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Working Remotely? Try this to Subdue Back Injuries

The benefits of working from home are endless — from saying goodbye to your daily commute to the office, sending emails in your pajamas, and having a constant supply of snacks. Yet, the downside of working remotely is that you have most likely set up your workstation at the dining table, kitchen counter, lounge chair, or spread across your bed. Wherever you find yourself working on your device, you may notice an increase of aches and pains that come with no longer sitting at an ergonomic computer workstation. If you are experiencing a few sores and twinges, or if you want to prevent musculoskeletal injury, our tips can help you with pain relief so you can continue to work comfortably from home and potentially avoid the need for back surgery.

View Your Computer with a Straight Neck

Ensure that your screen sits in front of you at a comfortable height. Avoid the need to bend over and look down at your laptop or phone as this can put a strain on your neck and back. Also, try not to angle your screen off to the side where you would need to constantly twist your neck as you work. If you have a separate keyboard and computer monitor, then you can prop up your screen to eye level using a pile of books or a box.

Read Paper Documents in a Vertical Holder

If you need to read paper documents or are using an iPad for work, then consider using a vertical holder or put your tablet on a stand. This action will prevent your head from moving up and down between a flat document on the table and looking up at your computer screen.

Move Around Every Hour

We know that it can be easy to become absorbed in your work, but it is important that you take breaks to move your body or stretch every hour, which will help with back pain relief. You can lay flat on the floor with your legs up at a 90-degree angle to stretch your back muscles, run up and down some stairs, or stretch your arms overhead and to your sides. You should also try taking walks throughout the day, as this is a great low impact way to move your entire body.

Avoid Working on the Sofa

Rather than using your couch as your work area, save it for the times when you want to relax and take a break. Your posture will suffer if you sit on the couch for prolonged periods of time and you will be less likely to move around. Instead, find a comfortable chair where you will have good posture and a straight back. If you need extra support, you can try rolling up a towel and placing it horizontally in the small of your lower back.

Invest in an Office Chair

If working remotely is going to be a long-term prospect then consider investing in a proper office chair that works for your setup. The ideal chair is one with adjustable features such as seat height and arm, backrest, and lumbar support. Various chairs that could work include an affordable office mesh computer design that is easy to assemble and has built-in lumbar support, the Alera Elusion Series with a shallow seat depth that is ideal for multiple people, or the Herman Miller Aeron Task Chair with back support that mimics your posture when you stand and will recline so you can stretch out.

If you are experiencing significant back pain, please contact Dr. Vivek P. Kushwaha, an orthopedic surgeon in Houston for a consultation.

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Ways You Can Prevent Lower Back Pain in Your Day-to-Day Life

Combating lower back pain is something that many people have to deal with regularly. A simple task such as standing up or walking could be a daily struggle in the lives of those who suffer from this type of pain. Thankfully, there are many steps that you can take in preventing lower back pain without the need for back surgery. Here are a few examples.

Incorporate Exercise into Your Daily Routine

There are tremendous benefits of setting aside time each day to workout. For example, numerous exercises will help you to strengthen the muscles in and around your back and your core, which can help to offset the pain you currently feel. You should also try to incorporate stretching exercises into your routine so that you never feel tense after a hard workout, which could put you in more pain. A good rule of thumb is if you are new to the world of exercise, you should schedule a time to meet with a personal trainer to ensure that you don’t hurt yourself more.

Avoid Sitting for Long Periods

When you are in pain, it’s understandable that you may not feel inclined to move around that much. The reality, however, is that when you sit for extended periods, you may be doing more harm than good. You should try to make it a point to get up every half hour or so and take a few steps. Even just walking around your office could go a long way to avoid your back feeling stiff or painful. If you do need to sit, you should always ensure that you do without slouching to prevent excess stress on your back and spine.

