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It is estimated that 80 percent of adults will experience back pain at some point in their lives (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke). There are a lot of factors that can lead to people experiencing back pain.
Age and Weight
Age is something that often leads to an increased amount of back pain. When people get old, their body often gradually starts to wear out. Thus, it is important to try to limit the breakdown of the body by staying as healthy as possible. Weight is an added stress to the spine, which often leads to back pain. Maintaining a healthy weight is a good way to minimize some of that potential pain.
Some people have a lot of physical strain in their jobs. Employees who have a lot of lifting and twisting will often lead to back pain. However, people who sit at a desk all day without adequate back support will often eventually start to feel the pain too. It is important to remember to stretch and walk around to give your spine a break if you are constantly sitting down all day or straining your spine.
Many people think that as long as they get out and exercise that it can limit their back pain. While exercise is important, it is important to be careful. Many “weekend warriors” do not exercise during the week and then do the strenuous activity on the weekend, which can cause pain to the spine. It is important to remain active throughout the week as well. Swimming is often a good option for those already suffering from back or neck pain. Also, always remember to stretch before and after to help reduce extra muscle tension and improve mobility.
People constantly hear the phrase, “Lift with your legs, not your back.” However, many people do not really know what that means. Be sure to stand as close to the object as possible. With bended knees, make your arms level with the top of the item. Then, be sure to keep your back straight and head down. Some things might be harder to do this with than others, so do not be afraid to ask for help. These tips will help limit some awkward twisting or pulling of your spine that often occurs with the improper lifting of objects.
How You Sleep
How people sleep can have an impact on back pain too. It is not only a matter of how one lays but making sure to get enough sleep so the whole body may be well-rested is important. Sleeping on one side is typically considered better than sleeping on the stomach. This method reduces some of the pressure on the spine that occurs when someone is on their stomach. It is recommended to have a pillow between the legs for this method, to increase support. It also can help with breathing and apnea, which often force people to awaken in the night. The more people are awake during the night, the less rested they will be in the morning.
Sleeping on one’s back with proper support under the knees to help with the natural curve of the spine is typically considered the best sleeping position for a healthy spine. Having proper neck and back support with pillows and mattresses are also important in helping with back pain. However, if people already have some back conditions, like a herniated disc, for instance, then a specialist might suggest a different sleeping position to help reduce pain and to open the spinal joints.
One simple thing that can help maintain a healthy spine is staying hydrated. This is a small thing that can help the disks in the spine maintain their height, which minimizes the chance of bulging disks and lessens the pressure on the spine.
Contact a Specialist
It is good for someone to see a specialist if they have back pain. Spine specialists can help come up with a customized treatment plan to help diagnose the current issue, find methods to reduce pain, and give suggestions on other ways to prevent some future back pain.
Dr. Ricart is a Board Certified, fellowship-trained spine doctor. He is fluent in both Spanish and English and is accepting new patients in both Omaha and Council Bluffs. If you’re having issues with your spine then maybe it’s time to give Dr. Ricart a visit!
Contact Miller Orthopedic Specialists to have our specialists help relieve your back pain!
A lumbar disc herniation, commonly called a slipped disc, is one of the most common causes of lower back pain and leg pain. It is a problem with one of the cushions in your spine. Think of the disc as a shock absorber between two bones (vertebrae); the center of the cushion is a gel-like material (nucleus) surrounded by a fibrous, tougher material (annulus).
Whenever the annulus breaks or fails, the gel material (nucleus) goes into the spinal canal where your spinal cord and/or nerves are. Since there’s very limited space, the nucleus acts as a mass, causing pressure on a very sensitive tissue.
A disc herniation can happen at any point in your life but is more common between the ages of 35 and 50 years old. Men have a higher risk compared to women, as well as other risk factors: obesity, smoker, family history, physical work, etc.
Symptoms of a Herniated Disc
The classic symptom of a herniated disc is pain down one leg or both. This pain can go from your buttocks or groin area, all the way down to the bottom of your foot. It depends mostly on which nerve is pinched in your lumbar spine. Other symptoms can be:
- burning sensation
- muscle weakness
- bowel and bladder issues
Do You Need Orthopedic Surgery?
Remarkably, not every herniated disc will cause pain and many patients learn they have one after a routine imaging study for an unrelated condition. Most symptomatic cases can be resolved without the need for surgery; recent studies have shown that a course of pain and anti-inflammatory medication paired with physical therapy can help treat the vast majority of cases. Other options include short periods of rest, steroid injections, daily activity changes, etc. Your doctor can help you understand and better explain your condition.
If nonsurgical treatment fails, your doctor may recommend surgery to remove the herniated portion of the disc. Lumbar microdiscectomy is a minimally invasive procedure performed to relieve pressure on your nerves, alleviating the pain, helping restore normal sensation; thus avoiding worsening or permanent nerve damage. This procedure is performed in an outpatient basis, allowing patients to go home the same day.
Contact Miller Orthopedic Specialists Today!
People experiencing low back and/or leg pain should consult with an orthopedic specialist to evaluate, diagnose and elaborate a treatment plan that is both beneficial and appropriate for each patient, in order to improve quality of life.
To speak with an orthopedic surgeon today, contact Miller Orthopedic Specialists! We have locations in both Omaha and Council Bluffs and can help you feel more yourself in no time.
Your Back Pain May Be From Sciatica
Sciatica is a condition you’ve probably heard about, it’s a painful, annoying condition where you experience pain that radiates down from your lower back, hips, buttocks and down your leg, but only on one side of your body. Sometimes your feet and toes feel tingly and numb. You may even feel shooting, electrical pains going up and down the back or the outside of your thighs and calves.
Sciatica is a term used to describe the symptoms you experience if you have a pinched or compressed sciatic nerve on one side of your body. The two sciatic nerves, one on each side of the body, run down the lengths of your legs. The sciatic nerves are the human body’s largest and longest nerves. These two sciatica nerves connect the spinal cord to the leg muscles of the thigh and lower leg, including the outside of the thigh and the hamstrings (where sciatica pain symptoms are often felt). Each sciatica branches out to the entire leg and foot, and is responsible for controlling the motor and sensory function of each leg.
The most likely cause of your sciatica pain is the pinching of a highly sensitive sciatic nerve root by a nearby herniated or slipped disc in your lower back. When one spinal vertebra slips over another, the protruding segment of bone can impinge one of the sciatica nerve roots in the area. This pinching creates inflammation and irritation, which is responsible for a set of symptoms you’ll recognize as prickling, numbness, pain, and possibly weakness of the leg and foot.
More often than not, if your sciatica symptoms are caused by a slipped disc they will resolve on their own with minimal treatment. If your pain doesn’t improve, your doctor might suggest some conservative treatment like anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxants, physical therapy or even steroid injections. Surgery is an option if the compressed nerve causes significant weakness or when pain progressively worsens or doesn’t improve with other therapies. Since sciatica is a symptom, not a disease, it can be a sign of another underlying spinal condition that may need specific treatment: for example, sciatica can be caused by degenerative disc disease, spinal stenosis, or spondylolisthesis.
The bottom line: if you have sciatica pain, weakness, or numbness, don’t assume it’s a minor annoyance that will go away on its own; a visit to a doctor is needed to diagnose your symptoms and to gauge whether a more serious problem may be the cause of your nerve impairment.
Have back pain that radiates from your lower back and creeps down your leg? Miller Orthopedic in Omaha and Council Bluffs has orthopedic doctors that can help. Contact us today to find your specialist.
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