4 simple ways you can reduce your lower back pain

4 simple ways you can reduce your lower back pain


When you suffer with lower back pain you’ll do anything to make the pain go away.

Whether the pain is sharp and stabbing, dull or just achy and stiff it can really stop you in your tracks.

The problem with lower back pain is even if it’s not preventing you from moving, the worry about it getting more serious can always be in the back of your mind.

Here are 4 simple things you can be doing, when the pain strikes to give you some relief.

To ice or to heat

There is often confusion when it comes to using ice packs or heat packs for pain relief.

You’ll be glad to know, they’re both extremely effective…when they’re used at the right time.


When you first hurt (or re-hurt your back) you build up inflammation around that area. That means blood rushes to the site of your pain making it red and HOT.

This is the best time to put ice on your back.

Put an ice pack or bag of ice on the area for 20 minutes (No longer) take it off for 20 min and then repeat 2-3 times.

This should reduce some of the inflammation and can help reduce your pain levels.


Heat on the other hand should be used 48-72 hours after you feel pain.

Your body is extremely smart.

It will cause your muscles to tense up and contract to limit movement in that area to try and protect your lower back.

Over time this causes stiffness and more pain.

Place a heat pack or wheat bag over the area to reduce your muscle tension, joint stiffness and pain. A warm shower works well too, just don’t overdo it with heat!

Keep Moving With Basic Exercises

When I say exercise, I don’t mean to train like Rocky did before his fight with Apollo Creed!

If you’re feeling pain in your back, the trick is to keep your joints moving.

You don’t want to lay in bed all day just because that’s the only position that it doesn’t hurt.

While it may feel comfortable at the time, your lack of movement can lead to more stiffness in your joints and even more pain later on.

Walking in a pool can keep your joints moving while putting a lot less pressure on them compared to walking.

If you don’t have access to a pool it’s still better to go for a walk (even if it up and down your hallway) to keep mobility in your spine.

Stretching Is Vital

More often than not stretching only comes to mind when your back starts to hurt.

Stretching is extremely important both when you’re in pain…and when you’re not.

Our daily lives involve being in positions for extended periods of time whether it be sitting or standing. This causes tightening of certain muscles in your body because they become overactivity due to excessive use.

Stretching when you’re in pain can reduce tension in your lower back and reduce your level of discomfort. Stretching when you’re not in pain can keep your body in an optimal position and reduce the chances of getting lower back pain again.

You can have a look at some simple lower back pain stretches here!

Release Your Trigger Points

Muscles tension can cause you a lot of discomfort.

Along with stretching, relaxing these muscles through trigger point releases can be very useful.

Trigger points are small nodules which develop within your muscle fibres and are basically bunching of your muscle tissue. They come about due to excessive contraction which usually build up over time due to poor posture.

If you have a tennis ball place it on the area where you feel pain and push against it.

Hold for 30 seconds and relax.

Repeat by sitting on the ball if you feel any tension or tenderness in specific areas of your buttock.

This can help reduce the trigger points in your back and give you some temporary relief if you suddenly get pain.

Always see a professional first

These tips are all helpful in giving you a reduction of your symptoms.

While they are useful, it’s still vital to see a health professional to get an accurate diagnosis for your pain so that you can be given advice specific to your problem.

What may work for someone else may not work for you so make sure you find out what the underlying cause of your pain is.


Two New Cases of Swine Flu in Telangana

Two New Cases of Swine Flu in Telangana, Andhra Pradesh


HYDERABAD:  Two women, one each from Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, were found infected with swine flu on Thursday, a health department official said.


"A woman from Kadapa in AP and another woman from Telangana tested positive for swine flu," said Dr K Subhakar, the nodal officer for the disease in Hyderabad.


In 2014, 88 cases of swine flu were reported in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh together; of them 22 cases were reported in the last week of December alone.


Around 10 persons reportedly died of swine flu last year.


Noting that swine flu is not a life-threatening disease for healthy people, P Sambasiva Rao, Director of Health of Telangana, had said that the government had taken various steps for checking the spread of the disease.

