Back Pain

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Category Archives: Back Pain

Healthy Spine Tips to Prevent Back and Neck Pain

Lower back pain is responsible for more global disabilities than any other problem. It affects 80% of people at some point in their lives. Up to 90% will also suffer from tension headaches at least once, and posture, neck spasms, and stress can all contribute. The evolution of the human spine has been slow and, at times, painful. It’s simply not ideal for upright walking, so getting your pain under control requires a little effort and support. Causes include:

  • Osteoporosis
  • Muscle strain from overstretching or carrying heavy objects incorrectly
  • Poor posture and badly designed work stations
  • Sports injuries
  • Herniated discs
  • Curvature

A typical strain creates swelling, sets your posture off balance, and causes spasms that create even more pronounced posture problems and swelling. Sports injuries, curvature, and even herniation can create a similar cycle, so two of the most important ways to bring healing are through stretching and spasm release. Physiotherapy, yoga, and stretching achieve this.

You can prevent back pain by

  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Lifting with your knees bent and your back upright
  • Taking walking or stretching breaks when you do desk work
  • Using ergonomic furniture
  • Sleeping on your side
  • Quitting smoking. Smokers have more spine problems than nonsmokers and recover from surgery more slowly.

Back Pain Associated with Aging

Osteoporosis, disk degeneration, and spinal arthritis often require more invasive solutions, but your lifestyle can greatly improve your symptoms. Solutions include:

  • Keeping calcium and magnesium levels optimal
  • Strengthening core muscles to support your spine better
  • Stretching and loosening your back muscles
  • Treating strains with ice and compression

The health of your spine is a core contributor to quality of life, and a little loving care can have powerful effects. Want to learn more about ways to relieve back pain? Ready for personalized care? Find a Pain Stop Clinic near you.

How Heavy Bags Cause Back Pain

The average sixth grader carries 18.4 pounds in his backpack, and the average handbag carries 6.27 pounds’ worth of lipstick and keys. Nobody seems to have done any research about the weight of the average briefcase, but man bags have done more than merely embarrass the fashion police—they’ve caused an increase in back and shoulder pain. That’s apart from the luggage you carry to the airport and the heavy lifting you do during your work day.

Back pain has become the norm rather than the exception throughout the world, and luggage is adding to the burden. It’s children’s spinal health that’s most at risk because bad back habits are easily entrenched, and young shoulders are prone to neurological damage, which can eventually affect finger dexterity.

Studies on Heavy Bags and Spine Health

A 2014 Spine study found that heavy backpacks cause disc compression that can have repercussions in adulthood. Pre-adolescents often carry as much as 30% of their body weight. The suggested upper limit is 10%, and this should be carried in a way that distributes weight evenly across both sides of the body. The core muscles should be doing most of that work, and for those with spinal curvature, even perfect carrying technique cannot prevent spasms and pain.

Offloading school backpacks can certainly help, but the problem has less to do with weight as it does off-axis loading. Ergonomic backpacks help children to carry their weight on their vertical axis while encouraging better posture. High seated, close fitting backpacks prevent the slouching traditional backpacks cause.

Adults can prevent baggage woes by developing core muscle strength, but the best solution is a simple one: carry less. Choose small briefcases and purses to remove the temptation of carrying too much weight. Make a habit of clearing your bags of clutter. As any backpacker can tell you, every little bit of weight removed helps.

 

Steroid Injections for Back Pain

Back pain is notoriously challenging to treat, but steroid injections could give you weeks of relief without drugs. The risks are rare, but significant, so your physician will try more conservative approaches before recommending them. They’re an invasive option given the sight of the epidural, but if you’re waiting for surgery or are struggling to cope with short-term pain, they may bring much-needed freedom.

Conditions Treated with Steroid Injections

Back pain isn’t a single diagnosis, but a symptom of a titanic collection of conditions. Epidural injections have proven themselves effective in two conditions: inflammation or nerve damage and spinal stenosis. The former usually affects the lower back and neck, with shooting pain that radiates into the limbs. A herniated disc is frequently the cause. If your spine has narrowed, whether from a herniated disc, misplaced bone spur, or tumor, steroid infections might ease your symptoms, too.

