Fibromyalgia – A Type of Arthritis

What is Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia, otherwise known as fibromyalgia syndrome, is a chronic, long-term condition that causes widespread bodily pain, fatigue and psychological distress. Fibromyalgia is considered a rheumatic condition, insofar as it affects the connective and/or supportive structures of your body. However, unlike arthritis, which is caused by inflammation of a joint, or joints, fibromyalgia affects soft tissues and does not cause inflammation or damage to the affected areas. For example, fibromyalgia should not be confused with polymyalgia, or polymyalgia rheumatica, a type of arthritis characterised by severe inflammation, pain and stiffness in the muscles of you neck, shoulders and hips. According to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), approximately five million adults in the United States, between 80% and 90% of whom are women, suffer from fibromyalgia. In Britain, the National Health Service (NHS) estimates that up to 4.5% of the population, or 2.8 million people, are affected, to some degree, by fibromyalgia. However, in the absence of a specific test for the condition, which has symptoms in common with numerous other disorders, fibromyalgia remains difficult to diagnose.

Symptoms of Fibromyalgia

The symptoms of fibromyalgia resemble, and are often confused with, those of arthritis. Aside from widespread pain in the muscles, including those in the face, and the connective tissues that cover them, fibromyalgia is characterised by extreme, delibilatating fatigue and irregular sleep patterns, which interfere with your normal day-to-day activities. Other physical symptoms of fibromyalgia include increased sensitivity to light, sound, touch and changes in temperature, headaches, including migraine headaches, and irritable bowel syndrome, which manifests itself as bloating, stomach pain and diarrhoea. Fibromyalgia sufferers also frequently report numbness and tingling in their hands and feet and a unpleasant crawling sensation in their legs, technically known as ‘restless leg syndrome’, at night. Mentally, fibromyalgia can cause confusion and difficulties with concentration and memory, colloquially known as ‘fibro fog’. All symptoms of fibromyalgia can range from mild to severe and can be permanent, semei-permanent or temporary.

Causes of Fibromyalgia

The causes of fibromyalgia are still not fully understood, but the condition is believed to be related to changes in brain chemistry and the transmission of pain signals to the central nervous system, which causes suffers to become oversensitised to painful stimuli. Fibromyalgia is not a hereditary genetic disorder, inasmuch as it is not passed directly from parents to children, but a history of fibromyalgia in your immediate family significantly increases your chances of developing the condition. Indeed, fibromyalgia may occur without any obvious cause, but may also be prompted by physical and/or emotional trauma, including, but not limited to:

  • chronic autoimmune diseases, such as inflammatory arthritis and lupus
  • injury or infection
  • childbirth
  • surgery
  • bereavement
  • depression

Unfortunately, there is no known cure for fibromyalgia. However, a combination of treatments, including medication, cognitive behaviour therapy and lifestyle changes, such as exercise, can be employed to effectively treat the symptoms. Over time, most sufferers of fibromyalgia learn to manage their condition.

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The Critical Importance of Social Distancing While Outside

Social DistancingThere is no doubt that the recent COVID-19 outbreak has taken the world by storm. As we edge yet closer to more than five million cases across the globe, the concept of social distancing is even more important now than ever before. This is why it is quite ironic that some leaders have not yet endorsed the appropriate actions. The simple fact of the matter is that social distancing can (and has) saved lives. This is why it is crucial to appreciate the positive impacts that social distancing can have in regards to halting the spread of coronavirus. Let us take a look at some basic principles and their effects upon disease transmission.

What is Social Distancing?

Social distancing is simply the act of avoiding coming into close proximity with others who may or may not be infected with coronavirus. The most recent medical guidelines recommend that individuals keep at least tow metres apart while out and about (the approximate length of a broom handle). This will help to reduce the chances that airborne germs could spread; especially within confined spaces such as a small retail shop. However, social distancing while outdoors is just as prudent.

Why is Social Distancing While Outdoors so Important?

