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BACK PAIN AWARENESS WEEK (OCT 5-9)TOP 10 SELF-HELP TIPS FOR FIBROMYALGIA & BACK PAIN SUFFERERS IN LOCKDOWN…

To mark Back Pain Awareness Week, leading UK back-pain-prevention expert and Health Ergonomist Nichola Adams offers practical advice on coping with the growing challenges of working from home for a further six months.

 

Advice on slouching: a Work Station Assessment by Nichola Adams    

Leading UK back-pain-prevention expert and health ergonomist Nichola Adams’s workload has risen sharply during Covid lockdown.


And statistics show the numbers of us suffering from back pain are also growing, especially now that lockdown is extending for another six months.

To mark national Back Care Awareness Week (October 5-9), Nichola, a Technical Member of The Chartered Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors, has compiled her ‘Top 10 Self-Help Tips for Back Pain and Fibromyalgia Sufferers’.


Combining the Greek words ‘ergon’ (meaning ‘work’) and ‘nomoi’ (meaning ‘natural laws’), Ergonomics is the science of making products and tasks comfortable and efficient for human use.


“Health Ergonomics is a multidisciplinary science. It combines biomechanics (how our bodies move), anthropometrics (our measurements) and psychology to enable us to design products and services that best match people’s physical, as well as mental, capabilities,” explains Nichola.


“Ergonomics recognises that we are all individuals and that there will be many external influences that affect our recovery. This includes the environment as well as social factors that affect, for instance, our attitudes towards our back pain, our stress levels and other influencing factors that can influence our levels of back pain.” 

TIP 1 -Keep moving: When you do, blood flows more easily and brings nutrients and oxygen to your tissues and muscles. When sitting at your computer, standing breaks are vital. Take one every 30-60 minutes. Just standing up and siting back down will provide a beneficial boost. Take your laptop to a higher surface like a kitchen work-top or chest of drawers, then stand a while. Own a patio or garden? Work outside. Fresh air blows away brain cobwebs.
TIP 2 -Eat well, stay hydrated: Keeping the body stocked with immune-boosting, antioxidant-rich foods is key. Antioxidant foods are also anti-inflammatory. Enjoy dark fruit and leafy vegetables. Magnesium-rich foods are also good for reducing mental and physical stress. Check your vitamin D levels with a home testing kit. Keep hydrated, aiming for 7-8 glasses a day. It’s all too easy, when we’re working hard, to forget to drink enough water.
TIP 3 – Sit up straight: While moving regularly is key, sitting upright will also help reduce the load on your spine. Don’t sofa-slouch! If you only have your sofa to work from, mimic a good set-up. Build a supportive back using cushions (deep sofas cause slouching). Pop a cushion under your laptop to protect yourself against its heat and raise it up. Try an adjustable laptop holder that’s made for sofa or bed use.
TIP 4 -Care about your chair: Sit on a chair whenever possible. If it’s a dining chair, not an office one, always try to ensure your lower-back curve is supported as this is particularly good for easing tension build-up on sensitive backs. You can use a cushion or rolled-up towel for extra support. Better still, buy an inflatable lumbar support cushion for your lower-back curve. Ask your employer if they’ll offer you budget for a chair with a lumbar support and adjustable seat height and armrests. Always sit with your arms level with the top of the desk as this will help you avoid flicking up your wrists or hunching your shoulders to type.
TIP 5 -Get your screen height right: If you’re using a laptop, make sure you can either dock it onto a larger screen that’s at eye height, or raise the laptop onto some books. Alternatively, try using a laptop holder so that you aren’t slouching or looking down to read the screen as this will load unwelcome pressure onto your neck, shoulders and back. Then use a separate keyboard and mouse.

TIP 6 -Mind the gap: When using a keyboard and mouse, keep these close to the front of your desk so that you don’t find yourself in a position where there’s a gap and you’re needing to extend your arms forward when typing. Failure to do this can quickly bring on shoulder and neck tensions as our arms are surprisingly heavy when extended forward. Keep your wrists relaxed and straight in order to reduce pressure building up.
TIP 7 -Stay positive: Maintaining a positive frame of mind is more important than many people realise. And your brain has a far bigger say in your body’s ability to feel pain than you might imagine. If we’re stressed and worried, our body naturally tenses up. The brain then goes on alert for pain. Despite the distractions of the pandemic, try to take time out for yourself and just relax. (Bonus mini-tip: A magnesium hot bath can also work wonders for the brain and body.)
TIP 8 -And …… breathe: Slowing down your breathing can impact your cortisol levels. This brings down your stress levels and keep the oxygen flowing through the body. Try this exercise I can recommend: Step 1: Breathe in for a count of five. Step 2: Pause for a count of four. Step 3: Breathe out for eight beats. Step 4: Then pause for four. Step 5: Repeat. Get used to the maths and you’ll notice the difference straightaway.
TIP 9 -Exercise gently: With no office commute, exercising daily becomes essential. Try a morning stroll, jog or cycle as morning light helps with your circadian rhythm (helping our sleep/wake cycles) and vitamin D levels. Maybe treat yourself to a visit to your local park or a coffee, to encourage yourself to get out. By venturing out in the mornings, before work gets busy, we’re more likely to stick to the routine. Try stretching exercises, too, like yoga or Pilates.
TIP 10 -Remember, you’re worth it!: Focus on yourself and ring-fence extra time to keep in tune with what gives your life meaning and purpose. Remembering to take regular breaks at home isn’t easy, so use technology to set yourself automatic reminders on your mobile. When working from home, find ways to support your body so your muscles relax. Everyone’s an individual and ergonomists like me can conduct assessments remotely if you need bespoke advice.

