Sacroiliac Joint Pain
Many of us have experienced lower back pain at some point in our lives. Whether that is after a fall, running or simply sitting down for too long most days. SIJ is short for ‘sacroiliac joint’, and SIJ pain contributes to around 15-30% of back pain. But most of us don’t know much about it, so today we are delving into SIJ pain and how we can help!
What is the SIJ?
The SI joints are located either side of the lower spine, in between your pelvis, specifically, they connect the sacrum to the iliac bones — hence the name sacroiliac! The joints themselves are pretty immobile and only allow for a few degrees of movement, BUT they serve an important purpose as shock absorbers. They also help reduce the pressure on your spine by distributing weight across your pelvis, so it’s important that your back pain is diagnosed correctly!
What causes SIJ pain?
SIJ pain or SIJ dysfunction occurs when the SI joints are inflamed and are either restricted or moving too much. If they are restricted, they may be stuck in a slight rotation from their ideal position, which can wreak havoc on your pelvis and the rest of your body. SIJ pain could be triggered from:
- Injury or trauma, such as a fall or car accident.
- Persistent impact from running or climbing stairs.
- Loose ligaments due to hormones in pregnancy.
- Abnormal walking patterns.
- Certain medical conditions such as arthritis.
- One leg being shorter than the other.
SIJ pain is typically felt in the lower back and buttocks, but can also present around the hip, groin and extend down the leg to the knee. It usually feels like a sharp, dull or a stabbing pain. In most cases, SIJ pain is typically felt on one side of the body but may present itself in both joints as well (but this is much less common).
Other common symptoms are:
- Difficulty sitting for long periods of time.
- Feeling of instability in the pelvis.
- Difficulty sleeping on the affected side of the body.
- Increased pain when walking or running.
- Pain with certain movements e.g. sitting to standing, bending, twisting.
We can help!
Sacroiliac pain is often misdiagnosed as another back injury, so we will perform a thorough examination to ensure we correctly diagnose and treat your body. This may involve checking where your pain is located, your posture, how you walk and even muscle strength.
Once correctly diagnosed, we can use a range of soft tissue massage and manipulation (if needed) to help release tight muscles and realign the pelvis. This will also be accompanied by some stretches and strengthening exercises for your glutes and core muscles.
In some instances, we may recommend a sacroiliac belt to help stabilize the area, especially when the joint is moving too much and is very painful (commonly seen in pregnant women when their ligaments begin to relax).
If you are currently experiencing SIJ pain, we recommend avoiding running and limiting movements that inflame the joints, such as lifting and jumping. Even sports such as cycling and golf may cause pain and discomfort.
Below are a couple exercises to try at home to strengthen your core and glutes:
Bridge: Lie down on the ground with your knees bent and feet on the floor. Place your palms either side of your body and slowly raise your hips. Hold for 5 seconds, then slowly lower your hips. Repeat 8-10 times.
The bird dog: Start on your hands and knees, make sure your hips and shoulders are square and you are looking towards the floor. Slowly extend one arm and the opposite leg. Hold for 5 seconds before releasing down and changing to the other arm and leg. Repeat 8-10 times.
If you think you may be suffering from SIJ or lower back pain and want to avoid experiencing it in the future then give us a call on (416) 546-4887to book your appointment!
- Dydyk, AM., Forro, SD., Hanna A. 2021. Sacroiliac Joint Injury, StatPearls, Treasure Island (FL). Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK557881/
- Yeomans, S. 2018. Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction (SI Joint Pain). [Online]. Available from: https://www.spine-health.com/conditions/sacroiliac-joint-dysfunction/sacroiliac-joint-dysfunction-si-joint-pain [Accessed 24 Nov 2021]
- 2013. 6 Best Sacroiliac Joint Pain Exercises, and 5 to Avoid. [Online]. Available from: https://www.braceability.com/blogs/articles/sacroiliac-joint-pain-exercises [Accessed 24 Nov 2021]
- Danisa, O. 2018. Exercise for Sacroiliac Joint Pain Relief. [Online]. Available from: https://www.spine-health.com/wellness/exercise/exercise-sacroiliac-joint-pain-relief [Accessed 24 Nov 2021]
- York Morris, S. 2018. Is Your SI Joint Causing Your Lower Back Pain?. [Online]. Available from: https://www.healthline.com/health/si-joint-pain#treatment [Accessed 24 Nov 2021]
The Nervous System
Have you ever wondered what makes our bodies do what they do? Why we move, talk, breathe and everything in between? Well, there is one system of the body that is primarily responsible for driving all those things… your nervous system.
What is the nervous system?
The nervous system is a complex collection of nerves and other nerve tissues that intertwine and interact with all the other 10 systems of the body. Even though it is found throughout the whole body, it equates to less than 5% of the total body mass, making it one of the smallest systems of the body. This is hard to get your head around when you consider there are billions of nerve cells (aka ‘neurons’) that make up the system. It’s mind-boggling stuff!
The nervous system is made up of two main parts:
- Central Nervous System (CNS)
- Peripheral Nervous System (PNS)
Central Nervous System
The CNS is made up of the brain and spinal cord. The brain is housed inside the skull and connects to the spinal cord through a hole in the base of the skull. The spinal cord runs down the centre of the body and is protected by the spinal column, which is made up of numerous vertebrae (the bones of the spine). The main roles of the CNS include:
- Processing incoming sensory information from inside and outside the body
- Sending out commands to the muscles to contract
- Sending out commands to glands to release hormones
- Acting as a control centre for emotions, thoughts and memories
Peripheral Nervous System
The PNS is made up of all the other nervous tissues that sit outside of the CNS. The nerves that travel from the brain (i.e. cranial nerves – of which there are 12 pairs) and spinal cord (i.e. spinal nerves – of which there are 31 pairs) to the rest of the body and back again make up a large part of the PNS. There are also various other types of nervous tissue that form this system.
