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.

 

References:

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

 

Is Pain Medication Making You Worse!

 

 

Is Pain Medication Making You Worse!

 

stocksnap_s5wgvl18a9-768x5122Whether you are suffering with a recent injury or an ongoing chronic condition, it is important for you to understand that any pain you may have been experiencing is not the actual underlying problem. What a lot of people do not realise is that by taking pain medication you could actually be making the problem worse.

Just like thirst is a signal from your body that you are dehydrated and need to drink water, pain is a signal from your body that something is wrong. Put simply, pain is a warning sign. However, like the piercing sound from a fire alarm, the alarm itself is not the problem. It’s just letting you know that there is a problem.

However, regardless of the underlying problem, we all want pain to stop fast!

This has provided a massive market for pills and drugs like Neurofen and Panadeine Forte. These medications are effective in reducing the pain signals, but actually do nothing to correct the underlying cause of your pain. This is effectively like turning off the fire alarm so you don’t have to hear it while your house continues to burn down! Needless to say, this is obviously not a good strategy. Whilst it may help in providing short term relief, over the long term it is not actually fixing the problem, and may be making it worse.

Pain is a signal that let's you know: 1) Something is wrong, and 2) It will tell you when you are potentially going to do more damage. For example, if you have injured your back, and it hurts to move a certain way, that is your body telling you 'Don't do that, you are going to make it worse!' The real problem with taking pain medication is that you know longer 'hear' that signal or alarm. So yes, you can move more, but you can also do more damage. That is why taking pain medication can make you worse off, because you could actually be aggravating the injury but not be aware of it (until later!).

Now we are not saying 'Don't use pain medication under any circumstances.' There a definitely times when you need a bit of help to get you through, but you need to understand all the implications of taking pain medication. There are also many well documented, so-called 'side effects' (they are not 'side effects', they are just the other effects that the drugs have on your body, for example increased risk of heart problems and stomach bleeds, both of which can kill you!). In fact Paracetamol, the most commonly used pain medication, has been shown to have absolutely no effect on pain at all!

So whilst you may need to rely on pain medication for some relief, if you are suffering with a bad back, make sure you get professional advise on how to fix the underlying problem. Ignoring it often leads to more problems in time, and there are several excellent solutions out there.

Most spinal problems have accumulated over time from a combination of old injuries, poor posture and not moving correctly (for example, not lifting correctly). Just like tooth decay, your spine suffers degenerative change unless you give it the attention it needs. Loss of the normal spinal curves, thinning discs and calcification can accumulate over time due to spinal dysfunction.

As you would expect, aches and pains, stiffness, fatigue, loss of height and distorted posture can get worse as spinal degeneration increases. And the longer your spine has been ‘out’ the higher the likelihood of developing permanent structural damage.

The good news is that whatever your level of spinal degeneration, you can actually halt and even possibly reverse it by restoring normal spinal movement.

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.

 

 

Does Cracking Your Knuckles Cause Arthritis?

 

 

Does Cracking Your Knuckles Cause Arthritis?

 

handYou might be surprised to know that I never cracked my knuckles as a kid.

'Yeah right Dr Brad, you're a chiropractor. I bet you were cracking every knuckle you could find! Your own, your brothers, the cats. Anything!'

Well no sorry, but I didn't. I never practised on the cat, I promise.

Anyway..... it was a generally accepted urban myth back in the 70's and 80's that cracking your knuckles could lead to arthritis. I remember my older brother cracking the knuckles in his hands as a kid, and firmly being told not to do it. My mum also used to tell my brother and I that punching each other in the arm would cause cancer, not that it ever stopped us (or him, really, to be more precise).

Even if I was a knuckle cracker, I probably wouldn't have stopped. Arthritis was for old people, and I was a young person so I didn't have to worry about it. But I never forgot about it.

This urban myth, like many others at the time, was well known and it was something that you would hear people talk about quite often. But is it actually true?

Well, no. There is no evidence that shows that cracking your knuckles, or any other joint in your body for that matter, will lead to arthritis. In fact one curious child performed a very interesting personal experiment. Dr Donald Unger, a medical doctor, decided at a young age to test out his mothers warning that cracking his knuckles would cause arthritis. Dr Unger then proceeded to only crack the knuckles in his left hand, and NEVER in his right hand, for 60 years!

