Dr. Patel is a featured expert in the latest issue of Lake Mary Healthy Living Magazine! Read below to find out how you can prevent falls and develop healthy habits to keep your spine safe for years to come. Click Here to read the article on the Lake Mary Healthy Living site.
Reducing Your Risks at Falling Can Keep Your Spine Healthy
Almost everyone will suffer a back injury during their lifetime. As a spine surgeon, I can tell you that such injuries occur just about anywhere you can think of - on the job, in your car, even on a ride at an amusement park. What's surprising is how many recurring or future back problems could be avoided by adopting healthy habits that keep your muscles strong and by addressing certain common hazards in your home and daily activities.
For example, falls are among the most frequent causes of spinal injury for seniors and a potential hazard for people of every age. Understanding this risk, you can take a few easy steps to mitigate it and help safeguard you and your family from spinal injury at home and elsewhere. Here are some suggestions:
First - get moving. It's hard to overstate the benefits of regular exercise for strengthening your muscles and helping you avoid injury. More than this, learning exercises like yoga and tai chi may actually improve your balance. Be sure to consult a medical professional about which specific exercises are right for you and always workout with a partner who can "spot" you when necessary.
It's OK to take it slow. When you need to stand up after sitting in a chair for some time, do so slowly by using the arms of the chair for support. Similarly, after lying down, sit on the side of the bed for a moment before standing up to allow any dizziness to pass.
Install and use basic safety devices. Placing night lights in the kitchen, bathroom, bedroom and hallways of your home can reduce your chance of tripping over objects in the dark. Installing grab bars in the bathroom provides a needed anchor when the floor is slippery. And if you have an elderly person in your household, encourage them to use a cane or walker if needed to maintain their balance.
Avoid unstable shoes. When it comes to avoiding falls, all footwear is NOT created equal. Choose rubber-soled shoes with short laces or Velcro fasteners rather than clippers, flip flops or heels when heading out for a healthy walk.
Be on the lookout. Pay attention to potential tripping hazards such as uneven sidewalks, liquid spills, toys and pets. It may seem obvious, but being aware of your surroundings is key to avoiding a nasty fall. By the same token, it's a good idea to get your eyes and ears checked regularly for disorders that can affect your balance.
Finally, know your medications. Be aware of the side effects of your current medications. Some over-the-counter and prescription drugs may cause dizziness or drowsiness that affects your balance, so consult your physician with any questions you may have about these.
Spinal conditions can contribute to the imbalance of your spine. As part of the rehabilitation process for patients with neck and lower back pain, it is tremendously important to teach preventive strategies for avoiding injury. Patient care should also include teaching proper exercise techniques and providing nutritional advice along with physical therapy, pain management and minimally-invasive surgical interventions. Such education empowers patients to take control of their spine health while leading an active, enjoyable lifestyle.
Dr. Chetan Patel is an internationally renowned spine surgeon and Medical Director of the Spine Health Institute in Altamonte Springs, an all-in-one destination for patients seeking treatment for neck and back pain through physical therapy, pain management and surgical options. He has extensive training in minimally invasive spine surgery and is the Assistant Chief of Staff for Florida Hospital Altamonte.