The most common complaint I hear in my office is back pain; sometimes accompanied by numbness, burning, or tinging sensations that radiate down their arms and/or legs.
While I tell my patients that the first goal of treatment is to eliminate their pain, I also let them know that it is equally important to identify the cause(s) of the pain. With that understanding, we can make lifestyle modifications to both facilitate the healing process and prevent the symptoms from returning.
My practice demographics
Because I practice in San Francisco, it is not surprising that the majority of my patients work in front of computer screens.
Sitting 8-10 hours (or more!) each day seated at a computer creates a great deal of muscle and joint tension which, over time, can lead to back pain. And these problems have been exacerbated during the pandemic because so many people are working remotely–hunched over their laptops, at kitchen tables, in bed, or on soft living room couches.
So my first recommendation is, stand up! Don’t spend more than 45 consecutive minutes in a seated position. Set your phone timer as a reminder. Get a glass of water, walk around the block (or the room), but do whatever it takes to get you out of your seat. Even better: Get a sit/stand desk, and a high quality ergonomic chair. Moving between seated and standing positions throughout the day will help to prevent the build-up of muscle tension that can lead to pain. It also has the added benefit of helping concentration.Read the rest of this entry »
Both my patients and non-patients ask me about sit/stand desks. They are all the rage. Many of the workplaces I visit are open-plan and stocked with various versions of these up/down desks, which enable computer workers and others who rely on monitors to change positions throughout the day.
The popularity of the sit/stand desk has given rise to a burgeoning market. There are lots of choices at a variety of price points. There are several things that determine the best choice for an individual or a company: They include space, look, ease of use and budget. I’d like to describe the pros and cons of some of the top models in the marketplace.Read the rest of this entry »
I just returned from a relaxing week-long vacation in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. The ocean was beautiful, the sunsets magnificent, and the tequila sweet, strong and flowing.
My wife and I stayed at a large resort, supported by lots of local workers: gardeners, maids, cooks, waiters, maintenance people, and many others.
As a chiropractor, I could not help but notice that many of the workers were wearing lumbar (lower back) support belts. These are the cloth and Velcro braces that can be wrapped tightly around one’s waist. The reason workers use these is to prevent low back injury, which is the most common work injury.
Growing up, I remember my parents sitting in front of the television set in their big faux leather Lazy Boy recliners. They would lean back and the foot supports would rise as they sank into their chairs dreamy soft cushiness. Usually, after about twenty minutes, they would be asleep and when they finally trudged off to bed, it would usually be with aching backs. Another chair related “injury!”Read the rest of this entry »
In our highly medicated society, Americans consume more mind and mood altering drugs—legal, illegal and prescribed–than any other people in the world. Cocaine, heroin, marijuana, Xanax, Ambien, Atavan, alcohol and many more: a full spectrum of pain, anti-anxiety, anti-depressant and stimulating medications.
I’ve just gotten back from my fourth NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) show in Anaheim, CA. NAMM is a yearly gathering of makers and sellers of instruments, amplification systems, headphones, concert lighting, digital interfaces and many more tools for the musician.
The show is not open to the public. I attend as a volunteer with MusiCares, the health care arm of the Grammy Foundation. In that role, I spend time in the Musicares booth, advising musicians on health issues–from proper lifting techniques and nutrition to recommendations about stools, straps and other ergonomic equipment.
Then, as my rock and roll self, I cruise the Convention Center halls: four floors packed with the latest equipment, from the classics—Gibson, Fender, Taylor, Rhodes—to the small boutique producers. Companies with names like TecAmp, Resonance N’goni, and Hapi Drum, who are creating high quality gear in small workshops around the world. Basses and guitars that you’ll never find at Guitar Center; high end amps and instruments that even I had never seen before.Read the rest of this entry »
The objects with which we surround ourselves serve multiple functions. On the one hand they may be utilitarian: dressers, chairs, and desks that support our home and work lives. At the same time, they tell us and others who we are. Does our home or office convey sophistication (elegant furniture), intelligence (books) or artiness (paintings and sculpture)? Are we practical (sparely furnished rooms) or frivolous (surrounded by knick-knacks)?
These objects can also convey status and authority. A king’s throne, for example, sits squarely in the middle of the reception hall. It is likely the most ornately carved piece of furniture in the room and is placed on a platform, denoting power and proximity to God. Or take in contrast the simple stool, without frills, designating its user as a worker focused on completing a singular task.
Both “chairs” serve a function and tell a story. Like that king and those workers, we create our worlds with purpose.Read the rest of this entry »