Avoiding Spine Surgery: Five Tips
So you suffer occasional bouts with back pain. What can you do everyday to keep your spine healthy and pain free? Here are a few tips that will keep you up and moving.
Exercise is the number one builder of muscle that will keep your spine safe and functional. The problem is, when you have spine pain, the last thing you want to do is exercise. Muscle spasms are a chief contributor to spine pain. Rest and activity restriction is the best medicine when having a spasm. But when you’re not in an active spasm, a simple daily regimen of stretches and exercises designed to strengthen back muscles and get your blood flowing is the best path to long-term spine health. Stretching and walking are great. Or try water aerobics to exercise while taking pressure off your spine.
A healthy diet plays a big role in spine health and is the best way to feed your body and control weight. Eat fresh wholesome foods. Processed foods and junk food that are high in sugar or fat can contribute to the inflammation in your spine. A healthy diet will also help you maintain a healthy weight, which ensures you aren’t overstressing your spine.
Physical therapy is similar to exercise in that it promotes muscle development, but physical therapy specifically targets the problem area(s) of your back. Physical therapy is great for conditions like bulging discs or sciatic pain, because it works to relieve compression or pressure in the area. Talk to your doctor about specific physical therapy exercises you should begin for your condition, and don’t just do them during your session at the clinic. Make time to perform some low-impact physical therapy exercises each day.
Try these simple exercises:
- Lie on your back. Bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor or bed. Gently lift your buttocks a few inches off the floor toward the ceiling. Just a few inches! No more. Do 10 repetitions. Rest, and repeat for three sets. Do this each morning before you rise.
- Lie on your back and hug your knees to your chest. Gently roll side to side just a few inches to massage and stretch your lumbar back area.
- From a standing position, bend at the waist with your fingers reaching for the floor. Go only as far as your body naturally permits. Now just hang there – and breathe naturally for one minute. With each breath, let your back and legs relax and stretch. Do not actively reach or stretch for the floor. Let the weight of your upper body create the weight that naturally stretches your legs and back. After one minute, return to a standing position. Repeat three times.
Injections can be very helpful at calming pain from an irritated or compressed nerve. You and your doctor can decide what is best for you among a variety of available pain injections. You’ll need to pinpoint exactly what is causing your pain before moving forward with an injection. Cortisone shots do not typically offer full relief but can provide short-term and some long-term relief depending on the cause of your pain.
If your back pain is the result of an alignment issue, chiropractic or massage may be able to help you realign your spine and avoid an unnecessary surgery. These therapy techniques can help with disc alignment issues and pinched nerves. Work with your spine specialist to determine the appropriateness of these remedies.