In recent weeks we’ve noticed that there are some common misconceptions in the press and on social media about Chiropractic that are all too often reported as facts. We know it can be hard to know what’s accurate online these days, so this article aims to highlight some of the most common myths whilst delving into them a little. We’re here to dispel the rumours so we can empower our patients in making the right decisions about their own pain management and well-being.
Of course, we’re always at the end of the phone or email if you ever have any questions or want to know more about Chiropractic healthcare and can point you in the direction of official sites that may also help to detangle any queries you may have.
Let’s take a look…
Nope! You do not need to see your GP before making an appointment for chiropractic treatment. Most people who have any kind of chiropractic treatment end up paying for it privately, as it isn’t widely available on the NHS or if it is waiting lists can be too long. It is provided in some areas, so seeking advice from your GP first can be beneficial. However, we are primary care practitioners, meaning we’re trained to diagnose, refer for further investigations (like x-rays), and are able to manage conditions without the need for a GP referral. So, if you’re looking for a faster route to pain management then going directly to a Chiropractic clinic is definitely advised.
Did you know that Chiropractic is recognised by the World Health Organisation? And that in the UK chiropractors will train at a world-wide accredited college or university, full-time for 4-5 years, and often to a Masters level? Our training encompasses general diagnosis, neurology, extensive radiology, as well as more relevant subjects to Chiropractic care. We are all licensed as primary health care practitioners, and as chiropractors we focus on the treatment and prevention of disorders of the neuromusculoskeletal system, and how these disorders may affect your general health.
This simply isn’t true. If you are seen by a professional, registered chiropractor you are always going to be in safe hands. In the Uk, to be licensed as a chiropractor you must be registered with the General Chiropractic Council (GCC) who regulate the profession. It is in fact illegal for someone to call themselves a chiropractor if they are not registered with the GCC.
Like other professionals, we are also required to undertake continuing professional development each year, to follow a set of codes and standards set by the GCC, and to ensure the health of our patients always comes first. That means if we believe you need further treatment, we will advise you to stop treatment and take another course of action. Your health is important to us, even if that means advising you to seek alternative treatments or help elsewhere.
This is one we’ve seen recently actually. We believe the writer meant that chiropractic is a made up form of pain management, a type of treatment without any kind of medical grounding or research and thus not a successful form of healthcare. Perhaps people are less aware of the physical and mental health benefits of chiropractic treatment because here in the UK the ratio per head of population of chiropractors to people is 1 per 22,000, with as a little as 3000 chiropractors nationwide. Where as in Canada it’s the ration is 1 per 4000 people. However, in 2015 it was reported there were some 10 million chiropractic appointments for treatment each year. Additionally, in 2018 the British Chiropractic Association released research detailing that more people in the UK are suffering from back and neck pain each week, than they were five years ago. This means the need for our treatment is higher than ever. Chiropractic manipulation, massage and exercise are now widely recommended as a first line treatments for back pain. With a robust body of research, and significant amounts of patient satisfaction backing the practice, you can believe that not only is our type of care safe and effective, it is indeed real. Ask the thousands of patients here at Guildford Chiropractic Centre!
False! You’ll find that many patients treated by chiropractors will feel instant pain relief immediately after their adjustments or joint manipulations. Naturally, those having suffered from longer term back or neck ailments may experience some discomfort, but for most patients this is simply not the case at all. We tend to find patients are in fact more nervous about the sound certain adjustments can make. For the record, the sound is believed to be a result of a release of gas bubbles from your joints, similar to sound of cracking your knuckles. It’s also important to note that adjustments should always be provided by a professional – just as you wouldn’t perform surgery on yourself or loved ones, be sure to leave it to a licensed practitioner. Even chiropractors cannot adjust themselves!
Fake news! We will provide an initial assessment when you first seek treatment, which includes a history and physical examination. From these first observations we’re able to diagnose and prescribe a course of treatment, a care plan to help manage your pain and health goals. The plan will recommend a number of visits based on your diagnosis, with routine monitoring of your developments. Treatments become less and less as we resolve your ailments. As with any kind of healthcare, once the pain stops it’s still wise to build some maintenance into your routine to help prevention of problems returning – just like returning to the dentist for check ups! But ultimately, the decision is always yours. We’ll work with you every step of the way to ensure your health is priority, managed, and always looked after.
