Understand your pain
Most of the patients who come to see us in our chiropractic clinic in Eastbourne do so because they are in pain. Some of them are in acute pain, which has only been going on for a very short period of time. But the majority of patients who come to see us are in chronic pain, which has been going on for months or even years, in this blog I hope to help you to understand your pain.
Inflammation and pain: acute and chronic
Inflammation often causes pain in the body. Pain varies in a lot of ways. It can be constant or intermittent. It can feel like stiffness and aches. It can be sharp, pinching, burning, and throbbing. The inflammation that caused the pain is either acute inflammation or chronic inflammation.
Acute inflammation occurs when there is an injury to the body.
The body naturally responds to this injury by creating an inflammatory response that is mediated by the immune system. It is the body’s way of trying to heal and protect itself. It does this with the purpose of repairing damage done to cells and tissues. Inflammation occurs in stages: first, there is the irritation stage. Something has happened to the body, or irritated it, and the inflammatory process begins. You can observe this phenomenon in progress when you fall and scrape your knee. It will become red, swollen, and sore. That is your body getting to work right away to heal the tissue. White blood cells come to the area and sometimes you can see pus in a wound. This is the suppuration stage. Your body is trying to destroy and expel damaged tissue and cells from the body.
Chronic inflammation is when this same process goes on, but for a prolonged period of time in the body.
This can last several months to years. The body is failing at its attempt to heal itself. This chronic state of inflammation in the body can lead to an auto immune response where the body starts to see itself as harmful and foreign, and an immune response mediates an attack on tissue that was once otherwise healthy. This type of pain is usually less intense and persistent, but not necessarily constant.
Inflammation has five things associated with it:
- Loss of function.
However, inflammation can be present in the body without all five being present. For example, you can have a bleeding ulcer but not know it because there are not a lot of sensory pain receptors on organs. But when tissues such as muscles and joints get injured, they are able to communicate much better with pain receptors, especially when there is swelling, and then pain can be felt more easily.
Different types of pain
Pain comes in a few different types.
The first type is nociceptive pain.
This pain is caused by damaged tissue releasing certain chemicals that bind to receptors (nociceptors) in the body and trigger pain. Anti-inflammatory medications work here to interrupt this process and block pain. There is also non-nociceptive pain which occurs inside of the nervous system itself.
Then we have somatic pain.
This is sharp and localised pain and occurs within the musculoskeletal system which involves muscles, joints, ligaments, bones, and tendons. As a chiropractor, I see and treat this type of pain most often.
And finally, we have visceral pain.
Visceral pain is not easily localised. It is often a pain that is felt deep in the body and is coming from the organs, aka viscera. Kidney infections and menstrual cramps are two types of visceral pain. And they are often mistaken for pain that is arising from the back muscles and joints, aka somatic pain.
When you come to see us at our clinic in Eastbourne, our chiropractors are specialists in muscle, joint, and nerve-type pain. We know how to diagnose, manage, and treat your somatic pain through chiropractic treatments, massage, and acupuncture and we help you to understand your pain And we also advise our patients on nutrition and lifestyle changes to improve their overall health.
Thanks for reading!
An Eastbourne Chiropractor’s tips for prevention of migraines
For me prevention is always better than cure. Here I will cover some things that my patients have found effective in preventing their migraines, therefore reducing the frequency and severity of these attacks.
What is a migraine
Migraines have been identified as a neurological condition as they effect the bodies brain chemistry. They are also a lot more common than we originally thought. There are many different sub varieties of migraine and many have still not been classified. They are typically described as recurrent headaches lasting 4-72 hours and are often accompanied by nausea/vomiting, sensitivity to light and sound, or an aura with hand or arm numbness or visual changes.
Predisposition to migraine
There are a few factors that have been associated with the presence of migraines and therefore sometimes management of these can help to prevent them. These include: stress; depression or anxiety; menstrual period; menopause; head or neck trauma. As a chiropractor, I have seen many people presenting to me with migraines and it is very common for them to have one or more of these factors so key to my care, is giving advice about managing these issues.
