As winter rolls along we are faced with some tasks that can cause injuries to our spines, and other parts of our bodies. Shoveling, feeding a fireplace, pellet, or wood stove, stacking and carrying wood all can stress our muscles and joints. Winter sports also have their bumps and bruises. The most common injuries we see in the office during winter from these activities are to the lower back, shoulders, and knees. A fall on the ice can cause a variety of contusions, sprains, or even fractures if you hit hard or land wrong. To avoid injuries to the lower back from shoveling I recommend the following; switch sides with the shovel frequently using the left and right hands, take breaks every 15-20 minutes to hydrate and rest. If you experience sudden pain when shoveling you should stop, rest, and evaluate if you can continue.
Whether to use ice or heat is a common question in our office for back pain. We recommend the following. For pain you should ice your back for 2o minutes per hour when possible for 24-48 hours. For stiffness we recommend using heating pack, Jacuzzi, or a hot shower to relieve symptoms quickly. Over the counter pain, anti inflammatory medication, or holistic remedies can be used for a short time and can often provide temporary relief.