Advice

Managing Chronic Pain – by Dr Helen Frederikson (osteopath)

By Eliza Gleadell
October 26, 2023

Are you struggling with pain that just won’t go away? Perhaps you’ve been told that your imaging shows there’s nothing wrong even though it feels like there’s definitely something wrong? Maybe you’ve been through so many treatment providers but gotten nowhere? You may feel like no matter what you do your pain seems to come back to that same place over and over again and it may feel like the area is sensitized. Keep reading to discover the reasons why your pain could be lingering beyond normal healing time and what you could be doing to improve it.

 

What is Chronic Pain?

People injure themselves every day, it’s not uncommon. Following an injury the standard time for most people to heal from their pain is around 6 weeks, sometimes up to 12 weeks. If you have pain that persists longer than 12 weeks it is then termed chronic pain.

When you have an injury such as a whiplash to your neck or chronic headaches or a lifting injury to your back, a message travels from the injury site through the nervous system and up to our brain saying – help….do something about this! A message is then sent back down to the injury site to create a local response such as pain and muscle spasm. Our brain is the part that decides how our body will respond to an injury. Imagine it’s like a flame traveling up a fuse. It goes from the injury to the spinal cord, then up to the brain. The bigger the flame is, the more pain you will feel.

Our bodies are super clever and make certain hormones (predominantly adrenalin and endorphins) that act like buckets of water to the flames. Adrenalin is our fight or flight hormone that we produce during intense and stressful situations, like when we’re running from danger. Therefore having adrenalin pumping through our bodies all the time isn’t ideal. Endorphins, however, can be produced around the clock! Endorphins are produced by exercise and by doing activities that we enjoy and that bring us a sense of achievement. This could be as simple as catching up with friends, doing arts and crafts or even mowing the lawn. The more of these buckets of water we can throw on the flames, the less pain we feel.

Unfortunately, when we’ve been in pain for a long time we generally stop doing the things that bring us joy or a sense of achievement, and we no longer create all of those buckets of water we need to put out the fire. When we’re not making buckets of water we create a negative cycle where we become sad or worried about a flare up or angry that we can’t do the things we want to do because we end up in pain. As a response our bodies create other hormones such as cortisol which we will call buckets of petrol. These buckets of petrol fuel the flames and make our pain stronger. Over time, the more pain that is produced from general activities, the more our nervous system becomes sensitized to these stimuli, resulting in more flare ups and creating a localised tissue response at the initial injury site.

 

Managing Chronic Pain

There are ways in which ongoing pain can be improved! General manual therapy is fantastic for reducing the symptoms of a flare up, however, if your pain has been particularly persistent you may require further investigation and management into lifestyle factors to help get you out of the pain cycle. This might include looking at your sleep, activity, and stress levels.

Firstly, find activities that bring you lots of joy and that don’t flare up your pain. That way you’re creating lots of buckets of water but no buckets of petrol!

Sleep is also incredibly important for our ability to process pain and to heal. When we are tired we don’t cope as well mentally and physically with day to day stressors. Research suggests that when we sleep well, our pain levels drop 1-1.5 points out of 10!  To improve sleep decreasing stimulation before bed may be helpful. Watch less TV, dim lights, stay off our smartphones. As adults, sleep comes in 90 minutes cycles. If you prepare for sleep before the end of each cycle by winding down and getting in to bed then you may find it easier to fall asleep. If you tend to wake up and worry overnight then it might help you to write these things down and then go over them during the day. Having a consistent wake time will help set a rhythm for your day.

It may be beneficial to monitor your stress and activity levels. Stressful situations may increase pain leading to random spikes throughout the day. Making sure you’re doing activities that promote relaxation like having a nice hot bath or practicing mindfulness and meditation may help to improve your symptoms. Doing too much of a certain activity can also lead to pain so cutting back on these activities and then building them back up slowly is a great way to decrease the hypersensitisation. For example, if you are mowing the lawn for 20 mins and you start to feel pain at 15 minutes then it may help to reduce the time to 10 minute increments, gradually increasing the time every couple of days.

If any of this resonates with you and you would like to find out more about managing your persistent pain then get in contact with Helen or any of our team at The Osteo Clinic.

