Category Archives: back pain

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Sports Injuries to The Back in Young Athletes

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“Oh, my back!” isn’t really a phrase we expect coming out of a teen or preteen’s mouth. But actually, young athletes are prone to several sports injuries affecting the spine. Most can be treated with rest, but it’s important to pay attention to any signs and symptoms of potential back injury. These can have serious repercussions down the line, so it’s crucial to make sure the source of back pain or stiffness is known and strong preventative measures are applied.

Below, some of the most common kinds of back injuries experienced by young athletes.

Strains and Sprains

Strains and sprains can happen anywhere in the body, including in the muscles and ligaments of the back. These are by far the most common source of back pain in young athletes, and can be caused by overuse, improper body mechanics, poor technique, trauma, and lack of appropriate conditioning or stretching. Usually in these cases, an athlete will only experience the pain when moving, and it will be relieved when they rest. Strains and sprains should be treated first with rest and anti-inflammatory pain medication. Ice packs or heat packs applied to the affected area may also be helpful. Once the athlete has recovered, the return to exercise should be slow and cautious. A sports medicine professional or physical therapist can test to see if there’s an issue with body mechanics or technique and prescribe corrective exercises accordingly.

Spondylolysis and Spondylolisthesis

Spondylolysis is a stretch fracture in the vertebrae. It’s most often found in the fifth lumbar vertebra in the lower back. Spondylolisthesis occurs when the fracture weakens the bone to the point where it begins to shift out of position. Gymnasts and other athletes who do a lot of twisting are particularly vulnerable. Athletes suffering from these conditions usually complain of pain that gets more intense when they attempt to arch their back. X-rays and other imaging studies are used to confirm the diagnosis. Rest, medication, ice, and targeted rehabilitative exercises are the normal course of action, though severe cases of spondylolisthesis may require surgery to correct. Patients with spondylolisthesis should be monitored for slippage of the affected vertebrae regularly as they continue to grow. If the vertebrae slips too far out of place, it may be necessary to reconsider or switch sports.

Nerve Pinch Injuries

Trauma, particularly in contact or collision sports, is a common cause of nerve pinch injuries. These occur when the nerves off the spinal cord in the neck are pinched or stretched. These injuries, sometimes referred to as “stingers” result in pain, weakness, and “electectrical” or other strange sensations in the neck, shoulders, and arms. Usually, these injuries resolve themselves quickly but are very likely to recur–and potentially worsen. Athletes who’ve experienced these injuries should seek medical attention to prevent the injury from getting worse. Cervical collars and corrective exercises are among some of the treatments that may be prescribed.

Juvenile Kyphosis

Juvenile kyphosis causes pain in the mid-back. Young athletes suffering this condition display a back deformity caused by the wedging of three or more vertebrae. This wedging of consecutive vertebrae results in a rounded curve of the mid-back. Exercises and stretches can help with the pain, but can’t correct the curve. Back bracing or even surgery may be necessary in serious cases. If a young athlete is experiencing mid-back pain and/or their spine seems to be taking on a dome-like shape, it’s important to see a professional for a diagnosis and help managing the condition.

Although this list includes some of the most common causes of back pain sports injuries  and conditions in young athletes, it’s by no means exhaustive. Concerned about your back health? Call us to request an appointment – 732.720.2569.


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Osteoporosis and Back Pain

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If you’re over 60 and experience sharp back pain when moving, there’s a good chance a compression fracture caused by osteoporosis could be to blame. If you haven’t, are under 60, and don’t want to experience this pain, read on anyway–because this is one of those many situations where prevention is the best medicine.

Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis means your body produces too little bone mass or loses too much, resulting in brittle bones that are extremely vulnerable to injury. Research suggests that as many as one in two women and one in four men over the age of fifty will break a bone due to osteoporosis.

Compression Fractures

Vertebral compression fractures are broken vertebrae. They are most commonly caused by osteoporosis, though other causes include certain cancers and trauma. In some cases, prednisone, a steroid-based medication that can soften bone, may also be to blame.

Compression fracture pain is often described as feeling like a painful muscle spasm. The pain is experienced when moving, and subsides when the patient is still.

Prevention

No matter what your age, there are ways you can minimize your risk for osteoporosis.

Nutrition: Incorporate vitamin D and calcium rich foods into your diet.

Exercise: Exercise regularly and safely–certain activities, like weight lifting, can be detrimental or put you at risk for injury if done incorrectly.

Testing: If you’re over 50, consider getting a bone density test. Consult this guide for details.

Supplements & Medications: Consult a physician and/or professional nutritionist to see if calcium or vitamin D supplements could be right for you. For some patients, bone-bulking bisphosphonate medication may also be helpful.

Treatment

Typically, the first step is to treat the pain caused by compression fractures, usually with medication, followed by bed rest. Once the patient has some relief, they may be prescribed physical therapy or fitted with a brace.

