Tennis Elbow

Tennis elbow is actually a misnomer in that it occurs in roughly only five percent of people who play tennis. Anatomically, the cause of tennis elbow is repetitive use of the forearm extensor muscles, especially if they weren’t used much previously. Practically any occupation, sporting endeavor, or household activity that has repeated use of the forearm and wrist may lead to this condition. Certain activities and occupations are more commonly associated with tennis elbow, such as plumbing, painting, fishing, butchering, computer use, and playing certain musical instruments. Tennis elbow is most common in adults between the ages of 30 and 50, but can affect people of all ages.

Symptoms
People with tennis elbow complain of pain that expands from the outer elbow into their forearm and wrist. The pain primarily occurs where the tendons of your forearm attach to the bony areas on the outside elbow. In addition to pain, people with tennis elbow experience weakness that makes it particularly difficult to hold a coffee cup, turn a doorknob, or even shake hands. Tennis elbow can cause weakness when twisting or grabbing objects.

Tests
In many cases, your doctor can diagnosis tennis elbow simply by listening to you describe your symptoms, performing a physical examination, and learning about your lifestyle and activities. However, if your physician suspects other reasons like a pinched nerve, fracture, or arthritis are causing your pain, he may suggest X-rays, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), or Electromyography (EMG).

Treatment
A chiropractor will be able to determine if a misalignment in your spine, neck, or shoulders may be causing an overcompensation injury. In some cases, a basic chiropractic adjustment may be all your need to stop your symptoms of pain. Your chiropractor will also work with you to determine which activities may have caused your injury and will  have you rest your arm while refraining from the trigger activities. Your chiropractor will also likely tell you to apply ice to the outside elbow two or three times a day for two to three weeks. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, naproxen, or aspirin, help reduce pain and inflammation while your elbow is healing. Compression, by using an elastic bandage, is helpful to provide relief and prevent further injury. Lastly, elevating your elbow whenever possible will limit or prevent swelling.

If rest and ice do not alleviate your tennis elbow symptoms, then a physical therapy plan is often the recommended next step. You will learn exercises to stretch and strengthen the muscles and tendons in your arm. Your chiropractor or physical therapist will also work with you to develop proper form and technique regarding the activity that was the likely culprit to developing your tennis elbow. Depending on the severity of the injury, your chiropractor or physical therapist may suggest you wear a brace or forearm strap, which will reduce stress on the injured tissue while it heals.

Contact us today: 01273 584812, email info@peacehavenchiropractic.co.uk or BOOK APPOINTMENT

Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a metabolic disease involving loss of bone tissue and the disorganisation of bone structure. Osteoporosis affects more than 200 million people worldwide and more than 10 million Americans. In the United States an additional 18 million persons have low bone mass. The total of 28 million individuals represents almost 10% of all Americans, characterising the pandemic nature of these disorders of bone.

A long list of other diseases may cause bone loss (osteopenia), including many varieties of malignant cancer, hyperthyroidism, and malabsorption syndrome. Osteoporosis is bone loss specifically related to metabolic factors. These factors include calcium levels, vitamin D levels, and the activity of osteoblasts – bone cells which produce bone matrix. Bone matrix is a mix of organic components such as collagen and inorganic materials such as phosphate and calcium. Loss of bone mass describes loss of the components of the bone matrix.

Many conditions, circumstances, and deficiencies may be implicated in the development of osteoporosis. Menopause is strongly correlated with the presence of osteoporosis. Age greater than 50 and smoking are strongly correlated, as well. Calcium deficiency, vitamin D deficiency, inadequate dietary protein, and certain gastrointestinal syndromes are all causes of loss of bone mass and osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis primarily affects weight-bearing bones, including the pelvis, femur (thigh bone), and lumbar vertebras. Bone loss in these critical structures may directly result in hip fractures and fractures of the lumbar spine, which are some of the potentially debilitating and devastating outcomes of osteoporosis. Importantly, the development of osteoporosis is often associated with lack of exercise.

In consequence, consistent weight-bearing exercise is a key lifestyle choice in helping to prevent loss of bone mass. When we exercise, particularly when we do gravity-resisting activities such as walking, running, and bicycling or various types of strength-training exercises, our bodies respond not only by building new muscle. but also by building new bone. This physiologic response is known as Wolff’s law, which states that bone remodels along lines of physiologic stress. In other words, bone responds to mechanical challenges by building more bone. The result is stronger, denser bones which are much less likely to fracture.

Where does chiropractic care come in? Chiropractic care directly addresses spinal misalignments, which in turn directly impact proper functioning of the nerve system. Spinal misalignments are associated with tight and inflamed spinal ligaments and muscles and restricted mobility in the neck, lower back, and/or mid-back. These factors result in deficient flow of information between the nerve system and the rest of your body. When your cells and tissues aren’t receiving the correct information they need, symptoms and disease are the likely result.

