416 Ilam Road, Fendalton, Christchurch 8052

Clinic Hours: Monday - Friday 7am - 8pm

416 Ilam Road, Fendalton, Christchurch 8052

Clinic Hours: Monday-Friday 7am-8pm

Author Archive

Health Effects of Disordered Breathing in Children and Young Adults: A Guide for Parents

Monday, February 19th, 2024

Hyperventilation syndrome, or ‘over breathing’, is a common condition, especially in children and younger adults, where disordered breathing patterns can be linked to a range of distressing symptoms such as anxiety, low energy, back pain, neck pain, headaches and irritable bowel symptoms. Hyperventilation syndrome can affect individuals of all ages; however, younger females are predominantly more affected.

Breathing might seem like a simple activity we perform effortlessly, especially given that we do this more than 20,000 times per day.  But the reality is that many individuals, including children and young adults, can suffer greatly from hyperventilation syndrome, which often goes undiagnosed and can have significant health consequences for children and younger adults. In fact, approximately 70% of our patients in this age group whom we treat in our clinic suffer from hyperventilation syndrome.

A significant hurdle in dealing with hyperventilation syndrome is that those affected often don’t recognise their breathing is dysfunctional, which leads to a lack of diagnosis and appropriate treatment. Many of our patients present seeking treatment for individual symptoms like headaches, neck pain, jaw pain, or IBS, not realising these may be linked to their breathing disorder.

This article will delve into the symptoms and fundamental causes of hyperventilation, and we will examine how osteopathy can play a crucial role in improving breathing mechanics and its importance in treating hyperventilation, ultimately contributing to the overall health and well-being of children and younger adults.

Anatomy of Breathing

Normal breathing, often referred to as diaphragmatic breathing, is characterised by the harmonious movement of the upper and lower sections of the rib cage and the abdomen. This type of breathing necessitates the effective use and operation of the diaphragm and ribs. It ensures a proper balance of oxygen and the expulsion of carbon dioxide from the body. In contrast, upper rib breathing, or hyperventilation syndrome, is marked by the predominant movement of the upper chest and rib cage, with minimal engagement of the lower rib cage.

What is Hyperventilation Syndrome?

Hyperventilation syndrome is when the breathing rate is excessively high, often greater than 25 breaths per minute, whereas the normal range is 10-14 breaths per minute.

This leads to an imbalance in the body’s carbon dioxide and oxygen levels. This condition is typically associated with an underlying psychological issue, such as stress or anxiety, coupled with mechanical dysfunction where the rib cage and diaphragm have become restricted and, therefore, cannot properly assist the breathing processes appropriately. Hyperventilation syndrome can cause numerous individuals to experience symptoms of low mood, anxiety, back pain, neck pain, headaches and IBS symptoms.

 

What Causes Hyperventilation Syndrome?

The exact cause of hyperventilation syndrome is not fully understood, but it seems to be related to an abnormal respiratory response to stress and poor breathing mechanics. In these cases, the excessive breathing serves as a response to emotional distress.

These individuals may rely on upper rib breathing instead of diaphragmatic breathing. This can trigger a “suffocation alarm” in the brain, releasing excitatory neurotransmitters and causing symptoms like palpitations, tremors, anxiety, and sweating. The person is in ‘fight for flight’ mode.

Poor breathing mechanics can also contribute to dysfunctional breathing and is most often overlooked when treating hyperventilation syndrome. The diaphragm, one of the main muscles involved in breathing, is usually held in a contracted state, making it hard to engage during breathing. There is often dysfunction of the ribs, thoracic spine, and the respiratory muscles of the neck, which all play a vital role in assisting the breathing process.

 

Why Should We Be Concerned About Hyperventilation Syndrome?

Hyperventilation syndrome is characterised by excessive breathing, which can lead to decreased carbon dioxide levels in the blood, a condition known as respiratory alkalosis.

Hyperventilation can also affect the autonomic nervous system, causing autonomic dysregulation, where patients are kept in a constant state of ‘fight or flight’ where they are continuously exposed to the stress hormone cortisol.

 

The Connection Between Hyperventilation and Anxiety

Hyperventilation is frequently associated with anxiety. Anxious thoughts can lead to accelerated breathing rates, while hyperventilation can amplify anxiety symptoms. Moreover, hyperventilation can cause a drop in blood carbon dioxide levels, potentially leading to headaches, light-headedness, and a tingling sensation.

 

Hyperventilation’s Link to Neck Pain, Headaches, and Jaw Pain

Hyperventilation can increase muscle tension due to rapid and shallow breathing patterns, especially around the neck, jaws, and shoulders. The excessive use of breathing muscles may lead to strain and discomfort, manifesting as neck pain, headaches, and shoulder and jaw pain.

 

Hyperventilation’s Impact on Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

The act of hyperventilating can have an indirect effect on the gastrointestinal system, particularly for those predisposed to anxiety or stress-related ailments such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). The connection between the gut and the brain is significant, as emotional stress can lead to physiological changes in the gastrointestinal system. Anxiety and stress caused by hyperventilation can also aggravate IBS symptoms, causing abdominal pain, bloating, and changes in bowel patterns such as constipation and diarrhoea.

 

Common Symptoms of Hyperventilation Include

Due to the change in the biochemistry of the blood, hyperventilation syndrome can lead to a wide range of symptoms, including:

  • Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Foggy brain
  • Headaches
  • Neck Pain, Jaw Pain
  • Tightness in the chest and sore shoulders
  • Difficulty taking a deep breath
  • Dizziness, feeling faint
  • Frequent deep sighs or yawning
  • Tingling or numbness around the mouth or in the hands
  • Digestive issues, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) such as constipation or diarrhoea, and abdominal pain.
  • Low energy and fatigue

How Can Osteopathy Help?

Hyperventilation syndrome is often overlooked when individuals present with this wide range of symptoms. Osteopathy is a form of manual medicine that views the person as a whole and will consider all of these symptoms when formulating a treatment plan.

Osteopathic treatment will aim to re-establish proper breathing mechanics and functionality. Osteopaths work to correct issues in the diaphragm, ribs, neck, and pelvis, which can significantly enhance a patient’s ability to breathe more effortlessly.  Our osteopaths will also teach our patients several breathing retraining techniques so that they can manage their breathing effectively by themselves.

Once proper breathing mechanics have been fully restored, the patient will breathe much more efficiently, which will, in turn, help to balance the pH levels of the blood. Efficient breathing will also calm down the ‘fight or flight’ response from an overreactive sympathetic nervous system, and the patient should feel much calmer, have more energy, and be in a much better place to deal with their anxiety and stress if present.

Other Interventions Required To Treat Hyperventilation Syndrome?

Some patients may still have some underlying long-term stress and anxiety that may need some further treatment, such as psychological interventions or medication. At Better Health Osteopathy, we are exceptionally fortunate to have our in-house psychologist specialising in treating anxiety and trauma in children and young adults. Our psychologist (Jacqueline Harris) can advise on medication requirements, as can your GP.

Conclusion

Hyperventilation Syndrome is a common condition where abnormal breathing patterns can lead to distressing symptoms. Understanding the biochemistry behind this condition can help patients grasp the importance of proper breathing mechanics, breathing retraining exercises and managing stress to alleviate symptoms and improve overall well-being. Osteopathic interventions and breathing techniques can be vital in managing hyperventilation and alleviating associated symptoms. If you or your child is experiencing hyperventilation or related symptoms, consult with one of our osteopaths to receive an appropriate diagnosis, treatment and support.

Contact the team at Better Health Osteopathy in Christchurch today. Call 027 755 5700 or book online.

Our Osteopaths are here to help!

Should you require a consultation with our psychologist, Jacqueline Harris. She can be contacted on 027 497 8418 or harrisjkj@gmail.com.

Skiing Injuries: How Osteopathy Offers A Pathway To Injury Prevention And Recover

Monday, July 17th, 2023

Whether you are an enthusiastic beginner, a seasoned pro, or someone recovering from a recent ski injury, osteopathy can play an important role in supporting your healing process. In this article, we will discuss common skiing injuries encountered in New Zealand. We will shed light on how Osteopathy can help with injury prevention and recovery. We will discuss the specific benefits of osteopathic treatment. And we will also provide valuable insights into injury prevention strategies. 

Osteopathic Treatment of Skiing injuries

 

What Are The Most Common Injuries In Skiing?

Skiing is a popular winter sport that can put significant strain on the body, leading to various types of injuries. Some of the most common skiing injuries that our osteopaths at Better Health Osteopathy regularly see include the following.

