Myotherapy Massage for the Treatment of Back Pain

There are many different types of back pain that can affect the way your body works, and the reality is that most of us will experience one form or another at some point in our lives. Unfortunately, we have been programmed to think that back pain is ‘normal’ and we just have to soldier on and cope with it. Whether it’s a short-term injury or a long-term issue, it can be debilitating and stop us in our tracks. But that doesn’t have to be the case.  

While back pain is common it definitely isn’t ‘normal’, nor does it have to be something that is a problem for us on a daily basis. Pain and movement restrictions we experience are our bodies way of telling us that there’s a problem that needs attention. If we only focus on pain management then the pain is going to return, or show up somewhere else in the body because we left the cause untreated.

 

 

Going deeper into the cause of back pain

Let’s look at it like this, imagine you wake up one night and your smoke alarm is going off. You aren’t going to go and open a window just to stop the alarm and leave it there? No, you will go and find the source of the fire and put it out (or at the very least call the fire brigade) because otherwise, your house is going to burn down. It is exactly the same with back pain.

Even if you have a chronic or long-standing injury or back condition, a myotherapist can help you live pain-free (or at least significantly reduced) and manage that condition so it has less effect on your daily life and capabilities. The aim of myotherapy massage is to get you back into enjoying life with less restrictions and less pain, rather than just existing and coping. Having back pain can be completely debilitating and impact every area of your life. The better tools you have to assess and treat problems with your body, the better and healthier your body will be now and long into the future.

Myotherapy vs. massage

Now don’t get me wrong, I love a good massage and usually, when I am on vacation it is one of the first things I hunt down. Massage therapy can be effective in giving temporary relief where back pain is concerned and allow you to relax overall, giving your body some space from the pain for a few days. The real magic happens when you go deeper into finding the cause of the problem, that’s what myotherapy does. Myotherapists have the diagnostic skills to assess your body and work out where the problem is originating from, not just where the symptoms and pain is occurring.

By understanding the cause we can work with you to provide relief from back pain, but also assist to help you understand your body and help you create changes to support your body back into balance and better working condition. While massage can make up part of your treatment, the real key difference is that a myotherapist takes the time to assess your body and find the treatment that will work for your situation.

I have seen so many clients over the years that thought their back pain was just something they had to live with and just get on coping with the pain. Most clients that I treat have a huge spectrum of trauma, pain, and injury to their backs and all of them have seen a significant change in the first session, with lowered pain, better movement capability and most importantly, hope.

A look into Myotherapy

In a myotherapy session, you can expect some initial assessments both in the form of questions about your movement and injury history and the type of pain you are experiencing. There will also be some orthopedic testing, all to understand the origin of the underlying problem.

Then a treatment plan is made to assist your body to address this dysfunction using a mixture of different techniques including; remedial massage techniques, Myofascial release, trigger point therapy, dry needling, cupping, taping, corrective exercise and education. These techniques are combined to achieve relief but also long-term change so you don’t have to experience chronic back pain coming back time and time again.

Back pain can be caused by many different things and can impact people uniquely, which is why treatment plans and outcomes are all tailored to the specific person and problem. The length of time and number of myotherapy treatments is typically determined in the initial consultation.

Myotherapy massage can assist your body to become better balanced and more stabilised, letting your body move more effectively and reduce the forces and problems that cause pain. Most of the solutions are simple, and through your treatment, we work with you to find the best ones for your body.

There is nothing better than the look in clients face when they realise that they don’t have to live with their chronic back pain any more. The realisation that they don’t have to live with their condition forever, that there is another alternative… This is the most rewarding feeling and what it’s all about.

 

Sarah Kenner, Remedial Massage Therapist and Myotherapist (musculoskeletal therapist) with over 9 years experience. 

To make an appointment with a myotherapist at Brisbane Natural Health, call us on 07 3367 0337 or click here to book online now.

 

Do you have a Histamine Intolerance?

Do you have a Histamine intolerance?

Do you experience unexplained headaches, migraines or symptoms like a runny nose or itchy mouth? How about hives, abdominal cramps or irregular menstrual cycles? Does your face flush or do you have difficulty regulating your body temperature? Are your symptoms improved after taking anti-histamines like Zyrtec? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you could have a histamine intolerance.

What is histamine?

