Stand Up Tall for Feeling Happier and more Energetic

Good posture is good for your spine, and keeping your spine healthy is important to us here at The Denver Spine Institute in Lakewood, CO.  Stand up straight is advice you’ve heard all of your life, but here’s the real reason we want you to use good posture:  It will make your life happier.

Research has shown that walking while slouching can lead to feelings of depression.  However, you can reverse these negative feelings simply by walking in a more upright position, or by skipping.

Recently, Professor Erik Peper surveyed over a hundred students after they performed certain tasks either in a slouching mode, or in a more upright mode.  Students who walked and slouched reported feeling as if they had less energy, and had feelings of depression.  Those who walked in an upright, open manner, not only reported feeling better but also felt an increase in energy level.

Peper goes on to say that when we sit up straight, we are more likely to remember positive memories or think of something positive in general.  He also noted that if we skip, as opposed to walking, we will feel as if we have more energy.

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Reduce Pain by Thinking Positively

Thinking Positively: A Positive Approach to Pain Treatment

Time and again research shows us that people who possess a positive outlook on life are healthier and live longer. The Mayo Clinic cites positive thinking as a key part of healing — and of staying healthy. The frequent examples of the turnaround in health for patients in clinical studies who receive only placebos is evidence of what a powerful tool the mind can be in convincing the body to heal.

Positive thought processes can help for broader health issues, as well. Positive thinking techniques are frequently prescribed for people dealing with depression and anxiety. They help the mind learn to develop healthier ways of dealing with stress. Relieving stress, through positive thoughts, allows the body to have more energy to heal from pain and injury and boosts the body’s immunity to certain illnesses. A key factor in changing unhealthy behaviors like overeating and smoking is the practice of positive thinking techniques.

Positive results can grow from your positive attitude. Believing and imagining yourself healthy sends that message to your body. Regularly picturing yourself living in a healthy way and doing things you love, pain-free, can bring you closer to achieving these results. Positive thought processes help you stay focused on the actions you need to take to recover from injury or pain. And, they remind you which behaviors will help you stay healthy.

It is important to understand that it takes a conscious effort to replace negative thoughts with positive ones. Focusing on negative thoughts gives them more power — makes them seem more important than they are. But negative thoughts do nothing to help improve the problem or health issue. Positive thoughts will focus your energy on steps to make the problem go away, or to diminish the effects of poor health or injury. Positive thoughts processes turn your energy toward moving forward in a healing direction.

To get the full benefits of positive thinking methods, it is crucial to be consistent in using them. The Mayo Clinic suggests using positive conversations with yourself daily. If you are feeling negative thoughts or not, get into the habit of reminding yourself regularly to think about something positive. When you do find yourself focusing on negative thoughts — stop and immediately make an effort to replace them with a positive focus. Regular repetition will help to turn positive thinking into habit. Be patient with yourself if it is a struggle at first — don’t become frustrated. Remind yourself that it is an important part of a healthy, balanced life and will promote physical and emotional healing and support long-term health.

Nothing is a 100% guarantee of perfect health or longevity, of course. But extensive research has shown us that positive thinking techniques have major impacts on improving mental and physical health and promoting healing from pain and injury. The professionals at Denver Spine Institute work diligently to get to know you as a complete person. We work to understand and treat your pain — but we are even more focused on helping you find the healthy living tools you need to lead your most fulfilling life.

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Star Player for France Missing World Cup Because of Back Pain

Ribery Refuses Steroid Injections for Treatment of Back Pain

The star ringer, Franck Ribery, for France’s 2014 World Cup Team will not be playing in Brazil because of crippling back pain. The French team’s physician, Kevin Le Gall, prescribed an epidural steroid injection treatment when the pain first hit. However, Ribery refused the prescribed treatment for his back pain. This prompted Dr. Le Gall to inform the French press that Ribery would not be playing in Brazil because “he is afraid of injections.”

Ribery was quick to respond that “I’m not afraid…. But I didn’t want to have a cortisone injection. I know it’s not good.”

The use of epidural steroid injections is actually being questioned by pain management professionals as well. Recent research is increasingly calling into question the effectiveness of this temporary solution to back pain — even as use of the procedure continues to increase dramatically. Surgical Neurology International recently published a report that confirmed that steroidal spinal injections offer only short-term relief from pain and have a number of other risks.

