An Important Treatment Recommendation for Patients
Don't Ignore Your Doctor
There can be some very polarizing opinions from the public on what the “right” treatment is for back pain. At one end of the spectrum, you have those quick to judge others for choosing a surgical treatment based on their physician’s recommendations. At the other end, you have those quick to judge physicians for prescribing what might seem like not “enough” treatment. While I’ve written at length about the rationale for surgery in very specific cases, I do want to touch upon the notion of “enough” when it comes to less-invasive treatment recommendations.
The truth is this – we doctors want the most successful treatment for patients – one that will achieve the highest level of function, while restoring each patient to long-term, pain-free living. And we want all of that to happen while exposing the patient to the least amount of risk. For those patients facing chronic back pain for the first time in their lives, some of these treatment recommendations may seem too simplistic. But I assure you, if you listen to your doctor and give them a shot, you might find just the relief you need.
Lose Weight – Easier said than done for some, this back pain treatment recommendation is one of the most successful and least risky options to start with. Depending on your height, your spine was engineered to carry only a certain amount of weight. Going over that threshold, even by just 10 pounds, can elicit a string of negative reactions in your spine which can lead to debilitating pain and serious injury. Start small. Begin shaving off calories here and there and start moving more than you normally do. The scale and your spine might begin seeing the benefits in no time.
Quit Smoking – Recent studies have shown a correlation between smoking and development of lower back pain. The theory is that this has largely to do with the vascular changes that occur when a person smokes. These changes can affect the way the discs and spinal joints function. Bottom line – smoking is bad for your overall health and it’s bad for your back. If you smoke, talk to your doctor TODAY about programs designed to help you quit.
Move More – Some back pain patients think because they are at a “normal” weight, that specific exercise treatments won’t help them find relief. Nothing could be further from the truth. A strong core protects your spine and just because you’re slender, it doesn’t mean your core is strong. Focus on strength training exercises designed to support the abdominal muscles, upper body and lower body. Helping your body evenly distribute the everyday weight-bearing activities you engage in will go a long way toward alleviating and preventing future spine trauma and injuries.
Stress Less – This might seem like one of those global recommendations from every doctor, but it deserves attention. Especially when it comes to your spine, tension can cause back muscles to seize up, eventually resulting in possibly persistent pain. The causes of the tension may be many, but learning effective ways of coping and relieving it can be all that you need for pain relief. Meditation, yoga, a long walk and many other options are available to help you clear your mind and relieve your spine. Try just one. You might be surprised at how much it helps.
If you’ve got an upcoming back pain appointment with your doctor, please head into it with an open mind. If you’ve chosen a physician whom you believe has your health, safety and best interests at heart, listen to what he or she has to say about treatment options. And by all means, when those recommendations are given, please don’t ignore them.