Piriformis Syndrome


Piriformis Syndrome Stretches



Piriformis syndrome is a condition where the piriformis muscle, which is located in the buttock region, spasms (tightens and shortens) causing buttock or hip pain. The piriformis muscle can also irritate the delicate sciatic nerve which runs underneath the piriformis, running between the muscle and the pelvic bone. When this happens it can cause pain, numbness and tingling along the back of the leg and into the foot similar to sciatic pain. 

Piriformis Syndrome is a somewhat controversial diagnosis, and opinions vary from those who say that the condition is extremely rare to those who claim it is a relatively common disorder often overlooked. 

The piriformis muscle is a muscle that lies in the gluteal region, running across your buttocks. It is one of six muscles that make up the lateral rotator group to externally rotate your leg (turn it outwards).


Causes of Piriformis Syndrome

The exact causes of piriformis syndrome are unknown. Suspected causes include:

Muscle spasm in the piriformis muscle, either because of irritation in the piriformis muscle itself, or irritation of a nearby structure such as the sacroiliac joint or hip 

Tightening of the muscle, in response to injury or spasm 

Swelling of the piriformis muscle, due to injury or spasm

Bleeding in the area of the piriformis muscle.

Any one or combination of the above problems can affect the piriformis muscle (causing buttock pain) and may affect the adjacent sciatic nerve (causing pain, tingling, or numbness in the back of the thigh, calf, or foot).






Symptoms of Piriformis Syndrome

Most commonly, patients describe acute tenderness in the buttock and sciatica-like pain down the back of the thigh, calf and foot. Typical piriformis syndrome symptoms may include:

  • A dull ache in the buttock
  • Pain down the back of the thigh, calf and foot (sciatica)
  • Pain when walking up stairs or inclines
  • Increased pain after prolonged sitting
  • Reduced range of motion of the hip joint

Other signs and symptoms reported include low back pain, diminished muscle stretch reflexes, diminished muscle strength, loss of sensation, resting external rotation of the hip, pain on rectal or vaginal palpation and dyspareunia.


 Sciatic Pain From Piriformis Syndrome

Because of the close proximity of the sciatic nerve to the piriformis muscle, it is possible for some cases of Piriformis Syndrome to irritate the sciatic nerve, causing sciatica symptoms. Anatomical variation in the relationship of the sciatic nerve to the piriformis muscle is often cited as a necessary prerequisite to the development of the condition. Normally the sciatic nerve exits below the muscle but, in some people, the nerve or a portion of it actually passes through or above the muscle, making more likely to be irritated by the piriformis muscle. There is some research that suggests that these anomalous arrangements occur just as frequently in asymptomatic individuals as in those with a diagnosis of Piriformis Syndrome, suggesting that anomalous anatomical arrangement is not a precursor.


Diagnosing Piriformis Syndrome

Special tests for this condition include the Piriformis test, the Freiberg's test (internal rotation and extension of the hip), the Pace's test (hip flexion with added abduction), and the Beatty's test (tonic contraction of the piriformis muscle in the side-lying position).

It is noteworthy that some refer to the Bonnet's test as a specific provocative procedure for Piriformis Syndrome. This test is described in various ways, with one version performed in like manner to the Piriformis test. Another version involves the addition of internal hip rotation to the Straight Leg Raise (SLR) test. However, it has been demonstrated that the addition of the internal rotation to the SLR test has the potential to aggravate the patient's sciatica, regardless of the aetiology.

Radiographic imaging (X-Rays) for Piriformis Syndrome is reported to be of limited value. Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Computed Tomography may reveal enlargement of the piriformis muscle, anatomical variations and localised oedema of both the muscle and the sciatic nerve. In addition, these imaging technologies help to rule out serious pathological conditions.

Given that Piriformis Syndrome is a controversial clinical diagnosis, clinicians should always seek to rule out other and more serious causes of buttock pain and sciatica. On the other hand, it may be important to consider the possibility that this syndrome exists to avoid the over-diagnosis of lumbar disc herniation and unnecessary spinal surgery.


Piriformis Syndrome Stretches

There are a number of ways to stretch one's piriformis muscle. Two simple and effective stretches include:

Lie on the back with both feet flat on the floor and both knees bent. Pull the right knee up to the chest, grasp the knee with the left hand and pull it towards the left shoulder and hold the stretch. Repeat for each side.

Lie on the back with both feet flat on the floor and both knees bent. Rest the ankle of the right leg over the knee of the left leg. Pull the left thigh toward the chest and hold the stretch. Repeat for each side.

Each piriformis stretch should be held for 5 seconds to start, and gradually increased to hold for 30 seconds, and repeated three times each day.

As Piriformis Syndrome is mostly due to an overly tight piriformis muscle, these exercises can prove to be very effective as they release tension and help to relax and lengthen the piriformis muscle.


If you have any questions, or would like to share your own experience, please leave us a comment below.

Also, if you have found this article helpful, please share it so we can help even more people! Thankyou.



Mind Your Posture: The Dangers Of Carrying A Big Bag!



Mind Your Posture:
The Dangers Of Carrying A Big Bag!


Large handbags are definitely at the height of fashion. You just look better if your bag is big enough to fit in heaps of shopping and a small dog! But they can pose a risk to posture and could potentially cause or contribute to back problems.

Large bags can weigh up to 3kgs before anything gets put in it, and this only gets worse as you start to load it up with all your essentials (purse, phone, make-up, your iPad, lunch, a small dog...). Also, a larger bag is more unwieldy and more difficult to deal with. Heavy big bags can cause neck and shoulder strain as well as the long term affects on posture.



