Southwest Florida Neurosurgical Associates

Coping With Back Pain: Yoga Moves to Stretch and Tone

Jacob Hendricks had been active his entire life. He was on the varsity soccer team in high school, enjoyed ski vacations with his family, and even ran a marathon the day before his wedding. But the car accident changed everything.

Luckily, Jacob survived the collision with a drunk driver, but he sustained a herniated disc during the accident. After neurosurgery and physical therapy, Jacob’s back pain has largely dissipated, but his doctors advised him to take it easy for a few more months. Jacob wants to be active and in shape, but doesn’t want to push his back too far.

If you have sustained a back injury or suffer from back pain, you may feel like Jacob—unable to enjoy the active lifestyle you once had. Luckily, you don’t have to sit around and wait for the back pain to go away. In fact, you don’t even have to give up the exercise you love. The answer is simple: yoga. (more…)

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Could You Have Acid Reflux?

When you hear the words “acid reflux,” you think of horrible heartburn—that intense, burning feeling in your chest that you get occasionally. But you don’t experience heartburn often enough to be overly concerned. After all, everyone experiences a little heartburn after Thanksgiving dinner, and especially when Aunt Mary brings her green bean casserole.

What most people don’t realize is that while everyone experiences noticeable symptoms of acid reflux from time to time—like heartburn, for instance—there can be more subtle signs of acid reflux, a condition also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

Below, you’ll learn more about acid reflux and its symptoms. Learn what to do if you suspect that you suffer from this condition and how to seek diagnosis and treatment. (more…)

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The Connection Between Sleep and Back Pain

In June 2015, we published a post that described how standing and sitting posture relate to back pain. We also outlined how to improve your posture and strengthen your core so you do not experience further discomfort.

However, even though you might have perfect posture while conscious, you may still have back and neck pain because of your sleeping position. When you sleep, you spend around eight hours in the same position. If you have improper posture during those eight hours, your back muscles may strain as a result.

Below, we’ll tell you how to maintain proper posture as you sleep so you do not have to worry about aches or soreness in the future. (more…)

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What You Need to Know about Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

The term “carpal tunnel” can strike fear in even the bravest of hearts. It causes constant pain that becomes debilitating and overwhelming.

But just what is it and what causes its symptoms? Keep reading to find out.

What Is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Your median nerve runs from your palm to forearm. This main nerve controls sensation for your palm, thumb, and fingers, excluding your pinky. Impulses that move the fingers and thumb also come from the median nerve, so its function is imperative for normal hand movement.

The carpal tunnel is a small passageway at the base of the hand. The median nerve runs through this narrow pathway. When tendons in the wrist become irritated or swollen, the carpal tunnel narrows, compressing the median nerve, and resulting in Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. (more…)

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The Best and Worst Footwear for Your Back

When you think of back pain, do you imagine something related to a sports injury or herniated disc? While these situations often bring patients into the doctor’s office, the pain could come from a less threatening source—your shoes.

Back pain is the number two reason individuals visit their doctors. As this pain represents such a common problem, it shouldn’t surprise you that it stems from something just as ordinary.

The reason lies in the fact that the foot acts as the foundation for the rest of the body. Whatever force you put on your feet ultimately makes its way to the back. Additionally, an issue with your feet can adjust your body’s entire alignment up through the spine. And improper footwear can make pre-existing foot problems even worse.

If you suspect your back problem’s cause rests on your feet, learn about the best and worst shoes below so you can find relief.


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4 Situations That Lead to Running-Related Back Pain

When you started running, you only needed to grab your shoes and your iPod before you left your house. Over time, you increased your mileage—and your gear. Now you carry a hydration pack, GPS, and snacks. With more miles comes more responsibility.

While you might hit the road prepared to hydrate your body and track your pace, you might not think about how to ready your body. If you start your run without thinking about the best way to prep your muscles and joints, you could encounter back pain.

Should you experience lower-back pain, read through the following situations to see if any of them sound familiar.

Situation 1

On your busy Saturday last weekend, you scheduled in an early-morning run before the sun came up. Although you covered a familiar path, you accidentally tripped on a curb—hard. Since you felt no immediate damage, you pressed on. However, in your current workouts, you notice a sharp pain radiating from your lower back and hip. Sometimes, the pain feels so intense, you can’t finish your runs.


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Four Life Improvements to Prevent Neck Pain

Anyone who experiences neck pain knows that it can be debilitating. This pain adds stress, worry, and irritation to your life. However, you can often avoid neck pain completely. Follow these tips to find some pain relief in your own life.