Migraines are often set off by certain things and these can be common amongst many different people. Common triggers are: altered sleep patterns; stress; foods such as chocolate, cheese, caffeine and alcohol; strong smells; bright lights; dehydration; and strenuous exercise. The best way to identify your triggers is to keep a migraine diary recording what time of day, how severe out of ten, how long it lasted, and if you had any associated effects such as sensitivity to light/sound, nausea etc. This can sometimes help to identify possible triggers. It is important not to just try and focus in triggers though as they can be hard to identify.
Active migraine prevention
As well as being aware of your possible triggers there are a few active things that you can do that have been shown to help prevent migraines in many people. Chiropractic treatment has been recommended for prevention of migraine and I have seen the effectiveness of this in my own patients even in the instance of those that are only present during the menstrual period. This is believed to be due to addressing underlying issues around the head and neck potentially linked to previous trauma causing an underlying dysfunction. Acupuncture has also been recommended for prevention of migraines and a piercing in the ear, based on acupuncture points, has been effective in some people and again some of my own patients have found this useful. This piercing is through the Daith in the ear (shown in the photo).
Adopting good posture can also take unnecessary pressure off the muscles around the head, neck and shoulders; and sunglasses help to prevent squinting and aggravating tension in the facial muscles.
For more different types of headaches go to this site: http://www.headaches.org/2008/12/11/the-complete-headache-chart/
Yours in health,
Eastbourne Chiropractor’s Self Help Advice for Neck Pain and Headaches
So, you have probably read my previous blog post about Chiropractic Treatment for Neck Pain and Headaches
The post (read here) which detailed some of the types of neck pain and headaches that people such as yourself can suffer from. At the end of that article I mentioned that this following blog would discuss some very useful self-help tips that you can do at home. These will allow you to manage your symptoms and will give you a measure of control over how you are feeling. These small everyday actions achieve this by keeping your joints moving well and releasing your neck muscular tension in between your treatments, and therefore making your spine function better in general. We will discuss posture and ergonomics, but firstly, we will go through a few key neck stretches.
These are simple to do and will help to relieve your muscular tightness and can help you avoid headaches. Do them regularly (every day) and also when you feel a headache coming on. The upper trapezius muscles are the ones that you feel at the tops of your shoulders, going up into the neck, and when tight these muscles can often contribute to headaches felt up and over the head and behind the eyes. To stretch the upper trapezius muscles, begin by standing (or sitting) tall with your shoulders straight, then bring your right ear down to your right shoulder so that your head is tilted, and use your right hand to very gently pull down the head to increase the stretch. Repeat on the left side to keep it even.
The small suboccipital muscles are at the back and top of the neck. They go from the top of the neck to the base of the skull and when tight can cause headaches to be felt in that same area. To stretch the suboccipital muscles keep your shoulders and back straight (as always!) and tuck your chin down to give yourself a double chin. Then use your hands to gently pull to increase the stretch.
Improving your posture is vital when you suffer from neck pain and headaches. Simply put, if you are constantly putting your spine in awkward positions then how can you expect the joints and muscles to function normally?
Awkward postures/positions and how to fix them are detailed here…
Problem – Lying on your side on the sofa.
Fix – Sit straight on the sofa, with cushions behind you so your back is straight and with both feet flat on the floor. The TV should be directly in front of you so you don’t need to turn your head.
Problem – Sleeping with the incorrect number of pillows (or even worse, on your front).
Fix – Sleep on your back with one pillow or on your side with two. Speak to your chiropractor for more details as this is a whole topic in itself!
Problem – Holding the phone between your shoulder and your ear for prolonged periods of time
Fix – Avoid this completely
Problem – Reading with your head tilted downwards towards your book/phone.
Fix – Bring your book or phone up towards your face, not the other way around
Check that your desk is set up in an ergonomically correct position, and that everything you need to reach is within arm’s length. Speak to your Eastbourne chiropractor for more details, or take a photo of yourself sitting at your desk in with you to your chiropractic treatment to ask for individual detailed advice.
I hope you have found these tips useful to help control your neck pain and headaches. Please ask your chiropractor if you are ready to do these stretches at home or if you have any questions regarding your individual treatment for your neck pain and headaches.
Thanks for reading,
Interesting facts about the nerves
The nervous system is basically the body’s electrical wiring with electrical signals being sent to and from the brain. The nervous system is made up of two parts which are the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord) and the peripheral nervous system (everything else). The peripheral nervous systems job is to connect the central nervous system with the rest of the body therefore allowing our brain to send and receive signals.
