5 tricks to a healthy spine

Spine discomfort can be debilitating, and lead to limited mobility, among other lifestyle hurdles. Thankfully, Jason Voorhies, MD, PPG – Neurosurgery, has a handful of important pointers to keep your back in beautiful condition. 

Spine health is very important for maintaining an active lifestyle, and we all know an active lifestyle is critical for your general health.  As a Neurosurgeon, the most common surgeries I perform are neck and back operations. Many of these surgeries could be avoided by paying attention to these five key drivers of spine health.

5 trick to a healthy spine
  1. Sit up straight and mind the mechanics.  Maintaining a proper posture and body mechanics are essential for preserving the normal function of your spine. This takes time and discipline to develop, but will pay dividends later in life. Take the time to develop good habits when it comes to lifting, bending and twisting. Be sure to lift from the hips and the knees and avoid bending at the waist. 
     
  2. Watch your waistline.  Maintaining a healthy weight is also very important for your spine health.  The lumbar spine, especially, plays an important role is supporting your body weight.  Every 10 pounds over your ideal body weight, increases the stress on your vertebrae and increases risk of developing degenerative spine disease. In addition, excessive weight makes spine surgery riskier, and extreme obesity can make surgical correction of spine problems impossible.
     
  3. Get to the core.  Core body exercises to strengthen the abdominal and back muscles will lower your risk of needing spine surgery. These muscles work to stabilize the spine and reduce stress on the joints and disks of the spine.
     
  4. Put down that pack.  Smoking cessation is extremely important for your spine and general health. Many people don’t realize that tobacco products cause degenerative disk disease, which weakens the intervertebral disks and places you at risk of ruptured disks and pinched nerves.  For optimal spine health, smoking cessation is key. In addition, smoking causes poor spine healing after spine surgery, so not only does smoking increase your chances of needing spine surgery, it also increases your chances of having a failed spine surgery. 
     
  5. Stop by the gym.  Daily weight-bearing exercise is good for your general health and your spine.  In addition to the cardiovascular benefits, weight-bearing exercise strengthens your skeleton (including your spine) and can ward off age-related problems like osteoporosis. Short walks are sufficient for your spine health.

 

If you are experiencing trouble with your neck or back, discuss your concerns with your primary care physician or a physician with the Parkview Neurosurgery team. Most patients can find relief through physical therapy, activity modification or injections, though surgery is also necessary in some cases.

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