What All of Us Can Do to Stop the Opioid Epidemic

Senior male doctor opioidsIn the previous post, I discussed the real reasons for the opioid epidemic in our country. A letter was published in a highly respected medical journal that discussed flawed research about the risk of addiction when using prescription opioids for pain management. This led to several other similarly flawed studies.

Of course, big pharma capitalized on this by lobbying hard to ease restrictions on the use of opioids for non-cancer pain. In just 16 years, the number of opioid overdoses quadrupled, leading to the epidemic we face today.

While heroin, an illegal opioid drug, is a very serious problem, the overprescription of legal opioids, such as Oxycontin, Vicodin and Percocet, causes the vast majority of overdoses and deaths.

In fact, a National Safety Council survey found that 99 percent of doctors who prescribe narcotic painkillers give their patients prescriptions that exceed the three-day dosage recommended by the federal government.

99 percent. Let that sink in for a second.

The study found that nearly a quarter of doctors prescribe month-long dosages. Only a third ask about the patient’s family history of addiction, and only 5 percent offer help to patients when signs of abuse are detected.

Although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has rolled out strict prescription guidelines and the FDA has ordered the use of warning labels, the opioid crisis continues to be a real stain on the fabric of our healthcare system. The very industries that exist to help us stay healthy are the ones that created this epidemic.

I see the sad effects of this every day in clinical practice.

I believe my job as a healthcare provider is to identify solutions for treating pain, inflammation and muscle spasms that don’t involve the aggressive use of medication, injections or surgery.

Now I’m not naïve. My patients need surgery from time to time. Thank God we have surgeons. Thank God we have epidurals. Thank God my wife had pain medication when she went through five C-sections. There’s a time and a place for pain medication, but only when used sparingly and temporarily.

The safer, healthier approach to treating pain is non-medical and non-pharmaceutical. It involves chiropractic care, physical therapy, acupuncture and therapeutic massage. It involves customized clinical nutritional protocols, exercise programs and stress management. If necessary, treatment might involve nutraceuticals such as natural anti-inflammatories, natural muscle relaxers, and natural painkillers. I use them every day in clinical practice. For example, curcumin, turmeric and fish oil can be used to treat acute and chronic pain and inflammation.

A Medicaid pilot project in Rhode Island found that an integrated chronic pain program consisting of chiropractic, massage, acupuncture and stress reduction produced fantastic results for participants. Opioid prescriptions, emergency room visits, and total claim costs dropped significantly. A survey of participants found that 92 percent agree or strongly agree that their pain level was reduced, and 82 percent believe their quality of life has improved.

If you’re having a painful episode, such as headaches, carpal tunnel syndrome, sciatica, or pain in your back, neck, shoulder or leg, seek treatment that views medication and surgery as last resorts. Even if your pain is related to an organ, like Crohn’s disease or irritable bowel syndrome, you don’t have to look for relief in a bottle.

To fix the opioid epidemic, doctors need to stop overprescribing opioids. As healthcare consumers, we all need to become educated about not just the brand names that appear on the label, but the ingredients and the risk they create. We need to resist the urge to rely on the “non-addictive opioids” that, as I write this, big pharma is testing and trying to get approved for sale to medical offices. Instead, we should look for treatment methods that stimulate the body’s natural healing ability.

Health literacy is the key to longevity. We all need to understand what we put in our bodies so we can make better decisions and take control of our health.

 

About Dr. James Proodian

Dr. James Proodian is an accomplished chiropractic physician, health educator, and professional public speaker who founded Proodian Healthcare Family of Companies to help people feel better, function better, and live longer. His expertise is in identifying clinical imbalances and restoring the body to health and functionality. Contact: jproodian@naturalhc.com or (732) 222‑2219.

Why the Impact of Chronic Pain Is Far More than Physical

why chronic pain is more than just painAccording to research from the Institute of Medicine, 100 million Americans deal with chronic pain. That’s more than heart disease, cancer and diabetes combined. Back pain is the most common form of chronic pain, while headaches, neck pain and joint pain are also prevalent.

