There are some words that are used without really understanding what they refer to. Flexibility and mobility are two examples of these. You may be forgiven for thinking that they are basically the same thing. However, it’s important to understand the difference between the two when it comes to our aims.
This time of year, we see an increase in people coming to see us for new episodes of back pain. These often follow a similar sort of story- carrying heavy bags of Christmas shopping, twisting awkwardly bringing the decorations down from the attic, or falling off ladders putting up festive lights.
If you’re struggling with back pain at Christmas, there are a few simple things that you can do to help yourself recover from an acute episode of back pain.
Did you know that oral health and general health are closely linked?�
Gum disease may increase your risk of all kinds of other health complications, including diabetes, stroke, and heart disease. It has even been linked with problems in pregnancy and dementia.
All the more reason to take good care of those pearly whites!
What to give the person who has everything? How about a voucher for a Thai or Remedial Massage?
£50 for a one hour massage, or £30 for 30 minutes, it’s the perfect pre-Christmas treat.
Pop in to clinic to purchase your voucher.
The health watchdog NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) is to recommend that vaginal mesh operations should be banned from treating organ prolapse in England.
The documents are currently undergoing consultation prior to publication, and in them NICE said there were “serious but well-recognised safety concerns” and that “evidence of long-term efficacy [for implants treating organ prolapse] is inadequate in quality and quantity”.
Hypopressives is a specific form of training which targets the core and pelvic floor, providing a non-invasive method of treating pelvic organ prolapse. Hypopressives training can negate the need for invasive surgery such as vaginal mesh operations, which are increasingly shown to be unnecessary and ineffective.
Back pain during pregnancy- it might be common, but it isn’t normal!
With top tips on how to avoid back pain during pregnancy, along with information and advice on the causes of lower back pain and how chiropractic can help, this resource is a must-read for all expectant mums!
In this resource, we also discuss the other considerations for expectant mums, including nutritional advice, exercises, and other factors that could affect your pregnancy. Download it here.
Did you know… A growing body of research shows that drugs such as paracetamol, ibuprofen, gabapentin and diclofenac are largely ineffective for back pain.
Opioids (such as oral hydromorphone, oxymorphone, morphine, tramadol, tramdaol with paracetamol, tapentadol, oxycodone, fentanyl and hydrocodone) have also been found to be largely ineffective with high risk of side effects including dependence.
Research recommends manual therapy, exercise, and cognitive behavioural interventions… all of which can be provided by a chiropractor!
What sort of training do Doctors of Chiropractic have?
A chiropractic degree is a four year full-time course, the first two years of which covers topics that are almost identical to those covered in a medical degree, and range from basic sciences such as embryology, physiology and biochemistry, to clinical sciences such as pharmacology and radiology. The key difference between chiropractic and medicine degree programmes is the weighting of the subjects. For example, chiropractic students spend a far greater amount of time on anatomy than medical students, but do not study pharmacology in as much detail as chiropractors opted not to have prescription rights.
A huge focus of training is on practical and clinical work, covering orthopaedic and neurological examination, general diagnosis, clinical nutrition, anatomy and physiology, behavioural sciences, psychology and mental health, clinical imaging, joint biomechanics, functional management, paediatrics, obstetrics, geriatrics and pathology.
As part of their training, chiropractors also engage in prosection and study of cadavers to truly appreciate the structure of human tissues and the anatomy of the body. In addition, our training focuses heavily on perfecting the manual techniques used in practice. Practical classes begin with learning to assess joints, muscles and nerves, introducing methods of treatment alongside. These classes build from a very basic level to the most advanced manual techniques in current medicine.
Finally, after years of academic and practical development, chiropractic students enter into a clinical year. This year is based in a specially designed teaching clinic. Students are supervised throughout this process, and by the end of the year have delivered over three hundred treatments and consultations each.
But it’s not over yet…. After completing their clinical year and graduating, chiropractors then must complete a year of supervised practice before becoming fully-fledged Doctors of Chiropractic!!
Did you know… why Brad Pitt has such a defined jaw? It’s probably due to overdevelopment or hypertrophy of the masseter muscle.
