Lower Back Pain

Originally published
Originally published: 9/1/2008

Gauging Your Health 

Lower back pain is one of the most common health complaints we hear about today. Our overweight posture combined with excessive lifestyles and faulty mechanics in activities predispose us to muscular injury.

The pain can come on spontaneously from the most ordinary circumstances (bending over) or from a traumatic event or overuse (the constant bending, crouching and lifting required in the hvacr field). Additionally, there are other causes such as ailments relating to the gastrointestinal, urinary, prostate and reproductive track that must be ruled out.

Anti-inflammatory medications, in concert with therapeutic exercises can provide relief.

What should you do if you have low back pain?


• If you stand in the same place for a long time, rest one foot on a low stool.

• Keep good posture by standing with your head up, shoulders straight, chest forward, weight balanced evenly on both feet, and hips tucked in.


• Make sure your chair has good lower back support. The back of the chair should be curved to give support where the small of the back meets the chair.

• Keep your knees a little higher than your hips by using a foot rest or stool.

• Don’t twist at the waist while sitting. Instead, turn your whole body.


• Sleep on your side with your knees bent. You can also put a pillow between your knees.

• Try not to sleep on your stomach.

• If you sleep on your back, put pillows under your knees and a small pillow under the small of your back.

Lifting objects

• Before you lift a heavy object, get a firm footing. Bend your knees to lower yourself to the level of the object, keeping your lower back straight. Tighten your stomach muscles and lift the object using your leg muscles. Don’t jerk the object up to your body. Never bend from the waist with your knees straight.

• If you are lifting an object from a table, slide it to the edge of the table so that you can hold it close to your body. Bend your knees so that you are close to the object. Use your legs to lift the object and come to a standing position.

• Avoid lifting heavy objects above waist level.

• Hold packages close to your body with your arms bent.

Source: The Cleveland Clinic Foundation.

The New England Journal Of Medicine reports the average doctor’s appointment lasts less than 22 minutes. An American Medical Association report sites patients changing health insurance providers as a reason few have the same ‘family doctor’ watching over them year after year. It’s becoming the patient’s responsibility to keep an eye on their own changing health, guide their doctors, and do their own “preventive maintenance.”

“Your car has dashboard warning lights to alert you that the oil is low, or you’re out of gas,” says Dr. Anthony Martin, author of the new book, “Medical Crisis: Secrets your doctor
won’t share with you,” (available at “The body has those same warning signals. You just have to know how to read them.”

Here are Dr. Martin’s four warning signs to find out if you are on the path to cancer, stroke or other illnesses:

1) Energy. “If you’ve been tired for three weeks straight, your body is trying to tell you something is wrong.” Long-term fatigue is tied to red blood cells. Red blood cell problems can lead to liver, kidney or brain trouble.

Check yourself: Ask your doctor for a simple blood test.

2) PH Balance. 70% of the human body is water. Water, like in your swimming pool, is either acidic or alkaline. An unbalanced PH (Potential Hydrogen) is a breeding ground for cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and pre-mature aging.

Check yourself: Ask your doctor for a saliva test.

3) Free Radicals. The body produces free radicals as a process of detoxifying itself. When balanced, they are used by the immune system to destroy bacteria and viruses. Unbalanced free radicals can lead to cancer, coronary heart disease, stroke, arthritis or Alzheimer’s.

Check yourself: Ask your doctor for a urine test.

4) Inflammation. You need cells to ‘puff up’ to stop bleeding—but too much can strangle the arteries and cause coronary heart disease. Fat cells are a side effect of obesity. Too many fat cells or cells that are too ‘puffy’ can lead to asthma, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Check yourself: Ask your doctor for a blood test.

To keep your knees and hands free of arthritis, here’s what you should have before each meal: a small salad.

Why? Because the vitamin K in leafy greens — think cabbage, spinach, and Swiss chard, for starters — could help reduce your risk of joint damage. Just one word of caution: If you’re on blood thinners, check with your doctor about appropriate vitamin K intake.

Source: RealAge Inc.

Alan is an orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine physician affiliated with The Cleveland Clinic Foundation. He is a member of the National Board of Medical Examiners, American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, and the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society. 

Pamela is a practicing dermatologist at MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland, Ohio, and is an assistant professor at Case Western Reserve University. She is a member of the American Board of Internal Medicine as well as the American Board of Dermatology and is a member of the American College of Sports Medicine. 



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