Group Says Most Back, Neck Problems Can Be Resolved Without Surgery
Back and neck pain are two of the most common musculoskeletal issues experience by employees in the United States. However, according to one expert, these conditions don't necessarily need to lead to costly surgery.
"Although more than 75 percent of Americans will experience some back pain during their lifetime, about 90 percent of cases are resolved without surgery," said John K. Ratliffa, a spine surgeon based in Philadelphia, and spokesman for the American Association of Neurological Surgeons.
According to the group, nonsurgical treatment options include physical therapy, weight reduction, steroid injections (epidural steroids), nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications, rehabilitation, and limiting activity. These treatment options relieve the inflammation and strengthen the back.
Ratliffa said employees can prevent low back pain and protect their spines. He recommended individuals:
- Maintain a healthy weight and don't smoke. Smoking and extra weight can not only damage the spine but are factors that can negatively impact spinal surgery if that is necessary, he said.
- Focus on posture. Maintaining proper posture while sitting, standing and walking is essential to preventing low back pain.
- Use proper lifting techniques. It is important to bend your knees when picking up and lowering an object. In addition, Ratliffa said employees should keep a straight back and not twist. Do not lift objects that are too heavy. If you need help to lift something, ask coworkers for help.
- Perform exercises that stretch and strengthen the muscles of the abdomen and spine. Strong back and abdominal muscles can help you maintain good posture and keep your spine in its correct position.
- See a physician if pain persists. If you suffer from persistent, chronic or recurring back pain, Ratliffa recommended consulting with a doctor. In most cases, he said, there is a conservative, nonsurgical treatment that can resolve the pain. However, if left untreated, back pain may lead to serious and severe disability.
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July 19, 2010
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