In terms of osteoporosis, regular, vigorous exercise and proper nutrition provide the right setting and the right ingredients for maintaining healthy bones. Regular chiropractic care, by correcting spinal misalignments and optimizing nerve system functioning, makes it possible for your body to properly use your exercise and nutrition to keep your bones healthy and strong.

Contact us today: 01273 584812, email info@peacehavenchiropractic.co.uk or BOOK APPOINTMENT

Whiplash

The term “whiplash” was first used in 1928 to define an injury mechanism of sudden hyperextension followed by an immediate hyperflexion of the neck that results in damage to the muscles, ligaments and tendons – especially those that support the head.  Today, we know that whiplash injuries frequently do not result from hyperextension or hyperflexion (extension and flexion beyond normal physiological limits), but rather an extremely rapid extension and flexion that causes injuries.

Due to their complicated nature and profound impact on peoples lives, few topics in health care generate as much controversy as whiplash injuries.  Unlike a broken bone where a simple x-ray can validate the presence of the fracture and standards of care can direct a health care professional as to the best way in which to handle the injury, whiplash injuries involve an unpredictable combination of nervous system, muscles joints and connective tissue disruption that is not simple to diagnose and can be even more of a challenge to treat.  In order to help you understand the nature of whiplash injuries and how they should be treated, it is necessary to spend a bit of time discussing the mechanics of how whiplash injuries occur.

The Four Phases of a Whiplash Injury

During a rear-end automobile collision, your body goes through an extremely rapid and intense acceleration and deceleration.  In fact, all four phases of a whiplash injury occur in less than one-half of a second!  At each phase, there is a different force acting on the body that contributes to the overall injury, and with such a sudden and forceful movement, damage to the vertebrae, nerves, discs, muscles, and ligaments of your neck and spine can be substantial.

Phase 1

During this first phase, your car begins to be pushed out from under you, causing your mid-back to be flattened against the back of your seat.  This results in an upward force in your cervical spine, compressing your discs and joints.  As your seat back begins to accelerate your torso forward, your head moves backward, creating a shearing force in your neck.  If your head restraint is properly adjusted, the distance your head travels backward is limited.  However, most of the damage to the spine will occur before your head reaches your head restraint.  Studies have shown that head restraints only reduce the risk of injury by 11-20%.

Phase 2

During phase two, your torso has reached peak acceleration – 1.5 to 2 times that of your vehicle itself – but your head has not yet begun to accelerate forward and continues to move rearward.  An abnormal S-curve develops in your cervical spine as your seat back recoils forward, much like a springboard, adding to the forward acceleration of the torso. Unfortunately, this forward seat back recoil occurs while your head is still moving backward, resulting in a shearing force in the neck that is one of the more damaging aspects of a whiplash injury.  Many of the bone, joint, nerve, disc and TMJ injuries that I see clinically occur during this phase.

Phase 3

During the third phase, your torso is now descending back down in your seat and your head and neck are at their peak forward acceleration.  At the same time, your car is slowing down.  If you released the pressure on your brake pedal during the first phases of the collision, it will likely be reapplied during this phase. Reapplication of the brake causes your car to slow down even quicker and increases the severity of the flexion injury of your neck.  As you move forward in your seat, any slack in your seat belt and shoulder harness is taken up.

Phase 4

This is probably the most damaging phase of the whiplash phenomenon.  In this fourth phase, your torso is stopped by your seat belt and shoulder restraint and your head is free to move forward unimpeded.  This results in a violent forward-bending motion of your neck, straining the muscles and ligaments, tearing fibers in the spinal discs, and forcing vertebrae out of their normal position.  Your spinal cord and nerve roots get stretched and irritated, and your brain can strike the inside of your skull causing a mild to moderate brain injury.  If you are not properly restrained by your seat harness, you may suffer a concussion, or more severe brain injury, from striking the steering wheel or windshield.

Injuries Resulting from Whiplash Trauma

As we discussed briefly in the introduction, whiplash injuries can manifest in a wide variety of ways, including neck pain, headaches, fatigue, upper back and shoulder pain, cognitive changes and low back pain.  Due to the fact that numerous factors play into the overall whiplash trauma, such as direction of impact, speed of the vehicles involved, as well as sex, age and physical condition, it is impossible to predict the pattern of symptoms that each individual will suffer.  Additionally, whiplash symptoms commonly have a delayed onset, often taking weeks or months to present.  There are, however, a number of conditions that are very common among those who have suffered from whiplash trauma.

