CALL NOW! 416-929-6958
Headaches and Chiropractic Treatment

Headaches and Chiropractic Treatment

By Dr Antoine Barrier, DC

Headaches have many causes, or “triggers.” These may include foods, environmental stimuli (noises, lights, stress, etc.) and/or behaviors (insomnia, excessive exercise, blood sugar changes, etc.). About 5 percent of all headaches are warning signals caused by underlying serious physical ailments. The remaining 95 percent of headaches are primary headaches, such as tension, migraine, or cluster headaches. These types of headaches are not caused by disease; the headache itself is the primary concern.

The greatest majority of primary headaches are associated with muscle tension in the neck. Today, people engage in more sedentary activities than in the past, and more hours are spent in one fixed position or posture (such as sitting in front of a computer). This can increase joint irritation and muscle tension in the neck, upper back, and scalp, causing your head to ache.


What Can You Do?

If you spend a large amount of time in one fixed position, such as in front of a computer, on a sewing machine, typing or reading, take a break and stretch every 30 minutes to one hour. The stretches should take your head and neck through a comfortable range of motion.
Low-impact exercise may help relieve the pain associated with primary headaches. However, if you are prone to dull, throbbing headaches, avoid heavy exercise. Avoid teeth clenching. The upper teeth should never touch the lowers, except when swallowing. This results in stress at the temporomandibular joints (TMJ) – the two joints that connect your jaw to your skull – leading to TMJ irritation and a form of tension headaches.
Drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day to help avoid dehydration, which can lead to headaches.


What Can a Doctor of Chiropractic Do?

Research shows that spinal manipulation – one of the primary treatments provided by doctors of chiropractic – may be an effective treatment option for tension headaches and headaches that originate in the neck. A 2014 report in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics (JMPT) found that interventions commonly used in chiropractic care improved outcomes for the treatment of acute and chronic neck pain and the increased benefit was shown in several instances where a multimodal approach to neck pain had been used. Also, a 2011 JMPT study found that chiropractic care, including spinal manipulation, improves migraine and cervicogenic headaches.

Your doctor of chiropractic may do one or more of the following if you suffer from a primary headache:

  • Perform spinal manipulation or chiropractic adjustments to improve spinal function and alleviate the stress on your system.
  • Provide nutritional advice, recommending a change in diet and perhaps the addition of B complex vitamins.
  • Offer advice on posture, ergonomics (work postures), exercises and relaxation techniques. This advice should help to relieve the recurring joint irritation and tension in the muscles of the neck and upper back.

Doctors of chiropractic undergo extensive training to help their patients in many ways beyond just treatment for back pain. They know how tension in the spine relates to problems in other parts of the body, and they can take steps to relieve those problems.

Chiropractic for Neck, Back, and Sciatic Pain

Chiropractic for Neck, Back, and Sciatic Pain

Our chiropractor, Dr Antoine Barrier has recently published an article in a French local newspaper Toronto L’Express.

In his article he talks about how electronic devices that we use daily ( including cell phones) have a negative impact on our neck.  He also gives an advice on how to remedy the “text neck syndrome “.

With nearly 5 billion smartphone owners and a daily browsing time estimated at 6 hours, you are probably not spared by this situation. The “text neck syndrome” has been described by Dr. Dean L. Fishman, an American chiropractor.

The « text neck syndrome » is a source of neck pain secondary to your position while you are looking at your smartphone (or others electronic devices like iPads, laptops…). Indeed, an extended head position in flexion may induce some mechanical stress on your cervical spine and shoulders.

Sciatica:  Symptoms and Solutions

You feel some pain in your lower back going down to your leg, and sometimes to your foot: that could be sciatica.

Sciatica is characterized by pain along the sciatic nerve from your lumbar spine to your foot, mainly on the posterior side of the leg.

In 85% of cases, sciatica is caused by a disc herniation. A disc herniation is a protrusion of a damaged or weakened lumbar disc which can press down on the roots of the sciatic nerve and create pain along this nerve.

But there are other causes of sciatica: trauma, lumbar arthritis, heavy weight lifting, bad posture…

However, there are things you can do to prevent this kind of pain :

  • Pay attention to your posture: you need to keep your lower back as straight as possible.
  • Be careful while lifting, pushing or pulling heavyweight.
  • Strengthen your abdominal muscles to maintain and protect your lumbar spine. For that, you can practice plank exercises regularly.

