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I recently spent a fascinating day at the Royal Society of Medicine for the 9th Annual Spinal Symposium which looked at the spine from a range of perspectives.

The spine is often the part of the body that people most readily associate with Osteopathy (although we can assist with many other issues and help you to reach your goals in mind and body).

I think it’s vital to remain up to date with current thinking and I regularly refresh my learning with CPD events such as this, where I am always interested to hear about new developments, opinions and practices.

Annual Spinal Symposium

We heard from six excellent orthodox medical consultants who covered topics including dizziness and facial pain, degenerative spinal diseases and sport and the spine. But, for me, the most interesting speaker was Rheumatologist, Dr Roger Wolman who talked about the different types and levels of pain that people experience, and then focussed on chronic pain.

This is an issue that fascinates me and Dr Wolman’s assertion that there is often a poor correlation between chronic pain and structural abnormality certainly resonated with my experiences in clinic. Pain is often a measure of distress , both physical and sometimes emotional and not necessarily injury.

Managing chronic pain

He spoke at length about managing chronic pain and the important role that we can play in educating people about it. According to Dr Wolman, even just understanding chronic pain can help to change pain levels. He also stressed the need for patients to understand the relationship between stress, anxiety, depression and pain; to know their pain triggers; and the limited role of medication in these situations.

I have written before about the approach I take at my Clinics and how I believe in treating the person and not just the symptom they present with. This ‘body-mind detective’ role – systematically locating and treating the root cause of often very complex problems – is one I greatly enjoy and I have been able to help a number of patients who have been suffering with chronic pain over long periods of time.

Review

I’ll leave you with the kind words from a patient: “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.”

So, if you’ve been nursing a niggle or putting up with pain for a while then why not book an appointment?

Back in June, we posted an article describing The Dripping Tap Syndrome, which aims to explain the reason why many people visit an Osteopath.

This month we follow this up with a video blog from Robin explaining further what this means.

If you would like to speak to Robin about anything covered within this video or to discuss any symptoms you may have please contact the clinic on 0208 8815 0979.

Here at Robin Kiashek Clinics we have been looking after patients with back pain and structural spinal problems for over twenty years. In some cases, pain is related to the way we are built but in others pain is present because of a recent or historical injury. Any pain is a signal that the body is out of balance and needs assistance in getting back to normal.

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At the Robin Kiashek Clinics, as well as treating acute pain when it occurs, we also aim to prevent problems in our patients before they take hold, so here is a list of 10 tips on how to look after your spine to ward off potentially debilitating problems.

Tip 1 – Rest Your Spine

We mean it! If you have suffered an injury or you are in acute pain, after seeing a specialist, ensure you thoroughly rest your spine. If there is swelling & inflammation, it will need time to go down and the tissue needs rest to recover.

Tip 2 – Wear Supportive Footwear

This might not be immediately obvious, or what you want to hear if you are a lover of high heels, but the plain truth is your footwear determines your posture. Your musculoskeletal structure is one system. Where one part is impacted it is felt elsewhere.

Tip 3 – Quit Smoking

This is not a big headline but it really should be. Nicotine and the general dehydration that goes along with smoking can adversely affect your spine. Also, in the same way that smoking affects blood vessels and circulation, it affects the vascular structures in your disks and joints. Many smokers suffer from lower back pain. It is no coincidence but backed up by research.

Tip 4 – Get a Massage

getty_rf_photo_of_hands_on_backMassage is good for so many aspects of your health. Primarily it helps increase endorphins – your body’s natural painkillers – that provide relief to sufferers of chronic pain. It helps stimulate your circulation, bringing a good blood supply to the affected area, and it improves your lymphatic drainage system helping your body combat disease.

Tip 5 – Limit Sitting Time

This is rather hard if you have a desk job, but you can combat stiffness and aches by regularly getting up from your desk and having a walk around, ensuring you get outside for part of your lunch break. Some people swear by standing desks. If at home, using advert breaks to get up and potter about for 5 minutes, or setting a simple kitchen timer for 45mins to remind you to move, could help you. Any movement and activity is good.

Tip 6 – Have an Ergonomic Workspace

Taking a little time in planning where and how to position your seat, your keyboard and screen or other things on your desk or workspace, can really save your back from straining and twisting. If you spend a lot of time shackled to a phone, for instance, it makes sense to give some thought to positioning essential tools or supplies.

Tip 7 – Practice Good Posture

Whether standing or sitting, try and be aware of your spine’s position. Stand with feet a comfortable width apart and try to hold your tummy in, elongating your spine if you can. When sitting, try to sit up, and if necessary, use a lower back support to help the natural curve in your back to stay in position. Knees bent at right angles and feet flat on the floor should also help steady your posture and support your spine. It’s surprising how we forget such a simple thing!

