What is a “slipped disc”?
The first thing to say about a slipped disc is that it hasn’t “slipped”! This is a complete misnomer as discs can’t slip, they are held in place with strong ligaments. However, they can bulge and press against a nerve root in the spine and worse case…can rupture! More often the main problem with discs is that the start to thin and dry out as we get older, meaning that their ability to absorb shock is reduced. The small spinal joints which control our movements are subsequently pushed closer together leading to wear and tear, inflammation and arthritis.
Most people with a “slipped disc” experience pain on one side of the body that starts slowly and gets worse over time. The pain you experience when a disc presses on a nerve is often worse when you put pressure on the nerve. This can happen when you cough, sneeze or sit down.
However, some people with a slipped disc do not have any obvious symptoms. This is usually because the part of the disc that bulges out is small or does not press on the nerves or spinal cord.
A slipped disc in the lower back can cause:
- back pain during movement
- numbness or a tingling sensation in the back, buttocks, genitals, legs or feet
The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in the body and is made up of several smaller nerves. It runs from the back of the pelvis, through the buttocks and down the legs to the feet.
If a slipped disc is putting pressure on the sciatic nerve, it can lead to pain in the leg, hip or buttocks. This is known as Sciatica.
I can assess whether or not your discs are bulging and give you appropriate treatment and advice to help stop the condition from getting worse.
For more information click here
Top tips to avoid Back Pain while Gardening
When the spring arrives it’s tempting to get out in the garden and do as much as we can while the weather is dry! Repetitive actions such as weeding, digging and using the wheelbarrow can lead to back trouble. Here are some tips to help our backs from becoming injured:
- Have the right tools for the job at the right size.
- Go for a short walk and do some gentle warm up stretches for your legs and back before you start.
- Having raised flower beds or narrow borders can prevent bending and over reaching.
- Weeding is best done using long handled tools or by kneeling. Use a kneeling pad, especially if you already have problems with your knees and don’t stick at it for too long.
- When working on your hands and knees, keep your spine long and your shoulders relaxed.
- Avoid repetitive bending over to pick up the weeds, if doing it from standing. Leave them in a pile and do them in one go.
- When using a wheelbarrow, don’t overfill it. Think and bend from the hips and knees before you lift it. Don’t use your back for this.
- Don’t stick at the same activity for too long, listen to your muscles. If you’re feeling the muscles complain, stop and have a break or do something else.
- When you’ve finished, do some cool down stretches for those hard worked muscles. Finish the day off with a warm bath!
- Remember, it’s often normal to feel some stiffness or mild ache in muscles the next day after unaccustomed exercise. It doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve done yourself harm!
If you’re unsure if you’ve strained you back, I can assess you to make sure and reduce tension in the muscles with appropriate osteopathic treatment.
07547 631679 / 01625 533813
Why is Sleep Important in helping Back Pain?
When back pain affects you, you might despair of ever getting a good nights sleep. Not getting enough sleep or poor quality sleep can actually make you more sensitive to pain. It can be a vicious circle if back pain makes it harder to sleep and when you can’t sleep your back pain seems worse!
Here are a few tips which may help:
- Establish a good bedtime routine. Try to go to bed the same time each night.
- Avoid large meals late at night or eat early. Fight after dinner drowsiness. If you get sleepy, do an activity until it’s closer in time to go to bed.
- A warm bath before bed can be relaxing.
- Don’t have alcohol before bed. It may relax you initially but it impairs the quality of sleep.
- Don’t read or watch Television or use an iPad in bed. TV or devices that are backlit suppress melatonin and whatever you’re reading or watching may be more stimulating than relaxing! Listen to music or audio books instead.
- Try a few gentle stretches when you lie down in bed such as pulling your knees to your chest and holding for a few seconds.
- Start off in as comfortable a position as possible such as lying on your side in a foetal position with a pillow between your legs, or on your back with a pillow between your knees.
- Don’t sleep on your stomach. This may be a habit you’ve got into but keeping your back arched backwards often aggravates back pain. To break the habit, sleep in a T-shirt with a pocket and put a ball in the pocket. You’ll know about it if you roll onto your front in the night!
- Make sure the room is dark, try not to have any digital display light on an alarm clock.
- Avoid a lie in on a weekend, it may disturb your usual weekly sleep pattern. If you need to make up for a late night or lost sleep, opt for a day time nap to pay off your sleep debt. Limit it to 20-30 mins in the early afternoon.
Osteopathic soft tissue massage treatment can help ease some of the tensions in your back which may be preventing you from getting comfortable at night.
Osteopathic ‘MOT’ as we get older
Our bodies can be likened to a car that needs regular servicing and maintenance as we get older! We can sometimes feel aches and tensions in our body frame as we get older and a presumption is made that this is to be ‘expected’ and all part of getting older. Osteopathic treatment is aimed at releasing strains and stresses that have often accumulated over the years. Osteopaths treat the whole person not just conditions, so a wide variety of problems that are affecting us can be helped. Do you feel your body needs an Osteopathic ‘MOT’?
