Oh my aching back

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July 29, 2013

Back pain is one of the most common complaints that people express to their doctor.  In fact, most people in the United States will experience low back pain at least once during their lives to the point that they will miss work if they have it.  Conservative (non-surgical) techniques are suggested at first.  If those do not reduce the discomfort, more aggressive treatments might be the answer.


 On Wednesday, August 21, Dr. Daryl Warder, a neurosurgeon at Bronson Battle Creek will talk at Burnham Brook Center about what people can do to improve their back health.  His one-hour talk, which is free to the public, is sponsored through Senior Health Partners in coordination with Bronson Battle Creek.  A light lunch will be provided beginning at 11:30 a.m. followed by Dr. Warder’s presentation at noon.  Seating is limited.  For reservations call toll free (800) 451-6310.


 You’ve just come into the house from working outside and the muscles in your lower back ache.  So you take an aspirin or acetaminophen and go about your business.  You lay on a heating pad, and you feel a little better, but not great.  You ask yourself, “Should I go to the doctor for this?”


 Non-surgical treatments can usually be used for a short time to help reduce pain.  A trial and error is often necessary to discover what works and what doesn’t.  For example, treatments focused on taking medications for pain relief may help some patients; others may benefit from manipulation or physical therapy.  The latter has the additional benefit of helping educate suffers about good body mechanics, which may prevent excessive wear and tear on the discs in your back.


 If conservative treatments are not successful at reducing pain and discomfort, surgery may be an option.


 “Most back pains will gradually improve with some over-the-counter medication and heat, but if they don’t within 48 to 72 hours, you should consider seeing a healthcare provider,” says Dr. Warder.  “In some cases, if the pain is intense or constant, especially when you recline; if you feel a weakness, numbness, or tingling in your lower legs; or have a pain or throbbing in your abdomen with a fever, call your doctor.  These could be signs of a more serious medical problem.”


 Aside from a muscle strain, back pain can also be attributed to spasms, a skeletal or structure problem such as a ruptured disk or arthritis or osteoarthritis, or a neurological condition affecting your nerves. 


 Factors that can increase your risk for lower back pain include: obesity, physically strenuous work, sedentary work, being female, old age, and anxiety or stress. 


 “Probably the best way to avoid lower back pain is to improve not only your physical conditioning, but also practice proper body mechanics when you sit, stand, and lift,” says Dr. Warder.  “Maintaining a healthy weight, building muscle flexibility, and exercising regularly will go a long way in helping you avoid lower back pain.”


 Senior Health Partners, a community partnership of Bronson Battle Creek, CentraCare, Region 3B Area Agency on Aging, and Summit Pointe, works to expand wellness and educational offerings to senior citizens in Calhoun and surrounding counties. 


 Dr. Warder is accepting new patients.  Call (888) 258-0875 or (269) 341-6677.  His Bronson Neurosurgery Center—Battle Creek office is located on the second floor in the Bronson Battle Creek Outpatient Center.