50 Shades of Pain
Pain is pain, right? Wrong! Pain can come in a variety of situations, can feel very different and can be slight or severe. One person’s experience of pain is often very different from another’s. There are many factors that affect how a person experiences and reacts to pain ranging from their previous experiences of pain to their psychological state at the time they are suffering.
Different structures in the body cause different types of pain. For example, pain of a muscular origin will behave in a fairly predictable way. We are all familiar with muscular pain after a long walk or a hard session at the gym and we know that the pain and stiffness is often worse the second day but that it is then likely to ease quickly after that.
Most people will be able to differentiate stomach ache from back pain and neck pain from a headache but there are some types of pain that are hard to tie down. People often struggle to put their finger on exactly where the pain is in certain shoulder problems. They know it hurts but can’t quite work out exactly where.
We have all bashed our funny bone at one time or another (which is actually our ulnar nerve, not a bone) and have therefore experienced radiating pain. Once the nerve is irritated we experience pain, tingling and some numbness in the little and ring fingers despite the fact that nothing has happened to those fingers. This is because the nerve impulses are interrupted at the elbow and the signals that arrive in the brain are interpreted as pain and altered sensation.
We can also experience referred pain from organs that are suffering in a completely different place to where the organ is. People who have heart attacks experience pain in their left arm and their throat neither of which overlie the structure of the heart. The gallbladder, which sits just underneath the liver, can refer pain to the tip of the right shoulder and problems with the function of the lower back and pelvis can be mistaken for knee pain or groin pain.
Often symptoms we see in the clinic are made up of several different aspects and types of pain. For example, many people we see complaining of lower back pain find they have quite a sharp pain in a very specific area of their back but also have a constant ache in a larger, more diffuse area and stiffness when they try to move. This may well be because the affected joint in the back is inflamed and therefore causes acute pain when the joint moves whilst the muscles surrounding the area are very tight from trying to protect the joint and cause the aching pain and stiffness.
By finding out which pain is which we can create a much better understanding of the problem and in doing so provide much better and accurately targeted treatment to get rid of the pain. Once the pain is gone you are free to do … whatever you want with your body!
BUPA’s Changes and How They Affect You
In April this year, Bupa announced that they are changing the arrangements for osteopaths who treat members of Bupa. The conditions in the new contract are so onerous, that many osteopaths are planning to withdraw from offering consultations under Bupa cover.
Even if you are currently covered for treatment by your own osteopath under Bupa, there is no guarantee that this will continue and the number of osteopaths accepting Bupa insurance in your area may well be severely reduced.
Bupa’s new terms & conditions will mean that, in future, you may not be able to choose the osteopath you wish to see.
So why is this happening?
There are several areas that these changes affect…
Bupa is offering to pay below the present fee scales for many osteopaths, especially in the London & the Southeast where the costs of running a practice are higher. They are also preventing patients from making up the difference between their present osteopath’s fees & what Bupa is
prepared to pay – i.e. they are not allowing patients to “top up” the fees.
The new requirements will mean a massive increase in the amount of time that your osteopath has to spend in filling in forms for Bupa about your claim, your diagnosis, the treatment that you receive & your response to that treatment. This will cut down the time your osteopath has to do what they do best – treating patients such as yourself.
Osteopaths treat patients as individuals. Although your osteopath may diagnose that you have a particular problem, the treatment they provide to each patient is as unique as you are. We believe that your osteopath, having taken a case history and performed an examination, is in the best position to decide the treatment that you need. Without knowing you or ever having seen you as a patient, Bupa is trying to dictate what treatment your osteopath is allowed to give you.
No osteopath wants to stop providing treatment under your cover, but many feel that these changes make it impossible for them to give you the care you need.
For more information follow this link http://www.save-osteopathy-on-bupa.org/
The Seven Ages of Back Pain
1. During pregnancy – As the baby grows your centre of gravity begins to shift and the core muscles get stretched making it more difficult for them to support the lower back during the lifting process. Extra laxity in the ligaments also means that the lower back and pelvis is in danger of having an acute episode. Common areas of pain are to one side of the spine or at the top of the buttock.2. With a newborn – When the baby is small you would imagine that lifting is easy but there is a lot of paraphernalia that goes with a newborn. The pram, the changing bag, the car seat, not to mention bending to the cot or Moses basket to pick up a distressed child. Then there is the carrying – all parents will know the subconscious and mildly disturbing rocking that occurs (even when you are not holding the baby). Holding even a very light infant for prolonged periods of time is very hard work for the muscles of the arms, shoulders, neck and back especially if you are not accustomed to doing so.
