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Top 10 Worst Jobs for Your Back

The average American spends about 44 hours per week at work. If you work for 40 years, that equates to more than 90,000 hours of your life spent on the job. Whether you’re working moving up the corporate ladder or just trying doing what you can to pay the bills, the nature of your profession and the demands it places on your time both have a direct impact on your health.

When it comes to spine health, not every job is created equal. Some jobs are particularly “back-breaking,” while others are far gentler on your bones, joints and muscles. So what are the worst jobs for your back? Here’s our top 10, plus tips for making each one less of a pain.

  1. Parent

If you carry your child for any length of time during the day — and, if you have a baby or young children, there’s no doubt that you do — all that extra weight is putting additional strain on your back. Not to mention all the gear (toys, car seats, strollers, etc.) that goes along with being the parent of a young child. Even hauling a bulky diaper bag can take a toll on your back.

Tip: Consider a backpack diaper bag rather than an over-the-shoulder bag and invest in a wearable child carrier to help lighten the load.

  1. Factory Worker

Most factory and manufacturing work requires performing the same movements over and over again for a prolonged period of time. This causes muscle weakness and fatigue and can also lead to disorders as a result of the repetitive movement.

Tip: Take regular breaks to check your posture. Vary your tasks whenever you are able to help avoid muscle fatigue and injury.

  1. Auto Mechanic

Spending your day hunched over cars can easily cause pain or even injury. All the bending, twisting and arching motions you have to take to diagnose and fix automotive ills can put a significant strain on your back.

Tip: To prevent back injury from over-stretching your back, stand as close to the part of the car you’re working on at the time.

  1. Warehouse Worker

Anyone working in a warehouse likely has a physically demanding job involving lifting, pushing and pulling heavy loads. This type of activity puts warehouse workers at risk of a back injury.

Tip: If the load is too heavy to lift alone, always team lift, or use a cart or forklift.

  1. Dentist

Yes, even being a dentist can be bad for your back. Why? Dentists spent a great deal of their day bent over patients performing procedures for long periods of time. They also twist and bend their upper backs and necks reaching for dental tools.

Tip: Always us good lighting and magnification while working on patients to help keep your neck and spine in a neutral position. If possible, use chair arms to provide support while performing dental procedures.

  1. Manual Laborer

As expected, any manual labor typically involves lifting heavy loads, performing repetitive tasks and much bending and twisting. Manual labor could lead to a number of back problems, such as a herniated disc, which may even require back surgery.

Tip: Always wear a pair of supportive shoes and consider a back brace to help protect your back from injury due to excessive lifting and twisting.

  1. Office Worker

Sitting for long periods of time can be just as bad (or worse) for your back as a job that requires lifting heavy objects. Sitting all day leads to poor posture, neck pain and back pain.

Tip: Get up from your chair at least once every hour. Stretch. Take a walk around the office. Schedule walking meetings when possible. Consider working at a standing desk, as doing so will allow you to take the strain off your low back and work on your posture.

  1. Nurse

Caring for others in a hospital or doctor’s office requires long hours on your feet, bending to help with procedures, transferring patients and moving medical equipment. All of this could cause back pain or injury.

Tip: Take a break every hour or two to stretch your spine, roll your shoulders and stretch your hamstrings. If you have a moment to take for some quiet breathing, meditation or yoga, doing so can also help relieve the stress of your job.

  1. Construction Worker

Similar to manual labor, construction jobs can put a great deal of strain on your back as this type of work also involves long hours, heavy lifting, twisting and bending for long periods of time.

Tip: Ask for help when lifting anything over 50 pounds. Use carrying tools to get a solid grip on any odd-shaped loads. Take breaks to stretch and relax your back.

  1. Driver

Perhaps surprisingly, driving is the profession that a Houston back doctor consider most harmful to your back and neck. And we’re not just talking about truck drivers. Taxi drivers, rideshare drivers and anyone who commutes long distances are all at risk of experiencing back or neck problems from prolonged sitting.

Tip: Adjust your seat to a 100-degree angle to prevent slouching. Move your seat closer to the steering wheel so that you can keep your elbows and knees slightly bent. Never sit on your wallet and use a pillow or rolled towel at the small of your back for increased lumbar (lower back) support.

