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Should You Have Surgery for Back Pain?
Posted by Dr. Ben Kim on May 25, 2005
A recent study conducted by researchers at the Nuffield Orthopaedic Center in Oxford, England concluded that intensive rehabilitation for chronic lower back pain provides just as much relief as surgery at half the cost.
This study is hardly news to many physical therapists and chiropractors who work at helping people with lower back pain through natural means on a regular basis.
If you suffer with chronic lower back pain, there are several steps that you can take to find lasting relief and avoid the risks that come with surgery.
Strengthen Your Core
Chronic lower back pain is usually caused by excessive pressure on the joints of your spine. Strengthening your core muscles can help to take pressure off of these joints. You can strengthen the front of your core by doing sit-ups, crunches, or any other exercise that causes you to contract and relax your abdominal muscles. You can strengthen the back of your core by doing supermans, which involve lying on your stomach and simultaneously raising your arms, legs, and head off the floor for 1-5 seconds at a time.
As anyone who suffers with chronic lower back pain will tell you, the pain is often at its worst during a car ride. This is because there is about three times more pressure on your spinal joints when you are seated compared to when you are standing. Why is this, you ask? When you are seated, the entire weight of your upper body must be supported by your spinal joints. When you are standing, some of your upper body weight is distributed to your hips, legs, and feet. Bottom line: if you are not moving around, it is best to rest while lying down, not sitting on your bum.
Stretch Your Hamstrings
Your hamstrings, the muscles that run along the back of your thighs, climb up to attach to your sitting bones. If these muscles are tight, you will always have a downward pull on your lower back, which predisposes your lower back to strains and sprains. One of the best ways of preventing lower back problems is to stretch your hamstrings on a regular basis. But why stop with just your hamstrings? Stretching all of your major muscle groups on a regular basis will keep your muscles and ligaments healthy and help to prevent injuries. A great place to start is a beginner's yoga tape which you can borrow from your local public library.
Strive to Reach and Maintain Your Ideal Weight
There's really no explanation needed here, is there? Reach and maintain your ideal weight and your spine will be much happier.
Take Time to Relax and Reduce Stress
Physical and emotional stress cause your body to release extra cortisol, a hormone that is useful for short term emergencies, but leads to tight muscles and weak ligaments over the long term. One of the best stress management tools that I have found and personally use is EarthRain.
Make Your Blood Circulation as Healthy as Possible
Healthy blood circulation allows for optimal nourishment of your tissues and optimal removal of waste products and toxins from your tissues. The single greatest factor that influences the health of your circulation is your diet. You can read through the "Healthy Eating" section of our Web site for more guidance on designing a healthy diet for your circumstances.
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