- Exercise your back regularly. Walking, swimming (especially backstroke) and using exercise bikes are all excellent ways to strengthen your back muscles.
- When lifting, always bend your knees and your hips, not your back.
- Never twist and bend at the same time.
- Always lift and carry objects close to your body.
- Try to carry loads in a rucksack and avoid sling bags, or wearing a rucksack like a sling bag.
- Maintain a good posture. Avoid slumping in your chair, hunching over a desk or walking with your shoulders hunched.
- Use a chair with a back rest. Sit with your feet flat on the floor or on a footrest. Change how you sit every few minutes.
- Quit smoking. It is thought that smoking reduces the blood supply to the discs between the vertebrae and this may lead to degeneration of these discs.
- Lose as much excess weight as possible.
- Choose a mattress suited to your height, weight, age and sleeping position.
Doctors Pienaar and Viney practice a form of acupuncture called ‘Dry Needling’. This discipline of acupuncture is a western approach to the traditional form of Chinese acupuncture incorporating an evidence-based approach to the physiological effects of this intervention.
Dry Needling involves multiple advances of a fine filament needle into the muscle in the region of a “Trigger Point’. The aim of Dry Needling is to achieve a local twitch response to release muscle tension and pain. Dry needling is an effective treatment for chronic pain of neuropathic origin with very few side effects. This technique is also effective in finding and eliminating neuromuscular dysfunction that leads to pain and functional deficits.
The needle used is very thin and most subjects do not even feel it penetrate the skin. A healthy muscle feels very little discomfort with insertion of this needle. However if the muscle is sensitive and shortened or has active trigger points within it, the subject will feel a sensation like a muscle cramp -’the twitch response’. The patient also may feel a reproduction of “their” pain which is a helpful diagnostic indicator for the practitioner attempting to diagnose the cause of the patient’s symptoms. Patients soon learn to recognise and even welcome this sensation as it results in deactivating the trigger point, reducing pain and restoring normal length function to the involved muscle.
Doctors Pienaar and Viney have been trained in Dry Needling. They incorporate it into their work where it is considered to be appropriate, from a healing point of view and, of course, with the approval of the patient.