The Changing Face Of Spinal Surgery
Only a small percentage of patients with back pain are candidates for surgery, but for these patients, advances in techniques have made recovery a much easier road, says Boden of The Emory Orthopaedics and Spine Center.
Fifty years ago, a spine fusion meant a two-week hospital stay, a body cast or brace for months, and a minimum of six months away from normal activities. A spinal fusion is performed by fusing the vertebrae together with bone grafts to eliminate motion between two adjacent vertebrae where motion is causing lower back pain.
Today, minimally invasively techniques allow for smaller incisions, less blood loss, and faster recovery time, Boden says. Some spine fusion techniques can be done on an outpatient basis.
Fifty years from now, Boden predicts that disc replacement will be an alternative to spinal fusion. Moreover, gene therapy will be able to prevent or reverse disc degeneration, and genetic research will help discover genetic sources of back pain, he says.
“Gene therapy for disc regeneration may be more than five years off, but less than 20,” he predicts.
When Is Exercise Appropriate
Low back pain due to muscle strain or muscle spasm is amenable to exercise. But if the pain traces to a problem in the spine, approach exercise more cautiously. One common warning sign of a spine-related problem is sciatica, or pain that radiates from the back down into the leg. The pain may be accompanied by a tingling “pins and needles” sensation. If you have sciatica, don’t begin a new exercise program without speaking to a doctor.
Less commonly, low back pain can be a “red flag” that warrants immediate medical attention if it takes any of these forms:
back pain with fever
pain that does not improve or worsens
numbness in the groin
loss of bladder or bowel control
inability to find a comfortable sitting or sleeping position during episodes of back pain.
Causes Of Lumbar Pain
Lower back pain most often results from
- Tissue injury
- Mechanical issues
- Deteriorating condition
- Abnormal spinal curvature
If the problem is deterioration or unusual spinal anatomy, deeper tissue injuries can arise such as herniated discs or nerve compression. These complications require professional attention. Never ignore serious symptoms such as severe pain, sudden weakness, shooting nerve pain, numbness or tingling. Do not delay seeking help for unusual symptoms.
The 7 Best Natural Cures For Inflammation In The Lower Back
No matter the cause of your lower back pain the pain you experience is caused by one thing:
How to know whats causing your inflammation in the lower back? How to eliminate the pain without depending on pain killers for life?
In this detailed guide, youll find all the answers: the common causes, the ultimate natural cures and how to avoid low back inflammation from coming back ever again.
First, lets start with lower back inflammation symptoms, and how they differ from mechanical lumbar pain:
Address Back Pain Sooner Not Later
If you have tried adaptations such as improving your work setup or adjusting your posture and dont have any improvement in pain within two to four weeks, you may want to seek a formal consultation with a healthcare provider or physical therapist, says Stephens.
Its not a good idea to live with pain too long physical therapists can usually be of more help if you come earlier in your pain episode, he says.
In the past, many doctors recommended bed rest for back pain, but thats no longer thought to be a good solution, says Stephens. Were pretty sure that doesnt help you get through an episode of low back pain any faster or end up with a better result, he says.
Theres nothing wrong with taking it easy for a day or two, but thats really the most that someone should be following any type of bed rest. After that, they need to try to introduce movement, because thats so important in helping tissue heal, says Stephens.
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Stretching The Area Of The Spasm
Common back stretches for back spasms include the tennis ball stretch, foam roller stretch, and exercise ball stretch.
How to Do Tennis Ball Stretches
How to Do the Foam Roller Stretch
How to Do Exercise Ball Stretches
Top Causes Of Chronic Low Back Pain
Here are the top causes of low back pain and tips for prevention.
It’s hard to find any part of Elin Laird’s life that hasn’t been touched by pain. “I can’t stand for too long. I can’t sit for too long. Pretty much if I’m at home, I’m lying in bed,” says the 39-year-old single mother. “I can’t be as active in my son’s life. I can’t travel as much. I’ve lost so much of my life.”
Laird describes the pain of her herniated disc as similar to having “an ice pick shoved in the base of my spine.” It’s a pain that no therapy â from steroids to painkillers to surgery â has managed to budge. And she is far from alone in her discomfort.
“Eighty percent of the population of the United States, at some point in their life, is going to have back pain,” says Ronald J. Wisneski, MD, an orthopedic surgeon, specialist in spinal disorders and spine surgery, and associate in the Department of Orthopedic Surgery at Geisinger Medical Center in Danville, Pa. Most of the time, that pain is centered in the lower back and non-specific, meaning there is no primary cause found. About 2% to 10% of people who experience low back pain develop chronic low back pain, which affects daily living for at least 3 months.
What could be triggering your back pain? To get an idea, WebMD talked to two orthopaedic surgeons about the most common causes of chronic lower back pain — and what you can do about it.
