child using an exercise ball

Does Back Pain get Worse in Winter?

Many people who suffer from chronic pain in the spine will report the symptoms getting worse as the weather gets colder. Similarly, people who don’t have regular back pain may also experience some aches and pains in their neck, upper back or lower back during the winter months. Sciatica sufferers also seem to experience symptoms at this time of year. Why is it that pain seems to increase as the temperature drops?

There is no proven link between sudden lower back pain and changes in the weather, including cold temperatures, humid conditions, wind and rain. However many studies have been carried out across the world to try and find a medical reason as to why more people suffer musculoskeletal pain during cold weather.

With the UK facing a back pain epidemic and bracing for a cold winter, we need to understand why symptoms can suddenly appear or become worse.

Why back or neck pain gets worse in winter

Tight and tense muscles

When we are exposed to really cold temperatures, our muscles tense up. The spine’s muscles may become tight and tense for a long period of time, which can result in back pain further down the line. Tension in the back can also increase the risk of a muscle sprain, which will also cause short term pain.

Extra stress

It’s also possible that the challenges winter brings could put extra stress on the back muscles, and increase the injury risk. Shovelling snow, pushing trapped vehicles, falling on ice or slush and carrying around Christmas trees can leave you pulling, twisting or damaging your back. Sometimes, the mental stress of the holiday season can also cause tension in the body.

Inactivity

You’ve probably heard doctors, physiotherapists and chiropractors say that the best way to relieve back pain is by staying active. When we sit still for long periods of time, muscles stiffen up so it’s really important to keep moving and stretch back muscles often. However, during the winter’s cold, dark days, exercise is the last thing you feel like doing. It can be tough braving the cold weather and the short gloomy days make you want to stay in bed for longer. This decline in physical activity in winter can trigger back pain.

Many people do experience back pain symptoms at this time of year, but there are ways to prevent it. Wrapping up warm every time you go outside and staying as active as possible is a good formula. If you’re suffering with lower back pain or neck pain, visit a chiropractor for some manual therapy and expert advice.

first visit to a Chiropractor

What to Expect on your First Visit to a Chiropractor

If you have never visited a chiropractor before, it’s natural to be apprehensive and wonder what the appointment might involve. Lots of people visit a chiropractor, from athletes and office workers to pensioners and new mothers. Whether you’ve been referred from a GP or booked privately through insurance, the experience will be the same. If you’re thinking about booking your first appointment, read on to find out what you can expect on your first visit to a Chiropractor.

A general health assessment

A chiropractor is a trained medical professional, so they will want to understand your medical history and current health concerns before recommending any treatment. You may be asked questions about your general health and lifestyle which could help identify the causes of any pain you are experiencing. This general consultation will only be carried out on the first visit, to help establish an overall picture of your history and what is wrong.

A physical examinationphysical check

In order to establish the cause of the problem, the chiropractor will then carry out a physical examination. You may be asked to remove some clothing for the examination but it’s nothing to be worried about. They will perform a range of tests to inspect your posture and range of movement, and may also carry out other tests such as blood pressure to rule out certain conditions.

 

Referral for further tests

In some cases, if the chiropractor needs to investigate your symptoms further they may recommend more tests or scans. This will all be explained to you by the chiropractor, including the reasons why you should have an X-ray or MRI scan.

Recommended treatmentchild using an exercise ball

At this stage, the chiropractor should have a good idea of what is causing the issue and a range of treatment options and techniques which could help relieve the symptoms. A care plan, including the type of chiropractic treatment and frequency of appointments will be discussed. The cost of the treatment will also be available upfront to help you decide if you want to go ahead.

Once you’ve agreed the care plan and signed the written consent to begin treatment, the first session of manual therapy can begin straight away. As part of the care plan, you will also be given lifestyle advice and exercises you can do at home.

If for any reason the chiropractor believes chiropractor treatment won’t help you, then they will explain why and refer you to the appropriate medical professional such as a GP or specialist.

