Tips For Avoiding Back Injuries at A Desk Job

main stretching backSitting at a desk all day while on the job may not seem like a risk for acquiring a back injury. The truth is that it’s not just those who work at physically demanding jobs who end up with bulging discs and spinal stenosis. Even typing on a computer for hours by its sedentary nature can put you at risk for back troubles. Here are a few tips for avoiding back pain if you sit most of the day at a desk.

Learn Proper Sitting Posture: If your back, ears, shoulders, and hips aren’t properly aligned, you may experience back strain. Sit with these body parts evenly lined up and be sure you keep your feet flat on the floor and not crossed over one another. You can either sit back in your chair this way or move forward to the chair’s edge; as long as you stay aligned and don’t slouch.

Move Around: It’s important not to just stay in your chair for hours at a time. Get up every 30 minutes. Get a cup of coffee, visit the restroom, or just walk in a circle around the office. The important thing is to change it up every so often and prevent slumping in your chair.

Look Over Your Workspace: Make sure your desk chair is at the right height so you can use your keyboard without hunching over your shoulders. The computer monitor should be at eye level and right in front of you so you don’t have to turn your neck. The same is true of the distance of the monitor from your body. If it’s too far away, you may be stretching your neck to see it, which is not good. Move everything you use regularly on your desk to within comfortable reaching distance so you can maintain your posture. You’ll want to adjust your chair, the computer monitor, the telephone, and whatever else you need nearby to do your job.

Have The Correct Equipment: If you know your back isn’t feeling comfortable in the chair you have, you may need more back support. Perhaps your feet aren’t properly aligned and you need a small footstool. If your monitor is too low for your eye level, it may need to be raised. Whatever your situation is, make you get the right equipment to lessen your risk for back injuries. Speak with someone in your human resources department to see if the items you need are already available. If not, ask for help in obtaining what you need to do your job well and cut down on doctor and insurance costs in the long run.

Suffering from back and neck pain can occur, even at a desk job. If you are suffering from chronic pain, call Dr. Solomon Kamson, MD, PhD, at the Spine Institute Northwest today to schedule your consultation. Dr. Kamson will be able to accurately diagnose your issues and provide you with alternative solutions that are minimally invasive in nature. Contact the Spine Institute Northwest in Bothell, WA, at 206-496-0630 for more information.

Are Epidural Steroid Injections Right For You?

If you suffer from lumbar spinal stenosis, you are probably familiar with the pain that radiates down your legs. This pain can make it difficult to walk and even harder to just stand still. Stenosis is what happens when an enlarged facet joint or a bone spur compresses a spinal nerve or nerves. The pressure on the nerve sends pain signals to the leg or the part of your body that this particular nerve operates.
man with lower back pain
Some patients with spinal stenosis who visit us at the Spine Institute Northwest in Bothell, WA, are able to deal with their pain using conservative treatments such as exercise, behavior modifications, massage, and other techniques. Other people, though, end up requiring a stronger type of intervention so they can get on with their lives without constant pain interfering.

Lumbar spinal stenosis causes pain on the lower portion of the back. It can also cause leg cramps and pain when standing for long periods of time. Certain bending movements or sitting down may decrease your pain, but not for long.

Epidural Steroid Injections

Although these types of injections are minimally invasive, they are considered to be a conservative therapy for managing stenosis pain. A physician may inject a corticosteroid, which is an anti-inflammatory medication, into your disc area along with a local anesthetic. This combination injection can reduce pain and inflammation at the area where the nerves are being compressed. This solution may just be short-term for some patients, perhaps just a few weeks in time.

A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2014 found no significant difference in self-reported pain relief between patients getting this injection combining steroids with pain relievers and others who were just injected with a pain medication alone. An epidural injection can be used to help diagnose issues in addition to relieving pain in the short-term. A physician like Dr. Solomon Kamson, MD, PhD, at the Spine Institute Northwest, will administer the epidural steroid injection guided by fluoroscopy based on your MRI imaging. If the patient’s pain is relieved, even if for less than a month, the prognosis may be good if minimally invasive surgery is chosen to relieve the nerve pressure.

