osteopathy Leeds

Acute Vs Chronic Pain: What are the Differences?

Pain Defined

Pain is defined as an unpleasant sensation that can range from mild, localised discomfort to sheer agony. Pain has physical and emotional components. The physical part of pain results from nerves being stimulated. Pain may be confined to a specific area, as in an injury, or it can be spread throughout the body.

Around the world, millions of people live with pain in some form or another, involving many different body parts, on a daily basis.

One of the most interesting things about pain is how each human being deals with it. Some learn to live with pain. Others can’t stand to feel even an ounce of it. The most common types of pain include arthritis, lower back, bone/joint pain, muscle pain and fibromyalgia (widespread pain, tenderness and fatigue in muscles,tendons and ligaments). Back pain is the most frequent cause of limited activities for people younger than 45 years old.

Acute vs. Chronic Pain

Acute pain is a normal sensation triggered in the nervous system to alert you to possible injury and the need to take care of yourself. This type of pain comes on quickly and can be severe, but it lasts a relatively short period of time. In general, acute pain is in response to an event that happens to the body. It may be a result of surgery or an accident.

Chronic pain is different. Chronic pain tends to stay around or progress over longer periods of time. Pain signals keep firing in the nervous system for weeks, months or even years. Oftentimes, chronic pain is resistant to traditional medical treatments. The emotional component of pain often comes into play in a chronic situation.

The Consequences of Pain

The loss of productivity and daily activity due to pain is substantial. Americans spend at least $50 billion per year on back pain, and that’s just for the more easily identified costs. Pain has a negative impact on an individual’s quality of life. It diminishes one’s ability to concentrate, do their job, exercise, socialise, perform daily tasks and sleep. Over time, this can lead to depression, isolation and loss of self-esteem. Researchers have found that depression is the most frequent psychological reaction to chronic pain.

If you hurt an area of your body and do not restore proper, healthy movement patterns, you will end up with problems later down the road. I can’t tell you how many patients I have seen who got in car accidents and hurt their neck and back, but waited to get treatment and used pain as the indicator for how they feel. Eventually, the pain went down or even away, but they were often left with problems in their bones and joints.

Common Causes and Sources of Chronic Pain

An initial injury like a trauma, fracture, sprain/strain, or serious infection may be the cause of the chronic pain. There could also be an ongoing cause like arthritis, cancer, an ear infection or injuries that never healed properly.

Some people even suffer chronic pain in the absence of any past injury or evidence of body damage. Many chronic pain conditions affect older adults. Common chronic pain complaints include headache, low back pain, cancer pain, arthritis pain, neurogenic pain (pain resulting from damage to the peripheral nerves or to the central nervous system itself), and psychogenic pain (pain not due to past disease or injury or any visible sign of damage inside or outside the nervous system). Quite simply, pain can come from anywhere in the body. The source can be the neck, shoulders, low back, hips and everywhere else. Many times, the location of the pain depends on how the injury happened. Perhaps someone injured their shoulder while throwing a ball. Maybe someone sprained their ankle while running. How about the person who falls down the stairs and hurts multiple parts of their body simultaneously?

Solving the Chronic Pain Puzzle

Pain is a complex puzzle. For certain cases, it takes complex solutions to help solve that puzzle. In some cases, the individual’s pain is so debilitating that it requires the use of X-rays or other special imaging to visualise the problem that is occurring in the spine or extremities. It may be appropriate to use any of the following: Chiropractic, Chinese medicine, acupuncture, nutritional supplementation, massage/bodywork, yoga and psychological therapy. In some cases, it may even require over-the-counter or prescription medication (although the goal is to avoid relying on these because of the potential side effects). But there are definitely things you can do that can help you prevent and treat chronic pain. Let’s explore these strategies that, as you might have guessed, are all related to one another.