Book your first visit to Canary Wharf Chiropractic today.

close shot of woman neck

4 Causes of Neck Pain and How to Treat Them

Neck pain or ‘a stiff neck’ is relatively common, and some people can suffer from repeated episodes of intense pain. You might feel pain on just one side of the neck, or feel tense in the whole of the neck and shoulders. The intensity of the pain can also vary from person to person depending on the cause of it – you may feel a sharp pain when you turn your head, or it may be a dull, persistent ache. Neck pain can have an impact on everyday life, and if it doesn’t go away in a couple of weeks you should seek treatment.

The best way to treat neck ache is to prevent it from ever returning by understanding the causes. Most neck and back pain is caused by factors of a modern lifestyle, so once we are aware of them we can do our best to carry out preventative treatment. Here are four common causes of neck pain.

  1. Text neckman twisting his back texting

As the smartphone becomes a permanent extension of the body, it seems it is having a negative impact on the neck and spine. Constantly looking down to text and use a phone puts extra pressure on the neck and upper back. Poor posture during smartphone use is starting to cause problems for younger patients who shouldn’t yet have neck or back issues, according to experts – The Daily Mail has reported the younger generation could be plagued by text neck.

  1. Injury

The most common neck injury is whiplash, which is often the result of a car accident. A neck sprain or strain can cause intense pain for a short period of time, and some injuries can last for months. You can also acquire a neck injury from a fall or a sports related accident.

  1. Bad posture

An incorrect sitting or standing posture can also lead to pain in the neck. If you sit for long periods at a desk staring at a computer, you may experience neck or back pain at some point. Make sure you don’t slouch in the chair and that screens are level with your eyes so your neck isn’t in an awkward position.

  1. Sleeping in an awkward positionwomen sleeping in a bad position

Sometimes a person may wake up with a stiff neck when they were fine the day before, which indicates the problem has occurred during sleep. Try not to sleep on your front and don’t twist the neck while in bed. You should also make sure your pillows aren’t too high which can cause the neck to be at an awkward angle.

Neck pain is a real pain in the neck…excuse the pun! Visit our chiropractors today to try manual therapies and relieve the pain.

image of massage stones on a back

Top Signs of Scoliosis

Scoliosis is a spinal condition which causes the spine to twist and have an abnormal curvature. In many cases it is not serious and may not require treatment, but scoliosis can also cause back pain in adults, and the curve could possibly get worse over time.

The causes of scoliosis are not fully understood, and the majority of cases are defined as idiopathic scoliosis when the cause cannot be identified or prevented. Sometimes it runs in families or could be caused by a genetic condition. Other types of less common forms of scoliosis include:

  • Neuromuscular scoliosis – caused by a nerve or muscle condition such as cerebral palsy
  • Congenial scoliosis – when the bones in the spine don’t form properly in the womb
  • Degenerative scoliosis – wear and tear of the spine which occurs in old age

Although scoliosis affects people of all ages, it is most common in children aged 11-15. The condition can be present at birth, or can develop as the spine grows, and sometimes children need specific treatment to stop the curve getting worse until they stop growing. However, most people with scoliosis can live normal lives and the condition doesn’t affect physical activity except in extreme cases. There are no other health problems associated with scoliosis and usually it doesn’t cause recurring pain.

Symptoms of scoliosis

How do you know if you have scoliosis? If you think your spine is curved in an ‘S’ or ‘C’ shape then you may have the condition. Here are some other signs:

  • Uneven shoulders
  • Visible curves in the spine
  • Leaning to one side
  • Uneven hips
  • Ribs sticking out on one side
  • One shoulder or one hip sticking out

If you are experiencing back pain along with any of these signs, you should see a GP who will be able to diagnose scoliosis. An X-ray scan will be carried out so doctors can view the spine, and if it has an abnormal curve they can see how severe the curve is. A chiropractor can also refer you for a scan if they suspect scoliosis. If scoliosis is diagnosed you can see a specialist who can discuss treatment options available if needed.

Treatment depends on how severe the curve is and if it is likely to get worse. Adults may require pain relief in the form of spinal injections or even surgery. Toddlers, children and teenagers may be given a back brace to wear to control the growth of the spine.

