Archive for the Pain & Conditions Category

8 Tips for Traveling with Back Pain

Share

Travel with Back Pain

Traveling can be hard on your muscles, joints, and nerves. Prolonged sitting puts stress on the spine and stiffens muscles in the back and legs and lugging heavy suitcases puts you at risk for low back injuries.

These tips can help you reduce pain and stress while traveling:

  • Pack Light: Instead of packing one large, heavy suitcase, pack 2 smaller bags. This will make lifting bags into and out of the trunk of your car or overhead bins, and off of baggage carousels much easier.
  • Lift luggage in stages: Move slowly and in stages when lifting luggage into the overhead bin. In separate motions, start by lifting the bag to the armrest of the seat, then to the top of the seatback, and finally up and into the bin. Remember to reverse this pattern when you remove your luggage.
  • When lifting, never twist: Pivot your feet so that your entire body moves instead of only twisting your back. Twisting is a common cause of lower back injuries. If possible, avoid lifting all together by asking for help from a flight attendant.
  • Relief with ice and heat: Bring a Ziploc bag and ask a flight attendant for some ice or stow a cold pack in your carry on. Place between your lower back and your seat for 20 minutes to reduce inflammation caused by lower back pain. A heatable self-massage ball such as Dr. Cohen’s Acuball Kit can provide post-travel relief.
  • Move Around: Change positions occasionally when seated to help avoid leg cramps and improve circulation. Massaging your legs and calves and doing shoulder rolls will also help.  Consult your doctor for a few safe and easy hip and hamstring stretches you can do while traveling. During long flights and if possible, try to get up and walk about the cabin to stimulate blood flow and help prevent blood clots.
  • Get aisle seat: An aisle seat allows you to easily get into and out of your seat. This makes it easier for you to move about the cabin.
  • Sit with support: Airline seats are often worn out with poor lumbar support. Place a small rolled-up blanket or use an inflatable back cushion, like a Self-Inflating Back Rest, to find proper lumbar support during flight. Using a U-Shaped Travel Pillow will also provide proper support.
  • Drink water: Be sure to stay hydrated and drink plenty of water as it helps cushion and lubricate joints and muscles.

 

Exercises for Upper Back Pain

Share

Upper back pain may not be the most common spinal disorder but when it occurs it can still cause substantial pain and discomfort.  This pain can be caused through strain, poor posture, or sudden injury. Most complaints come from those who work at computers most of the day. Whatever the cause of pain, doing exercises such as these can help ease and prevent pain and discomfort:

Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more pain relief tips or visit your local Relax The Back store to speak with one of our trained associates who can offer recommendations tailored to your physical needs and abilities.

Common Neck Pain Myths Debunked

Share

Neck Pain MythsWhether a dull ache or a sharp stab, many of us will experience some form of neck pain sooner or later. Solutions for relieving pain aren’t always the most straightforward, with some people finding relief quickly and others dealing with nagging pain for longer periods of time. Below we debunk some of the more common neck pain and treatment myths.

 

 

Myth: The best way to deal with neck pain is with rest

Truth: While short periods of rest can help ease acute pain of the neck or back, doctors generally do not advise more than one to two days of bed rest. On the contrary, general inactivity and rest can cause more pain and allow for an unhealthy cycle of pain/inactivity/more pain/more inactivity to occur. Physicians recommend for most conditions a long-term rehabilitation program consisting of physical therapy and exercise.

Myth: Pain is inevitable so I should just tough it out

Truth: Chronic neck and back pain (pain lasting more than 2-3 months) is very debilitating and can interfere with one’s ability to complete daily activities. If this is the case, treatment for pain must be sought out right away. Allowing the pain to worsen and go untreated can impede the healing and rehabilitation process by interfering with exercise. There is also a risk of increased psychological distress such as depression, stress, and sleeplessness.

Myth: The spine is easily injured due to sensitive nerves

Truth: Muscles, tendons, and ligaments that surround the spine provide a great deal of support, flexibility and strength. Smoking, lack of sleep or nutrition, and other generally unhealthy factors along with poor posture and body mechanics (ex. Improper lifting techniques) can harm the spine. Proper conditioning such as stretching, aerobic exercises, and strengthening are required in keeping the spine healthy and injury-free. Proper ergonomics and neck supports, such as Dr. Riter’s Real-EaSE Neck Support, can help keep neck pain at bay.

Myth: The pain must all be in my head since the doctor found nothing wrong

Truth: Regardless of a physician finding the anatomical cause of pain, pain is always real. It is especially important to proactively seek treatment for pain if one is suffering for more than 2-3 months. It is important to look at all options, , including nonsurgical treatment options, when searching for ways to help alleviate pain.

