More than one million people in Britain may be suffering from constant, crippling headaches because they are taking too many painkillers, experts say. The pills people take to relieve headaches and migraines may be making things much worse, according to the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) in guidance to the health service for England and Wales.

As many as one in 50 people suffer continual headaches because of “medication overuse”, NICE reports. The problem begins with taking the odd painkiller for tension headaches or migraines, which usually works. But some people take the pills more and more often, until they are on tablets for more than half the days in a month. NICE says that if this goes on for more than three months the medication ends up causing the problem it is intended to cure.

So what alternatives are there to continually popping pills?

Tension-type and neck related headaches are the most common form of headache. If you suffer from tension-type headache, then regular gentle exercise will almost certainly help – such as yoga, Pilates, swimming, walking. Some people find it hard to relax and probably don’t realise how tense they are. If someone suffers from headaches it may also be neck related due to stiffness or restrictions of the neck (cervicogenic headaches). Osteopaths look to find the cause of tensions or stiffness and seek to relieve it by helping the body achieve more mobility and flexibility.

Other lifestyle factors such as poor posture at a desk or tiredness can lead to tension-type or neck related headaches. Osteopaths look to relieve this tension and give advice on posture and exercises to do to help prevent the tension or stiffness from building up. For example we would recommend taking regular breaks from sitting at a computer desk for long periods of time or prolonged driving. Any persistent or sudden severe headache should always be checked by a GP first.

Call us for an appointment on 01392 428141 or BOOK ONLINE


With the promise of warmer weather and spring fast approaching, many of us have taken up pounding the pavements in a quest to shake the winter cobwebs or get fitter and shape up in time for the summer months.

Some people may be experienced runners, some fair weather runners and others first timers. Regardless of which category you fall into, the advice is still the same. Whilst running can provide many health benefits and can be hugely rewarding, there are a number of precautions to take to avoid injury.

1 Don’t run cold. As tempting as it may be to head straight out the door all pumped up and ready to go full speed ahead into your run, this can quite easily lead to muscle, tendon or joint strains & sprains. Start with a brisk walk for several minutes to bring your body temperature up to promote blood flow to the muscles.

2 Perform a dynamic warm up. Research suggests that static stretching may not be beneficial in preventing injury and may even be counterproductive, however a dynamic warm up is far more effective. These are controlled movements to improve range of motion, increase the heart rate, body temperature and blood flow. Examples of these can involve side stepping/weave stepping for 20 meters, skipping 20 meters, running with high knees, running with heels to bottom or running backwards until you feel sufficiently loosened off, ready to get going.

3 Start slowly. After a light jog, start to lengthen your stride but without over-extending, gradually accelerating for about 100 meters, then decelerate and repeat the process a few times.

4 Invest in a new pair of trainers or running shoes. Running with worn out footwear can put greater strain through your feet which can have a knock on effect to your knees, hips and back as well as causing muscular imbalances. It is generally recommended you replace your shoes every 300-500 miles and make sure they’re a good fit.

5 Listen to your body. If you feel like you’re over doing it and are in pain then slow down or walk. If the pain doesn’t subside within a few minutes then it may be best not to continue running. Running through pain is quite likely to lead to injury. Know your limits by testing your optimum threshold. The key is not to do too much, too soon or too fast so as not to cause self-inflicted injuries. Upping your run by 10% each time is a good way to test your limits and progress in a way your body can handle.

Don’t forget to also keep well hydrated but most importantly, enjoy yourself!

Call us for an appointment on 01392 428141 to help you reach your goals or BOOK ONLINE


Sprains and strains to muscles and joints happen to all of us and for most they are a painful, but temporary reminder to be a little more careful. Prompt action can help your body to heal faster and may prevent further injury or prolonged pain.

Strained or ‘pulled’ muscles often happen when we over exert untrained muscles, train without properly warming up or try to go beyond a joint’s natural flexibility. Sometimes we feel the pain straight away, however some injuries might not cause pain until later on.

What can you do for your injury?

Remember RICE (Relative rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation), using these can help to relieve the pain and start the healing process.