To treat your sciatica, you have different options :

However, if you note abnormally increased pain, neurological symptoms (foot drop, bladder dysfunction, walking issues..) : consult your physician.

Dr. Antoine Barrier joined the Pacific Wellness Institute after successfully operating his practice in Toulouse, France for five years. He is available for chiropractic treatments in our clinic on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.  He welcomes existing patients for follow up visits and new patients for assessments and treatments.

Misconceptions and Facts About Chiropractic Treatment

Misconceptions and Facts About Chiropractic Treatment

Most people have heard about chiropractic care but may not be sure what is involved. If you’re considering seeing a chiropractor, it helps to get as much information as possible and learn all the facts before undergoing treatment.

But where do you start? Talking to family and friends can lead to the wrong information. In some cases, you may not hear the complete story. Misconceptions are common.

Debunking some of the myths associated with chiropractic care is one of the first steps to getting the complete picture of what’s involved. Below are some common misconceptions about chiropractic treatment.

Misconception: Chiropractic care is not considered mainstream treatment.

Reality: Chiropractic care does not involve any hocus pocus, potions, or strange treatment. The medical communities in many countries acknowledge the benefits and value of chiropractic care. Many physicians routinely recognize chiropractic care as an alternative conservative treatment for conditions, such as back and neck pain.

Various factors can interfere with the normal functioning of the nervous system. Chiropractors may help restore proper functioning of the nervous system, through spinal adjustments and other mobilization techniques.

Misconception: Chiropractors are not doctors.

Reality: Chiropractors are not medical doctors. But they do have a doctorate in chiropractic care. The training and educational requirements are lengthy and stringent. Similarly to medical doctors, chiropractors must have a four-year undergraduate degree. They also receive four to five years of additional education in a chiropractic training program. Chiropractic students take classes, such as anatomy, chemistry, and microbiology. Students are also trained in pathology, radiology, and rehabilitation. Hands-on experience while treating patients is also included in chiropractic programs. After completing the educational requirements, chiropractic students must pass national or provincial boards to become licensed.

Misconception: The only reason to see a chiropractor is to treat back pain.

Reality: Back pain is one of the most common adult complaints, and chiropractors do often treat back pain. But there are several other conditions and ailments that chiropractic care may help. For example, chiropractors often treat people with headaches, sports injuries, arthritis, foot pain, repetitive strain injuries and more.

Misconception: Chiropractors only do spinal adjustments.

Reality: Chiropractic adjustments involve applying some specific force in a certain direction to move the spine into proper alignment. Adjustments can help relieve pain and treat certain health conditions. But adjustments are not the only way chiropractors treat patients. Chiropractors may also use trigger point massage, myofascial release, electric current stimulation, and hydrotherapy in conjunction with spinal manipulations. 

Misconception: Adjustments are dangerous.

Reality: All medical treatments are associated with some risks. However, chiropractors are trained professionals that know how to safely carry out procedures based on a person’s condition, comfort level, and age. Studies have been conducted by research institutions, hospitals, and universities, which have indicated that chiropractic care is generally a safe treatment for most people with musculoskeletal disorders.

Misconception: Chiropractors are expensive.

Reality: The cost of chiropractor care varies based on the part of the country you live in. In the United States, for instance, it is usually not any more expensive than going to your doctor’s office. In Canada, most private insurance policies cover a specific number of chiropractic visits. Plus, when you consider the cost of doctor’s visits, medication, and missed work due to pain, chiropractic care could end up less costly.

Misconception: Chiropractic adjustments are painful.

Reality: If you are afraid an adjustment will hurt, you have nothing to worry about. Chiropractors have studied the muscular and skeletal system extensively and understand how to manipulate it in a way that would minimize any discomfort. In fact, not only do adjustments usually not hurt, most people find relief and reduced pain after a treatment.

Misconception: There is no scientific evidence that chiropractic care works.

Reality: According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, studies have indicated that chiropractic adjustments may reduce low back pain for some people. There is some conflicting research on the effectiveness of adjustments for conditions, such as TMJ, asthma, and fibromyalgia. But it can treat problems associated with headaches, neck and shoulder pain.

