Health In The Bay – AILMENTS – Structural
The structural components of our body are the bones, joints, muscles and nerves controlling them. We are regularly putting strain on our bodies’ through sports and activities, as well as sustained poor postures, commonly due to work. As such, there is a huge potential for injuries to occur to our structure, and most people experience some symptoms such as pain, during their life. Some structural issues can be quite serious and debilitating, but luckily most are not, and can be readily helped using treatments such as Chiropractic, Remedial Massage or Acupuncture. At Health In The Bay we see very many cases and a wide variety of structural problems, and our practitioners work together to determine the best treatment for each individual.
This is pain that usually comes on suddenly and has been experienced for a short period of time ie days. Acute pain is often due to an injury or a sudden muscular spasm. An injury could be either something serious such as a fractured bone or torn ligament or muscle. Or something less serious such as a sprain or strain to a muscle or to ligaments of a joint, commonly of the spine , or knees or ankles, but it can occur in any joint. Acute pain at a spinal joint is often either due to the ligaments at the joint being strained or sprained, or due to muscles around these joints suddenly spasming in reaction to the joints being inflamed. Signs of acute injury include sudden, severe pain, swelling, not being able to move a joint as normal, not able to weight-bear (if lower limb) or very tender upper limb, or extreme leg or arm weakness
Acute pain can respond well to gentle treatment (except if it’s a fracture). Chiropractic can be very effective if the underlying cause is some structural imbalance that puts strain on the joints and muscles. Massage Therapy and Acupuncture can also be very effective for muscle strains and spasms. By balancing these structures, there will be less strain on muscles and joints, thereby reducing the pain and allowing it to heal.
Pain that has been evident for weeks to months is considered chronic. It can be pain that came on suddenly or gradually.
Signs of a chronic injury include, pain when you play sport or exercise, a dull ache when you rest and swelling.
Similarly to acute pain, chronic pain can respond well to treatment. Chiropractic can be very effective if the underlying cause is some structural imbalance that puts strain on the joints and muscles. Massage Therapy and Acupuncture can also be very effective for muscle strains and tight or shortened muscles. By balancing these structures, there will be less strain on muscles and joints, thereby reducing the pain and allowing it to return to normal. Since chronic pain has had a longer history, it will generally take longer to resolve with treatment, than an acute injury.
Recurrent injuries are those that occur time and again, with the same site of pain and often the same pattern of pain, and can be due to sport, an accident or work. This can occur for 3 main reasons: 1-incorrect technique or equipment/shoes when exercising: 2- some imbalance in the body’s physical structure which puts a constant mild strain on the joints and muscles and hence predisposes them to injury; or 3- exerting too much force on the back, repetitive movements, and abnormal posture contribute to muscle fatigue and injury.
Recurrent injuries are most common in athletes and school children, while the injury varies by sport. Football players have the highest rate of recurrent injuries, and girls are more prone to recurrent injuries than boys. Ankles, knees, shoulders, and head are most prone to recurrent injuries. Work related recurrent injuries most often affect the neck and back. There are a few things that can be done to help minimise re-injuring yourself such as being aware of work postures and lifting techniques, and likewise at the gym. If needed it is advisable to speak to a trainer at your gym or OHS department at work to get the best advice on technique.
To further minimise injury and re-injury, your structure can be realigned and balanced with some Chiropractic care. This involves gentle techniques that align the spine and other joints, including knees ankles and shoulders, and allows your body to be strong and resilient.
A headache is pain anywhere in the region of the head or neck. They are reasonably common, and can be due to a number of causes. Most are benign, but even though, having to live with regular headaches can put a strain on life, relationships and sleep, and can even result in depression. Some causes are more serious, so if you have sudden onset, unexplained, and/or severe pain you should see a medical practitioner to rule out anything serious.
A common cause is musculoskeletal, which could be tight muscles in a number of areas incl shoulders, neck or jaw; grinding teeth; poor posture – often associated with stress. Musculoskeletal issues can also be due to past injuries including whiplash; concussion or contusions. Other causes can be related to sinus/allergies; hormones; or liver/gallbladder issues.
Chiropractic is very effective in reducing muscle tension in neck shoulders and upper back, all of which can cause headaches. Chiropractic is helpful to improve whiplash injury, by rebalancing the spinal structure of the neck and hence help the soft tissue to heal. A chiropractic cranial (skull) technique is a gentle release of the skull, and is helpful after having a bump to the head. These are all done with gentle low force techniques to rebalance the spine and muscles around the head and neck. Any jaw or TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint) issues are regularly improved with chiropractic care addressing the skull.
Chiropractic is also effective in improving posture, which is important for keeping the spine balanced.
Acupuncture can help with reducing stress which helps relieve tension. It can also rebalance the physiology of the body and improve function of body systems, including the liver, gall bladder, hormones etc which can all be a factor in headaches, with the use of acupuncture and sometimes herbs.
A Nutritionist will also help you improve how efficiently and effectively your body functions, and address hormone imbalances, by addressing your diet, and possibly determining any areas of deficiency or imbalance, and rectifying with nutrients.
Posture is the position in which you hold your body upright against gravity while standing, sitting or lying down. Good posture involves having your body in positions where the least strain is placed on supporting muscles and ligaments. This has a number of benefits including: keeping bones and joints in the correct alignment allowing muscles to be used properly; helping decrease the abnormal wearing of joint; decreasing the stress on the ligaments around the joints; preventing the spine from becoming fixed in abnormal positions; preventing fatigue because muscles are being used more efficiently, allowing the body to use less energy; preventing strain or overuse problems, and preventing backache and muscular pain.
