Tips for your home workout

One of the positive things to come out of extended periods of lockdown over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic is it has given people chance to get in touch with their bodies. With gyms closed at various times, the home workout became the choice for many. Those who previously decided to give exercise a miss because of busy schedules, suddenly had the chance to jump into some form of daily exercise routine, even if it was time-restricted in some way.

Whether you are a long-time fitness fanatic, recent convert, or are only now thinking of getting yourself in shape, we’ve put together some pointers on how to make your home workout an enjoyable, safe and beneficial part of daily life. Follow these tips and you’ll soon be wondering why you haven’t been doing it all your life!

Get advice

Fitness doesn’t have to cost the earth, but we fully recommend getting some advice from a professional (ahem… like us!) before you get into a full-blown routine, especially if you are new to fitness or working out regularly. The beauty of seeing your osteopath before getting started on this path is we can assess your bodily movements and discuss with you your expectations and aspirations. Some time and money spent with a movement specialist (like us!) before you start can greatly decrease your chances of early injury and a huge setback in your plan to donning the best bod in town! Depending on your past medical history and current health issues, some forms of exercise may not be 100% suited to you, so getting advice on this can also be beneficial to reduce risk of flaring up an old injury or making a current one worse. Consider this option (seriously). It will be money well spent and you won’t regret it.

Go all in

If you want to succeed with exercise, you should go all in from the beginning. What we mean by this is that it needs to become part of your daily life… part of your routine. It’s possible to start seeing and feeling some very positive results quickly if you exercise regularly and make it part of your weekly schedule. If you exercise or workout just once every 10 days (or just very irregularly), you are unlikely to see positive results (including increased strength, decreased pain and physical changes in your body) very quickly, if at all. If you want a benchmark to aim for each week, the World Health Organisation recommends the following for adults:

  • At least 150-300 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise; or
  • At least 75-150 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise, per week
  • Moderate or greater intensity muscle strengthening exercises for 2+ days a week

Take home point is… GO ALL IN! It’s time to invest in your health.

Diet is key

If you’ve taken the step to start improving your health by ramping up your exercise regime, it is highly recommended you eat a balanced, clean diet as well. This will help to maximise the effects of exercise, help you maintain a healthy weight / lose weight (if required), and reap the benefits of a healthy body and mind. Make no mistake, working out hard to then go and stuff yourself with processed, fast foods and chocolate is completely counterproductive. When you work out, your body undergoes change at a tissue level. For example, muscle fibres tear and then repair following exercise. For repair to take place, the body needs all the good stuff, including protein, vitamins, minerals, and much more. You can’t get the right stuff from rubbish food. We can help you get on track with your diet if you need some help… it’s all part of the service.

Water, water, water!

When we push our bodies during exercise, we sweat, and place demands on the various tissues that make up the body. Chemical reactions take place left, right and centre. All of which require water to work. We become dehydrated, and unless we replace that water (remember the human body cannot produce water on its own), we stay dehydrated, processes start to break down, you feel sluggish and low on energy, and everything is pretty much rubbish. Then you won’t feel like you want to exercise! So, drink lots of water, especially during and after exercise to replace the stores of water in your body that you inevitably lose. This will keep your body ticking along nicely and keep your mind fresh and alert and ready for the next set of squats and lunges!

Don’t ignore pain

Exercise can be very enjoyable. Sure, when you push yourself hard, it might hurt a little inside. You may wake up the following day a little sore (this is normal) and sorer the day after that (this is also normal), but exercise should never be “ouch” painful. If it is, something is wrong, and you should stop. The chances are you are performing a movement incorrectly, or something in the way your body moves needs to be assessed and corrected to ensure you are able to perform the movement properly without placing undue strain on the joints and muscles. It’s easy to think to yourself ‘no pain no gain’, but this statement causes many people more problems than it’s worth. Ignoring pain can lead to significant injury, setbacks in your exercise journey and a very unhappy you. Not to mention possibly having to take time off work while you recover and not being able to pick your kids up and run around with them. Don’t take a chance on pain. We revert you to tip one on this blog… Get advice from your osteo!

So… are you ready to change your life for the better, forever? If you are and want to get some advice, please call us today on 9078 2455 and let’s get cracking!

References

  1. World Health Organisation. 2020. WHO guidelines on physical activity and sedentary behaviour. [Online]. Available from: https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/9789240015128. Accessed 06 Oct 2021.

Injury blog: Bone fractures

You’ve fractured a bone.” Probably the last thing anyone wants to hear when the doctor or nurse in the emergency department approaches you following an x-ray. Not two hours earlier, you’ve gone into a 50/50 challenge on the pitch with an opponent and came out feeling something wasn’t quite right. Who would have thought a simple, unintended stamp on the foot could lead to so much pain?!

Sometimes it is obvious you have fractured a bone. If you have an accident or fall and look down and your immediate reaction is hmm… my leg or wrist is usually much straighter than that, then there is a good chance you have fractured a bone. Other times, it may not be so obvious. Take for example the stamp on the foot scenario above or taking an impact into the ribs or spine. These may not leave your body deformed, but it doesn’t mean a fracture hasn’t occurred. There are usually some tell-tale signs and symptoms that go alongside a traumatic event. Pain and not being able to use the body part as you normally would are big ones. There may also be evidence of bruising or swelling, although these do not always appear right away.

What is a fracture?

A fracture is a broken bone. Many people think fractured and broken bones are different, but they are not. As we move around this world in our own little human way, our bodies are subjected to forces acting upon them from the environment around us. Most of the time we don’t even notice these forces acting upon us as our bodies just soak them up as we go about our daily tasks. If the forces increase in strength (E.g. an angry opponent taking you out on the rugby field while you are running at top speed), we may then notice them. Ouch! If the force becomes too great for our bodies to handle, that’s when more serious injury occurs. For a muscle, tendon or ligament, a tear or rupture occurs. When bone is involved, it fractures. Bones can fracture in many ways, with some being more serious than others.

Types of fracture

There are many different types of bone fracture. Let’s get familiar with them, as the lingo can help you to understand what has happened:

  • Simple / closed: The bone breaks without breaking through the skin.
  • Compound / open: The bone breaks through the skin. There is a high risk of infection with these types of fractures.
  • Non-displaced / stable: The bone breaks but the pieces maintain alignment.
  • Displaced / unstable: The bone breaks and the pieces lose alignment. Unstable fractures usually require surgery to correct.
  • Transverse: The break occurs straight across the shaft of the bone.
  • Linear: The break occurs straight along the shaft of the bone.
  • Oblique: The break occurs diagonally across the shaft of the bone.
  • Spiral: The fracture line twists around the bone shaft, usually the result of a strong twisting force placed on the bone.
  • Comminuted: There are several bone fragments — a complicated and serious!
  • Impacted: Two parts of a bone are driven into one another.
  • Greenstick: Seen in children where the skeleton is still quite flexible and has not transitioned completely from cartilage to bone. This is a partial fracture where one side of the bone breaks, but the other side stays intact.
  • Compression: Most seen in the spine where two vertebrae are forced against one another leading to collapse of the body of the bones.
  • Stress: An overuse injury. A small, repetitive stress is placed on a bone over and over until a small crack appears. These can then progress if left untreated.
  • Avulsion: These occur when a forceful muscle contraction creates a strong pull, breaking away the bone underlying the tendon of the muscle.
  • Pathological: These are fractures that occur due to the presence of an underlying medical condition such as cancer or osteoporosis.

There are a lot of words, but as an example, it is possible to have a non-displaced transverse fracture of your femur (thighbone). It is also possible to have a displaced transverse fracture of your femur. The difference being the two parts of the bone remain aligned in one, but not aligned in the other.

Can my osteo help?

We can absolutely help you recover from a bone fracture. We are unlikely to be your first port of call when you fracture a bone unless the underlying cause of your pain is a stress fracture. We do often see these before they are diagnosed by an x-ray or bone scan. Most people end up in the emergency department of a hospital following a fracture, and then once the initial period of healing is over, they will consult an osteopath for further help. Following a fracture, the muscles and joints close to the break will have been affected, decreasing your ability to move that body part. This is where we come in!

Recently fractured a bone and have been given the all-clear to start rehabilitating? Consult us today by calling 9078 2455. We’ll see your bones (and the rest of you) back to full health!

References

  1. Australian Orthopaedic Association. 2021. A break in a bone is a ‘fracture’. [Online]. Available from: https://www.aoa.org.au/for-patients/wonder-of-movement/bone-fractures. Accessed 09 October 2021.
  2. Health Direct. 2020. Fractures. [Online]. Available from: https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/fractures. Accessed 09 October 2021.
  3. Brukner, P. and Khan, K. 2017. Clinical Sports Medicine. Australia: McGraw Hill Education.

Arthritis: Osteo- or Rheumatoid?

Every October 12th marks World Arthritis Day, a campaign to raise awareness for people with rheumatic and musculoskeletal conditions across the globe. There are many forms of arthritis, each with their own features and ways they affect the body. ‘Arthritis’ is an umbrella term used to describe any condition that affects the joints of the body and is derived from ‘arth’ meaning joint, and ‘itis’ meaning inflammation. Something a lot of people do not realise is there are over 100 different types of arthritis.

