Know Your Treatment Options For Dealing With Low Back Pain

The value of knowing what your options are when seeking any type of medical care is crucial to your overall health and wellbeing. Many health experts advise that when you are presented with two or more options to treat a particular condition, it is wise to always choose the less invasive method first, particularly when it has had documented success. Sometimes it is these less invasive methods and treatments, which prove to be just what the body needs for rejuvenation and healing.

Do You Suffer with Low Back Pain?

Low back pain is about as common a complaint as any in this day and age. Whether from an injury, stress or poor posture, back pain sufferers seem to be around every corner.

Unfortunately, for millions of Americans, low back pain is a way of life. They have become so accustomed to the pain that it begins to be expected. For others, who have reached the end of their rope, they may feel surgery or pricey, dangerous pharmaceuticals seem like their only choice. While living with the pain should not be an option, back pain sufferers need to know about all their treatment options, not just surgery or pharmaceuticals, before making choices.

What are My Options?

According to recent research, surgery, bed rest or drugs are not the best ways to deal with the majority of back pain issues. Most back pain sufferers respond better to a time tested and holistic treatment approach found in chiropractic care. Mainstream medicine has become more aware of the benefits of chiropractic assessment and treatment. This is even seen in the fact that many health insurance plans cover at least some chiropractic treatments, making it a more feasible option for many. Medical doctors now more than ever are referring patients to chiropractors, noting a preference of trying conservative healing methods before anything else.

Chiropractic care is unique in that it address’s the body as a whole functioning unit, as opposed to localizing a symptom. By doing this, chiropractors are able to help restore complete body balance which allows for permanent healing to take place. Complete evaluation is used to tailor individual treatment plans and ensure that patients’ comprehensive and unique needs are addressed.

3 Reasons to Consider Chiropractic Treatment for Your Low Back Pain

Current studies support the fact that surgery, medications and prolonged bed rest are actually the worst things to alleviate low back pain.

Treatments not only relieve present pain but prevent future flare-ups.

The Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics states that an integrated approach to healthcare that includes chiropractic treatment reduces pharmaceutical costs by almost 52% and reduces hospital admission by 43%.

If you suffer from back pain, be sure that you are informed of your treatment options and are aware of the benefits that chiropractic care offers. Do your research and ask questions so that you can make the best choices possible for your health and well being.

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The Benefits of Functional Exercise

Almost any form of exercise will give you some strength and cardiovascular gains. With the plethora of fitness routines and philosophies circulating, it can be hard to know where to start. There are a couple of very compelling reasons why you should consider focusing your workout routine, at least in the beginning, on functional exercises.

What is Functional Exercise?

Functional exercise is that which calls for movements that approx movements we make in everyday life. An example of this would be an exercise that requires you to squat or bend while lifting something. We perform such activities several times a day. Contrast such an exercise with a popular gym exercise: the bench press. How often do you lie on your back and push something heavy up toward the ceiling? For most of us, the answer is never.

That's not to say that there is no point to the bench press; it builds massive chest and shoulder muscles. Many machine and bodybuilding exercises are designed to isolate one or two muscle groups, work them hard and make them bigger. Functional exercise, on the other hand, focuses on recruitment of several muscles to not only increase strength but improve coordination and cooperation between muscles that we often use together as well. When various muscles of the body are trained to fire together, coordination is facilitated on a neurological level.

What Are The Benefits?

There are two primary benefits of functional training, one of which is more widely-discussed: Functional training works stabilizer muscles, making us more balanced, less sooner to injury and stronger all-around. Stabilizer muscles (like the transversus abdominis and multifidi, which stabilize the spine and the gluteus medius, which stabilizes the pelvis) resist motion, unlike the larger mover muscles in the body. The stabilizers help us to stay balanced and aligned. Functional training suggests that we strengthen both movers and stabilizers at the same time to facilitate overall improved strength and function.

Another, often overlooked benefit of functional training is the improvement of body mechanics. This is partly related to the first benefit above; when our body is stronger and our muscles coordinate better, we move better. But functional exercise also improves our mechanisms on the level of body awareness. When performing functional exercise, as with all exercises, proper form is key. Since the movements performed in functional exercise mimic those of everyday life, you leave your exercise session more aware of the proper way to move your body through the day. This means 1) better posture when sitting and standing, and 2) more faithful adherence to standard rules of thumb when lifting, bending and twisting. For example, after a couple weeks of functional training, you're likely to keep your straight and your knees behind your toe line when bending.

For a sample functional training routine, see http://www.sheknows.com/health-and-wellness/articles/806681/top-functional-exercises-for-fullbody-fitness . Although marketed for women, this routine is appropriate for men as well. If you're just beginning your exercise journey, it's wise to do exercises without added weight at first; This is because you're learning to handle your body's own weight to start with, and added weight can lead to form problems and overtaxation of the stabilizer muscles. Once you can balance your own body weight, add some light hand weights, preferably 3-5 lbs. Work your way up to more weight and more complex exercises as your strength and coordination increases.

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Costovertebral Joint Dysfunction: Cause of Rib, Chest and Upper Back Pain

When upper back pain strikes, it is often the result of poor posture and improper body mechanics. Typically, the pain is muscular in origin; it may involve the trapezius muscle, the rhomboids and / or the erector spinae muscles in the upper back. Spinal disc and facet joint pain are not common in the upper back, since the thoracic spinal section is less mobile and load-bearing than the sections in the neck and lower back. When upper back pain is not caused by muscular dysfunction, it may be caused by costovertebral joint dysfunction.

Costovertebral Joints

Nine of your thoracic vertebrae (T2-T10) attach to ribs via the costovertebral joints. These joints consist of smooth cartilage that cushions the slight movements of the bones.

