5 Gardening Tips To Avoid Back Pain

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Spring is here and along with the return of warmer temps, many enjoy the return of outdoor activities. Gardening has always been a soothing hobby for individuals of all ages, including seniors. However, according to the 2021 National Gardening Survey, the covid-19 pandemic created 18.3 new gardeners in the United States. Now, 55% of American households engage in home gardening activities. 

With the popularity of gardening skyrocketing, especially for those in the 35-64 age range, we thought it would be helpful to offer some tips on keeping back pain at bay. While gardening is known to improve mobility, it can also cause soreness or pain, if improper positions or techniques are being used. Here are some key points to consider, that will help protect your body while gardening. 

5 Tips To Keep Back Pain Away During Gardening 

Long periods of time being hunched or in a crouching position, can place strain on your body, resulting in pain. Experiencing back soreness or pain is not uncommon following a long day of gardening. However, with the following creative tweaks, you can minimize the likelihood of back pain or injury:

1. Take It Easy-

Just like walking or biking, gardening is exercise. Taking a few minutes to stretch and “warm-up” is a way to get your blood flowing and prepare muscles for activity. If you’ve experienced back pain before, it is advised to receive clearance from a physician before beginning any new form of exercise, including gardening. You should also schedule frequent breaks, so you don’t remain in the same position for too long. Regularly switching up your gardening tasks will also alleviate repetitive motions or positions. If you begin to feel stiff or sore, take a few minutes to relax and stretch before resuming.

2. Support Yourself-

Moving bags of soil or heavy pots can place unnecessary strain on your back. Always be sure to bend at the hips, with your knees positioned in a squat stance, keeping your back straight and engaging your core. If an item is too heavy, it may injure muscles or ligaments. In this case, a wagon or dolly may be needed, to avoid back injury. 

3. Consider Specialty Tools-

There are several products available that can help maximize time and comfort in the garden. A gardening wagon or scooter can help position you into more of a seated stance, instead of bending over or squatting all day. Similarly, you may want to incorporate foam kneeling pads to provide extra cushion to knee joints.

4. Stand and Garden-

A popular trend is vertical gardening, which features planting up from the ground. If it is painful to bend over, this may be a better option as you can tend to your garden while standing. There are various wooden or metal structures that can be used to form a simple, or elaborate, vertical garden. Another option is raised bed gardening, which is most commonly used for growing vegetables and herbs. The beds are raised off the ground and can be tended to while standing, as well as being wheelchair accessible. 

5. Scale Back-

This tip probably goes without saying, but if gardening is causing you back pain, it may be time to scale back. Perhaps you decrease the size of your garden, or begin to delegate some tasks to someone else. You can also move your favorite flowers, plants or vegetables to a smaller, contained space, to decrease the amount of time and physical effort required, but still enjoy your favorite vegetation. 

What to do if you have back pain after gardening

Gardening is an excellent low-impact exercise, that appeals to people of all ages looking to stay active. However, if a long day of gardening has resulted in pain, stiffness, or sore muscles, there are a few at-home remedies that may help. 

At the first sign of back pain, you should listen to your body, and rest. It is possible to overexert yourself while gardening, so taking a few days off to relax and recharge, is recommended. This will ensure that a small ache doesn’t turn into more intense pain or injury.

If you are experiencing swelling, a cold compress will help to address inflammation. A hot compress is advised when blood flow is needed to relax aching muscles. Some find back pain relief from switching between both a cold and hot compress, throughout the day. Over-the-counter pain relievers will also help to alleviate temporary pain associated with gardening.

Georgia Pain and Spine Care is here to help!

If at-home solutions do not improve your back pain, it may be time to meet with a specialist. At Georgia Pain and Spine Care, we will assess and address the pain you are experiencing. We offer a variety of treatment options, including multiple minimally-invasive procedures, as well as physical therapy, medication, and patient education, to ease discomfort. Reach out today to learn more, or to schedule an appointment. We’ll have you gardening again in no time! 

Springtime Aches and Pains

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Spring is in the air! The sun is out, birds are chirping and heavy coats are finally able to be tossed aside. Many people begin to trek back outside and resume outdoor activities once the weather warms up. While sunny days are a welcome change from the gloominess of winter, it also can usher in seasonal joint and back pain. Here we examine how springtime can contribute to the pain you may be experiencing,  and what you can do to prevent it. 

Seasonal Back Pain

When springtime rolls around, most individuals are thrilled to venture back outside. Unfortunately, spring also brings an increase in pollen counts, which many people are allergic to. Symptoms may range from sneezing or stuffiness, to joint, back, or neck pain, coughing, irritated eyes and even labored breathing. 