First, let’s define chronic pain. Chronic pain is pain that lasts at least six months. It can be continuous or recurring, and it can range from mild discomfort to sharp, excruciating pain.

Second, let’s discuss how chronic pain affects our lives. There’s obviously physical discomfort. In some cases, the pain is debilitating. But physical pain is just the beginning.

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About Dr. James Proodian

Dr. James Proodian is an accomplished chiropractic physician, health educator, and professional public speaker who founded Proodian Healthcare Family of Companies to help people feel better, function better, and live longer. His expertise is in identifying clinical imbalances and restoring the body to health and functionality. Contact: jproodian@naturalhc.com or (732) 222‑2219.

Natural Treatment Options for Arthritis

ArthritisIn the previous post, I discussed the differences between osteoarthritis, which is the gradual degeneration of cartilage and bone at the joints caused by wear and tear, and autoimmune arthritis, which occurs when the body’s immune system attacks normal cells at the lining of joints.

Most people think the default treatment for arthritis is a pain-relieving pill. After all, every case of arthritis involves joint inflammation. A variety of anti-inflammatories can be used to reduce inflammation, and because various forms of arthritis can cause severe pain on a day-to-day basis, pain medication can indeed be part of a treatment plan.

However, medication is not the only treatment option. At Natural Healthcare Center, our goal is to minimize the use of medication and stimulate the body’s natural healing powers, whether we’re treating arthritis or any other condition. Osteoarthritis, like any condition that ends in “itis,” is an inflammatory disorder and should be treated nutritionally with an anti-inflammatory diet.

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About Dr. James Proodian

Dr. James Proodian is an accomplished chiropractic physician, health educator, and professional public speaker who founded Proodian Healthcare Family of Companies to help people feel better, function better, and live longer. His expertise is in identifying clinical imbalances and restoring the body to health and functionality. Contact: jproodian@naturalhc.com or (732) 222‑2219.

Why Not All Forms of Arthritis Are the Same

Arthritis When you hear the word “arthritis,” it’s similar to when you hear the word “cancer.” Most people tend to lump all forms of arthritis or cancer into the same group. Just like there are many forms of cancer, there are many forms of arthritis that fall into one of two general categories – osteoarthritis and autoimmune arthritis.

Osteoarthritis is the wear and tear, the degeneration of cartilage and bone at the joints as we get older. If you live long enough, you’re probably going to develop osteoarthritis. It’s a chronic condition that affects about 27 million Americans, mostly over the age of 65.

Osteoarthritis affects joints anywhere in the body, but most commonly occurs in the knee, hips and spine. A number of lifestyle factors contribute to osteoarthritis, including running and other repetitive joint trauma, the physical demands of a job, accidents, deconditioning and weight gain. An inflammatory diet also increases the likelihood of arthritis. Continue reading

About Dr. James Proodian

Dr. James Proodian is an accomplished chiropractic physician, health educator, and professional public speaker who founded Proodian Healthcare Family of Companies to help people feel better, function better, and live longer. His expertise is in identifying clinical imbalances and restoring the body to health and functionality. Contact: jproodian@naturalhc.com or (732) 222‑2219.

What’s the Difference between a Migraine and a Headache?

Headache or MigraineNine out of 10 Americans get headaches. Some headaches are worse than others. When a headache is really bad, many people assume it’s a migraine. But before you start popping pills, it’s important to try to figure out what kind of headache you have.

A headache involves dull, unpleasant pain or pressure that can occur on both sides of the head or specific areas, like the forehead, temples, or the back of the neck. There are dozens of causes of headaches – far too many to mention in a single blog post. Some of the most common types of headaches include:

  • Tension headaches, caused by stress, anxiety, muscle strains and other factors
  • Cluster headaches, which typically occur on one side of the head and are often accompanied by common cold symptoms like a runny nose, nasal congestion or watery eyes.
  • Sinus headaches, which often come with a sinus infection

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About Dr. James Proodian

Dr. James Proodian is an accomplished chiropractic physician, health educator, and professional public speaker who founded Proodian Healthcare Family of Companies to help people feel better, function better, and live longer. His expertise is in identifying clinical imbalances and restoring the body to health and functionality. Contact: jproodian@naturalhc.com or (732) 222‑2219.

