What does the spine have to do with consciousness? Well your brain extends all the way from your skull down to almost the bottom of your spine…. find out more in this video
How does our spine affect how we respond to stresses and challenges? Find out more here
What does your spine have to do with your sense of self?
Find out more….
How can your spinal function affect your emotional state? Find out more here…
How could your spine possibly contain gifts? Well ask someone who’s spine works really well and you might find out…. or you could watch this short video….
Most people who have experienced Network Spinal Analysis love how it makes their body feel.
However, some people find it easy to observe the breath wave that moves up and down their spine, others know that they feel better but because we can’t see our own spine find it hard to relate what is happening (after all we put things we don’t want to deal with to “the back of our mind” which is where the spine is…..).
In this short video observe the movements and listen to the commentary as to what is happening. Then next time you get adjusted (entrained) observe your body with this extra knowledge or if you get a chance as if you can watch someone else for a few minutes. So many people have said – once I saw what was happening I became aware of it. Is this you too?
We all know that getting a good nights sleep is really important. I say it to my clients on a regular basis that we use down time or sleep to recover and recuperate. So what happens when your body isn’t getting enough sleep? What are the potential longer term consequences?
Well they’re not all guaranteed, but your risk factors for all of the following go up if you suffer from insomnia
high blood pressure
weight gain – yes weight gain!
weight loss – ironically…
increased risk of cancer and diabetes
lower immune system function
constipation and diarrhea
Some of the things we take for granted can also be affected by poor sleep or lack of sleep including:
Inability to Manage Stress – including agitation and overwhelm
Irritability or grumpiness
Poor concentration and focus
Short or long term memory loss
Slower reaction times
Problems with motor skills or operating machinery
Low self esteem
More likely to take uncalculated risks
Increased risk of addictions
It’s a pretty depressing list isn’t it. Especially if you’re someone who’s looking after yourself in many other ways and the one thing that isn’t sorting itself out is your sleep.
So what can you do to improve your ability to sleep?
Try to stay awake – a small study from the University of Hertfordshire showed that actually trying to stay awake increased your chance of falling asleep when compared to people who tried to fall asleep
Hide your clock
Cool your room – our temperature drops when we sleep, a cooler room supports this
Have a warm shower, before going into your cooler bedroom
Wear socks – a study showed that warm hands and feet were a predictor of being able to fall asleep
Immerse your face in ice cold water – triggers the Mamalian Dive Reflex lowering heart rate and blood pressure, soothing your system
Scent your bedroom with lavender
Listen to classical music for around 45 mins
Avoid watching television or using electronic devices in the hour before bedtime
Try the 4,7,8 method – championed by Dr. Andrew Weil (see below)
Championed by best-selling author Dr. Andrew Weil—and various wellness bloggers, the “4-7-8” breathing technique is purported to help you fall asleep in under a minute. The method is said to relax you by increasing the amount of oxygen in your blood stream, slowing your heart rate, and releasing more carbon dioxide from the lungs. According to DrWeil.com, here’s how you do it:
Place the tip of your tongue against the ridge of tissue just behind your upper front teeth, and keep it there through the entire exercise.
Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound.
Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four.
Hold your breath for a count of seven.
Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of eight.
Repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths.
So I’d love to know what works for you ? Do share below if you have anything else that really works too.
For some people there is so much stress in their body and their life they need more help. If you’ve tried everything above and more, think about getting your Nervous System and Spine evaluated because the answer may lie there…
In his book The 12 Stages of Healing, Donald Epstein discusses the 12 stages of human consciousness we go through from a healing perspective. But what are they, and how does each stage impact on your life.
How you experience your body and your world can make a huge difference to your life experiences. We all know the differences between a glass half full person and someone who’s glass is half empty…. There is more depth to these stages, but it is always good to read them and see what rings true for you and what doesn’t. Because if are constantly circulating between stages 1, 2 and 3, progress is a challenge. You may find the resources to make change, but it will probably be a struggle……
Have a look and see what you can relate to….
The 12 Stages of Healing Exercises
Stage 1: Suffering and Disconnection
When we suffer, nothing works. We feel helpless and most of us will do anything to avoid this feeling. In this stage we learn that there are times when there is nothing we can do, but if we can learn how to connect to our body in those moments we can draw upon resources we didn’t even know we had.
Stage 2: Polarity
When there are things we cannot accept about ourselves, our situation or our life we tend to look for magical solutions or something to blame. This disconnects us from our bodies and our resources. In this stage we learn how to connect to different parts and how to increase our resourcefulness when we feel that things have been done to us or someone else can “fix” us.
Stage 3: Stuck in a Perspective
Ever feel like it doesn’t matter what you do, nothing is ever going to change? In this stage we explore how our mind can hold us in a pattern and how to connect to that part of us that is stuck and limited.
Stage 4: Reclaiming Your Power
There are times in our lives when we realize that something has to change and that something is us. In this stage we recognize how we have given our power away and how it has limited us and we step back into ownership of who we are and what’s possible.
