Posts for tag: Back Pain
Lifting boxes, pushing brooms, reaching for files, carrying supplies -- is it any wonder that so many people suffer from job-related low back pain? No matter what your occupation, back pain can make your life miserable at any time. But how big is the problem?
To answer that question, researchers analyzed claim data from three major sources: the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries; the Bureau of Labor Statistics; and a national workers' compensation provider, over a period of 4-9 years. Results indicated that low-back pain claim rates decreased by 34% from 1987-1995, and claim payments declined by 58% over the same time period. But the problem isn't going away, either. Just look at these numbers:
- $8.8 billion was spent on low-back pain workers' compensation claims in 1995.
- Nearly two out of every 100 privately insured workers filed a low-back pain claim in 1995.
- Payments for these claims accounted for almost a fourth (23%) of the total workers' compensation payments in 1995.
So if you think you can avoid low back pain at the workplace, just look at these numbers, and think again. Better yet, help continue the decline in low back pain cases by getting regular adjustments from your doctor of chiropractic.
Reference: Murphy P, Volinn E. Is occupational low back pain on the rise? Spine, April 1, 1999: Vol. 24, No. 7, pp691-697.
How to Avoid Injury and Pain
What are the high-risk times and events for your lower back? Why can you get into more trouble doing something as simple as picking up a loaf of bread from the trunk of the car, rather than doing something more challenging? What simple steps can you take to avoid injury and pain? Let's get the answers to these questions and more.
Two Critical Moments
When it comes to your lower back and injury risk, there are two critical times when you need to be especially careful. One is first thing in the morning. Your back is actually swollen at that time. You are substantially taller, and the discs have extra fluid in them. A careless forward bend or twist first thing in the morning can do substantial damage to your discs or other back structures. It doesn't seem fair that such a simple thing, bending and twisting, something you have done thousands of times before, can suddenly cause big problems.
The other critical time is after you have been sitting. Long car drives or airplane trips are especially challenging. In this case, the culprit is something called "creep." This means that your ligaments and tendons lengthen into the position that you have been in. Think of sitting as a bent-forward position, as your legs are forward. The ligaments and tendons do not provide protection properly when they have been lengthened by creep. When you first get up from sitting, you are at risk. The longer you have been sitting, the higher the risk. If you sit more upright, with good lumbar support, you will have somewhat less risk.
Scenario #1: You didn't sleep well last night, perhaps from sleeping in an unfamiliar bed after travel, after sitting too long. You get up, feel stiff, but ignore it. You sit down in a soft chair to enjoy your morning hot drink. You get up and get a sudden sharp stab in the back.
Scenario #2: You get up from sleeping, and sit at your laptop, and get entranced by a video or article. You end up sitting far longer than you planned. You get up, and can't completely straighten up.
Scenario #3: You get up from sleeping, drink your morning coffee, which wakes up your gut, and you go to bathroom to empty your bowel. You are a bit constipated, and have to strain. When you get up from the toilet, your back spasms.
Overnight sleeping, even a good sleep on your favorite bed, leaves your back somewhat swollen. Swollen may be an exaggeration, but the reality is that there is extra fluid in all of your joints.
If you have a good back, none of this matters. If you have a vulnerable back, it all matters. Ideally, when you get up, you should do some kind of activity that warms up and "wrings out" the excessive fluids. A short walk, some simple movements, can make a real difference. Sitting down at the computer, sitting on the toilet, etc., can get you in trouble.
So, who has a good back versus a bad back? Unfortunately, most of us have bad backs, at least in the sense that they can be subject to injury and pain at any time. In fact, studies suggest that as many as eight in 10 people experience low back pain during their lifetime. That's a lot of back pain already happening or waiting to happen. And as you can tell from the above discussion, some of the scenarios whereby people experience back pain are all too common.
How to Avoid Injury and Pain
Don't bend over immediately after sitting. Sitting, even in good posture, puts you at risk. The longer you sit and the worse the seat, the more at risk you are. Airlines are very risky; it's hard to get up and move around because of the tight quarters, and the minute the plane stops, you bend over and get stuff from under the seat, or reach up, and twist and lift to get your bag from the overhead compartment. After a long sit, give yourself at least a few seconds of backward bending and/or moving around to reset your spine. Then you can carefully, using your hips rather than your back, bend over to pick up something.
When you sit, don't slump. Slumping reinforces the risks, makes it more likely for something bad to happen to your discs or joints or muscles. So, sit up straight, and keep your back in neutral. Neutral means that you keep a bit of a lordosis in your lower back, keep the lumbar spine from slumping forward, stay more upright. This simple action can make a huge difference. Like any habit, this will require you to "Just Do It" for a few weeks.
Talk to your doctor about these and other high-risk moments for your lower back and what you can do to relieve low back pain or avoid the pain altogether. And make sure to review "Self-Care for Back Pain" in the May 2010 issue, which provides information on exercises your doctor may prescribe if you are experiencing back pain.