Neck pain

It is the single most common complaint in whiplash trauma, being reported by over 90% of patients.  Often this pain radiates across the shoulders, up into the head, and down between the shoulder blades.  Whiplash injuries tend to affect all of the tissues in the neck, including the facet joints and discs between the vertebrae, as well as all of the muscles, ligaments and nerves.

Facet joint pain is the most common cause of neck pain following a car accident.  Facet joint pain is usually felt on the back of the neck, just to the right or left of center, and is usually tender to the touch.  Facet joint pain cannot be visualized on x-rays or MRIs.  It can only be diagnosed by physical palpation of the area.

Disc injury is also a common cause of neck pain; especially chronic pain.  The outer wall of the disc (called the anulus) is made up of bundles of fibers that can be torn during a whiplash trauma.  These tears, then, can lead to disc degeneration or herniation, resulting in irritation or compression of the nerves running through the area.  This compression or irritation commonly leads to radiating pain into the arms, shoulders and upper back, and may result in muscle weakness.

Damage to the muscles and ligaments in the neck and upper back are the major cause of the pain experienced in the first few weeks following a whiplash injury, and is the main reason why you experience stiffness and restricted range of motion.  But as the muscles have a chance to heal, they typically don’t cause as much actual pain as they contribute to abnormal movement.  Damage to the ligaments often results in abnormal movement and instability.

Headaches

After neck pain, headaches are the most prevalent complaint among those suffering from whiplash injury, affecting more than 80% of all people.  While some headaches are actually the result of direct brain injury, most are related to injury of the muscles, ligaments and facet joints of the cervical spine, which refer pain to the head.  Because of this, it is important to treat the supporting structures of your neck in order to help alleviate your headaches.

TMJ problems

A less common, but very debilitating disorder that results from whiplash is temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ).  TMJ usually begins as pain, clicking and popping noises in the jaw during movement.  If not properly evaluated and treated, TMJ problems can continue to worsen and lead to headaches, facial pain, ear pain and difficulty eating.  Many chiropractors are specially trained to treat TMJ problems, or can refer you to a TMJ specialist.

Brain injury

Believe it or not, mild to moderate brain injury is common following a whiplash injury, due to the forces on the brain during the four phases mentioned earlier.  The human brain is a very soft structure, suspended in a watery fluid called cerebrospinal fluid.  When the brain is forced forward and backward in the skull, the brain bounces off the inside of the skull, leading to bruising or bleeding in the brain itself.  In some cases, patients temporarily lose consciousness and have symptoms of a mild concussion. More often, there is no loss of consciousness, but patients complain of mild confusion or disorientation just after the crash.  The long-term consequences of a mild brain injury can include mild confusion, difficulty concentrating, sleep disturbances, irritability, forgetfulness, loss of sex drive, depression and emotional instability.  Although less common, the nerves responsible for your sense of smell, taste and even your vision may be affected as well, resulting in a muted sense of taste, changes in your sensation of smell and visual disturbances.

Dizziness

Dizziness following a whiplash injury usually results from injury to the facet joints of the cervical spine, although in some cases injury to the brain or brain stem may be a factor as well.  Typically, this dizziness is very temporary improves significantly with chiropractic treatment.

Low back pain

Although most people consider whiplash to be an injury of the neck, the low back is also commonly injured as well.  In fact, low back pain is found in more than half of rear impact-collisions in which injury was reported, and almost three-quarters of all side-impact crashes.  This is mostly due to the fact that the low back still experiences a tremendous compression during the first two phases of a whiplash injury, even though it does not have the degree of flexion-extension injury experienced in the neck.

Recovery from Whiplash

With proper care, many mild whiplash injuries heal within six to nine months.  However, more than 20% of those who suffer from whiplash injuries continue to suffer from pain, weakness or restricted movement two years after their accident.  Unfortunately, the vast majority of these people will continue to suffer from some level of disability or pain for many years after that, if not for the rest of their lives.

Whiplash is a unique condition that requires the expertise of a skilled health professional specially trained to work with these types of injuries.  The most effective treatment for whiplash injuries is a combination of chiropractic care, rehabilitation of the soft tissues and taking care of yourself at home.

Chiropractic Care

Chiropractic care utilizes manual manipulation of the spine to restore the normal movement and position of the spinal vertebrae.  It is by far the single-most effective treatment for minimizing the long-term impact of whiplash injuries, especially when coupled with massage therapy, trigger point therapy, exercise rehabilitation and other soft tissue rehabilitation modalities.

Soft Tissue Rehabilitation

The term ‘soft tissue’ simply refers to anything that is not bone, such as your muscles, ligaments, tendons, nervous system, spinal discs and internal organs.  During a whiplash injury, the tissues that are affected most are the soft tissues, the muscles, ligaments and discs in particular.  In order to minimize permanent impairment and disability, it is important to use therapies that stimulate the soft tissues to heal correctly.  These include massage therapy, electro-stimulation, trigger point therapy, stretching and specific strength and range of motion exercises.