1. Posture: You have probably been told at different times of your life about the importance of good posture. When you are sitting, put a rolled-up towel or sweatshirt in the small of your back. Sit all the way back to the rear of the chair so you feel the support in your back. When you stand, stand against the wall or a post so you can maintain erect posture. It is important to strengthen your core muscles, the muscles along the spine. Yoga, Pilates or a specific workout program with weights will help you achieve this. You may want to find a personal trainer to help you focus on specific exercises to help you achieve your goals.

2. Balance: As you develop strength, you begin to develop balance. Many of the positions utilised
in yoga, Pilates and weight training work specifically on balance. Would you believe that your feet also have a lot to do with balance? The three arches you have in your feet must all be supported in order for the rest of your body to have good support as well. If one or more of the arches is flat, it can significantly affect the stress to your joints and your ability to exercise efficiently. Ask your chiropractor about analysing your feet to see if you need arch supports.

3. Spinal Load and Stability: Understanding how to exercise or perform any type of sporting
activity is crucial to your health. How many people do you know who lift weights incorrectly? On a daily basis, I see patients who have hurt themselves with physical activity. By being careful and doing your exercises properly, you can reduce the amount of spinal load (stress) and instability.

Migraines: What Causes Them?

According to migrainetrust.org, migraines are one of the most common conditions in the world, impacting more people than diabetes, epilepsy and asthma combined. Migraines are also thought to impact women more than men on a 3:1 ratio, but what causes them? 

Migraines have many ‘triggers’. Trigger foods were previously thought to have a large involvement, for example chocolate, cheese and sweet foods. However there is increasing evidence that suggests rather than food being a trigger, it is more likely that the craving you have for that food is a dietary symptom of your migraine before the pain onset.

There are many physical factors that may contribute towards migraine, and along-side providing you with lifestyle advice, this is where we can really shine in helping get you back to feeling better! 

  • Muscle tension: Muscles that may become tight and can contribute towards your migraines includes the scaleni, sternocleidomastoid, trapezius and suboccipitals, these are just a few of many so make sure you see your osteopath to get a more specific diagnosis.
  • Working at computer screens: this may be postural or due to the glare so seeing a manual therapist and optometrist may benefit you with this on
  • Teeth grinding: may cause headaches through the temporomandibular joint i.e. the jaw. You can develop excessive tension in some of the muscles around this joint which can contribute to the headaches. This may also result in your jaw deviating to one side when you open it, as opposed to it opening straight, imagine this every time you chew, talk, yawn… eventually this will build up and there you have it, a headache! Your Osteopath or dentist can assess for this.  
  • Coughing: This one may be a cause of migraines, it could be diagnosed as a cough headache but it’s always best to get this one checked out by your doctor if it progresses!

There are many other triggers, and one of the largest is LACK OF FOOD or eating foods high in the Glycaemic Index creating blood sugar spikes and dips. There is evidence mounting towards using a low GI (Glycaemic Index) or GL (Glycaemic Load) diet as a way of minimising migraine onsets. 

Sleep – this could be too little, or too much, there is even research suggesting that having that lie in or snoozing may onset that pesky migraine. 

Mild dehydration can also predispose people to migraine onset. It is recommended that you should drink at least 8 x 250ml glasses of water (not including tea, coffee, and sugar free soft drinks). Many soft drinks have aspartame as a sweetener and this may be a large trigger of migraines. (Of course sugar loaded soft drinks are high on the Glycaemic Index so these should be minimised also!) 

Excessive caffeine (more than 4-5 cups of coffee or tea per day) may trigger migraines, however remember that caffeine is found in more than just tea and coffee, other foods include:

  • Ice cream and frozen yoghurt
  • Chocolate
  • Some breakfast cereal
  • Some headache remedies and PMS medication!!

Further factors include hormones, sudden excessive exercise (conversely gentle exercise may be good for them, let alone the other benefits it has), oral contraceptives and drugs. This is not a conclusive list, there are more. 

So what are the top 5 tips?

