Author: <span class="vcard">rachael</span>

How to Get Better Faster?

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For most people, this is the most important thing about healing. They want to get better as fast as possible, so that they can get on with life. I get it, I’ve been there. Over the years I’ve had a variety of injuries and health challenges, and like almost every one I know, when something goes wrong I want to get better, and I want to get better yesterday.

How well you heal and how fast you heal depends in part on your focus, your intentions and your actions. Let me explain…

First of all, let me give you the example of someone who has low back pain, a common reason for consulting a chiropractor. If this persons main focus is on getting rid of pain, their internal dialogue may run along the lines of:

  • how can I stop this pain?
  • what shall I avoid doing today?
  • what’s wrong with me?
  • why me? It’s not my fault, I didn’t do anything wrong?
  • are their any stronger pills I could take?

Let’s take the same person, but their goal is to run a 10k for charity to raise money for a local hospice, but their back is playing up. Their internal dialogue may be:

  • what do I need to do to support my healing?
  • Could I run a bit, or maybe just walk? Would that help?
  • Is anything else triggering my back pain? What could I change?
  • How could I change my diet to reduce inflammation in my body to support healing?
  • what’s my body telling me? Why did this pain come on now?

Now your questions may be different again, you may be looking for a solution to a different problem. But look at the kind of questions you ask and ask yourself  the following:

“Does my internal dialogue support me healing or do it make me feel worse or less resourceful?”

The first list of questions in my opinion do nothing to increase resourcefulness. If I read them out loud I feel miserable and I don’t even have any pain currently. When I read the second list I feel uplifted. I feel that more is possible, that I can do things that will help me. It doesn’t mean that everything I do will help me, but anything that I do to get my body in a more resourceful state is going to help.

Are your Goals focused on Gaining something or Losing something? 

It’s much easier to create ease and resourcefulness than it is to get “rid of something” from our body. Because the painful part or negative dialogue exist within us. Our body is designed to heal. We all know that, even if we have lost a bit of hope.

So make your healing goals about what you will do when the symptom goes away or how you want to feel rather than how you don’t want to feel. So many goals are about getting rid of or feeling less. If someone wants less pain, I always ask – and what do you want to replace the pain with once it’s gone? How will your life be different? What will you do differently? How will you treat your friends and family differently? How will you be different at work?

So check-in and remind yourself – why do I want this? You may be surprised at the answers you get….

 

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Where does your brain end and start?

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I challenge you to look at this picture of a human brain. This has been floating around facebook for the last few weeks and it got me thinking. As a chiropractor I know that the brain is contiguous with the spinal cord… that is you can’t really separate them. It’s not like the brain stops and spinal cord begins. In fact our spinal cord is an extension or a part of our brain.

Where do we put things that we can’t deal with or don’t have time to deal with? 

You put them “at the back of your mind”…… or is that your spinal column or your back.

So why is this so important? Because we all know that our brain is like the super computer, the harddrive for so much information in our body. Medicine is constantly talking about how drugs can be used to target the brain and we all know what happens if someone has a brain injury – part of their body often stops working, like we see after a stroke or say a tumour in the brain.

Our spinal column contains so much important information, so a tumour in the spine often causes weird symptoms in one of our limbs. Pressure on the spinal cord (or brain) can affect sensation below that area of the cord or can affect how our muscles work.

Also, our spinal column contains the densest areas of receptor sites for the chemicals of emotion in the body (Candace Pert, Molecules of Emotion). Denser even than in the brain itself or the gut (where you experience your “gut reaction”. So it sort of makes sense that the spinal cord is actually an extension of the brain, not merely an appendage.

So next time your back hurts or you feel out of alignment, take a moment and think about how your spine may be distorting or adapting to what’s going on inside your spine (or inside your brain). And observe the emotions and feelings you may normally associate with being experience in your brain, may actually be experienced first in your spinal cord……

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How do YOU mess your back up?

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I was browsing Facebook and I found this image….. and I thought… how many of my clients do something similar or have done in the past. I can’t quote the paper exactly but I have a memory of being told that back in the day when we always paid the taxi in cash, if the driver kept his wallet in his back pocket he was something like 50% more likely to suffer with back problems. It makes totally sense doesn’t it?

So my question for you is – what do you do that puts your spine out of balance?

When I asked a few friends and clients, here is some of what we came up with…

  • My computer is at an angle to my chair so I always have to look to the left
  • I spend way to much time on my smart phone
  • I always carry my 2 year old on my left hip
  • I do sit on my wallet – omg!
  • My sofa is super saggy and when I’m on it, I’m never comfortable
  • My bed is too hard, my shoulder just can’t relax when I lie on my side
  • I play hours of cricket 3x a week (this also can apply to golf)

So what do you do? I’d love to hear your answers……

 

Photo credit: https://www.facebook.com/Walters-Chiropractic-170664712958542/

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How to Bust Stress!

