Tag Archives: osteopathy

Back Pain and Sciatica

Back Pain and Sciatica

Back pain and sciatica is common, but that doesn’t mean it’s normal for it to occur.

At my Glasgow osteopathy clinic I spend much of my time assessing and treating back pain due to it’s high incidence. There are many structures in the low back which may give pain to other parts of the body. The pain and stiffness can become worse if not identified and treated sooner rather than later.

Government statistics state that “Up to 70% of people will experience back pain in their life” and that “around one in three men and one in four of women in some age groups suffered for the whole year with back pain.”

Osteopathic treatment is often the most effective first line of treatment in correcting mechanical problems caused by back pain and preventing things from becoming persistent.

Back problems are often misunderstood.

Most cases of acute low back pain are classed as ‘simple low back pain’ or ‘non-specific low back pain’. Simple low back pain means that the pain is not due to any underlying disease that can be found. In some cases the cause may be a sprain or strain or maybe even spasm of a ligament or muscle.

In other cases the cause may be a minor problem with a disc between two vertebrae, or a minor problem with a small ‘facet’ joint between two vertebrae. However, the causes of the pain are impossible to prove by tests and so it may be impossible for a doctor to say exactly where the pain is coming from, or exactly what is causing the pain.

The longer you put it off, the harder it will be to get going again.

Simple does not mean that the pain is mild – the pain can range from mild to very bad. Typically, the pain is in one area of the lower back, but sometimes it spreads to the buttock or thigh. The pain is usually eased by lying down flat, and is often made worse if you move your back, cough, or sneeze. So, simple back pain is ‘mechanical’ in the sense that it varies with posture or activity.

Problems with your back can cause pain in areas you may not associate with coming from your back. Leg pain and buttock ache, groin pain or tingling in the toes can all come from the base of the spine. This is why a back strain can be mistaken for a hamstring strain.

Conversely, a problem elsewhere in the body may give you back pain. A problem with your hip or ankle, for example, may cause you to walk differently leading to a pain in your back.

Don’t be another back pain statistic.  As an osteopath I’m ideally suited to helping you.

Book an appointment with me online today.

Frequently asked questions about osteopathy

Annoucing Our First Sponsored Athlete.

Sponsoring an athlete

Glasgow Osteopath is really happy to announce that we are now sponsoring* one of Scotland’s top Ultra-runners – Paul Giblin (twitter @pyllon)

Paul trusted me to treat him over his first season of Ultra events including the 96 mile West Highland Way Race and his results speak for themself. Paul completed 7 Ultra marathons in 2011, and finished 3rd overall in the Scottish Ultra Marathon Series. Highlights include a win at the 55 mile Cateran Ultra and a top 5 finish at the infamous West Highland Way race.

Paul’s training and competition schedule is gruelling and my treatment is tailored to meet the demands of a packed 9-month plan. This involves race preparation treatments, techniques to speed up recovery, general maintenance and dealing with issues as they arise – such as ‘emergency’ muscle treatment that on one occasion would have meant he couldn’t compete.

If Paul trusts me to maintain his body throughout the season it means he can focus on training and racing – helping him achieve his ambitions for the year. No matter what the distance, from 5K to marathon (and beyond), I believe I can help to keep you training so that you get the most out of your running.

If you’d like to know more about how I could support your training plan send me an email Osteopath Glasgow or call me to discuss – I love to talk running!

We’ll keep you updated on Paul’s progress through the year including links to his ultra-running blog.

Getting Faster as you get older (pt2) The Even Better News

Back to Part 1

What an osteopath would do to make you faster

In part one I wrote about muscle cell efficiency and  decreases in muscle economy. Now I’m going to write about how me as an osteopath can help improve muscle economy through efficient movement by increasing flexibility.

An osteopathic principle believes that your muscles are a mirror of your life. What does this mean to you and why should it make you faster? Every thing you have done is “trapped” within your muscles. Every strain, pull and  injury. All the times you overused, abused, mis-used your body. The hours you’ve spent sitting at a desk, on a sofa or stuck in a car in traffic. It’s all held in the muscles, making them stiffer, tighter and  feeling older. These are inefficient muscles. It takes a greater effort to move them.

