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How to Embrace Self-Compassion and Heal Better

How to Embrace Self-Compassion and Heal Better

What is the role of self-compassion in well- being as people age? I am intrigued  by this question because there’s now growing evidence that seniors who are high in self- compassion will think of stressful events such as back injury in a way that will predict faster recovery. In short, they have learned  how to embrace self- compassion and heal better.

Tips on self-compassion
What Compassion Looks Like

To fully illustrate  what I’m talking about I will examine ambivalence  that  some elderly persons feel about aiding the healing process of their own back pain. I will explore why a senior with low self- compassion  may be resistant to being proactive in their own recovery while a senior with high self- compassion would gladly embrace it.

Before we jump in, let’s first describe what we mean by self- compassion. Self-compassion involves treating oneself compassionately—with caring, concern, and kindness—when problems arise in life, much like people treat loved ones who experience difficulties. [1]

Feel For Yourself What You Feel For Others and Heal Better

Tips on self-compassion
what self-compassion looks like

Kristen Neff, a well respected authority in the field of educational psychology, points out that “In the West, compassion is usually conceptualized in terms of compassion for others, but in Buddhist psychology, it is believed that it is as essential to feel compassion for oneself as it is for others.

 The definition of self-compassion, moreover, is not distinguished from the more general definition of ‘’compassion.’’ 

Understanding The Meaning of Your Own Suffering so You Can Heal Better

Thus, she defines self-compassion as “being open to and moved by one’s own suffering, experiencing feelings of caring and kindness toward oneself, taking an understanding, nonjudgmental attitude toward one’s inadequacies and failures, and recognizing that one’s experience is part of the common human experience” [2]

Learning to Let Go of Negative Emotions in Order  to Heal Better

This  is important because researchers in aging  have noted that many older people become self-critical and angry, castigating themselves, and bemoaning their inability to function as they once did.[3]

The good News About Learning to Heal

Studies have come out and  found that older people who were higher in self-compassion were more willing to ask people to repeat themselves when they could not hear what they said, and among people who had difficulty walking, those who were higher in self-compassion were more willing to use a walker. [4]

The Bottom Line

People who are high in self-compassion are more accepting of their physical limitations and more willing to take steps to maintain their well-being.[5]

This means that they are more willing to embrace any medical or non-medical therapy that will help them become more pain free.

Perceiving The Power to Heal Your Self Better

Tips on Learning to heal your self
Learning to Heal Your Self

This brings us to our the issue we hinted at in the beginning  of the post: how older persons  perceive the power they have or not have in terms of achieving recovery from an injury or condition such as back pain.

 We can now address how high and low self-compassion elderly make decisions about whether  the’ll be compliant when using interventions, such as balancing therapies and exercises, to speed up recovery or just give up in despair.

The Vital Elements of Self-Compassion

The 3 elements of Self-compassion That Will Make You Heal better

  1. Extending kindness and understanding to oneself rather than harsh self-criticism and judgement.
  2. Seeing one’s experience as part of the larger human experience rather than as separating and isolating
  3. Holding one’s painful thoughts and feelings in balanced awareness rather than over-identifying with them. [6]

What Self-compassion is Not

Before we go on, you should be clear about something: self-compassion is not based on performance or evaluating how good you are at reaching an ideal goal such as making more money, becoming smarter, or becoming  more liked. In short, it has nothing to do with narcissism or self-centeredness. It’s just a way to learn to heal yourself by extending to yourself  the same kind of understanding and support that you give to others.

The Implications of Using Self-Compassion to Heal Better

Here are The Implications  Using Self-Compassion to Heal Better

Tips on learning to heal
Learning to heal can be electrifying

Once you stop beating yourself up with negative emotions  you’ll allow room for positive emotions  to take over. Thus instead of thinking “I seem to have bigger problems than most people do” and “Why do these things always happen to me?” You’re more likely to  think something like “This isn’t any worse than what lots of other people go through.” [7]

Learning to Get Rid of Toxic Thoughts so You Can Heal Better

This allows you to experience  a mindfulness that  detaches you from self-judgement, and most likely  all the toxicity that goes with it.  For example it’s a known fact that  stress hormones secreted when a person is upset take hours to become reabsorbed in the body and fade away.

Connected to The Human Family

When you have high self-compassion you’re less likely  to live in isolation because you understand that you’re not the only one suffering from a condition like chronic back pain. You’re more likely  to reach out to others and that will give you the emotional  support that you need to boost your healing.

Avoiding Catastraophizing Your Condition so You Can Heal Better

The term catastrophizing is the process in which anxious people with a health condition dwell on the most extreme negative consequence conceivable. The bottom line is that pain is treated as being extremely threatening. Thus, for example, a person who has fallen won’t venture out of the house out of fear that they’ll fall again and experience  pain. A person with high self-compassion is less likely to have catastrophizing thoughts.

Conclusion

When thinking about self-compassion one may be tempted to think this is just another way of taking about self-esteem. Those were my initial thoughts, but I was wrong. Self-compassion is not judgmental. This means just it can not produce a narcissistic individual by exaggerating one’s sense of importance, it can not also build one’s ego by some type of emotional  pep talk. Self-compassion is purely  about extending compassion to yourself.

A logical question than is whether self-compassion downplays or ignored negative facts about a stressful condition such as back pain. No, it just treats those facts in a compassionate  way.

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I like to hear from the readers so please leave me a comment below to let me know if this post helped you or if you have any questions.

 

References

1

The Gerontologist, Volume 54, Issue 2, 1 April 2014, Pages 190–200

2 

Neff K. D. (2003a). The development and validation of a scale to measure self-compassion. Self and Identity , 2, 223–250. doi:10.1080/ 15298860309027

3

Mirowsky J. Ross C. E . (1992). Age and depression. Journal of Health and Social Behavior , 33, 187–205.

4

Allen A. B. Goldwasser E. R. Leary M. R . (2012). Self-compassion and well-being in older adults. Self and Identity , 11, 428–453.

5

Leary M. R. Tate E. B. Adams C. E. Batts Allen A. Hancock J . (2007). Self-compassion and reactions to unpleasant self-relevant events: The implications of treating oneself kindly. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology , 92, 887–904.

6

 

http://self-compassion.org/wptest/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/empirical.article.pdf

7 Ibid

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How to Relieve Back Pain at Work and Win

How to Relieve Back Pain at Work and Win

How to relieve back pain at work is a question that more and more people are asking themselves. Perhaps you are one of them. This post will help you find the answer.

Tips on Back Pain at Work
Back Pain at Work

However, before I go on I want to ask you another question. Are you familiar with BDRQ? If not, let me start by defining it for you: It refers to The Back Disability Risk Questionnaire for Work-Related, Acute Back Pain.

 The BDRQ is “a brief (16-item) patient questionnaire that provides a self-assessment of factors related to prognosis for work-related back pain. Factors include background demographics, physical health risks, workplace factors, pain, mood, and expectations for recovery.” [1]

What This Means to You in Learning How to Relieve Back Pain at Work

The reason I wanted to define it and  why you need to know about this is, as I said,  work related back pain is a growing concern that might  effect you or someone you care about. You need to be aware of tools, such as the BDRQ, that can  help you understand factors that are associated  with return to work among people with back pain.

Here’s what I mean:

Imagine that you have a great job, and then out of no where you have the bad fortune of suffering from back pain.

Freaking mind game, that’s like being stuck in a hotel with all the people that you can’t stand  in your life and there’s no way out. So, it’s bad enough that this condition is messing with your head and it’s literally  a pain—if not in the butt, close enough. Now you have to mange it so it doesn’t risk your job. How are you going to do that?