There are many interesting facts about the nerves but these are a few that I find very interesting and I hope that you do too. Next time you are visiting us here in Eastbourne ask your chiropractor to show you the nerve chart.
Nerve facts in numbers
- There are more nerve cells in the human body than the number of stars in the Milky Way.
- 100 billion neurones make up the human brain and if these were to be lined up would measure 600 miles long.
- In a foetus, neurones grow at 250,000 neurones per minute.
- 5 million neurones make up the spinal cord with the cluster of nerves at the base being the most sensitive.
- To connect the central nervous system to the rest of the body there are 43 different pairs of nerves. 12 pairs come out from the brain (protected by the skull) and the other 31 from the spinal cord (protected by the spine).
- Messages sent to the brain can travel as fast as 180 miles per hour.
- During the course of its first year a baby’s brain will grow to almost three times the size at birth.
- Because of the shape of the brain the total surface area is about 25,000 square centimetres.
- The brain of a man, on average, weighs around 100g more than that of a woman.
- The brain of a fully-grown adult is approximately three times as heavy as that of a newborn baby however, after the age of 20, we lose 1g in weight every year.
Miscellaneous Nerve facts
- Due to an area at the top of the neck the left side of the brain controls the right side of the body and the right side of the brain the left side of the body.
- The brain and spinal cord begin to develop in a foetus three weeks after conception.
- Most of the brain, at any given point, is inactive and resting with only 4% of the cells active at any moment in time.
- It has been estimated that 12% of people dream in black and white. This is believed to be due to watching black and white television as most of these people are over 55.
- When blind people dream, whether they dream in picture is down to whether they could see when they were born or were born blind. If they were born blind dreams would typically consist of different senses such as sound, smell, taste and touch.
The study of the nervous system is called neuroscience. Nerves can be very sensitive and are susceptible to physical injury and injury through disease. This can lead to severe pain, tingling, numbness and weakness. One of the most common injuries to nerves occurs to the sciatic nerve and this is often accompanied by severe pain down the back of the leg with tingling and numbness in the foot and often weakness also. This kind of injury generally only effects one side and can be due to a multitude of things. One of the most common is a disc injury in the lower spine (slipped disc).
Look out for my next blog on interesting facts about bones.
Yours in health,
Ice v Heat – What to use when?
Chiropractors often see problems that are chronic, that is the person has been experiencing problems months if not years. On top of this, at our clinic in Eastbourne we also regularly see new injuries that are only days old. Among both these groups of patients, a topic that often causes a lot of confusion is icing, or rather when to ice vs when to heat. This is something that can be very confusing, so hopefully reading this blog will help you understand this topic better.
Firstly, what are ice and heat used for?
Ice is primarily used for injuries. When a tissue in the body gets injured, an inflammatory process takes place. This process is healthy and natural, but unfortunately also is painful and can take a longer time to occur than it needs to. Inflammation causes the damaged tissues to become red, hot and swollen, which is where ice helps. In this sense, ice can be thought of as a mild, drugless method to reduce inflammation. Your chiropractor at our Eastbourne clinic may even use cooling gel as part of a massage or soft tissue technique to enhance this effect.
Heat on the other hand is predominantly used for muscles, stress or chronic pain. Heat can be used in this way to take the edge off of the pain, to reduce the pain of whole muscle spasms and for calming down the nervous system and the mind, which we know is a major help in chronic pain problems.
What are heat and ice not to be used for?
Due to the opposite action of ice and heat, there is the potential that using the wrong method may actually make the problem worse. Heat and inflammation in particular are a very bad combination. Remember what we discussed above: fresh injuries cause inflammation, which leaves the area red, hot and swollen. Adding heat to this area that is already warm and swollen can cause the area to swell up even more and worsen the pain.
On the contrary, ice has the potential to make muscle spasms and chronic tension worse. Trigger points, which are painful sensitive spots within muscles, often develop in people with chronic pain problems. Despite feeling like something that may be helped by ice, these trigger points can actually worsen the pain and ache more acutely if iced. This is a common mistake people make with low back pain and neck pain.
