Aging is associated with an increased risk for low back pain caused by lumbar disc degeneration in both men and women. A recent study from China suggests that lower estrogen levels after menopause are associated with more severe disc degeneration in women and that hormone replacement therapy, also called HRT or HT, may help.
Several studies have shown a strong link between estrogen levels and disc generation. This study is the first to include men in the comparison group, according to an article published in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS).
The researchers documented disc degeneration measured by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI scan) in men and women as they age. They discovered that younger, age-matched men are more susceptible to disc degeneration than pre-menopausal women, but post-menopausal women have a significant tendency to develop more severe disc degeneration than men of the same age.
Can Osteoarthritis be prevented? Researchers from the University of Surrey identified a link between metabolism and osteoarthritis. Metabolic changes, caused by a poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle, trigger’s the genetic reprogramming of cells in the body and joints.
Such metabolic changes impact upon the cells ability to produce energy, forcing it to generate alternative sources to function. The stress this places on cells leads to the overproduction of glucose, which when not used for energy transforms into lactic acid, which is difficult for the body to flush out. Abnormal levels of this acid in the body leads to the inflammation of the joint’s cartilage which impedes on movement and causes pain.
By identifying metabolic changes in cells, it is potentially possible to control or significantly slow down the symptoms of osteoarthritis, alleviating the suffering of millions of people.
This debilitating condition disproportionately affects post-menopausal women who are more pre-disposed to the condition because of biology, genetics and hormones. Currently there is no effective treatment for this painful ailment, with only painkillers available to treat symptoms and no known cure.
“It is important never to underestimate the significance of a healthy diet and lifestyle as not only does it impact upon our general well-being but can alter the metabolic behaviour of our cells, tissues and organs leading to serious illnesses.”
During the expert review, researchers from the University of Surrey identified a crucial link between metabolism and osteoarthritis. Metabolic changes, caused by a poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle, trigger’s the genetic reprogramming of cells in the body and joints, according to an article in Science Daily.
It states that metabolic changes impact upon the cells ability to produce energy, forcing it to generate alternative sources to function. The stress this places on cells leads to the overproduction of glucose, which when not used for energy transforms into lactic acid, which is difficult for the body to flush out. Abnormal levels of this acid in the body leads to the inflammation of the joint’s cartilage which impedes on movement and causes pain.
This demonstrates that many conditions we experience are significantly influenced by our lifestyle choices and diet. Placing importance on these things will help improve ones quality of life.
When we think of back pain, we often think it is caused by lifting something heavy, falling, or getting in some sort of accident. We often overlook causes for back pain that are less obvious. Here are a few less obvious causes for back pain:
Sitting to long – Sitting shortens your hip muscles that attach to your low back and can cause significant back pain when tight.
Carrying bags on one shoulder – Placing the weight of a backpack, purse, or carry bag on one shoulder can lead to putting excessive stress on the back and spine, leading to back pain
Smoking – Research has shown that people that smoke, have a higher risk of experiencing back pain.
Excessive phone or tablet use – The posture when using a phone or tablet encourages forward head posture which increase the risk of neck and back pain.
Being aware of some of the most overlooked causes of back pain can help you avoid unnecessary back pain.
Chronic lower back pain affects millions of Americans. Many try steroid injections to ease their discomfort, but researchers now say this remedy provides only short-term relief.
A study performed in France recently found that people that had steroid injections to relieve back pain had no long term effects. They found that a single injection had the most benefit, but follow up injections had only a limited effect.
Patients rated their pain severity before the injection and again one, three, six and 12 months after the treatment.
One month after treatment, 55 percent of those who got the steroid injection experienced less lower back pain, compared with 33 percent of those who weren’t treated.
“However, the groups did not differ for the assessed outcomes 12 months after the injection,” Nguyen said.
For example, patients who did or didn’t received a steroid injection ended up in similar circumstances, with the same incidence of disc inflammation, lower quality of life, more anxiety and depression and continued use of non-narcotic pain pills, she said.
Overall, most patients found the steroid injections tolerable, and would agree to have a second one if necessary, Nguyen said. “We had no specific safety concerns and found no cases of infection, destruction or calcification of the disc 12 months after the injection,” she added.
The study doesn’t say that steroid injections should not be used to treat back pain. In certain cases of acute back pain, it can be helpful in the recovery and addressing pain management. People experiencing chronic back pain would be better served seeking alternative methods of treatment.
Having back pain doesn’t mean you should stop exercising. In fact exercising is very important in the recovery and protection from back pain. Certain exercises can be very bad for back pain. Here is a list of the worst exercises for back pain:
Avoid doing standing toe touches – While stretching the hamstrings is very good for keeping the back healthy, standing toe touches can put extra stress on the spine and aggravate back pain. Try: back lying hamstring stretch
Avoid sit- ups – Sit-ups put a lot of extra stress on the low back and focus more on hips than back. Try: Partial Crunches which helps maintain good spinal support while engaging those core muscles.
Avoid double leg lifts – This exercise is great with a healthy back, but can put extra stress especially when the core muscles are weak. Try: Single leg lifts that have one knee straight and the other bent and supportive. Move slowly through the lift and only to a height about 6″ off the ground
Avoid back squat – This is another great exercise when you don’t have back pain, but can really exacerbate back pain when you are dealing with it. Putting heavy loads on your back can dramatically increase the pressure and stress in the spine. Try: Wall Sit – Sit against a wall with knees at 90 degree angle and a tight core will reduce stress on back and encourage strength in your legs and buttocks.
