Our nerves are important communicators of information between the brain and the body. When working well they allow our muscles to function smoothly, allowing fluid movement and function. They also convey internal and external sensory information to the brain which creates an awareness of where were are, what we are doing and how things feel....
I love a glass of red wine, for various reasons including, when drunk in moderation, it’s health benefits.
But these health benefits, largely due to the polyphenols (antioxidants which scavenge harmful free radicals) found in the grape skins, can be strongly negated by all the other junk that is found in many wines.
Headaches come in many different forms. The International Headaches Society has over 300 types of headaches in its classification system! The IHS system although very comprehensive is better suited for research purposes and perhaps less suitable for use in clinical practice.
A cervicogenic headache is characterised by pain referred to the head from the cervical spine (neck).These types of headaches are caused by abnormalities in the joints, muscles and neural structures of the neck region.
There is no one tell tale sign or unique feature that can differentiate between different types of headaches. We must look at a range of features from our clients history and our physical examination.
I’ve noticed a worrying trend over the last few years.
My teenage clients are generally much stiffer, mainly about their middle backs, hips and ankles compared my 60-75 year old clients. This is usually in some way related to the injury which has caused them enough pain to need to come and see me.
Why could this be?
Most of my older clients come to me for treatment because they have always been active and wish to remain so as they advance in years. They moved more when they were younger and their lifestyles tended to be less sedentary, particularly as children.
By contrast my younger clients of today sit much more, this has been shown in many studies. Between long hours at school, homework and recreational use of devices, today's teenagers are generally much more sedentary which leads to joint stiffness and other health issues.
It’s the new year, the gyms are full as the fitness industry enjoys its busiest time of the year.
Of course there are many benefits to exercising more which is often up there on the New Years resolutions list. Many are also trying to drop those few extra Christmas pounds.
My advice would be to start slow, give your joints and tendons time to adapt to the extra load that exercise will place on them. Increase your times, distances, speeds or weights gradually and allow at least a day or two between sessions to recover.
CBD is all the rage these days and becoming known as a ‘miraculous’ compound. But is it really as amazing as it sounds?
CBD, also known as cannabidiol, is one of many cannabinoids found in the hemp and cannabis plant. It was discovered in the 1940’s and was initially thought to be psychoactive i.e causes changes in brain function.
Since then, it’s popularity has been rapidly growing with researchers all around the world investigating its effects and is now known as one of the few cannabinoids that turns out to be non-psychoactive, particularly if extracted from the hemp plant. This makes it potentially safer and easier to use.
It is thought to have many therapeutic effects such as anti-seizure, antioxidant, anti-anxiety, antipsychotic, anticancer, analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties.
But does it really work and how?
CBD works by binding to certain receptors in our cells which then lead to a series of chemical reactions to cause a specific effect.
It has an affinity for activating some important receptors in such as:
-Serotonin receptors (specifically 5-HT1A) which control anxiety and mood
-Vanilloid receptors (TRPV1) which influence the pain experience
-Adenosine receptors which control sleep
-Endocannabinoid receptors (indirectly) which control appetite, memory, mood and pain.
One of the most well known effects of CBD is on anxiety and mood. It has been described to instantly give a lift in mood and a feeling of calmness. It impacts activity of the limbic and paralimbic systems in the brain(1) and binds to the 5-HT receptors that control the release of neurotransmitters such as serotonin, which influence stress, anxiety and mood and pain perception. Because of this, it is being researched as a natural anti-depressant.
As the festive season kicks in, no doubt most of us will end up eating and drinking a bit more than usual.
Some good advice I try to follow is don't eat and run, but carve out enough time in your day to sit down and savour your meal one bite at a time.
Enjoy eating with family or friends, or eating alone with some relaxing music maybe? Eat your food slowly and chew each bite completely to facilitate proper digestion.
Slowing down your eating connects you with the global "slow food" movement, which promotes growing your own, buying locally, preparing meals from scratch, eating in a relaxed, celebratory environment, and generally deepening your appreciation of the entire experience of eating, instead of just slamming your taste buds with the instant gratification of sweet or greasy processed foods.
There are many terms to describe various injuries to tendons which can be confusing to understand.
In simplified terms:
Tendinopathy refers to an overuse injury of a tendon.
Tendinosis refers to a non-inflammatory degeneration of a tendon, this term is often used instead of tendinopathy to mean more of less the same thing, especially during the later stages.
Tendonitis refers to inflammation of a tendon, this may occur in the early stages of a tendinopathy.
Tendon partial and complete rupture refers to tears in the tendon, these are more likely to occur in a tendon in which tendinopathy or tendinosis has occurred, but not always.
Let’s focus on tendinopathies as this is what we see most often in the clinic.
What are the Intervertebral Discs in the Spine?
They are fibrocartilaginous cushions between each vertebral body and play a major role in shock absorption and mobility of the spine. They are composed of the annulus fibrosus (outer layer) and nucleus pulposus (inner layer). They are a common cause of low back pain.
How are they injured?
Excessive twisting of the lower back and forward bending can cause a ‘torsional’ stress on the disc, resulting in a tear in the annulus fibrosus. A tear will stimulate an inflammatory response and can predispose to an outward bulge of the the inner nucleus pulposus.
Compression injuries result from excessive weight bearing forces and may be initiated by fractures of the vertebrae. This can lead to degradation of the nucleus and increase load on the annulus fibrosus, which produces pain.
What does a disc injury feel like?
- Acute sudden onset of pain
- Can be triggered by a relatively minor movement e.g. bending over
- Pain may be central, on one side or across the lower back
- Pain radiate to buttocks as a ‘deep seated ache’, hamstrings, or lower leg
- May get sharp pains down the leg indicative of nerve root irritation
- Often aggravated by bending forwards and may be eased by leaning backwards