TUESDAY TIPS FROM #backpainbloguk…

Check out my #tuesdaytips on how to look after your back.

Stay flexible, if you are desk bound, move around every 30 minutes.

Stay strong, go swimming and walking regularly or as often as you can.

Steer clear of the driving range. Unfortunately golf swings are of no help to people with back problems.

Try to sit on a stability ball for 15 minutes a day.

I think we all know that excess weight can cause a number of health problems but it can be a big contributor to back pain.

Don’t sleep on a hard bed. Believe or not these can really irritate back problems. If your staying in a Hotel ask if the bed is firm. Before now I have been known to buy a bed quilt and fold it to lie on as the bed was too hard, it just takes the pressure off your back.

Have a deep tissue massage – this can help back pain a great deal but make sure whoever gives it to you is fully qualified.

Stay hydrated.

Try not to pound the streets when you walk, make sure your shoes have a good cushioning.

Feel the pain sometimes rather than reaching straight out for the medication as it could be masking something.

Always, always, always bend the knees when picking up anything or bending down.

And for the women, don’t carry your life around in your handbag.

And for the men, don’t carry too much in your computer bag.

Another one for the women, don’t wear high heels all the time. The long term effect can not only effect your back but also your feet.

Get an accurate clinical diagnosis if your pain does not settle down after a few weeks.

Don’t smoke, it has been proven that people who smoke are more likely to have lower back pain.

Never twist and bend at the same time.

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HOW A HYGGE LIFESTYLE CAN HELP PEOPLE IN CHRONIC PAIN …

If your knew to the latest trend in a Hygge Lifestyle then it’s easy to explain.

Hygge, is a Danish and Norwegian word for a mood of coziness and comfortable conviviality with feelings of wellness and contentment. As a cultural category with its sets of associated practices hygge has more or less the same meanings in Danish and Norwegian, but the notion is more central in Denmark than Norway. Wikipedia

Nearly every paper that I pick up today has at least one article on HYGGE and how it is influencing people all over the world to enjoy this type of lifestyle.

Being happy and content with your life is how the Danish lead their everyday life which isn’t really practised in Britain, and yet most of us would love to lead this way of life.

So, how can you enjoy a Hygge lifestyle? Well, it all starts off with what you have around you. Are you surrounded by clutter, is your room full of bits and pieces that you keep meaning to go through? If so then start by going through all your clutter one room at a time. Don’t try and clear every room straight away as you will probably give up immediately. Work on one room at a time and then you will see how wonderful you feel with the decluttered regime.

Now, look at your colours. What colours are in your room, could it do with a little more light or a complete make-over. First things first, look at what is letting the light into your room. What sort of curtains or blinds do you have up? What sort of lighting have you?

These simple steps of changing a rooms curtains/blinds and lighting could completely alter the theme of your room. So much so that you might not need to give it a complete make-over you may be quite happy with the paint colour or decide to just change one wall to a lighter colour. If you look at any book or website on Hygge you will immediately see how the right colours and lights can change a room completely.

Finish the room with the right accessories. It’s amazing how accessories even down to the right plants can completely change the look of your room.

Some of my favourite websites with Hygge living ideas are Pinterest, Houzz and Hyggestyle.

Other ways to enjoy a Hygge way of living and help your pain is to think about your favourite movie or tv show and watch it again. It you have a favourite book that made you feel good then read it again. Sometimes just curling up with a good book can make you feel better.

Eating healthy food can fill you with anti-inflammatory benefits but every now and then we crave a plate of comfort food or a warm cup of tea. If this doesn’t become a habit then treat yourself to something special.

While enjoying re-watching your favourite movie or reading your favourite book while enjoying some comfort food make sure you are sitting comfortably in light weight clothes and cozy socks and wrap yourself in a soft blanket the Hygge way. Turn your laptop onto silent and if you have a crock pot fill it with something nice to enjoy for dinner later. It makes me feel relaxed just writing this down.

9 CELEBRITIES VIEWS ON CHRONIC PAIN…

We are not alone in pain and in fact some very famous celebrity’s also suffer from chronic pain. Did you know that it is reported that chronic pain affects 1.5 billion globally? Unfortunately pain can affect anyone, famous or not but some celebrities keep their condition quiet and others have told how and what they think of chronic pain.

They call it the ‘silent epidemic that stretches the globe’.

Nine famous names who have suffered chronic pain include –

Morgan Freeman – who suffers from Fibromyalgia said –

“There is a point to changes like these. I have to move on to other things, to other conceptions of myself. I play golf. I still work. And I can be pretty happy just walking the land.”