Here’s a quick-fire guide to two of the most common types of arthritis… Osteoarthritis (OA) and Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). These conditions are often mistaken for each other in the general population but are two very different conditions.

Osteoarthritis (OA)

OA is a chronic, progressive condition that commonly affects the spine, hands, hips, knees, and ankles. Its main feature is the breakdown of the cartilage that lines the ends of bones in a joint. The underlying bone and surrounding muscles, ligaments and tendons also become affected and gradually degenerate over time. This condition is often referred to as ‘wear and tear’ of a joint, but more accurately it is result of the body trying to constantly repair itself due to excessive strains being placed on the joints due to poor stability and movement of the body.

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)

RA is a chronic, autoimmune disease that commonly affects the hands, feet (i.e. small joints) and spine. This condition is driven by the body’s immune system attacking its own tissues. This leads to widespread and permanent degeneration and destruction of the joint tissues, and a characteristic deformity of joints, particularly those of the fingers and toes. RA is a body-wide condition that also affects the nerves and organs of the body, including the heart, lungs and eyes.

Who does it affect?

OA can affect people of all ages but is more common in those aged 45 years and over, and is most common in people who are 75 years and above. People who are overweight and obese are more likely to develop this condition, and there is more chance of having this problem if there is a family history. Injury and repetitive day-to-day movements are also contributing factors.

RA is also most common in those aged 75 and up. The onset of this condition usually occurs anywhere between the ages of 35-65. There is a strong genetic link with this disease, so if there is history in your family, there is a higher chance that you will also develop this condition.

Both conditions affect women more than men.

Signs & symptoms

Both OA and RA share the following joint symptoms:

  • Inflammation and pain
  • Swelling
  • Stiffness
  • Loss of function

There are some differences in presentation though. Whereas OA usually affects joints on one side of the body, RA commonly affects both sides at the same time. OA is also more likely to affect the larger joints like the hip and knee, whereas RA most commonly affects the small joints of the hands and feet.

As already discussed, RA also affects other systems of the body, so you are more likely to experience symptoms relating to the nerves, heart, lungs (and other organs) and eyes with this condition.

Treatments

As it stands there is no cure for either condition. There are treatments for both conditions which help to manage and slow the progression of symptoms.

OA is best helped by leading a healthy lifestyle, keeping your weight in check, moving regularly and well, and staying in touch with your osteopath on a regular basis ?. Seriously, osteopathic treatment is a safe and effective way of managing joint pain relating to OA, so we highly recommend coming in for a consultation so we can put a plan in place and help you manage the condition going forward. You don’t have to do this alone! We can also help to advise on the use of movement aids, including the use of walking sticks, frames, braces and orthotics.

If you have been diagnosed with RA, it is likely you will be under the care of a rheumatologist who will help you to manage your condition medically alongside your GP. RA also requires you to stay flexible and strong, so exercise is an important part of your treatment. Osteopaths can also help people with RA. We can work with you to ensure your joints move well so you can retain function into your later years.

Do you have a diagnosis of arthritis? We are your people! Call us today on 9078 2455 to book your consultation.

Injury blog: Concussion

Concussion, aka ‘mild traumatic brain injury’, has been the topic of much research and discussion between health professionals in recent years. It is a particularly important topic amongst practitioners who treat sports people on the field and in the clinic setting. Although concussion in sport is a common occurrence, anyone with a head can get concussion… so that’s everyone then!

What is concussion?

Concussion is the word used to describe a minor head injury that is usually sustained by either:

  • A blow to the head (e.g. hitting your head during a fall or being hit on the head by an object)
  • Your head going through a sudden change in direction (e.g. during a car accident or a quick change in direction on the sports field)

During a trauma, the force sustained to the head causes the brain to move and hit the inside of the skull. This leads to inflammation and damage to the nerve tissue of the brain. This can affect the function of the brain in many ways and can lead to a wide variety of symptoms. The symptoms depend on what part of the brain and other body parts (i.e. the neck and other parts of the spine) are affected.

Who gets it?

Concussions are very common in sports people, especially those that partake in contact sports like boxing and football (any form), or a sport that leaves a person susceptible to a fall (i.e. cycling, skiing / snowboarding and horse-riding). Anyone who hits their head, or has their head thrown around during a sudden movement can become concussed. Car accidents are common causes in the general population where whiplash type injuries can lead to the brain being thrown back and forth inside the skull.

Signs and symptoms

Concussion can lead to a wide range of signs and symptoms, including any combination of:

  • Loss of consciousness (30 minutes or less)
  • Amnesia (i.e. an inability to recall what has happened / memory loss)
  • Persistent low-grade headaches
  • Dizziness, vertigo and loss of balance
  • Confusion
  • Brain fog
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Visual disturbance (blurred vision or seeing stars)
  • Drowsiness
  • Light and noise sensitivity
  • A blank / vacant look on the persons face

In the majority of cases, symptoms will come on quickly or at least within the first few hours after the injury occurs.

Treatment

It is unlikely you will see an osteopath in the immediate aftermath of a head injury, unless you are a sportsperson who is under the care of an on-field osteo. After a head knock, if someone is suspected as having a concussion, it is normal procedure to see a medical professional (i.e. a GP or on-site osteo / physio) to be checked out. Severe impacts may require hospitalisation. In mild cases, once the treating practitioner is happy that symptoms are stable, you will usually be sent home to rest and recover. Many people feel okay at this point and are keen to return to playing, but this should be avoided because the consequences of a second head injury can be much more severe. The best and only thing you should do at this point is follow your doctor’s orders!

A mild concussion usually recovers within two weeks, but symptoms can persist for some people for weeks or months following a head injury. If this occurs, this person is said to be experiencing post-concussion syndrome. These symptoms should resolve with time, but again, they can persist in some people.

Once you are in that stable stage of a concussion, it is fine to seek out the help of your friendly neighbourhood osteo. Osteopathic treatment has been shown to be an effective and safe treatment option for people suffering from stable concussive symptoms. A blow to the head can start off a chain reaction around the body and may have immediate effect on the function of the spine and shoulders. We can assess and treat these dysfunctions to get you through your concussion safely and in as little pain as possible.

Concussion? We can help you today! Please call and speak to us on 9078 2455 if you need more information on concussion or are unsure our treatment is right for you.

Why Osteopathy?

We regularly get asked the question, “Why osteopathy?”. Why not go to see a physio or a massage therapist? The most important thing to point out here is that we will not be spending this blog trying to talk down other therapies, but rather explain osteopathy. There are many different therapies out there, and there are some highly skilled therapists within each profession. It comes down to a matter of preference and finding a therapist that works for you. Having said that, we believe in osteopathy and here are some reasons why we think our profession is awesome:

University education

Your osteopath has been put through their paces. Depending on the country of study, it takes 4-5 years of university degree-level education to become an osteopath. In that time a budding osteopathic student is grilled on all areas of the human body, the principles behind osteopathic thinking and treatment, hands-on techniques and how to help someone obtain health, and keep it. Each osteopathic student goes through a wide range of spoken, written and practical assessments each year which help to prepare them to take on the important role of a health practitioner. So, rest assured you’ll be in good hands when you see your osteopath.

Anatomical knowledge

An osteopath’s knowledge of human anatomy is second to none. We study every inch of the body from head to toe… it is our bread and butter. If we don’t know anatomy, we cannot treat osteopathically. We have extensive knowledge on how the different systems of the body relate to and work with each other to keep the human form ticking over and functioning well. An osteo looks much further than just the muscles, ligaments, and bones. We consider the whole body when we treat, which makes us extremely well-rounded practitioners who can provide treatment and advice for a wide range of conditions.

Hands-on skills

If you’ve been to see an osteo before, you’ve probably been amazed at the number of techniques they seem to know and perform on you across your time seeing them for treatment. The human body is very complex and requires an osteo to be tooled up to cope with any given situation. We are expert hands-on therapists who can call upon many different types of treatment techniques, including massage, mobilisation, manipulation (i.e. cracking) and many others. How we handle your body will leave you feeling confident in our ability to make a positive change for you.

Holistic approach

Osteopathy is a complete approach to treating the body. One of the number one reasons people come to see us is to help them get rid of pain. But osteopathy is much more than that. When you see us, you get the whole package. Yes, we will absolutely help you get rid of pain to the best of our ability. Pain is a complex phenomenon and there are always many reasons behind why someone feels the pain they experience. We can help you to work out what those reasons are and give you the tools to reverse the negative effects they are having on you. And with the best will in the world, keep that pain away forever too. We can help with our hands, but osteopaths are also skilled at giving great lifestyle, diet and exercise advice.

We care

Osteopaths are naturally caring people. We live to help others in need. When you consult with an osteopath for the first time (and any time after that for that matter) you will notice what a great manner they have. Always a keen listener, they will allow you to tell your story and always be there for you when you need them. Osteos will always do our best to get you the help you need, even if it means referring you to a different practitioner for specialised treatment. If you come to us with a problem that is out of our scope of practice, we won’t just turn you away. We will liaise with doctors and other medical specialists to ensure you get the care you need, when you need it.

