Blog posts of '2012' 'June'

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3 Safety Tips for Every New Parent- Tuesday, June 26, 2012

3 Safety Tips for Every New Parent

As a parent, it is your duty to care for your newborn--to assure your child is safe at all times. But who is looking out for your safety--specifically, your back safety? Nearly, eighty percent of all people will experience back pain at some point in their lives. In fact, back pain causes more disability for people ages 45 and younger than any other health care problem. Caring for a newborn is difficult, but when you hurt your back during the process, it can be nearly impossible. Here are three important steps to protect your back, while caring for a newborn:

1. Pick up Children Correctly

Parents, grandparents, and daycare workers will likely agree that picking up children at some point has hurt their backs. Why? People perform it incorrectly! But don't worry, with three simple steps, you'll pick up beckoning children painlessly more times than you'll want. First, get close to the child and squat down. Then, keep your back straight, bring the child close to your body, and stand. Avoid using your back to pick up the child. If performed correctly, you've kept a neutral (straight) spine and didn't use your back to pick up the child.

2. Change a Baby's Diaper Properly

Parents of newborns know too well how often a baby's diaper needs changing. Hopefully, you're not placing unnecessary stress on your back each time you perform this important task. Use a changing surface that is high enough to prevent forward bending of your low back. However, if this is not feasible, keep your back straight, or neutral, and squat to bend forward. Work at a proper height to protect your back.

3. Properly Push a Stroller

The most important thing to consider when using a stroller is the height of the handles. When you push the stroller, the handles must be at a level that will prevent poor posture. If the handles are too low, it forces your back to bend forward, rounds your shoulders forward, and causes a forward head tilt. Avoid this. Check the handle height and ensure you are not slouched while you push the object. Keep your spine neutral (straight) throughout the task. The height of the handles should enable you to push the stroller with the force directed out of your low back. Think of your low back as the area between the bottom of your ribcage and the top of your hips.

Dr. Zumstein is the author of Secrets to Preventing Back and Neck Pain:  60 Ways to Protect Your Spine and the founder of The Back Safety and Wellness Consultants. You can find his book, information about his company, or sign up for his free newsletter at www.backsafetyandwellness.com.

REFERENCES

  1. Liebenson, Craig.  Rehabilitation of the Spine:  A Practitioners Manual.  2nd ed.  Baltimore:  Lippincott, 2007.  Print.
  2. McGill, Stuart.  Low Back Disorders:  Evidence-based Prevention and Rehabilitation.  2nd ed.  Champaign:  Human Kinetics, 2007.  Print.
  3. Oz, Mehmet, M.D. “Dr. Oz.” Time Magazine 7 Mar. 2011: 90.  Print.


How to Golf Pain-Free: 3 Tips to Preventing Pain on the Golf Course- Monday, June 18, 2012

How to Golf Pain-Free: 3 Tips to Preventing Pain on the Golf Course

It's approaching the end of spring, and summer is around the corner. I don't know about you, but for me that means it's time to get the spider webs off the golf clubs. Unfortunately for many, it also means it's time to start experiencing that back and neck pain frequently associated with golf season, too. Here are three tips to preventing pain on the golf course, so you can golf pain-free all season long:

1. SWING YOUR GOLF CLUB CORRECTLY

Relax, golfers, you don't have to change your swing-just your stance. Instead of using your back to bend forward into your golfing stance, use hip rotation. Hip rotation is a key concept in protecting your spine and is an alternative to using your back to bend. With hip rotation, you are using your hips to bend forward, not your back.

Let me explain: people typically use their backs to bend down to pick up something and to bend forward to get into their golf stance. This method is incorrect. When people use their backs to bend, they create a visible "c-shaped hump" in their back, which stresses the spine. When you bend using hip rotation, you are using your hips to rotate your back forward, instead of your back. With proper hip rotation, your back will be straight, and there will be no visible "c-shaped hump" because your back is not bending. Your hips are rotating forward and your back is going along with your hips for the ride. After successfully using your hips to rotate forward, continue with your normal swing. This tactic applies to driving the ball, chipping, and putting. Don't bend your back, rotate with your hips.