Here is Where The BDRQ Comes in

It will help you assess if you’re on the brink of chronic pain and disability. This is a big deal because it means you can stop things from becoming worse by a change in behavior. It can mean the difference between  having an annoying back problem which you can manage and keep working or something that can put you out of commission and a job.

Tips on Back Pain at Work
When Back Pain at Work Becomes Disastrous

This is How it Works to Relieve Back Pain at Work

It is designed to be administered within the first 14 days after pain onset, and takes into consideration all work place factors with a 3 month follow up. This way concerns about stress, re-injury, RTW( return to work) that might increase the risk of persistent  back pain can be addressed. For more information on RTW check out: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RTW_PlaceRite_Alternative_Return-To-Work

Consider these examples:

Not reporting injury.  Hesitance to report a work-related pain problem out of concerns of unfair treatment or diminished opportunities for advancement.

 In other words, someone may not  tell the boss that they  are having problems with their back for fear of being overlooked for promotion. On a cold practical  level this is foolish because most workers’ compensation claims have a deadline by which paper work has to be submitted. On  a more human level there’s some thing very important to consider.

 

 Most of the time the boss would’ve offered to temporarily reduce the physical demands  of the job and made RTW a lot easier. A BDRQ  would have caught the problem and there’s growing evidence that in most cases the employer would have taken steps to ensure a stressless transition injury to work. Feeling that you are useful is a big step in ensuring a faster recovery.

Relationships with coworkers. One of the things that a BDRQ will pick up is your relationships with supervisors and coworkers who might provide assistance and advice. [2]

Tips on relationships at work
Hands of friendship

 If you have have established  relationships with those that worked with or supervised your pre-injury, they might provide opportunities  for you to have alternative work until your back heals. This is much better than going at it alone and working in pain.  For more details look at the video  above.

Expectations  of Recovery. People  who fear returning to physical work will lead to more serious injury, may develop a similar problem as seniors  who, having fallen, develop a fear of falling and are in greater risk of falling.

 So too may a worker with the fear of injury  increase his or her absence  from work. This may in turn  delay recovery. A BDRQ would detect this emotional  obstacle  to returning  to work and perhaps one would realize that they need help to device a coping strategy that would aid their  recovery.

 

Tips on getting back to work
Recovering to Get Back to Work

The bottom line is that one needs to be emotionally  invested in  his or her  own recovery and believe that they can in fact get better.

No Experience for Alternative work. It’s great if one is given the opportunity  to do alternative work that is less stressful on their back, giving it time to heal.

 What if one just doesn’t have the experience  to do alternative work? One can ask for the opportunity to train in a new department. 

Most organizations will allow that for a worker in good standing. A BDRQ would have allowed a person to know such a fact as it relates to his or her company.

Conclusion

Going back to work after a back injury is a scary  and confusing thing. Without an intervention  strategy from the time of the initial injury to the  follow up period, usually 3 months, one may not on their own be able to identify  the emotional  factors that will make a transition to  recovery easier or harder.

 A tool such as a BDRQ is  a powerful  and effective way for someone to give themselves the best chance of success because it catches what was missed in the initial  medical diagnosis. It’s not the only tool out there, but it is the one that is focused on showing people  how they can learn to relieve back pain at work.

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I like to hear from the readers so please leave me a comment below to let me know if this post helped you or if you have any questions.

Reference

1

Shaw WS, Pransky G, Patterson W, Winters T. Early disability risk factors for low back pain assessed at outpatient occupational health clinics. Spine. 2005;30: 572–580.

2 The Back Disability Risk Questionnaire for Work-Related, Acute Back Pain: Prediction of Unresolved Problems at 3-Month Follow-Up

William S. Shaw, PhD

Glenn Pransky, MD, MOccH Thomas Winters, MD, MPH

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How to win at Alternative Therapy for Pain

How to Win at Alternative Therapy for Pain

I almost couldn’t believe what had happened: My mom’s eyes had swollen to the point where one of her eyelids was almost covering her entire  eye.

Tips on Herb-Drug Interaction
Confused Man

 

No, it isn’t.

I’m sure you can just imagine how I felt. I was scared. It  turned  out that some herbal tea she had drunk  a few days before had reacted badly with her medication and caused poor mom to look like a one-eyed creature.

Herbal Tea as Alternative Therapy
Cup of Herbal Tea

And that’s the day I realized I needed to find out more about the problem of alternative medication—especially herbal therapies– when mixed with traditional  drugs.

Curious About Herb-Drug Interaction
Curious Man

 

I’m glad you asked. Here is the scoop.

It took some digging  and a lot of follow up research, but I got the information  that may be useful to you if you are taking care of an elderly person who  wants to know how to win at alternative  therapy like spinal manipulation.

Tips on Alternative Therapy
Alternative Therapy

You see, interactions between herbal medicines and synthetic drugs exist and can have serious clinical consequences.

The good news is that one can learn to better understand the possibility  of herb-drug interactions and come up with a strategy where they can still safely pursue alternative  therapy for back pain. One can learn how to win at alternative therapy for pain.

Let’s jump in…

Nearly One-Third of Elderly Use Alternative Therapy for Pain

Almost one-third of elderly people use some form of alternative medical therapy, according to a  1999 national telephone survey released by The Family Practice News [1]

This confirmed the findings of earlier research . In the USA, one study found that the use of alternative medicine had increased from 34% in 1990 to 42% in 1997. [2]

Here’s more…

The most common therapy used by the elderly  was chiropractic, reported by 11% in the mentioned telephone survey. [3] This will be very important later, but first let’s look at the problem of herb-drug interaction.

Let’s talk about Ginkgo and Warfarin

Two herbal supplements in particular, ginkgo biloba and garlic, have demonstrated effects on warfarin

Ginkgo  increases small-vessel and cerebral artery blood flow. It has reputation for enhancing memory and cognition. This is why some older people may want to use it–the same patient population most likely to be taking anticoagulants.

Here’s The kicker:

Ginkgo and garlic, contain naturally occurring anticoagulants (e.g., coumarins) that will increase the anticoagulant effects of drugs like warfarin. [4]

Here’s The Deal:

Warfarin extends the time it takes for blood to clot and inhibits the pathological formation of blood clots within blood vessels by reducing concentrations of factors within the plasma that contribute to clotting.

In plain English this means that Ginkgo combined with warfarin can promote internal bleeding that can lead to a intracerebral hemorrhage.

The Bottom Line is This:

intracerebral hemorrhage occurs when a diseased blood vessel within the brain bursts, allowing blood to leak inside the brain. (The name means within the cerebrum or brain). The sudden increase in pressure within the brain can cause damage to the brain cells surrounding the blood. If the amount of blood increases rapidly, the sudden buildup in pressure can lead to unconsciousness or death [5]

You can read more about here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intracerebral_hemorrhage

Consider the following case:

A 40-year-old woman was admitted to the hospital with an acute subdural hematoma. There was no history of head trauma, falls, alcohol abuse, or bleeding disorders… After questioning, it was discovered that she had been taking 40-mg ginkgo tablets twice daily for the past 2 months to assist while studying. Her family continued to give her these tablets while she was in the hospital, saying that they were “just herbs.” Once ceased, the blood results returned to normal, and the patient was discharged more fully informed about adjunct drug therapies. [6]

Now  we know the danger of mixing herbal therapies with synthetic drugs such as warfarin. Lets get back to the notion that the most common  alternative therapy used by the elderly, according to the mentioned study earlier,  is chiropractic.