What to Expect from Steroid Injections

Your epidural should be effective for a few weeks. If your first one does its job well, you may be prescribed up to three a year, which means they can’t be a constant source of support. They’re also no substitute if surgery is needed. It’s important to approach this form of treatment from the right angle. Studies haven’t turned up any long term benefits, so they’re largely symptomatic.

Your injection will be given as near as possible to the source of your pain, which is why epidurals are only an option if your condition is highly concentrated to one area. Dispersed pain demands a more general approach.

Cortisone and steroids may be used as anti-inflammatories. Lidocaine or bupivacaine are often included, not only for their anaesthetic powers, but their tendency to flush inflammatory agents out of the area, too.

As always, to determine which treatment might be best for you, work with a caring medical team. If your back pain is affecting your quality of life, contact Pain Stop Clinics for a consultation.

Does Pilates Improve Posture?

You’d be hard pressed to find a fitness guru more obsessed with posture than your average Pilates instructor (perhaps a classical ballet instructor? We digress). Both forms of exercise focus on moving efficiently, and that requires core strength. If you’re relying on your superficial muscles to support you, you probably suffer from at least a little pain. Headaches, pinched nerves, and hip pain can all happen as the result of slouching, and Pilates will address the problem from a few different angles.

Why is Good Posture Important?

If your spine is poorly aligned as you work and play, some muscles must compensate while others become knotted and contracted. Your range of motion will be limited and some of your organs will be compressed. Inflammation can result from nerve compression, too.

Pilates teaches balance, which requires you to rely on core strength while teaching you to balance your weight onto the middle of your foot. You’ll learn a neutral spine position, which keeps your curvature relaxed and natural. If you overcompensate by opening your chest too widely and pushing your shoulders too far back, you will lose your balance, so the process teaches you good habits intuitively.

Pilates for Back Pain

Core strength is an obvious support for back pain, but flexibility has a role, too. By stretching out the muscles around the spine, it releases contractions while reinforcing a healthy curvature. Pilates is so effective at its job that trials have demonstrated improved endurance, flexibility, and posture within only 12 weeks. You needn’t turn your exercise into an obsession to enjoy results. Even mild Pilates routines, when performed twice weekly, have an impact.

Pilates specifically targets the hunched kyphotic lordotic posture, which brings hip spasms, neck tension, and weak abs. Your back pain deserves a proactive solution, and Pain Stop Clinics can help you design a treatment plan.

How Evolution Causes Back Pain

Mankind might be at the top of the food chain, but it’s not because we have perfectly adapted bodies. Evolution has done a fair job of providing opposable thumbs and an efficient brain, but perhaps the back could use some improvements.

A Body Made of Paperclips

Jeremy DeSilva said, “Evolution works with duct tape and paperclips,” and that applies more to the spine than most other body parts. It evolved to suit four-legged movement, and it’s not yet developed to suit bipedal postures perfectly. Richard Dawkins says the human spine is so similar to a gorilla spine that it’s barely adapted to a bipedal gate.

The back was built to arch like a bow so that it would carry the weight of organs in the undercarriage. Standing up threw the structure out of balance, curving the back in the other direction. This places pressure on the lower back, leading to pain.

The curvature of a normal human spine tends to cause a lesion between discs in the lower back. At its worst, it’s prone to scoliosis and sciatica. The spinal cord is also unable to heal fully if damaged because its neurons are too specialized.

Coping with Pain

The back is the most common region for chronic pain. Ergonomic living is an excellent preventative tool, but when the damage has already been done, more work is required. A pain management specialist may be needed to put together a treatment team for your unique problem. Stretches and other exercises may be used to release tight muscles, and specialized treatments such as low impact water therapy and neurological care may be indicated. Your Pain Stop Clinic will take a multi-disciplinary approach to your pain, giving you the best chance at relief.

Evolutionary Biologists Puzzled Over Pain

Painful tissue damage and inflammation tell you that they are there and need care, but even Richard Dawkins can’t find the evolutionary advantage of agony over a more tolerable, subtle ache or other signal. Without pain, you wouldn’t know that fire is dangerous or that your aching back needs treatment. Soreness is one of the crowning achievements of natural selection, but the body takes it to unnecessary heights.

