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“Well, it ’s normal isn’t it?” “Er … yes … and no”, comes the reply. Only ‘normal’ can be ‘normal’ but, fortunately for us, ‘normal’ in the body is variable, and is different for each of us, albeit often only slightly.
‘Normal’ comes in many guises: it is often dependent on our environment and how we interact with it; how we’re made; our genetics.
Since man first stumbled out of his cave onto the African Savannah we have had to deal with the vagaries of the weather and the intermittent availability of food and water.
The human body does its best to maintain ‘normal’. This process is known in medical circles as homeostasis. When the umpteenth antelope has cleared off into the middle distance and your belly is rumbling, the body is still doing everything it can to maintain correct levels of oxygen, sugars and other chemicals in the blood.
Try holding your breath: if you try to withhold oxygen, it won’t be very long before your body makes you breathe. See if you can pass out. I bet you can’t – your body won’t let it happen!
The body does the same when it’s trying to process the incoming torrent of chemicals from your ingestion of big Mac, fries and shake. As your lipid levels skyrocket and your pancreas goes into meltdown, spare a thought for all those background processes that your body performs faultlessly day in and day out. That is, until something goes wrong.
Most of the time, the mode of onset is poorly understood and so it is with musculoskeletal pain. Whilst we would love to have a direct cause and effect situation, the reality is rarely so. We are a complex combination of everything that’s happened to us throughout our lives – good, bad and indifferent. Most problems have a chronic component, a fatigue point if you like, where a problem builds until the body complains or fails.
So why not see a chiropractor and help your body get back to ‘normal’ or at the very least slow down its drift away from the norm?
The clinic offers a 20-minute complimentary chiropractic discussion and assessment to see whether chiropractic treatment can help. Please contact clinic reception for further details.
Seasons greetings one and all! Christmas will soon be upon us, and although it is the season of good cheer, it is also a common time for people to upset their spines! Be sure to take note of the following tips so back pain doesn’t ruin the festive holiday:
The problems can begin with shopping for Christmas presents. Traipsing around the shops looking for the “perfect” presents for your nearest and dearest, can put your spine under a lot of mechanical stress. Wear sensible shoes that support your feet properly, and try to balance the weight of your shopping bags equally in both hands. If you try to do all your shopping in one day, have regular breaks, even if it is only to take parcels back to your car. If you do most of your shopping online, take regular breaks away from your computer so that your back doesn’t get stuck in one position.
Once the Christmas shopping is finished, there is the tree and house to decorate. If, like me, you prefer a real tree, there will be a trip to a local Christmas tree farm to saw down or dig up the perfectly shaped tree, then you will need to manhandle it back to your car and set it up at home, ensuring it is vertical. All of this can put your lower back under a lot of strain, and leave you with aching shoulders. The next hazard is decorating the tree so take care when you pick up boxes of decorations. Keep your spine in a neutral position and bend your hips and knees, and do not bend, lift and twist at the same time. Have fun decorating the tree making sure that you get an even distribution of the lights and the colours of the decorations.
Wrapping Christmas presents can be great fun, but can also be hard work for your lower back. Try to wrap as you buy, rather than leaving it all until Christmas Eve. Sit at a table or stand at a kitchen worktop, rather than sitting on the floor or standing bending over a table. Make sure you take regular breaks and walk around, even if it is only to get a coffee or a glass of wine to keep you going.
What you eat and drink can also have an effect on your back. Drinking too much alcohol can cause you to fall over and injure yourself, and drinking alcohol over several days can increase any pre-existing inflammation in joints. Alcohol can also result in dehydration of the whole body, including the discs in your spine, so make sure you drink plenty of water too. However, drinking 2-3 alcoholic drinks can help muscles relax. At Christmas we also tend to overload on sugar in the form of Christmas pudding, Christmas cake, mince pies, alcohol, and the inevitable tins of chocolates. These excess sugars can affect your adrenal glands causing them to fatigue, leaving you feeling tired and drained, but they can also reduce the body’s natural anti-inflammatory corticosteroids, causing injuries to feel more painful.