The masseter is located in your jaw, and based on its size, it’s actually the strongest muscle in the human body. With all muscles of the jaw working together it can close the teeth with a force as great as 55 pounds (25 kilograms) on the incisors or 200 pounds (90.7 kilograms) on the molars.
Think of that as you’re tucking in to your Sunday lunch!
💭KNOWvember💭 ⚽ Mac’s Story ⚽
Mac came to see us in September because he’d had hip pain for over 7 months. As a keen footballer, it had stopped him from playing and was understandably getting him down. He had a severe limp and was struggling to walk and sleep
After a thorough assessment, we diagnosed him with sacroiliac joint dysfunction, a complex issue which is common in footballers, complicated further by an old quadricep muscle tear in his right thigh causing some issues!
We’ve treated him five times with a combination of joint adjustments, soft tissue work, kinesiology taping and rehab exercises. Here he is with Philippa today having popped in for his final appointment- We’re delighted he’s pain free and back on the pitch playing for Widbrook FC.
Chiropractic- it’s not just for back pain!
Your brain cannot feel pain.
When you stub you
r toe or touch a hot stove, your body releases chemicals that trigger signals to go up to the brain, telling the brain about the pressure from the stubbed toe, or the heat from the hot stove. Your brain then interprets that information and decides what to do with it- generally, it’ll tell you it’s painful so you stop touching the stove or rub your toe better!
Although the brain interprets these pain signals, the brain itself does not feel pain, only the structures around it can do that!
As a matter of fact, once inside the brain, surgeons can operate on the brain without anaesthesia. In one technique known as brain mapping, surgeons probe brain tissue while monitoring reactions like muscle movement and speech — all while the patient is awake!
You might have seen this poster on Philippa‘s treatment room wall. This chap wasn’t caught up in an explosion in a paint factory, this image shows a “dermatomal map” of the human body. (The colours are actually just for fun!🌈)
A dermatome is an area of skin supplied by a single spinal nerve. By testing the dermatomes in conjunction with a range of other neurological and orthopaedic tests, your chiropractor can identify not only where a problem might be in your spinal cord, but also what type of problem it is!
This rather fetching looking chap is called a “homunculus” and he’s a little man who lives in your brain. (Sort of!)
The homunculus is a model that shows how your brain sees your body. The cortical homunculus represents the importance of various parts of your body as seen by your brain. Most of us have very sensitive hands and lips, hence why these areas appear larger on the homunculus.
Did you know these “mental maps” can change with experience. People who read Braille (which is done with an index finger) develop large areas that respond to stimulation from the index finger. A homunculus mapped on the motor cortex of a Braille reader would have an absolutely enormous index finger!
The word “muscle” comes from the Latin for “little mouse”, musculus (the diminuitive of mus).
There are two theories behind a mouse becoming a muscle- firstly, that the Romans thought the movement of a contracting muscle resembled a mouse moving under a rug. Or secondly, that in a rather abstract way, a muscle looks a little like a mouse- with a round body (muscle belly) ending in a long thin tail (the tendon).
What do you think, can you see a resemblance? 🐁
Did you know… Kinesiology tape is just one of the many adjuncts that might be used during your chiropractic treatment. You can purchase Sporttape from us in clinic- find out how it works and why we use kinesiology tape for pain and problems. Read more here.
Did you know… Our acupuncturist Gillian is a former midwife and has specialist knowledge in helping couples undergoing fertility treatment.
Acupuncture may help boost fertility by:
– Regulating hormone function
– Increasing blood flow to the ovaries and uterus and helping to relax your muscles which can improve the chance of an embryo implanting.
-Tackling the causes of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) – a common cause of infertility
– Generally helping to relieve stress and make you feel more relaxed
Did you know…. Chiropractic is the third largest primary healthcare profession in the world after medicine and dentistry!
Did you know….
