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3 Ways to Handle Fibromyalgia Pain the Right Way

Finding the treatment that works best for your fibromyalgia symptoms can be difficult. When you suffer from pain, the quicker you find a solution the better. Although the exact cause of fibromyalgia is unknown, researchers believe that it is a result of genetics, stress or trauma and chemical/ hormonal imbalances in your body. Symptoms of fibromyalgia can range anywhere from muscle and joint pain or stiffness to fatigue, difficulty concentrating, unrefreshing sleep and even increased sensitivity to your surroundings and foods you consume. Below 3 of the best-known ways to handle your fibromyalgia symptoms the right way.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy seems to be the go-to method for fibromyalgia sufferers, and there is a reason for that. For many, this option can help increase your strength and improve the body’s range of motion. Regular sessions are necessary, but you learn a variety of techniques that are believed to reduce pain, fatigue and stiffness. Each case is unique and it is up to your physical therapist to create a routine that will best tend to your needs and goals. At Oakland Spine, our team uses a therapeutic deep tissue laser to alleviate pain and promote healing.

Massage Therapy

Natural pain relief remedies are preferred by many, and are considered to be the best way to handle fibromyalgia symptoms. Studies have shown that massage therapy can reduce fibromyalgia pain, and can also decrease both stress and anxiety. Remember that your muscles are sensitive when suffering from fibromyalgia, so it may not necessarily feel relaxing. Choosing the right massage therapist is key to seeing positive results from this method. If too much pressure is applied, more harm than good can be done.


Many swear by acupuncture as a great way to relieve fibromyalgia symptoms and we have had tremendous success in our office. This method increases blood flow to inflamed areas of the body and is used most often when trying to relieve muscle and joint stiffness, as well as chronic pain. When choosing acupuncture as a treatment option, it is important to choose an experienced professional to increase your chances of success.

Our highly trained, dedicated and caring physical therapy team is committed to treating Fibromyalgia symptoms and improving your life. And our SAME DAY GUARANTEE* is our way of showing you just how committed we are. Call us in the morning…see us in the afternoon!

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Splints

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Wrist splints are often a beneficial form of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome self-care, as they can assist in relieving the pressure within the carpal tunnel by restricting wrist flexion and extension. Because we cannot control the position of our wrist during sleep and the pressure on the nerve worsens the more it bends forwards or backwards, splints are most commonly used during sleep.

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Neck Pain – Drugs or Chiropractic?

When you have neck pain, do you instinctively reach for that bottle of ibuprofen or Tylenol? If so, is that the best option? Who can we trust for the answer? Since between 10-20% of the population suffer from chronic or persistent neck pain, this is a VERY IMPORTANT question!

If we look at the literature published in peer reviewed journals by authors who have no financial incentives in the outcome of the study, we can find accurate, non-biased information to answer this question. So, let’s start with a landmark study published in SPINE, a leading medical journal that reviewed ALL the publications printed between 2000 and 2010 on neck pain – a total of 32,000 articles with over 25,000 hours of review. (Haldeman S, Carroll L, Cassidy JD, et. al. The Bone and Joint Decade 2000-2010 Task Force on Neck Pain and Its Associated Disorders: Executive Summary. Spine 2008,33(4S):S5-S7). This resulted in a 220 page comprehensive report from a multidisciplinary International Task Force involving seven years of work from 50+ researchers from 19 different clinical scientific disciplines worldwide looking at the MOST EFFECTIVE approaches available (both surgical and non-surgical) for patients suffering from neck pain.

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CTS “Facts” Continued


Last month, we covered what Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is, its symptoms, causes, who is at risk, and how it's diagnosed. This month, we’ll center our focus on CTS treatment.

How is CTS treated? For the best success, treatment should begin as early as possible. Unfortunately, most people wait a long time before they get to the point where the symptoms interfere with daily activity enough to prompt them to act quickly and make an appointment. Once the cause or causes of CTS are determined, treatment can address ALL the presenting contributing conditions. The FIRST course of care should be NON-SURGICAL, though this is not always practiced – so be aware! Non-surgical care includes the following:

