MRI’s often show tissue damage to spinal discs, muscles, cartilage and tendons when no pain is felt.

 

Now at first glance the above statement might seem woefully wrong or at the very least illogical and confusing.  However, it’s true. Understanding your pain more now will improve your quality life both now and into your old age.

Pain can be due to a recent injury or it can be a consequence of aging. Tissues wear with use and time. Thus a footballer is likely to put a lot of wear on his or her knees and is much more likely to suffer arthritic pain, due to heavy loss of the smooth cartilage on the bone ends. But not always.

We have seen scans of knee joints where there is full bone on bone contact with little pain. Yes, a bit of stiffness first thing in the morning or after being stationary for a while, but little pain.  In fact, 50% of MRI scans show moderate cartilage loss and yet with zero pain. On the other hand we have witnessed extreme suffering where there was quite a lot of cartilage still intact and functioning.

However, having a scan can help indicate the most appropriate treatment protocol. For example, we had a patient with a destroyed knee joint, but only felt mild discomfort. This indicated that a gentle rehab prescription, plus a change of lifestyle were needed for longevity of the joint.

This modern ability to provide a detailed internal scan can be a cause of pain, as it depends on what is said to the patient to explain the results, as well as how that patient interprets what has been said. The mind is very powerful and can act to ignore pain signals or magnify them.

These scans can also act to promote the need for replacement surgery because an individual may interpret moderate arthritis as a need for replacement, even though the level of pain is low. Further to surgery, research has shown in certain individuals, the brain magnifies the pain post operatively.

Is it the same for all parts of the body?

The simple answer is yes. It doesn’t matter where the problem is, whether it’s in the neck, shoulder, back or hips, there is little correlation between the injury and the level of pain being felt.

  • Only 10% of people found having a neck disc bulge suffered pain. 90% had no pain
  • The majority of those with disc changes in the lower back suffer no pain
  • More than 33% of people over 30 and more than 67% of people over 70 have abnormal MRI findings in the shoulder and suffer no pain
  • More than 73% of those found to have abnormalities in the hip had no pain

What is pain & why do we feel it?

Pain is an important signal that warns us something is wrong. For example, lumbar pain might occur because of a trapped nerve, and movement in a certain way causes pain. Thus, we are getting a warning that there is a problem and that certain postures or movements should be avoided so as to give the injury a chance to heal.

Pain signals are sent from the body and then up the spine into the brain. The brain decides how much pain will be felt based on this signal plus many other factors:

  • Emotion
  • Diet
  • Lifestyle
  • Fitness
  • Health
  • Genetic inheritance

Brain chemistry and thus how signals are fired in the brain are dependent on what you eat.

An MRI scan can’t see any of these factors and this is why it is so important to get a multi disciplinary approach to how you should be treated.

 

Ref:   ‘Wrinkles On The Inside’ Flynn, T; Heafner, J; Hall J.  Amazon UK

Our cats are in their twilight years and they are suffering arthritis and all the others problems of old age. Vet visits are getting more frequent as we want to make sure they can enjoy the remainder of their lives as much as possible and with as little pain as possible.

At a recent visit the vet asked us to start giving the cats some olive oil every day, in this case to help their gut. Alan was already taking a spoonful every day, so it prompted us write about it. Hopefully you will read on and maybe it can help you.

cats

Olive oil is extracted from olives and consists of both saturated fat and polyunsaturated fat. The main fatty acid is oleic acid, making up about three quarters of the oil volume.

oil

Most of us will have heard about the benefits of the Mediterranean diet rich in olive oil and its healing properties. Large scale studies have supported this view. For example a study of 841,000 people found that olive oil was the only monounsaturated fat associated with a reduced risk of stroke and heart disease. In another review with 140,000 participants, those who had olive oil were at much lower risk of stroke than those who didn’t.

 

Studies suggest that this oleic acid reduces inflammation, notably in C-Reactive Protein, an important inflammatory marker. Oleic acid contains vitamins E and K and biologically active anti-aging antioxidants. Chronic inflammation is thought to be a leading driver of many diseases, including heart disease from high cholesterol, stroke, arthritis, cancer, type 2 diabetes, obesity, rheumatoid arthritis and Alzheimer’s. Such problems led to extensive research on the role of olive oil in the Mediterranean diet.

