October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but it’s really important that we all get in the habit of checking for lumps, bumps and any strange squidgy bits regularly. And not just the ladies – although rare, breast cancer CAN and DOES affect men too, usually indicated by a lump or swelling in the breast area.
It’s not hard to do and you don’t need any special training, just a bit of TLC:
Make sure you check the whole of your chest area – your breasts, up to the collarbone, down across your sternum/breast bone and out into your armpits. Whilst pain and tenderness doesn’t usually indicate anything nasty, look out for any persistent sore, tender spots.
What are you looking out for?
You’re looking for anything different in feel and/or appearance – lumps or swellings, puckering or dimpling of the skin, discolouration or reddening and inflammation, nipple changes, oozing or discharge, changes in shape or size of breast… Basically, if they’re different from usual, get them checked out!!!
Get used to how they feel at different times of the month too as they may change with our monthly cycle – sometimes a bit more puffy and bloated, sometimes tender, sometimes a bit more lumpy – and they change with age too. Just get used to how yours feel by feeling them regularly – at least each week – and note any differences or changes.
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And then what?
If you notice any changes or find anything abnormal, it's really important to make an appointment to see your GP ASAP - they will probably examine your breasts and may refer you on for further checks at the breast clinic - not because you've definitely got breast cancer, but they just need to get further checks done.
You can always request to see a female doctor, and you're able to ask for a nurse to sit in with you - or can take a friend or family member if you're more comfortable with that. Just please, don't ignore it!
(And just to reassure you, it’s really not too scary. I’ve got a family history of breast cancer (they’re all good, thank goodness), so I get prodded, poked and scanned every so often. It’s a bit weird and a bit squeezy at times, but it’s definitely worth checking yourself regularly, and being checked out if necessary.)
Today is World Menopause Day – an annual event that aims to raise awareness of the menopause and the effects of the menopause on our health and wellbeing.
Menopause is a natural part of ageing, but it can be difficult to deal with.
Many women go through menopause and experience symptoms like hot flushes and night sweats, mood swings, anxiety or depression. One of the often common, but overlooked, symptoms are generalised aches and pains – something that we see every day in clinic.
Not all women will have the same symptoms – some might not even notice them at all – whereas others find them crippling and hugely impactful. This makes it hard for many women to know if their symptoms are down to menopause.
Why does menopause occur?
Oestrogen is a hormone mainly produced in the ovaries and is responsible for controlling many functions in the body including the production of an egg each month (ovulation). As a woman gets older, their store of eggs in the ovaries naturally declines. Menopause occurs when your ovaries stop producing eggs and your body’s oestrogen levels fall. As a result, there are many changes that can occur to the body including no longer having periods and the symptoms we associate with the menopause.
There are many symptoms associated with the menopause, usually the result of hormone imbalance and lack of oestrogen. These include: hot flushes, joint aches and muscle pains, weight gain, depression and anxiety, sleep problems, vaginal dryness, night sweats, low mood, low libido, headaches, low energy, disrupted periods, painful sex, brain fog – but there are many more!
The focus for World Menopause Day 2021 is bone health. Raising awareness of the menopause and its associated symptoms encourages early diagnosis and treatment of related conditions such as osteoporosis. Osteoporosis (and osteopenia) is a reduction in bone density which often affects postmenopausal woman more than others in the population due to the lower bone density levels after years without periods. There are many ways that you can keep your bones healthy and strong - regular exercise and activity is hugely important and also helps prevent falls and resultant breaks and fractures.
Raising awareness of the menopause gives people who are experiencing any form of discomfort during this time a chance to speak openly about their experiences while raising awareness among friends, family members, colleagues.
After all, it’s something that will affect pretty much every single woman on earth!
For more information, visit The British Menopause Society or chat things through with Elisabeth in clinic.
Not exactly a year of ‘clarity’, ’insight’ and ‘2020 vision’ as we might have hoped…
Had anyone said that they’d set up a clinic at the start of a pandemic, they’d have been told they were completely mad - and I would have had to agree with them!
I opened the Wye Valley Chiropractic Clinic in the Autumn of 2019 having moved on from my clinic in Anglesey where we’d lived for the last 12 years whilst my husband, a former fast-jet pilot, was flying at RAF Valley.
The clinic was really ‘launched’ in New Year 2020 and all went swimmingly in Ross for the first couple of months, with patients finding out about us and spreading the word to their friends and families. Clinic became busier, and I was in the process of getting a receptionist and recruiting an associate to start in the summer, when we were all thrown into lockdown at the end of March.
