Steroid Shots Are A Pretty Common Back Pain Treatment

This is something to watch out for anytime someone gets an epidural for spinal pain. Steroid injections are generally reserved for the most severe cases of back pain. A person could either be in the limbo state of not being a “good surgical candidate” or, they may actually have a surgery scheduled, but are in so much pain that they cannot wait for the procedure.

In general, epidurals work well. At least that’s what my patients tell me. It’s a procedure that is very targeted and is sometimes painful right afterwards. However, if the doc has got the needle in the right spot.

Even if you do have an epidural injection that does take the pain away for a period of time, you will still need to change your life style. A regular brisk walking program will actually relieve some of the pressure on the spinal nerves because trunk rotation shifts the spinal stresses to alternating sides and this has been shown to reduce spinal stress.

Take a look at this…
 

 

CHICAGO — Millions of people get steroid shots in their backs to relieve pain. Now they are probably wondering if it’s safe.

In 23 states, hundreds, possibly thousands, of back-pain patients are being warned to watch for symptoms of meningitis because of a custom-mixed steroid solution that may have been contaminated with fungus. Five people have died and more than 40 others have fallen ill.

Doctors who do these injections say they are extremely safe when done correctly with sterile drugs. And many doctors stick to medications approved by the Food and Drug Administration instead of relying on generally less-regulated “compounding pharmacies” like the Massachusetts company implicated in the outbreak.

“If I was a patient, I would definitely be concerned,” said Dr. Michael Schafer, an orthopedic specialist at Chicago’s Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

Is Sitting Too Much Killing You?

FINL RYD © by dprevite

So, how much sitting did you do today? Did you get any physical activity in? (Did you notice that I didn’t say “exercise”?).

I’m sure you know that one of the main themes of this blog is to teach and encourage you to find ways to use exercise and physical activity to manage and even cure your back pain.

But, I’m asking that first question because I recently read something that I thought was pretty startling. I read that “sitting too much can be deadlier than smoking”.  True story.

Apparently a study in the British medical journal called the Lancet estimated that in 2008 approximately 5.3 million people actually died due to inactivity. Now let me be clear. All these people weren’t found slumped over in their recliners with the TV remote in their hands…

But, what the study did conclude was that chronic disease conditions like Diabetes and Heart Disease that were responsible for the deaths are better controlled in people that are physically active.

Just how many people are putting their health in jeopardy because they don’t get enough exercise?

A separate Lancet study estimated that around the world, as many as 1 in 3 adults and 4 out of 5 teens between the ages of 13 and 15 are not getting recommended amounts of physical activity. For an adult, that’s 150 minutes of moderate activity, like brisk walking, a week. For teens, it’s an hour of moderate activity each day.

Those numbers are even higher in the U.S. The study found that roughly 41% of adults in America don’t get enough physical activity.

To be honest, the study looked mainly at the effect of lack of activity on chronic diseases. But, there are a couple of things that people suffering from back pain should also get out of this study.

Number one, many people that suffer from back pain also have things like high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, etc. So, there’s added incentive to get out and get moving.

No sense in having out of control blood pressure or blood sugar AND back pain, right?

The second point is that other studies have found that most cases of back pain usually resolve best when people stay active rather than “resting” and avoiding any activity.

Exercise may be the most effective way to speed recovery from low back pain … A routine of back-healthy activities may include stretching exercises, swimming, walking, and movement therapy to improve coordination and develop proper posture and muscle balance… But if pain is more than mild and lasts more than 15 minutes during exercise, patients should stop exercising and contact a doctor. (read more)

One of the biggest challenges for anyone with back pain is to find out what type of physical activity is safe to do.

The only way for you to find out is to explore what your body tells you. Whether it’s stretching, walking, or simply breathing exercises, if you’re listening to your body, you know what’s good and what isn’t.

My main point is to say  “It’s alright for you to get up and start moving”. Sitting down for long periods probably isn’t the best thing for anyone.

Give yourself permission to take control of your health in general. And the health of your back specifically.

 

 

3 Super Simple Remedies That You May Not Know About

 

Super Simple Natural Remedies For Your Back Pain

If you’re dealing with back pain there are more than a few natural ways you may find some relief. This blog post will address 3 of them.

  • Getting plenty of sleep
  • Drinking plenty of clean water
  • Increasing blood circulation by gentle exercising.

