Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (TOS)

Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (TOS) is an umbrella term that refers to the compression of nerves and blood vessels as they travel from the neck to supply the arm. More specifically, the Brachial Plexus (a group of nerves carrying sensory and motor information), and the subclavian artery and vein become entrapped. The compression of these neurovascular structures occurs with the narrowing of small spaces in the Thoracic Outlet. The Thoracic Outlet extends from the borders of the collar bone (clavicle), first rib, and neck muscles (anterior and middle scalene). There are 3 common sites within the Thoracic Outlet that can become entrapped: between the scalene muscles, under the collar bone, and beneath the tendon of the pectoralis minor muscle.


  • Motor vehicle accidents (ie. whiplash), Tramatic Injuries
  • Repetitive strain, Carrying a heavy backpack
  • Congenital / extra cervical ribs



  • Neck, shoulder, and arm pain
  • Weakness in the arm and hands
  • Reduced sensation in the hands
  • Tingling sensation into the arm
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Frozen Shoulder-Adhesive Capsulitis

Frozen shoulder, also known as adhesive capsulitis, is when the shoulder is painful and loses motion because of inflammation.

Signs and Symptoms

Characterized by stiffness and pain in your shoulder joint and also decreased active ranges of motion of the shoulder. This condition presents usually after age 40 and is not necessarily due to trauma or immobility as one might imagine. Signs and symptoms typically begin gradually, worsen over time and then resolve, usually within one or two years.

Risk Factors

Although there is no specific cause, shoulder trauma or surgery may play a role in the development of frozen shoulder. Risk of developing frozen shoulder increases if you’re recovering from a medical condition or procedure that affects the mobility of your arm such as stroke or a mastectomy. There is also a correlation with patients suffering from diabetes and developing frozen shoulder.

At Alliance Wellness, we will help you manage pain associated with frozen shoulder, increase your ranges of motions and help you find more comfortable postures and sleeping positions while you recover. Call 604-737-1177 to book your free consultation.

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Massage Therapy Beneficial to Injuries After Car Accidents

Today we’re talking to Jodi Blasco, a Registered Massage Therapist (RMT) with Alliance Wellness, a one-stop shop providing integrated health and wellness services and practitioners, located on Vancouver’s west side. Jodi is an expert in treating soft-tissue injuries that are often the result of car accidents, and she was able to walk us through some of the different treatments available through massage therapy, and how they can help accident victims get on the road to recovery.

WH: You are at the top in your field in massage therapy – tell me why you chose this career?

JB: I really enjoy helping others. Being injured is both a physical and mental challenge and being part of someone’s journey back to health is an amazing feeling! I was introduced to massage therapy when I was a college athlete, and I was instantly intrigued. I had always wanted to be part of the health care field and this profession was the perfect fit for me.

See the full article here

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Eat, Drink and Be Merry in Health by Dr.Stella Seto ND

The holidays are a time to spend time with loved ones that often includes indulging in more food and drink. The average adult gains 1lb during the holidays and most do not loose that weight after. It doesn’t sound like a lot but that 10lbs that crept up in the last decade can be from the indulging in too much holiday sugary or alcoholic drinks and rich foods. Those who regularly exercised during the holidays showed the least weight gain and some lost weight.

Here are some tips to keep your health and weight optimal during the holidays and throughout the year.

Don’t drink your calories: Sugary drinks are the biggest source of sugar calories in our diet. Sugar calories made up 21.4 per cent of the average Canadian’s total calorie intake. Each teaspoon of sugar is 4 grams. The World Health Organization recommends limiting sugar to 6-7 tsp per day.

Here are some holiday sugar bombs to stay clear of or get the smallest size.


The Caramel Bruleé latte has 440 calories and nearly 52 grams of sugar. A Chicken McNuggets happy meal from McDonald’s has less sugar and fat and fewer calories.

Grande Eggnog Latte has 460 calories and 48 grams of sugar

Grande Peppermint Mocha has 420 calories and 54 grams of sugar, more than double the recommended sugar intake for the entire day.

A large Tim Hortons Candy Cane Dark Hot Chocolate has 470 calories and 69 grams of sugar. Even a small regular hot chocolate has 38 grams of sugar, more than your entire recommended daily intake.

Fill at least half your plate with non-starchy vegetables: At the party if you fill half your plate with raw or steamed veggies and limit high fat dips (a restaurant serving of spinach and artichoke dip has about 1,6000 calories, 100 grams of fat and 2,500mg sodium) than you won’t fill up on just high calorie, white flour, fatty and sugary foods.

Add a serving of lean protein such as grass fed meat, whole organic eggs, wild salmon, hemp, beans or lentils.

Before you attend the party eat a big salad or plate of steamed green vegetables with a serving of lean protein so you will not go starving and fill up on too many treats. The fiber from the vegetables and the protein will help fill you up and blunt some of the negative insulin affects of the sugary treats and drinks.

Chew all your food to a paste: When indulging in holiday treats make sure you enjoy them. Often people wolf down an entire plate of food and didn’t really enjoy it. It takes 20mins for the stretch receptors in the stomach to signal the brain that it is full. That is one of the reasons why after eating quickly you can’t believe how painful your stomach is from overeating.


Get some exercise: Instead of planning social events around food, organize a snowshoe walk, tobogganing, skiing or ice skate as a family and friends get together.

Regular exercise will help maintain stress levels and help with getting a restful sleep.

Get enough sleep: When you are tired you tend to overeat and confuse fatigue with hunger. In a study sleep was reduced from 8.5 hours of sleep to 4.5 hours. After four nights of less sleep, their fat cells were less sensitive to insulin, a metabolic change associated with both diabetes and obesity.

