Low back pain is a common complaint for many when they visit their family physicians; however, new guidelines have been released by the American College of Physicians regarding treatment for back pain.
These guidelines emphasize that non-drug therapies, such as Chiropractic, must be the primary source of care for a patient. A medical doctor must recommend alternative therapies rather than invasive surgeries or prescription medication. A lower back pain chiropractor will select treatment plans with the fewest harms and lowest costs as opposed to pharmacologic therapies or surgery.
A back pain chiropractor will use gentle spinal manipulation, mobilization, stretching and other modalities such as acupuncture and ultra-sound to treat lower back pain. A chiropractor may also make recommendations for the do’s and don’ts at home so you may continue repair, heal and prevent further strain even after leaving the clinic.
Acute lower back pain can typically last for approximately four weeks, whereas chronic back pain may last for twelve weeks or more. A back pain chiropractor has the tools and training to treat both scenarios non-invasively and return a patient to their optimum level of comfort and mobility. Treatments such as drug therapies and surgery may not be permanent and put a heavy strain on the health care system, therefore chiropractic is considered the most effective and efficient form of treatment for lower back pain.
Eighty-eight percent of Ontario Chiropractors report that gardening is the most common source of back pain, therefore seeking treatment from a top Burlington Chiropractor and taking preventative measures are important steps to take during the warm weather season.
Although gardening is a great full- body workout, all the bending, pulling and twisting may take a toll on the joints and muscles. Visiting Edgar Family Chiropractic on Pearl for regular spinal check-ups can support a healthy back and help you learn the right techniques for gardening. Back injuries and stiffness related to gardening can affect anyone but are more common if you do not usually participate in physical activities, you do not practice the right techniques in the garden, or you have a previous back problem.
Your Burlington Chiropractor is a highly educated, musculoskeletal expert and can teach you injury prevention strategies such as warming up your muscles before you start, keeping hydrated and making sure you have the right tools for the task at hand. Additional preventative measures include sharing heavy loads, kneeling to plant/weed and alternating between light and heavy jobs. Taking breaks and changing positions frequently is also important so as to avoid muscle strain and repetition whilst gardening. With careful attention to your body and its alignment, gardening can be a therapeutic and enjoyable experience for all.
When looking at the stats, it seems like our backs secretly hate us! In every six month period, five in every 10 people surveyed suffered from low back pain. And if this isn’t enough, up to 85% of working people can expect to experience low back pain during their lifetime. 85%!
Over the next couple of years, these numbers are expected to rise even further! Now, why is this? Thanks to the combination of increasingly sedentary lifestyles both at work and at home, our society as a whole are becoming more inactive. You would think that sleeping should bring some relief to this pain, however, often the discomfort does not diminish during the night when we lie down. Since our joints aren’t typically moving during the night, there is less blood flow to those areas and therefore less repair is occurring during the nighttime hours. In addition, if the joints are remaining still during the night in bad posture, this can have a very detrimental effect on your back pain! There is definitely no one size fits all for sleeping and back pain because there are so many types of conditions associated with it!
Sleeping Positions And Back Pain
If you’ve ever waken up with a tweaked back, you know that it can really offset the start to your day. The key to waking up pain-free could be as simple as how you sleep. Whether you are a side, back or stomach sleeper, here are a few easy tips that could protect your back and have you waking up pain-free again!
If You’re A Stomach Sleeper
Sleeping on your stomach is a known position to contribute to back pain. Now, why is this? Well sleeping in this position provides very little support for your back and allows your spine to hyper-extend or cave in. On top of this, you are forced to sleep with your neck fully twisted in one direction or the other to allow for proper breathing. This position puts unnecessary stress on your muscles and joints and should be avoided if possible. However, if you are unable to change positions, a pillow placed under your pelvis can help to further support your back. If this is uncomfortable, rotating slightly to the side using a thin pillow may help to alleviate the discomfort.
If you’re A Back Sleeper
When you sleep on your back, there is a lot of extra stress placed on the discs of your lower spine. There is a natural curve in the lower spine called lumbar lordosis which is just a reference to the natural forward curve of the lower back. The pitfall of sleeping on your back is that this natural curve slowly flattens out throughout the night. A very easy way to fix this, however, is by placing a pillow under the knees. The placement of this pillow will promote the natural forward curve of the spine while allowing the spine to relax.
The other factor to consider is the type and size of the pillow that you are using to support your neck and head. The pillow should never be fatter than the distance from your neck to your shoulder. Any larger than this puts your neck in a state of flexion which has been seen to exacerbate neck, shoulder and even headache pain.
To promote the necks natural lordotic curve, similar to that of the lower back, it is helpful to support it using anything from a rolled up towel, to a cervical roll pillow. You don’t need to use anything pricey, but this addition will help to support and maintain your natural neck posture.
If you’re A Side Sleeper
In general, the majority of people tend to gravitate towards sleeping on their sides. This can often cause pain as well, different from what we see with stomach or back sleepers, but pain all the same. The difference with sleeping on your side is that the top leg often slides forward which causes the lower portion of your spine to rotate. On top of this, often the top shoulder rotates forward as well forcing the spine into even more torsion. The great thing with sleeping on your side is that there is a very easy fix to the problems mentioned above. By simply placing either a regular sized pillow or a body pillow between the knees, it will help to keep the body in proper alignment.
If you are a side sleeper, the pillow you use for your head will be slightly thicker and more firm then what you would use if sleeping on your back. It should be thick enough to take up the distance from your ear to the bed while keeping your neck in a neutral position. This is very important as it will reduce the pressure on your neck.