Many studies have shown that droplets which contain coronavirus can remain suspended in the air for appreciable lengths of time. As the viruses themselves are able to survive for relatively longer than other infections diseases, this makes COVID-19 even more potentially dangerous. The best way to substantially reduce transmission rates is to therefore keep at least two metres away from others. Let us also keep in mind that it may be up to 14 days before an individual begins to show any symptoms. Thus, they could very well be actively carrying the virus while remaining asymptomatic. It is always better to be safe than sorry.

How to Embrace the Proper Distancing Habits?

Many individuals will find it difficult to adhere to the recommended social distancing guidelines. This makes a great deal of sense, as humans tend to enjoy close social contact such as hugging and shaking hands. Unfortunately, such actions will only serve to hasten the spread of this virus. This is why adopting a handful of habits is a good idea. Here are some suggestions to keep in mind:

  • Proactively monitor how close you are to others while out and about.
  • Try to avoid large groups of people.
  • If possible, perform your shopping during hours of the day not associated with long queues.
  • Do not hesitate to politely ask someone to move back if you feel that they are too close.
  • Encourage distancing while at home in order to become accustomed to the basic mechanics.

Embracing the proper techniques will help to keep transmission rates low and as a result, life can begin to return to normal. We are all responsible for our actions, so never take the notion of social distancing lightly. Bradford House looks forward to seeing you soon.

 

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Keeping Active at Home During Lockdown

Keeping Active at HomeStrictly speaking, ‘lockdown’ is not a scientific term, but describes any of the unprecedented social distancing measures implemented, globally, to slow the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, which force people to stay at home. Keeping active is paramount to keeping yourself refreshed, invigorated and level-headed but, with fitness studios, gymnasiums, leisure centres and swimming pools closed, doing so without exposing yourself or others to potential infection can pose a significant challenge. However, even if you are confined to your home for most, if not all, of your time, there are various ways in which you can avoid an inactive, sedentary lifestyle and preserve your physical and mental health and well-being.

Structured Exercise

In the absence of home gym equipment, such as an exercise bike or treadmill, if you want to follow a structured exercise programme while remaining indoors, you should be looking for a selection of cardiovascular and strength training exercises that you can perform without equipment in a confined space. Thankfully, you have plenty of viable options and, if you are at a loss as to where to start, video sharing sites, such as Youtube and Vimeo, offer a plethora of instructional classes, many of which are available free-of-charge. Calisthenics, for example, are exercises that rely solely on your own body weight and require little or no equipment. Calisthenic exercises, such as burpees, or squat thrusts, crunches and pushups, promote coordination, endurance, flexibility and strength, yet can be performed almost anywhere. Other options include pilates and yoga, although it is fair to say that the vast majority of pilates exercises involve equipment that may not be immediately available in your home. By contrast, classic yoga, which seeks to achieve the same ends as pilates, in terms of developing your balance, flexibility and posture, albeit by different means, requires no equipment at all. Much like pilates, yoga emphasises the connection between your physical and mental health. Aside from physical poses, or ‘postures’, which develop flexibility and strength, yoga teaches controlled breathing, meditation and/or relaxation, which can quieten your mind and help to reduce your stress and anxiety levels.

Other Activities

Keeping Active at HomeA structured exercise programme is one way, but by no means the only way, of keeping physically active during lockdown. Even short bouts of physical activity, say, 10 or 15 minutes at a time, can make a difference to your . Of course, if possible, a short walk outside, if only for irregular shopping trips, provides a splendid opportunity for physical activity, not to mention the additional benefits of fresh air and sunshine, subject to the vagaries of the weather. Failing that, walking or marching on the spot or engaging in any leisurely activity, including dancing to music or playing with children, is better than doing nothing. Walking up and down the stairs, too, will improve your agility, cardiovascular fitness and strength. Even everyday domestic tasks, such as dusting, vacuuming, doing laundry or taking out rubbish can contribute, in their own small way, to your physical fitness and peace of mind.

