Why Opioids Should Be A Last Resort Option for Patients with Chronic Back Pain

Here’s a staggering fact for you – over 80% of the population will experience back pain at least once in their lives.

Back pain is one of the most common problems that people have nowadays.

A popular way to treat back pain is the use of opioids.

But there are a lot of downfalls to prescribing prescription pain medications for the treatment of back pain.

And some people may not respond well to the medications.

Read on to see why opioids are bad for patients with chronic back pain.

They are addictive

One of the biggest reasons that doctors are trying to stay away from prescribing opioids to patients is because of their addictive properties.

Nearly 91 people die every single day in the United States due to opioid overdose.

Because they are highly addictive, opioids are suggested to be used for chronic back pain only as a last resort.

They may not help with chronic back pain

Not everyone responds the same way to medications. In fact, the use of opioids may not even help your back pain.

Some studies show that taking pain medication can actually make things worse for your pain.

These same studies show that long term, opioids don’t help with lower back pain. In fact, they are not meant to be a long-term option. This is generally how addiction occurs.

They can make you even more sensitive to pain

You may be thinking this can’t be true. But the fact of the matter is that opioids can cause you even more harm.

Many studies have shown that not only do opioids not help many patients, they also show that in many cases opioids can make a person more susceptible to pain.

After extended periods of use, opioids and other painkillers can cause nerves to become used to the blockage of pain.

Once a patient is no longer treated by the pills, the nerves are no longer able to handle the pain.

What are the alternatives?

There are many proven replacement treatment options that do not include taking medication.

Many doctors advise that patients first try increasing their physical activity. Treatments such as acupuncture and physical therapy sessions have proven to be effective in treating chronic back pain.

There is also the very effective decompression tactic that has been shown to help many patients. The DRS Protocol is the practice of using pressure to reduce pain.

This is a noninvasive way to treat back pain without using surgery or medications.


Opioids are often part of a treatment plan for back pain.

But many doctors are no longer prescribing these types of medications to their patients.

And for good reason. Opioids are highly addictive and can cause more harm than good.

Studies have also shown that they are not effective in helping your long-term back pain.

If you are experiencing chronic back pain, you may want to seek alternative methods.

Are you experiencing bouts of back pain? Reach out to a spine specialist in your area that can relieve your discomfort.

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Stress Less this Holiday Season

ways to reduce stress during the holidays
The most wonderful time of the year can be stressful for some. The pressures of hosting family and friends can weigh on people both mentally and physically. But that doesn’t mean you can’t control what you can. Following are a few tips to reign in holiday anxiety and keep your cool:

  • Take care of yourself. Get plenty of rest and eat a balanced diet. Maintain a consistent exercise regime. Drink at least 8 glasses of water a day. You’ll feel your best when your body is nurtured.
  • Find balance. Try to avoid overdoing it or, or else you’ll pay the price physically. Maybe break away for a massage or take a hot bath. Take time for you and lose the guilt.
  • Delegate. Know when to say no or ask for help. You’re only one person and you shouldn’t have to do everything alone. Ask family to help out by cleaning, running errands, decorating, or prepping for meals. Hire professional help if it’s in the budget. Choose simple over extravagant.
  • Keep the big picture in mind. Don’t sweat the small stuff. No one will remember if your pie was overdone or the potatoes were cold. Who’s around the table is what matters most.
  • Keep things simple. There’s no need to go into debt for Christmas shopping. Instead, choose meaningful items your friends and family will cherish. You might consider experiences over material goods.
  • Dress for comfort. Dress shoes may be snazzy but sometimes they aren’t the most practical. Instead, consider skipping the heel and choosing a flat. Your feet and back will thank you!

From our family to yours, we wish you a happy holiday!

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Suffering in Silence: The Stigma of Chronic Pain

chronic pain the silent condition

People with chronic pain are often fighting an uphill battle with societal expectations—in addition to facing the suffering that comes with their condition.