Chiropractors are actually neuromusculoskeletal experts, this means we’re trained to assess, diagnose and prevent a whole host of biomechanical disorders. Simply put, we address your muscular, skeletal and nervous system ailments and complaints. We do make spinal adjustments, but they help fight against many conditions like headaches, joint pain in the leg, hip and knee, tennis elbow, stress, tension and the inability to relax, as well as the most commonly thought of back, neck and shoulder pain. We’re also able to offer advice on lifestyle changes that will help you overcome your healthcare issues alongside the physical treatment we offer.
Being able to ask questions about your health and treatment options is the utmost importance to us. Your understanding and participation in your treatment plan enables us to better meet your health goals, and ensures we provide the best care possible. If you ever have any questions about chiropractic care, whether before, during or after your treatments please always feel free to ask your physician.
Breaking a bone is a relatively common type of injury. From falls to car accidents and sport injuries, there are many ways to damage and fracture our framework. For an uncomplicated break a period of immobilisation in a cast (usually six weeks) is generally enough to allow the bone to heal. If the break is more serious, surgery may be necessary to reconstruct the bone and stabilize the fracture. This is usually done using plates and screws. The severity of a fracture will also depend on where it takes place. Breaking a bone near a joint (shoulder, elbow, wrist, hip, knee and ankle) will be considered to be more serious than breaking it at a distance from a joint. This is because joints are complicated structures allowing bones to move in relation to each other. Damaging a joint and having to immobilise it for weeks to allow the healing process to take place can have long term consequences on its function.
Joints are not the only structures to suffer from a period of immobilisation, muscles will waste away. This is why it is important that during the time a splint, a brace or a plaster cast is worn the parts of the limb which are not immobilised should be moved. This will fight muscle wasting and increase blood supply in the area. For example, if your plaster leaves your fingers or your toes free, it is important to move them. Studies have even suggested that just imagining exercising can delay muscle wasting by creating stronger connections between the brain and the muscles.
In most cases, 6 to 8 weeks of immobilisation is sufficient for bones to heal and as soon as the plaster is removed the period of rehabilitation must start without delay.
This is when the physiotherapist will (or should) appear on the scene. Being given a sheet of exercises is very useful but not necessarily enough to enable you to recover quickly and completely and it is at that point that too little and too late may create problems for the future. The first stage of the rehabilitation process should address the loss of mobility of the part of the limb which has been affected by the fracture. To achieve this, the joint must be gradually and passively mobilised to allow it to recover whatever mobility it has lost. It is at this point that the expression “no pain, no gain” becomes significant.
Although the exercise sheet will tell you what to do, it will not answer questions like: “How far should I go?”, “Should I go through the pain barrier and, if so, how far and for how long?”, “Do I run the risk of breaking the bone again if I overdo it?” It is at this stage that an assessment followed by some extra physiotherapy sessions may prove useful. To save time and money it is sometimes possible for the physiotherapist to train a relative who can become a kind of “home rehabilitation assistant”. With mobile phones it is easy to film a rehabilitation session and this provides both the patient and the helper with some extra guidance. Once maximum mobility has been restored, recovering muscle strength is going to be much easier and is usually only a question of time and repetitive exercises. If you think you need some help with your rehabilitation after a fracture, you can always contact us for some physiotherapy advice and guidance.
Prolonged loads on your spine is bad for you. With the average Brit spending about 9-10 hours a week driving, it’s important that we drivers assess our driving ergonomics to avoid any unwanted back strains.
We also need to feel comfortable when operating a vehicle. Discomfort whilst driving is a known cause of distraction behind the wheel, risking not only our own safety, but that of our passengers and those around us.
Discomfort whilst driving is a known cause of distraction behind the wheel, risking not only our own safety, but that of our passengers and those around us.
If you wish to see one of our chiropractors, you can either book directly online via our website or contact one of our friendly receptionists by telephone or email.
Some of us will have already begun our Christmas shopping, hoping to avoid the ensuing chaos the festive season brings. It is also around this time when our Clinic begins to see the annual Christmas shopping -ankle, -low back, and -knee injuries! Most will try and blame Guildford’s ever-inclining cobbled High Street. It’s a bit more complicated than that.
We have compiled a list of tips to help you get your shopping done without straining yourself or creating injury.
Rest assured, that most niggles and pains developed throughout the festive season should resolve themselves when everything returns to normal in the New Year. If however, you find that you’ve overdone it by; shopping for too many hours; moving furniture to fit around the Christmas day table; or tumbled off a stool whilst placing the star on the Christmas tree, just know that Guildford Chiropractic Centre is back open 2nd January 2019.
Wishing all the members of our community a wonderful Christmas and a happy healthy New Year 2019.