  1. Knee Injuries: Knee injuries, such as medial collateral ligament (MCL) sprains and meniscal tears, are frequently reported among skiers. These injuries often occur due to sudden changes in direction, falls, or collisions.
  2. Wrist and Hand Injuries: Fractures, sprains, and ligament injuries in the wrist and hand and thumb are common among skiers. These occur as a skier tries to break a fall with an outstretched hand. These injuries can range from mild sprains to ligament tears to sometimes fractures.
  3. Shoulder Injuries: Shoulder injuries, including dislocations, acromioclavicular joint injuries, and rotator cuff tears or strains, are also common. These can result from falls or collisions during skiing, particularly when skiers land on an outstretched arm.
  4. Neck Injuries: While not as common as some other injuries, they can occur due to falls or collisions and can result in whiplash, concussions, headaches, and neck pain. These injuries emphasise the importance of wearing a helmet while skiing.
  5. Spinal Injuries: Although relatively rare, spinal injuries can occur from high-velocity falls or collisions. These injuries may involve herniated discs, vertebral fractures, or spinal cord compressions.

If we suspect that you need imaging, we can refer you directly for an X-ray and ultrasound. You don’t need to see your GP for this referral.  For an MRI referral, we would need to refer you to a Sports Doctor who would organise this.

Osteopathic Treatment of Skiing injuries

Why Skiers Choose To See An Osteopath?

Osteopaths are skilled healthcare professionals who focus on diagnosing, treating, and preventing musculoskeletal conditions. Through a holistic approach, they aim to restore balance and promote the body’s natural ability to heal itself.

Skiers seek the help of osteopaths for several reasons:

  • Injury Prevention: Osteopaths can assess a skier’s biomechanics, identify potential imbalances or weaknesses, and provide personalised advice on injury prevention strategies. This may involve recommendations on stretching and strengthening exercises. It will also involve correcting all the underlying dysfunction in the body that can lead to future injuries. This can include addressing any dysfunction in the shoulders, neck, back, knees, wrists and ankles, for example.  Addressing such dysfunction in the body prior to skiing can go a long way to injury prevention and performance optimisation.
  • Injury Treatment: Osteopaths employ a variety of manual therapy techniques. These include joint mobilisation, soft tissue manipulation, and muscle energy techniques. These can help alleviate pain, restore mobility, and accelerate the healing process after a ski injury.
  • Rehabilitation and Recovery: Osteopaths can provide guidance and exercises to aid in the rehabilitation process after an injury. This will help skiers regain strength, flexibility, and stability for a safe return to the slopes.
  • Performance Enhancement: Osteopaths can work with skiers to optimise their body mechanics, flexibility, and overall musculoskeletal health, leading to improved performance on the ski field. By addressing any restrictions or imbalances and improving mobility, skiers can enhance their technique, endurance, and agility.

Five Tips To Help Skiers Remain Injury-Free

As skiing can be pretty demanding on the body, it’s essential to take proactive measures to minimise the risk of accidents and injuries. By implementing these practical tips, you can enhance your safety on the slopes and keep your skiing journey as injury-free as possible.

  1. Warm-Up and Stretching: Before hitting the slopes, engage in a proper warm-up routine to increase blood flow and prepare the muscles for activity. Follow it with full-body dynamic stretching exercises.Osteopathic Treatment of Skiing injuries
  2. Strength and Conditioning: Include regular strength and conditioning exercises in your fitness regimen to build strength, stability, and endurance. Focus on exercises that target the core, legs, and upper body, as these areas are heavily involved in skiing.
  3. Proper Gear and Equipment: Ensure that your ski boots, bindings, and skis are properly fitted and adjusted to your body and skill level. Wearing appropriate protective gear, such as helmets and wrist guards, can also reduce the risk of injury.
  4. Skiing Techniques and Lessons: Take ski lessons or work with a qualified instructor to learn proper skiing techniques and improve your skills. Learning how to maintain balance, use your edges effectively, and fall safely can significantly reduce the risk of injury.
  5. Listen to Your Body and Rest: Pay attention to any signs of fatigue, pain, or discomfort during or after skiing. Rest and allow your body to recover adequately between sessions. Ignoring pain or pushing through fatigue can increase the risk of injury.

Remember, if you experience a significant injury or persistent pain while skiing, it is advisable to consult with a healthcare professional, such as our osteopaths at Better Health Osteopathy, for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

What Techniques Will An Osteopath Use During Treatment?

During treatment, our osteopaths will utilise a variety of techniques to address ski injuries and promote healing. These techniques are chosen based on the individual’s specific condition, symptoms, and overall health. Here are some common techniques employed by our osteopaths during the treatment of ski injuries:

  • Soft Tissue Manipulation: Osteopaths use gentle manual techniques to manipulate and release tension in the soft tissues, including muscles, tendons, and ligaments. This can help reduce pain, improve circulation, and restore normal tissue function.
  • Joint Mobilisation: Osteopaths employ skilled techniques to mobilise stiff or restricted joints. By applying gentle pressure and controlled movements, they aim to restore joint mobility, reduce pain, and improve overall joint function.
  • Muscle Energy Techniques (MET): MET involves active muscle contractions and relaxation in specific patterns to restore normal muscle balance and joint alignment. This technique is effective in improving joint range of motion, reducing muscle imbalances, and enhancing overall musculoskeletal function.
  • Myofascial Release: Osteopaths use this technique to release tension and tightness in the fascia, the connective tissue that surrounds and supports muscles, organs, and other structures. By applying sustained pressure and gentle stretching, myofascial release can alleviate pain and restore tissue flexibility.
  • Manipulation and High-Velocity Thrusts: In some cases, our osteopaths may employ high-velocity, low-amplitude thrusts to specific joints or spinal segments. This technique aims to restore normal joint alignment, improve joint mobility, and reduce pain.
  • Rehabilitation: Osteopaths may prescribe specific rehabilitation exercises tailored to the individual’s needs and stage of recovery. These exercises focus on strengthening weak muscles, improving flexibility, and enhancing overall functional movement to support rehabilitation and prevent future injuries.

It’s important to note that treatment techniques employed by osteopaths can vary based on the specific injury, patient preferences, and individual circumstances. Our osteopaths will always take a personalised approach, considering the whole body and addressing any underlying factors that may contribute to the injury. This comprehensive approach aims not only to alleviate immediate symptoms but also to promote long-term recovery and overall well-being.

Osteopathic Treatment of Skiing injuries

 

As we conclude our exploration of how osteopathy can help with skiing injuries, it is clear that Osteopathy can offer immense benefits to skiers of all levels. Osteopathy will address not only the immediate injury but also the underlying factors contributing to it. By promoting the body’s natural healing mechanisms and optimising musculoskeletal function, osteopaths can play a vital role in the recovery process from skiing injuries.

Furthermore, the preventative aspect of osteopathy cannot be understated. Skiers who engage in regular osteopathic care can identify and address potential areas of weakness or imbalance, reducing the risk of future injuries and enhancing overall performance on the slopes. The ability of our osteopaths to develop personalised rehabilitation programs and provide guidance on injury prevention is invaluable for skiers. This will help to ensure a more sustained approach to long-term health and your continued enjoyment of skiing.

So, if you find yourself in need of injury treatment, rehabilitation, or simply seeking to optimise your performance, please feel free to reach out to our highly skilled Osteopaths at Better Health Osteopathy. They possess the knowledge, skills, and holistic approach necessary to support your healing, enhance your physical well-being, and achieve optimal performance as you ski!

If you’re suffering from a skiing injury, it may be time to book with one of our experienced Osteopaths. Contact the team at Better Health Osteopathy in Christchurch today. Call 027 755 5700 or book online.

Our Osteopaths are here to help!

Osteopathic Treatment Of Hip Labral Tears

Sunday, July 9th, 2023

Hip labral tears can be a source of persistent pain and discomfort, significantly affecting one’s quality of life and mobility. These tears, which occur in the cartilage lining of the hip joint, can result from repetitive movements, trauma, or previous underlying structural abnormalities. Whilst surgical intervention may be necessary for a very small number of patients. Non-surgical approaches, such as osteopathic treatment, offer an excellent path to healing and recovery. In this article, we will explore the role of osteopathic treatment of hip labral tears.

Osteopathy focuses on optimising the body’s inherent healing capacity by restoring musculoskeletal balance and improving overall function. Osteopathy will address the underlying factors contributing to the labral tear and support the body’s natural healing processes. Osteopathic treatment, therefore, aims to alleviate pain, enhance mobility, and promote a return to an active and pain-free life.

 

What Causes A Hip Labral Tear?