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I just love this short video. Please share with friends and family if you love it as much as I do…

How Best to Bust Stress – 5 secrets

Do you know the 5 best ways to bust stress in your body?

Posted by Naturally Empowered Wellness & Chiropractic on Monday, 23 April 2018

 

What healthy people know about spinal function is essential to living well – Part 2

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Last week we talked about the role your spine plays in posture. And how that can be linked to how you feel and how you function.

What happens if your spine is out of position and puts pressure on a nerve or tension into a nerve?

The easiest examples of pressure on a nerve would be sciatica – which is pressure on the sciatic nerve in the leg. When really bad people will scream or cry with pain. Any small movement is excruciating. I’ve seen grown men crawl into the practice on their hands and knees and one even arrive on a stretcher.

Luckily for most people the pain is just moderate to severe.

Why are fully functioning nerves SO IMPORTANT that the body makes them hurt this much?

Nerves carry messages from our master control centre – the brain – to all our joints and organs, which help with how well your body functions (or doesn’t). You need these messages to get through which is why your body will do all it can to stop you doing more damage to your nerves.

Messages between the body and the brain

Listening to the body and reacting to the environment

We tend to think of nerves mainly as supplying muscles and keeping us moving. However nerves also send lots of information from the body to the brain. For example if you touch something hot, pain signals rush up the nerves telling your brain that you are about to get damaged and the brain sends signals back firing the nerves that go to the muscles in your arm and you move your arm as fast as possible. That all depends on your nerves working properly. If the nerve to your hand wasn’t working properly, the sensory part of the nerve may not notice the heat fast enough, because your hand is already numb. And hence you don’t remove your hand quickly and get burnt.

An example of where this can be a big problem in people who have a neuropathy, such as the one associated with diabetes, because they don’t notice when they tread on something sharp and there is their risk of damage or infection is much higher because of lack of pain signals.

Getting the body to move

Another common problem is when a nerve has been under pressure and not working well for a while people can start to lose strength. If it’s the nerves to the hand then they may struggle to open jars or keep dropping things. If it’s the nerves to the hips they may have problem getting up off the floor, or the nerves to the foot you may have foot drop and are unable to lift your toes up whilst walking.

What to do if you think you have a nerve problem?

First thing to do is get your nervous system assessed by a healthcare professional who is interested in nerves.

Chiropractors also study neurology extensively as part of their degree and are trained to assess function of all the major motor and sensory nerves, including the cranial nerves (on the head and face). Their diagnostic skills will tell them if pathology is likely in which case they will refer you to your GP to get medically investigated, but in most cases this is not necessary and problems can be addressed.

Furthermore, many chiropractors are investing in technology such as Surface EMG, Thermography and Heart Rate Variability, all of which give insights into how well your nervous system is functioning. And are excellent tools for monitoring progress and detecting underlying problems that may not yet be causing symptoms.

Don’t wait until you’re broken….

As a culture, the British are very good at ignoring symptoms. I was brought up to keep going at all costs, and consequently some of my sporting injuries lasted a lot longer that was necessary. If you suspect a problem, get checked sooner rather than later. Because new problems heal a lot faster than chronic problems that the body has often spent years adapting to.

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What healthy people know about spinal function is essential to living well – Part 1

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Most of you will read this because at some point, either now or in the past, you will have suffered with spinal pain. And for many people it comes out of nowhere – or seemingly. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been told “I didn’t do anything and now I’m in agony”.

Most people only think of their spine when it hurts. Very few people think about their spine for any other reason, pretty much how we relate to our body. My body is fine as long as everything works. So we put reasonable fuel into our body, exercise to the level that suits us and just hope everything stays ok.

What is the Anatomy of Our Spine?

Your spine is made up of 24 moveable bones called vertebrae and at the bottom you have your sacrum and coccyx, so 26 in total.

How does it form or evolve?

Your spine evolves in utero around the spinal cord. What actually happens is first your nervous system (brain and spinal cord) develop. And then the bones (skull and vertebrae) form around it – to protect the soft sensitive structures that make up our nervous system.

From the spine also form the ribs, and the limbs, which themselves (ribs) protect all of our internal organs, and the limbs allow us to move and function in the world.

What is your Spine’s Job?

Two jobs

  • Keep you upright and in a healthy posture
  • Protect the spinal cord, the superhighway for information flow in your body

So the purpose of your spine is to provide a framework to hold you upright and also to protect the nervous system. Your nervous system is like the internal workings of a computer. It processes everything, yes everything that happens around you and to you and within you and its job is coordinate health within your body to the best of its ability.

