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The Truth About Back Surgery

low-back-pain

Back pain – it can rip your life away from you making your every position, movement and activity excruciatingly painful beyond your imagination. You can’t sleep. Dressing yourself is difficult if not impossible and going to the toilet can be agonizing. The constancy of your pain can wear you down to the point where your whole world is consumed by “the pain”.

If that’s not enough the confusing array of information, advice and treatment options offered by often well-meaning people can often compound your sense of disillusionment and powerlessness.

Everyone you speak to has a different opinion or magic cure. Friends will often tell you about their “guru” therapist that you must see. Therapists will give you many and varied diagnoses and treatments all promising to “fix” your problem. Doctors may send you for X-rays, CT scans and MRI scans but often the long words of these technical reports heightens your fears that something is seriously wrong and that hope of a cure for your pain is fading.

And then under the advice of your treating health professional you undergo any number of different treatments including nerve blocks, epidurals, radiofrequency neurotomies, prolotherapy and intradiskal electrothermal therapy, unbeknown to you, that most of these treatments offer at best between 30-60% of short term pain relief. 1,2,3,4

Is it no wonder that Australia is following America’s lead with spinal surgery increasing at 10% a year?5 In America, experts estimate that nearly 600,000 people opt for back operations each year. Yet, a new study in the journal Spine shows that in many cases that even surgery can backfire, leaving patients in more pain.

Researchers reviewed records from 1,450 patients in the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation database who had diagnoses of disc degeneration, disc herniation or radiculopathy, a nerve condition that causes tingling and weakness of the limbs. Half of the patients had surgery to fuse two or more vertebrae in hopes of curing low back pain. The other half had no surgery, even though they had comparable diagnoses.

After two years, just 26 percent of those who had surgery returned to work. That’s compared to 67 percent of patients who didn’t have surgery. In what might be the most troubling study finding, researchers determined that there was a 41 percent increase in the use of painkillers, specifically opiates, in those who had surgery.

The study provides clear evidence that for many patients, fusion surgeries designed to alleviate pain from degenerating discs don’t work, says the study’s lead author Dr. Trang Nguyen, a researcher at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine.

Unfortunately, for most patients with bad backs, there is no easy solution, no magic bullet. Pain management experts — and some surgeons — say that patients need to scale back their expectations. With the right treatments, pain can be eased, but a complete cure is unlikely.

27 million adults with back problems

A recent report by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, a federal organization, found that in 2007, 27 million adults reported back problems with $30.3 billion spent on treatments to ease the pain. While some of that money is spent on physiotherapy, pain management, chiropractor visits, and other non-invasive therapies, the majority pays for spine surgeries.

Complicated spine surgeries that involve fusing two or more vertebrae are on the rise. In just 15 years, there has been an eight-fold jump in this type of operation, according to a study published in Spine in July. That has some surgeons and public health experts concerned.

For some patients, there is a legitimate need for spine surgery and fusion, says Dr. Charles Burton, medical director for The Center for Restorative Spine Surgery in St. Paul, Minn. The indications for spinal surgery include:

• Nerve root compression resulting in persistent toileting problems, leg pain or numbness, tingling and muscle weakness;
• Persistent pain due to instability of a single intervertebral segment.

“But the concern is that it’s gotten way beyond what is reasonable or necessary. There are some areas of the country where the rate of spine surgery is three or four times the national average.”

Despite the fact that over 250,000 lower back fusions are performed every year in the USA, there is no evidence to support this operation for discogenic back pain.6,7

Burton and others recommend that patients get a second opinion when back surgery is recommended for the treatment of back pain without neurological symptoms, such as sciatica, especially if other treatments haven’t been suggested first.

“We are very successful at improving leg symptoms," says Dr. William Welch, vice chairman of the department of neurosurgery at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center and chief of neurosurgery at Pennsylvania Hospital. “We are less successful at treating back pain.”

