Posts Tagged: spine

Resolutions for a Healthy Spine – Surrey Pain & Wellness Chiropractic Clinic

A Healthy Spine Helps Ensure a Healthier Year Ahead

As spinal health is a key aspect of your overall health and well being, resolve to have a healthier spine in 2012!

1.  I resolve to get regular chiropractic adjustments.  Why?

Relief. Relief from back or neck pain is often the first benefit our patients notice. You may  find other areas of your body are relieved once your spinal column is aligned as the nerves that run to those areas of the body also run through the spinal column.  Muscle spasms, headaches and other symptoms may also decrease after an adjustment.

Restore function. Chiropractic adjustments are unique in their ability to reduce stress on the joints, as well as helping restore normal range of motion and function through the entire body, while supporting the nervous system’s natural ability to heal itself.

Maintain aligngment. Proper spinal alignment results in proper nervous system function and when the nervous system is communicating properly, the body simply functions better.  Patients who regularly visit the chiropractor are less likely to relapse and find that they recover more quickly if they do happen to become injured.

2.   I resolve to ensure a quality sleep.  Why? 

Sleep is another key factor of overall health; this is when your body repairs itself.  Generally it is to lay in a neutral position on your side, rather than the stomach. (Sleeping directly on the stomach puts pressure on the spine.)   A supportive pillow and mattress can also help enhance the quality of your sleep.

3.  I resolve to increase my level of physical activity.  Why? 

If you are already active, consider changing it up.  Different types of exercise protect your spine in different ways and changing it up decreases your chance of repetitive injury. Lifting weights ensures spinal support and protection. Cardio help lose those extra pounds put on over the holidays. (Excess weight drags down on the ligaments, muscles and tendons of the lower back, causing pain.) Stretching helps keep the body flexible.  Some types of yoga combine stretching, strengthening and cardio.

4.   I resolve to stretch.   Why? 

Tight muscles can result in various imbalances in the body’s structure, causing  pain and increasing the risk of injury.  For example, tight hamstrings can cause posture problems, since this can pull the pelvis out of its normal position, resulting in chronic back or sacroiliac joint pain.

5.  I resolve to create a spine-friendly work environment.  Why?

Designing the workplace to meet your individual needs impacts health, safety, productivity and efficiency.

Back pain is one of the most common work-related injuries and is often caused by ordinary work activities such as sitting in an office chair or heavy lifting.  Make sure that you have ergonomic supports if your work requires long periods of sitting or standing, and that you are able to vary your position often.

6.  I resolve to stay hydrated.  Why?

Like all body parts, the spine requires water to maintain and repair healthy tissue and keep joints lubricated.  The cushion-like  discs between the vertebrae protect your spine by absorbing the impact of daily activity.  When you are consistently dehydrated, the discs are less able to absorb shock.   So keep a bottle of water with you, and sip frequently.

Tip:  if you don’t enjoy drinking water, throw in a wedge of lemon, lime or slice up some orange or cucumber into your water bottle for some tang!  Your spine (and the rest of your body) will thank you for it!

When to Consult a Medical Professional | Doctor or Chiropractor?

Should You Visit a Doctor or a Chiropractor for Back Pain?

Surrey Pain & Wellness Clinic – Doctor or Chiropractor?

Any onset of sudden back pain following heavy work, exercise or minor fall usually results from a simple strain.  This may not be the case for elderly or those who have a history of a serious disease or chronic condition.  In these cases, a visit to your family doctor or local emergency room is recommended, depending on the severity and symptoms.

When to Consult a Doctor for Back Pain

  • Any severe back pain
  • Any trauma, such as a hard fall or a motor vehicle accident (with or without pain)
  • In the elderly or if the person has osteoporosis,  even a minor stumble or fall warrants immediate medical attention
  • Back pain is worse when lying down
  • The pain is accompanied by an unexplained fever
  • Low-level pain that is present for more than a month without any improvement
  • Any back pain and an unexplained weight loss
  • History of cancer
  • Long-term steroid use (this can weaken the bones and increase risk of fractures)
  • Recent onset of urinary tract problems such as pain or burning, increased frequency or infection
  • Back pain accompanied by leg weakness or numbness, the genital area or  buttocks; or accompanied by a change in the ability to urinate or have a bowel movement.  (These may be signs of spinal nerve injury.)

