Tag Archives: back pain

What to do when you get a back spasm

Ever been caught with a back spasm? Here’s tips on how to deal with the pain.

  1. Stop and rest. Carefully move to a bed or flat surface to remain immobile. Your spasm is a warning sign from your body that you must not continue to move. Stop the activity that triggered it.
  2. Relax the muscles. Try and relax your muscles with slow, controlled breathing. The muscles are trying to keep you from moving. This is to protect your body from injury. As you try to relax, do not allow the muscle to contract more. Instead, try to extend it with gentle bending and extending movements opposite to the contraction. Take it slow and gentle.
  3. Stretch slowly and carefully. Extend the muscle that has the spasm. Do not overstretch it. Move slowly and gradually. By increasing the length of your muscle, you decrease the amount of pain in that muscle. Alternative periods of stretching with rest.
  4. Treat the area. Gentle massage can help soothe the pain and allow the muscle to release. Do not aggravate the muscle or be too forceful. If the pain is still severe, an anti-inflammatory or anti-spasmodic medication may be used. Apply a cold pack to the area 48-72 hours after the spasm. Protect the skin from ice burn with a thin towel. After 72 hours, apply moist heat like a wet towel or warm shower. Make sure you are drinking enough fluids to prevent dehydration.
  5. Targeted exercise. When you can resume normal activity, follow a low back pain exercise routine designed for the back and to prevent the spasm. Prevention is key to long term healing and recovery.

Back pain and pregnancy

Do pregnant women who exercise during their pregnancy have less back pain?

Dr. Raul Artal, a professor emeritus in the department of obstetrics, gynecology and women’s health at Saint Louis University School of Medicine says, “Up to 60 percent of all pregnant women have some back pain. Women who engage in exercises to prevent low back pain experience less low back pain, and those who have it can engage in those exercised to ameliorate it.”

The reason women experience back pain during pregnancy is due to the curvature of the spine that results when the abdomen expands and alters a woman’s center of gravity.

“It’s a very common complaint,” says Dr. Artal.

However, strengthening the back and abdominal muscles can minimize the pain. A report from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says, “Despite the fact that pregnancy is associated with profound anatomic and physiologic changes, exercise has minimal risks and has been shown to benefit most women. Women with uncomplicated pregnancies should be encouraged to engage in physical activities before, during and after pregnancy.”

Exercises including walking, swimming, stationary cycling and other low-impact aerobics are deemed safe. Simple exercises like arching the spine back and forth like a cat on the floor, or standing with the back to the wall with knees bent and spine straightened can also help.


Why your back really isn’t ‘bad’

Is your back really “bad”? Does it smoke? Sneak out of the house at night? Is it really that baaad? This humor shows that we talk a lot of smack about our bodies. For instance, “too short”, “too tall”, “too wide”, “too narrow”.

But be careful what you say, because most physicians are now acknowledging that the brain and body are connected. Studies show stress can make you susceptible to illness, or good social relationships can improve your cardiovascular health.

Slapping a negative label on your back means you are dismissing it without really understanding it. “Bad” also implies it deserves punishment. Being conscious of the language we use to describe our bodies can lead to something more profound… maybe having it hurt less.

Judith Orloff, M.D. and author of The Ecstasy of Surrender says, “Putting negative labels on your body is just an overactive mind that has lost track of how to see things with heart. Saying wonderful things to your body is more than a linguistic issue. It is a deeply spiritual issue and the point is to learn to love your physical form and revere it.” That means rebellious ankles, naughty knees and all.


Serena Williams injury advice for Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods has not been short on advice from massive groups of people regarding his injury and back surgery. Serena Williams joins that list of people, but the difference is she’s a professional athlete with lots of experience playing through and recovery from an injury.

So what did she have to say?

“For me I say you should just try to enjoy your time off, and when you’re feeling better, get back into it, but it’s a process that you don’t want to rush,” Williams quoted to USA Today’s For The Win.

She adds, “When you’ve been doing this for 20 years it gets really repetitive, so you can just use it as a time to reboot so things don’t feel as militant.”

Tiger Woods recently said, “I am [being more patient], and I have to be with it. That wasn’t always the case. I’ve played through a lot of injuries. I’ve played through some situations I probably shouldn’t have, won some tournaments I probably shouldn’t have won.”

Brett Anderson with the Dodgers out 3 to 5 months for back surgery

Expected to be the number 3 started for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Brett Anderson will be out three to five months due to back surgery.

After accepting the a $15.8 million qualifying offer from the Dodgers, Anderson, 28, has struggled with injuries throughout his career due to a bulging disk in his back that will require surgery.

Anderson had won 10 games and pitched a career high of 180 1/3 innings in 2015.

Why Mindfulness Might Help with Back Pain

New research suggests mindful meditation among seniors suffering from chronic low back pain may reduce pain.

The study, involving nearly 300 seniors with long-term low back pain, were assigned a two-month mindful meditation course. Dr. Natalia Morone, associate professor of medicine at the University of Pittsburgh said, “Mindful meditation is a method to learn how to be fully engaged in the present moment and not let the mind get so easily distracted.”

Dr. Morone adds as patients practice this meditation and tried to stay more focused, “participants found they experienced less pain.”