Costovertebral joints are supported by ligaments. A traumatic injury, such as a violent twisting motion, can cause sprain to the ligaments supporting a costovertebral joint or may damage the cartilage within it. Injury can also be cumulative; years of poor posture and improper body mechanics or years of repetitive lifting, bending and twisting can damage the joint and its ligaments. Damage to the joint and ligaments may be secondary to a more systemic problem, such as weak core musculature that fails to support proper posture and spinal stability.

Symptoms

Localized pain, usually on one side of the spine

Stiffness

Nearby muscle spasms

Pain that radiates along the rib to the side and the chest

Worsened pain on coughing, sneezing, twisting, bending and lifting

Treatments

The first step towards healing a costovertebral joint is to cease activities that overtax it; this will give cartilage and ligaments time to heal. You will likely be instructed to limit or eliminate bending, twisting and heavy lifting for a few weeks.

Another crucial component of treatment is posture correction. Slouching strains the joint and its ligaments; maintaining upright post reduces stress on them.

Exercise therapy to strengthen supporting muscles in the back is also important. Exercises like the shoulder blade squeeze will likely be prescribed.

Since poor posture and improper body mechanisms can often be traced back to a weak core, overall core strengthening will likely factor into your treatment.

To help manage pain, anti-inflammatory medications or injections may be prescribed. It is important to consider these forms of pain management temporary solutions as opposed to cures for joint dysfunction.

If you have upper back and rib pain, costovertebral joint dysfunction may be the cause. If you have radiating pain that originates in the upper back, make a doctor's appointment and request diagnostic tests to confirm or rule out joint injury in the thoracic spine.

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Health Benefits: Will Inversion Help You?

The majority of people purchasing inversion tables do so because they believe the table will facilitate or solve their particular ailment. Although others may purchase them for use as gym equipment, this article will focus on the majority.

What Conditions Can an Inversion Table Help with?

Many users buy inversion tables because they have specific problems, and many buy for more general reasons of well-being. The most common is Sciatica, which is the name given to any sort of pain that is caused by irritation or compression of the sciatic nerve.

The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in your body. It runs from the back of your pelvis, through your buttocks, and all the way down both legs, ending at your feet. This is commonly due to a slipped disc (also known as a herniated disc), another ailment which inversion therapy can help with. Many people partake in inversion therapy before disc herniation when the disc is protruding in order to prevent the disc herniating.

Similarly, sufferers of spinal stenosis and any other form of back pain may find that inversion therapy can alleviate or solve their problems.

Other than that, many users simply use inversion for their general health.

General Benefits

  1. Trains your muscles without putting pressure on the spine
  2. Recuperating after intestinal activities – improvements mental sharpness because oxygen goes to your brain.
  3. It strengthens the ligaments
  4. It stimulates blood circulation
  5. It helps the disks and spain stay in good shape – promises any shrinkage.
  6. Relieves stress. A full-body stretch feet rejuvenating – many users find they can sleep better after using their inversion table.

Okay, so it sounds good. Does it actually work?

This is the tricky part.

In some cases, the results of inversion tables have been undeniable. Similarly, through only a small amount of investigation you can see that many people will swear emphatically of the positive impact their inversion table has had. Obviously they work for many – and work very well.

However, there are also contrary testimonials and pieces of information that seem to indicate regular physio-therapy can be just as effective. Many people believe that inversion is only good for short term relief, and will not remedy your problem in the long term.

Without getting into nuances and complexities of individual back problems, the only real answer to this would be you have to try it to find out. In most cases it will certainly help very much with pain relief, but whether or not it will alleviate problems long term is difficult to say.

How does it work?

The best inversion tables, such as the Ironman brand and the Teeter brand come with huge claims on what they can do for your back.

Inversion therapy takes pressure off the disks in your spine, increasing the space between the vertebrae. If the discs have fallen out of alignment, as your spine is stretched they can realign back to their natural position.

A study from Newcastle University showed that to decompress the discs between your spine, you have to be pushed by a force that equates to about 60% of your bodyweight. This is how inversion works – by inverting you can stretch your spell and decompress it, opening up your joints.

Are there any health risks?

Yes there are. You should not attempt inversion if you have any of the following conditions – or you should see your GP before inverting.

– Scoliosis

– You're taking anti-coagulants, blood-thinning drugs or aspirin

– You have bone weakness, recent fractures, skeletal implants

– Conjunctivitis – (Pink eye)

– Glaucoma

– Osteoporosis

– You have heart or circulatory disorders

– Hatial hernia or ventral hernia

– High blood pressure or hypertension

– Middle ear infection

– Extreme obesity

– You're pregnant

– Retinal detachment

– Serious spinal injury

– You've had a stroke or a mini stroke (TIA).

In the short term, you may suffer from dizziness, nausea and headaches. Be sure to not invert too quickly – start off slowly with small amounts of inversion and slowly build up.

So that's basically everything. I am not a medical professional and all this information was searched in separate studies, so if you have any doubts what-so-ever be sure to see your GP first before inverting.

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Back Pain and Prolonged Standing

You can almost identify people who back back others them by how they stand. They are leaving forward something and frozen in place. Not good. We know we should stand with good post yet we keep finding ourselves leaning over. The only remedy for this is constant vigilance. When your back starts trying to get your attention, check your post first thing. This is one of the best back problem solutions.

Another posture recommendation is to stand with one foot slightly elevated. Have you ever noticed that all bars, pub, and saloons have a bar rail for people to use while standing at the bar. Coincidence? I think not. So, when you are brushing your teeth or fixing your hair, elevate one foot. If you have a sink with a cabinet, open the door and use the bottom cabinet shelf. Yes, you can brush your teeth standing up straight and with good posture. If you have a freestanding sink, bring a brick, a 4×4 board, a child's stool, whatever into the bathroom and use that to elevate your foot.

The same is true at work. If you have to stand at work, find a way to elevate a foot. If your boss complains, explain that it is the best ergonomic situation and much less expensive than a Worker's Compensation injury. Know what I mean? Alternate your feet frequently.