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A woman’s body goes through a lot of physical changes during pregnancy to make room for the growing baby. Osteopathy may help during pregnancy to assist the mother as she adapts to the continual changes her body is experiencing. Osteopathic treatment provides gentle, safe, carefully selected techniques to ease any pain or discomfort experienced during pregnancy. A tailored approach is taken to ensure the patient’s needs are addressed and comfortability maintained. Osteopaths are able to treat patients at any stage during their pregnancy, as well as post birth.
 
Pregnancy may sometimes exacerbate existing conditions and cause unusual aches and pains. The body is often put under stress in the spine, hips and pelvis as it adapts to an increase in weight, ligament laxity and changes to the centre of gravity.

Common complaints during pregnancy

Common complaints include pain in the low back and buttocks, neck, shoulders, upper back, rib cage and groins. Headaches, discomfort whilst sleeping and pelvic floor weakness are also frequent. Over 70% of pregnant women experience low back pain at some point during their pregnancy or post-partum (Katonis et al., 2011). While these symptoms are common during pregnancy, osteopathic treatment may help provide pain relief.

Osteopathic Treatment

Osteopathic treatment during pregnancy is aimed at assisting overall function and providing pain relief. Treatment often includes soft tissue massage and mobilisation targeted at the muscles and joints of concern. Gentle home exercises may be advised to assist with management of symptoms, as well as preparing the mother for birth and life afterwards.
 
We have a special pregnancy table attachment at both our clinics, which allows pregnant women to be able to lie on their tummy safely and comfortably. All techniques can be applied in a variety of positions, including lying on your front, back, side, or seated and is dependant on the stage of pregnancy and how comfortable you may be.
 
If you are experiencing any pain or stiffness during your pregnancy just pop into either of our Sandringham or Mordialloc clinics to see one of our osteopaths today.
 
 
Katonis, P., Kampouroglou, A., Aggelopoulos, A., Kakavelakis, K., Lykoudis, S., Makrigiannakis, A., & Alpantaki, K. (2011). Pregnancy-related low back pain. Hippokratia, 15(3), 205–210.
 

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Advice

Cricket Shoulder Injuries

By Eliza Gleadell
February 8, 2021

It’s that glorious time of the year again, cricket season is back! Sunny days on the cricket pitch does have a downside though, that niggly shoulder may start to bother you again. 

Why do Shoulder Problems Occur? 

Shoulder problems are one of the most common injuries associated with cricket. This is most likely due to the high number of bowls, bats and throws that are completed at games and during training sessions. These activities, when completed at high repetitions or with incorrect technique, can predispose the shoulder muscles, tendons and ligaments to becoming overstretched. Not completing an adequate warm up can also increase the chances of these changes occurring. This may result in these structures becoming inflamed, irritated and painful. 

In many cases these changes result in rotator cuff tendinopathy or shoulder impingement syndrome. These conditions may present with shoulder pain that is worse when you raise your arm, pain that can radiate into your neck, back or arm and a restriction in range of motion. Both of these conditions may benefit from osteopathic treatment. 

How Can An Osteopath Help?

Your Osteopath will ask a series of questions about your shoulder injury and complete a physical examination of the area. Once a diagnosis has been made they will discuss a treatment plan with you. It is very important to address shoulder flexibility, strength and endurance. Often exercises that work on improving these factors will be prescribed with alterations in how you train.
If your shoulder starts to become painful during the cricket season, consider booking in with one of our friendly osteopaths. 

Get in touch

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If you have found yourself reading this, it is likely that you, or someone close to you, is suffering from low back pain (LBP) and you’re not alone. LBP is common, so common in fact that 84% of us will experience an acute episode over our lifetime, equally across all age groups.

LBP typically spans the area from below your rib cage to the top of your hips. It can vary in presentation, symptoms and severity. It is important to remember that while LBP is common, it is rarely dangerous and does not mean that your back is vulnerable to damage. Pain does not equal tissue damage.

The good news – evidence suggests that acute LBP is usually self-limiting. Our backs are perfectly designed for moving, bending and lifting so it’s important to get moving with regular exercise. Exercise, such as pilates, is one of the best interventions for LBP due to its ability to help decrease our pain. We call this exercise induced hypoalgesia.