He found that there was no difference in the amount of arthritis in his hands after 60 years. Whilst this is only anecdotal evidence from a study size of exactly 1, and would not be considered 'real' science,  it still ended up with Dr Unger receiving the Ig Nobel Prize for Medicine in 2009. (It's like the Nobel Prize, but highlight scientists whose work is somewhere between silly and serious.)

Some serious research has been done that shows that long term knuckle cracking may cause swelling and a loss of grip strength in some people, but it showed no increased risk of developing arthritis.

So there you go, feel free to crack away, it's probably not going to cause you any harm. Only to the people around you that cringe every time they hear that crunch!

 

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

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Carpal Tunnel Treatment Without Surgery

 

 

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

 

carpal_tunnel_reliefCarpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is one of the most expensive of all work-related injuries with regards to time and money. It happens when the nerve in your wrist is compressed, causing numbness, tingling or burning in the hand. Although surgery is an option, many people would like to know about a simpler, more natural way to treat carpal tunnel syndrome.

Women are 3 times more likely to develop CTS than men. The dominant hand is usually affected first, and the pain is typically severe. CTS is commonly seen in assembly-line workers involved in activities such as manufacturing, sewing, finishing, cleaning, meatpacking, and similar industries. Contrary to the conventional wisdom, according to recent research, people who perform data entry at a computer (up to 7 hours a day) are not at increased risk of developing CTS.

 

What Is CTS?

carpal_tunnel_syndromeCTS affects of the median nerve, which runs from the forearm into the hand. CTS occurs when the median nerve gets compressed in the carpal tunnel—a narrow tunnel at the wrist—made up of bones and soft tissues, such as nerves, tendons, ligaments, and blood vessels. The compression may result in pain, weakness, and/or numbness in the hand and wrist, which radiates up into the forearm. CTS is the most common of the “entrapment neuropathies”—compression or trauma of the body’s nerves in the hands or feet.

 

What Are the Symptoms?

Burning, tingling, itching, and/or numbness in the palm of the hand and thumb, index, and middle fingers are most common. Some people with CTS say that their fingers feel useless and swollen, even though little or no swelling is apparent. Since many people sleep with flexed wrists, the symptoms often first appear while sleeping. As symptoms worsen, they may feel tingling during the day. In addition, weakened grip strength may make it difficult to form a fist or grasp small objects. Some people develop wasting of the muscles at the base of the thumb. Some are unable to distinguish hot from cold by touch.

 

Why Does CTS Develop?

Some people have smaller carpal tunnels than others, which makes the median nerve compression more likely. In others, CTS can develop because of an injury to the wrist that causes swelling, over-activity of the pituitary gland, hypothyroidism, diabetes, inflammatory arthritis, mechanical problems in the wrist joint, poor work ergonomics, and repeated use of vibrating hand tools, fluid retention during pregnancy or menopause.

 

What Is The Best Carpal Tunnel Treatment Without Surgery?

carpal_tunnel_scarsResting the affected hand and wrist.
Avoiding activities that may worsen symptoms.
Immobilizing the wrist in a splint to avoid further damage from twisting or bending.
Applying cool packs to help reduce swelling from inflammations.
Some studies have shown that vitamin B6 supplements may relieve CTS symptoms.
Manipulation and mobilization of the wrist and hand by a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching and strengthening exercises, soft-tissue mobilization techniques, has been shown to be helpful in some cases.
 

Occasionally, patients whose symptoms fail to respond to conservative care may require surgery. The surgeon releases the ligament covering the carpal tunnel. Proper posture and movement as instructed by your doctor of chiropractic can help prevent CTS recurrences.

 

Can CTS Be Prevented?

Perform on-the-job conditioning, such as stretching and light exercises.
Take frequent rest breaks.
Wear splints to help keep the wrists straight.
Use fingerless gloves to help keep the hands warm and flexible.
Use correct posture and wrist position.

 

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.

Fun and Easy Exercises To Improve Kids Posture.

 

 

Fun and Easy Exercises To Improve Kids Posture.