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Effective Exercises to Strengthen Your Lower Back

Exercises Your back has an extremely complex muscle group. As a result, it should come as no surprise that countless individuals suffer from lower lumbar pain from time to time. It has been estimated that at least 80 percent of all adults will deal with discomfort in their back at least once in their lives. Whether referring to transient pain or more serious issues such as sciatica, it is important to adopt a handful of strengthening exercises in order to help alleviate any discomfort that you may be feeling. Let us therefore examine some techniques that will offer up results if practised on a regular basis.

 

Curl Ups

Possessing a strong core will help to alleviate any pressure placed upon the muscles of your lower back. Curl ups are an excellent exercise to incorporate and if performed correctly, they can produce impressive results. Here are some tips to follow during the routine:

  1. Lie down on your back. Extend one leg and bend the knee of the other leg.
  2. Put your hands under the lower back to maintain the natural arch of your spine.
  3. Pull your head, shoulders and chest off the floor, as though they were all locked together. Lift them up as one unit. Keep your back in neutral position. Don’t tuck your chin or your head back. Hold for 10 seconds.
  4. Slowly lower yourself down. Do half of the repetitions with your left leg bent and half with your right leg bent.

 

Side Bridges

  1. Exercises Lie on your side, with your forearm on the floor and elbow underneath your shoulder. Place your hand on the opposite shoulder to stabilise your torso. Pull your feet back so the knees are at a 90-degree angle.
  2. Lift the hips off of the floor and hold for 10 seconds. Try to maintain a straight line from your head down to your knees. Make sure that your hips are in line with the rest of your body. When completed turn over to other side.

 

The Bird Dog

  1. Assume a hands-and-knees position on the floor.
  2. Raise the left arm forward while simultaneously extending your right leg back until both are parallel to the floor. Ensure that hips are aligned with the torso and not tilted to one side. Hold for 10 seconds. Repeat on the other side.

Exercises

The low-impact nature of these three exercises is ideal if you have been suffering from lower back pain.

Still, it is always wise to consult with a specialist in order to determine if any special recommendations may apply. If you deal with chronic back pain, please do not hesitate to contact your health professional to see if these exercises are suitable for you.

Relief could very well be much closer than you may think.

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Your “Straight-Up” Guide to Good Posture

Good PostureMaintaining the proper posture has more benefits than you may think and ironically, relatively few of us can appreciate the correct techniques. Poor posture can result in lower levels of flexibility, a decreased range of motion, improper balance, and an increased risk of developing chronic conditions such as lower back pain. Whether the result of bad habits or other issues such as weak core muscles, the fact of the matter is that there are a number of steps which can be taken if you wish to improve your posture and increase mobility. Let us therefore take a look at some professional recommendations.

Tips When Sitting Down

Many individuals are forced to sit for long periods of time every day (such as those who work within an office environment). If you do not adopt the correct seated position, long-term posture problems are virtually inevitable. Here are a handful of physical habits to incorporate into your daily routine:

  • Try not to cross your knees or ankles. Instead, keep both feet firmly planted on the floor.
  • Relax your shoulders and avoid hunching forward when typing or on the phone.
  • Create a 90-degree angle between your elbows and forearms when seated.
  • Use a cushion or a similar support system if the chair is unable to support your lower back.
  • Look straight forward in order to avoid placing excess strain upon your neck.

Taking short breaks is also a wise policy to adopt. Ideally, try to stand up and walk around at least ten minutes every hour.

There are additional suggestions if you wish to remain comfortable within the workplace. For example, use a hands-free telephone in order to reduce neck strain. Opt for a standing desk if sitting causes a significant amount of discomfort. Make certain that you have an ergonomic chair and keep accessories such as keyboards and mouses within close proximity so that you are not overextending your reach.

When Standing and Walking

Maintaining the proper posture is just as important when not seated. The good news is that many of the same principles alloy. Be sure that you distribute your body weight evenly (so that one leg does not favour the other). Once again, make certain that your shoulders are even and not inadvertently hunched forward. Keep your chin parallel to the floor and do not arch your spine in an unnatural manner.

