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Basics of Spinal Anatomy…and why you might get back pain!

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Look first at your lifestyle! Perhaps it’s no wonder you sometimes feel a twinge!

Your spine is an intricate structure of bones, ligaments, tendons, muscles and highly sensitive nerve roots that provide you with four main benefits:

  • Protection – for the spinal cord and nerve roots to safely relay messages between your brain and the rest of your body.
  • Shock Absorption – accepting jolts and stresses as you move about.
  • Flexibility – especially in the lower back and neck, allowing you to bend and twist.
  • Strength – provided by the bones, discs, muscles and connective tissue that allow you to stand upright and move about with precision.

Top to Bottom

back pain image of cervical spine, thoracic spine, lumbar spine

Your very important spine…from top to bottom. It’s no wonder you sometimes feel a bit of a twinge!

Let’s start at the top – the cervical spine supports the weight of your head and protects the nerves that run between your brain and the rest of your body. Your neck has seven vertebral bones that get smaller – and provide more rotation – as they get closer to the base of the skull.

The vertebrae in the upper back are attached to the rib cage and make up the thoracic spine, providing stability, structural support and protection for the heart and lungs.

Moving down to the lower back, the lumbar spine carries the most load with the least structural support, so this is the most likely area of the spine to wear out or sustain an injury.

Remember, if you are suffering with any kind of neck or back pain, get it correctly evaluated by a trained and qualified Doctor of Chiropractic. Call +351 282 768 044 or check our www.lagos-health.com website. You can also find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

Chiropractic Care For Low Back Pain

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Got low back pain from working in the garden or playing golf? Maybe it’s time to see your chiropractor!

Seeing a Doctor of Chiropractic, otherwise known as a Chiropractor, can be a beneficial step towards effectively treating low back pain. Similar to a medical doctor or a dentist, qualified chiropractors undergo a minimum of 4 years of specialist training, so you can be assured that we know more about your spine, joints and muscles than anybody else…and that includes many osteopaths and physiotherapists!

What Chiropractors Do

Chiropractors utilize a series of treatments designed to manipulate the spine, joints and tissues of the body to relieve pain and improve functional ability.

Examination Procedure

If it’s your first visit, your chiropractor will examine you thoroughly before making any sort of diagnosis or treatment plan, as there are many reasons why low back pain occurs. In addition to discussing your ‘health history’, your doctor will test your reflexes, sensory nerves, joints, muscles and other areas of the body to determine the most appropriate treatment.

I've got low back pain...what can I do?

Ouch, my back really hurts…what can I do?

Treatment Plan For Low Back Pain

If a patient is suffering from ‘acute’ low back pain (usually lasting for up to six weeks), a typical treatment plan is 2 or 3 weekly sessions over the course of 2 to 4 weeks. Often, this can be sufficient to completely resolve the pain. After this period of intensive treatment, it would be beneficial to consider regular maintenance care – one visit, every four weeks or so.

Long-Term Back Pain

Living with long-term ‘chronic’ back pain is more of a challenge, but chiropractors try to emphasize to patients that self-therapy at home (eg range-of-motion exercises) is a vital component of pain management. However, chiropractors may also encourage other approaches, such as massage therapy, yoga and making lifestyle changes, all of which can be highly beneficial. Once again, the treatments used and the benefits gained will vary with each individual, which is why it is important to be in a proactive, communicative relationship with your chiropractor.

Have you ever experienced any type of back pain? If so, we’d like to hear about what you did to relieve it…did you go to a chiropractor, an osteopath or a physio…or did you just take some painkilling tablets or rub in a cream? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

 

Mum Was Right…Sit Up Straight As It Helps Prevent All Sorts Of Things

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Remember when you were little, your mum was always telling you to “sit up straight”? As usual, mum was probably right, as research in America recently warned that bad things can happen to your body if you sit for too long.

High Blood Pressure

Prolonged sitting has been linked to high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol, and people with the most sedentary lifestyles are more than twice as likely to have cardiovascular disease than those with the least.