Source of pain is often hard to pinpoint

The reason, Welch says, is that it’s often hard to pinpoint the exact cause of someone’s back pain. Even MRIs can be misleading because abnormalities, such as degenerating discs, can be seen on scans for virtually everyone over the age of 30 regardless of whether they have pain.

Even when the surgery is a success, it rarely dispels 100 percent of back pain, Welch says. And while many surgeons are careful about which patients they recommend for spine operations, some are not so discriminating, says Dr. Doris K. Cope, professor and vice chair for pain medicine at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. “It’s a case of, if you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail,” she explains.

In general, the best results come about through a combination of approaches, Cope says. Each strategy may reduce pain by just 10 or 20 percent, but those percentages can add up so ultimately the patient’s pain is cut back by as much as 70 or 80 percent.

Proven strategies for treating lower back pain involve:
• Taking the load off the pain sensitive tissues and structures by getting into the most pain free positions as possible;
• Reducing inflammation with cold packs or medication;
• Protecting against re-injury with the use of tape or bracing;
• Promoting healing by reducing tissue tension with “hands on” techniques along with easy pain free, mobility exercises and heat treatment;
• Targeted stretching and strengthening exercises to correct muscle imbalances and joint alignment;
• Correction of posture, functional movement patterns (habits) and sporting techniques to prevent irritation of body structures and tissues;
• Core stabilisation exercises to build a strong, stable platform upon which whole body strengthening can be built;
• Functional strengthening to build your body’s capacity to cope with daily physical demands.

It is important that you understand that healing any tissue takes about 6 weeks and involves and a well-recognised progression through phases of healing. For example, the Bleeding Phase can last from 6-24 hours, Inflammatory Phase 2-5 days, Proliferation / Regrowth (framework) Phase 5 to 14 days, the Remodelling Phase 2 to 6 weeks and the Maturation Phase from 6 weeks to up to 12 months and beyond.

It therefore makes sense that if each of these phases are optimised, physically, nutritionally and psychologically and the actual causes of your back pain are corrected, then healing should not just be possible, but inevitable.

It is often quoted that it takes about 4 weeks to strengthen your muscles and at least 4 weeks to correct your posture or movement habit. So whilst not a quick fix, understanding that if you follow an evidenced based rehabilitation system that has been proven deliver results over time, you too can also achieve sustained improvement, through a progressive rehabilitation and conditioning program that will prevent re-injury and optimise your physical capacity.

If you are interested in learning about a 7 step plan that thousands of people have experienced relief through, call 1 300 BODYWISE (263 994) for a FREE Assessment and Recovery Action Plan. This plan will detail the specific steps that you need to take to on your road to recovery. Wishing you the best of health.

Yours sincerely,

Michael Hall
Physiotherapist
Director Bodywise Health

P.S. If you are in pain and you want relief, don’t put off getting effective treatment any longer.
Call 1300 BODYWISE (263 994) for a FREE, No Obligation back assessment and advice. You have absolutely nothing to lose except your pain and a healthier, happier life to gain.

References
1. Dreyfuss P. Hallbrook B, Pauza K et al. Efficacy and validity of radiofrequency neurotomy for chronic lumbar zygoapophysial joint pain. Spine (Phila Pa 1976)2000 25(10):1270-7.
2. Van Kleef M, Barendse GA, Kessels A et al. Randomised trial of radiofrequency lumbar facet denervation for chronic low back pain. Spine (Phila Pa 1976) 1999:24(18):1937-42.
3. Yin W, Willard F, Carreiro J et al. Sensory stimulation-guided sacroiliac joint radiofrequency neurotomy: technique based on neuroanatomy of the dorsal sacral plexus. Spine (Phila Pa 1976) 2003;28(20):2419-25.
4. Pauza KJ, Howell S, Dreyfuss P et al. A randomised placebo controlled trial of intradiscal electrothermal therapy for the treatment of discogenic low back pain. Spine j 2004:4(1):27-35.
5. IA Harris, ATT Dao. Trends of spinal fusion surgery in Australia: 1997 to 2006 - ANZ journal of surgery, 2009 - Wiley Online Library
6. Carragee EJ. The surgical treatment of disc degeneration: is the race not too swift? Spine J 2005:5(6):587-8.
7. Deyo RA, Nachemson A, Miirza SK, Spinal fusion surgery – the case for restraint. N Engl J MED 2004:350(7):722-6

 

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10 Facts to Save Your Back

Body wise 291011-159-Edit-Edit

For those of you who have severe lower back pain, only you know how debilitating it is. Only you know how it affects every part of your life. You can’t sleep, you can’t get comfortable and even standing to walk to the toilet can be excruciating.