Maybe the brain needs to tell us which sensations to prioritise. If you’ve not taken in fluids for two days, for example, your thirst is more important than your slightly bruised foot. If you’ve put your hand in a fire, though, it’s best to rescue your limb before you go hunting for the nearest stream. Varying intensities tell you what requires urgent action.

Neurology’s Viewpoint

People with disorders that prevent pain “usually come to a bad end,” says Dawkins. These patients must learn how to identify signs of harmful burns and breakages, but they often fail to adjust. They tend to suffer serious disabilities as a result.

It’s doubtful you’d take a more tolerable signal seriously, which lends credibility to the Darwinian explanation, but that doesn’t tell us the point of migraines and other painful disorders. Neuroscientist Vincenzo Bonavita believes that these seemingly useless pain signals force you to disengage from active life and get the necessary rest. In other words, even when that backache or headache isn’t pointing to tissue damage, you should take it seriously.

Pain is an important part of your health. Your nerves’ signals are as precise as a Geiger Counter. If you’re hurting, your body is telling you to hunt for a cause and some relief, so you need a pain specialist who takes your symptoms seriously. Pain Stop Clinics will do precisely that.

7 Bad Back Habits to Avoid

Back pain may result from a recent or past injury. It can develop gradually over time from repetitive motion, or from lack thereof. While seeking out assistance in diagnosing and treating your back can help clear up the problem, you can help yourself by avoiding these seven bad habits that cause back pain.

Not Exercising

Exercise prevents injury throughout your body by strengthening the muscles. Yoga, pilates and other core workouts strengthen the back and ease strain by also strengthening the abdominal muscles.

Poor Posture

Bad posture causes muscle strain and increases the level of stress on your spine. To improve posture, keep your shoulders back (to avoid slouching), sit against the back of your chair, and stand with a slight bend in your knees.

Improper Lifting

When lifting heavy items, bend your knees and use your leg strength to reduce strain on your back. Make sure you don’t curve your back over the object you’re lifting.

Baggage

As Erykah Badu soulfully reminds us, “Bag lady/ You gon’ hurt your back.” Remember that bags, briefcases and purses count as lifting. If you regularly carry a lot of stuff, consider a wheeled briefcase, a properly adjusted backpack or a downsized purse.

Smoking

There isn’t much good that comes out of smoking, and you can add back pain to your list of reasons to quit. Smoking cuts down blood flow to your disks, increasing back pain.

Calcium and Vitamin D Deficiency

These nutrients develop and strengthen your bones. Discuss increasing your daily intake with your doctor, because there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. Too much calcium, for example, could result in kidney stones, which entirely defeats the purpose of reducing back pain.

Weight

The more weight you carry, the more your muscles and joints strain to support you. Of course, pain makes exercise more challenging. Set realistic exercise goals, eat a balanced diet, and discuss any issues you are having with your physician or professional.

Not Moving

If your back hurts, you might want to settle into the couch, but unless you have a serious injury, rest may be counterproductive. Stretch out and get the blood flowing instead.

Back pain can make everyday tasks difficult to perform. Although there may be deeper causes or complicated symptoms, improving your habits can reduce pain and improve your quality of life.

What Exactly Are Muscle Knots?

You probably know the feeling. You have a sore back, so you ask someone if they can work on it. As they blindly attempt to massage your back, their finger rolls over a lump that causes a twinge of pain. You might scream out while they proclaim they’ve found something, which they then attempt to “work out” by vigorously beating and kneading like so much bread dough.
This is what most refer to as muscle knots. But what exactly is a muscle knot? You might be surprised researchers haven’t arrived at a consensus.

Myofascial Trigger Points

Those who study and treat knots define them as areas of muscle that tense and relax repeatedly. This is caused by overuse or misuse. A good massage therapist can identify what side you sleep on or what hand you use for your mouse based on where your tension shows up. Of course, not every bump your buddy can feel in your back is a muscle knot. Connective tissues and bones can feel like tense muscles to the untrained hand, which is one reason why you might need to see a professional for long-term relief.

One theory purports that tension causes a lack of blood flow to the tissue, so you should always stay hydrated. Of course, hydration is generally an all-around good idea for health and wellness. Though good advice, it doesn’t untangle the knot mystery.