If these more conservative options don’t work, surgery may be suggested. Some of the surgeries used to treat compression fractures include  kyphoplasty, vertebroplasty, and spinal fusion.

Worried you may be suffering from compression fractures? Request an appointment with our spine care professionals.


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Four Lifestyle Changes To Reduce Back Pain

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If you find yourself frequently battling back pain, chances are that there are some easy lifestyle changes you can make to better support and care for your spine. Below are four tips for incorporating back-friendly habits into your day.

Bend Back

For those of us who spend most of our day sitting, it’s extremely important to stretch every twenty minutes or so. Since most of us bend forward over our workstations, generally the best direction to bend while stretching is backwards.

Lower The Heels

A healthier back doesn’t necessarily mean no heels–just trade stilettos in for something a bit shorter and more comfortable. Pinterest has great visual guides to fashionable short heels, and many retailers now provide filters on their website for heel heights, making it easier than ever to find low heels or flats that match your style and sensibilities.

Make Your Workplace Back Friendly

Use a chair that provides lower back support, allows your feet to be planted firmly on the floor, and is set up so that you do not need to hunch forward to work.

Nix The Nicotine

Need another reason to quit smoking? Smoking can increase your risk for osteoporosis of the spine, and other complications that spell bad news for your back.

If you’re still struggling with regular back pain, check out this post to see if it’s time to visit a help, or request an appointment with Spine Care New Jersey today!


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Pain Plane: Your Guide to Back-Friendlier Air Travel

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It all seems so simple: just hop on a plane, doze off, and wake up across the country–or even the world! But the truth is, air travel can take a toll on your back. Try these tips to reach your final destination a little fresher, and with less back pain!

Be Smart With Your Luggage
With all the various checked bag fees–not to mention, anxiety over checked bags–the pressure is on to stuff that carry-on to the brim.
Two things to keep in mind: first, studies suggest that cases of lost baggage have dropped in the past years, perhaps by as much as 60%. So if you’re still tormented by that memory of a lost suitcase decades ago, perhaps it’s time to let go!
Second: if you do have a big carry-on for whatever reason, lift it in stages to the overhead bin. Take a moment to rest the bag on the seat below the bin before doing the final lift. And remember: always lift from the knees to avoid placing undue stress on your spine!

Back Up Back Support
Support your lower back in an airport seat using a lumbar pillow. If you don’t have one, roll up a sweatshirt or blanket to place in the lower curve of your back. Neck support is also important, and can be aided by one of those ubiquitous U-shaped pillows or by rolling a blanket or sweater into a similar shape.

Don’t Forget the Feet
Supporting your feet is vital to supporting your back. If your feet aren’t firmly on the floor during flight, find something to use as support. Perhaps that extra “stow under the seat in front of you” item? Alternately, rolled up clothing, books, or other items can be used to help.

Get Up
We know– it can feel obnoxious to be the one getting in and out of their seat all the time. But the spine was designed to move–and sitting still for hours isn’t doing it any favors. Try to get up and walk down the aisle when possible and get a little stretching in on your way to the restroom. Aim for a time when there’s a bit of a wait to insure you’ll be able to have a minute to really move your muscles.


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Three Signs It’s Time to Seek Medical Attention for Your Backache

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For many of us, back pain a fact of life–the student recovering from marathon study sessions in an unforgiving library chair, a young professional burning the midnight oil and under stress, parents or grandparents hauling babies around, or simply an active, happy person enjoying any number of favorite activities. Stress, poor posture, heavy lifting, and overexertion are all common back pain culprits.

Most of our movements cycle through the back one way or another–and when it’s in pain, the quality of life impact can be devastating. Worse, a achy back can be a sign of a more serious problem. If you experience any of these warning signs, please contact a medical professional immediately.

No Improvement After 72 Hours of TLC

Take time to treat back pain as soon as it starts. Use basic at home remedies. These include rest, pain relievers like ibuprofen, lots of water, and alternating hot or cold treatments. Moderate exercise may be indicated if you suspect your pain is related to stress or a sedentary lifestyle. Listen to your body and give it the care it needs. After three days of R&R, if your symptoms have worsened or failed to improve, schedule an appointment with a medical professional ASAP. Don’t take chances when it comes to your spine!

Pain Extending to The Leg

Sciatica, or back pain that extends down the spine to the leg, is a sign to seek health care immediately. Sciatica is often caused by a herniated disc pressing on the central nerve of the spine, the sciatic nerve. Other signs of sciatica include a sharp pain that makes it difficult to stand or walk, pain that it worse when sitting, and numbness or weakness in an lower extremity. Generally, the pain is experienced in the spine and radiates down one side of the lower extremities. Fortunately, permanent damage to the sciatic nerve is rare. Reduce your risk– and get relief–by seeing a specialist immediately.

Any Other Accompanying Symptoms

Pay attention to other symptoms accompanying your back pain. Back pain occurring in conjunction with a fever, loss of bladder or bowel control, and back pain when coughing is cause to seek medical attention.


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