There’s an increasing amount of anecdotal evidence from people suffering from Long Covid.  This is where symptoms remain for much longer than the suggested two week period and are often accompanied by issues outside the officially recognised cough, fever and loss of taste or smell.  These most commonly include debilitating fatigue, breathlessness, muscle aches and joint pain.  Also, ‘brain fog,’ memory loss, lack of concentration, and depression. Very similar to the symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS).

What is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

The main symptom of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is feeling extremely tired and generally unwell.  But this tricky condition can also deliver a range of additional nasties.  The severity of which can vary from day to day, or even within a day.  These include:

  • muscle and/or joint pain
  • headaches
  • sleep issues
  • brain fog – problems thinking, remembering or concentrating
  • a sore throat or sore glands that are not swollen.
  • flu-like symptoms.
  • feeling dizzy or sick.
  • fast or irregular heartbeats (heart palpitations)

Over the past few weeks, Osteopath Robin Kiashek has seen an increase in the number of patients presenting with these types of symptom.

Robin said: “Several of the patients I’ve seen with CFS symptoms know they have had COVID.  But, of course, we will never know how many people have already had it but were asymptomatic.”

What can be done to ease the symptoms of CFS?

Robin has been a licensed practitioner in The Perrin Technique™ for CFS/ME and Fibromyalgia for over 10 years.

This is a manual method that aids the diagnosis and possible treatment of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/ME.  It was developed by Osteopath and neuroscientist Dr Raymond Perrin DO PhD in 1989.

What is the Perrin Technique™?

The Perrin Technique™ is based on Dr Perrin’s theory that different stress factors whether physical, allergies, emotional or infections lead to an overstrain of the sympathetic nervous system.

Further investigation has led to a probable cause of this nervous system overload being a build-up of toxins in the fluid around the brain and the spinal cord.

Some of the poisons caused by infection or inflammation in the head or spine flow through channels from the brain into the lymph ducts of the head face and neck.

The toxins are also meant to drain down the spinal cord and out into the lymph ducts lying along the spine. In a CFS/ME sufferer there is a back flow of these normal drainage points which leads to further toxicity and dysfunction of the central nervous system. This leads to the many symptoms we see in CFS/ME.

Research over past 30 years has validated Dr Perrin’s theories read more about them here.

The Perrin Technique and Long COVID

Dr Perrin and his colleagues from the University of Manchester have written to a number of medical publications to highlight the potential for a post-viral syndrome to manifest following COVID-19 infection.  A similar situation was previously reported following Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) infection, also a coronavirus.

Back in the clinic

Whilst this may sound like yet another blow from the hammer that is proving to be 2020, there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Robin said: “Working with the symptoms of CFS is never straightforward and patients often end up at my door after suffering for months (if not years).

“They have frequently been subjected to a barrage of medical tests and received lots of negative results.  So, they are also feeling understandably anxious about what’s could be ailing them.

“The good news for people struggling with Long COVID symptoms is that they are fairly recent and are therefore likely to respond more quickly to treatment.  But it can still be a long haul.”

Patient X has been seeing Robin intermittently since the end of April, shortly after they started to feel unwell.

Patient X explains: “In April, I was feeling the post-viral effects of likely Covid-19 and felt I had nowhere to turn to for support from a health and well-being perspective. My GP practice still remains phone consultations-only and I was frustrated that my health wasn’t improving. I had crippling fatigue, strange neurological symptoms, insomnia, dizziness and many other symptoms following the acute viral phase.

“Luckily, I did some research and learned that the Perrin Technique might be beneficial.

“I started regular sessions with Robin and was grateful for the holistic advice. He confirmed that I had post viral fatigue which mirrors chronic fatigue syndrome and I started my Perrin Techniquesessions weekly.

“I am not 100% yet back to normal, but I feel it’s been a beneficial journey so far. I also feel empowered that I have a way of helping my recovery beyond resting and healthy eating.”

There are two Robin Kiashek Osteopath Clinics  – in Central London (on Regent Street) and in East Finchley.

If you’re suffering with any of the symptoms listed above, then why not request an appointment or call on 020 8815 0979?

What can we do to lessen the impact of working from home

Remote working or working from home (WFH) has been on the rise for the past last few years.

