Welcome to our Blog

Crestacre Chiropractic Clinic is a functional pain management and sports injury clinic which is focussed on finding the root cause of the problem and not just treating the symptoms.

Hello and welcome to our blog. This is a new blog where you will find some (hopefully) informative and beneficial information, particularly if you or someone you know is suffering from pain. You may find similar posts on the Crestacre Chiropractic Clinic facebook page or Instagram.

Welcome to our blog

Skip to our latest posts

Sciatica. Is it really?
Should I wear a back support belt?
Not sure if chiropractic is for you?
February is for your feet

This post however, is just to say hello and welcome, and to tell you a little bit about Crestacre Chiropractic Clinic.

We are a chiropractic clinic situated in Walsall Wood and serve the Walsall, Lichfield, Cannock, Tamworth and Birmingham area. We are a new clinic having opened in August 2019, and whether you have been to a chiropractor in the past or not, you will find that we operate very differently to most chiropractic clinics (at least the ones that I have seen).

What do Chiropractors do?

Most people who know what a chiropractor is will tell you that we crack backs and necks as a means of making your back/neck pain go away. Yes we do manipulate the joints in the spine but that is just one small part of what we do. Chiropractors go to university for 5 years before becoming qualified; you don’t need 5 years at university to learn how to crack a back. If you go to a chiropractor and all you get is a thorough cracking of everything in your body that can crack, then you are benefitting from a year and a half of their 5 year training at best.

So you already know that we manipulate the spine, this is a great way to relieve pressure in the joints and restore movement back to joints that have become stiff and have reduced range of motion. Did you know we also learn manipulation of the extremities too? If you or someone you know is have problems with their shoulders, hips, ankles?…at Crestacre we do it all.

Who doesn’t like a massage?

Ever felt the benefits of a massage? Thats because more often that not its the muscles that are causing the pain; overworked, short, tight muscles. Over time they get tighter and tighter and more fatigued, they pull on the joints and create imbalances, which then lead to further problems in neighbouring areas of the body. No amount of cracking joints is going to fix a chronically shortened and overworked muscle, thats why at Crestacre we treat the muscles as well. This may be with simple massage, passive or active stretching techniques or it may be percussive therapy. We also do dry-needling (Acupuncture needles) and shockwave therapy (Please click here for more information).

Helping you to get better and STAY better

So when the symptoms have gone, obviously you don’t want them to come back. This is where addressing the cause of the problem comes in. Sometimes you know exactly what caused your pain and sometimes it just appears one day for ‘no reason’. Chiropractors can help to identify the cause of the problem and why you have pain and help you to fix it. At Crestacre we also prescribe exercise programmes that have been specifically designed for you by your chiropractor. We do not have a stack of exercise sheets ready and waiting to be given to patients, because a ‘one size fits all’ approach doesn’t work! everyone has a different reason why they have back pain, they have different work -life patterns, they have different strengths and weaknesses etc. so your exercise plan is just that…YOUR exercise plan.

Why limit treatment? Receive 100%

If you have seen a chiropractor before and you get a lot of benefit from spinal manipulation that’s great; as a chiropractor I also think manipulation is great. But why limit yourself to just that when you could have a much broader approach to care? Why would you learn so much over 5 years of hard study and then go out and only use 10% of that? At Crestacre we want to tailor your treatment plan to your needs as in our experience it gets the best results.

If your looking for a chiropractor in the West Midlands who will work with you to treat the cause of the problem, not just the symptoms, and uses a variety of techniques then you’re in luck and we hope we’ll see you soon 🙂

Welcome to our blog

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Let’s clear up some things

Firstly, Sciatica isn’t a diagnosis it’s a symptom, so if you’ve been to see your GP with your back pain and leg pain and they’ve told you that you have sciatica, well great, you already knew that, it’s why you went to the GP in the first place. What you need to know is what is causing the pain and how to get rid of it.

Sciatica is a term that is often used incorrectly to explain low back pain with leg pain. Many people who have back and leg pain have been told by their GP or a friend who has experienced similar symptoms that they have sciatica….but is it true sciatica? In our experience, it’s usually not.

Think of nerve tissue as the spoilt brat of the body. When conditions aren’t just right, your nerves will be the first to flare up and have a hissy fit. The sciatic nerve is the longest and widest nerve in the body; if it’s irritated, you’ll definitely know about it.

