Don’t let back pain ruin your Christmas

So you might be thinking why don’t I just do the exercises if it gets the same results? Great if you will religiously stick to the exercises? But we know that people don’t take care of themselves. Most people want the easy option. We are too busy, lazy, preoccupied with modern living (delete as appropriate) to find the time to properly care for our musculoskeletal health. And imagine how effective the outcomes may be if exercises are combined with spinal manipulation?! Add in some massage of tight muscles and the combination of these types of treatment is typically how I would treat neck pain as a chiropractor. So yes, exercises can help and indeed form an important part of any chiropractic treatment program at Revive Chiropractic.


The study also tells us what we already know…that taking medication is not often the answer for neck pain. When it comes to joints and bones you have to physically change the mechanics and restore normal joint movement to reduce pain. I actually don’t care much whether you do that by physiotherapy, osteopathy, rehabilitation exercises or chiropractic treatment. As long as your therapist listens and understands your pain and prescribes the appropriate care for your complaint.


NHS diabetes care failing

It is with great interest that I saw a headline flash up on the BBC website today stating that “24,000 diabetes deaths a year could be avoided”

"Many of these deaths could be prevented," said Dr Bob Young, diabetologist and spokesman for the National Diabetes Information Service.

"We know that half of people with Type 2 and more than two thirds of people with Type 1 diabetes are not receiving the care they need to stay healthy," said Barbara Young, Diabetes UK chief executive.

With comments like this it is clear that we need to look at diabetes care in a new light.

Getting Sorted

Aside from my work as a chiropractor I also work as a coordinator for the Getting Sorted program. This is a series of 5 workshops run at weekends for teenagers with type 1 diabetes and it aims to help deliver diabetes care in a fresh and innovative way. There are no doctors, no nurses, just real people and the program itself is delivered by a young adult who has type 1diabetes. We adults just sit quietly in the background and let the kids do the talking.

They find that that through discussions and shared experiences they learn from one another about how to cope with their diabetes. It’s not just about diabetes though; he program aims to empower participants and build self confidence through a series of team building and communication exercises. As the workshops run at weekends its also about having fun and making friends.

There are no simple answers to diabetes care and it is a complex and multi faceted problem however it is clear that the current model of care is failing. Diabetes is associated with several long term potentially serious complications but it can be very effectively managed. The challenge is to find innovative and better ways to manage the condition.

To find out more about the Getting Sorted program please click on the link

New study reveals over a third of cancers are caused by lifestyle factors

It was all over the news last week that nearly half of cancers diagnosed in the UK are preventable in the sense that they are caused by avoidable life choices. So what should you avoid?

The big bad three

1) Smoking

2) Lack of fruit and vegetables

3) Being overweight

So you know that all three are bad but do you know some of the key risks and how they differ for men and women? Males you should stop smoking as it causes nearly a quarter of cancers in men and eat more fruit and vegetable. Ladies should avoid being overweight as this was found to be the second leading cause after smoking (after tobacco) across all types of cancer.

Why choose a healthy lifestyle?

I’m not here to preach and everybody lives their life surrounded by different circumstances; but as a chiropractor I have an interest in helping your body to function just as it was designed to. That means not just good musculoskeletal health (joints, muscles and connective tissue) but a healthy lifestyle as well which includes a balanced diet and regular exercise. This combination really does help with that ‘healthy body, healthy mind’. I know because I have been on the journey myself, from a couch potato student to running a sub 4:15 marathon within a year!

Choose the road to health

Make chiropractic treatment a regular part of your life and experience just how good it feels!

Core Stability for Athletes

What’s it all about?

Strengthening the entire body is vital if you want to obtain maximum performance. The core stabilising musculature links the spine, pelvis and shoulders and lies deep in the abdomen. Coordination between all three areas is vital to enable efficient arm and leg movements. Core stability is vital for running because it allows you to control the position and movement of the central portion of your body and your limbs. It also assists in maintaining good posture and balance.

