The sciatic nerve is the longest and thickest nerve in the body. Nerves roots exit the spine from the levels L4-S3 and join together to form the sciatic nerve. It supplies the sensation and muscles of the leg. Sciatic pain can come in many forms. It can cause excruciating pain deep in the buttock, down the back of the leg, the ankle, the foot. It can cause pins and needles, numbness and weakness in the leg and the foot.
It's said that around 40% of people will suffer from sciatica once in their life time. Sciatica simply means pain in the sciatic nerve. There can however, be a few causes of pain which normally arise because the sciatic nerve is compressed by the structures it lies next to, or pierces through.
Prolapsed disc - AKA herniated disc or disc bulge
A disc can bulge and press onto the sciatic nerve. This is very painful indeed. Symptoms can include pain that is worsened with coughing, sneezing, blowing your nose. Sitting and bending is unbearable. Herniated discs can improve but occasionally surgical intervention is needed to solve them.
***Symptoms that require urgent medical attention***: numbness in the 'saddle' area in between the legs; from the genitals to the anus, difficulty passing urine and loss of control of bowel movements, severe pain and symptoms of numbness down both legs at the same time. These symtoms are a sign of cauda equina syndrome and could require urgent surgery to prevent long term damage to these areas.
Facet (spinal) joint and sacroiliac joint inflammation
These joints are formed at the back of the spinal column and pelvis, close to where the nerve roots exit the spine. Dysfunction and inflammation of one of these joints can irritate the nerve and cause pain.
A very common is piriformis syndrome. This muscle in the back of the hip/deep buttock can spasm/tighten or become strained- often due to repetitive pressure from sitting, or for example a fall which then can irritate the nerve. In some people the nerve runs through the muscle, so when it goes into spasm it clamps around the nerve! You can imagine how painful that can be!
When degeneration of the spine has become so severe, the joints and discs deform and start to impinge on the nerves before they exit the spine. It gets worse with walking, but the pain is greatly relieved by walking with a shopping trolley - or when cutting the grass! The stooped forward posture takes the pressure off the nerves by opening the worn joints.
Like with any pain, the cause can be from other pathology including cancer. Red Flags for this include unremitting pain, which is worse at night and not aggravated or relieved by movement. Other symptoms: night sweats, loss of appetite, unexplained weight loss, change in bladder or bowel pattern and general feeling of malaise. It goes without saying that a visit to your GP is highly important if you are experiencing this.
How can an Osteopath Help?
When you visit us for an appointment we ask a load of questions, perform movement and orthopaedic tests to find out where your sciatica is coming from, and to check the level of compression of the nerve. We then treat accordingly and give you exercises to help continue the healing process. We explain what we've found and what we will do. Treatments include massage, mobilisations and if certain criteria fits we might manipulate too. It really depends on what we find on the day.
If you have sciatica and want it diagnosed and fixed, come in and see one of our osteopaths or our sports therapist today. Call or book online.
Most people will suffer with back pain at some point. At Bearsden Osteopaths we diagnose and treat back pain - there can be many causes which produce pain. Here are a few:
There are lots of muscles in the lower back and if we overstretch and load them too much, they can strain, tear and become painful. They normally can heal pretty well given the right encouragement.
This is when the spinal joints become strained and inflammed. They can lock up too, causing limited movement. Alongside this, muscles will become tight (hypertonic) and sometimes even spasm to protect the joint.
This is the joint that is either side of the sacrum at the back of the pelvis. This is commonly affected in pregnant ladies as it can become overly mobile. Muscles around the lower back and hip tighten to protect the joint from moving further = pain and restriction
This can happen if the back has been overstrained, or if the person is particularly mobile.
The discs in between the vertebrae naturally become thinner over time. Our discs are at our best when we are in our 20's...it's all downhill after that! It's not all bad though. Disc degeneration or thinning otherwise known as spondylosis doesn't have to be painful. You can scan anyone on the street and find all sorts of anomalies: some will have pain, some won't.
To diagnose the painful thing in your back, we perform various tests to figure out what is going on. Normally, there's more than one thing that has strained; it's multifactorial. We also test for underlying sources of your pain i.e. you could have a restricted hip, or ankle, or a weaker gluteal muscle group which has affected the mechanics of your back which eventually causes strain.
