Healing from Back Pain - what's the best way?

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This is a question that I get asked quite often, it goes something along the lines of “I still have a bit of sciatica, it’s not massively painful but it wakes me at night sometimes and I don’t know what to do. What would you recommend?”

So I got asked this yesterday, and this is the answer I came up with…..

So pain tells you that something is wrong in your body. Something needs to change, because currently you’re getting messages from your body. The question is - do you need help or can you do it yourself?

What stops you from healing?

That’s what we all want to be able to do. We want a body that is resourceful enough that when we get injured, our body knows what to do and can heal from the injury.

Three questions:

  • Will this go away on it’s own?

  • If not - Can I do this on my own or do I need help?

  • And if I’m going to do it on my own, how do I increase my internal resources so that heal better?

There are three areas that I believe impact on our ability to heal. These are:

  • physical stresses/activities

  • nutritional status

  • mental status

1 Physical Stresses: include so many things. How much we sit, how much we move, any exercise program we do (or don’t do). The important thing to ask are:

  • Do my daily activities aggravate or support healing?

  • Do I need to do more exercise such as stretching, strength work, core work or cardio?

  • Do I need to do less?

If rest is the answer, most people will heal within a few weeks. If symptoms are still there, it’s probably not going to totally go away on it’s own

2 Chemical Stresses

Most people don’t know what I mean when I say this. What I’m talking about is a combination of the nutrition we take in or don’t take in (including foods and supplements) with respect to our bodies needs.

Many of us are deficient in nutrients, not because we eat a bad diet, but because so much of our food is nutrient deficient nowadays. To truly promote healing you need to put healthy fuel in your body. Whether you like it or not, “you are what you eat” rings true.

I find many people with chronic pain that is not healing need to up their anti-oxidants, increase fruit and veg, reduce/remove all processed foods from their diet (these are nearly always inflammatory in nature), reduce alcohol and/or caffeine and to drink more water. Some people improve hugely when they clean up their diet. It may be obvious to you what you are eating and it may be simple to change (though will power required).

3 Mental Status

Now I’m not talking psychiatric conditions here, if you think you have a mental illness you need to talk to a registered medical professional with expertise in this area. What I’m talking about it how you think, and how that impacts on your health.

Many people approach pain with the intention of getting rid of it, numbing it, ignoring it and often have a whole host of negative emotions around it. I believe that you need to listen to your pain, engage with it and work out what needs to change so that it can heal.

At a simple level the first thing that is important is to have goal that is bigger than your pain. For example most people want:

  • less pain

  • sleep without pain

  • sit without pain

  • to be able to do the things I was doing before the pain (yes they want to be exactly how they were just before the pain started)

If you set goals that make you grow and change, your body is usually far better at listening to you, for example:

  • I want to be able to run 3 miles

  • I want to increase my flexibility

  • I want to change my activity levels to support my health

  • I want to feel energized

Look at your internal dialogue. If all you’re saying is “please go away, I feel helpless, I don’t know what do it, why is it happening to me”, something needs to change.

Our SRI workshops can be an excellent starting point to connecting to your pain, finding internal healing resources you didn’t even know existed and reclaiming your personal power with respect to your healing.

And sometimes you can’t do this alone. You need the input from a good chiropractor or similar, who can work with you to get the results you want. If that’s you, give me a call or drop me an email. And if you already work with me, are you doing everything you can to support your body to heal?

Does your Phone Run Your Life?

We live in an age where most of us check our phones pretty constantly. And it can feel like an obsession….

So what can you do to reduce the appeal of your phone and bring you more into the real world.

  1. Turn off the Vibration
    A new syndrome called “Phantom" Vibration Syndrome” has been coined, in fact a 2012 study showed that 89% of students had experienced this. It’s though that this contributes to distractability so turn it off, then it can’t happen.

  2. Have Phone Rules
    You probably wouldn’t dream of leaving your phone if you were at a funeral, but you’d be surprised when people think it’s ok to answer a phone. I’ve seen people answer their phone during their chiropractic session, during a theatre visit and people (though I have no experience of this) are known to check their phones during moments of intimacy.
    Simple rules might include: turn it off during meals, when out with friends, never use it in the bedroom, or turn it off at 9pm. The use of technology is linked to poor sleep after all.

  3. Turn it to GreyScale
    Apparently this works like computer games. If it’s grey it’s less appealing to use. Go online and find out how to turn your device grey.

And if you’re still hooked to your phone and are starting to develop “Text Neck” or “Computer Neck”, make sure you get your spine checked regularly so that you aren’t storing up spinal problems for the future.

Reference: Comput.Human Behav, 2012; 28:1490-96

Why does Back Pain "come from no where"?

I’ve had this conversation a thousand times….. it goes something like this…

“Well I’ve had the odd grumble in my back before, but all I did was bend over to pick up the paper and BOOM my back went…it just doesn’t make sense”

What they did varies but this happens over and over and over.

So was really going on, and can this be applied to most people?

What shows up first?

When you actually get down to it, most people with rapid onset low back pain had plenty of warning signals. They often have a history of low grade back pain. They just hoped it would go away (because normally it does), or they were too busy with life to stop and rest or change the activities that were aggravating. Or sometimes, life just simply doesn’t allow us to stop.

