With the daily media bombardment about COVID, it is no wonder that fear is generally growing. Fear of the social impact of another lockdown, fear of the uncertainty of our livelihoods and even fear of our very existence. Staffordshire has announced that it will go to Tier 2 at midnight on Friday and this will inevitably raise the fear factor higher.
Mental health has taken a back step with this pandemic and never before in my working life has there been so much anxiety, loneliness and grief hidden away in society.
Your pain, whether physical, mental or both, isn’t going to disappear and many of you are going to need a lot of help in the coming months. Increasingly, we are being asked to help guide people through these difficult times both mentally and spiritually, the latter problems only serving to multiply the actual physical pain.
We Are Staying Open
We know that stress lowers our immunity and raises our sensitivity to pain. Gold standard trials have also proven a relationship between lifestyle stressors and white cell count. What this means is that stress, if left untreated, will slow down your ability to heal, plus worsen your response to pain, inflammation and disease. Yet psychosocial pain is, I believe, wrongly still an afterthought in western medicine, even though more often than not, it holds the key to hidden trauma and deep emotional stress.
At this clinic, we have long recognised the importance of looking at the whole person, rather than just the location of pain. That’s why, even though I am highly qualified in western medical techniques, I have written 5 books on a more holistic approach. In my first book, The 4 Keys To Health, I introduced a simple traffic light scoring system which encompassed the psychosocial factors that affect our health and which can cause so much of our pain.
Our goal is thus to help people in all aspects of their health and never before in my lifetime has there been such an urgent need for this approach. Beyond treating your pain, we wish to get you to as close optimum health as possible to help protect your immune system.
That’s why at the clinic we love to build a relationship with our clients to prescribe a tailor-made treatment plan, working out the best way to help with the mind set and adding in massage, and technology such as laser, shockwave, deep oscillation, acupuncture and IMS dry needling.
Keeping Abreast Of Research
We are constantly monitoring recent research to find new techniques to help. As an example, a recent Harvard trial successfully used electroacupuncture to improve survivability in COVID infected mice. This is highly relevant research, as in some cases it has been shown that it is the human bodies over response to COVID infection which has caused excessive inflammation [cytokine storm], leading in some cases to death. The research findings are significant. Electroacupuncture treatment before the cytokine storm increased survivability by a factor of four, from 20% to 80%. When applied after the cytokine storm, survivability increased by three-fold, from 20% to 60%. Both are huge benefits and it emphasises the benefit of preventative treatment.
As a result of our integrative approach to treatment, combining orthodox western medicine with alternative, we routinely carry out electroacupuncture here.
For those of you who need our help, we are open and will continue to be open unless forced to close by government ruling.
None of us know how long this pandemic is going to last, but the expectation is that it’s going to be a long time. If the availability of treatment is shut off there is going to be a drastic rise in pain and suffering. We have already seen this in the lockdown with patients begging us to see them. That’s why I believe it is so important that we stay open in the coming months.
Our patients are so grateful that we are here now to help them with their pain, pain they suffered for months without any help during lockdown. They have bombarded us with thanks. We will continue to stay open and help you unless and until the government dictates otherwise. Sadly, the chances are there will be few, if any, alternatives for you.
Control Your Stress Now And Improve Your Resistance To Disease
While the government is correct to react to rises in cases, we each need to keep in perspective what the tier trigger points represent, so that we can keep better control of our stress. Tier 2 is triggered at 100 per 100,000 population. Put another way, on average you would need to get close to 1000 people before you are likely to be near a COVID positive risk. How likely, if you are careful, are you to interface closely with 1000 people, especially in these troubled times? Maintain social distancing and always wear a mask to reduce your chances of infection further.
What does this tell us? Mix only with people you are reasonably sure act sensibly and act sensibly yourself. Nothing is guaranteed in life, but by acting sensibly and taking all possible precautions, you can use your own positive response to improve your health.