 We hope this has opened the book on osteopathy and given you a good reason to choose us here at Inner West Health Clinic the next time you need a helping hand. If you’re still not convinced, then give us a call on 9078 2455 today, and we will be happy to twist your arm (in a totally caring and gentle way) to show you what we’re made of.

Gait – walking you through it

Walking would appear to anyone as being a simple action carried out by many people, every second of every day across the globe. For the average Joe, walking is simple. We learn to walk from a very young age, and then we don’t really have to think about doing it after that… Until something goes wrong with the body. Read on to find out more about the wonderful phenomena that gets us humans around from A to B.

What is gait?

The manner or pattern in which we walk or run is referred to as ‘gait’. Although it seems a very simple thing to do, and indeed most of us are able to carry out this task with incredible ease, it is possible only through a combination of extremely complex bodily movements. It is something many of us take for granted, unless you have experienced not being able to walk properly, or at all. You can think of gait as a repetitive, controlled fall with a forward movement in a straight line.

Phases

It is useful to think about gait as a cycle of movements. The human gait cycle starts when the heel of one foot touches the ground and ends when the same heel touches the ground again. The whole cycle can be broken up into two main phases:

  • Stance or support phase: This begins with the heel of one foot hitting the ground, moving through to the whole foot (as it keeps contact with the ground) and ending with the heel lifting off before moving into the…
  • Swing phase: This begins when the toes of the same foot lift off the ground, swinging the leg forward before the heel hits the ground again to begin a new cycle.

While one leg moves through the stance phase, the other leg is moving through the swing phase. The whole cycle takes approximately one second in the average adult and results in the forward movement of the body. It gets you from your bed to the toilet first thing in the morning, then to the kitchen, your workplace and finally back to bed again.

Functions of gait

It might seem silly, because the main function of gait is to allow us to move our bodies. But, when broken down, gait comes with many benefits:

  1. It provides support to the head, trunk and arms as we move
  2. It helps us to keep an upright, balanced posture
  3. It allows us to control foot movements, so we can dodge obstacles in our path
  4. It creates energy through muscle contraction to begin, maintain and speed up movement
  5. The action of the muscles involved provide shock absorption to the many forces acting on the body as we move

What can go wrong?

Our gait can be affected in many ways. Some effects can be serious and devastating, resulting in permanent change to the way you move. A person who experiences a stroke may end up losing function in the muscles that control ankle movement, leading to a ‘drop foot’. This causes the toes to catch the ground as they swing their leg through which can easily lead to a person falling. The neuro-degenerative condition, Parkinson’s Disease, can result in a person having a ‘shuffling gait’, where the feet essentially stay in contact with the ground permanently and the person moves by shuffling or dragging their feet along the ground. This issue, like many other problems that can lead to significant changes in the gait cycle movements, is a huge risk factor for a person falling, and potentially experiencing a life altering injury (i.e. a serious head strike or hip fracture).

Other effects may be less severe and reversible following correct rehabilitation of the problem. A simple knee injury is a good example here. You twist your knee playing basketball and that knee becomes painful. The pain causes you to shift your weight to and favour the other leg, leading to excessive strain on that side of the body. The body will compensate well to keep you moving, even if not in the usual smooth manner. Eventually the knee injury heals, but it is quite possible you will be left with unresolved strains and tensions running up the injured and uninjured sides of the body. And this is why you should always get us on board from the word go!

We can help

Osteopaths are experts in human movement. We know how you should move. We are trained to recognise when things are not quite working properly. And we know how to get you back to your true self. Don’t take a chance on it. A simple injury that is not treated correctly from the beginning can lead to bigger problems down the line. Be smart, seek help from professionals (i.e. us!) and enjoy the fact you can walk unaided or unhindered for years into your future.

Do you have an injury or condition affecting your ability to walk normally? Call us today on 90782455 to book an appointment.

References

  1. Chila, AG. 2011. Foundations of Osteopathic Medicine. 3rd ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins
  2. Magee, DJ. 2008. Orthopedic Physical Assessment. 5th ed. Edmonton, Canada: Saunders Elsevier
  3. Solberg, G. 2008. Postural Disorders & Musculoskeletal Dysfunction. 2nd ed. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone

Human posture and why it’s important we look after it

Posture, posture! Remember when you were a kid and your parents used to tell you to “Stop slouching!” and “Sit up straight!”? Well, however annoying that may have been at the time, your parents had your best interests at heart. They were looking ahead to the future and trying to save you the woes of having developed poor posture, and the effects that can have on you as an individual.

What is posture?

Posture is described as the position a person holds their body at any one time. Humans evolved to adopt an upright bipedal (i.e. two-feet on the ground) stance. A person’s ability to adopt and maintain an upright posture is a balance between gravity acting on the body, and the strength a person has to withstand the constant barrage of that force. Because our bodies are so versatile in movement, it is possible for a human to take up many different postures. Standing and sitting are examples most people are familiar with.

Advantages and disadvantages

So why did humans evolve into an upright posture? What are the advantages of this position? Are there any disadvantages?

Advantages of an upright posture include:

  • It allows the arms to move freely
  • It allows the hands to be free to be used to carry out important tasks
  • It allows the eyes to be higher off the ground so that we can see further into the distance

We couldn’t play tennis, walk and talk on the phone at the same time, play guitar on stage, or see danger coming from a distance if we took up a permanent ‘all fours’ position. So whilst this posture allows humans to do wonderful things with their bodies, it does actually come with some disadvantages:

Disadvantages of an upright posture include:

  • It places greater loads on the spine, pelvis and legs
  • It is a less stable position than an ‘all fours’ or quadruped posture
  • It makes the heart work harder to pump blood to the brain

As osteopaths, we are particularly interested in this first example. Increased or excessive loads on certain joints of the body over time is a big risk factor for the breakdown of these body parts. Osteoarthritis classically affects the joints that take the most load through them throughout a person’s life. Common joints affected by this include the lower segments of the spine, hips and knees.

However, the body is resilient, and if looked after throughout life with good nutrition, good movement and regular servicing by an expert osteo, you can be sure the body will see you through life quite well.

When a person comes to see us for treatment of a problem, we always take posture into account. A person’s genetic make-up, age, gender, environment, emotions and level of physical activity can all play a role in how posture develops and is maintained. All things considered, a plan can be put in place to ensure your posture keeps you upright, moving well and looking into the future, as well as avoiding any nasty postural dysfunctions that can heavily impact your quality of life.

Having trouble being upright on your feet without pain? Call us today on 9078 2455

References

  1. Chila, AG. 2011. Foundations of Osteopathic Medicine. 3rd ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins
  2. Magee, DJ. 2008. Orthopedic Physical Assessment. 5th ed. Edmonton, Canada: Saunders Elsevier
  3. Solberg, G. 2008. Postural Disorders & Musculoskeletal Dysfunction. 2nd ed. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone

Flat footed? Read on…

Have you ever been told you have flat feet? Or have you noticed that the arches in your feet are not quite the same as others? Although we are all a part of the same species, many of us have variations in our anatomy that make us unique. Look at a crowd of people and you’ll notice many different shapes and sizes. Our feet are the same. Some people have very developed arches in their feet, others have under-developed arches and have an almost ‘flat’ look to their feet. This phenomenon is known as ‘pes planus’.

Feet of woman doing exercises with rubber ball in clinic

Why does it occur?

There are two main reasons a person may develop flat feet. They are:

  • Congenital: A person is born with it and the feet fail to develop an arch through childhood into adulthood. A small percentage of the population have a connective tissue disorder which can leave the joints in the body less stable and more mobile. These conditions (namely Ehlers-Danlos and Marfans Syndromes) are also associated with having flat feet.
  • Acquired: A person develops flat feet as a result of trauma, tendon degeneration, or through muscular or joint disease.

Most babies will have a flat foot at birth, but usually by the age of 10, a strong and supportive arch has developed. For some people, the arch simply does not develop, and this may or may not lead to problems down the line.

Signs and symptoms

The obvious sign to look for is a flattened arch of the foot. If you look at someone from the front or slightly to the side, you may notice that the majority or whole of the inside border of the foot is touching the ground, as opposed to there being a clear space between the heel and ball of the foot.

What effect can this have on the body? It is quite possible and very common, for someone to have flat feet and have no symptoms at all. This is known as being ‘asymptomatic’. It may surprise you to know that only 10% of people with flat feet experience symptoms. These people are known as ‘symptomatic’.

People who do experience pain as a result of this condition do so because the lack of arch supporting the inside region of the foot has a knock-on effect to the mechanics of the rest of the limb. This then affects how the pelvis and spine function too. Pain in the middle part of the foot, heel, knee, hip and lower back are all common complaints. It is also not uncommon for someone with flat feet to experience recurrent ankle sprains, where they regularly ‘roll  the ankle.