How Drinking Filtered Water might be the Best Decision of your Life

Water is perhaps the most essential, and the most overlooked, component of our diet. Water constitutes about 70% of our body-weight and is essential for all bodily functions. Clean water – free from any chemical, metals or microbes – is therefore essential for good health.

However, most households do not question the quality of the tap water they drink and assume it to be safe simply because it appears clear to the eyes.

Adverse health issues – from fatigue and deformities to hormonal imbalances and cancer – get prolonged for years as families do not realize that the cause of the problem is the clear-looking tap-water they have been drinking.

Households usually rely on three sources of water – tap water, bottled water and water filtered by home-based water filters.

Health Risks of Tap Water 

Drinking tap water, even though it may appear clean, may expose your family to severe health risks from waterborne diseases and contaminants. There are many reasons why drinking even perfectly clear looking tap water is not a good idea.

Firstly, the tap water passes through infrequently-cleaned and occasionally leaky pipelines to reach your home and often gets contaminated along the way with all sorts of pollutants including pesticide, sewage water and industrial waste. The unavoidable length of the water pipelines and the poor state of their maintenance simply introduces too much risk of contamination in tap water.

Secondly, the tap water is treated with various strong toxic chemicals including chlorine, ozone and ammonia to kill microbes. Many cities also add fluoride to tap water as it is supposed to fight tooth-decay. Both chlorine and fluoride are well-known to be extremely toxic for the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland is one of the most important endocrine (hormone-releasing) glands in the body and releases hormones to regulate metabolism. These two chemicals replace the iodine required for proper functioning of the thyroid and make a person deficient in the hormone (hypothyroidism).

The most common symptom of an underactive thyroid is constant fatigue due to slow metabolism. Moreover, the slow metabolism also leads to weight gain and obesity.

Thirdly, many hazardous contaminants such as many metals including lead and arsenic, are not completely removed during water treatment due to the requirement of highly specialized filtration systems for removing these metals.

Health Risks of Bottled Water 

Bottled drinking water has become very popular over the last few years. However, it is neither a reliable nor a safe option for clean drinking water. The bottled water industry is poorly regulated and often bottled water is simply tap water that has been bottled. Cheap mass-produced plastics are used for packaging the bottled water and this also raises the severe health-issue of chemicals from the plastic, including carcinogens and hormone-like chemicals, leaching into the water and causing long-term damage to the health of people drinking it.

Filtered Water for Better Health 

Filtered water is easily the most reliable solution for getting clean drinking water in your home. Water filters remove all contaminants in the water including disease-causing microbes, heavy metals and chemicals such as chlorine and fluorides. Filtration of water produces clean natural water exactly as it is required by the body.

Usually people notice a marked positive change in their health as well as increased energy levels after switching to filtered water as the body no longer has to struggle with the contaminant load in its most essential component – water.

For people with sensitive health conditions, such as patients undergoing chemotherapy or during pregnancy, filtered water is the only safe option.

Adequate water intake is essential for flushing out waste products from the body and for the good health of our skin and hair. However, the bad taste of tap water due to added chemicals often causes people to drink less water. Water filters greatly improve the taste of water, making drinking it a pleasurable experience, thereby increasing your daily water intake. This does wonders for your skin, hair as well as your general health.

Over 2,000 water-advisories were issued in Canada in 2015, underscoring the need for home-based water filters as most of the advisories are issued only when the contamination risks are identified after existing for some time.

A number of installation options – under-counter, over-counter, pitcher type as well as whole house filtration systems and filter types are available for households looking for water filters in Mississauga, Toronto and Hamilton. Reverse osmosis based water filters are one of the most popular ones for drinking water needs.

Ensuring availability of clean drinking water by installing a quality water filter is one of the most important decisions you can make to ensure better health for your family and to safeguard them from any water contamination risks in advance.