And since lockdown there’s been a huge spike in the number of people swapping their perfectly set up office desks to makeshift work spaces desks in their living rooms, kitchens or even bedrooms.

According to the latest statistics released by the UK’s Office for National Statistics in April, 49.2% of adults in employment were working from home as a direct result of the social distancing measures introduced in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Whilst restrictions around social distancing might be easing, there’s still a huge number of people who either work remotely permanently or for the majority of the working week.

But what physical implications and emotional does WFH create?

Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI)

Whether it’s your wrists, hands, forearms, elbows, neck or shoulders – RSI has a lot to answer for. RSI is a general term use to describe muscle, nerve and tendon pain caused by repetitive movement and overuse. It can strike anyone who performs a repetitive or high intensity action for long periods without rest. It’s also exacerbated by poor posture or activities involving working in an awkward position. Like typing on a computer or using your smartphone excessively.
Symptoms of RSI include burning, aching, or shooting pain. But you might also experience stiffness, throbbing, tingling or numbness, cramp or chronically cold hands, particularly in your fingertips.

Headaches and migraines

Bad posture, increased screen time and changes in our daily routine can all trigger tension headaches. The main feature of a migraine is a headache. But other symptoms include disturbed vision, sensitivity to light, sound and smells, feeling sick and vomiting. They can last anywhere between four to 72 hours.

Neck problems

Neck pain associated with badly positioned screens and looking down – attractively double-chinned – at mobile phones is increasingly common in this tech focussed world, and even more of an issue with so many of us now working from home.
According to The Institute of Osteopathy, tight neck and upper back muscles, stiff joints, and trapped nerves are common effects of spending too long being hunched over screens, and if left untreated, can cause splintering pains through the shoulders and hands.

Emotional implications

One of my patients told me recently that she’s always referred to her husband as her nearest and dearest. But now she just calls him her nearest! And I think that many of us can probably empathise with that feeling!
Lockdown and the ongoing working from home has put many of us in much closer proximity with family than we’re used to. And that requires emotional adjustment. Plus, there can be employment and financial worries to take into account. And stress and anxiety can bring a host of physical symptoms.

What can we do to lessen the impact of working from home?

There are a variety of ways that you can lessen the impact of working from home on your physical and emotional wellbeing.

These include:
• Set the computer screen so that’s it at eye level
• Keep your feet flat on the floor and try not to cross your legs.
• Consider a wrist rest to keep your wrists straight and at the same level as your keyboard.
• Use a headset if you use the phone a lot, rather than clamping the phone between your ear and shoulder.
• Do some simple neck exercise through the day
• Drink plenty of water through the day – the discs between the vertebrae in the spine consist mainly of water so keeping hydrated will ensure they stay healthy.
• Try to take regular breaks – these are good for body and mind. Small and frequent rests are preferable to one long one

Learn about our Home Office Ergonomics service, a service designed to improve your home working arrangements

 

As we head into Migraine Awareness Week (3rd to 8th September), here are a few facts about this disabling condition that might surprise you:

  • Migraine is the world’s third most common illness, suffered by one in seven people across the globe and eight million people here in the UK;
  • Migraines affect twice as many women as men and can also strike at young children;
  • Most sufferers have an average of 13 attacks a year, lasting between four hours and three days;
  • The World Health Organisation (WHO) categorises chronic migraines as more disabling than blindness, paraplegia, angina or rheumatoid arthritis;
  • The illness costs the UK around £2.25 billion per annum, taking into account the cost of medication and the 25 million days of sick leave!

(Sources: Migraine Trust/ Migraine Action)

 What is migraine?

Migraine is, therefore, an absolute headache in every sense of the word. But more than that, it’s actually a complex neurological condition that can affect the whole body. Usually (but not always) there’s a painful headache preceded or accompanied by disturbed vision or aura. This can present with, for example, flashing lights, blind spots, zig zag patterns, pins and needles, numb limbs, confusion and difficulty in speaking. Not all sufferers experience aura, and other common symptoms include dizziness, nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light, sound and smells. Attacks can vary in frequency and severity with an often enormous impact on someone’s work, family and social lives.

There is no known cause or, sadly, any cures currently on the horizon. What we do know is that most sufferers have a genetic predisposition and that their migraines can be triggered by one or more factors – stress, alcohol intake, the environment, hormones (women) and lack of food or sleep. It’s no longer helpful just to blame chocolate, cheese and red wine, and the best way of pinpointing your particular triggers is to keep a daily ‘migraine diary’.

