Dementia is a diagnosis that many fear, and understandably so. Watching a loved one slowly fade away is a heart-breaking experience that can leave you feeling helpless. But what if there was something that could be done to slow the progression of dementia?
As osteopaths, we can treat dementia patients and have seen remarkable changes, not only in their general state of health but also in the slowing of their dementia progression.
Our Associate Osteopath, Steve, has recently treated Tom, a patient who was diagnosed with dementia and was taking the standard recommended medication. While this medication can temporarily alleviate or stabilise some symptoms of dementia, Tom’s carer was concerned that his symptoms were getting worse.
When Tom came to see Steve, it was clear from the start that he wasn’t moving well, had difficulty breathing, and had little flexibility.
It took more than four weekly treatments before we started to see significant signs of improvement. But after the fourth week, Tom relaxed, became more aware of his surroundings, and started communicating more. His carer even noticed significant changes and improvements in Tom’s behaviour and memory, which she recorded in a weekly report.
One of the things that Steve did to help stimulate Tom’s brain was to use a pack of playing cards with striking images on the front. This not only motivated him to remember events but also helped to increase his general awareness of his surroundings and willingness to take an active part in his life again.
It’s important to take steps to prevent the onset of dementia, such as becoming physically active. The Alzheimer’s Society recommends exercises that can help keep the brain active and healthy. Don’t let dementia be a diagnosis that you fear, take action and seek help.
Dementia not only affects the quality of life of the patient, but it also deeply affects family members. As an osteopath, I have found that involving the patient’s family in the treatment process is immensely beneficial and increases the chances for a positive outcome. That’s why I teach the caregivers several home exercises as part of their daily upkeep routine for the patient. These exercises focus on increasing flexibility and improving breathing.
An example of the “home exercise set” that usually takes about 10 minutes to complete includes abdominal massage, gentle tapping around the sinus area, pulling the legs for 30 seconds, massaging the feet, and deep breathing exercises to help rebalance the body.
Tom’s carer reported on the progress after five weeks of treatment, stating that Tom was very elated and calm, watching TV with good concentration and taking an interest in the daily news at dinner. However, the carer noticed some forgetfulness and confusion in Tom in the following weeks, along with pain and stress due to external factors like a family member’s accident.
As osteopaths, we are here to emotionally support the patient’s process, and our treatment protocols should reflect that fact. In Tom’s case, Steve focused on stabilising his situation until the pain and stress subsided. We also took into consideration the correlation between stress and dementia. Stress can cause the hippocampus to degenerate, making memories harder to recall. Therefore, we tried to minimise stress and its effects on Tom’s health as much as possible.
Involving the patient’s family in the treatment process and addressing external factors like stress can significantly impact the outcome of treatment for dementia. It’s important to be mindful of these factors and tailor our treatment plans accordingly.
This is called Stress Incontinence, and you don’t need to live with it.
What is it? What can be done about it?
This is when day to day, in normal circumstances, you are able to hold your wee, and don’t leak.
But then with extra pressure or stress somewhere in your system, you are unable to hold it, and may leak a small dribble or a larger amount of urine.
This is not really a bladder problem per se, it is more a functional problem.
This means it has a far greater chance of being completely fixed with Osteopathy, and our hands on release techniques alongside rehab and specific exercises to help (this is not about squeezing), and we have a very good success rate in being able to help with this.
There will often be certain things that you do which cause the leaking.. Is it jumping, running, coughing, sneezing, laughing, or bending over? Or a few of these things?
So what can we do to help and how do we do it?
First we need to find out your individual reasons for the leaking. You are leaking with added pressure. So this means that the closure mechanism of the urinary bladder and the support systems (muscles/fascia/connective tissue) cannot go the extra mile to tighten quickly or with extra force or stress.
At our first appointment we will assess your whole body.
Some of the things that we are looking for which can cause or affect stress incontinence :
💜 Posture and gait.
💜 Spine, hips, feet, and pelvic position and mobility.
💜 Whether you have balance in the glute muscles, hips and spine muscles, and myofascial chains through your body.
And much more…
We will then treat these areas using hands on Osteopathy and give you breathing techniques, abdominal exercises, postural advice and more, to help readdress the balance.
