Staff Picks – Favourite Books

With a variety of literature festivals coming up, we’ve asked our staff about their favourite books …

  • Receptionist Linda H – ‘Famous Five’ by Enid Blyton. “As a child I had many adventures and always wanted to be part of the famous five.”
  • Receptionist Linda P – ‘Blackberry Wine’ by Joanne Harris. “Because it’s magical.”
  • Clinical Director Ami – ‘The Fountainhead’ by Ayn Rand. “It questions the driving forces behind human behaviour.”
  • Practice Manager June – ‘Kane and Abel’ by Jeffrey Archer.
  • Osteopath Seb – ‘How Your Body Works.’ “My favourite book when I was growing up; turns out I was on the right path with this book.”
  • Osteopath Josh – ‘A Game of Thrones’ by George R.R Martin. “Because it’s so unpredictable.”
  • Acupuncturist Robert – ‘Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard’ by Kiran Desai. “It’s a very light-hearted, mad book.”
  • Reflexologist and massage therapist Pavan –‘Ageless Body, Timeless Mind’ by Deepak Chopra. “I can relate to it, it’s very present and you can apply it to your life.”
  • Patient Care Co-ordinator Justine – ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ by Harper Lee. “What would Atticus do?”
Combat Stress - Mental Health Awareness Week - Good Health Centre

Stress Awareness Month

‘Stress is an important dragon to slay – or at least tame – in your life.’
(Marilu Henner)

People have different ideas of what stress is or feels like, but the majority of us would say we have experienced stress at some point in our lives.

We consider stress to be something that causes distress, which most of us would agree is a negative. However, stress can also be beneficial, and has been throughout the history of human beings. Stress causes physical changes in the body which are designed to help you tackle threats or difficulties. It results in the fight or flight response which, certainly in the past, has helped keep us alive. The problem with stress arises when this feeling doesn’t fade as it should when the threat has passed. The body of a person who is constantly stressed is in a perpetual state of high alert, creating stress-related symptoms.

There are numerous symptoms of stress, and quite often a person will experience a combination of the following:

Some common symptoms to consider:

  • Emotionally you may feel overwhelmed, irritable, anxious and/or lacking in self-esteem.
  • Mentally you may have racing thoughts, constant worry, difficulty concentrating and/or difficulty making decisions.
  • Physically you may experience headaches, muscle tension, sleep problems, tiredness and notice a difference in your eating habits.
  • You may find you are drinking or smoking more, snapping at people and/or avoiding the things you are finding difficult.

Areas our osteopaths may be able to help you …

Osteopathy helps the body to heal and regulate itself, and encourages rebalancing of the nervous system responsible for the fight or flight response.
We may be able to help you by working on the following areas and systems of the body:

  • Nervous system.
  • Breathing
  • Posture.
  • Digestion.
  • Adrenal glands.

Some self – help tips:

  • Mindfulness.
  • Meditation.
  • Stay active – exercise can help reduce some of the emotional intensity you are feeling, and help clear your thoughts.
  • Keep a good social network of friends and family.
  • Take some time to do things you enjoy.

If you would like to be seen by one of our practitioners or if you have any further questions, then please get in touch with us. You can call us on 0113 237 1173 or email [email protected], and we will get back to you promptly.

Running Injuries

A marathon … a race which London Marathon co-founder Chris Brasher called ‘The World’s Most Human Race’.

Thousands of people enter the London Marathon each year, and we can see why. There’s a buzzing atmosphere, and spectators showcase the best of the human spirit, as they tirelessly cheer people on urging them not to give up.

We have patients who enter each year, and we know many of you run regularly so we would like to give you some information about common injuries and hopefully how to avoid them.

Injuries can affect anyone, from experienced runners to beginners, and for everybody the same simple advice applies: don’t run if your body is telling you not to.

At Good Health Centre we see a variety of injuries; let’s have a look at some of the most common, how you can try to avoid them and how our osteopaths go about treating them …

Runners Knee’

  • The most common causes are swelling under the kneecap as a result of repeat loading whilst the knee is flexed; loss of hyperextension of the knee joint; and poor ankle or hip mechanics.
  • This causes significant pain to the runner who is forced to stop or to limit the distance, an obvious problem for a marathon runner.
  • During a run, you may feel pain in front of the knee, around the knee and/or behind the knee cap.