What Is Myalgia, and What Is Causing It?

myalgia pain

We’ve all experienced aches and pains from head to toe over the course of our lives. We may experience back pain after working in the yard, or our entire bodies could ache when we come down with the flu.

In the simplest of terms, myalgia is the medical term for muscle pain. Depending on the cause, myalgia can occur in a small or large area, on one or both sides of the body. The severity of muscle pain can range from mild soreness to sharp, excruciating pain.

There are many different types of myalgia, including polymyalgia, epidemic myalgia and fibromyalgia. Polymyalgia involves pain and stiffness in the neck, shoulder, arms and buttocks on both sides of the body and is usually accompanied by inflammation. Epidemic myalgia, or Bornholm Disease, is a viral form of myalgia that affects the upper abdomen and lower chest and often involves spasms, fever and headaches.

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About Dr. James Proodian

Dr. James Proodian is an accomplished chiropractic physician, health educator, and professional public speaker who founded Proodian Healthcare Family of Companies to help people feel better, function better, and live longer. His expertise is in identifying clinical imbalances and restoring the body to health and functionality. Contact: jproodian@naturalhc.com or (732) 222‑2219.

Understanding the Risk of Prescription Painkillers

prescription drugs, instructions and warnings.

In a previous post, I discussed why the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ordered the makers of over-the-counter and prescription pain relievers to strengthen language on warning labels. Drugs like ibuprofen and naproxen increase the risk of heart attack and stroke by up to 50 percent when taken on a regular basis. Prescription pain relievers create an even higher risk.

Aside from making people aware of the dangers of these medications, I think it’s important to recognize how addiction to pain medication, especially prescription drugs, became an epidemic in our country.

Why is it that 44 people in our country die each day after overdosing on prescription painkillers like Vicodin and OxyContin, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)?

Why are prescription painkillers responsible for more fatal overdoses than cocaine and heroin combined?

Why does the non-medical use of prescription painkillers cost health insurers $72.5 billion each year? Continue reading

About Dr. James Proodian

Dr. James Proodian is an accomplished chiropractic physician, health educator, and professional public speaker who founded Proodian Healthcare Family of Companies to help people feel better, function better, and live longer. His expertise is in identifying clinical imbalances and restoring the body to health and functionality. Contact: jproodian@naturalhc.com or (732) 222‑2219.

FDA Orders Drug Makers to Strengthen Warning Labels

photo of scattered ibuprophen

For many too many Americans, pain killers are part of the daily routine. We pop a pill or two in the morning and another pill or two at night to deal with everything from chronic back pain to arthritis to menstrual cramps. We use these drugs to reduce a fever, even though the body naturally raises its temperature to kill the virus.

Drugs may provide temporary relief from pain, but they could also be killing you, and killing you quickly.

Last month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ordered the makers of non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen and naproxen to update their warning labels to include the following language:

The risk of heart attack or stroke can occur as early as the first weeks of using an NSAID. The risk may increase with longer use of the NSAID. The risk appears greater at higher doses.

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About Dr. James Proodian

Dr. James Proodian is an accomplished chiropractic physician, health educator, and professional public speaker who founded Proodian Healthcare Family of Companies to help people feel better, function better, and live longer. His expertise is in identifying clinical imbalances and restoring the body to health and functionality. Contact: jproodian@naturalhc.com or (732) 222‑2219.

Healthy Mother, Healthy Child, Part 4

healthy pregnancy In Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 of our Healthy Mother, Healthy Child series, I focused on the nutritional component of pregnancy – essential nutrients, the importance of moderation, foods to avoid and the importance of breastfeeding.

Now I want to shift to the physical component. Many pregnant women deal with musculoskeletal pain. Chiropractic care, acupuncture and massage can do wonders to prevent and relieve pain during and after pregnancy.

These are passive modalities that require the mother to do nothing. Mommy is working hard enough. These treatments can prevent and relieve physical pain and keep the body’s systems in balance.