Home Care

The most effective chiropractic care and soft tissue rehabilitation will be limited in its benefit if what you do at home or at work stresses or re-injures you on a daily basis.  For this reason, it is important that your plan of care extend into the hours and days between your clinic visits to help speed your recovery.  Some of the more common home care therapies are the application of ice packs, limitations on work or daily activities, specific stretches and exercises, taking nutritional supplements and getting plenty of rest.

Medical Intervention

In some severe cases of whiplash, it may be necessary to have some medical care as part of your overall treatment plan.  The most common medical treatments include the use of anti-inflammatory medications, muscle relaxants, trigger point injections and, in some cases, epidural spinal injections.  These therapies should be used for short-term relief of pain, if necessary, and not be the focus of treatment.  After all, a drug cannot restore normal joint movement and stimulate healthy muscle repair.  Fortunately, surgery is only needed in some cases of herniated discs, when the disc is pressing on the spinal cord, and in some cases of spine fractures.

Contact us today: 01273 584812, email info@peacehavenchiropractic.co.uk or BOOK APPOINTMENT

Stress

Modern life is full of pressure, stress and frustration.  Worrying about your job security, being overworked, driving in rush-hour traffic, arguing with your spouse – all these create stress. According to a recent survey by the American Psychology Association, fifty-four percent of Americans are concerned about the level of stress in their everyday lives and two-thirds of Americans say they are likely to seek help for stress.

You may feel physical stress as the result of too much to do, not enough sleep, a poor diet or the effects of an illness. Stress can also be mental: when you worry about money, a loved one’s illness, retirement, or experience an emotionally devastating event, such as the death of a spouse or being fired from work.

However, much of our stress comes from less dramatic everyday responsibilities. Obligations and pressures which are both physical and mental are not always obvious to us. In response to these daily strains your body automatically increases blood pressure, heart rate, respiration, metabolism, and blood flow to your muscles. This response is intended to help your body react quickly and effectively to a high-pressure situation.

The Stress Response

Often referred to as the “fight-or-flight” reaction, the stress response occurs automatically when you feel threatened.  Your body’s fight-or-flight reaction has strong biological roots.  It’s there for self-preservation. This reaction gave early humans the energy to fight aggressors or run from predators and was important to help the human species survive.  But today, instead of protecting you, it may have the opposite effect.  If you are constantly stressed you may actually be more vulnerable to life-threatening health problems.

Any sort of change in life can make you feel stressed, even good change.  It’s not just the change or event itself, but also how you react to it that matters.  What may be stressful is different for each person.  For example, one person may not feel stressed by retiring from work, while another may feel stressed.

How stress affects your body

When you experience stress, your pituitary gland responds by increasing the release of a hormone called adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH). When the pituitary sends out this burst of ACTH, it’s like an alarm system going off deep inside your brain.  This alarm tells your adrenal glands, situated atop your kidneys, to release a flood of stress hormones into your bloodstream, including cortisol and adrenaline.  These stress hormones cause a whole series of physiological changes in your body, such as increasing your heart rate and blood pressure, shutting down your digestive system, and altering your immune system.  Once the perceived threat is gone, the levels of cortisol and adrenaline in your bloodstream decline, and your heart rate and blood pressure and all of your other body functions return to normal.

In response to stress your body automatically increases blood pressure, heart rate, respiration, metabolism, and blood flow to your muscles. This response is intended to help your body react quickly and effectively to a high-pressure situation.

If stressful situations pile up one after another, your body has no chance to recover. This long-term activation of the stress-response system can disrupt almost all your body’s processes.  Some of the most common physical responses to chronic stress are experienced in the digestive system.  For example, stomach aches or diarrhea are very common when you’re stressed. This happens because stress hormones slow the release of stomach acid and the emptying of the stomach. The same hormones also stimulate the colon, which speeds the passage of its contents.

Chronic stress tends to dampen your immune system as well, making you more susceptible to colds and other infections. Typically, your immune system responds to infection by releasing several substances that cause inflammation.  Chronic systemic inflammation contributes to the development of many degenerative diseases.

Stress has been linked with the nervous system as well, since it can lead to depression, anxiety, panic attacks and dementia. Over time, the chronic release of cortisol can cause damage to several structures in the brain.  Excessive amounts of cortisol can also cause sleep disturbances and a loss of sex drive. The cardiovascular system is also affected by stress because there may be an  increase in both heart rate and blood pressure, which may lead to heart attacks or strokes.

Exactly how you react to a specific stressor may be completely different from anyone else.  Some people are naturally laid-back about almost everything, while others react strongly at the slightest hint of stress.  If you have had any of the following conditions, it may be a sign that you are suffering from stress: Anxiety, Insomnia, back pain, relationship problems, constipation, shortness of breath, depression, stiff neck, fatigue, upset stomach, and  weight gain or loss.