Various factors, including traumatic injuries and repetitive movements, can cause hip labral tears. Here are some common causes and contributing factors of hip labral tears:

  • Trauma or injury: A sudden, forceful injury to the hip joint. Such as a fall or slip or a direct blow that can cause a hip labral tear. These types of injuries may occur during sporting activities such as running, skiing and rugby or from other traumatic events.
  • Hip impingement: Femoroacetabular impingement (FAI). A common condition where there is abnormal contact between the ball and socket of the hip joint. FAI can lead to increased friction and pressure on the labrum, potentially causing tears over time.
  • Repetitive movements: Activities that involve repetitive hip movements or excessive twisting. These include sports such as soccer, hockey or ballet. Occupations that require repetitive hip flexion and rotation may also increase the risk of developing a hip labral tear.
  • Structural abnormalities: Structural abnormalities of the hip joint, such as developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH), can predispose individuals to hip labral tears. These conditions may result in an unstable or improperly shaped hip joint, leading to increased stress on the labrum.
  • Hip joint degeneration: Age-related changes, wear and tear, or degenerative conditions, such as osteoarthritis, can weaken the labrum over time, making it more susceptible to tears.
  • Hip hypermobility: Excessive joint laxity or hypermobility can increase the risk of hip labral tears. Individuals with hypermobile joints may have increased mobility and instability in the hip joint, potentially leading to labral tears.

However, not all individuals with these risk factors will develop hip labral tears. Each case is unique, and the interplay of multiple factors can contribute to the development of a tear.

Hip Labral tear osteopathy

How Are Hip Labral Tears Diagnosed?

To diagnose a hip labral tear, your Osteopath will first perform a physical examination. This exam will look for signs of hip instability or impingement. Osteopaths may also order imaging tests, such as an X-ray or MRI if needed.

Can Hip Labral Tears Heal Without Surgery?

In most cases, conservative management options such as osteopathic treatment will be recommended initially to alleviate symptoms, improve hip function and encourage the tear to heal. So not all hip labral tears will require surgical treatment. However, more complex and larger tears that are not responding to conservative treatment may require surgery.

Conservative Management Options For Hip Labral Tears May Include:

  • Rest and activity modification: Avoiding activities that aggravate the hip joint and allow it to rest and heal.
  • Osteopathic Treatment: Hands-on osteopathic treatment that aims to address the underlying cause of the labral tear, improve the range of movement in the hip, and provide pain relief. A rehabilitation programme will also be provided to encourage hip stability, strengthen the supporting hip muscles, and improve the range of movement in the hip.
  • Pain management: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or other pain medications may be prescribed by your GP to manage pain and reduce inflammation associated with the labral tear.
  • Injections: In some cases, corticosteroid injections may be administered to reduce inflammation and provide temporary pain relief. Your Osteopath can refer you to a specialist for these injections.

Osteopathic Treatment Of Hip Labral Tears? What Does This involve? 

The osteopathic treatment approach for a hip labral tear may involve a combination of osteopathic hands-on treatment, exercise prescription, and patient education. Here are some ways an osteopath may treat a hip labral tear:

  • Assessment and diagnosis: An osteopath will conduct a thorough evaluation to assess your hip joint, including range of motion, muscle strength, and any associated areas of dysfunction. This helps in identifying the specific issues contributing to the labral tear and tailoring the treatment plan accordingly.
  • Manual therapy: Osteopaths use hands-on techniques to address muscle imbalances, joint restrictions, and dysfunctions in the musculoskeletal system. This may involve gentle joint mobilisations, soft tissue techniques, and myofascial release to improve hip joint mobility, reduce muscle tension, and restore optimal movement patterns.
  • Rehabilitation exercises: Osteopaths often prescribe specific exercises and stretches to target muscle imbalances, improve hip stability, and enhance range of movement. These exercises may include strengthening the muscles around the hip joint and improving core stability.
  • Postural and ergonomic advice: Osteopaths can provide guidance on optimising posture and body mechanics to reduce stress on the hip joint and prevent further injury. They may suggest modifications to daily activities, work ergonomics, and sports techniques to support the healing process.
  • Pain management: Osteopaths can utilise various techniques to help manage pain associated with the hip labral tear. This may involve gentle soft tissue massage, joint articulation and manipulation, and providing advice on other pain management strategies.
  • Collaborative care: Our osteopaths work closely with other healthcare professionals, such as sports doctors and orthopaedic specialists in Christchurch, to ensure that you will get the best care available to you.

Please note that if the above conservative measures fail to alleviate symptoms or if the tear is severe, surgical intervention may be considered. Hip arthroscopy is a common procedure used to repair or remove the torn labrum.

What Are The Best Exercises For Rehabilitating Hip Labral Tears?

Rehabilitation exercises for hip labral tears are typically focused on strengthening the muscles around the hip joint, improving stability, and restoring range of motion. Each patient’s injury will present differently, and rehabilitation exercises should be tailored to their specific needs.  Here is an example of some commonly prescribed exercises for rehabilitating hip labral tears:

  1. Gluteal strengthening exercises: clamshells and hip bridges.
  2. Core stabilisation exercises: dead bug exercise, plank variations and pilates-based exercises.
  3. Hip range of motion exercises: hip circles.
  4. Hip flexor stretches: psoas stretches.
  5. Proprioception and balance exercises: single-leg balance exercise
  6. Low-impact cardiovascular exercises: such as cycling or stationary biking: Engage in low-impact cardiovascular activities to maintain overall fitness without putting excessive stress on the hip joint.

Remember, these exercises are general recommendations and should be modified or progressed based on individual abilities and limitations.  Your Osteopath will guide you through the rehabilitation process and ensure that your exercises are performed correctly and safely.

How Long will it Take for My Hip Labral Tear To Heal Without Surgery?

The healing time for a hip labral tear without surgery can vary depending on the severity of the tear, the individual’s overall health, and the effectiveness of the conservative treatment methods employed.  Some patients may experience significant improvement within a few weeks of osteopathic treatment, while others may require several months to achieve full recovery. It’s imperative to follow the treatment plan provided by your Osteopath, who will regularly assess your progress and makes adjustments to your treatment plan as necessary.

Surgical Treatment of Hip Labral Tears

Surgery may be necessary for severe cases of hip labral tears that have not responded to conservative treatment. Surgical options include hip arthroscopy, where a surgeon will make small incisions in the hip and use a small camera to visualise the hip joint and repair any tears in the labrum. Open surgery is also an option for hip labral tears.

Hip Labral Tear Osteopathic Treatment

Conclusion

Osteopathic treatment of hip labral tears offers a non-invasive alternative to surgery that focuses on promoting healing, restoring mobility, and relieving your hip pain. By addressing underlying factors, such as joint restrictions, muscle imbalances, and postural issues, your osteopath will work towards promoting the body’s natural healing processes.

Through osteopathic treatment, rehabilitation exercises, and education, our patients can experience significant improvements in their condition. Thus allowing our patients to return to an active and fulfilling life.

If you are dealing with a hip labral tear, consider consulting one of our osteopaths, who can assess your condition. Our Osteopaths will tailor a treatment plan to your specific needs and guide you towards recovery. Osteopathic care will focus not only on the hip joint injury but also on your overall well-being. We wish you all the best on your journey to recovery!

If you’re suffering from a hip labral tear, it may be time to book with one of our experienced Osteopaths. Contact the team at Better Health Osteopathy in Christchurch today. Call 027 755 5700 or book online.

Our Osteopaths are here to help!

Breastfeeding Woes: Back Pain, Neck Pain, Headaches and Sore Thumbs

Monday, June 12th, 2023

Breastfeeding is a beautiful and essential bonding experience between a mother and her infant. It is also well documented that breastfeeding offers numerous benefits for both infants and mothers, both in the short term and long term.  However, the physical demands of breastfeeding can sometimes lead to discomfort and pain for mothers.

Back pain, neck pain, headaches, and even conditions like “mommy thumb” (De Quervain’s tenosynovitis) can arise due to poor posture, repetitive movements, and strain on the musculoskeletal system. This article will explore these conditions and their causes and provide ten helpful tips for mothers to avoid back pain while breastfeeding. Additionally, we will shed light on how an Osteopath can play a crucial role in helping breastfeeding mothers to manage and alleviate their pain.

Common Painful Conditions Associated With Breastfeeding

  1. Back Pain: Mothers may experience localised or radiating pain in the upper, mid, or lower back. This can range from a dull ache to sharp, burning sensations. There may be associated nerve symptoms in the legs and feet, which happens when you have an inflamed disc in your lower back.
  2. Neck Pain: Neck pain is very common in breastfeeding mothers. Straining the neck to support the baby’s weight during breastfeeding can result in neck stiffness, soreness, or pain.
  3. Headaches: Poor posture, muscular tension, and stress can cause tightness in the neck muscles and joints, leading to tension-type headaches or cervicogenic headaches that may be triggered or exacerbated during breastfeeding.
  4. Mommy Thumb: Mommy thumb refers to pain and inflammation in the tendons of the thumb caused by repetitive gripping and lifting motions during breastfeeding. You may also feel tightness in your wrists, forearms and shoulders.