COVID-19 has had a dramatic affect on all our lives and not surprisingly at Nicky Snazell Clinic as well. Our foremost concern is the safety of patients and staff and we strive to stay fully up to date with the almost daily changes and wherever possible keep ahead of the curve. More on that later.
Even if you are an existing patient, but definitely if you are a new patient, we will take you through a screening process to make sure it is safe and justified for you to come in for treatment. There will be quite a few questions, and we ask you to bear with us on this as it’s all in our best interests. For sure, the questions asked will constantly change in line with latest guidelines. Where the risk is deemed higher, then a more detailed assessment will be needed with a physiotherapist, before treatment can be authorised.
Please note that in cases where you may need to be accompanied, then that person also has to pass screening to be allowed on site.
Changes At The Clinic
All of our 13,000 plus patients will know that our aim has always been to create a welcoming, peaceful and relaxing environment from the moment you walk in the door. Well that of course, to an extent, went out the door when we adjusted rapidly to the pandemic. Our waiting room has been effectively closed and patients are now asked to wait in their cars until their allotted start time. At that point they should come in alone with a face mask on, use the readily available hand sanitiser and their therapist, wearing full PPE, will take them to the treatment room.
At the end of the appointment the therapist will, if necessary, book a follow-on appointment and we then ask that you go to reception, where we have installed protective screens, to pay in advance for the next appointment. To speed this process, we now only take payment by card and by touch whenever possible. Where a payment requires a pin, the terminal is sanitised after use.
We then ask that you leave the clinic immediately as we want to minimise time that patients are in the clinic. Please don’t think we are being rude if we don’t chat as we used to. We are minimising your time on site. We have also staggered the start times between therapists, to avoid multiple patients being on site outside of a treatment room at the same time.
All rooms are sanitised between treatments and thus treatment times will be slightly shorter. In addition, we use a spray which lasts up to 5 hours on surfaces and this is used on all common touch points every 3 hours. Thus, for example, when you open the door to come in, you can be sure that the handle and surrounding woodwork will have been sprayed and is as safe as is practical.
We understand of course that some patients will need to use the toilet and we request that if needed, you first advise us so that we can sanitise after each use. Note, however, that the toilet is also thoroughly sanitised every 3 hours with our 5 hour effective spray. Please try to avoid the need to use our facilities wherever possible.
We require that you use a face mask which covers your mouth and nose at all times while inside the clinic. All of the available scientific information supports the need to wear masks inside a building. It is important for each of us to realise that wearing a mask helps protect those around us from us. By not wearing a mask properly, this would be putting our staff at additional risk and this is not acceptable.
Patients at times have found difficulty in wearing a mask, but we politely request that you must do so for the short time on site. Bear in mind that our staff are in full PPE all day to protect you.
Patients who do not comply with this request may be refused further treatment.
We also need your help in running to time. It is vital that you have vacated the treatment room on time, leaving sufficient time for the room to be sanitised. Any overrun will mean that patients will be held in the waiting room and this is not acceptable.
Payment In Advance
We have changed our payment procedure, as we now ask for payment in full at time of booking and in 99.9% of cases this has been fully understood and accepted. On one or two occasions, however, patients have misunderstood our reasoning for this. We have made this change by necessity, as many patients leave the building immediately after their treatment and it would be totally unworkable for us to have to continuously call patients to take payment. We had to come up with a single system for all, so this change is not a reflection on any one patient.
Staying Ahead Of The Curve
Part of our role is to stay up to speed with the ongoing changes caused by our government updates, but in addition, we, and in fact all of us, can choose to operate more safely if we wish. An example would be that last night Scotland announced that most COVID-19 infections were caused by meeting people from outside our household within our homes and thus banned this. In England a more relaxed position has been taken. It is, however, up to us to decide which position is more in our best interest. If we at the clinic feel it worthwhile to use more strict guidelines to help protect all, then we reserve the right to do so.