Is your back suffering because of your job? While many back conditions can be treated with non-invasive therapies, some injuries may require to be examined by a Houston back doctor. Don’t wait to get treatment. Contact a trusted Houston back doctor like Dr. Kushwaha today for a consultation.

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Houston back surgeon

Understanding the Differences Between a Torn Muscle and a Slipped Disc

Back pain is extremely common and can be blamed on a number of potential causes, including accident, injury, a spinal condition or muscle strain. In fact, muscle strains in the lower back are the most common causes of low back pain. Houston back surgeon Dr. Vivek Kushwaha gives his opinion about this matter.

A herniated disc, sometimes referred to as a “slipped disc,” typically occurs due to traumatic injury to the spine that causes a tear in the outer, fibrous ring of the intervertebral disc, allowing the soft, middle portion of the disc to bulge out. The protruding disc can put pressure on surrounding nerves, causing pain and other symptoms, including:

  • Weakness, numbness or tingling in the legs or arms
  • Shooting pain that radiates into the limbs
  • Pain when straightening the spine
  • Pain that does not subside
  • Nerve impairment resulting in bladder or bowel problems following the injury

A muscle strain is an overstretched or torn muscle that can occur from gradual use over time or from a sudden injury. The muscle strain causes inflammation in the soft tissues of the back, causing pain and/or muscle spasms. Although a muscle strain will heal with time, it can be debilitating and result in low back stiffness, weakness, restricted range of motion, inability to maintain normal posture and pain that typically lasts about two weeks.

Torn muscles in the back can easily be mistaken for something worse and have landed many patients in their local emergency room, although a muscle strain rarely requires medical intervention or back surgery from a Houston back surgeon. One spine condition that may be mistaken for muscle strain is a herniated disc, which is also a common back injury and often does require surgical intervention.

If you have back pain that persists for longer than two weeks, it may be time to consult with your doctor or a Houston back surgeon who can properly diagnose the cause of your pain and recommend the best course of treatment. If it is determined that your pain is caused by a torn muscle or sprain, bed rest and anti-inflammatory medications may be suggested. If you have a herniated disc, it may require back surgery. Lumbar discectomy and lumbar spinal fusion are two surgical procedures commonly used to treat a herniated disc in the spine.

During a lumbar discectomy, the herniated portion of the disc is removed. The goal of this procedure is to decrease pain and allow for better movement and function. Lumbar spinal fusion is used to combine two or more vertebrae in an effort to eliminate pain caused by the herniated disc.

Are you experiencing spine pain and unsure if it is caused by a torn muscle or herniated disc? Contact Houston back surgeon Dr. Vivek Kushwaha today for diagnosis and treatment of your back pain.

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orthopedic surgery

Top 5 Injuries That Lead to Orthopedic Surgery

If you suffer from back pain, you’re not alone. Chronic back pain is the most common type of chronic pain in the U.S. In most cases, back pain can be managed with non-surgical treatments, but for some people suffering from chronic back pain, surgery is the best option to get relief.

When is back surgery necessary? Spine surgery is only recommended if other back treatments have failed to ease the pain. Dr. Kushwaha, award-winning back surgeon in Houston, recommends a consult with an orthopedic surgeon if you have one of the following conditions:

  • A slipped disc that doesn’t heal on its own
  • A degenerative spinal condition that’s causing weakness
  • Numbness or weakness in your arms and/or legs
  • Difficulty walking or using your hands
  • Lost bladder or bowel control
  • High fever with back pain (spinal infection)
  • Broken or dislocated bone in your back
  • Spinal cord tumor

Back conditions that may require orthopedic surgery in Houston include:

Herniated, Bulging or Ruptured Disk

A slipped disc in the spine that puts pressure on the nerves in the spine, causing pain and numbness to travel down the back and through the arms or legs. A disc that is bulging or ruptured may also put pressure on a nerve.

If anti-inflammatory treatments do not help relieve pain associated with a herniated disc, spine surgery may be necessary. Dr. Kushwaha commonly treats herniated disc with one of two procedures: lumbar discectomy and lumbar spinal fusion. During lumbar discectomy, the herniated portion of an intervertebral disc, which is causing pain by bulging into the spinal cord or radiating nerves, is removed. Spinal fusion combines two or more vertebrae with the goal of eliminating the pain caused by abnormal motion of the vertebrae by immobilizing the vertebrae themselves.

