Osteopathy as an alternative to steroid injections

shutterstock_227707180We recently received some wonderful feedback from patients of our practice founder and osteopath Ami Sevi. His treatments had eased the pain these two women had been feeling so much that they had decided against the cortisone injections other health professionals had recommended to them.

In this blog post we take a look at cortisone injections and how osteopathy offers an alternative to patients like Michelle and Uzma.

Firstly, the testimonials:

Michelle Mulholland was delighted that one treatment with Ami had reduced her lower back pain so dramatically that her surgeon had changed his mind about recommending her for a cortisone injection.

Michelle said:

“I was booked in for a cortisone injection after months of physiotherapy with a very well respected therapist in London had failed to improve my lower back pain. Luckily I was visiting friends in Yorkshire and after some research found Amittai Sevi at Good Health Centre. From the moment I walked in I felt better cared for than I had previously, and after just one session with Amittai my pain reduced by 90%. I was so much better that my surgeon advised against the injection and told me to just keep doing whatever I’d done!

“Such a shame I am emigrating abroad as finding an osteopath like Amittai is no easy task! I have no doubt that if I could see him again he would eliminate my pain all together.”

Uzma Akhtar had a series of treatments with Ami for a shoulder problem that was making it very difficult to get on with her everyday life, including looking after her family.

Uzma said:

“How appreciative I am that you have got me to my normal state! I came to you after suffering for nearly three months with tendonitis which was developing into a frozen shoulder. I couldn’t look after my young boys or even get dressed without being in agony.

“Following my first session with Ami I felt some flexibility return and less pain. I couldn’t believe what an improvement it made. After a further four sessions with Ami I have gained more than 90% movement back in my shoulder and arm. I can’t thank you enough for treating me and making me better so quickly – now I am able to take care of my young family.

“I was told by a physiotherapist, three different GPs and an ultrasound scan that I most definitely needed a steroid injection. Due to Ami’s treatment I no longer require it!”

So what are cortisone injections?

Cortisone injections are steroid injections used for their anti-inflammatory and pain relieving properties. They contain corticosteroid medication plus a local anaesthetic and are injected into the site of the pain, often joints but also muscles and surrounding tissues. Generally fast-acting, they provide relief for periods of six weeks up to six months.

These injections have been commonly used for lower back pain since the 1950s, alongside physiotherapy and rehabilitation exercises. However, they don’t work for everyone and aren’t without their risks and side effects.

Possible side effects of cortisone injections include an increase in pain and swelling plus bleeding and infection at the injection site, and weakened tendons and ligaments. They can also contribute to raised blood sugar levels making them unsuitable for people with diabetes.

Longer term side effects include:

  • Death of nearby bone (osteonecrosis)
  • Thinning of nearby bone (osteoporosis)
  • Joint infection
  • Nerve damage
  • Thinning of skin and soft tissue around the injection site
  • Temporary flare of pain and inflammation in the joint
  • Tendon weakening or rupture
  • Whitening or lightening of the skin around the injection site
  • Cartilage damage.

Often, repeated use of cortisone injections can lead to the degeneration of cartilage within a joint, leaving surgery the only option. It is therefore recommended that the number of cortisone injections given to a patient within a year be limited to no more than three or four.

Osteopathy as an alternative to cortisone injections

When an osteopath assesses a patient, they take a holistic approach, treating the body as a whole as they search for abnormalities in the body’s structure and function. Rather than focusing on the site of pain alone, an osteopath’s priority will always be to investigate the biomechanical dysfunction that gave rise to the problem the patient came to see them about. True osteopathic thinking is based around the individual: osteopaths base their very careful diagnosis on the patient with the problem, and not the problem itself. They will take into account a patient’s lifestyle and medical history, any previous trauma, their posture and so on to build up a picture of how and where in the body the pain began.

Osteopaths use manipulative techniques to detect and release areas of tension or structural imbalance. By making adjustments to the musculoskeletal system, an osteopath can restore balance and ensure the body is physically comfortable. This in turn will reduce the loading of the tendons, allowing them to heal in the short term and also to prevent the same problem from occurring again in the long term.