There are also many exercises which can be used to help you obtain the proper posture. Those which focus upon the abdominal region will strengthen your core muscles over time; providing your lower back with additional support. It is also wise to watch yourself in a mirror when performing any balance-related exercises, as you will be able to tell if your posture is correct. Much like any habit, good posture will require both patience and commitment.

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What Is a Migraine

migraineA migraine usually feels like an intense, debilitating headache, but much worse. It is a neurological condition, often accompanied by other symptoms. The frequency and intensity of migraines are different from one person to the next and are found in women more often than men.

Migraines commonly run in families and can affect people of all ages. They can begin at a very young age or may not surface until adulthood. Some of the symptoms include sensitivity to light, nausea, vomiting, numbness, or difficulty speaking.

According to the International Headache Society, a headache can be classified as a migraine when the pain is throbbing, moderate to severe, aggravated by movement, and associated with nausea, sensitivity to light, and lasts for more than four hours.

Other symptoms commonly associated with migraine include:

  • sensitivity to smell
  • confusion
  • trouble concentrating
  • seeing bright zigzag lines or flashing lights for no apparent reason
  • an overall unwell feeling
  • diarrhea
  • stiffness in the neck and shoulders

Migraines generally reoccur over several years or even decades. During this time, the frequency and severity vary greatly.

Migraine Triggers

Just about anything can set off a migraine. Triggers are many and varied and not necessarily the same for every person or every attack. Often, it may take a combination of triggers to set one off.

Common Triggers Include:

  • missed or unsubstantial meals
  • caffeine withdrawal
  • certain types of wine, beer or alcohol
  • chocolate
  • fermented dairy products or certain types of cheese
  • citrus fruits
  • monosodium glutamate (MSG)
  • bright sunlight or flickering lights
  • strong odors, such as perfume, smoke, gasoline or particular food
  • daily stress
  • travel-related stress
  • changes in the weather
  • menstruation
  • ovulation
  • certain oral contraceptives
  • viruses
  • lack of sleep
  • too much sleep

Existing Migraines

Prevention is always the best medicine but for those who have suffered migraines over a long period these things may help.

At the first sign of a migraine, stop what you are doing, if at all possible. Find a dark, quiet place to relax and rest, sleep if you can.

Hot or cold compresses applied to the neck or forehead often help. A warm compress can soothe the aches and pains; alternately, the numbing effect of an ice pack can help to dull the pain. Hot temperature therapy with heating pads, blankets, or a long hot bath can relax tense muscles.

Keep Track of Your Migraines

Keeping track of your migraines may help to prevent an attack or at least lessen the severity. Pay close attention to what you were doing when the migraine started. Think about what might have triggered it. What did you eat? How much sleep did you get? Did anything unusual or stressful happen? When did it start, how long did it last, and what helped provide relief? Over time, you may see a pattern emerge, which can help you prevent an attack before it becomes too unbearable.

Trying to avoid migraine triggers is generally the best thing to do. However, some studies show that this practice may actually increase sensitivity and subconsciously increase the risk of potential triggers. A more practical approach may be to learn to cope with these triggers. Strive for balance in your life. Dealing with migraines can be a challenge, but healthy lifestyle choices might help.

Keep in mind that migraines may also be caused by an underlying condition such as a pinched nerve. Your health professional can help with this.

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How Can Cold Weather Affect Your Joints?

jointAnyone who suffers from arthritis is likely aware of how weather conditions can impact their joints. This is particularly the case when temperatures begin to drop. Although some individuals are even able to predict future changes, it is also interesting to note that no single scientific reason has been found in regards to why the cold has a tendency to cause symptoms of arthritis such as pain and stiffness to increase. Let us quickly examine some theories associated with the roots of this causal relationship before moving on to highlight a handful of potential treatment options.

What Might Cause the Cold to Worsen Arthritic Symptoms?

One of the most common beliefs is that a drop in barometric pressure will lead to pain. This is quite logical, as falling pressure causes the joints to expand; placing additional pressure upon nearby nerves. It is also a well-known fact that barometric pressures will often drop in advance of a cold front.

