Our motto here at the Back Place is that back pain is about more than just your back, it’s about your whole life. Anybody who has ever had back pain realizes this on some level. This is why it is so important for us to encourage our customers to chat with us about their life – family, routines, stresses, etc. I find it extremely important to take time to talk about anything from the weather to grandchildren so I can listen closely for clues that will help me recommend the best roads to relief.
Back pain is caused by more than just a pinch in your musculature, it’s also about what’s pinching you in your daily life.
Let me give you an example. John is under the care of a good chiropractor, and he’s been told that he has a herniated disc. John operates a popular business in town that keeps him on his feet all day with little movement, so he came to me to explore ways to alleviate back pain, help heal his herniated disc and to prevent new injuries to his spine down the road. I showed him our inversion table and my zero gravity chair, and while he was relaxing and trying out the equipment, we started chatting about his business, and his family. In the course of our conversation, he told me that he was planning a 3-week, 2000 mile road trip with his family. What I knew, and what he didn’t think about, was that driving or riding in a car goes from uncomfortable to painful very quickly for people with herniated discs, particularly for tall people like John. So we took a look at his car together and “souped up” his ride with everything he needed to keep him comfortable during his road trip. We adjusted the seat itself, but he still needed to add a lumbar support cushion and a seat wedge to achieve the best position for him and his spine. He told me that out of all of the professionals he’d talked to about his back, I was the first person who had asked about his life, and in the process, had learned about his upcoming road trip. As a result of our conversation, he was now equipped with the knowledge, positions and habits that he needed to keep him more comfortable during his trip. This is a good thing for him, his wife and their five children as they prepare to hit the road this summer!
I would be happy to listen to your situation too – leave a comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
When setting up your workstation keep in mind these main principles of ergonomics:
1. Work in neutral postures. Meaning, maintain the natural S-curve of your back and be sure your arms are in a resting position at your side.
2. Reduce excessive forces.
3. Keep everything you need within an easy reach.
4. Work at proper heights.
5. Reduce excessive motions.
6. Minimize static load. This means, try to keep moving as much as possible and avoid doing the same task in the same position for too long. By working muscles differently you will reduce fatigue.
7. Minimize pressure points.
8. Provide clearance.
9. Move, exercise and stretch.
10. Maintain a comfortable environment.
11. Make displays and controls understandable.
12. Reduce stress.
Our back and neck problems are as individual as we are and I learn something from each and every person who comes to me asking for products or advice. I believe you will learn something too.
Mark worked for a large corporation for years before he decided to become a consultant and work from his home office. After three years of working in an office he had thrown together over a weekend, he was experiencing significant pain and had been referred by his physician to a physical therapist. I met Mark when his PT sent him to me for a new office chair. Long story short, not only did I fit him for a new chair, we worked together to change his office so he would be able to use all the healthy features of his new chair. Mark’s pain is gone, he is no longer under medical care and he is correctly using his body and his office environment to avoid negative stress on his spine. He is fortunate that the three years he spent causing injury to his spine does not seem to have become chronic or created any permanent damage.
Lesson #1: Transitioning to a home office requires expert advice and proper planning to maintain a strong and healthy spine.
This was news to me: Degenerative disc disease (DDD) isn’t a disease at all, but rather a part of the normal aging of the spine. (So why do they call it a disease, anyway? More bad press for aging! Why couldn’t it be termed Normal Disc Development or something more positive-neutral like that?)
DDD is one of the most common causes of back and neck pain, and also one of the most misunderstood. What’s happening, according to experts at www.Spine-Health.com and spineuniverse.com, is that the discs (the pillow-like pads between the bones) start losing their cushioning. The collagen structure of the outer portion of your disc—the annulus fibrosus—weakens. The degenerative process also affects the water content in your discs. With DDD, the water-attracting molecules in your discs decrease, making your discs become more stiff and rigid, which restricts movement.
DDD in the lumbar area can trigger chronic or acute low back pain that worsens when sitting, lifting, bending or twisting. Pain is lessened when walking, running, lying down or just changing positions. If you’re dealing with DDD pain, many experts recommend the McKenzie Method, developed by Robin McKenzie. And McKenzie himself recommends postural supports, stating: “A poor sitting posture will frequently enhance and always perpetuate the problems in patients suffering from low back pain.” He goes on to recommend the use of a back rest support to help maintain the lumbar lordosis and prevent sitting strain, according to Kim Christensen, D.C., D.A.C.R.B., C.C.S.P. “The use of external supports to reduce excessive biomechanical forces on the lumbar spine is a significant treatment approach, [and] it is one which is frequently overlooked by practitioners,” writes Christensen. “Postural supports for sitting (postural back rests or ischial lifts for chairs and car seats), standing (such as custom foot orthotics and heel lifts) and sleeping (mattresses and pillows) can greatly assist in the management of lumbar spine conditions.”
So, while your physical therapist may recommend specific exercises and stretches for DDD, don’t overlook the relief that a well-designed pillow or a comfortable therapeutic chair cushion can offer.