When the big day finally arrives there are lots of things that can potentially upset your back. Cleaning the house if you are expecting visitors, standing preparing the all the vegetables for Christmas lunch, and then there is the turkey. Even a small turkey weighs around 15 pounds, and this can be quite cumbersome getting it in and out of the oven, so bend your knees and brace your lower back to avoid injury.
After the Christmas lunch, it is traditional to sit down and watch television. Unfortunately many sofas do not provide ideal lower back support, encouraging you to sit in a slumped position, so put a cushion in the small of your back. Having extra time off work over the Christmas period to relax may sound ideal, but try not to spend prolonged periods of time sitting down, but encourage the whole family to go for a walk instead.
If you do injure your back over the Christmas period, apply an ice pack (or a small packet of frozen peas wrapped in a tea towel) to the injured area for up to 10 minutes. As the pain reduces, gentle stretching exercises can improve your mobility. For your neck: bend and turn it gently from side to side. For your lower back, lie on the floor and bring each knee in turn up to your chest and hold for a few seconds. Repeat 6 times for each leg. Pelvic tilt exercises can also help: lie on the floor with your knees bent up, feet flat on the floor, then flatten your lower back on to the ground for a few seconds, and repeat 6 times.
Remember you’ve only got one spine: take good care of it!
Guildford Chiropractic Centre is only closed on Sundays and public holidays, so if you do injure your back over the festive period, you should be able to see one of our chiropractors promptly.
Finally, on behalf of all the team here, I would like to wish everyone in our community a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
I am often asked what made me decide to become a chiropractor as I was already a physiotherapist living and working in my native France.
As usual, there are several reasons.
In France, 50 years ago, physiotherapists were seen as medical auxiliaries. The training was short, 2 years, and the medical profession made sure that your general medical knowledge was weak enough to prevent you from becoming a serious competitor in the field of musculo-skeletal medicine. In those days, being a physiotherapist meant following to the letter the treatment plan established by a medical doctor with few possibilities to take initiatives My frustration grew until one day friends of my parents introduced me to their chiropractor.
I remember to this day, my meeting with that inspiring man who galvanised me and motivated me to investigate chiropractic. Soon, I realised that the training was rigorous and long enough to equip me to become exactly what I wanted to be: an independent practitioner able to make a diagnosis and decide if I could treat or if I should refer.
In those days, being a physiotherapist meant following to the letter the treatment plan established by a medical doctor….
Nevertheless, there were a lot of obstacles to overcome. The length of the training, at that time 4 years; the fact that in those days the only training institutions were either in the US, Canada or the UK and assuming that I would graduate, I would come back to practise in a country where chiropractic was considered as the illegal practice of medicine.
I was still young and I must admit that the prospect of becoming a pioneer in my native country fired me up rather than frightened me. After a few years, however, I decided to leave France and settle in the UK where chiropractic enjoyed a more positive status.
Things have changed a lot since, and both France and the UK have given chiropractic a legal status. In the UK, since 1994 the Chiropractor Act regulates the profession and it is illegal for anyone who is not registered to describe themselves as a chiropractor. The same legislation was passed for physiotherapists a few years later. Regulation comes with regulatory bodies, professional associations and colleges.
Physiotherapists and chiropractors need by law to be registered, to hold professional indemnity insurance, and to comply with continuing professional development.
Regulation has positive implications for our profession and our patients. An example of this is the Royal College of Chiropractors’ Patient Partnership Quality Mark (PPQM), an award obtained after a rigorous audit showing that a chiropractic clinic can demonstrate excellence in meeting patients’ expectations in cleanliness, safety and patient expectations.
I am proud to announce that the Guildford Chiropractic Centre has just received this prestigious award for the 4th time running. For me, personally, this is just further confirmation that it was worth making that career change all those years ago and coming to practise in the UK.
Have you ever seen sports people wearing brightly coloured tape and wonderered whether it was simply a fashion statement or if it served a particular purpose? Taping is prescribed by chiropractors, physiotherapists and other manual therapists – but what’s it all about?
This type of tape is called Kinesio Tape, and was originally developed by a Japanese chiropractor, Dr Kenzo Kase, in 1973. (You read it correctly, Kinesiotape was developed by a chiropractor!) He found that although standard taping techniques like athletic taping gave excellent support to muscles and joints, they significantly reduced the range of motion in the joints. He therefore wanted to create a therapeutic tape that could support injured joints and muscles but without compromising their range of motion, and after two years of research he developed Kinesio Tex® tape.
