Tag: wylye Valley

Acupuncture- what is it, and how does it work?

Acupuncture is often seen as a form of complementary medicine, although it is used nationally in many NHS general practices, as well as the majority of pain clinics and hospices in the UK. It is recommended by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence as a treatment for lower back pain, and a range of other conditions.  If we decide together that acupuncture is a good choice for you within your chiropractic treatment, then we can start there and then!  Our chiropractor Philippa is fully trained and registered to use acupuncture as part of her treatments in clinic.

Acupuncture involves the insertion of needles (which are about the thickness of a human hair) into specific points in your body.  Mention “acupuncture” to someone, and you may think of someone with dozens of needles in their back looking like a hedgehog. It may surprise you to know that we tend to use a maximum of 6 needles in our treatments!  This is because we use a Western medical approach to acupuncture in clinic, which is different to traditional Chinese treatments.

Want to learn more?

A medical approach to acupuncture involves a few essential features:

  • Medical history, examination and clinical investigations (if necessary) are all used to form a diagnosis.
  • An appropriate plan of management, and appropriate needling points are identified.
  • As with all our treatments, the appropriate treatment is given, in a way that is carefully tailored to the individual.  This can mean using more needles (usually up to a maximum of 6), using percutaneous electric nerve stimulation, or increasing the length of time the needles are inserted.
  • Your response to treatment is monitored, and subsequent treatment is determined based on your response to this treatment.

Acupuncture is, in itself, a phenomenon- it produces an unique sensation, can alleviate pain in areas quite far away from where the needle is inserted, and patients have been known to spontaneously report feelings of improved wellbeing and deep sleep after treatment!  This treatment is also a powerful tool for pain relief, and this sometimes occurs immediately after removing the needles; several hours after treatment; or gradually accumulating over a course of several treatments.

So if acupuncture is a phenomenon, with varied responses for each individual, how do we know that it is an appropriate, evidence-based, effective treatment for you?

Here are five mechanisms to help explain how acupuncture works:

1) Acupuncture promotes healing.  It stimulates nerve fibres in the skin and muscle, and this leads to the release of a substance called CGRP- calcitonin gene-related peptide (no, we won’t quiz you on this later!)  This substance causes blood vessels around the needle to dilate, and increases blood flow, which encourages tissue healing.

2) When a needle stimulates nerve fibres, these travel to a specific part of the spinal cord, called the dorsal horn (which helps regulate pain signals). This stimulation helps to reduce the response of the dorsal horn to pain, and this is probably the main mechanism by which acupuncture relieves pain, and what it is most commonly used for.

3) These nerve signals then transmit up to the brain, and stimulate the body’s pain-suppressing mechanisms.  (Yes, our body can suppress pain- think about the times when you haven’t noticed a scratch or a graze because you’ve been concentrating on something else). This is why acupuncture is so helpful, as it can suppress pain throughout the entire body.

4) Parts of our brain that control emotion, behaviour and sleep are also stimulated by acupuncture, and so acupuncture has a calming effect and can improve our feeling of wellbeing.

5) When our muscles are strained or injured, it develops a small area of damage (called a trigger point) which can be slow to heal and can cause persistent pain.  Acupuncture helps to deactivate and reduce these trigger points.

If you would like to find out more about this type of treatment, what it can be used for and whether it could be a good option for you, book an appointment with us today!

Back pain in children

Do you have back pain? Do you remember when it started? A lot of our patients don’t, it’s just “crept on over the years”, which often means that it is mistaken as an “older person’s problem”.  Unfortunately, back pain is something that is becoming more of a problem in younger generations (one study of 34,076 participants found that over 50% first experienced back pain before the age of 20!)

So why is back pain affecting young people? Let’s divert slightly and talk about teeth for a minute- most babies cut their first tooth at around 6 months old.  This is when parents then bring out the baby toothpaste and start encouraging healthy dental hygiene habits.  Babies can start to roll from the age of 4 months, and gradually progress through important developmental milestones, but when do we start promoting healthy spine habits in our children?  Unfortunately, we don’t.  It’s an area that has, and continues to be, overlooked.  Our aim is to promote healthy postural habits in children of all ages to help them grow “from little acorns to mighty oaks” and avoid having back, neck and postural pain.

You can help us do this, by continuing to promote healthy habits in your children as they grow up and start going to school.  A recent study published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood analysed 1403 children, and found that 61.4% of these children had backpacks that weighed in excess of 10% of the child’s bodyweight!  Those carrying the heaviest backpacks and a 50% higher risk of back pain, and girls had a higher risk of back pain in comparison to boys.

What can I do to help?

