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Man In Pain

Why Does it Hurt? 

The Science Behind Pain
By Dr. Shannon Connolly


Why does it hurt? I am asked this question on a daily basis. In the treatment room, I try to simplify it as much as possible, but the real answer is quite a bit more complex. To really get an understanding of why, it would be best to start with understanding how essentially our brain and nervous system works. The complexity of pain makes it a very difficult thing to treat and work with. On a positive note, it also means that some factors are more treatable or manageable than others, but only if you have a true understanding of how pain really works.


Here are the basics:  We have sensors called nociceptors that respond to stimulus. When activated, these sensors send warning signals from the body to the spinal cord via nerves. The signals from the nerves within tissues alert that there is a potential for tissue damage. The nociceptors then send that signal to the spinal cord for further processing. Your spinal cord is like a middle man who can decide to send the signal up to the brain or to leave that nociceptive alert at the spinal cord. This means there could potentially be something “dangerous” going on, and you might not have a clue!


So with that basic understanding of how the pain response system works, now it is time to change our mindset – when we first think of “pain” or when we even feel “pain.”  We really need to stop thinking of pain in terms of causes or cures. We’re all guilty of saying to ourselves “It’s all coming from the ____, I know it!” I’ve done this myself, but sadly, we’re almost always wrong.


We have many non-specific sensitivities to pain. Pain is purely an alarm. It is a very unreliable sign of what’s really happening. Is it a fire? Is it the carbon monoxide detector? Is it the neighbor’s alarm? We have no idea!


We have assumed for a very long time that the most common cause of musculoskeletal pain, such as a “structural” or biomechanical problem – a slipped disc, a short leg, etc. – is the root cause and only explanation for that pain. For decades we’ve been told that the structural problem is causing the pain, but that explanation is also evidence that there is a lot more to pain than just screwed up tissue.


Patients are often given the alarming idea that the slightest crookedness/out-of-place joint is “serious.”  As humans, we are designed to compensate, designed to figure out how to go about our days with no concept or feeling of pain so we can survive. Did you know the world record holder for the deadlift has idiopathic scoliosis! (Lamar Gant in 1974!) If humans weren’t designed to compensate and not be “perfectly” aligned, would a 123 lb human with scoliosis be able to deadlift 524.5 lbs?


Here are a few more statistics that make this “structuralism as the answer to our pain” more questionable:

  • 96% of athletes younger than 22 will show changes on an MRI that some people call “abnormal.” But since everyone has them, how “abnormal” can they be? (Rajaswaran 2014)
  • 37% of 20 year olds with no pain have disc degeneration in their spine (Brinjikji 2015)
  • 57% of 20-50 year olds with no hip pain will have cartilage and ligament tears (Tresch 2016)


Structural problems aren’t the only pain-related theories I hear from patients.  Many come in talking about “inflammation” or “tissue damage.” This can certainly be a contributing factor in pain, but it is generally not the only factor. And you don’t need to have damage to have chronic pain. Your nervous system can become sensitized. This sensitivity can come from a number of areas in your life. Depression, anxiety, fear of movement, a low sense of self control, the loss of meaningful activities…all are factors that might influence your sensitivity and chronic pain.

To understand injuries and pain problems and to recover from them more effectively, we need to stop thinking about the body as a machine that is inevitably going to break down and start thinking about the body as one big crazy system of neurology and biochemistry, and even crazier psychology and lifestyle factors. Throw in curve balls like poor dietary habits, medication side effects, exhaustion, emotional distress, smoking/pollutants, and being really out-of-shape or having inefficient biomechanics. These are more important indicators for pain than any “structural” issue. The body is strong and truly adaptable. You just need to give it the right stuff! Sleep, water, good nutritious food, movement, etc. All the things you know it really needs.

The bottom line is, pain is much more about sensitivity rather than injury. Any information that convinces your brain that you might need protection or that increases your danger alarm can contribute to your pain. We need to teach ourselves how to be more resilient to the external factors that are most of the time beyond our control.