If you examine the spines of most people you will find tension and areas of the spine that are either very tight or don’t move properly. Most people actually have areas in their spine that aren’t working to full capacity. So actually, spinal dysfunction often shows up way before the painful injury. But most people are aware of it to some degree in that they may feel a reduction in flexibility or certain things become harder to do, or they feel “stiff and old”. It’s very individual.

And what we tend to do with low grade irritation is we ignore it or take painkillers. We rarely see it as something that should be sorted out before it becomes a problem.

So what triggers the injury? What is the tipping point?

Many people with an acute injury have just gone through or are in the midst of multiple stresses in their life. It may be emotional such as illness or loss of a loved one. It may be work stress, with pressure to perform or earn. Or postural stress with a body not coping with hours at the computer or driving for too many hours. A poor diet lacking in vitamins and minerals can also be a stressor, as can obesity. Lack of exercise, over excising or the wrong kinds of exercise can also put inappropriate stresses on the spine.

So over time tension and dysfunction builds up in the spine. But we are amazingly good at adapting and some people will go for years without experiencing symptoms, and then BOOM!

So what can you do?

  1. Stop. Pay Attention. Listen to your Body.

  2. Find a healthcare professional, such as a chiropractor, who is an expert in the spine and can help you to heal from the injury, not simply mask the pain with drugs and hope it will go away. Because function is rarely restored without changing how your body works. And painkillers mask the problem, and may buy you time for the pain to reduce, but they rarely change the underlying pattern.
    Network Chiropractors not only help your body to release built up tension, but over time they can help you change how you respond and react to stresses so actually your capacity to handle stress can increase - something many of us need in the modern crazy world.

  3. Look at your lifestyle and ask - what can I do to promote healing in my body? You may need to look at diet and nutrition, exercise, stress triggers which may include things you can’t change.

So if you have the warning signals of spinal problems which include back pain, headaches, fatigue, stiffness and so much more, think about dealing with it before the crisis hits. And if the crisis has hit - call us now.

But we live in a culture where you look after your teeth, but only look after your spine when it screams loudly at you.

Getting your Brain Back Online - or How do you change unprofitable or addictive behaviours?

This is a topic that was discussed in a well known journal recently and here is an abbreviated version that may help a few of you look differently at your addictive behaviours and approach them in a different way….

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The part of the brain that deals with impulsive behaviour is the pre-frontal cortex. It’s located in your forehead and is responsible for what’s know as “executive function”. Or put in simple words, it’s responsible for self-regulation, organisation, planning, short term or working memory, strategising/planning and impulse control.

When we have poor impulse control it can be an indicator that this part of the brain is under-performing. It is however possible to exercise or train this part of the brain to work better.

A recent study in the Netherlands trained people over a month in executive function. To their surprise not only did executive function improve, but people spontaneously cut alcohol consumption by approx 10 glasses per week. The placebo group saw no change. The changes in both working memory and alcohol were still in place a month later.

One way of improving executive function is aerobic exercise. A 2013 review showed there was ample evidence to support this. As little as 3 hours per week of aerobic exercise improved the areas of the brain associated with executive function compared to a control group that did flexibility exercises only.

If you go online you can easily find apps that will boost your executive function. Examples include:

  • Luminosity

  • Elevate

  • Mensa training

  • Memorado

So whether exercise appeals or training your brain or both, there is plenty you can do to curb impulsive behaviour.

Refs:

PsycholSci 2011; 22:968-75
PsycholBullRev: 2013;20:73-86

The Network Wave of Healing

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?

Sleep, why it matters and an interesting tip to help you get to sleep faster..

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

  • heart disease

  • weight gain – yes weight gain!

  • weight loss – ironically…

  • increased risk of cancer and diabetes

  • lower immune system function

  • constipation and diarrhea

  • blurred vision

  • tension headaches

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

  • Depression

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? 

  1. 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

  2. Hide your clock

  3. Cool your room – our temperature drops when we sleep, a cooler room supports this

  4. Have a warm shower, before going into your cooler bedroom

  5. Wear socks – a study showed that warm hands and feet were a predictor of being able to fall asleep

  6. Immerse your face in ice cold water – triggers the Mamalian Dive Reflex lowering heart rate and blood pressure, soothing your system

  7. Scent your bedroom with lavender

  8. Listen to classical music for around 45 mins

  9. Avoid watching television or using electronic devices in the hour before bedtime

  10. Try the 4,7,8 method – championed by Dr. Andrew Weil (see below)

“4,7,8” Method

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:

  1. 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.

  2. Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound.

  3. Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four.

  4. Hold your breath for a count of seven.

  5. Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of eight.

  6. 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…

The Benefits of Paying Attention

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.

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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.

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Modern Medicine has few answers to Low Back Pain – so what do you do?

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

When is the pain in your foot something to do with your back?

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?

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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.


How to Get Better Faster?

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:

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  • 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….

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……

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……

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

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.

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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.

4 Things You Should Know About Chronic Back Pain

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.

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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

3 Things You can do Today to Improve Chronic Back Pain

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.

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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