When to Consult a Chiropractor for Back Pain

If you suffer from chronic back pain, a chiropractor may prove to be very useful in relieving symptoms.  Chiropractic adjustments may  be more effective than physical therapy in certain cases or can be complementary to your physical or massage therapy program. On the other hand, if you have been to a physiotherapist, massage therapist, or even if you have had surgery on your back and have not experienced relief or improvement in your symptoms, a knowledgeable chiropractor can make all the difference.

If your pain is especially severe or you have been in chronic pain for more than three months, you may want to call your chiropractor for advice before deciding to head to the clinic in order to determine the best immediate course of action.  It may be best to rest and apply ice before seeking treatment if the pain is acute.  In any case, chiropractic care may prove to be very useful in relieving symptoms.

Many people don’t realize their spine is out of alignment, because symptoms can manifest in other parts of the body or the nervous system.  Treating the spine, which is the master system of the entire body, therefore affects all aspects of the body, including issues with:

  • Upper and lower back
  • Pelvis, hips, knees
  • Shoulders, elbows, wrists
  • Knees, feet, ankles
  • Muscles, ligaments and tendons
  • Soft tissue injuries

How to Find a Chiropractor?

Chiropractors are “primary contact” health care providers, which means you do not have to be referred to one by a physician or anyone else.  You may book the appointment yourself over the phone. Surrey Pain & Wellness Clinic will also book an appointment for you online.

However, as with any other health care professional, referrals from friends and acquaintances are probably the best way to find a chiropractor that you trust.  Treatments and applications do vary between chiropractors, so be sure to ask your chiropractor questions about how he or she can help your specific issue and how long it might be before you expect results.

Surrey Pain & Wellness Clinic will also be providing monthly information sessions about our services called “Let the Healing Begin.”  Call or email for more information.

Self-Assessment of Back Pain | Surrey Pain & Wellness | Chiropractors

Is it a dull ache or intense pain?  Pain with movement or at rest?  Do you rush to the doctor or can you stay home and relax?

Often the cause of your back pain is obvious, and pain will occur within 24 hours of some irregular movement or motion such as:

  • Lifting a heavy object
  • Lifting from an awkward position
  • Falling, or rapid twists, jerks or motions (as in a motor vehicle accident)

If you have injured yourself in a motor vehicle or work place accident, it is best to seek medical advice immediately.

However, if you develop back pain after a simple strain or stumble, it may not be necessary to rush to the doctor immediately.  An x-ray examination in such cases would likely not be ordered unless pain persists for several weeks or if a more serious injury or condition is suspected.

If your back pain seems to have occurred “out of nowhere” or you have minor pain you attribute to a simple strain, there are some preliminary assessments that may be helpful in helping you to decide what the problem is and what type of treatment would be most helpful.

If bending over or getting out of bed in the morning, getting up from a chair after a long period of sitting are the primary concern, and there has been no severe trauma, rest will usually ease the pain within a few days.

Pain that occurs when the sciatic nerve is stretched less than 60 degrees when doing the SLR test is a sign that a spinal nerve is pinched

Straight Leg Test for Sciatic Nerve Pain

Pinched spinal nerves may occur at any level in the spinal column, from the neck to the buttocks. If the pinched nerve causes pain to radiate down one leg, it may actually interfere with forward movement of the leg.  To test for sciatic nerve involvement, lie on your back with straight legs.  Have someone lift the affected leg as far as possible with a hand cupped under the ankle and your leg completely relaxed.  If there is a pinched nerve in the lower spine, you will probably begin to feel pain with less than 60 degrees of straight leg raising.  The most common cause is a herniated disc.