While it may sound pretty much like common sense, getting enough sleep when you have back pain can be a real challange. There are probably plenty of reasons for this including not being able to find a comfortable sleeping position.

But, whatever the reason is, making it a point to get the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep each night is extremely important. And, it’s even better for you if you try to go to bed earlier in the evening rather than later.

What Sleep Gives You

Not getting enough sleep chemically lowers your threshold (or, tolerance) to pain. This actually will make your perception of pain more acute. Read more here or here

In other words, without enough sleep you’ll feel pain sooner and at a higher intensity than you would if you were actually getting all the sleep your body needs.

You may think that getting more sleep won’t be easy. For some, it may be a little more difficult than for others. But, the bottom line is that it’s not impossible. In fact, if you put these other 2 natural pain remedies into practice, you may find that getting a good nights sleep is a lot easier than you can imagine.

Drink More Water

Another simple and readily available natural remedy for your back pain is drinking enough water. This, like sleep, is another “no-brainer”.  But, just like sleep, getting adequate amounts of water is something that most people over look. Are you one of them?

Most everybody learned back in grade school that “3/4 of the world is covered by water”. I can remember looking at the globe back in 4th or 5th grade. I sort of eyeballed all the blue areas on it and came to a loose understanding of that fact.

Well whether you know it or not, your body is pretty much like planet Earth. It may not be “covered” by water, but, it’s made up of about 70% water.

In many cases, being dehydrated (not having enough water in your system) can be the cause of an increase in pain perception in your body too.

Now, there are a ton of reasons why this may be, but, a major reason is that your muscles need to be hydrated in order to contract and relax that way that they should. Hydrated muscles (muscles with plenty of water) tend to be more flexible. And, flexible muscles tend to have less pain.

Here’s a good story about how one guy got over his back pain by gradually adding more and more water intake into his daily routine.

There are a lot of people who are have aches and pains who think that there’s something seriously wrong with them. But, it’s not the case. Most, if not all, of their aches and pains can be treated and cured by simply adding a little (or a lot) more water to their daily diet.

You can see more info here about some of the symptoms of dehydration. Do any of them look familiar?

You’ve read a little about how not getting enough sleep or water can decrease your pain tolerance and make your muscles feel stiff and painful.

Got 02?

In addition, there’s another basic ingredient that your muscles need and that will help you manage your pain a lot better. It’s all around you but you can’t see it. And, because you can’t see it, it’s frequently forgotten. You’ve heard the old saying “out of sight, out of mind”, haven’t you?

Yep. It’s air. Or, more specifically, oxygen.

Oxygen, like water and sleep, is responsible for more chemical reactions in your body that we could probably mention here on this blog. Your muscles get more of it through blood circulation.

One really important thing that oxygen does in your muscles is neutralization of the lactic acid that builds up in your muscles through muscle contraction.

When people have a lot of pain, there’s a couple of things that go on that keep the muscles in a contracted state. This can cause a build up of a lot of waste products including lactic acid. Having too much of this acid in your muscles will actually make your muscles feel like their stinging or burning.

In many cases, people in pain have one or more muscle spasms. These spasms keep your muscles tight and overworked. This fatigues the muscles and increases chemicals in the muscles that can lead to more pain.

And then, in other cases, while people may not have severe spasms, they may have severe pain. Usually when you’re dealing with this type of situation, you do what physical therapists call “muscle guarding”.

Muscle guarding is where you voluntarily hold yourself in a stiff and rigid posture because you’re afraid that if you move around too much, you’ll have a lot more pain.

Well, if you find yourself in either of the above situations (or, some other one that’s not mentioned), one of the best thing that you can do to get rid of your pain is to get moving and get the blood circulating and get more oxygen into your muscles.

So, what’s the secret to getting more oxygen in all of your muscles?

Exercise. Gentle, non-strenuous, exercise. Emphasis on Gentle.

Most of the time, when you think about exercise, someone like Tony Horton and the P90X workout program comes to mind. But, that’s not what I’m talking about. What we’re talking about is something simple like walking around the block or lying down in your bed and gently stretching.

The only thing that you’re actually trying to do at this point is get the muscles loosened up and the blood circulating.

And something else happens when you’re exercising.  You start to breathe deeper and more fully. The more fully you breathe, the more oxygen you get into your system.

