Twist and Ouch

Shoveling snow

Looking back at the place I've lived, I'm glad to be in Southern Nevada. We had a bit of winter like weather here last week. Temps so low my poor lemon and orange trees got frostbite, lost their leaves and spoiled their fruit. We even had a couple days here where we could see snow atop Black Mountain. We even had some white stuff fall from the sky. It really was not snow but just a temporary light dusting of sleet which melted almost immediately. This is a far cry from the winters I experienced growing up and living until the 1970's in Northeastern Ohio.

I decided to move West after the blizzard of 1977. The weather was so bad, I couldn't even drive home from work. I was lucky that my Aunt Frances lived between my work and my house and she put me up for the night until the roads were passable. When I got to my house the next day, I decided to shovel my walk which was loaded with snow. Unfortunately, I never got training on operating a snow shovel and slipped a disk in my lower back. What I did wrong (don't let this happen to you) was lift and twist to scoop and swing the loaded shovel away from the walk.

shovel snow properly

My mistake was costly. I got in to a doctor who prescribed pain pills and muscle relaxants to ease my suffering. I was laid up in bed for several days and finally went back to work. In 1978 I had an opportunity to go to work for the Southern Pacific Railroad in Southern California. I was glad to get away from the Northern climate. The lower back pain problem lasted for years. I tried chiropractors and even acupuncture to alleviate by recurring pain problems and had very little success. I was skeptical and leery of a surgical procedure involving my spinal column. Finally in 1986 I decided to allow a neurosurgeon to help me. The results of the minimally invasive micro surgery were excellent. I was sorry to have waited so long to get relief.

What I've gone through should offer some food for thought. If you are using your back for any type of lifting, be smart about it. DO NOT LIFT and TWIST. If you are lifting, keep the load close to your body and use your upper leg muscles as much as you can. If you live in an area where snow accumulates, get a snow blower to assist. An even better way to keep yourself safe would be to find a reputable and accomplished service to remove the snow for you!

This article was written by Jim Panik in collaboration with +Yale Creek Seasonal Care.

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