Posts Tagged ‘low back pain’

Exercises to Improve Lower Back Pain

Exercises for Lower Back PainAmericans are suffering from lower back pain in record numbers. Many people with low back pain mistakenly think that they need to rest to heal the back pain but actually, most low back pain will get better if you stay active. Exercise has been shown to help decrease lower back pain as well as help you recover faster from the injury. In addition, exercise can help prevent the back from being reinjured and reduces the risk of disability due to back pain. It is important to stay active right after the pain starts so you don’t lose any strength or flexibility. The loss of strength or flexibility could lead to further, more debilitating pain.

Exercises for back pain:
People who have back pain can do several activities that will strengthen the back including walking, swimming and walking in waist deep water.

It is also important to stretch and do strengthening exercises such as:

  • Back extensions – while lying on your stomach on the floor, press your elbows onto the ground and push up. Hold this pose for 30 seconds and allow your body to relax and then repeat 4 – 6 times.
  • Knee to chest stretch – lie on your back on the floor and bend your knees, keeping your heels on the floor. Place hands behind each respective knee and bring your knees to your chest.
  • Hip stretch – stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Take a step back with one foot and bend the opposite knee while shifting the weight to the opposing hip.
  • Neck stretch – sit in a comfortable chair with a straight back. Bend your head forward until the chin hits the chest or you can feel a light stretch in the back of the neck.
  • Chair stretch (for hamstrings) – Sit in a comfortable chair with legs straight out in front of you in another stable chair. Reach forward gently to one foot and then repeat with other foot.

Note, that if at any time you are doing a stretch or exercise that is increasing your pain, you should stop immediately.

Exercises you should not do when you have low back pain:

There are also some exercises you should avoid when you have low back pain including:

  • Sit ups, either with straight legs or with bent legs
  • Leg lifts
  • Touching your toes while standing with legs straight
  • Heavy lifting above the waist

Although, some patients with lower back pain need to receive medical attention, many people can relieve the pain associated with back pain with simple strengthening and stretching exercises. When you have a question on whether to get medical attention or not, it is best to be cautious and talk to your provider for a recommendation.

About Dr. Olufade
Dr. Oluseun OlufadeDr. Olufade is board certified in Sports Medicine, Interventional Pain Medicine and Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation. He completed fellowship training in both Interventional Pain Medicine and Sports Medicine. During his fellowship training, he was a team physician for Philadelphia Union, a major league soccer (MLS) team, Widener University Football team and Interboro High School Football team. He is currently team physician for Emory University and Blessed Trinity High School.

Dr. Olufade employs a comprehensive approach in the treatment of sports medicine injuries and spinal disorders by integrating physical therapy, orthotic prescription and minimally invasive procedures. He specializes also in treatment of sports related concussions, tendinopathies, platelet rich plasma (PRP) injections and percutaneous tenotomy and fasciotomy. He performs procedures such as fluoroscopic-guided spine injections and ultrasound guided peripheral joint injections. Dr. Olufade individualizes his plan with a focus on functional restoration. Dr. Olufade sees patients at our clinic at Emory Johns Creek Hospital.

Dr Olufade has held many leadership roles including Chief Resident, Vice-President of Resident Physician Council of AAPM&R, President of his medical school class and Editor of the PM&R Newsletter. He has authored multiple book chapters and presented at national conferences.

About Emory Ortho, Sports and Spine in Johns Creek and Duluth
Emory Orthopaedics, Sports & Spine has recently opened two new clinics, one in Johns Creek and one in Duluth. Emory physicians, Kyle Hammond, MD, and Oluseun A. Olufade, MD see patients in Johns Creek. Mathew Pombo, MD and Scott Maughon, MD see patients in Duluth. Our new clinic locations care for a full range of orthopedic conditions including: sports medicine, hand/wrist/elbow, foot/ankle, joint replacement, shoulder, knee/hip, concussions, and spine. To schedule an appointment call 404-778-3350

Novel Treatment Option for Chronic Low Back Pain

Back pain treatmentMore than 80% of the population will at some time have problematic low back pain. Typically these episodes of low back pain improve with time, but some people have persistent issues. In fact, it is estimated that over 6 million people in the US have chronic low back pain that persists for at least three months.

The CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics suggests that chronic low back pain is a leading cause of chronic pain. The total cost of low back pain is estimated to be between $100 billion and $200 billion annually. Much of this cost is related to decreased wages and productivity.

Studies suggest that discogenic pain, a painful degenerative disc, is the most common source of chronic low back pain. Unfortunately, there is no great treatment for painful degenerative discs and both conservative and surgical options often fall short in helping people with this issue.

Research at the Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center

The Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center has been a part of an exciting research study that evaluated the injection of stem cells into a patient’s painful degenerative disc. In the study, stem cells called mesenchymal precursor cells that come from bone marrow were injected into a painful degenerative disc.

The early interim analysis of this study is promising. At six months out, a single low dose injection of stem cells led to an average reduction in back pain of 69%. Additionally, 71% were considered to be a “treatment success” as defined by clinically significant improvement in pain and function. Both of these findings were significantly better than controls.

These are only preliminary results but it does provide optimism for a major condition that has been difficult to treat. We are not recruiting patients for this trial but another follow up study may start in a year.

If you are suffering from back or neck pain, you’ll find the comprehensive spine care you need at the Emory Spine Center in Atlanta, Georgia. At Emory, we have the most highly trained spine specialists in the country working together to diagnose and treat spinal disorders. You can call us at 404-778-7000 for appointments. We are on the web at

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About Dr. Beckworth

Dr. Jeremy BeckworthDr. Beckworth is board certified in Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation (Physiatry), Electrodiagnostic Medicine and Pain Medicine. Dr. Beckworth has won multiple teacher of the year awards for the Department of PM&R residency program. He is a section editor for Spineline, a publication of the North American Spine Society. Dr. Beckworth started practicing at Emory in 2007. He has been involved in various research studies. A recent study dealing with anomalous location of the vertebral artery won “best basic science study” at the 20th Annual Scientific Meeting of the International Spine Intervention Society. He has been invited as a board examiner for the American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.

8 Types of Low Back Pain that Mean You Should Visit Your Doctor

Back pain warning signOver 80% of the population will suffer from lower back pain at some point in their lives. Low back pain is a common complaint in medical offices and is a common issue causing many people to miss work and be unable to participate in daily life activities. Sometimes back pain is due to a pulled or strained muscle and many times will not require a trip to your doctor’s office. Other issues such as fractures, tumors and infections of the spine are very serious and need to be evaluated by a physician promptly.

Patients should see a doctor immediately if they experience low back pain as a result of severe trauma. Patients should also make an appointment with a doctor if low back pain is accompanied by any of the following: fever, loss of bowel or bladder control, serious trauma, numbness, unplanned weight loss, personal history of cancer, back pain that persists more than 6 weeks, or severe night pain.

Fever and Back Pain
Fever combined with back pain can indicate an infection in your kidneys or back. A primary care physician can determine if you need antibiotics to eliminate the infection.

Loss of control of your bowel or bladder and Back Pain
If you have back pain along with new incontinence, you could have a serious back condition causing pressure on the nerves that requires immediate medical care.

Serious Trauma and Back Pain
Trauma such as a car accident or falling down a flight of stairs can cause a fracture in your back. Seek immediate care from your physician or the emergency department.

Numbness or Tingling in Leg and Back Pain
Numbness on tingling in your leg and back pain could indicate nerve irritation or nerve damage. You could have a herniated disc or spinal stenosis. A doctor can prescribe medications, treatments or even surgery to help relieve the pressure on the nerves.

Unexplained weight loss and Back Pain
If you lose a lot of weight without changing your diet or activity level and have back pain, a doctor should order imaging and blood work to check for cancers or hormonal disorders.

History of Cancer and New Back Pain
If you have had cancer, onset of back pain could be a sign that cancer has spread to you spine. You should visit your physician for further evaluation.

Back Pain at Night
Pain in your back that causes you to lose sleep should not be dismissed. This could be a sign of spinal tumors or even cancer.

Back pain that lasts more than 6 weeks
Any pain that lasts more than a month or two should be evaluated more fully.

