Frequently Asked Questions about your Spine
When at all possible, prevent and reduce stress in your life. Periods of stress are often accompanied by loss of regular proper movement and activity.
- Stress can cause muscles to tense up, headaches, and other body aches.
- Acute stress may also lower your immune system and make you susceptible to viruses and other illness.
- Get plenty of rest and stick to a regular sleep schedule. 8 hours of sleep each night is recommended for adults.
- Develop effective ways for your body and mind to deal with stress: Going for a walk, taking up a yoga class or reading a book are just some options that may help you cope.
Exercise is important to overall health.
- The Public Health Agency of Canada recommends at least 2.5 hours of vigorous activity per week (30 minutes of activity 5 times a week).
- Take 5-10 minutes before and after each activity to warm up and cool down. Stretching reduces the risk of injury.
- When lifting items, lift correctly. Avoid picking up heavy items directly from the ground if possible. When picking up an item, bend with your knees, tuck in your pelvis and hug the load.
- Pay close attention to body posture, especially when seated for long periods of time. Take frequent, short breaks or stand up periodically.
There are public and published ways to decrease your risk of injury and ensure a healthy spine throughout all stages of life.
- Make healthy food choices and eat balanced meals throughout the day. Nutrient rich foods provide essential vitamins and minerals to bones, muscles and tissues.
- Healthy eating habits promote a healthy body weight. Extra weight can cause undue stress to the spine.
- Drink plenty of water. The spinal cord is made up of approximately 60% water. If you are dehydrated, your spine will be affected.
- Limit caffeine and alcohol intake.
- If you smoke, quit. Smoking impairs blood flow and decreases oxygen absorption which negatively impacts all body systems.
Good overall health is the first step towards making sure your spine stays healthy. Prevention is also key to long-term back health. Here are a few tips:
- Warm up and cool down before beginning physical activities such as running, sports and even gardening. Take a few minutes to stretch and ease into the activity.
- Be mindful of repeat motions such as shoveling or reaching. Take frequent breaks and when possible switch hands.
- Maintain good posture especially in situations where you are seated for a long period of time. Stand up periodically or take a short walk.
- When lifting heavy objects, pay close attention to the way you are lifting. Bend your knees, tuck in your pelvis and hug the load. Never reach for a heavy object.
- Maintain a healthy diet and limit sugar, caffeine and alcohol consumption. Drink plenty of water. Quit smoking.
- Ensure you get enough sleep each night.
- Manage emotional stress as best you can.
If you are injured playing sports or doing any activity for that matter, you will most likely not be able to continue with what you enjoy due to pain and immobility. If you are experiencing symptoms of an underlying spinal condition as a result of your injury, ask your chiropractor if treatment can play a role in your recovery. Exercising during spine pain may have the same effect as performing knee bends on a sprained knee.
Whether you have incurred an injury at work from repetitive motion strain or a slip and fall that has caused loss of work and pain, if your condition involves your back, neck including neuropathy, your chiropractic doctor should treat you immediately. WorkSafeBC provides information on immediate access and treatment from your family chiropractor when you are injured while working. If you have been hurt at work, talk to your chiropractor about a treatment plan that is right for you. Contact us for more information on chiropractic coverage through WorkSafeBC.
Collisions can result in many different types of injuries. ICBC recognizes chiropractic treatment as an effective recovery method in patients with injuries involving the spine, including back and neck trauma. If you have been injured in a crash, contact us as soon as possible. In most cases your treatment will be covered by ICBC. See ICBC for more information on chiropractic coverage.
There are three main factors which can lead to spinal conditions:
- Physical stress: Heavy lifting, repetitive action, poor posture, car accident, falls, dehydration.
- Chemical stress: Poor diet, alcohol, smoking, vitamin deficiency, medications.
- Emotional stress: Financial problems, marital/family issues, loss of loved ones, general depression.
Yes, in fact spinal conditions can develop at all stages of life particularly during more physically active periods in youth. Monitoring your spine symptoms function and well-being should be as routine as checking your blood pressure and watching your diet. Knowing the signs and symptoms of an underlying spinal condition can help you identify an issue early before it becomes a bigger problem later in life.
The most common symptom of an underlying spinal condition is some form of back pain and stiffness involving muscles. We do not ordinarily say “my 4th and 5th lumbar are hurting me”. While muscles may not actually be damaged they are the substitute for absence of actual bone pain. Another give away that there is something wrong with your spine is if you are unable to participate in activities that you once enjoyed due to pain or mobility issues. Symptoms will vary depending on the extent of the injury and may take the form of:
- Back and/or neck pain
- Leg, arm and/or shoulder pain
- Gait or foot problems
- Balance issues/dizziness
- Mobility issues
- Neck stiffness
- Poor concentration or memory
If you are concerned that you may be experiencing these symptoms, talk to your chiropractor. They can determine if an underlying spinal condition exists.
Your spine is the core of your skeleton from the base of your skull to your tailbone. It serves many important functions including:
- Protecting your spinal cord and related essential nerves which make up the central nervous system.
- Giving structure and connection for your hips, legs, shoulders and arms.
- Serving as an attachment to muscles that enable movement.
- Providing a framework and support for skull and ribs.
- The spine (skeleton) is what holds us up.
Because the spine plays such a key role in the functions of the body, it is easy to see why proper spinal care is important to your overall health and wellness.