Degenerative Disc Disease

If the discs between the vertebrae begin to break down due to degeneration, the damaged disc can cause inflammation and instability in the back, leading to pain, muscle spasms and sciatica (lower back pain that travels to the buttock, leg and foot).

Degenerative disc disease may be treated surgically with the lumbar spinal fusion technique, or extreme lateral interbody fusion, a surgical procedure in which the front part of the lumbar spine is fused from the side. Disc material is removed and a fusion graft is placed into the disc space. The graft is usually bone or a cage combined with bone.

Arthritis

Osteoarthritis is another common cause of lower back pain that leads to orthopedic surgery. Inflammation in the spine due to arthritis can lead to a narrowing of the space around the spinal cord, a condition called spinal stenosis. This condition puts pressure on the spinal cord and nerves within the spine, causing pain, numbness and muscle weakness. It commonly occurs in the neck and lower back.

When medication and other non-surgical treatments do not work, spine surgery may help. Osteoarthritis can be treated with a procedure called arthrodesis, the artificial induction of joint ossification between to bones.

Scoliosis

This condition is characterized by an abnormal curvature of the spine. With scoliosis, there may be a single curve to the left, like a letter C, or a single curve to the right, like a backward letter C. In some cases of scoliosis, the spine has two curves, giving it an S shape. Scoliosis can be very painful. Lumbar spinal fusion may be recommended to help straighten the spine and alleviate back pain associated with scoliosis. This procedure is used primarily to eliminate the pain caused by abnormal motion of the vertebrae by immobilizing the vertebrae themselves.

Sacroiliac Joint Pain

Sciatic pain that is not resolved with traditional treatments may actually be attributed to the sacroiliac joint. The SI joint is a large joint in the pelvis that connects the sacrum and the ilium of the pelvis. This joint bears weight on both sides of the pelvis and provides shock absorption for the spine. With age, stability in the SI joint can decline and the joint can degenerate, resulting in pain and stiffness in the lower back and lower limbs.

If conservative therapies for SI joint pain do not provide relief and improve symptoms, spinal surgery may be necessary. SI joint fusion can be used to stabilize the joint, minimizing movement and providing significant pain relief, particularly in the lower back and/or leg.

Whether you have suffered injury or trauma to your back or you have a back condition causing spinal pain, you don’t have to continue living in pain. Contact Dr. Kushwaha, award-winning back surgeon in Houston, today.

 

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orthopedic surgeon in Houston

How Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery Came To Be

In recent years, surgical techniques have seen major advancements in every surgical specialty, including spine surgery. Minimally invasive spine surgery options are made possible with the use of lasers, endoscopy and image guidance systems. Many orthopedic procedures that were traditionally performed as “open surgery,” with larger incisions and open exposure of the spine, can now be performed in a minimally invasive way.

What’s the Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery Procedure?

During open surgery, the muscle surrounding the spine is retracted to provide the surgeon a clear view of the area. This retraction can damage both muscle and surrounding soft tissue. During a minimally invasive spinal procedure, however, Dr. Kushwaha, orthopedic surgeon in Houston, utilizes fluoroscopy to display real-time X-ray images of the patient’s spine on a screen during surgery. An operating microscope is also used to magnify the view through the tubular retractor.

Patients in Houston overwhelmingly prefer minimally invasive surgery, as these techniques help shorten recovery times and are more cosmetically pleasing due to the smaller incisions involved. Typically speaking, minimally invasive surgical procedures carry fewer risks to the patient. Because minimally invasive procedures do not involve large incisions, they help avoid muscle damage, resulting in less pain after surgery (although some discomfort should be expected).

Some of the other benefits of minimally invasive spine surgery include:

  • Short skin incisions
  • Minimal tissue dissection
  • Decreased blood loss
  • Short operative times
  • Fewer complications
  • Lower risk of infections
  • Shortened hospital stay
  • Accelerated rehabilitation

As with traditional spinal surgery, minimally invasive procedures are generally only considered after nonsurgical treatments, such as medication or therapy, have failed to yield results for the patient. Your orthopedic surgeon in Houston recommends a minimally invasive spine surgery for common procedures such as lumbar decompression and spinal fusion.

If you are suffering from back pain, contact Dr. Kushwaha, a trusted orthopedic surgeon in Houston, for an appointment.