Essential advice: Keep it light

  • The lighter you keep your bag the better, especially if you have to carry it about all day. Check the contents of your bag(s) each day and only carry those items you need for the day ahead – it is surprising how many people carry unnecessary weight in their bags.
  • There is no ‘maximum’ weight that a bag should weigh, as it all depends on the size and strength of the person and the style of bag used. Bags that distribute weight more evenly across the back will put less strain on the body, so something like a rucksack is always best.
  • The ideal bag for your computer is a rucksack, carried on both shoulders and the straps adjusted so that the bag is held close to your back.
  • If using a single strap bag/briefcase, buy one with a longer strap, so you can wear it close to you with the strap over one shoulder and the bag or case under the other arm. Remember to keep your shoulders relaxed.
  • Avoid holding a bag with long straps high up in the crook of your arm or down towards your knees as this will put an uneven load on your body.
  • If you use a ‘wheeled’ mini case, push it instead of pulling as this puts less strain on your back and make sure the handle extends long enough to prevent you from stooping.
  • If you have a ‘shopping’ style bag it is better to carry two bags, one in each hand to distribute the weight more evenly. Remember this when you are carrying your shopping as well.


Just keep these simple tips in mind the next time you grab your bag on the way out the door. Just a few easy adjustments could save your spine!


If you have any questions, or would like to share your own experience, please leave us a comment below.

Also, if you have found this article helpful, please share it so we can help even more people! Thankyou.



Pelvic Alignment Exercises



Pelvic Alignment Exercises



It has been estimated that approximately 80% of the population will suffer from some sort of back pain at least once during their lifetime. That's a lot of people, and it is one of the major modern health problems, causing the most days off work and costing $billions of dollars each year. Misalignment or 'twisting' of the pelvis is a common cause of back pain. In this article we explain pelvic misalignment, and show you exercises that you can do right at home to help fix it.


How The Pelvis Works.

SI JointsThe pelvis forms the base of your spine and is made up of three bones, the 2 ilium bones on the sides, and the sacrum. Your pelvis is like the foundations of a building, and the rest of your spine sits right on top of it. It can also be the cause of many back problems.

The pelvis is important to both the structure and function of your body. It provides a stable structural foundation for your spine, and has numerous muscle attachments including the hip and pelvic floor muscles. Your pelvis protects internal organs, and also provides, when necessary, a natural birth canal.

In order for your pelvis to perform these tasks efficiently the three major pelvic joints, the Pubic Symphisis at the front, and the two Sacroiliac joints at the back, need to be correctly aligned.

Just by doing the following simple exercises, you will be correcting your pelvic alignment helping to prevent back pain, and assisting the health of your whole spine. Several studies have also shown that expectant mothers benefit from correct pelvic alignment. The birth canal is widest when the pelvis is correctly aligned, allowing for a shorter labour times and less complications.

Injuries and trauma such as falls, sports injuries, and car accidents are obvious events that can change the alignment of your pelvis, altering it's function. Often we treat these injuries at the time to reduce pain, but persistent incorrect pelvic alignment can continue unnoticed for years once the initial pain has gone. This can lead to other problems manifesting over time.

Incorrect pelvic alignment can also be the result of the accumulation of many small disturbances over years. This type of injury is usually painless and often leads to spinal dysfunction long before any obvious symptoms occur. Sitting with a wallet in your back pocket or with your legs crossed are two examples of the kinds of 'micro' injuries that have an accumulative effect.

One of the noticeable signs of a misaligned pelvis is a change in leg length, where on leg can become slightly longer (or shorter) than the other. A Finnish study found that that a 12mm leg length difference increases the risk of low back injuries by five times. Even a 6mm difference is enough to cause 300 tonnes of increased force being placed on the longer leg each year. Hip replacement anyone?

Just like the wheel alignment in your car, slight changes will cause uneven wear and tear. This becomes increasingly obvious the longer you travel! Left untreated this can result in degenerative changes in the spine, hip, knee and ankle. It can lead to irritation of the sciatic nerve (sciatica), back pain, hip, knee and ankle pain. Pelvic misalignment can alter your weight bearing (more weight on one leg) and change your gait (pattern of walking).

Idiopathic ScoliosisScoliosis can also be another condition that is caused by incorrect pelvic alignment. As one leg becomes shorter, the pelvis has to tilt to keep both feet on the ground (important when you are walking!). This creates an unlevel base for the spine, resulting in a curve, or scoliosis, along the spine as it tries to stay upright and not leaning at an angle. This will then have the knock on effect of abnormal spinal mechanics, causing poor spinal health and even more problems! Arthritic changes, recurring muscle strains (eg. groin and hamstrings) are all quite possible. 

As you can see, correct pelvic alignment is pretty important!



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So how can you look after your pelvic alignment?

Firstly, being aware of the things that can be throwing your pelvis out of alignment. Do you cross you legs? Carry your wallet in your back pocket? Sit at your desk twisting to one side to see your computer monitor? Have a think about your day to day habits and see if you can identify any potential hazards.

Secondly, be active in your spinal health. HealthySpines.org Total Back Pain Solution outlines a simple exercise program that can be done in ten minutes,three times a week to maintain optimal spinal health, keeping your back strong, stable and flexible.

The following exercises may be of benefit to decrease pelvic misalignment. However, it is one of those problems that can become quite 'stuck' in place if it has been untreated and left to become chronic over time. 

1: Pulling your knee to your chest will help to stretch out tight hip muscles, and create some movement in the Sacroiliac joint if it is not moving enough. Hold for 10 to 30 seconds on both sides.



2: Lie on your back with your legs stretched out flat. Cross one foot over the other knee, then pull that leg towards your chest. Hold for 10-30 seconds then relax back down. You will feel a stretch, but it should not be painful, if it is then just back off a bit. Hold for 10 to 30 seconds on both sides.



3: Lying flat on your back, slowly attempt to raise one leg 6 to 12 inches off the floor and hold there for 10 seconds. Repeat on the other side.

This is also good to strengthen the abdominal muscles, which are important spinal stabilisers.



4: Start in a kneeling position, then sit back onto you feet.Stretch your arms out in front of you along the floor.

Feel the stretch in your low back and hold for 10 seconds.



5: Move back onto your hands and knees, then gently lift one leg behind you as far as you comfortably can.

Hold for 10 seconds then do the same on the other side.



6: Lie flat on your back with your knees bent. Notice that your lower back is arched up off the floor slightly.

Suck your tummy in, and press your lower back onto the floor and hold for 10 seconds.



7: Sit-ups are great for really getting your abs strong.

Lying on the floor as above, lift your upper body (head and shoulders) off the floor by curling up.

