Newsletter Archives > Monthly Health Newsletter: February 2013 Health Newsletter

February 2013 Health Newsletter

Current Articles

» The STYD Syndrome
» Baby Boomer’s Back Pain and Costs Increasing
» Lumbar Surgery Less Likely For Chiropractic Patients
» Baby Boomers in Poorer Health than Previous Generation
» Yoga May Improve Common Heart Ailment

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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Baby Boomer’s Back Pain and Costs Increasing

As the generation known as the 'Baby Boomers' ages, it comes as no surprise that their back pain is increasing. What is surprising is the increased cost of treating that pain. A wide-scope study, recently published in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, determined that the occurrence of back pain in patients aged 45 - 60 increased by 29 percent. Patients whose back pain was described as chronic increased by 64 percent. This increase in back pain in both patient groups was attributed to simple aging. However, the inflation-adjusted costs to treat these patients soared 129 percent, from $15.6 billion in 2000 to 2001 to $35.7 billion in 2006 to 2007. The researchers concluded that the rising trends in back pain and treatment cost will only continue or accelerate under existing treatment patterns. Suggested improvements included prioritizing health policy, clinical practice, and research efforts to improve care outcomes, cost-effectiveness and health workforce planning. Fortunately, chiropractic care has been shown to be a cost effective option when treating back pain. If you are suffering from back pain or another musculoskeletal ailment, call your local chiropractor today. Setting up a no-obligation consultation is usually quick, easy and is often provided at little to no cost.

Source: JMPT. Volume 36, Issue 1, Pages 2-11, January 2013.
Copyright: LLC 2013

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Lumbar Surgery Less Likely For Chiropractic Patients

A new study, recently published in the medical journal Spine, found that patients who seek chiropractic care for back pain are far less likely to undergo lumbar surgery than those who consult a surgeon. The study found that approximately 43 percent of patients who saw a surgeon first when seeking treatment for back pain ended up having surgery, as opposed to 1.5 percent of patients who first saw a chiropractor. These findings support the long held position that many health care providers subscribe to that attempting to treat back pain should start with conservative approaches, such as chiropractic care. The study pointed out that the treatments were often more beneficial to patients and far more cost-effective. As musculoskeletal conditions and low-back pain have been identified as the second leading cause of disability worldwide, it has become a top priority to health care experts to create effective and affordable strategies to deal with the rising burden of non-fatal disabilities. "As governments and health systems around the globe search for answers to complicated health challenges such as rising numbers of chronically ill and disabled patients and runaway costs, research is finally demonstrating what the chiropractic profession has promoted for years: that caring for patients with conservative treatments first, before moving on to less conservative options or unnecessary drugs and surgery, is a sensible and cost-effective strategy," said American Chiropractic Association President Keith Overland, DC.

Source: Spine. December 12, 2012.
Copyright: LLC 2013

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Baby Boomers in Poorer Health than Previous Generation

A new comparison study finds members of the Baby Boomer generation are getting less exercise and feeling worse than their parents did when at the same age. Baby boomers are generally defined as the generation born in the two decades after World War Two. Demographically, they are the largest portion of the American public by age group. In a national survey, approximately 13 percent of baby boomers reported being in "excellent" health in middle age, compared to 32 percent of the previous generation who said the same at the same stage of life. The study, conducted at the West Virginia University School of Medicine, used data from a continuing national health survey to compare the answers of people who were 46 to 64 years old between 1988 and 1994, and the baby boomers who were in the same age range between 2007 and 2010. The researchers noted a 10 percent increase in obesity between the generations and a four percent increase in diabetes. The baby boomers were also more likely to have high cholesterol and high blood pressure. More surprisingly, the researchers noted that twice as many boomers needed a cane or walker to remain mobile, compared to the previous generation. A bright spot for the baby boomers was their decrease in smoking, which led to a decline in emphysema and other smoking-related illnesses. However, the researchers were quick to point out that the majority of baby boomers needed to exercise more and eat healthier to avoid further health complications.

Source: JAMA Internal Medicine, online February 4, 2013.
Copyright: LLC 2013

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Yoga May Improve Common Heart Ailment

The University of Kansas Medical Center recently reported that regular yoga classes appeared to decrease occurrences of a common heart condition known as atrial fibrillation in patients, as well as decreasing stress and improving their overall well-being. Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a condition in which the heart's upper chambers quiver chaotically instead of contracting normally. The attacks are painful and often prevent the patients from enjoying regular activities. People with AF are often prescribed drugs such as beta blockers to help control their heart rate and rhythm, but the medicines don't alleviate symptoms for all patients. The American Heart Association estimates that about 2.7 million people in the U.S. have the heart condition. The new study included 49 people who'd had atrial fibrillation for an average of five years. Researchers began by tracking study volunteers' heart symptoms, blood pressure and heart rate, as well as their anxiety, depression and general quality of life. The participants then went to group yoga classes at least twice a week for three months, again reporting on their symptoms and quality of life. All of the patients were on stable medications throughout the study period. The patients reported a 50 percent drop of AF occurrences, which was also confirmed by heart monitors. Anxiety scores declined from an average of 34, on a scale of 20 to 80, to 25 after three months of yoga. Reported depression and general mental health improved as well. The researchers pointed out that the classes may make their arrhythmia "more tolerable" and reduce visits to the emergency room when symptoms flare up. However, the classes were not suggested as an alternative to regular medical care.

Source: J Am Coll Cardiol. 2013. doi:10.1016/j.jacc.2012.11.060
Copyright: LLC 2013

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