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In association with the National Post, we are pleased to present the first of several Patient Diaries where our customers have shared their stories in an interview with the National Post.


Robert Davies is an active 74-year-old, but that hasn’t always been the case. Three years ago, he herniated a disc while digging a trench at his cottage in North Bay, Ont. In the same incident, he also suffered nerve damage to his leg.

“When I was young I abused my back doing all kinds of feats but for the most part it has been good to me,” he says from his home in Markham, Ont. “But this injury left me in constant pain, sleeping in a chair for five weeks and with only 20% capability in my right leg.”

According to Michael Ho, doctor of chiropractic and acupuncture, and founder of DrHoNow.com, a Dr. Ho’s Wellness Products company in Markham, Ont., back pain is the No. 1 cause of disability in North America. Eight of every 10 adults experience lower-back pain at some point during their lifetime, he says.

Five bones, called lumbar vertebrae, make up the lower spine. These vertebrae not only support the body, they protect the spinal cord and nerves. Between the vertebrae are discs filled with fluid that act as shock absorbers.

The most common cause of back injury is using the muscles for activities they are not accustomed to, such as heavy lifting, sports, gardening or, as in Davies’ case, twisting while lifting. The result is muscle spasm, sprained ligaments, or herniated (slipped) discs. Herniation occurs when the fluid filled discs between the vertebrae bulge out and press on the nerves. It’s this pressure on the nerves that causes pain.

Although it may seem counter-intuitive, lower back pain can also be caused by inactivity.

“Our modern lifestyle means that we sit far too much,” says Ho. “Bad posture and bad muscle tone lead to a weak, tight back. Lack of movement causes premature degeneration of joints and discs. This brings instability and a gradual buildup of lower-back pain over time. Any sudden movement can act as a trigger causing excruciating pain.”

Fearing it will exacerbate the problem, many stop doing the activities they enjoy, whether that is gardening, walking, playing with their grandchildren or taking driving tours.

“It’s a self-perpetuating problem that can cause more tension in the muscles, which in turn will make their back get worse.”

Davies was determined not to lose his independence or the lifestyle he loved. It took six months of work to get his injured back and leg back in shape.

“To relieve the pain and retrain the nerves in my leg, I followed an exercise and walking program recommended by my physiotherapist. Now I walk three times a week, take the stairs instead of the elevator, and exercise daily,” he says. “I also make smart decisions when working with my back by limiting the weight I lift and using a special back belt to stop me getting into trouble.”

Supporting and protecting the back during activity are key to preventing further injury, promoting healing and ultimately enjoying life says Ho.

“It’s about relieving chronic muscle tension, releasing pinched nerves, decompressing the spine and improving circulation, whether the problems are caused by injury, sciatica, degenerative discs or scoliosis.”

As a retired engineer, Davies says he appreciates the mechanics of the Dr-Ho’s 2-in-1 Back Relief Belt he uses. When it’s pumped up, it supports and aligns his back while allowing him the flexibility to split wood, drive, carry groceries or simply watch television.

“The belt takes the weight off my spine, prevents slouching and allows me to reinvent myself once in a while,” he quips. However, he makes clear the belt isn’t the whole answer to lower-back problems.

“It’s part of a tool kit that includes slowly integrating exercise back into your routine then, over time, learning the techniques that work best to relieve your symptoms and keep your back in good order.”

  • Donna

    September 21, 2015 at 3:22 pm
    will medicare pay for your back brace?
    • DR-HO'S

      September 24, 2015 at 1:20 pm
      Hi Donna,

      The 2-in-1 Back Relief Decompression Belt is approved by Medicare, and you may qualify to have this covered. The coverage is not for the $179.96 that you see on our website, which is a special price for customers who wish to purchase the belt without going through their insurance. This is because there are other factors in the pricing set by Medicare, and coverage price varies by state. They typically cover 80% and your secondary insurance may pick up the remaining balance.

      If you have any further questions or would like to start up a claim, please give us a call at 1-877-374-6669, or fill out the form at https://www.drhonow.com/insurance/

      Kind regards,

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