Did you know that spinal problems can start to develop at any age? Most of us think that we only get 'back' problems as we get older, due to the fact that kids generally don't get back 'pain'. However, we are actually seeing more spinal problems developing at earlier ages. Conditions such as text neck that didn't even exist a few years ago are becoming more prevalent. And it is starting form an early age. In fact, most of the health problems (including spinal problems) that we feel later in life have slowly been building up from our childhood.

Factors such as poor posture, long hours of sitting at school and in front of the TV and computers, sports injuries and other lifestyle factors like diet and exercise are contributing to the decline of our spinal health (and overall health) every day. Even the birth process itself can create enormous amounts of spinal stress, the effects of which are usually not immediately obvious. They may not experience 'back pain' like we do as we get older, but the signs are often there to the observant. A key thing to look out for is posture. Does your child stand nice and tall with their head up straight, directly over their shoulders, knees and feet? Or do they slump forwards, with there head poking out to the front? Do they slouch when they are sitting?  Poor posture is not just a sign of poor spinal health, but has also been linked to many other diseases and ill health.

Just like oral hygiene and teaching our kids to brush their teeth every day, it is important to teach your kids how to look after their spine from an early age. By promoting some simple things like balance, strength and flexibility in the spine, the risk of developing problems with your child’s spine now and in the future can be substantially reduced. This simple 3 minute posture care program is designed to help children look and feel their best. This daily routine is and easy and fun way to help improve their posture and spinal health.

The program is divided up into three quick sessions and only takes around 3 minutes. It is also a lot of fun and is a great way for you to spend some time with your kids, and by doing it yourself, you will benefit from improved spinal health as well!

 

But first, here are some other things to be aware of regarding kids posture:

School Backpacks: This can be a real back strain for kids and deserves some attention.  

Best Foot Forward: Good footwear is important. Shoes with a good heel support and a good grip will make it easier to carry heavy bags.

Exercise: Lack of exercise is a child’s worst enemy. Make sure they are keeping active or playing sport regularly - the fitter the child is the less likely they are to injure themselves.

Keep Moving! Staying still for long periods is bad for the spine. Limit time at the computer or TV to a maximum of 40 minutes at a time. Get up and take a break - do something else for a while.

Computer Posture: When using a PC, tablet, or computer console be sure to sit up straight and comfortably, with the spine supported. Kids often don’t realise they are uncomfortable when they are absorbed in games etc.

 

The following exercises are designed for healthy children; please check with your doctor before continuing with this program.

 

First, STAND TALL!

 

       

 * Stand straight & tall with your head high.
 * Put your ears, shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles in a straight line, just like Jake is doing.
 * Pull your belly button in.

 

 

 

 

 

 

And here is an exercise you can do between the others, called the TRAP OPENER:


 

* Breathe deeply & calmly. Relax your tummy.
* Let your head hang loosely forward and gently turn from one side to the other.
* Using your fingers, gently rub the area just below the back of your head on your neck.
* Relax your shoulders & roll them backward and forward. Keep doing this while you count to 15!

 

 

 

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If this info has been of benefit to you, please consider a small donation. Even a few dollars helps us to continue our research and to maintain this website.

Thank you.

 

 

Following is the daily exercise program. Why not have some fun with your kids and join in!

 

 

 

Your posture is a good indicator of your spinal health, and spinal health affects your overall health.

This simple, fun, 3 minute daily routine is a great investment in your kids health and well being.

And it is never too early to start to learn about, and look after our spines!

 

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 Can I Tell If My Spine Is Healthy?

 

 

15 Warning Signs Of An Unhealthy Spine

warning signsMost of us never give a thought about our spinal health unless we have back pain, or some other kind of obvious problem. And this is reasonable to assume. If there is a problem, your body will let you know, right? Well this is not always the case, particularly with the spine. Because your spine has a major job to do in protecting your spinal cord, your body will automatically compensate for any spinal problems. This is important to minimise stress on the spine and nervous system. It also means that spinal problems can go undetected for many years before they get bad enough to cause obvious signs, like back pain.

So what do you look for that can give you an indication there are potential underlying spinal health problems? You can get a quick indication just by looking at someones posture. Posture is the window to the spine. If your posture is out of balance, then your spine is out of balance, putting pressure upon your nervous system.

