Most people will have back pain sometime in their lives. Almost anything can cause a back injury. Lifting things by bending your legs and keeping your back straight can help prevent an injury, but not everyone remembers that advice all the time.
Bracing the lower back can help by stabilizing and protecting the back. Keep in mind that braces can’t cure your back problems, but they can help reduce pain and promote healing.
When to Use a Back Brace
As with any type of pain, if it is so bad you can’t move without feeling severe pain, see a doctor. The same goes if mild or moderate pain does not go away after a few days.
If the pain is moderate, bracing it as soon as the pain begins can help give enough support to keep you moving. Staying immobile is bad for the back.
Don’t use a brace for more than a few days unless specifically directed by your medical professional. If you use it more, the back muscles can get used to the brace and could lose strength.
Medical professionals often recommend back braces for people with chronic or acute back pain. A custom fit back brace is a very smart idea if you have had a spinal procedure or a spinal surgery, no matter how minimal the surgery. These braces are custom fit to you with added support based on your specific injury. This brace should be used for support immediately following the procedure especially if anesthesia is utilized.
Because of the possibility of friction between the skin and the brace, you might want to wear a shirt under the brace.
Types of Back Braces
There are several types of back braces; soft corset, semi-rigid, and custom molded. All have the goal of limiting the back’s range of motion, but the custom ones are the most restrictive, then the semi-rigid, followed by the soft corset.
There are also braces designed specifically for certain purposes like industrial work and athletic activities.
The prices and materials of the different kinds of braces vary. Some are available in drugstores, others only come after a prescription from a doctor.
No matter which type you buy, make sure the brace fits you and the natural curvature of your spine. It should be in contact with all areas of your back and fit snug, but not too tight. It should be comfortable and feel supportive.
Look for a brace that seems durable and is easy to clean. Materials like nylon, polyester, and rubber are simple to clean.
Some braces have removable inserts for additional support. The adjustability also varies, so look for that. Also, check for padding that might make the brace feel a bit more comfortable.
How Do Back Braces Work?
The types of braces from the drugstore limit the movement in the spine and can relieve the pressure on some parts of the back. They can help improve posture and reduce the load on the lower back and can help make movements like transitioning from sitting to standing more comfortable.
Straps help to tighten the brace around the body, compressing the core muscles and stabilizing the area around the spine. Intra-abdominal pressure (IAP) can counter the forces on the spine, allowing the stabilization.
The medical professionals at B3 Medical can discuss the use of back braces with you. They study the source of your pain and help you get your life back. Contact the office today to schedule a complimentary pain evaluation.
When our lives get busy and stress takes over, we tend to indulge in comfort foods. Most comfort foods don’t actually reduce your level of stress, however, there are some foods that can.
Vitamins and Minerals
Foods that are high in vitamin C can help give your immune system a boost when you’re stressed. They can also help lower cortisol levels in your body, which is the stress hormone. Oranges, berries, kale, peppers, and kiwi have a lot of vitamin C in them. Blueberries contain a lot of vitamin C and other antioxidants.
Magnesium is also good for handling stress. Low levels of magnesium can cause bad moods, fatigue, insomnia, and high blood pressure. Leafy green vegetables like spinach contain a lot of magnesium. Beans and brown rice have a lot, too.
Folate is also important because it helps produce dopamine, the brain’s pleasure chemical. Spinach and other leafy greens contain a lot of folate. Asparagus is another good source of folate.
Avocados also have a lot of folate and other vitamins and minerals in them like B vitamins which help keep nerves and brain cells healthy. They also contain a lot of potassium which helps keep blood pressure low.
Oatmeal is a complex carb that doesn’t spike blood sugar because the body digests it slowly.
It’s also warm and comforting. Add some berries and nuts and it could be a good way to help your brain generate serotonin, a destressing neurotransmitter.
Make it with milk and increase the stress-relieving powers. Milk contains a lot of antioxidants and B vitamins. The protein lactium has a calming effect on the body and there is also a lot of potassium in a glass of milk.
Nuts and Seeds
The hand-occupying task of shelling nuts can help reduce stress in some ways, but the nuts inside also have stress-relieving benefits.
Pistachios contain phytonutrients that help support cardiovascular health.
Almonds also contain a lot of vitamins B2 and E which help the immune system during stressful times.
Cashews contain a lot of zinc, a mineral that helps reduce anxiety. They also contain a lot of omega-3s and protein. But cashews and other nuts also have a lot of calories, so eat them in moderation.
Flaxseed, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds contain a lot of magnesium.
This is the advice we’ve all been waiting for. A bite of dark chocolate can help reduce stress hormones. Dark chocolate also contains antioxidants that can help lower blood pressure and improve circulation. Look for the kinds of dark chocolate that have at least 70 percent cocoa. Remember, a bite, not the entire bar.
What to Avoid
To keep stress levels regulated, avoid refined sugars. They give a quick boost of energy and then a sugar low follows. The same happens with white carbs like potato chips, flour, bread, and pasta.
