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Is Chiropractic Treatment Safe during pregnancy?

YES! A properly aligned spine can help make pregnancy and delivery more comfortable.

Back pain during pregnancy has both mechanical and hormonal causes. Mechanically your centre of gravity moves forward as the baby develops which causes an increase in the curve of your low back and thus the load on the joints, ligaments and muscles of the spine and pelvis. Hormonally the body produces greater amounts of pregnancy hormones which results in a loosening of ligaments and joint capsules.

Chiropractic Treatment Safe during pregnancy

Bearsden Chiropractic in Glasgow offer a safe, gentle and drug free alternative for the relief of pregnancy-related discomforts including pelvic girdle pain, lower back pain and sciatica.

The treatment restores normal function to the body and helps relieve the joints from the added stresses at this time.

This can result in less pain for the mother-to-be and more room for the developing baby so that both mother and baby experience less physical and emotional stress.

Bearsden Chiropractic Clinic, 152 Drymen Road, Glasgow, G61 3RE, 0141-570 0090

Trapped Nerve in the Lower back / Sciatica

This condition gives rise to severe and more or less constant pain in the leg going all the way down to and affecting the foot. In most cases the pain is so strong that painkillers do not even touch it. It’s often associated with tingling or pins and needles in the foot, numbness and even weakness of the muscles below the knee.

These symptoms are not the same as coming from ‘mechanical back pain’ which by far is the most common form of lower back problem diagnosed.

‘Mechanical back pain’ usually starts in the small of the back and may spread to include the hip area and into the front or the back of the thigh. It rarely extends below the knee.

The two most common causes of trapped nerve affecting the leg, often referred to as Sciatica, are Disc Herniation and Degeneration (aka wear and tear).

Lumbar Disc Herniation:

Tends to happen to people aged between 30-50 years but fortunately is not that common.

The intervertebral disc sits in the space between the bones which make up the spine. The disc normally acts as a shock absorber. It is made of two parts. The centre, called the nucleus pulposus, which is spongy and provides most of the shock absorption and the outer strong ligament rings surrounding it, called the annulus fibrosus.

A disc herniation happens when there is a weakness or injury to the outer fibers allowing some of the spongy material to ‘run out’ causing pressure/irritation to the nerve root as it leaves the spine.

Degeneration (aka osteoarthritis)

This tends to happen to people over 60 years of age. As we get older, several changes happen to the bones and soft tissues. The disc loses its water content and may begin to collapse, causing the space between the vertebrae to narrow. This causes the space where the nerve exits the spine to become smaller which may lead to Spinal Stenosis  and Sciatica (trapped nerve).

A thorough history and examination will help in identifying the cause of the pain and the appropriate treatment for you.

Torticollis (aka Wry Neck)

Torticollis is defined as a condition whereby the head becomes fixed in an abnormal and asymmetrical position, and is often accompanied by painful muscle spasms. There are different presentations depending on age and cause.

Most commonly the condition occurs in adults and is due to a painful spasm of the SCM (sternocleidomastoid) muscle in the neck resulting in the head being held in a rotated and flexed position. This is referred to as Acquired torticollis and can be a result of injury, muscle spasms, ear infection, tumour, or use of certain drugs.

Congenital torticollis is rare and occurs within hours or weeks of birth. The infant will present with a fixed asymmetry of the head which can be a result of birth trauma, or of the baby’s head being at an awkward position during the later stages of development.

Chiropractic treatment can help alleviate the symptoms of torticollis and restore normal motion to the neck. Once any underlying sinister causes have been ruled out the chiropractor can apply gentle manipulation to the joints in the neck to encourage normal function. In addition soft tissue muscle work, stretches, and exercises can all be used to help the condition. This is true of the congenital type also, very gentle joint and muscle work can help to reduce the tension in the neck and return the head to a normal position.

Tennis Elbow

Tennis elbow is clinically known as lateral epicondylitis. It is a condition caracterized by sharp pains on the outside of the elbow and at times into the upper arm.

Someone with tennis elbow will experience significant pain when gripping a small object , turning a doorknob, opening a jar, or lifting the kettle or a shopping bag.

The pain can be bearable at first, but if tennis elbow is not treated it can progressively get worse to the point of becoming debilitating and  some patients may even find it difficult to hold objects like a pen or a cup.

Tennis elbow is most commonly caused by an over-use injury to the forearm muscles or the wrist extensors to be more precise but can occasionally also be caused by a blow to the outside of the elbow.

The repetitive use causes  inflammation at the point where the extensor muscles attach to the elbow leaving it tender to touch.