The PNS is further broken down into the following parts:
- Somatic Nervous System (SNS) – Also referred to as the ‘Voluntary Nervous System’ which controls the voluntary movements of the body.
- Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) – further broken down into sympathetic and parasympathetic divisions (the parts of our nervous system that control our ‘fight or flight’ and ‘rest and digest’ responses, respectively)
- Enteric Nervous System (ENS) – relating to the gut
All the above subdivisions of the PNS have a sensory part which transmits information to the brain and spinal cord, and a motor part which transmits information to the body to drive an action. For example, the motor part of the SNS drives contraction of our skeletal muscles allowing our bodies to move. Whereas the motor part of the ANS drives contraction of smooth muscle (found in the arteries and the gut) and cardiac muscle (our heart muscle). The main difference being, the SNS works on a voluntary basis as mentioned above (i.e. we choose to move our arm), and the ANS works on an involuntary basis… it is automatic (or autonomic, hence the name) and all actions occur without us choosing or even really knowing about it (i.e. our heart beating). Cool, huh?!
Functions of the nervous system
OK, so we’ve just thrown A LOT of info at you, but hopefully you are starting to see how the nervous system is made up and what jobs it is responsible for. The main overriding job of this system is to control the internal conditions of the body so it can function correctly. We move, we talk, we breathe… and everything in between!
If you’re a visual person and need to see or read a real-life example, then think of the nervous system as working like this:
- You are standing at a pedestrian crossing and the green figure lights up with a corresponding beep. The sight of the light and sound of the beep stimulate receptors in the eyes and ears. This is sensory
- This sensory information is then relayed to the brain and processed, and a decision is made on what to do (this is actually known as integration, if you really want to know).
- The brain then decides which muscles to contract to allow you to walk across the crossing to the other side of the road and signals them to move. This is the motor
So just remember… sensory, processing and motor, and you have the basic functions of the nervous system under wraps!
Interested in learning more about the body? It’s fascinating! If you are keen to learn more about what we do, or even move into the field of osteopathy, please do come and chew our ears off next time you are in. Our fantastic profession is always on the lookout for new talent. And you get to spend your life learning about all the cool things the human body can do, as well as helping people reach their full potential! What’s there not to love!
- Chila, A. 2011. Foundations of Osteopathic Medicine. 3rd Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
- Tortora, G. and Derrickson, B. 2011. Principles of Anatomy & Physiology. 13th Asia: John Wiley & Sons.
Five foods you should try
Getting bored of the food you eat day in, day out, week after week?! Well lucky for you we have some suggestions for you to help spice up your shopping list and keep you healthy into the festive period (where we’re all likely to pig out and indulge on chocolate, desserts, and cake… and chocolate… and cake… what’s that? We’ve already said chocolate and cake once? So sorry, we can’t quite hear you through all the chocolate and cake!)
- Truffles: OK stay with us. Everyone knows truffles are pretty pricey! We don’t dispute that, but they are starting to become more readily available. And they taste GREAT! We appreciate they are a type of fungus, which might put a lot of people off, but seriously, you should give this little golden nugget a try if you can. Considered a complete source of protein and boasting a host of other health benefits (including having antioxidant, antibacterial, and anticancer properties), this is a must for your shopping list at some point. Black truffles are the most affordable kind, but there are various types on the market. Not sure you want to spend the money? Try a truffle oil first (much more affordable) to see if it sets your tastebuds alight.
- Spirulina: Most commonly sold in powder form, spirulina (an algae) is considered by many to be the most nutrient rich food on the planet. It is packed with antioxidants, vitamins, protein (another source of a complete protein) and iron. You can enjoy this one mixed with just water or added to your morning smoothie. Get ready for the green!!
- Hemp seeds: Don’t be alarmed. Yes, hemp seeds come from a cannabis plant, but rest assured they won’t leave you feeling paranoid or have brain altering effects. They are a rich source of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, fibre, have antioxidant properties, and are great for the brain, heart and skin. Simply sprinkle over yoghurt, breakfast cereals or salads.
- Insects: By no means a commonly consumed food in a western diet, insects have been consumed in many cultures across the world for centuries. If you can see past the fact you are eating a creepy crawly, these crunchy treats are full of protein and are a nutritious alternative to many meats. And are considerably more sustainable. Go on… give them a go. We hear crickets and mealworm are particularly good options if you’re adventurous (just do your research before picking up bugs willy nilly).
- Dark chocolate: Okay, on a more serious note – this one we know you can find in your local supermarket. We know there is a good chance you have tried dark chocolate at some point in your life, but considering the silly season is nearly upon us, we couldn’t resist. And there is no denying, dark chocolate trumps it’s milk and white counterparts in every possible way. Cacao seeds (used to make dark chocolate) have incredibly high antioxidant properties. This year, give yourself a healthier treat and choose the dark side. We don’t think you’ll ever go back!
So, there you have it. Five (or should we say, four?) foods you should definitely try this festive season. Enjoy a healthy Christmas this year and you’ll be starting the New Year feeling great!
Merry Xmas everyone!!
- Healthline. 2018. 6 Surprising Health Benefits of Truffles. [Online]. Available from: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/truffles. [Accessed 09 November 2021]
- Healthline. 2018. 10 Health Benefits of Spirulina. [Online]. Available from: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-proven-benefits-of-spirulina. [Accessed 09 November 2021]
- Medical News Today. 2018. Health benefits of hemp seeds. [Online]. Available from: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323037. [Accessed 09 November 2021]
- Payne, C. et al. 2016. Are edible insects more or less ‘healthy’ than commonly consumed meats? A comparison using two nutrient profiling models developed to combat over- and undernutrition. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 70. 285-291. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4781901/pdf/ejcn2015149a.pdf
- Crozier, S. et al. 2011. Cacao seeds are a “Super Fruit”: A comparative analysis of various fruit powders and products. Chemistry Central Journal. 5 (5). Available from: https://bmcchem.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1752-153X-5-5#citeas
Arthritis: Osteo- or Rheumatoid?
