Cloudy with a chance of Pain

People have long claimed that the weather affects the pain experienced from conditions such as arthritis, and there is plenty of anecdotal evidence of people predicting changes in the weather based on sensation in their joints. Research led by the University of Manchester is using new technology to put this ancient wisdom to the test.

Launched in January 2016, for the first time researchers are using a smartphone app to collect data and investigate the connection between chronic pain and the weather. ‘Cloudy with a Chance of Pain’ research project involves over 9,000 participants. They were asked to record their symptoms each day using the uMotif app on their smartphone. This information is then matched to weather reports from their area, as identified by their smartphone’s location data.

Early results indicate that these age-old beliefs have merit. Analysis of 100 participants in three regions, Norwich, Leeds and London, found that increased hours of sunlight between February and April led to a reduction in the reports of severe pain. However, pain levels were shown to increase during a particularly rainy June, despite the hours of daylight and relative warmth during that month.

The project, a collaboration supported by Arthritis Research UK, uMotif, the Office for Creative Research in New York and the Health eResearch Centre, and led by the University of Manchester, will conclude its data gathering in January 2017. Subsequent analysis will no doubt offer further insights for patients, osteopaths and the wider medical community.

It is hoped that the results of the research project will help people experiencing chronic pain to better predict and manage their symptoms, including the possibility of a ‘pain forecast’ to help people plan ahead. It should also provide healthcare professionals a wealth of information from which they can develop better interventions and treatment plans.

You can find out more about the project by visiting

Active 10 Campaign

Physical inactivity is a major cause of disease and disability for adults in the UK. It negatively impacts the health, social and economic outcomes of individuals and costs the NHS millions every year.[i]

Active 10 is the latest physical activity campaign from One You.  Launched in March 2016, One You from Public Health England is the first nationwide programme to support adults in making simple changes that can have a huge influence on their health, could help prevent diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cancer and heart disease and reduce risk of suffering a stroke or living with dementia, disability and frailty in later life. It aims to inform, energise and engage millions of adults, especially those in the 40-60 ‘middle aged’ group, to make changes to improve their own health by eating well, moving more, drinking less and quitting smoking. One You also provides information on free health checks and how people can reduce their stress levels and sleep better.  It is estimated that habits such as poor diet, excessive alcohol, smoking and a lack of activity – are responsible for around 40% of all deaths in England and costs the NHS more than £11 billion a year.

Active 10 has a free app you can download which includes tips and encouragement to help you fit ten-minute brisk walking sessions into your daily routine. It also tells you how much brisk walking you are currently doing as well as helping you to slowly build up from just 10 minutes of exercise per day to the Chief Medical Officer’s recommended 30 minutes a day, by providing regular rewards, challenges and encouragement.







Apple Store: (
Google Play Store (Android):

Take the Quiz:
This 10-minute quiz will give you an indication of where you could make improvements to support your health.

Osteopathy is a profession that focuses on creating an environment for supporting the health of our patients and the One You campaign, with its focus on positive messages for overall optimal health, is a campaign that aligns well with our osteopathic principles. Osteopaths are ideally placed to provide health advice and guidance to aid people to make the changes proposed by One You, and demonstrate that there is far more to osteopathic practice than just treating backs.





[i]Public Health England, 2014; Scarborough et al., 2011

Foot and Ankle pain

Pain can occur in the foot and ankles for a number of reasons.

The foot and ankle are made up of a number of small bones interconnected by ligaments, muscles and fascia all working together to give the strength, stability and flexibility the foot and ankle needs to function properly.

Common conditions of the foot, ankle and areas which can give rise to pain include:

Acquired flat foot – when the inner side of the foot or inner arch flattens. The foot may roll over to the inner side (known as over-pronation). It is often apparent if the heels of shoes wear out quickly and unevenly. Over-pronation can damage your ankle joint and achilles tendon (the tendon at the back of your ankle) and can also cause shin pain. Symptoms can include, pain, swelling, change in foot shape and knee pain or swelling.