If there is no apparent reason for your back pain, and you've just woken up with it it's normally due to some kind of postural or alignment issue which we can certainly help with and it's likely some low back pain has been 'brewing' for a while. The body is excellent at adapting to issues, but then it can take a trivial little movement like bending, sneezing or simply 'turning the wrong way' to set it off!
There are more sinister causes for back pain. We take a thorough case history in the first consultation to rule out any serious pathology that could be the cause of your pain to ensure you are safe to treat. If we suspect anything else, we refer you straight back to your GP to ask for further tests to be performed. This is thankfully rare, and remember back pain is extremely common! So even if you are in immense pain, it's very likely it's due to a mechanical cause (i.e. the above list) and some osteopathic treatment along with our expert advice, it will settle down soon.
Any of the above tissues can also impinge on the nerves coming out of your spine and cause sciatica; pain in the leg. This can also be accompanied by pins and needles, numbness and weakness. We can diagnose and treat sciatica in most cases too.
If you'd like to learn more about your back pain, call us or book online to make an appointment
One of the many techniques osteopaths perform is a “manipulation” or “adjustment”. This is commonly performed in the neck, midback, or lower back, although they can also be performed in the joints of the limbs. There may or may not be a pop during the technique, and research has shown that it is not necessary for the technique to be deemed suitable.
Your osteopath will always discuss the benefits and relative risks involved in manipulation, so you can make the decision whether you want it performed. Alternatively, there are other methods and techniques that we are trained to perform aimed at returning you back to health. We always make sure you are a good candidate for a safe manipulation and it definitely should not hurt.
Do I need imaging of my back?
One of the most common questions asked by patients is whether they need an MRI or X-Ray of their back. Understandably, having low back pain can be a worrying experience and everybody wants to know the reason for it!
However low back pain is very common, with up to 84% of the population experiencing it at some point in their life. Majority of these cases (95%) are totally benign and without a specific cause. This means is that there is no serious cause such as fracture, infection, cancer, or other underlying condition.
Based on your pain history and signs & symptoms, your osteopath or GP will be able decide which category you are more likely to fit in.
Signs that mean you should see your GP/A & E
Following a fall from great height
Groin area numbness
Loss of you control of your bowels or urination
Extreme weakness of your arms and/or legs
If you fit into the 95% group where there is no serious cause for your back pain, then imaging of your spine is unlikely to show anything useful. In most cases imaging doesn’t show the reason for the pain and there is little correlation between this and the intensity or disability experienced.
Studies have shown that changes on the spine are normal and common in asymptomatic patients. This means a person in pain may have the exact findings of a person with no pain. This imaging rarely changes the management or treatment of the pain.
Osteopaths are trained at recognising the signs to indicate that a scan may be of benefit. They are also trained at performed specific tests that can identify the structures that are currently sensitised. This information can be used to recommend a treatment plan with hands on treatment, an exercise plan, and goal setting aimed at helping you return to your previous activities.
If you have any concerns or want to make an appointment please just call or book online.
Help! I have back pain! by Harry Hampson M.Ost
You are probably reading this post as you now have what 84% of the population have at some point in their life – lower back pain. This can be quite a rubbish and frustrating time – especially when it stops you doing what you want to do in the day!
Below is a quick guide about lower back pain and some tips to help you get moving again.
1) DON’T PANIC
95% of the cases of back pain are non-serious (meaning they are not due to fractures, cancer, or other serious causes). This means you are unlikely to have damaged anything, slipped a disc (see “I’ve slipped a disc!” post), or require any surgery. Your back is extremely strong and is capable of many movements.
2) KEEP MOVING!
Although your body is telling you to stop and lie in bed, this is often not useful to help get over the pain in the long term. Instead, the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) recommend that you keep as active as possible during this time. Physical activity keeps the back muscles strong and teaches the brain that movement is safe.
3) USE ICE! (OR HEAT)
Often there is polarising advice on whether to use ice or heat or even both! The simple advice I can offer is use what makes you feel best! Research has shown that ice is a powerful pain modulator (meaning it overrides the pain signals to the brain making the pain feel better). Heat however is soothing and often capable of relaxing the muscles that are irritated, helping you get moving again.
