Cervical Spondylosis

The part of the spine that makes up the neck is called the Cervical Spine and spondylosis is a different word for wear and tear, which is sometimes also referred to as osteoarthritis. Cervical spondylosis therefore translates into: wear and tear of the neck.

The neck is made up of 7 vertebrae (bones) stacked up on top of each other with the disc sitting in the gaps between them. The discs act as a shock absorbers between the bones in the neck. In cervical disk degeneration (which typically occurs in people age 40 years and older), the normal gelatin-like centre of the disc degenerates and the space between the vertebrae gets smaller. As the disc space narrows, added stress is applied to the joints of the spine causing further wear and degenerative disease. Also the edges of the vertebrae often develop small, rough areas of bone called osteophytes.

In many people, the degeneration does not cause any symptoms other than reduced range of motion/stiffness. For example, routine X-rays of the neck will show these features (osteophytes and disc thinning) in many people who do not have any symptoms.

However, some people experience a constant nagging kind of pain in the neck while others get severe sharp shooting pain from the associated nearby muscles, ligaments, or nerves. In severe cases, the degeneration may cause irritation or pressure on the spinal nerve roots which can give rise to severe arm pain, tingling and even numbness. Occasionally irritation to the spinal cord can also occur.

Chiropractic Care treats the underlying cause of the pain, not just the pain itself (like painkillers). Chiropractors are trained to relieve the pain, improve joint function and reduce muscle spasm through natural therapies, such as chiropractic manipulation or mobilisation, trigger-point therapy, stretching or some massage techniques. We will also help you choose the exercises that are best for you, give you ergonomic advice and we may recommend supplements for your joints and general well-being.

Thoracic spine – upper and mid back and rib cage

The thoracic spine makes up the upper and middle back and consists of twelve vertebrae or bones, which are numbered T1-T12 and has a normal kyphosis or c-shaped curve. The top of the thoracic spine attaches to the bottom of the cervical spine (base of the neck) and the bottom of the thoracic spine joins to the lumbar vertebrae, the part of the spine making up the lower back. The intervertebral discs in the thoracic spine are thinner than those in the cervical and lumbar spine, adding to the inflexibility of this portion of the spine.

The thoracic vertebrae are distinguished by the presence of attachment areas on the sides of the bodies for the heads of the ribs. These joints between the vertebrae and the ribs are called the costovertebral joints and the 12 thoracic vertebrae with one rib attached on each side create the thoracic cage or rib cage. The function of the thoracic cage is to protect the internal organs of the chest, especially the heart and lungs.

The thoracic spine is less mobile than the cervical and lumbar spine because of the thoracic cage and the thoracic vertebrae are designed for flexibility, stability and power. In conjunction with the ribs they protect the important organs in the chest and help the body stand upright and although the ribs attached to T11 and T12 don’t attach to the chest wall, they still serve the purpose of protecting the kidneys.

Conditions often associated with the thoracic spine that we treat include:

  • Upper back pain
  • Mid back pain
  • Poor chest expansion on a deep breath
  • Rib pain
  • Rib pain with pain radiating around to the front of ribcage
  • Pulled muscle and muscle tension

Is the messenger bag or man bag straining your back?

These days the man bag is the ultimate symbol of a modern metrosexual and often seen sported by high profile men like David Beckham and Brad Pitt. It may, however be a quick way to land yourself some back pain and bad posture………..

As far back as 2011, the British Chiropractic Association identified the rise of the man bag and the possible consequences for men’s backs and posture. A recent survey carried out showed that about 60 % of men were carrying some sort of man bag.

The trouble is, that a bag full of the average contents: Smartphone, laptop or tablet, glasses, a bottle of water and a book/magazine can make the bag very heavy; weighing as much as 6kg – the equivalent of over 12 bags of sugar!!!!

Whether it is a traditional over-the-shoulder laptop case or messenger bag; that amount of weight on one shoulder, for an extended duration, from a commute to and from work will start to cause discomfort in the majority of people.