Source: Alec Lom – Nichola Adams, MSc Health Ergonomics, Tech CIEHF (Technical Member of The Chartered Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors), Reg Member ACPOHE (The Association of Chartered Physiotherapists in Occupational Health and Ergonomics), is one of the UK’s leading back-pain experts and the Founder of Inspired Ergonomics (http://www.inspiredergonomics.com/)





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WHY IDD THERAPY IS EXPANDING IN THE UK – A Physiotherapist’s View…

John Wood MCSP and Lewis Payne MCSP Sheffield Physiotherapy, explains…

Sheffield Physiotherapy has been using IDD Therapy spinal decompression for almost ten years now, to help patients with unresolved back and neck pain, especially those with disc-related problems. When we started, there were only a handful of clinics in the UK using IDD Therapy. However, the network has grown over the years as more clinics have come to understand how this treatment can help their patients’ suffering with more challenging spinal conditions.

When I came across IDD Therapy initially, I thought it was like traction. As we know, traction had faded out of clinical practice because at that time there were few trials that showed it to be effective. Though ask any older practitioner who used traction and they will tell you that for some patients it really helped them. IDD Therapy got our attention initially because unlike traction of old, it was specific and able to target particular levels of the spine.

Why IDD Therapy?

Developed in the late 1990s in North America, IDD Therapy was designed to address the failings of traction and the limitations of what we can achieve with standard hands-on treatments. The team that developed IDD Therapy initially spent a lot of time making sure that there was a tangible effect on the disc at the level of the spine being targeted.  

Whilst most back pain either resolves itself or very quickly resolves after a short course of physiotherapy, when it doesn’t it becomes a significant problem for both the patient and health service. Patients presenting again and again with unresolved back pain place an extra burden on GPs, pain clinics and primary care in general.   

We use IDD Therapy to help patients with disc problems especially bulging or herniated discs with referred pain.  It can also help patients with disc degeneration and spinal stenosis. 

How does it work?

IDD Therapy uses pulling forces or computer-controlled distraction. A patient lies on a table and is connected to the machine using ergonomic pelvic and chest harnesses. Measuring specific angles from 10 to 30 degrees, we are able to direct the distraction forces to the targeted spinal segment of the patients, most commonly the lower back segments L4/L5 or L5/S1.

The manner with which the forces are applied, means that we can use higher pulling forces of up to and over half a patient’s body weight comfortably, and this enables us to decompress the affected spinal segment. Of course, it is physically impossible to apply such forces to a patient with manual techniques, and to do so with control and consistency.

At the same time as we decompress the disc, taking principles of manual therapy, IDD Therapy uses an oscillation force to gently mobilise the spinal segment.  

Many spinal segments become stiff and immobile for a variety of reasons.  IDD Therapy decompresses the disc, but also mobilises the tissues surrounding the joint.  By improving mobility, the aim is to allow the body’s natural healing mechanisms to operate efficiently.

Becoming more widely accepted

For some practitioners looking at IDD Therapy the number of sessions has been controversial.  The standard protocol of treatment is based on twenty sessions over a six to eight week period, with patients lying on the IDD Therapy machine for 25 minutes, whereas the typical model of manual therapy is four to six sessions.  

However, what we, and all the IDD clinics, see is that for a certain category of patient, the short programme simply does not work. The forces used to decompress the spine are built up over the sessions, rather like a strengthening programme gradually conditions the body. Some patients can experience symptomatic relief very quickly whilst for others it takes longer.  

This shift in thinking is now much more widely accepted because of the growing experience of the outcomes. In fact, some insurance companies, such as AVIVA, are now paying for programmes of IDD Therapy because it can be more cost-effective and better for the patient when they avoid surgery.  

At a time when there is pressure to reduce the burden on primary care in the NHS, IDD Therapy is enabling patients to have a credible opportunity to resolve their problem, without resorting to surgery.

It is important to stress that IDD Therapy is not a stand-alone treatment. It is like the first stage of a journey and practitioners combine it with exercise and education which together give us the opportunity for long-term success.

Further improvements

There are over 1,000 clinics using IDD Therapy globally.  Here in the UK there are physiotherapists, osteopaths and chiropractors.  We get together for a conference and at the time of writing have agreed an expanded set of measures which clinics will use to track outcomes.  

In healthcare, change happens slowly, especially within physical therapy. Having used IDD Therapy for many years, both on its own and in combination with other modalities, we believe it provides the greatest opportunity for scalable improvement for patients with unresolved back and neck pain.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

John Wood MCSP is from Sheffield Physiotherapy, a long-established physiotherapy clinic specialising in unresolved back and neck pain. http://iddtherapy.co.uk/

ABOUT IDD THERAPY

IDD Therapy is the fastest growing non-surgical spinal treatment for intervertebral discs with over 1,000 clinics worldwide and a network of clinics across the UK.

Facebook: IDD Therapy Europe

Twitter: https://twitter.com/IDDTherapyDisc