Injuries

Snap, crackle and pop: why do joints crack?

There’s a couple of options here, joints crack during normal joint movement and when passively forced within their limits, what we would call a manipulation.

Firstly, normal joint cracking – this happens when soft tissues such as ligaments and tendons rub over bony prominences. If you have some joint degeneration, wear and tear/OA, the joint surfaces are no longer as smooth as they were when you were a teeny bopper and this can result in audible cracking/creaking/rice crispy like sensations, known as Crepitus. Most common in the knee joint when going up and down stairs. This can be painful if the joint is inflamed so if you’re experiencing this, it may be an idea to get checked out by a Physio to look at improving joint control.

Read more: Four simple exercises for lower back pain

Another form of cracking is cavitation, like cracking your fingers, knuckles or neck, this can happen in natural movement but is more so associated with manipulation of a stiff joint.

What is Cavitation? – A manipulation causes the joint surfaces to separate slightly, the noise you hear is the release of gaseous bubbles in the joints synovial fluid when the manipulation causes a decrease in joint pressure. Like a localised stretch at a joint!

Self-manipulation wrists, fingers, necks, backs – we’ve all done it. Feels good doesn’t it? The relief you get is often instant, however it doesn’t last long and that stiffness will build back up. It’s fine to self-manipulate, but it can become a habit, this is where it can cause problems and become less effective, such as the joint becomes too mobile and lacks control.

Read more: What is the perfect posture?

WARNING – be careful if self-manipulating your neck or back, best advice would be to get yourself assessed by a qualified Physio/Chiropractor/Osteopath, there’s a lot of nerves and blood vessels around these joints which if manipulated improperly could do more harm than good!

Clicking, clunking and PAIN associated with a trauma…STOP! If you’ve had a slip, trip, fall or sports injury and feel a popping or clicking or any joint deformity, get it assessed. This is NOT normal.

So, to recap, joints click, its normal behaviour in the absence of any trauma.

The problem occurs when the joint itself is irritated (swollen, red, hot), if this is the case get it assessed by a Physio. Sometimes joints need a manipulation if they’re particularly stiff and this is always best carried out by a qualified professional who has an understanding of the underlying anatomy and joint mechanics but will also provide you with home exercises to help you improve joint mobility and /or control.

If in doubt, get it checked!

If you have any joint cracking related queries, please contact us on admin@jmcphysiocures.co.uk where one of our Physio team will be more than happy to get back to you!

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Back pain

Four simple exercises for lower back pain

 

Low back pain is the most common reason people book an appointment with us. It is rarely serious and often improves by taking over the counter painkillers, (anti-inflammatories normally, although always check with your GP before starting any new medications), staying active by adapting your normal activities rather than completely avoiding them and by exercise.

The following exercises are easy to do in the comfort of your own home, they are safe and will help get your back moving.

Exercises provided courtesy of rehabmypatient.com our exercise programme partner.

It is normal for these exercises to feel uncomfortable or mildly painful but do not push into severe pain.

Lumbar rotation

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Bend your knees, and keeping your feet flat on the floor, rotate your hips to one side creating a rotation through your lower back. Only go as far as feels comfortable, you do not need to get your knees to the floor. Return to the opposite side. This is an excellent lower back mobility exercise, especially if you have acute lower back pain or disc problems.

Perform 30s times daily | Repeat 2-3 times | Hold for 2-3 | Perform both sides

Video: http://youtu.be/UxORTXzuU9E

Read more: Marginal gains: what are they and should I use them?

Pelvic tilt lying

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Lie flat on your back, and engage your deep core muscles by drawing your belly button inwards (towards your spine slightly), while flattening your spine against the floor, then relax. Repeat as required.

Perform 30s times daily | Repeat 2-3 times | Hold for 2-3

Video: http://youtu.be/44D6Xc2Fkek

Read more: What is Pilates and how can it benefit you?

Single leg back stretch

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Lie flat on your back, and bend your knee towards your chest. Hold this position and feel a gentle stretch in your back. If you get any groin pain while doing this exercise, stop and inform your therapist. Relax, and then repeat as necessary.

Video: http://youtu.be/lka-1VKjrew

Read more: Returning to sport: how to balance injury prevention and performance

Back extension medium

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Lie on your front, and rest on your forearms. Straighten your arms to a 90 degree position as shown. Hold this position. Your back will be arched. Start gently with this exercise as it can cause some stiffness when you first begin.