When carrying a bag, the head and neck naturally leans in the opposite direction to help offset the weight. The shoulder carrying the bag is elevated and rotated and the spine is made to curve toward the shoulder. This creates tension on the side of the neck and upper back with the load and compression of the joints on the other side. The end result may be back and shoulder pain from the prolonged stress and over time it will often impact posture.

Advice for men carrying bags:-

  1. Alternate between both shoulders if you carry an over-the-shoulder style bag so the weight and pressure is distributed equally between them. It is also advisable to keep the strap as short as possible.
  2. A rucksack design laptop case is best if you carry a laptop. Carry it on both shoulders and adjust the straps so that the bag is held close to your back.
  3. Avoid long periods of being in one position, move around regularly and stretch and exercise your back muscles regularly.
  4. Ensure you take regular breaks to avoid tiring yourself out too soon, as fatigued muscles don’t support and hold the spine correctly.
  5. Keep it as light as possible and only pack what you need.

Text Neck….?

What Is Text Neck?

Text neck is an increasingly common problem caused by spending too much time looking down at your digital devices. It is characterised by pain in your head, neck, shoulder blades, or upper back due to the strain of holding your head in an awkward position for long periods of time. The symptoms may include headaches, shoulder stiffness and tension, upper back pain, and even tingling sensations in the arms or hands.

It is estimated that on average individuals spend over two and a half hours a day looking down at mobile devices. This persistent forward flexion of the neck results in alterations to the natural curve of the cervical spine (cervical relates to the vertebrae of the neck), the ligaments that surround the joints in the neck, and the muscles and
tendons. This all affects the individual’s posture and the extra stresses start to be experienced as pain in the neck, upper back, shoulders, and even into the arms and hands. Many people may also experience headaches or at times even migraines as a result of stress on the neck.

If these initial signs are ignored, text neck can potentially lead to much more serious and lasting damage. The joints and muscles will be more prone to common and painful strains and sprains, and spinal misalignments. Furthermore, joints under constant stress become dysfunctional and are more prone to wear and tear, this in
turn can lead to early wear and tear (aka osteoarthritis) which can become quite debilitating. In other cases there will be pain, tingling, numbness and weakness in the arms and hands as a result of cervical disc herniations, which can be extremely painful, and in the worst cases can cause permanent nerve damage.

Text neck and the forward head posture associated with it, does not only affect the spine, it can also result in diminished vital capacity of the lungs by up to thirty percent! I t is quite clear to see the health implications of our technology lead lifestyles, but what can be done to help prevent these problems from occurring? Firstly, we should all consider spending less time on mobile phones and other handheld devices but also if we make a conscious effort to bring the mobile phone up to eye level rather than bringing the head down will make a big, big difference.

Chiropractic treatment can help relieve the symptoms of text neck by realigning the spine to reduce pressure on the joints and nerves. Additionally, chiropractors will often recommend lifestyle modifications such as posture exercises to correct poor posture habits that contribute to text neck. These exercises are designed to strengthen weak muscles while restoring proper alignment of the spine. By strengthening these muscles through exercise and
stretching they will be better able to support the head when you use digital devices or engage in other activities that cause you to look downward for long periods of time. You may also be advised to take frequent breaks while using digital devices to give your body a chance to recover from any strain it has been subjected too and to
make slight changes to the way you sit while using tech.

In short: Your chiropractor will be able to give you a thorough examination and perform specific spinal manipulations, mobilisations, and soft tissue work to the affected areas to reduce stresses and strains on the joints and musculature and restore normal function. We will also be able to recommend case specific exercises, ergonomic and lifestyle advice that will all help to improve your posture and overall health.

Don’t delay – get your posture checked out to avoid future tech-related problems!!

More than 50% of population in UK deficient in Vitamin D. Are You?