If you are experiencing symptoms associated with spinal stenosis and lumbar pain, you may wish to find out whether an epidural injection is right for you, or if a minimally invasive surgical procedure, such as an endoscopically guided spinal decompression, is a good option. Contact Dr. Kamson at the Spine Institute today to make an appointment for your consultation by calling one of our patient advocates at (208) 496-0630.

How a Microdisectomy Can Get You Up to Speed Again

golf back painAfter professional golfer Tiger Woods underwent a minimally invasive microdisectomy in 2014 for a pinched nerve near his spinal cord, he was back on the golf course a few months later to play in the Quicken Loans National in Bethesda, Maryland.

Tiger Woods had been in constant agony prior to undergoing this surgery, one that is often performed by Dr. Solomon Kamson, MD, PhD, at the Spine Institute Northwest. Woods could no longer perform normal, everyday activities, leading him to get advice from other athletes, such as Tony Romo of the Dallas Cowboys, who had successfully undergone an endoscopically-assisted procedure for a herniated disc.

If you are suffering from numbness, weakness, and/or pain in your back or leg, you may be a candidate for a minimally invasive microdisectomy. A pinched nerve is also commonly referred to as a herniated disc. When you have a herniated disc, as Tiger Woods did, your pain may begin in the spine and then radiate down one or both of your legs. You can also experience a decrease of feeling in your leg, have tingling sensations, or feel weakness in your muscles. After getting up from a prone position, your pain may become worsened.

Dr. Kamson may advise patients who are experiencing this type of pain from a herniated disc to undergo a minimally invasive procedure called a microdisectomy. This procedure is often performed when your pain is stemming from nerve damage in the lumbar spine. The microdisectomy takes the pressure off the nerves in this area to relieve your pain.

During a microdisectomy, Dr. Sol Kamson will use an endoscope guided by a needle and Laser and Radiofrequency (RF) technology to repair the bulging disc from inside your body with just a small incision necessary to insert the scope. Tiny amounts of soft tissue and bone that are compressing the nerve and causing pain are extracted during the procedure. The entire surgery takes about 90 minutes for each vertebrae level being worked on. Although most patients opt for local anesthesia for this minimally invasive procedure, general anesthesia is needed for cervical decompression surgery.

For active patients who participate in sports regularly and are dealing with spinal and other sports-related issues, the Sports Medicine Clinic at the Spine Institute Northwest in Bothell, WA, also offers patients innovative treatment options. Contact Dr. Kamson today to schedule a consultation and learn more about how a microdisectomy can get you back in the game.

The Facts about Degenerative Disc Disease

senior coupleAs your body ages, you may begin to experience problems with your back that can be traced to the beginnings of degenerative disc disease. With time and normal daily use, the inter-vertebral discs in your spine start to deteriorate. This deterioration can end up causing you pain, weakness, and numbness.

Although it’s called degenerative disc disease, this condition is not actually a disease in the way we normally would think. The changes that take place in your spinal discs as you age are considered normal wear and tear. Your inter-vertebral discs work to absorb shock for your spine, letting you more easily bend, flex, and twist without pain. These discs contain fluid in their centers that help with this shock absorption, keeping stress and bumps from harming your spine. As you get older, however, some of that helpful fluid that provides cushioning is lost.

The annulus is the outer layer of each of your spinal discs. It’s composed of a strong ligament in order to hold your vertebrae in place. Your annulus can be damaged if too much pressure or an injury occurs affecting your spine. The loss of water within your discs also puts stress on the annulus, causing some vertebrae to shift closer to one another. This compression of your discs causes facet joints to move.

