Back Pain Remedies That Won't Sabotage Your Health

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Story Updated: Oct 24, 2012

p>Steroid injections can be helpful for some people with debilitating back pain, and they're generally safe. But a recent mixup of tainted vials from a recalled batch of steroid shots led to an outbreak of a rare form of fungal meningitis. To date, the disease has killed 15 and affected hundreds.

If you suffer from back pain -- which will affect upward of 80 percent of Americans at some time in their lives -- you don't need steroids to treat the ache. There are safer ways to get relief and even prevent back pain altogether:

1. Pack on some heat -- or ice. To soothe your sore, stiff back, you might want to use a combo of heat and ice: Heat can reduce muscle spasms and pain. Cold can reduce swelling and numb deep pain.

2. Learn new ways to do your everyday activities. There are certain ways to lift, push or pull that put less stress on your back; changing the way you exercise, sit and sleep can help lessen back pain too.

3. Stay active. Spines are meant to move! Don't give up your daily activities like making beds, going to work or walking the dog. Once the pain subsides and you're feeling better, aerobic activities like walking, swimming and biking can keep you mobile.

4. Build your strength. You might not be ready to pump iron -- yet -- but once your back pain has lessened, it's a good idea to strengthen the muscles that support your back to help avoid future problems. In addition, strong hip, pelvic and abdominal muscles also play a role in a stronger and healthier back.

5. Remember to stretch. Sitting at a desk all day? Take a break every 15 to 20 minutes to get up and stretch. If you sit hunched forward working on your computer, stand up and stretch the opposite way. Yoga can be a helpful way to manage back pain, too, especially twists and downward dogs.

6. Trade in your heels. Wearing high heels, which create an unstable posture, can put pressure on your lower spine. Try flats or low heels that are less than 1 inch high.

7. Watch the scale. Being overweight can put extra stress on your spine. Eating smaller portions and filling up with vegetables and fruits can help you shed pounds and maintain a healthy weight.

8. Explore alternative treatments. Treatments like acupuncture, acupressure, massage and spinal manipulation may be helpful and beneficial for chronic low-back pain.

Last updated: Oct. 18, 2012

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Dr. Dzwonczyk – Medical Director

Geriatric Medicine

NYS Veterans' Home at Oxford

Welcome to New York State Veterans' Home at Oxford
The New York State Veterans' Home at Oxford is a 242 bed facility located in Chenango County about thirty miles north of Binghamton NY. Situated on a sixty acre site, the Home has spectacular scenic views of rural countryland. We provide state of the art medical, nursing, psychosocial, and rehabilitative services to our residents. We also have several academic affiliations including the Upstate Medical Center College of Medicine/Clinical Campus at Binghamton.

About Us
The New York State Veterans' Home at Oxford is a long term care skilled nursing facility. We are located in Oxford NY, and we serve the Central New York Region. We provide care for veterans and their dependents. Our current building has 242 beds in seven different units, including our rehabilitation unit and our dementia unit. Our facility is clean and pleasant, and our staff is friendly and professional. We welcome you to a guided tour upon request!

Dr. Dzwonczyk – Medical Director

Dr. Dzwonczyk Receives Certification in Hospice and Palliative Medicine.

It is with great pleasure that we announce that Philip J. Dzwonczyk, MD has been certified in Hospice and Palliative Medicine. Dr. Dzwonczyk joins more than nineteen hundred fellow physicians to have achieved such certification.

Hospice and palliative medicine is the medical discipline of the broad therapeutic model known as hospice and palliative care. The discipline and model of care are devoted to achieving the best possible quality of life for the patient and family throughout the course of a life-threatening illness through the relief of suffering and the control of symptoms. Hospice and palliative medicine helps the patient and family face the prospect of death assured that comfort will be a priority, values and decisions will be respected, spiritual and psychosocial needs will be addressed, practical support will be available and opportunities will exist for growth and development. Hospice in the United States is an organized program that provides palliative care for terminally ill patients and supportive services to patients, their families, and significant others.

Dr. Dzwonczyk is the medical director of the New York State Veterans Home in Oxford. He recently completed the Harvard Medical School Program in Palliative Care Education and Practice and has worked for many years as an internist and geriatrician practicing in central New York. Dr. Dzwonczyk received his undergraduate degree from the University of Scranton and his doctor of medicine degree from Jefferson Medical College. He trained in internal medicine and psychiatry at the Mary Imogene Bassett Hospital in Cooperstown. He is a diplomate of the American Board of Internal Medicine and holds specialty certificates in Internal Medicine and Geriatric Medicine. He has achieved Certified Medical Director status from the American Medical Directors Association and is a Fellow of both the American College of Physicians and the American Geriatrics Society. Dr. Dzwonczyk has directed the medical care of patients at the New York State Veterans Home since 1993 and has been active as a medical educator. He is a Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine at Upstate Medical University and is active as a member of the faculty of the Geriatric Medicine Clerkship of the Clinical Campus in Binghamton. In addition to his interest in palliative care, Dr. Dzwonczyk has an interest in the evaluation and management of cognitive and mood disorders of the elderly.

The American Board of Hospice and Palliative Medicine was formed in 1995 to establish and measure the level of knowledge, attitudes and skills required for certification of physicians practicing hospice and palliative medicine. Eligibility requirements for certification are significant. In order to be eligible to sit for the certifying examination, applicants must have received prior major specialty certification, practiced at least two years following residency, worked as a member of an interdisciplinary team for at least two years and have directly participated in the active care of at least fifty terminally ill patients in the preceding three years. Alternatively, applicants must have completed specialty fellowship training in palliative medicine. The fellowship training program must be at least one year in length and must meet the established voluntary standards for such a program.

ABHPM conducts its Certification Examination in Hospice and Palliative Medicine annually at multiple sites through the United States. Currently, 1908 physicians have been certified by virtue of meeting certification requirements, including successful completion of this examination. A listing of currently certified physicians may be viewed on the Boards website at www.ABHPM.org.

Information on the American Board of Hospice and Palliative Medicine may be obtained from the website at www.ABHPM.org or by call (301) 439-8001.

Welcome to New York State Veterans' Home at Oxford