osteopath helping man's back pain

What’s the Difference Between Osteopathy and Chiropractic?

When suffering from back, joint, ligament or neck pain, it can be difficult to know which specialist is best placed to meet your needs. Should you see an osteopath or a chiropractor? What even are the differences between the two?

The reality is that while both disciplines share much in common, they do differentiate from each other in subtle but important ways. Here’s a rundown of exactly what unites the two practices – and what sets them apart.

Similarities between osteopathy and chiropractic

  • The primary goal of both disciplines is pain relief
  • Both share a similar philosophy in that they look for alternative methods of treating this pain, instead of surgery or medication
  • Both conduct observational and tactile diagnoses to find the root of the problem
  • Both manipulate the blood supply and nervous system in order to treat not only bodily pain, but also the symptoms of many other conditions, including circulatory complications, migraines and more

Differences between osteopathy and chiropractic

  • Chiropractors concentrate largely (but not exclusively) on the spinal column, preventing damage of the nervous system and associated pain by achieving correct alignment
  • Osteopaths attempt to improve the overall function, comfort and performance of the body by taking a more holistic approach, which generally means they treat less concentrated areas to achieve pain relief
  • Chiropractors are more likely to qualify diagnoses via the use of qualitative procedures, such as blood tests, urine tests, MRI scans and X-rays – though only when necessary
  • Chiropractors specialise in manipulating the vertebrae in the spinal column, while osteopaths include more muscle and tissue massaging (although chiropractors do employ these methods as well)
  • Chiropractors may utilise shorter but more frequent appointments, whereas osteopaths may practice longer sessions that have longer spacing in between the two

Which should you choose to treat your pain?

The simple answer is that both chiropractors and osteopaths are fully-trained and fully-qualified specialists in many different kinds of joint and muscular injuries and complaints. It’s therefore important to find out which kind of treatment you feel works best for you, and then source a trustworthy, competent professional in that field. Above all, you should find someone who values your welfare, listens to your needs and devises an appropriate method of treatment accordingly.

At CW Chiropractic, we are members of the British Chiropractic Association and all of our staff have the experience and training to alleviate all kinds of back, neck, joint and muscle pain. We prioritise customer satisfaction above all else and are dedicated to delivering excellent service, quality of treatment and efficiency with each and every patient.

To find out more about how we can help, drop by our Canary Wharf practice or get in touch with us today.

mattresses for back pain

Sleep Tight – the Best Mattresses for Back Pain

For those of us living hectic, stressful lives in the capital, the last thing we need is for our sleeping patterns to be interrupted by chronic back pain. Waking up full of aches and pains – or worse yet, not being able to get to sleep at all because of these niggles – can have a detrimental effect on energy levels, productivity and morale.

That’s why it’s so important to not only sleep in the correct position to minimise back pain, but also to choose a mattress that’s right for you. With so many options on offer and so many (apparently conflicting) opinions about which one is best suited to easing lower back pain, it can be difficult to know where to start.

This article aims to dispense with the jargon and condense all of that information into one handy, easy-to-read guide on how to choose your ideal mattresses for back pain, as well as some concrete pointers in the right direction.

Support is key

Old-school thinking dictated that back pain is most successfully treated via a firm mattress, but that viewpoint has shifted over the years. Nowadays, experts such as the British Chiropractic Association and The Sleep Council both agree that support should be prioritised over firmness. Indeed, a mattress that’s too firm can actually have a damaging effect on your lower back, especially if you weigh more.

Weigh up your options

It’s not a hard-and-fast dictum, but a general rule of thumb indicates that the heavier you are, the firmer a mattress you’ll need. The difficulty with this logic is that the mattress industry seems to disagree on exactly what constitutes a “soft”, “medium” or “firm” mattress, but again, a rough guide indicates that those under 11 stone should choose soft, those over 16 stone should pick firm and those in between should plump for medium.

Try before you buy

The logistics of trying out a mattress before you commit to the purchase might sound tricky, but it’s easier than you may think. Many companies, including Eve, Hyde and Sleep and Nytex offer free trials, whereby you can send back a mattress at little or no cost if you’re not satisfied with it. Failing that, you can always visit a showroom and prostrate yourself on as many mattresses as you like before buying. It’ll be worth it in the long run.