Our culture teaches us to ignore the existence of illness, especially when it is chronic, invisible, complex and doesn’t fit the “typical” description of sickness. Healthy people tend to assume it’s an all or nothing deal: you’re either well or unwell; in pain or not. If people in chronic pain are seen engaging in physically challenging activities, like exercise, people on the outside might assume they are in good health. But many people suffer through exercise for the sake of saving face or trying to feel better. And the reality is their pain level might vary in a matter of days or even hours. The same activity they did yesterday might be unbearable to attempt today.

Speaking of saving face, physical appearance is another variable that can be misleading. It’s entirely possible for people to look well on the outside but be suffering a great deal on the inside. Oftentimes people with chronic pain conditions aren’t taken seriously by friends and family, making them feel in like a liar or a wimp. This, in turn, can foster feelings of isolation,

Also, oftentimes people with chronic pain conditions aren’t taken seriously by friends and family, making them feel like a liar or a wimp. This, in turn, can foster feelings of isolation, loneliness, and even depression.

Blame it on ignorance, not on mean-spiritedness, though. Most people look at pain as a finite experience. You might suffer after an injury or surgery for some period of time. It’s supposed to be temporary. But when things don’t improve and symptoms worsen, those around the patient are often at a loss as to why.

There is also the fact that pain is often associated with old age. When a 20-something complains of a chronic ache or pain, it seems less credible than when your 80-year old grandma talks about her arthritis. But the reality is pain knows no age. Some conditions can start to flare up early in life and worsen with age.

The good news is that people living with chronic pain can benefit from support systems and resources that can help them manage their condition and lead a fulfilling life. We at the Denver Spine Institute want to help you live the best life possible. Call us today at (303) 456-4466 to discuss your chronic back pain condition and to see if you are a candidate for the DRS Protocol treatment for back pain.

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8 Ways to Love Your Back

love your back

Love is in the air. This Valentine’s Day, we want you to love your back. That means giving it a little extra TLC. After all, your back does a lot of hard work day in and day out. Here are a few ways to baby your back:

  • Sit less. Researchers have linked excessive sitting to obesity, diabetes, cancer, depression and back pain. Sitting for too long tightens some muscles and weakens other muscles causing lumbar extension, resulting in abnormal joint mechanics and pain. You might consider a standing desk to help prevent such issues.
  • Sleep position matters. Avoid sleeping on your stomach, as it puts too much pressure on your joints. Instead, sleep either on your side or your back, using pillows for support.
  • Stretching is your friend, as it can help prevent injury. Be sure to do this before and after working out or strenuous activities.
  • Driving in your future? Be sure to stop every few hours to stand and stretch.
  • Give your workspace an overhaul. The office chair experts at Workspace Solutions say: “You should be seated at eye level to your screen so that you don’t have to look too far down or too far up to do your work. Get a chair that provides support for your middle and lower back.
  • Ladies, ditch the stilettos. You want a shoe that can cushion and absorb shock. The good news is it’s becoming easier to find comfortable shoes that are equally as attractive.
  • Lift smart. Keep the load close to the waist for as long as possible. The distance of the load from the spine at waist height can help to offset strain on the back. Keep the heaviest side of the load next to the body.
  • Pamper yourself. Regular massage can loosen muscles and remove toxins.

Remember pain doesn’t have to be the norm. If your symptoms aren’t going away, it might be time to see a professional. Call Denver Spine Institute today at (303)456-4466 and let us help you fall back in love with your back!

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Ask the Doc: How to Avoid Low Back Pain

tips to avoid back pain


Tips to Avoid Back Pain

One of the most frequently asked questions we get here at Denver Spine Institute is “How Do I Avoid Low Back Pain?” Dr. Kuruvila, who has helped many patients in and around Lakewood and Denver, CO get relief from their low back pain, answers this question in the new series “Ask the Doc.”

