Is Your Bag Hurting Your Back?
Article by Marie Suszynski
In today’s society, many people are carrying around more and more things around in backpacks, briefcases, computer bags, and purses. The result — back pain.
"It's an epidemic," says Scott Bautch, DC, chairman of the board and chief executive officer of Allied Health Chiropractic Centers in Wausau, Wisconsin. In fact, low back pain causes more global disability than any other condition, according to a study published in March 2014 in the Annals of Rheumatic Diseases.
When Dr. Bautch talks to people about bags as a potential cause of back pain, he asks them to empty their own bags. And they pull out pounds and pounds of stuff — several water bottles, three or four books, sets of keys they thought were lost, $20 in coins.
People are also carrying much more technology than ever before, from smartphones to laptops. "They seem like little things, but they all add weight," Bautch says.
Strategies for a Back Pain-Friendly Bag
The next time you head out the door with a bag, try these ideas to lighten your load and spare your back:
- Pick the smallest bag you can. The bigger the bag, the more you put in it, Bautch says. Do yourself a favor and carry the smallest bag filled with only what you really need and leave the rest at home. Keep in mind that it's usually not one single item that leads to back pain symptoms, explains Bautch. More likely, it's the accumulation of smaller items, such as loads of loose change, that causes pain.
- Aim for symmetry. Putting extra weight on one side of your body is one of the biggest back pain causes. Any time you carry weight on one side of your body for an extended period of time, it causes your spine to curve, and that leads to back pain symptoms, Bautch says. With that in mind, it's better to choose a messenger bag that you wear diagonally across your body rather than a single-strap bag that rests on one shoulder.
- Switch sides. When you can't avoid using a single-strap bag, be conscious of changing the sides you use to carry it. If it's a short strap that you carry with your hand, regularly move it from your left hand to your right hand, Bautch suggests. If it's a shoulder strap, try changing it from your left shoulder to your right shoulder.
- Go for thick straps. A thin strap resting on your shoulder can cut into your muscles and lead to problems, Bautch cautions.
- Wear a backpack. Backpacks aren't just for school kids anymore. The dual straps of a backpack are the best at evenly distributing weight on your body, and that's leading more adults to use them, Bautch says. Frequent fliers are turning to carrying backpacks as a remedy for back pain. Edward Welch, president and founder of Horizonz Property Management in Atlanta, has been traveling for business about six times a year for the past eight years. After packing up books, a laptop, a work organizer, and more, he says his bag weighs at least 20 pounds when he heads for the airport, and carrying everything in a briefcase with a strap led to lower back pain. Recently, he started using a backpack, and that has helped. "I just came back from a trip and my back felt better with a backpack," he says. Keep in mind that the way you wear a backpack is key because it can change your gait, Bautch says. When you slide a backpack onto your shoulders, adjust the straps so that you carry it as high on your back as you can. The top of the backpack should be at the same level of the big bone you feel at the lowest part of your neck, Bautch says. Also, keep the straps tight so the bag is as close to your body as possible. Wearing it close means it will feel lighter, he adds.
- Pull a bag on wheels. Airline pilots and flight attendants used to carry single-strap bags and developed their own unique musculoskeletal problems, Bautch says. But today you see them using pull-cart bags or luggage on wheels, which helps them avoid back pain symptoms.
- Designate different bags for different uses. Rather than trying to carry everything in one bag, designate a briefcase for business, a gym bag for exercise clothes, another bag for your kids' items, and so on.
- Aim to carry less than 10 percent of your body weight. Ideally, you shouldn't carry around more than 10 percent of your body weight, so put your bag on a scale and see how it measures up. If it's too heavy, see if there's anything you can do without.
The best thing you can do for your back is to be a minimalist. Don't carry what you don't have to, but when you need to take a bag with you, choose the right one and wear it the proper way to eliminate back pain causes.
If you are experiencing back pain, call Lakewood Chiropractic to schedule a free, no obligation spinal exam and consultation to see if chiropractic care may help relieve your back pain. Call us at 816-373-3373 or click here to request an appointment online.
Relief From Neck Pain
Are You Experiencing Chronic Back Pain?
You may be a candidate for Decompression Therapy which can gently correct chronic back and neck pain caused by:
- Herniated Discs
- Protruding Discs
- Degenerative Disc Disease
- Posterior Facet Syndrome
With a series of non-surgical treatments you will begin to enjoy the freedom from back pain and improve you life. Decompression Therapy combined with Light Therapy is fast, effective, drug-free, and safe. This exciting technology is cleared by the FDA and available to you today.
If you are experiencing pain, contact us today for a complimentary exam and consultation to determine if chiropractic care can help you. Call us at 816-373-3373 or request an appointment online. Lakewood Chiropractic is conveniently located 2 miles south of I-70 at the M-291 and Lakewood Blvd exit.
Hip Pain Causes and Treatments
The hips are some of the most common locations for people to feel pain. There are a number of ailments which could be responsible, but fortunately, most of them are treatable with minimally invasive chiropractic methods. Many of them also involve the soft tissues surrounding the hip socket and can be treated with stretching, electric muscle stimulation, cold laser therapy, and other treatments commonly available in chiropractic offices in addition to adjustments. However, patients should not minimalize their hip pain or think that it will not have consequences for the rest of the body. A problem in the hip can throw off the whole spine, and a problem in the spine may be felt in the hip.
Sciatica: Burning, Sharp Pain
When a patient complains of hip pain, a chiropractor will need to determine whether the problem is in the hip structure or the result of a pinched nerve in the spine. Pinched nerves in the lower back can result in sciatica, the compression of the nerve which runs from the spine to the foot. The patient may feel tingling or numbness in the hip and thigh as well as pain. It is often caused by a herniated disc and is treated with adjustments.
Wear and Tear
If sciatica can be ruled out, there may be something wrong with the hip’s soft tissues. Often, the problem is osteoarthritis, a degenerative condition in which the cartilage in joints wears away. This causes the bones to rub uncomfortably against each other or other tissues, which become inflamed. While degenerative diseases cannot be reversed, they can be slowed through lifestyle and nutritional changes. Chiropractors commonly recommend that patients with wear-and-tear injuries switch to a low impact form of exercise, such as aquatics. However, it is also possible for the hips to simply be overused, which is more commonly the case with young athletes in high-impact sports. Athletes are advised to replace old shoes that are no longer properly cushioned and to do exercises which will strengthen other muscles, relieving some of the pressure on their joints.
Sometimes, there is an issue with the bones of the hips. In rare cases, children get Legg-Calve-Perthes disease, in which the femur head breaks from lack of blood supply and needs to be held in the socket until it heals. Older people are prone to breaking their hips more often due to their poorer sense of balance and high rates of osteoporosis. Chiropractors can assist these patients’ rehabilitation by stretching their soft tissues to keep them strong and limber, determining individual exercise regimens, and coordinating plans for therapeutic massages with other health practitioners.
This newsletter/website is not intended to replace the services of a doctor. It does not constitute a doctor-patient relationship. Information in this newsletter/website is for informational purposes only & is not a substitute for professional advice. Please do not use the information contained herein for diagnosing or treating any condition.