In other words we are talking about the spinal manipulations. This makes sense because there is  convincing  evidence that  manipulation and mobilization are likely to reduce pain and improve function for patients with chronic low back pain

This is the problem:

According to Dr. Foster of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston:

“The elderly are more likely than younger patients to be taking medications that interact with herbal therapies and are more likely to have skeletal problems that make spinal manipulations more dangerous”. [7]

This simply means that the alternative therapy  of manipulating your spine to relieve pain could instead have disastrous effects if one does it combing drugs with a herbal remedy like Gingko.

It Gets worse:

About half of adults in the United States use an herbal product, and many do not tell their doctors that they do because they believe their doctors would disapprove.[8]

The result is that the doctor, not seeing the patient get better, may increase the dose of the prescription drugs. And then what happens?

You guessed it. The herb-drug interaction worsens the patient’s condition even more.

Here is The Good News:

A Consumer Reports survey found that only about 5% of physicians are against using herbs; indeed, one in four users of an herbal product does so on advice of a doctor or nurse. [9]

This means the key to understanding  how to win at alternative therapy for pain is to simply  get your doctor  or nurse involved and let them guide you as you switch from pills to an alternative therapy like spinal manipulation.

Conclusion

In general I’m an advocate of people using natural remedies  to manage pain when appropriate. If you have  followed my website you know that I have covered many alternative therapies to managing pain.

That said, I see it as my mission to provide honest answers as to the best ways for people to keep their  loved ones and themselves safe and healthy. This means that while I encourage people to embrace the “back to nature” approach I don’t want them to make the mistake of thinking that “natural “ drugs are always better than synthetic drugs.

Most times they are, but sometimes they are not. And certainly mixing both can be a very bad idea. When in doubt check with your doctor. You would be surprised that they too want you to understand how to win at alternative therapy for pain.

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https://healthybacksupport.com/shop

 

I like to hear from the readers so please leave me a comment below to let me know if this post helped you or if you have any questions.

 

References:

1

Barbara Baker. “Nearly One-Third of Elderly Use Alternative Care.”

Family Practice News. 29.15 (Aug. 1, 1999): p29.

2

https://www.medicalnewsbulletin.com/why-do-people-use-herbal-medicine/

3

Ibid

4

Walsh, Nancy. “Gingko Raises Risk of Warfarin Bleeds.” Internal Medicine News, 1 Oct. 2001, p. 9.

5

http://www.strokecenter.org/patients/about-stroke/intracerebral-hemorrhage/

6

Evans, Vicki. “Herbs and the Brain: Friend or Foe? The Effects of Ginkgo and Garlic on Warfarin Use.” Journal of Neuroscience Nursing, Aug. 2000, p. 229

7

Barbara Baker. “Nearly One-Third of Elderly Use Alternative Care.”

Family Practice News. 29.15 (Aug. 1, 1999): p29.

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How to Have an Awesome VLog That Stops Falls

How to Have an Awesome VLog That Stops Falls

The best advice I ever heard about blog writing was from phenomenal blogger Chris Brogan who said:

“Forget about finding  your voice. Find a solution to someone’s problem”.

Want to know more?

This is how he puts it. Imagine that you’re in the mood to buy Thai food.

Tips About VLog
A Plate of Thai Food

You go in and the service isn’t that great, maybe it even sucks.  But….

Tips About Vlog
Woman Enjoying Cup of Coffee

You may never go back to that restaurant, but you did get the Thai food  that you wanted. Problem solved.

Here’s Something to Think About:

You go to another  another restaurant. The customer  service  is first rate, the ambience is fantastic, and the place is clean enough  to make Chef Ramsay  proud. However..

Tips About VLog
Angry Woman Wants her Thai Food.

They don’t have Thai Food. No one there has a clue as to what Thai food is. No one has an answer to your problem.

This got me thinking about posts that I have written that have specific  information on how you can prevent an elderly parent from falling. So here is how to have an awesome vlog that stops falls.

Let’s jump in

Home Tech That Prevents Falling

Falls are a leading cause of injuries and injury-related deaths in people over 65 years of age [1]

This is why WiGait is a home tech that remains one of my favorite discoveries. Why?

It offers a solution to a very devastating problem—how to prevent an elderly parent  from falling when he or she is along in the house. This is a big relief if you are someone who is constantly worried about your mom,  dad, or  another older relative  taking a fall that they may not survive?

Here is The Deal:

Falls occur mostly in dynamic conditions [3]. This means in order to prevent someone from falling you need the ability to assess if there is instability  in their  gait and if that instability  puts them at risk of taking a life ending fall.

This is why  I was absolutely blown  away by the genius and compassion of WiGait.

Here is how WiGait works:

WiGait, a wall-mounted device is the size of a small painting,  measures  the walking speeds of multiple people. This means if mom or dad are constantly missing a step or steps when they move, that can be detected and fixed in time to stop a fall.

Want to Know The Best Part?

WiGait is designed to use about one-hundredth the amount of radiation of a typical smartphone. So if dad or mom is the kind that worries about all that radiation that we are getting from our technology, they can relax. And you will too.

Making Your House Fall Proof

Helping people transform unsafe spaces into healthy places for the elderly is one of my passions. After all, I am a caregiver for a mom who suffers from chronic back pain and has problem with balance. Making sure she feels safe is something that I constantly work at.

Unsafe physical environment may include poorly designed stairs, uneven ground, slippery surfaces, tripping hazards, lack of illumination, and absence of grab bars. That said,  many seniors need to overcome their  fear of falling. Fear of falling can cause them to stop doing and that can lead to stop living. We don’t want that for mom and dad. Thus, you should  make your home safer and that will lead to more confidence. More confidence means less fear.

 

Using Tai Chi to Prevent Falling

Yinong Chong, PhD, instructor at the Traditional Chinese Culture Institute International in Bethesda, Maryland, refers to Tai Chi as being “like a walking meditation”. [5]

Remember our discussion about WiGait above? We made the point that the elderly  can sometimes miss a step or two when walking and that  can result in a fall. Tai Chi helps prevent falls because as Dr. Chong explains: “you practice slowing down and balancing, so you don’t get ahead of yourself when you’re moving.” [6]. This results in no miss steps. This results in no falls.   So if your mom or dad needs to find a solution that slows their  steps and gives them a more fluid way to move that will ensure more stability in their gait, Tai Chi seems like a great option.

How Not to Land on Your Ass in The Bathroom

One of the things that my mom, a back pain sufferer, looks forward to everyday is taking a warm soothing bath. So I can easily believe that bathing is described by older adults as an important and meaningful activity. My mom always talks about  the pleasure and relaxation that she derives from bathing.

That said, one of the most common reasons for bathing disability is fear of getting stuck in the bath or slipping and getting into or leaving the bathing position. One great solution, in addition  to grab bars, is the bath seat.  What I liked about this mobility aid is that it eliminated the fear of going to use your own bathroom without someone helping you. In a word, it gave the elderly bathroom independence. I think that’s an amazing thing.

Become More Secure With a Security Pole

One of the questions that I get asked a lot about mobility aids is whether they are meant to support the entire weight of an individual  or  just meant meant to help achieve steadiness?

Some will support the entire weight of an individual but others like The Security Pole are not intended to carry the full weight of an individual. This product is only intended to provide balance and support while sitting and standing. Nevertheless, I feel this mobility  aid plays an important role in the mission of fall prevention.  It provides easy transfer from sitting position to standing, and that can  boost confidence and take away the fear of falling. I think that’s a very actionable solution.

Conclusion

I hope you enjoyed this vlog about preventing falls. Each video addressed a solution to the problem of elderly balance and risk of falling. You should now have a very comprehensive view on the topic and actionable solutions.

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I like to hear from the readers so please leave me a comment below to let me know if this post helped you or if you have any questions.

Amazon Affiliates Disclosure

Healthybacksupport.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com Certain images that appears on this site comes from Amazon Services LLC. Amazon. This content is provided ‘as is’ and is subject to change or removal at any time.