Diabetes Type II

Several studies have linked olive oil to beneficial effects on blood sugar, insulin sensitivity and type 2 diabetes. A randomised clinical study of 418 healthy people recently confirmed the protective effects of olive oil, where a Mediterranean diet rich in olive oil reduced the risk of diabetes by over 40%.

Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s disease is a common neurodegenerative condition which leads to the build up of so called beta-amyloid plaques inside the brain cells. One study on mice showed that olive oil can remove these plaques.

A human study indicated that a Mediterranean diet rich in olive oil benefitted brain function.

Heart Disease

Olive oil helps to protect against heart disease in several ways. It lowers inflammation, protects “bad” LDL cholesterol from oxidation, improves the lining of your blood vessels and may help prevent excessive blood clotting.

High blood pressure, which is one of the strongest risk factors for heart disease and premature death. Interestingly, olive oil has also been shown to lower blood pressure. In one study, olive oil reduced the need for blood pressure medication by 48%.

Cancer

Mediterranean countries with olive oil rich diets have a lower risk of some cancers and many researchers believe olive oil may be the reason, but there has been no concrete research as yet to support this. The anti-oxidants in olive oil can reduce oxidative damage due to free radicals, which is believed to be a leading driver of cancer. Many test tube studies have demonstrated that compounds in olive oil can attack cancer cells.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid Arthritis is an autoimmune disease characterised by deformed and painful joints. It involves the immune system attacking normal cells by mistake. Olive oil supplements appear to improve inflammatory markers and reduce oxidative stress in individuals with Rheumatoid Arthritis.

One study of people with Rheumatoid Arthritis, in which olive oil was combined with fish oil, showed a significant improvement in hand strength, joint pain and morning stiffness.

Harmful Bacteria

A harmful bacterium Helicobacter Pylori lives in your stomach and can cause both stomach ulcers and stomach cancer. Test tube studies have shown that extra virgin olive oil fights eight strains of this bacterium, three of which are resistant to antibiotics. A study showed that 30 grams of extra virgin olive oil taken daily, can eliminate Helicobacter Pylori infection in 10% to 40% of people in as little as two weeks.

COVID Fallout

We have a big fight on our hands to reduce inflammation in COVID victims. Natural remedies such as olive oil might have a role to play.

Summary

There have been far too many examples that show some form of benefit to ignore in taking olive oil every day.  It’s not some form of miracle cure, no such thing exists. But the smart money would be to add it to your daily diet.

 

References are available on request for those who wish to delve deeper.

We decided to go to Norfolk for the Bank holiday weekend as it looked like the weather there was going to be better than home.  Before COVID (remember those days?) one thing we thoroughly enjoyed was a 5 mile walk up the beach to a remote pub called the Nelsons Head. We would sit outside soaking up the total peace of the environment, with nothing more than bird song to break the silence.

It was a lovely warm day, so we decided to renew our pilgrimage and set off along the beach, stopping for a while to watch hundreds of adult seals sunbathe, while their pups played in the surf.  Our enthusiasm got us to the pub and we sat happily for a couple of hours in the sun with drinks and food. Little did we know our problems were only just beginning, as our muscles and joints started complaining.

beach

The return journey was hard, it felt like walking up hill, against the wind and in deep sand. (phew, I nearly wrote something else).  Nicky had had knee surgery in her twenties, which didn’t go well, and she was told her knee would be shot by her mid thirties, which would be way too young for a replacement, so she should expect quite a few years of pain and lack of mobility. Its only been Nicky’s determination to constantly exercise and keep her leg muscles strong that has kept these wolves away.

nelson

The problem is our recent exercise preference has been cycling on the Chase, which is good, but not great preparation for 10 miles of walking in the sand. Her knee locked up and walking became this wooden leg hop along, which aggravated her hip.  I’m sure if we had been doing our Lawrence of Arabia bit in a desert, we would have walked in circles. Eventually we made it back, though, two very tired people.

 

In Nicky’s case, her knee problem, although largely man made, is controllable with the right preparation.

