Back Pain – Is it a Tumor?

by LMatthews on January 21, 2015

spinal cancer back pain symptomsSpinal cancer is not the typical diagnosis when back pain strikes, but there are some symptoms that are red flags for a tumor or tumors in the spine. Spotting cancer early gives you the best chance of success, but due to the varying symptoms of cancer in the spine, and the relatively frequent occurrence of uncomplicated back pain, many people are not diagnosed until a tumor has already become quite large or metastasised.

If back pain persists, worsens, and is unresponsive to rest and conservative treatment, and is accompanied by the following symptoms, it is definitely time to talk to your physician about tests for cancer. Continue reading “Back Pain – Is it a Tumor?” »

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Pain Management Options for Spinal Stenosis

by admin on January 19, 2015

Freelance article by Helen Burns

Spinal stenosis is a very common ailment for people the world over and the pain can range from uncomfortable to intolerable. No matter what level of pain you experience with spinal stenosis, you will undoubtedly be in search of a way to treat it. Naturally, as it is such a common occurrence, there are a number of different treatment methods that you can try out yourself ranging from medication to more holistic approaches. We would, however, recommend you get advice from a qualified doctor before trying out any of these treatments on your own as every patient must be evaluated on an individual basis and in the context of their own underlying health, age, and activity level. Having said that, the treatments listed below have been claimed by many sufferers of varying degrees of spinal stenosis to help relieve their symptoms.

Medicinal treatment for spinal stenosischiropractic for spinal stenosis back and leg pain

There are many different medicines commonly prescribed to relieve the symptoms of spinal stenosis. These include Acetaminophen, which is a powerful pain reliever that does not reduce inflammation, and less powerful anti-inflammatory drugs (or NSAIDs), such as naproxen and ibuprofen, which relieve pain and reduce inflammation. The main problem with painkillers such as those listed above is that they only relieve pain temporarily and may not even work in the case of chronic pain. If the spinal stenosis is on going, there is also the risk of becoming addicted to prescription medicines, which will require it’s own expert treatment. Many sufferers worried about taking too many prescription drugs are now looking to alternative methods of therapy.

The benefits of exercising over medication

Joints in the spine are just like joints everywhere in the body – they need to move in order to prevent seizing up and the supporting muscles wasting away. Exercise is an important part of rehabilitation for sufferers of spinal stenosis. The best thing to do is to find exercises that you can easily do and that are enjoyable. Here are a few reasons why you should exercise if you suffer from back pain:

  • Exercising increases blood flow to the back, bringing it nutrients and washing out toxins.
  • The muscles around the spine will strengthen over time providing much needed support and taking the pressure off of more static structures.
  • Exercising will keep you flexible, preventing the tightening of muscles that can worsen the symptoms of spinal stenosis
  • Regular exercise will also help you maintain a healthy weight. Carrying excess weight can put tremendous pressure on your spine.

With all its benefits, exercise is not any recommended to sufferers of spinal stenosis but to anyone who wishes to ward of the symptoms before they occur. In the short term, however, before the muscles become used to it, spinal stenosis symptoms can often worsen after exercise. If this occurs you should treat it with ice.

Ice treatment for spinal stenosis

Placing ice or an ice pack on the lower back is a very common way to reduce inflammation that can occur after movement or exercise. Icing the area of pain also numbs the affected area and brings temporary pain relief. You don’t necessarily need to invest in expensive medical equipment for this task- a bag of frozen peas will work just as well. Apply the ice pack to the area for roughly ten minute at a time. However, if there is a lack of sensation when icing, you should leave the area alone to avoid damaging the skin. An alternative an contrasting treatment for pain is heat treatment.

Heat treatment for spinal stenosis

If the pain is derived from muscles that are too tight, applying a heat pack can encourage them too relax and loosen off. Heat will also stimulate blood flow, which accelerates the healing process. Again, there is not much need in investing in expensive equipment if you have a hot water bottle lying around the house.

