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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

Chiropractic For Neck Pain

Can chiropractic help with neck pain?

Yes! Our chiropractors help patients overcome neck pain every day. Chiropractic is clinically proven to be of help with neck pain. Besides us getting excellent results for our clients in this area, here is what researchers have found:

A randomised controlled trial involving 183 patients with neck pain compared chiropractic, physiotherapy and general practitioner (GP) care (counselling, education and drug therapy) over 52 weeks. The study found that chiropractic resulted in faster recovery than physiotherapy or GP care. As well as this, it was found that the total cost of chiropractic over the other therapies was about one-third of the other interventions.

— Korthals-de Bos et al (2003), Cost effectiveness of physiotherapy, manual therapy, and general practitioner care for neck pain: economic evaluation alongside a randomised controlled trial, British Medical Journal

A study involving 272 participants evaluated the effectiveness of chiropractic vs. pain medications or exercise recommendations. After 12 weeks, 57% of those who received chiropractic care had a 75% reduction in pain, compared to 33% of the medication group. After 12 months, 53% of the drug-free groups reported at least a 75% reduction in pain, compared to just a 38% pain reduction from those on medication.

— Bronfort et al. (2012), Effectiveness of manual therapies: the UK evidence report, Annals of Internal Medicine

 So how does it work?

Chiropractic works for neck pain by removing blockages in the cervical (neck) spine, which can lead to surrounding muscle tension and pain. When the joints are not moving freely, it can cause inflammation and tightness around the site. As well as moving the joints back into alignment, our chiropractors will help to release the surrounding muscles to help relieve pain in the area.

But, it’s not always about the neck. The shoulders and lower back can also play a role in neck pain, due to the resulting misalignment. Our chiropractors will look at the whole body and will also give you some basic stretches to do at home to help relieve the situation.

Will I need X-rays?

Our chiropractors will likely order X-rays to look at your spine. X-Rays allow our chiropractors to pick up any structural abnormalities, degradation or other issues that could be contributing to your neck pain. Getting a diagnosis for your pain is important, as we don’t want to just treat the symptoms.

How long will it take to get better?

Most patients begin to notice changes in their neck pain in the first couple of weeks of treatment. To correct the problem may however take several months, depending on the severity. Initially your body will need more treatment to respond, then as things stabilize, your treatments will become less frequent.

What about massage?

Massage can be an important factor in recovery for those with neck pain. We know that muscles and bones work together, so we offer all new chiropractic patients a complimentary 30 minute massage to evaluate the state of your muscles and recommend a course of treatment based on this.

You can make an appointment at our Brisbane clinic by calling 07 3367 0337 or using the online booking button below to make your own appointment online.

 

 

chiropractic and neck pain

Chiropractic Helps Get Babies Back On Track After Falls.

Posted by Naturopath Katherine Maslen

I wanted to share my experience with one of our chiropractors recently. My daughter, Luna, is 10 months old and had her first ever bad fall a couple of weeks ago.  To my horror she stood up on the edge of the bed and fell backwards and hit her head hard on the tiled floor. This was terrifying. As is common when babies take a hard head knock (especially on the base of the skull) she started to projectile vomit and needed to be taken to emergency to get checked out.

Thankfully after a few hours of observation we were sent home and Luna was given the all clear. The next morning I noticed that Luna had lost her balance – she was taking quite a few steps before and standing a lot, and suddenly she seemed to lose her balance just getting from sitting to crawling.

Naturally – the first thing I did was make an appointment with our chiropractor Dr. Tressa. Luna has been seeing Dr. Tressa since she was born and I had heard lots of positive stories about her treatment of babies with similar issues. On examination Dr. Tressa found that there were a few areas that were blocked up, most likely due to her fall. She gave Luna some super gentle treatment and said to give it 24 hours before I may notice any changes. The next day I immediately noticed improvements – for the first time since the fall Luna could stand up. She was still a bit wobbly but over the course of the next few days (and another treatment) she was back to her old self.

Luna is now walking everywhere! When your child goes backwards in their developmental milestones it is really worrying and I am so pleased that chiropractic could help her. Every now and again you’ll see some bad press about chiropractic for children but it couldn’t be further from the truth. In my experience, chiropractic is a safe, gentle and effective treatment for babies and children.

Thank you Dr. Tressa!

Crossing your legs – how bad is it really?

Posted by Dr. Tressa Fuss – chiropractor

People often ask me if crossing your legs is really bad for you.  They have been told that crossing your legs can lead to varicose veins. This is the case.  But it’s worse than just the vein damage… Your whole body is affected.