You can find further explanation, including pictures, in my book Secrets to Preventing Back and Neck Pain:  60 Ways to Protect Your Spine available at www.backsafetyandwellness.com/book

2. USE A GOLFER'S LIFT

Each time you bend down to pick up the ball or set it on a tee, use a "golfer's lift." A golfer's lift is best used for frequent bending and lifting of light items. To properly perform a golfer's lift, rotate your hips, keep your back neutral (straight), bend one of your knees, and use the unbent leg to swing behind you as a counterweight to balance yourself. Do not use the same knee to bend every time, and alternate between the left and right leg to balance. You may find it easier to hold on to something, like your golf club, for support.

3. WALK QUICKLY

Walking quickly, as opposed to a slower walking pace, leads to a shorter recovery time for low back disorders and aids in prevention of future back problems. Conversely, walking slowly may actually cause low back problems and worsen the symptoms of a current problem. Walking quickly will not only ensure you keep pace in between holes, but it will also make your back happy, too.

Dr. Zumstein is the author of Secrets to Preventing Back and Neck Pain: 60 Ways to Protect Your Spine, and the founder of The Back Safety & Wellness Consultants. You can find his book, information about his company, or sign up for his free newsletter at http://www.backsafetyandwellness.com.

ARE MRI'S OVERPRESCRIBED? Questions you should ask, and tips to know when you need one.- Monday, June 11, 2012

ARE MRI'S OVERPRESCRIBED? Questions you should ask, and tips to know when you need one.  

              Physicians have long prescribed the use of MRI’s, or magnetic resonance imaging, to assist them in accurately diagnosing and treating patients. MRI’s provide valuable information—without the use of radiation—that physical examinations may not always reveal. However, negative publicity has recently surfaced alleging that MRI’s are overprescribed and potentially causing more harm to patients than good.

                Consider:  approximately fifty percent of all middle-aged people show evidence of a partially torn rotator cuff on imaging, but never knew they had it.  Why? Because the tear doesn’t cause them pain or affect their activities of daily living. A similar study shows that ten percent of participants, who claimed to have no pain or disability, had disc degeneration or a condition known as a “spondylo” appear in images of their spine (What’s even more ironic is that people with “normal” images typically have a higher likelihood of injury than people whose images appear “abnormal.”). Doctors see these “abnormal” findings in the image report and are ready to pounce on them, whether they’re the source of the patient’s problem or not. Are imperfect MRI findings causing physicians to treat patients for injuries that aren’t the cause of their disability or pain?

                There are over 28 million MRI’s performed every year in the U.S., and they are expensive. A simple MRI of the knee can cost up to $2,000. It makes sense that an MRI scan costs so much when you figure that the price of owning an MRI machine is anywhere from $300,000 to $1 million. That’s a lot of overhead. Are physicians, who own MRI machines, unnecessarily prescribing MRI’s to recoup their costs? Are physicians, who do not own MRI machines, unnecessarily prescribing MRI’s because they receive kickbacks from the owners? Who knows? I sure don’t know, but this is something else to consider.

                There is no denying that MRI’s and other imaging are critical to the health of a patient and the efficiency of the physician. I have personally prescribed multiple MRI’s during my clinical days and don’t regret a single prescription. However, every MRI I’ve prescribed fell within two categories:  the patient suffered recent trauma or injury, or the patient didn’t show improvement after two-three weeks of conservative care. I recommend that you receive an MRI or other imaging if you fall within these two categories, as well.

                MRI’s are critical to the health care industry. They provide valuable information that is often hidden to the naked eye and ambiguous upon physical examination. However, make sure your doctor is justified in prescribing one. I recommend the following tips to help you decide when you need an MRI:

-Get a second opinion. Whenever your doctor tells you anything you are not 100% comfortable with, get a second opinion. This rule applies to imaging, too. If you don’t think you need an MRI, get a second opinion. If your second opinion tells you to get an MRI, get it.