Don't try to lift to high, just enough to get your shoulders slightly off the floor. Repeat 10 times.

You can do more sets of 10 as you get better!



Try these pelvic alignment exercises out, just remember to go easy at first. If you are still concerned about your pelvic alignment, consult your health professional. Chiropractors and some physical/physio therapists are specifically trained to identify pelvic misalignment.

If you have any questions, or would like to share your own experience, please leave us a comment below.

Also, if you have found this article helpful, please share it so we can help even more people! Thankyou.



How Is 2017 Going For You So Far?



How Is 2017 Going For You So Far?



It’s amazing how fast January and February disappear. Holidays, getting the kids back to school, and then settling back into routine makes those first couple of months of the year just seem to fly by!

By now most of us have let our New Year’s resolutions (usually to do with our health) fall by the wayside. That’s understandable; it’s just the wrong time of year to be making big changes. There’s too much other stuff going on.

But your health should not be a ‘wish’ that you make at midnight on the 31st of December each year. Really, our health should be a top priority ALL THE TIME. It affects our entire quality of life; what you can do, and how you do it.


This is one of my favourite sayings:

Good health happens by choice, not by chance.


Remember it is up to you and the choices you make RIGHT NOW that will determine your health now and in the future.

So don’t just ‘try’ to be healthy. Choose to eat more nutritious and whole foods, and less processed, junky foods. Choose to be more energetic and engage in a variety of activities. A few small, simple changes can make a huge difference. It's all about making healthy choices.

Spinal health is about so much more than just fixing back pain. Good posture and spinal health affect your whole well being. From how you feel, to everything that you do. So don’t forget to look after your spine! Healthyspines.org's Total Back Pain Solution actually has nothing to do with back pain. It's all about restoring normal spinal function. It just so happens that by improving your spinal health, you don't get back pain. Period. Our online program is a great place to learn exactly what you need to do to have a healthy spine right now, and for the rest of your life. 

We are here to help you be at your best. If you move better, you feel better. And that means you live better! Simple as that.


If you have any questions, or would like to share your own experience, please leave us a comment below.

Also, if you have found this article helpful, please share it so we can help even more people! Thankyou.




Will A Back Brace Improve Posture? The Best Back Braces For Posture Correction.


Will A Back Brace Improve Posture?

The Best Back Braces For Posture Correction.


Poor posture is one of the main causes of spinal stress. It's also reaching epidemic proportions with the increasing popularity and dependence on technology (those shiny screens that we all love to stare at!). Most of us can probably remember our parents and teachers telling us over and over to 'sit up straight' and 'stop slouching'. But if you have a look around, particularly at teens, you will see that those old messages have not been enough. Rounded shoulders and forward head posture is the new normal. But it is not healthy, and there is lots of evidence showing the detrimental effects that poor posture has on our health beyond the obvious appearances.

Ideally we want to avoid poor posture developing, but what can you do when it's already there? Will a back brace improve posture? And do back braces for posture correction even work? Or is there a better alternative such as exercises we can do that will help? In this article on poor posture and back braces, you'll find out.

If you are unfortunate enough to wear a back brace when you were younger, then the idea of back braces for posture correction might seem like a terrible thing to you.

However, back braces have become increasingly popular recently, as more and more people are becoming aware of their posture and are looking for a way to improve it. The back braces that we used to use for various back ailments in the past are significantly different to the braces that we use today to improve posture.



What Are Back Braces for Posture Correction?

The idea of wearing a back brace to improve posture is generally to hold you in a position of correct posture, and retrain your muscles so that your back will maintain an upright position without a lot of effort.

When people spend a lot of time hunching forward, such as in front of a computer, or if they are not particularly active, they start to lose their muscle tone in their torso, core muscles, and abs. Also, they may start to hunt should their shoulders forward, which can make things even worse.

By using back braces for posture, you can begin building those muscles in a way that helps you stand upright.

Even people who have been slumping or slouching for many years can utilise a brace to help their posture.

Posture braces can address poor control in the lower back or in the mid to upper back and shoulders during the initial phase when you have no or little postural awareness.

As your posture improves with your posture exercises to address muscle strength and endurance you can transition from a heavy to lower support posture brace. Further weaning to kinesiology postural taping may be taken to help achieve the final transition to perfect posture without a posture brace or posture taping.


Why Do You Need Good Posture?

There are a number of different reasons why good posture is important, even though you may think that this is only a cosmetic issue.

First of all, when you stand upright with good posture, you will appear taller and thinner, and obviously a lot more confident too. If you looked at photographs of one person, and they were slouching in one photo and standing tall in another, they would probably look like two different people to you, and you would also have a different opinion of them, too.

Secondly, When you are slouching, you are also not getting sufficient oxygen into your body, which means that lack of posture actually affects your energy level. As a result, you may actually gain weight and become tired more easily when you are not prone to standing or sitting upright.



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What's The Catch?

The problem with any brace, whether it is a posture brace, or a back, knee, or ankle brace, is that you can quickly become dependant on them. What this means is that the brace will give you 'artificial' support, meaning in turn that your own muscles no longer need to do the job of providing support and a result, the muscles can start to weaken. This can actually make the problem you are trying to correct (poor posture, bad back, flat feet etc.) even worse. 

This is why it is crucially important that you wear your brace ONLY for short periods of time, around 30 minutes maximum. Of course a smarter way is always to actually strengthen muscles that are weakened or out of balance with other muscles. Particularly with poor posture and back pain, you must work on strengthening your posterior chain muscles. Healthyspines.org's Total Back Pain Solution online exercise program specifically shows you exactly what to do in order to strengthen these vital spinal stabilising and postural muscles.

So be sure to follow a postural exercise program as well as using your postural brace. This way you are guaranteed to get long lasting postural correction, not just a temporary fix.


Are There Different Types of Braces?

There are a number of different types of back braces for posture, from the cheap and simple, to expensive custom made braces, and even tech savvy braces that can connect to your smart phone.

