Articles in Category: General Health

Curbing the Low Back Pain while Driving

on Thursday, 24 January 2019. Posted in Newsletters, General Health, Chiropractic

Low Back Pain while Driving

You are not alone if driving, especially for long periods or through heavy traffic make your back, neck and shoulders stiff.

While these days car seats are more “adjustable friendly'' than before, often still they do not have enough lumbar support and the proper seat angles to take the pressure off your spine.

This then encourages poor low back posture, which in a cascade of events then stresses the mid back and neck at the same time.

If your work requires you to drive for long periods, then you are definitely more vulnerable to this problem.

How Do You Fight Against a Flawed Design?

The answer to this is WORK WITH WHAT WE CAN CONTROL.

STEP 1: START FROM SCRATCH

Push your seat as far back as possible. If the steering wheel is adjustable, bring it high and close to the driver.

Drop the seat height and cushion to their lowest and the seat's backrest reclined back to 30 degrees.

STEP 2: SEAT DISTANCE FROM PEDALS

 

Slowly move the seat forward one notch at a time until you find a comfortable position allowing your leg to have good control over the pedals (ideally the knees should not be over bent).

STEP 3: BACKREST AND CUSHION HEIGHT

 

Again, recline the backrest one notch at a time until your back feels supported. Make sure it is not excessively declined because this will interrupt the driver's field of vision.

As for the cushion height, the rule of thumb is “Knees LOWER or at the SAME height as your Hips”.

This can be a bit tricky because most cushions are in an inclined position making the knees sit higher than the hips (which is not what we want). Bring it up to the point where your knees are at the same height as your hips. Then, sit on a cushion or a rolled up towel to help lift the hips up higher than the knees relieving some of the pressure in the lower back.

STEP 4: STEERING WHEEL

 

Move the steering wheel to a distance where your wrist is comfortably resting on it at 10 and 3 o’clock position with a slightly bent elbow.

It should also be adjusted to a height where the controls are clearly viewed and not touching your legs while driving.

STEP 5: GET OUT OF THE CAR

 

This is probably the simplest thing anyone can do if the back is hurting when driving. Yes. Get out of the car and take a short 5-10 minute walk ideally at each hour of driving.

Studies have shown that the likelihood of a back hurting sitting in a car verse an office chair is a lot higher due to the vibration of the vehicle whilst driving as more strain is inflicted on the spine as a whole.

So, do your back a favour and get that car seat set up right!

 

Written By Iris Tan
B.App Sc (Chiropractic)
M.Clin Chiropractic

Degenerative Low Back Pain

Written by Don Williams BSc, MChiro, ICSSD. on Wednesday, 23 September 2015. Posted in General Health, Ergonomics

Degenerative Low Back Pain

By Don Williams

B.Sc., M.Chiro., ICSSD., PG Dip. NMS Rehabilitation,

Cert. DNS. Memb: CAA. FICS, CEA.

 

Low back pain is an extremely common problem impacting on a huge proportion of our population.

Statistics suggest that 80% of society will suffer back pain in their lives and in any given year, almost 60% of the working population will miss at least 1 day of work due to back pain.

 

But what causes back pain and how do we address it?

 

There are many different structures within our back, neck and body which can cause pain, including; the intervertebral disc, muscles, ligaments and facet (or zygopophyseal) joints. These are simply the basic musculoskeletal structures, however, sometimes back pain can be referred from internal organs, some common culprits are; uterine fibroids in females, bowel obstructions, kidney infections, aortic aneurysms, gall stones, stomach ulcers and malignancies or cancers.

 

Obviously, it is important when you have back pain to have it thoroughly assessed to identify whether it is a musculoskeletal complaint or whether it is a referred problem or something more sinister.

 

If the problem is musculoskeletal then there may be a range of treatment options available; Including Acupuncture, Chiropractic, Remedial Massage, Exercise or Physiotherapy. Some people will find heat or ice may help and some people will respond to pharmaceuticals. In fact, if you believe some of the advertisements on Television (with celebrity swimmers posing as experts) you could be forgiven for thinking that drugs will in fact cure that back pain, rather than the reality of which they will mask the pain until the body has recovered.

 

Certain presentations or complaints seem to respond well to different intervention strategies.

What works for one person will not always work for the next person. Good practitioners should have a range of available strategies to apply based on the response of the patient.

 

We sometimes have patients present to our clinic who have been told that they have “Arthritis”, or a “Degenerative Back” and they will have to live with it, however rarely is back pain this simple. We know that in clinical presentations, the amount or level of degeneration is not well correlated with the amount of back pain people experience. This simply means, sometimes people have awful degeneration and no pain and sometimes people have great xrays with no degeneration and lots of pain. If you have been given a diagnosis of, “it is arthritis and you will have to live with it”, then seek a second opinion. You may be able to have treatment which will significantly reduce or even eliminate your pain.