Related: New Study Supports Spinal Manipulation Therapy

The bottom line is that chiropractic treatment may not cure every kind of ailment and may not work for everyone. But depending on your condition, it may be helpful. Some people find regular adjustments to keep their spine healthy and prevent back pain episodes.

When do I Need Orthotics?

When do I Need Orthotics?

Shoes and Orthotics

The shoe is the interface between your foot and the ground. Your foot has the responsibility to support the rest of your body! A lot depends on the alignment of your foot and the quality of your shoes.


Do your shoes qualify as good footwear?

  1. Bends where the forefoot meets the base of the toes.
  2. Has a sturdy heel cup to support and connect your heel to the shoe complex.
  3. Demonstrates stiffness in torsion. That is, it should not be easily twisted
  4. The heel should be no higher than 1.5 inches.

A normal wearing pattern of the sole of your shoe from walking starts from the middle to outside of the heel and moves toward to the middle of your forefoot.

When do I need orthotics?

  1. When examining your shoes you notice unequal wear. Like the tires of a car, your shoes wear and tear will reflect your alignment. If you don’t already have foot problems, you may eventually experience it.
  1. When examining your feet you may have a high, medium, low or no arch in a non-weight bearing position which is all fine. The problem is if you notice that when weight-bearing your arch flattens.
  1. If you have foot or heel pain.
  1. If you have loose ligaments from previous ankle and foot injuries.
  1. If you are standing most of the day, especially on hard surfaces.

Orthotics control the damaging forces by creating proper alignment. By correcting foot and ankle alignment, the ground forces are properly distributed up through the knees, hips, pelvis and low back.

When buying shoes be sure to try on many shoes as possible. Try on one shoe from one pair and a different shoe on the other foot and compare the comfort and support. Shoes should be easy to put on and be immediately comfortable. Take your time with this process and bring your orthotics if you have them.

If you have foot and lower body problems that persist regardless of having good shoes, you may need orthotics, custom made or off the shelf, depending on your specialist’s recommendations.

Dr. Ron Green is available for chiropractic assessments and treatments at Pacific Wellness on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.  Dr. Green can prescribe orthotics to chiropractic patients.  Many employee benefits plans cover the cost of orthotics.  For coverage details and requirements check with your insurance provider.

Just Like a Car, You need a Tune-Up

Just Like a Car, You need a Tune-Up

Your body is a moving machine, and like a car, it is built to go about ”250,000 km”. With the right genetics and care, a few cars can go “300,000 km”. We can think of the spine as the chassis or carriage and the hips and shoulders as the wheels. The spine should remain in a neutral and strong position, and the hips and shoulders should be flexible and strong through its entire range of motion. Finally, like cars, we need repairs, alignment adjustments, and maintenance in order to prevent bigger problems.

Unlike cars, we get around in the upright position (unless you are swimming) with our spines designed to best deal with compression loads. When in good posture, we experience mostly compression stress, but when in bad posture, we incur more shearing stress on our spinal joints, tendons, and ligaments. This occurs in both static (sitting and standing) and dynamic postures. Essentially, bad posture equates to banging in a bent nail, resulting in pain and recurring injuries, add stress and breakdown occurs even faster.

Other factors that affect alignment include psychological state, energy levels, exercise and daily postures, previous injuries, weight, and genetic predisposition and vulnerability.

Your shoulders hips knees and ankle should all be aligned and sit directly on top of each other and all vertical and horizontal planes are straight. If all your joints are aligned, then your head sits properly on top of your shoulders and muscle strength and length will be even from side to side and front to back.

What affects alignment? Unresolved injury, chronic poor posture postural stress-causing muscular strength and length imbalance, genetics (ex. short leg) and sitting or standing for long periods of time.

To help fix poor alignment see a good chiropractor, as they are trained to be a ‘human body mechanic’ and learn the two most important posture exercises that can be performed anywhere, the Vacation Pose and the Short Foot. Finally, recognize poor postural habits and replace them with good ones.