If your doctor has addressed your posture with you, then they may recommend one of their favourite brands. They may also recommend that you have a brace custom made for you. For some people with special needs, such as scoliosis, this may be your only choice, but it could set you back hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

If there is one thing that most back braces have in common, it is that they are unattractive and not very comfortable. Especially the older styles of back braces, which were once used for people with back issues or pain, are particularly uncomfortable.


The Best Back Braces For Posture Correction.

HealthySpines.org recommends the following Postural Braces.

1/ The Smart Back Brace

The Smart Back Brace is a new product that was released in Dec 2016 and is using the latest technology to improve posture. It is unlike anything else on the market, and it’s not just a shoulder brace! It’s a smart, Bluetooth-connected device that trains you to stay in proper posture. It’s compatible with both iPhone and Android. This kind of tech does not come cheap of course, and this is one of the more expensive posture braces, running at around $100.



The Smart Back Brace was designed to provide the maximum benefits for you:

  • Improve your posture by wearing SBB just 15-30 minutes a day
  • Maintain your good posture by teaching your body how to hold it
  • Better posture will make you feel better not only physically, but also mentally
  • Actively monitors your posture.
  • 30 day money back guarantee.
  • Available for purchase here.


2/ComfyMed Posture Corrector Clavicle Support Brace

Probably the most comfortable posture brace available. The ComfyMed Posture Corrector Clavicle Support Brace features a new hybrid design combining the light weight and freedom of movement of a simple Figure 8 Brace with the support and comfort of a traditional full brace. This simpler posture brace is also a more economical choice.

  • EASY TO PUT ON - The only brace that you can put on and adjust by yourself.
  • STAND TALL AND CONFIDENT - For the Treatment and Prevention of Cervical and Thoracic Conditions such as bad computer posture
  • UNISEX - SIZE REG 29" TO 40" - Measure your Chest under your arms.
  • Money back guarantee.
  • Available for purchase here.


Is This the Right Kind of Thing for You?

Whether you are looking at a back brace because you want an easy way to improve your posture, or because you are having back or other health issues that this can help you with, finding the right back brace for you is essential.

Ideally, this is not the device you would want to wear for a long period of time each day, because you could actually start relying on it.

But, by wearing a brace, you will be able to strengthen and retrain your muscles without building a dependence on the device.

Because these particular back braces come with a money back guarantee and is also a very affordable price, it is the preferred solution for people who really want to make a change in their posture quickly and effectively.

You will feel better while wearing modern back braces for posture, and your friends and family will also notice that you walk, stand, and sit straighter, too.

So as well as making sure you feel better now, with good spinal care you will be ensuring your future wellbeing too!


If you have any questions, or would like to share your own experience, please leave us a comment below.


Also, if you have found this article helpful, please share it so we can help even more people! Thankyou.



Breathing Techniques For Anxiety



Breathing Techniques For Anxiety


AnxietyYour chest is tight, your breath is shallow and your heart is racing: your body is giving you all the tell-tale signs of being really, really stressed. A good deal of research is starting to show  that simply focusing on your breath is enough to quell the anxiety. If you're feeling stressed or overwhelmed, one of the best things you can do is take control of your breath. It sends a signal to the brain that you're not in danger, and you'll start to feel physically calmer almost immediately. These specific breathing techniques for anxiety can really help.

The reason why is all to do with a part of our brains called the amygdala. The amygdala is comprised of two almond-shaped nodules that sit deep inside your brain, and have the terribly tough job of reacting to situations that set off our emotions (like fear and anxiety).

Put simply, when life gives you lemons, your amygdala begins to try and make lemonade – and that comes with a whole range of physiological symptoms like sweaty palms and dizziness. When we're stressed or anxious, our amygdala is detecting stimuli that it perceives requires increased energy to respond to.

As such, it sends signals to our body to prepare for response, including increased heart rate and breathing rates. The more stressed we become, the more we tend to breathe (hence the stereotypical image of an anxiety sufferer hyperventilating into a paper bag). The more we breathe, the more oxygen we force into our bloodstream, and this can then make the stress feel even greater as we overload our brain with short breaths.

Because our blood cells need to exchange carbon dioxide with oxygen in order to use the oxygen, lowered carbon dioxide levels mean our bodies can't use the oxygen we have as effectively.

Lowered carbon dioxide levels can cause vasoconstriction — that’s tightening of the blood vessels, which increases blood pressure — leading to dizziness or light headedness, and feelings of anxiety or panic, increasing our sense of stress.

While simply breathing deeply in and out can work, it can be more helpful to have a structured approach that gives you something to really concentrate on and take your mind off the stress at hand.


Easy Relaxation Breathing.

This is a handy technique that you can use to help slow down your breath if you feel the panic setting in.

Ideally, this best done lying with your back on the floor in a comfortable position, but it's totally understandable that you're probably freaking out at work and going full turtle-mode on the office carpet may invite some strange looks.

Place one hand on your chest and then take a deep breath while counting to 10. As you breathe out, imagine that you're blowing the word "relax" out with your air – this will help to settle your shoulders.

Then, inhale slowly again but this time just for three low seconds. You should feel the air go deeper and deeper into your body, right down to your belly button. After three seconds, exhale with another slow three seconds, completing one six-second cycle.

Repeat this five times, and take a break at any time if you feel yourself being light headed. Remember to say (or rather, think) the word "relax" every time you breathe out.




The 4-7-8 Breath.

This technique calls on you to rest your tongue gently on the ridge of tissue behind your upper front teeth, then inhale quietly for a count of four through your nose, hold your breath for a count of seven, then exhale with a whooshing sound for a count of eight through your mouth.

Repeat it four times and you'll be amazed when you emerge feeling quieter and calmer.

What's important is the holding part, it actually flicks off the tap that is essentially pouring stress chemicals into your body.

Interestingly, the 4-7-8 breath has three specific effects over our stress levels:

1. The physical effect

If something happens in the environment, you go into this fight or flight mode – you can't concentrate and your heart is beating faster.

But if you can slow your breathing down it will slow down the other processes because most of them need oxygen to get going. So physically, you're telling your body to 'slow down'.


2. The concentration effect

The fact the 4-7-8 breath is not a rhythm and you have to hold it for quite a long period of time distracts you from your stressful thinking.

