Section 10

Part 6


SYMPTOMS—A round-shouldered appearance.


It is easy, over the years, to let your posture collapse. Here are several suggestions to get it back into shape:

• Relax and practice standing up straight. Put your back and head against a wall as you look forward. Hold it for a minute and get a feel for what the ideal is like.

• Recognize that, as you go through the day, you will not always maintain this ideal. But it gives you something to work toward.

• The best place to practice good posture is when you are walking outside. Try to walk erect. Notice that doing so makes it easier to take full breaths of air, and you feel better.

• Then, when it is time to work, relax, and work, do not worry about keeping a ramrod back when you are stooping over, writing, washing the dishes, etc. Real living is not ramrod; it is a variety of positions.

• But, when you take your outdoor exercise, return closer to that ideal of perfect posture.

Here are more ideas:

• Lie on the floor with your chin down and head straight forward.

• When you stand, keep both feet flat on the floor. Resting on one leg leads to curvature of the back.

• Adjust your chair height, so that your thighs are be parallel with the floor and your knees are level with, or slightly higher than, your hips. If not, they pull your body forward; your back slumps; and you work harder, trying keep your back upright.

• If you place a small pillow between the small of your back (the lumbar area) and the back of the chair, you will tend to sit straighter.

• As you are sitting, you ought to be able to feel the bones in your buttocks against the seat. If you cannot do so, wiggle around until you can. When you cannot feel them, you are slumping.

• When seated at a table and not working, sit 6-8 inches away from it. This will keep you from slumping over onto it. Only your wrists will be on the edge of the table before you. Maintain this same distance if you are working on a computer or typewriter.

Television news announcers use the following two methods, to make a better appearance when they talk while being seated:

• (1) Tend to sit on the edge of your chair; you will be less likely to slump back into it.

• (2) While sitting on the edge of your chair, curl one foot under the chair and stretch the other out for balance. This will help keep your back straight.

• Do not cross your legs. Doing so throws your body out of alignment. Keep your feet flat on the floor.

• In a car, pull the seat toward the pedals, until your knees are bent and slightly higher than your hips, and your thighs are parallel to the floor. Either place a small cushion behind the small of your back or use the seat adjustment available in some cars.

• Get enough sleep at night. You cannot stand or sit straight if you are exhausted.

• Sleep on a firm mattress. When you lie on your side, both hips and shoulders should sink in just a little.

• When sleeping, either sleep on the side, with a pillow under your head, thick enough to keep your head untilted, or sleep on your back, with only a thin pillow under your head and possibly a small pillow under your knees.

• Walk, run, cycle, or do exercises and stretching, to keep your muscles stretched and in good condition.

• Here is a way to rest your back and improve your posture at the same time, either during break or at the end of the day: Lie on the floor for a few minutes with your legs on a low chair or stool.

ENCOURAGEMENT—A ransom has been paid for the souls of men, but we must individually surrender our lives to God, so that we may claim that ransom. God has a heaven full of blessings for you.

BACKACHE (Low Back Pain; Sciatica; Slipped Disk; Lumbar Disk Herniation; Spinal Disk Prolapse)

SYMPTOMS—Pain in the back, frequently in the lower back.

If pain comes after lifting something heavy, after coughing, or after unusually heavy exercise, and the pain prevents you from moving or shoots down one leg, you may have a herniated disk.

CAUSES—Backache, or pain felt in the spinal column, is one of the most common reasons for hospitalization in the Western world. Your spinal column has a complicated interconnection of muscles, tendons, bones, and ligaments.

It is helpful to identify the various parts of the spine, also called the vertebrae (singular is vertebra): The top part of the spine, where the neck is located, is called the cervical spine (or cervicals); the shoulder and mid-part (which protrudes outward in an adult) is called the thoracic; the lower portion (called the hollow of the back) is the lumbar; and the bottom part (ending in the tailbone or coccyx) is the sacrum. The first cervical is the atlas. This enables your head to tilt up or down. The second is the axis; it permits your head to turn from side to side.

Aches and pains in the lower back can be a chronic problem. This pain can be in the spine or it can be in the sacroiliac. The sacroiliac joint connects (articulates is the correct word) the spine to the pelvic bone. (There can also be pain in the muscles of the lower back; it is called lumbago.)

A subluxation occurs when two vertebrae get out of proper alignment with one another. A chiropractor puts these back in place for relatively little cost.

Sciatica is chronic pain in the sciatic nerve, which is the largest nerve in the body. This nerve, which passes down through the upper leg, can experience neuralgia and neuritis as a result of a pinched nerve in the lumbar region. If the problem is not solved, eventually the leg where the pain is may no longer receive nerve signals from the brain or the central nervous system.

The intervertebral disks (also spelled discs) are made of cartilage and act as cushions between the vertebrae. Each disk has a tough, fibrous, outer layer surrounding a soft interior, which provides the cushioning.

Lumbar disk herniation and lumbar disk prolapse occur when the disk herniates (ruptures or breaks) and some of this soft inner disk material pushes outward against the spinal cord to one degree or another. This may be very serious; and, like sciatica, it can lead to muscle wasting, reduced nerve reflexes, and muscle weakness. Disk herniation and prolapse are often erroneously referred to as a "slipped disk."

