I would have to concur after 25 years of private practice.
I have seen people young, old & middle –aged, apparently healthy & not so healthy injure their backs.
Some so severe that I had to recommend they see a surgeon right away as it was too late for me to be able to help them.
The unfortunate thing however is that in many cases, these injuires & subsequent disabilities whether temporary or permanent, and the surgery that some required could have been avoided or for sure at least minimized if there was some basic education about how to take care of your back.
You see, we have been educated, as have our parents & their parents that there is a powder, pill, prescription, lotion or potion for every ailment known to mankind.
Magical cures that will offer us quick relief so that we can keep going as if nothing were wrong.
Well, if this whole idea of health care worked, Canada wouldn’t be ranked somewhere in the 30’s on the healthiest countries list, and Ontario wouldn’t be headed for health care disaster by the end of this decade according to some health economists.
But , that is what happens when you are not pro-active with your health care.
What I mean by this is that you have to take charge of your own health.
You need to learn for yourself what health really is & then do whatever it takes to achieve it & maintain it.
Waiting until something goes wrong & then looking for that quick, magical cure is reactive health care.
It does not do you any favours in the long run. Just think about how much effort you put forth to maintain healthy gums & teeth, or your car for that matter.
Do you put forth the same effort to maintain a healthy back?
Now ask yourself this question … which is easier to replace?
There are 3 contributing factors in my opinion.
One is the general lack of good physical conditioning in people these days.
Second; most people do not practice good spinal health habits on a regular basis.
Three; most people do not know how to use their backs wisely when lifting or performing activities that require an above average level of physical exertion. 1 –conditioning.
It is no big surprise that obesity is a problem in our society today.
All those horrible fast foods & all the processed foods that people buy at the grocery store just add on the pounds.
Not to mention the fact that most people these days including children would prefer to sit in front of a computer or TV.
And what is worse, is that if the parents eat fast & unhealthy foods, what do you think there kids are going to eat?
They are packing on the pounds right from the get-go.
It is no wonder that you see a lot of obese kids today.
Now, all these extra & unnecessary pounds along the waist line & on the belly are going to add a great deal of stress on the vertebrae & the joints in the lower spine.
Over the course of time, this extra stress is going to cause the spine to bend un-naturally.
This will in turn cause the spinal joints & discs to start to decay.
The spine then becomes very weak & unstable, & then prone to injuries.
What the heck are these?… you are probably asking yourself.
Most everybody knows what it means to practice good dental health habits so that you maintain good dental hygiene.
Good dental hygiene means you have no gum disease & few or no cavities.
Well, good spinal hygiene means your spine is in good alignment & there is no or minimal deterioration of the spinal joints & spinal discs.
So, good spinal alignment is the key to maintaining good spinal hygiene.
The only way your spine will become misaligned is from subluxations.
These are when one or more of the spinal vertebrae are mal-positioned & the overall effect will be to compromise the alignment of the spine.
In the lower back, the effect of the spinal misalignment would be seen as a tipped pelvis &/or a scoliosis ( spinal curve ).
These 2 conditions would make your back very weak & unstable & prone to injuries.
That is why keeping your spine properly aligned on a regular basis is a must.
And yes we all have subluxations.
The only way you would not is if you had no spine.
To do a basic check on yourself, stand in front of a full length mirror in bare feet with feet at shoulder width. Let your arms hang comfortably at your sides. Look at your shoulders. Are they level? Look at where your fingers touch the side of your thighs. Do they touch at the same point?
Next, put your hands on your hips with your fingers pointing forwards. Are your hands level? If you answered no to any of these questions , then for certain you have a poorly aligned spine.
You should never lift anything with your back unless you are fit & you have excellent spinal hygiene.
Otherwise, you are at risk of sustaining a back injury.
Always use your legs to lift.
Keep your back straight & hold the object close to your body. Do not lift or carry anything with your arms extended out in front of your body.
This will put a great deal of stress on the lower spine where most back injuries will occur.
Also, if you need to lift something that is unusually heavy for yourself, get someone to help you. Do not attempt it on your own & be patient. Call a friend & think about how you are going to make the lift safely & wisely.
Get off your feet right away & lie down on the floor with 2 pillows under both of your knees.
Put a soft, flexible ice pack directly on your lower back across your waist line.
Make sure you wrap it in a paper towel first. Leave it there for 10 to 12 minutes.
Do it again an hour later and it would be wise to get to your family chiropractor right away for a check-up.
And by the way, never put a hot pack or heat in any form on a back injury.
Remember this .. whenever you injure something, there will always be inflammation associated with the injury.
With inflammation comes pain.
If you add heat to inflammation it will only make it worse!
If you can’t remember whether to ice or heat, do nothing.
Now, if there is leg pain associated with your back injury, call your family chiropractor immediately !
This is by far a more serious circumstance that will require special attention.
I encourage you to get a complete spinal exam if you have injured your back even once.
Whether it was from lifting something, a fall, a car accident, a sports injury, a work injury or a repetitive motion injury, you need to make sure to have the injury assessed & treated right away.
This for sure will save you a whole lot of grief in the future. Remember, that nothing really goes away on its own.
Symptoms may subside eventually, but the damage will always be there.
And be very cautious about treating back injuries with drugs or medications.
Remember 2 things; one is that you did not injure your back because you were not taking enough pain-killers, muscle-relaxers or anti-inflammatory drugs.
The other is that these will attempt to mask the symptoms only.
They will not correct a physical problem.
Also, understand that you can never replace your spine.
So the prudent thing to do with something that you can never replace is to take exceptionally good care of it for as long as you intend on keeping it.
I can tell you this from over 25 years of experience.
As you grow older, your back will either be your greatest asset or your greatest liability.
And that will all depend on how well you take care of it today.