Dr Wen Oates DC MChiro of Lagos Health Chiropractic & Wellness Clinic in Portugal says, “If most of your sitting occurs at a desk, craning your neck forward towards the keyboard, or tilting your head to cradle a phone while typing, can strain the cervical vertebrae and lead to instabilities”.

Think Twice Before Stretching For That Cuppa

“Furthermore, spines that don’t move become inflexible and susceptible to damage in everyday activities, like reaching for a cup of tea or bending down to tie up shoelaces. When we move around”, says Dr Wen, “the soft discs between the vertebrae expand and contract like sponges, soaking up fresh blood and nutrients. When we sit for a long time, those soft discs are squashed unevenly and lose their sponginess”.

Always Listen To Your Mum…And Dr Wen!

So what can we do? Dr Wen suggests sitting on something wobbly (like one of those big fitness balls), or a backless stool to force your core muscles to work. “If you’re sitting in your home office, try not to lean forward, keep your shoulders relaxed, asit up straight to avoid back pain and other problemsnd keep your arms close to your sides with your elbows bent at about 90 degrees. Ensure your lower back is supported by your chair or use a rolled up towel to do the same job. But don’t sit for too long – stand up every half hour or so and walk about”.

If you’d like to find out more about chiropractic care for you or members of your family, look at our other website pages. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

Nancy’s boots were made for walking…and posture

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Walking is for people of any age, as it can be done anytime and anywhere…and with minimal risk to injury. All you need are comfy walking shoes (or boots) and perhaps a sense of adventure!

It’s an activity that can be built into daily routines, whatever your age or level of fitness.  Just 30 minutes brisk walking a day can help you to maintain and improve your health. It strengthens your body and helps position the spine in the natural shape it was designed for – being upright. Research has also shown that walking can reduce the risk of heart disease and strokes, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and even relieve tension and stress.

Start Slowly

Of course, it can be challenging to make regular walking part of your lifestyle, so start slowly and try to build a walking regime gradually.  To get the best health benefits, it needs to be moderate-intensity aerobic activity (a bit faster than a stroll), where you can speak, but not SING, the words to your favourite song (plus, of course, singing out loud in public can look and sound a bit strange!).

All together now…”You keep saying you’ve got something for me”

These boots are made for walking'...plus helping your posture and keeping fitSo Perhaps Nancy WAS Right…These Boots Are Made For Walkin’!

If you’re up and about early, you may well spot Lagos Health’s Clinic Director Geoff ‘power-walking’ to the beat of his favourite hits from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s on the cobbled promenade by Lagos Marina! If you DO hear him singing, please tell him to stop…because he really can’t sing that well!!!

If you live in, or are holidaying in Portugal, follow this link to make an appointment.

 

Does Inactivity Promote Brittle Bones?

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A benefit of exercise that becomes increasingly important with age is its impact on your bones. Research suggests that as mobility decreased over time, modern humans developed increasingly lighter, more brittle bones.

As reported by Times of India: “The study of the bones of hundreds of humans who lived during the past 33,000 years in Europe sheds light on a monumental change that has left modern humans susceptible to osteoporosis, a condition marked by brittle and thinning bones.

At the root of the finding is the knowledge that putting bones under the ‘stress’ of walking, lifting and running leads them to pack on more calcium and grow stronger.

walking is good exercise...and it can build strong bones‘By analyzing many arm and leg bone samples from throughout that time span, we found that European humans’ bones gradually grew weaker as they developed and adopted agriculture and settled down to a more sedentary lifestyle,’ said Christopher Ruff from the Johns Hopkins University’s School of Medicine.”

So Keep Fit

If you want strong and healthy bones, weight-bearing exercises should be a regular part of your fitness routine. Bone-building is a dynamic process, and you need to exert enough force on your bones to stimulate the osteoblasts to build new bone.

Further, bone is living tissue that requires regular physical activity in order to renew and rebuild itself, so exercise needs to be a lifelong commitment. As you build more muscle, and make the muscle that you already have stronger, you automatically put more constant pressure on your bones.

