August 2010    

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After Hours
With the school year quickly approaching, parents are beginning to prepare their children for their first days of school by loading up their backpacks with all the back-to-school necessities. If you're like us, you are remembering the days when your backpack weighed just as much as you did!
As an adult, your back might not be as healthy as the kid you once were. Now is a great time to think about ways to improve your overall back health. Read on to learn more about preventing back pain and the new Spine Care program at St. Francis.
Get Your Back in Shape! 
It can happen to anyone. You bend over to pick up a heavy box or a crying child and the next thing you know you are slumped over and reaching for your back. Back pain is one of the most common complaints for adults, with roughly 80% having experienced some sort of back pain in their life. Back problems can make activities such as sports, gardening, playing with your children or grandchildren, and even the ability to get dressed unbearably painful.
"Almost everything you do requires the use of your back," says Dr. Stephen Keiser, Primary Care Sports Medicine physician with Sports & Exercise Medicine Center. "The most common cause of back pain is a muscle strain or other soft tissue damage, which can be caused by an accident, a sudden awkward movement, a sports injury, or improper or heavy lifting. However, most injuries occur over a period of time as a result of an assortment of factors - such as your weight, level of activity, and body mechanics."
Strong Backs, Healthy Backs
Add more benefits of regular activity to the already lengthy list: exercise can decrease back pain, help speed recovery from back pain faster, and help prevent injuries. A complete exercise program that includes aerobic activity, stretching, and strength training can strengthen your core and decrease the risk of injury. 
Remember, consult your primary care physician before beginning any exercise routine, especially if you currently have back pain.
Preventing Back Pain
If you don't currently suffer from back pain, keep in mind that they way you position your body during everyday activities can have a tremendous impact on your back. Simple activities like sleeping, driving, and using the computer can eventually cause back pain if your back lacks support during these activities. Here are some tips to prevent back pain in your every day life:
  • Consider purchasing a firm mattress or an orthopedically-designed box spring and mattress for better back support.
  • Sleep on your back or side, not your stomach.
  • Stretch in the morning to warm and limber your back, even before you get out of the bed.
  • While driving, bring your seat close enough to the steering wheel to minimize your reach and bending.
  • Place a small pillow or rolled towel behind your lower back while sitting or driving for long periods of time.
  • When sitting for work, especially if using a computer, make sure that your chair has a straight back with an adjustable seat and back, armrests, and a swivel seat. A footrest that allows for your knees to be higher than your hips will help you maintain the proper position.
  • Avoid sitting or standing for long periods of time.
  • If an object is too heavy or awkward, get help.
  • When picking up a heavy object, bend at your knees and not your waist and lift using your leg muscles.
New Spine Care Program at St. Francis

If you are among the growing number of people coping with debilitating spine problems, St. Francis Spine Care can help. This program combines preoperative education for patients and their families, outstanding patient care, and specialized therapy in an environment created to enhance faster healing and recovery.
Modeled after St. Francis' award-winning Joint Camp program, the Spine Care program is specially designed for patients having procedures such as spinal fusion, laminectomy, kyphoplasty, decompression surgery, discectomy, surgery for sciatica, scoliosis and more.
Spine Care patients attend a "Prehab" class before surgery and are given a comprehensive patient guide  to learn details of what to expect before, during and after surgery.
The program also includes physical therapy programs developed specifically for patients with spine surgery, and nurses and other care providers go through special training about caring for spine surgery patients.
St. Francis' Spine Care program has been named a Blue Cross Blue Shield Center of Excellence and is fully equipped for all types of spine surgeries.
Find out more about Spine Care at St. Francis. 

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