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Week: 522.4 Guest: Kenneth Murray, M.D. Topic: Backaches From Yard work Host: Steve Girard Producer: Ed Graham

NEMA: It's spring...folks are getting out more....playing sports, jogging, hiking, and so on...and doctors are seeing more patients coming in with sprains and strains...as well as more serious injuries. Doctor Kenneth Murray says a great number of the patients he sees this time of year have back injuries...from yard work.....

Murray: We see problems with excessive digging, raking, lifting sod..and what happens commonly is that low back injuries occur. Now, I think that some of these can be avoided, there's a number of ways the back can be injured...I believe one of the most common is the twist injury. Now the lumbar spine is comprised of muscles, tendons, and ligaments. We have disks, we have joints...the joints are referred to as facet joints. These are the joints that can be bruised or injured if there's excessive twisting. Twisting can occur with raking, shoveling, bending forward and tossing dirt to the left or the right, that would involve a twist injury, and some of these can be quite severe in the acute phase.

NEMA: And if you do hurt yourself in this way?......

Murray: The best recommendation is to immediately stop what you're doing...possibly go inside, lie down, perhaps take some over the counter anti-iflammatories, like ibuprofen. But if the severe back pain, which is commonly across the waistline, persists...then I would recommend that you at least call your family doctor.

NEMA: Now if you've never had a lower back injury, I can tell you that just one mistake in lifting can cause you problems for quite a while..perhaps keep you from fully enjoying your spring, and even summer.....Doctor, how can we avoid getting hurt while lifting or shoveling in the garden?...

Murray: Have a slight bend in the knees...I would think twice before I'd grab something...you want to make sure you have a good, secure handle on things. Some of the most clumsy objects are the ones that result in some of the spine injuries because its difficult actually grasp the object, and this presents a problem we lose our balance, we don't have a natural lift and so, I think if you think twice and do it cautiously, I think you'll be all right.

NEMA: How can you tell a strain in the back from a real lumbar injury?...

Murray: One of the red flags would be that if there is severe leg pain associated with the lower back symptom, then I think you should call your family doctor.

NEMA: Getting limbered up before doing yard work can help, right?....

Murray: Well, I think its important to exercise every day. There's different types of exercises that can be performed, but in three to five minutes, I think a person could do a little bit of upper and lower torso exercises and I think that this would help sort of get you going so that your body's loose. Now, once we get out to the garden, or the lawn, I think what we have to do is set up a game plan. Say that, "I'm gonna do some mulching for fifteen to twenty minutes, after that's performed, I'm gonna do some raking. Then afterwards, lets go over and take a look at the hedges. I think if that the type of activity is mixed, that will permit the body to use different muscles. NEMA: It once took me almost a year to come around from a lower back injury...so I learned the hard way to stay flexible, think before I lift...and pace myself. Hope you'll do the same this season. I"m SG.

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