Relative rest: The first thing to do if you feel pain is to reduce the offending activity – pain is usually your body’s way of telling you that there is something wrong that needs your attention. It can be normal to feel a little sore after exercises for a day or two, but if it is more than this, pushing through the pain is rarely beneficial.

However, movement stimulates the healing process so stay as mobile as you comfortably can. Try to keep the joint moving through a comfortable range of motion, without forcing it to the point of pain. This will help to encourage blood flow and keep your joint flexible whilst it heals. This is particularly relevant for back pain as gentle exercise, such as walking, can help. You should slowly build your activity levels up as soon as your symptoms begin to resolve and as soon as you are able.

Ice: Cooling the area using an ice pack can help to reduce pain and speed recovery. Wrap a thin tea towel around the area so as to avoid direct skin contact and then apply the pack to the injured area for 10 – 15 minutes. You should repeat this several times per day for the first 3 days. This will help to control inflammation, making it easier for your body to get blood and nutrients to the area and resolve the injured tissues.

Compression: Gently applying a compression bandage may help to temporarily support the injured joint and reduce swelling, though remove this immediately if there are signs that this is reducing the circulation to the area (numbness, pins and needles, the skin turning white or blue etc).

Elevation: If the injury is in the lower limb (knee or ankle), elevating the area a little can make it easier for your body to drain fluids that might accumulate around the area, causing swelling. For example, if you’ve hurt your knee, sitting down with the knee raised on a low foot stool may ease your pain.

Visit an Osteopath: We can assess your injury, give you a diagnosis, advise you on the correct treatment, and can provide manual therapy and exercise advice which can help you to recover faster.
Call us to book your appointment on 01392 428141

Seek medical attention. If you have pain that can’t be controlled with over the counter painkillers, can’t put weight on the injured limb, experience paralysis or loss of sensation or the swelling is very bad seek help from your local A&E department, urgent care centre or telephone 111 for advice.



70 years ago the NHS was set up to combat certain diseases such as polio and typhoid. Now these diseases have be eradicated in the western world. So, why is the NHS bursting its seams? Well, forward 70 years, what is the biggest issue with the NHS now? The answer is obesity, diabetes and an ageing population. The age issue is due to the miracle of modern medicine which is letting people living longer. The former two are due to lack of exercise, poor diet and increased stress levels in our lives.


So, how should we live our lives? What is the perfect way we should live? What creates longevity?

I had grandparents that lived well into their ninety’s. What was their secrete for living a healthy life?

I have come up with five elements for a long healthy life-


  • Exercise
  • Eating a balanced diet & drinking in moderation
  • Stress
  • Sleep
  • Happiness/love


Exercise- Very important the cardiovascular system stays strong, helps keep weight down and strengthens bones and muscles which help recover from injuries and illnesses quicker. Being overweight causes huge stress to the body’s structure.


Diet- In the old days, there were not  any takeaways. Food was freshly bought every day and there wasn’t any overeating in general, therefore we had a basic diet. Eating fresh food of seasonal meat and vegetables, and staying away from takeaways and processed foods and more importantly don’t over eat. Drink in moderation, see government guidelines on drinking and stick to it.


Stress-  There are lots of forms of stress which are detrimental to your health, but there are good forms of stress which make the body stronger such as exercise. Poor stress increases blood pressure, affects sleep and causes irritations to the skin and gut.


Sleep- Very important for recovery of general wellbeing, lack of sleep causes poor decision making and poor recovery of the body’s tissues and therefore recovery from injury.


Happiness- Very important for feeling great, either through your other half, friends or work colleagues or you do things that make you happy. You hang around with positive people not negative people to feel great. If you don’t, over a period of time this will affect your wellbeing.


So, what does this have to do with osteopathy? Osteopathy is a holistic treatment. We look at the cause of your symptoms, we like to look at the bigger picture of what is causing your complaints. So when we do a case history and chat to you during treatments, we are hopefully finding out more about what could be the main cause or causes of your symptom or symptoms. The above gives us a huge amount of information of giving us clues of what could be going on in your life and can then help us help you.


Book Now for more lifestyle advice and pain relief.