Arthritis’ is an umbrella term used to describe any condition that affects the joints of the body and is derived from ‘arth’ meaning joint, and ‘itis’ meaning inflammation. Something a lot of people do not realize is there are over 100 different types of arthritis.
Here’s a quick-fire guide to two of the most common types of arthritis… Osteoarthritis (OA) and Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). These conditions are often mistaken for each other in the general population but are two very different conditions.
OA is a chronic, progressive condition that commonly affects the spine, hands, hips, knees, and ankles. Its main feature is the breakdown of the cartilage that lines the ends of bones in a joint. The underlying bone and surrounding muscles, ligaments and tendons also become affected and gradually degenerate over time. This condition is often referred to as ‘wear and tear’ of a joint, but more accurately it is result of the body trying to constantly repair itself due to excessive strains being placed on the joints due to poor stability and movement of the body.
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
RA is a chronic, autoimmune disease that commonly affects the hands, feet (i.e. small joints) and spine. This condition is driven by the body’s immune system attacking its own tissues. This leads to widespread and permanent degeneration and destruction of the joint tissues, and a characteristic deformity of joints, particularly those of the fingers and toes. RA is a body-wide condition that also affects the nerves and organs of the body, including the heart, lungs and eyes.
Who does it affect?
OA can affect people of all ages but is more common in those aged 45 years and over, and is most common in people who are 75 years and above. People who are overweight and obese are more likely to develop this condition, and there is more chance of having this problem if there is a family history. Injury and repetitive day-to-day movements are also contributing factors.
RA is also most common in those aged 75 and up. The onset of this condition usually occurs anywhere between the ages of 35-65. There is a strong genetic link with this disease, so if there is history in your family, there is a higher chance that you will also develop this condition.
Both conditions affect women more than men.
Signs & symptoms
Both OA and RA share the following joint symptoms:
- Inflammation and pain
- Loss of function
There are some differences in presentation though. Whereas OA usually affects joints on one side of the body, RA commonly affects both sides at the same time. OA is also more likely to affect the larger joints like the hip and knee, whereas RA most commonly affects the small joints of the hands and feet.
As already discussed, RA also affects other systems of the body, so you are more likely to experience symptoms relating to the nerves, heart, lungs (and other organs) and eyes with this condition.
As it stands there is no cure for either condition. There are treatments for both conditions which help to manage and slow the progression of symptoms.
OA is best helped by leading a healthy lifestyle, keeping your weight in check, moving regularly and well, and staying in touch with your osteopath on a regular basis 😉. Seriously, osteopathic treatment is a safe and effective way of managing joint pain relating to OA, so we highly recommend coming in for a consultation so we can put a plan in place and help you manage the condition going forward. You don’t have to do this alone! We can also help to advise on the use of movement aids, including the use of walking sticks, frames, braces and orthotics.
If you have been diagnosed with RA, it is likely you will be under the care of a rheumatologist who will help you to manage your condition medically alongside your GP. RA also requires you to stay flexible and strong, so exercise is an important part of your treatment. Osteopaths can also help people with RA. We can work with you to ensure your joints move well so you can retain function into your later years. Naturopaths can help with nutrition and supplements, as well as acupuncture and advise.
Do you have a diagnosis of arthritis? We are your people! Call us today on (416) 546-4887 to book your consultation with one of our osteopaths or naturopath or go to beachealth.janeapp.com
- Arthritis Australia. 2021. Osteoarthritis. [Online]. Available from: https://arthritisaustralia.com.au/types-of-arthritis/osteoarthritis/. [Accessed 12 Sep 2021].
- Arthritis Australia. 2021. Rheumatoid arthritis. [Online]. Available from: https://arthritisaustralia.com.au/types-of-arthritis/rheumatoid-arthritis/. [Accessed 12 Sep 2021].
- Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. 2021. Osteoarthritis. [Online]. Available from: https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/chronic-musculoskeletal-conditions/osteoarthritis/contents/what-is-osteoarthritis. [Accessed 12 Sep 2021].
- Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. 2021. Rheumatoid arthritis. [Online]. Available from: https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/chronic-musculoskeletal-conditions/rheumatoid-arthritis/contents/what-is-rheumatoid-arthritis. [Accessed 12 Sep 2021].
- Arthritis Foundation. 2021. Osteoarthritis. [Online]. Available from: https://www.arthritis.org/diseases/osteoarthritis. [Accessed 12 Sep 2021].
Concussion, aka ‘mild traumatic brain injury’, has been the topic of much research and discussion between health professionals in recent years. It is a particularly important topic amongst practitioners who treat sports people on the field and in the clinic setting. Although concussion in sport is a common occurrence, anyone with a head can get concussion… so that’s everyone then!
What is concussion?
Concussion is the word used to describe a minor head injury that is usually sustained by either:
- A blow to the head (e.g. hitting your head during a fall or being hit on the head by an object)
- Your head going through a sudden change in direction (e.g. during a car accident or a quick change in direction on the sports field)
During a trauma, the force sustained to the head causes the brain to move and hit the inside of the skull. This leads to inflammation and damage to the nerve tissue of the brain. This can affect the function of the brain in many ways and can lead to a wide variety of symptoms. The symptoms depend on what part of the brain and other body parts (i.e. the neck and other parts of the spine) are affected.
