A few months after I bought my first car, a light flashed up on the dashboard. I took it in to see Paul at the local garage. He listened to my slightly vague description of the symbol, nodded, felt around the callipers and told me that the brake pads were near their limit and ideally needed changing.
The car seemed to be braking fine. But this was a new wear indicator sensor, fitted now to most modern cars, that gave an early warning, designed to keep you out of trouble.
As the car was on the ramp, Paul called me over to have a look at the inner rim of the front tyres. "Have you felt it pulling" he asked.
Come to think of it, I had.
"The tracking is out" he said. "Give me a few minutes and I'll sort it out, but you'll need two new front tyres.”
"What causes that?” I asked
"Day to day use” he replied. "And the pot holes.” "Next time you start to feel it pulling, get in and we'll sort it before it wears the tyres out. It sounds simple. It is simple. But few people actually do it".
I smiled to myself - this sounds like my in consult discussing back and neck pain and how it was a very good analogy for me as an Osteopath.
Most people get their car serviced, unfortunately fewer get their back checked. We don't have an obvious visible dashboard light system but we do have an internalised version. An intricate electrical system of nerves that usually tells us when there is something not quite right and blood tests that can confirm the inner physiology.
Most people notice stiffness. In this analogy this is the 'tracking out'. Often a result of day to day use, not a specific event. You can still 'drive around' This is the stage to get things checked. As an Osteopath I have a detailed highly specialised knowledge of how the spine should be moving and how to adjust the joints and muscles to ensure it has maximum mobility and stability.
I have access to 'plug-in' diagnostics like MRI scans if I need to refer for them, but most diagnosis can occur fully with a comprehensive clinical examination.
Sadly few people come for an appointment at the stiffness stage, rather opting to wait and see, usually until something more significant happens and pain develops i.e. the 'tyres get worn'
Were it not for the MOT testing, I wonder how long people would choose to drive seriously defective cars...
Manual medicine involves diagnosis, mobilisation and manipulation as practised by Osteopaths. It recommended by NICE for the treatment of back pain. You do not need a referral from your GP. In fact unless there is significant acute pain requiring anti-inflammatories or muscle relaxants, seeing a GP can be fairly fruitless. Friends of mine who are GPs are the first to recognise this.
At the 'tracking out stage' ideally see an Osteopath before pain develops.
If you are reading this and have mechanical stiffness, aches or pains even if they are mild and non-limiting, get yourself checked by a Registered Osteopath. Treatment is safe and effective for people of all ages, from children to OAPs.
Most people will read this, forget about it and get on with life. Take some of the best advise anyone will give you this year.
Get your tracking sorted before the tyres wear out - get one of our friendly, thorough and experienced team of Osteopaths here at Sandbach to give your back the MOT it deserves!
Sandbach Osteopathic and Sports Injury Clinic - 1 Old Middlewich Road, Sandbach, Cheshire. Tel: 01270 759 491
Tim Martin D.O
Tim Martin is an experienced registered Osteopath and Practice Principal at Sandbach Osteopathic and Sports Injury Clinic, Sandbach, Cheshire.