All Posts tagged back pain

What Are Some Common Causes of Back Pain?

What Are Some Common Causes of Back Pain?

This week, we’re celebrating Bone and Joint Action Week. Over half of all Americans over the age of 18 suffer from some sort of musculoskeletal condition, such as arthritis, back pain, osteoporosis, and trauma. In fact, these conditions are the most common cause of severe long-term pain and physical disability worldwide. Over time, they can lead to decreased productivity in work or at home, as well as a diminish in quality of life.

While a lot of back pain stems from unavoidable ailments such as old age or disease, plenty of cases are caused by completely preventable situations. If you are a frequent sufferer of back aches, then you may want to consider the cause. By learning more about the common causes of back pain, you can figure out the best way to make it stop.

1. Lying Down or Sitting Too Much

Since all of our patients are homebound, many of them do not have the ability to walk around freely. Some patients are even confined to bed, too weak or sick to even get up at all. Unfortunately, this can wreak havoc on your back. This happens because the discs that line and cushion your vertebrae are compacted when you are sitting. This prevents fluid from reaching the discs, preventing them from getting the nutrients they need to keep doing their job. In fact, sitting puts more pressure on your back than standing or lying down, and can even cause long term damage if you do it all day every day. To prevent this, try and get up at least every 20 minutes to give your back a break, use a back support in your chair, and don’t lean forward too much.

2. Weakness in the Core

Again, because many of our patients are just coming out of the hospital and are weak, they usually don’t have great core strength. Your core includes your ab, back, side, pelvic, and buttock muscles, all of which work together to help support your spine. These are the muscles that allow you to twist, bend, rotate, and stand up straight. Without these muscles, your back is in danger of being unsupported. A core weak leads to slouching, which causes pain in your back. Remedy this problem by doing stretches and exercises like lunges, squats, and planks to strength your muscles.

3. Sleeping Incorrectly

You might not think there’s a wrong way to sleep, but there is. Laying on your stomach while catching some Zs actually puts a lot of pressure on your joints and muscles, keeping everything tight and compressed. Laying on your bed, on the other hand, allows your spine to stay long and neutral throughout the night. Additionally, it is important to choose the right kind of mattress to optimize spine comfort. Always go with a medium firmness as this is the best surface to keep your spine happy. Use a pillow that keeps your head in line with your spine throughout the night.

4. Emotional Instability

Mental illness is known for terrorizing the mind, but it can also have palpable effects on the body. A study from the University of Alberta has revealed that people with major depression were four times as likely to suffer from low back and neck pain. They think it’s because depression can trigger the release of the stress hormone cortisol, leading to increased muscle tension in the shoulders and back. Additionally, depression makes it hard to find motivation for moving or exercising. However, moving and being active is actually a treatment for both depression and back aches, so it’s important to try and overcome the urge to lay in bed.

Don’t forget to let your nurse or therapist know if you are suffering back pain. If you doctor agrees, we can have a physical therapist come to visit you and provide alleviating treatment. He or she will provide you with exercises to strengthen your core and get your back feeling better.


National Pain Awareness Month

National Pain Awareness Month

Pain is, unfortunately, something we know a lot about. Nearly all of our patients suffer from some kind of pain, whether it is chronic (long-lasting) or acute (temporary, short term). That’s why we’d like to take a moment to pay recognition to Pain Awareness Month. It’s a time to raise public awareness of pain and pain management.

Almost 100 million Americans experience chronic pain on a daily basis – more than those who have diabetes, heart disease, and cancer combined. Chronic pain is defined as pain that continues a month or more beyond the usual recovery period for an injury or illness that goes on for months or years. The pain may not be constant, but can definitely interfere with daily life. There are many causes of pain stemming from a number of different conditions, including arthritis and back issues. 25 million people suffer from migraines, and one in six people suffer from some form of arthritis.

Pain is an indicator of some kind of problem in the body that requires attention. It can be both physical and emotional, affecting your psychological state and stress levels.

So what can you do to learn more about pain? Try taking our Pain Awareness Month Quiz to test your knowledge of facts and statistics related to pain. Or, to assess your individual pain score and see how it affects your quality of life, take this Pain Score Quiz. If you have any more questions about pain or pain management, just ask your nurse or therapist during their next visit! They will be happy to help you find ways to lessen or prevent your pain.


Suffering From Back Pain? Don’t Take Acetaminophen!

Suffering From Back Pain? Don’t Take Acetaminophen!

A new study shows that acetaminophen, the drug contained in the painkiller Tylenol, has no real effect on lower back pain in certain people.

Currently, acetaminophen is a popular treatment for back pain because of the low risk of side effects as well as its effectiveness against other kinds of pain.

The study focused on over 1,600 people in Australia who were suffering from acute lower back pain. These participants were separated into three groups – those who took acetaminophen three times a day, those who took acetaminophen only as needed, and those who took placebo tablets.

It actually took longer for patients taking acetaminophen to feel better – a full 17 days compared to the 16 day healing process for the placebo.

Additionally, acetaminophen did not improve the quality of life, sleep quality, or level of disability of the participants involved.

“Most people would have thought (acetaminophen) would have some effect, so this was a surprise,” said Bart Koes of Erasmus MC University Center in the Netherlands.

However, doctors are careful to warn the public that their medical recommendations have not changed.

“This is the first study of its kind, so it’s tough to make a decision based on just one study,” said Dr. Michael Mizhiritsky, a physical rehabilitation specialist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York who was not involved in the study.

“If patients do make the decision to take [acetaminophen] for their back pain, they might be advised to monitor closely if they indeed experience sufficient pain relief,” said Bart Koes and Dr. Wendy Enthoven, of Erasmus University Medical Center in Netherlands in an editorial that accompanied the study. “If not, they could decide to stop taking analgesics [painkillers] or try an NSAID.”

Additional methods for preventing lower back pain involve heat packs, spinal manipulation from a physiotherapist, acupuncture, and exercise. Bed rest can actually be detrimental, so it is important to stay as active as possible.