Be Conscious of Everyday Activities

A day can rarely go by where you would not have to bend over or lift something. Even if you are working in an office, you may still need to turn to answer a phone or pick up a piece of paper that dropped on the floor. While it’s advisable to avoid any twisting or turning motions as much as possible, try to be conscious of doing so in a way that will not further aggravate your injury. If you need to bend over or pick something up, do so slowly and carefully. As soon as you feel any pain, you should stop performing the task. Remember, there is no embarrassment in asking another person for help when you need it.

Schedule an Appointment Today

As a trusted orthopedic surgeon in Houston, Dr. Kushwaha and his team dedicate themselves to doing everything they can to help relieve your back pain. Whether you are trying to assess a current back injury or if you need surgery, our staff will put together a comprehensive treatment and recovery plan for you that will get you back up and active as soon as possible. Please contact us today for more information.

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Most Common Sports-Related Back Injuries

Regardless of your preferred sport, an injury to any part of your body can be devastating. A back-related injury can not only cause you significant pain but could also potentially end your sports career goals. At times, athletes may feel as though they can play through the pain by merely pushing themselves harder. Although some sports-related back injuries can heal just by taking some time off, it’s always vital that you see a back doctor in Houston if you think that you are suffering from any of these potentially serious conditions.

Sciatica

Sciatica is particularly painful and uncomfortable. People who are highly susceptible to suffering from sciatica include golf and tennis players because they use the majority of the muscles in their back to execute a perfect swing.

The symptoms associated with sciatica include pain and numbness not only in your back but down your legs and sometimes into your feet. While it’s true that rest and stretching exercises can help to ease the pain of sciatica, there is always a possibility that you cause yourself more damage if you don’t see a doctor.

Lumbar Sprain

Lumbar sprains usually occur if an athlete is trying to implement a lifting technique improperly. For example, it’s not uncommon for a person who is trying to perform a deadlift exercise in the gym to suffer from a lumbar sprain if their form is not correct. In the sports world, gymnasts and cheerleaders tend to suffer from this type of injury due to their constant turns and extensions. In many cases, a person can recover from a lumbar sprain using anti-inflammatory medication; however, you should always visit a doctor to discuss a treatment plan.

Warning Signs of Serious Injuries

It’s important to remember that you should never take sports-related back injuries lightly. Although you may not feel severe pain at the moment you sustain your injury, you should reach out to a doctor right away if you continuously feel worse. For instance, if the pain in your back affects your balance or the way that you walk, or you notice a radiating pain in your legs, it’s imperative that you contact a doctor as soon as possible. Additionally, pain in your back should never last for more than two months. If you find that you are still struggling with persistent pain, we strongly encourage you to reach out to our office to discuss the source of your discomfort.

We Can Help You Recover from Sports-Related Back Injuries

As a leading orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Kushwaha and his staff go to great lengths to formulate a treatment plan that will help each patient to recover from sports-related back injuries. Dr. Kushwaha takes the time to learn more about what caused the injury and what you are feeling to ensure that you receive the most benefits in your care and more importantly, provide you with a better quality of life without intense back pain. To schedule an appointment, please contact us today.

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Types of Vacation Activities That Can Cause Back Pain to Flare Up

When you’re away on vacation, the last thing you want is to spend your time managing back pain. Whether you’ve recently had back surgery or suffer from a chronic condition, it is important to be aware of certain activities which can cause your back pain to flare up. Before you go ahead and book an activity (especially if it requires a deposit), consider our list of top vacation activities that can aggravate back injuries.

Riding a Four-Wheeler

The most common injury from riding an ATV is chronic lumbosacral strain, caused by bad posture as you lean over to reach the handlebars. Because most bikes are made to fit the average person, being too big or small within these measurements can put a strain on your back. Remember that the longer you ride, the more likely that you will end up with back pain. If you douse a four-wheeler on vacation, ensure that a medical professional clears you to do so and try to only go for a short ride.

Parasailing

You may think that being suspended up in the air while you parasail is a low impact activity and won’t cause you back pain. However, it is usually the take-off and landing which can cause injury. Any wrong landing can cause serious damage, and if you already have a back injury, then it may not be worth the risk. Most adventure companies also discourage parasailing if you have a back injury.

