Back pain will affect 80% of the population at some point during their lifetime. It is the second most common reason for missed work and the fifth most common reason for all physician visits.
Disc herniation and spinal stenosis are two common back and spine problems that affect our population. Disc herniation occurs as discs degenerate and weaken, and the outer disc shell of fibrous cartilage bulges or is pushed into the space containing the spinal cord or a nerve root causing pain. Spinal stenosis is an abnormal narrowing of the spine due to bone overgrowth, herniated discs, thickened ligaments, tumors or spinal injuries.
To differentiate the two disorders, a physical therapist may evaluate you through your history, a postural assessment, a movement analysis, sensation testing, reflexes, muscle testing, gait, instability testing, slump test or imaging studies. Treatment modalities differ for each disorder and the goal is to find the correct prescription that will alleviate the lower back pain.
There have also been advancements in spine surgery and spine hardware. Minimally Invasive Spinal Surgery (MISS) is now the standard of best practices. MISS patients get smaller lateral or front entry incisions, suffer less blood loss and tend to have shorter hospital and outpatient stays. Hardware has changed from stainless steel to titanium and plastic. Candidates for spine surgery include those suffering from degenerative disc disease, spine deformities, spinal stenosis, scoliosis, slippage of the spine, herniated discs, fractured vertebrae, traumas, tumors and infections. Research findings support better outcomes for non-smokers and people who are not overweight.
Remember, prevention is the key. Exercise and stretch the full range of motion of your back, spine, arms and legs on a regular basis. Do core and strengthening exercises to stay strong. Practice good posture. Keep your weight maintained and don’t smoke. Use your legs instead of your back to power yourself up while picking up objects. Place objects that you are going to pick up in a safe lifting zone; where your body will not be strained by lifting the object. Lastly, keep moving! You don’t have to live with back pain. See a specialist if you are suffering.
To your health!
Autumn (check me out at www.pacificnorthwesthealth.com)