Although chiropractors are known as spinal health care experts, chiropractic care is also effective for:
– Ankle sprain
– Cramp and muscle spasms
– Elbow pain and tennis elbow that has arisen due to an ssociated musculoskeletal condition of the back or neck
– Headache arising from the neck (cervicogenic)
– Inability to relax
– Joint pains including hip and knee pain from osteoarthritis
– General, acute & chronic backache and back pain
– Generalised aches and pains
– Mechanical neck pain
– Migraine prevention
– Minor sports injuries and tensions
– Plantar fasciitis
– Rotator cuff injuries, disease or disorders
– Shoulder complaints (dysfunction, disorders and pain)
– Soft tissue disorders of the shoulder
Did you know… Your spinal cord has an incredible memory for pain. When you experience an instance of intense pain, such as an acute back pain episode, the neurons in your spinal cord will carry signals more easily to the nerves in your back for several days, making your back feel more sensitive during this time. This is the result of a molecule thought to be the precursor to memory, known as PKMzeta. Your spinal cord is especially sensitive to this molecule and “records” instances of pain as a result.
This can make us more susceptible to future episodes of pain when we repeat actions that previously lead to injury, as the spine “remembers” those signals and (much like anything that is practiced over time) gets very good at sending them.
As a gentle, safe, non-invasive way of dealing with back pain, look no further than chiropractic care.
Did you know… We’re often asked where the name “Acorn Health” comes from. It’s from the old English proverb “Mighty oaks from little acorns grow” meaning great things can come from small beginnings!
Our clinic started in 2014 with just Philippa practicing from a single room in Emsworth, and our ‘little acorn’ has grown and flourished into its own premises in the heart of Emsworth with a wonderful multidisciplinary team. This is all thanks to some hard work and the incredible support of our colleagues, friends, family, patients and the local community.
The proverb also conveys to us a sense of growth, health and vitality- and our belief that no matter what, everyone can achieve optimal health… Something we are privileged to see our patients achieve under our care.
The quicker you’re seen by your chiropractor, the faster you’ll get better.
Too often, people suffer in pain for months before seeing a chiropractor as their “last resort”.
Research consistently shows that early intervention and care has a profound effect on both how well and how quickly you’ll recover.
Our ethos is delivering effective, evidence-based healthcare that is uniquely tailored to you.
You deserve the very best healthcare available, and we’re continually reinvesting in ourselves, our knowledge base and our clinic to ensure we provide you with an exceptionally high standard of healthcare.
At our clinic you’ll be treated as an individual, listened to and respected every step of the way.
Did you know… Chiropractors are trained to treat all areas of the body, but specialise in assessing, diagnosing and managing conditions of the spine.
Before starting treatment, your chiropractor will do a full assessment, which will involve taking details about your condition, current health and medical history, and perform a full physical examination (to assess the function of your joints, nerves and muscles) to help make a diagnosis.
If you’ve seen a chiropractor before but it’s your first time seeing Philippa, you might be surprised at just how different her treatment and treatment programmes can be. Philippa often refers to her metaphorical “treatment toolbox”- the skills and treatment modalities she has to choose from which she tailors to your needs based on what’s wrong and what type of treatment you would prefer. This means each and every patient receives an entirely new and individual treatment programme, based on your requirements.
Does back pain worsen around Christmas-time? If you asked us, we’ve got enough anecdotal evidence to say yes. But why is that? Clinic gets busier, our patients report symptoms are worse and then blame it on the weather… Now why is this? Well, simply put, as we get towards the festive period and the existing stress in our lives is ramped up yet another notch, we often start to see physical manifestations of underlying stress rear their ugly heads in the form of pain and illness.
Now, it’s not news that stress plays a part in pain and disease. What we’re interested in is chronic stress, and how this can make us ill.I wanted to find out more about the role of chronic stress,so I’ve been working my way through a reading list, including “Why Zebra’s Don’t Get Ulcers” by Robert Sapolsky. Now, this blog isn’t really about the inner workings of a zebra’s digestive system, it’s a book which focuses on why we as humans have developed a whole range of accumulative diseases as a result of living our lives chronically stressed. It explains how our body adapts to stress and details what the healthcare profession have had to learn in order to manage our patient’s stress.
Where we used to be killed off by cholera, influenza and leprosy (which did the job fairly quickly, it has to be said), we now suffer long, slow diseases that come about as the result of gradually accumulating a number of healthcare issues. Cancer. Heart disease. Strokes.