Caffeine can also cause jitters, heart palpitations, and insomnia if stress levels are already high. Opt for decaf or herbal teas instead. Many herbal teas can help reduce stress hormones.
If you need help reaching your nutritional goals, the professionals at B3 Medical can help. Contact us today.
Experts estimate that about 80% of the U.S. population will experience back pain at some point in their lives. While seeing a doctor is the best way to find out the cause of your back pain, there are some things you can do at home to help manage the pain.
Ice First, Heat Later
If you injure yourself or have persistent pain after an activity, ice is a good option. Ice is best for the first 24 to 48 hours after an injury because it reduces inflammation and slows down nerve impulses. Be sure to only ice for 20 minutes at a time.
Warmth might help relieve some of the pain, but it does not help the inflammation. In fact, direct heat can make the inflammation worse, which may lead to an increase in pain. After the inflammation goes down, heat can stimulate blood flow to the injured area to start the healing process.
Indirect heat like warm Epsom Salt baths can also help sore backs. The magnesium sulfate in the salts can make its way through the skin to the muscles to help relieve pain. Just make sure the water is between 92 and 100 degrees.
Rubs, Gels, Creams, Ointments, and Patches
There are many types of topical medications for back pain. Some ingredients to look for include:
- Ketoprofen (Diractin)
- Ibuprofen (Nurofen or Dolgit)
- Diclofenac (Voltaren)
- Lidocaine (Lidoderm)
- Brazilian arnica
Some products contain capsaicin, the heat-producing substance in hot peppers. When rubbed on the skin, the capsaicin can help stop nerves from transmitting pain signals to the brain, thus reducing the pain.
When using these products, you should test them in a small area first to make sure the cream isn’t going to irritate your skin. Oral nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are also a good over-the-counter option for back pain, but should not be taken long term without talking to a doctor first.
Concentrate on Posture and Movement
The spine is designed to move, so make sure you’re not sitting still for too long. For those who sit at desks all day long, it’s important to get up throughout the day and stretch out your muscles. Otherwise, they’ll become stiff, and if you suffer from back pain, that could only make it worse.
When you are sitting, make sure your posture is good. If it isn’t, this could be a contributing factor to your back pain. A good chair can help with your posture by keeping your spine aligned.
Our bodies need sleep to rejuvenate and restore itself. Try to avoid sleeping on your stomach since this puts pressure on the spine. If you choose to sleep on your back or side, use a pillow between or under your knees to keep the spine aligned.
During the day, try not to stay in bed for long periods of time. It’s better to keep moving so your muscles don’t stiffen up. If your back pain wakes you up a night, lasts longer than six weeks, gets worse, or comes with weakness, tingling, or numbness in the arms or legs, it’s time to see a doctor.
The professionals at Tampa’s B3 Medical can help diagnose the source of your back pain and help you find relief. Make an appointment today.
Stress is part of our lives each and every day and chances are you’re trying to get rid of some of it. Massage is a good way to relax and forget about life for a bit.
Massage reduces the levels of stress-related chemicals in the body like cortisol, adrenaline, and norepinephrine. It can stimulate the release of endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine, which are chemicals that make our bodies feel good. Massage can also lower blood pressure and heart rate.
Some types of massage work better than others for relieving stress. For example, a deep tissue massage usually isn’t thought of for stress relief, but rather pain relief. However, removing physical restrictions in the connective tissue can decrease stress. At B3, we believe that structure creates and maintains function. Our therapists work with you to decrease stress through a systematic approach that will eventually lead to lower stress levels in the body.
There are also a number of other things that can be done occasionally to help decrease stress.
What to Ask For?
Swedish massage is the most common type of massage. Therapists use different motions to release tension, decompress muscle tissue, and get rid of those knots in the muscles. They use a variety of techniques, but the longer and smoother gliding strokes can be the most relaxing.
Most massage therapists will add aromatherapy to the massage, which can also help relieve stress. Lavender, geranium, and chamomile are some of the most popular scents for massage.
Shiatsu or Thai massage are also gentle and tension-relieving. Shiatsu means finger pressure and during this type of massage, a therapist uses thumbs, hands, elbows, knees, or feet to apply pressure to points in the body. The therapist might also rotate or stretch the limbs. Thai massage is more about stretching and is sometimes more energizing than relaxing.
Acupressure can help trigger points in the body to relax, which loosens tight muscles and leads to relaxation.
A hot stone massage is also good for relaxation. The heat from the smooth stones can help ease the tension causing muscle knots. The stones are especially good if you only like light pressure when getting a massage.
There are thin muscles on the scalp that can hold a lot of tension. A scalp massage can be a great stress reliever. Most people hold stress in the head, neck, and shoulders, so taking care of those areas can be beneficial, especially if you have a time limit.
The ears also contain many pressure points, so massaging them can help the central nervous system release endorphins. If you’re interested in integrating massage therapy into your overall health plan, talk to the professionals at B3 Medical. We can help you be a healthier and less stressed you.
