Massage and Chronic Back Pain

back massage in chairEighty percent of adults in America will complain of at least one episode of back pain during their lives. Nearly a third of the population, however, suffers from chronic back pain, placing close to 100 million people in pain for long periods of time. Sometimes, the source of this back pain can be difficult to trace, often leaving people in pain with little to no hope for long-term relief.

Major muscle groups and nerves that connect to various parts of your body are located in your spinal area. Stress, strain, and overuse of these other body parts that are connected to the spine can be felt as back pain.

The Promising Treatment of Massage

If you’re seeking a conservative treatment to relieve your back pain, massage is an excellent therapy to try. Scientific studies published in the Journal of the American Academy of Family Physicians and the International Journal of Neuroscience have shown that massage therapy can give patients lasting relief from their spinal pain. In 2011 the Annals of Internal Medicine reported a study involving 400 patients who were suffering from moderate to severe pain in the lower lumbar region of the back. Three groups of patients were assigned to receive either a weekly full-body massage, a weekly massage targeting specific muscle issues, or no massage at all, with instructions to simply continuing their present pain-management techniques. The results, after ten weeks, showed significant improvements in pain relief for those receiving massage therapy. In fact, a third of the patients in each massage group reported either a complete absence of pain or close to feeling pain-free.

Why Massage Can Help With Back Pain

One of the key benefits of massage therapy is that it increases blood flow and circulation. If your pain is stemming from a strained muscle, for instance, better blood circulation can lessen soreness and help heal soft tissue injuries. Living with chronic back pain can bring on feelings of anxiety and depression that may intensify your pain. Massage therapy relieves muscle tension, and your psychological mood improves, too, through the release of endorphins, chemicals in your brain that lift your spirit.

Some causes of back pain are greatly helped with regular massage treatments, though not all pain can be successfully treated in this way. If you are suffering from pain that is caused by spinal stenosis or sciatica, massage may not be the answer to your pain relief. If your main complaint stems from muscle strain, particularly of the lower back, massage treatments are a good conservative treatment. Dr. Solomon Kamson, MD, PhD, at the Spine Institute Northwest, acknowledges the benefits of massage therapy for those who have spinal osteoarthritis, though Dr. Kamson recommends using a massage therapist with special training in this area.

If you are suffering from chronic back pain, find out if you can achieve relief through non-invasive massage therapy. Dr. Kamson will be able to diagnose your condition and recommend the appropriate treatment. He will help you determine whether massage is worth a try or whether it may worsen your pain. Contact the Spine Institute Northwest in Bothell, WA, today at (208) 496-0630 to schedule your consultation with Dr. Sol Kamson.

Why Should You Choose the Spine Institute Northwest?

Living with chronic back pain can have a huge negative impact on your quality of life. It’s difficult, if not sometimes impossible, to enjoy daily life when pain is intruding on your ability to work and take part in activities you enjoy.

Turn to spine surgeon, Solomon Kamson at Spine Institute Northwest, who will help you sort out the best options in minimally invasive spine surgery to help you take back your life.

About Solomon Kamson, MD

Dr. Kamson is a highly experienced physician specializing in interventional pain management and minimally invasive surgical techniques. His areas of expertise include the diagnosis and treatment of cervical, thoracic, and lumbar spine conditions.

He completed his Surgical/Medical Internship at Mercy Hospital, through the University of Michigan. He finished an Anesthesiology Residency in 1985 at the University of Washington and has received many awards and scholarships related to his clinical research, teachings, and scholarly publications. Sol Kamson is certified to treat Interventional Pain by the American Board of Interventional Pain Physicians, and he is a Fellow at both the American Academy of Minimally Invasive Spine Medicine & Surgery and at the Interventional Pain Practice, World Institute of Pain. Clearly, Solomon Kamson is an excellent choice when you are seeking a physician to treat your spine issues in a minimally invasive way, without resorting to open-back surgical procedures.

About the Spine Institute Northwest

Dr. Sol Kamson has helped hundreds of patients find relief from persistent back pain. He utilizes the latest technological advances at the Institute using the least invasive methods.

