Lifting Heavy Could Be Bad for the Back – Even When You’re Young

Image of a young man having a back pain while sitting at the working desk

Are you the type who is always willing to help a friend with their move? Remember to know your limits and get a basic understanding of how to lift properly before you attempt to move heavy items. If you can, try wearing a back brace and bringing basic moving equipment as well – especially if you’re lifting awkward items or going up and down steps. This is the best way to ensure you don’t incur a back injury.

 

Now if you’re younger, you may not worry about back injuries as much. You’ve never felt back pain before and, even if you get injured, you’ll be able to recover much more quickly than you would when you reach middle age. Unfortunately, there are some consequences when you lift heavy items incorrectly at a young age. According to one Finnish study, young people who reported lifting things said that they suffered back pain when asked again twenty years later.

 

It appears that this behavior, over time, could weaken muscles or trigger an injury that will only become present later in life. Therefore, young individuals who participate in activities where they have to lift heavy items or are employed at a place where they must perform physically demanding tasks should take special precaution to ensure they do not suffer from debilitating back pain later in life.

 

In addition to lifting correctly and using the right equipment, young individuals should also try to maintain a physical regimen outside of the job. That way, their body is more used to the rigors of the job or an activity like moving. If you do begin to suffer from back pain of any kind, remember that most back pain is not permanent. Consult James K. Kaufman, MD today to schedule a consultation.

Common Autumn Causes for Back Pain to Avoid

Rake next to pile of fallen autumn leaves on green garden lawn, shallow depth of field

 

We are about halfway through the summer season, which means autumn is just around the corner. Although the cooler temperatures may begin to dip, your chances of experiencing back pain may go up. Whether it’s due to a particular activity, lack of activity, or how your body responds to colder temperatures, it’s important to be aware of these back pain issues so you can avoid them when you can. If you require additional assistance or begin to experience extreme back pain or other symptoms, you might want to also consider visiting a neurosurgeon like James K. Kaufman, MD.

 

Falling Leaves Could Potentially Equal Back Pain

 

The leaves begin to fall in the autumn months, which create an aesthetically-pleasing setting, but you’ll have to rake those leaves eventually. If you aren’t used to bending and twisting remember to stretch beforehand. In addition to that, always remember to keep proper form and take breaks when you need to.

 

Remember to Get Off the Couch

 

As the temperatures get cooler, the temptation to stay inside grows. This is coupled with fall programming (Walking Dead fans anyone?) and, of course, the return of football. Since it’s so easy to stay inside on the couch and eat/drink more, you’ll need to make an effort to get out there and exercise. The stronger your core muscles, the less likely you’ll injure them. Of course, if you haven’t exercised in a while, be sure to go slow to not cause or aggravate an injury.

 

Cold Weather Could Increase Back Pain

 

Did you now that the cold air can cause a drop in barometric pressure? This could in return put added pressure on joints, especially if you have experienced a prior injury. In order to avoid this, remember to dress warm and apply heating pads to any sensitive areas that are particularly painful. If the pain becomes persistent or extreme, again, don’t hesitate to visit a doctor.

 

 

Is There a ‘Right’ Sleeping Position for Your Back Pain?

 

beautiful girl sleeps in the bedroom
beautiful girl sleeps in the bedroom

Wouldn’t it be nice if your back pain went to sleep when you did? Unfortunately, this is not the case, and back pain is a frequent source of insomnia for people across the country. It’s a never ending cycle too because chronic sleeplessness could cause aches and pains as the body isn’t able to repair itself as well. If you’re tossing and turning throughout the night or your back pain is causing you to stay up late, you might be wondering whether or not one position is better than another. Should you avoid sleeping on your side? Is it okay to sleep on your back? Here are some things to keep in mind:

 

Sleep on your side with a pillow between your knees: The goal is to take as much pressure off your spine as possible. One way to do this is by putting a pillow between your knees. This puts your back in a neutral position, which means there’s little arch but it’s not completely flat either. Try to keep your knees as parallel as possible so your top leg doesn’t fall over your bottom one, which will affect your position.

 

Sleep on your back with a pillow under your knees: If you are more of a back sleeper, you might want to try this trick. It is possible to actually sleep on your back and not cause more pain. As with the tip above for side sleepers, a well-positioned pillow can do wonders to improve how you sleep. By putting a pillow under your knees, your body will be in a neutral position – again, taking pressure off the spine.

 

However, it’s important to know that sleep is much more than just about the position. There are a number of factors that affect back pain levels at night. James K. Kaufman, M.D. of Fort Worth, TX has seen patients come in who have seen improvement in sleep by changing a host of different aspects of their sleep routing.