Both of these methods are pointless when unwanted – for example heating when you’re already sweating or icing when you’re already freezing. Not only will this feel very uncomfortable, but the brain can sense things that are in excess as a threat, and when this occurs, the brain may also increase the pain sensation.
So if ice is supposed to be used on injuries and heat is supposed to be used on muscles, what do you do if there is a muscle injury? After all, this is one of the most common injuries that we will encounter on a day to day basis. Unfortunately, like most questions such as this, the answer is – it depends. Usually I would recommend icing for the first couple of days at most, before switching to heat. This should only be done if it is definitely a true muscle injury. Muscle injuries are normally caused by obvious trauma or overload during intense effort, causing sudden and severe pain immediately. In cases such as this, ice can be used to take the edge off the inflammation first, and then once the worst is over heat can be used to soothe the muscle.
At the end of the day, both heat pads and ice packs are not the most powerful forms of treatment, however they have both been shown to have mild benefits, so they are well worth trying. Despite the information above, the bottom line is use whatever feels best for you. You know your body better than anyone else, and if you hate the idea of taking a dip in the Eastbourne sea at Winter, icing may not be at the top of your wishlist! Similarly if you start to use one method and decide you don’t like the feel of it, then by all means just switch to the other and see if that helps.
Thanks for reading and I hope that you have learnt something. If you have any further questions, feel free to contact us here contact us here or ask us next time you are in our clinic in Eastbourne for an adjustment.
Chiropractic Treatment for Neck Pain and Headaches
How Common are Neck Pain and Headaches?
Neck pain is very common, and so are headaches. Here at Lushington Chiropractic Clinic in Eastbourne we frequently meet patients who come in to see us complaining of neck pain and headaches. In some cases, they come in for other problems and when asked they also tell us about their headaches, not realising that chiropractors could treat these issues as a matter of course. From personal experience, I had neck pain and associated headaches myself as a teenager, which is when I saw my first chiropractor for treatment that helped tremendously and allowed me to manage the problem. So, you could say that without my neck pain and headaches I wouldn’t be a chiropractor today!
Can Chiropractic Treat These Problems?
During your initial consultation we take a very thorough history and do an in-depth neuro-orthopaedic examination. The purpose of this is to find out the cause of your neck pain and headaches, and to rule out any serious pathology that would warrant a referral to your GP or elsewhere. Once we have ascertained the cause of your headaches, and ruled out more serious causes then we diagnose the headache type. If they are the types that we can tackle with chiropractic treatment, then we will go on to discuss your options for care with you.
Chiropractors can treat cervicogenic headaches (this translates to ‘coming from the neck’) and we can also help people with the prevention of migraine headaches.
Cervicogenic headaches originate from the stiff joints and tight muscles of the neck, so our aim with treatment is to release the tension in those affected muscles and to enable the joints to move more freely with specific chiropractic adjustments. Improving the function of your neck will allow it to work as it should and will reduce the pain you feel from irritated tissues. You will notice, as you go through a course of care for your neck pain and headaches, that your mobility improves and your neck feels looser. A lot of patients tell us that they no longer have problems looking over their shoulder when they are driving, or that they feel much less aching in the mornings when they used to wake with significant pain and stiffness.
As chiropractors, we focus on improving the function of the spine and rest of the body, so we will be keeping a close eye on your clinical progress with regular review sessions throughout your course of care. This means that we can assess you clinically to see how your symptoms (including pain levels) and function (such as range of motion and mobility) improve with care.
What Advice Will Be Given During Treatment?
During your course of chiropractic care at Lushington Chiropractic in Eastbourne you will also be given self-help advice, including stretches and tips, for you to do at home so that you may better control your symptoms yourself. This helps you to release the tension of the muscles in between your visits for chiropractic treatment. Well also give you ergonomic advice so that your workstation is set up as well as it can possibly be, to allow you to sit straight and in the best possible position for your muscles, joints and nerves. Improving your posture is key to healing as it means that there is minimal extra strain on the body, allowing it to recover faster and more effectively. All of these tips will be covered in much more detail in next month’s blog: Self-Help Advice for Neck Pain and Headaches. Please read the blog for more information, and of course, ask your chiropractor if you have any questions regarding your individual treatment for your neck pain and headaches.
