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Back Pain


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Is Back Pain Slowing You Down?


"Back Pain", the mind numbing problem that some statistics say up to 80% of Americans will experience. Then National Academy of Sports Medicine actually states that up to 30% of Americans are in back pain at any one time! So, how do you get better? How should you manage it? Where do you get help?

How do you get better?

First, you need to take control. Do not count on someone else to fix your problem. Educate yourself about your condition. Seek advice from your doctor for Medical Back Information, chiropractor for Chiropractic Information, physical therapist for Physical Therapy Information or a personal trainer for Personal Training Information. There are many specialty clinics that work with back pain patients. I can tell you that after 20 years of working in health and fitness that most people with pain can change their situation. I have seen it. You need to believe it! Being lazy and not getting into a program will get you nowhere fast. In fact, it will make matters worse for most back pain sufferers. There are billions of dollars spent each year on back and neck pain. I am confident that much of that can be reduced just by educating yourself and being proactive.

How Should you Manage Back or Neck Pain?

Managing back and neck pain almost always involves exercise. Avoid becoming a statistic. When you're in pain most people begin with rest, stay in bed, or over time become more and more sedentary. This is a huge mistake. The vicious cycle of weight gain, de-conditioning, increased pain, weakness, less energy for family, work and recreation will destroy your zest for life. Keep moving! Is moving around the house enough? NO it isn't. A corrective strategy to help you balance strength (stability) and mobility is the key. In most cases people need to strengthen key muscles. These muscles are generally different from one person to the next. A Jump Start Muscle Activation MAT information assessment is a good place to start. I am confident that a sound strategy for managing back pain requires exercise and specifically strengthening the correct areas.

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Where do I get help?

Do you have friends that have worked with a Doctor, Chiropractor, Therapist, or Personal Trainer? Ask what kind of help they got from working with them? Keep in mind there are many opinions as to how to approach your pain. As a Personal Trainer I always start with a comprehensive review of your health history, exercise history and Muscle Activation assessment. More general movement screenings are also used in many cases. The information regarding your body can then be used to manage your exercise program and recommendations. Seek the professional advice you feel is best. If a Personal Trainer is something you want to look into, you can contact me at brian@optimalhealthperformance. com. Look to future blogs for some of the common exercises used for general mechanical pain issues.

What is a Degenerative Disc?

Well, basically a degenerative disc is one that has lost its' thickness and level of hydration. Think of a jelly donut, yes... a donut. When you first bought the donut is was plump and delicious looking, full of jelly, maintaining its' height and shape. Then a terrible thing happened. Something heavy was placed on top of your wonderful jelly donut smashing all the jelly out and taking that 12 inch delicious donut into a 18 inch pile of demolished sugar and flour... I know poor food analogy, but I bet you got a good visual!

In your body you have a spine consisting of 7 cervical vertebrae (neck), 12 thoracic vertebrae (trunk), 5 lumbar vertebrae (low back), 5 sacral vertebrae (back side of pelvis), and 4 coccyx bones at the base of the spine. From your neck down to L5-S1 you have discs at each level that act as a cushion to the spine and back allowing for more motion. Discs are made up of elastic fibrous like materials that in a healthy back allow you to bend, twist right and left, side bend, and bend backwards! Over time, one can develop tears in the cartilage like rings within the disk that can lead to the middle jelly (nucleus pulpous) to protrude or bulge through the weak area of the disk. I could get into more fancy names and so on, but I will not bore you today.

Understand that even at rest gravity is constantly having an impact (pressure or compression) on your spine. The posterior (backwards) stress on a disc can be up to 5x normal just with sitting for prolonged periods of time. Ligaments that support you can only do so much! The rest needs to be done by your bony structure and your muscles! The more your muscles can not support the structure (i.e. vertebrae, discs etc.) the more likely one is to end up with muscle related pain or if really unlucky disc related pain. When pain is disc related one can have a tear, bulge, protrusion, inflammation or herniation. All of these are ultimately responsible for loss of hydration and thickness of a disc. Some therapist subscribe to a theory called "Disc in Evolution". This simply means most people develop injuries or changes to the disc overtime. This then leads up to an event that ultimately causes pain. (Specifics of which are beyond this article) .

After acute pain is under control and you have approval from your physician, therapist, or Chiropractor, you can proceed with appropriate exercise. This can at the very least help slow down and manage further aggressive pain. Yes, getting more fit and doing appropriate exercise can make a difference. As we age, some progression of degeneration and a lessening disc thickness is normal. However, due to occupation, injury or de-conditioning and being overweight many will end up with more degenerative disc (thinner disc) problems than normal healthily adults. For more questions you can contact me at brian@optimalhealthperformance.com or at http://www.optimalhealthperformance.com.previewdns.com/ .

What about Chiropractic Care?

Well, it is about time I talk about chiropractic. For those of you who do not know, I used to work in a chiropractic office for about 8 years prior to working at LTF! I worked in a clinic that had a multidisciplinary approach to treating musculoskeletal pain. I have seen Chiropractic do some amazing things for many people and at times have limited effect in so far as pain control. (Even though there many other benefits) . I do believe science strongly supports chiropractic care! Studies by major universities and the U.S. government have proven the efficacy of chiropractic in treatment of back and neck pain. Every year more and more research supports the chiropractic art which has been second guessed for many years by the Medical profession for its lack of supporting research. People that doubt, either have not experienced treatment or are uneducated as to its benefits.

So, what is chiropractic?

Chiropractic is a health care discipline which emphasizes the inherent recuperative power of the body to heal itself without the use of drugs and surgery. The practice of chiropractic focuses on the relationship between structure (primarily the spine) and function (as coordinated by the nervous system) and how that relationship affects the preservation and restoration of health.

How Chiropractic Differs From Traditional Medicine?

There is a significant and very important difference between the way chiropractors and medical doctors approach health ailments. Chiropractors take a holistic approach which includes identifying and correcting the cause(s) of the patient's health ailment. Correcting the cause of the problem provides significant long-term benefits over only treating the symptoms.

What Chiropractors Do?

Practically speaking, chiropractors are primarily concerned with locating and treating vertebral subluxations (nerve impingement syndromes).

A vertebral subluxation is a complex of functional and/or structural and/or pathological articular (joint) changes that compromise neural integrity and may influence organ system function and general health.

Using a number of unique and highly refined skills, the chiropractor checks the patients' spine for any misalignment's, fixations or other abnormalities (vertebral subluxations). If subluxations or other abnormalities are detected, the chiropractor will generally apply a gentle force in a corrective manner to the affected spinal area.

Chiropractors use many specialized techniques to identify and treat these spinal abnormalities and optimize overall health.

In addition to spinal adjusting techniques, soft tissue techniques such as massage, dietary and nutritional counseling, and lifestyle modification programs are commonly employed.

If your're interested in getting in touch with a Chiropractor or getting more information please look to the following sources: http://www.drmarla.com/ Dr. Marla Faye has been my treating Chiropractor since I have been working in Eagan and does a fabulous job!
 

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