Simple habit like sleeping with a pillow under your knees can help your back pain!
WebMD offers quite a few tips on traveling with chronic pain. Did you know you can get a helper at the airport? Call TSA Cares at 855-787-2227 to learn how to get assigned a helper at the airport. If you can’t stand or walk for a long time, consider requesting a wheelchair as airports are filled with snaking lines and long walks. You can reserve a wheelchair when you buy your ticket or just ask for one at the airport. The service is free, but the attendants appreciate tips.
Unlike muscles in the arms and legs, core muscles do not get much use during typical daily activities. To build strength in core abdominal and back muscles requires exercises that focus specifically in these muscle groups. Two of the most commonly used back strengthening programs are the McKenzie Method and dynamic stabilization, both of which are typically learned by working with a physical therapist.
McKenzie Method exercises are designed to alleviate back pain caused by conditions affecting a spinal disc, such as degenerative disc disease or a herniated disc. These exercises are usually less effective for pain caused by osteoarthritis in the facet joints and/or spinal stenosis.
The goal of dynamic stabilization exercises is to find and maintain the neutral spine—a natural posture that accommodates the spine’s curvature and minimizes stress. Maintaining the neutral spine in a healthy posture is achieved through muscle conditioning and a learned awareness of joint positions (called proprioception).
1. Ditch the pills and supplements. My experience: I do not agree that ibuprofen is just a placebo. It really helps, however for me it has side effects with indigestion. So I take only on rare occasions.
2. Add some heat. My experience: I agree, I it helps especially after I had to work my back harder than it likes! What helps me most? Hot baths. Full immersion is better than a heating pad.
3. Fix your posture while you’re awake and asleep. My experience: yes, but it requires a lot of concentration to remember and enforce.
4. Stay moving. My experience: sometimes it is hard to do when I am pain. The pain gets worse and I feel I am going in a wrong direction. I don’t push through pain.
5. Get moving. My experience: Yes, I have a timer to remind me to get up every hour when I work. It really makes a difference.
I completely agree with the study that says that you can take the pressure off your spine by placing a pillow under your knees. The article adds adds: “If you prefer to sleep on your side, put a pillow between your legs.”
This article from Consumer Reports provides no-nonsense summary of options for back pain. I like the factual approach of this
Stem cell surgery relieved golfer Jack Nicklaus of a lifetime of back pain. But experts say it’s too early to tell whether this treatment is for everybody.
Nicklaus experienced severe back pain. Cortisone shots provided some level of immediate relief, but the long-term pain persisted.
Now the 78-year-old is touting an experimental stem cell surgery that he says is more effective than anything else he’s tried.
The surgery, under the guidance of German scientist and physician Eckhard Alt, was performed two years ago in Munich.
The process involves liposuction to harvest fat from the abdomen. Blood vessels that contain stem cells come from this fat.
The therapy will reportedly undergo clinical trials at some point with an aim for eventual approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
But clinics that are unscrupulous could offer things like [Nicklaus’ treatment] to people without any evidence that there’s clinical benefit,” he cautioned. “The fact that one person says they got cured is not enough. It’s not enough for the practice of medicine. We cannot believe in anecdotes. In the world of medicine, you need to have a clinical trial to prove that something works.”
ERAS is a comprehensive perioperative surgical pathway protocol that involves multidisciplinary, collaborative management of patients. While ERAS protocols are gaining favor around the country, the report by this group of researchers here at the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS) 2018 Annual Meeting, is among the first to show its benefit in elective spine and nerve surgery.
Postoperative pain management is achieved by a robust opioid-sparing multimodality regimen,” she said. This includes epidural analgesia and short-acting anesthetics along with implementation of nonopioid medications: standing orders for acetaminophen, gabapentin, and local anesthetics. PCA is generally not used.
At 1 month, patients undergoing spinal and peripheral nerve surgery who were managed under the ERAS protocol had less need for opioids but achieved pain relief that was as good as that provided by opioids in the control group, the study showed.
Mazor X machine cuts back surgery time nearly in half. Along with cutting down surgery time, the new technology also saves the hospital money. Gum said patients who have had non-robotic surgery typically stay in the hospital for three to five days after a surgery. With the new machine, patients only stay overnight. The machine is also tackling a bigger issue with the opioid epidemic.
“The robot allows us to minimize incision. We strip less muscle when we’re doing a surgery in the back of the spine,” Gum said. “It allows us to place the screws a little more precise, so it takes more of the human error out of it.
“One of the goals of utilizing this technology is to be able to decrease post-op pain, which in turn helps decrease post-op narcotic use.” Gum said a patient who has had a non-robotic surgery typically will take opiate narcotics for three to four weeks, but with less muscle being stripped and smaller incisions from a robotic surgery, he said patients only need painkillers for one to two weeks.
A brand new set of recommendations for treating low back pain was published in The Lancet in March. It was compiled by a multi-disciplinary, international panel of low back pain experts.
A low back pain patient needs to understand they are not suffering a disease and that low back pain commonly resolves in time.
Some tips from Dr. Williams include:
- Must understand that bed rest is a terrible idea.
- Resume daily exercise
- Resume daily activities as soon as possible
- Limited or non-use of medication
- Limited or non-use of imaging
- Limited or non-use of surgery
- Self-management at home is a big deal
There is an inappropriate high usage of:
1. Spinal injections
5. Bed Rest
A healthy weight and regular physical activity will decrease the incidence of low back pain. Alternative care like chiropractic can go a long way toward helping low back pain while reducing the overall cost of dealing with low back pain.