Why Chiropractic care is different and how it works

I love being a chiropractor and being able to help people. Whether it is through improvement of spinal function; exercise; or general lifestyle advice, our main goal is often helping you to achieve your potential and not just about chasing pain and symptoms.

Whilst we often use many manual and rehab techniques to suit you and your complaint, chiropractors primarily focus on improving joint function through mobilisation and manipulation. We are experts in this respect and train for many years to deliver safe, effective techniques to peripheral and spinal joints that are restricted (or “dysfunctional”).  However, how this works is often a subject of debate. Recently, I attended a very interesting and inspirational seminar which highlighted some of the exciting neurophysiological research that is occurring in Chiropractic. In particular, how manipulation of the spine affects our body’s awareness and brain function.

Why is this important?

Imagine you are doing something apparently simple like picking a ball up. What happens? First, your brain tells your core abdominal muscles to “switch on” to create a stable platform; then you lift your arm and reach out; then you anticipate the shape, weight and size of the ball from past experience and visual input; then you pick it up. Although this all happens subconsciously in seconds, during that time billions of signals are being sent from the tissues to your brain (and vice-versa) to carefully control and modulate your muscle contractions and keep you stable. The nerve signals from your limbs, and the position and movement of the joints and small muscles around the spine are essential in this process. If this is working at its best, you are unlikely to get joint or muscle pain.

Why is this important to Chiropractic?

Research has shown that the brain can interpret these signals differently if spinal joints are not moving well. This can lead to poor control of your body movements, decreased stabilisation and potential injury or long term adaptive changes (often known as “compensation”). Correcting these dysfunctional spinal joints can aid in the “normalisation” of the information from the spine to the brain, and help the brain to accurately perceive what is happening in and around the body. When this happens it can help the muscles and nerves to respond more accurately and appropriately, and can reduce your likelihood of injury or painful conditions.

We can help you to achieve better health. Why not come and see what our chiropractors and massage therapists in Stafford and Newport can do for you. We look forward to seeing you.

Chris Mallett
Principal Chiropractor
Pure Health Chiropractic & Wellness (Stafford and Newport)

Help your back pain with the Dying Bug

If you suffer with a back injury or pain, it can be a real burden getting back to normal movement.

The Dying Bug track is a progression of exercises designed to help you learn to engage the spinal and pelvic muscles again, and give you the confidence to return to normal activities. Here, our Chiropractor Chris runs through some of the steps of the progression and explains why it is so important.

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Let us help you to achieve better health. You can book an appointment with our chiropractor Chris or massage therapists Liesa or Matt, by calling 01785 530911 in Stafford, or 01952 825042 in Newport. Alternatively you can book using our online diary.

We look forward to seeing you.

Back Pain – don’t let it stop you!

As I was sorting through some of our old things a few days ago, I happened to come across something really quite interesting.

It was an old MRI scan of my lower back when I was in my first year of chiropractic school, at the ripe old age of 28 (I’m now nearly 42!). I was suffering quite severe back and leg pain at the time, and I can still remember being told that I had the “spine of a 65 year old” by one of the doctors. However, as I looked at it, I realised that it was very similar to many other MRI scans that I have seen since graduating, and I’m not concerned in the slightest!

Over the years, I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen clients who are so afraid that they will damage their back due to “disc bulges” or a “crumbling spine”, that they are almost too apprehensive to move. I can appreciate that. Severe back or nerve pain is excruciating. Debilitating. Until you experience it, it’s difficult to describe how painful it is and you will do anything not to experience it again. However, allowing your fear of injury to control you is not the answer for long term management.

One of the main challenges with persistent back problems is learning how to move better again with confidence and coordination. A big part of this is building stability, strength and mobility through exercise, a healthy lifestyle and techniques such as Yoga, Pilates, massage and Chiropractic. Getting good advice and maintaining good movement is essential.

Being out of pain, or trying to get fit is most people’s goal when exercising but I think it’s also a great idea to find something you enjoy doing and train towards being able to do that more. For example, strength and mobility training helps me to do what I really love: riding my mountain bike. Having recently completed the brilliant ‘Ard Rock Enduro in Yorkshire, I can confidently say that I feel fitter and stronger than I’ve ever felt on a bike. But I’ve had to work hard at it – there are no shortcuts!