This type of tape is called Kinesio Tape, and was originally developed by a Japanese chiropractor, Dr Kenzo Kase, in 1973.
Kinesio tape first gained worldwide exposure during the Beijing Olympics in 2008, and, at the 2012 London Olympics, athletes from more than 80 countries wore the tape whilst competing. It is now commonly worn by athletes competing in top level sporting events in a wide variety of sports including football, rugby, tennis, cycling, swimming and athletics.
Kinesio tape a hypoallergenic latex-free elastic cotton tape, with a heat activated acrylic backing and is designed to have a similar weight and thickness to human skin. It allows the skin to breathe more easily, is water resistant, allowing wearers to bathe normally, and removes the moisture quickly, so the tape can be comfortably worn for 4-5 days at a time without causing skin irritation. The tape can be stretched along its length by up to 140%, which allows for a greater range of motion in joints than traditional athletic tape.
Many chiropractors and physiotherapists have had great success in using kinesio tape as an adjunct to treating a variety of conditions in their patients, such as lower back pain, knee pain, shin splints, rotator cuff injuries, carpal tunnel syndrome, and tennis elbow.
Our practice uses Kinesio-tape on a variety of complaints, and the majority of those patients have report that using Kinesio- tape was very effective for them.
The use of Kinesio-tape is designed to facilitate the body’s natural healing process whilst giving support and stability to injured muscles and joints, but without limiting the range of motion in the joints. When applied to the skin, Kinesio-tape lifts the skin from the underlying muscle, creating more space and thereby increasing the flow of blood and lymphatic fluid. This reduces inflammation and swelling, which in turn reduces pain by decreasing pressure on the body’s pain receptors. Kinesio-tape can also improve the contraction of a weak muscle, relax muscles that are too tight, and reduce muscle fatigue.
You can get tape now with slightly different properties, and it is now available in a multitude of colours and patterns, ranging from the standard beige, black, blue and pink, to patterns such as Union Jack, tattoo, cow, tiger and camouflage!
If you would like to know more on how taping can help, please contact clinic reception for more details.
In this month’s article I would like to focus on rib pain.
This is a common cause of pain that presents in our practice.
Ribs can be the source of all sorts of problems, ranging from post-traumatic sprains to postural related rib misalignments, all of which can cause significant pain.
Let me explain how we look at these problems, and why chiropractic can be an effective solution to them.
There are 12 pairs of ribs in your body each attaching at the back to the vertebrae in the middle your spine – the thoracic vertebrae. 10 of these pairs come to the middle to attach onto the breast bone (or sternum) at the front via costal cartilages.
The final 2 pairs are what we call “floating ribs” as they don’t actually attach to anything at the front.
The main function of rib cage is to protect your giblets (in this case the heart and lungs) from trauma from the outside world by shock absorbance.
In addition to protection it serves to assist you in the breathing mechanism.
As you breathe in your rib cage should expand to allow your lungs to inflate as much as possible.
Guess what symptoms are commonly reported by those folks who adopt that unattractive, slumped, rolled shoulder inward posture, particularly at their desks?
You guessed it!
Rib pain or (more specifically costo-transverse joint pain).
Why should this be so?
In this position the diaphragm (the main muscle responsible for inflating your lungs) cannot work as effectively, so the nervous system recruits more muscles in the mid back and shoulders to open up the rib cage.
Over time this, in turn, causes ribs to be pulled in all sorts of directions, causing them to misalign or sprain often resulting in significant pain.
Our Guildford Chiropractors can improve the function of the spine and ribs via specific adjustments to the joints, which will improve mobility and reduce tension, often providing significant relief to the sufferer.
Following treatment, if you undertake a tailored exercise programme, rib pain can often be relegated to the past!
Individuals who suffer with post-traumatic rib injuries or bruised ribs can also benefit from chiropractic treatment. Using gentle procedures the chiropractor can dramatically lessen the pain, speed up the healing process and make the patient more comfortable during their recovery.