The resulting disc pain can be felt right in the area where your damaged disc exists. Sometimes, however, you’ll feel pain in other parts of your body due to the nerves that extend from your spine to your arm, leg, shoulder, or other areas. Degenerative disc disease can cause extreme pain that may lead to different levels of disability due to people avoiding making movements that they know will cause them pain. With intervention from an experienced spinal physician such as Dr. Solomon Kamson, MD, PhD, of the Spine Institute Northwest, you can discover ways to overcome your pain with a variety of treatments, procedures, or therapies.

Dr. Sol Kamson helps patients who are experiencing painful symptoms of degenerative disc disease by ensuring they receive an accurate diagnosis and an appropriate pain management plan. Dr. Kamson has years of experience diagnosing and treating cervical, thoracic, and lumbar spine conditions. Some of the ways in which he aids patients suffering from degenerative disc disease may include regenerative medicine using stem cell therapy and/or a minimally invasive surgical procedure.

Contact Dr. Kamson at the Spine Institute Northwest in Bothell, WA, today for your consultation concerning degenerative disc disease.

Spine Institute Northwest’s YouTube Channel: How We Helped Patients

Dr. Solomon Kamson at Spine Institute Northwest invites you to listen to patient testimonials and discover more about minimally invasive surgical techniques that can help relieve your persistent back pain. It’s time to get back your life and stop living in pain. The relief you seek is close at hand, without months of lying prone during post-surgical recovery.

Tune in to SpineInstituteNW on YouTube to hear about our actual patients’ experiences and satisfaction after undergoing a number of different treatment options with Dr. Sol Kamson, a Spine Institute Northwest physician.

Real Patients Tell You Their Stories

Once you meet with Sol Kamson, you will understand that you have chosen the right path for finding a solution to your chronic pain without having to endure invasive open-back surgery. Before or even after meeting with Dr. Kamson, though, take a look at the many YouTube videos our patients have made to share their stories and the success they’ve found with the help of Solomon Kamson MD PhD.

One recent patient, Anita, is a 44-year-old dental assistant who has endured neck and arm pain for the last 15 years. After trying weekly massages, acupuncture, and meeting with a surgeon who recommended she undergo three fusion surgeries, Anita decided she did not want to go this aggressive type of treatment. Nor did she want to continue with treatments that weren’t helping her pain in the long run. Instead, she met with Sol Kamson, who recommended decompression with stem cell therapies to help her get her life back on track.

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Work-Related Back Pain in Heavy Equipment Operators and Delivery Drivers

Dr. Solomon Kamson of Spine Institute Northwest (SINW) in Bothell, Washington frequently treats patients who have suffered back injuries from performing work that taxes the body, especially the lower back. These workers, which include delivery drivers and heavy equipment operators, are exposed to more risk factors that may lead to back pain and musculoskeletal disorders such as extended hours sitting in awkward positions, exposure to vibration, and being in non-natural positions for hours at a time. Work-related injuries (such as back disorders) are seen as more common in the construction industry for these exact reasons. The National Institute for Occupational Safety has conducted studies to assess the impact of risk factors for workers operating heavy equipment. Traditional open back surgery, while effective at treating injuries, would mean extremely complicated procedures requiring extended recovery times. Using state-of-the-art minimally invasive techniques, the Spine Institute Northwest can significantly reduce patient downtime after their procedures. Minimally invasive back surgery requires only very small incisions and can be performed in outpatient settings, not requiring extended hospital stays.

Read these testimonials of five different cases where minimally invasive surgery helped them get their lives back when traditional back treatments could not.

Heavy Equipment Operator Penny Schwegel Gets Relief From Sciatic Pain

Penny, who operates the largest excavator for a mining firm in Alaska, believes her sciatica, which had been giving her trouble for nearly a decade, was made worse by the constant vibration from sitting in the machine for more than 12 hours at a time.

Cortisone shots were effective at managing the pain at first, but over time their efficacy wore off. A lumbar fusion procedure at SINW in December 2016 finally gave her the relief she was looking for.

