James Grigg
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Back pain

Lower back pain is the number one reason for people in the UK taking sick days off work. The nation is being told to be more active, as this is believed to be one of the reasons for the increase in back pain. But what if how we are actually moving is the problem? And the more we move incorrectly leads to further problems? It's a vicious cycle.

Yes we need to move more, but when we do move it hurts. What if we could move differently, more efficiently and therefore more often? There are so many therapies available for people with back pain. Every road you walk down has multiple specialists or clinics to help you deal with it. But what do you do to help yourself? What could you do? Has anyone shown you? There are many ways to help yourself move away from pain, two of the most beneficial we have found are Anatomy in Motion™ and Reformer Pilates.

Detailed below are some of the common conditions we see here at the clinic so you can familiarise with the terminology that you may have read about or been diagnosed with.


Muscle spasm / stuck joints / trapped nerves

A lot of acute back pain we see often occurs following a sudden twisting type of movement, usually reaching down to pick something up of the floor or following a violent cough/sneeze. The phrase we often here at the clinic is, "I was bending down, turned slightly, and I felt my back go!". What this usually means is that, the body went into a position it wasn't used to or could not adequately control. As a result the joints may have "locked up" or the muscle has gone into spasm or a combination of both.

Each vertebrae in the spine is connected to it's adjacent vertebrae via a set of intervertebral joints. The exception is the top one that is connected to the skull and the tail bone (coccyx). In-between the vertebrae are spinal nerves that exit out from the spinal column to travel around the body. It is quite common for these nerves to become trapped as a result of muscle spasm or lack of mobility in the intervertebral joints. When nerves become trapped they can send pain, pins and needles, numbness, strange skin sensations and muscle weakness to various areas within the body as far as the fingers and toes.

The good news is that these types of conditions usually respond very well to gentle, precise range of movement exercises, joint mobilisations and soft tissue massage. Once we get symptoms under control we can focus on "why" this might of happened to you in the first place. Let's face it, you should be able to bend down and pick things up of the floor. Something somewhere in your body might not be doing what it is capable of, and when you bent over, without knowing it, you might have moved in a way that caused your problem because your body was unable to move in any other way. Our job is to find these potential problem areas and teach you how to correct them so when you bend over again, you might do it a different way.



Spinal disc pain

Intervertebral discs are situated between each vertebrae in the spine. People may say that they have “slipped” a disc before. This is often incorrect as the spinal discs are held securely in place by very strong ligaments. The correct terminology is a bulging disc, which if gets worse can protrude onto the spinal cord and in some cases tear and herniate.

Bulging discs are the most common form of disc injury. Very often they can press onto the spinal nerves that supply the lower limbs. This pressure can lead to pins and needles or numbness spreading into the legs and feet. Quite often the person will have a loss of power in one or more of the lower limb muscles, often accompanied with a feeling of "heaviness".

Most disc injuries respond to physical therapy treatment and do not require injections or surgery. Treatment should be aimed at reducing the pressure off the disc and surrounding nerve tissue. This can be done by carefully and precisely mobilising the spinal segments around the area. The muscles surrounding the injury will definitely be trying to protect the disc and therefore will probably be in spasm. Specific soft tissue techniques and gentle range of movement exercises are often extremely beneficial.

Disc injuries can be extremely painful. Once the symptoms are under control then treatment can focus on regaining full range of movement, strength and co-ordination.


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