Monday, 14 June 2010

Pain in the Neck

Many people suffer with chronic upper body pain, either as constant headaches, or painful and stiff neck and shoulders. In a mild form these conditions can mean interrupted sleep and irritability, but in extremes can have a really debilitating affect on everyday life.

Often the only course of action is to take strong painkillers; this is because for many people their condition doesn’t respond to the usual therapies of massage, osteopathy or chiropractic.

Doctors understand the pain cycle, and sometimes administer drugs in an attempt to break it, but for many people the only way they can cope with life is strong painkillers. Not only does this affliction cost them the enjoyment of happy daily life, it puts a strain on relationships, the long term painkillers cause side-effects and the condition causing the pain sets in really deep. Long term, depression often becomes an issue.

The head is very heavy – in a woman it weighs about 4.5 Kg, in a man up to 5Kg, so the “tube” that holds it up – your neck - needs to have a strong straight structure if it is to operate without problems. To make matters more precarious this tube also contains some massive nerve and blood supply, the uninterrupted flow of which are vital to good health. Then we add in the big joint of the jaw (temporomandibular joints or TMJ’s) – and things get really complicated because this is where much stress is held. There is a growing body of medical professionals who now believe that the alignment of the jaw (tmj’s) has a big impact on the rest of the body via the unwelcome pressure on the Vagus nerve.

Many women have a weak upper body so when something causes the neck to lose its integrity – perhaps a fall, a difficult pregnancy, strenuous lifting, carrying heavy bags etc, the structure doesn’t always move back into its correct position. The body is very good at accommodating issues, so the result is that the big muscles like the sternocleomastiod, trapezius and others adjust under constant strain, the cervical vertebrae shift under this influence, and before you know it the whole area is operating badly, building up calcification and putting more pressure on nerve and blood vessels.

The result is pain; it can build up inside the head, at the TMJ and/or temples, on the occipital area of muscles at the base of the skull, or in the neck structure, or in all of them! Almost without fail the shoulders and upper back are also very uncomfortable, with deep muscles like the rhomboid holding hard-to-reach knots.

Fortunately modern medical technology is making progress:

Cold Laser Therapy is a gentle but highly effective treatment for this condition. It is a pain free, non invasive light which alleviates the pain and softens the neck and shoulder tissues; this breaks the pain cycle and generates serotonin, resulting in great relief for the patient. Cold Laser is used as a medical therapy (sometimes referred to as photomedicine, or biophotomodulation) in a tiny power dosage, as little as 5 milliwatts – not enough to light up a Christmas tree bulb. However the body welcomes this light, utilising the photon energy and taking the light as a signal to the brain to start making repairs and changes. It is a gentle treatment which leaves patients relaxed in a way they haven’t achieved for a long time.

Some people who come for therapy have had chronic headaches for up to 10 years – yes that’s every day for 10 years! They have usually tried just about everything, both allopathic medicines from their doctors and all the alternatives they can find. Luckily we find that this pattern can be broken with promising results in the first few days, after the fourth session real progress is clear and by six sessions we usually have a great result. No side-effects, no drugs, no pain.

Results from the recent Lancet review of Low level laser Therapy for chronic neck pain.
The Lancet report declares that neck pain is approaching epidemic proportions with 10 - 24% of the population affected. Health economic reports from USA and European Union state that musculoskeletal injury and disease costs €240 Billion / €194 Billion annually. The paper also reports that pharmacological therapies for neck pain are widely used but have "not shown any conclusive evidence of benefit" The BMJ agrees "There isn't any specific research that shows drugs help neck pain". There is now more evidence for the use of laser for neck pain than any other medical procedure. The Lancet report says "(Relief using) Laser for neck pain lasted for up to 22 weeks.Trials of LLLT for knee osteoarthritis tendinopathies and low back pain reported similar results". "This contrasts with drug therapies where the effect ends rapidly when treatment is discontinued."
Find out more:

The Lancet, Vol 374; December 2009
Efficacy of low-level laser therapy in the management of neck pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised placebo or active-treatment controlled trials
Dr Roberta T Chow MBBS, Prof Mark I Johnson PhD, Prof Rodrigo AB Lopes-Martins PhD, Prof Jan M Bjordal PT

Chronic Knee pain

Here’s a case study from Dr Tom Scott a Chiropractor from Prestatyn, North Wales.