But probably the most frustrating thing about severe lower back pain, is that no one else can see it and or feel it. No one else can share your pain and really know how frightening it is.

Everyone you speak to has their own piece of advice. You should walk. You should apply heat. You should see my guru therapist.

Information can be overwhelming. Doctor Google it seems, has only made it more confusing. Many news websites and newspapers carry blogs on lower back pain. The problem is that almost all authors have not treated a single person with back pain and if they have, they are not at the “coal face” or in the trenches helping people like you daily to cope, to have hope and to see the possibility of a way out of the haze.

Whilst articles may be “evidenced based”, the information is so general that it can be dangerous. To lump everyone who has severe back pain into the same boat maybe downright reckless. A disc herniation is not the same as a joint sprain or canal stenosis. To say to everyone who has severe lower back pain, you just need to get up and walk or that it will just get better on its own, can be both cruel and misleading.

To help you, here are 10 facts that you need to know to help you manage your back pain.

  1. Back pain that has come on for no reason, is constant, keeps you awake and doesn’t change, indicates that your back pain is inflammatory in nature and you need to see your doctor immediately

  2. Whilst you may not remember a specific incident that brought on your back pain, there is almost always a cause. Not understanding this, can lead to you re-aggravating your back injury, the number one reason, why many people don’t get better.

  3. If your pain is throbbing, constant and wakes you at night, apply cold packs in a damp tea-towel for 15 minutes a minimum 6 times each day (and up to hourly) for at least 3 to 5 days (be sure to check your skin every 5 minutes for adverse reactions). If your pain is more like a general soreness, is intermittent and you are able to sleep soundly, apply comfortable heat.

  4. See your doctor to find out which medication can help you cope best. Research has now shown that there is little or no evidence that paracetomol and other over the counter anti-inflammatory medications such as Ibuprofen actually help. And be aware that prolonged use of anti-inflammatory medication has been shown to delay healing

  5. In contrast, there is evidence that “hands on” therapy performed by physiotherapists and other manual health professionals does offer benefit. But again you need to understand that this benefit is likely to be short term if the underlying cause isn’t addressed

  6. We are told “not to take back pain lying down” and to stay moving, but what movement? Lying down might be the only position that reduces your pain. If so, get into the most comfortable position possible, apply cold packs for 15 minutes at a time hourly (helps to reduce inflammation and pain)Generally, there will be a direction of movement that provokes your pain and a direction of movement that eases it. Move gently and slowly in the direction that eases your pain and perform as many of these movements (perhaps 6-12 hourly) as you can as long as they are pain free. At the first hint of an increase in pain or a reduction in form, stop. If you always stop before pain, the chances in making your problem worse are minimisedIf you are lying down, you need to get up and go for a short walk every one to two hours to reduce the pressure in your back. If walking is painful, a back brace and walking with elbow crutches often relieves the pain

  7. Back pain is more common in smokers. Smoking has been shown to reduce blood flow to all parts of your body, including your back, meaning that it is unable to stay healthy and resilient to the stresses that are applied to it every day. This leads to injury, inferior healing, deficient recovery, chronic inflammation and constant pain – not just in your back but your whole body

  8. Staying positive and improving your nutrition, sleep and stress levels will all help you to overcome your back pain. Understanding that your body’s natural default mechanism is to heal and then allowing it to do so by nurturing the most healing environment possible will lead to a quicker and better recovery.