For more information about scoliosis, visit http://www.sauk.org.uk/

Image of Long Haul Travel Back Pain

How to Alleviate Back Pain Whilst Travelling

Sometimes long trips are unavoidable, especially if you love travelling to long haul tropical destinations. Whether you’re a long term backpacker or have a long road trip coming up for work, you should take time to consider your spine health. Sitting in a car or on a plane for a long period of time can be uncomfortable and lead to ongoing back pain for the duration of your trip.

If you already suffer from back pain, then you will dread long car journeys or flying because you know that sitting for long periods of time can make it worse. Being in one position can stiffen the muscles in your back and cause aches and pains. However, there are some things you can do to alleviate the discomfort and avoid an episode of chronic back pain. Here are some top tips from the Canary Wharf chiropractors.

Use supportive cushions

Sitting correctly is really important for keeping your spine happy, yet many car seats and airplane seats aren’t designed well to correctly align the body. You want to sit up straight in the seat, with both feet firmly on the floor and the knees on level with or slImage of Airplane travel Causing Back Painightly higher than the hips. With limited leg room on planes we know this is difficult. Bring a cushion or roll up a scarf to place between your lower back and the back rest, which adds extra support to your spine. If travelling in a car or coach, always make sure you feel comfortable and the seat is adjusted for you before setting off.

Move as much as you can

The main culprit that causes back pain is sitting still for too long. If you can’t stand up and walk around during your journey, at least try and change your position every 20 minutes or so. There are also stretches and small movements you can do while in your seat – clench your buttock muscles, roll your ankles and stretch up with your arms to keep the muscles awake. It’s easy for your back to stiffen up on a long flight or car journey. If you are driving, be sure to stop every couple of hours for a walk around and a stretch.Image of Train Station Travel Causing back Pain

Pack light

The last thing you need after a long journey which has aggravated your back is heavy luggage. Try to lift your luggage as little as possible, and when you do always bend your knees and use your legs to lift rather than your back. Pack light – how many books are you really going to get through in a week? Can you pick some up at the hotel instead? Just because the airline offers 30kg of luggage allowance doesn’t mean you should pack enough for six weeks. If you’re unloading luggage out of the boot of a vehicle be extra careful and ask for help to share the load on your back.

Planning a long haul journey? Follow these tips to keep your back safe during the trip, and beforehand you may want to consider preventative chiropractic treatment.

alternative health treatments east london

Alternative Health Services in East London

Alternative health therapies and holistic health services are growing in popularity. Perhaps someone has a long standing health condition which doctors can’t diagnose, or they are simply fed up of the negative side effects of medication. There are many reasons why people choose to explore alternative health remedies, and in some cases they are successful in reducing chronic pain or improving overall health and wellbeing.

Complementary health treatments vary from physical techniques such as cupping or traditional massage, to complementary natural medicines which are shunned by the health profession. People looking for a cure for their chronic illness have a range of options in East London.

Alternative Health in London

Acupuncture

Deriving from ancient Chinese medicine, acupuncture is recognised as a complementary alternative medicine (CAM). It is usually performed to treat pain related illnesses, including migraine and chronic neck pain. Acupuncture in East London is performed by physiotherapists, chiropractors and some doctors and is sometimes available on the NHS. The traditional form of acupuncture is based on the belief of energy (qi) running through the body. Acupuncture is thought to reinstate the flow of qi through the body and therefore restore health.

Cupping therapy

While slightly controversial, many athletes and celebrities have popularised cupping therapy. This type of physical medicine also has its roots in China, and dates back 5,000 years. Many doctors are sceptical of the treatment, which can be used for a wide range of ailments and also to improve fertility and reduce cellulite. However, fans of the alternative treatment include tennis star Andy Image of alternative health treatmentMurray, Olympian Michael Phelps, and A-listers Gwyneth Paltrow and Jennifer Aniston.

Kinesio Taping

Seen on many athletes, Kinesio tape was developed to help people with sports injuries but also regular patients with back pain and other complaints. The adhesive tape supports joints and muscles without restricting the range of movement, which is why it is so popular with professional sports players. It provides comfort and support to areas of concern, yet apparently there is still not enough science to back it up – so it remains a complementary manual treatment.