 

 Degenerative Spine         Healthy Spine

                            Degenerative Spine                                                            Healthy Spine

 

There are a number of different types of arthritis which can influence or affect the spine, broadly categorised into inflammatory arthritis (such as Rheumatoid Arthritis) and Degenerative arthritis.

Inflammatory arthritis can be quite problematic. Although the disease process is not directly treatable my musculoskeletal practitioners, the normal mechanical pain and dysfunction can still be treated.

Degenerative arthritis is the process in which wear and tear over a period of time causes the joints to degenerate. This can result in stiffness or a reduction in the range of motion.  This will often respond quite well to treatment. The biggest question generally surrounds the issue of whether the degeneration has actually been there for a period of time and the pain is as a result of an overload or injury which has triggered the reaction or whether the body has hit a tipping point in which the degeneration has built up to a degree that the body is not going to tolerate it anymore.

 

Everyone starts to degenerate when they reach adulthood. Essentially there is an age correlated expectation for the amount of degeneration that we have. Issue may arise when we degenerate more quickly than expected, or when this degenerative change starts to impact on the nerve and spinal cord. The interesting thing about degenerative compression of the nerves is that the signs and symptoms are somewhat different than those we see from an abrupt episode of compression or a disc injury. This is thought to be as a result of the body’s innate ability to adapt to change and degeneration.

 

Generally speaking, the more degeneration is present, the more conservative treatment is. Just because you have advanced degenerative change does not mean you cannot have conservative treatment. Skilled practitioners will always assess your presentation and will apply treatment that takes your history and presentation into account.  People with significant degeneration may be contraindicated for certain treatment methods, which will normally be discussed at the time of treatment.

The unfortunate circumstance is that people who don’t respond well or not at all often face quite aggressive intervention and surgery, which is of course a last resort when all else has failed.

 

If you have been told that you have “arthritis”, or “spinal degeneration”, then all is not necessarily lost, they may still be conservative strategies that work for you.

Dehydration and Its Effect on Your Body

on Monday, 21 January 2019. Posted in Massage, Newsletters, General Health

Dehydration and Its Effect on Your Body

The human body is comprised of approximately 60% water; when you think about your body as a whole, you can appreciate the importance water has for every function. Water is responsible for keeping organs and body systems working efficiently; therefore, it is important to ensure you are drinking adequate amounts of water daily.

I know that, but why? That's a good question...

Your body loses water through day to day functioning, when you breathe, digest, sweat and menstruate. Physical activities, pregnancy or illness can also result in loss of water. Water maintains the health of cells, tissues and muscles and prevents things like dry eyes, nose and mouth. Numerous organs and their functions, which aren't necessarily obvious to you in regards to water levels, can be impacted significantly when water levels are insufficient. 

The heart and brain reportedly have a water composition of approximately 73%, so these significant organs can suffer greatly when you are lacking water. For the brain, hydration is essential because it sends signals to the body for basic movements and processes. There are also studies that show pain levels may worsen when dehydrated. It is unclear why, but when the brain is dehydrated, your body may feel an increase of pain in the form of headaches, muscle pain and back pain to name a few. The skin is your largest organ and is made up of 64% water. Kidneys and muscles are approximately 79% water with bones having a water composition of approximately 31%. 

Lower back pain and water:

Between each vertebra there are intervertebral discs; these discs can be described as soft jelly-like substances and they are composed of water. When you are dehydrated, these discs are not cushioning your movements as they should be and may cause, or contribute to pain in the lower, mid and upper back, as well as your neck. 

Some common signs of dehydration:

  • Darker coloured urine (medium yellow to brown)
  • Little to no urine
  • Thirst
  • Muscle Cramps
  • Constipation
  • 'Brain Fog'
  • Headaches

What can you do to stay hydrated?

It is all about lifestyle choices, foods we eat, particularly fruits and vegetables contain water and can aid in improving or maintaining hydration levels. Conversely, there are foods and drinks we consume that can contribute to dehydration such as, soft drinks, coffee, alcohol, fried foods, cured meats, salty and sugary snacks (including those food and drinks with artificial sweeteners).

Ideas:

  • Keep a bottle of water with you throughout the day
  • If you don't like the taste of plain water, no worries! Try adding some lemon, lime or orange slices - one of my favourites is to add some fresh mint and a cinnamon stick
  • Enjoy herbal teas
  • Drink water before, during and after a workout
  • When you feel hungry, drink water, often thirst is confused with hunger and true hunger will not be satisfied by drinking water
  • Schedule your drinking - drink water upon waking, at meal times and when you go to bed. Perhaps drinking a small glass of water every waking hour could work for you

By Maharlia Kennedy

Remedial Massage Therapist

Dip Remedial Massage