Mint Tea in a Fisherman’s Cave and Back Pain in 5 Languages

Once you are a chiropractor, even on your holidays it is difficult to escape discussions about back pain. People always want to tell you about their experiences of visits to various chiropractors, physiotherapists or osteopaths. Back pain is just one of those common ailments that most people will have experienced. In fact they say around 80% of people will experience an episode of back pain in their lifetime.

Last week I left the sunny climate of Leeds for a holiday to Morocco. I was somewhat surprised to find myself discussing chiropractic with a fisherman in a cave, all over a mint tea. Bizarre I know. Bear in mind that the discussion was going on in several languages, namely Arabic, English, French, Portuguese and Spanish due to both of ours limited grasp of each other’s native tongue but nevertheless I think I got the gist of it.

It turns out that Mustafa, the said fisherman, is something of a local celebrity and his skill are not just limited to fishing. When not sleeping in a cave and fishing the Atlantic from a precarious position atop of a cliff he also works as a healer. Translation got a bit tricky at this point but I think he had trained in Casablanca with a respected Kinesiologist. Kinesiology or Applied Kinesiology has its roots in chiropractic but is practiced today by a wide range if professions including medical doctors, nurses and physiotherapists and manual therapists. It is essentially muscle testing to identify various weaknesses in the body. Once identified, different therapists may use different techniques to correct the weakness, including joint manipulation as practised by myself and many other chiropractors.

Mustafa was describing to me the different people he has helped over the years with a wide-range of health complaints. Today we live in a world of evidence-based medicine where any claims of helping certain conditions must be backed up by robust scientific evidence. The role of evidence-based medicine in manual therapy is a discussion for another day but I just thought it interesting that in a country steeped in tradition such as Morocco there were still some similarities between our beliefs.

McKenzie Technique

What is McKenzie Technique?

Originally developed by Robin McKenzie in New Zealand in the 1950’s, McKenzie Extensions are great for low back pain caused by lumbar disc problems. They are of interest to me as a chiropractor because low back pain is why most people book an appointment.

For a long time McKenzie extensions have been a favourite of physiotherapists but Leeds chiropractor Alison Eaves has been finding out more.

Take a look at the video link for a great explanation of McKenzie Extensions.

Much more than just push-ups!!

There is a lot more to McKenzie Technique than just a one exercise fits all. Sometimes the chiropractor will move the hips slightly to one side or the other, or may apply additional pressure to the low back as you do the exercise. The technique is very useful for lumbar disc pain (either a bulge or herniation) and seems to have good results when applied to patients with worn or degenerative discs. Seeing as most of us start experiencing wear and tear in our lumbar discs from our mid-20’s then this gentle type of treatment can benefit lots of back pain sufferers.

As I chiropractor I like the McKenzie Technique because it offers the patient a tool to reduce their pain levels and it is something the patient can control. Patients leave my treatment room knowing there is a way to reduce the pain so you don’t have to rely solely on hands-on treatment from your chiropractor. My way of practising as a chiropractor is to put patients’ firmly in control of their pain and to understand their condition.

Can anyone do McKenzie Extensions for back pain?

No!! They can actually aggravate some types of low back pain so always seek the advice of a qualified chiropractor, osteopath or physiotherapist who has experience of using the McKenzie technique before trying these exercises.

Alison Eaves is a chiropractor in Leeds, West Yorkshire and she can be contacted for an appointment at Revive Chiropractic in Adel, LS16. Call 07828 686026 to book an appointment.

Treating Thoracic Spine Pain

As a chiropractor, the majority of my patients in Leeds present to me complaining of low back pain and neck pain but mid back pain (thoracic spine pain to give it the correct terminology) is becoming increasingly common. This is especially true of younger patients in the 20-35 age groups. I am seeing an increasing number of people complaining of a constant, low level ache, in-between the shoulder blades and the base of the neck. If this is left untreated it can often progress in severity and begin to affect normal neck and shoulder movements.

This weekend I left the confines of Leeds and drove down to Birmingham to for a conference focusing on the Thoracic Spine. This is the part of the spine ‘in the middle’. Even amongst chiropractors, it is an area of back pain that sometimes gets forgotten about and it certainly receives less attention than either low back pain or neck pain.

The conference covered something call McKenzie Method which, in the past has been more popular amongst physiotherapists than chiropractors. I have learned some new techniques and can’t wait to test them on patients against some of the more traditional chiropractic techniques such as spinal manipulation. It was also a great opportunity to mix with physiotherapists from both NHS and private practice and share ideas and skills. Needless to saye both groups of therapists were very interested to find out the similarities and differences in the way that a chiropractor and a physiotherapist practice and treat back pain.

Check out the next blog entry for a definition of McKenzie Technique and how it can benefit back and neck pain.