Boating in Choppy Water

Whether you want to go fishing or take a boat tour, ending up in rough and choppy waters can take a toll on your back. Unless you are familiar with listening to your body and reducing the risk of re-injuring your back — such as bending your knees to absorb some of the shock — you may be better off viewing the water from the shoreline. Boating can also require long periods of sitting or standing, which can cause your back muscles to ache. If you do go on a boat, be sure to change positions frequently.

Horseback Riding

If you are carrying tension in your body while horseback riding, it can cause you to absorb the motion of the horse in your lower back. The movement of your spine should be soft and undulating to prevent strain and muscle pain in your back.

Hiking

While walking is a good activity to engage in that can even help with back pain relief, be mindful of your pace, technique, and the proper terrain. Going on a strenuous hike through the woods or up a mountain may not be the best idea while on vacation, but with a comfortable pair of shoes, you could opt for a nice stroll on a sidewalk — just be sure not to overdo it.

Playing Non-Contact Sports

Golf and tennis can be fun to play casually with friends and family, yet both can put a strain on your lower back. The twisting of your upper body as you wind up for a golf swing creates tension between the upper and lower back, which can cause muscle strains or tweak an old injury.

If you suffer from back pain or would like to learn more information, contact Dr. Vivek Kushwaha, an orthopedic surgeon in Houston for professional advice.

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Vivek P. Kushwaha, M.D. Orthopaedic Spine Surgeon

When Should You See A Specialist For Your Hurting Back?

Back pain can often be debilitating, especially if you don’t seek the appropriate treatment when you first start experiencing severe pain. There are various methods of treatment for back pain, and you’ll be pleased to learn that not all of them involve undergoing major surgery.

  • Signs that lead up to back problems

It is vital that you are mindful of your body and that you look out for signs that indicate you may experience back problems down the line. It’s not necessary to make an appointment to see a back doctor every time you experience back pain unless the pain has become unbearable or is recurrent. If you have been experiencing either radiating or sharp pain, you may have nerve damage or problems with internal organs in your side or back. Another warning sign is numbness in your groin or your legs suddenly becoming weak – these could indicate nerve or spine damage, and you should make time to see a doctor to have your symptoms checked.

  • How long have you been experiencing discomfort?

As you get older, you may notice that your back tends to get hurt more easily. Most conditions related to age do not require surgery but are still incredibly painful. Degenerative disc disease can often develop as you age, causing lower back pain as a result of lumbar arthritis. This degeneration is not something that happens overnight, so if you have been experiencing any form of heightened discomfort, you should consider seeing a back doctor, even if it’s just to rule out anything serious. Dr. Kushwaha is an experienced orthopedic surgeon in Houston who will be able to assist you with any questions related to your back pain.

  • Questions to ask your specialist

There are several important questions that you should ask your specialist before treatment commences, as well as during your treatment if it is an ongoing process. Firstly, you need to find out what is causing your back pain, and if your discomfort is a result of an injury or a more serious condition. You should also ask your back doctor what is likely to worsen your pain and what you can do to prevent this. One of the most vital questions to ask is what options are available to you for treatment and whether or not you will need surgery. You should also find out what risks and benefits are involved in your specific treatment for back pain. Consider how your lifestyle and work affect your back and speak to your orthopedic surgeon in Houston about how you could change or improve anything that could negatively impact your back’s health.

If you have been suffering from severe back pain, perhaps it is time for you to make contact with Dr. Vivek Kushwaha, a renowned and highly-experienced orthopedic surgeon in Houston. He is certified by the American Board of Orthopedic Surgery and will work closely with you to find a treatment for back pain that is best suited to your unique situation.

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Signs That You Could Be Developing Arthritis

Do you wake up in the morning and experience swelling, stiffness or pain in any of your joints? Do you also find that you are not able to move as easily or freely as usual because your joints are too stiff or swollen? If this pain or stiffness gets worse when you are less active, or if it lasts an hour or more once you’ve woken up, you should be aware that these are some of the signs of arthritis. This joint disease could affect just one of your joints or several.