Our recommendations

This is by no means a comprehensive list, but for a starting point of where to begin, here are a handful of suggestions:

Soft mattresses for back pain: –

Silentnight 3 Zone Memory Foam

Sealy Nostromo 1400

Medium mattresses for back pain: –

Happy Beds Majestic 1000

Hyde and Sleep’s Next Gen Memory Foam

Firm mattresses for back pain: –

Hypnos Milford

Tempur Original Deluxe 27

Every individual’s needs are different

It’s important to remember that everyone’s unique circumstances will dictate what mattress is right for them – there’s no panacea that will cure everyone. Latex mattresses work for some people, memory foam for others. Therefore, the time you invest in carefully choosing the right mattress for you will be time well spent; find one that balances support with comfort and gives you the best night’s sleep possible.

Seek professional advice

It should also be remembered that the information in this guide should not be substituted for advice from a GP or back pain specialist, such as a licensed chiropractor. For friendly, impartial advice in the Canary Wharf area, get in touch with us today.

woman doing yoga stretch

4 Ways to Self-Treat Back and Neck Pain

It’s estimated that eight out of ten people will suffer from back or neck pain throughout their lives, with many of these suffering chronic discomfort. While medication and painkillers can help to alleviate the symptoms of such maladies for some people, they’re by no means a cure-all solution.

If you’re one of the unfortunate souls for whom taking painkillers just doesn’t seem to help, or for whom constant medication is an unattractive option, here are four alternative ways in which you might be able to address the root cause of the problem.

1. Stretch it out

Much back and neck pain arises from stiffness and tightness in muscles and ligaments. Conducting a series of stretches and movements on a regular basis (every morning before showering and every evening before bed, for example) can increase the flexibility of your joints, thus providing pain relief and reducing the chances of suffering a recurrence of the complaint in the future. If you have a willing partner to hand, gentle massaging is another great way to self-treat back and neck pain.

2. Change your diet

Did you know 70% to 80% of the discs in our spinal column consist of water? For that reason, it’s imperative you stay hydrated throughout the diet to replace these vital fluids and minimise tension on your vertebrae. Meanwhile, magnesium is well-known for its abilities to help relax strained or sprained muscles, so increasing your intake of magnesium-rich foods (such as fruit and vegetables, soy products and whole grains) can help to alleviate back and neck pain, too.

3. Take to the pool

The therapeutic effects of exercise in general should not be underestimated, and swimming in particular poses an attractive method of easing stiffness and reducing inflammation of sore muscles and joints. Be careful to choose a stroke that doesn’t cause severe discomfort and avoid over-exertion – breast stroke or backstroke can be very effective, since they avoid minimal movement of the neck. For best results, find a heated pool.

4. Adjust your posture

We often think of pain arising from an injury or accident, but much of the time chronic aches and pains are simply the result of poor habits. More than half of back pain sufferers report that they sit down for the majority of their working day – if that sounds familiar, consider purchasing or requesting a lumbar support chair for the office (and perhaps for the car, as well). Meanwhile, choosing a mattress that’s right for you will minimise any exacerbation of the issue overnight.

See a specialist

While these home remedies may help to take the edge off your back and neck pain and even reduce its long-term impact, there’s simply no substitute for the advice and treatment of a trained professional. At CW Chiropractic, we have years of experience in identifying and treating a multitude of back and neck pain complaints. To see how we can help you, get in touch today.

neck pain back strain

How to Avoid Neck Pain

We’ve all complained of a ‘stiff neck’ at some point. Whether you’ve woken up with neck pain after sleeping in an awkward position, or the stiffness has gradually got worse over time, there are a range of factors involved. Modern lifestyles are responsible for a rise in neck and shoulder pain – using computers and mobile phones are the main culprit.

Read on to find out how you can avoid neck pain in the first place, and how to treat it.

  1. Avoid too many screens

As we rely more and more on computers and screens, it’s more important than ever to take breaks when we can. If you have to use a computer for work, make sure the screen is set at the correct height and eye level so you don’t have to look up or down. Mobile phones and tablets can also be a huge problem – take a look at your posture next time you’re texting someone or browsing the internet on a tablet. More often than not, your neck is forced downwards, putting extra pressure on your shoulders and upper back. Avoid looking at screens all day at work, and then all evening at home.

  1. Spread weight evenly

Carrying a heavy weight on one shoulder can put pressure on the neck muscles, and cause other posture problems. Many of us often carry a laptop or handbag on one shoulder – try and carry weight evenly by using a backpack if possible. This is essential for young adults and children carrying heavy bags to school each day.

  1. Sleep on your back

Certain sleep positions can cause neck pain, so be careful not to sleep on your stomach and twist the neck. The best position to sleep in is on your back, as the neck and spine remain in a neutral position. You can also buy special pillows to support the neck if you know you’re susceptible to neck and shoulder pain.