Good core stability will maximise running performance and also help reduce or even prevent injuries. The aim is to maintain optimum forces and pressure through all aspects of the kinematic chain i.e. efficient running style form head to toe. A strong core will help control the power generated by your body to your limbs allowing smooth and controlled movements. It is especially important to work on your core at the end of a training session when leg and abdominal muscles may be fatigued. Maintaining good posture and running form when tired can really help improve performance because it keeps your running style efficient so you conserve energy.

Not an athlete?

It doesn’t matter! Everybody needs good core stability and you just start with the basics. There will be a series of articles on core stability coming up.

Painkillers "increase risk of heart disease"

As a chiropractor in Leeds, many of my patients will come and see me with back pain or neck pain or other joint pain. Many of these chiropractic patients will also be currently taking or have previously taken anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen. Anti-inflammatory drugs are used by millions of people to treat pain and inflammation from many conditions such as back pain and neck pain.

Study raises concerns over use of painkillers

A recent study has raised concerns of side effects with anti-inflammatory medication. People who take anti-inflammatory painkillers daily could be putting themselves at an increased risk of heart disease say scientists from the Aarhus university hospital in Denmark. They looked at the habits of more than 30,000 people who took non-steroidal anti-inflammatory painkillers daily and who have atrial fibrillation (an irregular heartbeat).

Studies found that the risk of developing atrial fibrillation increased by up to 70 per cent in those taking regular pain medication for common complaints such as arthritis. An irregular heartbeat can lead to serious conditions such as heart disease, and can increase the risk of having a stroke.

Senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, Natasha Stewart, said: “Those most at risk are the elderly or people with other illnesses, such as chronic kidney disease of rheumatoid arthritis.” Stewart stressed that any risks were very small but that those with concerns should talk to their GPs.

So this research has to be viewed in context but it does show that there are known risks associated with taking medication, especially with the elderly. As I chiropractor, I never advise my chiropractic patients to stop taking prescribed medication but many of them are able to reduce the dose after a course of treatment. If manual therapy and chiropractic treatment helps them to do this and therefore reduces potential risk surely that can only be a good thing and is worth investigating further?

NB Patients reducing their medication is a personal choice and I would never recommend a patient reduce doses of prescribed medication without first discussing this with their GP.

Is surgery better than exercises?

A study published this month (well a few months ago as I’m updating the blog) in the British Medical Journal looked at whether surgery with disc prosthesis (disc replacement) was more effective than rehabilitation. At 2 year follow up patients improved more after surgery than rehabilitation but both groups improved overall. However the improvement of surgery patients did not exceed the prespecified minimal clinically important difference. When you consider the additional risks involved in surgery this research supports the role of conservative care.

Chiropractors do apply manual therapy techniques with patients but a lot of what we do also includes both rehabilitation and advice to patients on how to manage their back pain and the rehabilitation methods in this study have a lot in common with a visit to see a chiropractor. In this study, patients in the rehabilitation group took part in a variety of physical exercises including training of the abdominal muscles and lumbar multifidi muscles. They also received training on the origins of back pain and were taught coping strategies for getting back to every day activities. In total they received about 60 hours of outpatient care over three to 5 weeks. There was significant improvement in the rehabilitation group without the risks of surgery! I believe surgery has its place in the management and treatment of back pain but this article is really important in reminding us clinicians to evaluate all the options.

Olympic Fever: Top Athletes Endorse Chiropractic

Not long to go now until the London 2012 Opening Ceremony and Olympics fever is starting to take over. Never mind the torch route through Leeds and West Yorkshire; did you know that former Olympians Brendan Foster and Steve Cram love chiropractic! It is possible that a person can have a mechanical dysfunction without being aware of any clinical symptoms. If that is the case then not only will they be prone to injury when applying that extra bit of effort but as they are not functioning correctly then they cannot perform to their maximum capability. Brendan Foster tells us that "when athletes are competing at a high level the care of a chiropractor is key to their preparation before an event," and Steve Cram says "chiropractic is a fast and effective way of treating and preventing injuries. I constantly recommend chiropractic to athletes…"

Are you in pain at work..?