At the grocery line, use the grocery cart base. Yes, you should always use a grocery cart. You may be intending to only pick up one or two things. How often does that really happen, though? Additionally, using the grocery cart gives you other support.

Since we are in the grocery store, let's answer the age-old question: paper or plastic? I suggest using paper bags rather than plastic bags. Most of us are tempted to carry too much when the groceries are in plastic bags. Additionally, we tend to carry things incorrectly. When you use paper bags, your luggage is to carry the bags up higher and closer to your body, which is the correct way to carry anything, light or heavy.

Standing in line at the DMV, movies, whatever, is more problematic. You could bring your own brick, I guess, but that could cause some unwarranted attention. Be mindful of your post but here are a couple of other tricks that can help. Try a few out at home before you test standing for long stretches in the real world:

  • Put your arms up over your head as if stretching and lean slowly to one side and then the other. Maintain your breathing. Keep your movements and your breathing slow and even. Hesitate for a moment between one side and the other to check your post and allow your spell to reset.
  • Put your hands in the small of your back and lean back as if rinsing your hair in the shower. Relax as much as possible while doing this keeping your breathing slow and even.
  • Lift one knee to hip high. Grab the knee and stretch gently if you can. Again, do not hold your breath. Repeat with the other knee. Because back pain issues often affect balance, it helps to have a friend or a wall nearby when you do this maneuver.
  • Consider using a cane because, again, taking some of the weight off of the affected side can help. Do this only if you know how to use a cane. (see below)
  • If possible, lean against a wall, if only for a few minutes. It is amazing how restorative a good lean can be.
  • If you have to sneeze while you are standing, lift one knee while you are sneezing. That position reduces that shot of pain you get from a really explosive sneeze.

I have tested all of these and all give some relief for a while. Worst case, weigh out the discomfort against the need to be in that line. Consider taking a friend who can hold your place for you while you sit in the uncomfortable seating offered in the waiting areas. You definitely need a cane for this or some people get a little bent out of shape because you are cutting the line.

Using a cane

Whether you are using a cane for support due to back pain or a leg injury, grip the cane in the hand opposition to the injury. It seems counterintuitive but trust me, this is how it is done. If you analyze a normal walking motion for only a moment, you can see that our left hand moves forward with our right leg with the converse being true for the next step. So the very nature of the natural walking step begs us to use the cane in the hand that moves naturally forward with the injured part. You will find that you can reduce an amazing amount of pressure from the injured side. Then you will do what I do and laugh like crazy when you see actors doing it wrong.

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Tips For Students With Back Pain

While much attention is paid to the sight of back pain amongst nurses, truck drivers and office workers, there's one demographic we often forget about, amongst whom the problem is probably just as prevalent: students.

Years of study can foster a sedentary lifestyle. When we do not exercise, our muscles are starved of nutrients and oxygen, leaving them weak, prone to strain and spasms. Reading and computer work, two of the most common components of studying, can encourage bad post habits that cause chronic muscle tension and weakness.

To get rid of back pain, students need to 1) undo the muscle tension that they've developed over the years, and 2) move around more. It's possible to do this on a busy schedule.

Address Muscle Tension

Changing your post is hard, partly because your brain remembers patterns of muscle activation and recreates them automatically (this is muscle memory). If your muscles are chronically tense or overstretched, they're likely developed knots in the myofascia, the connective tissue that surrounds them, which makes it even harder to relax them. This in turn makes it hard for them to work differently (a knotted lower back muscle will have a hard time upholding the upper body; a knotted neck muscle will have a hard time holding the head upright).

You can help your brain learn new patterns by tuning out the tension that keeps your muscles locked into their current, dysfunctional length (either shortened / contracted or overstretched / lax). Self-myofascial release (SMR) is perhaps the most direct way to do this. Place a foam roller or a tennis ball between your body and the floor; roll over a knotted muscle, pausing on tender spots for at least 30 seconds to apply deep, sustained pressure. This will help muscles relax. Muscles to focus on are the lower back, upper back, neck and hip flexor groups.

See http://www.pttonthenet.com/capview.aspx?s=NDk1ODQsMjAxMiw3LDE0LDEsOSxGYWxzZSBtUXhXL2xNSjNKeUhZTkhYSWdldkhRPT0=&p=112914&e=61 to learn more about SMR exercises.

Be More Active

This cliché advice may seem out of reach to the hard-working student with limited time to spend away from books and social life. However, it's possible to incorporate activity into your study time. Try to spend some of your reading time standing. Keep a notebook nearby on a high surface so that you can take notes without hunching over. It may be hard at first, but make sure your shoulders are low and loose and your neck is upright as you read; bring the book to eye level while keeping your shoulders loose. Pace around your room or a solid area of ​​the library as you read; This further increases your activity level. To check your post, stand facing away from a wall with your heels, buttocks, shoulder blades and the back of your head touching the wall.

Of course, some books are too large and heavy to carry around. Consider investing in a book stand; you can place this on a high surface so that the book is around eye level and stand as you read hands-free. You can find a decent book stand in the $ 10- $ 25 range.

When you sit, consider sitting on a yoga ball or a balance disc cushion. These ergonomic devices can be purchased for around $ 20. They destabilize your sitting surface, requiring you to maintain proper posture and engage your core muscles in order to keep your balance.

You can also move your computer work to a standing position. Simply find a surface that allows you to maintain a 90 degree bend at your elbow and place your laptop on it. For optimum ergonomics, get a separate keyboard ($ 10- $ 15) so that you can place the laptop on a higher surface with the screen at eye level so you do not need to crane your head down toward it.

Addressing back pain early on will prevent chronic pain later. There are simple, feasible ways for even the busiest student to incorporate more movement into his day and to address muscle tension that has built up over the years.

