Newsletter Archives > Monthly Health Newsletter: December 2012 Health Newsletter

December 2012 Health Newsletter

Current Articles

» The STYD Syndrome
» Steroid Shots Do Little to Improve Sciatica
» World Diabetes at Record Levels, But Half Are Undiagnosed
» Injuries Increasing for Kids Using Bounce Houses
» American Diets Vary Widely, Many Fall Short of Guidelines

The STYD Syndrome

Spine Lines

December, 2012

So what is the mysterious "STYD" syndrome? 

You've probably heard the phrase, or even used it yourself: Shop Till You Drop!

I usually see it as a person coming into the office with low back ache, stiffness and pain following holiday shopping outings.  And after a description of the aches and pain comes the phrase: "But all I did was go shopping!" 

It does seem a bit surprising that an episode of low back problems could be triggered by something as simple as shopping.  There are, however, some very common activities involved in Christmas holiday shopping that add up to significant stress and strain on the lower (and sometimes upper) back. 

One is the length of time involved.  Holiday shopping outings are usually quite a bit longer than the typical shopping trip.  This may be due to the extra time it takes to get there because of the added traffic, the sometimes lengthy search for a parking spot, a longer walk than usual from that spot to the destination as well as the walking to find the items one is looking for.  

Another may be the number of such shopping trips. Rather than just the usual occasional one these outings they may be much more numerous this time of the year. 

These factors as well as the usually crowded and hectic atmosphere both outside and inside the stores, the difficulty in finding a particular gift that you were sure would be readily available and the unexpected need to find an alternate gift can all add up to an unusually lengthy shopping trip as well as one that is filled with stress!  A very common bodily response to stress is to tighten muscles, especially those that have been the focus of problems in the past.

O.K. So you are finally in the mall or store and have started your serious shopping.  Here's where the additional strain to the lower back comes in.  The problem is the repeated "walk/stop and look/bend and twist/carry" motion.  Very few of us do that on a regular basis so when it is done in a suddenly concentrated form it is a surprise to the muscles of the back. Think of how your low back would feel if you repeated those movements during a walk around the block.  It would actually be less irritating to your back if you actually did go for one of your regular walks. 

But we are not quite finished yet.  You still have to carry all those packages back to your car (let's see now, where did I finally park......?), load them into the car (more bending/twisting/lifting) and then drive home.  By that time you are really tired and you "slouch" in your seat as you drive - more low back stress!

I didn't even go with you and I'm getting that familiar "STYD" knot in my lower back and that feeling of tightness in my neck that I know is going to creep up into my forehead and result in a holiday headache if I'm not careful! 

So what's a serious shopper to do? 

  • Stretch - that's right, stretch your lower back and legs before you leave the house and when you return home.
  • Wear comfortable, supportive shoes - the same shoes you would wear if you were going for a walk or exercising.
  • Take walks while shopping - that's right - walk at a brisk pace for a while but do not shop while doing so! 
  • Make several trips to the car to drop off packages - don't wait until you are so burdened with packages that you can hardly make it to the car. 
  • Relax while driving home - turn off the radio, be conscious of how you are sitting, take your time.

Janet, Marilyn and I wish you a peaceful holiday shopping season and a Merry Christmas!   

Next month's newsletter will answer the question: "Why is my back always so stiff and sore in the morning?"

Author: Ted Johnson, D.C.
Source: Office Experience
Copyright: Ted Johnson, D.C. 2012

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Steroid Shots Do Little to Improve Sciatica

A recent Australian medical study found that spinal injections of corticosteroids had no measurable effect on sciatica pain. Sciatica is a common symptom that consists of leg pain caused by nerve irritation or impingement of the spinal nerve roots of the lower back and/or the sciatic nerve itself. In randomized controlled trials, researchers found little difference in the relief offered by the injections and a placebo. After analyzing results from nearly two dozen clinical trials involving thousands of sciatica patients, they concluded that the shots did little to help. Despite this, in recent years the use of epidural steroid injections to treat back pain has soared from 741,000 in 2000 to approximately 1,438,000 in 2004. In the U.S., corticosteroid shots are expensive, often costing hundreds of dollars per shot. Recently, a tainted supply of a steroid included in the trials was tied to a nationwide outbreak of fungal meningitis that infected 400 people and led to 31 deaths. The researchers concluded that sciatica patients should consult with their physician and consider alternate forms of treatment, including chiropractic care and only in extreme cases, surgery.

Source: Annals of Internal Medicine, online November 13, 2012.
Copyright: LLC 2012

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World Diabetes at Record Levels, But Half Are Undiagnosed

A new report published by the International Diabetes Federation puts the worldwide number of people living with diabetes at 371 million, up from 366 million a year ago. The IDF estimates that of that number, 187 million people do not yet know they are suffering from the condition. Limited access to healthcare in developing nations often means the disease goes undiagnosed. While often viewed as primarily a Western problem, diabetes is spreading rapidly in poorer countries; four out of five diabetics now live in low and middle-income countries. Treatment of diabetes in these countries is often more difficult, especially when it comes to insulin, which requires refrigeration to prevent deterioration. The report projects that over 552 million people will have developed diabetes by 2030. Untreated, the disease can lead to serious complications, including blindness, nerve and kidney damage. Worldwide, over 4.8 million people a year die from diabetes, making it one of a number of health conditions, including cancer, cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, that healthcare campaigners want included in the next set of global development goals.

Source: Reuters. November 14, 2012.
Copyright: LLC 2012

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Injuries Increasing for Kids Using Bounce Houses

Experts recently reported that the number of children in the US injured while using inflatable bounce houses has increased to 15 times 1995 levels. The study, published in the journal Pediatrics, found that there are now approximately five injuries annually per 100,000 children. While the bounce-related injuries are much lower than trampoline injuries, the researchers point out that the study allows parents to make informed decisions. The number of kids being brought into emergency rooms for bounce-related accidents increased from 702 in 1995 to 11,311 children in 2010. The rise in the rate of injuries was attributed both to an increase in the use of the inflatable toys and better reporting of mishaps. Injuries reported included, broken bones, sprains, contusions, cuts and bruises. Researchers suggest parents follow simple guidelines when children use bounce houses to minimize risk, including limiting use to children 6 years old and older, limiting the number of children using them to at one time and only allowing use with adult supervision.

Source: Pediatrics, online November 26, 2012.
Copyright: LLC 2012

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American Diets Vary Widely, Many Fall Short of Guidelines

A new survey of 8,272 Americans’ eating habits, unsurprisingly confirms that many in the US fall short of nutritional recommendations. The study, conducted by the USDA's Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, compared what people said they ate to nutritional guidelines published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The study’s authors found that children and the elderly generally ate a healthier diet than younger and middle aged adults, and that women ate better than men. Differences were also noted along racial lines, with Hispanics generally enjoying higher-quality diets than blacks or whites. Similarly, income appeared to play a factor, as higher income adults generally met more of the guidelines. No group, however, came close to meeting all of the recommendations. In recent years, the American diet has come under close scrutiny, due to an explosion in the public rates of obesity, diabetes and heart-disease. The researchers suggest Americans eat more fruits and vegetables and increase their levels of physical exercise.

Source: Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, online November 19, 2012.
Copyright: LLC 2012

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