National Physical Therapy Month & The McKenzie Method

Share

Each October, the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) commemorates National Physical Therapy Month (NPTM) as a way of recognizing the impact physical therapist assistants and physical therapists make in restoring and improving motion in people’s lives.
Earlier this year Robin McKenzie, a pioneer of musculoskeletal disorders and their treatment, passed away after a courageous battle with cancer. Robin developed the McKenzie Method of Mechanical Diagnostics and Therapy (MDT) in 1950.
The McKenzie Method is based on the idea of self-care and patients managing their own pain. The MDT system consists of the following:

  • Assessment: A well-defined algorithm leads to simple classification of spinal-related disorders and is unique to MTD. Disorders are addressed according to their unique nature with mechanical procedures utilizing movement and positions.
  • Treatment: In order to restore function and independence, minimize visits to the clinic and diminish pain quickly, MTD uniquely emphasizes active patient involvement and education.
  • Preventive measure: Educating patients to self-treat the present problem minimizes the risk of relapse and gives patients the skills to manage the pain themselves when symptoms occur.

Robin believed that self-treatment was the best way to achieve long lasting improvement of neck and back pain. MDT is recognized worldwide as a standard for management of low back pain as well as the basis on which Relax The Back was founded. Robin made great strides in the field of physical therapy and his legacy will live on through the McKenzie Institute International. You can find more information on the McKenzie Method and the McKenzie Institute International at McKenzieMDT.org.

Exercises For Low Back Pain

Share

Did you know 31 million Americans experience back pain at any given time? There are many causes of back pain but the good news is there is relief out there. While we have previously highlighted the benefits of using foam rollers for back pain, we’d like to highlight another way to relieve pain.

Among other relief methods, gentle back exercises and stretches like the ones below can help prevent and ease low back pain:

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more pain relief tips or visit one of our trained associates at a local Relax The Back store for recommendations tailored to your physical needs and abilities.

 

 

 

Office Work Habits: Chair Habits

Share

More than 50% of office workers say their chair is the #1 thing they would change. A chair that can be appropriately adjusted and one that is well designed is a vital part of any ergonomic workstation. A well-made chair should support your legs, back, and arms while reducing forceful exertions, contact stress and awkward postures.

Chairs that are made poorly can cause back pain and fatigue as well as restrict circulation in the legs and cause swelling, numbness and pain. Inappropriately adjusted armrests can cause awkward postures or fail to provide sufficient support.

Follow this ergonomic guide to avoid unnecessary strain and pain:

  • Use a removable back cushion if your chair does not have a lumbar support.
  • Consider a backrest that is easily adjustable and is able to support your back in a variety of seated postures.
  • The seat should be height adjustable and wide enough to accommodate various hip sizes.
  • If the seat is not height adjustable, providing a footrest can help elevate the knee to relieve pressure on the back of legs.
  • Use a height adjustable lumbar support so it can be appropriately placed to fit the lower back.
  • Armrests should support lower arm and allow upper arms to remain close to torso.
  • If armrests interfere with workspace or cannot be adjusted, remove them or stop using them.
  • Chairs should have a strong, five-legged base.

For more information on Ergonomic workstations and solutions, be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter, or visit your local Relax The Back store to receive a custom adjustment of the proper Ergonomic workstation.

 

Ergonomic Workstations: Office Mouse Habits

Share

 

Creating a safe computer workstation entails finding the correct mouse size and proper placement. Today there are a variety of mice, trackpads and joysticks to choose from. Not to mention different sizes, shapes and configurations.

If your mouse is not placed near your keyboard or you are using one that is an inappropriate size and shape, you may experience contact stress, forceful hand exertions, stress on the shoulder and arm and awkward postures. Being in these prolonged awkward postures and positions can cause fatigue of the shoulder, hand and arm, as well as musculoskeletal disorders and injuries.

Follow this ergonomic guide to avoid unnecessary strain and pain:

  • Allow your wrist to maintain a straight and neutral posture by having a keyboard tray or surface that is large enough to accommodate the mouse and the keyboard. If this is not the case, try one of the following:Use a mouse tray like the Clip-on Mouse Platform over or next to the keyboard
  • Use a trackpad if possible
  • Use a keypad without a 10-key pad to leave more room for the mouse
  • Install keyboard trays large enough for both the keyboard and mouse
  • Utilize a mouse pad with a wrist and palm rest to help promote neutral wrist position
  • Select a mouse designed to fit the hand you’ll be operating it with – e.g., right handed mouse for right hand use
  • Select a size that requires minimal force in order to generate movement and doesn’t require you to bend your wrist during use
  • Adjust sensitivity and speed to allow the pointer to be able to cover the full screen while your wrist maintains straight and neutral posture

For more information on Ergonomic workstations and solutions, be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter, or visit your local Relax The Back location to receive a custom adjustment of the proper Ergonomic workstation.