Between the ages of 0-7 years a child’s nervous system is developing at its fastest. Learning to sit up, crawl and walk go hand in hand with falling over, which can physically stress the joints in the spine and pelvis. Children are naturally curious and often have boundless energy, which can also lead to accidents and injuries, further stressing the joints. These physical stresses can lead to biomechanical dysfunction of the spine and nervous system. Of course this does not mean that every time your child has a fall you should rush them to the chiropractor, but look out for changes in their posture, how they walk, and how they do things; if they develop a limp, are unable to use an arm properly, or simply look “lop-sided”, it may be worth having them checked over.
As children become teenagers, there are other issues that can cause dysfunction in the spine. For sporty children the intensity of sport may increase, and it is important that they warm up properly before playing to minimise the risk of injury. Children that are not sporty often spend more time sitting watching television or playing games on a console or computer. This can lead to a forward head posture, putting more stress on the joints and muscles in the neck, shoulders and upper back. In addition, prolonged sitting can affect the joints in the lower back and pelvis.
A significant problem that teenagers encounter is carrying heavy schoolbags full of books. Rucksacks worn correctly on both shoulders, or a messenger bag worn diagonally across the body, are best, as they distribute the weight more evenly over the body. Any bag worn on only one shoulder causes the teenager to hunch that shoulder up to stop their bag falling off their shoulder, which can lead to neck, shoulder and upper back problems.
Studies have shown that children should not carry more than 10% of their body weight, and that carrying 15% of their body weight can be damaging to a musculoskeletal system that is not fully matured. However, children regularly carry up to 20% of their body weight, and sometimes more if you include sports equipment and musical instruments, so it is no wonder that back and neck pain can be a significant problem for schoolchildren. Unfortunately these pains are often not taken seriously, either because parents don’t realise that children can develop similar back problems to adults, or the pains are simply put down to “growing pains”.
Another issue faced by secondary school pupils in particular, is the type of desk and chairs used in schools. In the days of yore when I was at school, we sat on upright wooden chairs and had individual sloping desks, which encouraged a better sitting posture, and angled your work towards you. Nowadays chairs are usually plastic, offering little or no lumbar support, and the use of flat tables encourages children to lean forwards over the table in order to see their work. This posture significantly increases the load on the discs in the lumbar spine, and can contribute to lower back pain.
Chiropractic treatment can be very beneficial in helping relieve back and neck pain in children of all ages. The techniques used are more similar to those used in an adult, but the force used is reduced to what is more appropriate for the age and size of the child.
If your children experience back, neck or shoulder pain, or have been injured playing sport, we offer free 15 minute spinal assessments to see if their problems may benefit from chiropractic treatment. Contact clinic reception for further details.
People often ask what the typical age of a chiropractic patient is. The answer is that patients come in all shapes, sizes and ages, right from newborn babies up to nonagenarians, although the majority of patients probably fall in the age range 25-60.
Why should children, let alone newborn babies, need to have chiropractic treatment I hear you ask? The answer is that dysfunction or restricted movement in the spine can occur at any age for a variety of reasons. The aim of chiropractic care is to enable optimal movement in the spine, thereby reducing any tension on the nervous system, and allowing the body to function fully, rather than the diagnosis and treatment of specific paediatric medical conditions.
The birth process can be a difficult, stressful, and sometimes traumatic journey for a baby, especially if the mother gives birth lying on her back, which means she has to push the baby out uphill due to the shape of the pelvis. Although assisted delivery using forceps or Ventouse may be necessary if the baby has become “stuck” in the birth canal, they can put additional physical stress on the baby’s neck and skull, causing the baby to show signs of discomfort such as excessive crying for no reason, a significant dislike of lying on their back, and feeding or sleeping problems. Recent research has shown that there is an association between a baby having a difficult birth and crying excessively.
However, physical stress on the baby’s developing spine can begin long before birth due to in-utero constraint. This is where the baby does not lie in the most ideal position in the uterus, adopting a breech, transverse or facial presentation, which can restrict the baby’s movement, and can lead to compression of the neck and spine.
Chiropractic treatment of babies is very gentle, using gentle finger pressure on the restricted segments of the spine as well as relieving tension in the associated muscles. Cranio-sacral therapy can also be used to relieve abnormal tension in the bones of the skull. Babies usually tolerate treatment very well, and often sleep much better after treatment. Specific abdominal massage can also be very beneficial in helping to relieve constipation.
At Guildford Chiropractic Centre we have a special cushion for babies to lie in, to make them feel safe and secure during treatment; alternatively they can be treated whilst lying on their mother’s chest or abdomen. We are also aware that sometimes babies may need to stop for a feed during their treatment, and this is not normally a problem for us.
