A healthy spine usually makes for a healthy, pain-free body, which makes taking proper care of it incredibly important. That’s why we want to answer some of your most pressing questions!
Why is caring for your spine so important?
Your spine helps you perform basic functions like standing up, moving, balancing, and bending. The stronger your bones are, the better they will function. Your spine also protects your spinal cord, which sends signals from the brain to your body, allowing you to control your movements. When your vertebrae are not healthy, they can collapse, crushing the surrounding nerves, sometimes causing pain or disability.
To help prevent injury, avoid or reduce pain, and maintain a healthy spine, choose healthy habits and think about your spine throughout the day — this could lead to big impacts in the quality of your spine health, as well as overall health and wellness.
What are some tips to maintain a healthy spine?
Sit up straight. Did you know the average human head weighs about 12 pounds but can increase to 60 pounds depending on the angle it is titled?
- Avoid “tech-neck” by optimizing your work station: Align your monitor with your eyes, use a chair that provides lumbar support and allows you to keep your feet flat on the ground, and invest in a standing desk and/or a yoga ball.
- Strengthen your core: Your core helps provide balance, stability, and flexibility. A strong core can reduce, control, and even prevent pain or future injury.
- Keep moving: Designate a time each day to stretch and exercise, and be sure to do it with proper form. Allow enough time between activities for rest and recovery.
- Rest: Get seven to eight hours of sleep each night. Talk to your doctor about whether a medical massage can be incorporated into your treatment plan.
- Stay hydrated: Without proper hydration, your body cannot provide your discs with enough water, sometimes resulting in pain, lack of mobility, and increased risk of injury.
How can people suffering from spine injuries or disorders, and their loved ones, advocate for themselves?
- Know that you are not alone. Nearly 100 million other Americans suffer from neck or back pain at some point in their lives.
- Join our community to connect with fellow patients, hearing their stories of healing and recovery in our “Get Back To It” podcast, and connect with the nation’s leading experts in spinal healthcare through our Spine-Talks® educational series.
- Do your research. There’s a difference between self- diagnosing and being an informed patient. Write down questions and bring a friend or family member to help take notes during your appointment. Not sure what to ask? Your Patient Journey offers you tips and tricks on how to improve the way you care for your spine, helping you to prevent injuries, strengthen your relationship with your doctor, and reduce your uncertainty and anxiety.
- Find the right team. Your medical team should treat you with respect, listen to your concerns, and include you in the decision- making process when discussing your treatment options.
What are the most promising innovations in spine health right now?There have been tremendous advancements in spinal surgery over the past 40 years, helping to make spinal treatments safer and more reproducible, leading to better overall outcomes. From technological advancements in minimally invasive procedures, motion preservation, and intraoperative image guidance (robotics and artificial intelligence); to 3D printing, predictive analytics, stem cell technologies, and new biomaterials, the future of spinal healthcare is bright and promising! For more information on how to keep your spine healthy, visit us at spinetalks.org.
by Thomas Schuler, M.D., Board President, National Spine Health Foundation Spine Surgeon, Founder, & Chief Executive Officer
by Dr. Rita Roy, Chief Executive Officer, National Spine Health Foundation