Back pain is a very common disorder that will affect almost everyone at some point in their lives. It is a leading cause of disability and sickness absence from work. Most episodes of back pain will subside with gentle movement and a course of treatment. Some people, however, suffer from chronic or recurring back pain which requires a tailored management plan and graded rehabilitation based on the individual, their body and their goals. There are many different causes of back pain, more common causes include facet joint dysfunction, intervertebral disc disease, muscle strains and ligament sprains. Fact: 50% of rowers experience an episode of back pain during the course of a season. Issues in the low back can cause symptoms in one or both legs, this is often due to an irritation of the nerves which run from the lower spine down into the legs which, if it affects the back of the legs, is usually described as Sciatica.
The bane of many runners’ lives, knee pain is often caused by repetitive strain. It’s often predicated by a lack of strength or stability in the hip, knee or foot and often comes on gradually. The location of your symptoms usually depends on the structures involved. For example, pain in the front of the knee is often a result of stress on the patello-femoral joint (knee cap), whereas pain on the outside of the knee usually correlates to issues with the Illio-tibial band. However, it’s not always that straight forward and a detailed assessment with a physiotherapist is strongly advised if you’re experiencing pain in your knee.
The technological revolution has seen a rise in the number of people experiencing episodes of neck pain, giving rise to the term “Tech Neck”. Extended time sat in front of a computer screen takes its toll on the body, particularly the postural muscles of the upper spine. On top of this, repetitive movements of the neck to one side can irritate joints and fatigue muscles. As with back pain, the causes of neck pain are many and a thorough examination is imperative to finding out the cause of your pain and getting you on the path to recovery. Whiplash Disorder is an acceleration-deceleration mechanism of force to the neck. It’s often caused by a road traffic accident but also affects many contact sports players such as rugby and American football players. Having treated hundreds of people following road traffic accidents, and after spending a season working with the Great Britain American Football team in 2013, Head Physiotherapist Joe Korge is well versed in the management of whiplash disorder.
Often described as the most complex joint in the human body, the shoulder is actually made up of four joints: The gleno-humeral joint, acromio-clavicular joint, scapula-thoracic joint and sterno-clavicular joint. The joints of the shoulder are held together by strong ligaments and many different muscles, most notably, the Rotator Cuff. The Rotator Cuff is a group of four muscles which form a claw-like structure on the top of the arm, holding it in the socket of the shoulder and providing stability when you move your arm. Many shoulder issues are caused, or certainly exacerbated, by dysfunction of the rotator cuff muscles. To complicate matters, an intricate network of nerves and blood vessels supplying the arm and hand runs through the shoulder joint which must be carefully considered during a shoulder assessment.
Pain is usually caused by stress or damage to a structure in the body. However, sometimes pain can continue after an injury has healed and the structures have been restored to a healthy state. Chronic pain is considered when symptoms last longer than 3 months and is multi-factorial in nature. It is complex, often misunderstood and can be extremely frustrating to experience. The body’s natural response to pain can sometimes cause chronic symptoms through immobility, weakness and adaptations in the nervous system. As with the pain associated with recovery from an injury, physiotherapists are well equipped to help you manage your chronic pain and help you restore function and quality of life.
Along-side advice and education about your symptoms and your body, your Spires Physiotherapist will provide you with a tailored rehabilitation programme to match your functional goals. Your exercises will be based on the outcome of your assessment and will work towards achieving your individual aims. For example, recovering from an ankle injury involves very different exercises if you’re a cyclist compared to if you’re a dancer. The aim of rehabilitation isn’t just to get you back to pre-injury function, but to get you performing better than you were before your injury in order to prevent recurrence of your symptoms and improve your sporting performance.
Manual therapy techniques, such as deep soft tissue massage and joint manipulation, can help reduce pain and aide recovery from injury. Gone are the days when therapists tell you that manual therapy breaks down scar tissue or moves toxins (whatever they are!) around the body as scientific research evidence refutes this. Manual therapy is provided at Spires Physiotherapy as an adjunct to your rehabilitation and all our therapists are qualified in sports massage and Swedish massage. Electrotherapy such as ultrasound has been shown to be ineffective in the treatment of muscular and skeletal conditions and is not used at our clinics.
Acupuncture is a very safe procedure, carried out by fully qualified professionals. Our physiotherapists are qualified through the Acupuncture Association of Chartered Physiotherapists (AACP) and have undergone a recognised accredited training course in acupuncture. Acupuncture can be part of an integrated approach to the management of pain and inflammation. Scientific research and clinical evidence have shown that it can reduce pain by stimulating the brain and spinal cord to produce natural pain-relieving chemicals such as endorphins, melatonin (which promotes sleep) and serotonin (to promote well-being). These chemicals assist the body's healing processes and offer pain relief. The National Institute for Health and Excellence has recognised the benefit of acupuncture in the treatment of knee osteoarthritis, persistent low back pain and headaches. To maximise its effectiveness, acupuncture can be combined with other physiotherapy treatments such as manual therapy, taping and rehabilitation exercises . It can also be used when other more conventional treatments have failed.