Many health problems can stem from an unhealthy nervous system. Spinal health can have a direct affect on your spinal cord and nervous system, which is why it is so vital to regain and maintain optimal spinal health. Early detection and elimination of spinal problems will lead to a healthier nervous system at any stage of life. Good posture and spinal health is vital for optimal health in each and every person. 

Read through the following check list to see whether you or your loved ones could be unknowingly suffering from poor spinal health. Number 11 is great!

1. Check the bottom of your shoes. Do your heels wear evenly, or is one side more worn than the other?  Can be due to uneven leg length or stress along the length of your spine.

2. You can’t take a satisfying deep breath. Breathing, health and spinal health are interrelated.

3. Your jaw ‘clicks’. Unless you have injured your jaw (for example in a bar fight) or had major dental work, a clicking jaw can be caused by neck or hip misalignment.

4. You need to ‘crack’ your neck, back or other joints a lot. Certain areas of your spine may be locked or jammed, and doing this can make you worse.

5. You can’t turn your head or hips to either side equally and easily.  Spinal misalignment and joint dysfunction can reduce your range of motion.

6. You are often fatigued. Spinal problems can drain your energy.

7. You have poor concentration. Spinal misalignment can affect your brain function.

8. You get colds and infections easily (have low resistance to disease). Spinal misalignment can affect your neuro-endocrine system, which plays an important role in your immune system health, resistance to disease and your ability to fight infections.

9. Your foot flares out when walking. Walk normally somewhere that you can leave footprints, like along the beach or in light snow. Now look at your footprints. Do they both point forward, or does one flare outward or inward? Do both? Foot flare may be indicative of misalignment anywhere in the spine.   Alternatively, have some one watch your feet as you walk towards them.

10. One leg appears shorter than the other. With your shoes on, lie down and have someone look down at your feet. Get them to gently push your heels towards your head and compare where the soles of the shoes are. Are they even, or is one shorter than the other?

11. You have poor structural balance. Stand on two bathroom scales. Your weight should be the same on each scale. If not your hips, spine or head can be off centre. This is a very good indication of spinal health issues.

12. You have headaches, backaches, sore/ tender muscles and joints. These are some of the common symptoms of spinal problems.

13. You have constant stress and tension, particularly in muscles and joints. Muscles are affected by spinal misalignment.

14. Your back and/or neck feels stiff. Stiffness can be a sign of spinal damage due to misalignment and joint dysfunction.

15. You just don’t feel right or you are in general poor health. Spinal problems can affect your overall health.

 

 

If you answer yes to any of these, you need to see a spinal health specialist. Do not underestimate the affect that even seemingly minor problems can have on your overall health, and how they can accumulate over the years. Remember, your health is your responsibility.

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.

 

The Problem With Medication For Back Pain Relief.

 

 

Medication For Back Pain Relief.

 

PillsIf you’ve ever seen your doctor for a spinal condition, there is a very good chance that you would have been prescribed medication for back pain relief. In fact, if you have visited your medical doctor with back pain, this is their usual first action, prescribing pain killers. But which ones are the most effective, and are they really the best idea in the first place?

There are many different pain medications that are effective in back pain relief, but there is also a problem. Besides the fact that all medications carry so called ‘side effects’ (really just the effects of the drug that are harmful), it’s also important to understand that pain is not the problem, it’s just the symptom of underlying spinal problems. Unless you identify and address the underlying cause, your back problems are probably going to worsen over time (more on this later).

 

  • Tylenol/Panadol (Acetaminophen/Paracetomol)

The most widely available medication that is used to treat pain and fever. It is typically used for mild to moderate pain, although some studies are suggesting that it is not effective for back pain at all. It is generally considered safe at recommended dosage, and it’s effects last between 2-4 hours. First discovered in 1877, although it’s mechanism of action is not fully understood, it is the most commonly used medication for pain and fever in both the United States, Australia and Europe.

As well as it’s desired effects, Acetaminophen/Paracetomol can easily cause unwanted side effects. Acute overdose can be fatal, due to liver failure. The most common side effect is liver damage, as Acetaminophen/Paracetomol is toxic to the liver. Even healthy adults regularly taking the prescribed dose are more likely to show abnormal liver function tests. Acetaminophen/Paracetomol may also cause potentially fatal skin reactions, known as Stevens-Johnson Syndrome (SJS), toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN), and acute generalized exanthematous pustulosis (AGEP), often without warning.

