Chiropractic and Physiotherapy

I frequently get asked what the difference is between Chiropractic and Physiotherapy. With that in mind and having looked over the finer details of what my counterparts do with a magnifying lamp over the course of several evenings, I thought a quick post that outlines what a physio actually does might be in order. Here goes...

The individual that helps persons that are faced with physical challenges that results from ageing, disability, injury or illness is known as a physiotherapist. The physiotherapy process includes them working with the patient to zone in on the cause of the problem and to implement treatments to improve function and mobility. The physiotherapist helps to improve the patients body systems. These include the musculoskeletal, respiratory, cardiovascular and neuromuscular systems. After a diagnosis is done. A treatment program is then put together which may include the use of ultrasound and other technological equipment, therapeutics exercise, manual therapy and movement. The patient will also receive advice on how to avoid future injury.

The physiotherapist can be found in a number of settings. These include sports clubs, health centers, hospitals and private practices. The field of physiotherapy can be broken down into five main categories, pediatric, pulmonary and cardiovascular, orthopedic, neurological and geriatric. Pediatric physiotherapy involves the detection and treatment of neurological, developmental and muscular problems in children ranging in age from infant to adolescent. These treatments are typically outpatient treatments.

Pulmonary and cardiovascular therapy involve the diagnoses and treatment of persons who have chronic problems with the lungs or heart and who are recovering from cardiac surgery or cardiac arrest. These treatments tend to be carried out in a clinical or hospital setting. Orthopedic physiotherapy involves the treatment of musculoskeletal conditions and injuries such as those brought on by arthritis, sports injuries, surgical recovery or muscle strain. Depending on the severity of the injury the treatment can either be conducted in a clinical setting or an outpatient setting. Neurological physiotherapy focuses on treating persons with brain injuries and other disorders linked to the nervous system and the brain. These include stroke, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, cerebral palsy and ALS.Geriatric physiotherapy refers to the treatment of diseases and conditions that manifest as a result of the aging process. These include Alzheimer's disease, cancer, hip and joint replacement and other balance disorders and cancer. Depending on the severity of the condition, the treatment can be done in a hospital, clinical or outpatient setting. The treatments offered by physiotherapist are done on an individual basis.

Various Treatments Physiotherapists Use

Soft Tissue Mobilization

This involves the use of therapeutic massage to help reduce swelling, relieve pain and relax tight muscles. This treatment is ideal for acute injuries helping to reduce swelling and relieve pain. Ice massage and ice pack application are some of the tools used independently or after a deep kneading massage.

Strengthening Exercises

Muscles can become weak for numerous reasons. Strengthening exercises help the patient to recuperate and get back to the highest possible function. This treatment helps to improve the flow of blood in the body, particularly at the injured area which accelerates the healing process. It also helps to alleviate pain and soften tight tissues. The various tools used in heat therapy include diathermy ( electrically induced heat), infrared heat, ultrasound, paraffin wax bath and hot packs.

ROM (Range of Motion) Exercises

This form of physiotherapy is oftentimes used to reduce stiffness and improve and maintain joint flexibility. Some of the ROM exercise isles that physiotherapists can use include AROM (active range of motion) exercises, AAROM (active assist ice range of motion) exercises and PROM (passive range of motion) exercises

Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS)

This involves the use of a small electrical device that provides temporary pain relief. Electrodes are placed on the affected area and low electrical impulses are used to stimulate the nerves.

Electrical Stimulation

This treatment is particularly beneficial for paralyzed patients. It helps to prevent muscle atrophy and improves muscle strength.

Most importantly the physiotherapist provides the patient and family members with information on the respective conditions. They help persons to learn what the condition really is, how to treat it at home and prevent a recurrence of injury. Other treatments that physiotherapists use include but are not limited to bandaging, joint mobilization, balance exercises, postural training, fitting of orthotics and traction. The treatments that physiotherapists offer are used in conjunction with other medical treatments to speed up the recovery process and help with the detection of any other problems that may prevent recovery.

Hopefully that gives a good run down of what a physio does. If you have any questions on this, you can always drop me a line and ask!

How Osteopaths Treat Whiplash

Whiplash is not something that I have personally experienced, nor do I ever wish to. It is something, however that osteopaths are often required to treat. Whiplash is most commonly caused in car accidents (if you're involved in one and it's not your fault, whiplash claims are often a good way of getting some financial assistance to help with post-trauma stresses). Let's take a look at this nasty side-effect of man's new-found ability to travel in four wheels.

