Twin Cities Pain Clinic at Becker’s ASC 26th Annual Meeting

Our Practice Administrator, Sheila Thompson, proudly represented Twin Cities Pain Clinic at the Becker’s ASC 26th Annual Meeting in Chicago from October 24-26.

Becker’s Healthcare publishes resource materials for leaders in several medical fields. Among them is Becker’s ASC Review, which provides business and legal guidance for outpatient surgery facilities.

At the meeting, Sheila met with other industry professionals to discuss best practices for managing Ambulatory Surgery Centers. As part of our commitment to provide patients with better care and better outcomes, our organization actively participates in these conversations to ensure our own surgery center remains on the cutting edge of industry ideas and innovation.

In between meetings, Sheila posed for photos with boxing legend and entrepreneur Sugar Ray Leonard, and Kevin O’Leary from the TV show Shark Tank.

Sheila & Kevin O'Leary-Becker's ASC Annual Meeting 2019 Sheila & Sugar Ray Leonard-ASC Annual Meeting 2019

The Migraine Headache Guide

FACT: Migraines headaches are painful, irritating, inconvenient and really just no fun at all.

Aside from that, how much do you really know about migraines? What are they? Where do they come from? Why do we get them? How does one make them go away? Get ready to have all your questions answered, thanks to our comprehensive guide to migraines!

Abstract cloud of migraine related imagesWhat Is a Migraine?

Let’s get this one out of the way first. A migraine is a headache with throbbing pain that is usually worse on one side of the head. The pain is often severe enough to hamper daily activities and may last from four hours to three days if untreated. More than one in 10 Americans (including one in six women) have migraines, but many have been misdiagnosed as a sinus or tension headache.

Migraine Symptoms

Throbbing pain typically occurs on one side of the head near the temples, forehead and eyes. Many people also experience nausea, vomiting and vision problems. Symptoms can grow more severe with even mild exertion, such as climbing the stairs. Migraines can also make you very sensitive to light and sound. The pain can be disabling; so much so that many people are forced to miss work or other daily activities.

Migraine with Aura

Approximately 20% of people who suffer from migraines will experience what is called an “aura”. These “auras” occur between 20-60 minutes before the onset of a headache. Patients report seeing flashing lights, wavy lines, dots and they may have blurry vision or blind spots. These are called “classic migraines.”

Migraine Warning Signs

Before a migraine begins, some people may experience a change in mood. Migraine sufferers can become more excitable, irritable or depressed. Some people detect unusual sensations, such as a funny smell or taste. They may feel more fatigued, yawn frequently, or experience muscle tension. These warning signs are known as the “prodromal phase.” Approximately one in four people experience these warning signs, which can occur as early as 24 hours before the headache begins.

What Causes a Migraine?

The exact cause of migraines is still not well understood, but the problem is thought to be neurological (related to the nervous system). It is believed that brain chemicals, blood vessels and nerves within the brain are involved.

Common migraine triggers
X-ray image of man with headache
Flashing Lights

Flashing or flickering lights are a common migraine trigger. This could be a reflection from snow or water, or from fluorescent bulbs, television or movie screens. Wearing polarizing sunglasses outside and using daylight spectrum fluorescent bulbs inside may help.

Anxiety and Stress

While it’s impossible to completely avoid stress, relaxation exercises can help patents cope. Inhale and exhale slowly, letting the air fill your lungs and then deflate like a balloon. Some people find that thinking of a peaceful scene or listening to calming music can help.

Lack of Food or Sleep

It’s important for people prone to migraines to have a regular pattern of meals and sleep. Low blood sugar from skipping meals can trigger a migraine. Eating too much sugar also can cause a spike, then a “crash” in blood sugar. Drink water throughout the day to avoid dehydration and sleep at least six to eight hours a night.

Hormonal Changes

For many women, migraines are tied to their menstrual cycle, occurring either a few days before or during their period, when estrogen levels drop. Some women may benefit from anti-inflammatory medication before their headaches begin, or hormonal birth control such as pills, patches, or rings.

Headache Foods

Migraine sufferers often report that certain foods trigger their headaches. Common culprits include MSG, red wine, cheese, chocolate, soy sauce, and processed meats. Make a point to avoid these foods and drinks if you suffer from migraines.


Aged, fermented and stored foods have higher levels of tyramine, a substance created from the breakdown of the amino acid tyrosine. Tyramine may cause blood vessels to constrict then expand, and it may be a trigger for some migraines. Some headache experts advise limiting fermented or aged foods, such as cheese, soy sauce, pickles and pepperoni.

Tracking Personal Triggers

The best way for people to find out what triggers their own migraines is to keep a headache diary. When a migraine occurs, patients are encouraged to make a note about the warning signs (the “prodromal phase”), triggers and severity. If people can discover their own personal triggers, they may be able to avoid future headaches.