  9. X-Rays and scans (including CT and MRI scans) are often a waste of your money because they:
    •        a. frequently show up completely unrelated abnormalities that can be both scary and confusing;
    •        b. don’t influence or change your treatment: and 
    •        c. they expose you to radiation which can increase your cancer risk.

Having said this, it is important to get further investigations if you have been injured in a trauma involving a forceful knock or blow. Additionally, if your signs and symptoms are worsening (and not improving within a week), you are feeling unwell and losing weight or have pain, numbness, tingling, pins and needles or loss of power in your bladder, bowel or legs. These are medical emergencies and it is critical to see your doctor or health professional as soon as you can.

10. Your back pain will only get better, if you address the cause of your problem. This means changing, if only slightly, the way that you move that has caused the problem in the first place. Whilst “hands on” treatment often provides only short term relief and rehabilitative exercise medium term relief, fixing the cause of your pain will give you permanent relief. It is this package of “hands on” therapy, rehabilitative exercise and posture and movement correction that the evidence has shown is the best way to achieve long lasting relief and sustained physical improvement.

If you have back pain and would like help to get rid of it, call 1 300 bodywise (1 300 263994) to organise an initial gap-free assessment and treatment so that you can begin your road to recovery.

All of us here at Bodywise Health look forward to helping you,

Yours sincerely,

Michael Hall

Physiotherapist
Director Bodywise Health

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How to know if you are over-training and what to do if you are

rehabilitation centres melbourne

If you are preparing for the Melbourne Marathon, no doubt your training has been in full swing. If however, instead of getting fitter and stronger, you are feeling more tired and lethargic and your performance is deteriorating, you may be suffering from Overtraining Syndrome. This is a disorder of the nervous and hormonal systems of the body which is caused by inadequate recovery of the body following intense training.1

Intense training = Intense Stress, Prolonged Training = Chronic Stress
You see, intense training puts intense stress on all the systems of your body. The emphasis of the body's functioning is shifted away from growth and repair to optimising physical performance. The need for energy stimulates the release of cortisol from your adrenal glands.

Cortisol, a stress hormone, stimulates all the physiological processes of your body to give you the "get up and go" to perform everyday tasks. It does this by causing your muscles to be broken down to release sugar for energy but at the expense of suppressing your immune and digestive systems.2

Stress = Tissue breakdown and suppression of Your Immune and Digestive Systems
Essentially, therefore training breaks down (catabolic process) your body's tissues so that they can rebuild (anabolic process) to be better, stronger or faster. The problem with overtraining syndrome is that your body's systems don't get sufficient time or have an adequate environment to regenerate before the next intense training stimulus is delivered leading to further breakdown and muscle weakness.

Any perceived demand for energy will cause the release of cortisol. We are the only living thing that can activate the stress response by thought alone.2 Work deadlines, home demands, financial stresses, relationship issues, poor eating habits and lack of sleep all cause the release of cortisol. Add to this an intense, prolonged training program and you can see how easily overtraining syndrome can develop. Disorders then occur when a person's perceived stress levels get beyond coping.

Initially, your adrenal glands are stimulated into producing increasing amounts of cortisol which may lead to metabolic disturbances such as:

  1. Lack of quality sleep (Important not to exercise at night as cortisol breaks down Tryptophan an amino acid that is an ingredient in Serotonin that is a precursor to melatonin the sleep hormone)
  2. Inability to concentration and sugar cravings (due to dysfunctional sugar regulation)
  3. Headaches (due to increased muscle tension)
  4. Loss of appetite and poor digestion (due to shut down of digestive enzymes)
  5. Gut disturbance – constipation or diarrhoea (Imbalance between good bugs Vs bad bugs)
  6. Malabsorption of essential nutrients (due to decreased gut permeability)
  7. Increased vulnerability to disease and infections (due to decreased number and function of immune cells)
  8. Sexual dysfunction and low libido (cortisol is made instead of sex hormones)
  9. Muscle weakness and aches and pain (cortisol made instead of testosterone)
  10. Heightened sensitivity to pain (cortisol impedes Serotonin production, the happy hormone that inhibits pain)
  11. Learning and memory impairment( as excessive cortisol damages the brain’s hippocampal cells)
  12. Exaggerated inflammation throughout your body.1