Who gets it?
Concussions are very common in sports people, especially those that partake in contact sports like boxing and football (any form), or a sport that leaves a person susceptible to a fall (i.e. cycling, skiing / snowboarding and horse-riding). Anyone who hits their head, or has their head thrown around during a sudden movement can become concussed. Car accidents are common causes in the general population where whiplash type injuries can lead to the brain being thrown back and forth inside the skull.
Signs and symptoms
Concussion can lead to a wide range of signs and symptoms, including any combination of:
- Loss of consciousness (30 minutes or less)
- Amnesia (i.e. an inability to recall what has happened / memory loss)
- Persistent low-grade headaches
- Dizziness, vertigo and loss of balance
- Brain fog
- Nausea and vomiting
- Visual disturbance (blurred vision or seeing stars)
- Light and noise sensitivity
- A blank / vacant look on the persons face
In the majority of cases, symptoms will come on quickly or at least within the first few hours after the injury occurs.
It is unlikely you will see an osteopath in the immediate aftermath of a head injury, unless you are a sportsperson who is under the care of an on-field osteo. After a head knock, if someone is suspected as having a concussion, it is normal procedure to see a medical professional (i.e. a GP or on-site osteo / physio) to be checked out. Severe impacts may require hospitalization. In mild cases, once the treating practitioner is happy that symptoms are stable, you will usually be sent home to rest and recover. Many people feel okay at this point and are keen to return to playing, but this should be avoided because the consequences of a second head injury can be much more severe. The best and only thing you should do at this point is follow your doctor’s orders!
A mild concussion usually recovers within two weeks, but symptoms can persist for some people for weeks or months following a head injury. If this occurs, this person is said to be experiencing post-concussion syndrome. These symptoms should resolve with time, but again, they can persist in some people.
Once you are in that stable stage of a concussion, it is fine to seek out the help of your friendly neighbourhood osteo. Osteopathic treatment has been shown to be an effective and safe treatment option for people suffering from stable concussive symptoms. A blow to the head can start off a chain reaction around the body and may have immediate effect on the function of the spine and shoulders. We can assess and treat these dysfunctions to get you through your concussion safely and in as little pain as possible.
Concussion? We can help you today! Please call and speak to us on (416) 546-4887 if you need more information on concussion or are unsure our treatment is right for you.
If you wanted to schedule an appointment to have your concussion assessed and treated click here
- Brain Foundation. 2021. Concussion. [Online]. Available from: https://brainfoundation.org.au/disorders/concussion/. Accessed 11 Sep 2021.
- Brain Foundation. 2021. Understanding concussion: a bump on the head or something more serious? [Online]. Available from: https://brainfoundation.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/Concussion-Fact-Sheet-Recent-News-1.pdf. Accessed 11 Sep 2021.
- Yao, SC. et al. 2020. Effectiveness of Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine vs Concussion Education in Treating Student Athletes With Acute Concussion Symptoms. Journal of Osteopathic Medicine. 120(9). 607-614. Available from: https://www.degruyter.com/document/doi/10.7556/jaoa.2020.099/html.
- Chappell, C. et al. 2015. Assessing the Immediate Effect of Osteopathic Manipulation on Sports Related Concussion Symptoms. Osteopathic Family Physician. 7(4). 30-35.
- Zwibel, H. et al. 2018. Concussion Evaluation and Management: An Osteopathic Perspective. Journal of Osteopathic Medicine. 118(10). 655-661. Available from: https://www.degruyter.com/document/doi/10.7556/jaoa.2018.144/html.
Sun Damage & IPL Treatments
We all hope you had an amazing summer. Did you put that sunscreen on diligently? Did you sometimes forget and now you are seeing signs of sun damage: wrinkles, brown spots, freckles, red/blotchy skin, rosacea flares?
IPL, or Intense Pulsed Light, is a proven and effective treatment for turning damaged skin into radiant younger looking skin. IPL improves texture, tone and color of your skin.
At Beachealth, we have the latest technology of IPL with cooling system to ensure comfort and safety. The machine delivers light deep into the skin which is absorbed by the target tissue without damaging the surrounding tissue. This ensures no downtime and allows you to return to your daily routine right after the treatment.
We provide a complimentary initial aesthetic consult where we determine if you are a good candidate to receive IPL treatments. If interested please book online at beachealth.janeapp.com or call 416.546.4887
We also offer Hair removal, skin resurfacing, body contouring and skin tightening treatments.
Seasonal Affective Disorder
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression related to changes in the season, usually relating to a decrease in sun exposure during the winter months.
Your internal clock (circadian rhythm) may be disrupted by the decrease in sunlight. Serotonin drops when there is a reduction in sunlight, this can cause depression. Melatonin is also affected by this change in sunlight and therefore sleep can also be disrupted.
The most common signs/symptoms include feeling depressed, losing interest in things you once enjoyed, low energy, sleep disturbances, changes in weight, changes in appetite, feelings of hopelessness and in severe cases having thoughts of death or suicide.
If SAD is left untreated it can lead to further problems such as social withdrawal, substance abuse, worsening other mental disorders or suicidal ideation.
If you have changes in mood in the early months of fall, you should get a full evaluation by a health care practitioner which would include a physical exam, psychological exam and lab tests.
As this disorder can vary in severity the treatments also vary. For mild conditions, light therapy and mindfulness techniques may be recommended. As for more severe presentation, psychotherapy or medication/supplements may be recommended.
If you feel you may suffer from SAD and would like more information on the evaluation and treatments you can book with Dr. Matthew Pace, ND
COVID-19 Check In
I think we can all agree it’s been a particularly rough 18+ months since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the world. It’s safe to say that we’ve all been affected in some way, whether it be through changes to work, finances, isolation, having to home-school the kids, or worst of all, losing a loved one. We wanted to take this opportunity to check in, say a big hello, and send best wishes to each and every one of you who are taking the time to read this message.