Your Child and a Substance More Addictive than Cocaine: Should You Be Concerned?

by Dr. Marc Funderlich

One of the most confusing statements I hear from parents is “I don’t want my child to be deprived if I keep them from eating substances more addictive than cocaine.”  Now they don’t actually say “more addictive than cocaine.” They usually replace that phrase with “cake” or “cookies.”

I know – and you know – that parents generally want “the best” for their children. The best schools, the best toys, the best life partner, etc.  What about the best nutrition? I think we can all agree that nutrition is important and we want our kids to grow up to reach their full potential.  And yet many parents tell me they are doing “Whole 30” or trying paleo or keto, but then they say “it’s just so hard to cook two meals every night.”. My question is always why cook two meals? Why should your children eat toxic, fake chemicals pretending to be food while you eat real food? You would never feed your child a yoga mat (although in some cases it may be more nutritious than what they are eating), so why feed them polyethylene glycol, carrageenan, partially hydrogenated oils, sucrose, yellow dye number 5 and other chemicals that are not food? The usual answer I get back: “Because they like it.”

Of course they like it.  They’ve been fed a steady diet of sugar and it’s incredibly addictive.

One thing to keep in mind is that sugar alters how the brain works. It is in fact more addictive than cocaine, and when you mix addictive, neurologically-altering substances with a child’s immature brain, you can expect non-optimal brain development. You can also expect addictive behaviors (i.e. “because they like it”). Typically, you should also expect bad behavior as you try to change a child’s diet. Often, withdrawal symptoms include tantrums, screaming, crying, etc.

The good news is that these behavior issues only last 1-2 weeks. After this time, the brain recovers and rewires. From this point on children’s taste preferences may open up, they may want to try all sorts of new foods they disliked before, and their development will significantly benefit from your tough, yet loving dietary directives. The food habits they learn as kids carve out a blueprint of their future health.

If you want to see how your child is responding to toxic chemicals, foods or additives, we can run specific and advanced laboratory testing to find out how these things may be impacting your child.  Call the office to learn more.

Woman rubbing neck pain area

What’s the Best Pillow for my Sleep Position?

by Matt McGowan D.C.

November 2019


I get asked often about the best type of pillow to use at night.  The answer can be complicated because it ultimately depends on how you spend the majority of your night’s sleep.  This can be a difficult thing for a patient to pinpoint as we often flip and flop around throughout the night. For a truly restless sleeper who moves a lot, sometimes the best answer is to have a combination of pillows that fit your various needs.  My advice to patients is to determine what position you wake up in since this is often the position of choice that you spend the majority of your night in.

Here are a few notes on pillow choice based on position:

Back Sleeper:  When lying on our backs we should be able to draw a straight line from out ear through our shoulder, through our hip joint, and through the malleolus (bone that sticks out on the side of your ankle).  Often times back sleepers use too high or thick of a pillow flexing their neck too far forward causing a misalignment in their body. There is certainly a benefit to filling the space in the curve of your neck, but the thickness of the pillow should not displace your head forward of that imaginary straight line.

Side Sleeper:  With side sleeping it is a different imaginary line we are concerned with.  This line starts at your nose and should continue straight and uninterrupted through your sternum (chest plate), belly button, and eventually pubic bone.  In order for this to occur, the thickness of the pillow must offset the distance measured between your ear and the tip of your shoulder. Often times side sleepers go wrong with having too thin a pillow that does not fill the necessary space from ear to shoulder.  In this case, the body often tries to compensate by placing their hand or wrist under the pillow or chin. Conversely you can have too thick a pillow which forces your head to be laterally flexed all night.

Stomach Sleeper:  My first recommendation is always to avoid this position if at all possible.  This position forces you to spend a portion of the night with your head turned all the way in one direction, placing a lot of strain on the muscles of the neck as well as a lot of lateral pressure on the jaw.  Furthermore, it is a bad position for your lower back as gravity will press your lower back further into extension causing a lot of lower back tightness in the morning. If you cannot give up this position, the next best scenario is to have a very thin pillow if one at all, and you can also place a pillow under your hip bones and pelvic area to keep your lower back from hyperextending.

