What can I do to avoid back pain?
Just as you may not know that a tire on your car is out of balance until it begins to vibrate or wear unevenly, you may not know your spine is out of alignment until you feel pain. You can do much to prevent this by being aware of your body, taking care of yourself, and seeing your chiropractor – even if the pain goes away.
Be aware of your body.
Even if your back doesn’t bother you, your body can be telling you that your spine is out of alignment. Frequent headaches or beck pain, stiffness or soreness when you wake up, or shoes that wear unevenly can be signs of a problem in your spine. So can having one shoulder or hip that’s higher than the other, or feeling pain anytime you move a certain way.
Have regular spinal checkups.
Just as you need regular dental exams, you also need regular spinal exams. Early detection of wear and tear on your spine can help prevent permanent injury. Your chiropractor does physical, orthopedic (bone and muscle), and neurological (nerve) tests to check the condition of your joints, discs, and spinal nerves. Gently touching and moving your spine helps locate any muscle tightness. If your chiropractor finds a problem, he or she can recommend appropriate treatment and lifestyle changes.
Other ideas for avoiding back pain include:
· Maintain good posture.
Remember to keep your ears and shoulders centered over your hips when you sit or stand. When sitting, also be sure to support your lower back. Your chiropractor may have other suggestions for you as well.
· Exercise regularly.
Aerobic exercise strengthens your muscles and helps keep your spine flexible. Choose activities you like, such as walking briskly, cycling, or swimming. Building up to 20 to 30 minutes a day. Be sure to do warmup exercises first.
· Know and control your stressors.
Stress can strain your spine. You can’t always avoid stress, but you can learn to control it. Take time to do activities you enjoy. Spend time with people you like. Your chiropractor may have some tips for reducing stress too!
· Practice good nutrition and eat well.
Eating foods that keep you healthy may help slow spinal problems. Eat lots of fresh fruit, fresh or lightly steamed vegetables, and whole grains. Choose seafood, poultry, and low-fat or nonfat dairy products.
Possible spinal problems.
A healthy spine supports your body and lets you bend and twist your back. Injury, poor posture, overuse, or a problem from birth can put stress on the spine. This causes wear and tear on the joints where the bones (vertebrae) meet. You may have pain and stiffness, or you may have not symptoms until the spine is permanently damaged.
Possible problems with your spine include:
· Misaligned Joint
When a joint is out of position (misaligned) the bones can’t move correctly. The discs that act as cushions between the bones become stressed and may press on nerves.
· Early Degeneration
With repeated stress, a disc may thin and tear or bulge. Bony outgrowths (spurs) may develop, muscles may stretch unevenly, and nerves may become irritated.
· Advanced Degeneration
Years of stress on joints may cause discs to wear out. The nerves may become irritated, causing pain and limiting movement.
If you need treatment.
Your chiropractor is trained to improve the health of your spine. Special chiropractic methods, called adjustments, can help slow or prevent spinal problems and relive pain. During an adjustment, your chiropractor gently presses on the joints in your spine to improve range of motion, correct misalignments, and relieve pressure on nerves. Your chiropractor may also suggest other types of treatment, such as heat or ice, stretching exercises, ultrasound, massage, or traction.