 

Some patients may need to change their sleeping positions. For others, it could be an issue with the mattress. It could be an issue of how the patient gets on and off the bed. Finally, it could have nothing to do with the sleep routine at all and exercise and other lifestyle changes helped instead. The most important to remember is that if you do experience back pain, please see a specialist as soon as possible.

 

 

Should You Exercise When You Have Lumbar Spinal Stenosis?

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Did you know that there are more than 200,000 cases of spinal stenosis each year? A great majority of those cases will be lumbar spinal stenosis, which is attributed to the narrowing of spaces in the lower back. In fact, 75% of all cases of spinal stenosis will occur here. Symptoms of lumbar spinal stenosis could include a feeling of numbness or tingling in the legs, falling more often, or pain when walking. If you experience any of these symptoms, you should speak with a neurosurgeon like J Kevin Kaufman, M.D. to rule out any other life-threatening conditions and determine a treatment plan that best fits your individual needs.

Exercising with Lumbar Spinal Stenosis

 

If your doctor gives you the okay, you should maintain an exercise schedule to help manage the spinal condition. Lumbar spinal stenosis is typically a chronic degenerative disorder. There may be times when your symptoms improve and other times when they are exacerbated. Although it might seem counterintuitive if you have pain or stiffness, exercise might help you manage your symptoms. Exercise increases blood flow and oxygen to the lower back. It also strengthens muscles around the affected area, so less pressure is put on the lumbar spine itself.  Finally, there are universal benefits of exercise, like weight management and stress relief, which could help ease the pain as well.

 

What Kind of Exercises Should You Be Doing?

Obviously, full-contact football is out as are any activities that put too much stress on the spine. Instead, the best exercises will be lower impact ones that minimize risk but still provide a high level of activity. Walking is one exercise that should be considered. You can easily do it on your lunch break or after work, and you can always bring a friend. Another good option is swimming as it supports your weight and minimizes pressure on the spine. Finally stretching exercises and tai chi might be good options to relieve pain as well.

 

However, before you get started, always remember to consult your doctor and spine surgeon before beginning an exercise program. They may be able to offer you additional recommendations and consultation about exercising with lumbar spinal stenosis. And if you begin to experience significant levels of pain or notice new pain, stop what you’re doing and speak to your doctor to avoid further injury.

 

Get Relief from Chronic Back Pain

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Are you living with chronic back pain? Approximately 100 million Americans have some form of chronic pain, which can make performing day-to-day tasks challenging and burdensome. Fortunately, advancements in modern science have led to the development of sophisticated treatment options to provide relief from chronic pain. If exercise, physical therapy, stress management and a healthy diet are not enough to alleviate your back pain, then consider these other treatment options. Talk to a spinal neurosurgeon like Dr. James K. Kaufman MD for more information about treatment for chronic back pain.

  1. Medication. There are several different types of medication used to treat back pain. Though primarily used to treat seizures, anticonvulsants are also effective for treating chronic pain. Another option is low doses of antidepressants; these drugs regulate the levels of chemicals in the brain, such as norepinephrine and serotonin, which is believed to help control pain. Pain relief creams and sprays might also be useful, as they can help minimize the sensation of pain and reduce inflammation. For severe cases of chronic back pain, narcotics may be prescribed.
  1. Nerve Block Therapy. Nerve block therapy involves injecting a local anesthetic into a specific nerve or group of nerves to ease pain. Nerve blocks aim to block a targeted pain signal and/or decrease inflammation.
  1. Electrotherapy. Electrotherapy, such as Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS), uses low-voltage electric stimulation to relieve pain. A small, battery-powered device is placed on the skin, and its electrodes are connected to the skin on the pain area to create electrical impulses that inhibit pain signals coming from the peripheral nerves. It’s believed that the electrical stimulation helps stimulate endorphins, which are the body’s natural pain relievers.
  1. Surgery. When all else fails, you may want to consider surgery. Today there are many minimally invasive surgical procedures geared toward treating spinal injuries and back pain. Minimally invasive surgery differs from open spine surgery in that it is performed through the skin or a small incision. There are typically fewer complications associated with minimally invasive procedures, such as spinal fusion and decompression, as well as a shorter hospital stay and recovery period.

Each case of chronic back pain is unique. To determine which treatment option will be most effective for treating your pain, schedule a consultation with a spinal neurosurgeon.

 

What Could Your Back Pain Be Telling You?

As you get older, you may be noticing a few changes with your body like persistent and chronic back pain. It’s more common than you might think because it affects 8 out of 10 people according to an article from LiveScience. There are a number of reasons why you might have back pain but what could your back pain be telling you? Read on to learn some signs that back pain could be more serious than you thought.