  • Joint pain

Arthritis is one of the most common causes of joint pain. There are two main types of arthritis, namely rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is mostly age-related, and symptoms will generally start to appear between the ages of 40 and 45. This form of arthritis develops as a result of the breakdown of cartilage between joints, which means that there is no longer any form of cushioning between the bones. This breakdown often leads to one or more of the signs of arthritis mentioned above, becoming prevalent in your hips, knees, hands or wrists, as these are the joints most affected by this type of arthritis.

  • Joint movement

You’ll find joints in your body wherever two bones meet, such as your fingers, toes, hips, or elbows. When you consult with an orthopedic surgeon, they’ll advise you that keeping active is vital to maintain healthy joints. Arthritis can occasionally lead to a severely limited range of motion because your joints become so stiff, swollen, and painful that you may begin avoiding physical activity. It is far better to arrange for arthritis treatment in Houston early on, rather than waiting until you have become physically incapacitated when there may be fewer treatments available to you that don’t involve surgery.

  • What to do when you feel the symptoms

If you have begun to experience any signs of arthritis regularly, it’s advisable for you to make an appointment to see an orthopedic surgeon. Your joints have become inflamed because your body is reacting to some form of injury or disease. There are instances where arthritis can lead to painful and permanent disability, so it is far better to seek arthritis treatment in Houston before it’s too late. You will have access to a range of treatment options, depending on the severity of your arthritis.

  • Options to help with arthritis

There may come a time when treatments such as splints or pain medication are no longer sufficient in dealing with your arthritis. At this stage, you may want to consider arthrodesis. Arthrodesis is a surgical procedure where joint ossification between two bones is artificially induced and is most often performed on joints in the hand, ankle, foot or spine.

Dr. Vivek Kushwaha is a renowned and highly-experienced orthopedic surgeon who is certified by the American Board of Orthopedic Surgery. If you need arthritis treatment in Houston, you should make an appointment to see Dr. Kushwaha – the sooner you can begin with the treatment, the sooner you’ll start feeling relief from the painful symptoms of arthritis.

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How Long After Spine Surgery Can You Drive (and Other Activities)

If you are about to have or have recently had spine surgery, you are probably anxious to know when you’ll be able to return to your normal activities. Driving after spine surgery is often one of the things that patients are the most concerned with in terms of getting back to their regular routines. The short answer is that you can drive when you feel up to it, when you are no longer taking narcotic pain medications, and when your Houston spine surgeon gives you the okay. The long answer is a tad more complicated, as everyone’s recovery is unique. Here is a little information to help you know what to expect and how to make your recovery as easy as possible. 

Typical Turnaround Time on Recovery

The length of time it will take you to recover from spine surgery entirely depends on many factors, such as the type of surgery you had, your body’s natural healing abilities, the severity of your symptoms before surgery, and how carefully you adhere to your post-op instructions. 

In years past, spine surgery was dreaded for its tendency to leave patients with as much pain as it helped, with real benefits relatively rare. Today, however, our ability to diagnose and treat back pain and spine conditions has improved dramatically. Modern techniques allow patients to get back to their jobs and daily activities quite reliably. Even patients who have major spine surgery are usually able to return to work and remain active for years after surgery. 

Precautions to Take

After your spine surgery, your orthopedic surgeon in Houston will provide you with post-op recovery instructions to help you heal as quickly and thoroughly as possible. In general, there are a few precautions that you can take to ensure that you give yourself the best odds of healing altogether and help minimize discomfort along the way. 

  • Watch for signs of infection. Keep in mind that infection is a possibility with any surgery. Keep an eye out for signs of infection, such as fever or swelling. Minimize the chances of infection by keeping the incision site clean and taking your medications as prescribed. 
  • Participate in physical therapy. If your Houston spine surgeon recommends physical therapy, be sure to follow through. Physical therapy can help you learn to do the things you enjoy safely without pain, such as driving after spine surgery. 
  • Move regularly. It can be tempting to spend much time resting after surgery, and you should. However, it’s also essential to move. Movement keeps your blood circulating efficiently and helps your body heal more quickly. 
  • Don’t overdo it. While you should be getting some regular exercise (as recommended by your doctor), it’s important not to do too much too soon. Follow recovery instructions carefully, avoiding activities that are prohibited while you’re healing. 
  • Don’t bend or lift. Following most spine surgeries, you shouldn’t bend at the waist or lift anything weighing more than ten pounds. If you must bend, bend at the knees, and only to pick up very light objects. 