Evolko Systems targets rural India with new health solutions

NGALURU: Sickness is a great equalizer -- it hits the poor and the rich uniformly. While most startups in the healthcare sector have been on a frenzy to tap the urban markets, a San Francisco-based firm has devised a method to successfully cater to the bottom of the pyramid at scale.

Evolko Systems has designed a technology solution for patients with chronic conditions that necessitate extended periods of treatment. Patients with diseases like cancer and weak hearts are a needy lot, requiring the constant attention of specialist doctors. It's expensive and exhausting, which is perhaps why Evolko's solution targeted at rural India has gained immediate traction.

In the six months since launch, at least 1,700 specialists have been monitoring more than 1.5 lakh chronic patients across India through Evolko's platform.

"From personal experience, I know the requirements of patients with chronic conditions are very different. They are constantly in touch with their doctors and get anxious if they can't immediately report symptoms," Evolko chief executive Amit Khare said.

Chronic diseases like arthritis and diabetes are as prevalent in the cities as in the villages. But specialists in rural areas are rare. Spotting this gap, Evolko piloted an online-offline model with the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Patna: It stationed 120 telemedicine officers at village councils with the hospital in Patna, Bihar's capital city, as the nodal centre.

Patients first register at the hospital and visit specialist doctors for diagnosis and treatment. Post that, they can visit the telemedicine officers in their villages to routinely record and relay their vitals to a panel of specialist doctors through Evolko's app. They can speak with the doctors as well to explain their condition, paying Rs 50 a visit.

The doctor, the officer and the company all take a share of this revenue.

Patients can also connect with specific specialist doctors through Evolko and its telemedicine officers.

"Given the volumes, (Evolko's business model) becomes commercially viable, which is the best way to do more of it," said Arjun Malhotra, cofounder of HCL Technologies, who invested in the company along with Tech Mahindra CEO C P Gurnani, Stanford University professor Thomas Kailath, and others.

Operating in stealth mode for over five years, the company has expanded to 28 cities, with less than $3 million in funding.

AIIMS-Patna now connects with at least 1,000 patients every day through Evolko's platform. The experiment turned out to be successful, word spread, and Evolko was soon approached by Sashastra Seema Bal, one of India's Central Armed Police Forces, to set up the TMOs at 1,500 outposts on the India-Nepal border.

"I had no idea (soldiers) could become a part of this business," said Khare, whose solution will be available in 200 cities across India for patients with chronic conditions.

For Evolko, competition for chronic care comes from companies like TopDoctorsOnline. In addition to catering to chronic diseases, TopDoctorsOnline provides end-to-end service to customers—from booking appointments, ambulances, blood tests and reports


Head-down yoga asanas is fatal for glaucoma patients according to a new study

Head-down yoga asanas is fatal for glaucoma patients according to a new study



For people suffering from glaucoma (an eye disorder), certain yoga positions - especially head-down postures - and other exercises like push-ups and lifting heavy weights may be dangerous, a team of US researchers has warned. 

Glaucoma, patients may experience increased eye pressure as the result of performing several different head-down positions while practicing yoga, claimed the researchers from New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai (NYEE).

Four inverted yoga positions - facing dog, standing forward bend, plow and legs up the wall - were key to the research.

Also read: 5 bedtime yoga asanas that will help you sleep better 

"While we encourage our patients to live active and healthy lifestyles, certain types of activities, including pushups and lifting heavy weights, should be avoided by glaucoma patients," said Robert Ritch, senior study author and Director, Glaucoma Research, NYEE.

Damage to the optic nerve occurs in glaucoma patients when fluid pressure inside the eye rises. Elevated intraocular pressure (IOP) is the most common known risk factor.

Certain yoga postures and exercises increase "the risk of increasing IOP and possibly damaging the optic nerve," Ritch noted.

Also read: Heard of restorative yoga? It involves the use of props 

In previous research, studies and case reports had tested only the headstand position which showed a marked two-fold rise in IOP.

In the new study, researchers asked participants with no eye-related disease and glaucoma patients to perform four inverted yoga positions.