  1.  If you’ve been diagnosed with migraines, see an osteopath to see if there is any muscular, spinal or jaw involvement causing your symptoms. This could reduce your pain without changing anything else, but for an even better chance try combining with the following.
  2. Try a low GI diet, it may be worth speaking to a nutritionist or dietician before undertaking this. Also make sure you don’t skip meals!
  3. Reduce your caffeine, and not just in the tea/coffee form. As mentioned above, caffeine is in a lot more than just those. 
  4. Keep a track of your sleep – the National Sleep Foundation suggests that adults between 26 and 64 need between 7 and 9 hours, whilst those over 65 still need between 7 and 9 hours. You should stop using screens around an hour before bed and keep the bedroom for sleep – it shouldn’t be another work location. 
  5. Drink plenty of water. 



BASH: British Association for Study of Headaches. www.bash.org.uk

National Sleep Foundation. www.sleepfoundation.org

The Migraine Trust. Common triggers. www.migrainetrust.org

Healthy Recipe: Chicken, Sweet Potato, Quinoa and Rice Salad

If you’re looking for a zingy and super-healthy summer salad, we recommend our recipe below. Tried and tested by the Good Health team, it will keep you full and is packed with amazing nutrients!

  • Seeds of 1 pomegranate
  • 1/2 a carrot, shredded
  • 2 diced salad tomatoes, or a handful of halved cherry tomatoes
  • Shredded chicken thigh
  • 1/4 of a red onion, diced
  • 1/2 butternut roasted and seasoned in olive oil
  • 2 handfuls of baby spinach
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Small handful of ripped mint
  • 6 sprigs of long stem brocolli
  • 1/2 tub of tzakiki, to taste
  • 1/2 pack of microwaveable wild brown rice and quinoa
  • 1/3 cucumber, diced

We Welcome Aisha to the Senior Team!

We’re thrilled to welcome Aisha Mir to our Senior Osteopathy team. With over 15 years’ experience in clinic, and fantastic relationships with our patients, here are some words from Aisha:

Hello All,

I am excited to be joining the senior team of our wonderful Osteopaths here at our clinic, this is a great opportunity for me to help even more patients, particularly in the fields of women’s health issues and paediatric care (especially babies with feeding & digestive disorders).

I have over 16 years experience working as an Osteopath, more recently my passion and interests have led to specialising treating women on women’s health issues and pelvic core. I have recently completed a course on ‘Pelvic floor and Core Foundation Workshop’ covering pelvic floor dysfunction, incontinence, and pelvic organ prolapse, (tutored by Jenny Burrell, head of Burrell Education, the UK’s leading education provider dedicated to serving fitness and clinical professionals working with women throughout their life-span).  Jenny is also the creator of the hugely successful Holistic Core Restore®, a Licensed, evidence-based suite of fitness/wellness programmes incorporating modern, functional and truly integrated Pelvic Floor Fitness and Core Restoration as their foundation.

In addition, I have also completed a range post graduate workshops for treating women during pregnancy. Such as  Bump to Baby and Miserable Baby by Miranda Clayton  (at the renowned London School of Osteopathy). Miranda  is an osteopath with 20 years experience in treating babies, children and in pregnancy.
As we all know, core strength is so important and thus can be a major element incorporated in osteopathic treatment care programmes, therefore I am currently undertaking a 13 week exercise program course ‘Restore your Core’ designed by Lauren Ohayon, which addresses core problems such as post-partum issues, diastasis recti (mummy tummy), sneeze pee, and constant back pain to allow me to benefit many more patients.

Stress is a significant feature in so many of our lives nowadays and the effect of this on the body is something that I am keen to help as many patient’s with as possible. I personally find it so fulfilling treating patients presenting symptoms due to chronic stress by helping them achieve a more balanced autonomic nervous system and releasing their tension trigger points in their body.  I achieve this using various techniques including cranial osteopathy, myofascial release, visceral osteopathy and working on breathing techniques. In addition I find it advantageous  to incorporate diet, lifestyle modifications, and supplementation advice, as I feel these play a  vital role in achieving optimum health and well being.

I look forward to next step here at the Good Health Centre and supporting patients on their health journey.