Causes Of Breastfeeding-Related Pain

  1. Poor Posture: Maintaining an improper posture, such as slouching or hunching over while breastfeeding, can strain the muscles and joints of the back, neck, and shoulders.
  2. Repetitive Movements: The repetitive motion of lifting and holding the baby, combined with frequent breastfeeding sessions, can cause overuse injuries, musculoskeletal strain, and pain.
  3. Hormonal Changes: Hormonal fluctuations during pregnancy and breastfeeding can affect ligaments and muscles, leading to increased laxity and instability in the musculoskeletal system.

10 Tips to Avoid Back Pain While Breastfeeding

  1. Maintain Good Posture: Sit upright with your back supported and aligned. Use a supportive chair or cushion to provide comfort and prevent slouching.
  2. Use Proper Breastfeeding Positions: Experiment with different positions that promote a neutral spine and offer optimal support for your back and neck.
  3. Supportive Pillows: Utilise nursing pillows or cushions to help position your baby at breast level, reducing strain on your neck, shoulders, and back. The muscles in your spine, shoulders and forearms should be relaxed as you breastfeed.
  4. Stretch and Exercise: Perform gentle spinal stretching exercises to relieve muscle tension and improve flexibility. Strengthening exercises can also help support your posture.
  5. Take Breaks: Avoid extended periods of breastfeeding in the same position. Take short breaks to stretch, walk around, and relax your muscles.
  6. Relaxation Techniques: Incorporate relaxation techniques such as deep breathing exercises, mindfulness, or yoga to reduce muscle tension and stress.
  7. Stay Hydrated and Nourished: Proper hydration and nutrition are essential for maintaining healthy muscles and preventing muscle cramps or spasms.
  8. Supportive Clothing: Wear comfortable bras and clothing that provide proper breast support and evenly distribute the baby’s weight.
  9. Ergonomic Accessories: Consider using ergonomic breastfeeding pillows, chairs, or cushions designed to provide optimal support.
  10. Seek Professional Help: Consult with an Osteopath or healthcare professional specialising in musculoskeletal health to address any persistent or severe pain and receive personalised professional care.

How Osteopathy Can Help Breastfeeding Mothers

Osteopaths are highly trained healthcare professionals who focus on diagnosing, treating, and preventing musculoskeletal disorders. They can provide valuable assistance to breastfeeding mothers experiencing pain and discomfort. Osteopathy also utilises a drug-free approach to treatment which is exceptionally important for mothers who do not want to rely on pain medications whilst breastfeeding.

Osteopathic Treatment For Breastfeeding-Related Pain Includes:

  1. Assessment: An osteopath will conduct a thorough evaluation to identify the underlying causes of pain, taking into account your medical history, posture, and movement patterns.
  2. Hands-On Techniques: Osteopaths use gentle manual techniques to restore balance, improve joint mobility, alleviate muscle tension, and promote overall musculoskeletal health.
  3. Exercise and Rehabilitation: Osteopaths can prescribe specific exercises and stretches tailored to your needs, strengthening the supportive muscles and enhancing posture.
  4. Postural Education: Osteopaths provide guidance on maintaining correct posture during breastfeeding and everyday activities, preventing future pain and injuries.
  5. Lifestyle Advice: Osteopaths can provide practical advice on ergonomics, self-care, and stress management techniques to optimise your overall well-being.

Conclusion

Breastfeeding-related pain can significantly impact the joy and bonding experience between a mother and her baby. Osteopathy provides a holistic and effective approach to address the underlying causes of breastfeeding pain, including back pain, neck pain, mommy thumb and headaches, ensuring a more comfortable and enjoyable experience for mothers.

By addressing and resolving musculoskeletal aches and pains, Osteopathy empowers mothers to overcome breastfeeding challenges and embrace the beauty of this special bond with their babies.

If you wish to discuss any of your aches and pains around your breastfeeding experience, please feel free to contact our Osteopaths, who will gladly chat with you.

Contact the team at Better Health Osteopathy in Christchurch today. Call 027 755 5700 or Book Online.

Osteopathic Treatment Of Shoulder Bursitis

Thursday, May 4th, 2023

As Osteopaths, we have treated many patients suffering from shoulder bursitis. This common condition can be quite painful and limiting, but there are many effective treatment options available, including osteopathic care. In this article, we’ll explore the anatomy of the shoulder, the symptoms and causes of bursitis, and the different ways that osteopathy can help manage this condition.

Shoulder Anatomy

The shoulder is a complex joint that consists of several bones, including the scapula, clavicle, and humerus. These bones are held together by a network of muscles, tendons, and ligaments that help to provide stability and allow for a wide range of motion. The shoulder joint is surrounded by a fluid-filled sac called the bursa, which acts as a cushion between the bones and soft tissues. It is when this bursa becomes inflamed that you start to feel pain in your shoulder.

Shoulder Bursitis Symptoms

Shoulder bursitis is a condition that occurs when the bursa becomes inflamed and irritated. This can cause pain and discomfort, especially when lifting or moving the arm, or sleeping on it. Other common symptoms of shoulder bursitis include:

  1. Swelling and stiffness in the shoulder
  2. Difficulty moving the arm
  3. Weakness in the shoulder
  4. Aching or burning sensation in the shoulder
  5. Pain that worsens at night
  6. Difficulty sleeping when lying on the affected shoulder

Shoulder Bursitis Causes

There are several factors that can contribute to the development of shoulder bursitis, including:

  1. Repetitive overhead movements: Activities such as painting, swimming, or throwing a ball can cause the bursa to become inflamed over time.
  2. Injury: A fall or other trauma to the shoulder can cause the bursa to become inflamed.
  3. Poor posture: Slouching or hunching over can put extra strain on the shoulder joint and increase the risk of bursitis.
  4. Arthritis: Osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis can increase the risk of developing bursitis.

Osteopathic Treatment For Shoulder Bursitis

During treatment, our focus is directed towards addressing the underlying cause of your pain. Often the treatment approach we adopt will not be limited solely to the shoulder region but will involve an examination of the entire spinal column, comprising the cervical, thoracic, elbow and wrist regions. By doing so, we are better positioned to identify additional structures that may be contributing to your injury. Our treatment protocol adopts a very holistic approach. We take into account other predisposing factors that may be at play, such as postural malalignment, poor ergonomic settings at the workstation, and muscular imbalances throughout the body. By addressing these additional factors alongside osteopathic treatment, we aim to provide a comprehensive management plan that will address the root cause of your pain.

During treatment, Osteopaths use a range of manual therapy techniques to help reduce pain, increase mobility, and improve overall function. Here are some of the ways that osteopathy can help with shoulder bursitis:

  1. Soft tissue massage: This technique involves relieving muscle tension and promotes relaxation in the muscles around the shoulder.
  2. Rehabilitation exercises: Osteopaths may prescribe stretching and strengthening exercises to help improve flexibility and reduce stiffness in the shoulder joint.
  3. Joint manipulation: This technique involves releasing joints and improving overall movement in a controlled manner to help reduce pain and increase the range of movement in the shoulder.
  4. Muscle energy techniques: This technique involves contracting the affected muscles against resistance to help stretch them and improve joint mobility.
  5. Myofascial release: This technique involves releasing connective tissue surrounding the affected area to help reduce pain and improve mobility.

Corticosteroid Injections

Corticosteroid injections may be recommended as a treatment option for patients with severe shoulder bursitis, particularly if other non-surgical treatments have not been effective.

Corticosteroids are powerful anti-inflammatory medications that can help reduce inflammation and pain in the affected area. When injected directly into the shoulder joint, corticosteroids can provide targeted relief and reduce inflammation in the bursa.

It is important to note that while corticosteroid injections can be effective in relieving symptoms of shoulder bursitis, they are not a cure for the underlying condition. For some patients, corticosteroidal injections may provide very little relief.  In these cases, repeated injections may be needed to try and get some relief. Your Osteopath can make a direct referral for you to receive this treatment if needed.

How Long Will It Take For My Shoulder Bursitis To Heal?

The healing time for shoulder bursitis can vary depending on the severity of the condition and the treatment options used. In most cases, patients can expect to see improvement within a few weeks of starting treatment. However, it may take several months for the shoulder to fully heal.