Video: http://youtu.be/jwI8g1dNzbw

If you have any concerns or questions about your back pain then please get in touch on 01236 425661, email at admin@jmcphysiocures.co.uk or contact us on social media.

Back pain, Injuries

What is the perfect posture?

The answer is your next posture! A number of studies undertaken to find the perfect posture reveal that how you sit or stand is miles less important than how often you change position.  No one position has been linked to increased pain or days off work

So Mrs McK my old teacher who told me that if I slumped I would end up in a wheelchair – my gut instincts were right you were talking rubbish!- I would also like to point out that now that I do a lot of ergonomic assessments I was also correct about the chair being too small for me and THAT was why I slumped!! (Not that I am one to hold a grudge for 25 years 😊)

Read more: Marginal gains: what are they and should I use them?

Common sense tells us that sitting in awkward positions for long periods of time is bad for us, but it would be healthy if we all stopped worrying about this as much.

Where this all goes wrong is when we go to work and sit in the way that the chair/desk/PC has been laid out for us rather than sit how we do watching TV at home. Most people find that sitting in a chair which provides support through our spine in a slightly reclined rather than upright angle is more comfortable. This is why we lounge into the couch when watching Dancing on Ice on a Saturday night (note to self should have lied and said while out at fancy restaurant/pub!).

When you go back to work, or even better if you are at work just now. GET UP AND GO FOR A WALK. Try having a bit of a stretch in the chair or do a hula hoop on the desk.

When you finally sit down after all of that then adjust your chair so that it is comfortable, your feet are flat on the floor, your spine is rested against the backrest and your elbow is at desk height.

Read more: What is Pilates and how can it benefit you?

Only then should you pull it into your desk, move your mouse and keyboard close to you at elbow distance, and then adjust your screen to a natural height without leaning forward or angling your head-up. That should do the trick and then finally set an alarm for 30-45 minutes so that you can get up and do it all over again!

If you need any advice on alternative equipment or how to set your workplace up effectively then please ask us about workplace/DSE assessments by contacting us on 01236 425 661, or admin@jmcphysiocures.co.uk

 

Back pain

Five tips to help manage back pain

Back pain is one of the most common problems we see within all of our clinics. Follow these five simple tips to help manage it.

1. Don’t panic

Back pain is rarely serious or caused by damage and the vast majority of problems fully resolve. It is very unlikely that you will require an X-ray or MRI scan and most of the findings of these such as bulging discs, loss of joint space, and “wear and tear” are normal age-related changes, much like grey hair or William’s receding hairline!

2. Stay active

Rest does not help back pain other than the first day or two. As soon as you can, get moving and try to do as much of your normal daily activities as possible, including work!

This doesn’t mean you have to throw a leotard on and get down to the gym but simple walking, gentle exercises (see here) and ordinary movement is likely to help you get back to normal quickly. It is natural for this to be uncomfortable or sore; so take short rests before moving again.

Read more: IT band problems? Here’s what to know if you run or cycle…

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3. Use painkillers

Current guidelines recommend the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatories to manage low back pain. These can be taken along with paracetamol or over-the-counter solpadol, but always consult your GP to ensure you are safe to take these. Reduced pain allows you to move easier, so painkillers are part of the cure and are not just there to “cover up the pain”.

4. Try these exercises

These simple exercises can be done easily in the comfort of your own home with no equipment required. Do them as you feel able and stop if they become too painful (you can always try again later). https://www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/muscle-bone-and-joints/exercises/exercises-for-back-pain

Read more: New Year’s Resolution to get fit? Here’s how to avoid injury…

We also have a few posts on our Facebook page with simple exercises: https://www.facebook.com/JMCPhysiocures

5. See a qualified physiotherapist for an appointment or advice

We may be biased but seeing a physiotherapist is one of the best places to start for straightforward advice. This isn’t always about getting massaged, manipulated or otherwise beat-up! Although there are a number of techniques physios can use to help control your pain, the most important thing we do is teach you how to manage it.

At JMC Physiocures we aim to provide you with simple straightforward advice on what may be causing your problem, how long it may last and what is likely to help speed up your recovery; so if your back pain is not improving using the simple tips above, then please get in touch.

Call us on 01236 425 661 if you would like to make an appointment or to speak with one of our senior physiotherapists for expert advice.