Histamine is a chemical compound that is involved in the immune system response. It is often associated with seasonal allergies, food allergies, and symptoms like headaches, nasal congestion, sneezing and difficulties with breathing. Sometimes you may experience symptoms that aren’t associated with the environment, such as a runny nose, sneezing, itching after wine or certain foods like bananas, avocados or tomatoes.

Histamine has an important role where it helps the body to communicate with the brain, alert the immune system to a potential threat, and launch an inflammatory response. 

 

What is Histamine Intolerance?

Histamine intolerance can occur when the body is unable to break down histamine properly. One of the ways the body deals with histamine is through the Diamine Oxidase (DAO) enzyme which inactivates and metabolises histamine. 

If you don’t have enough DAO or its ineffective, histamine can be absorbed through the intestines causing a wide range of symptoms. The symptoms such as those in the list below can often occur following the consumption of foods and drinks that contain a large amount of histamine. 

Common Symptoms of Histamine Intolerance: 

  • Fatigue
  • Headaches/migraines, Anxiety
  • Difficulty falling asleep/easily woken
  • Sneezing, itching, nasal congestion
  • Abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting
  • Hives, tissue swelling
  • Difficulty breathing, vertigo, dizziness
  • Abnormal menstrual cycle
  • Vertigo/dizziness
  • Hypertension, 
  • Difficulty regulating body temperature
  • Irregular heart rate
 
There can be many reasons that cause an increase of Histamine or difficulty breaking down Histamine. Some of these include allergies, digestive imbalances or damage, enzyme deficiency, or a diet too high in histamine-containing foods. 

Can you test for Histamine Intolerance?

The good news is your Naturopath can organise a lab test for histamine and DAO levels. A high ratio of histamine/DAO signifies that you may be consuming too much histamine and that you may not have enough DAO to break it down.

How do you reduce Histamine Intolerance?

To combat this, your Naturopath would look at your lifestyle and diet factors, aiming to boost your enzymes and minimise the histamine load. 

 

Working with a Naturopath will enable you to find out what the root cause for your histamine intolerance is, and your Naturopath will be able to design a personalised dietary or supplement protocol to help restore balance to your body and to your symptoms.

Sore muscles after exercising: Is it normal?

Having delayed onset muscle soreness is common after exercise but it’s nothing to be alarmed about. It usually means that your muscles are getting stronger. 

Mild soreness is a natural occurrence after any kind of physical activity most frequently experienced in the beginning stages of a program. Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, also known as DOMS is a common result of physical activity as our muscles go through quite a bit of physical stress when we exercise. 

A common result of physical activity causes tissue to stress beyond what it’s accustomed to. It’s perfectly normal to experience this discomfort between 24-48 hours post activity and it can be the body’s signal to the brain that it needs a rest. 

DOMS occurs when the muscle is performing an eccentric contraction or lengthening contraction. For example, running downhill or the lengthening portion of a bicep curl. During this action, a small microscopic tear occurs in the muscle – this creates damage to the muscle fibres. The aches and pains are a result of this and indicate that the muscles are adapting to a new fitness program or regime.      

 

5 Easy tips to speed up recovery and reduce DOMS:

Get more sleep

Sleep deprivation can have significant negative effects on recovery for all performance levels. 

Drink plenty of water

Exercising while dehydrated can cause greater damage to muscles and reduce the body’s ability to repair itself. Water is usually enough for most individuals looking to replenish fluids. 

Make foam rolling your friend

Rolling out muscles with a foam roller or spikey ball can help remove knots and prevent muscle imbalances from forming. 

Gentle stretching

When muscles are in recovery mode they tend to tighten up which leads to feelings of soreness. Slow, gentle stretching of the area will relive that tight feeling and diffuse pain. 

Light massage

Massaging a sore muscle can help reduce tightness while promoting blood flow which will help speed recovery and shorten the duration of DOMS.

 

 

 

 

Dry Needling

Dry Needling specifically treats musculoskeletal pain. A fine, single-use needle is inserted into a dysfunctional muscle with the aim of returning it to its optimal state. Studies have shown there to be a localised increase in blood flow and a release of endorphins as soon as a needle is inserted; both positive reactions to reduce pain and dysfunction.

What is a trigger point?

A trigger point is a contraction in a tight band of muscle which causes pain when palpated or squeezed, in a specific site and/or referring to other areas of the body. Trigger points can cause symptoms such as numbness, tingling, weakness, or lack of normal range of movement.

Dry Needling Vs Acupuncture?

It is important to know that Acupuncture and Dry Needling are two very distinct modalities. Dry needling is based upon the western medicine paradigm.