Dr. Ron Green, DC provides chiropractic care at Pacific Wellness and is available for appointments four days a week.  If you would like to explore how chiropractic could help your pains and aches please call us at 416-929-6958. Chiropractic treatments are covered by most employee benefits.

Chiropractic Care of Sleep Problems

Chiropractic Care of Sleep Problems

by Chiropractor Toronto

Chiropractor care is often used to treat back and neck problems. But it can also be used to improve your overall health.

In fact, it might be surprising to learn that chiropractic care may improve your quality of sleep.

The Importance of Sleep

Sleep is one of the most important factors that affect your health. We all want a good night’s sleep, but it is easier said than done for many people. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about one out of every three adults in the United States report they do not get enough sleep.

Although sleep needs vary, most people need between seven and nine hours every night. But it appears about a third of adults are falling short. Regardless of the cause, lack of quality sleep can lead to a variety of problems. Both your physical and emotional well-being can be affected by poor sleep.

A variety of consequences can develop if you do not get enough sleep. Poor sleep can lead to memory problems, irritability, and depression. A lack of sleep can also decrease your ability to fight infection, which means it’s easier to acquire illnesses.

Sleep deprivation also increases your risk of getting into an accident. Driving in a drowsy state is thought to be a factor in thousands of car accidents each year in the United States.

Reasons for Poor Sleep

It’s clear we need sound sleep to function optimally, yet many of us don’t get enough sleep. Millions of people are walking around sleep-deprived. Why is adequate sleep so hard to come by for many people? Lack of sleep can occur due to several reasons, including:

Poor sleeping habits: A lack of shut-eye may develop due to poor sleeping habits, such as drinking too much coffee or caffeinated soda before bed. Going to bed at different times each night can also throw off your natural sleep rhythm. Sleeping on an uncomfortable bed can also affect sleep.

Pain: Chronic pain is also a big factor that affects sleep. Pain can make it difficult to fall asleep. Even if you manage to get to sleep; pain can jolt you awake. Although pain medication is an option, it can have negative side effects and lead to dependency.

Stress: Stress can also affect your ability to fall and stay asleep. If you’re worried or tense, it can increase stress hormones in your body, which can prevent your body from relaxing enough to fall asleep.

Sleep disorders: Sleep disorders are also the cause of poor sleep for millions of people. Sleep disorders may include conditions, such as sleep apnea, which involves obstruction of the airway during sleep. Restless leg syndrome, hypersomnia, and sleep-wake disorders can also rob you of the rest you need.

Treatments for sleep problems often vary based on the cause. Some sleep disorders may improve with conventional treatment. For example, sleep apnea may be treated by using a CPAP machine, which delivers pressure into the airway to keep it from becoming obstructed.

In other instances, traditional treatments for sleep problems, such as medication, can have unwanted side effects. Sleeping pills often have side effects including headache, prolonged drowsiness, and lightheadedness. Some medications for sleep can also be addictive.

RELATED: Acupuncture for Issues with Insomnia, Anxiety, and Attention

How Chiropractic Care Can Improve Sleep

One treatment you may not have considered for sleep problems is chiropractic care. When many people think of chiropractic care, they think it’s mostly for back pain. But chiropractic treatment can also improve the quality of your sleep.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, about 33 percent of people who have chiropractic care report immediate sleep improvements. That’s one of the great things about chiropractic care. Results are often felt the right way.

Chiropractic care can improve the function of the central nervous system. The central nervous system plays a key role in how efficiently your body functions. When your central nervous system is functioning optionally, it improves your overall health and your body performs better. It’s easier for your mind and body to relax so you can fall asleep.

A chiropractor focuses on correcting spinal misalignments and improving the health of your spine and entire body. You might wonder what that has to do with sleep. Pain, tension, and stress all affect how well you sleep. If your body is in better alignment and pain is eliminated, you’re more likely to fall asleep faster and sleep sounder.

In addition to treating pain and decreasing spinal problems, a chiropractor can also provide recommendations and tips on how to get better sleep. For example, your chiropractor may suggest a certain type of pillow or mattress. He or she may also recommend certain sleep positions based on any spinal problems you have.

Although chiropractic care may not always be the answer to sleep difficulties, it may be worth a try. Even if it does not treat your sleep problems, it will likely fix any spinal misalignments you have and improve your overall health.