Benefits of a Healthy Lifestyle
There are many benefits of having a healthy lifestyle, in terms of the health of your back. If your body is getting the right amount of nutrition and exercise, it will become more resistant to disease, and if your body is both flexible and strong, it will be more resistant to injury. Also, if your body is both flexible and strong, it will be more likely to heal faster following sprain and strain type injuries, and in the unlikely event of back surgery. Your back problem is unlikely to exist in a vacuum. What this last sentence means is the cause of your back pain will not be isolated to the specific site of injury or degenerated joint alone, but in the context of your overall physical makeup. Often, two patients with the same back problem - in the same disc, may have two entirely different treatment outcomes. For example, take two patients with herniated disc tears at the level of L4-L5. While both of these patients have the same type of back injury, one of these patients was a smoker while one wasn't. In typical cases such as this one, the patient who was the smoker will be more likely to have a more severe level of back pain than the patient who had a comparably healthy lifestyle. Also, the patient with a smoking history will also be less likely to respond to back pain treatments such as physical therapy, and the patient will be less likely to respond to more aggressive procedures such as pain injections and back surgery. Back surgery is unsuccessful often enough that they even have special names for it - including Failed Back Syndrome and Failed Back Surgery Syndrome. Patients who have poor lifestyle habits such as smoking, little physical exercise, and obesity are far more likely to have lower back pain, and to respond to treatments aimed at getting rid of it.
Clearly, there are many potential benefits of a healthy lifestyle. Let's take a look at some healthy lifestyle habits and what they can mean for your physical and mental health.
Stop Smoking: By this point (11/20/2012) everyone knows that smoking caused the deadly illnesses of lung disease and COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease). What not as many people known as the other damaging tolls that smoking has on the body. Smoking affects the entire cardiovascular system, especially the ability of the blood vessels to carry oxygen to the body's tissues. The muscles and soft tissues, which support the joints of your back, are in a constant need for vital oxygen supplies to maintain the health of your back. These tissues will be at an increased need for oxygen nutrients from the blood vessels when the structures in the back become injured. Because of the diminished functioning of the blood vessels due to smoking, back injuries will be more likely to occur in the first place and less likely to heal in a timely manner when they do become injured. For those with back pain who do want to quit smoking, here are some ways to give up this unhealthy habit.
Zyban and Chantix: Anti-smoking Medications - While some people who wish to quit smoking are successful at going about it cold-turkey style, most will require some type of smoking cessation program in order to give up the habit for good. Zyban and Chantix are two commonly prescribed prescription medications that are thought to work by reducing the nicotine cravings while patients slowly wean themselves off of cigarettes. Zyban and bubpropion are two medications that do not contain nicotine themselves, but they affect the brains ability to ward off the cravings of cigarette smoke and its active addictive ingredient - Nicotine. These medications may be taken alone or may be complemented another popular smoking cessation treatment - nicotine replacement therapy. Chantix directly targets the nicotine receptors in the brain. Chantix affects these nicotine receptors by reducing the pleasurable response of nicotine and reduces the unpleasant symptoms of nicotine withdrawal.
Exercise: Exercise is important to your overall health and physical condition, as well as the health and maintenance of your back. The muscles of your back are important for not only the movements of the spine, but also for its stability. When one or muscle groups responsible for the stability of the spine becomes weak, the results could be back pain or injury. Here are some exercises that have been specifically designed to build strength to the core muscles - particularly those interior core muscles that support your spine.
Back Strengthening Exercises: Back strengthening exercises are designed to increase strength of not only your back muscles and abdominal muscles, but also those of your hip muscles and gluteus (buttocks). Two of the most common back strengthening programs are dynamic Lumbar Stabilization and McKenzie exercises. These exercises can easily be done at home and with simple gym equipment, though people should first perform them under a physical therapist's instruction so that they learn how to perform the exercises correctly.