Having lived in the USA twice, I personally check in on their news channels and in particular I look for information from Dr Anthony Fauci, who is the USA’s leading disease expert, having been advisor to the last six Presidents. He talks more openly and simply than we tend to get in the UK. He is also completely apolitical and is only interested in scientific proof. There is also a wealth of real world, scientifically based information put out by Dr Sanjay Gupta.
Yesterday Dr Gupta interviewed Dr Fauci and for those who want a better insight and understanding of where we are right now, then I recommend you watch the interview on YouTube.
For those who don’t have time to watch this, here are some snippets:
- Dr Fauci is optimistic that a vaccine may be ready for approval by November or December, based on the limited results available in the small-scale phase one and two trials. But, and this is a big but, the all important large scale phase 3 trials are double blind, placebo controlled trials and so even he has no idea what the current results are. In fact, nobody does, except one or two statisticians who see unblinded results. In simple terms, a double blind trial means that only the statisticians know who is getting the placebo and who is getting the vaccine being tested, not even the manufacturers, as the trial is conducted by an independent group. This is the gold standard for scientific testing and is not something that can be politically manipulated.
- The best advice is that we must all wear face masks if social distancing can’t be maintained.
- What we didn’t know a few months ago was that 40% to 45% of COVID positive people were asymptomatic, nor were we aware that a substantial proportion of the infections were coming from those who were without symptoms. That makes it overwhelmingly important to wear a mask.
- There is a suggestion that some of the virus droplets in the air may be light enough to hang around and circulate, thus acting as an aerosol. The facts are we don’t know yet, but in many respects, it doesn’t matter. It just emphasises the advice given: wear a mask, keep your distance, avoid crowds, wash hands regularly, ventilate rooms.
- Yes, the elderly are more at risk, but people with underlying conditions, at any age, are at risk.
The overwhelming issue is that we all need to get on with our lives while we minimise our risk during this pandemic. We believe we are taking every possible step to minimise that risk and that we have created a far safer environment than most.
Take care, be safe, think of others
Some of you may remember the time when there was a national outcry about the so-called ‘post code lottery’ with the treatment on offer from the NHS varying dependent on where you lived.
Subsequently a new organisation, NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) was setup to take responsibility for authorising which treatments should be made available in the NHS. Those treatments approved were then to be made available by the NHS equally to everybody and thus put an end to the so-called post code lottery.
NICE thus has essentially total control of what the NHS can and cannot offer. Their published guidelines are broadcast by the press, radio and TV and as such the general public are influenced by the NICE recommendations. This in turn has an indirect impact on private healthcare providers, as the public perception on what is good, bad and ugly will align with what they see and read in the media.
Acupuncture In The NHS
Over recent years acupuncture acceptance in the NHS has generally been in decline, with some regions considering it quackery, using the NICE guidelines as support, while others still considered it a valuable treatment. Some of our own therapists who worked part time with us, and full time at the NHS, reported being banned from using acupuncture in the NHS and they came to us to retain their skills in what they considered a beneficial treatment.
Back Pain and Acupuncture
For a number of years NICE considered acupuncture as a Gold standard treatment for back pain. Then this decision was reversed, and acupuncture was considered as ineffective in treating back pain and this situation has persisted until recently. This was equivalent to swinging from the top end of a scale to the bottom.
New NICE Guidelines
On 3rd August 2020, NICE published a draft clinical guideline
“commonly used drugs for chronic primary pain have little or no evidence that they work and should not be prescribed. Instead it recommended that people with chronic pain should be offered supervised exercise programmes, some types of psychological therapy, or acupuncture”
Now this situation is nothing new. It has been known for years that the prescription of some drugs, such as opiates, are ineffective with chronic pain and yet have been overprescribed to the extent that it has caused an opiate dependency crisis. In the USA, the majority of drug addicts have been created by prescription drugs. Think about that for a minute. Ok, it is not so bad here in the UK, but the issues are the same.
