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Go To Health! (Because Life's Too Short. . .)

the Author:

Shara Rendell-Smock, author

Shara Rendell-Smock has written more than twenty computer software manuals, numerous newspaper articles, including a monthly health column for The Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

She's the author of two books of non-fiction: Getting Hooked: Fiction's Opening Sentences 1950's- 1990's
Living With Big Cats: The Story of Jungle Larry, Safari Jane, and David Tetzlaff
For ordering information, click here.

To read more about these books, participate in an ongoing joke contest, surf on over to .
The author currently lives on Florida's Space Coast.

Shara signed with a New York Literary agency in December.

"Back" to Health

Medical and chiropractic treatments - (Part 3 of 5)

Patient Profile

About 60% of a physical therapist's clientele is made up of patients with back trouble. Patients are typically in their mid-20s to forties, although certainly many are over sixty. People from all walks of life - truck drivers, weekend athletes, office workers, gardeners, dancers, students, retirees - seek treatment for back pain.

The implications for us desk jockeys? The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says that people in poor physical condition, or who routinely do heavy labor, or who have long periods of sitting or standing are at greater risk for low-back problems. These people also get better more slowly.


"The straw that broke the camel's back" can set off the cumulative effects of recurrent injury. Making the bed or bending over to pick up a pencil from the floor can result in a back injury.

Just as back pain varies from mild to severe, its causes can be wide-ranging. Some are relatively easy to treat, such as incorrect lifting, strain, compression injury, weak abdominal muscles, incorrect gait patterns, prolonged anxiety, repetitive movements, dehydration, poor foot arches, giving birth, either past or recent injuries, overuse or its opposite--too little movement. Stress and worry can cause pain by producing adrenaline, which tenses muscles and induces muscle spasms.

Other causes are more complicated, yet treatable to some extent, such as arthritis, auto accidents, osteoporosis, scar tissue, pinched nerves, scoliosis, and bulging or herniated discs.

Many Treatment Options

Sometimes a back problem resolves without treatment, given a little time. If you determine you need medical attention, you may choose one or a combination of providers: physician, chiropractor, physical therapist, massage therapist. If you live in the US, you can ask your insurance agent which treatments your insurance covers.


A physician may use X-ray, MRI, CT, or other tests to determine the underlying problem. He may advise a particular activity level, from bedrest to moderate exercise and may recommend medications to increase comfort while healing.

If your doctor recommends surgery, he will inform you of possible risks and benefits. The good news about back surgery is that this usually is not a decision that needs to be made quickly. Patients often can pursue various methods of treatment to see if the back will heal.

In today's society, about 95% of the people who need to exercise don't. Exercise is the single most important factor to PREVENT injury and to result in less discomfort when injury occurs.


The American Chiropractic Association indicates 80% of Americans will suffer from low-back problems at some point in their lives.

Chiropractic treatments can include spinal manipulation, electrical stimulation, moist heat, ice pack, among other options.

Early treatment is paramount. When people get back pain, they figure it'll go away, and without treatment, it may or may not. The key is to get help - from a chiropractor, physician, physical therapist, or massage therapist - before the problem becomes more painful and requires more treatment than it would have if the patient had sought it earlier.

Next Week:

Physical therapy options and self-help tips

Do you ever suffer from back pain? If so, I'd like to hear about your experiences, treatments and tips. E-mail me at Also - The next series will cover Nutrition. How much do you know about it? What do you remember from school? I'm always interested in your input.

Back to the top / The New Sideroad / Go to the latest column

Issue # 16
Tuesday, Feb. 17, 1998


"Back" to Health

Part 1 of 5- Looking After Your Back

Part 2 of 5- Avoiding Back Sprains

Humour and Health

Part 1 of 5 - "Think You're Funny?" (A look at laughter.)

Part 2 of 5 - What the Experts Say. . .

Part 3 of 5 - A Matter of Perspective

Part 4 of 5 - Humour as a Coping Mechanism

Part 5 of 5 - Wooten on Humour and Coping

Overcoming Sleep Disorders

Part 1 of 4 - how your mattress can make all the difference.

Part 2 of 4 - strategies to help you sleep.

Part 3 of 4 - more strategies to help you sleep.

Part 4 of 4 - what is a sleep log and how does it work?


Stats indicate that for those over the age of 50, one of every two women and one in eight men will have an osteoporosis-related fracture. Our sedentary lifestyle puts us at risk for this disease. Yet osteoporosis is not inevitable. Here's some information on this disease and how we can prevent it.

Part 1 of 4 - - details the likelihood of developing this disease, and its dangers and consequences.

Part 2 of 4 - - presents the risk factors of osteoporosis and some of our misconceptions about the disease.

Part 3 of 4 - - insights into diagnosis, and basic management techniques.

Part 4 of 4 - - new medical treatments to stop osteoporosis, and safety in the home of osteoporosis sufferers.

Next Week:

Physical therapy options and self-help tips

Part of the original Sideroad. Text © 1998, Shara Rendell-Smock. Posted Feb.17 , 1998. The new Sideroad is now receiving traffic at

Shara's books can be ordered from her web site at