It was a worrying time for us all; we were scared of Covid-19, no one knew how we’d survive weeks on end in isolation, away from friends and family, starved of social contact and every day activities and entertainments. For me, it was the first time in 20 years that I’d not been able to practice, and being told to stop made me realise two things: i) just how hands-on and people-centred our job is, and ii) just how much I enjoy what I do, and what a huge part of my life it has become.
After the initial shock of lockdown, I quickly adjusted to the enforced time away from clinic. Fortunately the weather was kind, and I enjoyed long, lazy days in the garden, weeding the rose-bed and planting up the vegetable patch.
I spent many happy hours exploring the gorgeous Herefordshire countryside, and was hugely grateful to live in such a beautiful part of the country. We also reared a baby pheasant ‘Cheep Cheep’ who’d been abandoned as a hatchling in our garden - a fantastic lockdown project and one which provided many hours of fun.
Like many, I adapted to life ‘online’ and attended numerous workshops and webinars, updating my knowledge base and catching up with friends and colleagues from around the world, albeit in a ‘virtual’ arena!
I embraced modern technology and started offering ‘telehealth’ appointments for patients - perhaps not ideal for those more used to hands-on treatment, but it was very good to be able to offer advice, reassurance and rehabilitative exercises to people who were struggling during lockdown. I worked with colleagues who have since written up several papers for publication in scientific journals about the use of virtual consultations in chiropractic.
Fortunately, we were able to resume face-to-face contact for the majority of our patients at the end of June, following guidance from the government and our own professional regulatory bodies. We’d undertaken a thorough (and regularly reviewed) risk-assessment and implemented a number of changes in clinic to keep our patients (and the wider community) safe. Rigorous cleaning and sanitisation protocols, reduced footfall and fewer appointments to clinic, increased ventilation and full PPE for me.
It was hot and frustrating at times, and admittedly took some getting used to! With over 20 years’ clinical experience with emphasis on a ‘professional, yet friendly’ approach, it was very strange to be hidden behind a white coat, mask, apron, gloves and visor. It was only when I went to see my own chiropractor for a check-up (too much gardening!) that I realised just how intimidating we looked! My mum said that she thinks of me like an orchid in the supermarket, carefully wrapped up in plastic and a cellophane shield - a rather lovely analogy and much better and less hostile than the alien spaceman I feared I resembled!
Despite the rustly apron and fugged-up visor, it was lovely to be back in clinic, helping patients with their aches and pains, sore backs, necks, knees, hips and shoulders. So many people had struggled during lockdown - not only with their physical health, but their mental wellbeing too. Many of our patients live alone, and for some, coming to the clinic was the only social interaction that they had. It was hugely rewarding for me too, to resume some element of normality and help people to get back on track, free from aches and pains. Having had time away from clinic I was reminded just how much I enjoy what I do, and what a privilege it is to be able to help people.
I think we’ve all adjusted to a ‘new normal’ - a normality of face-masks, social distancing, hand-sanitisers and fist-bumps. Gone are the formal handshakes and the friendly hugs, and it is sad to not be able to see smiles and laughs as before. But we’ll get back to that eventually.
So, we’ll carry on as we are in 2021 and hopefully with the vaccine, restrictions will gradually ease, and we’ll get back to the ‘old normal’ one day!
In the meantime, an enormous thank you to you all for your support, smiles and laughter behind the masks! And well done! We’ve done it! We’ve got to the end of the year, and if nothing else, at least we all know how to spell ‘unprecedented’…
After a summer of staycations and day trips, we’re all slowly easing into a ‘new normal’.
The Wye Valley Chiropractic Clinic re-opened at the end of June when lockdown was eased, and we're delighted to be able to see everyone again in person, albeit hidden behind a mask! We're still offering virtual 'telehealth' consultations for those patients that don't wish to come into clinic.
We've been following the guidance from our professional regulators, the government and Public Health England regarding what precautions we have to take to keep you, and us, safe. At present it's full PPE for me (gloves, aprons, visor and mask) - hot, crackly and a bit intimidating for patients - and face-masks for patients. We've also spaced appointments apart to reduce footfall to clinic and allow time for cleaning and sanitising between patients - it all takes a little bit longer, so thank you for your patience!
We're taking on New Patients, so if you haven't been to clinic before and are struggling, please just give us a call 01989 567222 or drop an email!
