If you're stumped as to what might make a nice holiday gift for a friend or family member who struggles with chronic back pain, it could be time to switch up your approach. Have you considered giving them the means for propping themselves up comfortably? Here are 4 possibilities: Pillows and Cushions for Back Pain Relief.
In 2011, a study from England compared 156 back pain patients who took yoga classes to 157 who engaged in a general fitness program.
One result was that people in the yoga group reduced more pain in the short term than did the general activity group. But after about a year, both groups were feeling better.
Some of the questions in the survey that participants filled out sought to measure pain self-efficacy. This basically means one's confidence level and belief in one's self regarding the ability to keep pain levels low using available knowledge, tools and techniques. Because the scores from both groups were about equal, it's entirely possible to conclude that any type of movement - and not just yoga - can lead to reduction in back pain.
- Read more about this and other Yoga For Back Pain Studies
- Posture Exercises
- Pilates for Back Pain
- Types of Back Exercise Programs
- Should You Hit the Gym With A Sore Back?
ST/Dystonia, a non-profit support organization for people with torticollis has just announced their 2014 annual meeting will take place in Charleston, South Carolina. Attendees will be treated to several city tours prior to the main symposium event. For more info check heir website.
Related: What is Torticollis?
An optional 5 day cruise to the Bahamas follows. If you're interested in the cruise, you must call Sam Stamps at the Cruise Corner before December 15 of this year (but other than an initial $50 deposit, you won't have to start paying until next). His number is: 864.228.2511.
Cauda equina syndrome is a rare condition that may affect some very delicate areas of your functionality.
The first thing to do when you notice cauda equina symptoms is to call your doctor. This is because if you have not yet reached the point where urinary retention accompanies your other symptoms, there may be time to save your bladder (or bowel, for that matter) from permanent damage.
Beyond that important distinction, diagnosis and treatment of cauda equina syndrome gets trickier.
Well, the holiday weekend is upon us.
You may be spending it with relatives who don't want to hear about your latest "search for the cure" adventure. I've got something for you.
Go to this VENT page and let 'er rip. The page was set up for people who have sciatica as an avenue of expression. But it's okay to post your frustrations there even if your back or neck problem is something other than sciatica. Consider this opportunity as my gift to you - at least someone is listening!
I meet many people who to me seem trapped - for years and years - with chronic pain.
Theoretically, at least, this is is not always necessary as most back pain goes away on its own by simply reducing activity levels. And chronic neck and back pain often responds really well to gentle movement or a prescribed exercise program. The key is to approach it from a place of knowledge so that you do the right thing for you body.
Related: Move Pain Out of Your Body
Along with this, research studies reveal that your relative degree of psychological well-being may influence your pain. The roles you play, any financial or family stress you endure, and your belief in your ability to resolve the pain (called self efficacy) are a few things that may factor into your recovery.
To this end, I'd like to recommend a book I've read and reviewed (Disclaimer: the author sent me a copy). The book, called Unlearn Your Pain, by Howard Shubiner, lays out 28 day program of mind-body techniques designed to get at the root of and shift chronic pain. Mind you, if you do this program, you'll likely spend a fair amount of time reviewing your life. But if you're game for a month of self assessment around the things that may keep you in pain, check out Unlearn Your Pain.
Maureen Janson Heintz
I'd like to announce a new print (only) magazine dedicated to scoliosis that will launch in 2014. It's called Scoliosis Quarterly, and there are some great perks to it.
First, if the publisher has her way, Scoliosis Quarterly will be free of ads, or will contain only a minimal number of them. I think that perk is self-explanatory.
Second, it will cover scoliosis in all its aspects, for people who live with the condition. And while it will certainly include coverage on the medical aspects, it will also take a much wider approach. Editor/publisher Maureen Janson Heintz is a dance teacher, choreographer and yoga for scoliosis specialist who, at the age of 16, was diagnosed with a significant curve. In her words:
"I did not undergo surgical or bracing treatments, but continued to study ballet and other dance forms. I've had physical limitations over the years which have taught me the importance of gaining as much knowledge as possible about scoliosis."