Back pain is among the most common ailments Americans experience. The good news is there are countless opportunities every day to protect (or hurt) your back. Here are a few tips to help avoid low back pain:

  • Invest in a quality mattress. A firm mattress is the way to go.
  • Sleep position matters. Avoid sleeping on your stomach, as it puts too much pressure on your joints. Instead, sleep either on your side or your back, using pillows for support.
  • Stretching is your friend, as it can help prevent injury.
  • Driving in your future? Be sure to stop every few hours to stand and stretch.
    Consider your office set-up. The office furniture specialists at Workspace Solutions say that you should be seated at eye level to your screen, so that you don’t have to look too far down or too far up to do your work. And, you’ll want to get a chair that provides support for your middle and lower back.
  • Footwear matters. Cushion and sole are the two variables. You want a shoe that can cushion and absorb shock. The good news is it’s becoming easier to find comfortable shoes that are equally as attractive.
  • Lift smart. Keep the load close to the waist for as long as possible. The distance of the load from the spine at waist height can help to offset strain on the back. Keep the heaviest side of the load next to the body.

Back Pain Treatment in Denver, CO

These preventative measures can result in less pain and fewer doctors’ visits. Remember pain doesn’t have to be the norm. If your symptoms aren’t going away, it might be time to see a professional. Call Denver Spine Institute today to discuss back pain treatment options such as our non-surgical DRS Protocol treatment. Call us today at (303) 456-4466.

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Back Pain Myths: Busted

5 back pain myths

Some Urban Legends about Living With Back Pain

If you’ve been suffering from back pain, you are certainly not alone. In fact, one half of all working Americans admit to having back pain each year. If you’re one of the millions of Americans living with back pain, you might think you know all there is to know about back pain. But do you know the difference between facts and urban legends? We’re here to bust some popular myths that you might have heard about back pain.

1. “You Just Need a Firmer Mattress”

If you’ve ever suffered from back pain, you might have been told that your mattress is probably the cause of your pain. While it’s true that a proper mattress can reduce the effects of back pain, firmer does not always equal better. When looking for a mattress, you want a mattress that is firm enough to support your spine, yet soft enough for you to relax. Studies show that people who sleep with a medium-firm mattress actually have less back pain than those who use a firm mattress.

2. “It will go away – just give it some time.”

Another popular method of dealing with back pain is the “wait it out” method. You might have been told that back pain is only temporary and that it will go away in a few days. While the symptoms of certain back pain conditions might be sporadic and only temporary, the long term effects of back pain can be permanent.

Back pain typically is symptom of a bigger problem. If you’re suffering from back pain, there is a chance that what you’re experiencing is the early warning signs of a much larger problem such as sciatica or a herniated or degenerative disc. If left untreated, acute back pain can turn into a serious issue.

3. “Just Give it Some Rest.”

If you’ve ever experienced back pain, you probably have been told to “just give it some rest.” Yes, it is true that some time in bed can help reduce acute back pain, but if you’re in bed for more than a day, you’re actually doing more harm than good. Regular exercise and muscle activity helps to prevent back pain. In fact, many people with back pain over-protect their spine, which makes them more prone to injury. In order for the spine to stay healthy, it requires regular exercise and stretching.

4. “Back Pain is a Normal Part of Aging.”

You have probably heard that back pain is an unavoidable part of aging and that you should just accept it. Well did you know that young adults (age 30-50) are more likely to experience back pain? While it’s true that as we age, we become more susceptible to pain, we don’t have to accept it. There are so many treatment options available that you don’t have to live with the pain.

5. “Surgery is the Only Option treatment for back pain”

If you’ve ever seen a doctor due to back pain caused by a spine condition such as a herniated or bulging dis, chances are that back surgery was recommended. Many believe that back surgery is the only treatment for spine condition, but this is simply not true. In fact, surgery is far from the most effective option. Many patients who undergo back surgery are not satisfied with the results. Often times, surgery only offers only temporary or partial relief and follow-up surgeries may be needed within 3 to 5 years.

The fact is, surgery is a dangerous, expensive treatment option. Nonsurgical back pain treatment methods such as the DRS Protocol are a safer, more cost-effective and non-invasive alternative to back surgery.

Back Pain Treatment in Lakewood Colorado

The Denver Spine Institute in Lakewood, Colorado utilizes non-invasive treatment methods such as the DRS Protocol to reduce back pain. If you’ve been told to just accept back pain as a natural part of aging or that surgery is your only option, give us a call today at (303) 456-4466 to find out if you’re a candidate for the DRS Protocol.

