murphy F et al. (2012, December). Chiropractic management of frozen shoulder syndrome using a novel technique: a retrospective case series of 50 patients. Journal of Chiropractic Medicine;11(4):267-272
Do you have mysterious health symptoms — such as fatigue, pain, brain fog, unexplained weight gain — that rob you of your quality of life, but lab tests and doctors keep saying nothing is wrong? Or maybe doctors tell you your chronic symptoms are depression and you need an antidepressant. Maybe you’ve even been accused of complaining too much.
Most people know when something is wrong with them, even if lab tests come back normal and doctors say you’re fine. This is because the standard health care model does not screen for autoimmunity — a disorder than occurs when your immune system attacks and destroys your own tissue. You can suffer from symptoms of undiagnosed autoimmunity for years and even decades before it is severe enough to be diagnosed and treated in the conventional medical model.
Fortunately, in functional medicine we can screen for autoimmunity against multiple tissues in the body at once. Knowing an autoimmune reaction is causing your symptoms can remove the mystery and bring significant peace of mind. It is confirmation your health symptoms are real and proof you are not a whiner or hypochondriac.
We identify autoimmunity by testing for antibodies in the blood against a particular tissue. For instance, we can screen for Hashimoto’s, an autoimmune thyroid disease that causes hypothyroidism, by testing for immune antibodies against thyroid peroxidase (TPO) and thyroglobulin (TGB). Positive results mean autoimmunity is causing your hypothyroid symptoms of weight gain, depression, fatigue, constipation, cold hands and feet, and hair loss.
Cyrex Labs tests for 24 different types of autoimmunity at once. The panel is called Array 5 Multiple Autoimmune Reactivity Screen. It is more cost effective than testing for each autoimmunity individually, and Cyrex Labs tests are highly sensitive. To do the test, simply ask us for the kit, take it to an approved blood draw center, and we will send you the results.
If your test results are “positive” or “equivocal,” it means your immune system is attacking that tissue. You may not even have symptoms yet. This is a best-case scenario because managing your health with functional medicine can prevent the autoimmunity from progressing.
Array 5 screens for the following autoimmunities:
- Parietal cell and ATPase instrinsic factor: Stomach autoimmunity
- ASCA, ANCA, and tropomyosin: Intestinal autoimmunity
- Thyroglobulin and thyroid peroxidase: Thyroid autoimmunity
- 21 hydroxylase (adrenal cortex): Adrenal autoimmunity
- Myocardial peptide, alpha-myosin: Cardiac autoimmunity
- Phospholipid platelet glycoprotein: Phospholipid autoimmunity
- Ovary/Testes: Reproductive organ autoimmunity
- Fibulin, collagen complex, arthritic peptide: Joint autoimmunity
- Osteocyte: Bone autoimmunity
- Cytochrome P450 (hepatocyte): Liver autoimmunity
- Insulin, islet cell, glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD): Pancreatic autoimmunity
- GAD, myelin basic protein, asialoganglioside, alpha and beta tubulin, cerebellar, synapsin: Neurological autoimmunity
If you have no but a positive result, then you may be able to prevent the autoimmunity from expressing itself. If you have symptoms that correspond with a positive test result, other testing may help you track your condition. For instance, if you test positive for Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, follow up with thyroid testing will track the severity.
Knowing you have an autoimmune reaction means you can halt its progression and prevent it from worsening. This can mean preventing or even reversing devastating and debilitating symptoms.
Ask my office for more advice.
The 2017 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded to researchers for their discoveries of molecular mechanisms that control circadian rhythm, our biological “clock.” This sleep-wake cycle helps us move between sleepiness and alertness at regular intervals, and regulates important functions such as:
- Mood Immunity
- Brain function
- Hormone levels
Although we’ve long known the circadian rhythm exists, the Nobel laureates isolated the gene that controls it and identified the proteins that govern its cyclical function.
The importance of healthy circadian rhythm
Humans are similar to other animals in that our internal clocks are set to the rising and setting of the sun. A healthy sleep-wake cycle is critical for many aspects of our health. Circadian rhythm imbalances increase risk for heart disease, obesity, mood disturbances, diabetes, cancer, dementia, and Alzheimer’s.
Despite the circadian rhythm’s intuitive design, our modern lives tend to sabotage its critical balance. Some disruptive factors can’t be avoided while others can, but for most we have the tools to minimize the negative effects.
Daylight savings wrecks the biological clock each year
Daylight savings time changes throw a kink in our daily rhythm. The time change is minimal, but studies show rates of driving fatalities, workplace injuries, suicides, and heart attacks rise after the spring-forward change. And night owls take the longest to recover.
Prepare for daylight savings time by shifting your bedtime and waking time a bit every day the week before.
Traveling across time zones
Everyone laments how jet lag can wipe you out. Jet lag occurs when the time of day doesn’t line up with your body’s clock. Crossing two time zones should take you about a day of readjustment; crossing six could take three days or more. But beware; chronic time zone jumping can lead to a suppressed immune system, chronic fatigue, and memory issues.
Plan ahead by moving your body’s time clock toward the destination time zone during the week before.
Hydrate before and during the trip.
Choose a flight that gets to your destination in early evening and stay up only until 10 p.m. local time. If you arrive early and are exhausted, take a two-hour nap but no longer.
Once at your destination, expose yourself to the sun’s rays to help your body sync up with the new time zone.
