What We Treat Conditions that Osteopathy can treat:
Neck pain and related symptoms such as headaches
Associated with arthritis
Hip, knee and ankle problems
Symptoms associated with postural changes during pregnancy
Repetitive strain injuries
Lower back pain:
The lower back is anatomically referred to as the Lumbar spine. This is a common problem that Osteopaths treat.
What causes lower back pain? The causes are many and varied ranging from simple postural strains from slouching at home or work, to sports injuries, pain from arthritis, gardening injuries, lifting….and the list goes on.
Lower back pain can often be very painful and debilitating particularly if involving a facet joint (the bony joints of our vertebrae) or an intervertebral disc (the cartilage between our vertebrae which act as shock absorbers) and if muscle spasm is also present.
Sometimes, just a simple change in the pattern of your lifestyle can be enough to strain your lower back, such as taking up a new hobby or being less active than usual.
Causes can also be more complex and can involve compensations for pain or stiffness in other areas of the body.
Poor core strength can also predispose a patient to lower back pain and can lead to recurrence of lower back pain if not addressed. Research has shown that when someone has suffered with lower back pain, the core muscles can stop working properly and therefore need to be retrained through specific exercises.
Core muscles don’t only stabilise the spine and help to maintain good posture, they also control the amount of pressure that is exerted on our intervertebral discs and nerve roots and are therefore very important muscles.
Upper and mid back pain:
The upper and mid back is referred to as the Thoracic spine.
What causes upper and mid back pain?
The Thoracic spine is often under a lot of strain from poor posture, particularly from sitting slumped in front of a computer or television for long periods of time, therefore postural strain is a common cause of pain in this area.
Often a patient with a postural strain will describe pain as an ache or burning in nature that tends to get worse as the day goes on or the more that they sit. Pain that is sharp in nature may be due to a strain to the facet joint/s between the thoracic vertebrae or to the costo-vertebral joints where the ribs meet the spine, pain from the latter is often experienced on deep inhalation or exhalation and can also cause pain in the chest. Obviously chest pain can have more sinister causes such as problems with the heart and should be reported to your general practitioner.
The term sciatica is used to describe pain that travels along the path of the sciatic nerve (left or right or both) in the buttock, the rear or side of the thigh/lower leg and into the foot. Lower back pain can also be experienced but it is possible to experience sciatica without having any low back pain. Other symptoms from sciatica can be pins and needles, numbness or weakness and sometimes patients may report a sensation of water running down their leg.
Each Sciatic nerve is formed from 5 nerve roots (from the lower back and pelvis) and compression/irritation to any of these nerve roots or to the sciatic nerves themselves can cause sciatica.
Sciatica only describes symptoms but not their cause. A good case history and examination can help determine whether the sciatica is most likely due to a disc bulge or prolapse for example, or from a tight piriformis muscle (a muscle in the buttock) or other. This diagnosis is important as it guides your treatment plan.
Often referred to as a pulled muscle.
Fibers of a muscle tear if overstretched or overexerted.
There may be bruising and swelling present. The aim of treatment as always is to speed up the healing process but you may also be advised to avoid activities that would exert the injured muscle further.
In addition, a treatment regime known as R.I.C.E may be advised; R= rest, I = Ice, C = compression and E = elevation. This helps to reduce inflammation and speeds up healing further.
Poor posture puts the body under physical strain. This can be brought about by slumping in front of a computer, protruding the head to look through varifocal glasses or to get closer to a computer screen. Sitting with feet up often causes the spine to slump as with reading in bed or watching television. Being pregnant affects the body’s posture as can compensating for another problem such as a painful hip or knee.
Treatment is aimed at relieving the strained tissues through manual therapy but also postural advice will be given. When thought to be due to a compensation for a problem elsewhere, this, when possible is also addressed otherwise symptoms are likely to recur.
In addition to treatment and postural advice, exercises are often prescribed to help symptoms but also to help strengthen muscles, making it easier to maintain good posture.
The muscles of the neck are often put under strain from poor posture. They can also be aggravated with carrying a bag on one side, having a computer monitor or television offset to the left/ right or holding a phone between one ear and shoulder.
Neck pain from wear and tear such as from degenerative changes associated with Osteoarthritis or Cervical Spondylosis often is noticed initially as difficulty looking over a shoulder in a car. Patients may also experience pain on looking upwards which pinches the joints in the neck and sometimes the nerves (the latter often referred to as a trapped nerve).
Trapped nerves in the neck can cause pain to radiate into the shoulders or into either/ both arms/hands (Brachialgia) and this may be accompanied with one or any combination of the following; pins and needles, numbness and weakness.
Pain that radiates into the shoulder from a trapped nerve in the neck can often be confused for a shoulder problem but from a good case history and examination, it should be possible to determine the cause of the pain. On some occasions, shoulder and neck problems can co-exist often when a shoulder injury has led to the trapezius muscle which is shared by the shoulder and the neck, being overworked.
Despite its name, tennis elbow is not just caused through playing tennis.
This is a condition where pain is experienced on the outer side aspect of the elbow. This is where the common extensor tendon (a shared tendon for several muscles in the forearm which move your wrist/fingers backwards) originates from a bony prominence on the outer side of the elbow called the lateral epicondyle. Overuse of this tendon can cause inflammation of the tendon itself and of the lateral epicondyle to which it is attached.
Repetitive activities at work or home such as typing, manual work, playing an instrument, DIY or too much gardening (using secateurs too much as an example) can all cause tennis elbow. Tennis elbow is also common when performing activities that you are unaccustomed to.
Treatment for tennis elbow may include massage and acupuncture. Advice for self treating at home is essential to speed up your recovery. Avoiding or reducing/modifying the provoking activity should also help in your recovery.