Why Do People Feel Back Pain During the Spring?

Pollen is a common seasonal allergy that may lead to back pain, but there are other allergens, as well. Grass, ragweed, and mold are also popular seasonal allergy triggers. In fact, a rainy spring can cause an increase in mold, due to the rapid growth rate of grasses and plants.  In the event of spring following a mild winter, early plant pollination may occur and continue well into the summer months. All of this will affect allergy sufferers, which may then prompt inflammation and back pain.  

Beyond allergies, being outside more and increasing activity through exercise, exterior home maintenance, and yard work, can all put a strain on the back. Overexerting yourself can place tension on muscles and ligaments that haven’t been worked in a while. This additional stress can lead to backaches, pain, and even injury. 

Changes in temperature, humidity, and air pressure also occur throughout the spring and summer months. These environmental fluctuations may also be causing or contributing to your back pain. 

How Seasonal Allergies Contribute To Back Pain

If you are a seasonal allergy sufferer, you know the misery that can ensue once your allergies start acting up. Allergies occur when your body’s immune system negatively reacts to something you have been exposed to. While people can be allergic to all sorts of things, like pet hair or certain foods, the most common culprit is environmental allergies. 

Allergies place additional strain on the body, as the immune system works overtime to address the increased inflammation that is triggered. When portions of the body become inflamed, this leads to overall body aches and pain. Not to mention, constant coughing and sneezing that allergies often generate, result in headaches, back or neck pain. 

Tips On How To Avoid Springtime Back Pain

Tip # 1

Everyone loves a good spring cleaning, but try to ease into the big clean-up. Digging, clipping, mowing, and tidying up around your home places strain on muscles that may not have been worked as much, over the past few months.

Always listen to your body and don’t overdo it. In fact, it’s a smart move to stretch before strenuous activity, and that includes using the muscles needed for gardening, mowing, and general home maintenance. 

Tip # 2

When you do venture outside, ensure you always wash your hands immediately when coming inside. Better yet, if you are able to shower and change clothing, this will help to decrease allergens being brought into your home, or collecting on furniture, carpet or rugs.

If environmental allergies are still triggering back pain, you may consider only going outdoors at certain times of day, depending on the weather. Pollen counts are the highest following rainfall, on windy or warmer spring days and typically in the morning hours. Additionally, high humidity encourages mold growth, which is another common allergen. It is best to avoid these conditions if your allergies are contributing to your joint or back discomfort.

Tip # 3

When it comes to ridding your house of allergens, whole-home humidifiers, air purifiers and filters work wonders.

Keep your space clean by washing bedding on a weekly basis, vacuuming carpets, rugs and upholstered furniture regularly. Never keep shoes on that were worn outside, as you’ll quite literally be walking allergens right inside your home.  

We Can Help!

While over-the-counter medications may help alleviate symptoms for some, the immune response and subsequent inflammation may persist. If an allergic reaction is contributing to your back pain, discussing treatment options with a professional may be in order.

No matter the season, the specialists at Georgia Pain and Spine Care, are here to help manage and address your discomfort. With several treatment options available, we will devise a custom plan to begin alleviating your pain immediately. Reach out today to learn more or to schedule an appointment. 

Lower Back Pain Relief Tips

Did you know lower back pain affects 540 million globally, which equates to more than 1 in 10 people worldwide? According to the CDC, 25% of the U.S. adult population reported having acute lower back pain in 2020.

Common Lower Back Pain Causes

With approximately 4 out of 5 people experiencing lower back pain at some point in their life, it is an extremely common issue. While sometimes the result of a condition or disease, lower back pain is most often attributed to an injury. Injured muscles or tendons can occur from trauma, like a car accident, but can also be caused by everyday activities such as gardening, hauling groceries or high-impact exercise. 

Symptoms of lower back pain may present abruptly, or be more gradual in nature. Pain may be sharp, or a dull, achy, radiating sensation. If you notice a decreased range of motion, you may be experiencing stiffness. This can be caused by a sedentary lifestyle or posture issues. 

Likewise, overused or strained muscles and misaligned spine tendons can cause uncontrolled muscle spasms to occur. It is possible for lower back pain to also result from strains, sprains, fractures, disk and structural problems, arthritis and certain diseases.

At Home Remedies For Lower Back Pain 

Many times lower back pain will resolve with minimal at-home intervention. The most essential thing is to rest, so further strain does not occur. Typically, ice, rest and over-the-counter pain medication, like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), are enough to resolve lower back pain. Following a few days of rest, you can begin to slowly resume normal activities. Assuming no pain arises, remaining active will help increase blood flow to the area and promote healing along with light lower back stretching.

