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How You Should Sleep With Lower Back Pain?

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How Should You Sleep with Lower Back Pain?

 

People worldwide suffer from back problems due to various reasons. In general, factors at work, excessive standing, physical exercise and even chronic medical conditions play an important role in the development lower back pain. Lower back pain interferes with your daily activities, but it also makes it difficult or even impossible to sleep at night. So how should you sleep with lower back pain?

 

Best Sleeping Position for Lower Back Pain

 

Sleep in Fetal Position

Fetal position is known to support our back and relieve any lower back pain. If you sleep on the side with the knees drawn up, your joints in the spine will open up, relieving any pressure on the structures of the back. You can also place a pillow between your legs for a better support.

 

While sleeping in this position, make sure to avoid any spine curvature. Make sure to place the pillow so that it is positioned between your knees and your ankles at the same time. Choose a thicker pillow for a better support.

 

If you sleep on the side, alternate it by sleeping on the right and on the left side as well. If you sleep on the same side all night long, you will end up with pain and even muscle imbalance.

 

For pregnant women, the best sleeping position for lower back pain is to sleep on their left side in order to avoid any pressure on the large blood structures of the body which can restrict the blood flow to the fetus.

 

Use an Extra Pillow Under the Knees

 

If you prefer sleeping on your back, you can use an extra pillow under your knees for supporting your back. This will flatten your back and avoid a large curvature of your lower back. For extra support, while sleeping on your back, you can put a rolled up towel under your lower back.

 

Don’t Sleep on Your Stomach

People suffering from lower back pain should avoid sleeping on their stomach. When sleeping on the stomach, extra pressure is put on your lower back, as well as an unpleasant twist of the spine occurs.

 

However, if this is the only position in which you can fall asleep, put a pillow under your pelvis and lower abdomen for support. If you sleep on your stomach, you don’t need a head pillow if it puts extra pressure and strain on your neck and head.

 

How to Get in and out of the Bed

 

You already know the best sleeping position for lower back pain. But have you ever thought about correct ways of getting in and out of the bed? Here is how to do it.

 

Getting into bed:

 

First, sit on the side of your bed.

Use your hands for support while you bend your knees and swing them slowly and carefully onto the bed.

Lie on your side first.

Roll onto your back using your arms for support.

 

Getting out of bed:

Once you are awake, roll on your side.

Bend your knees and let your legs hang off the bed.

Push yourself with the arms from the bed and swing your legs at the same time in order to get into a sitting position.

Stand up slowly, supporting your body with your arms.

More Tips for a Better Sleep with Lower Back Pain

 

  1. Choose the Right Mattress

 

Have you ever wondered about the best sleeping position for lower back pain? Well, not just the sleeping position, but also the mattress you sleep in is very important for a good night’s sleep. If you prefer to sleep on your side, the mattress should be soft, so your hips and shoulders sink while sleeping, avoiding any pressure to the pressure points.

 

If you prefer sleeping on your back, the mattress needs to be firm for a better comfort. The worst mattresses are those which are too soft, not offering the necessary support while sleeping.

 

  1. Buy the Right Pillows

 

The pillow you sleep in is also very important. An ideal pillow is the one that offers a neutral position where the head and the shoulders are at the same correlation. If you prefer sleeping on your side, get a thicker and firmer pillow which will help reduce the pressure on your neck.

 

If you prefer sleeping on your back, a thinner and medium firm pillow is ideal, while if you prefer sleeping on your stomach, a very thin pillow or no pillow at all is recommended.

 

  1. Relieve Your Lower Back Pain with Heat

 

Heat is known to relax the muscles of the body, including those of your lower back. For this reason, before going to bed make sure to take a shower with warm water for about 10 minutes. You can also take a hot bath if you prefer.

 

Using a heating pad or even a bottle filled with hot water can help relieve your back pain when applied to the sore area. Use the heating pad or bottle for 10 or 20 minutes, but make sure not to sleep with them. There is always the risk of burns and even fire.