George Clooney – who suffers from chronic back pain said –

‘I thought I was going to die [but] I’ve gone from where I can’t function, where ‘I just can’t live like this’ to ‘I’ve got a bad headache.”

“It’s been a long recovery […] you can’t mourn for how you used to feel […] you have to come to terms with it.”

Elizabeth Taylor – who suffers from Scoliosis said –

“You just do it. You force yourself to get up. You force yourself to put one foot before the other, and God damn it; you refuse to let it get to you. You fight. You cry. You curse. Then you go about your business of living. That’s how I have done it. There’s no other way.”

Jennifer Grey – who suffers from chronic neck pain and who said –

“I will always have pain. But I exercise as much as I can, and I find that makes a huge difference. And if my body does seize up, I have a pain plan in place. I go back to my doctor.”

Jackie Chan – who suffers from back pain and said –

“Pain is my daily routine. As long as I don’t go to the hospital, it’s nothing for me.”

Lady Gaga – who suffers from Fibromyalgia said –

“There is an element and a very strong piece of me that believes pain is a microphone. My pain does me no good unless I transform it into something that is [good]. […] I hope that people watching it that do struggle with chronic pain know that they are not alone, […] I want people that watch it that think there’s no way I live that way because they see me dance and sing, to know I struggle with things like them and that I work through it and that it can be done.”

Paula Abdul who suffers from CRPS said –

“The body does not give up on us, so we can’t give up on it. My goal is always to work with my body, not against it so that it can function efficiently. […] I also try to remember that there have been pain-free days — which means that this difficult time will be over and give way to a better time. […] That’s where gratitude is so important. Writing gratitude lists to remember all the wonderful things I’ve experienced has also been really helpful for me.”

Sinead O’Connorwho suffers from Fibromyalgia and said –

“Fibromyalgia is not curable. But it’s manageable,” O’Connor said in a 2005 interview with HOTPRESS. “I have a high pain threshold, so that helps – it’s the tiredness part that I have difficulty with. You get to know your patterns and limits, though, so you can work and plan around it. It is made worse, obviously, by stress. So you have to try to keep life quiet and peaceful.”

Jo Guest – who also suffers from Fibromyalgia said –

“I used to love wearing sexy clothes and short skirts, but I don’t enjoy dressing up any more. The spark has gone out of life. It’s hard to feel good about yourself or like a sexy woman when you feel so ill,” Guest told Daily Star in a 2008 interview. “But I am positive about it. I really believe I am going to get better. I will not give up.”

ONE SIMPLE LIFESTYLE CHANGE THAT CAN SIGNIFICANTLY REDUCE YOUR BACK PAIN…

One simple lifestyle change that can significantly reduce your back pain is a guest post from Tavistock Clinic in Crawley.

None of us are strangers to back pain.

It’s the leading cause of disability in the UK. In addition, 80% of the population experience back pain at one stage or another in their life and it is one of the most common causes for absence days at work.

Back pain is often a mystery. The reason being, it can be caused by such a wide variety of reasons.

You may twist your back whilst reaching something on the floor, and the pain is caused by overstretching the muscle. You may have had a car accident, where the pain is caused due to the physical impact to the muscle. You may even be getting back pain from emotional trauma or certain foods that you react to unknowingly.

Many of us also know the importance of ‘bending at the knees’ and not your back when lifting items.

This is staple (and correct) advice that everyone should follow. The notion is that you should use your leg muscles to pick something up off the floor, instead of putting the pressure into your back.

There’s something missing though: what about all the things you pick up from that mid-range area, between the knees and torso region?

I’m not sure about you, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone in a squat position whilst lifting something off the kitchen counter, dining table, or when putting dishes into the dishwasher.

The vast majority of ‘bending’ we do is at the mid-line level – where squatting by the legs simply does not cross our minds, nor is it practical, or swift enough.

Yet, we still put the pressure into our backs, and not into our legs. How do we resolve this?

In truth, there is another posture of bending that everyone needs to know about, but no one actually does… yet.

‘Hip hinging’ is bending by your knees and ‘hinging’ by your hips at the same time.

It means you still get to bend down from your back and reach down (from the bend in the knees), without having to do a full squat (with your back perfectly upright) but without any undue stress into your spine.

Buffalo Rehab provides a picture-perfect demonstration of the difference between a normal pick up and a hip hinge:

Picture number 1 on this image slide is how the vast majority of people would pick something up from knee level.

Picture number 2 on this image slide shows the perfect position of lifting. You can see I the back is almost horizontal, which may make you think it’s terrible for the spine.

Picture number 3 offers a separate alternative of lifting, also known as the golfers’ grip, which is still safer for your spine than the first picture.

The question should always be, however, ‘why is the spine in that position?’