In the words of Mr Sapolsky, “Chronic stress can make you sick.”
So why don’t zebras get ulcers? Simply put, zebras don’t get ulcers because they don’t spend hours, days, or weeks stressing about making the mortgage repayment. Or worrying about your big project which needs completing by the end of the month. They worry about if a lion is going to eat them in the next 10 minutes. Their stress is short and to-the-point. It’s only we humans who have geared ourselves up physiologically to have all sorts of physical manifestations to stressful events generated entirely in our heads. If you’ve ever experienced sweaty palms or a racing heartbeat whilst thinking about what might go wrong then you know what I mean. Zebras just don’t do that.
It’s safe to say most of us nowadays live our lives in a state of chronic stress. We don’t take time to look after ourselves and truly de-stress (a soak in a bath doesn’t count!)
What does chronic stress do to our bodies?
In short- chronic stress wreaks havoc. Your body’s response to an acute stressor is perfectly suited for its job. You’re home alone and hear footsteps upstairs- your heart starts racing, blood pressure and breathing rate increase as your body prepares to transport nutrients and oxygen to your muscles STAT. Why?
Because your muscles are going to need that energy as you hot-foot it out the door faster than Usain Bolt! Your body also shuts down digestion (because absorbing dinner suddenly isn’t so important) growth and tissue repair stop, senses are sharpened, sexual drive decreases, and the immune system becomes inhibited (there’s plenty of time to hunt for tumours in a week or so- right now, all your body cares about is getting out of the house and out of danger pronto). Oh, and another neat feature: To stop your body going into shock from extreme pain, your pain perception is decreased. Handy!
So- all good responses from the body and we’re out of danger now thankyouverymuch. But what happens if that stressor doesn’t go away? If your stressor is a busy desk job in a Fortune 500 company, you’ll never be able to switch off the stress response. You might find your heart rate stays at about 180/100 and steers you towards an early heart attack. Your digestion is going haywire, tissue healing and recovery is halted so nothing is ever repaired (hello ulcers!). Not only that, but you’ll never store any surplus energy because your body is mobilised to use it all straight away, and you’ll fatigue quickly.
Sounds bad, doesn’t it? It doesn’t stop there though. Illnesses and viruses will be easier to pick up and harder to recover from if your immune system is permanently compromised. This becomes particularly noticeable at this time of year when germs and viruses are floating around. You’ll be shaping up for a very snotty Christmas indeed if you’re stressed!
Stress disrupts our lives. It can make us very ill. As a chiropractor, my chronically stressed patients have widespread muscular tension and sometimes heightened sensitivity to pain. They suffer from headaches or jaw pain, visual disturbances, lower back pain, tummy upsets… Stress causes changes in our nervous system and can result in muscle tension, spasm, and pain. Now, I can adjust their neck to alleviate the headache, but that won’t help if the headache is a result of chronic stress. We need to manage their stress and anxiety or the headaches will just keep coming back (as any of my patients will tell you- I’m focussed on the long-term resolution.)
So what are we going to do about stress?
There are various management techniques and these all work for different people- you’ll have to find what works for you.
Exercise: A simple place to start is with exercise- being physically fit can lower blood pressure, resting heart rate and increase your lung capacity (yes- directly counteracting the effects of stress). Simply put, exercise releases endorphins and endorphins make you happy PLUS it increases your feeling of self-efficacy and achievement. Instead of sitting at a desk getting tense, you’ll be using your stress response for what it’s meant to do- explosive activity! That’s how exercise can be a powerful way of reducing stress.
There are a few caveats to this though:
Exercise only works to reduce stress if you want to exercise. Your friends forcing you into a spin class isn’t going to help!
It’s effects are short-lived, lasting only for 24-48 hours. So you have to do it regularly to see the benefit.
Too much exercise or overtraining can produce a stress response.
Psychotherapy: For natural stress-heads (or, to use the correct term- type A personality), psychotherapy can change your behaviour, lower cholesterol levels and reduce your risk of a heart attack. Stress often depends on how we view problems, and some studies have found that in the face of terrible news, denial and hope are strong coping mechanisms. Don’t accept a poor prognosis and hope for the best- miracles can’t happen.