-If you haven’t had recent trauma or injury, try conservative care first before you schedule an MRI or other imaging. Try the conservative care for 2-3 weeks. If you don’t have improvement after 2-3 weeks, get imaging.

References

  1. Kolata, Gina, “The Downside of MRI’s: Do High-Tech Imaging Scans Cause More Harm Than Good for Casual Athletes?” Men’s Journal. Apr. 2012: 52-53. Print.
  2. Liebenson, Craig.  Rehabilitation of the Spine:  A Practitioners Manual.  2nd ed.  Baltimore:  Lippincott, 2007. Print.

Dr. Zumstein is the author of Secrets to Preventing Back and Neck Pain:  60 Ways to Protect Your Spine and founder of The Back Safety & Wellness Consultants. You can find his book, information about his company, or sign up for his free newsletter at www.backsafetyandwellness.com.

3 Ways You are Hurting Your Back Everyday- Friday, June 01, 2012

3 Ways You are Hurting Your Back Everyday

     Nearly six billion people will experience back pain at some point in their lives. Unfortunately, when that many people are affected, it's usually not a matter of “if” you will have back pain but “when.” The good news is that most back pain is preventable: research estimates that nearly 85% of back injuries are from repetitive misuse. Here are three ways you are hurting your back, and how to stop:

1.      DON’T BEND THE WRONG WAY AFTER SLEEPING                   

The spine consists of discs in between each vertebra, which allow for movement and cushion. These discs are primarily made of fluid, which is lost during the day and reabsorbed while you sleep, in a process known as disc imbibition. In fact, you lose up to 19 mm of height each day from the loss of disc fluid! After lying down for 2-3 hours, the discs reabsorb their lost fluid and are at full size. When they are full size, the potential stresses placed on the discs are increased by 300%. As a result, don’t flex/bend your spine for one hour after you have rested for at least 2-3 hours. If you must bend during this time, try squatting with your back straight. Avoiding flexion the spine after 2-3 hours of sleep is a great way to protect your back. Please understand, that I’m not saying you can’t bend during these aforementioned times, I’m saying it is especially important that you bend the CORRECT way.

2.      STOP USING YOUR BACK WHEN YOU STAND UP FROM SITTING          

Standing up correctly from the seated position is one of the most important things you can do to protect your back. It is also one of the easiest. Most people use their low backs to assist them in getting up from the seated position. This is wrong! Think about how many times you get up from sitting. Every time you use your low back to stand, you are flexing (bending) your spine and placing unnecessary stress onto it. Here is the easy solution:  before you get up from sitting, scoot all the way to the edge of your seated surface, keep your back straight, and get up using your legs. This may feel strange at first, but should become second nature after a few days. One tip to get started:  use your arms to assist your legs in the process. Place your hands into fists and use them to push up off the seated surface, while using your legs. Do not place your fists on your legs. Again, at no time will you flex the low back or use it to assist you in the standing process.

     Be sure to not bend your spine—keeping it neutral, as you sit down, too. Simply reverse this standing process, and use the same technique to sit down properly.

3.      STOP PUSHING AND PULLING OBJECTS INCORRECTLY

The safest way to push or pull an object is to direct the force of the movement through your low back. I will qualify the low back as the area between the bottom of your rib cage and the top of your hips. It is within this area that you should visualize a direct line of pull going into this region or out from the low back if you are pushing.

     You may apply this same concept to opening doors. Each time you open a door, try to open the door with the force directed through the low back. People typically open doors with the force directed to the right or left of their body, which creates a twisting torque. Try directing the force of the door through your low back instead. 

Dr. Zumstein is the author of Secrets to Preventing Back and Neck Pain:  60 Ways to Protect Your Spine and founder of The Back Safety & Wellness Consultants. You can find his book, information about his company, or sign up for his free newsletter at www.backsafetyandwellness.com.