 

  • NSAIDS (Aspirin, Ibuprofen, Naproxen)

Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) are a class of drugs that provide pain relief, reduce fever and in high doses, decrease inflammation. The most common NSAIDS are aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen and they are widely available over the counter in most countries. In 2001 NSAIDS accounted for 70,000,000 prescriptions and 30 billion over the counter doses sold annually in the United States .

Considering the sheer amount of NSAIDS that are taken every day, the adverse effects are quite shocking and are becoming increasingly common. The main adverse effects of NSAIDS relate to irritation of the gastrointestinal tract (GIT). A dual attack of the acidic molecules of NSAIDS combined with the decrease in protective prostoglandins can result in nausea and vomiting, dyspepsia, diarrhoea, and gastric ulcers and bleeding which can be fatal.

Other adverse effects include kidney problems, irritable bowel, possible erectile dysfunction, cardiovascular problems such as myocardial infarction and stroke (remember Vioxx), photosensitivity and allergic reactions.

Ironically, NSAIDS are also thought to disrupt cartilage synthesis, leading to joint destruction! So by treating joint pain with NSAIDS, you are actually making the problem much, much worse!

 

  • Selective COX-2 Inhibitors (Celebrex)

Essentially a new class of NSAIDS, Cox-2 Inhibitors work by limiting the formation of inflammation, and therefore reducing pain levels. Even though Celebrex is prescription only, in 2011 it was prescribed 11 million times, even to children as young as 2 years old!

Known adverse effects of Celebrex include a 37{95f364b8aea3ba4afb976a81c1dcc2e8147daac1866ef443968911255633a999} increase in incidence of major vascular events, which include nonfatal myocardial infarction, nonfatal stroke, or death from a blood vessel-related cause. An 81{95f364b8aea3ba4afb976a81c1dcc2e8147daac1866ef443968911255633a999} increase in incidence of upper gastrointestinal complications occurs, which include perforations, obstructions, or gastrointestinal bleeding.  In July 2015 the FDA strengthened the warning that non-aspirin nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can cause heart attacks or strokes.

On top of these potentially fatal effects, Pfizer, who markets Celebrex, lied about research into it’s efficacy and safety to boost their sales (quite successfully too, it is one of their best selling drugs).

 

Other Options For Back Pain Relief.

Firstly, if you suffer with back pain, it is important to get an accurate diagnosis as to the underlying cause of your back pain. Once this is clear you can then address the issue right at the root. you might need a course of chiropractic or physiotherapy, or a specific exercise program.

Natural ways to relieve back pain include using ice packs. It is also worth checking out the amazing health benefits of tumeric. As well as controlling inflammation, it is known to treat over 600 diseases including Alzheimers and even cancer.

 

A Word On Inflammation

All these medication of back pain relief have anti-inflammatory effects. Whilst this makes them effective at reducing pain the question needs to be asked ‘Why is there inflammation in the first place?’ Quite simply, inflammation is your body’s repair process after an injury. When you hurt yourself to the point of tissue damage, your body goes into repair mode to fix and restore the broken bits. It is the healing process, pure and simple. By interfering with this incredible, natural process of repair, the body cannot effectively heal properly. The long term effects of this is unclear, but is definitely food for thought.

 

If you have ongoing back pain, it is strongly advised that you seek professional advice. Just remember that taking medication could be harming you. You simply need to address the root cause to get lasting relief for back pain.

 

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.

 

References

  • Green GA (2001). “Understanding NSAIDs: from aspirin to COX-2”. Clinical cornerstone. 3 (5): 50–60. doi:10.1016/S1098-3597(01)90069-9. ISSN 1098-3597. PMID 11464731
  • Bhala N, Emberson J, Merhi A, Abramson S, Arber N, Baron JA, Bombardier C, Cannon C, Farkouh ME, FitzGerald GA, Goss P, Halls H, Hawk E, Hawkey C, Hennekens C, Hochberg M, Holland LE, Kearney PM, Laine L, Lanas A, Lance P, Laupacis A, Oates J, Patrono C, Schnitzer TJ, Solomon S, Tugwell P, Wilson K, Wittes J, Baigent C (Aug 31, 2013). “Vascular and upper gastrointestinal effects of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs: meta-analyses of individual participant data from randomised trials”. Lancet. 382 (9894): 769–79. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(13)60900-9. PMC 3778977free to read. PMID 23726390
  • “FDA Drug Safety Communication: FDA strengthens warning that non-aspirin nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can cause heart attacks or strokes”. Food and Drug Administration. 9 July 2015. Retrieved 27 December 2015.
  • “Should you still take Celebrex?”. Consumer Reports. August 2009. Retrieved 27 December 2015.