 

Reasons Why It Happens

One of the most common reasons why back pain occurs is because of age, it’s one of those things that is more age related than not, and you might begin to notice back pain beginning around the age of 30 to 40. Besides the age factor, back pain may be due to poor physical fitness, being overweight, heredity/genetics, diseases, stress, your job and even smoking. For instance, if your job is very labor intensive which requires you to do heavy lifting/pushing, it could cause back pain. Things like arthritis and joint diseases can cause back pain – all of this just means there could be many reasons as to why it occurs.

 

At any rate, what could your back pain be telling you? It might be telling you it’s time to see a doctor. You may need to schedule a doctor’s appointment with a neurosurgeon that specializes in the spine, like Dr. James K Kaufman MD, who are trained in the diagnosis and treatment disorders of the spine, spinal cord, nerves and more. During a visit with a doctor, they may order tests like an X-ray, an MRI, a CT scan or blood test to help determine the reason behind your pain.

 

However, diagnosing the exact cause of the pain can be difficult to pin point but there are ways doctors can help alleviate the pain through various treatment methods. But, people who experience back pain need to differentiate chronic back pain from acute back pain. Acute back pain usually starts very quickly and only lasts for a few weeks – it can result from falling, lifting something heavy or being tackled during a sports game like soccer or football. When it comes to chronic back pain, it usually lasts for a much longer time period like three months plus and it less common than acute pain. Chronic back pain could come from serious trauma like a car accident or something similar.

 

Treatment Options

When it comes to your specific treatment plan, only your doctor may be able to determine that for you. Some treatment may include medication, exercise, hot or cold packs, surgery, behavior changes like not lifting heavy things, etc. The only way to have your back pain treated is to seek professional help from doctor. Are you ready to schedule a doctor’s appointment for your back pain?

What is Spinal Stenosis—Part 2

stenosis

Spinal Stenosis is a condition in which the spinal cord or the nerve bundle at the base of the spine is compressed. This can happen for several reasons, the most common of which is osteoarthritis that causes joints and connectors to swell, putting pressure on the spinal cord or nerves. As such, this condition is most common in the elderly; occasionally, however, it can affect younger people who were born with an abnormally narrow spinal canal or who were injured. Age-related disc bulging and bone spur growth can also cause the problem.

There are two main types of stenosis: lumbar and cervical. The symptoms associated with each are somewhat different, according to noted surgeon Dr. James K. Kaufman, MD, and which ones you experience will help to determine the type of stenosis you have and the course of treatment you undergo.

Lumbar Spinal Stenosis

This is, by far, the most common type of spinal stenosis and the less threatening. It happens when the nerve bundle at the base of the spine (the cauda equina) is pinched. For some people, this condition actually causes no symptoms and doesn’t have any affect; for others, the symptoms include tingling, numbness or pain in the lower back, buttocks, and legs and some difficulty walking. These symptoms will be noticeable, uncomfortable, and sometimes even a bit painful, but not usually disabling. Often, a distinguishing feature of this condition is that sitting or leaning forward will ease the pain.

Cervical Spinal Stenosis

Cervical spinal stenosis, on the other hand, can actually be dangerous to those who have it. This is because cervical spinal stenosis affects the upper back and, thus, the spinal cord itself. The spinal cord is what connects the brain to the nerves throughout your body, so anything damaging it can disable the basic command functions of your body. Cervical spinal stenosis can cause weakness, severe pain, paralysis, incontinence, and even loss of limb control.

While both types of stenosis develop over time, lumbar stenosis is much easier to live with, while cervical is much more likely to require hospitalization and surgery. As it happens, there is actually no cure for stenosis, though there are ways in which you can minimize your symptoms:

  • Exercise – Staying active keeps your muscles strong, eases some of the symptoms, and prevents you from losing more function from inactivity. Start off easy, with exercises that emphasize leaning forward and positions that are comfortable. Try to get to a level at which activities are less uncomfortable than they used to be.
  • Anti-inflammatory medications – Because the condition is often caused by osteoarthritis, a side-effect of which is swelling, over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications such as Ibuprofen can sometimes ease the pain. Keep in mind, however, that these medications can cause stomach problems when used regularly.
  • Injections – A series of steroid injections into the area surrounding the spinal cord has been known to bring some relief, though it is often temporary.
  • Surgery – This is the most drastic action that you can take when dealing with stenosis. The surgery will remove spurs and discs, and clear the area around the spinal canal of blockages and excess tissue. Like all surgeries, however, the procedure is not without risks, and should not be chosen lightly. And stenosis can recur after surgery, so choosing this option should be based on how dramatically the condition is affecting your life. For instance, if you are experiencing severe pain and your motor function is in danger, surgery may be the best option.

