News and Case Studies from Denver Pain and Performance Solutions!

Migraine Treatment from a Cranial and Chiropractic Approach

Migraines, which come in many forms and are sometimes referred to as a “migraine headache,” vary in intensity and are often accompanied by nausea and sensitivity to light. Vision can also be affected where some people experience tunnel vision, or even blind spots. The Mayo Clinic states this condition affects millions of Americans every year.

Many of these migraines are debilitating, removing people from activity and the lives they wish to lead. Sometimes, they are suffering from so much pain that medical drugs can’t even reduce the anguish. This can be taxing on many levels of the human body and psyche, affecting many aspects of life from work to family.

As there are many forms of migraines, there are also many forms of treatment. Traditional medical intervention and drugs sometimes work, and sometimes are necessary to help relieve serious migraines. However, these often just leaves migraine sufferers addressing symptoms, but never getting to the heart of the issue.

From a cranial perspective, we often find that old traumas to the head are a big player in the migraines. An example of this was a recent client who is Army veteran and had been strangled in combat. On a weekly basis he would have to utilize pain killers for flares of a migraine right behind his eye. We found a bone that could not move freely in his hard palate, helped him release this, and then added integration in the form of movement for his entire body. He has not had a single migraine since then!

Migraines around or behind the eye are often associated with the sphenoid bone, and the stress it applies to the vision-oriented cranial nerves. However, the stress portion of life and emotions cannot be understated, and the therapists at Denver Pain & Performance Solutions will be able to help localize and identify these triggers. We have many tools to offer, but for helping release these emotional triggers we use a combination of P-DTR® and Cellular Release Therapy®. Cranial work, massage, breath work, and relaxation can all be powerful additions, but getting to the root of the stress, trauma, and emotional responses is especially powerful using CRT®.

– written by Jordan Shane Terry

Migraines are also often related to trigger points in the musculature of the neck. Several muscles that attach to and move the head and neck can have trigger points that refer pain into the head. A trigger point is a tight area of muscle that has begun to create a pain signal larger than itself, and in more areas than just itself. I like to think of this as your body’s way of speaking louder to ask you to change a movement, or do something to change the pain. Repetitive motions, sustained positioning, and reduced motion in the joints of the neck can all contribute to trigger points.

Trigger point release, or Neuromuscular Therapy, are massage techniques that could help reduce symptoms caused by trigger points. Chiropractic assessment could reveal joints that have reduced range of motion and are causing muscle to stay contracted within the neck and upper back. The movement specialists at DPPS can assess your range of motion and daily activities to help create modifications that could reduce your migraine symptoms.

It could be discovered that the activities of your day are not causing migraine as much as the food you may be eating. According to the Mayo Clinic foods that can cause migraine triggers include: aged cheeses, salty food, processed foods with additives such as aspartame (sweetener) or monosodium glutamate-MSG (preservative and flavor enhancer), red wine, and highly caffeinated beverages. Removing these foods from your diet could also help alleviate migraine headaches. As the chiropractor at DPPS, I have had years of experience assisting with relieving the muscular, spinal, and nutritional causes of migraines.

– written by Dr. Victoria Welch

An Integrated Approach to Treating Concussions

“We have all been hit in the head,” said Jamie Francis to me, when hearing me talk about my Integrated Cranials course ages ago. It was simple, sweet, and extremely eye opening. At some point in time, unless we go around wearing a helmet, all of us have taken a good knock to the cranium.

In classes and in clinic, I always ask if anyone has had a concussion. “Not that I remember,” tends to be the most common response that I receive. Of course, in our formative years, we may not even remember hitting our head, and in sports, for instance, we may have had our head hit so many times that we don’t even consider these hits as “big events” worth investigating.

Either way, the human cranium is home to the most important piece of processing tissue that we have: our brain! The cranium is even referred to as the “Cranial Vault,” as it protects our brain, and it is living breathing tissue that deserves to be honored, worked with, and treated for optimal human health, movement and happiness.

I recently had the honor to co-treat with Noah Drucker, and we worked with a young parkour instructor. He had been having hard times paying attention in school and focusing in general, as well as some lingering headaches after a compressive concussion. With a quick assessment of the cranial nerves that control the eyes, we were able to determine that his nerves were not firing properly. In this case, when we shined a light in his eye, it did not constrict. The pupils are supposed to constrict to protect the retina from too much stimulus from light, and this normal response to light is called miosis.  If the pupils do not respond normally to light and absence of light, headaches and other symptoms can occur. With the brilliant assessment and treatment tool of Proprioceptive-Deep Tendon Reflex (P-DTR), we were able to correct this issue in moments. The results were mind blowing, and both Noah and I wished we had video recorded the experience.