Pelvic floor and internal release work?
As Women’s Health Osteopaths, we can then use internal techniques to check the tone of the pelvic floor muscles, assess for scar tissue, and any pulling of the organs like the bladder, cervix and urethra.
Stress incontinence is often caused by birth, and what our bodies go through.
The urethra, bladder and cervix can get pulled over to one side or another.. This displaces our functional bladder closing system. So often I find the urthera and cervix can be pulled off to the left, commonly after birth this is palpated.
When this happens, our body cannot deal with the increased pressures so well, as nothing is stacked up quite as it should be, and it is all a bit off balance. This can be as a result of birth trauma, or baby just pushing things around as it makes its way out, or by ligament tension and strain. There can often be a super tight tension pattern on some of the pelvic floor muscles which will also impact this, and cause further stress incontinence.
So by helping the body get back into balance again, we can help you get ‘leak free’, ditch the pads, and enjoy life without worrying that you may leak just by coughing, or going to the gym. Definitely time to do a HAPPY DANCE!!!!!
We use both external and internal techniques to help, but it is completely up to you which approach you would like and are happy with.
It really is a game changer.
So let us to help you.
We will find out your individual cause of stress incontinence (everyone is different), and then address the true cause and give you exercises to do to help you longer term get strong. And no, this isn’t going to be kegels!!!! Functional, whole body exercise, and breathing techniques, core exercises and Squats, can all be wonderful at keeping your body leak free.
Any questions at all, please feel free to email us or DM us.
We really are passionate about helping you get back to just wearing knickers with no worries!!!
Thanks for reading, Jo. 🙂
Jo Day is the founder and principal osteopath at Herts Osteopathy, St. Albans, with an extensive background in exercise, pilates and rehab, and post graduate specialism in Women’s Health Osteopathy and education.
We hope it helps you to heal more optimally, and helps prepare you for what your body needs during the postnatal period, the support you need personally, and some top tips to help you recover as best as you can.
– Spend 5 minutes every day lying down on your back, gently lifting your tummy off the scar, to allow it to breathe. To get some space and some air. You can also start to stretch one, then both arms over your head to help improve the elasticity and mobility, gently stretching the tummy and fascia from your finger tips, through your chest, tummy to your scar. By pointing your toes away you can also get a lovely stretch all the way down below the scar too.
– Avoid wearing tight high waisted leggings. It will affect how your body handles pressures, healing, and your breathing mechanism postnatally. Try for a softer material, cotton, and not too tight.
– To help reduce increased pressure in the abdomen and pelvic floor, use a step to put your feet on when you need to go for a poo, to help reduce straining.
– Place your hands around your lower ribs, and focus on breathing here, into your ribs, to help your diaphragm and ribs move well for optimal healing. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. We have a video on breathing for healing, so check out our instagram videos for this.
– Walking is key to healing. Start on day 1 by aiming for 5 minutes, at whatever pace your body can handle. This will be VERY SLOW….And that’s ok! Try to do this walk on your own if possible, so someone else is pushing or carrying baby. You can then build this up each day. Try to aim for 20 minutes to 30 minutes walking each day by week 2. In the early days you may find it more beneficial to try 5 minutes in the morning, then 5 minutes later on. This can be really helpful.
-You can start using oil to gently massage your scar once it has closed and the stitches have come out. Start above and below the scar, then build up to gentle circles along the scar. Circling in towards the scar rather than away. Even from day 1 you can gently place your hands on your tummy, and then start to touch your scar, and the area around it. More stimulation of the skin around the scar will help the healing process too, so gently massaging your lower tummy softly or touching the scar with soft pieces of fabric, gently sweeping them around the area of the scar can be great to help the sensation come back.
– Prepare for 4 weeks of support to avoid you having to do too much lifting. 6 weeks if you have a toddler or older child too.
– Avoid picking up car seats/ older child/ buggy for at least the first 3 weeks. After this, try to breathe out when you lift, so you are helping your abdominal and pelvic floor muscles to work in the right way.
– Try to avoid carrying your child on your hip. This significantly affects the healing process as it puts your pelvis, lower back, hips and upper back into an imbalanced place. This can have a greater effect as your body is trying to heal at this time.
