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Steps to a healthier, pain-free back

11 steps to a healthier, pain-free back

Unlike many preventative health measures, spine health may be pushed to the backburner until a patient actually experiences back or neck pain.

“There are hundreds of muscles in the back, and they work together in a very fine balance. If you put stress on the body asymmetrically, you will develop pain and dysfunction of the spine,” said Roger H. Frankel, M.D., a neurosurgeon at the Piedmont Spine Center.

Wear and tear on the spine can be related to aging, poor ergonomics and even their career path.

“Certain occupations are more prone to spine problems, like construction workers and nurses,” says Hardage. “We are also seeing patients now have problems because of the way their computer station is set up.”

Preventing Spine Injury

“Weak core muscles can cause a cascade of events that can result in arthritis, bone spurs and pressure on nerves,” said David Benglis, M.D., a neurosurgeon at the Piedmont Spine Clinic.

To prevent spine problems in the first place, incorporate the following tips into your life: 

  1. Make exercise a daily ritual – especially exercises that strength core muscles. Studies have shown that yoga and Pilates promote overall spine health and strengthen your core. If you already suffer from back pain, choose low-impact cardiovascular activities, such as elliptical training, swimming and bicycling.
  2. Maintain good posture whether sitting or standing. Have an ergonomically-friendly workspace and keep your body well-aligned at all times.
  3. Buy shoes that are balanced, flexible and comfortable. Shoes should cup the heel and support the arch, while cushioning the sole.
  4. Apply heat therapy to soothe spinal discomfort.
  5. Purchase a good mattress that provides support for the natural curves and alignment of the spine. Buy a pillow that maintains a height of 4 to 6 inches and that properly supports the head and neck.
  6. Follow a healthy, balanced diet with a focus on calcium and protein.
  7. Maintain a proper weight. Additional body weight increases the strain on your spine.
  8. Stop smoking.
  9. Lift objects carefully by bending at your knees, not your waist.
  10. Reduce your stress levels. Too much stress can cause your muscles to tighten, which can contribute to irritation in your back and neck.
  11. Talk with your doctor about conservative treatment options, such as massage therapy, physical therapy and spinal manipulation.

 “Prevention is much better than a cure, so if people can take care of their spine every day – not just days when they have back and neck pain – that is the best approach to maintaining spine health,” says Hardage. “Don’t wait for back pain to show up to look after your spine.”

For more information about spine health, visit the Piedmont Spine Center.

Need to make an appointment with a Piedmont physician? Save time, book online.

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