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spine health supplements

The Best Supplements for Spine Health

spine health supplementsYou’re probably familiar with dietary supplements. There are many types, including vitamins (like vitamin C), herbs (like ginseng) and minerals (like zinc). Each supports a particular part of your body, from the immune system to your brain functions.

There are even some dietary supplements that promote spine health. In fact, they’re sometimes recommended in conjunction with other types of back treatment. When pain relievers fail to control or reduce your pain, for example, spine health supplements offer additional help in the prevention and treatment of back pain, neck pain, and their causes.

Recommended Spine Health Supplements

In a market flooded with miracle cures, your efforts to discern what’s real from what’s hype can end sometimes in frustration. Since the Federal Food and Drug Administration doesn’t review or approve supplements, the quality varies greatly. As much as possible, focus on purely scientific research and stay away from advertisements and paid testimonies.

While that recommendation is easier spoken than followed, review this list of known spine health supplements and their potential benefits to you:

  • Omega-3 fatty acids. They can significantly reduce your dependency on non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) by reducing your inflammation and relieving your pain. These spine health supplements primarily are made from fish oils and flaxseed. The potential risks from these supplements include bleeding and adverse reactions to blood-thinning medications like Warfarin, Coumadin and aspirin.
  • Glucosamine/chondroitin. These supplements promote joint lubrication. And some studies have shown that these supplements can address arthritis pain specifically. But as with the Omega-3 supplements, there is a risk of adverse reactions with blood-thinning medications.
  • Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM). This supplement has also shown benefits if you suffer from arthritis pain. It’s believed to be effective for a wide range of back and neck pain. Some people report side effects such as diarrhea, skin problems and nausea.
  • Bromelain. This is an enzyme that has taken the world by storm. It’s being used for everything from pain relief to skin care. Its intense anti-inflammatory properties make it well-suited for both. Potential risks include an:
    • Increase in bleeding
    • Adverse reaction to blood-thinning medications
    • Adverse reaction to certain antibiotic medications
    • Alert to not take it if you have peptic ulcers
  • Turmeric. This is another supplement gaining popularity. Ancient cultures used turmeric for thousands of years to treat a wide variety of ailments and conditions. Studies are showing that it has profound capabilities to address pain and inflammation. Like Omega-3 fatty acids, it can introduce potential risks such as more bleeding and adverse reactions to blood-thinning medications.

Make Healthier Choices for Your Back

Spine health supplements come in a variety of brands and styles. Consult your medical care professionals at the Southeastern Spine Institute about which supplements are safe for you to take, given your history and health.

Remember that supplements alone aren’t enough, no matter how miraculous they may seem. Stay current with your medical treatments and check-ups. Never underestimate the power of a balanced diet and regular exercise. When you make healthy choices that include dietary supplements in conjunction with diet, exercise and regular medical evaluations, you can stay healthy now and well into your retirement years.

Back health tips for desk jobs

How to Take Care of Your Back at a Desk Job

Back health tips for desk jobsWho knew that working at a desk job could be as physically demanding as slinging a shovel or loading a truck? While the physical risks of those jobs are well documented, the risks of a desk job aren’t well advertised. But they are just as real.

Back pain is the most common ailment among working professionals, and the more you sit at a desk, the more damage you can do to your back and spine. Poor posture and incorrect body mechanics can lead to debilitating pain. But back health tips followed today can save you from serious damage later in life.

Back Health Tips for Specific Problems

Sitting for much of your working day wreaks havoc on your spine, even if you don’t feel the effects right away. Computer use commonly causes your shoulders to round, softening your back. To compensate, you move your neck forward, adding weight and stress to your shoulders. You also lose engagement with your glutes.