If you have a baby that you feel may benefit from chiropractic treatment we are happy to discuss this with you by phone, or by having a free 15 minute spinal assessment to ascertain whether our chiropractors feel that treatment may be beneficial.
Sciatica is debilitating condition that will impact around 5% of us. Sciatica is when a nerve root or portion of the sciatic nerve in the buttock is pinched resulting in pain and/or tingling; numbness and weakness in the leg and back. Most cases are the result of a bulging disc, muscle spasm or joint arthritis. Often the sufferer will have to take time off work or their social activities, thus having a major impact on their quality of life. Thankfully, the vast majority of these will respond positively to conservative treatments such as those given by chiropractors or physiotherapists, and pain medication prescribed by a GP. There are a small number however, who will require more invasive treatments such as surgery, which is not only more expensive, it carries a greater risk of complication and should be reserved for the minority of cases.
Researchers in Finland* looked into risk factors relating to sciatica, and in particular those who were more likely to be hospitalised/needed surgery. Here they followed a group of over 35,000 people for up to 30-years and assessed certain lifestyle choices.
Here’s what they found: If you either cycle or walk to work, you are 33% less likely to develop sciatica which requires surgery compared to the normal population. Likewise if you smoked or obese you were 33% more likely. If you were obese with abdominal fat, your risk went unto 41%. Interestingly, former smokers didn’t share the same risk as smokers.
Authors of the study were surprised to see that no effect on hospitalisation was witnessed by other forms of leisure time activities. They believed this may have been due to the fact that regular, moderate activities such as cycling and walking don’t add excessive strain to the back, unlike other higher-intensity exercises that would.
This study emphasises the need to keep mobile and gives us yet another reason to exercise regularly. Using those opportunities such as traveling to and from work can be an easy way to incorporate such healthy habits into our lifestyle.
Furthermore, studies have indicated that sciatica patients noticed a significant improvement when they underwent a number of treatments, including spinal manipulation as performed by chiropractors. As such the UK national guidelines recommends these sorts of treatments. Specific hands on procedures and exercises can be used to reduce nerve irritability, thus reducing pain, muscle spasm, inflammation and weakness.
If you or anyone you know, suffers from sciatica, our practice offers a complimentary 15-minute assessment to provide free advice to any sufferer. Contact clinic reception for further details.
*SHIRI R et al (2017)Lifestyle Risk Factors Increase the Risk of Hospitalization for Sciatica: Findings of Four Prospective Cohort Studies Am J MedDec;130(12):1408-1414.
Scars, also called adhesions when situated deep in our body, are an inevitable fact of life. They are the results of the body’s healing process. The tissue involved in the process of scarring is called the connective tissue. “Connective” because it connects, supports, binds and separates other tissues or organs.
When we injure ourselves, the repair process has to happen quickly. Because of the emergency of the response, the tissue produced is not of the same quality as the original one. Instead of a good, strong “patch” of well-aligned fibres, we end up with a lower quality tissue, looking more like a game of pick-up sticks. The poor quality of this new tissue results in poorer functionality. For example, somebody with a poorly healed ankle sprain or a pulled muscle will be more likely to have a recurrence of the same injury.
As living creatures we are very exposed to traumatic events such as sprains and strains, pulled muscles and torn tendons. These injuries will heal with the inevitable scar tissue. In addition, the healing process resulting from any inflammation and infection will also result in the formation of some scar tissue.
Surgery, particularly abdominal and pelvic surgery, is also a cause of internal scarring, called adhesions. The problem is that these adhesions can squeeze organs, diminish the blood flow, trap nerves and reduce or impede the mobility of organs. The end result usually involves discomfort, pain and reduced mobility.
If we imagine our body as a structure delicately balanced between ‘elasticity’ (the skin, the muscles, the connective tissue) and ‘rigidity’ (the bones), we have a very smart design allowing stress to be distributed equally throughout the structure. The end result is flexibility and stability. As soon as there is scarring or adhesions anywhere in the body, this delicate balance is compromised. This in turn results in us ‘cheating’ and compensating e.g. if we cannot turn our head, we will turn our body.
When scar tissue is formed it often traps other important structures in the area such as small nerve endings and blood vessels. Trapped pain receptors can cause a scar to remain painful long after the injury has healed. This is often the case with coccyx pain (pain in the tail bone after a fall on the buttocks). During the healing process other receptors may be disturbed by the surrounding scar tissue and this may prevent the brain from receiving the correct feedback allowing it to control properly how we stand and move.