And the answer to the question: do men have one less rib than women?
A resounding NO! Men and women have the same number of ribs as each other. 12 pairs each.
At that’s put that myth to bed.
P.S Watch this great TED video and see what other things poor posture can do to your body!
Breakfast is healthy fruit and yoghurt. Thank goodness my Body has stopped the full fry-ups. Not only was his increasingly large belly putting extra strain on me, it was also putting my better half, ‘the good knee’ at risk of arthritis. Happily the scales are on a downward trend!
We also make time to spend in the gym now. Although my Body still looks longingly at the football pitches, that was how we got here in the first place.
After several years sitting behind a desk with no exercise, one weekend he decided to join in a game of five-a-side and ran out onto the pitch without bothering to warm up. Snap! My cruciate ligament, which runs through the joint connecting the femur to the tibia, tore. Ouch! That’s the reason I’m creaky before my time. Ligament tears usually result in a 50:50 chance of getting arthritis within 10-20 years.
In the office, I see one of my Body’s work colleagues walking round in high heels – phew, I’m glad I’m not one of her knees. High heels are a torture device for us knees. I much prefer our new shoes with flexible soles which also provide support under the arch of the foot.
Up we get at lunchtime to go to the gym.
Exercise like biking, swimming and tai chi helps me to avoid becoming too rusty. In order to regenerate, cartilage in the knee needs to move. Strong muscles also help to stabilise and support the joint.
On the way home from work, it’s one of the highlights of my month – we’re off to see the chiropractor. Not only does the chiropractor help keep my Body’s low back and pelvis working well, which takes extra pressure off me, massage and mobilisation around the knee joint helps me keep going as long as possible. Regular treatments are making a big difference to how we feel.
Back at home, dinner is salmon and fresh vegetables. Diet is of great importance to how I feel. Low grade inflammation within my joint may be helped by foods such as fatty fish. At bedtime, I’m at my most comfortable with my Body on his side with a pillow between me and the other knee.
And if I’m happy, usually we get a good night’s sleep.
If you would like to speak to one of our chiropractors, please contact clinic reception.
Donald Trump Could Help You Get it….10 10 3 (Andy Hewitt DC)
What do pelvic floor muscles have to do with Donald Trump?
If you are of a delicate disposition or easily upset, may I suggest that you walk out into the kitchen and make a cup of tea or close the webpage.
The reason for this is two-fold.
Firstly, I will be mentioning Donald Trump and secondly, I will be referring to pelvic floor muscles. The latter are by far the most important to the individual; we talk about them but do nothing about improving their function. Donald Trump on the other hand is talked about most, but has virtually no effect on us as individuals.
Your pelvic floor muscles as any chiropractor will tell you are the bedrock of all movement. They are or should be intrinsic to all our movement but how often do we hear about them as opposed to pecs or lats? Woefully little, especially as they should have kicked in before you initiate any action with the aforementioned muscles.
To get them to fire up (and I have to apologise here) imagine that you’re sitting next to the Queen and that Friday nights curry is trying to make a break for the border and must be kept in at all costs. Now the critical bit: squeeze your buttocks together and hold onto that wind (imaginary or otherwise) like your life depends on it. Once in the clench count to ten and relax. Next do 10 pulsed short clenches like you would if you sneezed. After those, clench for 3 seconds and relax then clench again for 3 seconds but harder, finally clench for the last time as hard as you possibly can for three seconds. All you have to remember is 10 10 3.
Stick a reminder on the monitor at work or the fridge, how about next to the teabags so next time you make a cuppa, fire off a 10 10 3 or just a quick 10. It’s simple not unlike Donald.
An additional benefit is that its action fires up your transverse abdominal muscles improving your posture and often alleviating low back pain. The pelvic floor muscles are important in both women and men alike and both can be affected by weakness. Poor pelvic floor tone (the quality and quantity of contraction) can lead to incontinence, poor urge control and reduced fun in the bedroom department. Surely that’s enough to encourage even the most diehard couch potato to do something?
All you have to remember is 10 10 3.
If you didn’t understand how to fire up your pelvic floor muscles think of Donald Trump with his finger poised over the nuclear button.