The friendly staff working with Dr. Kamson at Spine Institute Northwest makes your visit here as stress-free and comfortable as possible. Being greeted with a smile and prompt service can make big difference in your first impressions upon entering our offices. You will find that the team at the Spine Institute Northwest will continue to impress you with their ability to make you feel right at home with each and every visit you make. The office staff, nurses, and clinical assistants all work to ensure patient comfort and confidence that you’ve come to the right medical practice for your needs.

Every staff member is prepared to answer your every question and address your concerns, from medical queries to billing or insurance issues. If an answer is not within that person’s sphere of knowledge, rest assured your concerns will be directed to the correct person, including Dr. Kamson, if you need answers that relate directly to his expertise.

Customized Treatment Plans

There exist a variety of treatment options for back pain. Rest assured that Dr. Sol Kamson works with you to find the treatment plan that is ideal for your specific issues. Each individual patient is offered a number of different treatment plans. Discuss the options available to you that may include laser spine surgery, minimally invasive spine surgery, radio frequency treatment, and many other choices. Contact Solomon Kamson, MD, PhD at the Spine Institute Northwest in Bothell, WA,  today to discover how you can regain your life and relieve back pain.

Sweating the Small Stuff to Ease Back Pain

If you experience regular back pain, you are probably already doing as many things as you can to keep the pain under control. But management of back pain can be extremely frustrating, and you may feel like no matter what you do you just can’t find relief. Even if you exercise regularly, a job that forces you to be sedentary could be the culprit behind your persistent pain. A sedentary lifestyle is one of the biggest causes of health problems in the United States, even for people who are otherwise active.

You can’t leave your job, so what are you supposed to do? Dr. Sol Kamson, a specialist in managing and treating spinal pain, suggests that patients do everything they can to make sure that they are addressing all of the little aggravations that the average office space can cause for the spine. Here are some of the issues that an office job can cause for your back, and ways that sweating this “small stuff” can help make a difference to your pain:

  • Make sure your feet can touch the ground. If your seat can’t be adjusted low enough for your feet to reach the floor, get something that you can use as a footrest like a stool, box, or stack of books. Just make sure you don’t use something that someone else in the office might need! If there’s not a good solution, it may be time to upgrade to a new chair.
  • Alternatively, if you think you might be sitting too low, adjust your chair upwards so that your knees are at an approximately ninety-degree angle. If your seat that can’t be elevated to accommodate this position, again, it may be worth it to ask your office manager for a new chair.
  • Raise or lower your desk as appropriate to the level of your chair. You shouldn’t feel like you are reaching for your keyboard or crouching over your screen. You should be able to sit comfortably, with your feet flat on the floor and your screen at eye level, for proper ergonomics.
  • Adjust your armrests. Even if you don’t use the armrests regularly, you may be positioning your body in an awkward way in order to accommodate them. Raise or lower them so that your elbows rest on the armrests. If you don’t use the armrests, remove them if possible, so you don’t end up leaning or contorting to avoid them.
  • A modern option that can help is a desk that converts between a sitting and a standing desk. This allows you to stand up and continue working if you don’t have time to take a short walk or stretch. If you can’t get a standing desk, there are other options. It may be possible to elevate your computer as you feel the urge to stand up.

Dr. Kamson recommends that patients take steps like these in order to make their daily life at the office more comfortable. Regular, daily pain that results from a sedentary lifestyle impacts not only your comfort at work, but also your quality of life more broadly. If you’re experiencing chronic back pain, preventative measures like these can help to alleviate the problem before it grows bigger.

5 Myths About Back Pain (and the Truths Behind Them!)

When pursuing treatment for a long-term back problem, it’s important to be able to distinguish helpful truths from plain old myths. Following myths can exacerbate problems and cause people to forego important treatments. Here are some regular myths that Dr. Solomon Kamson encounters in discussing treatment options with individuals.

Myth: Untreated back pain will cause long-term problems
Truth: Back pain is a symptom, not a cause, of a back issue. When you visit the Spine Institute Northwest, Dr. Kamson will be looking for the cause of your back pain before he recommends ways to alleviate it. Treating only the back pain does not prevent the underlying issue from developing. If you are experiencing mysterious back pain, it’s important to get it checked out so that underlying problems can be evaluated and treated if necessary.