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5 Health Benefits of Natural Sunlight

health benefits of sun

Here Comes the Sun

It’s been a long winter, but the good news is—it’s almost over! If you’ve been cooped up all winter, now that the warmer weather is here, it’s time to get outside and enjoy nature. It’s beautiful, and it’s even good for your health! That’s right. Did you know sunlight helps fight skin diseases such as psoriasis, acne, and eczema? Here are just a few of the many health benefits you can gain just by soaking up some rays.

1. Healing Properties

In 1903, physician Niels Finsen received a Nobel Prize for his contributions to the treatment of diseases. Finsen studied “concentrated light radiation” and learned that natural sunlight kills bacteria and contains many healing properties. Shortly after, German soldiers in WWI used this knowledge to their advantage, using sunlight to disinfect and heal wounds.

2. Improved Immune System

During exposure to sunlight, the amount of white blood cells increase. White blood cells play an important role in building the immune system and fighting off infections.

3. Fights Depression

Sunlight increases the levels of serotonin in your body, which can have a huge impact on your overall mental well-being. Depriving yourself of sunlight can lead to a condition called seasonal affective disorder – a form of depression most common during winter months.

4. A Better Night’s Sleep

Natural daylight helps restart your body’s internal clock, making sure you wake up feeling well rested and refreshed. Going outside in the mornings signals your body that it is daytime, making you feel less tired.

5. Lowers Blood Pressure

Skin exposed to natural ultraviolet light releases nitric oxide which helps to lower blood pressure. A recent study at Edinburgh University revealed that patients who were exposed to UV rays experienced a significant drop in blood pressure.

Hopefully, now you’re ready to get outside and catch some rays! Just keep in mind that if you haven’t spent time outside in a while, limit yourself to sun exposure. Too much sunlight can cause painful sunburns, and even increased risk of skin cancer. Enjoy the sun in moderation and remember to use sunblock on hotter days.

The spine specialists at Denver Spine Institute in Lakewood, Colorado are committed to living a healthy lifestyle and helping our patients do the same.

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Get Your New Year’s Resolutions to be Healthy Back on Track

Get Your New Year's  Resolution to be Healthy  Back on Track

Many of us make New Year’s resolutions with the best of intentions. We say we’ll lose 50 pounds this year, stop eating fast food and workout every day. While some do actually follow through with their resolutions, many find themselves back to square one by mid-January. But the good news is success can be within reach with planning and dedication. Here are a few tips that can make your journey a little easier:

  • Set realistic goals. For example, it’s not reasonable to say “I will stop eating fast food altogether,” if you eat it daily. That would require a lot of discipline and planning on your part. Instead of going cold turkey, break your goal down into mini-goals. So, if you want to be able eliminate fast food from your diet, maybe start by cutting it down to three times a week. Then, cut back from there until it’s no longer part of your routine.
  • Track progress. Whether it’s weight loss or establishing a regular gym routine, focusing on progress can help you continue to succeed. For example, you might mark on your calendar the days you go to the gym. Or if you’ve shed a few pounds, keep a log of your weight so you can see patterns. Both will serve as a visible reminder of the changes you’ve made.
  • Set your intention. Support systems can be the difference maker in achieving goals. Do yourself a favor and inform your friends and family of your goal and ask them to keep your honest. Some tough love is good for you every now and then.
  • Reward yourself. Positive reinforcement can a motivating factor. A word of caution: Be sure the rewards don’t sabotage your goal. For example, instead of treating yourself a pizza for doing that spin class, you could reward yourself with a massage.
  • Love yourself. Sometimes life happens and achieving the goal seems nearly impossible. Stick with it and you’re bound to succeed.

From all of us at the Denver Spine Institute, we wish you a happy and healthy new year!

