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Do This Now If You Want a Strong Spine Later

 Do This Now If You Want a Strong Spine Later

The World Health Organization estimates that 250,000-500,000 people worldwide suffer from spinal cord injuries. Sadly, those who do are 2-5 times more likely to die at a younger age than those with healthy spines, and they tend to have lower levels of education and income. 

The good news is that most spine problems are preventable, and many are treatable. 

No one knows the ins and outs of spinal issues like Patrick McNulty, MD, FABSS, FABOS. He’s our double-board certified, award-winning orthopedic surgeon at McNulty Spine in Las Vegas and Henderson, Nevada. 

As one of the country's most respected, sought-after, leading spine authorities, Dr. McNulty helps our patients overcome complex back problems with advanced technology and over three decades of experience. However, he would rather help you avoid spine problems altogether. Here’s his expert advice.

Behind the scenes of back pain

If you have back pain, chances are you have some sort of spinal injury. While the term “spinal injury” may sound like it only refers to traumatic damage, it encompasses several potential spine problems, such as:

 

Spinal injuries can occur after a traumatic accident, like a car crash or a fall, or they can occur after years of slowly damaging the joints and nerves due to poor posture, inactivity, smoking, obesity, poor sleep habits, and repetitive motions. 

Fortunately, spinal injuries and back pain are largely preventable. You up your chances of avoiding back problems if you focus on your spinal health while you’re young and healthy. 

Tips for maintaining a strong, healthy spine

If you have existing back problems, we encourage you to consult Dr. McNulty before starting a new exercise routine. However, if your back is healthy and you want to keep it that way, here’s how to do it.

Mind your posture

Slouching and slumping, whether at a computer or while standing, wreak havoc on your back and are leading causes of neck pain. Your head weighs 10-14 pounds, but your neck (the upper part of your spine) perceives it as much heavier with each degree of forward tilt. 

For example, studies show that if you lean your head forward to view your phone, a 15-degree tilt increases the pressure on your neck to 27 pounds; a 60-degree tilt amounts to 60 pounds of added pressure.

Lose excess weight

Carrying too many pounds puts excess pressure on all your joints, including those in your spine. Maintaining a healthy weight goes a long way in keeping your spine in top shape.

Lift with your legs

When you lift a heavy object, keep it before you — no twisting. Keep the load close to your body, and lift using your legs as the main driver of the action. Don’t bend at your waist, which engages your back. 

Don’t smoke

Smoke is poison. In addition to damaging your heart and lungs, it also deteriorates your spine by damaging the cells in your spine’s discs. Studies show that smoking also decreases your bone density and increases your pain sensitivity.

Eat a bone-healthy diet

Your food choices can make or break your bones — literally. If you don’t nourish your bones with plenty of calcium, vitamin D, and minerals, you risk fractures and spinal problems. Here are some tips from the Bone Health & Osteoporosis Foundation on Good-for-Your-Bones Foods

Do spine-strengthening exercises

The best way to prevent spinal injuries — even if you have an unavoidable traumatic accident — is to strengthen the support system around your spine. We call this supportive structure your core; think of it as a “muscle box” that includes everything from your pelvis and hips to your upper abs. 

Stabilizing your core protects your spine, and Dr. McNulty can recommend the ideal combination of stretches and exercises to optimize your spine health. 

For more spine health tips and state-of-the-art treatments, request an appointment online or call McNulty Spine today.    

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