Neck Strain

There is a good chance it is coming from your 'Forward Head Posture' (FHP).

Your head should sit directly on top of the neck and shoulders. Imagine a bowling ball sitting on top of a vacuum cleaner pipe.  If the bowling ball rolls forward it is putting enormous pressure on the vacuum cleaner pipe, as in the case of FHP.  The neck and shoulder muscles become very tense and tight leading to tension and pain.  It can also cause disc problems and other arthritic problems in the neck. Other issues it can lead to are: headaches, back, neck, arm and hand pain and tingling.  It can also cause problems with one’s bite and jaw pain. FHP alters the body’s ability to control your balance leading to a greater risk of injuring yourself.
 
Causes:
It is usually from being sedentary and spending most of your time sitting down and/or slouching e.g. driving a car, work, watching tv and using a computer, and backpacks.  It is the repetitive nature of these activities that causes it.
 
How do I know if I have FHP?
Have someone look at you side on.  The middle of the ear hole should be in a straight line up from the centre of the shoulder.  If this is not the case, please consult your Chiropractor as it can cause spine and nerve damage. 
 
How can I prevent or manage it?

  • Consult a Chiropractor as it may be possible to improve it through corrective treatment
  • Correct work station set up 
  • Every 20-30minutes take a mini-stretch break or stand up
  • Use a low back support in your car and at your workstation
  • When wearing a backpack keep both straps on your shoulders and close against your back.  It should not weigh more than 10-15% of your body weight

If you would like help with your forward head posture please contact us or book online to so our chiropractors and massage therapist can help you to start feeling better.

Sciatica

Sciatica describes symptoms of buttock and leg pain. This sometimes includes tingling, numbness or weakness. It originates in the lower back and travels through the buttock and down the large sciatic nerve in the back of each leg.

Common lower back problems that can cause sciatica symptoms include a lumbar herniated disc, degenerative disc disease (caused by osteoarthritis), spondylolisthesis, or spinal stenosis (caused by osteoarthritis). Sciatica isn't an actual diagnosis, it's just referring to the symptoms.  Often people refer to their back or leg pain as sciatica but if your pain isn't going below your knee, it's unlikely to be caused by your sciatic nerve, even if it's a really sharp pain. 

Sciatica Nerve Pain Characteristics

It may comprise of one or more of the following:

  • Constant pain or pain brought on by certain movements in only one side of the buttock or leg (rarely in both legs)
  • Pain that is worse when sitting, coughing, sneezing or going to the toilet 
  • Leg pain that is often described as burning, tingling, or searing as opposed to a dull ache
  • Weakness, numbness or difficulty moving the leg, foot, and/or toes
  • A sharp pain that may make it difficult to stand up or walk and pain getting in and out of a chair
  • Pain that radiates down the leg and possibly into the foot and toes 

Sciatic pain may range from being mild and occurring infrequently to excruciating and debilitating. In rare and extreme cases, where the pain is caused by a disc herniation, it may cause a condition called cauda equina syndrome which can result in a loss of bowel, bladder and sexual dysfunction. This is a medical emergency.

The Sciatic Nerve and Sciatica

The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the human body and is made up of 5 individual nerve roots which exit from the Lumbar spine (lower back). Sciatica symptoms occur when the large sciatic nerve is irritated or compressed at or near its point of origin.

If you're experiencing sciatica symptoms please contact us as our chiropractors can help you out. 


How is it diagnosed

Your chiropractor will take a thorough history to determine when and how the injury occurred as well as what aggravates and alleviates it. You will be taken through a series of tests including orthopaedic and neurological testing and muscular strength test providing it doesn't increase your pain. You may also have X-rays taken to check for any slippage of a vertebra, osteoarthritis, disc narrowing and the amount of curvature in your spine. 

Treatment

Bed rest isn't a good idea unless you just can't get out of bed and try to minimise it to a few days. Try to move as much as your pain will allow you to as it will help you to heal faster. Try bending forwards, backwards, side to side and rotating only in a comfortable range.

Spinal manipulation has been shown to help reduce pain (1). This in combination with exercises specifically prescribed for you will help you recover faster. 

If needed, take pain killers to help you tolerate your severe pain and get adequate rest. Don't over do it just because you can't feel the pain anymore as you may cause further injury. Heat packs can also help to manage the pain.

Surgery is a last resort and most cases can be managed with conservative chiropractic care. 

Our chiropractors have had extensive experience in dealing with clients who have sciatica. If you would like help with this please contact us or book in online.