Conclusion

For temporary pain relief from spinal stenosis, medication is not the only option. An increasing number of people are becoming wary of the health implications of taking prescription medicines over a long period of time and are opting for other ways to treat pain. Many shop bought painkillers are not good to take all the time and for chronic sufferers they may not have any benefit at all. Regular gentle exercise, ice treatment to reduce swelling and heat treatment to increase blood flow and relax the muscles can be a safer alternative.

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peripheral neuropathy and quantum theory for pain reliefWhat could quantum theory have to do with nerve pain? Well, according to a presentation given at the American Academy of Pain Management (AAPM) 25th Annual Clinical Meeting, quite a lot, actually. Whether this new direction for pain management will end up benefiting those with pain resulting from spinal stenosis remains to be seen, but it sure looks promising as a way of kicking the painkillers. Continue reading “Nerve Pain and Quantum Theory – How a New Pain Management Protocol Could Revolutionise Peripheral Neuropathy Treatment” »

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epidural steroids and diabetes in spinal stenosisEpidural steroid injections for back pain have long been a popular way of treating spinal stenosis related to inflammation in the lumbar spine. The safety of these injections has, especially in the past couple of years, been called into question numerous times, and one such concern is the documented effect on blood glucose that occurs after epidural steroid injections. Continue reading “Do You Need a Lower Epidural Steroid Dose if You Have Diabetes?” »

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ssris falls and fracture risk in spinal stenosis elderlyAccording to a new study, hypnotic sleep medications and SSRIs may increase the risk of osteoporotic and hip fractures in older adults. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are a popular type of antidepressant and, as back pain is often associated with depression, those with spinal stenosis may be particularly at risk of this complication. Continue reading “Antidepressants May Increase Your Risk of Spinal Fracture” »

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fMRI brain in pain In the near future, doctors may be better able to decide which chronic lower back pain patients can safely be prescribed opiates for pain relief. Opioid related overdoses, and problems of opioid addiction are on the rise in the US, but as chronic back pain is also increasingly common this leaves physicians in something of a quandary over appropriate treatment. Finding a way to predict who is likely to respond well to opioids, or respond well to interventions for opioid addiction, could change the way chronic back pain is treated. Continue reading “Predicting Addiction – How Brain Scans Could Predict Risk of Opioid Addiction for Chronic Lower Back Pain Patients” »

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sodium smoking rheumatoid arthritis riskMany people develop spinal stenosis as a result of osteoarthritis but rheumatoid arthritis can also cause spinal narrowing, trapped nerves and spinal cord compression. Avoiding autoimmune disease is far from easy but new research from Sweden suggests that smokers would do well to avoid eating a diet high in salt if they wish to reduce their risk of rheumatoid arthritis. Continue reading “Rheumatoid Arthritis Risk More than Doubled in Smokers with High Sodium Intake” »

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Chiropractic Treatment Benefits Back-Related Leg Pain

by LMatthews on September 20, 2014

chiropractic for spinal stenosis back and leg painAn article published in the Annals of Internal Medicine this month concluded that home exercise and advice was more effective when combined with spinal manipulation for leg pain related to spinal problems. The study, which took place in Minnesota and Iowa, involved 192 patients with back-related leg pain, a common symptom of spinal stenosis, that had lasted for at least 4 weeks. Continue reading “Chiropractic Treatment Benefits Back-Related Leg Pain” »

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sit-stand workstation for back pain reliefStaying active is one of the best ways to help reduce your risk of back pain and help alleviate pain itself. Incorporating more exercise into your day can seem like a real challenge though when work, school, kids, partners and everything else makes claims on your time. A new study suggests a fairly simple solution: alternating between 30 minutes of standing and 30 minutes of sitting down at work. Does it really help relieve back pain, and will it harm your productivity?

This latest research, courtesy of scientists in Australia, found that office workers who spent a week switching between working standing up and working sitting down for half hour periods felt less tired and had reduced back pain and lower leg pain compared to when they spent the whole day sitting at their desks. Earlier studies have found that office workers spend around 75% of their day sitting in a chair, which has a significant effect on the risk of a variety of ailments, including back pain, cardiovascular disease and even diabetes.