We can get more aggressive with lingering musculoskeletal pain after pregnancy, using x-ray, MRI and more intense physical therapy to diagnose and treat pain. Of course, you want to take it easy with exercise at first. Start with walking and light stretching to elevate the heart rate and improve the production of breast milk. Exercise can quickly turn into stress if you overdo it.

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About Dr. James Proodian

Dr. James Proodian is an accomplished chiropractic physician, health educator, and professional public speaker who founded Proodian Healthcare Family of Companies to help people feel better, function better, and live longer. His expertise is in identifying clinical imbalances and restoring the body to health and functionality. Contact: jproodian@naturalhc.com or (732) 222‑2219.

Understanding the Basics of Knee Pain

Knee painThe knee is the largest joint in the human body, a complex combination of ligaments, tendons and muscles that hold together the femur (upper leg bone) and the tibia and fibula (lower leg bones). It’s also one of the most common sources of pain in the human body.

When you think about the physical burden and stress we place on our knees each day, it’s no surprise that the knee is extremely vulnerable to injury and degeneration.

This vulnerability is increased because the knee is a hinge joint, not like the shoulder or hip, which are ball-and-socket joints. The knee is designed to bend in one direction, while the shoulder and hip can rotate and move in circular motions.

I’m sure everyone over the age of 50 knows someone who has had a knee replacement as a result of an injury or gradual wear and tear. Conditions like arthritis and osteoporosis also increase our chances of experiencing knee pain. Continue reading

About Dr. James Proodian

Dr. James Proodian is an accomplished chiropractic physician, health educator, and professional public speaker who founded Proodian Healthcare Family of Companies to help people feel better, function better, and live longer. His expertise is in identifying clinical imbalances and restoring the body to health and functionality. Contact: jproodian@naturalhc.com or (732) 222‑2219.

Simple Things You Can Do to Avoid Neck Pain

avoiding neck painWe have this 10- to 12-pound bowling ball, called the head, on the top of our bodies. This bowling ball is held up by a weak structure, called the neck, that isn’t designed to handle heavy strain.

It’s no wonder that so many people suffer from neck pain.

Neck pain is most commonly caused by the gradual weakening of the intrinsic muscles in the neck area. Intrinsic muscles are the ones that you don’t see in the mirror but they have a very important purpose – stabilizing the spine.

As I discussed in a previous post, these muscles are often weakened by forward head posture, which happens when the head drifts forward as we stare at computer monitors, look down at our mobile devices or hunch over the steering wheel. Continue reading

About Dr. James Proodian

Dr. James Proodian is an accomplished chiropractic physician, health educator, and professional public speaker who founded Proodian Healthcare Family of Companies to help people feel better, function better, and live longer. His expertise is in identifying clinical imbalances and restoring the body to health and functionality. Contact: jproodian@naturalhc.com or (732) 222‑2219.

Plantar Fasciitis: A Real Pain in the Foot

Plantar Fasciitis: A Real Pain in the FootPlantar fasciitis is a painful condition caused by inflammation of the plantar fascia. The plantar fascia is a thick, flat ligament that connects the heel bone to your toes and supports the arch of your foot. When the plantar fascia is strained, small tears can develop, causing it to become weak, swollen and inflamed.

The end result is a sharp, stabbing pain in the bottom of your foot. That’s plantar fasciitis.

Plantar fasciitis is usually most painful after you’ve been sitting, standing or lying down for long periods of time. For example, those first steps when you get out of bed in the morning are a killer. Climbing stairs can also be painful. Once you’ve loosened up your foot, the pain of plantar fasciitis isn’t as intense in most cases.

Although plantar fasciitis is most common in middle-aged people, younger people who spend a lot of time on their feet doing repetitive movements often develop plantar fasciitis. Athletes, especially runners, and even soldiers who spend a lot of time marching are susceptible.

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About Dr. James Proodian

Dr. James Proodian is an accomplished chiropractic physician, health educator, and professional public speaker who founded Proodian Healthcare Family of Companies to help people feel better, function better, and live longer. His expertise is in identifying clinical imbalances and restoring the body to health and functionality. Contact: jproodian@naturalhc.com or (732) 222‑2219.

What to Look For in a Pain Doctor

How to Select a Doctor to treat your painMy wife and I are having our basement painted. With five kids, the basement is an important place in our home.