Professor Peter Goadsby, Professor of Neurology, King’s College London, describes migraine as “an inherited tendency to have headaches with sensory disturbance. It’s an instability in the way the brain deals with incoming sensory information, and that instability can become influenced by physiological changes like sleep, exercise and hunger”.  (Source: Migraine Trust).

Best treatments for migraine

Most treatments focus on controlling the pain, severity and frequency of attacks via the use of medication.

Having said that, complementary therapies such as Western medical acupuncture – piercing the body with fine, sterile needles at certain points to regulate pain – has had some success in reducing the need for medication and the frequency of attacks..1 This approach has been endorsed by The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), particularly for patients who do not respond to certain medications.

Osteopathy is also popular because it helps relieve symptoms whilst understanding and addressing the underlying, sometimes multifactorial, factors involved. The treatment utilises a variety of osteopathic techniques.

Kind words from migraine sufferers

I’ve seen many patients struggling with migraines.  One said:

“I had been suffering from headaches since childhood. Over the years, these had become more frequent and debilitating to the point where it was most unusual for me to have a day free of headache. Headaches became migraines and I felt ‘better’ when the migraines had retreated to the state of ‘mere’ headaches.

I was recommended to Robin who set about releasing the tension in my upper back and neck through a series of manipulations and cranial massage. He also gave me some shoulder and neck exercises to do at home. I was asked to keep a ‘headache diary’ showing severity and frequency in order to plot any improvements.

After around 5 or 6 sessions the headaches became less severe and didn’t turn so readily into migraines. About 8 weeks into treatment I had a major headache which, when it subsided, disappeared completely. Thereafter I began to get not only headache-free days, but headache-free weeks. The cycle had been broken.”

So if you’re suffering from migraines why not book an appointment with me to see what can be done to alleviate the symptoms and cause of your migraines.

 

1 Migraine Trust/Vickers A. et al. Acupuncture for chronic headache in primary care: large, pragmatic, randomised trial BMJ 2004;328;744-9.

Most of us have experienced headaches at some point in our lives.  They can be painful, debilitating, annoying and worrying.  But they also come in many forms.  So, what are the causes and how can we relieve the symptoms?

Headaches are not always as straightforward as you may think, in fact there are over 150 different types – each with its own list of causes and symptoms.  So, how can you possibly know how to deal with yours?

 

What type of headache do I have?

It would be impossible to list all 150 here, but to get you started with identifying the type of headache you may be experiencing, here are some of the most common:

Tension headaches: Most common among adults and teens. A tension headache causes mild to moderate pain and can come and go over time, usually with no other symptoms.

Migraine: A migraine is usually accompanied by intense headaches, often described as a throbbing pain which can last from 4 hours to 3 days, and usually occur between 1-4 times per month. Alongside the headache, sufferers can experience other symptoms such as:

  • sensitivity to light, noise or smell
  • nausea and vomiting
  • loss of appetite
  • visual disturbance prior to onset of headache

Cluster headaches: these are 3-4 times more likely to affect men than women, can feel like an intense burning pain behind or around the eye or on one side of the head.  Whilst it is the least common type of headache, it can be the most intense and severe.  Cluster headaches leave sufferers unable to follow their usual daily routine.  They cannot lie down or keep still and attacks are often accompanied by eye redness and copious watering and a very runny nose.

So called because they tend to occur in groups, cluster headaches come in many forms:

  • Clusters of headaches 1-3 times per day
  • A prolonged period of headaches lasting 2 weeks to 3 months
  • Headache attacks lasting 15 minutes to 3 hours
  • No headaches at all for months or years, but then they return later.

Sinus headaches:  Sufferers feel a deep constant pain in cheekbones, head and nose. This type of headache can be associated with a cold or other seasonal medical complaint, such as hay-fever.

Hormone headaches: Women often experience headaches when changes in their hormone levels occur, usually during periods, pregnancy or menopause.

 

What causes headaches?

Headaches can incredibly debilitating, so what causes the pain?

Headaches come from a mix of signals sent between the brain and nearby nerves.  These nerves, blood vessels and head muscles switch on and thus send signals to the brain to tell it, it is in pain. Unfortunately, there has been no clear factor to determine why these signals turn on in the first place.

