Are you having back pain with any of the following?

  • Severe pain, weakness or tingling in your leg(s).
  • Difficulty stopping urination or loss of control of bladder or bowels.
  • Unexplained fever, nausea or vomiting.
  • A history of cancer or unexplained weight loss.

We understand that you are experiencing one or more of the health issues that might be impacting your back pain.

We recommend that you discuss these health issues with your doctor before proceeding with this program.

Once you are cleared by your doctor to do this program, we hope it helps you find relief from your back pain.

Falls and Fall Prevention

Overview

Falls are one of the most common reasons for injury among older people. Estimates show that 1 in 10 falls causes a serious injury such as a hip fracture.

But there are things you can do to prevent falls. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle through regular exercise and an active social calendar can help you avoid serious injury from a fall. Staying active with exercises such as yoga or weight training not only helps with your balance but also keeps your body strong.

Making simple changes to your everyday activities and home environment can help decrease hazards that can lead to a fall. These changes include keeping walkways and stairs free of clutter and having nonskid surfaces in the bathtub or shower. Wearing sensible rubber-soled shoes can also reduce your chances of a fall.

Another way to reduce your risk of serious injury is by keeping your bones healthy and preventing osteoporosis (thinning bones). Many diets do not provide enough calcium or vitamin D. Adults over the age of 50 need 1,200 mg of calcium and 1,000 to 2,000 IU of vitamin D (preferably vitamin D3) every day in order to keep bones strong. If you are not getting enough, supplements can help. Your doctor can help you choose which supplements are best for you.

Risk Factors

You may be at an increased risk of taking a fall or having a serious injury as a result of a fall for several reasons. These factors include:

  • Having osteoporosis
  • Having arthritis
  • Taking medications that make you drowsy or sleepy
  • Suffering from depression
  • Having limited vision or hearing
  • Experiencing fluctuations in blood pressure
  • Any condition that causes muscle weakness

Prevention

Falls are often caused by hazards that are easy to prevent. This checklist helps you find and fix potential hazards in each room of your home.

In living areas

  • Move furniture so that your path through a room is clear.
  • Remove throw rugs or use a nonslip backing for them.
  • Keep newspapers, magazines, and small objects off the floor.
  • Remove items such as pet toys, pet food, and water bowls from the floor to prevent tripping hazards.
  • Coil or tape wires together near a wall.

In the kitchen

  • Move items in your cabinets so that the things you use a lot are at waist level.
  • Use safety step stools with handles, guardrails, and nonskid treads made for the purpose. Never use a chair as a step stool.

In the bathroom

  • Use a nonslip rubber mat in the tub or shower.
  • Install grab bars inside the tub and next to the toilet.
  • Install raised toilet seats, if possible.
  • Use night lights.

In the bedroom

  • Place a lamp within easy reach of the bed.
  • Use night lights.

On stairs

  • Keep the area clear of small objects.
  • Fix loose, broken, or uneven steps.
  • Use night lights and overhead lights as needed.
  • Use light switches that glow.
  • Ask for assistance in changing light bulbs, if needed.
  • Make sure any carpeting is firmly attached.
  • Install handrails on both sides of the stairs for the entire distance of the stairway.

In all the rooms of your home, garage, or work space, keep clutter to a minimum. Try to clean out things you no longer need or use on a regular basis.

Lifestyle Management

You can modify your daily activities to help prevent falls and to minimize the risk of serious injury in case a fall does happen. These steps include:

  • Wearing good walking shoes that provide support and don’t slip.
  • Remembering to stand tall.
  • Wearing a medical alert necklace or bracelet.
  • Addressing any foot problems.
  • Carrying a cell phone.
  • Keeping a list of emergency numbers near your home phone or programmed into your cell or home phone.

Maintaining or improving your balance through exercises like Tai Chi, Qi gong, or yoga can also improve your ability to prevent falls or serious injury from them. Two examples of balance exercises are:

  • Chair rise exercise. Scoot to the front of the chair. From a seated position, stand up slowly. Keep your back straight and lift your breastbone as you move from sitting to standing. Slowly return to sitting, bending at the hips and knees, still keeping your back straight. You can do this several times during the day to strengthen your back and leg muscles. Begin with 5 and work up to 15 to 20 repetitions.
  • Balance exercise. Practice balancing on one leg. For support, you can stand between 2 chairs, near the kitchen or bathroom counter, or in a doorway.

Staying engaged with friends and family and getting regular daily exercise are important ways to keep both your body and your mind energized. These activities also reduce the risk of developing depression and help minimize fall-related injuries.

Another way to reduce your risk of serious injury is by keeping your bones healthy and preventing osteoporosis (thinning bones). Many diets do not provide enough calcium or vitamin D. Adults over the age of 50 need 1,200 mg of calcium and 1,000 to 2,000 IU of vitamin D (preferably vitamin D3) every day in order to keep bones strong. If you are not getting enough, supplements can help. Your doctor can help you choose which supplements are best for you. 

In addition, you will want to have your hearing, vision, and blood pressure checked regularly. Check your vision and get new glasses if you do not see well. Poor vision or hearing can contribute to the risk of falls, while unexpected changes in blood pressure can lead to dizziness. Keeping your blood pressure under good control will help reduce the risk of sudden confusion or blackouts.

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If you have an emergency medical condition, call 911 or go to the nearest hospital. An emergency medical condition is any of the following: (1) a medical condition that manifests itself by acute symptoms of sufficient severity (including severe pain) such that you could reasonably expect the absence of immediate medical attention to result in serious jeopardy to your health or body functions or organs; (2) active labor when there isn't enough time for safe transfer to a Plan hospital (or designated hospital) before delivery, or if transfer poses a threat to your (or your unborn child's) health and safety, or (3) a mental disorder that manifests itself by acute symptoms of sufficient severity such that either you are an immediate danger to yourself or others, or you are not immediately able to provide for, or use, food, shelter, or clothing, due to the mental disorder.

This information is not intended to diagnose health problems or to take the place of specific medical advice or care you receive from your physician or other health care professional. If you have persistent health problems, or if you have additional questions, please consult with your doctor. If you have questions or need more information about your medication, please speak to your pharmacist. Kaiser Permanente does not endorse the medications or products mentioned. Any trade names listed are for easy identification only.