Gardening and Your Back

We have seen quite a few clients recently who have hurt themselves whilst gardening. It can be quite a strenuous activity so warming up your body beforehand by rotating your arms forwards and backwards, doing some light squats and reaching down for your toes is a good start. At the end, do some gentle to moderate stretching to loosen up your muscles and minimise pain the next day. 

Gardening tip: If you are using a mattock, make sure you aren't using your back to bring you back up to the starting position, use your Glutes (butt muscles). Using your back to generate the movement is a great way to strain a muscle or sprain a joint.

If you experience back pain whilst gardening, please reply to this email or book online, as we can help you.

Back Pain After a Sleep In

How much time do you spend in bed each night? Does your back hurt after you treat yourself to a sleep in on the weekend? Did you know that night time is when your spinal discs rehydrate and renourish themselves? You're taller in the morning due to this and throughout the day your spinal discs become dehydrated so you're shorter at night. 

The ideal amount of time required to rehydrate and re-nourish your spinal discs at night is 8 hours of bed rest. Less than 8 hours means your spine doesn't receive enough inflow to get adequate nutrition. Any more than this and your discs continue to swell and can become damaged under stress. Both too much or too little predisposes you to pain and spinal injury.

Gut Health

Just a quick one this time. The type of bacteria in your gut can influence your mood. You can change the type of bacteria in your gut by making smart, healthy food choices. It has been shown that positivity improves one's decision-making skills. If you would like more information about this, check out this video.

If you have any questions regarding your gut health, please do contact us to see if we can help you out.

How Long Will It Take? 

My colleague, Dr Jerry Kennedy, wrote this great article on a common patient question and frustration. He did a great job in answering it.

One of the most common questions that patients ask their chiropractor is, “How long will it take?” Some people ask because their #1 concern is that the chiropractor is never going to let them go. Maybe they have heard the “once you go you always have to go” myth that some people say about chiropractors. If that’s you, I have good news. It’s not true. Your chiropractor isn’t ever going to hold you hostage. That’s not the reason that most people ask that question. The majority of people who ask, “How long will it take?” are asking because they are in pain or in some way hampered, and they would like to get back to normal as soon as possible. That makes perfect sense. If patients had their way, they would get better instantly. I jokingly refer to that concept as patients wanting a “Jesus visit.” That’s when they go into their chiropractor’s office, get an adjustment, and are instantly better. Healed! Unfortunately, it doesn’t usually work that way. Sure, there is the occasional exception to the rule, but for the most part, your body takes time to heal. It’s also important to note that healing and feeling are not the same things. There are times when a medication or a treatment can help your body feel better quickly, but that doesn’t mean it has healed yet. If your pain/problem comes back as soon as the medicine wears off, your body hasn’t yet fully healed. The same is true of treatment. If your pain/problem comes back a few days after your treatment, your body hasn’t yet fully healed. That doesn’t necessarily mean the medicine/ treatment isn’t working. It could just be the difference between feeling and healing. So that brings us back to our original question, “How long will it take?” Unfortunately, there isn’t an exact answer. It depends on the problem. It depends on the person. There are a lot of factors at work. It’s an oversimplification, but I used to tell my patients that 5 factors would determine how long it would take their body to heal.

First - how old are you? That’s an easy one. Younger people heal faster than older people. The older you get, the more you realize how true that is.

Second - how bad is the problem? Not all health problems are the same degree of severity. Let’s use a sprained ankle as an example. On one end of the spectrum, you could have a minor sprain that heals up in 24 hrs. No big deal. On the other end, you could have a major sprain that requires many weeks of rest and therapy to heal. As a general rule, the more severe a health problem is the longer it takes to heal.

Third - how long have you had the problem? Just to clarify, that’s not necessarily the same thing as how long you have felt bad. It’s possible to have a health problem much longer than you have felt bad. Arthritis is a great example. Most people who have arthritis will have it for years before they ever have any pain. As a general rule, the longer you have had a health problem the longer it will take to heal.

Fourth - where is the problem? You may not know this, but different parts of the body heal at different rates. Muscles heal faster than ligaments. Ligaments heal faster than bone. Even the different joints of the body heal at different rates. An injury to your elbow is likely to heal much faster than an injury to a more complex joint like your shoulder.

Fifth - are you (the patient) willing to do your part? Healing not only takes time but it also takes participation. Sometimes rest is required. That means the patient has to be willing to slow down or stop. Sometimes nutritional changes are required. That means the patient needs to add something or remove something from their diet to help their body heal. Sometimes stretching or strengthening is required to help heal an injury. Ultimately, a patient who is willing to do their part to help their body heal will heal faster than a patient who doesn’t.

So when you ask your chiropractor the question, “How long will it take?” often you won’t get a specific answer. Don’t worry…they aren’t avoiding the question just for the sake of avoiding the question. It’s a difficult question to answer because the answer is different for every person. More often than not, chiropractors will take the information that you have given them, and use their clinical experience to give you a timeframe. It’s not set in stone. You may do better than expected and heal faster. You may do worse than expected and heal more slowly. Everyone is different. What does all this mean for you? Well, it means a couple things.

First, it’s important that you understand that healing takes time. If you expect your body to heal instantly, you may quit doing the exact things you should be doing because you aren’t willing to give them the proper amount of time.

Second, it’s important that you have open communication between you and your healthcare providers. You should be able to ask questions and express concerns. They should be able to let you know what you are doing right and what you are doing wrong. When you and your healthcare providers work together as a team, you are more likely to get positive results faster.

Lastly, it’s important that you do your part. Patients who participate in their care heal much faster than those who don’t. Stretch when it’s time to stretch. Go to your chiropractic appointment when it’s time to go to your appointment. Do your exercises when it’s time to do your exercises. Rest when it’s time to rest. The bottom line is this…everyone is different. How long it takes your body to heal is going to be different than how long it takes my body to heal. If you want to heal as quickly as possible and get back to normal, you have to be patient and you have to participate in the process. You can do it!

If you are ready to have your back pain resolved, please contact us or call 8096 6781.

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