Dr. Jeffrey I. Kennis,  D.C.
205 Commercial St.
Boston, MA 02109
NORTH END

( 617)720-2329


 

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Posts for: February, 2020

There are a wide variety of natural remedies to soothe your back, which can help reduce the intake of medications or provide an added benefit to your existing medical treatment.

Take a look at these natural pain-relieving strategies and find out what works best for you:

Read on to learn more about effective pain-relieving strategies for chronic back pain from natural methods.


1. Enjoy an anti-inflammatory drink every day

When you consume anti-inflammatory foods regularly, several antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and even anti-cancer agents can build up in your blood. Over a period of time, these potent agents can play a significant role in reducing and/or eliminating inflammatory reactions in the body.

Consuming these healthy drinks on a regular basis may help reduce your back pain.

  • Turmeric milk - Turmeric, an Asian spice, contains antioxidant, anti-arthritic, and anti-inflammatory properties. An easy method to consume turmeric is to mix a small quantity (1/2 teaspoon) of turmeric powder in a glass of warm milk. You can add honey or stevia to the milk if you prefer a sweet taste. Consume this drink, preferably just before bedtime to allow the anti-inflammatory process to work while you sleep. Consuming dairy products may increase inflammation in some people. In such cases, trying plant-based milk, such as almond milk can be helpful.
  • Tart cherry juice - Cherries are rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents. Cherry juice can help relieve muscle pain, which may be chronic or exercise-induced. Cherry juice is easily available to buy at grocery stores and commonly contains the tart cherry extract. Try drinking a glass of cherry juice on a daily basis and see if it has positive effects in relieving your back pain.
  • Ginger-green tea - You can also try infused-herbal drinks, such as ginger-green tea, which contains the pain-relieving benefits of both green tea and ginger. Ginger-green tea bags can be purchased from grocery stores and you can easily enjoy a cup either at work or at home. Over a period of time, these anti-inflammatory agents can build up in your bloodstream, so including these drinks in your daily diet will help reduce overall inflammation and prevent new inflammatory pain.

2. Fall asleep faster and sleep longer

When you have a restful night’s sleep, your back will feel less sore during the day. A night of restorative sleep can have healing benefits and make you feel refreshed, rejuvenated, and less stressed.

Try these natural sleep aids, one at a time, to see which one works best for you:

  • Vitamins C and B6 - The natural steroids in your body control your metabolism and promote good sleep. Supplements of vitamins C and B6 are known to help the body produce and regulate natural steroid hormones.
  • Melatonin - Your natural sleep hormone, melatonin can be taken as a supplement to improve your sleep cycle.
  • L-theanine - An amino acid found in tea leaves, L-theanine may help some people feel relaxed and get better sleep.
  • Valerian - Supplements made from the root of the valerian plant may help you sleep faster and stay asleep longer.

Another option is cherry juice or cherry extracts—cherries contain certain enzymes that help promote better sleep.


3. Avoid prolonged static posture

It is important to pay attention to the joints and muscles of your spine and hip. Prevent fatigue and stresses on these joints by following simple tips, such as:

  • Avoid excessive sitting - or consider using a standing desk while you work. When you sit for a long duration, the pressure on your spinal discs increase. Aim to get up every hour and walk a short distance to take the load off your discs.
  • Check your posture - and adjust your neck, shoulder, and back alignment to prevent stresses on your spine. Poor, unsupported posture can lead to several problems in your back, causing or increasing the pain.
  • Rotate activities - in order to avoid the same set of muscles and joints from getting over-fatigued. For example, if you have been standing and working for some time, consider changing to a different activity where you can sit down. You can go back to standing once the muscles and joints have had a chance to relax.

When you have a flare-up of symptoms, consider less exertive activities, such as reading a book, listening to music, or crafting. These activities can help divert your mind from the pain and let your back rest at the same time.


4. Gently stretch your joints and soft tissues through yoga

Yoga is an effective way to stretch your back, improve the health of muscles and joints, enhance distribution of healing nutrients through blood circulation, and increase the flexibility of the spine.

When you start, perform the stretches slowly and advance only if you feel comfortable without pain. Gradually, you will be able to add more stretches to your routine. An ideal time for yoga is early morning—to help loosen your spine and also reduce stiffness and aches in your back.


5. Try mindful meditation

Meditation is a great way to improve concentration, release feel-good hormones (endorphins), and decrease anxiety and stress. Through mindful meditation, you can control the way your body perceives pain

Find a quiet, dark room and meditate for 5 to 10 minutes in the morning. You can also try meditating before bedtime or while you take a break at work. If you don’t like to meditate, try simple breathing exercises—take 10 deep, slow breaths in a row.


