This was my first winter in Maine.
I am proud to say that we shoveled all winter long and then when the last storm came we finally caved and went to Home Depot to get a snow blower. It only took me 39 years to make that purchase! I realized that my back was starting to hurt for longer periods of time and I said, “You know I’ve talked to people about this before. I should take my own advice and reconsider what I am doing.”
Spring time yard work brings a whole new wave of back pain issues. People in Maine LOVE their gardening! What I see is people deal with pain all year long and then once planting season comes along they start to notice that the pain holds them back from being able to bend forward and work in the garden. That is often the tipping point to finally get the pain looked at.
Important things to remember when you are working in the garden:
- If you are having some degree of discomfort when you crouch down and start digging in the dirt only work in short periods of time.
- Warm up those muscles and maybe even go out for a nice walk before you start.
- Stretch out your hamstring muscles.
- Give your system a chance to adjust to this “new” thing you are going to do. Jumping in and spending all day bent forward is only going to lead to problems.
Don’t wait to treat your pain
I think spine surgery often has a negative reputation that makes people feel afraid. By the time people finally come to me I see all kinds of things that have been a problem for YEARS. You don’t want to wait that long because once you have a chronic pain problem it becomes more of a challenge to treat.
You don’t need to be afraid to see a spine specialist. I spend most of my time settling people down and saying, “Look this is a problem, but it doesn’t mean you must have a surgery.” or “Let’s talk about what type of surgery would make this better for you.” Often, we are talking about same-day procedures. You come in, we perform the surgery, and you get to go home the same day.
Bottom line, I love to talk about spine all day long! My goal is to break down that fear barrier and get the word out that if someone has questions I am here to answer them. Patients are more than welcome to come in and just talk. I think that’s a major part of my job. To reassure people.
Making sure your yard work gets done pain free, I can do! How pretty your garden looks…I’ll leave that to you.
By Dr Stephen Clark – Central Maine Orthopaedics