Who Gets Migraines?

Cartoon image of woman having migraine headache

Experts believe gene mutations that affect certain areas of the brain may be the source of migraines. If you have a close relative with migraines, you are more likely to be at risk.

Migraines are also more common among those with epilepsy, depression, asthma, anxiety, stroke and some other neurological and hereditary disorders.

Women are three times more likely to have migraines than men.

Migraines most often strike between the ages of 20 and 60. While the elderly still get migraines, they often decrease in severity and frequency with age, and sometimes they disappear entirely.

At Home Treatment Tips

Calm Yourself

Get to a dark, quiet room and try your best to relax for a while. Getting good sleep can help prevent migraines, so allow yourself to nod off if you can.

Change the Temperature

Apply an ice pack or heat pad to your head and neck. Cold may numb the pain while heat will relax tensed muscles.

Eat Right

Consistent, healthy eating habits can hold back migraines, so eat regularly and be sure to avoid foods that have triggered your headaches in the past.

Drink Caffeine

No, seriously! When combined with some pain medications, caffeine can help provide relief. But keep it just one or two cups a day. Too much caffeine can actually cause headaches when the stimulant effect wears off.

Exercise Regularly
Woman doing yoga on a cliff overlooking the ocean

Staying active and maintaining a healthy weight can help with your migraine troubles. Light exercises like jogging or yoga are recommended, as they keep you active while not being overly strenuous, which can in fact trigger a headache.

Keep Your Stress Under Control

Keep it simple, don’t fill your schedule, have a positive attitude and find time each day to unplug and clear your mind. Less stress can go a long way in keeping your migraines at bay.

Migraines are a bummer for sure, but there are ways to get relief. Educating yourself and adjusting certain parts of your lifestyle can make a huge difference! Along with at home remedies, talk to a doctor about possible options for long-term headache relief.

IMPORTANT: Any new headache or one that is unusually severe or lasts more than a couple of days should be checked by a doctor. If you have a headache accompanied by paralysis, confusion, fever or stiff neck you should seek emergency care.

Twin Cities Pain Clinic Are Your Migraine Experts.

If you or a friend or family member is suffering from migraine headaches, schedule an appointment at Twin Cities Pain Clinic. Our practitioners are specially trained to diagnose migraines and provide effective treatment options.

Schedule an Appointment>>

Call: 952-841-2345

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Tips for Pain-Free Raking this Fall

Fall-Season-Cartoon-Image-Raking-Leaves-Back-PainWhat does Fall mean to you? Gorgeous colors, the crisp, cool air, football, pumpkin spice everything? Whatever the case, there is one thing that pretty much everyone thinks about when Autumn arrives – raking leaves. Whatever your opinion on raking, one thing is certain: It is not a quick and easy task. Raking is an intensive physical activity, which means every time you do it, you run the risk of hurting something. But there are things you can do to reduce that risk. Here are some tips to stay safe and pain-free when you groom your yard this fall.

Dress for the Weather

As Minnesotans, we know we should never make assumptions about the weather. But it’s usually on the lower end of the thermometer when raking season arrives, and it’s important that you dress accordingly to keep away the cold. Cold temperatures cause muscles to lose heat, which in turn makes them contract easier and lose their range of motion. Muscles end up working harder under these conditions, which leads to increased soreness. So be sure to wear an extra layer or two to keep your body nice and toasty. Unless it’s one of those freak 80 degree days in mid-October. You may want to dress down a bit at that point.

Let’s not forget about wind chill, another thing Minnesotans know all about. While wind does not actually change the air temperature, it does affect your body temperature. Wind draws heat from your body when it contacts skin, which lowers your skin temperature and eventually your internal temperature, accelerating muscle tightness. If it’s windy out, be sure you wear long sleeves and full-length pant legs to cover any exposed skin. It will help keep away pain, and you’ll look the part!


This one kind of goes without saying, but we’ll say it anyway. Drink plenty of fluids!

Dehydration lowers your blood volume, which forces your heart to work harder to pump blood to your body. This makes any physical activity significantly more difficult and can lead to shortness of breath and painful tightness in your chest.

Second, hydrated muscles and joints work better. Hydrating fluids help flush toxins out of your muscles and lubricate joints, which can prevent inflammation and joint pain.

Whether it’s Gatorade or good old-fashioned water, drink hydrating fluids before, during and after you rake to stay at peak performance!

Warm Up

Woman-stretching-image-twin-cities-pain-clinic-articlesRaking can be strenuous, and just like any other physical activity, giving your body a few minutes to warm up can go a long way in preventing nuisances like cramps, strains, and pulled muscles. You don’t have to get fancy – just walk a couple of brisk laps around your yard to get your blood flowing and your limbs moving. Raking is a full body exercise, so consider making your walk a POWER WALK to get those arms loosened up too.

