#1) Dr. Huffman's Expertise: Many doctors claim to work with chronic cases but Dr. Huffman has the education, the credentials, and is board certified from the American Chiropractic Neurology Board! Dr. Huffman is a Doctor of Chiropractic but he is also a board certified chiropractic neurologist from the ACNB. He is a Diplomate of the American Academy of Anti-Aging Health Practitioners and he has a Fellowship in Integrative Cancer Therapy from the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine. He is also a Certified Functional Medicine Practitioner from Functional Medicine University. While every doctor will of course say that they are dedicated to your well-being, it can be very stressful to visit multiple Twin Cities doctors without finding any true answer to the source of your migraines. That’s why we take the time to do a two-step intake process and we’ll give you the answers you have been looking for to properly identify what is causing your migraines. In fact, you will not find a more qualified doctor than Dr. Joshua Huffman, when it comes to helping patients with migraine headaches.
#2) He thoroughly evaluates the underlying metabolic causes of your condition: Most patients that suffer with migraines are labeled as having idiopathic ("we don't know why you have it") migraines. Some are fortunate to receive a more specific label such as vestibular migraines, cluster headaches, etc. With conventional treatment it does not really matter what the exact diagnosis is because the only thing traditionally offered is pain medication to to try to manage the pain. The bottom line is that if you want a chance to be migraine free you have to figure out what underlying factors are effecting the fuel supply to the brain or creating inflammation in the brain! Dr. Huffman will run advanced, specialized testing to assess for the underlying causes (discussed in further detail below).
Migraine patients don't just have migraines! Examples of other metabolic symptoms that are often present in migraine patients include:
- Chronic Fatigue - Constipation - Irritability between meals
- Depression - Diarrhea - Water retention
- Anxiety - Weight Gain - Infertility
- Bloating - Unexplained Weight Loss - Hormonal Symptoms (irritability, hot flashes, etc.)
#3) Dr. Huffman has a unique neurological approach to helping patients suffering with migraines: Most practitioners that claim to treat migraines aim treatment at the spine. It seem's to make sense, right? The truth is that to address migraine headaches you have to address both the spine and the brain! Why is that? Migraines are a neurological disorder. They are typically driven by imbalances in the way certain areas of the brain are firing. Migraine patients typically have certain areas of the brain that are weak which results in other areas of the brain starting to over-fire. The structure of the spine is important and must be addressed but brain function must be optimized!
Some examples of other neurologic symptoms that are often present in migraine patients include:
- Chronic Fatigue - Light Sensitivity - Vertigo
- Depression - Sound Sensitivity - Heart palpitations/arrythmias
- Anxiety - Increased Sweating - Elevated blood pressure
- Insomnia - Balance Issues - Decreased libido
#4) Our office offers the most advanced technology in alternative medicine! The M6 Robotic Laser is the premier Class 4 Laser on the market. It has four individual class 4 lasers that can be used at one time. Laser therapy helps to reduce inflammation, reduce pain and accelerate tissue healing. We also offer oxygen therapy, eye lights therapy, and neurofeedback. These are only a few examples of the revolutionary treatments we use in our office. For a more extensive list see below.
The testing needed is different for every patient based on your own unique health history, but there are certain areas that must be evaluated. Traditional laboratory testing does not dig deep enough to find the answers you are looking for. They screen for basic metabolic markers and they use a very wide lab range to determine if you are normal or not. When we run testing (as discussed below) we are going to dig deeper and we also realize that there is a grey area on the way to disease, meaning that if the normal lab range says your TSH should be less than 5 and you are at 4.8 we know that you are trending towards a disease state. The more comprehensive tests along with a more critical analysis allows us to identify areas of pathology as well as areas that are failing to function as optimally as they should.
The brain and your nervous system require two things to work properly:
To make sure the fuel supply for your brain is adequate you must ensure that these foundational areas are addressed:
(1) Blood Sugar - If you are diabetic, pre-diabetic, or hypoglycemic (too low of blood sugar) this will be a roadblock to healing your brain.
(2) Anemia - If you have any type of anemia you are robbing your brain and nerves of oxygen!
(3) Vitamin Deficiency/Toxicity - Deficiencies in many vitamins and minerals can drive neurological deficits. At the same time if you are toxic with any of these elements it can also be a problem.