Eventually your adrenal glands become exhausted leading to insufficient cortisol being produced resulting in extreme fatigue.2

Diagnosis of Overtraining
Whilst there are many symptoms associated with overtraining, only a few have been shown to be valid and reliable indicators of this syndrome. These include:

  1. Performance deterioration
  2. Persistent, severe fatigue
  3. Decreased maximal heart rate
  4. Reported high stress levels
  5. Sleep disturbances
  6. Changes in blood Lactate threshold
  7. Elevated resting adrenaline levels1
  8. Other reported signs and symptoms for which there have been conflicting studies include:
  9. Increased early morning heart rate or resting blood pressure
  10. Frequent illness such as colds and chest infections
  11. Persistent muscle soreness
  12. Loss of muscle
  13. Moodiness
  14. Apathy, lack of motivation
  15. Loss of appetite
  16. Irritability or depression1

Many of the signs and symptoms of overtraining syndrome are remarkably similar to those of depression, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome.1

Prevention of Overtraining
The most important factor in treating overtraining is preventing it in the first place. Having a correctly planned training program which incorporates adequate time for rest, recovery and regeneration as well as employing techniques to enhance recovery will go a long way to preventing overtraining.

Techniques such as ice baths, mindfulness meditation, remedial massage, exercise in water and Bodyflow therapy have all been proven to enhance recovery and regeneration.

Likewise, getting at least 7 ½ hours' sleep (and being asleep before 11pm!) as well as taking time out to laugh and enjoy life away from the pressures of your life are important to reducing the build-up of stress and tension that may lead to less than optimal health. 3

To prevent overtraining syndrome from a nutritional standpoint, you need to consume adequate amounts of:

  1. fluid (1.5 to 2 litres of water per day)
  2. protein (grams = body weight in kg x 0.9 x 1.5 each day if exercising at a high intensity 3-6 times each week)
  3. carbohydrates (7-12 g per kg of body weight each day)
  4. micronutrients such as activated vitamin B, magnesium (need to check zinc levels), iron and coenzyme Q104

At the same time, you should reduce your alcohol following exercise intake as this adversely affects muscle function and glycogen storage.1

Treatment of Overtraining Syndrome
Immediately after being diagnosed with overtraining syndrome, it is important to have complete rest and to sleep as much as possible over the next 48 hours. If acted on early enough, this may be sufficient for you to recover and perform at an even higher level (super-compensation).1

However, if this rest period does not reduce your tiredness, overtraining syndrome may be entrenched and it may take weeks or months to resolve. Treatment then consists of rest as well as nutritional and psychological support.

The starting point for all treatment programs is a comprehensive medical, nutritional and physical assessment. This will give clues as to the important factors that may have contributed to the development of overtraining syndrome such as viral illness, nutritional deficiencies, glycogen depletion, inadequate protein intake, sleep disturbances and anxiety / stress levels.

Viral Illness
Viral illness is a common cause of persistent tiredness in sportspeople. Prolonged intense exercise depresses your immune system, leaving you vulnerable to viral illness, especially chest infections.

If you have a viral illness with a raised temperature, it is important for you not to continue with intense training as it has the potential to either prolong your illness or cause a more serious illness such as myocarditis or post viral fatigue syndrome. Similarly, if you have a viral illness along with systemic symptoms such as muscle pain, training is prohibited.

If however, you have a mild temperature, light training that keeps your heart rate below 70% of your maximum heart rate (220 – age), may actually have a positive effect. To ensure that you are not at risk of worsening your condition, it is important to get a medical clearance before continuing with training if your general health is not 100%.

Nutritional Deficiencies
A common cause of tiredness among endurance sportspeople is depletion of iron stores. Menstruating women, adolescent sportspeople and athletes who diet are especially susceptible to iron deficiency due to either inadequate iron intake, increased iron loss and / or inadequate absorption of dietary iron.