Over time, your thoracic spine, responsible for holding your diaphragm and safeguarding your lungs, stiffens up. Over an extended period, your neck adapts to this position. Poor posture becomes your new norm. Your low back weakens, which causes such problems as:

  • Dull, aching pain. Try over-the-counter medication for pain relief. Hot/cold packs can also bring relief.
  • Radiating or traveling pain. Back pain can sometimes travel to your buttocks, feet and legs. For back health tips, keep your feet flat on the floor, have a chair that supports the natural curve in your spine and walk around every hour. Movement increases the amount of fluid to your spine.
  • Intensifying pain. You may feel worse after sitting for an extended period. Back health tips involve exercise. Do standing quad and hip flexor stretches to loosen tightened muscles that overcompensate for the weakness in your back.
  • Difficulty walking after sitting. If you feel clumsy after sitting for an extended period, you may be experiencing sciatica. Back health tips to get relief include using ice packs interchanged with heat packs, over-the-counter medication and even surgery, if your condition is serious enough.

Back Ailments from Sitting

Any of these symptoms may be a sign of a back injury. Yes, you can actually injure your spine by sitting too much. Injuries include:

  • Pelvic inflammatory disease, for women
  • Herniated or slipped disk
  • Sciatica
  • Kidney stones
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
  • Endometriosis
  • Prostatitis
  • Scoliosis

Back Health Tips for Preventing Pain

Invest in an ergonomic work space. Even if it costs you more now, you can avoid much more costly — and painful — results in the future. What you need may depend on you and your situation, but consider:

  • A comfortable desk chair that supports you in all the right places
  • Computer screens that are slightly above eye level to keep your neck in a neutral position
  • A standing or walking desk
  • A keyboard, mouse and other accessories that you can use without stressing your wrists
  • Coccyx (tailbone) seat cushion
  • Lower lumbar support pad

Even if you’re not in pain yet, you can benefit from a preventative course of action, including an exam. A trained specialist can uncover any bad mechanics in your body, as well as any poor postural habits that can lead to problems down the road. Talk to your doctors at the Southeastern Spine Institute about other options that are right for you.

hereditary back issues

Your Ancestry and Your Back

hereditary back issues Millions of Americans suffer from back pain every day. In fact, Americans spend an estimated $50 billion yearly on treating back pain. The causes of back problem vary, but new research has revealed some startling findings that medical experts hope will bring relief to many of the millions who suffer.

A study on two million Utah locals shows hereditary back issues may be one of the main reasons why some individuals develop back pain, especially pain in the lower back. The study showed that having a close relative — like a brother, mother, sister or father — suffer from back pain has a direct relationship to your pain. The sooner you consult a medical spine specialist about your back pain, the sooner you can see if hereditary back issues are the cause of your pain.

Risks of Hereditary Back Issues

Your DNA determines many of the physical characteristics you expect in your lifetime. If an immediate family member is suffering from back pain, for example, you’re four times more likely to develop back pain. But the risk doesn’t diminish even when second-degree relatives like an aunt or uncle or grandparent is the sufferer. Or for that matter, third-degree relatives like cousins.

Your lower spine is the most obviously affected part of your back when it comes to hereditary back issues. So if you have a family history of back pain, it’s most likely that disc-related lower back problems are going to be imminent in your future.

Symptoms to Track

While there are a myriad of symptoms associated with back pain, the most common hereditary back issues are similar to the complaints your spinal doctor hears daily. These back pain symptoms include:

  • Pain when bending or twisting your spine, especially when lifting something heavy
  • A sense of feeling unstable and unable to hold your neck and back properly
  • Restrictive basic movements that limit your daily life and exercise routines
  • Muscle tension or muscular spasms that cause severe pain
  • Radiating, sharp, stabbing or hot pain in your back — and sometimes in your hips, in your buttocks and down the back of your leg
  • Increased pain while sitting or standing for long periods of time

Lower back pain can severely limit your mobility and your lifestyle. If you watched one of your parents or grandparents struggle with mobility, talk to your doctors at the Southeastern Spine Institute about your chances of ending up in a similar situation. Don’t wait until you suffer excruciating pain. Get preventative treatment to remain free from pain.

Be Alert to Back Pain

Back pain can be difficult to diagnose when there is no physical injury involved. Some patients report that the pain comes and goes, especially when located in their lower back. Back pain can be deceptive because even though you may not feel any pain, sometimes serious damage is taking place in your lower back due to degenerative disc disease. When you know of a family history, simple imaging tests can alert your doctor to potential problems.