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Join us for Alliance Wellness Community Events!

The Alliance Wellness Team is excited to be attending numerous events this upcoming Spring 2014! Look out for us at local charitable and sporting events including Vancouver Sun Run, BMO Vancouver Marathon, International Equestrian Thunderbird Showpark competitions, Stanley Park Tennis Open, Scotiabank half-marathon, Lululemon Seawheeze and the Grand Fondo.



Dr. Jaimie Ackerman will be a speaker at Seva Fitness’ Holiday Hangover 30 day fitness challenge. This fitness program has been put together to help participants to start the new year a with happy and healthy lifestyle! Nutritional advice, recipes, health tips, and workouts are included to help the group with all aspects of their health. Dr. Ackerman’s presentation will cover nutrition, supplements/vitamins, myofascial release techniques, targeting muscle imbalances and common injuries encountered when starting new workout programs.



Dr. Jaimie Ackerman will be speaking at the Running Room on Cambie and 7th about injury prevention when running. Topics covered will include proper nutrition, cross-training, finding muscle imbalances, foam rolling/stretching and when to seek attention from a medical professional such as the at Alliance Wellness Clinic.

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How Male Hormone Affects Men’s Health

How male hormones affect mood, obesity, insulin resistance, infertility, libido, male pattern baldness and prostate cancer risk

Almost everyone has heard of the hormone testosterone, we associate it with being a more male hormone although it is also vital for women’s libido and health, being associated with polycystic ovarian syndrome. But there are many more hormones involved in men’s health.

Testosterone is a hormone produced primarily in the testicles and helps maintain men’s:

  • Bone and muscle strength/mass
  • Fat distribution
  • Sex drive
  • Sperm production

A small percentage of testosterone is produced by adrenal glands (glands associated with stress response located above the kidneys). This is one of the reasons high stress can suppresses testosterone production and it is integral to support the adrenal glands when treating hormone dysregulation.

Testosterone production peaks at about age 25 and decreases 1% per year. By age 75 men have half the amount of testosterone than did at age 25.

This hormone decrease is more gradual than when women enter menopause but the symptoms of low testosterone are called andropause.

Symptoms of low testosterone are:

  • Loss of libido
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Depression
  • Decreased memory and ability to concentrate
  • Reduced muscle mass and strength
  • Gynecomastia (male breasts)
  • Osteoporosis
  • Insomnia

5 alpha-Reductase (5AR) is an enzyme that converts testosterone to 5 alpha-dihydrotestosterone (DHT). When 5AR is elevated it is associated with prostate enlargement and the primary factor in premature male baldness.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in Canadian men and is the second largest cause of male cancer deaths in Canada. 1 in 7 men will develop prostate cancer during his lifetime and 1 in 28 will die of it.

The prostate is a gland that is part of the male reproductive system, producing fluid that nourishes and protects sperm. It surrounds the tube that urine and sperm pass through in the penis. The nerves that control erections surround the prostate. Thus when the prostate becomes enlarged men often have difficulty/pain urinating, painful erections and blood in the urine or semen.

The growth of cells in the prostate, both healthy and cancerous, is stimulated by testosterone.

Testing is recommended for men aged 40-75 and for those with increased risk of prostate cancer. Along with the standard tests of PSA (prostate specific antigen) and a digital rectal exam (the prostate is felt for any abnormalities), there are other tests that measure testosterone metabolites to add in the accuracy of diagnosing prostate cancer risk.

5-alpha reductase (5AR) converts testosterone to a hormone called DHT (the primary factor in male pattern baldness) and contributes to prostate cancer. You would think it would be as simple as blocking 5AR to solve prostate cancer risk.

There are medications that block 5AR, a study found they did help prevent prostate cancer but if you did get prostate cancer on these drug you were more likely to get an aggressive form of cancer and die from it. That is because DHT can also convert into something (3b-Adiol) that helps prevent prostate cancer.

Guerini, V., D. Sau, et al. The androgen derivative 5alpha-androstane-3beta,17beta-diol inhibits prostate cancer cell migration through activation of the estrogen receptor beta subtype. Cancer Res. 2005;65(12): 5445-53.

Medications that block 5AR also have common side effect of impotence, decreased libido and decreased ejaculation volume all affecting infertility.

The interplay of hormones is complicated with genetics, estrogen, the thyroid and adrenal glands affecting this as well, along with diet and lifestyle. You can measure all of these factors with an individualized prevention and treatment program working with your physician.

Things you can take that help prevent prostate cancer are adequate zinc and gamma linoleic acid as well as a high fiber, low inflammatory diet. Men should eat 30-40 grams of fiber per day.

Please consult Dr. Seto, ND for a personalized health and nutrition plan.

Dr. Stella Seto, ND is a licensed naturopathic physician with a special interest in sports and pain management, acupuncture, hormone balance and clinical nutrition/food sensitivities. She is covered by most extended health care plans.

She is located at:

Alliance Wellness: #407-1177 West Broadway @Alder (604)737-1177

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Winner of the Westside Business Service Excellence Award!

Alliance Wellness Clinic is proud to be this year’s recipient of the Westside Business Award of Distinction for Service Excellence! The Awards Gala was a sell-out event put on by the wonderful Kitsilano Chamber of Commerce and was held at the University of British Columbia Golf Course. The evening was full of great food, incredible music, many laughs and was attended by local business owners, renowned entrepreneurs and members of Parliament. Thank you to the Chamber of Commerce for a lovely evening and congratulations to all of the nominees and winners!

Westiside Business Award for Service Excellence winners

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