Osteopathic treatment

When treating, careful examination of the lower extremity will take place. The osteopath may want to examine you while running, and/or a passive assessment on the treatment couch. We need to collate all the information and understand why this condition has occurred and what is preventing this patient from getting better. Once this is established a course of treatment is undergone, coupled with some strengthening and stretching exercises tailor-made to the individual. The osteopath will also be advising you as to your training regime and appropriate distances.

Achilles pain

  • Regular running can cause wear and tear of the Achilles tendon (runs from the bones of your heel to the calf muscles), resulting in pain and/or swelling at the back of the ankle or heel.
  • It can be a slight continuous pain, or a sudden, sharp pain. Patients generally find it is worse first thing in the morning.

Our advice would be to apply a cold pack if you can feel a lump in that area, and also massage the area with your fingers.

Some patients also find it beneficial to insert heel wedges in their shoes. 

Shin pain

  • Commonly referred to as ‘shin splints’, you will feel a dull pain in the shin, which can lead to sudden, sharp pain.
  • It is an overuse problem.

Osteopathic treatment

It is useful to firstly find out if unusual ankle biomechanics is the underlying cause of the problem.

Patients find it useful to use a foam roller up and down the calves, and it may be worth seeing a podiatrist to see if orthotics may help you.

Our osteopaths would start by careful assessment of all your surrounding joints. We will also look at your training programme, perhaps you’re loading too much too fast.

Heel pain

  • Runners sometimes experience pain or swelling in the heel or bottom of the foot.
  • It usually occurs when a patient progresses with their running and is doing so more regularly; runs on an incline; or if their shoes are not supportive enough.
  • The pain is often sharp and occurs when weight is put on the heel; it can also feel as if you are walking on sharp stones.

You will probably have heard of plantar fasciitis, which results in pain in the areas discussed. You’ll find it is at its worst at the start of the day, can be brought on by bending the toes up towards the shin, and is exacerbated by a tight Achilles tendon.

We would also look at the possibility of a calcaneal spur, which is an extra growth on the bone of the heel. They can be difficult to treat as you are constantly putting weight on it making it impossible to rest it.

We have found some patients respond quickly to manipulation of the foot (there are 26 bones in each foot!). If we can get all the joints moving well, it means the loading of the plantar fascia is reduced.

Muscle strains

The most common muscles we treat in relation to running are the hamstrings (three posterior thigh muscles) and the calf muscles.

Muscle strains are common in new runners, as they are exercising muscles that are not used to being pushed.

If you experience muscle strain, we advise that you stop running, and apply a cold pack for around 20 minutes a few times a day. You can also try elevating your leg, and use a pillow for support to reduce any swelling. 

A few tips from our osteopaths …

  • If you are training for a marathon, don’t forget to build up your muscle groups alongside getting the distance in. Try skipping, strenuous walks up hills, and HIIT workouts.
  • Make sure you are wearing the correct footwear. Buy your trainers from a running shop where you can get shoes tailored to your feet.
  • Warm up properly. Try a 5-10 minute brisk walk or a gentle jog to warm your muscles up; it may help prevent injuries.
  • Cool down properly. Finish your run at an easier pace, or walk for 5-10 minutes; it can help your body recover.
  • If you are a new runner, build up your speed and distance slowly; allow your body to adapt.

It is also important to be honest with yourself; running a marathon may be on your bucket list but some people are just not suited to running.

If you would like to be seen by one of our osteopaths or if you have any further questions, then please get in touch with us. You can call us on 0113 237 1173 or email [email protected], and we will get back to you promptly.

 

Muscle and Condition of the Quarter

This quarter we are looking at the Piriformis muscle, and how it can affect the sciatic nerve.

Piriformis

Piriformis (meaning pear-shaped) is a muscle in the gluteal region of the lower limb. It is one of the six muscles that laterally (to the side) rotate the hip. Its function is to rotate the femur when the hip is extended and abduct (away from the midline) the femur when the hip is flexed.

