Nutrition and Manual Therapy

In conversation with Esther Martinez, Osteopath/Physiotherapist at the Osteopathic Health Centre 

How do you use a nutritional approach to treat patients?

We tend to relate nutrition to weight issues or digestive problems but the truth is that what we eat affects every single aspect of our health.

Tendonitis, back pain, plantar fasciitis, frozen shoulder, sciatica, tennis elbow, etc. are very common issues seen in physiotherapy/osteopathy consultations. Manual therapy is very effective but we can improve the results by combining manual therapy and nutritional approach, especially in those cases where the manual therapy is not achieving the expected results or when manual therapy is effective but the symptoms keep showing up again and again (recidivant tendonitis).

So what we eat can improve or aggravate back pain?

Yes, there are different mechanisms that are involved but this time I am going to talk about acidosis, when there is too much acid in the body fluids.

In the body there are receptors that inform the brain of what is going on in the tissues.  There are mechanoreceptors that are stimulated by pressure and mechanical displacement, thermoreceptors that are stimulated by temperature changes and chemoreceptors that are stimulated by chemicals (either inside or outside the body).

Those receptors inform the brain of what type and amount of stimuli they are feeling. A small amount of pressure, cold or heat or chemical stimuli, will just send information to the brain but if the stimuli exceeds a certain threshold we will feel pain (if we hit our finger with a hammer, if we get burnt or if we are bitten by an scorpion).

The chemoreceptors in our body can be overstimulated by metabolic acidosis and therefore we can feel pain. The more acid our diet is, the more likely it is that our threshold of pain decreases. In other words we are more sensitive to pain or our ability to deal with the situation is limited.

That’s one of the reasons (among others) for why what we eat can aggravate our back pain, can retard the healing of our tendonitis, can affect our post-surgical rehabilitation or turn our sporadic pain into chronic pain.

The good news is that by combining manual therapy and nutritional treatment we can optimise results and prevent future problems.