Hereditary back issues cause symptoms similar to normal back pain. And women especially are more susceptible to lower back pain due to hormonal complications. A thorough medical history reveals your genetic risks. Knowing your family history with back problems helps ensure realistic risks. A plan of action to combat future back issues can begin earlier rather than later, giving you years of pain-free activity.

pregnancy and bad back

Pregnancy Issues After Back Surgery

pregnancy and bad back Pregnancy and bad back issues seem to go together almost as much as a hand in a glove. As your body continues to adapt to the new life inside of you, it also has to make several adjustments that enable you to deliver a healthy baby.

In the early stages of pregnancy, your body begins to produce a significant amount of a hormone called relaxin. Relaxin helps your ligaments and joints loosen to meet your child’s ever-growing demand for space. Unfortunately, relaxin can also cause the ligaments supporting your spine to loosen, causing issues with the stability of your back.

If Previously Compromised…

If your back was already compromised leading into your pregnancy, the loosening of your supporting ligaments can end up being a considerable source of pain and discomfort. Pre-existing back issues or previous procedures can drastically increase the level of pain you experience. Pregnancy and bad back symptoms are a dreadful combination that effect between 50 and 80 percent of all expecting mothers.

With numbers that high, it doesn’t hurt for you to contact a spine specialist to start asking questions. The most commonly asked questions include:

  • Can you have a vaginal birth following back surgery?
  • Are you able to have an epidural or spinal anesthetic during delivery?

Vaginal Birth

Pregnancy and bad back concerns can impact your day-to-day activities. The good news is that even after back surgery, almost all women are still able to deliver vaginally. There are a very few and specific circumstances following surgery on your back that can make a Caesarean section necessary. Your team at the Southeastern Spine Institute works with your gynecologist to ensure the best care possible.

There’s little conclusive evidence to support the idea that natural labor has negative effects on back pain. But labor is hard work! Your spine specialist can work with you to determine the best positions to reduce the strain that giving birth places on your back and spine.

Epidurals and Pain Relief

It’s still possible for you to have an epidural or a spinal after back surgery. Most women have no problem or complications from either procedure. In very specific cases, scar tissue can keep your anesthesiologist from being able to access the proper place on your spine, but that’s rare.

Scar tissue can in some prevent the coverage of your epidural from feeling even. One side may feel noticeably more numb than the other. If your epidural feels uneven, it’s not recommended to proceed with a Caesarean section without another form of anesthesia.

Stay Safe

Pregnancy and bad back pain can certainly make you uncomfortable. To stay safe, however, make sure you avoid certain over-the-counter pain medications altogether. These include:

  • Aspirin and all products that contain aspirin or are made from it. The salicylic acid found in almost all acne washes is made from aspirin, for example. Aspirin can cause thinning in your blood and in your baby’s blood as well.
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen and naproxen. These common painkillers can promote heart defects in your developing baby.

Pregnancy and bad back problems are both manageable with proper medical attention and guidance. Contacting a spinal specialist early on in your pregnancy can spare you from unnecessary discomfort that can cast a shadow over such a joyous time in your life.

bad back tips for pet owners

Caring for Pets When You Have a Bad Back

bad back tips for pet ownersRunning, jumping, kneeling, squatting — all of these activities may sound like the exercises of an athlete. But pet owners often do these kinds of rigorous, repetitive actions in the course of a regular day caring for and playing with the pups. While these activities are just a normal part of being a pet owner, back issues can limit your ability to play with your pet. So you can benefit from bad back tips.

Enduring chronic back pain can be depressing and debilitating. It limits your ability to be an active and fully engaged pet owner. Following bad back tips helps you maintain an active lifestyle with your pet until you’re fully recovered after back surgery or from a recent back injury.

Bad Back Tips to Help You

Owning a pet is a rewarding — but physically demanding — process when you have a bad back. Ordinary, simple tasks like bending down to pick up your pet’s toy or replacing food and water dishes become painful duties. Most bad back tips demand that you modify some of the movements you need to take while caring for your pets. But you want to do more for them, not less, since they’re part of your family.

