Low back pain affects about 80 percent of adults at some point in their lifetime1.
The pain can range from a dull, constant ache to a sharp sensation. Most low back pain is short term and lasts a few days to a few weeks and tends to resolve on its own with self-care. For some people, back pain lasts between 4 and 12 weeks; for those with chronic back pain, it persists for 12 weeks or longer.
If you or a family member is suffering from low back pain, try these tips to help find relief2:
- Improve sleeping position- place a pillow between your knees to keep your spine in a neutral position and relieve strain on your back. For back sleepers, put a pillow under your knees.
- Maintain good posture- Don’t slump over your keyboard, avoid sitting for long periods of time, sit upright with shoulders relaxed and body supported against the back of your chair, and keep feet flat on the floor.
- See a physical therapist- therapists can teach you specialized exercises to strengthen your core and show you how to sit, stand and move so your spine stays in proper alignment and helps alleviate strain on your back.
- Stay active- Exercise, such as swimming, walking or yoga, has been found to be an effective way to relieve back pain quickly. Check with your doctor before you begin any exercise.
Visit your doctor for pain that persists to determine the best treatment.
If you are considering a second medical opinion, click here to learn about Grand Rounds, a second opinion service offered with Starmark® self-funded major medical plan designs at no additional cost to members. By using Grand Rounds services, you can identify or confirm an effective treatment course, which may result in better outcomes and cost savings.
Grand Rounds is not an affiliate of Starmark or Trustmark® Life Insurance Company.
For more tips on lower back pain, click here.
1 Low Back Pain Fact Sheet. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke November 3, 2015. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/backpain/detail_backpain.htm
2 Managing Chronic Recurring Pain. WebMD. March 28, 2016.
Rushing around, worrying, planning, cooking, cleaning, scheduling and last minute obligations this holiday season may leave you feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, guilty, angry or tearful.
Be sure to put yourself on the list of things to do this year. Follow the 10 tips below especially when you aren’t feeling your best or have the added pressure of being around company.
- Say NO
- Accept help
- Don’t eat too much
- Don’t drink too much
- Don’t expect too much
- Practice self-compassion
Source: 10 Holiday De-Stress Tips. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/isnt-what-i-expected/201511/10-holiday-de-stress-tips. November 23, 2015.
Although the flu shot and frequent hand-washing can help prevent you from getting sick, they aren’t a 100 percent guarantee you won’t catch the flu or cold. Fortunately if you do get sick, knowing whether you have the cold or flu may help you treat the symptoms and feel better.
Flu symptoms listed below can be treated with over-the-counter decongestants, pain relievers and fever reducers or prescription antiviral drugs.
- Sore throat, cough or congestion
- Muscle aches, headache
- High fever (100 degrees or more)
- Vomiting and diarrhea
Cold symptoms listed below can be treated with over-the-counter decongestants, pain relievers and fever reducers.
- Sore throat
- By day four or five, a stuffy, a runny nose and cough are common
Need to consult with a doctor? For $45 or less, you can talk to a licensed doctor from home, work or on the road 24/7 with Teladoc®. Click here to learn more, visit their website at Teladoc.com or call 1.800.Teladoc (835.2362).
*The consult fee is the lesser of $45 or the office visit copay, if selected. The consult fee is subject to change during the plan year. When requesting a consultation, members should use their Starmark® medical ID number (found on their medical ID card) and reference Starmark (Trustmark) as their insurance provider when prompted by Teladoc. Teladoc is not an affiliate of Starmark or Trustmark® Life Insurance Company.
Source: Cold versus flu: what’s the difference? 11.22.16.
“Americans throw away about 25 percent more trash between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve.”
Three presents wrapped in reused materials could save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields.1
The holidays are spent with family and friends, but did you know they can also be a time to make a difference by going green? Be creative this holiday season by incorporating some of these sustainable ideas:
- When decorating, use LED strings of lights; plug lights into a timer; and purchase artificial trees, wreaths and garland.
- Use fewer resources:
- Shop online
- Bring reusable bags on shopping trips
- Combine several trips in one or consider using mass transit or carpooling
- Give gifts that are energy-efficient with rechargeable batteries, recyclable or made of natural products
- Use creative materials for gift wrap, including scarves, fabric, hankerchiefs, old maps, sheet music, reusable tins or other home or garden items
- Send email cards, reuse old cards or buy cards that are made from post-consumer content
- Research sustainable food choices in your area and buy locally if possible
- Give in ways that support your community- tickets to local theater performances, concerts, sports events, local spa, museum memberships
- Give your time and skill- coupons for household chores, meals, gardening, cleaning
- Donate to a charity or service organization in the name of a friend or relative that supports that cause
If you haven’t already, be sure to opt into the Starmark® Document Center (via the Starmark website) to go paperless and conveniently get all your important documents online.
