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Tips from a Spine Surgeon to Avoid Neck and Back Pain

By Nima Salari, MD

I have the privilege to see, evaluate, and treat patients from all walks of life. Despite the difference in sex, age, and every category imaginable, they all present with similar questions and concerns. Why do I hurt? What is the cause of the pain? How can I alleviate it? How can I prevent it?

I try to spend as much time with my patients to answer these questions. The reasons for the pain can be related to a multitude of sources. The treatments can vary just as much and we make every effort to customize our treatment plan to the individual patient.

Some answers remain universal, however. Those answers relate to steps patients can take on their own to either prevent neck and back pain or help improve their symptoms.

I have taken the time to scour through YouTube so that my patients don’t have to. Below, I have listed the top tips with the corresponding best quality video with appropriate content. As a general disclaimer, I have not reviewed the entire content by the individual or individuals and I always recommend that you discuss what you see with your provider. I also do not have a personal or financial relationship with any of the content creators. I am simply trying to put together helpful tips for my patients in one easy to access location.

Sleep well:

There are multiple longitudinal and population-based studies that demonstrate the importance of sleep. It is a topic that is outside my level of expertise, but I can personally emphasize the benefits of restful sleeping as it relates to lowering stress levels, helping boost the immune response, and more on topic: reduce incidence of neck and lower back pain. This video is one of the better ones I have come across with 5 very solid tips for better sleep.

Consider your diet:

I am not a nutritionist and certainly not a source to turn to for diet recommendations. There is research that suggests at minimum introducing some alternatives into our western diets. Furthermore, reducing simple sugars and artificial sweeteners may lend to an improvement in the body’s ability to reduce inflammation. This video shares some healthy alternatives to consider.

Proper lifting technique:

This adorable video is an excellent demonstration of how appropriate lifting technique should be applied compared to poor form. Indeed, excellent lifting technique comes naturally to children as they learn to walk and balance during their early development. They bend at the hips and knees and lower their center of gravity for better balance.

Another major tip to keep in mind is to engage your core and try not to over arch your lower back. The best way I have heard it described is to imagine you are bringing in your belly button towards your spine and tightening your lower abdomen.

Stretch and exercise routine:

Muscles and tendons are the dynamic stabilizers of the spine, while the bone structures, intervertebral discs, and ligaments constitute the static stabilizers. That means that the muscles help support and mobilize the spine. Muscle imbalance, that being tight or weak muscles, can place extra strain on the lower back and neck. A strong and flexible core can help reduce pain in the back.

The following videos are suggestions for exercises to consider implementing into your daily routine. They are solid demonstrations of how to perform the activities safely. And the best part, you will not need any extra equipment and can do them in the comfort of your own home, on a business trip, or your next vacation.

I hope the tips above have been helpful to you. If so, make sure to share them with your friends and family so that they may benefit as well.

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