Find Out More

If you live in or near Lagos, or are in the Algarve on holiday, and you would like more information on the advantages of exercise and chiropractic care, please contact Lagos Health Chiropractic Clinic to arrange an appointment.

Can I exercise with my back and neck pain?

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The use of some type of physical therapy or exercise is integral to almost all forms of back and neck pain treatment. Sometimes physical therapy and exercise are the first lines of treatment, other times it may help manage chronic pain, or provide rehabilitation after surgery. But did you know that both gentle exercise and physical therapy play a vital role in relieving pain?

Physical therapy and exercise are perhaps the most mainstream of all non-surgical treatments for back pain and neck pain. And unlike other treatments (medication, injections, etc.), physical therapy can also help prevent and/or lessen future recurrences of back pain or neck pain. Below are a few steps you can take to get pain relief from incorporating physical therapy or another kind of exercise into your routine.

  1. Find the right type of help.

Depending on your condition, you may need a healthcare professional to help you develop an appropriate list of activities to engage in and to avoid, as well as to develop and instruct you on an appropriate exercise program.

Several different types of health professionals may provide physical therapy, including physical therapists, chiropractors, and physical medicine and rehabilitation physicians.

  1. Alleviate the acute pain before you begin to exercise.

When you’re in a lot of pain, the thought of active rehabilitation and exercise can be pretty daunting. one or a combination of the following passive pain-relieving techniques (modalities) may be used:

    Electrical stimulation (e.g. TENS units)
    Heat and/or cold therapy
    Ultrasound
    Massage therapy
    Manual manipulation

Other treatments may also be needed to sufficiently reduce your pain. All of the above therapies are designed with one goal in mind: providing enough pain relief to help you progress to an active exercise program.

  1. Get others in your camp.

The common belief is that to heal back problems, those who experience pain should refrain from physical activity. Consequently, many of your friends or family may encourage you to rest if the exercise is causing you to struggle. By explaining ahead of time, they can understand how active rehabilitation is best for managing your condition. If you want support or help, you can also ask them to join you or encourage you during your exercises.

This type of plan is encouraged here at Lagos Health Chiropractic clinic, as soon as the problem is under control, movement and exercise is encouraged and we will show you how and what to do for your particular case.

Any questions, or to book a consultation, please contact Lagos Health Chiropractic on +351 282 768 044.

Preventing Back Pain in School Children

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Each school year millions of children walk to, from and around school carrying backpacks filled with books and materials. Parents should be aware that overly stressing the back with a heavy backpack could cause back pain in their child. Following a few guidelines can help avoid this type of back pain.

How Kids’ Backs Respond to Backpacks

Using a backpack allows a child to carry a number of schoolbooks and items in a practical way, distributing the heavy load across the strong back and shoulder muscles. The risk, however, is overload, which can strain the back, neck, or shoulders.

backpack with school books and pens

The back will compensate for any load applied to it for an extended period of time. A heavy weight carried in backpacks can:

  • Distort the natural curves in the middle and lower backs, causing muscle strain and irritation to the spine joints and the rib cage
  • Lead to rounding of the shoulders
  • Cause a person to lean forward, reducing balance and making it easier to fall
  • Habitually carrying backpacks over one shoulder will make muscles strain to compensate for the uneven weight. The spine leans to the opposite side, stressing the middle back, ribs, and lower back more on one side than the other. This type of muscle imbalance can cause muscle strain, muscle spasm, and back pain in the short term and speed the development of back problems later in life if not corrected.
  • A heavy backpack can pull on the neck muscles, contributing to headache, shoulder pain, lower back pain, and/or neck and arm pain.

Medical Research on Backpacks

While the medical literature on backpacks is often inconclusive, and sometimes contradictory, a review of current medical literature suggests several general conclusions:

  • Carrying heavy backpacks, or carrying them in a way that strains the back, is a frequent cause of back pain in children and adolescents
  • The back pain caused by back packs is short term (e.g. muscle strain) and alleviat
    ed with a short period of rest or reduced activity; any type of back pain that persists is uncommon and should be evaluated by a medical professional

Although there are very few studies and the medical literature does not agree on specific guidelines for backpack safety to avoid back pain, parents can use common sense to reduce the chance that their child or teen will suffer back pain due to carrying a backpack.

