Back pain is one of the most common reasons people consult osteopaths. Back pain affects over 80% of the population at some stage of their lives, and that figure is ever growing. Back pain may vary from a slight niggling ache to sharp debilitating pain that can affect every part of the back and also radiate to other areas of the body. Some causes of back pain include bad posture, poor seating, unsupportive beds and pillows, incorrect lifting, sedentary lifestyle, stress (both physical and mental), trauma, sports injuries, pregnancy, general 'wear and tear', the list goes on.
Osteopathy is the natural and drug free way to combat back pain. For a long-term solution to lower back pain, one cannot look towards painkillers. They do not offer a permanent solution, and the problem may get worse with time.
Back pain can be a debilitating disease or just a little niggle - but any sign of pain means that there is something that needs checking out.
The discs between the bony vertebrae of the spine act as shock absorbers. Technically, discs cannot slip. However, they can bulge, collapse and even rupture. Road traffic accidents or lifting are common ways of causing a disc injury. The bulging disc can compress the spinal cord and nerves and produce pain, tingling or numbness both locally and distant from the site of the problem. Disc injury can also come from degeneration of the spine. Slipped discs are a serious problem that could have you off work for months. You may find that the pain will eventually subside. However, if spinal dysfunction remains uncorrected, you may develop irreversible changes in the spine that can cause problems later on in life. We can determine whether osteopathic treatment is appropriate for your case. Most patients find good improvement in their symptoms and are soon able to return to normal daily activities without painkillers and without surgery.
The pain may hit suddenly like a lightening bolt, or may be like an excruciating "toothache" in your legs - either way sciatica is an extremely painful experience. Early Sciatic Pain is often so mild it can be ignored. But this is the stage when it¹s vital to come and see me for a diagnosis . Sciatica is a general term describing pain from irritation or compression of the sciatic nerve, which originates in the low back. Its symptoms are generally pain down the back of one or both legs and can sometimes be felt in the ankles, feet & toes. Even when sciatica originates from the lower part of the spine, low back pain isn¹t necessarily present. A prolapsed disc may cause sciatica but there are other conditions, such as spinal decay, that can cause irritation of the sciatic nerve. I am trained to assess a patient to ascertain what the cause of sciatica is. Sometimes we may need to work in conjunction with other health care professionals to enable the patient to receive the best management for their condition.
Pinched nerves are relatively rare. Whilst it is not very common to have a bone compressing a nerve, it is common for a nerve to be irritated by the inflammation caused by abnormal function or loading of the spinal vertebra. I have been trained to relieve the pressure on the nerves caused by spinal misalignments or tight muscles. Irritation and compression of nerves can result in pain, muscle weakness, pins and needles, numbness or even a burning sensation. Once the exact location of nerve irritation has been identified, we can then get on with the job of getting you out of pain and helping you on the road to recovery.
Leg pain doesn¹t always mean there is something wrong with the leg itself. Because of the way your nervous system functions, you may, for example, have pain in your foot when the problem actually lies in your lower back. We will be able to identify whether the source of your problem is where you feel the pain, or if it is radiating from another part of your body, and then treat you accordingly.
Today¹s modern lifestyle often causes problems in the neck and shoulder area. Poor work posture, repetitive tasks and stress can all cause pain, discomfort and muscle tension in the neck, at the base of the skull and over the top of the shoulders. These problems are often associated with frequent headaches. Problems can arise weeks, months or even years later. Speak to us to find out how we can help reduce your painful symptoms
Whiplash is a common car accident injury. Whiplash can occur even at relatively low impact speeds and does not necessarily cause any pain at the time of the accident, due to the body¹s ability to compensate for injuries. Problems can arise weeks, months or even years later. Injuries to the neck caused by sudden movements of the head either backward,sideways or forwards take the framework of the spine beyond its normal limits with the vertebrae being forced out of normal position and function.
The violent movement can cause the muscles, ligaments and tendons supporting the spine and head to be overstretched and torn. The shock absorbers of the spine, the discs, can bulge, tear or rupture. The nerve roots and the spinal cord can become stretched and irritated. The driver and passengers can receive a considerable amount of soft tissue injury which can lead to instability of the spine.
The symptoms that can arise from this tissue damage and resultant instability are as follows:
We will diagnose and treat your condition using manual techniques to return your framework to normal function. If caught early enough the inflammation can be reduced and often the scar tissue can be minimised. We advise against the use of standard neck collars as they can cause the supportive muscles to weaken, lengthening the recovery time.