One trick is to elevate their bowls. It’s beneficial for two reasons: they’re higher off the ground so you won’t have to bend so low to pick them up and your pet’s neck isn’t in a compromised position when eating or drinking. Of course, be mindful of elevating the bowls too high for small dogs and cats.

Let’s Play Fair

Modifying play sometimes just takes some common sense, mixed with some bad back tips that pet owners with bad backs learned the hard way. And keep in mind that some days are going to be worse than others; sometimes, playing with your pet may not be possible at all. During those especially painful moments, some of these toys can help:

  • Flirt pole. A flirt pole is a toy attached to a rope that, with minimal physical effort, you can drag around the house for your dog or cat to chase.
  • Bubbles. If you have a pet that likes to chase things, this is a great activity to engage their hunting instincts. You can lie down and rest while your pet is completely engaged.
  • Laser pointer. This is another great way to exert your pet without putting physical strain on yourself. Sit or lie down while your pet chases the light.
  • Indoor agility course. Another great way to engage your pet’s mind and body is with an indoor agility course that teaches them how to navigate different terrains while maintaining balance and coordination. This works best for small animals.
  • Treadmill. Putting your pet on the treadmill is an alternative to outdoor activity during inclement weather or during those times your back acts up. Walking is one of the best cardiovascular activities for your dog.
  • A second playmate. Get another pet. They’ll be able to socialize, play and keep each other occupied when you aren’t physically able to do so.

When you’re dealing with back pain, your life as a pet owner doesn’t have to come to a halt. You don’t have to give up your pet or try to push through pain, risking further injury. Try a few of these bad back tips to keep your pet happy even when you’re not. And talk to your doctors at the Southeastern Spine Institute to ensure you can manage the most minimal pet care.

Bone Density in Spine

How Bone Density Influences Your Spine Health

Bone Density in SpineAs you age, your bones become thinner, weaker and more brittle. You’re therefore more likely to experience a broken bone when you get older. Something as simple as having a minor fall or putting stress on a bone by twisting, bending or lifting — even a bag of groceries — can cause a bone to unexpectedly break.

Your bones are continually being recreated throughout your life, but this process slows down as you get older. When the creation of new bone doesn’t keep up with the loss of old bone, it’s called osteoporosis. Fractures from osteoporosis commonly happen in your spine, hips or wrists, where your bones are naturally thin.

Risk Factors for Osteoporosis

There are several factors that may increase your risk of developing osteoporosis, such as:

  • Being female
  • Passing the age of 30
  • Having a family history of osteoporosis
  • Being petite or small-boned
  • Drinking alcohol to excess
  • Suffering from an eating disorder
  • Smoking cigarettes
  • Leading a sedentary lifestyle
  • Taking certain medications, such as prescribed steroids, on a long-term basis
  • Experiencing a reduction of estrogen levels, such as after menopause
  • Seeing a drop in hormone levels because of a cancer treatment

Your spine specialists at the Southeastern Spine Institute (SSI) can help you determine what actions you can take to reduce your risk of developing osteoporosis. Taking action now may prevent you from incurring spinal fractures and weak back bones.

How Low Bone Density Affects Your Back

One sign that low bone density may be affecting your back is losing more than 1.6 inches in height. This loss of height may indicate a compression fracture in your spine. Your SSI physician may recommend testing the density of your bones if you’ve lost height.

While you may not notice any symptoms in the early stages of bone loss, back pain may be a sign of a collapsed or fractured vertebral bone. Weakened bones may also lead to a stooped posture.

Get Your Bone Density Tested at SSI

A bone density test can determine whether you have osteoporosis, even before a broken bone occurs. This test uses x-rays to measure how much of certain minerals are contained in a segment of bone. The higher the mineral content of your bones, the denser they are and the less likely they are to break easily. A bone mineral density test can show:

  • Whether you have osteoporosis
  • Your risk of breaking bones
  • How well your current osteoporosis treatment is working

Even if you have no symptoms of osteoporosis, which are often rare, your bones may be in the process of weakening. Talk to your doctor at SSI about available tests to clearly reveal the health of your bones.