The Sciatic Nerve

The sciatic nerve is the longest and widest single nerve in the human body. It begins in the lower back and runs through the buttocks and down the posterior aspect of the lower limb to the foot.

The piriformis can sometimes irritate the sciatic nerve as it runs into the gluteal region beneath the muscle.

Piriformis Syndrome – compression of the sciatic nerve

The cause of the problem is not always known, but we do know that the following circumstances can contribute:

  • Irritation of the muscle causing spasm.
  • Tightening of the muscle in response to injury.

The symptoms experienced vary, but patients have described:

  • A dull ache in the buttock.
  • Pain down the back of the thigh.
  • Increased pain after prolonged sitting.
  • Pain when walking up stairs.
  • Decreased range of motion in the hip joint.

Let’s look at an example …

Joe arrives at the clinic complaining of pain in his buttock which radiates down the outside of his right leg. The pain is burning in character and related to activity. He has seen his GP who diagnosed sciatica and he was sent for an MRI of his lower back. Joe came away disappointed as the scan result was negative.

He is examined by an osteopath who finds full range of movement in his lumbar spine; however, when the practitioner presses on the piriformis muscle at the right hip joint the symptoms were reproduced down his right leg.

A diagnosis of piriformis syndrome is made, and Joe’s osteopath chooses to inhibit the muscle, and articulate the hip joint and pelvis to maintain the movement. This gives Joe immediate symptomatic relief.

Our duty is to find out why Joe’s piriformis has decided to tighten up and why it is only on the right hand side. To answer these questions Joes whole body biomechanics must be assessed.

We found that Joe’s right leg was slightly shorter than his left leg, and in an attempt to lengthen the leg, he constantly stimulates the piriformis which attempts to compensate for the difference. In addition, his right knee was slightly twisted inwards compared to his left and the piriformis is working harder in an attempt to reverse this condition.

Whilst inhibiting the piriformis itself gave instant relief, the symptoms would reoccur if the underlying maintaining factors were not addressed. Looking at the biomechanics of the whole lower extremity gave a much more permanent solution.

After four treatments Joe responded very well and visited us again following training for the Abbey Dash. He could feel a hint of symptoms coming back, as loading from the knee to the piriformis was amplified. Joe responded well to quick treatment and was back up and running.

You may also like to try …

  • Massage – enhances healing by increasing blood flow to the area and decreases muscle spasm.
  • Cold pack – 20 minutes, repeated every 2 to 4 hours.
  • Heat therapy – you may find it helpful to alternate cold with heat.
  • Acupuncture/dry needling – this has been shown to reduce muscle spasm and hypertonia, which in turn will reduce the pressure on the sciatic nerve.

 

If you would like to be seen by one of our practitioners or if you have any further questions, then please get in touch with us. You can call us on 0113 237 1173 or email [email protected], and we will get back to you promptly.

 

Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Week

This quarter brings both MS Awareness week, running from 23rd – 29th April, and World MS Day on 30th May.

MS – the basics

  • A neurological condition that affects the nerves in the brain and spinal cord.
  • The word ‘sclerosis’ means scarring or hardening of small patches of tissue. ‘Multiple’ refers to the fact that it happens at more than one place in the brain and/or spinal cord.
  • It is not a terminal condition but it is one that a patient will live with for the rest of their life.
  • It is the most common condition of the Central Nervous System affecting young adults; over 100,000 people have MS in the UK.
  • It is nearly three times more common in women than men, and the majority of people are diagnosed in their 20s and 30s.

Symptoms

The symptoms people experience vary and can differ from day-to-day. Around the time of diagnosis common symptoms include fatigue, stumbling more often, unusual feelings in the skin such as pins and needles or numbness, slowed thinking and problems with eyesight.

Causes

Although the causes are not well understood, MS is a very active area of research, and it is thought that a number of different factors may be involved. It is thought to, at least in part, be an autoimmune condition which attacks a protein called myelin (covers and insulates the nerves). This results in patches of nerve damage meaning messages don’t get passed along the nerves efficiently, or sometimes at all.

How can Good Health Centre help?

Managing MS usually involves several treatment approaches, and each person will respond to treatment differently.

