Vacuuming and Back Pain

For today’s Spine Hack, I’m going to teach you how to vacuum safely. A lot of people with low back pain don’t like vacuuming. A lot of us push with the vacuum to our side and our feet facing forward. This puts a lot rotational stress on our spine, which can cause pain.

Instead, think like an athlete. Get a more athletic stance with your knees bent, place the vacuum in front of you to reduce rotational stress, and do little lunging strides (as shown in the video above). This will greatly reduce the stress on your spine and help you vacuum safely.

Can you see pain on MRI or x-rays?

research brief MRI index


Historically, studies have shown a poor correlation of MRI findings to subjective reports of pain. In other words, an MRI may find that a disc in your lumbar spine is bulging, but that disc may or may not be the actual cause of your pain. It seems counter intuitive, but in studies that have examined populations of people without symptoms, a significant percentage of them had positive MRI findings (bulging or degenerated discs, arthritis, etc).  Despite this evidence, diagnostic imaging has been overused, leading to unnecessary invasive procedures on conditions that were found on MRI but weren’t necessarily the cause of the patients’ pain.

This is why chiropractic care is such an important component of the health care system. Chiropractors encounter patients with bulging discs and degenerative disease on a daily basis, and the standard of care is to proceed with treatment, as long as there are no serious contraindications. Advanced imaging is obtained only if there is no significant progress with a series of treatments. Often, we’ll see patients in our Beaverton chiropractic office who come in with radiating arm pain or sciatica. From a thorough examination we can often tell if there is a bulging disc compressing a nerve, and at which level of the spine. Do we order an MRI right away? No. We proceed cautiously with care with the assumption that if it doesn’t improve by 50% or so within 4 weeks, then we’ll get an MRI. Guess what happens most of the time, though. The patient gets better before we ever need to order an MRI.

It appears that, as the above research brief displays, technology is advancing and radiologists are developing methods to more accurately assess spinal disorders for the likelihood that they are the direct cause of pain. My thoughts? This is good news, but even with more accurate radiology assessments, a thorough and accurate physical exam and diagnosis is the first and most important step in forming a treatment plan. In the case of neck and back pain, imaging should be used to confirm that diagnosis in the event that conservative treatment fails and thus guide decision making for more invasive procedures.

Improve Your Posture


For today’s Spine Hack, I want to show you a simple way to improve your posture. Posture can be overcomplicated; it’s something we tend to sometimes over-think.  But, by using a simple verbal cue, we can make it really easy and natural.

What I like to use is the phrase, “Sit Tall.” When sitting, reach your head towards the ceiling, which engages the deeper stabilizing muscles around your spine, as well as some of your core. This helps you sit up taller, aligns your spine, and takes pressure off of your joints and muscles, allowing you to feel better.

For more information about back pain and neck pain treatments in Beaverton Oregon, talk with me directly at (503) 526-8782. That’s today’s Spine Hack- until next time, Sit Tall!

Evidence supporting chiropractic treatment for disc herniations in Beaverton, OR

Herniated Disc Treatment in Beaverton

A recent study in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiologic Therapeutics investigated the effectiveness of chiropractic adjustments in the treatment of acute and chronic lumbar disc herniations. The authors of the study followed a group of patients with MRI-confirmed disc herniations undergoing chiropractic adjustments for their low back pain and sciatica. The findings were very favorable, “with nearly 70% of patients improved as early as 2 weeks after the start of treatment. By 3 months, this figure was up to 90.5%.” 

The findings of this study are significant for two reasons. First, previous research has supported the efficacy of chiropractic care for acute (less than 4 weeks duration) low back pain, but has shown mixed results for chronic (greater than 12 weeks duration) low back pain. Second, low back pain with radiating leg pain (sciatica), has been traditionally thought to have a poorer prognosis with chiropractic care compared with simple low back pain.  The results of this study cast doubt on previous studies and show that chiropractic adjustments can benefit a wide proportion of the population with both acute and chronic pain. The take home message from this is that in the absence of more serious threats to your health, chiropractic care is an ideal first option in the treatment of back pain, sciatica, and disc herniations because it is safe, effective, and does not involve the use of drugs or surgery.