Pain, Pain Go Away: Living with Back Pain
Back pain—if you’ve never experienced it, you are lucky (and you are among the minority). Back pain is one of the most common medical complaints. About 1 out of every 4 adults experience back pain for at least 1 day in any 3-month period.
The three main causes of back pain are disease, (both hereditary and acquired), injury, and wear and tear.
Back pain can come on suddenly or build slowly over time. Your back pain may range from a constant, dull ache to a sudden, sharp pain. People who have jobs that require them to engage in heavy lifting, twisting, or pushing/ pulling movements are more likely to have back problems, as are those who are inactive. Being physically active builds strong back and abdominal muscles, which help support the spine.
Arthritis of the spine is by far the most common source of people’s back pain and affects the spine in many ways just like it affects any other joint. The cartilage on the joint surfaces thins allowing bone-on-bone contact that produces bone spurs and significant pain and the discs between the vertebrae collapse.
You can resolve most back problems with conservative therapies, such as medication for pain and inflammation, temporarily restricting your activities, physical therapy, exercise, or by using a lumbar support or brace. Some people who have chronic back problems find that chiropractic care helps. A chiropractor manipulates your spine to restore your ability to move. Acupuncture may also relieve back pain.
Medication along with either physical therapy or chiropractic treatment is the first-line of treatment. However, if that fails to provide adequate relief, spine injections are an option to address such pain. Injections in the spine are increasingly common and are referred to by many different names – pain shots, epidurals, nerve blocks, etc. Simply put, spine injections consist of a small amount of local anesthetic and steroid that are placed into a specific area of the spine under X-ray guidance to decrease inflammation around nerves in the spine. These injections are particularly helpful for patients with pinched nerves who have sciatica pain running down their legs.
Protect your back by exercising regularly to keep your muscles strong and to improve your balance and strength so you are less likely to fall. Eating a healthy diet and getting enough calcium and vitamin D may help prevent osteoporosis. Take precautions to protect your back when you engage in strenuous work or recreational activities.
Back problems can be extremely disabling. Help protect your back by exercising regularly to build strong back and abdominal muscles. Maintain a healthy weight to avoid placing excess stress on your back.
Join us at our upcoming Concerning Health Seminar to hear Dr. Stephens discuss lumbar spine injections as well as other features of the soon-to-open Spine Clinic at HCMC. Members of the Anesthesia team at HCMC will also be available at the event to answer any questions.
Presented by Kyle Stephens, DO, MDiv, of West Tennessee Bone & Joint
Friday, April 5, 2019
HCMC Classrooms 2 & 3
Lunch will be provided beginning at 11:30 am. Seating is limited, so you must RSVP at 731-644-3463 to reserve your spot, or register online at www.hcmc-tn.org.
A Prostate Screening Primer
Mention that prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer in men and that it’s easily screened for, and your husband’s eyes are likely to glaze over. Who has time for screens that aren’t connected to a digital cable sports network?
But you can boost your case for prostate screening by arming yourself with some facts about the tests. Although no major scientific or medical groups recommend routine testing, they do advise men to talk to their doctors about the benefits, risks and side effects of screening so they can make an informed decision. The American Cancer Society recommends that doctors offer prostate screening annually beginning at age 50 for men in good health with no major medical problems, and that annual testing begin at age 45 for those with extra risk factors.
The PSA test
The first type of test for prostate cancer is the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test. For most men, a normal PSA level is 4 nanograms/milliliter of blood; as the amount of PSA in the blood increases, so does the risk of having prostate cancer.
But conditions other than prostate cancer can boost PSA levels, so a high PSA warrants further testing to see if it actually indicates cancer. And doctors are also paying more attention to how much a man’s PSA levels rise from year to year. “There’s a significant number of men who [naturally] have PSAs that are high normal or slightly above normal,” says Dr. Joe Mobley, III, Urologist with KY Lake Urologic Associates. “If there’s much of a change in the baseline PSA number [from one year to the next], that can be a risk. It’s the [upward] trend that seems to be incredibly important.”
The DRE test
The other type of prostate screening, the digital rectal exam (DRE), is the part that men tend to dread most (perhaps because they haven’t spent years in the stirrups), but it’s a useful adjunct to the PSA blood test. During a DRE, the doctor inserts a gloved, lubricated finger into the rectum to feel for irregular or firm areas that could indicate cancer. Men may find the brief procedure uncomfortable, but they shouldn’t feel any pain.
“Some men may be reluctant [to be screened] because it involves a doctor’s office, a digital rectal exam, at times a referral to a urologist,” says Dr. Mobley. “But if prostate cancer is detected early on, there’s an excellent rate of survival. It can save lives and a lot of complications later on.”
High risk factors
Although every man faces the possibility of developing prostate cancer one day, the risk is higher for those who are:
- African American
- Older than 50
- Closely related (brother, son or father) to someone who had prostate cancer before age 65
Source: American Heart Association
Roasted Maple Pecan Pears
Pears are packed with antioxidants, fiber, vitamins and minerals.
4 medium firm pears, preferably Bosc
½ cup maple syrup
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ cup finely chopped pecans:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Quarter the pears length- wise, and remove the cores and stem ends. Arrange in a 9-by-9-inch nonstick baking pan. Combine syrup and cinnamon and drizzle over the pears, then scatter the pecans over the pears. Bake until the pears are tender but not overcooked, 25 to 30 minutes. Stir the mixture well about 15 minutes into the baking time. Makes 8 servings.