Treatment

Do I need treatment if I have flat feet?” If you have no symptoms and having flat feet does not affect your life in any way, the answer is simply ‘no’.

If you have pain caused by this problem, then this is where we (and other professionals) come in. Pes planus is a great example of how a problem in one part of the body may lead to pain and dysfunction in a completely different part of the body. It’s an osteo’s dream! Not your pain, of course… However, we are experts at recognising the root cause of a problem and putting a plan in place to get it resolved fast.

Techniques we use may include soft tissue massage, joint mobilisation of the foot, ankle, knee, hip or spine and strengthening exercises. Exercises will aim to strengthen the arch itself, but may focus up the chain to the thigh, glutes and trunk as well. A large part of our job here is to also educate a patient on which footwear to use and whether or not they require the help of orthotics (these are special insoles for your footwear). Some children and adults may need some extra support inside their shoes to help reduce the effect of mechanical change up the limb. We may decide that you will benefit from seeing a podiatrist or other foot specialist who is able to design and supply you with insoles that are unique to you and the shape of your foot. Being obese can also increase the load on the lower limbs, therefore increasing the effects of pes planus in the process. In these cases, we can help to advise on how you go about losing weight through changes to your diet and exercise regimes.

For the majority of cases, a combination of these treatments above will result in improved mechanics and reduced pain, allowing the patient to continue doing the things they love. For the very few people who do not respond to treatment, an orthopaedic specialist’s opinion may be required for long term management. This is always a last resort.

Check out your feet. Do you have a flattened arch when you stand up and weight bear? Is there any associated pain? If so, call us today on 9078 2455 and we’ll tell you what needs to be done to beat the pain! Arch you glad you read this now?! ?

References:

  1. Radiopedia. 2020. Pes planus. [Online]. Available from: https://radiopaedia.org/articles/pes-planus. [Accessed 08 May 2020].
  2. Raj, MA. et al. 2020. Pes Planus. Stat Pearls. [Online]. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK430802/. [Accessed 08 May 2020].

Pandemic posture

Hey readers, it’s your favourite osteo checking in to see how you are going! I ha’s been, and continues to be, uncertain times for many of us as the virus pandemic continues to sweep across the globe. Lockdown has meant many of us have had to batten down the hatches and re-discover what it means to be ‘at home’. We ask you the question “how is your body being affected.

Let us take you on a scan of the body, focus on some potentially problematic areas, and give you some advice to avoid any long-term issues.

Head and neck

Handsome young man sitting on sofa at home. Incorrect posture concept

First stop is the very top! For all of you that normally head out to the office every day, the pandemic might mean you’ve had to start working from home. Not having your usual desk set up can place a great deal of stress on the neck region. Are you now working on a laptop instead of a desktop computer? Are you sitting on the sofa instead of an adjustable chair? Close your eyes for 30 seconds and hone your thoughts in to your neck. Move it around… How does it feel? Is it tight, restricted or does your head feel heavier than usual? It could be that your new ‘desk’ set up’ is causing some strain in places it doesn’t usually. Think about the effect of having your head looking down at a laptop for 8 hours a day compared to straight up at a monitor set to the ideal height… Your poor muscles must be feeling the strain too.

We recommend trying to recreate your office space as close as possible to the real thing. If you don’t have a desk at home, a dining table may be more suitable than sitting on a sofa or armchair. You also need to ensure you are moving your neck and shoulders more regularly to avoid them being in a strained position for too long. Take a break every 30 minutes and move into a different position.

Spine

Our spine sits at the core of the body, and we need good function throughout to ensure our limbs can also function with minimal effort and maximum efficiency. Are you used to an active job and now you find yourself homeschooling the children, or trying to break the day up with a bit of reading, gaming, TV or doing a crossword? Life is suddenly much more sedentary for most of us, so it’s important to avoid getting stiff. Sitting with poor spinal posture for extended periods, day after day can wreak havoc. Our spines curve ‘out  in the mid-back and ‘in ’ in the lower back. If we don’t look after those curves carefully by protecting our posture from excessive strains, then we leave ourselves open to sore backs and poor functioning limbs as a result.

We recommend avoiding long periods of sitting or lying down. Save it for bedtime! Try some standing spinal twists or bends (gently, of course), go for a walk around the garden, or do a session of yoga, Pilates or simple stretching through the day to mobilise your spine. If you have kids, get them to do it with you. They will enjoy a break from their school work, no doubt.

Hips

Anyone who works in a seated position knows what effect this can have on the hips. Having your hips in a ‘flexed’ or in a seated position for long periods of time can leave your hip flexor muscles tight and short. This decreases your ability to open the body out into a fully straight position, reducing flow of fluids through the central part of your body and leaving the back chain of muscles in a lengthened state, which can eventually result in the weakening of the chain.

We recommend lots of upright exercises for this one. Counteract the time spent seated  working or binge watching a TV series with some standing-based exercise. Jumps, skipping, walking, running or bridging is a nice way to open those hips and get the blood flowing.

Our underlying message through all of this is to move, move, move! You are a movement machine, so regularly start the ignition and go for a spin. Look after yourselves and please get in touch today on [insert clinic number] if you need help keeping your pandemic posture in check!

References

  1. Office of Industrial Relations. 2012.  Ergonomic guide to computer based workstations. [Online]. Available from: https://www.worksafe.qld.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0006/83067/guide-ergo-comp-workstations.pdf. [Accessed 04 May 2020]

Injury blog: Spondylolisthesis

Hello readers! Our blog this month focuses on a spinal condition that in the sports world most commonly affects cricketers and gymnasts, but in reality, can affect anyone! The condition is known as spondylolisthesis (pronounced ‘spon-di-lo-lice-thee-sis’) and most commonly affects the lowest segments of the lower spine region.

Spondylolisthesis is the slipping forward of one vertebra on another. This most commonly occurs at the L5 segment (the lowest vertebrae in the lumbar spine), which slips forward on the S1 segment of the sacral bone. The runner up? L4, which is also a commonly affected area.

What is spondylolisthesis? 

There are a few different causes of this condition, and so it has been classified into different types. There are five categories of spondylolisthesis. These are:

  1. Degenerative: Occurs due to degenerative changes to the spinal facet joints and discs
  2. Isthmic: Occurs due to a bone defect in a part of the vertebrae known as the ‘pars interarticularis’
  3. Traumatic: Occurs following a trauma that results in a fracture of either the spinal facet joints or pars interarticularis
  4. Dysplastic: Occurs due to a developmental defect of the vertebrae which alters the direction of the spinal facet joints, leaving the segment(s) open to slippage in the area where they are partially held in place by the facet joints.
  5. Pathologic: Occurs secondary to a medical problem such as infection or cancer

In theory, any process that leads to the weakening of the supportive structures of the spinal segments (i.e. the bones, ligaments, discs, muscles) can lead to abnormal movement of the spine.

Grades of spondylolisthesis

Spondylolisthesis is further classified based on the amount of slippage that has occurred:

  • Grade 1: Between 0-25% of the vertebral body has slipped forward on the vertebrae below
  • Grade 2: Between 25-50% has slipped forward
  • Grade 3: Between 50-75% has slipped forward
  • Grade 4: Over 75% of the vertebral body has slipped forward

The most commonly reported grade of this condition is grade one, accounting for approximately 75% of all cases.

Signs and symptoms

These vary depending on the cause, but can include any or all of the following:

  • Low back pain, including pain in the buttocks
  • Pain along the back of the thigh which rarely goes lower than the knee
  • Tight hamstring muscles
  • Changes in walking pattern
  • Pins and needles and/or numbness down the legs
  • Bowel and bladder dysfunction (in more severe cases)

If you come to us with low back and/or leg pain, we are trained to work out exactly what is going on based on your symptoms and medical history. We will ask you lots of questions to begin with to dwindle our list of potential diagnoses to just one or two. Then we’ll get you to move and through a thorough movement assessment, will be able to come to a specific diagnosis that we will work with you to treat.

Sometimes we may require the help of imaging to rule in or out spondylolisthesis, depending on the severity of symptoms and how much it is impacting your life. In these cases, we will send you off for an x-ray which can detect this issue.

Treatment

Most cases of spondylolisthesis can be managed conservatively, meaning non-surgical options are chosen over a surgical one. When this injury occurs, the instability of the particular spinal segment can lead to many of the signs and symptoms mentioned above. One of the main goals of treatment is to increase stability around the affected area and offload the forces that are acting on the injured area.

We will spend time educating you on the mechanics of the spine. If you understand what is happening to your spine, you will know how to protect it, without adding unnecessary stress to the area. We will also advise on appropriate footwear, as well as standing, seated and sleeping postures. Being obese or overweight is also a risk factor for developing, as well as maintaining this problem. If you need to lose weight, we can help you formulate a plan to get there.

Exercise to increase core stability, as well as flexibility of tight muscles is a very important part of therapy as this will reduce the need for external supports such as braces in the long term. And of course, not forgetting our wonderful hands which will get to work on your muscles and joints to reduce tension and tightness, while increasing range of motion.