To move a joint the muscle on one side has to contract to pull it, at the same time the muscle on the other side has to relax to allow the movement. If the relaxing muscle is tight and inflexible it will require greater effort from the contracting muscle to allow the movement. Your economy of movement will be decreased requiring greater effort or power and decreases to your stamina.

Stretching can play a part in decreasing the inflexibility, but only a part if we consider muscle tightness in terms of structural and functional changes.

A muscle spasm could be thought of as a functional change. The muscle contracts to protect the area from further injury or insult. It’s normally short-lived and the muscle returns to its normal length.

A structural change is when the muscles form changes more permanently. There are studies showing the cellular structural changes associated with tennis elbow. It is  also thought that shin splints can in part be caused by trauma and scar tissue formation in the shin muscles. Trigger points are another example of what I would call structural changes to muscles. All these examples leave the muscle either shortened or with shortened areas that don’t respond well to stretching. I also believe that training without stretching can lead to structurally shortened muscle.

This is where an osteopath can help. Working through your muscles may help return your muscles to more norm state, breaking down any restrictions to movement helping you move more efficiently.

One of my patients demonstrated that possible effects of this. He came in with left-sided low back, buttock, groin and leg pain. I treated the problems on that side and while training on a turbo trainer he noted

“Did 15mins singe leg spins this morning. Left side has more power and comfort with 10% more rpm.”

While I know this isn’t conclusive it does give me a way to start to measure improvements.

An osteopath won’t just look at your legs. They may also  look at your back and pelvis to get that working properly. This would allow it to integrate with your improved leg movements making your whole running gait more efficient.

Why stop there? An osteopath can also look at your ribs and diaphragm. Loosening your diaphragm, which is your main breathing muscle, could give you a fuller breath. Working through the muscles between the ribs and the rib attachments may also allow your chest to expand more again allowing more air in.

So the other suggestion in the experiment’s conclusion, is to do some weights to improve your breathing. I’d like to suggest hold off on the weights. Get what’s there working properly and watch those efficiency gains. Then decide if you really need to do the weights. After all you’re going to be carrying the weight gain on inefficient legs.

The list is almost endless of what an osteopath could improve. The next post is going to be on what to expect when you visit an osteopath and a likely time frame for treatment.  Part 3 out now

book an appointment

enjoying running as you get older

Getting Faster as you get older? The good news

Research shows that you can run faster.

enjoying running as you get olderDoes age automatically mean that there’s a decline in our athletic endeavors?  A commonly held belief is the older we get the poorer our sporting performance gets, but this isn’t necessarily true and I believe that osteopathy can  help all runners and other athletes whatever their age maintain their speed and possibly reduce the impact of injury.

A recent post in the NY Times reported on some good news for older runners. The results from the experiment on aging factors and running economy suggest that ‘age-related declines in running performance are associated with declines in maximal and submaximal cardiorespiratory variables and declines in strength and power, not because of declines in running economy.’

What may be confusing to a lay person is that they’re confusing economy and efficiency and muscle with muscle cells.

What they meant by this is your muscles cells  don’t lose efficiency. ie older muscles cells use oxygen as well as younger muscles.

In fact muscles that have been trained for endurance events use oxygen more efficiently. The Genetics and Molecular Biology of Muscle Adaptation (Advances in Sport and Exercise Science) highlights research that shows that mitochondria, the powerhouse of a cell, do their job better the more the muscle is used, or to put it another way, the older the muscles and the person using the muscle is, the greater the potential for speed and endurance.

So according to the experiment, the decline doesn’t come from decreases in the efficiency of the muscle cells, it comes from the decline of your heart and lungs and the decline in strength and power of your muscles. Or to put it my way the decline comes from decreases in the economy of effort used during movement.

The experiment noted that older runners had decreased upper body strength compared to younger runners and that while they both had similar leg power, the older runners had decreased leg flexibility.