– Avoid any crib which is completely ‘next-to-me’, because you don’t have the space to get up from lying properly. The best way to get up from lying postnatally, especially after a C-section is to turn onto your side, bend knees then drop your legs off the bed, feet on the floor, then push up with your arms to get up into a sitting position. When you lay in bed and just twist to pick up your baby for a feed, then twist back, it places a lot of pressure on the abdomen, and ribs. It can also affect the healing of the mid-line (diastasis recti).
– Try to sit on both buttocks evenly when you are sitting down, and propped up well so you are not in a deep chair or slumping. If you are feeding your baby, use as many pillows as you can so that you are not bent over your baby too much. See a lactation consultant if needed to help you. I often find that prolonged sitting after a C-section can feed into more coccyx, sacrum and lumbar spine pain and issues. We can help with this through osteopathy, but sitting more upright, and getting up every 30 minutes can be helpful for this. We also have a postnatal coccyx pain blog post on our website, and you may find this really helpful.
– Cranial Osteopathy is fantastic for babies.
Cesarean section births mean that they have not been exposed to the forces of the birth canal, which means that sometimes they need a little help. They also may have been in the birth canal a while or had a bit more of a stressful birth if it was an emergency section, so a Cranial Osteopathy appointment can be wonderful to help balance them post birth, identify any issues that there may be with digestion or feeding, sleeping, and help you with this too.
– Plan for your postnatal osteopathy appointment. After a C-section, the best time to come in is anytime from 3 weeks. Postnatal osteopaths are specialised in helping your body to heal optimally after birth. This means assessing your scar, and pain you may be in. Pelvic pain and coccyx pain, and aches in your tummy and lower back are quite common postnatally. We can help with this, as well as assessing your scar, and checking for any diastasis recti (separation of abdominal muscles), and pelvic floor dysfunction. We do see pelvic floor dysfunction and leaking after C-section as the incision in the abdominal wall and uterus, can affect bladder function, and also pelvic floor function. So we can help with this too. We are happy to help with absolutely anything and everything postnatal.
We really hope you have enjoyed this blog and that you have found it helpful. Please feel free to contact us with any questions.
Please also take a look and follow us on FB and IG. Regular blogs, vlogs, hints and tips.
Coccyx pain is really common postnatally, after birth and sometimes for a long time after birth. Although this is not a normal part of the postnatal period, and you really don’t have to live with it. Often called coccydynia (which just means coccyx pain), this can present itself as pain on the tip of the tailbone as you sit down, or for prolonged sitting, and then many can experience it at its worst when getting back up from sitting. You will feel it differently depending on what is causing and driving your pain.
I have decided to write this blog, as I have had a number of women come to see us with coccyx pain, and not knowing why they had it, what they could do, or that osteopathy can help with this. It is not a normal part of the postnatal period, and can absolutely be helped. Below you will see I have given you some information about the condition and why you may get pain at your tailbone, but I have also included a COCCYX PAIN HELPSHEET, and also some information on postnatal osteopathy and what we do.
The coccyx is the anatomical name for your tailbone, and often there can be disruption to the sacrum too (just above the coccyx).
As you can see on this picture by the amazing @duvet_days, the coccyx is the end of your spine, and it connects to the rest of the pelvis through the sacrum and the sacroiliac joints. It is surrounded by ligaments and an overlying connective web called fascia. Your entire pelvic floor attaches to the coccyx in some way, so there are deep connections through the whole pelvis, which can be affected by movement and forces below, from the foot up, and then above, from the head down.
The coccyx can commonly be injured or disrupted during birth, this is far more common with labours where you are lying on your back, or in the semi-sit position particularly, labours that have been going on for a long time, prolonged pushing, or with epidural, episiotomy, forceps and ventousse deliveries.
During labour the lower back (lumbar spine), sacrum and coccyx have to move and tip to allow baby to engage and then come out. Therefore anything which prevents this from happening ie. lying on your back, can cause the coccyx and sacrum to get stuck in its position, and drag through the associated ligaments and soft tissues. This causes pain and dysfunction in this area.