Self-Help Strategies

There are several things that patients can do at home to help manage their shoulder bursitis symptoms and speed up the healing process. These include:

  1. Resting the affected shoulder as much as possible
  2. Using ice or heat therapy to reduce pain and inflammation
  3. Taking over-the-counter pain medications, such as ibuprofen or voltaron, as directed by your GP
  4. Avoiding activities that cause pain or strain in the affected shoulder
  5. Practising good posture to reduce strain on the shoulder joint
  6. Following your rehabilitation programme as prescribed by your osteopath

Contact Us

If you are suffering from shoulder bursitis, osteopathic care can help you manage your symptoms and improve your overall function. Our team of skilled osteopaths can provide a range of osteopathic techniques to help reduce pain and inflammation, improve mobility, and speed up the healing process. Contact us today to book your appointment and take the first step towards a pain-free shoulder.

If you’re suffering from shoulder bursitis, it may be time to book with one of our experienced Osteopaths. Contact the team at Better Health Osteopathy in Christchurch today. Call 027 755 5700 or book online.

The Importance Of A Good Pillow And How It Can Affect Your Sleep And Health

Tuesday, March 7th, 2023

We spend a third of our lives sleeping, and many underestimate the impact a good-quality pillow has on our quality of sleep and overall health. Our patients constantly seek our advice on choosing the right pillow as they often struggle to find one to suit their needs.

Many of our patients report restless nights, pain in their neck upon waking, shoulder pain and headaches. Some even wake up a few times at night and have to ‘fluff up’ the pillow they use! We often hear stories of our patients using numerous pillows in an attempt to get a comfortable night’s sleep.

Others purchase expensive mattresses and beds without knowing that a properly fitted pillow will add 30% to the overall comfort experienced from sleeping in their new bed. Therefore if you spend time and money on a mattress and bed, you should do the same and choose an adequately fitted pillow.

The perfect pillow can make a world of difference when it comes to getting the restful night’s sleep you deserve. Investing in a quality pillow is worth it if you want the best health benefits from your night’s sleep.

Why Investing in a Good Pillow is Worth It!

When looking for the perfect pillow to help improve sleep and overall health, it is essential to invest in one that suits your needs. Here are five reasons why a good pillow should be on your list of must-haves:

  1. Comfort: The right pillow should provide adequate comfort and support while allowing the head and neck to remain in a comfortable position as you sleep. You should be able to lay your head on the pillow and go straight to sleep without thinking about its position or firmness or having to wake up and fluff it up!
  2. Aligns the Spine: The right pillow will help to maintain the alignment of your neck in a neutral position while you sleep, but not too high or too low that it causes strain to your joints and muscles in your neck, which can cause neck pain and maybe contribute to headaches.
  3. Reduced Snoring: The wrong type of pillow can cause the neck muscles to become strained, which may contribute to snoring. The right pillow should support the natural curve of your neck while keeping the airways open, reducing snoring and improving sleep quality.
  4. Spinal Pressure Relief: The right type of pillow will help relieve tension throughout the body, as it helps distribute weight more evenly. A good pillow can also help reduce pressure on your hips, shoulders, neck, and back, resulting in better quality sleep.
  5. Improved health: if you struggle to get a good night’s sleep due to your pillow, then this will impact your quality of sleep, how well you function the following day, and your overall vitality. Therefore, the correct type of pillow is essential for maintaining general health and ensuring a good night’s sleep.

How Often Should I Change My Pillow?

It is important to change your pillow regularly to ensure it remains supportive and clean from allergens such as dust mites, fungus, mould and pet dander.

Your head can weigh approximately 5 kg, so this weight will inevitably break down the fibres in your pillow over time. A cheaper pillow made of polyester filling will break down much quicker than a high-quality memory foam pillow. You could replace a cheaper polyester pillow every six months or approximately three years with a higher-quality pillow made of better materials.

Again, It’s common for our patients to tell us that they have had the same pillow for over ten years! If this is the case, it might be time to consider replacing it.

How to Choose a Pillow For Your Sleep Patterns?

The importance of finding the right pillow cannot be overstated. And the key to selecting the perfect pillow is considering your individual needs and preferences in terms of size, shape, position of sleep, material and overall support.

People are often side sleepers, tummy sleepers, or back sleepers, and some of our patients will change position numerous times a night.

In our experience as Osteopaths, it is challenging to find the right pillow by blindly purchasing off the shelves in retail stores. Our patients often tell us about the number of pillows they have purchased and the vast amounts of money they have spent on them but have yet to find the right pillow. We also often hear stories of couples battling it out for the one good pillow they own!

So it is very important to recognise that even if you have spent a lot of money on a pillow, that does not guarantee it is right for you!

An old rule of thumb was that a slim person and female would require a thin pillow, and a stocky well-built male would need a larger and thicker pillow. This is far from correct, as evident in every pillow fitting we do in our clinic! Different physiques will always require different support from a pillow.

So we highly recommend that you get a specialist, such as one of our Osteopaths at Better Health Osteopathy, to do a pillow fitting for you so that you can find the best pillow that suits your needs.

So please don’t spend your night tossing and turning, and getting an awful night’s sleep, reach out to your Osteopath, who will gladly do a pillow fitting for you and help you find the right pillow from our wide range of stock right here in our clinic. You can book a free 10-minute pillow fitting service with one of our Osteopaths at Better Health Osteopathy by Clicking Here.

Osteopathic Treatment Of Rotator Cuff Shoulder Injuries

Sunday, March 5th, 2023

Managing a rotator cuff injury can be challenging, but with the right approach and support, it is possible to make a full recovery. Rest is key when dealing with rotator cuff injuries, so ensuring that you get plenty of rest and take time off from activities that may aggravate your injury is essential. Osteopathic treatment can also be very beneficial, as it aligns the body and reduces tension around the rotator cuff and other parts of the spine. In addition, rehabilitation exercises are important for strengthening the shoulder muscles, improving the range of motion and flexibility, and reducing pain. With the right treatment plan and dedication to rehabilitation, you can make a full recovery from your rotator cuff injury.

A large proportion of our patients at Better Health Osteopathy present with shoulder pain. Shoulder pain can result from bursitis, frozen shoulder, trauma, or a strain or tear to the shoulder’s rotator cuff muscles. The rotator cuff is an important structure of four muscles and tendons located within the shoulder joint, providing strength and stability to the shoulders. These muscles, at times, can be susceptible to injury due to overstretching or repetitive strain and load on the muscles.

When it comes to osteopathic treatment for rotator cuff injuries, osteopathic treatment can help reduce pain and facilitate healing. Osteopaths use joint manipulation, soft tissue massage, and stretching techniques to alleviate discomfort and promote healing. We also work with patients to identify any underlying issues or patterns of movement contributing to the injury. By treating the body as a whole, our Osteopaths will work to restore balance and health to the muscles, tendons, and other structures of the shoulder joint. Our Osteopaths will also advise on posture, ergonomics, activities to avoid or modify, and exercises to help strengthen the shoulder muscles.

Anatomy of The Rotator Cuff Muscles

The shoulder’s rotator cuff muscles comprise four different muscles: supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor and subscapularis. These muscles work together to form a network of tendons that provide support and stability for the shoulder joint and allow it to move in multiple directions. When these muscles are injured, it can cause pain and limit the range of motion.

Symptoms Of A Rotator Cuff injury

The symptoms of a rotator cuff injury can vary depending on the nature and severity of the injury. Common symptoms include pain when lifting or lowering your arm, difficulty raising your arm overhead, weakness in your shoulder muscles, and tenderness in the affected area. It can also be difficult to sleep on your shoulder at night time.

Causes of Rotator Cuff Injuries

Rotator cuff injuries can be caused by several factors, such as repetitive movement like throwing or lifting heavy objects, acute trauma to the area, or aging. These injuries can also be caused by conditions such as osteoarthritis or bursitis of the shoulder joint. Commonly poor technique while weight lifting in the gym can also lead to rotator cuff injuries.

Rotator cuff tears can range from a small partial tear to a large rupture and often cause pain in the shoulder or upper arm. In fact, 20-30% of adults above 60 will have at least one full-thickness rotator cuff tear, with the supraspinatus muscle being the most commonly torn.

Treatments For Rotator Cuff Injuries

The most common treatment for rotator cuff injuries is rest, followed by physical therapy, such as osteopathic treatment and rehabilitation. Other treatments, such as anti-inflammatory medications, hot/cold compresses, and corticosteroid injections, can reduce inflammation and pain. Surgery may also be necessary in some rare cases.

If you have injured your shoulder, it is always wise to get it checked by your Osteopath so that you can speed up your healing and also prevent possible progression to a frozen shoulder, which is a very complex condition that can last proximately 18 months, and is very common in middle-aged patients from 40 years old and upwards.