Fortunately, there are ways to mitigate the damage and to redress the balance. The most important thing to remember is that although it is important to give an injury time to heal, it is just as important to start the rehabilitation process as early as possible. We are designed to move and lengthening the period of immobility is not helpful. This is why in the case of a mild whiplash injury, for example, neck collars are only advisable in a very limited number of cases and for as short a period as possible.
Physical therapists, including chiropractors, can help by monitoring any healing process whether of an internal wound, the skin, a muscle, a tendon, or a ligament and will progressively introduce soft tissue work (superficial or deep massage) and gentle passive, active and resisted exercises. This will improve the quality of the scar tissue and restore functionality by increasing mobility, flexibility and strength.
Scarred for life? Not necessarily, if you take the right steps at the right time.
A common response to experiencing back pain is to take it easy and perhaps even go to bed. Whilst this might be appropriate in the very short-term, resting for more than a day or two can in fact be detrimental to recovery. Scientific research has shown that the most effective way of treating lower back pain is a combination of spinal manipulation, as performed by chiropractors, followed by exercise. Your back contains two different types of muscles: ‘movement muscles’, the large muscles which control the movement of the spine, and ‘supporting or core muscles’, the small muscles which provide a support system for the spine.
During a back pain episode, pain signals from the spine cause the supporting or core muscles to become inhibited and stop working. This means that the movement muscles now have two jobs: to move the spine and now also to support the spine as best they can.
Once your back pain has gone, the core muscles remain inhibited and your movement muscles carry on doing two jobs. This is why back pain often recurs when people don’t properly rehabilitate their spinal muscles – the movement muscles are not very good at supporting the spine so the spine becomes more vulnerable to re-injury.
It makes sense then, that to aid recovery from back pain and prevent back pain recurring in the future, back pain sufferers should undertake exercise in order to activate and strengthen their core muscles.
Depending upon your specific complaint, diagnosis and current level of pain the spinal rehabilitation exercises will be very different. This is why it is important to see a trained instructor who can prescribe appropriate exercises.
In general, to start with it will be important to focus on exercises which retain a neutral spinal posture and emphasise activation and strengthening of the core musculature. Once the core muscles are stronger the exercises can become more complex and sport-specific if needed.
At Guildford Chiropractic Centre, our chiropractors and physiotherapist are trained in prescribing exercises to improve your core strength. We are also able to advise you on exercise or a return to regular sport, as we believe that when it comes to back pain, prevention of further episodes is vitally important.
*Suzi Corbett unfortnately no longer practises at Guildford Chiropractic Centre. Further details can be found here
Since I last wrote a column we’ve moved closer to Brexit and as it stands it is still anyone’s guess as to when it will happen. As you read this article the chances are we’ll be out of the world cup (although there is a slim, a very slim chance we will win) long before we’re out of Europe. Results and the timing of events are often uncertain. Life after all is full of uncertainties. We plough through life never knowing what’s around the corner. The news has it that Robbie Williams has just had to leave a burning hotel. I’m sure he didn’t see that coming, although he probably had a good idea his last album was going to bomb.
We have long lived in a binary world full of polarised choices. Good and evil, right and wrong, short and tall, Cagey or Lacey, Ant or Dec. The problem of such black and white thinking is that it can inhibit or blinker our thought processes. It begs the question: Why do binaries rule in a relative world? Is someone totally evil and if so can anyone be totally good? And so it is with backs neither are they totally good or totally bad. Your spine (along with the rest of your body) is the result of everything that has happened to you throughout your life, good, bad and indifferent. This intermingling of events leads to high levels of uncertainty and varied outcomes and as chiropractors we’re often trying to read between the lines. When a patient enters the room in pain you could say they they’re the end of the story or the closing credits to a movie. What we have to do is rewind the film to piece together the rest, the what happened before. To try to understand the root of the problem the causal factors, the hidden bit. We then have to frame that in the context of the individuals body and their own individual physiological quirks. Everyone’s similar but different. People can be stressed in many different ways and it’s the effect of those stressors on their body that creates disease. The body’s way of telling you this could be anything from raised blood pressure to back pain or headaches.
Just as a starting point try to reduce your intake of sugar; aim to eat nutrient dense foods (i.e. unprocessed); exercise; don’t smoke and reduce your alcohol consumption. Cutting down rid on the biggest environmental stressors on the body, you’ll be surprised how much better your body performs and feels.
Now a quick quiz question. Name 11 body parts only three letters long . Go!