Spinal stenosis is no fun, but knowing more about it can help you to rule out other conditions and figure out the best course of action.

What is Stenosis?

There are several types of spinal stenosis, Lumbar Spinal Stenosis and Cervical Spinal Stenosis are just two of them.  Lumbar stenosis occurs when the spinal nerve roots are compressed in the lower back.  The effects of this are weakness or numbness in the lower back, bottom and legs.  Cervical spinal stenosis is compression of the spinal cord.  When this happens the symptoms can be extremely serious.  A few of them are major body weakness, paralysis and severe pain.  Spinal stenosis begins occurring in people who are 50 or older because it is connected to the degeneration of the spine.  As people 50 and older continue to age this degeneration continues to happen and can intensify the pain.

 

There are a lot of symptoms associated with spinal stenosis and it will depend to a degree which one you’re suffering from for what type of symptoms you’ll experience.  Lower back pain, leg numbness & tingling, walking limitations are the three most common symptoms of lumbar spinal stenosis.   When a person with spinal stenosis walks, the longer they walk the more pain they will feel.  A way to reduce this pain is by stretching forward or sitting to open the spinal canal and relieve the leg pain.

 

James K KaufSpinal Surgery Shutterstockman MD has talked about stenosis in length during his research and mentions there are two diagnostic imaging studies for patients with stenosis.  They include an MRI scan or a CT scan with myelogram.  These two scans display the compression of the spine and allow doctors to see which nerves are being compressed.  Some forms of stenosis, such as cervical foraminal stenosis, can be pinpointed by other methods.  One method is injecting the suspected nerve with a couple drops of local anesthetic and then observing whether there is a remission of the symptoms.  If there is then the patient can decide if they want to conduct surgery there.

 

There are non-surgical treatments for spinal stenosis which many patients should consider.  There are a variety of exercises available, swimming, bicycling, stretching and Tai Chi are just a few to be named.  It should also be noted, exercising while you’re still young and building muscles in your back can help reduce the effects and rate at which you experience degeneration in your back.  Besides exercise, healthy eating and not becoming overweight can help prevent the effects of stenosis.  People who are overweight put more pressure on their spine and can increase the effects of compression.  We hope with this knowledge about spinal stenosis you will now take matters into your own hands and do your best to prevent the onset of spinal stenosis so that you don’t have to suffer the pain which millions of others have had to.

Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery

Spine surgery has developed a lot over the last century.  Doctors first began trying to conduct spine surgery in the 1800s but it was primarily used in attempts at curing children of back issues they were born with.  Fast forward to the First World War and we begin to see spine surgery become more common, and as a result, advances in technique are developed.  However, even as these techniques were developed, spine surgery was still seen as more of a last resort.  By the 1970s, our medical knowledge and techniques were capable of actually providing more effective and long term treatment.  The downside at this point in time was how big of an opening needed to be made to conduct the spine surgery.  This often caused damage to the surrounding muscles and left the patient with limited mobility during recovery and often a lot of pain.

Fortunately, new technologies have given us minimally invasive spine surgery (MISS) in the last two decades.  Minimally invasive spine surgery doesn’t require a long incision to be cut which, as mentioned before, reduces damage to the muscles surrounding the spine and usually leaves a patient in far less pain than an open spine surgery would.  Due to the little amount of disturbance required by the surgery patients generally recover faster, too.

Let’s take a look at a few of the different technologies which have made minimally invasive spine surgery so viable today.

Microscopic cameras now allow doctors, like James K Kaufman MD, to cut a very tiny slit through which the miniature camera attached to a wire can be inserted and directed.  This development prevents doctors from needing to make 5-6 inch incisions and damage surrounding muscles and soft tissues in order to see the area in which they will perform the surgery.  The damage caused previously forced many patients to have lengthier hospital stays and experience new types of pain as muscles healed afterwards.

Computer guidance is the next advancement that came along with miniaturized cameras.  The ability for computers to help guide surgeons and their tools to exactly the right spot made procedures far more accurate and reduced the risk of causing damage to surrounding areas of the spine.

Tubular Refractor is a tool which allows doctors use all of the equipment mentioned above and make sure all of it is in the right place too.  The surgeon creates a small incision and inserts the tubular refractor in through the skin and soft tissues down to the spinal column.  The refractor acts as a tunnel via which the surgeon can insert the camera and tools needed to fix the problem with the spine.  Depending on the scope of the problem a surgeon sometimes has to insert more than refractor.

Thanks to these technologies and other advancements in science and medical knowledge being made on a regular basis, spine surgery has become a far more viable option for people who have tried physical therapy and other treatments which have proven ineffective.