Ommm… Zen: Meditation is another interesting one. It can decrease glucocorticoid levels and decrease muscle tone/tension. But again, studies show that it works while meditating, but doesn’t necessarily have a long-term effect.
Social Support: In the immortal words of the Beatles, “I get by with a little help from my friends.” Giving and receiving support from the right friends is going to help, as will the support of a partner or spouse. A problem shared is a problem halved!
What about control?
If you’ve downloaded our resource “Understanding Pain” you’ll already know all about this. If you haven’t downloaded it, we’d suggest you do! Control and belief in your own self-efficacy is a powerful thing. Whilst you can’t have full control over the fact that you have stressful projects to complete, you can gather information about how long the project is going to take for you to complete, what the goals are and who you’ll be working with. This predictive information about impending stressors can help to reduce your stress levels by giving you some control over the situation. This is in much the same way that learning about chronic pain can help you control, cope with and reduce your pain.
The caveat to this is that control isn’t always such a good thing psychologically. If, for example, you have control over a situation that ends up disastrously, that’s going to be completely detrimental to your psychological health. Believing that everything challenge in life can be overcome “provided we work hard for it”, can leave you in a stressed heap in the corner.
How do you cope?
We also need to talk about cognitive flexibility. This is the ultimate ability to “cope”. Try problem-solving the issue and working out if it’s the stressor that needs altering, or your perception of it that does. This can be hugely stress-reducing. Admit that you’re finding something stressful and rely on social support from friends and loved ones- they’ll want to help. You’ll need a selection of coping strategies to effectively deal with stress. You might have a tendency to try to cope with an event, fail, and then go back in and try to cope even harder with the same strategies. If a cup of tea and a chat with friends hasn’t worked, try something different. A meditation class. The gym. Yoga. Speak to a psychotherapist. During times of stress, finding the right coping mechanism for you is critical.
Here’s our ultimate stress-busting check list:
Find ways to view even the most stressful situation as holding the promise of hope and improvement. But don’t deny the possibility that things will not improve. As they say, “hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.”
Take the time to look after yourself, using coping mechanisms that work for you. However, don’t give ulcers to others to avoid getting them yourself. You might find that a midnight drumming session is just the trick to soothe your nerves, but it’s going to make your neighbour’s life awful!
What can you predict about the upcoming stressful events in your life? Is your toddler likely to have an over-stimulation meltdown in the middle of Christmas lunch? If so, plan for a quiet hour beforehand to allow them to settle and calm. Guests coming for Christmas dinner and worried about cooking? Gather as much information as you can about them before you turn on the oven! Are there any food allergies, what can you prepare instead? Gather as much information about the upcoming stressors as you can, and then implement a plan to help you cope.
Accept the things we cannot change
In this blog we’ve learnt about just how stress can impact on our lives and wreak havoc in our bodies. There’s no one way to avoid stress- moving to a remote desert island is going to give you all sorts of acute stresses like our poor zebras. (Just think about all the poisonous critters who might see you as a tasty treat!) Fortunately there are numerous ways in which we can cope with and reduce the stress we experience.
The real world is full of stress yet many of these issues aren’t real, we’re worrying over what might happen. Imagined stressors can take over our lives with worry in anticipation of a horrible event happening. It may happen, it may not- worrying about it isn’t going to make it any easier to cope with!
Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.
Here it is, the oh-so-predictable New Year’s Resolution post about a “New Year, New You.” We’re going to bypass that this year in favour of something far more important. Whilst New Year’s Resolutions which centre around going to the gym, getting fitter or putting more of an emphasis on our health are fantastic, we want you to spare a thought for your joints before you start a new exercise regime. Search online for “getting fit quotes” and the words that pop up most frequently are “pain”, “hurt”, “sore”, “skinny” or “burn”. Whilst some pain is normal and to be expected, this has given rise to a worrying influx in the number of sport-related injuries we’ve seen from athletes “training through the pain”.