Ergonomic Workstations: Office Lighting Habits

Share

A vital part of the ergonomic workstation is proper lighting placement and the correct level of illumination. A bright and adjustable light can help ease eye fatigue, neck strain, and headaches in the office.

A majority of offices were not designed for computer use and lighting of the past was made for 20-40 degrees of horizontal viewing rather than the 10-25 degrees of monitor viewing we need now. Desk lamps incorrectly placed and windows behind computers can cause glare. Bright lights shining on screens can “wash out” images, which can cause you to strain your eyes to make out the objects on the screen. Having a high contrast between light and dark areas around your workstation can also cause headaches and eye fatigue.
Follow these tips to avoid unnecessary strain and pain:

  • Use adjustable lighting to illuminate your keyboard and paperwork.
  • When doing paperwork, use spot lighting to increase the brightness and reduce eyestrain and headaches.
  • Take into consideration all glare sources – windows, overhead lighting, reflection off of glass, etc.
  • Place computers at a right angle to any window.
  • Utilize lamp shades and glare shields to redirect light away from your eyes.
  • Never place lights directly behind a computer monitor.
  • Use blinds or drapes to eliminate bright outside light.

For more information on ergonomic workstations and solutions, be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter, or visit your local Relax The Back location.

Ergonomic Workstations: Office Phone Habits

Share

Placement and use of your phone at the office is an important aspect of an ergonomic workstation. Being hands-free with a headset or a loudspeaker can help prevent injury and stress.

Phones add convenience to the workspace but they can also lead to strains and injury. Repeatedly reaching for a phone placed too far away results in shoulder, arm and neck strains. If you hold your phone between your shoulder and neck for prolonged periods of time, this too, can cause neck pain and stress.

Follow this ergonomic guide to avoid unnecessary strain and pain:

  • Place your phone in a spot close to you, where you will minimize repeated reaching.
  • Use a hands-free headset if you spend a lot of time on the phone.
  • Use speakerphone, provided you are aware of the volume level and you’re considerate of any co-workers around you.

For more information on Ergonomic workstations and solutions, be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter, or visit your local Relax The Back location for a custom assessment on the proper phone placement for you.

Bad Ergonomic Workstations – What to Avoid

Share

If you are experiencing pain in the office, these habits may be the root of your pain. When sitting for long hours, it isn’t uncommon to slip into “comfortable” and “easy” positions. However, these positions could be impacting your health, work productivity and energy. A healthy ergonomic workstation is the sum of its parts – so if you’re guilty of slipping into any of these bad ergonomic workstations, you risk more than just an unproductive workday. Beyond simple office stretches that can help ease the pain, a reexamination of your workspace may be necessary. For a personal assessment, make a trip to your closest Relax The Back location and start experiencing a more productive and pain-free workday.

Bad Ergonomics Pains
 Posture
  • Hunching over your desk
  • Leaning forward towards the screen
  • Leaning back
  • Poor circulation
  • Spinal curvature
  • Spinal disc degeneration
  • Chronic back, neck and shoulder pain
  • Headaches
  • Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) pain
 Desk
  • Small or cluttered desks making it difficult to place keyboards, mice and other devices in proper range
  • Desks too short or too tall for your body height and size
  • Limited space on work surface can force awkward postures and hand exertions
  • Improper desk heights can cause shoulder, back, and neck pain
  • Contact stress which affects nerves and blood vessels with the chance of causing sore fingers and tingling
 Chair
  • Unadjusted/one-size fits all chairs
  • Little to none lumbar support
  • Unstable/prone to tipping
  • Armrests made of hard materials or with sharp corners
  • Lower back pain
  • Too high of a chair can cause restricted circulation, swelling, numbness and leg pain
  • Irritation of nerve and blood vessels in forearms which creates tingling in arm, hand, fingers
  • Unstable chairs can cause muscle
 Monitor
  • Too close or too far away
  • Hunching over laptop/mobile screens
  • Monitor tilted significantly either towards or away from you
  • Eye fatigue and strain
  • Headaches
  • Neck, shoulder, and upper back pain
 Lighting
  • Glare/shine on the display screen
  • Dark workspace with limited to no lighting
  • Working while facing a window or other light source
  • “Washed” out images can lead to eye strain/fatigue
  • Loss in visual performance
  • Headaches
 Phone
  • Cradling phone between shoulder and ear while multi-tasking
  • Overextending to reach for the phone placed on the opposite end of the desk
  • Shoulder, arm, and neck strain