Marc Heller, DC, maintains a chiropractic practice in Ashland, Ore. He is a nationally recognized expert in treating tailbone, sacroiliac and lower back pain.
When you're suffering low back pain, shoulder pain or any number of similar musculoskeletal conditions, who gets the call: your medical doctor or your doctor of chiropractic? Your choice of health care provider in those situations could make a big difference, and research is continuing to prove it. According to the latest study, chiropractic care is at least as effective as medical care for certain musculoskeletal conditions, while reducing health care costs and leaving patients more satisfied with the results.
The authors of the study, published in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics (JMPT), went so far as to state that for certain musculoskeletal conditions, visiting an MD first instead of a DC may actually be a mistake:
"The findings of this study support first-contact care provided by DCs as an alternative to first-contact care provided by MDs for a select number of musculoskeletal conditions. Restrictive models of care in which patients are required to contact a medical provider before consulting a chiropractic provider may be counterproductive for patients experiencing the musculoskeletal conditions investigated and possibly others."
The study sample included 403 patients who saw medical doctors and 316 patients who saw doctors of chiropractic as the initial health care providers for their spinal, hip or shoulder pain complaint. Four months following care, all patients completed a questionnaire that evaluated pain on that day and four months earlier (11-point scale); satisfaction with care received and the results of that care (5-point scale from "very satisfied" to "very unsatisfied"); and other variables. The researchers evaluated related costs of care by reviewing an insurance claims database.
"Patients initially consulting MDs had significantly less reduction in their numerical pain rating score and were significantly less likely to be satisfied with the care received and the outcome of care." What's more average per-patient costs over the four-month period were significantly lower in patients who initially consulted DCs ($368 difference compared to MD care).
JMPT Editor-in-Chief Claire Johnson, DC, MEd, emphasized the importance of the latest findings: "Comparative studies – in other words, research that compares the outcomes between two different providers or modalities – are rare for chiropractic care," she said. "Thus, this study ... is especially important if payers and policy-makers are to better understand the ‘triple aim' as it relates to chiropractic. Specifically, this study helps us better understand what type of care provides better patient satisfaction, is more cost effective, and improves population health."
The answer, suggests an increasing body of research, is chiropractic care.
High blood pressure can be life-threatening, pure and simple. In fact, high BP (known clinically as hypertension) is a risk factor for heart disease and stroke – two of the major causes of death. Aerobic exercise, a healthy diet and not smoking are three natural ways to lower your risk of high blood pressure, but unfortunately, too many people with high BP turn to medication instead.
What about chiropractic care? A recent study serves as the latest evidence that chiropractic adjustments may improve blood pressure in the short term, finding that specific instrument-assisted adjustments to the thoracic spine positively affected blood pressure, pulse rate and classification of high blood pressure compared to placebo manipulation or no intervention.
Researchers randomly assigned 290 adults with and without hypertension to one of three groups for comparison: an active group, a placebo group and a control group. The active group received instrument-assisted manipulation to T1-T5, while the placebo group received the identical manipulative procedure, except the adjusting instrument was set not to deliver any force. The control group received no intervention (manipulation) whatsoever. Both patients and clinicians were blinded as to whether they were receiving / delivering active or placebo adjustments.
The primary finding following instrument-assisted manipulation to T1-T5 was a reduction in blood pressure (both systolic and diastolic BP) of approximately 7 percent compared to baseline measurements. Neither of the other subject groups achieved this reduction. Active intervention also improved blood pressure classification in many cases. (All subjects were classified at baseline as normotensive, prehypertensive, stage 1 hypertensive or stage 2 hypertensive.) The study authors described the impact of active intervention on these classifications as follows:
"Systolic and diastolic BP, pulse rate, and BP classification decreased significantly only in the active treatment group. No significant changes occurred in the placebo treatment and control groups. ... By category, 46% of [active treatment] subjects improved in early hypertensive or prehypertensive classification – about 4 times more than placebo and 2.65 times better than the controls. Similarly, 51% of Stage I and 57% of Stage II hypertensive patients improved, also better than placebo and control subjects."
Back pain, neck pain, headaches - chiropractic care has been proven effective for a variety of musculoskeletal conditions. But the story goes much deeper than that, and research continues to reveal it. So try chiropractic: It's good for your heart.
Doctors of chiropractic are known for treating low back pain – and preventing its recurrence – and recent research emphasizes the science underlying their effectiveness. A recent study suggests chiropractic care (spinal manipulation) can reduce LBP, but it also suggests chiropractic can increase spinal disc height.
Why is that important? Well, loss of intervertebral disc height is one of the traits of low back pain. Discs are the ligaments between the bony vertebrae that act as shock absorbers for the spine. As we get older, our discs have a tendency to get smaller, which can lead to all kinds of problems, including pain. Fortunately, as this study suggests, chiropractic can help.
That's good to know no matter your age and the condition of your spine. Talk to your doctor of chiropractic for more information. A healthy spine means a healthy you!