What to do when you have neck pain

Neck pain is quite literally a pain in the neck! It can stop you from getting on with daily life and doing normal activities like driving. If you have repeated episodes of neck pain, you should try a course of neck pain treatment from a qualified chiropractor. Rather than simply masking the pain until next time, manual therapy aims to reduce the risk of the pain reoccurring. Contact us to find out more.

sleeping position neck pain

How your Sleeping Position Affects your Body

Getting enough sleep is essential for your health – but did you know that the positions you lie in as you snooze can also affect your body? Most of us don’t give a second thought to our sleeping position, but because we spend so many hours in bed it can have an impact on overall health and cause certain health issues.

Are you a serial snorer or do you suffer from neck pain? Your chosen sleeping position is probably the culprit. Find out about the common sleeping shapes below and how they can affect your body in different ways.

How Not to Sleep

While there isn’t a one-size-fits-all recommended sleeping position, there is a certain way of sleeping which is known to be a back pain culprit – sleeping on your stomach. Lying down on the front of the body flattens the natural curve of the spine, putting extra strain on back muscles. Additionally, to sleep on your stomach you have to twist your neck one way or another. This rotation can cause pain in the neck and shoulders. If you find this is the only comfortable position you can fall asleep in, prop a pillow under your pelvis to give some back support.

On your back

Sleeping on your back is great for the spine, but it’s probably not great for the person you’re lying next to. Lying in a flat, neutral position is recommended for anybody with back or neck issues, but it can also lead to snoring. If snoring is becoming an issue, there are various ways to combat it, from special pillows to nasal strips.

On your side

A side sleeping position is one of the most common. It can stop you snoring, and is the safest position for pregnant women to sleep in. Moreover, sleeping on your side can reduce your chances of developing neck or back pain as the neck doesn’t twist. It’s thought that sleeping on your right side is less preferable than the left, as it causes acid to pool in the stomach which leads to heartburn.

On your stomach

Did you know that sleeping on your stomach is one of the most well-known causes of back pain and neck issues? It may feel comfy at first, but staying in this position for too long can cause back problems because the neck is forced to rotate. Sleeping on your front regularly can have a negative effect on the spine, so try and sleep in an alternative position.

Sleeping Support

It’s better to sleep on your back or the side of your body, but even these positions can sometimes aggravate back pain. Side sleepers should place a pillow in-between their legs and draw knees into the chest. This position can rotate the spine as you snooze, as the top leg can fall forwards and the top shoulder can droop forwards too, pulling muscles in different directions.

To protect your back when sleeping on your back, use a pillow under your knees – this can help your spine maintain its natural curve.

Find your Own Comfort

It’s a vicious cycle – poor sleep can lead to back pain, then you can’t get to sleep because of the discomfort, and you’re not comfortable in the recommended sleeping positions for back pain. It can be so frustrating! Do whatever you can to make yourself comfortable, including trying out new mattresses and pillows. They can make a huge difference, and you could also try using calming sounds to drift off to sleep.

If you’re having trouble sleeping because of your back pain, see your GP or a chiropractor.

Lying in an awkward position can put pressure on certain parts of your body and have an impact on circulation. Ever woke up with pins and needles in the night? That’s your body’s way of saying change position! Some sleep positions can cause or aggravate health issues.

If you struggle with neck pain or back pain, see one of our chiropractors to discover what treatment could help. The first thing to do is check how you are sleeping and see whether changing positions could provide some relief.

back clicking Crack your own Back

Is it Dangerous to Crack your own Back?

We often get asked whether choosing to crack your own back is bad for you. While it is an old wives tale that cracking knuckles will cause arthritis, your back contains many more joints and care should be taken when twisting or extending to make joints ‘crack’ or ‘pop’. Many people feel the urge to crack their backs and describe relief afterwards – so surely it can’t be dangerous?

Scientifically speaking, manipulating a joint until you hear the audible pop will not cause damage to that joint. However, it is still not advised to take control of your own back cracking – read on to find out why.

Choosing to crack your own back

There are various ways to make your back joints crack, but the important thing is finding the underlying reason why your joints need to pop. You’ll notice after the crack of a joint, you experience a greater range of movement in that area. Chiropractors call this a spinal adjustment, and seeing as that’s what we specialise in, we obviously don’t think it is dangerous for our backs – quite the opposite!

However, there is a difference between self-back cracking and seeing a chiropractor. In order to crack your back, you may move and twist in different positions which could cause further harm. If you ask somebody else at home to help you crack your back, unless they are a qualified specialist they could target the wrong areas and cause more pain, rather than relief.