There is a lot of research now showing that inactivity is as bad for us as smoking for our long term health


and ).

Did you know that even 10 minutes, yes JUST 10 MINTUES of brisk walking counts as exercise? And by brisk, I don’t mean a gentle stroll. In order to get you heart pumping and blood flowing you do need to put some effort in. As a rough guide, you should be able to speak, but not form a complete sentence without taking a breath.

Aside from the long term health benefits (reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes, breast cancer, colon cancer), exercise also helps us to lose weight which can really help our joints. Imagine you are carrying a heavy bag around all day which is the extra weight bearing down on our joints.

Call us now to book your pre-exercise MoT or book online

01392 428141



All of us have varying degrees of elasticity, or “stretch”, of our ligaments (ligaments attach bone to bone, like at a joint). Some people have extra stretchy ligaments which make them hypermobile and so their joints are very flexible. The pay off for this extra mobility is less stability. This can lead to muscles working overtime to stabilise joints which can lead to aches, pain, and feelings of stiffness (see previous blog article).

Here’s the tricky part…it often feels good to stretch the muscles to ease the achy pain…and short term it does. However stretching muscles lengthens them, this in turn leads to less support of a joint and the muscles have to work hard again, the pain returns and so on. It becomes a vicious cycle.

What can you do? Come and see an osteopath who can tell you if you are hypermobile. If you are hypermobile, then don’t worry, there are things you can do to help…

1) It may be difficult but STOP STRETCHING. It’s only continues the problem.

2) START STRENGTHENING. Strengthen your muscles so they can support your joints easily.

3) Try massage for pain relief. It relaxes the muscles without lengthening them.


Book Online now


There is a lot of scientific research coming out right now about the sensation of stiffness in the back and what it means. What’s has been discovered is that FEELING stiff does not equate to BEING stiff. There is no link between feeling stiff in the back and a reduction in movement of the back, rather it is a sensation that we FEEL in order to protect an area…FEELING stiff is a protective response.

When you start to FEEL stiff, this is the best time to come and see your osteopath, rather than waiting until the pain really kicks in…LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. IT’S TRYING TO TELL YOU SOMETHING! So many of my clients say the wished they’d come in earlier while their back pain was just a niggle, rather than leaving it until things got worse.

We can find out the source of your stiffness, figure out why your body is trying to protect itself, and sort things out for you so they don’t get worse.

Book Online or call us on 01392 428141


Tired of Not Sleeping?

Over the last couple of months I have noticed how many patients comment that their sleep is ‘rubbish’ when questioned about it. This can vary between having difficulty falling asleep to not being able to sleep at all.

These chronic sleep problems can lead to chronic health problems. Studies suggest that inadequate sleep may adversely affect our immune system. Many of the major restorative functions in the body like muscle growth, tissue repair, protein synthesis, and growth hormone release occur predominantly or only during sleep.

Types of Insomnia:

· Difficulty falling asleep (sleep-onset insomnia) – the most common type

· Waking up in the night and not being able to get back to sleep

· Waking up too early in the morning and not being able to get back to sleep

· Not feeling refreshed after sleep

Acupuncture for Insomnia

In clinical research trials, acupuncture for insomnia appears to be at least as effective as existing conventional drugs without the side effects and should be considered as one of the therapeutic options for insomnia.

Acupuncture may specifically benefit people with insomnia by:

· Increasing production of nocturnal melatonin, a hormone believed to regulate sleep

· Stimulating natural opioids which reduce anxiety and pain

· Promoting normal function of brain tissues

· Calming sympathetic nervous activity, promoting relaxation

· Altering the brain’s mood chemistry to calm and reduce tension See for more evidence based research

I have seen fantastic results using acupuncture to help with sleep problems. It can sometimes take regular treatment over time to get the best results but in some cases one or two treatments is enough to reset the body and help achieve a good nights sleep.

Here’s what a patient had to say after receiving acupuncture for insomnia:

‘Having suffered insomnia for the last year since going through the menopause, I decided to try acupuncture. I was waking many times in the night, often waking at 2 or 3am and not being able to go back to sleep. I was left extremely fatigued all day and completely drained by the end of it.