Maintain Good Form

Your body is designed to move in specific ways and perform specific functions. Exerting your body in unusual ways can put undue strain on your muscles and joints, which can lead to pain. That’s why good form is the hallmark of any exercise or physical activity.

While raking, keep your knees slightly bent and reach/pull the rake with your arms, never with your back. When you’re ready to bag your leaves, bend at the knees to lower yourself and then lift back up using your legs.

Should you be overcome with a desire to leap into your leaf pile (and there is a good chance of that happening), consider doing so feet first. Leaves are sneaky, and a pile of them can look bigger and cushier than it really is. If you fall back-first into your leaf pile, you could fall right through onto the hard ground and hurt yourself. Always practice low-risk leaf leaping!

Choose the Right Tools

Obviously, you’re going to need some tools for this job. But if you want to come out of this adventure pain-free, make sure you get the RIGHT tools.

First, you’ll need a rake (imagine that). For best results, get an ergonomically designed rake. There are a number of sturdy and lightweight options out there nowadays that are specifically engineered to minimize bending, stooping and reaching, allowing for the safer and more comfortable raking experience you deserve.

You should also consider a shovel for picking up the leaves. A shovel allows you to pick up more leaves at a time, which means fewer times you have to lower and lift your body. Much like the rake, there are countless ergonomic shovels you can choose from to further minimize the risk or a strain or cramp.

Finally, consider getting a funnel insert for the leaf bags. These simple and inexpensive items are designed to prop open bags and stand them upright. They also include a large opening at the top to funnel all your leaves into the bag instead of letting half of them drop back to the ground.

With the right tools, you’ll breeze through your yard cleanup with plenty of time leftover for a celebratory cider!

Enlist Some Help

Many hands make light work, so if you have the means, ask some friends or family to give you an assist. Even one extra rake on the job will cut your work in half. Less work means less strain on your body which means less of a chance you’ll injure yourself.

You may feel a sense of pride and accomplishment by raking your entire yard all by yourself, and rightfully so. But you’re also much more likely to feel an aching pain in your back when you’re done. Do yourself a favor and get some help the next time you need to give your yard the ol’ fall cleaning.


Love it or hate it, raking is one of those things that just has to be done when Fall comes around.

Since you can’t avoid it, you might as well take a few extra moments to make sure you’re doing it right. That way, you can go inside when you’re done and enjoy a delicious cup of hot coffee or cocoa.

And honestly, doesn’t that sound so much better than an ice pack?

Do You Have Chronic Pain?

Even if you follow every rule and try every trick, pain can still sometimes find a way to creep in. If you have questions about any pain you may be feeling, or would like to schedule an appointment, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.


Understanding Headaches & Migraines

Headaches & Migraines

No matter who you are, you’ve probably experienced a few headaches in your life. It’s one of the most common reasons that keep people from going to work. Chronic primary headaches however, are a disease all their own. They are often triggered in normally healthy people by stress, emotional factors, foods, fumes in the environment, or even a change in the weather. These types of headaches affect over 50 million people in the United States. 

Tension Headache

This is a very common type of headache. Odds are, you’ve probably had one of these headaches in the last year. You will feel a steady pain, usually in the back of the head and along the sides of the neck. 

Migraine Headache

The migraine headache affects around 25 million Americans each year. Migraine headaches can be inherited, so if a family member suffers from migraines, you might as well. Migraines can cause an extremely painful throbbing on the side of the head. It can also cause nausea and vomiting, as well as sensitivity to noise and light. Sufferers of migraines often seek out a dark and quiet room during an attack. Just minutes before a migraine hits, your body often sends a warning whose symptoms vary – flashing lights, trouble speaking or an awareness that something is wrong. 

Cluster Headache

The cluster headache is more of a variant of a headache than a completely different type. They’re not nearly as common as the migraine and are usually found in men who smoke or drink heavily. They are called cluster headaches because, after the first one starts, they keep coming back for weeks and even months. Most of the attacks don’t last more than a few hours and are associated with severe pain in one eye which may water and become inflamed. The nose is also usually stuffy as well. During a cluster, each headache tends to strike at the same time of day as the last. More often than not, these headaches occur during nighttime hours.


There are a variety of at-home treatments for headaches and migraines you can try to ease your pain. 

  1. Rest in a quiet, dark room.
  2. Apply a hot or cold compresses to your head or neck, whichever feels best.
  3. Gently massage the effected area
  4. Drink small amounts of caffeine.
  5. Over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others), acetaminophen (Tylenol, others), and aspirin.

If you suffer from persistent headaches or migraines, contact Twin Cities Pain Clinic today to discuss treatment options.

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