All of the above treatments will help you to manage pain, increase function and get you back to work or sport or gardening… Whatever your goal is! Call us today on 9078 2455 if you have low back pain, or even if you already have a diagnosis of spondylolisthesis, and we can help you formulate a recovery plan to get you on the road to better health.

Osteoarthritis

Knee pain in the middle to late decades of life is a common complaint amongst patients presenting to osteopathic clinics across the globe. Osteoarthritis (OA) is a common cause of knee pain in this age group of people. Research suggests approximately 654 million people aged 40 years and over were living with knee OA in 2020 around the world. This comes at an incredible cost to healthcare services worldwide, with figures in the billions of dollars! 

What is osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis is just one of a number of forms of arthritis… Essentially a disease which affects the joints in our body. OA is the most common form of arthritis, with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) being the second most common form. This blog will focus on OA, a potentially debilitating disease that most commonly affects the weight-bearing joints of the body (i.e. the knees, hips and lumbar spine), but can affect any joint in the body where the joint surfaces are covered in cartilage.

The characteristics of OA include loss of the cartilage that covers the ends of bones that come together to form joints. The underlying and surrounding bone, as well as other joint structures (including joint capsules and other tissues) are also susceptible to degenerative changes that ultimately lead to poor functioning of a joint. The process usually occurs over a long period of time, often starting early in life (interestingly with little to no symptoms at all) and progressing into the latter years. The severity of the disease varies from person to person with some people only experiencing mild symptoms throughout their life. Other people experience more severe symptoms and may require joint replacement surgery as a last port of call to ensure they can continue to live their life as pain-free as possible.

Osteoarthritis of the knee can affect either of the two main joint components of the knee… The joint between the ends of the thighbone and the shin-bone (called the tibiofemoral joint), and the joint between the thigh-bone and the knee-cap (called the patella-femoral joint).

Risk factors

There are certain factors associated with higher rates of knee OA. These include:

  • Age: Rates of knee OA increase in the elderly
  • Obesity: Rates of knee OA increase with higher levels of obesity
  • Gender: Females slightly out-do the males with this one, being approximately 1.5 times more likely to develop it
  • Trauma: A trauma to the knee can increase your likelihood of developing knee OA
  • Smoking: Smoking is associated with higher rates of knee OA

Signs and symptoms

The signs and symptoms of knee OA include:

  • Pain
  • Stiffness
  • Swelling
  • Reduced range of motion
  • Difficulty performing functional movements including squatting and kneeling

Pain associated with tibiofemoral OA commonly affects the inside region of the knee first, where the two bones meet at the joint line. Patella-femoral related pain is often felt deep behind the kneecap. Pain will vary from one person to another, and the severity of pain does not necessarily relate to the severity of degeneration. Although if you speak to a person who is about to have a joint replacement surgery (i.e. their joint has degenerated to the point of needing a surgical intervention to keep the person functioning well), they will likely tell you that the pain is extremely debilitating.

Pain and stiffness are regularly felt first thing in the morning and late at night. OA tends to respond well to movement of the joints, and so people often find their pain and stiffness improves once they are up and moving, for it to return once their day has finished and they are relaxing at night.

Treatment

So, you’ve been diagnosed with knee OA. What to do? Call your osteo… Ta-dah!!!! Given we are experts in how the human body moves (we study human biomechanics at uni), we’re good at picking up how the body should and shouldn’t move. There are no magic pills for treating OA of the knee, and no practitioner can claim to treat the disease itself, as there is unfortunately no cure for OA. It is a progressive, degenerative disease, but there are ways of stunting the progression of this condition if the risk factors leading to its presence are attacked head on.

Poor movement resulting from daily postural repetitive strain, or an old injury that wasn’t treated to resolution is a big factor in the maintenance and development of OA in the knee. Poor movement or dysfunction occurring in the low back, hip or ankle can all lead to excessive load being placed through the knee joints, which can exacerbate the disease process. This is where we come in. We can watch you move during an assessment and work out what is causing the excessive loads through the knee and put a plan in place to improve range of motion and flexibility, strengthen muscles and return you to (hopefully) pain-free daily activities. We will use a combination of soft tissue manipulation, joint mobilisation and progressive exercise programs to restore life to your body. Returning to efficient movement patterns after years of neglect, poor movement and a de-conditioned body part will take time, but with determination from both you and your practitioner, it can happen.

As previously mentioned, some cases of knee OA can end up requiring surgical intervention to replace either part of or the whole joint. The good news is, if you do have to go through this process, we have your back (well… in this case, your knee) and can help you through rehab and recovery. Many people who have a knee replacement return to full daily activities and live a long and pain-free life.

Knee pain? What are you waiting for? Call us today on 9078 2455 and we’ll help you book your appointment today, or you can always click on our ONLINE BOOKINGS to book your own appointments too.



References
1. Cui, A. et al. 2020. Global, regional prevalence, incidence and risk factors of knee osteoarthritis in population-based studies. EClinicalMedicine. 100587. 29-30. Available from: https://www.thelancet.com/action/showPdf?pii=S2589-5370%2820%2930331-X

2.  Arthritis Australia. 2016. Counting the cost. [Online]. Available from: https://arthritisaustralia.com.au/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Final-Counting-the-Costs_Part1_MAY2016.pdf. [Accessed 09 February 2021]

3. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. 2020. Cost statistics: The cost of arthritis in US adults. [Online]. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/arthritis/data_statistics/cost.htm. [Accessed 09 February 2021]

Getting to the bottom of stress

Are you a stressed individual? Do you find it difficult to cope with the load of life, and regularly find yourself freaking out when it all gets a bit much? You are not alone. Coping with stress is something we all have to do and some of us are better at dealing with it than others. Some of us even thrive off that stress. If you want to get to the bottom of controlling stress in your life, it is first useful to understand what stress is.

First and foremost, stress is not always bad. It can actually be very good for us and have an incredibly positive effect on our lives. Other times it can have the opposite effect. The things in our lives that ultimately lead us to feeling stressed are called ‘stressors’. A stressor is anything that places a demand on us. The feeling or reaction we get from that stressor, be it physical or emotional, is the stress so many of us talk about.

Types of stress

When that demand has a positive effect on us, it falls under the category of ‘eustress’ (pronounced ‘you-stress’). These types of stressors promote feelings of motivation, excitement and generally drive us to be more productive and happier. Examples of eustress may include getting a new job, getting married, buying your first home or going on holiday.

When the demand has a negative effect on us, we call this ‘distress’. Feelings of distress include anxiety, worry and concern, which generally lead us to become less productive in our lives. Examples of distress include losing a job, getting divorced, selling your long-term family home or injuring yourself.

Coping with stress

If you are finding yourself living a life of constant ‘distress’ and things are getting too much, then it’s useful to know some techniques / things to try to offload the stress. A barrage of negatively stressful situations over a long period of time can have a negative effect on your mental and physical health. It’s good news however, that some of the most effective treatments for stress management are simple and easy to implement into your life with a little bit of planning.

Examples of stress management techniques include:

  • Breathing: This sounds simple, but you’d be surprised how poorly some people breathe. Time spent going through some deep breathing exercises, learning to use your diaphragm and abdomen, can really calm the system when you’re feeling stressed.
  • Exercise: One of the best things you can do to flip stress on its ugly head is to get out and move. Walk, jog, run, cycle, go to the gym, kayak, rollerblade, play basketball or football, anything… Literally anything that can take you out of the stressful situation and allow you to focus your mind elsewhere can have a profound effect on helping you control those distressful feelings and reactions. Having a regular hobby is something we strongly recommend you consider bringing into your life. Break up the rat-race!
  • Planning: If life is hectic, and that stresses you out in a bad way, try planning your life a bit more. Have a schedule you can easily stick to. Maybe some order in your life is just what you need. Disorder is most definitely one of those ‘distressors’ for many people. You can plan meals, have a bedtime schedule for the kids, an exercise schedule for you and your partner, or a work schedule which allows you to plan some down-time during the day to unwind a little bit before it all kicks off for the afternoon.
  • Drink water, eat healthily: If you are good at hitting your water, fruit and vegetable targets each day, and steering clear of the indulgent foods, you’ll know how good you can feel from that alone. Having a poor diet and leaving yourself dehydrated each day is itself a negative stressor for your body. You’ll likely feel sluggish, tired, irritable and demotivated. How are you then meant to deal with all the other demanding tasks being thrown at you day-to-day? Give yourself a healthy baseline and your bucket may not overfill quite so quickly.
  • Talk: A great way to deal with stress is to talk it out with a loved one, close friend, or a professional. Being stressed can leave you feeling helpless and unable to organise your thoughts and feelings into something that makes sense to you. Why not have a little help? A doctor, psychologist, life coach or counsellor may be just what you are looking for. They can teach you ways to organise your mind, calm your life and leave you feeling ready for each day.

If you would like to learn more about stress, the effect it can have on your body, and ways in which to deal with it, please speak to us next time you are in. Osteopaths are full of wise, helpful lifestyle advice that can help you to start leading the life you want. We can also help put you in touch with the right professionals, should you want to go down that path.