 

  1. Change Your Dietary Habits

 

Eating too late or even having a large meal just before going to sleep is never recommended. It can contribute to acid reflux which will just increase your discomfort and sleeping problems. Don’t consume alcohol or caffeine in large amounts as well before going to sleep as they will disrupt your sleep too.

 

  1. Use Analgesic Rubs for Lower Back Pain

 

If you are dealing with lower back pain and are having problems sleeping, you can always try rubbing an analgesic into the sore area. This will help relax the muscles and even create a pleasant and warmth sensation.

 

  1. Don’t Sleep Too Much

Sleeping too much is not recommended as well. Adults should get about 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night. Staying for a prolonged period of time in bed will just contribute to muscle stiffness and even increase the back pain.

 

Health and Wellness Associates

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Dr. J Jaranson

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Spine Surgeon Reveals Roadmap Out of Chronic Pain

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Spine Surgeon Reveals Roadmap Out of Chronic Pain

 

As many as 8 out of 10 Americans struggle with back pain, and many resort to surgery as a solution. Unfortunately, this often does not resolve the problem, and in some cases simply worsens the situation.

 

Dr. David Hanscom, an orthopedic surgeon with a practice in Seattle, is unusual in that he tells most of his patients they don’t need surgery. He’s written a book detailing his novel approach to chronic pain treatment, called “Back in Control: A spine surgeon’s roadmap out of chronic pain.”

 

Spinal Fusions Rarely Cure Chronic Back Pain

 

Spinal fusions are a lucrative business and great source of revenue for the hospital and surgeon. Unfortunately, they rarely work for the patients. Spinal fusions arose from the assumption that disc degeneration was a source of back pain.

 

Therefore, it was thought that by fusing the disc together with the bone, which eliminates motion, you would get rid of the pain. However, that has since been proven false.

 

“Disc degeneration actually does not cause back pain. That’s been well-documented,” Dr. Hanscom says.

 

“The success rate of the spinal fusion for back pain was about 24 percent, but we still kept doing it. Then, in 1994, when this paper came out Washington showing that the return-to-work rate one year after a spinal fusion for back pain was 15 percent, I just stopped.

 

Every paper since then has showed pretty much the same dismal results; there’s maybe a 20 to 25 percent success rate of spinal fusion for back pain…

 

And the downside of a failed spine surgery is terrible. It’s really bad. These people are condemned to live their entire lifetime, 30 to 40 more years, in chronic pain.”

 

Despite such findings, spinal fusions are still popular. Each year, some 600,000 spinal fusions are performed in the U.S. with a high percentage of them being performed for non-specific low-back pain, at a cost of more than $600 billion.

 

Neurophysiological Disorder (NPD)

 

By 1988, Dr. Hanscom was suffering from burnout, which included 16 NPD symptoms. He did not know the nature of the problem and would be in this state for another 15 years.

 

Chronic pain was one of his symptoms. He inadvertently solved his chronic pain in 2003 and it took another few years before he understood that he had full-blown Neurophysiologic Disorder (NPD). He began sharing his experience with his patients in 2006.

 

NPD is rooted in chronic stress and anxiety. Your body becomes full of adrenaline, and every organ system starts responding and acting up. According to Dr. Hanscom, there are over 30 symptoms created by an adrenalized nervous system.

 

“Some of my 16 symptoms included migraine headaches, ringing in my ears, burning on my feet, itching on my scalp, migratory skin rashes, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

 

It was brutal. What I didn’t realize… is that anxiety is actually one of the classic manifestations of neurophysiological disorder. I developed extreme anxiety. I did not become a major spine surgeon by having anxiety; I became a major spine surgeon by suppressing anxiety.

 

As you know, when we try not to think about something, we think more, right? Interestingly, the burnout rate in medicine is about 50 to 55 percent and has a lot to do with suppressed anxiety.

 

Whenever I give lectures on burnout and I use the ‘anxiety’ word, the whole room just goes absolutely quiet. If I hadn’t gone through it myself, I would not really be able to talk about it….