References

1.

ReferencesWorld Health Organization [WHO]. Falls. 2016. Available from: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs344/en/.

2.

Rubenstein LZ.  Falls in older people: epidemiology, risk factors and strategies for prevention. Age Ageing 2006;35: 37-41. doi: 10.1093/ageing/afj018

3.

McArthur C, Gonzalez DA, Roy E, Giangregorio L. What are the circumstances of falls and fractures in long-term care? Can J Aging 2016;35: 491-498. doi: 10.1017/S0714980816000556 27745566

4.

Feldman, Fabio, and Habib Chaudhury. “Falls and the physical environment: a review and a new multifactorial falls-risk conceptual framework.” Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy, vol. 75, no. 2, 2008, p. 82+

5

“Try Tai Chi for better balance: the ancient Chinese art of Tai Chi (“tie-chee”) is an especially good way for older adults to exercise for cancer prevention and reduce the likelihood of falls. Two Tai Chi experts tell us how this gentler form of weight-bearing movement can help prevent injuries and improve quality of life”

American Institute for Cancer Research Newsletter. .111 (Spring 2011): p11.

6

Ibid

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How to Have Amazing Laughter Exercises That Empower The Elderly

How to Have Amazing Laughter Exercises That Empower The Elderly

Tips About Yoga Laughter Exercises
Yoga Laughter Exercise

Yes, Columbo

Tips About Yoga Laughter Exercises
Columbo is Thinking

 

Why Would They?

Tips About Yoga Laughter Exercises
Columbo Has it Figured

You got it. Here ’s The Deal:

Laughter Yoga For Seniors is an Example of How to Have Amazing laughter  Exercise to Empower Elderly

Developed by Madan Kataria, MD, a physician based in Bombay, India, laughter yoga is a fun new way to help participants destress while getting a workout. The whole concept of group laughter  exercise, according Kataria, is based on yogic breathing methods designed to produce unique physiological balances by connecting mind, body and spirit. [1] Dr. Kataria is also creator  of the Laughter Club—where, you guessed it, people engage in big laughs while exercising—funky chicken or hokey pokey anyone?

Tips on Yoga Laughter Exercises
Woman laughing

Seniors who have improved their  mental health, aerobic endurance, and confidence  in their ability to exercise do  3 things well:

First, they know how to stick to exercises.

Maintaining the motivation to adhere to regular physical activity is a challenge for many older adults.

Second, they know how to elevate their mood. “Laughter Yoga can change your mood within minutes by releasing endorphins. This makes you feel good and keeps you cheerful throughout the day.” [1]

Third, they have learned to expand their   comic vision, which  is the ability to perceive the humor around us. “Maintaining a comic vision retains a sense of control and keeps us from being overwhelmed by stressful events.” [2]

The rest of the post will expand on these ideas to show how  to have amazing laughter exercises that empower the elderly

But Here’s The Kicker:

Despite the health benefits of physical activity and the risks of physical inactivity, many adults don’t engage in sufficient physical activity to achieve health benefits.

As a friend of mine, a retired Rehab nurse points out, “I am one to also encourage the elderly to exercise. However, sometimes no matter what you do or say, some just will not do it. I do not stop promoting it though! I fully believe in how exercise can help the elderly.”  She goes to explain that she has “seen firsthand how exercise promotes independency especially after a trauma, stroke, joint replacement or brain injury. It is amazing.”

Here is The level of Exercise The Elderly Need to Keep Healthy

Adults should participate in a minimum of 30 minutes of physical activity at least five days a week to achieve desirable health outcomes, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services’ 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines. [3]

Here is The Bottom Line About The Type of Exercise Program The Elderly Will Stick to

Physical Activities programs that elicit positive emotions through simulated laughter have the potential to improve health, physical performance, and self-efficacy for PA among older adults and may positively influence participant adherence.

This is how it works:

The pleasant associations with laughter may add enjoyment to an  exercise program and keep older adults motivated to work out, the researchers noted, in the paper published in the journal The Gerontologist. [4]

Tips on Yoga Laughter Exercises
Curious Columbo

That’s not a problem, Columbo. Here is the scoop:

For six weeks, the participants in the study attended two 45-minute physical activity sessions per week that included eight to 10 laughter  exercise lasting 30 to 60 seconds each.

The result is that the participants  had a good time and finished the program.

Act As Though Things Really Are Funny is a way for Seniors to elevate their  moods.

Think about this:

The older we get, the more responsibilities we take on, the more stressful life becomes and the less we seem to laugh. Things we once thought were funny just aren’t anymore. Maden Kataria  puts it this way: “.. even pretending to be amused can brighten your day.”

He tells of an actress who played a very sad role for 10 years and started having different physical ailments, including depression. After ruling out any physical cause, her physicians determined that her acting role was contributing to her ill health.

They recommended that she quit the part and switch to comedy. Once she did, she noticed a gradual lessening of her symptoms! This case led to the Laughter Club’s basic philosophy, which is to “act happy.” In other words, fake it. Or as Kataria advises: “Fake it ’til you make it!” [6]

Expanding Your Comic Vision—Finding Humor All Around  You

Imagine the typical reaction of an elder person who trips and almost falls. At best he or she may be embarrassed, and at worst he or she may develop a fear of falling and avoid any physical activities. This may, and sometimes does, result in social isolation. Social isolation can lead to loneliness and that can lead to such conditions as back pain.

Then again, one can see himself as a modern Dick Van Dyke and have a good  laugh. This is what we mean by comic vision. As Carrie Myers Smith,an exercise physiologist and freelance writer, points out: “ It is common knowledge among humor professionals that children laugh approximately 400 times a day. Adults? Only 15 times! When I get stressed out, I sit back and watch my young sons. Sometimes, I don’t even have to be in the same room; I just sit and listen. Kids are such natural comedians!”

Tips on Yoga Laughter Exercises
A Childish Laugh

Think about when you were a kid. Remember how your parents just shook their  heads at the darnedest thing that tickled your funny bones? For example, moving like your  favorite animal. Older people who have expanded  their comic vision have the same ability as kids to find humor in almost anything.

For more information check: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laughter_yoga

 

Conclusion

As the Rolling Stones pointed out, getting old is a drag.  Most people find very little humor in getting older. They know they should exercise but it’s easier to just say the hell with it. Yoga Laughter exercise changes a person’s perception  of physical  activities from being a burden to something fun that can be shared with friends. Know any good jokes?

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I like to hear from the readers so please leave me a comment below to let me know if this post helped you or if you have any questions.

References

1

Laugh yourself fit. (Wellness) Carrie Myers Smith IDEA Health & Fitness Source. 20.3 (Mar. 2002): p 63+

2

“Laughter-based exercise may boost health in the elderly.” IANS, Sept. 2016

3

Witkin, Stanley L. “Taking humor seriously.” Social Work, vol. 44, no. 2. 1999, p. 101+

4

“Laughter-based exercise may boost health in the elderly.” IANS, Sept. 2016

5

Ibid

6

Laugh yourself fit. (Wellness) Carrie Myers Smith IDEA Health & Fitness Source. 20.3 (Mar. 2002): p 63+

7

Ibid

Posted on

How to Create Best Exercise Program For The Elderly

How to Create Best Exercise Program For The Elderly

Regular physical exercises seem to be one of most important habit for living a healthy and joyful life. Physical activity has both health promoting and disease prevention properties

Photo of Elderly Woman Exercising
Elderly Woman Trying Best Exercise

If you asked any doctor  if elderly patients should exercise, the consensus  is yes.