We know that lockdowns and isolation come with their fair share of baggage, and people respond to them in different ways. Some people become depressed and anxious at the prospect of not being with their loved ones. Others may enjoy the slowing down of life that a lockdown may bring. Either way, it can easily take its toll on you, whether that be quick, or progressively over a long period of time. Whether you are reading this having recently come out of (or gone into) a lockdown or period of isolation, it’s good to take a step back and have a long and hard think about how you may have been (or are still being) affected by it all.
You may think of us as the people you go to when you have a sore back or neck, and whilst that may be true, we are able to offer so much more than just hands-on and movement therapy. It’s a well-known fact that to be 100% healthy, you need to be physically and mentally well, and have a solid, social environment around you that offers you support.
To try and battle some of the negative effects that may have come about over this pandemic, this little check-in from us is designed to give some prompts about some aspects of life that may have fallen (or are continuing to fall) by the wayside as a result of lockdown. You can take as little or as much as you want from it, but even if you take just one point and act on it, it could make a huge difference to your life.
Do you need psychological support?
We’re going right into the deep end with this. Rates of depression and anxiety have increased dramatically during the pandemic, especially in adolescents and young adults. Are you feeling low? Alone? Have you asked your kids if they are OK? You or a family member may need some psychological support. Don’t ignore these feelings. Go straight to your doctor or a local psychologist or counsellor and get the help you deserve, today. We mean it, make this a priority.
Are you being kind to your body?
Nutritionally and physically? Diet and exercise are a key part to leading a fulfilling and healthy life. Lockdowns and increasing rates of mental health problems can open doorways to bingeing on fast foods that are extremely comforting, yet incredibly full of unhealthy fats and sugars. Put your foot on the brake and steer yourself away from diabetes and heart disease by cramming your diet full of nutrient-rich plant-based foods including fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. We’re not saying don’t eat meat, we’re just saying keep it fresh and clean and predominantly… plant-based.
Bingeing on fast foods is one thing, bingeing on TV shows and movies is a growing problem. We love a good show as much as the next person, but as the saying goes… all in moderation. Days on end in front of the flat-screen watching season after season of your favourite period drama may seem appealing, but your body will be crying out for movement. Noticed some pains and pangs creeping in? Feeling sluggish? Get yourself out, in the garden if necessary, and get moving. Squats, lunges, step-ups, jumping-jacks, jogging on the spot and many other exercises can all be performed in a space of about 2-3 square metres! You’ll feel great for it, we promise you that.
Lastly… have you been having a lot of coffee and alcohol? Remember, our bodies are 60-70% water. We need to feed our bodies water because we are unable to create it ourselves. Whilst we get some water from the food and drinks we consume, we need to ensure the majority of liquid we consume each day is fresh water. Our tip is to have a reusable water bottle with you each day, sip regularly each hour and re-fill as required. Don’t let yourself get thirsty. If you are thirsty, your body is letting you know you are dehydrated.
Are you allowing yourself to relax each day?
There are no rules for this, but we all need to wind down each day. Home-schooling the kids or back-to-back household chores is tiring and demanding on the body. What gets you into your chill-zone? Maybe some calming music, a walk along the beach, a puzzle, reading a fantasy novel, building Lego or colouring in? Whatever brings down the stress levels for you, always ensure you allow yourself to do it, each day. It’s easy to put it off until tomorrow. But don’t. You need it.
You may be thinking you have read all of this before, and you probably have. But are you following this advice? It’s well-known information, but many people do not follow this advice. Be different. Be healthy. Be the best version of yourself. And you’ll be truly happy and healthy. Stay strong out there, and as always, be safe.
P.s. If you do have a sore back or neck, please get in touch today… (416) 546-4887.
- Hawes, M. et al. 2021. Increases in depression and anxiety symptoms in adolescents and young adults during the COVID-19 pandemic. Psychological Medicine. 1-9. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7844180/
- Harvard Health Publishing. 2020. How much water should you drink? [Online]. Available from: https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/how-much-water-should-you-drink. [Accessed 17 Aug 2021]
Imaging and Low Back Pain
If you’ve been alive on planet Earth for any amount of time, chances are you have experienced back pain at some point. 84% of adults experience back pain at some stage of their life according to research. In some cases, pain may come from an obvious source, a fall on an icy surface or a sport related injury. For a lot of people, however, pain can sneak up and appear for unknown reasons.
It’s only natural and logical to want to know why the pain is there and what caused it so you can avoid it in the future and hopefully correct or remedy the current issue. You would imagine that the use of medical imaging, such as X-Ray, MRI, CT scan etc. would be useful in this scenario. But what if the opposite was true. According to research this is absolutely the case for low back pain.
It turns out that imaging the back in hopes of diagnosing a pain causing issue produces many false alarms.
Signs of spine degeneration, including disc herniation are present in very high percentages of healthy people that don’t experience pain at all. These changes seen in imaging (degeneration and herniation) are best understood as just a part of the normal aging process of everyone.
Getting an MRI or X-Ray for back pain can give patients the idea that their back might be broken, crooked, out of place or fragile. When in fact most backs all contain these features. This can produce a lot of fear and prevent people from partaking in activities and exercise and may make their pain worse.
The reality is that low back pain can be greatly multifactorial, and the one or two “abnormalities” (but likely normal changes) found on imaging are just one small factor in a complex situation involving a patient’s habits, beliefs, stress factors, biomechanics, injury history etc. that can contribute to their pain.
