Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Prevent & stop back pain without surgery....

Today's Post: Tuesday, 6-8-2010

Today, AP ran a story titled:

“Overtreated: Surgery too often fails for back pain”

1. The bottom line is that you can prevent a large percentage of back pain.

Then if you do get it, it will occur less often and be less severe.

Almost all of those things are simple and some are even easy to do.

One upscale and state of the art medical group that specialized in preventive exercises found that their exercises alone restored about 95% of people including their professional athletes who were their patients to pain free lives and activities.

2. Then if you still have back pain and it has lasted more than 6 weeks, there is a new way to treat it that works for many people and that does NOT use surgery.

3. The result of following these steps is that far less than 1% of people with chronic back pain will be left over to even need to consider trying back surgery.

And, at that point, a recent story listed research showing that the more targeted and less invasive surgeries have a better track record than the more extensive and invasive surgeries for most people.

This post covers the first two steps which may well be all most people need or will need barring severe injury. (Quick note, ALWAYS wear your seat belt in your car and you’ll slash your chances of such severe back injuries.)

1. Here are several of the ways to prevent back pain.

a) One physical therapist accidentally discovered that you can often un-kink your back from minor strains by leaning back with your back straight and by moving your hips forward slightly.

Curling forward as many people do and used to do, he realized, INCREASES the pressure on your discs and nerves. Leaning back in this way, often opens the space your discs have and relieves the pressure in many cases.

b) Another innovative practitioner in back care and back pain prevention found that for similar reasons allowing your butt to curl back slightly when you stand up, something she calls “ducky butt” is a more natural posture and one that removes the stresses off your discs and nerves.

This is likely because, although our ancestors have been standing for hundreds of thousands of years, their ancestors came from a more four footed group that initially did not. So leaving that curve in place a bit closer to the curve that would be there if you were on all fours fits the natural geometry of your spine better.

c) Do regular exercise every week.

The muscles supporting your spine in your back will be stronger and so will those in your belly area that the Pilates people call your “core.”

Walking works. So does most kinds of interval cardio. Carefully done strength training for your back muscles works. Doing regular exercise for your abdominal muscles works.

In addition to supporting your back, exercising conditions you to not panic if you feel minor strains. Regular exercise also boosts your endorphins that directly reduce your perception of pain enough that you never even notice minor discomforts and feel far less pain even if you do strain your muscles.

In addition, there also are targeted back rehab exercises that work but which I do not know personally to share with you here.

One upscale and state of the art medical group that specialized in preventive exercises found that their exercises alone restored about 95% of people including their professional athletes who were their patients to pain free lives and activities.

(This group was originally called SOAR, Sports, Orthopedic, AND Rehabilitative , I think that stood for, and was located in Portola Valley, California. They still exist but under a new name and in a new location somewhere on the San Francisco Peninsula.)

The AP article today also listed such a group: “Exercise is medicine, but it has to be the right exercise," said Dave Carpenter, president of Physicians Neck & Back Clinics in Minneapolis.” A man who was one of their success stories for the exercises they helped him learn and do was featured in the AP article.

“The clinic's rehabilitation program focuses on strengthening muscles that support the spine, and published a study showing that only three of 38 patients prescribed surgery still needed it in the 13 months after completing tailored rehab.”

d) Losing excess fat works. The strains on your back are far less with less weight inside your body for your back to deal with. Your discs have far less pressure on them if you aren’t tens of pounds of fat over what you should be.

Getting several kinds of regular exercise also helps with this. Doing this enables you to lose excess fat with far less extra hunger or even none and burn more calories. Exercise also has been shown to be a key way to keep excess fat off once you lose it. This effect is in part because exercising helps you to ONLY lose fat when you lose weight.