  • Babies:  Minimise the amount of time spent in baby equipment.  Yes, it’s easier to pop munchkin into a baby carrier so you have your hands free, but babies often spend their time being transferred from bouncer to car seat to baby swing back to car seat, and get very little time to develop the new motor skills that come from being able to wriggle around, practice, and experience using their arms and legs!  Occasional use is fine, but just be aware that every minute that little one is in baby equipment, is a minute of lost experience, so try to give them as much wriggle time as possible!
  • School aged children: Check your children’s rucksacks when they get in from school- remove any books that don’t need to be there.  (A good opportunity to also remove the toys, twigs, sweetie wrappers, stones or anything else that has been “acquired” by kiddo throughout the school day!) Also, don’t underestimate the importance of good footwear. Children are forever running around and supportive, soft-soled shoes with a good grip will make it easier for your little one to carry a school bag and avoid strains or sprains from poorly-fitting footwear.
  • Teenagers: Encourage regular breaks.  Yes, schoolwork is important, but taking a break every 30 minutes will help to stop postural pains and stresses from creeping on.  Ensure their desks are set up suitably- if you’d like some advice about workstation ergonomics and correct setup, let us know!

Remember- if your child continues to report back pain, it is important to consult a medical professional for appropriate advice.  If you would like more information, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us!

If you have any further questions you’d like to ask, please feel free to get in touch.

Water

What is the single best drink for your health?

We recommend you visit this youtube link to find out more about why water is and will always be the best drink for you and your healthy body. Click here to see more.

Going out for a run this morning? Did you know that at even 5% dehydration, your maximal performance will have reduced from 100% to 70%!

Water is often ignored, and passed-up in favour of more exciting drinks, but it is the single best thing that we can consume to help our bodies function properly and recover quickly.

Ice or heat: Which is best for back pain?

When you’re struggling with back, neck or joint pain, you’ve probably been told to try ice or heat to relieve pain. Whether that’s an ice pack, a cold (or hot) bath, freeze sprays, heat rubs, or a good old hot water bottle, it’s something that’s synonymous with healing.

But which one is really best?

Let’s find out…

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Living without pain: The benefits of regular chiropractic care

We get annual health checks with our GP. We go for routine dental checkups. We eat healthily. We hydrate. We exercise. All these things we do to maintain our body- but what can we do specifically to maintain our spine?

Chiropractic care focuses on helping your body function at its peak. Chiropractors work to restore movement in joints that are stiff and not moving as they should, relieving tension in muscles, tendons and ligaments. This can help improve your flexibility, reduce pain, help your joints stabilise and of course have you feeling GREAT.

Whilst many people come to see us because pain or discomfort is preventing them from enjoying their day-to-day life, we often see patients for regular check-ups to help maintain their musculoskeletal system. It might be tempting to seek care only when things hurt. Pain is usually the last symptom to arrive and the first symptom to go. Before our brain will tell us something hurts, it will first process a vast amount of information before deciding if we need to experience pain. This means that there is often a threshold, where we can accumulate problems within our body that do not cause us pain until they’ve got to a more serious level.

So you can see, having regular appointments can help prevent problems from accumulating, helping you to avoid pain and keep functioning well

What is pain?

Pain is our body’s way of telling us there’s something wrong. It’s your best friend, and how our body serves to protect us. When we experience pain, we take action. It therefore makes sense that when our body is truly fed up with us ignoring something, it produces pain so we DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. A common misconception is that pain is produced by injured structures- but we now know that pain, no matter where or how it is felt, is produced by the brain.

Pain shouldn’t be ignored

It’s all too tempting to ignore pain, which is like putting duct tape across a “check engine” light in your car. Sooner or later, it’s going to cause a problem. We know that when people seek care during the early stages of a problem, they recover quicker and better than those who wait and see if the pain goes away on its own.

If, for example, your pain is caused by a joint that isn’t moving correctly, the pain may settle as your body learns to adapt to that faulty joint. Later on, the pain may reoccur and may be worse each time it does, because this time it’s accompanied by a bigger problem- the faulty adaptations your body has made to cope with that dysfunctional joint. It’s hugely beneficial to get the problem addressed quickly and effectively as soon as it happens.

If you are one of the many people who has ongoing problems, chronic conditions, or a jobs that requires prolonged sitting or physical exertion, regular chiropractic care may be an option for you to consider.

How often should I see a chiropractor?

Research shows that those who seek regular care (usually 3-4 appointments per year) experience almost a month less pain than those who come in when it hurts. Regular dental checkups help ensure your mouth and gums are healthy (with no potential problems looming on the horizon). A chiropractic check-up ensures your spine and nervous system are healthy and able to cope with the demands of daily life.