Vitamin D is fast becoming known as a ‘super-nutrient’. No longer just an important nutrient for healthy teeth and bones, research is now finding that long term deficiency of Vitamin D can be linked to a wide range of health problems.

Vitamin D has a remarkable role to play in your health, influencing nearly 3,000 of your 25,000 genes, and playing a critical role in your immune response. Long term deficiency may be linked with diseases ranging from cancer and cardiovascular disease to cognitive impairment, depression and problems with auto-immunity such as multiple sclerosis and type1 diabetes.

Many people don’t realise that very few foods naturally contain vitamin D. Fortified milk, egg yolks and oily fish are the best sources, but we certainly cannot rely on food to provide us with optimal amounts of vitamin D on a daily basis unless we all eat a few servings of oily fish every day!

Vitamin D is sometimes referred to as the “sunshine vitamin” because it’s produced in your skin in response to sunlight and really sunshine is (or supposed to be) our main source. It is produced as a pro-hormone in your skin after sunlight exposure, and is then converted to the potent hormone form D3.

So what happens if you combine living in a country that gets very few sunshine hours with the modern lifestyle………?? Perhaps most worrying is the resurgence of rickets, a bone disease caused by serious vitamin D deficiency which is now being diagnosed in hundreds of young children every year. But vitamin D deficiency is also increasingly being identified in the elderly.

Many lifestyle and environmental factors can affect your ability to get sufficient amounts of this vitamin through the sun alone and contribute to vitamin D deficiency in an increasing number of people. They include; pollution, use of sunscreen, spending more time indoors, working longer hours in offices, living in big cities where buildings block sunlight and travelling in cars. In addition to this in more recent years, skin cancer scares have further minimised sun exposure for all ages, especially for children. The recommended liberal use of high factor sunscreen has had additional negative impacts on the skin’s natural vitamin D production process. Before the sun scare, 90% of human vitamin D stores came from skin production not dietary sources.

When you look at how our lifestyles have evolved to cut out the sun’s contact with our skin, it is easy to see why we now have such epidemic proportions of vitamin D deficiency and why taking vitamin D3 supplements may just be a very good idea. Supplements should contain vitamin D in the form of vitamin D3 (Cholecalciferol), since this is the form naturally produced by the skin upon exposure to sunlight and data has shown this is the most efficient form at increasing serum vitamin D levels

There has been some controversy over the amount of vitamin D needed for healthy functioning. Recent research indicates that we need more vitamin D than was once thought. Some sources suggest that considerably higher doses than the Daily Recommended Allowance (RDA) are needed and it has been suggested that the RDA is only just what is needed to prevent rickets (!) let alone other things. Some sources recommend daily amounts of vitamin D as high as 2000 IU per day, higher for a while if you are already deficient.

It is worth mentioning that people over the age of 50 generally need a higher amount of vitamin D than younger people do as do people with darker skin.

Although the exact amount may be in question, the importance of vitamin D is not!

Pregnancy Related Pain

Many women experience pain and discomfort during pregnancy due to the extra stresses placed on the body, however for some it can become extremely painful and debilitating.Chiropractic care is often recommended for women during pregnancy as it can help to reduce the stresses and strains on the joints and muscles thereby reducing pain. It is a gentle, safe form of treatment and most importantly drug-free.

Many postural changes take place during pregnancy which can cause an increased occurrence of pelvis and spinal joint misalignments and dysfunction. Furthermore the body also releases a hormone called relaxin which softens the ligaments to allow the baby to pass through the birth canal more easily. As a result of this all the joints of the body move more during pregnancy and can therefore become more easily misaligned.

Pregnancy related pain can be experienced in the upper and lower back, hips, groin, legs, or pelvis. It is often low down at the front of the pelvis between the legs and radiating down the inner thighs. The pain may be one sided and may seem to move from side to side. It may also be felt into the buttocks and the legs might feel weak, or there may be a sensation of grinding or clicking over the pubic bones. The pain is often increased by walking, going up or down stairs, turning in bed, or parting the legs.