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Early Physical Therapy Increases Back Pain Recovery Odds

The August issue of The Journal of Pain featured a long-term study of almost 500 lower back pain cases. Researchers found that severe pain early on increases the risk of continued pain for half a year by 12% and pain at 5 years by 9%.

This study highlights the importance of taking lower back pain seriously, especially if it is severe. Even if pain is gone by the 5-year mark, pursuing the right kind of treatment shortly after sunset can decrease your need for invasive methods like spinal injections in the short-term and can reduce your medical expenditure by cutting down on the need for many doctor's visits.

Physical therapy is a standard, but underused, form of therapy for back pain management. In 2012, a group of researchers got together to determine whether or not seeking physical therapy early on reduces patient risk for surgery, injections and frequent doctor's visits. They loved over many thousands of billing claims to gather their data.

This study found that patients who received physical therapy within 4 weeks of back pain onset – the acute phase – were much less likely to require invasive treatments and many doctor's visits than those who waived until pain had become chronic, or lasted over 3 months, to receive physical therapy. To be exact, those in the acute group were 62% less likely to receive surgery, 53% less likely to need frequent doctor's visits and were 54% less likely to receive injections for pain management.

More on this study can be found at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3062937/#!po=8.82353

One of the alarming findings of this study was that, among patients who received surgery, only 27.5% had tried physical therapy beforehand. While some of these accidents were likely due to severe neurological problems that required immediate surgical intervention, it's not likely that all or even most of them did. The rising rate of invasive procedures, including surgery, injections and narcotic medication, has gained increasing attention and caused alarm among many medical professionals, researchers and journalists across the country.

The rise in invasive treatments and decline of safer and cheaper conservative options comes with a lack of corresponding evidence in favor of the former methods. This trend is hurting patients' bank accounts as well as their backs. To learn more about the alarming trends in back pain treatment, see http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/07/29/us-back-pain-treatment-idUSBRE96S0Z720130729 .

When the medical system stops looking out for patients' best interests, this responsibility falls on patients. Do your research and approach treatments with a healthy level of skepticism while keeping an open mind towards conservative methods.

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Tips on Cervical Traction

Cervical traction should be done with a clinical grade unit that will ensure you get proper treatment with the best angle, pressure, and easy handling. The goal is to lengthen your cervical spine and decompress a pinched nerve root. My Physiotherapist started me on a Saunders Cervical Traction unit and that was exactly what my neck needed.

With that stated, I am going to demonstrate to you how to proceed proper neck traction Saunders style. It reaped good results for me and so I will go over this.

TOTAL MUSCLE RELAXATION DURING CERVICAL TRACTION

Complete muscle relaxation during cervical traction is certainly vital to achieve your goal of decompression and stretching out stiff, sore muscles. Should your muscle tissues be restricted then they are going to work in opposition to the therapy.

Saunders Cervical Traction puts your body in the most relaxing position because you are lying down on a comfortable horizontal surface, either your bed or living room floor.

When getting set up with your neck traction device, lay down on the ground with your head strapped in gently. Fine-tune the knobs to fit your head and neck size and make sure you feel comfortable. After getting all strapped in just take a few seconds to think about loosing up each muscle group within your own body.

NECK ANGLE DURING CERVICAL TRACTION

Naturally we stand with our head slightly ahead of our upper back. This proper spinal posture is retained during neck carriage when the head and neck are raised at a 15 degree slope.

HOW TO RUN YOUR CERVICAL TRACTION DEVICE

To operate your own neck traction unit you will need to follow and observe any instructions found in its instruction booklet. Each company`s transaction unit will operate a bit differently. With regards to the Saunders Cervical Traction you can expect to find three settings on a hand held pump which will state: pump, hold, or release.

To start stretching your entire column column, switch to the “pump” mode and then conclusion popping up the air in the cervical traction device. Once you sense you have loaded it up with too much air or if you are getting too much pain just release the pressure by turning it to the “release” mode.

AMOUNT AND DURATION OF NECK TRACTION TREATMENT

Keep in mind to by no means proceed further with cervical traction treatment than what you can handle because there should be no sharp pains just a nice stretch. It will be essential to ensure your current physiotherapist is aware of you using the neck Traction treatment so that he can instruct you based on your personal condition how much pressure to use and how long you should do treatments. Over time little by little you will be increasing the amount of pressure starting around 10 to 25 lbs for 5 to 10 minute sessions. At the start you need to wait 24 hours before doing another session. You want to make sure your condition does not get worse; you want to feel the same or better the next day.

After weeks of neck traction training you will slowly find yourself at 45-50 lbs of pressure and staying on the device for 20-30 minutes. This is more than enough time to reach your goal of decompressing your cervical nerve root.

Play around with it and enjoy the stretching. You don`t have to hold the stretch the whole duration of your treatment, you can do intermittent pressure, releasing it and bringing it back up again. You are in full control and like me you will find your neck traction device to be your best friend to come home to after a long day at the office.

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How Automatic Thoughts Can Control Your Back Pain

In this short report; how the mind affects the body when it comes to back pain and our perception of the pain. This is not true in all cases but in some cases I feel that needs to be addressed and looked at. Is pain real in all cases of “back pain” or, is it that some of it might be the idea that our mind affects our pain? Let's begin by looking at a sample of back pain sufferers that might fit into this category of back pain.

Our mind is constantly working. It takes information in and evaluates the information about the goings on about us. What is happening inside you and around you? Most of our thoughts happen outside our awareness these thoughts are called automatic thoughts, this means that they are subconscious meaning that you are probably not even aware they are going on immediately), but they also happen to be very believable. These thoughts influence how we feel and so how we behave. As we later learn, they also influence our pain.

These thoughts happen to be either positive or negative. The positive thoughts will reflect the reality, they also help us in solving problems, as well as, helping us cope with the realities. The negative thoughts on the other hand, distort reality, create heavy emotions (like depression, anxiety and fear), it also increases the pain you feel.