Look for backpack design features that help reduce the chance of back pain:

  • Lightweight material (canvas as opposed to leather)
  • Two padded, wide (2-inches), adjustable shoulder straps on the backpack
  • Padded back
  • Individualized compartments
  • Hip strap, waist belt, or frame to redistribute the weight of the backpack from the shoulders and back to the pelvis
  • Consider using a separate bag for the child’s laptop or other heavier electronic items

Teach your child how to properly load and wear the backpack to avoid back pain:

  • Always use both shoulder straps and wear the backpack on the back rather than over one shoulder
  • Pack heaviest objects into the backpack first so they are carried lower and closest to the body
  • Fill compartments so that the load is evenly distributed throughout the backpack and items do not shift during movement
  • Pack sharp or bulky objects in the backpack so they do not contact the back
  • Adjust the straps to fit the backpack snugly to the child’s body, holding the bottom of the backpack 2 inches above the waist and keeping the top just below the base of the skull; do not carry the backpack low near the buttocks
  • Lift the backpack by using the leg muscles and keeping it close to the body, not by bending over with arms extended
  • Do not lean forward when walking; if this is necessary, there is too much weight in the backpack

Maintain a mindset to watch the weight carried in the backpack to reduce back pain:

  • If the child complains of discomfort, reduce the weight in the backpack immediately
  • Consider applying a guideline backpack weight limit as a percent of the child’s body weight. The American Physical Therapy Association suggests 15-20%; the American Chiropractic Association advises 5-10%
  • Coach your child to carry only those books needed in the backpack, leaving unnecessary items at home and making frequent trips to his/her locker during the day
  • Train your child to clean out the backpack at least once a week

Become a Proactive Parent on the Issue of Backpacks and Back Pain

  • Ask your child if they feel any back aches or pain
  • Help your child choose the smallest backpack that will meet his/her needs
  • Talk to teachers about how to minimize the need for children to transport heavy books back and forth daily in their backpacks; keep one set of books in the classroom for daily work while leaving heavy books at home; make photocopies of homework chapters and assignments that are easily carried
  • Attend PTA meetings and discuss any proposal by school administrators to remove lockers or to reduce time between classes making it difficult to store unneeded books and materials

Help for Back Pain

If you have any concerns or questions regarding anything mentioned here, feel free to contact us at Lagos Health Chiropractic Clinic on 282 768 044.

Good Posture – It’s Not Just To Look Good

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Good posture – head up, shoulders back, rear tucked under – and light bracing of key areas in the body, such as the abdominals, plays a key role in your spinal health, helping to prevent back and neck pain and even injuries to spinal structures. If you have a spinal condition, try to be aware of your posture and make good posture part of your normal routine.

If you suffer from back pain, you may consciously or subconsciously adopt an unnatural posture to try to limit movements that you fear will create potential pain. However, unless there is a fracture or other serious problem, try not to take on an unnatural or stiff posture.

Be on the lookout for any of the following possible warning signs of poor posture:

  • Back pain that is worse at certain times of the day or week
  • Pain that starts in the neck and moves downwards into the upper back, lower back and extremities
  • Pain that goes away after switching positions while sitting or standing
  • Sudden back pain that is experienced with a new job, a new office chair, or a new car
  • Back pain that comes and goes for months

If any of these warning signs apply to you, take note of your posture, seek help to identify the problem and areas that may need work, not only to reduce or manage the symptoms but help identify the cause. At Lagos Health Chiropractic Clinic we will identify and treat your problem and advise on the best way to manage it. Call us on +351 282 768 044 to book an appointment.

Discomfort from Text Neck is nothing to LOL about

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Reading and sending text messages and emails on a mobile device all require an awkward downward tilt of the head for extended periods of time. This can lead to a condition that popular and medical media are calling TEXT NECK.