What is sciatica really?

True sciatica is caused by pressure on the sciatic nerve at the nerve root as it exits the spine in the lower back.

Everyones experience might be different. Most common symptoms are pain that may be electric and sharp in nature that zips down the back of the leg from the lumbar spine to the foot. It might even make your leg momentarily give way. Burning, tingling, numbness or weakness are all symptoms of nerve irritation.

But just because you have pain that spreads into the leg doesn’t mean you have sciatica.


Muscles are a very much overlooked cause of leg and buttock pain. There are multiple muscles in the lower back and buttocks that can refer pain down the leg. The piriformis and gluteal muscles in particular are very good at mimicking ‘sciatica’ and in my experience, these are the true cause of the buttock and leg pain, not the sciatic nerve.

 

 

 

So is it sciatica, or isn’t it?

Here are some questions you should ask yourself if you have lower back pain with leg pain.

1. Did you do anything to suddenly bring about back pain which was then followed by pain spreading into the leg within the week?

The most common mechanism of injuring the discs in the lower back is flexing forward combined with a twist. This action is not tolerated well by the discs which may bulge or herniate onto the nerve roots. The most common discs to be injured are the ones at the very bottom of the spine, which is why the sciatic nerve is the most commonly irritated nerve.

Important note: If you injured your back while lifting, it’s not what you lifted, or how heavy it was…it’s how you lifted it! you could have been picking up a feather; the flex-twist combo is a BIG no-no for your lower back. One thing that I hear an awful lot from my patients is “but I was only just…” or “…but it wasn’t even heavy”. It doesn’t make a difference. You would be amazed at the level of force that your Lumbar discs can endure. Trust me, it’s wasn’t the weight you lifted. Almost all lumbar disc injuries that I see in practice occurred whilst doing some petty daily activity like loading the washing machine, lifting the toddler out of the high chair or getting in or out of the car.

 

2. Is the pain coming from your back? or is it coming from your buttocks?

The Piriformis muscle is a muscle that crosses the pelvis and lies over the top of the sciatic nerve as it passes into the leg. If the piriformis becomes overly tight or you receive a trauma to the buttocks then the sciatic nerve can become irritated. It may be hard to differentiate though because the piriformis itself can refer pain down the leg with or without compressing the sciatic nerve.

Some particular activities that may aggravate the piriformis include a lot of walking on uneven surfaces, using the hip abduction machine in the gym, prolonged sitting and a lot of time spent driving.

3. Does the leg pain go past the knee?

As a general rule, true sciatica will cause leg pain that spreads past the knee, though not always. It may depend on the severity of the nerve irritation. There are several clinical tests that can help to differentiate between pain arising from the nerve root itself, a nerve that is irritated further along the nerve bed or a muscle that has a referral pattern similar to the sciatic nerve. That’s why it is best to consult with a musculoskeletal specialist like a chiropractor, physiotherapist or osteopath to get the correct diagnosis and plan of management.

If your pain is coming from your buttocks, then try some of these stretches and hopefully they will give you some relief.

Glute & Piriformis stretches
Try them for pain in the buttocks region, and to release tension that may be irritating the sciatic nerve

The thing to remember about stretches, is that they are more effective when they are done little and often.

Muscles have their own memory and will revert back to their usual state of contracture quite quickly. If you have chronically tight muscles then brutally stretching them for half an hour a day will not be an effective way of releasing that tension. You will find that within a few hours and certainly within a couple of days that the muscle just springs back to being really tight.

Stretches aren’t a one and done kind of thing; keep going back and doing the same stretches as many times a day as you can, just for a few minutes at a time and the muscles will start to lengthen and relax.

 

Sciatica and disc injuries

 

If your think you have injured a disc which may be compressing your sciatic nerve, then I would strongly advise that you visit a Chiropractor or other musculoskeletal specialist. Discs can be tricky and it’s really not worth the risk of further injury by doing the wrong exercises and activities. I haven’t included any exercises here for disc injuries because it’s not something that you should try to diagnose yourself. Not all disc injuries are the same and therefore there isn’t one set of exercises to suit everyone. But I have included top-tips which will help to prevent further injury to your discs, allow you to continue your day and take the edge off while your disc is trying to heal.