Lifestyle Considerations

Some individuals may be more prone to lower back pain, based on a variety of risk factors. These include:

  •  Age: Anyone over the age of 30 will experience more bodily “wear and tear.” Spinal disks weaken with age, resulting in stiffness and pain.
  • Weight: Overweight and obese individuals place more pressure and strain on joints and disks.
  • Lifestyle and Occupation: People who drink, smoke or lead a sedentary life are more at risk, as well as those who participate in jobs or activities that require heavy lifting. 
  • Structural Health: Weak abdominal muscles can contribute to back strain or sprains. Severe pain can result from spine conditions, like scoliosis.
  • Mental Health: Depression and anxiety may manifest physically and lead to back pain.
  • Disease: Certain forms of cancer or tumors have a higher risk of lower back pain, as do those with a family history of osteoarthritis.

Back Pain Treatments 

While lower back pain usually resolves on its own with at-home care, contacting a medical professional is imperative, if pain persists. There is a possibility a physical exam will be completed to identify any broken bones or damage to muscles, disks, tendons or ligaments. You may receive an MRI, CT scan, EMG or spine x-ray to further investigate the cause of your lower back pain. 

Treatment protocols may include over-the-counter or prescription drugs to relieve pain. In some situations, steroid injections are also sometimes used to further reduce inflammation and pain. Physical therapy may be recommended, as a way to strengthen muscles, leading to a more supportive spine. PT has the added benefit of protecting against future injury, as flexibility will be improved. Similarly, manipulative work may aid in decreasing lower back pain by relaxing tightened muscles. These treatments include hands-on manipulation, like chiropractic adjustments and massage therapy, that improve alignment and restore proper function.

If the above treatments do not properly address lower back pain, surgery may be required. Certain conditions, injuries or diseases, might only respond to surgical repair. Fortunately, there are several surgical options available, including the use of minimally invasive techniques.

While you may not be able to completely eliminate the possibility of lower back pain, you have the power to drastically reduce your risk by making healthy lifestyle choices. Be sure to always lift heavy objects properly, maintain a healthy weight, and exercise regularly, focusing on improving core muscle strength. 

If you experience lower back pain, most people can treat it at home and recover without any long-term health complications. If pain continues, it is best to work with a medical professional to properly assess and treat your specific condition.  Check out some of our pain treatments here at Georgia Pain and Spine Care.

Allergies and Chronic Pain

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Did you know that allergies are the sixth leading cause of chronic illness in the United States? According to the Center for Disease Control, over 50 million Americans experience allergies on a yearly basis. While it is fairly common knowledge that lack of sleep, poor diet and dehydration contribute to chronic pain, you may not realize that allergies can play a role, as well. 

Seasonal allergic sensitivities to pollen from trees, grasses and weeds, or to airborne mold spores cause sneezing, stuffy nose, runny nose, watery eyes and itching of the nose, eyes and throat. These allergies can also intensify chronic pain.

How seasonal allergies contribute to pain

You may have noticed that when seasonal allergies hit, your chronic pain worsens. When seasonal allergies occur, your respiratory and immune systems become stressed. Your immune system begins to work in overdrive to combat environmental triggers. The body releases histamine as an immune reaction to environmental irritants. This leads to inflammation in joints and more intense chronic pain symptoms such as headaches, neck and back pain, fatigue and lack of mental clarity. 

Tips on ways the manage this issue

Some of the most popular seasonal allergens are ragweed and pollen. While it may not be feasible to avoid environmental triggers entirely, there are several adjustments you can make to decrease your symptoms. 

Limit exposure

Staying inside all spring and summer isn’t necessary, but it is wise to monitor pollen and mold levels so you can make informed choices on when (and how long) you venture outside for. When pollen counts are up, it is best to remain inside, with windows closed to regulate your exposure to the elements. When it comes to seasonal allergies, an excellent time to enjoy the outdoors is following rain. If you do go outside, always be sure to shower immediately after, so you aren’t transferring pollen onto furniture or bedding.

Prepare your home

There’s probably no such thing as a completely allergen-free home. However, there’s plenty of things you can do within your home to diminish allergic triggers. Rely on your air conditioner to cool your house, instead of ceiling or box fans. Fans tend to kick up dust and pollen, then redistribute it throughout the home. There’s even specialty HVAC filters you can purchase that are designed specifically for allergy sufferers. These filters stimulate better indoor air quality by filtering air particles more efficiently than standard filters. Air purifying systems and humidifiers can also help alleviate severe allergy symptoms. Lastly, it’s advisable to clean your home frequently and wash bedding weekly, in an effort to decrease pollen and dust particles from settling.