Stage 5: Merging with the Stories
Have you ever told yourself that you just can’t change, that this is how it is or that is has to be and will always be this way? We often limit ourselves with beliefs, and often they’re not even our beliefs, we just picked them up along the way. In this stage we reconnect to that the stories and illusions we have created and start to rewrite our stories in ways that serve us more productively.
Stage 6: Preparing for Resolution
Do you ever feel so ready for change and want to build up the energy even more? In stage 6 we connect to our resources, build energy and get ready to discharge that which no longer serves us.
Stage 7: Resolution
This stage is associated with discharge of the patterns that no longer serve us. Discharge can be noise, screaming, yelling, laughing or muscular moves. It is associated with a sense of accomplishment, peace and inner strength.
Stage 8: Emptiness in Connection
Following discharge we feel empty. But that emptiness if full of potential, full of possibility. We enter a stage of gratitude, vulnerability and connection to possibility. Trust comes naturally and serendipity is a regular occurrence.
Stage 9: Light beyond the Form
We become aware that we are more than just our physical body, and can become aware of the energy flowing within us and around us. Some experience an energetic connection to others. Accompanied by feelings of awe and joy for the process.
Stage 10: Ascent
There is an awareness here that we are not just an intelligent form but we are intelligence itself. Here we transcend the limits of the self, recognizing that we are united with the force of the universe.
Stage 11: Descent
We are renewed beyond our limits and sense of self and enter into the world again. We know that we are part of all we perceive and responsible for what we know. We live without being attached to our situations. We love and serve life and others. We communicate with ourselves and others “through” our wounds instead of “from” them.
Stage 12: Community
We experience our involvement with humanity and recognize that wholeness comes from bringing our gifts of individuality into community. We receive the gifts of individuality, from within ourselves and from others. We recognize that all of our choices are spiritual ones, and affect the entire globe of beings. This occurs in our internal and external communities. Eventually, we recognize that the limits of what we can bring to community stem from our own lack of wholeness. Therefore we seek to re-experience the rhythm of Stage One.
While you’re busy enjoying your summer activities—whether it’s hiking, biking, fishing, camping, relaxing by the pool, or enjoying summer sports—don’t forget to stay hydrated You can chose between tap, bottled or alkaline water.
But first, what are the symptoms of dehydration to look out for?
The most common signs are:
Tired or sleepy
Decreased urine output
Urine is low volume and more yellow than normal
Severe Dehydration signs include:
No urine or very limited urine output
Dizziness that affects your ability to walk
Blood pressure drops when you stand up
Rapid heart rate that doesn’t settle
Poor skin elasticity (slowly goes back to normal position when pinched)
Lethargy, confusion, coma
Obviously these symptoms are rare, but if you suspect someone with you is suffering seek immediate medical support.
But to Water….
We like alkaline water, and whilst the research is still in the embryonic stages, this is what they think so far…
Why is alkalinity important for your health?
It helps you combat acid overload by regulating your pH balance. Not only will it help alleviate unpleasant symptoms, but it will also help boost your energy, support your immunity, support your weight loss program, promote a healthy heart, improve your cognitive function, promote healthy skin, ease back/joint pain, and aid your overall health and well-being. What’s not to love?
Our favourite choices are either Liquid Chlorophyll by Natures Sunshine. We’ve used the product for several years now and our bodies just love it. Alternatively you can buy alkaline drops from Amazon.
Whether you chose to hydrate with Alkaline water or not, make sure you drink plenty of water to support you through the hot summer months. Maybe this summer isn’t a one off, who knows, but for now, look after your body and drink as much water as it needs.
One of the first questions I ask my clients is what are they aware of during and immediately after a chiropractic adjustment?
Because for most people lots of things will change in their body during and after an adjustment, and research shows that being aware increases sustainability and benefits.
So what do most people answer in the beginning?
Most people tell me about their pain – did it go down, did it go up, did it move. And often that’s all they focus on. Some people will say that their breathing got deeper, they feel more relaxed, they felt their pain melt away or their stress melt away. Many people report feeling more relaxed.
I think because most people come for pain or symptoms, that’s what they focus on. So here is a question?
Where in your body do you think you are most resourceful?
If an area of your spine is locked up and not working very well, or is painful, do you think this area is resourceful and able to self correct? The answer is pretty obviously NO. So if you put all your focus here, do you think it will help you get more resourceful?
Most of spend a lot of time focusing on the part of our body that hurts, that isn’t behaving, that feels like it’s letting us down.
So what about finding some new internal resources?
What if, instead of focusing on the area that hurts you start to focus on your whole body? You observe how your body moves as you breathe in and out. If you have a sense of energy in the body, observe where it flows and where it is blocked. If somewhere in your body feels really relaxed and good, what do you notice when you focus there?
So many people say – “I only have pain when I stop and pay attention”. So that makes the pain more obvious, but it doesn’t necessarily make them more resourceful. What if you could find areas in your body that are highly resourceful (because we all have them) and focussed on them. How would your whole body feel?
