Truth #4: Mindfulness can go a long way toward pain relief
The constant use of mobile devices (and laptops) is such a problem when it comes to daily activities and posture, terms like “tech neck” and “text neck” have been coined.
“The curved posture most of us assume while emailing, texting or reading on our devices simply isn’t good for the cervical spine, better known as the neck,” Dr. Kaliq Chang, MD of the Atlantic Spine Center in New Jersey, explains. “Since our properly positioned neck muscles are designed to support the weight of our head – about 10 to 12 pounds – constantly dropping our heads forward to look at a device actually puts about 60 pounds of force on the neck.”
Over time, this repetitive stress on the neck can pull the spine out of alignment. It may sound like a minor problem, but it’s not. It can lead to serious issues like pinched nerves and early onset arthritis.
This means the truth about managing back pain includes being mindful. Use your devices properly to avoid damaging your neck and spine. Hold your cell phone and tablets up to eye height to avoid straining your neck. If you’re using a laptop – especially for many hours consecutively at work – be mindful of how your laptop is positioned. Ideally, you want to be sitting at a 25-30 degree angle, with good lower back support.
Aim to get up and away from desk at least once a hour each day. Take a walk around the office or outside. Stretch and loosen your muscles. This will help alleviate your pain and help you get in the habit of prioritizing your body and your health.
You may even want to give yoga at your desk a try. Here’s a video to help lead you through techniques:
Truth #5: It’s vital to pay attention to your spinal health as you age
Although preventative measures can lessen your chance of back pain, there are no guarantees. Remember that as we age our spines naturally degenerate. One significant truth about managing back pain is that even if you’re careful about good posture, maintaining a healthy weight and meeting the CDC recommendations for physical activity, you could still be at risk for chronic conditions like spinal stenosis, arthritis or degenerative disc disease.
As we age, our spinal discs lose agility. That means your spinal column is at greater risk of damage or injury. If you make sudden jerking movements or frequently lift heavy weights – using incorrect posture – you’re more likely to cause serious damage like bulging or herniated discs. Back pain can quickly intensify if the damage involves a compressed nerve root.
If you’re a chronic pain patient with back pain, you have to be diligent and knowledgeable about your approach to pain. Research shows that babying your back too much could actually be counterproductive when it comes to improving spine health.
The truth is avoiding pain like arthritis isn’t helping. The same theory can be applied to chronic back pain. Dr. David Covall, a doctor experienced in orthopedic care explains, “It may be the lack of physical exercise that can lead to worsening arthritis symptoms. When pain strikes in a hip, knee, ankle or other joint, human nature is to avoid doing things that could aggravate the pain. Although that seems logical, this inactivity could actually exacerbate the condition by leading to muscle atrophy and joint stiffness.”
That’s why maintaining a healthy lifestyle is so important when it comes to spinal health. Remember: the truth about managing back pain means protecting your spine and its alignment.