If you are considering back surgery because of a pain issue, it might not even be the most expedient treatment for you as it will not always alleviate or mitigate pain. Unless your back issue is neurological or an instance of instability of the spine, surgery simply is not your best course of treatment. If you suffer from muscular or myofascial pain, lumbar facet arthropathy or lumbar disc herniation, amongst other back pain issues, your best bet is to treat your back pain without surgery. Read my blog for the full details of the non-surgical treatments I recommend.
Musculoskeletal Ultrasounds (MSUs) are my go-to when attempting to pin down an issue that we don’t believe to be bone related. That means they are perfect for diagnosing muscle, tendon, and ligament injury – as this dynamic investigative and explorable procedure tells us in seconds the make-up of your musculoskeletal system. We have found that MSU has been pivotal in helping diagnose sports injuries and others who find they are in pain when they move a joint. Traditional analysis like x-rays and MRIs take static images where MSUs create dynamic images in motion. Let’s explore that some more.
Strengthen Your Supporting Arch
If the body is a temple the spine is the supporting arch, but it should be treated like the sanctuary. That’s because the spine has more than a duty to keep the body upright. It’s more than just a bunch of bones as it homes the pathways of our central nervous system which allows our brain to communicate with everything else in our body. We should prioritize our spine’s health in our day-to-day life as lack of care can lead to physical discomfort and make us susceptible to future complications. Spine care is an everyday task that can be optimized with a few careful steps. This leads us straight into the crux and goal of this blog entry: keeping a good posture.
Keeping correct posture is the most difficult aspect of spine care, and it won’t happen overnight - although, you can get the process going immediately. Your spine wants to be in a slight S shape with your shoulders squared and your hip tucked in. Often, achieving this position is relatively easy, making it a subconscious and natural stance is where the difficulty lies.
· For starters, imagine a string tied to the back of your head. Now imagine someone lightly tugging it back as if you were a marionette. Your head should be lifted and held high and proud.
· Then, tighten your shoulders by pulling them back slightly (without puffing your chest out like a bird). They should be squared and back, not rounded and hunched.
· Tuck your pelvis in using your gluts. Stand up straight and distribute weight evenly between both your feet.
At this stage, you may feel slight discomfort – if not – great, just keep practicing until it becomes your natural stance. If you are feeling discomfort, then read on.
I frequently explain to patients who visit me about posture and back pain at the Mount Sinai Center of Rehabilitative Medicine that their discomfort in standing straight usually stems from underdeveloped supporting muscles. Either this, or the pain they are experiencing is due to their body weight – and I’ll explain why.
For every kilo you lose, your spine frees 8 kilos worth of tension, which means that thinner people put less strain on their spine and heavier people put on more. But an exercise regime isn’t just about losing weight, in fact, that is just a bonus. The real benefit comes from strengthening the muscles that support the skeletal structure.
Think about it, there are plenty of athletes who would score high on the BMI scale for being overweight, consequently meaning their back should be under high levels of pressure, but do not suffer from back problems as their muscles are sufficiently developed to handle the extra stress. Once your muscles have been adequately strengthened, holding the aforementioned posture will no longer be uncomfortable.
The balancing act lies between being at a suitable weight comparative to your core strength. That’s why a focus on exercising the abdominals and lower back muscles will immediately reduce the impact the spine sustains throughout everyday life.
But of course, make sure your lifting technique is spot-on. There would be nothing worse than damaging your spine in your attempt to strengthen it.
The approach of Spring can only mean one thing in New York City – baseball season. The beginning of April brings the season home opener of both the Yankees and the Mets, two of our finest, home-grown sports teams.
As sports injuries go, Major League Baseball is at lower end of the risk spectrum out of the big four, but it is by no means injury-free. From home plate collisions to fractured skulls to even the odd foul ball in the groin, there has been some fairly dramatic damage done on the diamond. However, the most common injuries seen tend to be a little less theatrical – such as tendonitis or ligament and rotator cuff tears.
Normally, baseball injuries can be avoided by doing simple things such as warming up properly and not pitching on consecutive days or playing all year round, but if you are a pro player, some of these are impossible to avoid. So this month, we are taking a look at three major New York baseball players and their most famous injuries.
First up is Mets third baseman David Wright. Captain of the Mets since 2013, Wright has sustained his fair share of injuries in his time, from concussions to contusions. Most recently the 33-year old was placed on the disabled list for sixty days to deal with his spinal stenosis. Spinal stenosis involves an abnormal narrowing of the spinal canal and can be congenital or more commonly caused by aging and arthritis. With symptoms including pain, numbness, and loss of motor control, it is really pretty amazing to see such a productive comeback helping to lead the Mets to the World Series.
Next is Alex Rodriguez, considered by many to be one of the greatest baseball players of all time. A-Rod’s stellar career has been somewhat marred recently by hip and knee injuries and most recently had hip surgery to correct this. 40-year-old Rodriguez was suffering from a misshapen femur which, for 20 years, hasn’t fit perfectly into his hip socket. A common defect which the infielder has had since birth or childhood, which limits the movement he could achieve in his hip. Thankfully he underwent arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn labrum and had the femur shaved down to fit better into the socket and now is back and playing as well as ever.
Finally, we have Matt Harvey, the Mets’ 26-year old pitcher. Harvey recently missed the whole of the 2014 season due to surgery, despite being one of the most dominant young pitchers in Major League Baseball. Every time he pitches, his fans refer to it as “Harvey Day”, but he’s not the only Major League pitcher to have something named after him. Towards the end of 2013, Harvey had Tommy John Surgery, a procedure most commonly performed on baseball players and named after ex-Yankees pitcher Tommy John who first had the surgery in 1974. The procedure involves ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) reconstruction, where the UCL (in the elbow) is replaced with a tendon from elsewhere in the body. Although it took longer than Harvey had anticipated for it to heal, he was back throwing a baseball just 4 months after the surgery and came back on top form for the 2015 season. He is on the verge of dominating baseball in 2016.
If you want to learn more about any of these injuries – or you suffer from elbow problems, hip and knee problems, or chronic back pain (like these baseball superstars) get in touch here.