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Senior Correspondent

The fact that back pain can affect your balance is not new. I guess most readers of this back pain blog will have experienced times when their back problem has put them out of balance to some degree.

However, Chiropractor Alex Ruhe, a Ph.D candidate at Murdoch University, Perth, Australia, has recently for the first time demostrated a directly proportional, or linear, relationship between back pain and bad balance.

Reporting on medical express.com he states, “Our research shows that sufferers of neck, mid-back and low back pain sway significantly more than healthy individuals.

To some of us this may seem self-evident, and possibly a waste of time spending time and resources on research to tell us something we already know. But there is actually a practical use for this knowledge.

As Ruhe says “this research marks an important finding for clinicians. It serves as an objective monitoring tool for patients suffering from back pain under treatment and rehabilitation.”

The research may also be of use in the treatment of back pain in the elderly, who already may have balance problems.

It makes interesting reading. If you want to read the full article use this link.

Operation cures lower back pain in an hour.

Regular back pain blog readers will know that I am not a big fan of back surgery. Not least because it is a fact that in most cases it fails.

However, I am not dogmatic about it, an open mind is a healthy mind and all that! So it was very refreshing to read on the Daily Mail.co.uk website of a technique being successfully used by a surgical unit at Kings College Hospital London to treat back problems caused by slipped and/or bulging discs.

The procedure, keyhole endoscopic surgery, involves making a tiny (5mm) incision 10mm to the side of the spine, and an endoscope is guided to the trouble spot with the aid of x-rays.

Surgical instruments are then put down the centre of the tube to cut away the problem area of the disc and retrieve the debris.

The whole thing takes only about an hour, usually under local anaesthetic, and there are no stitches. The patient can go home within hours and there is not even a scar after a couple of months.

With an impressive 95% success rate this treatment has many advantages for both the patient and the NHS.

Consultant spinal neurosurgeon at Kings College Hospital Foundation Trust, Irfan Malik, says that for one in 20 people he sees with back pain, a slipped disc is the cause, and is convinced that in the future this procedure will become the standard method of treating patients with back pain problems.

Whatever your views on back surgery this procedure is something that seems to offer real promise, although it has to be said that so far only 20 patients have undergone it.

To read this very comprehensive article, which covers an actual case study of a patient operated on by Mr. Malik, and the result, click here.

Whales with back pain – whatever next!

Now for something completely different. It’s not just us humans that suffer back problems.

I found this story by Dwayne Bevil on the Orlando Sentinel website and couldn’t resist passing it on. If you think you have back problems how do think a whale would feel?

Vets and other animal experts are making news by fitting a 1000 pound female pilot whale with a custom brace to help her severe scoliosis.

The whale, who has been called “300″ for some reason, was one of several who beached themselves in the Florida Keys this May. She was taken to SeaWorlds Cetation Rehabilitation Facility where she developed severe scoliosis, making it difficult for her to swim normally.

She has been given physical therapy by staff three times a day, but about four weeks ago SeaWorld called in orthopaedic spine surgeon Dr. Philip Meinhardt. He, together with Scott Saunders, president of ABC Prosthetics and Orthotics, created a brace to try to correct the deformity.

Well, you read this and watch the video and I have to say it makes you think. Quite amazing. Go here to check it out.

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