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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.

Hints and tips for achieving a better night’s sleep.  For a happier, healthier you.

Sleep is a hugely popular topic of conversation. And with over 60% of us unhappy with the amount of shuteye we get* it’s not surprising that it’s often the first thing we discuss with our partners in the morning – especially when young children are involved! Read on to find out why sleep is so important, how our bodies can be affected when we don’t get enough and some top tips for getting a blissful night’s rest.

*Dreams UK Sleep Survey 2016

Why is a good night’s sleep so important?

Sleep plays a significant role in brain development and is essential to maintaining cognitive skills such as speech, memory and innovative and flexible thinking. It’s also vital in protecting our physical health.

And whilst most of us know that a lack of sleep often leaves us feeling grumpy and sluggish, how many of us realise the huge impact it can have on other areas of our lives, including our physical and emotional health?

Tell-tale physical signs

The physical impact of not achieving the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep each night can bring a range of issues:

  • Sallow skin;
  • Dark circles under the eyes;
  • A lowered immune system;
  • Increased chances of developing chronic illness such as diabetes and heart disease;
  • Imbalance in the hormones that tell us whether we are hungry or full, which could result in weight gain;
  • Reduced energy levels;
  • Higher insulin levels which could increase the risk of type 2 diabetes;
  • Decreased ability to heal, build muscle mass or repair cells and tissues;
  • Back and neck issues from poor sleep positioning;

Emotionally drained

But the impact of poor sleep isn’t limited to physical issues, it can also have a significant emotional effect:

  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Irritation, anger or hostility
  • More easily annoyed
  • Fuzzy thinking and difficulty in making decisions
  • A lack of positivity
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Increased anxiety
  • Forgetfulness

Stress and sleep

Like sleep, or the lack of it, stress is another factor that affects many of us and I’ll be looking at this in more detail in my next newsletter. But increased stress levels can have a significant effect on the quality and quantity of sleep so it’s well worth considering whether you feel anxious and if you can pinpoint stress factors in your life that could be addressed.

What can I do?

So, what can you do to combat the signs of sleep deprivation and reduce the impact it has on your life? Here are some tips for getting that all important 8 hours:

  • Don’t go to bed on a full stomach – avoid heavy or large meals within a few hours of bedtime. They could lead to discomfort and keep you awake;
  • Avoid alcohol before bed – initially it may make you sleepy but can cause wakefulness after a couple of hours and make it difficult to get back off again;
  • Stop the stimulants – caffeine and nicotine are best avoided in the run up to bed time. The effects of caffeine can last for up to 8 hours, so that late afternoon coffee could be causing a problem;
  • Create a calm environment – cool, dark and quiet are the ideal elements to promote a good night’s sleep;
  • Develop a wind down routine – calming activities such as taking a bath, reading a book or performing relaxation techniques could all aid sleep;
  • Timing is key – try to go to bed and get up at the same time every day to re-inforce your body’s sleep/wake cycle;
  • Power down – switch off computers and phones at least an hour before bed;
  • Pillow perfection – make sure your pillow is the correct size and firmness for you. It should fit snuggly into your neck and shoulders so that it fully supports your head;
  • Check that mattress – the recommended lifespan of a mattress is eight years so it might be time for a trip to the shops;
  • It’s all about the base – Your mattress should suit your physical needs, which isn’t necessarily always a hard mattress, as is often the case. In addition, your mattress of choice also needs support. Placing a mattress on slats will not benefit the longevity of it. Consider investing in a divan which is itself sprung and onto which your mattress rests. This combination will be much more beneficial.

But if you are still feeling the effects of lack of sleep and need something extra to help you combat the impact this is having on your life, then why not come and see me?

As an Osteopath and Naturopath (with clinics in North London and Soho, Central London) registered with both The General Osteopathic Council and The British Naturopathic Association, I am committed to helping my patients achieve physical and emotional wellbeing.

I will work with you to address your presenting symptoms and to understand the cause of them. I will also support you to improve your overall health. Plus, there is some encouraging evidence which suggests that acupuncture has a role to play in helping people to deal with longstanding sleep problems and that might be something we could explore.

So why not get in touch today to find out how you can start the journey to a better night’s sleep?

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.

Being an experienced osteopath in London a common questions I get asked is “what’s the difference between osteopathy and chiropractic treatment?”