References

  1. Healthline. 2019. Eustress vs. Distress: When Your Stress Might Actually Be Doing You Good. [Online]. Available from: https://www.healthline.com/health/how-to-harness-eustress. [Accessed 08 February 2021]
  2. Li, CT. et al. 2016. Eustress or distress: an empirical study of perceived stress in everyday college life. [Online]. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/308043050_Eustress_or_distress_an_empirical_study_of_perceived_stress_in_everyday_college_life. [Accessed 08 February 2021]

Injury blog: Facet lock

Neck pain

Hello readers! We hope you’ve had an enjoyable Christmas and sent 2020 off with the bang it deserved. We’re kicking things off with a blog about neck pain relating to small joints in our neck known as facet joints. Are you waking up to 2021 with a pain in your neck? You might have had one too many sleeps in the armchair over the festive period. And maybe the exercise dropped off a bit as focus changed to family get-togethers and binging in front of the TV after an exhausting year. Never fear, we’ve got your back (oops… we mean neck!)

What are facet joints?

Facet joints are small joints in the neck, formed between bony parts of two adjacent vertebrae. With a few exceptions, you can find a pair of facet joints at each level of the spine: one on the left, one on the right. These joints, along with the disc connection between vertebrae, are responsible for allowing and restricting movements of the spine, depending on what region of the spine you are looking at. For example, the facet joints in the neck are orientated to allow a relatively wide range of motion in all planes of movement… Flexion and extension, rotation, and side-bending (lateral flexion). When we look over our shoulder to check our blind spot in the car, we are mainly using movement in our neck to get there.

If you move to the low back region of the spinal column, the facet joints are orientated in a slightly different way, allowing plenty of flexion and extension, but minimal rotation. This allows us to bend our bodies forwards and backwards easily.

What is a facet lock?

This condition is pretty self-explanatory from its name. A facet lock is a facet joint that is ‘locked’ or severely restricted in movement. This type of joint is what we call a synovial joint. This means it’s a joint that is held together by a joint capsule and is filled with a lubricating fluid, known as synovial fluid. A facet joint tends to lock when it has been overloaded with excessive forces acting upon it. This tends to occur over time and results in a ‘straw that breaks the camel’s back’ moment. It can also happen following a quick jerking movement of the neck, where a sudden large force is placed upon the joints and it is too much for them to bear. The tissue around the joints, including the overlying muscles which drive the movement stiffen and may go into spasm, and you are left with a neck that is extremely painful to move.

More often than not, we are moving poorly above and/or below the joint, leaving it struggling to hold everything together and keep movement going. The body is good at compensating for poor movement up to a point, and then failure is inevitable, unless we intervene.

Signs and symptoms

The signs and symptoms of a facet lock in the neck include:

  • Neck pain
  • Restricted neck movement
  • Restricted mid-back and shoulder movement
  • Headache (this is more likely if neck movement is not restored following injury)
  • Inability to perform daily tasks such as checking your blind spot whilst driving (we strongly suggest if you cannot turn your neck, to NOT get behind the wheel of a vehicle) and looking/reaching up to a kitchen cupboard

After the initial onset of pain, you will progressively lose movement in your neck over the next few hours. The following few days will be painful while your body deals with the acute inflammation occurring in and around the joint. Slowly but surely, you will begin to notice movement becoming easier and pain reducing.

We recommend coming to see us sooner rather than later. When inflammation is fresh and everything is really restricted, it is sometimes difficult to reach a 100% accurate diagnosis on the first session. But after careful questioning and consideration of your medical history, the majority of the time we can come to a solid working diagnosis. If we cannot, and we feel something else is going on, we may refer you on for a second opinion, or for imaging. Nine times out of ten, with a simple facet lock there aren’t any serious signs and symptoms which will make us question our course of action… it usually just bloomin’ hurts and is difficult to move your head. In those cases, we can get to work immediately.

Treatment

A locked, compressed and inflamed facet joint usually responds pretty well to some gentle traction of the neck. Traction techniques gently separate the joint surfaces, allowing for movement of fluid and for everything to calm down nicely. If you are super locked up and restricted, traction and very gentle neck mobilisations may be all we’re able to do in the early stages. We’ll cast an eye over the areas above and below the injury site to see what’s going on there, and treat those accordingly. Restoring movement in a non-painful area away from the injury site is commonly what’s needed to help calm everything down quick-smart. All being well, when you get up off the table after your first treatment, your pain will have reduced and your movement will have improved. Over the next few sessions, we will capitalise on this and aim to restore full function to your neck within 8-10 sessions, across a period of 8-12 weeks. These time periods are rough estimates and always depend on whether you do your homework with exercise, living well and avoiding potentially aggravating activities for a short time.

Injuries like these are usually the result of many years of poor movement. We encourage you to look long-term with your treatment goals. Injuries that take years to build up will not be undone in a few weeks. Yes, we will get your pain down and your movement up, but to get truly strong and mobile takes months to fully achieve. Our aim will be to get you to that point where the injury is not likely to return once treatment stops and you return to normal daily living.

Neck pain? Call us today 9078 2455 book an appointment.

References
1. Chila, A. et al. 2011. Foundations of osteopathic medicine. 3rd ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
2. Snell, R. 2012. Clinical anatomy by regions. 9th ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

January clean-up

Healthy vegetable smoothie and juice. Selective focus

Looking to start 2021 with a clean slate? This blog isn’t about setting resolutions (although we can always help you do that if you desire), but rather giving you some tips on how to start the new year with a fresh body. The old saying “you get out what you put in” is very accurate. The Christmas break is notoriously full of rich, indulgent food, too much alcohol and not enough moving! Our bodies can cope with this for a short period, but long-term it begins to dislike us. Here’s how to clean-up and give your body the chance it deserves to be its best, for you.

Tips for cleaning-up your act

The following tips are just some of many pieces of advice we could give you to clean-up your act and start feeling alive again:

  1. Eat foods rich in antioxidants

This is a great way to start helping your insides detox. All of those sugary, fatty foods, soft drinks, alcohol and sleepless nights over the festive period will have left your body with a build-up of toxins. Now you need to rid your body of those toxins to begin feeling normal again. Eating foods rich in vitamins and minerals are a great way to increase your antioxidant intake. In particular, try to eat foods rich in the following vitamins and minerals to clean out the system:

  • Vitamin A: Liver, kidney, oily fish (e.g. mackerel), carrots, red capsicum, tomatoes, spinach
  • Vitamin C: Chilies, kiwi fruit, citrus fruits, guava, mangoes, papaya
  • Vitamin E: Almonds, hazelnuts and peanuts, sunflower seeds, corn and wheatgerm oil
  • Copper: Nuts, cereals, meat and organ meats (i.e. liver and kidney)
  • Zinc: Lamb, shellfish, leafy green and root vegetables, milk, eggs, whole grains
  • Selenium: Brazil nuts, poultry, fish, eggs, meat and organ meats (examples above)
  • Drink water, water, and more water!

Water is life-giving. Without it, we die within 3 days (depending on the person). That’s a pretty scary thought. Our bodies are also somewhere between 60-70% water, and they rely on us to replenish our water stores regularly and daily. All of the internal chemical processes that occur in our bodies (without us even knowing they are happening) require water for them to occur. When the body is low on water, these internal processes begin to struggle, and we begin to feel pretty terrible. Water is purifying for the body and it’s a pivotal part of any clean-up or detox (whatever you want to call it). We don’t think we need to give you any more reasons for drinking lots of water every day, so get to it. To help the system a bit more, reduce the amount of caffeinated, alcoholic and sugary soft drinks you are consuming and try to concentrate on just water. Your body will love you for it.

  • Exercise daily

What better way to purify the body than literally sweating it all out!? Get into an exercise routine for the new year, or just pick up where you left off if you slumped a bit over Christmas. If you’re not a fan of jogging, running or gym-going, then consider swimming. Swimming is great for the whole body and gives the joints a rest from high impact experienced in running or lifting weights in the gym. And if you can find yourself a lovely warm salt pool or natural ocean or rock pool, then your skin will also benefit from the cleansing action of the saltwater. If you’re not up for swimming, then try a walk a day. A stroll in the park surrounded by lots of green trees is great for the mind, body and soul.

We don’t want to overload you with stuff to try, so we’ll leave it there for now. Give some or all of these a go and come and let us know how you feel after a few weeks. We think you’ll love the results!

Happy New Year! Oh… and now would be a great time to come see us for a new year full body check! You know what to do…

References

1. Webster-Gandy, J. et al. 2012. Oxford handbook of nutrition and dietetics. 2nd ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press

Injury blog: Plantar fasciopathy or fasciitis

Image x-ray of a feet with red pain

It’s morning, and the alarm clock has just told you it’s time to get out of bed. Another few minutes won’t hurt. You check your emails, social media sites, and you even ring your mum to see how the dog slept last night… basically anything to delay putting your feet on the ground and taking those first steps to get the day started. And it’s because of this pain you’ve been getting on the bottom of your heel every morning for the last few weeks. And it’s getting worse… Time to see your osteopath!

