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Should you wait before seeing a Chiropractor?

Back pain can often be the result of an accident or injury (such as a strain or a sprain) but it can also pop up unexpectedly or gradually over time too. Whatever the cause for your developing back pain, it often occurs because something is off in the way your core muscles, spinal discs, spinal joints and nerve endings work together or move. It could be strain, inflammation or injury – but if the discomfort is causing you pain, and is affecting your day to day routine, you shouldn’t wait before seeking chiropractic treatment.

Having back pain can be a frightening and unnerving experience, and something you should never overlook. Many people simply brush off their discomfort and think that ‘rest and time’ is recipe enough to see the improvements they want. But doing nothing can in some cases make things worse, as you may end up increasing the strain, or worsening the injury.

Here are some types of back pain to look out for, when we would recommend chiropractic care. While you may think you need to simply strengthen your core or maintain good posture, it’s always best to seek advice and treatment from a professional.

You back pain began because of trauma or injury

If you’re experiencing back pain because of an accident or trauma, it may be something that needs to be worked on slowly by a Chiropractor. Often, in situations like this, something may have been knocked or put out of place, so a Chiropractor can help identify what happened, and begin treating back pain.

The back pain has been consistent and won’t go away

Any back pain that has been constant for more than a week or so, should be looked at by a Chiropractor. Sometimes we can experience slight back ache after exerting ourselves (trying a new exercise or moving house for example) but temporary soreness should usually ease up after a week or so. Constant pain that is frequent throughout the day is a sign that something is wrong.

The back pain is constant and seems to be getting worse

We often mistake pain for muscle ache. And whilst the natural function of our body is to slowly improve muscle issues over time (where rest and stretching can aid in recovery), if the pain is constant it may not be a muscle related issue.

If you feel the backache getting worse instead of getting better, it may not be muscle pain, it may be something else. If time is making the pain increase – you need to see a professional Chiropractor.

You feel back pain in resting positions

If you’re feeling pain when in resting positions (such as sitting or laying down) it can be a sign that something is wrong. It is also hard for us to heal properly if we’re missing sleep or losing out on rest because it’s difficult to get comfortable. A Chiropractor can help advise on this, so you can recover quicker.

You feel off balance and struggle with good posture

Any issues with balance and poor posture could cause you safety worries in all areas of your life. If standing straight or walking slowly is too painful or too difficult (because of loss of balance and a bad posture) then you need to resolve the issues quickly.

Improving your posture and the way you hold your body would be a good place to start, but people with back pain should always seek professional help from a Chiropractor.

The Dangers of Heavy Backpacks

Many people are under the assumption that backpacks are one of the more sensible and less-harmful methods of carrying items. The truth is, heavy backpacks are just as harmful as other alternatives (such as those with shoulder straps) especially if you’re over-filling them, and carrying around a backpack weight that is too much for your frame.

If you’re a regular backpack user and you’ve started to find yourself aching or experiencing strain in your back – it could be due to the backpack and the amount of weight you’ve been carrying with you. Good spinal health is vital for a healthy and active lifestyle.

Backpack dangers for children

Of course, when we think of heavy backpacks, we think of children heading off to school. Children are often at-risk from the damages that can be caused from a heavy backpack full of school supplies. They use them all week, throughout the school day. Most children walk to school, and walk between classes with their backpack on, and it’s during this time that carrying a heavy backpack can cause the most back damage.

Children are also unlikely to complain about their back problems –  as they have less experience of pain to compare their discomfort to. So, if your children are using backpacks for school, as their parent you need to be checking the weight of the backpack and the comfort of your child frequently. This is even more important if your children is likely to carry multiple books or digital devices such as tablets of laptops. It’s also important to teach your children how to wear their backpack properly, as many children will wear it in a way that ‘looks cool’ but might not necessarily give them the support they need.

Many Chiropractors see children throughout the year who experience strains in their muscles and joints, muscle aches, balance issues, posture problems and even misalignments due to backpack related injuries. They also treat children who experience sleeping issues because of backpack-related pain in their spine and hips.

Of course, these back issues can all be experienced by adults too, who may be having the same problem.

Backpack dangers for adults

For adults experiencing back pain from their heavy backpacks, the best preventative treatment is to reduce the weight you’re carrying, or find a new way of transporting items. In cities such as London, many commuters choose to use the small pull-along cases that many brands design for hand luggage on planes. These are usually small enough for most forms of public transport, but allow the same storage as a backpack (with none of the associated back pain).

If purchasing a new bag isn’t an option, make sure you’re carrying your items properly, and wearing your bag correctly too. You should always wear both straps of your backpack, and you should pull the bag tightly to your body so it isn’t bouncing or slouched. Try to also pack your bag mindfully, considering where items are placed and trying to centralise the heaviest things.

If you’re already experiencing pain and you need help, then chiropractic treatment is the best option for recovery. Chiropractic care will not only advise you on posture techniques, spinal manipulation, and recommend exercises to help you manage the pain, but they can also start the healing process to help you regain strength and confidence in your back once again.

Back damage can stop you doing all kind of activities and everyday tasks, so it is something you want to address and get a professional to look at, as soon as you recognise it.

How Technology is Affecting Chiropractic Treatments

Visiting a medical professional can often be a chore, or something a lot of people dread days in advance. A lot of treatments and technology can seem scary and dated, and it’s especially daunting if you’re not familiar with the process, or what is being done.

However, for chiropractic care, technology is making treatments easier, quicker, and more accurate. This gives patients a better overall experience.

What technology are chiropractic treatments using?

For decades, chiropractors have performed spinal manipulation manually. They rely on touch, sensation and years of practise to bring positive results to their patients. With the introduction of exciting technology though, such as SpineTech Therapy, diagnosis can be quicker and more accurate, and results may be seen faster.

