Back Pain

Is your bed causing your back pain?

John Naumann Back Pain Comments Off on Is your bed causing your back pain?

bed causing your back painWith so many causes of back pain, many people forget to look at their bed as a potential source.  Considering you are spending about 1/3 of your life on one you should ask the question, is your bed causing your back pain?

So how do you evaluate if your bed is contributing to your back pain.

  1. When you wake up in the morning, do you feel refreshed and back relaxed?
    • Your bed should afford you a restful night sleep and your back should be relaxed.  If not, your mattress may be ill fitting and need to be changed
  2. Do you seem to toss and turn all night?
    • If you toss and turn at night, it may be your sleeping position.  Back sleeping is optimal, side sleeping is OK, and stomach sleeping should be avoided.
  3. If you share a bed, does your bed partner complain of restless sleep?
    • If both you and your partner are complaining of discomfort while sleeping, it is probably time to look for a new mattress.
  4. Do you sleep with children or pets in the bed?
    • Pets and children move around a lot and can limit the space you have on your bed.  This can result in awkward sleeping positions that contribute to back pain
  5. Is your bed over 10 years old?
    • Beds wear out over time, and you should consider replacing your mattress about ever 10 years.

If you answer yes to many of these questions, you may be wanting to change your sleeping environment.  Better sleep and bed can lead to reduced back pain.

 


Diet can reduce back pain

John Naumann Acute Pain, Back Pain Comments Off on Diet can reduce back pain

As they say, “You are what you eat!”  What we eat can help us meet many health and fitness goals.  So you might think your diet can reduce back pain,and you would be right.  Check out these diet tips to help reduce back pain.

  1. Stay hydrated – The discs in your spine are primarily made up of water.  Well hydrated body tissues help cushion the body and help the healing process.  Make sure to drink plenty of liquids.
  2. Eat healthy proteins – Protein is an important building block to muscle repair. But not all high protein foods are the same.  Consider adding fish like, salmon or tuna, to your diet.  They are high in Omega-3 fatty acids, which is an anti-inflammatory.  Some meats, especially processed meats, can actually create an inflammatory response.
  3. Eat “bright” vegetables – Typically vegetables with deep colors, actually have anti-inflammatory properties.  Try adding foods like, carrots, beets, sweet potatoes, cherries, berries, grapes and red wine, pomegranate, and watermelon to your diet.
  4. Other foods – Other good food choices for an anti-pain diet: avocados; nuts (walnuts, almonds, pecans, and Brazil nuts); lean proteins, such as chicken and turkey; beans; and cocoa.

Take a comprehensive approach to treating your back pain by making sure your diet supports your back pain recovery.


10 Ways to Control Chronic Back Pain

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10 ways to control chronic back pain

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tips to help you deal with your chronic back pain

Chronic back pain can be one of the most frustrating conditions to deal with.  It affects every posture (laying, seated, standing) and every movement (especially walking and lifting).  Chronic back pain can wear you down and make you irritable and more sensitive to other stimuli and create an almost hopeless state of mind.  So managing your back pain not only do you need to address the physical but also the mental aspects of pain management.  Here are 10 tips for addressing the mental side of pain management.