The focus of this back pain study was two-pronged, with the researchers looking not only at the ability of this routine to relieve pain but also its potential effect on productivity. As any office manager knows, having your employees take a break every half hour to do jumping jacks or get some fresh air can really cut into available work time, while having people sit in a poorly lit, stuffy office all day is also detrimental to productivity (and health!).

The researchers recruited 17 men and 6 women and randomly assigned them to either spend their workday sitting or alternate between sitting and standing. Both groups used an electric adjustable-height workstation such as the Ergotron WorkFit-S 33-341-200 Dual Sit-Stand Workstation and the work desk was adjusted in height during standing and sitting periods. Participants wore physical activity monitors so that their sitting, standing and walking times could be recorded. The office workers were largely middle-aged (average age 48) and as the researchers were interested in the effects of being sedentary on markers for cardiovascular disease and diabetes, they recruited 15 overweight, and 8 obese participants. The routine was followed for five work days and then the roles were reversed during a second work week.

Questionnaires were filled out at the end of the working weeks to assess levels of fatigue, musculoskeletal comfort, and how productive they felt they had been. The workers also noted how well they liked the adjustable workstation. Those who switched between sitting and standing reported higher enjoyment (81/100) when using the workstation, compared to 64/100 in the seated workers.

Switching between standing and sitting resulted in an average fatigue score of 52.7, compared to 67.8 when sitting all day. Scores over 66 were considered higher than what a healthy person would feel. The sit-stand group had 32% fewer musculoskeletal symptoms in the lower back and 14% fewer in their ankles and feet compared to when sitting all day.

Focus and concentration were better during the days when people worked sitting down, but productivity was actually higher in those alternating between sitting and standing. Those in the sit-stand group also tended to be less impatient, and less irritable than those sitting all day. The decrease in fatigue reported when sitting and standing may also translate to increased productivity over time, and the reduced incidence of back pain and leg pain may also help workers to minimise sick days over the longer term.


How to Get More Exercise in Your Average Work-Day

This may be the first study to show clear improvements in back pain, leg pain, and fatigue, following well-documented reductions in sedentary behaviour in office workers. Standing is increasingly seen to be better for health than sitting, while moving around is even better than standing. This can seem tricky to do in an office setting but simply things can increase physical activity during the day, such as:

  • Walking to talk to a colleague, instead of emailing or calling
  • Using the stairs instead of escalators and elevators
  • Heading further afield for lunch
  • Standing up and walking around during a phone call
  • Having meetings standing up or even walking around a courtyard outside
  • Switching after-work drinks for a squash game, jog, or yoga class

Standing up and moving around during the work day can help decrease metabolic factors associated with increased inflammation, aid circulation for better tissue oxygenation and nourishment, improve emotional well-being, reduce pain, and also help prevent overtaxing of certain muscle groups that may lead to back pain, neck pain or other pain condition. Over time, increased activity also appears to reduce the likelihood of undesirable changes in bones and ligaments that may lead to spinal stenosis and back pain.

Reference

Thorp AA, Kingwell BA, Owen N, Dunstan DW. (2014). Breaking up workplace sitting time with intermittent standing bouts improves fatigue and musculoskeletal discomfort in overweight/obese office workers. Occup Environ Med. 2014 Aug 28. pii: oemed-2014-102348. doi: 10.1136/oemed-2014-102348. [Epub ahead of print].

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Top Five Reasons People See an Osteopath

by LMatthews on September 7, 2014

reasons to see an osteopath back painYou might think that osteopaths are just for spines and knees and so forth but many people choose to consult an osteopath rather than their family physician for a range of health concerns. In fact, a new study carried out in Quebec, Canada, has found that musculoskeletal pain only accounts for 61.9% of consultations, so what are the other top reasons for people checking in with their osteo? Continue reading “Top Five Reasons People See an Osteopath” »

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