Exercise improves flexibility, mobility, and cardiovascular and respiratory function. It decreases body fat, increases muscle and skeletal mass, lowers pulse and blood pressure, improves lipid profiles, and serves as non pharmacologic therapy for constipation. [1]  How to create the best exercise program for the elderly is becoming  a bigger issue as more of the elderly want non-pharmaceutical measures to help them deal with the emotional effects and weakening body that comes with aging.

Exercise for The Elderly Replaces Medication

According to a report by Swedish National Institute  of Public Health, physical activity in the prevention and treatment of disease was completely comparable to those obtained from pharmaceutical treatment.

Also, “one advantage of physical activity as a treatment compared to medication is that physical activity makes patients feel actively involved in their own treatment and encourages them to take personal responsibility for their own health.” [2]

Adherence to Exercise For The Elderly

This report was borne out by a study that focused on the effects of an exercises regimen on the elderly. It found improved fitness and appearance, weight loss, increased energy and better eating habits realized through their exercise regimens motivated the participants to continue with an exercise program.

Exercise also improved some participants’ confidence, sleep patterns, depression, tension, ability to cope with stress, concentration, mood, alertness, appetite and stress level, leading them to continue exercising. [3]

For more information check https://www.physio-pedia.com/images/2/25/Swedish_Strategy.pdf

The Need to Find Best Exercise Program For The Elderly

When dealing with older people, however, sometimes special approaches  are required both for assessing their exercise needs and for guiding them into an appropriate exercise regimen. Some elderly people feel uneasy going to a gym, while others consider it a great opportunity  to socialize with fellow peers. Thus this question arises: What is the effectiveness of gym-based exercise versus home-based exercise with telephone follow-up amongst adults with chronic conditions who have completed a short-term exercise program supervised by a health professional?

Let’s jump in

The participants were recruited following a 6-week exercise program at a community health service. Intervention: One group of participants received a gym-based exercise program for 12 months (gym group). The other group received a home-based exercise program for 12 months with telephone follow-up for the first 10 weeks (home group) [4]

Gym-Based Exercise Program as Best Exercise Program For Elderly

Woman Exercising at The Gym
Woman Exercising at The Gym

The elderly participating in the gym-based  intervention were given a 12-month ,  exercise program that suited their  individual needs. The whole set up was supervised by a physiologist from the community health service from Monday to Friday for 2 hours per day. This meant that there was a person present at the gym with whom the participant already had a pre-established relationship from when they had completed the initial short-term supervised exercise program.

The prescribed exercise included strengthening, aerobic and stretching exercise components. The strengthening component involved 40 minutes of six to eight strength training exercises for the upper and lower body (eg, leg press, calf raise, bicep curl, triceps push-down, lateral pull-down, chest press or scapula retraction) using pin-loaded resistance equipment, unless contra- indicated. The aerobic compo- nent of the exercise involved up to 15 minutes of stationary bike, treadmill or cross trainer. [5]

Home-Based Program With Telephone Support as Best Exercise Program For Elderly

The participants  who used a home-based intervention were also given a 12-month exercise program focused on their individual needs.

This is how it worked. Mom or dad was encouraged to complete a 1-hour exercise session, three sessions per week, at home. They would be supervised via five telephone calls over the first 10 weeks, approximately 25 to 30 minutes in duration.

The five phone calls took the same amount of time to that spent supervising each participant in the gym over a 12-month intervention period. In a word, mom and dad didn’t get short-changed. There was also consistency. The same exercise physiologist who supervised the gym-based program did the same for the home-based program.

The exercise prescription aimed to be comparable to that of the gym-based program. It also adhered to the American College of Sports Medicine guidelines for chronic health conditions, with strength, aerobic and stretching components comparable to the gym-based program. [6]

Some Things to Think About

Friendship Scale. This is a short and user- friendly instrument that measures six dimensions contributing to social isolation and social connection. A score between o and 24 is obtained; higher scores indicate less social  isolation. In short it measures loneliness and the ability to interact with others.

 

A Photo of People, Friends, Fists, Over Desk
People

For example, having to go to the gym forces people to leave their house, which has potential mental health benefits from experiencing new environments or being exposed to sunlight while traveling to the gym. Remember that sunlight helps with Vitamin D deficiency.

One would not be surprised than to learn that the gym-based group exercise may improve mental health outcomes slightly  more. Yet overall, there was no real measurable  differences of outcomes between the two approaches.

You may be wondering how that could be possible? Even if the physical  outcomes were the same, wouldn’t be lessening isolation by going to the gym be a better psychological out come?

The answer is a big yes if you only used a measure such as the Friendship Scale—meaning how many people is someone connecting with outside the house. However, one can look at something like the Lubben Social Network Scale LSNS-6 which measures social network size. The LSNS-6 is a validated instrument designed to gauge social isolation in older adults by measuring the number and frequency of social contacts with friends and family members and the perceived social support received from these sources. More and more seniors are connecting with their  friends and family through social networks. It’s likely that telephone conversations with the physiologist spurred them to report their progress to friends by telephone  or social  media as a way of getting a psychological  boost.

Women Social Network
Women Social Network

Conclusion

A final note, the gym-based exercise program was more costly compared with home-based exercise with telephone support. So if one is living on a fixed income but feels the need to stay healthy and fit, going to the gym is not the only option. This post examined  the feasibility  of the elderly participating  in a home-based exercise program with telephone support. It is not only possible and cheaper but in some cases a more practical  solution than going to the gym. It’s an example of how to create best exercise program for the elderly.

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I like to hear from the readers so please leave me a comment below to let me know if this post helped you or if you have any questions.

References

1

Ettinger, Walter H., Jr., et al. “Exercise for the elderly.” Patient Care, 15 Apr. 1989, P. 165+

2

“People Who stop Exercising Lose Long-Term Mood-Enhancing

Benefits.” Obesity, Fitness & Wellness Week, 31 Mar. 2001, p. 10

3

https://www.physio-pedia.com/images/2/25/Swedish_Strategy.pdf

4

Ettinger, Walter H., Jr., et al. “Exercise for the elderly.” Patient Care, 15 Apr. 1989, P. 165+

5

Ibid

6

Ibid

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How to Stop Nurse CLBP With Mind-Body Exercises

How to Stop Nurse CLBP With Mind-Body Exercises

Chronic low back pain (CLBP) among nurses is a growing health concern. According to the American Nurse Association, 52 percent of nurses report experiencing chronic back pain. [1] How to stop nurse CLBP with mind-body exercises is something I’ve been thinking about ever since I had a conversation with a nurse friend of mind who injured her back pulling a patient back up who was leaning out of a bed. First a few facts you should know.

Nurse practicing Yoga
Nurse and Yoga

Nursing is the fifth largest occupation in the United States (U.S.) and ranks as the largest of the healthcare professions. [2]

Since back problems in nurses are so prevalent, if you are a nurse  you may wonder what the options are for treatment other than surgery. As one noted doctor  puts it :

“In the end, no matter what type of back specialist you choose, be sure to choose one that is dedicated to conservative measures first. From stretching to adjustments to decompression therapy, the solution for back pain isn’t always spinal fusion surgery. In fact, it very rarely is the answer.” [3]

As one registered nurse puts it:

“…more and more working nurses (both shift workers and non) are finding there is a need to engage in some form of mind-body practice in the workplace. Calming the mind and rejuvenating the body is highly effective practice, can enhance the work experience, and may prevent burnout in the long run. After all, when work stress takes its toll on the mental self, it begins to undoubtedly affect the physical body as well.” [4]

Yoga and Tai chi are two increasingly popular mind-body exercises that show promise for the management or treatment of low back pain. Yoga aims to improve physical and emotional balance through the use of postures and breathing techniques. Tai chi, a practice based on slow intentional movements, often coordinated with breathing and imagery, aims to strengthen and relax the physical body and mind [5]

This is How The Mind -Body Exercise  of  Yoga  Stops CLBP

Even if you’re not a nurse, the video below will show you how to regroup and recharge your spirit and body as necessary for your sanity.