  1. Chiropractic:
    • Manipulation: This usually includes adjusting the small bones of the hand, the wrist, the forearm, elbow, shoulder, and/or the neck.
    • Soft-tissue therapy: This includes loosening up the overly tight forearm muscles where the median nerve runs through (on the palm side of the forearm).
    • Modalities: Such as electrical stimulation and/or laser/light therapy can be very beneficial in reducing swelling or inflammation. In chronic CTS, ultrasound may be helpful as well.
    • Nutritional: Nutrients such as vitamin B6 have been shown in studies to be effective in some cases. Also, anti-inflammatory herbs (ginger, turmeric, bioflavinoids) and/or digestive enzymes (bromelain, papain, and others) taken between meals are quite effective.
  2. Anti-inflammatory: The first important distinction is that ice can be very effective depending on how long the CTS has been present. In particular, ice cupping or rubbing ice directly on the skin over the carpal tunnel is the most effective way to use ice as an anti-inflammatory agent. When doing so, you will experience four stages of cooling: Cold, Burning, Achy, Numb or, “C-BAN.” It’s important to remember this as you are REALLY going to want to quit in the burning/achy stages when it feels uncomfortable. Once the skin over the wrist/carpal tunnel gets numb (which takes about four to five minutes) QUIT as the next “stage” of cooling is FROST BITE! Most medical practitioners promote the use of NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) like Advil, aspirin, or Aleve. However, these carry negative side effects including gastritis (burning in the stomach that can lead to ulcers), or liver and/or kidney damage. Try the nutritional anti-inflammatory approach FIRST as they are extremely helpful without the bad side effect potential!
  3. Diet: An ant-inflammatory diet, like the Paleo-diet or gluten free diet, serves as a great tool in reducing the inflammatory markers in the body. Though only 7-10% of the population has celiac disease (gluten intolerance), it’s been estimated that over 80% of us are gluten “sensitive.” Reducing systemic inflammation can make a BIG DIFFERENCE in the management of many conditions including CTS!
  4. Mechanical: Wrist “cock-up” splints can also be REALLY HELPFUL, especially for nighttime use. The reason for this is because when our wrist is bent forwards or backwards, which frequently occurs when sleeping, the pressure inside the carpal tunnel increases, and over time (minutes to hours), the increased pressure in the tunnel exerts compression on the median nerve which then creates numbness into the thumb, index, third and half of the fourth finger, which can wake you up out of a sound sleep. Keeping the wrist straight at night prevents you from curling your wrist under your jaw while sleeping.
  5. er station, line position, machine controls, pace or rate of repetitive movements, and more) is VERY effective.

NOTE: ALL of the above can be managed through the services offered at our clinic!

We realize you have a choice in whom you consider for your health care provision and we sincerely appreciate your trust in choosing our service for those needs. If you, a friend, or family member requires care for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, we would be honored to render our services.

Oakland Spine Offers Treatment Options for Spinal Stenosis

Most of us remember last summer’s scare when 14 people died after contracting spinal meningitis after infected epidural steroid injections. For weeks these stories were in the news, and as a result, medical laboratories across the country were closed down due to contaminated steroid injections sickening hundreds of people. But the question seldom asked is why did these individuals get these injections in the first place? Why are ESIs – or Epidural Spine Injections – so common, even if the risk of infection or other complications can be so high?

ESIs are commonplace procedures for people with persistent back pain, such as lumbar spinal stenosis. Last year, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimated that 14,000 people might have received spinal injections that were potentially infected. Even prior to the 2012 outbreak, this type of surgical procedure was deemed risky.

What can be done to treat spinal stenosis without the use of drugs and surgery? According to Dr. Brad Butler of Oakland Spine and Physical Therapy in Oakland, NJ, there are effective treatments for spinal stenosis that are non-invasive. “Using laser therapy and other treatment protocols, we’re able to significantly reduce the amount of pain and discomfort patients suffer from with lumbar and cervical spine stenosis,” said Dr. Butler. “Laser therapy is drug and pain free. It helps by stimulating tissue healing, circulation and fights inflammation of the spine. We have had amazing success with our program and, in some cases, completely resolved back pain issues with our patients.”

What causes spinal stenosis? Stenosis is, by definition, an abnormal narrowing of the spinal canal that can occur in any region of the spine. The most frequent types of stenosis are lumbar and cervical stenosis. Lumbar stenosis is a narrowing and compression of the spine at the lumbar vertebra, causing lower back pain and, in its severity, causing leg pain and problems walking. Cervical stenosis causes the same issues in the neck area, which can affect the neck, shoulders, arms and, for some, debilitating headaches. Why does narrowing of the spinal canal occur? As the body ages, many changes take place that can affect the spine. “The spinal cord is a collection of nerves leading from the brain to the lower back,” explains Dr. Butler. “When the spinal cord compresses, a squeezing of the nerves and cord in the spine changes how the spinal cord functions and causes stiffness, pain, and numbness.”

Dr. Butler’s therapy approach centers around combining traditional therapies, like physical therapy and chiropractic manipulation, with state of art technology, like spinal decompression and the LCT 1000 Deep Tissue (Class IV) laser therapy, the most targeted, powerful and therapeutic laser system available in medicine today. “The wavelengths, power density and optics of the LCT 1000 Deep Tissue (Class IV) laser system allow us to precisely target and deliver a therapeutic dose of laser that immediately stimulates tissue growth,” says Butler. “This type of therapy is critical for helping stenosis patients repair and regrow lost tissue. The energy used in laser therapy is actually helping the entire body by promoting better circulation. We have patients who immediately feel the relief of their pain.” Dr. Butler’s program also incorporates alternative therapies such as acupuncture and therapeutic massage.