Plantar fasciitis– is pain and inflammation in the plantar fascia – the tough fibrous band of tissue that supports the arches of the foot and runs under the small bones from the underside of the heel and sole towards the toes, Often, people who have plantar fasciitis describe it as a sharp pain, most often under the heel or instep of the foot. It tends to be made worse by standing for long periods of time in poor footwear. Sufferers commonly mention that it is worse when standing after being off their feet for a long time, and it can hurt more putting the foot on the floor first thing in the morning. The sole of the foot can occasionally feel a little numb, tingly or swell slightly. In some cases of plantar fasciitis, a small spur of bone can grow where the plantar fascia attaches and pulls on the heel which can cause a sharp pain.

Achilles painThe Achilles tendon is formed by the tendon of the two calf muscles, the gastrocnemius and soleus coming together and attaching onto the bone at the back of the heel called the calcaneus) Pain, inflammation or tendonitis in the Achilles can cause pain and tightness in this area.

Sprained ankle –  Typically the result of a sudden twisting or “going over” on the ankle joint and more commonly it is the ligaments on the outside of the ankle that are strained. Typical symptoms are swelling, bruising, pain and instability of the ankle. Sometimes an x-ray is required to rule out any fracture. Rest, ice, elevation and compression are often advisable in the first 24 to 48 hours.

How can an osteopath help with foot and ankle pain?

  • Depending on the diagnosis and your age and fitness we can use a variety of gentle massage and manipulative techniques to increase the mobility of the joints and the flexibility of the muscles in the foot.
  • We will often look at muscles and joints in the lower limb, the knee, hip and lower back and may treat any joint restrictions and muscle tightness we find there. Often improving the movement in the joints of the lower will help the foot and ankle function better.
  • We may offer specific balancing, strengthening or loosening exercises
  • We may offer advice on strapping and brace supports, footwear and any lifestyle factors that might be hindering healing. We may refer you to a podiatrist for their opinion and specialist foot supports
  • X-rays, scans or other tests may be required to make a diagnosis  and we may refer you to your  GP for any additional  investigations and treatment  such as advice on pain killers and anti-inflammatory medications

Why women should do weights

Close-up portrait of a woman doing squats with barbellOsteoporosis is a condition that makes bones more brittle and prone to fracture. Although osteoporosis can effect men and younger people, post-menopausal women are most at risk. One of the best ways to help maintain healthy bones is to exercise regularly – which encourages the bones to absorb calcium and other mineral salts that keep bones strong.

Weight bearing exercises and weight resisted exercises are best for strengthening bones and muscles and as well as helping to keep bones in good health may also reduce the likelihood of falls as you age. Weight bearing exercises are those where your body is supporting its own weight, such as walking or housework or carrying groceries. Weight resisted exercise involves pushing or pulling against an additional weight, like a dumbbell or barbell or resistance equipment in a gym.

The younger you start, the better

Anyone can benefit from weight training but it has been demonstrated that younger women who trained using weights have stronger bones later in life, this essentially means that you can bank bone when you’re younger to help prevent fractures later in life – a kind of insurance scheme for your body. A life time of active living not only protects your bones but also keeps your heart healthy and may protect you from other diseases such as cancer and type two diabetes.

Senior woman with dumbbellsBut starting at any age will help

Everyone can benefit from increasing their activity levels. Studies have shown that people who have already been diagnosed with osteoporosis can improve their bone health significantly through weight bearing exercising, the key is getting good advice on how to move well and how to self-manage.

Some more benefits

Strong muscles burn more calories, so if you need to control your bodyweight, lifting weights can help. It also helps with balance and can help you to regulate your sleep patterns.