4) IT MAY TAKE SOME TIME!
Most cases of low back pain tend to resolve themselves within two weeks of the original trigger. This may feel like a long time, but the body needs opportunity to fully recover and get back to before! However, if this pain continues longer than this period then we have one more recommendation…
5) SEE YOUR OSTEOPATH!
If your pain persists longer than the expected two weeks, then there may be some other factors at play. Pain can be influenced by sleeping habits, activity levels, stress, previous experiences, and friends & family! Osteopaths believe that the body is a whole and are trained to help identify any musculoskeletal contributions to your pain, advise on activity adaptations, and provide specific exercises & stretches. This may also include hands-on treatment aimed at helping the recovery process.
Harry is available at the clinic on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Call or book online to make an appointment.
With the main emphasis on treatment and rehabilitation, it is relevant to all injuries - with the main goal as not just a quick fix, but the long term fix that you've no doubt been searching for!
Each individual requires a goal, whether it is to be able to walk your dog, or if it is to make the glorious return to your 5-a-side league, your rehabilitation programme and treatment will be tailored to fit exactly to your needs.
Here's a short list of what can be treated:
Manual Therapy treatment will include Mobilisations, Sports Massage including Trigger point therapy, deep tissue massage & Swedish massage. Exercise Rehabilitation Programmes will be created to meet your needs, taking into account all contributing factors to get you back to where you need to be!
Sports Therapy uses this combination to ensure that your injury is dealt with at source, whilst targeting the underlying cause - minimising the chances of your injury reappearing.
If you have any further questions please contact Bearsden Osteopaths,
firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com 0141 942 0629
Osteoporosis is a condition that affects bone density. The bone becomes more fragile and therefore prone to fracture (breaking). An osteoporotic bone generally doesn’t look any different from the outside, but on the inside it’s pores become more porous. The inside of a healthy bone is like a matrix. With Osteoporosis the gaps in the matrix become larger as the bone disappears.
Osteoporosis affects both genders but is more common in females, especially post-menopausal women.
It’s not a painful condition, it develops slowly over years and you might only find out about it when you fracture a bone. The most common sites of fracture are the wrists and hips due to falls. Spinal fractures can occur too. This causes the body of the vertebra to become wedge shaped. This collapse causes a visible change in the posture of the person it’s happened to. They become very stooped and as a result can develop chronic back pain.
It is a normal ageing condition but can be present due to hereditary factors, other chronic diseases or because of certain medications. Once our bones have become fully formed they start to go the other way...all downhill from our mid 30’s(!) So you can see, it’s really important to look after our bones from a very early age.
In fact, the exercise we do before the age of 30 is so important as it makes our bones as strong as possible (peak bone mass) and therefore the ageing process will be delayed. Maintaining a good level of fitness helps the density of the bones to remain, especially with resistance training and body weight training e.g. walking, Pilates, Yoga.
Hormones are needed for bone development. In women it’s oestrogen and in men it’s testosterone. That’s why it is more prevalent in post-menopausal women, as their oestrogen levels lessen. In both sexes growth hormone is needed too.
The body replaces its bone by around 10% a year. Osteoblasts make new bone and osteoclasts breakdown old bone. The process of bone formation is called ossification. Osteoblasts take calcium compounds from the blood and deposit them into the bone. Vitamin D is needed for calcium to be absorbed into the blood from the small intestine. Calcium and Vitamin D are therefore important for strong bones. We get most of our Vitamin D from sunlight exposure. About 10-15 minutes a day on our face and hands (without sun protector!) should be plenty. Then, slather in sun screen to protect your skin from burning. Eat plenty of dark leafy green veggies (yum), dairy (if you can tolerate it) and oily fish. Certain foods prevent the uptake of nutrients so best to avoid these including fizzy drinks, too much caffeine and alcohol (boo).