After decades of research, it is clear that the negative effects associated with stress are real.  Although you may not always be able to avoid stressful situations, there are a number of things that you can do to reduce the effect that stress has on your body.  The first is relaxation. Learning to relax doesn’t have to be difficult. Here are some simple techniques to help get you started on your way to tranquility.

Relaxed breathing

Have you ever noticed how you breathe when you’re stressed? Stress typically causes rapid, shallow breathing. This kind of breathing sustains other aspects of the stress response, such as rapid heart rate and perspiration. If you can get control of your breathing, the spiraling effects of acute stress will automatically become less intense. Relaxed breathing, also called diaphragmatic breathing, can help you.

Practice this basic technique twice a day, every day, and whenever you feel tense. Follow these steps:

  • Inhale. With your mouth closed and your shoulders relaxed, inhale as slowly and deeply as you can to the count of six. As you do that, push your stomach out. Allow the air to fill your diaphragm.
  • Hold. Keep the air in your lungs as you slowly count to four.
  • Exhale. Release the air through your mouth as you slowly count to six.
  • Repeat. Complete the inhale-hold-exhale cycle three to five times.

Progressive muscle relaxation

The goal of progressive muscle relaxation is to reduce the tension in your muscles. First, find a quiet place where you’ll be free from interruption. Loosen tight clothing and remove your glasses or contacts if you’d like.

Tense each muscle group for at least five seconds and then relax for at least 30 seconds. Repeat before moving to the next muscle group.

  • Upper part of your face. Lift your eyebrows toward the ceiling, feeling the tension in your forehead and scalp. Relax. Repeat.
  • Central part of your face. Squint your eyes tightly and wrinkle your nose and mouth, feeling the tension in the center of your face. Relax. Repeat.
  • Lower part of your face. Clench your teeth and pull back the corners of your mouth toward your ears. Show your teeth like a snarling dog. Relax. Repeat.
  • Neck. Gently touch your chin to your chest. Feel the pull in the back of your neck as it spreads into your head. Relax. Repeat.
  • Shoulders. Pull your shoulders up toward your ears, feeling the tension in your shoulders, head, neck and upper back. Relax. Repeat.
  • Upper arms. Pull your arms back and press your elbows in toward the sides of your body. Try not to tense your lower arms. Feel the tension in your arms, shoulders and into your back. Relax. Repeat.
  • Hands and lower arms. Make a tight fist and pull up your wrists. Feel the tension in your hands, knuckles and lower arms. Relax. Repeat.
  • Chest, shoulders and upper back. Pull your shoulders back as if you’re trying to make your shoulder blades touch. Relax. Repeat.
  • Stomach. Pull your stomach in toward your spine, tightening your abdominal muscles. Relax. Repeat.
  • Upper legs. Squeeze your knees together and lift your legs up off the chair or from wherever you’re relaxing. Feel the tension in your thighs. Relax. Repeat.
  • Lower legs. Raise your feet toward the ceiling while flexing them toward your body. Feel the tension in your calves. Relax. Repeat.
  • Feet. Turn your feet inward and curl your toes up and out. Relax. Repeat.

Perform progressive muscle relaxation at least once or twice each day to get the maximum benefit. Each session should last about 10 minutes.

Listen to soothing sounds

If you have about 10 minutes and a quiet room, you can take a mental vacation almost anytime. Consider these two types of relaxation CDs or tapes to help you unwind, rest your mind or take a visual journey to a peaceful place.

  • Spoken word. These CDs use spoken suggestions to guide your meditation, educate you on stress reduction or take you on an imaginary visual journey to a peaceful place.
  • Soothing music or nature sounds. Music has the power to affect your thoughts and feelings. Soft, soothing music can help you relax and lower your stress level.

No one CD works for everyone, so try several CDs to find which works best for you. When possible, listen to samples in the store. Consider asking your friends or a trusted professional for recommendations.

Exercise

Exercise is a good way to deal with stress because it is a healthy way to relieve your pent-up energy and tension. It also helps you get in better shape, which makes you feel better overall.  By getting physically active, you can decrease your levels of anxiety and stress and elevate your moods.  Numerous studies have shown that people who begin exercise programs, either at home or at work, demonstrate a marked improvement in their ability to concentrate, are able to sleep better, suffer from fewer illnesses, suffer from less pain and report a much higher quality of life than those who do not exercise.  This is even true of people who had not begun an exercise program until they were in their 40s, 50s, 60s or even 70s.  So if you want to feel better and improve your quality of life, get active!