It is used for soft tissue correction, which involves inserting extremely fine and painless needles into muscle fibres, causing a local twitch response. This, in turn, helps to deactivate and resolve trigger points in the muscle and release constriction. Acupuncture, on the other hand, is based on the principles of traditional Chinese medicine and the stimulation of Qi (pronounce Chi).

Acupuncture diagnoses using complex theories, meaning only a qualified and registered Acupuncturist or Chinese Medicine practitioner can treat with Acupuncture. Many health professionals utilise Dry Needling as a method for the treatment of musculoskeletal pain, including Myotherapists, Physiotherapists, Podiatrists and even some GP’s.

Acupuncture

Acupuncture began in China more than 2000 years ago and has been a major part of their health care system ever since. It involves fine, single-use needles being inserted into very specific points along the body’s meridians which are found on every corner of the body including the hands, feet, and head. The individual points have a specific function and are chosen depending on the condition being treated.

Acupuncture helps conditions based on symptoms using ancient Chinese theories. These theories aim to achieve wellness and to restore balance throughout the body.
The techniques are gentle and the practitioner spends quality time with the client to ensure a positive experience occurs.

Perimenopause & Menopause

Being female and getting to your mid to late forties means you may be starting to wonder what menopause is going to be like for you. Will you suffer from the dreaded hot flushes, mood swings and weight gain or will you cruise through the change of life gracefully? The answer to this question will be different for each woman depending on her genetics, stress levels throughout life, any other medical conditions, surgeries and any hormonal issues throughout the fertile years. The important thing to remember is that menopause will be much easier if you take care of your body and adrenal glands in particular during your thirties and forties.

Menopause is a time of hormonal transition, as the ovaries gradually stop functioning and cyclically producing reproductive or sex hormones. Perimenopause signifies the start of this transition phase and can last several years prior to actual menopause.

Signs you could be going through perimenopause include:

  • Highly variable hormone fluctuations
  • Cycles becoming, shorter, longer or totally irregular
  • Bleeding becoming lighter, unpredictable or heavy.

Menopause is defined once a woman has ceased having a period of at least 12 months. Most women will reach menopause between the ages of 45 and 55 and still have over a third of their lives to live beyond that, so it’s important to manage this transition in the least stressful way possible. The severity and duration of menopause symptoms vary greatly and may include:     

  • Hot flushes & night sweats
  • Bloating and or weight gain
  • Crawling and itchy skin
  • Headaches or migraines
  • Sore breasts
  • Fatigue
  • Urinary problems
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Mood swings/anxiety/depression
  • Low libido
  • Brain fog or memory problems

Aside from these symptoms once a woman has been through menopause, she is more susceptible to stress on other organs and systems including the heart and cardiovascular system, bones, thyroid, adrenal glands, pancreas, pituitary and nervous system. Once menopause occurs and the ovaries have ceased function, the female body now relies on the adrenal glands for the production of sex hormones to assist health, stamina, and vitality throughout the rest of life. The adrenal glands are also responsible for stress hormone production throughout life and this is why it’s so important to manage the stress response in middle age to make the transition into menopause smoother.

What must be remembered is that menopause is a normal process of life. This transition is part of natural ageing and as with most health conditions, prevention is better than cure. To help make the transition through menopause smoother, put practices into place early in life to ensure optimal hormonal, nervous system and cardiovascular health.

Natural Menopause Treatment

If you are experiencing perimenopause or the symptoms of menopause, the good news is, most of the time hormone replacement therapy is not necessary. There are herbal, nutritional and lifestyle supports that can help reduce unwanted symptoms and help you continue to live a full and vital life. Pairing some useful natural therapies with the right diet is very effective in helping to ease menopausal symptoms.

Dealing with menopause can be an incredible stress on your life. At Brisbane Natural Health we love working with women during this transition, helping them to regain their energy, balance their moods and get back living a life that they love. Call us on 07 3367 0337 and make an appointment with a naturopath or acupuncturist at our Brisbane clinic to help.

Be patient with your body – it takes time to heal.

Being unwell can be so frustrating, especially when you’re not exactly sure what is happening in your body. The question that everyone asks us is ‘how long will it take until I get better’? Although we can give you approximate time frames of how long you might take to heal, there is no way to know for sure because everyone is unique – and each person has their own set of circumstances that can affect their healing time.