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Applying Cold Packs And Heat To Your Back
Regular hot or cold therapy can loosen the tightness around your back muscles and relieve spasms. Both therapies help to relax your muscles and ease the side effects of muscle spasms.
Hot Therapy for Muscle Spasms
Apply a heating pad to the area around the spasms for 15 to 20 minutes. After this, massage the area with a cold compress to calm any inflammation caused by the heating pad.
If youd rather do without the pad, try having a warm bath, hot tub or spa session, or a hot shower.
Cold Therapy for Muscle Spasms
The Best Lower Back Inflammation Home Treatment
The first step in treating lumbar inflammation is natural pain relief.
As long as youre in pain, its very hard to be motivated to do anything else, if at all.
I hope you already know that taking NSAIDs is no solution.
Even if they temporarily relieve your pain, they wont actually cure the inflammation and the huge price you liver and kidneys will pay for it is not worth it.
Science has already proven that some foods and herbs are just as effective pain relievers as the common pain killers, without any side effects and risks.
Lets start with the ultimate anti-inflammation foods & herbs:
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Alternative Back Pain Treatments To Try Before Choosing Surgery
If you deal with back pain, you know it can make you feel miserable. Whether its persistent low back pain or spasms, an aching neck, or sciatic nervepain shooting down your legs, chronic back pain can sideline you from work and your favorite activities.
Unfortunately, back pain is quite common. Eight in 10 people deal with some type of back pain during their lives. Low back pain in particular is responsible for 2.6 million visits to the emergency room each year and is the leading cause of disability worldwide.
Despite a wealth of research in recent years about how to treat back pain, too many patients still receive unnecessary and often excessive treatment. Instead of being urged to continue to work and stay active, which has been shown to be effective, patients often are told to take time off to rest, referred for scans and surgery, and prescribed painkillers, including opioids.
Fortunately, there are many alternative treatments for back pain, many of which are easy to do at home and affordable, with no doctors prescription necessary.
Tips For Dealing With Lower Back Pain
By Robert Greenleaf, MD, Spine Surgeon
Lower back pain is extremely common and one of the top reasons for missed workdays. Thats because the lower back supports the weight of the upper body and is subject to a lot of stress and strainespecially during everyday movements like lifting and twisting.
One of two things typically causes lower back pain: a sudden injury or the wear and tear of aging, arthritis and physical activity. No matter the cause of your lower back pain, here are 10 recommendations that can help you relieve it and prevent future problems.
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Stop Looking For A Specific Diagnosis
Stop focusing on a specific diagnosis. Up to 85% of low back pain can be classified as “non-specific.” This means that the origin of your pain cannot be localized to one specific structure or problem.
While common diagnostic tests for low back pain can show the bones, discs, and joints with great detail, no test can tell the exact cause of your pain with 100% accuracy.
How Is Back Pain Treated
Acute back pain usually gets better on its own. Acute back pain is usually treated with:
- Medications designed to relieve pain and/or inflammation
- analgesics such as acetaminophen and aspirin
- non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen and naproxen may be sold over the counter some NSAIDS are prescribed by a physician
- muscle relaxants are prescription drugs that are used on a short-term basis to relax tight muscles
- topical pain relief such as creams, gels, patches, or sprays applied to the skin stimulate the nerves in the skin to provide feelings of warmth or cold in order to dull the sensation of pain. Common topical medications include capsaicin and lidocaine.
Exercising, bed rest, and surgery are typically not recommended for acute back pain.Chronic back pain is most often treated with a stepped care approach, moving from simple low-cost treatments to more aggressive approaches. Specific treatments may depend on the identified cause of the back pain.
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When Is Surgery A Good Idea For Back Pain
These red flags can be indicators for surgery, if theyre found to berelated to your spine condition:
- New or progressing bowel/bladder issues
- Weakness in limbs
- Gait and balance problems
- Evidence of increased reflexes
Surgery can also be an option for chronic back pain if there is a knowncause confirmed by imaging and if other treatments didnt help. Getopinions from at least two surgeons, suggests Nava, as pain can stillcome back after the surgery.
Massaging Your Lower Back
Sometimes, a good back massage may relieve the pain and discomfort that comes with muscle cramps and back spasms.
If you cannot get a professional massage, you can try out a home alternative. Gently rub the affected area of the muscle spasm over and over again, until you feel some sort of relief.
If youre experiencing persistent back spasms, consider pinching the area around the sensations and holding the pinch for a few minutes. You can ask someone to help out if your hands cant reach the area.
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Simple Stretches To Relieve Lower Back Pain
Lower back pain can be a debilitating and painful condition.
Fortunately, staying physically active may be the most effective and cost-efficient way to soothe or prevent it.
Here are 8 simple stretches to relieve lower back pain.