Research has shown that when we are under stress we tend to engage in negative thinking. These thoughts are irrational and adaptive.

Unfortunately, just having back problems tend to be stressful. So, in our minds we begin to have maladaptive and irrational thoughts. It is a part feeling and part emotional process that we go through every day. You might have already begun some of the negative thoughts that are remember, automatic;

  • My pain is going to just get worse and worse.
  • My back pain is ruining my life.
  • My pain is never going to get any better.
  • I'm not going to be able to enjoy the things I once enjoyed.

It's amazing that just reading this list puts us in a negative emotional state and stress. When you repeat statements like this into your head it just makes it more and more believable. Once you take a look at some of these statements that you're making and carefully evaluate it, you'll find that it's not true. Negative automatic statements just makes us more helpless, helpless and sadder.

“Pain can be endured and defeated only if it is embroidered.” Denied or feared, it grows. ”

DEAN KOONTZ, Velocity

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What Is Scoliosis? Should I Be Worried?

As I speak to more and more patients, I've come to a realization that there is quite a bit of confusion about what scoliosis is, and how it can affect your child's health. Many people remember going into the school nurse's office every so often and get a scoliosis test where they bend down from their waste and touch their toes.

But what is scoliosis? Scoliosis involves a curved deformity in the spine. When you look at someone from front to back, the bones that make up the spine (vertebrae) should stack up nice and straight. When there is a scoliosis present, the vertebrae will deviate to the side and form a curved C or S shape. Now very few people are perfectly straight, but when the curve exceeds 10 degrees, it is usually deemed a scoliosis.

Many people can have a scoliosis and never feel any effects or symptoms from it. Others may experience more common symptoms like back pain, neck / shoulder tension, and posture / cosmetic problems. In rare cases, the curvature can become large enough (50 degrees or more), that it can compress the chest cavity causing respiratory and cardiac problems, and become a surgical issue.

Scoliosis comes in 2 main forms. There are a functional scoliosis which is typically named idiopathic scoliosis, and there is a scoliosis called structural / anatomical scoliosis.

• A structural / anatomical scoliosis is called by a malformed vertebra which can force the spine to a curved position as it seeks to get back to center. This type of scoliosis can not be fully corrected and it can also lead to larger curvatures depending on how malformed the vertebra is.

• A functional / idiopathic scoliosis is named as such because there is typically no medically known cause. This is the most common type of scoliosis. These types of curvatures can be corrected and reduced significantly through conservative means when before a person is fully developed.

The real question is, should you be worried?

The truth is, if you're just worried about pain, then probably not. Many times, scoliosis is asymptomatic, especially in children. In fact, most people will probably go through their childhood with no knowledge that it is even there. For the category of idiopathic scoliosis, it is often the secondary result of a structural shift in one or more bones in the spine or pelvis ..

Most doctors are concerned when the curvature surpasses 20 degrees and begin watching the curve for progression. As the curve approaches 30 degrees, bracing becomes a common recommendation, and cosmetic concerns become more obvious, especially for teenage girls where image is everything. When the curve grows 40 degrees, surgery starts to become a real option for treatment to prevent compression of the heart and lungs.

The key is catching these curves early. Scoliosis is most commonly found in girls during adolescence, which is a great window of opportunity for structural correction, no matter how small the curve may be. Just like how a bent frame of a car can create suspension problems and tire wear / tear, a bent spine can increase the damage the spine experiences through life. I've seen x-rays of people well into their 40's and 50's who have never experienced spinal pain, but will show a scoliotic spine with disc degeneration and bone spurs in the exact pattern that the structural alignment would dictate.

As the spine shows early wear and tear, the nerves can get damaged, and symptoms of damage into the muscles, ligaments, and even the vital organs of the body can start to show.

As a worried parent, what can you do? Here are a few tips:

1. Get a spinal check up by someone who is focused on the health of the spine! Nurses and general practitioners do a great job of identifying major curvatures using basic screening tools, but these will typically identify cases of scoliosis that are excessively large and may be candidates for surgery. A chiropractor focused on structural correction instead of pain relief can recognize smaller deviations and provide tools to correct them if necessary.

2. Avoid the one shoulder back pack routine. It may look cooler and be more comfortable, but extra forces on a spine that is not optimally positioned to increase scoliotic curves.

3. Stay active. Movement is life and a spine that moves early and often has more pliability and flexibility than one that is sedentary and stiff.

4. Keep the weight down. If you had a crooked house and you add more weight to it, what happens to the house? It breaks down faster. The same thing happens to the body. If you build more mass on top of a crooked structure, it will lead to earlier degeneration. Stay fit.

If the scoliosis is large but not correctable, the best thing a parent can do is provide love and emotional support. Although it's not typically cause pain or serious illness, it can be a label that wears on the psyche of a teenager or young adult because other young people and gym class bullies may poke fun of their condition. Adolescence is a psychologically trying period for any young person, and another label is the last thing they need, especially if major surgery may be one of the options on the table. Providing your child with a strong base of confidence and self-esteem, along with proper management of scoliosis can help ensure a happy and healthy school year.

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Save Your Back (And Body!) From Too Much Sitting

Oh, how we love our electronics. But now more than ever, people are remaining sitting too much and leading sedentary lifestyles. The lack of activity and staying in a confined position for too long can have serious effects, contributing to back pain, joint pain and weight gain.

Luckily there are steps you can take to offset the damage a sedentary lifestyle causes. For instance, it helps to move around and change your position often.

On top of back or joint pain, sitting too much is detrimental to your health. The less you move, the less you want to move. The lack of exercise can contribute to serious health problems and even shorten your life. One study published in the British Medical Journal showed that if you spend three hours or less sitting each day, you could live two years longer. Unfortunately, most Americans remain sedentary for around five hours per day.

Many other studies have shown that sitting too much doubles your risk of diabetes and heart disease, compared to people who do not sit much. Sedentary lifestyle has become just as serious of a contributor to disease as obesity or smoking.