  1. Positive imagery – Focus your attention on a pleasant place, like the beach, mountains, etc.
  2. Symbolic imagery – Envision a symbol that represents your chronic pain, such as a loud, irritating noise or a painfully bright light bulb. Gradually reduce the irritating qualities of this symbol, for example dim the light or reduce the volume of the noise, thereby reducing the pain.
  3. Transfer – Use your mind to produce altered sensations, such as heat, cold, anesthetic, in a non-painful hand, and then place the hand on the painful area. Envision transferring this pleasant, altered sensation into the painful area.
  4. Pain Movement – Move chronic back pain from one area of your body to another, where the pain is easier to cope with. For example, mentally move your chronic back pain slowly into your hand, or even out of your hand into the air.
  5. Dissociation – As the name implies, this chronic pain technique involves mentally separating the painful body part from the rest of the body, or imagining the body and mind as separate, with the chronic pain distant from one’s mind. For example, imagine your painful lower back sitting on a chair across the room and tell it to stay sitting there, far away from your mind.
  6. Alter your focus – This is a favorite technique for demonstrating how powerfully the mind can alter sensations in the body. Focus your attention on any specific non-painful part of the body (hand, foot, etc.) and alter sensation in that part of the body. For example, imagine your hand warming up. This will take the mind away from focusing on the source of your pain, such as your back pain.
  7. Sensory splitting – This technique involves dividing the sensation (pain, burning, pins and needles) into separate parts. For example, if back pain feels hot to you, focus just on the sensation of the heat and not on the hurting.
  8. Mental anesthesia – This involves imagining an injection of numbing anesthetic (like Novocain) into the painful area, such as imagining a numbing solution being injected into your low back. Similarly, you may then wish to imagine a soothing and cooling ice pack being placed onto the area of pain.
  9. Mental analgesia – Building on the mental anesthesia concept, this technique involves imagining an injection of a strong pain-killer, such as morphine, into the painful area. Alternatively, you can imagine your brain producing massive amount of endorphins, the natural pain relieving substance of the body, and having them flow to the painful parts of your body.
  10. Counting – Silent counting is a good way to deal with painful episodes. You might count breaths, count holes in an acoustic ceiling, count floor tiles, or simply conjure up mental images and count them.

Try some of these mental exercises, they will take practice but can help you limit the intensity of the pain you are feeling.


Reduce back pain with better sleep

John Naumann Articles, Back Pain Comments Off on Reduce back pain with better sleep

back pain with better sleep

Our sleep position can either help or make our back pain worse.  Considering the fact that we spend about a third of our day sleeping, improving our sleep position can dramatically reduce back pain with better sleep.  Check out these tips to a better nights sleep:

  1. Get rid of the old mattress – If you have a mattress over 10 years old, then it is time to consider replacing it.  Mattresses deform over time and need to be replaced.  Some back pain suffers increased back pain symptoms after sleeping on a mattress that doesn’t fit them well, so it is important that you shop around for the right mattress for you.  Many stores that sell mattresses give you at least a 30 day trial period to make sure the mattress works for you.  Don’t be discouraged if it takes a few days to get used to a new mattress.  Within a week you will know if it is helping.
  2. Get rid of the old pillow – Pillows should be swapped out about every year.  Having proper neck support can make or break a restful night of sleep.  Pillow support can break down faster than a mattress and result in poor neck support.  Try out multiple types of pillows to find the right fit for you.  Note: Don’t use too many pillows because it can put an awkward angle on your neck.
  3. Sleep cool – Our body sleeps best when it is a little cool.  In fact our body temperature naturally goes down when we sleep.  If you are tossing and turning a lot at night. Try going with a little less cover and see if this helps.
  4. Eat earlier – Don’t eat a heavy meal right before you go to bed.  This can also lead to sleep restlessness.
  5. Drink a glass of water – You may be worried about having to get up in the middle of the night to go to restroom, but your body naturally dehydrates at night and does a lot of bodily repair.  This repair needs water.  Also, drink a glass of water when you first get up.
  6. Get in the right position – Your sleep position can either decompress the spine or put more stress on it.  Preferred sleeping postures would be back or side sleeping.  Avoid stomach sleep
  7. Get enough sleep – 8 hours of sleep is recommended for optimal rest and recovery, but avoid getting less than 6 hours of sleep.

Getting a good night sleep will not only help you with your back pain, but help get you in the right mood to start the day.


What does a stiff back mean?

John Naumann Back Pain Comments Off on What does a stiff back mean?

“My back feels so stiff!” We often hear our friends say.

Well, that doesn’t mean your friend’s back is actually stiff, according to a new study at the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine.