Leeds chiropractor Alison Eaves can be contacted for an appointment on 07828 686026. The only female chiropractor in north Leeds.

Chiropractors granted Royal Charter

The College of Chiropractors will soon be given the honour of being named the Royal College of Chiropractors. In doing so, Chiropractors become the first complementary health specialty to be awarded a Royal Charter. It is great news for Chiropractors and the development of the chiropractic profession in general.

Royal Charters have traditionally been awarded to specialty areas of Medicine such as the Royal College of Surgeons or Royal College of Dentists. It recognises the value of the College of Chiropractors unique position as a leader in the profession.

Alison Eaves, owner of Revive Chiropractic in Leeds says:

“I’m proud that the College of Chiropractors has been granted its Royal Charter. There are lots of chiropractors out there who share my view that chiropractic is well-placed to meet the demands of the growing number of patients suffering from low back pain. This Royal Charter raises the profile of the profession and recognises the high levels of training and unique skills that chiropractors possess in musculoskeletal medicine.”

It is also great news for me as the owner of Revive Chiropractic. I am always trying to build awareness of what it is that chiropractors actually do because so many people still don’t know we exist! Chiropractors remains relatively unknown and yet chiropractic treatment has the potential to help so many people.

If you live in Leeds or West Yorkshire and think you may benefit from chiropractic care or want to find out more call 07828 686026 and speak to chiropractor Alison Eaves.

How long will my back pain take to ‘fix’?

When someone has back pain and they visit a chiropractor it’s probably the question most people want answered. How many sessions = how much £££!

How many treatments will I need?

This depends on a number of factors.

Alison Eaves is a chiropractor in Leeds and has the following advice:

If it is the first time you have experienced back pain and it has only been present for one or two weeks then usually 4-6 treatments is enough to relieve the symptoms. This also allows me to offer advice and exercises to correct poor habits and improve the strength of your back in the long term. Sometimes chiropractic treatment can sort the problem out in less than 4 treatments in which case patients are very happy : but it is unusual to respond this quickly.

The longer the back pain has been present, or the more times back pain has flared up in the past then sometimes a few more chiropractic treatments are required. It may also take a couple of sessions before you start to notice an improvement in your symptoms. Gradually the back pain will start to feel a little easier and the improvement will last for longer periods and so the gap between treatments will increase. You should notice a significant improvement after 6 treatments and if further treatments are required then this will be discussed in detail and the rationale for further care explained.

So if you live in Leeds and have back pain then why not call me on 07828 686026 and discuss how Revive Chiropractic may be able to help.

Don’t be a weekend warrior

I’m off for an action packed weekend in the Yorkshire Dales and will be careering around Aerial Extreme on Saturday and suddenly thought I must be careful not to injure my back! As a chiropractor the last thing you want is to suffer from back pain : not great for business.

So Alison Eaves, a chiropractor in Leeds has the following advice…

It’s almost the weekend and after a week of spending long hours at the office maybe you are yearning for a trip in the Yorkshire Dales or elsewhere in the beautiful countryside surrounding Leeds, Harrogate or West Yorkshire. Before you set off just stop for a brief moment and have a think about your back or you may be regretting it come Monday morning.

If you are spending time in the car then it is a great idea to keep a rolled up towel with you and use this as a lumbar support to help maintain proper posture. Our backs are at a greater risk when we are seated as this loads additional pressure through the spinal joints, intervertebral discs, ligaments and soft tissues.

Once out and about take 5 minutes before you start your walk/cycle to stretch and warm up. Remember to have a good stretch and cool down when you finish as its essential to help reduce any post exercise inflammation. It’s not all doom and gloom though because we know that regular exercise will help maintain joint mobility and a healthy back as well as having wide-ranging health benefits such as reduced risk factors for diabetes, hypertension and heart disease.

Have a great weekend and check back next week for photos of me looking very scared and crying like a big girl!!

Why your Halloween Pumpkin may end up helping your back pain

I’m a chiropractor in Leeds, West Yorkshire and have already got my pumpkin out on display. Have you?

Whatever you do don’t just scoop out the fleshy part of the pumpkin and throw it away! Pumpkin flesh and pumpkin seeds contain powerful antioxidants and are reported to have anti-inflammatory properties. It is packed full of antioxidants, vitamins (especially C ,K and E), minerals (magnesium, iron and potassium) and is also an excellent source of fibre. A real superfood.

How do antioxidants help back pain?

Antioxidants breakdown something called ‘free radicals’, molecules that occur naturally in the body. If free radicals build up in sufficient numbers then they can start to cause problems for the body and can add to the damage already present. Some studies have even suggested a link between high levels of free radicals and chronic pain.

Why is a good diet essential?

A good diet and healthy nutrition help to allow muscles, ligaments and tendons to strengthen, heal and develop properly.

