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Healthwise Maui

Q: What can I do to reduce lower back pain?

Dr. Christopher Taleghani, neurosurgeon, Maui Brain and Spine: Lower back pain is very common, and there are many potential causes. Most types of lower back pain can get better with rest and treatment at home, while others need medical attention.

In some cases, lower back pain is caused by a sprain or muscle strain. An injury or overuse can pull or tear the muscles, tendons and ligaments in your back, causing tenderness and spasms. Other causes of lower back pain include injuries to the spine, like a herniated or ruptured disc.

There are many other potential causes of lower back pain, like sciatica, scoliosis, infection, degenerative disc disease and kidney stones.

Although most lower back pain gets better on its own, you should see a doctor if the pain does not get better over time, if the pain is severe or getting worse, or if the pain is accompanied by other symptoms, like numbness or tingling in your legs. In some cases, lower back pain can be a sign of a serious problem. If lower back pain is accompanied by difficulty walking or moving your legs, loss of sensation in your legs, a loss of bladder or bowel function, or if the pain is very severe, you should seek immediate medical attention.

Usually minor injuries can be treated yourself with ice and rest. And if that doesn’t work, the good news is most people will get better with conservative treatments such as physical therapy.

And finally, for those who try extensive conservative treatments and they do not help reduce or eliminate back pain, it is not the end of the world. Effective newer minimally invasive techniques make recovery from back surgeries much faster.

You can help avoid lower back pain by exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy weight, stretching and practicing good posture.

Maui Memorial’s neurosurgery program attracts patients from across the U.S. to have back surgery here on Maui. For more information on what options are available to you on Maui, call Maui Brain and Spine at (844) 394-4774 or email aloha@mauibrainandspine.com.

Q: Why do I have to take vitamins after getting weight-loss surgery?

Dr. Art Chasen, bariatric surgeon, Midpacific Surgical Specialists: After bariatric surgery, you won’t be consuming as much food, and your body will also not absorb as many of the nutrients you eat. This is why it’s important that you take daily vitamins, to make sure you are meeting all of your body’s nutritional needs. The amount and type of vitamins you need will depend on what kind of surgery you have. They might include a basic multivitamin, vitamin B12, calcium, vitamin D, and iron. These are available without a prescription. You will work with a dietitian to come up with a diet and vitamin plan to meet your nutritional needs.

Bariatric surgery isn’t a quick fix for obesity. It’s a tool that can help you make a significant change in your life in order to lose weight and get healthy. Along with the surgery, you’ll need to make major lifestyle changes, including working with a nutritionist, attending counseling sessions and a monthly support group, engaging in regular exercise, eating small healthy meals throughout the day, and taking vitamins to make sure you are getting adequate nutrition.

You can learn more about these lifestyle changes at one of Maui’s free monthly weight loss seminars, held every last Tuesday of the month from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m., at Maui Memorial Medical Center. For more information and class schedules, visit mauibariatricsurgery.com or call 856-4060.

* Physicians, providers and administrative staff who practice at Maui Health System hospitals and clinics answer questions from the public in “Healthwise Maui,” which appears on the first and third Thursdays of the month. Maui Health System operates Maui Memorial Medical Center, Maui Memorial Medical Center Outpatient Clinic, Kula Hospital & Clinic and Lana’i Community Hospital and accepts all patients. To submit a question, go to the website at mauihealth.org/healthwise.

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