Weekly health rail, with items on treating and preventing back pain, a new study about single men and stroke risk, tips on preventing high blood pressure and more.
Pain between your shoulder blades? Dull ache in your lower back? If you haven't experienced these symptoms yet, you probably will.
In fact, 80 percent of the population will suffer from a back problem at some point in their lives, according to the American Chiropractic Association. What can you do to help beat these back aches and pains? The remedy could start at home.
Many types of back pain, caused by a variety of reasons including heavy lifting and poor posture, can be eased without surgery. Find comfort at home by following these three easy ideas that may help to alleviate back pain and strengthen your back for the future.
1. Stretch away tension: Stretching is a great way to loosen muscles and relieve tension in your back. But be sure to consult your physician if you have any medical conditions, and move carefully to keep from straining or inflicting additional pain. This means warming up your muscles with a quick walk before you stretch, stretching slowly and steadily and only reaching as far as your body will comfortably allow.
2. Recline with support: Sitting in a reclined position is often an effective step in helping to relieve back pain, as it transfers weight and pressure off of your spine and allows your muscles to relax. Get comfortable in reclining furniture with total body and lumbar support, meaning that no extra stress is placed on any one part of the body, and be sure to fully recline and adjust the leg rest to the highest position. This will redistribute your weight and ease pressure on your lower spine -- 80 percent of doctors prefer for patients to recline with their legs elevated up high and their backs partially or fully reclined.
3. Apply "steamy" heat: As long as it's not within 24 to 48 hours of an acute injury, the next time you are feeling discomfort, apply a moist heat pack directly on the point of pain to help relax and loosen the surrounding muscles. Moist heat, as opposed to an ice pack, increases the flow of blood to the area, and thus can help speed recovery.
"I encourage patients to take steps toward a healthier back every day," says Dr. Dave David, a board-certified physician who has been practicing medicine for more than 30 years. "From utilizing at-home remedies to stretching regularly and utilizing reclining furniture with the right support, sufferers can oftentimes find soothing relief from current aches and pains and work to prevent future discomfort."
Back still bothering you? Contact your doctor to get checked out.
New research: Single men and stroke risk
Single or unhappily married men may have an elevated risk of fatal stroke, according to a large study presented at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference 2010.
The findings are based on work in which researchers examined 10,059 men who were tracked from 1963 to 1997.
Among the men who in 1963 were single, 8.4 percent died of stroke in the following 34 years, compared with 7.1 percent of the married men. Considering age at death and adjusting for socioeconomic status and various health issues, single men had a 64 percent higher risk of fatal stroke than did married men.
Furthermore, in 1965, the married men had been asked to evaluate their marriages. In an analysis of the 3.6 percent of men who had reported dissatisfaction in their marriage, adjusted risk of a fatal stroke was also 64 percent higher, compared with men who considered their marriages very successful.
-- American Stroke Association
Did You Know?
Johns Hopkins researchers say that with proper sterilization, recalibration and testing, reuse of certain medical equipment is safe.
Health Tip: How to prevent high blood pressure
- Eat a healthy diet: Focus on fresh fruits and vegetables and foods that are low in saturated fat and cholesterol. Limiting the amount of salt you ingest.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight can raise your blood pressure.
- Be physically active. The Surgeon General recommends that adults should engage in moderate physical activities for at least 30 minutes on most days of the week.
- Don't smoke. Smoking injures blood vessels and speeds up the hardening of the arteries. Further, smoking is a major risk for heart disease and stroke.
- Limit alcohol use. Drinking too much alcohol is associated with high blood pressure.
-- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Number to Know: 50
A three-year study of 1,145 pregnant women from an ethnically diverse population found that women who gained more weight than is recommended by the Institute of Medicine had a 50 percent increased risk of developing gestational diabetes mellitus.
Children’s Health: Deaf children and quality of life
Profoundly deaf children with cochlear implants rate their quality of life equal to their normal-hearing peers, according to new research.
In addition, the earlier a child is implanted with a cochlear device and the longer he or she wears the device, the better overall quality of life the child reports and the more successful the child is in school, according to the findings.
"Wearing cochlear implants doesn't seem to create greater psychosocial problems overall for their users," said Dr. Betty Loy, clinical research manager in the Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery and lead author of the study.
-- University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
Senior Health: Risks for cognitive decline
The adverse affects of being overweight are not limited to physical function but also extend to neurological function, according to new research.
The study found that individuals with higher midlife body mass index scores had significantly lower general cognitive ability and significantly steeper decline than their thinner counterparts over time.
These statistics were compiled from a study of Swedish twins that took place over the course of nearly 40 years, from 1963 to 2002; the results were the same for both men and women.
-- The Journals of Gerontology
GateHouse News Service