Truck Driver Braun Hudson’s Battle With Paralyzing Back Pain

Braun, a truck driver from Washington who worked 6-days a week doing deliveries, finally felt the effects of his job on his body one day in 2015 when he found that he could not move his legs at all.

Being very skeptical of the merits of continuing pain medications just to manage his pain and traditional open back surgery, he opted for treatment at the SINW instead where Doctor Kamson recognized the gravity of his situation immediately.

“Dr. Kamson was surprised how I was even walking,” Braun recalls. After a lumbar decompression, the pressure on the nerves of his spine was relieved which completely addressed the pain.

Daniel Schamlzried: Herniated Disc Fixed

Years of working tough jobs including logging ,ranching, labor work, mining and truck driving took a heavy toll on Daniel’s back.  Told by doctors that open back surgery was not even a option for him at his age, he did some research on laser spine surgery instead. Diagnosed at SINW with degenerated disc that was causing his pain, a spinal fusion was performed on Daniel’s back.

Against the odds and against the outcomes predicted by other physicians, Daniel was able to find lasting pain relief for his back problems thanks to minimally invasive surgery.

Darrel Lewis – Sciatic Nerve Problem

Repetitive motions from his driving and delivery job such as lifting, pulling, and just getting off and on the truck, coupled with sciatica gradually made Darrel’s pain worse and worse. It got to a certain point where Darrel knew he had to do something, as the pain was affecting his relationship with his family and his ability to be effective at work.

This prompted Darrel to reach out to Spine Institute Northwest where he underwent a minimally invasive procedure for his back. Much to his surprise, the procedure only required a very small incision.

Chris Catron – Years of Intensive Labor Wrecked My Back

Doing heavy labor work while young and supporting a family ate away at Chris’ quality of life. Like many of the other patients at Spine Institute, Chris Catron ignored his back pain until it was too late. And as with other patients, he tried to address the pain through painkillers and physical therapy. His search for a permanent solution led him to Spine Institute Northwest and minimally invasive surgery where Dr. Kamson was able to fix his back through minimally invasive surgery.

Mark Tidball: Two Decades of Pain

Mark had been dealing with pain for almost 20 years prior to his procedure at SINW. His back pain he attributes to a job he held long ago that required some heavy lifting. Having witnessed the good work that Dr. Kamson had performed on his wife, Mark set up an appointment to have his own back looked at.

The source of Mark’s problems turned out to be a collapse of the discs in his lower back – essentially his vertebrae were grinding against each other (bone on bone). A lumbar decompression procedure at SINW addressed his back pain. Of the outcome of his procedure Mark says, “My pain is pretty much non-existent now.”


Can Back Pain Really Be Genetic?

Back pain being genetic? Unheard of, right? Well, research shows that pain-related issues can be passed down genetically – the most common being a herniated disc. In fact, people with an immediate family member who have experienced pain from a herniated disc are four times more likely to experience a similar problem.low back pain causes

Know your family tree

Knowledge is power! It’s always a good idea to have a general knowledge of any family illnesses or diseases so that you can take preventative measures. You should at least be aware of health problems in your immediate family: Parents and siblings. The further out on the family tree you can get, however, the more forewarned you’ll be — grandparents, your parents’ siblings, and your cousins can also provide telling info. It’s not important to track every cough and cold; you just want to know about major illnesses and chronic conditions.

Know your options

Although an injury or just simply poor posture may cause back pain, take the time to see is your medical condition runs in your family. If you know, for example, that you have a parent and a grandparent who suffer from chronic back pain, it’s important to rule out non-genetic elements that could be the root of the problem. For example, working at a physically demanding job isn’t something that’s hereditary (well, maybe unless you inherit the family farm). Other health issues that can contribute to back pain, like obesity, can be addressed with preventative measures. Learning about health problems that “run in the family” can help you determine whether there are other factors you have that may increase your chances of developing one of these problems.