The author of the report, Dr. Nancy Epstein, Chief of Neurosurgical Spine and Education at Winthrop University Hospital in Mineola, NY, indicated that spinal injections can expose patients to a risk of future health complications and exposure to disease. Epstein stated, “The multitide of risks attributed to these injections outweighs the benefits.” She summarized, “These procedures are not FDA approved, and, according to the majority of the literature, are both ineffective and unsafe.”

Some studies have even shown that saline injections (a placebo) are just as effective at treating pain as injecting steroids. Some studies have shown that these types of injections may increase a patient’s need for eventual back surgery. A high risk of exposure to contaminated injections is another concern of Dr. Epstein’s. Contamination can lead to stroke, paralysis, meningitis and even death. The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has reported that 14,000 patients were exposed to contaminated steroid injections. This resulted in illness in 337 patients and the death of 25.

The American Society of Interventional Pain Physicians, The American Pain Society and the American Academy of Neurology have all recommended that epidural steroid injections should only be used in the treatment of radiculopathy. This is a rare diagnosis that occurs in only a minority of back pain patients.

The popularity of steroid injections to treat back pain continues to increase, even as the medical community debates their effectiveness and safety. It may be true that this treatment provides short-term relief from pain, but the high risks associated may well outweigh the temporary benefits. After an initial thorough assessment to determine the cause of a patient’s back pain, the medical professional at Denver Spine Institute will prescribe only those approaches that we know are proven to give long term relief. Our patients know that our team puts the highest priority on each patient’s wellness, comfort and, above all, safety.

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Have fun and be Safe in the Mountains this Summer

Summer here in the Rockies can go by quickly, so it’s time to get out and enjoy the reason you live in Colorado.  Don’t let injuries cut your season short.  Take your time and think about what you may be doing to your spine.

The most injurious part of hiking isn’t’ the strain of walking, it’s the strain caused by not wearing a proper back pack.  So if you’re heading for Bear Lake or just Clear Creek Trail in Golden, don’t grab your kids school backpack.  Make sure you have a good pack with lumbar support, a chest strap to transfer some weight off your back, and a snug padded hip belt.  You don’t have to have the most expensive pack there is, but you do need a good one in order to prevent you from having to come see us with low back pain this fall.

Good strong back muscles are also important for hiking in the mountains.  Work out for a few weeks before you hit the trails.   It’s a good idea to warm up your muscles a bit before any stenuous summer activity from hiking, bicycling,  or working in the yard.

And don’t forget your sunscreen whenever you go outside.

If after summer fun activities you have any pains that persist for more than a few days, it could be a sign of serious injury.  Give us a call here at the Denver Spine Institute, in Lakewood, CO, and we can give you a full spinal examination using the most modern equipment available.

Have fun, but be safe this summer in the Rockies.

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AARP’s 2011 Advisory Against Back Surgery Still Holds True Today

A few years ago, The American Association of Retired Persons, or AARP, presented an article in their monthly magazine entitled “Four Surgeries to Avoid.”  The conclusions in this article are as valid today as they were in 2011 when first presented.  The numbers of these surgeries prescribed continue to rise sharply, even when the results of these surgeries are not consistently successful.

Among the four surgeries the AARP advises you avoid is “Complex Spinal Fusion for Stenosis.”  Spinal Stenosis is a common cause of low back pain, as well as neck pain.  It occurs when the open spaces in your spine narrow, putting pressure on your spinal cord or other nerves.

Experts quoted in the article point at two problems with this surgery.  The first is the success rate is often no better than what can be accomplished with far less invasive procedures.  Second, by fusing one vertebra, you put much more pressure on the neighboring vertebrae, which then just moves the problem along to another place on your spine, requiring another surgery.

One doctor quoted in the article has concluded that fewer than five percent of all back pain actually requires surgery, so there may be times when surgery is the right answer.  But before you endanger your health on the operating table, remember, all surgeries carry risks, get a second opinion.

Who can you talk with?  How about Dr. Eipe Kuruvila, MD,FRCA of the Denver Spine Institute in Lakewood, CO.  Dr. Kuruvila is one of only a handful of doctors in the world who has been trained to use the DRS Protocols™.  The DRS Protocols™ were developed by a Midwestern doctor who was looking for a non-surgical, non drug, pain free answer for ending back pain in his patients.  While only a few doctors, including Dr. Kuruvila, are trained to administer DRS™, there have been thousands of patients over the years who have successfully utilized the process to get rid of their back pain once and for all, without surgery or drugs.

Read the AARP article yourself by clicking here. Then, learn more about the DRS Protocols™ by clicking here.

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Rest, or Stay Active, What is the Best Advice for Low Back Pain Relief?

