Topics in Back Care

The human spine is supported by many different types of soft tissues that allow for both movement and are designed to protect its stability. When the spine itself sustains damage or wear and tear, we may experience discomfort or back pain when the spinal nerves are affected. There are also many things that could happen to the soft tissues that support the spine and facilitate movement, such as the muscles, joints, ligaments, and tendons. When injuries do occur to these structures, many of these structures have the capacity to heal on their own, while the degenerative changes to other structures may be irreversible. The first goal of any person who wishes to live a long and pain free life should be a good back care program that stress healthy exercise, the maintenance of the strength of the core muscles, and a healthy diet. For others who have chronic back pain, many must commit to an exercise and healthy lifestyle that minimizes back discomfort. For those people suffering from chronic back pain, many have disc problems and arthritic changes to the spinal joints that will never fully heal, making the proposition of a complete cure unlikely. Yet even those people with irreversible changes to their joints tissues may lead a life of minimal discomfort and pain cycles. For many of these people, there are things they can use around their homes to minimize the amount of stress put on the joints of their spine. There are also exercises, medications, and natural treatments to manage and minimize pain when back pain does occur.

Let's take a look at some interesting topics in back care.
Back Belts: due to situations such as obesity, spinal deformities, muscle weakness, and other factors, many people's spines become destabilized to the point that a person experiences back pain. To try to stabilize the spine and offer support for it, there are various types of products that can be purchased retail or custom made to try to add stability to the spine, especially in the lumbar area (lower back). Today, there are several types of back belts available to stabilize the spine throughout the day, and when people take on increased lifting or carrying workloads in gyms and occupational tasks. Back belts, or lumbar support belts, are worn near the wait or just a little higher on the lower back to provide additional support for your lumbar spine. Back belts may be specifically designed for weight lifting, for use in occupational jobs that require a lot of lifting, and for some people who have certain back conditions. Some back belts are designed for temporary use while patients are performing medical rehabilitation therapy exercises. Back belts for commercial use have become very popular for employees in vocations that require regular heavy lifting, moving company workers, warehouse workers, and stock boys are retail and grocery stores.

What are the physical and clinical benefits of using back belts? The theory behind using these types of belts is that they stiffen the spine and hold it in its proper position while you are performing certain types of movements, life lifting and carrying heavy objects. These belts reduce forces on the spine, or they may increase intra-abdominal pressure.

Do back belts reduce the risk of injury in heavy manual labor workers who use these types of belts? In other words, do workers who use these belts have a lower incidence of injury than those who don't? Does the clinical research support that fact that back belts actually increase intra-abdominal pressure and reduce forces on the spine as heavy labor is occurring. Do these back products actually prevent ergonomic injuries? Actually, all the research out there so far refutes the clinical claims that these belts help to protect the spine, and some studies indicate that the use of these belts while lifting may actually increase rates of injury. (See "Back Belts - So They Prevent Injury" in a Center for Disease Control Article).

Spinal Decompression Therapy: The theory behind spinal decompression therapy is that the treatment may be able to reverse some of the effects of spinal compression that occur the spine becomes compressed downwards, due to the forces of gravity. As we sit, stand, and walk upright, our spine becomes compressed downwards. Pressures on the spine occur during our waking existence, and eventually the discs of our body age when they become worn out on the inside or the outside. Today, there are commercial products that doctors and chiropractors used in their clinics to decompress the spine, while others are available for home use. The idea behind these types of therapies is to gently pull the patient's upper and lower body in two different directions, to increase the spaces between the vertebral bones. By increasing these spaces between the spinal bones, the discs in these areas become depressurized, giving them a chance to heal themselves and regenerate while the treatments are taking place.