Another issue involves a heightened level of pain sensitivity within areas of the body such as the hips, knees and fingers. Cold weather can increase perceived levels of pain, so it only makes sense that those who suffer from arthritis are more likely to notice symptoms during the autumn and winter.

Cold temperatures also increase the viscosity of fluids (such as those found within the joints). As a result, they are unable to flow freely and their role as a shock absorbing substance is not as effective. This is often why cold weather will often trigger arthritic pains within the knees sand hips.

Finally, we need to take into account the lifestyle changes that often accompany colder weather. Individuals are less likely to remain physically active when the temperatures begin falling. Thus, habits such as daily exercise and running may be postponed until the spring and summer. Lower levels of physical activity have already be identified as one of the causes of increased arthritic pain.

What Types of Treatment Options Should be Considered?

There are several treatment methods worth considering. One of the most effective is said to be Cryotherapy. This process will often substantially reduce levels of perceived pain in arthritis sufferers and provide them with a greater degree of mobility. However, it should be noted that this is not a cure. It is merely meant to alleviate short-term symptoms. Some additional options include trying to remain warm at all times and using compression bandages or braces in order to prevent excessive swelling. It could also be wise to seek the advice of professional chiropractors and physical therapists, as these individuals will often develop targeted exercise and/or rehabilitation programmes based around the needs of the client in question.

Unfortunately, millions of people are negatively affected by cold weather. The good news is that there is no reason to remain suffering in silence. If you are curious to learn more about available options please contact your Health Professional.

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Reducing Arthritis Risks

Arthritis Joint Pain is common, but it’s not well understood. It is in fact not a single disease; it’s a term used to refer to all sorts of pain in joints from osteoarthritis. There are over a hundred types of different joint pain related conditions and one of the most common, and painful is Arthritis. Arthritis has been regarded as an inherent part of the process of ageing, as well as a signal to patients that it is time to slow down.

What is Arthritis?

Arthritis is a long-term autoimmune disorder that mainly affects your joints. Rheumatic diseases include over 100 conditions, such as psoriatic arthritis, osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia and gout. Although it often starts in middle age, and it’s more prevalent in the older generation, children and young people can suffer from rheumatoid arthritis as well. RA causes stiffness, swelling, pain as well as loss of function in your joints.

Can you prevent Arthritis?

Arthritis There’s no sure way of preventing arthritis. However, you can help to reduce your risk of osteoarthritis and delay the possible onset of some types of other types of joint pain. If you have healthy joints, do everything you can to ensure that you maintain mobility and function. This will help you avoid the pain and disability.

There are other things you can do to help decrease your risk of arthritis.

  • Diet– Eat a healthy diet that is low in sugar, purines and alcohol and include fish high in Omega 3 in your diet.
  • Exercise – exercise strengthens the muscles around your joints, and this helps protect from additional wear and tear.
  • Weight – Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight puts an unnecessary strain on your joints.
  • Stay safe – if you play sports make sure you have all the right equipment to help prevent injury. At work or at home, make sure you there are no risks around you like broken equipment and unsafe surfaces.
  • Protect your joints – make sure you are not lifting things without bending your knees. If you work at a desk, make sure you are sitting with the correct posture. If you are sitting for a long period, make sure your arms and legs are well supported.

 Prevention

Because scientists do not fully understand the mechanisms and causes of these diseases, true prevention appears to be impossible. However, if you are suffering from arthritis or feeling pain in your joints, be sure to see your health professional. There are many ways they may be able to help you manage the pain and show you how to reduce risks in your daily activities.

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A Quick Look at the Causes and Symptoms of Vertigo

vertigoMost of us experience dizzy spells from time to time. Caused by situations such as generalised disequilibrium or anxiety, such feelings are transient and will normally resolve themselves without the need of any medical intervention. However, vertigo is another situation which must be differentiated from dizziness. Not only is it associated with a number of unique causes, but professionals will often base their diagnosis off of your symptoms. Let us first take a look at the causes of vertigo before examining the associated symptoms as well as when you should seek help.

What Causes Vertigo?