Most sporting injuries occur from what we call the Terrible Toos- doing too much, too soon. After not working out for months or years, people come in and try to run 5 miles or lift 200 lbs at their first session. Their deconditioned, unprepared muscles can’t cope with the action and so injury occurs. We then have to recover from the injury by which point our motivation for our New Year’s resolution is gone. You won’t become Batman (or Catwoman) in one workout session, so please please please train properly and spare a thought for injury prevention this year.
So how does injury occur?
Injury, particularly sports injury, occurs through direct or indirect trauma to muscles, ligaments, and joint capsules. Injury takes two forms- direct and indirect. Direct trauma or injury occurs through blunt trauma or a sudden overload- so dropping a weight on your foot would be a direct trauma (HINT: Don’t do it!)
Indirect trauma or injury occurs from repeated submaximal loading. (When we refer to joint loading, what we mean is the force that is put on a load-bearing or weight-bearing joint during exercise.) This could be therefore be repetitive injury to your elbows when lifting, or your knee when running. Indirect trauma can therefore occur through repetitive lifting of weights, running, or any activity that “loads” a joint.
Regardless of direct or indirect trauma, the end result is still the same- tissue dysfunction that is characterised through pain, inflammation, and internal tissue stress. This can lead to what is known as “functional disability”, where you’re able to go about your day-to-day life largely without issue, but your training or exercise regime is impaired. Not what you want when you’re motivated to get to the gym!
Why does injury occur?
Whilst some sports injury occurs through direct trauma- such as a rugby tackle, overuse injuries are more common in sports than acute injuries. These are subtle and occur over time, hence why early detection and diagnosis is key. Faulty movement patterns, joint restriction or muscle dysfunction can be detected by your chiropractor which can help to identify those who are at risk of an overuse injury and provide advice on injury prevention, modification of exercises, adaptations to technique or treatment if appropriate.
Researchers have reported that impact forces of up to 550% the normal force load are transmitted to our joints when running, with impact forces between 4 to 8 times higher than those during normal walking. Much as you wouldn’t lift a heavy weight without putting some thought into it first (if you even decided to lift it at all!) we need to put some thought into how well equipped our bodies are to cope with these additional stresses and strains before we hit the gym. This is why launching into a fitness regime without putting some thought into how you’re going to do it and how you’re going to protect yourself whilst doing it can be crucial.
Coping with this degree of stress can be challenging enough even for joints that are well-adapted to this degree of stress, but if you are starting a new exercise regime or perhaps picking up a new activity, your joints need some time to adapt to the new activity. They also need to be ready and able to cope with this degree of stress. This is where chiropractic comes in.
How does chiropractic help?
Chiropractors are primary healthcare professionals who are trained to diagnose, treat, manage and prevent disorders of the musculoskeletal system (bones, joints and muscles), as well as the effects these can have on the nervous system and general health.
Chiropractors are often thought to only “crack backs” and only treat back pain. Much like your GP wouldn’t prescribe the same pill for an ear infection as they would for high blood pressure, so a chiropractor doesn’t just perform spinal manipulation for a bad back. It entirely depends on the nature of the injury, the level of pain, and most importantly, your personal preferences (it all comes down to teamwork!) Chiropractors have a vast array of treatment options they can offer and chiropractic care can be crucial in injury prevention because chiropractic emphasises the correct functioning of all joints, muscles, tendons and ligaments in your body to ensure you are performing at your very best. Whether you are an elite athlete, a gym newbie, or perhaps a keen sportsperson returning from injury, chiropractic can be crucial in identifying dysfunction prior to an injury occurring.
A crucial part of treatment at Acorn Health is helping you to develop a firm understanding of how your body works, how pain and problems can occur and how to prevent it. We work with you to develop a new fitness routine and training programme with appropriate exercises that will enable you to strengthen and stabilise your joints whilst reducing your risk of picking up an injury.
So whilst you’re dusting off your trainers and wrangling your way into your sports kit, spare a thought for your joints, and spare a thought for injury prevention.
If you would like to receive our “Injury for Runners” resource, detailing the most common types of running injuries, the mechanism of injury, preventative measures and more useful information, please complete your details below.
[yikes-mailchimp form=”1″ submit=”Sign up to receive “Injury for Runners” resource”]