(4) Methylation - Methylation is a chemical process that takes place in your body which allows you to eliminate environmental toxins, reduce inflammation, and get essential nutrients to the brain and the nerves. There are genetic variants that can literally block your nerves and brain from receiving the nutrients that they need to work. It is estimated that 93% of people who suffer from neurological disorders (like migraines) have a genetic defect in MTHFR. This genetic variant can literally be starving your brain!
(5) Auto-Antibodies - In my office I consider migraine patients to be auto-immune until proven otherwise. Auto-immune diseases are diseases of the immune system where your immune system is attacking your own body! The brain is actually a common target in auto-immune disease. The important thing to understand is that if you are auto-immune the same attack going on against your brain can spread to your thyroid, your pancreas, your digestive system, etc. A common target in auto-immunity is the cerebellum. The cerebellum is the balance portion of your brain. If your cerebellum is being damaged not only can in trigger migraines but it also can manifest as balance disorders, tremors, and movement disorders.
If you are auto-immune the immune system must be stabilized in order for your migraines to be stabilized!
Many practitioners over simplify the idea of auto-immunity. They talk about the immune system like it is a see-saw between what is called the TH1 (natural killer cells) and the TH2 (the B-cells) systems but the truth of it is that the immune system is extremely complex. To work to balance the immune system the TH1, TH2, TH3, TH17, the GALT, and many other chemical interactions need to be evaluated and addressed.
In the case of auto-immunity it become extremely important to thoroughly evaluate gut and immune health. Many more of those tests are discussed in the section below.
Other lab testing that may need to be assessed include:
(a) Food Intolerance Testing - If your body has an abnormal response to a food you are eating on a daily basis you can be poisoning yourself without even knowing it. Food reactivities are not severe enough that patients can accurately identify if they are present. But when you continually expose yourself to a food that your immune system is reactive to it can trigger rampant inflammation and lead to brain and nerve degeneration. This type of test is not an allergy test like what your medical doctor may have tested. This type of test can be performed through the saliva, the stool, or the blood but you must be evaluated for your IgA and IgG reactions. IgA and IgG food reactivities are delayed responses which can make it very difficult to determine what you are reacting to. This is why thorough testing in this arena is so important. Common symptoms of food reactivities can be:
- Fatigue after meals - Bloating after meals - Heart burn
- Headaches - Rashes - Inability to lose weight
- Constipation - Eczema/Acne - Increased post nasal drip
- Diarrhea - Mouth ulcers or sores - Chronic pain
(b) Infections - Infections can target the nervous system causing direct damage. They can also mimic the nervous system causing your body to attack the nervous system as if it were an infection. This is an example of how auto-immunity can be developed. Parasites, bacteria, viruses, fungi, and yeast are all examples of infections that can wreak havoc on the body. Most patients I talk to feel like they would know if they had an infection. This is not true. Many times there are low grade infections that don't make a person acutely ill but do lead to a chronic inflammatory state which gradually weakens the body. Another example of an infection that can directly impact nerve health is lyme disease. I will discuss Lyme disease below as there are many components to evaluating for lyme disease. We test for infections with serum testing, stool testing, and/or salivary testing.
(c) Lyme Testing - Lyme disease is caused by a bacterial infection with borrellia burgdorferi. This particular bacterial infection can stimulate your immune system to attack the brain and the nervous system. Minnesota is a lyme endemic state and as such with chronic migraine patients, Lyme must be evaluated. Traditional lab testing for Lyme disease includes an ELISA test for b. burgdorferi and if that comes back positive a western blot test is performed to confirm the diagnosis. This standard of testing can miss up to 70% of patients with Lyme disease. When testing for lyme it is necessary to run comprehensive immune markers. In my office we test patients for:
(1) B. Burgdorferi
(2) B. Garinii
(3) B. Afzelii
Running more comprehensive testing for lyme is essential in identifying if this disease process may be playing a role in the progression of migraines. If you have ever had a tick embedded in your skin or have had a bulls eye rash it is imperative that this be further evaluated!
(d) Adrenal Stress Profiles - The adrenal glands are your stress glands! Is your body under stress? This test measures the amount of cortisol being produced by your adrenals at 4 different times throughout the day. This is an important test because cortisol can be ruining your health in many ways.