What Happens If You Spend Your Days Sitting Down

Many, many studies have consistently shown that a sedentary lifestyle can cause you medical problems. It greatly increases the odds you will suffer pain, disease and lose years from your life. Below are some examples of studies showing the effects of a sedentary lifestyle:

  1. According to a 2010 study in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, men leading a sedentary lifestyle increased their risk of death from heart disease by 64%.
  2. One study found that the risk of death from all causes was 154% higher for Canadians who were sedentary most of the day.
  3. Unsurprisingly, another study found that the amount of time you spend sitting is correlated with gaining weight.
  4. Those who spend 11 or more hours on the computer each week and those that watch television for 21 or more hours are more likely to be obese.
  5. The risk of metabolic syndrome increases as you increase the number of hours you spend watching TV or being on the computer.

Can not I Just Exercise to Offset All the Sitting I Do?

Some research has said that regular exercise may not be enough to save your health from sitting too much. Being sedentary most of the day affects your metabolism and even if you exercise every day, it might not be enough to reverse that effect. For instance, in 2009 one study showed that the amount of time you spend imprisoned is linked to a higher risk of diabetes and heart disease.

If you spend most of the day sedentary, you could suffer the effects of excessive sitting since your best efforts to exercise. It only takes one hour of sitting before your body drastically slows the production of fat-burning enzymes, according to an article in the New York Times. Staying laid for long periods of time slows down metabolism and lowers your “good” cholesterol.

What to Do

The solution is simple: movement. Keep in mind, though, that you will need to stand up and do a few exercises fairly often if you spend a lot of time sitting down.

Back pain and other pains are often caused from a disruption in the way the body distributions force, sometimes from sitting for unnaturally long periods of time. The good news is you can teach your body to auto-correct and return to the natural, correct position. This can help relieve pain.

It is best to learn the correct, natural position all parts of your body belong in, including your shoulders, back, neck, arms and feet. Although you may think your pain is related to only one area, in most cases it is a combination of factors that leads to pain in any particular area.

A good example of this interconnectedness is carpal tunnel pain. Although incorrect positioning of the wrists is implicated, so is incorrect positioning of the shoulders. The shoulder moves forward, and its position effects that of your back and pelvis. When the shoulder rotates forward, everything connected to it is affected. Solving this sort of wrist pain means correcting all of these problems.

One of the best things you can do for your health is to stand up repeatedly. It also helps to frequently do simple exercises to move your joints and muscles back into their natural position.

Tips and Exercises to Counteract Excessive Sitting

Let's face it- many of us have no choice but to remain covered for long periods, especially when it comes to working. There are, however, steps you can take to keep yourself healthy and pain-free.

  1. Move around. Shift your position every 20 minutes. Better yet, stand up. Best yet- stand up and do a few exercises!
  2. Roll your shoulders back, so your shoulder blades touch and your chest moves slightly up and out. Extend your arms and twist them by opening your hands facing upwards and pointing your thumbs behind you.
  3. Stand up and flex your muscles one by one (not too hard) and then releasing them. Especially important are your abs, legs and butt.
  4. Trying a few simple yoga poses is an excellent idea. The stretching rings your body back to its natural state, relieving pain and tension.
  5. Go ergonomic. Arrange your desk, computer screen, keyboard and chair so that you are sitting in a comfortable, natural position. Also consider investing in an ergonomic chair.
  6. Get grounded. Some experts believe that grounding- or sitting on the ground- helps dissipate energy that has accumulated in your body due to EMFs (Electromagnetic Fields). Their belief is based on the fact that humans have historically had much more physical contact with the earth. They believe all of our modern electronics interfer with the balance of electrons in the body. This in turn affects the immune system and encourages chronic inflammation.

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Posture and Neck Pain – Improve It to Get Rid of It

Posture and Pain

As much as it pains me to say it, mom was right about posture. Slouching contributions to many people's headaches, neck pain, and back pain. The body is designed to sit and stand up straight. If you are standing with good posture there is much less strain on muscles, tendons, and joints compared to slouching. The body was not designed to sit with a rounded back and shoulders, or with the head leaning forward. This position may feel comfortable but several muscles are working overtime.

Have you ever held a 7 pound bowling ball? Did you hold it close to your chest or out in front of you? How heavy does that bowling ball feel when your arms are extended straight? Can you hold that position for a minute? Most people's arms will begin shaking and burning within 30 seconds. The muscles are working very hard to hold the ball up in the air. However, you could hold the ball for 30 minutes if it was positioned closer to your chest. The muscles are not working near as hard the closer the ball is to your center of gravity.

Slouching Matters

Not many people are interested in the physics. I'm sure we could calculate and compare the amount of energy required to hold the ball 5 minutes at arms length versa your chest. The difference in Newtons (measuring unit of forces) would be significant, and at the same time conceptually meaningless. (I'm sure one of my engineering patients will send me the correct answer with a simplified explanation.

I can not conceptualize the effort required for 3,000 Newtons. But I do know that I hold things closer to my body whenever possible. Why should I spend the energy to do it the hard way, and potentially hurt myself in the process?

Why Does Posture Matter

Slouching makes certain muscles work extra hard. That 7 pound bowling ball on top of your neck, also known as your head, is held up by muscles and joints. The spine is a series of bones that support your body weight. The spine has several curves that absorb the weight like a spring. Slouching straightens the spring and increases the strengths at certain points of the spring, thereby increasing the effort to keep you upright.

If you sit at a computer with perfect posture the curves of your spine would absorb most of the forces, and the muscles would even distribute the remaining work load. Ideally your ear is directly above your shoulder which is above your waist. Moving your head and shoulders forward two inches changes the curve in your neck and back to a less desirable position. Certain muscles are now working harder to support the structural change.