If you have been training intensely and are suffering from tiredness and weariness, you would be well advised to seek a medical examination from a sports physician and have your iron levels checked as well as be tested for digestive and kidney function. Following this referral to a dietitian, nutritionist or naturopath may be required.

Gycogen depletion
Glycogen is the storage form of carbohydrate and the major source of energy for activity. Intense bouts of exercise drain glycogen stores and if they are not replenished prior to the next training session, they will become further depleted. If this pattern continues glycogen depletion will result leading to fatigue and a deterioration in sports performance.

In times of intense training, consuming at least 1-1.2g of carbohydrate per kg of body weight within the first hour immediately following exercise is especially important as this is when the rate of glycogen production is greatest.1

Finally, not only has it been shown that consuming carbohydrate during and following prolonged intense exercise prevents the depletion of energy stores, but it has also been proven that carbohydrate enhances the immune system’s ability to ward off infectious illness.

Protein Replacement
Protein replacement is critical for good health because prolonged intense exercise causes a substantial breakdown of muscle tissue, protein contains the building blocks (amino acids) which enable it to be rebuild in the next 24 hours and beyond. This process is optimised, if 10-20 g of high quality protein (containing the essential amino acids) is consumed within an hour following exercise. Eating protein after this time still promotes tissue regeneration, it just occurs at a slower pace.
Adequate protein replacement is also important to reduce pain and enhance sleep.1

The strategies listed for preventing overtraining syndrome will also assist in its treatment. Other treatment tips might include:

Other treatment tips for Overtraining Syndrome

  1. Avoid exercising if you have a virus and a high temperature. If you are not sure, seek a medical opinion
  2. Whenever you can, allow yourself to sleep in until 8 or 9am
  3. Take time out for massage, meditation, yoga and other relaxing activities to "quieten" your mind and body
  4. Avoid strenuous exercise at night as excess cortisol makes it difficult to sleep
  5. Take a nap in the afternoon if you are tired. 20 to 30 minutes is great value
  6. Avoid working late and burning the midnight oil
  7. Eat protein at every meal avoid high carbohydrate foods to optimise your insulin and blood sugar levels
  8. Eat 5 to 6 servings of vegetables each day and avoid fruit early especially those high in potassium
  9. Take fish oil to reduce tissue inflammation and prevent hippocampal damage
  10. Avoid hydrogenated fats, caffeine, chocolate, refined sugars, sugary drinks, processed foods and those that create allergic reactions
  11. Optimise vitamin D levels
  12. Get regular exercise2

It is important to realise that it is not just elite athletes who are at risk of overtraining. Even more vulnerable are people who lead highly stressed lives who then undertake intense, prolonged training programs. For these people it is especially important to organise their home, work and training schedules in ways which prioritise adequate rest and recovery.

"Listening" to your body, finding balance, training smarter not harder and understanding that "less may be more" may not only help you stave off overtraining syndrome as well as many other injuries and pain syndromes, they may just help you to achieve your "personal best". Good luck and until next time!

Be Bodywise and enjoy the best of health.

Best wishes,

Michael Hall
Director
Bodywise Health

For a FREE physical assessment and advice, please call Bodywise Health on 1 300 BODYWISE (263 994)

Please note: 

• Rebates are available through your private insurance extras cover;

• For complex or chronic conditions, you may qualify for the EPC (Enhanced Primary Care Program) allowing you to receive 5 allied health services each calendar year with a referral from your GP. For more information, please call Bodywise Health now on 1 300 BODYWISE (263 994).

References
1. Brukner and Khan and Colleagues. Clinical Sports Medicine. McCraw Medical. 4th Edition, 2012.
2. Chek, Paul. How to Eat, Move and Be Healthy. California: C.H.E.K. Institute, 2006
3. Chadwick V. Mcphee R. Ford A. a Practical Guide to Clinical Nutrition for Allied Health Professionals. May 2014
4. Chadwick V. How to Live a Life Without Pain. Global Publishing Group. 1st Edition, 2012

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Worried about your child's posture? Here's what you can do to help your child avoid a lifetime of pain

 good-vs-bad-sitting-habits

Worried about your child’s posture? New research indicates that you should be. Here’s what you can do to help your child avoid a lifetime of pain.

