Meet Our Osteopath – Natalie Nicolas MOst

Meet Our Osteopath – Natalie Nicolas MOst

Introducing new team member here at The Therapy Rooms, today’s blog is a chat with Natalie, our osteopath.

How Did Natalie Get Started?

Natalie has been an osteopath since 2014, qualifying at Swansea University. She explains that as teenager living in Spain her ambition was to be a doctor but after work experience in a hospital realised that environment wasn’t for her.

Her mum was seeing an osteopath, and Natalie found she was interested in what it involved and the natural, holistic side. She says: “I love helping people, and it’s great to be able to get to know them well and address the problems that doctors don’t have time to help with in hospital.”

Natalie believes it is important to build rapport with patients. Osteopathy can help people in a more holistic way, not just physically.

Who Needs to See an Osteopath?

Osteopathy is based on treating musculo-skeletal problems, so that’s joint pain, muscular damage and so on. It’s mostly people with back or neck pain, or chronic pain or injury, and this is what Natalie focuses on.

There are no typical patients – they can be athletes, office workers, children or even babies. Anyone is suitable for the treatment, and you simply vary the technique accordingly.

What is the Difference between an Osteopath and a Chiropractor?

The two practices are quite different, but what they do share is using manipulation. Chiropractic is based on the idea that any ailment in the body is based on a spinal dysfunction – different vertebral segments give rise to different nerves which control areas of the body.

Chiropractors believe that when one of the segments isn’t working properly, such as muscle tightness or joint stiffness, can lead over time to dysfunction of the nerve, which in turn leads to pain.

Osteopaths don’t work on the spinal model, and favour the traditional model that you can have a knee problem caused by the knee, rather than the spine, although they do treat holistically and look at other body pains.

When they manipulate or ‘crack’ a joint, they do this to restore the movement in it, whereas a chiropractor does so to relieve pressure. It may have the same result, but the philosophy is different.

What Can Someone Expect at an Osteopathy Appointment?

Natalie explains: “Firstly, I book people in for a one-hour consultation. I ask the patient to tell me what the problem is and what they think is causing it. I’ll also prompt them to talk about the case history, when the pain started and if it’s better or worse at certain times, as well as their health and medication.”

The information gathered helps Natalie to narrow down the potential cause of the pain. Once that’s all covered, she does an assessment, which varies depending on the case history.

The assessment usually involves removing clothes down to underwear and shorts, and Natalie watches the patient walking and moving to see if there’s anything noticeable which could have contributed to the pain, including looking at the spine for any clues. Then, she focuses on the area of the pain, and moves the joint for the patient.

At this point, she formulates a working diagnosis of what the pain is most likely caused by, as it’s not always possible to be completely certain. Natalie then creates a treatment plan from the diagnosis.

Treatment usually consists of soft tissue therapy (i.e. massage), joint mobilisation to help it move better, manipulation, which is a stronger form of joint mobilisation and usually happens on the spine. Sometimes she also demonstrates stretching and resistance movements the patient can do at home.

Within four to six treatments, patients should have seen an improvement in the symptoms. If they don’t, Natalie will reassess and see if there’s anything she can change in the working diagnosis or refer to the NHS pathway if appropriate.

Natalie says: “One of the best ways way to understand osteopathy it is to come and experience the treatment for themselves.”

A telephone assessment can be made to check you are suitable before booking a course of treatment.

Call The Therapy Rooms  on 0191 2136232 to arrange an osteopathic appointment with Natalie.

Slipped disc – can it be managed osteopathically?

Slipped disc – can it be managed osteopathically?

Natalie Nicolas Osteopath at The Therapy Rooms

Spinal disc lesions are a very common occurrence, with an estimated 50-60% of the population having one or more bulging discs in their spine. However, only a small minority of these suffer symptoms, but these can be vastly disrupting and debilitating. Disc-related pain tends to mostly affect people between 30 and 50 years of age.

The diagnosis may be termed as a ‘slipped disc’, ‘ruptured disc’, ‘herniated disc’ and ‘disc prolapse’. Unfortunately, healthcare professionals cannot agree on a precise definition, and use these terms interchangeably, which causes confusion. Rather than searching for a precise diagnosis, it is more useful for patients to gain a clear understanding of what may be happening inside their bodies. So what are discs, what actually happens when they ‘slip’, and can an Osteopath help?

The intervertebral discs are structures found in between vertebrae all the way from the neck to the lower back. They are composed of two parts: a tough outer layer, similar to a tyre, and a soft inner core, of a gel-like consistency. Discs are somewhat pliant, acting as shock absorbers and allowing for spinal curves and flexibility. Over time, this shock absorbing capability reduces, as the disc wears and loses height due to natural fluid loss. Small cracks appear in the outer layer and, if put under undue strain, the disc can start to be pushed out of shape. If this strain is maintained, the inside gel-like core pushes through the outer layer causing what is called a disc prolapse (‘slipped disc’ is actually a misnomer as the disc doesn’t actually slip out of place).

Disc prolapses tend to be most common in the lower back, as it bears the most torque and force on a day-to-day basis. The prolapse can press on the spinal nerves directly, or cause an inflammatory response in the area, closing the space where the nerves exit the spine. This can cause pain (known as sciatica if the pain runs down the back of the leg), tingling, numbness, pain or loss of strength in the arms or legs depending on whether the problem is in the neck or low back. In some cases, severe prolapses can press on the spinal cord, which requires urgent medical attention.

Osteopaths are trained to recognise any of these signs and act accordingly – referring the patient as appropriate. Whether the prolapse is mild or severe, sitting, lying, standing, walking, sneezing, coughing and bowel movements can be difficult. Whatever the severity, the damage sustained requires time to repair. Osteopaths encourage this healing process by establishing why the particular disc was the one that had the problem in the first place (trauma, postural problems, or wear and tear for example), and then treating to ensure that the spine is straight and mobile, and the protective spasm around the area is eased. As self-management of a disc problem is key, advice will also be given including postural tips, hot or cold packs and stretching as appropriate, as well as promoting to continue with normal daily activities as much as possible. The traditional medical approach to a disc problem is often to offer a combination of painkillers and muscles relaxants, which can work in conjunction with osteopathic treatment to resolve the disc problem more speedily. If the problem persists or there are any worrying symptoms, the patient can be referred back to their GP for further investigations and, if all else fails, on to a specialist if surgery is required.

 

Natalie Nicolas graduated with a First Class Masters degree in Osteopathy in 2014. She has since worked among other osteopaths, chiropractors, physiotherapists and sports therapists.

Natalie has a keen interest in treating musculoskeletal pain from a holistic viewpoint, observing the body as an integral unit. She enjoys treating people of many different backgrounds, ranging from athletes to patients with chronic pain disorders. When approaching a case, she considers all associated physical dysfunctions as well as lifestyle behaviours, occupation, physical activity, and daily life stresses. Having worked as a ski and snowboard instructor, Natalie understands the balance between injury, rehabilitation and performance.

Natalie is registered with the General Osteopathic Council and is a member of the Institute of Osteopathy.

A telephone assessment can be made to check you are suitable before booking a course of treatment.

Call The Therapy Rooms  on 0191 2136232 to arrange an osteopathy appointment with Natalie Nicolas.