While you may think that this is a no brainer, just pay attention to how often you hold your breath throughout the day. You may surprize yourself.

Well, there you have it. Three super simple natural remedies that can help with your back pain. And, each are pretty much available to anyone at anytime.

There’s one thing to keep in mind when you’re using natural remedies. They’re not a quick fix like taking an aspirin or something like that.

Natural remedies work gradually overtime and generally have an accumulative effect. That means that if you just try them for a day or two, you may not feel a real dramatic effect. You have to stick with them over time.

One way to keep track of your progress is to keep a back pain diary. Keeping a diary will let you look back over time and see how you were feeling when you first started. You will be able to see what worked for you and what didn’t.

Sleep, Water, Oxygen

In summary, these are some simple things that you can do right now if you or someone you know is suffering from back pain. They are completely natural and easy to start. They are pretty much free of charge and available where ever you may find yourself.

The only thing you have to do is get started.

Photo credits:
Sleeping OMG © by CarbonNYC
Thirst © by anaulin
Walking © by o5com

Jason Ferruggia Agrees With Me…

Only he doesn’t know it…

Jason Ferruggia is a well known fitness blogger and the chief training advisor for Men’s Fitness magazine. Go figure…

As I was perusing the blog feeds in my Google Reader inbox I happened across an article written by him titled “How To End Lower Back Pain In 5 Minutes Or Less“. It’s a short article and worth the read.

The gist of the article is that some of us who sit down too much during the day will end up with back pain ( I have written about this very thing here, here, and even here).

He writes:

The good news is you can eliminate lower back pain in just five minutes per day.

The first step is stretching your hip flexors. These are the muscles on the very front of your hips. When you spend a lot of time sitting the hip flexors shorten and start to pull on your lower back. This is a very common cause of pain.

To stretch the hip flexors get down in a lunge position with one leg in front of you and the other extended behind you. Keep your torso upright and sink down and forward into the stretch until you feel it in the target area. Hold the position for 30-60 seconds then switch legs.

This is a good stretch. Some of you may not be able to get into a “lunge” position due to your pain or other problems. But, that’s okay. There are a number of other less stressful ways that you can stretch your hip flexors.

One simple way is to place one foot on a high bench or chair “Captain Morgan” style and lunge forward. Another way is to stand in front of a stair case and place your foot up on the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th, step with it flat on the step. Naturally this will depend on how long your legs are or how much pain you have.

But, Jason is actually right on target with this advice. If your back pain is due to tight hip flexor muscles, this stretch should solve the problem in no time.

BTW, check out Jason’s blog at http://www.renegadenj.com

Super Foods To Lose Weight And Fight Pain

Eating “Super Foods” can help with two things that many people with back pain have in common: relieving pain and losing weight.

You may not have heard of the term “Super Foods” before. But some will sound familiar while others may sound a bit strange like Black Garlic.

The thing that make Super Foods super is that they actually contain a higher concentration of pain relieving chemicals, antioxidants, vitamins, and generally fewer calories than do “not-so-super-foods”.

For anyone with back pain, finding foods that actually may give you some relief is kind of a “no-brainer”.  Thats what you get when you eat food with high concentrations of “Proanthocyanidins”.

Fruits, especially some of the dark berries have high concentrations of this chemical. But, you can also get higher concentrations in supplements like Grape Seed Extract and Pycnogenol.

So, how can you tell what a super food is?

… a superfood has three qualifications: It has to be readily available to the public, it has to contain nutrients that are known to enhance longevity, and its health benefits have to be backed by peer-reviewed, scientific studies.

“These foods were chosen because they contain high concentrations of crucial nutrients, as well as the fact that many of them are low in calories,” the website states. “Foods containing these nutrients have been proven to help prevent and, in some cases, reverse the well-known effects of aging, including cardiovascular disease, Type II Diabetes, hypertension and certain cancers.” – read more.

For a short list of some Super Foods, go here.

One of the last things that most people with back pain want is to take another pill for pain. Supplementing your diet or vitamin regimen with more of these types of super foods may actually give you additional relief and actually help you lose weight too.

For more information on “Super Foods” check out [easyazon-link asin=”1556437765″]this book[/easyazon-link].

Super Foods To Lose Weight And Fight Pain

photo credits “Pomegranate palm © by Ano Lobb. @healthyrx”