Pregnancy related pain in the lower back or pelvis is commonly known as pelvic girdle pain (PGP). PGP can occur at any time during pregnancy and even after the baby is born. Due to the increased weight gain and change to the woman’s centre of gravity and posture during pregnancy it is also common to experience pain across the upper back, and into the neck and shoulders.

Chiropractic treatment is great for women during and after pregnancy. It involves gentle spinal adjustive procedures to keep the spine free from misalignments,the joints nice and flexible and the muscles relaxed. This reduces the stresses that lead to pain and it helps to keep the tissues working optimally.

Research has shown that some women who receive chiropractic care through their pregnancy may experience shorter labour times, reduced complications during birth, and a faster recovery.

Handbags Can be a Pain in the Neck

Handbags can be a pain in the neck……literally!

Today’s society is extremely fashion and style conscious but looking your best might not always be the best thing for you……. In fact oversized bags may be very cool, but very heavy, and really bad for your back… your shoulders… your neck and they pose a risk to posture and could potentially cause or contribute to back problems.

Carrying large handbags around is one of the biggest culprits for chronic injuries in today’s women, and it’s no surprise why. When a bag is stuffed full with mobile phone, iPad, umbrella, diary, make-up, a book, a bottle of water it is not uncommon to find women toting around bags weighing more than 10-15 pounds!

When carrying a bag, the head and neck naturally leans in the opposite direction to help offset the weight. The shoulder carrying the bag is elevated and rotated and the spine is made to curve toward the shoulder. This creates tension on the side of the neck and upper back with the load and compression of the joints on the other side.

The muscles supporting the spine, shoulder and upper back have to work really hard and will eventually tire and spasm. Fatigued muscles don’t support and hold the spine correctly and poor posture can develop which can cause overloading of the spinal joints and it even puts stress on the bundle of nerves that travel from the neck down the arm (the brachial plexus). Over time, the joints of the spine wear and this can lead to premature arthritis.

The associated neck/back problem can manifest itself as chronic neck pain or blow up into an acute episode of neck spasm. Usually there is the complaint of a nagging ache that runs down the neck, across the top of the shoulder blade or even down between the shoulder blades. At time irritation of the spinal nerves give rise to arm pain as well and even tension headaches.

Essential Hand Bag Advice:

The lighter you keep your bag the better, especially if you have to carry it about all day. Take the time to empty unnecessary items from your bag and switch sides frequently to avoid placing the burden of the weight on one side of your body.

Select a handbag or briefcase with a wide and long adjustable strap so you can wear it close to you with the strap over one shoulder and the bag or case under the other arm.
Remember to keep your shoulders relaxed. This is slightly better as it distributes the bulk of the weight across the body.

However something like a rucksack carried on both shoulders and the straps adjusted so that the bag is held close to your back is always best. It distributes the weight more evenly across the back and therefore puts a lot less strain on the body. And you can get some trendy ones these days!!!

Chiropractic Treatment of Babies and Children

Chiropractic treatment can be a great relief for babies. It is gentle and safe and helps relieve stress and tension in the joints and relax muscles.

If babies have experienced a difficult or assisted delivery during labour it can cause stiffness or misalignments of the spinal joints which can be uncomfortable for them.

Babies may cry when they are laid down, or in their car seats as there is pressure on the spine and back muscles, or they may lie with their heads consistently turned in one direction. These can be signs that they are feeling pain.

As children become older they are prone to accidents, bumps and falls which can cause joints to become strained just as it can to adults. Also rapid growth spurts, carrying heavy school bags, and poor posture can put stain on the spine and result in muscle spasm, restricted movement in the spinal joints and cause pain.

Chiropractic treatment can be very effective as it restores normal function and movement to the joints, reduces pain naturally and allows the body to correct/heal itself. It may also be beneficial for the growth and development of babies and children if any spinal joint restriction or muscle spasm is dealt with early on.