When you are suffering from severe low back pain, you’ll get lot’s of advice from friends and co-workers.  Some will tell you to go to bed and rest.  Then other’s will tell you, don’t do that, keep moving because normal activity is good for your aching back.

Recently, an international organization that studies and evaluates research decided to take a look at the data.  Their review showed little support for either theory.  Bed rest offered very little benefit, while staying active proved to be only slightly better than resting.

Here’s the problem. If you have back pain is it probably caused by a medical conditon, such as herniated disc, degenerative disc disease, sciatic nerve pain (sciatica), or some other medical problem with your spine.  Neither rest, nor moderate activity is going to cure any of these ailments.  You need to consult an expert.

Many people with back pain do consult experts, and are told they need painful, expensive surgery to solve the problem, and that after a few months of rehab and missed work, they may be OK.  In too many cases, the pain either continues after surgery, or comes back within a few years.

You need to talk to a doctor with more solutions than just surgery, someone like Dr. Eipe Kuruvila, MD FRCA of the Denver Spine Institute in Lakewood, CO.  Dr. Kuruvila is one of only a handful of Doctors in the United States who has been trained on the DRS Protocol™ for back pain relief.  The DRS Protocol™ is surgery free, pain free, and drug free.  You’ll even start to feel better after a few treatments.

The next time you’re dealing with debilitating low back pain, don’t go to bed, call Dr. Kuruvila at the Denver Spine Institute and find out if you are a candidate for the DRS Protocol™.  Stop suffering, and take back your life today.

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Putting Your Wallet in the Wrong Pocket can lead to Low Back Pain

Do you carry your wallet in the “sucker pocket?”  According to Judy Artunian of the Chicago Tribune, pickpockets call a man’s back pocket that because it’s the easiest pocket to pick, and the one most likely to contain his wallet.  Fashion magazines also decry men putting their wallets in their back pockets because it doesn’t look good.  And now, even a respected member of the Denver area medical scene. Dr Eipe Kuruvila, MD, also advises men not to keep their wallets in their back pockets. Why?  Because sitting on your wallet is a common cause for chronic low back pain.

According to Dr. Kuruvila, sitting on your wallet sets off a kind of chain reaction of events with your spine that usually ends up badly. One common result is sciatic nerve pain. Often called Sciatica, this pain along the longest nerve in your body can keep you from working, and even off your feet for weeks.

If you already have low back pain, caused by sitting on your wallet, degenerative disc disease, sciatic nerve pain or sciatica, a herniated disc, or any other reason at all, it’s time to visit Dr. Kuruvila at the Denver Spine Institute, to learn about surgery-free, drug-free, and pain-free ways to eliminate your low back pain.

If you’re sitting on your wallet right now, move it to your front pocket or set it on your desk.  You may upset a few pickpockets, but you’ll keep the fashion police happy, and maybe avoid having to visit the doctor.

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Tiger Woods pulls out of Tournament due to Chronic Back Pain

A bad back can keep you from doing the things you love, and even from being able to work. Chronic back pain can humble anyone, even the number one golfer in the world.

Today (March 25) Tiger Woods, age 38, pulled out of the Arnold Palmer Invitational Golf Tournament because of persistent back problems.  Speculation now is whether or not Woods will be able to participate in the Master Tournament in just a few weeks.

The fact is, a few weeks of rest may not help Tiger, or you either, not if you have a herniated disc, or degenerative disc disease.  These aren’t problems that go away by themselves.  Tiger may consider surgery, but he also has to consider this might keep him from playing golf for the rest of the year.  And, he might also consider that with surgery, the pain will often come back within a few years.

Fact is, you may be luckier than Tiger Woods.  You live in the Mile High Region, home of Dr.Eipe Kuruvila, MD FRCA, and the Denver Spine Institute in Lakewood, CO.  Dr. Kuruvila is one of a handful of doctors in the United States who is trained to use the DRS Protocol™.  The DRS Protocol™ is surgery free, pain free, and drug free.  Best of all, depending on your back problem, it really works to alleviate your pain.  The only way to learn if DRS™ will help you is to contact Dr. Kuruvila for consultation about your back problem.  With DRS™, you may be out golfing again before Tiger Woods.

UPDATE: Woods announced today, April 1, that he is not playing in the Masters, and that he is having back surgery.  Let’s see how long it takes before he can resume tournament level play, and how well his back holds up over the upcoming years.  Most back surgery does not permanently solve the problem of chronic back pain.  Nonetheless, we wish Mr. Woods the best of luck.