Imaging such as MRI and X-Rays can be important and very useful, but it is now recommended that when dealing with back pain, imaging be reserved for severe and persistent back pain where there is weakness in the extremities or where cancer or an infection is suspected.
Osteopaths can help make sense of back pain and explain what might be causing your symptoms. They can help relieve pain through manual therapy techniques and give lifestyle and rehabilitation advice on the best strategies to overcome it.
Speak to an Osteopath today!
Written: Jared Cox
An online investigation into the impact of adding epidemiological information to imaging reports for low back pain
Yasmin Medalian 1, G Lorimer Moseley 1, Emma L Karran 1
Iatrogenic Consequences of Early Magnetic Resonance Imaging in Acute, Work-Related, Disabling Low Back Pain Barbara S. Webster, BSPT, PA-C, Ann Z. Bauer, MPH, YoonSun Choi, MA, Manuel Cifuentes, MD, MPH, ScD, and Glenn S. Pransky, MD, MOccH
Systematic Literature Review of Imaging Features of Spinal Degeneration in Asymptomatic Populations
W. Brinjikji, P.H. Luetmer, B. Comstock, B.W. Bresnahan, L.E. Chen, R.A. Deyo, S. Halabi J.A. Turner,A.L. Avins, K. James, J.T. Wald, D.F. Kallmes, and J.G. Jarvik
Developing Resilience To COVID-19 Variants
Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, hospitals, health care workers, nurses, doctors, emergency responders and many others have been overwhelmed and under a great deal of stress. They’ve required our cooperation to limit the spread of Covid-19, prevent unnecessary deaths and to reduce the burden on our health system.
The foremost method of limiting this burden so far has involved social distancing, self-isolation, wearing masks, hand washing and sanitizing surfaces. All of which are valid and important to avoid contact and infection from the virus. But as Covid-19 variants continue to arise and evade vaccination efficacy, it is becoming clear that this virus may be around longer than we would all hope. Is there anything we can do that will reduce our chances of a serious, medical attention requiring, infection and allow us to get back to normalcy?
My hope with this post is to empower and give individuals a more active role in containing the virus and controlling their health by, first, showing the mechanisms of a viral infection and, second, the many ways lifestyle and dietary choices can help or hinder our response to it.
How does a virus work?
The mechanisms of viral infection.
- Implantation of virus at the portal of entry (in the case of COVID-19 this implantation occurs at the mucus membranes found within the mouth, nose and eyes. Specifically the ACE-2 receptors on the epithelial cells of these tissues. 1
- After the virus has implanted, it will begin to replicate
- Then the virus will spread to target organs (COVID-19 seems to affect the lower respiratory tract however there may also be multi-organ involvement. 2
- The virus then begins shedding into the environment and potentially infecting others.3 (For COVID-19 two modes for transmission exist – direct and indirect. The direct method includes transmission via respiratory droplets and aerosols when a person coughs, sneezes, shouts or talks. Indirect modes include transmission via fomites4 (picking up the virus from inanimate objects)
- Transmission through inanimate surfaces appears to be very small, and only in instances where an infected person coughs or sneezes directly on the surface, and someone else touches that surface soon after the cough or sneeze (within 1–2 hours). 5
- Outdoor risk of transmission of Covid-19 is very low. Research continues to suggest that the vast majority of transmission happens in indoor spaces; recent reviews considering data from several countries found very little evidence of outdoor transmission for SARS-CoV-2, influenza or other respiratory viruses.6,7
There are three factors that affect a virus’ ability to infect and a person and make them sick.
- Accessibility of virus to tissue, (How prevalent is the virus in our environment)
- Cellular susceptibility to virus multiplication, and
- Virus susceptibility to host defences. 3
Lockdowns, social distancing, hand washing and wearing masks, prevents our contact with the virus and reduces our risk of encountering the virus.
But what happens if we do encounter the virus? Is there a way to make our cells less susceptible to viral hijacking or ensuring our host defences (immune system) protects us more effectively?
It turns out that through our lifestyle and dietary choices we have a great deal of control in ensuring a COVID-19 infection doesn’t result in serious or critical outcome. 8
Covid-19 infection can present in a spectrum ranging from mild, moderate to severe illness. In severe cases of COVID-19 the respiratory distress comes not just from how the virus harms the infected, but from an exaggerated response of the individuals own immune system. The pneumonia which accompanies COVID-19 is not directly caused by the virus but rather through fibrosis caused by runaway cytokine storms within the respiratory system. 9
What is a cytokine storm?
Cytokines are a group of proteins that provide intercellular signaling and communication, which controls cell proliferation and differentiation alongside immune and inflammatory responses. The immune system, under normal circumstances, will respond to a pathogen with a regulated and proportionate amount of cytokines to remove the pathogen and restore homeostasis.
Failures in the body’s own feedback and regulatory processes are responsible for excessive cytokine production and can result in systemic damage that often outstrips the benefit from a ‘typical’ immune response. 8
The leading cause of death in patients infected with Covid-19 is acute respiratory distress syndrome or ARDS. It is now known that several proinflammatory cytokines will contribute to the occurrence of ARDS. 10
Risk factors for a severe infection
Poor nutritional status as well as pre-existing noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) such as diabetes mellitus, chronic lung diseases, cardiovascular diseases (CVD), obesity, and various other diseases that compromise immune function can increase the likelihood of a severe and fatal infection from Covid-19.
These diseases are characterized by systemic inflammation, leaving an individual pre-inflamed prior to viral infection. The inflammation caused by infection from the virus combined with this systemic inflammation can make a severe and medical attention requiring reaction more likely. 11
How to maintain a healthy well-functioning immune system
The good news is, adoption of healthy lifestyle, and dietary habits can have a considerable effect on improving nutrition status, reducing inflammation and preventing and even improving pre-existing conditions which can consequently safeguard us from severe viral infections.