You really have to concentrate [on the counts] and it brings you into the present moment and calms you down.


3. The emotional effect

This breathing technique gives you a sense of control – if you can do the breathing successfully you're going to feel like you're doing something to change a situation.

That feeling of being in control of one part of your life is going to make you feel you can manage the other stress in your life better. A minute is all it takes!



When you're sucked in a stress vortex, it can feel like it will require weeks on a Caribbean beach to turn off the brain chatter. Techniques like the 4-7-8 breath prove that all you really need is a minute to change your hyperactive thought patterns.

You find that no matter what technique you use to slow down your breathing, a minute is about what it takes to feel a difference.

If you find it difficult to hold your breath for seven counts and exhale for eight, then Hall says you might like to start off with smaller counts.

Normally I get people to start with three or four seconds breathing in and three or four seconds breathing out, then work up to holding your breath in the middle.

Then you work up to breathing out for longer than breathing in and once you're good at that, switch to something like 4-7-8.

learning how to slow down your breathing is a lot like putting a lid on a bottle: it might not stop your anxiety instantly, but it will certainly stop more of it from gushing out.

Many anxiety sufferers breathe too fast and shallow. When confronted with a feared scenario they breathe rapidly which leads to increased shortness of breath and further hyperventilation. Typically, a stressful situation causes a bodily reaction, like hyperventilation, and our mind negatively reacts to the unpleasant sensation of hyperventilation, causing further stress and increased hyperventilation. Slow breathing can relieve anxiety and prevent you from having a panic attack, if you do it as soon as you notice yourself over-breathing or becoming anxious.


If you have any questions, or would like to share your own experience, please leave us a comment below.


Also, if you have found this article helpful, please share it so we can help even more people! Thankyou.


Prostate Cancer and Back Pain



Prostate Cancer and Back Pain


Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer affecting Australian men. According to the Cancer Council Australia (CCA), nearly 20 thousand cases were diagnosed in 2010. Men are more likely to develop prostate cancer if they have a family history that includes the diagnosis of prostate cancer in a close relative and the incidence is greater again if that relative was diagnosed before the age of 60. Prostate cancer is rare in men under the age of 50.

Symptoms of prostate cancer typically involve urinary or sexual dysfunction, however a significant number of men will develop prostate cancer without symptoms. It is important to note that the symptoms of prostate cancer are also found in benign forms of prostatic disease.

Symptoms of prostatic disease:

Difficulty in passing urine
A weak or interrupted flow of urine
Increase in urination frequency
Increase in frequency of nocturia
Urinary incontinence
Painful ejaculation
Erectile dysfunction

Left untreated, prostate cancer metastasises to the skeletal system in 85{95f364b8aea3ba4afb976a81c1dcc2e8147daac1866ef443968911255633a999} of cases. Once it has metastasised, it is considered incurable. Early detection of prostate cancer is essential. The 5 year survival rate for patients in whom the cancer has been confined to the prostate is nearly 90{95f364b8aea3ba4afb976a81c1dcc2e8147daac1866ef443968911255633a999}, whereas the 5 year survival rate in cases where metastasis has occurred is at approximately 30{95f364b8aea3ba4afb976a81c1dcc2e8147daac1866ef443968911255633a999}.

Bone metastasis from prostate cancer most typically involves the lumbar spine, ribs, pelvis and proximal femurs. Metastasis from prostate cancer also has a predilection for the lungs and liver.

Bone metastasis from prostate cancer begins as an osteolytic process which transitions in time to an osteoblastic type. In the osteolytic phase, alkaline phosphatase is elevated, although this enzyme is also elevated in liver disease and its detection in laboratory testing could also implicate liver metastasis.

It is important to consider bone metastasis in patients who present with a new complaint of low back pain after the age of 50. Unrelenting pain, nocturnal pain, evidence of unexplained weight loss or any other signs and symptoms of underlying illness should be thoroughly investigated.

Stages of Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is classified into 4 stages:

In Stage I, the cancer is confined to the prostate but is non-palpable by rectal examination.

In Stage II, the cancer is confined to the prostate but is palpable by rectal examination.

In Stage III, the cancer has broken through the prostate capsule and may involve the seminal vesicles.

In Stage IV, the cancer has invaded adjacent structures other than the seminal vesicles.





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Cauda Equina Syndrome Symptoms



Cauda Equina Syndrome Symptoms


Cauda Equina Syndrome, although uncommon, is a serous spine disorder. It is the result of compression of the Cauda Equina nerves, which are a bundle of nerves at the end of the spinal cord. The spinal cord ends between the L1 and L2 vertebral levels as a tapered structure called the conus medullaris (around the same level as your kidneys). Below the conus medullaris, nerves continue to extend down inside the spinal column in a group named the cauda equina (latin for horse's tail). The cauda equina includes the nerve roots of L2 to L5 and all the sacral and coccygeal nerves.




What Causes Cauda Equina Syndrome

Cauda Equina Syndrome results from compression or swelling of the nerve roots of the cauda equina. This is usually due to conditions such as:

  • A severe ruptured spinal disc in the lumbar area (the most common cause)
  • Spinal tumour
  • Narrowing of the spinal canal (stenosis)
  • Infection or inflammation
  • Fracture, dislocation or haematoma (trauma)
  • Birth defect

Cauda Equina Syndrome is rare but has serious consequences and can cause devastating long-lasting neurological deficits. Prompt evaluation and urgent Magnetic Resonance Imaging assessment should be performed in all patients who present with back pain in conjunction with sudden onset of urinary or bowel symptoms or abnormal neurological findings consistent with cauda equina involvement.


Symptoms of Cauda Equina Syndrome:

  • Low back pain
  • Unilateral or bilateral sciatica
  • Saddle hypaesthesia or anaesthesia
  • Bowel and bladder disturbances. Typically, urinary manifestations begin with urinary retention and are later followed by overflow urinary incontinence.
  • Lower extremity motor weakness and sensory deficits
  • Reduced or absent lower extremity reflexes

The onset of Cauda Equina Syndrome can be either sudden (acute) within 24 hours or gradual over a period of weeks or months.