Poor sleep habits
Twenty percent of the population is estimated to sleep too little (less than 6 hours a night); this can lead to changes in genes that regulate stress, our immune system, sleep-wake cycles, inflammation, and aging. Chronic sleep deprivation is linked to heart disease, diabetes, obesity, stress, inflammation, dementia, and depression.
The CDC says insufficient sleep is a public health epidemic and research has established that the constant exposure to blue light from electronic devices is a major culprit.
Blue light and screen time
Changes in the levels of the hormone melatonin in your body are what make you fall asleep. During a normal day, morning light stimulates the body to decrease your melatonin level, promoting wakefulness, then as the day darkens, melatonin increases to encourage sleep.
However, adults and children disrupt this cycle by using smart phones and tablets late into the night. This can cause chronic insomnia because the blue light these devices emit is perceived by our brains as daytime light, which suppresses melatonin and keeps us awake.
Minimize blue screen time. Read a book instead. Turn off all screens (phone included) two hours before bed. If you can’t do that, get a pair of orange safety glasses.
Improper daytime and nighttime light exposure
Proper patterns of light exposure during the day are a major factor affecting how well we sleep.
Start each day with as much bright light as possible. Eat breakfast with as many lights on as possible to stimulate serotonin production, which helps melatonin production later in the day.
Get light during the day at home and work. Open the shades; turn on all the lights (try full-spectrum); sit by a window and look out often; take a walk outside during your breaks.
Minimize light in the evening by dimming or turning off unnecessary lights. Put orange bulbs in lamps you use at night, especially next to your bed and for reading. This helps to jump start melatonin production in preparation for sleep.
Lack of sunlight
Patterns of light during the day aren’t the only way light affects our circadian rhythm; exposure to actual sunlight is key for healthy function of the body and brain.
Research shows the average person spends less than an hour a day outside. Shift workers spend even less time outdoors. Lack of exposure to sunlight inhibits production of melatonin, affecting sleep and potentially affecting our ability to produce Vitamin D, key for bone health, mood regulation, and immune function.
Get direct sunlight every day. If you can’t get outside, use a quality light box early in the day.
Go sunglasses-free even for just 10–15 minutes, to provide beneficial sunlight exposure to your eyes and brain.
Respecting our body’s natural rhythm
Your body’s innate sleep cycle is largely controlled by the amount and pattern of light and dark you are exposed to each day. By managing the lifestyle factors that disrupt your circadian rhythm, you will support your body’s ability to function well and stay healthy. For help with sleep issues, please contact my office.
It’s not easy being female — the hormonal ups and downs each month through puberty and then menopause can range from mildly irritating to downright debilitating. Although many, if not most, women suffer from some degree of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), the extreme health and mood imbalances associated with PMS and menopause are a sign your system is out of whack, most likely because of stress.
Hormone balance is very sensitive to stress, inflammation, toxins, poor diet, sleep deprivation, lack of exercise, too little sunlight, and other common factors of modern life. Because the reproductive hormones play an important role in brain health, mood, and brain inflammation, when they’re off, brain function and mood suffer.
In women, imbalances are characterized by excess estrogen, insufficient progesterone, or too much testosterone. Stress and blood sugar that is either too low (hypoglycemia) or too high (insulin resistance) are the most common culprits of PMS symptoms and a miserable menopause transition.
Symptoms of hormonal imbalances in women include:
- Frequent or irregular menstruation
- Mood instability
- Problems sleeping
- Changes in weight or appetite
- Crying easily
- Poor concentration
- Low libido
Low progesterone from chronic stress
One of the more common reasons for hormonal imbalance is low progesterone caused by chronic stress. This is a mechanism called “pregnenolone steal,” when chronic stress robs the compounds needed to make progesterone in order to make stress hormones instead. This leads to PMS and sets the stage for a miserable menopause transition.
When it comes to stress, the brain does not know whether you are angry at traffic, soaring and crashing after snacking on a glazed donut and triple-shot caramel latte, or narrowly escaping being trampled by a bison. All it knows is to prepare for fight or flight and that reproduction hormones can wait until things have settled down. But for many sleep-deprived, over-stressed Americans fueled on caffeine and sugar, settling down rarely truly happens.
The fix isn’t necessarily in a tub of progesterone cream; first address the sources of stress. A primary stress-buster is a diet that stabilizes blood sugar. People often either eat too infrequently and too sparingly, or they overeat and eat too much sugar. Both are stressful for the body.
Here are some other common causes of chronic stress that lead to miserable PMS and menopause:
- Sugar, sweeteners, starchy foods (rice, pasta, bread, etc.), too much caffeine
- Food sensitivities (gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, corn, nuts, grains, etc.)
- Leaky gut and gut inflammation symptoms — gas, bloating, indigestion, heartburn, diarrhea, constipation, stomach pain, irritable bowel
- Sleep deprivation
- Pain and inflammation — joint and muscle pain, skin rashes, respiratory issues, brain fog, fatigue, depression
- Autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism
- Overdoing it, over exercising, not taking time for yourself
- Bad diet of junk foods, fast foods, processed foods
Restoring hormonal balance naturally
Ideas to halt pregnenolone steal include an anti-inflammatory diet, stabilizing blood sugar, restoring gut health, dampening pain and inflammation, and managing autoimmunity. These are functional medicine basics. Make sure you are eating the right amounts and kinds of essential fatty acids. Additionally, certain botanicals are effective in supporting female hormone health and the body’s stress handling systems. Ask my office for more advice.