Do you suffer from neck, back and shoulder pain or stress and tension? Try performing Brugger Breaks regularly throughout the day. Brugger breaks are an exercise proven to help relieve tension in the neck and shoulders.

Within our society, a very common postural syndrome may be found where a person’s head is drawn forward with stresses at the top of the neck beneath the skull, and then in the neck and upper back near the shoulders. The slumped posture taken by most may also result in stresses in the middle and lower back.

The slumped posture places increased stress on the spinal discs. If the uneven stresses are allowed to progress over time, the discs may wear out prematurely and give way to deterioration, bulging, herniation of the discs, and eventual arthritis of the intervertebral joints. Faulty slumping posture is also associated with increased muscle tension and poor breathing habits.

Brugger’s relief position allows for a mini-break from the slumping posture and may help to prevent the buildup of stresses that occur throughout the day. It is a great exercise to ease neck and shoulder pain.

If a person works for long hours in a constrained, slumped posture, he or she needs to find some ways to sit more upright, using lumbar supports if possible. Then, micro-breaks every 20 minutes for about 10 seconds may be useful.

I like to perform the Brugger’s relief position while standing but it may also be performed when sitting.

If sitting:

• Sit on the edge of your chair

• Hold your head up high

• Spread your legs slightly apart to the sides

• Turn your legs out slightly

• Rest your weight on your legs and feet and relax your abdominal muscles

• Tilt your pelvis forward and raise your breastbone up

• Turn your hands palms-up

• Turn your arms slightly outward

• Hold this position and take deep "belly" breaths for 10 seconds

If standing:

• Stand tall and proud with head held high

• Spread your legs slightly apart to the sides

• Turn your feet outward slightly

• Draw your belly in slightly toward your spine

• Tilt your pelvis forward and raise your breastbone up

• Turn your hands palms-up and your arms slightly outward, with the arms somewhat raised from your sides

• Hold this position and take deep "belly" breaths for 10 seconds

By being faithful to this exercise, patients may notice less muscle tension, better breathing, and the sensation of straighter sitting and standing.

Sitting for too long could actually kill you.

New research has found that sitting for too long can kill you! That is the startling fact reported in a Canadian Study published in the British Medical Journal this month. Sitting for long periods doubles the risk of developing blood clots that have the potential to travel to the lungs where they become lodged in blood vessels and cut off the blood supply to a part of, or in severe cases, a large part of the lung (known as a pulmonary embolism if the clot gets trapped in a blood vessel supplying the lung). Pulmonary embolism is a consequence of a deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or a blood clot in a vein. If the clot becomes dislodged and travel to the lung it is known as a pulmonary embolism.

The study looked at female nurses who had completed biennial questionnaires over an 18 year period. Results showed an association between time of sitting and risk of idiopathic pulmonary embolism; women with the most physical inactivity had more than twice the risk of pulmonary embolism compared with those with the least physical inactivity. (The study has several limitations, one of the most important being that the sample is not representative of the general population i.e. it is all women, 95% of whom are ethnic white and mean age ≥ 55 years but this is beyond the scope of this article)

The bottom line: the study suggested more should be done to discourage a sedentary lifestyle.

Keep an eye on upcoming blog posts for workplace tips on avoiding back pain in the office. Do not sit still!

We already knew that sitting in the same posture for prolonged periods is bad for our posture and that it puts additional pressure on our joints and muscles. So if you’re sat in the office get up out of your chair and take a walk every now and then. Why not surprise your colleagues and volunteer to make the tea and coffee for a change? They will be ever grateful and you will be a whole lot more comfortable. Don’t like being the tea boy? A quick 30 second circuit of the office is all that is required to fire up our muscles again and reawaken our postural sensors. Can’t manage 30 seconds away from your desk? Then keep an eye out for some exercises to be posted on the website soon. No excuses, it really can be that simple!