Contact us today: 01273 584812, email info@peacehavenchiropractic.co.uk or BOOK APPOINTMENT

Slipped Disc

You may have heard the term “slipped disc” used to describe a low back injury.  Discs do not actually “slip”.  Rather, they may herniate or bulge out from between the bones.  A herniation is a displaced fragment of the center part or nucleus of the disc that is pushed through a tear in the outer layer or annulus of the disc.  Pain results when irritating substances are released from this tear and also if the fragment touches or compresses a nearby nerve.  Disc herniation has some similarities to degenerative disc disease and discs that herniate are often in an early stage of degeneration.  Herniated discs are common in the low back or lumbar spine.

What causes discs to herniate?

Many factors decrease the strength and resiliency of the disc and increase the risk of disc herniation.  Life style choices such as smoking, lack of regular exercise, and inadequate nutrition contribute to poor disc health.  Poor posture, daily wear and tear, injury or trauma, and incorrect lifting or twisting further stress the disc. If the disc is already weakened, it may herniate with a single movement or strain such as coughing or bending to pick up a pencil.

How do I know if I have a disc herniation?

Herniated discs are most likely to affect people between the ages of 30 and 40.  Disc herniations may be present without causing pain.  The most common symptom will be pain in the area of the herniation that may radiate across the hips or into the buttocks.  You may also experience numbness or pain radiating down your leg to the ankle or foot.  If the herniation is large enough, you may notice weakness with extension of your big toe and you may be unable to walk on your toes or heels.  In severe cases of lumbar disc herniation, you may experience changes in your bowel or bladder function and may have difficulty with sexual function.

How is a disc herniation treated?

Mild to moderate disc herniations can usually be treated conservatively with stretching, exercise therapy and chiropractic care.  More advanced cases will often require some form of spinal decompression, such as traction or mechanical decompression, in conjuction with chiropractic care.

Occasionally, a herniation may be severe enough to warrant surgical intervention.  These cases are usually reserved as a last resort when other forms of therapy have failed to relieve pain, or if there is significant compression of the spinal cord or nerves.

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Scoliosis

Scoliosis is a sideways curve of the spine that causes stiffness and pain. It is called an idiopathic disease because the cause of it is unknown. Scoliosis is more common in females and begins in childhood. However, merely 2 percent of the population is afflicted. If it is detected early, scoliosis treatment will prevent it from worsening over time.

Scoliosis is derived from the Greek term meaning curvature. People with scoliosis have a sideways curve in their spine that makes an “S” or “C” shape. The vertebrae can rotate at the thoracic level of the spine causing this curve and resulting in a hump near the rib cage. If the curve is more than 60 degrees it is considered serious. Usually this curve makes the waist or shoulders uneven. And unlike the normal curvature of the spine, adjusting your posture will not correct the problem.

In some instances, the degenerative diseases of the spine can cause scoliosis. Osteoporosis is when the bones soften and usually occurs in older people. This softening can cause the vertebrae to bend and shape the curve causing scoliosis or kyphosis (round back). If not treated properly, severe back pain, deformity, and difficulty breathing can be some symptoms that will arise.

Chiropractic care can help improve this condition. We look at your overall health examining your spine as well as other factors of your lifestyle. To help identify the problem’s cause, we will discuss symptoms and previous injuries, your family’s health history, and recreational and work-related activities.

Most exams for scoliosis include the Adam’s Forward Bending Test and have been adopted by many schools, whereas they test for this in physical education classes. It requires the person to bend at the waist as someone views the spinal alignment. If there is an abnormal prominence or hump we can help you. We will measure the length of the legs to determine unevenness. We also perform a range of motion test that measures the degree to which the patient has mobility at the waist. If needed, we will refer you to a specialist for further scoliosis treatment.

An orthopedic brace can be used to prevent the curve from worsening and does not limit physical activity. Moist heat will help alleviate some pain. In extreme cases surgery may be required but only after the continuous observation has shown that a brace is not helping. Spinal fusion and instrumentation is a surgery specialized for people with scoliosis whereas rods and hooks are inserted to help align your spine and prevent further curving.

Regular visits to observe the progression of scoliosis, are an integral part of living a full and happy life. Scoliosis can be treated in various ways to help alleviate pain and restore normal functionality. Regardless of the treatment used, physical therapy may be added to scoliosis treatment to increase muscle strength and mobility. If you have any questions about your physical limitations, please contact us.

Contact us today: 01273 584812, email info@peacehavenchiropractic.co.uk or BOOK APPOINTMENT

Pregnancy

During pregnancy, a woman’s centre of gravity shifts forward to the front of her pelvis. This additional weight in front, causes stress to the joints of the pelvis and low back. As the baby grows in size, the added weight causes the curvature of her lower back to increase, placing extra stress on the fragile facet joints on the back side of the spine. Any pre-existing problems in a woman’s spine tend to be exacerbated as the spine and pelvis become overtaxed, often leading to pain and difficulty performing normal daily activities.