An Osteopath in London explains the difference between (classical) osteopathy and (classical) chiropractic

The answer isn’t necessarily a simple one. There are as many similarities as there are differences between the two professions. There are not only differences between the professions but equally between practitioners of the same profession.

For example in osteopathy you have differences between classical osteopathy versus ‘cranial’ osteopathy and in chiropractic you have differences between classical chiropractic versus McTimoney chiropractic.

That being said there are differences between the two methods which are more to do with the underlying philosophical approach rather than which particular techniques are applied during treatment.

When it comes to diagnosis, chiropractors, will focus mostly on spinal integrity and will use x-rays of the spine to form a diagnosis. Osteopaths will use palpation (touch) of soft tissues (muscles, ligaments and tendons) and spinal positioning in conjunction with overall postural balance to form a diagnosis.

In the main, chiropractors work mainly on the spine. Osteopaths work on the spine and also on the whole body including peripheral joints.

When it comes to treatment chiropractors use more manipulative techniques whilst osteopaths may use manipulation in conjunction with soft tissue and mobilisation (stretching of joints) techniques. In my treatments I take into account the patient’s background, both physically and emotionally, which may then warrant the use of other approaches, such as Western Acupuncture, Low Level Laser Therapy and when appropriate, Nutritional advice and/or NLP and/or relaxation techniques.

If you are suffering pain or discomfort and you would like further information on how I may help you or to book an Osteopathy appointment at one of my osteopathy clinics in London please feel free to send me a message or call me on 020 8815 0979.

 

As a registered London Osteopath in W1 and North London, I help my patients understand, overcome and prevent a myriad of issues and the symptoms they may cause.

Osteopathy is a validated, regulated and increasingly researched medical therapy which aims to address pain and other symptoms caused by a range of disorders including those incurred in the workplace, the sporting world and during pregnancy as well as general lifestyle related conditions.

5 things you may not know about osteopathy

So whether you are familiar with osteopathy or not here are 5 things you may not know:

1. The title ‘osteopath’ is registered by law

The title ‘osteopath’ is protected by law (Protection of title). To practise in the UK, an osteopath must be registered with the General Osteopathic Coucil (GOsC). It is a criminal offence for a person to claim they are an osteopath unless they are on the GOsC Register and are liable to prosecution.

2. Osteopaths undertake rigorous training

You can’t become an osteopath overnight. Osteopaths study to Degree Level leading to a Bachelor of Science Honours Degree in Osteopathy or a Masters Degree. A degree course may be taken over four or five years and will include anatomy, physiology, pathology, pharmacolog, nutrition and biomechanics with at least 1,000 hours of clinical training.

3. Seven million osteopathy consultations in the UK per year 

Osteopath registered with General Osteopathic Council and who practise in the UK carry out more than seven million consultations every year. As of 4 March 2014 there are 4,815 osteopaths registered on the UK Statutory Register of Osteopaths.

4. Osteopaths work to restore your body to a state of balance

Osteopaths work to restore your body to a state of balance, without the use of drugs or surgery where possible. For a patients body to work well an osteopath believes that the body’s structure must also work well. Touch, physical manipulation, stretching and massage are used by an osteopath to increase joint mobility, relieve muscle tension, enhance the blood and nerve supply to tissues and to help the body’s own healing mechanisms. In addition to the classical Osteopathic approaches I use, when appropriate, Western Accupuncture and/or Low Level Laser Therapy.

To aid recovery, promote health and prevent symptoms recurring, osteopaths may also provide advice on posture and exercise.

5. Many private health insurance schemes cover osteopathy treatment

People often don’t realise that osteopathy is a fully recognised and respected method of diagnosis and treatment and that many private health insurance schemes do cover the treatment.

Visit an experienced London Osteopath in W1

If you are suffering pain or discomfort and you would like further information on how I may help you or to book an Osteopathy appointment at either of my osteopathy clinic in London W1 please feel free to send me a message or call me on 020 8815 0979. I also have a clinic in North London if this is more convenient for you.

In addition to my work as a London Osteopath in W1 and North London, I am qualified in a range of other complementary therapies including Naturopathy, Low Level Laser TherapyAutogenic Training, The Perrin TechniqueLife Coaching and (Western) Acupuncture. These therapies have both specific and general applications and can also work very well in combination with each other.

My aim through my work at my osteopathy clinics in W1 and North London is to help my patients achieve overall health of the body and of the mind.

Good nutrition plays a part in our health and well being and ensuring that our food provides us with high nutritional value is important.