Arm and shoulder pain isn¹t always as clear-cut as it would seem. Sometimes the hidden cause can be far more complicated. The anatomy of your shoulder makes it vulnerable to injury. As with leg pain, the most important thing to do is to determine what is causing the symptoms. We have been trained to accurately diagnose the problem and treat accordingly. Whether the pain is arising from a frozen shoulder, tennis/golfers elbow, carpal tunnel syndrome, repetitive strain injury, sports injuries, awkward sleeping positions, or the way you sit at work for 8 hours a day, your osteopath will explain to you the best course of action. Most problems can be related to a large nerve outlet called the brachial plexus. The nerves that service your arms and shoulders all meet here before they branch off. All it takes is a compressed nerve to throw the whole system off balance. This can cause tingling in the fingers, and unpleasant feelings of heat, cold and swelling. Osteopathy aims to relieve the compressed nerve by realigning the spine, reducing muscle tension and therefore relieving the pressure on the nerve.
Because headaches are so common, some people think they are a normal part of life. Painkillers might give some relief from your headaches, but they do not address the cause of the problem. Headaches are common but they are not normal. There are many types of headaches. Tension headaches are often associated with our hectic lifestyle and stress. Migraines can be very debilitating and disturbing. Sometimes there is no headache to speak of, but symptoms may include visual and hearing disturbances, sensitivity to light and sound, nausea, even vomiting. Pain can be felt at the base of the skull, the surface of the head or the face and eyes. It may be felt on both sides or on just one side of the head. Mechanical stress in the form of poorly functioning neck joints can affect the nerves of the face, head and neck. When spinal nerves and associated tissues are stretched or irritated they can produce throbbing headaches. Painkillers just hide the cause, allowing your problem to get worse. Emotional stress can increase muscular tension, especially at the base of the neck, head and jaw. This tension can irritate nerves and upset the blood flow, causing headaches. After we have carefully diagnosed your condition, we can then give you recommendations for care. If yours is not an osteopathic case, we will refer you to the appropriate health care provider.
Many physical, mental and hormonal changes take place during pregnancy and these can put strain on a woman¹s body. I specialise in osteopathy that is suitable and safe throughout your pregnancy. Postural changes during pregnancy can cause low back pain, hip pain, sciatica, pubalgia, and headaches and inhibit the smooth progression of labour. Osteopathy can be successfully applied to relieve these symptoms and help prepare the pregnant body for the best possible birth experience I am able to modify approaches to make osteopathic adjustments to the spine easy and comfortable for the expectant mother and provide a drug free alternative to pain management. We can help during pregnancy by:
Helping to correct mechanical disorders of the joints and muscles that can lead to joint and nerve stress. This reduces pain and improves function.
Maintaining normal joint function and spinal balance. This helps the spine to adapt to the altered posture and weight increase.
Allowing the joints of the pelvis and lower back to move freely which
assists in the birth process. If the musculo-skeletal system is functioning at its maximum it enhances the opening of the pelvis.
If an expectant mother is fortunate enough to not have suffered with any pain during her pregnancy, she may not have consulted an osteopath. Despite being pain free she may still wish to attend a series of sessions, known as Birth Prep, for preventative treatment only. These sessions commence at approximately week 36 of pregnancy and are designed to ensure the mother is physically in the best shape for achieving the optimum birth experience. The treatment usually involves an assessment of the mobility of the spine and pelvis, and an examination of the tone of the spinal and hip muscles. The patient is normally lying comfortably on her side for this. If the muscles are too tight they can hold the back and pelvis in a state of tension at the time of labour, with a resulting increase in labour pain and possibly even increasing the duration of labour. Muscle tension is treated with specific massage and stretching techniques. The effect is usually quite a rapid change to a relaxed state. Both sides of the spine and pelvis are treated in this way. The bones of the pelvis are examined next to check the position and mobility are as correct as is possible. If the baby is sitting correctly the pelvis should exhibit a rotation one way or the other. The sacrum and coccyx should be happy to allow this rotation to take place and the ligaments and muscle that act on the sacrum and coccyx should be relaxed and balanced. The treatment at this stage is extremely effective at releasing old strains within the pelvis which may still be unresolved but which the body has accommodated for. Finally the osteopath works cranially to ensure the cranium is moving in harmony with the pelvis. If this is working correctly then the pituitary gland, which sits on and within the cranium, will be able to function well. This is an essential factor in the production of the hormone Oxytocin, which is the hormone that is responsible for efficient uterine contractions. As the cervix stretches with each contraction, a reflex of stimulation to the pituitary causes more Oxytocin to be released and this makes for a good progressive labour. Osteopathic treatment at this stage of pregnancy is also very relaxing. The hormones released during times of stress (adrenaline) are counterproductive to strong uterine contractions because oxytocin (the hormone responsible for contractions) cannot be released at the same time as adrenaline. Therefore the more relaxed the expectant mum is the more likely she is to have a good birth experience.