 

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What Happens if You Don’t Treat a Herniated Disc?

The spine is made up of small individual bones called vertebrae. Between each vertebra sits a small, flat, round disc made up of a soft jelly-like material surrounded by a tough outer layer. These spinal discs provide a cushion for the vertebrae, acting as shock absorbers for the spine.

 

If a disc slips out of place — a condition known as a herniated disc — it can put pressure on the spinal nerves, causing pain, numbness or weakness in the back as well as an arm or leg. Symptoms of a herniated disc may vary depending on its exact location. This common condition can be genetic. It may also be caused by excessive strain or injury. A herniated disc can even be the result of the natural degeneration we all experience as we age.

 

If you are suffering from pain in your neck, between your shoulder blades or radiating down your arms, you may have a herniated disc in your neck. Sciatic nerve pain, burning, tingling and numbness radiating from the buttock to the leg and into the foot, or pain that is more severe with standing, walking or sitting may be the result of a herniated disc in the lumbar spine. Any pain caused by a herniated disc can affect your ability to move and complete daily tasks.

Discomfort & Pain from Herniated Disc

While some minor discomfort or pain from a herniated disc may be managed with either over-the-counter pain relievers (such as an anti-inflammatory) or prescription medications (such as muscle relaxers), diagnosis and treatment from an orthopedic surgeon can restore your quality of life and help you get back to normal activities. In severe cases, people with a herniated disc may require surgery if more conservative treatments fail to improve their symptoms.

 

If allowed to go untreated, a herniated disc can worsen over time, leading to chronic pain and discomfort. The decision to treat a herniated disc is a personal one, but consulting with an experienced doctor providing herniated disc treatment in Houston can help you determine the treatment option that’s best for you.

 

Leading orthopedic surgeon Dr. Vivek Kushwaha offers patients with severe pain, numbness and weakness two primary options for herniated disc treatment in Houston. The first, lumbar discectomy, is a surgical procedure in which the herniated portion of the disc is removed. During the second procedure, spinal fusion, the disc is removed entirely, and a device may be placed between the vertebrae to maintain alignment and disc height. The surrounding vertebrae are then fixed in place with screws and/or wire.

If you are experiencing pain, numbness or weakness that may be caused by a herniated disc, schedule a consultation to get a diagnosis and discuss your treatment options with Houston orthopedic surgeon Dr. Kushwaha.

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Best Exercises for Kyphosis

Best Exercises for Kyphosis

Poor posture is common. We slouch at our desks or on the couch and aren’t necessarily aware of the damage we could be doing. Kyphosis, also known as “roundback” or — in severe cases — “hunchback,” is a common spinal disorder in which an excessive outward curvature of the spine causes an abnormal rounding in the upper back.

 

Kyphosis can affect anyone, regardless of age, but usually manifests during adolescence. Postural kyphosis, the most common type of the disorder, occurs when bones and muscles develop do not develop properly. Slouching or poor posture may exacerbate the condition.

 

In most cases, kyphosis does not require treatment, but, in some instances, a back brace may be needed to help improve posture. Kyphosis exercises can also help strengthen the spine, reducing the abnormal curve in the back. In severe cases, kyphosis can be painful. It can also result in significant deformity and may even make breathing difficult. In these rare but serious cases, the patient might require kyphosis treatment in Houston, such as surgery to reduce the curvature of the spine.

 

If you or your child has been diagnosed with kyphosis, there are exercises you can do to help improve posture and prevent permanent damage to the spine. Try these five kyphosis exercises to fix a hunchback.

 

  1. Chest stretch: Release the tightness in the chest and shoulders. Facing the wall, extend your right arm and place your hand against the wall. Keep your arm in line with your shoulder. Turn your body left and tilt forward until you feel the stretch in your chest and shoulder. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat with your left arm, this time turning your body to the right. Complete three sets on each side.

 

  1. Upper back foam rolling: Use this exercise to improve spine mobility and correct rounding in the shoulders. Lay on the floor with the foam roller across your spine, just below your shoulder blades. With your knees bent, feet firmly planted on the ground and hands placed behind your head, lift your hips off the ground, rolling forward (towards your feet) so that the roller travels slowly toward your neck. Then slowly roll back the other direction. If you feel areas of stiffness, stop and roll back and forth over the area for 10 to 15 seconds. Complete three sets. Some discomfort is normal at first, but over time you will notice your upper back mobility improving.

