House Calls

SUM 2017

House Calls Magazine is a quarterly publication that focuses on health and wellness. It includes a wide assortment of articles with topics on the latest health and wellness information, nutrition, safety, lifestyles, and more.

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26 { summer 2017 } h o u s e c a l l s muscles from properly supporting the backbone," says Dr. Khoury. Ligament sprains may also strike when a person dives too quickly into a physical activity for which they're not conditioned. Dr. Khoury points to weekend warriors who don't regularly engage in strength training then hoist a bag of potting soil on Saturday, only to strain a back muscle. We also carry the burden of time on our backs. As we age, the elastic discs in our spine slowly lose their cushioning capabilities. "Spine strength peaks when we're young adults," notes Dr. Khoury. Even for active, healthy adults, the risk of injury increases as the spine wears down over time. Lower back pain is most common among the 40 and older set, as is the condition spinal stenosis—a narrowing of the spinal canal that can cause nerves to become pinched, resulting in pain, numbness, or tingling in the legs, and sometimes loss of bladder or bowel control. Additional risk factors for back pain include lifestyle choices like a high-calorie, high-fat diet and smoking, as well as inherent traits such as sex, race, and genetics. Scoliosis, a spine curvature that can cause pain in middle age, progresses seven to eight times faster among adolescent girls than boys, reports the Baylor Scoliosis Center. African- American women are three times more likely than their Caucasian peers to develop spondylolisthesis, a condition in which a lumbar vertebrae slips out of place, causing other vertebrae to enlarge and squeeze nerves. And anklosing spondylitis, a spinal arthritis, can be hereditary, says the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. TYPES OF TREATMENT The good news? Though back pain is widespread, it's typically short-lived. According to Hard, roughly 90 percent of people who suffer from a back injury recover within two to four weeks, and only about five percent require surgery for chronic pain. (Acute pain, the more common of the two, lasts no longer than six weeks, while chronic pain is defined as pain lasting for longer than three months.) Acute back injuries typically heal on their own without treatment; however, there are some steps you can take to ease the initial discomfort. "At the onset of pain, immediately apply ice to the area, which will help calm muscle spasms and reduce inflammation, then gently stretch the That's Wild! Giraffes, humans, and mice boast the exact same number of cervical (neck) bones: seven. FLEX YOUR MUSCLES Regularly stretching the back and core muscles can help ease tension, making them more limber and less prone to injury, says Hard, who recommends working these mild stretches into your fitness regime. However, she cautions, "while strengthening and stretching the back is healthy, don't do any back exercises that hurt. 'No pain, no gain' is a myth," says the physical therapist. Spine Extension: Stand with your palms on your lower back just above the buttocks with fingertips pointed toward the floor. Gently arch your spine while pushing your hips forward. This movement acts as a counter to the many forward-bending (flexion) tasks we perform throughout the day, including driving, typing, and texting. Knees to Chest: While lying on your back, bring one or both knees up to the chest and give them a hug. This stretch works to keep the lower back limber and works in the opposite way as the spine extension. Hamstring Stretch: From a standing position, lift one leg onto a chair, desk, or other elevated surface. Keep your legs and back straight and point your toes toward the ceiling. Lengthening these rear thigh muscles can relieve stress in the lower back. Dr. George Khoury "The spine provides the pathway from our environment—everything we feel, see,and touch—to our brain." —DR. GEORGE KHOURY Stress can put pressure on our minds as well as our muscles —often manifesting in the form of back tension and pain.

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