Vaccines also appear to be more effective in individuals who fall into the normal/healthy body mass index (BMI) range for their body weight and height. 12
Below are some easy and effective strategies.
Adopt an anti-inflammatory diet
There is nothing complex or new about an anti-inflammatory diet. You don’t need to eat a variety of expensive and exotic superfoods or take a briefcase full of supplements. An anti-inflammatory diet is simply choosing whole foods consisting of whole vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and grains, healthy fats and oils, good quality protein sources, and small amounts of healthy treats. This combined with reducing consumption of refined and processed foods, including highly
processed sugar laden foods and beverages, processed meats, refined oils and deep-fried foods will be a huge step in the right direction.
A good example is found in this anti-inflammatory food pyramid.
Reduce your consumption of sugar
Poor blood sugar control, not only in people with diabetes, worsens the prognosis and increases the seriousness of COVID-19 infection.
- because a spike in blood sugar is accompanied by a large increase in inflammatory mediators.
- glycosylation – a process that can be caused by a spike in blood sugar, is needed by the virus to link onto a cellular receptor – this can favor the cellular intrusion of Covid-19, leading to higher severity of symptoms experienced.
Individuals with well-regulated blood sugar (like those who regularly exercise and eat plenty of whole vegetables and fruits) are less likely to have high levels of inflammation and reduced binding capacity for the virus. 13
Supplement with Vitamin D
Two separate systematic reviews looking at the effects of vitamin D and Covid-19 show that a vitamin D deficiency is associated with increased severity and complications from Covid-19 infection and that optimal levels can reduce inflammatory markers and the negative immunomodul
ation of the inflammatory cytokine storm caused by COVID-19. Both studies recommend acquiring optimal blood levels of vitamin D through supplementation and/or sunlight exposure in order to reduce the severity of Covid-19 infection.14, 15
Make sure you’re getting enough Omega 3
There are various benefits of omega-3 fatty acids and taking it as a supplement might be associated with the prevention of the viral entry by changing the composition of fats in the membrane of our cells. Omega-3 fatty acids, such as DHA and EPA, perform their role by being incorporated in the cell membrane and affecting the clumping of toll-like receptors and thus preventing signals that activate nuclear factor kappa B (NF-κB) a regulator of innate immunity, and help to reduce the complications of COVID-19 by producing fewer pro-inflammatory mediators.16 17
Being physically inactive greatly increases the risk for severe Covid-19 outcomes, including greater risk of hospitalization, admission to the ICU, and death for adults compared to individuals constantly meeting physical activity guidelines. 18
Respiratory viral infections, such as SARS-CoV-2, cause a systemic inflammatory response that places increased demand and substantial burden on the cardiopulmonary system.
Regular use of exercise positively affects the cardiorespiratory system allowing for greater cardiopulmonary capacity to deal with a respiratory infection and has been shown to diminish the risk for adverse outcomes. Routine exercise has also been shown to improve immune function, reduce the risk of respiratory infections and lower chronic low-grade inflammation. 19
The benefits to exercise don’t stop there. Exercise also helps you;
- Sleep better 20
- Manage blood sugar more effectively 21
- Reduce chronic pain 22
- Reduce the risk of dementia 23
Exercise doesn’t have to be going to the gym and lifting weights or going to spin class three times a week. Exercise in its most sustainable form can be doing any form of physical activity that you enjoy, such as dancing, gardening, hiking, swimming, cleaning, playing with kids or any kind of hobby that gets you moving.
Try meditating or start a gratitude journal.
In a time where our immune systems need to be functioning optimally the news and information being given by media outlets and our government institutions has been a driver for fear, stress and included instructions (social isolation) that are known to, unfortunately, reduce immune function.24
Meditation, visualization and gratitude practices can be extremely helpful at reducing the stress and fear associated with a global pandemic as well as help combat the negative effects of social isolation.
The isolation caused by repeated and prolonged lockdowns are an unfortunate consequence of the medical community’s strategy to control the virus. Fortunately the negative immune system effects of loneliness and isolation have been proven to be improved by specific meditative practices.25
Meditation has been shown to counteract at least 60% of the inflammatory mechanisms that COVID-19 triggers. This could lower the likelihood and severity of the body’s inflammatory load, diminishing the damage the body takes and accelerating the clearing of the virus.26
Improving the resilience and recovery rates of the sick in quarantine reduces the duration of their stay in the hospital and improving the immune efficiency of the healthy in isolation can reduce their likelihood of requiring hospitalization in the first place.
There are many helpful mediation/visualization apps and programs to be discovered – check out a couple of the options below
Get enough sleep
Sleep provides essential support to the immune system. Getting sufficient hours of high-quality sleep enables a well-balanced immune defense that features strong innate and adaptive immunity.
Sleep plays a role in promoting inflammatory homeostasis through its effects on several inflammatory mediators, such as cytokines. Prolonged sleep deficiency can lead to chronic, systemic low-grade inflammation and is associated with inflammatory diseases, like diabetes, atherosclerosis, and neurodegeneration.27
Immune function works in a synergistic manner with our circadian rhythm and sleep/wake cycles, where differentiated immune cells with immediate functions, peak during the wake period and undifferentiated or less differentiated cells peak during the night, when the more slowly evolving adaptive immune response is initiated.28
Implementing new behaviours and changing dietary patterns can be challenging, so start out small. Many small changes can amount to a big shift in your wellbeing.
If you would like more information on how to implement these strategies or have a health concern, contact Beachealth today.
