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Rheumatoid Arthritis Risk More than Doubled in Smokers with High Sodium Intake

sodium smoking rheumatoid arthritis riskMany people develop spinal stenosis as a result of osteoarthritis but rheumatoid arthritis can also cause spinal narrowing, trapped nerves and spinal cord compression. Avoiding autoimmune disease is far from easy but new research from Sweden suggests that smokers would do well to avoid eating a diet high in salt if they wish to reduce their risk of rheumatoid arthritis. Continue reading “Rheumatoid Arthritis Risk More than Doubled in Smokers with High Sodium Intake” »

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Chiropractic Treatment Benefits Back-Related Leg Pain

chiropractic for spinal stenosis back and leg painAn article published in the Annals of Internal Medicine this month concluded that home exercise and advice was more effective when combined with spinal manipulation for leg pain related to spinal problems. The study, which took place in Minnesota and Iowa, involved 192 patients with back-related leg pain, a common symptom of spinal stenosis, that had lasted for at least 4 weeks. Continue reading “Chiropractic Treatment Benefits Back-Related Leg Pain” »

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Standing up to Back Pain – How 30 Minutes Each of Standing and Sitting Can Improve Productivity and Relieve Back and Leg Pain

sit-stand workstation for back pain reliefStaying active is one of the best ways to help reduce your risk of back pain and help alleviate pain itself. Incorporating more exercise into your day can seem like a real challenge though when work, school, kids, partners and everything else makes claims on your time. A new study suggests a fairly simple solution: alternating between 30 minutes of standing and 30 minutes of sitting down at work. Does it really help relieve back pain, and will it harm your productivity?

This latest research, courtesy of scientists in Australia, found that office workers who spent a week switching between working standing up and working sitting down for half hour periods felt less tired and had reduced back pain and lower leg pain compared to when they spent the whole day sitting at their desks. Earlier studies have found that office workers spend around 75% of their day sitting in a chair, which has a significant effect on the risk of a variety of ailments, including back pain, cardiovascular disease and even diabetes.

The focus of this back pain study was two-pronged, with the researchers looking not only at the ability of this routine to relieve pain but also its potential effect on productivity. As any office manager knows, having your employees take a break every half hour to do jumping jacks or get some fresh air can really cut into available work time, while having people sit in a poorly lit, stuffy office all day is also detrimental to productivity (and health!).

The researchers recruited 17 men and 6 women and randomly assigned them to either spend their workday sitting or alternate between sitting and standing. Both groups used an electric adjustable-height workstation such as the Ergotron WorkFit-S 33-341-200 Dual Sit-Stand Workstation and the work desk was adjusted in height during standing and sitting periods. Participants wore physical activity monitors so that their sitting, standing and walking times could be recorded. The office workers were largely middle-aged (average age 48) and as the researchers were interested in the effects of being sedentary on markers for cardiovascular disease and diabetes, they recruited 15 overweight, and 8 obese participants. The routine was followed for five work days and then the roles were reversed during a second work week.

Questionnaires were filled out at the end of the working weeks to assess levels of fatigue, musculoskeletal comfort, and how productive they felt they had been. The workers also noted how well they liked the adjustable workstation. Those who switched between sitting and standing reported higher enjoyment (81/100) when using the workstation, compared to 64/100 in the seated workers.

Switching between standing and sitting resulted in an average fatigue score of 52.7, compared to 67.8 when sitting all day. Scores over 66 were considered higher than what a healthy person would feel. The sit-stand group had 32% fewer musculoskeletal symptoms in the lower back and 14% fewer in their ankles and feet compared to when sitting all day.

Focus and concentration were better during the days when people worked sitting down, but productivity was actually higher in those alternating between sitting and standing. Those in the sit-stand group also tended to be less impatient, and less irritable than those sitting all day. The decrease in fatigue reported when sitting and standing may also translate to increased productivity over time, and the reduced incidence of back pain and leg pain may also help workers to minimise sick days over the longer term.


How to Get More Exercise in Your Average Work-Day

This may be the first study to show clear improvements in back pain, leg pain, and fatigue, following well-documented reductions in sedentary behaviour in office workers. Standing is increasingly seen to be better for health than sitting, while moving around is even better than standing. This can seem tricky to do in an office setting but simply things can increase physical activity during the day, such as:

  • Walking to talk to a colleague, instead of emailing or calling
  • Using the stairs instead of escalators and elevators
  • Heading further afield for lunch
  • Standing up and walking around during a phone call
  • Having meetings standing up or even walking around a courtyard outside
  • Switching after-work drinks for a squash game, jog, or yoga class

Standing up and moving around during the work day can help decrease metabolic factors associated with increased inflammation, aid circulation for better tissue oxygenation and nourishment, improve emotional well-being, reduce pain, and also help prevent overtaxing of certain muscle groups that may lead to back pain, neck pain or other pain condition. Over time, increased activity also appears to reduce the likelihood of undesirable changes in bones and ligaments that may lead to spinal stenosis and back pain.