Thanks for reading,
An Eastbourne Chiropractor’s Wellness Tips
I’m the Clinic Director here at Lushington Chiropractic Clinic in Eastbourne. As such I’ve had the opportunity to work with some excellent chiropractors, sports massage therapists and other practitioners over the years. Within the team we often share knowledge, ideas and research or techniques we’ve specialised in. I’ve learnt a lot from my chiropractic colleagues and in this blog, I’m sharing some Wellness Tips I’ve picked up from one of our chiropractors.
These Wellness Tips were originally created by one of our lovely associate chiropractors Caroline Mulliner, when she lived in Eastbourne. They were so good I wanted to share them on a blog, not only for our local community but for anyone who’s looking for some practical advice to keep themselves and their spines a little healthier.
Caroline was a very popular chiropractor with us. In 2016 she moved to practice abroad. I’d like to thank Caroline for her time with us and these fantastic wellness tips:
A large majority of guests visit Lushington for bad back pain, quite often there has been an incident which has triggered these events, although many guests struggle with ways of best looking after their backs. Most of us find it easy to forget to look after ourselves properly. Lots of us take more care of our teeth than our spine.
Keeping healthy and active is great but take care to avoid these common pitfalls. The more abuse you put your body through the more wear and tear can build up.
Remember, there’s no such thing as a replacement spine, so look after it today to protect yourself for tomorrow.
Wellness tips to look after yourself at home:
- NEVER bend forward during the first hour of the day – it puts your back more at risk of injury.
- Find a way to de-stress. Fatigue and stress lowers our pain threshold, making any aches and pains feel worse. When this is the case we’re less likely to do the things that are good for us like sit properly, drink water (not coffee) and do our stretches etc.
- Caroline loved cooking and found that it helped her to unwind. She often juiced and made healthy meals but occasionally enjoyed an unhealthy treat, too! As yourself what is your relaxation and unwinding trick? Find the best way to switch off and then try to make time to indulge in that activity. Have you tried cycling, baking, an exercise class, walking etc? If not, why not give them a go.
- Get sweaty and exercise for at least 20 mins a day, 3 times a week. Find an activity or sport you enjoy; this helps to make it less of a chore and more for enjoyment. Regular exercise is great – find something you’re going to stick with.
- Remember to evenly distribute bags when carrying them. Laptops and those large heavy handbags are the worst offenders. Almost everyone seems to have them hung over their shoulder on a long strap. A back-pack with two straps is best.
Office wellness tips:
As we all work more and more around technology, it has never been more important to think of ways we can make our workplaces a healthier environment.
So, start making some small changes to your routine and build a better workplace. Not only will you feel better at the end of the day, you will hopefully start to feel better about your whole job. Here are some easy to change tips and advice which can help your body function better whilst being at work.
If you are sitting for long periods of time it makes sense that an old basic office chair isn’t doing you any favours. This is because it allows you to slump and lose the natural S shape protective curve in your spine. The best thing to do is invest in a quality chair with good lumbar support, or buy an extra lumbar support pillow to force that curve into your low back. The cheapest and simplest option is to roll up a towel and put that behind your back around the area of your trouser waist line.
Standing desks have become very popular and it makes sense. It isn’t healthy to sit all day; we’re not made for this! It also can become a little uncomfortable standing all day as well. Regular interchanges between sitting and standing is not just beneficial to our physical health, standing has a great effect on your tone of voice when on the phone as well as promoting creativity.
This is an obvious one but you do need a break from the screen, even for just a minute or two. Set a subtle alarm for every 30 minutes, when you hear it, just stretch, stand up, make a cup of tea, or go visit a colleague. Anything just to be away from the screen and your desk for just 5 minutes whilst getting your body moving. The best thing to do is pop outside and get some fresh air every couple of hours, this helps to rest your eyes, refocus your mind and de-stress. Cigarette breaks don’t count!
Computer screen height
This is something that we chiropractors in Eastbourne see regularly. You want your computer screen to be at the same height as your eyes. It’s cheap to buy a couple of blocks to build it up or simply use some big heavy books to rest it on. If your neck is in a straighter position you are more likely to use the muscles around your neck and shoulder girdle appropriately, so less likely to suffer with neck, shoulder pain and/ or headaches.
