What You Can Do About It

Aims of self-treatment for segmental stiffness

The overriding mission with segmental stiffness is to reduce the compression and add buoyancy to your basal spinal discs. This frees them to undergo the pressure variations so essential for stimulating proteoglycans synthesis and sucking water through. When they can circulate more fluid to bolster nutrition the disc metabolism picks up and, with that, disc maintenance and repair.

Mobilising and decompressing a stiff spinal segment is much more straightforward with the chronic condition because your back is barely sore. It is achey and bone-deep stiff and although exercising may stir it up, the benefits are immediately apparent.

Direct loosening of the segment is best achieved by a physical therapy professional who manually loosens the link, although the pressure-change therapy or 'mechanobiology' is only achievable by you, using the BackBlock and doing squatting exercises. Both techniques immediately make use of the newfound freedom, while at the same time introducing wide variations in pressure to torpid lumbar discs.

When the back is acutely inflamed, muscle spasm is the wild card which complicates everything. Although its role is ultimately protective, much of the overall pain picture with problem backs can be attributed to it locking up the spine and holding it too rigidly. Not only does this compress the segments more, it causes more pain from the muscle clench itself. Both factors make your back screamingly painful and also extremely unpredictable from one moment to the next.

It is very important that your self-administered mechanobiology does not increase the resting levels of muscle spasm, which it is apt to do. If, in practice, your decompression exercises are making you sore then you have to lay off for a while (usually a week to ten days) until the back settles. You never use the BackBlock while the back is in the acute phase but you must resume at some stage, if you are to go forward.

Getting rid of the muscle spasm is always a first priority, although all the techniques to do this help loosen the segments as well. Spasm in the muscle is eased initially through stretching, by lying on your back and very gently bouncing, or oscillating, your knees to your chest. You can break up the brittle castness of your spinal segments by rolling back and forth over the low back, and very importantly, you 'switch off' the back muscles by strengthening their opposite number (the tummy muscles) through making the lower abdominals exercise strenuously with reverse curl ups.

A typical self-treatment for acute segmental stiffness

Purpose:

Ease muscle spasm to relieve compression on disc, disperse inflammation, and strengthen tummy muscles to switch off over-activity of the erector spinae muscles and relieve compression on disc.

Rocking knees to the chest

(60 seconds)

Rest (with knees bent for 30 seconds)

Reverse curl ups

(five excursions)

REPEAT BOTH EXERCISES 3 TIMES

Remain resting in bed, only getting up to use the lavatory. Use medication of NSAIDs (anti-inflammatories), painkillers and muscle relaxants as directed by your doctor. Repeat regimen of exercises in bed every 2 hours. See Chapter 7 for descriptions of all exercises and the correct way to do them.

For how long? This phase usually lasts anything from two or three days to a week. You can advance to the next treatment stage when it is easier to sit up and turn over in bed. Remember, fear holds you back. Relax in bed and stay floppy. If you jar your back, relieve the pain by rocking your knees to your chest and resting with your lower legs supported on pillows. Try to relax and not think about your back or the pain.

A typical self-treatment for sub-acute segmental stiffness

Ease muscle spasm to relieve compression on disc, disperse inflammation, strengthen tummy muscles to switch off over-activity of erector spinae and relieve compression on disc, break up spinal impaction caused by muscle spasm, and stretch facet capsules to relieve spinal impaction at the base.

Purpose:

Rocking knees to chest

(60 seconds)

Rolling along spine

(15-30 seconds)

Squatting

(down twice for 30 seconds)

Reverse curl ups

(five excursions)

REPEAT ALL FOUR EXERCISES 3 TIMES

Medication of painkillers and NSAIDs only. Two 20-minute rest periods each day. Repeat the regimen morning and evening every day on a folded towel on carpeted floor.

For how long? Usually, you may progress through this period in ten days to two weeks. It cannot be hurried and you need regular rest periods between exercises. Progress to the next regimen when the pain is intermittent and bending less painful.

A typical self-treatment for chronic segmental stiffness

Ease muscle spasm to relieve compression on disc, disperse inflammation, strengthen tummy muscles to switch off over-activity of erector spinae and relieve compression on disc, break up spinal impaction caused by muscle spasm, stretch facet capsules to relieve spinal impaction at the base, decompress the spine to promote disc regeneration and repair, and re-establish intrinsic muscles' segmental control.

Purpose:

Rocking knees to chest

(60 seconds)

Rolling along spine

(15-30 seconds)

Reverse curl ups

(five excursions)

Squatting

(down for 30 seconds twice)

BackBlock routine Step 1

REPEAT ALL FIVE EXERCISES 3 TIMES

Toe touches

(down and unfurling up to vertical twice)

Squatting

(down for 30 seconds twice)

(60 secs) (15 times)

Repeat program every evening before going to bed. Continue NSAIDs if back is too sore to exercise.

For how long? This phase may continue indefinitely but is prone to relapse if you do too much. Always sprinkle your day with toe touches, perhaps two or three morning and afternoon and always squat after lengthy periods of sitting. If back remains sore, stop BackBlock (only) and revert to sub-acute regimen for 2-3 days, concentrating on the spinal rolling.

Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis

Thank you for deciding to learn more about the disorder, Osteoarthritis. Inside these pages, you will learn what it is, who is most at risk for developing it, what causes it, and some treatment plans to help those that do have it feel better. While there is no definitive “cure” for Osteoarthritis, there are ways in which individuals can improve their quality of life and change the discomfort level to one that can be tolerated on a daily basis.

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