A study conducted by the National Institutes for Health (NIH) has found that spinal adjustments or mobilisations are an effective treatment for adults with acute, subacute, and chronic low back pain, migraine prevention, and cervicogenic headache. They are also effective for several extremity joint conditions affecting our arms and legs.  Thoracic manipulation also offers healing benefits to people with acute or subacute neck pain.

Regular visits to a chiropractor helps ensure the continued health of your muscles and joints so you can enjoy doing what you love. One of the key benefits of regular care is also the preventative aspect. By identifying any areas of your body that are not functioning correctly, we can help prevent pain and problems from recurring in the future. This can help ensure you remain healthy, active and pain-free, reducing your likelihood of needing time off work or being unable to enjoy life due to pain. Should any problems happen, regular care can help you recover faster, reducing the severity, duration and intensity of the problem.

How can I book an appointment?

Our highly experienced chiropractor Philippa can help – Book your appointment here.

Lifting to avoid back pain

Back injury is the number one cause of days off work in the UK,  and so injury prevention and rapid return to work of injured workers is a major focus of industries throughout the world.  The burden of low back pain is huge, both financially for companies, and emotionally for workers.  Reducing injury at work is crucial, for both employee and employer.

Many companies try and counterract this by paying for employees to take manual lifting courses, teaching us to “bend through the knees and hip, not the back.” Unfortunately, this conventional method of lifting isn’t always possible, or appropriate.  Objects have to be lifted from the floor, from parts bins, from above- any number of possibilities, and so this conventional lift won’t help avoid injury in these situations.

The thought process behind a conventional lift is that it reduces physiological load (the amount of stress put on your joints and muscles) and is more energy efficient, however the validity of this depends on a number of different factors, such as the size, weight, and density of the object, coupled with where we are moving it from and to, over which terrain, and how many times we have to repeat the lift.  Squatting repeatedly throughout the day is physically tiring, and we know that many workers end up stooping to lift objects as they tire throughout the day.

If there is no one perfect lift, how do we help avoid injury?

  • Remove the stressors that are causing or aggravating the injury
  • Enhance the activities that build healthy supportive tissues

Injuries don’t often occur as the result of one major event- often because minor injuries accumulate over time, amounting to pain and problems when eventually the structures are no longer able to cope with what is being asked of them.  It is therefore more important to address the cumulative causes of the injury in order to prevent reoccurrence.

You may think that injuries are more common in those with physical jobs, however injuries are just as prevalent in those who have sedentary jobs.  Gagnon (2003) studied “expert lifters” and concluded that their personal body movements, as well as their individual lifting strategies, were key to their avoidance of injury- in fact some evidence exists to suggest that our personal spine movements (how we naturally move our backs) can influence whether or not we will become injured.

Olympic weightlifters often provide the best example of lifting technique, as they have recognised the importance of avoiding lumbar flexion (bending from the lower back) to prevent injury.  We therefore need to stop emphasising the importance of stooping or squatting to lift, and instead work on placing the load closer to the body to help reduce forces on our joints, and avoiding full flexion of our lumbar spines when lifting.  This avoidance of full flexion is really the key element in lifting.

So what other lifting techniques could be used?

Here’s two alternatives for the conventional technique and when they could be used.

Golfer’s lift-

When to use: Great for picking up light objects out of deep bins/containers or picking up small objects off the floor

How:

1- Place one hand on a stable surface next to the object to be lifted- this is to help stabilise your upper body during the lift.

2-  Keeping your back straight, lean forward, allowing the leg opposite the stabilising hand to swing out straight behind you as you lean down.  This will act as a counterbalance to the weight of your body.

3- Prepare for the lift: Look forward, and begin to push down on the stable surface with your hand as you lower your leg to the floor.  Focus on keeping your spine straight.

Tips: Good for people with knee problems.

Tripod lift-

When to use: Good for heavy objects with uneven weight distribution (such as sacks of food)

How:

1- Put one foot next to the object, keep your spine straight, push your buttocks out and lower yourself down to the floor, keeping one knee bent up, one knee on the floor.

2-  Position the object close to the knee on the ground.

3- Slide the object from the ground on to the mid-thigh of the knee on the ground.

4- Keeping your spine straight, lift the object on to the opposite thigh.

5-  Palms upwards, put both forearms under the object and hug it into your chest.

6- Prepare for the lift: Extend your legs with your back straight, pushing your buttocks out, keeping the load held close to your body.

Tips: This is a good lift for people who may not have great arm strength.

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Website Created by WebHolism