Osteopathic Treatment of Rotator Cuff Injuries

Osteopathy uses gentle manipulation to treat musculoskeletal issues such as rotator cuff injuries. Osteopaths use their hands to diagnose and treat the underlying causes of pain, restore mobility, reduce inflammation and improve blood flow in the affected area. This treatment can help relieve pain associated with rotator cuff injury. Rehabilitation exercises will then be prescribed to help strengthen the rotator cuff muscles in the shoulder. This is a very effective way to manage your injury and get you back to health quickly.

How Long Does It Take For A Rotator Cuff Injury To Heal?

The healing time for a rotator cuff injury will vary depending on the severity of the damage and the treatment sought. Generally speaking, minor injuries may take up to six weeks to heal, while more severe injuries can take up to three months or longer.

5 Tips for Managing Your Injury at Home6 Tips for Managing growing pains

If you suffer from a rotator cuff injury, the following five tips can help you better manage your injury.

  1. Rest: Get plenty of rest and avoid activities involving the affected area to allow the injury time to heal.
  2. Ice: Apply an ice pack to the affected area for 20 minutes daily.
  3. Compress: Wrap the shoulder in a light bandage or compression sleeve to support and reduce pain.
  4. Stretch: Gently stretch the muscles around the shoulder to help improve mobility and reduce pain.
  5. Strengthening exercises: Gradually increase your activity level with exercises that target weakened muscles and ligaments.

Rehabilitation Of Your Rotator Cuff Injury

Rehabbing your rotator cuff injury is an important step in quickly getting you back to total health. Once your Osteopath has managed to help you with your pain and improved the range of movement in your shoulder, you will begin a tailor-made rehabilitation plan focusing on strengthening the weakened muscles and ligaments in your shoulder.

When rehabbing a rotator cuff injury, it is important that you slowly and gradually increase the load on your shoulder and slowly build up the intensity of your rehabilitation exercises. This will help ensure you are not overworking your shoulder, which can cause further injury or pain.

To prevent future tears or strains, practise proper form and technique when engaging in any work activity or sport that uses the shoulders and ensure to maintain strength and flexibility within the shoulder muscles.  Your Osteopath will guide you clearly through this process.

Conclusion

Rotator cuff injuries can be painful and debilitating, but with the proper treatment and rehabilitation programme, they can be managed effectively, and you can get back to total health quickly. Rest, osteopathic treatment, and rehabilitation exercises are all effective ways of managing rotator cuff injuries. Additionally, following the five simple tips above for caring for your injury at home, can help you manage your condition more effectively.

If you are looking for an Osteopath in Christchurch, the Osteopaths at Better Health Osteopathy will happily provide you with an accurate diagnosis and exceptional care for your injury, so that you can get back to everyday activities as quickly as possible.

If you’re suffering from a shoulder injury, it may be time to book with one of our experienced Osteopaths. Contact the team at Better Health Osteopathy in Christchurch today. Call 027 755 5700 or book online.

Osteopathic Treatment of Tennis Elbow

Sunday, February 5th, 2023

As the summer kicks in, we are seeing many more patients present to our clinic with tennis elbow, which we love to treat in our clinic.

Tennis elbow, medically knowns as lateral epicondylitis, is a common painful condition that causes pain and discomfort in the forearm muscles and at the elbow joint. It is caused by repetitive strain or overuse of the arm, wrist, and hand muscles during activities such as playing tennis, gripping objects, typing or holding your baby.

If you are suffering from tennis elbow, your osteopath can provide a correct diagnosis, help relieve your elbow and forearm pain, and prescribe rehabilitation exercises to prevent it from returning in the future.

In this post, we will discuss how osteopathic treatment for tennis elbow can deliver relief from your uncomfortable symptoms.

Symptoms of Tennis Elbow

Common symptoms of tennis elbow include tenderness around the outer part of the elbow, weakness in grip strength or difficulty turning doorknobs or opening jars. In addition, you may also experience swelling, stiffness or tight muscles in the elbow. Tennis elbow can be frustrating as it can be challenging to pinpoint the exact cause of your injury.

Who Does Tennis Elbow Affect?

Tennis elbow can affect any person, not just tennis payers.  It can also affect people of all ages, but it is most common in adults between 30 and 50. Tennis elbow sufferers often have repetitive jobs that can overwork the forearm muscles and can be susceptible to this condition. Painters, carpenters, chefs, surgeons, and parents with new babies have struggled with this condition in the past.

What Causes Tennis Elbow?

Tennis elbow is caused by repeated contraction of the muscles in the forearm and elbow. This repetitive strain can cause inflammation of the tendons that attach the forearm muscles to the bony protrusions on the outside of the elbow (the epicondyles). Frequent and intensive activities such as painting, tennis playing, gardening or any other activity that involves repetitive arm movement can cause this condition.

How Is This Condition Diagnosed?

Tennis elbow can usually be diagnosed through a physical examination by your Osteopath. Your Osteopath will examine the affected area and ask about your symptoms, medical history, and daily activities to determine what is causing the condition. In some cases, your Osteopath may refer you for further imaging, such as X-rays or Ultrasound, depending on your symptoms and rate of recovery.

Tennis Elbow Treatment – How Can An Osteopath Help?

At our clinic, we use a variety of techniques to treat tennis elbow. We may recommend soft tissue massage, manipulation, and stretching techniques to help reduce muscle tension and promote healing. We will also provide a tailor-made rehabilitation programme that stretches and strengthens the affected area.

Benefits of Osteopathic Treatment

Your Osteopath will focus on more than just the elbow area. They will examine the entire spine, shoulder, elbow and forearm muscles to determine the root cause of your pain and discomfort.

Osteopathic treatment aims to:

  • Enhance fast healing of your injury
  • Reduce your reliance on pain relief medications.
  • Reduce the need for surgery
  • Reduce the recurrence rate of the condition
  • Ensure optimal outcomes and a return to everyday activities as soon as possible.

Through this approach, your osteopath can help alleviate your tennis elbow symptoms, increase joint mobility, and address other areas of dysfunction in your body that may contribute to your injury.

Why Does Tennis Elbow Pain Last So Long?

At times, tennis elbow can take many months to heal. Sufferers tend to experience ongoing pain because it is tough to rest muscles that are activated in almost every move, such as typing, cleaning your house, and lifting your baby. As such, the healing process can take time as the strained muscle tissue requires adequate rest to repair itself.

If your symptoms haven’t improved after six to 12 months of extensive rehabilitation and osteopathic treatment, a referral will be made to an orthopaedic surgeon. However, surgery is only ever required in rare cases.

6 Tips for Managing Your Tennis Elbow Pain

  1. Rest: Take a break from any activities that are causing or exacerbating your pain.
  2. Ice: Apply an ice pack or cold compress to the affected area for up to 15 minutes at a time, several times a day.
  3. Compression: Wear an elbow brace or wrap to help reduce swelling and discomfort.
  4. Stretching: Perform light stretching and strength training exercises to help increase flexibility and muscle endurance of the forearm muscles.
  5. Visit an Osteopath: Seek treatment from a qualified osteopath for a correct diagnosis and to reduce pain. An individualised plan of care tailored to your needs and lifestyle. This may involve manual therapy, postural advice, exercise prescription or lifestyle modifications.

If you’re experiencing persistent elbow and forearm discomfort, then it may be time to book in with one of our experienced Osteopaths.  Contact the team at Better Health Osteopathy in Christchurch today. Call 027 755 5700 or book online.

 

My Baby Has Colic – Can Osteopathy Help?

Tuesday, January 17th, 2023

Colic is a poorly understood condition affecting up to 30% of babies. Babies cry for an extended period of time for no apparent reason or underlying medical condition. Colic can cause significant distress for both the baby and their parents, as colic-related symptoms such as excessive crying, restlessness and abdominal pain can be very difficult to manage. Parents can feel very helpless as they find it exceptionally difficult to soothe or calm their baby.

The term colic is a bit of a misnomer, as the name suggests an intestinal origin, however, the underlying reason is unknown. Colic is, therefore, a diagnosis of exclusion, it is given when no other reason can be found as to why a baby is crying excessively. In only 5% of colic cases, is an underlying organic cause of excessive crying found.

Sometimes the pain and discomfort in your baby can be due to stresses and strains in your baby’s body, which can occur during the birthing process. Fortunately, there are a variety of very gentle osteopathic treatments that may help reduce these stresses and strains in your baby’s body.

Symptoms of Colic

Babies have been known to fuss and cry, especially during the first 12 weeks of life. The range for what’s considered ‘normal crying’ can be difficult to pin down. Medically, colic is defined as crying for three or more hours a day, three or more days a week, for three or more weeks. Unfortunately, some colic babies can be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to comfort.