Pilates is a form of exercise that is low impact, low intensity and specifically tailored to your needs. It perfectly combines everyday functional movements with mat-based exercises and spring-loaded equipment. This helps strengthen postural muscles, improve balance and stability and prevent injuries occurring.

If you’re experiencing LBP our skilled osteopaths and pilates instructors can help tailor a management plan for you. The end goal – to achieve pain free movement and improve your quality of life.

 

 

References: 

The Lancet Low Back Pain Series, 2018

O’Keeffe, M.,  Griffin, D., O’Sullivan, K.,  O’Sullivan, P.,  & Maher, C.  10 myths about back pain and how to cope when it strikes 2019

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Advice

Jaw pain and headaches

By Eliza Gleadell
September 2, 2019

By Dr Peter Sehic – Osteopath

Do you suffer from headaches? They could be coming from your jaw.

Headaches are a very common problem that people see osteopaths for. Irritated muscles and joints of the neck and shoulders can cause headaches, however, a commonly overlooked cause of headaches is the jaw.

Your jaw is comprised of a left and a right temporomandibular joint, or TMJ. If you place your fingers just in front of your ears and open and close your mouth, those are the joints that you can feel moving. The jaw is controlled by a group of muscles that help produce movement of the jaw. These are vital for speech, chewing, swallowing and facial expression.

 

When can it all go wrong?

The jaw can often become painful as a result of repeated teeth clenching or grinding during periods of stress. Other causes include trauma to the area, an uneven bite surface, arthritis of the jaw joint or following dental work.

Irritation to the jaw joints can result in facial pain as well as pain that radiates to the ear or teeth. The jaw muscles run along the length of the jaw, cheeks and the sides of the head. When these muscles tighten up they can cause pain in these areas, leading to a headache. Pain with chewing or yawning, clicking, locking or poor movement of the jaw may also cause headaches.

 

How can osteopathy help?

As osteopaths, we take you through a series of questions and a thorough physical assessment to determine the source of your headache. Once the problematic muscles/joints have been identified, we can use a range of manual therapy techniques to help decrease pain, improvement joint movement and reduce muscle tightness.

As well as the hands-on treatment, appropriate aftercare is essential in achieving a long-term result. We will provide you with exercises and advice on things to do or avoid, in order to aid recovery. For example, eating hard or chewy foods can aggravate an injured jaw and should be avoided in the short term. In some cases, referral for an orthodontic or dental assessment may be required.

Do you have jaw pain or a headache? See us today to help determine the source and solution to your pain.

Get in touch

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Advice

Could magnesium help you?

By Eliza Gleadell
September 4, 2018

Do you find you have muscle tightness, poor sleep or headaches?

Are you clenching your jaw or grinding your teeth, experiencing muscle cramps and having a poor night sleep in general? You may have a magnesium deficiency.

Bioceuticals Ultra Muscleze Night

This can be taken before bed to help promote relaxation and help relieve sleeplessness.

The combination of ingredients may help relieve nervous unrest and reduce symptoms of stress. Sour cherry is included which may improve sleep efficiency and quality, while Lactium®, a bioactive peptide, and magnesium are beneficial during times of stress. The ingredients calcium, choline and inositol help support healthy nervous system activity.

If you think you may have a magnesium deficiency speak to one of our osteopaths when you come in for your next appointment.

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Advice

What is cupping?

By Eliza Gleadell
July 18, 2018

Ever wondered how cupping works?

Cupping is a technique that all our practitioners at The Osteo Clinic Sandringham are trained in. Cupping utilises the principle of applying a vacuum cup to the treatment area to stimulate blood flow. It is regularly used in the treatment of symptoms such as muscular and joint related pain or stiffness. Cupping helps to stretch the muscle and surrounding connective tissue, otherwise known as fascia.

Cups can be applied on one specific area or can be moved around. Mobile or gliding cupping involves the movement of the cup along the skin via the application of cream or oil. The effect is much like a reverse massage, meaning the skin and muscles aren’t compressed but rather pulled slightly up into the cup, causing increased blood flow, which in turn helps to nourish and deliver oxygen to the tissues. It also encourages the healing process with the therapeutic aim of removing congestion and decreasing pain. Fixed cupping can be used when a tight spot in a muscle is encountered. The cups are applied directly to the site of pain or dysfunction and left for a few minutes.

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