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family wellness

Bye Bye Back Pain By Sandra Gordon

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ount yourself lucky if you’ve never groaned about your back. Fact is, the majority of us (80%) will deal with back pain at some point. It’s one of the most common reasons for a doctor visit. Deciding how to treat it, though, can be tricky. There’s simply no gold standard. “We have a long history of medical interventions that didn’t work,” says Roger Chou, M.D., a back pain expert at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland. But today we know more than ever. Check out the latest ways to avoid and deal with pain—from easy-to-implement prevention moves to the most effective cutting-edge surgical cures. 1. Don’t coddle yourself. Whether your back pain is excruciating or merely annoying, you probably won’t feel like doing much. But don’t take it easy for more than a day or two. Doing so can prolong and worsen 26 family wellness

pain. Instead, take a prescription or overthe-counter pain reliever (acetaminophen or ibuprofen) and start moving, says Daniel J. Mazanec, M.D., associate director of the Center for Spine Health at the Cleveland Clinic. “Low-impact activities, like walking or swimming, boost blood flow to your back muscles and help loosen them up.” 2. Avoid the urge to be a weekend warrior. “In general, people who exercise regularly have less back pain than those who don’t,” says Dr. Mazanec. But bingeing on exercise over the weekend—to make up for everything you missed during the week—can backfire because your muscles aren’t primed for the activity. Ideally, you should go on a power walk daily. It’s the best prescription for a strong, problem-resistant spine. 3. Take a break. Get up from the computer or couch and stretch every 30 minutes. Put your hands on your hips, look up at the ceiling and arch backward. Sitting for long periods without a break compresses your back’s disks, which are meant to cushion vertebrae. suburban family | subfam.com

4. Stay slim. Maintaining a body mass index (BMI) in the normal range of 18.5 to 24.9 reduces your risk of back pain. “Being overweight causes wear and tear on your ankles, knees and hips that gets transferred to your spine because you limp or favor one side,” says Perry G. Fine, M.D., of the Pain Research Center at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. It can also put excess stress on disks, ligaments and back joints, causing osteoarthritis of the spine. 5. Do Kegels. Toning your pelvic-floor muscles does more than just prevent urinary incontinence. It strengthens your entire “inner cylinder,” starting with the floor; you’ll be supporting your uterus, bladder, bowel, on up to your abs and spinal muscles, says Kevin Carneiro, D.O., medical director of the UNC Spine Center in Chapel Hill. “All of these muscles work in tandem.” To perform Kegels: Locate the targeted muscles by trying to stop the flow when urinating. Once you know how to flex and contract, hold those muscles for 5-second intervals 5 times in a row anytime during your day. Work up to 10-second contraction and relaxation intervals. March/April 2015

Profile for Suburban Family Magazine

Suburban Family ~ March + April 2015  

2015 Annual Race Guide, Summer Camps, Springtime Fun, Chicago Events, Dining Guide

Suburban Family ~ March + April 2015  

2015 Annual Race Guide, Summer Camps, Springtime Fun, Chicago Events, Dining Guide