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Latest News

Back to normal

Well that's it. A lovely restful holiday over. If you haven't been to Northumbria recently do yourself a favour and get up there ASAP. How lucky we are to have it on the doorstep.

So back to normal. Sian is in all day Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday afternoon/evening. Mark is in both Tuesday and Friday mornings. Diana is in Monday sfternoon and Thursday mprning. Liz is doing her Chronic Fatigue clinic on Wednesday afternoon. Come in and see us!

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Body world

The North-east Osteopaths group met at the Centre for Life last week and looked around the Body Works exhibition. These are real cadavers which have been 'plasticised' and dissected to reveal our human anatomy. It was fascinating to see beneath the skin, it's many years since I attended dissection classes when I was training, and in some cases really made sense of what I palpate every day in my working life. Osteopathy is such a hands on discipline. We use so many different techniques and approaches including articulation, muscle energy manipulation and massage to education, mindfulness and exercise yet it is all based on the premiss of what we can feel. Most of the exhibition I felt really was useful just to see what's there.

Some of the exhibits I found to be less informative, perhaps showmanship triumphing over education? It was hard to imagine these bodies as living people despite some of the poses they had been put in, on a tight rope or a rock guitarist for example. And once I'd marvelled at the anatomy displayed in the exhibition I remembered again that our skeleton needs to be alive and mobile so that it can express it's person. Those living statues we see in our town centres are spooky because they display no emotion. It's not just the dead pan faces, a person can be identified by their posture, the way they move. Their mood can be exposed in the way they hold themselves, the way their feet move over the ground or in the way they respond and echo others movements. People in pain often struggle because they limit their movements, they become frightened to use their body. It's one of the finest moments of my day when I see some-one who had lost their ability to express themselves with their musculo-skeletal system come back to being comfortable in their own skin.

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Tell me a story

When you come to see us at Dunelm Osteopaths we sit down and encourage you to tell us about your symptoms, your daily life, what's happening now, what happened in the past and what you would like for the future; ie your story. We're not being nosey, although curiosity is high on the list of what it takes to be an osteopath, but all of this information is necessary for safe and effective treatment.

Sometimes your job or hobbies/life situation will make an impact on your body and they may certainly affect the advise we give you, for example, there's not much point recommending parents of young children to avoid lifting. A compulsive exerciser may be advised to rest, an exercise avoider to move, but using exercises which can be done on the couch. Some conditions are age related, others not.

Pain and discomfort can be very frightening and yet sometimes just sitting down and talking with somebody allows you to approach the pain safely and start to get an understanding about what is happening. A discussion about how and when the pain started, what it feels like, when it's worse all start to allow us to try to find out what is happening to you. We will do a thorough examination but it helps if we've got an idea about what we're looking for.

We will ask you about your medical history. Sometimes this may influence our thoughts and treatment. Poor breathing patterns may affect the neck, ribs and diaphragm, all of which are musculo-skeletal structures which may exacerbate or even cause symptoms, irritable bowel is often associated with low back pain, past accidents may be influencing present symptoms. Cetain drugs can cause muscle pain and weakness, some illnesses also. Regrettably sometimes pain is due to other medical or more malign causes and will need referral to your GP. Our job as Osteopaths is to work out whether it is safe to treat you.

If we feel that we cannot help you osteopathically after the case history we will tell you and hopefully recommend what to do next but we will not charge you. At the end of the process we hope to have got to know you a little, and hope that you will feel comfortable with us.

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Falling down

I wonder at what age we become embarrassed about falling down? I've just had a week-end away with my Cub Pack. At age 8 to 10 1/2 it's part of the day's work to fall over, run into things and generally get into scrapes. However, the younger members of the group tend to fall and wail BUT they stay down until they or some-one else decides that there has been no damage done. Most adults' immediate reaction is to hope desperately that nobody has noticed and to get up as quickly as possible whislt vigorously refusing help.