Myth: Most back problems require surgery
Truth: Doctors prefer not to have to perform surgeries when they are unnecessary. Unless your symptoms point to a serious underlying problem, you will most likely have conservative treatment options. If however you have already exhausted these options, or if your problem is the result of an acute injury rather than wear-and-tear, surgery may be your best option. Minimally invasive spine surgeries offer smaller incisions and shorter recovery times than traditional back procedures.

Myth: Stretching and exercise always reduce back pain
Truth: Stretching and exercise are a great way to prevent back pain, but in situations where back pain is resulting from an underlying medical issue, you can exacerbate the problem if you try to treat it entirely with stretches and exercise. Before you try to treat your back pain entirely with stretching or exercise, be sure to consult with a doctor to determine if that is the appropriate course of action. A qualified physical therapist can also help ensure that you are doing the proper movements with the correct form.

Myth: Massages, heat application, and NSAIDs are always a good idea
Truth: You need to exercise caution even while using these conservative therapies. Heat can actually increase inflammation if the pain is the result of injury. In the case of injury, go with icing. In the case of chronic pain, go with heat. Massages are a great short-term cure for muscle pain but don’t address underlying issues. Finally, NSAIDs can be useful in certain circumstances but in cases of certain injuries, they can actually slow down healing.

Myth: Bed rest is the best thing for back pain
Truth: In many cases people who have experienced back injuries or back pain as a result of other issues will over-protect their back. Restricting your back movements or abstaining to too great a degree from physical activity can cause your back to become weaker and/or to heal in an incorrect position or with improper weight distribution. You can also put too much strain on other parts of your body when you are trying to self-correct too much for back pain, which can make other body parts more susceptible to strain or injury. For most issues, limiting rest to no more than 2 consecutive days is best. Moving around and keeping your core muscles strong, so they can support your back, is more helpful than rest.

Instead of listening to old wives’ tales, make an appointment with Dr. Kamson if you have any questions about separating fact from fiction. It can be difficult to get a full understanding of how these myths and facts apply to your situation without consultation from a professional, so make sure you are treating your medical problems based on science, not science fiction.

Daily Steps to Relieve Back Pain

Chronic back pain can really complicate your life. From limiting the amount of work you can do to cutting into your favorite activities, living with chronic pain is hard. While it may seem that you already have a lot on your plate, there are small steps that you can take to improve back pain in your daily life.

Support Your Spine While You Sit
Many jobs require a lot of sitting, especially if you work in an office setting. Regardless of the reason you spend most of your day sitting, your position and amount of support can make back pain better or worse. The key to alleviating back pain while sitting is proper posture and good support. Make sure that your chair is at the right height for your knees to bend at a 90-degree angle as you sit. Keep your buttocks and spine against the back of the chair.

If your seat does not support the curvature of your lower back, place a pillow or blanket between your lower spine and the chair. You can also place a pillow beneath your feet, because sitting with your knees slightly above your hips will alleviate pressure on the back. Be sure to avoid sitting on your phone or wallet, which can misalign the spine. Finally, keep your chin back as you sit, to avoid a slouching position.

office-work

Drive Comfortably
Individuals with a lot of back pain should try to avoid driving as much as possible. Try carpooling to work, walking (if it is a reasonable distance and your doctor says it’s okay), or taking public transportation.

If you must drive, consider placing a pillow behind your lower back to support the natural curvature of the spine. If you are driving long distances, take periodic breaks to get out of the car and stretch the spine. You can do this by walking around a little bit, or even completing a few stretching exercises. For stretching exercises that can benefit the lower back, consult with a back specialist such as Dr. Solomon Kamson of the Spine Institute Northwest.

Move Around
Even if your back is healthy, sitting or standing in the same position for a long period of time can become uncomfortable. This is true even for individuals with the best posture. To promote a healthy back, moving around throughout the day is important. It’s easy to sneak in movement throughout your day.

If you are talking on the phone, try standing with one foot slightly elevated. Be sure that you do not lock your knees. You should also try to regularly get up and stretch, or walk around if you are sitting in one position for a long time. Additionally, you should frequently switch positions while you are sitting. Another thing you can do is complete hamstring stretches twice daily. Hamstring stretches will make the hamstring more flexible. This allows them to absorb more of the impact as you go throughout your day and relieve some of the stress that is placed on the lower back.