Understanding Whiplash Injuries

Physics 101-inertia. The car is moving and is suddenly stopped by a crash or simply slamming of the brakes. The seatbelt holds your body back, but there's nothing stopping your head from continuing with its journey. It's thrown forward. Since your head can't leave your body behind, it's pulled back by the neck. It basically recoils. That's a whiplash. Depending on the force, your head and neck can go for another swing.

How Whiplash Affects your Body

The most witnessed result is stretching and tearing of muscles at the back of the neck. Consequently, common effects include neck pain and headaches, and even jaw pains. The whiplash injury goes further to affect the whole of your body. You may find yourself getting pains in your lower back. This may be due to compression of the sacrum or coccyx (the lower parts of your spine) into your pelvis. This makes the spine to become rigid and immobile.

Visual disturbances, dizziness and pain in arms may also occur. You should urgently speak to your doctor if you have these. The seatbelt restraint may tighten and compress your ribcage, and you may experience, shoulder pain, heartburn, indigestion, gallbladder problems and chest pains. In more serious scenarios, the vertebrae may be fractured, or the discs and ligaments may get torn. With hyperextension of the neck during the back-and-forth swinging, you may even tear your oesophagus or trachea. Whiplash injuries are THAT serious. The pain may end between minutes and hours, or may persist for months to years. If you have suffered a whiplash, you osteopathic approaches will aid your recovery.

Treating Whiplash Injuries

Osteopaths basically believe that the body is a functional unit, self regulating and can therefore adapt to injuries and heal itself. Why is this true? Simple-because osteopathic remedies have been proved to work. More so, they are all natural and free of side effects. So, here's the osteopathic way of treating your whiplash injury.

Gentle neck stretching. This is achieved by pulling the head from one side to the other in a slow movement. It caters for muscle spasms and alleviates muscular tension in the neck. Slow rolling of the neck in a semi-circular movement from one side, down, and then proceed to the other side. If there is inflammation, a small bag of ice will do the trick and reduce it.

Be sure to exercise your neck and keep it active. At first the pain may be bad, but it will ease off. Do not let your neck stiffen up. Gradually increase the range of your neck movements. If you try out these remedies and your symptoms get worse, or if they persist for weeks, seek medical treatment.

Early whiplash treatment will resolve your symptoms quickly and enable you to get back to your normal life as soon as possible.

A Guide To Cervical Spine Pain

Neck pain usually develops as a result of the strains and stresses of everyday life. Ultimately, the bones that of the cervical spine start to wear out. The cervical spine is composed of seven vertebrae, C1- C7. The topmost vertebra (C1) and the second cervical vertebrae (C2) form the joint that connects the bottom of the skull and the spine. The C7 vertebra connects the cervical spine to the thoracic spine.

The nerve supply of the arms passes between the bones of the cervical spine. The cervical vertebrae are separated by intervertebral discs that act as cushions during body movement. A good analogy of an intervertebral disc is a bag of toothpaste that’s surrounded by tough elastic structures.

Neck Pain and the Cervical Spine

Between each pair of vertebrae, there are two facet joints, one on each side of the spine, the facet joint helps in guiding the neck movements. Neck pain has many causes that vary from minor strains to more serious medical conditions such as a spinal infection, whiplash or in rare cases cancer.

Cervical Spondylosis

Most problems of the neck occur after many years of tear and wear of the various parts of the cervical spine. These small injuries are painless, in the beginning, but they ultimately end up causing neck pain.

Most people will get spondylosis as a result of the natural aging process, but this is often painless. It’s only after we have further damaged the cervical spine soft tissues such as discs or ligaments that we interfere with this natural process.

Some changes occur within the cervical discs during the normal aging process. Over time, the nucleus that’s located at the center of the disc dries up and the annulus (the outer part of the disc) weakens and develops small tears and cracks. The body then tries to heal these tears and cracks by using scar tissue which isn’t as strong as the tissue that it replaces and another downside of this scar tissue is that it can be strained easily.

The nucleus may push through the torn and weakened annulus and go into the spinal canal. It may then press the spinal cord or the nerves of the arms and end up causing neck pain. This medical condition is called a slipped or herniated disc. Later on as degeneration progresses, protrusions of bones may develop around the joints. The bone protrusions may cause problems by pressing against the spinal nerves. This pressure on the spinal nerves causes weakness, pain and numbness, in the hands and arms.

Muscle Spasms

Unless you have ever suffered a serious neck injury, your neck muscles have most likely not been injured or pulled. In most cases the problem of muscle spasms in the neck region usually occurs as result of injury or irritation of other soft tissues, such as the ligaments or disc. The muscles of the neck may go into a spasm to help protect and support the injured area.