Good Posture / healthy body

Whether we like it or not, we judge people within 7 seconds of meeting them. Posture makes a big impression on people and we decide immediately if this person is a threat, if they are weak, are they confident, are they low in self-esteem, are they healthy or are they sick, are they a winner or a loser. So much of this we decide from how people hold themselves or put another way – how people posture.

Molecules of Emotion

It’s interesting that we do this and there is some interesting research that that has some relevance to this. In the 1970’s Dr Candace Pert was doing her post-doc studies and she was looking where we experienced emotions in the body from evaluating the receptor sites for emotional chemicals. Not unsurprisingly she found lots of receptor sites in the brain. But she also went on the prove the Gut Reaction by discovering lots of receptor sites in the gut (we all know that feeling of butterflies….). And from my perspective the most important and least known fact is that she found that the spine had the highest concentrations of receptions for the molecules of emotion. So by changing your posture you can change your mood. Or your mood can change your posture. We all know this to be true at a conscious levels, especially in younger people. You can see who feels bad about themselves, who is bullied and who is angry just by how they hold their body and their spine.

What can you do if your posture is bad?

Many people just accept poor posture as a hazard of aging. Yet when I look around I see poor posture becoming endemic in our younger populations now, in part due to the massive increase in smart phones and technology.

First thing is to become aware. Get a friend to take a photo. And then pay attention to your posture. See what you can do at the gym, by being conscious, by stretching your body and strengthening your body. And for some people that’s all they need to do. If you find your posture is getting progressively worse and appears to be affecting your function, find a good chiropractor and get properly assessed using technology. Then you have a baseline and progress can be measured and evaluated.

Perfect posture of often not possible as we age, but improved posture is almost always possible as spinal function improves and spinal tensions drop.

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4 Things You Should Know About Chronic Back Pain

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Our spines are amazing. They hold us upright, the allow us to bend, flex, respond to whatever life throws at us. However, back or spinal pain is a common problem for many of us and can be a source of distress. Most back problems are usually resolved in weeks or months, but for some people back problems become a way of life and become described as “chronic”, meaning of more than 3 months duration. Here are some things that may help you to know about chronic pain, or to help you understand someone you love who is suffering.

Chronic Back Problems are Really Common

Chronic pain is estimated to affect 1 in 10 of the UK population at any one time and is a growing cause of disability.

Chronic Back Pain can be distressing

People with chronic back pain can be affected at an emotional level because of how it interferes with daily tasks and also because of fears around longer term issues and disability.

Chronic Back Pain can affect your sleep

Chronic pain is commonly associated with poor sleep. And poor sleep in itself can exacerbate existing conditions and make them worse, or at least make it difficult to heal. A study showed sleep problems in 56% of people with chronic back pain, compared with 10% in the general population. Sleep loss and broken sleep is also associated with an increased inflammatory response which may make symptoms worse.

Chronic Back Pain can be helped

It’s easy to feel disempowered. Many people with pain have already been told there is nothing that can be done and to live with it…. However, there are many steps you can take and here are some of the best:

  • Keep active – yes it’s not the first thing you think of when you are in pain. But moving and gentle exercise have been shown over and over to help. The first step is often to walk more. As little as 30 minutes per day (can be in separate sessions) can make a difference.
  • Quit smoking – most people don’t know that smoking reduces flow of oxygen to the spine, which is needed to nourish the spine and associated parts. Smoking is associated with an increased risk of disc degeneration and is a risk factor for disc injury.
  • Include gentle stretching into your daily routine. It is associated with pain relief and increased mobility. Seek advice from your chiropractor or other qualified health professional to find the right stretches for you
  • Talk to your local chiropractor to find out how they may be able to help you with the symptoms of chronic back pain. You may be pleasantly surprised as to what is possible.

 

References

The global burden of low back pain: estimates from the Global Burden of Disease 2010 study Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases. Published online March 24 2014, Hoy D, March L, Brooks P, et al.

Chronic low back pain and psychological comorbidity : A review. Bletzer J1, Gantz S2, Voigt T2, Neubauer E2, Schiltenwolf [Article in German]

Chronic low back pain and the risk of depression or anxiety symptoms: insights from a longitudinal twin study. The Spine Journal (2017), Fernandez, Matt et al: Web.

Do patients with chronic back pain sleep well?. The Spine Journal (2008), Purushothaman, Balaji et al: Web

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3 Things You can do Today to Improve Chronic Back Pain

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Chronic or long term back problems are one of the biggest cause of disability in the UK and is estimated to affect between one third and one half of the population. So what can you do to improve your spinal function and manage your pain?

  1. Get Active

There is a lot of fear around “doing more damage” in people who have chronic pain.