Probably staying on the floor is the most sensible option to allow our brains a short time to assess if there is a problem. I have never known anything other than kindness and maybe a bit of gentle leg pulling (no pun intended) when I have hurt myself by tripping or falling and yet I know that my reaction is to try to pretend it didn't happen. I can't really claim that I've got up to get out of danger, it's always due to embarrassment. How odd!

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pain killers

As anybody who has been to see me will tell you, I'm very keen for people to take pain killers if it means that nearer normal activities can be resumed. However all drugs need to be used sensibly. The recommendations are that you shouldn't use anti-inflammatories (ibuprofen for example) for at least 3 days after an injury. Your marvellous self-healing, self-regulating body is using inflammation (heat, swelling redness) to help to mend itself, so try not to interfere if possible. A bit of ice or contrast bathing (cool/warm/cool) will not come amiss. Try taking some paracetamol, if this isn't enough codeine may be useful BUT PLEASE read the instructions on the packet and if in doubt, or on other medication, talk to a pharmacist at your local chemist.

If you want a more holistic approach to pain try to recognise that pain is generated by your brain to prevent further injury. Your brain is looking at all sorts of scenarios; how amazing, it's looking at past experience and knowledge and also projecting into the future trying to predict outcome. So the bit that's hurting you isn't doing it out of spite, it needs a bit of consideration and care. If you can bear to, try and spend a little time 'in company' with the pain. You might like to see how large the area of pain is, is it a pain you've felt before, does it have a colour, is it as nasty as you first thought?

Now also might be the moment to really eat well. Your body needs a full complement of vitamins and minerals to mend itself, as well as some quiet time. On the other hand nothing beats the depression of pain and boosts the healing systems like a good laugh with friends.

Get help. A few words of good advice are often the best pain-killers, and the only silly question is the one you didn't ask.

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Sunshine, sunshine, a happy day.

Quick, the sun's shining, let's get out there and gobble up a bit of Vitamin D. As with many vitamins and minerals, opinion is divided as to how much Vitamin D is needed for optimum health, but I think it's safe to say that most of us in the North-east of England are running on very low stocks. Vit D is best known for being needed to keep bones and teeth healthy by regulating the uptake of calcium and other bone minerals but deficiency has also been linked with other health problems such as aching muscles and bones, fatigue and depression. The best way to increase your Vit D levels is to go out into the sunshine, expose as much flesh as is decent (!) and stay out for about half the time it would normally take for you to burn. So being quite fair skinned I only need about 7 minutes in the midday sun, if you are darker skinned you'll need longer.

Why not combine your healthy sun session with a brisk walk? This will really push you into a healthy zone. Walking will help lift your mood, it is weight bearing exercise with helps to guard your bone density (thus warding off osteoporosis), it increases your breathing rate thus helping with cardiovascular strength and blood return from your feet and ankles. The rise and fall of the diaphragm and movement through your low back massages your abdomen which helps gut efficiency. OK, shut down your device, be it tablet, phone or pc. GET OUT THERE (just remember to cover up once your Vitamin D sunbath time is up)

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Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.

We need pain, it keeps us safe, but my goodness we fear it. However pain is just a sensation like any other. We taste, touch, smell and analyse these sensations. Perhaps we don't like the taste of marmite but we don't fear it. Maybe if we analysed the pain we feel it would become less scarey? Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.

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Proud to have done (and still be doing) the training

About 15 years ago Osteopaths moved away from a voluntary Register and we all had to re-apply for the title 'Osteopath' in order to become a member of the General Osteopathic Council (GOsC). It was a hard process causing a lot of work and anxiety but it has meant that the title 'Osteopath' is protected in the UK. Nobody may use the title unless they are properly trained, (usually a minimum of 4 years full time education,) insured, and regulated. We all have to reapply for the title yearly and provide proof of good character and a minimum of 30 hours Continued Professional Development.