 

Top Tips for looking after your lumbar discs

 

  1. Learn to hinge from your hip joints when leaning forward – your hips are ball and socket joints; like your shoulders, they are designed to have a large range of movement, so use them to bend forward so your spine doesn’t have to.
  2. Lie, don’t sit – Sitting is detrimental to your discs. If you have injured a disc, then sitting for prolonged periods will be uncomfortable. Our advice is to lay down on your back with your knees bent at 45 degrees. Bending the knees decreases the pressure on the discs. If you have injured a disc you will likely feel relief in this position.
  3. Keep mobile – I know this sounds like something you don’t want to be doing if you have an injured discs because moving around can be painful, but staying mobile is really important. Discs are a very poorly vascularised structure which means that they are bad healers. This is why disc injuries can take so long to go away and why it is so easy to get knocked back to square one – it’s very frustrating. Your discs need you to move so that blood and nutrients needed for the healing process can be pumped into them, this isn’t going to happen if you just stay in bed all day. You’ll want to take things easy but complete rest is going to prolong your discomfort and healing.
  4. As your pain levels start to reduce, learn to activate your core muscles. Our spines are like a tower that has supports on all 4 sides. Unfortunately for most of us, that support is left to the muscles of the back while the muscles on the front and sides are having a nice long holiday. This is why back pain is so common. There is only so long your back muscles can carry you without the help of other supporting muscle groups.
  5. Practice maintaining a neutral spine. The spine naturally has lazy S-shaped curves in the neutral position. These are important because this is the position where your spine can optimally absorb forces. If you remove 1 curve (let’s say the lumbar curve) by sitting, then you have taken away your lumbar spine’s ability to absorb the forces; not a great idea, especially if you have already got a lower back injury.

 

 

sciatica is it really

Natural curves of different areas of the spine in the neutral position

 

If you, or someone you know is suffering with back pain and leg pain and you think it might be sciatica, maybe it is…or maybe it isn’t. Either way chiropractors can help…this is what we do !

 

 

The question of back support belts and should you wear one?

When treating people with low back pain one of the more frequently asked questions is “What about back support belts? Should I be wearing one?”

Now as a general rule I will usually tell people that they should not require the support of a back belt. What they actually need is to start using the support system they already have built into their body. It’s a very good system, if your using it.

That’s not to say that there are no advantages to wearing a support belt in the right situation. I would not usually recommend a support belt to a healthy individual as a preventative measure, but in situations of very acute low back pain they can give just enough relief to get someone up and moving around, which is very important to recovering from back pain.

Things to consider about support belts

Manufacturers of support belts and lumbar supports do not have regulatory requirements to conduct clinical trials and yet they make many claims about how their products protect you and reduce injury. Below are some of the claimed “benefits” of wearing a support belt.

  1. Remind people to lift properly
  2. Support the spine against shearing forces when leaning forwards
  3. Act as a splint
  4. Reduce muscular fatigue
  5. Reduce compressive loading by increasing intra-abdominal pressure
  6. Provide warmth to the lumbar region.

Some truths

1st Truth

Evidence does not support the use of uninjured people wearing belts as an injury prevention measure. In fact, the risk of injury increases following a period wearing a belt.

2nd Truth

Wearing a belt DOES increase intra-abdominal pressure as is claimed. However, this INCREASES the spinal load, which is contrary to the claims that are made.

3rd Truth

Wearing a belt does not affect the activity levels of your lower back extensor muscles OR your abdominal muscles. Studies on the effect of wearing a belt on muscular function have shown no enhancement of function while wearing a belt and the belt does not significantly reduce the loading of your lower back muscles.

4th Truth

Does a belt restrict your movement and thus protect you from aberrant movement patterns? Well maybe this depends on the width and stiffness of the belt. When we look at the research, although there are indications that a belt can limit range of movement in sideways bending and rotation in the neutral position, it does not have this effect when the torso is flexed – such as with lifting.

5th Truth

Posture is one of the most important issues to consider in injury prevention. The ability of the lumbar spine to resist compressive forces decreases when people reach end range of lumbar flexion. Therefore, one might expect that a belt that was wide enough and stiff enough to impair range of movement would add protection. Unfortunately, most belts do not provide sufficient restriction of lumbar flexion. Perhaps a taller elastic belt that spans from the pelvis to the rib cage would serve to stiffen and support the whole of the torso.