The knee joint is one of the largest and most complex joints in the body. It’s heavily stressed and a lot can go wrong.  If you would like to know more about knees, then read on. It’s important to note that the level of pain you feel, or lack of mobility you suffer, is not directly linked to the severity of the problem

Anatomy

 

The knee is one of the largest and most complex joints in the body. It sits between the thigh (femur) and shin bone (tibia) and lateral small bone (fibula). The knee cap (patella) sits on the front. The bone ends are covered in shock absorbing cartilage, which wears with age and use.

anatomy of knee

The knee acts as a hinge and is responsible for both movement and weight bearing, and being one of the most stressed joints in the body, is prone to injury. The joint consists of menisci, ligaments,  tendons and bones.

There are two meniscus, crescent shaped discs that act as shock  absorbers and help spread the load across the top of the shin bone (tibia). The knee has four strong ligaments which act to stabilise, two cruciate in the centre of the joint and one on either side. Tendons are tough bands of tissue which connect muscles to the bones.   Although not technically part of the knee, the quads and hamstrings muscles in the thigh are important to strengthen and help flex the joint.

 

Common Problems

There are many potential problems with knees, ranging from serious that require surgery to others than need conservative treatment. Knees are most often injured during sports activities, exercising or due to a fall.

In athletes the most common acute injuries are to the cruciate ligaments, which usually occurs where the knee experiences a sudden twisting motion, a rapid change of direction, or a bad landing from a jump. Meniscal tears, lateral ligament tears, muscle tears and tendon strains are also common.

Osteoarthritis is a major cause of knee pain and is related to age, lifestyle, job, and especially for knees, weight.

Overuse and age can cause problems with folds in the sheath (plica), inflammation of tendons (tendinitis) and inflammation of bursas (bursitis).

How do I know if my knee pain is serious?

Signs of being serious are

  • Heard an audible crack
  • Feels unstable
  • You can’t weight bear
  • Very swollen & painful

For example, conditions such as a dislocated knee are serious, causing substantial damage to tissues, blood vessels and nerves, plus complete tearing of cruciate ligaments. Urgent medical attention may be required.

Self Help

Due to the many possible causes of knee injury, there are limited options for self help. Stopping the activity or sport which resulted in the injury, avoiding weight bearing, applying cool packs and elevate if swollen, taking pain killers and anti-inflammatories are all temporary options until a qualified diagnosis is available.

Treatment Options

The large number and broad range of causes of knee injury and pain, means that there are an equally broad range of treatment options and can include specific manipulation techniques, radial shockwave, pulsed shortwave, electro-acupuncture, exercise prescription and lifestyle advice. Most important is to get a qualified diagnosis as soon as possible and this may require X-ray or MRI scanning to clarify.

“Doc, I’m going back, but not to 2020, it’s heavy”

 

COVID has dominated all of us for the last year or more and turned our lives upside down.  Nearly everything we took for granted came to a stop and much of what was considered normal just disappeared from our lives.

We generally do things for a good reason

The sad part about this is that as we go through our lives, we tend to learn from our mistakes and the things that we do are the result of this learning. We generally do things for a good reason.  Thus, COVID meant that we stopped doing a lot of things which were good for us.

We are also all creatures of habit and so those things we stopped doing are no longer habitual and perhaps we don’t even think about them anymore. Then someone says something, or you do something that triggers a memory, and you realise it was a memory of something you used to do for good reason.

So, McFly, lets go back to late 2019, when the world was still normal and none of us had heard of COVID.

In late 2019, the majority of our clients with chronic problems had realised that there was a much better way of controlling their problems, other than getting short bursts of treatment, with a lot of pain and loss of mobility in between.  They realised that, yes, they needed to get a recent injury or flare up treated, but then they needed a regular drumbeat of treatment, perhaps as much as three months apart, to maintain the benefits. They were no longer going to react to their pain, they were going to proactively maintain their wellness and live a much higher quality of life.

Get the benefits of being proactive about your health

Many of our clients had started doing things again which for years they had been too afraid of doing, scared they would end up locked in pain and immobile.  They expanded their horizons, knowing that if they did get a negative reaction, we were there to cover their backs. That gave them so much more confidence to go out and enjoy life to the full.  They also noted that problems were much further apart and much less intrusive when they did occur.