Both normal and glaucoma study participants showed a rise in IOP in all four yoga positions, with the greatest increase of pressure occurring during downward facing dog.

When the measurements were taken after the participants returned to a seated position and again after waiting for 10 minutes, the pressure in most cases remained slightly elevated from the baseline.

Also read: 4 reasons, 10 asanas: why kids must practise yoga 

"As we know that any elevated IOP is the most important known risk factor for development and progression of nerve damage to the eye, the rise in IOP after assuming the yoga poses is of concern for glaucoma patients and their treating physicians," explained study first author Jessica Jasien at NYEE.

"In addition, glaucoma patients should share with their yoga instructors their disease to allow for modifications during the practice of yoga," Jasien added.

The research team emphasises the importance of educating glaucoma patients on all of the risks and benefits of relating to physical exercise and their overall vision health.

"The new study will help clinicians advise their patients on the potential risk associated with various yoga positions and other exercises that involve inverted poses," the authors concluded in a paper published in the journal PLOS ONE.



Low sunlight exposure increases cancer risk

Low sunlight exposure increases cancer risk


Persons residing at higher latitudes, with lower sunlight exposure and greater prevalence of vitamin D deficiency, are at greater risk of developing cancer, including leukemia, a type of blood cancer, new research reveals.

 Analysing data on leukemia incidence rates in 172 countries, the researchers found that people living in higher latitudes are at least two times at greater risk of developing leukemia than equatorial populations.

 "These results suggest that much of the burden of leukemia worldwide is due to the epidemic of vitamin D deficiency we are experiencing in winter in populations distant from the equator," said Cedric Garland, adjunct professor at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine in the US.

 Leukemia rates were highest in countries relatively closer to the poles, such as Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Ireland, Canada and the United States.

 They were lowest in countries closer to the equator, such as Bolivia, Samoa, Madagascar and Nigeria, the findings showed.

 "People who live in areas with low solar ultraviolet B (UVB) exposure tend to have low levels of vitamin D metabolites in their blood," Garland said.

 "These low levels place them at high risk of certain cancers, including leukemia," Garland noted.

 Vitamin D abundantly produced when ultraviolet radiation from sunlight strikes the skin and triggers synthesis.

 The researchers analysed age-adjusted incidence rates of leukemia in 172 countries from GLOBOCAN, an international agency for research on cancer that is part of the World Health Organization.

 They comparing that information with cloud cover data from the International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project.

 The researchers found that reduced UVB radiation exposure and lower vitamin D levels were associated with higher risks of cancer.

 The findings were published online in the journal PLOS One.


Drinking during pregnancy exposes baby to 428 diseases

TORONTO: Consuming alcohol during pregnancy may expose your baby to the risk of 428 distinct diseases linked to Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD), a new study has warned. 

FASD is a broad term describing the range of disabilities that can occur in individuals as a result of alcohol exposure before birth. "The study underscores the fact that it is not safe to drink any amount or type of alcohol at any stage of pregnancy," said lead author Lana Popova, adding that the disease conditions affect nearly every system of the body, including the brain, vision, hearing, cardiac, circulation, digestion, and musculoskeletal and respiratory systems. 

The severity and symptoms of FASD vary, based on how much and when alcohol was consumed, as well as other factors such as stress levels, nutrition and environmental influences. 

Based on 33 studies representing 1,728 individuals with Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS), the most severe form of FASD, the researchers were able to conduct a series of meta-analyses to establish the frequency with which 183 disease conditions occurred. 

More than 90% of those with FAS had co-occurring problems with conduct. About eight in 10 had communication disorders. Seven in 10 had developmental disorders, and more than half had problems with attention and hyperactivity. 

"The issue is that the underlying cause of the problem, alcohol exposure before birth, may be overlooked by the clinician and not addressed. Newborns should be screened for prenatal alcohol exposure, especially among populations at high risk," he said.




