Avoid a Pain in the Back
Back pain affects about 8 out of 10 people. What can you do to protect your spine and avoid back pain? The spine is made up of 24 bones, vertebrae, stacked on top of one another. These bones connect to create a canal that protects the spinal cord. The lumbar spine, lower back, is made up of five vertebrae. In between the vertebrae are flexible intervertebral discs. They act as shock absorbers when you walk or run. Anything you can do to improve overall physical fitness and general health benefits the spine. The American Orthaepedic Surgeons Association recommends easy lifestyle changes to help reduce the risk of developing back problems.
The disc, shock absorber, has two parts: an outer, flexible ring and an inner core filled with a gelatinous substance, primarily water. When the spine is upright, water slowly squeezes out of the discs. When resting, the discs rehydrate. So the spine has a 24-hour cycle of daily disc dehydration and nightly rehydration. When there is not enough water to fully hydrate the gelatinous center, the whole disc becomes compromised, which can cause pain, swelling, and a herniated disc. A simple, effective way to help reduce back pain is to increase your daily intake of H2O.
Vitamin D is an important component in musculoskeletal development, maintenance, and function. Adequate levels of vitamin D correlate with greater bone mineral density and lower rates of osteoporotic fractures. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium. Without enough calcium, bones can weaken, potentially leading to bone, joint or musculoskeletal pain. Vitamin D can be obtained by increasing exposure to sunlight and including vitamin D rich foods in your diet like fish, milk, eggs, and fresh fruits and vegetables.
Strong core muscles are important to provide support for the lower back. Abdominal crunches, other core exercises, and low-impact cardiovascular exercises increase blood flow to your spine and help prevent back pain.
The way you stand, sit and lift things impacts spine health. Poor posture places pressure on the back and can cause degenerated discs to become more painful. For proper standing posture, stand against a wall with shoulders, bottom, and back of your head touching the wall. For seated posture, the back should be supported by the back of the chair, knees even with hips, and feet flat on the floor. When lifting heavy objects, use your legs, not your back, to protect the spine.
If overweight, additional pounds put added pressure on the spine and lower back. Smoking lessens oxygen supply to the discs and causes faster degeneration. For a healthy spine, eat a balanced diet to achieve and maintain a reasonable weight and avoid nicotine intake. The orthopedic specialists at Direct Orthopedic Care will diagnose your back pain and provide more customized treatment options based on your history, general health, and a thorough examination. To learn about neck and spine conditions treated by DOC, click here.
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