If patients with cauda equina syndrome do not receive treatment quickly, adverse results such as paralysis, impaired bladder, and/or bowel control, difficulty walking, and/or other neurological and physical problems can quickly arise. It is imperative to seek professional advice immediately if you are experiencing any of the above symptoms.

However, patients should be aware that acute cauda equina syndrome that results in permanent nerve damage is extremely rare.


Diagnosis and Treatment of Cauda Equina Syndrome

Cauda Equina Syndrome is diagnosed through an understanding of the patients history, physical examination, and medical imaging such as MRI, CT scans, and/or a myelogram.

Once diagnosed, Cauda Equina Syndrome is considered a medical emergency requiring immediate surgery to prevent permanent damage. Often the patient will require medication such as steroids to control inflammation, or antibiotics for an infection. The long term prognosis depends on a variety of factors, specifically how quickly surgery was performed after the onset of symptoms.

While it is generally thought that neurological damage caused by cauda equina syndrome is permanent, some studies have reported that long-term management may allow patients with initially poor prognosis following surgery to eventually regain a near-normal voiding of a bladder with little daily interruption.


If you have any questions, or would like to share your own experience, please leave us a comment below.

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Spinal Fractures


Spinal Fractures


Although not as common as mechanical causes of back pain such as facet syndrome or a bulging disc, spinal fractures can be a serious cause of back pain. There are several different kinds of spinal fractures, and unlike a broken leg or arm, spinal fractures have the potential to cause other  problems due to the fact that they can also cause damage to the spinal cord or nerves. This can result in a serious problem presenting with other symptoms due to nerve injury.

Most spinal fractures occur from car accidents, falls, gunshot, or sports. Injuries can range from relatively mild ligament and muscle strains, to fractures and dislocations of the bony vertebrae, to debilitating spinal cord damage. Depending on how severe your injury is, you may experience pain, difficulty walking, or be unable to move your arms or legs (paralysis).













Typical Spinal Fracture Symptoms

The main clinical symptoms of vertebral fractures typically include one or a combination of the following symptoms:

  • Sudden onset of back pain
  • Standing or walking will usually make the pain worse
  • Lying on one’s back makes the pain less intense
  • Limited spinal mobility
  • Height loss
  • Deformity and disability

The symptoms of a spinal fracture vary depending on the severity of the fracture, and it’s location. Symptoms may also include back or neck pain, numbness, tingling, muscle spasm, weakness, bowel/bladder changes, and even paralysis. Paralysis is a loss of the ability to move the arms or legs, and may indicate a spinal cord injury. However, it is important to know that not all fractures cause spinal cord injury/damage.


What Are The Causes Of Spinal Fractures? 

Car accidents (45{95f364b8aea3ba4afb976a81c1dcc2e8147daac1866ef443968911255633a999}), falls (20{95f364b8aea3ba4afb976a81c1dcc2e8147daac1866ef443968911255633a999}), sports (15{95f364b8aea3ba4afb976a81c1dcc2e8147daac1866ef443968911255633a999}), acts of violence (15{95f364b8aea3ba4afb976a81c1dcc2e8147daac1866ef443968911255633a999}), and miscellaneous activities (5{95f364b8aea3ba4afb976a81c1dcc2e8147daac1866ef443968911255633a999}) are the primary causes of spinal fractures. Diseases such as osteoporosis and spine tumors also contribute to fractures.


Who Is Affected By Traumatic Spinal Fractures?

80{95f364b8aea3ba4afb976a81c1dcc2e8147daac1866ef443968911255633a999} of patients are aged 18-25 years.
Men are 4 times more likely to have a traumatic spinal fracture than women.


Types Of Spinal Fractures.

There are several different types of spinal fractures: Compression, Burst, Flexion-distraction, and Fracture-dislocation. Each of these types of fractures is described below. Other terms used to describe a spinal fracture include stable, unstable, minor, and/or major.

Compression Fracture: This type of fracture is very common in patients with osteoporosis, or patients whose bones have been weakened by other diseases (such as bone cancer). Each spinal vertebra can only absorb so much pressure. If there is a sudden force involving a lot of pressure on the vertebra, it may not be able to handle the stress and will collapse and fracture.
A wedge fracture is a subtype of compression fracture. With a wedge fracture, part of the vertebra—usually the anterior (front) part—collapses under pressure causing the vertebra to become wedge shaped.

Burst Fracture: Burst fractures are caused by a severe trauma, for example a car accident. They can happen when the vertebra is essentially crushed by sudden, extreme force. Unlike compression fractures, it’s not just one part of the vertebra that’s fractured. In a burst fracture, the vertebra is fractured in multiple places. Because the vertebra is crushed completely, bony fragments can spread out and cause spinal cord injury. Burst fractures are more severe than compression fractures.

Flexion-distraction Fractures: If you’re in a car accident where your body is pushed forward, you may get a flexion-distraction fracture. Your spine is made to flex forward, but if there’s a sudden, excessive forward movement that places incredible stress on the spine into flexion, it may break a vertebra or vertebrae. 

Fracture-dislocation: If you have any of the above fractures and the vertebra(e) moves significantly (dislocation), you have a fracture-dislocation. They can make your spine very unstable.

Fracture of the Transverse Process: Fractures of the transverse processes of the lumbar spine are considered relatively common with blunt force trauma associated with contact sports and motor vehicle accidents (MVA).  Transverse process fractures may also arise as a result of avulsion (the bone being broken and pulled off by the muscle) from forceful muscle contractions involving the quadratus lumborum or psoas major muscles. In the absence of abdominal trauma and when the fracture is non-displaced, transverse process fractures are considered benign with a return to normal activities after 4 to 6 weeks.

The risk of internal organ damage is high in cases where the mechanism of onset is MVA, although these complications are usually found in cases with multiple fractures involving the pelvis and the ribcage. 


Stable and Unstable Fractures

Stable fractures don’t cause spinal deformity or neurologic (nerve) problems. With a stable fracture, the spine can still carry and distribute your weight pretty well (not as well as if there weren’t a fracture, but it’s still able to function with a stable fracture).
Unstable fractures make it difficult for the spine to carry and distribute weight. Unstable fractures have a chance of progressing and causing further damage. They may also cause spinal deformity.