Seek treatment options

Over-the-counter antihistamine and decongestant medication may work for some individuals. More intense allergies may require an in-office allergy shot to help control the immune response. If you are experiencing watery eyes, itchy throat, coughing or fatigue, yet are unaware of what is causing it, allergy testing can be administered. Testing pinpoints which allergens are causing your allergic response. Upon diagnosis, your doctor may provide additional treatment options, such as immunotherapy, which builds your tolerance to the allergen.  

If allergy symptoms are contributing to your chronic pain, you may want to discuss treatment options with a doctor at either our Newnan or LaGrange locations. At Georgia Spine and Pain, we work to create a customized plan that addresses minimizing allergies and alleviating chronic pain. Contact us today to learn more, or to schedule an appointment. 

Strengthen Your Back Through Stretching

Strong muscles and a strong body mean that having a strong spine and back go hand in hand. If you find that chronic low back pain or a recent injury that is causing pain in your back then some of the following might be perfect for your recovery and prevention. One of the biggest benefits of exercising your spine is that it increases stability while at the same time promotes flexibility. That means while you are being active or non-active your spine is aligned and ready for whatever comes. 

How Stretching Activates Your Back

Compression and misalignment are major factors in chronic back pain. Now if you are currently experiencing this then doing too much can increase the pain so be careful. It is also important to remember that every back is different and that you should consult with your doctor before starting any type of program. If you do not have a spine doctor then we have one for you!

Some of the benefits of stretching come from reducing the tension in the muscles that are actually supporting the spine. When there is too much tension you may suffer from pain or end up having a number of back conditions. 

You will improve your overall range of motion in your spine through stretching. This gives more of an opportunity to move fluidly. Last is stretching can assist in reducing the risk of disability caused from back pain. 

Top 6 Stretches For a Stronger Back

  1. Back Flexion
    1. Pull both knees into your chest
    2. Push your head forward meeting your knees gently until you feel the stretch on your lower back and neck
  2. Bridge Stretch
    1. This works both your back and your lower body at the same time
    2. Lie flat on the ground with your feet on the ground and your knees bent shoulder width apart.
    3. Raise your hips off the ground while keeping your shoulders on the floor
    4. Hold for sets of 5-10 seconds
  3. Chin to Chest Stretch
    1. This can be done standing or sitting
    2. Simply slowly move your head forward until your chin touches your chest
  4. Hip Crossover Stretch
    1. Lie flat on your back with both legs out in front of you
    2. Bend your knees and place your left ankle over the right knee
    3. Grab the right knee and pull it into your body
    4. This will loosen up the hip flexor and buttocks
  5. Lumbar extension in prone prop
    1. Lie on your stomach
    2. Get into the plank position
    3. Sink your stomach to the ground causing the stretch
  6. Cat Cow stretch
    1. Get on hands and knees
    2. Arch your back and hold it for 5 seconds
    3. Sink your stomach to the ground and hold for 5 seconds

Prevent Back Pain Through Exercise and Stretching

The biggest takeaway from this post is keeping the muscles loose and strong around your spine. If you are currently dealing with pain we recommend you speak with your doctor or come to one of our locations in LaGrange or Newnan and let us consult.  Doing this before starting any type of workout / stretching program can make sure it is right for you. A strong back can prevent injuries and keep you mobile as you age. Using the stretches here can assist you with just that. 

Pain-Free Walking For Exercise and Overall Health

Walking has so many benefits from increasing your heart rate to lowering your stress levels. It might seem like an intuitive thing to do without any thought, but there are good techniques when it comes to walking. Our focus here is how to utilize the many benefits of walking for health but without the negative implications of pain associated with it if done too long or too much. 

As we age many people turn to healthy walks as a form of their main exercise. The biggest question here is what can be affected if done incorrectly or if you have a pre-existing issue. 

Bad Posture During Walking Can Harm

  • Spine
  • Hips
  • Feet
  • Joints

Let’s explore the tips below on how we can walk long distances or even walk a lot without hurting the body in the process. 

What Is Correct Walking Posture?

Our last article was about good posture while sitting as we seem to be doing much more of that nowadays. Here are some tips to keep correct posture while walking and to prevent pain. 

