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Back Pain Archive

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Osteoporosis drugs: Which one is right for you?

Updated September 12, 2021

Women with osteoporosis have many options for preserving bone strength and preventing fractures. The mainstays of treatment are bisphosphonate drugs.

Ask the doctor: How can I treat back pain?

Updated May 10, 2014

Image: Thinkstock

Try the least invasive options first to relieve back pain—including exercise, physical therapy, and pain medications.

Q. Do you have any suggestions for a 79-year-old woman who has quite a bit of pain in her back? I have spinal stenosis and curvature of the spine.

Treating rheumatoid arthritis

Updated March 9, 2014

Just opening a jar can be a harsh reminder of the limitations rheumatoid arthritis places on daily life. Early and aggressive treatment can often help.

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic degenerative inflammatory disease of the joints. More than two million Americans have the condition; about 70% of them are women.

Posture and back health

Updated March 9, 2014

Paying attention to posture can help you look and feel better.

Most of us get back pain at some point in our lives. It may be due to a sports-related injury, an accident, or a congenital condition such as scoliosis. But most of the time, upper or lower back pain develops during the course of day-to-day life. Repetitive activities at work or home, such as sitting at a computer or lifting and carrying, may produce tension and muscle tightness that result in a backache. Fortunately, there's a lot we can do to prevent this sort of problem. General physical fitness and a healthy weight are important. But one surprisingly simple strategy can go a long way: Paying attention to your posture.

By the way, doctor: What can I do about ischial bursitis?

Updated April 15, 2019

 

Q. I have a pain in my right buttock, which my doctor says is ischial bursitis. Is there anything I can do for the pain or to make the condition go away?

A. Ischial bursitis, sometimes called ischiogluteal bursitis, is an inflammation of the fluid-filled sac, or bursa that lies between the ischial tuberosity (the lower part of the V-shaped bone that helps form the pelvis) and the tendon that attaches the hamstring muscle to the bone.  It helps to understand the location of the ischial bursa is by recognizing that it’s the part of your body that bears most of the pressure when sitting in a saddle.   Injury or overuse can cause the bursa to become inflamed, swollen, and painful — a condition called bursitis. Ischial bursitis can result from sitting for long periods on a hard surface, from direct trauma to the area, or from injury to the hamstring muscle or tendon through activities such as running or bicycling.

Physical and mental fitness are essential for maintaining back health

Updated March 1, 2014

If you have occasional flare-ups of back pain, these six steps can prevent it from becoming a chronic problem.

With changes in the aging spine, occasional backaches may grow more frequent and blossom into a chronic and disabling pain condition. It doesn't have to happen to you. To maintain the best back health possible, you have to address both the body and the mind, says Dr. Zacharia Isaac, a physical medicine and rehabilitation doctor at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital.

Acetaminophen safety: Be cautious but not afraid

Updated April 15, 2020

Cold, cough, and flu season is a good time to revisit the risks of acetaminophen—the pain and fever reliever in Tylenol and many other over-the-counter medications. Billions of doses of acetaminophen are consumed safely every year, but deaths still occur from accidental overdoses and thousands of people end up in the emergency room. More than 600 products contain acetaminophen, and inadvertently combining them can nudge you into the red zone.

"People don't realize that these doses all add up, and before you know it you've exceeded the recommended dose of acetaminophen," says Dr. Melisa Lai Becker, instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School and a specialist in emergency medicine and toxicology at Harvard-affiliated Cambridge Health Alliance.

Diet + exercise = less arthritis pain

Updated December 1, 2013

Image: Thinkstock

In overweight people with knee arthritis, combining diet and exercise eased symptoms better than either alone, researchers reported in The Journal of the American Medical Association. The 454 people involved in the study were 55 and older, with a body mass index (BMI) classifying them as either overweight or obese. Previously, they all lived relatively sedentary lifestyles. Over 18 months, study participants followed a regimen of either strict dieting, exercise three days per week, or both. Those who dieted and exercised lost 11.4% of body weight, in comparison to 9.5% in people who dieted without exercising. The exercise-only group lost minimal weight.

The diet-and-exercise group saw the most improvements in pain and inflammation, walking speed, and overall mobility. The gains were modest, but could have a positive impact in sedentary and overweight people.

Back pain treatment doesn't follow recommendations

Updated November 1, 2013

Many doctors overtreat their back pain patients. Instead of following current guidelines and recommending NSAIDs and physical therapy, they are prescribing narcotics and sending patients for imaging scans and more aggressive treatment.

Hot or cold for back pain?

Updated November 1, 2013

Q. Which is best for pain and stiffness from a sore back—heat or cold?

A. When choosing between heat and cold, you may be a better judge than your doctor. Nerve fibers that carry pain sensation also sense change in temperature. As a result, stimulating the nerves with either heat or cold can diminish your discomfort, so you can choose which one to try. Both may ease your pain.

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