All of us are likely to experience back pain sometime during our lives. Here’s our Top 5 list of things women should do – or not do – to have a healthier back and neck:

Click your high heels less often. Yes, high heels make your legs look great, but they also unnaturally position your heels above your toes. This throws your entire body out of alignment. Over a long period of time, over-wearing high heels can cause severe low back and leg pain. Whether you’re traveling, at work or on the way to a cocktail party, wear comfortable flats, then make the switcheroo to heels when the time comes for the high-heel look.

Watch your cals. Try to shed a few pounds for the good of your back and overall health. Every pound you gain can add additional stress to the ligaments and muscles in your back. Extra weight in the tummy area pulls the pelvis forward and strains the lower back, which can create low back pain. Additionally, if you become quickly tired or have trouble breathing during exercise, it becomes harder for you to get the exercise you need that helps keep the pounds off. And if you’re carrying extra weight and wear high heels, you’ll greatly increase the odds for developing low back pain.

Find out if osteoporosis runs in your family:  You’re young and in great shape, so why should you worry about osteoporosis now?  It is estimated that about 75% of an individual’s peak bone mass is influenced by genetics. If you are genetically predisposed to osteoporosis, tell you doctor!  Also know that exercise, diet and regular testing are critically important for you to build up bone mass while you’re young and more able to do so. Young women should perform 20 to 30 minutes of aerobic exercise 3 to 4 times weekly to increase bone mass.

Bask in the glow of exercise while you’re pregnant.  Pregnancy is certainly one of the leading causes of back pain in women. If you’re pregnant, you should do stretching and strengthening exercises for your back before and during your pregnancy – always under the supervision of your doctor, of course. And if you do experience pain, don’t assume rest is the answer or it will be gone after the baby comes. Appropriate treatment can help you receive significant back pain relief during the pregnancy and lessen the chance of having chronic back pain in the lower back after the pregnancy.

Love your big bag but don’t use it like a suitcase. If your purse or satchel weighs more than 10% of your body weight, it’s too heavy – ask yourself, do I really need all of this stuff?  You also need to carry big bags correctly. We recommend you select a purse or briefcase with a long strap that allows you to carry it across your chest. And while we on the topic of big bags, shopaholics shouldn’t try to carry the day’s haul all at once – you won’t miss a sale if you deposit a bag on two in your car and return back to the hunt.

For Vickie Money of Venus, Texas, mopping the floor was a simple, routine task she was doing on another ordinary day. But something unusual happened, and suddenly she found herself suffering from severe pain in her lower back that would impact her life for several years to come.

At the time, Vickie was only 46 years old, and she first treated the problem with physical therapy, pain injections and pain medication for several years. But nothing helped relieve her of a pain so severe that her activity had become limited to nothing more than sitting or lying down most of the time. Finally, several years later, she went to Texas Back Institute and was examined by Dr. Richard Guyer.

 “Without a doubt, the best thing about my experience with Texas Back Institute was Dr. Guyer and the staff,” said Vickie. “Dr. Guyer and all of the staff treat you as if you are the only patient they have for the day. I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life on the sidelines and taking pain pills, and it wasn’t fair that I could have ruined my life because I mopped my kitchen floor one morning.” 

Now at the age of 53, Vickie learned she needed surgery to help alleviate the pain. She was understandably concerned as to whether or not the surgery would help or make the problem worse and, if she did gain some relief, she worried how long it would last. Under Dr. Guyer’s care, Vickie underwent a 360 fusion surgery on her L4 and L5 vertebrae to correct the problem and get her life moving forward again. Hoping for even the slightest pain relief, she was more than pleased to gain relief of about 80%. 

Looking back, Vickie repeats what many Texas Back Institute patients advise others: don’t wait to do something about your back pain.

 “Texas Back Institute and Dr. Guyer gave me back my life. I now enjoy retirement, family and friends. I can ride a horse again. But every time I pick up a mop, I can’t help but remember what happened several years ago – and I’m so much more mindful because, after all, I don’t want to ruin Dr. Guyer’s handiwork!”

Here are a few things our medical receptionist would like you to know, to make every medical visit as easy as possible for you.

Call to schedule an appointment during mid-day hours.  Avoiding the rush hours is always a good idea.

Know your own schedule before calling to make an appointment. This will make the process move more quickly for you and the office manager and avoid any accidental double-booking that you might have to correct later.

Fill out new patient paperwork before you come to your appointment. Many practices provide paperwork online, via email or will mail it to you. You’ll avoid having to call someone from the doctor’s office to get information you might not have handy or remember.  In some cases, you may also be more accurate and thorough in answering some questions. You’ll also spend less time in the waiting room.

Have all of your insurance information with you. Be prepared to present your insurance cards and all applicable policy numbers. Most doctors’ offices also require some form of identification, such as a driver’s license.

Prepare, in advance, your questions for the doctor, timeline and notes for your medical condition and medications you are taking. If possible, keep a journal of your medical condition that records symptoms, medications taken, any side effects, etc. that will help you present your situation more accurately to the doctor. Also come with your questions so that you won’t leave your appointment and then remember you forgot to ask a question that is important to you.

Call the doctor’s office from the road if you’re running late. Make sure you have the office contact information with you so that you can let them know if you’re lost, stuck in a traffic jam or something else causing you to be late. The receptionist may then be able to move other patients ahead of you and work you in. (And please pull your vehicle over to a safe place to make your call.)

If going to a specialist, bring all of your diagnostic results with you. Make sure you gather up all diagnostic test results, such as imaging procedures and blood work, with you. The specialist will need them and not having them can delay your treatment. Also, bringing your files with you in person is better so as to avoid any problems such as transfer of files that aren’t identified properly.

Inform the office manager of any special circumstances associated with your condition and office visit. Be sure to let the doctor’s office know if your situation involves a worker’s compensation claim, accident or previous surgery.

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