Causes of lower-back pain include wrenched or damaged muscles, bones, tendons, or ligaments, Kidney or bladder infection, prostate problems, or female pelvic disorders may cause backache. Overeating, overdrinking, eating the wrong kinds of food, and constipation can also be involved. The spinal bones, and muscles attached to them, are weakened by wrong habits. Chronic conditions causing back pain include arthritis, bone disease, or abnormal curvature of the spine (scoliosis).

Other causes of back pain are poor posture, walking habits, improper shoes, lifting, straining, calcium deficiency, slouching when sitting, or soft mattresses.

There is a definite relationship between smoker's cough and severe back pain. Injecting the nicotine equivalent of one cigarette decidedly reduced the measured blood flow in the vertebral body. It is also thought that using tobacco interferes with the elasticity of connective tissue.

A small percentage of lower-back pain may be linked to flat feet.

Sometimes a serious case of constipation will cause an ache in the back, from impacted stools or pressure from gas.

(More rarely, back pain can result from congenital abnormalities, metabolic disorders, cancer, or referred syndromes.)

The back pain can also be the result of an excess of lactic acid in the muscles, following muscular exercise. Drinking enough water helps lessen this problem.

Where can you go to get help with your bad back? There are lots of experts out there:

Chiropractors adjust the back by pushing and thrusting. They also recommend nutritional and lifestyle changes. In 1994, the U.S. Agency for Health Care Policy and Research issued a report, that chiropractors generally provided the most effective treatments for acute back pain. They cost far less, do the job quicker, and do not give medicinal drugs (most of which are usually poisonous). The British Medical Journal reported that chiropractic treatments proved more successful than hospital treatments in nearly every way.

X rays are generally considered a routine part of back pain diagnosis; yet only a few back conditions show up on x rays! If the pain is caused by muscle strain or a herniated disk, an x ray will not reveal anything because muscles, disks, and ligaments are all soft tissues. Beware of x rays if you are pregnant.

Orthopedic surgeons are another source of help. These are medical doctors who also do back surgery, they are very likely to recommend it—and that is something you want to avoid, if at all possible.

Osteopaths can prescribe drugs and do surgery also, but they are less likely to do so.

Physiatrists, also called doctors of physical medicine, are also medical doctors. They have a good record of helping to solve serious back problems (such as disk problems) without resorting to surgery (which they are not licensed to do). They recommend lifestyle changes, back braces, etc.

Physical therapists try to restore muscle strength and joint and spine mobility.

Which back pains are the most serious?

Back pain that comes on suddenly, for no apparent reason.

Back pain that is accompanied by other symptoms, such as fever, stomach cramps, chest pain, or difficult breathing.

An acute attack of back pain that lasts more than 2-3 days, without any relief.

Chronic pain which lasts more than 2 weeks.

Pain in the back which radiates down the leg to the knee or foot.


First, we will consider less serious back pain:

• The most common cause of backache is muscle strain. Rest will generally eliminate the problem. Bed rest for 24 hours may be needed.

• Soaking in a tub of warm water may be quite relaxing to a strained back.

• For the first 72 hours after a back strain occurs, an 8-minute ice massage often helps. Use ice cubes (or freeze water in a paper cup or frozen fruit- juice can). Massage the area and about 6-8 inches around it.

• After 72 hours, use alternate hot and cold applications. Apply a wrung-out hot towel for 30 seconds, followed by brief cold. Do this 4-5 times.

• Ice packs are especially helpful in relieving muscles spasms.

• Moist heat reduces local inflammation and increases blood flow to the area.

• Some people think that staying in bed for a week will help back pain. This is not true. If you remain in bed a week, it will take two weeks to rehabilitate.

• Stretching a sore back will tend to accelerate the healing process. Gently bring your knees up from the bed and to your chest. Once there, put a little pressure on your knees. Stretch, then relax. Do this again.

Preventive measures that will help you, either before or after experiencing back problems:

• Be very careful when lifting something. Take several deep breaths, to increase muscle strength and then slowly lift with the legs, not the back, and hold the object close to your body. Do not lift from a bending forward position (closing windows, lifting things from deep in the car trunk).

• Keep the body warm and do not become overly fatigued. When the muscles are chilled or you are exhausted, it is easier to injure joints because the muscles are not able to do the work needed.

• Do not take a hot bath just before doing heavy exercise, for your muscles will be in a weaker condition.

• Proper nutrition, including adequate amounts of calcium, minerals, vitamin D, etc. See "Bones, Strengthening" for much more on this.

Exercises, to build the muscles are very important, if you would avoid back trouble. More on this later in this article.

• Walking and rowing are good for the back (walking is good for just about everything!).

• When sleeping, either a firm mattress should be used or a -inch thick ply board should be placed beneath the top mattress. Place 1-2 pillows under the knees to straighten the lumbar curve. When lying on the side, flex the knees and place a pillow between them.

• Avoid sleeping on the stomach; it increases the swayback and twists the neck. This is due to the fact that the trunk, being heavier, sinks farther into the bed, causing the back to arch.

