This week an unsuspecting 15 year old patient asked me; “What is the weirdest thing you treat?” Well, that got me thinking. We treat a lot of weird and wonderful presentations and I thought I would enlighten those of you who may have wondered the same thing. I've picked out a few of my favourites but I challenge you to ask if you are questioning whether we could help with anything you may be suffering with.
Bruxism or teeth grinding
Most commonly people assume this is a case for their dentist and I agree, as a first port of call, always seek the advice of your local dentist. But when a gum guard has been fitted, brace assembled or extra teeth removed but the discomfort of a tense jaw still remains we may be able to help. The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is located just in front of the ear and is a very complex structure; it consists of an articular disc, plenty of ligaments and muscles. This is the main area that patients mention causes them discomfort but the TMJ is very closely intertwined with the neck, shoulders and rest of the face. Therefore, Osteopathically if we improve the function of the all of the above, desk set up and look at the tissues directly integrated with the jaw we can sometimes heavily reduce the musculoskeletal discomfort associated with Bruxism.
Working in a clinic located right in the city has taught me a few things about this presentation and there are no rules, its heavily patient symptom driven. Patients often present with musculoskeletal pain but in the case history mention difficulty sleeping or high work stress levels, which has not been helped with orthodox treatment options. Sleep is imperative to overall body health so is never a symptom I ignore. But to explain how I approach this presentation I will first explain the sympathetic nervous symptom. Our sympathetic nervous system is part of the autonomic system that mainly controls unconscious bodily functions and maintains homeostasis with the help of the parasympathetic nervous system. The sympathetics are responsible for pushing the body into overdrive if a tiger were to walk into a room, rushing blood to your brain for quick reactions and to muscles to get you moving whilst also releasing stress hormones. Now to relax we need to be able to switch off our sympathetics and switch on our parasympathetic system allowing sleep, healing and digestion to take place! Often those suffering with insomnia are sympathetically aroused, tight through the upper back and neck and very stressed with work. By mobilising and loosening the thorax, educating on desk posture and bed time routines sleep can sometimes be improved.
Like the above presentation digestion can be hugely effected by stress and sleep levels. Therefore, once orthodox investigation have ruled out any red flag conditions osteopathic intervention can be of use. Thoracic mobility and parasympathetic stimulation can help digestive fluidity, if the diaphragm, the big muscle of breathing located at the bottom of the rib cage is in spasm, it will not be massaging the gut and aiding in the digestive journey of food. If constantly sympathetically aroused a patient will not be relaxed enough to digest efficiently and absorb all the valuable nutrients we need from our food. The gastrointestinal tract is essentially one long tube from entry to exit with valves along the way to allow absorption. If the valves are in spasm or obstructed for whatever reason passing food can get stuck making it hard for the gut. Visceral Osteopathy is a technique used to release the tension and help free the digestive tract!
Sinus or Facial Pain
So as summer is upon us this may be a distant memory of the winter but recurrent or one off episodes can be helped by treatment. Our sinuses are air filled cavities located in the bones around the nose and fore head. When congested with inflammatory fluids or just excess fluid they can cause pain. So osteopathically we can open up the spaces by tractioning the cranial bones, and then we encourage drainage with sinus tapping, followed by effleurage or stroking of the face and neck. This in turn helps the fluid down into the thoracic cavity through the lymphatic system and can be dealt with and excreted from here. These techniques as well as neck and thoracic mobility treatment followed by plenty of hydration can sometimes help improve that old pain in the face that is sinusitis.
So there you have it, my top 4 unusual but fascinating presentations that often aren’t seen in isolation, but to remain fully holistic we as osteopaths never ignore these. Don’t hesitate to email us if you have any symptoms you wonder if we could help with: firstname.lastname@example.org