What to Do About Low Bone Density

Understanding the consequences of poor bone health motivates you to be proactive to protect them. Actions you can take to prevent further bone loss include the right exercises, a proper diet and fall-proofing your home. If you’ve had surgery and you’re receiving treatment for back pain, your doctor may recommend medication to slow bone loss or help rebuild bone.

The spine specialists at SSI help you make the most of your bone health. Make an appointment today to have your bones checked. Learn the best ways to prevent the debilitating effects of osteoporosis and bone loss.

ankle pain affects back

How a Twisted Ankle Contributes to Back Pain

ankle pain affects backIf you’ve experienced a twisted ankle, you’ve probably noticed that the way you walk or stand has also been affected. It’s not uncommon for a twisted ankle to cause problems in other parts of your body. For example, ankle pain affects back alignment or movement — to avoid hurting your ankle more, you overcompensate by relying on other muscles and tendons to carry your weight.

The average person walks between 3,000 and 10,000 steps per day, sometimes more. If your ankle has been injured, you’ll probably alter your gait. This ends up putting strain on bones, joints and muscles that are nowhere near your ankle. In this way, your ankle pain affects back muscles and causes pain.

Causes of Ankle Injuries

Ankle injuries are common because your ankle supports your entire body weight whenever you walk. A twisted ankle or sprained ankle can happen when you least expect it. Some possible causes include:

  • Playing sports
  • Jumping
  • Quickly changing of direction
  • Tripping or falling down stairs
  • Walking on an uneven surface
  • Wearing high heels

Whenever you lose your balance for any reason and your foot is placed at an abnormal angle, you may end up with a twisted ankle. After days or weeks of walking with an abnormal gait, your ankle pain affects back comfort as well.

Untreated Ankle Injuries and Back Pain

A twisted ankle may seem to be a minor injury. If you’re like other people, you may be tempted to ignore it. The pain may not be unbearable, so it seems more like an inconvenience than a serious problem. You may find that you can relieve some of the pain in your ankle by twisting or shifting your weight, causing other muscles to work too hard. When you do this, your ankle pain affects back, hip or knee stability and comfort.

You may limp, shift your weight awkwardly or rely on muscles you didn’t even know you had. The muscles in your back may become stiff or tight, or you might even feel like your spine is out of alignment. Walking awkwardly may even cause you to fall again, leading to another injury.

Treating a Twisted Ankle to Prevent Back Pain

Failure to treat ankle pain affects back health, maybe even on a long-term basis. To prevent future complications, don’t rely on your back to overcompensate for your injured ankle. Visit your spine physician if you’re being treated for back pain. Don’t let any other problems interfere with your current treatment. Seek a professional diagnosis before beginning home care to make sure your ankle isn’t broken or more severely injured than you think.

Once you get the all-clear from your doctor, you’ll most likely be instructed to use the approach known as RICE:

  • Rest
  • Ice
  • Compression
  • Elevation

An elastic bandage or ankle support brace can help stabilize your ankle. Once the swelling has gone down, physical therapy is an effective method of relieving pain from a twisted or sprained ankle. It can help improve joint mobility, reduce inflammation and improve the strength and stability of your ankle. By making sure your ankle heals, you can also protect your back from pain, discomfort and injury.

running with back pain

When You Have to Stop Running

running with back pain Running involves high-impact and repetitive stress for long periods of time. And when your lower back feels strained, it can be an indication of overuse and stress — or a more serious problem. Unfortunately, it’s often due to your running schedule. While it may be your first instinct to keep moving through the pain, disregarding back pain can lead to greater problems.

Running with back pain stresses your joints and discs, as well as the muscles and tendons that support your structure. Back pain can develop from improper lifting or standing. You can also feel pain from running too far or too long without proper warm-up. Anytime you develop an injury that seems more than mere muscle soreness, a visit to your specialist at the Southeastern Spine Institute (SSI) gets you back in running shape much quicker than pushing through the pain.