Trapped Nerves

When one has a "Trapped Nerve" in the neck region, the pain usually radiates into the fingers and arms. It’s usual that certain fingers may hurt or have “needles and pins " sensations. The area of the body where the pain is felt, will correspond to a specific nerve path and this will assist your Osteopath to find quickly the area of your neck where the nerve is being irritated.

Many conditions can cause the trapping of nerves, but it usually occurs as a result of tear and wear (spondylosis), a herniated or slipped or disc or unstable bones of the neck due to overstretching of the ligaments or malformation.

Cervical Spinal Stenosis

This is a medical condition where the spinal cord is compressed in the spinal canal. It can be caused by degenerative changes, such as vertebral ligaments stiffening and pushing against the spinal cord, bone protrusions exerting pressure on the spinal cord, a herniated disc that exerts pressure on the spinal cord or congenital malformation of the bones of the neck.

Diagnosis And Treatment

Your Osteopath will look at the history of your problem and then carefully examine you, noting the quality and range of your movement. He or she will then perform some tests for trapped nerves and may in some rare cases request for a MRI scan or X ray. When your Osteopath has made the diagnosis, he/she will discuss with you the various treatment options that you may use. If you are suffering from serious neck pain as a result of a neck injury your Osteopath can help you to reduce your symptoms to a pain free level and advice you on the exercises that you can perform to reduce or eliminate your neck pain and how you can avoid future problems.

What is Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is a term that most people may have heard but is still very little is known about it. This is more so the case because not many people who get the condition know it simply because it does not get to the dire stage. Regardless, it is worth shedding some light on this condition and what it is as well as what factors could lead to its cause. Later on, you may also get information about the possible treatment for the same condition.

Osteoporosis is a condition in which the bones of the skeleton start losing their minerals and consequently their density. The result of this is that the bones become highly susceptible to fractures as well as pressure. It affects all areas of the spine, but mainly the thoracic, lumbar and cervical regions. Most of the people that are likely to this complication are those that are over the age of 65 years. However, most of the people that are affected by this condition are women who represent 80% of the patients with Osteoporosis.

While fractures are very common, it is important that one is able to get the fracture attended to as a person with say a hip fracture has the possibility of dying from it.

What are the causes?

There are a variety of factors that have been found to lead to osteoporosis. Among them is ageing which is the primary factor and others that include use of steroids, smoking and also for those that have a history of fractures that could be another risk factor not to mention low body mass as well as lack of exercise. The only problem is that there no symptoms as to which one may use to tell if they suffer from the condition. The only symptom is when one develops a fracture and the attention is raised. Then they can be able to be diagnosed and get treatment.


One of the most helpful treatments that one can be able to get for Osteoporosis is Osteopathy. This is a form of treatment that is non-invasive and seeks to remove all the impurities and impediments that may be hindering the entire musculo-skeletal system from functioning holistically as it should.

In this method, the muscles, skeleton and joints are stretched and manipulated to ensure optimum performance. Through the study of how different body parts are able to relate to each other, an osteopath is able to formulate ways to open up the path ways and ensure that the entire skeleton and the rest of the body are functioning in unison. This improves mobility and also reduces the risk of fracturing. This treatment is also ideal for those that have had a fracture in the rehabilitation process to make sure that they are able to get the most of the mobility once the fracture has fully recovered.

Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment

Osteopathic manipulative treatment refers to a hands-on care that incorporates the use of hands in the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of injury or illness. Your osteopathic physician employs various techniques in moving joints and muscles with an aim of relieving a patient’s pain. These techniques include:

Counterstrain: This technique is directed at discrete areas that have tender tissue (tender points). If your physician adopts this technique you will be positioned away from a barrier of motion that is restrictive. The physician will then monitors the tender point while holding you in a position of ease for about 90 seconds. This resolves any somatic dysfunction of your strained muscle up to 70 percent.

Muscle energy: This is a direct and active technique that applies pressure at any part of your body that has some restriction in motion. You will be required to move from an accurately controlled position in a voluntary manner while the physician engages the restrictive barrier. This method is contraindicated in patients with recent surgery, unstable joints, low vitality, and fractures.

Cranial-sacral: It helps normalize nerve function, correct cranial articular strains, and release membranous tension among other. It is contraindicated with patients that lack biomechanical dysfunction and those with recent trauma

Myofascial release: It focuses on fascia and surrounding muscles. It is contraindicated for patients with recent surgery, open wounds, and other internal injuries.

High velocity-low amplitude (HVLA): This is an active and direct method where a physician engages the pathological barrier of any of your joint that may be restricted in a normal plane movement. It helps re-establish normal range of your motion. It is contraindicated in patients with bony metastasis, vertebrobasilar, and severe osteopenia.

