The most common complaint people first come to see us with is back pain. At some point in their life, at least four out of five adults will experience low back pain. The causes of low back pain vary from poor posture, stress, lifting or incorrect carrying of heavy weights, awkward twisting or bending, pregnancy and general wear and tear.
The spine is the main supporting structure of the body and it carries the spinal cord and nervous system, which connects the rest of the body to the brain. The spinal cord branches down from the brain and nerves branch off the spinal cord in-between the vertebrae. Therefore, injury may not only lead to local inflammation and pain in the back, but this inflammation could irritate the spinal nerves causing pain elsewhere in the body. Commonly the pain will refer into the buttock and the back or front of the thigh and occasionally all the way to the foot and toes.
A common misconception is that back pain is caused by a ‘slipped disc’ – discs do not slip, but they can sometimes ‘bulge’ causing irritation to the spinal nerves in that area which may refer pain into the leg. Another misconception that low back pain is ‘sciatica’ – sciatica simply means irritation of the sciatic nerve – a nerve, which is found in your leg. Leg pain or ‘sciatica like’ symptoms may be caused by your spine.
Acute (short term) and chronic (long term) low back pain can respond well to chiropractic treatment. The NICE (National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence – official government guidelines) and guidelines from the Royal College of General Practitioners suggest that early referral for manipulative treatment, such as Chiropractic is the most effective way of dealing with acute and chronic low back pain.
A member of our expert chiropractic team will carry out a full examination and ask you questions about your medical history, lifestyle and posture to try and determine the cause of your back pain and offer a diagnosis.
They will then carry out gentle and specific manipulations on the joints of the problem areas to correct imbalances, working to relive pain and increase mobility.
Watch our video to understand more about how chiropractic can help you with your back pain. Dixon Health video
Each week we see many patients complaining of pain or a lack of mobility in the neck. Neck pain is a very common complaint and due to modern lifestyles it is becoming more frequent. It can result in headaches, a “locked” neck, or even pain and weakness in your arms, often becoming more debilitating as time goes on.
Modern lifestyle and the style of work we do often means we spend long periods of time sat at a desk working on a computer or laptop. This means that we are sat relatively still doing small, repetitive movements. This often results in muscle tension and poor posture, which puts additional, unnecessary strain on the joints within our neck, back and shoulders.
Tension caused by stress can again, increase muscle tension causing additional strain on the joints within the neck, back and shoulders. Like the low back, the spinal nerves exit the spine between each vertebra. The spinal nerves in the neck supply the arms hands and shoulders and irritation of these nerves can cause pain, tingling and numbness in these areas.
The neck is very vulnerable to injury. It supports the weight of the head (about the same as a football filled with water!), permits a very large range of motion and allows the free flow of nerve impulses to the head, face, hands and the rest of the body. The neck is often injured in contact sports such as rugby but it can also be prone to injury when the neck or head is moved in one direction very quickly and then back again in the opposite direction. This sort of injury is usually referred to as whiplash and is most common in road traffic accidents. It can cause damage to the joints, muscles, ligaments and tendons, which support the neck.
Hip pain may be a result of a muscle strain or damage to the actual hip joint; it is also one of the most common joints to be affected by osteoarthritis. Hip pain can commonly be caused by referred pain from the spine; your chiropractor will be able to assess the cause of the hip pain and treat the area which is causing the pain which, in some cases might not actually be the hip joint itself.
Knees are another joint to be affected by osteoarthritis but this is not the sole cause of knee pain. There are a multitude of different conditions which can result in knee pain – muscle and tendon strains, ligament sprains, damage to the meniscus (cartilage discs within the knee joint), damage to the tendons, or wear and tear to the joint or knee cap (patella). Many of these can be caused or worsened by inefficient function of the muscles of the thigh which largely control the movement of the knee. Chiropractic adjustments can reduce inhibition of these muscles and improve the function of the knee, thus reducing pain and the chance of injury.
Foot and ankle pain
Again, foot and ankle pain can be caused by a multitude of things. It may be due to direct injury to the ligaments, joints or muscles or it may be due to referred pain from the leg or spine. Your chiropractor will also look at your arches to see if they are increased or fallen and can provide exercises or recommend other treatments to correct these if necessary.
Arthritis and chronic pain
The unavoidable wear and tear of a lifetime causes our joints to degenerate. Cartilage thins and joints become stiff, which results in nerve irritation and inflammation. Hip pain can also be caused by overuse in sport or from a fall.
If you are experiencing swelling, tingling or numbness of these joints it is important that you consult a professional so that a diagnosis can be made. Chiropractic treatment serves to improve the function of muscles and joints, which in turn reduces nerve irritation. We can assess your problem and then advise you on the most appropriate care to get you back on your feet. This may involve gentle and specific manipulations to treat the joints, which will reduce pain and inflammation.
Peter Dixon is a member of the Royal College of Chiropractors Pain Faculty, which focuses on the ongoing research and discussion of arthritic and chronic pain.
The shoulder is a relatively unstable joint and relies on the surrounding soft tissues to support its shallow ball and socket joint. It is the most mobile joint in the body and it is this characteristic which makes the shoulder prone to injury. Due to the flexibility within the joint, the muscles surrounding it provide the majority of the stability to the joint. Dysfunction within the joints of the spine affects the control our muscles have, meaning spontaneous injuries and repetitive strain injuries can often be helped and prevented by ensuring the spine is moving well and is well aligned.
Another condition, which commonly occurs in middle age, is frozen shoulder, or adhesive capsulitis. Chronic inflammation within the joint leads to the formation of scar tissue within the shoulder capsule, which limits the movement of the shoulder.
Alongside chiropractic adjustments, soft tissue therapies applied to the shoulder muscles, with shoulder joint mobilisations may be appropriate to further speed up recovery. Your chiropractor may do these, or they may feel that a referral to one of our physiotherapists is more appropriate.
The two most common elbow complaints are known as ‘Tennis elbow’ and ‘Golfers elbow’. Pain in the elbow does not however have to be as a result of playing one of these sports. These terms are used due to the repetitive motion of these sports, which overloads the muscles and tendon, which inserts onto the bones making up the elbow. Elbow pain can also be as a result of “referred pain” from the neck or shoulder.
Chiropractic treatment including manipulation, mobilisation and soft tissue work has been proven to help reduce the effects of shoulder and elbow pain and increase shoulder range of motion.