"In my own constant search for scoliosis information, I always felt there was no one place or resource where I could go to find a range of reliable information. As a teacher of yoga and movement for scoliosis, I found that participants in my workshops and private sessions were experiencing the same thing. Additionally, in those workshops, students would arrive with an abundance of questions that I was not capable of answering. I would go away and do my best to find a place to direct them for more information."
So that's where this new magazine is coming from. The line up of articles for the first issue is:
- The difference between carrying a backpacks or a shoulder bag
- An interview with Australian anatomist, Narelle-Carter Quinlan
- Pregnancy and scoliosis
- Surface topography (a potential replacement for x-rays)
- Running with scoliosis
- Global Scoliosis Foundation
- All about bones
To order your subscription, go to http://www.scoliosisquarterly.com.
Friday marks the 50th anniversary of the passing of President Kennedy; the news outlets are filled with stories in anticipation. Story topics span a wide range, including (but not limited to) how it happened, what they did to the car he was riding in at the time, interviews with the doctors and interns who treated him and the potential contribution to his death made by the rigid back brace Kennedy wore (it prevented him from slumping down and avoiding the 2nd bullet).
That last one got to me. Could it be that inflexible apparel was responsible for the loss of a President loved by so many? In researching the answer to this question, I happened on another story I'd like to tell; in the meanwhile, here's what I learned about the back brace and the fatal bullet: While Kennedy's inability to slump after the first bullet hit may have lead to his death from the 2nd bullet, his doctors suggested that had he survived, his ability to function, and therefore to continue to serve as President would have been too severely compromised to be feasible. (This is according to interviews with his treating physicians I watched on CBS online.)
Why Did Kennedy Need A Back Brace?
There is more than one version. One of the strongest theories suggests the story starts when he was in college, where he took a drug called desoxycolicosterone acetate (acronym DOCA) for a diagnosis of spastic colitis. (Today, spastic colitis is referred to as irritable bowel syndrome.) At the time, doctors did not know this drug caused osteoporosis. In fact, they did not know much about osteoporosis at all.
In 1943, while serving in the Navy, Kennedy sustained a very bad back injury when a Japanese destroyer rammed into his boat; one source says his rehabilitation took 8 months.
A few years later Kennedy underwent his first back surgery. Read More...
As many who contend with chronic back pain know, spinal epidural injections are often the go to medical treatment. Spinal epidurals typically involve the introduction of a steroid medication into the epidural space, which is the space around the spinal cord. Spinal epidural injections are the most common treatment for chronic low back pain.
What you may not know is even though spine specialists have been administering epidural injections to their hurting patients for decades, overall, the extensive medical research on the subject reveals only about 60% patients receiving epidurals really benefit from them. Not only that, but the evidence is not good for long term pain control using spinal epidurals. The same is true for reducing the need for back surgery.
If spinal epidural is such a ubiquitous treatment, why doesn't the research bear out its effectiveness?
Graphic Courtesy of
Researchers from Johns Hopkins University reviewed 43 randomized controlled clinical trials (these are reliable studies that compare treatments to placebo, or treatments to other treatments) to find the answer. Studies included in the review involve a total of 3641 patients whose chronic back pain was treated with epidural injection. For some, the injections delivered steroids or other analgesic medication. For others, the injection did not contain a treatment drug (only a generic substance of some kind). Still other patients received an injection, but it was not to the epidural space.
The researchers looked at outcome data for the short term (up to 12 weeks post injection). As expected, they found that epidural steroid shots were more than twice as likely to relieve pain, as compared with non-steroidal injections into muscle located near the spinal canal.
But the researchers also found that epidural injections of any kind were also twice as good as injections of steroids into nearby muscle.
What the New Data Really Means About Epidural Injections for Chronic Back Pain Relief
This new data suggests that it's not so much the steroids Read More...
Most cases of back pain are of the type that resolves itself. In fact, quite often if you just do nothing, it goes away in short order. Other times, a simple back exercise program may work wonders.
But there are also times when you need medical attention for your spine. For example, if you injure yourself, you should see someone immediately. Doing so may help you avoid a chronic back condition later. And conditions such as arthritis, scoliosis or spinal stenosis most likely warrant a doctor's supervision. But you probably knew that.
Less commonly, but certainly no less important, are the times when back pain means something other than a spinal condition. In this case, it may be something serious. My new article tells the story: Back Pain Red Flags