OH MY ACHING BACK! DECIPHERING THE TRUTH BEHIND THE MYTHS, CURES, AND OLD WIVES TALES

//OH MY ACHING BACK! DECIPHERING THE TRUTH BEHIND THE MYTHS, CURES, AND OLD WIVES TALES

OH MY ACHING BACK! DECIPHERING THE TRUTH BEHIND THE MYTHS, CURES, AND OLD WIVES TALES

how-to-treat-back-pain-722x406In the interest of honesty, I have to admit that my back has bothered me a time or two in the past.  Nothing to cry about, you understand, sciatica my doctor mumbled once while suggesting over-the-counter pain relievers.  This holiday season, however, between decorating, shopping, and celebrating – my New Year’s culminated into a painful beginning.

OK, so yes, I felt something wasn’t quite right.  But slowing down or, God forbid, stopping wasn’t an option.  And when it came down to wearing those priceless, gold, spike-heeled shoes on New Year’s Eve, I carried on with only a slight hesitation.  (They had gold zippers, ladies!)  Try not to judge – I’m only 5 feet tall and require the extra height not to get trampled in crowds.

For me, New Year’s morning was like a scene from The Wizard of Oz.  I’d be willing to bet most of you are thinking I stuck with the shoe theme and will mention Dorothy’s ruby reds (be still my heart!).   Sadly, my reference is of the Tin Man who was left to rust in the forest and can move only enough to bellow, “Oil Can!”  My husband instantly grasped the meaning, but couldn’t resist an eye roll.

What was I to do?  It was a major holiday and even with my exceptionally high pain tolerance, a trip to the bathroom seemed like a hike to the moon.  My head was spinning with advice from my neighbors and friends which prompted my only logical course of action – schlep like Quasimodo to my computer and consult the internet!

According to the experts, about 80% of all Americans can expect to experience back pain at some time during their lives.  It is the leading cause of disability in men over 45 and the 2nd most common reason that we visit our primary care doctors.  What’s more, back pain is the 3rd most frequent reason for surgical procedures and the 5th most frequent cause of hospitalizations.

Unfortunately, intermingled with reams of helpful information online, are also common misconceptions, myths, and old wives tales.

Here are some of the best (or worst):

1.  Myth:  You should always get a massage.

In some cases a massage can help but in others it can hurt, depending on the cause of the pain.

2.  Myth:  Severe back pain can result in paralysis.

In most cases, back pain does not usually indicate a problem leading to paralysis except in rare cases of spine tumors, spinal infections, and unstable spine fractures.

3.  Myth:  Stretching relieves back pain.

If you are unsure of the cause, stretching can cause more damage.  More so if the nerve is inflamed.

4.  Myth:  It’s best to lie down until the pain goes away.

Bed rest in not recommended, but you should reduce normal physical activities if you wish to recover more quickly.  Bed rest can actually slow your recovery.

5.  Myth:  A hot bath reduces back inflammation.

As soothing as it sounds, surrounding inflamed muscles in hot water can actually make an acute injury worse.  Generally, it is better to apply ice for 15 to 20 minutes (but not directly on the skin).  (Or take the bath anyway and hold your head under the hot water for about 15 to 20 minutes. – Of course I’m kidding!)

6.  Myth:  A fitness ball is better than an office chair for your back.

Fitness balls are a way to engage your core muscles.  It’s important to find a ball that is the correct size, to practice proper posture, and if you’re me – not to shoot yourself across the room the first time you answer the phone.  Their lack of support can be less than ideal.

7.  Myth:  Most back pain eventually requires surgery

Untrue.  Most back problems are treated with non-operative measures, such as activity modification, anti-inflammatory medications and physical therapy.  Activity modifications typically include avoiding twisting motions, prolonged sitting, and heavy lifting.

8.  Myth:  Severe back pain correlates to the level of back damage.

With acute pain, the level of pain correlates to the level of damage.  However, with chronic back pain, the amount of pain does not typically correlate the amount of damage.

9.  Myth:  An MRI scan or other diagnostic test is needed to diagnose my back problem.

Most health professionals can develop a successful treatment approach based on a thorough medical history and physical exam.  Only specific symptom patterns in a minority of cases indicate the need for scans or other sophisticated test.

OLD WIVES TALES

Some people still believe that drinking cod liver oil will help with back pain.  It has been known to reduce joint pain, so should your back pain stem from arthritis – possibly this is for you.  (Personally, I’d have to mix it with tequila to kill the taste.  Then I’m sure it would work!)

Another Old wives tale is to use a Mustard Poultice.  For those of us born before the turn of the last century, a poultice is a soft, moist mass of cloth (this one would be steeped in mustard) that is applied hot as a medicament to the body.  Then I guess you should just put me in a bun and throw me on the grill before my dog gets a whiff of me.

The article that made my dart board, came from HEALTH.  Under the headline of “Managing Your Pain, I found, “4 Surprising Cures for Back Pain.”  As the pain took over my back, grabbed my buttock, and ran down my leg, the only thing that surprised me was the nerve that they had to print it.

Tell me what you think

Cure #1 =  Take yoga classes for 12 weeks.

3 months of sitting on a mat?  I’m having a hard time sitting for more than 5 minutes at a time.   Is the mat resting on a bed of cannabis?

Cure #2 = 10 Weeks of weekly massage.

Personally, my back hurt too much to be touched.  Even if it was Brad Pitt – naked – holding a puppy.

Cure #3 = Acupuncture

Make sure they’re sharp and then stick them in my eyes.

Cure #4 = Talk Therapy

They say people taking part in a group of cognitive behavior therapy for 3 months showed improvement.  Seriously – 3 months?  It sounds like a 12 step program to me – from which I would need a 12 step program- then a bail bondsman.

The most helpful site I found was from Dennis at MySciaticaExercises.com.  At no charge to you. he will send you his Sciatica Guide and printable, easy to follow stretches and exercises.  I thank you. Dennis.

Sooner than later, you should resort to calling a doctor.  Be it your primary care, an orthopedic, a chiropractor, or Dr. Bombay.  The choice is yours.  We’ve already consulted the rest of the world, we may as well ask a professional.

Good Health to us all!

Write me a comment!  And – pick up a copy of my romantic suspense novel, ABSOLUTE RECALL, available everywhere!

FROM THE POINT       Always, Lori Flynn

 

 

 

 

By | 2016-01-26T13:53:22+00:00 January 11th, 2016|Uncategorized|0 Comments

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