‘I don’t want to look muscled’

It takes women a lot of heavy weight lifting, and sometimes the use of controlled substances like steroids and hormones, to achieve the physique of the heavily muscled power lifter. Women don’t normally have enough testosterone in their bodies to develop bulging muscles, but can, with regular, moderate training achieve lean, toned and strong muscles.

fitball dumbbell flyes‘I hate gyms’

No problem. There are plenty of other exercises you can do that don’t involve a visit to the gym. Dancing, yoga, tennis, Pilates, walking, running, gardening and even housework count – all you are aiming to do is increase your heart rate and make yourself feel a little warmer. You can do it in several short blocks of 15 minute or more but aim for at least a total of 150 minutes per week over at least 5 days per week for the best results. If you’re unused to exercise, start slowly and build up to this target.

I don’t know where to start

This is where your friendly local osteopath can help. They can screen you for any health concerns that might affect your ability to exercise, help to resolve any injuries or pain that might be holding you back and advise you on what exercises might suit your goals best. Many can teach you how to exercise correctly, avoiding injuries and how to gradually build up as your ability and fitness levels improve.

Persistent Pain

472815 We all feel pain from time to time. When someone injures themselves, specific nerves recognise this as pain, which in turn triggers the body’s repair mechanism. As the problem resolves, the pain tends to improve and usually disappears within 3-6 months. This type of pain could be argued to be beneficial: if it hurts, you are likely to try and avoid doing whatever it is that has caused the pain in the future, so you are less likely to injure yourself in that way again. Occasionally the pain continues even after tissue healing has finished. When pain continues after this point, it becomes known as persistent (or is sometimes referred to as chronic) pain. This type of pain is not beneficial and is a result of the nerves becoming over-sensitised, which means that a painful response will be triggered much more easily than normal. This can be unpleasant, but doesn’t necessarily mean that you are doing yourself any harm simply by moving. You could think of this as a sensitive car alarm that goes off in error when someone walks past (for more information on how pain works, visit: ).

Persistent pain is very common and effects over 14 million people in the UK alone. It often does not respond to conventional medical interventions and needs a different kind of approach, but there are many things that you can do to manage your pain yourself with the support of your osteopath, your family and loved-ones. Keeping active, performing exercises and stretches can help, learning to pace your activities so that you don’t trigger a flare-up of your pain as well as setting goals and priorities are all very important and can help you to maintain a fulfilling lifestyle.

308248 For more information on how to manage your persistent pain, speak to us on 07737 416906 or email or visit

Arthritis and Osteopathy

Arthritis and Osteopathy

knie schmerzen 2Arthritis is common in older people – although no-one can cure arthritis, you may find it useful to see an osteopath.  Broadly speaking, arthritis can be divided into two types – Inflammatory and Degenerative.
The degenerative form is what we call Osteoarthritis (OA), more commonly described as ‘wear and tear’.
Patients usually feel this in weight bearing areas, usually their knees, hips or spine.
The classic features of pain, stiffness and restricted mobility may often be eased and improved with skilled osteopathic treatment.

Inflammatory arthritis such as Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is generally a systemic disease, ie affecting not just the joints but the whole body. Like osteoarthritis, it produces severe pain, stiffness and often deformity. Osteopathy may be helpful in addition to medication.

Osteopaths treat patients with arthritis every day. You may not have to put up with your pain!  Our treatments can do a great deal to reduce pain, ease swelling and improve the mobility and range of joint movement.

Osteopathic treatment is a hands-on approach offering a package of care that is personalised to you.  Treatment is aimed at improving mobility and reducing inflammation by using gentle, manual osteopathic techniques on joints, muscles and ligaments. You will be given positive advice related to your lifestyle about how you use your body. Age is no barrier to osteopathy since each patient is considered individually and treatment is gentle.

If the worst happens and conservative management from an osteopath can no longer manage the patient’s symptoms from hip and knee arthritis, a joint replacement may be required.

Dr Mike Evans provides a YouTube video that is designed to prepare patients in the best possible way for hip or knee replacement surgery. It discusses ways of increasing the chances of a positive outcome from surgery and anticipating common problems helping to manage expectations and to reduce patient anxiety.
The seven minute video clip suggests patients to seek strengthening exercises prior to surgery and encourages them to participate in rehabilitation (that might be provided by you as an osteopath) after.