Severe pain accompanied by numbness or tingling in the affected thigh or leg can be a sign that a nerve is undergoing damage which, if uncorrected will result in weakness and loss of sensation in the muscles and skin supplied by the affected nerve.

There are three simple tests to help determine whether you have a pinched or damaged nerve and where the problem might be located:

Heel walk: Try walking on your heels, keeping the forepart of both feet OFF the floor.  If you are unable to keep one of your feet from dropping flat to the floor, you might have nerve damage caused by an L4 or L5 herniated disc.

Toe walk: Try walking on your toes, keeping the heels of both feet off the floor.  If the heel of one foot falls to the floor and you are unable to walk on your toes, you may have nerve damage due to an L5 disc herniation.  If you discover weakness in your foot or leg, you should see a doctor.

Squat Test: Hold onto a bedpost or railing and squat halfway down, first favouring one leg and then the other.  If one of your thighs are weak, you may have nerve damage from a disc herniation in the upper back.

The knee reflex can be tested by tapping just blow the kneecap with the edge of a thin book.  Weakness of a thigh muscle or absence of a knee reflex indicate you SHOULD get to a doctor.

Back pain caused by a kidney stone is usually severe.   Unlike a mechanical-type problem, where movement causes pain, the pain caused by a kidney stone will usually keep you from attempting movement of any kind.   Kidney pain usually radiates into the groin and the inside of the thigh on the side of the stone is often accompanied by nausea and a cold sweat.  If you suspect you may have a kidney stone, contact your doctor to find out whether you should go to the office or to a hospital emergency room.

Your Amazing Back | Understanding Back Pain

What symbolizes hard work, has the thickest skin on the body and yet is the number one cause of pain in adults?

Answer:  Your Amazing Back!

The spine is one of the most important parts of the body.  Without it, we could not stand or even sit upright.    The spine gives our body structure and support and carries the substantial weight of our head.  The spine allows us to move about freely, bend and provides the upper and lower body with range of motion.

The spine is also designed to protect our spinal cord.  The spinal cord is a column of nerves that connects our brain with the rest of our body, allowing us to control movement.  Without the spinal cord, we could not move any part of our body, and the organs of the body simply could not function.

Keeping the spine healthy is vital if we are to live a healthy, active life.  About 60 and 80% of all adults will suffer with back pain at some time in their life, and up to 10% of this group will develop chronic back pain.

Clearly there are many more serious questions on how to deal with chronic pain of any kind, but first it might be helpful to understand the anatomy of the back.

The structures of the back consists of the spine (vertebrae), the joints (facet joints), discs between the vertebrae in the spine and finally the muscles and ligaments that hold it all together.

  • The facet joints provide range of motion in the spine
  • The intervertebral discs work as shock absorbers
  • The back bone supports the body’s weight
  • The vertebrae protect the spinal cord from injury

It is possible for any of these structures to become injured.  The most common injury is a sprain or strain of the ligaments and muscles – usually by a sudden movement or some repetitive strain .

A strain is  a stretching injury of a muscle, while a sprain is the stretch or tear of a ligament.

When a disc becomes injured, it will bulge or even tear.  If a tear in the disc is large enough, it can leak fluids onto the spinal nerve.  This condition is known as a herniated or ruptured disc.

Stiffness and pain caused by muscular strain is usually in the low back and can be felt when bending or twisting. Severe pain or pain that radiates into the calf or foot  and is accompanied by numbness or tingling can be a sign of a pinched nerve caused by herniation of one of the discs.

Pain that originates in the low back (lumbar spine) and radiating down the back of the leg along the distribution of the sciatic nerve is called sciatic pain or sciatica.

Acute back pain is defined as back or back-related let pain which is severe enough to restrict activity for less than three months.

Chronic back pain is defined as that which restricts activity for longer than about three months.

For more information on your amazing back, understanding back pain and on chiropractic, contact Surrey Pain & Wellness Clinic.