“A conscious experience of feeling stiff does not reflect true biomechanical back stiffness,” explained Greg Kawchuk, professor and back and spine expert in the Department of Physical Therapy. “When we use the same word, stiffness, to describe a feeling and how we measure actual stiffness, we assume these words are describing the same thing. But that is not always the case.”

In the study, Kawchuk and his team asked participants how stiff their backs felt to them. After that, using a customized device, they measured just how stiff the back actually was.

“There was no relation between biomechanical stiffness and the reported feeling of stiffness,” he said. “What people describe as stiffness is something different than the measurement of stiffness.”

Tasha Stanton, lead author and senior research fellow of pain neuroscience at the University of South Australia, said that the feeling of stiffness may be a protective construct that is created by our nervous system.

“It’s our body’s way of protecting ourselves, possibly from strain, further injury or more pain,” she said.

With lower back pain being the leading cause of disability worldwide affecting approximately 632 million people, it is important to examine mechanisms associated with lower back pain and its symptoms, including stiffness.

“Words are important. The words patients use to describe a problem in the clinic may not be the same thing we as clinicians measure in the clinic,” said Kawchuk. “We need to find out what it means exactly when someone says they have a stiff back. We now know it might not mean that their back is mechanically stiff.

It could mean they feel their movements are slower and more painful.”

Materials provided by University of Alberta. Original written by Laurie Wang. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


How to properly set up a computer task chair

John Naumann Back Pain, Uncategorized Comments Off on How to properly set up a computer task chair

Most of us work at computer workstations today which can lead to neck and back discomfort.  Having properly set up a computer task chair can go a long way in helping support a proper posture, which in turn leads to less neck and back pain.  Here are some tips if you are experiencing discomfort in your work chair.

Set the proper chair height – If the seat is too high or too low, it can lead to increased pressure in the spine leading to increased back pain.  Most people have the seat too high, because desk heights are designed for clearance for very tall people.  So most people shorter than 6’4″, have to make some form of accommodation.  The proper height encourage a 90-95 degree bend at the knee with feet flat on the floor.

 

 

 

 

Adjust Seat Pan Depth – Some chairs have a seat pan that can be adjusted to provide proper leg clearance so that the person can sit all the way back in the chair to be able to properly use the lumbar support. The proper distance between the front edge of the seat pan and back of the leg (just below the knee) should be about 2 finger widths deep.  If seat pan doesn’t adjust and the clearance is not enough, purchasing a separate lumbar cushion can help make up the difference.

 

 

 

 

 

Adjust Lumbar Support – Most people set the lumbar support too low.  The lumbar support should be high enough that you feel it just under the lower part of the rib-cage in the back.  The back rest should be upright and locked to encourage about a 95 degree angle at the hip.

 

 

 

 

 

Adjust the Armrests – The armrests on the chair should lightly support the forearms when in proper seated posture.  It is important to avoid direct contact with the elbow as this can lead to ulnar nerve irritation.  Also make sure to not have to slouch or shrug your shoulders in order to use the armrests.

 

 

 

 

 

If you are working 80% of your day in front of a computer during the day and your chair cannot be set up to support a proper seated posture, look for a computer task chair that can be adjusted to meet your needs.


Are Back Braces Bad For You?

John Naumann Acute Pain, Back Pain, Chronic Pain Comments Off on Are Back Braces Bad For You?

back braces bad for youThe most common injury in the work place was a back injury.  Back Braces were the big “safety” feature in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s in helping protect workers backs when lifting objects.  The problem arose when people would wear back braces for any lifting activities and gradually their abdominal core muscles became weaker and weaker because of lack of use.  This led to people becoming more susceptible to having a back injury from performing even the most basic of movements.   The question arose, “Are back braces bad for you?”