There are a few things that can cause pain on the bottom of the heel, but the most common cause is a condition named plantar fasciopathy (pronounced ‘fash-ee-op-a-thee’ — previously known as plantar fasciitis (pronounced ‘fash-ee-i-tis’)).

What is plantar fasciopathy?

Plantar fasciopathy is an overuse condition affecting the plantar fascia. The plantar fascia is a layer of soft tissue that stretches along the bottom of the foot, from the heel bone to the metatarsal bones in the front of the foot. It helps to provide stability to the arch of the foot and is similar in make-up to a tendon (the things that attach muscle to bone). If too much stress is placed on this structure, over time the tissue can degenerate, weaken, and start to give you pain. The pain is commonly felt where the plantar fascia attaches into the heel bone.

Risk factors

Scientific research suggests there are a few groups of people who are more prone to developing plantar fasciopathy. These include:

  • Runners
  • People who are over-weight and lead a sedentary lifestyle and/or spend long periods standing for work (e.g. a factory worker)

Important things to consider with these at-risk groups include:

  • Foot alignment and arch height: Having a very low or high arch or having excessive or not enough movement in the foot joints can lead to the development of this problem.
  • Amount of training: Increased levels of training can place greater stress on the plantar fascia more regularly.
  • Footwear: Wearing certain types of footwear when training can lead to an increased risk of plantar fasciopathy (i.e. wearing athletics spikes, or the wrong footwear for your foot type).
  • Muscle strength and flexibility: Decreased strength in the muscles that control toe movement, as well as weakened and tight calf, hamstring and gluteal muscles are all associated with higher rates of plantar fasciopathy.

Signs and symptoms

The signs and symptoms of plantar fasciopathy include:

  • Pain at the bottom of the heel
  • Pain that appears as a gradual onset
  • Pain felt first thing in the morning (i.e. taking those first steps out of bed in the morning is classic!)
  • Pain that decreases with activity, but increases again afterwards (early stages)
  • Pain that increases with activity and pain felt at night (latter stages)
  • Pain felt after periods of prolonged rest during the day (i.e. being sat at your desk for 2-3 hours and then getting up again)
  • Tight calf, hamstring and gluteal muscles
  • Weak muscles that help to support the arch of the foot
  • Stiff or over-flexible foot and ankle joints

Diagnosis and treatment

First things first, if you have heel pain that sounds similar to the picture we have painted above, make an appointment with us now (you know what to do… call us on 9078 2455 Once we have asked the relevant questions, performed the necessary tests, and are convinced that  the issue stems from the plantar fascia, we will formulate a plan with you with short and long-term goals to reach within a set time.

Initial hands-on treatment will include a combination of massage, joint mobilisation and manipulation, and dry needling of the lower limb muscleswith the aim of correcting any mechanical issues that are playing a role in this issue. Depending on the presentation, we may also use tape around the foot and ankle to provide support and reduce the stress being placed on the tissues. Other treatment will include advice on weight loss (if required), training regimen, footwear, and exercise prescription that helps to lengthen and strengthen tight and weak muscles. Some cases of plantar fasciopathy may require a foot orthotic or in-sole to provide extra support to the foot whilst wearing shoes. We can advise on footwear too!

Plantar fasciopathy is a tricky condition to treat which may require ongoing treatment for several months. We will endeavour to get you pain-free in the shortest time possible, so we recommend following all advice to a T, which may include a reduction in the amount of training you are doing at present. When you start to hit goals and we see improvements being made, we’ll have you back up to your full training program before you can say “plantar fasciopathy”.

Imaging?

People regularly ask if they need imaging for such an issue, but the majority of cases of plantar fasciopathy can be diagnosed with a thorough case history and physical assessment. This is where we excel! Imaging is there for cases that do not respond to treatment and for those instances where we need to rule out a more serious problem.

If you need help with heel pain, please call us today on 9078 2455 to book your appointment. Let’s have you putting your best foot forward, ASAP! ?

Functions of the skin

Skin anatomy abstract blue design

Question… Which is the largest organ in the human body? A lot of people think the answer is the brain, lungs or liver when asked this question. When in fact, the answer is the skin. All of the skin combined in a big heap would weigh more than any other organ. The skin equates to approximately 7% of total body weight in an average adult. It’s an incredibly intricate structure that forms the outer layers of our bodies. But why do we have skin? Read on to find out all the cool things our skin does for us…

Functions of the skin

The skin has six main jobs to do on a day-to-day basis. These include:

  • Controlling body temperature: The skin does a fantastic job of keeping our body temperature stable. It does this in two ways: through sweating, and changes in blood flow, depending on the temperature of the air around us. If we are in a hot climate, our body releases sweat from glands in the skin. The blood vessels that run through the skin also get wider allowing increased blood flow, therefore releasing heat from the body. This process reverses in cold climates. We sweat less and the blood vessels get narrower, reducing the amount of blood flow which helps the body retain heat. Magic!
  • Storing blood: The skin acts as a reservoir of blood. Within the thin layers of the skin are lots of blood vessels which, at rest (i.e. sitting or lying down), hold somewhere between 8-10% of the total blood in the body. That’s a LOT of blood!
  • Protection: Our bodies are covered in one big protective coating. The skin protects us from the outside world and much of what it throws at us. Our skin is made up of very tightly packed, minuscule cells that produce a hardy protein known as Keratin. This protects the tissues inside us from heat, scratches, chemicals and any nasties that are floating around. Special glands in the skin produce an oily substance which covers our skin and hairs to stop them from drying out. Our sweat is also acidic and protects against nasty germs. Pigment in our skin protects us from the sun’s harmful UV rays. Finally, there are other special types of cells that recognise any nasties that have made their way through the skin layers and alerts our immune system to send in the soldiers to kill the unwanted guests. It really works hard to keep you safe!
  • Sensation: Within the layers of our skin there are thousands of tiny structures known as receptors, which help us to detect certain sensations. Nerve endings do a similar job. These sensations include touch, vibration, pressure, tickling, heat, cold, and pain.

Absorption and excretion: i.e. taking in and getting rid! Absorption refers to the movement of substances from the outside world, through the skin and into our bodies. We can absorb certain vitamins, drugs (think about a hydrocortisone cream), gases (oxygen and carbon dioxide), as well as many other substances through our skin. Many of these are good substances that we need to live. Others can be harmful to our bodies.

Excretion refers to the removal of waste substances from the body. Our sweat is one way we can get rid of these waste substances. We also lose water from the skin through the process of evaporation.

  • Vitamin D production: We need Vitamin D for many processes in the body. Vitamin D is produced when he sun’s UV rays hit our exposed skin. Vitamin D is used to help the body absorb calcium from food that we eat. Both of these substances are important for good bone and muscle health. Vitamin D also plays a major role in our immune system function when we need to fight off an invasion of microbes. It is also needed by the body to reduce levels of inflammation.

Impressed? We are. How cool is skin?! Or is it hot…? Oh, whatever ‘tickles’ your fancy! ?

Fractures Let’s ‘break’ it down

Have you ever broken a bone? We hope you haven’t, but it’s a common injury that happens to people every day! Any break in the structure of a bone is known as a ‘fracture’. We’ve written a quick guide to understanding all the lingo relating to fractures below. Let’s check it out!

Cause

Fractures are usually caused in one of three ways:

  • Excessive force: This can be through either a direct force to a body part (i.e. a high tackle in football which breaks the shin-bone) or an indirect force (i.e. having your foot planted and twisting your leg which leads to a fracture of the shin-bone).
  • Repetitive stress: These result from repetitive, strenuous activities like running or jumping.
  • Other disease: These are fractures secondary to another disease process in the body which leaves the bone more prone to breaking. This may be a hereditary disease like Osteogenesis Imperfecta (aka Brittle bone disease) or as a result of cancer or infection.

Types of fracture: General description

Fractures are broadly classified into two main types:

  • Closed: The bone fractures and the overlying skin remains intact.
  • Open: The bone fractures and protrudes through the skin exposing the bone and other tissues to the elements. These types of fractures are prone to becoming infected, which complicates everything.

We can also classify fractures on whether they are:

  • Complete: A clean break of a bone into two or more pieces
  • Incomplete: The bone is not completely broken with some of the outer structure of the bone remaining intact.

Types of fracture: Now let’s REALLY break it down!

Each fracture can also be given a more specific description based on where exactly the bone is broken and in what way it has broken:

  • Transverse: A horizontal break across the shaft of a bone.
  • Linear / fissure: A vertical break along the shaft of a bone.
  • Oblique / spiral: A diagonal, or as the name suggests, spiral type fracture around the shaft of a bone.
  • Greenstick: One side of a bone has broken but the other side remains intact. This is common in children where bones are much more flexible than adult bones.
  • Comminuted: The bone is broken into more than two pieces, possibly into several fragments
  • Impacted: Two parts of a bone fracture are forced into one another
  • Crush: Usually seen in the spine caused by vertical and forward bending forces down through the vertebrae
  • Hairline: A tiny crack in the bone — these are so small that they are commonly missed on an x-ray!
  • Avulsion: A piece of bone is ripped away from the main bone by way of tendon or ligament injury. (Remember tendon attaches muscle to bone and ligament attaches bone to bone).