You should never be embarrassed to ask anybody who calls themselves a therapist, back pain expert, physical therapist or even osteopath, physiotherapist or chiropractor about their training and continued education. If they've done it they will be proud to tell you all about it.

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Seasons Greetings

We close for Christmas onFriday 21st December. Any problems or concerns, Please phone the normal number and you will be transferred through to Sian. If necessary an Appointment can be arranged between now and the 2nd Jan when we get back to normal hours.

We wish you a Happy and Symptom free holiday. Try tokeep the good habits and exercises going. It's harder when we're out of routines. And if you do forget for a few days don't despair just pick up the pieces again when you can!

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Christmas Arrangements

We hope you will enjoy a happy holiday. The phone will be transferred across to Sian's mobile so if you have any injuries or worries please get in touch. You will probably have to leave a message but she will phone you back and, if necessary, arrange to meet for an appointment.

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A collaborative Process

In the new year I embarked on an on-line Cognitive Behavioural Training (CBT) programme to try to solve my sleeping difficulties. Taking part in a course of treatment as the Patient has really made me think about how we 'deliver' Osteopathy at Dunelm Osteopaths.

I have realised that one of the things we believe in strongly is a collaborative approach to treatment. Ideally we listen to your story, examine your musculo-skeletal system and try to get an understanding of your values the first time that we meet you. However this is quite a tall order in an hour, so subsequent treatments will always carry on the conversation about what is happening; How do we both see your progress, what's going well and what's difficult or challenging to accept or achieve. We accept that the delivering Osteopathic treatment our job but we still want you to be part of the process in understanding what we are trying to achieve from each treatment session.

As Osteopaths we are very aware that we do not heal people, they do that themselves, but we can help to encourage their body's own ability to achieve wellbeing. We try to constantly expand our knowledge base so that we can find an approach that suits each individual, but we need each individual to guide us in how to do that.

There is a Mindfulness metaphor that we are all climbing our own individual mountain. We can look across and see other people on their mountains and sometimes see foot and hand holds that they cannot because we have the benefit of some particular knowledge or experience. So we can attempt to guide the person up that bit of their mountain, but we cannot climb it for them. I'm hoping that once you've been to Dunelm Osteopaths you will feel that we are providing the climbing harness and helmet, weather report and confidence to climb to health. However we need you to do the climbing and report on local conditions. (For mountain please feel free to use your own metaphor, I like a sailing analogy, others may go for football, baking, gardening...)

Oh and yes the CBT programme worked very well thanks for asking, more about it later!

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Learning to sleep, a message of hope for the sleep challenged

Earlier this year, I underwent 7 weeks of a Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) online programme with Sleepstation.org. Although everybody is different I thought I'd report on some of the important things I learnt.

Get up at the same time every day, yes even at week-ends. (After 2 months I became a little more relaxed about it but still aim for a regular time with the odd half to one hour lie in.)

Go straight to bed to sleep only when your eyes struggle to stay open, having avoided watching screens for a while before. I try to avoid really bright lights too. No reading, puzzles or 'technology' in the bedroom.

Learn to relax, I can recommend the wellbeing podcasts on www.mentalhealth.org, and put together a gentle and enjoyable bedtime routine. I find doing even a bit of my routine is helpful if I've been out or busy.

An eyemask is brilliant to keep the room dark and earplugs keep things quiet.

Since doing the sleepstation course my quality of sleep has improved greatly. I am still aware of waking during the night but return to sleep quickly. I have discovered that my musculo-skeletal system probably needs me to wake and move otherwise my joints get very stiff and sore. That's fine. However I don't think I'll ever be a happy morning person and nor do I want to be. I reserve the right to be grumpy until I'm on the outside of a cup of tea.

You can self-refer to Sleepstation and pay privately (just underĀ£100) or get an NHS referral from your GP. Either way they will support you through a programme based on information you give them and sleep diaries which you fill in on-line. The programme does involve sleep limitation and is tough going but worthwhile. sleepstation.org.uk

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