The COVID pandemic obviously stopped our wellness programs and many of our clients suffered accordingly. Many will have forgotten about how much better they were when they were on the wellness program.

As we continue to exit the COVID pandemic, it’s time to go back and remind ourselves of our past and reignite those benefits for our future.

It really is time to go back to the future.

“Doc, I’m going back, but not to 2020, it’s heavy”

“McFly, why is everything so heavy in the future? Is there a problem with gravity in 2020?”

“No Doc, it’s COVID”

 

If you want to restart your Wellness program and really improve your quality of life, then now is the time to do it.

 

Call 01889 881488 now. Erica & Jean will be happy to help.

 

p.s.   The success of the national vaccine implementation has meant that we have seen a massive increase in demand and our waiting lists are growing. One great benefit of the wellness program is that you get to book well ahead and get your appointments when it best suits you.

Every now and then you come across something so amazing it makes you question your own beliefs about what is possible in life. Most of us set limits on ourselves that restrict what we believe is possible and guess what that’s what usually happens

 

We achieve far less than we could have without self inflicted limitations

 

I’m going to set you a theoretical target. You decide if it’s realistic or just plain daft.

 

You have to single handily transform a barren wasteland, twice the size of Central Park in New York, into a lush forest fit for elephants, tigers, deer and lots of other wild life.

 Oh, one last thing. By hand, no equipment.

 

When you have made your decision, read on…………………………………

 

Ok be honest. You thought about if for a second or two and decided it fell into the ‘mission impossible category. Even Tom Cruise couldn’t do that you thought. Great no change, keep the bar low.

Why? Well to most of us it would seem impossible to do. So you would set your sights a bit lower, say transform your overgrown back garden into a nicely laid out area with some grass, flower beds and a couple of trees.  Now this in itself is not a bad achievement. But how much more might you have achieved if you had set your goals higher.

How high could you have gone?

Go get your self a drink, sit back and watch what one man achieved. Be inspired and reset your goals higher.

When you are in pain, it dominates your thoughts. All you want to do is get out pain and fast.

The problem is that pain is a complex issue and there are usually no simple solutions

There are many factors which could affect the level of pain you feel and some of these factors may at first surprise you as they are not part of our normal conversation. Our modern day approach to dealing with pain usually starts and ends with drugs.

Most of us know, however, that there are serious consequences to long term use of drugs, and these consequences get more serious as more powerful drugs are prescribed.  In fact, prescribed opioids are addictive and are responsible for creating a lot of addicts.

Further, opioids are now recognised as being ineffective in treating chronic pain.

No doubt, many questions are probably now in your mind:

  • What is pain?
  • What’s the difference between acute and chronic pain?
  • Why am I in pain?
  • Who should I see?
  • Who can I trust?
  • What can I do myself?

 

If you were armed with answers to these questions, you would probably feel a lot more confident and certainly much better armed to make better decisions to deal with your pain.

 

We have thus created a brand new ‘Pain Escape Plan’ that aims to answer these questions and put you on a pathway to better long term health and reduced risk to future pain.

Your free plan is here.

p.s. If you have friends or family who are in pain, then please forward this blog to them. You might save them from weeks, months or even years of unnecessary pain.

For those of you who have had a serious pain problem and needed an MRI to help diagnose the problem, you will know that getting an MRI through the NHS can be somewhere between difficult and impossible. Even when approved, it can then take weeks to get the scan and then weeks to get the results.

For some, this situation is just not acceptable and then the only option is to go private

scan

We have been able to provide a private MRI for many years through Alliance Medical at Cannock, who provide excellent service and normally complete the scan and report within 1 week.

Both their scanning technology and quality of reporting is excellent. It’s also very cost effective with single scans starting at just £249.

spine

If you feel you need an MRI scan to help diagnose your problem, please call us. We can help.

 

Call 01889 881488 NOW. Erica & Jean will be happy to help.

Possibly? But At No Extra Charge From Us!

 

Radial Shockwave seems to be the in thing at the moment, with increasing numbers of clients calling to ask if it might help their condition.

For those of you who have not heard of radial shockwave, here is a brief summary.