Reference

Thorp AA, Kingwell BA, Owen N, Dunstan DW. (2014). Breaking up workplace sitting time with intermittent standing bouts improves fatigue and musculoskeletal discomfort in overweight/obese office workers. Occup Environ Med. 2014 Aug 28. pii: oemed-2014-102348. doi: 10.1136/oemed-2014-102348. [Epub ahead of print].

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Top Five Reasons People See an Osteopath

reasons to see an osteopath back painYou might think that osteopaths are just for spines and knees and so forth but many people choose to consult an osteopath rather than their family physician for a range of health concerns. In fact, a new study carried out in Quebec, Canada, has found that musculoskeletal pain only accounts for 61.9% of consultations, so what are the other top reasons for people checking in with their osteo? Continue reading “Top Five Reasons People See an Osteopath” »

Spinal Stenosis in Dogs – Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

dog wheelchairHumans are not the only animals to suffer from spinal stenosis, dogs and other vertebrates can also develop this condition. Admittedly, the horizontal spine structure in dogs, and their lower life expectancy, does tend to protect them somewhat from spinal disc degeneration but certain breeds are more susceptible than others. Just as in humans, spinal stenosis in dogs can cause back pain, nerve damage, and even paralysis but there are ways to reduce your dog’s risk and to help relieve symptoms in those who already have the condition. Continue reading “Spinal Stenosis in Dogs – Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment” »

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Could Probiotics Help Relieve Arthritis Symptoms Like Back Pain?

gut health back pain probiotics for ankylosing spondylitis and rheumatoid arthritisThe health of the gut has a profound effect on overall health and well being but you might not have previously connected gut health and arthritis symptoms like back pain. In a new review researchers have looked at how gut microflora’s influence on our immune system may point to a novel way of preventing and treating arthritis. Could popping a probiotic help reduce back pain, with the only side effects being better all-round health? Continue reading “Could Probiotics Help Relieve Arthritis Symptoms Like Back Pain?” »

Low Back Pain Most Common Cause of Disability in the World

low back pain worldwide statisticsLow back pain is already the biggest cause of worldwide disability and with the world’s population getting older there is an increasing need to find better ways to improve back health and prevent pain from conditions such as spinal stenosis. Some 10% of people worldwide complain of low back pain, with those in Western Europe reporting the highest prevalence as here it affects around 15% of people. Regions of North America where average income was high had a relatively low prevalence of low back pain (7.7% for men and women), suggesting that economics influence pain. Continue reading “Low Back Pain Most Common Cause of Disability in the World” »

Back Pain Unaffected by the Weather, New Review Says

weather and back pain caduceus wind vaneIt’s commonly thought that the weather and joint pain are interconnected somehow, with people claiming to be able to predict storms based on their rheumatism. However, despite these beliefs being widespread, a new case-crossover study out of Australia has concluded that lower back pain isn’t affected by wind, rain, humidity or air pressure, so why do such beliefs persist? Continue reading “Back Pain Unaffected by the Weather, New Review Says” »

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Medicare’s Hospital Fines Could Improve Safety for Back Pain Patients

medicare fines for worst US hospitalsA stay in hospital is supposed to help restore us to health but for some patients it can have devastating consequences. Not only can routine surgery, such as common procedures for spinal stenosis, go wrong, hospital-acquired infections have become a major issue in the past few years, especially due to the rise of antibiotic-resistant organisms like methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Now, however, Medicare is rolling out a new system where the worst performing hospitals will be hit with big fines for infections and avoidable injuries. Continue reading “Medicare’s Hospital Fines Could Improve Safety for Back Pain Patients” »

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Hooked On Painkillers – How Some States in the US Are Overcoming Their Nasty Drug Habit

opioid painkiller overdose oxycodone side effectsChronic back pain can lead to chronic painkiller use but it appears that if you live in Alabama you’re more likely to be prescribed opioid drugs than if you live in a northern state. A new analysis carried out by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that for every 100 Americans there were 82.5 prescriptions written for opioid painkillers in 2012. In Alabama it was 143 scripts per 100 people. Why the disparity, and why should those with chronic back pain care? Continue reading “Hooked On Painkillers – How Some States in the US Are Overcoming Their Nasty Drug Habit” »