A herniated disc, which is also referred to as a slipped or ruptured disc, can happen anywhere along the spine, but typically happens in the neck or lower back.
The discs are soft pads between the bony vertebrae that allow the back to bend and absorb shock. When the inside of the pad, which is called the nucleus, bursts through the outside part called the cartilage, it puts pressure on the nearby nerve, which is what causes the severe pain.
There are some home remedies that can be used to help manage the pain, but these are only temporary solutions. A proven way to relieve the pain within a matter of weeks is through non-surgical treatments.
Managing the pain from a herniated disc with home remedies is a good temporary option. Resting and staying away from activities that cause pain can help the most. However, resting too long can sometimes cause stiffness and pain, so make sure you’re mixing in some movement and not just lying in bed for days at a time.
Over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can also help to relieve pain and inflammation. Muscle relaxants can also help but should only be taken with a doctor’s prescription. The same goes for oral steroid medications.
Heat and ice are good options for pain management if you’d rather not take any medications. Ice can ease the inflammation and muscle spasms that can sometimes be caused by a herniated disc. Ice works best for spinal pain. Acute disc pain symptoms should be treated with ice only. Heat can be used in chronic conditions but is best saved for the extremities.
Physical therapy is a viable non-surgical option. Sometimes, over-the-counter pain relievers can help ease the pain enough for patients to go through a series of physical therapy treatments. The physical therapist will work with patients to target exercises that can help the disc heal and hopefully keep it from herniating again.
Strengthening the muscles that support the neck and back can also help relieve some of the stress on the herniated disc and relieve pain.
Injections of corticosteroids and other medications can help to relieve pain and work best when paired with other non-surgical options like physical therapy, massage therapy, and chiropractic care.
Massage Therapy and Chiropractic Care
Massage therapy helps the body heal itself naturally by increasing blood circulation and relaxing the muscles, which results in pain relief. Chiropractic care can also have the same affect through the utilization of spinal manipulation techniques.
Most herniated disc symptoms go away after about six weeks, but in some cases, surgery may be the only option. If the pain comes with numbness or weakness, difficulty standing or walking, or loss of bladder or bowel control, surgery might be the only answer.
The team of professionals at B3 Medical in Tampa will work to relieve your pain through our non-surgical treatment options before suggesting surgery. Make an appointment today to discuss your pain and treatment options.
We’re well into the new year, and if you’re one of the thousands who made a commitment to lose weight in 2018, and have been practicing a healthier diet, you should be down a few pounds by now. If you made significant changes to your eating habits and haven’t seen any results, here are a few reasons why this might be happening.
Underestimation and Overestimation
The weight might not be coming off because of your estimation skills. You might be underestimating how many calories you’re consuming and overestimating how many you are actually burning.
It’s easy to forget what we put into our mouths each day. Keeping track of what you actually eat with a food diary can help you be more aware and lose more weight. Estimating portion size instead of using a scale can get you off track. Weighing food can help you better estimate calorie intake and keep you from eating too much.
Overestimating how many calories you burn during a workout can also keep you from losing weight. If you reward yourself with a big meal or a smoothie after every workout, you might be eliminating any benefit you just got from the gym.
Watch out for high sugar sports drinks, protein bars, some vitamin waters, and mixed coffee drinks – they typically have a lot of calories.
Not Enough Sleep
Our bodies need time to recharge. If the body does not get enough sleep, it can go into a carb and fat-craving cycle. Too much sleep can also be a problem. Too much or too little sleep can throw off the hormones that control appetite and hunger.
To figure out how much sleep you need, for about a week, try going to bed about eight hours before you need to wake up. If you wake up before the alarm, you might be able to get by with less sleep. If you hit snooze, you might need a bit more sleep.
Exercising is the key to losing weight, but the wrong kinds of exercise might be keeping you from losing weight. The more muscle you have, the more fat you can burn.
Lifting weights or resistance training is a good way to keep or build muscle mass. It can also prevent your metabolism from slowing down. At the same time, don’t skip cardio. It’s an effective way to improve your health and burn a large amount of calories.
Get at least 150 minutes of exercise each week and mix up the routine a bit. Your body adapts to a workout over time, and it won’t have as much impact.
Drinking the Wrong Things
Water is one of the body’s favorite things. Drinking too little of it can keep you from losing weight. One study shows people who drank 500ml of water 30 minutes before each meal lost more weight than people who did not. Drinking water can also boost your metabolism.
Alcohol, in particular, is a drink that has a lot of calories. Therefore, drinking too much could sabotage weight loss.
Just make sure you’re aware of the amount of calories in a certain drink before consuming it – you might be drinking more calories than you think.
We like things to happen quickly in our lives, and sometimes weight loss just isn’t one of them. The focus shouldn’t be on losing a lot of weight in a small amount of time, but rather developing healthy eating habits that can be maintained over a long period of time, which can also end in weight loss.
Setting a goal weight can also be counter-productive. Instead, try focusing on a goal body fat percentage.
If you want to talk with someone about losing weight and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, the professionals at B3 Medical can help. Give us a call today.