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Dr Miriam: I'm aching for back cure; LETTER OF THE DAY.

Byline: Miriam Stoppard

Dear Miriam

I HAVE had chronic backache since I slipped a disc loading shopping into the boot of my car four years ago.

The severe pain has gone but I can't get rid of the ache.

I won't take painkillers because I could be on them for life. What can I do to get relief?

THERE are two main tips I'd give you: one, strengthen your torso with exercise; two, take care of your back.

The latest approach recommends you keep moving, even if it's just gently pottering around, and try applying heat or ice - one, then the other, sometimes works - to the painful area to counteract muscle spasm that's the cause of a lot of back pain.

Shed some weight: A study of schoolchildren by the University of Michigan found that clearly overweight children were three times more likely to suffer back pain from carrying school bags than their leaner friends.

People who are overweight rarely have good posture and that's a common cause of back pain too.

Get fit: Strong muscles support the back and spine, so flexibility, strength and suppleness of joints are vital to combat back pain, and that means you have to exercise regularly. Walking, swimming and yoga are all beneficial - but the crucial thing is to keep your exercise routine varied.

Improve your posture: The Alexander Technique, with it's theory of postural alignment, helps to prevent and cure long-term pain.

Take cod liver oil: Professor Bruce Caterson, of Cardiff University, has shown a daily capsule helps to prevent arthritic back pain.

Professor Caterson discovered that omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil helps to slow the activity of enzymes responsible for destroying cartilage.

Watch how you sit: Your employer is legally required to protect your health and, in particular, your back. So if you think your desk or chair may be adding to your problems, voice concerns to your employer.

And you're not immune if you're at school. In October BackCare, the charity for healthier backs, launched a campaign to improve design and quality of school furniture, a majority of which contributes to early onset of back problems.

CAPTION(S):

FEELING LOW: Since slipping a disc
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Dec 1, 2004
Words:364
Previous Article:Dr Miriam: HORROR AT DEBT.
Next Article:Dr Miriam: SPANKING'S SO ONE-SIDED.


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