A chiropractor will always check your neck for any dysfunction as a loss of spinal movement can lead to a weakness in the arm muscles. This can at times be an underlying cause as you stand a greater risk of incurring tennis elbow if you have weak forearm muscles and then engage in some sort of activity that puts a lot of strain on your elbows.

These activities can include playing racquet sports, using a screwdriver or sitting with your wrist extended while on the computer which is why we will include a big discussion about hobbies, lifestyle etc.

The Importance of Good Posture

Posture by definition is the “position in which we hold our bodies while standing, sitting, or lying down”. Good posture is the “correct alignment of body parts supported by the right amount of muscle tension against gravity”.

Good posture is very important because it helps us keep bones and joints in correct alignment so that our muscles are used correctly, decreasing the abnormal wear and tear of joint surfaces that could result in degenerative arthritis and joint pain. Good posture also prevents muscle fatigue.

What does poor posture look like? To the naked eye, it is most obviously seen in a slumping, forward leaning posture that gives the appearance of being slightly hunched over. The opposite condition – good posture – presents the appearance of standing straight up with the chest out and the shoulders back.

To maintain proper posture, you need to have adequate muscle flexibility and strength, normal joint motion in the spine and other body regions, as well as efficient postural muscles that are balanced on both sides of the spine.

Unfortunately, in a day and age where many people spend their days sitting behind a computer, poor posture is very common.

Other causes of poor posture include: stress, obesity, pregnancy, weak postural muscles, abnormally tight muscles, and high-heeled shoes.  In addition, decreased flexibility, a poor work environment, incorrect working posture, and unhealthy sitting and standing habits can also contribute.

If you have poor posture, it may manifest itself in: abnormal gait, spinal curvature, unnatural tilting of the head and neck, misalignment of the hip joints, a differing height across both shoulders, an abnormal stance or a forward tilting of the pelvis. This is easily recognised by a chiropractor, as are the various musculoskeletal issues resulting from it.

Although the chiropractor cannot force good posture on a patient, he or she can realign the structures of the back, neck, hips and pelvis  and recommend exercises to strengthen the core muscles  or address any muscle imbalance that may exist as well as giving ergonomic advice.

Sacroiliac Joint Pain

The sacroiliac joints (SI joints) connect the spine to the pelvis and are located between the sacrum, which is the triangular shaped bone at the bottom of the spine, and the iliac bones on either side of the pelvis. The joints are held together by strong ligaments and support the entire weight of the upper body when standing erect which places large amount of stress across them.

Sacroiliac joint pain can be caused by sprain/strain injury, wear and tear of the joints, or occasionally a forms of arthritis that cause inflammation, restrictions, and pain.

Conditions that affect the normal walking patterns, such as a leg length differences, or pain in the hip, knee or foot will also place increased stress on the sacroiliac joints and can result in strains or accelerated wear and tear of the joints.

Another common cause of SI pain is pregnancy as the hormone relaxin is released to allow the ligaments to stretch during childbirth. This can cause increased movement in the joints which can cause increased stress and abnormal wear and tear. Sacroiliac joint pain during pregnancy is referred to as pelvic girdle pain (PGP).

Chiropractic treatment of sacroiliac joint pain involves manipulations and/or mobilisations of the joints to restore normal movement and function, and soft tissue work to relieve muscular tensions.

Rotator Cuff Problems

The Rotator cuffs musculature consists of four muscles: the supraspinatus, the infraspinatus, the subscapularis  and the teres minor muscle. They are very small but yet very important muscles as they work together to guide the movement of the shoulder adding to its strength and flexibility.

Rotator cuff injuries are fairly common and most patients complaint of shoulder and upper arm pain especially when trying to reach up or when lifting something.

Rotator cuff problems also tend to be very troublesome at night making sleeping a problem.

The most common tendon injured in rotator cuff injuries is the supraspinatus tendon. This is called supraspinatus tendinitis and is seen very often in the clinic.

Most issues of pain in the rotator cuff region are the result of a small tear, tendinitis or an impingement.

In all three cases, the pain may be treated with a combination of conservative treatment, stretch and strengthening exercises, ice/heat and avoiding certain activities.

Your chiropractor will check the shoulder function but will also assess the muscles balance and examine the neck and upper spine to find out how to best improve the biomechanics of the whole shoulder girdle. Often rotator cuff problems is associated with a mechanical neck problem (restricted movement) why it’s important that we check and treat more than just the painfull muscle.

Pulled Hamstring

The hamstrings play a crucial role in many daily activities, such as, walking, running, jumping, and controlling some movement in the trunk. The hamstrings cross and act upon two joints – the hip and the knee and they are influenced by the lumbar spine.