VEIN DAMAGE:

Your arteries (the blood vessels from your heart to the body) have the very powerful heart to pump your blood down the the feet. The veins (the blood vessels from the body to the heart) however use your calf muscles, which aren’t as strong, to push the blood back up.  They also have little valves inside to catch the blood as your leg muscles pump it up, to stop gravity taking it back down to the feet. The weight of one leg on the other compresses the tiny veins in your legs. Your body needs these veins open to ensure that the blood is able to be pumped back to your heart.  If they are squashed then the blood pools in your feet and calves which stretches the veins. The veins not only become more visible through the skin as they become bigger, crossing the legs makes the poor valves work way too hard and can cause irreversible damage.

SPINAL DAMAGE:

Your spine can also be injured by crossing your legs. To understand how, give this a try:

1. Sit down with the feet flat on the ground and put one hand on each hip.

2. Cross your legs with one knee over the other and feel what happens to your hips.

One hip will elevate and the other hip will lower as the pelvis twists to allow you to cross the legs. The more you sit like this, the more the body gets used to it and muscles will begin to hold you in that position even when you uncross the legs. The pelvis is a bit like the floor of your house, if it’s twisted or tilted, it’s hard to expect the walls will be straight and the roof on flat. Except in the case of your body, the walls are your spine and the roof is your head. If the pelvis is tilted the spine will curve and twist trying to keep the eyes parallel to the horizon.

The other problem is that if the floor is tilted, it usually means the foundations (your legs) are dodgy too. When the pelvic bones tilt, the muscles tighten and one leg gets pulled closer toward the body. This gives you a shorter leg on one side.  When you stand up, the body leans over that side causing even more change to the spinal curves, even up as high as the neck.

Any changes to your spinal curves causes an altered load bearing to the joints and increases your risk of wear and tear as well as pain and inflammation.

See the three pictures below.  The first is with uncrossed legs, the second is with legs crossed at the knees and the third is with one foot up on the opposite knee.  You can easily see how much the poor body has to try and compensate.  Hips are tilted, the spine is twisted and leaning off to the side, the neck is rotated and the head and shoulders are not level.  It affects the body the whole way up.  Imagine the imbalanced muscles, the uneven joint pressure, none of which is at all good!

chiropractor brisbane

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

Crossing the legs at the ankles is better but anything higher than that causes damage long term.  If you do need to cross the legs for a brief period (eg. modesty reasons when wearing a short skirt) make sure it is for as little as possible, get up often and make sure you swap legs consistently so that it’s not always the same leg on top.

Do you cross your legs much? Are you suprised to learn the effects?

Heat Therapy – How To Get Best Results

Posted by chiropractor Dr. Craig Buscomb.

The ice and heat debate is a never ending discussion.  Depending on what book you read or who you talk to, you will get different answers as to what is best and how to use them effectively.  Here is my take on heat therapy.

Heat therapy can have numerous benefits and has long been associated with comfort and relaxation.  However, it can provide both pain relief and healing benefits for injuries.  Heat is best used for sub-acute and chronic or long term conditions.

So how does it work? 

Heat therapy can help provide relief through several mechanisms:

Heat therapy dilates the blood vessels in the area.  This process increases the flow of oxygen and nutrients to the muscles and washes away the toxin build up, helping to heal the tissue and reduce pain.

Short term heat application will only penetrate a few mm’s.  Deeper tissue reactions are due to local reflexes and require more than 15 minutes of heat.

If mild heat is used it can decrease sensation of sensory nerve endings.  This means that applying heat to the area will decrease the transmission of pain signals to the brain and help relieve the discomfort.

Heat application also facilitates stretching the soft tissues around the spine, including muscles, connective tissues and adhesions.  As a result of this, there will be a decrease in stiffness as well as pain, with an increase in flexibility and overall feeling of comfort.

How to use heat therapy effectively

My suggestion for using heat therapy is to have a good heat source like a wheat bag, hot pack or a heat lamp.  My favorite thing to use is a wheat bag for its ease of use and safety (if you follow the instructions and heat it correctly).  If you are using a microwave to heat a wheat bag, make sure you put a cup of water in the microwave to avoid overheating the wheat.

When applying the heat I have found short bursts tend to work more effectively from a physiological perspective.  Apply the heat for 20min (to make sure it penetrates deeper tissues) them remove the heat for approximately 40 min before re-applying for a further 20min.  These short bursts will help bring two big rushes of fresh oxygenated and nutrient rich blood to the area to help speed up the healing process.  You can leave the heat on for longer, but applying it this way will give you the best physiological response.