What about painkillers? Do they work? For many years, patients were prescribed multiple varieties of pain medication to help alleviate pain and told to ‘rest.’ Dr. Butler explains that this outdated mode of thinking doesn’t really get to the root of the problem. “What we now know, through years of research and practice, is that pain medications only mask the problem. They’re simply not a cure,” he says. “While you may feel relief from pain, pressure and soreness, as soon as you stop taking these oral medications, the pain very commonly comes back. The only way to see long-term relief is through treating the cause of the problem. Our goal is to help patients heal and live healthier, more active lives. We don’t just treat patients in crisis mode; we aim to see our patients feeling their best and maximizing their care to help them stay active, healthy and happy.”

To learn more about Dr. Butler and make an appointment for a free evaluation, call (201) 465-4731 or visit their website at

Fibromyalgia (FM) Facts

What is Fibromyalgia Anyway?
Fibromyalgia (FM) is a disabling condition of the myofascia, or the fibrous connective tissues that surround muscles, that can include widespread musculoskeletal pain along with fatigue, sleep disturbance, memory changes, mood changes and more. Fibromyalgia is an epidemic diagnosis and continues to grow. The most affected group is women from the age of 30 to 50.

Studies show that FM amplifies or increases painful sensations by changing the way the brain processes pain signals. FM is NOT a psychological disorder that only people with a troubled past or present acquire. Nor is it due to being inactive or lazy.

What are the Symptoms of Fibromyalgia?

  • Chronic muscle and joint pain, muscle stiffness, leg cramps
  • Painful trigger points – small penny-sized tender spots scattered over the body in 18 specific target areas
  • Unrefreshing sleep, insomnia, depression, anxiety
  • Fatigue, sometimes overwhelming
  • Increased sensitivity to drugs, chemicals, foods, light and/or sound, changes in temperature
  • Dizziness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Numbness or tingling of arms, legs or feet
  • Irritable bowel, irritable bladder

What Causes Fibromyalgia?
Most researchers believe fibromyalgia is caused by a combination of factors, which may include genetic predisposition, stress, trauma, and chemical or hormonal imbalances. A deficiency of the neurotransmitter serotonin, responsible for its calming, anti-anxiety properties, has been highly implicated, especially since women have lower serotonin levels than men, and patients given SSRI medication (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) such as Zoloft, Cymbalta or Lyrica, have shown improvements in Fibromyalgia symptoms.

In 1990, the American College of Rheumatology established 2 criteria for diagnosing FM. The first is widespread pain lasting at least 3 months, and the second is the presence of at least 11 out of 18 positive tender points. Since then, less emphasis has been placed on the exact number of tender points, while ruling out other possible underlying conditions that might be causing the pain is now utilized. Treatment is best approached by a “team effort” combining the skills from multiple disciplines including a primary care doctor who “believes in FM” and is willing to work with chiropractors, and others. Exercising, pacing yourself, accepting your limitations, yoga, psychological counseling, nutritional counseling, and having strong family/friend support are all important in the management of FM.

What Treatments are Available for Fibromyalgia?
In addition to numerous drugs on the market, many people find relief using physical modalities to treat their symptoms. Traditional therapies like chiropractic manipulations, physical therapy and massage therapy have produced high levels of lasting success for many. In addition, new research is proving the benefits of acupuncture. Finally, new technology like class IV deep tissue laser therapy to treat the pain points can also be very effective.

Reprinted with permission from Think Teachers Magazine.

Questions About Sciatica Answered

What is Sciatica?
Back injury doctors will tell you that sciatica is a condition in which pain originating from the low back or buttock area travels down one or both legs. The pain of sciatica has been described as achy, sharp, tingling, or has sometimes been likened to electric shocks. Pain can be mild, moderate or severe, infrequent or constant, depending on the degree of nerve involvement.

What Causes Sciatica?
Sciatica is usually caused by compression of the sciatic nerve, a large nerve originating at the base of the spine. This compression can be caused by subluxations (misalignment) of the lower spine; herniated or bulging discs; pregnancy and childbirth (when pelvic bones shift and the tissues surrounding them are softer and more movable); tumors or diabetes.

Sciatica is often a result of Piriformis Syndrome. The piriformis muscle is located in the lower spine and is involved in hip rotation. The sciatic nerve is located directly beneath the piriformis muscle, so any injury or disorder affecting this muscle can result in pinching of the sciatic nerve.

How Does a Back Pain Specialist Treat Sciatica?
Initially the doctor will need to accurately diagnose the cause of a patient’s sciatica. This involves taking the patient’s medical history, conducting a thorough physical and neurological examination and employing various diagnostic tests, including X-ray, MRI, CT scans and, if needed nerve testing including electromyography. In most cases, sciatica can be treated non-surgically and non-invasively.

Therapy will be customized based on the most effective way for the patient’s body to begin to heal itself, and may include physical therapy, ice/cold therapy, electrical stimulation (TENS), and spinal manipulation. Advanced therapies such as spinal decompression and deep tissue medical laser therapy can also create dramatic results.

Reprinted with permission from Think Teachers Magazine.