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.
You're at your 10-year-old's soccer game and he's just collided with a member of the opposing team while fighting for a ball in the air. Unfortunately, the two hit heads and both leave the field crying, but clearly conscious. It's a youth game on an elementary-school field, so barring the presence of parent who happens to be a doctor, there's no one around to evaluate either child for a possible concussion. What to do? In many cases, both children will return to the game a few minutes later. Big mistake.
Concussions are serious whenever they occur, but unlike professional sports, when children suffer a possible concussion, there's often no one around to evaluate it properly. Here's what you can do to help identify some of the often-subtle signs of a concussion and make the informed decision to get further evaluation from a health care professional.
First, let's start with the most severe case: If a child experiences any of the following symptoms, particularly immediately after a collision or fall in which they struck their head, they need to go to the ER immediately for evaluation, according to KidsHealth.org:
- Loss of consciousness
- Severe headache / headache that worsens
- Blurred vision
- Difficulty walking
- Confusion / not making sense
- Slurred speech
- Unresponsiveness (unable to be awakened)
Of course, many children may not display any of those symptoms following a head impact, but still be at risk for concussion, so it's important to evaluate the child with some a simple battery of initial tests that, if nothing else, will alert you to the fact that the child should a) be removed from the game; and b) seek medical attention. Here are a few of the ways you can get a sense of what may be going on. These and other variables are all part of the Sport Concussion Assessment Tool, which is used by health care professionals to help assess concussion symptoms:
- What month is it?
- What is the date today?
- What is the day of the week?
- What year is it?
- What time is it right now? (within one hour)
You can also ask the child questions specific to the event in which they are participating, such as:
- At what venue (field, tournament, city, etc.) are we at today?
- Which half is it now?
- Who scored last in this game?
- What team did you play last week / game? Did your team win the last game?
Give Them a List
Say a short list of words (example: apple, bubble, elbow, carpet, saddle) to the child and then have them recite the list back to you in any order. Repeat several times and assess how accurately they are able to recall all five words. You can do the same thing with a short list of numbers; or by having them recite the months of the year in reverse order.
The most important variable when it comes to determining whether your child should continue to play, be removed from play and/or be seen by a medical provider in the absence of clear symptoms (loss of consciousness, severe headache, slurred speech, etc.) may be how the child is acting compared to before the contact occurred. You know your child. If they're acting "out of sorts," err on the side of caution.
Keep in mind that the above should not be relied upon in lieu of proper evaluation by a health care provider, but if you suspect a concussion has occurred, these symptoms / signs and tests are an important first option to help determine the next step you should take. Talk to your doctor for additional information about concussions and how you can help keep your child safe on and off the field.
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.
You've probably suspected it for at least the past several years, particularly if you have a preteen or teenage child, but now teens themselves have confirmed it: they're addicted to their mobile devices. According to a survey conducted by nonprofit organization Common Sense Media, one in two (50 percent) of teens say they are addicted to their mobile devices. What's more, nearly eight in 10 (78 percent) of teens check their mobile devices at least every hour, and 72 percent "feel the need to immediately respond to texts, social-networking messages, and other notifications."
And teens aren't the only culprits when it comes to being addicted: According to the survey, "Technology Addiction: Concern, Controversy, and Finding Balance" 27 percent of parents say they're addicted to their mobile devices.
When parents were asked about teen addiction to mobile devices, and vice versa, the numbers were similar: Fifty-nine percent of parents said teens are addicted to mobile devices, while 28 percent of teens said parents are addicted.
If there's any good news, it's that many teens and parents share a concern for doing something about their addictions: According to the survey, approximately one in two parents "very often" or "occasionally" try to spend less time consumed with their mobile devices, while approximately one in three teens do the same.
For more data from this intriguing survey on mobile devices and the teen-parent dynamic in particular.
As an active person, your favorite sport or exercise is an important part of your life. It gives you energy, it challenges you and it makes you come alive. You can't imagine a day without it until the day you get injured. Sports injuries are a natural consequence of the choice of being active. Keeping informed on how to manage an injury is just as important as taking precautions to avoid them.