What Low Back Pain Means

Ranging in severity from muscle strain to more serious structural concerns, your low back pain may indicate:

  • Muscle strain
  • Tendon tears
  • Herniated disc
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Sciatica

With proper self-care, muscle strains and tendon tears resolve relatively quickly. Conditions involving compromised discs or sciatica may result in the need for altered exercise regimens. Sciatica is a condition that causes inflammation of the nerves running from your low back down your leg. You may experience pain, numbness, weakness or tingling — and repetitive impacts aggravate the inflammation.

Self-Care Measures for Running with Back Pain

When it comes to your back, pain usually means it’s time to take a break. Runners typically don’t want to hear this. But taking care of your back now with patience may mean the difference between getting back into your running shoes and having to hang them up for good. Good self-care includes:

  • Rest anywhere from a day to three weeks, as long as it takes
  • Cold packs or ice for 10 to 20 minutes at a time, several times a day
  • Heat therapy or moist heat to loosen tight, constricted muscles
  • Gentle stretching, preferably after heat therapy and before any kind of activity
  • Over-the-counter medication such as acetaminophen for pain and ibuprofen for inflammation

If your pain continues after three weeks, call your doctor at SSI to determine if more serious conditions should be addressed. At the same time, if you have a history of back problems or have recently undergone a procedure, let your doctor know right away if you have back pain again.

Exercise Options in Place of Running with Back Pain

While waiting for your back pain to heal or if your spine specialist determines there may be more serious conditions, other low- or no-impact exercises may prove beneficial. These exercises don’t aggravate inflammation like running with back pain does. Instead, look for exercises that target strength and flexibility during your healing process. Options for exercise include:

  • Elliptical machines
  • Rowing machines
  • Biking or stationary bikes
  • Walking
  • Swimming
  • Water therapy to help with pain and flexibility

Running with back pain is no fun anyway. Finding relief for your back pain to maintain the active lifestyle you enjoy is your SSI back team’s main goals. The proper exercises, remedies, medication and routines help you get back to the exercise you love without the frustrations of pain.

back surgery in south carolina

After Your Surgery in Mt. Pleasant, SC

back surgery in south carolinaOnce you’ve undergone back surgery in South Carolina, you may need to take it easy for a few days before heading home. If you live quite a distance from the campus at the Southeastern Spine Institute (SSI) — as many patients do — you may need to wait even longer before you can travel comfortably.

No worries! In Mt. Pleasant, SC, you’re surrounded by some of the most beautiful landscape in the country, with some of the most historic landmarks and some of the best food. Whether you’re traveling alone or with a companion, whether you need to stay off your feet or begin some gentle walking, you can find lots of ways to spend your time after back surgery in South Carolina.

Reliable Treatment

Having back surgery in South Carolina, right outside of Charleston, provides you access to a team of highly trained, board-certified surgeons. After your procedure, you receive clear instructions about how to slowly resume activities. In most cases, you’re encouraged to walk after surgery — how much depends on your procedure and your health.

The greater Charleston area gives you and your caregiver, friend or family member a lovely setting with as many events and distractions as your doctor determines is safe and realistic. No matter what your recommended activity level, you can find something to do while you heal:

If you’re told to walk for at least 10 to 20 minutes every hour:

  • Walk along King Street to find a plethora of shops and restaurants. They’ll keep your mind off your discomfort, give you plenty of opportunities to sit and watch the ambling pedestrians and try some of the tantalizing fare that Charleston is famous for.
  • Walk the waterfront. The fresh breezes blowing off the Atlantic Ocean may feel healing after you’ve been through a procedure such as back surgery in South Carolina. Rows of benches perched along the seawalls provide ample spots for rest.

If you want to shop in short bursts:

  • The City Market houses the local artisans that make this one of the most craft-friendly cities on the East Coast. It’s easy to step outside the four city blocks to grab a cup of tea if you tire. The side streets are packed with local eateries and sweet shops as you shop.
  • The Old Village and Pitt Street shopping district allows you to stay near SSI. Just across the Cooper River, you’ll find unique shops and local crafts alongside comfy cafes, where you can sip a milkshake or revive with a cup of joe.