The rates of back pain are on the rise for children1 as well as adults despite the fact that we have more health professionals2, more health gadgets, more health information and more treatments, therapies, training programs and health promotions than ever before.

In fact, our physical health problems only seem to be worsening, with a recent UK study3 showing that up to 10% of 10 year old children have signs associated with bad backs and 9% already having at least one degenerative disc.

Something has changed! Whilst the researcher acknowledged that lugging heavy school bags, watching TV, playing video games and poor diets (obesity) have always had adverse effects on physical health, it is now thought that there is another factor at play with texting and excessive tablet use now being implicated.

In 2013, some 1.91 trillion text messages were sent in the US, according to CTIA, The Wireless Association4 Smartphone users spend an average of two to four hours per day hunched over their devices, which amounts to 700 to 1,400 hours per year that they are exerting this stress on their spines. School children may be even worse off, spending an additional 5,000 hours in this position, according to the study.

The term “text neck” has been coined to describe a group of physical conditions associated with excessive use of smart phones and tablets.

New York spine surgeon Kenneth Hansraj performed a study to assess the incremental effects of a forward-tilted head posture on the neck. He concluded that:

“Text neck” may lead to early spinal degeneration as excessive loading of the small bones, joints, muscles, nerves of the neck can result in muscle strain, pinched nerves, herniated discs and abnormalities to the neck’s natural curvature.5 This forward neck posture has also been linked to headaches, neurological problems and heart disease.

Others claim that the pressure on your neck and upper back doubles with every 2-3 centimetres of forward head tilt.6

As your head weighs about 4.5 to 5.5 kilograms and is balanced on two tiny joints of the first neck bone, it acts as a weight and cantilever on top of a highly mobile neck. Normally, the stresses that the weight of the head places upon the neck and upper back is reduced by the fact that the neck moves over 600 times an hour. However, if movements become repetitive or slouched postures are maintained for prolonged periods of time, stresses on the structures of the neck and back build up and eventually lead to stiffness and pain.

Children and adolescents are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of excessive tablet and smart phone use. The positions and movements that young people “practise” are likely to become lifelong habits. If young people spend their time in slouched postures then not only they will tend to default to those postures but as their young bodies grow, all their body structures and tissues will adapt to these positions, further reinforcing these habits and making them difficult if not impossible to correct without intensive treatment and training
Posture is More Than Just Physical
Posture has been shown to have powerful effect on your entire health and wellbeing, not only affecting your physical health but also influencing your thoughts, feelings, actions as well as how others perceive you. Posture can even affect your memory recall.7

“When sitting in a collapsed position and looking downward, participants in a study found it much easier to recall hopeless, helpless, powerless, and negative memories, than empowering, positive memories.

When sitting upright and looking upward, it was difficult and for many of the participants nearly impossible to recall hopeless, helpless, powerless, and negative memories and easier to recall empowering, positive memories...

Sitting up straight helps increase blood flow and oxygen to the brain, and according to some accounts, by up to 40 percent.”

Some of the wide ranging detrimental effects of poor posture include:
• Shoulder, neck and back pain;
• Degenerative disc disease;
• Tension headaches8;
• Excessive forward curvature (kyphosis) of your upper back;
• Depression, increased stress and diminished levels of energy9;
• Decreased libido10;
• Digestive issues such as constipation, acid reflux and hernias11;
• Restricted breathing;
• Cardiovascular irregularities (related to vagus nerve irritation)12,13


The Best Cure for Your Posture
The best cure for postural problems is to avoid poor positioning and movement patterns in the first place. This means being aware of maintaining good posture by standing up straight, sitting up straight up (and/ with a lumbar roll cushion in the small of your back) and moving from position to position without dropping your chest.