LBP has been associated with weakness in the lower extremities, and several studies have shown that Yoga can increase muscular strength and joint flexibility among patients with low back pain [6]

Mind-Body Exercise of Yoga Stops CLBP by Reducing Stress

Consider this account from a nurse who felt the stress of the job.

“ I was a nurse. I liked caring for people, and I felt proud to do the job. But it was also an extremely stressful job, I was constantly extremely anxious with the pressure. What if I make a medical mistake? what it my patient dies? what if… It’s well know that nurses are very busy with lots of patients and work to do… The stress of the responsibility and constant worry over how many patients I had, and whether I could get all my work done in time, whether iI might make a mistake… it was destroying me.”—Nurse From On The Job Stress Forum

Two published studies evaluating eight-week interventions of yoga exercises among nurses with stress. Results showed that nurses had significantly lower levels of stress and significantly increased confidence in their ability to cope at treatment conclusion (8 weeks) and long-term follow-up (12 months). [7]

Mind-Body Exercise of  Tai chi Stops CLBP by Improving Core Strength

Lets be real. Because of the constant crazy schedule, some nurses may step outside during their break to consume loads of junk food, and that may result in unhealthy weight gain and a weak core. Tai chi is  effective in improving core strength because the core area of the back plays an important role in supporting most of the movements. A strong core means less load on the spine and less chance of back pain.

Nurses are like shock absorbers. They absorb the entire negative aura from the environment and from the people in the work place. [8]

The Faces of The Nurses

Nurse describing pressure of job
Nurse describing pressure of job
A nurse describing her mission
A Nurse describing her mission

 

Conclusion

This would be an incomplete post if I didn’t acknowledge the busy and unusual work schedules  of nurses. As one nurse states, “You may be asking yourself, how can I ever practice yoga when call lights are beeping, doctors are calling on the phone, and families and patients are restless for answers?”  Well, what if on yoga and /or tai chi was at the worksite? This would be a perfect integration of  physical health and emotional  wellness. While you certainly have learned a lot about nurses and mind-body exercises to stop back pain. We’ve only really just scratched the surface when it comes to the larger issue of nurses and CLBP. And that’s why I’d like to conclude by pointing out a resource you can use to help you get a very comprehensive view of this topic. Thanks for checking in.

If you want to learn more about nurses and CLBP at the job, then you’ll want to read http://www.nhnurses.org/documents/announcement-flyers/alert.pdf

 

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I like to hear from the readers so please leave me a comment below to let me know if this post helped you or if you have any questions.

References

1

http://allnurses.com/general-nursing-discussion/hurt-back-here-983278.html

2

Occupational Employment and Wages, http://www.bls.gov/news.release/ocwage.htm.

3

http://allnurses.com/general-nursing-discussion/hurt-back-here-983278.html

4

http://www.workingnurse.com/articles/Yoga-for-Working-Nurses

5

P. M. Wayne and T. J. Kaptchuk, “Challenges inherent to T’ai Chi research: part I—T’ai Chi as a complex multicomponent intervention,” Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, vol. 14, no. 1, pp. 95–102, 2008.

6

K. A. Carneiro and J. D. Rittenberg, “The role of exercise and alternative treatments for low back pain,” Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Clinics of North America, vol. 21, no. 4, pp. 777–792, 2010.

7

C. D. N. Rasmussen, A. Holtermann, O. S. Mortensen, K. Søgaard, and M. B. Jørgensen, “Prevention of low back pain and its consequences among nurses’ aides in elderly care: a stepped-wedge multi-faceted cluster-randomized controlled trial,” BMC Public Health, vol. 13, no. 1, article 1088, 2013.

8

http://allnurses.com/critical-care-nursing/nurses-burnout-707058.html

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How to Make Your House Fall Proof

How to Make Your House Fall Proof

It’s a frightening fact: Each year, one-fourth of all persons age 65 to 74 and one-third or more of those age 75 and older report having fallen[1].  About two-thirds of older people who fall suffer another fall within the next 6 months, and this can lead to psychological  fears of being left alone.  This pain related fear can only make things worse.

An elderly woman struggles getting down the stairs
Fear of Falling

Approximately 15% of falls result in physical injury serious enough to warrant medical attention [2]

A Man Haven Fallen Down The Stairs
Falling Down The Stairs

Once more, 5 to 10% of these lead to serious injuries (eg, head and soft tissue trauma and musculoskeletal sprains) and the remaining 3 to 5% resulting in bone fractures.[3]

That’s a lot of people with  a balance problem, isn’t it?

And yet most people completely ignore these statistics. They just don’t want to think about the possibility of a   catastrophic fall  happening to them or a loved one. But just ask the large number of  people who are  affected by this mobility problem, and they’ll tell you that it can and does happen. And they’ll also tell you the best thing you can do is be prepared.

That’s what this post  is about.

In just moments you’ll find out how to protect yourself or a loved one from becoming a statistic. Read on…

Fall Proofing Home to Stop Fear of Falling


Falls often lead to a fear of falling. This is bad news in terms of one’s recovery because such fear can   decrease mobility and independence particularly if an older person loses confidence in the ability to perform activities. Up to 50% of those who have fallen admit to avoiding activities because of fear of further falls or injury.[4]

How Pain Related Fear Worsens Condition

In terms of back pain, this means pain related fear makes  one not go outdoors unless accompanied by another person and perhaps limit the number of baths he or she takes, because the  bathtub is “too dangerous.”

The Benefits of Eliminating Pain Related Fear

If one can lessen  or eliminate his or her pain related fear to falling, then he or she will be inclined to engage  in physical activities  that will improve their  condition. Making  your house fall proof will go a long way in establishing  confidence that will lessen pain related fear.

Tips to Stop Falling and Deal With Pain Related Fear

Here Are Some of  the Things you can do to fall proof your  house. They may  reduce the hazards that can cause a loved one to  fall at night on their  trips to the bathroom, or just making their  way around the house when you are not there.

Eliminate Lighting Problems. Imagine your poor mom, dad, or other elderly relative rushing out of bed and having to deal with a bedroom and narrow  hallway that are poorly illuminated. This greatly increases a chance of a fall. Make sure there is easy access to switches or lamps in the rooms or hallway. I am constantly checking the light bulbs in the hallway to ensure that mom, who suffers from back, pain has no problems reaching the bathroom.

Decrease Light Glare. The opposite problem of having not enough light is obviously having too much light. Lighting glare can make elderly people dizzy. Eliminate glare from light bulbs by using light shades or bulbs. In addition to those steps, you can do the following:

1. Replace Sliding Throw Rugs. That’s exactly what  I did when Mom almost  took a spill like she was on an ice rink. If you can’t bring yourself  to get rid of the rug because it has some sentimental  value—hey, it happens—you can tape a nonskid pad underneath.

2. Get Rid of The Slippery Steps to Steps. Let’s face it. For elderly people with a balance problem, steps can be dangerous.  Apply nonskid threads.  They can also save you from landing on your butt.

3. Make Shower floor Safer. Replace slippery mat on  tub   with a nonskid rubber floor for tub.

4.Use a Reacher  Device. You don’t want mom or dad, with their  bad back, standing on an unstable chair or stool in order to get something beyond their reach.

5.Tape Down All Carpet Curling. The last thing you want is for mom or dad to get their  foot caught in one of those annoying carpet curls that just won’t stay down. Hey, it might save you from falling—just saying.