Features of colic may include the following:

  • Intense crying may seem more like your baby is in pain.
  • Crying for no apparent reason; your baby has been fed and has had a nappy change
  • Predictable timing, with crying episodes, often occurring in the evening
  • Facial discolouring, where the baby can appear quite flushed or red in the face
  • Body tension, such as the baby arching its back, pulled up or stiffened legs, stiffened arms, clenched wrists, or a tense abdomen

Sometimes there can be some instant relief in symptoms after the infant passes gas or has a bowel movement. Gas is likely the result of swallowed air during prolonged crying.

What Causes Colic?

Simply put, the cause of colic is unknown. This is exceptionally frustrating for parents to hear. We know this as we deal with upset babies and their parents daily in our clinic.

There are, however, numerous contributing factors that may contribute to pain and discomfort in your baby. Symptoms of colic will vary for every baby.

Possible contributing factors that have been suggested include:

  • A digestive system that isn’t fully developed -(fourth-trimester theory)
  • Imbalance of healthy bacteria in the digestive tract.
  • Food allergies or intolerances – such as lactose intolerant
  • Overfeeding, underfeeding or infrequent burping
  • An early form of childhood migraine (Note: Mothers who suffer from migraine have been found to be 2.5 times more likely to have babies with colic than mothers without migraine.

How Long Does Colic Last?

Colic typically appears within the first month of life, peaks at about age 6 weeks, and resolves itself by age 3 to 4 months. Bouts of crying and fussiness often occur at about the same time of day or night and continue for hours for no apparent reason. A few infants cry almost incessantly.

Excessive crying may cause aerophagia ( too much-swallowed air), which results in flatulence and abdominal distention. Typically, colicky infants eat and gain weight well, although vigorous nonnutritive sucking may suggest excessive hunger. Compared with regular crying, colicky crying is more turbulent and has a higher pitch.

Are There Any Drugs That Can Help With Colic?

Colic is benign and self-limiting as most babies improve by the age of 3 to 4 months. Drug treatment generally has no place in the management of colic unless the baby is suffering from gastroesophageal reflux. Always discuss any concerns you have about your baby with your GP or pediatrician.

You should definitely see the GP if your baby:

  • seems listless or pale
  • isn’t feeding well or gaining much weight
  • has a fever
  • has persistent vomiting or diarrhoea.
  • if you feel like you will hurt your baby
  • or have any other worries or concerns – never hesitate to contact your GP.

When To Take Your Baby To The Osteopath?

If your baby is suffering, always take your baby first to the GP for a full check-up in order to rule out any serious underlying conditions such as bowel constriction, infection, neurological issues, possible reflux, allergies etc. If the GP can’t find anything wrong, then it is a good idea to see your Osteopath, who will do a full examination of your baby’s musculoskeletal system (joints, muscles, ligaments and bones).

The birthing process can be a very traumatic event for lots of babies due to prolonged births, the use of forceps and ventouse and emergency caesar sections. Babies often present to us with stresses and strains in their neck, upper back, ribs, and pelvis, which can be a very normal part of the birthing process. This can potentially cause pain and discomfort to your baby, just like what any child or adult would experience if they had a similar strain in their body.

Often we find that babies have very obvious restrictions in their necks, back or shoulders. For example, they often can’t rotate their neck in one direction and are having problems latching on to one of the breasts. Your osteopath will clearly point out any of these restrictions to you.

What Techniques Does An Osteopath Use To Treat Babies?

Osteopathic treatment for babies follows a very gentle and holistic approach that focuses on the root of the problem. Treatment aims to remove any tensions that may have occurred during pregnancy and/or delivery and to restore proper balance and alignment of the body to optimise health and well-being.

With gentle and appropriate techniques, your Osteopath will rebalance the baby’s tensions by working on the whole body (skull, spine, abdomen, pelvis, and lower and upper limbs.) It can also release the tensions around the mouth (jaw, throat, soft palate) to allow your baby to breastfeed and bottle feed better if having difficulty.

What Happens During A Consultation With An Osteopath?

At your first appointment, the Osteopath will undertake a detailed medical history, where questions will be asked about the delivery, the baby’s health, family history, and the mother’s health.

A thorough Osteopathic exanimation of the baby’s spine, joints, and muscles will be undertaken. The examination will be very gentle and aims to feel for any unusual restrictions, tightness, or stresses within the joints, muscles, and ligaments of the spine. Any findings will be discussed with the parent, and consent for treatment will always be sought from the parent in advance.

A treatment plan will be developed and tailored to the baby’s needs. The Osteopath will use exceptionally gentle manual techniques to address any dysfunction, tensions, or imbalances in your baby’s spine and body during the treatment. These hands-on techniques will improve mobility and release tension in your baby’s body and spine.

In some cases, we may feel that Osteopathic treatment is not suitable for your baby’s condition; we will then refer you back to your GP or paediatrician for further screening or treatment if needed.

What Can I Expect After The First Treatment?

Osteopathic treatment rebalances strains and stresses in your baby’s body. The majority of babies respond very well to Osteopathic treatment. You may notice they can turn their neck better, have a better latch, sleep better, cry less, or have less constipation, but that all depends on their specific condition, treatment, and individual response to treatment. Some babies can feel tired after treatment. Often it can take a couple of treatments for babies to respond fully, but most babies will start to improve after their first treatment. If you have any concerns after treatment, your Osteopath will be happy to discuss those with you.

How To Plan For Your Baby’s First Consultation?

Here are some tips to help you plan for your baby’s first osteopathic consultation.

  • Try to pick a time that will suit your baby’s routine.
  • Make sure your baby is fed beforehand.
  • Feel free to bring along your favourite toys.
  • It may be a good idea to bring their Plunket book along.
  • Also, try to bring other helpful information like x-rays, medical notes, supplements, and medication.

How Can I Help My Baby At Home – The 5 Ss Approach

Rhythmic calming techniques are effective in calming colicky babies, which forms the core of the 5 Ss approach.

1. Swaddling, safe swaddling carefully avoiding overheating, covering the head, using bulky or loose blankets, and allowing the hips to be flexed

2. Side or stomach, or holding upright (holding a baby on the back is the only safe position for sleep, but it is the worst position for calming a crying baby);

3. Shhhhhh sound (making a strong shush sound near the baby’s ear, or using a white noise machine.

4. Gently swing the baby with tiny jiggly movements (no more than 1 back and forth), always supporting the head and neck

5. Sucking (Putting your baby on the breast for comfort, on your clean finger or a pacifier)

The Benefits of Osteopathy For Relieving Growing Pains in Children

Sunday, January 15th, 2023

Children can experience aches and pains in their muscles and bones, which can affect their legs, thighs and calves, which are often called growing pains. Growing pains affect children at a young age and sometimes can be due to growth spurts. The pain and discomfort experienced is often mild, but children can sometimes report severe pain, especially at night time. The leg pain and discomfort can be so intense that it can wake children from their sleep. The good news is that children do not have to suffer, as osteopathic treatment can help!

In this article, we will discuss the benefits of seeking osteopathic care for growing pains and how to recognise them, and we will provide six tips for parents to better help manage growing pains at home.

Growing Pains in Children

What Are Growing Pains?

Growing pains are muscular aches and pains in both legs, usually in the calf, behind the knee and in the front of the thigh. Growing pains shouldn’t cause any pain in the joints and should not cause any swelling, warmth, redness, or limping. If your child experiences these symptoms, it is important to seek medical attention immediately.

Can Growing Pains Cause Significant Pain in Children?

Growing pains can come and go and be quite intermittent in nature. The pain can be quite intense at night but should be gone in the morning. Some children can become quite distressed with the intensity of pain, especially at night.

Growing pains should not impact on how your child moves and should not cause any limp in a child. They also do not cause any long-term health problems. However, parents should be aware that growing pains can sometimes affect a child’s daily activities and behaviour, as growing pain symptoms may also cause fatigue, irritability, and difficulty sleeping.

How Are Growing Pains Diagnosed?

Growing pains can be diagnosed by your Osteopath or Doctor, who will, first of all, consider anything serious that may be causing the pain. X-rays and other imaging normally are not required.

If you are concerned about the pain in your child’s legs and are not sure if this is growing pain, always reach out to your Osteopath or doctor. They will help to give you a proper diagnosis and identify the root cause of your child’s pain.

Can An Osteopath Help With Growing Pains?

The benefits of seeking osteopathic treatment for growing pains are numerous. Osteopaths will address the underlying factors that may be contributing to growing pains, such as postural dysfunction or physical restrictions in the calf and thigh muscles and joints such as the foot, ankle and hips. Through a holistic approach, Osteopaths help to improve your child’s symptoms and overall health and well-being.