Heavy Burden

The human head weighs about the same as a tenpin bowling ball at about 5 kg (12lbs). But as the neck bends forward and down, the weight on the cervical spine begins to increase. At a 15-degree angle, this weight is about two bowling balls (12kg or 27lbs) and at 45 degrees it’s almost four balls (22kg or 49lbs).

text neck and how to avoid neck painThat’s the burden that comes with staring down at a smartphone. Over time, this poor posture  can lead to severe neck and upper back pain, as well as choking the nerves of the neck leading to tingling in the fingers. It could also lead to degeneration of the spine and perhaps surgery.

And It’s Becoming More Common

Smartphone users spend, on average, two to four hours a day hunched over reading e-mails, sending texts or checking social media sites. That’s 700 to 1,400 hours a year that people are putting stress on their spines. And for teenagers, it’s worse – they are spending an additional 5,000 hours in this position!

“It’s extremely common.” says Dr Wen Oates of Lagos Health Chiropractic. “Just look around you – everyone has their head down…on the street, in restaurants and at home.”

Not Just Youngsters

“But now, it isn’t only young people.” says Dr Oates. “The older, retired generation are sitting up in bed at night reading their Kindle or tablet for several hours. In recent months, I’ve seen more and more patients complaining of neck and shoulder pain that has developed solely from prolonged, late-night ‘mobile-technology’ reading”.

Some Good Advice

“Be aware of the position of your head. Instead of bending your neck, try to look down at your device with your eyes, or try holding the screen close to eye level. To relieve pain, exercise your neck muscles and improve the range of movement of your neck, you can try gently moving your head to its end-range up and down, turning left and right, and bending side to side a few times every day.

Continue to enjoy your smartphone and tablet…just make sure your head is upright!”

Why have I got neck and back pain…and can a chiropractor help me?

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Did you know that more than 2 hours’ of continuous sitting is considered a mild spinal strain? Long hours of sitting still can jeopardize your lumbar spine and can even be felt in the middle-back and neck. You feel neck pain and back pain as a result of the curves in your spine straightening, which, over time, deform and damage the ligaments and discs in your spine that are meant for support.

Furthermore, you put the surrounding muscles under undue strain, only adding to the pain. Unfortunately, long periods of sitting are becoming more commonplace in today’s computer age and are linked to increased back and neck pain.

Get Off The Sofa

This process begins all too early in life. So maybe it’s time to ask: “How many hours a day do I spend sitting?” Back pain usually strikes well after the problem first began. So, is it time for you to get off the sofa and get your spinal alignment checked by a qualified and registered chiropractor?

lagos health chiropractic can treat neck pain and back pain from poor sitting position

How to avoid neck pain and back pain

In the meantime, here are some things to think about:

  • You should adjust your seat so that your feet are flat on the ground or on a foot rest.
  • You should be sitting with your hips higher than your knees and your eyes level with the centre of the computer screen.
  • Relax when sitting into your chair, making sure you have your bottom against the seat back and your shoulder blades are touching the back-rest of the chair.
  • Your arms should be flat and your elbows level with the desk or table you are using. Try to use a seat with arm rests.
  • Make sure you take regular breaks. Never sit at the computer for more than 40 minutes. When you take a break, walk around and stretch a little.

Get Checked Out

If you have back or neck pain, or are just feeling a slight twinge somewhere, perhaps now is the time to have a comprehensive examination by our Principal Chiropractor at Lagos Health – we promise to advise you on all posture and pain-related issues. Find us online and follow us on Facebook and Twitter…but don’t spend more than two hours at a time doing it!

Lagos Health Chiropractic Blogs can help ease your Back and Neck Pain in the Algarve, but an actual visit will help even more

PREMIER CHIROPRACTIC & WELLNESS CLINIC IN THE ALGARVE

Lagos Quiroprático Centro - LQC | Lagos Chiropractic Centre
Praceta João da Costa Reis
Lote 2
Loja 5AD
Lagos
Portugal
Email: quiropraticalagos@gmail.com
Tel: +351 282 768 044

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