 

We also found out that anxiety or mental pain and physical pain are processed in the same part of the brain. They’re essentially the same thing.”

 

Over the following decade and a half, Dr. Hanscom struggled to recuperate, and through a combination of pure luck and trial and error, he eventually developed a system for treating chronic pain by addressing not just the physical, but also the emotional/mental component of anger and anxiety.

 

While there’s nothing particularly new about this process, it involves going through a sequence of strategies that allow you to calm down and de-adrenalize your nervous system. Hundreds of patients have now tried this system, and lead pain-free lives.

 

This system includes:

 

Addressing your sleep

Expressive writing

Relaxation techniques

Nutrition and mild medications

Physical therapy and rehabilitation, including structure strengthening exercises

The Therapeutic Value of Expressive Writing

 

One of the strategies that had a profound impact on Dr. Hanscom’s own recovery was expressive writing — the act of writing down your negative thoughts and emotions. Interestingly, there are over 200 research papers published since 1982 documenting the effectiveness of expressive writing.

 

“The research began with expressive writing around prior traumas and many different formats have been studied. The most straightforward method is ‘negative writing.’

 

This is where you’re simply writing down your current negative thoughts – the darker, the better – and you’re destroying them instantly. You’re not writing positive thoughts; you’re writing down your negative thoughts.

 

You are not destroying them to get rid of the thoughts. They are permanently etched into your brain. You are allowing yourself to write with complete freedom, so the exercise separates you from your thoughts. Again, when you try not to think about something, you think about it more. None of us like unpleasant thoughts, so we keep tossing them aside. Dr. Daniel Wegner out of Harvard pointed out that by simply writing down the thoughts you’re trying to suppress, it breaks the cycle,” he explains.

 

Expressive writing exercises are now a foundational component of Dr. Hanscom’s program. By breaking up the psychological pathways of anxiety and frustration, it allows you to reprogram your brain. Back pain is a classic type of chronic pain that responds well to expressive writing. An interesting study showing the emotional aspect of back pain was published last year.

 

Using MRI brain imaging, they showed that while people feeling acute back pain had an activated pain center, as you would expect, people who have been in chronic pain for more than 10 years experience pain in the emotional center of their brain only. The pain center was completely dormant.

 

Patients in the acute pain group were then rescanned every three months, and they found that within 12 months, if the pain still persisted, it migrated from the pain center to the emotional center. So, chronic pain is experienced in a completely different part of your brain compared to acute pain.

 

An Extreme Success Story

 

Dr. Hanscom recounts one rather extreme example of how effective this technique can really be. A gentleman broke his back in a horse riding accident. He subsequently needed surgery on most of his thoracic spine, which led to severe chronic pain. By the time he came to see Dr. Hanscom, he’d been in pain for eight years. Two other surgeons had told him he needed a fusion from his neck all the way down to his pelvis for pain. He came to Dr. Hanscom for a third opinion.

 

“He had disc degeneration, but he had a straight spine. He had no indications for a major spinal fusion surgery. I said, ‘Look, I don’t think you need a surgery no matter what. There’s just nothing there to operate on. By the way, here are your writing exercises. Take a look at the book, see what you think, and call me in a couple of weeks.’ He’s a Ph.D. scientist and he thought I was just absolutely out of my mind. ”

 

The man’s girlfriend convinced him to try the writing exercises despite his skepticism, and by the third writing exercise — about three days later — he was 80 percent pain-free. After participating in one of Dr. Hanscom’s workshops at the Omega Institute, he became completely pain-free, and he’s now been pain-free for a year.

 

“He’s doing normal things now after eight years of chronic pain, he’s even back riding his horse in the hills at a full gallop. If he’d had those operations, he’d have a spine as stiff as a board, the chance of getting rid of his pain is almost zero, and it would’ve been disaster.”