Osteopathy recognises the particular stresses on the body undergone by children as they grow from babies to teenagers and a gentle treatment approach is used to work with children of all ages.
Osteopaths treat babies, children and teenagers for a range of conditions.
Trauma during pregnancy and birth, childhood accidents and falls, or simply the rapid changes of the body's growth can create or contribute to problems associated with bones, muscles, ligaments, tendons and nerves. Other issues faced by children include posture problems, inflammatory conditions and sporting injuries.
Rapidly growing children and teenagers can often suffer with musculo skeletal symptoms as a result of physiological changes in the body associated with growth. Apart from aches and pains associated with postural changes and the stress associated with being a young adult, there are several named conditions frequently encountered.
Osgood Schlatter's Disease - this is inflammation of the bone and cartilage at the top of the shinbone, just below the kneecap. It is predominantly found in boys between 10 and 15 years of age and is caused when the tendon of the kneecap (patellar tendon) pulls excessively on its point of attachment on the top of the shinbone (tibia). It causes pain, swelling and tenderness at the top of the shin. It is caused by the quadriceps muscle of the thigh being stronger than the highly vascular, rapidly growing, relatively softer bone it is attached to. With osteopathic treatment, using soft tissue massage and joint articulation, the symptoms usually disappear after weeks or months.
Scheurmann's Disease - this is a common condition associated with persistent mild backache, usually just above the waist crease. Again it is a problem of rapid growth and is caused by the discs, temporarily stronger then the bong vertebrae, re-moulding the vertebrae and causing a mild spinal deformity. The deformity, barely perceptible to the untrained eye, can cause backache. With osteopathic treatment local muscle tone and inflammation can be reduced and good spinal function maintained throughout the rest of the spine, reducing, if not eliminating symptoms.
Scoliosis - This is a general term meaning sideways curvature of the spine. About 4% of all children aged 10 to 14 years have detectable scoliosis with 60-80% of all cases occurring in girls. The curve may be the result of a birth defect but when it develops later, often in teenage years, in approximately 75% of cases no cause can be found. The curve may lead to one shoulder or one side of the pelvis being higher than the other. Symptoms, if any, are fatigue in the back with prolonged sitting or standing that may progress to muscle pain and eventually more severe pain. Treatment depends on the severity of the curve. Mild symptoms can be treated very successfully with osteopathic intervention although it may not be possible to eliminate the curve altogether. I am trained to work with the muscles and joints to reduce the strain as a result of a scoliosis, to diminish inflammation and restore good function.
The most common type of arthritis is osteoarthritis, also called degenerative arthritis. 75% of people over the age of 65 have some x-ray evidence of osteoarthritis and 65% of people over 65 have symptoms from osteoarthritis. This type of arthritis begins years before any bone changes are found on x-ray. The impact of this disease process can be profound and the suffering immense. Poorly functioning joints do not tolerate loads and stresses, increasing the likelihood of osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is usually localised to specific sites such as hips, knees and spine and its classic features are pain, stiffness and restricted mobility. Arthritis is a problem of joints, and not a problem of old age. To treat arthritis and eliminate joint pain, an accurate diagnosis of the joint, as well as all of the other possible problem sources, is vital. To treat arthritis with painkillers, without knowing the cause of the joint problem, is foolish. Covering over the pain usually leads to problems in other areas, and does nothing to fix the source of the problem! Injecting cortisone or some other steroid, although affording the patient a degree of pain relief, also causes the cartilage to deteriorate and leads to future joint destruction. Arthritis is not a normal sign of aging so patients don't have to accept this rush to judgement type of diagnosis. I do not take arthritis away but we can often alleviate the pain and movement restriction that is often associated with the condition. we are well suited to play a role in maintaining or increasing joint mobility and function. We are trained to help with many of the problems that the 50 Plus age group encounter by working to reduce the advancement of wear and tear, helping your body to work at its best. Even when there is severe arthritis, gentle osteopathic methods can assist in maintaining a reasonable degree of mobility.
Regular osteopathic care aims to maximise movement and balance of muscles and joints, gently and within their current ability. I am able to advise the patient on specific, patient centred exercises, customising exercises that will allow the necessary muscles to be strengthened. When your muscles are strong, less strain is placed on your joints.
We are all aware of the fact that exercise and fitness is key to a healthy life and a feeling of well-being. Sports injuries that occur from time to time need to be quickly diagnosed and treated to prevent weaknesses and bad compensation for the injury occurring. Injuries often arise when increased demand is applied to a body part that is not functioning properly in the first place. These might include some of the following: - spinal or pelvic misalignment, muscle imbalance and poor posture. The osteopath can assess all these factors, in conjunction with the presenting injury, to resolve the presenting problem and ensure that the body works in a co ordinated and cohesive manner in the future.