Major and Minor Fractures

Minor fracture means a part of the posterior (back side) elements of the vertebra has broken—parts of the spine that are not as important to spinal column stability, or stability at the fractured level. The posterior elements include the spinous process and the facet joints (also called the articular processes). If you fracture this part of the vertebrae, it’s usually not too serious.
Major fracture means that part of the vertebral body, the pedicles, or the lamina has fractured. Fracturing the vertebral body is considered major because it helps carry so much weight and distribute the force of your movements. If it’s broken, you can have serious problems with the vertebrae lining up correctly. Fracturing the pedicles or lamina is dangerous because of the increased possibility of nerve damage. Additionally, the pedicles and lamina provide a lot of necessary support to keep your spine stable. If they fracture, your spine may be unstable.


Spinal Fracture Risk Factors

Aside from partaking in risky activities or extreme sports, the biggest risk factor for spinal fracture is due to a decrease in bone density. If your bones are slowly becoming weaker, possibly due to osteoporosis or osteopenia, it is not something that you notice or feel. Unfortunately for most people, the first indication that they are losing bone density is from a spinal compression fracture. The following list indicates several risk factors for spinal fracture.

Aging: As we age, our bones naturally lose some density and become weaker, so the risk for fractures increases.
Being female: Bone loss is more common in women, especially post-menopausal women. Women lose bone mass at an accelerated rate in the first 5-7 years after menopause. During menopause, women experience a steep drop in estrogen, which is a female sex hormone that protects bones. When estrogen levels decrease, bones may lose density and become prone to fractures.
Having a pre-existing spinal fracture: It sounds obvious, but having one spinal fracture greatly increases your chances of having another. Over time, multiple fractures can cause a loss of height, and you may notice your spine starting to hunch forward. Your doctor may refer to this forward curve as a condition called kyphosis.
Unhealthy lifestyle habits: Smoking, drinking large amounts of alcohol, and not exercising can all affect healthy bone density. Smoking and heavy alcohol consumption affects your body’s ability to absorb calcium. Living a sedentary lifestyle makes bones weak, making them prone to bone loss.


How is a diagnosis made?

In most cases of a spinal injury, paramedics will take you to an emergency room (ER). The first doctor to see you in the ER is an Emergency Medicine specialist who is a member of the trauma team. Depending on your injuries, other specialists will be called to assess your condition. The doctors will assess your breathing and perform a physical exam of the spine. The spine is kept in a neck or back brace until appropriate diagnostic tests are completed.

X-ray test uses x-rays to view the bony vertebrae in your spine and can tell your doctor if any of them show fractures. Special flexion and extension x-rays may be taken to detect any abnormal movement.

Computed Tomography (CT) scan is a safe, noninvasive test that uses an X-ray beam and a computer to make 2-dimensional images of your spine. It may or may not be performed with a dye (contrast agent) injected into your bloodstream. It is especially useful for viewing changes in bony structures.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan is a noninvasive test that uses a magnetic field and radiofrequency waves to give a detailed view of the soft tissues of your spine. Unlike an X-ray, nerves and discs are clearly visible. It may or may not be performed with a dye (contrast agent) injected into your bloodstream. MRI is useful in evaluating soft tissue damage to the ligaments and discs, and assessing spinal cord injury.


What treatments are available?

Treatment of a fracture begins with pain management and stabilization to prevent further injury. Other body injuries (e.g., to the chest) may be present and need treatment as well. Depending on the type of fracture and its stability, bracing and/or surgery may be necessary.

Braces & Orthotics do three things, 1) maintains spinal alignment; 2) immobilizes your spine during healing; and 3) controls pain by restricting movement. Stable fractures may only require stabilization with a brace, such as a rigid collar (Miami J) for cervical fractures, a cervical-thoracic brace (Minerva) for upper back fractures, or a thoracolumbar-sacral orthosis (TLSO) for lower back fractures. After 8 to 12 weeks the brace is usually discontinued. Unstable neck fractures or dislocations may require traction to realign the spine into its correct position. A halo ring and vest brace may be required.

Instrumentation & Fusion are surgical procedures to treat unstable fractures. Fusion is the joining of two vertebrae with a bone graft held together with hardware such as plates, rods, hooks, pedicle screws, or cages. The goal of the bone graft is to join the vertebrae above and below to form one solid piece of bone. It may take several months or longer to create a solid fusion.

Vertebroplasty & Kyphoplasty are minimally invasive procedures performed to treat compression fractures commonly caused by osteoporosis and spinal tumors. In vertebroplasty, bone cement is injected through a hollow needle into the fractured vertebral body. In kyphoplasty, a balloon is first inserted and inflated to expand the compressed vertebra before filling the space with bone cement.




Vertebral fractures can be a serious health problem, particularly if the spinal cord or internal organs are damaged/injured. Usually the sudden onset of pain is a strong indication for the possibility of spinal fracture, and professional medical help should be a priority.

If you have any questions, or would like to share your own experience, please leave us a comment below.

Also, if you have found this article helpful, please share it so we can help even more people! Thankyou.


Best Backpacks Kids Can Use For School



Best Backpacks Kids Can Use For School


backpackChoosing the best backpacks kids can use for school is an important consideration when you are looking at maintaining your child’s optimal spinal health. The ill-effects of a poorly fitted school backpack can not just be causing them back pain now, it may be setting them up for spinal health problems in the future. The following advice and recommendations will ensure you are making the right decisions for your child.

According to an international study, daily backpack carrying is a frequent cause of discomfort for school children. School backpacks were felt to be heavy by 79.1{95f364b8aea3ba4afb976a81c1dcc2e8147daac1866ef443968911255633a999} of children, to cause fatigue by 65.7{95f364b8aea3ba4afb976a81c1dcc2e8147daac1866ef443968911255633a999}, and to cause back pain by 46.1{95f364b8aea3ba4afb976a81c1dcc2e8147daac1866ef443968911255633a999}. Findings published in the Australian Spine Journal also revealed that the weight of the average backpack is often heavier, proportionally, than the legal load-bearing limit for adults. 