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Is Your Back Ready to Enjoy Spring & Summer Weather Ahead?

The Old Farmer’s Almanac calls for a drier, slightly warmer spring for the Mile High Region this year.

Did this winter’s snow shoveling or a slip or two on the ice cause back pain that will keep you out of the garden or hiking in the mountains this spring?  Winter probably isn’t the cause of your back or neck pain.  It just may have aggravated a problem you already have, such as degenerative disc disease, or a herniated disc, or sciatic nerve problems.  Sometimes, rest will help alleviate the pain, but who want’s to wait until fall to get outside and active again.  You don’t want to miss having fun with your children or grandchildren, while you sit immobile waiting for your life to begin again.

So what are your options?  Often, your doctor will recommend surgery.  Having surgery now, will certainly keep you from enjoying the spring and summer ahead, as it takes time and rehabilitation to recover from surgery.  But surgery has another problem:  It often doesn’t work, or will work for a few years, and then the pain returns.  Surgery, it seems often fixes one problem of your spine, but then shifts the stress to other parts, and in a few years, the problem returns, and you’re back in surgery.

Drugs may help alleviate the pain, but as you know, drugs carry their own long list of side effects.  The cure may be worse than the disease in some cases.  Besides, do you really want to start taking a strong drug now that you’ll probably have to keep taking the rest of your life?    Drugs still could be an answer if there weren’t a surgery free, drug free alternative.

But there is.  It’s called the DRS Protocol™.  It was developed by a Doctor in the Midwest who wanted to find a way to alleviate the pain and suffering of his patients.  Dr. Eipe Kuruvila, MD FRCA of the Denver Spine Institute has also dedicated his life to helping is patients live better.  Dr Kuruvila has studied the DRS Protocol™ and brought it back to his clinic in Lakewood,CO.  He is one of only a handful of doctors who has studied this pain free, drug free, and surgery free method of eliminating back pain.   Best of all, many patients begin to feel much better after only a few weeks, which means if you start now, you can be ready to enjoy the spring and summer just ahead of us.

Learn more about Dr. Kuruvila here, and more about the DRS Protocol, here, and don’t let a tough winter keep you from enjoying spring time in the Rockies this year.

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Sleeping with Lower Back Pain

For many people with lower back pain, getting a good night’s sleep is beyond comprehension.   But getting a good night’s sleep is a great way to let your body take time to heal, and let the natural process of sleep help reduce your pain.

So, it’s important to find a good way to sleep with your back pain, and also important to sleep the proper way to help prevent you from having back pain.

Let’s start with the mattress.  If your mattress is eight years or older, it needs to be replaced because eight years is the life span of the average mattresses.  Your mattress tag will show you its age.  Many mattress stores today will offer you a one month or longer trial period for a new mattress.  You may have to pay a little more to get this benefit, but it’s worth the money.  Only by sleeping on a mattress for a month or more can you really tell if it is giving you the proper support and comfort, or actually adding to your misery.

Your box spring or bed frame also affects the comfort of your mattress.  Sometimes it is helpful to simply put a solid piece of plywood under your mattress rather than using just the slats or inner spring for support.  It’s not expensive, so give it a try for a few weeks.

Now, let’s look at what position you sleep in at night.  There are pretty much just three ways people sleep:  On their sides, on their backs, or on their stomachs.

Whichever way you sleep, you need to get some good body pillows. These are available everywhere, and offer your body the extra support it needs during sleep.  How you use these pillows depends on how you sleep.

If you sleep on your side, the most common position, you need to place a large pillow between your knees and thighs. If you don’t, your upper leg gets no support.  It will then simply slide forward and rest on the mattress.  This rotates the lower spine, and even slight roation of the spine can contribute to back or hip pain.

If you sleep on your back, you need to place the pillow under your knees.  This helps you maintain the normal curve of your lower back.  You can also put a small pillow under your back for extra support.

Sleeping on your stomach is not recommended, because this can be hard on your back. But if there’s no other way, then ease the strain put on your back by using a pillow under your pelvis and lower stomach.  It’s best not to use a pillow for your head, but you can if it does not strain your back.

If your lower back pain persists, plan a visit to see Dr. Eipe Kuruvila, MD at the Denver Spine Institute, in Lakewood, CO.  Dr. Kuruvila, MD is one of a handful of doctors in the country who knows how to effectively use the DRS Protocol™, a surgery free, drug free, and pain free to eliminate your lower back pain, and give you back a good night’s sleep.

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