6. Support your body in a warm pool

The buoyancy of the water lets you enjoy the benefits of exercise with less pain. Exercising in water also helps regulate the functioning of nerves and muscles, relieving pain.

If you prefer warmer pools, look into water exercise classes and hydrotherapy pools. Water therapy exercises are often done in water that is about 83 degrees to 88 degrees. Hydrotherapy pool temperatures are often more than 90 degrees.


7. Keep a self-activating heat patch handy

Heat patches that activate when in contact with the body are a great tool to carry during long drives or keep in your office desk/bedside table drawer. These heat patches activate quickly, can be worn inside your clothing, and provide a continuous supply of heat to relieve your back pain. Follow the package instructions and avoid wearing the patch for long durations to prevent skin damage. Some heat patches are also infused with medications for more effective pain relief.


How you set up and use your laptop can affect the amount of stress placed on your neck and back. Here are 10 ideas for keeping your spine pain-free while being productive on a laptop.


1. Take the laptop off your lap

Even though it’s called a laptop, you may not want to use it on top of your lap.

This position often requires you to slouch down and jut your head forward to see the screen, loading your cervical spine with dozens of extra pounds of pressure.1 If you do need to work without a desk—while on a train, for example—try propping the laptop on your computer bag or briefcase to elevate the screen.


2. Raise the screen higher

The ideal laptop height and angle lets you view the screen easily without bending or rotating your neck. Elevate the laptop a few inches above your desk, placing it on a stable support surface, such as a laptop stand or a stack of thick books. Your eyes should naturally hit the top third of your screen when you look straight ahead.


3. Use a separate keyboard and mouse or invest in a separate screen/monitor

When you work on a laptop for an extended period of time, it is recommended to do one of two things: 1) Use an external keyboard and mouse and properly position your laptop screen at eye level or 2) Use an external monitor at eye level and position your laptop keyboard at a height that allows your shoulders and arms to relax. Your elbows should be at a 90-degree angle, tucked close to your body, and your wrists should be in a neutral position when typing. This posture helps keep you from rounding your shoulders and pulling your neck muscles.


4. Upgrade screen size

While laptops are designed to be portable and easy-to-use, be sure that your laptop’s screen is big enough for your needs. A smaller screen may cause you to strain to see text and objects. If you find yourself hunching forward to read from your screen, you can also increase the font size.


5. Put your feet up

If you have to raise your chair to position your arms and wrists comfortably, check to see how your legs are angled. Your feet should be flat on the floor, and your knees should be at an even height with your hips. If your hips are too high or your feet don’t reach the floor, use a step or block to support the bottom of your feet. This can help you maintain a neutral lumbar spine and reduce strain on your lower back.


6. Find an ergonomic chair

The type of chair you sit in while using your laptop is critical. Any office chair that is fully adjustable and has lumbar support may work, but you need to be sure to set it up correctly. If your chair does not have adequate support, you may need a lumbar roll. Remember to sit all the way back in the chair so when you rest against it, the lumbar support is helping to maintain the natural curve in your lower back. As for your neck and head position, your ears should always be above your shoulders, not in front.


7. Take breaks

Set a reminder on your phone to take a brief break every half hour or so. Get your eyes off the screen and let them rest on something in the distance. You can do simple stretches at your desk, such as stretching your neck, shoulders, arms, and legs. Every hour, leave your desk to walk around to get your blood flowing and muscles loose. If it is not possible to walk, at least stand, stretch and move. Humans are mobile beings and not meant to sit still all day.


8. Stand up

For people who spend long hours working on laptops, try to spend an hour or two each day using your laptop while standing rather than sitting in a chair. You will need a separate keyboard and mouse and a multilevel setup to do this without straining your neck. Standing desks are popular options. Desktop converters enable you to keep your desk and temporarily convert it to a standup desk.


9. Travel light

If you typically lug your laptop between work and home, purchase a duplicate power cord and other laptop accessories—that way you can leave them in each place instead of carrying the extra load back and forth. You may also want to use a backpack with dual-padded shoulder straps to avoid draping the bag over just one shoulder. If your laptop and accessories feel too heavy, a roll-along carrier may be the best choice.


10. Consider a posture app

Turn technology in your favor by using your laptop to monitor your posture and give you helpful reminders. Many posture apps are available for Mac and PC that can perform various functions, including:

  • Use your laptop camera to monitor your posture and alert you when to sit up straighter.
  • Remind you when to take breaks.
  • Guide you through simple stretches and exercises at your desk.

Wearable devices are also available to measure your spinal posture and send the data to an app on your phone or tablet. While some people may find benefits from posture apps and wearable devices, it is important to note that some people may not and more research is needed to determine their effectiveness.

Pay attention to how you set up your laptop. Careful consideration goes a long way to easing and preventing back and neck pain.