Although its origin varies, changes in the lumbar, or lower back, structure due to musculoskeletal damage are considered to be the main cause .
Your musculoskeletal system is made up of bones, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and other connective tissues that provide form, support, stability, and movement to your body.
Other muscles that play an important role in maintaining the normal curvature of your spinal column are reported to be associated with lower back pain. These include the hip flexor and hamstring muscles .
Minor lower back pain normally gets better on its own within a few days or weeks. It can be considered chronic when it persists for more than three months .
In either case, staying physically active and regularly stretching can help reduce lower back pain or prevent it from returning .
The remainder of this article provides eight stretches for lower back pain, all of which you can do in the comfort of your own home with minimal or no equipment.
Summary Lower back pain is an incredibly common condition that can be relieved or prevented with regular exercise and stretching.
The knee-to-chest stretch can help lengthen your lower back, relieving tension and pain.
To perform the knee-to-chest stretch:
Stretching And Flexion Exercises To Relieve Lower Back Pain Naturally
Your doctor will likely recommend a flexion exercise program if you are experiencing lower back pain. These types of exercises widen your intervertebral foramina, which hold your nerves. They also widen your facet joints, which are the joints in your back that allow you to bend and twist. When these areas are widened, theres less compression on your nerve roots. Flexion exercises also stretch your hip flexors and back extensors and strengthen your abdominal and gluteal muscles.
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Ways To Relieve Low Back Pain At Home
Low back pain is one of the most common reasons people visit the doctor or miss work. Its estimated that at least eight out of 10 individuals experience low back pain at some point in their life. And, for 16 million Americans, those episodes are chronic or persistent, meaning its more than just an ache here or twinge there.
Now, with Americans spending more and more time at home because of the COVID-19 pandemic, back pain is affecting even more individuals. Fortunately, there are many steps you can take from home to help find relief from back pain.
Salman Hemani, MD, interventional pain and spine specialist, shares his top tips to help ease back pain.
Bonus Tip: Soothe The Pain With Cold And/or Hot
Don’t underestimate the pain reduction of simply applying cold packs and/or hot packs to help reduce your lower back pain.
- Cold therapy helps reduce inflammation and pain. Some examples include wrapping ice in a cloth, a pack of frozen peas from the freezer, or a cold gel pack. Always keep at least one layer between your skin and the ice/cold pack.
- Heat therapy helps improve blood flow, relaxation, and pain relief. Heat therapy can come in many forms. It’s best to try several to find what works best for you. Taking a warm bath or shower, soaking in a hot tub, or using a heating pad or heat wrap are all ways to bring warmth to your lower back.
Whether applying ice or a heat pack, limit applications to 15 or 20 minutes with at least 2 hours of rest in between to protect your skin. Never sleep with a heating pad or frozen pack as this can lead to permanent skin damage.
Hopefully these overlooked remedies can help you try some new approaches to better manage your lower back pain and find lasting relief.
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Avoid Prolonged Static Posture
It is important to pay attention to the joints and muscles of your spine and hip. Prevent fatigue and stresses on these joints by following simple tips, such as:
- Avoid excessive sitting or consider using a standing desk while you work. When you sit for a long duration, the pressure on your spinal discs increase. Aim to get up every hour and walk a short distance to take the load off your discs.
When you have a flare-up of symptoms, consider less exertive activities, such as reading a book, listening to music, or crafting. These activities can help divert your mind from the pain and let your back rest at the same time.
Top 10 Ways To Manage Low Back Pain At Home
Back pain can range from a dull, continuous pain at the back of the body, to sudden sharp excruciating pain that restricts movement. The location of pain also differs from being an upper back pain, lower back pain or pain along the sides.
The causes of a back pain can also vary. Wrong posture while sitting, standing, walking or lifting heavy objects is the most common cause of all back pains. Other causes of back pain include slipped disc, sciatica, whiplash, frozen shoulder and ankylosing spondylitis.
There are various ways to get relief from back pain. Natural remedies for back pain depend on the conditions that cause the pain and also its location. Some simple home remedies are mentioned below:
Soothe the Pain with Cold or Hot Packs
Ice or gel packs can be applied to the location of pain. A cold pack reduces inflammation and also numbs the nerve endings, thus alleviating the pain. Cold pack can be made at home by sealing a mixture of one cup rubbing alcohol with 2 cups of water in a plastic freezer bag. This can be kept in a freezer for an hour before using it on the back to relieve pain. Cold packs can be used for severe back pain as it numbs the endings of nerves that carry the pain signal to the brain.
Get Some Sleep in a Comfortable Mattress
Correct Your Posture Sitting, Standing and Walking
Posture correction to avoid back pain can be done in the following ways:
Be on the Move
Shed the Extra Weight
Exercise and Yoga for Backpain
Massage Therapy for Back Pain
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