 

  1. Mirror image: Stand tall against a wall and tuck your chin in slightly, bringing your head directly in line with your shoulders. Focus on dropping your shoulder blades back and down. Hold this position for 30 seconds to one minute.

 

  1. Superman: This exercise will stretch and strengthen your core muscles and help you correct your posture. Lie on your stomach and extend your hands in front of your head. Maintain a neutral position with your head by looking toward the floor. Then gently lift your arms and legs toward the ceiling. You should feel as if your hands and feet are reaching away from your body. Hold for three seconds. Repeat 10 times.

 

  1. Close grip row: Strengthen your upper torso and shoulders with this exercise using a resistance band. Wrap the band around a stable object at chest level. Walk backward until you feel moderate tension in the band. Stand with your feet spread at shoulder width and extend your arms with a slight bend in your knees. Hold your head up, keep your shoulders back, your chest out, your abs tight and your back straight. Slowly pull the bands toward your sides while squeezing your shoulder blades together. Exercise resistance against the band until your arms are fully extended. Complete three sets of 15 repetitions.

In addition to incorporating these exercises into your daily routine, always be conscious of your posture — especially while sitting — and practice proper ergonomics when working at a computer.

If you think you may have kyphosis, experience pain in your upper back or have trouble breathing, contact Dr. Kushwaha for a consultation for kyphosis treatment in Houston.

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7 Tips to Travel Comfortably to Avoid Neck and Back Pain 

If you live with back or neck pain, even the thought of traveling may be daunting. Sitting in a vehicle, plane, bus or train seat for a long period of time can aggravate pain and discomfort, taking all the joy out of traveling.

Whether you’re planning a trip for work or for pleasure, these travel tips can help prevent back or neck pain while traveling.

Lift and Carry Luggage Carefully

Lifting heavy objects, such as luggage, without using proper form can cause back strain or even injury. Be sure to lift heavy bags slowly and carefully. Bend at the knees to ensure you’re using your leg muscles instead of your back muscles. Avoid twisting the lower back while lifting. When putting a bag in an overhead bin on an airplane, first lift the bag to the top of the seat, then in a separate motion, lift it into the bin.

Bring Your Own Back Support

Whether you’re traveling by plane, train or car, be sure to bring a lumbar support pillow or back roll to help prevent slouching and to keep your spine straight. A neck pillow may also help with neck pain and provide a more comfortable position to catch some sleep. If you don’t have a lumbar support pillow handy or you forget it, roll up a blanket or sweater and place it at the inward curve of your lower back to provide added support.

Take Care of Your Feet

Sometimes back problems actually originate in the feet. Wearing supportive footwear can help reduce stress on your back. It’s also important to be sure your feet are flat on the floor or a footrest to keep your knees at a right angle and avoid adding stress to your lower back during long trips. If you are driving, use cruise controls so you are able to keep your feet in a proper, supportive position.

Keep Your Posture in Check

The longer the trip, the more likely you are to begin slouching. Sitting for long periods of time puts enough stress on your back, without the added impact of poor posture. Keep your back aligned against the back of the seat with shoulders straight. Avoid hunching forward or slouching. Be sure the headrest of your seat supports the middle of your head and avoid using your phone or reading or other activities that might require you to tilt your head downward for a prolonged period of time.

Move Around as Much as Possible

If you’re on a long flight, bus or train ride, be sure to get up and move around as much as you are able. Locate an open space near the back of the plane, train or bus where you can do a few, light stretches to loosen tight muscles. If you’re driving, schedule frequent stops (at least every hour or more if needed) to get out of the car, move around and stretch. Any movement you can do on your trip helps stimulate blood flow to your lower back. While seated, adjust your position at least every 20 minutes. Flex your feet and ankles frequently to keep blood flowing and stretch your leg muscles.

Don’t Forget Your Pain Medication

If you take over-the-counter or prescription pain medication, be sure to pack it in your carry-on and have it with you at all times. Take your pain meds one hour before leaving on your trip so it’s already in your system and working.

Stay Relaxed

A long day of travel can get tense, especially if things don’t go as planned. Take time to focus on deep breathing to relax your muscles and nerves. Listen to soothing music or read a book or magazine that will help distract your mind from stress and any stiffness or pain you might be experiencing. Stay focused on your final destination and the scenery and activities you will enjoy once you arrive.