Until the COVID pandemic hit us worldwide, the opiate crisis was very high profile and during that time Nicky was asked by 30 radio stations across the USA to speak and advise on other methods for treating chronic pain. In this she talked about the evidence of the inappropriateness of certain drugs on chronic pain and at the same time talked of the benefits and success she had seen when using acupuncture and even more so with dry needling. With over 13,000 patients and 30 years of treating, she had had a massive opportunity to see the evidence of the benefits of needling. So much so that we have quietly ignored NICE guidelines at her clinic.
NICE To Know We Were Right
So now NICE has done it’s second U turn and acupuncture is recommended again for chronic pain, something we have persisted with throughout our existence. Of course, it’s far too early to know what impact this will have on the NHS. While we would like it to be lifted out of the quackery branding, this will take quite some time, no doubt. That, however, is not our concern.
What Does It Mean For You?
For those who have been to our clinic for treatment, some travelling hundreds of miles or more, you will have most likely experienced our acupuncture skills. Some of you will have experienced and gained the benefits of dry needling.
For sure, the media is going to be talking about the benefits of treating chronic pain with acupuncture. That in turn is going to increase the demand for this type of treatment and raise the confidence level in the general public that this type of treatment can help them. This in itself is of tremendous importance as a positive mindset is so important to outcome.
Better yet, we can offer more effective treatments for chronic pain and at the very highest level available in the world.
Nicky Snazell is trained to the highest level in GunnIMS and worked directly with Professor Gunn, the forefather of todays dry needling. She has taught IMS internationally and is teaching her skills to the team at our clinic.
We have also recently added Jon Hobbs to our team. Jon is Chairman of the UK’s Acupuncture Association of Chartered Physiotherapists (AACP), the body responsible for setting the standards of acupuncture training for all physiotherapists in the UK, whether private or in the NHS. Jon is also one of the worlds’ leading acupuncture trainers and is passing his knowledge to our team during in house training.
The benefit to you is that you can be sure that our clinic has skills and knowledge which is at the very highest level in the UK. And now we have national support ………. again.
If you, or someone you know, is suffering chronic pain, then please contact us. We can help.
From an early age, Nicky has shown a keen interest in healing and helping others. During her teens, experiencing her mother’s suffering, set her off on a quest to resolve this.
Then started a 25-year program of studying alternative medicine, and studying, teaching and presenting this internationally.
She is the founder of 3 health companies and still treats 4 days a week embracing wholistic physiotherapy, IMS pain relief, shamanic reiki healthy living.
In her first book ’the 4 keys to Health’ she shared her extensive knowledge of how the public could improve their health through lifestyle changes. This goes into more depth in the Human Garage Trilogy.
Nicky is a thrice award winner; 2017 pain clinic of the UK award, two were personally awarded for excellence in patient care, unrelenting commitment and her outstanding cutting-edge approach to treating, and presented internationally at seminars, radio and writing about health.
The key to healthly exercise is just that.Let’s take another look at why we should exercise so we can hold a green fitness key.Today I find that humans are far too sedentary, all too
often sitting in front of a computer by day, followed by
sitting in front of a TV at night. This lack of physical
activity causes emotional and physiological imbalances,
but we can change this by looking at how we exercise; improving your
fitness changes your chemistry, acts as a powerful antidepressant, promotes
mental clarity, and reduces the likelihood of cancer.
If you’re not happy with either how you look or feel about your weight,
then with correct guidance, you can break out of inactivity and be rewarded
by smiling at yourself whenever you see your reflection. I will guide you towards 4 green keys to health and tonight is fitness.
You can learn more about how and when you should
exercise, as getting the correct mix can extend your life.
When I am working at my clinic, I hear echoing around the walls: I am too
old to exercise, too old to work. Are you too old to exercise? Well, no one told
Jiroemon Kimura (born 1897) that he was too old. He passed away recently
at age 116, farming until he was 90 years old. Remember the Carry On films?
Well, did you know that Barbara Windsor carries on exercising in her late 70s?
You can find her in her gym wear keeping fit outside in Hyde Park.
