What is an Osteopath?22/02/2018
My Work Experience04/04/2018
So what have been the banes of my osteopathy career so far? As geeky as this may sound, it has to be the diagnosis of plantar fasciitis, achilles tendonitis, tennis elbow, hamstring tendinopathy, shoulder impingement and patella tendonitis.
If I ever think a patient may have any of these conditions, my heart sinks a little. What goes through my head is “How do I tell them that this may unfortunately take a large number of treatment sessions before it improves to a manageable level?” “How can I say, without sounding negative, if you don’t do the prescribed exercises, you won’t improve” “If you carry on doing what you’re currently doing, it’s unlikely to get better.” And unfortunately “Even if we do all this and you stick to the exercises religiously, there’s still a small chance you won’t recover until a year down the line”. It’s demoralising for the patient to hear, and as a practitioner you feel guilty that you can’t offer more relief, quicker, and you have this real want to take the pain away immediately. There are some patients who do respond quickly, and it restores faith in what we can offer for these conditions, but more often than not it can be a slog for the patient. The reason for the seriously slow healing time isn’t our treatment (promise!!) it’s predominately because tendons themselves have a very low blood supply (a tissue needs this to heal), and they are prone to developing degenerative fraying and calcification over time, whether through repetitive micro-trauma or a one off injury that didn’t recover properly.
After researching and researching over the years to find the best treatment solutions, talking to fellow practitioners from different backgrounds and specialities (who all say the same) and endless letters to GP’s begging for corticosteroid injections (which can help, but can also mask the problem by reducing the inflammation rather than treating the underlying cause, so symptoms often return months down the line), I stumbled across shockwave therapy - a process which involves far less treatment, far less time and far less disappointment…plus no needles! - Aha finally! Something that works!
The only problem with this machine, is that it’s specialist and therefore outrageously expensiveL. So after the initial excitement, I put it to one side and thought there would be something out here that worked, a new exercise, a new diet, or a new treatment technique. But I kept seeing the same conditions and the same questions cropping up “When will this get better?!”. Now I knew more about shockwave, I felt I was doing people a disservice in not being able to offer it as an option, as they don’t tend to offer it readily on the NHS, not without a fight anyway (it is recommended by the NHS, and is part of the NICE guidelines for treating these conditions, so is evidenced based). With all this in mind, and after a lot more discussion and research, we decided to invest.
The science behind why it works so well is that it increases blood supply to the area by promoting new blood vessel formation, it stimulates collagen production, reverses chronic inflammation, breaks up calcifications and helps to disperse substance P, a neuropeptide involved in mediating pain. So it not only reduces pain, but it heals the area instead of masking the symptoms.
Now that the swish new shockwave machine is finally up and running, our aim is to get as many people better, in as little time as possible, with less visits and less boring homework. I’m really hoping that we can achieve this J Happy, smiley patients are what we love to see!
So that is the story of our little shockwave addition! Pippa’s ponderings over…until next time