A majority of people will have an episode of acute back pain at some point in their lives. I see people in this condition regularly in practice. An episode of bad back pain will generally force you to do something about it, hence they go and see a chiropractor, physio or their GP etc. It is very important to get the problem assessed as pain is your body telling you that something is not right. Simply hiding the pain through medication may make it feel better but won’t necessarily fix the problem. In this post I wanted give a few tips on how you can help ease the discomfort at home after it happens and whilst you are going through your treatment program.
In the last two blog posts we have looked at ways to treat an injury and whether the RICE or METH method may be best to use. If you are going to use ice, and in some cases you definitely should, what is the best way to use it? In this post I will discuss just that. I will describe lots of ways to use ice over and above a simple icepack. Continue reading to see what they are.
In my previous post I discussed the RICE vs METH methods for dealing with an injury. One of the key differences between the two approaches is the use of ice or heat. In this post I wanted to look at the most effective ways to use heat. In my next post I will discuss the best ways to use ice, if that is the way you want to go. Heat is heat, but when it comes down to it, some sources a better than others. Continue reading to see the different ways to apply heat.
In 1978, Dr Gabe Mirkin, a former assistant professor at the University of Maryland, first used the acronym RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) as a way to treat an injury. Since then, RICE has become the standard method of dealing with an injury. However recently more and more people, and in fact Dr Mirkin himself, have started to question whether or not RICE is the best way deal with an injury. “Nobody believes in rest anymore,” Dr Mirkin says. “You can get a hip replacement and you’re on the bike 12 hours after surgery.” As for ice, “there is no data to show that ice does anything more than block pain,” he says. “And there is data that shows it delays healing.” So if RICE is not the best way to treat an injury, what would be a better way? Maybe METH is the answer. Continue reading to see what the acronym stands for.
Headaches are an extremely common occurrence in many people. The severity ranges from an annoyance to debilitating pain. They can also be short lived or last hours to days. People often think of headaches as a ‘normal’ thing. When inquiring about headaches during our initial assessments I often get the response of “I get the odd normal headache” or “I get the usual headaches”. This is an interesting response to me because headaches are not normal, you do not have to put up with headaches. In a lot of cases, they can be dealt with reasonably easily. Chiropractic care is an effective approach to helping headaches and there are several things you can do at home to help. My aim is to write a blog series on headaches and focus on several of the key types that I come across regularly in practice. For this first post I will show that chiropractic care is an effective treatment option for headaches and then I will discuss several things you can do at home to help ease the discomfort if you are unfortunate enough to be suffering from headaches. Keep reading to find out.
If you are unfortunate enough to develop acute back pain, what do you do first to help ease the discomfort? Do you grab some pain relief? Do you ice it? Do you do some stretches? Or do you go to your chiropractor for an assessment? There are lots of options!
If you are a person who regularly takes paracetamol for back pain, you may not be getting the results you want according to some new research that was published recently in The Lancet. This research was the first large randomised trial to compare the effectiveness of paracetamol with placebo for low back pain, they found that paracetamol is no better than placebo at speeding recovery from acute episodes of lower back pain or improving pain levels, function, sleep or quality of life. The findings question the universal endorsement of paracetamol as the first choice painkiller for low-back pain, say the authors. Continue reading to find out more about the research and a different, natural approach to back pain.
People often think that any pain in the leg, whether it is in the front, back or side, is called 'sciatica'. However, this is not the case. Sciatica is defined as pain or discomfort associated with the sciatic nerve which runs from the lower back, down the back of the legs to the feet. It is estimated that up to 40% of the New Zealand population will experience sciatica at some point in their lives.
To fully understand Sciatica, you first need to know what the sciatic nerve is. The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in the body and is actually composed of two nerves, the common fibular (or peroneal) nerve and the Tibial nerve. These nerves are originally formed from 5 different nerve roots in the lower lumbar spine and pelvis. These nerves join together then run down the back of the thigh to knee level where they split and one travels down the front of the lower leg and one travels down the back of the lower leg.
Lets look a bit deeper and see how sciatica occurs, how you diagnose it and most importantly, how to fix it.
Our last post looked at why and when to use heat therapy, but what about ice you may ask? It is common knowledge that if you hurt yourself playing sport, at the gym, or out in the garden, you apply ice to the area to stop swelling and inflammation. Many people spend 20-30 minutes continuously icing an aching joint or sore muscle. Research has shown that this can actually be counterproductive. Dr Romain Meeusen, a cryotherapy expert of the Free University of Brussels says that icing an area for too long can actually make the injury worse and if you are icing an injured area, it should be used with caution.
The ice and heat debate is a never ending discussion. Depending on what book you read or who you talk to, you will get different answers as to what is best and how to use them effectively. Here is my take on heat therapy.
Heat therapy can have numerous benefits and has long been associated with comfort and relaxation. However, it can provide both pain relief and healing benefits for injuries. Heat is best used for sub-acute and chronic or long term conditions.
So how does it work?
Heat therapy can help provide relief through several mechanisms:
How to use heat therapy effectively
My suggestion for using heat therapy is to have a good heat source like a wheat bag, hot pack or a heat lamp.
My favourite thing to use is a wheat bag for its ease of use and safety (if you follow the instructions and heat it correctly). If you are using a microwave to heat a wheat bag, make sure you put a cup of water in the microwave to avoid overheating the wheat.
When applying the heat I have found short bursts tend to work more effectively from a physiological perspective. Apply the heat for 20min (to make sure it penetrates deeper tissues) them remove the heat for approximately 40 min before re-applying for a further 20min. These short bursts will help bring two big rushes of fresh oxygenated and nutrient rich blood to the area to help speed up the healing process. You can leave the heat on for longer, but applying it in shorter bursts will give you the best physiological response.
We stock a range of wheatbags made locally in Whenuapai. They are great value and great quality. If you come to my practice, make sure you check them out. If you would like some more information about this article please contact us. Stay posted for the next blog on the reasons for using ice and how to use it effectively.
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