Overweight young adults can reduce diabetes risk if they lose weight early enough: Study

Overweight young adults can reduce diabetes risk if they lose weight early enough: Study

 The team of researchers from St George's University of London wanted to look at the effect of BMI in earlier life on the risk of heart attack, stroke or diabetes in later life, three major diseases in which obesity is an established risk factor.

 To look at a possible link the team measured the body mass index (BMI) of 7735 middle-aged men between 40 and 59 years of age.

 The measurements were then compared to data collected on the BMI of the men aged 21, taken from their military service records or previous participation in a medical study.

 From the 4846 men that provided complete data, and taking into account their varying ages and smoking status, the researchers found that men who had had a high BMI at aged 21, but had lowered it by aged 50, had similar or even lower rates of diabetes than those who had a normal BMI when they were younger.

 However a similar reversible effect was not seen for the risk of heart attack or stroke, and a high BMI when aged 21, although associated with a higher risk of diabetes in later life, showed no effect on the risk of heart attack or stroke later in life.

 Lead researcher Professor Christopher Owen commented on the results saying, "Even in men who carried out UK National Service and were relatively thin in early life compared to more recent men, higher levels of fatness in early adult life appear to be associated with later diabetes. However, effects of early body mass appear to be reversible by subsequent weight loss. These findings have important implications for Type 2 diabetes prevention, especially in more recent adults with high levels of obesity." 

Men who were obese at aged 50 however, still showed an increased risk of diabetes, as well as an increased risk of heart disease and stroke.

 The study was published in the journal BMJ Open.

 According to the World Health Organization (WHO) worldwide obesity has more than doubled since 1980.

 As well as being a major risk factor in diabetes and cardiovascular diseases such as heart disease and stroke, obesity, commonly measured by BMI, is also a risk factor in musculoskeletal disorders such as osteoarthritis, and cancers such as endometrial, breast, and colon cancer.

 According to the WHO's definitions, an individual with a BMI greater than or equal to 25 is overweight, and an individual with a BMI greater than or equal to 30 is obese.

Swine flu no longer exceptional, Turkish professor claims

Swine flu no longer exceptional, Turkish professor claims

No longer as exceptional as it used to be, the H1N1 virus, colloquially known as the swine flu, has become a common form of seasonal influenza, a professor at Ege University’s Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases faculty has claimed. 

According to Professor Çağrı Büke, most flu cases are examples of seasonal influenza, which is common between the months of October and March, and swine flu makes up two thirds of these cases. 

“Around 10 to 15 percent of the public are likely to be infected with influenza between these months. Some 60 to 70 percent of all these cases will suffer from swine flu,” Büke has told Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency, explaining that the H1N1 virus is no longer as exceptional as it once was. “The H1N1 was a brand new virus in 2009. However, since then, it has evolved into a cause of seasonal flu alongside influenza A [H3N2] and influenza B,” he stated. 

While there are groups who are more at risk, Büke said others will only experience the illness as a week-long upper respiratory tract infection.

The professor outlined these “risky groups” as pregnant, elderly or obese persons along with those with chronic heart, kidney or lung diseases, diabetes and neuro or cancer patients. 

“Some of the patients who died in Adana and Niğde were at risk,” Büke stated, referring to five swine flu patients who died in the first week of 2016. 

Turkey’s Health Minister Mehmet Müezzinoğlu likewise explained on Jan. 5 that seven of the eight patients who died of swine flu were part of these risky groups of people with weakened immunities. 

The eight patients who have died so far were from Turkey’s Çankırı, Van, Adana and Niğde provinces. Five of the patients had chronic illnesses while one was aged over 65 and another was pregnant.

Büke told reporters that swine flu is a mix of avian, human and swine influenza viruses and one must stay away from those infected with the virus and ensure personal hygiene in order to avoid being infected. 

The professor also underlined that swine flu patients experience distinctive symptoms like diarrhea and stomachaches, which are not common in other types of influenza. 

“One fourth of all people infected with this flu have such complaints,” he said. “If you experience diarrhea and stomachache in addition to seasonal flu symptoms like fever, muscle and joint pain, it is advisable to see a doctor,” Büke added. 