(1) https://nccih.nih.gov/health/pain/spinemanipulation.htm#science

Fuel For Your Back

Your back pain isn't only affected by what you do or don't do throughout the day but also by what you eat. 

What you eat affects your back pain and body composition. Your body is like a car's engine, if you fuel it with e-10 and it needs 95 or 98 octane fuel, don't get upset when it doesn't give you the output you want. Research shows that a plant-based diet is best to help reduce pain and inflammation. Whilst a purely plant based diet makes it harder to get in enough protein and you may be sad to not eat meat, the Mediterranean diet is a happy medium.

If you would like to know more about fuelling your body properly to reduce pain please contact us or book in online to start feeling better today as our chiropractors love being able to help.

How Do I Strengthen My Back?

If you really want to make headway in regards to getting a stronger back to reduce pain and tension, you need to address the weak muscles and areas that aren't moving properly in your body. To obtain your best results you need to be assessed for these imbalances. Our chiropractors, are able to examine you and provide an appropriate strength and mobility rehab program tailored for your body.

If you don't have pain but you find your hamstrings and hip flexors or side of neck/shoulder muscles are always tight regardless of how much you stretch, you need to be assessed for weak areas because tight muscles aren't the root of your problem, they are a symptom of it. Stretching helps but only to a certain extent.

If you are ready to take this step please contact us or book in online to start feeling better.

If you aren't ready to take the step of coming in for a proper assessment to determine specific areas you need to work on, try these exercises at home. If you experience any pain with these exercises, please stop doing them and book in for an assessment with one of our chiropractors.

Alcohol and Sleep

Ever felt sleepy after consuming alcohol? Alcohol doesn't help you to sleep, it actually sedates you. Similar to a light anaesthesia. It breaks up your sleep because it causes you to wake up many times for a short period, you just don't remember it.

It also suppresses REM sleep. This is when we dream and if we suffer from lack of REM sleep it impairs our ability to learn complex tasks. (1) Even moderate consumption of alcohol in the afternoon and evening can impair this.

Consuming alcohol before bed can affect your ability to form new memories, not only for any that day but for several days prior as well. This is from research where test subjects were given 2-3 shots of vodka (This is the equivalent to 2-3 standard glasses of wine or beer)
after learning new information. Those that drank alcohol retained the least amount of information when retested 7 days later, followed by those who drank 2-3 days after learning the new material and those who didn't drink at all remembered all of the new information. (2)

Any amount of alcohol appears to affect one's sleep quality. Sounds like a couple of alcohol free days per week is good advice.

If you have any questions regarding this or would like help with your back pain. Please contact us as our chiropractors would love to help you out.

(1) https://www.howsleepworks.com/types_rem.html

(2) 'Why We Sleep: The New Science of Sleep and Dreams', Matthew Walker

Dead Butt Syndrome

Chiros see this constantly and it is also called gluteal amnesia. It's mainly because most of us sit all the time. We drive to work or sit on the bus/train, sit at work, drive or catch public transport home then sit in front of the tv or read. We might throw in a walk or a gym session but that isn't enough to undo the number of hours we have spent on our bottom.

When we sit down our glute (bottom) muscles need to relax in order for us to maintain that posture. Our hip flexors (muscles at the front of our legs) are switched 'on' and they often stay that way when we stand up. 
 

 Lower limb muscles

Lower limb muscles


How can I tell if I have a 'dead butt'?

  • Flat/saggy butt
  • Tight hamstrings, lower back or hip flexors
  • Lower back pain

Why is it a bad thing?

If your glutes don't work, then your lower back and hamstrings (muscles at the back of your legs) need to work overtime to compensate which is why they get tight and often don't loosen up regardless of how much stretching you do.

What can be done about it?

Work it, baby! but even if you do glute exercises, these muscles may not even switch on because in a way your brain may have forgotten about them. That is where chiropractors can help as we work on the spine which influences the nerves and causes our brain and glutes to communicate again.  Also, all of our practitioners are able to check you have the correct form when doing exercises.

Some great exercises for it are clams and hip hinges, both pictured below. Glute bridges usually have too much hamstring activation, if our glutes have switched off so don't go nuts thinking you are firming up your bottom because most likely you aren't.

    Clam exercise: make sure your hips/lower back don't roll backwards

 

Clam exercise: make sure your hips/lower back don't roll backwards

 Hip hinge: keep your weight over your heels and evenly between both feet

Hip hinge: keep your weight over your heels and evenly between both feet

If you think this might be stopping you from being more active or pain-free please book online or email us as our North Ryde chiropractor and remedial massage therapist love helping you out.