Without a second thought, we called the painter who we’ve used for years. He told my wife that he would send an estimate.

She said, “Why? It doesn’t matter. We’re hiring you.”

Isn’t it great when you get to a place where you unconditionally trust someone? We don’t have to worry about our painter taking advantage of us. We have no doubt that he’ll give us a fair price, show up on time and do a wonderful job.

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About Dr. James Proodian

Dr. James Proodian is an accomplished chiropractic physician, health educator, and professional public speaker who founded Proodian Healthcare Family of Companies to help people feel better, function better, and live longer. His expertise is in identifying clinical imbalances and restoring the body to health and functionality. Contact: jproodian@naturalhc.com or (732) 222‑2219.

Arthritis Explained: A Simple Definition and Common Forms

ArthritisAccording to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately one out of five adults American adults have been diagnosed with arthritis. By 2030, this percentage is expected to jump to two out of three adults as our nation’s population ages.

The word arthritis has a very literal definition. It combines the Greek word for joint (arthron) with the Latin word for inflammation (itis). General symptoms of arthritis, or joint inflammation, include redness, swelling, pain, heat and stiffness.

Arthritis isn’t just one disease. More than 100 medical conditions are classified as arthritis.

The most common form of arthritis is osteoarthritis. This is the “wear and tear” arthritis developed by most people over 50 as cartilage breaks down.

Osteoarthritis is usually found in the hands, knees, hips or spine, although it can occur in any joint. Common causes of osteoarthritis include obesity, injury, an inflammatory diet, genetics and repetitive use of a joint over a long period of time, often from a physically strenuous job.

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About Dr. James Proodian

Dr. James Proodian is an accomplished chiropractic physician, health educator, and professional public speaker who founded Proodian Healthcare Family of Companies to help people feel better, function better, and live longer. His expertise is in identifying clinical imbalances and restoring the body to health and functionality. Contact: jproodian@naturalhc.com or (732) 222‑2219.

Why Massage Is So Much More than Pampering

massage at Natural Healthcare Center in Long Branch, NJPeople love to pamper themselves with a day at the spa that includes an hour-long massage. Maybe you’ve been on vacation and had a massage overlooking the beach or on the deck of a cruise ship.

Yes, massage definitely provides a sense of relaxation. But therapeutic massage, the type of massage we offer with every treatment at Natural Healthcare Center, has scientifically proven benefits that go far beyond enjoying a relaxing hour of “me time.”

First, we have to understand what’s happening from a physiological perspective during a therapeutic massage. As the soft tissue in our bodies – the muscles, skin, tendons and ligaments – are rubbed, pressed and manipulated, blood circulation and lymphatic flow are stimulated. The stress relief you experience is caused by a replenishing of oxygen and nutrients in the cells.

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About Dr. James Proodian

Dr. James Proodian is an accomplished chiropractic physician, health educator, and professional public speaker who founded Proodian Healthcare Family of Companies to help people feel better, function better, and live longer. His expertise is in identifying clinical imbalances and restoring the body to health and functionality. Contact: jproodian@naturalhc.com or (732) 222‑2219.

Diet, Chronic Inflammation and Your Health

Add vegetables and fruits What do arthritis, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, psoriasis and asthma all have in common?

These seemingly unrelated disorders, as well as many others, are all linked by inflammation.

Inflammation is the human body’s natural response to injury. Suppose you sprain your ankle and it swells. That’s inflammation at work. With time and treatment, the inflammation around your ankle goes away and it returns to normal.

But what would happen if you had a source of inflammation that just wouldn’t go away?

What if that inflammation occurred throughout your body and not just around your ankle?

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About Dr. James Proodian

Dr. James Proodian is an accomplished chiropractic physician, health educator, and professional public speaker who founded Proodian Healthcare Family of Companies to help people feel better, function better, and live longer. His expertise is in identifying clinical imbalances and restoring the body to health and functionality. Contact: jproodian@naturalhc.com or (732) 222‑2219.