Be sure to mention your family history when you consult with Dr. Kamson, especially if it relates to back issues. Osteoporosis, arthritis, or even a bum knee are important to bring up as well. Knowing what health issues you may be more likely to face — even if they aren’t causing you trouble now — can help to determine a course of action that will better help you to find relief from pain.

Children’s Health and the New School Year

No parent wants his or her child to experience pain or discomfort, let alone a recurring or chronic pain that is interferes with the child’s happiness. But as the school year starts up, many parents will no doubt soon hear complaints about back, neck, and shoulder pain as kids readjust to the pressure of carrying a backpack (plus armfuls of books, lunches, and more) to and from school.

Dr. Solomon Kamson notes that the problem of an excessively heavy backpack can actually present a very real health risk for kids. According to specialists, a child’s backpack should weigh no more than 20% of their body weight (or to be on the safer side, 10%). But with lots of heavy books and notebooks to carry, it’s easy for a backpack to quickly exceed this cutoff.

What’s a conscientious parent to do? For some, the best option is to switch to a backpack alternative like a rolling backpack. In many schools, rolling backpacks have been banned due to tripping hazards. Another good alternative is to rely on the use of lockers. In fact, in many cases, kids aren’t really meant to be carrying as many books as they do. Sure, for the average middle school or high school kid who takes six or eight classes, the textbooks pile up, but kids are meant to take advantage of their lockers throughout the day to lighten the load. Why aren’t more kids taking advantage of this option to decrease the burden on their backs? In most cases, children feel they can’t take better advantage of their lockers either because they feel their lockers are too far away to reach between classes or they don’t have enough room in their lockers. In fact, many schools have reported a problem of too little locker space and access, which can be directly correlated with these reports from kids.

In some cases, parents are able to get special permission to lighten the load their kids have to carry. For example, you might be able to get special permission for your child to use a rolling backpack or to get two sets of textbooks for your child, one for the classroom and one for home. However, this kind of special permission is often reserved for kids who have a special need like an injury or a physical handicap. Depending on your school district, you may be able to have your child use digital versions of various textbooks, which would get rid of the need to transport books at all. However, if the school is not actively implementing e-readers for all students, these permissions may be limited.

No matter what, keep in mind that you always have the right to advocate for their children’s health! Before your child goes to school everyday, check their backpack to see how heavy it is. If it’s exceeding the recommended amount by a huge margin, it may be time to take matters up with the school. If it exceeds it only by a little, start to look for objects you can remove to lighten the load. For example, send your child to school with an empty, reusable water bottle to refill rather than a full one. Remove unnecessary papers from binders and folders. And make sure to listen up any time your child complains about pain! Preventative measures can literally help to keep a minor inconvenience from becoming a major pain.

Conservative Back Pain Treatment Options

When it comes to managing something as individualized as back pain, it can take many attempts at different kinds of therapies to find a solution that really gives a patient noticeable pain relief. But what should you do if some of the treatment options that you’d like to explore aren’t covered by your insurance? Spinal health specialist Dr. Solomon Kamson notes that there are many reasons a patient may want to try options outside of the traditional doctor’s office, and that being unable to pursue different treatment options can give patients a feeling of powerlessness about their own health. If you’re in this situation, it’s important to understand the benefits to pursuing these alternative kinds of care and what you can do if your insurance won’t cover it.

A recent article published by NPR drew attention to the problem of using opioids as a first response when dealing with chronic pain problems. Back pain is one of the most common types of chronic pain, so the use of opioids as a treatment option is likewise common. However, especially in situations where patients are dealing with intractable chronic pain, it’s disturbingly easy for patients to become addicted to opioids.

Opioids provide pain relief, but they do not treat the underlying cause of back pain. This means that while a patient may feel some temporary relief, the pain is certain to return. At the same time, the longer a patient uses opioids, the more likely they are to develop a resistance to the drugs. The dose needed to treat the same level of pain will steadily increase until the patient is at risk of needing a dangerously high dose of an opioid just to make their pain manageable. Overdosing on pain medications can be fatal. This drug resistance can also potentially make it more difficult to treat future pain, whether from a new cause or an exacerbation of the original underlying problem.

