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· 4 min read

Part of the "Myth Busting" series

Welcome to the start of a new series here at the Flourish blog. We'll be busting some commonly assumed truths, general ignorance and persistent myths about a range of health and wellness topics. Up first - discs!

The intervertebral discs sit between the bones of the spine. They're composed of a gel-like material (in the picture below this is called the nucleus pulposus) surrounded by a mesh of fibres (the annulus fibrosus). Whenever there's any movement through the spine, the discs act like little shock-absorbers, to dissipate the force and protect the bones of the spine from any impact.

· 5 min read

All the techniques described below are demonstrated on my Facebook live video about this topic.

Knee pain is relatively common in the UK and the good news is that it's often very easy to treat! Here are my top tips for knee pain.

1 - Hands on!#

The most common form of knee pain is muscular, that is, pain caused by tightness, tension or weakness in the muscles of the knee. In 90% of cases it's the vastus medialis oblique (VMO) muscle which is the culprit, so here's what you can do to help:

· 4 min read

Ouch!#

If you're a bit squeamish you might want to skip this paragraph, because earlier this week I managed to slice into my thumb with a chopping knife while I was preparing dinner. The cut is reasonably deep and it bled quite a lot, but happily it is now healing nicely, even though it looks like a bit of a Franken-finger.

But it got me thinking about the healing process and how amazing it is. Specifically, it reminded me of a big debate that happened in the Sports Science arena several years ago on the best way to treat acute sporting injuries. Until then, the standard treatment had been known by the acronym RICE: Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. All of these actions were specifically targeted at reducing inflammation.

· 3 min read

Part of the "What is...?" series

We commonly associate whiplash injuries with car accidents or collisions, but whiplash can occur any time your head moves suddenly, such as a fall where the head is jolted backwards, or as an sporting injury in a contact sport like rugby.

Unlike more serious injuries, like a fracture, the pain of whiplash may not develop for a day or two after the initial injury. But the pain that develops from it can be debilitating, because it often causes severe stiffness, spasms, neck pain and headaches.

· 4 min read

Part of the "What is...?" series

Osteoporosis is often known as the "bone thinning" disease that strikes in old age - but is this an accurate description? And is it an inevitable problem in old age or are there steps for you to take right now that will make a difference?

Osteoporosis is not a painful condition, but it does make bone fracture more likely. If a bone fracture occurs in a major bone (like the hip) in an elderly or vulnerable patient then this can lead to complications. The most serious of these is blood clots, which can go on to cause heart attacks, strokes and pulmonary embolism.

· 4 min read

Part of the "What is...?" series

In a previous blog post, we talked about the two different types of arthritis - osteoarthritis and inflammatory arthropathies (a.k.a. rheumatic diseases). This post will concentrate on inflammatory arthropathies, the most common of which is rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

RA is a type of autoimmune disease - the immune system mistakenly attacks the lining of the joints, thinking it is a foreign substance. This causes the joint to become red, hot, swollen and stiff. The symptoms are particularly worse if you've been sleeping or had a period of inactivity. You can also get "flare-ups" where the symptoms become particularly severe. It often runs in families, and is more common in women and in the over 50s. It can sometimes have effects in other areas of the body, such as the eyes, heart and lungs. It's also common to get other symptoms like fatigue and poor appetite. No-one knows why the immune system starts to behave this way, and the only known risk factor is smoking.

· 3 min read

Part of the "What is...?" series

Axial spondyloarthritis (AxSpA) is a long-term condition in which the spine and other areas of the body become inflamed.

The symptoms of AxSpA can vary but usually involve:

  • Back pain and stiffness that improves with exercise and isn't relieved by rest
  • Pain and swelling in other parts of the body, such as the hips, knees and ribs
  • Fatigue (extreme tiredness)

These symptoms tend to develop gradually, usually over several months or years, and may come and go over time.