If you find yourself waking up in the morning with more neck tightness or discomfort than you had when you went to bed, it is worth investigating if a more suitable pillow can be part of your solution.  The best way to go about it is to have a spouse or partner look at your sleeping position and check for the lines we discussed. If you fall into a complicated case due to multiple sleeping positions, there are some specialty pillows out there that offer a combination of options.  If you have any difficulty determining if this is an issue for you, any of the chiropractors here at Core Therapies would be happy to help you out.

I’m the Healthiest I’ve Ever Been…and Here’s Why

by Dr. Melissa Sonners

September 2019

I have been using ketosis, fasting, and diet variation for the last four years and have loved my results.  My body has completely changed.  I have muscle tone in places that were always my weak spots and more importantly, I have never felt healthier in my life and I say this while still dealing with many of the effects of a neurological form of Lyme disease I got almost two years ago.

These ancient healing strategies are some of the best ways I know that allow our bodies to tap into their natural ability to heal.  You are designed to be healthy. I’ve been sharing my “secrets” through the Stemnomic Solution, a 7 week virtual program that will begin again on September 16th.  This will be our third group to go through the program and the results to date have been amazing.

During the program, I will be walking participants through how to use these systems in your lives, not just for the time you are with me, but going forward for as long as you choose. I have talked to patients about how to do this during their office visits and used social media to help guide people as well.  This program is way more than that. We’ll be using Zoom video meetings for workshops on our weekly goals while creating a community of support through an online group for weekly questions, sharing successes, etc.  You will be set up for success…and know exactly what you need to do to make this work!

If you’re ready to jump in, click here to get additional information and to register.  The program begins on September 16th.  I can’t wait to get started!

Holistic Doctors in NJ

Here’s What I Know To Be True

By Dr. Melissa Sonners
August 2019

Here is what I know to be true…

Cancer rates are rising, diabetes rates are rising, autism rates are rising and autoimmune conditions are more common than ever. Our genes have not changed and yet the graph of these conditions continues to go up. We cannot play victim to and blame all of these conditions on our genes. We can sit in our stories and wait for these devastating diagnoses or we can make the choice to make the time to take care of ourselves. We live in a society where we are taught to wait until something is a problem or health challenge before addressing it. In traditional medicine if your glucose and blood sugar is steadily raising you might be told to start making dietary changes but no drastic measures are introduced until these numbers hit such a level that you are diagnosed with diabetes. We are not victims. Our bodies are not designed to fail. They are designed to thrive. If our body is failing, there is something we are not giving it (deficiency) or there are things it doesn’t need that it is getting too much of (toxicity). After spending the weekend in a medical conference with experts from all over the world, and touring the world renowned Amen Clinics and the Cancer Center for Healing in Irvine, here is what I am reminded of: When faced with a diagnosis of these conditions, eat all organic, limit gluten, diary, sugar, corn and all GMO foods, be sure to restore gut health and support a healthy microbiome. Take time for yourself, create balance. Why, why, why do we have to wait for these conditions to occur before we make these common sense changes?

Functional medicine is a relatively new field in which practitioners do lab work that delves deep and can identify malfunctions as they start to happen and catch them before they get too advanced. I often hear feedback from patients – ours and others – that their recommended regimen from functional medicine doctors is difficult. Yes, it requires a lot of effort to clean out food, take the recommended supplements and make drastic changes. But my question to these patients is this: If you were diagnosed with cancer and you were told you had to do these things, then would you? Do you have to wait until things get that bad? Again, we have been raised in a society that doesn’t yet embrace prevention. Ideally, we shouldn’t have to. We shouldn’t have to limit certain food or take supplements to get key nutrients. But we live in a society where our food is longer food. Where supplements have to be taken because we aren’t getting the nutrients that nature intended. If we can’t/won’t live the way our bodies are genetically designed to live, we have to make these choices and make major changes to get back to that life.