The iO also produces a specific information leaflet for our patients focused at explaining how osteopathy can help, entitled “As You Get Older”.

Resources and Arthritis Information:

Excluding major catastrophic events causing premature death, aging and its associated conditions will affect all of us eventually. In the UK, it is estimated that 10 million people are affected by arthritis. Eight million of these live with the symptoms of the age related changes associated with osteoarthritis and these statistics are set to increase as a result of our ageing population. Musculoskeletal conditions in general have been identified as the main reason for the predicted rise in the numbers of older people who will become dependent on health and social care services over the next 25 years.

The iO (Institute of Osteopathy) Osteopathic Census suggests that over 80% of osteopaths treat patients over the age of 65 years often or almost exclusively, yet very few osteopaths specialise in geriatric medicine and there are few osteopathic courses that focus on the osteopathic approach towards the specific health needs of this growing patient group.

Have you ever been told that there is nothing to be done about the symptoms of old age? Hopelessness and depression are a major silent problem in the elderly.  However, knowing where to find support and information that empowers those living with age related changes to self-manage can take some of the fear out of ageing and osteopaths have an important role to play in addressing this need.

The following sites provide clear, reassuring and evidence based advice resources that can supplement advice given by your osteopath in the consulting room and improve your care:

ArthritisCareLogoArthritis Care are the UK’s largest charity working with and for people living with arthritis. They are a user-led charity which means people living with arthritis are at the heart of their work.

Founded in 1947, a year before the UK’s National Health Service was established, they provide support and teach people how to manage their condition through a self-management training program and support network. Arthritis Care also provide information booklets, the ‘Arthritis News’ eBulletin, four respite holiday hotels, and run local, national and international campaigns including Arthritis Care Awareness Week which will begins on 18 May 2015. You can access their website here.

ArthritisResearchUKLogoArthritis Research UK are the UK’s fourth largest medical research charity and fund scientific and medical research into all types of arthritis and musculoskeletal conditions, including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, back pain and osteoporosis. They publish over 60 high quality evidence based information booklets and online content designed to reassure and inform patients about their condition, its treatment, medications, therapies and self-management techniques as well as providing pragmatic living aids such as key turners, jar and can openers and pick-up aids for those that find mobility a problem.

Sufferers, or people who want to know more about arthritic conditions can look at the Arthritis Research UK eShop, or can download information (free) by clicking on the ‘shop’ and then ‘publications’ tabs here.

If you feel you would like to book an appointment, please call 07737 416906 (all clinics).

How Healthy is Your Heart?

And you thought we were just about backs – call 01672 564646 for a free heart check…….

3 Things You Can Do Today to Have a Healthier Heart.

1 – Stop Smoking!Quit-Smoking-Cigarettes

Seriously, if you smoke, stop.  We know you’ve heard all the risks before and the effect it has on your blood pressure, cholesterol etc, but it’s still worth reinforcing.  The British Heart Foundation lists 4 ways that smoking damages your heart;

· Smoking damages the lining of your arteries, leading to a build-up of fatty material (atheroma) which narrows the artery. This can cause angina, a heart attack or a stroke.

· The carbon monoxide in tobacco smoke reduces the amount of oxygen in your blood. This means your heart has to pump harder to supply the body with the oxygen it needs.

· The nicotine in cigarettes stimulates your body to produce adrenaline, which makes your heart beat faster and raises your blood pressure, making your heart work harder.

· Your blood is more likely to clot, which increases your risk of having a heart attack or stroke.

Remember an E-cigarette still releases nicotine, so even though they aren’t seen as being as bad as cigarettes they still carry some risk.

If you quit, there are immediate benefits as well as long term ones, click here for a full list.


2 – Move around on a regular basis!walking

Seems easy, and frankly, it is!  According to the NHS guidelines all you need to do for your heart to benefit from exercise is 20 minutes per day of fast walking.   If you think you haven’t got time bear in mind that the average British person spends 1 hour a day on social media, and with today’s smartphones you can do that while you are exercising!