Over 450,000 people in the USA and over 70,000 people in the UK risk total
knee replacement every year. Want to talk pain? Then talk TKR. What’s
worse is that it is unsuccessful 10% of the time, and you can even die from
having total knee replacement. Furthermore, the age for TKR is constantly
dropping. Why? Anybody want to hazard a guess? That’s right: obesity.
Now, this isn’t proven yet, but it is most likely the biggest cause.
So, what happens when you get fat? Ladies, take the ‘C’ off chips and you
know what you get! Guys, you put it on around the waist and lose sight of
your favourite toy! What you probably don’t know is that your knees are
loaded with up to four times your weight, so every extra stone (14 lbs) is
an extra four stone (56 lbs) on your knees – that’s why knees are so often
the first casualty with OA. If you want to know why the four times multiple
occurs, it’s because of leverage. Now, you are intelligent people, and you are
surely interested in health or you wouldn’t be here. So, why have you made
the decision to get arthritis? Made the decision to get lots of pain? Made
the decision to risk surgery and even death? It’s because much of the pain
associated with the pleasure of eating too much is too far away, and anyway,
going to the gym is a pain for most. We need to change the way we think
about exercise, and hopefully this chapter will go some way to doing that
Here’s some more cheery news: an in-depth study into retirement found
that men in their sixties are every bit as good at driving business than those
physically and mentally in their prime. In later life, prescriptive exercise is
more effort than swallowing a pill, but it is well worth it; in a nutshell, you get
less senility and less pain. Exercise weaves its magic, strengthening the heart,
releasing more neurotransmitters for cell communication, boosting BDNF
for improving neural connections in the brain, aiding metabolism, improving
blood flow, stimulating toxic disposal systems, and strengthening bones.
This next fact gets me out running in howling gales and rain: current research
in Sweden shows that exercise alters the way genes work in the tissue that
stores fat, and changes in adipose tissue storage sites were measurable even
with just two workouts a week. Epigenetics has always fascinated me since
studying biology, and this is the study of how chemical alterations will
change how genes work in a cell. This allows us to fine tune our body to a
Exercise alters this process in muscle cells and improves how sugar is
processed. Furthermore, adipose tissue (fat cells) is an organ in its own right, producing active chemicals that have profound effects on the body. In
this tissue, 18,000 markers were found on 7,663 genes! This is leading to a
greater understanding of why exercise helps fatty tissue do its job properly,
which means that as we get older, we don’t have to have such a lumpy,
bumpy body. This smooth body needs a good structural support.
The 4 keys to health is all about investing in the healthiest happiest future you could wish for with sound scientific knowledge and big spoonfuls of commonsense and experience.Tonights blog is for nutrition week. The traffic lights approach to healthfor the 4 keys to health gives one point for every yes answer.
0 – 3: RED.
3 – 6: AMBER.
6 – 9: GREEN.
Scores: Now count up your scores – are you red, amber, or green for this key?
Once you’ve read the chapter and implemented any changes, take the
questionnaire again to see how much you’ve improved.This questionnaire is in 4 parts.
Diet and Blood Sugar Levels
• Is your weight good for your age and height?
• Do you have lots of energy and do you like to exercise?
• Are you free from joint pain?
• Do you rarely feel like dozing in the day and feel alert after eating?
• Do you hardly ever get stomach ache or bloating?
• Do you concentrate easily with a clear memory and few
• Do you hardly ever need sweet food or caffeine fixes?
• Do you jump out of bed, raring to go?
• Do you rarely feel dizzy / irritable / have mood swings in
gaps between meals?
• Do you rarely have thirst / dry mouth?
• Do you rarely get headaches?
• Is your urine a mild (not dark) yellow colour?
• Are your skin and lips moist, not dry?
• Do you have regular bowel movements most days?
• Do you have less than two glasses of alcohol a day?
• Do you have five helpings of fresh fruit and vegetables a day?
• Do you have several glasses of fruit water / juice / herbal
teas a day, even if resting?
• Do you avoid having too many salty snacks?
Healthy Low Homocysteine Levels (repairing DNA
and building nerves / cartilage)
• Is your weight satisfactory and stable?
