Good Posture for Good Health

We all remember hearing a parent reprimand our bad posture telling us to stand up straight and not to slouch. And didn’t we all slouch again as soon as they were out of the room? Well, our parents were on to something. The importance of good posture is more than just looking sharp, it can impact our overall health.

When we say ‘posture’ we’re actually referring to our body’s overall positioning and alignment. If we have ‘good posture,’ it really means:

  • the pull of gravity is evenly distributed throughout our body;
  • we are not overly stressing a particular joint or structure;
  • our ligaments, joints, and muscles are properly aligned and working together as nature intended; and
  • our nervous system is functioning optimally.

Long-term Effects of Poor Posture

Over time, poor posture can impact our bodies, including:

  • poor digestion, processing and elimination of waste;
  • spinal fractures or breaks in the vertebrae;
  • difficulty breathing;
  • painful ligaments, joints, and muscles;
  • overall fatigue; and
  • unable to work or move properly.

Not Me

You may be thinking that because you ‘stand straight’ you have nothing to worry about. But did you know that as little as fifteen minutes working at your computer, or slouched reading in your favorite chair, can exhaust neck, shoulder, and upper back muscles causing pain?

Causes of Poor Posture

Frequently, poor posture is the result of an accident or fall. But it can develop from bad habits, or environmental factors including:

  • being overweight;
  • inadequate sleep support (poor quality mattress);
  • emotional stress;
  • foot issues, including wearing inappropriate shoes;
  • muscle imbalance, or other muscle weakness;
  • negative personal image;
  • workplace stress (physical, emotional); or
  • poorly designed work environment or repetitive stress duties.

Are You at Risk?

If you experience a severe fall, chances are signs of injury will be noticeable quickly. But often the early signs of the effects of bad posture can be overlooked. It’s important to pay attention if you are experiencing:

Fatigue

Your muscles work hard every day to complete the tasks you assign to them. If you have poor posture that effort is doubled, or sometimes tripled, leaving you feeling drained and fatigued.

Aching Muscles

Fatigue often leads to sore, aching muscles. Most often felt in the back of the neck, back, shoulders – the places we most often carry stress – your muscles can actually begin to change, compensating for years of bad posture.

Stiff Joints, Broken Bones, and Immobility

When your muscles are tired and sore, they start to pull against the joints they’re connected to. What is often called, ‘wear and tear’ arthritis, or degenerative osteoarthritis (thinning of the bones), is the common cause of spinal fractures and breaks.

Are You Living With a Broken Back?

Osteoporosis, accidents, or certain types of cancers can cause bones to collapse or become compressed. That collapse or compression in turn causes fractures that can cause pain and nerve damage.

Bone Density Scans

Bone Density Scans are an important screening tool when it comes to bone health. The DEXA scan helps to predict the risk of fractures, before they occur. Scans through the spine and hips measure the density of the bone. The test in relatively quick and inexpensive and uses only a modest amount of radiation.  Many women schedule this test in conjunction with their mammogram. Testing for bone mineral density is recommended for all women who are postmenopausal and at least 65 years of age. Bone mineral density testing may be recommended for women who are postmenopausal and younger than 65 years who have at least one risk factor for osteoporosis. Bone mineral density testing should be performed on all women who are postmenopausal with fractures to confirm the diagnosis of osteoporosis and determine the severity of disease.

Bone mineral density testing may be of use in pre- and postmenopausal women with certain diseases or medical conditions (i.e., acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, human immunodeficiency virus, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, hyperparathyroidism, inflammatory bowel disease, rheumatoid arthritis) and those who take medications associated with an increased risk of osteoporosis. Screening should not be performed more often than every two years in women who do not develop new risk factors.

If you have osteopenia or osteoporosis, there are medical options to help restore bone strength before a fracture occurs.

Treatment for Compression Fractures

Kyphoplasty, a minimally invasive procedure that takes less than an hour, can often eliminate years of pain in a single afternoon. In the procedure, a small balloon is inserted into the spinal column using a special needle. The balloon is then slowly and carefully inflated to create space between the compressed vertebrae. Next the balloon is deflated, and a spinal ‘cement’ mixture is injected into the space to support the spine. You’ll be home in time for dinner and you won’t even need stitches.

If you’re experiencing back, neck, or shoulder pain and would like to discuss treatment options, connect with the spine specialists at Southtowns Radiology today. If you have osteoporosis and would like to talk about how Kyphoplasty can help you live a pain-free life, book your appointment at one of our three locations today.

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Preventative Screening Tests for Women

Eating well, getting enough sleep and regular exercise are all essential to taking care of yourself. But did you know that an important part of living well means regular screenings? Preventative screening tests for women can catch many health concerns before they become bigger problems.

But what preventative screenings should women consider? We’ll take a look at nine of the most valuable screening tests for women.

Blood Pressure Test

Starting at age 18, regular blood pressure tests are important for overall good health. One blood pressure test every two years is the minimum if your blood pressure is below 120/80. If your blood pressure is between 120/80 and 139/89 you’ll need to visit your doctor once a year. And if you blood pressure is 140/90 or above it’s time to discuss treatment options with your family physician.