Now not everyone has those skills, but another way of creating some ease in your body is to remember an event or a person that always makes you feel good and focus on that memory for a few minutes. How does that make you feel? Does your breathing deepen? Do you feel your body relax? What changes? Now do the opposite, focus on someone or something that stresses you out? What happens to your breath? Does your body tense up? What changes in your body?
So how do you find more internal resources?
The best approach I know of is Somato-Respiratoy Integration, so I’m going to share some of the basics of it to start this process of finding internal resources.
Look at the diagram. It shows you where positions 1, 2 and 3 on the body. Find a quiet space and then listen to the recording, which will help you start your journey to better body connection and resourcefulness.
It’s thought that almost every adult at some point in their life will suffer with low back pain, but our medical profession is limited to pain killing tablets or injections or surgery. And did you know that UK Doctors are not allowed to recommend alternative therapies, that may be more beneficial to their patien
ts. I’m guessing in part it’s because the medical degree rarely contains any education on the benefits of complimentary therapies, so doctors aren’t actually qualified to comment on them. They have to rely on personal experience.
This concern was flagged up in a major study in the Lancet, one of the most prestigious journals out there.
The biggest problem with pain killers is they may reduce pain (and they don’t always) but they mask the symptoms rather than dealing with the cause of the problem, often prolonging the injury and in some cases causing more damage to the spine.
The Chiropractic degree in the UK is a 5 year program, where they study the spine in depth. And if you’re concerned that your chiropractor may miss medical conditions, they spend a significant amount of time studying pathology and general diagnosis, so that when your medical doctor is needed, they will refer you.
Ref: Lancet, 2018 Mar 20
Having worked as a chiropractor for over 15 years, I’ve seen many people with pain complaints, be it low back pain, chronic neck pain, pain between the shoulder blades, headaches, the list goes on and on. And almost all of them at some point have taken pain killing medication for either a short or often a long time. Because that’s what we do. We injure ourselves and our culture tells us the first line of treatment is medication…. And most of us now know that we have to be careful with certain drugs because of side effects such as stomach bleeding, but we know the risk and we take it.
However, new research is coming out around the common painkillers including paracetamol, aspirin and ibuprofren that I for one find quite disturbing.
A study in Finland looked at people who had been convicted of homicide (that’s murder in English). They 959 convicts and compared them to 9000 individuals who had never been convicted and compared their medications. They were looking for a correlation between SSRIs (anti-depressants) or anti-psychotic mediations. Instead they found a much higher correlation between opioid painkillers such as codeine and non-opiod painkillers such as paracetamol and aspirin (WorldPsychiatry, 2015; 14:245-7)
In another study, people taking common painkillers such as ibuprofen, aspirin and paracetamol had their responses to painful experiences blunted (not just their physical responses), and became less empathetic to other peoples pain and suffering. It appears that they hinder an individuals ability to put themselves in someone elses shoes and feel that persons emotional and physical pain (PolicyInsights:BehavBrainSci, 2018; 5:82-9)
A further study on Paracetamol shows that is dulls our senses, not just our pain. It blocks both the emotional highs and lows (Psychological Science, 2015; doi: 10.1177/0956797615570366).
In the 15 years I’ve worked, I’ve seen a massive increase in the use of these drugs. More and more people seem to have them as a standard part of their lifestyle, popping them with little thought for the potential implications on their mental health. So next time you’re in pain, ask – do I really need to medicate this or is there another way?
Chiropractic is a drug free approach to health and well-being.
So obviously the first thing to do when you are experiencing pain in your foot is to check your foot. It could be a problem with ill fitting shoes, corns, plantar fasciatis, etc. But have you thought of checking your back, specifically your lumbar spine?
You might be surprised to find out that irritation of your sciatic nerve can cause intense foot pain.
The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in your body and extends from your lumbar spine down to your foot. Pressure on the nerve in your lumbar spine can cause leg and/or foot pain. Most commonly there is both leg and foot pain, but in some cases foot pain is the only symptom.
The sciatic nerve is made up of two nerve roots – L5 and S1. When the primary nerve involved is S1 you are likely to experience pain on the sole of the foot. When the primary nerve root involved is L5 you may experience and heaviness or even a loss of function of the foot known as foot drop, where you struggle to lift the front part of your foot or it simply slaps the floor as you walk (some of you will remember hearing the noise when John Thaw walked as inspector Morse, he had a foot drop)
Sciatica is commonly caused by Lumbar Disc Herniation, Canal Stenosis, Spondlylolithesis, though there are other less common causes.
So what do you do about your pain? And how do you address the cause?
Most people will start off by getting over the counter pain relief and if that doesn’t work stronger medications from their Doctor.
To address the cause however, in many cases the function of the lumbar spine also needs to be addressed, and this one area a chiropractor can commonly help…
So if you’ve tried everything else and your foot pain is not going…. consider that is may come from your lumbar spine and get help.
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….
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……
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……
We all handle difficult events in different ways. This short video explains what you can do to improve your ability to handle the unexpected……
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.
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?
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.
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.
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