The Standard Protocol for Managing Injuries
The first line of treatment and the standard protocol for managing acute injuries is a method known as RICE, which stands for Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation.
Rest means reducing physical activity in the injured area, for example, by using a crutch or some other method of taking weight off the injured part of the body. Ice is applied to the area to reduce inflammation to the muscles. Compression refers to compressing the area using any means like an elastic wrap to help reduce swelling, and Elevation refers to raising the area, also to help reduce swelling.
Painkillers Help With Pain, But They Aren't for Everyone
During the course of rehabilitation, doctors sometimes prescribe medication that can relieve pain. Common medications include opioids like morphine and methadone, which, despite their benefits, can lead to addiction and a number of side effects; and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen, aspirin and naproxen. NSAIDs reduce swelling and help patients return to activity more rapidly than with the RICE method alone. The way NSAIDs work in the body, however, can be problematic:
- They are contraindicated for patients with a history of gastrointestinal bleeding and must be used cautiously in those with chronic kidney disease.
- Some patients can't tolerate the adverse effects, which may include stomach upset, vomiting and abdominal pain
- Others may have medication interactions that prohibit use of oral NSAIDs.
Two Scientifically Backed Alternatives to NSAIDs/ Painkillers
1. Precut Kinesiology Tape is an option that uses and supports the body's own natural neurology to deliver drug-free pain relief. These tapes work by lifting the skin to create a small space between the muscle and dermis layers of the skin. That extra space takes the pressure off injured muscles, allows muscle movement, and provides space for drainage and blood flow to muscles and joints, thus reducing swelling; while also soothing overworked muscles and strengthening weak or fatigued muscles.
A recent study conducted at the University of Toronto and published in the Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine found that using precut kinesiology tape was as effective as using NSAIDs for relieving pain and improving function when used alongside physiotherapy for patients with shoulder injuries. In fact, the precut kinesiology tapes were better tolerated than NSAIDs because there weren't any chemical side effects.
Furthermore, using these precut tapes is convenient because one application of a precut tape lasts several days, which means, unlike medication, there won't be any hassle of retaking or reapplying the treatment every few hours. Additionally, because precut kinesiology tapes are designed keeping in mind human anatomy, you can apply them easily yourself after instruction by a health care professional.
Health care practitioners are increasingly using precut kinesiology tapes as a means to standardize patient care and provide drug-free pain relief option to patients. Professional athletes are turning to kinesiology tape, as it provides a DIY knesiology solution for performance enhancement and pain relief.
2. Chiropractic Care: Millions of people visit chiropractors every year for all kinds of sports injuries, including injuries to their back, neck, arms and legs. In the sports setting, chiropractors work by manipulating joints that are restricted due to muscle injuries. They help to improve joint alignment so the body can heal itself without surgery or medication.
Chiropractic care not only restores function; it also helps prevent future injuries, in addition to providing relief from pain. Research shows chiropractic treatment is safe, effective and helpful in treating sports-injury-related pains and is a great alternative to NSAIDs.
Professional athletes use chiropractic treatments as a regular part of their training. In fact, studies have shown that regularly incorporating chiropractic care enhances athletic performance and lowers the amount of subsequent injuries athletes experience.
Tip: Chiropractic care is complemented by the use of precut kinesiology tape. The two treatments are increasingly used together to provide further relief, hasten recovery and enhance performance.
The possibility of getting injured while being active is not a reason to avoid exercising or playing sports. Injuries are part of the deal and professional athletes and active people know this for a fact. You should stay active and have fun, while striving for prevention and keeping informed on all the options available to you for treatment and management of sports-related injuries.
Mehwash Zafar is a content writer. For questions or comments regarding this article, you can contact her via the SpiderTech Inc..
This website includes materials that are protected by copyright, or other proprietary rights. Transmission or reproduction of protected items beyond that allowed by fair use, as defined in the copyright laws, requires the written permission of the copyright owners.