I then palpated the skull, and listening to his stories and seeing a video of the trauma, was able to find a dysfunction of the sphenobasilar junction (SBJ). I find that with almost any head trauma, this junction, sometimes referred to as a symphysis, becomes dysfunctional. As this is the pump for the cerebrospinal fluid that washes and nourishes our brain, and the fulcrum about which our cranium gently folds with inhalation and exhalation, it is extremely important in our recovery, breathing, and healing.  After treating this dysfunction, we had moved onto the rest of his body looking at older patterns. At the end of the session, his vision was better, headache gone, brain fogginess resolved, and his mind absolutely blown by the work.

In another case, a trainer had come in with a variety of aches and pains, and Noah and I found out that he had several concussions during his youth. Even non-painful dysfunctions live in our system and can cause all sorts of havoc throughout the entire body over time.

Craniosacral therapy teaches that the cranium mirrors the pelvis; in other words, dysfunction in the head will be connected to dysfunctions in the pelvis.  I was able to assess his frontal bone concussion sites in relationship to the rest of his body. I quickly determined that his concussions were resulting in lower abdominal weakness. As I demonstrated and explained this to him, a conspicuous light bulb went off over his head.

Years after his concussions, he had had two separate inguinal hernias on both sides of his abdomen.  Despite being an incredibly fit trainer, the effects of his concussions lived in his body and created a weakness in his lower abdomen manifesting fertile ground for the hernias.

We worked the frontal bone, the scar, and the remaining neurological effects, and upon standing, his pelvis was living in a new balanced location, and he perceived the change in his own abdominal movements and contractions. I then added in education on what he could do on his own for self care to help maintain this newly found connection to both his frontal bone and abdomen.

Whether new or old, acute or chronic, head injuries can be assessed and greatly improved at DPPS. And whether there is pain presenting now or the pain was in the past, the current function of the whole body can be improved, and the detective work we do can help connect the dots between all areas of injury and pain.

– authored by Jordan Shane Terry

TMJ Dysfunction

The collective symptom pattern often referred to as “TMJ,” (also known or seen as TMJD, TMD, or TMJ syndrome) is a very common and widely diagnosed issue affecting three million Americans a year according to the Mayo Clinic. Presumably, there are many more undiagnosed cases as well. TMJ stands for “Temporal Mandibular Joint,” and is simply the name of the joint itself, not they symptom pattern. If you have pain in your TMJ (we all have two TMJ’s), then it is most accurate to say you have “TMJ syndrome.”

The TMJ is a modified hinge joint (“Ginglymoarthrodical” to be technical) that attaches the jaw bone to the cranium and, more specifically, the temporal bone. It is the first joint that we as humans really learn to control and utilize. We were able to suckle, cry, gurgle and so on before most other joints of the body were fully operational. As such, it is a primal area of the body that can house many old patterns and emotions.

Structurally, if the joint tightens and moves less or inappropriately, the effects can be seen reaching throughout the entire body. Closest in proximity is the neck, and clients often suffer from neck pain that is a down stream effect from the TMJ not functioning properly. There are direct correlations and connections from the TMJ to the neck extensor and flexor muscles, as well as a cranial-dental theory that the mandible can literally knock the upper cervical vertebra out of place

Because the cranium and pelvis mirror each other in gait and balance, the TMJ can be seen affecting the hips and pelvis, altering movement patterns and affecting entire lines of fascia like the “spiral” and “lateral lines” as coined by Thomas Myers.

There are also structural issues elsewhere, for example the the feet, knees, hips, and shoulders, that can affect TMJ function and anyone’s comfort. The temporalis muscle, a large flat muscle partly responsible for TMJ movement, is top of the movement chain as we sit and stand in gravity. Therefore, this muscle, and thus the joint itself, may suffer when attempting to re-balance the body to keep the eyes and ears level for equilibrium.

It has been estimated that the strongest muscle in the human body, per weight or square inch, is the masseter muscle, a thick little muscle attached to the mandible. The masseter is a huge contributor to TMJ movement and closing of the mouth. It is this strength and connection to the deep front line of fascia (deep core) that enables us to help strengthen other parts of our bodies by simply clenching the jaw. If we are continually using this pattern over and over again, creating a habit, it is more than likely that we will manifest some sort of dysfunction in the jaw. Pain is often the main complaint, and pain is a sign that something needs to change.