While using your arms does help pump your lungs, there doesn’t appear to be any correlation between upper body muscle mass or power and respiratory efficiency. The movement of the rib cage and the diaphragm (the main respiratory muscle) were not assessed in this study, but age can and does tighten these leading to decreased flexibility there as well.

Correcting these decreases in flexibility is where an osteopath could play a crucial role in maintaining your athletic performance. How is what I’m going to talk about in Part 2 >

 

Preventing Sports Injuries

Injuries In Sport

Osteopathy and sports injury preventionWhen I started running I posted on facebook that “with my knowledge I intended to avoid all running injuries”.  Obviously (hopefully) this doesn’t include accidental injuries like falls, trips or twisted ankles.

What I mean by this is the preventable sports injuries. Continue reading Preventing Sports Injuries

Osteopathy for Pain Relief

Treatment for pain

Pain relief is one of the main reasons people come to osteopaths for osteopathic treatment. Osteopathy helps people of all ages who suffer from pain, tackling complaints ranging from sports and work-related injuries to arthritis and sciatica. The osteopaths role is to alleviate pain and improve the patient’s mobility in order to make life more comfortable.

What is pain?

Pain is your bodies way of telling you that something is wrong. It is often caused by swelling of tissue, which creates pressure on nerves and leads to discomfort. Pain is a useful mechanism to alert you to a problem, and stops you from damaging your body further.

It should always be taken seriously.

Pain can affect many areas of the body, but particularly the lower back, head, neck, joints and legs. It can result from injuries and arthritis, and can also manifest itself in the form of rheumatic pain and period pain.

Osteopaths diagnose the causes of pain and help to ease it by increasing movement, decreasing muscle spasm and reducing tissue inflammation.

Treatment methods range from massage and soft tissue techniques to muscles and connective tissues to manipulation and stretching of joints. This helps to reduce muscle spasm, increase mobility and to create a healthier state in which damaged tissues can heal.

The skilled techniques of an osteopath can often allow you a speedy return to normal activity. If you have had a pain for a long time, and other forms of treatment have not helped, osteopathic treatment could be beneficial.

Book an appointment online

Osteopathy vs Chiropractic vs Physiotherapy

The Difference between Osteopathy,Physiotherapy and Chiropractic

I frequently get asked what’s the difference between an osteopath, a chiropractor and a physiotherapist. I keep trying to think of a punch line that’s funny, but haven’t come up with one yet (suggestions in the comments section). Another therapist did once attempt a humourous answer, but it was just that, an attempt.

This can be quite a hard question to answer professionally as I’m an osteopath and I’m biased!

This is a go at an over simplified differentiation of the differences (I hope)

Osteopaths treat the bones, muscles, ligaments, and joints. We can therefore treat any part of the body directly. We are also looking at how these different areas connect together. This helps us find predisposing and maintaining factors i.e. trying to find the real cause of your problem and make sure it doesn’t come back. What I mean by this is you may have pain in your knee that is caused by twisting and torsion in your calf as a result of your flat foot. Treating the knee may make your knee pain go away, but if the foot problem isn’t addressed your knee pain will keep coming back. (still with me?)

A chiropractor would probably look at your knee, X-ray your back and tell you that your knee pain is caused by a joint in your back out-of-place. This is because Chiropractors generally look at spinal joints and the way this would affect the nervous system, and nothing else. (still there?)

A physio (now this is a hard one). The best way I can show you the difference is to describe a patient I used to treat and let you work it out for yourself. I used to treat a footballer who suffered with recurrent groin and hamstring strains. The club physio kept getting him pain-free, and back to training. Within a couple of “proper” matches he’d be out again with the same problem as before.

This had happened 3 times in one season. (nearly the whole season wasted). The player was frustrated. When I saw him for the first time I looked at his whole body and found most of his problems were due to overtight muscles in his hip/buttock area and his low back.

I treated those and I haven’t heard of any problems since (on TV, radio or press. Yes he was that well-known)

This is a very general reply, and the best way to find out for yourself is to try the 3 therapies. Most offer a free assessment, just make sure they don’t sign you up for life!

If you want to find out a little bit more about osteopathy I do a free 15 minute assessment. You can book an appointment online