After treatment, I immediately felt relaxed. From having five sessions so far, my sleep has definitely improved. I have noticed that I am waking less frequently in the night and when I do wake, I am going back to sleep faster. I am also not getting so hot at night either. As a result of having deeper sleep, I am waking feeling more refreshed and ready for the day for the first time in ages.’ I am definitely going to recommend acupuncture to a few of my friends who are also struggling with sleep’.

For more information on acupuncture see



Book with Esmee here online for your 1st step towards a restful nights sleep or call 01392 428141



Whilst we can all acknowledge that it might not be the most exciting of drinks to have, the benefits of regular water consumption should never be ignored. With the body being made up of 70% water, it is important to keep our body hydrated even in this rather wet summer.  When asking patients how much water they drink a day, often the response is ‘Well I drink a lot of tea!’, unfortunately in most teas there is an element called Tannin which can add to dehydration and thus we feel more thirsty and drink more tea.  If its not tea then most of the time, we will have fruit flavoured squash or cold fizzy drinks, lovely tasting but how good are they?

Numerous studies highlight the detrimental effects that certain sugary beverages can have on our bodies and although the sugar free option seems enticing and healthier, the reality is that it is probably just as bad as the original drink.  A new study published online suggests that artificially sweetened drinks can lead to a higher risk of stroke and dementia developing ( Drinking sugary drinks can also deplete us of minerals that water can provide and can lead to fatigue, mood changes, headaches and a reduction in concentration.

The World Health Organisation, suggests that we need to be drinking at least 2 litres of water a day. Around a litre of this amount we can derive from fruit and vegetables. Aside from keeping us hydrated, water helps to flush out toxins in the body which may have developed through injury, illness or a bad diet. So water really is a beneficial drink to have by your side.

If you need further convincing,  a patient who had been suffering from chronic migraines for 15 years admitted to taking up drinking two litres of water a day. It took 2 years to clear but he is now free of migraines…. all because of water!

Book online now for more helpful advice from Osteopath Kieron Kerr.



When it comes to headaches the first thing to recognise is that not all headaches are the same. Therefore, one treatment method may not be right for treating all types of headaches. There are five main categories of headaches: Tension headaches, Cluster headaches, sinus headaches, Rebound headaches and Migraine headaches.

In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), these classifications do not exist as much, instead each individual is diagnosed by what ‘channel’ or ‘organ’ pathology is being affected and therefore, causing the headache. In TCM, a headache has two parts: the root and the branch. The root is whatever is causing the headache, and the branch is the pain itself. Acupuncture works to treat both the root and the branch, so the result is more long-term, instead of just temporarily relieving the pain.

A new study concludes that acupuncture is effective for relieving headaches. Investigators note that acupuncture reduces the intensity and duration of headaches. In addition, they suggest that acupuncture can reduce the need for “drug therapies and is a valuable option for patient suffering from CDH [chronic daily headache].”

In this controlled study, verum acupuncture was compared with sham acupuncture. The verum acupuncture group improved significantly over the control group. Verum acupuncture significantly reduced the frequency, intensity and duration of chronic daily headaches. The research notes that acupuncture is effective for reducing the intensity of pain for chronic tension headaches and migraines. In addition, patients suffering from nausea due to headaches and migraines showed a significant decrease in nausea levels.

In related recent research, acupuncture was found more effective and safer than a migraine medication. Researchers discovered that acupuncture effectively reduced migraine pain intensity levels and no adverse effects occurred. In the same study, patients receiving the medication valproic acid did not have the same level of clinical benefits as acupuncture and with nearly 50% of patients experiencing adverse side effects from the drug. The outcomes were measured six months after the study had been completed. This demonstrates that acupuncture has long term benefits for patients with migraines and that it is both safe and effective. Read More -Health CMI

Book now with Esmee to quickly resolve your headaches

either ONLINE or call us on 01392 428141

We aim to provide immediate relief from unnecessary aches and pains through a variety of treatments; enabling you to live a more active, healthy and pain-free life.

Recent Posts

Contact Us

© 2018 Exeter Osteopaths | Website design by Nettl