No Matter What Type Of Sleeper You Are
If you are someone who suffers from chronic back pain, use heat to your advantage. It will help to relax those low back muscles and help to remove some of the tension. There is a time, however, when heat is not appropriate to use and may even cause further worsening of symptoms and that is when the injury is acute. In this case, use ice. Heat will increase the inflammation and will actually worsen the pain!
Come Visit Us at Edgar Family Chiropractic
If you find that you continue to wake up in the morning with back pain even after adjusting the pillow you sleep with, come see us at the clinic. One of our chiropractors, Dr. Maja or Cameron Edgar will be able to provide treatment and walk you through additional options!
Many of us lead busy lives that include a lot of computer work (both at our place of employment and also at home).
We also spend many hours looking down at our phones and other mobile devices. This overstretches the ligaments in our necks and upper backs. Ligaments are the holding elements that hold our bones and joints together. When ligaments are overstretched for long periods of time (like when we are in one position for too long without taking a break), micro-tearing can occur. This micro-trauma can then create inflammation as well as tightening and weakening of the surrounding muscles and finally a loss of motion in the joints. This is why over time we start to feel tightness, discomfort/pain and lack of motion in our mid-back and neck. Left untreated, this can even lead to a permanent change in the alignment of the spine and cause abnormal flattening of the cervical and thoracic curves. There are several ways to combat repetitive strain.
The first way to reduce repetitive strain injury is to take frequent breaks from being on the computer or mobile device. Even a two-minute break every 30 minutes is sufficient enough. It can be as simple as getting a drink of water or taking a bathroom break. Even better would be to simply stand up and just do a few quick neck stretches as you take your small break. One other thing that can be done at work is to make sure that your work station is set up properly so that you are not craning your neck in only one direction or looking too far down while looking at the computer screen.
Another way to reduce repetitive strain injury is to see someone for therapy (such as a chiropractor, massage therapist, physiotherapist). If you are already at the point where you have pain, tightness and discomfort, and a lack or motion, the therapist will be able to help the affected areas to heal faster and then provide you with advice on how to stay healthy and out of pain. If you are not yet experiencing symptoms, it might still be valuable to see these professionals for advice and maintenance care in order to prevent injury in the future. At Edgar Family Chiropractic, we treat people with repetitive strain injuries many times daily. First, we work to reduce pain and inflammation, then we loosen up the muscles, we make sure the joints are moving well and then we help to strengthen weak muscles in order to prevent future injury. All of this leads to less discomfort, better posture and more awareness on how to prevent future injury.
One more way to reduce the effects of repetitive strain is to ensure that while we sleep, our muscles, joints, and ligaments are getting proper and effective rest. We spend almost half of our life sleeping and it is important that we maintain good alignment in our neck during sleep. Many of us sleep on fluffy, flat pillows that provide very little support for our necks or stack multiple pillows in an effort to create more support. Instead of waking up rested, we are waking up stiff and in pain. There are many options for pillows that provide good support for the neck. Everyone is different in what pillow suits them best but as long as it provides enough support to ensure that the curve in the neck is in a neutral position when we are laying down either on our side or back then it doesn’t matter what the pillow looks like or what brand it is. At Edgar Family Chiropractic we carry two different types of pillows that have a great track record of working well for people of different sizes and needs. We provide loaner pillows so that patients can make sure that they are getting the right pillow for them.
Summary: When it comes to repetitive strain, it is something that is hard to avoid but easy to treat and prevent. Frequent breaks at work that include simple stretches, therapy to reduce discomfort, and a good supportive pillow are all ways to reduce your chances of developing a repetitive strain injury.
This is a question that we answer many times throughout the day and we enjoy answering it because there is a definitive solution to correcting posture.
We say ‘definitely” but not easy. To improve your posture there are several steps that need to happen. You need to have good muscle flexibility, you need to have good motion in your joints, you need to have strong postural muscles and a balance of muscles on both sides on the spine and finally, you need to have awareness of your posture and how to correct it.
As chiropractors, we are best suited to take your through each step of the process. Since we are musculoskeletal specialists, it means we can work with you to correct muscular imbalances that can include muscles that are too tight or too weak or muscles that have scar tissue in them as a result of a previous injury. We are also able to assess the integrity and motion of your joints to make sure they are moving well. We use a variety of techniques to accomplish the above.
When all the hands-on corrections are completed, we do an in-depth analysis of which muscles need to be strengthened and which need to be stretched in order to create an individualized “exercise program” to ensure your posture will improve. Most of the programs are tailored to busy schedules and try to incorporate small modifications and light stretches that can be done throughout the day so that they are easier to complete. Too many exercises that are difficult in nature do not yield good results and often people will stop doing them. But small modifications and easy exercises that can be done throughout the day (at your desk, in the car, while washing dishes etc) will be the ones that will stick with people for longer periods of time. We find that once our patients understand why they have poor posture and once they are given the tools as to how to correct it, they are always successful. The awareness of what poor posture is and how to correct is something that helps patients for the rest of their life because once the awareness is created; it is hard to go back to having poor posture.
Dr. Maja Edgar and Dr. Cameron Edgar are a husband and wife team of chiropractors working at Edgar Family Chiropractic in Burlington Ontario. They believe in a multi-modal approach to treatment that includes muscle therapy, joint mobilizations, use of physiotherapy modalities (including medical acupuncture) and exercise prescription to bring balance and #healing to the body. They treat conditions such as low back pain, neck pain, Migraine Headache Treatment, sports injuries, arthritic conditions, and chronic pain among many others. They are also joined in their clinic by a professional team consisting of a Registered Massage Therapist (Laura Crino) and a Naturopathic Doctor (Dr. Andrea Maxim). For further questions, they can be reached at their clinic at 289-337-1202.
Our chiropractic clinic is located in the heart of Downtown Burlington, and we have a team of very experienced and knowledgeable professionals who are very committed to providing the highest quality of care.