The increased effort does not seem like much; however, how long are you going to be sitting at the computer today? Multiply the increased effort by the amount of hours and days. Now we can see the small change makes a huge difference to the muscles weekly workload.

Taking this a step further, do you sit with great posture in the car, couch, or kitchen table? How much time in a day is spent slouching? Do you slouch more than two inches? Most people slouch through the entire day when sitting, and every inch dramatically increases the workload on the muscles.

Over the course of months and years, many people develop headaches, neck pain, or back pain as a result of poor posture. The muscles and joints have been overworked for years and have been gone through subtle signs of injury. After a while people begin to notice increased tightness and loss of flexibility in their neck, shoulder, and back muscles. They may begin to complain of muscle aches and soreness. People start asking for neck and back rubs because of muscle aches. “Knots” in the muscles begin to form and never go away.

Bad Posture has Been Causing You Pain

Looking back, people realize an increased amount of stiffness and mild soreness in their neck and back. They begin to have more episodes of dull neck and back pain. The number of instances of sharp pain or twinges increases through the years. They begin having several days of moderate dull pain and very limited motion. The moderate back pain does go away after a few days but another episode occurs within a few months. They start waking up more often with “stiff necks.”

People start to feel fatigued at the end of the day more often and can not wait for the weekend to recover. Some people start to have mild headaches at the end of the day, that then go away with a little rest or Advil. The headaches intensity, frequency, and duration is worse with increased stress or work hours. The subtitle signs have been there for years, now is the time to correct the underlying problem.

Posture is a habit. It can be improved but it will take time and effort. As you begin sitting with good post it will feel very uncomfortable, and you may feel soreness in new places. At first you might hold the position for 5 minutes before slouching again. Then it will increase to 10 minutes, and then to 20 before slouching. With sustained effort and awareness you will begin to have better posture through the whole day. Since good post requires less muscle effort, within a few weeks you will feel a decrease in muscle soreness and fatigue.

Ways to Improve Posture at Home

I always suggest putting a sticky note on your computer monitor or work phone that says “Sit UP!” You will be amazed at how often you find yourself slouching. Some people will set a phone alarm or Outlook reminder for 20 minute intervals. Changing the habit requires effort and constant reminding at the beginning.

The quickest way to improve your post is to play a game with your coworkers. Put a change jar on everyone's desk. If someone catches you slouching you owe them a quarter. It becomes a rewarding challenge to catch people slouching. It will probably cost $ 10 by lunchtime, but you will quickly find yourself sitting up straight with every squeak of a chair. In a cubic work setting, the top of heads begin to pop up straight like Prairie Dog Fields whenever a coworker starts talking.

Identify the times and places that you are slouching the worst, such as home computers, laptops, Ipads, driving, couches, standing, or walking. Focus on increasing the amount of time spent with better posture in each of these situations. Changing a habit will take time and effort but can be done with the right deduction.

Your muscles and back will thank you.

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Stretch Right Now to Decrease Pain

Stretch! Now! Right NOW!

Sitting at your desk all day long can make you stiff and sore. But doing a few simple stretches throughout the day can make all the difference in the world – and you do not even have to leave your desk! Here are a few to try out:

Side Neck Stretch – while sitting tall, tilt your head to the right, bringing your right ear closer to your right shoulder. At the same time, press down your left shoulder. To intensify the stretch, pull your head gently closer to your shoulder. Hold for a minimum of 15 seconds and repeat on the other side.

Back of Neck Stretch – while sitting tall, press both shoulders down toward the ground while you slowly bring your chin towards your chest feeling a stretch in the back of your neck. Hold for a minimum of 15 seconds.

Spine Stretch – this is great for when you've been sitting too long. While sitting tall, press both shoulders down towards the ground. Imagine a string at the crown of your head pulling up towards the sky and then rolling forward (like the shape of a candy cane). Continue rolling down one vertebra at a time until you feel a stretch in the muscles along your spine. Hold for a minimum of 15 seconds.

Upper Back Stretch – extend both arms in front of you at shoulder level. Grab onto your wrist with the other hand and gently pull your arms forward as you round your upper back. For a deaf stretch, gently drop your head towards the ground at the same time. Hold for a minimum of 15 seconds.

Hip Stretch – when you're sitting a lot, it's important to open your hips. Sit tall at the edge of your chair. Keep your right foot flat on the floor while you cross your left ankle on top of your right knee with your left knee pointing out to the left side of your body. Gently press down on your left knee bringing it closer to the ground until you feel a stretch in your left hip. Hold for a minimum of 15 seconds and repeat with the other leg.

Hamstring Stretch – extend one leg in front of you with your heel on the ground and your toe pointed up toward the ceiling. Place your hands on your lower leg for support and lean forward until a stretch is felt at the back of your upper leg. Hold for a minimum of 15 seconds and repeat with the other leg. For a greater stretch, place your hands on the bottom of the ball of the foot of your extended leg and pull your toes towards you.

Chest Stretch – if you slouch at your desk, this is an important stretch to open up your chest. While sitting tall and keeping your shoulders dropped, reach your hands behind your back or around the back of your chair. Think of trying to squeeze your shoulder blades together until you feel a stretch in your chest. Hold for a minimum of 15 seconds.

Wrist Stretch – extend one arm out in front of you so your elbow is straight with your palms facing away from you and your fingers pointing down toward the ground. With your other hand, gently press the palm of your extended hand towards the floor until you feel a stretch in your forearm. Hold for a minimum of 15 seconds and repeat with your other arm.

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There Are More Than One Cause of Pain in the Low Back – Not Everything Is Muscle, Joint, or Disc

Lumbosacral sprains are a common cause of low back pain. The lumbar spine connects to the pelvis at the sacrum. There are five lumbar vertebrae, and the bottom bone is name L5 (5th lumbar). L5 connects to the sacrum and transitions the body weight forces onto the pelvis. Likewise, forces and movements from the pelvis and legs transition to the lumbar spine at this joint complex.

