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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h o u s e c a l l s { summer 2017 } 27 1. Professional truckers 2. Construction workers 3. Landscapers 4. Police officers 5. Farmers 6. Roofers 7. Firefighters/EMTs 8. Delivery drivers 9. Nursing home staff 10. Auto mechanics BACK AT WORK Does your job earn you a bad back? Duties such as heavy lifting and heavy (i.e. constant) sitting can both lead to spine trouble. According to the American Chiropractic Association, back pain is most common among the following professions: problem area," Hard advises. While intense exercise should be avoided until the injury heals, going about your daily activities might reduce stiffness and aches. "Acute pain may also call for an anti-inflammatory or muscle relaxer," adds Dr. Khoury. Over-the-counter options like acetaminophen, aspirin, ibuprofen, a nd topical analgesics like Icy Hot can help ease discomfort. (Seek medical help immediately if you experience numbness, tingling, weakness, paralysis, incontinence, or severe groin pain, as those may be signs of nerve involvement.) If severe acute pain persists or worsens over the course of a week or two—or if you experience chronic back pain—visit your primary care doctor. He or she may offer a steroid injection at the problem site to help manage pain, and/or refer you to a neurosurgeon or orthopedic spine surgeon for further evaluation. The specialist will examine range of motion in your neck and back as well as your reflexes, gait, and sensation (using a dull pinprick). He or she will likely also conduct a manual test of motor strength, such as squeezing a hand or pulling against an arm, and may order an X-ray, MRI, or CT scan to view your bones and soft tissues. Treatment will vary based on diagnosis. For severe sprains and disc injuries, the first course of action is typically physical therapy, which uses manual therapy (hands on adjustments to the spine), heat treatment, stretching, and exercise to relieve pain and strengthen the back. "With a good regimen of physical therapy, the majority of cases can be resolved," says Dr. Khoury. "We've had patients try alternative treatments such as acupuncture, dry needling, cupping, and chiropractic treatment with some success, as well." Should non-invasive treatments fail, surgery— followed by physical therapy—may be required. The most common operation is a laminectomy to correct a herniated disc, which involves removing part of the vertebral bone, ligament, and the ruptured disc. The patient may lose up to a third of the damaged disc, which the body replaces with scar tissue. "The result is good, but won't be a 100 percent return to normal," warns Dr. Khoury. "Patients will be given a lifelong 'be BEWARE OF PAIN KILLERS According to the CDC, in 2012, health care providers wrote 259 million prescriptions for opioid pain medications like morphine, hydrocodone, and oxycodone—enough for every adult in the United States to have a bottle. However, "these opioids only mask back pain, rather than actually treating the problem," explains Dr. Khoury. "And once you get started on these medications, it can be hard to stop." Over time, patients can develop a tolerance to opioids, requiring more and more of the drugs to achieve the same results. Such increased dosing can then lead to side effects such as sedation, nausea, dizziness, and constipation and result in high risks for addiction and overdose. So in recent years, doctors have increasingly turned to prescribing safer alternatives, such as steroid shots, physical therapy, and even yoga. "Steroid shots work to reduce inflammation while physical therapy helps to build strength and flexibility," says Dr. Khoury. And studies show that restorative yoga can significantly relieve chronic pain.

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