One of the most common injuries among athletes is a pulled hamstring. We see a lot of runners and footballers with this kind of injury.

To understand this injury, it is important to first understand the structures that make up this portion of the leg.

The hamstring itself is not actually a single structure. It is a group of four muscles that provide support between the pelvis and the knee. Three of the four muscles actually cross the knee joint and are connected to the tibia (lower leg) by a series of tendons; the fourth muscle connects at the knee joint. If you stand straight and bend forward to touch your toes, you will feel all four hamstring muscles being stretched (mentioned here to make you aware of where the muscles are, NOT a good way to stretch hamstrings or lower back!!)

As far as the injuries are concerned, there are two types of pulled hamstrings. The most common involves the muscles in the back of the leg. The injury is caused by a sudden shock presented by jumping, kicking, or accelerated running. Those suffering from this injury will note pain in the back of the thigh along with swelling and, in some cases, bruising.

The second pulled hamstring injury involves the area where the muscle group meets the pelvis. This is the less common of the two, and manifests itself with pain in the buttocks and the back of the upper leg. The pain increases every time the foot comes in contact with the ground or it may be uncomfortable to sit for a long period of time.

Both types of pulled hamstrings can be treated by a chiropractor through deep tissue massage techniques, stretching and adjustments to the lumbar spine to increase mobility of the lower back. It is worth mentioning here that a chronic lower back problem can cause tightness in the hamstrings. This increases the risk of sustaining a sprain/strain injury to the hamstrings (pulled hamstring).

Poor Posture

Poor posture is often the result of an individual’s daily activities and patterns of muscular dysfunction. Some muscles become tight or shortened while others lengthen and become weakened. Many factors contribute to  bad posture, including work, lifestyle and stress levels.

Having poor posture can also contribute to a number of problems as it affects the physiological functioning of the human body. Changes in posture can result in neck and back pain and headaches.

Changes in posture can present as rounding of the shoulders which may also be elevated, and a forward carriage of the head. This results in extra stress on the joints of the spine and the surrounding muscles and soft tissues. The shoulder joints lose stability which alters normal movement patterns of the arms.

Another common pattern seen is a forward tilting of the hips which increases the normal curve of the lower back and causes the stomach to stick out. As a result there is increased stress on the spinal joints of the lower back and pelvis.

Other common findings include unnatural tilting of the head, one shoulder or hip being slightly higher than the other, abnormal changes in gait, or feet that turn in or out.

Those who spend a lot of time sitting, such as drivers or office workers are at risk of developing poor posture. More recently there has also been an increase in children and adolescents with posture related back pain as a result of carrying heavy school bags (often incorrectly) and spending hours slumped in front of the television or gaming.

Poor posture is easily recognised by a chiropractor, as are the various musculoskeletal issues resulting from it.

Chiropractors use specific joint manipulations and mobilisations, and soft tissue therapies to address any muscular tension or weakness that has resulted from postural abnormalities. Although the chiropractor cannot force good posture on a patient, he or she can realign the structures of the back, neck, hips and pelvis, recommend exercises to strengthen the core muscles or address any muscle imbalance that may exist as well as giving ergonomic advice.

Pelvic Girdle Pain

Pelvic girdle pain (PGP) often occurs during pregnancy and is usually the result of instability or restrictions in any of the three pelvic joints (two sacroiliac joints and the pubic symphysis).

During pregnancy the body releases a hormone called relaxin which allows the ligaments to stretch to accommodate the growing baby and allow passage through the pelvis during labour. As a result of this the pelvic joints can become misaligned and restricted more easily, resulting in muscle spasm, inflammation and pain.  Increasing weight and the postural changes that occur also put more stress on the joints. This can cause them to become strained.

PGP can occur any time during pregnancy, even as early as the first trimester. Pain may be experienced low down over the pubic symphysis (the joint at the front of the pelvis) which might also be tender to the touch. It can also be experienced over the lower back, the hips, groin or lower abdomen. Occasionally pain radiates down the inner thighs or the back of the legs, one or both of the buttocks, there can be pain when moving the legs apart, or difficulty transferring weight through the pelvis and legs.

Chiropractic treatment is often very effective for PGP as it is safe, gentle, and most importantly drug free. Treatment involves mobilisations of the pelvic joints which can help to restore normal balance to joints that are being put under more stress than normal, and soft tissue work to relieve tension in the muscles.

Restoring balance and normal movement of the pelvic joints can make foer a much more comfortable and active pregnancy and some research has shown that chiropractic treatment during pregnancy in some cases can help reduce labour times.

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