Poor posture occurs when your spine is positioned in unnatural positions, in which the curves are emphasised and this results in the joints, muscles and vertebrae being in stressful positions. This often results from certain muscles tightening up or shortening while others lengthen and become weak which often occurs as a result of one’s daily activities. There are different factors which can impact on posture and they include occupational activities including poor ergonomic work stations: biomechanical factors such as force and repetition, poor core strength: as well as stress. Poor posture can includes: rounded shoulders; potbelly; bent knees when standing or walking; head that either leans forward or backward; sway back or hunch back. This can lead to headache, back pain, body aches and pains, muscle fatigue, respiratory issues, poor digestion and tension by putting pressure on your spine.
Often having an awareness of your body and posture can go a long way in improving it. Also awareness of contributing factors helps to reduce them. If stress is a factor, then seeing a Acupuncturist can help your body deal with the stress, or seeing a Psychotherapist can help you determine and give you tools to help you deal with or change your situation and therefore the cause of your stress.
Chiropractic is an effective and gentle way to improve the alignment of the spine and other joints, which can decrease muscle tightness and improve biomechanics..
Dowager’s Hump is a hump or enlarged prominence due to the spiny contour at the base of the neck, ie level with the shoulders. This is usually associated with forward rounding at the base of the neck, hyperextension of the middle neck region, loss of the natural spinal curve in the neck, and forward head posture. The main cause is poor posture. Another common cause is osteoporosis, especially in postmenopausal women, which can result in a compression fracture, where the front of the vertebra compresses down and creates a wedge shaped vertebra.
There are a number of things that can influence posture, which are important to address to improve a Dowager’s hump. Chiropractic is very effective in improving your spinal alignment and reducing muscle spasm. This improves your posture, and makes it easier to consciously stand and sit with better posture. Massage therapy is also effective in helping your posture by releasing tight muscles allowing you to hold your body in a better position.
Nerves extend from the spinal cord and the brain to all parts of the body, relaying important messages. A pinched nerve occurs when there is pressure on the nerve, which can irritate or damage the nerve, usually resulting in pain and sometimes a tingling sensation. If it is severe there can be a loss of sensation altogether, with muscle weakness and possibly wasting. Nerve compression often occurs when the nerve is pressed between tissues such as ligament, tendon and bone.
Misalignment of the spine can cause the nerve exiting the spinal cord between 2 vertebrae to become pinched, while a bulging disc will commonly put pressure on the nerve by pressing the nerve between the disc and the vertebra as the nerve branches from the spinal column.This can led to pain at the area, or nerve pain into the shoulder and arm (if the pinching is occurring at the neck) eg cervical radiculopathy, or down the leg (if the pinching is occurring in the lower back), eg sciatic nerve pain.
A common complaint resulting from a nerve pinched structure other than bone is Carpal Tunnel syndrome which occurs in the wrist and results in hand pain, tingling or numbness and often weakness.
Improving the body’s alignment, including spinal and peripheral eg feet, knees, wrists, will improve the balance and movement at the specific spinal level as well as the whole body and thereby reduce pressure on the nerve. This can also reduce a disc bulge, again improving the nerve function. Chiropractic is a gentle and effective treatment that rebalances and realigns the body. Massage therapy can also be effective in reducing the symptoms of pinched nerve, particularly when the pinching is caused by ligaments and tendons.
A disc is the shock absorbing component between each vertebra of the spine. It can be damaged either through degeneration or an injury such as a fall or lifting something heavy often while twisting. The damage to the disc can vary from a minor injury resulting in an inflamed disc with associated swelling, to weakening of the side of the disc which then allows the disc to bulge out to one side or to the back (called a bulging or prolapsed disc), to the most severe being a rupture to the outer part of the disc allowing the inner gel-like material to be pushed out and even separate from the disc (sequestered disc). This will push on either the spinal cord if it pushes out backwards, or create a pinched nerve if it pushes out to the side, compressing the nerve as it branches off the spinal cord.
Any disc in the spine can be damaged in these ways, but the most common area is the lower back, especially L4/5 and L5/S1, with discs in the neck being the next most common. There is usually pain associated with these injuries, which can come from 3 sources. The damaged disc itself will cause pain, as will the pinched nerve, and then the muscles around the area will often be spasmed to protect the spine, also causing pain. See above for more detail on Pinched Nerves.
Depending on the degree of damage and the symptoms associated with it, herniated discs may require surgery, but this should really be as a last resort. Often an inflamed disc or bulging disc will respond well to Chiropractic treatment. The treatment given will be done carefully so as not to damage the disc any further, but by improving the biomechanics of the spine pressure is taken off the disc, inflammation is reduced, and the disc can to return to its normal state, no longer putting pressure on the nerves or spinal cord. This Chiropractic is often assisted by Remedial Massage which allows the muscles to release and so reduce pain..
The term Bursitis means inflammation of a bursa. A bursa is a fluid filled sac that acts as a cushion between a tendon and bone in a few areas in the body, that are prone to friction.
Inflammation can occur when there is excessive friction, which results in pain. This can be due to tightened or shortened muscles, which leads to tension on the tendon which then rubs against the bone.
Massage therapy can be very helpful by releasing and hence lengthening the muscle. Chiropractic can help by balancing and normalising the bony structure which takes out of the muscle and therefore the tendon.
Acupuncture can be very effective in releasing and hence lengthening the muscle, and it can also have a systemic effect of reducing inflammation in the body.