What we see...

12/01/2019

'What is the most common problem that you treat?' is one of the most frequently asked questions within our osteopathic practice.

My first response is usually low back pain, followed by upper back, shoulder and neck pain. Sciatica is also a common symptom but this may be caused by a myriad of injuries and tissues causing pain in the leg.

Often, lower back pain is accompanied by sciatica. It is important for the osteopath to determine whether the leg pain is related to nerve injury originating from the spine or if the pain is referred due to muscle spasm and/or postural change due to being in pain. If the latter seems the case, soft tissue massage combined with gentle joint articulation can quickly help to reduce pain levels and therefore restore posture and comfortable movement. Symptoms resulting from nerve damage can be more complex and although osteopathic treatment can be very beneficial, may take a longer time to recover or require further orthopaedic investigation.

Interestingly, recent statistics show that out of a large sample group of people suffering a bout of low back pain, one third will have a recurrence of pain within 12 months. Occupation and lifestyle are key factors in determining the likelihood of pain recurrence. A maintenance scheme of treatment is sometimes recommended if this is the case to try and avoid recurrent episodes of pain.

There are many shoulder conditions that may benefit from osteopathy, the most common in that area though is not specific to the shoulder joint itself, but more a general tension in the large muscles supporting the upper back, shoulder girdle and neck. This can result in uncomfortable stiffness in any of these areas and may cause tension headaches. It is important to  firstly alleviate the symptoms with treatment but, equally important to address the underlying causes contributing to the onset and progression of pain. In some cases, this may be due to short term injury due to something specific, for example, spending a weekend painting a ceiling. Alternatively, the symptoms may have been gradually worsening over a prolonged period of time due to a combination of triggering factors. These may include stress, postural influences at work, lack of exercise resulting in muscular weakness and instability or age related changes within the joints of the spine.

Whatever the causative factors may be, osteopathic treatment can often provide great pain relief as well as encourage more movement through the affected joints.

Combined with some simple exercise and postural advice, long term improvement is often achieved.

 

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