 

Ankylosing Spondylitis

 

 

 

Ankylosing Spondylitis

 

Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) is a condition that causes inflammation in the spine. It is a chronic autoimmune disease that causes the joints of the neck back, and pelvis to become inflamed, leading to pain and stiffness. Although it mainly affects the spine it can also affect other joints around the body such as the shoulders, hips, knees, ankle, and the joints between your ribs and sternum. AS may also affect other parts of the body such as the eyes, skin, bowel and lungs.

AS affects around 2{95f364b8aea3ba4afb976a81c1dcc2e8147daac1866ef443968911255633a999} of the population. It is about 3 times more common in males than females and usually first appears between the ages of 15-45 years. The exact cause of AS is not known, and it does not seem to be the result of any particular injury, infection, lifestyle or occupation. However it seems that almost all cases are hereditary particularly in people who carry the HLA-B27 gene.

 

Symptoms of Ankylosing Spondylitis.

ankylosing-spondylitisEarly signs and symptoms of AS may include pain and stiffness in your lower back and hips. The pain is often described as a deep ache and is often worse in the morning or after a period of inactivity.

Hips, shoulders, your heel and the cartilage between your breastbone and ribs can be affected as well (which can limit ease of breathing). People with AS may also experience iritis (red, itchy, sore eyes and blurry vision) and/or inflammatory bowel syndrome-like symptoms of diarrhoea and bloating.

Not everyone will develop these symptoms, and they can come and go. For others they will gradually worsen over time. Usually the symptoms appear gradually with peak onset around 20-30 years of age.

In advanced cases of AS the outer fibres of the spinal discs start to calcify and some of the vertebra of the spine can become fused together. This can be seen on spinal Xrays and is referred to as ‘Bamboo Spine’.

 

 

Diagnosis of Ankylosing Spondylitis.

There is no specific test for AS. Medical diagnosis of AS is based on the patients history, spinal range of movement, Xrays, and possibly MRI or CT scans of the spine and pelvis, and blood tests for the HLA-B27 gene (which is not definitive as most HLA-B27 carriers do not have AS).

 

Treatment of Ankylosing Spondylitis.

There is no cure as such for AS. The goal of treatment is to relieve pain and stiffness, as well as prevent or delay the progression of other complications and spinal deformity.

Conventional medicine includes anti-inflammatory drugs such as NSAID’S (ibuprofen, diclofenac, naproxen, etc.) which will ease the inflammation and pain, but can also cause gastro-intestinal bleeding.

Surgery may be an option in extreme cases where joint replacement is deemed necessary.

 

Many sufferers of AS seek out a more natural way of coping without the need to rely on medications and their side-effects.

At Healthyspines.org we always prefer to take a more natural approach. There are always many options available that are just as, if not more, effective than conventional medicine. For AS we highly recommend taking Turmeric, an extremely powerful natural anti-inflammatory that has many other amazing health benefits including treating cancer and Alzheimers.

It is also highly recommended to keep active, particularly stretching to maintain your range of motion. Yoga, or our very own Total Back Pain Solution are the most effective ways of improving and maintaining spinal health.

 

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

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Does Lower Back Pain Affect The Brain?

 

 

 

Does Lower Back Pain Affect The Brain?

 

brainOkay, so it’s not the first thought that pops into your head when you are suffering with back pain. But it poses an interesting question, and it also gives some amazing insights into the long term affects of putting up with a chronic niggle in the back.