At Good Health Centre we have a number of different treatments that may be able to help:

Many patients with MS will experience pain and stiffness in different parts of the body and on different occasions. Sometimes the patient will experience pain and discomfort as a result of adopting a new posture; for example, if there is weakness in the lower part of the body, a patient may develop a limp. This in turn can give rise to tight muscles and restricted joints. With his hands, the osteopath will be able to detect these and apply appropriate manipulation to alleviate the pain.

In addition, some patients attend the clinic for a more gentle approach such as cranial osteopathy. These techniques are subtle but are as effective as others.

Acupuncture may help with pain and anxiety that is caused by MS. It can trigger the body’s own healing response, and help restore natural balance.

An American survey found that out of 1000 people with MS, half said they found fatigue, depression, spasticity and sleep problems had improved after acupuncture.

Massage may help with pain relief and musculoskeletal symptoms of MS. It is a relaxing treatment, and may also help with general well-being which we feel is extremely important.

One study found that massage helped lower anxiety levels and decreased depressed mood. Another study in 2014 found that a person’s competency to cope with challenging situations such as MS increased after four weeks of receiving a weekly one hour massage session; to maintain this effect, the treatment needs to be continuous.

A survey investigating the use of complementary therapies by people with MS highlighted reflexology as one of the most popular treatments.

There have been studies that have shown significant improvements in the mean scores of pins and needles, bladder symptoms, muscle strength and spasticity.

Other studies have shown benefits in pain, fatigue, depression and spasms.

If you would like to be seen by one of our practitioners or if you have any further questions, then please get in touch with us. You can call us on 0113 237 1173 or email [email protected], and we will get back to you promptly.

References:

www.mstrust.org.uk

 

IBS - World Digestive Awareness Day - Good Health Centre

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

This April, the Institute of Osteopathy is running an event on managing IBS. At Good Health Centre, we regularly meet patients who are suffering from this condition, and we find that each case we come across differs greatly. Our practitioners always look at the whole picture, and in the case of IBS this is particularly important.

 IBS – the basics

  • It is a common condition that affects the digestive system.
  • Symptoms include: stomach cramps, bloating, diarrhoea and constipation, which tend to come and go over time.
  • The exact cause is unknown, but it has been linked to food passing through the gut too slowly or too quickly, oversensitive nerves in the gut, stress, and family history of the condition.

It is a lifelong condition which currently has no cure; however there are steps you can take to relieve your symptoms.

IBS and Osteopathy

Our osteopaths encounter IBS from a number of different perspectives:

 

1) A patient may come to see us for the bowel complaint itself.

The practitioner would carry out some manual techniques that may help to improve blood flow in the gut, which reduces tension in the surrounding muscles, providing relief from abdominal pain. This method may also help reduce susceptibility to constipation and diarrhoea.

Osteopathy can gently stimulate muscles around the gut, loosen surrounding tissues and reduce local swelling.

Your practitioner may also offer dietary advice to be used in conjunction with manual treatment.

 

2) A patient may come to see us with another issue that we find is caused by IBS.

A patient may come to us with a back problem, or tension headaches. After a thorough consultation that encompasses the whole person, a practitioner may discover that the big stressor is actually the bowel. The problem isn’t always in the area where we feel the symptoms. In this case, the osteopath would incorporate the gut into the treatment plan.

 

3) There may be a seemingly unrelated structural abnormality in another area of the body.

The physical structure of the body governs function. This means that a structural anomaly can alter the function of a system such as the digestive system. As an example, your osteopath may discover an abnormality with your spine. As the nerves which supply the gut originate from the spine, a problem in this specific area may have an effect on the gut.

 

Stress is known to make IBS worse. Osteopathic treatment may have a secondary effect of relaxing the body to help alleviate stress, thus reducing the severity of IBS symptoms.

You may also like to consider acupuncture, massage and reflexology, as these treatments can also help with the management of stress.

 

If you would like to be seen by one of our practitioners or if you have any further questions, then please get in touch with us. You can call us on 0113 237 1173 or email [email protected], and we will get back to you promptly.

 

References:

 

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/irritable-bowel-syndrome-ibs/