3. Pre-toddlers – The baby is getting his or her personality and becoming heavier as they are eating more solid food and building their own muscles by learning to crawl and stand. The lifting required has also changed. Heavier lifting and often from the floor (or under the table!) means that it may not be possible to get in the correct position to lift making it more likely that your back will suffer.
4. Toddlers – Even heavier and now a new challenge … walking and running. This means you have to keep an eye on them at all times and often have to grab them before they run off in the street or bolt for the hot cup of coffee. Now your body ends up contorting itself wildly to halt a weighty, fast moving child – recipe for disaster in back terms.
5. Pre-school – Hopefully the children will now be a little more obedient and are not so prone to running off and due to their walking ability and weight lifting becomes heavier but more infrequent and of shorter duration. Up onto the kitchen counter to put a plaster on a skinned knee and up over country gates when required. Cuddles are done sitting down though hauling a child up onto your lap from the ground can put an enormous strain on the sacro-iliac joints in the pelvis.
6. School Years – Lifting of children is seldom required now but there are bikes to get in and out of the boot of the car and play fights to have on the living room floor. The child is too heavy to lift now apart from the odd piggy back when its really muddy or way past bed time. There is also more time now to get back into the sports and activities you used to do but remember you have not done them for quite a long time and adjust the intensity and duration of the exercise accordingly.
7. Grandparents – Far from being immune from the pain children can cause to a back the grandparents can be in even more danger if they are not around all the time. Children grow quickly and if you don’t lift them regularly your back will not be ‘match fit’ and the shock to the back and neck can be significant when an excited child launches themselves at you upon arrival at your house.
Fortunately, at Back to Health we understand the pain being a parent can cause. And we can help you get back to being pain free – as you like it!
ODD THINGS YOU CAN DO WITH YOUR BODY # 2
Win an Arm-wrestle
When challenging somebody to an arm-wrestle it helps to have an edge. Try this with somebody who is clearly stronger than you.
It is best to arm-wrestle at a low table for this to work best. You need to stimulate an acupuncture point on your ankle on the same side as the arm you are wrestling with. For this example we will assume you are wrestling with your right hand.
With your left hand put your finger tip on the point in the midline on the front of the right ankle in the crease.
Stimulate this point by rubbing firmly with your finger throughout the arm-wrestle. This should make your right arm very strong and make it much more difficult for your opponent to beat you even if they are much stronger than you.
A word of warning – this does not work when you have been drinking!
The acupuncture meridian point on the stomach meridian (Stomach 41) is the tonification point for that meridian. This means that all muscles on that meridian will be strengthened by stimulating that point.The muscles used during an arm-wrestle are associated with the stomach meridian and are therefore strengthened by stimulating that point.Meridians also have a sedation point which weakens all those muscles thus making it even easier to beat your opponent …. but that’s another story.
Recent conversations with patients have alerted us to the fact that many people may be putting unnecessary strain on their backs whilst doing the weekly shop. The problems, apart from lifting heavy items into and out of the car stem from the way they push the trolley.
If you watch most people in the supermarket they will haul the trolley around to the side when they get to the end of the aisle. This involves planting both feet on the floor and rotating the trolley to the right or left until it is pointing in the right direction whilst trying to maintain forward momentum and avoid people coming the other way.
This rotational movement puts a lot of strain through the sacro-iliac joints in the lower back/pelvis region and strain of these joints can produce severe, one-sided pain in the lower back. This is a very common complaint amongst our new patients and fortunately osteopathy can be very helpful in relieving this type of back pain. However, this can be eliminated by stopping, revolving the trolley on the spot until it is pointing in the right direction then moving off again.
In order to help avoid making your shopping trip more painful here are our top tips for pain free shopping;
By following these tips we can’t guarantee you will enjoy the weekly shop but hopefully you will avoid back pain.