Your spine is designed to move, we are designed to move! And our modern lifestyles are resulting in more and more of leading sedentary lives were the most movement we get is to walk from our front door to our car and from our car to the office and back.

People who exercise to help manage or heal from chronic back pain find it often helps to reduce the back pain intensity. A short study of 256 participants with chronic back pain who exercised for 6 weeks, saw a 31% decrease in back pain symptoms. Exercise included aerobic and flexibility exercises. Furthermore, it was found that exercise did not increase the risk of future pain or degeneration.

  1. Stretch

Make stretching a part of your daily routine. It can help to keep your spine flexible and mobile, aside from releasing tense, tired muscles. Prolonged sitting often causes stress to the spine. Stretching can help alleviate this.

Multiple studies have documented the efficacy of stretching for improving flexibility in patients with low back pain, with an average improvement of 10%. Stretches need to be performed within comfortable limits so as not to induce discomfort. Your chiropractor can advise you further on this.

  1. Improve your Body Awareness

Most people with pain are used to listening to the loud symptoms from their body ie pain. People who become more aware of the subtle signals from their body can learn to adjust their activities to listen to their body and minimize the aggravation to injured areas. Breath based exercises such as Somato-Respiratory Integration can help to improve body awareness and empower individuals to listen to their body and act on what works best for them.

Help is Available

Chiropractors are qualified to address your musculoskeletal disorders and can help to relieve the pain of chronic or acute back problems. Chiropractors can provide both treatment and advice on chronic pain and help individuals to live a more active, fulfilling life.

To make an appointment call 01625 402053 or email on info@naturallyempowered.co.uk

 

 

 

 

References

 

Prevalence of chronic pain in the UK: a systematic review and meta-analysis of population studies. A Fayaz, P Croft, R M Langford, L J Donaldson, G T Jones

 

Rainville, James et al. Exercise as a Treatment for Chronic Low Back Pain. The Spine Journal 4 (2004). Online.

 

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2 WAYS A CHIROPRACTOR CAN HELP WITH CHRONIC BACK PAIN

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An estimated 1 in 10 people suffer from back pain, making it a major public health concern. Chronic back pain is a long-term, persistent condition and can cause physical and psychological distress. It is associated with more disability than any other condition.

In the run up to Spinal Awareness Week in May, we will be running a series of article on back pain. We encourage people to seek help for chronic back pain.

Taking the first steps to combat chronic back pain can be overwhelming. In the first instance, it can be helpful to seek advice from a healthcare practitioner who will provide both a treatment that works and help you with ongoing strategies that support a healthy spine in the longer term.

Chiropractors are trained “to diagnose, treat, co-manage, and manage the treatment of patients with low back pain disorders” and work with other healthcare professionals where needed to address chronic back pain. There are many ways chiropractors can help with chronic back pain.

Here are 2 ways a chiropractor can assist in managing symptoms of chronic back pain.

  1. Chiropractic Treatment

For chronic back problems, chiropractors use a variety of non-surgical treatments and non-medicine based approaches. As with any treatment approach, your chiropractor will evaluate you to see if their approach is appropriate and may be able to help with your chronic back pain symptoms.

In a large study in the 1990s of nearly 3000 people, Network Chiropractic was shown to bring relief from physical symptoms in over 70% of those studied.

Both of our chiropractors are highly qualified healthcare professionals who have completed a 5 years full time degree in Chiropractic to Masters Level. Their education includes excellent medical diagnostic skills alongside chiropractic diagnosis and treatment skills to ensure that they either provide you with the best solution, or refer you to another health care provider if appropriate.

  1. Lifestyle Advice

It can be hard to identify the cause of chronic back pain, especially in the absence of an injury or medical condition, however, a sedentary lifestyle and poor posture are risk factors for this condition.

Staying active is important for spinal mobility and health. People with chronic back pain may find it hard to exercise, however, they should try to be as active as possible. Incorporating walking into your daily routine is a good way to start. One way to track progress might be to download the Map My Walk App or something similar.

Poor posture can also put strain on the spine. Slouching or hunching distorts the natural shape of the spine and places undue stress on it. Download the Straighten Up (Australia) or Straighten Up (Canada) app to receive posture reminders throughout the day and follow the Straighten Up exercise program to improve your spinal health and strengthen core muscles. Check out the videos on our website for more tips on exercises to support back and neck pain.

Chiropractors can advise on self-management of chronic back pain symptoms through exercise and lifestyle modification. Talk to your chiropractor for more information on how they can help with chronic back pain and other spinal health issues.

How to Use an Ice Pack

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Some of you may go – what, isn’t it obvious? Having seen several ice burns over the years, the answer is “no, not to everyone”.

Enjoy this short video that will help you get the most from ice when you are struggling with pain.