A patient presented to my clinic with chronic low back pain. On examining the case history it was noted that he had chronic knee pain which had been sore and swollen for over five years.

At the time Mr N presented to this clinic I had only just ordered my Laser. A course of chiropractic adjustments was begun and as this condition began to resolve I was very keen to try my new Laser and recommended an experimental course of laser therapy for the chronic knee condition. (I was still very sceptical as in the past the hype had always exceeded reality). On examination the knee was swollen and was 40% larger than the other knee. Pain and tenderness was noted on palpation of the patella and medial joint especially around the medial insertion of the quadriceps. The patient was unable to walk more 150 yards before pain forced him to stop. His condition to this time had been managed with constant intake of painkillers.

From years of working with applied kinesiology, I tested the quadriceps and found them to be significantly weak on the side of the knee involvement. It had been my experience that the quadriceps were often involved with knee joint damage. I began the protocols to strengthen this muscle with digital stimulation of the golgi tendon organs in the origin and insertion of the Quads. This was vey painful as it often is and the procedure was not very pleasant for the patient. Retesting the muscle showed improvement in muscle strength. This was followed by a basic application of LILT to the knee joint including the popliteal fossa to stimulate lymphatic drainage.

On return two days later the patient told me that it was a little better of a couple of hours then back to prior state and Quads tested week again. The golgi tendon organs where very tender still from prior treatment and further stimulation was not practical to to pain experienced by patient.

As I was reading every book I could get my hands on about laser therapy I reasoned that LILT should have a bio-stimulatory effect on these nerve receptors. Application of LILT to the knee resulted in an immediate strengthening of the quads.

On consequent visits the swelling diminished the quads stayed strong and where able to support the recovery and after 8 visits the knee had return to normal size and the patient was able to walk up to 2 miles without pain. Due to the chronic nature of this injury and the amount of damage already done to the knee we decreased the frequency of visits to weekly and now to 2 weekly. The case is still open and the patient has an active life again.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

IBS, Hiatus hernia and other digestive problems

Here's another story from the case book of Wendy Boast at the Sunu Centre.

It may seem suprising that a cold laser treatment can heal digestive problems – after all there is a massive pharmaceutical industry built on antacids and other (temporary) remedies, and the organs we are targeting are deep in the body. Doctors often don’t have a cure – just remedial drugs, and as the condition is usually not life threatening it is a low priority. Sadly many people live with pain or severe discomfort as a result – IBS and Hiatus Hernias seem to affect a huge number of people. The good news is that I have regular success with these kinds of problems – resolving them for the long term, not just a quick fix.

Many Crohns sufferers have long term pain, for which doctors usually often have to say “live with it”. However, a short treatment with cold laser can remove discomfort for months at a time. I have a number of regular clients who come for a treatment about twice a year to keep them free from pain; here’s a quote from one:

"I have had Crohns disease since a teenager, and still suffered discomfort many years on; with the doctors unable to offer more help. The LILT treatment has really eased the discomfort without any invasive issues or side effects. It is quick and easy and I didn’t feel a thing."

Hiatus Hernias are another example; the standard approach is antacids. These hernias can cause problems with the lungs by leaking acid during sleep, and many of us can testify to the horrible burning reflux in the throat at night. I myself had a large hiatus hernia (X-ray of barium swallow to prove it). The great news is that the laser can heal these hernia easily. Its been three years since mine was healed, and its only when clearing out cupboards and finding the old gaviscon that I remember that I had one!

IBS is another condition which afflicts many people, and although there are drugs available, the condition continues to restrict enjoyment of life for many people. However, again the cold laser has a great impact, helping people to live without symptoms for long periods of time.

The approach is the treat the Gall Bladder and pancreas, as well as the main nerves supplying the affected area. When light is then applied to the affected area the body is ready to start healing the issue.