Some of the things that can affect how quickly you heal from a certain ailment include:

  • Your genetics
  • If you’re eating the right diet
  • How stressed you are
  • If you’re getting enough sleep
  • How long you have had the illness for
  • What your lifestyle is like – exercise, relaxation, self care
  • How well you can stick to your treatment plan

You need to look back to see how far you have come.

At the beginning of treatment, changes are often more noticeable – you can feel remarkably different in the first weeks and really feel the shift. As time goes on though, changes are often slower and can be less noticeable. Quite commonly we get patients in their 3rd or 4th month or treatment that report that they don’t really fell very different, but when you look back at where they started and compare symptoms you can clearly see that they are much better off then when they started. What can be unnoticeable to the patient can be obvious for the practitioner – that’s why it is important that the right questions are asked and the right tests are undertaken to make sure we can track your progress along the way.

You need to look back to see what changes have really been made.

You’re not called a patient for nothing!

A mentor of mine, master herbalist Kerry Bone, often says to his frustrated patients ‘you’re not called a patient for nothing’. Healing takes time and you do need to be patient as your body does its thing. A good adage is that for every year that you have had a certain condition or ailment it is going to take at least one month to correct it. If you have been bloated since you were a teen and you’re now 30 then you’ll likely need 15 months of treatment to get to the bottom of it. It is important to understand that healing takes time and persistence, and as long as you are giving your body the right combination of treatment, food and lifestyle factors then you will heal.

Some symptoms will resolve within weeks whereas others may take months or even years. It helps to remember that it took some time for your body to get into this state and it is going to take some time to unravel the damage and get it back to health.

 

If you have any questions about your treatment plan, please ask your naturopath, acupuncturist or case manager who will be able to talk about your individual case.

Primary Dysmenorrhea: A Traditional Chinese Approach to Period Pain

Amongst the multitude of treatment options for those experiencing primary dysmenorrhea (period pain which is not attributed to any other pathology such as: endometriosis, fibroids etc.), traditional Chinese medicine and the complimentary medicine approach excels in the management and treatment of symptoms.

From the western perspective, primary dysmenorrhea is one of the most prevalent and disabling gynecological disorders with no identifiable aetiology. It is a disorder which is said to incur an economic impact on a global scale, with an estimated 600 million work hours and 2 billion dollars lost annually in the USA alone. One study recorded as many as 50% of women were affected by primary dysmenorrhea and another 10% experiencing symptoms severe enough to render them incapacitated.

Despite this, other than ruling out secondary dysmenorrhea, the conventional medical approach can offer little insight to its origin. The level of understanding with regard to causative factors from a TCM point of view is more comprehensive in comparison.

In TCM gynecology, the Liver organ and Penetrating vessel, also known as the Chong Mai, are crucial in the free flow of Qi and Blood. Free flow = a painless existence.

The Chong Mai flows through the uterus and is also known as the sea of blood.

Acupuncture

Acupuncture reduces pain in women with dysmenorrhea

Acupuncture, Tui Na (Chinese remedial massage) and Chinese herbs work to harmonise the flow of Qi and Blood in the uterus by treating meridians on the body. There are however, plenty of things that we can do to ensure free flow without even getting to the point of disease! A diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods, an abundance of physical activity and relaxation exercises, nourishing sleep habits and an avoidance of drugs and alcohol will all benefit the Chong Mai and help to keep the menstrual cycle in balance. This also applies to the treatment of subfertility with Chinese medicine. A healthy cycle is a good way to ensure a healthy pregnancy.

Many women are led to believe that it is quite normal to have a huge amount of pain during menstruation and that it is normal to pop a few pain killers or take oral contraceptives to avoid this. According to the old Chinese texts, this is only a modern pathology. Normal periods are pain free and regular in length.

Conventional medicine, although efficient in its pharmacotherapy, lacks the availability of a lasting solution for primary dysmenorrhea and a youth of periods spent fighting pain with prescription medication or pain killers, often leading to undiagnosed complications with fertility, is pretty common unfortunately.

There is a stack of research out there that shows the efficacy of acupuncture and Chinese herbs in dramatically improving the quality of life and level of pain that women are experiencing. Generally, studies show the best results are had over a 3 month treatment regime for chronic cases. The added benefit of an individualised diagnosis and treatment, is that the effects are seen on a more than symptomatic level. Accompanying symptoms such as referred lower back pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, headache, fatigue, anxiety, and dizziness were also alleviated from acupuncture. TCM treatment is also found to have lasting effects on pain relief of up to a 3-6 month follow up period.

