By Dr. Peter Bufano, DC
World Spine Day takes place on Tuesday, October 16, 2018. This year’s theme is “Love Your Spine,” which will highlight spinal disorders and effective management. Prevention is key so this campaign is about encouraging people to take steps to be kind to their spines.
Spinal conditions are far more common than you think. Every year, one half of all working Americans admit to having symptoms of back pain, and back complaints make up 2-5 percent of all doctor’s visits in the United States. For many people, back and spinal pain can interfere with their day-to-day lives and, in some cases, cause stress and depression. We’ve compiled four ways you can love your own spine and restore your spinal health.
Exercising more could relieve some of the symptoms associated with back and spine pain, such as inflammation and muscle tension, depending on the severity of your condition. It’s all about taking things slow — joining a gym and lifting heavy weights is a big no-no and will likely result in more spine issues.
If your doctor has recommended that you exercise for back pain, start slowly. Avoid any exercises that could worsen your condition, such as leg lifts and sit-ups. Try bringing your knees up to your chest area and slowly lowering them. Repeat this exercise three or four times at first, then increase the frequency over time.
Alternatively, try shoulder blade squeezes, which can strengthen your upper back and spine. Sit on a stool or armless chair, slowly pull your shoulder blades together and hold this position for a few seconds. You can repeat this exercise twice a day.
If you suffer from lower back pain and have permission from your doctor, try to incorporate some kind of exercise into your daily routine, even if it’s difficult at the start. Swimming may be a great option as it puts almost no impact on your spine and joints. This is something the chiropractic team here often recommends to our patients.
“Low back pain can interfere with daily activities,” says Healthline. But research has shown that strengthening exercises may reduce pain and increase function.”
The exercises above can also contribute to your general well-being. When you work out, your body releases feel-good chemicals called endorphins.
Incorporate Stretching into Your Daily Routine
Stretching on a regular basis can promote spine and back pain relief and improve well-being. I will often incorporate stretching into my rehabilitative treatments as it can strengthen the tendons, ligaments, and muscles that support the back and spine.
“Stretching is a valuable component of a treatment plan for anyone plagued by back problems,” says Harvard Medical School. “Supple, well-stretched muscles are less prone to injury, while less flexible muscles and connective tissues restrict joint mobility, which increases the likelihood of sprains and strains.”
If you suffer from back or spine pain, always consult a doctor before you perform any stretches — you don’t want to make the problem worse. If a doctor has recommended stretching to relieve your pain, always wear comfortable clothing and don’t place too much strain on your body.
Oh, and don’t forget to breathe properly. “It may sound silly, but it will help with any feelings of discomfort,” says Prevention.com.
Maintain Good Posture
Maintaining a good posture at all times is essential if you suffer from spine and back pain and want to improve your well-being. Slouching, for example, can often intensify your symptoms and cause further damage. Slouching can cause poor circulation by restricting blood and oxygen flood to the lungs, which can impact your breathing by making it deeper and faster. It can also cause sore muscles, headaches and depression. It might be difficult at first, but changing the way you stand and sit throughout the day could improve your condition.
You will want to keep your body in alignment and not place too much strain on your back. You can do this by relaxing your shoulders and keeping your feet hip-distance apart. Try and balance your weight evenly on both feet, too. Our best trick for getting your spine to straighten more is to think of an imaginary string pulling you up from your neck and keeping your head up.
“Correct posture helps us keep bones and joints in correct alignment so that our muscles are used correctly, decreasing the abnormal wearing of joint surfaces that could result in degenerative arthritis and joint pain,” says the American Chiropractic Association. “[It] reduces the stress on the ligaments holding the spinal joints together, minimizing the likelihood of injury.”
If you work in an office environment or in front of a computer, you will probably spend the majority of your day sitting down. To reduce the pain associated with a back or spinal condition, support your lower back with a cushion and rest your feet on the floor. Make sure you position your computer screen at eye-level, too. This can also reduce neck pain.
Work with a Rehabilitation Expert
Working closely with a rehabilitation expert — such as a professional chiropractor — could be extremely beneficial if you want to improve your spinal health and well-being. The team here at NJ Spine and Wellness, specializes in chiropractic care in the New Jersey area, treats a wide range of back and spine problems and offers non-surgical orthopedic care, regenerative therapy, pain relief and more.
One of the biggest benefits to working with a professional is that he or she will get to know you, your health history and your personal goals. Your chiropractor will create an individualized treatment plan that is specific to your needs.
Research shows that rehabilitative treatment is less risky and just as successful as surgery for lower back pain. In one study, 169 men and women with lower back pain agreed to have surgery, but only half of them received this treatment right away. (The other half received physical therapy.) The results were surprising — people in both groups experienced less pain in as little as 10 weeks, and their lower back pain continued to improve over the next four months.
“Two years later, there was no difference in pain or physical function between the surgery and physical therapy groups,” says Howard LeWine, M.D., chief medical editor at Harvard Health Publishing.
Working with a rehabilitation expert might also be a successful alternative to medication when it comes to reducing back and spine pain as medication typically only provides temporary relief.
Unfortunately, years ago, many people had unnecessary surgeries or took medication because they didn’t know that chiropractic care could deliver the same results. Today, research continues to support chiropractic care as your best option for pain relief and getting your life back.
At NJ Spine and Wellness, we always encourage our patients to use chiropractic care and physical therapy as an alternative to pain medication or surgery. While it does take time and effort, it will help you to get better for the long term. Talk to your doctor about your options and seek a treatment that’s best for you.
#LoveYourSpine by Taking Steps to Get Better, Faster
Do you suffer from spine and back pain? Are you looking for a treatment that can resolve the issue? Show some love for your spine and contact NJ Spine and Wellness today. You can make an appointment with one of our specialists by calling 877-333-6579 or sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We are here and ready to help you get better, faster.
Dr. Peter Bufano is the Director of Rehabilitation / Co-Founder of NJ Spine and Wellness. Learn more about him here.