If you can’t walk that far, but want to enjoy the surrounding beauty after back surgery in South Carolina:

  • Horse-drawn carriages continue the tradition throughout downtown Charleston. Choose from a number of operators for a private or public ride that lasts as long as you want!
  • Harbor tours are also popular options. You can see the sites without extensive walking. Book a tour of your choice with Charleston Harbor Tours for either a quiet day trip or a raucous night cruise.

Aftercare for Back Surgery in South Carolina

It’s important for your recovery that you closely follow the directions of your spine surgeon and physical therapist at SSI. Through appropriate pain management, returning to normal activity as quickly as your doctor recommends increases your chance of a successful and quick recovery.

The best aftercare involves good planning and preparation. Having the correct items at hand and finding suitable activities during your recovery help make your healing time more pleasant — not just for you, but for your caregivers as well.

preventing back pain by not walking barefoot

Going Barefoot: Good or Bad for Your Back?

preventing back pain by not walking barefoot

Going barefoot may remind you of vacations, childhood in the sandbox or just your daily end-of-the day release. What could be more relaxing than kicking off your shoes and wiggling your toes? But as good as it feels in the moment, going barefoot may be doing you more harm than good, especially if you already have back problems

In the quest for preventing back pain, many spine specialists recommend supportive shoes and reducing the time spent walking around barefoot. Once you realize the effect unsupported feet have on your gait, movement and posture, you may be willing to forego a little foot freedom for a healthier back!

What Happens to Your Legs, Back and Feet

The repetitive motion and increased shock from walking or running without the proper support for your feet can aggravate stressed muscles and tendons. Going barefoot jars your bone structure from your ankles up to your neck.

Since injuries or congenital malformations result in poor biomechanics, the slightest foot pain can alter your gait, causing you to walk differently. It puts pressure on your entire skeletal structure. If you have flat feet or pronation, your shin and thigh bones rotate inward, thrusting your pelvis forward. If one foot is flatter than the other, the discrepancy disrupts the normal balance of your pelvis and lower back.

Symptoms Attributed to Walking Barefoot

Several symptoms can be attributed to walking barefoot, including:

  • Weakness in your feet and legs
  • Breakdown of tissues in or around your spine with subsequent pain
  • Unusual lengthening or shortening of leg muscles that support your pelvis and spine
  • Muscle spasms
  • Pain in your feet, ankles, legs, knees, hips, back and shoulders
  • Muscle fatigue
  • Swollen or ruptured discs in your back

Preventing back pain means doing everything you can to support your back, especially if you already have back issues or are recovering from back surgery. Common foot problems that can occur from walking barefoot for too many years include:

  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Morton’s neuroma
  • Metatarsalgia
  • Bunions

Treatments for Resolving or Preventing Back Pain

Your specialist at Southeastern Spine Institute (SSI) relies on several options to treat lower back pain that’s related to foot issues, including:

  • Physical therapy to restore proper gait
  • Chiropractic adjustment
  • Orthotic inserts or specially designed shoes to correct posture and provide pain relief
  • Anti-inflammatory medications, either over-the-counter or prescription
  • Rest, ice, compression and elevation
  • Injections of steroidal or pain-relieving medications
  • Massage therapy to relieve stressed or bound muscles and tendons

In rare cases, surgical options can correct severe foot problems. Minimally invasive surgery can relieve your issues, preventing back pain.

Keep Your Feet Covered and Supported

Low back pain can occur suddenly, due to injury. It can develop gradually due to age, poor posture, occupation or fitness level. If you have even the slightest problem with your back, don’t go barefoot. Your body must work harder if your support structure is compromised.

Talk to your doctor and physical therapist at SSI if you have any questions about your footwear. There are caveats to wearing shoes. The wrong kind can cause back pain, too. Avoid shoes that:

  • Aren’t supportive
  • Are unstable
  • Have high heels that cause you to shift your weight forward to the front of your spine
  • Have no heels, which is almost as bad as going barefoot
  • Cause bunions, blisters, corns, calluses or hammer toe

It’s all right to run barefoot in the grass. In moderation, it isn’t harmful. Choose your shoes wisely for preventing back pain, and treat your toes to a walk on the beach or some wiggles on the lawn when your back is feeling its best.