My message for all those with chronic, recurrent back pain is this: OK, so you’ve got back problems. Now, what are you going to do about it? Your spine is far stronger and more resilient than you may be led to believe, and back problems don’t have to stop you doing the things you love. Unless you let them.

Let us help you to achieve better health. You can book an appointment with our chiropractor Chris or massage therapists Liesa or Matt, by calling 01785 530911 in Stafford, or 01952 825042 in Newport. Alternatively you can book using our online diary.

We look forward to seeing you.

Pure Health Chiropractic

Image by Jerry Tatton of DialledInUk

Straighten Up UK!

Recent consumer research by the British Chiropractic Association has shown that people of all ages are experiencing higher levels of back pain and discomfort and much of this is related to poor movement or posture. In the Midlands particularly, incidences of back pain have increased 12% on 2017, and we are the most likely to develop back pain before the age of 30!

As a nation, we live busy and yet sedentary lifestyles. We are dashing about one minute, full of stress and time pressured, and then subjecting ourselves to long periods of sedentary behaviour by driving for long periods, playing computer games or watching television. This often leads to de-conditioning, fatigue and ultimately poor movement, stiffness and pain. Every year, back pain results in billions of pounds in losses to the nation due to lost days at work and sickness benefit payments; not to mention the significant impact this is having on a sufferer’s quality of life.

Chiropractors are keen to highlight this issue to show people in the UK ways in which they can help themselves towards a healthier lifestyle through education, advice and if necessary a treatment plan.

As part of this, the British Chiropractic Association (BCA) has introduced an exciting programme called Straighten Up UK, designed to improve posture and help prevent back pain by promoting balance, strength and flexibility in the spine. Chiropractors want to encourage adults and children alike to start using this set of simple, three minute straighten up exercises. They are designed to be done on a daily basis and become part of the daily routine, just like brushing your teeth.

The exercises can be adapted to suit individual capabilities (although please discuss with your GP, chiropractor or other healthcare practitioner first). There are kids’ and adults’ versions of the website and leaflets, so everyone can take part. Further information about chiropractic and the programme can be obtained by visiting www.chiropractic-uk.co.uk.

If you are struggling with back pain that won’t settle after more than a few days, it’s recommended that you see a qualified professional, such as a chiropractor, who can assess you and recommend a care plan to help get you moving again.

Let us help you to achieve better health. You can book an appointment with our chiropractor Chris or massage therapists Liesa or Matt, by calling 01785 530911 in Stafford, or 01952 825042 in Newport. Alternatively you can book using our online diary.

We look forward to seeing you.

Pure Health Chiropractic

Shockwave is here!

No, it’s not the next superhero movie, but it is something quite new and exciting! We are pleased to reveal that we now have a revolutionary type of treatment called Radial Shockwave Therapy (RSWT) available at both of our clinics for new and existing clients.

It has been shown to be particularly successful in treating stubborn soft tissue conditions in the shoulder, hip, knee, foot or ankle, that are struggling to respond to conventional therapy.

Why not see what shockwave can do for you? For more information, please visit our Shockwave Therapy page or Contact Us. We look forward to seeing you.

Suffering back or neck pain? Here are some helpful tips

New research finds increasing numbers of Midlanders suffering from back and neck pain

New research released to mark Chiropractic Awareness Week (9 – 15 April), has found that more than two fifths (41%) of people in the Midlands are currently experiencing back or neck pain, a 12% increase on 2017.

The research, which was carried out by the British Chiropractic Association, found that for sufferers in the Midlands, the top triggers for this pain were;

  • Lifting or carrying heavy objects (53%)
  • Sitting for long periods of time (43%), and;
  • Poor posture (35%)

Notably, incidences of neck and back pain among younger people are also on the rise, with 40% of people in the Midlands experiencing neck or back pain by age 20.

 

GB back pain

 

Local chiropractor, Chris Mallett from Pure Health Chiropractic in Stafford and Newport, comments on these findings:

“The BCA’s research findings align with what I see in my clinic on a day to day basis, however it’s particularly interesting that lifting and carrying was the most cited trigger for neck and back pain. It really highlights the importance of maintaining a strong and active body that can move well and cope with the demands you are making of it.

“For those who are finding that sedentary lifestyles and sitting for long periods are causing them a problem, we would encourage they make a change. We are designed to move and if you hold your body in any position for an extended period of time, it is likely that you will feel pain.