Avoid burpees – This high intensity exercise can put significant stress on the back, especially as you become more fatigue. Putting extra stress on the back from explosive jumping motion while getting up from the ground. Try: Planks are great core strengthening exercises that encourage static strengthening, versus the dynamic aggressive movements of a burpee.
Gluten is very controversial these days. Recently we are seeing more products with that are “certified” gluten-free logo on it. There is even a Gluten Intolerance Group that certifies products that claim to be gluten-free. Most health care providers claim that it is safe for everyone except those who have celiac disease. Some health experts believe that gluten is harmful for most people. According to a recent survey, more than 30% of Americans actively try to avoid eating gluten. So, what is gluten?
Gluten is a family of proteins found in grains like wheat, rye, spelt and barley. When flour is mixed with water, the gluten proteins form a sticky network that has a glue-like consistency. This glue-like property makes the dough elastic, and gives bread the ability to rise when baked. It also provides a chewy, satisfying texture.
For the vast majority of people, avoiding gluten is unnecessary. However, for people with certain health conditions, removing gluten from the diet can make a huge difference. Furthermore, the diet is usually harmless to try. There is no nutrient in gluten grains that you can’t get from other foods. Just make sure to choose healthy foods. A gluten-free label does not automatically mean that food is healthy. Gluten-free junk food is still junk food.
Reducing stress in your life helps with your overall well-being and helps reduce pain. When we are stressed the body is at a continuous state of fight or flight through the release of cortisol which can inhibit our mind from returning to a state of calm. Here are 10 tips to reduce stress that doesn’t involve a vacation or spa weekend.
Meditate – This can take place anywhere at anytime. Sit up straight with feet on floor, and think of something warm and relaxing and close your eyes. Shut out the world around you and let your mind focus on this peaceful, serene place. A few minutes of meditation can make a big difference in
Deep breathing – This is excellent when you feel frantic and hot tempered. Sitting calmly for about 5 minutes just taking slow deep breaths that go from your diaphragm to the upper part of your chest can reduce your heart rate and blood pressure.
Be Present – Reduce the number of things you are thinking about and focus on one sense, like, taste, touch, hearing, smell, or sight. Listen to nature or watch a pretty view. Bring yourself to the now.
Reach out to people – Reach out to your family or friends, do this face to face, not online. Talk to them about what you are dealing with and invite a new perspective that may help you find solace.
Tune into your body – Find a place to lay down flat on your back and start with your toes and go up, taking a moment to see how each body part feels.
Decompress – Take a warm bath, lay on a heating pad, place a warm wash cloth on your face, or massage an area that is holding tension.
Laugh out Loud – Think of something funny, listen to a comedian you like, but the act of smiling and laughing triggers the release of endorphins that helps suppress the release of cortisol.
Listen to music – Listening to your favorite up-beat music and even singing along with it can do wonders in relieving your stress.
Get moving – Exercise and activity can help release chemicals that help provide positive energy and emotions.
Be grateful – Create a journal that you write in daily that documents what you did for yourself, work, family, and community. Even if it is what you might consider a minor thing it triggers a positive emotional response in the brain.
Highly effective people lead stressful lives but have understand that stress doesn’t have to be contained in the body, but released in a way that can lead to a positive lifestyle. It’s the harboring of stress in the body that does damage to it and can lead to more pain.
Recent study finds using drugs for back pain provide little benefit
Using drugs for back pain, such as ibuprofen (Advil) are commonly used to cope with back pain, but research from The George Institute for Global Health found they offer little benefit but cause side effects. Researchers found that in 35 trials testing painkillers and back pain, only 1 in 6 reported significant benefit!
“Back pain is the leading cause of disability worldwide and is commonly managed by prescribing medicines such as anti-inflammatories,” said lead author Manuela Ferreira. “But our results show anti-inflammatory drugs actually only provide very limited short term pain relief. They do reduce the level of pain, but only very slightly, and arguably not of any clinical significance.”
Many people also can experience significant side effects such as liver damage and gastro-intestinal bleeding that can negate any of the potential benefits the medication might have.
Last year, a study conducted at the University of North Texas Health Science Center found manipulative therapies reduced pain and improved function in patients suffering from chronic low back pain.
The prone press up stretch focuses primarily on the spine itself. Often when people sit with poor posture the back becomes rounded increasing spinal pressure and putting pressure on the disc. If you have a bulge or herniation in this disc it can increase pressure on the nerves resulting in back and lower extremity pain. By performing the prone press up stretch you counteract this spinal position. People that have been diagnosed with spinal stenosis or spondylolisthesis, should consult with a medical provider before performing these exercises.
Prone Press Up Stretch
-Begin stretch by laying face down on a flat surface
-Place hands/elbows on surface at shoulder height with elbows away from body
-Slowly raise your shoulders by pressing your hands/elbows into the surface. Make sure to keep your hips and legs on the surface.
-Raise to a height that is comfortable
-Hold for 10 seconds and perform 10 times
When should I perform the prone press up stretch?
Perform this stretch when you have been in forward posture for long periods of time. This includes sitting, working bent over, or exercising in a bent over position.
When should you not perform the prone press up stretch?
People with existing spinal conditions such as a fusion, stenosis, or spondylolisthesis should consult with their doctor before performing this stretch. Also if you experience increased pain while performing or prolonged pain after stretch.