Think of it this way: You aren’t cutting out things and depriving yourself. You are depriving yourself by keeping them in. Depriving yourself of energy, of health, of vitality, of a clear mind, of positive emotions and neurotransmitters, of being the best version of yourself. Of being that miracle and living the miracle that you are meant to be. We can no longer use the excuse of not having the time, not having the resources. We choose how to spend our time. We make time for the things we value. I’m often surprised to hear people say they just don’t have the time, right before they tell me about the Netflix show they just binge watched. And I’m not knocking binge watching! We also need to take time for ourselves and self-care, and if that includes binge watching then go for it. But please, don’t tell me you don’t have time for your health. Because the reality is, you are either going to make time for it now or be forced to create time for it later.

Holistic Allergy Doctor NJ

Tips for Surviving Allergies

Tips for Surviving Allergies
by Dr. Noémie Long
July 2019


Living in New Jersey, it can feel like allergy season is year-round. Ragweed season for example can last
from March to October. Other allergies can be year-long, even in the winter. And then to make matters
more complicated, people can have sensitivities on top of all that. Where do you begin?
Definition: First, we have to understand what exactly an allergy is and how it’s different than a




Reaction time

Happens immediately

Happens gradually: hours after exposure, up to 9 days later



Life Threatening: Sinus congestion, hives, difficulty breathing, face or hand swelling, itching, wheezing

Not Life Threatening: bloating, joint pain, headache, weight gain, diarrhea, fatigue, constipation



The immune system releases histamine in response to trigger

Typically, due to a leaky gut, the body becomes sensitive to a trigger which causes inflammation


What the results mean

Once an allergy is established, it is forever. However, the goal should be to manage the severity of symptoms


Sensitivities may be reversible through proper care and support.

What to look for on blood test


IGE marker. Ex: “Corn IGE”

IGG or IGA. Ex: “Corn IGG”

Reliable tests

Quest, labcorp, most major lab companies. An allergist may also run a scratch test.

Microchip testing (ex: Vibrant) or Cyrex testing.


*Cyrex is the only test to offer sensitivity to raw AND cooked foods.


Unreliable tests



What should you do for an allergy?

First, you need to find out what the trigger is. If you already know,
try to avoid that trigger 100% of the time. There are traditional medical options, such as an epi-pen if
the reaction is severe. For less severe allergies, natural antihistamines like AllerDHQ or D-Hist JR (a
chewable for kids) can be used. If your allergies are derived from oral allergies, HistDAO can be your
best friend. HistDAO supplements diamine oxidase, an enzyme you make to get rid of histamine in your
gut. Some people have genetic changes that lower this enzyme.
Environmental modifications can include dust mite covers for bedding, HEPA filters for your home/work,
and weekly washing of drapery or bedding using hot water.

What are your triggers?

If you don’t know what your trigger is, or are unsure if you have an allergy or
sensitivity, Core Therapies has providers to help you. My post-doctoral training includes focusing on
blood work interpretation and balancing blood chemistry. Often, our natural body’s chemistry can hold
clues and hints about primary shifts starting to occur. Think of your car, we would never ignore a
rumbling noise coming from the engine; we would look into it early and not wait for smoke to appear.
Secondary conditions like allergy symptoms or sensitivity symptoms may relate to an underlying
physiological shift. We want to identify and optimize those changes before they cause issue or progress.




Neck Doctor NJ

The “Text Neck” Epidemic

The “Text Neck” Epidemic
By Dr. Sonia Marques

We have all been guilty of looking down at our phones or tablets for long periods of time and feeling a stiffness and discomfort in our necks as a result of it. Most of the time we aren’t even aware of how much time is passing by, but our bodies are certainly feeling the impact of our actions. Our technology-driven society has led to a common and ubiquitous condition coined “text neck,” or chronic flexion malposition of the head and neck. For some, this means limited range of motion and stiffness, but for many others the restriction is painful. Patients may also present with symptoms in the upper back and shoulders, as well as reporting headaches, altered vision and fatigue.

