If you’re like most people, you probably don’t give your spine much thought as you plan your preferred activities or go about your daily routine. However, your back will definitely have your full attention if it’s causing enough pain to slow you down. While there’s nothing you can do to stop the natural aging process that results in changes to your spine and its various parts over the years, there are some things you can do to reduce your risk of being caught off guard by back pain.
As mentioned above, there’s nothing you can do to completely stop spinal joints and discs from being affected by gradual wear and tear. However, making an effort to get regular exercise that targets your core back-supporting muscle groups can slow down the degeneration process. Many forms of exercise can help you achieve this goal, including:
• Low-impact aerobic activities (e.g., walking, biking)
• Swimming, water aerobics, and other water-based exercises
• Yoga, Pilates, and similar disciplines that target core muscle groups in a gentler, more controlled way
Because metabolism changes with age, the unhealthy eating habits you may have had when you were younger can do more harm to your spine as you get older. A diet that includes nutrient-rich foods like leafy green veggies and certain fatty fish can minimize issues with extra pounds that could put added stress on your spine. In addition, foods and spices such as nuts, berries, ginger, and turmeric naturally fight the inflammation that can irritate nerve roots and make occasional aches and pains worse.
It’s one thing to have an occasional sore back if you overdo it when working out or while horsing around with your kids in the backyard, but it’s another thing entirely to have aches and pains that keep coming back. You’re more likely to respond well to treatment if you have small recurring issues with your spine checked out before they become major disruptions. For example, you may have a pinched nerve that can be relieved by a minimally invasive surgical decompression procedure, such as a lumbar foraminotomy. Los Angeles residents should see a spine specialist about any recurring instances of back pain
It’s also wise to err on the side of caution and get regular checkups. Even if you’re not having problems with your back, certain health issues can eventually affect your spine and its supporting parts. Your regular physician and a spine care specialist can play a role in treating many conditions that directly or indirectly affect your spine, including:
• Diabetes and/or high blood pressure
• Arthritis and osteoporosis
• Fibromyalgia and similar conditions that affect muscle strength
Certain habits can also affect the back. For instance, smoking tobacco products can affect circulation and speed up the degeneration process. Excessive alcohol consumption can produce similar results. Poor posture habits, especially ones that have gone uncorrected for many years, can have a big impact on the spine as well. Address posture problems by:
• Using an ergonomically designed chair at work
• Keeping your head directly above your shoulders when seated
• Avoiding sleep positions that throw off your spine’s natural alignment
• Not slouching or hunching forward
• Using lumbar/neck support cushions when driving or sitting for long periods
• Getting up to move as much as possible
Lastly, it’s fine to rest for a day or two if you have sudden back pain. However, this shouldn’t be the only thing you do for your back when you’re experiencing some type of discomfort. If the problem is recurring or isn’t going away, talk to your doctor or a Los Angeles spine surgeon to get an accurate diagnosis. Most people with back pain benefit from a well-rounded treatment plan that includes appropriate physical therapy techniques, medication, and personalized tips for strengthening the spine and reducing stress on its supporting muscles.
If you’re experiencing sudden, severe, or chronic spinal pain, reach out to the industry-leading spinal health experts at The Spine Institute for diagnosis and treatment. To schedule an appointment, give one of our friendly representatives a call at 310-828-7757 today.