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Shoveling Snow Can Cause Back Pain

How to Avoid Injuries when Removing Snow

Here in Lakewood, CO, we are in the midst of full-blown winter weather. For most of us, that means we will probably be spending quite a bit more time shoveling snow off of our driveways. For those who suffer with back pain, and even many that don’t, severe back pain and other health risks can be brought on by shoveling snow. Before you head out to start shoveling, it is important to know how to do it correctly and safely to avoid injury.

Reducing Risk of Heart Conditions

The good news is that shoveling snow counts as a moderate physical activity, which can burn up to 250 calories per 30 minutes. The bad news is that over the years, researchers have discovered an increase in the amount of fatal heart attacks among those shoveling snow after heavy snowfalls. Due to a combination of sudden increase in physical activity, and the extremely low temperatures and wind that make it hard to breathe, shoveling snow can be much more dangerous than you might think.

When shoveling snow, take your time and don’t overexert yourself. If you find yourself short of breath, or with an increased heart rate, take a break. You might be tempted to get the job done as quickly as you can, but many do not consider that the physical stress that shoveling can cause, along with your heavy clothing can be a dangerously vigorous activity. Be sure to bundle up before going outside! Keeping yourself warm can help your lungs get the oxygen they need.

Reducing Back Pain

Along with an increased risk of heart conditions, shoveling snow may also cause severe back pain. The act of being hunched over for extended periods of time, lifting a heavy shovel full of snow can be extremely harmful to the spine.

If you already suffer with back pain, shoveling may only worsen your condition. Instead of risking further injury to your spine, pay a neighborhood kid to shovel the snow, or invest in a snow blower. However, if these are not an option, it is important that you know how to shovel snow safely. By utilizing the right techniques, you can diminish your risk of back pain and muscle strain.

  • Invest in an ergonomic shovel with a curved handle. Curved handles severely decrease the amount of bending over your back will have to endure.
  • Push the snow; don’t lift it
  • Use your leg muscles as much as possible
  • Keep your back straight; never bend your back more than 10 degrees.
  • Don’t twist your body as you throw snow
  • Keep one hand close to the blade, for better leverage
  • Stand with your legs hip width apart

Don’t forget about your elderly neighbors that might not be able to shovel snow on their own. A few minutes of shoveling can make all the difference in the world to a less able-bodied neighbor. Hopefully, by following these guidelines, you will be better prepared for shoveling and clearing snow in a safe manner.

Back Pain Relief at the Denver Spine Institute

If you find yourself suffering from back pain brought on by shoveling, be sure to give our offices a call at (303) 456-4466 to find out more about our non-surgical, non-invasive back pain treatment.

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Should You Get a Flu Shot?

Every year we ask ourselves if we should get a flu shot. The answer to that question depends on the individual.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all persons over the age of 6 months get an annual flu vaccination. There are rare exceptions to this recommendation.

Those that will not be able to receive the vaccination are those with allergies to any of the ingredients contained in the vaccination that may be life threatening.

The most compelling reason to get the flu shot is that according to flu.gov, you are 60% less likely to need medical attention for the flu. The vaccination has also been shown to reduce general illness, time lost from work, hospital stays, and death.

Other individuals who are encouraged to get an annual vaccination are:

  • Pregnant women
  • Young children over the age of 6 months
  • Older adults, particularly those over 65 years of age.

The CDC further recommends that you talk to your doctor if you have an allergy to eggs, have ever had Guillain-Barre Syndrome, or if you are not feeling well. If you are going to get the nasal spray, the CDC lists additional warnings and precautions that should be taken. Some of those warnings and precautions included; Asthma, Chronic conditions such as lung disease, heart disease, disorders with the kidneys or liver as well as neurologic or metabolic disorders.

Whereas the CDC makes the preceding recommendation, it is always a good idea to consult with your healthcare provider before getting a flu shot as your conditions may change from year to year.

Beyond the recommendations from the CDC, this is a personal choice. Do some research and talk to the provider of the flu shot. Recently, it was noted that the some flu shots available were not effective against the current flu strain. Therefore, the shot may provide a false sense of security.

However, because the flu virus can evolve from year to year, it is a good idea to get a flu vaccination each year.

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