Emotionally speaking, the TMJ is an epicenter for stress. It is surmised that the psoas is the first muscle to contract and tighten in a fight or flight response. This pelvic and low back muscle has direct fascial connections to the TMJ. It is highly likely that both the psoas and jaw share responsibility in emotional-tension lockdowns, but it is often the jaw that clamps down over and over with stress and upper chest breathing, altering full body locomotion and mechanics. Denver Pain & Performance Solutions uses several techniques (most notably Cellular Release Therapy®) for helping clients resolve emotional issues, thereby helping clients get to the heart of these stressors which in turn allows them to relax their jaws.

Chronic issues with the TMJ can even impact the cranial bones, their positioning, and therefore facial symmetry. The temporalis muscle can literally pull the parietal bone down into a suture (cranial joint), causing jamming and other far reaching effects in the nervous system. Fortunately, the good news is that these issues can be resolved with specific types of work, and all of it is offered at DPPS!

Through gentle Cranial work, we can work with the bones of the cranium to open and create new space where there was none before, as well as release adhesions. This is a “hardware” approach: making changes to actual structures such as muscle, bone and tissue so that new blood flow, oxygen, innervation, relaxation, and general healing may have a place to occur.

There is also a “software” approach to looking at how the brain and body communicate together. This is done utilizing the advanced functional neurology tool of Proprioceptive-Deep Tendon Reflex® (P-DTR®) to help rewire the communication lines to and from the TMJ, allowing the brain and body to be on the same page. This neurological tool gently works with nerves and specific stimuli so that the client is not tortured with deep manual work into muscles of the mouth or cranium.

Lastly, movement integration, education and self care can be critical to helping those TMJ sufferers live a happy and full life pain free. This type of work is regularly folded into our work with clients at DPPS.

If you have any questions about TMJ syndrome, your own specific symptoms, or whether you’re a candidate for our work, please contact us.

Fibromyalgia- A medical puzzle easily solved with P-DTR®

At Denver Pain and Performance Solutions, we often treat clients who come in with a diagnosis of fibromyalgia.  Doctors will diagnose a person with fibromyalgia if they exhibit the following symptoms:

• Widespread pain. The pain associated with fibromyalgia often is described as a constant dull ache that has lasted for at least three months. To be considered widespread, the pain must occur on both sides of your body and above and below your waist.

• Fatigue. People with fibromyalgia often awaken tired, even though they report sleeping for long periods of time. Sleep is often disrupted by pain, and many patients with fibromyalgia have other sleep disorders, such as restless legs syndrome and sleep apnea.

• Cognitive difficulties. A symptom commonly referred to as “fibro fog” impairs the ability to focus, pay attention and concentrate on mental and physical tasks.  P-DTR® practitioners also refer to this foggy-headed symptom “brain fog.”

• Other problems. Many people who have fibromyalgia also may experience depression, headaches, digestive difficulties, and pain or cramping in the lower abdomen.

Women tend to present more often than men with this diagnosis, and its etiology is unknown, although some researchers have found that infections, poor diet or gastrointestinal issues, and physical and emotional trauma resulting in PTSD are associated with this cluster of symptoms.

Researchers also believe excessive stimulation of neurological receptors causes the brains of people with fibromyalgia to change, increasing levels of certain chemicals in the brain that signal pain (neurotransmitters). In addition, the brain’s pain receptors seem to develop a sort of memory of the pain and become more sensitive, meaning they can overreact to pain signals.

Proprioceptive Deep Tendon Reflex® is one of the manual therapy techniques that practitioners at DPPS use to help people who have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia.  The symptoms of fibromyalgia are treated by finding and treating all of the nerve endings, or receptors, that are sending this aberrant information to the brain, resulting in painful sensations in the body.  We also evaluate any possible dietary problems, sleep issues, or emotional trauma that may be contributing to the symptoms, and work with the client to resolve all of these as well.

Fibromyalgia does not have be a diagnosis that prevents you from participating in the activities that you love.  It is exceptionally rare that we cannot find a neurological explanation for otherwise confounding and persistent symptoms. If this pertains to you, please contact us immediately for a free consultation.




What is Yoga?