The popularity of back bracing has waned from this heyday, but we are beginning to see a resurgence of back bracing again.  This time around many of them are more compression based wraps versus the more rigid support provided by the older back braces.  The benefit of compression based wraps is they provide light support but encourage more abdominal muscle engagement to brace the back.  In acute cases this can help people get over the “hump” with back pain.  For people with chronic back pain, wearing a brace all the time could actually be exacerbating the injury.  The important thing is to focus on spending time strengthening you back and abdominal core muscles


Better Night Sleep with Back Pain

John Naumann Acute Pain, Back Pain, Chronic Pain Comments Off on Better Night Sleep with Back Pain

One of the biggest challenges for people with back pain is getting a good night sleep.  Getting a better night sleep with back pain isn’t impossible if you do a few things.  Follow these tips to a better night sleep.

  1. Check your mattress – If your mattress is over 10 years old you will want to consider replacing it.  An old mattress doesn’t do a good job provide good back support.
  2. Check your pillows – Pillows break down quicker than mattresses and can reduce support for the head and neck.  Having the proper head and neck support will help provide a good nights sleep
  3. Stretch – Stretches like hamstring stretch, piriformis stretch, iliopsaos stretch, and back lying trunk rotations can help get muscles loosened up in the back encouraging better blood floor for recovery while you sleep
  4. Check your position – Laying flat on your back is the most decompressed position you can put your spine in.  Place a pillow under the knees to provide even better support.  Side-lying is sometimes more comfortable, especially if you place a body pillow between your arms and knees.  Avoid laying on your stomach.
  5. Give yourself time – Making sure you go to bed early enough to let your back get into a position to relax is important.  Often slight shifts in position may pull us from deep sleep, due to pain response.  If you normally sleep 7 hours, go to bed an extra hour earlier to help you hit your target.

Getting a good nights sleep will help with stress and irritability with back pain.  Before you go to bed tonight try these tips to get a better nights sleep.


How to treat back pain

John Naumann Acute Pain, Back Pain, Chronic Pain Comments Off on How to treat back pain

A recent article published on Harvard Health Publications cites how the approach to treat back pain has changed since the 1980’s.  Up until the 1980’s bed rest was the most prevelant way to treat back pain.  By the early 1990’s, use of anti-inflammatory medication and light activity where commonly prescribed.  Recent studies now state that use of any medication in the initial treatment of back pain is ineffective and possibly harmful.  The new way doctors are prescribing treatment is to try, massage, heat, accupuncture, and spinal manipulation for treating acute back pain.  For chronic back pain the recommendation is to prescribe physical therapy, accupuncture, and stress reduction programs.

The new approach to treating back pain is not using any new techniques, but by limiting, if not eliminating the prescription of non-steroidal anti-inflammatories is definitely a big change for many physicians.  Learn more:  Here’s something completely different for low back pain.


Yoga vs. Physical Therapy for Chronic Low Back Pain

John Naumann Back Pain, Chronic Pain Comments Off on Yoga vs. Physical Therapy for Chronic Low Back Pain

yoga vs. physical therapyMany people tout the benefits of Yoga for reducing chronic back pain and many studies have shown that physical therapy is more effective than taking pain medication.  So which is more effective, Yoga vs. Physical Therapy for Chronic Low Back Pain?

A recent study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine  finds that yoga was just as good as physical therapy for reducing pain and increasing mobility. While clinical guidelines and many large-scale randomized controlled trials endorse yoga as a reasonable first line approach, physical therapy still remains the most common reimbursable, evidence-based, non-pharmacologic therapy prescribed by doctors.

Yoga is a great way to maintain pain relief once the initial phase of back pain is addressed by a medical professional.  But caution needs to be addressed when considering Yoga as a primary method for treating chronic low back pain.  First, the cause of low back pain is different for everyone and needs to be addressed individually.  Secondly, Yoga instructors are not medical providers, so they aren’t trained to recognize potential risks when performing certain movements.

Physical Therapy is great to help address increased bouts of pain and help educate the patient about what precautions they should take with any exercise program, including Yoga.  Also Physical Therapy, is covered under most insurance plans, while Yoga is not.

Most people would benefit from practicing Yoga as a maintenance program between physical therapy services in treating chronic low back pain.


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