Back Pain

Why Resting Isn’t Always the Answer for Back Pain

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Often times when tweaking your back, or feeling discomfort you may often think ice, and laying down for awhile is what is best. However, while resting for a short period may help, long periods of rest can cause increased weakness in your back, causing further weakness, and pain in your back. According to a special health report from Harvard Medical School. Resting for prolonged periods doesn’t only affect your back negatively, but can also “lead to digestive issues such as constipation, and an increased risk of developing bloods clots in your pelvis, and legs.” Bed rest can also negatively effect your mental state, and put you at a higher risk for depression. So the question comes, when experiencing back pain what should you do instead? 
The first thing is to evaluate what caused your back pain in the first place, was it a specific activity you were doing? Is your mattress not supportive? Or maybe the shoes you have aren’t supportive? Whatever it may be, see if you can make little changes that are causing the pain. 
Another important thing to do is make sure you are stretching, not only does stretching increase flexibility, and blood flow, but it also increases strength. We have many different resources for at home stretches, to relieve back pain. Stretching in turn can condition your muscles for the future, when further strains may be put upon it. 
If none of these help then it may be time to see your local chiropractor. At the Center for Total Back Care, our experts can put together a specialized program, and treatment plan to get you back to feeling yourself. With a preventative approach The Center for Total Back Care not only will get to feeling back to normal, but will also focus on helping strengthen your back to prevent future pain. When trying to find a Chiropractor in Mesa, call us today!

Osteoporosis and Yoga

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Yoga can be a great back pain management program for many people. There are some conditions that should be cautious when approaching yoga

Credit: Healthline

People diagnosed with osteoporosis and osteopenia should probably avoid certain yoga poses. Osteoporosis is characterized with a person with low bone density. Performing Yoga poses that require extreme flexion or extension can result in stress fractures in the spine.

Good exercises for people diagnosed with osteoporosis would be low impact strength based training. Avoid high impact exercises and ones that push extreme ranges of motion. Consult with a medical provider before starting any exercise program.

Get a good nights sleep to reduce back pain

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Studies have shown that lack of sleep can contribute to increasing our perception of pain. So how do you get a good nights sleep to reduce back pain?

Those of you with back pain are saying, how do I get a good nights sleep when my back is killing me? It can be tough to achieve but here are some tips to help you get a better nights sleep.

  • Check your mattress and pillow – If you have a mattress that is over 10 years old, it’s time for a change. Pillows should be replaced about every 1-2 years.
  • Sleep cool – Your body stays in deeper sleep longer with the proper room temperature. It is recommended your sleeping temperature be between 60-67 degrees.
  • Watch what and when you eat and drink – Avoid foods that may trigger heartburn before you go to bed. Foods that are high in sugar can also create a restless night sleep. If you are hungry, eat a handful of nuts, fruits like berries and bananas. With drink, avoid caffeine and alcohol, try non-caffeinated tea or warm milk. Have water by your bed, but try not to drink too much, or you may need to get up throughout the night to got to bath room.
  • Sleep in the right position – Avoid sleeping on your stomach and try to sleep on you back or side. For back sleepers with back pain, try a pillow under your knees to take some of the stress off your back. For side lying position, try a body pillow to help keep your spine alignment.
  • Avoid exercise before bed time – Exercise amps up your body making it harder to go to sleep. Try not to workout 3 hours prior to bedtime.
  • Turn off your electronics – Light from your phones, computers and televisions can keep your brain from preparing for sleep. Put the phone down and on silent and disconnect from other electronics in order to get a good nights sleep.
  • Give yourself the time for sleep – Plan for 8 hours of sleep. Go to bed early enough to allow yourself to get enough sleep. As we get older, the more likely we get up earlier and earlier, regardless of work or life schedule.

These are some things that you can do to help you get a better night sleep when you have back pain. Consult with your physician if your back pain is not letting you get a good nights sleep.

Things that are making your low back pain worse

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Making your low back pain worseLower back pain can be uncomfortable and difficult to manage, and some common coping strategies and issues could actually be making your low back pain worse.

Here are some things that could be making your low back pain worse.

  1. You lift things incorrectly –  It doesn’t take lifting a heavy object to increase back pain.  Most of the time it is how you lift an object.  Keeping you back straight, bending at the knees, using you legs, avoiding twisting motions, and keeping the weight close are good ways to avoid low back pain
  2. Your bed isn’t supportive enough – Mattresses should be changed about every 10 years and pillows about every year.  Many people experience a great benefit in reducing low back pain by just changing their mattress.
  3. You sit for long periods of time – Many jobs require working behind a desk, which results in long periods of time sitting.  But sitting actually increases pressure in the spine by up to 25% versus standing.  Also long sitting postures creates tightness in your muscles from “static” contraction.  The best way to address this is to get up and walk around for a few minutes every hour.
  4. Your not moving enough – Movement helps keep you healthy.  We see more people that are sitting or not moving enough throughout the day, than someone that works in a job that requires them to be constantly moving or people that make a focused effort to exercise throughout the day.
  5. You underestimate the value of medical treatment – Chiropractors and physical therapists are experts at addressing low back pain.  Addressing back pain immediately when you experience it is better than waiting and seeing if it will get better.   People with low back pain often wait and see if it will get better over time, but in many cases this just leads to a longer recovery time.

While addressing these things may not eliminate you have a low back pain experience, they can definitely impact the severity and period of time you are experiencing low back pain.

5 tips to set up a proper computer workstation

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Computer workstation

Did you know that seated postures increase pressure in the spine by 50% versus standing?  This can be compounded by a slouching posture and can lead to computer workstation back pain.  Here are 5 tips to make sure that your computer workstation is set up properly:

  1. Have the right chair – The proper chair is the most important thing to providing proper postural support.  A good chair has good adjustable lumbar support, adjustable armrests and seat height adjustment. When seated your thighs should be parallel to the floor with your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Set the right keyboard and mouse height – Arms should be 90 degrees at the elbow with upper arms at the side of body.
  3. Set the right monitor height – With uncorrected or standard corrected vision the monitor height should be set so when you look straight ahead you are looking 2 inches below the top of the monitor.  If you wear bifocals, position the monitor so you are looking directly at the top of the monitor.
  4. Use a telephone headset if you are on the phone 20% of the day or more –  Most people multitask when on the telephone over 20% of the workday.  This encourages people to pinch the telephone handset between head and shoulders, leading to back and neck pain.
  5. Take frequent stretch breaks – When you are sitting at a workstation your neck, shoulders, chest and forearm muscles tighten, reducing blood flow.  This leads to potential strain/sprain injuries.  It is recommended that you take a short 2 minute stretch break every 30 minutes.

If you want to know more, or have questions contact Dr. Jolley 480-633-8293.


Is your bed causing your back pain?

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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

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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

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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?

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“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.

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