These tips can help reduce your back or neck pain while traveling and make your journey more enjoyable. If you suffer from chronic back pain, contact Houston’s back pain doctor, Dr. Vivek Kushwaha, today.

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Best Back Doctor in Houston

If you need back or spine surgery, you want the best back doctor in Houston caring for you. Dr. Vivek Kushwaha is certified by the American Board of Orthopedic Surgery, proficient in performing a variety of back and spine procedures and well known for helping patients who suffer from chronic pain, debilitating back injury and disabling back conditions. Dr. Kushwaha is the surgeon other doctors trust when their patients need the best back doctor in Houston.

For many years, Dr. Kushwaha has been treating patients in Houston who suffer from back pain or spine injuries. His extensive experience in complicated spine surgeries — including revision surgery as well as the latest techniques in kyphoplasty, disc replacement and minimally invasive spinal fusion — have earned him numerous accolades. He has been honored with the Memorial Hermann Hospital Award for “Most Efficient Surgeon,” and was commended as one of “America’s Top Physicians” by The Consumer Research Council of America.

Dr. Kushwaha was the first back doctor in Houston to perform the lumbar artificial disc replacement and the kyphoplasty procedure to treat hunchback. As a result of his pioneering efforts in spinal surgery, Dr. Kushwaha is a highly regarded figure whose expertise is frequently sought by members of the medical community. He has also served as a consultant for various companies including Medtronic, DePuy Synthes Spine, SeaSpine and SpineFrontier. However, it’s Dr. Kushwaha’s commitment to excellence in patient care that has earned him his reputation for being the best back doctor in Houston.

If you suffer from back pain related to an injury, arthritis, degenerative disc disease, a herniated disc, osteoporosis, scoliosis, spinal stenosis or a cyst, mass or tumor, turn to the best back doctor in Houston. You can trust Dr. Kushwaha. He has both the experience and the skills to treat the source of your pain and help you reclaim your quality of life.

Of course, the thought of undergoing back surgery can be frightening. However, whether the surgical solution for you involves spinal fusion, cervical disc replacement, fracture repair, SI joint fusion, regenerative cellular therapy or a minimally invasive spine procedure, you can rest assured that you’re in good hands with Dr. Kushwaha. He and his staff provide the very best care patients deserve — and should expect — from their back doctor. Contact the best back doctor in Houston to learn more about treatments and procedures he offers and to schedule your appointment today.

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Are Your Feet the Cause of Your Back Pain?

Back pain can result from a number of factors: poor posture, injury, excess weight, poor sleeping position or a spinal condition, to name a few. But have you ever stopped to consider that the cause of your back pain may be a problem with your feet?

You’ve heard the song. “The foot bone’s connected to the heel bone. Heel bone connected to the ankle bone. Ankle bone connected to the shin bone. Shin bone connected to the knee bone. Knee bone connected to the thigh bone. Thigh bone connected to the hip bone. Hip bone connected to the backbone,” and so on. But it’s true: From the tip of your toes to the top of your head, every bone in your body is connected. And your feet form the foundation of your entire musculoskeletal system.

In fact, each foot contains 26 bones. Together, both feet contain one-quarter of all the bones in your body. If one of those bones is injured, misaligned or otherwise compromised, it can have a ripple effect throughout the rest of your body — one you’re likely to feel in your back.

With every step you take, you put the force of as much as five times your body weight on each foot. The feet should act as shock absorbers for that pressure, but if that pressure isn’t distributed properly due to flat feet, improper footwear or another problem like inward pronation or outward supination, it can lead to pain in your back.

Excessive inward pronation causes the leg to turn inward, which then affects the knees, hips, lower back and your overall posture. If only one foot pronates (turns inward) while the other remains in a neutral position, the stress this misalignment places on your lower back can be even more severe. On the other hand, supination (a condition in which the feet roll outward) strains the outside of the leg and can also lead to problems in the hips and lower back.

You may be able to reduce the pain in your back, knees or hips caused to dysfunction in your feet by wearing proper footwear or orthotic insoles. When selecting new footwear, here are a few tips to remember.