Most of us (80{95f364b8aea3ba4afb976a81c1dcc2e8147daac1866ef443968911255633a999} of the adult population) have had back pain at some point in our lives. However we never stop to think about what is actually happening inside our bodies when we experience pain. Usually we just want to make it stop, and fast! Totally understandable, pain is annoying at the very least. And fortunately most instances of pain will sort themselves out within minutes to a few days. It is not until the pain doesn’t go away that we consider there might be a problem, and we start to wonder what is actually going on.

Unlike basic ‘touch’, the sensation of pain is not well understood. It is a very personal experience, and there is no way to measure it aside from asking someone how much it hurts on a scale of 1 to 10. Often there is a lot of emotion and memory that is tied up in feeling pain as well, making it even more difficult to understand.

What we do know is that there are nerve endings (called nociceptors) all through our bodies. These nerve endings register an injury or tissue damage, and send a signal to the brain. This signal is interpreted as pain. Different types of nerve endings send different signals to the brain, for example light touch is transmitted along different nerves than hot, which is different to cold etc.

So when we hurt ourselves, say you stub your toe, the pain nerves (nociceptors) from your toes will send a signal up your leg, into your spinal cord, and all the way up to your brain. This is where your brain registers and ‘feels’ the pain and makes you go ‘OUCH’! Acute pain is an alarm from the body saying ‘You are hurt, attend to it!’. 

What is interesting is that pain nerves are relatively slow at carrying that signal. That is why there is often a slight time lag before an injury will start to hurt. So often you will say “Ohh, I just stubbed my toe…(pause)….OUCH’. It is not until the brain receives and processes the pain signal from your body that you will consciously ‘feel’ the pain. 

PET_Normal_brain

Modern brain scans (Positron Emission Tomography, or PET scans) allow us to see these signals reaching and activating/stimulating the brain. Specific areas of the brain ‘light up’ when they are active, and this is easily visible on some scans. So when we are experiencing pain, a certain spot in the brain that relates exactly to the part of the body that is hurt will light as active on the brain scan. Areas of the brain that process thought, sensation, movement, emotion and memory are also seen to be active when we are experiencing pain, particularly chronic pain. This observation explains why when we are in pain we often have trouble concentrating or thinking well, moving becomes difficult, more sensitive to loud noises or bright light, and we can become emotional, angry or irritable. The sensation of pain can become completely overwhelming, taking over your entire experience of the world at that point in time.

What is really interesting is that when we suffer from chronic pain (lasting 3 months or longer) more of the brain becomes active in the pain response. This is seen on PET scans as more of the brain area lighting up. If the pain receptors fire repeatedly, they can start to cause a change in the brain where the nerves continue to fire after the original cause of the pain is gone. The brain is starting to form a more permanent impression, or memory, of the pain. 

You can think of this as being like trying to memorise a new phone number. At first it is impossible for most of us to remember a random string of numbers, but with repetition and time, you can easily remember the phone number instantly. It becomes locked into your memory, just as chronic pain can. This ‘locked in’ memory of your pain in turn leads to becoming more sensitised to pain. It will take less of an injury to cause pain, as the brain is already primed ready to react to the slightest irritant.

A recent study also demonstrated that suffering chronic pain may actually cause your brain to shrink. The researchers found that people who suffered with back pain for a year or longer had up to 11{95f364b8aea3ba4afb976a81c1dcc2e8147daac1866ef443968911255633a999} less grey matter in their brains. The magnitude of this decrease is equivalent to the gray matter volume lost in 10-20 years of normal ageing. The decreased volume was related to pain duration, indicating a 1.3 cm cubed loss of gray matter for every year of chronic pain. The long term implications of this are unknown, but it certainly is a strong indication of how dramatic the effects of tolerating chronic pain can be on your brain!

2581438627_c877326c43_bBut it is not all a one way, downhill street. Recent advances in neuroscience, in particular the field of neuroplasticity, are showing that you can actually reverse the long term memory of pain and the changes it causes to your brain. Basically, instead of focusing on the pain, think of something else when you are in discomfort. It may be a nice memory of a holiday, or time with friends and family. Our brains are very good at locking in stuff that we use every day, like how to navigate our way to work, or remembering a password. It also forgets the things we don’t use every day, such as all that geometry you learnt at school and never use.