Pulled Muscle

Chiropractors deal with two common myths surrounding pulled muscles every day. The first is that all pulled muscle conditions will quickly go away by themselves. The second is that treating pulled muscles is the exclusive domain of the physiotherapist. Let’s take a moment to correct both.

 While it’s true that some pulled muscles will heal on their own within 2-3 days days or so, that’s not always the case. When a pulled muscle is in the spine, it may take much longer to heal and, in some cases, not even present noticeable pain during the later stages of healing. Re-injury may therefore be very possible as a result.

 For purposes of clarity, a pulled muscle is one that involuntarily contracts as a result of injury or overuse. Muscle injury can be caused by a single traumatic event, such as improper lifting of a heavy object, or through repetitive stresses, such as sitting in an awkward position with poor spinal posture for an extended period of time. In either case, injured tissues undergo physical and chemical changes that can cause inflammation, pain and muscle spasm.

The contraction of the spinal muscle pulls on the nearby joints, forcing the joint surfaces together to cause discomfort. A pulled muscle in the spine can therefore cause restriction of joint mobility and at times nerve irritation to the point of being debilitating.

Chiropractors are some of the most qualified to treat muscle and joint problems in the back and neck.

This brings us to our second myth regarding physiotherapy being the only treatment. A chiropractor is a highly trained specialist who understands the human musculoskeletal system (muscle, bone, joint) very, very well.

Chiropractors are able to diagnose musculoskeletal problems and have broad diagnostic skills. They are also trained to recommend therapeutic and rehabilitative exercises, as well as providing nutritional, dietary and lifestyle advice.

A chiropractor is capable of treating pulled muscles and joint problems through a number of techniques, including manipulation, stretching, trigger points and massage that will promote healing, restore joint mobility and relax the tight and sore muscles.

Chiropractors can treat muscle pulls in the neck, shoulders, arms, and legs as well as well as the spine.

Plantar Fasciitis

An inflammation of the big band of tissue called the plantar fascia. This ligament runs under the foot connecting the heel bone with the bones of the foot. It supports the arch of the foot and functions as a shock absorber.It is the most common cause of heel pain but you may also feel pain in other areas along the ligamentous band.

Symptoms of plantar fasciitis include a burning or aching pain first thing in the morning which may, or may not, start to feel better as the day progresses. The pain is typically felt near the back of the foot where the plantar fascia tendon connects to the heel bone. Sometimes the pain runs along the entire foot, increasing in severity with walking or standing.The pain can be completely debilitating for weeks or months at a time and the condition can make walking and standing very unpleasant. Some people may limp or develop an abnormal walking style as they try to avoid placing weight on the affected heel.The pain is usually worse first thing in the morning, or when you first take a step after a period of inactivity. After walking the pain usually improves, but often gets worse again after walking or standing for a long time. It is often described as stepping on a piece of glass.

The specific cause of plantar fasciitis is different among individual patients. In some people it is the result of an injury caused by jumping, running, or performing repetitive movements that put undue stress on the plantar fascia. Other times it might be the result of tightness in the calf muscles, an arthritic condition, or wearing poor quality shoes.

Plantar fasciitis is particularly common in runners. In addition, people who are overweight, women who are pregnant and those who wear shoes with inadequate support are at risk of plantar fasciitis. Common treatments of plantar fasciitis involve icing the area and taking anti-inflammatories to reduce swelling as well as avoiding standing/walking for long periods of time. When chiropractic treatment is involved, it is used to realign the joints of the feet and lower back and to keep muscles and tendons as loose as possible in order to promote healing.

A chiropractor may sometimes recommend orthotics designed to help relieve pain and prevent future injury or recommend good-fitting shoes that support and cushion your foot. Regular stretching exercises to the calf muscles and the plantar fascia will also routinely be prescribed.