  • Look for shoes that provide enough cushion to reduce the impact on your body that results from your foot striking the ground as you walk and run.
  • Avoid wearing high heels that are taller than two inches. Such heels can increase your risk of back pain and may impair your posture, leading to further injury.
  • Don’t spend too much time wearing flat shoes, such as flip-flops, thongs or sandals that do not provide sufficient arch support.
  • Get fitted for the right athletic shoe. If your shoe is too tight, oversized or not made to fit the pronation/supination of your foot and your walking gait, you may end up experiencing back pain.
  • Replace your shoes often. The soles and support insoles of your shoes wear down over time. When your shoes break down with age and use, they are no longer able to provide the necessary support for your feet and the rest of your body.
  • Consider being fitted for orthotic insoles to provide solid arch support and prevent pronation or supination.

In addition to not providing proper support for your feet, some medical issues that affect the foot may lead to back pain. These conditions include plantar fasciitis, bunions, Morton’s neuroma and metatarsalgia. If you have been diagnosed with any of these conditions, seeking treatment may help improve your lower back pain.

Finally, if you are experiencing pain in your feet, don’t hesitate to see your doctor before a problem that originates in your foot causes you more pain in your knees, hips and back.

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8 tips for managing back pain while traveling

Whether you’re traveling for work or pleasure, dealing with back pain while on the road or in the air an take the joy out of traveling. If you suffer from chronic back pain, here are some tips to help you manage your back pain while traveling.

 

Talk to your doctor and notify the airline.

While there is no guarantee, with a letter of medical necessity from your physician, the airline and flight crew may allow you special accommodations, such as upgraded seating, priority boarding and allowing you to get up and move about the airplane cabin as much as needed on long flights. Of course, safety is always the airlines’ top concern, but it can never hurt to ask. When you book your trip, contact the airline and inform them of your medical condition. As needed, you may be provided wheelchair assistance in the airport, as well as assistance with your baggage.

 

Schedule your travel strategically.

If you’re flying, schedule your trips for the least busy time of day to increase your chance of having extra room to stretch out on the flight. Call to schedule your flights by phone so an agent can provide insight and help you pick the flight that is least likely to be packed full. If possible, limit layover and connection times so you won’t be stuck sitting in an airport for hours. And if you do end up with a long layover, be sure to walk, stretch and then find a place where you can lie down on your back and rest.

 

Bring back support.

Whether you’re traveling by plane or car, be sure to bring a lumbar support pillow or back roll to help prevent slouching and keep your spine straight. A neck pillow may also help with neck pain and provide a more comfortable position to catch some sleep.

 

Don’t forget your pain meds.

If you take over-the-counter or prescription pain medication, be sure to pack it in your carry-on and have them with you at all times. Take your pain meds one hour before leaving on your trip so it’s already in your system and working.

 

Check your posture.

Long car and plane rides can no doubt be uncomfortable, and with airlines continually decreasing passenger space on the plane, you may find it difficult to ergonomically position your body to avoid pain. However, try to keep your feet flat on the floor with your knees at a 90-degree angle. If you have long legs, request an exit row for more leg room.

 

Move around.

As much as possible, get up and move around on long flights. Try to find an open space near the back of the plane where you can do a few light stretches to loosen tight muscles. If you’re taking a road trip, schedule frequent stops (at least every hour, or more if needed) to get out of the car, move around and stretch. Any movement you can do on your trip helps stimulate blood flow to your lower back. While seated, adjust your position at least every 20 minutes. Flex your feet and ankles frequently to keep blood flowing and stretch your leg muscles.

 

Use an ice pack.

Applying a cold pack to your back can help reduce inflammation that may be causing your pain. This is easier to do if you’re traveling by car rather than plane, though you may be able to ask the flight attendant to fill a small Ziploc bag with ice on your plane. Instant ice packs found at the pharmacy are another good option. Be sure to keep a protective layer of clothing or a towel between your skin and the cold pack.

 

Relax.

A long trip in the car or on a plane allows for plenty of time for you to focus on deep breathing to relax your muscles and nerves. Listen to soothing music or read a book or magazine that will help distract your mind from any stiffness or pain you might be experiencing. Stay focused on your final destination and the scenery and activities you will enjoy once you arrive.

If you suffer from chronic back pain, contact Houston’s experienced back pain doctor, Dr. Vivek Kushwaha, today.

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