Studies have found that about half of all expectant mothers develop low-back pain at some point during their pregnancies. This is especially true during the third trimester when the baby’s body gains the most weight. Chiropractic care throughout pregnancy can relieve and even prevent the pain and discomfort frequently experienced in pregnancy, and creates an environment for an easier, safer delivery. It is one safe and effective way to help the spine and pelvis cope with the rapid increase in physical stress by restoring a state of balance. In fact, most women have found that chiropractic care helped them avoid the use of pain medications during their pregnancy, and studies have shown that chiropractic adjustments help to reduce time in labor. Your  chiropractor should be your partner for a healthy pregnancy. They can provide adjustments, as well as offer nutritional, ergonomic and exercise advice to help address your special needs.

Chiropractic tips for pregnant women:

Be sure to get adjusted regularly. Chiropractic care is important to help maintain a healthy skeletal structure and nervous system function throughout a pregnancy and childbirth.

Do some gentle exercise each day. Walking, swimming, or stationary cycling are relatively safe cardiovascular exercises for pregnant women. Avoid any activities that involve jerking or bouncing movements. Stop exercise immediately if you notice any unusual symptom, such as nausea, dizziness or weakness.

Wear flat shoes with arch supports. Your feet become more susceptible to injury during pregnancy, partially due to a rapidly increasing body weight, but also because the ligaments that support the feet become more lax.

When picking up children, bend from the knees, not the waist. Your low back is much more prone to injury during pregnancy.

When sleeping, lay on your side with a pillow between your knees to take pressure off your lower back. Full-length “body pillows” or “pregnancy wedges” are very popular and can be helpful.

Eat several small meals or snacks every few hours, rather than three large meals per day. This will help alleviate nausea, stabilize blood sugar and allow your body to extract the maximum amount of nutrients from the foods that you eat.

Take a prenatal vitamin with at least 400 micrograms of folic acid every day; 800 micrograms is even better. Folic acid has been shown to dramatically reduce the risk of neural tube defects in a developing fetus. Be sure to check with your doctor before taking any vitamin or herbal supplement to make sure it’s safe for you and the baby.

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PMS

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is characterised by mood swings, swollen abdomen, headaches, back pain, food cravings, fatigue, irritability or depression in the days before a woman’s monthly period. The severity of these symptoms can range from mild to incapacitating and may last from a couple of days to two weeks.

It has been estimated that three of every four menstruating women experience some form of premenstrual syndrome, and it is more likely to trouble women from their late 20s to early 40s. Between 10-20% of all women experience symptoms that are severe or even disabling.

PMS is thought to be a side effect of hormonal changes during the monthly menstrual cycle and can be made worse by stress, decreased serotonin levels in the brain and subluxations in the low back.

Although chiropractic care cannot fix the way your body responds to the hormonal changes that proceed menstruation, several studies have shown that it can help decrease many of the symptoms of PMS without the potential side effects of prescription drugs. Since the nerves that exit the low back are responsible for regulating all of the tissues in the lower abdomen, any pressure or irritation that can be alleviated through chiropractic care can be helpful.

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Pinched Nerve

The term “pinched nerve” is somewhat of a catch-all phrase that is commonly used to describe the pain associated with a variety of conditions from subluxations, to tunnel syndromes to the referred pain from trigger points.

Most of the time, what is called a pinched nerve is actually an irritated, or inflamed nerve where the nerve itself is not actually pinched. In most cases, nerves become irritated and inflamed when the bones, joints or muscles of the spine are not in their proper position, or are not moving properly. This condition is called a “subluxation”, the treatment of which is the specialty of the doctor of chiropractic.

There are instances when nerves do become ‘pinched’, such as in Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Sciatica and Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. In each of these cases, injury, spasm or inflammation of the surrounding muscles and connective tissue causes the nerve to become compressed, resulting in pain. These conditions are referred to as “tunnel syndromes.” Treating tunnel syndromes is more complex than treating a simple spinal subluxation, but they usually respond very well to chiropractic care; especially when combined with other physical therapies, such as exercises and stretches.

Trigger points are very tight “knots” of muscle that form when muscles are either chronically overworked or injured, and are often experienced as a pinching or burning pain. Trigger points will commonly cause pain that radiates to other parts of the body, which is also known as referred pain. The successful treatment of trigger points usually requires a combination of chiropractic care, stretching and a form of deep tissue massage called ‘trigger point therapy.’
It is very important that the cause of any form of pain be properly diagnosed. This is especially important when nerves are affected as severe or long term irritation, or compression, of a nerve can lead to permanent nerve damage. If you have been told that you have a “pinched nerve” it is very important that you seek professional care from a doctor of chiropractic as soon as possible.