A joint pop or crack which is delivered by yourself or an unqualified person will only provide temporary relief. You will feel the urge to crack once again in a day or so. Many chiropractors believe that the desire to twist and crack the back is the result of an imbalance in the spine, or a sign that it is not moving correctly. Constantly twisting and cracking will not solve this problem, and there’s a chance it could make it worse.

Chiropractic adjustments

The difference between cracking your own back and getting chiropractic treatment is years of study and research! A chiropractor can do a full examination of your spine and the rest of your body to determine problems in mobility. They can then perform targeted movements with expertise (manipulations and adjustments) to reduce joint stiffness and increase range of motion. You will hear a similar popping sound, but a chiropractor is actually getting to the root of the problem, rather than providing a temporary fix.

Contact us to book your first appointment with a specialist to help stop your back cracking habit!

canary wharf skyscraper

Top Reasons Working in Canary Wharf can be Stressful

Working in Canary Wharf or other areas of central London is often associated with stress; high pressure jobs, long commutes and polluted air can all have an impact on health. Commuting to work on public transport can raise stress levels before we even start work – then in the office tensions can rise. Just when we think the strain of the day is over, we have to face the long, busy commute again.

Top reasons why Londoners are stressed

Demanding working culture

Canary Wharf is renowned as a financial hub – and banking is one of the most high pressured industries to work in. Investment bankers work long hours, with 95% saying they are expected to work weekends. The Metlife UK research also revealed that managers do little to combat stress at work – with just 14% saying bosses have taken action after receiving complaints about pressure. In a fast-paced sector where everybody is stressed, people just have to ‘get on with it’ – until it becomes a ticking time bomb and they are forced to take time off work to recover. Over 11 million working days per year are lost due to stress, anxiety and depression.

Financial worries

One of the major causes of stress, regardless of where you live, is money. Trying to manage your finances is difficult, especially in London where prices are rocketing and the cost of living is so high. Many Londoners also have the worry of getting on the housing ladder, which is near impossible for the majority. The uncertainty of living in rented accommodation and sharing houses can cause stress.

Busy commutes

Getting to Canary Wharf, or wherever your office is based, in the city’s rush hour, can be a challenge. Around five million passengers use the London Underground every day – many travelling at peak times to get to and from work. Commuting in London is often a stressful experience because of overcrowding, and you might have a struggle getting on the trains at all – which could make you late for work, and even more worried.

How to deal with stress

If you think you are suffering from work-related stress, it is essential to seek help. If you are not receiving support from your manager, then visit your GP who will be more understanding. In addition to medication or other treatments to support your mental health, you may find stress has had physical impacts on your body, too. If you have been holding tension in your neck or shoulders, consider chiropractic services which could relieve the pain and improve your posture.

Chiropractic Adjustments and back adjustment at chiropractors

The Science Behind the ‘Pop’ in Chiropractic Adjustments

When a chiropractor performs manual therapy on someone with back problems, the hands-on treatment is called spinal manipulation or chiropractic adjustments. These spinal adjustments are quick movements of the spine which usually result in a popping or clicking sound. Naturally, this strange noise can put some people off – but it’s actually completely normal and painless!

To help people understand the process of chiropractic adjustments, and remove the fear of the unknown, we’ve put together this article to explain the science behind spinal manipulation. A quick move and a loud crack can be quite alarming! Read on to find out what that ‘pop’ noise is and why it can actually relieve back pain.

What are Chiropractic Adjustments?

As a type of treatment offered by chiropractors, an adjustment is applying manipulation to the vertebrae which aren’t functioning properly. So what are chiropractors adjusting exactly? It’s what we call a subluxation. This is a misaligned joint which has lost its full range of motion – and as chiropractors our job is to make it unstuck.

These stuck misaligned joints (subluxations) can cause a number of negative side effects. They are often the root cause of a stiff back, or stop you from standing up properly or turning your head. Basically, you lose full range of motion. If they stay uncorrected, subluxations can also cause pain and inflammation in the back.

When a subluxation is detected, a chiropractic adjustment can be applied. This is basically a quick and painless thrust, in the right place, which can correct the joint. It’s at this point that a loud pop is heard, and can sometimes unnerve patients!

What is the pop?

The joints of the spine produce synovial fluid, which lubricates each joint to help it move. When a joint is opened up, a gas in the fluid is released which causes the loud pop sound. The synovial fluid contains a number of gases such as oxygen, carbon dioxide and nitrogen, and it’s these gases which make the noise of cracking joints.