You may not know that adult back pain and spinal disorders can stem from childhood. This may obviously include falls and sports injuries, posture, as well as carrying a heavily loaded backpack for 12 years or more of schooling. Many of the current bags children are using may be fashionable, but unless they allow for even weight distribution across the back, they can easily cause pain for your child. School can be a challenging time for children as it is, so ensuring they are as comfortable as possible is important to their physical and mental development.

A study revealed 90 per cent of school children have bad posture when carrying their bags and could experience spinal damage as a result, while 75 per cent are not using their backpack’s ergonomic features which could prevent such damage. Heavy weighted backpacks can cause muscle strain, irritation, and negative postural changes, which can lead to back pain and spinal disorders, particularly after carrying a heavily loaded backpack for twelve years or more of schooling. Many of the current bags children use may be fashionable, but unless they allow for even weight distribution across the back, they can cause a lot of discomfort for children.


Risk Factors With School Backpacks

  • Carrying too much and in the wrong way
  • On average, parent’s estimate junior school children are carrying the equivalent of 17 per cent of their body weight in their school bags which is almost double the maximum recommended weight.
  • While many children are using both backpack straps, 20 per cent continue to wear their backpacks slung over one shoulder and 33 per cent are wearing their backpacks too low on their backs.
  • Backpacks are being overfilled with extra items such as sports clothes, with 79 per cent of school bags full to the point of bulging.
  • One in three parents report their children wear their backpacks positioned too low.
  • Junior school children are carrying the heaviest backpacks compared to their body weight while middle school children are most likely to carry a backpack on one shoulder rather than both. Ergonomic features ignored by students but important to parents.
  • School children are reluctant to use their backpack’s ergonomic features with 75 per cent failing to use these features.
  • While the majority of school children carry backpacks with ergonomic features, 35 per cent are carrying backpacks without any supportive features.
  • Despite more than 85 per cent of parents saying it is important their child’s backpack is ergonomically sound, 26 per cent were unsure if their child’s backpack had basic design features to prevent spinal damage.
  • Ergonomic features are an important consideration for parents with nearly one in five parents saying ergonomic features were their primary consideration when purchasing a backpack.


Check out healthyspines.org’s tips for carrying school backpacks, and our recommended products below.


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Tips For Carrying Heavy Backpacks

1. Backpacks should be ideally no heavier than 10{95f364b8aea3ba4afb976a81c1dcc2e8147daac1866ef443968911255633a999} of a student’s weight when packed.
2. Make sure the backpack is sturdy and appropriately sized – no wider than the student’s chest
3. Put comfort and fit at the top of the priority list, rather than just good looks and style
4. Choose a backpack with broad, padded shoulder straps
5. Use both shoulder straps – never sling the pack over one shoulder
6. Use waist straps attached – they are there for a good reason
7. Don’t wear the backpack any lower than the hollow of the lower back
8. Don’t overload the backpack – use school lockers and plan homework well in advance
9. Place all heavy items at the base of the pack, close to the spine, for a better weight distribution


Backpack Buying Tips

Here are the main points to keep in mind when you’re shopping for the best backpacks kids can use for school.

Two straps: This will distribute the weight evenly and is safer for the carrier’s back, neck and shoulders.
Reflective: If children will be walking home from school or out at night, their backpack should have pieces of reflective material on the bag.
Fit: Have your child try on the bag before you purchase it. The bottom of the bag should meet the lower back, but should not be more than 4 inches below the waistline. The point at which the bag and straps meet should be 1 to 2 inches below the top of the shoulders.
Weight: When you’ve selected the right backpack, make sure you don’t overload it. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons recommends that a backpack should not exceed 15 to 20 percent of a child’s body weight, but the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends not exceeding 10 percent.


Healthyspines.org highly recommends the Vitalismo Anti-theft Water Resistant School Bag. It features an ergonomic design as well as the following features, at an affordable price.

  • Size: This travel laptop backpack approximate dimension is 11.8” x 5.9” x 18.1”, Laptop compartment fits up to 15.6″, holding your laptop, tablet, Macbook Air/Pro, ipad, phone, pen, notebook, wallet, umbrella, books, folders, and other things as many as possible.
  • Separate laptop compartment – Soft bubble foam padded layer for bump & shock absorption and protection from accidental scratches. Laptop slots adjustable sleeves fit for most 15.6 inch.
  • Ergonomic Design – Padded shoulder straps and back padding offer extra back support and comfort, top loop handle for a secure hold when picking up or moving the backpack.
  • Water Repellent & Mulipurpose – Multipurpose daypacks, the thoughtfully designed backpack is perfects for business traveling, weekend getaways, go to college, shopping and other outdoor activities in daily life.
  • Safety – It is professional Anti-theft backpack, high quality Anti-theft dual-zippers with Invisible zipper design, and special laptop pocket make your stuff more safety. Waterproof Travel Rucksack Daypack made with tear-resistant durable nylon fabric and its dual-access zipper with anti-theft design allows for easy access and increases safety.


For the really small kids just starting out at school, we recommend using a wheeled backpack such as the Everest Wheeled Backpack.




If you have any questions, or would like to share your own experience, please leave us a comment below.

Also, if you have found this article helpful, please support us and share so we can help more people! Thankyou.



Backpacks on! Schoolchildren’s perceptions of load, associations with back pain and factors determining the load. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2002 Jan 15;27(2):187-95.

Back pain and backpacks in school children. J Pediatr Orthop. 2006 May-Jun;26(3):358-63.

Correlation between backpack weight and way of carrying, sagittal and frontal spinal curvatures, athletic activity, and dorsal and low back pain in schoolchildren and adolescents. J Spinal Disord Tech. 2004 Feb;17(1):33-40.

Backpack and spinal disease: myth or reality? Rev Chir Orthop Reparatrice Appar Mot. 2004 May;90(3):207-14.

Postural effects of symmetrical and asymmetrical loads on the spines of schoolchildren.  Scoliosis. 2007; 2: 8. Published online 2007 Jul 9. doi:  10.1186/1748-7161-2-8