There are many alternative therapies available to patients, including yoga, dietary management, acupuncture, and massage. While some people will find that one of these therapies does provide them with relief, it will frequently take trying several options before a person finds a good balance. This can get expensive, as most of these therapies are not covered by standard insurance. What are your options? Of course, if you can afford to do so you can at least try one of these therapies. You should start by asking your pain specialist or primary care doctor which therapy they recommend. For example, if your weight is contributing to your health problems, your doctor may think you should start with diet and exercise programs, perhaps by working with a trainer and/or a nutritionist.

However, to prevent patients from feeling frustrated by a lack of access to these services, it’s important to have a reasonable expectation on the benefits of these therapies. In most cases, the benefits of these kinds of alternative therapies are really a result of the general overall health improvement that they help you achieve. For example, yoga can help with strength, weight loss, and better mindfulness, which can lead to an overall health improvement. Patients who are concerned about lack of insurance coverage should consider trying similar at-home treatments to see if these help first.

Could You Be Hurting Your Back in Your Sleep?

If you’ve ever woken up with a stiff neck or a painful back, then you already know how much pain you can cause yourself from just one bad night of sleep. It’s actually possible for your spine to accumulate considerable damage when put through poor sleeping behaviors night after night, over long periods of time. While Dr. Kamson notes that it can be difficult for individuals who are experiencing back pain to get a good night of sleep, periods of restfulness are necessary for your optimal overall health. It’s in your best interest to not only stop any bad sleep habits that might be hurting your back, but also to prevent further problems.
sleeping habits
How Do You Sleep?
One of the most important things to consider if you think your sleeping habits may be causing you back trouble is your sleeping position. While it’s easy to get comfortable in certain positions that aren’t good for you, it’s important that you find a way to break the habit. The most common damaging position is sleeping on your stomach with your head turned to the side. What makes this a problem? Your muscles don’t simply stop working when you out your head on the pillow. In fact, you’re making them work over time supporting your neck all night in an awkward position. This can produce tenseness and discomfort when you wake up in the morning. It can also cause problems for your jaw, which you may experience through jaw pain, ear pain, or tooth pain. If you are inclined to sleep on your stomach, try to break the habit by sleeping with a pillow under your legs and under your stomach. This will help keep you from lying completely on your stomach. You may find it helpful to use a body pillow for this purpose.

How is Your Mattress?
A bad mattress can have a huge impact on your back and neck, as well as on the quality of your sleep. As mattresses age, they become less suitable for good sleep. Trying to save money by hanging onto a mattress that has started to hurt your back is going to cost you more money in the long term as you contend with poor back health. The lifespan of a mattress is generally 10 years. If your mattress isn’t too old but you think it is causing you some discomfort, try flipping it over.

It’s also important to make sure you’ve picked the right mattress for your needs. When trying to select a mattress, make sure you go to a store that provides good customer support to help you choose a mattress that will be suitable. Look at multiple different types and styles of mattress, and ask to try out each one or a comparable one. Make sure they also offer a good warranty policy in case you find that the new mattress proves to be uncomfortable.

How’s Your Sleep Quality?
If you aren’t sleeping through the night or your actual sleeping is very light and fitful, you are more likely to experience chronic pain. This can become a vicious cycle as the more often you feel discomfort; the more likely it is to worsen the quality of your sleep. If your back is hurting, it’s important that you address any underlying medical conditions that might be affecting the way you sleep. You should also consider other factors that might improve your sleep quality: Make sure you have a comfortable pillow and sheets, that your blanket isn’t too heavy, and that there isn’t too much light and noise disturbance. Minor changes like light blocking curtains or an electric fan can help you fall asleep and stay asleep. Some people also benefit from mild supplements like melatonin, which can help you fall asleep and are non-habit forming.