Long term consequences of progressive text neck syndrome include rounding of the shoulders, a rounded hump-like upper and mid back and eventually reduced respiratory volume. These postural changes include anterior head carriage, which is when the chin juts forward. Anterior head carriage increases the weight and stress to our necks and upper backs. A normal neutral head posture of 0 degrees correlates to 10-12 lbs of weight on our necks, whereas 45 degrees of forward head posture correlates to 49 lbs of weight to our necks! Essentially, a forward head posture of 3-5 inches adds hundreds of pounds of stress to the neck throughout the day. Years of this added stress greatly increases the potential for cervical disc herniations, as well as degenerative joint disease and degenerative disc disease of the neck and upper spine. Of particular concern is the long-term effects of text neck on children and adolescents who have grown up with this technology since infancy and oftentimes exceed the recommended daily amounts of screen time.

A study published in the May 2017 issue of Surgical Neurology International Journal concluded that “Musculoskeletal neck pain is a common multifactorial disease in children and adolescents, implying that there are numerous risk factors contributing to its development. Bending the head, neck, and shoulders over cell phones and handheld devices, along with distorted neck positioning when sitting, studying, and watching television, can lead to incrementally increased stresses in the cervical spine area. These stresses may lead to early wear, tear, degeneration, and possibly surgeries. Other developmental, medical, psychological, and social complications are also of concern.

While it is nearly impossible to avoid the habits and technologies that cause these issues, young individuals should make an effort to perform activities with a neutral spine and to avoid neck flexion for hours each day. Most times, children and adolescents do not know they could be doing serious long-term damage to their bodies because the short-term effects are not as noticeable. It is only later in life that the effects can seriously affect the quality of life. This increases fears that younger people, who are society’s biggest users of smartphones and tablets, could be facing a future of pain and disability, or even taking years off of their life expectancy.

Assessment of postural anomalies and evaluation of spinal and muscle dysfunction allows the chiropractor to determine the best course for corrective action. Corrections may include active release therapy of dysfunctional muscles, soft tissue release, joint mobilizations, manual traction, as well as rehabilitative stretching and strengthening exercises and ergonomic and supportive care. Raising awareness on the consequences of musculoskeletal neck pain and providing methods of prevention of treatment is the key to managing “text neck” in both kids and adults. Although smart phones, tablets and laptops will always be necessary parts of our lives, we can certainly minimize their negative effects to ourselves and to our families.

Children's Neurologists in NJ

What is Functional Neurology for Children?

What is Functional Neurology for Children?
by Dr. Marc Funderlich
April 1, 2019

Functional Neurologists who work with children take a different approach to brain-based conditions than standard Medical Pediatric Neurologists. Medical Neurology specializes in detecting tissue damage on imaging, deals with the acute care phase of traumatic brain injuries for infants and prescribes medications to change brain chemistry. In general, this approach is designed to cover up any weakness in your children brain. As Functional Neurologists, we look at the brain from a completely different perspective.

Our job is to find the things interfering with your child’s natural brain development and remove them. While this sounds easy, it is a complex process that takes time and dedication! The best way to start is by examining your child’s brain using developmental reflexes, physical tests, computer tests, and eye movements. After this exam we are able to determine if your child’s brain is immature for their age. A mismatch between brain development and actual age can lead to a disconnection in your child’s school, social, or sports performance! Once we have object evidence of your child’s disconnection, we need to figure out why that disconnection exists. Normally we do comprehensive blood work in conjunction with specialized immune testing. This allows us to see any underlying reasons why your child’s brain is not on track. Common reasons for developmental delay include in utero stress, pathogens, chemical exposure, autoimmunity, iron deficiency and inflammation. The brain needs several things for optimal development. The three things that are a must for your brain are energy, oxygen and stimulation and we deal with all of them here at Core Therapies. We use Laser Therapy and Nutrition for energy, Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy for oxygen, and Directed Neurologic Rehabilitation for brain stimulation.

We believe that even if your child has not been diagnosed with something such as ADHD, Genetic Disorder, Seizure, Stroke, Autism, or a Developmental Delay it is still worth having your child checked. All too often parents are told that an infant missing or lagging on milestones is acceptable, that there is nothing to do to help this along. This is not true. We hear stories every day of parents being told to just wait and watch when in fact there are things that can be done. If you’d like more information about our Functional Neurology work with children, please reach out to me at

Some FAQs about Functional Neurology at Core Therapies

Q: What age ranges do you work with?
A: Our youngest patient is 2 weeks old and we do see some teens. For intervention to work best, pre-
puberty is recommended and the earlier the better.

