Sitting Better (like a dog) to Fix Back Problems

On the way to work, I heard this NPR story:  To Fix That Pain In Your Back, You Might Have To Change The Way You Sit

An excerpt:

“Most of us do not sit well, and we’ve certainly been putting a lot more stress on our spines,” says Khan, who operates on spines at Sutters Health’s Palo Alto Medical Foundation.

If we change the way we sit, Khan says, it will help to decrease back problems.

“We should sit less, and we should sit better,” he says.

Over the past century or so, many Americans have lost the art of sitting, he says. Most people in the U.S. — even children — are sitting in one particular way that’s stressing their backs. You might not realize you’re doing it. But it’s super easy to see in other people.

Here’s how: Take a look at people who are sitting down – not face-on but rather from the side, in profile, so you can see the shape of their spine.

There’s a high probability their back is curving like the letter C — or some version of C. Or it might make you think of a cashew nut, sitting in the chair. There are two telltale signs: Their shoulders curve over and their butts curve under. That posture is hurting their backs, Khan says…

To figure out how to shift your pelvis into a healthier position, Sherer says to imagine for a minute you have a tail. If we were designed like dogs, the tail would be right at the base of your spine…

To straighten out the C shape, Sherer says, “we need to position the pelvis in a way that this tail could wag.”

My take -disclosure: I am not a back expert –so I am not sure about the expertise of some of this advice.  Also, this article is in sync with a previous NPR segment —Back Pain May Be the Result of Bending Over at the Waist (Lost Art of Bending Over: How Other Cultures Spare Their Spines)

Disclaimer: These blog posts are for educational purposes only. Specific dosing of medications/diets (along with potential adverse effects) should be confirmed by prescribing physician/nutritionist.  This content is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment provided by a qualified healthcare provider. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a condition.

Challenging assumptions

While this topic is not directly related to pediatrics or pediatric gastroenterology, I found a recent article regarding the treatment of back pain with steroids interesting.  This study challenges a treatment algorithm of using steroids to relieve inflammation triggering back pain.  The investigators showed that steroids per se are not more beneficial then saline in improving back pain.  Here is an excerpt from the NY Times,

Questioning Steroid Shots for Back Pain


Injecting steroids into the area around the spinal cord, known as an epidural, is the most commonly used treatment for back pain, but a new review of studies suggests that injecting any liquid, even plain saline solution, works just as well.

Researchers pooled the results of 43 studies involving more than 3,600 patients who got various kinds of injections for back pain. As they expected, they found some evidence that epidural steroid injections provided more relief than steroid injections into the muscles.

But the study, published online in Anesthesiology, also found that there was little difference between the amount of relief provided by steroidal and nonsteroidal epidural injections.

The researchers suggest that any liquid injected epidurally can help reduce inflammation, enhance blood flow to the nerves and clean out scar tissue.

Comment: There are inherently many limitations in pooling 43 studies and trying to reach a definitive conclusion.  Nevertheless, this study challenges some long-term treatment approaches.