Tip 8 – Get Comfortable in Bed

Sleep will elude you if you are not comfortable in bed at night. Ask yourself if you need any extra support (maybe a cushion under your knees or between our knees if you sleep on your side) to take the pressure off your hips or lower back? Are you getting enough support from your pillow or mattress? Even things as basic as temperature and atmosphere can affect your sleep and whether you feel pain or not.

Tip 9 – Hydration, Nutrition and Weight

Drinking plenty of water is essential, whether you have a health complaint or not. Eating right also makes the difference in the speed at which you can bounce back from pain and injury. Particularly for people with any joint or muscle pain, sufficient hydration helps lubricate the joints and eating regular, well balanced meals means good lubrication of joints and disks, and nutrition reaching the parts of the body that are struggling. Excess weight puts unnecessary pressure on already beleaguered bones and joints, and can delay recovery or prolong pain. Consider seeing a dietician if you struggle with nutrition or controlling your weight.

Tip 10 – Stay Active and Exercise Your Core

As long as you aren’t in severe pain and have the green light to walk or exercise, try to do as much as you can manage, especially if your specialist has given you particular exercises to practice. If you are able to go to classes at the gym or are fortunate enough to have a personal trainer, depending on your level of fitness, you can hone in on core strength exercises to strengthen the muscles of your abdomen and back, and also your legs. This will support your spine and take the pressure off your lower back. Ensure your instructor is qualified to help you and always make them aware of your condition.

Be it a herniated disk or muscle strain, only a thorough examination by an experienced specialist can reveal the kind of pain it is, and consequently, how to treat it. At The Robin Kiashek Clinics we can offer the very best care and all that Robin’s vast experience can offer. Requesting a consultation is easy – click here to enter your details.

walking alongside the river thames in londonA recent study by Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources at Stanford University into the physical effects of the brain when interacting with nature has concluded that, a walk in the park or within a tranquil environment can improve your mental health and give walkers a more positive mindset. This is great news for Londoners, who live in an urban environment, but have access to the Thames River walk and nice open green spaces such as the Royal Parks or areas such as Battersea Park or Greenwich.

The study has proven that walkers in greener nature areas reduced stress and had a more positive mental state after the walk, compared to the sample walkers who walked for the same amount of time on streets and in busy, build-up areas.

As an Osteopath in Central London and with an Osteopathy clinic in North London, I think that there’s a real connection between exercise, environment and health and have experienced more positive, less brooding thoughts myself, after a nice walk in one of the Royal parks centrally or Muswell Hill playing fields, close to my North London Osteopathy clinic.

If you’re a Londoner, why not try it out for yourself? Make an honest appraisal of how you feel mentally on a scale of one to ten and then go for a 90 minute walk in the park or along the Thames Path and then honestly apprise yourself afterwards, using the same scale and whatever criteria you feel you can identify and compare.

There are lots of green areas in most parts of London that you can walk around to access this kind of mental health benefit. As already mentioned, the Thames River Walk along the River Path is a good place to start, as it’s the most walked path in the County.

It extends from the Thames’ source at Thames Head in the Cotswolds, which is obviously a long way from London, through beautiful countryside in the Thames valley Oxford, Henley, Windsor and Greenwich to end at the Thames Barrier near Woolwich. If that sounds a bit advanced for you, even though you can just walk parts of it at any time, then head to one of the parks and open spaces in and around the Capital, such as Hampstead Heath, Epping Forest, Wimbledon Common, Richmond Park or the parks in central London, Kensington Gardens, Hyde Park, Green Park or St James’s Park.

Another great and relaxing walk is to combine one of the open spaces with a canal walk, such as Regents Park and Regents Canal, Thames Path and Battersea Park, or Regents Canal and the Thames Path. All of these London walks offer greenery, scenery and tranquillity.

You can get a free leaflet on the Thames Path walks from Transport for London or at any Tourist information centre in the Capital. Information of the parks is also available, including routes and walking trails that will allow you to grab some stress-free walking and enable you to charge your mind, body and spirit with some positivity.

There is also a lot of really good information online, especially at http://www.innerlondonramblers.org.uk, which is a website dedicated to walking in and around London. It contains lots of healthy walking ideas, many of which are based in greener settings, rather than the urban sprawl.

Even if you don’t feel any tangible and immediate mental benefits from a 90 minute walk in a park or along the Thames or a canal, you’ll gain physical benefits and easily achieve the recommended levels of daily exercise, as advised by the World Health Organisation.