Another common work place injury is RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury) from constantly using the mouse and typing all day. A good way to get around this is to evaluate your desk area, make sure your mouse, keypad and computer screen are all in alignment. Another thing to think about is an ergonomic mouse, these slightly change the position of your hand creating less stress through the area.
I hope you’ve enjoyed these simple but effective tips from Caroline Mulliner.
Remember that simply reading them won’t help – you need to get start following this chiropractic advice. If you need advice specifically on back pain, then please visit my own website for further help and advice.
Thanks for sharing these with us Caroline.
A step-by-step guide on how to improve your workplace ergonomics
How many hours do you spend sitting at a desk? If it’s anything like most of us, then the answer would be ‘a lot’! In my previous jobs, before retraining as a chiropractor, I spent between 7 and 9 hours per day sitting down in front of a PC. That’s a HUGE proportion of the day. A bad desk setup or chair can have a big impact on how you feel and how your spine works simply because of the time spent in that position. That is why it is very important to make sure your workplace ergonomics are correct.
In this blog post we will discuss how you can set up your desk to be the best possible situation for you to spend time at (remember, sitting all day is never going to be a good thing, even with perfect ergonomics).
To start with, have a look at your chair – is the height correct for you? When sitting, your knees should be bent to 90 degrees, as should your arms at desk-level. See the picture below. You should always use a lumbar roll if you have an office job; it maintains the natural curve of the lumbar spine and reduces flexibility of the lower back and slumping of the shoulders. Essentially, it helps you keep a better posture which is more stable for the back. See my previous blog on lumbar roll use for more details.
Now check your desk, as this must also be at the correct height. Your arms should be at 90 degrees when your forearms reach the desk, and your chair should be able to push underneath it so you don’t need to lean forward to reach your keyboard and books. Everything on top of your desk that you need to get to should be within easy reach; no twisting to reach the printer on the floor! You can also get various aids to help make your wrists more comfortable if you suffer with wrist issues, such as ergonomic mouse pads, and gel pads to fit to your keyboard if needed.
Ok, now look at your monitor. Ideally, you should have a desktop monitor if you work all day at the same workstation. Working from a laptop is problematic for your posture because it becomes impossible to keep the keyboard and screen in the optimal position. If you do work from a laptop, it is advisable to invest in a separate keyboard and monitor to plug in for those extended periods of time at your desk.
The reason it is important to have a monitor on the desk is that it should be at eye level. Keeping your eyes looking straight ahead prevents your head from dipping forwards, which places pressure on your neck, shoulders and back. If you find that your chin juts out and you lean forwards while you work, take a moment to assess your desk environment.
We sometimes use shelves to perch our monitors on here at Lushington. Monitors should be within arm’s reach so you aren’t tempted to lean forward to squint at it! At home I also change my screen resolution so that the icons and text are larger. This isn’t just for those with poor vision; it actually makes it easier to see what you’re doing.
Lastly, remember that it is vitally important to fit in regular breaks when working at a desk. Get up at least three times an hour to walk around, and have a large glass of water on the desk to remind you to keep hydrated!
I hope this article has been a useful guide for workplace ergonomics. Thanks for reading.
For more information, why not explore the rest of www.backblog.co.uk.
What is the difference between a Physiotherapist or Chiropractor?
Physiotherapist or Chiropractor?
I frequently get asked by patients at the clinic at Lushington Chiropractic, what is the difference between a chiropractor and a physiotherapist? Well, there are a lot of similarities between both professions. We both use manual therapy and prescribe exercises to help people move and feel better. So it’s an understandable question, but like most things in life the devil is in the detail as to what the differences are. My personal view is from that of a chiropractor, but I have worked alongside physio’s in the past and will be as impartial as I can be.
What do physiotherapists and Chiropractors have in common?
Based on the NHS choices website definition of physiotherapy, it is described as a profession that helps to restore movement and function when someone is affected by injury, illness, disability. It can also help to reduce the risk of injury or illness in the future. It takes a holistic approach that involves the patient directly in their own care. From this definition you can see there are a lot of similarities between physiotherapists and chiropractors. The most obvious being the focus on restoring movement and function. We both share those goals of wanting you to move and feel better. We also both use manual therapy to help achieve that goal. Generally manual therapy is used more by physiotherapists working within private practice than those working within an NHS hospital setting which is moving more towards exercise based treatment approach.
