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Dealing with Back Ailments

Back ailments are a frequent problem within the general community. It can affect the young as much as it can affect the elderly in the population, while the demographics on particular types of back ailments may vary. There are many reasons why someone may be experiencing back pain. One such reason may be a posture syndrome, which describes a situation in which abnormal forces are being placed upon normal, healthy tissue. In this scenario, due to poor posture whether in sitting or standing, the supporting postural muscles of the spine have been continuously placed in an overstretched position. In this position, the postural musculature is weakened, and the forces necessary to hold one's self erect are transferred to other supporting structures such as the ligaments of the spine. Eventually, these structures become overstretched as well. When the muscles and ligaments of the spine become overstretched and weakened pain will usually ensue.

A person may also be suffering from back pain secondary to a sprain or strain, of the back ligamentous and muscular structures respectively. Where a postural syndrome usually develops over time and has an insidious onset, sprains and strains typically occur after a sudden, traumatic event most often as a result of poor lifting technique. When placed under certain stresses, whether while being stretched or while contracting, these injured tissues are subject to a painful response.

Back pain sometimes has associated with it radicular symptoms into the lower extremeties. This type of pain is typically the result of intervertebral disc bulging/herniation or degeneration and spinal stenosis. While a herniated disc may cause impingement upon a spinal nerve and consequent peripheral nerve pain, the disc may also be the cause of pain with no radicular symptoms present. Spinal stenosis is a degenerative change in the spine typically from arthritic changes in which the interverbral foramina, or the space through which the spinal nerve passes, narrow. In this situation, again, it is typical to have radicular symptoms into the lower extremities.

At MSI, the goal is to teach our patients good posture, proper body mechanics and workplace ergonomics so that undue stresses aren't placed upon your back in order for it to properly heal in good time. For example we teach our patients that good standing posture requires that your ears, shoulders, hips and ankles are always in line. Proper sitting ergonomics dictate that your hips and knees be bent at 90 degrees, with sufficient lumbar support. If typing at a computer, the screen should be at eye level, with arms at your sides and elbows bent to 90 degrees, and with your wrists positioned in slight extension. When writing, it is important that your head not sag forward when looking down, but instead, that you keep your chin tucked when looking down. Proper body mechanics dictates that when lifting, you keep your back in a neutral position while using your knees to lift. All these concepts are focused upon during treatment while stretching and strengthening the appropriate structures, and with use of proper modalities and manual techniques to alleviate painful signs and symptoms associated with the particular back ailment that is prohibiting you from completing your daily routine effectively and efficiently.

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