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For many people, back pain seems like an unavoidable discomfort. But you may have more control than you think.
You can wreck your back in any number of ways, but a few major offenders stand out: Not stretching, not paying attention to your movements, and years of wear and tear, says Nick Shamie, MD, associate professor of orthopedic neurosurgery at UCLA and a spokesman for the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.
Here are five habits that put your spine at risk and simple strategies to stop them before the damage is done.
Back Wrecker #1: Weekend Warfare
'Most often, I see people who injured themselves during a weekend basketball game or a round of golf,' Shamie says. 'These people think they're athletes, but don't train like the pros, and as a result, their backs suffer.'
SLIDESHOW 10 Health Myths Debunked Start
Tackling those 'Honey Do' lists at home can also set you up for injury, especially if you were idle for most of the week. Cleaning out the garage, bending over a workbench, or spending hours in the yard or garden can be just as hard on your back as anything you do on a playing field.
Prevent it:'The only preventive solution I've found for back pain is exercise,' says Michael Hisey, MD, orthopedic surgeon and president of the Texas Back Institute in Denton, Texas. 'The fix is to stretch and strengthen your core muscles.'
The obliques -- the abdominal muscles on your sides -- are especially important for back stability, Hisey tells WebMD.
Hisey's tip: Get an inflatable exercise ball. Use it in your workouts and sit on it, instead of a chair, to engage your abs.
Back Wrecker #2: Poor Lifting Technique
'Improper bending and lifting causes back injury; that's all there is to it,' says Dan McMackin, a spokesman for UPS.
Prevent it: Engage your abs to help support your back. Here are the basic principles that UPS uses for safe lifting, according to McMackin:
Bend your knees and keep your back straight. Don't bend at your waist.
Keep the object close to you. The farther away you hold it from your body, the more it stresses your back.
Never hold an item higher than your armpit or lower than your knees.
Don't move something that weighs more than 20% of your body weight.
Don't pivot, twist, or turn while lifting. Point your feet at the item you're lifting and face it as you pick it up. Change direction with your feet, not your waist.
Back Wrecker #3: Absentmindedness During Daily Activity
Simple tasks like taking out the trash or washing the dishes can get your spine bent out of shape if your body isn't ready.
'The movement doesn't necessarily have to be exaggerated or involve a heavy object,' Hisey says. 'You can hurt your back grabbing a paperclip off the floor or loading the dishwasher.'
And if your mind is running on auto-pilot instead of focusing on what you're doing, you could be in trouble.
'At UPS, we've seen a higher proportion of injuries occur at the end of the shift, due to fatigue of the mind and body,' McMackin says.
Prevent it: Train yourself to keep your core muscles engaged.
SLIDESHOW : Surprising Reasons You're in PainStart
A simple way to do that is to pull your navel toward your spine and imagine you're wearing a corset that pulls the sides of your abs inward. Doing that throughout the day -- and especially when lifting or bending -- strengthens and supports your back, says Esther Gokhale, author of8 Steps to a Pain-Free Back and owner of Esther Gokhale Wellness Center in Palo Alto, Calif.
Back Wreckers #4 and #5: Commuting and Computing
You sit, and you sit, and you sit some more -- at work, while driving, and in front of the TV. And your back doesn't like it. Here's why.
Your discs are spongy and cushion the vertebrae in your spine, but discs have poor blood supply, Hisey says. When you move, fluid circulates through the discs. When you sit still, the fluid is wrung out, so you're depriving discs of nutrition, he says. Spending so much time behind the wheel of a car or sitting in front of a computer adds mileage to our discs, which leads to stress in your back.
'The discs in your spine are nourished by motion,' Hisey says. 'So sitting still is hard on your back and neck, and can do long-term damage.' Studies have also shown that sitting puts more pressure on your spine than lying down or standing up.
'The worst posture is sitting and leaning forward,' Shamie says. This makes you lock your pelvis and flex your spine, putting pressure on the front of the vertebrae, where your discs are. The more you arch forward and exaggerate the curve of the spine, the more pressure you're putting on your discs. 'This uneven pressure on a disc puts it at high risk of rupture,' Shamie explains.