What kind of manual therapy techniques do chiropractors and physiotherapists use?
We both use a variety of soft tissue techniques such as massage or trigger point therapy for treating stiff and sore muscles. We can combine that with different stretching techniques to help reduce stiffness that can build up within muscles. To help joints move better, we both use joint mobilisation techniques. These are repetitive movements of joints into a specific direction, usually into the direction of joint stiffness. Looking at the updated guidelines from the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) for the treatment of lower back pain. Spinal manipulative therapy is recommended. Incidentally NICE is the organisation that recommends the best practice for the treatment of certain conditions. These guidelines are often used by GPs, consultants and other health care professionals. Chiropractors and osteopaths are trained to manipulate the spine within their education. Whereas if a physiotherapist or GP wants to use spinal manipulation, they have to undergo additional post graduate training.
What sort of education does a chiropractor or physiotherapist have?
To become a qualified chiropractor involves undergoing a four or five year undergraduate degree programme where students learn to diagnose, treat and rehabilitate a wide range of disorders affecting the musculoskeletal system. They will also learn how to take and read x-rays, as well as interpret MRI scans. Once graduated chiropractors will continue their professional development with additional training. To become a qualified physiotherapist involves a three year undergraduate programme or a two year Masters programme for someone who has a relevant degree such as sports science. The focus is not just on the treatment and management of the musculoskeletal disorders. But will learn how to rehabilitate other disorders such as cardiac and respiratory conditions. This is something chiropractors or osteopaths are not trained to do. Physiotherapist do get good training opportunities in their post graduate training working within the NHS.
So who should I see about my back or neck pain?
The answer to that question is it doesn’t matter. As long as you find a good chiropractor or physiotherapist, they will both help you with your lower back or neck pain. If you would like to find out a bit more about what I can do to help you, follow this link to our website.
Thanks for reading.
Is it good for me to click my neck or back?
Is it good for me to click my neck or back?
I have been in practice now for four years and have come across many people who regularly click their necks or backs. Often I am asked if this is a good thing as ‘it makes it feel better’. My years in practice and years of training have taught me that symptoms can be misleading and something that feels better isn’t necessarily easing or solving the problem.
The likelihood is that you have seen someone who regularly twists their neck or back. You may even be someone who does it yourself to get a few clicks or pops. What I am going to do is explain what happens, why people do it and why it is bad for you.
What happens when I click my neck or back?
The clicking and popping is gas being released from the joints where the joint surfaces are separating. This clicking or popping sound is called a cavitation. In the hands of a chiropractor this can be a very useful tool. In the hands of an untrained individual . . . not so much.
Why do I feel the need to click my neck or back?
People feel the need to click their necks or backs due to a feeling of stiffness or discomfort. By forcing our joints, bones and muscles into some kind of action, we can achieve a temporary feeling of relief. The stiffness we experience is generally due to specific muscle tightness or a stuck or fixed joint in the spine. This can be due to an injury or just down to poor posture.
Why shouldn’t I click my own neck or back?
Self-cavitation is non specific, meaning the stiff joint won’t necessary be affected. What happens is you bend or twist and hope that the joint that makes the noise is the stiff one. This is generally not the case as surrounding the stiff joint are normal, moving, more mobile joints.
When you bend or twist to the point where one of the joints must give, it is typically the more mobile joint that gives first. This does provide temporary relief but soon enough there will be the feeling of needing to do it again as the underlying stiffness has not been addressed.
Also when you move these more mobile joints what you are doing is increasing their movement further which can cause hypermobility and overstretching of the ligaments. This can leave you more susceptible to injury and cause the muscles to tighten to try and stabilise the joint.
What should I do if I feel the need to click my own neck or back regularly?
As a chiropractor I have been trained to identify the stiff joints and target them specifically to get them moving again. This is what is needed to provide longer term relief in these situations. The best thing to do if you feel the need to click or pop your back or neck regularly is to get it looked at properly by a professional.
If you would like to get things checked out properly or if you have any further questions, please feel free to give me a ring at the clinic on 01323 722499.
Yours in health,