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Figure Skater Peggy Fleming, HealthSaver Says: Take Pains For Back Strains, 2nd Most Common Doctor Complaint
Date:9/5/2007

NORWALK, Conn., Sept. 5 /PRNewswire/ -- Back pain is second only to headaches as the most frequent complaint heard by doctors.

(Photo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20070125/NYTHFNS2 )

"If you're one of the 80 percent of Americans who know the inconvenience of back pain," said Peggy Fleming, Olympic figure skating champion and HealthSaver spokesperson, "you can find relief by addressing the cause, taking precautions and understanding your body's limits."

The most common cause of back pain is overstretched muscles or partially torn ligaments. "Such strains and sprains are often the result of using our backs in ways our bodies are not used to," said Brad Eggleston, vice president of HealthSaver.

If you stay healthy, lift loads properly and maintain correct posture, you are less likely to suffer the aches and pains of back problems.

Prevention

-- An inactive lifestyle is just as likely to cause or contribute to low

back pain as injury, age-related conditions and some sports, according

to the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.

Regular exercise will keep your back muscles strong enough to support

your spine. Try core-strengthening exercises such as yoga or weight-

bearing activities such as walking.

-- Be careful how you lift and how much you lift. Bend your knees to use

your leg muscles instead of your back. While lifting, keep your back

straight and do not twist. Twisting while lifting can cause a

herniated disk, which occurs when a disk between your vertebrae slips

out of place and places too much pressure on the nerves.

-- Stand tall. Proper posture puts the least strain on your back's

muscles and ligaments. By using your muscles more efficiently, you

also conserve energy and prevent fatigue.

Lifestyle Choices

-- Eat right and exercise for 30 minutes on most, preferably all, days of

the week. Excessive pounds strain back muscles.

-- Take time for yourself. Stress causes your back muscles to become

tense and can further increase existing pain.

-- Smoking not only doubles the risk of heart attack, but also reduces

blood flow to the lower spine, weakens bones and hinders the healing

process.

-- Back pain becomes more common with age, due in part to loss of bone

strength. Make sure your diet includes the calcium your bones need to

prevent osteoporosis, which can lead to fractures.

Treatment Options

-- As soon as possible after a back injury or the onset of pain, apply a

cold compress to numb the affected area several times a day for up to

20 minutes. After two to three days, switch to heat to relax tight

muscles and increase blood flow. The combination of hot and cold may

help reduce inflammation and pain.

-- Too much bed rest can actually slow the healing process. Go about your

normal activities, but avoid anything that aggravates the pain.

-- If back pain persists after several days, see your physician. If the

pain is due to an injury, or if you experience numbness in your legs or

simply can't move, see a doctor as soon as possible. A physical exam

and a review of your medical history will help your healthcare provider

diagnose the problem. Additional tests may be necessary. Fortunately,

fewer than five percent of back pain sufferers require surgery to heal.

Though a common health problem, back pain can be avoided. Take proper care to ensure your back stays healthy, because the back serves an essential role in mobility and protects the spine, nerves, muscles and ligaments. If you experience back problems, be careful not to overexert yourself. Your back, and overall health, depend on it.

Peggy Fleming, a spokesperson for HealthSaver, is one of America's most successful athletes. As the 1968 Olympic figure skating champion, she launched a career that has helped promote healthy living, breast cancer awareness and osteoporosis prevention. Peggy has been happily married for 36 years to Dr. Greg Jenkins, with whom she has two sons. They are also the proud grandparents of three grandsons.

HealthSaver, an emerging health care discount program, offers savings on prescriptions, vision care, complementary and alternative health care treatments, vitamins and supplements by mail and more than 1,500 fitness clubs nationwide, including select Bally Total Fitness, World Gym and Ladies Workout Express locations.

About HealthSaver

HealthSaver offers discounts of 20 percent on vision care, as well as discounts of 10 to 50 percent on prescriptions at participating pharmacies, 20 percent off complementary and alternative health care treatments and fitness club benefits. HealthSaver also offers discounts of 10 to 35 percent on dental care services at some 42,000 participating provider locations nationwide, including routine cleanings, X-rays, fillings, orthodontics, and even popular cosmetic dentistry procedures such as teeth whitening. Members can also save from 5 to 50 percent off vitamins and supplements by mail. Discounts are based upon reasonable and customary costs or manufacturers suggested retail price (MSRP) and are only available from participating providers. HealthSaver is not an insurance product or service. More information about HealthSaver is available online at http://www.healthsaver.com or toll free by calling 1-800-7HEALTH (1-800-743-2584). HealthSaver is offered by Affinion Group, a leader in the membership, insurance and loyalty marketing businesses, providing products and services that touch the lives of millions of Americans.

About Affinion Group

Affinion Group, http://www.affiniongroup.com, is a leading affinity direct marketer of value-added membership, insurance and package enhancement programs and services to consumers. With more than 30 years of experience, Affinion Group currently offers its programs and services worldwide through more than 5,200 affinity partners. Its diversified base of affinity partners includes leading companies in a wide variety of industries, including financial services, retail, travel, telecommunications, utilities and Internet. Affinion Group also has a growing loyalty solutions operation which administers points-based loyalty programs. Based in Norwalk, Conn., Affinion Group has approximately 3,000 employees throughout the United States and in 14 countries across Europe.


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