Written by: Jared Cox
- Lu C wei, Liu X fen, Jia Z fang. 2019-nCoV transmission through the ocular surface must not be ignored. Lancet. 2020;395(10224). doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(20)30313-5
- Gavriatopoulou M, Korompoki E, Fotiou D, et al. Organ-specific manifestations of COVID-19 infection. Clin Exp Med. 2020;20(4). doi:10.1007/s10238-020-00648-x
- Samuel Baron MF and TA. Viral Pathogenesis. Med Microbiol Bookshelf ID NBK8149. Published online 1996.
- Harrison AG, Lin T, Wang P. Mechanisms of SARS-CoV-2 Transmission and Pathogenesis. Trends Immunol. 2020;41(12). doi:10.1016/j.it.2020.10.004
- Goldman E. Exaggerated risk of transmission of COVID-19 by fomites. Lancet Infect Dis. 2020;20(8). doi:10.1016/S1473-3099(20)30561-2
- Bulfone TC, Malekinejad M, Rutherford GW, Razani N. Outdoor Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and Other Respiratory Viruses: A Systematic Review. J Infect Dis. 2021;223(4). doi:10.1093/infdis/jiaa742
- Weed M, Foad A. Protocol for a rapid scoping review of evidence of outdoor transmission of COVID-19. medRxiv. Published online 2020. doi:10.1101/2020.08.07.20170373
- Arena R, Bond S, Calvo IR, et al. Shelter from the cytokine storm: Healthy living is a vital preventative strategy in the COVID-19 era. Prog Cardiovasc Dis. Published online June 2021. doi:10.1016/j.pcad.2021.06.008
- Cascella M, Rajnik M, Cuomo A, Dulebohn SC, Di Napoli R. Features, Evaluation and Treatment Coronavirus (COVID-19) – StatPearls – NCBI Bookshelf.; 2020.
- Ye Q, Wang B, Mao J. The pathogenesis and treatment of the `Cytokine Storm’ in COVID-19. J Infect. 2020;80(6). doi:10.1016/j.jinf.2020.03.037
- Zabetakis I, Lordan R, Norton C, Tsoupras A. Covid-19: The inflammation link and the role of nutrition in potential mitigation. Nutrients. 2020;12(5). doi:10.3390/nu12051466
- Painter SD, Ovsyannikova IG, Poland GA. The weight of obesity on the human immune response to vaccination. Vaccine. 2015;33(36). doi:10.1016/j.vaccine.2015.06.101
- Ceriello A. Hyperglycemia and the worse prognosis of COVID-19. Why a fast blood glucose control should be mandatory. Diabetes Res Clin Pract. 2020;163. doi:10.1016/j.diabres.2020.108186
- Pereira M, Dantas Damascena A, Galvão Azevedo LM, de Almeida Oliveira T, da Mota Santana J. Vitamin D deficiency aggravates COVID-19: systematic review and meta-analysis. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. Published online 2020. doi:10.1080/10408398.2020.1841090
- Yisak H, Ewunetei A, Kefale B, et al. Effects of vitamin d on covid-19 infection and prognosis: A systematic review. Risk Manag Healthc Policy. 2021;14. doi:10.2147/RMHP.S291584
- Hathaway D, Pandav K, Patel M, et al. Omega 3 fatty acids and COVID-19: A comprehensive review. Infect Chemother. 2020;52(4). doi:10.3947/IC.2020.52.4.478
- Hariharan A, Hakeem AR, Radhakrishnan S, Reddy MS, Rela M. The Role and Therapeutic Potential of NF-kappa-B Pathway in Severe COVID-19 Patients. Inflammopharmacology. 2021;29(1). doi:10.1007/s10787-020-00773-9
- Sallis R, Young DR, Tartof SY, et al. Physical inactivity is associated with a higher risk for severe COVID-19 outcomes: a study in 48 440 adult patients. Br J Sports Med. Published online 2021. doi:10.1136/bjsports-2021-104080
- Brawner CA, Ehrman JK, Bole S, et al. Inverse Relationship of Maximal Exercise Capacity to Hospitalization Secondary to Coronavirus Disease 2019. Mayo Clin Proc. 2021;96(1). doi:10.1016/j.mayocp.2020.10.003
- Banno M, Harada Y, Taniguchi M, et al. Exercise can improve sleep quality: A systematic review and meta-analysis. PeerJ. 2018;2018(7). doi:10.7717/peerj.5172
- Buresh R. Exercise and glucose control. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2014;54(4).
- Leung A, Gregory NS, Allen LAH, Sluka KA. Regular physical activity prevents chronic pain by altering resident muscle macrophage phenotype and increasing interleukin-10 in mice. Pain. 2016;157(1). doi:10.1097/j.pain.0000000000000312
- Ahlskog JE, Geda YE, Graff-Radford NR, Petersen RC. Physical exercise as a preventive or disease-modifying treatment of dementia and brain aging. Mayo Clin Proc. 2011;86(9). doi:10.4065/mcp.2011.0252
- Campagne DM. Stress and perceived social isolation (loneliness). Arch Gerontol Geriatr. 2019;82. doi:10.1016/j.archger.2019.02.007
- Pandya SP. Meditation program mitigates loneliness and promotes wellbeing, life satisfaction and contentment among retired older adults: a two-year follow-up study in four South Asian cities. Aging Ment Heal. 2021;25(2). doi:10.1080/13607863.2019.1691143
- Black DS, Slavich GM. Mindfulness meditation and the immune system: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2016;1373(1). doi:10.1111/nyas.12998
- Besedovsky L, Lange T, Haack M. The sleep-immune crosstalk in health and disease. Physiol Rev. 2019;99(3). doi:10.1152/physrev.00010.2018
- Besedovsky L, Lange T, Born J. Sleep and immune function. Pflugers Arch Eur J Physiol. 2012;463(1). doi:10.1007/s00424-011-1044-0