Reiki

A reiki healer channels universal energy through their hands and passes it onto the client with a gentle touch. Reiki is said to accelerate natural physical and mental healing, and is therefore used to treat a wide variety of illnesses including arthritis, back pain, migraine and anxiety.

This is just a short selection of the alternative health therapies available in East London. Search for your nearest holistic health centre or chiropractic surgery for more information.

Chronic Back Pain treatment

Why is Chronic Back Pain so Difficult to Cure?

Back pain is a huge problem worldwide, and many people suffer chronic back pain long term because it’s very difficult to diagnose and treat. Lower back pain affects 1 in 10 people according to researchers from all over the world, and is becoming increasingly common. Experts think the modern lifestyle is the main cause of back pain – a combination of lack of exercise, too much sitting, bad posture and some types of jobs could also be to blame.

Most of us will experience an episode of back pain at some point in our lives. However for some individuals, the pain is persistent and difficult to treat. There are many different underlying causes of back pain, so it’s important to establish the problem before a GP or back specialist can recommend treatment.

Here’s a few reasons why treating back pain is so difficult.

Difficult to diagnose

There’s a number of different types of back pain and it’s difficult to tell what patients are feeling. There is no test which can perfectly identify back pain and recognise if it relates to an underlying condition, so doctors often have to rely on descriptions of the pain. Someone with chronic back pain could be suffering from sciatica, a slipped disc or non-specific back pain and an accurate diagnosis could take some time.

Image of girl with back painLack of understanding for chronic back pain treatment

Most people know that back pain is a common problem and that it often goes away on its own within a few weeks. The majority of sufferers manage the pain with painkillers – but don’t seek advice or treat the root cause of the pain. There isn’t enough awareness about the wide range of back pain treatments available, including manual therapy, physiotherapy and specific exercise and stretch programmes.

Trial and error

There is no one-size-fits-all treatment for general back pain, and people are likely to respond to different treatments. The back has many different muscles, joints and tissues so it can be hard to target the exact area which is causing the pain. There is always more than one option available, so if the first recommended treatment didn’t really have an effect, go back to your doctor and ask for something different. It’s trial and error for most people – sometimes a combination of treatments works well.

Ignoring the symptoms

Many people are reluctant to visit a doctor with back pain – some people prefer the grin and bear it approach. However, ignoring the symptoms can only make the problem worse. Sufferers who are having a ‘bad day’ with their pain may choose to stay off work and lie in bed all day. This is only making the back pain more intense, and other ill informed decisions like these can prolong the episode of back pain. If you see a GP or chiropractor straight away, they can advise certain treatments and give general tips for avoiding pain in the future.

image of footballer injured

Common Sports Injuries and how to Avoid Them

Taking part in sports is a great way to stay active and for many it’s a lifelong hobby or profession. However, the trouble with popular sports such as football, rugby, tennis and gymnastics is that you risk a serious injury. Some sports injuries heal themselves but others will need specialist treatment, and you may find the same body parts cause recurring problems. Of course the best thing to do is try and avoid injuries altogether with preventative treatment and safe training. Read more

image of man stretching

How to Maintain Good Posture

You probably remember as a child being told to “Stop slouching in your chair!” and to “Stand up straight!” At the time it was irritating, but all those years later you’re starting to realise the importance of a good posture.  Poor sitting and standing habits can cause muscle tension and over time, create discomfort and chronic pain illnesses. Bad posture takes a toll on the whole of your body – your spine, neck, shoulders, hips and knees. Actively maintaining a good posture and trying to correct common habits can really help long term health. Read more

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Which Healthcare Providers Cover Chiropractic Care?

Because chiropractic treatment is a specialist treatment, you will need to cover the costs of consultations and treatment sessions. There are two ways to do this – either by claiming the cost of treatment through your private health insurance policy or by self-paying. Chiropractic care is well recognised by many private healthcare providers, so you often don’t have to pay a penny upfront.

If you are a member of a healthcare provider such as BUPA, or have health insurance as a work benefit, you will most likely be eligible for treatment. It is important to check your individual policy, however these are some of the most popular healthcare providers we have worked with to ensure the cost of the client’s treatment is covered. Read more