Usage of OMT in Osteopathy to treat patients

When you visit your osteopath, you will be required to sit or lie down on a table while a physician gently applies an accurate amount of pressure in a particular direction. The physician may decide to apply the required pressure at some distance away or directly in the affected areas. This helps relax your tissue as well as engage them at the limit where they function properly.

This, in turn, promotes the movement of bodily fluids, help restore tissue and muscle balance, relieve joint restriction and misalignment, as well as help in the treatment of some abnormalities in your tissues. You may be required to go for treatment for a week for approximately two to four weeks; however, your physician may sometimes require you to go for the treatment thrice per week. Again, you are required to go for follow-up treatments that are more frequent than once or twice per week for a specific period of time that your physician recommend.

The Spine Defined Part 3 - The Thoracic Vertebrae

The thoracic vertebrae, in vertebrates, are the mid segments of the vertebral column and are situated between the lumbar vertebrae and the cervical vertebrae. In a human being, the thoracic vertebrae are 12 in number and their size is intermediate between the lumbar vertebrae and the cervical vertebrae. The size increases from the cervical vertebrae towards the lumbar vertebrae. They are mainly distinguished by the facets on their sides which are for articulation with the rib heads and with the tubercles of the ribs apart from the 11th and twelfth vertebrae.

Characteristics of The Thoracic Vertebrae

Thoracic vertebrae have characteristics which distinguishes them from other vertebrae in the body. The bodies that are in the mid section of the thoracic region have a heart shape and broad in the transverse and antero-posterior direction. At the ends the bodies resemble those of the lumbar and the cervical vertebrae. The bodies are somewhat thicker behind than they are in the front, flat below and above and in front they have a convex appearance from side-to-side with a behind that is deeply concave. The bodies have pedicles which are directed towards the back but slightly facing upwards. The inferior vertebrae notches have a larger size and are deeper than any on the bodies in the vertebrae column.

The laminae are quite broad, imbricated, which means that they overlap those of the adjacent bodies like how roofing tiles do. They connect with the surrounding pediciles for purposes of protecting the delicate spinal cord.

The part referred to as the intervertebral foramen is smaller and circular in shape with two of them at each of the intervertebral level one for the right and the other for the left for exiting nerves. The vertebral foramen which is the hollow part at the center of the vertebral body is also known as the spinal canal and creates a path and protects the spinal cord at the thoracic region.

There are 12 thoracic vertebrae with the first thoracic vertebrae being closest to the skull and the twelfth being adjacent to the lumbar vertebrae and somehow resembles the bodies in this region. Each of the vertebrae bodies has its own characteristics which allow the functioning of the spinal cord and allows nerves to exit into the body. In addition to protecting and providing a path for the spinal cord, the thoracic vertebrae also function as support structure for the ribs and provide flexibility for the body

The Spine Defined Part 2 - The Cervical Vertebrae

The cervical vertebrae are the vertebrae that come immediately below the skull. In human beings, the cervical vertebrae can also be distinguished from others by the presence of a foramen. The foramen is a hole through which the vertebral artery passes. Apart from their location, their size can also be used to identify the cervical vertebrae since they are the smallest of all vertebrae. The cervical vertebrae are made up of seven bony rings. They are named C1 to C7. C1 is the one closest to the skull followed by the rest and lastly C7 that is the farthest from the skull.

C1 is named atlas since it is perceived to be supporting the weight of the head and C2 is named axis as it gives the axis which allows the atlas to rotate when the head is moved. Each bone among the cervical vertebrae has a bony ring that is very thin. This ring is also known as the vertebral arch which covers the foramina. Apart from the vertebral artery, the foramen gives provision for the spinal cord and all its meninges to pass. Adjoining the foramen on both sides is the transverse foramina. Its job is to surround and protect the veins and arteries which carry blood to and from the brain.

From the vertebral arch there are several extensions like the spinous process and the transverse process. The spinous process connects the muscles of the neck and it extends from the subsequent end of the vertebrae. On the sides, is the transverse process that gives room for the erector spinae muscles that are used in flexing and extending the neck.

Anterior to the vertebral foramen is a thick region that is known as the body. Apart from the atlas, the other cervical vertebrae’s entire area is made of the body. It supports all the weight of the vertebrae and provides strength to the vertebrae.

Atlas and Axis

These are the cervical vertebrae that come immediately below the skull. They are the top most vertebrae. The atlas is the first one from the skull and is the main joint between the skull and the spine. It is perceived to have been fused with the axis’s body. The axis provides the supporting platform for the atlas for rotation. This bone also possesses a distinctive feature since it has a strong odontoid process that is perpendicularly raised from the upper body surface. In the front part, the body is deeper and the bone is protracted downward anteriorly.

