Is your Sacro-Iliac joint causing your back pain?

What on earth is a sacro-iliac joint I can almost hear you ask?

Well, the clue is in the name – 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 low back pain injuries.

The sacro-iliac joint (or SI joint 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 SI joint 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 spinal 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 or poor muscle activation around the pelvis, and improve these as necessary.

Chiropractic assessment

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.

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)

Back bend

The hips don’t lie

One of the things I may ask my clients to do when I assess them is to try and bend forward to touch their toes (if they can), or perform a simple body weight squat.

Despite appearances, this isn’t really to test tightness of the hamstrings or flexibility of the spine, (although we do look at that as well). Instead, I’m particularly looking at the mobility and coordination of certain parts of the body as they progress through the ranges of motion.

Our bodies are amazing. From birth, we develop an innate ability to move in complex neuro-muscular patterns without even thinking about it. For example, if you watch a toddler playing or picking things up, they will often squat or bend over for long periods of time without any movement restriction and with immaculate form. No-one has taught them that – it’s an inherent and fundamental movement. Unfortunately, as we progress through life, these movements can become “corrupted” by factors such as posture, injury, and a general lack of mobility.

To move well, some areas of the body need stability and others need mobility. The feet, knees, low back, and shoulder blades for example, need to stay stable as a base for the more mobile joints such as the shoulders, thoracic spine, hips and ankles. If one or more of these areas becomes too mobile, or not mobile enough, then other areas have to compensate.

Rehab

The hips in particular, are prone to losing mobility largely due to the amount of time we spend being sedentary. When we sit for long periods, our hips are in a shortened, flexed position, and our spinal and abdominal stabilisers are mostly inactive. This can often combine to cause “switching off” of the gluteals (which are vital to optimal hip coordination), restricted hip mobility (important for relaxed, efficient forward bending and squatting), and poor abdominal/spinal muscle activation (important for stability). The end result can be a loss of the ability to “hinge” through the hips in a relaxed, coordinated way when squatting or bending, whilst still keeping your spinal stabilisers engaged. Over time, this can cause poor movement patterns and increased tension in areas such as the low back and hamstrings, often leading to an increased likelihood of getting injuries and pain.

How do you fix any problems you may have? Come and see us, so that we can assess your posture and movement, and can help you to restore normal function through education, manual therapy and corrective exercises.

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)

Text neck chiropractic

What is “text neck”?

It’s an all too common scene that I’m sure we’ve all seen before: people standing in a queue; in the office; or even walking down the street with their head forward and down.

Their eyes are transfixed on the screen of their smart phone, texting furiously as if their lives depended on it. It’s become such a part of our lives that it’s now seen as normal. But, is this modern day phenomena causing us more harm than good? Yes, maybe, is the short answer. There’s even a term for it: “text neck” – and long term it could lead to all sorts of problems.

Essentially, “text neck” is a new-fangled term for yet another postural syndrome. Postural problems aren’t new; they’ve always been around (and always will be). However, with our modern obsession with smart phones, the prolonged forward head carriage posture we often see with computer, desk or laptop use is becoming far more prevalent in general everyday life. This is particularly true of teenagers and school kids who often seem to have their phones glued to their face.

Why is this important? Posture is talked about all the time in the health professions, and blamed for a whole host of problems. There’s a reason for this – good posture puts less stress on muscles, joints, discs and vital organs! Although the human body is a fantastically adaptive and tolerant structure, if you have poor posture for long enough, then sooner or later it will start to show symptoms. There’s nothing good about the body adapting to a non-neutral forward head posture (FHP). Prolonged FHP can lead to premature disc and joint degeneration, pinched nerves, muscle pain, decreased respiratory capacity and changes to the curvatures of your entire spine. Once a poor postural pattern is set in, movements can become dysfunctional and follow us into everyday activities, including exercise. This is when further injuries can occur, often seemingly unrelated to your neck.

Chiropractic assessment

How do you fix it? Come and see us, so that we can assess your posture and movement, and can help you to restore normal function through education, manual therapy and corrective exercises.

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)

Featured Image By Helar Lukats, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=48993365

Chiropractic can help your back pain

“I’ve got Sciatica!”

As an experienced chiropractor, I am frequently presented with the phrase ‘I’ve got sciatica’. But did you know that ‘sciatica’ isn’t really a diagnosis?

‘Sciatica’ is a term that loosely describes any injury in the low back that causes pain down the legs or buttocks. It is derived from the name of the largest and longest nerve in that region: the sciatic nerve.

There are also different types of sciatica. True sciatica (also known as neurogenic or radicular pain) is typically caused by an injury to a spinal (intervertebral) disc, and can lead to irritation or damage to the nearby spinal nerves which then form the sciatic nerve. This frequently leads to pain in a particular pattern down the leg, often past the knee, and can also be accompanied by pins and needles, sensation changes and muscle weakness. Usually the leg pain is far worse than the back pain.

Non-radicular sciatica (or referred pain) is much more common and is caused by an injury in the muscles, joints or ligaments of the back which then radiates pain into the buttock and/or leg. This typically stays above the knee and doesn’t cause symptoms such as pins and needles or loss of strength (although severe pain may cause weakness). The back pain is generally worse than the leg pain.

In all cases it is essential to get a diagnosis with suitable treatment and advice as soon as possible.

As chiropractors, we are experts in assessing and treating these types of injuries so that the most appropriate treatment, education or referral can be given. The most important step is to take a detailed case history, and perform a thorough neurological and orthopaedic examination, prior to any treatment plan.

Most people respond well to treatment. Once a certain level of improvement has been achieved, appropriate exercises will be offered to help stabilise the spine and take control of your health. Depending on your circumstances, regular chiropractic care and exercises may be recommended to help to maintain spinal function, so that in the long term the problem is less likely to return.

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)

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.

Subscribe for more content from Pure Health Chiropractic & Wellness for more advice, exercises, and product reviews:

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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.

Chiropractic can help your back pain

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.