1Go Green for the Holidays. http://www.cdc.gov/features/greenholidays/ November 21, 2016.
Preventing Injury While Working Out
The old adage, “no pain, no gain” is not always true with exercise. Help prevent an injury or any further damage by paying attention to your body and any pain during an exercise session. The longer you wait, the more chronic it can become and could lead to longer recovery times or even lead to other pains or injuries. Stop what you are doing if you feel the following types of pain during your workout:
- Sharp pain: sharp or stabbing pain is usually an indication of something not functioning properly in that body system. If the problem persists, check in with your doctor.
- Pain with swelling: if pain is associated with swelling, it may be an indication of a more serious issue. Inflammation is our body’s way of healing; however, if the swelling doesn’t go away or returns with activity, there is likely continued injury to that tissue or area.
- Localized pain: for pain that seems to be localized and occurs consistently with a specific exercise, consult your doctor.
- Pain that gets worse during your workout: stop any exercise when you feel pain gradually getting worse the longer or more intensely you exercise. If you reached a level of pain of 5 on a 10 scale, stop what you’re doing.
- Painful pops: if you have pain along with a pop noise, it can be an indication of a tear of a ligament or tendon or partial dislocation. Some noises may be normal, however, like clicking or grinding in the shoulders, knees or other joints, as long as they are not accompanied by pain.
If you don’t see an improvement within a week or two, consider making an appointment with your doctor.
Watch a video about how Angela, who is an avid runner, suffered from hip dysplasia. She tried Grand Rounds®, a second opinion service, and as a result started a new course of treatment that has allowed her to live the life she always planned.
Grand Rounds is a service offered with Starmark® self-funded major medical plan designs. By using Grand Rounds services, you can identify or confirm an effective treatment course, which may result in better outcomes and cost savings.
Grand Rounds is not an affiliate of Starmark or Trustmark® Life Insurance Company.
The healthcare system can be complex, but with a little work, savvy consumers can receive quality care for less. Consumers are now encouraged to approach medical care as they do other purchases – shopping for not only quality, but also price. Doing so could mean the difference between paying $150,000 for a procedure or $30,000 for a procedure.
Despite the complexity, there are things you can do to get better healthcare for less. Here are additional ways to save money on healthcare:
- Ask a lot of questions. Ask questions such as: “Is this test really necessary?” “Is there a generic version of that medication?” “Are there less expensive alternatives to this treatment?” “How much is this procedure going to cost?” And, finally, ask who is going to be involved in the procedure to make sure they’re in your network.
- Know what your health insurance policy covers. Look into what your health plan covers before you need to use it. Find out about preapprovals, emergency room visits, copays for doctor visits and coinsurance for procedures.
- Ask for prices upfront, and ask about discounts for cash payments. This may require calling your doctor or hospital to find out what a procedure or an office visit will cost. Remember, some doctors and facilities will offer a discount if you pay cash.
- Get copies of all your medical test results and records. Bring these results and records with you to consultations to help cut the number of tests and office visits. Your doctor will also be able to review your test results and can advise you immediately rather than needing to set up another appointment after test results arrive.
- Negotiate big medical bills. If you go into a hospital or undergo an expensive procedure, get an itemized bill, preferably before you leave the hospital. Once you’ve made sure it’s free of errors, ask the hospital billing department for financial assistance, a discount for paying in cash or a payment plan.
View this previously published article for other ways to save.
Source: Adapted from U.S. News and World Report. 12 Simple Ways to Save Money on Health Care. 1/2015.
Depending where you live, fall means changing weather, colder nights and falling leaves. Make your life a little more green and reduce your carbon footprint with these ideas.
- Clean up the leaves in your yard with a rake versus using a leaf blower to save energy. Consider reusing the leaves as mulch for your plants or compost them to enrich your soil.
- Turn down the thermostat and keep it at 68 degrees. This temperature allows your heating system to operate the most efficiently and can reduce the amount of energy used to warm your home and your carbon footprint. Resist turning the thermostat up and layer up with a sweater or snuggle up in a blanket.
- Bring your plants inside if they can’t survive the harsh outdoor weather. As an added bonus, plants can help freshen the air in your home.
- Plant some bulbs such as tulips, daffodils and hyacinths in October or November, to give the flowers enough time to take root and bloom come springtime.
- Donate old clothes from the summer season instead of packing them away if there is anything you don’t actually wear. Go through what fall and winter clothes you already have before buying new items.
- Practice green cleaning with eco-friendly cleaners or by making your own cleaning supplies, using ingredients such as lemons, vinegar and baking soda.