Scar tissue as a result of episiotomy or pelvic floor and perineum damage and tears, can also cause coccyx pain. The altered load, strain or damage through the Pelvic Floor is a huge contributor to coccyx pain.
The pelvic floor attach from the pubis at the front to the sit bones and coccyx at the back, and therefore any disruption to this hammock of muscles, ligaments and fascia will cause an altered push or pull or strain to the coccyx. I often find imbalances through the pelvic floor are a big contributor to sacrum and coccyx pain.
If you had PGP (Pelvic Girdle Pain) during pregnancy which wasn’t addressed, then this can also feed into coccyx pain postnatally, because the compensation we do through the body which cause PGP, or that we do because of having PGP, can also cause altered load through the pelvis as a whole, and can significantly affect the healing process.
So what can be done? The answer is POSTNATAL OSTEOPATHY 💜💜💜💜
In your postnatal Osteopathy appointment, your Osteopath will spend time going through your medical history, birth and labour history, injuries and previous pain that you may have experienced in your life. All of this information helps to build a picture of what may be causing your issues and your pain, and what may be impeding your healing mechanism.
We will assess how you move, globally and locally. Globally for a full body picture: so we can see from head to toe what may be maintaining your pain for example how you walk, or move through your foot and hip…
And we will also assess locally, to see if your sacrum and coccyx move as you breath, or are they stuck? Is your tailbone pulled under or to one side? Are there muscles overworking, or in spasm?
This will affect the tension and strain pattern through the entire area. Are there areas of the coccyx that are particularly painful? We will rule out any more serious conditions, and then work on treating everything which may be impacting your pain, and your life!
There are often some simple things to help you day to day with management of this pain, alongside treatment to get to the root cause.
COCCYX PAIN HELPSHEET
1. Sit on frozen peas (5 minutes at a time is ample). By sitting on frozen peas it can help reduce local inflammation at the tip of the coccyx.
2. Avoid sitting on a donut/ring cushion as this will allow your pelvic floor to drop, and increased pressure to build up and push downwards. Instead, a wedge cushion which leaves a space for your coccyx only is more preferable.
3. Trying to sit more upright and even on both sitting bones. Most coccyx issues are exacerbated by slumping due to the pressure and inflammation at the sacrum and coccyx, and won’t help with the healing process. This is the same as sitting over on one buttock or hip rather than the other, as this will disrupt the healing mechanism too.
5. BREATHE!!! The diaphragm and ribs are directly related to the pelvic floor, so by focusing on sitting or standing upright (or lying flat on your back), focus your breath, deep into your ribs, feel them move outwards slowly as you inhale and slowly in as you exhale.
6. Avoid gripping or squeezing your pelvic floor muscles. This may be slightly controversial to some of you, but kegals, and pelvic floor squeezing and gripping, especially without the letting go and lengthening part of the process, will actually feed more pain into the area. So lie on your back, take a deep inhale, and feel your pelvic floor muscles relax, and drop to your feet. Feel if they feel even…?? Then as you exhale, slowly feel like you are lifting your pelvic floor up towards your sit bones again. The letting go part of this is so important, and will lead to longer lasting pelvic floor function, and less pain.
7. Avoid being constipated Talk to a nutritionist about ways to help you individually. Your osteopath can also use some lovely abdominal techniques to help with this too, and give you individualised advice. And when you go to the toilet, sit with your knees higher than your hips, to allow for an easier smoother passing of stools, and less straining.
I really hope this has all helped you, please feel free to share with your friends.
As osteopaths we can help you get to the root of your problem, working on scar tissue, pelvic and spinal mechanics, abdominal visceral and fascial release work, ribs, diaphragm, and direct work on your coccyx, pelvic muscles, to get you rebalanced, out of pain, and back to optimal healing. Then we can help you to start rebuilding, rehabbing and restoring postnatally.
We have a number of wonderful osteopaths here who have specialism in postnatal osteopathy, but also have many links with fantastic women’s health osteopaths across the country, so let us know if you would like a recommendation for someone to help you closer to home too.
Thank you so much for reading.
Jo Day BSc MOsT PGCE PGdip in Women’s Health Osteopathy
Principal Osteopath, Women’s Health Specialist, Pregnancy and Postnatal care and rehab/clinical pilates practitioner.