Hugh Hayward – Chinese Medicine Doctor, Acupuncture & Chinese Herbalist, An Mo Tui Na and Qi Nei Tsang

Sciatica

Many people have heard of the term sciatica, however it is a very commonly misused and misunderstood term. It covers more than just leg or back pain and can become quite debilitating if left untreated.

Sciatica is actually a group of symptoms and not a diagnosis in itself. The technical meaning of sciatica is dysfunction of the sciatic nerve caused by other spinal structures starting at the nerve root.

This means that actual sciatic pain comes from the nerves that exit the spine, typically at the base above the pelvis (L5-S1), and is most often caused by one of the following:

• Lumbar subluxation (malposition of a joint)
• Lumbar disc herniation
• Degenerative disease
• Spondylolisthesis (where one vertebrae is sitting forward over another)
• Spinal stenosis (where the passage that the spinal chord sits is narrowed)
• And a few others.

The pain associated with sciatica is typically a shooting ‘nerve’ pain that travels quickly down the leg. It often travels down the back of the thigh, past the knee and towards the ankle.

One cause that is a little different from the others is called Piriformis Syndrome. The piriformis is a muscle in the area at the back of the pelvis and in about 15% of the population, the sciatic nerve actually runs through this muscle. That means that when the piriformis is tight or inflamed, it can cause sciatic symptoms even though it’s affecting the nerve further from the spine compared to other more typical causes.

Sciatica

Many people experience sciatic pain differently and may need varying types of treatment. Chiropractic should really be one of the first choices when deciding what to do about your potential sciatica. This is because it’s non-invasive, natural and effective for many cases. The way chiropractic works to reduce sciatica is by decreasing the stress on the nerves at the base of the spine by making sure that each spinal segment is positioned and moving as it should be.

Exercising, along with chiropractic adjustments, is also paramount in the treatment of sciatica. Chiropractic is great for taking stress off the nervous system and helping spinal flexibility, but doing core exercises will help keep your lower back strong and supportive between adjustments at the beginning of treatment and long into the future when you’re maintaining your spinal health.

If your case needs further investigation, our chiropractors at Brisbane Natural Health will help to guide you in the right direction so you can address the issue in a timely manner.

Dr Beau Billett – Bachelor of Applied Science (Chiropractic), Masters of Clinical Chiropractic

Getting to know your body

Let’s talk about getting to know your own body and what’s right for you.
A lot of patients come to us and they are really out of touch with their bodies. I would like to explore the concept that signs and symptoms are your body’s way of telling you that something’s wrong. When you get bloated, tired, have skin problems or anxiety, these symptoms are your body’s way of saying ‘I am out of balance and I need help’.

What we actually want to do is retrain you so that you can start listening and tuning in to your own body. And the first step is getting back to normal. So once we’ve actually resolved these symptoms and things are going well and you are feeling good again, you’ll start to notice when things go out of whack.

The trick is to really observe your body, instead of ignoring it. We are very stoic in Australia – you are taught if you have a symptom just ignore it. For example, if you have a sore tummy, someone might say to you, “oh you’ll be fine”. You probably think that these symptoms are minor and there’s nothing major going on. We are taught to just deal with it and ‘suck it up’. The problem is that when you do that, you really are ignoring your body’s language and you’re not really listening to the clues that it is out of balance and it needs help.

A good example would be when you have a cold or flu. Before you get a cold, there are these little warning signs that tell you that the immune system’s going down. You might feel tired, a little bit achy, might be having an off day but it’s not until the symptoms come that you think,” Oh I really didn’t feel that well the last few days”. Then you start getting a running nose and at that point you do something about it. You may try to get some more rest; you might take vitamin C or take a day off work.

Imagine if, when those early warning signs – when you started feeling achy and a little run down – you took vitamins and looked after yourself, the outcome would be that you may not even get the cold. Or perhaps you might not have it for as long or the severity may be minimalized. We really need to start tuning back in and listening to our bodies. So start observing, because when you do, you’ll know what’s going on and what’s happening to your body.

As you are going through the healing process and you start feeling better and better, remember what it feels like to feel good. And recall when you didn’t feel so good. If you do start feeling a bit off again, ask yourself what’s going on. Do I need to change my diet? Do I need to rest more? Do I need to check back with my practitioner in these early stages so that I can get on top of this and feel good again?