Yoga has been around for thousands of years; the word “yoga” has been found in ancient scripts dated as far back as 1500 B.C. More recently, over the past two decades, yoga has been extensively researched and shown to provide dozens of wellness benefits including increased flexibility and balance; improved relaxation and mental health, and an enhanced circulatory, respiratory and musculoskeletal system.

What is it about this timeless practice that has everyone so curious? How does yoga work?

When yoga exploded into mainstream North America, much of the focus was on the just the class. But the time you spend on your mat is just a small part of the yogi lifestyle. Since the birth of yoga, dozens of different yoga styles have emerged. Although there are many varieties of classes, yoga is all connected by a single intention: to journey back inwards to your Self. This life-long venture is explored by practicing a multi-pronged approach, commonly through the “8 limbs of yoga”.

8 Limbs of Yoga


Elements of the “8 limbs of yoga” are found in most local yoga classes. A typical class or practice, will have a basic framework of dhyana (meditation), pranayama (breath work) and asana (postures). The order and variation of these are dependent on the style of yoga and the teacher.

At DPPS, we have two forms of yoga: Hatha & Vinyasa (click here for full class descriptions). Every class is unique, designed to fit the needs of the individuals attending, but ultimately has the same destination. The journey is always within. I like to explain this deep-rooted personal voyage by using the flower of life as an example.

Have you ever sat down and tried to draw the flower of life? If you haven’t, I invite you to give it a go. Start with one circle with a dot in the middle. This dot in the middle represents you, now in present time. All your current knowings, your beliefs, your job, your relationships. As you begin to walk the yogi path, you begin to grow in all realms. The dot swells to take up more space, working your way to eventually create a large circle. As you explore all that you can within this space, pushing boundaries, uncovered truths and learning lessons you eventually create a magnificent symmetrical circle. This proportional circle is created by the equal practice of all 8 limbs. Each limb contributing to outward expansion and forging a harmonious balance within the Self.

yoga geometry

As this flowering Self reaches the outline of the circle, you will begin to press up against your borders. The outline or border represents your edges. Finding your edges is an incredible place to be. This is your launching pad for an evolution of the Self. Your inquisitiveness to stretch through these edges and find new edges sparks expansion, deeper understanding and more profound knowings. From this spark blooms another dot, beginning at your previous edge. This dot over time will again progress into another symmetrical circle, continuing to interact with all of your present wisdom. More unfolding and edges to explore as life unravels until you reach a beautiful deeper understanding of your Self. All your life experiences are all interconnected by your starting point, and your knowledge of the Self can grow beyond all limits. There are no barriers in the flower of life, your life; there are just new opportunities to open and create space for yourself.

Yoga is the path to seeking out all your edges, being gentle and kind to yourself by allowing space and time, free of judgement, to journey within the depths of the Self. Just like the opening of a beautiful sacred flower.

yoga planets


Once there is a deeper knowledge of what yoga is and can be for you the yoga mat becomes a spiritual space. This is the place to come home to yourself, to set your soul on fire. This exploration will be different for each person, as no two flowers are alike.

To honor and respect this, my yoga classes are a place to settle into yourself. A place where asymmetries are welcomed, not judged. A place where creativity soars and falling out of a pose is encouraged (best way to explore edges!). A space where you can be yourself, to smile, frown or wear your heart on your sleeve.

With yoga you will discover that there is expansive luminous space within you, many edges to trace out. Cracks that need mending, corners that need opening. My yoga classes are a safe place where fear is deconstructed and love and light are honored. A place to let the world melt around you, dissolve what doesn’t serve you and embrace the new path in front of you.

With this comfortable ground to stand on, the foundation of all yoga practice can be built. The sacred foundation of your breath. Your breath is your life source, your vitality. It is the single most important daily gift that you can give yourself. Conscious breathing is so significant that my voice is there to guide you secondary to your own rhythmic breath. Your breath will ground you, it will shine, cascading and swirling within you, draw you back into your body, illuminating your soul.

And from this breath comes movement. Movement into the Self as your steady breath steers your sail, guiding you to spaces to uncover. My classes have a variety of postures to explore the tangled or knotted edges within you.

So what is yoga? Yoga is many things, in many forms and it will guide you back to you, if you choose to walk the path. Welcome home.

“The power is in you. The answer is in you. And you are the answer to all your searches: you are the goal. You are the answer. It’s never outside.” – Eckart Tolle