Turkey has been witnessing an increase in the number of swine flu cases as a total of 45 patients checked in to Adana’s Numune Training and Research Hospital in the southern province with symptoms including a high fever over the past week. 

After examinations, six patients were hospitalized over suspicions of the H1N1 virus. 

Three of these patients, two Syrians and one four-month-pregnant Turkish woman, died while receiving treatment. 

Meanwhile, a woman with a high fever and another being treated for swine flu died in the first days of January in the central Anatolian Niğde province. 

In the latest such instance, two people suspected of suffering from swine flu have been quarantined in the Kadirli district of the southern province of Osmaniye.

The patients are members of the same family and were taken to the Kadirli State Hospital with high fevers. It remains unclear whether the two are actually infected, but the hospital’s emergency room was evacuated and all patients and health personnel were given masks as a precaution.


Study warns of birth defects from use of paroxetine during pregnancy

widely used antidepressant drug has been found by Canadian researchers in a meta-analysis to be linked with an increased risk of birth defects when taken in early pregnancy. The findings have just been published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology.


Known generically as paroxetine and commercially as Paxil and Seroxat, the drug is prescribed to treat depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. Paroxetine is one of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI)-type drugs for psychiatric problems.

 Asked by The Jerusalem Post to comment, the Health Ministry consulted with its pharmaceutical chief Dr. Eyal Schwartzberg and Prof. Mati Berkowitz, chairman of the Israel Ambulatory Pediatric Association and head of the department of pharmacology and toxicology at Assaf Harofeh Medical Center in Tzrifin.

 They said that many articles on SSRIs and pregnancy have been published.

 “In general it’s very important to treat anxiety and depression during gestation. SSRIs are considered safe during pregnancy. One must always consider a woman’s emotional condition.

 Unnecessary halting the use of SSRIs can lead to post-natal depression and even worse. But at the same time,” they commented, “women prescribed these drugs have to be followed up by her doctor. This study does not change our policy.”

 The ministry, however, said it and other health authorities “continue at all times to follow side effects, and this subject too will be raised for discussion during their routine work.”

 Prof. Anick Bérard and colleagues at CHU Sainte-Justine and the University of Montreal conducted a literature review and meta-analysis of all relevant studies published from 1966 to 2015. They uncovered 23 eligible studies.

 Using paroxetine during the first trimester of pregnancy may increase newborns’ risk of congenital malformations and cardiac malformations, they concluded.

 Up to a fifth of women of childbearing age experience depressive symptoms that often lead to mild to moderate depression, and prescriptions for antidepressants during pregnancy have increased in recent years, they wrote in the medical journal.

 The most common drugs for treating depression in pregnant women are SSRIs, and up until 2005, one drug in that class – paroxetine – was considered to be safe for use during pregnancy.

 However, a small unpublished study conducted by the manufacturer suggested an increased risk of cardiac malformations in infants exposed to paroxetine before birth. Subsequent studies using various study designs in different populations across Europe and North America generated conflicting results in terms of statistical significance, although a trend remained toward an increased risk.

 Compared with no use of paroxetine, first trimester use of paroxetine was associated with a 23 percent increased risk of any major congenital malformations and a 28% increased risk of major cardiac malformations in newborns. The investigators noted that the baseline risk of major malformations is 3% and of cardiac malformations 1%, however, any increase in risk is significant, especially when considering that the benefit of using SSRIs during pregnancy, when changes in metabolism cause the drugs to be cleared from the body at a faster rate.

 “Given that the benefits of antidepressants overall, and SSRIs including paroxetine specifically, during pregnancy is questionable at best, any increase in risk, small or large, is too high,” the researchers wrote. “Indeed, the risk/benefit ratio suggests non-use in women with mild to moderately depressive symptoms, which is 85% of pregnant women with depressive symptoms. Therefore, planning of pregnancy is essential, and valid treatment options such as psychotherapy or exercise regimens are warranted in this special population.”