Week of:
Dec 09, 2016

Taming a tense back

Dear Alice,

The muscles in my back become extremely tense/tight throughout the term as I am cramped down studying all the time. What should I do?

— Posturing?

''Backne'' (Acne on my back)

Dear Alice,

I have very smooth, soft skin on my face, but my back is the total opposite. First of all, it is very uneven in its color and I get large pimples on it that can't be burst, and they sometimes hurt without any interference from me. I also have large pores on my back. What is wrong with my back's skin and what can I do to bring it back to its original state?

Is neck and back cracking all it's cracked up to be?

(1) Hi Alice,

I read the information on your website about knuckle cracking, and I was wondering if it applies to cracking backs and necks. I know that people often have their backs cracked by friends, etc. because it feels good and seems to relieve tension. Also, when my neck feels tight, I often turn it from side to side until it cracks and feels better. I've heard that chiropractors do some version of this, and call it "realignment." Is this safe? Is there a right or a wrong way to crack a back or neck? Is cracking your back/neck actually therapeutic in some way?

(2) Dear Alice,

As a college student, I sometimes spend long hours reading books or looking at computer screens, and often my neck gets stiff. Like many of my joints that get stiff, sometimes I crack my neck, like I would crack my knees or fingers when they feel stiff. I often wind up doing this several times a day.

My question is, could I do irreparable damage to my spinal system if I continue using this method to soothe a stiff neck? Could I wind up a paraplegic if I continue to crack my neck? Leak spinal fluid, etc.?

Sincerely,

Stiff-Necked Student

Disc is slipped, bulging, and herniated... Help!

Dear Alice,

What is the difference between a slipped disc, a bulge in a lumbar disc, and a herniated disc?

I am (for the past two months) experiencing severe back pain which radiated down my left leg. My MRI results came back and the nurse from the office said I had "disc disease" and "degeneration" as well as a "slipped disc." The doctor called me later and told me I have a "bulge" and an "arthritic" spine condition.

I am trying to understand what the various terms mean (slipped vs. bulge vs. herniated). Could you tell me what the distinctions are?