Healthworks: back pain

In Healthworks, it is the number one reason people go to their doctor's office: back pain.  80 percent of us will deal with it at one time or another. Why? What are we doing wrong and what should we be doing? Let's talk to the expert, Dr. Steven Kalkanis, the Chair of Neurosurgery at Henry Ford Hospital. What causes all this back pain?

"Back pain can be caused from anything from temporary muscle spasms, to something more serious like a pinched nerve or herniated disc," said Dr. Steven Kalkanis from Henry Ford Hospital. 

What should be your first step if you're feeling a lot of pain or just a dull ache?

"I think to stop what you're doing, to rest, make sure you don't lift anything heavy, to lie down for a little bit, use heat or cold whatever works," said Dr. Kalkanis. "If it persists you might need medication or something even more."

Take some over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication. When do you need to go to the doctor? 

"If the pain really persists, if it prevents you from walking, if you can't stand, if the pain runs down your leg, or if you have bowel or bladder changes, if you become weak in any way, you need to see a doctor," according to Dr. Kalkanis.

Good advice doc. Speaking of moving around and keeping moving, Karen Newton, physical therapist from Henry Ford Hospital, is sitting, which many of us do all day at work. You're saying sitting is bad for your body?

"There's many health risks associated with sitting: heart disease, diabetes, cancer, but also back pain. So, we were talking about causes of back pain, inactivity is probably the most frequent cause of back pain," said Physical Therapist Karen Newton.

You're going to stand up right now and you say even if you walk around the building, it's good to get you started to get the blood flowing. 

"Ideally every 20 minutes, 30 minutes at the most you should be getting out of your chair to move. Do some of your work standing too," said Newton.

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