 

Three Components to Treating Chronic Back Pain

 

According to Dr. Hanscom, disc degeneration is never a reason for surgery. In his view, surgery simply isn’t the right solution for back pain or neck pain. Sciatica and leg pain may be relieved through surgery, however. When it comes to treating back pain, he believes there are three components to getting better:

 

Learning about the mechanics of chronic pain and understanding that it’s a neurological disorder

Treating all the variables simultaneously. This includes sleep, stress, medication, nutrition, mental outlook on life, and physical conditioning. “There’s never one answer for chronic pain. People say, ‘I tried a chiropractor, it didn’t work.’ Well, that could help 10 percent, but if you’re not sleeping, it’s not going to work. You have to combine modalities to get better,” he says. “Sleep is No. 1. The entire project is null and void unless you’re sleeping”

Taking control of your own care. For example, for some people chiropractic or acupuncture may be very helpful, whereas it may not work for others. You need to take an active role in determining what’s best for you, and pursue treatments that work in your case

When seeing a new patient, for the first month or two, Dr. Hanscom works with simple medications to address sleep problems and pain. Then he will immediately ask you to start the expressive writing exercises, which teach you awareness and detachment, allowing you to reprogram your brain. Active meditation is also used.

 

“I simply have them put their brain on sensory input, maybe 20 to 30 times during the day. If you’re anxious and frustrated, you simply listen to your sensory input. Instead of fighting the pathways, you place your attention elsewhere.

 

The second phase of the treatment is all about learning more about chronic pain, and addressing the physical part of your pain. He also stresses the need to work on forgiveness. Since pain pathways and anger pathways are linked, whenever your anger pathways are fired up, your pain pathways are going to be fired up, and vice versa.

 

Dr. Hanscom recommends the book, Forgive for Good by Fred Luskin, the director of the Forgiveness Projects at Stanford University, and who did four major research projects on forgiveness.

 

A retired physician and professor in the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine at NYU School of Medicine, Dr. John Sarno, was a forerunner in the field of using forgiveness to address chronic pain, and many of Sarno’s concepts have formed the foundation of what Dr. Hanscom now teaches.

 

It’s also important to realize that working on your anger and anxiety issues may be a long-term process. An old issue may be triggered at any time, and unless you immediately address it, your pain may come back right along with your anger and anxiety. As noted by Dr. Hanscom:

 

“It can be base level stress or quirky stress. But you will get triggered. It took me a long time to accept that fact. I teach this stuff. But when I get triggered, I get angry about being triggered.”

 

Surgery Is Best Reserved as a LAST Resort

 

In many if not most cases, pain can be resolved using very simple strategies. The key is to find what works for you, and more often than not, there’s an emotional component that needs to be addressed. Dr. Hanscom, like me, strongly recommends leaving surgery as a very last resort.

 

I also struggled with back pain for about five or six years, despite getting regular exercise and trying a large number of different treatments. Still, I persisted and continued to try different strategies. The approach that finally resolved my back pain was simply to avoid sitting! I now sit about one hour per day, and I have no back pain.

 

“I can’t tell you how bad the suffering is for people with failed back surgery,” Dr. Hanscom says. “I see people like you all the time, where some simple intervention solved the problem. And then I’m watching another person come in with five back surgeries in five years. They started out just like you. It’s hard to watch.

 

I’m incredibly determined to bring this right to the mainstream public. I don’t think mainstream medicine is going to buy into it, but I’m incredibly determined to get this out into the general public knowledge because, right now, the business in medicine is doing procedures that don’t work because they make a profit, period… [But] I’m working very hard about creating my own gravity around the situation, and we’re making some definite progress here at the hospital. My partners and I are looking at [pain] differently.”

 

More Information

 

To learn more, I highly recommend picking up a copy of Dr. Hanscom’s book, Back in Control: A Spine Surgeon’s Roadmap Out of Chronic Pain. Please do keep in mind that while it may initially seem like there’s nothing new here — perhaps you’re already familiar with medication and physical therapy for example, and therefore think it simply will not work for you — it’s the process that makes it work.

 

And most importantly, your willingness to truly and fully engage in the process will determine much of your outcome. Dr. Hanscom views his book as a framework that presents known solutions to the various aspects of pain. Once you understand your situation in light of this structure you will find your own solution.