Our bodies adapt and change according to the stresses we put it under. In the case of good stress, like weight training, the bone remains strong to adapt and cope. It’s a bit like when you train a muscle to get stronger, except for bone it needs to be a level of pressure that loads the bones at the right place and needs time to build up if you’re not used to it. Too much and even someone without osteoporosis will fracture, e.g. a runner who hasn’t worked up to that 10km slow enough, who then breaks a metatarsal in their foot
The same changes happen if we put our body under a constant low level negative stress for example, with bad posture. If we sit slumped at a computer and sit all day our bones mould into that shape. I see this happening in our youngsters, who are addicted to their mobile phones, their play stations and studying. They never look up! We don’t extend enough. But the good news is, we are malleable and over time with the right exercises we can change for the better. It’s never too late to improve posture, strength and to lessen the effects of the inevitable ageing.
Yes!! I treat many patients with the condition. We take a thorough case history to make sure any treatment we do is right for you. During the interview, be sure that you tell us you have osteoporosis. We avoid certain heavier techniques to prevent any undue harm, but rest assured you are in safe hands at Bearsden Osteopaths.
Exercise helps to maintain bone density, muscle strength, coordination and balance which prevents falls which is paramount in preventing fracture.
Eat well; eat to nourish your body. It’ll thank you for it when you’re older.
It is safe to have osteopathic treatment when you have osteoporosis – just be sure we know first!
DATA PROTECTION UPDATE – CLIENT CONFIDENTIALITY AND PRIVACY
Our policy explains how we collect, use and maintain this information.
We are Bearsden Osteopaths Ltd, Suite 2, 5 Kirk Road, Bearsden, Glasgow, East Dunbartonshire, G61 3RG, UNITED KINGDOM. We provide multiple alternative and complementary therapies services.
We respect your privacy and never sell your data. We process personal information to enable us to provide health services to our patients, to maintain our accounts and records, promote our services and to support and manage our employees.
When do we collect your personal data?
We collect data when you contact us to enquire about or make an appointment by either calling us, messaging us on social media, emailing us directly or through the ‘contact us’ page on our website. To find out what data is collected when visiting our website click here
What sort of data do we collect?
Name, contact details including home and email address, contact numbers, occupation are requested when you arrive for your appointment. You will be asked to fill in a consent form, you can choose to leave parts blank if you wish.
During the appointment the practitioner will gather medical history information relating to the health complaint in a private treatment room.
How do we protect your data?
We use reputable systems that comply with the provisions of the General Data Protection Regulation and the Data Protection Act 2018.
Your medical case history information is recorded on paper and is filed away in a lockable drawer. Only staff members have access to these drawers and keys are kept away from public view.
Online systems are secure and safe. PC’s are password protected and have AVG software installed to protect from hacking.
How long do we keep your personal data for?
We are legally obliged to store your medical files for a minimum of 8 years after conclusion of the last treatment
Who do we share your personal data with?
We do not share any medical history to anyone without prior consent from the individual.
We use Mailchimp as a marketing tool to promote our services and to let you know of up and coming events. We also send snippets of information like top tips for improving health. You will have received a newsletter to ask you to ‘opt-in’ or ‘opt out’ to these newsletters.
What are your rights over your personal data?
You have the right to gain access to the personal data we hold about you, free of charge.
Due to legal reasons, we have to keep your medical records for at least 8 years after the last treatment received.
We can remove you from the mailing list at any time you request.
This is a good time to update and correct any personal data we have and add any new health information that may have intervened since your last treatment at Bearsden Osteopaths. Just speak to your practitioner if you would like to do this.
If you require any clarification or have any further questions regarding this document please do contact our data controller Miss Linda Canning, director and osteopath, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 0141 942 0629
Let’s think about your posture when driving (you can apply this to your desk too. Or even better get a standing desk. Standing car?) Tune into it, do a little body map in your minds eye:Are you slumped? Is your torso lopsided? Do you constantly keep and arm in one position the whole time – that arm that gives you an ache in the shoulder for no apparent reason? Are you able to be more balanced form side to side? Getting yourself completely straight can be difficult in a car. Cars are not designed specifically for our individual shapes. But we can all do a few things to help our frames out when we are forced to sit.
To make an appointment call Linda and the team at Bearsden Osteopaths on 0141 942 0629. You can also book an appoinment online at www.bearsdenosteopaths.co.uk/contact-us