“To help counteract the effects of a sedentary lifestyle, and help prevent back and neck pain occurring, there are a number of simple exercises and small changes you can incorporate into your daily routine. For example, shrugging and circling your shoulders whilst sitting and taking the stairs are easy ways to improve your back health – these may sound simple but I know from my patients that they really work!”

Chris’s top tips to help local residents to prevent and manage neck and back pain are:

  • Take a break: When sitting for long periods of time, ensure you stand up and move around every 30 minutes. When at work, also make sure your desk is set up to support a comfortable position. This is different for everyone so if you don’t feel comfortable in your current set up, try altering the height of your chair or screen.
  • Keep on moving: Physical activity can be beneficial for managing back pain, however it’s important that if this is of a moderate to high intensity that you warm up and down properly to get your body ready to move! If a previous injury is causing you pain, adapt your exercise or seek some advice. Activities such as swimming, walking or yoga can be less demanding on your body while keeping you mobile!

Other things which you can bear in mind are:

  • Lifting and carrying: Remember to bend from the knees, not the waist when lifting heavy items. Face in the direction of movement, and take your time. Hold the object as close to your body as possible, and where you can avoid carrying objects which are too heavy to manage alone, ask for help or use the necessary equipment.
  • Sleep comfortably: The Sleep Council recommends buying a new mattress at least every 7 years. Mattresses lose their support over time, so if you can feel the springs through your mattress, or the mattress is no longer level, your mattress is no longer providing the support you need. Everyone has different support requirements, so when purchasing your mattress ensure it is supportive for you. If you share a bed and require different mattress types, consider two single mattresses which are designed to be joined together, to ensure you both get the support you need.
  • Straighten Up!: The BCA has created a programme of 3-minute exercises, Straighten Up UK, which can be slotted in to your daily schedule to help prevent back pain by promoting movement, balance, strength and flexibility in the spine

The BCA recommends that, if you are experiencing pain for more than a few days you should seek professional help, for example from a chiropractor, who can assess you and help you to get moving again without pain. You can book an appointment with our chiropractors Chris or Nick, by calling 01785 530911 in Stafford, or 01952 825042 in Newport. Alternatively you can book using our online diary.

We look forward to seeing you.

Yoga Pose Balance Chiropractic

Balance, coordination, spinal health and Chiropractic

In this blog, our Stafford and Newport chiropractor talks about the importance of balance and coordination, and how it can be an indicator of spinal and nervous system health.

Balance and coordination are vital to our normal everyday movements and a good quality of life.  If one or both of these areas are compromised, it can profoundly affect our strength, mobility and overall wellbeing.

There can be many reasons that your balance and coordination can be adversely affected, and if you do find that you are suffering with balance problems or changes in your coordination, it’s important that you are assessed thoroughly by an appropriate healthcare professional to rule out potential underlying medical causes. However, in this article I’m going to discuss how changes in balance and coordination can be affected by your spinal biomechanics; or in other words: problems with your back or neck.

As a chiropractor, I see lots of clients with back and neck problems, and we are experts in assessing and treating spinal conditions. It’s very common in my experience for clients to become biomechanically unstable after an injury i.e. unable to tolerate movements in the neck or low back without sharp pain or re-injury. Why do you think this is? Why does the body struggle to contract and engage the spinal and neck stabilisers when the muscles are still there? The answer lies in the nervous system.

The spinal structures, including the joints and the surrounding small muscles, ligaments and tendons are constantly sending messages to the brain via mechanoreceptors (nerve endings) which sense pressure, movement and stretch. This feedback is sent to the brain, which then combines it with input from various other areas (including visual and inner ear) and decides how best to stabilise the area and control coordination of movement. This subconscious awareness of position, stabilisation and coordination occurs thousands of times per second, and is often known as proprioception.

It is thought that acute injury or long term movement dysfunction issues (such as osteoarthritis), can disrupt or override this feedback mechanism and lead to further instability, injury or damage. It’s not surprising that a lot of clients I see with acute or chronic spinal issues have terrible balance and coordination. Chiropractic techniques, combined with appropriate exercises for balance and strength have been shown in various studies to help with improving proprioception.

If you need help, then come and see what our chiropractors in Stafford and Newport can do for you.

We look forward to seeing you.