During Sleep

Many people experience neck pain simply from the way they sleep or the types of pillows they use at night. Your pillow should support your neck just as much as it supports and adds comfort to your head. According to research studies, the best kinds of pillows are those that naturally conform to your neck and head, such as memory foam and feather pillows.

Ideally, you should sleep on your back or side. When you sleep on your back, use a cervical pillow. This pillow type gives better support around your neck and aligns your neck with your spine. If you sleep on your side, you should never place your pillow too high or too flat. These positions cause your neck to bend unnaturally toward your mattress.

Not all sleeping positions are ideal. When you sleep on your stomach, you can cause your neck more damage than other sleeping positions. However, if you habitually sleep on your stomach you can use a very flat pillow or no pillow at all to keep your neck straight during sleep.


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Sit up Straight: 4 Ways to Improve Your Posture Now

In a recent infographic, we explored the extent of back and neck pain amongst America’s population. We also discussed poor posture’s contribution to this extensive problem. Many people spend between 10 and 15 hours every day sitting or standing with poor posture, and their backs and necks suffer as a result.

Below, we’ll outline poor posture’s effects on your spine in more detail. We’ll also give you tips on improving your posture so you can strengthen your body and mitigate pain today.

The Effects of Poor Posture

Poor posture has the following consequences:

  • It takes your bones and joints out of proper alignment, which means your muscles move improperly. And when they move improperly, they wear in unnatural ways. This incorrect use and wear often leads to joint pain and even degenerative joint arthritis.
  • It forces your muscles to work harder to perform basic tasks. Your body has to use more energy, so it tires out faster.
  • It puts more stress on the ligaments holding your spine’s joints. The stress puts you at a higher risk for back injury.
  • It constricts your lungs and core muscles, which means you won’t breathe or digest as efficiently. When you sit or stand straight, your lungs can pull more oxygen into your blood, boosting your body’s energy and overall health. Most people experience increased focus and memory as a result.
  • It adds several visual pounds. It may not add actual pounds, but poor posture often makes you look heavier than you actually are.
  • It negatively effects your balance and coordination. Your muscles need proper alignment and enough oxygen to function correctly, so poor posture could keep you from playing sports, hiking, and doing other physical activities.


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Stretch Away Your Back Pain with These 7 Moves

Do you suffer from chronic back pain? Did you sustain a recent injury on the tennis court or football field? Is your back still feeling the effects from a recent auto accident? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you’re familiar with the debilitating effects of persistent back pain.

Between maintaining proper posture, receiving massages, and visiting a chiropractor, you’ve taken a lot of initiative in trying to heal your back. And while these things certainly help alleviate pain, you might be missing a key piece of the recovery puzzle: stretching.

Why You Should Stretch

Your back is at the core of all your body’s movements. It allows your legs to walk, your arms to reach, and your head to turn. So when the muscles, ligaments, and tendons in your back experience pain and limitations, your whole body suffers.

Stretching helps combat these problems by:

  • Strengthening the core and back muscles
  • Realigning the musculoskeletal system
  • Alleviating back and neck pain
  • Increasing flexibility and range of motion
  • Reducing the risk of future back injuries


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How Can Physical Therapy Help Sciatica?

If you suffer from sciatica, the pain is hard to miss. In mild sciatica, all you may feel is a numb sensation or tingling in your buttocks and legs. However, in severe cases, you may feel incapacitated by shooting pains in the lower back and legs.

Sciatica’s Causes

Whether sciatica is bearable or unbearable depends on its cause, of which these are the most common:

  • Herniated discs – When a lumbar disc becomes misaligned in the spinal column, it is said to have slipped, ruptured, or ‘herniated.’ Discs herniate either from injury or progressive causes (usually genetic or age-based).
  • Spinal stenosis – As the body ages, the spinal column may undergo stenosis (abnormal narrowing). This causes soft tissue to impinge on the spinal column or nearby nerves.
  • Degenerative disc disease – Also related to age, DDD makes discs weaken and bulge over time. When this happens, the exposed discs press against nearby nerves, causing sciatic pain.
  • Sacroiliac joint irritation – If the sacroiliac joint presses against the L5 nerve just above it, this causes pain similar to sciatica.
  • Piriformis pressure – The piriformis is a buttock muscle. Occasionally, it can pinch the sciatic nerve root and cause pain that mimics sciatica.


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