We’ve all seen the easing of lockdown conditions in recent weeks - we can gather in slightly larger groups, travel a little further, exercise as much as we want - and even get a coffee from a drive-thru!
And we're now able to see patients, face-to-face!
As chiropractors, we’ve all been watching and waiting, and following the guidance as it is interpreted by our professional bodies and regulators. The main problem is that it’s really not possible to ‘socially distance’, maintaining the all-important >2metre spacing, when we do our hands-on job. Short of growing Mr Tickle arms!!!
However, we’re now able to see people face-to-face, who are in urgent need, in clinic.
But how urgent is urgent?
It’s really anyone who has been struggling, and continues to struggle, or who’s pain and disability is severely impacting their everyday lives. Or it’s the sort of problem that would lead you to seek out another healthcare professional.
At the end of the day, the easiest thing is for you to simply give us a call as we can advise you of the best course of action, and whether an appointment might be suitable for you, or whether we can help ease things with some advice and recommendations. 01989 567222
We’ve done a thorough risk assessment in clinic and implemented a few changes to help to keep you, and us safe:
Thank you for your ongoing support and consideration.
I hope that this message finds you all safe and well!
The past few weeks have been very challenging for us all as we’ve ‘stayed home, and stayed safe’. We’re now into the next phase, but must continue to follow the Government guidelines in order to control this pandemic.
Since closing our doors on 23rd March 2020, we’ve continued to provide care via online telehealth consultations, giving advice and reassurance to our patients. However, many of you have been asking when we might re-open our doors to face-to-face consultations, particularly in light of the recent updates from the Government regarding Covid-19.
Safety is paramount!
As always, your safety and wellbeing is paramount, together with the responsibility that we play to the wider community.
We are constantly reviewing and updating our protocols in order to make the clinic as safe as possible, to keep you safe and reduce the risk of transmission of Covid-19 to an absolute minimum. We are following the guidance from the Government, Public Health England, and our own regulatory and professional bodies - guidance that seems to change on a daily basis!
Thank you for your ongoing support and patience - we very much hope that we will be able to re-open in just a few weeks, hopefully in early June. In the meantime, we MAY be able to deliver hands-on care, but only in case of emergency, the most urgent and essential of cases, and only following telephone/video consultation with the chiropractor.
Please call us on 01989 567222 or email email@example.com if you’d like advice or guidance.
We look forward to seeing you all back in clinic, hopefully sooner rather than later!
The health and wellbeing of our patients and local community is of paramount importance to us, but we also have a wider responsibility to public health and society in general.
So, at present, we are unable to see patients face-to-face in clinic due to the Coronavirus pandemic, but we are offering virtual 'telehealth' online consultations to ensure that we are still able to give you the advice, reassurance and self-management strategies that will help to get you back on track.
But how can you help me if you’re not there, in front of me, in clinic?
From our experience, there are several things that you want as a patient when you come to see us in clinic.
And none of this requires a face-to-face visit, or hands-on treatment!
Whilst chiropractors are perhaps best-known for the hands-on treatment we provide, much of the benefit actually comes from the advice, exercises and self-management strategies that we are able to work through with you.
And whilst we are in ‘lock-down’, unable to see patients in clinic, we have the skills and knowledge to deliver this online.
During a telehealth consultation* we can:
*We use a secure online platform (doxy.me) that is specifically designed for telehealth consults. It’s easy to use, we simply send you a link that you just click. And we can always switch the camera off if you’re feeling shy! And it technology fails, we can always revert to a good, old-fashioned telephone!
So, not sure whether to make an appointment?
Give us a call! 01989 567222
We’re happy to chat things through, give advice and work out whether you need a more detailed assessment.
For our existing patients and for new enquiries, we are, as always, happy to give advice on the phone, free of charge. This might include an update on how you’re doing, a review of any exercises, or advice you might have been given, or whether you require more help from us.
Basically, if you would have made an appointment to come and see us in clinic, you should probably make an appointment to come and see us ‘online’!
How much does it cost?
We’re charging less than we would normally do in clinic, even though we give you as much (if not more!) time and expertise.
Initial consultation (45-60 mins) £44 (usually £54)
Follow-up appointment (20-30 mins) £34 (usually £38)
Still not sure?
Just get in touch! Email, message on Facebook, or just call 01989 567222 - we’re happy to chat things through
Elisabeth Angier, DC, is an experienced chiropractor with over 20 years' in clinical practice. She writes about hints and tips she gives to patients, and shares some of the wisdom and life experiences she has learned over the years.