The technology is far from new, having been developed, it is reported, from observations in WWII, where troops were injured and sometimes killed by the shockwaves resulting from near miss explosions.

Since then, the use of shockwave as a treatment has been researched, developed and used much more in mainland Europe than the UK. Thus the UK came to the party many years after it was firmly established in the rest of Europe, but it is now common here.

What Conditions Can Radial Shockwave Treat?

Storz

We use radial shockwave to help treat many conditions, ranging from tennis elbow, to low back pain, Achilles tendonitis, ligament damage, fascial tightness, frozen shoulder, calcified tendonitis, heel spurs and plantar fasciitis (policeman’s foot). In short, it has benefits for treating much of the body.

Is It Expensive?

The answer to that is it depends where you go for treatment. We were one of the first clinics in the country to provide radial shockwave treatment and we went to Europe for training to make sure we were providing well informed treatment. We have since invested in no less than four radial shockwave machines. So we have vast experience in using radial shockwave.

We Were SHOCKED when we found out how much other clinics charge for shockwave

Last week we bought our fourth radial shockwave and in discussion with the company we were informed that most clinics in the UK only have one machine, rarely does a clinic have two. This didn’t surprise us but we were shocked when we were told that the average charge outside of London for a single shockwave treatment was £60 to £100. Inside London it was monopoly money.

We don’t charge extra for shockwave.

Our philosophy is to provide the very best treatment we can and all our therapists have access to all our technology, including radial shockwave and all of this technology is available at no extra cost to you.

What is Shockwave?

There are two types of shockwave technology, radial and focussed, with by far the majority in use being radial.

Focussed shockwave uses a focussing lens, similar in concept to a car headlight, which brings the sound waves together at a specific depth. Focussed shockwave is used to break up kidney stones, deep within the body. Accurate depth control is important and usually requires scanning technology. It’s not the best tool for treating many MSK problems.

Radial shockwave uses a gun type device, where a bullet is fired and hits a metal endpiece which in turn is pressed on the body. In this way the energy of the bullet is transferred into the body as an intense sound wave, which diverges once in the body. Typically, the maximum effective depth is 30mm, as by then the wave is widely dispersed.

Most radial shockwave equipment uses compressed air to provide energy to the gun and more recently, all electric guns have gained popularity, being lighter and more mobile.

laser

What Should You Do?

Radial shockwave is now readily available across the UK, so you have plenty of choice.  Bear in mind that radial shockwave is not the answer to every problem and we consider it just one of the tools in our toolbox.  Just as you wouldn’t try to take a screw out with a hammer, we wouldn’t use radial shockwave for certain conditions.

Ultimately, the skill and knowledge of the therapist is far more important than any one piece of equipment and for our part, we are confident that we have a very strong team of knowledgeable therapists. Our knowledge and commitment to radial shockwave is probably as good as anybody in the UK.

More importantly, we won’t charge you an arm and a leg for an in vogue treatment. In fact, we won’t charge you anything extra at all.

 

If you are in pain, we can help.

 

Call 01889 881488 Now. Erica & Jean will be happy to help

The great news is that the UK is now beginning to exit the COVID pandemic and life is beginning to return to normal.

Understandably though, we still need to be cautious, and the authorities rightly require us to make sure we minimise risk for you and our staff. This means that if you have not already completed a COVID questionnaire with us, you will have to endure going through this on the phone and sometimes you won’t have time to do it.

We have thus created an online version of the form, which is attached, so that you can complete the form at a time which suits you better. If you are thinking of returning to us for treatment, and have not already completed the questionnaire, then by submitting this form beforehand, we will have plenty of time to resolve any issues that may occur. This means that when it comes time to book your appointment, it will be a fast and streamlined process, which will inevitably be a lot more convenient to you.

All you have to do is click on the button below, answer the questions and submit.  If there are any issues that need discussing, we will get back to you by phone.

Last August we sent out a blog to let you know about a significant shift in policy by NICE, the organisation that approves treatments for the NHS, in which they stated:

“commonly used drugs for chronic primary pain have little or no evidence that they work and should not be prescribed. Instead, it recommended that people with chronic pain should be offered supervised exercise programmes, some types of psychological therapy, or acupuncture”.