SpineTech Therapy has various sensors that scan and assess the alignment of the patient. The main sensor is called the Piezoelectric Sensor and it detects the motion of the spine and how the joins move together well (or in many cases, not well).

For a chiropractor, it does the ‘feeling’ for them, and can deliver a more accurate reading. It can show where the spine is fixated, if there is anywhere the spine is stuck. It can also detect if there’s any degeneration, and which joints require assistance and further examination.

Another technology advancement for chiropractors is called the INSiGHT Scanning Technology – which can help a chiropractor understand exactly what’s wrong in their patient’s spine. An incorrect diagnosis (at any stage of treatment) can often worsen the outcome – so it’s crucial to get everything right from the beginning. This piece of technology allows chiropractors to diagnose the underlying problem more accurately.

An evolution of chiropractic technology

For many people in the industry, new technological advancements like these will mean visiting the chiropractor is easier, simpler and the level or assessment is higher too. It means that those experiencing neck pain or back pain can now seek safer and more detailed treatments and mean that manual therapies and spinal adjustments are not always needed.

It’s an evolution in technology that will change the way the industry works, and how patients are seen and treated.

How to Correct your Posture

If you find yourself experiencing back pain or dull aches, it could be your back posture that needs correcting and adjusting. Good posture is the key to good back health, and yet so many of us fall short of what’s recommended. You might also suffer from poor posture for other reasons, such as hunching your back whilst driving. Below are some tips to help you improve and correct your posture:

See a Chiropractor

Of course, one of the most effective things you can do to improve your posture is to see a chiropractor. It’s a chiropractors job to recognise any issues in your posture and also identify any reasons why these problems may have occurred over time. They can recommend exercises and stretches for you to carry forward at home, as well as inspecting and analysing your back and seeing where and what is most affected.

Make time for stretching and meditation

In the morning or evening, make time for stretching or meditation – two things that can slowly help correct posture. These activities can help you warm up your muscles, become more flexible, and gain more confidence in the way your body moves. The more supple and flexible your body is, the more you’ll be able to improve your posture.

Recognise when you’re slouching, and correct yourself

One of the biggest indicators of bad posture, is slouching. Most people slouch all the time, throughout the day, and it’s an easy habit to fall into. If you take a look around, you’ll probably see people slouching as they walk, or people slouching over their phone, or even slouching into their seat (for example on a train or in the car).

A good trick is to recognise when you slouch the most, and make a conscious effort to correct yourself. When you’re on your phone, hold it to eye level, so you don’t need to bend to look at it. When you’re walking stand up straight, or when you’re sitting straighten your back and sit upright. Simple corrections like this can make a big difference.

Sleep comfortably

You may find yourself slouching or having bad posture because your body is compensating for a bad night’s sleep. If you wake up with back ache, it’s easy to slouch or adjust your posture to compensate for the pain. Instead, try and work out what is preventing you from sleeping peacefully, and aim to resolve it. You may need a softer mattress, or a firmer one, or maybe more supportive pillows for your neck.

Work from a better position

You spend most of your day at work, so correcting your posture during working hours is really important, especially if you want to see an overall improvement. Posture isn’t just something to take into account when stood up – posture is important when sat down too. A quick solution, is to purchase simple posture

Can A Chiropractor Help With Scoliosis?

Scoliosis is a spinal condition which can affect babies, children, adolescents and adults. It causes the spine to curve into an S shape, which can sometimes make the body look uneven or cause back pain. While some babies are born with the condition, scoliosis can start to appear at any age and usually presents between 10-15 years of age. It is thought that three or four children out of every 1,000 in the UK have the condition and require treatment. Read more

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.

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.

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.

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.

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. Here’s why your back or neck pain may get 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.

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/

Back Pain Remedies that will Never Work

A lot of people suffer with ongoing back pain and spine conditions, and unfortunately there are few treatments available. The chronic condition can negatively impact day to day life, so finding something to ease the symptoms is important. However, studies show that the majority of pain medications don’t actually relieve back pain, and they certainly don’t combat the cause of the discomfort.

There are many different remedies available which claim to relieve back pain or make it coming back altogether, but usually there is no proof for this. Prescribed medication, if it has any effect at all, only masks the pain for a short while and natural remedies aren’t recommended by medical professionals. Here are some medication myths for back pain and a list of remedies you shouldn’t waste your time on.

Paracetamolpicture of drugs pills

You can buy painkillers over the counter and it is usually the first go-to medication for any kind of pain relief. Headaches, toothache, and muscle sprains can be relieved with paracetamol but back ache is slightly different. The acute pain is usually caused by inflammation, which means paracetamol has no effect whatsoever.

NSAIDs

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen are also available without prescription and are often recommended for back pain. However, taking this medication on a regular basis has serious side effects, and lifestyle factors can be much more effective than taking a pill. Recent studies show that depending on what is causing the back pain, NSAIDs don’t work for everyone and provide little relief for the majority of back pain sufferers.

Restman sleeping on a bench

It’s an old wives tale that bed rest can cure anything! In the case of back pain, the opposite is true. Pain in the back doesn’t necessarily indicate any damage such as a pulled muscle, so there is no need to limit movement in the back. Exercise is one of the most accepted treatments for back pain, and sitting or lying for long periods of time can actually make the pain worse.

Natural supplements

When drugs don’t work, the herbal supplements sector goes into overdrive, claiming to cure the ailment. The main ones recommended for back pain are bromelain, which has an anti-inflammatory effect, and Devil’s Claw which can reduce arthritis-related pain. Supplements alone will not cure back pain and you should always consult your GP before taking them.

Because back pain is so common and there is no definite cure, there are lots of myths about treatment. Everyone is different so you should explore different back pain treatment options and mobility exercises to see what works for you.