  • Make sure you are standing straight with no leaning to the front or back. It is better to walk slow straight than fast with a bend in either direction. 
  • Your feet should be at shoulder distance, too wide can hurt the hips, and too narrow can affect balance. 
  • Toes pointed forward and not inwards or outward. If you typically have this problem then a mindful walk where your focus is on fixing this can do wonders. 
  • A straight back is good but an arched one can cause problems in the lower back region. 
  • Engage your core by sucking in your gut a little. This will cause your abs and back to work and strengthen at the same time. Another benefit is the good posture that comes from this as well. 
  • A walk is great for releasing tension which many times is in your shoulders. Relax your shoulders and breath. 

The stride of your walk matters

Typically you would like long fast strides are the key to getting that heart rate up and making walking useful. Not the case though if you are walking for exercise consider shortening your stride. What it does is lessen the stress on your hips, joints, and knees. A quick walk into a store or even just a typical distance does not matter, but for exercise let the bodywork with support. So, on that next walk just be conscious of your walking stride and see if you can tell a difference. 

Your Arms Get a Workout Too

Walking uses a lot of muscles but your arms are normally not affected too much. You can include some very, very small weights to walk with like two water bottles. The key here is to include them by holding them at 90-degrees and swing them with your stride. This will activate them and help get that blood flowing. 

Shoes Can Make All The Difference

This article is focused on using walking as exercise and not having pain as the result. Your shoes play a major factor in this. Find a shoe that has the right padding, support, and most of all fit will make a huge difference. Before you take them on a long walk maybe wear them around the house for a day to break them in. From there consider going on a long walk and seeing the outcome if they are perfect then you have your new pair of walking shoes. 

Our goal here is to make sure you can manage any chronic pain you may have and also prevent any future pain is possible. If you have any questions on walking for health and preventing pain please feel free to contact us today or even give us a direct call at any of our three locations (LaGrange, Newnan). 

Good Posture During Quarantine Can Prevent Future Pain

With so many people working from home and in general spending almost every waking moment at their house means sitting and even standing at a desk is happening much more. During this time making sure you are keeping good posture can assist in preventing future pain, or making sure your current ailments are not irritated even more. 

Pain management does not only happen at the doctor’s office. Georgia Pain & Spine Care is here to provide some tips with all this time in one place to keep your mindset on good posture. If you do have any questions regarding any pain you may be having or even information on how to manage it better we do offer telehealth services so don’t hesitate to reach out. Our spines are not meant to be in odd positions for a long period of time and the more that we keep them correctly positioned the less pain a person will feel. 

For example, have you ever been watching a movie on the couch and not realizing it but go to get up and either feel pain or need time to adjust? That is a BAD POSTURE in the works!

What is Posture?

This is the position that we hold our bodies when we are sitting, standing, or even when we are lying down. The goal of Good posture is when your body is in the correct alignment and all the body parts are being properly supported. Most of the time our muscles will keep our body posture in place. 

Good Posture During Quarantine Can Prevent Future Pain

Good Sitting Posture:

  • Keep your feet on the floor and not tucked under a leg or dangling, if you need to use a footrest for stability.
  • Do not cross your feet, but instead always keep your ankles in front of the seat, and not tucked back.
  • Your knees should never be above your hips.
  • Ensure your back has support in both the low and mid parts of your back. 
  • Keep your shoulders relaxed with your forearms parallel to the ground.
  • Most of all avoid sitting for too long and every 30-45 minutes if possible get up and move around a little.

Good Standing Posture:

  • Try to make your weight rest mostly on the balls of your feet.
  • Do not lock out your knees, but instead keep a slight bend.
  • Your feet should be as wide as your shoulders.
  • Tuck in your stomach and have your shoulders pulled back not to slouch
  • If standing for a long time move  your weight from your toes to your heals

These are just some tips for proper posture, but now you might be asking why? So many are working from home now that you need to have the right tools for the job. That means if you choose to use a standing desk keeping those standing tips on your mind, or if you find that your work attire is now sweatpants and a teeshirt sitting for hours comes too easy. 

Tools For The Posture Correctness

  • If you are using a standing desk make sure it is at the right height for your shoulders and consider using a fatigue mat.
  • An office chair with proper support has never been more important if needed maybe ask your boss if you can take the one from your work home. This is so important for good posture as a quality chair will have proper lumbar support and height adjustments. 
  • Believe it or not routine exercise to keep your supportive muscles strong.
  • Last and most important keeping how your posture is at all times on the front of your mind. Make it a goal to think about how you are sitting or standing and if you can improve it. If some back pain is starting reflect on how your posture is and why that might be happening. 

Georgia Pain & Spine Care is here to help in any way so please feel free to contact us if you have any questions on this. We have offices in Peachtree City, Lagrange, and Newnan with a team of doctors that put patients first. We are all getting through this together so, during these times on the couch, floor or seat let’s keep our bodies healthy as possible.