This brings me to a common question – Is there a difference between fresh and frozen produce in terms of nutrition? And which is better for us?

Fresh Vs Frozen – Is ‘Fresh’ really the best?

If you believe Fresh is best then I suggest you watch the short video below (2 mins) as all may not be what is seems when defininng what is ‘Fresh’.

If we delve a bit deeper, you will see that because of logistics and picking processes it is often the case that fresh vegeatbles and fruit sitting on supermarket shelves and then in our fridge can actually lose a lot of their nutritional value. In fact, some ‘fresh’ produce can lose up to 50% of their nutritional value from the time they are picked to the time they are eaten.

Frozen vegetables and fruit on the other hand are picked when ripe and frozen immediately thus locking in the nutritional value.

Of course if you grow your own vegetables or buy them directly from a local supplier or at a farmers’ market and eat them that day, nothing will compare to the taste or nutrition.

Watch this video for a great explanation of Fresh vs Frozen …

 

If you have not visited an Osteopath you may be slightly nervous as to what lies before you. That is why I want to put you at ease regarding your first visit to either of my London Osteopathy clinics at Muswell Hill or Soho and what you can expect.

Whilst every treatment and every therapy I offer is different and tailored to your individual needs,  there are some general practices that apply to the approach of the consultation and treatment you will receive.

Your Initial Consultation

Your initial consultation will usually last for approximately 45 minutes. This can vary depending on your problem of course.

What happens during the initial consultation?

Whether it’s your first time visiting an osteopath in London or just the first time you’re visiting me, the first thing I do is to learn about you. This includes finding out about details of your medical history, lifestyle and, if relevant, diet. It is important that I also understand what you hope to achieve.

After learning about you I will conduct a clinical examination. In order to allow me to examine your spinal and joint mobility properly it may be necessary for you to undress to your underwear.

The whole purpose of the process above is so I can get a clear understanding of you and your medical condition and reach a ‘working diagnosis’ and determine the appropriate treatment for your individual needs.

Once these procedures are complete, I provide you with a treatment protocol informing you of the type of treatment I would recommend and how many treatments are required. If Osteopathy is the appropriate treatment for you, I will explain the diagnosis to you and, where possible, the underlying causative factors for your condition.

After the consultation you will receive a short treatment if appropriate. You will also provide you with advice on exercises, hydrotherapy and ‘what to do and what to avoid’.

Patients with CFS/ME

In you are suffering with CFS/ME, the initial consultation follows a different format to that described above. You will be informed of this prior to your first appointment and will be sent information setting out the appropriate procedure.

If you are suffering pain or discomfort and you would like further information on how I may help you or to book an Osteopathy appointment at one of my osteopathy clinics in London please feel free to send me a message or call me on 020 8815 0979.

Sometimes it is all too easy to fall into the trap of accepting our fate. Sometimes we think that we have no choice but to accept a situation. This is often the case with physical problems; we can think that our problems are genetic. We can think there is nothing we can do and we might as well accept our fate. This is wrong.

As a leading London Osteopath and someone who helps his patients beyond pain and discomfort I can tell you that we don’t have to accept our physical problems, we don’t have to accept our genes as fate. We have the power to influence our genes for the better. We can change our dietary and physical habits for the better and in turn influence how our genes are expressed.

Being a London Osteopath doesn’t limit me to just my immediate field, I also take a great interest in general well being as this helps me provide a better service. I can help you improve your physical health, your emotional well being and your life style habits and in doing so, possibly, help influence how your genes are expressed.

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As Deam Ornish shares in this video, your genes are not your fate

For further reading, see Bruce Lipton’s book ‘The Biology of Belief: Unleashing the Power of Consciousness, Matter & Miracles’.

Through the research of Dr Lipton and other leading-edge scientists, stunning new discoveries have been made about the interaction between your mind and body and the processes by which cells receive information. It shows that genes and DNA do not control our biology, that instead DNA is controlled by signals from outside the cell, including the energetic messages emanating from our thoughts. Using simple language, illustrations, humour, and everyday examples, he demonstrates how the new science of Epigenetics is revolutionising our understanding of the link between mind and matter and the profound effects it has on our personal lives and the collective life of our species.

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If you are suffering pain or discomfort and you would like further information on how I may help you or to book an Osteopathy appointment at one of my osteopathy clinics in London please feel free to send me a message or call me on 020 8815 0979.