• It is reported that water beds, which do not make a lot of waves, may help people with back trouble to sleep.

• When you get out of bed, roll out slowly and carefully. Do not sit straight up in bed.

• If you have back pain, slide to the edge of the bed. Then, keeping your back rigid, let your legs off the bed first. That will act as a springboard, lifting your upper body up and off the bed.

• Sit in a straight chair with a firm back. The knees should be higher than the hips; if necessary, use a small footstool. Avoid soft sofas and stuffed chairs. Chair arms help support the shoulders and upper back. Get up and move about every so often.

• When in a car, push the car seat forward, to raise the knees higher than the hips. This lessens back and shoulder strain. Use safety belts.

• Look for a car with adjustable lumbar support, and adjust the support down as low as it goes. Then, if necessary, raise it a notch or two.

• Do not stand in one position for long periods.

• High-heeled shoes will bring trouble sooner or later. Women should wear low-heeled shoes if they want to protect their pelvic organs and spine.

• Good posture when sitting, standing, or walking should be the goal.

Exercises to strengthen the back:

• Do press-ups which are half a push-up. Lie on the floor, on your stomach. Keep your pelvis flat on the floor and push up with your hands, arching your back as you lift your shoulders off the floor. This will help strengthen your lower back.

• Do floor swimming. Lay on your stomach on the floor. Raise your left arm and right leg. Hold for one second, then alternate with the right arm and left leg. Go back and forth. This extends and strengthens the lower back.

• Do a crunch sit-up. Lay on your back on the floor, with knees flexed and feet flat on the floor. Cross your arms with your hands on your shoulders. Raise your head and shoulders off the floor as high as you can while keeping your lower back on the floor. Hold for one second, then repeat.

• Know your limit when exercising. If you feel fine 1-2 days after exercising, then it is safe to continue them.

Spinal surgery: Should you have a back operation? Sometimes the problem is so serious that a back operation is necessary. But, if at all possible, try to avoid having one. Not only are they expensive, but frequently do not solve your movement and pain problems. It is an intriguing fact that, according to U.S. government reports, only 1% of those with back pain obtains relief from back surgery. And there is always the possibility that the operation will only result in greater pain, more serious damage, and even less mobility. But, after weighing all the possibilities, you may still decide to undergo it.

—Also see "Sciatica."

ENCOURAGEMENT—Those who come frequently to the throne of grace, offering up sincere, earnest, prayers for God's help will not fail of fulfilling His plan for their lives.

SCOLIOSIS—1 (Curvature of the Spine)

SYMPTOMS—The spine is curved slightly to one side.

CAUSES—Scoliosis occurs 80% of the time in girls, and primarily in preteen and teen years, during rapid growth spurts.

Diagnosis is made by having the person bend over away from you. Look for lateral deviation (a leaning to the left or right).

The primary cause is that one set of the spinal muscles (right side or left side) is stronger than the other. This causes an "S" curve in the spine.

These changes are the result of degeneration of muscles on one side; and, in some instances, they may be the early stage of muscular dystrophy.


• In the early stages, scoliosis can be eliminated. But the person must be faithful in taking mineral and vitamin supplements. Failure to do so can result in serious damage, back braces, and surgery.

• Avoid food allergies, eat a nourishing diet; drop all junk foods, caffeine, alcohol, soft drinks, etc.

• Each day take vitamin E (800-1,200 IU), selenium (500-1,000 mcg), calcium (2,000 mg), and magnesium (1,000 mg).

—See "Scoliosis—2."(next article) Also see "Bones, Strengthening" for much more information.

ENCOURAGEMENT—No sin is small in God's sight; but, in His strength, we can resist all temptation to leave His side and run after the trinkets Satan offers us. Cling to Jesus and, in spite of the disappointments of earth, you will have peace of heart.

SCOLIOSIS—2 (Curvature of the Spine; Posterior-Lateral Scoliosis) (J.H. Kellogg, M.D., Formulas)

TO IMPROVE GENERAL NUTRITION AND BLOOD MOVEMENT—Graduated Tonic Friction baths; massage, carefully administered; nutritious aseptic dietary; sweating baths, especially the Radiant Heat Bath followed by Cold Mitten Friction, carefully given; copious water drinking.

TO COMBAT LOCAL MORBID PROCESSES—Fomentation to the back twice daily, followed by Heating Compress to spine. The Heating Compress may be applied at night and retained until morning. Hot Leg Bath with Fomentation to the spine; prolonged Neutral Bath, 1-4 hours daily.

TO RELIEVE COLONIC SPASM AND NERVOUS IRRITABILITY—Warm Bath at 960-1000 F.; prolonged Neutral Pail Pour to the spine at 930-980 F., with Heating Compress at night; Rest in bed when symptoms are progressing.

FOR MUSCULAR WEAKNESS OR PARALYSIS—Massage, exercise of muscles, special gymnastics.

CONTRAINDICATIONS—Avoid the Cold Douche and other general Cold Baths, prolonged Hot Baths, exercise to the extent of fatigue.

—Also see "Scoliosis—1." (the above article)

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