Growing Pains in Children

Is Osteopathic Treatment Gentle For Children?

At Better Health Osteopathy, we use very gentle techniques to treat the pain and dysfunction that your child may be experiencing.

Our Osteopaths will create a specific treatment plan tailored specifically to the needs of each child. Techniques used may include soft tissue massage and very gentle joint mobilisation.

Our treatments not only help relieve growing pain symptoms but also uncover any underlying causes that can add to and exacerbate the condition.

At What Age Do Growing Pains Stop?

Growing pains typically stop after a child reaches the age of 12. After this age, growing pains tend to ease in most children as periods of rapid growth have slowed down, and there is much less strain on their bones and muscles. However, they can still occur in adolescence. The good news is that growing pain episodes can be managed with the help of an experienced Osteopath.

6 Tips For Managing Growing Pains in Children

  1. Encourage your child to get plenty of rest and adequate sleep.6 Tips for Managing growing pains
  2. Ask your Osteopath for gentle stretching exercises (see below) tailored to children’s needs to increase blood flow and flexibility while reducing muscle tension in their legs.
  3. If painful, massage your child’s tight leg muscles, which may give some symptomatic relief in the middle of the night.
  4. Make sure that your child has comfortable shoes which will help support the feet, ankle and leg muscles.
  5. Your child should remain active. However, physical activity may have to be reduced in a few cases.
  6. If growing pain symptoms become severe, seek professional help from your Osteopath, who can diagnose the source of pain and provide osteopathic treatments to help relieve the pain.

Recommended Stretches

  • Ask your child to lie on their tummy, then gently push and hold their heel to their low back. Get your child to lift their thigh off the floor to stretch it further. Hold the stretch for five seconds and repeat it five times.
  • Lying on their tummy, get your child to bend their leg to 90 degrees at the knee, then push the front of your child’s foot down to stretch out their calf muscles. Hold for five seconds and repeat five times.
  • Your child lies on their back, and you raise each leg up gently by the heel to stretch out the hamstrings. Hold for five seconds and repeat five times.
  • The stretching process should only take about five minutes to complete.Stretches for Growing Pains in Children

Summary

At Better Health Osteopathy, we recognise that growing pains can be a difficult time for children and their families, but with the help of an osteopath, relief is possible.  We can provide expert diagnosis and treatment plans tailored to each child, using a holistic approach to improve their growing pain symptoms and overall well-being. And you don’t have to wait for your child to “grow out of it”.

Whether your child is experiencing growing pains or is suffering from other injuries, don’t hesitate to reach out. Our team of Osteopaths are here to help your child!

Please feel free to contact our Osteopaths at Better Health Osteopathy or simply book your appointment online. Call 027 755 5700 or book online.

Are You Struggling With Mommy Thumb – De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis?

Wednesday, December 7th, 2022

Many mums experience pain in their thumbs and wrists during pregnancy and during the weeks following their child’s birth. This condition is known as ‘mommy thumb’. This is a painful condition causing inflammation of the tendons of the thumb and wrist. It is medically known as De Quervain’s tenosynovitis.

Daily tasks such as lifting your baby in and out of car seats, onto change tables, in and out of cots, and breastfeeding, can all prove quite painful when suffering from this condition.

It is most commonly the result of carrying your baby, leading to overuse of the wrist and forearm muscles. It can also result from fluid retention resulting from lactational changes during breastfeeding.  It is estimated that approximately a quarter of all mums can suffer from ‘mommy thumb’

What Are The Symptoms Of De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis?

  • Pain in the thumb.
  • Swelling at the base of the thumb.
  • Aching and burning pain sensation in thumb and wrist.
  • Difficulty moving the thumb/wrist, such as lifting the baby in and out of the car, breastfeeding or bottle-feeding, typing on a computer, doing laundry, and doing everyday chores.
  • Sometimes loss of strength in the wrist.

What Causes De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis?

Work and daily activities that involve repetitive thumb and wrist movements may contribute to de Quervain’s tenosynovitis. The tendons become irritated due to the new repeated action of lifting and caring for your young baby. It is often associated with hormonal changes within the body during breastfeeding.

How Is It Diagnosed?

De Quervain’s tenosynovitis is diagnosed clinically after a detailed medical case history and examination. Often imaging is not required.

Your Osteopath will go through your medical history and look for any risk factors contributing to your symptoms. A detailed examination of your thumb, wrist, shoulder, and spinal movements will then be conducted.

We will never just focus on your thumb and wrist because many other strains throughout your body can also add to the strain and dysfunction in your wrist and thumb. For example, if your shoulder is not functioning correctly, this will affect how your elbow, wrist, and thumb function. These joints are all interrelated, and a detailed examination must be carried out to determine the root cause of your pain.

Can Osteopathy Help With De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis?

Your Osteopath will help reduce the inflammation at the thumb and wrist using hands-on osteopathic treatment, such as gentle manipulation, articulation, and soft tissue techniques. Your Osteopath will also treat the restrictions and dysfunction elsewhere in the body that may have contributed to this overuse injury. This will not only help with the acute injury but will also help to prevent re-occurrence down the track. Your Osteopath will also devise a detailed rehabilitation program for you, focusing on stretching and strengthening exercises.

If you did not respond to osteopathic treatment and rehabilitation, we would refer you to a specialist hand consultant to consider a corticosteroid injection. Surgery may also be considered, but this is rare for most patients.

5 Tips To Manage At Home

  1. Activity Modification: The most significant modification you can make to help resolve your tenosynovitis is avoiding activities that aggravate the thumb and wrist. Prop your baby up with pillows when breastfeeding, ask for help when lifting your baby in and out of the car, hold your baby on your other side, and avoid texting with your injured thumb.
  2. Use a Splint: In severe cases where the aggravating activity is something you can’t avoid, a splint can be a great option to restrict movement until the inflammation settles down.
  3. Medication. over-the-counter pain relievers are used to reduce pain and swelling. Talk to your doctor for more advice and information on suitable medication, especially when breastfeeding.
  4. Cold Compress: Use a cold compress on the inflamed area to help reduce inflammation.
  5. Rehabilitation Exercises: Do your rehab exercises prescribed by your Osteopath.

 

How Long Will It Take For My Injury To Heal?

De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis can take anywhere from weeks to months to heal, depending on the severity of the injury and the level of self-care applied at home.

The process of healing proceeds in a relatively organised fashion. It follows 3 Phases of Healing that quite often overlap. Pain and inflammation throughout the healing process are expected as you will continue to load tissues that are still healing from their injury. For more information about the healing process – Click Here.

If you are struggling with Mommy Thumb (De Quervain’s tenosynovitis) – Our Osteopaths are here to help you!

 Please do not hesitate our osteopaths at Better Health Osteopathy in Christchurch today. Call 027 755 5700 or book online.

 

What Type of Injuries Do Osteopaths Treat?

Monday, June 6th, 2022

Our Osteopaths are Better Health Osteopathy are highly trained primary healthcare providers who are trained to treat all sorts of musculoskeletal injuries. These include back pain, neck pain, headaches, trapped nerves, sciatica, shoulder injuries, knee injuries, plantar fasciitis, and sports injuries such as pulled hamstrings, Achilles tendonitis, rotator cuff injuries, and ankle sprains, to name a few.

Our approach is to provide the highest quality of care to our patients through osteopathic treatment and help address all our patients’ underlying injuries more cohesively and under one roof!

Our patients are often amazed that we can address several injuries at one appointment. This usually avoids the need for patients to seek help from numerous different healthcare professionals for their various injuries. More importantly, our patients learn that everything in the body is anatomically connected and that an Osteopath will never look at your injury in isolation.

Suppose, for example, that you present with back pain. In that case, your Osteopath will never just examine and treat the back, as there often will be associated dysfunction in the upper back, neck, knee, and ankle. Our Osteopaths will then treat all these areas of dysfunction as there is a high chance these are all interrelated injuries and that your primary injury will not heal properly without addressing the other dysfunctional areas present in the body.

Our Osteopaths, therefore, offer a holistic approach to healthcare. By using Osteopathic treatment, we also aim to limit the need for medication and provide pain relief by addressing the true underlying cause of the pain.

At Better Health Osteopathy, we have a three-pronged approach to treatment:

  1. Pain relief
  2. Rehabilitation and restoration of function
  3. Return to play and everyday activities.

So next time you are in the clinic, please feel free to discuss any other injuries you may be struggling with, as you might be surprised at how easy we can address these for you! 😊

If you are struggling with one or numerous injuries – Our Osteopaths are here to help you!

Please do not hesitate to contact our Osteopaths at Better Health Osteopathy in Christchurch today. Call 027 755 5700 or Book Online.