This is what happened with both Michelle and Uzma – their underlying problems were not treated by the medical professionals they saw first.

We’re delighted that Ami was able to reduce Michelle’s pain after just one treatment, and help restore Uzma’s quality of life after four treatments. Our osteopaths have helped countless other patients with similar pain over the last 25 years.

We’d like to add that we’re not against the use of cortisone injections across the board. If all other treatments have failed, the right injection into the right area of the body at the right time and in the right patient can help that patient to regain their quality of life. However, it’s vital that the contributing factors are addressed and a programme of care is tailored to the individual.

If you’d like to explore osteopathy as an alternative to injections or surgery, please get in touch to make an appointment with one of our experienced osteopaths. Call 0113 237 1173 or fill in this form to request a callback.

Vitamin D: a vital boost for bone health

imgIt’s January, there’s not a lot of sunshine about and the cold and wet weather is driving us to spend more time indoors. This lack of exposure to sunlight can lead to unhealthy vitamin D deficiencies in people of all ages.

Our bodies need sunlight to help them produce vitamin D. This exposure to sunlight is the main way we get vitamin D, with food a secondary source.

The National Institute for Health & Care Excellence (NICE) estimates that around 1 in 5 adults in the UK and around 1 in 6 children may have low vitamin D levels. A deficiency in vitamin D affects how our bodies absorb calcium, which is essential for strong, healthy bones at every age. In older adults getting enough vitamin D can help to prevent fractures and brittle bones. A lack of vitamin D in children can cause weaker bones and in some cases rickets, a disease in which the bone tissue doesn’t mineralize properly, leading to soft bones and skeletal deformities. Our osteopaths have certainly noticed an increase in the number of children they see with rickets.

So this month in the practice we’re promoting Viridian’s Vitamin D and D3 capsules. As well as contributing to bone health, this supplement can help to improve muscle function and boost the immune system too, helping to fight infections including colds and flu. Vitamin D also has an effect on serotonin, the ‘happy hormone’, which rises with our exposure to sunlight – anyone who suffers from Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD can benefit from taking the supplement.

Vitamin D supplements are particularly important for menopausal women and anyone over the age of 65. It’s also recommended that people with darker skin take a Vitamin D supplement during winter as well as people with low exposure to sunlight. Vitamin D3 is easier to absorb than vitamin D, particularly as we age so is a better choice for older people.
The recommended maintenance dose of Vitamin D is 2,000iu for adults and 500iu for children. Anyone who has been found to have very low levels may need a higher dose.

Ask your Good Health Centre practitioner or a member of our reception team for more information about Viridian’s vitamin D and D3 capsules, on sale in the practice.

Also on the blog: more tips for taking care of your bones.

Make a resolution to correct your posture in 2016!

PostureCutting down on fatty foods, quitting smoking, taking more exercise – all common New Year’s resolutions to improve our health. But have you considered how correcting your posture could give your wellbeing an almighty boost?

Poor posture places the body under unnecessary strain: our muscles have to work harder, our joints and ligaments suffer more wear and tear, and our circulation is affected too. A less than perfect posture can cause back and neck pain, as you might expect, but also things like headaches and digestive issues.

A hunched posture can affect our lung capacity too, and when our lungs aren’t performing at full capacity, the body’s tissues and organs including the heart and brain receive lesser amounts of oxygenated blood.

There are many causes of poor posture, including illness and injury, or being overweight. Modern, sedentary lifestyles also have a negative effect on our posture. And sleeping on an unsupportive mattress can mean we’re resting for several hours each night with bad posture.

So how can you begin to make small changes that will correct your posture and boost your health? Throughout January the Good Health Centre’s experienced osteopaths will be sharing their thoughts and tips on correcting poor posture. Look out for them on our Facebook page and Twitter profile!

Can’t wait and want to find out more now? We love this video that summarises good posture and sets out the benefits of having a better posture in a fun and entertaining way.

And this infographic offers visual tips on how to correct your posture.

If you’ve got pain you think is caused by poor posture, get in touch with us for help and advice. Call us on 0113 237 1173 to make an appointment.