• Are you a clear thinker with a good memory and rare
• Do you eat healthily with green veggies, seeds, and nuts,
but aren’t vegan?
• You are not an alcoholic, smoker, or heavy coffee drinker?
• Do you have little joint pain?
• Do you have great stamina without weariness?
• Is your cardiovascular system and blood pressure normal?
• Do you sleep well?
• Are you rarely angry, irritable, or down?
• Do you have healthy hair?
• Do you have flexible, pain-free joints?
• You are not taking painkillers?
• No arthritis, asthma, or eczema?
• No diagnosed cardiovascular problems?
• Do you spend more than thirty minutes a day outside in
• Do you eat healthily with oily fish, about four eggs a week,
seeds and nuts most days, and fewer than two alcoholic
drinks a day?
• Do you have a good memory, learning abilities, and
• You don’t get down, anxious or unnecessarily angry?
Anti-Ageing, Anti-rot, Antioxidants
• Are you a quick healer?
• Are you younger than middle aged (40)?
• Do you have healthy skin?
• No diagnosis of cancer or cardiovascular disease?
• Don’t bruise easily?
• Do you live in quiet, clear air, healthy countryside, not
near major roads?
• Do you eat healthily with five lots of fruit and veg a day,
raw seeds / nuts, and at least two oily fish a week?
• Do you take antioxidant supplements?
• Do you exercise and raise your heart rate five times a
week?If you got a red key read my blogs or get a copy of my book,through www.thepainkiller.co.uk,www.painreliefclinic.co.uk, or amazon.
Using food as medicine to stay out of pain.The Wrong Food Feeds Pain
Most of us eat too much of the food that enhances pain, and too little of the
food that reduces pain. Soil nutrients are not what they used to be, as they
have more additives, more are being processed, and more have a longer
shelf life. Our cells depend on good food and water for creating healing, energy
and cleansing, but because of the poor food we eat (which has additives
and is heavily processed), we have persistent inflammation contributing
to musculoskeletal pain, arthritis, diabetes, heart attacks, strokes, cancer…
you name it. Refined grains, omega 6 fats, too much sugar, and too much
dairy – especially milk – all stress the system out, and pain due to too much
inflammation damages nerves beyond any injury, and also causes tissue
pain in the tendons, ligaments, and joints.
Our ancestors were hunters and gatherers who lived on a planet with a
relatively low population, where the soil was rich in nutrients with hardly any toxic chemicals. They ate good food medicine, fresh fish or meat, berries, roots (therefore, a lot of
healthy omega 3 oils), and fruit and vegetables high in antioxidants. They
had no processed foods, no wheat, no trans fats, no excess sugar or omega 6
and no processed dairy. Even if you eat some of these foods yourself, pulling
some fresh vegetables out of your garden – from well fertilised soil – is a
small start. For our ancestors,using good food as medicine helped to control chronic
inflammation, something which pervades the modern day Western lifestyle.
We are becoming increasingly obese, including our children. We are a
fat nation, and because of this, we find ourselves in a major health crisis.
This extra fat not only strains our joints, but these engorged fat cells fire
off inflammation. Organ fat is crawling with immune cells, prolonging
inflammation and damaging the surrounding tissue. Living longer means
that these days, a lot more of us are over 35, and around this age, our
natural pain blocking anti-inflammatories (proteolytic enzymes) dry up.
We are, essentially, rotting, as these are the guys that usually help to shut
the pain gate in the dorsal horn of the spinal cord. Our next generation
is not going to live longer than us, and this is the first time in history that
this has happened – it says a lot, doesn’t it? Due to needing more help in
order to control our body and not getting it, we make too much fibrin,
causing too much scar tissue in our tendons, skin, and joints. This then
causes arthritis, fibromyalgia, artery narrowing, and poor healing all round.
I now have ground breaking technology at my practice that puts the clock
back on joints, however, cells still need a healthy environment in which to
flourish in the first place.