Shoulder Pain: Surgery is the Exception, Not the Rule

When you stop and think about it, the shoulder is an amazing part of the body. It enables us to do everything from throwing a baseball, to washing our hair in the shower, to giving our kids a place to sit during a parade. Our shoulders also play a role in keeping us balanced and steady as we walk, run and sit.

The shoulder is a very movable joint with a wide range of motion that allows you to move your arms frontward, backward, up, down and around in circles. With this mobility and range of motion comes a greater vulnerability to injury, so we need to maintain our shoulders with regular stretching and exercise as well as proper bio-mechanics in daily life.

Performing the stretches illustrated in the photos below on a regular basis will help you maintain flexibility and range of motion in your shoulder. If you have a chronic shoulder condition or recently suffered an injury in the shoulder area, please consult your physician before performing these or any exercises.

shoulder collage

Stretches performed by Dr. Justin of West End Physical therapy

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About Dr. James Proodian

Dr. James Proodian is an accomplished chiropractic physician, health educator, and professional public speaker who founded Proodian Healthcare Family of Companies to help people feel better, function better, and live longer. His expertise is in identifying clinical imbalances and restoring the body to health and functionality. Contact: jproodian@naturalhc.com or (732) 222‑2219.

Fibromyalgia: Attacking the Cause Instead of Masking the Symptoms

If you or someone you know is suffering from fibromyalgia, you know how debilitating this disorder can be. Fibromyalgia is a form of generalized muscular pain and fatigue that affects approximately 3.7 million Americans. Literally translated, the name “fibromyalgia” means pain in the muscles and fibrous connective tissues (ligaments and tendons). Symptoms of fibromyalgia range from chronic muscle pain, to bowel irregularities, to feelings of anxiety and depression.

Fibromyalgia is a very difficult condition to treat. The traditional approach to treatment usually involves prescription medication designed to slow down the firing of overactive nerves. This can indeed help to improve the patient’s quality of life by masking a number of symptoms of fibromyalgia.

However, this approach never truly addresses the reason why a person’s pain nerves fire as the result of simple movements that shouldn’t cause pain.

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About Dr. James Proodian

Dr. James Proodian is an accomplished chiropractic physician, health educator, and professional public speaker who founded Proodian Healthcare Family of Companies to help people feel better, function better, and live longer. His expertise is in identifying clinical imbalances and restoring the body to health and functionality. Contact: jproodian@naturalhc.com or (732) 222‑2219.

4 Ways to Help Prevent Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Hands of a woman with carpal tunnel syndrome at the computer

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome occurs when we spend a lot of time doing things that involve repetitive hand and wrist movements. This can include common work activities like typing and using a mouse, hobbies like knitting, or more strenuous physical labor like using a screwdriver or operating power tools. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can also be caused by an injury, or fluid retention that’s common during pregnancy.

The Carpal Tunnel is a narrow passageway on the palm side of the wrist where ligaments, tendons and nerves pass through. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a combination of pain and tingly sensations that occur when the median nerve, which runs from the hand to the forearm, becomes pressed or squeezed.

Here are four ways to help prevent Carpal Tunnel Syndrome:

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About Dr. James Proodian

Dr. James Proodian is an accomplished chiropractic physician, health educator, and professional public speaker who founded Proodian Healthcare Family of Companies to help people feel better, function better, and live longer. His expertise is in identifying clinical imbalances and restoring the body to health and functionality. Contact: jproodian@naturalhc.com or (732) 222‑2219.

Chiropractic and Acupuncture: A Natural Approach to Treating Headaches

If you’re like most people, when you get a headache, your gut reaction is to find relief in the medicine cabinet. More specifically, you look for relief from a pill, the magic bullet that gets rid of pain.

Part of our job is to introduce you to treatments that you may not have previously considered. Both chiropractic and acupuncture are natural alternatives to treating headaches without the side effects of some over-the-counter or prescription medications.

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About Dr. James Proodian

Dr. James Proodian is an accomplished chiropractic physician, health educator, and professional public speaker who founded Proodian Healthcare Family of Companies to help people feel better, function better, and live longer. His expertise is in identifying clinical imbalances and restoring the body to health and functionality. Contact: jproodian@naturalhc.com or (732) 222‑2219.