HEALTHY LIVING AND LOW BACK PAIN
Tid Bits of Info.
- Inactive people suffered low back pain most frequently.
- Low back pain is the most common cause for visits to a doctor.
- Low back pain that causes missed work time costs the U.S. billions of dollars yearly.
- Smokers and obese people suffered low back pain most frequently and expressed a general feeling of decreased health.
- If you suffer from low back pain, seek the advice and treatment of a Physical Therapist.
Healthcare professionals have always professed that healthy living enhances our quality of life. Until recently, no specific studies have been done to confirm this belief. Living a “clean” life involves regular exercise and avoids smoking, drinking alcohol in excess, being over-weight, and having irregular sleep habits. Healthcare providers referenced anecdotal evidence to emphasize how these negative habits can lead to all kinds of health issues even though it not been proven through scientific studies.
A recent study (from “Spine”) indicates that many people who suffer from low back pain don’t always make “clean” lifestyle choices. Low back pain is one of the most common health conditions treated in out-patient Physical Therapy. Poor behavior habits and low back pain are linked in many ways.
Consider the following:
Every tissue in our body relies on oxygen to live and to function. Smoking “blocks” the oxygen from binding to the red blood cell (the blood cell that is responsible for transporting the oxygen to the different tissues of the body) and prevents it from carrying it throughout the body. Obviously, our bodies will not function without oxygen. Any damaged tissue in the body including the low back soft tissue requires richly oxygenated blood to facilitate the healing process.
Irregular sleep habits
Most adults need 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Adolescents need 10 – 12 hours per night. There are different cycles of sleep and the “deep sleep” cycle is the time when the body heals itself. If your sleep is disturbed or not long enough, you may not enter the “deep sleep” cycle, making it more difficult for the body to repair itself.
The benefits of exercise impact multiple aspects of your life. By simply increasing your daily activity, you can help reduce stress, increase cardiovascular strength and condition, reduce body weight, increase strength, improve sexual performance, sleep better, and reduce the chances of developing certain chronic diseases. Staying active and performing specific exercises can develop muscular strength and endurance throughout body. The lumbar spine needs a lot of muscular support to dynamically stabilize it throughout the entire day.
Obesity can lead to a great number of health related conditions. Low back pain has often times been linked to obesity due to the excess compressive and sheer forces placed on the structures of the low back due to the high body weight. Obesity is associated with low muscle strength and endurance. The lumbar spine desperately needs the paraspinal musculature to provide dynamic support throughout the day. In the case of most obese people, it cannot produce enough muscular force to stabilize the lumbar spine.
Having a drink that contains alcohol is not a problem. Drinking in excess or on a regular basis can have a negative effect on your body. Alcohol is a diuretic which can lead to dehydration. When we are active and our body becomes dehydrated the ability to function becomes significantly impaired. Secondly, the body has to work harder to metabolize alcohol. The liver’s ability to metabolize alcohol and produce glucose (the primary fuel source for bodily functions) is reduced.
It has not been “proven” that these behavior-related factors cause low back pain, but a great majority of the low back pain patients can be associated with one or many of them. The fact that most of these factors can be linked to many health related conditions makes it more believable that they could be a prime factor in the development of low back pain.
Treating low back pain is one of the most common conditions that an out-patient, orthopaedic Physical Therapist addresses each day. It has been reported that as many as 90% of the population will suffer from low back pain at some time in their lifetime. Physical Therapists and other healthcare professionals must stress the importance of “clean” living. Their patients are more susceptible to lingering low back pain if they are not willing to change the lifestyle if they are in the category that has been described in this blog. The change in behavior might have to be drastic in some cases, but no one can expect a behavioral change “overnight.” Constant monitoring and positive reinforcement will help. The decrease in low back pain is almost guaranteed if the patient is compliant with their behavioral changes, but it might take several weeks before they begin to experience a positive change. If they are consistent and willing to make the changes in their life, the quality of their life will improve and their low back pain will dissipate.
Physical Therapists and other healthcare professionals have to be more assertive as they profess their belief of “clean” living. They can feel more comfortable with their belief and utilize this recent study as evidence towards a link with low back pain and bad behavioral traits.
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