6.Apply  Color Tape For Better Visibility. Hey, you can’t take a stop sign to mom and dad when you want them to avoid a carpet in repair.  That would be so uncool not to mention disrespectful. However, you can use color contrasting tape to let them be aware of any potential  problem. Do it.

7.Replace The Armless chair Armrest.Provide chairs that give more support.

8.Low Toilet Seat. Replace the too low toilet seat with an elevated seat.

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It’s time for your loved ones to stop having a fear of falling.  For more information                           

 

 

I like to hear from the readers so please leave me a comment below to let me know if this post helped you or if you have any questions.

 

Conclusion

As you can imagine, falls have a devastating psychological  impact on the whole family. The sight of finding a loved one lying on the bathroom floor is very stressing. To make things worse, often the family member who has fallen develops a fear of falling and begins to restrict his or her activities. The unhelpful avoidance  of movement and activities may only prolong the recovery. The aim of this post was to give tips on eliminating  the fear of falling, and make it possible for a loved one who has suffered a fall to have the confidence to assume daily  activities that can aid healing.  There is also preliminary evidence that pain- related fear predicts new back pain episodes in pain-free people. So there is reason for all of us to understand the impact that pain related fear has on our ability to recover from injury.

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References

  1. Tinetti ME, Speechley M, Ginter SF. Risk factors for falls among elderly persons. N Engl J Med 1988; 319:1701-7.

2

Ibid

3  Nevitt MC, Cummings SR, Kidd S, Black D. Risk factors for recurrent falls: A prospective study. JAMA 1989; 261:2663-8.

4

Rachman, S. (1998). Anxiety. Psychological Press, Hove.

5

Journal of Behavioral Medicine, Vol. 30, No. 1, February 2007 (⃝C 2006) DOI: 10.1007/s10865-006-9085-0

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How Smoking Can Cause Spinal Fusion Failure

How Smoking Can Cause Spinal Fusion Failure

Smoking killed my mom’s older sister, Aunt Bertha. Even now, so many years later, my mom still remembers with a hurt heart  my Aunt Bertha’s last days on Earth. Even as her face turned blue from the lost of oxygen and her lungs were dying, my aunt still wanted her cigarette. Her death was not peaceful. My aunt Bertha’s story is not unique, but fortunately  more people are becoming aware  that cigarette smoking is associated with an increased risk of lung problems. However, most people don’t know that smoking is also bad for your bones and can result in such things as spinal fusion  failure.

A Man Prepares For Surgery
Stop Smoking Before Surgery

Here Are Some Stats to Think About

Currently, there are more than 50 million smokers in this country, and approximately 800 billion cigarettes are smoked each year. Smoking is now the leading avoidable cause of morbidity and mortality in the United States. According to one report, over 500,000 deaths per year in the United States alone can be attributed to smoking[1]

However, how smoking can cause spinal fusion failure is also becoming a major issue for those needing back fusion surgery.

This post examines the issue in depth with the hope that if you or a loved one is in need of a spinal fusion surgery you understand completely  how smoking can effect  the outcome.

With that said, let’s jump in and discuss what exactly is spinal fusion surgery?

Spinal Fusion shown With Rods
A Spinal Fusion

In that procedure, surgeons remove discs between two or more vertebrae. The bones in the spine are then attached with hardware and treated with growth factors. As the spine heals, new bone begins to form, and the vertebrae fuse together.[2]

 

Orthopedic  Patients and Spinal Fusion Surgery

It’s becoming increasingly clear that orthopedic patients who smoke have worse outcomes than those who don’t. The clinical effects of  smoking on bone and wound healing include longer times to union, higher rates of nonunion, and higher rates of infection and wound complications.[3]

Here is an Illustrative Story of a Smoker With a  Spinal Fusion Problem.

“I had spinal fusion on L4/L5 with bone graph and cadaver bone. I’m almost 3 months post op. While I feel better I still have pain and have muscle spasms. My Dr. said my fusion is not fusing . My hardware is 4 screws and 2 rods. I did smoke until weeks b4 surgery and quit..well I started back (5 cigarettes a day)”—smoker from spinal fusion forum

In a study of more than 75,000 Canadian adults, daily smoking was associated with increased odds of having chronic LBP; this is consistent with the results of similar studies that were conducted in the USA [4]

At Jefferson Medical College/Rothman Institute, reviewed several studies that highlighted the effects of smoking on fracture healing, reconstructive procedures, and wound healing.

” Smoking is the only significant predictor of nonunion in open tibial fractures,” said Dr. Hilibrand. “Spinal fusion studies have found higher nonunion rates among smokers, compared to nonsmokers. [5]

 

3 factors That May Determine How Smoking Prevents Fusion of The Spine

  • Low Level of Vitamin D
  • Smoking reduces bone mineral content
  • Smoking accelerates spinal degenerative processes [6]

In the last post I covered how Vitamin D Deficiency can cause back pain. Well, researchers  have found that the main risk factors for inadequate   Vitamin D were smoking.There is now enough evidence that shows a link between low Vitamin D and poor outcomes following spinal fusion. In other words, the vertebrae didn’t fuse. The evidence is so strong that some doctors are recommending that patients having orthopedic surgery ensure they’re getting enough  vitamin D.

Smoking  Can Cause Spinal Fusion Failure by Reducing Bone Mineral Content

Smoking has been shown to adversely affect bone mineral density, lumbar disk disease, the rate of hip fractures, and the dynamics of bone and wound healing. I should point out that  scientific and clinical information on smoking and its consequences suggests differing degrees of correlation between smoking and orthopedic conditions. Some studies say there is a strong correlation and some say the correlation may not be impactful on some people. most available data however do suggest a real and reproducible relationship between smoking and slow bone healing. In a word, smoking makes it much harder for a spine to fuse.

Effect of Nicotine on Spinal Disc Cells: a Cellular Mechanism For Disc Degeneration

When studies confirm that smoking is a strong risk factor  for back pain, the most widely accepted explanations for the association between smoking and disc degeneration is malnutrition  of spinal disc cells. In other words, nicotine, a constituent of tobacco smoke, present in most body fluids of smokers may be the culprit  that prevents nutrients from reaching spinal disc cells. In essence, the bone graft does not get enough nutrients due to a lack of blood supply and, therefore, does not grow and cannot form a fusion.

Return-to-Work Study of Smokers Vs. Non-smokers

A study by Glassman, Anagnost et al. (200) investigated the effects of smoking and smoking cessation on spinal fusion out comes. As part of their analysis, they looked at the return to work rate in smokers versus non-smokers, all of whom had s successful spinal fusion surgery ( they had a solid fusion). The investigators found the following return to work rates:

  • 51% for patients who never quit smoking before or after surgery
  • 68% for patients who quit smoking for longer than one month after surgery
  • 77% for patients who quit smoking for longer than 6 months after surgery
  • 71% for patients who were non-smokers [7]

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Conclusion

I don’t want anyone walking away feeling that this post offers a conclusive  connection between smoking and  lower back pain. The truth is that  few reports have demonstrated a definitive   relationship between  smoking dose and lumbar disk herniation (LDH), a cause of lower back or sciatic pain. There are other factors to  also consider such as how big, how tall, how strenuous  one works. One has to also look at the contribution of genetics to LBP. This post was focused more on the risk of smoking as it relates to spinal fusing. Smoking has been found to accelerate the rate of disc degeneration and this might contribute to ongoing spine problems even after a spine fusion. If you or a loved one is in need of spinal fusion surgery,  the doctor  may have to postpone the operation.   I present this information so that you or a loved one takes the time to stop smoking  before the due date of the operation and perhaps 6 weeks after the operation.

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I like to hear from the readers so please leave me a comment below to let me know if this post helped you or if you have any questions.

