Top Tips to Keep Your Spine in Good Health

The most talked about topic in the Regency era was good posture; crisp and upright. The slouching posture was frowned upon and with good measure because a straight posture signaled the fine condition of a person’s spine. The good news is that maintaining your spinal health today is not as tough as it was in the Regency era; no whalebone corsets or horseback riding is required. Today, scientific research suggests that the natural curve of the spine should be nurtured and taken care of, that too by a few lifestyle changes. A strong and supple spine can enhance the quality of life, especially during old age. An unstable, weak spine can contribute to lower back pain, compress nerves and can cause painful muscle spasms. A healthier spine is more flexible and can support a wide range of natural movements.

The key to approach “spine stability” is balance – through full engagement of the body’s core, from the abdominal muscles to the whole back.

Our team of experts at New York Spine & Sport Rehabilitation Medicine P.C. (NYSSRM), suggests these tips that can ensure good spinal health:

  1. Exercise

Regular exercise is crucial for a healthy spine. It can also help in the rehabilitation of an injured spine. Dr. Stuart McGill, an expert in spine biomechanics from the University of Waterloo, Canada, suggests the “big three” exercises to gain spinal stability. They are the side-plank, the bird-dog and the curl-up. These exercises engage all the essential core muscles to achieve spinal stability.

  1. Meditation

Research has shown marked improvement in patients with chronic back pain who practiced meditation. It releases tension in the taut muscles. Some people prefer a walk and others like to relax in a carefree environment, usually in nature. Whatever you prefer, the goal is to release the knot of stress and tension in your muscles.

  1. Posture

Work on your posture. A good posture supports all the natural curves of the spine. Bad and unnatural posture can affect these curves, causing damage to the spine and compressing sensitive spinal nerves. Only sitting over a long period of time can increase the load on the spinal discs by 40%. If you have a desk job, then ensure you take breaks from all the sitting.

  1. Walk

The simple act of walk has many benefits for spinal health:

  • Increased spinal stability
  • Improved balance
  • Increased flexibility
  • Strong bone structure
  1. Nutrients

Nutrient deficiencies can cause an array of bone and muscle diseases. The most common is osteoporosis in women and osteoarthritis in general. Foods in their original form are recommended. They are rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents. Nutrients such as Calcium, Vitamin D and other minerals can solve spinal problems. For more information on evaluating inflammation in body and anti-imflammatory food and

  1. Lift the Load Correctly

Lifting a load in an odd position can put stress on your spine and can cause disc slip or back pain. Lead the lifting from your hips and keep your chest forward while lifting the heavy load.

Physical therapy customized with one-one sessions and tailored to the patient is key for early pain relief, mobility and recovery.  Physical therapy is targeted to take the pressure of the spine pain area by using therapeutic exercises, depending on the spine condition diagnosed by our board certified MDs and specific to each patient’s pain tolerance.  After initial pain-relieving therapeutic exercises, stabilizing, core and strengthening exercises of the spine or joints with conditioning of the body is key for recovery and primary prevention of future spine and joint pain.  Patients are discharged with a home exercise program to manage spine or joint pain in future and overall physical conditioning is key for future recurrent episodes of spine or joint pain.   

Pain and Orthopedic Interventions:  If pain is overwhelming and patients are not able to tolerate or progress in physical therapy, our pain medicine MD specialists can evaluate and recommend interventional pain procedures to get to the source of pain and facilitate early recovery.

Most interventional pain procedures work better on acute and subacute pain, and not as much for chronic pain so early pain management is key.  Spinal procedures such as Epidural injections for sciatica or radiating neck pain, Facet blocks for spine pain, Kyphoplasty for vertebral compression fractures and other procedures work best, when patients undergo these procedures EARLY in their natural history of the start or worsening of their spine pain condition. 

Most muscle, joint, spine pain patients improve without need for  surgery or major interventions.  Imaging such as MRI is indicated early for medical illness of spine (infection, systemic illness), significant progressive neurological involvement and possible cauda equina syndrome

If immediate MRI or surgery is indicated, we work closely with surgeons to make an early referral. 

For chronic spine and joint pain solutions we may use Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA) a safe, effective and minimally invasive intervention using heat waves for unremitting spine (neck or back) or joint (knee) pain. 

Spinal cord stimulation is a neuromodulation program that uses mild modulating electric currents to stimulate certain nerve fibers in the spinal cord to block pain signals to improve pain.  If pain blocks (such as sympathetic, epidural and or other blocks as clinically applicable), other less invasive treatments and medications provided limited or short term relief, the patient can be a candidate for longer lasting therapy such as Spinal Cord Stimulation.

Our team of board certified physicians and licensed physical therapists at NYSSRM are dedicated to assure your pain condition is identified and managed early and appropriately to improve your quality of life.  We have Clinics situated in North Bronx, North Yonkers and Manhattan. We also accept most insurance plans and Medicare. Please visit our website to book your appointment or to contact us

Keep in mind where you receive your initial treatment for your pain condition will make all the difference in your future outcome!

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