It takes a while for the gases to build up again, which is why once a joint is cracked you can’t crack the same joint for some time. It’s not just synovial joints in the spine which make this popping noise – you may also notice it in your knuckles, knees and neck.

Following a corrective adjustment, you should notice relief straight away and a better range of motion. Want to find out more about chiropractic treatments? Get in touch with our friendly team.

man stretching his back doing exercise at beach

Why Exercise is Vital for a Healthy Back

Staying active and taking part in regular exercise is crucial for a healthy spine, and the symptoms of chronic back pain can usually be mitigated with physical activity. It’s understandable that some sports and activities involve risk, and it is possible to suffer a sprained muscle or hurt the back with too much physical exercise – but a back injury is not the same as ongoing back pain. You can recover from a pulled muscle in the back caused by playing sports, yet chronic back pain is difficult to treat.

This is why even if you suffer from back pain, you should still take part in physical exercise. Keeping the back mobile is vital for spine health, and will stop the back muscles losing their strength. People often self-medicate a bad back with bed rest but this is in fact the opposite of what health professionals now recommend. Sitting down too much and inactivity can cause lower back pain or make it worse.

If you have a tense, stiff or sore back, you should complete an exercise regime which aims to mobilise and strengthen the spine and the muscles. Every case of back pain is different and you should speak to a doctor and physiotherapist about the best exercises and stretches to do to help ease the pain. However, in general, these physical activities are recommended to prevent and treat back pain.

Swimming and other water activities

Swimming is a low impact exercise, which means it’s easy on the joints. Doing some lengths in a swimming pool a couple of times a week can keep the back mobile. However, if you prefer to swim with your head out of the water this can sometimes cause neck or back issues. In this case, try water aerobics or another water based activity.

Walking

Going for a brisk walk, even if it’s just round the block can help to keep your back mobile. From walking the dog to walking to the bus stop, short but regular walks can boost energy and keep you active.

Cycling

Tell back pain to “Get on yer bike!” Cycling is a gentle activity which can be enjoyed by all ages. Always wear a helmet and stay safe on the roads – you may wish to stick to woodland cycle paths. Going for a leisurely bike ride can do wonders for your back.

Yoga

Many chronic back pain sufferers recommend yoga for easing pain. The series of stretching, poses and breathing exercises helps to improve mobility and flexibility, and is reported to be more effective than painkillers and back exercises according to The Daily Mail.

Staying active is key to easing the symptoms and improving your condition.

Back Cracking chiropractor adjusting woman's neck

Top Myths About Back Cracking and Other Joints

Sometimes our bodies make strange noises, from a gurgling tummy to popping joints and bones. Many people are able to purposely crack their joints, with the most common being the knuckles, neck and back. Back cracking and clicking of the joints can be alarming whether it’s deliberate or not, and the rumour is that it can even cause arthritis.

Before we debunk the myths about back cracking and joint clicking, let’s find out what’s actually happening when we move the joint and hear a crack.

Why do our joints crack?

It took decades for researchers to figure out what’s happening inside our bodies when our joints crack. Some people feel the need to crack joints, and experience relief once they have ‘popped.’ When muscle joints are pulled apart, the pressure is reduced and small bubbles of gas are released from the joint fluid. It’s almost like creating a vacuum within the joint, which makes a popping noise as it collapses.

The gas takes a while to dissolve in the joint fluid, which is why when joints are cracked they can’t be re-cracked straight away. It’s also been found that joints temporarily increase the range of motion after they have been cracked, thanks to lowering the pressure.

Myth Number 1: Knuckle cracking causes arthritis in the hands

This is an old wives’ tale that has been passed around for decades, however there is no evidence to support it. People are often grossed out by knuckle cracking, but studies have proven that it doesn’t cause long term damage or arthritis – and could actually be good for you. It’s strange that this common belief only applies to the knuckles, as plenty of other joints get cracked regularly including knees, hips, toes and the spine.

Myth Number 2: Back cracking is painful

The cracking that occurs in the back is the same as the joint cracking in the hands, and any knuckle cracker will tell you that it’s painless and actually brings relief. Professional spine adjustments by a chiropractor may look and sound painful, but they do not cause any immediate pain in the affected joint.

Myth Number 3: Only old people get joint pain

It is definitely widely perceived that you only suffer from joint pain as a part of ageing. While many people do develop arthritis and aches and pains as they grow older, joint pain, back pain and arthritis can actually occur at any age.

If you feel like you need your back cracking, find out about professional spinal adjustments at Canary Wharf Chiropractic.