In picture number 1, the spine is bent because the spine itself and the spinal muscles are folding forward (flexing).

In picture number 2, the spine is not actually bent at all – it’s straight (no, it’s not an illusion!).

The reason it’s horizontal is that the hips are hinged forward.

This is a perfectly normal and safe movement for the hip to do, and when you lift an item from the ground the force goes into the hip and back of the legs primarily, with less stress on the lower and upper back.

There are a number of examples in the professional sporting and exercise world that demonstrates the importance of the hip hinge.

Whenever you see someone doing a squat in the gym, if done correctly, they will be hip hinging:

The same goes for if you are doing one of the staple back strengthening exercises, the deadlift:

Many people think this exercise is dangerous because you are not specifically ‘bending by the knees’ as much as you would think, but the truth is the spine is completely neutral in this position, so the stress is primarily on the hip and legs, where it is supposed to be.

At Tavistock Clinic we offer physiotherapy in Crawley and we advise strongly to every one of our sports and exercise clients to ensure they are hip hinging both during their rehabilitation from injury but as well as part of their prehabilitation to minimise the chance of future injuries. 

So how do you learn to do the hip hinge?

The PTDC demonstrates, through use of video, a series of highly effective exercises to help you make the hip hinge second nature for you as much as possible.

With these exercises and awareness of your hip and spinal posture during any lifting activity, you are much more likely to save your spine in the future and prevent unnecessary and potentially severe back pain.

I hope you’ve found this article useful and informative. If you have any questions feel free to contact me directly on kulraj@tavistockclinic.com

Happy Hip Hinging!

DEALING WITH DEPRESSION WITH CHRONIC PAIN …

Depression is quite common with people suffering from chronic pain. I mean who wouldn’t feel a bit low when trying to cope with constant pain but there is help out there to deal with this type of depression. Research shows that some of these antidepressants may help with some kinds of long-lasting pain.

Web MD state that Doctors don’t know exactly why antidepressants help with pain. They may affect chemicals in your spinal cord — you may hear them called neurotransmitters — that send pain signals to your brain. 

It’s important to note that antidepressantsdon’t work on pain right away. It can be a week or so before you feel any better. In fact, you may not get their full effect for several weeks.

After my second spinal surgery I was put on a very low dose of an antidepressant which I took over a period of 20+years. I am still on this antidepressant ( Prozac) even though over the many years I haven taken it there have been numerous articles on the pros and cons of taking it for so long. In fact, only last year the Professor of Medicine whom I call my Medicine Man who I see on a regular basis, suggested that maybe I should stop taking it.

I started with reducing it to one every other day and had no ill effects except that I wasn’t feeling as perky as I usually am. I put it down to the fact that at that time last year I ways constantly going back and forth to stay at my Dads so that I could go and be with him in hospital. He was in three months and my sister and I would do three week shifts of going in for most of the day over a period of three weeks then coming home for a rest. Sadly Dad passed away in hospital by which stage I had already started increasing my drug to nearly what I had been on before as I had an even bigger reason for feeling low.

On the NHS website they say that even though a type of antidepressant called tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) weren’t originally designed to be painkillers, there’s evidence to suggest they’re effective in treating chronic (long-term) nerve pain in some people.

Chronic nerve pain, also known as neuropathic pain, is caused by nerve damage or other problems with the nerves, and is often unresponsive to regular painkillers, such as paracetamol.

Amitriptyline is a TCA that’s usually used to treat neuropathic pain. I also take this for my neuropathic pain and it also helps me to sleep better.

We are all different and try to deal with chronic pain, stress and even loss in different ways but for me personally I felt this one little pill I took every morning worked for me. When I went back for my review with my Medicine Man I told him what I had been through and said I felt for me personally it was one drug I would like to continue taking indefinitely if he felt that was safe. He said that every single person will have different views and reactions to different types of antidepressants but if I had found one that I truly felt helped me ‘feel good’ every day no matter what I was going through then he was happy for me to take it indefinitely.

I know there are lots and lots of alternative things to try for any type of depression from Cognitive Behavioural Therapy to Group Therapy and much more but I do feel that some people are nervous of taking medication on a long term basis but if that works for you, then why not.

Try everything that is available to you and when you find something that works for you then stick with it even it is taking a daily dose of medication. Feeling low and depressed is awful and most people in chronic pain must feel that at some stage but life really is to short to feel that way on a daily basis so why not try something just for you to help you feel better on the outside even if the pain on the inside is still there.

Some great websites and organisations that can help with chronic pain and depression are Away With Pain.

BLB Solicitors have a long list with links to UK support and help with depression from pain. The NHS also has details on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy in the UK and how to find a therapist.