AUDIO: Bad mattresses linked to back pain

One in three British people wake up with back or neck pain – and bad mattresses are the main culprit according to a poll carried out by the British Chiropractic Association.

However Rishi Loatey, chiropractor and spokesman for the British Chiropractic Association, believes changing mattresses every seven years could be the solution.

He told BBC Radio 5 live’s Breakfast: “A mattress along with a pillow should provide the correct support so that your spine is kept in a neutral position, so that we don’t get… back pain first thing in the morning.”

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Curved soles ‘do not help back pain’

Curved-sole shoes were not found to help back pain

Shoes with curved unstable soles are no better than traditional trainers for reducing lower back pain, suggests a study from King’s College London.

But previously published research has shown that the shoes can have a positive impact on posture, back and joint pain.

Medical professionals are known to regularly recommend the shoes.

The study also said normal trainers may be more beneficial for back pain brought on by standing or walking.

Shoes with an unstable curved sole are often sold as being able to help increase muscle activity, reduce lower back pain and improve posture and balance.

Physiotherapist Dr Sian MacRae, who led the research during her PhD at King’s College London, said patients were always asking her if ‘rocker sole’ footwear worked, so she decided to find out if they could improve back pain and disability.


In the study, in the journal Spine, 115 people with chronic lower back pain were asked to wear rocker sole shoes or normal trainers for at least two hours a day while standing and walking.

They also attended an exercise and education programme once a week for four weeks and wore their shoes during these sessions.

After six weeks, six months and then one year, the participants were assessed using a disability questionnaire.

At the end of the study, researchers calculated that people in the trainer-wearing group experienced a larger reduction in disability than those in the rocker sole group.

After six months, 53% of the trainer group showed a small improvement in their back mobility compared to 31% of the rocker sole group.

For the 59 people who said their back pain was aggravated by standing and walking at the start of the study, those in the trainers group experienced a greater reduction in disability after one year than those in the rocker sole group.

If you’re struggling from the effects of your footwear – get to The Ark to experience the benefits of a massage from Mike

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Even before injury, chronic back pain may start in the brain

Research has shown that there are clear differences that distinguish the brains of those with chronic pain from those without such pain. Chronic pain sufferers consistently show reduced volume in the brain’s gray matter, the cortical structures key to perception, movement, memory and reasoning. Researchers have also shown that compared to healthy patients, the brains of chronic pain sufferers are wired differently, in ways that suggest that physical sensations and emotional responses are bound more tightly together.

But are those brain differences a response to chronic pain — the brain’s response to the experience of months or years of physical misery? Or do those differences predate chronic pain — nudging what for another patient would be a short-term experience of discomfort into a lifelong ordeal? The authors of the current study, working under a federal government initiative aimed at consolidating research on pain, devised a series of experiments designed to clarify which came first.

They did so by recruiting 46 subjects who had experienced a first episode of back pain that had already lasted four to 16 weeks, and performing regular brain scans on those subjects for a year. Focusing largely on the bundles of axons that carry nerve impulses across the brain, they found that within two months of recruiting patients, discernible differences in the structure and integrity of that “white matter” could be used to distinguish subjects whose pain persisted from those whose pain was beginning to resolve.

By the 12-month mark, the structural differences in white matter allowed researchers to distinguish — without error — subjects whose pain had disappeared from those whose pain was persistent. Compared to subjects whose pain resolved, subjects whose pain would become chronic also showed differences in the density of connections that lashed their nucleus accumbens — a central structure in the brain rewards, motivation, pleasure and reinforcement learning circuit — together with their medial prefrontal cortex, a switchboard for decision-making, emotional response and long-term memory.

Originally published in the LA Times but you can find more about it here




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Menses Pain and Excessive Bleeding Treated with Essential Oil Massage

Maternity and gynecology researchers have determined that abdominal massage with essential herbal oils will decrease pain and excessive bleeding in difficult menstruation.

Managing a painful menses with heavy bleeding is a common issue for women – especially when during periods of additional stress, early menstruation, and during pre- and peri-menopausal years. Conventional medicine has provided an array of pain medications to help temporarily alleviate pain – but some of these also come with liver-damaging and other side effects.

The researchers, from the Faculty of Nursing at Egypt’s Mansoura University, studied 95 female nursing students between the ages of 17 and 20 years old. Before the treatments began, the students were randomized and assessed during one complete menstrual cycle.

After the initial assessment, for seven days prior to each student’s menstruation period, the researchers – nursing faculty – gave each student a 10-minute abdominal massage once per day. On one group the researchers used either a blend of essential oils in an almond oil base. On the other group, they used an almond oil base without the essential oils.

The essential oil blend was made up of one-and-a-half parts Cinnamon oil, one-and-a-half part Clove oil, one part Lavender oil and one part Rose oil. These were diluted in sweet Almond oil at a 5% dilution.

The researchers used the standardized VAS-pain scale – VAS = visual analog scale – to assess the pain of each student during menstruation. The VAS uses a 0 to 10 pain scale with 0 signifying no pain. They also timed pain in hours and measured the amount of bleeding by the number of saturated pads. Each student was assessed on the first, second and third day of menstruation bleeding.