References

1

J Am Acad Orthop Surg. 2001 Jan-Feb;9(1):9-17.

The musculossleletal effects of smoking.

Porter SE, Hanley EN Jr.

2

Kelly, Frank B. “Ask, advise, refer to improve surgical outcomes: perioperative smoking cessation forum reviews the evidence” AAOS NOW, 2012, p. 1+

3

“LOW Vitamin D Common In Spine Surgery Patients.” States News Service, 3 Nov. 2111

4

http://www.cimonline.ca/index.php/cim/article/view/6924/3908

5 See Note 2

6

Chiang, Shang-Lin, et al “Cigarette smoking dose as a predictor of need for surgical intervention in patients with lumbar disk herniation.” Journal of Medical Sciences, vol. 34, no. 1, 2014, p. 23.

7

https://www.spine-health.com/wellness/stop-smoking/reasons-quit-smoking-spinal-fusion

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How Vitamin D Deficiency Can Cause Back Pain

How  Vitamin D Deficiency Can Cause Back Pain?

Does this sound familiar ? Your back is killing you even though  you’re sticking to your exercise regimen and physiotherapy. I mean you have done   the heat and ice thing, and still your back hurts.  What gives? You might be suffering, especially if you are an older woman, from Vitamin D deficiency. Doctors have revealed that “ 83% patients who experiencing back pain with no obvious causes for more than six months have an abnormally low level of the sunshine vitamin”. [1] In this post I’ll examine the question of how Vitamin D  deficiency can cause back pain, and what you can do about it.

A woman touches the area of her back where she feels pain
This woman is showing the location of her pain

So, without further introduction, let’s jump in with a discussion of what exactly is Vitamin D deficiency.

What is Vitamin D ?

This is a photo Showing Vitamin D Capsules Pouring Out of a Brown Bottle
A Bottle Pouring Out Vitamin D Capsules

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, which means it is stored in the body’s fatty tissue. People normally get Vitamin D through exposure to the sunlight, which triggers Vitamin D production in the skin.

How Can You Have Vitamin D Deficiency?

Vitamin D is the only vitamin made by your own body. Other vitamins, like A, B, and C only come from food and supplements. You probably don’t get enough vitamin D if:

  • You spend little time in the sun or use a strong sunblock
  • Have very dark skin
  • Have certain medical conditions such as diseases of the digestive system that interfere with fat and vitamin D absorption
  • Are very overweight, because vitamin D can get “trapped” in body fat and be less available for the needs of the body [2]

Overweight and Vitamin D Deficiency

Photo of a Man in Red Tee Shirt and Blue Pants Bending Over From Back Pain
An overweight man bends over from back pain

This point is worth examining further because  it happens to a lot of people, especially women. Here is an account, by the Times of India, that speaks directly to the issue. It is reported by spine surgeon Shailesh Hadgaonkar on a patient named Meena. “ Meana (34), an engineer and mother of two children, was disabled with significant back pain after the second child’s delivery. She was overweight and slightly depressed with disabling back pain.”[3]

Doctors started her on a program of weight control, medication, and physiotherapy. She did regular walks, spine-strengthening exercises and aerobics. She lost a good amount of weight. Doctor Hadgaonkar also noted that Meena “…also had vitamin D deficiency causing fatigue and pain, which was corrected with good sunlight exposure for 20-30 minutes for 4-5 days a week and some medications.” [4]

Stress Symptoms Reported by People With Vitamin D Deficiency

A recent study of patients being treated for Vitamin D deficiency reported the stress levels as follows:

  • 95 Vitamin D deficiency patients reported severe stress (31%)
  • 100 Vitamin D deficiency patients reported moderate stress (37%)
  • 73 Vitamin D deficiency patients reported mild stress (24%)
  • 19 Vitamin D deficiency patients reported no stress (6 %) [5]

Pain Symptoms Reported by People With Vitamin D Deficiency

A follow up study of patients being treated for Vitamin D deficiency reported the pain levels as follows:

  • 538 Vitamin D deficiency patients reported severe pain(30%)
  • 679 Vitamin D deficiency patients reported moderate pain (38%)
  • 356 Vitamin D deficiency patients reported mild pain (20%)
  • 171 Vitamin D deficiency patients reported no pain (9%) [6]

Fatigue and Depression symptoms showed similar results to the two studies above. Meaning  more people experienced  severe or moderate fatigue or depression than those that experienced mild or no symptoms. The link with depression was also reported in the May 2008 issue of Archives of General Psychiatry–among 1,282 men and women ages 65 to 95, Vitamin D levels were 14 percent lower in those with depression. [7]

With depression, the fact that Vitamin D aids calcium absorption may be a factor. Calcium deficiency has been linked to depression and study participants who were depressed had higher levels of parathyroid hormone (PTH), which can indicate low calcium. [8]

Treatments taken by people with vitamin D deficiency—Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol)

Vitamin D3 is the form of Vitamin D called cholecalciferol. Cholecalciferol is the most widely known of the Vitamin D series and is a fat soluble vitamin that is stored to some degree in the body. It is used as a dietary supplement, for the treatment of Vitamin D deficiency, or to prevent a deficiency.

Most popular supplements are: Spring Valley Vitamin D3 Nature’s Way Vitamin D3 and Kirkland Signature Vitamin D3

Women and Vitamin D Deficiency

As I stated in  the beginning of this post, women, especially older ones, tend to experience  pain at a greater level than men. According to an article in the may issue of  Journal of The American Geriatric Society (Vol 56, No 5), lower concentrations  of Vitamin D are associated with significant back pain in older women but not in men in the same age group.[9]

A Difference Between The Sexes and Vitamin D Deficiency

The study’s goal was to examine associations between Vitamin D status and musculoskeletal pain in older adults and whether they differ by sex. Results showed 58% of the women had at least moderate pain in some location, compared with 27% of the men. However, Vitamin D deficiency was not associated with lower extremity pain or dual-region pain, although it was associated with a significantly higher prevalence of at least moderate back pain without lower extremity pain in women but not in men. Researchers say the gender difference in the results may be due to women being at higher risk of osteomalacia–softening of the bones due to low Vitamin D, which commonly presents as chronic low back pain.[10]

The bottom line is this, because Vitamin D deficiency and chronic pain are fairly prevalent in older adults, the researchers say these findings suggest it may be worthwhile to query older adults about their pain and screen older women with significant back pain for Vitamin D deficiency.

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Conclusion

As stated before, most of our Vitamin D comes from exposure to sunlight. However, as we age our skin synthesizes Vitamin D less efficiently. Once more, if you’re confined to your home, or you live in northern latitudes where there’s less sunlight, you’ll be at greater risk of low Vitamin D levels. This means you might need Vitamin D supplements. The recommended daily intake for Vitamin D is 400 international units (IU) at 50-70 years and 600 IU at age 71 and older. That said,  you should always check with your doctor because  excess vitamin D can cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

I like to hear from the readers so please leave me a comment below to let me know if this post helped you or if you have any questions.

 

References

1

“suffering from nagging back pain? Better to check vitamin D count.” Times of India, 18 Oct. 2017

2

https://www.hormone.org/diseases-and-conditions/bone-health/vitamin-d-and-calcium

3

“suffering from nagging back pain? Better to check vitamin D count.” Times of India, 18 Oct. 2017

4

Ibid

5

https://www.patientslikeme.com/

6

https://www.patientslikeme.com/

7

“vitamin D may be ‘the vitamin of the decade’.” Food& Fitness Advisor, Aug. 20008, p. 1+

8

Ibid

9

“suffering from nagging back pain? Better to check vitamin D count.” Times of India, 18 Oct. 2017

10

Ibid