Which type of fracture have you had in the past? We hope this guide will help you work it out. Next time you come across a fracture (fingers crossed you don’t) you’ll know exactly what the doctors are talking about!

Stay safe!

References

  1. Brukner, P. et al. 2017. Clinical Sports Medicine. 5th ed. Australia: McGraw Hill Education
  2. Xui, P. 2012. Pathology. 4th ed. UK: Elsevier Mosby
  3. Tortora, G. and Derrickson, B. 2011. Principles of Anatomy and Physiology. 13th ed. Asia: John Wiley & Sons
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Should I see an Osteo if I have a headache?

Hello readers! It’s a new month which can mean only one thing… It’s time for a cuppa and a sit down so you can read our new blog. This month’s blog topic is one that millions of Australians (and billions around the world) can relate to. Have you ever had a headache? We’d be surprised if you said no, because a headache is one of the most common symptoms experienced by our species. Nearly everyone at some point in their life experiences a headache. If you or someone you know is part of the minority that has never had one, then come forth… Medical researchers will want to get their hands on you!

The list of headache types is as long as the distance between your shoulder and the tips of your fingers! Some types of headache are very common, others very rare. Some of the different types of headache include:

  • Tension-type
  • Migraine
  • Cervicogenic (i.e. something in the neck leading to pain felt at the head)
  • Eyestrain
  • Withdrawal
  • Dehydration
  • Temporomandibular joint dysfunction (i.e. a problem with the jaw joint causing head pain)
  • Many others of non-serious and serious causes

The burning question

If you have been a headache sufferer for a long time, there is a good chance you have tried every remedy out there. Finding the solution is hard, but fear not, help is at hand! We regularly get asked “can you help me with my headaches?” The answer is always “maybe”, but there is a good chance we can. So why see an osteo over another medical professional? The short answer is we’re awesome! The long answer is we are experts of anatomy of the human body (4-5 years of study!), we sit and listen to you tell your story, we have excellent problem-solving and clinical skills, we have magically soft, caring hands, and we are highly trained to help people get to the bottom of their ailments, headaches included. Other medical professionals are also awesome, we just love the osteopathic philosophy of treating the person and the body as a whole.

What to expect from your osteo

The reason a person is in pain is usually down to many factors. It is therefore very important to get a full story from each patient that presents with a problem. This is where we shine. Your initial consultation will entail a very thorough questioning session where we ask you lots of questions about your current issue, the history surrounding it, and other questions relating to your medical, lifestyle and work history. From the word go, we will be painting a picture of what is going on with you. From the information you give us and the questions we ask, we will be ruling in or out which type of headache you could be experiencing.

Some types of headache have very specific features, and we may be able to come to a conclusion quite quickly. Other types may be less easy to recognise, but by the end of the questioning we will have a list of conditions in our mind that we need to test for. This is where we perform our clinical tests. Some of the more common types of headache are due to problems relating to the muscles and joints around the neck and head region, so we’ll ask if we can have a good feel of these areas. We’ll watch you move, then we’ll move you around, feel and compare between the two. We may need to test the nerves that give your head and neck their function, or we may need to take your blood pressure… Either way, we can do it all.

For headaches, we will be particularly interested in what your head, neck, mid-back, shoulders and general posture look and feel like and how everything moves together. We will always be looking at the bigger picture though, so if you’re wondering why we’re checking the levels of your pelvis or the length of your legs, it’s because we’re searching for every possible reason as to why your headache is occurring. After careful consideration and once we are happy with our diagnosis, we will sit and have a chat about what is going on and what the plan is to get you feeling good again. At this point we’ll get to work on your body using the many techniques we have at our disposal. We will also offer advice on any lifestyle changes you may need to make to ensure the headache is being attacked from all angles. A headache diary is often a suggestion so we can keep track of your headaches from week to week. However, this will be discussed in your initial consultation.

Sometimes a headache can be the sign of a more serious problem that we may not be able to help you with. If this is the case, we will ensure you are directed towards the right people for the job. This may entail us writing a letter to your GP with our findings and recommendations. Whether we treat or not, you will receive the highest level of care from us. We pride ourselves on it!

Final comments

If you or anyone you know is experiencing headaches, please pick up the phone and call us on 9078 2455.  Now you know what we can do to help, we hope the next time you are asked the question “Should I see an osteo if I have headaches?” your answer will be a solid YES!

P.s. We can even help with ice cream headaches (a.k.a ‘brain freeze’)… Our advice is simple—slow down and enjoy it! (we get how hard that is)

References:

  1. Migraine & Headache Australia. 2019. What is headache. [Online]. Available from: https://headacheaustralia.org.au/what-is-headache/. [Accessed 15 Jan 2020]
  2. Migraine & Headache Australia. 2019. Headache types. [Online]. Available from: https://headacheaustralia.org.au/types-of-headaches/. [Accessed 15 Jan 2020]
  3. Biondi, BM. 2005. Cervicogenic headache: a review of diagnostic and treatment strategies. The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association. 105 (4). 16S-22S. Available from: https://jaoa.org/article.aspx?articleid=2093083
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Injury blog: Muscle strain

Have you ever gone to reach your leg out for a ball just that little bit too far, or tried to suddenly sprint off from a standing still position and felt a painful tug, pull or tearing sensation in your leg? If you have, there is every chance you have been the recipient of a strained muscle. Muscle strains (aka ‘tears’) are up there as one of the most common conditions we treat in the clinic. A strain can theoretically occur anywhere in the body where there is muscle tissue (which is almost everywhere in the body!), but some muscles are more susceptible to straining than others. Interested to know more? Read on…

What is a muscle strain?

Our muscles are essentially made up of a combination of contractile and non-contractile tissues. So, parts that actively move and contract, and parts that do not actively move and contract, respectively. Throw in some protein, fat, water, a whole heap of intertwining membranes all arranged in long fibres, and bingo… you have a muscle (it’s a bit more complex than that, but you get the gist!). Simplistically, at the end of each muscle is a tendon, which attaches it to a bone. When the muscle contracts, it pulls on the bones and movement of the body occurs.

Proteins within the muscle fibres are responsible for creating the force required to move a body part. When the force is too great for the muscle to handle (for example when we stretch or load it beyond its limit), the whole system fails and a strain or tearing of the muscle fibres (and possibly it’s associated tendon) occurs.

The most strained muscles of the body are the hamstrings, calf and quadriceps muscles. These are large leg muscles that are exposed to the highest amounts of force in the body.

Grades of a strain

Strains are graded based on the severity of the injury:

  • Grade 1: Only a few fibres are torn
  • Grade 2: A greater proportion of fibres are torn, but not all of them
  • Grade 3: A complete tear of all fibres

A grade three strain has the largest amount of damage to the muscle and so has the longest recovery time. It is important to note that there is no hard and fast rule with recovery though, as similar graded strains between different people can take varying amounts of time to recover (meaning it’s not just about physical damage when it comes to recovery!).

Signs and symptoms

Signs and symptoms of a muscle strain include:

  • Pain (due to irritation of nerve endings during the tearing process)
  • Bruising (due to damage to small blood vessels within the muscle)
  • Swelling
  • Loss of strength and function in the affected body part

Treatment

Initial treatment for a muscle strain focusses on reducing the immediate symptoms of pain, swelling and loss of movement, as well as limiting the amount of scar tissue formation that occurs during the recovery process. Expect us to ask you to continue moving! Movement is key to muscle recovery, but at the same time it is important not to continually damage the recovering muscle fibres, so we’ll advise you to steer clear of over-stretching the area and keeping any movements slow and within a pain-free range.

Ice and compression may be used early on to control and reduce swelling and pain. We may also help this process using our hands by gently massaging the areas around the site of the tear (but not directly on it).

Once the initial symptoms have subsided, it will be time to progressively ramp up the movement and exercise. We will also be able to get more hands-on around the area, whilst always ensuring the areas distant from the injury are staying pain free and functioning well too. Remember, a tear in your calf will have a direct effect on your upper leg, pelvis and low back. We’ll keep your body in check!

Focus can start to switch to faster and more powerful exercises. When a muscle tears, it loses strength, and you feel that with reduced ability to perform a normal everyday task. Strength needs to be built back up so the muscle can start to withstand and transmit greater forces passing through it again. There are a few different elements to strength training that can be quite confusing to get your head around, but do not worry. We know how your muscle should work and will continually assess you and progress you as appropriate.

The ultimate aim is to achieve a return to your pre-injury level of fitness so you can return to playing, working and living as you were before the injury occurred. Although having some extra fitness in the tank is always a good thing, so if we work you extra hard with the exercises, it’s so you return fitter than you were before being injured. This greatly reduces your chance of injuring the same body part again in the future.

Have you strained a muscle and are ready to say goodbye pain? Look no further than your trusty osteo! Call us today on 9078 2455 to book your appointment and get ready to wave hello to us… and goodbye to that muscle strain!