After one cycle of massage treatment, the two groups were switched – also called a crossover – and the group given the essential oil massage was given the placebo oil massage and vice versa.

In both treatment series, the researchers found that those given the essential oil massages had significantly less pain and less bleeding than the placebo group.

During the first treatment phase, the essential oil-treated group had 17% less pain than the untreated group on the first day, 20% less pain on the 2nd day, and 28% less pain on the third day tested compared to the group massaged only with almond oil. The crossover treatment phase resulted in similar pain reductions, except that the third day’s pain was 57% less than the pain scale of the placebo group.

Meanwhile the duration of pain in the first phase averaged 23.1 hours for the placebo group and only 18.6 hours for the essential oil-treated group. During the crossover treatment, the pain duration was 24.5 for the placebo group and only 19.3 for the treated group.

During the initial assessment, over a third of the students had excessive menstrual bleeding. The 75% to 95% of the essential oil-treated group that had excessive bleeding initially had average bleeding by the third day.

This study is supported by a previous study from Korea showing similar findings with essential oil massage. Here the researchers – from Wonkwang Public Health College’s School of Nursing – studied 67 female students. This study divided the students into three groups – a treated group, a placebo group and a control group (no treatment). To the treated group they gave short abdominal massages with an essential oil blend of two drops essential Lavender oil, one drop of essential Clary Sage oil, and one drop of essential Rose oil in five cc’s of Almond oil – about 1/6th of an ounce.

This study also found that menstruation pain and severity of bleeding were reduced significantly among those massaged with the essential oils.

Essential oils are extracts of herbs using a distillation method – with steam being one of the better methods used, but alcohol and other solvents sometimes being used to extract the essential oils.

The distillation process retains much of the volatile phyto-compounds contained in the plant – including those that maintain aromas. For this reason, essential herbal oils are often referred to as aromatherapy oils.

However, the terminology of aromatherapy oils can be confusing because the body responds to these essential oils in deeper ways than simply through their aroma. The volatile oils contain many compounds – sometimes hundreds – which can be absorbed through the skin into the body.

Because of this, a person may be sensitive to certain essential oils. For this reason, an essential oil should be carefully skin-tested with a tiny diluted amount prior to a larger application on the skin. And essential oil contact with the mucous membranes (mouth, nose, ears, and so on) should be done only with the advice of ones health professional knowledgeable in the use of essential oils.

Both of the above studies confirm that while massage may be useful, daily massage with carefully selected essential oils can significantly reduce a significant amount of pain and excessive bleeding in menstruation.

And this is why the use of essential oils for menstruation has been utilized for over 4,000 years in Egyptian, Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine. Because it works.

Written by Case Adams, Naturopath


Marzouk TM, El-Nemer AM, Baraka HN. The effect of aromatherapy abdominal massage on alleviating menstrual pain in nursing students: a prospective randomized cross-over study. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2013;2013:742421.

Han SH, Hur MH, Buckle J, Choi J, Lee MS. Effect of aromatherapy on symptoms of dysmenorrhea in college students: A randomized placebo-controlled clinical trial. J Altern Complement Med. 2006 Jul-Aug;12(6):535-41.

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Aromatherapy abdominal massage has a positive effect on alleviating menstrual pain in nursing students.

Dysmenorrhea is a common cause of sickness absenteeism from both classes and work. This study investigated the effect of aromatherapy massage on a group of nursing students who are suffering of primary dysmenorrhea. A randomized blind clinical trial of crossover design was used. In the first treatment phase, group 1 (n = 48) received aromatherapy abdominal massage once daily for seven days prior to menstruation using the essential oils (cinnamon, clove, rose, and lavender in a base of almond oil). Group 2 (n = 47) received the same intervention but with placebo oil (almond oil). In the second treatment phase, the two groups switched to alternate regimen. Level and duration of pain and the amount of menstrual bleeding were evaluated at the baseline and after each treatment phase. During both treatment phases, the level and duration of menstrual pain and the amount of menstrual bleeding were significantly lower in the aromatherapy group than in the placebo group. These results suggests that aromatherapy is effective in alleviating menstrual pain, its duration and excessive menstrual bleeding. Aromatherapy can be provided as a nonpharmacological pain relief measure and as a part of nursing care given to girls suffering of dysmenorrhea, or excessive menstrual bleeding.

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Aromatherapy Massage in Leigh on Sea

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The Healthy Back | Module One: The Anatomy and Physiology of Low Back Pain

This module focuses upon the anatomy and physiology of the lumbar region, sacrum, pelvis and the importance of the musculature and ligature of these regions are for preventing and reversing pains and weaknesses in these regions. This module reviews some of the research examining conventional medicine’s perspective of low back pain and how it overlooks key elements that allow clarity for the real culprits. Illustrations and diagrams show anatomy and how it relates to back health. This module is required to understand the purpose of the strategies of the following modules.

The Healthy Back for low back pain (Preview) from Realnatural on Vimeo.

Sort out your back pain

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