Transition points in the body are common places of injuries because of the direction of forces and the body weight involved. The lumbosacral joint (term for the joint between L5 and sacrum) is supported by several ligaments that resist excess movements. The lumbosacral joint needs to be able to support the body weight standing, but also absorb the same forces while sitting.

Sitting with poor posture increases the stresses on the ligaments instead of the structural joints. Muscles will try to help and support the lumbosacral joint, but can also become injured with excess movement or forces. This joint complex is important as we go from a seated to a standing position. As we stand the low back, pelvis, hips, and legs create a significant amount of force and motion. If your body weight is too far forward the lumbosacral joint absorbs the abuse and strain. Likewise, when lifting a box off the ground poor posture can cause excessive stress on the joint.

LUMBOSACRAL PAIN

People often describe a dull ache in their low back with lumbosacral sprains. It may start as stiffness but increase to a constant dull ache with prolonged sitting, standing, bending, or walking. As the pain gets worse, the pain starts to radiate away from the low back. It usually gets bigger and can become “like a big belt buckle pain.” In more severe sprains the pain starts to radiate into the butt or gluteal regions. The most severe sprains start to radiate down the leg to the knee. Pain usually does not go past the knee, except for only brief moments.

TYPES OF INJURIES TO THE LUMBOSACRAL SPINE

ACUTE LUMBOSACRAL SPRAINS TO THE LOW BACK

The facet joints or joint capsules can become sprained or injured. Especially with an acute injury that involve bending, turning, twisting, or lifting. People usually feel a sharp stabbing pain, maybe like “an ice pick right here” feeling. People are usually able to place their fingers right on the joints of the lumbosacral spine.

People with acute first time injuries usually respond very well to a short course of treatment that involves electric, ice, heat, cold laser, stretching, exercises, traction, flexion distraction, massage therapy, physical therapy, and chiropractic. For a mild sprain, the pain is usually gone in 1-2 weeks. Moderate sprains may take another week or two. Severe sprains will take longer to heal from the low back pain.

CHRONIC LUMBOSACRAL SPRAINS

More common injuries, especially with people experiencing chronic pain in this area, are ligament sprains. There are several small ligaments that connect the sacrum, ilium, and lumbar spine. The iliolumbar ligament runs from the ilium to the 4th and 5th lumbar vertebrae. It prevails excessive movement between the lumbar spinal and pelvis. It can usually be injured with the bending, lifting, or chronic sitting. If the ligaments do not heal correctly they can become a common source of chronic pain.

Injured ligaments can usually repair, heal, and become as strong as before the injury. However, sometimes they end up forming scar tissue patches that become weak points. Since scar tissue is not as strong as normal ligaments, the scar tissue is the first place to break down and become painful. This is especially valuable in people who have experienced several exacerbations of pain in the same area.

In addition to utilizing the treatments in an acute sprain, chronic sprains will require treatments to decrease the scar tissue in the ligaments. I like to describe scar tissue like “duct tape.” The body likes to use duct tape to hold something together for a short period of time until it has the time and ability to properly heal the area. However, sometimes the duct tape gets pulled and stretched before the body can fix the injury. In this scenario, the body adds more duct tape to the area. Just like at home, bigger problems mean more duct tape.

The duct tape is structural weaker than normal ligaments, so it will be the first area to break with increased stress. Duct tape continues to get added with each aggravation or injury. The body sometimes needs help to recognize the duct tape, break it down, and repair the area with normal tissue.

Chronic lumbosacral sprains typically require more strengthening exercises than acute sprains. People with a history of chronic sprains tend to have poor core strength. In addition there tend to be a loss of hip and low back flexibility. The body has been guarding with the muscles, and it takes time to return normal flexibility into those muscles.

LUMBOSACRAL SPRAINS AND BACK PAIN WILL GO AWAY

When treatment addresses scar tissue in addition to joint motion, muscle strength, endurance, and elastic lumbar pain can permanently disappear. Chronic back pain will improve like any other back injury.

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Why Chiropractors Can Help to Ease Your Back Pain

If you are suffering from back pain, then you are not alone, in fact you are amongst over a million back pain sufferers in the United States alone. Getting relief from this pain can be a long and tiresome process that will consist of pain relief and even surgery if things get really bad. Unfortunately, taking pills and other medication for it can be problematic in itself, as it is easy to get added to modern day painkillers. That is why more and more people are being referred to Chiropractors by their doctors.

What Can Cause It?

Back pain can be caused by a number of factors and these include bad posture, disease, over exertion and even as the result of an accident. The pain that occurs as a result of these factors can be acute or chronic, and it is chronic back pain that causes the most problems amongst sufferers. Those who suffer from acute back pain, only have the pain for a few days or weeks, whereas for those who are suffering from chronic back pain there is little hope of immediate relief.

What Can a Chiropractor Do To Help?

The most common causes is the misalignment of the spine, and its disks. A chiropractor is able to manipulate the spinal in order to alleviate stress on the nerves, muscles and discs in the back.

The spinal is the most crucial part of the human skeletal system, not only does it keep us in an upright position, but it also acts as a protective layer to the spinal cord, the nerve which connotes the brain to all of the other nerves in the body. Nearly all body functions, as well as motor function is dependent on the spinal cord, and it does not take much for the spine to become the victim of damage.

Chiropractors use their experience to manipulate the spine back in place so that along with various stretching and mobility exercises, the pain can be relieved without the help of expensive and potentially addictive medication.

One of the most common back complaints is Sciatica. This is the longest nerve in the human body, and it runs along the base of the back, and it can become inflamed which causes either short sharp bursts of pain, to longer periods of persistent pain. Again, spinal adjustment by a trained chiropractor can help to alleviate it by realigning the spine. If you have back pain you may want to consider seeing your doctor and asking them about the possibility of seeing a chiropractor.

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