Chris Mallett
Principal Chiropractor, Pure Health Chiropractic & Wellness (Stafford and Newport)

 

Yoga Image By Matthew Greenfield (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Why should you see a chiropractor?

With the likes of Google and social media readily available to most people, it’s fairly easy to find news and information about what chiropractors do nowadays. Despite this, I still see a surprising number of people who are unsure of the conditions we can help with and our level of skill, qualification, and competency.

Chiropractic is a health care profession concerned with the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disorders of the neuromusculoskeletal system and the effects of these disorders on general health (World Health Organisation, 2005).

In 2005 when I decided to train to become a chiropractor, I assumed that because it wasn’t seen as ‘mainstream’ medicine that it wouldn’t be too difficult. I was very wrong. As part of our training, we had to complete a four year full-time undergraduate Masters of Chiropractic degree which included extremely high standards of education in anatomy, neurology, physiology, radiology, psychology and general diagnosis. We also spent many, many (many!) hours learning specialised manual (hands-on) methods such as joint and soft tissue manipulation and exercise rehab. There were no weekend courses here!

In the final year, those that passed a stringent entrance exam worked within a training clinic for 12 months with the general public. We needed to see 40 new patients and perform 400 treatments within this time, as well as write up the cases and present them to tutors, attend lectures, revise for exams, write a dissertation and create a reflective portfolio. Then, after passing an even tougher clinic exit exam, you were considered as competent to go out into the wider world.

Completing the degree was really just the beginning though. Like all healthcare providers, chiropractors are always learning! Every year the General Chiropractic Council check that chiropractors continue their professional development (CPD), and that we have appropriate qualifications, adhere to competency and criminal records checks, and have professional indemnity insurance. All of this helps to ensure that patients are protected and get the best care possible.

In short, you should see a chiropractor because they know what they are doing. They safely help millions of people a year worldwide with their nerve, muscle or joint problems, and you can be re-assured that you are in good hands.

If you need help, then come and see what our chiropractors in Stafford and Newport can do for you. We look forward to seeing you.

Chris Mallett
Principal Chiropractor, Pure Health Chiropractic & Wellness (Stafford and Newport)

Is your sacro-iliac joint causing pain?

Is your Sacro-Iliac joint causing your back, hip or leg pain?

In this blog, our Stafford and Newport chiropractor talks about the Sacro-Iliac joint. But, what on earth is a sacro-iliac joint I hear you ask?

Well, the clue is in the name to a certain degree – it’s the joint that connects the sacrum at the base of the spine, to the ilium of the pelvis (hence sacro-iliac). It is essential in effectively distributing forces from the spine to the hips and lower limbs (and vice versa), but it can also be an often overlooked pain source in lower back injuries.

The sacro-iliac joint (or SIJ for short) is normally a fantastically strong and stable joint, and can tolerate amazing amounts of downward force to create stability when we lift or move. This stability is largely generated by well-controlled contraction of the surrounding muscles and tissue creating “closure” of the joint. Problems arise when this balance isn’t adequate, the joint is not sufficiently stable, and tissues or cartilage become damaged as a result. This can be acute (sudden) or could be chronic (long term and recurring), but in all cases it tends to hurt quite a lot.

Pain originating from the sacro-iliac joint is often confusing as it can be mistaken for injuries to other structures. For example, acute SIJ pain can often refer to the buttocks and down the back of the leg mimicking sciatica or disc symptoms. It could also refer to the groin and anterior thigh, mimicking hip arthritis. Or it could simply radiate to the spine, mimicking a facet joint issue.

Often with long term and recurrent problems, repeated flare-ups are caused by either too much movement (hypermobility) or too little movement (hypomobility) of the joint. Both can respond well to rehab and/or chiropractic adjustments and it is important to determine possible faulty muscle activation around the pelvis, and improve these as necessary.

In all cases, it is vital to get checked out by a qualified and experienced spinal professional such as a chiropractor. We will assess and treat not only the painful symptoms, but also look to address the underlying causes. Remember: Good spinal function is essential for movement; Good movement is essential for health; Chiropractic helps to maintain good spinal function.

If you need help, then come and see what chiropractic and massage can do for you. We look forward to seeing you.

Chris Mallett
Pure Health Chiropractic & Wellness – Stafford and Newport

Featured image by RadsWiki (RadsWiki) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons