News, updates, articles and discussions from healthcare professionals.
News, updates, articles and discussions from healthcare professionals.
Whatever your self or home-improvement aims for the year ahead, The Times & the Sunday Times have put together a handy guide of expert support to help push you towards your goals. We've done a quick round up of those featured, but you can view the full article here: Step into a new you: 10 brands to help you make things happen in 2023 (thetimes.co.uk) 1. Start putting your health first! Whether you’re looking for a diagnosis, treatment, professional advice to improve your wellbeing, or even hypnotherapy to help you quit smoking, My Health Assistant can help you find the right practitioner for you. https://myha.co.uk/2. Let this be the year you build your dream home, with Huf Haus: https://www.huf-haus.com/ 3. Have good hair days all year round with trichologist recommended shampoo & conditioner from Watermans: https://watermanshair.com/ 4. Immerse yourself in learning a new language the Memrise way: https://explore.memrise.com/ 5. Treat your taste buds to Great Taste Award winning foods and discover the best food and drink that Wales has to offer! Food and Drink Wales - Growing together | Business Wales - Food and drink (gov.wales) 6. Spruce up your living space with stylish, durable furniture from USM, who are committed to quality & sustainability: https://uk.usm.com/ 7. Stop putting off writing your will! Or if you already have one, it might be time to have it reviewed by the Society of Will Writers: https://www.willwriters.com/ 8. Get smarter with your finances and make your money work harder with Shawbrook banking: https://www.shawbrook.co.uk/ 9. Reach your fitness goals with Ultimate Performance: https://ultimateperformance.com/ 10. Explore the benefits of hyperbaric oxygen and how it can support your body's natural healing process: https://www.thewellnesslab.com/hyperbaric-oxygen-consultationRead more
Today more than ever before it is totally acceptable and encouraged to talk openly about the menopause by sharing experiences as well as seeking help and advice. The menopause is discussed widely across all media including ITV’s ‘This Morning,’ who are great ambassadors for it. It is also supported in such a good way by famous people such as Davina McCall and Penny Lancaster who raise great awareness about the menopause and symptoms of menopause. You are not alone and there is a way forward.As a Life coach who has experienced menopause symptoms, clients come to me with various issues and it isn’t until we talk in more depth and work holistically that menopausal issues become apparent.I would like to share my own personal experience as I am a firm believer that the menopause matters and awareness of it is so important, having experienced it myself. I look back to when I was much younger and how both my Nana and Mum dealt with the menopause and to be honest it wasn’t spoken about as it was doomed as a ‘taboo’ subject!! I recall it being referred to as ‘the change’ and that was about all that was mentioned. I remember my Mum fanning herself and often taking herself outside to cool off and when asked what was the problem, she would simply laugh it off and say she was having a “tropical moment!!” and it would happen to me one day. So, I had no real understanding about what the menopause really is and what menopause symptoms I may or may not experience. It is only many years later that I have found myself in the whole new world of being a ‘menopausal woman!!’.I guess I entered into a quite early menopause when my periods suddenly stopped at the age of 42. I approached my doctor who confirmed with blood tests that I was perimenopausal. Having no other symptoms other than no longer having periods, I believed that my menopause over and done with. This was great and I thought, “wow, the menopause is a breeze and I am over it”. Well, how far from the truth could this be as when I was 48, I felt like I had been hit by a bus and my life seemed to change overnight.I suddenly felt myself feeling very irritable with little patience for my family, friends and work colleagues. I also found myself as being quite forgetful, which I had never previously experienced. I also had strange feelings and sensations inside head, which I can only explain as my odd “cotton wool heads”. I was also plagued with totally irrational thoughts, which were most unlike me. After months of putting up with this, I went to my doctors as I really thought that there was something seriously wrong with me. My doctor said it was due to going through the menopause and suggested HRT patches. I was at the stage that I would try anything to make all of this go away!! Unfortunately for me HRT wasn’t suitable as it caused break through bleeding. So, it was time to look for alternative solutions.Like many of you, I did my research on the internet and believe I have tried all of the herbal remedies available!! The ‘sleepy nighttime tea’ gave me the most weird and bizarre dreams!!. Surely, there must be something that could help me?? I decided to look further into methods that could help me to cope with life on a daily basis and I came across Mindfulness. Gosh, this was like a ‘light bulb’ moment and taught me how to rationalise my thoughts. This is something I still practice today as well as passing the effectiveness of it onto my clients.It was suggested that I should address my diet and exercise regime. I knew that since being a little girl I had always had a healthy, balanced diet and always taken plenty of regular exercise, but perhaps it was time to do something different. I started to practice yoga and Pilates, which not only did I enjoy, but helped massively with my mental health. Covid-19 also forced me to walking more and being outdoors with my own thoughts and feelings. This is something I have continued with and walk frequently with my partner in The Yorkshire Dales and The Lake District. Nature is so empowering.All was good and going well, then the erratic sleep patterns and insomnia hit me. Yet another trip to the doctors who suggested anti-depressants and sleeping tablets, but I knew this wasn’t my answer and I wanted to cope this in alternative way. Back to the internet once again for more research, where upon I came across meditation techniques. I must say, what a revolution! I now practice meditation on a daily basis, which has helped hugely with my sleep. I’m not saying that all my menopause symptoms have suddenly disappeared, but I have realised that it is finding the right coping mechanisms and solutions for myself, which has been trial and error. Walking is also now a huge part of my life. By understanding that my symptoms are completely normal and the great awareness that there is about the menopause today, I have found a happy balance to get my life back as I want it to be. The menopause is a journey, which continually changes along the way, but it is finding the right route for yourself which is what I have learned to be the key to individual coping mechanisms.No one woman is the same and we all experience menopausal symptoms to different degrees and toady as a Life Coach I fully understand and accept this. You will get there and it is all about finding out and exploring what works for you. As a Life Coach, I will help you to do this in your own way and time, but there is great hope to deal and cope with the menopause as it is real and of course above all part of “mother nature” as well as the awareness that there is about the menopause today. I will help you on the positive journey to move forward. Stephanie TileyRead more
The aim of Life Coaching is to help the client move forward in life and achieve their personal goals. According to educational psychologists Vygotsky and Bruner, clients can improve from where they are at present to where they want to be by being scaffolded by a Life Coach. This is known as the zone of proximal development. Life Coaching by definition is a relationship between the coach and the client, which encourages growth and achievement. Coaching is not therapy or counselling, but it is a space that allows the client to explore available options, gain clarity and self-awareness to move towards achieving their personal goals. It uses positive psychological techniques to harness a client’s own personal qualities and resources. Coaching focuses on a client’s own personal qualities, skills and resources and cultivates the client’s own ability to solve problems and find solutions.Life Coaching is also holistic, which means that it encompasses the whole self, that is, the mind, body and soul. Coaching looks at the whole person, realizing that each part is inter-connected. It involves the client setting their own goals and planning how they are going to achieve them. This helps the client focus on what is achievable to them, as well as helping them focus on their own beliefs and values. Many people are influenced by the expectations of others: whether that is social norms, peer pressure of family influence. Therefore, coaching helps to challenge these beliefs, values and expectations to reveal what the client genuinely believes about the world.Life Coaching works for 2 main reasons. Firstly, coaching offers clients accountability. While it is important to take ownership of change, accountability improves the likelihood of committing to and achieving a goal. We are more likely to act if someone is holding us accountable. Secondly, coaching offers a space for the client to explore their feelings, objections and challenges when discussing their personal goals. Not only does the coach become a sounding board for the client, they are able to gain clarity through open discussion with their coach. Essentially, this space is an exploration without judgement.The coach can also support the client in challenging their belief system where it may possibly be hindering the client in their pursuit of an important goal. In this sense, the coach can challenge any limiting beliefs that the client holds through open discussion, meaning that the coach can overcome any challenges that are keeping them stuck. The client can move out of their comfort zone. Finally, having additional support can help motivate the client to go further, gain clarity and direction and ultimately achieve their goals.Read more
The Fog, Sweat & Tears Of Menopause Have you noticed that there’s a class for everything these days. And I really mean everything… you can book in for a goat yoga class or learn how to make a bike frame out of bamboo. Google it!There is education for sex and contraception, pregnancy, hypno-birthing, breast-feeding… I can go on… But when it comes to menopause, there’s next to nothing available!It feels like every other hormonal transition in life is covered educationally and a support system is put in place. But menopause is woefully under-served, leaving menopausal women to deal with their problems alone.This baffles me as, at the point in a women’s life when menopause hits, she’s most likely juggling a demanding career, looking after her family, running a busy home, or all three at once.Yet most women (ask your mother) suffer in silence and don’t make a fuss.HOLD UP!There's some dissent in the ranks. A recent government study [MB1] relating to women’s health concluded that 84% of women felt they were not listened to by healthcare professionals. And, most interestingly, a need was outlined for more menopause education. So, to start with, here’s a little bit about what’s actually going on in the body during menopause.During peri-menopause your body changes. As oestrogen levels fall, your periods may become irregular and/or heavy. You may notice that your blood pressure rises and changes in cholesterol can lead to an increased risk of heart disease. There may also be a loss in calcium from the bones which in turn raises the risk of osteoporosis. Other symptoms can include hot flushes, night sweats and poor concentration. All these symptoms are mainly due to falling oestrogen. The good news is by making simple changes to your diet and lifestyle, you can help mitigate some of those symptoms. Plant oestrogens (also called phytoestrogens) are very similar to human oestrogen and, if eaten regularly and in sufficient quantities, can start to have mild oestrogenic effects, which is useful as oestrogen levels decline. Here’s some more diet tips to help fight off some of the symptoms of menopause. Brain fogEver found yourself spaced out or unable to think straight? Water and sugar may be the key factors responsible for giving you this feeling of brain fog. Managing hydration and blood sugar levels are some simple but effective ways to reduce brain fog and improve cognition, especially in the afternoon. Improvement for your brain health is complex, but increasing consumption of oily fish, blueberries, almonds or avocado can sharpen the brain. Key for those long working days. SweatAvoiding spicy foods is a common recommendation for women going through menopause. However, evidence to support this is limited. Both caffeine and alcohol do seem to increase the symptoms of hot flushes, though.Healthy fats, such as omega-3 fatty acids found in foods such as avocado and fatty fish may benefit women going through menopause. A review of 483 menopausal women concluded that omega-3 supplements decreased the frequency and severity of night sweats. TearsApproaching middle age often brings increased stress, anxiety, and fear. This can partially be attributed to decreasing levels of oestrogen and progesterone. For some women, menopause can be a time of isolation or frustration. Family and friends may not always understand what you’re going through, or give you the support you need. It’s really important to communicate these feelings to your GP or healthcare professional.You may find that being more physically active helps with some of your menopause symptoms, reduce your hot flushes, help you manage your weight gain, lift your mood, help you sleep and reduce anxiety. Written by Kirsty Thompson dipCNM, mBANT, mAMPFounder of NutripathRead more
In the month where much of the UK shares in the sadness, loss but also the celebration of a life and reign well-lived by Queen Elizabeth II, we may be reminded of similar feelings of loss and grief of our own family members or the loss of a loved relationship. I know of people who are getting together as families to watch and experience the funeral, have seen people who have felt the urge to travel to London to pay respects and be amongst others to say a final goodbye. This support from our loved ones and to be around others who feel a similar way can be a comfort. Grief can be overwhelming and I often use Kubler Ross’s Grief and Loss Cycle to support my clients going through divorce. The loss of a relationship, whether happy or unhappy, is an experience of huge grief and loss of a partner and the emotions attached with experiencing this can be difficult to cope with as they often come in waves. In looking at Kubler Ross’s Grief and Loss cycle, it offers some clarity around the type of emotions that we can expect. Denial: ‘This can’t be happening’Anger: ‘Why is this happening to me?’Bargaining: ‘I will do anything to change this’Depression: ‘What’s the point in going on now?’Acceptance: ‘I know what happened. I can’t change it. I now need to cope’ Why might this be helpful to know? If you can identify where you are on this cycle, then it gives you power and clarity that what you are feeling is completely natural and you WILL move through. However, some of us can get stuck at a particular place on this cycle and if this is you and you find that you have been stuck in the anger or depression stage for some time, you may need to seek some extra support/help to move through. How can we think about loving again when it hurts? With any grief and loss – death of a person or a relationship, it is important to recognise that we may never quite be the same person again. I like this quote by Hilary Stanton Zunin: ‘The risk of love is loss, and the price of loss is grief – But the pain of grief is only a shadow when compared with the pain of never risking love’ A study by the Marriage Foundation said that while 45% of first marriages end in Divorce, only 31% of second marriages end in failure. Couples tend to benefit from age and experience. Sit with and understand the grief and loss process. Don’t hide it or use avoidance ‘coping’ methods which stop you from moving through the cycle such as:- alcohol, excessive work or exercise, eating, staying busy. By allowing yourself to feel the cycle of emotions and be supported through by loved ones or professionals, you WILL move through to acceptance and, believe it or not, create and plan a new and exciting chapter, which may even be better than the last!What a wonderful lady our Queen was - a mother, grandmother and great grandmother who lived a rich and faithful life. She will be missed and a new chapter begins.Read more
Difference Between Psychiatrists And TherapistsMental health is a hugely important part of overall wellbeing, and the conversation around its importance is starting to catch up with the facts. MIND report that one in four people experience a mental health problem of some kind every year in England. And recognised mental health problems aren’t even the full picture – stress from everyday life, bereavement, relationship issues, and trauma are just some examples of other mental or emotional issues people deal with daily. Psychiatrists and therapists are two of the options people looking for support for their mental health have. However, there are critical, sometimes complex differences between the two which not everybody understands. We’re here to unpack what the differences between psychiatrists and therapists are, including what they are trained to do and what qualifications they require, giving you a better idea of which one is right for you. What is a psychiatrist?Psychiatrists are medical doctors who specialise in the area of mental health. They are highly-qualified and typically very experienced professionals, capable of diagnosing and treating a broad range of mental illnesses with the objective of helping people better manage their conditions.The field of psychiatry is constantly changing and developing, but psychiatrists currently tend to provide medical support to people with recognised mental health conditions including:DepressionAnxietyObsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)SchizophreniaBipolar disorderThe role of a psychiatrist involves end-to-end care, from initial diagnoses of these (and other) mental health conditions to the production of individualised, tailored treatment plans that may involve medication. As qualified doctors, they are capable of taking on a professional medical role that includes making formal diagnoses, providing medical advice, and dispensing prescriptions. They will also often work in multi-disciplinary care teams alongside other healthcare professionals like addiction therapists or mental health nurses. The pathway to becoming a psychiatrist ensures that, upon qualification, these professionals are fully prepared for the challenges of the role. Before qualifying, they must complete a five-year medical degree recognised by the General Medical Council, a two-year foundation programme of general training, three years of core psychiatry training, and three additional years of training in a specialist area such as child and adolescent psychiatry or forensic psychiatry. What is a therapist?The word therapist is an umbrella term that covers the broad range of approaches to talking therapy. Specific disciplines within the umbrella of therapy include counselling, cognitive behavioural therapy, addiction therapy, couples therapy, and psychotherapy. Each of these talking therapies functions in a similar way, revolving around one-to-one or group sessions during which a therapist helps people to better understand and cope with the mental problems they’re facing.Importantly, therapists are typically not medically-trained professionals. This means they’re generally not qualified to provide concrete medical advice or dispense medication. Some of the titles that fall into the therapist category also aren’t strictly regulated, but certain therapists do require formal training, accreditation, or licences in order to practice. The requirements vary depending on the type of therapist.Licenced psychotherapists, for example, must have a degree in psychology or a related subject, an accredited postgraduate qualification, and 450 hours of registered practice that is recognised by the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP)Unable to dispense medication, therapists instead tend to provide a more informal way for people to deal with their emotions or mental health difficulties. In most cases, this takes the form of regular sessions where issues are talked through. Differences between psychiatrists and therapistsThe key difference between psychiatrists and therapists is in the required qualifications and accreditations of each role. Psychiatrists are medical doctors who simply specialise in mental health. They are fully medically trained and qualified, and can therefore make diagnoses, give evidence-based medical advice, and prescribe medication.Therapists, on the other hand, are typically limited to talking therapy. They don’t stray into medical discussions and are unable to make diagnoses or write prescriptions. Some therapists, including licenced psychotherapists, will be highly-qualified and accredited, but they are still not considered medical professionals.Despite their differences, however, psychiatrists and therapists can both play an important role in care plans for people with mental health conditions. A common relationship is that between a psychiatrist and a licenced psychotherapist – the former making a diagnosis and prescribing suitable medication while the latter delivers talking therapy to supplement the medical element of the treatment plan. Which one to chooseThe vast differences in the remit between psychiatrists and therapists means there are few circumstances where you’d have to choose one over the other. Instead, it’s likely that the nature of the mental health issue you’re dealing with will make the decision for you.If you’re seeking support for a recognised mental health condition such as depression, ADHD, or schizophrenia, a psychiatrist is the only option out of the two for receiving a diagnosis and exploring medication routes. If you’re not necessarily experiencing a mental health condition, but going through a rough time in your life during which you need support, a therapist may be able to provide it through talking therapy.It’s important to remember that talking therapy is not a replacement for medical care where required. It should instead be seen as a supplementary service that can potentially offer additional benefits.If you’re confused about which service you need, seeing a GP can help you to better understand where you should turn for further support.Read more
What Is Addiction Therapy?Addiction therapy is the term used to describe a wide range of talking therapies, treatments, and intervention strategies designed to treat addiction. It’s most commonly associated with the treatment of abuse of substances like drugs or alcohol that has reached the level of being classified as an addiction.However, it’s also sometimes used to help people deal with and overcome other forms of addiction, such as gambling or sex. This is because addiction therapy strategies are largely adapted from general therapeutic techniques which, in short, aim to help people explore their underlying issues and develop coping mechanisms.And, just like talking therapy for any other issue, addiction therapy comes in a range of forms. From CBT to contingency management, there are lots of different ways to address a problem with addiction, and each has its own strengths and weaknesses.We’re here to give you all of the basic information you need about addiction therapy, including when it might be appropriate, why it’s so important, and what it most often involves. What’s the difference between habit and addiction?We all know what habits are – the tendencies or routines that we’ve developed over time and that almost seem to happen subconsciously. Despite them feeling like subconscious choices, we actually have control over our habits. It may take time, but you can decide to change or stop habits altogether. An addiction is defined as a habit that is out of control. People with an addiction, no matter what they’re addicted to, are typically dependent on it to cope with their everyday life. Addictions also generally have detrimental effects on the person’s health or wellbeing, and can even negatively affect the people around them.And, while bad habits can be changed with enough effort, people with an addiction can feel an overwhelming need or compulsion to act on it regularly. This is because addictions have significant effects on brain chemistry, changing the way that dopamine (sometimes known as the brain’s reward system) is produced and released. In other words, addicted people can become reliant on the substance or activity they misuse for happiness, fulfilment, or satisfaction.Common addictions include the misuse of some of the main drugs used in the UK, such as:OpioidsCocaineBenzodiazepinesMDMAHowever, people can also be addicted to other substances, or even behaviours, including:NicotineAlcoholPainkillersSexGamblingFood If you’re wondering how to tell if your behaviour is more typical of a bad habit or an addiction, using the following checklist of questions is a good place to start:Is your behaviour having a negative impact on your life?Do you repeatedly find yourself in risky situations because of your behaviour?When you stop the behaviour, do you experience withdrawal symptoms like anxiety or stress?Have you taken any steps to hide your behaviour?Have you repeatedly, but unsuccessfully tried to stop your behaviour?Answering yes to one or more of the above questions doesn’t mean you definitely have an addiction, but it is a useful indicator that you could use to explore your behaviour further. Why is addiction therapy necessary?Given the impact that addiction has on the brain, it’s nowhere near as simple to address as a bad habit. Addiction is a chronic disease that undermines the brain’s regular functions. A simple way of thinking about it is that it changes what your brain recognises as desirable activities.The brain’s reward system typically fires when we do things like eat, talk with friends, or exercise – in other words, things that are good for our wellbeing and survival. But addiction behaviours, especially of substances, trigger the reward system, too, releasing dopamine and creating a desire to repeat the activity.Without support or treatment, people with addictions are faced with what can feel like an impossible challenge – ignoring their brain’s strongest signals. That’s why addiction therapy is so important.Designed to provide people with a space to explore their behaviours guilt-free, it can be a formative experience. The benefits of addiction therapy can include the successful development of coping strategies to deal with cravings, a change in the way you think about your behaviours, and minimisation of some of the common side effects of addiction, like anxiety or depression. Types of addiction therapyJust like therapy for other issues, such as relationship problems, mental health concerns, or childhood trauma, addiction therapy comes in a variety of forms. Each one uses a different approach to explore the factors behind the addiction, but they all make efforts to help people learn how to better control their thought-patterns and behaviour. Although not exhaustive of all potential types of therapy for addiction, these are some of the most common forms used:CBTCognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is an evidence-based therapy that shows high response rates when applied in all sorts of situations, including to address anxiety and general stress. It’s also applicable in addiction therapy. The CBT model aims to alter negative or damaging behaviours by correcting problematic thought patterns. In the case of addiction, these thought patterns relate to high-risk situations where cravings are triggered. CBT for addiction will typically aim to teach people how to better cope with these situations, imparting strategies to avoid them altogether or deal with them more effectively when they do occur.Motivational interviewingMotivational interviewing (MI) is a different type of one-on-one therapy that’s also used to support people with addictions. It focuses on helping people to understand the problems their addiction causes, and is particularly geared towards those who aren’t yet ready to properly address their behaviours.Denial is one of the most prominent barriers preventing people with addictions from making positive progress. Through non-confrontational, non-judgemental motivational interviewing, therapists can help people to recognise their problem and become more aware of the impact it has on them and others around them. This can have a motivating impact that outperforms traditional therapies.Family therapyAddictions don’t just affect the people who have them – they can also have both direct and indirect detrimental effects on the people closest to them. This includes families, which is why family therapy is another common step in an addiction therapy journey.Behavioural therapy that involves family members can give them a platform to communicate their feelings about the addiction and how it impact them. It’s also an opportunity for them to learn how to change their own behaviours to avoid enabling the addiction.Contingency management Contingency management is another type of addiction therapy, revolving around the idea of tangible rewards and consequences for certain behaviours. It’s generally applied in addiction therapy targeting people who struggle to see sobriety as its own reward, which may include young adults or teenagers.Therapists employing a contingency management approach make use of incentives such as money or retail vouchers to reward and reinforce positive behavioural changes. They may also devise disincentives to counter negative behaviours. It’s efficacy has been proven through meta-analyses, but it’s not particularly common in practice.Read more
What is the difference between a chiropractor and a physiotherapist?We all get aches and pains from time to time. But if you’re experiencing creaking joints, stiffness or pain more often than normal, you might be considering finding expert help. This is where physiotherapists and chiropractors come in. Both professions are specialists in treating problems associated with joints, muscles and nerves, and can help to reduce pain, increase mobility and rehabilitate following injury or illness. There are a lot of similarities between physiotherapists and chiropractors, including some of the benefits they can provide, but there are also some key differences. For example, physiotherapists tend to work more with muscles, while chiropractors use manipulation techniques to work on the skeleton. We’ll lay out all of the similarities and differences below so that you can make an educated choice on which is best for you. What is a physiotherapist?Physiotherapists work to improve physical function by restoring or maintaining movement in the body. Their help is commonly sought by people affected by injury, illness or disability, and they cover a wide breadth of problems. Those suffering with chronic illnesses like cystic fibrosis, MS or Parkinson’s disease may incorporate physiotherapy into their routine. It’s also often used to help rehabilitate patients following sports injuries, strokes or heart attacks. The science of physiotherapy places a big emphasis on bones, joints and soft tissue, and therefore any pain associated with these areas, whether chronic or acute, could potentially be lessened with the help of a physio. The profession is regulated by law, which means a licensed physiotherapist will have undergone rigorous training, education, and examination before they are allowed to work on your body. A physiotherapist will typically use their expertise to assess any problems that you might have, before providing tailored exercises and diet advice with the aim of strengthening these specific areas. They will also educate and offer advice to help you understand what day to day things can affect or worsen symptoms, such as how to lift heavy items correctly, or how to improve your posture to prevent further issues. In terms of direct treatment, a physiotherapist might use massage therapy, exercises, stretches, hands-on manipulation, or any combination of these techniques to relieve pain and encourage movement. They can also incorporate other elements that they believe might be beneficial, such as hydrotherapy or the use of mobility aids. What is a chiropractor? Like physiotherapists, chiropractors are also licensed professionals who have to undergo training in order to work legally. Chiropractic is an alternative medicine, which means it’s not a conventional treatment and doesn’t necessarily work on an evidence-based approach. However, there are plenty of people who praise the positive effects of chiropractic treatment, and some studies that back up its reported efficacy. Chiropractors are commonly sought out to help treat back, neck and shoulder pain. They can also provide relief from headaches and to those experiencing pain and discomfort from osteoarthritis. Some chiropractic treatments are also targeted at other conditions, such as sciatica, scoliosis, and neck-related vertigo. During a session, a chiropractor will evaluate your symptoms and physical condition, before moving on to treatment. This might involve manipulation, where the joints of the spine and limbs are adjusted by hand, causing ‘clicking’ or ‘cracking’ sounds. A chiropractor will focus on wherever there is pain or restricted movement, with the manipulations helping to increase blood flow to the area and regulate nerve conductivity. The chiropractic philosophy dictates that the interventions performed by the chiropractor in the form of adjustments and manipulations can not just release tension and improve pain, but also encourage the body to heal itself. Some patients report feeling ‘lighter’ or ‘looser’ following a session, and can move more freely. The differences between chiropractors and physiotherapists While there are many similarities between physiotherapy and chiropractic treatments, there are also some differences which are important to note before deciding which one is right for you. The main difference is that physiotherapy applies a much broader range of techniques, while chiropractic places a larger emphasis on spinal and pelvic manipulations in particular. The key differences between physiotherapists and chiropractors are as follows: PhysiotherapistChiropractorGoalImproved and pain-free movementPain relief and spinal alignmentFocusOverall movement of the bodyMostly focuses on back and neck MethodA combination of massage, stretches and manipulationsShort, forceful movements known as adjustments EnvironmentCan work from most places, including hospital or your homeSpecific equipment is normally required so sessions most often take place in a specialised space When it comes to similarities, there are still quite a few. Both physiotherapists and chiropractors use manual (i.e. hands on) therapy to achieve their goal, and they can both provide care plans for their clients to use outside of sessions. A lot of the same conditions can be treated by either a physiotherapist or chiropractor, and the main issue people seek treatment for is usually pain related. Both are licensed professionals who know how to take into account your health history, lifestyle and personal treatment goals when working with you. Which one is right for you?Whether you choose a physiotherapist or chiropractor really depends on what your specific concerns are. If you need help recovering after surgery or an injury, a physiotherapist might be the first port of call. If you are hoping to address chronic back pain, then a chiropractor might be able to provide the most relief.If you’re still not sure which is right for you, it could be worth contacting both a physiotherapist and a chiropractor to describe your issues and ask for their opinion. You could even go so far as to try a session with each to find out which is the best fit. Look to see if they have any specialisms that mean they’re well-versed in treating your specific health problem. MyHA can help you find local chiropractors and physiotherapists so that you don’t have to travel far from home (and some even offer home visits). You can browse, contact and book right now through our platform, getting you on your way to a more comfortable life.Read more
What Is A Doula?A doula is a person who provides support to women throughout pregnancy, labour, birth, and sometimes the postnatal period. They’re not medically trained and don’t provide advice, but can help with practical tasks, provide informational support based on their experience, and look after emotional needs. Doulas can be appointed at any point during pregnancy or in the weeks or months after the birth of a baby. Some doulas—typically known as birth doulas—will focus on the journey to pregnancy and labour itself, while others—called postnatal doulas—specialise in providing support in the first stage of motherhood. It’s also not uncommon for doulas to take on both duties, working with the same family from the beginning of their pregnancy into the early years of their child’s life. It's important to note that they’re not a replacement for medical professionals such as gynaecologists or midwives. Instead, they should be seen as a complementary service—providing additional support above and beyond the basics. What do doulas do?Doulas are typically highly-experienced in maternal matters, although medically untrained. Their experience and expertise means that they can be flexible to the needs of the family they’re working with, taking on a broad range of roles.Typically, doulas will provide services such as:Spend time getting to know the family they’re working with and building strong relationshipsAnswer questions about pregnancy, birthing options, and early childhood responsibilities, easing concerns with their experienceProvide emotional support, wherever it’s needed, during pregnancy and in the postnatal periodDeliver one-to-one support, encouragement, and reassurance during labour (whether at home or in hospital)Help ease the transition into feeding the new-born baby and provide other baby care supportGive new parents the opportunity to have rest, space, and the chance to talk things through in weeks following birthEvery relationship between a family and their doula is different, and the duties that doulas take on reflect that unique relationship. They’re generally highly adaptable people, capable of doing what’s needed to give families the most positive pregnancy and birthing experience. What are the benefits of having a doula?The experience that doulas bring to the table in their relationship with expectant families can be invaluable in smoothing the bumps on the life-altering journey of having a baby.Some families will find value in simply having somebody on-hand to provide information and emotional support, but there is also evidence showing that doulas can have tangible practical benefits.A synthesis study, compiling the findings from 51 other separate medical studies across 22 countries, found that the benefits of having a doula may include:Increased likelihood of a vaginal birth, and decreased likelihood of caesarean or instrumental birthsDecreased likelihood of the need for pain medicationA shorter labour processIncreased satisfaction with the birthing experienceThe communication gap between the mother and the delivery staff being bridged, resulting in smoother dialogueDecreased likelihood of the baby having a low five-minute Apgar score How much do doulas cost?There are lots of factors that affect how much a doula will cost. As with any other service, prices will change depending on where in the country they work and how much experience they have. The level of service provided will also factor into the cost, with some doulas playing a more comprehensive role than others.It’s also important to remember that doulas work in all different ways, including being self-employed, NHS employees, employees of private organisations specialising in doula care, or even volunteers. Where you find your doula will likely also have an impact on how much their services cost. As doula costs can vary broadly, it’s always a good idea to get in touch with the ones that you’re interested in learning more about and asking them directly.There are also some organisations that have networks of voluntary doulas across the country, including Doulas Without Borders, dedicated to providing support to women experiencing financial hardship. Are doulas insured?Given that they’re not medical professionals, doulas aren’t regulated or legally required to be insured. However, some will have private insurance for their services. As with cost, the answer to this question varies from doula to doula, so asking individual providers is the best way to find out. How to find a doulaYou can find doulas in your area with My Health Assistant. You’ll find all the information you need to find a doula who suits you, including a summary of their experience and any training they’ve completed, and you can contact them directly through our platform.Read more