3 Simple Practices Your Spine Will Appreciate
Could you afford to be out of work for several weeks? Back pain is not only a leading cause for calling in sick, it prolongs absence for weeks at a time. According to one study, “…the proportion of people with back pain returning to work was 68.2% at 1 month, 85.6% at 1-6 months and 93.3% at ≥6 months.”i This means that about 7% of back pain sufferers were still home over half a year later!
Your spine is the centerpiece of your back. It is column formed by a stack of 33 separate bones (vertebrae). There are also muscles, nerves, and connective tissues (tendons and ligaments). All these make the spine strong and flexible. On the other hand, damage to any of the parts can result in pain ranging from annoying discomfort to debilitating agony.
If you are nice to your body, it will be nice to you. This is as true for your spine as for any other part of your body. Being kind to your backbone is a terrific investment in making sure pain doesn’t happen. Or, if it does, it will be minor and won’t put your job on the line by keeping you away from it.
Here are three simple things you can do to treat your spine as nicely as it deserves:
- Give your spine the gift of a good night’s sleep – and make sure it’s a deep rest in proper position. While many people sleep on their back, this can put pressure on your spinal column. Sleeping on your side is better not just for your back, but also for your upper airways. Use a pillow that helps your neck align with your spine. Remember that the body does a lot of self-repair during sleep. It’s a natural break from the cares of the day, and a chance for people who carry stress in their back muscles to let go of it. Tightened muscles are injuries waiting to happen.
- Exercise and stay active. Keeping your body moving has virtually limitless benefits for every organ and skeletal system (not to mention your mind and your mood). A healthy back likes to bend, twist, stretch and flex. Pay special attention to your core – the strength of your abdominal muscles in front adds support and protection for your back – and remember to maintain good posture as you move.
- Maintain healthy weight. Being overweight is a major risk factor for osteoarthritis of the spine, meaning deterioration of the tiny cartilage pads on the facet joints between each vertebra. Up to 30% of back pain cases are due to worn facet joints, which can cause pain and immobility. Keeping your body’s burden on your spine within normal range will help preserve that precious cartilage.
The bottom line
Simple: Be nice to your spine, and it will be wonderful to you.
For low back pain due to facet joint deterioration, there are many interventions that can be done at home to bring temporary pain relief. However, if pain becomes frequent, intense, and eventually chronic, consider being evaluated for a one-time noninvasive outpatient procedure to deaden the nerves causing pain. It is called MRI-guided Focused Ultrasound, and the Sperling Medical Group is proud to offer it.
For more information, or to schedule a consultation, visit our website.
iWynne-Jones G, Cowen J, Jordan JL, et al. Absence from work and return to work in people with back pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Occup Environ Med. Published Online First: 01 November 2013. doi: 10.1136/oemed-2013-101571
- Facet Pain