Some pumpkin recipes for you to try

Pumpkin pasta with rosemary

Pumpkin risotto with crispy sage

Sausage, pumpkin and sage casserole

Just don’t sit down!

As a chiropractor I am always telling patients to take regular breaks from their working day. Sitting at the desk for too long, sitting in the car to meetings or just your daily commute and then collapsing on the sofa when you get home just stiffens up your body. Get up and walk around the office, do some stretches and take a walk on your lunch break. This helps with back pain, neck pain and general posture. In the news today is research that sitting for long periods has many other long term health implications.

“Sitting for long periods is bad for your health”

Hardly cutting edge research but nevertheless it’s another study in the public spotlight adding further evidence to the argument that we all need to be less sedentary. What this study showed was that those who sat for long periods were at the highest risk of developing diabetes and heart disease. Exact mechanisms are not yet clear but in terms of diabetes risk, being sedentary affects insulin resistance and glucose metabolism. Regular exercise also helps regulate weight and we know that maintaining a healthy body weight is the best way of minimising the risk of type-2 diabetes. In an earlier blog entry in November 2011 I discussed previous research that came to the same conclusions.

(Study published in the Journal Diabetologia).

What can I do to help myself?

Replace some of that time spent sitting by actually getting up and moving about! A simple way is to take a look at some of the neck and low back exercises posted on the website. Force yourself to get into the habit of doing regular stretching and flexibility work ideally every day but a minimum of twice a week. It is also a great way of relaxing at the end of a busy day, instead of reaching for the tv remote or a glass of wine. You could try putting on some relaxing music for 5 or 10 minutes whilst you do the exercises.

Want to find out more? Why not book an appointment with me to devise a program of regular stretching and strengthening exercises that can become a part of your working day.

Cold and Frosty Mornings

There is a definite nip in the air and autumn is upon us but as we start to reach for the hat and gloves many people also start reaching for the painkillers for those old familiar ‘aches and pains’. Osteoarthritis is a very common condition affecting 8.5 million people in the UK, making it the most common joint disease. As a chiropractor I see lots of patients with osteoarthritis every day in practice and I often hear tales about how the weather can affect joint problems.

Does cold weather make arthritis worse?

Patients have long been telling me that their back pain or joint pain gets worse as the weather gets colder. A friend of mine is 27 years old and has had knee surgery and she often complains that her knee hurts when it gets colder or if the weather is changing and there is a change in barometric pressure. I may even have mockingly uttered the words “you sound like an old woman”!

Just another urban myth?

I had a look at the research to try and find out. One theory says that cold weather stiffens the muscles and so muscles cannot support a joint as effectively. Another idea is that in colder weather the synovial fluid that lubricate joints is of a lower temperature and so becomes more viscous and does not lubricate the joint as well. A drop in the barometric pressure that usually accompanies damp and wet weather has also been blamed, supposedly causing joints to swell!

However there is no evidence that weather directly affects joints or causes any damage to them, there is no more incidence of arthritis in cold, damp and rainy climates than in warm, dry and sunny places. Osteoarthritis occurs all over the world and in all types of climate.

What do we know then?

Regular exercise and muscle strengthening exercises will help osteoarthritis. This is because we need well-functioning muscles to support joints and allow them to move freely. Strengthening the muscles and keeping muscles at optimal length through regular stretching WILL help your joints function better. Resting, or doing no exercise at all just means that stiff joints stiffen up even further. A little bit of short term discomfort in joints following gentle exercise is better in the long term than doing no exercise at all.

So you need to wrap up warm and get out and enjoy some of the great Yorkshire countryside we are so lucky to have on our doorstep!

Aches and pains: a part of getting older?

Whether it is the day after a hard gym session, a hard day’s work in the garden or a weekend of looking after the grandchildren, all of these activities they can leave your body feeling tired and achy. We often put this down to a hectic lifestyle or age catching up with us. Don’t just accept the inevitable – Revive Chiropractic in Leeds can help. Chiropractic treatment works to free tension within the joints and muscles, leading to less pain and more freedom of movement. As I chiropractor I will take a careful case history and perform a physical examination to determine the main cause of your problems and then select the most appropriate form of treatment. Chiropractic treatment uses a variety of techniques and can be much gentler than you think! It may involve manipulation of the joints (where you hear a click or ‘pop’), more gentle mobilisation or using an instrument called an activator to deliver a small mechanical impulse to the joint. I will also work on surrounding muscles and soft tissues that may have become too tight from being under too much mechanical stress and give exercises designed to strengthen weakened muscles and restore normal joint function.

Alison Eaves is the chiropractor at Revive Chiropractic in Leeds and is registered with the General Chiropractic Council and Scottish Chiropractic Association. Treatment is covered by most major medical insurers.