Is it too late to do anything about it?
Advancing years can often be associated with the insidious onset of health problems: osteoarthritis, heart and lung problems, circulation problems in the legs, effects of falls/accidents and general symptoms of declining health. However, suffering pain, stiffness and poor health are NOT an inevitable part of getting older!
Many of us will have suffered trauma at some point in our lives from car accidents, sporting injuries or falls. Often people injure themselves at the time and then recover, but sometimes these strains can have a longer effect on the body tissues which can have consequences years later. The body tissues can lose flexibility, elasticity and make the joints more vulnerable to arthritic changes.
Osteopathic treatment can be effective at releasing the residual strains from past traumas and allow the body to function more efficiently. Gentle osteopathic treatment can realise tension in the diaphragm and muscles of the chest, encouraging normal breathing movements and helps the heart and lungs to work to their best potential. It can improve circulation around joints, improving mobility and slowing the rate of further deterioration in the joints.
An occasional ‘MOT’, every few months, would mean keeping everything working well so you can enjoy an active lifestyle. I can also give you advice on preventitive exercises, as well as diet and lifestyle.
BackCare Awareness Week – Caring For Carers
The UK is home to 7 million unpaid carers. These are people who provide care and support to an ailing or disabled family member, friend or neighbour on an ongoing basis. They represent an unpaid and often invisible workforce that saves the Government a staggering £119 billion every year – more than the Government’s entire annual NHS expenditure.
Carers are often exposed to higher than usual levels of physical and emotional stress which puts their own health at risk. Many carers help the person they care for with physical tasks, such as getting in and out of the bed, bath or chairs. In addition to this, the role of carer, especially when caring for a spouse or close family member, can create unique emotional stresses.
Over 70% the UK’s unpaid carers now suffer from back pain, and are a greater risk of developing chronic pain, which is highly disabling in a third of cases and life-long for the majority. The national back pain charity, BackCare is working to help the UK carers with this year’s BackCare Awareness Week (3rd – 8th of October 2016).
During Backcare Awareness Week in Wilmslow, I shall be offering 25% off the first consultation and treatment and 25% off the second follow up treatment for Carers.
For more information contact me on:
Follow me on Twitter @OsteoWilmslow
Why do I hear a ‘Click’ during spinal manipulation?
Osteopaths use a technique called High Velocity Thrust (or HVT) This is a safe, relatively gentle spinal manipulation to restore normal movement and function in the joints of the spine. It takes the joint just slightly further than it is used to going. Although it can sometimes feel as if force is being used, the joint is not taken further than it is capable of moving. Sometimes you hear a clicking or popping noise, however, the noise is perfectly normal is not the sound of a bone crack!
So what is actually happening to cause this sound?
The sound is believed to come from the release of gas bubbles from the joint to which the HVT technique is being applied. Joints are the meeting point of two separate bones, held together and in place by connective tissues and ligaments and surrounded by synovial fluid. Just like when you stretch or bend your finger to pop the knuckle, the bones of the joint are pulled apart and the connective tissue capsule that surrounds the joint becomes stretched. This stretching rapidly increases the volume and decreases the pressure in the joint cavity, causing the gases dissolved in the synovial fluid to become less soluble and form bubbles. When the joint is stretched far enough, the pressure in the capsule drops so low that these bubbles burst, producing that pop that we associate with joint manipulation. See this demonstration.
Does the popping sound always occur?
Patients often listen for the tell-tale noise as a sign that the HVT has worked. However, a pop or click noise will not always be heard – even if a joint has been released. The relaxation of the surrounding muscles and increased movement in the joint are far more important signs of the technique having worked.
June is the beginning of my 25th Anniversary as an Osteopath!
When I graduated from the British School of Osteopathy (BSO) in London in 1991, osteopathy was largely an unregulated profession. Anyone could call themselves an osteopath with little or no formal training. It wasn’t until the passing of the Osteopaths Act in 1993, that statutory recognition was given to osteopathy and the title ‘Osteopath’ became protected so that only those who had done the recognised formal training could call themselves an osteopath.
In 1997 the establishment of the General Osteopathic Council (GOsC) was seen as a body that ‘would embrace all aspects of osteopathy’. The GOsC was given a duty ‘to develop, promote and regulate the profession of osteopathy’. Since its establishment the GOsC has achieved a great deal as a regulator, including:
- The establishment of the Register and the associated entry criteria.
- The setting of a benchmark for osteopathic education and training
- The development of a Code of Practice and Standard of Proficiency
- The introduction of continuing professional development (CPD) and monitoring of compliance.
- Successful prosecution of those unlawfully using the title ‘osteopath’.
All of these activities have played a significant role in establishing osteopathy as a recognised, high-quality and safe healthcare profession, which I am proud to have been a part of for 25 years!