Most physicians feel that vertigo is generally caused by a condition known as benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BBPV). We will be focusing upon BBPV for the sake of this article. BBPV is rooted within the inner ear. Tiny calcium carbonate crystals contained within this portion of the ear canal can become dislodged on occasion. They then migrate to the semicircular canals where an interaction with nearby nerves can cause an intense dizzy sensation. It is interesting to note that up to ten per cent of the population will experience this form of vertigo at least once in their lives.

Examining Some of the Most Common Symptoms

It is important that you are able to rule out other conditions when determining whether or not vertigo is present. In many cases, you may feel an intense dizzy sensation if you happen to suddenly turn over while laying down. This is a short-lived feeling; lasting for 30 seconds or so before quickly subsiding. Some of the other symptoms which you may experience on occasion can include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • A generalised feeling of imbalance or unsteadiness
  • A feeling that static objects around your are moving when they are completely still

There can also be times when your eyes move in an abnormal fashion while experiencing an attack. This is known in the medical community as “nystagmus”. We should note that vertigo can accompany related conditions such as hearing loss.

When Should You See a Doctor?

In the majority of cases, vertigo is not normally a medical concern. However, it is wise to seek the advice of a professional if dizziness prevents you from walking or causes you to fall down. It is likewise important to highlight that those who experience a rapid onset of severe symptoms should seek out advice. This is particularly the case if you have concurrent medical conditions such as high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease or you are over the age of 80.

There are several treatment options available and these will depend upon your specific symptoms, so the good news is that most cases of vertigo can be alleviated with professional help.

 

References:

1. https://www.cochrane.org/CD003162/ENT_the-epley-manoeuvre-for-benign-paroxysmal-positional-vertigo-bppv
2. https://www.cochranelibrary.com/cdsr/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD005397.pub4/abstract
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Drinking Water and Your Health: An Inextricable Link

Drinking Water A sizeable percentage of the human body is comprised of water and it only makes sense that this universal element is essential for our daily existence. From aiding in numerous cellular processes to enabling our brains to send messages to our limbs, water is absolutely critical. However, there are several benefits which you might find a bit surprising. What other roles does water play and why is it important to obtain the proper amount in order to stave off a host of health problems? Let us take a closer look at this undeniably important topic.

The Circulatory and Cardiovascular Systems

As you may have already guessed, water is a vital nutrient to keep our blood flowing properly. Anyone who is not adequately hydrated can place a great deal of strain upon their heart and arteries, as thicker blood is more difficult to pump. This is one of the reasons why one of the results of improper hydration can be high blood pressure and in some cases, myocardial infarction (a heart attack).

Brain Function

Anyone who has ever suffered from a hangover is well aware of the “hazy” feeling that often accompanies other symptoms such as a headache and dizziness. This arises from the fact that water is absolutely vital to maintain the function of our brain and the peripheral nervous system. Drinking plenty of water on a daily basis will help to elevate your mood and keep you alert. It may even stave off emotional issues such as anxiety and depression.

Muscular Advantages

Water acts as a lubricant throughout the muscles and joints. This is why cramping can often occur if you happen to become dehydrated (such as after a long run in the summer). Maintaining adequate levels of hydration will help to ensure that your muscles remain flexible and supple. In the same respect, water helps to cushion your joints and to protect them over time. So, drinking plenty of this elixir is vital to help avoid soreness and injuries.

Forever Young

Water also plays a very important role in regards to the health and appearance of your skin, hair and nails. The cells within the dermis and epidermis rely upon water to maintain their elasticity. In other words, consuming the proper amounts of water can help to minimise the appearance of lines and wrinkles as you age. You can also avoid conditions such as split hair ends and brittle nails.

Weight Loss Advantages

Drinking plenty of water can help you to drop those excess kilos. Not only will water cause your stomach feel fuller, but it increases the metabolism of your body. This signifies that you can burn more calories throughout the day; a welcome benefit if you are concerned about obesity.

These are only a handful of the benefits associated with hydration. As our bodies are comprised of approximately 60 per cent water, it only makes sense that we receive plenty on a daily basis.

 

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