Hidden within this statement was a second U turn on their attitude towards acupuncture, because at one time acupuncture was considered a gold standard by NICE for treating chronic lumbar pain, then they reversed this to the extent that acupuncture was put in the category of quackery. This new announcement has reversed opinion again as acupuncture is one of the recommended treatments for chronic pain.

NICE – We Ignored Them

Our clinic has world class therapists who have studied relentlessly to learn. Combine that with over 100 years of practical experience and you cannot ignore what you see with your own eyes, over and over and over again.

What we saw was that acupuncture worked.

So, when NICE did their first U turn, we ignored it (NICE has no jurisdiction over private clinics anyway) and carried on providing the very best treatment we could.

Our patients appreciated the help acupuncture gave them.

Opiate Crisis – It is Real and Prescribed

Now let us briefly focus on the Opiate crisis. Until COVID hit, the opiate crisis was the major health topic in the USA.  In the USA, most drug addicts have been created by dependence on prescription drugs. Think about that for a minute. They prescribed their drug crisis.

Now this situation is nothing new and it has not gone away while COVID has engulfed the world. It has been known for years that the prescription of some drugs, such as opiates, were ineffective with chronic pain and yet have been overprescribed to the extent that it has caused an opiate dependency crisis.

In the USA, because of their growing demand for non-opiate solutions to chronic pain, Nicky was asked by 30 radio stations across the USA to speak and advise on other methods for treating chronic pain.  In this she talked about the evidence of the inappropriateness of certain drugs on chronic pain and at the same time talked of the benefits and success she had seen when using acupuncture and even more so with dry needling.

Bear in mind this was 2 years before this problem was broadcast on the radio this week.

Dry Needling Is More Effective Than Acupuncture In Treating Chronic Pain

Lessons we have learnt from the above are that we need to be confident in our own skills and knowledge, and what we have seen with our own eyes. We should not be swayed by bureaucratic and perhaps political decisions where those do not match reality.

We should also recognise that due to constantly studying and practicing, we will always be way ahead of these types of announcements that evidently come out years down the track.

So, lets make a broad statement of our own.

Dry needling is far superior to acupuncture in treating chronic pain.

Let us justify this claim.

Nicky Snazell had a life experience as a child in which she saw the failure of western medicine to treat her mother’s many years of severe back pain. As a result, she made it a lifetime goal to constantly pursue treatments and approaches that gave better results.

She studied physiotherapy and acupuncture and provided both in her early years of treating but was frustrated by the results achieved with chronic pain. Then in the 1990’s she heard about a Professor Gunn, who had developed a western based needling technique, called Gunn IMS, which used an acupuncture needle but in a totally different way. Gunn used the needle as a microsurgical tool.

Nicky studied hard with many trips to Vancouver, where Professor Gunn was based, and reached not only the highest level, but was also awarded the first fellowship in the world by Professor Gunn. Simply put, other than Professor Gunn himself, there is no practitioner in the world more qualified than Nicky in Gunn IMS.

But what is more important is patient outcome and over more than 20 years, Nicky has consistently achieved significantly better results with Gunn IMS than with acupuncture.

In addition to Nicky’s observations and results, we now have Jon Hobbs as part of our team. Jon is Chairman of the AACP (Acupuncture Association of Chartered Physiotherapists) and one of the world’s leading acupuncture trainers.

Jon joined us primarily to learn Gunn IMS from Nicky, so that he can add this to his teaching portfolio.  It is significant that Nicky is the only practitioner in the world that Jon allows to treat him.  What better recognition is there for the merits of Gunn IMS?

What This Means For You

There have been no NICE announcements about Gunn IMS (or dry needling as it is more commonly known). Nor should we expect one for a good few years.  Does this matter?

Well yes, in that many will only be swayed by national announcements. For those, maybe one day we will be able to provide more effective help.

But for those who want the best help with their chronic pain now and don’t want to wait for belated announcements, then Gunn IMS or dry needling, is available now and is well proven.

 

If you are suffering from chronic pain, call us now. We can help.

 

Call Now 01889 881488. Erica and Jean will be happy to help.