Q: Is there anything invasive while you work with my child?
A: No, there is nothing invasive during regular Functional Neurology sessions. Any blood draw we
request would be the most invasive part. Sometimes we can use a saliva test instead.

Q: Do you do screens on “healthy children”?
A: Yes, it is best to screen early and often for both brain development and blood chemistry!

Holistic Practitioners Florham Park NJ

Cold & Flu – What’s the Truth and What’s a Myth?

Cold and Flu: What’s the Truth and What’s a Myth?
By Dr. Noémie Long
November 2018
With cold and flu season approaching, it’s important to touch upon a handful of questions that I get time
and time again, things like which supplements should I take? How long should I take them for? Why
shouldn’t I take certain products and why can’t I give elderberry syrup year round? How do vaccines
The answers to these questions are complex and vary for each person. To address the question of which
supplements to take and when, we have to establish a basic understanding of how the immune system
works. Think of a teeter totter or a seesaw. When you sit on one end, the other end rises up into the air.
The immune system has 2 major branches to it. Something called TH1 and TH2. When we eat things or
take certain products, we increase the TH1 side of our seesaw while decreasing the TH2 side. You can’t
raise one side without lowering the other.
These two parts of the immune system play important roles. The TH1 system does things like fight
bacteria and viruses. It is also pro-inflammatory. The TH2 system helps us fight parasites and also plays a
role with allergies. This system is anti-inflammatory. You can also think of TH1 as the gas pedal and TH2
as the brake pedal.
Certain foods activate our immune system in one way or another. For example, coffee is a TH2
stimulator. Most cold and flu remedies like elderberry, Airborne, emergen-C, vitamin C, echinacea, etc.,
are all TH1 stimulators (gas pedal). You want these to fight a cold. But taking these all the time can cause
your body’s immune system to always be in fight mode. This is inflammatory, can cause functional
immune exhaustion, and worst case scenario contribute to autoimmunity long term. Short term use of
these products can be helpful, as a rule of thumb we don’t recommend using daily “immune boosters”
for more than 3 months in a row. Remember that the Core providers are always here to help, so feel
free to ask if you are unsure about a product or for suggestions.
Very briefly let’s discuss how vaccines work. When we get sick naturally (or with flu-mist/ other inhaled
nasal vaccines) the bacteria/virus goes into our nose or mouth where it signals the alarm system of the
body through what’s called an IGA response. The immune system’s fight ensues from there and
afterwards causes a memory response and protection that lasts your entire life. With vaccine injections
you bypass the IGA system and instead trigger natural killer cells to blow up whatever is in the vaccine.
Because a different immune cascade is triggered, you typically need boosters and your protection
doesn’t last forever as titer levels fall.
In my teens I made the decision to get an optional vaccine and my life has never been the same. I was
initially healthy but after that day I developed an autoimmune condition. While ASIA or Autoimmune
Syndrome Induced by Adjuvants is thought to be uncommon, it happened to me. I’m not saying anyone
should avoid the decision I made, but make sure you’re healthy enough, have a family history that
supports vaccination as a safe choice for you or your kids and ask your doctor if you’re not sure. Have
immune cell breakdowns like a CD4:8 ratios and other testing done to see if you’re a good candidate for
vaccines or to make sure you’re not allergic to the additives like egg, gelatin or silicone. The flu causes
suffering for 3 days, an autoimmune condition lasts every day of the rest of your life.

Dr Long’s Favorite Cold product: IG 26 DF

IG 26 DF is a form of “hyperimmunized egg.” There is egg in this product so do not use if you are allergic
or vegan. Immunoglobulins and antibodies in the egg help stimulate your immune system to help
protect and give passive immunity against 26 different pathogens such as Shigella,
Staphylococcus(staph), Escherichia coli (E. coli), Salmonella, Pseudomonas, Klebsiella, H. influenzae, and
Streptococcus (strep).