If you would like to know more please contact the clinic to speak to one of our chiropractors who will be able to advise.
Those who’ve never seen a chiropractor, will have never experienced a chiropractic spinal adjustment.
There are a lot of misconceptions about what an adjustment is.
Although not the only technique up a chiropractor’s sleeve, the adjustment is most certainly the most major tool a chiropractor uses.
So what exactly is an adjustment?
Adjustments are specifically applied manoeuvres aimed at restoring joint mobility where mobility is lost and subsequently resetting the nervous system. A lot of the time an audible ‘pop’ is heard.
We are frequently asked what this popping noise actually is, and whether the practice of this technique is effective and safe. Let’s talk about it:
The majority of the joints in your body are designed to move and to be kept mobile.
Different joints move in different ways, and with differing degrees of movement.
Some, like the knee joint, will move in a few directions and some, such as the shoulder joint, can move in many directions.
A lot of the aches and pains we see on a daily basis are associated with a loss of joint mobility.
Whether it be neck, back or foot pain, it is important to assess the joint in question first and then adjust the joint if it needs in the direction it needs to move.
The joints a chiropractor can adjust, called synovial joints, contain liquid and gas. During an adjustment, a gentle separation occurs within the joint, which results in a change of pressure. The displacement of gas around the fluid causes a pop to he heard. There is massive stimulation to local nerve receptors within the joint.
When you open a bottle of fizzy drink, you often hear a noise as you open the bottle. This is very similar to what happens during an adjustment. That’s what the noise is!
It’s very subtle, there is nothing crude about an adjustment performed by a chiropractor. It is a very specific manoeuvre using the minimum amount of pressure and force.
Chiropractors undergo intensive training to perform manipulative therapy. They do not learn this specific, delicate technique on weekend courses; but in detail in their five year chiropractic degree programme. As such, one can be assured that chiropractors are experts in this art. Performed by a qualified chiropractor, this technique should not be painful and is perfectly safe.
And yes, it can be incredibly effective for joint, muscular and nerve pain!
It’s very subtle, there is nothing crude about an adjustment performed by a chiropractor. It is a very specific manoeuvre using the minimum amount of pressure and force.
Finally, it must be noted that adjustments are not suitable for every patient.
Some of our older patients, for example, may not be candidates for this sort of treatment. So other techniques will be used to help them to get better and bring them to better health.
So, not only do chiropractors know when and how to perform joint manipulation, but they also understand when not to use it. This again reinforces the safety aspect of receiving this type of treatment from a qualified chiropractor.
When was the last time someone looked at how your skeleton was moving?
We are currently offering free 10 minute consultations to discuss whether chiropractic could help to solve your problem, and if we consider that chiropractic is inappropriate, we would suggest an alternative.
To book an appointment, please speak to one our receptionists who will be happy to advise.
If you are looking for information on treatment for hip pain, then you please read this article written by our Chiropractor and Physiotherapist, Alain Michelotti
So, tired of hearing your complaints about the nagging pain at the front of your thigh and knee, friends have finally persuaded you to consult a chiropractor.
You like walking and for the last few months, this has spoiled your outings with the ramblers’ group.
You enjoy good health and did not think this pain was a good enough reason to bother your GP.
You know plenty of people who have had new hips and knees but you are pretty sure that in your case it is “only muscular”.
The day of the consultation comes and when your partner comes home in the evening you are asked what happened:
“Well”, you say, “I was asked a lot of questions, was examined and told that, despite feeling the pain in front of my thigh down to my knee, it was, in fact, my hip that was responsible for the pain. It was pretty obvious when the chiropractor compared the mobility of my two hips. On one side I could move my hip fairly freely but on the other side it was quite restricted and painful. The chiropractor said that it needed to be confirmed by an X-ray and is going to write to my GP. He was very reassuring and said that it was almost certainly a mechanical problem and if so, there was plenty that could be done to help my condition”.
This scenario is relatively common: a gradual pain, most of the time developing over months or even years. The first thing the chiropractor has to decide is what the patient means by “it is my back”, “it is my hip”, “it is my knee”. The “hip” often refers to the buttock or even the back, and a pain in the knee can originate from the hip.