Moving about affects the heart in many positive ways, it makes it grow and become a more powerful pump to get the blood around your body. The repeated increase in pressure when you exercise also makes the main arteries stretch slightly, making them wider resulting in easier blood flow.
Two very cool ways exercise improves your heart function is via your breathing and the muscles in your calves.  As you breathe in, the increased pressure in your lungs helps pump out the blood, easing the workload on the pump (a bit like giving it a squeeze), and then when you exhale, the reduced pressure causes it to expand helping it refill.
So heavy breathing (however you want to do it) helps your heart pump!

Also, when you walk or run you have to get a lot of blood to a lot of places fast, but to keep the blood circulating it needs to get back to the heart, and this is where your calf muscles come in.  As you exercise, your calf muscles exert a squeezing action on the blood vessels, creating pressure and driving the blood back to the heart to be re-oxygenised.


3 – Know Your Risk Level!

Information is power, you can’t make an informed and decisive change in your lifestyle until you know what you are doing it for, there are several risk factors that determine your likelihood of having heart disease, these include;

· Age – the older you are, the greater the risk

· Gender – Men tend to be a more risk earlier, but women catch up after the menopause

· Family History – If someone in your family has had heart problems before they were 55 then you may have an increased risk.

· High Blood Pressure – The higher the pressure the greater the risk and the harder your heart has to work.

· High Cholesterol – Usually a result of dietary factors, see here for a good guide to why cholesterol is important.

· A high ‘waist/hip ratio’.  This is a good measure to see if your body composition or your weight could be a risk factor for heart disease, a measurement over 1.0 in men or 0.85 in women may mean you have an increased risk.  Calculate yours here.

If you think you may be at risk of heart disease, get a full medical check as soon as possible so you can start taking action!

Throughout February, Pewsey Osteopathic & Sports Injury Clinic will be doing free blood pressure checks and waist/hip ratio measurements to help you identify if you need to do a little bit more to love your heart!

Call us on 01672 564646 to book a time (we will be offering these checks on Wednesday & Saturday only).


What is Sports Massage?

Laufender Mann Silhouette mit Skelett und GelenkschmerzenAs defined by the Sports Massage Association: “Sports Massage is the management, manipulation and rehabilitation of soft tissues of the body including muscles, tendons and ligaments. It is applicable not just to sports people but to anybody wishing to guard against or recover from a soft tissue injury.”

Sports massage is used to:

  •    Improve circulation and lymphatic flow
  •    Assist in the removal of metabolic wastes

  •    Calm or stimulate nerve endings

  •    Increase or decrease muscle tone

  •    Increase or decrease muscle length

  •    Assist in the remodeling of scar tissue

Sports Massage is not just for the Olympic athlete – we treat armchair athletes too!
Around 50% of our patients are sports injury related and 50% are unrelated to sport.
Our youngest patients are still at primary school and our more senior patients are approaching their 90th birthday.

The benefits of sports massage therapy may also help relieve many day to day problems, such as:

  •     Repetitive strain injury e.g: work, driving

  •     Sprains and strains

  •     Tension

  •     General aches and pain e.g: gardening, lifting, playing with the kids

  •     The effects of poor posture

  •     Tight muscles / Muscle spasm

Fotolia_41226524_XSMany sports massage practitioners work with a great range of clients in assisting with preventive treatment and injury recovery.

If you are a sports performer, of any level, a sports specific massage can be beneficial at any stage of participation – from the conditioning and training phase, the post-competition stage as well as for injury prevention and recovery.

massageWhat happens during your appointment?

A full history of your condition will be taken and you will be examined as appropriate for the area or areas concerned.  An individual treatment plan will be discussed, and then implemented by providing the appropriate massage and/or stretching techniques. You will be advised if the therapist feels any alternative actions may be required, for example referral to a doctor.

Appointments last 30, 45 or 60 minutes.  You are advised to leave up to an hour for your initial appointment. Please contact the practice for our current availability and prices.