Back Wreckers #4 and #5: Commuting and Computing continued...
Prevent it: You're going to sit. So try these tactics to lessen its impact on your back:
Get up and move at least once every 20 minutes, unless you're driving. Set your screen saver to remind you; make a habit of going for a drink of water; when you answer the phone, stand up to stretch and change positions.
Keep your spine properly aligned by holding reading material at eye level (when sitting or standing) rather than bending over. Don't lean over a desk or table to work. Whenever possible, your spine should be straight.
Choose a chair that supports your back. Adjust the chair so that your feet stay flat on the floor. If the chair doesn't support your lower back's curve, place a rolled towel or small pillow behind your lower back. Remove anything from your back pockets, especially a wallet, if you'll be seated for long periods of time because this puts your spine out of alignment.
Gokhale suggests doing the following exercises to help lengthen your spine:
Get on your hands and knees. Reach your left arm straight ahead and straighten your right leg behind you. Use your stomach muscles to stabilize. Hold for 5-10 seconds and slowly return to starting position. Switch arm and leg. Repeat 3-5 times on each side.
Sit tall, lengthen your spine, and let your shoulders relax. Concentrate on squeezing your shoulder blades together, keeping your arms hanging at your sides. Hold for 3-5 seconds, then release. Repeat 10-20 times.
Fell down from bike 25 days ago. Wrist injured during the incident an x-ray has been taken which shows no significant fracture hence MRI has been taken MRI shows no abnormality still my wrist pains while moving fingers there is weakness in my fingers and I can't hold anything with fingers properly movement in my wrist is restricted to some extent it's very painful in some movement.
I am a 30 year old married female. For past 2 months I am suffering from neck pain caused as a result of using double pillow. The xray observation says" minimal disc space reduction seen at C4-C5 and C5-C6" and" marginal posterior osteophytes are seen at C3 to C6 vertebrae" with conclusion as" F/s/o early cervical spondylosis with marginal disc space reduction at C4-C5, C5-C6" I would like to know what is the permanent cure for this apart from neck exercises and what preventive steps to be taken to lead a normal life.
I am having knee problem. My left knee pains a lot. I am scared it will lead to a big problem. How to reduce this pain?
I am 70 years old, is managing arthritis of left knee with kondro acute, mega soft like supplements. Weight is 67 kg height 5.3 want to reduce few kgs. What should be my ideal weight. How to do. Advise.
For past two months my shoulders have in constant pain. Usually I apply volini but it does not seem like a permanent solution.
What should a person do when he is suffering from severe pain and feeling disturbance while walking. Though he has a surgery of l4 l5 segment.
Dear sir I have pain in my legs. I can't walk properly long distance. Pls suggest what do for fast relief. Better medicine.
Sir namaskar mujhe back muscle pain 5 year se he .Mujhe bhut paresani hoti he.B.P.Bhi high he meri age 39 year he kafi treatment kara chuka .MRI.X ray sabhi par aram nahi BP ka tab. Leta hu .Please suggest something better
Hi. I am 28 years old male, Working in US company in daily night shifts. I sit and work for around 10 hours. I am having uneven pain like current shock like pain while moving my leg. At some sought of movement, it get severe pain (not muscle) internally, I think nerves. In sleep some of my body parts like Ribs, Neck, Knees and lower in spine tends to some air lock or something, I am unable to move for around two days. Went to general physician and discussed, he gave medicine but no use. He said that go to some orthopedic or neuro guy, you will get the solution. Please Help me. I am suffering to move. Unable to walk properly.
My brother is 34 he has started lower back pain he goes on bike for his job he has taken physiotherapy what he should do.
I am 41 years old female. On 2.09. 2012 I had a fall and had undergone a surgery for trimallealor fracture. Thereafter because of an unstable ankle I underwent a second surgery on 8.06. 2013 for reconstruction of the ankle joint and bone grafting was done for the same. After physio sessions etc I do my exercises religiously as my right knee and back was affected cause of my ankle injury as I was putting weight on my other leg. I can now go for a 1.5 km walk and can take care of myself but can't pick up a job where prolonged standing and sitting is required. I am. Not able to do too many things in a day as I used to before my injury. How can I improve my quality of life. Is there fusion of ankle required Though I don't have the strength to undergo another surgery and I am managing things though a little frustrated. Please advice. Thanks.