If you are looking for an orthopedic surgeon in Houston, contact Dr. Kushwaha today.

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Common Problems that Lead to the Need for Spine Surgery

Back pain and injuries are widespread, and the right treatment depends on a great many factors. Spine surgery should be a last resort after more conservative therapies in most cases. However, prevention is always the best cure. Here are a few common issues that lead to people having spine surgeries – and they’re mostly preventable. 

Your Posture

There’s more to your posture or the way you hold your body as you stand, sit, or lie down than how it looks. Standing up straight may make you appear taller and slimmer, but the best reasons to pay attention to your posture have nothing to do with your image. There’s a clear relationship between good posture and spinal health. Poor posture can have adverse long-term effects on your spine, making it much more likely that you’ll need surgery in the future. Whether you spend your days on your feet or in a chair, it’s essential to adopt good posture habits and avoid back or neck pain. Remember to move around regularly, to use ergonomic furniture when possible, to remain aware of your posture throughout the day, and to address any pain promptly by resting and if the discomfort doesn’t go away within a few days of rest, getting medical attention. 

How You Sleep

Your posture doesn’t only matter when you’re on the go. While you sleep, the muscles and ligaments in your back rest and heal. Good posture at night is vital to protect your back. The right mattress is one of the most critical things that you need to maintain good back health. Everyone is different, though; the right mattress for you is the one that allows you to wake up feeling rested and pain-free.

Similarly, you need a good pillow that provides natural head and neck support. You can sleep in a variety of positions, but try to keep your hips, shoulders, and ears aligned. You can use pillows to achieve better alignment, such as placing a pillow under your stomach and pelvis and using a flat pillow if you like to sleep face down. 

Car Accidents

While you may sustain almost any type of injury during a motor vehicle accident, the most severe ones often relate to the spine. Spinal injuries are also some of the most common injuries in serious car accidents. Some different types include:

  • Whiplash. Most people tend to think that whiplash is a neck injury, which is true, but it also affects the spine. Some whiplash victims experience multiple spinal injuries, which can complicate the injuries they sustain. Whiplash can also become chronic, leading to a lifetime of physical and emotional distress. 
  • Ruptured and herniated disc injuries. Your spine comprises several vertebrae, which protect your spinal column. The jelly-filled discs in-between keep these vertebrae from rubbing together. The trauma of a car accident can cause the discs to rupture or shift. Sometimes, conservative treatments can correct the problem, but surgery is indicated in more severe cases. 
  • Facet joint injuries. Your joints allow you to twist, bend, and move in various ways. Facet joints, found in the spine, function as hinges between the vertebrae. Unfortunately, these joints are easily injured in auto accidents. People with these injuries may need a range of treatments, including physical therapy, chiropractic care, facet injections, or spine surgery. 

If you are experiencing back or neck pain, or have any questions about spine conditions that may lead to the need for surgery, feel free to contact us for a consultation.

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What Causes Sciatic Nerve Pain?

“Oh! My sciatica!”

Played for laughs in TV comedies, complaints about sciatica often go hand in hand with a dramatic grab towards the lower back — but the very real pain sciatica sufferers experience is no laughing matter. Named after the sciatic nerve, this painful condition has many possible causes and refers broadly to any discomfort or pain caused by the nerve.

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What Is the Cure to Disc Degenerative Disease?

Almost everyone’s spine will show signs of wear and tear as they age. However, not everyone will end up with degenerative disc disease. Degenerative disc disease is not a disease per sè but rather a condition in which a disc is damaged and causing pain. Degenerative disc disease symptoms and severity vary widely among people with this condition.

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