Beyond this, it means maintaining full mobility of all your joints as well as the strength of all your muscles especially in the opposite direction of the positions and movements that you perform routinely on a daily basis.

It also means not staying for too long in one position, but rather moving from one position to another at least every 30 minutes.

Tips for maintaining good posture
1. Use your eyes. When operating electronic devices, practice looking down at your device with only your eyes, instead of bending your neck—and try holding your device up higher. If you wear glasses, make sure your prescription is current.

2. Stand up as much as possible. You might want to experiment with a stand-up desk. You certainly don’t need to stand all day long but you are likely far better off standing as your posture and your likelihood of movement tends to improve. If you cannot work standing up, make an effort to interrupt your sitting frequently throughout the day. Stand up and walk when taking phone calls. It will help you feel better, have more energy and be more creative as well..

3. Walk more. Wear a fitness tracker and set a goal of walking 7,000 to 10,000 steps each day, which is more than eight kilometres. While you could probably walk this distance all at once, it’s best to spread it out evenly throughout the day, as much as your schedule will allow. Get in the habit of using the stairs and parking further away from entrances.

4. Take 30- to 60-second exercise breaks. Every 30 minutes, stretch gently into the opposite direction from the position that you have been in. If you have been sitting, this might mean stretching backwards over the back of a chair or standing up with your hands on your buttock and leaning backwards. Aim to hold the stretch for at least 10 seconds and do 5 of them at a time.

5. Anti-gravity Strength Training. Strengthen the muscles which move your body into the opposite direction of the positions and movements that you perform routinely. Doing this will help to relieve stress on body tissues and structures, restore joint mobility, correct muscle imbalances as well as build strength and endurance so that you can maintain an upright posture. To learn more about this, please call Bodywise Health on 1 300 BODYWISE (263 994);

6. Posture Training. The only way to achieve permanent results is to permanently correct posture and movement habits. To do this takes intense training, involving freeing up stiff joints, supporting and strengthening weak muscles whilst preventing the adoption of faulty postures and movement patterns with tape or bracing.

Research shows that to create a habit takes about 300-500 repetitions, but to correct a faulty habit takes about 3,000-5,000 repetitions or about 4-6 weeks of training. If correct postures and movement patterns are achieved, the benefit is a lifelong reduction in mechanical pain and problems.

However, the opposite is also true. If children start off with poor postures and movement patterns, they are more likely to suffer from physical, psychological, cardiovascular, respiratory and digestive problems for the rest of their lives.

This is why it is so important that children be shown correct posture and movement and be taught the detrimental effects of bad posture. Correcting your child’s posture and movements early will profoundly change their lives forever. If you notice your child is stooping or you have any concerns about their posture, please get this checked. It might just save them from a life of pain and misery.

Be Bodywise and enjoy the best of health.

Best wishes,

Michael Hall
Director
Bodywise Health

For a FREE posture check and advice, please call Bodywise Health on 1 300 BODYWISE (263 994)

References

 

1 BMC Pediatr January 2013 Surg Technol Int. November 2014 (full text)
2 Pattern Movements.  A Neurodevelopmental Approach to Conditioning. Correspondence Course. Paul Chek. 2003 Surg Technol Int. November 2014 (Pub Med)
3 Daily Mail November 6, 2014 
4 Fox News August 15, 2014
5 Washington Post November 20, 2014
6 CNN September 20, 2012 The Atlantic November 25, 2014
Medical Daily June 24, 2014

9 New York Times September 19, 2014
10 
11 Biofeedback Fall 2012
12 Medical Daily September 23, 2014
13 Livestrong February 6, 2014
14 Posturebly
15 Life Offbeat November 11, 2013
16 J Amer Coll Cardiol June 2001
17 Diabetologia November 2012
18 WebMD October 15, 2012
19 Br J Sports Med 2009

 

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Bodywise Health

364 Hampton St,

Hampton

Victoria. Australia 3188

03 9533 4257

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