 

“It’s a very paradoxical process. You actually can’t fix yourself. [But] you are putting tools into place to allow your brain to heal,” he says… “For instance, a lot of people have read the book and started their writing. Nothing really happens until those writing exercises start. Usually by the second or third … phone call they’re sort of doing the tools but they’re heading for the wrong direction.”

 

This happens because sometimes these people are writing all day, long, Dr. Hanscom explains, and that’s actually counterproductive because you’re trying to capture your thoughts and “fix” them — which is another form of trying to regain control.

 

“This is a process about letting go of control, not having more control,’ he says. It’s completely opposite of what we’ve been taught about stress. That’s why I think finding a coach of some sort who can guide you through the process is critical.I do think a psychologist can be very helpful for guidance and wisdom… There’s just not an exact answer for different people. It’s more like a menu of options. But the key is staying persistent with the process.”

 

I would also encourage you to sit less, as sitting may actually be aggravating your back or neck pain. Cut it down to about three hours a day or less if you can. Also, while it’s not a popular idea, consider being grateful that your body is wise enough to tell you that there’s something in your life that needs to be changed, be it emotional in nature, or physical. A book that addresses this is Pain: The Gift Nobody Wants, by Dr. Paul Brand. Once you pinpoint the real problem, your pain can finally be released.

 

Health and Wellness Associates

Archived : Mercola

Carrothers

312-972-WELL

What Happens To Your Body When You Sit Too Long

sitting

What Happens When You Sit Too Long

In recent centuries, advances in industry and technology have fundamentally changed the way many humans spend their waking hours. Where it was once commonplace to spend virtually all of those hours on your feet – walking, twisting, bending, and moving – it is now the norm to spend those hours sitting.

The modern-day office is built around sitting, such that you can conduct business – make phone calls, send e-mails and faxes, and even participate in video conferences – without ever leaving your chair.

But there’s an inherent problem with this lifestyle. Your body was designed for near perpetual movement. It thrives when given opportunity to move in its fully intended range of motion and, as we’re now increasingly seeing, struggles when forced to stay in one place for long periods.

What Happens When You Sit for Too Long?

Studies looking at life in natural agriculture environments show that people in agrarian villages sit for about three hours a day. The average American office worker can sit for 13 to 15 hours a day.

The difference between a “natural” amount of sitting and modern, inappropriate amounts of sitting is huge, and accounts for negative changes at the molecular level.

According to Dr. James Levine, co-director of the Mayo Clinic and the Arizona State University Obesity Initiative, there are at least 24 different chronic diseases and conditions associated with excessive sitting.

As he wrote in Scientific American:1

“Sitting for long periods is bad because the human body was not designed to be idle. I have worked in obesity research for several decades, and my laboratory has studied the effect of sedentary lifestyles at the molecular level all the way up to office design.

Lack of movement slows metabolism, reducing the amount of food that is converted to energy and thus promoting fat accumulation, obesity, and the litany of ills—heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and more—that come with being overweight. Sitting is bad for lean people, too.

For instance, sitting in your chair after a meal leads to high blood sugar spikes, whereas getting up after you eat can cut those spikes in half.”

Not surprisingly, sitting for extended periods of time increases your risk for premature death. This is especially concerning given the fact that you may be vulnerable to these risks even if you are a fit athlete who exercises regularly.

It takes a toll on your mental health, too. Women who sit more than seven hours per day were found to have a 47 percent higher risk of depression than women who sit four hours or less.2

There’s really no question anymore that if you want to lower your risk of chronic disease, you’ve got to get up out of your chair. This is at least as important as regular exercise… and quite possibly even more so.

Practically Speaking: 5 Tips for Better Health if You Work at a Computer

You might be thinking this sounds good in theory… but how do you translate your seated computer job into a standing one? It’s easier than you might think. For starters, check out these essential tips for computer workers:3

  1. Stand Up

If you’re lucky, your office may be one that has already implemented sit-stand workstations or even treadmill desks. Those who used such workstations easily replaced 25 percent of their sitting time with standing and boosted their well-being (while decreasing fatigue and appetite).4

But if you don’t have a specially designed desk, don’t let that stop you. Prop your computer up on a stack of books, a printer, or even an overturned trash can and get on your feet.