Vertebra Prominens

It is also known as C7 and is the last of the cervical vertebrae. The spinous process of this bone is quite prolonged which makes this vertebra tangible and visible from the surface of the skin.

C3 to C6

Their bodies are wider on the sides and not the front or back region. In these vertebrae, the foramen is usually triangular and very large. They have narrow laminae and their spinous process is bifid and short. Although they are small, the cervical vertebrae perform some of the most crucial functions in the body. They support the head and neck thus giving support to the brain, one of the most important parts of the body.

The Spine Defined Part 1 - The Lumbar Vertebrae

The human body is an amazing work of machinery. Each organ is a well defined component that more often than not, the human can never replace. A large example would be your spinal chord, particularly the lumbar region. Now the spinal chord is the part of the body that relays all the neural messages from the brain to the rest of the body and vice versa. In particular the lumbar region is responsible for the lower half of the body. It is composed of 5 vertebrae that carry all of the upper body's weight(That's why when you lift heavy weights overhead you can damage your lower back).

The lumbar are by far the largest bones of the spinal column and are largely responsible for your balance, flexibility, and extension of your lower back. Muscle stabilization is of up most importance for these vertebrae. These vertebrae form together through disks made out of fibrous cartilage with soft center filled with what resembles jelly. This ensures that the bones do not directly clash against one another and cause friction, while at the same time protecting the nerves in the spinal chord from harm. The jelly acting like a cushion to the nerves inside. The jelly also acts as a shock absorber to the weight and pressure of the upper body.

Because of their large role, the lumbar are the largest and heaviest vertebrae in the spine second only to the sacrum. The vertebral body makes up most of the Lumbar's mass bearing all the body weight. The lumbar differ from the other vertebrae in several ways.

Differences from other Vertebrae

  • The lumbar are much large than the cervical vertebrae, because the cervical vertebrae need only support the body's head
  • The lumbar are much more flexible than the thoracic vertebrae which are incredibly rigid. The reason being the thoracic needs to provide a framework.
  • The lumbar is more vulnerable than the thoracic and cervical vertebrae, due to its role. Chronic back pain can lead to some serious health effects.
  • The lumbar are cylindrical and they have the shape of a kidney while the thoracic have the shape of a heart.

  • Isn't that amazing? The lumbar vertebrae are truly your body's greatest supporters. They support your entire weight and provide flexibility and balance at the same time! If you were to take them away humans wouldn't even be able to stand up right! So everytime you get up to stand you better thank your lumbar!

    Osteopathy - An Introduction

    Osteopathy is a word that has been borrowed from the Greek language which means disease of the bone. Osteopathy entails moving, stretching and massaging of the muscles and joints. It is considered as an alternative and complementary medicines to those that are suffering from bone disease especially back pains. In order for you to be regarded as healthy your bones, ligaments, tissues and muscles should be properly function as these are the parts in your body that ensure your smooth movement. Those professionals that treat osteopathy are known as osteopaths who have in depth knowledge in musculoskeletal system. Osteopathy is known to be very effective in treating lower back pain as well as issues in the region of the neck and shoulders. If you have been constantly receiving persistent lower back pain and you have tried all kinds of medication with no improvement then osteopathy could well be the remedy to your condition.

    What it can be used for?

    Osteopathy can be used to treat several pains resulting from injuries caused by things like accidents etc. osteopathy treats the whole body as one injury can cause major complications. For example if you have a knee injury, the injury might affect your other body parts such as the foot, hip or back. This is what osteopathy tries to address that is treating of the whole body musculoskeletal system. Here are some of the uses of osteopathy.

    Osteopathy is used in the treatment of:
    • Aches and pains
    • Arthritic pain
    • Neck pain
    • Shoulder and elbow pain
    • Joint pains
    • Lower back pain
    Osteopathy in simple terms can be used in the treatment of all forms of pains affecting your muscles, tissues and bones.

    How it can benefit patients with back problems?

    From research by the National Institute for Health Care and Excellence (NICE) it’s been proved that osteopathy is the most effective treatment for persistent lower back pain. Osteopathic is the mode of treatment of back pain that has no side effects as compared to the other forms of treatment. This is so because osteopathy uses natural methods and therapies in treatment. Osteopathy also helps in reducing back pain especially for those who experience severe back pain. The therapies in osteopathy also go a long way in ensuring complete body fitness as it focuses on the entire muscle skeleton system.