The result? In the study, half of the participants were engaged in a mindful meditation class for eight weeks. The other group practiced an eight week healthy aging program discussing blood pressure management and stretching.

While both groups saw an improvement in mobility and pain, eighty percent of the mindful meditation group had said their back pain had eased after the eight week course. By comparison, only thirty-seven percent of the healthy living group said their back pain eased.


Get your walk on. Why walking is so good for you.

If you have low back pain or tightness, have you tried going for a walk? Studies show walking is a safe and effective way to prevent, treat, and alleviate low back pain, a condition that affects 80 percent of U.S. citizens in their lifetime.

Dr. Gopal T. Raghunath, PT MS, DPT, CSCS, owner/clinic director of Clinic Grove Physical Therapy & Sports Rehabilitation, P.C. says, “The human body craves movement and exercise. Walking provides a host of benefits for individuals who experience chronic low-back pain and stiffness, ranging from weight reduction and increasing bone mineral density to helping combat osteoporosis, to improving cardiorespiratory fitness and reducing hypertension.”

Dr. Raghunath adds, “Walking is perhaps the simplest, easiest, and most cost effective way to get fit and stay fit. No expensive equipment or gym memberships required. Just appropriate attire, well-fitting shoes, and motivation to get moving.”

The following benefits from walking are listing below:

  • Healthier spine – Walking helps with general circulation throughout the body to nourish the spine’s soft tissues.
  • Increased bone mineral density – Walking is weight bearing and helps optimize bone density in efforts to fight osteoporosis and minimize falls and fractures.
  • Improved flexibility and posture – Walking helps with improved range of motion, and better functional mobility and helps prevent injuries.
  • Increased muscle strength – Stronger legs, hips, feet and core muscles lead to better balance and increased spinal stability.

Tips for Preventing Back Pain During Sleep

If your back pain gets in the way of a good night’s sleep, your mattress and position of how you sleep may be to blame. Check out these tips, provided by the National Sleep Foundation for better sleep:

  • Invest if a new mattress that is medium to medium-firm. If you can’t afford to buy a new one, place some plywood beneath your mattress.
  • If you’re a back sleeper, sleep with a pillow beneath your knees to help ease pressure on your back. Stomach sleepers would place the pillow under your belly. Side sleepers should place the pillow between your knees.
  • Carefully get in and out of bed, avoiding quick movements. Roll to your side, use your arms to help push yourself up, and carefully swing your legs over the side of the bed.
  • Get regular exercise, and make sure you work on your back and abdominal muscles.

A 25-minute surgery already changing lives

A new groundbreaking study with just a 25-minute surgery is already changing lives. This surgery could provide lower back pain relief for hundreds of thousands of people.

The minimally invasive procedure is a SI joint fusion surgery that inserts three titanium bars into the joint.

Dr. Clay Frank, the trial’s lead investigator, is an orthopedic spine surgeon at Wheaton Franciscan’s Midwest Orthopedic Specialty Hospital. Dr. Frank discovered that pain relief after surgery was 80 percent for patients with the surgery. The non-surgical group only saw 20 percent in pain relief.

Dr. Frank said, “I’ve been doing this for 20 years. I have never seen a tool this powerful.”

The surgery involves pushing the muscle fibers apart to access the bone, and then inserting three wires to guide the triangular bar into place. A four pound mallet is used to hammer the titanium bars into the joint.

Jen Christianson said the surgery saved her life. Once a marathoner, and zumba enthusiast, she could barely sit in the car. “Tears were constant. The pain was so severe,” she said.

After the procedure, Christianson said, “My life today, it’s changed totally.”


5 Best Exercises for Low Back Pain

From chiropractors to shoe inserts to hanging upside down, people will do anything to try and prevent and treat lower back pain. It turns out that the magic answer to relieve pain is exercise.

Check out the top 5 best exercises for back pain:

  1. Lying Straight Leg Iron Cross – This is a great exercise to release tension in the legs, back and glutes. Lots of back pain can come from muscles being weak or tight. To do this, start lying on your back with both legs straight. Lift one leg back toward you, keeping your knee straight. (3×12 reps on each side)
  2. Half Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch – This is great for unlocking a tight lower back. The hip flexor becomes tight from sitting. To do this stretch, bend one knee down on a  pad and the other leg bent with the foot flat on the floor. Squeeze your bottom on the side of the knee that is down and try to push your hip to the wall in front of you. (3×30 second holds on each side every day).
  3. Anti-Rotation Press aka Pallof Press – This will strengthen your core. Start in an athletic stance like a linebacker would stand, with your feet shoulder-width apart. Grab a cable or band and bracing your core, bring the cable to your chest. Reach the cable straight away form your body with your arms full extended. Pause for 1-2 seconds then return back under control. (3×12 reps on each side)
  4. Goblet Squat – This will strengthen your upper back and core while protecting your back. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart with your toes pointed slightly out. With a straight back, crouch down to pick up a weight. Hold the weight (dumbbell or kettle bell) at chest height with your elbows pointing towards the ground. Squat as low as your body will allow you and keep a straight back. (3×8 reps)
  5. Plank with Reach – A great exercise to strengthen your core. Get into a regular plank position with your forearms under your shoulders and your body braced so you are in a straight line. From here, reach one arm out in front of you and extend the arm fully, then bring it back under control. Repeat on the other side. (3×6 reaches per side)