Deleting soft drinks and junky and high carbohydrate foods such as packaged snacks and treats completely helps many lose a LOT of weight. So does cutting back heavily on sugar intake. So does virtually eliminating refined grain foods. So does refusing to eat any foods with high omega 6 oils or hydrogenated oils. Corn oil and other high omega 6 oils increase inflammation and are high in calories while partially hydrogenated vegetable oils also cause heart disease by directly increasing the small particle LDL that acts like glue on the surface of your arteries and are also high in calories. These foods and semifoods make you fat and sick. Eat and drink little of them or, even better, none!

Eating more nonstarchy vegetables and health OK protein foods also helps. Including some health OK fats and oils and fresh fruit helps. By learning which of these foods you are OK to eat and those you like and learning to use spices and health OK fats well, you can create enjoyable food. As Michael Pollan writes, ethnic and traditional cuisines all over the world have done just that.

Having a way you find doable to cut some calories out of your normal food intake on top of that also helps. But to make these methods doable and sustainable, each of them needs to be very small. That also helps avoid triggering your famine response that causes your body to STOP your fat loss.

Lastly, some people are taking prescription drugs that keep them fat while others have hormonal or thyroid problems. Once these are identified, most people who have these “stopper” problems will be able to eliminate them

The good news is that each of these steps are doable and doing them all IS effective in causing the loss of excess weight as fat and keeping it off.

e) Taking those supplements that lower inflammation and have other health benefits also reduces back pain and perceived back pain. Doing so certainly helps speed recovery when you do overstrain your back.

Eating wild caught fish high in omega 3 oils and taking purified fish oil, omega 3, supplements lowers inflammation and heart attack causing high triglyceride levels.

Taking curcumin supplements and/or eating curries that get their yellow color from the turmeric that contains the curcumin, lowers or prevents excessive inflammation, and also looks to help prevent Alzheimer’s disease and many cancers.

f) Taking supplements that keep your joints healthy and the cartilage in them intact and healthy is a bit more controversial since the evidence that they work is a bit more mixed.

But to the extent they work, they likely work on the joints in your spine also.

Glucosamine, possibly chondroitin, MSM, hyaluronic acid and shea nut extract all either reduce pain and inflammation or keep the cartilage in your intact and healthy or both.

2. Before you do more than the steps above, the first thing to do before you decide to throw significant amounts of money at the problem is to give your body a fair chance to heal the damage for you. How long is that? At least 6 weeks unless you experience symptoms “such as numb or weak legs or urinary problems.” Those may require more rapid surgical attention.

The AP article today had this: “Most people will experience back pain at some point, but up to 90 percent will heal on their own within weeks. In fact, for run-of-the-mill cases, doctors aren't even supposed to do an X-ray or MRI unless the pain lingers for a month to six weeks.“ And the percentage is higher at 6 weeks than it is at a month. So unless the pain is severe, most people would do well to wait the extra two weeks – until the problem has failed to clear on its own in 6 weeks. They even point out in the AP article that even most herniated discs will heal on their own in two years.

But if the pain is too bad to wait two years and it has been that bad for 6 weeks, there is now an alternative to back surgery that works for some people. It does cost money. It isn’t perfect. It doesn’t work for everyone. But it provides 100 % relief for many people and does NOT require surgery.

This is the new back decompression therapy that gently opens the spaces occupied by your discs at specific places in your spine.

It is beginning to be available in most major urban areas in the United States.

3. Lastly, for the very few who still need help after all these steps, particularly the targeted rehab exercises and the back decompression therapy, spinal surgery can be tried. But very few people will need to try it. And since it is very expensive and often produces no benefit and does carry a risk of complications, that’s a good thing!

Then if you do need it, at least initially use one of the targeted and less invasive surgeries that relieve the pressure at the specific point that is needed rather than more aggressive and dangerous kinds. A recent study found this was cheaper and safer and usually worked as well or better.

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Anonymous Medical Transcription Company said...

Thank you for sharing such nice help full post, must follow you 6 weeks idea. Thanks

9:36 PM  

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