One last thing to consider

One last thing to consider – It may seem like a no-brainer that if you want to reduce your range of movement sufficiently by wearing a belt that the stiffer the belt the better. This is not the case. Rigid orthopaedic belts generally increase the lifting moment whereas an elastic belt can reduce spinal loads. Think about how you would lift something heavy from the ground; Is it easier to bend 90 degrees from the hips with the weight further away from you? (as would be the case with a rigid belt), or is it easier to keep the weight closer to your centre?

Let’s summarise

There is a wide variety of belts out there and whether they will help you really does depend on your lower back complaint and the purpose for which you need the belt. Do I as a chiropractor advise using them? As general rule no. I may, if a patient is very very acute and struggling to get about, suggest a supportive belt for the short term. If you have a fairly active job, at the very least the belt may serve as a reminder that you have a lower back injury. It should NOT be used as means of continuing to do the activity that hurt your back in the first place and just push through pain.

Just because you have an active job that involves lifting and bending does NOT mean that you should wear a belt just in case; ensuring that you are physically fit for the job by strengthening your in-built system is what you should do just in case. having good movement patterns and a strong core are the best preventative measure for your back.

Don’t be lazy, and treat your back like you can’t live without it.

Back support belts

How about a spinal screen?

What is a spinal screen?

A spinal screen at Crestacre is a 15 minute for you to tell your chiropractor a little about your complaint. He/she will then take a quick look to assess whether or not Chiropractic care is appropriate for you.

Spinal screens may include a posture analysis, assessment of restricted areas of the spine and one or two tests of the area in question.

What a spinal screen is not…

In order to make a diagnosis and start treating your complaint, a Chiropractor needs more than 15 minutes. A full Chiropractic consultation is approximately 1 hour long. This includes a thorough history of your complaint and medical history, a neurological screen and a focussed examination of the area of complaint. If the clinical tests point to a diagnosis that is likely to respond to Chiropractic care, then you would usually receive some treatment as well (provided your complaint is not complicated and has required the full hour for testing).

Therefore, at a spinal screen the chiropractor will be unable to officially diagnose your complaint (as there will not have been a sufficient examination to do so). We will also be unable to give you any treatment (because no diagnosis has been made).

What we can do

Some people are not sure if a chiropractor is the professional that they need to see. Maybe you have been recommended by a friend who sees a chiropractor. Maybe you have done a bit of online research and think that is the way to go. Do you have a friend that tells you “it sounds like you’ve got what I had”? Everyone is different though, and some conditions will present very similarly to others. It’s best to see a professional just to be sure and give you some peace of mind.

Book your Spinal Screen at Crestacre Chiropractic Clinic

If you’ve been wondering if a Chiropractor can help, and would like to talk and have them take a quick look, then you can book a spinal screen for just £10. This will hopefully give you some assurance and confidence that you have come to the right place. If it does look like we might be able to help, we will still need a full consultation to thoroughly assess and make a diagnosis. When you book your consultation we will deduct the cost of your spinal screen from the cost of the consultation.

How does that sound?

Free Gait Scanning this February

Could the cause of your back pain be right under your feet?

Book your gait scan today

It actually makes alot of sense that your feet are causing your back pain. Those ground reaction forces hit your feet first and that energy must go somewhere ( remember trying to stay awake in those high school physics lessons? Energy has to go somewhere). Foot dysfunction can travel up the kinematic chain and cause knee pain, hip pain and back pain. Book your gait scan today to see how your feet are affecting your knees, hips and back.

Does that pesky pain keep coming back?

Does your back pain just keep coming back? Perhaps you’ve seen chiropractors, osteopaths or physiotherapists but it never went away 100%…that’s because there isnt much point focussing on your back if the problem is coming up from your feet. Are you just going to put a bucket under a leak? Or fix the leak?

Gait scanning at Crestacre

Our gait scanner can detect abnormalities that are invisible to the naked eye and will show you a dynamic scan of your feet as they move through the gait cycle. It can also help predict if you are at high risk of falls by posture analysis and static balance testing, this is particularly important for elderly individuals as the risks of falling and severity of injury caused by falls increases with age.

Book your gait scan.Why wouldn’t you? its FREE!

Get yourself booked in for a free gait scan this February and see how your feet are affecting your knees, hips and back. What do you have to lose? It’s a FREE scan!

Travel further and longer with healthier feet 😁🦶

This is a February offer which expires on 1st March 2020