One study showed that when people concentrated on a comforting thought such as a warm blanket on a cold day, they experienced much less pain. By not focusing on the pain, you are not allowing your brain to develop a permanent memory of it. For example, using the phone number analogy from before. If you didn’t repeat the new phone number to yourself over and over, it would be forgotten very quickly. Your brain has not had the time and repetition to form a permanent memory of the number. Even longer term memories slowly fade over time if we don’t think about them.

Lower back pain can be an insidious, life altering condition for many. Any pain we experience has a direct and immediate effect on the brain, and this can lead to long term, permanent (although mostly reversible) changes over time. Visualisation techniques are proving to be very effective at changing our response to chronic pain, but they do require time, commitment and effort to work.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Reduce Spinal Stress While Driving And Avoid Back Pain

 

 

Reduce Spinal Stress While Driving And Avoid Back Pain

 

3VC9WOIB07One of the most common forms of transport today is the motor car. Many of us spend at least some time every single day sitting in a car, whether it be getting to work, dropping the kids at school, visiting friends and family, or just a quick run to the shops.

Unfortunately, this can put a lot of stress and strain on your spine, especially when if you are sitting for hours at a time on the commute to work, or if you need to get in and out of the vehicle frequently. Long periods of sitting is well known to be a major cause of back pain, and getting in and out of some car seats can require seriously advanced gymnastic skills!

 

Here are some travel tips that will help reduce the spinal stress while driving:

  • Make sure your seat is in the best possible ergonomic position to reduce the pressure on your lower back discs. Your seat should be positioned so it is upright or very slightly angled back (10 degrees from perfectly upright). This will help you sit up straight and to reduce forward head posture. The back of the seat bottom should be slightly higher than the front.
  • Make sure that you aren’t sitting to close or too far from the steering wheel.
  • Make sure your lumbar support is correct for your spine. If you have an older car with no lumbar sacral support/adaptation, add a small rolled towel or pillow to support your lower back. Back braces can be very helpful. 
  • Make sure the headrest is correctly positioned – the back of your head should touch midway up the head rest to prevent whiplash in the event of an accident. Avoid leaning forward with your head and neck.
  • If your car has a cruise control function, use it on long journeys so your leg on the accelerator/gas pedal isn’t held in the same position for prolonged periods of time.
  • Using arm rests on both sides has been shown to reduce disc pressure. However, avoid leaning or twisting to one side when using the arm rests.
  • Keep relaxed! Avoid tensing your arms and shoulders or gripping the steering wheel tightly.
  • Avoid sitting on your wallet if it is in your back pocket, as this can cause your pelvis to twist, which can affect the rest of your spine.
  • On a long trip get out of the car, ideally stopping for 5 minutes every hour. At the very least get out of the car every 2 hours and walk around to avoid fatigue, muscle cramping and to get the load off your spine. Use fuel and bathroom stops to walk around and to do some simple back exercises.
  • If you suffer from severe low back pain, always get in and out of the car gently, “backing in” first to sit down, then rotating your legs into the car together.
  • When getting heavy luggage in and out of the boot, make sure that you get assistance. It is very difficult to avoid putting undue stress on your back, due to the awkward lifting positions involved.
  • Never jump out of a van or truck cab, as the jarring forces can greatly increase your chances of injuring your back.

 

Some studies have also shown that there is improvement in muscle blood flow and oxygenation when using seat massage systems. This would be of great benefit to those that have back problems and do spend longer periods of time driving. 

For most of us, car travel is only going to be a minor cause of spinal stress. However, when you understand the importance of spinal health, and how it directly affects our general health and well being, you will know that we need to do all we can to look after our spines.

Most of our car trips are only short journeys. Even so, being mindful of these simple rules will help reduce the spinal stress while driving, minimising your risk of developing back pain and other spinal problems.

 

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.

 

Sources:

Sitting biomechanics, part II: optimal car driver's seat and optimal driver's spinal model. J Manipulative Physiol Ther 2000;23:37–47 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10658875

A seat-bottom posterior inclination of 5 degrees: Sitting biomechanics part I: review of the literature. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 1999 Nov-Dec;22(9):594-609. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10626703

Active lumbar system (ALS) International Journal of Occupational Safety and Ergonomics. Volume 15, Issue 3, 2009.  http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10803548.2009.11076809 & http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/00140130500356882

 

 

 

 

 

 

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