Altered levels of cortisol may cause:
(1) Weight gain - Elevations in cortisol cause your body to store fat and decrease your ability to burn fat.
(2) Fatigue - Any time your cortisol rhythm dips during the day you will experience energy crashes.
(3) Insomnia - Altered cortisol rhythms causing too high or too low of levels at night lead to interrupted sleep.
(4) Brain Fog/Declining Memory- Cortisol is particularly toxic to an area of the brain called the hippocampus. The hippocampus plays a significant role in memory. Chronic elevations of cortisol are shown to damage this area of the brain and may even lead to conditions like alzheimers!
(5) Food Sensitivities - Elevations in cortisol causes elevations in antibody levels in your gut, which in turn leads to your immune system becoming abnormally reactive to foods.
(6) Hormonal Imbalances - The adrenals play a significant role in the regulation of testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone. When the adrenals are not healthy it can create imbalances in these hormones which can lead to infertility, anxiety, panic attacks, depression, irritability, water retention and weight gain.
(e) Immune Reactivity to Heavy Metals - Many practitioners refer to the need to eliminate heavy metals. There are many technologies to evaluate heavy metal exposure. The truth of the matter is that we live in an extremely toxic world. Everyone has heavy metals in the body. That is not the question. The question that must be asked is, 'how is your body's immune system reacting to the different heavy metals?' Heavy metals can certainly trigger an immune response that can create nerve and brain inflammation and by testing your individual response to each heavy metal we can see what specific metals may be contributing to your migraines.
(f) Immune Reactivity to Environmental toxins - From pesticides, to plastics, to cleaning supplies, we are exposed to toxins on a daily basis. An individuals exposure to the these toxins is not the primary concern. If your immune system becomes hypersensitive to these environmental toxins it can wreak havoc on your body. We can run a comprehensive blood test to assess your individual response to these different toxins and to develop a specialized remediation plan for you.
How is our Neurological Approach Different?
Dr. Huffman will take a 3 pronged approach to rehabilitating the neurological imbalances that may be driving your migraines. The 3 areas that play a role in migraines that must be addressed are:
(1) The Nerves
(2) The Spinal Column
(3) The Brain
Once Dr. Huffman has determined the specific neurological systems that need to be addressed he will employ state of the art rehab for those areas.
Therapies for the Nerves:
(1) Class 4 Laser Therapy: We use the M6 Robotic laser for accelerating tissue repair and inflammation reduction. This laser incorporates the use of 4 class 4 laser heads to help accelerate tissue healing. This laser is also phenomenal for reducing pain and inflammation.
(2) Horizontal Stimulation: This is a unique, one of a kind form of nerve stimulation. It is FDA approved and is the only form of nerve stimulation that fires a nerve both chemically and electrically at the same time. This makes a huge difference in reestablishing proper nerve activity and reducing pain levels due to misfiring or damaged nerves.
(3) InfraRed Therapy: These boots use healing infrared light to help increase blood flow to the extremities. The increase in blood flow allows oxygen and nutrients to be delivered to the damaged nerve tissue.
(4) Cold Laser Therapy: This is class 3 laser therapy. We use class 3 laser to support the reduction of inflammation in the neck and upper back. It can also be used to activate misfiring patterns in neurological function.
Therapies for the Spinal Cord:
(1) Chiropractic Adjustments: We use gentle adjustments to create feedback to the brain. We typically use unilateral adjustments to help stimulate and balance the brain. Adjustments also may help to restore proper alignment to the spinal column and can help to prevent arthritic change in the spine.
(2) Non-Surgical Spinal Decompression: Disc herniations, spinal stenosis, and degenerative changes in the spine can contribute to nerve irritation and inflammation. They can also create extreme levels of pain in the back, neck, and head. Spinal decompression uses a sophisticated computer system to gradually stretch open the disc spaces in the low back and neck. This advanced technology allows us to bypass spastic muscles and open up the disc spaces in the vertebrae reducing inflammation, muscle spasticity, pain, and nerve irritation.
(3) Ultrasound: This therapy is used to increase blood flow to areas of injury. Increasing blood flow to injured areas in the spine and extremity allows for accelerated healing in the joints and tissues.