2) it occurs due to increased uric acid levels which get deposited into joints, heart, kidneys, every patient with raised uric acid doesn't have gout.
All such patients not having gout need not be treated with uric acid lowering agents.
3) it commonly presents as acute sudden attack of red hot swollen joint, usually base of great toe, to begin with (see photograph below)
4) then patient will have a phase where he/she is completely normal. Later on attacks will be more in number, as disease progress they will be more frequent, the attack will last for longer days, and will spread to other joints
5) gout is not only a disease of joints, but it affects heart and kidneys too. It can kill! also severe disease develops 5-10 years after first attack.
6) that is why gout need to be treated with life long therapy, rather than only few days of therapy as commonly practiced incorrectly.
7) gout patients can have dals. Its a wrong concept and biggest myth in gout to stop dals. You have to anyways take medicine, dals are good for health, no use stopping them.
8) gout its along with their medicine should also consume lot of water (washes uric acid in urine). Should also limit alcohol and red meat (they can be allowed in reasonable quantity, no need of complete stopping, remember its a lifelong commitment:)
9) if you don treat gout properly
- the disease can spread to other joints (see hand joints photographs below), with severe damage to joints (see x-ray)
I am 65 years old male suffering from pain joints in ankles, wrists, fingers, elbows, knees, toes for the pat 1 year. All my RA reports, vitamin D, vitamin B12 and others are OK. The suffering becomes bad at night and destroys my sleep. Can you help! thanks.
I had been prone to heroine use from last few years. Post withdrawal I encounter diarreah, nausea,sweating, irritability,depression n craving. Been clean in b/w for 2-3 days but got back to drugs. I don't want to continue it anymore but feel low while normal. Any help appreciated . Thanks.
Lower back pains may underline a host of diseases, some of the most distinctive being the degeneration of lumbar disc and strain of back muscles. If left unattended, these acute durations of severe pain can lead to further complications, beyond the scope of both active and passive physical treatment regimes. Hence, it is always recommended to attend to these minuscule symptoms as soon as they are detected.
How physiotherapy works wonders in lower back pains:
- Physiotherapy is recommended when lower back pains are frequent, or stretch for days at a time. Most medical literatures, which shower their unanimous support in favour of physiotherapy for back pain, make note that physiotherapy relieves pain, as well as improves the functions, which are most likely to be affected by this disorder.
- Pain emanating, following a surgery, is recognized as one of the most significant aspects where benefits of physiotherapy are more visible. Generally, patients are advised to undergo physiotherapy sessions after surgical procedures irrespective of age and gender, unless the move is contraindicated in specific cases.
- Muscular spasms and muscle shrinking is a highly familiar phenomenon observed in individuals who are relatively less active. Muscle shrinking can often be attributed to very low usage of certain muscles, while muscle spasm can occur when neurons at the affected muscles are irritated. Physiotherapy is observed as both the first line as well as the second line of treatment regimen in such occurrences; a routine for gradual and slow stretching is recommended by physiotherapists involving the muscles of legs, hips, abdomen and lower back, based on their intensity of pain.
- Advanced stages of a physiotherapy treatment regime upgrade the simple stretching exercises to more rigorous ones like specific stabilizing drills, exercises involving balancing machines and/or exercise balls. This aspect of physiotherapy caters to the secondary spine muscles of the human body.
- The area of the body considered to be the core of lower back pain (lower back muscles and muscles of abdomen) requires more than just stretching or exercises involving machines. Workout focused on these core areas are based on a complex set of exercises, which may have to be improvised such that the aforementioned muscles absorb the maximum shock.
- In addition to these conventional exercises, which are based on applications of gravity, some centres offer a different environment for individuals who are unable to perform activities in normal conditions. The concept of aquatic pools addresses the issue, and makes exercising quite an easy feat for the physically challenged individuals. If you wish to discuss about any specific problem, you can consult a physiotherapist.