Back care, teeth cleaning, similarities?
So I’m sure you are wondering how back care can be similar to the daily ritual we all indulge in – cleaning our teeth! Twice a day, for at least two minutes, most of us will stand at the bathroom sink and clean our teeth to the best of our abilities. The dedicated among us may even floss and use mouth washes, increasing the time spent. Why do we take the time out of our busy mornings and weary evenings to do this? Prevention – prevention of damage to our teeth (sweeter breath is also an added bonus!). We have our teeth for the rest of our adult lives and we want to preserve them in the best condition we can in order to avoid unnecessary treatment and cost later on. However friendly and pleasant our dentists are, I don’t know of many people who would count dental treatment as something to look forward to!
So let’s think a minute about our backs. When I say back, I mean the whole vertebral column from top to bottom, along with all the other structures attached to it and through it. How is it similar to our teeth and how do our attitudes to it differ? Well we all have a spine and our back stays with us throughout our adult life, just like our teeth (apart from the odd one or two, hopefully!!). It can cause us pain just the same as toothache can be a problem. It is a remarkable structure which enables us to live a full, active life but when it goes wrong it can reduce us to a shadow of our former self or just cause a nagging pain in the background that we live with but know is there. Some people suffer toothache at various stages of their life, the numbers of people suffering some sort of back pain increases day by day.
Talking with GP’s and other health professionals I’m aware many patients demand an instant fix to their back pain. We live in a fast paced world so why can’t back pain be ‘sorted’ by a tablet or a quick trip to the physiotherapist or chiropractor? Surely someone else needs to do something to take away the pain? We have enough things to think about in our daily lives! We don’t have time to do preventative work on our backs!
Just imagine, however, if we went to our dentist with tooth ache having never cleaned our teeth since the last appointment!
This blog is about suggestions of what you can do. It’s talks about taking responsibility for a small amount of preventative back care that we can all do in common with cleaning our teeth. It will also give some ideas for ‘quick fixes’ which have the potential to help. Over 25 years, however, I have come to learn that there are limited quick fixes for the majority of serious whole back issues. A well placed tweak or adjustment by a knowledgeable practitioner can sort out a mechanical problem so the client walks away finding instant relief – but do they return with other problems or the same one in the future needing further treatment? Medication has its place in emergency treatment but do we need to live with masking the pain or treating the inflammation that sets up in the body? What happens when we are on holiday or away from our trusty ‘fixer’ of our back (doctor, physiotherapist, chiropractor…..)?
“I don’t have time to do daily back care!” Well that depends on where you are coming from. Is your pain affecting your daily life? Do you have to take time off work or not do the things you want to do with family and friends because of it? Do you have time to suffer? Only you can answer those questions.
“I don’t know what to do, there are so many suggestions, treatments, theory’s out there – where do I start!” Yes, that’s very true. I have found over two and a half decades many treatments for back and neck problems. Some work for a time, some don’t in any way. Read on through the coming weeks and I hope to be able to give you some effective suggestions which you can use as you get to know your own back and any problems associated with it. This is about you learning about your own individual back. We are all made slightly differently and you can become more aware of your body. Self awareness will help you in your quest to reduce your pain.
“I’m in pain now – help!” This blog aims to help you work out what hurts, give you gentle movements you can do to try to ease pain and give you suggestions to reduce further stress on painful areas – stick with me!
I will write about some quick and easy suggestions to try to reduce or eliminate your pain which can be one-off actions. It’s not all about routine. If you persevere however, you may well be rewarded for your efforts and feel inspired by the changes that occur to put in the small amount of effort required regularly! Small but powerful modifications to how we sit, stand, drive, walk etc. will also be discussed so we can make it through the day with the best chance of taking care of our back. We can also learn from great works that have been done and I will point you to those as well. Questions will be posed as well as answers given, hopefully looking at things a little differently along the way. I hope my experiences can point the way to a clearer, more direct path to significant pain reduction along with providing an alternative to the traditional (or not so traditional!) treatments for back pain.
I look forward to an honest debate on back care in the UK and elsewhere. Included in that debate should be a look at the role that patients and doctors can play together in forming effective tailor made back care treatments (see the post ‘Teaching Doctors?’). Medical science has moved on to discover the advantages of targeted individual treatments in dealing with a number of health issues. Lets include back care in that! In doing so maybe we can reverse the trends of Increasing amount of time spent away from work, with that cost being met by companies and society in general and the large amounts of money increasingly spent by the NHS and privately on back issues. These are all powerful motivators in trying to sort out back issues (see the post ‘Research?’) but ultimately as we all know life has a better quality out of pain!
I hope this has given you a flavour of what is to come. Sit, lie, stand (whichever is most comfortable!) and enjoy the journey as you and your back become acquainted! Oh and keep cleaning those teeth!
(Sarah does not have a medical background so it is emphasised that her blog is the result of her experiences and listening to others only. Before doing any of the suggestions contained in her blog, check with your doctor if you have any concerns on how they may affect you)