If you experience significant trauma and back pain, an evaluation in the Emergency Department is indicated. In most other cases, your primary care physician can evaluate your condition and begin treatment. . If he or she is unable to help with your condition he can refer you to a spine specialist.

For more information about low back pain, visit Our spine physicians at Emory regularly contribute content to this website for not only our own patients, but for anyone searching for spine information.

Dr. Susan DreyerAbout Susan Dreyer, MD
Dr. Dreyer is an Associate Professor in the departments of Orthopaedics and Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation at Emory University School of Medicine. Dr. Dreyer specializes in non-operative spine care and focuses on helping patients achieve their best functional level. She has taught many national and international courses on spine care and spinal injections for sciatica and other causes of back and neck problems. She is also active in several professional societies. Dr. Dreyer started practicing at Emory in 1992.


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3 Things You Can Do Now to Prevent Future Back Pain

At some point in our lives, most of us struggle with lower back pain. The good news is it’s never too late to make positive changes in your lifestyle. Preventive steps now can help keep your back healthier down the road.These three things may make the difference between future suffering and living pain free:

1. Get active. Staying active may be the single most important thing you can do to maintain a healthy back. When you don’t get enough exercise, the muscle tone in your lower back can weaken, which may cause the pelvis to tilt too far forward, causing back pain. Regular exercise helps prevent back pain by strengthening your back and abdominal muscles. Just 30 minutes a day of a low-impact exercise like swimming, walking, or stationary cycling can increase muscle strength and flexibility. Yoga is also great for stretching and strengthening muscles and improving posture. If you’re already experiencing back pain, you may want to meet with an Emory physiatrist or physical therapist, who can customize an exercise plan for you.

2. Lose weight. If you’re overweight or obese, chances are you already experience back pain. One of the best things you can do now to ease pain and prevent future back pain is to lose weight. Being overweight or obese affects not only the cardiovascular and endocrine systems but the skeletal system. The skeletal system is made to support a healthy weight. Obesity puts an extra strain on all your weight-bearing joints, such as the hips and knees, but also on the spinal column. The resulting poor posture can cause chronic back pain.

3. Stop smoking. If you’re a smoker, you already know it’s not healthy. But you may not have realized it can contribute to back problems, not just later in life, but now. Many of the chemicals in cigarettes, including nicotine, have been shown to be toxic to spinal disc cells in laboratory experiments. Also, the carbon monoxide in cigarettes decreases the amount of oxygen in the blood. Because spinal discs have no capillaries, they rely on osmosis for oxygen delivery. Without oxygen-rich blood, the discs don’t get the nutrients they need, making them brittle and at risk for rupture.

Do you suffer from back pain? If so, what treatments have worked best for you? We welcome your questions and feedback in the comments section below.

Could Yoga be the Solution for Your Chronic Low Back Pain?

Yoga for Low Back PainIn September, we shared with you some resources on the health benefits of practicing yoga, in honor of Yoga Awareness Month. Make sure to check that resource out, as a new study has recently found that participating in weekly yoga classes is equally as effective as regular deep stretching in relieving symptoms of low back pain. The study, from which findings were published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, followed over 200 people for up to 26 weeks, making it the largest study focusing on yoga’s effect on low back pain.

Of the 228 followed, subjects participated in weekly classes in which they practiced either yoga or deep stretching and also practiced the same thing at home, with the help of instructional CDs 7 DVDs for 20 minutes, at least 3 days a week. The outcomes for the group who practiced yoga and the group who practiced deep stretching in classes were compared to a “control” group, whose members were given a book with tips and best practices for relieving chronic low back pain. The results of the study showed that both yoga and deep stretching were equally as useful in easing or relieving low back pain, as long as either the yoga or stretching were practiced regularly.

Couple these results with the fact that 80% of people will suffer from low back pain at some point in their lives with the fact that Americans spend at least $50 billion each year on low back pain 1 and it becomes obvious that yoga could evolve to be an easy and fairly cost-effective method for alleviating chronic low back pain with potential to be as beneficial for improving pain as it is for reducing stress and improving flexibility and breathing.

Has your low back pain been improved by practicing yoga? If so, we’d love to hear from you in the comments below!