Knots Showing Up on the Scanner

Some researchers say muscle knots don’t exist because they do not show up on scans. Instead, they contend the soreness is caused by neural pain. The symptoms are real, but the cause might not be an area of particularly tense muscle.

Whatever it is, if your back hurts, you are probably more interested in relief than knowing the specific cause. Massage should help relieve the pain you experience, and it’s best done by a professional therapist to avoid complicating any underlying issues with your back or neck. If you experience significant increased pain or no relief at all after a massage, there may be another cause. Ideally, your massage therapist should be part of a team of pain relief professionals. That way, you can try to pinpoint and treat causes while undergoing treatments for pain relief.

Protecting Your Back at Work

Nothing is quite as satisfying as settling into your office workspace to get a productive day’s work done. Did you know the longer you sit, the worse a back problem can become?

There are very effective ways to protect your back while at work, mays to minimize movements or positions that cause back pain. You can improve back tolerance with the following suggestions:

•Start With the Perfect Chair. There are ergonomically designed office chairs which support your body and spine all day long. They may be more expensive than a run-of-the-mill office chair, but they will pay for themselves when you no longer have to make doctor visits for an aching back. These chairs have lumbar support, which is most important of all, because it cradles your lower back right where it’s needed.
•Don’t Forget Your Arms. A good armrest will prevent upper back and neck pain from occurring. These happen because there is little to no support for your arms and shoulder muscles.
•Set Up Your Office Space Correctly. Correctly, in this case, means ‘just for you.’ Ensure that computer monitors are set at the correct height for you, not a tall or a shorter co-worker. If you use a telephone in addition to your computer, by all means get a headset. Never cradle a phone into your neck. If you type a lot, invest in a document holder which holds your typing up so you don’t have to strain your neck to read it.
•Put Your Feet Up. Lower back pain frequently starts with lack of movement. Invest in a foot rest for under your desk and make it a habit of keeping your feet there without crossing your legs.
•Stay Active. Use the stairs instead of the elevator, stand at your desk while talking on the phone, and be the one who gathers up the faxes and volunteers to make the copies during a meeting. Don’t stay immobile for long. If you do, your back will thank you for it later with a nice dull ache.
•After Work, Relax Your Back. At home, don’t forget good posture while sitting or doing chores. Never lift anything unless you bend your knees first, then lift from that position upwards. Low-impact exercises while watching TV or reading can also take the strain off.

There are many ways to relieve back pain, but if nothing seems to be working effectively, there is one more option. Make an appointment to talk about pain management in Phoenix today.

Get the Facts About Back Pain

Back problems and back pain are different for everyone. This is because back pain can be difficult to diagnose. As a consequence, there are many diverse ways of looking at the treatment options and their risks and benefits.

There are many misconceptions out there when you go looking for back pain relief. So, how do you know what to believe about your back pain?

Here are some myths about back pain that are commonly believed.

It Will Never Happen to Me.

Think again. Back pain can happen to anyone, but there are some things which increase your risk of having it turn into chronic pain. The older you get, the more likely you are to experience back pain. This could be due to being overweight, not getting enough exercise, sitting at a desk all day, or injuring your back by lifting or straining in the wrong ways.

If You Have Bad Back Pain It Means I Have Severe Back Damage.

The only time this is true is if you have had a severe back injury. Then your level of back pain will correspond to that level of damage. With chronic back pain, the pain you experience does not necessarily correspond to the amount of damage.

Both My Parents Had Back Pain Which Means I Will Have Back Pain too.

This doesn’t mean you’ll have trouble with your back. Many things can be genetically disposed, but back pain is one problem that your parents won’t be passing along to you.

Low Back Pain Is Only Alleviated by Surgery.

Today there are low back pain treatments that provide relief without either medication or surgery. Because technology is so cutting-edge, your low back pain will be specifically targeted and you’ll find there are a number of options open to you for quick and lasting relief.

The Back Pain I Feel is Probably All in My Head.

Back pain always has an origin, although sometimes it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what is causing your back pain. If you experience muscle tightness, or dull burning sensations in your upper back, with occasional numbness in your limbs, you may have upper back pain. That’s not in your head, it’s in your back!

The good news is that all pain can be alleviated. There is no reason any longer to tough it out. A number of pain management solutions are available to help you get quick and lasting back pain relief.

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