When I travel in hotels, I frequently use the mini fridge or simply turn the wastebasket upside down and put it on top of the desk, and it works just fine.

  1. Get Moving

Why simply stand up when you can move too? The treadmill desk, which was invented by Dr. Levine, is ideal for this, but again it’s not the only option. You can walk while you’re on the phone, walk to communicate with others in your office (instead of e-mailing), and even conduct walking meetings.

  1. Monitor Your Screen Height

Whether you’re sitting or standing, the top of your computer screen should be level with your eyes, so you’re only looking down about 10 degrees to view the screen. If it’s lower, you’ll move your head downward, which can lead to back and neck pain. If it’s higher, it can cause dry eye syndrome.

  1. Imagine Your Head as a Bowling Ball

Your head must be properly aligned to avoid undue stress on your neck and spine. Avoid craning your head forward, holding it upright instead. And while you’re at it, practice chin retractions, or making a double chin, to help line up your head, neck, and spine.

  1. Try the “Pomodoro Technique”

You know those little tomato-shaped (pomodoro is Italian for tomato) timers? Wind one up to 25 minutes (or set an online calculator). During this time, focus on your work intensely. When it goes off, take 5 minutes to walk, do jumping jacks, or otherwise take a break from your work. This helps you to stay productive while avoiding burnout.

What’s It Really Like to Work While Standing?

If you’re curious… just try it. Reactions tend to be mixed, at least initially, but if you stick with it you will be virtually guaranteed to experience benefits. The Guardian, for instance, recently featured an article with a first-hand account of working while standing, and the author wasn’t impressed.

He said “standing up to work felt like a horrible punishment” and lead to aches and decreased productivity.5 I couldn’t disagree more, but I will say that standing all day takes some adjustment. However, many people feel better almost immediately. As one worker who uses an adjustable-height work desk told TIME:6

“I definitely feel healthier standing while working as it causes me to be more focused on my posture and ‘hold’ myself better in terms of my stomach and shoulders especially.”

Personally, standing more has worked wonders for me. I used to recommend intermittent movement, or standing up about once every 15 minutes, as a way to counteract the ill effects of sitting. Now, I’ve found an even better strategy, which is simply not sitting. I used to sit for 12 to 14 hours a day. Now, I strive to sit for less than one hour a day.

After I made this change, the back pain that I have struggled with for decades (and tried many different methods to relieve without lasting success) has disappeared. In addition to not sitting, I typically walk about 15,000 steps a day, in addition to, not in place of, my regular exercise program. I believe this combination of exercise, non-exercise activities like walking 10,000 steps a day, along with avoiding sitting whenever possible is the key to being really fit and enjoying a pain-free and joyful life.

You’re Not a Prisoner to Your Chair

If you’re still sitting down while reading this… now’s your chance – stand up! As Dr. Levine said: “We live amid a sea of killer chairs: adjustable, swivel, recliner, wing, club, chaise longue, sofa, arm, four-legged, three-legged, wood, leather, plastic, car, plane, train, dining and bar. That’s the bad news. The good news is that you do not have to use them.”

Many progressive workplaces are helping employees to stand and move more during the day. For instance, some corporations encourage “walk-and-talk” meetings and e-mail-free work zones, and offer standing workstations and treadmill desks. But if yours isn’t among them, take matters into your own hands. You may be used to sitting down when you get to work, but try, for a day, standing up instead.

One day can turn into the next and the next, but please be patient and stick with it. Research shows that it can take anywhere from 18 to 254 days to build a new habit and have it feel automatic.7 Once you get to this point, you’ll likely already be reaping the many rewards of not sitting, things like improved blood sugar and blood pressure levels, less body fat and a lower risk of chronic disease.

Health and Wellness Associates

312-972-WELL

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