About This Book

Inspiring Chicken Soup for the Soul stories and accessible leading-edge medical information from Dr. Julie Silver of Harvard Medical School. Many people suffer from back pain. The lucky ones have occasional flare-ups and the unlucky ones have chronic issues. This book is filled with great advice on how to care for your back, recover from injuries, improve your mobility, handle pain, manage chronic problems, and maintain a positive attitude.

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Five Tips to Overcome Back Pain

Inspired by Chicken Soup for the Soul: Say Goodbye to Back Pain!

By Dr. Julie Silver of Harvard Medical School

In Chicken Soup for the Soul: Say Goodbye to Back Pain!, Dr. Julie Silver says, "The vast majority of us will suffer from back pain at some point in our lives." Back pain can affect anyone, but the good news is that it can be overcome. Below, Dr. Silver provides common-sense tips to recover from injuries and maintain a healthy back; she uses examples from the stories included in the book.

1. Think like a doctor to get the right diagnosis. Back pain sufferers can live with chronic back pain for years, putting off seeking diagnosis and treatment. Understanding your anatomy and your symptoms the way a doctor does can help lead to the right diagnosis. "Finding the right diagnosis may be the key to getting targeted treatment that really works," Dr. Silver says. When Shawnelle Eliasen’s doctor prescribed physical therapy for her chronic back pain instead of surgery, she resisted. She thought surgery would produce faster results so she could resume taking care of her family. Her doctor was adamant that surgery was invasive and a last resort. Shawnelle was skeptical of physical therapy at first, but over time her back improved and eventually fully recovered.

2. Choose the right course of treatment and assemble your medical team. Once you know your diagnosis what do you do? Your physician can work with you to determine the best course of treatment and the professionals to help, ranging from neurologists, orthopedists, and neurosurgeons to physical and occupational therapists. Even though Diane Stokes was diagnosed with spondylolisthesis, she kept up an active lifestyle, with regular doctor visits and exercise. When encouraged to compete in a triathlon, Diane assembled her "Team Diane" of coaches, physical therapists, massage therapists, orthopedic doctors, chiropractors and an acupuncturist to successfully compete in the triathlon and several marathons, proving an active life doesn’t have to be put on hold just because of back pain.

3. Ward off back injuries and flare-ups with simple everyday tips. Taking care of the back is a daily process of developing regular habits to prevent future flare-ups. "Backs are a lot like teeth — taking care of them pays off but doesn’t prevent every problem," Dr. Silver writes. Having a strong core, not sitting too long in one place and employing relaxation techniques are simple strategies that can lead to good back habits. Jennie Ivey learned two easy ways to relieve her back pain when her mechanic recommended that she sell her worn out car. When she purchased her "new" car, she got it with only one perk: heated seats. She started using her heated seat year-round, taking brisk walks every time she parked at a new destination. Jennie found that her back improved noticeably as a result.

4. Use your mind to reduce pain. For some patients, other psychological issues such as anxiety, depression and worry may accompany back pain. Doctors may look to treat "cluster symptoms" to achieve a better outcome. "It’s important to recognize how these symptoms work together to make you feel really bad, or alternately if treated appropriately, really good," Dr. Silver says. James Daigh, for example, learned his journey to heal his back injury led to depression and a feeling of futility. He took up several hobbies, including painting, meditating, writing, and flying lessons to enjoy life despite his chronic pain.

5. Educate yourself about physical therapy or treatments. With today’s modern medicine there are more methods available to treat back pain and injury. Patients need to keep in mind that one treatment might work for one person but may not work for another. Some back injuries may require a combination of treatments. "Educate yourself about treatment options that may help you. And, when in doubt, get a second (or third or fourth) opinion," Dr. Silver advises. Annette Langer constantly battled neck pain. She met with a doctor who prescribed many different treatments that didn’t help, including steroid injections, electrical nerve stimulation, physical therapy, and acupuncture. When none of these relieved her pain, she decided to take matters into her own hands. She took all her medical data from the previous treatments and met with an orthopedic surgeon. The surgeon prescribed spinal surgery. After the surgery, she was pain free and could move her neck again.

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