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Headaches

Headaches affect just about everyone at some point and they can present themselves in many different ways. Some people only experience pain in one part of their head or behind their eyes, some people experience a pounding sensation inside their whole head, and some people even experience nausea, while others do not. The pain itself may be dull or sharp and may last for anywhere from a few minutes to a few days. Fortunately, very few headaches have serious underlying causes, but those that do require urgent medical attention.

Although headaches can be due to a wide variety of causes, such as drug reactions, temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ), tightness in the neck muscles, low blood sugar, high blood pressure, stress and fatigue, the majority of recurrent headaches are of two types: tension headaches (also called cervicogenic headaches) and migraine headaches. There is a third, less common, type of headaches called a cluster headache that is a cousin to the migraine.

Chiropractic Care for Headaches

Numerous research studies have shown that chiropractic adjustments are very effective for treating tension headaches, especially headaches that originate in the neck.

A report released in 2001 by researchers at the Duke University Evidence-Based Practice Center in Durham, NC, found that “spinal manipulation resulted in almost immediate improvement for those headaches that originate in the neck, and had significantly fewer side effects and longer-lasting relief of tension-type headache than commonly prescribed medications.” These findings support an earlier study published in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics that found spinal manipulative therapy to be very effective for treating tension headaches. This study also found that those who stopped chiropractic treatment after four weeks continued to experience a sustained benefit in contrast to those patients who received pain medication.

Each individual’s case is different and requires a thorough evaluation before a proper course of chiropractic care can be determined. However, in most cases of tension headaches, significant improvement is accomplished through manipulation of the upper two cervical vertebrae, coupled with adjustments to the junction between the cervical and thoracic spine. This is also helpful in most cases of migraine headaches, as long as food and lifestyle triggers are avoided as well.

Headache Trigger Points

Trigger point therapy for headaches tends to involve four muscles: the Splenius muscles, the Suboccipitals, the Sternocleidomastoid (SCM) and the Trapezius. The Splenius muscles are comprised of two individual muscles – the Splenius Capitis and the Splenius Cervicis. Both of these muscles run from the upper back to either the base of the skull (splenius capitis) or the upper cervical vertebrae (splenius cervicis). Trigger points in the Splenius muscles are a common cause of headache pain that travels through the head to the back of the eye, as well as to the top of the head.

The Suboccipitals are actually a group of four small muscles that are responsible for maintaining the proper movement and positioning between the first cervical vertebra and the base of the skull. Trigger points in these muscles will cause pain that feels like it’s inside the head, extending from the back of the head to the eye and forehead. Often times it will feel like the whole side of the head hurts, a pain pattern similar to that experienced with a migraine.

The Sternocleidomastoid (SCM) muscle runs from the base of the skull, just behind the ear, down the side of the neck to attach to the top of the sternum (breastbone). Although most people are not aware of the SCM trigger points, their effects are widespread, including referred pain, balance problems and visual disturbances. Referred pain patterns tend to be deep eye pain, headaches over the eye and can even cause earaches. Another unusual characteristic of SCM trigger points is that they can cause dizziness, nausea and unbalance.

The trapezius muscle is the very large, flat muscle in the upper and mid back. A common trigger point located in the very top of the Trapezius muscle refers pain to the temple and back of the head and is sometimes responsible for headache pain. This trigger point is capable of producing satellite trigger points in the muscles in the temple or jaw, which can lead to jaw or tooth pain.

Avoid Headache Triggers

  • Stress may be a trigger, but certain foods, odors, menstrual periods, and changes in weather are among many factors that may also trigger headache.
  • Emotional factors such as depression, anxiety, frustration, letdown, and even pleasant excitement may be associated with developing a headache.
  • Keeping a headache diary will help you determine whether factors such as food, change in weather, and/or mood have any relationship to your headache pattern.
  • Repeated exposure to nitrite compounds can result in a dull, pounding headache that may be accompanied by a flushed face. Nitrite, which dilates blood vessels, is found in such products as heart medicine and dynamite, but is also used as a chemical to preserve meat. Hot dogs and other processed meats containing sodium nitrite can cause headaches.
  • Eating foods prepared with monosodium glutamate (MSG) can result in headache. Soy sauce, meat tenderizer, and a variety of packaged foods contain this chemical which is touted as a flavor enhancer.
  • Headache can also result from exposure to poisons, even common household varieties like insecticides, carbon tetrachloride, and lead. Children who ingest flakes of lead paint may develop headaches. So may anyone who has contact with lead batteries or lead-glazed pottery.
  • Foods that are high in the amino acid tyramine should also be avoided, such as ripened cheeses (cheddar, brie), chocolate, as well as any food pickled or fermented foods.