….despite feeling the pain in front my thigh down to my knee, it was in fact, my hip that was responsible for the pain.
Once the origin of the pain has been determined, in this case it would be the hip, additional investigation is necessary to rule out any pathology. Depending on the amount of wear and tear shown on the X-ray and the amount of disability experienced by the patient, the GP may decide to refer you to a consultant.
At the end of the day, hip degeneration is a fairly common problem, and surgery to replace the faulty joint will only be performed when the patient is in so much discomfort that his or her quality of life is seriously affected.
On the brighter side, plenty can be done to restore and maintain some mobility in the joint. Conservative measures can take the form of mobilisation, stretching and muscle strengthening exercises.
Advice designed to help you avoid irritating and overloading the joint is also an extremely beneficial way to alleviate the pain and reduce disability.
In some instances, when the wear and tear is not too advanced, these steps are even sufficient to delay surgery for many years. Then, if and when surgery becomes the only available option, thanks to these conservative measures which you will already have taken, the quality of the joint environment, particularly the musculature, will have been maintained to the maximum and post surgical recovery will be easier and quicker.
So, it really is worth having your nagging pain investigated – it could quite easily be alleviated and your walks will become enjoyable again
.If you would like to know more about how Chiropractic or Physiotherapy as a treatment for hip pain, please contact clinic reception and ask to speak to one of our practitioners.
Previously we have looked at mattresses in regard to lower back pain, but your choice of pillow, and the number of pillows you sleep with, can also affect your neck and shoulders.
There are three curves in the spine which need to be properly alignment to minimise back problems developing, and at night, when you are lying down, these curves need to be supported correctly.
As we generally spend about one third of our life sleeping, having the right combination of a supportive mattress and pillows, and sleeping in the correct position, is very important.
If you regularly wake up in the morning with neck or shoulder pain and stiffness, then your pillow(s) and your sleeping posture may be the problem.
Just as you need a good mattress to support your lower back, your neck needs to be properly supported by your pillow to ensure a good night’s sleep. Unless you are a rugby player or weight lifter, your neck is usually narrower than you head, both from the front to back, and from side to side. This means that if your pillow is too firm, it will be supporting your head rather than your neck, and if your pillow is too soft, your neck will sink in to the pillow. Both of these scenarios mean that your pillow will not be providing sufficient support to your neck, and you may find that you wake up in the morning with a stiff and sore neck.
There is a large variety of pillows available, with different shapes and sizes, and a choice of fillings, and finding the right one for you is not always easy.
A good pillow should hold your head in the correct alignment so that you head is in the same position relative to your shoulders and spine as it would be if you were standing upright with a good posture.
It should also be able to be tucked well into your neck and shoulders, or be shaped accordingly, to support the curve of your neck appropriately.
The most basic pillows are usually filled with a man-made fibre, which does not generally offer as much support as you may need.
Feather, goose down and duck down pillows are much better as you can either tuck them in to your neck, or shake the feathers down to the long edge of the pillow to make a roll, and use this to support your neck. Alternatively there are a variety of pillows that are already shaped to support your neck properly. These are often made of foam, in particular memory foam, where your body heat works with the foam to give good support for your neck specifically.
As with buying a mattress, it is a good idea to buy good quality pillows and replace them every few years, either when they have lost their height, or become lumpy, discoloured or misshapen.
The position you sleep in can also cause neck and shoulder pain. Sleeping on your stomach is not good for your spine at all; in your lower back it causes you to increase the curve in your lumbar spine, compressing the small facet joints in the spine, and in your neck, as you have to turn your head to one side or the other, it causes compression of the facet joints on the side you turn your head towards, leading to neck stiffness and possible pain.
If you tend to sleep on your back, your head will usually turn to one side or the other, leading to similar problems.
If you sleep on your side, a pillow needs to support your neck in a neutral position. If your pillow is too low it may feel as if your head and neck are dropping too far to the side, but if your pillow is too high your neck will feel as if it is being propped up too much.
However, if you are broad shouldered, you may need to use a thicker pillow, or two thinner pillows, rolling one up in to your neck, to give better support.
If you need any further advice, please speak to one of the chiropractors at the Guildford Chiropractic Centre.