(4) Intersegmental Traction: This table helps to improve mobility of the spinal joints. Increased spinal flexibility helps to reduce pain, inflammation and nerve irritation.
(5) ATM2-Active Therapeutic Rehabilitation: This specialized unit allows for us to stabilize dysfunctional joints and perform rehab on those joints pain free. If you have pain every time you bend forward, we can stabilize the painful joint so that you can bend forward without pain. Once we have you stabilized so that you can bend without pain we can exercise that joint. This allows for us to move that joint without creating pain signals. This treatment can take someone who can't bend forward without pain and get them pain free in one treatment.
Therapies for the Brain:
(1) Whole Body Vibration: We use the Theravibe whole body vibration plate in our office. This is a true vertical vibration plate that you stand on. It sends vertical vibrations throughout the body helping to increase blood flow and lymphatic flow throughout the body. It results in thousands of reflexive muscle reactions per minute leading to increased muscle strength, tone, and balance. With the vertical movement it fires the vestibular system which activates the cerebellum of the brain.
(2) Balance Training: Balance is regulated via 3 systems. The primary centers for balance are the eyes, the vestibular system (inner ear, cerebellum) and the peripheral nerves. The rehabilitation for balance trains the cerebellum of the brain which is a vitally important area for certain migraine patients.
(3) Oxygen Therapy: The brain is the most oxygen dependent organ in the body. Supporting the brain with oxygen while rehabbing it allows the brain to respond better and faster to the stimulation we are giving it. Below are some quotes from studies on the benefits of supporting oxygen flow for the brain and the body:
- "Extra oxygen enables you to recover more quickly from exertion. It allows someone to train and then exercise again." – Dr. John Brewer, head of sports science at Lilleshall Human Performance Centre: Health and Fitness 1999.
- "Oxygen can clear your head, help eliminate toxins, and give you a mind high" – Andy Davison exercise physiologist Cosmopolitan 2000.
- "If you use oxygen for 20 minutes, muscles become loosened; headaches and stress seem to disappear. There is a renewed energy and a feeling of relaxation. I am confident oxygen works." – Dr. Richard de Andrea Sunday Herald.
- "Increases alertness, improves the body’s ability to burn fat and enhances physical performance." – Howard Robbins D.P.M, for The Journal.
- "Dr. Parris Kidd stated that 'oxygen plays a pivotal role in the proper functioning of the immune system; i.e. Resistance to disease, bacteria and viruses.' Dr. Stephen Levine stated that 'we can look at oxygen deficiency as the single greatest cause of disease.' thus the development of a shortage of oxygen in the blood could very well be the starting point for the loss of the immune system and the beginning of feared health problems such as Cancer, Leukemia, AIDS, Candida, seizures, and nerve deterioration." B. Goulet - The Magic of Aerobic Oxygen - Focus on Nutrition.
- "In all serious disease states we find a concomitant low oxygen state...low oxygen in the body tissues is a sure indicator for disease... Hypoxia, or lack of oxygen in the tissues, is the fundamental cause for all degenerative disease." Dr. Stephen Levine, renowned molecular biologist author, Oxygen Deficiency: A concomitant to all degenerative illness.
(4) Exercise with Oxygen Therapy: Exercise drives blood flow and increased circulation. Exercising while breathing enriched air helps push even higher levels of oxygen to the brain.
(5) Interactive Metronome: This is a computer monitored brain rehabilitation tool. The frontal lobes of the brain control movement of the body as well as helping to regulate memory, focus, and emotions. The frontal lobes of the brain are also used for timing, impulse control, and movement. The interactive metronome exercises the frontal lobe by incorporating all three of these activities into one exercise. It is a dynamic therapy that can be helpful for balance, emotional health, memory, overall brain health, and motor coordination.
(6) Neurofeedback: This is a non-invasive process where brain waves are monitored in real time by a computer, which can then use that information to produce changes in brainwave activity. The process of adjusting brainwave activity is known as operant conditioning, which is a method where rewards for positive behavior influence changes in the way the brain fires.
The combination of giving the brain the fuel and the activation that it requires gives you the best chance at recovering from your migraine nightmare!
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