About Paul Watson:

Paul trained at the London School of Sports Massage, gaining his Level 4 Diploma in Sports Massage Therapy in 2006.  He went on to gain a Diploma in sports Therapy from the Sports Therapy Organisation (Manchester) in 2007.

He holds clinics at Devizes and Pewsey from Monday to Saturday, with later evening appointments available.

To make an appointment, or for further information, please telephone 07737 416906.

Fascinating Fascia

fasciaWhat is Fascia?
Fascia is tough connective tissue that creates a 3-dimensional web extending without interruption from head to toe. Fascia surrounds and infuses every muscle, bone, nerve, blood vessel, and organ, all the way down to the cellular level.

The fascial system affects every system and function in your body- musculoskeletal, neurological, metabolic, etc. The white, glistening fibers you see when you pull a piece of meat apart or when you pull chicken skin away is fascia.

What is Fascia made of?
Fascia consists of a complex which has three parts:
1. Elastin fibers – This is the elastic and stretchable part of the complex.

2. Collagen fibers – These fibers are extremely tough and give support to the

3. Ground substance/matrix: A gelatinous like substance that transports metabolic
material throughout the body

What does fascia do?
The fascial system generally supports, stabilizes, and cushions. Fascia creates separation between vessels, organs, bones, and muscles. It creates space through which delicate nerves, blood vessels, and fluids can pass.

What are Fascial Restrictions?
In a healthy state, the collagen fibers wrap around the elastic fibers in a relaxed, wavy configuration. Trauma, repetitive motion, inflammation, or poor posture can cause the fascia to become solidified and shortened. These thickened areas are referred to as a fascial restriction. Fascial restrictions have the capacity of creating up to 2,000 pounds of pressure per square inch in a restricted area. That crushing pressure can compromise any physiological system in the body resulting in pain and dysfunction.

The fascia throughout the body is all interconnected like the yarn in a sweater or a complex spider web. A restriction in one area of the body creates tension throughout this web pulling on other distant structures. This explains why some people may have pain that appears unrelated to their original injury. Furthermore, myofascial restrictions do not show up on common standardized tests such as x-rays, MRI, CAT scans, etc.

Fascial restrictions can pull the body out of its normal alignment, compressing joint surfaces and bulging disks, resulting in pain, loss of motion, and weakness.


Info collected from Spine – Health, Mayo Clinic, NIH & Medterms
Art by Dan Beckemeyer
Published on Facebook by Anatomy in Motion

About your Spine…

Spine stretchingDid You Know:
The dynamics and supportive properties of the human spine are provided by:

• an intricate network of blood vessels

• countless specialized nerve endings

• hundreds of small nerve fibers which connect to structures of the spine

• more than 220 specialized ligaments

• greater than 120 individual muscles

• over 100 intricate joints

• 34 vertebrae

• 24 presacral vertebrae (movable)

• 5 sacral and 3-5 coccygeal vertebrae (non-moveable)

• 31 pairs of spinal nerves

• 23 intervertebral discs

The human spinal column provides flexibility for movement, support for weight bearing and protection of nerve fibers. The spinal column surrounds and protects the spinal cord, which is the main pathway of communication between the brain and the rest of the body. The spinal column also protects the nerve roots and part of the autonomic nervous system.

The spine has three major types of joints:
• synarthroses
• diarthroses
• amphiarthroses

The vertebral column consists of 24 presacral (moveable) vertebrae
• 7 cervical vertebrae
• 12 thoracic vertebrae
• 5 lumbar vertebrae

The sacrum and coccyx are composed of fused vertebrae and are also considered part of the spinal column.

The cervical vertebrae are the most mobile of the 24 presacral spinal vertebrae.

The 12 thoracic vertebrae articulate with 12 pair of ribs. The thoracic spine is designed for a minimum of movement, thus providing protection for the internal organs.

The large stocky lumbar vertebrae are designed to support the weight of the body

Info By American Academy of Spine Physicians
Art by Andrea Schillaci
Originally posted by Anatomy in Motion