Bone Mineral Density Test (DEXA Test)

Age 50 is a good time to begin a conversation with your doctor about bone health and whether you’re at risk for osteoporosis. At 65 it’s recommended you have at least one bone density test done. Depending on your personal history your doctor may recommend repeat testing.

Mammogram

There had been a great deal of confusion in the media concerning mammography, including when to start and how often to have this important test. The American College of Radiology continues to recommend screening mammograms EVERY YEAR for asymptomatic women beginning at age 40 who are at average risk for breast cancer. Screening should start earlier for women at increased risk for early breast cancers. Screening should continue as long as the patients health permits. If you are unsure about when you should start having mammograms, please speak to your primary doctor, your OB/GYN, or our staff at Southtowns Radiology.

Cervical Cancer Screening for Women (With Intact Cervix)

A PAP test every three years is recommended for women over the age of 21. At 30 you can combine HPV (human papillomavirus) testing with your Pap test; once every five years. Beginning at age 65, ask your doctor whether continued PAP tests are necessary.

Cholesterol Test

Regular cholesterol testing is recommended starting at age 20 if you are at an increased risk for heart disease. Your doctor can discuss how often you’ll need to check your cholesterol.

Colorectal Cancer Screening

Starting at age 50, screening for colorectal cancer is an absolute must. Testing may include one or more tests, such as colonoscopy, the less invasive CT colonography, or a sigmoidoscopy. Talk with your doctor to determine which diagnostics are best for you.

HIV Testing

Everyone should get testing for HIV at least once, and all pregnant women need to be tested for the virus. Your doctor can discuss with you whether the need for multiple or more frequents tests is required.

Diabetes Screening

If you are 18 years old and take high blood pressure medication, or if a blood pressure test reveals your blood pressure to be greater than 135/80, it’s time to begin diabetes screening.

STDs (including Chlamydia, Syphilis, and Gonorrhea)

It is recommended that you get tested for STDs if you are sexually active. Talk to your doctor to determine which preventative screening tests are appropriate for you.

An ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure. To book your appointment, or to discuss how preventative screening tests would benefit you, contact the staff at Southtowns Radiology today, and take control of your health.

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5 Ways to Improve Bone Density

We all know that our bones – and everything else for that matter – weaken with age. In fact, by the time you reach the ripe old age of 30, your bone density has peaked and starts to decline thereafter.

Having good strong bones well into advanced age is achievable. Here are some ways that you can slow down this decline even after 50 and 60, and live a young life well into your retirement.

Exercise

You’ve heard the saying that “if you don’t use it – you lose it.” This goes for your bones also. One of the best things you can do to maintain or increase bone strength is to do weight bearing exercises. The use of weights is recommended unless you already have osteoporosis. Other great activities are walking, hiking, dancing, jogging – anything that puts weight on your bones.

If you are just starting out, it might be a good idea to use a trainer to set up your program.

Eat Leafy Greens

Everyone knows you need calcium for healthy bones, but did you know your bones also need vitamin D, vitamin K and potassium? All these nutrients are found in abundance in leafy green vegetables.

Stretch

Stretching is excellent for your joints, muscles and bones. If you are unsure of how to stretch correctly, check a video on YouTube or other websites on the internet. In fact, you could also find workout, yoga and other physical exercise videos to get you moving.

Take Supplements

To be sure you’re getting enough of the nutrients you need to maintain your bone health and prevent osteoporosis, ask your physician to do a blood panel to check your levels of potassium, calcium and vitamins D and K. Usually they do this on a routine basis after a certain age. If your levels are low in any of these nutrients, you may need to take supplements.

Have a Bone Density Test

Know how your bones are doing and request a bone density test, especially if osteoporosis runs in your family.

To read more about bone density tests and osteoporosis contact Southtowns Radiology today.

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Dr. Paul Pizzella attends clinic on bone density testing

Dr. Paul Pizzella attends clinic on bone density testing

July 27, 2014 – Southtowns Radiology is pleased to note that Paul Pizzella, M.D. participated in “Osteoporosis: Essentials of Densitometry, Diagnosis and Management Clinicians Day”, an educational program offered by the International Society for Clinical Densitometry.

A bone mineral density test is an easy and reliable test that measures the density, or thickness of your bones.  A bone density test is the only way to accurately find out if you have osteoporosis before a bone breaks.  The decision to have a bone density test is made by you and your doctor.  Examining your risk factors for osteoporosis is one important tool for determining whether scanning can be useful.  These risk factors include family history of the disease, a small or thin frame and smoking.

The New York State Osteoporosis Prevention and Education Program recommends a bone density test for:

  • All women 65 and older
  • All men 70 and older
  • Women under 65 who have reached menopause and have risk factors for osteoporosis
  • Adults who break a bone after age 50 or have lost 1.5 inches of height
  • Adults over age 50 with a disease or medical condition associated with low bone mass or bone loss
  • Adults over 50 taking medications associated with low bone mass or bone loss
  • Premenopausal women and men under 50, only in rare cases

More information on bone density testing and osteoporosis is available in our website’s Patient Resources section under the Patient Portal found here.