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News: November 18, 2009

Back Pain Linked To Everyday Activites

November 18, 2009

While that occasional back pain may go away after some rest and pain medication, many back pain sufferers are not aware that everyday activities - from wearing high heels to long work hours - can repeatedly strain the spine may lead to more serious consequences later. According to White Plains based neurosurgeon Dr. Jack Stern, M.D., Ph.D., some activities that repeatedly strain the spine may eventually lead to a herniated disc that can require surgery. However, simple lifestyle changes can alleviative the strain and help avoid more serious problems later.

Long work weeks at the computer: Bad posture while slouching over the computer for 12-15 hour days - slouched shoulders, head down, rounded back - places an enormous amount of stress on the spine. Good posture keeps your body in balance and helps avoid that stress. Dr. Stern recommends taking frequent breaks from sitting and exercises that strengthen and stretch the muscles that support the spine to help maintain proper posture.

Tending the garden, raking leaves, shoveling snow, etc: Repetitive twisting, bending, improper lifting, and over-exertion can be very damaging to the back. Dr. Stern recommends that we pay attention to our body mechanics when doing these types of activities, including remembering to bend the knees and lifting heavy objects straight up in one fluid motion without twisting.

Getting to work in high-heels: While most women are aware of the havoc high heels wreck on their feet, many do not think of the consequences on their back and neck. Dr. Stern recommends limiting the time you spend in heels, choosing a lower and wider heel when shoe shopping, and getting the best fit possible by shopping for shoes in the late afternoon or evening.

Recreational sporting: Tag football, 18 holes on the golf course, a Sunday afternoon basketball game - the "weekend warrior" is very likely to cause injury to their back. Dr. Stern recommends fully warming up and stretching before jumping into the game to decrease the likelihood of a sporting injury.

Smoking: Nicotine blocks the transport of oxygen and important nutrients to the spine's discs. Starved of oxygen, the discs are much less able to repair themselves and tend to collapse at a much earlier age than is seen in non-smokers. This painful collapse can lead to chronic back pain. Moreover, should any surgery be needed, smokers have been found to have much slower healing times and a high rate of failure to heal.

Widely acclaimed as one of the world's finest neurosurgeons and a leading authority in his field, Dr. Stern has been named eight-years in a row by New York magazine as one of the area's top doctors. Dr. Stern was also named by The WAG as one of the most distinguished doctors for 2008.

Written by Dr. Jack Stern, M.D., Ph.D.



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