Headaches can be triggered by a variety of things:

  • An illness – such as a cold, fever or virus;
  • A condition such as sinusitis, an ear or throat infection;
  • An injury such as a blow to the head;
  • Emotional stress or depression;
  • A change in sleep patterns;
  • Skipping meals;
  • Taking too much medication;
  • Too much physical activity;
  • Changes in the environment around you – i.e. second-hand smoke, strong smells, noise, lighting and changes in weather;
  • Hereditary – migraines especially, tends to be passed down through generations;
  • In rare cases, TIAs (Transient Ischaemic Attack) etc. which would need a referral to either a GP or A&E.

 

What can I do to ease my headache or symptoms?

In addition to preventative measures such as avoiding the stressors listed above or perhaps eliminating caffeine, many people turn to over the counter medication, relaxation techniques, having a lie down or taking a relaxing bath.

But what other approaches are there that could help relieve your symptoms?

The short answer is Osteopathy – which offers the possibility of relieving the symptoms whilst understanding and addressing the underlying, sometimes multifactorial, factors

A combination of manual therapies such as osteopathy and tailored exercise programmes to suit you as an individual, could lead to long-term control of some types of headaches.

Recent research has shown that manual manipulation treatments such as those performed by an Osteopath, were as effective as prescribed drugs for providing relief from short term chronic headaches, but with fewer side effects than medication.

 

What will an Osteopath do?

Initially, a detailed case history and clinical examination of the patient will be done to eliminate underlying pathology, which may require referral for more specialist assessment.

Osteopaths may use a variety of techniques, all of which could help ease headaches. These could include:

  • Gentle structural osteopathic techniques, including manipulation
  • Gentle soft tissue massage
  • Lymphatic drainage techniques
  • Trigger point therapy
  • Western Acupuncture
  • Tailored exercise and stretching programmes to include in your daily routine
  • Low Level Laser Therapy, when appropriate.

If you would like to discuss headaches which you might be experiencing, Robin would be happy to talk to you with no further obligation.

In the meantime, click here to read testimonials from some of my clients who have found our techniques helpful in easing their symptoms.

Professional, highly Skilled, holistic – Robin’s treatments have helped reduce my back and neck pain which had plagued me for years. He has taught me how to reduce re-occurrences through exercise and lifestyle change – I was very despondent before I came to see him and he continues to help me hugely; I’m very grateful.

“When I sit before you

I often cease to find

The cause of pain and tension

And what lies festered in my mind.

I come to you with open soul

And share the roads I tread

I paint a picture past and present

Whilst you pull and twist my head.

But the reason for my writing

Is that finally I see

That from our conversations

You believe in me.

In my drive to write or teach

I show passion fully out

You sense my desire to achieve

But you never show me doubt.

You encourage me to live my dream

Don’t look back and cry

For the caterpiller is long gone

And so lives the butterfly.”

With much gratitude

I had been suffering from headaches since childhood. Over the years, these had become more frequent and delibitating to the point where it was most unusual for me to have a day free of headache. Headaches became migraines and I felt ‘better’ when the migraines had retreated to the state of ‘mere’ headaches.

I was recommended to Robin as having some useful experience in this area and somewhat sceptically attended our first session. There was no immediate fix nor was one promised. Robin set about releasing the tension in my upper back and neck through a series of manipulations and cranial massage. He also gave me some shoulder and neck exercises to do at home. I was asked to keep a ‘headache diary’ showing severity and frequency in order to plot any improvements.

Initially improvement was slow – 40 years of headaches don’t resolve overnight. After around 5 or 6 sessions, however, I began to feel a slight improvement in that the headaches became less severe and didn’t turn so readily into migraines. About 8 weeks into treatment I had a major headache which, when it subsided, disappeared completely. Thereafter I began to get not only headache-free days, but headache-free weeks. The cycle had been broken.

I still get headaches – I have a stressful life (OK – who hasn’t). But they are the exceptions, no longer the rule; they do not endure and I can often head them off with relaxtion exercises when I feel them coming on.

I still attend regular treatments with Robin and my headache frequency continues to subside. Robin’s approach has without question improved not only the quality of my life but also that of my family, who now have less frequently to endure a bear (literally) with a sore head.